Spending

Hello, friends. This is not quite the first poem I’d pictured sharing in coming back, but it comes of one of those little grains of a thought that grew into a full-grown ponder before I knew it. So…as ever, I must surrender any personal agendas and give in to His…

Spending, spending…

Everybody seems always busy spending

Something.

Granted, sometimes necessary in the state of living,

Or, one hopes, in the fond act of giving.

But, other times?

Ah, naught but a careless fling!

Cold hard cash water-spouting out

First comes to mind,

But not this alone, oh no…

So many other gleeful sprees

Consumers cavort in so free…

So many mindless fritterings we can find!

Some of us stupidly spend away our given talent;

Some pitch on the wind their precious time.

For others, principles are too easily sent

Only to come back oily and bent,

And perhaps, most tragic of all

Are those whose bodies, whose very hearts are cast

Aside to be nickled and dimed…

And what by these misguided attempts

Do any of us stand to gain?

For, in the end, none are exempt

From answering to how we spent our days.

That is why it is imperative

All He allows us to possess

From our moments to our gifts

We must rightly lift

Up to the cross and nothing less.

For all other seed-scattered pursuits

Produce none but rotten fruits.

Such poison it is to the foolish soul!

Ah, Lord, over all that is spent we need You in control!

Yes, indeed, here are the purse-strings of my very being,

Every second of my time,

Take and assist,

Teach me to wisely budget, cautiously resist

Spending wily-nily this God-given life of mine…

May we be ever prayerful in how we spend our lives! Thanks for reading! Blessings and prayers!

Truth

Frankly, finding myself terribly weary of sussing out truth in this inherently deceitful world. Just some thoughts scribbled down on the matter, plus a much-needed cry to our God to remind us that only in reliance on Him can any actual truth ever be known…

Truth is such a slippery thing these

Days;

So much foolish frippery being added

To the words we say.🙄

Wills mangled by the rancorous and

The tight-fisted;

Society’s ills strangle the night as

Peace gets twisted.

Honesty a virtue to which so many

May lay claim.

Yet so few pay the dues, pitching aside

Any real blame.

We defy integrity with the lie of its

“Relativity”

And hide under the guise of harmless

“Unconventionality”.

A pleasing narrative becomes the

Treasured thing

And it tragically matters not whether

It possesses a trustworthy ring.

Tampering becomes but a noble

Pursuit.

Facts? A pesky fly to crush beneath

Your boot.

Newspeak puddles upon newspeak,

Serves its purpose in muddling the

Ability to think.

And, pretty soon, the good news of

Our Lord for us

Slides from our fingers, forgotten

As we neglect to examine the

Lingering spoon before us

To check whether what we’re being

Fed is rotten.

Oh, Father, we are much more frail

And feeble-minded

Than any of us will venture to admit

To!

Oh, how we need to be reminded

Of the sincerity found only in You!

Above a world so unwieldy and so

Bleak,

Help us seek Your words and

Yours alone!

Unfurl once again bright hopes to

The searching, the meek

And let Your truths once more

Provide the light to atone!

Friends, in this increasingly dismaying and dishonest world may we indeed seek the truths found in Him and Him alone! Blessings and prayers! Thanks for reading my scribbles! 😊❤

Unmasking Kindness

Ok. I am about to burst. I just have to do this.

It’s tough to venture to in this current situation, but (deep breath) let me just out with it:

I. Hate. Masks!!!

Ahhh. That is better. Not unlike when you get home from being out in polite society and (carefully) yank off said mask. 😏

Oh, let me reassure you, I am not saying this to be a political activist or a fist-shaking rebel.

Longtime readers know I am not your typical fan-the-political-flames or rebellious sort.

No knee-jerk offerings here. 🙂

For, where I will most unapologetically say as a Christian, I don’t think we should be wallowing in panic, I neither presume to know best on this or just how to sort through the maze of confusing information, conspiracy theory du jours, and what have you.

Because, doggone it, Jim, to flip what Bones always said:

I am a mom. Not a doctor.😏

And, yet, being a mom-a mom of special needs as well as one with her own neurological and physical differences, I just can’t help it.

