A few days ago, I wrote a post entitled, In Union, based on what the Lord revealed to me in the scripture above, and isn’t it funny how He ministers to us sometimes? You see, the revelation that I had planned to share with you regarding this verse turned into something else entirely, as I shared the new revelation He was giving me as I wrote. As I began to study this verse, I was captivated by its meaning…
Finally, grow powerful inunion with the Lord, inunion with His mighty strength!
I knew right away that the Lord was revealing something powerful to me about being inunion with Him, and I wanted to be sure that I fully understood what He was telling me. Therefore, I looked up the definition of union in dictionary.com, and read through each of the first fourteen definitions. As soon as I read the eleventh definition, I got excited, as thoughts exploded in my mind. Like multiple flashes from a camera, a revelation of the union God wants us to have with Him flashed brightly before my eyes… Continue reading In Union – Part 2→
Does anyone remember Ames Department Stores? Ames Department Stores were the forerunners to the Walmarts of today. If you wanted to buy your items at a lower, discounted price, you went to Ames.
The second job I ever had was at Ames Department Store, where at the ripe young age of nineteen, I was hired to work behind the jewelry counter, and it was there that I discovered the gift of a lifetime! Seriously… you see, while I worked behind the jewelry counter, I came to know many of the other Ames employees and managers. Continue reading Salute to Ames Department Store and the Gift of a Lifetime→
I’ve always been a dreamer. I believe God created me to dream so that I could not only survive the pain of my youth, but also thrive, in spite of many obstacles. From the time I was a child, I was picked on and rejected by my peers, my teachers and my family. I lived in fear and loneliness, and you would think that I would be miserable, but I wasn’t.
You see, God blessed me with hope and dreams. I could be anywhere, in almost any sort of situation, and be able to imagine a better life and a better world. I would dream of ways that I could escape the situation I was in. And the Lord blessed me with perseverance as well. No matter how many times I got knocked down, no matter how many times I was beat or punished, I would still dream of a better life. I still hoped for something better, and I believed it would happen.
At sixteen, life was hard. In order to “teach me” how to drive better, my stepfather would take me for rides in our old green Pontiac Bonneville station wagon, and I would have to sit on his lap, while he gyrated and breathed heavily beneath me. I hated it. Like any teenager that age, I desperately wanted to learn how to drive, but the cost was much too high…
I had all kinds of dreams. I loved to sing, and I would envision myself on stage, singing to millions of adoring fans… I planned to start out as a cosmetologist to the stars, and then Donny Osmond, my true love, would come to me and as I styled his hair, he would fall madly, passionately in love with me, and he would rescue me and marry me, taking me on stage with him… I dreamed that one day, my birth father, my Daddy John, (a man that I had only seen a handful of times) would come swooping in, like a knight in shining armor and rescue me from the life I was living… I dreamed that my mother would stand up for me and leave my stepfather, taking my sister and me away, to start a new life…
Did any of those dreams that I envisioned at sixteen come true? No… not a single one of those dreams came true. However, I got something so much better. You see, three years later, when I was nineteen years old, after spending twenty-one days on the psychiatric ward of a local hospital, I went to work at the jewelry counter of a chain store called Ames Department Store. It was there that I met a hard working young man who became my husband just a few months later.
This young man was my hero… my rescuer. After dating for only five months, we got married, two days before my twentieth birthday. My mother and stepfather predicted that the marriage would never last more than six months… I’m also happy to report that none of their predictions for my life came true either.
You see, I have been married to that same young man, (who is no longer so young) for more than thirty-one years, and he is still my hero. Many times over the years, I have had to face changes, and my husband has been there by my side, encouraging and believing in me. When the Lord led me to go to school and get my associate’s degree in ministry, my husband, who does not yet know Christ personally, was with me, encouraging me to go for my dreams, believing that I could do it. When I told him of my dream to write a book recently, a dream that I had kept secret for many years, he didn’t laugh at me. He believed I could accomplish it.
I’ve faced many difficult times since I was sixteen years old, but I give thanks to God, who has given me hope in the midst of trials… I give thanks to the God, who has given me dreams for the future… I give thanks to the God, who has held me in the palm of His hand, protecting me and guarding me, ensuring that I would become everything that He created me to be.
Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. (Ephesians 3:20 NLT)
I remember taking swimming lessons about six years ago, when I was 45 years old. I don’t know what possessed me to take swimming lessons, after all of these years of not swimming, other than the fact that my work place had offered the lessons for free to the first ten people who signed up for it. I’m a sucker for things free, therefore, I was among the top ten…
Now, you must understand that I took swimming lessons as a child, and while I learned and grasped the technique in my mind, when it came to actually swimming, I just couldn’t do it. I did learn how to float on my back, quite well, if I do say so myself, however actually swimming required something that I was both unable and unwilling to force myself to do… It required getting your face wet… Now, lets fast forward thirty-some years to my adult swimming lessons.
