Hopefully you are more aware of the church calendar than I am this week. If not, welcome to my shock that Lent began on Wednesday.
I saw a post for a church service sometime during the day and realized with all the snow and such, this season has snuck up on me quickly on the heels of Valentine’s Day.
It is always a part of my discipline to set aside the Forty days of Lent as a time of reflection and meditation. Scrambling around has not enhanced the practice.
So as I try to grasp that this precious time in the year is here already, I have nothing profound to say to you but just a simple thought from my drive through our snow covered land this morning.
As I drove, I wanted to pull over and start trying to capture the beauty of it all with my iPhone and realized I can’t. Nothing can capture the ten zillion billion sparkles as the sun brought the crystals of snow to life through our smudgy, salty, splattered windows.
They were …. Radiant, captivating, spectacular, unearthly, dazzling, blinding, beautiful.
And I was reminded that though my sin be as scarlet, I am washed white as snow.
I meditated on that all the way to work.
Though my sin be like a red stain of blood that is nearly impossible to get out of clothing…often leaving a yellowish mark even after you have tried everything to get it out…when it is covered by the blood of Jesus shed for me, I am like that view I had out my window today.
It is a miracle worth pondering today and every day.
And my life will be poured out in gratitude to Him as the only worthy response.
Blessings you each of you as you think how you would like to spend the season of Lent growing more in love with Jesus <3
(nourish, plant, give hope, regenerate, cause to bloom and grow)
and those who love using words often, talking much, sharing much….will be fed by what they talk about, think on, post, share. I would add that our hearers also must partake of the fruit of choices we make with our many words.
Laura Reimer on Proverbs 18:21 in my own words
So what is someone like me to do?
Because I have many, many thoughts.
And I doooooooooo love to share them at times.
For those who think I talk and write too much (my family used to pay me in comic books to be quiet for our extended times traveling in the summer)…you have absolutely no earthly idea the large number of thoughts and words I DON’T say.
I love words.
I love speaking them, writing them, thinking them, sharing them…and not all of my words are good words of life.
I love reading other people’s words and I can’t not hear the ones I don’t love.
They all pile up inside of me and at times they spill out. Words of life and words of death all jumbled together and as I sort through them, I need wisdom and help to know that not all are worthy of keeping nor sharing.
I have been acknowledged as Captain Obvious more times than I care to remember.
I have had loved ones remind me that they already know all the things I just told them in analysis of a situation.
I have retold stories a few hundred times just because I like telling them even if I know I am abusing my audience.
I have bitten my tongue til it bled and I have regretted a thousand times over when I didn’t.
So I think today of a simple lie we may have heard or said on the playgrounds of our youth…
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
Oh yes they will.
Bones and flesh heal and tend to be forgotten, but hurtful words…lies…negative commentary…unnecessary talking just to be talking….these cut into our own souls and those who are listening to us and souls are very hard to heal.
I think the best thing to do is to continually take our words and our wounds from other’s words to Jesus.
I think it is important to confess when we are loving talking more than we are loving being still.
One thing I am trying very hard to develop is a habit of using words of praise as I fall asleep at night and wake in the morning. I find it stills and quiets the running commentary of my own thoughts and thoughts absorbed from others throughout the day.
As my mind is filled with praise and thanksgiving to God, the fruit of my tongue tends to be life.
And when old habits arise and that switches back into old ruts, I find I am quicker to recognize the poison, kneel before my King and ask for/receive His forgiveness.
Wow. I certainly do dislike it when I tell you I am going to do something and then I don’t.
I said I was going to share some extra thoughts from the book I am reading on Tuesday and then I ran myself out of time getting ready to head north for physical therapy and my day with the Fab Four. It came down to a choice to respect the confines of time and bail on my promise.
But it stung.
So here are a few things I wanted to share from “All the Pretty Things” by Edie Wadsworth.
