A Time To Give

By this time next year we will be in Florida. I have high hopes. I have a few plans. Of course I want to start up a tangible version of my Facebook group, Wild Flowers. To view what that is all about you can read the group description here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/367147110119734/

It’s basically a call to help us as women to put down our cooking utensils, our commitments to our babies and families, our jobs, and enjoy a little more time in outdoor adventures with other women of like-mind. Why? Well you can read about that here: https://simplelifesecrets.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/wild-flowers/

But I have bigger plans than just that. I love God. I love helping people. I hear a call to help the less fortunate. Tim and I try to give our “offering” or “tithe” or “purposing” (or whatever you like to call it) to people in need. Whether it be to help a struggling family, to feed the homeless on the streets of Austin, or to help a flooded community rebuild etc.

This week for instance we bagged 12 lunches and found the homeless in Austin. And that is good sometimes. Sometimes there is a conviction to do that.





But mostly I like to help people I know. People who I can (or have) poured my life into.

So here is my big plan. (I’d do it where I am right now, but the long-term relationships this ‘ministry’ requires would fall short in light of the fact we will be leaving here in the spring/summer).

My plan is to incorporate the women of my Wild Flowers group (and any men who care to help), and start cooking meals together for people who have fallen on hard times. People they know. People I know. We take our own offering- our own money- and we pour it into buying the ingredients needed to cook the meals. We can also use the fresh produce from our own gardens. We do not register as a non profit. We are not under the umbrella of/ or need the assistance of/ any denomination. Why? In this way we avoid regulation, and the government can’t shut us down. We are simply friends helping friends. There is no law against that. Our reward is not in the tax return. Our reward comes from the heavenly Father and the sheer joy of doing what He asked us to do.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5: 22-23

It may not always be a meal. Sometimes we may choose to pool our money and help someone pay their electric bill or their rent etc. These will all be people our group knows or have been recommended to. People who have checked out as genuinely needy and going through a temporary hard time. People whom we can love on and build a relationships with. For me, it is ultimately because I want to show them Jesus. This may not be everyone in the group’s motive. But I do not judge that. As long as they want to help, let them, let us, help.

So here is my shout out to my ladies in Florida (Panama City/Mexico Beach area) who will live near me and want to spend time together outdoors and do a little good in the process. All I need is a few strong minded women who are full of compassion. Think about it. Talk to me. School me. Join me if you can. You know how to reach me, and for those of you who do not: sing53@hotmail.com is a good place to start.

Praying to the Lord to bless this and hoping great things in His name!
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” ~ Albert Schweitzer


We live in a new age. Everyone is an expert. Seemingly new ideas and philosophies are wowing those with improper upbringing and lack of a fundamental value system, common decency, common sense, and experience. So when a “new” idea comes along many takers jump on board.

Take for instance the idea of living a “positive” lifestyle. “I’m no longer going to let negativity into my life.” is the modern cry. But I have noticed that many of the people who voice this stance are often perpetrating more negativity than they realize. Because I think many times there is a misunderstanding about the true nature of positivity. For what is true positivity? Is it living a care-free life void of conflict or distraction from their goals? Really?

I have  a few ideas on the subject, and I’ve laid them out here in: “What Positivity Isn’t” and What Positivity Is.” Tell me if you can get down with this, if you can get on board, if you can pick up what I am putting down. :-)

What Positivity Isn’t:

