Friday, April 3, 2015
I'd just turned 29 when we moved to the Nevada desert.
Two years later we moved into an adorable 70 year-old house with Spring-Pink sponged over white on the living room walls, oak floors and I planted pink, white and lavender cosmos in our large backyard around our birdbath. And Naomi, at 11, grew up alongside them.
Finally I had my own dear old house--I'd wanted one since I was 12.
But I had too many sad afternoons in that house because I also wanted what God did not want for me. Incredibly insecure, I latched onto all sorts of jobs at church, viewing them each as 'ministry' to other people, but really, I used them to give me self-definition. To make me feel good and secure about my sad self.
Not surprisingly, each of those 'ministries' eventually rose up to claw and rip me apart. God never told me to take on those things, so Grace wasn't there to help me or defend me when I messed up. People criticized what I did and I crumbled because I'd invested all I was into those ministries--and I'd invested more than I could afford to lose. My motivation and thinking were all wrong, my foundation, cattywampus, and I stupidly expected ministry to patch-up and fill what was missing inside.
Things got bad. One day inside our little dream home I stood in my living room and did the Scarlet O'Hara bit: "As God is my witness, I will never care about people again!" I willed my heart to turn to stone. It hurt too much to have a soft heart.
Then one day at my lowest point, I stood in our little library room and thought about my future. I paused and peering ahead, all I saw was depressing, rolling grey fog. Nothing else. A lie was told me that day and believing it, I went under.
But God brought me out.
Not by way of a Poof! Miracle, but instead, by a Lesson By Lesson Miracle. It took years, but that's another blog post (or ten).
And now it would be hard for you to find a more contented, peaceful person. He cleared up my confusion about ministry and purpose and He's shown me what happens when I really do love Him best. How Life feels as it was meant to that way.
So now perhaps you'll understand why some of my posts will sound the way they do--celebratory and almost careening over the Happy Ledge. Like Pollyanna on Speed. I just can't help but spill over with joy because God truly set me free.
If you are in your own 'Nevada Years', if you have seen that depressing, rolling grey future cloud, remember--it usually appears right before the sun is about to come out and change absolutely everything.
Naomi begin her first day of kindergarten 20 years ago, but it feels only like last week to me. I remember leaving her in her new classroom, then walking quickly down the crowded hall, praying no one would stop me to chat. All I wanted was to escape to my car and cry.
But after the tears, I confess--I smiled and drove home and read and drank coffee and flittered the morning away.
Tomorrow is Naomi's 25th birthday. Each of her birthdays find me pensive and pondering. This year I wonder how can I have a daughter who is 25 when most days I, myself, feel only 30?
Those September kindergarten days pleasantly haunt me. Naomi would return, cheeks flushed from a warm classroom and play her cassette tapes, ones which told stories from books. She played one tape incessantly--a mournful-sounding song: "Little house, little house--so much to remember. Little house, little house..." I'd stand in the kitchen and think, "I will always remember this. That song, this opened window with warm pine scent wafting through the screen. Naomi Afternoons when she was 5 years old and pausing here, today."
And I have remembered, even though that was many years, lots of houses and two states ago.
Perhaps Naomi's birthdays return me to her Kindergarten days because once she started school, I began to sense she wasn't really mine to keep. Each day I had to release her, loan her to others, and well, the day would come when she would spend more time in others' homes than in ours--and I knew it.
I slowed down more. Naomi seemed to grow faster and I could almost feel Time, like sand, pouring from my fingers. I'd sit on the couch mending or writing while Naomi played on the carpet with her stuffed animals. And I'd pause, look up, and memorize her just as she was. I'd tell myself, "Memorize her now, because someday she will be grown."
I'm glad I memorized my daughter at 5, 8, 13 and beyond. My heart holds pictures no one can ever take away. They're all still here as only a mother's heart can hold them.
Happy birthday to my Little Girl All Grown Up.
"You are the light of the world." ... Matthew 5:14
My grandparents were my reminders that there are real Christians in this world. I'd visit their simple, creaking house with the red-checked table oil cloth and worn pink chenille bedspreads, and those two people were always peaceful. Calm. Perhaps that's why I love vintage stuff like jade-ite and flowered metal canisters--those things remind me of my grandparents' tranquil home.
To mention the term 'stressed-out' and my grandparents in the same sentence is ludicrous and laughable. I don't recall them ever acting stressed-out about anything.
