Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Lighthouse That Isn’t

On one of our many jaunts together, my husband took me to a state park in Delaware. It was a special place to him during his bachelorhood. It was a place he had visited often with a singles group at his former church. It had a beach and hiking and camping; it had history and conservation. He could go out on a pier and watch the ocean. He could sit and think and talk around a campfire.

He walked with me out on the pier and told me stories. He told me about running into a classmate from his school from decades before and the puzzlement at meeting her out of state instead of in his hometown. He talked about what it took to rent a kayak and take it out to a small lighthouse. He talked about the amenities of the different facilities.

We then hiked to the historical area of the park. On one of the footpaths, there was a picture of a home and lighthouse.

The Cape Henlopen Lighthouse was built in the late 1700’s with money raised by the residents of Philadelphia. The hope was to guide ships loaded with goods safely to shore. It was kept in good repair despite the Revolutionary War and bad weather. The lighthouse was used for around 150 years until it was decommissioned in 1924. It would be well known regional historical architecture site…if it were still standing.

What the people who built it didn’t know was that the place where it was built, the Great Dune, wasn’t solid. The entire hill was a dune of sand with no solid ground underneath. Its foundation would be pounded by wind and wave and Nor’easter until the dune shifted location and the lighthouse fell into the sea in 1926.

People and especially leaders are a lot like that lighthouse. We look really good on the outside. We help others and take care of our responsibilities. We donate money and time. We love our families and provide for their needs. We look solid and shiny.

The reality is we’re human; our foundation of reality is sandy and shifts because all humans fall and fail. When we fall, we can harm others either by falling on them or by removing our false light from their guidance systems.

The only way to truly survive the storms of life is to rely on the true Light of the World to lead us and guide us. He is the only Perfect One. He calms the storm, silences the wind, and quiets the hearts of His children.

May we all reflect the light of the one True Light!

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Unhappy Halloween

Gang, I warn you here and now, this isn’t going to be my usual feel good post. It’s going to be something you will need cheese and crackers to eat as you read.

Halloween has never been my time of year.

Autumn is a season that looks like the whole world is dying with no hope of resurrection. In my head, I know spring will come (good Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise). But my heart, my achy muscles, and my stiff joints swear unto the entire universe that it is a time of death.

I wrestle because I remember those in the neo-pagan tradition no longer in my life. I remember the life and times we shared, and I feel the darkness and heaviness because I had to walk away. After all, they couldn’t offer me a god who sacrificed himself for his people. But I still miss the light in their eyes and the quirky humor (and a graceful waltz or two).

I don’t enjoy the idea of being something I’m not and wearing costumes (outside of drama). After years of struggling to become what I am and what I’ve been called to be, it just seems less than honest.

With the food issues, it is even less happy. Usually, my kids don’t get to go out for Halloween. My former denominational pew (where they still live) always had a special service. This year, though, the area towns decided to have trick or treating on a different night than Halloween. Because my ex-husband has struggled with health issues, he asked (quite politely and in an undemanding style) to take them. And I’m just a gal who can’t say no…

Enter Exhibit A. See the featured image. They returned all chatty with three bags of candy. They agreed to have a common pot as long as Child A could have some. I began my mommy sleuth tactics… two hours ago.

As you can see, there’s not much that she can have. The bowl for waiting for ingredients list is a little fuller. And the bowl for what she can’t eat due to allergies is larger and the fullest.

Yeah, I’m locked and loaded. I have just emailed every product manufacturer that had an email address. And, since I don’t have the bucks of a Trump, I never expect to hear from them again.

But maybe, if we all would work together, we as consumers could do a boycott and a boycott. We buy only from those companies that provide wholesome, organic, allergy-safe products. We do not buy if a company takes a hard line. Working together, we should have the bucks of a Trump.

Maybe I’m just a dreamer.

Meanwhile, until this nightmare plays out for another year, I advise you to refrain from approaching the momma bear.

