Monday, June 29, 2015

Let me introduce myself to you personally


So You Want to Be Married?

Long before we had internet, google, iPhones, and any other technology like those, we had things called newspapers, magazine articles, and xeroxed copies of Ann Landers columns.  I have a folder that is filled with such archaic material.

Articles on parenting, growing in the Christian faith, some political op-ed pieces, and articles on marriage.  How to have a good marriage, how to be a good wife/spouse, how to communicate etc.

The environment for marriage has changed now that SCOTUS has deemed that marriage is more than just between a man and a woman, but I don't think the principles of a marriage relationship have changed in their ruling.  I've been thinking about what it means now for you gays and lesbians now that you "get" to join our marriage party legally.

(Please realize, I am writing this with a smile on my face today.  I'm over my UGH and gladly am living the life of a deemed bigoted A**, so - ok, this is what we're living in, let's make the best of it.)

So, you want to join the rest of us in our pursuit of happily ever after, huh?  You realize heterosexual marriages don't have a good track record, right?  Maybe yours will be different.  I mean, you already have something going for you - you are of the same sex, that should take away a lot of the communication difficulties we women have with our men.  You should be able to communicate nearly perfectly now that you are legally allowed to be married.

I've been married to a man for thirty years who cannot think and feel more opposite than me.  Let me tell you, you'll be missing out on all that fun!

If I say black, his first thought is white.  In making out our budget - total opposites.  Neither of us is more right or more wrong, but we are just different.  You're lucky, you won't have to deal with those issues, will you?

If I try to tell Tim how I feel, I use as few words as possible, being careful not to lose the main point as a man's innate ability to hear is connected to immediately needing to fix something; or distracting him with my emotional vocalization of my perceived issue that needs to be discussed.  You girls shouldn't have that problem (although two women crying? yikes), certainly you men should be able to get right to the point of any issue that comes when two people decide to commit to spending till death do we part with one person.

So, back to my little stash of stuff.  I found a handout, those are things we were given because we didn't have internet.  In my little brown folder was a handout that is entitled - TIPS FOR A GREAT MARRIAGE.

A good marriage is the union of two forgivers.  Ruth Graham Bell

Smile at each other, smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at each other.  It doesn't matter who it is, and that will help you to grow up in greater love for each other.  Mother Theresa

Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers.  And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.

Humor can make a serious difference.

It is hard:  To forget; to apologize; to save money; to be unselfish; to avoid mistakes; to keep out of a rut; to begin all over again; to make the best of all things; to keep your temper at all times; to think first and act afterwards; to maintain a high standard; to keep on keeping on; to shoulder the blame; to be charitable; to admit error; to take advice; to forgive.  But it is right to do these things. 

Anger is one letter from Danger.

The difficulties of life can make us bitter - or better.

Stay with it.  Do not give up.  Never allow the "D" word in  your home.

Live 300 miles away from either family so you cannot run home after every little fuss.  Don't call mama about every little argument you have.

Understand your spouse.  Get to know them.  Women and men often see things from a different perspective.  (Hello!  Amen to that!)  Learn their viewpoint and remember that what you may think is funny may not be so funny to your spouse.

Give compliments.

Do not assume anything.  It takes years for couples to know what the other mate is thinking.  (Here's a clue from 30 years - you  never know what the other one is thinking! Don't even try to achieve that fantasy). 

Work as a team.

Be loving partners.

Give each other permission to have a stronger marriage than your parents had.

Don't lose the enjoyment that each one has for the other.  Love to be in each other's presence.

Daily entrust your spouse to God's care.

Never criticize your spouse in front of their parents, children, or coworkers.

Teach your children not to interrupt your conversations.  Finished sentences breed satisfaction.

When you have a conflict, ask God to change you, not your spouse.

Forgive generously.  Forget purposefully.

See?  Piece of cake!  Maybe the gay marriages will be the easy ones.  I know no heterosexual couple who will tell you marriage is easy - (and it is with that statement I laugh - we all think we need to be married, don't we?)  

When we got married, young and dumb and very ignorant of what marriage really meant, we in no way could predict all the things we've had to go through together as a married couple.  We've been on the brink more than once of throwing in the towel.  So before you run to the courthouse or call up your pastor, ask yourself the same question every heterosexual couple should be asked:  Are you really that lonely or afraid of being alone that you are willing to make a marriage commitment?  You will have trials.  You will have joys.  You will have pain.  You will hurt each other.  You will.  Just because you legally get the privilege, and it is a privilege so please don't abuse it, it takes a lot of work to stay the course.  A lot.  It is no longer me, it is we.  It is no longer your needs first, it is your spouse's needs first.  Are you sure this is what you want?  Are you sure you are able to give what it takes to have happily ever after?

