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Whose plan are you following?

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A few weeks ago I hosted my annual end-of-the-year Sunday School Class Party.  After spending many hours and lots of $$$ preparing for the party, things did not go as planned.

 

1.  Had Ginny (The Mother-in-law, but I knew this one).

2.  Wednesday before the Friday night party, I get a text from my son saying he and his entire family were coming for the weekend and arriving Friday afternoon.  That’s 2 adults and 4 grandkids added to the mix.

3.  Drama.  I don’t know what happened yet, but some kind of drama happened in youth group [I know that surprises all who know youth] on Wednesday and half the group did not show as a result.

4.  Some of the ones that did show did not want to participate in planned activities.  Grandchildren wanted to participate in ALL the activities.

5.  Isn’t that enough?

You know what?  Life is that way sometimes.  No matter what we plan, God is in control of what happens.  He knew all about what would happen at the party.  He is in charge of any results from the party.  I did my part by planning, God will do His part in the hearts of the students and others attending.

 

Best laid plans. . .

Most of us like to have a plan in place.  Plans help us feel ‘in control’ of our lives.  They do, that is, until things go awry.  I know some people who freak out when they have their plans usurped.   I know others who make no plans to avoid disappointment.  God doesn’t mind us making our plans, as long as we don’t leave Him out of the loop or raise a fuss when He has other ideas.

 

Trusting His plan gives life balance

His Plan.

Fortunately, God has a plan.  These are some things we can know about His plans.

 

►His plans never fail.

“…I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:” Isaiah 46:9-10

 

►His plans include my good.

“11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

►No matter who governs me or my country, God is my ultimate ruler.

“For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations” Psalm 22:28

Knowing the above, I feel safe, even when my plans go awry.  I trust that God had a purpose in it all, and that He will carry that purpose out, whether I am aware of it or not.  I think we need a reminder of this, especially as those in the USA face the upcoming election.  No one can get in office unless God allows it for His reasons.  This helps me to know that:

 

►A person cannot cheat his/her way in.

►It’s not the end of the world if my candidate is not selected.  It is in God’s plan, and the end of the world will be when He declares it.

►I don’t have to be swayed by circumstances.  I know who has me in His hands regardless of the circumstances.  I know Him.  I trust Him.  That determines my attitudes and actions, not circumstances.

 

I hope as the world seems to have turned upside down, you will place your trust in the only place where it is safe.  Then I hope you will join me in determining to rise above the fray and bring a breath of fresh air into a sticky situation.  My hope is in God, not Obama or Romney.

 

How about you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

 

 

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A Day of Rememberance

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Today is a mixed bag of feelings for me.  I remember hearing about the twin towers and then watching television for several days with tears flowing.  I learned some things that day I’d like to share.

 ♥†♥†♥†♥

1.  People will come together and help one another in crisis.

2.  People care!

3.  Some things are more important than politics and petty concerns.

4.  It does matter what you believe.

  ♥†♥†♥†♥

The first two were obvious as we watched first responders and others take their life in their hands to help others.  People across the country stepped up to the plate in a big way, then and on down the road.  In fact, we still remember and honor those who died that day.  We still follow the lives of some of those who lost parts of themselves or their loved ones in that building.

The third reminds us that all those things we worry about and argue about won’t really matter if we lose our country.  We need to stop snarking at one another and come together in an effort to save this land.  Many of us are coming together on our knees.

Fourth, we are reminded that not every belief is valid.  In the USA (and I suspect elsewhere) we’ve come to the point where we want truth to mean whatever someone wants it to.  In this case, several young men believed that they were doing a service to their god by flying those planes into buildings full of people.  In fact, they willingly martyred themselves for this belief.  I believe they had a rude awakening seconds after the planes hit or went down.  How sad.

They weren’t the only ones with a rude awakening that day.  We learned how vulnerable we are.  We learned many things, good and bad, that have changed how we view the world around us.  I hope we will all choose today to remember those lessons and seek God for the restoration of our country.  These lessons were not just those of the people of the US either.  Everyone everywhere needs to learn what we learned that day.  Their life and their eternity may depend upon it.

 ♥†♥†♥†♥

 What were you doing on this day?  What lessons did you learn?  How do you remember?

