biscuit with butter

Tell the Truth and Let the Lord Love You.

Tell the truth and let the Lord love you.

That should be the title of a book. Or a movie. Or my life. Because if you tell the truth, you’re probably going to irritate someone, so you’ll need the Lord to love you.

I didn’t come up with the saying. I got it secondhand. From a friend’s friend. I texted my friend today to ask her if she was going to church. She texted back that she was going to tell the truth and let the Lord love her, so no, she wasn’t going to church. She was laying on the couch. I was still pretty cozy in my bed (At 10:55 a.m., church starts at 11:15, I made it!), so I had nothing on her. But, that comment soothed my heart. It was butter on a hot biscuit. Freshly baked, just out of the oven, butter dripping down your fingers, warming your belly like you hadn’t eaten in weeks, kind of comment.

Because how hard have you tried to get someone to love you?

Enough to lie? Enough to pretend? Enough to be silent? Enough to do what you thought you’d never do?

I wish the comment was, tell the truth and let your people love you anyway. But, it isn’t. There’s been a few times that my kids needed to tell me a truth. I could see the fear and angst on their faces just before they spoke it. I’m not talking toddler truth here. I am talking man-did-I-mess-up-adult truth. I became mom pretty quick, and let them know that NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING could mess them up with me. Tell me the truth and I will love you to death. I will hot-butter-biscuit-love you to death, because speaking the truth takes a whole lot of courage sometimes.

My mom wasn’t so easy with that. She was quick to give a lecture, or be shocked. It was easy to shock her, which resulted in me lying to her, when really, I just wanted to tell her the truth. She was my mom. I wanted her to love me, and be proud of me, not be shocked by my stupid behavior or outrageous truth. So, yeah. Lying was easier. Tell the truth? Not when your audience is going to have the proverbial hiss-y fit. If the cost of speaking the truth is the cost of love, who does that?

Not me. I won’t give up love for truth. Will you?

I know what you’re thinking. If they can’t handle my truth then I don’t need that kind of love. Okay, Oprah. We agree. But how easy is that? And let’s talk about the people we love who fear losing our love if they’re honest with us. Come on. Super Soul Sunday sounds good, but walk that stuff out, and let’s agree that it is hard to disappoint those we love.

How I wish we’d let others (and ourselves) mess up big time and still love the heck out of each other. How I wish truth produced hugs and loving on one another. How I wish it wasn’t a choice between our truths and the love of loved ones, but sometimes, it is. But wishing is just that, wishing, and while confession is good for the soul, there’s a reason it’s done in a confessional booth with a slotted wall between you and your confessor. We can’t really handle each other’s truths, can we? I mean, really? Can we? It becomes personal. We get all weird, and make up conspiracy theories–assumptions about why they lied to us. Never thinking for a moment it was because they couldn’t stand our shocked faces. It tore them up to imagine it, so they kept quiet for way too long. Hey, I’m guilty of it. Ask my ex.

But, tell the truth and let the Lord love you? That one you can bank on. And, shocker–he already knows your truth. He’s not shocked. And judgment? Well, you got a clean slate the minute Jesus’ hands were pierced, so put that one back on the shelf. Abandon you? Never gonna happen. Your friend? Maybe she left in a huff. But, the Lord? Never.

He’ll love you to death. He’ll clean your wounds, and tell you chin up. He’ll stick by you, while you speak the truth in your heart. Yes, that one. The one that’s been lurking in there for eons. The one behind the door marked private. The one you thought you’d carry to your grave. Hey, listen. It’s on the tip of your tongue, anyway. Has been for awhile.

So, maybe you can’t tell your mom, or your spouse, or your friend. Maybe it isn’t even appropriate, too. But the Lord, yes, tell him, and let the warmth of hot-butter-biscuit love fill you up.

Getting Off the Treadmill (Without Going off the Grid)

I despair.

It’s work.

Understand, I love my job. I’m outside all day, with my plants, doing my thing, and mostly talking people’s heads off. What’s not to love?

But, here’s my despair. I have discovered the timeless truth of the treadmill. And, I am on it.

I talked non-stop with Debbie N, (that, I-think-I’m-having-a-nervous-break-down,  talking) for an hour, yesterday. She was standing in line at Moe’s ordering burritos for take-out supper. Chicken and rice, if you’re wondering. Having to do the whole ordering and paying thing while on her smart phone with her hysterical friend. Mouthing, “yes, large tea” (sweet, it’s the south), and gesturing “yes, extra chips, yes extra sour cream,” to the Moe’s folks with the phone cupped between chin and shoulder. It’s what we women do. I could hear “Welcome to Moe’s!” being shouted in the background.

