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What Have You Done Today?

fullsizeoutput_97ccMany years ago when my husband and I went through counseling to try to firm up some sagging places in our marriage, our counselor told him that when he came home from work, my husband was not allowed to ask me what I had done that day.

We had small children at that point, and I was volunteering at our eldest’s parent-involved school 2 days a week. I was lucky to get dinner on the table each day.

I am not a high-energy person when it comes to physical labor. I can’t work in the hot Florida sun for more than about an hour before I’m just done. My husband can go on for hours at a time.

Sometimes I feel guilty for being inside in the air conditioning. Maybe I’m reading a book. Maybe I’m playing a mindless game. Or maybe I’m working on my computer, actually accomplishing something.

Wait, what was that I just said?

That’s exactly the problem. If I’m just resting or reading or playing, I have the mindset that I’m not ACCOMPLISHING anything.fullsizeoutput_97cd

And that needs to change.

There’s a saying: God made us human BEings, not human DOings.

Yes, there are chores that need to be done. But sometimes just BEing takes precedence.

 

This post is a part of the Five-Minute Friday link up. Join the fun! Today’s prompt is “done.”

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Waiting For Rescue

thai diver

TimesofIsrael.com/AFP PHOTO / YE AUNG THU

All eyes are on Thailand as rescue attempts continue for 12 young boys and their soccer coach trapped deep in a cave. Monsoon season is upon that land and there are warning signs up to not explore the caves during the rainy season.

We could be saying they got what they deserved. Why did they make such a dumb decision?

But we don’t say that. We pray. And we watch. We follow the reports and we hope for the best possible outcome. We feel the parents’ anguish as they wait for news. We applaud the bravery of the rescuers.

Thai parents

Las Vegas Review Journal (reviewjournal.com)/AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

And we have hope. So far, 8 have been brought out of their cavernous confines. 1 rescuer has died. 5 still wait and hope.

Remember in 2010 when 33 Chilean miners were rescued from their collapsed mine where they had been trapped for 69 days? 69 days.

People around the world cheered when the first miner was taken out. We were so grateful they were all safe and well.

And most of us didn’t even know them.

Even before that, in October of 1987, 18-month-old Jessica McClure was rescued from a well in her aunt’s backyard after 58 consecutive hours of efforts by rescuers. “I had God on my side that day,” Jessica says in a 2017 issue of PEOPLE. “My life is a miracle.”

Both the miners’ story and that of baby Jessica were made into movies.

And now, the world is focused on Thailand and 13 human beings who had to have wondered if they were going to survive. 8 are out. 5 more to go.

thai shoes

trtworld.com/Thai News Pix via AP /AP

When a British diver finally found them, they were so happy and asked if they were going to be taken out that day. Unfortunately, their deliverance is going to take time. Food and medical care were delivered to them.

And hope. Hope was brought in that day.

In the early days after they were located, some were predicting they may have to stay in that cave until monsoon season is over. You know how long that is?

4 months.

Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Darkness. Fear. Depleting air supply. Little food. All these things have confronted these boys and young men. But they have had each other to encourage and talk to and hold onto hope with.

As one by one their teammates and companions have been taken to the surface, how must those who are still waiting feel? Is excitement building or is anxiety riding right behind?

Will they make it out alive? Will they come back for me?  Who will be the last one left?

And so we pray.

You are seen. You are loved. You are not alone.

thai rescuers

kare11.com

We hope for your rescue because we ourselves are in need of rescuing from the kingdom of darkness.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Colossians 1:13).

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” (Matthew 18:12).

 

 

What If?

What if I wasn’t afraid of what other people would think?

What if I wasn’t afraid?

IMG_0668What if I was more daring, more adventurous?

What if I wasn’t afraid of failing?

What if I truly trusted what I was hearing God say?

What if I took that trip? Talked to that person? Sent that email? Wrote that book?

What if I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God would be there whatever I tried?

