Receiving a hug through a bag of trash

As followers of Christ we are to offer forgiveness regardless of there being an apology expressed for an offense.

Unfortunately, some “offenders” look at this and dismiss the idea of offering an apology and assume forgiveness has been given and that the relationship has been restored to its previous state.  This is unfortunate because if you ask anyone who has been wronged, it is challenging to offer affection and return the relationship to normal without that apology.

Quite like receiving a hug through a bag of trash. 

You want the connection, but there is this mess between you that you should probably clean up.  The question I hear often is along the lines of “who is responsible for” cleaning up the trash?

My original thought was “the offender of course” and typically, if they know they have made the offense I would say that is true; but then when I look at things a bit longer I realize that it may very well be that sometimes the “victim” may have some responsibility to clean up the mess.  It boils down to this:  the responsibility to restore the relationship falls on the person who WANTS to restore the relationship and to create the space where this can happen.  Sometimes, our offenders do not realize they have dumped their trash in our lap and they then feel offended when the relationship appears to have changed “for no reason.”

It is all a matter of boundaries.   (I recommend the book if you don’t understand what that means)

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”   – Matthew 18:15

Ecclesiates 5:1-7

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.  Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.

Do not be quick with your mouth,

do not be hasty in your heart

to utter anything before God.

God is in heaven

and you are on earth,

so let your words be few.

As a dream comes when there are many cares,

so the speech of a fool when there are many words.

When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “my vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? Much dreaming and many words are meaningless.

Therefore stand in the awe of God.

Surrender….Not just a Cheap Trick song.

So, this is a big share for me. I have alluded a few times about a difficult relationship and my failed attempts at reconcilliation. Today I had a big DING! go off in my head. (again?) I had a few little dings pinging around here and there about it but today the big DING! hit me.

Dang! I AM a human being!

You see, my first mistake has been the fact that I believed that the descriptive word “difficult” or “strained” or “bad” that I put in front of the word “relationship” was a SHARED belief between me and the other party.

My second mistake…maybe there is no heirarchy or order of mistakes…my OTHER mistake was my timing in my efforts to “repair” or “reconcile” this relationship. Just because I thought the timing seemed appropriate does not mean that it WAS APPROPRIATE for that other person. Looking back at all this, that person has every reason to think, say, believe that I am a stark raving LUNATIC. That person did not know that I had been having “nudges” I believed were urging me to move toward “fixing” the relationship. For all I know, that person was able to put the past in the past and I am digging up corpses. To that person I look like an insane mechanic that is changing the oil on a car that just had it’s oil changed and in the process replaces oil with transmission fluid and therefore creates a NEW (and/or worse) problem.

My big DING! though…this is what hit me…maybe all this time, these “nudges” I was feeling were more about NOT taking action. These nudges were more about me realizing that this is beyond MY control and that I should turn it over to GOD and pray….”Search me O God”…SURRENDER. This is bigger than me. I do not have the power to change anything or anyone other than ME.

Dang it.

(Trite cliche: Hindsight is 20/20.) Sometimes in my efforts to “be (or do) better” I need to slow down and examine the possible outcomes. (Glib response: Haste makes waste)

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” ~ Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

“Investigate my life, O God,

find out everything about me;

Cross-examine and test me,

get a clear picture of what I’m about;

See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong-

then guide me on the road to eternal life.”

~ Psalm 139:23-24 (MSG)

Three small words. One huge statement.

“I’ll go sleep in the woods with this dog before I give it away to a shelter.”

(this comment delivered deadpan)

…from a gentleman going from A-Z under the heading of “churches” in the phone book. He quit drugs 2 years ago and is now suffering from cardiac sudden death syndrome and is awaiting his disability hearing. He and his wife of 17 years are facing eviction next week and his vehicle (a $150 beater that someone gave him) was totalled this past week. They have no income. He has nothing of value except the “$3000 dog” that someone gave him.