  • A lack of true peace, contentment and inner joy, no matter what is going on around us.
  • The need to avoid conflict at all costs.
  • A refusal to look deep into one’s soul to examine if I may have contributed to a problem when dealing with relational issues.
  • The need of drugs or alcohol to achieve a calm and restful state of being.
  • Living from Monday to Friday without any greater goal than looking forward to the weekend so that I may party with my “friends.” Positivity is not getting drunk or high every Saturday night. That is a temporary ‘happiness’ that leaves one empty, yet again, the next day.
  • Having no concept of/or taking no responsibility for/ putting true effort into making relationships work. Fruitful and rewarding relationships take effort. An extreme amount of effort from both parties.
  • Hanging on to my possessions and my perceived freedoms at all costs
  • Not taking responsibility for my actions.
  • Positivity isn’t only to talk about subjects that make me feel happy or upbeat. Or to only hang around people who are seemingly only happy or upbeat. (“He [Jesus] was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” -Isa 53:3) Why was Jesus like this? Ask yourself why was C.S. Lewis or Bob Dylan like this? All for the same reason. They contemplated the deep things of life, didn’t shy away from them, avoid them, or let them go. They contemplated pain and suffering, and they tried to do something about it. They always strove to go deeper, harder, stronger, longer. They were, in fact, the real deal.
    Does that mean they did not have inner joy? Of course not. I know for sure that all had serious inner joy. For knowing all things as Jesus did, and not being afraid to contemplate all things, as Dylan & C.S. Lewis did are what brings about ultimate peace. For if we do not search, then how can we ever arrive at the answers?
  • Positivity is not avoiding people who encourage you to be a better person and steer you toward better behaviors.
  • Positivity will not give in to the temptation of pride.

What Positivity Is:

  • Genuine peace, joy and contentment that can only come from a relationship with, trust in, and an understanding of Jesus Christ and what He desires for our life.
  • Living an honest life. Foremost being honest with oneself and before one’s God (“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts” -Psa 139:23)
  • Tarrying with my brother or sister, hearing their concerns and bearing their burdens with much forbearance and kindness. (“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” – Gal 6:2).
  • Learning to be content with a few good friends in whose hearts you can trust, instead of the false validation of many friends whose hearts are not with you.
  • Does not avoid conflict, but deals with conflict head on as one who is courageous and one who is kind- who does not seek his/her own comfort. Realizing that without conflict no relationship will ever delve beneath the surface and become great or beautiful or truly comfortable. This is true in our adult relationships and is especially true when raising our growing children.
  • Positivity is gentleness and patience in attitude and manner. (Kathleen, especially, needs to work on this when she feels hurt from others)
  • Is knowing your own worth no matter what anyone else tries to tell you that you are, or you are not. God says you were uniquely and wonderfully made!
  • Deals with sin head on and honestly.
  • A positive person will not consider themselves as entitled or elite, but humbles oneself and avails oneself to service in the kingdom. Whatever it takes. Whatever the Lord requires at any given moment in order to build relationships, in order to mentor, or in order to build the kingdom.
  • Is not selfish with their things or their time.
  • Is not a respecter of persons.
  • Positivity is content with being alone when it is required.
  • It knows oneself and owns up to the good and the bad in oneself. Works on oneself and gives oneself a break at the same time. But more than that, knows one’s Savior and knows Who holds the entire universe, and everything that goes on in it, in the palm of His hand. And rests in that at all times, even when there is no one else standing beside you in the whole world. That is positivity at its finest.
  • Positivity is spending joyful hours with children and the elderly.
  • Positivity is giving to the poor and spending time with them. Realizing their value and their worth. (“Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”- James 2:5)
  • Positivity is loving at all times in word and in action.

So maybe it is time to re-think the positive lifestyle. Maybe it is time to dig a little deeper. I guarantee that if you do, you will smile even in whatever darkness the world might throw your way. And then the, “I’m no longer going to let negativity into my life” becomes a very big job indeed. But you will be on the right track and you will see great success.


Here are a few definitions of the word “respect” from various dictionary resources:
“esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability.”
“the condition of being esteemed or honored.”
“a formal expression or gesture of greeting, esteem, or friendship”
“to show regard or consideration for.”
The Cambridge Dictionary:
“the polite attitude shown toward someone or something that you consider important.”
The Oxford Dictionary:
“Due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.”

Life for me over the course of the last few years has been a grueling lesson in self-respect.

I am a kind person. Known for giving family and friends second, third, and seventh chances. I think in many ways this is good and right. Forgiveness is necessary. It is necessary to purify the poisoning that un-forgiveness brings into our own soul. It is necessary for offering relief, mercy, and grace to the offender. And necessary in the greater recognizing of our own desperate need for forgiveness from a loving Savior and from people whom we have hurt.

I was also raised by an unassuming woman who would have rather melted into the walls behind her, than take anything for herself. Whether that anything came in the form of praise, rights, monetary gain, or respect for her opinions. Yes, more than once I saw her sacrifice her own self-worth in public only to cry lonely within the privacy of her four walls. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18. Selah. Bless you Mama.

