I still mean it #LetGraceReign

This morning I woke up to the horrific news that my candidate had lost the election.

I went to bed convinced we were going to have our first woman President elect, but by the time I woke up, the USA had made a huge mistake.

But I stand by what I said yesterday  https://screamofcontinuousness.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/letgracereign

#LetGraceReign was not just a mantra for being nice to people if my team won.

#LetGraceReign applies even now.

Even though my heart is filled with fear. I know that God is still the one who sets up rulers and tears them down.

My 8 year old daughter is crushed and horrified.  I spent the first 15 minutes of my day praying with her.

Praying for our neighbors, our friends who are Black, Muslim, Gay, Transgender, Latino.

We even prayed for Trump.  That God would confront him and radically change his heart and mind.

I’m frustrated.

I’m angry.

But even now, I will not authorize hate. Not towards people who voted for him, not towards people who voted for 3rd parties, not even towards the protest people who stayed home.

I believe that Trump is inimical to all decent humans.  Therefore all decent humans (whether Christian or not) just became missionaries in hostile territory.

I have an advantage over people who don’t believe God and the Bible.  I know that Trump cannot touch my soul.  I know that my redeemer lives. And I know whom I have believed and He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day.

I’ve given my soul into God’s keeping long ago.  That is what matters most and Trump can’t touch it.

That said, I know my mission for the next four years (what should have been my mission all along) is to stand up for those who need my help.

And to spend more time on  my knees praying for us all as we learn more about forgiveness and mercy than we ever knew before.

#LetGraceReign

 

 

#LetGraceReign

It is time, and more than time to begin the work of healing the wounds that we all have given and sustained these past few months.

The die is cast.

People are casting their votes.  Their minds have been made up for quite a while, now we just have to wait to see what the outcome is.

But you know what is remarkable?

Whoever wins this presidential race has no effect whatsoever on who I am.

I am a precious child of God……and I still will be on Wednesday morning.

I am a sinner who is covered in the blood of the Lamb……and that will still be true Wednesday morning.

I have friends and family on both sides of this contest who are angry…..and that is still, sadly, going to be true on Wednesday morning.

God expects me to obey the laws of the land….and that will still be true Wednesday morning.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Consequently, the one who resists authority is opposing what God has set in place, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”
Romans 13: 1 & 2

 

God is in charge of this and all other elections…..that has always been true and it will still be true Wednesday morning.

“God changes times and seasons; He deposes kings and raises up others.”
Daniel 2:21

“But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another”
Psalm 75:7

“By me kings reign, and rulers decree justice”
Proverbs 8:15

So, whether we have a Trump or a Clinton president elect by Wednesday, know this beyond all doubt –
GOD PUT THEM IN THE HIGHEST OFFICE IN THIS LAND FOR A DIVINE REASON. 

So guess what?

All the hurts, and the scorn, all the anger….let it go.  It has no meaning anymore.

Lets move on to the very real business of extending GRACE to each other.

Forgive those who have hurt you.  Love those who have wounded you.  If you can’t figure out where to start or what to do, or you think you lack the strength to accomplish this, I have good news for you.  God himself has promised to help you.

“If any of you lack wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him”
James 1:5

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Colossians 3:13

“Though he scoffs at the scoffers, yet He gives grace to the afflicted”
Proverbs 3:34

“But He gives us more grace. That is why scripture says that God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble”
James 4:6

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God, through Christ Jesus, forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:32

Remember, I’m saying all this this BEFORE we know who will be sleeping in the White House in 2017…..and it will ALL STILL BE TRUE WEDNESDAY MORNING.

#LetGraceReign

 

 

 

 

 

don’t hurt yourself

I’ve been posting a fair amount in the last three months on my social media sites about something a lot of white people don’t like to talk about.

I’ve been warned.

“don’t post anything political”

and

“don’t post anything that can be seen as negative”

“don’t use that hashtag about Black Lives cause it is only going to hurt you, and your business”

um….

no.

No, I’m not going to keep my head down and keep posting only sweet photos of Ginny, and positive stories about work, skating and life in general and fail utterly to acknowledge the horrendous treatment of black people in this country.

Shootings make the news every other day now,  and that’s horrific, but I’m not even really talking about that.  To me the saddest thing is all unvoiced, insidious assumptions that are made about black people.  It’s all the times I’ve kept silent and allowed others around me to speak to black co-workers in ways they would never talk to me.  It’s all the times I myself have failed to recognize my own assumptions about others that were based on appearance.

I’m not a social activist.  I’m not a social scientist.  I’m not qualified to evaluate the mess in this country and propose sweeping solutions.

