Rest, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

Get Some Rest (And some Takeout)

Lately, when I wake up, before I even open my eyes, my mind forms the words, “Lord, send back-up. I’m pooped.”

He hasn’t.

I’m still waiting.

Today, I got a little aggravated. It isn’t every day that I openly acknowledge running out of steam. It isn’t every day that I cop to being too exhausted to run the world, or my itty-bitty portion of it. I rarely admit to being overwhelmed or unable. I know, silly me. But, since I did cop to it, I figured God would send in the troops. I imagined him proud and waving off his angels to aid me, saying, “Yes, go. She’s finally learned a new word: Help.”

Well, I did learn a new word. So where the heck is the help? Are the angels delayed as they were with Daniel? (Daniel 10:12) Fighting off the kings of Persia? Is Persia still a country?

I started looking around. Maybe I was missing something. You know, one of those cryptic things right in front of you that you never see or saw. There was nothing, and here I need someone to write garden notes, clean out the grill, dig out the old boards around the now-gone cherry tree so the stump grinder can get in there, detail my car, and go buy some groceries–or better yet–cook. It’s been weeks since I had an actual meal. Cereal and microwave popcorn only get you so far. And, I’m way past the 3 weeks Daniel had to wait.

Come on. One angel that can clean or garden or cook? It can be a runty angel. It doesn’t need to be the warrior angels, Gabriel or Michael. Although, let’s face it, they’re probably getting up there in years by now.

I needed insight into why no extra hands were being provided, so I did my daily Bible Study with the intention of getting to the bottom of it. I was in Mark, chapter 6, when I read verse 31.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he [Jesus] said to them [his disciples], “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Jesus’ disciples were overworked, overwhelmed and likely way over all the people that came seeking Jesus. People who didn’t need a specimen tree in their new landscape, but a miracle for a sick and dying child. Loved ones pleading for loved ones, calling to Jesus for a healing touch. In the midst of that enormous need, Jesus pulled his disciples away to eat and rest.

It explained the missing troops. God wasn’t sending troops. He wanted me to pull away, rest and eat. So okay, but, I literally don’t know how to stop working.

There’s a reason for that. I’m not a workaholic. I have trust issues.

I work hourly. That translates to: If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. That’s a tough pill to swallow for a girl that used to have a benefits package, and a vacation didn’t equal less income. Makes for a sweeter vacay. But, I’m not generally a griper. I’m more of a pragmatist. My reasoning is simple. Since I don’t get paid to take time off, I don’t take time off.  Not even Sundays. My friend, Julia, said, “Sounds like a trust issue to me.”

What does does that even mean? Trust issue about what?

Okay, breaking down Mark 6:31 is easy. We can translate this one literally.

  • First, find a quiet place. My bedroom fits the bill.
  • Second, get away from the hoards needing something from you NOW. Turn the phone/IPad/computer off.
  • Third, maybe get some food, an actual meal. Take out!
  • Fourth, hang out with Jesus. He really can restore a weary soul.
  • Fifth, no work. Just rest. Seriously, do something creative or get some sleep.

But, what about the missing paycheck and the to-do list? What about those people who needed Jesus to give life to the dying, cure the lame, restore sight, and stop bleeding?  What about, what about, what about? Also, in Matthew 6:

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

These are Jesus’ words. He wants me to know that my heavenly father knows my needs, and he has the benefits package. And, there’s the trust thing. I want to trust him with my plan (extra troops and back-up or unlimited sick and vacation days (SAS anyone?)), not his plan (go to a quiet place, eat and rest in the midst of the chaos of life). But, since no troops have arrived, and Persia is now Iran, which could really hold up some angels, my options are to have a nervous breakdown, or get some rest, and trust God to provide.

I’m going for the rest.

Phones are off. Computer is going off. Chinese take-out boxes are on the nightstand. And, hopefully, clients needing it all done now are resting, too.

