Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Caregiver Chronicles: The Gift of a Day Out


Yesterday was the kind of day I've missed. Because Sam's so unsteady on his feet, I haven't left him alone for more than a few minutes. He's not a burden at all, but the responsibility is a heavy load. 

Friends have been wonderful about staying with Sam when I need to be out, but, yesterday, I needed a chunk of time.

I missed my last hair appointment and my bangs were in my eyes constantly. I do have scissors and thinning shears, but Lorie (my hairdresser) has warned me off them. I hate to admit it, but the thinning shears were already out. It was all I could do not to start chopping on those bangs.

Since I already had an eye appointment on Tuesday and a missionary I wanted to meet coming in to the office that day, we sandwiched a hair appointment in between. "We'll have to pray for God to send someone to volunteer with Sam," I messaged her. And we did. 

God sent Diane.

My friend, Diane, was in town visiting family for a week, and offered me a chunk of time to get some things done. I was able to make all my appointments and go by the office to do a few things. There was just enough time to go by the feed store to get horse feed, stop by the gas station to fill up my truck, and still get home.

For a few hours, I did what needed to be done to keep my life on track without worrying about anyone else. It was a mini-vacation that gave me more rest than I could have imagined. 

When I returned home, my caregiver mindset was firmly in place again. My sense of humor was back. 

As I moved furniture in preparation for moving Sam's TV and connecting his satellite service, I realized an unexpected truth. I can go the distance, and breaks are an important part of the process.

People have told me, "Even Jesus took breaks," many times, and it's true. Knowing that and being able to do it are two different things. Yesterday, the generous gift of a friend made it possible. 

In the world of caregivers, stepping aside from caregiving isn't always one of the options. Stepping aside for most of a day is rare. If you're not a caregiver, you likely know someone who is. Why not look at your schedule and find a few hours to give in the name of Jesus to the one who is literally being His hands and feet? 

Who in your church or community is giving long-term care to someone in their home? Why not offer a few hours once a month to give them a much-needed break? 

Those 5 1/2 hours yesterday were a gift of incalculable value because I was able to set my burden aside and let someone else carry it for a while. 

Bear one another's burdens. It's what the body of Christ is supposed to do and, when we all do our part, something wonderful happens. The world stands in awe.

Late yesterday, the new social worker stopped by. She encouraged me to take breaks. I tried hard not to laugh as I explained about all the help God has sent me. "The body of Christ has been wonderful," I told her and described some of the things they've done.

"That's what church is supposed to be," she said with admiration in her voice. And she's right. 

"Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2
______________
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Playful Pig and His Contemptuous Carelessness 

If this is your first time to read about the Sam adventures and the Caregiver Chronicles, you might want to read this post to see how it started: When the Time to Move Finally Comes

If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Middle East, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line
#bodyofChrist 



Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Playful Pig and His Contemptuous Carelessness


Andy the Pig was cute, especially when he played with his big purple ball. He was smarter than I expected, too. Andy quickly learned a few skills that I wished he hadn't.

Before he arrived, my brother-in-law and nephew helped me build an automatic feeder from PVC pipe and a pan. Our construction team had to work fast because Andy was already on his way to the farm. In the interest of speed, we used baling string to secure the feeder to the 4x4 post. 

Yeah. I know. Bad idea.

In our defense, it looked good at the time. 

The PVC pipe had an open top for me to pour feed through and a cut-out at the bottom for the feed to fall into the pan. If the pipe was secure against the pan, the feed came out as the pig ate it, in a slow but steady stream.

Andy soon learned that he could fit his snout into the feed slot, lift up his head, and flip the pipe off the pan. Of course, all the feed (two days' worth) fell into the pan at once. 

As soon as Andy had the pipe off the pan, he learned to flip the pan out from under the pipe and use it like a frisbee. He tossed the pan all around his stall. Needless to say, he ran through a serious amount of pig feed in a very short time.

Nothing I did helped. He practiced his little trick every day. It was, apparently, great fun. 

The problem, however, was that Andy needed the nourishment of the feed to grow. Without it, he'd be hungry. Without it, he'd grow weak, lose weight, and die.

Andy treated the nourishment provided for him with casual contempt, as if there was an everlasting supply. 

When I looked in his stall and saw feed scattered in the mud, trampled by the feet of that pig, I did not have warm and fuzzy feelings from him. 

This morning, I opened my Bible, looking for spiritual nourishment, and wondered if I sometimes treat my spiritual food with the same contempt Andy showed for the feed I provided him. 

God's provided a steady supply of nourishment for our souls with His Word, as well as with godly teachers and helpful study aids. Our job is to ingest the word of God and allow it to nourish our souls, so that we can grow strong as disciples of Christ. 

