Finally Friday

I’ve had quite a week.

I don’t usually write a lot about my not-quite-orthodox views, but a few weeks ago, a friend asked me to.

So after prayer and pondering, I did.

If you’re so inclined, you can read what I wrote (and the responses) at my friend Mike’s blog

You may or may not agree with me, and that’s OK.  I believe that God’s grace is big enough to cover me if I’m wrong and you if you’re wrong.

I can’t lie.  The first three comments were hurtful.  If you know me at all, you can probably guess why.  I pondered over whether to respond.  I asked friends to pray.  Several friends (thank you!) responded which left some of what I wanted to say unnecessary.  My sweet sister emailed just to make sure I was ok, and you know what?

I was.

Although I was stunned by the tone of what was written, I was not undone by it.  Early into reading it, I realized, “She doesn’t know me.  She isn’t even talking about me.  She’s talking about someone who doesn’t even exist.”  So I was able to read it and not be  too terribly hurt by the tone or the words.

I did pen a quick response there, but I want to share my full response here.  Not because I feel the need to vindicate myself or to set anyone straight, but to share my heart and hopefully provide some frame of reference for who I am and what is important to me.   So here goes.

Jenn, I can tell that you care deeply about this topic too, but can also tell that you and I have very different perspectives.  I’d like to tell you a bit more about myself, because you seem to be making some rather large assumptions about me.

1.  My faith in and relationship with the Lord is the cornerstone for all that I do.  Each day begins and ends with prayer and I seek his guidance throughout my days.  I take Bible study seriously and church has been a continual part of my life and of my parenting.  I want nothing more than to see people with God’s eyes and to treat them the way God would treat them.

2.  I take the scriptural mandate for older women to teach younger women very seriously.  We are all older than someone and I’ve been a teacher at church since I was in seventh grade. Currently, I teach and plan curriculum for our women’s class at church.  I work in the nursery.  I help plan retreats.  I also volunteer many hours a week with college women and am blessed to be a part of their lives as they navigate through the beginnings of having their own faith.   I also try to be the very best mom that I can be to my own daughters.

3. Although I work full time now, it has never been my first choice.  I spent years as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and still miss that life.  Financially, we could no longer make that choice.  While I was praying through the very difficult choice of what I believed to be “abandoning God’s plan for women,” I was reminded by a wise soul that I was my husband’s wife before I was my children’s mom and if helping provide income was necessary, then I needed to do that.  I do not work out of selfish ambition or a desire for riches.  I do not own a boat.  We only bought our first house six years ago and we have been married for 25 years.  My children wear second-hand clothes.  We drive out-of-date, barely functional vehicles.  I work primarily so they can afford to go to college without having the student loans that have burdened us throughout our adult life.

4. I do not claim to be a Biblical scholar, although I do read and study my Bible regularly and seriously.  Because I don’t know the original Biblical languages, I must depend on translations and realize that I could be misinterpreting.  Scot McKnight’s book “Blue Parakeet” does a wonderful job addressing how we read the Bible and which parts are cultural and which parts are not.  There are many commands in the New Testament, including one that says that slaves should not seek to be free.  Does that still apply?  If women are to be silent, why are we allowed to sing? Just before the scripture telling women not to teach men, there’s a verse telling women not to wear gold or pearls.  Does that still apply?  Why are some of these assumed to be cultural and others to be truth-for-all-time?  Our answers to these are wrapped in our cultural worldviews. 

5.  I could be wrong.  I realize I could be wrong.  It’s OK that I could be wrong.  I’m not trying to convince anyone to agree with me – I’m just sharing my heart and what I would love to see happen.  Unity is more important to me than anything.  I’m a middle child; a peace-maker.  I want a safe place to ask questions and I want open dialogue, but I will demand nothing because I believe that unity and cooperation are more important than any one person (or group of people) having their way or having their say.

6. If I am wrong, I believe that God’s grace will cover that.  If you disagree with me and that winds up being wrong, then I believe that God’s grace will cover that.  When I interact with other people, I will choose grace over law any day of the week.  God chose grace over law when he sent Jesus and it was a big gamble.  I fail every day and God chooses grace over law when he views my life, so I want to extend the same grace to others.

