More Than Meets The Eye

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(Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash)

It’s not everyone’s greatest fear, but it was hers.  She would always complain about not being able to see very well.  So, we were constantly trying to make life better for her.  The recent loss of vision in one of her eyes, would mean I would drive her around town.  During her appointment, I wouldn’t know why her doctor had cancelled his personal plans for the rest of the day, until later.  After running a battery of tests and hours later…. he discovered what the problem was.  I was in shock and wonder as he began to explain to us the results of the tests.  He knew why.  NO!!!  NO!!  NO!!

“Temporal Arteritis” had attacked her vision.  Temporal Arteritis  is rare.  As this eye doctor started talking, I began writing as fast as I could.  I didn’t pay any attention to how my spelling looked.  My english teacher wasn’t going to grade me on this.  And I didn’t ever plan on understanding all those words for a pop quiz.   But, I would need to understand what was going on.

As fate would have it, the doctor told me that he was prescribing a medicine that she would need to take before she got home.  What?!?  Before she arrived home???  Aaaahh…!  That meant her vision was in my hands.  Her eye sight was in jeopardy and I was the one who could help her save it.  He repeated his words several times……  I must have looked like a deer caught in some headlights.  After we left, I got really quiet but tried my best to explain to her what he had just told us.  We went to the nearest pharmacy and then got her a little snack to go with her medicine.  I explained to her that she needed to always take this medicine with FOOD.

I couldn’t believe I was there that day to hear the “news”.  It was a difficult day.  I think I still feel that panic and shock.  It was the same sort of feeling I had the day I was at my own mom’s oncologist appointment.  It’s the kind of sick that makes me shake and keeps me from eating….

I’m not sure my mother in law shared the same feeling of panic that I had.  Apparently, she took her medicine religiously, but she would always say, “I’m taking my poison pills”.  What?!?  I’m not sure that was a good thing to say?  Apparently it would be those little pills that would eventually take her life.  I would say to anyone else, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to call a pill – poison.  Especially when it is keeps your eye from being stolen from you.

I did my best to keep her going to the doctors appointments and hospital, etc.  But, it just wasn’t enough.  Each time she would listen to another doctor, they would try to take her off of the steroids, but I would say “I think you may want to talk with Dr. B….. before you do that”.  They would ask why, and I would just repeat my words “I think you need to speak with Dr. B….. before you change her meds”.  I’m not really sure how that medical stuff works.  I’m not sure that anyone ever contacted Dr. B?

It’s hard enough when you go through something that people know about.  It’s a whole different scenario when you go through something rare.  This was rare – for all of us.  I was just trying to help her keep her vision.  I knew it was important to her.  After her death, life changed for everyone.  It’s made me to think about life differently. If we choose God, He uses bad things and turns them for our good. (Romans 8:28)  I’m counting on this.  It’s the only way I can look at my chaotic life.

Most people handle fears better than I do.  My mother in law handled her greatest fear much better than I did.  I run from difficulties.  But, when it’s so close to home, you can’t run.  All this bad stuff has happened in the city.  It’s why I want to leave the city.  I blame the city.  I understand that bad things can happen in small towns, but life would definitely be more simple…..   Even if I never get to live in a the small town, this City Girl has still Gone Rogue.

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Chance Meetings

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We only exchanged pleasantries.  But, just the few words that were spoken, I could see something in his eyes that I didn’t normally see in peoples’ eyes.  I don’t really have words to describe what I saw, but I knew there was great amount of pain, and discouragement.   Why was I allowed to see into the window of his soul?  I don’t know, but it burned a hole into my soul.  I have prayed for him every day since.  It was just a chance meeting.  Anxiety was working overtime in my life, so  I’m not sure if I left him with positive outcome or not.  Perhaps my prayers will make up for the chance meeting.

I met a lady in an airport who had intense grieving pain in her eyes.  While waiting on our flight, She told me her story and I began to encourage her.  I could tell she began to grasp hope again.  I saw the window of her soul begin to light up.  I still pray for this lady.  She still had some grief to work through which she shared with me during our chance meeting.

