Thursday, February 27, 2014

That "Sort of People"

Oh gosh, today is one of those days where I have no idea what to write about... I'm so busy I can't think straight and really, there's not that much going on! I guess it's just business before vacation that's making it seem so crazy. You know me, I love quotes and they can always get my little wheels turning... So here we go... (Pinterest Break)

A friend of mine was sitting in a University class the other day when a hot topic was brought to the discussion floor... My friend is a very kind person and to my knowledge has quite a few friends in the class, however during this discussion people were saying things about a certain "sort of people." How they don't deserve to go to University because they have no mind of their own anyway... How they know nothing about the real world... How that group of people discriminates against another group and they should be stopped with whatever force necessary. My friend sat through that class with people all around putting her down because she belongs to a "certain sort" of people, no they didn't direct their comments directly at her but they knew she was there, they knew she was part of that group... They meant it for her ears and heart.  The sad part is, they kind of succeeded, it hurt her, she was angry and felt she was alone and couldn't or shouldn't speak up. The quote above isn't exactly realistic, don't get upset... Ummm, hello? We're human and upset will happen! But My friend didn't give a reaction and no matter the reason, that was a good thing.

I know all the air is probably sucked out of the room you're in right about now but hear me out... It wasn't the right decision not to react because she shouldn't stand up for herself, but because the fight wasn't fair. First of all you're talking about taking human rights away from one to give to another, second of all both on the part of my friend and on the part of the "attackers" there was way to high emotion levels to even attempt a rational and respectful sharing of views. So I agree, biting her tongue, in this instance and for now, was appropriate. My friend picked not to have the argument right then and that was good, but the battle must be fought...

I get it, we don't agree with everyone all the time (not even among ourselves) and that is normal, it's part of being human, Christian or not... But, as Christians we need to be respectful! There is no reason to step all over someone with verbal abuse just because they are part of a "certain sort" that we don't agree with... Just because a "certain sort" has been abusive with you in the past doesn't mean every person in a group is abusive and doesn't mean you have the right to abuse every person you meet from that group in the future! Listen, Jesus didn't agree with a ton of people (including you and I sometimes I'm sure), His words were often controversial but He was never abusive, even when He was being abused.  So basically, if you're a Christian and you're not speaking like one, shame on you! You are a white washed tomb, filled with dead, brittle bones and you need to get back to God's heartbeat to reach!

One thing I didn't mention... My friend who was being discriminated against was the Christian in the room.  It wasn't that she was bashing a group of others, no, they were saying those things about her "sort." First, allow me to apologize if you're on the other side of the argument, I'm so sorry if you've been abused verbally or otherwise by any so called Christian, that is not what we are here for and that's not how the majority of us feel, we may not agree with you but you are just as valuable of a human being as any one else and we love you... That being said, just as I came down on the Christians with tongues like vipers and brittle hearts, you must not allow yourself to become venomous either... I know it's a hard place to be when you're the one being "picked on" so to speak but you must remember that because one person in a group acted a certain way doesn't mean all of the others will OR that all of the others agree with the one. We cannot ask of others to respect us and our views, regardless of agreement, if we cannot first respect them. We must be respectful on both sides on any argument if we are to make any progress, we cannot think or act rationally if we allow ourselves to be judgmental of people as a whole because of a past infringement on our sensibilities. Please remember, people are dumb and they do and say dumb things (thanks to R. Woodward for that quote.) we don't mean to but we've all fell short in the "words of wisdom and kindness" category at some point in our lives and we must give others as much room for improvement as we would give ourselves.

All in all, as usual, you can and should have your own opinions and yes, for goodness sake express them! Use that beautiful freedom called speech that we have but please do it respectfully. No, we don't have to all agree or approve of the choices of everyone else and yes we can stand up for things we feel are right regardless of which side we are on, but we must do so with integrity, honesty and respect.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

How do You Get There?

I have to admit, I've wondered about and prayed for the will of  God for many years... I will continue to pray but the wondering is at least quelled a bit. I have many thoughts on the issue but there are a few I think should be considered by all and those are the ones I'll concentrate on today...

These days people are all about bettering ourselves and others, coming up in the world and pushing ourselves there by social media, self promotion and hard work. In and of itself none of these things are bad, no, not even a little self promotion if the motive is right... If you're promoting your singing career because the more who hear your songs, the more hear the message of Christ then go on, promote! Safety is in reminding yourself that it's not really about you as the messenger; only the delivery of the message itself.  The problem is we all have these huge dreams and ideals of what our lives should be and when we should reach those goals... Not that dreams or goals are wrong, they're not, but our timing is not God's timing and the journey is just as important as the destination.  We think of "God's will" being the destination but it's not, it's every step along the way... Jesus said, many times, he came to do the will of he who sent him... He said he was going about doing the will of his father in heaven... The crucifixion and resurrection was always the destination for Christ but the will of God was in each miracle, each conversation, each prayer, each touch and each relationship along the way.

