My Iris Rogue

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Apparently there is some confusion around here about what season it is. I have an Iris that’s blooming. It’s fall in Ohio which is not her normal bloom time of spring. But there she stands, in the weeds, at the wrong time of year, petals blowing in the crisp fall air, being gorgeous. My Iris has gone rogue.

To “go rogue” means to cease to follow orders; to act on one’s own, usually against expectation or instruction

Not to be confused with an Irish Rogue which, according to Urban Dictionary means: The act of giving the finger to anyone who has ticked you off. ( I won’t give you the example they used. Let’s just say it had to do with road rage.)

We live in an Irish Rogue world right now. Flipping the bird (yelling, screaming, name-calling, road rage, social media shaming etc) has become every day conversation for a lot of people. Right, left, conservative, liberal, believer, unbeliever…doesn’t matter…we have all sunk to the Irish Rogue method of communication.

Since this seems to be the norm, let’s go rogue…Iris Rogue. Let’s cease to follow orders of this world, which has become ugly and speak words of encouragement instead of words of strife and conflict. This Iris didn’t listen to the “rules”, she busted out a bloom in her off season.

If you are a believer in Jesus, the Bible says some things about “out of season” answers:

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1Peter 3:15 NIV bold is mine)

 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season: correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2Timothy 4:2 NIV bold is mine)

What does it matter if I can answer all my Bible study homework questions while sitting in class (in season) but then go out into the world and be harsh with my answers and tone (out of season)?

We have a reason for our hope but no one will listen if we go Irish Rogue.

Be a bloom, not a butt.

If going rogue means acting on one’s own, usually against expectation or instruction and the common comeback is laced with sarcasm and cynicism, going Iris Rogue means being the one who stays calm, cool and collected in a conversation….

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (Proverbs 15:1 NLT)

…especially when gentle answers are a rare find these days.

Words matter. People matter. The words we say to people matter. We have an opportunity to rise above the weeds, to bring beauty to the boorish, hope to the hurting, and peace to pain. But we can’t do that if we’re shouting to be seen.

Going Iris Rogue is listening more than needing to be heard. Seeing more than needing to be seen. It is practicing the art of being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19 NIV) Not everyone needs our opinion.

Go rogue…ask them to tell you more. Find out why they think or believe what they do. Instead of you’re an idiot! try that’s interesting. Instead of reacting with anger (the expected reaction) respect their opinion. After all, it is just that, an opinion. And it’s theirs.

No one has persuaded anyone of anything with harsh words. We want to attract, not attack. Heck, they may even ask you the reason for your hope. The reason why you reacted differently. The reason why you listened without becoming angry. What an opportunity!

Be a bloom not a brute.

In a world gone Irish Rogue, be an Iris.

Fiercely for you!

kw

 

 

 

 

 

Beware the Naked Man…

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While this quote makes me smile for some reason, it’s so obvious that a naked man offering an item of clothing is ridiculous. You can’t offer what you don’t have. Neither can you trust someone who does so.

Social Media perfection is much like this African proverb because you can’t be what you aren’t which is perfect. If she sounds too good to be real, she probably is. If he sounds fake, he probably is. Everyone you see as you scroll through social media wakes up with stinky breath and struggles with something.

While we certainly don’t want to air our own or see everyone’s dirty laundry, this obsession for perfection is sending us down a path that is harmful.

The Direction of Perfection

The perfect picture. The perfect post. The perfect persona. The perfect plate. Pinterest perfection. We have become a culture that is consumed with the appearance of perfect.

The direction perfection sends us down is the slippery slope of self-absorption. Perfection, or the appearance of, becomes the idol we chase after. An idol is anything that either disproportionately consumes your thoughts, actions or resources, or that take your eyes off of God.

If we’ve set our eyes on the prize of perfection, constantly hustling for picture perfect, are we really winning anything? Or have we lost our way?

Beware the naked man who offers directions for he has no place in which to keep a compass.

The Deflection of Perfection

My three-year-old grandson has the art of deflection down to a science. He gets in trouble for something or is being asked to do something he doesn’t necessarily want to do and he immediately changes the subject or diverts attention to something else.

