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Faith

No Means No

Better life

 

Women don’t leave a relationship easily, even when it is one of pain. They tend to give the benefit of the doubt more than is wise – trusting that the other person didn’t mean to cause harm. She eventually learns that your damage, while difficult, didn’t reach her mind or her soul. This realization is her point of no return. She is finished with you.

Hers is a forever good-bye. Nothing you can say or do will change that. You’re fooling yourself if you think otherwise. Her trust has been destroyed. She is so much stronger because she now knows that she deserves better than what you could ever give her. She moves forward, totally detached from whatever space you had taken up in her life. She will never reattach to your kind of betrayal.

Ever.

You are only a fading dark spot on the horizon– a minor mistake made and forgotten. She doesn’t look back. Her eyes face the next season as life brings forth the joys and blessings that were meant for her all along. She has experienced the worst from you. She cherishes her new best life and is thankful for it.

You are not, nor will you be, any part of her life – ever. Civility and respect means that NO means NO. You don’t have a say in her definition of that word.  The best you can hope for is that she has forgiven you.

Take heed: Forgiveness does not mean reconciliation.

Understand these words… and go fix yourself.

God Doesn’t Do Lucky

God Doesn't Do Lucky

I haven’t posted a blog in six months.

What’s that about?

So, I thought I could sit and draft 50 words or so and say I have.

So I typed some words.  Then I deleted them.  I typed some more – deleted them too.

Then I just stared at the blank screen and noticed a pop up message that said, “You haven’t written anything yet.”

That was helpful.  No, I’m not being glib.  It was helpful because it made me think.

What else have I not done?

haven’t lost that 10 pounds I’ve talked about for yeeeeeeears.

haven’t gone to Italy – I really want to go.

haven’t … hmmmm,  so many have nots that I’m embarrassed to list them.

Better to list my haves I think!

have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior

have loved and been loved by my husband and children

have learned unconditional love from my dog

have many wonderful family and friends

-have good health

have made a difference in people’s lives

have made mistakes – have asked for forgiveness – have given forgiveness – have forgiven myself

have helped others in little ways because those add up to big ways

-have lived a happy life.

Ah, this is helpful because it makes me think.  I’ve actually done all of the important things in life.

Aren’t I lucky.

As my friend Valye said, “No honey, you are blessed.  God doesn’t do lucky.

Changing Hearts is God’s Work

Forgiveness
Proverbs 22:3 says, “The prudent foresees evil and hides”.

How does a person forgive something that — to them — is unforgivable?

Jesus, while in agony on the cross said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34).

Often in our humanness we wonder, “But what if they do know? What if their actions are calculated and self-serving?”  Distrust replaces love and forgiveness and when this happens, it’s time to be honest with God.  The best way to do this is by going to His word for direction.

Proverbs 22:3 says, “The prudent foresees evil and hides himself”.  But sometimes forgiveness requires caution because it is different from trust, necessitating the dynamics of a relationship to change.    Until an offender has a true change of heart, and because we can’t see that person’s heart, wisdom says to limit our trust in that person.

Trust is a like a four-way intersection where adherence to the wishes, viewpoints, or beliefs of others must intersect with humility and acceptance, even though they may not be the same as yours.  Pretense of respect and honor, shrouded in hollow words are as transparent as a full moon on a cloudless night.   For honor to shine true, the respect must be real.  How do we know if it’s real? We must proceed with caution given to us by the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:16, “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves”. 

Forgiveness doesn’t mean acceptance, or even forgetting of transgressions. It requires truth which means letting go of that which has caused hurt, whether forgiveness was requested or not.  This becomes a decision of the will – a conscious choice made in the name of Christ – to forget as much as possible and to move on with your life. It doesn’t mean we’re not to forgive.  Forgiveness may influence our world, but we must be humble and grateful for God’s love and forgiveness of us as we forgive others while maintaining the recognition that we are not God.

Changing hearts is God’s work.

 

What If History Doesn’t Repeat Itself?

