Focus and the Peace Pipe

Someone I respect posted a blog today.  I have a lot higher priorities than blogging right now, but I couldn’t NOT respond to what he said here.  So today was an investment.  Even though I’ve never met him, he’s a child of God, and worth every minute of my time. He could be my child.  My other priorities will have to happen later. Mama’s about to have a tellin’ –

I remember my first drug deal.  It was a shady street on the other side of town, probably nice enough in daylight and not much different from the street where I was born, but it wasn’t too friendly from this angle.  I was left outside in a car with a couple of very trashy girls while the guys who’d professed to our fathers they’d take care of us with their lives had disappeared inside – which house, I wasn’t sure.  For a long time.  I finally got out of the smoke-filled car so I could breathe, and went for a walk.  In the days before cell phones, it was sometimes difficult to call Dad for a rescue.  Just as I decided to go knock on a door, the guys came out, laughing and ready to go have a fun time.  All the time I’d spent primping and preening for my date – I now stunk like an ashtray, my head was splitting from toxicities audible and airborne, and now I had to listen to a lame excuse as to why it was ok for me to have been temporarily abandoned for something much more interesting.

It was just this side of the transaction I’d never seen.  My brother had a small nursery in his room upstairs that was the envy of all the neighbor teens.  He had a small income on top of his job.  I helped him, on occasion, to clean the seeds.  After he vacationed in Hawaii, I learned to tell the difference between the acrid smell of the crappy local stuff and the full bodied, richer Kona Gold and Maui Wowie.  I guess I had a nose for nuances even then.  We laughed when somebody sold an oregano joint to a stupid kid who wanted to grow up faster.  We cried a few years later when someone laced a roll for the same, now stupid teen, and he ended up in the mental hospital permanently.  Some of the older kids said he had it coming; he was always an idiot.  I felt badly; he was a really nice kid.

All my friends did it, so it couldn’t have been that bad.  Every so often you heard a story of a bad trip and seeing spiders on all the walls of your home or somesuch.  That was a gauntlet of sanity I never wanted to experience.  I stayed away from it all.  They laughed at me.  It wasn’t until a decade had passed that several of them mentioned I was the only smart one in the group.  I’d drawn my line and never crossed it.

I never wanted to be in a place where I was not firmly in control of my own faculties.

As I got older,  I began learning about herbs in order to heal childhood maladies without going broke at the pharmacy.  Remember, I’d already drawn my line with the drug dealers.  I came across Lobelia, or Indian tobacco.  The kids knew if they got really sick, it wouldn’t be long before I rubbed it on their feet and made them smell like an old Indian chief.  I fear it for all the dire warnings that accompany its description, but I’m drawn to its power and adaptogenic properties.  I still use it when I need it.

But we don’t play with the peace pipe recreationally.

Ps.104:14 says that we have been given “herbs for the service of man.”  The legal status of pot has given it a position – it’s become the logo for rebellious teens all across the country for several generations instead of just another herb for holistic health.

William Dufty, in his book Sugar Blues, compared drugs to alcohol and sugar and concluded with one statement:  “Junkies die of junk.”

We are all dying of our sins – this is the human condition.  If you repeatedly give your body unnecessary substances, physically or spiritually, eventually you’ll be unhealthy. It doesn’t matter whether it’s socially acceptable or not.  Red Bull, fast food, or weed isn’t the substance of the argument.

“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are.”  (1 Cor. 3:17)

I didn’t draw my line on smoking, drugs and illegality back in the day because of the moral high ground.  Far from it – I was afraid I’d be the one to die, first time out.  A medicinal herbalist will call for help if someone has a reaction, because he/she has no fear of the light.  Lawbreakers don’t want light shed on their activities, because 9-1-1 responders don’t care about whether what you’re doing should be legal.  You both know it’s not.

A little side note here: my dentist found that I am VERY sensitive to substances.  He remarked that I would’ve been the one in a million to OD on my first try.

But most people never have a problem and eventually dismiss those years as “adolescence”.   My brother went on to teach doctors about drugs and their interactions internationally.  Experts are amazed at his command of the subject.  Others, though, lulled by their successful foray into rebellion with no repercussions, continued to rebel in other areas as well, and stayed wasted.

Wasted lives.