To deflect is to bend or turn aside; turn from a true course or straight line. It is a coping mechanism people use when not wanting to reflect on the reality of something. It’s used as a shield so others will not see one’s true nature.

The deflection of perfection is seen when we draw attention to the good and wonderful things we are doing while never acknowledging any bad behavior. If I can get you to stay focused over here, you won’t pay attention to what is going on over there.

Be wary of anyone who is always put together, always very spiritual sounding, always talking about the good things they do. It could be the right hand is distracting from what the left hand is doing. No one is perfect.

Don’t buy a shirt from the naked man.

The Deception of Perfection

Somewhere along the way we’ve exchanged the idea of striving for excellence with having to be perfect. Excellence leads to great and honorable things. Perfectionism leads to fear of making mistakes, paralysis of analysis, and feeling judged.

One energizes. The other criticizes.

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The one who masquerades as an angel of light has invited us to dance with him at the ball of perfection. We waltz with worry over others liking the real us. We foxtrot with fear that others will find out what frauds we are. We do the hustle to be heard and the salsa to be seen.

But at the end of the night, we’re exhausted. Our feet hurt from shoes we never should have worn and our mascara has run under the mask we’ve put on to hide our true identities.

Beware the naked man who asks you to dance because, well, that’s nasty.

When perfectionism is driving us, shame is riding shotgun and fear is that annoying backseat driver. (Brene’ Brown)

Either get in the driver’s seat or get out of the car but let’s stop driving down the destructive path of perfectionism by being brave enough to simply be ourselves.

Fiercely for you!

kw

The Greatest of These

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I sat in a hotel room in Nashville lamenting the previous six weeks to one that was much wiser than I. My grandmother had died, my man had changed jobs and my daughter had gone completely rogue…all in the course of about ten days. This was the fall that fell.

You’ve got to find a way through this. Your daughter needs you right now. You have to see past your own hurt and anger. I know it’s hard but she needs you to love her.

 Surely she didn’t hear what I had said. Love her? After the stunt she was pulling? Are you kidding me!

Fast forward several weeks and many arguments, groundings, things taken away and tears. I asked an acquaintance of mine who was a former addict but was now in social work what her mom had done during her most difficult days. Her answer? She loved me through it. Even on my ugliest of days my mom saw in me what I could not and she showed me by loving me.

 Did I listen? No. How could I? I was so very angry. My heels were dug in. She WOULD listen to me OR ELSE! Loving her was the last thing I wanted to do.

Two more times from two different people came the advice to love her.

Sometimes the very thing you refuse to do is the exact thing God will ask of you.

We were having another shouting match. I followed her to the bathroom (the bathroom for Pete’s sake!) and was screaming (not for the first time), Your behavior is bullshit! You are tearing this family apart!

 (I’ve never pretended to be a “shiny” Christian on here, only real. I wish my real was prettier and wrapped with a big bow but this was my reality for many months.) Until….

My daughter turned on a dime, looked me square in the face and said, You are being exactly like the very people you are trying to protect me from. You are no different.

If words could leave a handprint, surely I would have had marks across my face. The truth to her words shocked me to silence. She was absolutely right. I had become a venom vomiting, maniacal mom who was bitter not brave, hateful from hurt not helpful, unforgiving, unloving, angry and afraid.

Was she rebelling? Yes. But this isn’t about her. It’s about my response to her….which completely sucked.

Dr. Luke shared these words of Jesus, The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45 NIV bold is mine)

My mouth was pumping out what was in my heart which was full of anger, hurt, bitterness and fear and was a reflection of the words I spoke (screamed.)

Grace could not be heard over the volume of my voice and the wound of my words.

We both retreated to our rooms that night and I knew what I had to do. The next morning after she left for school, I went into her room, got down on my knees like I had done so many times during this storm but instead of praying for her to change, I confessed….

I poured out my anger, bitterness, fear and hurt. I confided in my Father my inability to see the girl he gave me through the fog of fear, the inability to love her like I should because of my own anger and hurt. But that I knew he could love her through me and I was willing for him to do that. I asked him to change me, to create in me a clean heart.

