Tag Archives: christian blog

Love… Marriage… Mr. Bean… and God

Qualities of the perfect man --Cary grant Mr. Bean- Grizzily AdamsI don’t know when it happened, or how. But it did. One unremarkable day, we became that couple. The one people snicker at and call CUTE! Sometimes even SOOOOO CUTE! Love… Marriage… Mr. Bean… and God

At first we were confused. After all, we had not changed, yet, whenever we held hands or smooched a little cheek peck, the world stopped, fingers pointed and exclamations of delight proclaimed our adorability. This is especially true of young couples. We can only imagine what might happen if they caught us partaking in an innocent love pat on the behind? Oh my! Love… Marriage… Mr. Bean… and God

What changed? How did we jump from being the rude couple, known for PDA (public display of affection), to the Cutie Patooties belonging in the Guinness World Record book with the caption: Old Farts in Love. When the “Awwwws,” first began, we’d back away, fearing our groupies might pinch our cheeks, or worse, snap a photo to share on Facebook. Over time, we’ve gotten over our fear of death by koochie-koochie-koo. When it happens today, we share a secret nod of wisdom and a wink of… Love… Marriage… Mr. Bean… and God

“If they only knew.”

Truth is, I’m more in love with my husband today, than ever. And, yes, I mean IN LOVE. Mad, lust worthy, hot, married you rock my socks, kind of LOVE. Love… Marriage… Mr. Bean… and God

Hello? Hello? Is anyone still reading?

If so, I’ll share what I’ve learned about love. My prayer is that someone might be spared the wild seek and conquer dating escapades I suffered. Sadly, I know I am not alone in this, having many single friends looking under the same rocks as I did.

My quest for love, is best described as a manic episode of Where’s Waldo? Desperate, I sprang between victims, begging for alms of love, to fill my black hole of a heart. He must be charming, like Cary Grant, funny like Mr. Bean and strong and protective, like Grizzly Adams. And, most importantly, he must speak my personal dialect of love language, willing to be like the guy in My Fair Lady who sings, “On the Street Where You Live.” That guy felt happy just standing outside, knowing his love was in the vicinity.

“Sigh.”

Love me, love me, love me. Who will love me? Who can fill my bottomless pit of a heart?

My sad, wild safari in search of love guaranteed three perpetual moods:

Empty

Lonely

Broken hearted

I remember a day, when I believed I could not take another breath, unless tossed a crumb of relief to the gaping hole in my heart. With no other options, I sent a weak prayer out, begging an ignored God for help.

When I met Sandy, my husband to be, he had the Grant schmooz, the big protective brute air, and, he was well endowed with Mr. Beanisms. Sadly, though, he did not speak my love language, nor show any desire to stand outside on the street swooning with love. He had better things to do. Yet, there was something about him that kept me hanging around. He was patient, loving, and kind. He spoke of God and faith.

And then, we lived happily ever after… right?

Not quite.

We dug, dredged and sucked every ounce of love from each other. But, it was not enough. He could not feed my hunger, nor I his. What then? None of the equations add up. X + Y = Z … if X is me and Y is you then Z should be love… Okay, math is not my subject.

We fought.

And, fought some more.

Something was missing from the equation. It took years for us to figure it out. I should add, we are still working on the math, but we found the missing component, the foundation, the cornerstone. God. When we invited God into our relationship, our sparse baskets of fish and bread, became more than enough to feed ourselves and each other, with abundance to share.

Without God, marriage is like the wood, hay and straw, spoken of in the Bible; when the test of fire comes, it disintegrates. The tests will come, in many forms. Losses, disappointments, struggles, temptations. And no one will escape the trials of time; gravity, erosion and decay. Just as the Beatles song ponders, “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?”

It’s flattering to be admired for outer beauty, but to be revered for inner beauty is the biggest rush of all. I grumble at the woman in the mirror, wondering where she hid my youth. Yet, the most beautiful I have ever been, is in the eyes of my husband, where glows a lasting beauty, beaming from the inside out. I marvel at the image, coming from the eyes that have seen me at my worst. I’m not talking about the mother of all insults, “I love you even though.” That’s a tainted love, that pats the giver on the back. No, I want none of that.

To best understand, the love I refer to, it takes a child. A child whose well loved toy is showing wear. No longer new, shaggy, tousled, tired looking. Maybe it’s even missing a few parts. But what happens when you offer this child a shiny new toy in exchange for the old one? You can’t pry it from their clutches, not even to toss it in the laundry. They love it just the way it is. After all, it’s the toy that’s been there, through everything. The ear hanging by a thread, the bald spot, the dangling button, are like precious gems, badges, reminders of trials, victories, parades marched side by side.

I’m no longer dependent on love. Instead, my love is dependent on God. Without God in our marriage, our love is weak, no better than a silly love song. With God, we are like two children under an umbrella of His love. Holding hands, peering into each other’s eyes, marveling at who God created us to be. Love… Marriage… Mr. Bean… and God

And… I guess we’re pretty cute. Love… Marriage… Mr. Bean… and God

A note to my husband: Happy 24th Anniversary. I thank God for answering my prayer.

1 Corinthians 12

If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

 

Check out our book in progress … read a sample chapter…. BookPromobannerhttp://debpalmerauthor.com/2014/11/13/christian-author-preview-chapter-in-spite-of-us-stalked-by-a-loving-god/

When God says “No!” Is It a Gift in Disguise?