 

 

Preparing for Death and Climbing Mt. Everest

 

Call me morbid, but I have realized recently that death is imminent. One of my sisters made the comment that, if statistics are correct, then one of the four of us will die within the next ten years. While I hope stats are wrong, the possibility is a very real one. I don’t relish it.

And yet, I call myself a Christian.

Why bring that up? I guess I thought being a Christian meant I’d be completely prepared for death, maybe even looking forward to it since I’m a big fan of Jesus. But, if being honest is a virtue, then me being virtuous is me saying, I am so not ready for that. I’m not ready for one of my sisters to die. I’m not ready to die.

When the kids were little, I’d often pray, “Just until they’re both 18, then I can die, Lord.” Now, I want to see my granddaughters get married. My deadline for death shifts bit-by-bit each year as new loved ones come along (the grand-girls) and new memories are made. How does one let go of life when there is so much of it?

That’s the question, isn’t it? How does one let go of life?

By having faith that more life is beyond this one than is imaginable.

After Jesus is resurrected, he is talking with Peter while walking on the beach. He tells Peter that when Peter is old he will go where he does not want to go. Jesus says it to Peter as follows in John 21:18-19:

18 I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.”19 He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, “Follow me.”

Many believe Jesus was referring to the fact that Peter would die a death of crucifixion. (He and his wife, upside down no less.) That makes sense and I cannot fathom such a horrific death, but verse 18 is one that runs through my head lately. As I witness parents of friends experience this very thing–once young and independent, now old and dependent. They rely on children to be understanding and helpful–to dress them, feed them, drive them, and yes, even take them where they may not want to go.

Growing old gracefully is a new thought indeed. Am I up for the challenge?

Some refuse to accept growing old and so they’re out climbing Mt. Everest. Forgive me for this, but boring. Once you get to the top, you have the chore of coming down. And, while it would seem that would be easy part, it actually isn’t. Climbing down a mountain can be as challenging as climbing up one.

And, climbing down feels like the challenge now.

Yes, I still have mountains ahead with plenty of adventures and excitement left, but I also have the responsibility of preparing for death. Read that sentence again.

I have the responsibility of preparing for death.

How will I do that? By remembering, and believing in the most clear and definitive way that more life awaits me there than ever could here. And by there, I do mean heaven.

Yes, this preparation feels like climbing down a mountain to me. Like I’m being led to where I do not want to go.

But, if Scripture is correct, (and I believe it is), then I am not climbing down but going up. Stephen, the first Christian martyr looked up and saw Jesus sitting at the right hand of God, as they were stoning him.  Jesus ascended when he left this earth. Elijah went up in a fiery chariot to heaven. The tower of Babel was built up to reach the heavens. On the last day we will rise up to meet Jesus as he descends down. All of this feels so surreal and unreal as I prepare myself mentally for the death I will most certainly have.

In this journey ahead, I may feel like I am climbing down the mountain as the years click by, but I am actually climbing up, bit-by-bit, not to Mt. Everest, but to heaven. And, once I am there, I thankfully do not have the chore of coming back down.

Christians are No Longer Cool

I left my sheltered world of a stay-at-home mom on the farm, went back to work, and quickly found out that being a Christian is so not cool. I don’t know if it ever was cool, but I’d never gotten flack for being one, until now.

It seems, I’m suspected of judging every single soul on the planet. Like Santa, I’m thought to be sitting at home making a list of who’s naughty and nice, and checking it twice. (I’m not. I’m actually watching NCIS:LA. LL Cool J is my celebrity crush.) I’m told by people, who do not know me or my faith, that I should never judge another person. It just isn’t right.

I looked up the word judge. It means to form an opinion or conclusion about.

Ok, yeah, I’ve done that. From like, preschool on.

But mostly over stupid stuff. Not the big stuff like race, lifestyle, financial status or who I thought should go directly to hell. It was mostly hair, or body (she’s way too skinny), or the way they raised their kids, or their big house, or just whatever. Dumb things. I don’t do that now because, well, I’ve lived long enough to consider my own parenting, hair, weight and weightier subjects.