Our nation is scaring me.  Why are we fighting each other? We all want the same thing.  Our nation’s history, which is young compared to the rest of the world, should  be preserved. We must face our wrongs and be proud of how we made them right.  We became a great nation not through hatred, but through forgiveness, courage and engagement.

Forgiveness

“We forgive by preserving the symbolic reminders of the victims of the past with our ability to change and to celebrate the elimination of those wrongs as we remain united.”  — Linda Breeden, Author

On June 6, 1944 over 100,000 soldiers were killed in an invasion on French soil on Normandy Beach, known as D-Day.  Many of us have grandfathers, fathers, brothers, uncles and friends who served in that war, of all races and beliefs – all heroes for their sacrifice.  Many of them remain there today, buried in war cemeteries which also include the graves of over 21,000 German soldiers – the very people they were fighting.

Many American WWII veterans say today that they feel no animosity to those German soldiers, seeing them as another segment of the victims of Hitler.  German visitors to these cemeteries are reminded of the memories of their grandparent’s war record, confused and, at the same time, ashamed of their confusion.

One British veteran, David Edwards, said it had taken years to feel at peace about the Germans who were killed there, saying, “These German boys never wanted to fight us, any more than I wanted to fight them.”

Many of the European children today have been raised in a unified world and they ask,“Why did people hate each other?”  They deserve to know about the reasons that fueled a war of opposing beliefs so they don’t let history repeat itself and in the doing, achieve peace through forgiveness of a time that’s hard for generations today to comprehend because they didn’t experience it.

Courage

“For in a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, ‘hold office’; everyone of us is in a position of responsibility; and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities. We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve.”   — President John Kennedy

In the 1950s,  Atlanta native Ivan Allen Jr.,  the grandson of a confederate soldier, ran for governor of Georgia on a  platform of pro-segregation.  He lost the election.

In 1961, as a businessman he brought together black leaders and white businessmen to discuss ending segregation occurring at a downtown lunch counter.  The agreement was reached.  Later, when he was elected Mayor he removed the “colored” and “white” signs from City Hall, he gave black policemen the power to arrest whites, appointed the first black firemen and ordered the desegregation of city parks.

John F. Kennedy asserted in his book, Profiles In Courage, that the duty of elected officials is to “lead, inform, correct and sometimes even ignore constituent opinion” – if it serves the nation’s best interest. He called upon Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. to testify before Congress in support of the civil right legislation he wanted enacted.  Mayor Allen consulted with local civil rights leaders about agreeing to the President’s request.  They opposed his testimony saying he was, “too valuable to sacrifice”.

Putting aside his political jeopardy, Mayor Allen testified in support of the bill because he felt it was in the best interest of the country.  The media attacked, calling him “Benedict Arnold”.  A year after his testimony and eight months after President Kennedy’s assassination, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed.  Mayor Allen was also reelected by majorities from both the black and white voters of Atlanta.

Mayor Allen is known as a “human bridge”, his courageous actions enabling Atlanta to become “the city too busy to hate.”

Engagement

“Confrontation doesn’t change minds. Engagement does.”  Andrew Young, Civil Rights Icon and Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia

The United States of America was built by a unified resilient work ethic, a unified dedication to the pursuit of freedom and equality, and  a unified faith, hope and belief in our nation’s identity.  It is sad that the definition of any of these three are often defined today by emotional outrage of “what the other side says”.

Today, symbols seem to be fueling this outrage.  Free speech rights have become a battlefield where there is no engagement – divisions often resulting in injuries and death.  Public shaming has further divided our nation as evidenced by the reassignment of an ESPN sports announcer because of his name, Robert Lee.  Mr. Lee is a young, Asian-American man doing what he does best – sports announcing.  Outrage to ESPN’s action highlighted the lunacy that is dividing us further and breeding fear that this can happen to any one of us, regardless of our beliefs.

One of the most contentious symbols remains the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial.  In 1915 a member of the Daughters of the Confederacy commissioned a sculpture of three confederate leaders to be carved on the side of the mountain.  The project had starts and stops and it took about 57 years to achieve, with the final work resuming, oddly enough, in 1964 with completion in 1972.

