Sunday, July 29, 2007

If He Loses Even One.......

A while back I read a long blog article called "Is Hell Redemptive or Retributive". He made some very good points in favor of redemption that I have never heard stated in quite the same way in any article I have read on UR. I printed it and am going to read it in more depth when I have the time (like that is ever going to happen) ....but he seems to allow for the possibility that after the chastising redemptive period of punishment (which I am not sure I really believe in anyway) there may have been so much dross burned away that there is nothing left of the person to save. In theory that sounds logical, I suppose...but then, how does one reconcile that with the thoughts that God would have known that....and would not have created that individual to begin with....would he? Then it occurred to me as I was bustling around the kitchen getting spaghetti sauce ready to go in the crock pot.....that it makes no difference really whether one lost soul slips through God's fingers.....or one million lost souls.....or a hundred million lost would still disqualify Christ as the savior of the world. His save the world.......would have failed. Since God is already conciliated toward us....and it is mankind that must come into the knowledge and belief of this.....then if any remain unreconciled, our stubborn human will could thwart God. It makes no difference if there be one or would still be a puny human will that would triumph over God's stated desire to save all. Otherwise, God could not be all in all. If there is a pocket, a sliver of space or dimension or realm or time zone or frame of being that God cannot reconcile, then perhaps.....he cannot reconcile me.....or someone reading this blog....or my children....or my stubborn, bitter little mother who has many, many bones to pick with God for his way of doing things. He either succeeds or he doesn't. He is who he says he is and does what he says he will do.....or he is a failure.....

This made me think of the verses in 1 Corinthians 15
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

He either defeats his enemies (be they one or one hundred million) or he doesn't. He is all in all or he isn't. If I do not believe he is who he says he is and that he is able to do what he said he was going to do.......then I am "of all men most miserable" because I have put my faith in a victor who will not be victorious, a father who will give up one of his children. There will be no collateral damage. There will be no one beyond the scope of his redemptive power. We are made from him.....with his very substance dwelling within matter how depraved one may appear on the outside. I have to chime in with Lincoln and say...."if God is just, he will save all or none......

We are all sinners saved by grace......and not of our own doing or choosing and in this certainty, I rest assured that I am safe in the hands of the savior of the world.

Monday, July 23, 2007

To Those Who Did Not Call On My Name

I read the following story several years ago on the TM Message Board. I'm not even sure who the poster was....but it was the springboard that somehow led me to two verses (ala google) in which God declares that he reveals himself to those who do not call upon "his" name, was found by those who did not seek him and reavealed himself to those who did not ask him.

There's a story at the very end of the Mahabarat (that Hindu epic)about a man called Yudhisthira, and a pilgrimage he, his brothers and his wife make up a holy mountain in the Himalayas. Yudhisthira, according to Hinduism was the only human being who lived without sin.

"While climbing the peaks, one by one Yuddhisthira’s brothers and his wife fell to their deaths, dragged down by the weight of the guilt of their few, but real sins. But Yudhisthira reached the mountain peak, because he was unblemished by sin or untruth.On the mountain peak, Indra, King of Gods, arrived to take Yudhisthira to heaven in his Golden Chariot. As Yudhisthira was about to step into the Chariot, the Indra told him to leave behind his companion dog, an unholy creature not worthy of heaven. Yudhisthira stepped back, refusing to leave behind the creature who he had taken under his protection. At that moment the dog changed into the God Dharma who was testing him...and Yudhisthira had passed with distinction.Yudhisthira was carried away on Indra's chariot. On reaching Heaven he did not find either his virtuous brothers or his wife Draupadi. The Gods told him that his brothers were in hell atoning their sins. Yudhisthira loyally went to hell to meet his brothers, but the sights and sounds of gore and blood horrified him. Tempted to flee, he mastered himself and remained on hearing the voices of his friends, his brothers and his wife, Draupadi...calling out to him, asking him to stay with them in their misery. Yudhisthira decided to remain, ordering the Divine charioteer to return.. preferring to live in hell with his friends and family than in heaven. At that moment the scene changed. This was yet another illusion to test him. Indra and Krishna appeared before him and told him that his family was already in Heaven, along with his enemies, for earthly virtues and vices don't hold true in heavenly realms. Krishna yet again hailed Yudhisthira for his dharma, and bowed to him, in the final defining moment of the epic where divinity bowed down to humanity"_________

In another version, Yudhisthira actually saves his friends and family by his willingness to sacrifice himself.

