Guilty or Not

Have you ever met someone that, right from the get-go, you knew they were a negative person? Or they were someone that you just didn’t want to spend any time with? You knew you would never be friends and you try to avoid this person.

I have been working on trying to be positive even in negative situations. I am trying to remember that everyone is made in His image. We are all God’s children. Even the ones we are not fond of. I’m trying to show kindness and have a Christ-like attitude.

A couple weeks ago, I had to go to another office. In this office, there are three ladies that sit in one big room and another lady (their boss) that sits in a room off of that. I walked in and said “good mornin’ baby dolls”. And I gave them each a kiss. A Hershey’s kiss! (You never know when you might need their help so I usually take them something!) I walked over to the boss and stopped in her doorway and said “good morning, sugar dumplin'”. She looked up at me and said “I need to see the form for revenue for the next meeting.” I was determined that this lady was going to acknowledge my greeting….one way or another. I looked at her and, again, said “good morning, sugar dumplin'”. She finally got the point that I was not budging on any other topic until she responded. This woman has always been a negative person. People try to avoid her. I know she goes to church. I don’t think of her as a bad person. I just think she was baptised in prune juice instead of water. Do you know anyone like that?

It’s not always easy….rarely is…to be kind and show the love of Christ to people we think don’t deserve it. As a matter of fact, I think it is very easy for us to get pulled into that negativity and retaliate in the same manner. And that is where we let Satan get the best of us. Most times, we don’t even realize that is what has happened. Would Christ respond in that way? No. Of course not. And neither should we. It’s not easy. I will be the first to admit that. But that is what we are supposed to do. Show Christ’s love. To all!

If you were put on trial with the charge of being Christ-like, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Be a blessing and you will be blessed!

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The Ugly Sweater

Thirty plus years ago, my grandma bought me a sweater-coat for Christmas. It was the ugliest sweater I think I had ever seen . Of course, I did not tell her that. My grandma was not a bargain shopper. Even though she was not a rich lady, she liked to shop at the “shops”. You know…the boutique-type shops. Over priced. Ugly “stuff”. I thanked her for the gift, went home, hung the sweater in the back of my closet….for 20 years, at least!

I don’t remember when exactly I decided to wear the sweater. It’s not a shirt sweater. It’s a “lower than your bottom, buttonless” sweater. Very heavy. Very ugly. It’s a very warm sweater that I’ve never worn out in public (and never will…lol). It started coming out of the closet during very cold winters. My kids would give me a look like they were gonna toss their cookies! Over the years, it has seen the outside of the closet a little more often. In fact, my youngest daughter was caught wearing it this past winter! She also informed me that she wanted it when I die! I don’t think she will have to fight anyone for it!

That sweater and all it’s ugliness has created a story and become a “staple” in my home. When I’m gone, my daughter will be wearing it on winter nights and watching her kids eyes roll around as they look at it and make fun of it. Maybe they will pretend to be ill, too. Maybe one of her kids will ask for it when she is gone. What history that will be. Nothing that will be recorded in books. Just the best kind of “history”…a family heirloom, so to speak. This sweater may be passed down for many generations. It’s too ugly to ever fall apart!

For some reason, this sweater story popped in my head today as I walked. I thought about all the above and I thought about all the stuff that would be missed if I had returned the sweater for something different or if I had simply tossed it in the Goodwill bag. I didn’t do those things because I didn’t want to hurt my grandma’s feelings and I absolutely hate to return stuff.

This all lead me to thinking about God. His gift. To us. He gave us Jesus….the Gift. Jesus’ crucifixion was ugly. The betrayal…ugly. The crown of thorns…ugly. The whippings…ugly. The nails…ugly. His death…ugly. His resurrection…beautiful!

Jesus was a gift. If we don’t accept “it”, it’s the same as that ugly sweater….hidden in the back of the closet, of no use. We are telling God “thanks, but no thanks”. How heartbreaking!

God gave us a gift. A gift we do not deserve. A gift we didn’t earn. A gift we can never repay. Don’t put it on the back shelf or hide it in the closet. Take it out. Let that gift become a part of your life. It will be the warmest hug…like the ugly sweater…you ever feel!

Be a blessing and YOU will be blessed!

Insulting God

Have you ever insulted God? You may be thinking “Of course, not. Why would I do that?”. And I would say the same thing. Initially. But if I really take the time to think about it, then, ashamedly, I am guilty.

