Friday, July 29, 2011

As Nervous As...

I'm not usually inclined to post twice in one day, but there is just something pushing at me so hard...

I was in a gathering tonight where there was plenty of joking going on. There was a lot of love in the room and the company was good. However, there was a comment made that caught me up short and it was hard to concentrate after I heard it.

Let me qualify this by saying that the man who said this was just trying to make a point and he would be truly devastated if he thought he had actually hurt someone. There was at least one person in the room who could have gotten offended, but she didn't seem affected by it.

So what did he say?

"When your as nervous as a whore in church."

Everyone laughed and things kept flowing. But I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Of all the people who should be nervous in church, a whore isn't one of them. Jesus came for the lost. He ate with prostitutes and tax collectors (hard to say which was reviled more in Jesus' day). He sought out those who were cast out by their society. So when I am in church worshipping Him, why should they be nervous about joining me there?

Just something I'm thinking about...


Still... I'm supposed to write as if I know what I'm talking about? I'm still uncomfortable in a group of women because I feel so different. I still don't know how to bring my childless story (childless not by preference but out of absolute fear and disobedience) into a circle that includes so many mothers and mothers-to-be. I still don't know what to do with my husband's grandchildren who are sitting in the next room at this very minute expecting me to know how to act like a grandmother. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I still know that I'm going to have to make the journey with Jesus. I've tried all kinds of ways of making the journey without Him and none of them worked. Still... while He gave me some basic instructions, He didn't really give me the manual for all of the questions that I have about life right here in my own home. There are others I could follow who would prescribe my every waking moment if I let them, but they don't have the answers really. So I still follow Him. And I can't really get used to this writing for the fun of it without editing. I'm still all about editing myself down to almost non-existence and so I will have to learn about flowing with things the way the other people around me are doing. I don't think I'm going to make it to five minutes because the grandson keeps opening the door and his seven year old brain could care less about why I am typing so it is time for some Smurfs...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

She Knew...

I’ve been learning Bible stories since I was a little girl. My precious Mother read to us every night before we climbed into our twin beds with matching race car bedspreads (the bedspreads were not my choice). So of course I knew the story of the woman at the well. As a youngster, the only thing that really stood out to me was that she was a girl and the church seemed awfully patriarchal (I did not actually know the word patriarchal at that time). I might sometimes wonder how she came by so many husbands because I had absolutely no frame of reference for that, but once Bible class was over, I forgot about that Samaritan woman and went on with my business. Around the time I graduated from high school, there was a song by my favorite gospel singing group about the woman at the well. It was really upbeat – yes, I said upbeat. I hadn’t screwed things up too bad at that point, so I still didn’t really think about that woman much. When I was be-bopping along to that song,  I just thought how lucky she was to have Jesus talk to her like that.

Nobody really predicted how that would change for me. Of how I would be able to relate…

It’s important to be able to relate, especially with fellow Christians. It’s just as important to be able to acknowledge when you can’t relate. When I went back to college, there was a woman at the church I started attending who was honest in saying she couldn’t relate (and by that point I was screwing things up pretty badly). This woman – we’ll call her R – was not at all condescending. Her point was valid. R had done everything the way she was “supposed to”: she went to church all her life, she got baptized, she dated only Christians, she waited until she got married to lose her virginity, she brought her kids to church, etc. R didn’t know what it felt like to break most of the rules. So she didn’t try to pretend that she did. I have had countless number of people (usually women – they like to relate) pat me on the hand, the back, or even the head and tell me, “I understand exactly what you are going through.” And it was such a patronizing lie. 99.9% of them had never experienced anything like what I was going through, so it was refreshing when R would just say, “I don’t understand.” She still supported me and prayed for me, but she didn’t pretend. And sometimes that was as good as it got. I never did find that many women in my church who had done the types of things I had done. At least nobody was speaking up about it. By the time I needed a song about the woman at the well, upbeat wasn’t cutting it.

