Category Archives: Just Blogging

Relationships

The topic of relationships has come up a lot lately. So I thought I’d share my views on what it takes to have a healthy relationship here.

The most difficult thing about relationships is they require two individuals who might have different views and ideas to get along. In nearly every growing relationship, there will come a time when there’s a disagreement, someone’s hurt or misunderstood and division happens. But there is one major thing I’ve discovered about reconciliation in a relationship:

If you want true relationship, you have to take responsibility for your part in any disagreement.
Matthew 5:23-24 says:
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

It doesn’t tell us, “If you did something wrong on purpose.” It says, “If your brother or sister has something against you.”  And if that’s the case, we’re supposed to make the first move. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Don’t assume it will blow over, and most especially, don’t tell yourself you’ve nothing to apologize for.

Whether it’s real or perceived, if your friend feels wronged, you need to take responsibility. Just apologize . . . sincerely. I’ve decided even if the problem is someone took my words wrong or out of context, I need to admit that I probably wasn’t paying attention to God or to their feelings. Not only do I need to apologize to my friend, I also need to talk to my heavenly Father, because if I’d been paying attention, He’d have kept me from saying the wrong thing or helped me form my sentences in such a way they wouldn’t offend.

The major problem with this part of the reconciliation is that in order for the relationship to be wholly restored, both parties have to be willing to admit they’re part of the problem. It takes two to fight.

Perhaps you feel like you were the one wronged. Maybe it’s the other person who said all of those offensive words. Is there a chance you misunderstood? Were you hurt by something that was said when other pressures were the real issue? Did you forget to stop and see the situation from the other person’s perspective? Each and every one of those things (and more) are reasons to take responsibility for part of the problem. Too many times we’re quick to take offense when no offense was intended. Not everyone says exactly what they mean, and even if they always do, sometimes our ears don’t hear it the way it was meant. If you are quick to take offense, take responsibility for that! When someone comes to apologize, and even if they don’t, reciprocate the apology. Take responsibility for your part of the schism and begin the healing process.

So often I see wonderful relationships thrown away because one person chose to hold on to the offense or put all the blame on the other person.  Time and time again I’ve witnessed one person apologizing for everything, even things that weren’t their fault, while the second person allows them to take all the blame. And you’d think that might work, you’d think as long as one person was willing to accept all the blame and apologize for it, the other could just maintain their innocence and move forward.

But it doesn’t work! I’ve never, ever seen it mend relationship.

Until both people are willing to admit they made a mistake, even if it was innocent and unintentional, the relationship will never be truly whole. It may have a bandage for a while, but the gangrene will grow, and eventually any kind of connection you had with the other person will disintegrate.

The only time there’s any chance of that working is in the case of abuse. If you are being abused or have been abused, please don’t look for your part in the abuse. You will never do anything to deserve to be beaten or verbally attacked. Yes, there may be other things you’ll need to take responsibility for to be whole yourself, but there is nothing anyone can ever do or say that constitutes or excuses abuse. And if you are a person who has to belittle someone with words, explodes when you’re angry or causes someone else pain to make your point, get help! You are an abuser, take responsibility so you can restore your relationships.

So, step number one in keeping a healthy relationship – recognize you aren’t perfect. Take responsibility for those times when your words or actions have caused a rift in the relationship. Acknowledge those occasions you’ve taken offense when no offense was intended. Apologize and forgive, and remember the one you’re in relationship with is just as human as you.

If you want more of my opinion on this topic, leave me a comment. I have more to say, but I’m not sure anyone even reads this, so let me know!

Blessed . . .

Some call it privileged. I call it blessed. I am thankful for the advantages I’ve had in my life, each provided to me by the culture in which I was raised. I don’t take for granted that I was brought up by two parents who loved me and gave me healthy boundaries that kept me safe, but allowed me to become my own person. I know not every person gets to have an extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and more to make them feel loved, appreciated and part of something bigger than themselves. I understand that because of my heritage I was able to learn things faster than some, and because of prayers that were lifted for me generations before I was born I am now living a life that some call privileged. I am humbled and in awe of this blessing I’ve been given, and I try to pass along my blessing to others when I’m able.

