Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Memories

Everyone's got some kind of Christmas memories- whether they observe the holiday or not. Here's a walk down memory lane and a few things I remember:

- Feeling all warm and cozy sitting by the tree & watching snow falling outside the window.
- When I was very little (Before parents split) my Mom used to make Christmas very special. Dad was always gone trucking, but she would decorate late at night with garland, tree, ornaments, lights and tinsel. When we awoke the next morning, the whole trailer had been transformed into a Christmas wonderland.
- A couple of Christmases, my folks hid some of our gifts and we had to search the house for them. That was fun!
- My Aunt & Uncle always had a pretty tree with a train set up underneath it.
- Making popcorn strings, drinking cocoa, listening to Mantovani Orchestra play carols
- Watching Rudolph, Frosty & Charlie Brown Christmas Specials. It's a Wonderful Life was always a hit.
- Hearing Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Patty Paige, Julie Andrews, Jerry Mathis and the golden voice of Karen Carpenter on the radio
- Decorating the Christmas tree with my dorm roomate & listening to Manheim Steamroller's Christmas tapes
- Caroling with friends and performing in Handel's Messiah many times
- Eating cashews and pistachios out of pretty Christmas tins.
- Gathering in pajamas, wrapped in blankets to snuggle and listen to Christmas stories
- Driving around looking at Christmas lights.
- Christmas of '96 we had a blizzard in PA- snowed in with my husband's family. We were all stuck for 2 wks and it was great. Nice memories were made. Little did we know at the time it was my Mother-in-law's last Christmas on earth.
- Serving Chrismas Dinner at a homeless shelter and eating with the people there.
- Taping Christmas cards we receive on the wall. We get fewer every year. E-mails are not the same!!! You can't tape them on the wall and enjoy them. There's just something special about getting something in the mail. (Due to the hectic pace of our lives this year, I didn't send out cards. Feel bad about this, but maybe next year?)
- Sharing Christmas with our kids and seeing their delight. Hearing them sing carols.
- The joy of handing some stranger $50 in Walmart and saying "Have a Merry Christmas". I LOVE to see their reactions!!!! Wish I had more money- I'd do that more often.
- Being 'Mary' for pageants 4 years in 1 decade because I was always quite pregnant during December.
- Mistletoe- I'll say no more.....
- Big Christmas dinners with family & friends.
- Grandma B's Christmas cookies

Christmas Future:
- I'd like to take my kids on a sleigh ride and sledding- they've never been!
- I want to see the 'Transiberian Orchestra' in concert
- I want to attend a live Nutcracker Ballet
- I'd like to make a Christmas album
- I'd like to find a place to ice-skate (won't be in TN or GA) where they play Christmas music
- I want to adopt a goat, cow or chickens to send to families in third-world countries through World Vision.
- I'd love to participate in a live nativity someday
- It would be neat to have a house big enough to hold a large family gathering...
- Starting a Christmas Tree Farm
- Spending the holidays in Ireland & Scotland
Do you have any Christmas memories or dreams you'd like to share?

Friday, December 22, 2006

It's That Time of Year Again!

Guess I'm getting older, but the hustle and bustle I used to find so exciting totally exhausts me! As a child, I was blissfully ignorant of the behind-the-scenes work that went into making a Merry Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy people and being in public, but shopping the Mall until your feet hurt and standing in line for 45 minutes at Walmart is ridiculous! Traffic in our little city is crazy right now! I love celebrations, just not all the busy-ness that goes along with them. I think it should be a time just to chill out and breathe a little.
I find there are two approaches to the current season. On the far right of the religious scene, we have militant Christians protesting "Put the Christ back in Christmas", while on the far left we have people screaming that Christmas is a "Pagan" holiday- an abomination. Enough already. Why can't we just let people be and observe as they see or don't see fit? Why the militant attitudes about a holiday meant to be filled with joy & peace? Yes, I've studied with Jehovah's Witnesses (was one for 2 yrs) We didn't observe Christmas, birthdays or say the pledge of allegiance- thought God was asking this of us. We led a bland existence and felt quite the self-righteous martyrdom for our abstainance.
Honestly, I really don't give a rip what the "supposed origins" of Christmas are- I've heard every argument under the sun for and against the celebration of Christmas. Well, I didn't live in the time when it all got started. All I know is what it means to us today. Christmas is a time to connect with friends & family- a very deeply spiritual time for me, but not everyone feels that way and God gives them that right. Having the heart of Christ in us means being able to look anyone in the eye and wish them a "Happy Holiday" and truly mean it- regardless. In the name of peace and goodwill, my family and I will be singing 3 songs for a Christmas program being held by the very church that caused a LOT of our problems last year. They invited us and we are singing for them. Not going to rejoin them, but we want them to know we forgive them for what they did and wish them a Merry Christmas. Not easy after all the hurt, but in my heart I know it's the right thing to do.

Those who bash Christmas as being pagan- in the name of being Biblical, had better go all the way with their reasoning:
Where in the Bible, does it command wedding ceremonies & honeymoons?
Where does it say we should have Thanksgiving Day?
Where in the Bible does it command that we register to vote or have a Driver's Licenses?
Where does it say you have to wear a dress or a 3 piece suit to worship the Lord?
Where in the Bible does it endorse the Pipe Organ as the official church instrument?
Where does it say we should have a middle name?
Where in the Bible does it say to observe birthdays or wedding anniversaries?
It doesn't. So are all these things "Pagan"? Or because Christians start some of these traditions, does it mean God is offended?? I think not. I've written along these lines before... All I know is that my Bible says God is love and I do not see Him in the angry faces of debators & protestors.

There are people out there whom I refer to as 'religious scientists'. (not to be confused with Scientologists) They are constantly out on the fringe of paranoia studying every religious conspiracy theory-not in depth, or with well-rounded perspectives, but just enough to consider it a cause legitimate enough to go around lecturing any poor soul who crosses their paths. They consider themselves "in the know" about virtually every topic politically, historically and Biblically and love to set everyone else straight. I was once very outspoken for several religious "causes". Once you catch a true glimpse of Who God Is, everything else just fades in comparison. I have no higher cause than seeking God, learning what it really means to live and love. Any theory or mindset that makes me think of myself as better, smarter or holier than someone else needs to be closely examined...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Silence is a Treasure!

As a Full-Time worker & busy Mom of 4, it seems my life is quite noisy! Cell phones ring, doors slam, car alarms go off, loud music plays, TV's blare, dogs bark, children cry- everywhere there's a constant stream of chatter. It's rare these days to stand in line at the store without hearing someone talk on the phone. Can't even do the bathroom thing in peace without being captive audience to the whole story of Torrie's big break-up because, like, the gal in the stall beside you is, like, spilling drama on her phone. First of all, I don't get it! How on earth does she manage to keep from dropping her cell in the jon? (There are times I wish it would happen- especially when my girls are with me- just to have a little quiet for 5 mins and avoid the over-education of my daughters young minds.) Cell phone usage, though a necessary evil, is often the bearer of T.M.I. (Too Much Information) I'm regularly forced to overhear someone describe details of their colonoscopy, ingrown toenail procedure, etc. over the phone in the lobby of the YMCA. Do we regard our privacy so lightly these days? Try to have a rare, intimate evening out with your man, while the chick next table over is yakking on her phone- relaying everything the other party says to her date. We all but stood up and cheered when they left! I'm not the only one who's life is full of noise pollution. I feel like a misfit in today's crowded, fast-paced society. Perhaps Trailady was born in the wrong century?
So, I read once more in my 'Native American Wisdom' book and find a chapter about Words & Silence. As a speaker, poet and writer, I love words- they are a gift. However, I believe there's such a thing as too many, or overuse of words. As an editor I learned that often we use too many words to make even a simple point. Language is a gift to be used wisely. So here goes, from the heart of our Natives:

