Nov 19

The Taming of a Pharisee, Part 6 (Pharisee Games)

Bus-19881So there I was, minding my own business—a husband, two little girls and a life busy enough to keep  thinking down to a minimum. The idea that I might be misrepresenting the love of Jesus to a hurting world didn’t bother me one stinkin’ bit.

Let them eat cake. Or figure it out for themselves. Or show up at church and peel off the top ten percent from their paychecks like the rest of us poor church slobs. Whatever.

I just wanted them off my doorstep.

Playing Pharisee Games

You may have noticed I’m not talking much about sin. There’s good reason for that. I figured out long ago sin isn’t the only thing keeping us from Jesus.

Sin is a condition, like dandruff or the heartbreak of psoriasis. Only it’s something we all share. And because it’s so common, sometimes we don’t notice anymore.

Sins are things we pick up to beat ourselves with, then turn around and beat everyone else. It’s the selfish things we do to make ourselves feel better at the expense of others.  It’s the things God hates because it damages our soul and He loves us so much, He doesn’t want to see us hurt.

 Pharisees, on the other hand, are very fond of sin. We catalog and sort. We point out the sins of others and feel superior in the process. We pick out the biggies and tell folks to straighten up and  they’ll be fine, only we know good and well they won’t. We hand them a list of requirements for living the proper Christian life and let them drown while we come up with a new list.

Not once in the gospels does Jesus pound on sinners. He eats dinner with  prostitutes. Hangs out with the longshoremen. He makes friends with the IRS. When I woman gets caught in adultery, He refuses to carry out the penalty. He says, fine. Let the one here without sin throw the first rock and when He winds up being the only one left, He tells her to just go on woman, and cut it out already. Real tough.

Jesus loves sinners.

Pharisees tend to piss Him off, bigtime.

The Wages of Sin

The biggest problem with sin, both ours and others? It seperates us from a loving Father and pays out dividends for decades. Things like pain. And shame. And anger. And fear.

We need forgiveness. We need a whole new birthday.

Simple really.

Pharisees want to complicate things. We strap burdens on others we can’t carry ourselves and make-pretend we’re Hercules if anyone’s looking. Instead of introducing people to the One who pardons the guilty, who can fix broken hearts, we tell them how to live the Christian Lifestyle—

  • Find yourself a church (ours preferably)
  • Attend every time the doors open no matter how tired you are, no matter how many hours of overtime you worked last week
  • Open up your wallet and start paying out (ten percent, off the top)
  • Teach Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, sing in the choir, lead worship
  • Listen to the pastor ‘cause he’ll surely get around to addressing your issues… from a nice, safe distance, in a year or two.

So hurting people buy some church clothes and sit on the pew, holding their boxes and wonder what on earth they’re doing there. The Pharisees sit on the other side of the church with all their church friends and pray the messy people with their messy pain don’t ask questions they can’t answer.

It’s Not an Excuse But…

We all tend to self medicate—drugs, alcohol, relationships, shopping. Anything to fill the empty places. My drug of choice was religion.

He didn’t like it much.

He decided He wasn’t having it anymore.

What Are You Doing Here?

By this time, I’d played the game long enough and loud enough I believed my own press releases. Pain? What pain. I had a wonderful childhood. Whoever that was hiding in the closet for two years, it wasn’t me. I was Super Christian, able to attend multiple Bible studies in a single week. More powerful than a sack of wet Baptists. Able to leap hurting seekers with a single shrug.

So why was I crying on the couch every night?

Might have something to do with Jesus showing up in my living room  whether I wanted Him to or not.

Put the kids down for a nap and dadgumit, there He was. The hubby heads out the door to work the late shift and I’d settle in for an entire night, all by myself with Magnum PI and BAM! There He was, sitting in the living room, ready to talk.

I didn’t want to talk.

I did the next best thing.

I avoided.

And became more religious. Yes, it was possible.

If He kept showing up that way, I figured I must be doing something wrong so I cranked up the juice. I read my Bible thirty minutes instead of fifteen, quit watching television altogether, starting sending an extra ten percent off to orphans and evangelists (that’s a total of twenty percent of the gross if you’re keeping count.) I quit wearing pants and wore only ugly clothes bought at Goodwill as everyone knows ugly clothes are much holier than pretty ones.

