It’s Been A Bad Day but I am Good

Today has been one of those days.  You know the kind.  The I-never-should-have-climbed-out-of-bed and Can-this-day-just-end kind of days.  I’m not going to go into a lot of detail because, well, first of all you (my reader) really don’t want to hear this list and second of all, I just really don’t want to retell it because it is just depressing.

Everyone has days like this.  As I sit here thinking about mine, I realize that I have a choice about how I respond to this bad day.  I can cry and get all worked up and bitter and angry, which quite frankly would probably be understandable.  Or I can choose to look for the things I can be thankful for and concentrate on those.

Today I am thankful that I have a husband who was home today to help me face and address all of the stuff that just kept piling on.  I can be thankful for my best friend, who lets me text her as I go to distress, and who loves me anyway.  I am thankful for our friend from church who is helping us deal with one of our issues.  I am thankful for this beautiful day, and that I was able to get outside for a walk this afternoon.  I have things to be thankful for that I can concentrate on rather than those things that are frustrating and can drag a person down but that are a part of life sometimes.

I have had a bad day today, but I am good.

 

 

 

A Reflection on How We Treat People We Disagree With

I have been thinking for quite a few days now about the things that we do when we think another person is wrong.  I’m not talking about a difference of opinion per se, more of a judgement about people’s choices and lifestyles.  I am a Christian who has attended church for my entire life, and if there is one thing I have been consistently taught, it is that some choices are just sin, and wrong, plain and simple.  That in and of itself seems simple and easy to understand and enact.  The problem comes in when you detail just what those things are.  For example, some Christians think that it is sin to drink alcohol and that people who drink even a drop will go to hell.  Some feel there is nothing wrong with a glass of wine and that it does not reflect on a person’s spiritual state if he/she drinks.  Some Christians think it is a mortal sin to smoke, but some feel it is a bad habit but not a sin per se.

My husband and I were talking about this, and about how Christians act when the issue becomes a “big” one, such as someone committing adultery, or someone being gay.  Most people get very preachy and very judgmental when it comes to these issues, and after verbally beating on the sinner they turn and run the other way.  After all, they argue, Christians should have nothing to do with sin or the unrepentant sinner.  I told my husband that I think such attitudes are sad and do just the opposite of bringing people to Jesus.  Whether an issue is a matter of opinion or it is truly Biblically wrong, people are not going to respond well to judgment and hate.  Defenses go up faster than anything and people do not hear the underlying message.

One of the biggest differences between a believer and an unbeliever is that an unbeliever can be more honest about their imperfections, their opinions and their feelings.  I think this is a sad but true statement.  So many times Christians say they want people to be real and authentic, but when they are honest about their struggles or opinions they are taken to task and told to conform to what is right.  I can remember seeing smokers condemned and I have personally felt the cold shoulder given to a sinner by other Christians.

I think it all comes down to love.  I think that when we show love to someone it opens the door to honest dialog and even to repentance.  I think that Jesus modeled this in his life and ministry here on earth.  Jesus didn’t hang out with the perfect religious people.  Jesus hung out with the sinners, with the ones who realized their weaknesses and who needed love.  Jesus didn’t turn people away because their sin was too bad or too big or too controversial or too ugly.  He met people where they were and loved them.  People were ready to respond to love.

Just my two cents on a complicated topic.  My challenge to myself as a believer in Jesus is to learn to love and not to turn away from people who I disagree with.  I will not accept sin, but I will not hate on someone who I think is sinning.  I hope that others will not hate on me when I sin.  And I do sin.  I struggle all the time to overcome sin in my life.  I have done some “big” ones…and had people turn from me in judgment.  I have also had love shown to me in the midst of my sin, and discovered healing and forgiveness and a change in attitude in the face of that love.

Being a believer in Jesus should not be a list of rules of behavior, but a lifestyle of love.

Christmas Thoughts…

The manger scene is set up right inside the front door, the first thing that is seen as someone walks in.  The Christmas tree is set up, with ornaments that tell a story of the family who live within these walls.  The lights in the tree and on the front of the house are colored lights, shining brightly with multi-colored beauty.  The snowman and Santa collection is spread throughout the living room, foyer, and dining room.  The setting is set for Christmas day, just six days from now.

