The Monument Called Shame

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We often do things backwards. In other words, when we are abused, harshly treated, pushed by force beyond our personal convictions, or even fall off our own principles, we tend to harden our hearts with walls that keep the harm fully present. Then we constantly push encouragement, kindness, and love outside those walls and not let them in. We do not grant forgiveness entry and claim protection from further harm by using the abuse (whether from self or others) as our shield. We hold it up high to deflect anything that might penetrate its armored stance. The abuse stands as a proud monument and it’s label is shame.

When In fact, what we must do is force the harm and abuse out, and let the forgiveness and love in to heal us, ridding us of shame and to protect us from further injury. Forgiveness embraces us. When we shield it from coming in or forbid it from going out, we remain not only broken but tied (or should I say ‘bound’) to the eras or events of corruption inside.

Think of your heart as having fences and gates (boundaries). Walls can be broken down from either side, but then you have rubble that is often harmful in itself. (But if you must first tear down the walls to build fences, go at it!!! With a sledgehammer!) With the fences and gates, we constantly protect ourselves by letting the harm go out and not return to haunt us and let the encouragement, the kindness and love flow in. We are the keepers of that gate! There will be triggers and there will be harmful words and actions at that gate but WE determine which ones remain and which ones need to keep on walking past.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Proverbs 4:23 NIV

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Heart, take note!

I’ve just started reading “The Road to Character” by David Brooks (New York Times bestselling author) and I have to say that I’m barely through the introduction and already have found another book reference that makes me want to read it, and several quote worthy entries.

The quoted book: “Lonely Man of Faith” written by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik in 1966 in which he writes about our two sets of virtues: Adam I and Adam II. Adam I is the career-oriented, ambitious side of our nature. Adam II is the internal Adam who wants to have a serene inner character, a quiet but solid sense of right and wrong–not only to do good, but to be good. Adam II wants to love intimately, to sacrifice self in the service of others, to live in obedience to some transcendent truth, to have a cohesive inner soul that honors creation and one’s own possibilities.

David Brook’s book, “The Road to Character” is about Adam II. It’s about cultivating (one of my favorite words) a strong character and wise heart. He says he wrote it to save his own soul. I’m in.

I started this blog to tell you about a quote quoted from an email so I guess you could say that this is a quote from a quote from a quote. An email sent from Dave Jolly to David Brooks says (and I quote) “The heart cannot be taught in a classroom intellectually, to students mechanically taking notes … Good, wise hearts are obtained through lifetimes of diligent effort to dig deeply within and heal lifetimes of scars…It has to be discovered within the depths of one’s own heart when a person is finally ready to go looking for it, and not before.” Bold, italics mine.

Heart: take note!!!

For The Joy

We want to know what we need to know so we can know it before we need to know it.

debmcfarlin

Hinges. It hinges on… Very rarely do we detect a hinge. We know it’s there and moves the door but the door is all we pay attention to. However, we cannot move into anything like change without them.

When we open a door with the purpose of leaving or entering, our mindless act of reaching out and grabbing the door knob is merely based on the entrance or exit itself. If we do happen to notice the door or the knob that we turn, I would venture to say that our thoughts would rarely if ever, turn to the hinge.

Perhaps an election is a hinge meant to usher in a new era. A search or research can be a hinge, unveiling a discovery that we weren’t expecting. There it is. An open door to a new world of thinking.

A long flight to a distant country is a hinge…

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Keith E White

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Keith E. White
2-12-51 ~ 3-20-17

Yesterday you died. Your body gave out. Your heart quit beating. You were unable to continue taking in the breaths that provided you life on this earth. But you live.  Perhaps memories give us comfort; scenes of yesteryear pop through the channels of our minds.

Funny, that. How death erases the mistakes and enlarges the good.  It would make you smile in contentment to know how that worked. Maybe you do know. We’ve had a lot of fun times, laughing, playing, adventuring, exploring, musing. I’m happy that we have those go-to moments in our sadness of losing you.

People think it weird that we were able to put our past behind us as much as possible but I think it wonderful. We each found life and love beyond what you and I lost and could be joyful for the other that we had another chance at happiness.