In a recent interview by NPR with civil rights icon and former Atlanta mayor, Andrew Young, he provided the same leveling that Mayor Allen did back in the 1960s.  Mayor Young opposes the fight to tear down confederate memorials, calling them a distraction to how far our nation has come.

When asked about the Stone Mountain carving, he responded with a voice of reason based on his many sacrifices over the years, “I think it’s too costly to re-fight the Civil War.  We have paid too great a price in trying to bring people together.  I would only consider addition to it – a freedom bell; because Martin Luther King, in his speech said, “let freedom ring from Stone Mountain in Georgia.”

What a celebration the ringing of that bell would be as we view rather than wage war over these symbols of the mistakes of our past so we don’t repeat them.

 

 

Sources:  Time World Magazine DDay, Profiles In Courage, NPR interview with Andrew Young.

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a pencil…sometimes an eraser

 

Happiness means that sometimes you’re a pencil…and sometimes you’re an eraser…

The opposite of happy is not unhappy, it is just sadness. Saying you’re unhappy is diluting and hiding from the actual emotion of sadness that both our physical body and our spirit must recognize and process in order to release it. This allows us to once again feel happy, because happiness is not exclusive of sadness.  The expression that ‘Life happens’ is just a way to hide from this. Life begins and ultimately ends with various pauses in between that make up life’s journey. Understanding this is to help us better appreciate the nuances and depth of each person’s journey.

music

I recently asked my Facebook friends a question:  If you are not happy, but you are not UNhappy, what are you?  Interesting responses include:

Complacent

Contented

 Numb

Bored

Indifferent

Medicated

Somewhat happy

Even keeled

Possibly accepting hopelessness

Happy and content with Jesus

Preoccupied and can’t think long enough to decide

Serene

Regardless of the variety of responses, each comes from our own individual perspective.  If each person were to expand on their response we could all learn more about when to be the pencil and when to be the eraser – either way, we would all feel happy in the doing. All of us are searching for happiness, but we need to know what makes us happy because often it is the NOT knowing that brings us sadness.

Don’t let sadness win!  Acknowledge it, feel it, then let it go however long that takes or in whatever form your individual circumstance requires. Expect the sun to come up each day, expect to love and to be loved; expect to forgive and to be forgiven; expect to be happy and to make others happy, if it is only to smile, to pray, to be kind, or maybe to share a “God Wink” such as this one from my good friend, Karen, by permission.

“Contentment is saying I’m okay with what I have and where I’m at.  I think contentment is a deeper level of happiness. Happiness (the ‘oh boy’ feeling of joy) is fleeting, but contentment is like a bed of hot coals. There are not flames, sparks or excitement, but there is constant steady warmth that warms your soul and still cooks your food.”

                                                                                                       – Karen Reed Woodcock

Words

bill cover

Family is a dichotomy of love and hate – especially true in the relationships of siblings.  Both emotions are steered by the conditions of their lives as they grow up.  There were six of us children, growing up as “army brats”.  That meant that every two years we moved to a new state.  As a result, we became each others best friends because we had to depend one-on-the-other to be the constant in our lives during our formative years.

Then as we grew up we drifted into forming individual lives, only coming together as a family unit on holidays.  That is until life began to bring us back to those feelings from our childhood when we were the only ones who recognized and who truly understood what the others were feeling.  It is those very feelings that cause us to join in God’s word in Isaiah 40:1 “‘Comfort, yes, comfort My people!’ says your God”  bringing forth the unconditional comfort of family.

Today, my guest blogger is my oldest brother, Bill.  When we were kids, he let me stay up late and watch The Twilight Zone with him on Friday nights, followed by those scary Godzilla movies on Saturday mornings, and laughed with me while watching Bugs Bunny cartoons, enabling me to face fear with the knowledge that better times always come.   When I was only nine and weighed 75 pounds, a bully at school stomped my foot, causing me to cry.  The next day at school, Bill walked up to the bully, stomped the bully’s foot and said, “Don’t ever do that to my sister again!”  And the bully never did, nor any other bully because words do get around.

