A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

The goal of John’s ministry was to urge folks to turn from their sins and accept Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord.  He preached baptism – the washing away of sin with water.  He emphasized the importance of complete repentance of sins.  The baptism with water is just the outward sign of an inward work and the renewal of the heart.  The inward work, of course, is done by the Lord and not through anything we do.  That is not to say our good deeds do not count or matter – they most definitely do – but in God’s eyes, it’s WHY we do those good deeds that matter most.  Our heart’s intentions are important.  Motive.  It’s about our motive.  What motivates us?  If we are in love with the Lord – His love for us and our desire to share His love through good deeds will surely be our motivation.

If we are not really holy in heart and life, our profession of religion and relation to God and His church is meaningless.  You can fool people, but you can’t fool God.  If we are to plant seeds of kindness and compassion, we must determine to meet some needs that other people have.  The two go hand in hand – it just makes sense.

A wise pastor once said, “If you don’t meet a person’s immediate need, you have absolutely no business trying to plant a gospel seed.”  We have to feed, clothe, cry with, listen to – before we can even think about introducing the wonderful good news – the gospel of Jesus Christ.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you have nothing to give, you can say prayers for those in need.  Remember, God sees your heart, your motive, and intentions.

Kindness really does count.  It matters what we share and that we care.  🙂

 

 

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THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

TL 11-25 INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

THE WINDOWS OF THE SOUL

Violence is such a buzz word in our society.  There is violence all around us.  Times are tough right now.  People don’t have jobs (or more than likely they have a couple of part-time jobs and still can’t skate by).  The stresses of life can build up and if you don’t have an outlet (the gym or some other release), you might strike out at the ones you supposedly love the most.  But abuse is NEVER right – NEVER. 

Let me tell you about a woman who experiences violence behind closed doors.  Behind lead-glass French doors, I might add.

It’s the heaviest burden she will ever bear.  It’s the darkest secret she will ever hide.  She will go to great lengths to make it look as though everything is perfect to outsiders – neighbors and friends.  She will make every excuse in the book to “cover” for her abuser, saying, “He just had a bad day” – or “Wow am I stupid, why did I make him angry like that?”   She turns the fault on herself – every single time.

After a while, she begins to believe that lie.  She has internalized the blame for so long that eventually – everything that goes wrong is somehow her fault.  It doesn’t matter if it does not make logical sense – it is still her fault.  Her abuser has her right where he wants her…  frightened and vulnerable.  She’s afraid of her own shadow and unable to make simple decisions anymore.  She is completely paralyzed and spends time over thinking things that the rest of us don’t think twice about.  She questions her own sanity at times.

She’s lost every ounce of self-esteem and beats herself up and may even cut herself because she “deserves” nothing less in her mind.  Her abuser has convinced her that she is less than in every respect.  She is not as pretty, as smart, as skinny, as understanding, as – anything.  She thinks if only she was all those things, then finally she would be good enough and her abuser would stop verbally  and/or physically abusing her.

If she has children she feels especially trapped.  If she does not have children there is a chance she can get away, but she knows she needs a plan.  It’s frightening to plan her escape because up to this point she does not believe she has done one single thing right.  She asks herself why this plan would be any better than anything else she’s done.

She keeps replaying the conversation she had with her sister before the wedding.  Her sister expressed concern about specific times when his temper flared or he seemed too controlling.    The blushing bride patted her sister’s hand and assured her that it was nothing, but thanked her for being concerned.  She recalls quickly changing the subject at that point.

But now she knows her sister was right about him.  Those moments were red flags – signs.  She ignored them.  Why did she choose to ignore them?  She thought she loved him.  A nervous  laugh becomes audible as that thought passes through her mind.  She quietly said under her breath, ” What a cliche’!”  Now she knows that the only One who ever loved her gave His life for her.  Love was never a part of her marriage.  It’s always been about survival.

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She has a best friend who stays closer than a brother – His name is Jesus.  He knows her name – he knows what she is thinking and how she is feeling about herself.  He will help her through this.  She prays for her abuser as she scratches and claws her way out of this pit.  She listens to teaching that helps her hold on to threads of self-esteem.  She spends time alone with God to gain strength.  She found a loving circle of support from good Christian folks who  encourage her to take another step.  She just needs the courage to leave.  She needs a plan.  She prays that one in her circle can be trusted to help her.  She asks God who she should confide in and ask for help.