Even if I did fail.

Even if I got lost along the way.

Even if nobody cared what I had to say.fullsizeoutput_7d98

What if I said something kind to that person who looks so sad?

What if I gave up everything and followed Jesus wherever He led me?

What if I never had any regrets?

Made any mistakes.

Loved and lost.

Sometimes clouds create the most beautiful sunsets.

FullSizeRenderSee that stunning rainbow?

Yep, it had to rain.

There is no growth where there is no trial.

No lessons learned where there have been no failed attempts.

 

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up “If.” Join the fun!

Rainbow photo courtesy of KehauClassicsPhotography.

To “Infinity War” and Beyond

infinity warMy family and I are big fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (hereafter referred to simply as the MCU). We’ve seen every one of the movies and now own them all as well. We laughed the most during Thor’s flicks, cheered the most during “Black Panther” and watched in expectation for what would happen to our heroes in the most recent “Infinity War.”

If you haven’t seen the latest movie and plan to, you might want to save this post for later, although I won’t give any major spoilers.

I think there is something in the heart of every man that wants evil to be vanquishable. We want to know that the good guys will win. When that doesn’t happen (apparently, as in the case of “Infinity War”), we’re disappointed, some even to the point of despair.

In the MCU, we know that the heroes are fallible. At least most of them are. I’d like to think Captain America is about as perfect as they come. Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, along with Dr. Stephen Strange and Quill, who prefers to be called Star Lord, battle a fierce pride that makes them think they are better than everyone else. Therefore working together as a team is difficult for them.

Natalie (Black Widow) has major skeletons in her closet that have only been hinted at so far. Dr. Bruce Banner, well, his issues are hulking.

Yet we know that they have the good of others at the heart of everything they do. When the Avengers team seemed to be split in the aptly named “Civil War,” the big question was whether the good of the few outweighed the good of the many. Throughout their time together, the Avengers have battled with whether their saving a society while losing individual members has been worth it.

Tony made his decision in wake of the disaster that Wanda (the Scarlet Witch) instigated that took many innocent lives. Though completely unintended, Wanda’s actions caused the deaths of many even though it also prevented worldwide annihilation.

Collateral damage. It happens when you’re trying to save the world.

So that’s what makes Thanos such a disturbing villain.thanos

He is seemingly unbeatable. While his backstory may try to make us believe that he is a sympathetic character simply trying to find a way to save civilizations around the universe, his super-sized ego is completely out of control.

And that makes him very dangerous.

Wiping out half the populations of every civilization isn’t really murder, it’s actually compassion. People are starving and suffering because of over population. Cutting the number of citizens in half will allow everyone to prosper and live better lives.

Thanos believes it without pause. When his minions walk through towns after the purge has happened, they declare how blessed everyone is to be “saved” by such a gracious lord as Thanos. What great mercy has been shown to them. Nevermind that they’ve just lost half their civilization. It’s out of great love that this has been done for them.

The movie doesn’t seem to show that anyone is actually believing this nonsense, but they are incapable of doing anything about it. Thanos cannot be stopped.

And that’s what makes this movie so hard to handle. If I didn’t know a part 2 was coming, this would be one of the only Marvel movies I didn’t want to own.
avengers-infinity-war-ht-jpo-171128_16x9_992
We can feel that way about evil in the real world sometimes. Why do the wicked seem to prosper?

In Psalm 73:3, the worship leader Asaph laments that very point. “For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (English Standard Version). He goes on to describe how good things continually happen to them. They are fat and happy. 

And he despaired.

But then he went into the sanctuary of God. He spent time with Him. And there he learned the truth. “Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin” (Ps. 73:18, ESV). He discerns that the end is coming for those who are wicked. He knows God is good and that in the end, God wins. Good will triumph.

Hold on to hope. In the midst of an evil and perverse generation, when it seems evil cannot be vanquished, Jesus is there.

And Thanos doesn’t stand a chance.

