Rubber meets the Road

(Caution:  Much of what I say and the subjects I address here may be upsetting. )

Last night I got very angry with Jesus.  My neighbor has been in the hospital for over a week.  He had had surgery that went well but he did not come out of the surgery as expected.  The symptoms indicated a post-operative stroke.  I sat with his wife for a long time; we discussed possible scenarios for the future, and we looked at the options she had with each scenario so that she would know that she would survive regardless the outcome.  I asked her what she wanted to happen.  She said she wanted her husband back the way he was.  So we prayed for that.

After a CT scan it was determined that he had not suffered a stroke, did not have brain damage, was going through withdrawal from habitual alcohol and tobacco use and was expected to improve.  We rejoiced; we had received an answer to our prayers in the affirmative.

Yesterday, it was determined that he has dementia.

I was not happy.  I felt betrayed.  My ‘old’ mind was thinking that we had not used the right words: she had said “the way he was;” in fact, she had suspected dementia before his surgery.  My ‘old’ mind was blaming my own pride because I was so happy that my praying with her had ‘worked.’  on and  on…  I know there are readers who will say we “did it wrong,” but I don’t buy that.  The God I love is not a legalistic trickster.  The God I love would not trip us up over semantics and terminology.  And I was angry with Jesus because I did not understand why He would “pull a stunt like this.”  What good would come of my encouraging a neighbor to pray, our getting our hopes up when we had the answer to our prayers, and then have it turned inside out.

As I fixed my supper, I had a ‘come to Jesus’ talk with Jesus.  I let Him know what I thought about all of the arguments coming up from my ‘old’ mind.  I accused Him of allowing the evil one to get at us.  I pulled no punches.  I was angry.

Now, that was not all that was going on last night.  My phone has been maliciously hacked and manipulated and it is not good.  I felt unprotected and in danger and that’s the frame of mind I was in when I went to sleep.  Years ago, I lost my fear of death…even if it meant eternity separated from God.  When I was suicidal and lost that fear of death, I was on a very slippery slope.  I am no longer suicidal but neither do I fear death…regardless my eternal state.

The last thing I did before falling asleep was read a post by a friend which included the line from scripture: “On that day you will not question me about anything.”

Now, I realize, as Job did, that I, in my finite understanding, can not fathom the infinite Mind of God.  I am fully aware of God’s vehemence when he ‘sat Job down.’  But I was not afraid.  I am fully aware that the proper posture is on my knees and in fear of God.  But my life was over a year ago…and a few times before that.  One could argue that I am on borrowed time.  Yet, I slept …accepting the possibility that I may not wake up.

Several posts back, I wrote about being aware of songs in my head and the insights I gain when I listen to the lyrics.  Honestly, these are not songs I have heard recently, nor do I always know the lyrics before I look them up.  This morning I woke with an old Chicago pop song in my head.  The words I heard when I first became aware of it were, “Hold me now.  It’s hard for me to say I’m sorry…”

Hold me now
It’s hard for me to say I’m sorry
I just want you to know
Hold me now
I really want to tell you I’m sorry
I could never let you goAnd after all that we’ve been through
I will make it up to you
I promise you

And after all that’s been said and done
You’re just a part of me I can’t let go

I can’t let go.

Is that the Holy Spirit praying to the Father God on my behalf?  Are those words from Jesus to me?   I don’t know.  I’ll have to sit with it for a while. I’m tired…like I’ve been standing out in the wind too long.  I feel as if I am at a resigned state of peace….like I’ve given up striving so much.  I am being “still,” as a recent blogger wrote about.

Back before we prayed, I pointed out to my neighbor’s wife that she was at a crossroads.  Well, now I am at a crossroads.  Because of the potentially malicious manipulation of my cell phone, as well as comments and altercations with other bloggers, I may back off for a while.  I don’t doubt Jesus is still talking to me; it’s like the morning after a big fight with a loved one…you quietly hug and make up…and then you move forward, together.

Blessings to you all and may God’s peace be with you.

The image above was taken by Marc Dalio and is available through Getty Images.  I hope they don’t mind my borrowing it.  See http://media.gettyimages.com/photos/westurn-picture-id503094053

Carolina Pride

It hasn’t been easy being raised in the Carolinas…but it is getting better.  There is so much stigma associated with both North and South Carolina and so few people are willing to look below the historical or political surface.  I have lived in both North and South Carolina 99% of my life and I can tell you, I have found much to be proud of.

Until my recent move, I lived in Western North Carolina for 35 years.  Those who don’t know better, make a generalized assessment and say I lived in Appalachia.  Whether that is geographically accurate or not, is not my concern; my concern has to do with the fact that most people who don’t know better, also think the term Appalachian is synonymous (or interchangeable) with ignorant, being backwards, or poorly educated.

I was born, raised, and educated in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.  The people who don’t know better, consider Charleston to be the birthplace of slavery and the Civil War.

Trust me, it is not easy being from states formerly represented by Strom Thurman, Jesse Helms, John Edwards, and even some lesser-known, local scoundrels.  We’ve had flag issues, scandals, corruption, and, yes, ignorance.  I recall years in a row when South Carolina seemed to come in 51st in the list of SAT scores, by state.