Instead they carried peace with them everywhere. My sister, brother and I would ride upon the slippery backseat of their old white Ford while my grandparents sat in front quietly talking, no matter how many other drivers or pedestrians acted crazily around them. Never did they rush us through the Five-And-Dime or K-Mart. We took our time, ambling through aisles, my grandfather exclaiming over the cleverness of tiny new inventions.
I loved being inside my grandparents' serene world.
The amazing fact? While I walked in a serene glow with my grandparents, a stressed-out, unhappy world co-existed with ours. I'm talking right around that dreadful year of 1968. It's as though we stood inside the peaceful core, while around us spun an out-of-control outer edge. Two ways of living taking place simultaneously.
I still prefer my grandparents' way. I still walk in that peaceful core and watch people swirling all around me. The stressed-out ones without peace, Light, and joy. And when Grace nudges me, I reach out and--snatch!-- a person from that swirling stream and bring them into the calm center.
With a smile.
A warm "Hello."
A "How are you?"
A "Here, let me help you with that."
An "Oh, you can go ahead of me."
...or even with these essays. I seldom find peace or Light out in the market place, so I take them along with me to share. They are real and I want them to become real to others.
First keep the peace within yourself,
then you can also bring peace to others... Thomas A. Kempis
Grace walks into the room and now I recognize her. I rise, smiling, and step over to greet her with a relieved smile.
That wasn't always so. For years Grace was a vague, wispy somebody who came and went because I didn't understand her. I didn't know how much I needed her, nor how much I'd neglected her ever since God sent her to me.
But one day I awoke and there she stood at the end of my bed, wordlessly inviting me to rise. All day she walked beside me, helping me with every chore-- and because of her presence, the chores became sweet. Dread disappeared and anticipation took its place because of Grace's aid. We accomplished what I could never have done alone.
But Grace could be stern, also. When I'd attempt to do even good things which God had told me to release, Grace would shake her head and back away. And when I'd stubbornly persist in doing those things anyway, because I thought I "should," Grace left the room. And there I'd be without Grace's smiles or her light. Struggle returned and forcing things to work.
And finally, through the hallways of Time and Experience, I learned to recognize Grace. When she was beside me and when she wasn't. I discovered a good thing is no longer good if Grace is missing. I learned I'm all wrong without Grace's strength and ability to cushion my heart from blows.
With Grace, I can do anything. With peace and tranquility. Without her, Life is cruel.
And now when Grace walks into the room, I run to her and we leave together, smiling smiles of courage, to change this weary world.
The woman who moved into my house back in 1993 was confused. I'm surprised she knew how to put on her own shoes.
She thought the verse, "He must increase, but I must decrease," was a euphemism. So utterly symbolic as to become non-practical. You know, a la la verse.
The woman thought she could be full of herself and at the same time, full of God.
See? I told you she was confused.
She'd sit here on the couch in the sunlight and feel sorry for herself because people misunderstood her. She blamed them for their blindness. She had herself on her mind, so the hurts stayed on her mind, also. She wanted to think about God all the time, but her head was filled with her, instead. And she took up a lot of room up there.
And though Jesus lived inside her heart, He was awfully cramped down there because He had to share His room with the junk the woman refused to release. Moldy, smelly stuff like jealousy, selfish ambition, being offended, worry, and pride--there were lots of boxes marked Pride.
But one year--not one day--one year the woman on the couch finally started listening to things she'd previously ignored. She finally allowed herself to be taught that a decrease of her, inside her, meant an increase of God in her. And an increase of all He is--love and light and joy.
So ping! ping! ping! Over the next ten years she's been letting Jesus empty her heart's house. Such a slow process, but it sped up faster when she let Jesus deal with the tons of pride boxes--He tripped on those the most often so He wanted those gone first. As many as possible.
She tried to yank some boxes back, silly woman, but Jesus continued to work with her with incredible patience.
Jesus appreciates having room to move around now. Oh, there's still some junk, but the woman understands the process now. She's seen what freedom looks like--rather like a spacious room with light streaming in the windows.
When Light floods a room, it is full enough.
Where there is Light, there is no dank darkness. No confusion. It's amazing what Light can burn away.
And oh, what miracles cooperation can bring!
And now, even when dark, snowy days are playing outside her windows, there is still Light. And the woman on the couch smiles a whole lot.
I realize why it's called the empty nest, but I wish the connotation wasn't so negative. An adult child flying away is a fresh beginning for all involved. So I'd rather say I'm nearing the New Beginnings time of my life. The New Way for a New Day era.