In our resource-rich Christian culture, we should be the most rapidly growing, deeply muscled believers in the world. I'm afraid, however, we're more like Andy than we want to admit. Because there's so much available to us, we're careless with even what we need to survive, much less grow. 

In some places of the world, a single book of the Bible is treated as precious beyond words. It's cherished and protected. Studied and shared. It's used to grow strong, deeply muscled believers who use what they learn to follow our Lord the way He intended.

How many Bibles gather dust in our houses?

I wanted Andy to eat his food, not trample it under foot, so I cut off his supply of feed completely for most of a day. I let him get hungry enough to eat the food provided for him, rather than play with it. When his piggy stomach was grumbling again, I gave him enough food to satisfy his hunger, but not enough for careless contempt. 

He ate. 

Just as Andy's hunger drove him to ingest the food provided for him, there are times when God allows leanness into our lives so that our spiritual hunger will drive us back to Him and to His Word.  

Let's pause for a moment and consider how we treat the spiritual food God has provided for us. Do we treat it with careless contempt or does our hunger for God drive us to take in all He gives? Are we growing and strong, or does our carelessness leave us weak and ineffective.

The purpose of pig food is to grow a strong, well-muscled, healthy pig. The purpose of Soul-nourishment is much the same: to grow strong, well-muscled, healthy disciples. 

The banquet is spread. Let's step up to the table and partake of the bounty God has given. Let's open our Bibles. Do more than a causal glance at a single verse. Study the Word. Ingest it until it becomes a part of us and changes us in ways even the world can recognize.

"Thy Word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against Thee." Psalm 119:11
____________
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Choosing a Cyberstalker/Christ Collision 

If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Middle East, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line

Monday, August 14, 2017

Choosing a Cyberstalker/Christ Collision



Cyberstalking is a crime. 

I refuse to call myself a "victim", but I've definitely been the recipient of this crime in recent days.

Cyberstalking is using the internet to harass another individual via electronic means, including (but not limited to) emails, instant messaging, or chat groups. It may be done anonymously, but it can also be done by someone the target knows. The cyberstalker is, of course, the person doing the electronic harassment. Emails might not seem harassing to anyone else, but if they're unwanted by the recipient, and they don't stop, they're a form of cyberstalking. 

What's really strange to me is that the cyberstalker may not consider what they're doing as harassment. 

As a physician and an elected official, I've been in the public's eye for most of my adult life. I'm used to it, in a way. When I started the blog in 2013, my borders expanded in amazing directions. My posts have been read literally around the world every single day. 

Writers need readers. When you write blogs every day, you need lots of readers. You also need to interact with those readers, and you do that through comments and replies. I LOVE comments. I don't think I've ever deleted a single one. They're all appreciated.  (Please, make more!)

The blog was just one of the ways the cyberstalker was drawn to me. (Please, don't even speculate about this man's name.)

The cyberstalker met me in a church setting years ago. He was a married man with adult children. I don't actually remember any conversations with this man, but there must have been a few words exchanged in passing. 

I had no idea he had developed an inappropriate attraction.

When I started the blog, Mr. Cyberstalker was a great fan. When I started at Global, he was a faithful supporter. I knew he liked my blog a lot, and I knew he respected me a lot, too. There's nothing scary about that, right?

He sent lots of emails, but I didn't think much about that, either, because my name wasn't the only one in the address line. I didn't have time to read so many emails, so, to be perfectly honest, I didn't always open them and rarely read them. 

Eventually, emails started arriving at night. I already had the habit of not reading the emails, so I didn't read these either, and that was my mistake. 

I was being cyberstalked, and didn't even know it.

He'd read about Sam and felt like he knew him. He called, wanting to visit Sam and, for no good reason, I thought he was visiting for his church. I was uncomfortable with the idea, but I let him come. I had a hard time getting him to leave and, after he left, I was even more uncomfortable and just a little afraid. 

He wanted to come back. I said no.

A few days later, I noticed that the opening line of one of those evening email said something like, "I hope you're not offended that I've shared my feelings with you..." and I thought WHAT??? 

I was shocked, and angry, and frightened. 

I read back through the emails I'd ignored and I was horrified as I read of this married man's feelings for me. His feelings weren't new. The decision to share them was.

Imagine reading through two weeks of cyberstalking emails at one time. I was sick about it, and I wrote a email that, I thought, would stop all contact. It didn't. 

I blocked electronic access. It took me a while to get all the social media outlets blocked completely, and, during the blocking period, the comments/messages continued as if they were the most natural, sensible, kind thing in the world. I believe he thinks they are.

It was unnerving and I felt as if my words had no impact at all. I felt impotent and inadequate to protect myself in this situation. 

I hate to admit it, but I was afraid.  