Isaiah 65:1 - "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, 'Here am I, here am I.'

Romans 10:20 And Isaiah boldly says,” I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.”

This just confirms to me that God has hidden his truths in all kinds of religions.....and that many know Christ....but just by a different name....and where it says in scripture he is the only name by which men must be saved it is more along the lines of name meaning nature. The two verses I found via google seems to sum this up.

I Love Max Lucado

Girard, with all of his sophistication and insights into anthropology and human behavior....and with all the reading I've done on sacrifice and atonement.....pondering it, discussing it, dissecting it.....and all the blogs I have listed in my bloglines account that deal with complicated and deep theological issues, I've yet to come across anything or anyone who can so clearly give a glimpse of the love in the heart of our Father for us, his children, as Max Lucado. Granted, he does not see UR....and I am certain that he sees the atonement from a penal substitutionary standpoint....but time and time again his writings have touched me deeply at the place where I am, answering questions, giving inspiration and hope. I am a huge fan of Max Lucado.

One of the first Christian books I ever read was a book I found on the library shelf not too long after becoming a Christian. It was "He Still Moves Stones" by Max Lucado.

Max Lucado, in one of his books concerning evil and suffering, writes that he sees the whole concept as a of those old fashioned kinds of scales with the weights on one side and the stuff you weigh on the other? I think they call them a pan scale? Well, on the one side are all the hurts and heartaches and trials and problems we experience and suffer through. Plunk goes the scale....and he does not remove any of the things that we have suffered....yet.....after this life is over.....this life the Bible compares to a wisp of vapor......he so loads down the other side of the scale with incomprehensible glory that it totally and completely outweighs the bad things.

In one of his books (can't remember which one) he recounts the story told by a college professor about one of his students, a blind boy with an invincible, can do attitude. They became friends and the professor told the student how impressed he was with his attitude in spite of his disability. "It wasn't always that way" the student said...and he proceeded to tell the story of how he lost his sight (I forgot the details but it was an accident) and how for months he moped around in his bedroom, bitter and angry, convinced his life was over. He demanded that his family wait on him hand and foot. Nothing could rouse him from the depression and misery he was wallowing in.

Finally one day his dad had all he could take. He knew that if his son did not snap out of his all consuming self pity his life was pretty much over. So as he left for work he told his son that when he came home that night he expected to find all the storm windows on the house....a job his son had done many times. The son was outraged!! How could a blind man put storm windows on....he thought to himself that he would show them and when they came home that evening, they would find him with a broken neck or other serious injury....having fallen from the ladder. But he set about the task....slowly, painstakingly going through the motions he remembered from having done the very same job many times. When the dad came home from work that night the storm windows were all installed. During the process, the son had the life changing revelation that his life was not over and that he could do anything he chose to do in spite of his blindness. It was a turning point. It was not until several years later that the son found out his dad hadn't gone to work that day. The whole day his dad has stood by silently, watching, in case his son got into a predicament that he could not get out of. Suffering with his son, wanting nothing more than to step in and help....but he knew that ultimately the greatest "help" would be in letting his son do it himself. He had never been more than a few feet away, even though the son was not aware of his presence. And so it is with God....

Another concept I always had a problem with was God's acknowledged pursuit of broadcasting his glory to the point of obsession (and conceit). Again, in a Max Lucado book, I found a reasonable explanation. Again, a word picture.