Can’t wait for part 2.

images from: imdb.com (The Avengers poster); digitalspy.com (Thanos); abcnews.go.com (The Avengers group)

Sweet Surprise

secret_surprise_2For my 30th birthday, my husband threw me a surprise party. We went out to dinner and were just planning on going home and hanging out. This was before we had kids, just 9 months after we had gotten married and 4 months after we had moved to Florida from my home state of California. Needless to say, my stress level was very high, even though some of those events were good ones. Like the getting married part.

When we got to our apartment, I was met with a sweet group of friends all gathered to celebrate my day. It was truly a surprise, which is often hard to pull off, and a lovely reminder of how much I am loved.

Those kinds of surprises are great. Others, not so much. Like when your favored team loses to a major underdog in the surprise performance of the century (looking at you Virginia). I don’t like those kinds of surprises.

C.S. Lewis wrote a book back in 1955 titled Surprised by Joy, which tells the story of his conversion to Christianity. Although he says it’s much less a chronology of events than it is a look at his life as only C.S. Lewis can tell it.

Surprise. Something unexpected.

I remember when my kids were little and I wanted them to keep a secret about secretsomething, like a gift for someone, I would tell them it was going to be a surprise rather than a secret, because I wanted to ensure that they didn’t keep secrets. I knew the stories of abuse that have happened with a relative who would tell a vulnerable child that this behavior would be their secret. They weren’t ever to keep secrets from us.

But surprises are meant to be fun. I like to think of them as good. I think that’s what Lewis found as he came up with the name for his book. He was an atheist. He didn’t know what he would find when he turned back to God. Joy was unexpected.

In some cases, we may wonder why we are surprised at the things God does. We ask Him joyto provide, and He does it. Sometimes it’s not in the way we expect, so we can call that a surprise, but not the fact that He does it.

It’s not the same as being startled.

It’s different than being shocked.

Some people don’t like surprises, and if I had to guess, I would say that it’s because it takes a modicum of control away from them. Just tell me what’s going to happen already. I want to know what to expect.

But that’s where trust comes in.

I’m not in charge, and if I allow myself to be surprised, I might just be blessed by a God who wants to give me all good things.

Like C.S. Lewis and joy.

 

images from tonnerdoll.com; nameberry.com; crosswalk.com

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Most people—and I’m guessing given how things are in the world—think respect has to be earned. You don’t like your boss because he’s a bad leader, so you don’t respect him. Which then leads you to bad mouth him to others.

Maybe you had horrible parents who had no idea what they were doing and didn’t care to learn. You didn’t respect them. They did nothing to earn your respect. So you lashed out at every opportunity.

Perhaps you have a husband who really doesn’t seem to care about your needs. He doesn’t show you love. You don’t respect him at all, and he pretty much knows it.

IMG_5810The truth is, though, that we are called to give people respect whether they deserve it or not. Not matter who they are, no matter what they have or haven’t done, no matter if they agree with us or not.

People are image bearers of God, and we are to be respectful of them.

What does respectful behavior look like?

It looks like listening and finding out people’s stories before drawing a conclusion about them.

It looks like looking people in the eye when you pass them on the street or encounter them anywhere you happen to be.

It looks like remembering someone’s name because it shows you see them.

There has been a lot of hullaballoo about respect in light of the NFL players protest during the National Anthem. Many have said that’s disrespectful. In fact, some have been absolutely vitriolic in their condemnation of such actions.

But those who have taken the time to listen to some of the stories can understand the some-nfl-players-continue-to-kneel-during-anthem-2-22805-1506885762-7_dblbigfrustration that is felt by some of these men.

And really, if you’re not in the military, you can’t speak for those who are. I have a friend whose husband is in the military, and he didn’t feel disrespected by those actions. Others have.