I prayed a lot about the situation, but I didn't surrender it to the Lord. I thought I could make it stop. 

When another email came, after the email that would stop all contact, I sent another cease and desist email. 

I think it's over now. I hope it is.

I'm not completely sure how the cyberstalker got started with his obsession, so this is my personal opinion, but it may not be accurate. I believe he genuinely, and innocently, admired me in the beginning. 

He probably believes his feelings are still innocent. From what I've read, they aren't. 

Ephesians 6:11 tells us that we are to "stand firm against the schemes of the devil." The word translated as "schemes" is methodeia and can also be translated as "lie in wait." 

I believe in the difference between good and evil. Between forces of evil and forces of good. I believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God. As such, I believe Ephesians 6:11 is true. There are schemes designed by the evil one to trip us up and destroy our testimony.

The enemy of our soul is neither omniscient nor omnipotent. He doesn't know everything that happens, but he does know us, the things we fear, and the sins to which we're vulnerable. He can't be everywhere at once, and he has a limited amount of fallen angels, so he strategizes about plans that may take years to unfold. He sets them in place, very effectively, and lets them run. Somewhere down the road, that land mine of a plan is waiting.

In this situation, the plan included an intersection of two people with a possibility of destruction for all involved.

The enemy took something positive and twisted it. Mr. Cyberstalker, a married man, could have taken every thought about a woman who was not his wife captive and kept himself from this treacherous path, but he didn't. 

Scripture tells us, as a man thinks in his heart, so he is. (Proverbs 23:7) He must've thought  these things in his heart for a long time before he began to act on them. At any point, he could've taken his thoughts captive, but he didn't.

This, dear friends, should be a lesson to us all. When Paul told us to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), he meant it, and with good reason. Our unguarded minds are the playground of Satan and will drag us through unimaginable stupidity and sin if we allow it.

Now, with those thoughts rattling around in his head, we add the blog. My writing style is conversational. Many readers have said they like to read my blog because it feels like they're having a conversation with me. 

I write that way on purpose. That's how I want it to feel.

You all know you're not actually having a conversation. You know it's a writing style, but it's an easy to read style. Right? Of course you do.

When the words of the blog prick your heart, that's the work of the Holy Spirit. 

However, if your thoughts aren't captivand you read a conversational blog, it might seem to you as if the writer was actually speaking directly to you. She's not, but you might feel she is...and that feeling might join in with your other wrong thinking to drive you further down a confused and dark path that eventually leads to emails that are unwanted. 

The scary thing is that, if the emails seem sensible to you, you can easily be led to more aggressive actions by the enemy of your soul, even if you haven't yet. 

The only sensible and self-protective action for someone in this situation is to repent, ask God to cleanse their minds, and take their thoughts captive. Get medical help if needed. If what you're doing doesn't seem inappropriate, however, you won't see a need for repentance, much less change.

I hate all this. I want it to stop. I'm embarrassed by it. 

At first, I thought it was my fault somehow for not realizing the problem sooner. It took me a while to understand that I didn't cause this. It's not my fault. 

I struggled with the idea that I was overreacting. When I read back through the emails, however, I knew I haven't. Thoughts lead to words. Words lead to actions. This must end now.

I've done what I can to stop all contact from this man. I have unfriended and blocked on social media, and I've blocked his email address. I've notified my mission director, my pastor, and his. I have a full can of wasp spray by my front door, I'm keeping my doors locked, and I've reported it to the police, but did not press charges.  

Here's where my big decision point came in. These emails are not threatening but they are harassing and unwanted and, as such, constitute cyberstalking. He's committing sin in his heart in which I want no part. This is a crime for which Mr. Cyberstalker can be charged. Since Mr. C lives in another state, it probably falls under the jurisdiction of the FBI. (I'm not sure about this, but I think it's true) 

As a novelist, calling the FBI in appeals to me. I'd learn more about FBI techniques and they could definitely bring this to an end. I could write a novel about it. 

But what's happening now isn't fiction. It's real life. Calling the FBI isn't what brings great glory to God. Obeying Jesus does.

My first priority is not to novel writing, anyway. It's to Jesus. 

The enemy has had free reign in this situation long enough. He's brought circumstances to the point where I can easily misstep and do the wrong thing...I can do the thing that sends this man and his family down a worse path than they're on or the thing that glorifies God and makes us all stand in awe of how amazing our God is. 

Put that way, the choice is pretty clear. 

It's taken me long hours with the Lord to come to the point of surrender. God's goal in every situation is not to see what the FBI will do. His goal is repentance and redemption. (2 Peter 3:9) If I'm going to be like Jesus, my goal needs to be repentance and redemption, too.

I've done what I can to stop all contact from Mr. C.  