Chance meetings are always interesting.  I have learned that you never know who is standing in front of you.  You don’t know their story unless they tell you.  You can’t get into their life, unless they allow you to.  And quick chance meetings don’t always lend itself to gaining a new BFF.  The eyes are the window to the soul.  Matthew 6:22 & 23 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (ESV).

Sometimes, I’m afraid to look at a strangers eyes.  I’m not sure I will be able to handle it.

As I was volunteering in a prison setting, I learned to treat everyone with respect. Because you never know what they are going through.  One of the students that I taught during this time, always had his homework finished,  was always attentive, and  was always present.  But it seemed that he didn’t fit the regular prison mold.  Even though he looked like Wild Man from Borneo, there was something different about him.  I would find out soon enough.  The last time I saw him, his new hair cut had totally transformed the way he looked.  He then  asked me where he could get a job. (He asked me??)  I asked what he had done previously…..he had his master’s degree…..(my heart fell into a million pieces for him).  I then told him where he could get a good job.  He seemed pleased at my answer.  It was just a chance meeting.  He was only in my class for a few months, and then he was gone.  His eyes were hopeful the last time I saw him.  I hope the chance meeting we had would change his life.

Why has God allowed me to have these chance meetings?  I’m not sure.  I’ll start a conversation with anyone…..  Perhaps, that’s why I keep having these meetings.  I am not afraid of strangers.  It’s weird how my gift for meeting strangers works.  I don’t always treat strangers the same….  But, I try to be aware of what might be going on in their life.

While I worked with youth, I discovered they just need encouragement.  And if they get the “one word” that they need, they will be unstoppable.  I was at a youth retreat when this one particular young man repeatedly asked me questions and then he would tell me a little bit more of his story.  He told me how he understood military strategies (something that he just understood – it hadn’t been taught to him), I listened – trying my best to understand what he was communicating.   I then asked if he had thought of enlisting….  That is the only word he needed.   It was just a chance meeting.  But it was life changing to him.  He found me at my church a few years later (I’m not sure how he knew where to find me????  It must have been a part of his calling – to find people…. ) He made a beeline for me after church was over.  I didn’t recognize him, but, then he reminded me of the conversation we had several years before.  He told me that he had taken my advice……  The trench coat he wore, the smile he had, and his new bride beside him, told me that the conversation of the chance meeting had been very important to him.  God is good.

What will I discover at the next chance meeting?  I don’t know, but I look forward to encouraging someone who needs it. I look forward to pointing them to Christ and giving them a good word. I look forward to the possibilities that I would meet them again and they could tell me what the chance meeting meant to them.  I find it rewarding.  We are supposed to build people up.  Ephesians 4:11 & 12 talks about how God gives gifts to people – and the reason why He gives those gifts – it’s to build up the body of Christ.  If you are religious minded and you are tearing people down, then you are not doing His work……  I’m just saying.

When I arrive in Heaven, I fully expect to see some of those people from the chance meetings.  I hope to hear about each story.  So, in the meantime, I’m waiting on other chance meetings. I might keep my own story guarded because of my own bludgeoned heart.  But, that’s why this City Girl has Gone Rogue.

Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

Heart of the Ocean

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I didn’t realize I was actually drowning, it just happens that quick.  I just started giving up because I couldn’t find the top or the bottom of the ocean.  I had tried and tried but I had lost too much energy trying, and I started sucking in water instead of air.  I had actually gone sideways, but I didn’t know it.  About that time my baby sitter found my arm and drug me out of the water, coughing and gagging as I went.  My heart was still beating.

I had been to the beach countless times.  I loved going.  I loved the messy sand.  I loved the unforgiving waves.  I loved the salty taste on my lips.  I loved the smell of the air.  I loved to hear the sea gulls that fly over.  I loved to bring a little picnic lunch and eat like a king with my cheese, crackers. and grape juice.  To think about those times, makes my heart happy.