"The first American mingled with his dignity a singular humility. Spiritual arrogance was foreign to his nature and teaching. He never claimed that his power of articulate speech was proof of superiority over "dumb creation"; on the other hand, speech is to him a perilious gift.
He believes profoundly in silence- the sign of a perfect equalibrium. Silence is the absolute poise or balance of body, mind and spirit. The man who preserves his selfhood ever calm and unshaken by the storms of existence-- not a leaf, as it were, astir on the tree, not a ripple upon the surface of shining pool-- his silence, in the mind of the unlettered sage, is the ideal attitude and conduct of life... To maintain silence is the cornerstone of good character." - Ohiyesa of the Santee Sioux

"Silence was meaningful to the Lakota, and his granting a space of silence before talking was done in the practice of true politeness and regardful of the rule that "thought comes before speech."
And in the midst of sorrow, sickness, death or misfortune of any kind, and in the presence of notable and great, silence was the mark of respect. More powerful than words was silence with the Lakota. His strict observance of this tenet of good behavior was the reason, no doubt, for his being given the false characterization by the white man of being stoic. He has been judged to be dumb, stupid, indifferent, and unfeeling.
As a matter of truth, he was the most sympathetic of men, but his emotions of depth and sincerity were mixed with self-control Silence means to the Lakota what it meant to Disraeli when he said, "Silence is the mother of truth." for the silent man was ever to be trusted, while the man ever ready with speech was never taken seriously." - Chief Luther Standing Bear of the Teton Sioux

I love to sit in silence, listening for the whisper of wind in the trees or the soft sound of falling snowflakes. There have been nights on my back deck where I sit in contemplation and hear the flapping of bat wings as they eat bugs around the barn light. I will greatly miss this while we live in the city. God, I sure hope this is REALLY temporary. My spirit wilts when I'm fenced in... I pray my journey will someday lead to the wilds of Montana.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


I think, therefore I exist,
I breathe, therefore I am alive,
I bleed, therefore I know pain,
I laugh, therefore I remain hopeful,
I need, therefore I am human.

~ PW

To be limited by flesh and blood mortality is a challenge to all. There is a deep hunger in us that seeks to be filled and so we try all sorts of things and hook-up with all kinds of people in order to find fulfillment. Lessons are learned and we react to life in one of two ways:

1) We reject ourselves, focusing on percieved flaws and wallowing in guilt and shame. We constantly reinvent ourselves in hopes of finding just the right lifestyle formula (job, church, mate, car, house) to feel happy, earn more acceptance from others and convince God not to burn us up. We remember our shortcomings, often doing penance through great deeds and sacrifices in order to prove to ourselves and to God that we are good.

2) We accept that we are weak, imperfect beings and love ourselves anyway. We view our mistakes as learning experiences and are not afraid to move on, trying different things and weighing out many thought processes. We come to realize that in order to love our neighbors, we must first embrace ourselves. We relax into our existence and enjoy living.

I ask, which of these two approaches is most healthy? God gave us minds and He wants us to use them. We should not be spoon-fed our beliefs, blindly accepting whatever we are taught. We must ask, seek and knock in order to gain truth. We must read, pray and weigh things out for ourselves. Sometimes, we may reach incorrect conclusions, but Grace allows us the opportunity to explore our faith. God is not impressed with our martyrdom. We cannot force His hand to bless us. He loves because that is Who He is. He forgives and saves, because He is merciful- not because we earn it.

Life is too short to constantly feel bad about ourselves and be down on others. I do not believe this is the will of God. Either He is big enough to save us from ourselves or He isn't. There is no middle ground. That is the reality I am facing... I choose to believe God can handle my sin and change my heart. I choose to relax and live my life abundantly.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Go Figure!

To all my readers: I'm not perfect, okay and I'm the first to admit it. I make mistakes everyday. I'm just a lady on a journey and I do not perfectly live out what I have learned. (Who does?)

Apparently, "Ro" is a real person who claims his first comment was meant as sincere not as sarcastic. Sometimes when you read a comment from someone you don't know, it can sound either way. I'm a fiesty girl who is on the defensive right now. I am painfully aware of my shortcomings. There have been more than enough people wanting to bestow their wisdom upon us- usually by telling us how we are doing things ALL wrong and offering us cute little cliche statements that amount to a hill of beans when you are feeling devastated. Not a great way to help people who are down to tell them they are on the wrong path or being stubborn. Anyway, my response to Ro was meant to set a boundary while being somewhat humorous, as for all practical purposes it seemed he was a flamer- if I for a moment thought he was legit, I would never have responded to him in that way. (I deleted several nonsense comments lately that are not worth repeating- from bloggers I don't know and spammers.) If Ro is a genuine person, then I welcome him.

Anyone can disagree with me on this blog as long as it's done respectfully- and many have. I am open to a variety of opinions...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

One Step at A Time...

Our house sold! We won't come out with tons of equity, but that's to be expected since we only lived here 2 yrs. Jay has been driving a 1985 auto for 2 yrs now- it's literally falling apart. We've come out far enough ahead to get a new (used) vehicle, start our savings toward a future home-building project and give a large chunk to our Producer over in Nashville. Yes, we are moving forward with our CD! Pieces of the puzzle seem to be falling into place.... slowly, but surely....

Gave our chickens away to the neighbors and they wished us well. Found out, in addition to the racoons and possums that were killing our hens outside, two chicken hawks found a way into our barn and were wiping out the chickens inside! Smart critters! Though I don't like what they were doing, I do respect their intelligence in figuring out how to perch on the side of the barn, squeeze through a small gap between the wall and the roof to get in and feed. Amazing!! We won't have chickens again until we are able to build a home in the country and a proper barn to house them. Chalk this lot up to experience.

Gave my notice at the YMCA today- my last day there will be Feb 2. We will be renting a house in GA until we get back on our feet financially. It's in town (big sigh) but only temporary. I will cut way back on my hours, or perhaps not even work after we move. Hate to switch the kids schools halfway through the year AGAIN, but that's unavoidable.

The Praise Dance recital went very well. We did 2 songs: 'Come Holy Spirit' and 'In this Sanctuary'. My husband- who tends to be very unemotional came up hugging me in tears afterward saying, "That was so beautiful Baby, I was sure blessed by that ministry. You girls did a great job". He was not the only one, so we feel that strongholds were broken that night in the name of The Lord. Of course, there were a few 'holier than thous' totally offended by our slow, worshipful routines, graceful arm movements and SLOW, conservative songs, but I guess that's always to be expected. Can't please everyone. My question to these people is always, "When did God make YOU an authority over the Bible?" The Bible repeatedly talks about praising the Lord in the dance. Miriam danced, David danced, it's likely that Jesus Himself, being of Jewish heritage also danced. There is NO sin in movement- those who can't separate Holy dance from sexual club dancing are no experts!! So, I'm totally continuing this activity- unless God Himself speaks to my heart, I will continue to lift my hands and praise Him in this way. Not sure where I am with the whole religious thing- still sorting it out. The things I've witnessed/experienced the past 2 years have really BLOWN my mind in that respect and have reshaped my thinking. People can claim to be Christian, but actions can show otherwise. The wounds go deep and I'm sick of people saying we have no right to feel anger. When they say that- it's a slap in the face. In essence they are saying, "You shouldn't have any feelings. You have no rights. Snap to it and forget all about it." This is highly insensitive. It's kinda hard to "forget all about it" when you have to live with the results of their mistreatment on a daily basis. I can be angry about what happened without hating anyone. Yes, it's possible! The Bible says, "Be angry, but do not sin". Here's what I've learned recently:

1) Being Christian gives NO right to judge or condemn people who don't think like you.
2) Being Christian doesn't mean you have a right to exert your influence/control over others.
3) Being a Christian doesn't mean you have all the answers.
4) Being Christian doesn't mean being preachy all the time.
5) Being Christian doesn't mean you won't suffer- even if you pay a faithful tithe. There are NO guarantees in this life for Christians or non-Christians. Sunlight and rain fall on the Godly and Ungodly alike.

PS. "Ro Hunter" and anyone else who wants to leave nasty, negative little comments just out of the blue, I will not take you seriously. I will delete you- so don't waste your time! I don't mind people respectfully disagreeing with me, but ignorance and backhanded comments are not welcome here. Go chase yourself!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Thought Provoking Poetry...