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Today is also my anniversary.  30 years!  I don’t know where the time goes, but I thank God that He knew better than I did who I needed and put us together.  I thank Him that He has kept us together through all the ups and downs.  I thank Him for teaching me some of those life lessons through my marriage.  I thank Him for teaching us what real love is through the hard times.  On September 11 of the tower tragedy, we did not celebrate.  We cried.   Today we celebrate the wonder of 30 years of life!

Brian’s mother (Ginny), the happy couple, My mother and father (Marilyn and Phil), and my son (Jason). My how life has changed 😀

Ten ways to Love: Yeah, but…

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Our 5th installment of Ten ways to love is to:  Answer without arguing. 

Proverbs 17:1  Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.  (KJV)

The Message puts it this way:  1 A meal of bread and water in contented peace is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels.

 

Argument

Argument (Photo credit: andrewmalone)

Anyone who has ever lived with an argumentative person knows exactly how true that statement is.   Have you ever known someone who couldn’t just give a simple answer?  They always have a “yeah, but…” or some other reply explaining why they are ‘special’ and your premise is wrong.  I think all of us answer with an argument at times, but the person who consistently does this is not saying, “I love you.”  They might be saying, “I’m better than you” or “I know better than you”, but not “I love you.”   I find that many of those who make this a consistent habit have no clue what they do to others.  In their mind, they really are special, know better, or simply want to make sense of the question.

English: Northern Mockingbird juveniles at a b...

English: Northern Mockingbird juveniles at a bird bath in Austin, Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do you help someone who has no clue?         I don’t know.  That’s a rhetorical question 🙂  If you have the answer, let me know!

 

Since we already know we can’t help others, we can only look at ourselves.  Do we answer with an argument or do we listen and answer without arguing?  Human beings have this unique ability.  It’s called justification.  AND–it works best when pointed at our own behavior.  I of course, never have an issue with this. . . . . ;]  but just in case someone out there does. . . .

 

Anyway, back to the topic.

I have way too many people a person in my life who cannot simply answer a question without argument, and it drives me to distraction at times.  I call her on it, but she comes back with more argument.  This leads to more drama, which leads to anything but a feeling of ‘love’.   Responses often contain “Yeah, but”, “Well, I”, “You don’t”, and “I didn’t mean to” to name a few.   I have to admit I don’t always respond well to this.  Frustration probably tops the list of emotions that pop up.  How do you communicate with someone who doesn’t really hear you?  Instead of hearing what’s said, the arguer hears something they must take exception to.  I guess it’s a form of defensiveness.  I don’t know.  I just know neither party winds up feeling very good afterwards.  Neither person feels very loved or listened to either.

 

A very simplistic example of this:  

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “But, I’m not tired!”

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “I can’t sleep if I’m not tired.”

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “Well, sissy doesn’t have to go to bed now.”

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “Can I have a drink.”

and so on.        Can anyone say distraction technique?

The major theme in this scenario is:   “I don’t have to do what you tell me because…..”

 

Pride.  Is pride at the base of the argument.  I think I could argue that it is (tongue in cheek).   Pride and love, real love, do not go together.  In fact, they are diametrically opposed, and offering argument instead of answers says, “I don’t have to” or “I know better” or, well, you get the point.

 

Now for the Vertical

Maybe you never argue instead of answering others.   But how about God?   Do you question Him when He asks you to do something?  Do you have some reason why the commands (already given in the Bible) are for someone else and not you?  After all, you’re not very good at that, or you don’t have time for that, or ….    I don’t think we mean to argue with God, but too often, we do.  We can show Him love by obeying Him without arguing.

 

Sometimes, whether vertical or horizontal, it takes a lot of hard knocks time and maturity to learn how to answer without arguing.

 

What do you think?   Do you know someone like this, and if so, how do you deal with it?  Have you changed this about yourself?  Any tips for doing so?  My posts are often quests, because I don’t know it all.  I’m always interested in how others deal with various aspects of communication, so I hope you’ll share if you have something to say. 🙂

 

 

Ten Ways to love: Accusations

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The second statement in our ‘Ten ways to love’ series is this:

Anger

Anger: an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. (Photo credit: baejaar)

2.  Speak without accusing.

The verse:  James 1:19:  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

I find this one very difficult because it’s so hard to keep accusation out at times.   Because it’s more difficult to see my own stuff, I’m afraid I will have to use what I see in others as examples here.  I am not casting the first stone, however, because I can accuse with the best of them at times.