Dark, foggy night, at sea, explosion at sea, some survivors floating in the frigid waters....some with life jackets, some hanging onto debris. Through the night, in a lifeboat, comes the captain of the ship. He is shouting out loudly....calling out for survivors. He needs to shout so all will hear him and he can pull them from the water into the safety of the lifeboat. God needs to shout too. That is why his glory is so important to him....not for his sake....but for ours. So we see, so we know that he is a "strong captain that can pull us from the waters." It works for me. Prior to the reading of that story I could not help but think he was a bit on the conceited side. But alas...this word picture put things into perspective. Thanks Max.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I Can Only Imagine

Ashley and my daughter Emily have been best friends since we moved here in December of 1999. Ashley has had a tumultuous life which has included poverty, divorce, being shuffled around from one relative's home to another, apathy bordering on neglect from both of her parents and, in the case of her dad, drug abuse and addictions. The story is too long to go into in detail. Let it suffice to say that she is a good girl in spite of unbelievable opportunities to be otherwise.She has spent a lot of time with me, in my home, in the home of Emily's dad...and she is almost a part of the family. She is involved in the youth group at church and the leaders have taken her under their wing. She has coped remarkably well.

Her dad finally seemed to be getting his act together, after years of one step forward, two steps back which included bouts of addiction, job loss, living at the Rescue Mission and serious health issues with heart disease (from the drugs perhaps?) He attended church regularly with Ashley. He had a new job and a new place to live....and it seemed he might be on the road to a new life. However that new life ended abruptly when he died last Sunday sitting in a lazy boy chair watching TV....remote in his hand. They found him with his eyes wide open...still watching TV.

Ashley was in Montana, visiting her brother for the summer. She flew there by herself on the 4th of July with a layover somewhere in California. She and her brother came home for the funeral. The girls and I went to the viewing on Thursday night. Ashley was very upset and crying. It was hard to see. His mother was there, standing by the casket, greeting those who came to pay their respects. I knew her from the brief period of time Ashley lived with her. She grabbed my hand and hugged me. "He was all alone when he died." she cried. "No he wasn't. He wasn't alone." I assured her. The scripture that declares not even a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father comes to mind as I type this. She told me she knew God was with him and that he was with God....everyone says he's with God"...but, she continued tearfully, "I don't want him to be with God. I want him to be with me." She said it several times. She thanked me for coming. She hugged my daughter Emily and told me what a good girl she is. I told the girls later in the car that even though he was a full grown man in his fifties and his mom is in her seventies, he was still her "baby". I know that feeling well.

I feel it when I look at my 6'3" 250 pound son...17...with a car and a job and a very active life that rarely includes time at home with me....yet I still feel the tug of those little hands pulling on my pant leg. I remember when I watched with awe as he my shoulder....head to head...and now he towers over me. I remember when his voice changed. It was a shock every time I talked to him. "Who are you and what did you do with Matthew!!??" But he was still my baby...and will always be my baby. Just like my two beautiful girls who are changing more and more into young women every day (what's with the boobs?) but they will live forever in my memories with chubby cheeks and chubby legs and piles and piles of Barbie dolls and Polly Pockets. So although Ashley's grandmother is mourning the death of her fifty year old son, she is also mourning the death of the little boy who tugged on her pant leg. As Ashley said at the funeral home, "He's not supposed to die before his parents."

I didn't really know him very well and truthfully his lack of care for Ashley clouded my opinion of him. I talked to him occasionally at church. He thanked me more than once for what I've done for Ashley. I was glad to hear he was getting on his feet...again. They told me he wrote a letter shortly before he died thanking everyone who stayed in his life, who hung in there with him....apologizing for the pain he had caused . He knew his heart condition was very serious (a walking time bomb was the diagnosis) and perhaps he knew his death would be sooner rather than later. Isn't that repentance? A thought hit me last night as I listened to to a popular Christian song, MercyMe's "I Can Only Imagine."

"I can only imagine what it will be like, when I walk by Your side...
I can only imagine, what my eyes will see, when Your Face is before me!
I can only imagine. I can only imagine.
Surrounded by Your Glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you, Jesus? Or in awe of You, be still?
Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing 'Hallelujah!'? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine! I can only imagine!