And, I don’t get riled up over the morals of others because I don’t have a moral leg to stand on, and frankly, I don’t care.

I’ve done little judging, but definitely my fair share of critiquing.

Weirdly, there are people who are judging me for the possibility that I might be judging others. And, yes, I do realize that plenty of Christians are judgmental, but seriously? It’s not like we hold all the cards on that one. Non-Christians are just as quick to judge others, too. It’s a lesson for all of us, not just the Jesus followers.

It’s also assumed that I hate gays, hate Muslims, hate Obama, hate Hilary (well, she is annoying), and anything else left of right. Geez. I’m given too much credit. I rarely consider any of these issues or people. I’m too busy with Cinthia-world, which is not an easy world to run, just FYI.

If not all Muslims are radical extremists, then why are all Christians non-tolerant, judgmental, fundamentalists? Just asking.

Look, there’s a judge, and it’s not me. His name is Jesus, He instructs me to leave the judging up to him because it is too big and burdensome for my shoulders, and besides, I can’t see inside a person’s heart and he can. So, I do. Judging is too hard, too complicated. I haven’t walked where you walk. I haven’t traveled your journey. I don’t live in your skin. Nor you in mine. But, I am a big proponent of being traveling buddies, even the Navy Seals do that. I’d rather skip the judging (me of you or you of me), and see if we can help each other along the way because the way can be hard. And, while we’re traveling, let’s skip the critiquing, too. My dad called it gossip, and I know for a fact, Christian or not, we’re all guilty of that.

 

 

 

BatWoman, Cinthia Milner,

To My Granddaughters: Go Be BatWoman!

My darling grandgirls: Go be BatWoman.

Let’s start with boys. It ain’t about the boys.

We live in an age where women have more freedom than they likely have ever had, and sadly, I’m watching girls (ages 18-21), make idiots of themselves over your uncle. These are college girls that are old enough to know better. I asked one girl if she’d ever heard of feminism. And, I don’t mean the kind of feminism that promotes freedom of sex for everybody and their brother.

I mean feminism where women learn to treat themselves with respect, and to invest in themselves.

I’ll quote my dad (your Biggie) here: “Don’t worry if the boy is going to choose you. Are you going to choose him?”

Your personalities are developing, and I’m watching you become these ultra-cool girls (one day women) with specific characteristics that make you, you. But, I’ve seen it happen a billion times. Around age 12, you’ll disappear, and what will take your place is a boy-crazed girl who will do whatever it takes to get the boys to notice her. That disappearing act, it lasts a really long time. Sometimes a few years, sometimes decades, sometimes forever. And, it’s hard to make a comeback from that. So, fight for yourself. Fight for your quirky, smart, silly, lovely selves to stay present and open to the world.

Don’t disappear.

You’re beautiful, smart, amazing and wonderfully made girls. Go be BatWoman!

That’s enough about the men.

go be batwoman

 

Now for the women in your lives. Pick great women to follow as role models and keep good girlfriends close.

Preferably women who have suffered and survived. Because you will suffer yourselves, that’s a given, and you’ll need the inspiration to keep going. But more importantly, pick women who are humble. Arrogance, pride, haughtiness–the whole diva mentality our culture promotes–it suits no one. Skip the Kardashians, and look to women like your mom, or my mom (Maurme).  Aim to be like them. Aim high.

I chose a woman at my church. She decided she would be silent no more. Women would participate in church. The pastor (male) agreed. They chose a Sunday and she served communion that day. Almost all the men ignored her. They would not receive communion from her–a woman. Twenty years later, I serve communion hand-in-hand with the men in my church, thanks to her. I never forget the road she forged for women in my tiny church.

See, that church is tiny. That community is tiny. That meant her friends and neighbors shunned her. But, she stood up anyway.

It isn’t always on a world level. It’s generally in your small world of friends and family, and girls that is hard.

