Saturday, November 28, 2015


Hi. My name is Shirley, and I am an inconsiderate person.

I really wish there were Inconsiderate Anonymous meetings. Alcoholics have meetings and mentors to help them with their problem, so why can't we jerks have our own meetings? God knows, we sure need the help!

I'm afraid there are other disrespectful people in this world that probably wouldn't attend the meetings. However, I believe there are a ton of us out here that really desire to get over this malady and become civil and gracious, even to the other thoughtless boobs out there in the populous.

Families suffer the most when there are ill-mannered folks within its nucleus, and holidays can be disastrous. I have to admit that I just might be responsible for some discord at times. Maybe. Once or twice. It almost always happens when I think someone has been rude. So, I become rude. And where does this get us? Oh, for shame! It hurts others. It hurts those who are kind and polite. It hurts the gracious ones who have the manners to ignore the slights, but suffer through the outbursts or uncivil behaviors around them. Children and teens may not even comprehend what is happening, but they are aware of some underlying misfunction.

I am guilty! And I hate it every time it happens! I promise God and others and myself that I will do better. Perhaps I do better for a while. But, self, MY self will come back eventually and try to claim that my uncivil reaction to his rudeness is warranted.

God, please help me get over myself. Please help me to remember that my behavior proves nothing to the other ill-mannered culprit. It only hurts the innocent, the ones we both love so much. And, that is the best reason in the world to stop being a jerk.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

His Mercy Humbles Me

I have been reading a book by John Eldridge, The Journey of Desire, and in one chapter, The Divine Thwarter, I am feeling challenged about the disappointment I have felt over the last few years. 

I came to Christ later in life than many. I had lived a life of physical pleasures and addictions, wanting only to please myself. I had Jesus compartmentalized in a corner of my mind. I knew who He was, and I was baptized at age eleven. As long as I believed in my head that He was the Son of God, I felt I was good. So, I lived my life the way I desired, trying to make believe I was happy, but knowing that I was completely miserable with the choices I had made for my life over the years, and I was angry most of the time.

Then, at age thirty-seven, I accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord of my life, and everything changed. My passion was to serve Him and worship Him, to honor Him in any way that He asked me to do. He asked me to leave my career to be home with my teenagers who were struggling. I willing did that, though it almost cost my marriage because it cut our family income in half. I stayed with an abusive husband because God told me to. I lost every friend I had, but I made many, many new ones to encourage me in my new life. He asked. I was faithful. And I grew spiritually through hearing and reading His word.

In 2002 things changed again. I had a botched surgery that had me bedridden for over six months. It took years of more surgeries to try to correct the problem, but I have never been able to recover fully. More surgeries for other problems have incapacitated me more and more, and being unable to be ambulatory took its toll over the last thirteen years. I now walk with a cane much of the time. I am overweight, and I cannot exercise. My body has replacement parts, I live on multiple medications, and I am in pain continually.

I am 67 years old with an 85 year old body. Yes. I do feel sorry for myself. There are places that I would love to serve Him, but it is no longer possible. I have to say "no" when I'm asked. I am misunderstood. It seems now that the only ministry I can be involved in is one that is from home, with my phone or in prayer. Disappointed? Yes, I am. I feel as if I have been thwarted, and I don't understand why God has allowed it because I came to Him so late, and I have so much desire to do so much more.

God spoke to me this morning. He said, "You came to Me late, you said it yourself. You wasted 37 years on pleasing yourself instead of Me. You put substances in your body that weren't good for you. You developed unhealthy addictions. You sat on your throne all those years and hardly gave Me a thought. And now you feel sorry for yourself and disappointed? You want Me to rescue you from the harm you did to yourself? I am God! I will do as I please, and I choose not to rescue you this time as I did so many times before you accepted My Son. Now you will serve Me as I choose, and you must choose to serve Me with gladness and patience in your humbled state. I love you, and I have always been merciful to you. That won't ever stop."

