For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
I have so many issues with the church's screaming, "Grace!" when it should be screaming, "New life!" Jesus doesn't save so we can stay the same marriage-killing, family-massacring, self-centered dark hole we've always been. Salvation isn't just so we can get out of hell or so we live for eternity. Salvation is so we can quit being the mess we've always been controlled by the same miserable mindsets right here and right now. Any pastor or church that does not teach the power of a life-changed and the responsibility to seek that and live it will be held accountable for the carnage wreaked by an enemy that was never confronted on a corporate or individual level. I keep seeing so many "faith" groups excusing flesh-living because "grace covers you". I don't see that in the Bible. What I see in the Bible is a call to holy living because Jesus' blood bought you.
And why is living like Christ seen as a burden we are afraid to impose on people? It's a promise we should be wildly excited to offer people! Think about it. He never felt anxious or overwhelmed. He wasn't controlled by extraneous schedules or demands. He walked in peace. He loved deeply. He had purpose. He didn't let haters change His feelings or life plan. He knew He was loved. He was a great leader. He made a difference. He knew when to rest. He was content, joyful, and loved. He never felt awkward with people but could talk to the "low" and "high" of society with equal ease. He knew whatever He needed would be there right when He needed it. He didn't take things personally. He was at complete ease being Himself.
Why in the world would we not want EVERYONE to have that even if it means telling them the lies they are clinging to now won't get it for them? Why in the world would we let someone drown because we are afraid of saying, "That 100 pound weight your carrying won't get you to the beach. You'll have to let it go in order to get in the lifeboat?"
Once we are back in the house, we get warm, butt the warmest part are the hugs and the thanks because, "You're the greatest mom ever." And they know we have the greatest life ever and the greatest family ever, and even when the memories of the details fade, the fact that their mom who hates the cold loves them enough to wander out in it with them.
Okay, I gotta tell you. It all sounds all Waltons, but the truth is, I really, REALLY wanted to stay in where it was warm and say, "I'll go out next time." I mean, really, is it that big of a deal? And isn't it just as good next time? Do we really have to do this right now?
It was a wondrous day. A perfect day.
A hard day.
Not just because sleds crash, but because sometimes, life does.
While we walked out the door, he drove up the street.
He brought the gloves and hats the kids had left at his place earlier in the week. He stayed long enough to take a trip or two down the hill and hand out a few hugs.
Monday, February 23, 2015
There was a church we attended for several months where no one spoke to us before services. We'd get there a bit early, have a seat, and no one spoke to us. Straight up? There have been times in my life when silence in a church felt crushing, when I had gone with just one prayer, "God, does it even matter if I'm here?" Or, "Can you please have someone notice me?" And it was CRUSHING when no one did. So, the kids and I were the anti-crushing. In fact,we decided to be the ones who were the answer to prayers like those.
I had the goal of meeting every single person who was sitting by him-/herself. I never did. I don't think I ever got more than 5 people in before I asked, "So how was your week?" (Fine,because we are in church and everyone is always fine in church) "Yeah, what happened?" And next thing you know, I'd be sitting on a chair by them, listening to the story of the so-not-remotely-fine week, sometimes getting a Kleenex, sometimes just listening...usually stopping because the worship music gets so loud we can't really talk anymore.
If I had it to do NOW, I'd just invite them out to the foyer to have a seat, talk some more, and pray. But even with just listening until the music started, I have no clue how many, but the majority, of people said something like, "I came to church asking God to show me He cared. Thank you."
People are not just looking for loving kindness, they are praying for it.
Jesus is the answer. How about letting Him answer through you?
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Tonight, though, in my room it is warm and cozy.
WonderBoy has taken up residence on the other side of my king size bed, and WonderGirl and her fave poodle are camped on the other side of the footboard. Thankfully, twin size mattresses are easy to pick up and move. A few feet from her, our tiny poodle and medium size Deagle are camped on a bed of their own. Well, for now the tiny poodle is on the bed, but I have a feeling as soon as WonderGirl gets still, she'll have another buddy on that mattress.