I can let the police handle it from here, or I can do what I always do. Leave it with my heavenly Father. He's my shield and defender. (Psalm 28:7, Psalm 18:2) Goodness and Mercy follow me all the days of my life. (Psalm 23:6) I'm surrounded by the goodness and grace of God. No weapon formed against me will prosper. (Isaiah 54:17)

If I believe all those things, and I do, then I need to act like it. It's not the easiest thing I've ever done, but I'm pretty sure what is needed is a Cyberstalker/Christ collision. 

I'm turning him over to God. 

That may seem like a lot of nothing to you, but I've turned people and problems over to God before. I've seen Him handle a situation. He can do what needs to be done, whatever that is.

The most important thing I've decided to do is exactly what Jesus said. Pray for my enemies. (Matthew 5:44) I don't guess Mr. C is actually my enemy, but he's certainly been a harassment to me. 

I'm praying Mr. C will repent of his sins, be delivered from his obsession, and set free to serve God with a whole heart for the rest of his days. I'm praying he becomes so crazy-in-love with his own wife that he'll wonder what he saw in anyone else. 

I'm not just praying for Mr. C, though. I'm praying for this wife who has been betrayed by her husband...that she'll feel loved because she is loved. For his children, whose father has been such a bad example, to see a new man in Christ and stand in awe of the good work God has done. For his grandchildren, whose grandfather did not have his mind focused on heavenly things, to find the wisdom of heaven in their earthly grandfather. 

I'm praying, too, for us, the body of Christ, that we will not pick up the offense but will use this opportunity to give grace and pray hard for the very thing the enemy thought he was preventing by all his tactics: Repentance and redemption for this deceived and deluded man. 

I've seen the enemy take someone captive and keep them there for years. It's tragic, but a situation of evil doesn't have to end that way. 

As Joseph said after his brothers sold him to the passing traders, "And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." (Genesis 49:20)

That's how I want this situation to end. What looks like it's for evil can, and must, be turned to good to preserve many people. I'm counting on that very outcome. 

I'm speaking directly to all who're still reading: I hope you'll pray with me for a good outcome, too. Pray, too, that we (you and I) will not fall into the schemes of the devil as this man did, for the evil one has plans for destruction directed as us, as well. 
___________________
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Jesus Wasn't a White Supremacist and Other Thoughts On Charlottesville

If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Middle East, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line

Choosing a Cyberstalker/Christ Collision



Cyberstalking is a crime. 

I refuse to call myself a "victim", but I've definitely been the recipient of this crime in recent days.

Cyberstalking is using the internet to harass another individual via electronic means, including (but not limited to) emails, instant messaging, or chat groups. It may be done anonymously, but it can also be done by someone the target knows. The cyberstalker is, of course, the person doing the electronic harassment. 

What's really strange to me is that the cyberstalker may not consider what they're doing as harassment. 

As a physician and an elected official, I've been in the public's eye for most of my adult life. I'm used to it, in a way. When I started the blog in 2013, my borders expanded in amazing directions. My posts have been read literally around the world every single day. 

Writers need readers. When you write blogs every day, you need lots of readers. You also need to interact with those readers, and you do that through comments and replies. I LOVE comments. I don't think I've ever deleted a single one. They're all appreciated.  (Please, make more!)

The blog was just one of the ways the cyberstalker was drawn to me. (Please, don't even speculate about this man's name.)

The cyberstalker met me in a church setting years ago. He was a married man with adult children. I don't actually remember any conversations with this man, but there must have been a few words exchanged in passing. 

I had no idea he had developed an inappropriate attraction.

When I started the blog, Mr. Cyberstalker was a great fan. When I started at Global, he was a faithful supporter. I knew he liked my blog a lot, and I knew he respected me a lot, too. There's nothing scary about that, right?

He sent lots of emails, but I didn't think much about that, either, because my name wasn't the only one in the address line. I didn't have time to read so many emails, so, to be perfectly honest, I didn't always open them and rarely read them. 

Eventually, emails started arriving at night. I already had the habit of not reading the emails, so I didn't read these either, and that was my mistake. 

I was being cyberstalked, and didn't even know it.

He'd read about Sam and felt like he knew him. He called, wanting to visit Sam and, for no good reason, I thought he was visiting for his church. I was uncomfortable with the idea, but I let him come. I had a hard time getting him to leave and, after he left, I was even more uncomfortable and just a little afraid. 

He wanted to come back. I said no.

A few days later, I noticed that the opening line of one of those evening email said something like, "I hope you're not offended that I've shared my feelings with you..." and I thought WHAT??? 

I was shocked, and angry, and frightened. 

I read back through the emails I'd ignored and I was horrified as I read of this married man's feelings for me. His feelings weren't new. The decision to share them was.

