Conviction

We are not convicted by pastors and preachers. We are not convinced by bible-thumping, church-going and rule-following. We are introduced to the power of Christ over our dinner tables, in our bedrooms, on the street corners. We are tugged at by common images we see over and over that we know and feel deep down are against God’s love. The little girl who is abused, the old man who is cold and alone, the adult who has been abandoned and misguided. We are convicted by hand-holding, grace-giving and life-living. We are not motivated by anger or fear, we are pushed forward by compassion and understanding. We are compelled by the Holy Spirit. His presence in our lives is only possible if we make a home for him. If we clear out the clutter of the world and prepare a place for him to dwell.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord.

Mark 1:3 New Living Translation
He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him!'”

This can be a metaphor for our lives. Clear the mind, body and soul for him to do his work through us. As Jesus moved through the crowd to perform miracles in his time, he does that now as well. He moves through us, from person to person, performing miracles through the kindness of outreach. His presence is here. His presence is love. We need only open our eyes to it.

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Jesus was table-flipping mad.

if we are to prepare a space for the living God (holy spirit), then we shall have to turn the tables as Jesus did in the temple. when he saw the mess and corruption, he didn’t go find a bucket of suds or the latest swiffer mop, he went radical, he went nuclear. we are the temple. our bodies and minds are compared to the temple. more accurately, we are the tabernacle (worship tent). the portable home for God to dwell. Jesus didn’t neatly put everything away: sort, keep, donate, trash. he violently flipped the tables aside and cleared the space for God to come in. he showed them the error of their thinking immediately and required a change. stop tidying up and start flipping out!

This is Evil

peacepeAce
does not feaR men or guns.

time will have its perFect results of heaven.
our God will not abIde craven idolatry:
murderous sacrifice oF our innocent children,
worship of weapons insTead of His power on high,
grEed,
thEft,
a complete abadonmeNt of morals or wisdom.
keep your thoughtS and prayers alive

with actionS of this body
stalk and storm Halls of justice
with your powerful autOmatic voices of reason
attack vaUlts of law
where this Love of guns
is stored and protecteD by evil money and favor

oust and roust, Bust virtue out
kill the silencE of idling hands

demand safer lives wIth cautious liberty.
turn over the tables of destiny by eLecting those who should die for you
rather than kiLl in your names.
in thE name
of God,
peAce
should never be down the dark barreL of a privately-purchased democracy.


AR-FIFTEENS SHOULD BE ILLEGAL.

This is an acrostic poem, aligned in the center.
The center column has an equal number of letters on either side in each line.
The power in this country rests in the hands of those with guns and money.
It should rest on the peaceful people.


If you need a gun to protect what you have?
You don’t have what you need.


AR-15s should not be made legally available to murder 15 yos.


Every gun ever made was forged to kill a being.
Every gun ever made has or will kill a living thing. Or multiple living things.
Guns were made for no other purpose.
Only man could make killing so easy.
Karma will call and collect her damages.

Back the F up.

My favorite saying is:

E’erbody bettah back the *F* up off me. Except I don’t use *F*. Well. I use the F and 3 more letters immediately following. 😀

I say it jokingly. Except when I don’t. Or I like this phrase as well. Check yourself, before you wreck yourself. I say it sassy with a few snaps and head whips. Followed by an “MM-hm!” It’s a power move. Sometimes it’s funny.

But. It’s offensive. It can be ugly. I can be ugly. Depends on the mood and reception of the audience.

I do it to protect myself. I do many things to protect myself. I lose my temper from time to time when I can’t cope with life in general any more. Tuesday night, I snapped. And not just my fingers.


I served at Tuesday’s special election in my county. It was interesting, humbling and an incredibly long day. I was at the poll for 14 hours and change.

I got up at 4 am (not something I normally do) to be at the poll at 6 am sharp. I had to drive for 30 minutes just to get to the location. Hopefully, the next election will be closer, in my own precinct or near it. Administration said it would be.

I served all day, had a small break for lunch, and 2-3 shorter breaks here and there. The steady flow of voters didn’t allow much downtime. By the time I finished, I was exhausted. Plus, I spent the day with older women who had all the time in the world to complain, moan and lecture me about the way voting should change or how I was not properly allocating ballots.

“I’m going to work the floor!” A job that most of the older women loathed. Standing (I had a chair to sit in if there were no voters on the floor), addressing the parting voters, checking the booths for left items, and repetitively explaining the tabulator/ballot box procedure (Slide your ballot over the green arrow, over the gray, under the black, wait for the waving American flag to tell you “Thank you for voting!” and then I would say, “Yay! You voted! Yay democracy!” and that would illicit usually a laugh, smile or a thank you.) But I gladly worked my tiny corner of isolation to get away from the bitching bitties.