So how do we know we are in the will of God? One of life's most urgent questions... But so simple because it's not secretive or mysterious at all... It's written in black and while... Actually, red. The secret to being in the will go God is obedience.  I know, we don't like that word, we haven't liked any words close to that since we hit teenage years and began thinking we were "grown up..." The funny thing is, once you've actually grown into an adult, you realize you still feel like a child in most ways... No more ready for life than you were at eight years of age, yes, you're older but do you have it all together? Do you know all you believe you should? Absolutely not... Maybe those insecurities are the true sign of adulthood..?  But still... Obey? We don't obey anyone, we are our own person, an individual and "we will..." Oh what's that Miley? Oh yes, "we will do whatever we want." The thing is, along with our prized independence and freedom we obey someone everyday! We obey culture, social expectations & norms (for the most part and I hope,) we obey our employers...  And you, dear entrepreneurs, feeling proud that you have no boss to obey, think again! I work for one of you "no boss but myself" people and we both know who you obey... Yes you do... You're slave to your clientele, you obey anything they want to the best of your ability... If you don't, you're most likely not going to lose the business.  So now that we realize while the word itself may get our back up, obedience is a daily routine for us all, we just need to apply it elsewhere...

Now that I'm ready to put all this into action I need to know what it is God is looking for from me, what He wants me to obey... Well, God is pretty involved actually, He cares a lot about all aspects of our lives and there is lots to find that He likes, a lot of things to make Him happy but we will concentrate on what He said were the most important. He was asked outright what were he most important commandments to obey and He answered "love God, love people." (Matthew 22:36-40)  Really? That's it!? Yes... But when you think about it, that encompasses everything we do.  I think we know how to love people, be kind, care.... While it is possible to love someone and not agree with them (come on, my parents rarely agreed with me on anything but they loved me, just the same) it is not possible to love someone and not respect them. Love is just as much in the little things like a note or a smile as it is the big things and overall, even if we aren't always obedient, I think that commandment is the one we know how to obey...  But loving God... How do you prove that, how do you show it? Well, Jesus answered that question too! Jesus said "people would know you love God when you obey his commands..." (John 14:15John 15:10 & Proverbs 4:4

Here we are back at obedience... And now "commands," what are His commands? Again they are involved but there are a couple of first steps that we must take care of initially and continue to uphold... Get into relationship with God, first and foremost - repent of your sins (that means get sorry for the wrong things you've done in God's sight, the disappointment and hurt you've brought to Him but not sorry only, change direction, be sorry enough to change the behavior.) repentance is kind of like getting rid of all your past relationships before getting serious with your soul mate! Completely breaking ties with the past, letting go of any remaining feelings because you want to move on. Next get baptized in the name of Jesus! That is putting you into covenant, not with a church but with God himself; kind of like a wedding ceremony... Getting baptized puts you in that kind of relationship with god, you marry yourself to Him. And once that happens you will receive His spirit in you, kind of like the honeymoon, you become one with Him! And one more command... Jesus' last commandment to us, "go and tell!" (Matthew 16:15 & Matthew 28:19-20) Don't keep all this love for yourself, share it with others, this is the one command that takes care of both loving God and loving people at the same time, with the same action! Just tell others about how awesome God is because He is! You're not responsible for their response, it's their choice to refuse Him or open their heart, you are only responsible for giving them an opportunity, sending the invitation You may not be standing in front of thousands in a stadium with each person in the crowd holding onto every single word that falls off you lips, but guess where you are... Smack dab in the middle of God's will.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nobody's Valentine... What You're Doing Wrong & Changes You Need to Make

So,  it's the day before valentines day... All the quotes like the ones above - which is one of my favorites - are circling about, that fuzzy feeling in the air, love in the eyes of people all around.... My favorite time of year... Not exactly, I mean I love love but I'm not in a relationship and there is a tidal wave coming in that basically just says to us singles "look what you don't have yet..." Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for all you who are dating and hitched and I don't even feel like I've missed out on anything at this point but this year I'm nobody's valentine and I still want what you have, someday :) 

I read this quote today and loved it... I think because it's what I've been realizing lately... This time, being single, is a perfect opportunity for me to be like tea, to read more of God's word, to pray more, to get close enough to him that a husband is an addition into an already incredible relationship instead of something that will define my relationship with God. God will be the base of my relationship and that's exactly how it should be... We need to take this time and use it, not wish it away waiting for our futures! We need to use the waiting to grow into the future God has planned, to prepare ourselves for that future...

