Month: March 2016

STOP! Before You Kill Someone

flagman-190063 (1)After a long days work, I was barreling down the two-lane country road that led me home. My mind was spinning with anger over something Tim had done. All these years later, I don’t remember what it was. But I do remember the rage.

I didn’t see the flagman holding one of those Stop signs on a pole. I didn’t even notice him until he had lifted his sign, and sprinted for the shoulder. I slammed on the brakes and came to a screeching halt. The jolt catapulted me out of my fury.

We shared a few sideways glances. Then the man picked up his sign and walked right to the front of my car. Without saying a word, he glared at me and turned that sign to clearly declare the word “STOP.”

As if that wasn’t enough, he then picked it up and banged the pole into the ground, not once, not twice, but and over and over for what seemed like an hour.

Then he calmly turned the sign around to say “SLOW.” And I did slowly make my way past him.

But as I crossed the bridge over the Occoquan River, I kept thinking how my anger had taken over me. How it so distracted me that I almost took a persons life.

In the few minutes I had before reaching home, I chose to think differently. Instead of focusing on what Tim had done wrong, I began to think of some of my fondest memories of him.

I thought of the time we drove all night from Georgia back to our home in Virginia. Kelly was not yet a year old. This was before car seats, so we had put the back seat down in our old VW bug, and made her a soft bed to sleep on.

It was past midnight when we pulled into a gas station and Tim got out. After pumping gas, he opened the drivers side door and I looked over at him. Something in the back seat caught his eye, and his face melted. In a voice so tender it touched me deeply, he said, “Hey boogh, did we wake you up?”

I turned around, and the warm glow of the lights fell softly on Kelly’s chubby little face. She was sitting up, caressing her security blanket close to her chest while sucking her thumb.Tim, Kelly, and Ellen 1974

The more I thought of that moment, my heart softened, and my rage subsided. By the time I got home, whatever Tim had done wrong, was now in it’s proper perspective.

We do get to choose our thoughts. And we do get to bring them captive to the will of God. And God’s will is that we think on good things. And not the things that bring us down.

So, what track are you stuck on today? And what thoughts can you bring captive? Isn’t it time to change direction?

 

 

 

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Before You Pour that Glass of Whine

It was a catchy title, so of course I clicked over to see why this writer was saying it sucked to be a Christian these days.

And in the article, did he tell stories of persecution, or his family being imprisoned, or perhaps, his house burned to the ground?

No.

Let me attempt to sum up his problem – he doesn’t seem to fit in at his local church.

IMG_3450 I can’t help but contrast him with my Aunt Jeanne Marie and Uncle Eugene, who, at 89, are living out the last of their years with the same positive outlook I’ve witnessed all my life.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard either one of them complain. About aging, money, the church – well, maybe a little politics here and there, but that’s it.

Having spent most of their youth on the mission field with the Presbyterian Church, Uncle Eugene never felt led to be a pastor. So when they came back to the states, they settled in Daly City, California and Uncle Eugene entered the business world.

They didn’t spend a lot of time looking for a church to meet their needs. They did what they’d always done; they became members of the Presbyterian Church closest to their home. Aunt Jeanne Marie joined a women’s circle. She took courses in how to minister to those facing death. She served in hospitality, and visited folks in the hospital.

On my many trips to their home, I was often taken back at how my conservative aunt and uncle functioned so well within such a liberal church. But it didn’t take me long to realize, they went to serve, and not be served.

12734164_10153894649633864_11092912052327412_nI love my church. And I’d be the first to admit, it’s flawed. And if I look in the corners, I can see the hypocrisy, the fakes, and the insincere. But then, if I look in the corners of my own heart, I see those very same things in myself.

But when I focus on serving, I see my church differently. Or maybe I don’t have the time to check all those dirty corners.

So maybe the advice my friend Vonda Skelton gave me would work for this lost writer – offer grace, grace, grace.

Then shake the dust off your feet and go serve.

We’re all getting older. And at my age, I would have thought my corners would be cleaner than they are. But they’re not. So if you see them, let’s make a deal, I’ll offer you grace, grace, grace, if you’ll do the same for me.

Then we’ll all have a better perspective on the church.