“Oy! My back!”
“Why do you have to stay 5 feet away from the ballot box?”
“Don’t forget…!”
“OH! You did that wrong!”
“Martha, do this…”
“Martha, do that…”

Most of the older women were racist. Or bigoted. Or just clueless to etiquette, correct terminology, or considerate behavior.

“That guy who came in with the two Oriental kids.”

WTF??

“You mean Asian?” is what I wanted to say, but I just let it go.

Finally, before I left, one of the women was bossing me around, biting my neck (she had been hateful most of the day and specifically to me at times) and I finally bit back.

“Martha, put these away! You know where they go.”

My 5 o’clock whistle blew. Except it was 6:57 pm. “(Bitch), I will put them away when we close the poll!” (Her name has been changed to Bitch to protect the guilty.)

She thought the poll had closed, but we were still a few minutes from shutting the doors. “Oh, I thought we had closed. Sorry.” But Bitch said “sorry” like your husband on your period. “Saw-ree!” Like the inflective (not a word!) equivalent of “Sheesh!”

I was silent. Everyone should worry when I’m silent.

After the poll closed, I turned to Bitch and said, “I’ve never put this away before, I don’t know where they go, but I assume they go in this envelope. Is that correct, (Bitch)?” And I said it firmly, politely, but with that edge of “I will cut a Bitch.” One raised eyebrow.

One quiet, schooled, submissive “Yes.”

“Thank you!”

I heard no more from Bitch.

Needless to say, I was on edge after my husband picked me up.

On the way home, we got into an argument. It doesn’t matter why, but he did something that always triggers me. Always. We’ve had many discussions about the behavior, but he continues to do said shenanigans. After being triggered by the horrible woman at the poll for 14!!! hours, I was weak, vulnerable, tired, hungry, in a really bad place. I was not grumpy. I was not taking out my frustration on my family. I was talking about the day and my frustration with the woman, but I don’t think I was berating my family. I wasn’t. My husband and daughter had asked about my day and I had simply told them all the various good and bad aspects of working an election. Procedures, attitudes, expectations. They were interested because none of us had ever worked an election before. Overall, it was gratifying. But any 14-hour day doing anything is going to be taxing. Gratifying or not.

So, the inevitability of the situation was obvious. My husband spent most of the day pursuing a low-priority goal and neglected some crucial chores. He needed to find a power cord for an item we need to sell, he needed to follow up about a temp job for IT, and he needed to feed our daughter dinner. Or at least communicate with me about dinner coordination. Unfortunately, he waited to pick me up at 8:00 pm in hopes that we could all grab a bite together.

Okay. Not horrible. Mildly thoughtful. I say mildly because we both will use any excuse to eat out at any time and the benefit to our partner is secondary to satisfying our eat-out lust. But our daughter eating dinner after 8 on a school night is a digestive juggernaut. Not unheard of, but normally highly-questioned by my husband. It’s just not ideal. But it’s okay if he says so.

And then, on top of all of that, triggered from 14-hour Bitch, chores neglected and now, engage the boosters on trigger-happy hubby with his self-proclaimed “productive” morning routine of dragging home stereo equipment from a thrift store to transfer old tapes to digital storage and cleaning the stereo equipment on my dining room table! with alcohol.

You may not know this, and I’m not sure that he did either, but alcohol would probably eat the finish off my cheap, not-solid wood table. It would probably at least dull the surface. I would like that not to happen. I just bought the damn thing 3 years ago.

We just can’t have nice things. Sigh. LOL
That, and “I can’t take you anywhere.” LOL

Thankfully, it was fine. He put a towel down, but if it had spilled? No towel is going to help.

My husband trying to clean something is like a 5 yo shouting, “Mommie, look! I washed all your sweaters in the toilet!” LOL Just kidding. It’s not that bad. But close.

It’s just, after the day I had, and one of the first things my husband tells me on the way to dinner is, “I did a thing that we have talked about not to do. I did that and only that while you’ve been gone for 14 hours working for our family to make ends meet because I don’t make enough money any more.”

He didn’t say that. That’s what I heard.

So. I lost it. I got super upset. I was PTSD-ing all over the car. I was shrill. Screamy. Angry. We had a bad fight. But we made it through. It took a while. Lots of talking. (He hates that.) Lots of emotion. (He hates that.) Lots of stress. (We both hate that.)

