Fleeting and Fleeing

“The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.” ~Matthew 13:20-21 (MSG)

The parable of the sower–which some say should be the parable of the soils–has taken on new meaning for me, as scripture is wont to do over time. We read the same passages at different points in our life or in our growth as Christians. From them we glean new understandings and deeper insights.

It’s a living Bible, after all.

So this second soil, the gravel, reminds me of my early days being a Christian. I was old in body but young in spirit, and I would get “swept up” in the passion of it all. A great worship song, a dazzling sermon, a soulful interaction with other believers: those became the essence of my experience.

And, like a junkie, looking for the next good high, I sought out those elated moments as testimony to the Gospel.

But they weren’t. They were joyous moments, no doubt, but they weren’t the essence of what God can bring to our lives.

And, so many Christians put their faith in the feeling rather than the One. That’s why people keep church shopping and worship hopping, from one thing to the next: pod casts are the way to go one week, and Wednesday night worship music the next.

I’m not talking about finding the right church, or leaving one church for the next, because that can happen. And, I’m not talking about varied worship experiences, because that’s terrific stuff.

I’m talking about people who seek the feeling and who never find satisfaction because they chase an emotion. They fail to seek a relationship with God because God doesn’t get them “high” every time they walk into a building, have a conversation, or access an app.

And, that’s how it is with the gravel soil. The seed sprouts right up, bright and brilliant green, dancing in the light, until the scorching heat of the day burns it dead.

Life is hard. People are sinners. The walk with Jesus isn’t a halcyon trek.

Matthew Henry writes: “That which distinguished this good ground from the rest, was, in one word, fruitfulness. He does not say that this good ground has no stones in it, or no thorns; but there were none that prevailed to hinder its fruitfulness.” 

Oh, and I only got the Matthew Henry quote because I was following an online study on bible.com, not because I’m some scholar. I’m pretty much an average person, getting info from here or there. There are no great tomes of religious leaders in my library, just mostly some proletarian adventure books and funky memoirs about idiosyncratic lives.

As long as our goal is to keep going back to scripture, to keep furthering our walk with God, to keep our minds open and learning, we can create the soil that produces fruit.

World Hijab Day…eh?

International Hijab Day is coming up. It’s promoted on social media with hashtags such as: #FreeInHijab and #WorldHijabDay.

I have nothing against a woman who wants to wear a hijab because it’s required by her religion. We have a mosque here in my hometown, and I interact daily with hijab-wearing women who work at my local stores. But, don’t tell me I have to wear a hijab or I’m not “showing solidarity.” I shouldn’t have to “show solidarity.”

You see, I’m polite and courteous to my fellow man. But, don’t tell me to wear something that promotes a religion far, far from my own religion. The goal here is not to “show solidarity” but, ultimately, to get us to convert to Islam.

And, this is how it starts.

Make it “normal” and “acceptable.” Then, get others used to the idea. Have them try it. Make certain “hijab only” zones. Get women used to wearing it. Make more and more areas “hijab only.” It may take a decade or a few decades, but eventually, eventually it’s required in all public places.

And, that’s how these things work. Not with a mighty proclamation, but by slowing bringing the water to boil. The frog in the water doesn’t sense the need to jump out because the water ever so slowly becomes warmer and warmer until it’s killed the frog.

That’s why fighting for our freedoms and rights are so important against government tyranny and against the New World Order. I live in America. Men and women have died to protect my right to practice my religion in peace and without forcing religious rules on me.

I’m not going to be wearing a hijab, ever. But, I’ll be polite and kind to the woman who is wearing one.

Mandela Effect

I was “today years old” when I found out Van Gogh did not paint “The Scream.” Now, I’m questioning everything.

Is this a Mandela Effect?

“The Scream” by Edvard Munch

So, for those of you who don’t know, or aren’t sure, the Mandela Effect is the idea that people experience events from alternate realities or parallel universes. (Some say we slide between universes.) It’s called the Mandela Effect because many people remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison, while current history (as of this writing–haha!) states he was released from prison and became President of South Africa.

There are many things I can state for sure happened, I can see it in my mind, and yet these events never took place.

For instance, my daughter and I were trying to decide between matte or patent leather shoes for her military blues. I urged her for the matte, and I was wrong. So, we went back the store to buy the patent ones, and they weren’t there. I remember holding them up and looking at them both, the matte and patent, and then telling her to buy the matte.

She tells me she doesn’t remember the patent leather ones in the store. She was trusting me blindly in returning to the store–because I’m mom, after all. But, I remember seeing them side-by-side on the shelf. As we stood there in the aisle, she laughed at my “mis-recollection.” I laughed, too, but still it bothered me. I held those darn shoes in my hands! They were real to me!