I’ve been in the ocean when It was choppy and I’ve been in it when it was calm.  I’ve played with fish who came up to eat peas right out of my hand. That day was unforgettable…… That day I wasn’t drowning.  My heart was happy that day.

But, there have been days that I wasn’t at the beach when I’ve been drowning.  It felt like I couldn’t breathe.  My chest hurt.  And each breath was a struggle.  Some think that I’m just being dramatic.  Maybe??  Whatever it is, I know it hurts.  It might just be that my heart hurts emotionally.  What ever the case is – my heart hurts.  I’m waiting for it to heal.  I’m waiting for it to heal even though I’m not at the ocean right now.  I think it would probably help me to heal if I was near the ocean right now…….

I’m trying to remember good advice from the past. I am very focused on the Words of Christ, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (ESV)  My heart needs to rest.  It all just takes time.  I don’t want to rush this – I want to let my heart heal correctly.  So, while it’s healing, this City Girl has Gone Rogue.

Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash

The Jungle Road

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I had remembered this decades before this moment of time.  I was in this jungle and I was stuck.  I couldn’t find the path.  I was just wondering around trying to figure out which way to go…..   The way I was going seemed endless and fruitless.   It was taking a lifetime to get where ever I was going…..  I had just small hand tools to forge my way through this wooded area, or jungle, or whatever you wanted to call it.  At times, the work felt so difficult that I didn’t know that I would even be able to finish.  At times it was difficult to breathe.  The brush was thick.  There was ivy and brush coming from above and below.  I couldn’t see my feet at times.  I was tired.  And I wanted to quit.

I was actually sitting in a counseling session.  She had asked me what it was like for me in my life.  I had told her.  And that was the description that I gave her – The Woods or Jungle.  It was one of the most defining counseling sessions that we ever had.  She was blown away by my candid word picture of what my life felt like.  I wasn’t complaining.  I simply stated that is what it felt like.

I remember her sort of fumbling around not really knowing how to follow up with such a  candid word picture.  Then she asked me if she could pray for me.  It was one of the most unforgettable prayers that had ever been prayed over me.  She asked Father that I would begin to be able experience the fact that there was big equipment on its way to help me through this.  And as she prayed…..(I don’t remember all of the exact words, so please forgive me) I could actually hear the rumble of big equipment and feel the shaking of this big equipment as I could feel this help on its way…..on its way….but not here yet….not yet…

Now, I want to tell you that this prayer happened about 25 years ago.  But, I believe that the answer to my prayer has been on its way……  I’ve been waiting……  I’ve been seeking God for the answers…….  I’ve been repeating things to God that He has promised to me-sort of like repeating a mantra over and over again…..   I’ve been reading His Word.  I’ve been listening to His Word.  I’ve been waiting.  “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” Isaiah 40:31.  I’ve been waiting a long time.   So, that means I’m going to be really, really, really, really strong.  :))

It doesn’t matter how long I have to wait.  God has made promises to me.  Many of His saints died not ever seeing what He had promised to them.  You can read about those people in Hebrews 11……

When that big machinery shows up, I’m gonna make sure that John 1:23 happens, “I am only someone shouting in the desert, ‘Get the road ready for the Lord!’ (CEV) I’m not sure what sort of  “Road” needs to be paved, but there seems to be a road that needs to be paved so that others can follow….. Perhaps it’s a spiritual road that needs to be paved.  Isaiah was yelling about it.  Isaiah 40:3  And then John the Baptist quoted him again…..  We need to pave that road…..  If we don’t then others won’t be able to know how to follow.  Is it a spiritual road?  Is it one of purity?  Of prayer?  Of daily discipleship?  25 years of serving Him no matter what!!  I don’t see many people doing it??  Have you paved the road that you were supposed to pave??