Well, you get it.
Naomi has spent all of February packing her belongings so I've gotten used to seeing the stacks of boxes upstairs and the empty walls in both her rooms. But then yesterday I opened our linen closet down here and saw that her shelf had been cleared off--empty for the first time in 12 years(!) I stood there with my hand upon the door and in one minute felt a whole gamut of emotions. Sadness for the end of the Naomi Years era, memories of the layers of childhood-through-adulthood bobbles and beads and of watching Naomi open this cupboard hundreds of times.
But then came emotions of anticipation. Another shelf to do with as I wish! All my 1940's homemaker fancies rose in my heart and I refolded our hand towels which had been shoved in the back of the bottom shelf and lovingly, neatly, placed them on Naomi's former middle shelf. My space had been expanded and I was happy to spread out a little.
New things, new times, new ways--expanding to fill the empty places--that's how I want to view this ending/beginning time.
I've spent years preparing for this--rather like gathering things within my heart the same way we've collected things for Naomi's hope chest. Tom and I, also, have collections--hundreds of adventures with only the two of us. We've written a history with just us as a couple and we'll continue living out more adventure stories.
We will be fine because we have spent time preparing for this new phase of our live together.
It needs courage to let our children go, but we are trustees and stewards and have to hand them back to life--and to God. As the old saying puts it: "What I give I have." We have to love them and lose them. ~ Alfred Torrie
I've spent days playing in my new room upstairs. I spackled my daughter's former walls to make them look textured instead of as though they barely made it through the war in London long ago. They are plaster walls with huge holes in them because for 12 years we allowed Naomi to be as creative as she wished in her own room.
In middle school she papered her room with plastic sheets of basketball cards.
During high school and college she stapled (yes, stapled) a variety of 1960's fabrics to the walls, turning them into swirls at the ceiling. I asked her to remove the nails and staples before she moved away--now there are silver dollar-sized chunks of plaster missing--and ok--a couple places with holes the size of saucers.
But as I'm spackling over these walls, I'm not regretting one minute of Naomi's creativity. We encouraged her creativity to flourish, for we wanted to free her artist's soul as ours had rarely been allowed to fly.
So I've been tipsy in paint fumes, even though the three sun-facing windows are opened a bit and two fans blow my flushed face. I listen to the Seaver family laugh together upon my Growing Pains videos and brush over and heal these walls.
Truth is, the happiness wakes me up every hour at night asking, "Is it time to get up yet and play in your new room?"
Some people think I must certainly be whimpering or lonely these early days of my Empty Nest, but I am neither. Even with Tom working his usual 12-hour shifts I run out of hours before I run out of things to do.
Jesus, Himself, is helping this aging lady lift her paint brush with every stroke and we are having the time of our lives with the opened windows and their Spring-on-the-verge air.
And that's what Easter weekend looks like at my house. It looks different than at other homes, but I have learned that is ok.
"There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning." ... Louis L'Amour
Estate sales here back East should be advertised as Time Tunnel Trips. I tell Tom that I go to estate sales with him to tour the old houses, not really to buy anything. He sort-of understands that.
I shouldn't even go at all, for I come away from these much-loved, non-altered, early 1900's houses and it takes hours to shake the house lust from my heart. When I walk up the stairs of these old farmhouses, American Foursquares or Victorians, I'm catapulted into dreams normally reserved for nighttime. You know, the type where you wander around in a large, strange house opening doors and stepping into rooms you never realized were there.
Well, it's like that.
I barely see the knick-knacks displayed with price tags upon tables. And I pay little attention to the estate sale 'vultures' as I not-so-fondly call them, the harried, non-reverential people out to discover re-sell-able bargains. No, I wander zombie-like from floor to floor soaking up the pleasant vibes reverberating from the walls. The leftover aura from years-now-gone when housekeeping was a respected art and a happy family was all that mattered.
Through dreamy-dazed eyes I see yellow kitchens with their original glass-fronted cabinet doors (if there's an ironing board cupboard or a breakfast nook, it takes me days to recover). There's often green and red wooden-handled utensils beside the rainbow of Fiestaware and rolling pins. I think about the hands, now stilled, which used those things as I step through pocket doors and wander through the three-windowed dining room, barely scanning the dishes and embroidered linens on the covered table. No, I choose to peek into the cute little closet with the file cabinet and childrens' drawings beneath the stairs and the closet made into a library.