And I don't think he has to "imagine" anymore. He knows. Without the confines of the flesh, without the weaknesses that enslaved him to drugs he will be free, surrounded by God's glory. Another prodigal son has come home.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

5 Teenage Girls Die in Fiery Crash

As the mom of a 17 year old who has had his license for about a year....and a 15 year old who will soon be 16 and pestering to drive, and a soon to be 14 year old, the fatal crash that took the lives of five recent graduates from a high school in Rochester, New York strikes terror to my heart. The girls were headed to a cabin in the Finger Lakes for a sleep over. There are reports now that several text messages were sent from the drivers phone seconds before the crash, leading authorities to believe it may have played a part in the accident. Five lives snuffed out in seconds. Their families and friends will grieve their loss forever. The truck driver they collided with will never be able to erase the memory of the day he saw five pretty perky cheerleaders burn to death in an SUV in a ditch beneath his truck. May God encompass all with the peace that only he can provide. Teenagers often think they are immortal...invincible...which this crash so clearly disproves. Even though my 17 year old will roll his eyes when I remind him, I'm going to do it anyway. Pay attention to the road as if your life depends on it....because it just may.


I came across two unrelated stories in the past few weeks that I think are vivid examples of Girard's theory of scapegoating.

An article from the Washington Post tells the story of David Ritcheson, a 17 year old Hispanic boy who ended up at a party with several other teens. At the party, they drank vodka, smoked marijuana and used cocaine and Xanax. A twelve year old girl who lived at the home where the party took place, complained that Ritcheson had attempted to kiss her. This threw David Tuck, one of the teens at the party, into a fit of rage. He was known as a white supremacist, a skinhead, and he had three racially motivated assaults on his record, at least one against a Latino. He hit Ritcheson so hard he broke his jaw and knocked him unconscious. That may have been a blessing. For at least the next hour Tuck and Keith Turner, another teenager at the party tortured Ritcheson. They burned him with cigarettes. They tried to carve a swastika on his chest, kicked him with steel toed boots, and tried to strangle him with a garden hose. The most unbelievable thing they did....which landed Tuck in prison with a life sentence and Turner with a 90 year sentence....they sodomized him with a plastic umbrella pole, kicking it into his rectum, perforating his bladder and doing all kinds of internal damage. During the attack, Tuck shouted, "White Power." Ritcheson endured 30 surgeries and spent over 3 months in the hospital.
He seemed to be dealing well with the attack, even though he declined any kind of counseling. He seemed to be getting on with his life. He returned to high school. He was recovering physically. He was involved in and testified on behalf of "Hate Crimes" legislation. Unfortunately, the story does not have a happy ending. Last Sunday, David Ritcheson jumped to his death from the upper deck of Carnival Cruise Lines' Ecstasy. He was weary of people looking at him, knowing who he was and what he had endured.
Genarlow Wilson ended up at a different kind of party. It was a New Year's Eve party in a rented hotel room in Georgia....again the party goers were teenagers. This party turned into something akin to an orgy. There were at least two girls passing out sexual favors to the boys that were there. One was a 17 year old girl who had intercourse with several of the boys, including Genarlow Wilson. The other girl was 15 and had oral sex with several of the boys, again including Genarlow. He was basically a good kid. He was on the honor roll. He was elected Homecoming King. He played football and ran track. I think he had several athletic scholarships lined up. I always tell my kids to "make good choices." Genarlow Wilson made a bad choice....and it has cost him dearly.
He is now 21 and has spent two years in prison. The 17 year old girl accused Genarlow and the other boys of rape. The jury found him innocent of that charge, however, he was convicted of aggravated child molestation for having sex with the 15 year old. At the time of his conviction, it was considered a felony. He was over the legal age of consent, the girl was not. It didn't matter that there was an age difference of only two years between them. The "crime" that Genarlow was convicted of is no longer a felony. Consensual sex between two teenagers is a misdemeanor. Unfortunately, the law is not retroactive. Many well known civil rights activists have been involved in his case. Even Jimmy Carter spoke out on behalf of Genarlow stating that it was hard to ignore the racial element involved.
In June, a judge ruled that his sentence amounted to cruel and unusual punishment and that his conduct should have been punished as a misdemeanor. Georgia's top prosecutor vowed he would fight the judge's order that would have set Genarlow Wilson free. He filed an appeal....and Genarlow remains behind bars during that process. If you would like to read more about this case, check out the Wikipedia article which details the case and has links to many other news articles about this case.
According to Girard, a scapegoat is often completely innocent of everything except being a member of a marginalized sector of society. This includes women, minorities, the handicapped....people that are a bit different or those who have no one to speak out on their behalf....the homeless....the mentally ill. Sometimes, though, they are not completely innocent, yet they are not nearly as guilty as their victimizers believe them to be. Neither of the boys mentioned in this post are completely innocent. Ritcheson had gotten into some trouble and was at a school for students with disciplinary problems. That's where he befriended Gus Sons, the teenager who knew Turner and Tuck. He did not abstain from the drugs and alcohol at the party. He allegedly tried to kiss a 12 year old girl.
Wilson was also at a party where there were drugs and alcohol. He had unprotected sex with two girls, one who happened to be under age. Someone was stupid enough to film the whole thing which gave prosecutors something very concrete to go on. Neither of these "victims" were totally innocent, yet neither of them deserved the hand they were dealt. I think they were both singled out because of their by racists who operated outside the law, the other by racists who used the law to "sacrifice" their victim. Hard to decide which of the two is the most disgraceful.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