Bill is the one who, when I was home with a very bad case of the flu, signed me up for cheerleader tryouts; not something I had even considered.  He then became my campaign manager by again signing me up to run for student council – also not on my “bucket list”.  He helped me write the words to my campaign speeches and encouraged me to reach all the way to my toenails and to pull up the courage to share them in front of the student body (I was very shy).  Imagine my surprise when I succeeded at both and both are two of my best high school memories.

He is the one, as I struggled with the decision to go to college after getting married said, “Just try it.  Take one class, make it your favorite subject – and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to go back.  You just need to know what it’s like.”  As usual, he knew me better than I knew myself.  Not only did I graduate cum laude from his favorite – The University of Alabama, I went on to obtain my Masters Degree.

He is the one who is calm in the storms of our lives as siblings today – all with words of peace, faith and hope, – and a whole lot of prayer.  I want to share the words of this man who backs them up with actions, making a difference.

 

BillWords by Bill Brewer

“I guess, just about everyone has heard the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I, for one, have never embraced this saying, because words do have meanings and they do have consequences.

What if you had printer in your home and as you went through each day each word you spoke was printed from the printer, page by page? What would be there for you read when you got home? Would you share it with everyone or just shred it?

Then, what if for one day each word that you spoke would travel across the screen of all television sets in your hometown? Could you then go out and walk in public with your head held high? Or would you hide and only come out when it was dark?

In a spiritual way, each word we speak appears on the screen of God’s television. When each of us talk to people we meet each day, we should always strive to use words that God would approve of.  Always remember that a word of kindness and encouragement, especially to a child, could give hope to a person that had none before, or give that child the needed encouragement to excel.

A single kind word or act to someone close to you, or even to a stranger, could show them that someone cares. So as you start each day ask yourself. “What will my printer say about me today?” But more importantly, when the day ends, we need to ask ourselves, “What would Jesus say about the words we spoke today?”

Bill, husband to Kathy, father to two daughters and grandfather to five grandchildren, brother, friend, veteran, refers to himself as “Just a God loving country boy.”

And so he is.

 

Giving Up is Harder Than You Think

forsythia“What are you giving up for Lent?”

This is a common question among my fellow Methodists. I must confess, the first time I “gave up” something for Lent was about five years ago. Oh, I had tried in previous years, but just couldn’t sustain forty days; just too much temptation I guess.

A few years ago I was determined to try again. I knew it had to be meaningful and near and dear to me – a real sacrifice! Anyone who knows me, if asked, “What would be hard for her to give up?” resounding response would be – SWEETS!!!

It was so hard. But every time I was tempted, I would tough through it by remembering why I was giving something up. After all, Jesus gave his own life for us.

What a success it turned out to be – I lost 14 pounds in forty days. This giving up something paid off. Oh, and Jesus’ sacrifice did too – so that we might have everlasting life.  Of course, it wasn’t long after Lent season when I began to eat sweets, and in the doing – you guessed it – I found those 14 pounds again. Lent didn’t change me a bit.

It is now Day 6 of this season of Lent. I didn’t give anything up this year except worry and anxiety. I modified my strategy because it’s so hard to give up something.  Therefore, this Lent season I am receiving by focusing on my relationship with God. I schedule a quiet time each day in self-reflection and prayer. I begin by closing my eyes seeing only darkness and I think about what happened yesterday, and what’s going on today, and I begin to feel His presence right beside me. I then pray by repeating, “God, God, God” with each breath as I allow sparks of thoughts in that darkness to guide me in my prayer, ending with,“Father, thank you, forgive me, lead, guide, and direct me that I may serve You through and with others. Amen.”

Until yesterday that is – it was but Day 5 of Lent.  I got busy with errands, laundry, and dinner and a movie with a friend, and I missed my time with God.

