When You Say Nothing At All

 

Opinionnoun – a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

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In the world of ministry, as in the political arena I suppose, your own voice becomes not your own but rather you must decide and calculate, what the cost or gain will be to actually have an opinion on something. There is a unmerciful machine that rages forward and unforgiving attitudes still prevail. Just ask Rob Bell or Jen Hatmaker two Christians who dared have opinions in our world. Books, endorsements, and speaking engagements were pulled immediately. The idea of keeping a public page on Facebook and a private page of Facebook or just getting off of social media completely is in full force. Ask people privately what they think and get a view of people who are deciding that in order to speak to everyone you can offend no one.

So I stopped writing about controversies because I didn’t want controversy in my life. I    wanted to speak to everyone about anything. I wanted to hear opinions and views that weren’t my own because that is where I either solidify my view or see a perspective I    had not seen before and thereby change my mind.

Only that goes completely against who I am. I sat as a small child at the dinner table and discussed politics and world  views with my parents. In fourth grade I wrote to President Gerald Ford and I received an answer. I don’t have an opinion because I’m a Christian, or a pastor, or a woman. I have an opinion because I have a brain who is forever learning and wants to be challenged.

“But you’re going to have to minister to people who don’t share your view and they won’t be able to receive from you because of it.”

WHY? Because we can no longer tolerate an opinion that isn’t ours. We’ve become so engrained to think that if they do not think or do things as we do then they are against us. They aren’t of our tribe so therefore they are out.

Luke 9: 49John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.” ESV

Mark 9:38“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” 39“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40for whoever is not against us is for us. NIV

Only here’s the thing: When we say nothing we say much. While quiet observation serves while opinions are formed there are also two camps forming, those who think you are with them and those who think you are against them. Ultimately this is really not about you. It’s internal strife turned outward. It’s intolerance. Sadly, it’s prevailing in America.

What would you say if opinions truly mattered and we were really a free people?

 

All Over Again

 

 

 

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My son Anthony and my daughter-in-love Frances arrived on Saturday night for a visit. They are expecting their first child in May. Frances tells my husband that she bought him a book And hands him this one called How To Babysit A Grandpa. He laughed and said thank you then went to sit in his recliner and joyfully opened his book. You see, we’re about to be grandparents to our very first grandchild.

I watched him read the book and chuckle as he turned the pages. His smile filled his eyes, “Listen to this”, he exclaimed, “Snacks for a grandpa, ice cream topped with cookies, olives served on fingertips, anything dipped in ketchup, cookies topped with ice cream.”

When I posted on Facebook the cover of the new book my husband had been given, he wrote, “I can’t wait to meet my babysitter.”

I fell in love with him all over again. 

Here’s to our new adventures in this next season.

I wonder if Lulu the Wonder Dog will love the baby as much as we do? I am sure she’ll appreciate the clean up when he begins eating solids.

Despite It All

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Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.

I read a post on Facebook recently how happy posts were fake because people chose to post that their lives were good despite the fact that they had real problems. It made me think about how you can still be happy and positive despite difficulties, or you can judge others in your unhappiness. Not everything in life has to be a major catastrophe to your well-being.

I am in a really happy place right now. I’m sure my life, speech, and yes, Facebook posts show that. It took me a long time to get here and I am relishing in it. I was a pregnant teen who raised children to the age of 48. I had never had an adult life where it was just me. I had never written out a monthly budget that didn’t include children’s lunch or field trip money, a college fund savings, or a extensive food budget. I can leave home on a moment’s notice and not worry about babysitters or dinner. I can clean my kitchen spotless and know when I get up in the morning it’s going to be exactly how I left it. I can turn the music on as loud as I want to and dance without fear of someone saying, “Mom! Stop! It’s so embarrassing when you act like a kid.” I can buy tickets to a concert or a play and not worry about what is being taken out of the budget.

I have a man who loves me beyond measure and is close by my side. We like the same things and we very rarely even argue these days. It’s a peaceful season in our life. My job is going well. I have a lot to do but I’m no longer so driven towards it. I am enjoying the work that I do at a new level. I have a dog that I think is incredible, she is pure love and she is a total spas, who I think has the Young’s A.D.D. problem.

Do I have problems? OF COURSE I DO!! Everyone does. My problems big and small have always been there, not the same ones but isn’t there always something? I’d be lying if I said I don’t sometimes miss being a mommy. Sure, I like the freedom, but there are those days I want to watch Sleeping Beauty with the Princess Casey. The great thing is my age and life experiences have put them in perspective. They no longer rule my every thought. I’ve learned to be content. If you want to learn to be happy, click here for an article I found profoundly useful.

Here’s the problem with judging the heart of someone and determining their motives; you aren’t always right. A person can be happy in the midst of pain. A person can be upbeat even in the midst of chaos. Happiness is a choice. Be depressed, angry, resentful, or petty, if you choose to be, but don’t expect that everyone else will be. It’s entirely up to you. As for me, I’m going to live out this last little bit of life in happiness, I’m going to let go and plunge into the deep things of life and experience freedom, despite it all.

