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.

 

Choosing Health

“NO, NO!! BAD DOG!! NO!!!” The words carried all the way through the walls of the kitchen into my shower this morning. The commotion had moved to outside my door when I heard another, softer, voice: “Ohhh, that was naughty. Outside with you now.”

Buddy’s at it again. Sure glad this pup is going to his new home today. He’s a nice dog, but he just cannot resist unattended food. My son lost only a small part of his bagel this time, but the other half had a mark where an attempt had been made on it, too. At five months old, Buddy is a big, sturdy mix of hound and who-knows-what, a heart full of love and a tummy that’s always empty.

I wish I had the same excuse – that I’m a growing pup with no self-control. That would be convenient. No, I definitely know better. I don’t need that bagel anymore than I need the extra dog, but when it called my name, all good intentions went out the window. I was focused on health today; colorful salads and smoothies were planned instead of breads. And yet one look at that abandoned half of a cinnamon raisin bagel, toasted with cream cheese on top, off center on its napkin where it’d been bumped during the heist – I was done for.

If the devil wore red tights and carried a pitchfork, we’d all recognize him. No, no…. he comes disguised in your favorite comfort food or those hot red pumps, luring you to drop your good convictions and sell your soul for a moment of indulgence.

And I do know better. I’ve been studying health and nutrition for 16 years now, and know far too much to allow something as silly as a white flour bagel to undermine me. You’d think. I’ve been learning more and more about how grains very quickly turn to sugars in the human body, useful as immediate energy but transforming quickly into those extra pounds on my hips if I don’t go running the minute I eat them. I’ve also been noticing how, if I eat bread, my belly almost instantly bloats. In two years of watching my weight, it’s gone up two pounds every weekend – when I eat out. A bagel for breakfast and a sandwich and soda for lunch on Sunday are all it takes for me to look like the Pillsbury Doughboy until Tuesday.

That bloat cannot be good for me. So, since soda’s not a huge issue for me – I can take it or leave it and I’m more prone to the latter – I’m focusing on breads. Should be easy enough. Yet the minute I dropped bread from the menu, my cravings for chocolate went completely out of control. I’ve never been able to give up chocolate, only switch to higher quality so the impact of fillers and sugar is lessened.

Now my reading took a scary turn. “In one study, when rats were allowed to choose either sweetened water or cocaine, an astonishing 94 percent of rats chose the sweet water. Even rats that were addicted to cocaine quickly switched their preference to sugar once it was offered as a choice.” (Mercola.com)

I’m up against a powerful force here. I can drop sugar itself in a heartbeat, but not chocolate. And my handmade artisan breads? Please don’t tell me that what I’ve so lovingly crafted, grinding and fermenting fresh wheat berries, kneading until my arms ache and then filling the house with that oh-so-wonderful aroma isn’t good for me and my family. But the reality is that I only get to that maybe once a month now; it’s the everyday sandwich and a chocolate chip cookie (or three) that is actually a shortcut to disease. I’m starting to have more empathy for my fellow man, who doesn’t appear to be fully aware of the dangers inherent in his lunch.

Grains cause low-level inflammation in many people (me) which is easily overlooked and a sign of the body’s struggle to cope with a problem which, if left unaddressed, will eventually turn into something more serious. Diabetes and cancer were rare diseases in my grandmother’s day. Yet their growth rate corresponds very closely to that of fast food establishments and sugary boxed cereals. What I see on my belly is an outgrowth of the standard American diet, overly reliant on corn and wheat – it is not fat, it is a major illness’s first symptoms.

Sugar, and grains turning into sugar, are in everything we eat. It’s obvious that I have no more willpower than this pup and am sucked into warm breads and chocolate chip cookies more certainly than if Scotty himself were beaming me. But every attempt I make at dietetic self-control points out again how very weak I am. Making whole grain Ding-Dongs from scratch may impress the kids, but it won’t kick my sugar addiction.

Eve doesn’t look like such a doofus anymore, taking the forbidden fruit from the serpent. I seek it out and prepare it myself.

I’m brought back to the very feet of God.

And then I came across the simplest, most basic factor in all my research. As a homeschool teacher, I’ve taught science, botany, and biology. Essentially, the way each cell works is to give up waste products in exchange for nutrients. If the exchange rate or route is messed up, disease or death results.

