God didn’t make a mistake…

Mom. God did something wrong. He messed up on me because he made me brown, he did not make me white. He needs to go back and fix it so I can be white.

A friend recently posted the quote above on her Facebook page…and my heart just broke right open. She went on to tell about how she responded and how she sought help from someone else within their circle to reinforce her words and help instill pride and understanding into her precious child.

I wanted to write about it then, but it just seemed a bit out of touch for a middle-aged white woman to address such a thing in her blog. I’ve continued to think about it though, and with all that has happened in the last week or so, I know for certain that I was wrong. It needs to be addressed by ALL of us. Not addressing such a thing has led us to where we are right now…and it is beyond unacceptable for us to be where we are. But, honestly, where to start? Where to start?!

I’m so grateful he talked to his mom and didn’t just keep this to himself. This precious child who is strong and smart and handsome knows he can trust his mom with what he thinks. That’s the mark of great parenting and I’m incredibly proud of his mom and the way she walks her walk in the difficult task of raising her boys.

Because she was open enough to share it, I’ve had to think about it. It hasn’t all been comfortable. I’ve had to deliberately think through what I was taught and what I “caught” as I grew up in Mississippi in the 1960s. For the record, that doesn’t always mean what people think it does. Some of the most educated, lovingly inclusive people I’ve ever known come from the same place I do. A person can never be truly known simply by the history, actions and attitudes present in the land of their birth. The same can be said of wherever you come from, too, I suspect, and that’s part of the point of this post. We can’t change the past, but we can certainly do something about today!

Children can often get things wrong simply because they aren’t old enough to understand or don’t hear/know the whole narrative. This child got it wrong because WE as adults haven’t understood the whole narrative, so what has been passed down over the generations has led us to this toxic reality that we share today . With that in mind, I’ll start like this:

  • Oh, sweet child (and adults and everyone in between!), God is never wrong. He is perfect.  “As for God, his way is perfect…” Psalm 18:30 (NIV) 
  • Because He is perfect, we can assume that we are not mistakes. He made us on purpose and He made us ALL different. There is no wrong color and no right color because God apparently likes them all or He would have already stopped making people of all different shades –and height and weight and every other physical characteristic you can name.
  • God made each of us on purpose. Psalm 139 is clear about that. He carefully created us and planned out our lives in order to bless us. That’s really great because it tells us that the things we can’t change about ourselves (our parents, the place we were born, and our genetics–including our skin color!) are things that God chose individually just for us. HE thinks that’s the best way for us to be. Yes, He could have created you differently, but God decided that YOU would best glorify Him by being just the way He made you–and He is never wrong.
  • The things we can change about ourselves (our thoughts, decisions, actions, and attitudes) are the things over which He gives us free will. These are OUR choices so it is up to us to make the most of them so that we can glorify Him and honor those around us as fellow creations of a loving and almighty God.
  • When God’s Word tell us something and the world around us acts like something else, you can take it to the bank:  it is the WORLD that is wrong. People are the problem, not God. That’s always the case whenever there is hate, discrimination, and bigotry–and a whole lot of other ugly words I wish you would never have to learn about first hand.
  • The decision to elevate one skin color (or any other physical trait!) over another is a sin. It isn’t a cultural issue. It isn’t a pride issue. It isn’t “the natural order of things” or any other phrase that’s used by those who practice it. It is sin.
  • The only cure for sin is Jesus. That’s why every single person on the planet needs Him.
  • The only way we can change our society is by accepting Christ and then acting like Him. We need to be “Jesus with skin on”–no matter what color our skin is!!– for everyone we meet. We will still mess up and we will occasionally be wrong in really big ways because we are human, but if we are consistently trying to be like God tells us to be in His Word, then we’ll be way ahead of where we are right now…and our world NEEDS us to be like He tells us to be. It is the only way some of them will ever hear about Him.

Hear me well, please. Wherever you are, whoever you are, or whatever you look like, God loves you! Be proud of who you are! He designed you on purpose for great things–the best of which is to be like His Son. You can only do that if you choose to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and walk out the rest of your days according to His teachings in Scripture. It isn’t always easy, but it is definitely worth it.