If nothing else, I’d run Him off having to look at me.

But He stayed.  He would not let up. And I couldn’t quit crying.

At some point I don’t even remember anymore, I decided I had to take care of myself, only I couldn’t and didn’t get the memo.   Jesus showed up like the cavalry, ready to scoop me up and kiss away all the pain. Only I was busy pretending nothing was wrong.  That box was staying shut if it killed me.

So, He let me hang on awhile longer. He started pointing out all the other folks running around, holding onto their boxes.

So many boxes, so much pain, nobody getting better.

Then He had the nerve to tell me I was religious.

Nov 15

Taming of a Pharisee, part 7 (or… Jesus has His Own Plan)

Jesus does not play fair.

I’m not bitter mind you—just stating facts.

The Buttering Up Phase

First, He shows up and hangs around, looking good, not saying much. Pretty soon, you get accustom to having Him there so you engage in a little conversation. It usually goes something like this:

You’re hanging around an awful lot.

I am.

You want something, don’t You?

No, just enjoying this nice comfy couch.

That couch died ten years ago. Even deity can’t be comfortable on that thing.

(bounces a little) Mighty nice… you could sit next to Me if you want.

I’m good over here.

Missing a real treat (bounce, bounce, grin)

At which point, Jesus gets ignored for the rest of the evening.

This goes on for some time until finally one night, He doesn’t show. You refold the towels a dozen times, scrub the sink until the porcelain flakes off, then head over to the couch to pout.

And BAM! there He is.

You missed me.

Not really.

I saw.

Maybe a little.

Want a hug?

Yes please.

Now hugging takes getting use to. You’re not accustomed to His touch, you’re still half expecting Him to bring up that weekend in Aruba or ask you to go off and be a missionary in some country without indoor plumbing.

So He waits.

What you can’t see is Him rubbing His hands in glee behind your back, or front, or something because you are this close to being right where He wants you.

Want to hug me again tonight?

What I’m here for. I was thinking we might throw in a little something extra.

Oh my! What was that.

Unconditional love. Haven’t felt that before, have you?

Mmmmm…

Like it?

Mmmmm…

How about a little peace? Maybe a touch of joy?

By this time, you are slobbering over with all sorts of good feelings.

Shame really.

The Set Up

(Shows up thirty minutes later than usual)

Where have You been? I’m dying over here.

You’re not dying, you just love Me. (Commences loving-up maneuvers)

Hmmm… You’re right, I love You.

Feels nice doesn’t it? Haven’t had much peace these last fifteen years.

Very nice.

Not much joy either.

Not much. (drool)

I can do something about that, you know.

Okay.

How about you let me handle things from now on?

Okay.

At this point, you are toast. Go ahead and sign over the farm Louise, you are a goner.

The Trap is Sprung

Only Jesus doesn’t just take it all right then, He drags things out awhile. One night, He shows up and the conversation goes something like this:

You know how much I love you, right?

Hmmmm… I love you too.

And if I asked for something, you’d give it to Me, wouldn’t you?

Dadgum right.

Anything?

Anything at all, You can have everything.

How about that box over there?

What box? I don’t have any boxes.

That raggedy old box in the corner. I’m needing me a box for manna and stuff.

(raises head, looks around, can’t see straight.)

(love, love, love)

Anything—You can have all my boxes. (slobber, drool)

Sure about that?

Yes, positive.

(secret grin over head)

You want anything else? I could crawl over broken glass or something.

No, I’m good.

How about some flagellation? Whip my back raw, just for You…

(whispers) You wish you were getting off so easy…

And that, my friends, is how you get hit by the Jesus Bus and lose your box in the process. Because the next thing that happens, the very next thing,  He shows up and you don’t get a hug and He’s got your box on His lap.

Hey! You’ve got my box!

No, actually this is my box.

Looks like mine.

You gave it to me, remember?

No way!

(runs  hands over box, rattles lid a few times) You gave it to me last night.

I wasn’t in my right mind.

Looked okay to me. Sounded fine too. A little slobbery maybe but given the circumstances…

I want it back.