I don’t like being sassy, but I tend to get that way when I feel attacked. As with Bitch. I tend to get that way with my husband, too. Sassy. Mean. Sarcastic. Hateful. It’s mainly when I feel he isn’t listening. Or understanding. Or trying.

You know, it’s like, what’s the point in behaving if I’m talking to a brick wall? Right? And then out comes the mud.

I don’t want this though. I struggle with changing my approach. I struggle with being sweet or polite or even-tempered when I feel neglected. And my family has just not been paying attention lately. Our Christian approach to life is care for each other. This is what God has intended. That’s our thinking. Except, I care for others, put myself last, and then everyone else cares only for themselves. So I get the poopie end of that stick! Feel me, Ladies? I know I’m not alone.

But. Still. I have to do right, no matter what. I have to control myself. I have to follow God. I have to ask for help not from my husband, family or friends, I have to rely on God’s Holy Spirit. No one, not me, not my husband, not my daughter, not Bitch can give me the fruits of the Spirit. That can only come from God. So I have to remember. Ask. Receive. It’s hard to remember when sin and evil are right on top of you. Biting your neck. I need help to remember to ask for help! LOL

I want to be better. Trigger free. I just know that’s not realistic. So I need to call on God. Pray. Submit. Remember. Practice.

Everyone will let you down. Eventually. I’m not perfect. I let my family, friends and co-workers down every day. We just have to reach for grace. For ourselves. For others. For the people we have vowed to love. As a Christian, that’s a vow with everyone.


God, help me. Fill me with your Spirit today and every day. Help me back that *F* train up. Help me be beautiful on the inside. Let your face be the face that others see when they look at me. Help me show your love to the whole world. Help me be an example of your grace with the help of your Spirit. I can’t do it alone. I will fail. I need you. Without you, I am not whole. I am ugly and weak and imperfect. I need you to complete your work in me: your intention, your purpose, my heart transformation, my life dedication through your providence of the Spirit. Amen.

When We

When they hate
We shall love

When they argue
We shall listen

When they act
We shall pray (and protest)

When they injure
We shall heal the whole world

When they kill
We shall inherit heaven

“When they go low,
We go high.”


They may torture my body, break my bones, even kill me.
Then they will have my dead body, but not my obedience.–Mahatma Gandhi

unlovable

from 2014. i’m better now. almost.


so, okay. i have this terrible condition that rears its ugly head every so often. i start to feel bad. mentally, internally. then it sort of morphs into something worse. a terrifying feeling of not being loved. then i set about to let everyone in my tiny family know about it. i moan and shout from the next room, “No one loves me!” then my family rushes in and kisses me and reassures me. “We love you!” it’s a fun, silly game, but one that i need sometimes because while i make a joke, i still need that comfort and love to bolster my fragile mentality.

well last night, i finally realized, what i really feel is, “I’m unlovable.” i begin to feel as if no one in the world could possibly love me. that i’m too fat, ugly, annoying and selfish for anyone to love. so i said, from my bedroom last nite, “I’m unlovable!” then my family rushed in, Lilli who is so smart, “I love you! And God loves you!” I said, “No, you don’t. You can’t possibly.” and she made some silly joke to make me laugh about how i was being impossible. and then Guy rushed in, hugging me and kissing me, singing Voice of Truth.

…and the voice of truth tells me a different story,
and the voice of truth says do not be afraid…

which is his subtle-not subtle way of saying, “Shut up! Stop lying to yourself.”

and that’s what i am doing. i’m lying to myself. i’m listening to that tiny, crazy voice that tells me:
i’m worthless.
i’m scared.
i’m not loved.
and that’s not the voice of truth, that’s not the voice of God. that’s the voice of the enemy–my own thoughts OR the twisted up world OR the devil.

i am lovable. i am loved. if for no other reason than God loves me. i am thankful for my family. for my husband, who is the voice of reason. for scooping me up and sparing me from my own terrible thoughts, for giving me undivided attention even when i’m pretty obvious about it. i love you, Guy. thanks for the reminder.

yes, we can.

no one has to do it all
we can share the work
you don’t have to walk so tall
especially when it hurts

submit to being led
when everything comes to a crawl
let me be your feather bed
when you need a place to fall

it’s not possible to always be strong
one day you’ll skip and stumble
feeling weak is not wrong
just don’t forget to be humble

no one’s ever flawless
everyone makes mistakes
somewhere deep in this solace
is the place our heart awakes

give grace and be open to receive
simple premise that promises perfection
dare hope and we shall believe
let this be our invocation

Charity Begins at Home (and with Demi)

I asked a WordPress friend to speak about charity. Here are her thoughts and answers.


