Saturday, April 28, 2007

**Liveblogging** S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y

For the first time in as long as I can remember (OK, that's not saying much), it's Saturday and I have no obligations to fulfill, no work assignments, no appointments, no social engagements. I've got stuff I should/could/would do...but if I did absolutely nothing the consequences would simply be a wasted day.

So what am I doing up at 5:53 am? Well, I've wasted enough days in my life already and I don't want this to be another one. Therefore, I'm going to "liveblog" the entire day and document what I do. To you it might be a tad boring, but to me it's a challenge. So check back often for up-t0-the-minute coverage of a day in the life of Aunt Judie!

**6:02a** Finished first post. OK, that goes without saying.

**7:32a** I realized as I was getting dressed that the reason I have nothing to do today is that I set it aside as a "catch-up" in preparation for going to Michigan for a visit. But the work reason for my visit was cancelled. Also, I usually teach a computer class on Saturday mornings, and this is our "off week" between sessions.

So far I've showered, dressed and done my morning study/prayer time. I'm studying a devotional called "Women of the Bible", and this week it's about Esther. Talk about God using unexpected people in big ways! I also made my bed...and discovered it must have been a while. I found four books and three magazines...yikes! Now I'm off to breakfast at one of my favorite spots. Not sure which one...I'll decide in the car.

**11:03a** Ended up at Butterfield's, one of those places that serves only breakfast and lunch. Which is appropriate, since I had the Monte Cristo sandwich and it was so big I'm having the rest for lunch. (By the was good, but not as good as yours, Carol!) After I got home I made two batches of cookie dough which is cooling in the frig. Now I'm off to the craft store for ideas...I'm making samples of wedding cookies for two customers.

**1:32p** Back from the stores...didn't find any new ideas for cookie decorating or packaging. This is the hardest part...coming up with the designs. Well, I think I'll take a break and watch a movie, which I haven't done for a long time.

**6:01p** Watched "Casino Royale". Not usually an action movie fan, but that was good! Then took a nap. Time to bake cookies!

**9:03p** Six batches of cookies and four loads of laundry...DONE! I think I'll watch another movie.

**11:55p** Well, with one pleasant interruption for a phone chat with my sister-in-law, I finished the movie "Braveheart" (which, by the way, is a chick flick despite the blood and gore) and find myself at the end of a pretty productive and fun day. Gotta be at church early, so I'll say goodnight.

Thanks for tuning in!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Unforgiven - Part V

Read Part I
Read Part II
Read Part III
Read Part IV

In 1933 a baby girl who would become my mother was born. I'll never know what made her the person she was when I knew her. But I'm pretty sure she did not purposely become an alcoholic. I know she did not have a childhood dream to someday abandon her husband and four young children. And she certainly did not intend to die at age 43.

She died thirty years ago, and it took over twenty years for me to forgive her. In all that time my unforgiveness did not hurt her one bit. It only hurt me and, in turn, caused me to hurt the people in my life.

Forgiveness is the only thing that can end the cycle of hurt.

There is a lot more to forgiveness, as far as achieving it in every situation and with every person or institution that has harmed you. You may find that you even have to forgive God Himself.

I spent (wasted) a lot of time being mad at God for my life. Why couldn't I have what other people had - two parents, my own room, a house in the suburbs, a fast metabolism and a yearning for veggies and exercise instead of donuts and television? Accepting my situation and seeing all the blessings in my life took many years, many tears and lots of prayer.

Still today I have trouble letting some things go. Just last week an old friend caught me bringing up an old hurt (a perceived slight, really). I tried to convince him that I wasn't bitter about it anymore, but he wasn't buying it. If I had truly achieved forgiveness for that incident I would not be mentioning it. He was right.

As I said earlier, forgiveness is simple but it is not easy. The "simple" part is to realize that unforgiveness only hurts you, not your enemy. Think about the grudges you are holding right now. Who are you hurting? If you forgive today, even if you don't feel like it, you would wake up tomorrow a different person. Try it with something small and see what it does for you. Then move on to something bigger.

The "not easy" part is to live in a state of forgiveness, every day, in every situation. It's a constant struggle. And you can't fake it, either. You can't say you forgive then still hold onto your will show in your words and actions. Ask God to help you see the truth and forgive completely.

We need to forgive others as God has forgiven us. It's for our own good.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Unforgiven - Part IV

Read Part I
Read Part II
Read Part III

Getting called nasty names by an old guy on the radio is one thing. How do you forgive a child abuser or a mass murderer? It helps to try to see the person through God's eyes. I can't say it any better than Stormie Omartian.

She had been forgiving her abusive, mentally-ill mother for years. It took a long time because her unforgiveness had been deep and needed to be "unraveled, one layer at a time":

One day as I was again asking God to give me a forgiving heart, I felt led to pray, "Lord, help me to have a heart like Yours for my mother."

Almost immediately I had a vision of her as I had never seen before. She was a beautiful, fun-loving, gifted woman who bore no resemblance to the person I knew. My understanding told me I was seeing her the way God had made her to be and not the way she had become. What an amazing revelation! I couldn't have conjured it up myself. Nothing had ever surpassed my hatred for my mother, except perhaps the depth of my own emptiness. Yet now I felt compassion and sympathy for her.

The Virginia Tech killer, Chevy Chase's mother and stepfather, Stormie's mother, my mother...they were all born innocent. They all laughed and played as children, they had hopes and dreams. They were made in the image of God, just like you and me.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Unforgiven - Part III

Read Part I
Read Part II

Acknowledging the pain is important, but it is only the first step. How do you leap from that to forgiveness?

You know how your parents would tell you to do things that are for your own good? Things you didn't feel like doing...finishing your homework, cleaning your room, going to the dentist? You knew these had benefits, but if it were your choice you might not have done them because you didn't feel like it.