Imagine reading through two weeks of cyberstalking emails at one time. I was sick about it, and I wrote a email that, I thought, would stop all contact. It didn't. 

I blocked electronic access. It took me a while to get all the social media outlets blocked completely, and, during the blocking period, the comments/messages continued as if they were the most natural, sensible, kind thing in the world. I believe he thinks they are.

It was unnerving and I felt as if my words had no impact at all. I felt impotent and inadequate to protect myself in this situation. 

I hate to admit it, but I was afraid.  

I prayed a lot about the situation, but I didn't surrender it to the Lord. I thought I could make it stop. 

When another email came, after the email that would stop all contact, I sent another cease and desist email. 

I think it's over now. I hope it is.

I'm not completely sure how the cyberstalker got started with his obsession, so this is my personal opinion, but it may not be accurate. I believe he genuinely, and innocently, admired me in the beginning. 

He probably believes his feelings are still innocent. From what I've read, they aren't. 

Ephesians 6:11 tells us that we are to "stand firm against the schemes of the devil." The word translated as "schemes" is methodeia and can also be translated as "lie in wait." 

I believe in the difference between good and evil. Between forces of evil and forces of good. I believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God. As such, I believe Ephesians 6:11 is true. There are schemes designed by the evil one to trip us up and destroy our testimony.

The enemy of our soul is neither omniscient nor omnipotent. He doesn't know everything that happens, but he does know us, the things we fear, and the sins to which we're vulnerable. He can't be everywhere at once, and he has a limited amount of fallen angels, so he strategizes about plans that may take years to unfold. He sets them in place, very effectively, and lets them run. Somewhere down the road, that land mine of a plan is waiting.

In this situation, the plan included an intersection of two people with a possibility of destruction for all involved.

The enemy took something positive and twisted it. Mr. Cyberstalker, a married man, could have taken every thought about a woman who was not his wife captive and kept himself from this treacherous path, but he didn't. 

Scripture tells us, as a man thinks in his heart, so he is. (Proverbs 23:7) He must've thought  these things in his heart for a long time before he began to act on them. At any point, he could've taken his thoughts captive, but he didn't.

This, dear friends, should be a lesson to us all. When Paul told us to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), he meant it, and with good reason. Our unguarded minds are the playground of Satan and will drag us through unimaginable stupidity and sin if we allow it.

Now, with those thoughts rattling around in his head, we add the blog. My writing style is conversational. Many readers have said they like to read my blog because it feels like they're having a conversation with me. 

I write that way on purpose. That's how I want it to feel.

You all know you're not actually having a conversation. You know it's a writing style, but it's an easy to read style. Right? Of course you do.

When the words of the blog prick your heart, that's the work of the Holy Spirit. 

However, if your thoughts aren't captive and you read a conversational blog, it might seem to you as if the writer was actually speaking directly to you. She's not, but you might feel she is...and that feeling might join in with your other wrong thinking to drive you further down a confused and dark path that eventually leads to emails that are unwanted. 

The scary thing is that, if the emails seem sensible to you, you can easily be led to more aggressive actions by the enemy of your soul, even if you haven't yet. 

The only sensible and self-protective action for someone in this situation is to repent, ask God to cleanse their minds, and take their thoughts captive. Get medical help if needed. If what you're doing doesn't seem inappropriate, however, you won't see a need for repentance, much less change.

I hate all this. I want it to stop. I'm embarrassed by it. 

At first, I thought it was my fault somehow for not realizing the problem sooner. It took me a while to understand that I didn't cause this. It's not my fault. 

I struggled with the idea that I was overreacting. When I read back through the emails, however, I knew I haven't. Thoughts lead to words. Words lead to actions. This must end now.

I've done what I can to stop all contact from this man. I have unfriended and blocked on social media, and I've blocked his email address. I've notified my mission director, my pastor, and his. I have a full can of wasp spray by my front door, I'm keeping my doors locked, and I've reported it to the police, but did not press charges.  

Here's where my big decision point came in. These emails are not threatening but they are harassing and unwanted and, as such, constitute cyberstalking. He's committing sin in his heart in which I want no part. This is a crime for which Mr. Cyberstalker can be charged. Since Mr. C lives in another state, it probably falls under the jurisdiction of the FBI. (I'm not sure about this, but I think it's true) 

As a novelist, calling the FBI in appeals to me. I'd learn more about FBI techniques and they could definitely bring this to an end. I could write a novel about it. 

But what's happening now isn't fiction. It's real life. Calling the FBI isn't what brings great glory to God. Obeying Jesus does.

My first priority is not to novel writing, anyway. It's to Jesus. 