Now. How will you choose to walk out and talk out today? Your choices matter…to all of us.

Grace & Peace!

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NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER: Day 5

1029141336I have the BEST people in my life!! I may or may not have mentioned that before…HA! It is true, however, and you’ll probably read it here again at some time in the future. I’m just putting it out here again today because you’re here to read it and that makes you one of those “best people!”

Yesterday was a very good day. No major breakthroughs or revelations, just a long day of relaxing and getting chores done. That may sound a little oxymoronic, but it’s true just the same. It was also a day filled with phone calls and texts from loved ones and even a text that said an anonymous someone had blessed us with an anonymous gift card to one of our favorite little restaurants! We haven’t been able to follow up on that yet–and I’ve been seriously amused by the concept of an “anonymous gift card!!”–but just the very idea of it makes my heart sing, so whether it is true or not, I’ve been fully entertained–and that was worth a lot!

Among the many communications I’ve been a party to since we started talking about NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER, I wanted to make sure I shared a special one from my friend Jody. She was addressing another of our friends who had shared about how someone who hadn’t been the most pleasant person to be around had suddenly become a significant link in the chain of blessing for her. (She didn’t say it that way–that weirdness is all mine!–and I’m not sharing the other friend’s name on purpose so no fingers can be pointed at the previously unpleasant person! ha) ANYWAY! Here is Jody’s texted response (with some minor editing since we all take shortcuts in texting):

Woke up thinking about our decision to replace complaining with gratitude and praise. Reminded of Corrie ten Boom’s sister Betsie reading 1 Thessalonians to her “rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for that is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”  and Corrie having a fit and refusing to thank God for the fleas in their barracks. But later she realized those fleas kept the guards away from them, they weren’t preyed upon, were free to worship, study and talk which would not have been possible without the blessing of the fleas!

What a great reminder! As we go forward with this NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER (and beyond!), we are GOING TO HAVE “FLEAS”–at least every now and then. Don’t fight it or them! Accept it and start looking for the blessing behind it! Chances are if we began to treat our “fleas” like blessings, they might decide to actually BECOME blessings! And, OH! What a legacy that would leave! Talk about becoming a person of influence? THAT is what it is all about!

Praying that your day will be filled with beauty and a minimum number of fleas! (grin)

Grace & Peace!

(By the way, I also received notice that there is a group of prison nurses who have joined our ranks for NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER! I’m thinking that is pretty amazing and if THEY can do this, we can!!” Don’t you just love that?! God does SUCH cool stuff!!!  Best people, I tell you! BEST PEOPLE!!)

NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER: Day 4

It’s still early in this day and yet I couldn’t wait to get this out into the world: NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER is alive and well in this house!

SONY DSCOur situation is unchanged. We don’t have any more answers than when we went to bed last night. We are still waiting and wondering what God is up to in this situation. We are making lists of the things we CAN do while we wait and we’re marking things off the list as we can.

And here’s something else I want you to know: We are STILL the most blessed people we know.

My sweet #5 (Judy!!) sent this verse to me on Monday as a reminder:

“…and you know with all your heart and all your soul that none of the good promises the Lord your God made to you has failed. Everything was fulfilled for you; not one promise has failed.” Joshua 23:14

Our God is still in control. He has not changed. His power is undiminished. What He could do for His people then, He can still do today. His love remains in us and He remains FOR us. He has surrounded us with loving friends and family…WHO PRAY and ENCOURAGE!! He will answer in His time and we will rejoice at His provision…even as we wait for it.

For today, this 4th day, we choose to participate in NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER all over again.

I hope you’ll do the same where you are!

Grace & Peace!

NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER: Day 2

How are you doing with this challenge so far? Is it easier than you thought? More difficult? Hopefully, you’re still going with it! Our group is hanging in there and actually thriving, I think, based on the texts and emails from today. I know. It’s only Day 2 (some of you just grinned; others of you just groaned! ha!), but keep at it even if you’re finding it more challenging than expected! Great things are ahead!