No takebacks. Besides, I like it.

This is so not fair.couch

You love Me remember?

I’m pretty sure You cheated.

It’s mine now and once I get it all cleaned up, I’ll fill it with all sorts of nice things. For now, you’re going to have to trust me.

Lovely.

Now come on over here and we’ll look inside together.

(crosses arms)

I can’t give you peace from that far across the room.

You can, You just won’t.

(wiggles eyebrows, pats couch, looks cute)

But here’s the thing. The woman learns she can trust Him. Yes it hurts but she doesn’t die which is what she secretly suspected. He doesn’t take everything out all at once and He doesn’t smush her face in the refuse.

Sometimes He shows up without the box and talks about world peace. Sometimes He shows up with the box and leaves it sitting in the corner. He asks her what she remembers, takes her heart all gentle-like in His big hands and heals all the broken places. Sometimes, He opens it just a crack—and shows her that He was right there, all the time.

He gives her back her smile and her feelings and her tears and her sense of humor.

He redeems her box.

And now, twenty years later, the box is finally empty.

Not sure what He’s using it for.

Maybe I should ask tonight.

Oct 26

Taming of a Pharisee, Part 2 (or… A Seven Year Old Sinner Meets Jesus)

The Part Where the Girl Meets Jesus:

Remember the hell from yesterday? At some point, I figured out I was going there.

In first grade, my Sunday School teacher taught her room full of tiny terrors the sinners prayer and I understood mighty fast I qualified. I told lies to keep from getting in trouble. I stole pennies from my mother’s change drawer and bought secret stashes of candy from the Stop and Go. I said mean things to the other kids on purpose.

I felt icky inside from all my badness and consequently, a fear clamped around my insides that I was going to die before God got around to hearing little me, cowering in my bed every night chanting that prayer over and over. After all, He was very big and I was very small and He had more important things to do. Who knows how far down on that list my name might be?

So every night, I arranged my pillows just so, one on either side of my body. I put my hands on the sides of my  neck so burglars couldn’t strangle me. I lay face down so no one could smother me with a pillow. I scooched w-a-a-ay under the covers so I might be mistaken for an extra pillow. And every night, I prayed like crazy.

Laying there one night in my tiny little prison, Jesus showed up. Don’t  go telling a seven year old He didn’t because He surely did. My insides lit up, all the black ickiness went away and I knew I belonged to Him. I put my pillows back where they belonged, rolled over and went to sleep.

I didn’t think much about God again for five years.

That would be the point where the hippies started  looking mighty good.

Oct 20

The Taming of a Pharisee, Part 4 (or, The Start of the Dark Years)

Sometimes a heart breaks over time, a piece falling out here and there.

I remember the day mine fell on the floor and shattered in a million micro- bits.

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First Love

When I entered this world kicking and screaming, three beautiful faces smiled down on one of the ugliest babies on record.

Early on, I thought of them collectively—like a giant three headed gift of joy. Three set of arms to hold me, lots of kisses on chubby cheeks. But soon, they separated into distinct love-toys for my tiny amusement.

Milton Junior—my Moo Moo. The oldest of the tribe and most handsome male ever to walk the planet. Gentle, kind hearted.  He held me close and I still recall wrapping baby arms around his neck. When he rode away on his awesome chopper at eighteen, my nine-year-old self grieved for months. In fifty years, he’s never spoken a harsh word to me.

Picture: Left to right: John, Milton Jr. , James with me at 3  down front in 1964.

James Ray—smartest boy ever  with an IQ flying off the charts and a guitar to rival Bob Dylan’s. His patience with a little sister stands uppermost in my memory. He wrote poetry, sang songs to break your heart. He didn’t mind a pesky little girl watching over his shoulder for hours on end while he worked out the chords on new song or glued little pieces together on his latest model car.

John Max—bundle of energy, always throwing a ball or racing his bike.  He sang loud and off-key. Even my baby ears knew but  how I loved his voice.He tended to break things—like fingers and arms. I worried about him constantly.