The enemy has had free reign in this situation long enough. He's brought circumstances to the point where I can easily misstep and do the wrong thing...I can do the thing that sends this man and his family down a worse path than they're on or the thing that glorifies God and makes us all stand in awe of how amazing our God is. 

Put that way, the choice is pretty clear. 

It's taken me long hours with the Lord to come to the point of surrender. God's goal in every situation is not to see what the FBI will do. His goal is repentance and redemption. (2 Peter 3:9) If I'm going to be like Jesus, my goal needs to be repentance and redemption, too.

I've done what I can to stop all contact from Mr. C.  

I can let the police handle it from here, or I can do what I always do. Leave it with my heavenly Father. He's my shield and defender. (Psalm 28:7, Psalm 18:2) Goodness and Mercy follow me all the days of my life. (Psalm 23:6) I'm surrounded by the goodness and grace of God. No weapon formed against me will prosper. (Isaiah 54:17)

If I believe all those things, and I do, then I need to act like it. It's not the easiest thing I've ever done, but I'm pretty sure what is needed is a Cyberstalker/Christ collision. 

I'm turning him over to God. 

That may seem like a lot of nothing to you, but I've turned people and problems over to God before. I've seen Him handle a situation. He can do what needs to be done, whatever that is.

The most important thing I've decided to do is exactly what Jesus said. Pray for my enemies. (Matthew 5:44) I don't guess Mr. C is actually my enemy, but he's certainly been a harassment to me. 

I'm praying Mr. C will repent of his sins, be delivered from his obsession, and set free to serve God with a whole heart for the rest of his days. I'm praying he becomes so crazy-in-love with his own wife that he'll wonder what he saw in anyone else. 

I'm not just praying for Mr. C, though. I'm praying for this wife who has been betrayed by her husband...that she'll feel loved because she is loved. For his children, whose father has been such a bad example, to see a new man in Christ and stand in awe of the good work God has done. For his grandchildren, whose grandfather did not have his mind focused on heavenly things, to find the wisdom of heaven in their earthly grandfather. 

I'm praying, too, for us, the body of Christ, that we will not pick up the offense but will use this opportunity to give grace and pray hard for the very thing the enemy thought he was preventing by all his tactics: Repentance and redemption for this deceived and deluded man. 

I've seen the enemy take someone captive and keep them there for years. It's tragic, but a situation of evil doesn't have to end that way. 

As Joseph said after his brothers sold him to the passing traders, "And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." (Genesis 49:20)

That's how I want this situation to end. What looks like it's for evil can, and must, be turned to good to preserve many people. I'm counting on that very outcome. 

I'm speaking directly to all who're still reading: I hope you'll pray with me for a good outcome, too. Pray, too, that we (you and I) will not fall into the schemes of the devil as this man did, for the evil one has plans for destruction directed as us, as well. 
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Jesus Wasn't a White Supremacist and Other Thoughts On Charlottesville

If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Middle East, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line
#sistersofstrength #bodyofChrist 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Jesus Wasn't a White Supremacist, and Other Thoughts on Charlottesville


I've written and deleted numerous openings sentences this morning. I am still nearly speechless over what has happened in Charlottesville. In case you don't know, Charlottesville is a liberal, democratic college city. Local officials there are in the process of removing Confederate statutes and changing the names of two parks with "Confederate" names. 

White supremacists have converged on the city for a "rally" to protest removing the statutes. As you can well imagine, it has not gone well, and deaths and injuries have resulted.

To avoid going into a tirade, I've decided to make some comments without saying everything on my mind. 

First of all, the civil war that divided this country and resulted in incredible death and destruction was not our finest hour. I know all the "reasons" from either side, so please don't belabor the point by arguing. 

I grew up in Mississippi and I still live here. I get it. 

I understand that a big cotton field in full bloom is beautiful. A war is not. 

An antebellum home with towering white columns is beautiful. A slave shack is not. It's mighty hard to celebrate the plantation home without seeing the slave shack. Just saying. 

A little reality might be in order here. There are some very serious things about the pre-civil-war South that do not need to be revered nor celebrated.

Now, on to Charlottesville.

If you plan to go to a rally and think, "I better pack a helmet and a shield," it's clear you are going with the expectation of violence. 

If you plan to go to a rally and think, "I should pack swat gear and assault rifles," it's clear your intentions are for death and mayhem.

If those plans are even going through your head, you need to stop and reconsider what you're about to do. 

You also need to stay home. 

If you know of a rally with an opposing view from yours, and you think, "I should carry some spray cans and a lighter to make a flame thrower while I'm protesting at the rally," it's clear your intentions are for death and mayhem and you, too, should reconsider and stay home.