By the time she got home with supper, I was going to empty my savings, pack a few belongings in the car, and Thelma and Louise style, just start driving. I was thinking west coast, because that just sounds so good when you’re running away.

Which is what being on a treadmill does to you. It makes you want to run away.

Now, that I’ve calmed down considerably, two or three Xanax later (But really, who’s counting?), I am pondering the whole treadmill thing from a much more laid back perspective. Say man, what do you think about the treadmill of life? (Kidding, it’s the Xanax talking.) One major thought popped up.

When I moved to Brevard, almost two years ago, I told the Lord that I would work 24.7 if that was what was needed. Newly divorced, newly employed, and newly responsible for the household and kid, I was typical Cinthia. Extreme, determined, and way too prideful to ask anyone for help. You know, the whole bootstrap mentality. 

2 years later, and completely exhausted, here’s what I’m realizing. It isn’t my job to work 24.7. It is the Lord’s. If anybody is on the ole’ treadmill, the Lord is. I mean, look at his job. He keeps the whole world cruising along every day, all day, with no sleep, and no help. Now, that is a treadmill deal. If he stops, it all stops. Meaning, he  is in control, and I’m not.

And, isn’t that where the treadmill lie originates? We’re stressed because we’ve convinced ourselves that the world rests on us. If we stop, it all stops?

Sometimes, I  want to be a teenager again. Back home in my room, staring out my window, gabbing on the phone, mom making dinner and dad hanging out with her. Because then, I wasn’t the one responsible for it all.

But, here’s the takeaway. I’m not the one responsible for it all now. So, when I feel like I am running on that treadmill of life and work again, I need to step off, and say, “Sorry, Lord, it’s all yours.” Because it is.

PS Kidding about the Xanax, it’s Klonopin. 🙂

A Suggestion for the Anti-Moms: Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook

Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook is huge. As in, over 700 pages long. Evidently, that is nothing compared to some of the home Homekeepingkeeping handbooks roaming the world. Martha informs the reader that one such book is some 1600 plus pages in length. That seems a bit daunting but I believe I’d still read every word of it. There is something about page after page of house cleaning tips (not to mention a schedule) that just compels me. If you’re rolling your eyes, well, what can I say? I’m a sucker for a clean house and love a woman who writes a book on how to do it.

My hairdresser, Anna, noted, at my last highlight and cut visit, that there is a trend among moms NOT TO CLEAN. They don’t like doing it, they don’t feel like they should be the ones doing it (why do they think they had kids???), they can’t afford a maid to do it, their husbands aren’t taking the initiative on doing it (really, how surprising…), so they simply don’t do it. They refuse to clean and the mess piles up.

I really don’t know how to address that.

Anna referred to it as the “anti-mom” movement. This not cleaning the house business has an actual name. So if the mom is busy being the anti-mom, who is being the mom?

It does stink that moms went to work but dads didn’t jump in on the household chores. It really does. Because the math on that is simple. For the women it looks like this: A career + a clean home= 2 jobs. For the men it looks like this: Wife goes to work + a dirty house= he doesn’t care about a dirty house but loves the extra income.

So, yes, it stinks but as for me, I could never stand a dirty house. I still can’t. Ask my kids how many times they had to re-clean the bathroom while learning that particular chore. Right down to the baseboards. 

What a shame I didn’t have Martha’s handbook then. I could have posted her weekly schedule for them. Here’s a sample just for the kitchen. Once a week you should:

  • Wipe all surfaces including sink, ventilation hood, outside of refrigerator, cupboards–basically all surfaces and doors including shelves in cabinets and furniture.
  • Discard all food and drink past its prime.
  • Wipe out the garbage bin and recycle bin (both inside and out).
  • Vacuum and mop the floor.
  • Flush drain with boiling water.

Lord, I love this woman. Of course, you should do all of that. And, if you’re thinking that is simply too much for one week, do one thing a day. If you wait until it piles up, well that does become impossible. I suggest moving at that point.

Here’s the thing. Beauty takes effort. But that’s what cleaning and taking care of our homes really is–creating a space of beauty for everyone (the mom included) to enjoy.

photo 1

Martha would be proud. My living room (and my legs, which don’t look as good as the living room).

And, before you get all bent out of shape here and groan about not having the time, the energy, the whatever…I ain’t talking perfection, here, just a bit of a reality check. Moms judging moms is likely what created said Anti-Mom movement in the first place. Chill on one another. Help one another. My BFF Debbie cleaned up my rotting potatoes (that were dripping brown goo from the cupboard under the sink onto my kitchen floor). She didn’t hesitate in her skinny jeans, french manicure, and fashionista style (on the way to dinner), to get down on the floor, find the rotting potatoes, toss them out and then clean up the mess. Take note and follow suit.

