Saturday, April 21, 2012

I Found God in Ingenuity...

This is a great little story that's making the rounds on Facebook...

The Tomato Garden

An old man lived alone in the country. He wanted to dig his tomato garden, but it was very hard work as the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament.
Dear Vincent,
I am feeling pretty badly because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me.
Love, Dad
A few days later he received a letter from his son.
Dear Dad,
Don’t dig up that garden!!! That’s where I buried the bodies.
Love, Vinnie
At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left. That same day the old man received another letter from his son.
Dear Dad,
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances.
Love you, Vinnie

I love the creative thinking!  The son, trapped within the confines of his cell, knew he, himself, could not help with the garden.  But his letter, which he knew would be read by the authorities, ensured that his father's garden would get tilled.

Now I'm not advocating tricking the police... But I am encouraging you to tap into the creative side of your brain - because you have one!  You are fearfully & wonderfully made...

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
   your works are wonderful, 
   I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
So think outside the box once in a while!
:) Mags
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Suck it, Satan! Part II

Ever have one of those days where you realize Satan is up and running with his "A-GAME" while you are still crawling out of bed...?

I'm having that kind of day...

  • My son fumbled with this prescription allergy medicine - and the bottle slipped from his hands... spilling little pink pills on the kitchen floor.  I was scurrying around trying to get them all before the dog ate one... while assuring my son that the 5-second rules doesn't apply for prescription meds...
  • Then, I had to go grocery shopping - which is like a scavenger hunt now because our local Kroger is re-vamping, re-modeling, and re-arranging the entire store - so it took me at least twice as long to find what I needed... and the cashier's computer jammed up... where the cashier oh-so-helpfully let me know that it was MY fault for having both paper coupons AND electronic coupons which gum up the machine....
  • While I was excited to remember to pick up some pretty nail polish at the store (it's spring... sandals-weather!), there was apparently a hole in my grocery sack because it fell out and broke.... on our kitchen floor... spraying metallic-pink nail polish all over the WHITE kitchen tile and grout.  So desperate was I to paint my toenails, that I scooped up the broken bottle and quickly opened the regular end, dipping the little brush into the spilled blobs of paint to paint my toes before it dried.  THEN I cleaned it up and put away the groceries... ;)
  • After the groceries were stored, I stopped down to visit a friend and her cute dog... who decided to pee on my jeans... the cute jeans I WAS going to wear to an event at our church tonight.
  • My friend was making these special cakes for the church event.  One wouldn't hold together and effectively disintegrated while I was there... at least I got to eat the broken cake and it's yummy icing (score!), but she'll have to make a whole new cake.
And it's only noon.

Today is one of those days where Satan has planned ahead, gotten his act together, and is letting his little, irritating gremlins run free.  Nothing big - no huge catastrophe - but a bunch of little things that have pushed me into a truly foul and funky mood.  

But I remembered a post I did in December 2010 called "In a Nutshell... Suck it, Satan!" and I decided to just shake off this bad mood, count the many blessings, be thankful for the days that aren't a mess, and tell Satan to go bother somebody else!

Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won't last forever. It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.
1 Peter 5:8 (Msg)

Suck it, Satan.
God has my back.
And He is BIGGER than you.

:) Mags
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Sunday, April 15, 2012

God, Protect Me...

From the Thou Shalt Laugh Comedy FB Page...

Anyone else cringe a little once you realize this is sometimes....... you?
Yeah, me too.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:2  (NIV)

Thanks God, for all the unseen things you do to protect me - each and every day.


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Friday, April 13, 2012

Finding God in Adversity...

As much as I would have loved to have come up with this myself, this post was copied from the Cowboys-4-Christ Facebook page.  Please support them by "liking" their page.  

A daughter complained to her father about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it, and wanted to give up. She was tired of all the fighting and struggling. It seemed as though in solving one problem, two more would arise.

Her father, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil.

In one he placed carrots,
in the second he placed eggs,
and the last he placed ground coffee beans.

He let them sit and boil without saying a word. The daughter impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. In about twenty minutes he turned off the burners.

He fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl.
He pulled the eggs out and placed them a bowl.
Then he ladled the coffee out and poured it in a cup.

Turning to her he asked. "Darling, what do you see?" "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied. He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. She smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.
She humbly asked. "What does it mean Father?"

He explained that each of them had faced the same adversity, boiling water, but each reacted differently. The carrots went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. But after being subjected to the boiling water, they softened and became weak.
The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But after sitting through the boiling water, the insides became hardened.

However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water. 

"Which are you," he asked his daughter.
"When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond?
Are you a carrot,
an egg,
or a coffee bean?


In the face of adversity, how do YOU respond?
Do you become weak?  Do you become strong?
Or do you do even more... and take that hardship, and turn it into something amazing.

Consider Bethany Hamilton, Nick Vujicic, or this little boy:

Those people are testaments to doing MORE than surviving.  Those people are like the "coffee" - they changed the atmosphere and the people around them - by sharing their stories (both the good things AND the hard things), and by going out and LIVING... out loud.

But, some scars people have are hidden... pushed deep down in a dark place so that they can manage each day without falling apart.  To these people I give my prayers and encouragement that they find, at least ONE person, to whom they can unburden themselves.  Because sometimes, all you need is to open the door a crack to start the healing.

A favorite show of mine is Grey's Anatomy.  In one of the episodes, the Chief of Staff stops one of his interns from wallowing in her perceived failures with this quote:
Chin up.  Put your shoulders back, walk proud, strut a little.
Don't lick your wounds; celebrate them.
The scars you bear are the signs of a competitor.
You're in a lion fight.  
Just because you didn't win [that time] doesn't mean you don't know how to roar.