What I am qualified to do is to tell the truths that I know.  When I see an article from a friend or stranger that moves me.  I’m gonna share it.  Whether it is about an uplifting time someone had a recent youth retreat, or a horrific encounter in a department store as blatant racism reared its ugly head.

If those posts cost me business (my jewelry business involves social selling,  on-line and home parties etc) that’s fine with me.  If sharing how I feel about how black people are mistreated and systemically pushed down in the USA costs me friends, I’m okay with that too.  If that is the only pain I encounter from being truthful, I’ll consider myself blessed.

I don’t want to contribute to the idea that “everything is okay” because everything is not okay.  I don’t need statistical analysis to show me that people all over this country are being judged by how they look.  I’ve been in a grocery store line with one of my dearest friends. He happens to be a very tall very black man.  I’ve seen the cashiers avoid his eyes and look at mine to make sure I’m okay.

People don’t do that to me when I’m with my (white) husband…even when he looks like a scruffy wild-man.  No one has ever tried to catch my eye to check that I’m alright.   That cashier had no reason at all to judge my dear friend.  He was dressed better than I was that day.   Actually he is always dressed better than me.  The man is a snappy dresser.  The only thing she could possibly have had against him was his skin color.

Let’s get something clear –

making any decision about any human being based on what they look like

is flat out wrong.

That’s not a political statement.  And it shouldn’t be a shocking concept.  It shouldn’t be even remotely controversial.

Yet somehow, sadly,  it is.

Because none of us like to confront our own flaws.  None of us enjoy the work it takes to eradicate bad habits and sloppy thinking.  But we have to.  Especially if you claim to be a follower of Christ.

Jesus followers should glory in all the incredible range of color and style of the entire human race.

Jesus followers should recognize that we are all precious. We are all valuable.  For one very simple reason:

Jesus Christ, the only Son of God spilled out his blood and died for ….who exactly?

only people who deserve it?  NO

only people who have never made a mistake? NO

only people who interpret the Bible the exact same way I do? NO

only people who happen to look just like yourself?  NO

only the people who vote the same way I do?  NO

Christ suffered and died for ALL types of humans, with all different opinions.  Get used to it.  Or stop calling yourself a follower of Christ.

 

 

 

my earning potential is ZERO

So, I got a text from a friend this past weekend.  It said…..

“please call me A.S.A.P.”

my first thought was…

“oh sh*t, who died?”

(just being real here.  I try not to cuss in front of my child, but let’s be honest, inside my head…yup, I did use those words and it would be dishonest to tell you otherwise.)

So I clicked on her number.  This friend, let’s call her SB, is someone I don’t talk to often.  Like once every 5 or 10 YEARS.  But we have mutual friends that she would get news about faster than me if something bad had happened.  So I sat there, at 9:30 on a Saturday morning, listening to the dial tone and the ringing with my heart pounding.

She answered, and was so cheerful I knew at once that nothing like *that* had happened.  Now I’m curious, what on earth was so important that she needed to reach out to me on a Saturday morning with that urgent message?  I wasn’t upset, just puzzled.

Turns out she was worried about something she had seen on my Facebook feed.  Something that was innocent on my end, but might lead people to believe that I endorse or approve of a particular person who has strong connections to Satanists, Nihilists and other agents of chaos.

Let’s stop and think about that for a minute.

Think of the courage and compassion it took to see someone in error and literally call them on it.

SB didn’t judge me.  She skipped over that and went straight to the heart of the matter – concern for her fellow Christians.  She wasn’t concerned about me.  She knows me well enough to know that I’m not personally heading down a negative path, but she was concerned for my witness and for people who might be confused by seeing links to such things on the Facebook feed of a professing Christian.

“But be careful with your freedom. 
Your freedom may cause those who are weak in faith to fall into sin. 
I Corinthians 8:9″

Funny how Paul is so relevant, even today.  He was talking about the right to eat anything, but that could just as easily apply to my right to read (or mentally consume) anything.  It doesn’t give me the right to put potentially dangerous meat out there for others to consume.

I explained to SB the reason that person was even on my friends list.  A person from my childhood that I care deeply for, pray for and treasure.  We discussed ways to keep my friendship with this person intact and still guard against spreading or appearing to endorse beliefs and practices so counter to my own.

Message spoken. Message received.

It was a wide ranging conversation.  We discussed raising of our kids, our fitness agendas (or lack of them in my case) and our past friends and connections.  We even discussed the fact that she was nervous about calling me.  Which I find hysterical. She said she felt like she was calling someone famous !!!!!  On the flip side, I still get a HUGE kick out of the fact that this person who I hero worshiped when I was an underclassmen and she was a ultra-cool upper-classman is actually a fan of my writing !  So it was kind of a mutual admiration society there for a minute, which was fun.

Deirdre, get to the point.

okay. okay.

