Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Feisty, Fiery Goblin…

In prior posts, I’ve discussed the monsters that mob us and make us lose our humanity or make us feel less than human. Today’s goblin is no exception.

Meet anger.

He is fiery and feisty, so energetic that even the weakest respond with fight–not toward him, but toward others. Sometimes, he is silent and stealthy, almost invisible, hiding inside humans and only slipping out through their eyes and tongues. Other times, he is loud and obnoxious, feeding the fear dragon while he [the anger goblin] publicly struts his stuff; the anger goblin explodes on the scene through curse words and flying objects and fists. And all the actions of this goblin are on a spectrum somewhere between these two.

Giving place to this goblin not only destroys your peace; it can also affect your physical health. Heart disease, stroke, cancer and weakened immune systems are all signs that the goblin may have taken residence nearby and been an unwanted tenant for far too long.

Unfortunately, this goblin has siblings and cousins and aunties–probably enough to have at least one goblin for every person on earth. In addition, he connects well with the other monsters like fear and mistrust; once you’ve experienced one member of this goblin family, you tend to expect to meet them more and more. Unless you’re fully under its power, you even try to isolate to avoid. Influenced, you actually seek out a target on which to unleash him and his family.

How is this goblin family defeated? First, we need to recognize that all of his actions, from the silent and stealthy to the loud and obnoxious, make it harder for us to connect to the still, small Voice. We cannot do what the still, small Voice desires if we are under the influence of anger. Even if we manage to stumble on the right thing, our motive will be wrong and undermine the right we try to do.

Then, we need to choose to act in a way that counters his actions. If he is being loud and obnoxious, we need to quickly choose to listen, deliberately choose to speak little, and fight to slow our obedience to the desires of the goblin clan. If he is silent and stealthy, we need to fight to connect to the still, small Voice. We need to choose to do what the still, small Voice would do–lovingly rebuke the target or source of the goblin. This rebuke should be peaceful, considerate and respectful, humble, full of mercy and desirous of good outcomes, impartial, and sincere.

When we fall prey to his attacks, we need to stop and take a brief rest from the world. We need to reconnect to our still, small Voice. We need to work with the still, small Voice to analyze where we failed, determine the best course of action for the next engagement, and decide if any actions can fix the damage from the attack.

I wish I could tell you this goblin could be fully subdued and made to disappear. It can’t–its family is too large. You will fight it over and over and over…to eternity and beyond. However, each time you fight according to the instructions of the still, small Voice, the goblin family becomes less and less powerful in your heart and mind.

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Update and Previews of Coming Attractions…

So, I’ve disappeared for while. I do apologize.

It is marching band season for one, cheering season for another (who is getting weekly allergy shots and now needs to carry an Epi-pen), and general spunk and attitude season for the third. (Yes, the parental taxi is overworked and underpaid! =) )

In addition, I’ve been working with my dog. I don’t say much since she magically disappeared from our home despite a locked door. I offered forgiveness. She was returned. And she was shattered… and I didn’t know quite how to express how I felt or the help I needed for her.

I am experimenting with helping her heal by simply loving her based on her non-verbal cues. I chose to assume something so traumatic happened to her when she was outside the home that she couldn’t communicate with us. I sent her to the vet (and there will be follow up) to ensure physical issues were immediately covered. The “emotional” issues will take longer with a lot of intensive work. (Yes, they may even become blog fodder.)

Even though I’ve not been physically online, I’ve been thinking and praying about future issues to cover. At the present, I think we’ll be doing the following:

  • More dragons to tame: Christians have so many issues we face these days. Sometimes, we can’t even name what we’re fighting. I hope, by sharing my perspective, I might give a name and face to an issue and perhaps guidance on handling that issue.
  • Profiles of diversity: I grew up in a home that had extended family members in a host of Christian denominations. We learned tolerance and respect through service to each other and dialogue. I want to take that a step further. My Facebook friends list has some unique people in it that most would not expect from a Christian of my belief system. I want to tip my hat to these people who tolerate me by giving them an open forum for just one blog entry to try to explain what they believe and why. Even if we choose to agree to disagree, understanding where another comes from can be invaluable in communicating with them.
  • Miscellaneous mystery posts: I seem to be going through a time of rapid personal growth as well as unique adversarial challenges. As a writer, sometimes I can only process things if I write about them. So I may share my thought processes on various topics or issues just to present a unique perspective.

So be please bear with me as my writing hits peaks and troughs…I’m not done letting my still, small Voice deal with me yet.