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If you are a man who abuses a woman – know this…  God is watching.  You may control your woman through violent behavior or verbal vomit, but when you have to stand before God one day (and oh yeah – you will) – you won’t have enough honey-covered words to get you out of that situation.  GET HELP – get it now.  Stopping is a process but it has to begin TODAY.  Find a good reputable Christian counselor and begin sessions.  Abusing a woman (or anyone else) does not make you more of a man.  If you have anger management issues – it is YOUR problem – don’t make it hers too. 

That woman you have – she is a bright, brilliant, fragile and loving soul that God entrusted you with!  Treat her with all the tenderness you possibly can.  If you will do that, you will be AMAZED at the love you receive in return!  Get on your knees and thank God for her every day.  Instead of belittling her, lift her up – it really does not take much to make a woman smile.  You know what, Mr. abuser?  God counts that woman’s tears – every one of them.  On judgment day He will show you that bottle of tears and ask for an explanation.  But the smiles you put on her face – now wouldn’t you rather see images of the smiles from God and hear the words WELL DONE, THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT…  ???  😀

 

 

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF NON-VIOLENCE

TL 10-2 INTERNATIONAL DAY OF NON-VIOLENCE

Nobody writes poetry from the heart like Lucinda Berry Hill. I’m blessed to call her my friend. God brought us together as writers and sisters in Christ. It was not until later in our friendship we discovered we have more in common. We both experienced abuse in past relationships. We want to come together today and not only tell our stories, but encourage those who are in an abusive relationship to get out of it. God loves you so much. You are important to Him. You are His precious child.

Lucinda is speaking out. She begins by saying, “Lately there’s a lot of talk about domestic violence. Football players are being found out and female celebrities are sharing their stories.” She continues on a more personal note. “So let me say, I too have been subjected to domestic violence for 8 long years. I used to say I could write a Stephan King novel with all that has happened to me. But now I write about God’s mercy, power, and His love.”

HE CRIED WITH ME
HE MADE ME TOUGHER
I'M GOD'S SOMEBODY

Shine in the midst of your troubles, proclaiming that God is able. – Judy Janowski

Hey, it’s me – Linda. My questions are simple: Why do abusers feel no shame? Why does society not hold them accountable for what they’ve done? Where is the outrage? Did it take a video in an elevator to make everyone speak up?

You know, abuse comes in a lot of forms. We think of domestic violence right away, with scars on the outside, but there’s an abuse called mental cruelty. It made me afraid to speak because I knew I would be shot down. It gave me a knot so big and tight in the pit of my stomach, I thought I might die from it. I second-guessed every little thing I did because he will surely find fault with it if I didn’t. Even if I did double-check what I did, it would still be wrong. Then I decided to do nothing and be quiet. It made me feel lonely and hurt – and I cried – a lot. I continued to do nothing because it’s never good enough. I felt paralyzed and stayed hunkered down and quiet because I never said the right thing. Pretty soon you developed an attitude that said, “I don’t care anymore – he’s going to shoot down whatever I do or say anyway, so who cares?”

Deep down I did care – and I knew I did. I just didn’t know what to do about it. I just craved – and I do mean CRAVED (there’s just no other word for it) a compliment, a smile, a hug, some positive affirmation from him. It never happened, but I kept hoping it would. I told myself, “That’s just not the way he shows his love for me. He shows love in different ways.” That’s the lie that got me through the days, weeks, months, years. Some days it worked. Some days it didn’t work. Some days I played Bejeweled 2 just so I could hear the words GOOD and EXCELLENT – the strong, booming voice on the game told me I was doing well. At least I knew I was good at something. Sometimes that was the closest thing to a compliment I got all day.

If you are a man and you abuse a woman, know this: God sees what you do whether other people see it or not. He counts that woman’s tears and keeps them in a bottle. He cries with her and holds her in the palm of His mighty hand. He will always protect her and you, my friend, are in big trouble. Think before you tear a woman down mentally or abuse her physically. You will have God to reckon with! You’d better think about how you will justify that behavior with Him. He won’t believe just any excuse you come up with. :-/

MENTAL CRUELTY

Today is INTERNATIONAL DAY OF NON-VIOLENCE. It must stop. It needs to stop – now. ❤  If you abuse your significant other, be prepared to walk away, learn from your mistakes, get help, change your ways and start over.  No one will take you back having been abused by you.  If you get an opportunity to love again, make sure it is love.  Don’t mess it up.  A relationship is a precious gift from God.