As the conversation was starting to wrap up we wandered back to the original topic of friends and acquaintances who we need to keep as friends and show them love, while still not approving of their choices.  I then made the comment that I wished my brother Stephen had made better choices and that I wished I could believe that he was in heaven.  He was such a devout Christian as a kid.  He would witness to literally anyone.  He really loved Jesus.  His faith was so strong.  God was always his first thought.  Prayer was his first answer to anything.  But then he hit the teenage years and started questioning everything.  He headed down some dark paths and he never looked back.

So when he died a couple of years ago, I started struggling with a question that troubles many people…….

“can you lose your salvation?”

I wanted so much for Stephen to be safely in heaven, that I convinced myself that I wanted it too much.  It was comfortable to think that he was in heaven, so therefore it couldn’t possibly be true.  So often in our Christian walk, Truth is difficult.  So if I believed something simple and comfortable, it had to be wrong.  Get it?  See the trap I was falling into?

Then SB said something that rocked my world.

“IF you could lose your salvation,
that would imply you could have earned it to begin with.
So,  NO.
You cannot lose your salvation”

That pulled me up short.

Most of us are pretty clear on the straightforward reading of Ephesians 2: 8 – 10

“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and
this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God,
not by works so that no one can boast.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance as our way of life.…
Ephesians 2: 8-10”

We can’t earn salvation.  Got it.  No intellectual problems with that.

Sometimes I still try to earn it though.  I beat myself up for my sins.  Current ones (see cussing, above) and past mistakes (divorce, lies, greed, gluttony the list goes on and on and it’s not something I should share anyway).  Anyway, I fall prey All. The. Time. to the LIE that I have to be good enough to earn God’s favor.

But Guess what?

I CAN’T DO IT

I have absolutely ZERO earning potential when it comes to saving my soul.

But turning this verse on it’s head, essentially doing the math and realizing that if I can’t EARN salvation, then I can’t UN-EARN it either is something I had never really processed.

Time for School. Let’s go back to Algebra for a second here.  Math.  Yes I’m quoting math.  Never thought THAT would happen…

Properties of Zero

0 added or subtracted to anything equals itself

0 multiplied by anything equals 0

0 divided by anything equals 0

We cannot divide by 0

 

So take “a” as GRACE or Salvation.

God has declared that I can literally not add one single thing to my salvation.  That means I am the ZERO in this equation.

ZERO literally does NOTHING to the equation. Zero can’t add anything to the value.  Zero can’t remove anything from the value. Zero can’t multiply or divide the initial value.

GRACE is completely UNCHANGED by anything the ZERO (me) can attempt to do to it.

just dwell on that for a minute.

 

not to be trite, but

MIND BLOWN.

So now I know.

My brother Stephen is in heaven.  I know this to be true, because I know my salvation is true.  I can’t earn it.  And Stephen couldn’t UN-EARN it. No matter how hard he tried.

wow.

you have no idea what a blessing that surety is for me.

So thank you SB.  Thank you for reading my stuff.  Thank you for pestering me into writing again.  Thank you for seeing God in at least some of what I write.  and Thank you for listening to the Holy Spirit and reaching out to me to deliver TWO messages from God this past weekend. I am humbled and honored to be cared for by someone like you.

and I’m ever so glad to have ZERO earning potential.

 

hello, my name is mud.

hello, my name is mud.

I realized something today about humanity…..and by extension, myself.

I am mud. We are all dirt. (it’s an analogy, work with me here, okay?)

God gives rain.  (“bad times” negative experiences etc…)

God brings sunshine. (good times, successes, mountain top experiences)

Seeds are planted in our lives by encounters with others and by reading God’s Word and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.

But those seeds need rain and sunshine to enable them to flourish.

If not for the rain, nothing would grow.

That growth has to happen for anything good to come of us.

We are the dirt.

We are not the plant. God planted the plant in us, the dirt men and mud women.

Nothing we do, nothing we are, is any good without God. This gets really simple to understand when we fully realize our dirt-ness.

Have you ever managed to make anything nutritious or yummy out of dirt?

Nope, I didn’t think so.

You can make good things GROW in dirt, but the dirt itself is not yummy.

Not. One. Thing that I do has any value apart from God.

Romans 3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Genesis 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

There is nothing I as a dirt-woman can accomplish that has any value. But the plants, the seeds, the rains, the sunshine, the growth….these CAN Bless others and be used for God’s glory.

 

don’t wait

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere

just read that sentence and you can hear the song in your head.  Or if you can’t, click on the video.  Enjoy.  I’ll wait.

 

A concept that resonates with just about everyone.  We all get it.

Somewhere in the world, it just turned 5 o’clock, so its okay to let loose, party and perhaps consume an adult beverage or three.