Brokenness is only as crippling as you let it be. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. A gift that God granted us himself. It only works if you give it away. If you harbor it then it only resides in selfish bitterness and never completes that which it was created to do. As difficult as it was for you to wade through those things—you were determined to do it! I saw your journey and witnessed your trek through the muck of life. I had hopes that you would make it through with me and it was so difficult to maneuver away from your path that you had to walk alone. The hardest thing I ever had to do was to take the fork that separated us but you understood. Even while we each hurt ourselves and each other, you understood. You were deep like that. I know you found the forgiveness that you sought, for you told me. God knew who you were all along and I think you finally realized that He did, and He loved who He knew.

Love is eternal. Thus, a part of me that loved you will always love you. Me and my children can always be grateful for the things you taught us. You taught us to love the beauty of nature. You were alive in nature! Your color blindness gave you insight into the new growth of bright green leaves and you could see them before they were evident to others. You loved the Dogwoods and the Redbuds most of all.  You loved growing things and watching them develop and fruit and would get so excited about the life that flowed from a seed. You taught me how to appreciate the tenderness of that life.

You were able to point out so many small but significant things- bringing out valuable lessons from life and nature. You taught us to be mindful and not to miss the little opportunities before they lapse and fly away. You tried to teach us to be totally fearless. Fear was debilitating and you faced it just to defy it. You taught us to love without limits, to jump in with both feet. To find God in solace and in the quiet; to talk to Him there. You taught us to love beauty and be “in it” as much as possible.

Your propensity to live life to its extremes and your perfectionism at once got you in trouble and caused you pain. Even the pain taught you and is teaching us how to live life. To let go. To hold on and to keep on. You would find comfort in knowing that the goodness you were is what is living on in us. We know you loved us. We know you committed to do well. We know you made things right. We know you were a help, a companion and a friend to your life partner and had found love and happiness in her, and she in you. Your blood and genes will live on in your son, but you will live on in all of our hearts and lives. Your laughter and your smile is etched in our memories and is what remains.

God, in His great mercy and loving kindness once again works all things good, arranges and rearranges mysteriously and brings about delightful gifts and bestows them upon us, His dear children.

Let Food Be Your Medicine

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Let Food Be Your Medicine by Dr. Don Colbert, MD- a book review

I was so excited to get to review the book: Let Food Be Your Medicine by Don Colbert, MD for more than one reason. I am overweight, but I have been making healthier food choices, so I couldn’t wait to read the book to help me in this endeavor. There’s been a lot said for dietary changes and in some cases, even proven to prevent, and reverse diseases. At the least, better food choices can suspend the disease from progressing or worsening. This fact has helped thousands improve their lives!

Dr. Colbert is a New York Times best-selling author with over forty books to his credit. He is also board-certified in family practice and specializes in anti-aging medicine. What he has done is incredible. With intensive research following his own struggle with inflammation, he found that there are certain foods that affect all parts of the body. That started a long journey to figure out what the trigger foods were so he could stop treating symptoms and start treating the root causes. We are a country that heavily relies on medical training from the pharmaceutical world.

Trauma also plays a huge part because it acts like a switch that makes us susceptible to auto-immune diseases. Heartbreak, pent-up feelings like anger, rage, resentment, frustration and other toxic emotions all build up and cause a lot of internal pain and eventual disease. Discovering what foods your body reacts to and why, coupled with forgiveness therapy and trauma resolution helps us to heal from the inside out. We can reprogram our bodies to combat the horrifying diseases that torments us.