I got up off my knees that day with a peace like I’d not known for many weeks. My situation was no different but I was. (You can read more about that day here… https://kimwrightwrites.com/2016/10/06/saving-face-or-amazing-grace/ )

Things slowly began to change between us. She began to confide in me more and I began to be able to see her with compassion and love once again. I could see that she was hurting and confused. I don’t want this to sound prettier than it was. It took a lot of conversations, counseling and God interventions to heal but heal we have.

Paul says in 1Corinthians 13:13, But for right now…we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (The Message)

 I can have all the faith and hope in the world but if I can’t love someone who’s actions are unlovable, what’s the point?

The Message says it this way, If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. (1Corinthians 13:2)

 In other words I can teach a Bible study, attend church, listen to Christian music, be faith full but if I can’t love my neighbor who may be different than me, believe different than me, act different than me, look different than me…What. Is. The. Point?

Why share this now? I can’t help but look around and see the venomous vitriol being spewed from every single direction. Name calling, hurtful words, anger, hatred. I get it. I really do. You want more than anything for people to listen. You want them to see your side of things. So you speak louder. But learn from my experience: screaming that someone’s behavior is bull crap or following them around (literally or via the internet) roaring your opinion does not change anyone.

Only love does that.

Love allows for grace to be given and truth to be spoken. Love allows for safe places and soft landings even when we don’t always agree. Love allows for difficult conversations and differences of opinions. Love allows for change to happen. It’s the greatest of these.

And it starts with me.

Fiercely for you!

kw

 

 

 

 

 

 

When You End Up in the Ditch

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The Cup Plant known to collect rain water in her “cups” that can be used for drinking water in emergencies. She can be found in ditches along roadsides, offering us a cool drink perhaps?

I had been asking Mom for gas money for several days. While I had been watching the needle move towards E, it didn’t really dawn on me that I would run out of gas…oh to be 16 again…until my car sputtered to a halt on my way to school one morning. My sister and I were able to push it off the country road enough to not get hit.

Fortunately for my siblings and me, my then boyfriend, now husband (awww…insert heart emoji’s here) took the same route to school, saw us stranded and pulled over to pick us up. There’s nothing quite like piling in to a ’67 VW with rusted floorboards. But at least his tank was full.

Later that day, I got scolded pretty good by my stepfather for parking in the ditch at the wrong angle. Wait. What? I guess gas couldn’t get to the carburetor because of the angle of the car….or something like that. (To this day I have no knowledge of any of this…I couldn’t even spell carburetor just now!)

I wish I could tell you this was the last time I ended up in a ditch. But, well, life happens, tanks run out, and there you are, parked at a wonky angle in the ditch. I’ve learned a few things through the years….

When you’re running towards E you have to go to a resource that can help you. The logical place to go for gas money was my Mom. This is usually true. What I didn’t know is she couldn’t give me what she herself didn’t have…money for gas. I kept waiting. She kept putting it off. I ended up in the ditch.

Sometimes the actions (or inaction) of others are what put you in the ditch. Had I realized there was no money for gas, I could have caught a ride to school with said hunk of a boy mentioned above.

How many times have I gone to someone who simply did not have the know- how or wherewithal to give me what I needed to prevent me from ending up in the ditch.

I just kept driving.

When you’re running towards E you have to pay attention to the signs. It was naïve (foolish?) of me to think I could just keep going and going and never run out of gas. There were red flags…like the needle that kept creeping closer to empty. My truck today has a signal that lets me know when I’m 50 miles or less to empty. (And believe me, I head to the nearest gas station because that beep makes me panic a little!)

How many times have I ignored signs and red flags and beeps and just kept going? Oh, hello, Mr. Ditch. We must stop meeting like this. I had no clue we’d be together again so soon. Oh wait. Yes I did. I chose to ignore them!

 I just kept driving.

When you’re running on E you don’t get to choose where you park, you just land where you run out of gas. It’s almost always not in a convenient spot…

Sometimes it’s in the hospital because you’ve ignored your body’s symptoms. Sometimes it’s with a counselor because you’ve ignored your feelings and thoughts. Sometimes it’s in divorce court because you’ve ignored warning signs in your marriage. Sometimes it’s because of someone else’s actions or lack thereof. Sometimes it’s in the middle of a store and you start crying for not any one thing but a million.  And you can’t stop.