I remember an incident that happened several years ago at the school where I worked. I was encouraging the daughter of a friend to tease her dad about making her late for school because of his struggle getting out the door on time. In my household, that would have been OK. But her mom called me later and told me that in their household, her daughter speaking to her father in that manner would be considered disrespectful. I got that. And I apologized. I can’t expect every family to interact the way my family does.

IMG_6772In the same way, not everyone would find certain actions disrespectful. Some would feel any variance from the strict code regarding the flag would be disrespectful. You don’t wear the flag as clothing. You don’t let it touch the ground, and so on. But they would understand that some people have been disrespected by the authorities in their country, and though they love their country, they want things to change.

You don’t slam another person’s religion.

You don’t criticize how another person raises their kids.

You don’t presume that every homeless person is an addict.

Being respectful means being mindful that every person deserves dignity just because they’re a person.

And people come before institutions.

Anonymous No More

I’m a fan of the new TV show “This is Us.” Week after week I watch this family make choices, both good and bad, and love each other through it all.

kevinIf you’re a fan but are behind on watching, I’ll warn you right now that there is a mini spoiler in here. I’ll give you time to look away.

OK, so Kevin is in rehab and it’s family day. Everyone gathers and they sit together in a room with the therapist and Kevin starts talking.

One thing that struck me that he said was “We’re a family of addicts.” Which of course didn’t go over well with his family. Much more was said in that room that wasn’t very pretty, but Kevin was right. Only no one wanted to face it.

An addiction is defined by dictionary.com as “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit forming.” To end an addiction is traumatizing. Some would say “once an addict, always an addict.” You can never be completely free. But you can overcome it.

Baseball player Josh Hamilton battled drug and alcohol addiction and it almost ruined his career, not to mention his life. He got clean and sober and went back to baseball and was successful. Several years later, he confessed to having relapsed into cocaine and alcohol use. He was disappointed in himself, but he was aware that this would always be a struggle for him.

That’s the thing about addictions, especially when they involve chemical substances thatalcohol affect your brain. You can’t overcome them on your own.

My father was an alcoholic. It’s not something we ever talked about in our home. But when he fell down the stairs and suffered a cracked skull, he started going through withdrawal that at first the doctors didn’t diagnose. They thought he might be having a seizure or something else. When it became clear that it was alcohol withdrawal, we couldn’t really deny it anymore.

But still we don’t talk about it. Even when he almost turned into oncoming traffic on a busy thoroughfare just days before my wedding. I made him pull over and let me drive so I wouldn’t die before I got married.

My dad went to a couple of AA meetings, but then he decided he could beat his problem on his own. It didn’t work. He died of a heart attack 11 years ago, undoubtedly related to the strain he had put on his body for all those years.

The actions of addicts affect everyone around them. Be it alcohol, drugs, sex, or technology, addictions break relationships. An addict needs the help of others to overcome their addictions.

I watched a bizarre documentary recently about animal addictions in Great Britain. (Watch “41 Dogs in My Home” on Netflix.) To a person, none of them would admit they dog hoardingmight have a problem. One woman had 41 dogs. 41! Another man had 60 exotic animals. A woman had cats that couldn’t even be counted. Each one of them said they just loved the animals and couldn’t ever contemplate giving any of them away.

Relationships were lost (the man with the 60 exotic animals had been married at least twice) or severely strained. Finances were always a concern. Houses were a mess.

Yet they couldn’t see it.

We know a man who recently confessed to years and years of a well-hidden addiction. We were shocked. We had no idea. The effort it took to put on that façade must have been exhausting. He and his wife are now separated and he is absent from important family events. I’m praying restoration can happen. It’s heartbreaking. But he’s certainly not alone.

In “This is Us,” Kevin is going to need his family to listen to him, to support him and to help him beat this thing. I hope they’re willing to listen and to talk about it.

It’s not just a cliché; it really does first take admitting that you have a problem, not just being found out. If your heart doesn’t change, neither will your actions.

 

 

images from: usmagazine.com; bradfordhealth.com; viralnova.com