Many years ago I was sitting in a Sunday School class. I had arrived a few minutes early to enjoy the complimentary coffee and donuts. The classroom tables were arranged to form a big square with the center being open. I sat on the end of one corner, casually chatting with the other familiar faces about this and that. Asking the usual “nicities” and pleasantries that you do after not seeing people for a week.

About the time class was getting ready to start, in walked a man that I did not know. He had on the dirtiest jacket. His hair was not combed. He had not shaved in several days. He had on very worn jeans and sneakers that needed to sneak to the trash. He was dirty. His bible was worn and dirty. I’m not talking like he had a flat on the way to church. I’m talking that he hadn’t showered or bathed in a very long time. Guess where he decided to sit. Yep….right next to me on the corner. It was difficult to take deep breaths. He had that “smell” to him. Just dirty. Not b.o. but dirty. How could he come to church and look like that? Let alone smell like that? I was blown away. In my mind, he was being disrespectful to all of us, including God. I grew up being taught the phrase “Sunday best”. Where was this man taught? An alley?

I’ve never forgotten this man. I never will. I don’t recall that he ever came back. Not to Sunday school. Not to church. But this small, yet large, incident taught me so very much. Not immediately, but as I’ve grown in my faith and walk with God, I’ve realized how very much I insulted God that day. My thoughts were not good. My thoughts were not pure. My thoughts were not on faith. My thoughts were not on helping this man in any way, shape or form. They were very selfish and self-centered. Something I am not proud of. You see, the bible tells us that God created us in His image. It doesn’t say “some” of us. It doesn’t say “the ones that bathe”. It doesn’t say “the ones who dress the nicest”. It doesn’t say “the ones who give the most offering”. It says “us”. He created US. ALL of us. How dare I think any less of this man for what he may or may not have. He could have been homeless. I don’t know. He may have walked many miles to be encouraged and hear more about God. I don’t know. He may not have owned any other clothes. I don’t know. I don’t know any of these things because I did not take the time to welcome him or show him Christ’s love. Shame on me. That is something I have to live with the rest of my life. If I had the chance, I would apologize to this man and ask for forgiveness. I had to do the same with God. I asked for forgiveness and prayed that He guide me and let this be a lesson for the future. God, being God, has forgiven me. That’s grace. That’s a gift. A free gift. One that we can never pay back. One that we do not deserve. I pray you accept it.

There is great value in the everyday lessons of life. These “shoulder taps” from God should never be ignored. They are given to teach us, guide us, correct us. Be watching for them. You never know when they will “appear”.

Be a blessing and you will be blessed!

 

Listening and Hearing

Are you a good listener? Or do you hear but not listen? There is a difference. I think we moms (and maybe some dads) are such great multi-taskers that sometimes we are guilty of hearing but not listening.

Many years ago, when my youngest (of four) was about 4, I had set her at the kitchen table to start my day of never-ending laundry. I had kissed my husband goodbye, sent him to work and waited with the other three at the bus stop. Now, two hours later, MY day was beginning.

My daughter was scooched in to the table with coloring books, stickers, safety scissors and a big tub of crayons and markers. All the necessary “ingredients” to keep her busy and occupied for at least three or four minutes, while I started the days laundry. I had gone back and forth through the kitchen to the laundry room several times, bringing laundry from the various rooms, trash from yonder, the stray dish, bowl or cup from the night before. As I was “choring”, I kept hearing “sniffing”. Now I am not a “helicopter” mom. I don’t hover. Dirt doesn’t bother me. Scrapes, bruises, boxing it out among siblings….nah….but “sniffing” I simply cannot handle. If you got goobers, get ’em out! I never, ever run out of boxes of kleenex! It’s just a pet peeve of mine. I don’t know why I have a booger-phobia….I just do. My house can be a disaster, dusty, dishes in the sink…but you will never not be able to blow your nose! Anyway, I digressed….

I kept hearing the “sniffing” from my daughter. I couldn’t stand it anymore and said “what are you doing”? She didn’t answer me so, I made a trip directly to her. I was mortified to find that she had found, in the crayon box, a bottle of Elmer’s glue and was sniffing it!!!!! Oh my gosh! She replied “it smells good, mommy”! Wow! I had “heard” her but wasn’t “listening” right away to see what was going on! Mommy-fail!

This all happened over 15 years ago. I’ve never forgotten it and never will. For the obvious reasons but it also was a learning lesson for me. I know God is always there and listens and hears my prayers, thoughts, tears and fears. However, I, ashamedly, don’t always “listen” to what He has to say. Sometimes He has to smack me around a little bit to get His point across. I know He does it because He loves me. I don’t know why He puts up with me the way He does, but I am sure grateful!