Temptations come in the most mundane forms; allowing worry and anxiety in again…just like those 14 pounds. I’ve always thought that the simple act of living your best life is a daily endeavor, requiring courage, which is but fear and faith holding hands.

As I took Teddie for his walk today, I noticed the forsythia bush has the slightest glimmer of tiny yellow buds. Snow and ice had bent it’s straggly limbs only days ago. I smile with the knowing that seasons don’t wait until everything is perfect. Nor does God.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”  –1 Peter 5:12

Friendship

You can have old friends; you can have new friends – but, you can’t have new old friends. However, you can have new friends that feel like old friends, and you can have old friends that feel like new friends.

Life happens and as a result we change and our friends change. But, we don’t have to change friends; we just need to adapt to the changes in ourselves and those in our friends. Those inevitable life changes can make us angry, afraid, insecure, sad, happy, joyful – or, if we are lucky, a better person, albeit a different one. Love doesn’t dissolve for these friendships. Sometimes it’s the love we have for ourselves that dissolves. We lose our way, our identity and it’s just too hard to figure out how “to be”. So we just hide out in plain sight and true friends recognize that type of “hide-and-seek” game we play with ourselves.

Self-awareness limits judgement on the two-sided coin of friendship – with one side being trust and the other being forgiveness. Friends come and friends go – but a true friend sticks by you like family. Proverbs 18:24

That is what friends do.Friend picture

Happy Fall Y’all

What's that leaf doing here? It wasn't here a minute ago!
What’s that leaf doing here? It wasn’t here a minute ago!

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” 

– Corrie Ten Boom

Every New Year kick-starts us by focusing our attention on new beginnings. Spring then propels us to a time of renewal, while Summer slows us down as we enter those “lazy, crazy days” of fun and relaxation. As we enter Fall, I begin to wonder:  What were my New Year’s resolutions? Did my spring cleaning get done? Did my “bikini weight loss goal” happen?

Some would say Fall is a time of cooler weather, football rivalries, comfort foods like soup and chili, the smell of burning leaves or of wood smoldering in a fireplace. Crazy Halloween costumes and treats or tricks are only days away while gathering with family and friends to give thanks for our country over a feast of golden brown turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, with a pumpkin pie finale is weeks away. The Christmas season has begun making its advancing presence felt, although it is months away.

Each day I accompany my dog Teddie on his twilight walks, with the sun either peeking over the horizon of the trees as it brings forth the dawn of a new day, or its descent teasing us with a gentle, albeit, restless reminder that the day is coming to a close. Teddie exudes glee with either time. Head down, he walks as fast as those little legs will carry him, nose to the ground searching out something elusive. Other times, he chases birds, or bunnies. or squirrels and with what purpose, I do not know. His walks are his own and the one thing I have come to realize is this: he is in the moment with the importance and enjoyment of that moment only. It is his moment and it is up him to do with it what he will.

For me, Fall is a season of reflection that usually occurs during those twilight walks with Teddie. Two seasons gone; did I do the right things –  those which are only important in this moment and on this day? Life is happening right now. Did I laugh out loud when Teddie ran after that bird that teased him into a chase? Whether this moment right now is joyful or sad, hurting or healing, the important thing to reflect on is in the knowing that everything changes. Life happens in the moment and if we fail to be in the moment with life, then we simply miss it.

What has happened then becomes a memory, often leaving us changed. What will we do with those changes? What will be is YET to be; leave the excitement or the worry for then. Be here now. Stop and look at the vibrant, as well as the muted colors of nature in the fall – both have purpose. Inhale the crispness of the morning air and feel the remaining warmth of the fleeting afternoons that are not yet willing to let summer go.

Nature grows older, but no less beautiful as it prepares for what is to be. Life grows shorter as the moments pass. That is our destiny. So for now, let time take care of itself.

In this moment do good things. Be kind to yourself and be kind each other and remember to pray. Laugh with others, cry with others, care for others – but make life count in this moment.

Lights of Grace:
Matthew 6:25-27 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

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