And since I brought up Maurme, follow her example and cultivate good friends. She had such wonderful friends, and her life was so full because of them. Follow her example, and be a good friend. Choose your friends wisely. Don’t go for popularity, go for sincere. Go for the girl who’s got your back. Go for the girl you can call at 2 a.m. Go for the girl who doesn’t ditch you because she has a date. Go for the girl who would never utter the words, “I don’t have a lot of girlfriends because I really prefer a man’s company.” That girl. That girl is poison. Translated, all that means is, I like to flirt with men and prefer their attentions over trying to be a real friend. Avoid her. She’s the one who will seduce your boyfriend or husband. If you find a real friend, be a real friend to her. Be known for being a good friend.

You will need your girlfriends. Keep them close. Keep each other close. Never abandon your sisters.

go be batwoman

Find your passion.

Find something you love, and let that be your work. God created us for work. God gave us talents and skills. So, discover your’s, develop them, and use them. And, do not let dream-dashers destroy your dreams. There are so many dream-dashers in the world. Mostly, they’re people whose own dreams were dashed, and so now, they dash other’s dreams. Just skip telling those people anything about your dreams. You’ll end up second-guessing yourself. Instead surround yourself with cheerleaders. And, don’t forget to be a cheerleader for somebody. There is a center in the universe, and as much as you are the center of my universe, you are not the center of THE universe. Remember that.

You have an obligation that is hand-in-hand with your dreams. To help others.

There is a world out there, with women who don’t have what you have. They can’t study, drive, vote, own property, they are property. Remember while pursuing your dreams to find a way to help them pursue their’s.

And by the way, it’s okay to fail at your dreams, but it is not okay to never try.

Go be BatWoman.

Okay, I did a little man bashing, but really let’s do some real talk about men.

Let’s talk about the ones who are already a part of your life. How fortunate are you to have your dad? He adores you. He will protect you and guide you. Let him while he can. And, don’t forget the other men who love you, and will always be there to support you. Your uncles, your grandpas. Our society likes to make men look pretty stupid. Any sitcom will teach you that, but the men in your lives are awesome. You’ve been blessed with some of the best. Call on them for help when you need it. Anything from fixing your car, to making you laugh. They love you so dearly.

And then, when and if you’re ready for a relationship, remember how they treated you and expect no less.

BatWoman, Uncle and Niece, Cinthia Milner

Uncle and Niece

Finally, hold tight to Jesus. People will tell you he’s not real. But, your YaYa has been holding tight to him since she was 32, and she knows, he is real. Listen, sweeties. Life won’t be all candy and sisters, and Frozen and Star Wars and all the things you love. You will suffer and be broken.

Remember this, my darlings, your YaYa prayed for that very day when your suffering comes. She prayed that you would stand firm, and stand up under it. She prayed for that day while you were still in your Mama’s womb. Not that you would be protected from suffering, but that you would be fierce under it. You have strength you do not yet know about it, but it is there. Access it, and then give the glory to God. He has promised never to leave you, never to forsake you. Believe it.

Now go be BatWoman.

YaYa

 

cinthia milner transplanted and still blooming justbow

#JustBow

I’ve been attending a somewhat unusual Bible Study recently (which I’ll describe in next week’s post).  We worked through Jesus’ parables in the fall, and then finished up with the Christmas story this week. Here’s what we learned from our study together (about 15 of us). #JustBow

I didn’t come up with the clever #hashtag idea. A guy in our group did. But it represents the group consensus. Many in our group had never gotten on their knees before. Not for prayer or worship. Though they believed, they weren’t kneel-ers.

I am a kneel-er during my prayer time (though not always). I am one to get on my knees to petition God especially when I am desperate, which is most of the time. Scripture instructs us to petition God, to ask him for what we need, knowing that he hears us, and will respond.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 #JustBow

But, do you see the key word in those verses? Peace. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds. That’s the answer to the prayer, really. We get on our knees, we petition for our troubles, and we rise in peace. God may answer our petitions in all sorts of ways, giving us jobs, loved ones, health, or not–as he deems best–but the first answer to our prayer is peace. Not worldly peace. but God’s peace. Worldly peace is the lack of conflict. God’s peace is peace in the conflict.

