Bad Day Blues

I am having a bad day. 

It’s an accumulation of numerous things totally out of my control. Things have negatively impacted me to the point that I either want to scream or cry out of sheer frustration. But, because I am at work and will continue to be with my client until 9:30 am tomorrow, I do not have those outlets of releasing my frustration open to me.

I have been told, on the rare occasions that I vent online (in other words, I am frustrated because A, B, and C), that I need to “Love Jesus more,” “I need to learn more forgiveness,” or that “this is a time to practice love more.” 

Even when I try to describe what went wrong to someone in person as I try to work through it, I’m told to get over it, or that obviously that person or situation needs more prayer.

I don’t vent much. And when I do, I try very hard, even in my frustration to be focused on the situation, not the person.

So let me just lay it out there, when you are having a BAD DAY, having someone chide you for not loving enough does not make it better. It makes it worse. 

Especially when it has nothing to do with loving someone more! Or when it is someone ELSE who is the one who is harming YOU!

I sometimes think that as a society we have split people into certain categories. Group A can complain and whine and over dramatize every little thing. Group B has to be the one to always comfort and ask questions and NEVER show that you have a bad day and make sure to buck up. On rare occasion, you have Group C that can be fluid.

I’m tired of putting that blasted mask on. I have the right to be honest about myself. I shouldn’t have to hide. I have bad days and some days are HORRIBLE. Some days blend into a week and make you feel like you can’t see the light ever again. 

But: bad days don’t mean I stop loving my family, my friends, my church, or my job. Bad days don’t mean that I’m turning my back on God. Bad days don’t mean that I hate everyone. 

Bad days simply mean that things aren’t going the way I had hoped and planned for. It means that things and people totally out of my control are negatively impacting me. It means that the verbal abuse that I can usually shake off simply got to me this time. It means sometimes it is easier to focus on this little thing that is bugging me than blow up about the big thing that no one knows about. 

I want to tell you– it is OKAY to have a bad day! It doesn’t mean you are a horrible believer or person. It means you are HUMAN. 

Sometimes I have to remind myself of this truth.

But–it is NOT okay to abuse another person (or animal) because your day wasn’t as pretty as you had planned. It is not okay to ruin another person’s day with physical or verbal abuse. It’s not okay to emotionally destroy someone just so you can feel better. That just makes you a bully. 

It is okay to expect someone to listen. Sadly, in this day and age it’s hard to find someone willing. Especially someone is is willing to not say, “Well my day was worse so what do you have to complain about?” (I cannot tell you how many times this happens to me! I swear if I can get through my story without someone hijacking it with theirs it’s a miracle!) 

Most of the time I don’t want a solution, because there is no solution! I just want someone to listen. I want to release the pressure in the cooker that is my life before it explodes. 

I honestly think we all want that. 

I am frustrated. I am having a bad day. I don’t need to be chided by someone who has no clue what else I am dealing with. News flash–no one is perfect! 

I have hope that tomorrow will be better because I have faith in the One who is creating tomorrow. I have hope that my bad day or week doesn’t equal a horrible life. I have hope that things can change. 

I have love for those people who are frustrating me because I know a God who loves me despite how annoying I can be. And I know He loves them just as much. 

And guess what? I still think it’s okay to say you had a bad day! You can be disappointed when things don’t work out the way you had hoped. You can be frustrated that people have lied to you and still love them! Your job can make you want to pull out your hair and you still have the right to say you love it!

Do something to help you smile.

If it’s wearing crazy socks, do it. If it’s petting an animal or eating your comfort food, do it. If it’s binge watching a show that let’s you cry or laugh, don’t let someone make you feel guilty for it. Go for a walk, read a book, color a picture, build a model. 

Take care of yourself. 

It’s okay to have a bad day, just don’t let it make your life bad. 

You are loved. Never forget that.

Rape is Rape

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Enough is enough.
Society has failed the victims survivors of rape for way too long.
We have given leniency to those who commit this atrocious crime for so many centuries that it has become a part of our culture.
Just as the knee jerk reaction of our culture is to blame the victim of the rape for “allowing” the crime to be perpetrated against them to begin with.

This HAS to stop!

If an estimated 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men in the United States have been raped according to rainn.org, there is a serious problem. This is not accounting for the numerous men and women around the world who have also been raped. It also doesn’t include the estimated 80% of the 20.9 million men, women, and children trafficked around the world, who are specifically sold for sex (equalitynow.org)

First of all, in my opinion, we need to stop with the legal system’s language. Stop with the “sexual abuse,” “molestation,” degrees of “sexual assault.” It’s an attempt to prettily obscure the nastiness of the crime.