This was the most challenging, frustrating thing that I’ve ever attempted. You see, it turns out that after all of these years, swimming hasn’t changed much. You’re still required to get your face wet, and lo, these many years later, I have maintained my aversion to getting my face wet… In case you’re wondering, I have figured out how to shower without getting my face sprayed… I use a washcloth to clean my face, but I never willingly stick my face in water, or allow the shower to spray my face… Sorry, I digress…
Back to the subject. Aside from the “get your face wet” requirement, adult swimming lessons required a few added components, which made swimming lessons difficult for me. Unfortunately, I was so blinded by the free swimming lessons, that I hadn’t stopped to think that I would actually have to wear a bathing suit in front of other people that I know… my peers and co-workers…
You see, I’m overweight… I don’t look like I did when I was a 103 lb young adult… I have jiggles and wrinkles that I don’t even like to subject myself to seeing in a mirror, let alone my co-workers. Therefore, when I showed up for my first swimming lesson, I made it clear that I was not removing my tee-shirt, and if they required me to remove my tee-shirt, I was out of there. (I was secretly hoping they would not agree to this, but they very kindly allowed me to take my lessons in my tee-shirt.)
Every week, for the next six weeks, I forced myself to show up for swimming lessons after work. I borrowed a bathing suit from a friend, because I didn’t have one of my own, and since these were free swimming lessons, it would have defeated the purpose if I went and actually spent money to buy a swimsuit for the free swimming lessons. I faithfully showed up to each of the lessons, because when I commit to something, whether I like it or not, I follow through with it, however, I refused to stick my face down in the water. (There are just some things I’m not willing to do, regardless of whether it’s free or not!)
Finally, the last night of swimming lessons arrived, and we had been told the week before to wear clothes and shoes that we did not mind getting wet, because we were going to jump into the deep end with our clothes, so we could see what it was like, in case we were ever on a cruise ship and fell overboard. Presumably, by experiencing this, we would learn what to do, in order to keep ourselves from drowning… We would also be required to jump into the deep end and remain afloat for one minute in our bathing suits.
I showed up for that final night, and I really intended to follow through with this… But then it hit me! If I jumped into the deep end, my head would go under the water until I came back up to the top… If my head went under the water, my face would get wet! What was I thinking? Everyone went to the edge and one by one, they took their turn and jumped into the deep end, except for one woman, who had quit swimming lessons the first week due to her fear of the water, and then it was my turn to jump in.
I looked at my instructor and the other students, and I very calmly told her that I would pass on this part of my swimming lessons. She began to cajole me, urging the other students to “encourage” me as well, and in her attempt to goad me into jumping in, she said, “Look, Cheryl, everyone else did it, and you won’t pass your swimming lessons if you don’t jump in.”
What not to say to me. This only enforced my resolve not to jump in, as I replied, “I am 45 years old, not a teenager, and I do not cave in to peer pressure. Thank you for your lessons, and fail me if you must, but I will not jump into the deep end.”
In her final attempt to sway me, she said, “But Cheryl, what will you do if you’re on a cruise ship and you fall overboard?”
To which I laughingly replied, “I get sea-sick, and I don’t make enough money to go on a cruise anyway. Therefore, this part of the swimming lessons is totally unnecessary for me, but thank you for your concern.” With that, I left the facility…
So, my dear readers, I leave you with this final thought… The best things in life are not always free.
This week, we’re challenging you to explore how different narrative modes affect your writing.
Dear Dr. Phil,
Please allow me to express my sincere apologies to you one more time. I can assure you that when I was backing out of my parking place, I had no idea that there was anyone behind me, and I certainly had no idea that someone was you! I would never intentionally hurt or back over anyone, so you can imagine my dismay, when I heard the horrible thud, immediately followed by your painful shrieks.
Again, I humbly ask for your forgiveness. I know that I hurt you, but what you may not realize, is that I too, was traumatized. I haven’t been able to get a good night’s rest since that tragic accident. I keep having the same recurring nightmare of you flailing around on the pavement, wailing in the same horrible, high-pitched way you did when I backed over you with my car. It’s just horrible!
I’m so ashamed, and I feel really foolish for asking this, especially after the pain that I’ve caused you, but Dr. Phil, is there any way that you would consider helping me recover from this trauma? I really would appreciate it.