Demi, known as The Lupie Momma on WordPress, is turning 27 this year. She is not disappointed about getting older, she’s planning a huge 30th birthday celebration. (Get it, girl!) But she is a little sentimental about her daughter growing up so fast. Demi has a sweet, little girl who is almost 4. Demi is a wife and mother by day, working gal by night.

She’s dabbled at blogging for a few years on a few sites, but recently she decided to finish her novel. While struggling with Lupus (autoimmune disorder), she’s been working hard on this memoir. Demi is right and brave when she says “…life is too short not to go after everything.”
What do you do to volunteer or donate?
I’ve always given my clothes that are in good shape, that I’ve outgrown, to people I think can use them. Now that I have a fast growing toddler, I have started giving her old clothes and toys to other families. We have been fortunate enough to be able to afford these things, but we realize that some people aren’t as lucky.


Demi told me more about her personal giving.
They have a friend, Brandon (name changed for privacy). He’s a single dad of triplets. The mother is not involved on a regular basis. Brandon has to provide for 3 children. On his own. Demi knows how expensive one growing child can be. So. She started helping in any way she could. Brandon’s children are just 6 months younger than Demi’s girl. 2 of the triplets are girls. So Brandon is fixed for “hand-me-downs”. Brandon is truly grateful for the regular supply of girl’s clothing that Demi gives every change of the season.
Right before Christmas, Demi was preparing for the incoming onslaught of new toys for baby girl. They found an unused toddler bed and chair. She messaged Brandon right away. A few days later, Brandon posted about bills and presents; how hard it would be to provide this year. Demi had thought about buying a few small gifts, but after the post, Demi’s husband went full-on Santa. Gender-neutral toys that all the kids would enjoy. Delivered to Brandon’s house just in time for Christmas Eve. They didn’t say a word, leave a note or want any attention for doing so. They did unto others as they would want for themselves. Unfortunately, Amazon shipping included the husband’s email and Brandon figured it out. Needless to say, he was very thankful.


Why do you volunteer or donate?

We donate to help those in need because we would hope someone would help us if the shoe was on the other foot. Whether it’s to Brandon and his kids or hurricane relief somewhere else. (The state of Florida thanks you, Demi!!)
How do you feel when you give?
It’s a good feeling. Sometimes I feel guilty that I couldn’t do more, but my husband reminds me that its better I do a little than nothing at all. (I agree with your husband! If we all do some, we can do it all. <—Has someone already said that? If not, it’s so true!)

If we all do some, we can do it all!


Are you Christian or other religious affiliation? Do you give for a specific reason?

We’re Christians, but not the “we think we’re holier than others” type. We aren’t going to spit out scriptures at you or chaste you for not going to church.
No specific reason we do–except for the Lupus Foundation as that is a close charity that I personally benefit from.
I don’t know if I was necessarily taught to donate or volunteer, I just think my mother instilled in us from a young age to help others when we can. I remember being out to eat as a kid and my mom giving me a few dollars to give to the homeless man sitting a few tables away. Since then, I’ve just always kind of done it. Giving money to a random homeless man, or buying them a meal, giving my clothes to someone who could benefit from them. And now that I’m a mother myself, I want to instill that in my daughter. That not everyone is as fortunate as we are, and that it’s good to help others when you can.
How do your kids feel about your helping?
I’m not really sure she fully grasps the concept yet. She’s only three. Occasionally when we’re packing up stuff she hasn’t played with for months, we get the “That’s my toy!” but we explain that you know you haven’t played with it in a while, and there is someone else who would enjoy it. After a few pouts, she usually just drops the subject, goes and plays with something else. Explaining the Santa to Seniors, and why we were getting gifts for “old people who weren’t grandma or grandpa” was a bit tricky. But she picked out the names of the women we got, ‘all E’s because her name starts with E’ and picked out the bags to put their stuff in, she even threw in some hot chocolate packets for them. I hope that as she gets older, she’ll admire us for it. And continue to do it as she grows up.


While Demi regularly donates old clothes and toys, she was moved to go above and beyond this holiday season. She said, “…it felt nice buying gifts for other people that probably actually deserve the gifts.” Every year, people feel burdened in buying gifts for extended family members as an act of obligation. Holiday gift exchange can feel like a pressure cooker of negativity and resentment, boiling over by Christmas. And at the end of it all you may, like Demi, wish you had helped someone who actually needed (not wanted) something.
Demi left me with this thought from John Bunyan:

You have not lived today
until you have done something for someone
who can never repay you.