Don't look for the flaws as you go through life;
and even when you do find them
It is wise and kind to be somewhat blind,
and look for the virtue behind them
For the cloudiest night has a hint of light
Hope somewhere in shadow is hiding
It is better by far to hunt for a star
than the spots on the sun abiding.

The world will never adjust itself
to suit every whim to the letter
Some things may go wrong your whole life long,
and the sooner you know it the better.
It is folly to struggle with the Infinite,
and go under at last while you wrestle
The wiser ones shape unto God's plan,
as the water shapes into the vessel.

My Daddy wrote a letter- not to me but to my husband. This is a RARE thing. I can count on one hand the number of letters I have ever received from my Dad over the years so this is BIG. His letter packet included a book and this old poem. Author is unknown. I really like it though and of course it's special to finally hear something from my Dad during this trial.
Folks, it's no exaggeration to say that our lives have been a terrible struggle, all but completely unsettled the last 14 yrs following the radio ministry all over the country and the various challenges that brought. However, the last 5 yrs took the cake! Anything that could go wrong did and now we're moving AGAIN! We tried so hard to 'Count it all joy', but eventually you get worn down to nothing and the effort taxes an exhausted mind, body and spirit until it can no longer make the choice to be hopeful. We know what it feels like to be stretched to the breaking point and held there.

Last night on my way to work I cried. Evenings used to be a special gathering time for us over the years- even when Jay couldn't be home, the kids and I would read or tell stories, watch a movie, play games or sit by the fire. Now because of my crazy work schedule, I miss out on that a lot. I pounded the steering wheel and shouted to God, "What do you want from us? Tell us and we'll do it, but You've got to give us some kind of indication what Your plan for us is and help something work out in our favor. I can't live this way any longer!" A sense of calm came over me- I cannot describe it except to say that I suddenly felt quite warm inside and calm- my anger and frustration evaporated. The Voice that speaks inside me said, "Wait just a little longer... I'm not done with you or Jay. I still have a purpose for you and I will bring things to pass for your good." (I still feel a sense of peace.)
Our house is for sale- take a virtual tour of our property here: We like this place, just can't afford it without killing ourselves to pay for it, so it must go. We are currently in serious negotiations with one of several potential buyers right now, but had NO IDEA where to go from here. Obviously because of our current financial situation we aren't coming out with much equity, so our options were quite limited. When I got home last night, my man told me that we now have a place to rent down in Georgia and that he will be working in greater capacity with a businessman we know and trust. This means, we will have a lot more money and I won't have to work- or at least not so many hours away from home. Still don't have all the answers, but this is definitely a step in the right direction!!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 09, 2006


"In the end, you're measured not by how much you undertake, but by what you finally accomplish." - Donald Trump

Easy for him to say- he's richer, more powerful and successful by far than many of us will ever be. In worldly terms he's a real giant of achievement. Truly, he worked his way up and deserves to enjoy his accomplishment.

Sometimes I feel like all I'll ever do is try and never succeed. As life drifts by year after year, I am beginning to realize that perhaps I will never accomplish any of my dreams. In a spiritual sense, I'm glad I'm not graded by God on how much I accomplish.

I still think that in this life we have a warped sense of success. The man with the most toys and the biggest bank account still dies. How many times we laughed, played and danced upon the earth and passionately caring for the people in our lives is more important in my book.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Native Wisdom: Good -vs- Evil

A Native American Elder was trying to describe the struggle between good and evil here on earth to his young Grandson.

"Good is a bear, evil is a wolf and the two are always fighting to decide who is stronger" said the Elder.

"Which one will win, Grandfather?" Asked the child.

To which the Grandfather replied, "The one you feed."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Thoughts of Mother Earth

Still reading my 'Native American Wisdom' book- lovin' it! Always intrigued by NA culture. I attended two friendship fires, have danced around the big fire with the natives of this land and traded friendship trinkets. I've listened to their stories, eaten the fry bread and ridden across the deserts of New Mexico at break-neck speeds on their Mustangs. It was a Native American who told me I could ride my horse through a herd of grazing deer while sitting straight & still in the saddle. The scent of the horse mingled with my scent and I passed unnoticed through the middle of a herd in the wilds of Northern Idaho- just as he said I would. Awesome!

Faith in God should expand, not narrow our points of view. The older I get, the more I understand the greatness of God, and feel connection with my fellow man and the earth around me. It is disturbing to see a lack of concern on the part of believers- not only for each other, but for conservation of our resources. God is our Father, and I agree with the Native view that earth is like our mother. God formed man from the dust of the earth. We were taken from her and fashioned into something that is functional and spiritual. She offers us food and shelter. When we die, our bodies decay, returning to oneness with her. In recent centuries, humanity has shown greed and disrespect for the earth. I've seen enough tree-stripping, chemical spraying and have done enough time on trash patrol along the highways to know this. I am inspired and touched by the wisdom I find in this little book regarding the earth. Here's a quote from a Native Chief who was also a Believer:

"Every part of all this soil is sacred to my people. Every hillside, every valley, plain and grove has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. The very dust you now stand on responds more willingly to our footsteps than to yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors and our bare feet walk softly upon her, conscious of the sympathetic touch.... A few more hours, a few more winters, and none of the children of the great tribes that once lived upon the earth, or that roamed in small bands in the woods, will be left to mourn the graves of a people once as powerful and hopeful as yours.

The whites, too, shall pass-- perhaps sooner than other tribes, Continue to contaminate your own bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.
When the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses all tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with the scent of men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires, where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone.

And what is left to say farewell to the swift men and the hunt? When is the end of living and the beginning of survival? We might understand if we knew what it was that the white man dreams, what he describes to his children on the long winter nights. What visions does he burn into their minds so they will wish for tomorrow? But we are called savages. The white man's dreams are hidden from us." - Chief Seattle of the Suqwamish and Duwamish (1786-1866)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Birth of A New Blog...

I have opened a new blog called 'Signs & Wonders'.
I will tend to post things of a more spiritual nature on this blog and welcome reader comments- especially if you've read a really good or bad church sign recently or enjoy discussing beliefs.

From here on out, 'My Journey' will be more of a personal journal/worldview/random thought spot. I am a spiritually minded lady, so you'll still hear some of my thoughts about God here- just felt it was time to make a seperate blog solely for posts of that nature. :o)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Native Inspiration...

I am the very satisfied owner of a book called, 'Native American Wisdom', edited by Kent Nerburn & Louise Mengelkoch. EXCELLENT! Below are some of the quotes that I thought were simply profound:

On the ways of words:
"I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more. I will tell you in my way how the Indian sees things. The white man has more words to tell you how things look to him, but it does not require many words to speak the truth." - Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce

On integrity:
"My people are poor, because we are honest." - Red Dog of the Oglala Sioux

On Relationship:
"Friendship is the severest test of character. We think it easy to be loyal to family and clan, whose blood is in our own veins. Love between a man and woman is founded on the mating instinct and is not free from desire and self-seeking. But to have a friend, and be true under any and all trials, is the mark of a man! - Ohiyesa of the Santee Sioux

On Religion:
"My people do not want churches because they will teach us to quarrel about God as the Protestants and Catholics do. We desire peace. We may quarrel with men sometimes about things on this earth, but we never fight about God. We do not want to learn of this."
- Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce

"Grandfather, Great Spirit, one day more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice. You lived first, and You are older than all things, stronger than all need, older than all prayer. All things belong to You-- the two-legged, the four-legged, the wings of the air, and all green things that live. You have set the powers of the four winds of the earth to cross each other. You have made me walk the good road and the road of hardship. The place where these two cross is holy. Day in, day out, and always, You are the life of all things." - Black Elk of the Oglala Sioux

"No tribe has the right to sell the land, even to each other, much less to strangers. Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth? Didn't the Great Spirit make them all for the use of His children?" - Tecumseh of the Shawnee

The Ways of Dying:
"Death will come, always out of season." Big Elk, Omaha Chief

"Each soul must meet the morning sun, the new, sweet earth and the Great Silence alone!"
- Ohiyesa of the Santee Sioux