If you are, then I'm rooting for you to learn what I learned through marriage.

I learned about Christ being married.  I hope you do too.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

When you're called a bigot, you have to stand up

Ok, I'm going to say this here.  My words.  My page.  My voice.  Yesterday I was called on Facebook, by a stranger, a "bigoted asshole."  I was called this because I commented on my concern about the longterm implications of the recent SCOTUS ruling.  I voiced my opinion.  I did not condemn, shame, or call names.  I simply voiced (typed) my concern.  And I am, in this person's terms, a "bigoted asshole."

This person has a right to say whatever he wants to say about someone he's never met.  I don't deny him that right.  I don't deny anyone the right to free speech, freedom in general as laid out in the constitution.

But, these are my most pressing concerns, and no matter what happens, no matter if what I see as potential longterm damage happens, I am still just me, thinking logically, intelligently and with great prayer bathed in all my contemplations.

Christians, fellow followers, are you ready for where this is going?  Are you ready to stand up for grace and truth, in equal doses?  Are you going to shout the weaker brothers and sisters down when they support a law that goes against the full counsel of God or are you going to speak kindly and with great patience and love as you teach them the full story?

I got blasted yesterday, and it was assumed by the blaster that my only quote I was going to use was from Leviticus.  If any of you read my blog, you know I do not pick and choose what I want to write about or what makes me feel good to write.  Every time I sit down at this computer to write, God has to convict me of some very difficult areas in my own thinking.  My own heart gets cleaned out every time I sit here and talk to whoever is reading this.

It's going to be tricky.  The waves and water are rough now.  The fear that keeps us from speaking out because we are afraid of being misunderstood or called a bigoted asshole has to be overcome.

My concern, the one I tried to convey before the whole post was taken down, was my concern for everyone's constitutional rights being abused and taken away.  Not just gays, not just church folks, not just children, or gun owners - everyone's.  What SCOTUS did was unconstitutional.  But apparently that's not what this person felt I was talking about.

As a believer, as a follower of Jesus Christ, it is more important to me to be called that than it is to be called an American.  I feel very privileged to have been born and raised in this country and given the opportunities I have been given, not only to be able to write about God without fear, but to come into relationship with Him without shame or embarrassment.

As I have contemplated these things the last two days, one thing keeps coming to mind, from that bigoted Bible I cling to:  "Everything is permissible" - but not everything is beneficial.  "Everything is permissible" - but not everything is constructive.

That's what freedom in Christ brought to mankind.  Permission, freedom from the law.  But, freedom to do what you want when you want is not always beneficial.  That is the concern of us bigots.  The benefits, not simply just for homosexuals who can now be married legally throughout the U.S., but where is this going?  What or who is next?  Pedophiles saying it's their nature, they were born that way?  What about the priests who molested countless boys?  Should we say it's the way they were born too?What about Mormons?  They might as well make polygamy legal everywhere right now, too.  Get it over with, let's just do it.  You see where I'm going with this?  Do you see my concern or do you still see only bigotry and hate?

Do I hate gays because they "won?"  Absolutely not.

I'm sad, deeply sad, that the pain that this ruling has caused amongst Americans, Christian Americans, non-Christian Americans is deep.

We're spinning around on this merry-go-round and the operator of the ride, is spinning it faster and faster, making us all sick.

So, you may think I am a "bigoted asshole" and that's fine.  I'm not in a popularity contest, so insult away.

But what I guess most shocks me is that these words are being thrown around like gasoline, by Christian and non-Christian alike.  No one is listening to each other.  Lord knows, the church has had it's history of division so what is going on in America right now really shouldn't be such a shock.

But to my gay friends, relatives, and readers, does our voice not matter to you at all anymore?  Do our beliefs, our well-thought out, intelligently considered and prayed over beliefs mean nothing to you?

Are we truly parting ways now?

We, I, have concerns.  I have done my research, I have tried to feel your pain, I have.  I promise you, I have.  I know the Way to healing.  I know the Way to reconciliation.  We don't express our concerns to shame or belittle you.  I don't anyway.