This year has been a challenging one for our family.  Health issues took center stage, insinuating themselves into every decision and every activity for quite a portion of the year.  Along with the health issues came financial issues.  In fact, the financial issues outlasted the effects of the health issues. This year for Christmas it is very tight, and I am not able to go shopping for my kids like I am used to doing.  My husband and I are not buying gifts for each other this year.

As I think about our situation, and how I am going to provide some kind of Christmas for my children, I am tempted to be frustrated and upset because I cannot shop for them and for my family and friends.  I have had to step back and re-think how I do Christmas.

What is important about Christmastime?  What needs to be my priority?

I am a Christian, and as such I have always celebrated the birth of Jesus at Christmas.  From my childhood Christmas Eve services at church and readings from Luke chapter 2 with family have been a part of our celebration.  Gifts and getting together with family have also been a part of my childhood.

This year I am looking at my Christmas tree and thinking about what this season truly means.  It is a time set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and as I reflect on that I am humbled.  God himself loved me so much that he became a human being, stepping into history to make a way for human beings to have a restored relationship with God.  That little baby boy that we celebrate grew up to make the biggest impact on history!

My husband and children and I will be together for Christmas.  We will read the Christmas story together and we will attend church.  We will have hot chocolate and our traditional Christmas breakfast, and we will laugh and joke and hug and spend time together.  Then we will go to my parents house to spend time with my family, eating a Christmas dinner that my mom will make and again reading the Christmas story.  We will spend more time laughing and hugging and enjoying the gift of being together as a family.

Gifts will be a part, but they will take a backseat this year.  I don’t think that is a bad thing.  Whether a person is a believer or not, this season is about family and love and coming together.  For believers it is also about remembering the Lord and celebrating the way He touched history.  It is never about the gifts.

 

 

The Waiting Game

This season of my life seems to be a waiting game.  I am waiting to find out final grades for one of my classes at Liberty.  I am waiting for an admission decision for the graduate program that I have chosen.  I am waiting for my final course to be uploaded to Blackboard so I can get started on it.  I am waiting for news of scholarships for my daughter, and for SAT scores for my son.  I am waiting for some things to happen in regards to my husband’s job search.  I am waiting until December (when my degree will be conferred) so that I can look for a job.  Waiting.

I really don’t see myself as an impatient person, and so my unrest at all of this waiting has taken me by surprise.  I’m not sure if it is impatience, or something else that is driving my frustration right now.  Maybe part of it is that I feel a real lack of control when it comes to all of these circumstances, and I don’t like that lack of control.  I want to have things fall into place neatly and quickly, all packed into a pretty package with a bow.  I want it to be easy and done, not drawn out and therefore harder.

I think that this problem of waiting is a common one.  I think our society expects things to occur instantly, without inconvenience or any sort of waiting time.  With the invent of Netflix and microwaves and texting, no one has to wait for anything anymore.  I think that makes it harder when we do have to wait for a process to occur that we have no control over.  A perfect example of this is my impatience with my grades.  At most, it will take two weeks for my final grades to post.  It used to be longer for grades to post and then the mail to go out and reach you.  I will have instant access to the grades as soon as the professor completes them.  And yet I am frustrated because I have to wait a bit.

I think this “instant-access” society is not as good a thing as it seem on the surface.  Now we add the stress of fitting even more into our packed lives and expecting instant results to our problems and efforts.  We find it difficult to relax and just let the process work.  We have become impatient without realizing it.

Why is it that when my husband pays me a compliment I get all weird and self-conscious?  I am a blessed woman in that my husband tells me regularly that he finds me attractive, beautiful, and desirable.  Part of me loves it, and I am very glad to hear it, but there is a part of me that pushes it away and hides from it.  Why do I have such a hard time believing it of myself?  Why do I struggle to accept it and be confident in it?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I have a daughter.  I have been thinking about the kind of mom I have been over the years and how I have modeled womanhood to her.  She is now 19 years old and is developing into a woman in her own right.  I see her struggling with confidence and I wonder how much of that is because she watched me struggle with my body image and with who I am?  Just what did I vocalize in her presence?  What response did I give to my husbands praise while she was listening?  How did I dress and carry myself in her presence?