Dad was busy with the congregation, running for city council and flying airplanes. My brothers were my heroes. They stabilized my world. I learned to tell time by watching the clock, waiting for them to come home from school. I wanted to be Elvis so I could be cool like them. When they laughed and told me I was a girl, I gave up and decided to marry Milton.

Even at four,  I knew you couldn’t marry all three.

The Times, They are A-Changing…

It was the sixties. Brothers grow up and leave home, come back for awhile and leave again. Parents whisper and worry. I waited for their visits like Christmas morning.

It didn’t matter what my brothers did, I loved them like crazy.  As far as I was concerned, they could do no wrong.  I fretted over them like a tiny rat terrier. I wanted them to quit smoking so they wouldn’t die of cancer and go to hell but otherwise, whatever they wanted was fine by me.

There was lots of hand wring amongst the adults. I missed the two oldest who’d gone off to be hippies in Southern California. I fought with John, made fun of his wig and ratted him out when he smoked cigarettes and cursed.

And then, Mom said James was coming home to stay.

Some Things Just Aren’t Fun

I ran to his room, bumping over to see my gentle brother again. I found a stranger sitting on his bed, playing his guitar.

What the hell are you looking at?

I ran away.

I didn’t stop running for years.

The scene plays over and over in my mind  four decades later and I still don’t have an answer. What wasI looking at?

Back then, no one knew what mind altering drugs could do to a person. Nobody mentioned the mind might go on vacation and not come back.

He was just a kid himself, only nineteen. His mind was gone. My brilliant brother couldn’t read or write. Mom retaught him to make his bed and wash the dishes. His thoughts raced and every syllable came pouring out. Mom said he was sick. She said I had to be patient. She said he couldn’t help it.

Nowadays, folks would say we were a family in crisis. Someone might suggest we get counseling . Someone might mention it wasn’t healthy to have an unstable manic living at home.

I don’t want to focus on my brother’s mental illness. He spent two full years fighting his way out of hell and those living with him got to play along. Even once he stabilized, he was never, ever the same and I could never reconcile the brother he was with the brother he became.

Anyone who knew my gentle brother in later years could never imagine what that time was like. I don’t think he remembered.

We never talked about it.

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Oct 19

Taming of a Pharisee, Part Last (or… The End)

This is my apology.1990-300x212

I wish I’d done this sooner.

No, I’m not being too hard on myself. You see, it’s one thing to make mistakes, bump into others and hurt them in the process. It happens. It’s called being human.

It’s another  entirely to say you represent Jesus, especially  in leadership and point folks the wrong way. For years, I pointed everywhere in the world except to the source of Life and Peace and Joy.

If someone said they were hurting, I invited them to church.

If someone said they couldn’t pay the bills, I told them to tithe.

If someone said they were lonely, I invited them to women’s Bible study.

You see, I really didn’t believe He could heal a broken heart.

I didn’t actually believe that if You called on His name, He would answer.

I didn’t really know Him at all.

Oh,  I said I did.  I stood right there flat footed and acted like I had all the answers when inside, I was bleeding out and too proud to ask for help. That’s why I need forgiveness.

The Proud Need Breaking

After dealing with the hidden things, my Lord had to go after my Pharisee heart. He had to break that stubborn streak, the one that wanted to organized and list and avoid with rules and bondage. He had to teach me to obey, no matter what.

He needed to show me His face. To reignite that first love. To cleanse and heal and set me free. To teach me to hear His voice, to recognize His touch.

So what did He do first?

He told me to quit going to church.

He said I’d lose most of my friends in the process. He said if I wanted more of Him, I had to follow wherever He led. He said I didn’t get to take it to committee for permission.

So I jumped right up and obeyed.

Gotcha.

No, it took awhile. I heard what He said, I just couldn’t believe He said it. Everyone knows good Christians go to church even if church stinks. They give to missions and listen to Christian radio and put their kids in the Cheerleaders for Jesus program.

I argued up a blue streak. What about fellowship? What about the kids? What about our spiritual health and well-being?

What about obedience?

I knew what was coming. More than that, I knew I had it coming. I knew what friends and family would say, to our face, behind our back because I spent so many years judging  others for just this sort of thing. My weak and spineless self  did not want to be on the receiving end.