"I know that skin robes, leggings, moccasins, bear claws, and so on are of little value to you, but we wish you to have them and preserve them in some part of your lodge, (museum) so that when we are gone and the sod is turned over our bones, if our children should visit this place, as we do now, they may see and recognize with pleasure the things of their fathers, and reflect on the times that are now passing." Sharitarish of the Pawnee

"If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man, He would have made me so in the first place. He put in the heart of the whites certain wishes and plans; in my heart He put other and different desires. Each man is good in the sight of the Great Spirit. It is not necessary for eagles to become crows, yet both are good. Now, to you my people are poor, but we are free. No white-man controls our footsteps. If we must die, we die defending our rights." - Sitting Bull of the Teton Sioux

Some of these words really hit home for me. I was smiling and nodding my head in agreement to many and tearing-up over others. As I read this touching and wonderful book I could almost feel the rush of clean, fresh air on my face. Can you hear the sound of Elk calling in the distance? When I close my eyes, I am standing on the open plain, my arms open to the sky. Like the Indian, I want the freedom to live, to enjoy my family. Material things are nice, but also tie us down. The Natives of this land were very simple people, but they were not ignorant, heathen savages. I am deeply touched by the reverence of the Native American for all things living and the depth of feeling they had toward their lands and their families. There is wisdom to be learned from every culture. I'm glad someone recorded the words of these great men. :o)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Good Quote & GREAT Film!

"What a fine comedy this world would be if one did not play a part in it!" - Denis Diderot

Wow- isn't that true?! Painful experiences and challenging events happen- it's a fact of life here on earth. We cannot always choose what is written into the pages of our lives. There remains a hope for me that someday all that has been hurtful, I will remember while rolling my eyes and grinning. I am quite prone to taking myself, my life, my feelings a little too seriously at times. There are so many facets of me. At work I am upbeat, outgoing and fun- I love to help people. At home, I am more reserved and thoughtful, but always ready for a good joke, a snuggle or some slow-dancing in the living room to my favorite songs. On my blog I am often quiet Melancholy- that is the artistic part of me that examines everything and ponders the ways of God and the purpose of our existence.

It is the end of a very long & busy week. I've had ZERO quality time with my man and very little with the kids. There were several times when I called my man and got cut off so he could talk to someone else. (Okay- who's priority here?) When I work such long hours, most of my time at home is spent trying to catch my breath, rest my foot, return phone calls and catch up with chores. I refuse to lose the sense of self that God has breathed into existence recently, so I have to make time to write, contemplate and pray about what I am learning & feeling.

I can't live like this forever- Jay may be able to do without spending much time with me, but I need quality time and lots of it! God knows this- why has He allowed our circumstances to be so chronically messed up? Jay is feeling rejected and has no sense of direction after his career ended so abruptly. He is restless and hurting- which hurts me. He doesn't say much, he just stays busy or sleeps. The kids aren't blind, they see our pain and it frustrates them.

Life stirs up passion in us and a desire for each other in the innocence of youth. We commit our lives to one another- we want to be together, hearts are on fire thinking we can outwit, outlast and outlove all those who ever tried & failed at marriage. Then, reality hits and for the rest of our lives we cannot seem to connect? We were always together or talking on the phone during our courtship. Literally, when I married him, I felt like I lost him- hardly saw him our first year of marriage as he devoted himself entirely to his studies. Then the kids came along. I love them dearly, but I've had to share him with them. They are top priority for him- I think I'm a close second. Perhaps if I felt like I was first, I would have more to give the children emotionally because my cup was full?
I'm a hopeless romantic, but I'm trying to become more realistic in my expectations and make the most of what I've got to work with. Reality is, Jay is a nice guy and I've just barely scratched the surface of what it means to love. Sometimes, I don't know if I want to go any deeper than the romance phase if the "settling in phase" means feeling bored or ignored most of the time. Traditionally, we eat supper at Ryan's at the end of the week. Tonight as I sat there with my family, I looked around at all the smiling old couples. I can't help but wonder how many trials they have overcome together? What deep strength do they possess in order to stay together and find happiness? More than anything, I want to be faithful and to love more deeply. My own weaknesses are daunting.

If only I could unlock or describe the passion that is within me for living, loving and laughter. I think we both just want to connect- to feel alive again, instead of dull and unappreciated.

We recently saw a wonderful movie- an allegory about human relationships both male/female and parent/child. 'The Lakehouse' stars Keanu Reaves and Sandra Bullock. (Two of my favorites) They are soul-mates who are trapped in two different times. He is in 2004, she is in 2006. They want desperately to connect, but everything seems to stand in the way. I could totally relate to the film because I often feel the space between my heart and those I love is insurmountable. Sometimes I feel like a little bird beating against the glass pane of the window to their souls. I can see in, but can't quite break through and I'm not sure anyone wants to let me in. How many times can one beat against this invisible, but very real barrier until falling lifelessly to the ground? Is there some strange and wonderful magic that will come into play, renewing the flames that have burned so low??

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Human Sexuality & Faith

Can Faith & sexuality co-exist? For many, they do not, or barely do. Fact: many Christians are quite uncomfortable with their own sexuality. From early on, we are taught directly or indirectly that the body is sinful and evil, and sex is a big NO-NO. Many people in the faith I was raised in ascribe to a statement given to young wives by EGW that says it is sinful to deliberately stir up passion in the husband. She refers to arousal as being "lower passions", "base passions" and "inflamed animal passions". This negative attitude is very degrading to the very gift God created in us. EGW does not have much to say about 'Song of Solomon' and rightfully so- she was writing from a prudish Victorian culture. She had 4 children, so somewhere along the way she & James "connected". I cannot tell you how many tearful young wives from a similar background have confided in me that they hate sex and wish they could be married without it. I wonder how many people have lived without this enjoyment because of their prophet worship? A relative of mine reduced her husband to a desperate & frustrated man because, she was told by some health lecturer that couples are only supposed to have sex on the quarter moon. The husband died of Prostate Cancer in his early 50's. Studies show that men who have regular sexual activity have lower risk for PC.

Due to several instances of sexual abuse when I was under 16, I was absolutely terrified of my body and it's functions. Couple that with the writings of EGW and I was a real prude. I didn't date much because guys knew I wouldn't "put out"- I have no apologies about that. I was a virgin when my husband took me in marriage- as was he, but it took us 7 yrs before we were able to relax and embrace the gift of sex. We are meant for hard work, prayer AND pleasure. As Christians, it is considered honorable to work HARD. However, pleasure of any kind- is often taboo. Here are reasons why I believe God ordains healthy sexuality:

1.) The Skin- This is the biggest sensory organ of your body. We have billions of tiny little sensory receptors in the skin- it is meant to be touched and responds favorably to warmth. There are certain areas on the body referred to as errogenous zones. When these areas are stimulated, a sexual response occurs. These zones vary in all people, but common places are the lips, neck, chest, ears, wrist, inside of the upper arm, buttocks and inner thighs. A light touch to these areas can causes an enhanced awareness and an increase in blood flow to the genitals. Now, this is a natural response and not something for which to feel ashamed. Why would God design the skin in such a way if it were never to experience the pleasure of being touched? Babies in Neonatal Intensive Care Units have better survival rates when they are touched. As infants & toddlers we are held, kissed, cuddled and everyone is fine with that. However, there is an understood NO TOUCH policy for the age range of about 8 up. Parents stop touching & holding their children because they are too big to hold in the lap and for fear of being accused of molestation. This is a very confusing time for the young person who is awkward and insecure about his/her body. They need the affirmation of healthy touch- yet they are deprived. Many people in this age group rarely receive hugs, kisses or even pats on the back regularly. Is it any wonder they turn to boyfriends & girlfriends to fulfill their need for touch? WAKE UP parents and don't starve your teens for touch- they may act like they don't need it, but they do. The elderly also suffer- especially if they live away from family or have lost a spouse. Dr's actually recommend they have a small pet to care for- not only to keep them company, but to lay in their lap.