“Ladies and gentlemen, can you believe this? Can any of you wrap your mind around the horror I suffered at this woman’s hands? Or should I say her car?
“Picture this, if you will… I was walking across the parking lot after stopping off at the grocery store for a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk, feeling rather pleased with myself, because for once, I had gotten everything on the list that Robin had requested.”
“Excuse me, Phil! Hon, excuse me,” Robin interrupted, raising her hand and wriggling in her seat as she sought her husband’s attention.
Dr. Phil looked over at his wife with raised eyebrows, irritation in his voice at this interruption, as he responded to Robin, “Yes, hon?”
“I can’t believe she would interrupt me in the middle of a live show after all I’ve been through,” he thought to himself.
Robin smiled sweetly, thinking, “He’s such a sweetheart, but bless his heart, he can’t remember squat.”
“I just wanted to make sure we tell everything accurately,” she said. “Because you actually didn’t get everything on my list. I also asked you to get me some Excedrin for my headache, but you forgot that.”
“Are you kidding me?” Phil expostulated loudly. “You interrupted my dialogue to tell me that? After all the agony I’ve been through?”
Robin’s sweet countenance fell, as she glared at her irate husband, “After all the agony you’ve been through? What about me? Do you know what this has been like for me? There I was, in the midst of a terrible migraine headache, and the police show up at the door to tell me that you’ve been run over! So I had to get myself together and rush to the hospital, while still in the midst of a painful migraine. And did you show any sympathy or consideration for my pain? No, you just laid there on the gurney, screaming and hollering and moaning and groaning, like you were going to die, you big baby!”
Looking straight at the cameras, Dr. Phil responded, “And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Men, consider this a learning experience, when your wife interrupts you in the midst of your work, remember to smile at her and agree, because if you snap at her, you could suffer for weeks, like I’ve got a feeling I’m about to do.”
“I’m sorry, Robin, you’re right. I did forget to get your Excedrin.”
“What a sanctimonious jerk,” Robin thought, as she smiled sweetly at Dr. Phil and said, “That’s okay, honey. I love you.”
“Now, ladies and gentlemen, as I was saying before, my wife reminded me of my forgetfulness, can you place yourself in my shoes? I was minding my own business, when this woman negligently throws her car into reverse and backs over me, knocking me off my feet, and leaving me in excruciating pain. And I have to tell you my friends, that’s not even the worst of it.
“I’m sure you’ve all seen the terrible pictures on the news broadcasts and all over the internet. Stupid paparazzi! Someone even recorded my screams of pain, and now there’s this embarrassing YouTube video that’s gone viral. How many of you have seen it? That’s what I was afraid of.
“And now, this woman has written a letter, asking for my help. What would you do?
“When I first read her letter, I was taken aback. I couldn’t imagine anyone having the nerve to back over someone and then ask that person for help. But there was something in the letter that just kept drawing me back to it, and the more I read it, the more interested I was in discovering what kind of person could be so stupid as to back up over someone and then expect him to help her get over the strain of it.
“Are you as curious as I was? Good, well then, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to ‘Jane Doe.’ By the way, just so everyone is clear about this, ‘Jane Doe’ is just a pseudonym we’ve chosen for the woman who almost killed me. Come on out, ‘Jane.'”
After the introduction I just heard, I questioned my sanity in asking for help from Dr. Phil. It seemed very likely that he was about to throw me under the bus (no pun intended) for accidentally backing over him. As I walked on the stage and saw the devilish gleam in his eyes, and that nasty smirk on his face, I quickly looked away. My heart was nearly pounding out of my chest. I looked at the curious faces in the audience, and then my glance caught the sympathetic look on Robin’s face. In her eyes I saw pity and compassion for me. It was obvious that she already knew something that I was just beginning to understand, as I looked into Dr. Phil’s eyes, which looked back at me with undisguised hatred in them.
It was that look that settled the matter in my mind. Dr. Phil wasn’t interested in helping me. He wanted to heap his vengeance on me, and it was very likely that I would be defamed and ridiculed at best, and painted as a wicked villain at the worst. As I quickly sorted the pros and cons in my mind, I made my decision and turned tail and ran.
I ran as fast as I could run off the stage, grabbed my purse from the green room, and ran into the parking lot, where already, a man with a camera followed me in close pursuit, along with Dr. Phil. There was no way I was going to let them catch me. “I’ll just have to live with the nightmares,” I thought as I hurriedly jumped into my car, throwing it into reverse. And then suddenly, I heard a horrible “thud” followed by the loud, high-pitched wailing of Dr. Phil. “Oh man! Can anyone say ‘Groundhog Day’?”