I hate masks.

For what they do to my children and I physically.

Emotionally.

Socially.

Oh, yes, I know we ought to be above it all for others’ sake.

Kids are resilient (And, in many ways, they actually are. This is not news to me!).

You get “used” to it. They’ll get “used” to it.

It’s for the good of our fellow man.

If you struggle that much, just shut yourself in your home 24/7.

I have heard it all.

Yet, it’s not so simple for some of us and I wish others would acknowledge this without talking it down.

You see, it’s been a rather painful period in our little community.

We are at a dismayingly cold war over this issue.

Between balancing caution and compassion as school begins again.

Frankly, there are no easy choices. I get that.

Firstly, I know this point without a doubt:

Online education cannot replicate everything.

My kids did all right in the spring, praise God, but we all know there are things they love and thrive on that I just cannot provide o solo mio.

Yet, we mustn’t be careless in the process of reopening. I do believe in Godly wisdom. We can’t be wily-nily on this and expect good results.

And, yet…we are all becoming so sharply opinionated around here, we are forgetting what our small town has always shared.

Namely, friendship. Or so I thought from my admittedly, nearly perpetually, introverted distance. 😔

But, then, maybe, this highlighted to me what is disconcerting to realize is still true- that I really don’t get that word, “friend”.

For, what is a “friend”, really?

I use the term often here and I want to be clear-I genuinely mean it in referring to each of you I interact with.

You are each very dear to me. I have felt your fellowship on an authentically personal level.

Yet, I fear to broach the question, but feel I must for the sake of my honesty-is it easier for me to do here because it’s not in person?

Hmmm…

Probably, to be frank.

The written word is my forte.

In person, I am a gangly-mouthed mess (Add a mask and, boy, howdy!).

Shoot, even the phone is not much better.

I have to practice basic conversation.

Seriously.

It’s rather embarrassing, folks. 🙄

Anyway, moving on…

A further thought on this-

We sometimes sing at church, “What a friend we have in Jesus…”.

And I love and believe and embrace that fact in Him.

No doubt there.

And, yet, there is a persistent lack of truly knowing that word “friend” well in my heart or life experience.

So much so that I don’t know that I really know sometimes what it even feels like-in person, anyway.

Whenever everybody was pairing off on the grade school playground, I was off in a corner, gathering sticks or wandering the perimeter, eyes downcast, affecting an unconcern that I most definitely did not feel.

For, those eyes were fixed down out of abject fear.

Fear they’d collide with another’s.

Fear they’d see into my soul.

Fear the pain of that and the sure judgment to follow was just more than I could bear.

I could sometimes bear a swift glance in the vicinity, though it was more likely to be a nose or mouth I was comfortable fixing on.

Especially the mouth. For, there I could at least discern frown or smirk or smile.

I wasn’t always sure if what I saw was genuine, but it was easier to interpret for the most part.

And, now, all these decades, two marriages, four kids, a career, autism acknowledgement and, most importantly a life decision for Christ later, I am still so often that little girl on the perimeter.

Even here in everybody-knows-everybodyville.

Oh, I have found my ways and my niches, facilitated my kids in the same.

Yet, my longing remains both to be a part and yet to steal away.

Of the aching to trust and the anxiety of whether I really can.

So…needless to say, in this current climate of bickering over social distance and masks everywhere you go, I am experiencing a lot of inner turmoil.

There are those whose faces my kids and I cannot read.

Literally.

I love the clear masks and pray more and more have access to them. They are great for more than just those who lip read.

In fact, as soon as I discovered them, I got onboard and bought some.

But, even that boils down largely to choice. And most are still choosing coverings that conceal the vast majority of their face.

The best we can do with most is a fleeting look into the eyes.

And what we see there is often the disapproving and the fearful if my kids or I happen to be having a hard day with the enforced coverings, compliant though we are trying to be.

Then, there are those whose faces are uncovered save their bright red spots of anger that any would be attempting a mask at all.

And neither is good.

Both strive to seem holy.

One the pious do-gooder.