Not long ago I read a blog post by an African American woman. It was very well written. She had a healthy view of what she called white privilege. It was in response to a question a white male friend of hers had posed. If I could find the link again, I’d share it. She was eloquent in helping her friend understand his white male privilege.

Then yesterday I watched a video of what I assume was a professor attempting to teach a college aged group of individuals about privilege, and he had me clear to the end.

He started out with everyone in a single line facing him with a hundred dollar bill offered to the one who could get to him the fastest. Then he gave “advantages” to show what “privilege” is. Those who were raised in a two parent home were allowed to take two steps forward. A father being present, never having to worry about where the next meal was coming from and more gained each of the qualifying participants two steps toward hundred dollar bill. It was a beautiful example of privilege.

Then he lost me . . . at the very end he brought color and ethnicity into it. And while I will never deny these factors seem to effect some people groups more than others, these cultural differences defy color and ethnicity, and to bring those factors into the mix brings division where division doesn’t need to be.

Additionally, he missed an opportunity to show these folks how they could give themselves a boost when their culture tries to hold them back. Some of the young people took advantage of the two steps and made them leaps while others just took two normal steps forward. Several who got an advantage couldn’t have run fast if their life was on the line, while some left at the gate could have potentially passed even those who had a head start.

And life is like that. There are as many with “privilege” who take it for granted and waste it as there are those with none who use every speck as an opportunity to advance.

The professor also neglected to demonstrate that each of them have a bit of advantage over most of the world simply because they were raised in the United States of America. He didn’t ask who had running water and electricity. Some of those kids need reminded that as bad as they think they have it, there is always someone else who has it worse. And a few of those raised in those other countries have taken advantage of what they do have and have made it big in American sports, taking their new privilege back to their village and paying it forward.

I get it not everyone has all of the same opportunities as others. And I believe those who’ve gotten any blessing at all need to learn early to share those blessings with those who have less. Plus, I don’t want to minimize the despicable thing called discrimination, I realize it still exists, and it’s wrong . . . it’s just wrong. No one should be judged on the color of their skin, their gender, their religious or any other preferences. Every person who has integrity and is qualified and willing to do the job and work hard should be giving the same consideration.

However, I wish the media and those who are passionate about the discussion would start calling this divisive new title they’ve created what it really is . . . cultural privilege.  And I wish they’d stop making it sound like a bad thing. It’s a beautiful gift, one that should be cherished, not one to be ashamed of. It’s a gift that comes with a lot of responsibility, including the responsibility to help the less fortunate and treat every person with dignity and respect.

You see when we call it by what it is, we make it something that can be changed. If it’s white male privilege, I can’t overcome it. I can not change my gender. My black friend can not change his skin. But a family can change their culture. They can refuse to embrace those stereotypes which hold them back. They can put higher expectations on their children, and make them believe they can attain those expectations. Integrity can be taught and caught. Having a good work ethic can be instilled, and molding a person who believes He is a person of value can be accomplished. It’s more difficult when you are forced to live in a downtrodden culture, but it can be done. I know sometimes they’re hard to find, but there are churches who embrace every person who walks through the door and are just itching to help a family who wants to change their culture. One of my goals for my children was to surround them with a lot of adults who shared my values so they knew it wasn’t just me who had high expectations for them, and every mother in America can do that same thing.

It’s not white privilege. There are a lot of males of European descent who are living in poverty in America. Too many are caught in the culture of single parent homes and a latchkey lifestyle. More and more young people of every gender, color and ethnicity are turning to drugs and making unhealthy choices, and often it’s not their fault.  They are being raised in a culture that cultivates unhealthy choices.

I personally wish I could do more, but I do what I can. I try to mentor the young people Christ allows me to encounter, and I sponsor a couple of kids from other countries so they too can be raised out of the culture of poverty and realize someone from across the world cares.

It’s an elephant sized problem, but I believe it begins by taking the focus off of color, ethnicity and gender. Don’t tell kids they are automatically limited by things they can’t change. Help them to see that all of their limitations are just roadblocks, things that can be conquered with hard work. Yes, they may have to work harder than others, but changing color, ethnicity and gender are impossible, so let’s not give these any attention. The roadblocks the underprivileged face are not insurmountable, but they are roadblocks. There will be climbing, pushing, moving and hard work needed to get past them. And perhaps a little reminder of the proper way to eat an elephant . . . just one bite at a time.