By the way, I just did an internet search on the term Bible Belt, and according to Liberapedia, “The Bible Belt is the part of the United States where strict fundamentalist Christianity dominates life (Also known as the deep south).”  Excuse me?!?  I will not get side-tracked by how much is wrong with that definition.

The people of North and South Carolina have had to fight, tooth and nail, for respect.  Even the beloved inspirational speaker Dabo Swinney remarked that, even after being totally undefeated, the Clemson Tigers were still considered ‘underdogs,’ unknown, and unrecognized as worthy opponents.

So, while I am on the subject, has anyone noticed how the Carolinas are, and have been, a seat of Athletic Excellence?!?!  Let’s look at the record.  Basketball:  Duke (spit) and, yes, Duke is in North Carolina, right down the street from (fanfare, please) The University of North Carolina (GO HEELS !!!);  Football:  South Carolina (spit, but not too shabby), North Carolina (again, a very strong performance), and CLEMSON.  My orange heart pounds proudly.  Even The Citadel made me proud this year.  And, now, the Carolina Panthers are going to Super Bowl 50.  I’m not much into professional sports, but, hey, I am proud!  Take notice, you who are ignorant; the Carolinas are an athletic force to be contended with.

And we have so much more to be proud of.  Let’s start with Appalachia, again;  The people in the back ‘hollars’ of the mountains of Western North Carolina have a sense of music, poetry, and wisdom that goes unrivaled, in my opinion, (and my opinion counts because this is my blog.)  In Charleston, grace trumped evil in the actions of the blessed souls of Mother Emmanuel AME Church, last summer.  And the flag did come down for the right reasons.

Furthermore, we have beauty, culture, and gentility.  Get off of the interstates (and beyond the ‘Title Loan District’ of Travelers Rest) and you will find breathtaking beauty:  farms, forests, waterfalls, swamps, mountain ranges, ocean shores, lakes, and, yes, many many churches.  Even our interstates often present amazing vistas.  Influential artists, writers, musicians, philosophers, scientists, educators, doctors,… The Carolinas have raised them all.  Even today, Carolinians are known for their good manners, hospitality, and propriety.

You may think what I have said is baloney, especially if I count you among the ignorant, but be enlightened; the Carolinas are a wonderful place, held graciously in the hand of God, striving to do better, look better, and be better…than everywhere else.

Again, to quote Mr. Swinney, I’m ALL IN.

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In the Name of the Father…

If a child is born to Episcopalian parents and baptized in the Episcopal Church, that child is called a “Cradle Episcopalian,” an elite group, I assure you.  I, however, am not a cradle Episcopalian and there are a few Episcopalian traits I struggle with.  However, there is one thing Episcopalians do that I love.  Episcopalians cross themselves at every appropriate opportunity.  By making the sign of the cross, from head to heart and across the chest, they are blessing themselves or something else in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

I have always loved making the sign of the cross and blessing others…and things…and situations.  I have been assured by a priest that since I am not supposing to be blessing as if I am a priest, that God would not hold this practice against me.

There is a business establishment that I pass every time I travel highway 25 from Asheville to Anderson or back.  This place specializes in “Southern Merchandise.”  I will tell you now that I believe symbols are merely symbols and flags are merely pieces of cloth.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions.  And Jesus never said, “Thou shalt not have flags.”  But Jesus did say, “Thou shalt not Hate,” or more specifically, “Thou shalt Love.”

It was not just a good idea or a suggestion; It was a command.  “Thou shalt Love your fellow man.” Period.  It was second only to the Great command: “Thou shalt love God.”  Period.

So, every time I pass this establishment, I bless it with the sign of the cross.  I am not accusing anyone of anything.  But, just in case there are words or thoughts or spirits of hate within those walls, I bless the place, asking Jesus to infuse the place with His love…and kick out any negative or evil influences.  I bless the proprietors, patrons, and their families with a prayer that they will release whatever fear, hate, resentment, or animosity they may have with anyone and that it be replaced with love, compassion, concern, and goodwill.  I pray that each piece of cloth be accompanied with an angel that goes home with it to assist the Holy Spirit in spreading God’s love…even as it flies from the back of a 1971 Ford F-150.

Now, every time you see one of those pieces of cloth, smile, knowing that, unbeknownst to the owner, that it may be spreading the influence of the Holy Spirit, spreading good will to all men.

The Lord be with you…

(If you would like to comment, click on the title of the article and scroll to the bottom.  You do not have to ‘like’ the article; you may say what you like, anonymously.  Of course, if what you say is too offensive, it may not appear here.  Remember, God don’t like ugly.)

 

It’s a Girl !

I feel like I’ve been in labor for 3 months, ever since I lost my job and decided to leave it all behind and start a new life.  Well, it’s done.  I am delivered!  All of my valued possessions, including Stella and Tubbs, have been moved here to 5022, and now I can rest and recover.  Of course, there is still much to be done involving unpacking, organizing, and storing.  But like 4am feedings and changing dirty diapers, it’s exhausting but it doesn’t kill you.  Plus, the end result is well worth it.

You will be getting to know my family, my neighbors, my art, and my thoughts.  No longer the “bitter blogger,” I am happy as a clam and hope to bring happiness to you.  Blessings.

(If you would like to comment, click on the title of the article and scroll to the bottom.  You do not have to ‘like’ the article; you may say what you like, anonymously.  Of course, if what you say is too offensive, it may not appear here.  Remember, God don’t like ugly.)