Same thing with forgiveness. God instructs us to do it...whether we feel like it or not! Because it is good for us.

That's where there is a common misunderstanding of forgiveness. "Forgiveness doesn't make the other person right; it makes you free." (Stormie Omartian)

I read that the Rutgers basketball players have forgiven Don Imus for the awful names he called them. You know what this does for those ladies? It allows them to move on with their lives. And while Imus is surely grateful to have it, their forgiveness did not excuse what he did or benefit him in any material way...he still lost his job.

One of my favorite preachers is Joyce Meyer. In a recent TV show on forgiveness, she made an excellent point. She said that not forgiving is like taking poison hoping your enemy will die.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Unforgiven - Part II

Read Part I

Maybe Chevy Chase is not refusing to forgive his abusers. Maybe he wants to and he doesn't know how. Like a lot of things in life, forgiving is simple...but it's not easy.

Any one of us could sit and make a list of the wrongs that have been done to us...from real or perceived (doesn't make a difference) unfairness to the most unthinkable horrors. Call it a "Victim Resume". I have one. In the course of many years of searching for an answer to my weight problem and unhappiness (thinking the former caused the latter), I have written my Resume down - in detail - and in doing so was able to get closer to letting every item go.

For me the first step was acknowledging that all of the things on my Victim Resume actually happened, that they were wrong, and that they hurt me. I had to let myself feel the pain instead of swallowing it (food being my numbing drug of choice). My Resume was long, and it had some serious stuff on it. But just the act of writing about it, letting myself feel the pain and cry about it made a huge difference in my life.

There are several medical conditions which cause people not to feel physical pain - children who can have broken bones or serious burns without realizing it; diabetics who can have an infection in their feet and not know it until it is too late to avoid amputation. In these cases, not feeling the pain is certainly not a desireable situation.

Emotional pain is the same way. It might seem like not feeling the pain would be a good thing. But just like a broken bone or an infection, the damage of emotional hurt is not going to go away because we ignore is just going to get worse. Eventually, the damage is so great that it poisons every aspect of our lives.


Monday, April 23, 2007


The events of the last couple of weeks have caused me to ponder the subject of forgiveness. First it was the Imus thing, then the human destruction of Virginia Tech, and now Chevy Chase.

Huh? Well, I read this morning that the comedian Chevy Chase (Saturday Night Live in the old days, Fletch and Vacation movies) has revealed in an authorized biography that he was the victim of horrible physical and emotional abuse as a child. And he refuses to forgive his abusers:

"I always turn to it in my mind . . . I'll never forgive them. At their graves I didn't. It was too hard for me. You would think a grown man could shake it off, as the coffin was being lowered, to say, 'I forgive you.' I don't forgive."

I guess you can't really blame him. Just as you can't blame the families of the shooter's victims for hating the man who slaughtered their loved ones, or the basketball players deeply hurt by the words of a radio talk show host, who didn't know them and who they had probably had never heard of before.

But they are also missing the point. They misunderstand the purpose and nature of forgiveness.

In her excellent book Lord, I Want to Be Whole, author Stormie Omartian makes the case for forgiveness as one of the first steps of emotional healing. I am not familiar with what other faiths say about forgiveness. But as Christians, God instructs us to forgive those who have hurt us.

But why should we? The people who have hurt us don't deserve our forgiveness! Well, we don't deserve the forgiveness God grants us, either.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Every girl's crazy about...

...a sharp dressed man.

Guys, take it from me...and ZZ Top! There is just something about a man in a suit and tie, clean-shaved face, freshly-trimmed hair. Wowsa!

As inspiring as the service was for the importance of the occasion, being in church yesterday with all those men - who every other week are in polo shirts or even dress shirts with no tie or jacket - was a surprisingly lovely experience.

Unfortunately, I felt like Cinderella's ugly stepsister, since I hadn't bought a new dress for Easter and went to church in slacks and the same top I'd worn there a hundred times before. I won't make that mistake again!

Guys - and gals - when you have a chance to dress up, do it!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Loosen my fingers, Lord

This morning I was able to catch up on some of the reading that I missed during Lent because of letting myself get too busy with other things (and too lazy to get up early in the morning, my best time for reading and study). My bad.

Wow, I missed a lot of good stuff. The following is from a Lenten reflections booklet called "Stay With Us, Lord", by Father Robert Barron. The one that hit my heart and mind hard was called "In the Loop of Grace". I'll quote it in full (emphasis mine):

"While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him." (Luke 15:20)

This is one of the great metaphors in the Bible: God is like a father who gives and gives and gives. God's whole being is "for-giving". When we receive the divine life as a gift, we're meant to give it away. There's the trick. There's the heart of the spiritual life. What you receive as a gift - which is everything we have - give as a gift.

When you draw on the divine life and give it away, you get more. We exist in a kind of loop of grace: what's received is given, and when it's given away, you receive more. It's a basic biblical truth. Write it in your hearts: when you cling to your being, you lose it. When you cling to your gifts and your talents, you lose them. You have them and they multiply only in the measure that you learn how to give them away.

Tomorrow we shall rejoice in the glory of the Risen Lord. We will celebrate and feast and be glad that Lent, with all it's sacrifice and gloom, is behind us. But what will we take with us in the days ahead...those "ordinary" days between the two "biggies"?

What I hope to take with me is the renewed realization that my very life is a gift. And that even when I don't think anybody could possibly miss the gifts I neglect to share, I'll remember that those gifts are nothing if I don't turn around and give them to others.

What gifts are you hesitant to share? You'll miss them when they are gone.

Loosen my fingers, Lord, that I may be more willing to give away what I have received.

Father Robert Barron's web site is here. Check it out.