Thursday, April 30, 2009

Queen Esther

I just finished rereading the book of Esther. It's a short read, maybe an hour or so from start to finish. The king becomes angry with his queen and announces the search to replace her. A Hebrew man who has raised his niece prepares her to join the competition. The king falls in love with her and she is changed from faceless orphan to queen. A lot of detail happens a long the way and one day Esther has an opportunity to take advantage of her present status by claiming her history and through her courage the Hebrew nation is saved. If you've never read Esther, take an evening or two and learn about this young girl.

I was drawn to this little book of the Bible as I was doing my semiannual self-examination. Am I doing what God wants me to do? Am I even open to hearing his direction if it is something off the familiar path for me? An evening with Queen Esther put my heart right and gave me a new joy for the things of my life that I had been considering burdens. Certainly, it reminded me that it is not my own abilities that will make a difference in the world. It's my submission to God that will make my life meaningful. A few lessons from Esther are worthwhile for all of us to think about.

She had a Godly mentor. Esther's uncle was himself in a position of obedience to God and therefore able to use his place in society to help her find her place. She listened to him and ultimately she obeyed him despite his advice taking her into unfamiliar territory. She recognized that God placed people in her life and did not pick and choose who to listen to based on her own understanding.

She spent a year patiently preparing. For an entire year, Esther lived among other women who were pursuing the king as well. She spent this time making herself beautiful and learning the customs that would be required of her. Knowing her goal; she gave herself completely to the role without worrying that it might be time wasted.

She took on her role with humility. When she became queen, Esther continued to seek the wisdom of her mentor although she had risen above him in status. She didn't take herself so seriously she believed there was nothing left to learn. Now that she was queen, she wanted to know how to do it to God's glory.

She balanced the laws of society with her faith. When her uncle told her to seek the king's attention; she knew this could cost her her life if she did not await his invitation. Instead of brashly storming to the throne room she asked that the people fast and pray for her.

She knew who held her life in his hands. Although on the surface, it seemed the king would choose to spare her life, Esther knew that God held her future. She sought his pleasure before the kings by giving herself to fasting and praying as well. Much as she had spent a year making herself beautiful for her earthly king; she spent time making herself beautiful for her true King.

She earned the right. When Esther finally approached the king he received her with pleasure and love. She had proven herself along the way by guarding her reputation with him. She did not flaunt her position as queen and become offensive. The humble Hebrew girl remained within her and this beauty captured the king's heart.

She remembered her mission. She did not consider being queen her ultimate goal, but to save her people. She took a chance that speaking this request would end her life. But she did not let the temptation of wealth and attention distract her. She knew what God wanted of her and would achieve it whether it brought her a crown or the gallows.

Finally Esther approached her king and having already gained his love through her demeanor he readily invited her to tell him what she wanted. He heard her and took action on her behalf. She never believed herself to be up to any task so she slowed herself down to allow the work to be done in her to make her useful in God's hands.

In order to be a modern-day Esther, I must know whose attention I seek and what to do to make myself beautiful to him. I have to realize I am not entitled to anything and be willing to do the work inwardly and outwardly to become ready for my future. I must pray and fast and lead others in this God-seeking by teaching them to do the same so that when success happens; I have already acknowledged that it was by God's hand. I have to be brave enough to push against the system but have earned the respect of those I challenge. I have to be wise enough to see the people God surrounds me with and learn from them, being always willing to change myself when I learn to be better.

If you're feeling a little out of sorts or wondering about what God plans for you, I recommend an evening with Queen Esther. You might learn that there is a queen in your heart waiting to be presented to the King.