Wait, wait – “exchange waste for nutrients”? “Now [we] are the body of Christ, and members individually.” (1 Corinthians 12:27) In my relationship with God, I am always trying to make myself acceptable to Him, somehow cleaner, nicer, and more worthy of His work in me. Stay with me here – I’m thinking out loud. If we are the body, we are doing work in the physical world, becoming dirtied and used up in the process. That is the design. It is only as we exchange our waste for His purity that we are nourished to continue and grow. We must accept His life into our very being with nothing but trash to give back. It seems a crappy exchange to our materialistic minds, but it’s just another fact of life. This is how stuff works.

<pGod has surrounded me with nutritious foods designed to perfectly nourish my body. I need to take them, not the counterfeit packages of more industrial waste that men pawn off on each other. I need to turn away from the cookie and soda and choose fresh, whole foods in order to make an impact and go the long haul. This is His temple, after all. /p>

Dr. Stanley S. Bass took it one step further. “

Nowhere is the principle of forgiveness of sins more manifest than here – in our own bodies – when we forsake our evil and destructive ways of eating (the defiling of the temple of the soul). God (or Nature, if you please) gives us a whole new chance for a new glorious life.

All repentance must begin here in the body, through pure diet and natural foods. Then, just have faith, sit back and watch what happens.

If I will merely turn my back squarely on the grains and sugars until I break their hold over me – asking for His strength to do so – and seek out His best in food both physical and spiritual, I will be remade new and healthful.

Paybacks in Kind

If you want to see me write, hit my hot buttons.  But I was stumped this week when I was inspired to write (that was nice, wasn’t it?) and wanted to address the topic where it arose.  I attacked the issue from a secular standpoint.  Two solid days of writing, editing, rewriting.  Four complete rewrites.  I had to face that I couldn’t do it.  Without a common ground of values, there’s no convincing another of anything.

So much of our American experience is based on Christian values.  The Golden Rule and the melting pot idea both come from loving our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31).  Even though Christianity’s not PC anymore, our politicians speak of tolerance.  We’ve had freedom of speech and religion for over two centuries; what is it they want?   As we lose our faith in God and His law, which inspired all laws, we become man centered.  The law governing all men isn’t as important as the individual man.   Special people with unique circumstances deserve special consideration.  Mercy is requested.  According to Webster, mercy is “that benevolence which disposes a person to treat an offender better than he deserves.”  We don’t have to agree with others, we just need to see them as people like ourselves and treat them the way we’d like to be treated.

Uh-oh.  Back in Christian territory.  That sounds an awful lot like “Do unto others as you’d have done unto you.”  (Luke 6:31)  I can’t go there.  If I’m honestly going to do any convincing, it must be solidly on secular ground.  No floating back into my assumptions.

Be nice to others and do good because it’s right.  Hmmm.   What’s right, and what makes it wrong?  This is slippery ground.  There’s no legislating morality – thought control is hard enough, without trying to control an entire population’s thoughts.  Of course, it can be done with a good, solid tyrant to drum the people into doormats.  But they will still have something inside which knows the situation is wrong, dead wrong.   Where does that come from?  And why will that feeling of injustice grow until it boils over into a civil war?

As I studied mercy and why we should practice it, I saw something buried in the two-column-long definition.  “There is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy.  That which seems nearest to it is grace.  It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders.  Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.    ‘The Lord is long-suffering and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty.’ (Num. 14:18)”

Flip, flip, flip.  Grace….“free, unmerited love and favor of God, the spring and source of all benefits from him.”  Oh, good – we have the origin.  Oh, no.  God again.

So true mercy is not really possible without God’s grace pouring into us in the first place.   Grace is giving to others love and favor, regardless of what they deserve.  Mercy is giving it to someone who’s offended you: transgressed the line of right and wrong, which, without an overarching definition of good and bad, we cannot have.    Without a core belief in the righteousness of God, we are dependent on civil laws and authority to keep us all in line.  And, since we were asking for clemency from those laws in demanding tolerance in the first place……  I’ve lost what the argument was all about.  Secularists want tolerance and acceptance, to not be judged by Christians.  And the Christians, if they truly represent their God, are already giving compassion and love to those who don’t merit it.  Who’s not getting what they’re demanding?

Those who won’t accept God.  Those who want things their own way, demand special favor, but in doing so, trample everything they’re reputedly standing for in those around them.