If person A forcefully uses person B in an attempt to find sexual release  (in any form) without person B’s expressed informed consent it is RAPE.

Child molestation needs to be called what it is- rape. I don’t care if there is any physical penetration or not. If you are using a child to find sexual release, it is rape.

If a woman’s or a man’s body is forced to to do any form of a sexual act (including oral, vaginal, or anal) as well as being forced to physically bring about release –it is rape. Even if the person is unconscious or too intoxicated to participate–it is rape.

Rape is a nasty four letter word we as a culture seem scared to use. If a person is willing to forcefully gain their sexual release, they are willing to rape. So let us not be afraid of calling them a rapist because it could irreversibly damage their lives.

They saw no harm in irreversibly damaging their chosen victim’s life, so why should we be squeamish in bringing them to justice?

Out of 1,000 cases of rape, only around 344 will be reported. And out of that 344, only 6 rapists will find themselves behind bars. Only 6 out of a 1,000.

And we wonder why so many rapes go unreported.

And if this Judge Persky who has let a young man rapist (Brock Turner) get off with serving only 6 months behind bars for raping an intoxicated unconscious woman behind a dumpster, does not realize he’s part of the problem, he needs to be held accountable for the next rape Turner perpetrates. Because he will.

Rapists are statistically proven to rape again. If they got away with it once, they are more likely to attempt it again. And now the Judge has given Turner cause to be released. And every single drunk college student has now been given a defense for their actions.

We already blame victims–women– for their rape. Our culture tells them that if they were in a certain part of the city, at a certain time, wearing certain clothes–well, of course they were going to get raped. They can’t be expected to actually be left alone and unmolested as they go about their day, right?

We are so twisted in our reasoning that we actually blame the victim rather than hold the criminal responsible. How has this happened?

The media and the Justice system have helped to heap blame upon the victims, and instead of rebelling against the status quo, we as a society agree with it.

Is it any wonder that so many rapes go unreported? Who would want to have their lives raked over the coals so all of society can blame you for your own rape?

Rape must carry a steeper penalty for the person who committed it. The victim will live with what happened to him/her for the rest of their lives. Why should a rapist have a lesser punishment?

Rapists tend to become more aggressive with every subsequent rape. Murder tends to follow. So, when they are released after serving the minimum, many rapists have been found to commit rape yet again or other crimes.

It should never be the victim’s fault for the crime committed against them. We tell children who have been forced into sexual contact that they are not to be blamed–because it is not their fault. What age does it become their fault? Because it sure seems to me that is what social media is telling rape victims. At least, if you are a woman. Because they should never drink, never dress a certain way, and never be out by themselves.

It doesn’t stop practicing Muslim women from being raped. Why do you think it would stop the all-American white man from raping a woman?

Rape is not about pleasure. It’s about control. It’s about feeling power over someone who is defenseless to stop you. Rapists gain pleasure from the power of the act, not the act itself. Rapists are bullies who use the most intimate act to exert power and control over their victims.

So. I put it in your court Society. When will you stop blaming the victim and call it like it is?

Forcefully using another person sexually through intimidation, torture, drugs, alcohol, or fear for the safety of others, for your pleasure is one thing and one thing only. It is rape.

When will you, Society, step up and defend the victim from the continual mental rape that you have been heaping on them?

When will you, Society, protect the women, children and yes, men, from rapists?

Stop back logging rape kits. Thousands and thousands of rape kits are sitting in storage because funding and man power aren’t available as well as no “viable” leads. Keep us safe. Catch those who cause harm.

Rape is not a lesser crime. Stop treating it like you think it is. Punish them to the full extent of the law and actually protect the public like you have been charged to do.

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For more information on statistics as well as to receive help if you or someone you know has been a victim of rape, please look at the website for Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network – rainn.org  or call 1-800-656-Hope

Humanizing our Demons

We live in a world ruled by fear.
We are constantly reacting to that fear.

We are taught to fear. We cling to stereotypes because it helps us feel safer. We are told to fear the unknown because it is out of our control. We think those who “look like me” are safe, so we demonize those who act, talk, worship, and dress differently.

We now know what to fear. We must fear the “Other.”

The Other.

The non-American (or whatever country you might call home).
The one who doesn’t speak MY language.
The one who dresses weirdly.
That one who prays differently.

They are the “Other.”

We consider them untrustworthy, violent, hate-filled, unschooled, and barbaric. We throw labels at the unknown and wish to believe that everyone who is like the “Other” falls into those labels. We want to believe that the stereotypes are real.