My husband read the first blog post on Saturday evening. He liked it…the writing, I mean, and he was impressed with the response to it, but he was less than exuberant about joining in with us at first. I asked him if he was in a bit later and he said, (and I quote!) “Sure! Right up until I have an epic fail!” and then, he laughed. Actually, we both did…and then I reminded him that it would certainly be ok to start over at that point! I’m putting that in here because you need to know the same thing! Even epic fails at this challenge aren’t reason enough to quit! They are simply signposts that we need to take a big breath and start again.

LeavesYou may also need to know the following: While we were getting ready for church Sunday morning, my husband suddenly exclaimed, “Why do ALL of my shirts have spots on them?!” Before he could go any further, I simply asked him, “Is that a query or a complaint?” He was quiet for just a bit and then I heard (in a much quieter voice), “It’s a query…and I really DO want to know WHY?!”

Not all questions are complaints, We need to remember not to be touchy with others as we’re in this challenge and not let our perceptions get in our own way…or in someone else’s.

It’s Monday now, and if ever there were a day for my husband to have an “epic fail” for this challenge, today would certainly qualify. I haven’t seen that happen, however. What I’ve seen is that he has personified grace under pressure, calmness of spirit, and resolve. I wish I could tell you that all of that came just from participating in this challenge, so it would be the same for you, as well, but it doesn’t. It comes from his personal relationship with God.

Today has been ROUGH for us. It has been a lot rougher than I can share right now, but here are some things you might want to know that we found out a long time ago and they are what is getting us through today:

  • God is still in control.
  • He is never surprised or taken aback by our circumstances.
  • He is good.
  • He is faithful.
  • He has a plan–and it is for our good.
  • We are loved by Him…completely, permanently, and unconditionally.

If we didn’t know anything else but that, we’d still be ahead…with no reason to complain.

Praying that you know these things already, that you’re relying on them (and HIM!) fully, and that you’ll jump in right where you are today share your blessing with those around you. See you back here later!

Grace & Peace!

(By the way, the leaves are for Audrey (my #9), who shared that God has been using red & yellow leaves to remind her of His faithful Presence during this challenge and make her aware of her blessings. If God is using something to remind you of YOUR blessings during this challenge, I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to contact me in the comment section and share with the others who have joined us, as well!)

Newsworthy?

Well. This has been quite the week for news, hasn’t it? More than that, it’s been quite the week for anger and vitriol and finger-pointing (from every side) about what is right and what is wrong–especially if your last name is Jenner. Interestingly enough, it is just barely mid-week and the main story in the news…isn’t really the main story…for any of us.

Somehow, in the midst of all of the goings-on, I think we’ve managed to miss a few things.

Here’s the real news:

  • There’s actually something wrong with all of us. What’s wrong with us is that we’re all flawed and we’re all sinful…all of us.
  • NONE of us have gotten it every bit right so far…and we never will as long as we’re still on this planet.
  • Perhaps the saddest news of all is when someone (anyone!) is unaware of who they are created to be…in Christ.
  • When someone doesn’t have that knowledge, it is absolutely impossible for their lives to look like they have that knowledge.
  • LOVE does not equal APPROVAL of every action or attitude. It isn’t even acceptance of every action or attitude. Love is a lot tougher than that…and a lot more resilient than we ever give it credit for being.
  • If I focus on the things that still need to  be fixed in ME, I won’t have time to finger-point…at anyone.

Here’s the better news:

  • God still loves us!
  • God didn’t wait for us to get it all together and act like we should before He decided to love us…or show us how MUCH He loves us!
  • There’s still time to act like we know and believe that.

SONY DSCHow will you LOVE today? How will you LIVE HIM today? How will you entice the world to want to know our God today? (Hint: They ARE all the same thing!)

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”  John 3:16-17

Grace & Peace!

It’s all in the doing…

I’m not sure if this is actually a blog post or a personal memo. Either way, I can’t get it off my brain, so here it goes.