But I'm not going to back down and say this ok.  I can't.  But I'll never stop praying that we all will put down our swords and start talking.  To each other.  Standing up for each other.  Not afraid to debate, not afraid to think about something in a new light.

I've learned a lot about the homosexual struggle the last several years.  I hurt for you.  I have prayed for you, for your freedom from the suffering you have endured in your life.  I can only imagine how hard it has been.  But I will never stop pointing you to the One who knows the deepest part of you and sees you as His precious child.

So, anyway.  If you want to know what I think about this whole issue, there it is.  If I'm bigoted in your eyes, then so be it.  But in my eyes, no matter what your lifestyle choices, I see a child of God in need of Jesus, not a law.

He is the Way.


Saturday, June 27, 2015


That's the best word I can think of and I can't find it's Hebrew or Greek counterpart.  The translators didn't use it, but it's the only word that is ringing through my mind right now.


What in the world is happening in our country right now?!  How did it become so divided?  Why is it so divided?  Why is there such hate amongst people who have never met?  Why is the court of public debate such a vicious place to be right now?

The silent shouting is so loud, the insults and criticisms so vicious, I wonder, will it ever be ok again to share one's beliefs without getting attacked by people you have never met but who now have the courage in the silent court of social media to write things to you they could never say to your face?

What in the world has happened?  How did it get like this?

Is this the life you want for yourself and your kids and grandchildren?  I know I don't.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Sometimes Loyalty Comes in Small Packages

We've had a busy few weeks in our corner of the world.  All in about two weeks we hosted a 50th wedding anniversary party for my parents, along with having all our children, spouses and grandchild under roof.  When the party was over and our children all headed south, back to their adult lives, and we started the clean up of five days of sun, fun, food and family, we were hit with a painful loss.  We had to put down our ten year old dog, Maggie.

In the grand scheme of things, and in the wake of all the division that continues to divide the United States right now, it seems silly to even be writing about her, but we have felt her loss much more than either of us ever thought we would.  I have grabbed two treats instead of one when rewarding Maggie's sister Lucy.  I have grabbed two bedtime snacks instead of one.  I had to put her leash away when it was painful to see both hanging in their cubby.

When our children pleaded and begged over the years for a dog, I held them off over and over, until one day, when all my arguments had been rebutted and God brought a little puppy into our home, and our daughters PROMISED they would take care of her, would feed her, would walk her, would get up with her, would clean up after her.....Maggie picked me to be her person.

Even though I never wanted a dog, Maggie taught me a lot of things, mostly about what it means to be loyal, faithful, and willing to give up all in order to make sure the one she loved most was safe.

I tried not to like her.  They tried to get her to like them more. We all tried.

But Maggie wouldn't budge.  I was her person.  She became my dog.

If I left Maggie's sight, she left whatever she was doing - sleeping, eating, playing, barking - to come and look for me.

If someone besides me took her outside to potty, the instant she came in she would begin her hunt in search of me.  She would not relax until she knew I was safe or close by.  She passed up her treats until she knew I was ok.  She would not eat her food if I left the room.  (Which became a problem because her little sister was more than eager to empty her bowl if Maggie stepped away).

I was her girl.

And now she's gone.

But boy, did she teach me about loyalty.  Her loyalty humbled me.  I was her master and she did not do anything without getting her master's ok.

Many times through Maggie's life, God would show me the kind of loyalty he desired.  He'd point to Maggie and say, "It looks like hers."

I'm still trying to learn from Maggie.

It wasn't easy for her to have me for a master.  I left the house many times, out of her sight, and all she could do was wait for me to return.  She'd look for me, sitting on the back of the love seat in the window, eyeing every car or person that came by, knowing exactly when it was me pulling in the driveway or walking up to the house.

When we said good-bye to her on Monday I couldn't be in the room when she went to sleep.  But I couldn't lie to her and tell her I'd be back, like I had hundreds of times in the last ten years.  I could only tell her "Thank you.  Your job is over now, Maggie.  You did a good job."  I wanted to tell her I'd be back, but I couldn't lie to her.   I couldn't let my last words to her be a lie, even if she was a dog and would never know the difference.

So I just told her to stay, she'd be ok..and then we closed the door.

I hope my Master, Jesus, sees my heart wanting to be like Maggie's was to me.  Loyal, faithfully waiting and watching for Him to come back.  Not wanting or needing anything without His approval.

I've learned a lot from a fifteen pound ball of white fur.  I think that's why she picked me.