Author Archives: diane.connis@gmail.com

2 AM, Jon and Jesus

When I’m out with Jon until 2AM (or whatever time he decides to party ’til), I see a lot of IMG_0326humanity. It’s true, the dark of night often brings out what is most broken in people.

Last night I stood in line behind a man who’d obviously had too much to drink. He was loud and flirting with all the girls behind the counter. He seemed to be a ‘happy drunk’ at least. He turned around and started spilling words on me. I stood quietly looking at him; silently praying for him.

Then a conversation started that went like this:

Him: “Why are you looking at me like that?”

Me: “Because you’re talking to me and I’m listening?”

Him: “Tell you what I’m going to do, I’m going to pay for your order.”

Me: “Thank you. That’s thoughtful, but not necessary.”

Him: “No, I insist. You know why? Cause I’m a kind hearted guy and my mom always told me what goes around comes around.”

Me: “Well, Amen to that. Your mom is right. Mom’s usually are (I smiled). But those are actually the words of Jesus. He said, ‘What you sow, you reap.’ Same thing.”

Him: Don’t Amen me now. I ain’t going to church on Sunday.

Me: “You should. It would be a great place for you to be. Sit your butt in church instead of on a bar stool.” (I smiled again. So did he.)

Him: “OK, so order. I’m paying.” (He let me move ahead of him in line)

Me: Alright then, I’ll let you. The money you spend on me will be one less beer you buy and you’ll be blessed besides.”

I ordered. He paid. I thanked him. He stayed a few more minutes talking to everyone who came in and waved to me when he left. As I ate my sandwich wrap and drank my tea, I prayed He would be overwhelmed by the love of Father God and his life changed forever.

Jesus told us to go into all the world and spread the Good News and the good news is, we don’t need a platform, audience or microphone to do it. We just need to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit as we encounter people out in our world, the places we move through as we do life. We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

So what is truth?

One man, Pontus Pilot, asked Jesus this question. The answer was standing right in front of him and like most of us, he didn’t ‘get it.’

Jesus said to him, “I AM the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

And what is love? “God is love” 1 John 4:8.

He doesn’t just give love, His entire being, nature and character consists of love. Love is who and what He IS.

Share The Truth and The Love with someone today? And ask the Spirit to help you do it, not with an attitude or an ‘I-know-better-than-you’ self righteousness, but in the truth and love of Jesus Christ. It’s fun! And you never know what a planted seed might later produce in someone’s life.

Always On My Mind

IMG_0127Jon’s been to the sedation dentist five times in the past eight months. We still have two to three more appointments to finish all the repair needed and then there’s the question of whether there’ll be more in the future.

There’s always this thing about Jon’s future (and not just his teeth). It wants to hang over me like a dark cloud, more than I care to admit.

I don’t worry about our son, David. I think about him everyday, but never worry about him. But Jon? Oh yes! I worry about him plenty and have for many years. The older he and I get, the more it weighs on me. Maybe this is normal for parents of kids who need care and supervision their entire lives. Is it? Or am I alone here?

I can be having a conversation with you and in the far recesses of my mind I’m thinking about Jon. I can be at the grocery store, in a church service, on a cruise, visiting my grandson; I can be anywhere doing anything and Jon is present in my thoughts. He’s always on my mind.

Other’s tell me, “Well you shouldn’t worry so much. It’s in God’s hands.”
I smile and reply, “Thank you, that’s true. You’re right. Pray for me.”
But honestly, what I sometimes want to shout is, “That’s easy for you to say!”

So how do we trust God in situations that continue day after day, year after year? It’s real. It’s in our face every morning when we rise and every night when we lay down. How do we find peace and contentment in this place? Can I ever reach a place of total surrender here? Can I ever mature enough in God to never feel this anxiety again, even when nothing has changed? Can I get through a day without having to lay it down at  Jesus’ feet again and again? Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. Or the one after that.

I don’t know. I want to. Worry wears me out. It’s exhausting.

Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34) but in context, He was talking about material goods needed for life: food, drink and clothes. He wasn’t talking about my son. Apostle Paul also wrote in Philippians 4:12 that he had “learned the secret of being content in every situation” but also related this to material needs; hunger, abundance and lack. He wasn’t talking about Jon either.

So I look at these:

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you..” Psalm 55:22.

“Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything.” (Apostle Paul) Philippians 4:6.

“..Cast all your anxiety on Him (Jesus) because He cares for you” 1 Peter 5:6-8.

“Come to Me (Jesus) all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (Jesus) John 14:27.

I read these promises and realize this worry free existence we hope for, may NOT be a ‘I’ve finally arrived’ deal. I wonder if we ever reach the pinnacle of ability to sail through a trouble filled earth life without angst. As believers in an all powerful and involved-in-life God, maybe we do ourselves and others a disservice when we expect to reach a super spiritual level of never worrying about anything, ever again, this side of Heaven.

We read our Bibles and cliché these scriptures into meaninglessness, beating ourselves up for failing and feeling sub-standard for not measuring up.

Could it be these promises aren’t about removing worry from life permanently, but instructions for surrendering it daily? If “faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen,” (Hebrews 11:1) then everyday I need to lay what I hope for at His feet. Everyday while I wait ‘for what I have not yet seen’ I need His strength to battle the enemies of worry, doubt and fear.

Everyday I pray.
Everyday I cast my anxiety on Him.
Everyday I come to Him for peace and rest.
Everyday I run to Him with my problems.
Everyday I choose to trust Him.
Everyday I believe He loves me.
Everyday I lay my questions, concerns, fears and worries before Him.
Everyday I surrender Jon, his future and mine, back to Him.

Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. And the one after that.

The better question to ask is this: “Can trouble or problems or persecution separate us from His love?” Romans 8:35

When I remember I’m loved, it’s easier to let go.
When I remember I’m loved, I worry less.
When I remember I’m loved, I breathe deeper.
When I remember I’m loved, I surrender completely.

“But in all these troubles we have complete victory through God, who has shown His love for us. Yes, I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love..” Romans 8:38.

In my daily surrender, God’s love overtakes my worry. When His love is always on my mind, His love always wins.

“..nothing in the whole created world—will ever be able to separate us from the love God has shown us in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8:39.

Nothing. Will ever!

Not Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. Or the one after that. Hallelujah!

A Mother’s Legacy

My mother passed on to her eternal home in 1994. She’s been gone twenty three years now and in many ways I’m happy for her. A strange thing to say? Maybe? But most of what I remember about my mother was the difficulties she endured.Mom

Shortly after I was born, she had a complete and devastating nervous breakdown and was committed to Willard State Psychiatric Hospital in upstate New York for several years. Over my lifetime, I’ve heard bits and pieces of family speculation and attempted to piece ambiguous information together, but I still don’t really know why. These things were not discussed openly by previous generations as they are now.

My older brother went into foster care and I was shuffled around between grandparents and a few aunts and uncles before finally landing with a family down the street who had five kids of their own. They took me in and it was because of them and out of desperation to see his family reunited, that my Dad had his come to Jesus experience. Though our family life was imperfect, and at times dysfunctional, I was raised with a foundation of Bible, church and a solid belief in God that later became an anchor for my own life storms.

When Mom finally came home from Willard, she wasn’t the same, at least that’s what I was told. I don’t remember her to be anything other. She was just Mom. She was somewhat timid, emotionally fragile and often fearful, yet I knew she loved me, though I have no memory of her ever saying so.

She was a cigarette addict (wasn’t everyone in the 50’s?), married to a hard-working, sometimes overbearing and exacting man, she never learned to drive and developed rheumatoid arthritis sometime in her thirties. I would come home from school to find her sobbing on the sofa, a knee or wrist so painfully red and swollen she couldn’t function. Mom never went to a doctor and never took anything for the pain but aspirin, which does nothing to alleviate any of RA’s symptoms, as I would later discover for myself.

