Category Archives: Ideas

Ending the Cycle… This Time…

I know the last few pieces have been more dark and somber. I do thank you for sticking with me through it. Yet I think it was time to lance that roiling mess in my heart. I’m hoping not to write on it again… ever… But it’s like most things in life… it’s cyclical, and the next time will be better.

I would like to share some final related thoughts as Christmas nears and I prepare to celebrate the birth of the Light of the World. Even as I write these, Zippy is scratching at his doggy bed waiting to take over my keyboard, and I have a new poem for my hubby just in time for Christmas.

First, you would think after my experience I would support gun control. I do not. No law will ever stop those hellbent on destruction and chaos from creating it. Rather I support teaching all of us–gun owners and the gun-shy alike– what responsible gun ownership and responsible gun handling look like. When you know what should be, it’s easier to recognize what isn’t. Also, I support having game plans for those in the presence of irresponsible gun owners and handlers, as well as means for reporting those irresponsible with gun ownership and handling.

Second, I encourage you to do some research on Della Reese. Ignore her days on Touched by an Angel; ignore her years as a minister of God’s grace. Find information on her abuse and survival. I found a good summary on YouTube. While my abuse was a little different (I was blessed to leave before I had marks on my body), her openness to discuss her situation and how much experience she had before picking her abuser as her partner helped me to recognize that nothing was my fault and gave me the courage to face the darker parts of my abuse history.

Third, some abusers can change. It takes Christ and a lot of hard work. If they change, they do deserve a second chance…with appropriate supports and supervision. However, the victims and survivors will have feelings that should be considered as well.

Finally, this is a hard time of year for some. I’m including some related hotline numbers and web sites. Please don’t become a statistic if you’re in a bad situation; choose life and hope and get help.

Telephone Numbers

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
  • Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • National Runaway Safeline: 1-800-RUNAWAY

Web Sites

Letting Go

Author’s Note: Hoping against all hope this is the last on this topic for this year. Late fall was never my time of year; I always seemed to face tough decisions with the wrong outcome or received bad news. (Yes, I am publishing way after authoring. 🙂 )

Always different, never fitting in,
Meandering, orbiting, never connecting,
Yet somehow I found brothers and friends.

But the shackle on my finger
Locked the blinders on my eyes.
A weapon invisible in the distant mists
Barred me from taking the shackle and blinders off.

My heart was frozen…
My mind was a rock…
My tongue was a sword…

I wanted to push you away,
To protect you,
I couldn’t, wouldn’t cradle bloody, cold corpses.

I just wanted to hide in the open for a while
So your lives could shine.

I called “Olly-Olly-Oxen-Free,”
But you were all gone,
Like sand flowing over my fingers
Digging at the shore.

Some are lost, some are found,
And nothing’s coming back,
Nothing’s back for me now.

And though I’ve seen light and life and joy,
The prison door’s still open.
I crawl in,
Covered in my briny tears,
Wallowing in guilt and loss, shame and remorse.
Then push out,
Becoming a joy filled robot again.

Someday…
I want to tear the prison down;
I want to let it all go;
I want to really live free with joy.

For now…
It’s only words–
Too few at the time,
Too many too late.

The “Adult Topics” Tag: An Explanation

I’m a writer. I love ideas. I want to share ideas. Maybe on some level I even want to learn to defend some of my ideas. So I did what every (wanna-be) writer does–started a blog. A small blog, nothing ambitious, organically growing without pushing by SEO. Early on, I didn’t even allow crawlers and bots to peek in (that’s changed). I decided a general audience rating because I don’t believe that ideas are harmful.

However, I’m a mom. I want my kids to not be embarrassed or ashamed if their friends find me and figure out it’s me. I want other parents to see my posts and maybe get other ideas (trust me, the cement wall and head banging were frustrating as I acquired double-digit midgets).

The tension I felt was the need to share ideas that might be edgier than some might like. Again, ideas aren’t harmful. It’s what we do with them that’s harmful. But to me, even more harmful, is the idea that we just can’t talk about something or explore how to handle it. The Good Lord had it right; people die for lack of knowledge. We can’t learn and grow if we can’t talk or explore ideas.

Enter my “Adult Topics” tag. It was my way of signalling to my kids they weren’t ready for that idea and I wasn’t ready with a good explanation as a parent. I might have been wrong, but they know they enter at their own risk. It wasn’t really ever about pornography or erotica–it always was about the darkness of the human heart. Things like rape, abuse, slavery are hard, even for adults. The ideas would be talked about at a higher level than they were ready for.

Hope this makes our muddy lives a little more clear.

Gifts — Protestant versus Catholic

If you ask a Christian about what the gifts are, you get a different answer depending on the denominational pew.

Protestants faithfully point to 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 and list word (message) of wisdom, word (message) of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing (discerning) spirits, speaking in tongues, and tongues interpretation. Later, in 1 Corinthians 12:27-30, they add apostleship, teaching, and helps and again list prophecy, healing, miracles, tongues, and tongues interpretation.