 

It’s time . . .

I haven’t been here most of the Summer. Some of that is because it’s been a busy year. So much to do outside! It was such a beautiful Summer, not necessarily great for being poolside, but the temperature was tremendous and just enough rain that nothing turned brown in July or August.

But the main reason I wasn’t here was because I felt like I had nothing to say. And everything I thought about saying had the potential for someone to take it out of context and feel bad. Unfortunately, I’m still just co-dependent enough that the thought of someone being distraught because of something I wrote can completely shut me down.  So for the last few months I’ve been silent.

During the last few days, however, I’ve really felt as though it’s time to get back. I have ideas and aha moments almost daily, and not sharing them makes me feel anxious and depressed. Some I write in one of my journals (I have three or four), but often I want to just type . . . I can type so much faster than I can write.

OK . . . all that probably seemed like I was rattling on, but what it’s really done is given me a commitment to keep. It’s me publicly announcing (or as public as this gets since I really don’t have much of a readership), I’m going to start sharing here again on a regular basis.  It’s also a warning I guess that some of what you read here might not be what you want to hear. You are allowed to click off this page . . . I won’t even know. That’s why I put it here and don’t send it to any of my mailing lists. I save this space for my more controversial thoughts.  I guess what I’m really saying is . . .

I’m back . . .

Everlasting God

Today on the way home “Everlasting God” by Chris Tomlin played on the radio. At the end a child reads Isaiah 40:28-31. I praised God as the wee one read “Even the very young grow tired and weak. Young men stumble and fall. But the one who trusts in the Lord will have new strength. They will soar like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and never faint.”

I recently was relieved of being a full-time caregiver when my mother-in-law went to be with Jesus. Now, if you don’t know me, you have no idea that natural care giver just isn’t the way anyone would have ever described me. Talk to my siblings, they’ll tell you. It’s a gift that just wasn’t in my wheelhouse.

However, in the almost two years I was Mom’s primary care-giver and the years before that I took care of some of the little “details” of her life, I never felt overwhelmed or anxious.

And those are two things I DO feel from time to time. Much less often now . . . now that I realize when I begin to feel that way it’s because I’m running my own show, not trusting in my Creator.

In my life, anytime I start to feel overwhelmed to the point of anxiety, I discover it’s ALWAYS because I’ve taken on a task or a burden that my Savior did not ask me to carry.

I know not all anxiety is caused by running ahead of the Holy Spirit. Some people need help because it’s hormonal or caused by a deeper mental scar. But for me, almost all of my severe anxiety is a direct result of trying to do things on my own without Christ and without His permission. When I truly wait on Him, I do feel light enough to soar like an eagle. When I let Jesus lead, I have confidence. When God is in control, I don’t grow emotionally weary.

I want that peace and inner energy that comes from following the One who loves me more than I can imagine.

Open Letter to Professional Athletes Attempting to Make a Statement Against Racial Oppresion

Dear Athletes,
Today as I see photos of many of you on your knees on September 11, 2016 instead of on your feet, I am praising God that we live in a country where you are free to do just that. I am tremendously grateful to my Father in heaven for the freedom to make a statement without fear of repercussion from the government. However, I am also saddened by method you’ve chosen.

You see, like you, I often want to make a statement. I want to stand up for my Savior. I want to stand up for injustice and inequality. I want to stand up for scriptural values. But unlike you, I don’t have the platform or the fame for my statements to carry as far as you do.

You’ve made a statement, but unfortunately, it’s hollow. You are disrespecting an entire nation! Your statement tells me you don’t respect my uncles who died to help free your ancestors. Your statement tells me that my uncle who traveled underground for fear of his life when he stood up against slavery doesn’t matter. Your statement may be about black oppression, but to most of us it says “I don’t respect the majority of Americans who are trying to do the right thing.”

Yes, there is still racial oppression. No, our country is not perfect. However, the stand you are taking (or not taking) appears to be against the majority instead of the minority. The majority of police officers are not racially biased. They may be culturally biased in order to protect themselves, but for most it has nothing to do with race. The majority of employers do not look at race when they are hiring, most don’t care about color or ethnicity, most want anyone with integrity and a good work ethic.