2.) Endorphins- When a couple engages in healthy sexual behavior and an orgasm is achieved, there are many benefits. Natural stress-relieving hormones called 'Endorphins' are released. These cause feelings of happiness, contentment, relaxation, sleepyness and security. Blood pressure is lowered and tension dissipates. There is no better feeling than falling asleep in the arms of your lover after intercourse.

3.) Most all of the biggies mentioned in the Bible were sexually active. Jacob, Abraham, David & Solomon even had more than one wife (gasp) and many children. Now I'm not reccomending more than one spouse here, but history shows these guys fully embraced their sexuality. Solomon and one of his wives actually write a book about their love life together. To our knowledge, New Testament writer, Paul was celibate as was Elijah, and mighty Daniel was likely a eunoch. (altered male- poor guy) However, Paul wholeheartedly endorses married couples to engage in regular doses of intercourse- only abstaining for short periods of time and with mutual consent.

I developed earlier than many of my peers- which brought a lot of uninvited "attention" and harassment. I felt embarassed and ashamed of my body most of my life- even starving myself and throwing up for many years to reduce the curviness of my shape. The uglier I looked, the safer and more "holy" I felt. Only in the past 5 yrs have I begun to accept myself & feel beautiful. (PS. Feeling beautiful starts on the inside) People have noticed that I seem more confidant. I do not have the words to adequately describe the awakening I am undergoing, but I feel like I am finally coming alive in so many ways. This is God's gift to me and it's amazing and terrifying at the same time. I'm no sexpert, but here's a little tongue-in-cheek Trailady advice to enhance sexuality- for what it's worth:

Wives, we shouldn't think for a moment that we can wear frumpy clothes and let ourselves go and still keep our men happy. Men are very visual, they are designed to appreciate beauty- why set him up to be lusting after other women? Taking care of ourselves and fixing up a little to enhance our assets is no sin. It shows that we value ourselves and our relationships. Long flannel nightgowns and shapeless jumper dresses- though comfortable are nothing to look at. Limp hair and pasty pale complexions are not attractive on anyone. Your smile is likely your most attactive feature. Whining, nagging and yelling are real turn-offs- men would rather work long hours at the office or go eat with the guys than come home to a grouch. If we act like sex is a chore- just another marital obligation our men feel rejected and unappreciated- whether they voice it or not. You see, God gave men a desire to make us feel good and we shouldn't deprive them of that. Make his favorite foods, learn to do things he enjoys, give him some genuine compliments and hang out with him as a friend- you might be amazed at his response. Cry on his shoulder once in a while, it makes him feel strong.

Husbands, don't think for a moment that you are justified in letting yourselves go either. Women like something good to look at too. A healthy relationship means being relaxed around each other but not GROSS. Just because she married you doesn't mean you can be rude & disgusting. She is your princess- if you treat her like that, romancing her, she will be more inclined to remain so. Women have a stronger sense of smell. To maximize attraction, bathe regularly, smell sweet, wash your hands before you touch her, keep breath sweet. Don't fart, pick your nose, stink up the bathroom while she's doing her hair, dig at your feet, crotch or rear end around her. She really doesn't want to share these unpleasantries with you! Help her out around the house, put the seat down and show an interest in her outside the bedroom. If you're trying to get her in the mood, watch your P's & Q's in this regard. Don't dive right in and grab her- take your time. Rub her shoulders, kiss her neck, whisper in her ear, play with her hair- talk to her. Women love to converse- great conversation is good foreplay! If she's had a bad day and she's really not in the mood, respect that and try some other time. If you want her to dress nice and look sharp, you should do the same for her. Don't hold a double standard, expecting her to be a fit little beauty queen for you while your gut unapologetically hangs over your belt. (Women carry the babies- what's your excuse?) When she's scared, hurt or sad, take her in your big strong arms and be her shelter. She will reward you well...

Be patient with one another. Sex is like fine art- takes a lot of time, work and creativity, but it's worth it.
There are foods that are bad for you, but you don't stop eating. Sex can be abused, but that doesn't mean we must avoid it. Reclaim it! Believers it is okay to embrace our sexuality to invest ourselves emotionally, spiritually AND physically in our spouses. Have fun! ;o)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Good Ol' Fashioned Business!

For 3 years of my early life we lived in the small midwestern town of Holiday, Missouri. Population was 133- including Mama, my brother Will and I. After living near the east coast, it was like stepping back in time. Things moved more slowly. People had that friendly, hospitable spirit. Our town had a small rural school grades 1-8, 4 churches, Callison's Feed Store and Harry Smith's Gas & Grocery. People there still gathered for 8th grade graduations and school talent shows. There was a population of about 30 kids ages 16 & under who could ride bikes and run around without fear of being kidnapped by some crazy pervert.

There were lots of stay-home Moms in Holiday who looked out their windows from time to time just to make sure we weren't getting into trouble. There were lots of things I loved about living in a small town. My teachers and neighbors were wonderful! I remember the sound of the old trains passing through twice a day, their whistles sounding like watchmen saying, "All is well". The highlight of the town was Harry Smith's store. You see, he had a big glass counter under which he kept all manner of treats. I can still picture Harry in my mind, snowy-white hair combed-over, black military issue glasses, baggy overalls and steel-toe boots. When you stepped inside his little shop, you were greeted by the smell of beef-jerky and sweet pipe. He loved children and did business the old fashioned way. Harry trusted people and cared more about them than about making a buck. I know he probably didn't make much profit on his business, but everyone adored him. Occasionally, we would get enough snow for him to get his old mare and bobsled out and he would come around on Sunday afternoons after church giving rides. It was wonderful! Harry was a small man, barely over 5 feet tall, but to us he was a giant of a man with a heart of gold! His associate/clerk's name was Roy Snodgrass. (Boy- did we have fun with that!) Roy was also a kind man who allowed us to laugh WITH him about his name. Roy would slip extra candy into our little paper sacks every other time we bought something. He would occasionally give us free soda in the summer time just for stopping in to say "howdy". I remember we were low on food more than once. I would go over to Harry's before Mama got paid and walk out with Hamburger buns, milk, eggs, pancake & cornbread mix, beans and butter, because he knew our word was good. He kept a little yellow paper tablet behind the counter and would write our names on it and what we owed. There were several times that Mama sent me over- money in hand to pay our debt and he would look at his tablet, wink at me and say, "Well, I can't find your name on my list here- just call it even". God bless him!! Harry and Roy are both gone now. Their little store no longer has a gas pump because of new regulations. The door was opened when we visited several years ago, but there was no candy counter and the building was run down. The grocery part of the store was empty, except for some pop machines, pool tables and pinball machines. There were calendars of naked women on the wall and a bunch of men sitting around smoking. I was sorry I even bothered to stop by- so different, it made me sad.

In days gone by, a person wearing a change belt would run out to pump your gas and wash your windshield- yes, I'm old enough to remember that- it was dying out when I was a kid. If you pumped the fuel yourself, you paid AFTER you filled up. Waiters and waitresses would look you in the eye and chit-chat a little to earn their tips- they didn't just EXPECT you to tip because they brought food and set it before you.
This past week, I've come to realize that I really miss doing business the old fashioned way. There is something special about someone recognizing you when you walk through the door, greeting you by name and giving you their trust. So many people today are dishonest, many proprietors feel they can trust no one. It's a crying shame. You can hardly write a check anywhere these days because of so many bouncers who are either completely bad with Math, too lazy to check their account or just plain dishonest.

I have found 2 places locally where business is still done on the honor system. The local feed store and Cici's pizza. The feed store allows handshake credit for return customers. I was on break from the YMCA one afternoon and quite hungry. I was meeting my family at Cici's pizza buffet. (They are the best thing going for a family- all you can eat for $4.99 pr. adult and as little as 2.99 pr. child. Great pizza too AND they'll custom make you any kind of pizza you want.) Anyway, I walked into Cici's ahead of my family who were running late-as-usual. I had no cash on me- my break was slipping away while I sat in the foyer waiting for my family. The manager saw me stressing there, asked if he could help me, then when I told him I was on break but had to wait on my family, he said, "I've seen you guys here several times. Please, go ahead and get your food- your husband can just pay for you when he gets here". I felt warm inside- feels good to be treated like a human being! They will have our business for years to come because of that one simple act of trust and kindness.