7.    Life is short.  My real-life friends know how close we’ve come to burying two of our children due to illness (Caleb’s Type 1 Diabetes) and injury (Emily’s wreck).  No day is guaranteed, and I do not choose to spend the limited time that I have trying to find the flaws in other people’s lives.  I choose to love people, live by my beliefs, and teach those beliefs through living what I say I believe.

8.  There is a reason I named my blog “God is good.”  He is.  God is good, and I want to reflect that in my words, thoughts, and actions.  I want to bring the same calm, non-judgmental, accepting, and encouraging presence into the lives of others that God has brought to mine.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Those are my goals.  That is my to-do list.  And for that, I will not repent.

 So there’s my response.  This week has used up my allotted courage for the decade, so I hope that the Mayans were right and we only have a few weeks left on this crazy planet.  If not, then I will still say, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus,” and I will remind myself once more that, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
Yes.  God is good.

Wisdom Wednesday

I haven’t verified the source of this, but the words are worth sharing, so I’m posting them here. 

Written by a 90 year old

This is something we should all read at least once a week. Make sure you read to the end!

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .

“To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 42 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I’ve ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it..

4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will. 

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.

9. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

10. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

11. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

12. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

13. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it…

14 Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

15. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

16. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

17. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

18. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

19. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

20. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

21. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

22. The most important sex organ is the brain.

23. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

24. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’

25. Always choose life.

26. Forgive but don’t forget. 

27. What other people think of you is none of your business. 

28. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

30. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does..

31. Believe in miracles.

32. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

33. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.

34. Your children get only one childhood.

35. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

36. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

37. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

38. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need.

39. The best is yet to come…

40. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

41. Yield.

42. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”

In the effort to write more . . . Motivation Monday!

At Harding, we’re nearing the end of the semester.  Two weeks of class, followed by a week of tests.  Even though we just had a week off for Thanksgiving, most people would love to fast forward to the end of the semester because of the number of projects and test and assignments that still hang overhead. 
But you know what?  We can do it.  
Whatever it is, we can do it.  One step at a time, one moment at a time, we can do it.  
School may not be your thing.  Maybe it’s a cranky toddler or a baby who won’t sleep.  A book you can’t quite finish.  Ten more pounds.  Five more pounds.  Walking up stairs instead of taking the elevator.  We all  have something that seems undoable.
Relationships often seem undoable.  They are doable.  Faith often seems undoable.  It is doable.
One step at a time, one moment at a time, we can do it.

I’m just trying to write more . . .

. . . so bear with me while I do a few posts just to get into the habit of posting.

1. What time did you get up this morning?
5:00 am

2. How do you like your steak?
Medium Well

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Skyfall, the  new James Bond movie.  What is the next film I will see at the cinema?  Probably Skyfall.  Again.

4. What is your favorite TV show?
Of all time?   LOST.  Now?  Once Upon a Time.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
I don’t know.  I’ve never really thought about it.  Searcy is home.  Always has been, always will be.  I love going and visiting other places, but don’t know that I have a burning desire to live somewhere else.

6. What did you have for breakfast?
Coffee with hazelnut creamer, half a blueberry bagel with real butter.

7. What is your favorite food?

8. Foods you dislike?
There aren’t many, although I don’t really like handling meat when I cook it. I don’t like organ meat.  I don’t like sauerkraut.  I don’t really like fast food, although I do occasionally have a craving for a greasy double cheeseburger. 

9. Favorite place to eat?
Any place with family and friends.

10. Favorite dressing?
Fat free Italian

11. What kind of vehicle do you drive?
I own a Suburban, but it’s been in the shop for almost a month, so I’m currently driving my daughter’s Camry.

12. What are your favorite clothes?
Jeans and sweatshirts.

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance?
Anywhere that drips with church history — cathedrals, monasteries, abbeys, the Middle East.

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?
1/2 full

15. Where would you want to retire?
Close enough to a beach I could enjoy the sand and sun, but close enough to the mountains that I could go hike when I wanted to.