And I will add that Russ just happened to pull up a movie on Sunday night that mirrored much of the dark side of life in Appalachia. We watched with such sorrow a movie entitled “Hillbilly Elegy” where many of the demons that Edie dealt with were portrayed in such a talented way by the actors and actresses of this story based on the real life experiences of J. D. Vance.
Before you decide to watch, I will warn you the language is awful and the situations are very alarming.
Again I will say that while I did not experience first hand the dysfunction of these two author’s lives, I understand dysfunction in families and I also met up with some of the characters to be found in rural areas around Appalachia. It is a real subculture of America and one that is as foreign to the corn and bean fields of the area in which I now live as is the urban settings that splash across the news from time to time.
Our country is diverse and in more ways than what popular culture likes to promote. There are deep areas where tradition and the normal way of life are so very different from other areas.
The sins and shortcomings of humanity are basically the same no matter what your “culture” looks like to the naked eye and I picked up some thoughts from reading that I want to share:
<3 The story of Edie Wadsworth’s upbringing will rake you hard over the coals of reality. I would have walked through fire to make sure our three children were kept safe, well-fed and warm. I never felt more satisfied (still don’t) then when they have eaten a good, healthy meal and are safe and sound under a solid roof.
It is shocking to read of the ways Edie and her sister and cousin were neglected and malnourished and yet plugged along. I know that in cities, rural areas, small towns and just across the way from where I live, children are often neglected and mistreated. And so it is a sad reality that we can try to forget, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
I was convinced as a young mother that any small error in the care I provided our three would result in sudden death at worse and major calamity and scarring at best. It is mind-numbing to read and realize how many, many children go to bed hungry and surrounded by the scars of addiction of the people who should be lovingly tending them.
<3 While Edie suffered the betrayal of an alcoholic father who loved his drink more than his children or anything else, the horrible experience of a relative who abused her (no gory details provided!! Edie touches on this with tact and discretion which lets you know how painful it was without having to expose things we don’t need to know) was so heart wrenching.
From the first whisper of the fact that her little innocence was violated, I read with fear each time an adult mentor appeared on the scene. Pastors, coaches, parents of friends…each time I read with dread that this would be another betrayal.
But they weren’t. She was repeatedly blessed by people who were not out to harm her. God provided mentors and surrogate parents who loved her. She had a single mother who loved her and protected her as best she could.
These people were anchors in her sordid and messed up story that shined and kept her pointing in a direction that would lead her out of the hole the generations before her could not escape from.
I thought as I would read about each accountable and loving adult of the important role we have to live with integrity. It is incredibly important that we be people of respect and dignity and kindness. We have no idea what child is needing us to show up and be good and stable people in our lives. These people knew what kind of life Edie lived and did not shy away from taking her into their homes and lives and hearts.
None of us are perfect – but to be a decent human being in some young person’s life is huge. To be consistent as followers of Christ and provide a safe place for others who are struggling is to let Him live through us.
<3 The last thing I want to share is the insight gleaned as Edie shares openly about eventually destroying her own home and family because of an inner need that was very much like her father’s.
While her father tried to drown the emptiness inside of him with alcohol, Edie finally realized that she had done the same thing with seeking perfection in her work and grades and even her faith life.
The emptiness that drove her dad to drink drove her to excel at sports, education and career. She tried to do everything “right” and missed how it is grace and grace alone that saves us.
I think of how we all have a God-sized hole in us.
So cliche, I know…but so true.
We judge the junkie, the addict, the player, the jerk, the rebel, the workaholic, the pious…but we are all prone to fill that hole with something.
We look at those who seemingly have it all together and fail to see that they too are trying desperately to achieve so they will be loved.
God created us with that hole so that we would seek Him.
We all have different stories about how we messed up and missed the mark.
It is God’s desire that we would realize we are incomplete until we find ourselves … by losing our selves and finding Him.
He is the only one who can feel that aching chasm inside us.
Through Christ alone, we are finally made complete and whole.
Restored to the fullness of who we were designed to be.