The freedom of assembly is a right guaranteed by our bill of rights, and I support that right, because I support the constitution. In fact, for twelve years, I served as a local elected official and vowed before God to preserve and protect our Constitution.  

However, if you've packed helmets, shields, and guns, you're aren't planning to attend a non-violent assembly. You're planning to attend a riot. That's not a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

I have one thing to say to White Supremacists: If you somehow think the color of your skin makes you "better" than anyone else, think again. If you want the "best" skin color that's ever existed, you need the same color of skin Jesus had, and that wasn't white. 

Jesus wasn't Anglo-Saxon/Caucasian. Neither was Peter, Paul, James, or John. For that matter, none of the other disciples were Anglo-Saxon/Caucasian either. They were Middle-Eastern, because that's where they lived. 

In fact, heaven is going to be full of "every nation and every tribe," which means lots of different skin colors and tones, and we won't be separated based on the color of our skin. 

If we're talking left and right, I love the people on both sides, but there are quite a few badly misguided people on both sides. 

Which side am I on? Jesus' side. 

He had two rules and I think we should all follow them. Love God with your entire being and love your neighbor as (in the same way) you love yourself. We'd have a lot less trouble getting along if we all did this. 

Frankly, it's long past time to quit worrying about our "rights" and start worrying about what is right. It's time to quit protesting for "rights" and start doing what is right. Love God. Love others. 

It's that simple. It's that hard. 

Thank you, clergy in Charlottesville for linking arms to separate the protestors from the rest of the people. That's putting your life where you mouth is. 

To the rest of us...enough is enough. 

I don't suppose any White Supremacists are reading this blog, but if you know one, please let them in on a fact they've missed: What happened in Charlottesville wasn't the way of Christ. 

I don't guess the people in Charlottesville are reading this either, but if you know any people there, please let them know, too. What happened in that city wasn't the way of Christ.

We've associated "the right" with Jesus for far too long. He wasn't the one with rocks in His holy hands, ready to pummel the woman caught in adultery. He was the one who wrote powerful words in the dirt, then said, "If you are without sin, you can cast the first stone." That day, everyone examined their hearts, dropped their stones, and went home.

That lady caught in adultery? She got up and did what Jesus said. "Stop sinning." 

We need a good bit more of that today. So let's do it. Examine our hearts. Drop our stones. Do what Jesus said. Sinners, stop it. And that means all of us.

Love God. Love others. 

"After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands." Revelation 7:9 niv
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Caregiver Chronicles: When a Community Cares 

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Caregiver Chronicles: When a Community Cares


I'm still studying Ruth, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, and am fascinated by Naomi. When she and Ruth entered Bethlehem together for the first time, all the people crowded around to greet her. She was nothing but a sour bag of grumbling, and announced, "I'm a bitter woman." 

If I'd been in that community, I might have thought, "Welcome back, Miss Bitter Bag. I'm steering clear of you." We'll talk about how Bethlehem responded later, but the thing that's caught my attention today is how everything turned for Naomi in a single moment. 

They were in desperate straits, so Ruth went into the fields to glean the charity grain. Her first day out, she gleaned in Boaz' field. When she returned home with leftover lunch and an apron full of grain, something huge stirred in Naomi. Suddenly, she wasn't Mara, Miss Bitter Bags anymore.

"...May he be blessed of the Lord who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead..." (Ruth 2:20)

Hope flooded in, and her praise returned.

Sam and I had that kind of day yesterday. 

The Sisters of Strength were scheduled to arrive at 8:30. They were coming to help me with a couple of pressing needs. 

When I went downstairs, Sam was still asleep. I prepped the food for breakfast with the Sisters while I waited for him to wake up. He kept sleeping. For a few moments, I worried that he'd gone into a coma, but it was just my overactive imagination. He was tired out from the day before. 

At 8:00 I woke him and we started the sometimes-long process of getting him ready for the day. Sam said, "Maybe you should put a sign up not to come in until I get my clothes on." 

I agreed, but a sign meant I had to find a piece of paper, a pen, and some tape. All that seemed like too big a task at the moment. Instead, I prayed, "Lord, please delay the Sisters until the right time, because I have my hands full here."

He did.

The very moment I finished getting Sam situated (except for shaving him, a job at which I'm absolutely terrible), someone knocked on the door. It was Jerry Iverson. He'd brought strawberry shortcake and whipped cream and come prepared to sing to Sam, pray over him, and shave him. 

Harold Patterson arrived a few minutes later with tomatoes and a watermelon and a heart full of song and Scripture. 

While I finished getting ready for the Sisters to come, the two men blessed Sam. The sound of their singing floated through my house and filled it with praise. 

The Sisters arrived in the midst of their visit. We had breakfast while Sam had a shave-with-serenade. It was wonderful.