He told me to stay quiet, not to defend myself. He said to let people think whatever they wanted.

Fish Out of Water

Jesus was out to break me.

Take a Pharisee out of church and watch them sputter. All sort of things start dying inside. Things like… pride maybe.

The phone rings and yet another friend calls with a word of correction. They say you’ve been deceived. You’re out of God’s will. You thank them nicely, tell them you’ll pray about it, hang up the phone and scream for three days.

Why are You doing this to me? Can’t I at least say this wasn’t my idea? That I love church? That every Sunday morning I get up and whine on the couch like a big baby? That You’ve taken away my entire identity? That I’m not bitter or disillusioned or mad at the leadership?

Another well meaning friend shows up with a book written by their pastor outlining all the reasons you’re now cursed instead of blessed—because you don’t attend church. They hint this may be the reason you just spent a week in the hospital. They say, maybe you’re ready to listen now.

It dadgum hurts.

It’s suppose to.

Radical obedience means living the cross. We give up our way, our plans, our agenda and follow Jesus—not a pastor or teacher or denomination. Jesus—the one who left heaven for us, who came and died and overcame death. The one who loves us. We risk being misunderstood, misused, mistaken to go wherever He leads. He didn’t ask us to join a social club. He said, pick your cross up and follow Me.

Crosses are for dying, my friend.

To all my former and current Pharisee friends let me say, I understand. You’re doing what you’ve been taught since the day you stepped into Church World. But there’s another world of hurting folks who will never darken the door because of people just like you and me.

So cut it out. If you want to play church, that’s fine. It’s your business.

Just leave the lambs alone.

And In Conclusion…

Sometimes He takes the foolish things of this world—a former Pharisee, a pastor’s daughter, a wild-eyed Bible thumping, hard-hearted fool—and takes them outside the comfortable limits of our understanding of His grace so they can testify to a hurting world—

If you don’t want to go to church, you don’t have to.

If you don’t want to vote Republican, it isn’t necessary.

Forget all the stumbling blocks, all the stupid things people throw in your way, all the dumb things they say because they don’t know any better and just call on Jesus.

If  you’re hurting, call on Jesus.

If you have questions, call on Jesus.

If you don’t believe in Jesus, call on Jesus.

If you’re in  bondage and you’re ready to be free, call on Jesus.

If you need a hug, call on Jesus.

He’s pretty good at that, even if He is a little sneaky.

He promises if you seek, you’ll find Him. I sought at the  age of seven and He’s been following me, loving me, taking care of me ever since.  And while He loves me plenty, I know too many other folks out there with stories of His love and protection and care. I am not an exception.

With Jesus, I’m the rule.

He loves His lambs. He takes care of them. He gets seriously pissed off at anyone who hurts them, anyone who stands in their way and keeps them from His arms.

koi-pond-300x209

Thanks for sticking with me through this opus. I’m crying now with these last few lines, an indication of how things have changed over the last twenty years.

For those who prayed for me, loved me, sent sweet notes and emails of encouragement, thank you. You know how much I love you and if you don’t, we’ll see what we can do about that in the near future.

For those who read this because you  remember that girl from back-in-the-day, please know you’re the reason I spent days praying and crying and deleting and begging Jesus to help me get this down without compromise, without waffling, without shifting blame. I’m just sorry it took so many years to write.

For a closed off, private person, writing  this feels like standing naked on the playground—a little scary, kind of liberating. I’m ready to dance around a little and traumatize the neighbors. Maybe I’ll get really crazy and write about something fun next time.

My kids may be in therapy for decades.

Oct 12

The Between Times

Stories are great. You sweeten it a little, throw out anything irrelevant to the plotline and get right to the gooey center.

Thus with my story. Several commented that Taming of a Pharisee reflected a victorious life, lived extravagantly with the fullness that is Jesus, bathed in His love, washed in His goodness. . .

Bunkum

Most of my poor life, I spent thrashing around, whining like a girlie-babie.