I remember her walking me to kindergarten and later, on days I walked home from elementary school for lunch, there was usually a grilled cheese sandwich and hot Campbells soup waiting on the small table in the corner of the kitchen. On days she felt better, she’d be in the kitchen cooking meals or doing endless loads of wash and hanging heavy, wet clothes on the rope stretched between the shed and the sour cherry tree in our backyard.

Because she didn’t drive, I’d sometimes ride my pink, banana-seat bike two miles to the corner store, with a note giving me permission to purchase a pack of cigarettes. An extra nickel or dime would buy me some penny candy, then I’d happily pedal back home. On hot summer days, she’d occasionally hand me a dime, and I’d dash to the curb for a cherry snow cone from Mr. Frosty’s truck.

Somewhere toward the close of her fiftieth decade, RA got the best of her. She couldn’t walk anymore. With the cushioning cartilage and synovial fluid in her knees gone, the joints fused and locked in place. She finally had wheels of her own – a wheelchair – and Dad became her caregiver. Several years passed before he couldn’t lift her anymore. At age sixty she went to live in a nursing home and at sixty-two she died of cancer. Unfortunate for us, but fortunately for Mom, only in that her wheelchair, pain and emotional suffering stayed behind when she left this earth.

What I remember most about my mom? She was always there for her family and rarely complained. She didn’t whine, claim entitlement or victim-hood. With no social media on which to unveil every detail of her life and in the oblivion of my youth, I gave little thought to the difficulties she faced. It wasn’t until I developed rheumatoid arthritis in my mid-twenties and had a family of my own that I came to appreciate my mother’s perseverance.

I wonder what dreams she had as a young girl and if she ever felt slighted because her life didn’t go as planned. Like so many mothers, she did the best she could under difficult circumstances and well into my adult years, I realized a simple truth; parents are human too and perfected people are non-existent. A sure mark of maturity is realizing this and forgiving ours for being flawed and possibly less than we hoped for.

Maybe ingrained deep within my DNA, is a measure of my mother’s endurance; an assistant in carrying me through life, as it did her. Someday I will tell her how grateful I am for the legacy she left me.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

 

The God Who Sees

tile-floorsI was on my hands and knees scrubbing the tile floor around the toilet for the fourth time in a week. Those of you who live with boys know they sometimes miss. Jon is not a boy. He’s a man. And he still misses, way too often for my liking.

As I applied bleach to the grout again, I sighed and breathed out loud, “I hope I can still get down here and do this when I’m 80,” and felt a sudden hopelessness roll over me.

Then I heard a still small voice in the depths of my soul.

“I see you.”

My Bible reading that morning had brought me to the story of Hagar. Hagar was the slave of Sarai, Abram’s wife, obtained in one of their detour trips to Egypt. Hagar came from a culture that worshiped multiple gods. The Egyptians had a god for everything, so Abraham’s god, on her list of imaginative deities, was probably added only to appease the old folks.

Hagar had no rights. She was a nobody. Her duty in life was to fulfill the wishes of another, and when barren Sarai grew tired of waiting for the son God had promised Abram, she did what was a common practice of their culture. Sarai sent Abram to sleep with her slave to claim a son through Hagar. Hagar was forced to become a surrogate mom.

Genesis 16:1-3 “Sarai, Abram’s wife, had no children, but she had a slave girl from Egypt named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, “Look, the Lord has not allowed me to have children, so have sexual relations with my slave girl. If she has a child, maybe I can have my own family through her.” Abram did what Sarai said.”

When Hagar became pregnant she realized she now had an advantage over Sarai. Hagar got herself an attitude and who could blame her, really? What’s Sarai going to do to her now that she’s carrying Abram’s child? Someone who’s had no control over her own destiny finally had an edge. Eventually the relationship between the two women became so intolerable, Hagar ran away.

Genesis 6:7-12 finds Hagar beside a spring of water in the desert having a conversation with an angel of God. She was told to go back home and continue to serve Sarai. But God promised Hagar her son, would become a great nation also. He gave her hope.

Not one of Egypt’s gods had ever spoken to her. Not one of them cared enough to show up and reassure a despairing slave girl. But Abram’s God did. And she was amazed.

This God knew who she was. Where she was. And what she needed. This God had eyes to see her and ears to hear her. This God cared!