Ghosts of Chains Not Yet Gone…

A few posts ago (I’ve forgotten how many), I wrote about taming the dragon of fear. Now I have another dragon my still, small Voice is asking me to tame. I hear the first dragon’s chains rattling, but I know if I don’t obey, I will have to wrestle both dragons at once.

We are going to be wrestling mistrust. It could be argued that it is the same as the fear dragon. However, at its heart, where its substance lies, there is a subtle difference. Fear simply involves being afraid. Mistrust takes that and adds the twist of being afraid because people are uncontrollable, unpredictable. Some are down right cold, cruel, heartless wretches wrapped in beautiful bodies, sound minds, and shiny clothes and possessions.

How are we going to wrestle this one? Right now, I don’t know. But the still, small Voice takes me back to the Truths He inspired men to write over thousands of years ago.

First, all men are broken, from the homeless addict on the street to the preacher in the pulpit on Sunday in a shiny Italian suit. We break our connection with others through pride, through gossip, through poor choices with no thought for the consequences. In breaking our connection with others, we break our connection to the still, small Voice.

Second, we need to admit that nothing we ever do will fix this brokenness. We cannot go to hundreds of church services, we cannot do thousands of good deeds, we cannot deny ourselves rich foods and hours of Internet and glasses of wine.

The only way to fix this brokenness is to follow the instructions of the still, small Voice. Accept that Jesus is the only way to even begin to work on brokenness.

Then start to try to follow the Words of the still, small Voice. Find others who will follow the still, small Voice with you in a way that matches your personality and abilities. But they need to not only follow, they also need to challenge you, to sharpen you when you start to fall away from the Words of the still, small Voice.

Interwoven throughout is the knowledge that you will always be broken but your goal is to be a little less broken each day through time with Jesus. As another’s brokenness increases yours or your brokenness increases another’s, you have to return to the foot of the cross and lay it at the feet of Jesus, trusting that His Stripes will heal the brokenness and bring you closer to Him.

So that, my friends, is where I am today. My dog was stolen. My kids are heartbroken. I am wrestling mistrust. However, I trusted my family enough to keep my kids yesterday, while I trusted my husband enough to take me to a Tenebrae service. And it’s a start…

As the Scriptures read reflected the emptiness in my heart and the darkening church represented my heavy, darkening heart, I was led by the ministers to consider sin, betrayal, agony, injustice–the very evils Jesus has vanquished by His death and resurrection and will one day completely overcome by thrusting them into Hell, locking the gates, and throwing away the keys.

I realized that imitating the forgiveness of Jesus was the only way to continue to be a Romans 8 overcomer. So, at the end of the service, when they played “The Old Rugged Cross,” I thought of the grandmother who used to tell me she had a voice but didn’t anymore. I thought of all the songs that she would sing, and I have mini-memories, ghosts of images, of looking at her through crib rungs and listening in a happy place.

I wish I could argue with her today. She had a Voice. Her still, small Voice planted in me a hunger for salvation through the hymns that were my lullabies. As the song continued, I forgot where I was and just raised my hands in praise to the only Deity I ever knew that loved me enough to die for me, Jesus Christ.

When it came my time to show some sign of my appreciation for the Cross, I knelt and grabbed the base of that representation of all that Jesus has done. To chain the dragon of mistrust, I will cling to the Cross where Love poured out all He had. Someday, He will give me a crown.

“It may be Friday night, but Sunday’s on the way!”

“God is good all the time. All the time God is good.”

Maranatha!

Severe Depression or Homesickness???

“I can’t take the news anymore. It’s too dark.”

“Stop the world. I want to get off. This is one bad trip!”

“I just don’t want to deal with people anymore. Can’t we all just get along?”

“I just don’t fit. Everyone seems comfortable together, but I’m on the outside looking in.”

“I’m tired and I’m weary. I just want to go Home.”

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We’ve all heard these statements. People we know say them. We overhear them in conversations as we pass groups of friends on the street or people walking a city street together.

For some professionals, these are cries for help. The person clearly needs immediate medication and psychiatric treatment. Obviously, the individual is not normal and must immediately seek help.

And in some cases, that assessment might be accurate. But not all…

If we can accept that the truth of reality is a diamond, then we can accept that just as a diamond has many facets, reality has many perspectives from which we can perceive any statement or situation.

Let’s flip this truth diamond, shall we?