I fully believe that every person on this earth has equal right to live, believe, and pursue his pursuits as he sees fit, just as I am doing.   Yet that belief alone – that all men are created equal – is itself a Christian concept, found in Acts 10:34.

So I find myself powerless to make my point, because my hearer has dismissed the only base which will hold weight.

The answer came just as I needed it (as it always does in the Christian experience), in a mass-forwarded email:

So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a choice:  Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do we pass up those opportunities and leave the world a little bit colder in the process?   A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats its least fortunate amongst them.

Who is the least fortunate?  The one with the least amount of opportunities or creature comforts?  Or the one with the least amount of compassion for his fellow man?  Wherever you land on that spectrum, do not judge another.  Not a one of us knows the path another has trod.  And the most frightening thing in this world, whether you believe in God or not, is the quintessential law of turnaround: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.   For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you.”  (Matt. 7:1-2)

In spite of all my stupidity and downright rebelliousness, God has been incredibly gracious to me and I can explain it no other way.   He has sent some of the most amazing people into my life – the mercy I’ve felt at their hands has changed me into something I was not just a few years ago.   I can see no other appropriate response than to give back to those who’ve blessed me richly as well as passing that favor on to the next person who is no more unworthy than myself.  I would encourage you today to look for the good.  Repay that.

A great poem I found:

The Waterfall

I have prayed about my judgmentalism for years.  My nit-picky attitude about how others handled situations didn’t win me many friends, but I couldn’t seem to stop armchair quarterbacking the actions of everybody I met.   I wasn’t a good friend.   There were no answers to my prayers for a long time.  Then, just in the last several months, I’ve been overwhelmed with the concepts of grace and mercy.  They are flooding my consciousness and consuming my thoughts.

In the midst of struggling with trying to write it down, my sweet little girl, in her new bathing suit, asked me to come see what she was doing and take a picture of her doing it.  I figured I could use a break.

This is what grace and mercy are all about.  Her  Christmas truck broke too quickly.  She doesn’t want to throw away the toy that she loved and had such high hopes for, so she has transformed it into all sorts of imaginations.  Today, when everyone was dripping sweat and her toy seemed discarded and forgotten in the heat of the day,  she ran cool, clear water over and through it, changing it from a lowly dump truck into a conduit of great joy and refreshment.  She loves waterfalls.  They are fascinating to us all.

Grace flows over our souls with streams of cool refreshment.  It restores our rightness in the world.  It inspires mercy for others who may have wronged us.  It frees us all to live again.

“As ye sow, so shall ye reap”

I really enjoyed driving next to this car this morning.  It purred like a kitten.  The back window was down, as were all the rest, and the older couple at the helm were happily chatting as they cruised.  I had a little trouble catching up.   It was when I did come alongside, though, that I saw the period cooler in the back end, no doubt packed with a picnic for later in the day.

So now for my thoughts:  it takes a lot of money to buy a new car every year or so, and it is not the most effective method of fiscal management.   I don’t have the skill necessary to restore the cars I like that are in my price range to what I would/could drive.   Maintenance.  Take care of it today and it will take care of you tomorrow.  Little spots become big rust if  habits are not in place to prevent them.

Routines are the most important thing I can implement to make my life easier.  With the habit of good food choices, my body lasts longer and I feel better.  With proper work habits, my career will go further and my home will be more livable.  Habitual grace will keep friendships intact.

And never, never give up a good habit once it’s instilled – it is an indentured servant that will serve you consistently without you ever having to think about it.

Life will get out of hand at times, though.  And when it does, restorations are still possible and good, even if they take a while to implement.  Steady, positive progress is the way to accomplishing anything good.

(Day 21/365 – Three weeks!  I’ve officially established a new habit of daily blogging!)

Solid Ground

What is reality?  Homes, cars and retirement accounts can turn into fleeting mirages when troubles come and you actually lean against them.  A rocky friendship, on the other hand, often proves solid ground.    So many things have dovetailed this week: a visit with a friend, another diagnosed with cancer, a church sermon, and a blog.  What is really important in life?  The questions that surfaced are basic, but answering them may be a lot more difficult than anticipated.

–  Am I really a child of God? Do I truly believe that God claims me and cares for me?   The Bible says Jesus was spat upon, laughed at, and then died for me.   Luke 4:29-30 records that Jesus disappeared from the people’s midst when they sought to grab him; He could have done that again if this were an injustice.  He said He did it for us. (Romans 5:6-8)  That would include meDo I really trust that He loves me, personally?     In other words, can I truly expect  answers to my prayers, or are they a routine morning mantra, like making the bed, that makes me feel good?