16. Favorite time of day?
The 30 minutes between when I get up and when I get everyone else up.

17. Where were you born?
LaGrange, Georgia

18. What is your favorite sport to watch?
The Olympics.  I love their determination and commitment.

19. What is your favorite fragrance?
The top of a newborn’s head.

20. What is your favorite face cream?
I really, really, really love the new Mary Kay Timewise Repair system.  Seriously.  I don’t go around talking about skin care at all, but this stuff — it’s like magic.  I love it.

21. Favorite baby/kids products?
Good children’s books that have been made into board books.  It’s never too early to get a book into a child’s hands.

22. People watcher?
Definitely.  People are fascinating.

23. Are you a morning or night person? 
Night person by nature.  Morning person by necessity.

24. Do you have any pets?
Thankfully, no.  I am *not* a  pet person.

25. Any new and exciting news you’d like to share?
Emily gave me unsolicited outfit approval today.  That’s a rare thing.

26. What did you want to be when you were little?
A mom.

27. What is your favorite memory?
So many to choose from!  Italy with my sister.  A weekend in a Lake House with my lifelong friends.  Laughing non-stop with my daughters during our photo shoot.  Giving birth to my children . . . so many good memories, it’s hard to choose one.

28. Are you a cat or dog person?
If I have to choose one, a dog person.  I love dogs, but do not have time to be a pet owner.

29. Are you married?
Yes.  25 years and counting.

30. Always wear your seat belt?

31. Been in a car accident?
No, but there was one that affected my entire life.

32. Any pet peeves?
Bad grammar, poor spelling.

33. Favorite pizza toppings?
Sundried tomatoes and black olives.

34. Favorite flower?
Purple iris.

35. Favorite ice cream?
Butter Pecan.  Yum . . .

36. Favorite fast food restaurant?
I don’t like fast food, so a sandwich shop if I have to do it.

37. How many times did you fail your driver’s test?

38. From whom did you get your last email?
My last real one was from my sister.  I get work ones non-stop, but I don’t count those.

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
Either a book/movie/record store for me or a clothing store for my kids.

40. Do anything spontaneous lately?
The fact that I had to stop and think about this most likely means, “no.”

41. Like your job?

42. Broccoli?
Albert Broccoli, who made many of the early  James Bond movies. OK, so I like the food too.

43. What was your favorite vacation?
The above-mentioned lake house weekend with my forever friends.

44. Last person you went out to dinner with?
My daughter Becca and my sons went for Mexican food a couple of weeks ago.

45. What are you listening to right now?
Someone getting water at the water fountain.

46. What is your favorite color?

47. How many tattoos do you have?
Don’t you wish you knew? 

Actually, none.  Probably never will.

48. Coffee drinker?
Every morning.  It’s like manna.

One year later

About a year ago, I started thinking about losing weight.  We’d been through a lot with Em’s wreck and she was beginning to fight hard to walk again.  I saw her courage and her determination.  I saw her face physical and emotional barriers.  She didn’t hide her scars, but put on a knee length dress and scootered her little heart out when her best friend’s grandmother died.  She didn’t avoid the hard work.

She inspired me. 

 Then I saw this picture.  I saw that my weight had nothing to do with my age, because these friends were my lifelong friends.  We are within a year of each other’s age.  They are me in so many ways.  My memories, my now, my encouragement, my understanders, and my no-excuses people.  
They inspired me.

And now I see me.  Every once in a while, I send those friends a picture of what I’m wearing.  When I sent this one, I included this message:
This outfit is brought to you by the letter B.
B is for Boots from Gretchen (on the left), and B is for Boldness from Becky (on the right.)
On a daily basis, I don’t know if I see it.  This is a decision I will have to make every day — multiple times a day.  I don’t know if I will ever eat intuitively. I don’t know that I will ever know what my body needs and what it doesn’t need.
But I do know that I need these people.  I need the courage of my children as they face the crazy uncertainties of life.  I need the support and love of my friends as I try to put the pieces of me together.  I need their insight to see myself through new eyes.  Not as, “the fat one,” but as they one who can choose.  The one who can do it.  The one who doesn’t have to be lost in food, but can face the issues, and work hard physically and emotionally to be stronger.

What a difference a year makes.

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