Sometimes there's a music room/ sewing room with a piano and a closeted sewing machine desk. I look at the old sheet music and the walls almost echo with a family singing. The sconces over the fireplace, the overstuffed chairs from the 1950's, the books in the built-in cases where they've been sitting for eons--my eyes miss none of it.
By now I'm lost in nostalgia and feeling transported, alone, though the vultures are rushing fast-motion up the stairs past me. But I creep up slowly, touching the rail which the woman of the house must have touched twelve-thousand times. At the top, there are green and sky-blue taffeta formals hanging over bedroom doors with striped hat boxes just below. The bedrooms are painted pink, robin's egg blue or are wall-papered in stripes and have fuzzy worn carpet, the largest has a little bay-window-room where there are two chintz-covered chairs beside a table spread with vintage magazines and sepia-toned photos in gold dime store frames. And vintage clothes stuffed into closets. And a sea foam green chenille bedspread upon the bed.
Usually by the time I cross the hall, I'm wondering if people will walk through my home like this when I am gone.
There are 1940's toys in the attic and piles and piles of books, games and dress-up clothes. And a baby walker, the old kind with red, blue and green far-from-hygienic wooden beads. It's in the attic where I usually wonder if anyone helping with this estate sale once played with these toys as a child or if they were the ones who used flour-and-water paste in the scrapbooks in the corner.
I usually save the basement for last, because they push me over the edge. Basements, that is. Not the vultures (though they have been known to get rough). Often the basement is tiled 1950's style and there's an old kitchenette complete with enameled stove, refrigerator and a wringer washer. And a couch from the 1960's, oil paintings, a bar and paneled walls. I imagine teen parties in the days of Buddy Holley and Elvis~~it's impossible not to see all that in my mind.
If I buy anything before my return to this decade, it's usually just a trinket, a souvenir, maybe a small black ceramic elephant. I purchase it to remind me of a walk through a house and all the lovely visions I had there. Just a little something to help me recall a family, especially a woman, who I'll never know,a woman with an unknown story, who lived out her married-life in one house, with one man. And who I am almost certain, did so happily.
Probably 90% of my life is the every day stuff. The cleaning and cooking and laundry and errands around town and endless small tasks.
Anyone else have a life like that?
When I go blog surfing and find people who hate the every day stuff it makes me sad that, really,what they're hating is 90% of the life God gave them upon this planet.
(You may want to pause and let that sink in...)
Well, I used to be there too. During the dreadful 80's (as I not-so-affectionately call them) I bought into the hype that homemaking was for drudges who had settled for living in Nowheresville. I even bought the magazines which reaffirmed that opinion.
Sometimes it take you years to buy out of lies. I know.
Anyone want to enjoy an extra 90% of your life? Start enjoying the cleaning and cooking and laundry and errands and endless small tasks.
In Sarah Ban Breathnach's book, Simple Abundance, she wrote about Nell B. Nichols, her favorite literary domestic writer from the 1920's, 30's and 40's. Nell was the Martha Stewart of her day. Here are my two favorite sentences from Sarah's book:
"Reading her columns is like being spoon-fed black cherry pudding: soothing, comforting, completely satisfying, yet a bit piquant. After an hour with Nell I always want to bob my hair, slip into a simple drop-waist cotton chemise, tie on a checked apron with a bow, and listen to Scott Joplin on the wireless as I dye unbleached muslin curtains 'to pretty up the attic windows.'"
Those sentences make me want to jump up and clean my house from basement to attic. To spin an old Big Band era album and throw open the windows and tie on an apron and get the dishes soaking in sudsy water. Suddenly, cleaning my house for my family sounds like the most delicious thing I could possibly do for them at the moment.
My main point? It matters what I read. It matters that I not fill my head with words which will only breed an ugly discontent within me, but instead,words which will encourage me to love my life.
Yes, I should read articles which will challenge me to broaden my thinking, but only within godly boundaries where there is an incredible joy of obedience.
Lying words have a tendency to hang-out near the wheel of my ship and snatch it away from me and sail me to dark, choppy seas, places I never intended to go. Places from which it's hard to find my way back home.
Out on Life's ocean, I am learning to steer clear of those.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." ... Proverbs 18:21
Does anyone else out there still miss Karen Carpenter?
