Regardless…

be-kind-be-loud

Our country is a frightening place right now. People on both sides of the political spectrum are spewing hatred, desperate to be heard, understood, and acknowledged. Hate crime is on the rise and anyone who is not white and straight finds themselves in a place of uncertainty and fear. As a straight, white person, I see how privileged I am and my heart breaks for those who find themselves in a world that is not safe or welcoming.

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Random, maybe, but let me see your eyes…

I first notice a person’s eyes. They are usually a good indicator of the temperament or disposition of the bearer; a visual indicator of comments well received or casually discarded.  Many of my friends, myself included, have developed lines around their eyes; some laugh lines, some sorrow lines. Eyes are adorned with cosmetics, glasses, and strategically placed fringe for hiding behind. Mine often tear up; or drop down; or close. I’ve beheld loved ones who couldn’t hold a gaze; others who can’t release a stare.

All eyes search. For answers…recognition…acceptance…compassion. Unless the bearer is extremely crafty, or self-controlled, their eyes will give away a lie or poorly concealed love. But what we all look for as we search other’s eye is understanding; support. From another gaze we gather strength or perceive condemnation.

Perhaps you will agree with me; eyes are very important

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. BUT if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Jesus said this in Matthew 6:22-23, sandwiching it between laying up treasures in heaven and the incapability of serving two masters. Honestly, I paused at this…the eye thing…It appears to be a metaphor, not using ‘like or as’ to compare but states, “The lamp of the body is the eye.” My eye is a lamp….showing goodness (light) or badness(dark). Still meditating on this I continued my reading in one of my favorite psalms…91…and in verse 7-8 it reads, ‘A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you (the destruction, pestilence and terror mentioned in verse 5&6). Only with your eyes shall you look and see the reward of the wicked.’ (the falling part) I understood.

Perspective. Vision. Discernment.

Stuff happens in my eyesight continuously….whether I am watching people or watching the news. If my eyes only see these happenings in one or two dimensions, darkness begins to fill my body in the form of discouragement (doom and gloom), envy (look at what they have/get away with), or discontent (my body/hair/car/coffee doesn’t look like THAT!) It is then that my perspective can either lighten or darken the lamp of my body, my soul. Looking at the world around me in the dimension of eternity lightens my sight, filling my body with light and good.

We live, we laugh, we cry, we hurt, we die…

It is universal, don’t think otherwise. Rich people suffer, poor people are comforted, famous people can feel alone, and isolated people can feel great companionship. It’s perspective. And vision. And choice.

Ephesians 1:18 speaks of the great gift God gives us in the form of the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus…’that the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling…’

And in this Christmas season, when, regardless of the origins of ancient celebrations, we celebrate the gift of Jesus Christ to take away our darkness and give us His Eternal Light…I will protect my eyes (and my heart) from viewing the things I absolutely-must-have-to-be-happy-and-feel-important and instead look into the eyes of my friends, neighbors, loved ones and the occasional Salvation Army bell-ringers and impart light, hope, love, and gratitude…for my Eternal Hope, for my precious family and friends, and for the knowledge that I can choose gratitude in the midst of darkness.

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Someone elses shoes

I’ve walked a lot of places in my life.

City streets, country lanes, mountain trails, and indistinct paths.

On a few of them I’ve followed others foot prints, and some of them I’ve been the first down.

What I’ve learned and am learning is that until we put ourselves in Someone Else’s shoes, we are arrogant to believe we know what’s best. What else I’m learning is that somewhere in the jumble of facts and statistics, there is a beating heart that is loving, hurting, and searching. Billions of faces…zillions of footprints…but most have one commonality….they are living and breathing, doing their best to survive, just like I am. My paths and choices may be different from yours, but the motivation is pretty much the same; peace. Who among us doesn’t want peace in their life? Who wakes up and decides to create chaos? For me to decide, from the comfort of my armchair, that what a person is doing is wrong or unwise, is to place myself above them; to surmise that I would do differently…better…if I were in their shoes. Above is only suited for One; the One Who Knows All…and to position myself there is the height of arrogance. I am learning that most people want someone to walk beside them, listening, encouraging, guiding in love if appropriate.