Let us know how the book is coming, Demi. I can post a link in an update. Thanks for sharing!

Please consider donating to the Lupus Foundation or to Demi’s personal fundraising goal.

Christmas

Christmas isn’t special.
Christmas is just a day.
Christ wasn’t born on the 25th
In a lighted ornamental display.

There wasn’t any tinsel.
There was not one flake of snow.
There wasn’t any cocoa.
There was no electric glow.

Mary and Joseph
And a little baby God
Sharing time and space
With travelers abroad.

No one cared who they were.
No one even knew
What on Earth was happening,
Except for a special few.

Shepherds watched.
The stars flew close.
Entertaining angels bowed
And played Heaven’s host.

No food or present can capture joy
No movie or card can free
Tomorrow you’ll find your pretty box
Is empty under the tree

The only thing empty to find
Is one important place–
The tomb in the morning with Jesus’ clothes
Replaced with amazing grace.

Light the tree and sing your songs,
I won’t begrudge your choice.
Just don’t forget the simple birth
Of your freedom to rejoice.

Kathryn, Rachel, Irma & Torrence

This will be the fourth in a series of 5 short articles.
Irma blew through on September 10, 2017, the eye-30 miles east of our location.
We met Torrence just 1 day before Irma.

Previous articles:
Kathryn
Rachel
Irma

Torrence-#4


Torrence is tall. Intimidating. Large build. Emotionless face. Stone-cold stoic. Big guy. His face is like a smooth rock with dark gems shining from behind his modern frames. He is Navajo.

His voice, though. His voice. Soothing. Simple. Soft. Un-panicked. Unhurried. Reassuring. Masculine and strong, but sweet as a baby’s breath on your cheek. Ten thousand harps plucked at once. I’m sure Torrence has been trained to speak this way, but if you’re an angel, it probably comes naturally. Torrence was our voluntary angel.

We met Torrence during Irma. Sitting on a tile floor in a school cafeteria, staring up at towering Torrence. I felt like a scared, little kid. Looking for hope. Terrified that my apartment (just a town away) and all the tiny scraps of my life were about to blow away. Or drown. Or even worse, my life and the lives of my husband and daughter were in immediate danger from the impending storm. No one knew how bad Irma would be, but the weathermen all guessed (for days) it would be the worst storm in this century.

Torrence, however, gave us peace, information and cookies. 🙂 Cookies do help make a person feel normal somehow. Thank you, Cookies. But really, thank you, Torrence.

Torrence wore his Red Cross vest, cargo pants, sturdy boots and an invisible pair of wings. He took care of everyone around him. Without sleep. Without comforts.

While we all lounged around on the floor, trying not to complain about school lunch, hard surfaces or sharing bathrooms with 2,000 people, Torrence attended his flock. He would make his rounds with pertinent information, handing out treats and tranquility.

Torrence spoke so frequently with our family that I began to feel bad. Unworthy of such care. Our cafeteria floor neighbor even remarked at his attention.

“Do you know that guy?” she asked.

“No. We just met him. He’s Red Cross. He’s just nice.”

Torrence embodied Christ. All of my childhood and adult education about Jesus and his intention were summed up in Torrence’s actions. Christians all talk about being more Christ-like, but Torrence is doing it.

He’s calm. He’s caring. He puts others first. He had a pregnant wife at home and he’s 1,000 miles away helping strangers in a dangerous situation. When other people are leaving the state entirely, Torrence is rushing toward the storm. Thank you, Torrence. Thank you for your time, your dedication, your sacrifice and your skills. But most of all, thank you for your gracious care and protection. You were there in case things got crazy. I’m sure we didn’t see the full potential of your capability, but I’m so thankful to have met you.

When you meet someone who acts the way you want people to act, how you aspire to be? It’s a good feeling. It’s meaningful. It’s important.


From the first moment I met Torrence, I couldn’t shake the feeling that he looked exactly like my German grandmother, Kathryn. I mentioned it to my husband. He just looked at me like, “Huh?”

They look nothing alike. He’s a tall dude. She was a short white lady with blue eyes. He’s nice. She was a hard-edged crone. But I had this ethereal, wispy connection to her spirit through his rugged features. I don’t know why. I just don’t. But she was there in his face. Strange how we connect the dots.

And as I thought more about his face, he reminded me of my friend Rachel from high school. But in my mind, she’s a petite African-American teenager. Torrence is in no way feminine. But these two women from my life are there in his face.

All completely different. All there together. What does it mean?