And though I am her daughter, I am coming to learn a different way. I am learning that there is a fine line between losing one’s self for others, and giving them your self- respect. Because in the end giving your self-respect to others is doing them an injustice because it isn’t Truth. And anything that is born out of a lie will not manifest into anything good in their lives. When you give others your self-respect, you are also doing yourself an injustice for the exact same reason.

How do I know that as soon as you give your self-respect away you begin living a lie? Because The Bible tells me that you are VALUABLE. You can see this concept fleshed out here in my blog, The Value of A Person.

But there is another way that we can know that to give away our self-respect is to live a lie. And this is in a much more practical sense, if you will. When we live a self-depreciating life style we are equipping the people in our lives to a) not know who we really are, and b) not respect who we are. People will eventually view us in the exact manner that we have taught them to view us.

I came to recognize this as a grave error in my own life in my late forties. So when I achieved that grandiose milestone of 50 years, I made a promise to myself. “Never again”, I said. From this day forward, I live who I am. Not who you want me to be- because that makes you happy and comfortable. Not who you want me to be. And not who you want me to be.  Me.  The ‘Me’ God created me to be. It was good enough for Him. It’s always been good enough for me. The only one it maybe hasn’t been good enough for is you.

But life is funny. Here is the thing I have learned. As soon as the Truth takes hold in us and permeates our being, the appollyon- the father of lies- the roaring lion- abaddon himself- will show up. And true to his namesake, will stop at nothing to remove the Truth from our lives and render us devalued once again.

For the past few years now, satan has manifested himself in this stratagem in various ways, and as a result:

• I have had to stop initiating contact with a close family relation because s/he proved time and time again that s/he did not value relationship with me as a high priority. I wasn’t a medium priority, and as it turned out I wasn’t even a bottom of the rung priority. There comes a point when we must accept Truth. Live in it. Don’t rescue friends or family from the consequences of the behaviors they exhibit. Live in the truth of where your relationship is at. Allow them to do the same. This is their expression of your perceived value in their lives. Respect: “the condition of being esteemed or honored.”

• I have had to acknowledge the bullying mentality of another close relative, and remove them from good standing, and re-erect old boundaries toward them in my life. This person also exhibited lack of respect and support for me as an individual and my choices. Respect: “to show regard or consideration for.”

• I had to acknowledge that a friend’s loyalty and desire for deeper friendship was lip service only when I tested my suspicions and stopped being the one to initiate every phone call and plan our every outing by not calling him/her, and naturally he/she has never called since, and I do not expect to ever hear from him/her ever again. Respect: “a formal expression or gesture of greeting, esteem, or friendship”

• I had to accept the fact and cut lose another friend who told me that I was a very important person in their life and that this person had connection with me that he/she did not have with other people, but dropped me like a hot potato whenever any of those other people were around. Respect: “the polite attitude shown toward someone or something that you consider important.”

• I always feel profoundly disrespected when dealing with ‘church’ people, since , when asked, I’ve always tried to patiently explain to them how my church service and worship to God may look quite a bit different from their church service and worship. And that I find the way I do it is, for me, more effective for my growth in His service. I always give them plenty of respect and space to worship God in any way they like and in their preferred gatherings. But when I do not show up to their particular form of worship, I am branded as backslidden or rebellious.” Respect: “Due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.”

• I love my husband. But he is a charmer. Sure, he charms me. But evidently he charms everyone else around him as well. Especially the women. I’ve been in a few relationships in my life, but can’t say that I have been in any before where I am pretty much invisible. I can sit down to visit with any number of our female acquaintances, and basically be ignored for up to two hours while they direct all of their eye contact, all of their questions, all of their laughter, and all of their dialogue at my husband. It cracks me up when they remember that I am there. You can see it in their eyes, “Oh, I should say something to her. But I have no idea what to say to her because I don’t understand her.” Then, bam, just as quickly as the thought of me got in the way, they are back to enjoying the light in his eyes. Ah, such is life. Disrespect. The world is rife with it these days. The course of action would be to say, “Would you like to visit with my husband alone? And why, exactly, do you introduce me along with him, as your friend?” But, really, what’s the use? At this point I have as little respect for you as you do for me. Even my husband says it is starting to get tiresome. Because, he says, when someone disrespects his wife, they disrespect him. Respect: “the condition of being esteemed or honored.”