On the surface, these statements all seem so negative, so energy sucking, so life draining. But what if the person listens to the still, small Voice? Admittedly, the statements aren’t encouraging. But they represent Truth.

When you listen to the still, small Voice, you can see that you are to live your life as a star shines in the darkness, so you know that all the news that’s fit to print may not be fit to read and may be an attempt to snuff out the Light inside.

The world will spin out of control, faster and faster with wars, rumors of wars, famines, new diseases, and yes, you will want to be snatched away from this chaos.

Because others don’t acknowledge their still, small Voice or cannot connect very well, it won’t be easy dealing with people; they will be mean, two-faced, hard-nosed, and every other nasty in the Book.

And, you won’t completely fit in with those who don’t listen to their still, small Voice or connect to Him. Connection and disconnection just can’t communicate well together.

Finally, doing the right thing to keep the connection with the still, small Voice takes energy, a lot of energy. It is easy to long for a day and a place where instead of connecting with the still, small Voice you actually live in His presence, perfect and unbroken, enjoying endless fellowship with Him.

So, we’ve looked at the facet of brokenness. What’s the other facet?

Hope. Hope for the future.

Hope to live in a city where the still, small Voice lights the way so the sun and moon and stars are unnecessary.

Hope that we end up in a perfect place when this life’s journey is over.

Hope for an end to brokenness where we fellowship perfectly with the still, small Voice and those from every nation, ethnicity, and language group who serve Him.

Hope that in the Voice’s city we will be fixed and the new normal will be achieved when abnormal passes away.

Hope to one day be in the Presence of the still, small Voice and not have to jiggle the connection like some used to adjust rabbit ear antennas.

The end is in sight. Just press into the still, small Voice a little closer. (And if you’re a medical professional, try not to assume pharmaceuticals cure what ails some followers of the still, small Voice.)

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“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'” — John 1:29

Slaying the Dragon of Fear

I’ll let you in on a not-so-little little secret. I’ve been afraid all my life. Not the quaking, shaking obvious kind of fear. It’s the quiet, hidden fear that gnaws at your heart and mind, that eats away and erodes trust. In effect, it’s the thing that creates a tower for Rapunzel, not with bricks and mortar, but with words and thoughts. And no chemical in the world makes it go away.

It started because I think my dad did see me as a Rapunzel, a princess of God Most High who would never truly get the things of earth. So innocent and pure and naive that I would always need to be protected. So he told me stories, many stories, of all the bad things that could happen. Eventually, he did try to help me think about how to overcome the fear through action.

It was too late. The egg of fear cracked into this little dragon. At first the dragon was cute. I fed it by giving in and not doing the things I was afraid to do. I watered and groomed it by learning how to make it sound reasonable, I upped its hoard of treasure and wealth by rewarding myself every time I kept myself safe through fear and wisdom, I fed its belly fire by reading and educating myself about each new evil that came out.

Eventually, while I was blinded by whatever, it grew to be this big, beautiful dragon. It was majestic. I looked so strong on the outside (and maybe a little awkward and neurotic and peculiar). I thought it was great.

The problem with dragons is that they turn on you. What masquerades as something good and light and wholesome turns into a slave-master, demanding more education and logic and reason and time, until you have no energy left to focus on the things that matter in life. Only the things aren’t things; they’re people.

Maybe my dad was ignorant of this. Maybe later in life on some level he had a vague, whispering feeling that something was not right. I may never know. I just know that the rules for protection in the world he prepared me for just don’t work in the world I live in. But I digress…

When you find that you’ve been misled into serving this slave-master for too long, how do you slay it? You can’t. The best you can hope for is to fight back and wrestle it into submission. In my case, once I’ve done my wrestling, I ask my still, small Voice for help and try to follow the instructions I’m given.

The other problem with this particular dragon is that it tends to mess with my real-time connection to the still, small Voice. This means that the instructions don’t always come through clearly, and I’m left with nothing but archaic, hard copy of the instructions He’s left to others.

So, in my case, how did I wrestle my dragon into a position where the still, small Voice could take over and deal with it? First, I had to recognize that the dragon, as mesmerizing and comforting as it was, was still a dragon. Dragons cannot stay around. The truth may hurt, but it is still truth.

Second, I had to know what the still, small Voice thought about my dragon. Since my still, small Voice loves me perfectly, I knew the dragon had to go because the dragon was a road block, a stumbling block on the road to growth and maturity.