Are Christians perfect?  Hardly.  Many of them think they are because they don’t smoke pot or frequent bars..  But really, we’re all humans, tainted by sin and a propensity to flirt with darkness.  The devil is cunning and will twist God’s goodness to entice us away from righteousness.  Knowing this, do we dare go off our own way -to the other side of the laws He has explicitly given us-  effectively leaving Him in the smoky backseat until we come back with a lame excuse of “it shouldn’t be illegal anyway”?

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)  I have a hard time envisioning passing a bong around a room full of wasted dudes and sharing Cheetos as a way to bring glory to God.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

It’s not the herb or a particular thing that’s the problem.  It’s your heart regarding it.

Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away

It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray 
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade

–      Casting Crowns, “Slow Fade”

 

For another interesting article on this topic, see here.

 

Defiantly Definite

“Definitely” is one of my favorite words.  I’m a pretty serious gal and don’t “maybe” anything.   I like to define terms and think things through, no matter how seemingly trivial the issue.   It’s the little steps that define the path that eventually becomes the story of my life.  I need to definitely do it well.

So I chuckled at a “definitely” comment on Facebook the other day.  The writer intended to say that she would definitely check out the posted link further.  “Definitely” has to be the most commonly misspelled word on Facebook, so the presence of an “a” didn’t surprise me.  What struck me was that she actually said she would “defiantly check this out”.

That’s intriguing.

Have you ever defiantly done anything?  Oh, sure, teens are always defiant.  But rather than just sheer rebellion against authority, true defiance is a stance made in contempt of the adversary; it is an invitation to maintain my point in combat, if anybody dare to meet me.  That’s the gist I get from the three aspects of the word in my 1828 Webster’s.  Definitions make things definite.   Without definition, the rebellion is more stubbornness than stand.   Holding a hill you’re willing to die on makes defiance definitely heroic.

Maybe this whole thread struck me because I had just posted Tim Tebow’s public response regarding his “incessant use of Jesus Christ” in speech.  Tebow, who is the star quarterback for the Denver Broncos,  responded on ESPN that that’s who he is and why, and he wouldn’t shut up.  His relationship with Jesus Christ is everything to him and he would give glory where glory was due, every time.   That is a defiant answer.  And yet, while he drew a line and cemented his foot to it, he didn’t engage his adversary.  He just said, in effect, “Yeah – what of it?”  That’s strength of character.

It reminded me of something I saw my cat do once.  Kitty was big, as cats go: 22 pounds of solid, Siamese muscle.  But when my 85 lb. yellow Labrador ran at him one day, he didn’t flinch.  Right there in the driveway, he looked the dog in the eye and laid down precisely where he was.  My cat whisperer/veterinarian brother explained the body language to me:  essentially, he’s refusing to fight.  But he’s also refusing to give ground.  This is his real estate, and he intends to keep it.  The dog can stay and ponder, or he can leave, but the cat’s going nowhere.  There’s no use growling because Kitty’s said all he’s going to say.

That’s just plain awesome.  That’s what Tebow did, and where I want to be.

I can’t believe I actually thought twice about posting the letter.  What would my friends think of me?  Would they judge me to be a  fanatic, a Jesus freak?  My sanity broke in on my fears:  moreso than I’ve already shown myself to be? 

It boils down to one question:  Will I follow my Lord, or not?

What will I do today that makes any difference?  World changers don’t go with the flow and follow the 98%.   Scary as it is, I must defy the big, ugly dog that outweighs me fourfold and look him in the eye.  Definitely.   I must sit down and say, “This is not just what I believe, it’s who I am.  Take it or go home.”

I belong to the King of kings; I have nothing to fear.  He is also the Prince of Peace.  I will not make arguments or shoot every detractor down like so much alley cleaning.  I will simply follow the Man who’s proven to love me and love Him in return.  I will go where He leads me and stand defiantly, definitely on His hill.  I may find, like I did with the Tebow letter, that I don’t stand there alone.  That may not always be the case.   May God help the man who throws the first stone.

Remember, sinner, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee–it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee–it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that is the instrument–it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not to thy hope, but to Christ, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Christ, the author and finisher of thy faith; and if thou doest that, ten thousand devils cannot throw thee down – Iain Murray

God Provides

The drought is not letting up. I have never seen pastures lose all trace of grass and animals belonging to neighbors get so thin. I get regular emails from the horse rescue society about abandoned or donated animals that need help and there’s no room to take any more. The demand is high, and I have two acres lying fallow. Yet there’s nothing growing on my lot, either. I have nothing to offer.