So, it’s been a tough few years to say the least. Mainly because satan has attacked me through the people who once were the closest to me. But perhaps they weren’t as close as I thought after all. And if my standing up for myself and asserting some self-respect has cost me relationships, then maybe it is time to get new relationships. Perhaps it is not by coincidence that I find myself in a different country. And I do, actually, take ownership for some of it. For I have taught people how they may treat me. What they can, and cannot get away with. I thought I was being kind. But I wasn’t being kind, for I was only bringing a half Truth.

Still, I am not always good at assertiveness. In fact, it is my least favorite thing to do, truth be known. But it is becoming a little more a part of me every day as I realize the folly of other routes. These days the people who meet me learn pretty quickly who I am. Take it or leave it. I don’t run with crowds I have to impress anymore. I don’t run with people who aren’t impressed with me, or who haven’t got time for a little give and take.

Does this narrow my sphere of friends? Sure it does. But I would rather have one genuine friend than 10 friends who don’t respect who I am. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Still, I love those who have gone before. I pray breakthroughs in our relationships. I pray genuineness. I pray forgiveness, and God’s love to all. And to those who have gone before, I’m sorry for the confusion. Who I was twenty years ago, I am not today. Hopefully we are all constantly changing and growing.

With much love and respect.

*Note to self:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~ Marianne Williamson

The Forgotten Word

I felt her the other day.

She was floating above me as usual.

Her mood was pensive. She was staring at me, lost in thought. Well not really staring at me, more like gazing past me, but into me.

She was the last thing I’d expected. I’d been doing my thing. You know, the thing in the vehicle. Reveling in the freedom of the open road with sunglasses swag and favorite CDs blaring. Singing along in full voice, matching every note because I can like that. And quite the vehicle it was. I keep it immaculate you know. Inside and out. Aint no shabby run of the mill.

And there she was. The one who raised me. The one who’d never obtained a driver’s license of her own. The one who’d never owned a vehicle. Her husband owned one at intervals, but mostly didn’t. And when he did, they were eye sores. Run down, and barely limping down the streets.

She usually st­­­ood on the street and waited for rides. Rides from kind neighbors or church people. I can remember waiting with her from time to time and hating every minute of it. And then, because asking for rides strained her pride and her heart, there was the monthly taxi ride to the grocery store where she filled the cabbie’s trunk with twenty bags of food to feed her flock.

As she hovered above me in the spirit world, I saw her peer into my eight seater. An eight seater! And only me in the relatively new SUV! “Where are the folks, Kathleen? You have all that space and you haven’t loaded up a needy family? Told them to climb on board and shared what you have? Have you forgotten your beginnings and from whence you came?” Oh Mama, how can I explain to you that I don’t really know any people who are in need? You have to understand that where we live there are no poor people, Mama. At least, if there are any, I never see them. And then I wondered how it is I moved so far away from that realm- where the poor people reside, where they hang out. Why don’t I see them anymore? What and who have I become?

In our defense we have made a conscious decision to move off the “hill” where we currently reside. The elite hill with all the other elite and special ones. We are moving back to the land of the usual, the common folk. But our move has been postponed for one year due to extenuating circumstances. Soon, Mama…Soon I can and will help more people. But as soon as the thought inadvertently left my lips, I knew soon wasn’t good enough. Somehow, on some deep level, I know that I have fallen short of the calling of my Master. It is my problem, and lies squarely on my shoulders.

This same day, I bought over $200 in groceries for two weeks for an abode that houses a mere two people. And as I was unloading the groceries into an already abundant pantry, and clearing out some deteriorated vegetables from the week prior, I saw her again with that same pensive look on her face. Mama wasn’t judging me. I didn’t feel that. I only felt her concern.

“You have so much Kathleen and you are only two people. Dear, why are you throwing that out? How could you have let that go to waste? You know I could have fed all seven of you kids and your Father on what you throw out each week. Precious food that could have meant the difference between my children going hungry and health to their bones. Couldn’t you try a little harder to preserve what you have and share with more people? You have so much.” So much. She was right. And for the first time in a long time, I hung my head in shame.