But, that is only the beginning of kneeling. Of #JustBow.

The second part, the part I’ve learned through my Tuesday night Bible Study, is bowing in reverence, and in awe with no petition on my lips. No words at all. So no pouring out of my heart, though many tears are shed in that position, but just quiet bowing before God. Scripture says that the day is coming when every knee will bow in praise and honor of Jesus, even those who don’t want too will.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11 #JustBow

That verse speaks of a future day, but I wonder if it doesn’t speak of a present day too. At least my fellow Bible Study mates might concur, as each of us slowly moves from a position of pride or control or even rebellion to one of submission and acknowledgment. Are we prophesying this day or are we already there?

I’m at a time in my life when being anxious for nothing is truly impossible. It would be easier to list what I am not anxious about. That list would have about two things on it. The anxious list has so many it’s hard to keep up. And, there are no worldly answers to my situation. My brain cannot figure things out. A therapist isn’t going to get me through this particular valley. Work isn’t the answer. Manipulation is useless. But I can bow. And, when I do, peace is waiting there. Every single time.

I get out of my bed, or out of my chair, and onto my knees or flat on my face, and I stay there. And, when I stand up, I stand taller, more confident, clearer in my thinking, less afraid. That’s a big one, isn’t it? Less afraid? Because there is no way to live in this world and not be afraid. If this world is all we have, then we really have nothing, and fear reigns. But God gives us another verse, one about perfect love.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 #JustBow

To bow is to be perfected in love. Not your ability to love, but your ability to be loved by God. You kneel expecting, really, what is deserved, a punishment. You rise, fully loved, fully redeemed, fully at peace. #JustBow

 

"pouring rain, brothers with umbrellas"

Pondering the Past in the Pouring Rain

It is pouring rain and I have spent the day pondering the past. I would add that I have spent the day curled up in my bed, pjs on, drifting in and out of sleep, while I reflected and considered. It is good practice. I recommend it.

My backyard is a puddle. The Weather Channel is now calling for flash flood watches, and staying indoors seemed the most profitable thing to do, and so I have. I have given myself the delightful, but unusual for me, rare treat of doing absolutely nothing all day. The animals were thrilled. Their owner was home and rarity of rarities, she was still. The cat, or Little Kitty, as she is called, went as far down under the covers as she could go and wrapped herself around my feet and slept. Aggie, the dog, curled into a tight ball and crammed herself against me, sleeping the day away.

I allowed myself the time to think.

I wondered this: Do I see my life correctly? Can I see my life correctly? Could it be that God, who calls things that were not into being (Romans 4:17), looks down upon my life and sees something I do not, and cannot?

What does God see when he sees me?

  • I see that I did not stay to my budget this month.
  • I see that I did not hold my tongue when I promised myself I would.
  • I see that I forgot to call my perfect grandchildren because I got busy with mundane tasks.
  • I see that I still do not have a successful career.
  • I see that I have not mopped the kitchen floor.
  • I see that I still did not get the car cleaned out.
  • I see that it is Sunday night and Monday looms, and there is still so much to be done, and I am typing away at a blog that has 15 readers. Seriously?

And that is the small stuff. Early this morning, knees bent, head bowed, the question is prayed, “Lord, how could you love someone like me?”

Early to bed. Early to rise. Work like hell: fertilize. (Emily Whaley) is my motto more than not. I look for meaning and comfort, and believe that if I just work hard enough, I can right wrongs. If I figure out a way to get life “right” now, then my past–those places and memories I hate to remember but cannot seem to forget–will be redeemed, by me. Oops. That is the very place my thinking takes a quirky turn. I cannot work that hard. No, I need not work that hard.

Those places, those memories, those very things I want to strangle myself over while somehow setting them right, have been redeemed in Jesus.

How do I keep forgetting that?

What does God see when he sees me? Jesus.

That means, this day spent sleeping in the rain, is exactly okay. The work I tirelessly strive to do is the work Christ has already done. I can put my pjs on, roll over and let it rain.