I've noticed while working Customer Service at the YMCA, people are thrilled when we remember their names & faces. Often, we will wave our regulars on by without making them check in. They really like it when we do that- makes them feel special. It used to be- the customer was valued, their complaints were patiently heard and you worked hard to make things right and keep them happy. Every so often I pay Harry's kindness forward and give free punches on fitness cards or extra credit toward the free t-shirts. (Shhhh, don't tell anyone) It makes me feel good inside and the customer feels valued. Harry knew that if you invest a little in your clients, they will invest a lot in your business. There is something really great about business the ol' fashioned way and I wish there was more of it...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Access Denied?

"Behold an angel of God stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone all around them, and they were terrified. And the angel said, "Do not be afraid, for I bring unto you Good News of great joy that is to be for ALL people. For there is born unto you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ, the Lord.... Suddenly there was a great host of angels praising God and singing, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill toward ALL mankind.." Luke 2:9-14

As I was reading this seasonally appropriate passage, it really struck me. There is a 3 letter word that has changed my life-view forever. A-L-L. I've seen this word before. Jesus said, "If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw ALL men unto Me". The Good News of great joy- the Messiah was born to be the sacrifice for the sins of all ethnic groups and genders. This Message was not well received by those who had attained "perfection" and felt they pleased God by keeping a list of rules. The Good News of Salvation was and is for everyone- all people- whosoever will believe and receive it.

I'm forced to ask myself "Have I handled this Good News as God would want me to?" Admittedly, I'm a recovering Pharisee. You see, there was a time when I was quite narrow- wanted everything to be a certain way. The music and sermons, the company and food all had to suit my tastes. My very life showed that I preferred the Kingdom of Heaven to be a members-only, high-society club for shiny, happy, flawless people. But if I had my way, what hope then would remain for the poor, the outcasts, the slave, the abused, abandoned, neglected and sorrowful? Who would lift the helpless and brokenhearted?? The church signs mentioned in my previous post bottle Christianity up in a neat, tidy little package meant only for a select few who join the club. They do not represent Good News, but condemnation. I'm sure any one of the churches who posted the offending signs would say, "We certainly welcome anyone who enters our doors". But do they really??
Over the course of the next year, I have determined to visit several regional churches in disguise and see how I am received. I will go as a whore, a dirty homeless woman, perhaps a drunk or an uneducated hillbilly with bad teeth, an Aids victim, etc. I will not be disruptive in any way to their services, but I am curious to see how I will be received. I will write a report on each church I visit and how it goes... You see, I find that being greeted cheerfully by the appointed greeter(s) on duty and being welcomed are two different things in churchland.

In the New Testament, several scenarios are presented in order to paint a clearer picture of what God expects from those who claim to be His:

Scenario 1:
Scripture says that "good, Christian" people will come to Jesus expecting to gain entrance to Heaven. Jesus will then say, "I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was naked and you did not clothe me, and in prison but you did not visit Me." Then they will say, "But Lord, when did we ever see You like this and not help You?" To which He replies, "Whatsoever you have done unto the least of these, you have done unto Me".
I once read this passage thinking only of literal food, water, clothing for the poor and visits to the state Penitentiary. Most Christians have performed these charitable acts at one time or another. However, looking through my new spiritual glasses, I see that Jesus is actually saying something even more profound here... He is actually showing them how they failed to proclaim the Good News in their everyday lives. You see, for the hungry, Jesus is the Bread of Life, for the thirsty, Jesus is the Living Water, for those who are spiritually naked, He offers a robe of righteousness and the many who are imprisoned by their sins- are to be cared for.

Another passage that confirms my view on this is the commission Jesus gives to Peter. He (Jesus) says, "Peter, do you love Me?" Peter says, "Yes, Lord, You know I love You." Jesus says, "Feed my sheep". Now in scripture- anytime something is repeated, it is for emphasis. Jesus asks Peter this question and gives the commission, not once, but 3 times. Was He literally talking about sheep? No, He meant people. Was He talking about literal food? No, He meant feed their spirits with the Bread of Life- the Good News!

Scenario 2:
Again, people are wanting to join in the great wedding feast of the Lamb. They come before the Lord and say, "Allow us entrance for we have done wonderful works and have even cast out demons in Your name." Jesus will then say to them, "Go away from me, for I never knew you". Why? Because, they are coming with pride, expecting their good works to get them in the door. Christ saying, "I never knew you" is a literal statement. These people were so busy out-performing each other that they didn't actually get to know Jesus. They come to the door as strangers expecting to gain access based upon their own merit- not His.

Throughout scripture, I do not see access being denied or rebukes being given to those who are admittedly sinners in need of a Savior. Jesus consistantly rebukes those who are self-decieved and think they are better than others. Apparently, there is more danger in saying we are good, than there is in confessing we are sinners.
However, be careful who you confess to. Most churches are little more than clubhouses for self-congratulators. Confess any real (taboo) sins, and you just might find them a little less-than-friendly. However, people who mean well, but deny access to the Good News, keeping it from those deemed less-than-desirable, will find themselves barred from Heaven. A very serious thought...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Re-thinking The Signs...

Every other time I pass certain churches in my area, the signs out front have some foreboding messages on them. Used to be I would have nodded my head in agreement with all of the statements without thinking them through, but these days I'm in the groove of examining what I believe and why. I'm still learning & growing, but I'm actually somewhat disturbed at some of the signs I've seen. I have listed some of them below and explain why I differ in thought from them:

1) "Jesus is Coming! Get Right or Get Left Behind!!"

This is the same tactic used car salesmen use "Buy now, before it's too late". God does not want a hasty or half-hearted decision. I DO believe in the soon return of Jesus Christ, however, how exactly do I "get right"? Well, if you ask any of the members of the local 'True Church of God- Pentecostal' who sponsored the sign, they would tell me that I must speak in tongues, keep my hair long, never wear a stitch of make-up, show up for every service, never wear jewelry and my man must grow a beard. I have sat through their chaotic meetings- the speaker shouts fire & brimstone into the microphone until he has no voice left by which to speak. I have seen them babbling & trembling while the women jump around exposing their panties to everyone. During their prayer meetings they come together to "tisk-tisk" about their lost family members and shake their heads about the world and all it's failings. If this is what blesses them- more power to them, but is this what it means to "get right"? My Bible tells me that salvation isn't based on my day to day performance- it's based on the steadfast righteousness of Christ. This sign makes it all about US and what WE do.

2) "Where do you choose to spend eternity? Smoking or non-smoking??"

I've actually seen this on more than one church sign. This saying is offensive to me simply because it trivializes the destinations of Heaven & Hell. The ones who came up with it no doubt thought they were quite clever, but it rubs me the wrong way- as I'm sure it does many others. The question of eternity is not as casual as asking someone where they would like to sit. Also making a decision for Christ is not as easy as just deciding in which section they would like to dine. This is a life and an eternity we're talking here. For many, choosing to follow Jesus could mean the loss of a spouse, a job or even to be shunned by family. This should not be treated so lightly. This sign uses a little tinge of fear tactic. For one, I don't believe in an eternally burning Hell. I do not believe a loving, merciful God will burn people forever for the sins of one short lifetime and delight in their torment. It is the worst fear tactic ever and God does not draw by fear but by loving-kindness.

3) "To belong to Christ, you must be faithful to Him every moment and in every situation"

This one really SCREAMS legalism! Who among us are faithful every moment and in every situation?? This holds an impossibly high standard over people's heads. Don't know about you, but I fail and misrepresent my Lord on a daily basis. Saddest thing is those who posted this sign obviously believe they have reached such a level in their religious experience so that they can post this for everyone else. Scripture tells me I belong to Jesus Christ because He purchased me with His righteous blood. Where in the Bible is the text that says in order to be His, we must be sinless??