We just keep driving.

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The Bull Thistle…completely dried up…just like us when we “bull” our way through and keep driving.

No matter the reason, no matter the how, no matter the why, we have a Rescuer. He doesn’t look at us and think You idiot. (Though he may shake his head on occasion…) He looks at his children with compassion. He doesn’t ignore our cries from the ditch…no matter how we ran out of gas, no matter what angle we “parked” the car…he hears us…

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

out of the mud and mire;

he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3)

 Oh. My. Soul!

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Chicory coming up THROUGH a crack in the road. 

He is the Resource that never runs out. He is the One with all the answers. He is the Fuel that fills my tank. He is the Nemesis to my enemy. He is the Light that shows the way. He is Breath when I cannot breathe. He is.

He is the Lifter of my head when I’m weary. He is the Hearer of my heart. He is the collector of my tears. He is the Helper in times of trouble. He is Firmness under my feet. He is the Rock on which I stand. He is.

He Rescues. Redeems. Restores. Amen.

#ezerstrong

kw

 

 

Crying Harder Than It Hurt

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Ironweed closeup.

I’m not sure what happened. One minute I was reaching to turn the garage light on and the next minute I’m bouncing my way down the wooden steps, making sure to hit all four of them with my rear before landing on the concrete floor.

I sat there in disbelief for a few seconds. After doing a quick inventory to make sure everything was still connected and not broken, I curled up in the fetal position on the dirty garage floor and cried. Sobbed really.

I was crying way harder than it hurt. Oh sure, my butt was going to have some serious bruises but for a woman who has gone through natural childbirth not once but four (out of five) times this seemed a bit extreme.

Yet I laid there. In the dark. On the cold floor. All alone. And I wailed.

It wasn’t the bruises on my bum but the hurt in my heart that was causing this wave of emotion. The previous 18 months had demanded that I be brave. Commanded some colossal courage. Life can take you through those seasons sometimes, can’t it?

So often during that year and a half, I had held back tears and choked back any real emotion because there simply was no time for it. They came out that day…spilling over into the dust of the garage floor….

Job change, a renegade kid, death, loss of friendships, moves, being alone, loneliness, grieving what was, facing the unknown…bullying me, taunting me, daring me to give up. Whispering to me that only the weak cry uncle, only the weak cry at all.

Such a lie.

Somewhere along the way we (Wildflower Warriors) have convinced ourselves that we are invincible. Until we’re not. Then we wonder where it went wrong.

King David was a slayer of lions, bears and giants. He fought battles like a boss, killing tens of thousands of his enemy. He was confidently courageous, powerfully potent, gallantly gritty, undaunted, unafraid and handsome to boot.

Until you read the Psalms….

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. (Psalm 4:1)

The daring distress.

Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. (Psalm 5:1-2)

Sighing: to let out one’s breath audibly, as from sorrow, weariness or relief.

Warriors weary.

I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. (Psalm 6:6)

 Warriors weep.

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? (Psalm 13:1-2)

 Warriors feel forgotten.

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. (Psalm 56:3)

 Warriors feel fear.

That’s just five verses from five different chapters. All throughout the Psalms David emotes. Unabashedly. And it’s okay. In fact it’s more than okay. It’s necessary! Otherwise you end up crying harder than it hurt.

In those times of demanding distress, weariness and weeping, feeling forgotten and being afraid, David is honest about how he’s feeling. He goes to the One who can make a difference. That’s what fierce warriors do.

Courage can be found when I cry out to God from a cold concrete floor. He can take the mud I made from the dust and the tears and give me eyes to see healing in the hurt, goodness in the grief and hope in my heart. (John 9)

Fiercely for you!

kw

 

 

It Starts With Me

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Are you okay? I asked the woman as I approached her.

Yeah! I was already having a bad day. Then THIS happened!