Then, “the slave girl gave a name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are ‘God who sees me,’” because she said to herself, “Have I really seen God who sees me?” Genesis 6:13

I realized that day on the floor that God sees me. He said as much.  And every time I get on the floor to scrub again, I am reassured He is pleased. What we determine to be small, insignificant, unseen and even annoying, matters greatly to God.

God sees you driving to work again, that counter you wiped, the laundry washed and folded, the dishwasher you load, the toilet scrubbed, another diaper changed, the gas tank you just filled and each time you help lift that person in and out of his wheelchair.

He sees the smile you brought to someone, the hug you gave, the ride you offered, the meal you cooked.

He sees how tired, desperate and broken you are.

It matters to Him. The unseen is important to Him. That thing done when no one watches. The mundane. The exhausting. The unappreciated. The irritating.

He sees it all and He knows.

Because my God is the God Who Sees!

And He’s your God too.

 

 

It’s Not All About You!

reality checkOur story inspires people. At least, that’s what I hear. That’s what some tell me. I find that fascinating because it usually doesn’t feel the least bit inspiring while living it. It often feels frustrating, lonely, difficult, challenging, frightening and exhausting.

But there’s one thing I’ve figured out about my wise, loving and mysterious God. He enjoys showing up in the middle of our mess! He loves to partner with us to make Himself known.

If releasing the Hebrews from bondage was God’s only objective, He could have swooped into Egypt all by Himself and in any number of ways, set the Israelite nation free.

So what was the long, drawn out process all about? The negotiating, petitioning, plagues and frustration. Moses was only doing what God had instructed. Why wasn’t it easier? Scholars estimate the duration of all the plagues, until Israel’s release, was at least two months and possibly up to a year.

The ancient Egyptians worshiped over 2000 deities. They had a god associated with every aspect of life; agriculture, fertility, water, rain, animals, death, insects, earth, sky, sun and moon. Even Pharaoh was thought to be a god.

While delivering Israel, Jehovah was also trying to reveal Himself to the nation of Egypt as the One True God. The only way to do so was to prove His power greater over all the gods they imagined. Each plague addressed, at least one and maybe more, of their gods.

In His mercy, God orchestrated this series of events to access the heart of Pharaoh and give him opportunity to change. But Pharaoh continually hardened his heart. The ‘ahh-hah’ moment never came. Pharaoh never accepted the revelation of a real God who cared enough about him to speak loudly and clearly, “I AM THE LORD!” not all these other things you worship.

God will go out of His way to make Himself known. If only one Egyptian came to know the One True God in the middle of Israel’s mess, it was worth the struggle. Apparently some believed, because Exodus 12:37&38 tells us, “That night the people of Israel left Rameses and started for Succoth..a rabble of non-Israelites went with them..”

not about meThis thing you’re going through right now might not be only for or about you. It might be so others see God’s power at work in you while He is simultaneously orchestrating your solution.

Don’t be discouraged because your rescue, problem or promise is taking so long. Be patient. Trust the process. Remember others are watching.

Someone else could be changed because of your faith and trust in a time of trouble. Someone else could see God’s power at work in your struggle and have that ‘ahh-hah’ moment.

“When I raise my powerful hand and bring out the Israelites, the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord” Exodus 7:5.

Someone else could come to know He Is Lord, because of what He is doing for YOU!

Exodus 9:29 “All right,” Moses replied. “As soon as I leave the city, I will lift my hands and pray to the Lord. Then the thunder and hail will stop, and you will know that the earth belongs to the Lord.”

Exodus 14:4 “I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord!”

Exodus 14:17&18 “My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers. When my glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the Lord!”

Resolutions or Revelations?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have a revelation about resolutions. I’m not good at keeping them. And after watching sixty-some New Years come and go, I don’t make them anymore.

I also have a resolution about revelations. IF I spend time listening to the still, small voice of my Heavenly Father, He lovingly reveals areas in my life where I need to change. I can tackle problem areas with greater ease when He enlightens. I move forward in divine grace, instead of by the sheer determination of my limited human effort.