Note the spiritual timeline:

Ages 0-7 –Pretty quiet

A few weeks at age 7—Jesus  shows up, saves girl from certain doom

7-12—Five  years of typical childhood junk and stuff

12-ish—Falls in love with Jesus

12-14—Family crisis, increasing darkness

14-18—Four years of roller coaster spiraling, generally trending downward

18-28—Ten  years of hard-hearted religious living

28—Turning point

29-49—Twenty  years of struggle, punctuated by moments of agony and glory, generally trending upward

For three decades, I feverishly applied one of those off-brand, Yeshua-substitutes to heal the broken places. Didn’t work so well. Fortunately, He takes care of His own  and He’s patient like crazy.

A Little Hindsight

Taming of a Pharisee wasn’t written to make anyone feel defeated. The one and only intention?

To direct the hurting to look Up.

You don’t have to wait until you’re knocking on fifty to live with a continual knowledge of His presence. You don’t have to spend decades parading around the wilderness bleeding.

Until recently, I spent random moments bathed in His love. Most of the time, I clung to anything and everything else. Religion became an idol—something I loved more than Him.

That has changed.

I’ve come to understand this wasted time, wasted life isn’t necessary.  From the perspective of distance, the roadblocks that tripped up broken feet stand out against the landscape.

He is faithful—and persistent.  The minute you turn to Jesus, calling on Him to rescue your sorry self, He sets events in motion, reorders your world, schedules appointments to intersect the heavenly with your circumstances.

Life begins again.

roe-deer-6

Everyone wants a do-over, right?

It’s your job to say yes when He calls.

It’s my job  to pull the boulders off your pathway.

Oct 11

Entry: Nina Villarreal

And the last to give permission to post her entry–Nina Villarreal! Thanks Nina~

The Adventures of Kindle Kardashian (no relation), Krime-Fighting Kitty

Katnip Kaper

It was a cold dark night in the darkest part of the city, faraway sirens sired and the hounds were hounding but I didn’t care. I had to escape into the darkness, my shiny black coat was it’s sleekiest ever, perfect to sneak about and find out the truth behind it all. Behind the sudden disappearance of my dear Uncle Samson, a tall gray and white with a heart of gold but a fondness for Korean Katnip that may have ultimately led to his demise. I must find out what has happened to him, I only hope I am not too late!

Slowly I crossed over the Railroad Tracks and climbed my way down the hill to the shipping docks. My heart is racing as I know I am in MowMow’s stomping grounds. MowMow is the King Tom of the Docks, a scarred up matted old Ragdoll with a temper as fierce as his foul fishy breath. He does not take kindly to any felines not under his control in his area. I had dealt with him once before and had barely escaped with my life.

Upon reaching the docks, I was unnerved, it was strangely quiet…too quiet. Not only was MowMow nowhere to be seen but not one of his Henchcats were patrolling their usual grounds trafficking their illegal Katnip to the desperate and despaired. I searched the entire area. Nothing. Weird. Really Weird.

All of a sudden, I heard a sound so soft that I actually barely heard it. I nearly thought it was my imagination. It was the lightest scratch, like on metal or something tingy. It came from beneath me, I leaned over the edge and then I saw under the dock there was a metal trunk in a dingy sized rowboat. At first I thought, oh it must have hit something and made that sound, but then I heard it again, and again and then more and more scratching, frantic scratching coming from all over inside the trunk.

And then I saw the crudely stenciled stamp on the trunk…it said “BAXTER LABS – LIVE SPECIMENS – HANDLE WITH CARE”. My worst fear for Uncle Samson was not even close to the horrifying thought of him being sent to Baxter Labs. Unspeakable experiments were done to animals in that evil place. I had to get that trunk open!

I jimmied the lock, it was solid, no luck. I tried to cleverly pick the lock with my longest claw and it just ended up getting stuck in the lock and I had to painfully tear it away without screaming. That was hard.

Then I noticed a shiny sleek motorboat just a few yards away and it was pointed directly at the dingy boat. A most brilliant idea came into my little furry head. I raced quickly over to the motorboat and loosened the tie down as much as I could. Fortunately it was the button start kind of motorboat, a fancy schmancy one too. I smiled, on the dashboard of this exquisite boat was a gold plated name plate that read “Jasper J. Baxter”, the owner, founder and CEO of Baxter Labs, Inc. This could not be more perfect, I just hope it works. I pushed the button as hard as I could and it actually started. It roared to life with me in it. I jumped out so fast I nearly fell in the water. It headed straight to the dingy just like I thought it would. In no less than ten seconds it had smashed into the docks, crushing the dingy and popping open the trunk up against another boat on the other side. Then at that exact moment the engine flooded with sea water and it died up against the docks, perfectly damaged. It was gonna cost Jasper a pretty penny to fix that mess. Hehheh.