The other filled with “righteous” indignation.

Yet, neither truly trying to understand the other.

Or, for many, remember they are supposed to be family in Christ.

It’s disheartening, always feeling caught in between.

Wanting to see peace between opposing forces.

To do right somehow by all simultaneously.

And still kindly advocate for my dear ones and myself in the process.

Hoping somewhere out there is a friend in the midst of this mess, knowing we mean well, yet also acknowledging what we are daily up against is much more multifaceted than the mere fight against a virus.

I further hope we can unmask kindness, be it in their eyes or the whole face. 🙂

I have no answers here save the knowledge that even if I still struggle at times with the concept of friendship, what a friend we have in Jesus.

And I know He is the friend that is always here to help us bear it all…

Thank you for reading, you whom I also feel I can always call friends! I love and appreciate each of you. So much I know I can request your prayers as I extend my own to you. These are challenging days and I know we are going to need much strength. Blessings to each of you! ❤

Guarding Our Lamps

Hello! Hope everyone’s Christmas was a blessed one! We’ve had a good deal said about lights in this season, but, I feel inspired to a bit more, in perhaps a different form than we traditionally explore at Christmas….

Only once before have I indulged here in any of my gold standards from my daycare teaching years.

But, lately, I keep humming “This Little Light of Mine”.

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…

Most of you likely know the lyrics, so I will leave off including the rest, though I do love two sections: 1. When they get to “hide it under a bushel? NO!. The “no’s” are so adorably emphatic.

And 2, and, perhaps my favorite: “Ain’t gonna let Satan blow it out!”- with the word “blow” replaced by a whoosh of air enthusiastic enough to put out dozens of birthday candles. ☺

Anyway…

Maybe it’s just in my head because it made that delightful sort of appearance in my littlest boy’s Christmas program recently.

Or, maybe, it’s meant to be a gentle tug on my heart for a purpose beyond the cuteness of a group of children belting it out complete with hand motions and sound effects…

For lights are something rather delicate, truth be told.

It doesn’t take an awful lot to extinguish them.

Before some major power line reworking in our occasionally wild and wooly midwest town, all it could take sometimes was a day of particularly stiff wind and whoosh.

Lights out as fast as my grade school friends demonstrate in their song. 😳

Flashlights were fumbled for.

As was the phone as we swiftly called the electric company to alert them of the issue and anxiously awaited the intrepid heroes of their field to come make things right again.

All that flurry of immediate concern and coming to attention…

But, do we do the same with our spiritual light?

Do we even immediately recognize the loss of illumination?

Is it even necessarily as sudden a switch from on to off as a power outage? 🤔

Well, no, I really don’t think so.

It’s a far more gradual dimming than that.

A bit of darkness creeps in here, a bit more shadow there.

The lantern’s glow grows smaller and smaller by contrast.

We begin to squint to see. It may take some time to realize we even are squinting to see. ( Much like what happens when I am due for a change in my eyeglass prescription!😏)

It puts me in mind of the other great toddler tune about this subject:

Give me oil in my lamp,

Keep me burning.

Give me oil in my lamp,

I pray.

Give me oil in my lamp

Keep me burning, burning, burning.

Keep me burning till the break of day!

Of course, this is based on the parable of the ten virgins found in Matthew 25.

Some had guarded their lamps well and were ready for the bridegroom (Jesus).

Others were not so prepared. Their lamps were going out. They had nothing on hand to renew their light.

And, of course, the analogy here concerns those who persevere in their faith in looking for the return of our Lord and those whose faith has sagged with neglect.

It emphasizes how vital it is that we as believers hold dear His Light, that which He has granted to help us keep watch.

As we prepare to enter a new year within days, may we also be mindful to stay prepared for His return for us, His bride.

May our light be maintained daily, burning bright in this dark world despite the devil’s attempts to whoosh it out.

Not only that we may be able to see clearly, but that others may be drawn to the light of His truth.

Blessings and prayers to you, my friends! Guard your lamps well!