There are many Christians who are quite angry about the outcome of the election, for seemingly good reasons… but are they really? I’ve probably lost some friends on Facebook because I can’t bring myself to agree with them.
And then there are other Christians who are now gloating over the results of the election, for seemingly good reasons… but are they really? I may lose some friends over this, because I just can’t bring myself to agree with them either.
The fact is that no matter which way this election went, I was grieved by it. I’ve already written several posts about why neither Barack Obama or Mitt Romney was a good choice, so I won’t bore you with repeating those facts. Instead, can I take just a few minutes to share my grief with you?
I’m grieving because once again, whether anyone intended it or not, or whether anyone is courageous enough to admit it or not, it’s become a black and white issue. For many black Americans, the image that Romney projected of a man who wanted to go back to the 1950s was repulsive, because their memories and views of the 1950s are quite different from the nostalgic memories of their white counterparts.
For black Americans, the 1950s represented a time of social injustice, in which they were forced to sit at the back of the bus. It was a time of segregation in which they were not allowed to dine in the same restaurants as white people, or heaven forbid! They were certainly not allowed to use the same toilets as white people. They remember a time when their children were not afforded the same education as white children, and when there were black neighborhoods and white neighborhoods, and a black person better not try to move to a white neighborhood. The “colored” people were allowed to work as servants for the white people in their neighborhoods, but they had to remember to always enter from the back entrance, never from the front. It doesn’t matter that most white people couldn’t afford servants, because whether they could afford them or not, the general attitude was that white people were smarter, more attractive and better than black people.
It was a time of inequality, that belied the words of our founding fathers, who wrote in the Declaration of Independence, We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
While these are the images indelibly engraved on the minds of many black Americans, many white Americans see things differently and more nostalgically. They remember a time when men and women married for life. They remember a time when hard work paid off with promotions and pay raises. They remember a time when children respected their parents, a time when children prayed the Lord’s Prayer in school, when the bible was welcome in school and even taught in some classrooms. They remember when the 10 Commandments were posted on the walls of schools, and when the biggest problems teachers had with their students in those days were chewing gum in class and talking too much.
So, who is right and who is wrong? And was that really all that this election was about? How could a group of people see things so totally and completely different? And where do we go from here?
Many Christian people are gloating over Obama’s victory, believing that with his victory, the many issues of this country will be resolved, blindly overlooking the fact that during his last 4 years as President, things have only gotten worse. Abortion is not only condoned by this president, but he even justified and encouraged it for his own daughters… “I’ve got two daughters, 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby. I don’t want them punished with an STD at the age of 16.”
Hello? For those Christians who voted for Obama, surely you understand that abortion is not biblical, and nowhere in scripture is having children considered a punishment! Indeed, when my own daughter got pregnant out-of-wedlock, I told her that while God hated the sin of fornication that she had committed, her pregnancy was not a punishment. The wages of sin is death, not life!
Further, Obama as we all know, endorses same-sex marriage, and for those proponents of same-sex marriage, who claim that Jesus never spoke against it, “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ And He said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.‘ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together.”Please do not even attempt to claim that your choice was based on biblical principles, because to do so is to make a mockery of God.
And for those Christians who voted for Romney because he stands on biblical values, give me a break! He serves a false god, and to claim that he has biblical values is ludicrous in light of that, because serving a false god goes against biblical values.
Let’s not forget what Christ has called us to do! We are to go and share the gospel, making disciples of all nations… disciples of Christ, not of the U.S.A. Jesus came and told His disciples, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NLT)
Let’s remember our call, and do as Jesus commanded, loving our enemies, blessing those who persecute us, and lifting Him up before all men. Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” (John 12:32 NLT)
Finally, I leave you with one other message from scripture, and it would do well for all of us to remember this. Dear brothers and sisters, you are foreigners and aliens here. So I warn you to keep away from evil desires because they fight against your very souls. Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors. Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God when He comes to judge the world. For the Lord’s sake, accept all authority — the king as head of state, and the officials He has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish all who do wrong and to honor those who do right. It is God’s will that your good lives should silence those who make foolish accusations against you. You are not slaves; you are free. But your freedom is not an excuse to do evil. You are free to live as God’s slaves. Show respect for everyone. Love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God. Show respect for the king. (1 Peter 2:11-17 NLT)
Let’s stop bickering among ourselves about this election. Get your priorities straight, and let’s be about our Father’s business first and foremost, snatching as many souls from the pit of hell as we can, for the time is short.