Fun idea,  and not too difficult to understand.

Now I want you to consider applying this concept to a Bible verse.

yes, a Bible verse.

Lamentations 3: 22 & 23 (ESV)  to be exact

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning
Great is your faithfulness

 

How many times have we heard people say “His mercies are new every morning” and mentally applied it like this:

“wow, I really messed up today, but tomorrow I can start fresh”

“ugh it’s only 9:47 a.m. !  Today has started off horrible!  So glad tomorrow will be better”

Why wait?

The earth is round.

You are on the earth.

the sun is coming up SOMEWHERE

so

DON’T WAIT

Claim it right now.  His Mercies are new right now.

You don’t have to wait till tomorrow for the Faithfulness and Mercy of our Living God.

This is one thing it is okay to be impatient for.

 

 

 

plan interrupted

plan interrupted

When I was 15 I had a plan.

  1. Graduate college
  2. Find a man
  3. Get married
  4. Adopt a dog
  5. Be adopted by a cat
  6. Have kids
  7. Live happily ever after

My life soooooo didn’t go according to plan.

I didn’t graduate college till I was almost 30.   I had two failed marriages.  The dogs and cat didn’t come till after I turned 30. And children of my own body will never happen.  Some of the reasons my life didn’t go according to plan are my fault, some were things that were never in my control to begin with.

Like many couples, we struggled for years to have children.  Eventually we made the life altering decision to open our hearts to adoption.  (Let me just say here that this was not a decision we made lightly, nor was it an attempt to replace childbearing.  Adoption is an entirely different emotional adjustment and needs to be approached with prayer and care)

That said, we went through the process and were eventually selected by a young couple to raise their baby that was due in approximately 5 more moths.  We really bonded with them.  They said it was very important to them for their child to be raised in a Christian home.   They let us pray with them.

Just a month later we got a call from another agent.  An Emergency Situation – a baby had been born in a local hospital and the mother had just walked out.  Classic abandonment.  Did we want the baby?  Martin and I looked at each other…we were tempted.  Oh so tempted.  We could honor our agreement with the first couple and wait for their baby, or go right now and come home with a baby today.  Oh we were tempted.  That’s when grief unresolved rears its ugly head.  My arms ached to hold a baby, any baby. But we prayed, and felt a sense of peace about honoring our agreement with the first couple.  We felt good about that decision.

Then it happened again, the very next week. Similar situation.  This time it was twins.  Oh my word!  But again we decided to wait and go with the couple we had already committed to.

We were now just a month or two away from her due date.  It looked like our happily ever after was just around the corner.

But …(why is there always a but?)

A week later this couple, that had been so open and sweet turned out to be dishonest.  They chose to disappear with a large chunk of money and a huge piece of our hearts.

We were devastated.

We were in shock.

Why had God allowed us to connect so well with this couple? Why did He allow them to defraud us? Why had He given us such peace about continuing with a couple that HE knew was going to wrong us?  A couple that he knew was lying to us and their own extended family?

Some good things came out of the situation.

We watched our agent display integrity and compassion.

We were able to be a witness to the couple through our opportunity to show them mercy and not press charges. As well as the various kindnesses along the way.

Maybe God’s purpose was the timing?  For those of you who have met Ginny,  you know the story turns out well.  But did you know that she is a miracle of timing?

The very same weekend that we had been invited out to meet our first couple.  The very same weekend that we were supposed to go to an ultrasound appointment with them

Is the same weekend, even the same HOUR that Ginny’s birth parents  were having an ultrasound that showed them Ginny.  That was when they were making their decision that would lead to us adopting Ginny.

We didn’t know it at the time of course.  All we knew was that we had been hurt by one couple and we didn’t know what to do next.  Weeks later when I eventually saw the ultrasound for Ginny, the time and date stamp just leaped right off the page at me.  I got chills.

Was that the purpose of the whole mess with the first couple?  Was God just trying to keep us on hold with them so that we wouldn’t jump at those two abandonment situations?  Was he trying to make sure we would be ready and waiting when Ginny’s birth parents were ready to make their decision?

Maybe.  It is certainly one pattern that I can see. But was that God’s purpose?

I don’t know.

I may never know.

But here is the key to the whole thing

I don’t need to know.

It is enough for me to know that God is good.  I can trust that God did have a purpose in everything that lead us to Ginny.  NOT because I finally have my fairy tale, but because all things are in God’s control and he works all things together for HIS GLORY

HE interrupted my plans (multiple times, but who’s counting?) so that He could give me something far greater than anything that was on my pristine plan.

Yes Ginny is nearly eight now, but I still marvel at how beautifully God orchestrated events so that Ginny would be part of our family and we would be forever part of hers.