Should you choose to approach, bring coffee.

And whatever you do, don’t bring an item from the bowl labeled Child A CANNOT eat ūüė¶ !!!

The Wanton Woman

She sits in an upscale coffee shop
Sipping mocha, breathing stale smoke, and watching life
Her weary, care-worn face deceives
Her hazel eyes twinkle and dance with the joy of life

The world can’t stand her–
She believes too passionately
Expresses too clearly and forcefully
Lives too openly

The church can’t stand her–
She smells too much like the world
Acts too much like a man
Considers too many ideas worth contemplation

She has too many personal commitments
And too many former lovers

She has too much money
And not enough time

She loves too much
And walks away too much

But, oh, the lessons she could teach–
Solid stewardship of money, time, and life
Choice of mercy streaming from work-worn fingertips
Mind of reason and logic wrestling with emotion and feeling
Strength of persistence and determination for weathering the hurricanes of life

Invisible and alone and overlooked
Jesus sees and knows
When others are ignorant

It used to bother her, tear her to shreds–
The need to fit in and belong sharper than the strongest diamond

Like coal under pressure
She changed, metamorphosed, bent
To a diamond

Her steely heart beats
A different rhythm
As she stands alone
With Jesus at her back

Not happy, but content and joyful

Why can we not see the value
Of a twinkling, dazzling, brilliant soul
Changed by the pressures
Of time, life, love, and Christ?

A Movie Affirmation with a New Old Spin

Lately, I’ve been getting back into movies. Some I watch, and I wish I could get that 90 or 120 or 150 minutes of my life back. Others I watch, and I start looking for large enough breaks in my schedule to watch again… and again… and again.

“The Help” is one of those movies that I watch over and over and over. There are so many lessons as the African American servants struggle for independence, respect, and equality in a South not yet ready to see their talents and wisdom and intellect despite challenges and lack of opportunity.

One of my favorite scenes is when the African American nanny is looking at this beautiful, fair-haired, sweet toddler. She tells the little girl, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

In the midst of the class warfare and hidden messages about the value of a woman based on birth and role, the servant sees the little girl’s value outside of that system. The servant sees that the system will result in emotional and spiritual handicap for the little girl, for the little girl will grow to be exactly like the spiteful woman her mother was. The servant wants to almost inoculate the child in the hopes the child will grow to retain some of the love and innocence and kindness.

Because I identify as a Christian, I almost wish the movie’s writer had opted to explore what the servant should have said to the child based on the servant’s faith narrative. Faith isn’t just expressed in a church setting, as was shown in the movie. Faith has to be expressed in every compartment of life.

I find Jesus to be the embodiment of Love. (No, not a true non sequitur, read on.) Not the will-o’-the-wisp, always-between-the-sheets version of love touted by our post-modern, post-Christian society, but the tough-as-nails version of love that is sacrificial and puts the other first. He will build and affirm people, but He’s also not afraid to take the religious leaders to task over hypocrisy or command the adulteress to go and sin no more. He warned Peter about Peter’s denial, and yet He was strong enough to let Peter have the free will to choose to deny Him.

If I were re-writing the movie, I would show Jesus whispering in the servant’s ear. He would challenge her to speak the following (based on what His Holy Spirit challenged Saul of Tarsus to write in the first letter to the church at Corinth):

Jesus is the Leader; follow Him. Do what He does.
You be patient and wait, you be kind,
Don’t want your brother’s toys, and don’t wish you had the friends of your playmate.
Don’t talk about all the good things you do, and don’t think you are better than anyone else.
You be polite and show respect for everyone.
Stay happy.
Forget quickly and let bad things go; people who are broken and hurt will hurt you; love anyway.
Don’t get happy over the bad things that happen;
Get really excited over all the good things.
Don’t fight things that happen to you because most things can’t be fixed.
Trust that good things happen even in bad times,
Hope that you see the good in all people even the bad ones.
Love is a strong thing, even when people who love you hurt you,
And Jesus loves you best of all. His love nevers stops.