Dr. Colbert isn’t behind a desk quoting all these to-do’s and don’t do’s at us. He has an incredible back-story that started him on this quest. His extensive research, his unique insight, his 25 year plus medical knowledge and practice has led him to discover what negatively affects our health and why. He shares this journey with us and hands us the world’s best anti-inflammatory diet: the super-healthy Mediterranean Diet modified for cardiovascular disease, weight loss, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, cancer, dementia and Alzheimer’s, ADHD and autism, and mental illness. He also includes meal plans, shopping lists, and other helpful tools to assist us on our personal journeys.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” –Hippocrates

Lost Faith

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As soon as I read the request for advice my heart went to the only place I knew that could help. “God give me the wisdom and the words to soothe on this hurting heart”, I prayed. Sometimes I know right away that God has heard my plea and He drops the words into my heart. Sometimes, I must speak in faith that God has heard my request and to feebly offer my words. Perhaps it’s in the times I feel the least capable that God can use what I’ve offered because it doesn’t come from me exactly, just from the willingness to be a friend. One thing I do know is that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there in the midst of them! “So this is us, God. The two of us, that have turned to each other in the middle of a crisis, a trial; a storm..and we humbly ask you to be here with us.

I have written down the things that have come to my mind after praying for God to give me wisdom and words to speak to you. I hope that they heal and help you. May God give us both grace to let His words speak into our lives and hearts and heal the inner wounds. Only He can give that kind of grace, peace and strength that goes beyond our human ability.

My first thought was to reassure you that this is not something that you can just rebuke and it magically will go away. The Holy Spirit is not some magic wand that you wave around and call upon to do your bidding.  He is God—living on the inside of you.

Number 2., God IS with you. He is Ok with you not being OK with Him right now.  If there’s anything I’ve learned during dark periods of my life, it’s that He doesn’t stomp his feet and thunder in the night, demanding to be heard. He is waiting in the background until you’re ready to invite him into your mess.  He wants to hold you and comfort you. Even when we blame him or accuse him of permitting such pain and devastation to happen to us, He understands our heartache and doesn’t turn away from us. He waits for the decision to be ours to trust Him despite what it feels or looks like.

Point 3., There’s nothing wrong with feeling helpless in a situation. People who give us that impression are in fact in deep denial themselves. We all come to a deep cavern in our lives at one time or another. Some of us more than once. I’ve often wondered why I have had to go through so much. Maybe I’m stubborn and it takes a lot to learn the lesson. I don’t know and perhaps won’t know until I can ask Jesus in person, but the reason why some people cannot admit to their weakness is that they feel they must appear strong to be godly. To be a Christian and a “faith-filled” person, they feel they must put on a front that makes them look like they have “power” with God. So basically they’re in denial, which is sad because to admit we are powerless and “we can’t” is what give us the supernatural strength of the Holy Ghost to overcome. His strength is perfect (complete) when our strength is gone. There’s no shame in admitting we are weak, empty or in despair. Our hope is gone.

In the Bible we read where Jesus came to these so-called “super-spiritual” persons and rebuked them for being so puffed up and arrogant. But he “praised” those who humbly sought after him. The ones who knew that they didn’t deserve him and even the ones who were caught in their sin and fell at his feet. They are the ones who knew without a doubt that they needed, desperately needed, his help-his touch and somehow his love to cover them.

This great trial of your faith is exactly that. A trial. It’s based on evidence, past history and fact but also on our mental capacity to believe in spite of the facts. You have been at a crossroads for some time now. Wondering where you fit in this whole God equation. You know you have believed in the past. You have had faith (as you knew it) to be active in your heart. Now God is drawing you, beckoning you to a step into a deeper, more personal walk of faith. A faith that is yours alone. A faith that can’t be shaken because you are grounded in it. A personal walk because it doesn’t depend on someone else’s words or actions or lack of action, it’s yours alone. You can claim it because it comes from deep inside of you. A step of faith into the unknown.

Sometimes our faith and belief is shaken so hard to see what’s left standing. After all the misconceptions are swept away. After all that we’ve ever believed in has been stripped from us. Our dignity ripped from us. Our health taken from us. Our finances, our jobs, our homes, our families, all that we have put faith in before—gone! What is left? A step in one direction or another. A step back that is bitter and cold. A step to retreat into ourselves that is angry and dark. A step that is harsh and hurts to the core and pain that never goes away, like an ache for home but never being able to go home. OR a step into the before now, unknown. A step that says “I can’t feel God, I don’t know where God is, I don’t even know if He’s real anymore but I’m going to choose to believe He is there.” “In spite of all I “feel” in my emotions, if I’m going to err one way or another, I’m going to err on the side of God. If He’s not real, I haven’t lost anything, I just gained joy and a sense of peace. If He is real and I chose not to believe, I’ve lost everything.”

