One year is paper

IMG_2190Tonight when I logged on to write my blog, I got a very pleasant surprise…it’s my one-year anniversary!  I had no idea, and didn’t even get myself a present!

According to Hallmark, the traditional one-year anniversary gift is paper.  Huh?  Sounds pretty cheap to me, but I guess when you’re just starting out, that’s all you can afford.

Hallmark actually gave some sweet ideas of what to give for “paper” on its website.  The one I liked the most was to grab a pen and some stationary and write a love letter to your significant other.

So, I’m grabbing my keyboard, and the best blogging site around and writing a love letter to WordPress.

Dear WordPress,

How do I love you?  Let me count the ways.

♥  I love that you’re free!  Let’s face it, I’m a writer, which means I’m part of a much larger group of starving artists. Free is good.  Of course, when I get a major book deal, there’s always upgrades I can purchase.

♥  I love that you teach me the ins and outs of blogging.  With blogs of your own, and Blogging University, I can honestly say, if I don’t know something, it’s not because it’s not available.

♥  I love that you have opened my community with Freshly Pressed by introducing me to like-minded bloggers and those that are not so like-minded.  It takes all kinds.

♥  I love that you encourage me with your stats.  From your stats, you have told me that people from 15 different countries have read my blog at least once in the past year.  You also tell me what is most popular, which in 2015 is Don’t quit your crying and what is not, Understanding the Future.

♥  I love that you are there for me 24/7, whenever I’m inspired.  You are ready and waiting to publish my thoughts.

I love you WordPress.  In the last year, you’ve watched me grow as a writer, and I’d say, you’ve helped in that process as well.

Love,

Me

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I’ve got nothing…

White space and a blank screen.  I knew this day would come, and surprisingly, it’s later than I thought.  My goal in January was to write a blog post each week, mainly to stretch my writing muscles.

I was doing so well…until last week.  I slipped up, but with much sweat and determination, I pounded out another post.

So, here I am again tonight.  I could put it off (procrastination is my middle name), but deadlines are now a part of my everyday world, so I’m honoring my self-imposed deadline and I’m telling the world, “I’ve got nothing.”

No inspiring thoughts or moments of clarity. No profound thoughts of wisdom or “a-ha” ideas.  No creative juices.

Silence.

It’s like I’ve run into a brick wall.  I’m guessing that many others have felt that way too in their lives.  So, we have some choices.

Created by the YouVersion Bible App.
Created by the YouVersion Bible App.

Climb it or try to go around it.

Or maybe we could go a totally different way.

Climbing or going around that “brick wall” seem to be very self-sufficient means.  I can figure those out by myself.  Actually, that’s what I did last week…I just kept at it, kept “climbing” if you will, until I got over it.

Going a totally different way, however, requires me to rely on someone else.  And, I’ll probably have to wait to get directions.

So tonight, I wait.  I hope you stick around to see what happens next.

Bonded or genuine?

My bible…BONDED leather.

Sham. Shyster. Charlatan. Phony. Masquerader.  All synonyms for hypocrite.

Growing up this word was usually hissed rather than stated.  “She’s nothing but a hypocrite.”  I learned at a young age that it was not a compliment.  I tried hard not to become one, but I’m certain that at times I have been.

My husband and I were both given bibles when he became an ordained minister in 2003. They both have been used about the same amount of time through the years.  However, mine is most definitely more worn looking.  The edges are bent and frayed and parts of the leather have broken or fallen off.  Why the difference?  My bible cover is made from bonded leather and his is made of genuine leather.  

Bonded leather is “real” leather, but it’s made from pieces that are glued (hence, “bonded”) together with adhesives, polyurethane, or other bonding materials.  Once bonded, the leather can be cut, dyed, and embossed to look like genuine leather.  Because it’s not made from a single sheet of leather, it’s often not as durable.  In other words, it’s a fake.  A worthless imitation passed off as genuine.  Much like a hypocrite.   

Hypocrite:  a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs

I don’t talk much about being a pastor’s wife, mainly because I’m not your ‘typical’ one.  I don’t play the piano or stand by my husband’s side every minute.  I’m not the type that teaches every class, leads every group and does everything in the church.  I love being Bryan’s wife, but, at times, I don’t like being the pastor’s wife.  There is a lot of room to become a hypocrite.

Sometimes I find myself not sharing things about myself that maybe as a member I would, too afraid that it might not look right, or I might cause someone else to fall.  