Shame. It is a forgotten word. And I’ve been above it for so long. I hardly ever wear it any more. Shame is kind of outdated isn’t it? Kind of like repentance. I mean, who really does that anymore?

Excuse me. I have a date with my knees. On the floor. With the Well Spring of Life. He can fill me up and fix me. Remedy this mess. Right this wrong.

Don’t shower me with excuses. I know what I need. This is between me and God. This is the difference between a seared conscience and a broken spirit.

Still working your magic, Mama. Long after you’re gone. Those prayers you prayed for my soul are still producing roots that are running deep. May God help me.

I love you Mama. And though I don’t deserve you, I’m always glad when you come.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

Vibrant- alive- energy returning.  Pretty in the mirror again. I’ve got this.  I’ll just pick up the pieces. They’re still there on the floor. I can just put them back to where I had them arranged before— before the fall—and start again. I’ve got this! Hope.  Belief.  Joy.  A good two weeks of productivity. All is right in the world. Point A to point B.  Simple stuff.

And then the physiological madness drains every bit of sensibility, every bit of cohesiveness from my mind and body.  Subtly at first, like a whisper. Stealth, like a cougar above its prey. I never see it coming. I am never prepared. The dinner dishes are left undone. The guitar is laid to rest.  Routine is out the window. Meticulously traced plans are as lost as the discipline that formed them.

The object of my affections becomes my enemy, and all people must be held at bay at all costs. Nobody gets in. If I ate right, drank right and exercised well, the pain and duration are minimized to a degree. But the mounting guilt never is. The self-abuse and loathing at the fruitless, useless thing that I am reduced to, is too much to bear.

My faith and prayers endure relentless onslaught.  Where I used to be so strong and bold for the Lord, I now waver. Feeble is my walk. Sketchy is my follow through. I blame myself.  I beat myself up. I simply fall down without the gumption to get back up.

But I forget that I am not to blame.  There is nothing I could do better- no line of defense- no blockage- no preparedness that I could set in place. The child-bearing years will go out in travail with a shriek, like the physical act of birth itself, and the road to redemption for a woman is not easy.

To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children” ~ Gen 3:16
But women will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.~ 1 Tim 2:15

And then, finally, a week and a half in- a faint light glimmers at the end of the tunnel. I might just make it if I can hang on just a few more days.

And then the sun comes out. Vibrant- alive- energy returning.  Pretty in the mirror again. I’ve got this.  I’ll just pick up the pieces. They’re still there on the floor. I can just put them back to where I had them arranged before— before the fall—and start again. I’ve got this!

And maybe, just maybe, the madness is finished for good this time and the cycle is forever broken. Hasten the day! For a life interrupted is injury and insult- A crooked gait, gravely misunderstood by everyone in its path.

I can only ask forgiveness loved ones.  I can ask you to love me and not leave me.  I can ask for you to wait for my beautiful to return in all of its glory. (If God should grant us life to see that day).  I can ask you to hold the hand of the confused.  The novice navigator. Consider this: the greatest nurturers and caregivers on the planet are suddenly in need of so much care.  Don’t look past us or dismiss us.  Forgive us our outbursts and our angst. Love us unconditionally this one time, more than all the times before.  Hold us and remember how much we truly love you, and how brilliant we can be.  Remember that we are hurting, but will, one day, in the not too distant future- be set free.


The echo of believers came to me in song. A harmonious chorus lifting in joyful noise.  And we stood arm in arm swaying sure and strong against the atrocious evils of this world.  For the world, right now, has slipped into a darker place.  Reverted, once again, to an uncivilized era of Godlessness, where the prince of this world runs rampant with hideous crimes and cunning deceit.

It started on Friday with a Facebook post from my friend Matthew W. in Canada,

“It’s Friday….but Sunday’s coming.”

He was, of course, referring to the fact that this is the day that we have put aside to remember that fateful Friday when Jesus was nailed to the cross, but rose from the grave three days later on what we celebrate as glorious Easter Sunday.