The Silence of No Words

Author’s Note: I sat on this post in my poetry journal for a while. I don’t know how to explain why. I have FB “friends” from all walks of life, and some of them are dealing with things I can’t begin to fathom or form a coherent solution to. And I admit that some of what I wrote is projection — I’m trying to guess at what the person feels. I apologize if this hits too close to home for some of you; please know I’m not trying to inflict pain, but rather analyze and describe it so that others far wiser than I can learn how to help bring healing.

*****************************************************

I’m a writer. It’s what I do.
And yet there are moments —
Huge, gigantic, important moments —
Moments when words fail.

I serve the Author and Finisher of Faith
Or I claim to,
And yet I have no words.

  • For the mom burying an over-bullied child, dead by his own hand
  • For the dad devastated by the rape of a daughter, who now struggles with sullied worthlessness
  • For the club member given a death sentence by the “C” word
  • For the writer getting his 13th pink slip, rejecting every offspring word and idea he’s written
  • For the man accused of being gay because he prefers cooking and writing instead of drinking and watching sports
  • For the lesbian adrift and disconnected with no words to describe the isolation and disconnection she feels
  • For the man with a mentally ill partner whose meds no longer work
  • For the man-child whose grades just aren’t good enough, watching friends going away to college while he stays¬†home, left behind by neurology and technology and money

I just have no words.
Silence is uncomfortable.
Life is uncomfortable.

How can you be a witness to the Creator
When the words, the ideas, the solutions haven’t been created yet?

And still, somehow, maybe
In the still silence
Something
Will be shown
Will be seen
Will be shared

Enduring the Homefront Role Conflict

I’m struggling in my marriage lately, and maybe some of you with blended families can identify. I am wrestling with and reeling from the multiple roles I play: wife, mother, homeowner. I am particularly disturbed when I cannot resolve the conflict when roles collide. The hardest one for me is wife and mother. I find very divided loyalties when my husband and I disagree about our children (my biological, his step) or when the children ask me to play arbitrator in a dispute between them and my husband.

My problem is that the Bible never directly addresses the blended family situation (or at least not in a direct way that I can identify and process, but I digress). I suspect this is because the Lord hated divorce and remarriage, but the religious leaders even Moses permitted it because of humanity’s¬†frailty.

I’ve got the commands to bring my children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord (fancy way of saying to teach them what Jesus would do and how to do it in this world), to not exasperate my children (seriously, is this an effective command in the teenage years), and so on.

As a wife, I am to submit to my husband in everything. This does not mean tolerating abuse or immorality; submission is just a choice to say “we’re in this together, we’re headed in the same direction, and I’ll choose to go your way even when I don’t think it’s the best way in the absence of moral instruction.” (Saul of Tarsus in Ephesians) I have to respect my husband and accept his authority over me; in addition, I have to choose a pure and reverent life.¬†(Peter in 1 Peter) I have to enrich his life and do him good all our lives. (King Lemuel in Proverbs)

Order of precedence is my¬†particular issue. With divided loyalties, which side is the primary one for me in God’s eyes? I don’t know if I should be supporting the kids because¬†they aren’t yet adults or if I should be supporting my husband because he’s my husband.

What is a Christian to do when these roles and instructions clash?

I wish I had answers for you.

There are days when prayer and Scripture bring good results, and things resolve rather easily. Then there are days when nothing seems to work, my back’s against the wall with no way out, and I’m questioning the sanity of myself and my Deity (yeah, not a wise position).

In the end, it’s about recognizing that many sinners under one roof requires grace and the sanctification only the Holy Spirit can bring. And there’s no knowing what He will do, except adhere faithfully, habitually, unchangingly, eternally¬†to¬†Scripture… and turn your world upside down.