 

 

Because Evidently, I Need Some Friends

I started a women’s Wednesday night class at church. I didn’t want too, but, well, EVERYONE says I need some friends. I don’t know what to think about that.

(A side note here, because my female friends that live far away from me–or at least far enough away–well be like, what? I thought we were friends. We are darlings, we are.  But when I moved 2 years ago, I moved to a town where I knew no one, and I still don’t. Hence the “go make friends from family.”)

So, I went, feeling a bit “ulterior motive-ish,” and scanning the room for potential candidates.

When the teacher did her icebreaker, and went person-to-person asking why we joined the leadership class, I came pretty darn close to saying, “Because evidently, I need some friends.” That seemed a bit TMI right off the bat, and possibly frightening for the ladies, so I mumbled something–blah, blah, blah–about leadership, while continuing my scan of possible new friends. I figure if I leave the class friendless, my family, and my one friend will kill me. They’re thinking I’m high maintenance at the moment. I’m thinking I’m high maintenance at the moment too, but hey, I’m not stressing over it. They are.

But, bonus! The class is interesting.

We started with this acronym VVMG.

  • Visions
  • Values
  • Mission
  • Goals

What’s your vision for your life (or ministry in this case)?
What do you value?
What is your mission in life?
What goals do you need to set to accomplish that mission?

I’ve been given the mission of finding a friend because my family values their evenings, and are tired of me interrupting them with the billionth phone call for a chat. The goal is simple: Pick a friend and don’t run her off.

I  learned that leaders should have these qualities: Honesty, integrity, purity (of motive and more) , and an integrated personality with an integrated life. This one was solid gold for me. Simply put, being the same person all the time. No chameleons or charlatans. The person we are becoming is the person we always are. It’s called authenticity. I have no idea if God wants to use me in a leadership role. I have little vision for my life beyond doing what’s next, and the only thing I value right now is an income. But, I desire to be authentic.

Jesus was authentic. He was a fully integrated human being. The only one ever, because he was perfect. Not perfect like a perfectionist (who are just annoying), but perfect in his humanity. He did not have to reconcile different aspects of himself or have some space to “find himself.” He simply was, is and always will be. If I have any vision at all, if I value anything, or have a goal, it is simply, to be.

I a mom, a writer, a gardener, a daughter, a sister, a horticulturist, (and evidently I need to be a friend soon) but mostly, I am Cinthia. It makes sense that you must start there in leadership, with just yourself and no pretense. I imagine it’s a good starting point for making friends, too.

 

 

All Things Material/A Crisis Of Faith

We’ve reached the sad part of packing up Mom’s house. I don’t get to participate as much because I lost two weeks of work when Mom passed away, and now there isn’t the luxury to lose more. I must trust my sisters to pack and sort, and keep or throw away.

It is hard. I would love to go through her things one last time. As painful as it is to box away her things, it is just as painful not too. What would I discover? What would I learn about the last days of her life? The last years? But life dictates, and so does work. Moving from South Turkey Creek prepared me for this moment. I gave away many memories all wrapped up in material things because of the downsizing I did, and the time constraints on moving. I did not have the leisure to sift through each drawer or box-stuffed children’s drawings, though I wanted too. It’s something we all have to face at some point—this reduction of life.

If I ever needed my faith, it’s now. Yet, I will admit to a crisis of faith. I ask the Lord, “Precisely WHERE is my mother?”

I’m told because she died so suddenly, and so unexpectedly, that the processing of her death is harder. I can attest to the truth of that. When Daddy died, I wasn’t happy, but I was prepared. I got to say good-bye, have those conversations and such. I hated his suffering, but the length of his illness allowed him time to prepare, too. He was given sweet time to grieve with us.

There is a quality of vanishing to Mom’s death that there wasn’t with Dad’s. Here one day, and literally gone the next. Talk about life being fragile. And, truly, from the woman who loves the Lord deeply, I am wondering if I bought into a load of hooey. Is what I believe true? Is my mother with Jesus? Did he personally come to her, and take her to her eternal home? Or did she just vanish?