I think that one of the many mistakes that I made as a mom was to model for her a woman who was not confident and who did not believe in herself.  A women who did not realize that my weight and my other physical attributes did not make up the whole of me.  Yes, I struggled with my weight for many years, but that did not detract from the beauty that I had (and have). When my husband looked at me he did not see a fat woman, but a funny woman, a beautiful woman, a loving woman, a desirable woman.  He saw his best friend.  I think I placed too much emphasis on the physical and not enough on the qualities that made me who I am.  If I could go backwards, I would show my daughter that physical stuff is not all important.  Even though I was a bit heavy, I was beautiful and I had a lot to offer.

I guess it isn’t too late for me to model a better attitude for my daughter.  The things that make me beautiful are not things like weight and my make-up.  It is my attitude toward life, my sense of humor, my compassion, my faith and my giving spirit that matters.

Unexpected Turns

It is amazing to me how quickly life can all of a sudden take a turn that you just don’t expect and don’t count on.  Sometimes these turns call for minor course corrections and sometimes they mean a major change that just takes your breath away.  I had one of those big ones this week.  On ‘Tuesday evening I began to see some big “floaters” in my right eye, and by Wednesday morning my vision in that eye was impaired.  Thursday I went to see an eye specialist and found out that I have diabetic retinopathy and that I have suffered a major hemorrhage in my right eye that might require surgery to clear of the blood.  The doctor has no idea how extensive the damage is at this point and really doesn’t even have a guess on the prognosis at this point. He won’t know until the eye is clear.  I also found out that my left eye is really bad as well and could hemorrhage at any moment and fill up with blood just like me right eye did.  Immediate treatment, including injections and laser surgery, may or may not treat the condition.  Or I may go blind.  Talk about an unexpected curve in the road of life!

So many thoughts are going through my mind, so many feelings.  I’m scared, first of all.  The idea of being blind has always frightened me, but now that it could be a possibility it has taken on a strange new persona, lurking at the edges and jumping out to make it’s presence know periodically.  It’s there, it’s possible, so it’s not going away.  I can try to ignore it, but it just won’t go away!  No matter what I try to do now, I have to think about it, about how blindness might affect it.  It doesn’t mean that my life will end if blindness overtakes me, it just means that life as I know it is over and I have to change and adapt to meet the new reality that would now exist.  I have never done well with change.

Of course, the treatments might work and I might be able to keep my vision.  The problem is that I do not know and so I cannot relax and see what happens.  This is just too big a thing and too big an unknown.  Right now my vision is limited and it frustrates me.  I am a full-time student and a wife and mom whose life doesn’t stop because of an unexpected turn.  I have to figure out how to keep going, how to reach my goals, how to care for my husband and children…how to keep living no matter what happens with me vision.  I have to be ok with this and I don’t yet know how to be ok with this.

That is the long and short of it…I don’t know how to be ok with this.  That will be my struggle in the short run.

Jesus With Skin On

I watched a Facebook video that was shared today. It showed two young men who asked strangers in NYC for food and each time they were rejected. These same two young men bought a pizza and gave it to a homeless man. Then one of them came back, looking somewhat different, and asked for a slice. The homeless man responded generously, offering a slice. The young man shared the pizza, then got up and gave the homeless man some money because he was so willing to help someone else despite his own need.

It was a very touching and thought-provoking video.

I would like to say that I would share my food if someone asked and said they were hungry. But the truth is I would probably reject such a request too. Especially in the middle of NYC. I hang my head in shame at that admission. In this day and age, we are taught to keep to ourselves, to view beggers as opportunists just looking for free stuff or for drug money. We are taught to hold what is ours close to us. This attitude makes us blind to the needs of those around us. Calloused. Hard-hearted.

As a Christian, I have no right to act like this. Christ wouldn’t have. Christ would have fed the homeless man, talked to him, loved on him. Christ would have taken the opportunity to point the way to God and to freedom. Christ would not have ignored the man. To Christ, this man has value. Just like we all do. To Christ it would be worth whatever is cost to reach out to this man.

Lord, help me to see the people around me with your eyes. Help me to love who you love the way you would love them. Help me to see the needs in front of my face and work to meet them. I don’t want to be so hard-hearted and calloused.

I want to be Jesus with skin on.

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