My man and me were headed out for a matinee when we rounded a curve to find a woman standing in the ditch crying, her hoopty of a car obviously broken with the tire pointing 90 degrees in the opposite direction of which she was headed.

She was beside herself sobbing so I did the only thing I knew to do in the moment…I asked her her name then gave her a hug.

I pieced bits of Nikki’s story together in between the Lucille Ball like sobs and stutter breathing. I began to see that her car wasn’t the only thing broken. She had just dropped her boyfriend off at work when she got a call from her daughter that the daughters boyfriend had stranded her in a parking lot in Sharonville with her one year old who hadn’t eaten yet and was crying because he was hungry. Mom can you please come pick us up?

She didn’t have the money for gas to drive all the way over there but you can’t let your kid be stranded. What else could she do but go pick her up and try to figure out how to get some food for the baby. And then this happened. She started sobbing again.

 She had called her Dad who was mad that she was driving to Sharonville. She called her brother who was trying to get over to help but wasn’t sure when he could leave work. She couldn’t call her boyfriend because he would go back to jail…(I didn’t ask because I didn’t want to know.)

Her husband had left her nine months ago for another woman and had accused her of doing drugs. She assured me she wasn’t and even showed me her arms…see, I don’t have any needle marks.

 She didn’t know where they would stay tonight because not only was this her mode of transportation, it was her home when work was scarce and dresser for all she owned.

My man was standing in the background, taking it all in, letting me do what I do…listen and soothe, comfort and calm. He is a fixer of things not necessarily people so his mind went immediately to what it would take to get her car fixed.

I know what some of you are thinking. I had those thoughts too. This woman was a hot mess of broken down and busted up. Her life was a domino of poor choices. She fit such stereotypical molds that it would have been easy to tell her to get her act together and walk away shaking my head in disgust. To say, You made this bed…

 As her story continued, I prayed Lord let me see her as you do…. made in Your image.

 It’s easy isn’t it? It’s easy to let skepticism replace compassion, to let animosity blind our humanity. Cynicism crowds out sympathy. Indifference becomes our go to instead of grace. This world is wearying with want. It’s easy to allow our hearts to harden.

Compassion…a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering…has to start somewhere.

I could get on my soapbox and get all up in your grill here…guilting you…I mean…

We could talk about how many times Jesus was moved with compassion when he saw people hungry and sick. How he fed and healed them without asking how in the heck they got there.

We could talk about how Jesus met the woman at the well and saw more than someone who had been married five times plus a live in. Or how Jesus stood in the middle of the circle of Pharisees with the woman caught in adultery daring the elites to throw the first stone.

We could talk about Jesus explaining to the disciples that when you feed, clothe, care for and visit the least of these, you are feeding, clothing, caring for and visiting Jesus himself.

We could. But I don’t want to sound preachy and I sure as heck don’t have my act all together. Compassion is a condition of the heart and Lord knows my heart is deceitful on the best of days.

It IS hard. We AREN’T Jesus. People ARE a mess. This world IS broken.

But it has to start somewhere.

I believe the timing was divine. We were given an opportunity to choose: the gavel of judge and jury or the cloak of care and compassion. We may not always get it right but we chose the latter this time.

Todd looked at me and I at him, knowing we were supposed to help her get her car fixed. So he did what he does best and started making calls to some of his connections (my man knows people…)

I gave her another hug and whispered in her ear, We may not be able to fix everything that’s broken but we can at least help you get your car fixed.

The look of disbelief and relief was worth the cost of the repair. I have no idea what will happen to Nikki, if she will continue to tip over the domino of poor decisions. But I do know this, she needed someone to cut her a break not cut her down.

No. I can’t fix everything but I can do this one thing. I can show compassion.

It starts with me.

Fiercely for you!

kw

PS Ironically we missed the movie we were supposed to see. The Glass Castle is a true story about a family who moved often because of bill collectors, lived in their car when necessary and struggled to survive. We traded reel life for real life that day.

Simple. Powerful. Prayer.

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God have mercy on me, a sinner. (Luke 18:13NIV)

I am a word junky. I am a woman. I love to talk. I love to write. Sometimes I have word gusts of tornado like proportions. Sometimes I think I wear God’s (and Todd’s) ears out with my ramblings and meanderings. I want to make sure he understands what I’m asking. I want to dot every “i” and cross every “t” so there are no mistakes. Anybody else?