The backhanded question

A certain person is quite good at speaking with accusation behind seemingly innocent words, usually in the form of questions.  “Why is the front door open?”  translates to “Why didn’t you shut the door, do you want to heat the whole world?”   Implied (and often spoken after the statement) is the hard work trying to earn money to pay the bills while everyone else wastes money like it grows on trees.  This is speaking with accusation.

I saw ‘evidence’ and, I know you’re guilty!

Sometimes, we speak with accusing when we haven’t received all the information needed.  This one seldom happens a LOT in relationships.  If you’ve ever caught some of the Maury Povich type shows, you see people coming on with accusation oozing out of their pores!  I saw a text on your phone, so you MUST be having an affair.  “I only slept with 5 people, but I know you’re the dad.  So why aren’t you stepping up to the plate to take care of YOUR child?”   “I saw you look at her, you don’t love me!”    And so on ad nauseam!!!  This way comes by jumping to conclusions and attacking rather than waiting for more information and strangling him in his sleep DISCUSSING it in an adult manner.

How could you?

Sometimes, in a similar vein to above, we assume another’s motives.  It’s entirely possible we’re wrong, but we think we can read minds, so….  Another person I know seems to be able to find a negative motive in most anything.  I probably attribute good motives more than I should, but I’d rather give a person a chance than to assume  wrongly.  People have different love languages (and other filters), and sometimes they mean well, even if the results are not what they intended.  For example, when my husband does something for me, like going to work every day or fixing a problem, he is saying, “I love you!”   Because I did not understand this for a few years, I attributed wrong motives and didn’t believe he loved me.  I was wrong and caused a lot of heartache to myself and him.   Sometimes we can just accept people, and their motives, at face value.

A Person (Man) exclaiming something

A Person (Man) exclaiming something (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Political Debates gone wrong

If you’ve ever watched a debate, and I use that term loosely.  How often do you hear accusations flying?  Uh, yeah, all the time!  Rather than defending one’s own take on the issues, deflection techniques muddy the waters.  Personally, I would rather hear what a candidate believes than the mistakes of his/her opponent.   A person that can stick with the issues and not get sucked into the vortex of distraction gets my respect.  This type of conversation (no matter who is doing the ‘debating’) should keep the focus on the person speaking and not the other person through accusation and idiocy.

The Children

We do this to children all the time.  They bring us a flower and we yell at them for picking it.  They want to hug us, but we accuse them of ‘bugging’ us or being to clingy.

The rest of the story

If you read the next verse in James, it says, ”

20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

 

I memorized this scripture many years ago and use it often to remind me that my anger, accusations, judgments, etc. do not work God’s righteousness.  In fact, they often get in the way and turn others away from God.  In order to show love, it is necessary to tame that tongue and give thought to our words before we allow them out of our mouth.  No one is perfect, but sometimes that extra second of thought will save some heartache for all.

Have you ever jumped to conclusions and wrongly accused someone?   Have you rightly accused them, but to the relationship’s detriment due to the way you handled it?  Have you attributed negative motives to someone and accused them by word or deed?  Do you distract through accusation in a fight, debate, discussion, argument?  Have you brushed a child aside and spoken with accusation to them?  What are some other ways we speak with accusing?

Communication busters: How do you treat those with whom you disagree?