Finally, I had to make a choice and act. I had to face a situation that I had been taught to be afraid of. I had to choose to walk in a place that I had been taught (and maybe taught others) was dark and unsafe. From the moment I stepped into the boundaries of this place I could feel my shackles coming off and wrapping around the dragon.

First, I had to walk with complete strangers jostling me and running into me. I hate being touched by people I don’t know. I hate having my things touched by people I don’t know. It’s not germs or strangers; it’s the knowledge that bad things can come in good packages. People are simply packages of flesh and blood; their thoughts and actions are the things that can give hope or cause despair. So, I had to believe I had the favor of my still, small Voice; He would handle all situations that day; and people were more important than things.

Second, I had to let go of my fear of not knowing and looking foolish because I acted on information when I couldn’t validate the source. Since the 9/11 attacks, everyone has been afraid of everything. We don’t want to be attacked, so we don’t share information. We don’t want to open ourselves to looking foolish, so we don’t admit we need help. We don’t want to admit that we don’t always make wise choices, so we choose instead to blame others, especially those whose outlook is so foreign to ours.

Third, I had to let go of the prejudice of assuming that something was not good simply because everyone held the same opinion of it. As an intelligent woman who isn’t always politically correct, I’ve gotten the snide comments. The cruelest one is the offer of the purchase of a famous landmark. I had to learn that the landmark has to be separate from the comments. Visiting the landmark doesn’t mean you take on the traits associated with the traits of one who would make the purchase. Then, I had to take a step back and see in my heart that the same thing has to be done with information from the Internet, rumor mill, and other sources. If the source seems trustworthy, go with it until it’s proven otherwise.

Fourth, I had to let go of the social rules. What speaks love and kindness in one culture may be the most rude thing to another. One country’s idea of a joke may be blasphemy for a religion in another country. It doesn’t mean that we should give up our identities to get along. It means, when absolute moral Truth isn’t involved, we need to lighten up. We need to step back and see if an action can be viewed from another perspective.

Finally, I had to open my eyes and see the life going on around me. While I don’t want to be shackled by darkness masquerading as light, I can still look at the beauty of the interplay of light and shadow; the sharp edge of dark on a building against the bright light of the sun in the sky; the blurry, hypnotic dance of the shadows from a spring tree.

In the end, the law that finally subdued my dragon was love

  • Loving my still, small Voice enough to try to listen.
  • Loving my neighbor enough to go someplace I didn’t think was good for me.
  • Loving me enough to wrestle instead of run.
  • Loving my family enough to communicate when things were off and I didn’t know why.
  • Loving all my role models living and dead to carry them with me in my clothes and the things I carried and the memories I used.

So right now, my chains are gone. They’ve been transferred to the dragon. I am waiting for my next instruction. I expect I will have some other quests before my still, small Voice finally vanquishes this dragon for me. The dragon will probably shake and fight and try to get me during these quests, like most dragons.

And the dragon will always be overcome and vanquished by Love.

Revenge–Cold and Sweet

I have a temper. Well, according to my husband, that’s an understatement.

I have an anger management problem. When I get angry, I want to manage and control all the people and things that make me angry. I want:

  • Cannons on the hood of my SUV
  • Tazers for the gossipy grocery store or church lobby types
  • Sulfuric acid for the disaster zones known as teenage bedrooms
  • Ropes, chains, and duct tape for all the people in authority with wisdom issues (and not in that way)

The reality is I cannot control anyone or anything but me. I cannot manage any attitudes but those within my heart and mind. The only thing I can discipline is my own soul.

Sometimes, the issue is a non-issue. I’ve just had a long day, and I need to see myself as enough of a person to do what I would do for one of my kids–put on soft music, make a snack, and curl up in bed.

Other times, it’s because I’ve just had a mirror to my own heart in the actions of others. What I see irritates me because I know the same thing lurks somewhere deep in the recesses and dark corners that I’m not ready to share with the still, small Voice.

Finally, the issue may just be that the other person is the meanest, nastiest, grungiest SOB in all the universe. In those cases, it’s just not worth wasting the energy to get upset. It’s best to just see them as too badly broken for you to be able to fix.

The best way to win in that case–the sweetest, coldest revenge, if you will–is to just go on with life and succeed. Be happy and joyful and kind to children and small animals. Balance work and life. Dance with the still, small Voice. Only your success and happiness can truly irritate these miserable individuals more than anything else in life.

L’Chaim!