This was the first reminder and it was more than a little encouraging. For hadn’t I just read another post that very day lamenting the massacre of 150 university students in Kenya? Hadn’t that week also brought disheartening news about the impending loss of Israel’s greatest ally while she howled in disbelief? Hadn’t this year to date seen mass executions, desecrations, plunder, rape, hangings, corruptions and peril?  Did one not have reason to mourn?  Did one not have reason to shutter in disbelief?

Did one not make assessment as to how one might protect one’s own if, and when, the violence invaded one’s own land?  Did one not have cause to weigh one’s own faith to assess their willingness to stand in belief even unto death?

“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” Revelation 12:11

And for those who do not know or understand the prophecies- for those who do not know God, His written word, or His nature- was there not cause to wonder where HE was in all of this?  How He could allow such atrocities under a loving and watchful eye?

And then we are reminded,

“It is Friday….but Sunday’s coming.”

I saw your posts on Friday.

I saw your posts on Saturday.

And then, I saw your posts on Sunday:

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not there, but he has risen” Luke 24: 5-6

“He is risen.  He is risen, indeed.”

“Happy resurrection Sunday.”

“Why the folded napkin matters”

“Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.”

etc. etc. etc.

And then, some lovely emails from some beautiful family members came in Sunday morning:

Happy Easter! Today I’m reminded of how much Christ has done for me. I’m especially thankful that He was gracious enough to die for me, so that I could grow up, live , and be apart of an amazing family. I’m ultra blessed to have you as such amazing parents, but more importantly, amazing friends :) Christ really knew what he was doing when he put you both in my lives. I’m blessed beyond words to have you both always there encouraging me with my walk with God and always being amazing role models of what being a Christian looks like and what unconditional love looks like. Thank you both from the bottom of my heart. I love you!

Happy Easter back at you-This morning the birds were singing as the first shadows began to strain the darkness from the air. I stood outside for a moment, with the fragrance of spring recalling a thousand memories. I considered that morning, so long ago that brought us all hope of an eternal morning. No pain, no sorrow, no tomorrow.

Upon reading all of these beautiful words, I was reminded that those of us who believe are strong in our belief.  I did not feel so all alone.  I did not feel so disheartened.

Many of you who know me, know that I am not a huge fan of the North American church model.  I think that we have gone way off course and have entered into a hearty corruption all our own.  I do, however, believe wholeheartedly in the gathering together with the saints, I just believe it should be done quite a bit differently….quite a bit more scripturally.  But today! On this day, I longed to stand with you- together arm in arm in our collective services- and proclaim with you in unity and in power that Jesus rose from the dead “…and if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” and that, “this promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”  I missed that opportunity to gather with you today, and I was sorrowful because of it.  I missed it, not by intention, but by circumstance.

And that is why your posts from the Facebook community hugged me and held me up.  And your diversity was impressive and eye-opening.  You were bikers. You were musicians who have never graced the doors of a religious ‘building.’ You were evangelists who had fallen from grace. You were littered with tattoos.  You smoked marijuana. You drank beer. (Shhhh…I won’t tell the church goers who are addicted to food, and whose drug of choice is coffee). You were housewives running after rambunctious toddlers.  You were Baptists (heaven forbid!) You were Catholics (good grief!) You were Churches of Christ (but of course!) You were Holy rollers (rock on!) You were Mormon (huh?) You were business owners.  You were blue collar workers. You were Dylan fans.  You were U2 fans. You were Metallica fans. You were republicans. You were democrats. You were independents. You were doctors and nurses.  You had just…. lost….a ….child….

But you stood up, and you spoke up.  What does this tell me about all of you?  This tells me you are committed.  This tells me you are courageous. In a world that is offended (translated, convicted) when you say ‘God bless you,’ you still rose up one more year to proclaim that God came to earth, took on the form of a man and lived among us.  And He, who created us, we killed. And He willingly died as a sacrifice for our sins, then rose again on the 3rd day so that we, too, could live again, though we might die.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

…in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Brothers and sisters, it’s Friday….but Sunday’s a comin!

The Gift Of Discernment

discernment                                           The Most Discerning Man I Know  :)

I created some confusion in my last blog. I said that I was “afraid” of people and that was misleading.  It was a bad word choice.  I’m actually quite good with people. Many friends and acquaintances would attest to that. As revealing an exercise as writing is, it is important to note and respect its unique power and unique danger especially with words inadvertently penned.