I ran to the trunk that was squished up against the other boat, but as I got closer, I slowed down, I did not see any movement coming out of the trunk as I thought I would. Was I too late? I closed one eye and slowly peered into the trunk, afraid of what I would see. But what I saw shocked me to my soul, it was a trunk full of King Crabs! Very still at first, then all of sudden they all started scrambling around scratching at the metal trunk, trying in vain to get out. My mouth must have been open really wide because I choked on a mosquito that flew directly in. Yuk!

Just then I heard “Your neice is a genius Sam!!” I swirled around to see where that voice came from and saw to my amazement my very own dear Uncle Samson and MowMow arm in arm, swaying towards me, clearly under the influence of too much Katnip.

“Kindle! You did it! We have been trying all night to get that trunk open! It’s a feast!”

Uncle Samson cheered.

I did not know whether to be angry or happy to see my Uncle Samson. He worried me half to death and now here he is with the worst possible kind of Cat, arm in arm, singing and carrying on without a care in the world. Then I impulsively ran to him and gave him the tightest hug I ever gave. I could not help myself, I was so happy he was alive and safe.

“These crabs were for Old Baxter’s Grand Luncheon tomorrow, now there gonna have to eat Tuna!” MowMow screamed and laughed so hard he spit up a hairball.

 I was just so happy to have my Uncle Sammy back I didn’t care about anything else.

“Let’s go home! We can come back later for crabs!” I smiled at Uncle Samson and took his paw and led him home, safe and sound.

Sep 19

Sappy Poetry Moment

Untitled poem written on a Whiny Day. Don’t tell me it stinks– I have delicate little feelings. (snicker)

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The eternal dancing of a suffering soul finds endless improvisation to avoid the flame.

I know a thousand ways to avoid holding You close.

You know a thousand and one to keep me tucked into the sanctuary of Your heart.

You hold me in truth and all that must depart wiggles and squirms, sprouting a hedgehog’s back to dig in, tearing, burning until the inevitable surrender to Your command.

The hand I hold up to check progress comes away bleeding.

Of course it does.

The throbbing soreness left behind, lingering into tomorrow, stretching past the foreseeable future sends me looking for excuses to avoid another round.

So tell me—how many of these pointy little bastards lie buried, awaiting exorcism?

I’m astounded at my own creativity. I hold Your hands at a safe distance and work up my cutest smile, the one You claim to like so well.

Much better thanks, completely well in fact.

Hurting? Not a bit.

Funny how You don’t budge.

Smile, yes. Move one inch to follow in my delusion?

Never.

Your purpose is certain. Your desire to leave this place of healing, marching on to other victories together.

Unclouded sight,

Complete victory.

And if lying here next to Your heart, squirming, screaming, crying moves us closer to the joy—

Really should learn to give up sooner.

So how much squealing are You up for today?

Sep 14

Today’s Thought: God is Good; People Stink Sometimes

My brother’s illness taught one lesson above all others.

People make decisions—all on their own without consulting the rest of the world—because  they can.

Sometimes consequences are larger than a body can bear.

Sometimes consequences splash out and beat the crap out of anyone within striking distance.

If you plant a tomato seed, you don’t get one tomato seed back. You get an entire bush, ugly, sprawling and throwing off rotten tomatoes all over the flower bed, each one busting over with seeds just waiting to take over the landscape. This is not God’s fault. It’s the natural order of things.

Payday is Coming

Most people will admit there might be a God around somewhere. They see a world full of pain and wonder what sort of God they’re dealing with.

I am persuaded of two things.

Jesus is the expression of God’s overpowering, big-hearted love for a crazy world and…

. . .one day, folks will answer for everything they do.

And this time, punishment will be eternal.