But what if I don’t know exactly? What if I haven’t a clue the details of what I really need? Or want? Or desire? There are times when elaborate just isn’t in my vocabulary.

Simple prayer is still powerful prayer.

I lay awake with anticipation of a meeting taking place the next morning. I had many things to share but also wanted to be concise, professional and heard. And so I prayed this every time I woke up, Lord, don’t let me word vomit at tomorrow’s meeting.

 He answered!

I have a friend who recently moved away. She is in the process of getting her family settled in to a new home and new schools as well as trying to make connections herself. She texted a couple of us to be praying about a get together of some ladies from a church she has been attending. She shared her fears and anticipations. Our big bold prayer for her was this: Dear God, please don’t let it be awful.

 He answered!

This is a note I ran across (and kept) from many years ago. It’s from my youngest daughter who was 7 ish and is now 19 and in college.

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He has been answering this prayer ever since.

In Luke 18 we see two different styles:

The Pharisee with his Glamour Shot style of look-at-me-and-my-fancy-prayer-life.

The tax collector who simply asks for mercy because he is sinner.

Jesus’ response? Old fancy pants got scolded for being too full of himself. While the tax collector’s humility was recognized.

Simple, humble prayers can sometimes be the most effective ones. Jesus doesn’t ask us to be fancy. Just honest.

Simple, humble prayers leave my needs in the hands of a Father who knows way better than I what the answer should look like.

Simple, humble prayers can be bold and brave, brazen and beautiful.

Can we be specific? Absolutely! But sometimes my laundry list of laments limit my ability to see God working when his answer didn’t fit in the labyrinth of detail I laid out for him.

There is somehow a sweet relief to not have to worry about the how’s and trust God to work it out for our good. Because we can trust him. He hears us. He loves us. He wants the best for us.

In the words of the Psalmist we can bring our simple requests before him each morning. We can pray to not word vomit or not let it be awful or help me or have mercy and then wait expectantly for him to answer

Because he will.

Simple. Powerful. Prayer.

Fiercely for you!

kw

Don’t Fall for Cute

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That’s Rosie, my oldest daughter’s one-year-old boxer puppy and that other creature is a temptress and destroyer disguised as a sweet innocent chipmunk. Do not be deceived by its cuteness!

I started noticing small holes all throughout my flowerbeds, then soil on top of the fresh layer of mulch, then dirt all over the back patio and front porch from the pots of tomatoes and flowers. Then a full scale city just under the ground as tunnels started appearing from one end of the bed, under the patio and coming out on the other side to the far end of the bed. What in the world?

We started noticing cute, little chipmunks zipping around about the same time some ladies on my golf league asked if anyone else had a chipmunk problem. They went on to say how destructive these little buggers were and how to get rid of them. So that’s what is going on!

How could such a tiny little thing wreak so much havoc? Not to mention the trouble it got poor Rosie in as she chased after it a time or two, not realizing the damage she caused in the pursuit. She fell for it every time too. The cuteness, the tempting, the taunting…

So do we. It’s called sin.

It often starts out small. A little hole. A bit of dirt on the floor. We think we’re getting away with it, that no one will notice or catch us so we don’t say anything to anyone…even (especially?) not to God. Next thing you know there’s a whole secret village underground that slowly makes its way to the surface. You are in so deep and it has caused such mayhem in its wake.

God knew the destructive nature of sin and that it crouches at our door; desiring to have us, but we have to master it. (Genesis 4:7)

 We HAVE to master it. But how?

First by acknowledging we messed up. We built those underground tunnels of lies and deception. We made holes with our poor decisions. We uprooted the system. Sin crouched and we flung wide the door.

Mahatma Gandhi says, Confession of errors is like a broom which sweeps away the dirt and leaves the surface brighter and clearer. I feel stronger for confession.

 

I would have to agree. Secrets are crippling. And exhausting. Confessing the moment we are aware of an error certainly makes for less sweeping too.