A better phrase would have been, “I am overwhelmed and exhausted in the presence of many spirits.”

Let me explain.

I was raised in a poor family with six brothers and sisters.  One of whom was mentally handicapped. Please don’t query me on my politically incorrect word usage for mental retardation.  We’ve lived through several of the world’s changing phrases my brother Len and I. Mentally retarded, mentally handicapped, mentally disabled, mentally challenged, intellectually disabled, to name a few. Whatever phrase you want to use, it will mean something different to you than it will to me.  For you, it’s the latest, greatest, most accepted, and most sensitive LABEL. For me- he’s my brother and I love him no matter what label you put on him.

My brother Len was a year younger than me.  That made him my shadow. That made him my charge. It also meant that every insult hurled his way hit me first- full on. It wasn’t enough that we tumbled out of the Rocky Mountains, dirty little waifs, shoddy in second hand clothing, and the brunt of every joke that cruel and unenlightened children contemptuously slathered upon us.  Here, too, was an oddly moving and speaking character whose abundant “difference” incurred wrath from other children and one heartless family member as well.

Some say that I have the gift of discernment. And I do. It is of the heightened variety. It is not on its practice run, nor in its rudimentary stages. It is developed. Keenly.

But I have often wondered- at what stage does God give out the gifts? Is it at birth? Is it when He decides we need them the most? Or are they developed over time?

For many years I did not realize- was not aware- that I had the gift of discernment. I thought everybody could do what I do: read people’s hearts based on spirit lurches that were plainly visible to me.  It wasn’t until around the age of forty that it became apparent to me that other people did not all share in this experience of knowing- or that I did indeed carry in my spirit the gift of discernment.

Looking back now I see this gifting probably as a kindness and a stabilizer from the Lord. A protection and a guide that would lift me above the chaos that would ensue. I was always on high alert. I never knew what  special form of misery was going to present itself with each new school day.

Back then, mentally handicapped individuals were integrated into the regular classrooms without special assistance or attendants. Len was a sitting duck for ridicule. I learned to see them coming. At first I bought their phony kindness hook, line, and sinker. You know, that sweet manipulation of our emotions just before they went in for the kill.  Where a friend at last turned out to be the meanest bully of them all.  So this is where my gift of discernment was developed. Or this is where it was given to me, there, when I needed it the most. I learned to discern every little body flinch. I deciphered the layers beneath their words. I dissected intent. And I did it all in a flash. In a split second. I absorbed it all. And that is how I lived my entire life.  I did it unconsciously.  I did it with grace. With giggles. In shyness. In movements, mannerisms, and conversations. “To survive it you play deaf and dumb.” (a brilliant quote from the man pictured at the head of this blog).  I have the gift of discernment and it is strong.

And this is why I say that” I am overwhelmed and exhausted in the presence of many spirits.”

My gift of discernment has morphed into a sophisticated and grown-up understanding of people.

Like you, I try to surround myself with people I trust. People who I know have my best interest at heart. People who are genuinely kind and easy going. I like hanging out in those crowds. A safe environment where my zanny, creative and audacious self can shine forth. And I do have these people in my life, pockets of them here and there. Oases in a desert. Sparkling water chugging down a parched throat.

But put me five minutes in a room with a mixed bag of people who may or may not fit into this category and I start to absorb. I may be carrying on a conversation, but consciously and unconsciously I pick up every little thing. I pick up motives. I pick up intentions. I pick up arrogance and agenda. I pick up pain and inadequacies.  I am especially sensitive to the odd man out- the least popular. I pick up hurts and loves.  I pick up goodness. And I am drawn toward it. I do not even have a name for everything that I pick up. But it sticks to me and I carry it around like a lead weight.

That’s why I retreat. That is why I go and try and work out all of this mess quietly, privately in song. “Music is the one incorporeal entrance into the higher world of knowledge which comprehends mankind but which mankind cannot comprehend.” – Ludwig van Beethoven

I’ll come back again after a day or two. And I may even be the life of the party for a while. Why?  Because I genuinely love people and desire relationship. It’s just an awful lot for me to absorb- that great big world out there, because I pay attention. Not by choice, but by design.


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