Was this a Mandela Effect, or a false memory?

Psychologists call the Mandela Effect an example of confabulation, or false memory. Psychologically, this involves mistakenly recalling events or experiences that haven’t taken place, or the distortion of existing memories. Of course, the Mandela Effect is harder to believe than false memory, because we know that eye-witness accounts are less reliable than forensic evidence.

Still…it’s jarring when it’s YOUR memory.

There are many examples, but do you remember “Jiffy” or “Jif” peanut butter brand?

What about you? Have you had a false memory that stunned you? Tell us about it!

Christmas Carols

Let’s talk Christmas carols. These are curious questions for me. Pipe in with your own questions and/or answers!

1. “Scary ghost stories.” WHO is telling scary ghost stories at Christmas? Stephen King’s fam? Who?

2. Twelve Days of Christmas. Just what is going on here? Maids a milking? Lords a leaping? Who gifts like this?

3. “Evergreen” vs. “What Child Is This?” One of my favorite tunes, so I should be excited to be able to listen to it all year, but why? Are they two separate songs or just one?

4. “Packages on the tree.” Okay, my hubby has been known to put gift card envelopes on our tree, but why would you attach packages to the tree? Don’t they go underneath?

5. “Down the chimney down.” That’s a lot of downs. Is the chimney down another term for chimney? Does the second down refer to the first down? I’m confused.

6. “Circus clown.” The second verse to Parson Brown just totally weirds me out. Who are these people who dance around with a snowman they’re pretending is a circus clown?

7. And, from the same song, why is it, “Happy Holiday,” and not “Happy Holidays?” Doesn’t everyone say happy holidays?!

Welcome to Monday!

Welcome to Monday! If you’re on the high, enjoy it, rest and prepare for the low to come next. If you’re in a valley, know that the high will come in time. In the meantime, give your troubles to God, He has overcome this world.

And, I’ll pray for you! Leave a few sentences in the comment so I can pray intentionally.

Life is full of highs AND lows, and we have to be willing to submit to the course and trust God with all the things we cannot control.

HAVE. A. WEEK. (Not good, or great, or bad, just a WEEK!)

Like my grandfather used to say when we’d ask him about getting older, “It’s better than the alternative.”

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33

Ups and Downs Are Part of Life

If we believe that ease, lack of problems, “everything clicking along nicely” is NORMAL, then we’re guilty of unrealistic expectations in life. There will ALWAYS be problems, strife, and “bumps in the road.”

Life is ups AND downs, so if we PLAN for the downs as part of our days and weeks, we can more coolly handle the problems and enjoy the ups when we experience them. If we get sidetracked by every bad thing that comes our way, we live in a state of constant worry, fret, anxiety, depressive status, anger and rebellion.

Having “everything go our way” is NOT normal. Having ups and downs and twists and turns IS.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters [the Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family], whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” ~John 1:2-4

What You Think Matters

This quote from Sarah Young (Jesus Calling; Jesus Lives, et. al.) is why political anger is wrong. Not because our viewpoints are wrong (they are simply different), but because they harden our hearts and hurt our relationship with God. If a party tells us to demonize people who think differently, then it’s time to step away from political investments. We need to walk in the light.

“To live at peace with everyone, you need to control not only what you say and do but also what you think. It’s common to assume that your thoughts about others don’t matter much, as long as you keep them to yourself. However, I am fully aware of all your thoughts. When you indulge in negative thinking about someone, your relationship with that person is damaged. Those hurtful thoughts also affect your relationship with Me, and they may have a depressive effect on you. The remedy lies in turning to Me and seeking My forgiveness. Then, ask My Spirit to control your mind and help you think My thoughts. This is the way of Life and Peace.” ~Jesus Lives by Sarah Young, p. 146

 

Push Me, Pull Me

As a mom whose kids are in the home stretch of high school, I can tell you the emotions flutter just below the surface, threatening to gush out in a torrent of waterworks or maybe a scream.

Vollmer Farms, 2009

I’m watching the pumpkin patch visits and apple picking on Facebook. The tooth-gapped smiles and childish joy of my friends’ younger kids stab at my heart. I was there once. I would help my kids put on tiny shoes and bright colored t-shirts, too, and then we’d drive out to the country to pet farm animals or run through a corn maze, too. We’d eat spice cake and pick out our pumpkins, too. We were there, too.

Found his pumpkin!

And it was only a minute ago.

Everyone told me it would go fast, but I didn’t think it would happen to me.