Iron Sharpens Iron at the Family Table

Coming back following holidays left my mind tired yet full. This thought rose above others tonight…

Sometimes, it’s difficult to be with family after a long absence.

Well, duh, Captain Obvious. 🙄

It’s also difficult to leave them when time draws nigh.

Also pretty much a well duh statement. 😏

There are the numerous delights and countless challenges alike to our spirits in coming together after extended months apart.

You’re no longer a child and your tendency is to attempt earnestly to prove it, all to varying degrees of success.

For, there is also the something of being in their midst that pulls you back to that place of littleness compared to the elders in your life.

In my particular case, there’s a lot of shadows to that former existence, some areas stepped into tentatively, others not at all.

Apprehension can seize my soul if I don’t take care to surrender it to His hand.

Now, forgiveness has been flowing in abundance among us for decades now, and, yet, must still rise up to be met again in entering into one another’s presence.

Past is not swept under any rugs, by any means, but, in looking back, love softens the edges of the pain.

Hearts don’t necessarily forget all the twinges, but they do connect afresh through the knowledge Christ makes all things new.

Including each other.

And, then, we get to share that newness of being. What a wonder that is!

Thoughts fly back and forth across the table. Struggles are examined in a different light, growth is noted, wisdom imparted.

Each moment, both the tender and the hard, threads itself to the ever-changing tapestry of our existence, tethering us tighter together.

Iron sharpening iron sounds sort of scary at first glance, but, how it shows itself in our lives can be incredible.

Home can be a great place to see this at work, for you get to surprise each other with what God’s given us to bring to the table.

You get to witness the learning you each have done and become that safe place to reach across said table with it.

It may not exactly feel like light family fun at times, yet these times the Lord affords us to deepen our walks, both with Him and with one another, are vital.

Hence, the observation at the beginning.

Difficult to be there, difficult to leave…

But, this truth I hold fast to to keep me going:

God grants us fond memories to soothe the bittersweet and carry us through to the next day we meet.

In Him, we are never truly apart.

I hope your Thanksgiving was a blessed one, dear friends. May we ever seek those iron sharpening situations, whether by family, by friends, or both.

Joyful Noises Among the Generations

We’ve had an especially wonderful couple of weeks of youth group.

Typically, we are all about food, music, Bible study, discussion, game.

And that is nearly always the order.

Oh, occasionally, it’s been game first, then Bible study- particularly when the game happens to be a good object lesson to lead in to the scriptures we’re focusing on.

But, these past couple of weeks were somewhat a needed shake-up of all that.

Not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with a routine.

Kids, even when they reach the teen years, truly appreciate the familiarity of knowing what to expect when ( Particularly the food. That’s a big chunk of my department. 😉).

And we do normally have great discussions, awesome worship, some fairly major feasting, and a whole lot of fun.

But, this year we have a different group. A significantly smaller group as others have graduated and/or moved on.

But, really, it’s not a bad thing!

Because, it’s a core group. A group hungry for the Lord.

And a group hungry to serve!

It’s a lovely thing to behold.

That last is what lead us beyond the usual order of business these past two Wednesdays.

Instead, we chose to seek a way to minister to our community.

Now, we’re an incredibly small town, as I believe I have mentioned in previous posts, so it takes a bit of creativity to find places to plug in at times.

But, creativity is one trait these kids have in spades.

So, what did we do?

Well, it may not seem exactly earthshattering, but I truly believe we filled a need.

Taking up our guitars, our drums, and our sheet music, we trooped over to the nursing home across the street for a bit of a jam session.

There was a lively mix of old hymns and newer worship songs sung with the residents there.

There were chalk drawings done depicting a lighthouse and an eagle to remind us all how the Lord is our guide and our uplifter.

There were encouraging verses spoken in the normally rather quiet living room area of the assisted living facility.

Best of all, there were stories swapped of God’s goodness and the richness of a life lived for Him.

Frail hands squeezed ours with surprising strength and hugs were generously given. Brightened eyes smiled into ours with amazing alertness.

Ah, the beautiful bridges that were built between the generations-ones I know we will return to again and again as the Lord leads.