Esther 4:14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


It's 8:00 on the morning of my 42nd birthday. The temperature outside is already 67 degrees, a heatwave for Michigan in April. I've already been up for over an hour and opened up all the windows in the house to invite in the warm breeze. I'm daydreaming about spring cleaning and the promise of my summer time yard. The Mr.'s parents will be coming soon to stay with us for a while and I'm thinking ahead to do some extra housework each week in preparation.
I have just showered and being that it's too warm for my winter robe, I've pulled out my lightweight terry robe. Cherry blossom body cream and body spray. Rolled my hair in the large velcro rollers I use every day and blow dried through. Spritzed on the hair spray before I take out the rollers like I do every day to let my hair set. Pulled out the mani/pedi supplies to use while my hair finishes drying. My coffee in my green Marshall, Michigan mug is almost gone.
Just a lovely Saturday off with a day that couldn't hold more promise being that it's filled with the simplest of things that bring me the greatest joy. I'm amazed once again that this is where I've arrived after making so many other plans. This perfect moment that I never knew God had in mind when he denied me so many different wishes over forty two years.
Susan Smith comes to mind suddenly. Susan Smith, you remember her. On October 25 1994 she murdered her three year old son Michael and 14 month old son Alexander. She drove her car into a lake with the boys strapped into their car seats and let them drown. October 25, our anniversary. I remember so well the moments of the alert that the boys were missing based on her story that she'd been car jacked. I remember sobbing and praying and sobbing and praying and fearing, fearing, fearing. So close to home. Not in miles but in my heart and my head because my two little boys looked a lot like Michael and Alexander. Fifteen months apart, Michael and Alexander; Jay and Macky. "My God," I thought, "how is she even standing upright?" But she stood upright nonetheless crying and begging for the return of the two sons she had murdered. I have hated Susan Smith for fifteen years. And is as my way, I have thought of Michael as a high school senior and Alexander taking driver's education and hated her all over again. The boys' dad would've taken custody and she could've walked away. Their grandparents would've taken them. I would've taken them!
But she killed them so there will be no prom, no high school sweetheart, no warm spring breezes for Michael and Alexander.
Susan Smith sits in a maximum security prison serving a life sentence on the morning of my forty second birthday. I don't know why my mind is drawn to this woman today but this morning, I needed to ask God to forgive me for hating her. And I need to ask him to help me even more because this morning he asked me to pray for her. So I am praying for Susan Smith. For what I don't know, all I can seem to muster is her name called out to Christ right now. It's good that he knows the rest. Probably good that I don't.
I won't hate her anymore. I will try not to hope she is in torment for what she did. I'll try not to compare her boys to my boys and make it my pain.
I haven't yet figured out why Susan Smith is my responsibility spiritually but suddenly she is. The only answer I find is, just think if every Christian prayed for every murderer, criminal, sociopath, monster they heard of. Just think, how many times have I chosen not to pray for them having decided their actions make them ineligible for Jesus.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Today I Wish You Peace

Peace never comes from what is around us. Peace can only be realized in contrast, like diamonds on black velvet. It has weight and warmth that steadies and anchors us from the inside. Peace is always in spite of and never because of.

Peace is the breath of the Holy Spirit, God in us. Peace exhales from our soul into our surroundings and settles the air.

Peace is the discipline of God into the atmosphere of the world that rails against Him.

Peace cannot be imparted from man to man and yet overflows the peaceful to drape itself over those he touches.

Peace descends, soothes, sings, whispers, speaks, commands, calms, rules, saves.

Today, I wish you peace.

Psalm 29:10-11 The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever. The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

April 26, 2009

Psalm 103:1-5 Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

the best things

1. warm weather after a cold winter.
2. my favorite scents (freshly mown grass, cilantro, citrus,lilac.)
3. crawling into bed at night.
4. books.
5. laughing.
6. good hair days.
7. an organized office.
8. finishing a project.
9. dogs.
10. coffee (you had to know that would be there somewhere!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Butterfly & Barabbas

I learned something today that might be worth sharing. I mentioned my Barabbas last week, the person who keeps disappointing me and how I had determined to let him go. I made a promise to myself that I was really done with the pettiness. With God's help, I have kept that promise. I'm not taking the bait of nasty e-mails or allowing myself the nasty little pleasure of repeating my latest problem with the person. I don't know that I like him any better but I know I like myself better. I know what to expect and I accept it as all he can give. What a relief.

Today the Lord used the situation to show me something I hadn't been able to see through my lens of frustration and intolerance. Yes, this person's behavior makes my life harder in many ways. I have to take up some slack, I have to let words slip by without response and sometimes when there's a perfect opportunity to do otherwise; I actually protect him by not exposing what he really is. And how is any of this good? I am learning to be good. I am better from the lessons he has forced on me. If I am going to please God I have to let Christ take the larger portion of my reactions. I think that's why I like myself better. The more of Jesus I see in the mirror the prettier I am.