Friday, July 22, 2011


TMI. Too Much Information. It is everywhere. There is just the general information overload that we get from internet, television, cell phones, billboards, podcasts, radio, etc. Then there is the serious TMI we get from reality TV, late-night talk shows, and a huge chunk of cable television programming. Almost everywhere you turn there is something extremely enticing or badly repulsive jumping out to grab your attention.

Then there are your friends that "over share" and tell you personal things you would rather not know. This can run the range from minutely-detailed birthing stories to boys' locker room tales told in mixed company. If you are a social worker like I am, your clients might describe for you every facet of their recent surgery or their sex lives all while you are trying to find an agency to help pay the client's water bill. (Yes, some friends give this information too.) Sometimes there is no way to get your hands up over your ears and start singing "la la la la la" fast enough to save you from a gory account of an exploding diaper or a giggling narrative of a married girlfriend's not-so-innocent flirtation with an unmarried co-worker.

It is all just too much.

It wasn’t like this when I was younger, though. Much of what is now so commonplace on “Maury” or “Jerry Springer” that is seems like one show is being rerun over and over would have definitely qualified as scandalous in my young years. There were some things that weren’t talked about when I was younger that needed to be talked about, but it seems like the pendulum has swung way too far in the other direction. There are just some things I don’t feel I need to know – even when it is coming from a friend, much less from total strangers.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

God Has Smiled On Me!

Sometimes I think I would be a more rested and productive individual if the bulk of my writing ideas didn't come to me in the middle of the night. But tonight... this morning? 2am? I cannot begrudge God this one. Ever.

I woke up just a few minutes ago with a song, "God Has Smiled On Me", running through my head. I have only heard this particular song once - 11 years 5 days ago at my friends Denise and Zach's wedding. When I asked her years later who sang it, Denise couldn't remember and I have never been able to find it online. It was a lovely a cappella song and not a bad thing to wake up to at all!

And God has smiled on me! Today is proof in ways that other days aren't. As He is teaching me to love mercy and show it to others, today is a day that is meant to remind me of the awesome mercy He has bestowed upon me! I am having to stop my typing every few seconds to feel love and gratitude washing over me.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Girlfriend Promise

Several years ago there was an email circulating around (still might be somewhere) all about our feet. It was aimed at our women friends (though I vaguely remember a footnote saying this might be good info for guys too) and it was prompted each year by the onset of Sandal Season (yes, that is an actual season). I received this from several people several years in a row, which led me to believe that either 1) my friends used to really love forwarding emails or 2) my friends did not want me to be caught in a terrible faux pas or 3) my feet had already somehow offended somebody and I needed this info badly. Nobody ever said and I was afraid to ask.

This email basically told the reader that it was every woman's responsibility to get a pedicure if she was planning on wearing sandals. It listed all the things about feet that nobody wanted to see that could be cured by a pedicure. Evidently, not only do good fences make good neighbors, but so do heels that have seen a pumice stone. Who knew? The email asked the reader to promise to follow all the listed feet rules and to pass on the list so our girlfriends could make the promise too. There was some good advice on the list, but you could tell that whoever the writer was, she had some serious issues with exposed feet. Very few people ever saw me in sandals and I had not been raised by a woman who ever paid for pedicures (or manicures), so I just filed this information away for future reference. However, I did end up with a healthy paranoia about offending people with my feet. As far as I knew, it wasn't Biblical. The only foot-care story I remember from Bible class was Jesus washing the Apostles feet. Nevertheless, I felt duly warned and tried to keep my unpolished toes from the light of day whenever possible.