Apple Gentleness the fruit of surrender

God’s Will in Our Lives

Kindness begins toward God. It is that attitude of the spirit by which we accept God’s dealings with us as good and do not dispute or resist.

In Galatians 5:22, gentleness is listed as one of the 9 characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit. It is from the Greek word, prautes, and is defined in the NIV Key Word Study Bible as “meek…but not in a man’s outward behavior only, nor in his relations to his fellow men, or his mere disposition, but in an in wrought grace of the soul expressed primarily toward God.

How much of life is spent disputing God? Not that he is God, but his dealings with us?

The opposite of resisting is submitting, and who wants to do that? Whether in regard to other people–submitting to their needs first–or to God? Submission is complete surrender. It is letting go of your right to decide and putting your life into God’s hands. Many say, “If I knew God’s will for my life, I would submit to it.” The fact that we’e searching for God’s will is evidenced by the extraordinary number of Bible studies exploring this very topic. Walk into any Christian bookstore and some variant of “Discovering God’s Will for Your Life” is front and center.

Back up a minute. Submit to his will first and then know his will? That’s confusing. 

Before we begin seeking God’s will in our lives, we need to first submit to God’s will in our lives. If we don’t, we’re only playing games with ourselves and with God, because what we’re really saying is, you tell me what you will for my life is first, then I’ll you if I will submit (or resist).

The NIV commentary goes on to say, “Prautes is the acceptance of God’s dealings with us, considering them as good, considering that they enhance the closeness of our relationship with Him.” In other words, God is first seeking a relationship with us, one built on trust and submission, before we get down to any business of what His will is or is not.

Let’s be honest: when we say we’re looking for His will, generally we’re either looking for a way out or a way in. We want into, or out of—a marriage, a job, a ministry, a neighborhood, a house. It’s all about solving our immediate problems, but God’s Word says, “Seek me first and all this will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

There should come a time in every believer’s life when we finally understand that God is good and His dealings with us–even when we cannot understand them and they bring us to our knees sobbing–are good. Disputing this with Him assumes your thought processes are either like His or better than His, and your reasoning skills and understanding are like His.

Isaiah 55:9 clearly states that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than ours. Sometimes you will not understand why He allowed something to happen. You don’t need to understand to submit. You only need to trust.

Trust is a big scary word, especially when it means releasing control. We are fallible, fearful human beings, and we don’t trust easily. The Lord knows that. Our lives are precious and deserving of our best in living them out. Let’s not cast our pearls before swine, instead be cautious in a world where there are so many ways to spend a life. In seeking the Lord and relating to Him and letting Him relate to us through His Word, we begin to trust Him enough to submit to Him. It’s a process. It’s a relationship.

As he designs our circumstances to give us an opportunity to trust him–to show us He is faithful–do we resist him because it is too hard? Too scary? Do we dispute Him? Or do we draw near and submit?

Let us yearn to be like Peter, saying, “Lord, to whom else shall we go?” (John 6:68)

People, to whom else shall we go?

We look for peace, we ask for joy, we desire understanding, and we yearn for purpose. We believe all these things are wrapped up in some mystery called God’s will for our lives. We believe that if we could unravel it, our lives would be good, not understanding that the mystery is in God alone. We find joy, peace, purpose and understanding not in jobs to be done or questions answered, but in the “attitude of spirit by which we accept God’s dealings with us as good and do not dispute or resist.” We will find it in complete surrender and gentle submission to our Lord.

Kindly,
Cinthia

Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic

As a Christian, I was never taught it, but somehow I came to believe that God would never ask certain things of me. I assumed the Lord and I had an agreement worked out. For instance, I felt I could handle losing all my money, so if there was going to be a trial in my life, then the Lord knew that was a good one for me. It was a little game I had going with him. Lord, this trial is okay, but never THIS ONE (fill in the blank with your greatest fear).

Because of my assumed agreement with the Lord, when trial did come, as much as I should have seen it coming, I refused to believe the Lord would allow it to happen. I believed He would swoop in at some point and save the day. And He is certainly capable of that. So, as my ship was sinking, well, I was rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

I am assuming that I’m not alone here, Christian or not. I am assuming that most of us, whether we trust Jesus as Savior, or believe that humanity’s collective consciousness is God, we all are pretty much going to do the same when suffering comes knocking–duck our heads into the sand until we are forced to accept the circumstances.