So thank you, Barabbas. Had you been all that I wished you were I could've easily remained stagnant. You would not have forced me to grow spiritually. I wouldn't have had to become more like Jesus to deal with you. And really, isn't anything that makes us more like Jesus a wonderful thing?

That is what I learned today as I found myself sitting peacefully in the presence of rude words and belittling conversation. Truly and deeply peaceful I learned that if God has decided to create a butterfly, a butterfly will indeed stretch her wings. And if I choose to remain within my cocoon of flesh, someone else will do the flying even if it is only to fly away from me.

Isn't God good?
Romans 8:20-21
For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Book Review and Dinner Menu

Finished all of my library books. The James Herriot biography by his son was awesome. If you've not read Herriot's books (All Creatures Great & Small series) and you appreciate gifted writing about simpler times, give them a try. Most libraries have them.

The Last Town On Earth was more or less lame. Seemed promising but turned into some kind of thinly veiled political statement that ended up ticking me off (conservative Republican that I am.) The story really went no where as the author was more interested in trying to convince the reader that all war is the result of capitalism and stupid men who follow without question. I'm still ticked off!

Now I have no library books left and it's cold and rainy out so no way I'm going anywhere. I'll have to read the shampoo bottle tonight.

I made a delicious dinner of stuffed chicken breast, asparagus, corn, salad and cranberry sauce and the Mr. won't get up and eat just because he has a fever and the flu. Ungrateful is what he is.


Today is the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. By the end of the shooting fifteen people were dead and twenty four more wounded. Ten years later parents have to be thinking, what would my twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven year old be today?
There are certain moments in history that mark my determination to pursue psychiatric instead of medical nursing. Columbine is at the top of the list. Two teenagers blew away the hopes, dreams and peace of countless people that day before they turned their anger back on themselves in suicide.
I have cried and cried for the victims and their families. I've cried no less for these two boys who will be known in history as murderers. And I want to know why. Ten years later we understand a little bit more. But only a little.
Please, pray for those who mourn today. And when you are finished, pray for those whose hearts are being twisted into something dangerous and ugly. Pray for those children might grow up to be called killers if someone doesn't find them in time.
And pray for us, all of us, who God has called to their side. Since April 20, 1999 I have felt that God stands next to me and points his finger into the distance commanding me...go. Go, find them and love them. The most unlovable, the most dangerous, the most offensive. Go and save them. And in saving them, we are all saved.

Isaiah 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April 19, 2009

Daniel 10:19 And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Makes Me Feel Loved

1. Text messages from the Mr
2. Being prayed for
3. Hugs
4. Being known
5. Gifts that aren't new
6. My home
7. When the Mr. looks right at me from the stage.
8. Waking up at 2:00 a.m. with my hand being held.
9. My parents.
10. The words "I love you." said so often they are scarcely noticed and make time stop for a moment all at once.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I see God's handiwork in oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruits. I can't tell you why but somehow citrus fruit seems utterly miraculous to me. Every time I see one of these amazing little citruseses it seems like God's version of luxury living. I'm more impressed by citrus than by a bowl full of precious stones. Silly, huh?
I have a basket of navel oranges on my kitchen table and I add lemon to just about everything except coffee. However, it's not that I so adore eating citrus. It is just so pretty and seems to serve no purpose other than God taking a moment during creation to focus on beauty just for the sake of the gift of it. I don't even particularly like lemon or lime flavored things like pies or desserts. But a lemon tree? Remarkable.
Maybe it's because I am a Michigan girl, we can't grow them there fragile citrus fruits 'round here. So when, in the coldest part of winter I go to the Kroger and see a bin full of beautiful fat yellow lemons it always seems to me that we cannot be that bad off. If we can go to the local store and buy something that only grows so far away, things are not as terrible as they could be. In a way, I think my house sort of reflects the beauty I see in nature. Greens and oranges and yellows on the walls. Jewel tones, depending on your definition of jewels.
Lemonade with a sprig of fresh mint in the summer or peeling a navel orange during a blizzard; it's luxury wrapped in beauty.
I just felt like thinking about simple joy today. Kisses from God right at my fingertips.