The title of last night's episode of 20/20 was HELL: OUR FEAR AND FASCINATION. I don't think it was a coincidence that it aired on Friday the 13'th. It was quite the eclectic show, including a brief interview with Marilyn Manson who said when asked if he thought he was going to hell, "I'm going to say it would probably be a more comfortable place for me because everyone I know would be there and I wouldn't really be allowed to do anything in heaven that would be any fun." This will probably show both my age and my naivete but what's up with his eyes anyway? He must surely wear some kind of special contacts. Nobody has eyes that weird.

There was a very brief interview with Miriam Van Scott, author of The Encyclopedia of Hell who thinks we are moving away from a belief in hell since there have been so many horrific humanitarian disasters that it is hard to imagine there could be anything worse.

Matthew Dove told of his near death experiences...BOTH of them. Once when he almost drowned as a child and again, decades later, when he was tired of addictions and living and wished to return to the euphoric place (heaven) he visited briefly as a child. He ended up in what he deems "hell" although, interestingly, there was no fire or torture. Perhaps a more empathetic experience than anything else, in that he distinctly felt the pain and suffering his suicide caused both in the "present" and in the future when he saw his daughter on the floor, contemplating suicide because of the pain his own suicide caused her. He woke up the next morning in his own bed with no memory of how he'd gotten there, and after that experience he radically changed his life .

There was also a segment called the Face of Evil. It dealt with many of the names and faces associated with evil (Dahmer, Charles Manson, Bundy, etc.) and a new face, the face of Ulysses Handy III. A former boy scout and altar boy who is the ultimate Bad Seed . Anyone remember that movie? He expressed no remorse whatsoever for the crime of killing three people because one of them implicated him in the theft of an expensive jacket. His sobbing mother begged the families of the victims for forgiveness but Ulysses taunted them in court telling them to "get over it."

There were also interviews with 3 people who endured hell on earth:

Sister Diane Ortiz says she was brutally raped and tortured in Guatemala 20 years ago after being mistakenly suspected of supporting rebel fighters. Ishmael Beah, a child soldier in Sierra Leone, was forced to murder his own countrymen during a brutal civil war and Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor.

There was also an interview with Carlton Pearson. Most people know that Carlton was the extremely popular charismatic preacher, endorsed by Oral Roberts, who came upon the truth of UR in the scriptures. He told his congregation of thousands his new belief thinking that they would welcome his revelations. People fled in droves and left him with a congregation of several hundred. He continues to preach his message of inclusion at a rented church. His congregation is small, but growing. I have so much respect for a man who can walk away from all that fame (although he readily admits that if he had known what was coming he might have had second thoughts of sharing this message) I find my beliefs line up with his quite a bit. Even where he differs from my more conservative universalist brothers, I find his beliefs more closely coincide with mine. But I am a liberal....ever erring on the side of the path less traveled. No wonder I like Carlton so much.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What Would Love Do Now?