James tells us to confess our sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (5:16) And John tells us if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins…(1John 1:8-9)

Be accountable to and for each other. Everyone needs someone to speak truth into their lives. My best friends are not those who let me do whatever I darn well please. No. My best friends tell me when they see me off track. They tell me what I NEED to hear, not what I want to hear.

Second, we can’t be drawn in by cute. I couldn’t believe such a sweet little creature could cause that much damage….until I saw it in action. I would not be fooled by its cuteness again!

Satan doesn’t show himself in a red suit with horns, tail and pitchfork. Nope. He masquerades himself as an angel of light. (2Corinthians 11:14) He masks sin as fun and flirtatious or innocent enough or not so bad or shall I say delicious like a piece of fruit and before we know it not only have we have flung open the door, we’ve invited him in for supper.

Don’t be deceived by cute.

Third, we have to flee. In the words of Jenny we have to Run Forest! Run! at the first sighting of temptation.

The moment I opened the back door Rosie chased after that chipmunk fast and hard. She allowed that chipmunk to lure her in and in the process of the chase, more flowers were destroyed, she didn’t listen at all and got into even more trouble. Had she simply walked away from the back door and not paid any attention to the tawdry attempts of this tiny tempter, she would have faired much better.

I know this is a boxer and chipmunk but are we really much different? I wish I could say I have never been lured into or caught chasing the chipmunk in its devil suit. I wish I could say I have always run but I can’t. You should see the tiny pitchfork this little guy was carrying, it was adorable! (Smile)

Paul gives us a couple things to run from:

Flee from sexual immorality. (1Corinthians 6:18)

 Therefore, my dear friends flee from idolatry. (1Corinthians 10:14)

 Flee from the evil desires of youth… (2Timothy 2:22)

This certainly hits a broad spectrum doesn’t it? Paul may as well be writing to us today. Not much has changed through the years or culture. We still struggle to run from all of these things. We still stand at the back door whining to be let out so we can chase after what’s not good for us, things that will only get us in trouble.

Stop. Just stop.

Confess. Don’t be deceived. Flee.

We (and Rosie) will be much better for it.

Fiercely for YOU!

kw

The Mimic of the Mockingbird

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There’s nothing quite like sitting out back in the stillness of the morning, coffee in hand, Bible open, being still and watching the variety of birds come in for their breakfast.

Flight patterns and personalities emerge, some cling to the feeder to eat, some scratch at the food on the ground. Some don’t mind the company of other types of birds. Some prefer to eat alone…good morning Mr. Redheaded Woodpecker. Some are bullies…I’m thinking of you Mr. Blue Jay. Some make messes…that would be the Blackbirds whether it’s the Cowbird, Crow or Red winged variety.

There’s Bluebirds, Towhees, Chickadees, Juncos, Goldfinches, Robins, Nuthatches, Titmice, Turtledoves, Catbirds, Redbirds, Sparrows, Thrashers, Orioles, Indigo Buntings, just to name a few, that we’ve seen on the feeders. All of them have a very distinct call and if you listen long enough you can distinguish who’s who.

Until you hear this guy…

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Meet the Mockingbird. He can mimic any and all of the above, plus some, I’m sure. He’s really good too. He rattles off his repertoire as I’m going about doing my outside chores. My girls joke that he follows me around. It could be.

I believe the Creator of all things teaches us many things through the simplicity of nature. We just have to listen with our ears open and our hearts willing to learn. As I listen to the mockingbird mimic his fellow aviaries it reminds me that we, too, are to be mimickers. Paul tells us to be imitators of God. (Ephesians 5:1)

 How do we do that? Just like the mockingbird does every single day, we practice until we perfect it so that no one can tell the difference.

We practice the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

 We practice thinking upon whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…and excellent. (Philippians 4:8)

 We practice the art of loving each other with grace and truth. Not one or the other but both because that’s how much we care about our fellow people.