I am learning to “listen” to Him and stepping out of my comfort zone for what He wants me to do. It is not always easy, but, ultimately, it is His will that is best for me. Even when I think I know better. I am so glad that He is a much better parent than I am and that He forgives when I get it wrong. I only want to please Him and let his light shine through me. Maybe someone who needs it will “hear” and “listen” as I let Him speak through me.

Be a blessing to someone and you will be blessed

Lost or Found

Have you ever been lost? I mean really lost. Are you one of those that refuses to ask for directions? I think most of us have been lost at one time or another and were too stubborn to ask for help or felt like we would be deemed “dumb” if we asked for directions. I know I have. There have been many times, especially in school, when I was too afraid to ask for clarification or guidance or help.  I didn’t want to be labeled the “idiot”. It was a much “safer” place to slump down in my seat, head down as if studying something, and just continue to be lost.

Several years ago, someone from the congregation at my church, was doing a pulpit fill while the pastor was on vacation. This gentleman, while a definite follower of Christ, was not a speaker; very monotone, dry with zero enthusiasm in his voice. However, I still to this day, over 15 years ago, remember parts of his message. One thing that stands out is that he challenged each of us to read a verse a day in our bible. One verse. Not a chapter or chapters. Simply, one verse. Twenty seconds of my time. Hmmmmmmm….I could do that, couldn’t I? Couldn’t I give up 20 seconds of my day for God? After all, look at the sacrifice He made for me.

I did do that. I got out my big study bible, left it on the kitchen table and each morning, after the kids were off to school, I sat down with my coffee and read one verse. Of course, at some point, I began to read more. This continued for several months. Maybe a year. Then, I don’t know what happened. I think I had to clean house for something. My bible got put away and did not come back out. Shame on me. How selfish of me.

About four months ago, the Holy Spirit started working on me, unbeknownst to me! After some events at church, I began giving a little one-minute “pep-talk” before worship. Something encouraging. Something with a lesson. Always with God in mind and, almost always something that involved a family member. Something that is true that brings things into reality for others. I’ve also felt that tugging to get back into reading His word. I’ve tried but not knowing exactly where to re-start. I started in the book of James. Read two chapters. But that was not “right”. I skipped over to Isaiah. Read three chapters this time. Again, that feeling of “nope”.

I am very blessed in that my three closest friends just happen to be married to pastors. Each of these friends are different. Each are unique. Each are cherished and “valuable” to me. I treasure them all. All for different reasons. I decided I would text each of their pastor husbands, individually. Not in a group text. None of the three know I asked anyone else.  I asked each one what book in the bible they would recommend to someone to read IF they could only read one. My simple thinking was that I was going to get three different book recommendations and be set for a while. What I got was a whole different lesson.

The first answer came. His recommendation: John. A little while later, pastor #2 responded: John! About a half hour later, I received the third response. John!!! I was blown away. Not only did I NOT have three different opinions of which way to go, my faith was reaffirmed with this: I have three different pastor friends. All with a different style. All with different opinions. All three great men with deep roots anchored in the love of Christ! Not only all that, but it’s not about what someone wears or how they look. Church is nothing to do with ME. It’s nothing to do with THEM. It’s nothing to YOU. It’s about HIM! Always! And we need to remember that.

One other tidbit: I also asked each of them their favorite book. The first: Romans. The second: Romans! The third:……….Ephesians! 

Five out of six…..ain’t bad!

The lesson I’m trying to make out of all my jibberish is this: never, ever be afraid to stop and ask for directions. Your eternal life could depend on it!

Be a blessing and you will be blessed!

Perfect or Sinner

How many of you are perfect? Zero. How many of you are sinners? All of you. How many of you want to be sinners? Several years ago, the preacher asked those same questions. “How many of you are perfect?” One little girl, about five, raised her hand, high and proud. Her mother immediately lunged to bring it down. “How many of you want to be sinners?” The same little girl raised her hand once again. The mother again leapt towards her and brought it down. In the process, she caught a rib on the pew in front of her…..I still have the scar to prove it! Lol!….True story!

About 2,000 years ago, there was a man named Judas. Judas had the best and wisest friend. Judas had the best leader. Judas had the perfect example. Judas had the best preacher. Judas failed. We all do. Daily. But we have all been given a gift. The gift of grace. It was given to us all, freely. We need to acknowledge that gift and be thankful for it. None of us deserve it. Not you. Not me. No one. Be grateful for it. You’ve been given a gift that is ready and waiting. You just have to accept it.

Be a blessing and you will be blessed.