Keith and I watched the movie Conversations With God this weekend. I rarely watch movies but this one piqued my interest because of the similarity between the experiences of Neale Walsch and my worst case scenario imaginings. The gist of the movie (based on a true story) is this:
Man involved in an accident and suffers a debilitating injury, man loses job, man loses home. Man is penniless, living in a homeless campsite until he manages to get a few breaks and begins to get back on his feet - albeit a long, slow process during which he is reduced to eating food out of dumpsters and making enough money from collecting cans to pay the “rent” ($25 a week) at the homeless campsite. Even then he is still plagued with bad luck. Finally one night, he drifted off to sleep on the couch after scrawling questions on a yellow legal pad…. questions similar to the ones Job asked. He is awakened by a voice asking him if he really wants to know the answers to his questions or “are you just venting?” It is God.

At least he attributes the message to God. Some of the opinions (warnings) at fundie sites on the web declare that the messages he received are not from God….but rather from a demon – perhaps THE demon. In the first book (of many) the author states that he is simply “taking dictation” from God. I haven’t read any of his books, although I may. There were concepts presented in the movie and what I’ve read since then on the internet that ring true with my spirit. They follow below. I may write more about this interesting guy in future posts, but for now, I have to get ready for work.

Guiding all of our interactions and foremost in our mind should be the question
What would love do?

God is speaking to everyone all the time. The question is not to whom does God talk, but who listens. This is clarified by the statement that God can communicate with you in the next song you hear, the next breeze that caresses your ear, the next conversation you overhear. "All these devices are mine. All these avenues are open to me. I will speak to you if you invite me."

And when asked to sum up in one paragraph what God wants to say to us Neale declares he can do it in five words…..”You’ve got me all wrong”

Indeed we do……

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Ripples From a Drop in the Bucket.....

On a new Christian Universalist board called The Beautiful Heresy where I am a member, the subject of worry came up. Actually, I brought it up since I have been having major “worry issues” of late. (fixated might be a better description) The POE (problem of evil) was touched on briefly in the thread and how it affects worry. Big issues for me. I am thinking now of a bunch of things. First of all, in my own small little world, there is the problem of Keith’s job and my total preoccupation with it….and my lack of belief that God will actually do anything about it. In spite of the fact that I love to sing lyrics that declare “Savior you can move the mountains….. my God is mighty to save.” I know that he can…but I have serious doubts that he will.

Fueling my doubts is the fact that there is so much evil in the world and he allows it to go on. Heck, if you are in the total determinist camp, the belief is that he ORDAINS the evil. There was a recent headline on my AOL main page which barely scratches the surface of the most horrendous thing that could happen in this life but it is chilling none the less….and the thought that God would allow this casts an even dimmer light of hope on my insignificant concerns. It was the story of a 7 year old girl who was disemboweled by the drain at a wading pool. This happens more frequently than you might imagine. I heard similar incidents when my kids were little enough to be going to wading pools and I kept a close eye on them. Google it if you think this sounds farfetched. It literally sucked most of her small intestines right out of her body. What remained had to be removed. She will never be able to eat normally again and will have to be fed through a port for the rest of her life. So why would he rectify my situation and save me from something that is totally trivial in light of this awful tragedy? Difficult question to ponder about a God who can move mountains.

Carol, also a member of the Beautiful Heresy board, posted the following in regard to alleviating some of the evil and suffering and pain in the world:

I have come to recognize my place. (Sometimes I remember, and sometimes I forget and have to re-remind myself.) My place is my small little circle of influence where god has had my paths converge with those in my life. ie: My place is to pick up that one piece of trash I see on the road, to lend a hand where I can, to give an encouraging word if I feel led to do so, to listen to my son and my daughter...etc. I can't change the world, but I can have a positive effect in my little circle. I strongly believe in the ripple effect and enough little ripples around the globes effects peoples' lives.