The Creator God of Heaven and Earth and Me, knows what I need better than anyone so I can move forward into the New Year with confidence.

For the One..“who was seated on the throne said,Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5

No one is more interested and invested in our progress and improvement than God. As we walk in His enabling power, we are continually becoming new and renewed.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

God specializes in New! He specializes in You!

Start a personal revolution. Let His Revelation become your Resolution.

Spend some time listening and surrendering and have a Happy, new and improved you, in 2017!

Merry Messy Christmas!

img_0047Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Not at our house. Jack Frost rarely nips at our nose (nor do we ever dream of a white Christmas), since we live in Florida. A few Yuletide carols may be sung by a choir at our Christmas service, but since Trinity is a non-traditional, contemporary church, even that’s debatable.

We will have a turkey this year, but no mistletoe and no tiny tots hanging around with their eyes all aglow. Just a Jon who gets up when he feels like it and takes five hours to open ten gifts.

According to this picture perfect Christmas song, our chances for a Merry Christmas are poor indeed. We score about one and a half out of five.

Are you feeling it right now because your Christmas isn’t Hollywood perfect? Cheer up, the first one wasn’t any better:

An unwed, teenage mother.
No baby shower, but plenty of rumors.
A disgraced marriage.
An annoying, inconvenient, tax-registering trip.
A baby born in a barn (with no nurse, diapers or cradle).
Scruffy shepherds as newborn visitors.
A jealous king sending out spies and assassins.
An emergency escape by night to another country.

The truth of Christmas is that God willingly jumped over-His-head-deep into the chaos of earth’s struggles. The First Christmas was so…human. It was scandalous. It was messy. It was so earthly, many passed right on by. And because His arrival seemed nondescript to most, people missed its significance. And still do.img_0048

If it’s not “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” for you and a Norman Rockwell or Thomas Kinkade Christmas depiction is not happening where you are; happiness disregards you, money is tight, relationships stressed, someone deeply loved is gone and greatly missed, or possibly your only Christmas wish this year is for yourself or a sick loved one to heal, there’s no need to collapse in despair. No need to feel alone. No need to be paralyzed with fear.

Real life doesn’t stop for Christmas.

BUT!

Christmas came to invade every detail of our messy human existence and inundate whatever is occurring in our personal universe at the moment.

God came to us as one of us and He understands. He will walk with us through it all if we let Him. Stop, surrender and make room for Him this Season.

And have yourself a Very Merry Messy Christmas now!

“Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the Virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell;
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!”

 
Home For the Holidays – painting by Norman Rockwell, 1950
Christmas Cottage – painting by Thomas Kinkade, 1990                                                                         “Hark The Herald Angels Sing,” Charles Wesley, 1739

The WOW Walk

When our boys were crawling babies and old enough to start noticing and exploring the world around them, Mike would often pick them up and carry them, through the house, outside, in malls or restaurants, just about anywhere at any random moment, and show them things up above their vision. Since they spent their entire day on the floor it was almost impossible to see or know what was up above.wow-walk-1He let them touch clocks, pictures, candles and other things hanging on walls. He showed them flowers, plants, leaves, trees. He let them look out windows, took them into closets and pointed out items on shelves and walked them in restaurant lobbies to let them see whatever was at eye level.

Every item seen or touched was prefaced with, “Wow!  What is that?” Then he would name it and add a simple explanation, “That’s a clock. It’s round. Watch that second hand go. That’s pretty awesome isn’t it?”

Watching their precious faces light up at the discovery of some new wonder was priceless as they absorbed the novelties of their world and every tiny discovery in amazement.

These ‘Wow Walks’, as we came to call them, resulted in Jon’s first word, not being DaDa or MaMa, but “Wow!”

Our nine month old crawling and exploring grandson was with us last week. The first thing Mike did when Asa was comfortable with us holding him, was take him on a “Wow Walk.” He had quite a few of them while he was here, to the point where if he was fussy, his mom or dad would ask him, “Asa, do you want Grampy to take you on a Wow tour?”