That is the example the One Who Knows All gave. If I am to be useful to a blessing to, my fellow man, my place is beside him with a compassionate heart, behind him with an encouraging word, or in front of him with fire tested insight. But my place is never to be above him in judgement, or behind him in criticism, or in front of him in oblivion. We are called to love. Love our brothers, love our neighbors, and love our enemies. “By this all will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 Image

While you’re busy living life

I am not embarrassed in the least to say that I’m a grandma…a Mimi to be specific. Becoming a Mimi has been one of the easiest and most comfortable things I’ve ever done. (Thank you, Kaela Moore, for doing all the hard work!)

Whenever I see my little angel, I am taken by the thought that there isn’t much on earth more precious and energy packed than a two year old! Every moment she is watching, listening, copying and learning. We count to five, then seven, then all the way to ten! She presents ‘tew’ right on cue….and ‘fie’ occurs several times….but she is learning! And dance?! That girl is a natural….

I am also overwhelmed by the beauty of creative repetition….one moment she looks just like her Mama twirling and commanding the audiences attention; next moment she is her Daddy’s twin, cracking us up with her comedic antics!

Joy and sunshine…that’s what she delivers! Even in a foul mood when molars are tearing through her tender little gums she is charmingly dramatic and fresh! I know, I’m a biased Mimi, but that is my prerogative and the only pay-off I get is sugar from my angel face…

Beautiful people are all around us; love openly and freely like a child and you could be one, too.

 

A light breeze and sunshine

Okay, there were also a lot of ducks and geese, but what made the moment one of muted joy was the laughter of my granddaughter as the ducks milled about her feet and her mama encouraged her bravery.

When my little angel woke up this morning, I got the privilege of greeting her and getting the first snuggle-hug.  Ah, this is love.

I have needed this break from my day-to-day. Last weekend with my son was also refreshing. I find that the balance comes back when I connect with my loved ones….be they family or bosom friends.

Today my joy is a more shiny than muted; and laughter comes easily.Image

Pulling Weeds

I have recently moved from Tennessee to Oklahoma. Compared to the sultry south, I now live in a desert. I have been in dry places before: California in the summertime; Las Vegas, NV, anytime; and Northeastern NV whenever it isn’t raining or snowing. I know dry. So when I began pulling weeds in my flower bed yesterday, I found two varieties; the kind that come up easily, and the kind that holds on tightly. The shallow rooted ones yielded their place and piled into a quick little heap. The more tenacious weeds clung fast to their mooring, and I had to apply a slow and steady pressure until the roots popped free. I raked and pulled and raked some more, then I headed for my watering can. The last remaining weeds needed to be loosened with moisture.. water.. and they need a soaking.

So here we go.

There are habits and sins we have in our life that resemble these weeds. We have shallow rooted ones, like popping our gum, our using slang in our speech…maybe we interrupt people or leave dirty laundry on the floor. These can be gotten rid of fairly easily. Often a new environment, friend, or situation eradicates these annoying weeds and replaces them with more acceptable behavior.

Then there are the more resistant weeds; ones that have a deeper root, have grown a little longer, and are more sturdy than the others. These could be prejudices, a judgemental attitude, or even gossip. Perhaps it is an unforgiving spirit, or a spirit of self-centeredness. With firm pressure applied, and great focus given, these thorns and thistles can be extraced from our garden, and sweeter behavior can replace them.

And then what remains are the deep rooted, stubborn, below the surface weed that no ammount of pulling and plucking will extract. I think these are Pride. Self-love. Entitlement. And this has been the foundation and nuturing system for all of those other little nuisances, habits, downfalls….Self. Like those deep rooted weeds in my garden, this needs moisture…water to softening the soil around it so that it can be removed. I need the Living Water, Jesus, His drenching Word of Love and Peace, to soften my heart so that He can extract my root of Pride and Self.

As my garden will not grow well strangled by weeds, my Spiritual Life will not grow well when I nurture my Pride. But I can’t just decide to do better. I can’t turn over a new leaf, complete a twelve step program, or read a self improvement book. I need Jesus. I need His gentle pouring out of love and correction to drench my desert like soil, and excise my plauging self….and I need Him consistently.  

Don’t let your garden fill with weeds. Don’t let thorns and thistles choke out the beautiful life God has planned for you. Submit to the watering, the pruning, the weeding. Let God’s Word soften your heart so the seed of faith and love will grow and yield abundant fruit. Desire more of what He has for you than what you want for yourself. I believe you will eventually find they are the same things…..peace, joy, love…..why wouldn’t we want a beautiful garden that will not only glorify our Savior, but bless all who wander into it?