The scars you have, whether they be physical, mental, or emotional, do NOT have to define you.  You are not broken.   And sometimes... many times... surviving = winning.  And you are never alone in your fight... God is with you.

God's the one who rebuilds Jerusalem, 
      who regathers Israel's scattered exiles. 
   He heals the heartbroken 
      and bandages their wounds. 
   He counts the stars 
      and assigns each a name. 
   Our Lord is great, with limitless strength; 
      we'll never comprehend what he knows and does. 
   God puts the fallen on their feet again 
      and pushes the wicked into the ditch.
Psalm 147:3 (MSG)

So when you are faced with a hardship, a problem, or a catastrophe, at the very least, try to be the egg - get stronger with each hard moment.  And eventually, you might find that you can become the coffee bean.  Because you can affect others with your strength, endurance, and perseverance.  That's #WINNING. 

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Monday, April 9, 2012

A Squashed Sandwich... Part 2 of "A Fork In The Road"

This post is a follow-up to "The Fork In the Road" Discussion.  If you haven't read it yet, you should probably read that first. :)

There was a girl in my 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classes in elementary school who, every day at lunch, would reach over with her fist, hover over someone's sandwich or bag of chips, and then slam her fist down - crushing the food flat underneath.  Since each grade level at my small school only had 15 kids in it - half of them girls, you pretty much HAD to sit with this bully (let's call her "Hester*") or face sitting alone in the cafeteria.  At least, I was safe in the knowledge that Hester was an equal-opportunity squasher; by statistics alone, I had a 6-in-7 chance of keeping my sandwich intact.  But at least one day every couple of weeks, I knew that I'd be eating squashed peanut butter & jelly - or have to forgo lunch altogether.  :(

I was thinking about this as I talked to people about my last blog post on purity and forks.  That post was largely concentrated on people who CHOOSE to have sex in high school (or younger - *sigh*), but I was reminded by more than one person, that there are too many girls (and boys, even) who have had sexual behaviors forced upon them without their consent.  I remember hearing statistics in my junior high sex education class: that 1-in-4 girls would be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.  (That was the mid-1980's).  And I remember looking around at my classmates thinking, "Surely that can't be right? - That would mean that, statistically, 2 of my female classmates could face that sometime!"

The current statistics are even more sobering-- and have moved to 1-in-3 vs. 1-in-4.  According to RAINN, 44% of rape victims are under age 18.  Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.  And there is an average of 207,753 victims of sexual assault each year, aged 12 and older.  Approximately 2/3 of all assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, and 38% of rapists are a "friend" or acquaintance.

That means YES - quite possibly, that girl you sit next to in chemistry class... might be dealing with a friend-of-the-family hurting her.  The withdrawn girl on the bus... could be being molested by her uncle.  That "promiscuous" girl that everybody "knows"... may just be acting out because she has been raped already - so she figures why bother "protecting her virtue."  The goth girl who pushes everybody away... she is trying to be as "ugly" as possible so she won't be raped again.

And it's even quite possible that one of your friends - someone to whom you share your secrets (the boy you are crushing on, the math test you failed, the normal everyday angst of high school) has been stuffing down her own horrible secrets of abuse so that she can forget... just for a minute... and feel "normal" by listening to your "problems."  It is quite possible that you'll never know what horrors your friend faces each evening when she gets home from school

These kids-with-secrets didn't ASK to be raped... or assaulted... or abused.  Like my lunchtime sandwich smashed by Hester's angry fist, they were attacked by ruthless bullies who get off on the "power" of hurting other people.   And I imagine it would be easy for them to think that God does not care about them.  Like Jenny in Forrest Gump who prayed "Dear God... make me a bird... make me a bird so I can fly far, far away (from her abusive father)," these kids might be wondering WHY God allows this pain and suffering to happen at all.

I don't want my next words to sound empty or condescending or out-of-touch, but I truly believe that while God may not have unleashed a bolt of lightening to smite your attacker, He was with you - each horrible minute - crying with you and helping you endure... and survive.  While He will not stop a human, one of His children, from making a free-will choice, He is heartbroken when one of His children commits such an evil and horrible act upon another.  At the same time, he feels every ounce of pain and suffering and shame you experience.  God, as Jesus, felt pain, hopelessness, embarrassment, heartache, sickness, suffering, and more at the hand of Pontius Pilate and his angry mob.  And every day, when people are cruel and inhumane to other people, I believe he feels double the pain - the pain of the victim as well as the pain and brokenness of the deranged or sick perpetrator of the attack(s).

While God won't interfere with anyone's free will, I believe, if you ask Him, he will gladly offer strength, healing, peace, and comfort - by placing other people in your life who will lift you up and support you as you deal with certain horrors and memories.  You were NOT alone then... and you are NOT alone now.   Surround yourself with kind and caring friends and family - you don't have to continue to stuff down these secrets... because the people who truly love you will support you and allow you to unburden your mind to them.

And while you may feel dirty or soiled like the Sharpie'd up forks from the last blog post, I believe that when you give your life to Jesus, and when you give your burdens and your secrets over to God - not only does He clean your fork... He gives you a whole new one.

To the people who read this who are holding horrors in their minds from their childhood or after, I pray that you will find strength and peace and healing.

Most sincerely,

PS - April is Sexual Assault and Awareness Month.  To find out how you can help, please visit RAINN and read about 7 easy ways you can support Survivors of Abuse.

*Not her real name... exactly.
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