The Bible tells us (Romans 12:3) that everyone has a “measure” of faith.  Hebrews 11:3 says that by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by God. We weren’t there to see it happen. We didn’t witness it. We don’t even know how it happened, but we believe it happened because we choose to. I Peter 1:7 tells us that these trials come so that our faith, which is of much greater value than gold (because gold will melt in the fire even though it is refined by fire), will be proved genuine. James 1:3 tells us that the “trying” of our faith produces patience; it develops perseverance and determination. And that perseverance makes us mature and complete, not lacking anything. And finally, 2 Corinthians tells us that we must walk by faith and not by sight. How are we to know how to walk, to be complete or to persevere if we don’t know what faith is?

Faith is not just seeing the result of your prayers being answered. Faith is keeping on walking and believing when you can’t see any change. The “result” of this walking by faith is a changing on the inside of us. It’s a transformation that happens on the soul level. No one can produce it for you, it’s choosing to keep walking despite the continued darkness.  There is light at the end of this tunnel!!! Just don’t stop walking. Keep holding on.

So, my friend… “how do you get back to the faith you had when you felt that your soul was at peace and you knew God was with you?” You chose it. You chose to believe. Then Peace comes, because He’s been there all the time.

The First Words of Jesus by Stu Epperson, Jr

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We’ve all heard how that there’s power in words. Probably experienced it for ourselves.  A word spoken cannot be revoked. Good or bad, it’s out there never to be unspoken. True, a word can be retracted for whatever reason, but it can never be unheard. In his book, First Words of Jesus, Author Stu Epperson, Jr. opens our understanding of the power of Jesus’ first recorded words, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49)

Christmastime is all about the birth of our Savior. We rejoice that a babe came wrapped and placed in a manger. We celebrate His birth. We give gifts in honor of His coming. “Isn’t this the essence of Christmas? Isn’t this the reason Jesus came down?”, Mr. Epperson inquires of his readers. Jesus’ first recorded words tell us the story…He came to be about The Father’s business. From cradle to cross, Jesus’s purpose was to fulfill a mission.

Jesus came to die so that we could live.

Why do we seek Him? Why do you seek Him? Contemplate these questions as you read through this very intriguing and interesting book.

@Worthypub @stuepperson #firstwordsofjesus

When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette by Max Davis (A Book Review)

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I was intrigued by the title of this book. I couldn’t wait to read it. I’ve read a few of Max Davis’s books and have found him to be honest and bold with a twist of humor. His optimism is bright, his faith authentic.

The first chapter opens with a chance meeting in the coffee aisle with a young lady who literally changed his life. A powerful encounter that caused Max to walk out of that grocery store forever different. Christ was in her. She exuded the aroma of Jesus. Being next to her and feeling the love of Jesus radiating from her caused Max to look into his soul’s mirror and see pride, unbelief, self-righteousness, ungratefulness, and insecurities. All of that has to go for Jesus to live through us and to love people the way God does.

This book is about how real Jesus really is. How allowing Jesus to live through us impacts our circumstances and the people around us.

Max caught my attention and I have devoured the pages from the start. Parts of his personal story are here for us to read. He is transparent and real about his struggles, his failures and experiences. I can identify with the tests of his faith. We have to die to self before we can understand the reality of Christ living on the inside of us. In the natural world, God is working through things that make no sense whatsoever. But somehow, someway, He works through all things in our lives together for His good purposes if we allow Him to. In Max’s words, “I’m talking about hurts, accidents, sins, and our own stupidity—all of it.”

Some people go to church to meet God, but like Author Davis reminds us, Jesus is very much alive today and He shows up in ordinary people in our everyday circumstances.

You might meet Him in the coffee aisle at your grocery store, or you might run into Him at a hospital, school or workplace. Max tells us some miraculous stories about people that radiate God’s love in this book and after reading it, you will be encouraged, uplifted, and maybe even transformed. I believe it will change your life as you look into the mirror of your own soul.