Second Day of School 2018 (because mom couldn’t get a first day pic)

Today, they went off to school and my son had to bend down so I could hug him goodbye (yes, I get that daily love and I treasure it!). Busy with their own musings, one grumpy, the other overly excited for spirit day, they dressed on their own, they filled backpacks on their own, and they walked off to the bus stop on their own. I am there, but I’m a cursory player. I’m not the ring master…anymore.

Goat!

Even as I write this, I’m sitting here crying. I see that little tow-headed boy reaching out to feed a goat. I see that carefree little girl jumping on the inflatable, and I wonder if I sucked up enough of that when we were there, when we could play.

Jumping for joy!

These days, my little girl who would scream and jump with exuberance over the simplest things, asks me pertinent questions about politics or sex. My little boy who replaced his “b’s” with “v’s” and insisted it was “lightsaver,” gives me a nod in response to a query, or, if I’m really lucky, a grunt.

And there is joy still.

Lake Tillery, Summer 2018

Poker Night, 2017

We watch old movies and laugh over the ancient technology. They “get” adult humor, and even though it’s sometimes uncomfortable, it provides a commonality. We play poker and blackjack, and we take weekend trips in our camping trailer when they’re not off with their various activities. We spend time together, but it’s in fits and spurts, not every day involvement.

“Excited Teenagers” bowling, 2018

And, they get on my nerves. I want to pull my hair out. They get moody, and I get angry. But maybe that’s God’s way of making sure they leave the nest. We’re to leave our parent’s home and create our own. We’re to cleave to our spouse, not to our parents.

Animazement 2018, Anime Convention, Doc Brown and Marty McFly

 

In this age, it’s a process. You go off to college or the military, you join the workforce, you get your own digs, and you find a wife or husband, and through the growing pains and delights, you create your own life. A life away from your first home.

Now at the tail end of the daily direction of their lives, I feel the loss. The loss of crayons and board books, of plays and recitals, of dry cereal and cartoons; and I hope they remember enough of their growing up years to know that we cared and nurtured…and loved.

Loving the outdoors!

I want them to go away, because I want them to live the life that God has planned for them, to impact others, to make a difference in the world, and to have adventures.

And, I want them to stay, because I’m selfish.

My silly babies!

I miss the little girl and the little boy who used to break stuff and write on the walls and hug my legs and beg for ice cream. I miss them, but I’m also excited to see what they’ll do with this amazing life God has planned for them.

Pumpkin patch pictures: Vollmer Farm, Bunn, NC on 10/10/2009

Tying It Up Neatly with a Bow

Reading through short, sweet, to-the-point Christian books always makes me a little wary. To me, life can’t be explained in simple examples of scriptural wins created during conference breakout sessions or transcontinental flights. Stories in three or four paragraphs with sunshine-y endings don’t correlate the messy life I see around me. Or, in the starts and stops of a life God-changed.

 Real growth can and does happen with Christ, but for most of us it’s baby steps. We don’t get the illuminating light and angels’ music moment from the movies. We simply get nudged to the next phase.

Now, I get it. An author has only so many words to tell a story, and real-life tales accentuate the message. Blending people and altering facts to conceal identities is a noble gesture. Condensing the story helps the pace of the entire piece. It’s all good.

 But, that huge leap is allegory not necessarily a practical template for most of us. Growth can be slow and messy. We can backpedal. There are hills and valleys and twists and turns. When we look back over the course of our journey, we see progress, but we rarely see a sole experience that solves the deeper issues of our souls.

Now, that one illumination can prompt our movement, like a pebble starting an avalanche.  Real growth then happens over time through many instances and choices.

The stories are necessary, good fodder and explain the larger message. But, we need to remember that though they can and do happen, they are rare. It’s in our moment-by-moment choices and through our development over time that leads to a life changed by Christ.

I’m okay, you’re okay. Right?

See to it that no one falls short of the GRACE of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.  ~Hebrews 12:15

I learned recently that if you make the okay sign, you are a racist. It no longer means okay, it’s a symbol of white pride.

What the what?!?

I have been making the okay sign my ENTIRE life to mean “okay.” And, now it means something bad?

The idiocy of our society has gotten completely out of hand. One can’t just switch the meaning of something from something innocuous to horrific and then blast those of us who were not informed of your switch.

Buddhism still uses a swastika for their god Vishnu.  The thumbs up sign, which means “I’m good,” or “it’s good,” means “up yours” in some Middle eastern countries. The index finger curling up to call someone over means death in Singapore and Japan. And, etc…

We have to be a little more sane. We have to come back down to earth. We need to reach out and build bridges. We need to stop accusing people of being horrible when we don’t know them, and we don’t know their hearts.

We need to start seeking love and not finding hate everywhere.

We’re ALL human.  This is why we need God, because we DESPERATELY need grace.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this GRACE in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. ~Romans 5:1-2