Charles Turns 19

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My son Charles turned 19 on Saturday. He came into my life when he was 7. We spent the day going to a musical and out to eat.

Here’s what I love about Charles:

He’s a great looking kid. He has a genuine smile and is funny and smart.

He’s a great musician and it comes naturally to him.

He is the drama King of our family, but he wants to be an actor so I guess that works!

He is generous.

He’s a hugger.

He knows the word of God and has deep thoughtful conversations about the bible.

As a youngest child he always falls for anything his sister tells him, then resents the fact that she manipulates him. No matter how many times I tried to tell him, he gives her another chance.

He likes my cooking, that is, when I cook.

He knows I am proud of him and accept him as he is.

He is brave and trying life out on his own.

I love you Charles!

The Two Dogs

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A MAN had two dogs: a Hound, trained to assist him in his sports, and a Housedog, taught to watch the house. When he returned home after a good day’s sport, he always gave the Housedog a large share of his spoil. The Hound, feeling much aggrieved at this, reproached his companion, saying, “It is very hard to have all this labor, while you, who do not assist in the chase, luxuriate on the fruits of my exertions.” The Housedog replied, “Do not blame me, my friend, but find fault with the master, who has not taught me to labor, but to depend for subsistence on the labor of others.”

Children are not to be blamed for the faults of their parents.

Translated by George Fyler Townsend. Aesop’s Fables (p. 36). Amazon Digital Services, Inc..

I’ve Created My Own Prison

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We learn through pain that some of the things we thought were castles turn out to be prisons, and we desperately want out, but even though we built them, we can’t find the door.

Lamott, Anne (2012-11-13). Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers (p. 37). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Trapped verb
1. a contrivance used for catching game or other animals, as a mechanical device that springs shut suddenly.
2. any device, stratagem, trick, or the like for catching a person unawares.

That ideal that once seemed so right is now the very thing that holds you hostage to its demands. It’s a scary place to be, sometimes lonely, sometimes heartbreaking, and always a place that you can move from, but always with consequences. Consequences that will be good and bad because there is always pursuit in a prison breakout. Only you can determine when you are willing to face those consequences.

My girlfriend’s husband recently was promoted in his job. The money is fabulous but it doesn’t make up for the fact that he is working 12-14+ hour days, comes home after the children are asleep and leaves before they wake up. “This is too great a price to pay”, she told me, “I never have time with him and if I selfishly envision a date with my husband, I take a father away from the precious few moments he may have with his children.” When I asked her why he didn’t just take a step down in position she said, “We bought a new car, leased a beach house for the month of July, and put the kids in private school, we couldn’t even consider it now.”

Seemingly trapped without a door of escape.

An acquaintance who began dating a man who was still married but separated from his wife. Dating for almost two years now, but he hasn’t filed for divorce. She’s well invested into this relationship now. She loves him and he says he cares for her but he’s in counseling with his wife.

The fairytale that has trapped the princess in the tower.

My stepmom friend who fell in love with him before he met his kids and crazy ex-wife. Then thought somehow love was going to cover it all. Now everyone is miserable.

Locked in a state of despair.

Then there I stand. Trapped in an ideal, up until last year, where I thought any time sitting down relaxing was wasted time. Headaches and heartache and stress and anxiety were so normal to me.

I decided to take a Milwaukee Super Sawzall to that mindset and I cut a hole for a door to walk out of the castle I had built. I can’t tell you it was easy. I can’t tell you that I don’t still have moments of anxiety where I hear myself try to coax my body into one more activity. These days I stop and I take a good look at what the cost will be, and I pray for the wisdom to know what the right thing to do is, even when I am afraid the answer is no and I desperately want a yes.

Stepmom Appreciation

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This Sunday, May 19, is Stepmother’s Day. I want to give a shout out to all the women who are working this day out today. When you come into a pre-existing family, there are rules and rituals already established that you are not a part of. It’s never easy but with some help there is hope.

As one warrior to another, let me say that you are more than enough. You not only took on a new marriage and a new love of your life, you promise to love the children that are part of the man you chose. You now represent the majority of families in America, for better or worse. Love them well and know that you are a mentor. They  have two parents and so you aren’t there to replace anyone. You are merely there to mentor, guide, and love. You can do this! Get a great support group. They abound in communities and on the Internet. If you are looking for some help, don’t hesitate to find a good therapist who specializes in step families! I am part of a wonderful group of women who not only visit each other, call each other, and support each other, they are going through the same thing. Some are further along and help you navigate the path more clearly. My stepmom friends have been an absolute godsend to me! I don’t have a clue what I would have done without them. I honestly think my marriage would have been in danger without them. They cheered me on, they loved me through it, they told me when I was wrong, they helped me step back when I was in too deep, and they brought me back from the brink many times. I love them as sisters and mentors!

Today I honor you. You are brave. You are trying. You are amazing to even take on this endeavor. Most of you are not evil, though I’ve met some while not evil, are narcissistic and foolish. That’s an ugly combo. Hopefully that’s not you. I love you and just in case everyone forgets, I wish you happy Stepmother’s Day from the very bottom of my heart!