@Worthypub @MaxDavisBooks #WhenJesusWas

For The Joy

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Hinges. It hinges on… Very rarely do we detect a hinge. We know it’s there and moves the door but the door is all we pay attention to. However, we cannot move into anything like change without them.

When we open a door with the purpose of leaving or entering, our mindless act of reaching out and grabbing the door knob is merely based on the entrance or exit itself. If we do happen to notice the door or the knob that we turn, I would venture to say that our thoughts would rarely if ever, turn to the hinge.

Perhaps an election is a hinge meant to usher in a new era. A search or research can be a hinge, unveiling a discovery that we weren’t expecting. There it is. An open door to a new world of thinking.

A long flight to a distant country is a hinge taking us from our departure and into our future arrival. We expect the wait. We seldom like the delay and wish for a beam-me-up-Scotty conveyance to be invented so we can transport immediately to our destination and eliminate the hinge altogether.

The awaiting place or time is what keeps us halfway patient. Although none of us particularly like the wait unless we have many things to do that eliminates the act of waiting and morphs it into space and time to complete such tasks, our intended destination remains at the back of our minds as a purpose for the waiting. We draw from this logic to comfort us in our hinged state.

Albeit, something unbeknownst to us can make us very uncomfortable. Why am I waiting? What am I waiting for? What is this delay? I’m just not sure. I just don’t know. I don’t know why. How can I find out? And the hinge becomes the problem itself although it is a necessary transitional stage to move us to the following step.

We want to know what we need to know so we can know it before we need to know it. We don’t like our hunches. We dislike the oblivion. We constantly indulge in speculation. Our imaginations run wild on the vast horizon ahead, as we strive to comprehend something that we cannot see. After tiring of conjuring up the future to satisfy our present quandary, we turn to the past. What did I do? What have I left undone? Why didn’t I make a different decision? The regrets that inhabit our minds all gather and join the questions of the future and before long, we are an unraveled present mess.

It’s just a hinge. The door needs it to swing open. We have to have it in order to transform. Instead of patience being created, impatience sabotages the learning. Our days may blend together in an inseparable mix until we can’t identify the parts but they are still ushering us; pulling us into a future beyond.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Is judging an Act of Selfishness?

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Is judging an act of selfishness? I review books for a Christian publisher. I would say that 98% of the books I end up loving to read and have reread them at least once. Even though I don’t always agree with 100% of what is said, I don’t discredit the whole book. I guess that’s where the saying “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water” came from! However, I am constantly amazed at the comments from people on a book if they don’t like one thing in it and bash the author or make rude comments about it, sometimes to the point that it degenerates into a chaotic frenzy. If you don’t care for something, just try to be positive, state the negative, and be done. We are so quick to judge something or someone by one instance. Respect for others is a matter of character and a call to humility.

We’re not the only ones to suffer this malady. The disciples judged the woman who poured out costly perfume on Jesus. Martha judged Mary. The Pharisees were always judging others based on their perception of holiness and missed what holiness was all about. We have to be careful that we hold our personal convictions as sacred and, well, personal. If we force them on others it becomes not a conviction but an overinflated view of our opinions.

Just as the handpicked disciples of Jesus were made up of all kinds of different personalities and characteristics, we are all different and He loves us all! We are not perfect, He sees our flaws and our errors but constantly endeavors to transform our character flaws into useful tools and strengths.

So yes, when we judge others it is a selfish act of using our narrow-minded yardstick to measure others. It is based upon our own personal head space where all kinds of thought processes take place.

Martha found herself rebuked. Not for performing her personal service to God, but for judging Mary in her personal adoration. Jesus defended the extravagant act of a woman over the disciple’s objections, calling it an offering acceptable even above giving to the poor.

God designed us all. Just like He designed and created the many birds, the fish of the sea and beautiful landscapes. From the snow topped mountain, to the bottom of the ocean floor there are a vast number of differences, not only in beauty but in the contrast that reflects His handiwork–so are we created.

It sure makes my selfish judging look mighty ugly. I’m reminded of my propensity to selfishness, to judging, of pride, and all other human limitations that I experience not to cause me to feel hopeless but to empty myself of me so I can be full of Him.