What have I built my faith upon? This is something I struggle with greatly.  Are my beliefs what I’ve heard and read from people, or am I letting the Bible speak for itself?  I find myself quite often reading a lot more about God than His own words.  John Piper, Charles Spurgeon, and Martin Luther are amazing resources, but they should be accents, not the main dish.  My faith might be sound, but if it’s not built on God Himself, the results will still be disastrous.

Who gets the glory for this thought, idea, action? This has turned out to be a great check for whether I’m building my faith on the right foundation.  I searched long and hard for the perfect dirt when we moved to Texas, so that I could raise all my own nutritious meat, fruit, and vegetables. My motives were good: organic food at the market is expensive and not always any better than its commercially produced alternative.  My family would not only be healthier, but it would maximize the money my husband brought home.  I sought out all there was to know about companion planting, weeder geese, goat scat fertilizer, and frost dates.  I recognize now that any produce from the acres I devoted to this would have been to my glory.  I got more food out of ten square feet of rock garden between my driveway and the basketball court in the Mojave Desert than I have ever scraped out of two acres of perfect soil here.    It took a lot of asking God ‘Why??’ before I received my answer:  “Who gets the glory for your provision?”  We’ve never gone hungry.

Am I following? In all my seeking of truth, I see that the Bible has set up an order of authority.  In ancient times, Moses reported to God, men reported to him, and more men reported to them.  The people at large were responsible to their appointed overseer from this group.  In the New Testament,  a similar flow chart is set up with Christ, the husband, and the wife.   Men are to lead their flocks with strength and compassion just as the Spirit shepherded Israel through the wilderness.  The authority trickles down, and women are to follow their earthly lord as though he were God Himself, since the husband is Christ’s appointed delegate.  But he cannot lead if I will not follow.

And here’s where it gets tough:  I despise being treated carelessly; yet how many times have I forgotten or disrespected Christ’s name, shaken my fist at Him – and continued to expect He will answer my prayers and provide for my needs?  Humbling, this.  When I was in high school, I was a member in good standing of my church every Sunday.  I partied and cussed the rest of the week.  And yet when an expensive, borrowed horse got loose from my grasp, I was on my knees begging Him to save me from this situation.  He did – (I told the story here) – am I willing to forgive and love as quickly as I was forgiven and loved that day?  My husband is human, just like me; he may not be ready to run to my side if I haven’t been by his.  I must ask myself:  if my husband led, would I follow?   Or would I require that he lead according to my wishes?  My duty before God is to follow, not to judge whether my appointed head leads righteously.  America’s military would go down in flames quickly if only righteous orders were issued or obeyed.   As wife, I need to obey cheerfully and let God hold him accountable for his leadership.

These questions and answers assure me of my soundness.  But I’m not all there is.  Some acquaintances once told me about a school library in Tennessee.  It was a solid brick building, with four steps up to the front door and basement windows peeking out below two stories of edifice.  The builders noticed within a few years that it was settling deeper into its place than anticipated.  The students I spoke to said that now, 100 years later, there is a slope down to the front door, and the first floor windows are at the level of the basement windows in earlier photographs. The building, which was built to last, is doing so, but its foundation in insecure; it will one day be lost.

Will I, like the library, stand strong and beautiful on my righteousness, only to sink for want of  the true Savior underneath?  Storms are very effective means to weed out the riff-raff.  Will I be weeded and burnt as chaff, or strengthened by constant exercise  for God’s continuing work?  I must know that His trials will purify and prove me, and that “all things work together for good”  (Romans 8:28).

What does this look like in real life?  In spite of well-laid plans, at dinnertime last week I found a key ingredient had not been purchased.   Plan B was devised and implemented while the children continued with their chores.  My husband never knew there’d been a problem when he arrived home.  This is God’s plan for us.   Trust and obey.  As we respond well to the monkey wrenches thrown our way, we are better able to support others struggling with flaming darts of their own.  We – I – must cheerfully accept that the Creator of the Universe saw this situation in advance and is using it to mold me into a capable steward of His Kingdom.