Driving down the road today, I was struck by this cow. Well, I didn’t hit him, but the scene moved me. I live on the Chisholm Trail; this is cattle country. This is what it must’ve looked like in the post-Civil and Mexican Wars era when the men came home from fighting those battles to find their ranches blighted by drought. They just wanted to rest, but it was time to start the cattle drives. They had to get the cattle to market before they starved, because then the family would starve.

And just like then, God provided. While the economy sinks, my husband’s work has been steady. We’ve not gone hungry. And just to make sure we knew He loves us, He answered my daughter’s prayer for a dog of her own. We rescued a puppy that needed bottlefeeding, which was something my daughter had always wanted to do. This dog, which guards her night and day, gave birth to the answer to my prayer. I wanted a walking partner, tough enough to keep the yard clear of varmints, gentle enough for the kids to play with, and more devoted to me than to life itself. He gave me Jake.

The last thing we needed was another dog, another mouth to feed. But these two dogs have filled the hearts of the girls in this family when the outside world seemed so bleak. Often in the Bible, we hear Jesus say, “Fear not, for I am with you.” When the going seems really hard, and you cannot go any further, look up. For He is right beside you with a hand held out. For us, it looked like a leash – I don’t know what it will look like for you. All you need do is take it.

What I Do

A strange new light has appeared. I feel like this sunset that happened a couple days ago. Everything’s turned upside down and I like what I’m seeing, but I don’t understand it.

I find myself consumed by a need to organize. Now I’ve never been a messy person, but Grandma’s mantra about “a place for everything and everything in its place” just hasn’t worked in this small house. I didn’t notice until after we moved in that the builder apparently didn’t think closets were necessary. The inability to devise any sort of working organization scheme overwhelmed me. It overran my very being.

Until just the last couple weeks. Something, somebody, I don’t know what, inspired me to take control of my life. No more waiting for the world to come right. All of a sudden, I realized that the difference between what I see and what I want is what I do. What I do. Me. Why didn’t I ever grasp this before?

But something else is going on here. Cool gifts have come, totally out of the blue. My husband appeared last week with a beautiful, framed mirror which just fits in my entryway. A small stack of books from my favorite author came home in a discarded box. A lovely chest, the perfect size to house my oldest son’s treasures, was given to us just as he left. In the past, I’ve dreaded Christmas because I didn’t have space for anything more to come in. Now, each gift is so clearly from God and, like that mirror, brings new light into the dark corners of my world. That’s the only way I can explain it.

Is this God? You’d think, as a Christian, that I’d immediately spout grandiose praises of any blessings that come my way. I do know He is behind all this. But I’m human, too. I’m confounded by watching changes happen in me that I did not instigate. I watch the children get into yet another trivial argument and I want to throw up my hands and quit. But then I watch myself walk calmly over to them and handle them wisely. Who is this woman in the mirror? Where is her stress?

It’s just not there. Just like the toddler outbursts, it is disappearing before my very eyes.

Something else has become clear: even if what I do is small and insignificant, it is not worthless in the larger scheme of things. Every single positive move I make brings my world that much closer to goodness. And that is beautiful. It is the ray of light that originates with my Maker and moves out, one step at a time, until a glorious wake is left behind me, which in turn emanates outward to others.

I thank you, my beloved reader, for the ripples your life has washed into mine. They are no small part of who I am and what I do.

Godvision Goggles

My head has not been in writing this week. It’s been scattered, unable to concentrate on reading, even. Just as I convinced myself that I was hopelessly lost, we had a baptism and pool party with the church. The words that were spoken at that ceremony touched me, letting me know that it’s not all up to me. It’s not me that reaches out to God to beg salvation. Like a drowning man reaching for the hand of the rescuer, I’m merely accepting the outstretched arm of the one who sought to pull me from the jaws of destruction. He reached out first; I’m merely taking His hand.

That’s what I needed to hear. Sometimes it feels as though I’m sinking in a pool of my own making, and I have no clue how to escape. I pray that God would pluck me out and put me in a better situation. But Jesus said he didn’t come to take us out of the world (John 17:15); he came to give us a new perspective. He gave me godvision goggles. I can wear them on my forehead and look like a pro, but they work best on my eyes, protecting me from injury and putting the true hue on all I see.

The little stuff doesn’t bother me with my goggles on. They allow me to see more clearly than ever before what is going on around me and not be bothered by it. All will be well; I can relax.