But, heaven forbid, if they dare attempt to label me as “Other.”

It always baffles me when people get offended by stereotypes that they themselves use. I’m not saying that stereotypes and labels are good, not by a long shot. But, we as humans are delusional if we think we can use these “tools” with impunity and not expect to have them thrown back at us.

We need to humanize our demons. Or, more correctly,  what we have deemed to be our demons. The boogeyman that haunts our ideal world. The simple fact of us not trusting those who look and act differently than us.

In our actions of demonizing a culture that we don’t understand nor make any attempt to understand, is in fact demonizing US to THEM. We become the demons of their fear.

Honestly, how can we expect the world to care for the blight of a people group, if we cannot even care to shake the hand of someone who looks nothing like us?

Because we fear, we attack a person rather than an ideal.

The reason I started to think about this, is due to something that really should not have been news. It should have been common decency, but instead it went viral.

A man in the UK made the decision to sit next to a woman in full Muslim garb on a crowded train.
The reason this is so important is that on that packed train, people were making the very distinct decision of refusing to sit near this woman. There were empty seats around her. People were standing because they were choosing to demonize a woman with the stereotypes that have been put on her religion and culture.
This man on the other hand, vocally denounced this demonization by saying, “I’ll sit here!” Even though no other words were exchanged between them for the ride, this man declared that woman as “human” despite the actions of others.
When that woman got up for her stop, she supposedly said a whispered thank you to the man who ignored the mob mentality and rose above it.

This should not have made the news! But, it did because of how rare it is in today’s society for someone to go against the group and against fear based hatred.

What do you think Jesus would have done if he was on that train? Do you really think that he would have been standing in the group of people attempting to ignore the covered woman?

We want to believe that what we know is right. That nothing can be wrong with our stereotypes. That these ‘safe’ labels are truth. And that no one is harmed by them, but rather protected.

It’s time to start humanizing people again. No matter what religion a person professes, they deserve to be seen as human. When we place labels on someone, we remove our ability to see them as human. We no longer see them as a child made by God. A child that God loved so much that he sent his Son to die on a rough wooden Cross to save. We no longer see God’s love when we look at those who we refuse to see as human.

While drastic comparisons are sometimes hard to swallow, it’s also easier to point to instances that have gained historical perspective: One of the most effective actions of the Nazi regime was to dehumanize their enemies. The Jewish people were seen as lesser, in some propaganda they were equated to rats.
The same thing could be seen in the slave trade. Beasts of burden and the lesser race were all labels placed on the kidnapped Africans. These are the same labels that are being placed upon those pressed into hard work under atrocious conditions even today.

We live in a world where placing labels on others gives us power. It makes us feel a pseudo safety that disappears like vapor when people refuse to cave under the pressure of the stereotypes.

In many ways, when we dehumanize others we are in effect demonizing ourselves because we deny the image of God in those we are dealing with.

When we refuse to release our labels and assumptions regarding someone else, we devalue them. We make them lesser in our eyes. We become elitist in our ideals.

We also make it easier to not reach out a helping hand when they are in need. We don’t see them as worthy of our time and money. They don’t belong.

Sadly, the stringing our safety nets of false thinking can devalue the personhood of another person so much that we find their deaths to be acceptable.  Perhaps slightly sad, but to be expected because they were “Other.”

It is much easier to kill someone who is nothing like you. To kill a person who is so vastly different from what is considered safe, is easier than realizing that he is just a man who works hard to provide for his family. Or she’s just a woman who is worried about her mother who is in the hospital.

It’s time to start seeing God when we look at each other. It’s time to start humanizing humanity again. We must not let fear rule us.

The world is only going to change when we start seeing that something worth fighting for, can be found in the eyes of a stranger.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind.
~~ 2 Timothy 1:7

Christians, Be Careful What You Say On Facebook

Very well written and something I agree with fully. We are called to love and not condemn. It is only through God’s love that anyone can truly change. We all have sins we don’t want discussed, but remember –God hates ALL sin equally. That includes gossip just as much as perversion of the flesh.

Please read this article and always remember — people are watching and judging the God you love by your actions.

Christians, Be Careful What You Say On Facebook.