Isaiah 4:2 In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


The Mr.'s cell phone rang yesterday and the caller ID said it was our neighbor, Dave. Actually the neighbor across the street in our old house. Jay still lives in the old house so he still feels like a neighbor. Plus he's just the nicest guy and our friendly neighborhood auto mechanic. He can fix anything and never charges enough to make it worth his while.
Anyway, it wasn't Dave calling. It was his brother Tim. Tim was going through Dave's cell calling all the numbers to inform his friends that on Saturday, Dave took his own life.
Jay had called us Saturday afternoon when we were expecting him over to say he couldn't get out of his driveway, it was blocked by an ambulance. Now we know why. Dave leaves behind two sons; one in high school and the other 21 years old who is in the Marines. His school teacher wife is left to be both mom and dad to these boys as she tries to heal from the loss of her husband.
You'd think in my business I'd gain a certain ability to distance myself but it's not so. I'm as shocked as anybody else. And angry and sad and guilt-ridden. Why guilt? How can a guy live across the street from a psych nurse and commit suicide? Because it happens. People carry dark secrets and hopelessness inside their chests sometimes. No matter how willing I would have been to help him, he didn't allow me the honor. I don't know why Dave decided he could not face Easter morning. That this day of unspeakable joy for me was a day he could not wake up to makes this all the sadder. The day that defines hope was a day too late.
Please join me in praying for the peace of all those left in the wake of this tragedy. Dave knew Jesus. It is my hope that despite this final act of self-destruction, that Easter found him finally joyfully resting at the feet of Jesus.

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Does anybody care about book reviews? If not, click on by!
First let me tell you that I don't generally read inspirational books. Sorry. Just another way in which I don't groove to the same beat as many Christian women. So you'll rarely find a recommendation for Christian books here. And I may as well tell you that inspirational books for Christian women are pretty much never going to show up. Just not my thing.
That being said I am a reader. I am usually reading more than one book at a time and I always read for an hour in bed at night, usually 8-9:00 p.m. I don't generally watch television so while the men folk catch up on the Sara Conner Chronicles, I'm reading. This year I decided to stop buying books which wasn't easy for me. Books are my luxury item. But I realize that much as I love owning them, I don't need stacks of books all over the house and it's money better spent elsewhere. Now I go to the library every 3-4 weeks and check out a stack. I actually love the library so I'm not in too much pain. Our city has a library system and the nearest local branch is called the Snow Branch (pretty name, huh?) It's an older building as any proper library should be. My only complaint is that it's rather on the small side and I predict I will have more or less exhausted it by year's end. The good news is that the city does have several branches and there's another one five minutes away so I'll just have to expand a bit. Well for heaven's sake, obviously all of them are within the city so I guess I'm not exactly braving the wild frontier here.
I generally check out 3 fiction and 2-3 nonfiction books at once and read one from each category at a time. Some books are good reads but not good bedtime reads; I choose the more peaceful ones for bed. Currently reading the biography of James Herriot. LOVE James Herriot. Just finished 'Bridge of Sighs' which was good too. It was basically written from the perspective of a man in his sixties writing his own memoir and I love that kind of detailed historical story where I can picture the rooms of the houses and the voices of the people. It had a goodness to the story if that makes sense. The main character, Lou, and Bobby were best friends from boyhood through high school. Lou's wife, Sarah, meets Bobby in high school and they become close as well. Bobby leaves town and they lose touch over the intervening years leaving Sarah and Lou happy in their lives but both suspecting that Sarah could have loved Bobby instead. In the end through the unfolding of Lou's life from early childhood to 64 years old the characters are flawed but good and come to realize that the love they have invested in one another was the right love. I'm probably not doing the story justice but I appreciated the fact that the human doubt and imperfection were there without the author taking them into immorality and destruction. The characters controlled the impulses that would've torn their friendships and marriages apart because they were wrong, not because they always felt like it. And in the process they built a beautiful life that was no compromise of what might have been but far superior to what they could have imagined. I finished the book convinced again that people do not live free of doubts and second-guesses but can still find ultimate joy and completion if they stay the course of what is right. And let's be honest, most of us (all?) have moments when we wonder, what if I would've done this differently?
So that's my latest review. I'm about half way through the Herriot biography and starting 'The Last Town On Earth." That one is more disturbing so I probably won't make it my bedtime story, it's about a town wiped out by Spanish Influenza at the turn of the century and the descriptions of the victims are very graphic.
So, what are you reading?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