I am astonished at my questions. But, here they are.

My oldest sister could not bear the thought of a yard sale. All those people picking through her mother’s things, and taking them with her. No matter how small or trivial, they were her’s. The process isn’t about material things, it is about life. The life she built in her small mother-in-law house. The life I am very proud of her for accomplishing. It is no small feat to build a life. It takes hard work, perseverance, courage.

But cleaning out her house removes her hard work and wipes the slate of her life clean. She is no more, and her home was our home (my sisters and I) and so where is home now? I look at my three sisters and think, I better be nice to them. They’re all I’ve got now. I better stop with the “who’s right, who’s wrong” mess and just get on with the business of being their sister. What if they got together and voted me out? Well, they can’t. Votes are unanimous.

In case you’re stuck on the crisis of faith statement, let me say, that I get on my knees, and I ask God these questions. I work through it with him, not without him, and hopefully when he gets me to other side of it, I will have a story to tell. About his faithfulness, his grace, his mercy, his provision, his love.

I read once that a group of Jews at Auschwitz decided to put God on trial. There is some debate on whether or not the story is true, but it is told that they held a mock trial and found God guilty of neglect, I suppose. Scripture does, after all, refer to him as Father. Millions of Jews were being slaughtered every day. Where was the heck was he? (I am famous for saying, well, he did let John the Baptist get his head chopped off.) After their judgement, they prayed and worshiped him. They found him guilty one minute, and worshiped him the next. Call me crazy, but I find great comfort in that.

 

 

adulterous woman

The Thing About the Adulterous Woman

So, the thing about the adulterous woman in John chapter 8 is this: she did break the law. She actually did. She was caught red-handed (and yes, there is much to be said about that), but no matter how she was caught, possibly set-up, seduced or used, she did break the law.

Here, read it for yourself.

To Throw the Stone

1-2 Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.

3-6 The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

6-8 Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.

9-10 Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”

11 “No one, Master.”

“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”

Right there it is. She was busted. She had no wiggle room. We can (probably) safely assume how the catching part played out. The text says that the men were trying to incriminate Jesus with their questions. Looking for a wrong word or wrong move so they could toss him in jail, or just discredit him. If I were a betting woman, I’d bet they set her up so they could then set Jesus up. But the text doesn’t say, so assume is all we can do.

But truly, who doesn’t love that ending?

Couldn’t have been better if I’d written it myself. Finally, something in Scripture that ends just like I want it too. Those mean men walking off with their heads hanging. The crowds thinning because there’d be no drama that morning. And, the adulterous woman alone with Jesus, hearing words that must have made her heart soar, “Neither do I condemn you.” Perfection. Call it wrap and go home.

Except. She, the adulterous woman, did break the law.

I am not a legalistic person but I am quite literal. I want to hang out with Jesus just a bit longer–after she has left with her freedom and dignity restored–and ask him, but what about the law? Did you actually answer the question?

Don’t misunderstand, I have compassion on this woman, forever referred to as the adulterous woman. I have compassion on her because I am her. I could lock arms with her and say, “Stone us both. She is my sister in crime.”

And, I get Jesus stating the obvious. If you any of you be her judge, then step on up.

But, if you have my brain, then the thing you want to be sure of is that the pronouncement Jesus made over her (over me too, your sins are forgiven) is the real deal. I mean, are those men coming back? Does the verdict stand if the punishment is not met? That law was the very law God gave to Moses in the desert, hence an immutable law. Can Jesus, yes even Jesus, speak mercy over it and thus change it?

The words, “The law says,” would keep me up at night. Because if the law is immutable, the crime punishable by death, and no one died, then what? Is it truly a get-out-of-jail-free-card?

I told you I was literal.

If I am understanding the calendar of the day, and times and all that, Jesus was about six months from Passover. Six months from his conversation with the adulterous woman, he would hang on a cross and die the death she didn’t that day. That’s the answer to their question. He would die, not her. And, her crime–regardless of the screamingly unfair events leading up to it that make us want to protest for her freedom–her crime would be paid for by Jesus himself. The law stood when Jesus stood up to address those harassing him. Her Freedom = His Death. And so does mine.