“I am able to do all things through the help of Christ, which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Acting gracefully

Prom night, 1983.  I was all ready, with my long, flowing periwinkle dress, matching sandals and beach-blonde hair fixed just so.  My date arrived right on time, and Mother called up to alert me.  I could hear them chatting in the living room, so I checked myself once more in front of the mirror, took a deep breath, and glided to the top of the stairway for my grand entrance.  I took two graceful steps in anonymity before my 4-inch heel caught on the carpet of the third, and I instantly lost everything.  I  did two complete somersaults down the open stairs, guided only by the wrought-iron rails on the sides.  I wasn’t even sure I wanted to extricate myself from the tangled mass of legs, gossamer, and humiliation I found myself under at the bottom.  Disappearing into the floor would’ve been preferable.  But the voices were still speaking:  “So, your husband built all this himself?”   “Oh, yes.  Well, all of us….”  I realized they were still looking out the window at our new patio and had never noticed my fall.  As though anybody could’ve missed what sounded like a small herd of hippos plummeting down the staircase!  But I was 18, and it’s easy to convince yourself of unreality at that age.  I jumped up, straightened my dress and ran a hand through my hair.  “Uh….  I’m ready to go!”

Only then did they turn around.  They both sighed in unison something like, “Oh, look how lovely she is!”  My date smiled,  took leave of my parents, and guided me down the walk.  Although my mother reassured me later that it wasn’t as bad as I made it sound, she’s a crummy liar.  He never let me off his arm all night.  I’m sure he was convinced I’d do it again in front of a crowd.  But he never said a word about it.

That was the epitome of grace, right there.   How many of us can overlook a fault, a misstep, or even a glaring error – and never look back?

I had thought I had that moment of infamy successfully buried in the basement of my memory.  I wanted all eyes focused on me for my grand moment, and it turned out a lot grander than planned.  I know if I’d been a sibling instead of myself, I never would have let me live that down.

So when the memory surfaced out of nowhere at 3 am, it was all I could do to contain my giggles.  I’m not sure my sleeping family would have found it nearly as funny at that hour.  But when you’re doing nothing else – might as well giggle!

Why did this memory come up after so many years?  I needed to see what grace was, and that it wasn’t being lovely or knowing which fork is correct.  It is giving to others what I’ve been given.

Grace is that ease and character that is devoid of ineptitude; it is also a reprieve from debt.  It is noticing others, but not taking note of their missteps, and being myself naturally while doing so.   One of the meanings in my dictionary says “a virtue granted by God.”  It would have to be.

Grace is an amazing gift.   Since Jesus’ death paid for our sins, we are now without condemnation.  We are effectively cleaned up, good as new.  It is grace that allows us to walk into His presence on Judgment Day as though nothing ever happened.   The shame of facing the Almighty God from behind my glaring selfishness would be a lot worse than the humiliation of looking my date in the eye from behind my exposed backside.   I can’t thank Him enough to be released from that.

But how can I thank someone for purposely overlooking my shame?  I know in social situations, I call attention to it if I say anything, but I’d still like to show my appreciation.  Moreover, how do I thank someone who’s been gone from this Earth for 2,000 years?

“Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”   Pay it forward.  Take my eyes off myself and notice others in their moment of glory.  Overlook their failings.  Care more about others than myself.

The very fact that I am sitting here is a gift.  I am indebted for every breath I take that would be better used by another more worthy.  But God wants me to utilize what He’s invested in my creation and development.   I just wish, in order to be made into the perfect crown jewel, I didn’t have to be thrown into the rock tumbler.  But that is the most efficient way to smooth off rough edges.  Tumbling down the stairs certainly took some of the brash off my attitude that night.  Selfishness and grace cannot coexist, and one must go.  Other forces of adversity have been used over the years, all with the same result: increased humility and respect of others.

So now I’m refined and graceful and we must put the rubber onto the road.  It’s not easy to overlook another’s foibles, especially if they affect me.  If I’ve actually been hurt, self-preservation kicks in before I know it.   But I am now called by Christ’s name.  Will I stand on my vow, come hell or high water, and show His grace, his face to those around me?  He calls me to a higher standard than I ever dreamed was possible.  I have to give up my desire to laugh and retell this moment with embellishments.  I see Noah’s sons, walking into the tent backwards with a blanket between them to cover their exposed, inebriated father, never mentioning the incident again.  This is God’s way.  And only when I follow His lead does His grace truly flow through me.  Now to show my acceptance of the gift.

How can I bless someone today?  And who will it be?