And right now, this is my absolute favorite place on earth.
Nearly a year ago, my king size mattress gave up the mattress springs, and I really considered giving up the frame to match because being just me, I don't need a bed that big. Except there are nights like tonight, when it isn't just me, and a full-size mattress wouldn't be room enough for a man-in-the-growing and me, too.
And the way to making a great life is making space for the important things...for the important people.
Some might argue these almost adults are too old to be sleeping with their mom. Goes to show what they know. Tonight none of us are adults, and none of us are kids. We are simply family. We are hearts and souls made to love and be loved who find peace and joy in each other's presence, and the presence happens to be in my room right now.
And oh my lands, but it is gift.
This is the good stuff.
Friday, February 20, 2015
Today is sandy.
Today the sand blows hard and cuts deep in the form of hoped for things vaporizing before my eyes, people giving their word and not keeping it, doors that looked so open slamming closed, and a slew of other things that really just make me blink back tears. Yeah, today looks a lot like a sandstorm that darkens the sky and leaves me choking for air.
And I'm being straight up honest with you when I tell you I am lost. I have no bearings, and it wouldn't matter because with all the vaporizing and slamming of doors, I don't know what I'm walking toward. Right now, I don't doubt God speaks, but I doubt how well I hear.
Right now, it feels easy to lie down and let the sand simply overtake a body because what do when you have nowhere to go?
You sit down.
And write in the sand.
Today, I'm writing...
Lord, I know you are good.
I know you love me.
I know you have not abandoned me or rejected me.
I know you have a big picture...it would be nice if you shared it.
But even if you don't,
I still know you are good.
I know you love me.
I know forbearance is hard and that is why people give up their seed. Help me not give up my seed.
I know your eyes roam about the earth looking for those who are searching for you.
I know you are working to get me out of the desert, and even though I think a teleporter would be great right now, you know what I don't. But this I do know...
I know you are good.
And what happens if this sandstorm blows the writing away...because sometimes it does...
I'll write it again.
Lord, I know you are good.
I know you love me.
Please help me trust your heart because right now, I only feel my pain.
I know you are for me.
I know this is only a sandstorm, but you are the foundation on which I stand.
And you are good.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
So two years ago when I felt like the Lord called me to participate in Lent, I explained to Him that I didn't need to be reminded what a failure I am. I already get that. I don't need fasting to show me how utterly miserable and whiny I can be about my comfort zone or chocolate supply being disrupted. I'm painfully aware of that as well. And really, I was not in a place where I needed to feel more miserable about life or myself.
He was relentless in His request that I participate in Lent, and He said simply, "If Lent is about me, why don't you ask me how I want you to celebrate Lent?"
I then spent 40 days studying 1 Corinthians 13 because if the goal of Lent is to prepare a soul for the death and resurrection of Christ, then the goal of Lent has got to be love. It wasn't our depravity that put Christ on a cross. It wasn't some sadistic desire to upset our comfort zone. It was love that put Christ on the cross. John 3:16 says it plain as anything, "For God so LOVED that He sent His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
The crucifixion and resurrection are the gift. Lent should prepare our hearts for the gift.
So I spent 40 days studying about love and the gift of a love...and how Christ wanted me to love myself.
It sounds selfish, but it was a season. It was a step in the recreating and restoring of a life shattered, and now that life is solid.
And really, I'm not thrilled about the idea of Lent again. Except I keep remembering how it spilled out of those 40 days right into my living room of the house the Lord moved us to...literally.
The home we bought is a HUD home, stripped bare, even some of the light fixtures mixing. If it could be removed, it was, except for this one absurd thing. When you walk in the front door, just to the right, it starts. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal..."
And it continues all the way around the room to the other edge of the door.
The one removable thing that was not removed.
The one thing dying on the cross could not kill.
This year I had not planned to observe Lent because nothing in particular came to mind as a means of participation, and once again, I have a enough failings to keep me falling on my knees. I don't need another failure.