Now, go, and sin no more.

In Defense of Beth Moore, transplanted and still blooming, cinthia milner

In Defense of Beth Moore (and a few other Bible Teachers)

Today, I was encouraged by something Beth Moore wrote. Then I forgot what it was (within like five minutes, geez) so I googled her to see if I could find that statement again. Dear Jesus. People do not like that woman. Or, at least, some don’t. Some probably like her a bit too much judging by their response to those who don’t like her. This was all blog talk. Theology this and that. Big hair this and that. Texas this and that. Southern this and that. Women this and that. She gave up her son…what you’re really going to go there? Turns out Christianity Today isn’t too big on her (well, since they don’t like her!), and some woman in Wisconsin broke up with her.

I will pause here to give thanks to the Lord that He did not see fit to make me Beth Moore. I would kill a couple of people. Or, I’d send my big Texan husband to kill them.

At any rate, I did find Beth Moore’s statement. It was Faith can be work. Love can be labor. And, hope can get long. Amen, Sister.

Some of her haters are theologians who specialize in discrediting everyone but themselves. I’ve done some of her studies, just like I’ve done Bible Study Fellowship and Kay Arthur and Anne Graham Lotz and Kelly Minter and well, all sorts of studies, including Sunday School lessons and extensive note taking during my pastor’s sermons. And while none of them have turned me into a Biblical know-it-all, all of them have encouraged me along the way, which is huge because the way has been hard. Very hard. And, I could use some encouraging. And, that seems to be the real talent of Bible teachers in my life, to point me back to Christ, and his faithfulness, and to encourage me on my journey.

Every year I go with my precious roommate from college to Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove and spend the weekend being taught by Anne Graham Lotz. I’ll be honest. I don’t really remember what she teaches me. But, I come away encouraged, equipped, and believing that I know a God who cares about me. Read that again. I come away knowing that I know a God who cares about me.

That’s what I need to be taught again and again–the Lord Loves Me.

Sometimes, I wonder why, when doing so many Bible studies, that I can’t remember half of what I learned. I think it’s because I am not there to learn something just to make me Bible-smart. I am truly desperate for God. I am listening, not for crazy theological insights, but for God himself to tell me, I love you Cinthia, and I have not forgotten you. I’ll fill in any blank I’m asked too if the Lord will whisper that in my ear.

You see, Jesus better be real, or I am up the proverbial creek. I need the Lord. I need him to show up each day because I am terrified of life without him in it. Sometimes I wonder if I am whacked out to believe in someone I have never seen. And, to be so dependent on that someone. Literally, Jesus is first in my life and my heart not because I am a spiritual guru, but because there is no one or nothing else to compete. I have no husband, or enormous savings account–the two things that would likely keep me pretty independent. Consequences and circumstances have played out that I do life alone, mostly, and that is pretty scary. And, no before you go there, that does not make me prey for Bible teachers. I am pretty discerning and when I hear something that just sounds off, I know it. I don’t agree with every teacher or preacher. I don’t have too for them to encourage me, and remind me that I am loved and remembered by God. I need the reminder as much as I need Nicole C. Mullen, singing at the top of her lungs, that Jesus will move heaven and earth to come rescue me when I call. I hope he moves heaven and earth because I can’t.

Today, my pastor talked about trials and suffering, and how we best prepare for them because we will have them. He had us in 1 Peter. And, I don’t remember everything the man said, but I know that, after the sermon, I felt God had spoken to my heart. That he had reminded me, come the inevitable suffering and heartache, that he was there. And boy, do I need to hear that because while Beth Moore may not have it all right, she’s got one thing right. Faith can feel like work, love can be laborious, and hope seem pretty dang long. And, I need the encouragement. So, thanks for taking the time, Beth Moore, to encourage me. It is appreciated.