We practice the cunning of the catbird’s call and the tenderness of the mourning dove’s coo. Because we are being sent out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)

 We won’t always get it right. I’ve heard the mockingbird hit a sour note or two. It didn’t stop him from continuing his ballad. We mustn’t stop either. People are in desperate need to see us be imitators of Jesus. The real One, not the one clothed in a Pharisaic robe standing all-righteous above others. The real One, who gets down in the dirt face to face with an adulterous woman and dares the others to judge her. The real One who would rather have dinner with sinners than rub elbows with the saints. The real One, the rebel with a cause. The One who can see a person’s potential even though they have a past. The real One who sees beauty in someones broken and purpose in their pain.

We practice so we have the courage to show kindness to those who are crippled, to those who cannot stand for themselves…even when it may get us in trouble. (Acts 4:8-9)

We practice so that when others realize we are but unschooled, ordinary people, they will be astonished and will take note that these people have been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

We can be imitators of Christ by having spent time with him, getting to know him, learning from him, and listening to him.

I want nothing more than for each person I meet to take note that I have been with Jesus. To be astonished at how I acted and reacted. Not because of anything I’ve done but because of the One with whom I’ve hung.

Now excuse me. I have some mimicking to practice and a song to sing.

Fiercely for YOU!

kw

Who Set the Wild Donkey Free?

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Donkeys pulling a loaded cart in Zimbabwe, Africa

It’s no coincidence that this is July 4th and I just started studying Galatians 5 which starts out saying It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. An oxymoron for many who think being a person of faith shackles you, not sets you free.

Paul writes to the people of Galatia because there were some folks in the church who were distorting the gospel, the good news of Jesus. They, the agitators, were telling the church that if they truly wanted to be a Christ follower they would have to be circumcised and eat certain foods, just like the Jews had done for centuries.

Paul was explicit in his reply that this was not the case and these people were trying to confuse the true gospel message: Jesus rescued us from the law because the law had gotten out of hand, added to by the Pharisees and was completely unattainable. God recognized this and sent his One and Only to die for us. That’s called grace.

We aren’t much different today are we? Oh, it may not be that our men must be circumcised or that we must eat certain foods but we have our list of things that we think we have to check off to be considered good enough to be good Jesus chicks. Having a daily quiet time. Praying for 15 or 30 minutes every day. No cussing. No smoking. Be kind. Do this but don’t do that. It’s an endless list really. And is upside down grace.

Jesus died not because of anything good I did (or now do.) He died because I can never do enough to be good enough. He died because he saw the shackles of shame, sin and the severity of a law that I could never live by…no matter how hard I try. That’s the Grace of salvation.

There is such freedom in grace. Freedom from legalism. Freedom from having to try hard to be good enough. Freedom from trying to be something I’m not. Freedom to let you be you and me be me. Freedom from being a slave to sin. Freedom from the agitators who are still trying to distort the gospel message today.

I can stand firm in that freedom and not let myself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

I am called to be free. But to not use my freedom to indulge in a sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13)

For some reason I was reading in the book of Job the other day. I mean, who does that? It’s quite depressing in many ways: Job is a great and godly guy who loses everything, including his family, except for his wife who, along with three of Job’s friends, are vying for the prestigious how-can-we-make-Job-feel-worse-about-himself award.

Job’s buddies were having a back and forth with him about why this was happening and what he had done to provoke God when in chapter 38 it says, Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm.

 Oh man. ‘Cause you know it’s coming.

God proceeds to ask Job a very long series of questions (four long chapters worth!) that can ONLY be answered in the most humble way, You did LORD.

 This one question made me smile and resonated with my wild and free heart:

Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied his ropes? I gave him the wasteland as his home, the salt flats as his habitat. He laughs at the commotion in the town; he does not hear a driver’s shout. He ranges the hills for his pasture and searches for any green thing. (Job 39:5-8)

 God saw the donkey harnessed to a cart, pulling a load he did not want to pull and set him free.

You did, Lord.

God saw this wild donkey of a woman harnessed to sin and shame, carrying a load she wasn’t meant to carry, full of legalism and distortion and he set her free.

You did that, LORD!

I am forever thankful and forever free. I can laugh at Satan, the driver of my former cart because I don’t have to listen to his shouts any more!

Happy Independence Day my wild and free donkey friends!!

Fiercely for YOU!

kw