Endings to Beginnings

June 23, 2018

Welcome to my little corner of the world. I don’t know if anyone will ever read this, but I thought I would give a little background on “me”. My name is Kim. I am 39.95 plus shipping and handling years old! Three years ago I was widowed after a 30 year, 11 month marriage. It’s been a long, lonely three years. My life, as well as our children’s, changed forever in that final moment. Actually, it changed one year before that when Bob was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Our world was turned upside down. Everything centered on his medical treatment and getting him better. Of course, deep in my soul, I knew there would not be a “better”. But I never, ever said that to him. I knew if I did, that he would give up. I could not let that happen. He was given about six months but defied all the doctors and lived exactly one year. Even as late as two weeks before his passing, he told one of his doctors that he was not giving up. She looked at him and said “good. We don’t want you to give up.” But she also told him that he had lived twice as long as people half his age that had this deadly disease.

Pancreatic cancer. It sucks! All cancer sucks! Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate in a five year period. Most die within the first year. Some within weeks of diagnosis. It is quickly moving to the #1 spot of deadliest cancers. The reason is because it is so difficult to diagnose it in its early stages. The pancreas is located very deeply in the body. By the time a tumor is visibly present, it has spread to other organs and is at a stage IV. The last doctor my husband had…a pain specialist…was a very compassionate, caring woman. She would sit with Bob every morning, first discussing his pain and adjusting meds. Then, she would sit with him for an hour asking about his life…his childhood, his parents, family, wife, kids, etc. How many doctors take that time? Not many. Not enough.

Struggling financially, I would go to work in the mornings and leave about noon to head to the hospital. (He was in the hospital for two weeks before coming home two weeks and then heading to his eternal home.) One particular day, the doctor saw me arrive and she returned to sit with both of us. She asked Bob if she could share with me what he had told her that morning. He said yes. She had asked him earlier, before I arrived, what his fears were. He told her he was not afraid of dying. He knew God. He accepted Jesus. He was afraid of leaving me alone. He didn’t know how I would manage. Who was going to love me? Who was going to pick up where he left off? I’ve never forgotten that. I never will.

I won’t say it’s been easy. It hasn’t. I have made progress forward. I’ve managed to get out of bed and take a step forward. I’ve got a few close girlfriends who have listened, over and over to my whining. I’ve got four terrific kids. I’ve got extended family. They are there anytime I need. I’ve sold a house. I’ve bought a house. I recently purchased a car, solo. When Bob was diagnosed, we had just paid off all our debt i.e. credit cards. Thank the Lord! I’ve managed to not use them except in very minor circumstances.

Two years ago, I knew I had hit a wall mentally. I knew that, if I didn’t break the cycle, I was going into a very deep, dark place that I would not be able to get out of without professional help. My daughter took a walk with me. Not far and yet a great distance. I managed to keep doing it everyday. As of today, 23 months later, I have walked off 121 pounds! It never started out as that journey, but that’s where it went. I have changed my ways in some things. I took my first solo trip last month. Actually flew by myself! What an excitingly, terrifying step!

My life will never be the way it was when I was married. The plans we had for retirement will never come to fruition. I may never be able to retire, but what would I retire for? And to whom? There is no special man waiting for me when I get home. There is no special man coming home to me. Widowhood is a very lonely world. I pray none of my friends ever go through it, but the reality is that some will. In a married couple, someone has to go first. If they/you are a believer, then the one left behind is the one suffering. I know where Bob is now. I have no doubt. He is happy. He is no longer in pain. He is not sad. Do I think he is still around us? I don’t know. I will find out when I get to heaven. In the meantime, I want to honor Bob’s memory by living and enjoying life. Live it to the fullest. I pray that it is God’s will that another wonderful man becomes my “chapter two”, as widowed people call it. I am certainly open to the possibility. You see, I enjoyed married life enough to do it again. I miss Bob. I miss being married. I will grieve him forever, but I will also live, as that is what he would want me to do.

Do I have all the answers? Absolutely not! I question a lot of what I do. I do not question my faith, however. My faith got me through some of the darkest moments of my life. I had to have enough courage, in the final moments, to let my husband go. I knew where he was going. Even though cancer thinks it won, it did not. Bob no longer has cancer! He has eternal life with Jesus! God did not take him, either! God received him! Big difference! I am at peace with it. Memories will bring smiles. Memories will bring tears. But it’s okay. The cost of love is grief. I don’t know what the future holds for me but I will keep my eyes on Jesus! The only certainty I have. But what a great certainty! Be a blessing and you will be blessed!