Except love never fails.
So this Lent, I'm asking a simple question...
If the gift is love...and love never fails...
If I don't want to fail in preparing to receive the gift...in fully knowing Jesus...I have to know something very important...
How do I fail to love?
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Today I'm camped on the couch dealing with sinus issues that arise periodically. Between the draining sludge and all the meds running through my system, I am mostly sedentary. When I stand up, the room spins and my stomach rolls, and it is better for me to lie here and drink lots of fluids. WonderBoy helped me out and made my lunch. A can of beef and vegetable soup. He gave me part of it in a bowl, and I ate it all, put the bowl down, and dropped off to sleep. When I woke up, I needed more to drink, and as I passed by the stove, I saw the rest of the soup sitting in a sauce pain.
And I thought of Mom.
Today I would love to have some of her chicken and dumplings because those always feel good on my sore throat, but more than that, I would love to have her.
I would love for her perfume to fill my house.
I would love to talk and hear her laugh.
I would love to see her smile.
I would love to hug her. She gave amazing hugs.
I would love to simply have her here.
There are so many things I want to tell her, so much I understand now that I didn't understand then. I understand the strength it took to come home from a long day at work and make a meal every night for a family that took it for granted that she would do it.
I understand being a woman and how life doesn't go like you plan and how easy it is to make mistakes.
I understand wanting to get it right and the pain of getting it wrong and hurting those you love.
I understand that love covers a multitude of sins but it doesn't keep us from sinning against those we love most...even when we wish desperately that it would.
I understand choices she made and why.
And if I could tell her anything, I'd tell her I understand, and in case she wonders, I forgive everything I thought she did wrong...and everything she wished she had done better. I would tell her we are okay because I choose for us to be okay. I choose to admire her for her strength and her fortitude. I choose to be grateful for the things she did right.
I grew up in a time when parents were blamed for everything, and all they did was put under a microscope and picked apart and all their failures mentally recorded in great detail so therapists could get rich on those damning lists of sins. People remember the soup left on the stove that was no longer good to eat when they wanted it and forget that the soup was heated by a mom who stayed home from work and missed a day's wage to take care of a sick child. They never consider the mental turmoil of facing those lost wages and figuring out whether to pay the electric bill and eat beans and rice that no one liked for a week and listen to how tired of beans and rice people were or try to buy other food and figure out how to still keep the electric on.
It's easy to remember the sins, but it takes a decision to remember the sacrifice.
My mom was far from perfect. She said and did some deeply hurtful things that laid a horrific foundation for my identity and eradicated my sense of worth and value for a long time.
But here is the thing, my mom does not get to choose my identity. I do, and I choose an identity that does not hold on to the sins and the anger that comes with them. I choose not build a prison of anger and resentment founded on what a broken person did. If my identity is based on the actions of a broken person, doesn't that make me broken, too?
Instead, I choose to be one who forgives because I pray to God for my kids to forgive me. I choose to be grateful for her staying home and making the soup. I choose to remember the tone of her voice, the one that said she really did want to get it right, even the small things like soup when I was sick, and was sorry when she didn't. I choose to remember the smell of her perfume instead of the smell of her cigarettes.
Some would say I'm recreating her to make her the mom I wanted. No. I am fully aware of the hurtful things she did, and I could regale you with a list of the ways she was not the mom I wanted, but I choose to be grateful for the mom I really believe she wanted to be, and the mom she wanted to be was there when I needed her, providing what I needed when I needed it. And for that, I'm grateful.
Monday, February 2, 2015
As I mentioned briefly in my second post, she called and apologized for offending me, and she explained her intentions in bringing up the topic with the kids. What was right with that? Several things.