Kandy Walker, one of the Sisters, arrived after the men left in her "Unicorn Princess" outfit, ready to clean my house. I was surprised. "You're cleaning my house?" 

She said, "You're doing what's important. I'm doing your floors." And she did. 

One of the things all the Sisters try to do is get Sam to smile. He's not a Bitter Bag, but he doesn't feel good much of the time, and smiles are few and far between. 

Kandy, in her "Unicorn Princess" outfit started a smiling fest. She flitted about the house with her tutu and tiara, wielding her Shark mop like a weapon. It was amazing. I don't think Sam ever stopped smiling. 

Sam's new nurse arrived in the middle of all the action. We were doing paperwork when Sam needed to potty, and I jumped up to help. "Oh, no. Let me. That's what I'm here for. To help you both," the new nurse said. I was shocked. She rushed over to Sam. As she helped him stand, she said, to the man who towered over her by a foot, "You're sure a long, tall drink of sweet tea, Mr. Sam." He grinned again.

She looked at the potty chair after she had him fixed and said, "I believe he's a lot taller than this chair. Let me adjust it right quick." And she did. 

She came with a servant heart filled with love and it was exactly what we needed.

Before our Unicorn Princess left, someone said, "What's the plan for Sam when you do the Prayer Retreat? Because I'm depending on that retreat. I need it bad." 

I said what I always say these days, "I have no idea. I'm asking God to send someone."

We decided that, since God hadn't sent anyone yet, we should ask together. Since we were asking for sitters, I suggested we ask for a sitter for Tuesday the 15th, too, as I had several appointments I didn't need to miss. We prayed and thanked God for what He would do.

I won't go in to what Tonya Henley, Casandra Weeks, and I did before this next, but, when we were about sweated out from our work, we loaded Sam up and went to his house to look for T-shirts. Sam wanted to sit in his house for a while, so he was pretty excited about this.

We hadn't been there for ten minutes before Chris Crump and his son stopped by. (That raised the total vehicle count outside to four.) Pretty soon his wife joined us, and that made five. 

The Blue Springs Police were driving past, saw a crowd, and stopped. Chief Brandon Clayton and Officer Norris Robbins climbed out of the patrol car. "We saw all the cars and were worried something had happened to Sam. Is he okay?"

That started a flurry of calls and texts. People in our town had seen the cars and they were worried. "We're praying for you and Sam. Are y'all okay?" That's the kind of texts I received, because that's the kind of town Blue Springs is. People continued to check on him for hours.

When Sam had finished sitting in his house, Brandon and Norris offered to help get Sam back to my house, and I accepted. We made it just before the rain started.

After everyone left, I sat by Sam as we talked about the day. He was tired but still smiling. "It sure was nice that so many people checked on me." 

"Yep, Sam," I told him. "People love you." 

He didn't say much, but just nodded. After a few minutes, he said, "You know, Blue Springs has always been a nice town." And he was right.

It had been a huge day and Sam was worn out. He ate a very quick supper and turned in, then instructed me to do the same. 

"Are you trying to get rid of me, Sam?" 

He nodded and grinned. "Don't be making any noise and waking me up," he warned. I headed upstairs, leaving Sam to savor the love that had been lavished on him all day long.

It had been a turning point kind of day, but God wasn't through. I had just crawled into bed when I received a text from my friend, Diane Becraft. She was in town from Texas, visiting family for a week, and offered to sit with Sam one day. For exactly the amount of time I needed someone to sit. On Tuesday. 

Answered prayer.

I had just thanked her when June Winstead messaged me and offered to stay with Sam during the prayer retreat. 

Answered prayer again.

Sam and I both savored the community that cared. We thanked God for a day that was so filled with the love and provision of God that hope rushed in and praise poured out. 

It was a beautiful day and we're so grateful to all those who, in helping us, helped make it so wonderful. 

What about us? Are we a Bitter Bag or a Community that Cares? Which attitude do we have? In case you've wondered, being a Bitter Bag is nothing like Jesus. 

If we're in need of an attitude change, let's ask God to help us. Someone said yesterday that when they felt down and discouraged, they found someone to help and it always made the day better. Whether we're down and discouraged or not, why not find someone to help. We can make our day, and theirs, lots better by being part of a community that ares. 

In fact, we might just be the one on whom "the day when hope rushes in and praises pours out" depends. 

Be that one.

Serve Jesus by serving others. 

"The King will reply, 'Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me." Matthew 25:40 niv
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Caregiver Chronicles: When Times are Hard and You Can't Recognize Your Blessings

If this is your first time to read about the Sam adventures and the Caregiver Chronicles, you might want to read this post to see how it started: When the Time to Move Finally Comes

If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Middle East, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line
#sistersofstrength #bodyofChrist