Last Sunday I felt like a phony.  I wanted to go pray, but I didn’t want people talking.  I wanted people to know that my mental struggles are just as real as their physical ones, but I didn’t want people judging.  So, I stayed in my seat and I prayed by myself.

And I cried and prayed alone.  Then after service is over, I pull on the mask with the happy face (even though my mask is broken and you can still see the sadness).  I have become the very thing most people despise about churches:  hypocrites.

No one likes a fake.  Sometimes, however, we don’t like the real thing either.  Real Christians are NOT angelic beings that fly over their problems and never are tempted to sin.  Real Christians are NOT free from stresses, worries, grief, failures or trials.  

Bryan’s bible…GENUINE leather.

Real Christians are messy.  They mess up and miss it a lot of the time.  The difference between the fake and the real is believing and living in grace.  I’ve been brought back to grace, thankfully, many times.  

“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12: 9 NKJV

One of my favorite books is The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.  If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend.   Here’s an excerpt from page 25 that I can identify with:

When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes.  I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty.  I am trusting and suspicious.  I am honest and I still play games.  Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer. 

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark.  In admitting my shadow side, I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.  As Thomas Merton put it, ‘A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.’

The gospel of grace nullifies our adulation of televangelists, charismatic superstars, and local church heroes. …My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.  

So, I, like Brennan Manning and so many others, are messy.  Perfect messes, as author brennanLisa Harper likes to say.  I am trying to be a REAL perfect mess because My Father already knows that I am…and loves me just the same.  Just like the REAL genuine leather on Bryan’s bible, the REAL perfect messes will be able to withstand the wear and tear of life.  

For the high priest we have is not incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us, but has been put to the test in exactly the same way as ourselves, apart from sin.  Let us, then, have no fear in approaching the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace when we are in need of help.  – Hebrews 4:15-16

Don’t quit your crying

Her hot tears slid slowly down her cheek and made a path where they fell in the corner of her mouth.  The saltiness of them seemed to match her bitter feelings.

I wrote something similar to that in a high school essay, where my English teacher, Mrs. Jones, wrote on my paper in red ink, “nice description”.  I kept that paper for a long time.

It figures I’d get a compliment on tears.  Lord knows I’ve shed enough of them.  Happy tears, tears from extreme laughter, angry tears, sad tears, depressed tears, despondent tears and tears from pain.   I’ve cried when I’ve done something wrong, and also cried when I’ve been done wrong.  From bawling to sobbing to whimpering, I’ve experienced all types of crying. I’ve also been told many times to “quit your crying”.

"Loss"  an original painting by local artist Lauren White (and my friend).
“Loss” an original painting by local artist Lauren White (and my friend).

I can’t quit my crying tonight.  My tears are streaming, even as type. They are tears of sadness.  A little boy in our community, who just turned one, passed away.  He and his family have been in hospitals since he was a few months old and was diagnosed with a rare liver cancer.  I had the privilege of writing a story about them for the newspaper.

I did not know them, and didn’t even get to meet them for the story…it was all done via email.  But, my heart was touched and I prayed for this little boy.  Tonight a family, and an entire community is grieving.  I know there are many tears being shed and that will be shed by and for this family.

I know other families who have lost a child and it’s devastating to see what they have to walk through.  A friend who lost her son, though much older, is coming up on the anniversary of his passing.  I talked with her this morning for a moment and we shed some tears together.  Time does not heal all wounds.

Humans are the only creature that shed tears for emotional reasons.  Scientists have discovered that tears are good for us for different reasons.  Tears cleanse our eyes of debris, remove bacteria and can even make us feel better, though the research is conflicted regarding this.

The Bible has something to say about tears also.  One verse that is widely used to encourage people is Psalm 30:5b( NKJV) “Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.”  Some people’s “night” seems to be much longer than others, and I won’t ever understand (on this side) why.

Tears were shed by Jesus, prompted because his friend, Lazarus, had passed away. You can read John 11:33-35 for an account of this.

We’re also promised that our tears are not wasted.

You have seen me tossing and turning through the night. You have collected all my tears and preserved them in your bottle! You have recorded every one in your book. – Psalm 56:8 TLB

The best promise Jesus leaves us with is when there will be no more tears.  From a self-proclaimed cry-baby, I find it hard to imagine, but am looking forward to a day when it will be so.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” – Revelation 21:4 NLT

Does crying make you feel better or worse?