If you are the victim of abuse, read this:

Become a Lake

An aging master grew tired of his apprentice’s complaints. One morning, he sent him to get some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master told him to mix a handful of salt in a glass of water and then drink it.
“How does it taste?” the master asked.
“Bitter,” said the apprentice.
The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.”
As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?”
“Fresh,” remarked the apprentice.
“Do you taste the salt?” asked the master.
“No,” said the young man. At this the master sat beside this serious young man, and explained softly,
“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains exactly the same. However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”

NATIONAL GRIEF AWARENESS DAY

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https://youtu.be/bx8RwhIWk6Y

Yes – this video is dated 2014 – I added this later because I wanted you to meet Angie.  😉

When my husband and I lost our mothers within just a few months of each other in 2004, I thought I could earn a black belt in grief! We found ourselves puzzled and a bit overwhelmed for the rest of 2004 and most of 2005. The worst part of losing the last member of your family is facing Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those traditions are gone and the loss is nearly unbearable.

Everyone grieves differently and at their own pace. Grief is not something that anyone else should try to rush.

The tears come quite unexpectedly, usually at the most inopportune times. I lost my daddy in November of 1988. On February 21, 1989, which would have been his 64th birthday, my husband and I were having dinner with friends. I looked across the restaurant and saw a father and daughter dining together. Out of the blue I just burst into tears and embarrassed my husband. I felt bad about making a scene in front of his friends. Such is this beast, grief. It messes with your emotions when you least expect it.

About the time you think you’ve got it together, you fall apart again. It’s difficult to describe grief unless you’ve experienced it personally. It’s not exactly a club I was anxious to join, but here I am!

Sorrow comes in great waves… but rolls over us, and though it may almost smother us, it leaves us.  And we know that if it is strong, we are stronger, inasmuch as it passes and we remain.  – Henry James

Grief is the most personal burden we as human beings carry, and not all grief is the same. There is no good or bad way to grieve. The way I grieve over my miscarriages is not the same as your grief over the loss of your grandmother. Sometimes I tear up when I see a young mother with a newborn baby. You may not pay much attention to them, or maybe you rejoice at the sight. It’s not that I’m not happy to see a mother and her newborn, but I grieve the loss of my own little ones – I grieve the dream I had of being a mom. I grieve because I never got the chance to say hello or hold them and love them. I thought I would grieve less once I got older. Wrong! Now I grieve because I’ll never have grandchildren.

Shortly after I suffered my fifth miscarriage, my pastor asked me to sing “Jesus Loves Me” at a funeral. Of course I was glad to help, however, my pastor failed to mention one minor detail about the funeral. He forgot to tell me that the one who died was a newborn baby. I had already agreed to sing and could not back out. I had to keep it together and I had to focus. I prayed – oh I really prayed. I could not look over at the small white casket. No way could I let myself “go there”.

When I left the chapel there were many pent-up feelings inside. By the time I got to my car the tears had started and I hoped no one would catch me in the parking lot to talk with me. I got in my car and drove up North toward some old country dirt back roads. The car windows were down, the sunroof was wide open and my radio was blasting! All that noise and dust flying could not mask the pain I felt – it had to come out – I literally screamed, cried, and I had raccoon eyes because my eye make-up was ruined. As I raced down those old dirt roads I released a load of anxiety and hurt and pain. I was running. That’s what I do when I hurt so badly – I run!

Grief is intensely personal. Don’t let anyone tell you how it’s done. Sometimes you just have to speed down some old dirt back roads with the windows down, the sunroof open and the radio blasting!

There is a comforting assurance in the midst of all the pain. My babies, my parents, aunts, uncles and a few pets are safe in heaven. Yes, I think my pets are there too. Don’t debate me about it – just call me crazy and be done with it. The way I figure it, if God can do anything, is it too much for Him to make heaven even better by reuniting us with our favorite 4-legged friends? I think not. Well, the one thing I do know, heaven is a wonderful place and I am at times jealous that my family is there and I’m not. But God’s got more work for me here, I guess.

WITH HIM

On this day, NATIONAL GRIEF AWARENESS DAY, let’s be sensitive to one another and respect each other because we all grieve differently. ❤

Amendment – In 2015, a website was created.  Please stop by and take a look.

www.nationalgriefawarenessday.com