I've been told a lot about how to get into a relationship throughout my 20's... I've considered all of it, some of it has even changed the way I've presented myself at points but I want to make sure you don't make the same mistakes without hearing what has to be said after the fact...  I've been told by well meaning people that I'm intimidating to guys (which for you who are thinking "yeah right" don't worry, I don't believe it! Haha) I've been told I'm too smart, I'm too put together and should be more messy sometimes... So I've acted less intelligent than I am, I've let myself have messier hair than I like, I've dressed differently than I like. I've been told I'm too spiritual, too involved in my church, too into God... And, shamefully, I've tried to act like I'm not, I've tried to pretend like I don't want or need a man who is completely committed to God and involved in the church... I've even considered dating outside church...  I've been told I love my mom too much, I shouldn't live with her or care about her opinion on a man... I have to say, that one I didn't change for but I was embarrassed at times and I did wonder if I should just not care what's she thinks... I've been told I should hold myself back, I shouldn't buy my own home, have a car, or pets or responsibilities and because of that I almost didn't buy my home! How crazy is that my home is my proudest adult purchase, it's a security for myself and my mother and I need responsibilities! After all the things I changed for a season I've now (actually a long time ago) decided I am not going to be ashamed of any of those things! I am intelligent, I like to have my hair and clothes neat (although it does not happen 24/7 I want to present myself well),  I am spiritual, my life is God and church centered, I am involved in everything I can be at my church and offer to do more anytime I can,  I read my bible, I pray, I fast, I don't miss church, I love my family, my pets and I own my own home, I have a great career and someday I hope to go into ministry full-time! All of that is who I am, I love it all and I want someone who likes all of that... Furthermore, I want someone who is a lot like that... I mean the hair can be messed up, his clothes don't have to be trendy or anything haha, but I want someone who has a life of their own, I want someone who loves his family and helps them, I want someone who is involved in his church and has a strong relationship with God! I want someone who has everything he needs and will give it up if god calls him to! just like I would! And you know what, a man like that will want a woman like me, he won't be intimidated by it he will be attracted to it, he will appreciate it. Honestly, I'm embarrassed I was ever weak enough to hold myself back, to hide my passion for Christ, maybe not completely but hiding that at all is too much, I'm embarrassed I ever listened enough to those well meaning people to change for one second... If you're someone who has said any of those things to someone, please never say it again, we get it, you feel bad, you're trying to make us feel better but just say " be yourself and the right person for you will come" that will make us feel better.  And if you're like me and you've listened to any of those words, don't change a thing, don't dumb it down, don't change the way you dress or act or pray or love, grow and be proud of that growth! This Valentines Day be yourself and be proud of that, you can't attract the right person for you if you're hiding who you really are!

Lastly, the favorite thing I read today... I love my dad but because my parents are divorced we don't talk about the man thing... Haha. I know my dad would do anything for me and wants the best for me but I don't think he would involve himself in that aspect of my life.. So sometimes I feel unguided in that area... There's something about a dad's view and protection when it comes to their daughters relationships (future or present) and that's always been something I've felt I've missed out on... This helped and if you're that girl I thought you should read this too. If you're a dad, you should pattern after Him...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Silence Speaks Volumes

The other day I was browsing Facebook and found a story a friend wrote... It was a true story about a train ride she took earlier that week and I wanted to share it with you all!  This is exactly what I am talking about, it is so easy to do and it can really make a difference for you and the other person involved!  Please consider others and try to find ways to show it, it's so simple when you consider stories like this...

"Riding the tram on Hong Kong Island back to our hotel this afternoon, I made my way gradually toward the front of the car in preparation to get off shortly... I noticed an attractive young woman (maybe 30,) wearing dark sunglasses standing just ahead and a bit to the right side of me.

I suddenly became aware of tears silently trickling down her face and then watched as she quietly brushed them away with her hands, first one side and then the other. She clearly was quite upset. Noticing she had no tissue, I searched in my own bag, found one still in its packet and quietly pushed it into her hand without saying a word. After a few wipes, the tears were still coming and I could tell she'd needing another... So again, I searched my bag found another tissue in its own packet & handed that one to her as well. 

This all took place without a word spoken although she had quickly half glanced back at me with the passing of the 1st tissue. Now, with her own, barely perceptible body language and my sensitivity to her sadness - feeling her hurt though not knowing the source - thankfulness was expressed and empathy was exchanged.

I haven't been able to get her off my mind since returning to my room ... knowing all too well how she was feeling standing in that tramcar with tears coursing down her cheeks. I've been there standing or sitting in a public place feeling the pain of whatever situation I was in at the moment, nobody else knowing, silently suffering, unable to stop the tears. I'm sure that many of us have been.

I'm thankful that I could at least silently empathize and express care to someone in need this afternoon with the passing of tissues and a soft, kind touch to her shoulder as I moved past her to disembark.  I'll not quickly forget her and I pray she's feeling better soon. These little, unexpected moments and situations mark days in a special way. Mine was specially marked today!" - Deborah Curtis, Missionary

And there you have it, no words are needed, you can speak very clearly without uttering a word sometimes... After all, actions speak louder... There is little cost involved in making someone's day better, just time and sensitivity... A smile, an unexpected coffee or note, a dollar more with your normal tip to a waitress with a note he or she is doing a fabulous job. Just speak to someone's heart this week!