If the big machinery doesn’t show up until I’ve left, then, someone else will need to do it. Have I paved the road I was supposed to pave??  I’m still serving Him.  I’ve made peace with Him no matter what.  So, if this City Girl Goes Completely Rogue (Heaven), it will still be ok.  If so, I will see you in Heaven.  Once again:  I’m still keeping my morals, I”m still loving Jesus.  I’m still loving people like Jesus did…. It just doesn’t work like it used to, so I’m mixing it up and doing things different. I’m gonna do anything short of sin so that people will actually get to know Christ.  It’s just that this City Girl has Gone Rogue

Photo by Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash
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Accused

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I hope I haven’t accused anyone else wrongfully.  If I have, then I’m a major screwup.  And for that I need to apologize.  So, if you are reading this and need an apology from me please call or text me.

Speaking of apologies, I am really, overwhelmed at the weight of my own sin when God shows me what I need to change. When HE shows me, I don’t feel condemned.  I feel compelled to want to change because of the love that HE shows me.

I have discovered when I am accused of something, the person who is pointing the finger is usually the one with the problem.  It’s that “judge not, lest ye be judged” passage found in Matthew 7: 1-3.  I find it amusing the kinds of things that I have been accused of.  It took me years to figure out that when people are condemning me, that there was an issue in their lives – not mine.  So, I began to know how to pray for those people.  Just saying.

So, imagine a doctor taking pictures of a patient as she is undressing.  Then imagine him walking in on her repeatedly while she is undressed.  And imagine that he has helped countless religious leaders in a large religious town.  Imagine that he sits on a pew on Sunday morning.  Imagine.  But, then imagine being the woman.  No one is going to listen.  No one except Jesus.

The woman who was caught in the “act” of adultery……  I’m wondering where her partner was???  But, Jesus was there.  And, Jesus was listening.   Then… He says, “Where are your accusers?”  I love that question.

But, still…..Jesus was accused of all kinds of things when He was just helping…..  Jesus didn’t try to please religious leaders.  He was just making sure that souls had a chance at Heaven…..  There are so many people who follow the steps of Christ…….

Craig Groeschell says, “We will do anything short of sin to reach people who don’t know Christ. To reach people no one is reaching, we’ll do things no one is doing”. Life.Church doesn’t sit around accusing people.  They don’t have time.  Their quote is one I live by.  I know a close relative who doesn’t even know this quote, who lives by it also.  She lives in a sacrificial manner in order to give to other people.  It blows me away.  She looks into eternity every day.  It’s amazing to watch it play out.  I believe her verse is, “to him that is given much, much will be required”….

I love a quote that my mother in law used to say.  “If you try to please everyone, then you would be standing on your head whistling Dixie”.  I agree.  In fact, let me just stop right here and give her statement a standing ovation.  She was right.  It hasn’t mattered.  Someone is always gonna have an issue with what I do and how I do it, what I say and how I say it, what I wear and how I wear it, whether I wear make-up or if  I don’t.  I’m just gonna  keep moving.  So, while all this drama plays around me, this City Girl has Gone Rogue.

Photo by Andrew Pons on Unsplash Cigarette, Road,

Bully Theology

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It was brutal as the conversation went south.  The caller began to raise his voice try to put me in my place.  I didn’t measure up to his standard.  I had heard it before.  I’ve seen it done by many others.  I’ve seen it done by religious leaders.  I have seen it done by parents.  I’ve seen it done by teachers.  I’ve seen it done too many times.   I’m taken back by it every time.

Bullies seem to think that they are always right.  They believe it is their duty to tell other people off in a brutal manner.  It’s an interesting way to look at things.  JS

Bullying has never worked in any relationship.  It harms the relationship.  It cripples the person that is being bullied, unless they go and find help to discover how to build healthy boundaries.  Henry Cloud is good at advice for building healthy boundaries in case you need help…..  Bullying does not help any relationship.  No spouse or parent or child wants to be bullied.  People want to be loved.  We were created to be loved.