Catholics on the other hand start to talk about gifts instilled in them at Baptism and further sealed at Confirmation:

  • Wisdom
  • Understanding
  • Counsel (Right Judgment)
  • Knowledge
  • Fortitude (Courage)
  • Piety (Reverence)
  • Fear of the Lord (awe and wonder in His presence)

Because of the Socratic method and something called the old Baltimore Catechism, most could answer the question but not give a Scripture reference.

I would like to suggest (thanks to a lesson by an associate pastor on something completely different) is that these gifts are Biblical and do exist… in Isaiah 11:1-5. I would suggest that you review this passage in several versions of the Bible; for my purposes, I’ve used NIV, KJV, CJB, and ICB. For argument’s sake, I’ve avoided Catholic versions like Douay-Rheims.

Wisdom: This is referenced in Isaiah 11:2a, “The Spirit gives him wisdom….” (ICB)

Understanding: Again, this is in Isaiah 11:2a, “The Spirit gives him..understanding….” (ICB)

Counsel (Right Judgment): Two different parts of this passage reference counsel or right judgment. The first is Isaiah 11:2b, “The Spirit of Adonai will rest on him, the Spirit of… counsel… .” (CJB) Also, if you accept right judgment as a form of counsel, Isaiah 11:3b-4a states: “He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.” (NIV)

Knowledge:  Isaiah 11:2c in all versions references spirit of knowledge.

Fortitude (Courage): Fortitude and courage are not directly referenced. However, the word might at the end of Isaiah 11:3c in NIV and KJV could refer to a strength derived from fortitude or courage. The CJB and ICB both use power, which again could refer to a quality derived due to fortitude or courage.

Piety (Reverence): Again, this is not directly referenced. Three versions of Isaiah 11:3 however talk about qualities that could be argued to derive from piety or reverence. In the NIV, the phrase is “delighting in the fear of the Lord.” CJB talks about being “inspired by fearing Adonai.” ICB talks about having gladness from obeying the Lord.

Fear of the Lord (awe and wonder in His Presence): This is mentioned in Isaiah 11:2c in all versions except ICB.

Five out of seven directly referenced isn’t bad. That’s 70%, and it’s a higher accuracy than most meteorologists… or so I’m told. 🙂

WWJD Powwow Style

Author’s Note: This piece is definitely meant to be a lighter piece. I do caution that it could be perceived as irreverent. If you’re prone to sensitivity to irreverence, you’d best wait until my next post. 😉

If Jesus were a modern American, would He go to a powwow? And what would He do there?

Most Christians wouldn’t come. But I don’t think He’s like most Christians. He actually changed His path to go through Samaria, a place the religious leaders of the day hated, to talk with the woman at the well, a person hated for unwise choices in life.

The Christians who did come would probably hand out tracts or try to evangelize. But I’m not sure that would be Him either. He used stories to teach. Very rarely in a crowd did He open a scroll or tell a sinner directly that he (or she) was going to hell.

So what would Jesus do at a powwow?

He turned water into wine at a wedding party. He scooped up children, hugged them, and blessed them, probably with laughter.

He’d buy fry bread. He’d smoke with the elders. He’d buy some beads and baubles to encourage art and work and to give to the children later in the day. And He’d dance with joy and laughter.

Anger Management

A lot has been written about the importance of managing anger. Scientific studies have shown that angry people get sick easier and die younger. Blah-blah-blah-blahblah…

Because this is one of my struggles, I can quote you beautiful verses to combat anger spiritually.

  • Ephesians 4:6 — Be angry without sinning. Don’t go to bed angry. (Names of God)
  • Colossians 3:8 —  But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (New International Version)
  • James 1:19-21 — My dear brothers, always be willing to listen and slow to speak. Do not become angry easily. Anger will not help you live a good life as God wants. (International Children’s Bible)

But here’s the problem that never gets completely addressed: When does anger the emotion cross the line into anger the sin? What actions can I take to analyze and determine a proper expression of anger?

Jesus himself got very angry at times.

Example 1: The Woe “Monologue” (Matthew 23:1-36)

There was no love lost between Jesus and the religious leaders of His day (scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees). Although He loved them, He hated the way they acted. They chose to not live to the standards they held others to. So for 30+ verses, Jesus gives them the lecture of their lives. Although He said that you couldn’t call your brother a fool without risking hell, He called these leaders hypocrites, blind guides, blind fools, snakes, and broods of vipers.

Example 2: The fig tree (Mark 11:12-14, 20-21)

Jesus and His disciples were headed to Jerusalem. They walked by a fig tree that had no fruit because it wasn’t the right time of year. Jesus cursed the tree and told it to never give fruit again. When He and His disciples returned the next day, it had withered. Jesus in later verses uses it as an example of what the faith filled spoken word can do.

But I need to take a step back. I need to reverently ask a tough question. If the tree was seemingly fertile but it was the wrong time of year, why blame the tree and take away its ability to bear fruit? It seems almost too human to me to blame the tree for not having what’s needed at the wrong time of year.

Now you can search the expository writings. It is argued the tree stood in the place of hypocrites, those who teach good things but never do them.