Fast forward a few years. Either due to the natural cycle of things or Global Warming (I don't feel very opinionated on this one), summers in Texas have gotten substantially longer and hotter. Let me repeat that: LONGER AND HOTTER. My feet seem to be ending up in rather warm situations on a regular basis, so I have invested in some sandals (never pay retail - sales are a must). I don't have much practice at self-pedicures so my skills are greatly lacking. I decided to start investing in pedicures. Not the high class spa type, but just the corner-nail-salon pedicure. Hubby thought it was a good idea for me to pamper myself too.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cool Quote of the Day

"Remember the ten thousand talents that Christ forgave you? Do not become a cruel collector of a smaller debt." - St. Gregory the Theologian

Forgiveness is part of showing mercy - of loving mercy - and I need to be reminded on a regular basis not to hold on to those small hurts. It is so easy to nurse grudges without really thinking about it. At least that is true for me. I'm trying not to become a "cruel collector". Glad these little reminders keep popping up everywhere.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Higher Learning Through Online Shopping

I’ve been away from my blog for over two weeks now. How time slips by... God had guided me into thinking about all of the experiences I have had that have led me to want to show mercy to others. I started to write about it and soon realized that it would be a multi-post endeavor. And with life happening all around me, I got bogged down and stopped. (Could that be called getting “blogged” down?)

The multi-post writing job is still in process. However, wanting to be faithful to God’s call to keep myself accountable through writing, I’m going to keep on typing about things that come up.

During all the time that I was ignoring my writing, I still found time (unfortunately, according to my husband) to shop online. I should probably examine that closer, but I’m not ready (not willing?) to yet. I’m not sure that I enjoy “being accountable through writing” when I end up having to admit to one and all the vices in my life. But there it is.

So what new finds did I haul in from online? Well, I have a new ring. I wasn’t actually shopping for a ring, but it was shiny and caught my eye. It is inscribed with this verse: "Delight Yourself In The Lord And He Will Give You The Desires Of Your Heart - Psalm 37:4." Being the self-centered person that I am, getting the desires of my heart has a big interest for me. And wearing Christian jewelry makes me a good person, right? (please read that sarcastically) It is just another type of cop-out evangelism for me: don’t approach people directly about my beliefs, but have some outward sign that might make them ask questions. No pressure on me to spread the Good News. God will just make it happen because I’m wearing this ring, right? Wow. This accountability thing sucks sometimes. Sorry I can’t think of a better word for it, but really...

So far, nobody has asked me about the ring.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mom's Testimony

Taking a break from our regularly-schedule Mercy message... ;)  A few days ago, I shared some of my grief over Mom. I think it is only appropriate that I share the Good News she shared too.


Both my sister and I spoke at my Mother's funeral. Suzanne spoke eloquently about Mom's legacy and I spoke (not as eloquently) about Mom's testimony. I want to share with you now what I shared at the funeral -- not because I wrote it. Not even because it is about Mom. I want to share it with you because of what Mom's testimony says about Jesus Christ. She would want you to hear the Message too.

* * * * * * * * * * *

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1)

Claris Shaw spent her life teaching her children about the Word. She taught us that Jesus was our friend, our salvation, and our refuge. She taught us that He was the Truth that would set us free.

In January of 2011, Mom started reading a 365-day Bible. She read every day, no matter what else was going on. On Feb. 5th, a stroke attacked the communication center in her brain. Her ability to speak, to comprehend, and to read was deeply affected. She lost memories. She lost vocabulary. She lost speech skills. She lost whole concepts.

The one thing that did not leave her was the Word of God and her love for it. A dear, dear friend would come to read the Word to Claris several days a week. Even when she was in pain or disturbed, calm would come over her as the Word was being read. Even with the loss of memories she still remembered passages that she loved and requested them. There was no power, illness, or tragedy that could steal the Word from her. Even after she had her second stoke, even after she was sedated, the Word was read to her and at each reading it was a peace that came over her. She had true faith in the WORD. The Bible says in both the Old and New Testaments that the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us. Jesus, the Word who spoke her into being, never left my Mom. This is the testimony of Claris Shaw. The Word is Truth. The Word is Life.