The answer was a big smile and outstretched arms. His way of saying, “Yes Grampy, take me, take me.”wow-walk-2As we age and mature, we often lose this childlike sense of wonder. The responsibilities, problems and heaviness of our existence on this planet can easily mire us down, into negativity and despair; things once new and exciting as a child become commonplace. We can see a beautiful sunset, without celebrating it, walk past a rose without smelling it or look at a rainbow without contemplating its mystery. We begin evaluating others through eyes of cynicism or mistrust and miss moments of joy and beauty in everyday life.

Why are we reminded by Jesus to remain, not childish in behavior, but childlike in faith?

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3). I believe He knew how quickly the belief and wonder could fade; after all, He was here, walking as one of us, when He said this.

He also came to return that sense of amazement to life. Not just a, plodding along, trying to keep our head up and survive, sort of reality, but abundance (John 10:10).

Is the wonder and joy of life far from your grasp? Do the problems and struggles you face keep you down? God can lift you up.

Let Him lift you from the floor of limitation. Trust him as a small child trusts a loving grandfather. Reach for Him with outstretched arms. Allow Him to carry you higher and show you great and marvelous things. Lift up your eyes, believing there is much more above and beyond where you are right now.

Don’t settle for a ‘Woe Is Me’ walk through life.

Make it a ‘WOW’ walk!

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Luke 18:17

“The thief comes but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3 

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2     

“But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

The Myth of Assumptions

ASSUMPTION: a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof,

Or the Categorizing of People We Don’t Know, Under Labels:file

 

Myth- All people with Down syndrome are always sweet and happy.

Fact- I live with one who isn’t always sweet or happy and know of several others who cry a lot.

Myth- All Puerto Ricans love rice and beans.

Fact- I know one who could care about rice and beans. In fact, I’m a white Yankee from New England and I love rice and beans.

Myth- All black people are thugs and takers.

Fact- I have a lot of wonderful black friends who are hard working, loving and giving citizens.

Myth- All Mexicans are illegal.

Fact- I know people of Mexican descent who are awesome legal Americans.

Myth- All Moslems are terrorists.

Fact- I know of several Moslems that are just as concerned about terrorism as I am.

Myth- All white people hate…anyone else…who isn’t white.

Fact- The white people I know don’t hate anyone. If God made you purple with pink stripes or green with yellow dots, I’d still like you.

Myth- All people living in the south are racist, redneck, hicks.

Fact- Been living in Florida sixteen years, if this is true I sure know a whole lot of really nice non-racist, redneck, hicks.

Myth- All people who disagree with my opinion, lifestyle, and behavior are haters.

Fact- I’ve been married for four decades to a man I sometimes disagree with. We don’t hate each other. Ever.

Myth- All cops are racist murderers.

Fact- I have police friends who pray they never have to draw a gun on anyone and want to go home to their family at the end of each day, like the rest of us.

Myth- All Pentecostals swing from chandeliers.

Fact- I’ve been in Pentecostal/Charismatic type churches most of my life and have never seen anyone swing from a chandelier. In fact I’ve never been in a church building that had chandeliers to swing from.

Myth- All pastors are after your money.

Fact- I’ve been married to a hard working pastor for four decades. He’s never been after anyone’s money, not even mine.

Myth- All Clinton supporters are left wing, communist liberals.

Fact- I know people who supported Hillary and they aren’t communists. They had their own well thought out reasons for wanting her as President.

Myth- All Trump supporters are right wing, racist, homophobic, narrow minded, bigots.

Fact- I know people who supported Trump and they aren’t any of those things. They had logical, personal reasons for wanting him as our nation’s leader.

Myth- God only likes Democrats/Republicans/Libertarians (pick one).

Fact- “God so loved the world…” He didn’t pick and choose. He didn’t die for Trump supporters over Clinton voters. He didn’t die for Pentecostals more than Catholics. He doesn’t love white people more than black or Moslems less than Americans. Jesus came and loved on sinners, publicans, religious leaders, prostitutes, big mouths, crooks, fishermen, soldiers, sick, broken, tired, and messed up people. He loved and died FOR ALL.