Every step of my trial was one where I prayed that God would step in and change the outcome. He did not. And, here’s what I tell people now. I don’t want another trial, but I wouldn’t have missed this one for the world.

Here’s why.

1. I found out that God is faithful to get you through it, even if he chooses not to get you out of it.

2. I found out that while the ship is sinking, God is so very present in your life its as though you could touch him physically.

3. I found out that God will help you rearrange the deck chairs if that is what you need.

All the things I was taught as a Christian, that God is faithful to us, that he never abandons us, and that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, well, I found out that all of that is true.

Once, in the middle of my big mess, my oldest son was home for Christmas. We had just picked him up at the airport, and he was expecting the holiday traditions he loved. We were going to decorate the tree first thing to get the festivities going, and I had everything ready to do it, but we couldn’t find my husband. When I did find him, he was in his office emailing his girlfriend, who he would later leave me for. I went into the bathroom, shut the door, and sat down. I said, “Lord, you promised you’d be here. Period. In your word, you promise you will be with us in every situation. I need you here now.”

No bright light shone into the bathroom. I didn’t see the Lord visibly (though many have). My husband didn’t end his conversation with his girlfriend or she with him. He eventually left for her and she left her husband for him. But, I came out of that bathroom able to cope, to make Christmas what it is, a celebration of Jesus’ birth. I came out filled with joy that Christ was born.

What grace.

I no longer assume that I am exempt from any trial. Instead, I know that when trial comes the Lord will be there helping me to rearrange my deck chairs until I am ready to let the ship go down.

 

Sometimes All You Can Do Is Lay On The Floor (epic failure)

I work hard, as in I never stop working. Literally. I work 7 days a week, and I start at 7 a.m. and finish up around midnight.

There are several reasons for that.

1. I can. I have no family or husband or lots of friends (I just moved) or a church or any organization I belong to. I truly have no other requirement of my time. So, work gets it.

2. I am on a steep learning curve. At 54 (that’s me) most people are pros at their jobs. They’re now the consultants. I am just starting my career as a horticulturalist and so, the learning curve is large. I have a lot of catching up to do.

3. It feels good. It gives me something to do. When I come home in the evening, I come home to an empty house. I could watch tv or work. I work. (Side note: the tv is currently broken so that makes the decision to work even more obvious.)

4. I am terrified I won’t be able to work in five years, or ten years or however many years. I know 60 is the new 40, and I am in good shape (well, all things considered), but I do know that 50 hit hard and it hasn’t stopped hitting. I don’t know if I’ll be able to work five years from now. Who knows what state of health I’ll be in? I know that sounds all grim, and like I have no control over my health, but seriously, aging is not for sissies, and you do gain a new respect for what your body can and cannot do. With that knowledge, I work hard now.

5. Money is a necessity for all of us and I am no exception.

But there is also this:

I want to succeed at something. I have had some epic fails in my life and honestly, I hate that word, but it fits here. (The hashtag phenomena has ruined some perfectly good words.) So, now I have this over-arching desire to succeed at ANYTHING. But mostly, I want to look back at my career and say, I did good.

Okay. So, no big news there. People want to succeed in life. But here’s the clincher.

I want to succeed to make up for the epic fails. Oh, that takes a turn, doesn’t it? Let’s follow that path and see where we get.

Here’s how I learned this tidbit about myself. This morning I did on-line church. The Pastor’s sermon was about finishing the race strong (the journey of faith in Christ, he meant, for my non-believing beloveds). My reaction to his sermon was an over-reaction in the biggest (can I say epic?) way. I wanted to call the man up, and scream at him, “What the heck do you think I’m doing over here?” I wanted to murder the man. I wanted him hung in the town square and spit on by passersby. It seemed he was saying, “Cinthia, you aren’t doing enough.” I jumped up, off my couch, and screamed at my IPAD, “For pete’s sake, what else do you want me to do?”

Then, I laid flat out on the floor because for me, my posture before God helps me to hear God better when I pray. I told God, “That man is MEAN. Strike him down hard, Lord. He is hateful and MEAN.” (I can be bossy with my prayers.)

And, here’s what God said. Nothing.

And, here’s what happened. My soul was restored, renewed, comforted, and quieted. And, in that quiet Sunday space, I realized why I was really working so hard. I was ashamed of the epic failures.

In my quest to succeed at the next thing I was doing (work vs. marriage and family), I hadn’t dealt with the failures. Or rather, I hadn’t taken them to God to deal with. Sometimes, all you can do is lay on the floor, and scream. And, that’s a good thing.

Final side note: I did apologize to God about the mean preacher man. 🙂