Would this mean a real person who angers us should be ignored but we can go tear apart a pillow or destroy a room? Yes, that’s a little facetious…

The point is: Jesus got angry about actions but then expressed them in a different context, away from those who had angered Him.

Example 3: Cleansing the Temple (John 2:13-17)

Close to the Passover, Jesus and His disciples went to the Temple in Jerusalem. At some point in history, the Jewish leaders decided to collect a temple tax, buy and sell the sacrificial animals, and in general turn the holiest place in the Jewish world into a flea market. Jesus becomes highly incensed (and not with frankincense and myrrh), makes a whip for himself, and creates havoc to end the sacrilege.

Here, Jesus is directly confronting the marketplace invading the sacred space. The anger is over wrong motive and place. But he makes this shock and awe statement with a whip and two-year-old tantrum (no sacrilege intended). He physically expresses the anger in the place where the actions inciting His anger occurred.

Yes, I still have the same questions as when I began this mini-study. Yes, I’m still confused. But if you’re just as confused as I am, have no fear. Jesus is still a True and Just God. He still loves us even when we don’t understand, even when we succumb to the same sin for the “7 x 70th” time. He sees us with love, and when we accept His sacrifice, His Father sees us through the prism of Christ’s righteousness.

A Tarnished Star

Do everything without complaining or arguing. Then you will be innocent and without anything wrong in you. You will be God’s children without fault. But you are living with crooked and mean people all around you. Among them you shine like stars in the dark world.  — Saul of Tarsus, Letter to the saints at Philippi (ICB)

Like a gold ring and a fine gold ornament, so is constructive criticism to the ear of one who listens. — Proverbs (NOG)

I’m struggling with something, and I’m struggling to verbalize it. I think the two verses powerfully express my struggle.

By nature, I’m detail oriented, almost to a fault. And in my detail orientation, I tend to be drawn to things that are broken and need to be fixed. I feel the wrongness almost like a bad chord vibrating disharmoniously throughout my entire being. And the wrongness and related discomfort continue until the thing is fixed.

When I was first discovering this about myself, I was accused so often of complaining and grumbling. I had “a negative spirit” and “never saw the good in anything.” And that made me angry. Wallowing in feeling lousy, I never saw anything good in this gift or skill until I had a manager tell me, “If you can’t give me at least one solution for the problem, don’t waste my time identifying the problem.”

Wow. So, if I could get creative enough to suggest a fix however elementary or dumb, at least I could identify and express the problem. It took a while, but as I parented and solved the problems of parenting, I gained the ability to step back and look at how to solve problems in other arenas.

But even as I was gaining in this skill, I kept being accused of being too critical. And sometimes, I needed to explore or express a problem which I didn’t have the experience to solve. It was a hard place. However, once I looked at the definitions of criticism, I realized the problem.

I went to dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster online. Both sources listed several definitions, including (in my own words) “the act of judging the merits or good and bad qualities of anything” and the “act of expressing severe disapproval or finding the faults in someone or something.” But each source had a different order of precedence for which meaning is used more often for the word.

It has to do with perception and understanding of language. In our “highly tolerant” culture, we forget that things break. It is okay to identify things as broken and needing to be fixed. The problem comes when we perceive others as broken.

People do break. People do hurt. People who are broken and hurt break and hurt others. And while you want to “fix” the broken breakers, you have to be careful that you’re not adding to the broken hurt in the breaker’s heart. And while we will never be completely fixed on this side of eternity, there are measures we all can take to improve.

However, if brokenness comes from medical issues, it might be best to not try to fix the person’s problem. It might be best to let the person’s medical team deal with the issues.

The same goes for brokenness from trauma. It takes a team of specialists to fix that.

But when it comes to people who just don’t know any better, that might be somewhere where you could get involved.

But you have to assess whether the person is ready for the message. A message at the wrong time will be resisted.

And you have to assess whether you have the authority and credibility to make the educational attempt. If the person does not respect who you are and where you’ve been, you might as well try to train a deaf dog to honor whistle commands; you’ll be just as successful.

Also, you have to assess whether it is true brokenness or whether it’s just a difference. Sometimes, we get so set in our way being the only possible way that we cannot see that other ways might exist.

Constructive criticism is a good and right thing. Jesus strongly urged it in Matthew 5:23-24. But you have to have the right motive. You have to set things right with a right motive because fixing for ease or comfort or appearances’ sake just won’t work.

One last thought: what do you do when you can’t make it right?

I think you have to look at what 12-step recovery programs urge in steps 8 and 9.

  • Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

All that is required is an attitude and a willingness to make amends. Yes, you’re offended and you feel the need to fix. But maybe, it’s better to forgive them in your heart and let things go. That doesn’t mean you have to become best buddies forever; it just means that you could work with them on a team without jeopardizing the goals of that team.

The other caveat is that you cannot cause harm to yourself, the one you want to fix, or the people around you. It’s not just physical harm. Poor timing or poor message construction could cause emotional damage, and the emotional damage could result in spiritual damage. Damage is the exact opposite of what a fixer is seeking.

Just my not-so-humble (and confused and confusing) two cents’ worth…