I remembered her lately because Tom bought a box of record albums at an estate sale and inside was a tan album simply titled, Carpenters. I moved my record player up to my Dream Room so I could feel 17 again in the pink light, and my oh my, Karen spins me back to those years, or rather, to the remembered-magic of being 17. And there was a magic to being a teenager--you just had to brush away all the emotional stuff to find it. Some kids never find it, but I did, and it all comes back when Karen sings:
Long ago, and oh so far away
I fell in love with you
Before the second show...
Your guitar, it sounds so sweet and clear,
But you're not really here,
It's just the radio...
And yet, the bitter-sweetness gets in the way. The sadness of Karen's life, well, I hear it all over her voice and then I remember the movie of her life and all the articles I've read since her death. Yes, the sadness gets in the way and sometimes I walk over and lift up the arm of the record player and let it rest.
And in the silence I return to being 46 and a little stiff in my joints and so far away from being 17 years old in my family's house. But happy because of who God has become to me and our history together. And because of this life He has given me like a present.
And slowly the ache goes away--all the useless wishes that Karen had had a happy life, too. I wish I could play her songs and feel pure joy. But there's always that ache in her voice and in my memories of her.
I wish I could thank her for leaving us her music and for reminding me that it doesn't matter what people say about my appearance. It matters only what God says. When He and I are in harmony, then there's a harmony to my days--not always circumstance-wise, of course, but heart-wise.
Long ago and oh so far away...
Someday I will be long ago and far away and I pray that God will bring smiles, not sadness, not a bitter-sweetness to those of you who will remember me.
One negative about keeping a blog is that I get tested on just about everything I write.
Like today. Awhile after I wrote that piece about emotions, Naomi came home to get more of her boxes to take over to her apartment. Things began well, then they collapsed into the one thing Naomi does which pushes all my buttons. She once again insinuated that I know nothing about Real Life, that somehow, somewhere, my brains fell out, that although she is half my age, she has somehow had twice my experience.
And I'd been having such a lovely morning, too. Sigh.
Well, I partly passed the Naomi Test. I didn't sink to her level and say a bunch of stuff in retaliation. I only gently said a couple things to defend myself. For me, that's big. And then I stepped back into my dream room--my peaceful place of escape at the top of the stairs, and quietly closed the door. In the old days I would have slammed it.
So far, so good. But then, as I sat back on my floor and continued sorting through my magazines in the sunlight, I cried a little. But then I remembered what I'd written this morning and how this was most likely a test to see if I really believed those words. I did. And then God was there sitting beside me--He even nudged my shoulder like a friend and said, "Come on. You're doing fine. You know she's young and still has much to learn. Cheer up."
And that reminded me of Encouragement 101. The best thing I learned in that class?
"But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord" ...I Sam. 30:6
You can't always wait for a truckload of Christians to come along and peel you off the Highway of Life. Sometimes you just have to ask God to do it. You have to let Him be The Great Encourager when all your regular encouragers are out to lunch, when they've not picked up the signals--spoken or otherwise--relaying the fact that you need some kind, uplifting words.
Sometimes, in fact, God purposely scrambles those signals in hopes that we will come to Him for encouragement. In that case, it does no good to get upset with the people who failed to race to us when we needed them. Often it's God wanting us to run to the Throne, instead of the phone in times of need. (I am stealing that statement, I'll confess.)
I am so thankful for Encouragement 101. Kind, healing words from other people--really, they're wonderful! But sometimes even the best encouragers fail us, for whatever reasons.
There is only one Encourager who never, ever fails.
As a teenager, I used to anticipate special days with parties or school trips or family journeys. My mother would tell me, "If you don't count on things too much, then you won't be disappointed if they don't happen." But I rebelled against that sad belief and kept on dreaming of big days and grand times ahead.
And now at mid-life I still wake-up, throw the covers back and smile all the way to the kitchen. I make my pretend coffee in the microwave in my soft-yellow Fiestaware cup, hook my finger into the handle, then carry it carefully up the stairs and play my old Glenn Miller record, sit on the bed beside the breezy window, sip my coffee and dream.
And I thank God that this will be a wonderful day, even if just because He will match all my steps and whisper hope and love and encouragement to me every summer minute that I turn my head to listen.
I thank Him that this day will be amazing simply because He is.
Come what may, He will be here. If there is joy, He'll be here to share that joy. And if there be sorrow, He'll be here for that, too.
But I am anticipating scads and scads more joy than sorrow today!
"Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." ... Psalm 23:6
One afternoon I stood ironing Tom's shirts up in my dream room while watching The Road To Avonlea. A strange-to-others-but-not-to-me thought came to me as I swished the iron: "If Tom should die before I do, I will be thankful that I always ironed his shirts and pants. That I took the time to make sure he looks nice when he leaves the house."