“Arizona” Responds 40 Years Later

Music has always moved me. I’ve loved every kind of modern music (sorry, rap and hip-hop are not music) from folk to rock to country. There are songs that have resounded in my brain and stayed with me. Sometimes, it’s the chords and rhythm; other times, it’s the ideas and images painted by the lyrics.

“Arizona” <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5A7nuoR_9E> is one such song. I don’t know where I first heard it. It’s been around since 1970, and I’ve had a lot of influences and people in my life, so I couldn’t pinpoint any one memory linked to it.

My oldest daughter and I both have auditory processing issues. Our eardrums work, but our brains don’t handle the input well. As a youngster, she would say some interesting things; she always substituted a similar sounding word for another. Because I do the same thing with music (and I have kids), I’ve started using the Internet to find the lyrics to songs that resonate with me.

“Arizona” surprised me. There were things in there that I didn’t remember, as well as that I remembered wrong. And when I really looked at the words, I was sad and shocked. Both of those emotions fit–there was a proposition from a man but you never got to hear the woman’s response. And on the surface, the proposition looked really good and savory, but once you dig deeper, there is a sickening feeling of subtle peer pressure.

I know, sadly, how I would have responded in my late teens and early 20s. I’d have done everything and more that was asked. But now, in my 40-somethings, I don’t see this song as being much fun. As a matter of fact, if it weren’t so catchy, I might change the station when it’s on.

However, since it’s so catchy, I am going to do something fun. Come play with me as I develop the response for the character of “Arizona” based on the questions asked of her in the lyrics and my own sweet imagination.

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What makes you think you know my roots based on the things I do, and why do you think I’m so lost? I’m right here, I know where I am, I’m in this moment now. I don’t know who you are, but keep going…for a bit.

I don’t believe I ever specifically mentioned Robin Hood. However, he’s an interesting character…quite a moral dilemma. After all, he steals from the rich to give to the poor. Stealing is wrong. I don’t like grey, but green is a nice color, especially earth tones.

Oh, so I’m funny? Are you really laughing at me? If you are, you’d better just stop. I’m different. Different isn’t necessarily wrong. And yes, I do know how to pray, but I wonder based on some of your hints if you do…

I like my “rainbow” shades. I can diversify my look, and the UV protection does allow me to look differently at the world. I like my braids and the Native Americans, so I will not cut my hair. And if you keep questioning who I am by how I look, I don’t know if I really want to go your way…

Pride? You seem like you might be a stranger. If you don’t know me, how can you tell me what my behavior really is? You don’t know my past, my present, my personality. Also, if I’m acting a little young, maybe we shouldn’t be talking.

Appearance again. My makeup makes me feel good. And my shoes are comfortable; I need to move and be myself. Are you really so lonely you’d take someone you find distasteful with you?!?

Are you on something? You seem to have lost the ability to write a solid, grammatically correct sentence. Maybe you’re not safe. Count of Monte Cristo? Definitely not safe… that story had treason and betrayal and revenge… wow. Definitely scary. Countess May… you, uh, seem to be creating a character that might not exist, but my search terms might be wrong.

Robin Hood…again questionable reference. Brotherhood…why don’t we focus on unity because that would include both genders? And the roll a ball in the hay…maybe you inhaled something like a fungus in a barn cause you sure don’t make sense.

Aesop…that’s good. But it’s more than a series of pretty stories. It’s having the animals teach us lessons about humans. The animals teach so we can distance ourselves from the lessons and whether we’re good or bad, wise or foolish, kind or cruel. At the same time, the pattern is subconsciously imprinted in our hearts and minds so we can see it in our lives and protect ourselves. So good point. Again…anything to make me stay… are you that desperate that you would stay with someone you obviously find so distasteful?

You having memory issues? That dust in the barn again? I don’t want to talk about sunglasses and braids and shoes because you’re scary focused on the outer world instead of mind and heart. 8 ball… pool is fun game that combines physics and geometry… I’m never down when I shoot pool.

So, sir, you’ve not let me get a word in edgewise, you’ve focused on me and not the essentials of me, so I think I’ll pass. You go to San Francisco, and I’ll go anywhere away from you.

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Okay, so maybe I’ve made “Arizona” a little cold and too smart. But maybe that’s the problem with our culture: we focus so much on external appearance in clothes and going along to get along that we forget the important things. We forget who we are, we forget to respect and accept others for the way they treat people, and we forget that outward appearances can deceive. We forget to seek to understand more than we are understood.

So, don’t pity me in my chrysalis, my friend ant. Someday, I am going to break out and soar. I may just be a little late with it.