4) "The Seventh-day is the Sabbath, for the Lord thy God never changed it"

This is a very argumentative statement to put on a church sign in the middle of the Sunday-keeping Bible belt. It reeks of arrogance and is confrontational to the Sunday church just across the street. More flies are won to honey than to vinegar. Sabbath is more than just a day. Jesus is LORD of the Sabbath. Because of His work to save us on the Cross He IS my Sabbath rest. I am no longer striving- He has won the battle for me. The fight of faith Paul speaks of is not that of gritting our teeth to be perfect in the flesh. The real fight of faith is believing everyday that God is big enough to forgive, cleanse & save me. It means clinging to the rest His sacrifice gave me. Jesus didn't change the Law- He fulfilled it. Maybe we need to examine what that means on a little deeper level instead of always taking it at face value and being teachers of the law? I'm totally okay with people worshipping on the Seventh-day, but unless we begin to glorify Christ as Lord and Savior- of what benefit is it?

5) "Born American- Baptist by choice- Thank God!"

Saw this interesting sign around July 4, it so humbly says, "We Baptist are the best there ever was, don't you wish you could be one too?"

6) "The mice play while the cat's away, but Azlan the Lion is returning soon. Vengeance is mine sayeth The Lord!"

How poetic. Doesn't that just make you feel all warm & fuzzy inside? It was SO inspiring I felt impressed to pull over, read my Bible, pray and confess my every fault that very instant. (Okay, I apologize for the sarcasm, but this is a laughable sign.) This one was posted around the time the 'Narnia' film was released.

7) "There IS a lake of fire- it's very real. Come on in and find out how to avoid it"

This one clearly says, "Be afraid, be very, very scared. God can hardly wait to throw you into Hell, but because we're such nice people, we'll do you a favor and tell you the secret formula for talking Him out of it."

8) "The day is coming when sinners will tremble at the wrath of an angry God."

Wow- isn't that inspiring? Is this something we are supposed to be happy about?

9) "Save America from Aids and the Gay Movement. God hates fags."

Okay, this one really leaves me wondering why we don't post "God hates liars", "God hates gossips", "God hates hypocrites" or "God hates gluttons"? These are also listed as behaviors that God disapproves of- it seems homosexuality is the "biggie" that gets picked on. I do not support the gay lifestyle, but neither do I support the anti-gay hate movements. Truth is, God doesn't hate anyone. He hates sin. Why? Because it breaks us down and leaves us empty. Pastor Fred Phelps pickets the funerals of homosexuals who have died of aids. He and his hatemongers hold anti-gay signs and taunt the family & friends of the deceased. I've seen footage of him shouting horrible things- telling mourners the one they loved is now being tormented in Hell. I must ask, is THIS what Jesus would do?? Where in scripture do we find Christ harassing people like this? Don't think so! If we're going to post signs like the one above, perhaps we should also consider: "Save America from fast food. God hates cholesterol." (Heart disease & high cholesterol kill more people than Aids does).

*Best church sign I ever saw was along highway 81 South to Florida. It had a bright picture of the cross with Jesus hanging limp upon it- arms outstretched and it read,

"The offer still stands"

No statement about which church is the truest & best, no suggestions as to how we should vote, no condemnatory or fear-based theology, just a simple invitation... the older I get, the more simple things appeal to me...

Two great signs for the Lutheran church, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"

"Christ did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him might be saved."

Fellow Christians, we have played church for generations and many have yet to fully embrace the incredible love & mercy of God! Long have we feared and misunderstood Him. Long have we lived in denial of our own pride and sinfulness. We've been so busy trying NOT to sin, that we've not focused enough on how to show genuine kindness. We avoid negative actions- they are dispicable to us, but in holding such a focus, we often fail to perform positive actions. We will not have patience with the weak, the slow to understand and reach those who have fallen, until we understand that we are no better. How often we misrepresent Christ in the ways we condemn. I'd love to see more positive church signs. Better yet, I'd like to meet more positive church people...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I soooo enjoy Thanksgiving. This time of year is my favorite! Wish I could list a long, long string of things I'm thankful for, but this year really wrung us out. The few things I am grateful for are biggies though, so that counts for a lot. Life would be better right now if we could have some SNOW!! I really miss white winters!!!

Blessings for 2006:

1) My man & I are still together. Each year of marriage is an education, a gift and a miracle from God.
2) I have awesome kids! Their hugs, laughter and artwork keep me going when life is awful.
3) My dogs light up my life. Crazy about these canine friends who love me unconditionally.
4) I'm thankful for blogging! Just started out this past year and I'm completely addicted! As hard as 2006 has been on us, financially, spiritually, emotionally and physically, I don't know how I ever would have made it through without this sounding board where I can express my thoughts, memories and spiritual journey. Thank you to those who read & respond.

God Bless You All and Enjoy Your Holiday!!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Things I've Learned in Tennessee ;o)

Possums sleep in the middle of the road with their feet in the air.
Raccoons will test your crop of melons and let you know when they are ripe.

There's a whole lot of stray cats in this state and most of them's black & white.
If it grows, it sticks; if it crawls, it bites.
Onced and twiced are words.
It's not a shopping cart; It's a buggy.
Fire ants consider your flesh a picnic.

Fresh roadkill makes for good eatin'
People actually grow and eat okra.
"Fixinto" is a word.
There is no such thing as "lunch". There is only dinner and then there is supper.
Ice tea/Sweet tea is appropriate for all meals.
Backards and forards means "I know everything about you."
Jeet? is actually a phrase meaning "Did you eat?"
You don't have to wear a watch because it doesn't matter what time it is. You work until you' re done or it's too dark to see.

You don't PUSH buttons, you MASH them.
You know you're from Tennessee if:

You measure distance in minutes.
"...your favorite shirt is orange cause you can wear it to the game on Saturday, huntin' on Sunday, & to work for the highway dept. on Monday and never have to change!"
You've ever had to switch from "Heat" to "A/C" two or more times in 24 hrs.
You use "fix" as a verb. Example: "I'm fixin' to go to tha store "
All the festivals across the state are named after a fruit, vegetable, grain, insect or animal.
You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.
You know what a "DAWG" is.
You carry jumper cables in your car...for your OWN car.
You only own five seasonings: salt, sugar, pepper, Tabasco and ketchup.
The local papers cover national and international news on one page but require 6 pages for local gossip and sports.
You think that the first day of deer season is a national holiday.
You find 100 degrees Fahrenheit "a little warm".
You know there are only two seasons: Winter and Construction
You know whether another Tennessean is from east, middle, or west
Tennessee as soon as they open their mouth.
Going to Wal-Mart is a favorite past time known as "Goin' Wal-Martin" or Goin' to "Wally World".
You describe the first cool snap (below 70 degrees) as good soup-bean weather.
A carbonated soft drink isn't a soda, cola or's a Coke, regardless of brand or flavor. Example: A waitress will ask you "What kinda coke ya want?"
You know what cowtippin' and snipe huntin' are.
Fried catfish is the other white meat.
We don't need no stinkin' Driver's Ed....if mama says we can drive, we can drive.

According to the locals not EVERYONE can be a Tennessean, it's an art form and a gift from God!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Very Funny- NOT!!!!!

I was talked into seeing 'Borat'. Someone paid my way and offered me a ride- I went along thinking I was going to see a legitimate, but comical human-interest documentary made by a man from the Middle East. (I am interested in Middle-eastern culture- thought it would be interesting.) Turns out the joke is on me. I wasted an hour and a half of my time watching a bunch of ignorant garbage produced by some off-color British comedian. Yes, bits of it were funny, but most of it was just plain disgusting!

Now understand, I am pretty down to earth & have a healthy sense of humor. I'm known for pulling pranks and doing the occasional joke on someone- I love to laugh, but this film was just WAY out of line in my opinion. I should have walked out, but kept bearing with it thinking "This is going to get better and have a legitimate point- no movie can be this pointless" but I was wrong. Sacha Cohen has made this film on the sly- apparently many of the people appearing in it had no idea they were even going to be in a movie and are now sueing. I sat embarassed with my eyes covered for much of the film. I was not the only one in the audience who was shocked by the outright disrespect. There is nothing funny about incest, rape or sodomy. Crude and insensitive- upon learning that his wife has been mauled to death by a bear, Borat gives the messenger a high-5. Am I supposed to laugh while some wannabe comedian makes fun of our National Anthem?? The film is an outright insult to people of the Middle East- 'Borat' makes them out to be ignorant, uneducated, immoral and incestuous people. I'm surprised there hasn't been an outcry from the Muslim community over this! Nobody is safe from the tauntings of Mr. Cohen.