Until then, we live in a world of grace. We make choices. We’re given space and time to repent of same. Those who turn to the One who died to pay for the blackness of the entire world get their records wiped clean.

We should all  be very thankful.

The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You

He said He came to bring the Kingdom of Heaven. What does that mean?

Forgiveness for every mistake we’ve made.

Healing for broken hearts and wounded souls.

Deliverance from bondage, the chains we choose and those chosen for us.

Restoration for everything stolen by the enemy.

Paradise, not just in eternity, but here.

Now.

In our hearts, our minds, our spirits.

And the Good News Is…

Jesus  didn’t leave heaven to be king and reform the politics of Israel. He had no intention of fitting in nicely with the current religious practices of His era. He didn’t do one thing the way the religious and political leaders thought He should.

He didn’t come to check out the lambs, make sure they used only the finest goats and bulls. He came to be the Lamb. To end the temple system of sacrifices and blood sprinkling. To take religion out of the hands of the elite and bring you and me face to face with a loving Father.

To walk and talk with Him once again.

He came to start a revolution.

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Sep 11

Apologies to Cupid

And Back on the Funny Farm. . .

This morning, my husband of twenty-nine years surprised me with a can of roasted almonds  in the only flavor I can’t stand for Valentine’s Day.

I thanked him nicely. I did not hit him.

You would’ve been so proud.

The rat probably remembered that particular flavor because an opened can sat  in the pantry for months before getting tossed in the trashcan.

Despite all his wonderful qualities (which I’m having a hard time remembering at the moment) the man is a horrible nag.  He’s been eating avocados straight up, handfuls of unsalted almonds along with all sorts of thoroughly revolting health foods while dropping hints in my general direction for weeks now. Just a wild guess, but I’m thinking (!) maybe he’d like me to improve my diet.

Me and my bag of salt-and-vinegar potato chips are not amused.

The man will not get a single snuggle for those nuts.

Holidays stink sometimes.

Years back, our family assaulted a wheelchair-bound woman living in the neighborhood and forced Christmas down her eighty-something year old throat. She cried as we brought in the tree and stacked presents around its Charlie Brown perimeter. We punched each other in the ribs, grinning like banshees, so pleased with ourselves.

Hindsight of three decades says those were not tears of joy.

Mrs. Johnson outlived her husband and only child. She had no contact with extended family. She took in boarders to afford the electric bill and paid strangers to wipe her backside.

She wanted to pretend Christmas didn’t happen.

We should’a let her alone.

For the newly single on Valentines—

Tomorrow’s gonna hurt. You can’t change the facts.

And no, nothing will ever be the same again as long as  you live, until you die a horrid death of horrid aloneness.

Someday, it may be better.

Someday, it definitely will not hurt so much.

Someday, it may be so much better you’re taunting the rest of us with your new-found mushy gooey-ness.

That won’t keep tomorrow’s love-fest from burning a hole through your chest cavity which probably serves you right.

Give me a call and we’ll share some chips.

For the chronically single on Valentines—

You are not alone.

The jaded everywhere will threaten to rip out their eyeballs by noon tomorrow.

Some  are married and get almonds with ‘Happy V-day’ written on top in a highly romantic shade of  sharpie marker.

Those who get dozens of red roses and post pictures of their couplehood all over the internet are just bragging.

They probably have lice.

Next year they may get almonds.

I’m just saying

A  few practical suggestions for tomorrow.

Pretend it’s Saint Patrick’s Day and color your beer. Everyone loves the Irish. Besides, green teeth are extra sexy.

Call someone more miserable than you and commiserate. Chant poor baby at appropriate moments while filing your nails. (I’ve already got tomorrow’s victim on speed dial– Mom will never know what hit her.)

catladyRemember:  The urge to form pair-bonds runs strong within your genetically programmed genetics. It’s only human to throw good sense out the car door this time of year and make goo-goo eyes at the nearest Neanderthal in exchange for chocolates and an album of sappy Facebook photos.

Tomorrow, as you’re assaulted from all angles by the bastions of heart-shaped hell just remember—you could be holding hands with Carrot Top right now.

But you had better sense. You are one smart cookie.

Tomorrow, you will not itch.

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