April 12, 2009

Isaiah 60:1-2 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


1. Singing

2. Laughing

3. Forgiving

4. Celebrating

5. Eating

6. Remembering

7. Thanking

8. Crying

9. Living

10. Worshiping
and apparently smoking a stogy whilst decorating eggs...

Friday, April 10, 2009


Luke 23: 18 And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas...

I have decided that today I am releasing Barabbas. At the trial of Jesus, the crowd was asked who should released by their Passover custom; Barabbas or Jesus? The known criminal or the Messiah? The crowd cried out for the release of Barabbas and Jesus was led away for crucifixion. This is the day we have chosen to recognize the sacrificial death of Jesus. Just like all of us, Barabbas' life was bought by Christ.

I don't know if this will become a part of my life or just be for this year, but today I am releasing Barabbas. There is a person who I have little patience for. Someone I have a hard time wishing well, whose mistakes I often wish would be noticed. Someone who I want to see suffer the consequences for what he does. I don't know the reason for every offensive act but I do know that some are intentional and some are lies and some are to throw someone else under the bus. He's my Barabbas today. Over and over again I have reacted with confrontation or frustration or, yes I've done this, talking about him to other people. I have heard people talk about him unkindly and even laugh at him and stood on the sidelines enjoying the show. After all, they aren't lying. He's earned every snide remark. I guess you'd say he's a "known criminal." Today I am releasing him. I know full well what he is and is not capable of as I've seen it almost daily. He has no intention of changing and never apologizes. He'll cross my path again next week and do it all over again. For my part, I am done. I am releasing him from all the little punishments I've imposed on him from my own hardened heart to my graceless words. I won't pick the gauntlet back up. I won't respond to another baiting comment or reply to another disrespectful e mail. Today I am setting him free.

This may me nothing to you but if it does strike a familiar chord; cry out to God and release Barabbas. And hide in the shadow of the cross.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

U.P.O. Update

I made an appointment finally with the UPO doctor who will see me on May 28 (first new patient appointment available.) They have this cool online registration so you don't have to get there half an hour early to fill out the forms which I liked. But here's a weirdness, first the patient profile asks for gender. Seriously? Do that many men go to the gyno? Secondly under birth control we are offered a vast choice menu none of which include my own method (tubal ligation.) I could choose barrier, spermicide, oral contraceptive, IUD, vasectomy even! Did tubals go out of fashion and no one told me? I feel like I should pick up a pack of condoms so I fit in with men at my gyno office.
Of course, the day after I make my appointment I am home after being up half the night with UPO/third ovary pain. After laying there from 3 a.m. until 5:30 getting increasingly frustrated that I had to get to sleep for work I decided, what the heck? I'm calling off. I make calling off such a big deal like I'm deciding whether to donate a kidney. Actually I once offered to donate a kidney (true story) with much less hesitation. The pain isn't the worst it's ever been but it ain't exactly a good time either. It radiates down my right leg and around my back with some heaviness in the area. Oh, and get this! I go to doctors all within one health system for ease of communication knowing that our hospital can access the records from any facility within the system. So I call the non-gender-discriminatory gyno with the space age online registration and tell her about my labs, recent pap, ultrasound, etc. and she asks me to bring copies to the office. I say, "They were all within your system, can you just access them?" Nope! It's not a huge deal so much as seems like a fairly easy thing to hook up. Maybe the doctor's offices don't have access to the mother ship or some such thing.
And let me tell you this brothers and sisters! If I have to have another pelvic after having one in November and being promised, PROMISED that I need not have another for three years I am going to be very unhappy. If you were here with me I would demonstrate my Papdance. It's not unlike the safety dance. It goes like this:
You lay on your back with feet in the stirrups and immediately being sweating profusely while freezing at the same time. Your lower regions are draped with the paper sheet so you can't see the troops moving in and are dependent on the voice updates ("Here we go. Relax. You're going to feel......") Then the dance begins. You realize the dance has begun because the doctor says things like, "Ok Mrs. Smith, doing fine. Just try to relax. Ok, hang in there. Relax for me. " And then the doctor will pat ever so gently on your outer leg at which point you realize that you are doing the back scoot by pushing against the stirrups. It is not unlike a mechanic pushing himself out from under a car. I actually did an impromptu demonstration of the Papdance at work yesterday albeit whilst sitting in an office chair. And fully clothed.
Speaking of at work and my support system there, they launched into a grand discussion of their prediction of a transvag ultrasound being required which is probably true. The point is they were enjoying the idea entirely too much especially in light of the Papdance. They are certain I will Papdance during this procedure. They are probably right.
And to prove that I have no better taste in work husbands than home husbands, my work husband has named the UPO Uncle Fester and has assigned a voice to it with which he speaks to me. This is so stupid because the voice sounds much more like Cousin It. I am certain the UPO would not sound like that. Then my other co-worker proceeds to suggest they send a microphone in with the ultrasound to find out who is right. This in a medical facility by health care professionals.
Well, that's all the news that's fit to print. For those of you gentlemen who do not go to the gyno yourself on a regular basis, you're welcome for the insider view.