He is extremely disrespectful to the United States and crass toward the female gender. There are many cruel and repulsive stereo-types in the film. Some incredibly offensive things about Jews, the mentally impaired and black women are portrayed as being whores. The US isn't perfect, but we certainly aren't all a bunch of racist, perverts, sexists or religious fanatics. 'Borat' makes a circus out of our way of life and we are supposed to pay money to watch him do that? NO THANKS!! My advice? Save yourself some indigestion and pass on seeing this nasty film.

Finding Middle Ground...

As I continue to journey forward, I am excited to find there is revival riding on the wind. I'm hearing it more and more- 'Christ and Him Crucified' and see the amazing results upon the hearts and congregations of those who embrace it. The message is one of rest & gladness- it's not a new idea, rather an old, long neglected message.
Churches are now faced with a choice, to enter God's rest or reject the merits of Jesus Christ, clinging desperately to human obedience & standards- which are frail at best- to earn us favor with God. Many suppose they will march up to the pearly gates present a badge representing their denominational affiliation, church attendance card and resume' of an obedient, sacrificial life, thereby gaining admittance to the kingdom. However, the Kingdom seeks it's members TODAY- not in some future time. The Kingdom message is an undercurrent that builds, balances and assures the soul. It brings us out of the ditches and onto the middle ground.

There are two ditches and I've journeyed in both ruts:

1) I can do whatever I want, whenever I feel like it. If there is a God, He doesn't care what I do or how I live so I will gratify every whim. I can damage my body and destroy relationships any way I see fit- as long as I get what I want out of life.

The other extreme says:

2) I will be the strictest, most upright person I can be. I will keep 10 Commandments and numerous other lifestyle restrictions and teach others to do so- especially emphasizing the 4th Command. I will emphasize prophecy and present my church as having superior truths to any other. Any enjoyment I find in this life must be somehow displeasing to God, so I will sacrifice any & every pleasurable thing. I will be wary of forming relationship with anyone who does not think like me for fear of spiritual contamination. I will study and revere EGW as my prophet and make her the example to follow. I will hold her writings as equal in value to the Bible and will pick and choose quotes to use and go around correcting others with her words. I will protect my distinct church culture at all cost and by any means necessary.

BOTH sides are extremely self-focused and neither comprehend the great Love of God. There is a middle ground- a healthy balance. Those resting in Christ and making Him their focus and security will learn how to love. We are only awakened from a lukewarm, Laodicean state by the passionate love of Christ- which warms the heart. By beholding Him, we will be changed into His likeness. According to Corinthians, "Love is not self-seeking, it is not puffed up or conceited, it is not arrogant or rude... It is patient, kind, forgiving, it takes no delight in pointing out wrongs..." Those in the middle ground know their sins are forgiven and can rest in the merits of Jesus. This makes them more relaxed and pleasant to be around because they are no longer under a constant burden of striving for perfection. They are more understanding and accepting of others because they have a realistic view of where they stand before God. These people are attractive because they are humble and do not pride themselves in being the "last remaining guardians of truth". They know how to love and don't hold back in offering help to those in need. They realize it's not a sin to enjoy some material pleasures, but that putting their own wants above the needs of others is neglecting Christian duty. Those in the middle ground have seen the depth of their own sinfulness, they have been broken and realize their great need of a Savior, but they do not wallow in despair. They fully embrace the victory for what Christ has done for them and move forward in faith.

Things are becoming clearer to me in regards to my beliefs. Des Ford once summed it up like this:

False religion majors in law and minors in love.
True religion majors in love and minors in law.

The first majors in what God requires of us.
The second majors in what God has done for us.

One religion puts all stress on Christ as the example to measure up to.
The other puts emphasizes Christ as our substitute and representative.

One is a religion that leads to bondage, despair and death.
The other is a religion that leads to joy, freedom, salvation and life eternal.

Scripture says that we were all born into sin without asking for it- that we inherited a sinful nature. The evil serpent has bitten us all. But the Gospel teaches that we have all been saved by the atoning work of Jesus Christ our Lord who said, "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me." . See 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. Romans 5:10, Romans 5:18-19.The Good News is that our sins were crucified with Christ- nailed to His cross. Therefore, the Old Covenant Law has no more power to condemn us than to condemn Christ. The moment we believe, Christ's own perfect robe of righteousness is laid upon us and remains ours for all our days- if we continue to look to Him, despite a hundred or a thousand failures on our part.

I think back to the story of the serpents in the wilderness. A host of vipers came into the camp of Israel, biting everyone. All the dying Israelites had to do was look upon the metal serpant Moses held upon the pole and they would be saved. Many failed to perform this simple act of faith and perished because it wasn't scientific or theologically complex enough for them. Are we any different today? To look to Christ and live seems so simple- many feel it is below them. They would rather work hard and perish than accept a free gift. At all stages of our experience we are saved by faith alone, though the faith that saves is never alone. We are not saved by faith PLUS works but by a faith THAT works. This kind of faith does not come from man, but from the Holy Spirit's indwelling.

For the whole piture compare: Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:15 and 1 Corinthians 7:19. Even on Judgment Day we will be saved by faith alone- though our actions will testify to the reality of that faith despite our own infinite imperfections.

Come to the middle ground and rest. Look upon the Savior and live. Taste and see that The Lord is good!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Sensitive Soul...

The same open-hearted nature that allows me to share my deepest feelings and convictions, also renders me extremely vulnerable to tears at times. Today, I had a hard cry. It was cleansing- felt very good- after the fact. I'm cold inside, but trying to let go of so many hurts. The absence of any real relationship with either of my birth parents... the strained connections with my siblings... the flash-memories of assault... the canyon that I often feel stands between my man & I... the pain of being misunderstood and mistreatment on the part of the church... the dying hope that any of my/our dreams will ever come true for this family. I laid alone in my bed today and let the hurt come pouring out. Eventually Jay noticed I wasn't around and came in to see what was wrong. He listened. Didn't say much, but that's what I like about him when I'm hurting. I don't need people to tell me what to think, how to feel or how to fix the problem. I simply need someone to hear me. I figure things out on my own eventually...

I am strangely predictable, yet a mystery. I cannot describe the heart in me- except to say that it is largely comprised of scar tissue from many wounds & when a spouse works in ministry, who can you talk to? So here I am posting in this forum, trying to think out loud and make sense of it all. I am tired of struggle. Ready to find joy again. I don't like the role of being needy. I like to be the strong one who helps others. When, oh when will that day come again? I told my husband that I understand why people do dumb things when they are hurting. Life has a way of making us numb inside. I want to feel alive again! Sometimes when people are desperate they do foolish things in hopes that they can feel- something- anything but cold. I think God understands this. Not excusing any bad behavior, but He knows why we do the things we do and offers forgiveness when, in a blind frenzy we mess up. This whole process of sorting out life is quite humbling.

Not sure where I fit in this life or what my purpose is beyond Motherhood and being a wife. Perhaps this is my early mid-life crisis? LOL Jay let me know this past week that although he appreciates my earnings, he prefers me to be at home instead of working. (Actually, I like earning money, but I prefer staying home too. It suits my nature to be here for my family. I love to cook and clean. There is simply too much nonsense to deal with out there and a weary mind cannot handle the stress and all the stupid headgames.) Here's hoping he can find a job that pays enough for me to stay home... then I can get back to what I love most- spending time with my family & critters, homeschooling, writing poems, stories, articles and songs.
No luck so far. We've had several showings of our house now, but no offers. There is one idea that sits on the back-burner of our minds and if nothing else works out for us here, we may pursue it. We'll see...