It seems harsh? No. It is truly a mercy that I didn't die many times. He has been good to me when I wasn't even His friend. I will be thankful. I will get over being disappointed. I will get over being jealous of those who can serve Him in the ways that I always wanted to. Maybe not today, but I will get over it. I know He will help me, but it's my turn to be merciful to myself.

Friday, November 6, 2015

I'm the Real Live Grinch You've Heard Them Tell About

I'm a grinch when it comes to Christmas, and I am totally unashamed to be called one by those who love Christmas. I'm not the kind of grinch that goes around stealing little kids' presents or candy. I don't paint myself green or spike my hair to look more recognizable. I just don't like Christmas. I don't think I'm mean, and I try to keep my feelings quiet, though I do have to admit I've never been very successful in keeping quiet about anything. There you have it. But, before you begin to hate me for being a grinch, please let me explain my side of it, at least.

One of my fondest memories of Christmas is 1965 when I was seventeen. I had summer and after school jobs, so I had my own hard earned money to spend on my parents. I lived in a small town with the county court house and main street that you see in pictures. That Christmas memory is of walking the sidewalks of that main street. The snow was falling and crunching under each step. As I visited each shop, the sun was setting. Pay attention and you'll hear the Silver Bells ringing.

My hometown, Falls City, Nebraska as painted by
native John P. Falter in 1946 for Saturday Evening Post
Time warp to 2015 and today's Christmas shopper. The malls and the "super centers" are overflowing with people in a hurry, angry people. Some have walked for so long that their feet are throbbing, their backs are aching. They've had it with the other rude shoppers and the store clerks who are either just as rude or else non-existent. Shoppers are grabbing anything that looks remotely appropriate for their task, and cheap enough to pretend it will fit in this year's budget. But, frankly, the "so-called budget" was left behind long ago. And the credit card debt keeps rising higher and higher. Let's not talk about the parking situation, okay?

Have you taken a look at the houses up and down your suburban block after 7 p.m.? Or maybe you've been carefully watching so as not to fall behind the Smith's across the street with your decorating. They have maps from space that show how brightly lit U.S. cities are at Christmas time. Year after year the Smith's increase their strings of icicle lights by five strings. They add another Santa Claus somewhere on the lawn and two more lighted snowmen. The rest of the block sees the additions, and the next day you'll see an increase of the electric bills for every house in sight. Make way, now, for the fifty cars per hour strolling leisurely through the neighborhood, blocking local traffic, and totally disrupting the theme of "Peace on Earth". The cars are simply following all the lighted stars perched on top of all the houses in the community. 

Inside those beautifully decorated houses Dad and Mom are scratching their heads and wondering why they hadn't been more diligent about paying off last year's Christmas bills. Little Johnny and Susie are in the living room arguing over who's going to get the biggest and most expensive presents this year, and still complaining about the handmade gifts that grandma made for them last year. And she actually had the nerve to buy them some clothes!

I'm seeing all the negative, aren't I? But, that's what I see when I see Christmas hovering near. Maybe it's my age, but I want Christmas to be about Jesus again. I want to see the innocence of Norman Rockwell paintings, and Mom and Dad actually buying just ONE very inexpensive fun toy. I want to see them give their extra money where the money is so scarce that the kids don't get a Christmas ham or a toy. I'd rather see the kids in the suburbs sprawled around the room with their family, reading the Christmas story, laughing and talking, playing games with grandpa. I'd rather hear kids tell me what they're giving as gifts rather than what they want to get. I wish Christmas to be about Jesus again.

So, looks like I'm gonna continue to be a grinch about Christmas. I'm not very confident about all this changing soon, and I just don't feel much like celebrating what Christmas has become. I'm trying to give gifts to my family off and on during the year and not be extravagant, as I have in the past, with my grandchildren who are thankfully not very materialistic. My Father is teaching me what and who is important. My family is rich when compared with most in this world. 

Shame on us for wanting more. But, we do. It's the American way. I want to do what little bit I can do to make my little corner of the world different. And, the only way that I believe we can change our materialism is to change our hearts. And, the only One who can change our hearts is Jesus. That's why I want to see Jesus put back in Christmas again.