We (Granger Community Church) is not in a place to solve his problem and part of my job as Care Coordinator – with the hope of finding help and the ability to resource them – is sometimes asking hard questions. After hitting many brick walls, it occasionally (more often these days) comes to the point where I have to ask the hardest ones:

“Do you have a place to go if you lose your home? Family, friends?”

I try to explain the tough reality that he may need to find a shelter.

Many people divert attention to the care of their pets. They love them and can’t imagine sending them to the humane society where they could be euthanized or to a refuge organization where they will never get them back.

I have pets. I love them. If it came to it, would I give them up and take my family to a shelter?

At this point, he is trying to hold on to something, another living creature, for comfort when everything else is about to be lost.

I have never been in that place. I don’t know the turmoil in the heart and mind of a person in this situation that causes this to be a tough decision.

It’s hard being the voice of reality sometimes. It rips at my heart to have to tell someone that I can’t help them. The only thing I can do is pray. This situation is beyond me.

I am seeing an increase in calls for assistance and this one made my heart hurt. I know, it could have been someone trying to “scam” the church. But I choose not to be jaded and err on the side of mercy.

So often people wait until the situation is past the point of repair before seeking help. Three small words, so hard to speak.

“I need help.”

…To Return to Facebook…or not.

It has been over 40 days. I “signed off” the Monday before Lent began and it is now the Wednesday after Easter.

I don’t miss it.
I have had such a nice time not being there.
I have reordered my life without the distraction. I know, I am a grown up and I should be able to do both/and – to that I say “WHATEVER”
Obviously, I am not that responsible.
Let me tell you what I realized. Before my Facebook vacation, the first thing I did in the morning was get up with the alarm and then get Paige up for school and while she was showering and getting ready…I was on Facebook seeing what everyone was up to and when she was done about a half hour later I would hit the shower and get ready.
I replaced that time – with reading my Bible. I fell in love with that pretty fast. Even so that now on the weekends it is the first thing I do in the morning. I have read Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts and the first 4 chapters of Romans. Quite often, I take a full hour of it because really, I do not have to look pretty to go out to the bus stop with Paige.
I also feel like I am spending more time with Dave and the girls. Well, actually, physically it is the same amount of time, just more present.
I have also had more time to read other things. It has been awesome.
So, what am I to do?
#1 I am deleting my Twitter account. Don’t need it.
#2 I am going to go on Facebook and post this message.
“I don’t hang out here very often anymore. I won’t be updating my status. If you want to see what is going on in my life go to my blog. If you really are my friend, you have my number, give me a call to chat or maybe we can do lunch.”

Historical Human Behavior, Hot Guys at the Gym, Honoring God and Husband…

I have always found a nicely defined upper body an attractive trait on a man. Physically, it was always the first thing I noticed when spying a prospect from afar. . I am a girl who appreciates a nicely defined arm…not Mr. Universe over inflated…nicely muscled, proportion is important. That is the historical data.

So, with that history, there I was yesterday at the gym, pumping iron…or whatever the mineral that is a level below iron in weight would be more accurate…and when I was done I moseyed my way over to the bikes to do a brief 15 minute cardio cool down. My wonderful husband joined me minutes later on a bike next to me. I am rocking out to 18 Wheeler by P!nk getting into a groove and I notice a tall, nicely defined torso at the front counter, not too much of a moral struggle as the face was nothing special…reminded me of a Russian athlete. So I turn to my husband and, nodding my head in Nice Torso’s direction say “So, do you think the bottom half is teeny tiny or REALLY BIG?” (Seems like many guys at the gym focus a lot of their energy on their biceps and pecs and ignore their lower half and it just looks weird to me…or the upper half is okay and then the legs are freakishly over developed…but I digress.)

You see, my husband KNOWS what I am attracted to. As it turns out, when Nice Torso walked away from the front counter…we could not tell if the rest of him was proportionate because he was wearing track pants. The point of this is that I am trying to do something along the lines of honoring my husband by not eyeballing another man and pointing out that I noticed this guy to my husband helped me redirect my thoughts. So, Nice Torso moves out of my line of sight and I am good to go.