There’s something to be said for not neglecting the wisdom of our elders or dismissing their earnest desire for a listening ear.

There’s also something to be said for recognizing that, for all the decrying of the current state of our youth, the young still have much more to offer this world than we often give them credit for.

Sometimes, it’s all just a matter of bending the routine a bit and bringing the joyful noises of the generations together. ☺

In this, we find countless simple yet profound ways to serve one another.

Prayers and blessings to you, friends! May we each realize all we can learn from one another and look to the generations both younger and older to serve and to be served by.

With the Blinders Off

I promised this in a previous post. Prayerfully, I am plunging in to expand on my experience with the charismatic movement…

The first time I ever blogged something, even before my almost-but-not-really mommy blogger phase , I began writing with a mission.

I was fresh out of the charismatic movement I had spent so many years in, full of intense emotions, and determined to counsel others on the dangers therein.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I was terribly grounded yet in my newly found wisdom- nor the ways of the blogging world.

I really didn’t get readers. 😏

So, needless to say, that attempt didn’t last very long!

It would be quite some time, in fact, before I even broached the subject again. And when I did, it was much more tentative than my earlier attempts.

I was beginning to recognize how much of my earlier belief system needed unpacking and how much needed to be rebuilt.

And that takes time. Painstaking time. Coming out both barrels blasting as if I had the authority?

Not an option if I truly wanted an about-face from the past.

For so many things clung to me from my very first church experiences onward, things that permeated the very atmosphere.

Things that honestly left me angry when the truth fully dawned on me.

Things I was not ready to talk about with any measure for quite a while.

But, now that the initial anger I left my old church with has long since faded, I feel I can delve into this. I may still tread on some toes, but I know in my heart there’s no malice in my words- just deep-seated sorrow.

I hope I can convey that somehow here, even with the hard things that must be said.

So, what are these things I speak of?

Well, there are several, so I will begin by highlighting what stood out to me from the various erroneous teachings and just plain oddities I encountered over the years:

1. If you aren’t “falling out in the Spirit” (allowing someone to pray over you till you fall flat on the floor, presumably in a state of euphoria) and babbling together in strange tongues, you are missing out on the “better” part of the Spirit.

This part of the Spirit, according to their teaching, is a special, separate anointing that all Christians should and can have, if only we want it enough.

2. There was also the “name it and claim it” philosophy running rampant- that which says the more you give monetarily, the more you get monetarily, that Christians ought all be financially rich, or something is wrong in their walk, that what you declare in His name can automatically be.

3. There is an almost superstition to keeping every word spoken on the positive. To make sure we are “speaking only good over ourselves”. As if admittance of a struggle automatically causes even more struggle to dump over our heads.

4. Those who were not inclined to gyrate in the Spirit during music were subtly shamed for our “lack of fervor”.

Singing the same phrase countless times, almost chant-like, was supposed to somehow generate more of the Spirit in our midst.

5. We were to hunger for physical signs- angel feathers, gold dust, supernatural healing. Heaven was supposed to meet earth and become an everyday occurence, effectively eliminating reverence.

6. Sermons were there, but wandered over the same few passages that could be bent to human will in the guise of “seeking the Spirit”.

Seldom was salvation discussed or altar calls offered, at least not to lead anyone to Christ.

Altar calls usually involved looking for a prophetic word or the aforementioned “falling out”.

Some would have what they called “carpet time” for hours while their children anxiously waited in the nursery-unless it was a day someone had a notion to troop out the young ones for their “training in the Lord”, that is.

6. Guest speakers were brought in by the droves, some with mystical music to accompany them, some who claimed prophetic giftings, others whose moral failings and extrabiblical leanings were continually excused by grace and the words “fresh revelation”.

This last is what finally broke within me, caused me to stop punishing myself for not being “enough”, and stirred my heart to leave.

I had begun to read the Bible with new eyes that saw what it said versus what it could be bent to say.

I saw that nothing in scripture advocated much of what we did Sunday to Sunday.

So…I saw the writing on the wall.

I knew I couldn’t remain in a place where I could not respect what my leadership embraced, nor what they turned a blind eye to.