If you want to take a real stand, use your platform to teach young people how to be more respectful. Help them see that we have to stand together and forget about race. Help them see there are good people who don’t care about race, help them search out those folks. Help them see that employers can’t afford to hire people who are going to cry “racism” every time someone of another race legitimately gets ahead. Go into the areas of oppression. Help train young people to be people of integrity, people of respect. Turn the tide, create a new culture the police don’t have to be afraid of. Be there with them when the police come out and show them how to treat good and bad officers with respect. Help them see that the best way to expose bad cops is to be respectful in large groups. Someone will be videoing . . . there always is. If the whole group is respectful and the cop is still a bad cop, they can take them down . . . one by one. If you want to take a real stand, take it against those of your race who are making all the rest who live in that same culture look bad. Let’s face it, every race, every profession, every ethnicity has that minority who make the rest of us look bad.

I want to expose people who I am linked to racially and culturally who have no integrity. I want people to know that even though I am an evangelical Christian, I do not support people who bully or belittle those who do not share my faith or values. I don’t do this by disrespecting those who are trying to do what is right!

If all of us who are like minded about people being treated with respect all just did that and showed the next generation to do that, we could make a huge difference. We need to stand together and teach the young people of this nation how to respect others . . . and most especially themselves. This business of showing disrespect because ONE other person showed disrespect has got to stop! You have the power and the platform to do it! And standing out of respect for those who’ve lost their lives defending your freedom and for a nation that, even with all its faults, is still the best place to live is a good start.

Your “stand” is dividing. Your “stand” is teaching young people to show disrespect. Your “stand” is your right! But it is not against those whom you are against. Those people don’t care! The people who are oppressing your race will oppress mine too if it serves their purpose. The people who are oppressing your race don’t care about the flag, the National Anthem or America. You are not hurting them. Those people are small minded, hateful individuals with no loyalty and no heart. The best thing we can do is to truly STAND and stand together.

Thoughts on Growing Old

The fact that for centuries people have been trying to find the secret to eternal youth and living forever is just more proof that God is who He says He is. Te search for the fountain of youth and cryogenics are just two of the most famous endeavors to sustain our human bodies. The fact that we believe eternal life is possible or desirable is just more proof that we have been created by the Almighty with a deep-seated knowledge that this life is not going to end. Someplace far inside each human is the innate knowing that we were intended to exist forever. So, we seek to make it true. We strive through life-saving measures in medicine, foods we eat, fads we try, make-up, creams and more to stay young and last eternally here on this planet.

But as I watch the aging process in my dog and my mother-in-law, I wonder why it is we want to remain in this shell forever. Why do we attempt to prolong this part of eternity instead of gracefully moving on to the next stage in the promise of everlasting life?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an “eyes on heaven” kind of person. In fact, I tell people all the time heaven isn’t enough to make me want to stay focused on Christ. It’s the blessings that following Him in this life bring that keeps me focused on His love that bought my redemption. But we talk about death as if it’s the end. We try to prolong our life here as if we’re being cheated if we die young (or even old).

Think of it this way . . . if you decided to go on a free cruise to the Bahamas, would you feel cheated because you missed your family while you were gone? And in heaven we won’t even miss anyone! I picture God’s timing (or the lack of time in heaven) to make it seem like we all get there at the same moment.

I’m not looking forward to the pain and “stuff” that growing old brings. Arthritis does not seem attractive, and I don’t want to lose my sight or my hearing. In fact, my vanity isn’t even looking forward to sagging skin and wrinkles.

On the other hand, I don’t want to think that death is the end or teach my grandchildren that it’s a sad thing. For a Christian death is like winning the lottery or a trip to your ultimate vacation destination, and it’s a place that the whole family is invited to come to someday if they want to! (I pray my whole family chooses to join me).

I don’t want to prolong the inevitable so far that I have no life here in the living. I see that so much. Just because we can put in a pacemaker, should we in every instance? I praise God for the technology that brings a quality life to those who have more to give. However, I wonder what our Savior thinks when we use the gift He’s given us to play God and keep the shell of a person breathing.