Seconds later…Nice Torso Revisited steps up to the counter (WHAT THE? The gym I go to has not before had a plethora of eye candy!) I am distracted yet again and then my eyes travel North of said torso and the face is cute and has a great smile! COME ON! At this point, I turn to my husband and I know – that he saw – me seeing – Mr. Revisited and so, I closed my eyes and focused on whatever P!nk was singing and finished my workout blind.

I kept thinking about the reason I was at the gym. Is it because I want to be healthy and get into shape? Yes, but also, there will always be that young girl that lives inside my head who can remember the looks on the faces of and hoots of excitement from all the boys when one of the boys in 6th grade brought in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition – 1981 with Christie Brinkley on the cover…yeah, that one, and thinking that I need to look like that someday and struggling ever since then and never EVER reaching that ideal.

I do not need my husband comparing himself to these guys and wondering if he measures up. He far exceeds them! How often have we said “married not buried” or “look but don’t touch” It is the attitude that one small thought cannot POSSIBLY lead to one small step, or lead to another step, or a leap and then the next thing you know…you are not happy with what you have.

Am I saying that comparison shopping leads to unhappiness in your marriage or even infidelity? No, yes, maybe. It all depends on the situation I guess. For me, I don’t think that it is God honoring for me to be looking at these other men, not to mention whether or not it is honoring my husband, even though I believe myself to have the best marriage EVER. This is not about that. I don’t want my husband to doubt that I am happy with him. That I love him and am attracted to him as he is; that he does not have to be any version of “ideal” other than his current self.

Just Venting…..

but Jesus holds us to a higher standard: Matthew 5:27-30

The NIV versions states it this way:


“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’a]”>[a] 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.



I like the way The Message translates the same verse:


27-28“You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.

29-30“Let’s not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here’s what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump.

I gave up Facebook and Twitter for Lent and all I got was: Perspective

I realized that all of the “friends” I have on Facebook are not people who I mingle with daily and know very little about. We have never shared a meal, a cup of coffee, or even phone numbers and yet, I was peering into their lives in an almost voyeuristic fashion. However, the flip side of this could be Narcissism. On both sides of the coin actually.

I also wonder if people even pay attention to the “status” on my “wall” because according to my email alerts…which I neglected to cancel…a couple of people have posted something on my wall…to those people – sorry, I wont respond until Easter.

Oh, and PHOOEY ON YOU if you posted on my wall thinking I might have forgotten to cancel my email alerts and are trying to tempt me into checking. Well, let me tell you this people. I QUIT SMOKING six years ago…not checking Facebook is a CAKEWALK.
So, with this particular perspective, if I do continue my facebook membership, I may be culling the list of “friends” – I realize the crazy making of facebook was due to the fact that my home page was littered with the CONSTANT status updates of close to 200 people…some of whom update every 30 minutes…and I felt obligated to READ ALL OF THEM.
In the words of Susan Powter: “Stop the insanity!”

This was said about me on Facebook:

“Cant stand “church going “, hypocritical people who judge those before they know them!! Remember god does not judge so neither should you!!!”

Why does this bother me?
I think it is because, I feel like I make Christ followers look bad to this person…and in turn to all this person’s friends on Facebook.
Which in turn, is a poor reflection on Christ. (and He obviously had nothing to do with THIS!)

I know this person is lashing out at me, but it made me evaluate my action or statement that caused this person’s reaction. First, it had nothing to do with the person who made the comment, this person’s outrage is on behalf of someone else and is part of a long line of miscommunication that I went to the source that same day and sorted out. Second, no, we as human beings are not to judge someones heart or character. That is the job of God alone. However, as human beings we are allowed to judge behaviors and to have opinions. Without that, there would be pedophiles, rapist, murders, and thieves running about willy nilly as well as generation upon generation of unruly and undisciplined children.

On top of that, “the best predictor of future behavior, is past behavior”

And so in the wake of a very trying couple of weeks I find this just exhausting.

People are having a hard time accepting that I am a Christ follower.
Maybe they CAN accept that but seem to think that now that I follow Christ that I am no longer supposed to act like a human being.