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Today I read a post from a man I “met” on facebook and admire greatly.  It got me thinking, and I want to share it with you.  His first line:
As we’ve discussed before, how often do we or others tend to dismiss others (now-a-days calling them dumb or stupid or worse) if they disagree with us, especially about issues we are passionate about?  I frequently run into people on the internet who will absolutely act like I am the worst person in the world because I have an opinion they disagree with.  So what?  Do you agree with everyone you know?  If you are hanging out only with people who agree with you, you are in big trouble.  We need others in our life to debate with over the issues.   For the Christian, it is even more important to beware of this tendency.  God gave us free will, so we have the right to be wrong.  He may not remove the consequences for our choices, but He will not force us to jump on board either.  (See the discussion on freedom in Part V of the It’s all about the heart series.)
What God sees
God looks beyond the bluster and sees the heart.  If the person is genuine,  their belief system doesn’t make them horrible people.  God loves us in all our sin, and He wants us to show that love in how we interact with those who disagree with us.  That doesn’t mean we have to agree with them.  It does mean we need to treat them with love and absolute respect.  We all have many parts to us.  We all have flaws.  We all believe things that are not true or that others believe are not true.  Instead of tossing a person out as ‘unworthy’ because of something you don’t like, love them anyway and agree to disagree.  My favorite verse, Romans 5:8, says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  If God loves us in all our sin, we must show love to others as well.  God loves sinners.  He doesn’t like sin, but He does love sinners.  I, for one, am SO glad He does!  Sometimes finding common ground can help us see beyond the conflict to the heart of this person.
“While we were  yet sinners, . . . .”

How can others see Christ in us unless we show love?  We do not have to agree with someone to love them.  We do not have to approve of their opinions, values, beliefs or actions to love them.   True love shows respect, even in the midst of the most extreme disagreements.
What do others see in you?
When people interact with you, do they see something different?  Does the love of Christ shine out in how you treat them?  Or, do you give them reinforcement that Christians are rabid haters?  Even taking Christianity out of the equation – do you show yourself as a person worthy of respect by treating others with respect?  How do you feel when others respond in rage to everything you say?  How do you feel when others call you names or curse at you because you don’t believe as they do?  This is a good place to trot out   apply the golden rule:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  We also need to be aware of the minimize mine/maximize yours effect and keep our own backyard clean not spend all our time criticizing the leaves in the neighbor’s yard if ours is full of garbage.
Be a diligent seeker
If we have in the back forefront of our mind that our goal is to bring glory to Christ, not to win an argument, we should do well.  As a Christian, you may be the only Christ others see – you want to come as close to the real thing as possible.  Even if you are not a Christian, you represent yourself and possibly others.  What others think may not be important to you, but you don’t want to drive away those who could enhance your life.  Character, integrity and honor are characteristics everyone should strive for.   For the Christian, it is even more important to represent Christ in a way that draws others instead of turning them away.
What it’s all about

The world’s mentality is often:  please me!  For the Christian, however, the mentality and the driving force should be: please Christ!  The picture I chose for this section is “God’s Garden”, and it was chosen for a reason.  We are all part of God’s garden.  He planted us, sustains us, and harvests us.   Plants tend to grow toward the light, and we should do the same.  If our face is always turned toward the sun/Son, as we seek the warmth of His love.  Just like a child seeks to please the parent, we seek to please our heavenly Father.   We need to remember the other flowers are watching too, whether from the church garden or the worlds. None of us are perfect, but we can do better than what is often found out there today.  It’s about that diligent seeking.

A huge thank you to Al Hartman for your inspiration for this post and permission to quote you.

Do you treat people with respect and dignity, even when they don’t agree with you?

Why do you think this is important?

How do you handle it when others treat you with disrespect?

Why do you think people treat others who disagree with them with disrespect?

If you are a Christian, what have you done to reflect Christ?

What are some things you have seen Christians do or say to reflect Christ (+) or gave Him a black eye (-). 

Up is down

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Two things have happened recently that made me angry.  I’m going to tell you what they are, and then I’m going to tell you the real reason I’m upset about it.  It’s really not about the happenings at all, but what it says about our society.

Meet the Nazis: # 1

That word may be a little right-on-the money over-the-top, but some people take things way too far.  Somewhere in my world recently, a lady decided to take someone else to task publicly because of a paper towel.  The statement did NOT need made in the context, but the person had to get their digs in that they are better than others because they would not support a less-green option.  My first thought was “get over yourself!”  But in today’s world, we see this more and more.

It’s not easy being green

Taking care of our world is a God-given responsiblilty.  However, some have stepped over the line and made it more like a religion than a philosophy.  They think they have the right to shoot the infidels censor everyone around them and hate chastise look down on others who are not as “green” as they.  How arrogant, but that’s not the only reason this infuriates causes concern.