I’ll admit, I have more questions than answers about when it’s the right time to use the gifts and advances in medicine that God has blessed us with. All I do know is that I will never again say someone was “cheated’ just because they moved from this life to the presence of Jesus earlier than our human minds thought was fair. I will think twice, and pray with fervency before I automatically do “everything possible” to sustain this tent that we call a body. Instead I will remember these verses:
2 Corinthians 5:8 – We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
and
Revelation 14:13 – Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”

Guns . . . so controversial

I try really hard to never “attack” anyone on this blog or even make anything sound like I’m coming against any person. Instead I try to always keep my thoughts toward ideologies and such. This post may sound directed toward one person because of recent Facebook posts, and for that I’m sorry. But the sentiments are for just general and not meant to be attacking anyone. So, with that said . . .

There is a train of thought that believes that those who are pro-gun or own guns are fearful and/or angry. It’s a train I can’t get on and don’t believe, and I think those who truly embrace that ideology don’t really know true gun owners and their hearts. The majority of my friends own guns, use guns and/or collect guns. Not many (if any) are stock piling them. In fact, if you do the research, I’d venture to say that the stockpilers are those who own guns illegally or intend to use them for harm. Even if guns were banned from the United States, these folks would own and misuse deadly weapons.

Personally, I don’t know one angry or fearful gun owner. None of them live looking over their shoulder waiting for an opportunity to use a gun. However, like me, a person who doesn’t own a gun or choose to use a gun, they are cautious and vigilant, aware of their surroundings. I’m personally glad to know that there might be 25 people in a crowd of 100 who have a concealed carry. I know that should a crazy person come into the room threatening to injure innocents, they would be prepared. And I also know that if they could keep people safe without ever firing their weapon, all of my gun carrying friends would do so. Evidence shows that many times merely holding the “bad guy” at gunpoint until the authorities arrive is enough.

I’d like to ask those who are anti-gun, “Do you lock your doors at night? Do you lock your car at the mall or even in your drive?” If you answered yes to any of those three questions, I can’t help but wonder, “If you think my friends own guns because they are afraid or angry, are you afraid or angry when you lock those doors?” Because I lock my doors for the same reason my friends carry guns, not out of fear or anger, but because I want to be safe. My locks are because I am vigilant, because I know that there are people who don’t know Christ. There are people who are fearful and angry. I feel bad for them, but not bad enough to let them rob my house (hence a lock) or shoot up my family (hence a gun). If they allow me to help them (stop their behavior long enough for us to share love and respect), I would do that. But the church in Charleston, SC tried to share love with the young gentlemen who came into their service and it didn’t stop his behavior. Had he decided not to shoot up the place, those folks would have loved him into some self-esteem and understanding of how to live at peace with others. Instead, so many needlessly died. One gun on one church member could have probably held this young, troubled man at bay and perhaps allowed him to begin a healing process. Instead, even if he discovers the truth that his hatred and bigotry was wrong, he will always have to live with the blood on his hands. Jesus can forgive him, but will he ever be able to forgive himself?

Disarmament will only lead to government tyranny and giving power to the “bad guys”. You can hate guns. You can choose to not carry a gun. But to ask other sane, able bodied, caring people to lay down theirs is not only arrogant, but detrimental to your own safety. Believe me if you are in a movie theater and a gunman walks in, you’ll be thankful if the stranger sitting next to you ignored the “no concealed carry” sign when he came in the door.

Thanksgiving Reflections (not necessarily Thanksgivings)

These are some thoughts I’ve had today that I would normally post on Facebook, but I don’t want to clutter anyone’s timeline with negativity on a day when even I want to see positive Thankful thoughts . . .

  • Does anyone else want to make a list of grammar corrections to send to NBC for the parade commentators . . . you know, things like subject/verb agreement . . . ?
  • I can’t trust someone who comes to America and refuses to celebrate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday, it is a national holiday. Even if you don’t believe in God, you can be thankful.
  • I’m protesting stores being open on Thursday, but putting stuff in my online shopping cart. Is that hypocritical since some IT person is working today because you know all of us protesting the stores being open are going to overload the Black Friday sites?

I may add to this list as the day goes by . . . but it will probably be kept short because I really am thankful!