I am not perfect.
I still cuss (GASP!)
I still have fears
I still drink (FOR SHAME!)
…I did quit smoking…but that was for purely selfish reasons…like wanting to live longer.

I am sure there are a plethora of things that I still do that are not Christ-like…

…but I am not Christ.

I am human…and as such, throughout my day I find myself turning to God in a constantly ongoing conversation where I ask his opinion and …don’t hear an answer right away…or ask forgiveness (and receive it) for a comment or even a thought that was just inappropriate, or an action that I should not have done, or for hesitating when He presents me an opportunity to further His kingdom and it turns into an opportunity lost. However, this relationship I have with Him, also fuels me to get over myself and do what I can when I feel it is what He wants me to do. Learning to tell the difference between what He wants and what I think He wants…that can be a challenge but it takes an investment of time to learn the intricate and quiet language that he uses to reach each of us in our own unique ways. I am investing in that. For the record, I feel that even after 5 or 6 years now, I am still in freshman classes….first semester.

My love for Him, and His for me has opened up this line of constant communication that I cannot imagine my life without. It has brought about me a sense of peace that is almost always present but there is still a part of me that gets riled up when I begin to feel persecuted…such as the comment made above. It usually happens when my past collides with my present. There is a lot more history behind that comment than the comment alone. I have to remember that.

The God sighting in all of this was a comment made back to that person on Facebook:

“God does judge, but he and he alone has that responsibility.I love the Lord, and so I love people too.God said ” love thy neighbor as you love yourself”. I hope this helps you…. I don’t know what you are dealing with , but know that you don’t have to worry about what people think about you, but what God knows about you.”

Clouded judgement

In a conversation regarding a conversation regarding a conversation, a wise counselor (person 1) spoke about how she pointed out that the person she was speaking to (person 2) did not hear or acknowledge the other persons (person 3) pain in a conversation that she (person 2) had with that person (person 3). It was a profound moment for me.

That person (person 2) had just shared the same conversation with me and I had agreed with her perspective…I did not feed it, but I felt that she had done a good job in handling the situation. I forgot that there were TWO people involved. TWO people that I cared about. TWO people that God loves and I was not thinking of that other person’s (person 3) pain either because I had not been in proximity to their pain.

I have been trying very hard to be neutral and available to both of these people because they are both my friend, but when it came down to it, because person 2 had been sharing more of her pain and struggle with me than person 3 (who has not contacted me in sometime other than to forward a silly text) my judgment had become clouded and I forgot how much he matters and rather than providing her (person 2) with a suggestion that would soften her heart and even segue toward forgiveness, I gave her kudos for recognizing her boundary issues.

Imagine my palm slapping my forehead.

Just a word on tatoos

I have tatoos. I like tatoos in general, but I hate my own. They are poorly done and one is a place that I regret because I can ALWAYS see it. That being said, young people – if you are going to get a tatoo, choose wisely the design, the artist, and the location.

The design should be timeless, one that you wont regret when you are old.

The location should be a) something that won’t sag or wrinkle with age and ruin the design when you get old and b) something you can cover if say…you simply think it would be appropriate to cover it (like your wedding day or a job interview)

The artist should be talented and experienced…both of which they should be able to provide proof of.

How did I come up with these three “rules”? See below.

Poorly done, bad location, lame design, amateur artist.

I will spare you the one that I have where a word (not a name) is spelled incorrectly.

I however have one rule that I wish EVERYONE ON THE PLANET would abide by. NEVER …did I say it loud enough NEVER EVER, have a name of your significant other tatooed onto your body. Stuff happens, and someday they may no longer be significant.

Point in case, I was driving to work and a morning show was featuring a female comedian who shared a story of her friend who received a TEXT from her husband stating he wants a divorce. Long story short, for their 3rd anniversary she had his name tatooed on her, um, “hoo ha.” (And apparently it is not a common first name) Can we say REGRET boys and girls?

I love my husband. I have his last name on my drivers license. I think that’s enough.