Pic: Entitled 'A Kick To The Ovaries' which is how I feel.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


John 8:31 & 32 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

I was thinking about this scripture as I left work today. I was thinking that often this is quoted as the truth will "set" you free when in fact, it will "make" you free. Somewhere deep inside I knew there was a difference but I couldn't put my finger on it. I prayed about it as I was driving, just asking the Holy Spirit to reveal this to me; what is the difference? It seemed that I knew for sure there was a difference but it was just beyond my reach. I even wondered if it was something I had learned once a long time ago and just couldn't bring into focus right now.
Freedom takes many forms and means many things to individual people. I've never been in prison. I've never been in a psychiatric hospital in restraints. I've never been denied civil liberties. I've never been gripped by addiction. I've never been trapped in abuse. And yet, Jesus says that knowing the truth will make me free. This implies that we all need to be made free. Easily reasoned this means free from sin. In fact, this is scriptural in itself. While I am aware that I've been freed from the consequence of my sin even this didn't quite satisfy my question. What is freedom to me? What might the truth make free in me?
And do I understand if I have been set free or made free?
When I think of freedom I find a single word to encompass all that it is and that word is forgiveness. Forgiveness to me is freedom. This is the forgiveness of Christ modeled by the Mr. when I was a rotten wife in my twenties and he forgave as Jesus does. He forgave me with complete amnesty. A few times over the years immediately following our healing I'd begin to succumb to satan's accusations of how worthless I was. This would drive me to ask Dean's forgiveness again and again for old wounds. He didn't re-forgive me. He told me there was nothing left to forgive. It was not only gone in word but released from his heart. His hurt and anger was set free; and through this I was made free. I don't ask his forgiveness any longer because forgiveness that is truly given is once and forever. I continue to bask in the warmth of forgiveness first spoken over me eighteen years ago.
As for me, Christ in me healed the sickness in my heart when I truly and sincerely asked him to without motive to take it back and use it again. So I forgave Dean. I set him free from the labels I had placed on him and the list of offenses I had hung above his head. I set him free and I was made free.
Life is forever freeing those around us as we emulate Christ. If you are unable, for whatever reason, to meet my needs; I set you free from that expectation. And I am made free from disappointment. If you have sinned against me and do not want to make amends; I set you free from the voice of my accusations. And I am made free from anger.
Finally, this evening, I understood. To be set free someone has to be holding you captive. Someone is in control of your liberty. And in this, the captor is also imprisoned. If I have locked someone behind a door named "Hurt" I must stand on the other side of that door holding it shut. I must continually look at the Hurt and remember you as the one who wounded me. I cannot walk away from the door and into the light of Christ and the life he intends for me because if I step away you might escape. So I stand with my hand against the door holding you within your mistake. We are both captive.
When I embrace wisdom and faith; I will be drawn toward Christ and in the process I'll take my hand off the door. You will be set free.
I am made free. I was never the one behind the door so I am not set free. I am made free. I am changed into someone who sees grace and allows it to bathe my soul. I cannot hold a door shut against you. Grace takes its hand off the door and the prisoner within walks out. My freedom is that I no longer hold doors shut with pain, disappointment, fear, rage, anger, bitterness locked inside.
So forgiveness is freedom for me. My own forgiveness that so encompasses my being that I am not just set free from what was, I am made free and therefore not subject to what may be. I am free and cannot be again imprisoned. On either side of the door.
Christ recreated me, and in this, I was created free. I was reborn free. I am made free.
Maybe that is why my hands are free to stretch toward heaven.