Meet the Nazis:  # 2

Watching an entertainment ‘news’ a show the other night where they were disecting Paula Deen.  Paula has a cooking show on down-home, stick-to-your-ribs, full of good stuff food.  This is an entertainment venue, and Paula repeatedly states that she does not eat like that in her every day life. {My husband loves her, and I’m too busy writing to complain and turn the channel.}  Anyway, two women were discussing Deen’s recent ‘come out’ about having diabetes.  One was totally trashing her for being a bad example…..   It really does not matter what her reasoning was.  What does matter is that she came across as someone who wanted Paula tarred-and-feathered  dipped-in-honey-and staked-to-an-ant-hill  excommunicated, uhm, castigated for her heinous act of cooking food that tastes great but is “bad” for you, while keeping her diabetes a secret.

It’s not easy being perfect

Good grief woman.  She did not steal the crown jewels or kill someone.  Talk about over-kill.  I don’t care if Paula Deen wants to cook with fat and butter on her real-life ENTERTAINMENT show.  I don’t care what she chooses to eat in her real life.  She can eat what she wants and cook what she wants – Diabetic or not – it is her choice.  I understand there’s more to it than that, but this woman was just way too rabid about something that really doesn’t matter in the larger scheme of things.  Don’t like it?  Then don’t support her, but don’t flog her at the post of public opinion, expecting her to crawl under a rock and hide in shame for the rest of her life.  Get over yourself!  Guess what?  I am smart enough to know not to eat like that on a regular basis.

So what’s the real deal?

The real deal is that this is common fare today.  Up is down, black is white, good is bad….  There are so many issues that really matter.  Do we really need to run other people’s lives and sit in judgement on things that are really more personal than public?   It’s ok to have sex with anyone and everyone whenever you want – don’t judge that!  It’s ok to trash others in order to get ahead – don’t judge that!  It’s OK to abort babies – don’t judge that!  Don’t call something a sin – don’t judge that!  Don’t do anything at all to make someone wake up to reality ‘uncomfortable’ – don’t judge that!  We have to be politically correct; we are expected to hide our religious beliefs and practices because others don’t like it; we are called names and worse if we dare stand up against such things as abortion or sodomy or drama (backbiting/slander/gossip/etc.) or polygamy or …..

That’s another post.  I hope, whether you agree with me on certain issues or not, you can see that our values have become skewed.  Many tout out that “do not judge” statement, but God did not say “do not judge” out of context.  He said:  “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”  John 7:24   In other words, we are to judge with a pure heart, with nobleness, honesty and justice, making sure our own back yard is clean before trying to help others clean out their’s.  We aren’t to judge motives and we are not to judge as if we are better than others.  We are to judge with discernment.

A really good  assessment of the Biblical mandate about judging can be found here.

The point is that society has tilted and expends way too much energy on side issues and distractors, becoming almost rabid in their desire to slam those who don’t “measure up” to their self-righteous standards, while leaving alone the things that matter.

Pulling in my claws  stepping off my soap-box  Finished with my diatribe, I will leave it up to you what to make of this post.  I’d love to know what you think, so take time to comment if you please.  Hate mail may be sent to my e-mail which you should be able to easily find here somewhere.  It is public on this site.  If  you can’t find it, ask me for it in comments.

The three deadliest words in the world

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The three deadliest words in the world :  “It’s a girl!”

When I read the above article this morning, Ann Marie Dwyer’s post on “Going Global” the other day.  She discusses the continued senseless deaths from poverty all over the world and encourages us to do our part.

Zionica states that, “India and China are said to eliminate more female infants than the number of girls born in the US each year.” and quote one woman who confesses to getting rid of 8 baby girls!

I understand the culture values males, and even understand somewhat the reasoning behind it, but I do not understand senseless slaughter of girls, from pre-born to adult, as if they are a n0n-valuable, throw-a-way, unwanted trash.

It is sad that people are dying every day from poverty and its resultant diseases.  It’s even more sad that people deliberately take the lives of children because they are not seen as valuable.

In the US and elsewhere, the selection process for deciding which children to have and which to abort is different.  You may make the cut if you’re a girl, but what if you have a disability or you are inconvenient?

How sad; how sad; how sad.

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