Bullying does not help people to find God.  It does the opposite.  One experience of religious bullying was at a small town outdoor music event.  This certain religious group had set up  a couple of speakers with a megaphone.  The man holding the megaphone, kept repeating a phrase, “you are going to Hell” in a loud monotone voice.  That’s all he said.  That isn’t weird at all…..is it???  That was the message of the night…..  And his friends had signs that said the same thing.  They were all giving us dirty looks as we walked toward the music.  I was weirded out thinking that their message should have been one of hope and love if they want people to go to Heaven.  Right?!?  Jesus said, He didn’t come to condemn but to save.  That group of people tried to bully us into thinking that we were all damned for Hell.  It’s one reason that people DON”T come to faith.  And I’m sure there is a host of other reasons.

“Bully Theology” makes people run as fast as they can away from God.  So, why does it still go on?  Maybe no one has addressed it?  Maybe no one sees as bullying?  I see it as a pharisaical problem.  JS

Bulls don’t give up.  I’ve seen the kind of damage they can do on a farm.  It’s crazy!!  It’s why they are called “bulls”.  Bullies don’t give up either.  I’ve seen the kind of damage that a bully can do.  It’s crazy….

I’m actually grateful for the bullies that I’ve had in my life.  It helps me to know where I belong….and where I don’t.   It makes my boundaries stronger and my resolve to live pure even more intense.  And it is a catalyst to bring change in my life.  Just because I’m changing my life, doesn’t mean I’ve lost my standards.  It doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten who I am.  It just means, I’m up uprooting the current status.   God is still good.  And He is still good all the time.  And this City Girl has Gone….

Photo by Jonathan Mast on Unsplash

 

Hidden Angels (911)

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Just as the first crazed German Shepherd was charging at me, the first “Hidden Angel” stepped between the two of us while he was holding a shovel.  Then As the second German Shepherd was charging at me, the second “Hidden Angel” stepped between me and the crazed angry animal with another “yard tool weapon”.  Wow!!  I didn’t even have a chance to realize that they had saved me, until it was all over.

It might as well have been a man eating tiger coming after me.  I was totally defenseless and I had nowhere to go.  I just stood there looking straight on.  I knew enough to not turn my back on the enemy.  If I needed to, I would face down the devil.  And now, I literally found myself doing it.

I had been protected by angels before.  I have countless stories I can tell you about.  But, this one was different.  The danger was eminent.  I had no where to go.  And I was very vulnerable.  These two angels just showed up out of nowhere.

Why would people place themselves in harm to save someone else?  It’s what Jesus did.  But, why would a total stranger do it? That’s the question in my mind tonight.  I’m sure I won’t sleep tonight wondering what kind of person would do that.  They have to be really good parents, and good neighbors, and a host of other things.  I am going to have to thank them in a bigger way than what I did tonight.  I think I was just still in shock after the incident.

Their names are Bill & Sheryl.  I met them after the “would be attack”.  They became my best friends. They aren’t soldiers.  They are regular people.  Or so I thought….  God knew who to send to me at the very moment that I needed them.  He is good to me.  Life is hard…..  He always uses bad things and makes good come out of them.  I can’t begin to list all of the things in one blog.  But, I will try to blog one thing at a time.  :))

Angels don’t just sit around looking pretty.  They are warriors.  Psalm 91:11 says, “He gives the angels charge over you..”  These soldiers work for The God Of The Universe.  When I read about them, they are doing battle, or just showing up to help certain people to get through difficult times.  And then they just suddenly disappear when they are no longer needed.  Wow!!

I’m bragging on God because He sent these beautiful people.  I’m bragging on them, because they were brave enough to step between me and danger to protect a perfect stranger.  I’m also bragging on God because I can’t live this life without Him.  I don’t even want to try.

I’m so grateful for His daily protection and provision as I take a new path with Him.  I will follow Him.  He is leading.  He is guiding.  I am learning to trust Him with each step I take.  That’s why I’ve gone rogue.  I’m not on my own.  He is leading.  So, this City Girl has definitely Gone Rogue.

Photo by Grzegorz Mleczek on Unsplash