Monday, April 06, 2009


"My parents were terrible people and I learned everything from them. I learned what not to be."

I heard this quote from an elderly gentlemen years ago and have never forgotten it. For the first time I realized that I had been dividing the world into good influences and bad; then doing my best to overcome the bad. When I heard these words my entire outlook changed. The number of teachers in my life grew enormously in a matter of seconds. Everyone is now my teacher. If there is great value in being taught how to do things right, there is as much value in learning how to avoid doing them wrong.

There was a time in this country when pioneers loaded their families into wagons and headed away from all influence except those that lived under the same roof. They considered themselves able to build a life out of the prairie and children could find all they needed in their parents. Everything from schoolwork to baking a pie to building a home out of nothing was the responsibility of a mother and father. Everything one needed to know was there at the dinner table.

In a little over one hundred years we have learned another lesson. If someone does wrong to me or in my presence, I am exempt from that particular issue as well as any I can attach to it. Bad parenting means I can be selfish, foolish or cruel. Bad marriages mean we can be spiteful. Bad bosses mean we can...walk into a building and shoot as many people as we can find before being shot ourselves. Anywhere that terrible people populate our worlds we become mercenaries whose only responsibility now is to survive by any means possible.

I believe with all of my heart that we are a poor reflection of the people who came before us. In my lifetime, even in Christian homes, the standard has changed. I was raised on if it is wrong, you will not do it. Now there are a million reasons you can do things that used to be wrong. Someone hurting or disappointing us means our rules change.

I am so thankful for this man who taught me that simple lesson in an off-handed comment during a long conversation. "I learned what not to be." My lessons are learned, for the most part, much more quickly now. Instead of turning my eyes away from the bad lessons or using them as an excuse why I cannot be held to account, I look closely. I study the people who not only make vicious decisions with intent to hurt others but those who through their own humanity stumble as do we all. I watch the wives who have beautiful marriages as well as the ones whose marriages have ended badly. Both offer me a great gift. Not just the ones who have affairs can teach me but the ones who maybe just took things for granted. I do not judge but I do pay attention.

I notice the parents and the adult children in families and try to find the secret path around their struggles. I study the employees and the bosses and ask God to help me find the nuances.

The days of pioneer families taking responsibility to live before God, their families and their community with honor and courage is gone. But there are no fewer teachers to be found.

We all represent an opportunity to one prayer is that I will not be one of whom it is said, "She taught me what not to be."

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Remind Me Again Why I Love This Guy?

On a pretty regular basis we talk about my hair on this blog. I have crappy hair. Although I am very apt to change my style drastically on a regular basis I think in truth longer is better. I've been told the pony is my best look, which I think is a gentle way of telling me to give it up. True story, I have gotten a headache trying to hold my hair style in place with my scalp muscles.
In fact, Mac best likes my hair when I'm wearing a ball cap.
Anyway, I spend money on my hair. I do. I go to the hair dresser every 8 weeks although it should be six. I give lots of thought to color, which I will also change on a whim. I am drawn to hair jewelry such as headbands and barrettes. Bad hair has more than once made me consider calling off work and yes, I've washed my hair and started all over again. Good hair products don't come cheap. And bottles lie.
I decided to be a good shopper and buy different (cheaper) products last week. Volumizing they claimed. Liars. Anyway, the mousse stuff is marginally acceptable but the hair spray (hair spray is my best friend) is a joke. It may very well be water for all the good it did me. It not only did not volumize as promised but it down-right flattened.
On Saturday we get in the car to do errands and I'm trying to embrace the lesser hair product and tell myself the difference is only noticeable to me. I don't have good hair anyway. But as we pull into the Target parking lot, I can't stand it anymore. I turn to the Mr. and say that I need to buy some hair products. He reminds me that we bought hair products just last week. So I tell him, yeah, I used the new cheaper stuff this morning.
One Mississippi.
Two Mississippi.
"Let's go get you some new hair products."
Just once can't the guy lie and tell me I have great hair? When I'm not wearing a hat?