What an encouraging perspective in a world where suffering and evil abound!!!! It is all too easy to shrug our shoulders in resignation when we consider that even the most dedicated activist can barely causes a ripple……ahhhh…..but there you have it….enough ripples can change the world. Imagine a rock breaking the surface of the water, barely a stirring where it actually hits, but look at the ripples that emanate exponentially from that tiny plop.
Perhaps we should expand our focus from the initial effect an act of kindness or assistance causes…seemingly a mere drop in the bucket….and consider the potential of the ripples to change the world.

So today, perhaps I will look for opportunities to bless my small circle of influence with a kind word, a thoughtful act, bestowing a bit of mercy on someone who may be undeserving, some empathy and understanding toward someone sorely in need of it. I may not be able to alleviate world hunger, wipe out suffering and pestilence, or even change much about my own lot in life but I can perhaps initiate a ripple.

Thanks Carol for an inspiring bit of wisdom and encouragement.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Still Fretting....

.....but trying NOT to. I've been reading through the New Testament in the Message Bible. I love that translation. I know it is a total paraphrase and has received some criticism for being what it is……but I really think Eugene Peterson captures the essence behind the meaning of the words and puts them in a language that resounds with us who live in this time period. I came upon the following verses in Philippians…. well known in the more traditional translations but worded just a bit differently in The Message.

Philippians 4:6 Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. 7 Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. 8 Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious--the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. 9 Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

So there you have it. Don’t worry or fret but rather pray. I’ve heard it said that prayer was not given to us to change God’s mind but rather to change our mind and will and bring it into alignment with his will. That, in turn, will enable us to say “thy will be done” and “even though he slay me, yet will I trust him.” Again….I am so not there yet. I am not even willing to pray for him to make me willing. I guess he has a long way to go with me.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

That's Where I Am This Morning.....

On my couch perch….where my laptop and I spend hours. The dawn of a new day….up at shortly before 6:00. It’s the Fourth of July…..and it is cloudy and overcast, with showers predicted. Isn’t that great…showers for the first time in weeks, spoiling picnics and fireworks, and amusement park plans? Keith has not had to cut the grass in weeks. So much for the spiffy new $400 lawnmower sitting in the shed. So much for the division of chores—inside and outside. (I’m the innie, he’s the outie)

I have not clued anyone in here at this blog about the events that are transpiring right now in my life. I’ve mentioned the kids…..but there is a whole other aspect of my existence in jeopardy. Long story short…..Keith was charged with leaving the scene of an accident which, if convicted, will mean the suspension of his CDL for a year…..which will mean he loses his job. The accident was a fallen tree limb…on a street with all low lying branches which scraped and scratched at the truck as he searched for the place he was supposed to make a delivery. He did not know a branch fell. Keep in mind the size of a truck (53 foot trailer plus tractor) and that there are all kinds of blind spots (you know the “if you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you” warnings on trucks?) The windows were up, the air-conditioning was on and there are always the sounds of yelling since it is summer and there are kids everywhere. So he truly did not realize he had knocked down a branch (which apparently took down a wire and hit a car). But as luck would have it, there were witnesses who promptly called the police. The police station just happened to be located on the very street he was on. They flagged him down as he “fled the scene” past the police station at 25 mph.

A total of five policemen were all over the truck…all over him….some “good cop/bad cop” stuff going on. This altercation lasted an hour and a half. I think in his fear he came across as cocky which probably pissed them off. So finally all but one of them got called away for a burglary. The remaining cop told him the paperwork would be coming in the mail. Well, it came alright. Leaving the scene of an accident…..400 bucks and 4 points on his license. That was bad enough but when it came to light a day or so after we got the ticket that if convicted it is an automatic suspension of his CDL for a year, I was floored. I am truly the Queen of the Worst Case Scenario…..and I cannot even remember all the negative outcomes I have imagined in my mind. We have to fight the ticket, which requires a lawyer, which requires a hefty sum of money with no guarantee of the charges being dropped or reduced enough to salvage his CDL. Job prospects are dim indeed in the area where I live. There are hundreds of other displaced workers (from plant closings, bad economy etc) What gave him an edge was his CDL and Hazmat…..and twenty-five years of experience driving a truck. There are men in our area who work for eight bucks an hour because there is nothing else. I just agreed to start working a reduced schedule at the hospital beginning in August which will cut into the income even further.