My pastor preached on forgiveness this past Sunday. He used Matthew 5:21-26 as his primary text and did his usual phenomenal job of teaching us how to appreciate the way the words were deliberately chosen, as well as bringing the Word to life and making them practical. I can appreciate all of that. I love the way words are crafted, too…and I thought he brought out some really great points.

He talked to us about Romans 12:12 tells us to “be transformed” and then began the process of showing us how the rest of the Word makes that both possible and practical. Pastor Chris reminded us that we’re not to stop at the standards set by the world, or even by those set by historical religious teachers…we’re supposed to meet God’s standard.

In case you don’t remember just off the top of your head or haven’t reached for your Bible yet, Matthew 5:21-26 deals with anger…and forgiveness.

I thought Pastor Chris did a great job. I loved the sermon…and then…

I had to apply it this week.

Don’t ever think that God doesn’t have a sense of humor…or timing…cropped-heart

Now, it’s up to me to get busy with the doing.

“Forgiven people forgive.” That’s what we were taught on Sunday. That’s where I’m walking this week.

How are YOU doing the Word this week?

Grace & Peace!

My Real Life God

I looked through one of those magazines today. You know the ones that are so full of pretty pictures and creative options that it makes you feel like a bit of a slug for not coming up with something like that…or that…or…well, anything that could just add to the pretty of the world and inspire someone to go out and paint a picture or write prose with deep thoughts that will change the world.

It was full of quotes from people who, apparently, live lives full of poetry and have plenty of time to cut little tiny bits of paper and reassemble them into works of art and it had lots of pictures of things like feathers in vintage vases and lace used in unexpected ways to create backdrops for family photo collages. The photos looked, well, the words “whispery” and “ethereal” kept running through my mind…along with very mundane thoughts like, “Mercy, that’s pretty, but even if I could do that, it wouldn’t last long at my house…the cats would kill that mood in a heartbeat. It looks great, but it’s just not an option in my real life.”

I walked out of the store without the magazine, but I carried the pictures in my head along with the desire to write things that were Jane Austin-y or William Wordsworth-y. The truth is that I know most of the same words they knew (or at least a good number of them, anyway!), but somehow mine come out without the flights of fancy most of the time.

I thought about how different we all are and what a good thing that is and that started me thinking about God. I know from Scripture that God is a Spirit and, because of that, a lot of people associate Him with things that are secret and wispy and whispery and gossamer and hushed reverential tones…kind of like some of those magazine pictures I saw today: perfectly staged and too pretty to touch with real life on your hands. I guess I just see Him a little differently.

I see God in the great big things like sunsets and even in the chaos on the evening news. I see Him in the practicality of finding a new use for an old thing that got sold at a yard sale and I see Him in the delicacy of the tiny purple muscari blooms that are scattered around our yard near the hot tub. (Yes, we are the Clampetts and we have a big old hot tub out in the yard–grin—and yes, I even see God in the humor of having that big old hot tub in the yard.)

I see God in delicate things like the moss at the base of the oak trees out back and in the silent flight of the owl that lives up in the top of those same trees. I hear Him in the wind that sweepsSONY DSC
through the Georgia pines out front and in the sweet scent of those same trees as I head to get my mail…it stops me in my tracks every single day. I hear Him in my nephews’ laughter and feel Him in my husband’s hugs. I see Him written out on the delicate pages of my Bible and also in the tough-as-nails, precious people I love who live with daily pain or those who are fighting cancer…still…or even, again. I saw Him today in the face of the perky little lady who came and sat by me at the deli counter and the way she reminded me of a loved one who now lives with God full time.

All of that makes me think that my words might be more whispery when I talk about God if He just wasn’t so loud to me every day. God is available for more than just those reverential, high-church holiday times like Christmas and Easter! He’s a REAL LIFE God for every single second of your life! I hope you hear Him, too—and it doesn’t matter to me if He whispers to you or shouts out loud with joy like He seems to with me most days! Just so you hear Him and know that He’s not too delicate to touch with real life on your hands…no matter what that real life looks like today.

“…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

Grace & Peace!

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