First, she followed biblical principles in calling me to talk to me about the issue. I don't know how she even know about the blog post because we aren't Facebook friends and she isn't a typical blog reader. I don't know if she even knew who I was before this morning, which speaks even more to her character, in my opinion. She could have blown me off. She really had nothing to lose if she did. I certainly am not leaving my church because someone talked about Groundhog's Day. Honestly, she had nothing to lose if she didn't say a thing. She could have taken the coward's way out, but she didn't. She took the road of character instead. She called this person she didn't know to apologize for something she never thought would mean anything. Gives me a good idea of why she is one of the leaders. Leaders are more interested in creating unity than defending their rights. She could have told me all the reasons she had every right to say what she did. Instead, she told me how sorry she was I was offended. That is godly character.
Whichever leader read the blog could have blown me off and not told her about. I mean really. How many people read this blog anyway, and how significant am I in the big scheme of things? She's a leader in the church, and I'm...not. Could have been really easy to ignore the blog, say nothing, and let it go away, but someone didn't. Someone felt it was important to value this lady, who deserved the right to give her side, and me. I think this person also values the church. After all the church isn't a building, it's the people in it. Seems to me someone values unity among the body enough to address the issues with honor and dignity so family stays family.
Third, the lady explained to me why she brought up Groundhog's Day. She was trying to make conversation. The kids are in public school, and the topic would come up during the week (today as it turns out), and it was something to talk about. Now, the hardcore religious side of me wants to rise up and ask, "Really? And that is the best you had?" But let me give you reality of this. At least she tried. I sat in my chair listening to someone else's conversations and didn't engage anyone. She looked at this population of people that goes unnoticed and unaddressed by adults until they do something wrong and get in trouble, and she was earnestly interested. SHE TRIED. It's easy for me to find fault with her effort from my place in the cheap seats, but let me tell you something. If you asked God today which one of us looked more like Jesus, I have a feeling He'd say it was the one who went after the sheep, and that wasn't me.
I still have issues with the church's acceptance of pagan and humanistic holidays, philosophies, and beliefs, but I also have issue with someone who sits on her butt on a padded chair in "the safe zone" and finds fault with someone's efforts to love people and risks getting it wrong. Some days I make myself sick.
And all of this has left me challenged.
I could have written that first blog better. It came out sounding like an attack on her, and that really isn't what I intended. It was badly done, but I'm leaving it up there so people can see I really don't have it all together and am in desperate need of grace and forgiveness all the time, and if God can use this muddy mess, He can use anyone.
I'm also challenged to listen carefully to the Spirit concerning anything I say that gives glory or power to anyone or anything besides God. I prayed that prayer in earnest, not just because I like to sound profound and eloquent. No point praying if I am not going to listen to Him answer.
Also, the Bible says to be prepared in season and out. I don't remember the rest of the verse, but right now, that seems pertinent enough. At church this morning I wasn't prepared to engage the kids. I've never been prepared to engage the kids. This week I need to be in prayer concerning things to talk with them about. But even beyond them, what about the people in line at the grocery store? Standing in the elevator? On the other side of the gas pump? In a world where people are so detached and feel so isolated, could I really make a difference by simply starting a conversation, asking about their day, be interested in who they are? Seems too simple. Okay, it already feels awkward, but Jesus talked to a tax collector in a tree...and the town trash at the well...and...It worked for Him. This conversation starting simply because He was there and the other person was there and after all, they were divine appointments, weren't they? Maybe some of these people I watch pass by in silence are souls wanting to be found? Maybe they don't know how to reach God, so God wants to reach them through me. I guess I'll open up a conversation and see.
Finally, in the midst of writing this, I've called the lady back (nope, still not giving her name) and talked some more. It was a good talk, and we're fine. Actually, it was good because I understand her heart, and maybe she understands mine, and while we came at this issue from two different perspectives and with different passions, we agree that both are important. What Satan meant for destruction God is using for growth in both of us, and you know what happens when children of God talk through their differences (real or perceived) and grow? He gets glorified. And that is always good stuff.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
She said nothing. People who know your heart know when to just hear it.