April 5, 2009

Isaiah 42: 9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


1. Open windows

2. Flowers

3. No jackets

4. Furnace off

5. Grilling

6. Sun in the evening

7. Birds in the morning

8. Deck sitting

9. T shirts, jeans & flip flops

10. Just in time

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Oh So Pretty!

Do you need to feel pretty? Well, I do. I know it's rather a shallow goal in life but doggone, I want to be pretty! And pretty doesn't come naturally to me. Don't bother commenting that you think I'm beautiful (some of you are already typing aren't you?) Doesn't matter, pretty is in the eye of the beholder and I am the beholder. So I guess you can add vain to pretty.

Twenty five pounds of extra weight has me less than thrilled with my appearance and the answer to that is clear so we'll move on.

I don't necessarily need to be the prettiest person in the room or even to know that other people think I'm pretty but I want to feel pretty. Of course, we all know the enemy number one of prettiness...bad hair. I have bad hair. Charles Manson would be ashamed to have my hair. And I have taken note of people running from the Twin Towers or standing on their roof tops during Katrina and thought to myself, "Their hair looks really good." I have looked at patients and thought that the worst part of a psychiatric hospitalization would have to be the lack of access to styling tools. I'd never look stable enough for discharge! Ironically, I am forever in search of a fabulous do that requires absolutely no effort as I hate styling my hair.

Something magical (and by that I mean dark magic) happened to my face around age 40. It went from marginally acceptable to impossible to figure out. I have dark circles that cannot be hidden. Well, perhaps if I purchased the $40 Oil Of Olay eye care system that I spent 1/2 an hour considering at Target they could be. But within my current beauty budget it's impossible. I have scant eye lashes and I actually have bad eye lash days. Seriously.

I continually change my make-up regime trying to examine the beautiful people on television and mimic their cosmeteticals. One month I will be convinced darker lips are the thing that I need! Next month, clear gloss is the answer! Darker foundation to warm me up or lighter to make me shimmer? And what exactly does one look like when shimmering? There's a lot of promises of shimmering out there but I'm not seeing any difference in the mirror.

Don't get me started on my teeth! I actually (true story) have recurring nightmares about my teeth.

Still, I want to feel pretty. There is no conclusion to this post. I'm just saying...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


There's this someone, none of you know him. But he's up to no good. A few of us are well aware of what he's doing but there's nothing illegal happening, just immoral. Just manipulation and deceit. Just taking advantage of a situation. Just pretending to care, to hurt with us while he's behind the scenes contributing to the hurt. Just putting us on our guard where once we were defenses-down trusting with each other.
It would be so easy to hate him.
So natural to drive down the road thinking of ways to get him back. Dreaming of the moment when everything crashes in, hoping he'll self-destruct. So tempting to change, ever so slightly, my own behavior to make his life just a bit more difficult. To expose his weaknesses by not covering him with my strengths. To gather together those in the know and whisper about what a fool he's making of himself and warning each other to be careful! To smile on the inside imagining his downfall.
So easy to hate. But when you've let Christ in, truly in to your heart the ease of hate becomes quickly a heavy sickness you can feel in your belly. Hatred bunches up in my shoulder muscles and tightens my brow and steals away the happiness that normally fills my mind. Hatred pushes the foundations out from under me and sends me into a fall that is happening only on my insides but feels like I'm crashing against concrete.
Christ makes the sky beautiful and the wind soothing and goodness reaches out from every side.
Christ in me makes it so hard to hate.

Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.