Ok, that probably sounds a little weird.
But what I'm saying? I believe love considers another person's welfare, first. Ironing is not my favorite thing, but I do it so that Tom will look his best. So that he won't look like a sloppy, wrinkled Christian. (My clothes are the wrinkle-free kind. His aren't.)
I like this definition of wisdom: Wisdom is to do today what you'll be satisfied with later.
I like to think about later. I often ask myself, "Years from now will you regret that you did/did not do this deed? When you are in Heaven, will you be able to gaze back and be truly contented with what you see? Will you have lived fully and obediently?"
Sometimes, by asking those questions, I'm able to stir myself out of the old recliner and move my tend-to-be-lazy self into action. Thinking ahead has saved me from having a much longer list of regrets.
And that's a Good Thing.
First thing in the morning, the house felt like a sauna because the great outdoors was a sauna.
Second thing, the vet called at 8:30 a.m. to say that the previous day's tests came back for our (favorite) cat, Lennon. Looks like he's a diabetic. I will have to give him shots (Tom faints at the sight of needles. I am so not kidding.).
Third thing, Tom had the day off, but he wasn't feeling well. So we camped out in our room all day with the air-conditioner and tv and DVD's. I embroidered a little bit. It was too hot to do anything else.
Fourth thing, Naomi emailed me to say she'd been very sick since Sunday, had seen the doctor on Tuesday and was told she had an ear infection in each ear. We called her to see if she wanted us to bring her anything, but she said no thanks.
We all have days like that. The temptation when I do? To meditate upon what is going wrong. To play it over and over and over in my mind like a video tape you watch until the tape wears thin.
And here is the test-- will I play that tape in my head until I have it memorized? Until it overwhelms me to where I just let the sad waves wash over me, making me unable to reach out and help anyone else out there in that sea?
Or will I choose discipline? To make my mind go only where I want it to go--to things which are lovely, worthy of praise, excellent and of a good report. To just take care of what I can take care of and then trust that God and Grace will handle the rest.
There is a season for everything. Yesterday was my 'season' for acceptance, for trusting that this, too, shall pass. For keeping foremost in my mind and heart that God is still God, He is still good, and He is still in control.
And He still brings joy in the morning.
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." ... Hebrews 10:31
One morning while getting dressed in our bedroom to go shopping, this thought came: "No. Stay home, instead." There was just a tad of insistence about it.
Hmm. I started to argue,"But I need to buy _____", then stopped. I decided to put off shopping until the next morning.
An hour (or so) later, the kitchen phone rang and when I answered it, a woman from church spoke to me in a whispered voice. She was at work--and contemplating suicide.
God helped me talk her out of it. I hung up the phone then thought, "Oh! this is why I was supposed to stay home."
Probably a year later, Tom and I were visiting with a close friend of mine and her husband. As we drank our coffee, my friend criticized her husband a few times and the rest of us, I could tell, began feeling uncomfortable. I thought, "When ____ and I are alone, I need to tell her why dissing ones husband in public is a bad idea."
But then a thought came. "No. Wait awhile. Someday the timing will be better."
So a month passed, my friend and I chatted lots of times and I nearly forgot about the incident at her house. But then one morning while we talked in a coffee shop, she began listing her husband's negative traits and I heard, "Now," inside my head. "Speak to her now about her criticisms from a month ago."
And so I asked God to help me say things correctly and-- feeling like I was risking our friendship-- took the plunge. My friend received my words graciously, with much humility, even apologizing to me, but I said her husband needed the apology more than I did.
So that afternoon when my friend's husband arrived home from work, she sat upon their bedroom floor and apologized for all the years of criticism. And then? Her husband began to cry. He'd paid one month's rent on an apartment and had planned to leave her and their children the next day.
He changed his mind and all these years later, they're still happily together.
Some Christians believe their obedience--or disobedience--only affects themselves, not others, and that God will just get someone else to help somebody in need if they flake out.
Sometimes, yes. Many times, no ... and I feel gambling with our disobedience is never worth the risk.
"When I say to a wicked person, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood.
But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself." ... Ezekiel 3:18, 19
These verses explain why I don't just write 'fluffy-headed' posts here in my blog. The responsibility is too great for that. My desire is to stay in tune with God so that my words will be timely, especially for anyone who's searching ... or sinking.