So much of it could be summed up to that. Spiritual blindness.

For, that by itself can easily account for buying into a pack of lies that simultaneously claims freedom from the rituals of traditional church and piles on a whole new set of them.

And, as stated, there was a time I was furious for the years this belief system robbed me of.

But, now… it’s more like heavy heartache.

Because I don’t know how many of those people I spent so many years with are really, actually saved.

I want to think some believe in the truth of trusting Christ alone for salvation, but there were so many crowded ideas and conjuring up of “a movement of God”, I cannot honestly say I could see the fruit.

It’s not that they never did good. Their food and clothing ministry thrived. The downtrodden felt like they were embraced.

But the confusing spiritual mix they served up in addition clouded the rest.

And, walking around with that knowledge, yet unable to persuade anyone in that old life of what I feel God revealed to me, is hard.

Unspeakably hard. Especially when some are beloved family.

I pray but I also keep my distance now, honestly. There’s no listening ears there at this point, and definitely no going back for me.

I now exercise extreme caution, testing teachings Berean-style to scripture, and sitting under a pastor that is very much Bible-based, to the point of directing us to test what he says to scripture.

I’m finding the simple clarity of salvation in Christ alone is a life-giving antidote to years of burdensome clutter.

And, slowly, I am finding my feet in sharing this. I am surer now than ever of where I stand:

On Christ alone.

To any who are unsure of the charismatic movement, I pray you test what is said against the Word of God and the Word of God alone. Thanks for reading and God bless!

Self-Help Never Helped Anyone

There aren’t too many brick-and-mortar bookstores left these days. (Makes an old-fashioned, flip-through-the-pages girl like me rather sad. 🙁)

But, on those occasions I happen upon one still, what is one of the biggest sections I find?

Self-help.

Usually right next to the Christian section, no less-when they’ve got one.

Kind of speaks to society in general:

Don’t like the idea of God’s help? Well, then, here you go, help yourself!

And there’s a veritable sea of publications with slick covers, beckoning to the struggling with empty promises for a new life by Friday.

Self-improvement. Self-reliance. Self-empowerment.

Pick one up and a few may even allude to some sort of faith at times, though it seems more of a cursory nod than the foundation of their philosophy.

So many authors, so many books, so many ways…

So much foolishness!

For, every one of those books lay claim to the secrets of “successful living”.

And so few ever acknowledge the God who holds the real secret!

For successful living has not an iota to do with what house you live in, what’s in your wallet, or your driveway.

Nor with the length or contents of your resume, your online followers, or cookie-cutter, Instagram-ready family.

For all those things are just that.

Things.

Some of them quite nice.

Family, obviously, is extremely important and not just a thing! As a wife and mom of four, I can definitely attest to that!

But, the idol of the “perfect” life with them or in general?

Well, that is just that-an idol.

And idols are dangerous, false gods in the way of our loyalty to the One True God.

As is trying to self-help ourselves.

For there is no helping ourselves…

By ourselves.

I know. I have tried so many times-and have the trail of failed attempts behind me to prove it! 😉

Having been through a few rough patches in life often leads to grasping at band-aids of all sorts.

But, nothing ever stuck till I recognized that the only real help comes when we bow every bit of our self-serving ways to our desperate need for a Savior.

It’s not that all advice out there is bad.

Scripture, naturally, is full of wisdom for the ages. When I need help, I prayerfully reach for the Bible and find God answers quite well!

It’s a matter of being open to listen, of course. 🙂

There are also many wonderful writers and teachers versed in the Word and a lifetime of walking with the Lord who have a lot of insights to share.

I am just especially cautious with whose work I read and listen to these days.

Anything that does not place God and His Word first, last, and in between is not something I linger on anymore.

It isn’t worth it.

So… suffice to say, where in those few bookstores left (or that huge online landscape of offerings), the self-help section is wide, would that we choose the narrow aisle of biblical truth:

Self-help never helped anyone.

We need His help for now and all time to see any real change.

Blessings and prayers, friends. May we ever be in pursuit of the help only the Lord can provide.