Eternal Water

May 4th, I was honored by the chance to lead the Youth Fair’s Sunday service at the fairgrounds. I was wracking my mind for something to talk about. I had a week’s notice to come up with a minimum of 15 minutes of talk time.
What in the world would I talk about to a bunch of kids and their parents?
God’s sense of humor took over.
It was the week that we had a torrential downpour for three or so days in a row. We’ve had it before, we’ll have it again. It truly wasn’t that a big of a deal, it’s just the way people react to it. Plus it made the fairgrounds a lake where they nearly had to swim their animals from their stalls. 4Hers were digging trenches in the thick sawdust to try and divert the rain so the animals wouldn’t have to stand in the water.
So, what idea hatched in my mind that week and couldn’t be forgotten? The power of Eternal Water.
yep. God was laughing.
What follows is basically my talk, much to my audience’s amusement:
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This week I had a song go through my mind over and over again, Tenth Avenue’s “Love is Here.” If you haven’t heard it, they take a verse from Isaiah 55 which says “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!”
Then the thought came of how very blessed we were in this nation that we never have need to thirst.clean-dirty-drinking-glass

In a world where 780 million people – that’s 1 in 9 people, lack the ability to get clean water in developing countries- Americans are extremely blessed.
In a world where women will walk up to six hours a day, to gather a ten gallon bucket of what MIGHT be considered clean water, we just have to turn on our faucets.
Where little girls are taken out of school to gather water, our girls just have to grab a bottle of water that they rarely finish.
Where a large slum city uses less water a day than what we waste in one of our showers. 3.5 million people die every year due to the lack of clean water and America is considered one of the most dehydrated countries with 75% of the population suffering from Chronic dehydration.
We are a nation greatly blessed by an over abundance of water, and we don’t drink. We chose to fill that thirst with sugar, caffeine, alcohol and false energy. We mask life giving water with stuff that doesn’t help us, but can actually harm us.
In a nation that if we are thirsty we just have to go to the sink, where even if there is a drought, there is still water to drink, we are so blessed but we ignore it.
We are blessed as well with living water. We have the ability pick up a Bible in our language at nearly any bookstore or supermarket. We can download it on any mobile device or computer in seconds. But we don’t read it.
We fill up on reality tv, and celebrity gossip. We can spend hours on end playing a violent game on our xbox, but we can never find the time to drink the life giving water of the Bible.
In a world where millions will never hear or read the Scripture in their language, we are blessed. We can choose our translation and our version, but we rarely spend time diving into the words.
We choose to believe what someone says about God’s word, rather than reading it for ourselves. We give away our God given right to know his word, because we are too lazy to read them.
We are given healthy, fresh, healing, life giving water to drink, and we pour it out instead.
Jesus echoes Isaiah in the story of the woman at the well in John 4, but shows that he himself is the true living water– When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

We can choose what we want to take into our bodies—dirty water or clean water.
We can choose what we read and watch that affects our spiritual body- the Bible or anything that is not glorifying to God.
Will you go thirsty? Or will you drink deep of healing water that can give you eternal life?
The choice is ultimately up to you.
If we live in a world where people will walk miles to sit at a reading of the Scriptures, in a language that many of the audience won’t even understand fully, while we use our free Gideon Bible to prop up a table, ultimately it is us who will go thirsty while they drink deeply of Jesus’ presence.
The choice is: will you choose a relationship with the Loving, Sacrificial God who died so that you could fill your soul with delight or will you choose to fill your time with false joy watching Keeping up with the Kardashians or playing Call of Duty?
Take in good and never thirst again.
or Take in bad and be constantly looking for more.
choose.
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(And now, this next Saturday I have the honor to speak to the ladies of my church at a special Ladies’ Tea. Attempting to figure out what to speak in regards to Psalm 90:17, so I’m sure I’ll have something up here regarding that talk soon. God keeps giving me great opportunities to speak of him, and I stand amazed at every chance he gives me!)