"Today, I want to cry." I relayed the story about the groundhog. "It wasn't really about the groundhog. It's about the church. We are watching the world go to hell in a handbasket, and we are looking to groundhogs to predict the weather, reading horoscopes to predict our days, looking to crystals to heal our bodies, and asking people to tell us the future based on lines on our hands. We wish people luck and write off answered prayers as coincidence. None of that is in the Bible, but what can it hurt? I mean, we created Christmas so we were more in line with the pagans of the day, and we throw eggs and a bunny into Easter, and then there is a jolly old guy who doesn't really care if your good or bad as long as you aren't THAT bad, and if he that good, surely God is, too, and we get so caught up in asking him for what we want that we forget Christmas is about the gift of Christ, not the gifts that feed our selfishness. But really, it's not that big a deal, right? I mean, what do those things really hurt?"
And that is how it happens. That is how truth gets watered down until we cross our fingers or knock on wood (which is a pagan thing, btw) or hope for good luck, and we look to some unidentified "fate" instead of humbling ourselves and seeking God Almighty.
In my last post, my issue wasn't with the woman who said those things. I don't know her, but I will say she called to apologize for offending me. I wasn't offended by her. I'm offended by the church. I'm offended by the superstitions we let run amuck and write off as "harmless".
Anything that takes focus off God is not harmless.
Anything we ascribe any kind of power to that is not God is not harmless.
Anything we put hope in other than God is not harmless.
Anything we put the tiniest bit of trust in that is not God is not harmless.
Do you know what the Bible calls the horoscopes, crystals, diving rods, reading your palm, and all that other stuff? Divination. It's witchcraft.
In Galatians 5 is says:
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Maybe I'm a bit overly dramatic, but consulting horoscopes and psychics and crystals and so forth can keep someone out of heaven, it sounds pretty harmful in my world.
No. That woman today didn't offend me. What offends me is the church's yelling, "Grace! Grace!" while refusing to yell, "Holy! Holy!" because it might isolate people. Interestingly, I never saw where Jesus compromised truth to connect with the lost. I have never read where He said, "Zaccheus! It's your lucky day, man. I'm going home with you." I don't recall His looking at the Samaritan woman at the well and saying, "What a coincidence seeing you here." Instead, He said, "I came here...on purpose...to find...you." Get the difference?
God is a God of purpose, not luck.
He is a God of sovereignly, not coincidence.
He alone is past, present, and future.
He is the only rock where you'll find healing.
And the only power in the universe that matters is in Him.
I serve the Almighty God who created the universe with the power of His words in six days and rested on the seventh. He sent His Son with full power to heal, restore, redeem, raise from the dead, and to save souls for eternity. The Holy Spirit is the power of God for every believer to do even more than Christ did. Everything I need or want is found in Him.
When is the body of Christ going to quit giving that glory to other things and calling it harmless?
And how can giving the glory of God to anything but Him be considered anything less than offensive? And I don't mean offensive to me...but to Him?
I prayed this prayer early this morning before I left for church. I prayed what I felt the Spirit speak to my heart.
At church I listened to the wife of one of our leaders ask the children, "Do you know what tomorrow is?"
"Monday?" was my thought.
"Groundhog Day. So we have to see if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow so we know if we have more winter or not."
This is the teacher of the children at our church, and she is teaching the kids to believe a rodent has the power to predict the weather.
She then spoke with one of the adults and said, "I love Groundhog's Day. I think it is important for them to have something to hold onto."
We take our children to a church that professes Christ as Savior, Healer, Redeemer, and King, and we think we need to give them a groundhog to hold onto?
I can already hear some people saying, "Well, that's not what she really meant."
Then what did she mean? She told these kids to put their trust in the ability of a rodent to predict the weather because she thinks they need something to hold onto....while we are at a church where we are supposed to be teaching our kids to put their trust in no one but Christ.
And I'm wondering, do these "harmless" superstitions and habits lead our kids to believe in something besides Christ? And if we really, honestly believe Christ is the answer to how to live, what to do, and who to trust, why do we even look at horoscopes, fortune cookie predictions, or groundhogs?
Why would we ever offer anything else to hold onto except Him?