So, how about WE THE PEOPLE put away ‘childish things’; end the bullying, name calling, mudslinging (even though our politicians won’t), the kicking, screaming, whining and temper fits because we didn’t get what we wanted and get to the business of making our home, church, neighborhood, community, state and country a better place.

Jesus calls us to a higher standard, “But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell” Matthew 5:22.

Can we be mature adults? Stop labeling? Stop categorizing? Stop forcing our agenda on others? Stop believing everyone is our enemy because their opinion, their politics, their social status, their..whatever… is different from our own?img_0885How about we invite that ‘opposing person’ out for coffee or lunch? Sit and really listen to another perspective with an open heart, instead of an angry reply. Honor her/him because God cares about her/him and value her/him for who she/he is instead of tripping over what we want them to be. Give someone a chance when we don’t think they deserve it, because we’d like the same courtesy extended to us.

WE THE PEOPLE can end the division among us and we don’t need a President to tell us how to do that! Let’s freely give others the benefit of a doubt and release all assumptions.

Jesus is our example. We can choose to take up our cross and follow Him. Then the world will know we are His, not by our agreement, but by our love.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

1 Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I stopped those childish ways.”

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”

John 13: 34 “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

Matthew 5:43-45 ““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

Wings

I watched it, from my kitchen window, fluttering against the screen, desperate to get out. The butterfly was trapped. It flew in through the large roof opening of our pool frame, a hole the hurricane left behind when a screen came loose in the wind.gulf-fritillary

The butterfly showed no interest in the array of flowers we’ve planted inside, it wanted out and bumped along the side panels until it needed to rest, finally clinging to the screen instead of flying against it.

I dried my hands, grabbed a Rubbermaid container and lid and went out on the deck. I figured if I could trap it inside the container I could set it free, but it flew off before I could catch it.

I grabbed the pool scoop, the thing that looks like a large butterfly net, and followed the creature, gently swiping at it as it darted and glided above my head.

Opening the screen doors on each end of the enclosure, I attempted to guide it to freedom, but it flew too high or darted away in another direction. Butterfly obviously didn’t understand my good intentions. It couldn’t believe I was concerned for its welfare, though several times it was only inches from the open door.

“You’re so close! Come on Butterfly. Work with me. I know this is scary for you but I’m trying to help you here. Why can’t you understand, I’m just trying to help you be free?”

Eventually the butterfly exhausted itself and rested again, on a side screen, within reach and I gingerly set the Rubbermaid container over it and slid the lid underneath. The frightened creature panicked and crashed violently against the walls of the plastic prison.

I carefully carried it outside, far away from the pool enclosure and lifted the lid. The butterfly burst from captivity and soared away above the trees in a joyous dance of freedom.

In every place where my mind, heart and soul are trapped, every obstacle I so violently and fearfully bump up against, every towering wall I encounter with no escape, God is on a continuous rescue mission to set me free. He is there waiting, as I kick against my prison walls, believing I must find my own way out.

He longs to show me how to soar. He patiently moves me closer to the open door, closer to liberty, while my heart flutters in fear and my soul lifts in pride.

My Merciful Father patiently waits until I retreat in exhaustion and there, submit to the gentle nudge of His heart to my own. “Come on Daughter. Work with me. I know this looks scary and you don’t understand, but I’m trying to help you. I’m just trying to set you free. Trust Me.”

With gentle restriction He apprehends me, changes me, and then sets me free to rise above the challenges of my own thoughts, heart and life.

Wings are not meant to fly against obstacles, but over them. Wings take us places we can’t normally go. Wings are meant for freedom.

Today, I submit to God’s capture. I will Trust Him, because soon, confinement will be over.

Freedom will come at last.

And I will soar.

Isaiah 40:31(NKJ) “but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings..”

Acts 26:14-15 (AMP) “ And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew dialect saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick [repeatedly] against the goads [offering pointless resistance].’ And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus..”

 Galatians 5:1 (ERV) “We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong in that freedom. Don’t go back into slavery again.”

John 8:36 (ESV) “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”