And that is where I am today.

So if anyone actually reads this blog…and you feel led to remember me in your prayers or thoughts….I would truly appreciate it. This is testing my theology, my faith, my perspective on life etc. I realize it is small potatoes in a world of big potatoes like hunger and famine and pestilence…..but it is still shaking my world.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Of late, there have been some situations in my life that have taken a distressing turn. I am the Queen of the Worst Case I have been fretting. Perhaps in another post, I will bore you with the details of my dilemma but for now, I want to post an email I wrote to an online friend who is a bit of a worrier himself and was going through some worries with his job situation. I love some of the quotes....and they probably ring true with so many of us because we are all worriers. That is probably why Jesus addressed it as many times as he did. Anyway...following is the email. If anyone is fretting about something today, I hope there is a tidbit of wisdom (none of which I am the actual author of) to lighten the load a bit. Perhaps bring a smile to a worry worn face......

Since I am a worrier, too....I thought the following two quotes were funny....and sort of what I seem to believe even though I know better:

While most of the things you've worried about have never happened, it's a different story with the things you haven't worried about. They are the ones that happen.--Ruth Rendell (Talking to Strange Men)

Don't tell me that worry doesn't do any good. I know better. The things I worry about don't happen.

But on a more serious note, He knows what will happen to you tomorrow..because he is already there and nothing takes him by surprise:

God is down in front. He is in the tomorrows. It is tomorrow that fills men with dread. God is there already. All the tomorrows of our life have to pass Him before they can get to us. Frederick Brotherton ( F. B. ) Meyer

It is in the deepest darkness of the starless midnight that men learn how to hold on to the hidden Hand most tightly and how that Hand holds them; that He sees where we do not, and knows the way He takes; and though the way be to us a roundabout way, it is the right way. Arthur Tappan (A . T ) Pierson

........and most of the things we worry about never happen anyway:

I've lived a long life and seen a lot of hard times.....
Most of which never happened--Mark Twain
Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow. ~Swedish Proverb

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy. ~Leo Buscaglia

If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you'll never enjoy the sunshine. Morris West writer

My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened. Michel de Montaigne

He who fears he shall suffer, already suffers what he fears. Inspirational sayings by Montaigne, Essays, 1588

What torments of grief you endured, from evils that never arrived. Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you. Calvin Coolidge

And the bad things, the trials, the challenges that happen to us seem to be allowed for a purpose...for our "good" anyway:

You cannot create experience. You must undergo it. Albert Camus "

One sees great things from the valley, only small things from the peak. Gilbert Keith G. K. Chesterton

You will know more of Jesus in one sanctified trial, than in wading through a library of volumes, or listening to a lifetime of sermons. Octavius Winslow

Who then can so softly bind up the wound of another as he who has felt the same wound himself." -- Thomas Jefferson

So we need to just chill out a bit:

I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn't need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about? Henry Ford

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:6, 7]

And remember that God is still on his throne (as he mentioned to annie)and he is still in control and we have to try to trust him, even when he appears to be the cause....

We turn to God for help when our foundations are shaking only to learn that it is God shaking them. --Charles West

Whether we like it or not

C.S. Lewis wrote, We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.

And we should hope for the best:

The well of Providence is deep. It's the buckets we bring to it that are small. Mary Webb writer

But not be too hasty to act.....

Half the worry in the world is caused by people trying to make decisions before they have sufficient knowledge on which to base a decision.--Dean Hawkes

And appreciate the things that help us cope

We experience moments absolutely free from worry. These brief respites are called panic. --Cullen Hightower

Because afterall if we put things in perspective

From heaven even the most miserable life will look like one bad night at an inconvenient hotel. Anonymous