You will know them by their love

 Brant Hansen (Air1 Christian Alternative’s DJ) really got me thinking the other day when he was commenting on a church that was picketing a Skillet concert. 
I’ve looked for the quote because I don’t want to misquote him, but sadly I was unable to find it. (So if anyone else heard it, please let me know!)
So from my memory: he was talking about how the leader of the group was yelling at those who were lined up to get into this Skillet concert. Skillet is a well known Christian rock band that has a rather large fan base. The leader was being downright cruel from my understanding. He was supposedly saying something about if you believe in a merciful God you don’t believe in the real God. That he is above the need for grace. 
I’m not even going to comment on how bad his theology is there, because that isn’t what caught my attention, or obviously Mr. Hansen’s since he is the one who was talking about it. 
This leader was raging against the people who were going into the concert and the people who were preforming. Numerous concert goers tried to stop the group by telling them how badly they were representing Christ to those who walked by, which just made the leader get even more belligerent. The lead singer John Cooper came outside and walked up to the group, and started passing out water. As Mr. Hansen reported, the leader asked what are you doing? 
Supposedly, Mr. Cooper said, “Well, I’m supposed to love my enemies and since you want to make yourself my enemy…” 
Mr. Hansen (as well as many of his listeners who called in) was struck by the grace that Mr. Cooper showed at the moment of tension. 
Mr. Hansen then put forth a question that has really struck me and I’ve been forced to mulled over it for the last week. “Why do we assume this ‘church’ is Christian? I saw no representation of Christ shown during their protest. So how do we know they were Christian?”
It was an interesting idea. We too often assume that when we hear ‘church’ that the people consider themselves affiliated with the Christian religion. Yes, they might truly have called themselves Christian, but the issue here is were they acting as representatives of Christ? No. 
There is a hymn written in 1968 called “They’ll Know We Are Christians” where they echo an oft repeated thought through out the Scriptures. They will know we are Christians- followers of a loving sacrificial God- by our love. By our own actions we will be known. 
With the recent death of Westboro Baptist Church’s former leader, Christians seem to be rejoicing over his passing. Another Air1 DJ commented on this by saying, “Here’s the dichotomy; By celebrating his death like, “Woohoo! He’s gone!” we’ve just reduced him to a symbol versus of what God created in His image! And by celebrating it, we’re actually participating in the very same thing that made him infamous!”– Ashton (from Air1’s Facebook page) 
We become no better than those we mock when we rejoice over a sinner’s death. We become no better than those very people who rejoiced over a solider’s death and picketed over it to make a political/religious stand, and who seemed to enjoy the family’s tears and anger. 
I saw it play out on Facebook during the Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein’s captures and deaths. We rejoiced over the death of a sinner, who as far as we know, never became right with God. How can we participate in that misplaced joy?
I need to keep my mind on what Christ said- Luke 6:27-36 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”
Or like Mr. Cooper did, love them enough to give them water when their throats are dry from ridiculing you and your own actions.
How are my actions today representing Christ in his loving sacrificial glory to a world that does not know him? Maybe not as well as they should be. 
Do I act like a Christ follower when I react to people I don’t agree with? 

Crooked Crowns

I am the daughter of the King,
 but I feel like the prodigal son who hasn’t come home.
I was gifted a crown and a throne,
but I cling to my dirty rags and sit in the garbage pit.
I was given power from the hands of the Most Divine,
 but I think my own power is better.
I was forgiven of all my sins, my dirty little secrets, my hurtful digs,
but I refuse to forgive others and cling to my bitter grudges.
I was encouraged to pray for more wisdom and faith so that I might mature,
but instead I use my Father as if he is a genie in a bottle for unneeded desires.
I was given the sword of the Spirit, sharpened with the Word of God,
 but instead I sharpen my tongue on those who are defenseless. 
I was told to go out to bring other lost children back to their Father,
but instead I hide behind my doors, behind my friends, in my comfort zone.
I was told to live sacrificially with a true selflessness,
but instead I count the pennies I give out, wondering if I absolutely have to give.
I was told to speak truth,
but instead I spread gossip and lies along my path.
I was told to love my neighbor no matter whom they might be,
but instead I hurry to the other side of the road and buy into false stereotypes.
I am called adopted child of the Most High God,
and I forget the grace that comes with that calling.
I was called to a life of mercy because I was forgiven,
and I forget to tell all of that gift that is just waiting for them.
I call myself Christian,
and I forget the duty that is placed upon that name.
I am a child who sits on a throne too big for me,
a crown that sits a little too crooked on my ego filled head,
I’m a forgiven sinner who clings a little too much to a hate filled world.
I feel as if I’m an impostor to the throne even through the adoption papers were signed with blood.
I still see the blood on my hands even though I was washed clean in the purist water imagined. 
I am a human in all the frailties of my soul.
Split in two, my heart wages war.
To seek the divine or live a falsehood.
The war wages and sometimes righteousness win, but too often the Devil has his due.
My crown is crooked, my feet don’t touch the ground.
I’m a child of God called to rule.
He has my soul, but the Devil has his poisonous claws within my flesh.
Sometimes I’m just a little girl playing in the Queen’s closet.
Forgive me when my scepter slips, help me hold it up.
Forgive me when I don’t represent my King in the best light,
because I’m still just a little girl needing to mature.
Here I sit on a throne too big, with a crooked crown,
still needing to learn on the lap of Most High King.
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