But not too much. I still have work to do, and I must use my goggles for all they’re worth. So gently, as soon as possible, he puts me back in the water and teaches me to swim. First in a safe environment, and then in gradually more threatening situations, he encourages me to build strength.


I thank the Lord that He always girds me with the floaties of Scripture. As I gain facility with them and their properties become my own, I am enabled to stay afloat, even in rough waters.

False Evidence Appearing Real

My sweet Pips and I had lunch with an old friend today.  He calculated we hadn’t seen each other in 28 years.  Good grief.  I must’ve been 6 last time I saw him.  No wonder he said she looked so like me when I was younger…..

Anyway, we were discussing perceptions of each other when we were in school together.  He described me as shy.  I never would’ve used that word, but I definitely feared jumping into others’ conversations where I may not be welcome.  He recalled the feeling of never being accepted at the “in” table, which I also remembered clearly.  Then he talked about a girl we both knew, who’d confessed to him that she had feared rejection badly.  I had always thought she was arrogant and had avoided her accordingly.  I didn’t need her looking down her nose at me, since I was already nearing the bottom of the social heap.  I was really surprised, when I reconnected with her, how genuinely open she was.  And how much we had in common.  Others I never expected have welcomed me as a friend just as generously.

It struck me how we all gauged our relationships on fear.  Of the unknown, of uncertainties, of potential humiliation.

And once we got past the expectations and perceptions of high school, we could all be friends. It makes me happy I’ve chosen to homeschool.  My kids have no conception of peer pressure or expectations – because it’s not part of reality.  It’s only a construct in schools (and beauty shops.)  My kids, like most adults,  just like or dislike a person based on actual experience with them, not who they keep as friends or what they drive.

It also makes me happy I’ve grown up.  There are people I’ve known for years and feared being friends with for nothing more than a perception of who they are.  That is so wrong.  Everybody suffers when a potential friend is not realized or developed.

Growing up,  I was the only girl on my street, and I didn’t get a sister until I was in college.  I’ve had precious few female friends.  Which was fine for a while; it’s a lot easier to talk cars with guys than girls.  Only for the four years I lived in Las Vegas did I have a circle of female friends.  I missed them before we met, and I miss them again now.  But all the way through school, most of my friends were male.  My initial choice for my maid of honor was male.  I didn’t have bridesmaids; I had bridesbuddies.  No joke.

All this just to illustrate the power of perception and it effects on friendship.  Years ago, I was invited to a family party with a friend.  My family didn’t have parties, so this was a real treat for me.  It sounded like fun.  The minute I arrived, I met my friend’s grandmother and parents.  It flashed across my mind that I was not merely a friend, but a marriage prospect being considered by the elders.  I saw other friends I knew at this party, including the guy I went to lunch with today, but that didn’t change the perception in my mind.  I panicked and extricated myself immediately.  I don’t remember, but I may have walked home.   I never explained to my friend what happened nor spoke to him again.  While I’m sure he has not spent years pondering what he did to offend me, I’ve often wished I’d given him the benefit of an explanation. Because that’s what friends do, and I wasn’t one that day.

I was in the 8th grade when that happened.   Fear is a powerful force, and drives us to do stupid things.  It’s also not from God.  I desperately wanted family and friends, and yet when they presented themselves, I ran away.  God wants us in fellowship with others.  Anything that isolates us from humanity is not from God.  I thought about the truth of 1 Sam. 16:7, which was the theme of the book Pips asked me to read when we got home.  “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”  (It’s an Amish book, so the King James Bible was quoted.)

I am so glad I had a chance to talk with this friend today.  Fear will no longer rule the day.  Because perfect love casts out fear, and (I’m hearing a mantra I recite to my son) communication is key to every relationship.  I could have had many, many friends in school had I merely asked if I were welcome to join the group.  Because we all know how honest schoolkids will be.

Waiting patiently….

This is where I spend every morning, reading my devotional and my Bible, with the dog at my side.  It’s midnight, and they’re still waiting.

Probably why this was not the best day I’ve ever had.   I knew I needed to take my concerns to the only one who could do anything about them, but there was always a distraction.  The kids and I have been discussing watchfulness this week: being aware of spiritual attacks that come from unexpected places.

So this one’s short.  Because it is late and I have some catching up to do.

I am so thankful for patient, merciful friends!

(Day 38/365)