The word NO in a gift box

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back, I’m dumbfounded. How did I miss the seventy times seven flashing neon “good choice” doors? Choosing instead the door down the long hall with the sign reading: You Know Better. I’m grateful for all the times God waited patiently while I collected consequences from behind the “bad choice” doors. Those lessons, greatly improved my choosing skills.

Contrarily, what about the times when God bolts a door shut? No matter how hard you pull or twist the knob, it won’t open. It’s stuck, bound with spiritual duct tape. We have free will to do what we please, pound our head against the wall as often as we like. I’m talking about the times when HE intervened, protecting me from the scariest monster of all… self. Continue reading When God says “No!” Is It a Gift in Disguise?

When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen. When God speaks…

God Speaks to Those who seek His wisdomWho remembers the 1970’s E.F. Hutton commercials? My favorite shows two men on a plane conversing across the aisle while disinterested bystanders sleep, read, gaze out the windows. That is, until the name E.F. Hutton drops, causing a collective hush, among the eager eavesdroppers. The ad ends with the famous, unforgettable tag line: “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”

What about when God speaks? Do we lean in, hand cupped over ear, holding our breath in anticipation of His words? Speaking personally, I can say He knows how to get my attention. I’m not talking about an audible voice booming down from heaven saying stuff like “Deb, stop that!… you know better.” No, that’s more likely my own busy-body mind intruding on my peace: named “guilt.” I’m referring to a distinct voice in my head, a message arriving in an envelope of peace, reassurance, and clarity. A voice heard through the ears of my heart… or the lips of a friend… quite possibly a stranger. A voice that’s visible, seen not heard, through the staggering power of the ocean, or the knee buckling tenderness of a child’s love. Scripture, previously known, now alive, renewed. Words on a page, a billboard, a T-shirt… highlighted, back-lit, subliminally underlined.

No matter what the medium, when God speaks, there’s no confusion of authorship. You know, that you know, that you know. You just do. Even so, it’s hard to grasp that God dropped everything to send me a seemingly trivial, but deeply intimate message. However, once we stop denying His signature on the message, the essence of His ever powerful love for us is boldly evident. Yes, our God is mighty, capable of whispering sweet nothings in our ears, all while moving mountains, healing the sick and charging command over legions of heavenly angels. Yes, He is an exquisite multi-tasker.

One clear example, occurred two years ago when my husband, Sandy attended a men’s retreat in Canby, Oregon. He kissed me goodbye, grumbling that he’d rather stay home. He left discouraged, disgruntled, dis-everything (not a word, I know). In his own words, the troublesome “dis” was, “I’m tired of asking God for direction and hearing nothing.”

For months, we, meaning me and our entire church body, had been praying for him to receive words and encouragement. Some of us might admit to growing weary of the redundant prayer. Yet, we all knew Sandy’s deep desire to hear from God, promised an answer.

“I try, but I don’t hear anything. God doesn’t speak to me,” he’d say in response to our “keep seeking nudges.”

Seated among the 300 or so men who’d travelled from Vineyard churches across the northwest, he regretted saying yes to the invitation. If he’d stayed home, he could be working on the never ending projects on his ever growing list of “to-dos.” Staying busy seems to dull the pain.

While tapping his foot, waiting out the remaining 10 minutes before “getting on with it,” two men approached.

“We felt like you might need prayer. What’s going on with you?”

Sandy shared his frustrations, a familiar script, flowing off his tongue like an old song, the melody being “I don’t think God hears me.”

The men listened, praying a facsimile of the prayers sent over the past months of discontent. The prayer ended, just as the worship service started. Through worship, Sandy continued praying, seeking, yet convinced it was a one-way communication.

“Please, Father… I want to know you.”

When the key note speaker began, Sandy chuckled sarcastically at the topic – “Receiving Words from God.” When the audience was asked to participate, he prepared to go through the motions, expecting that others would receive wondrous, life changing, intimate messages from God, as he wallowed, on an island of quiet nothingness.

“There are thousands of words floating around this room right now. Please turn to someone you don’t know and introduce yourself. Then let’s spend some quiet time asking God for a word for each other.”

“My name’s Sandy… nice to meet you.”

Shaking hands, the stranger stated his name, which Sandy instantly forgot.

During the five minutes of quiet, disguised as three days of noisy head clatter, Sandy tried, in vain, to hear from God. When the time was up, he shared what he calls, generic fortune cookie stuff, derived from his own head.

“Something good is going to happen… there’s going to be a change…”

When it was the other man’s turn, he looked blank, then said.

“Philip. Right? Your name is Philip. He knows your name. That’s what I felt God wanted you to know.”

There it was… in perfect timing. Weak kneed, laughing… crying… laughing… no doubt God speaks… no doubt God hears… no doubt God knows him by name. You see, there was no way the stranger could have known that Sandy’s real name is Philip. A name spared only for legal documents. A name God shared through a stranger, knowing Sandy would hear it, An undeniable message of the His love.

That night, a phone call interrupted my sleep.

“He knows me by name!”

“What? Who?”

“God knows my name is Philip! He knows me…”

He shared the story with me, pausing for frequent voice cracking breaks, his demeanor and mannerisms out of character… chatty, fired up, super charged. To this day, he shares this story with anyone who’ll listen, never able to say “He knows me by name,” without tears. He left home with an acute case of “diseverything,” returning a changed man.

I suspect God is speaking all the time, and we are the lackeys with plugged ears. He’s a gentleman, who won’t yell over the top of the other noise in our life, and doesn’t need to. He knows exactly what it will take to get our attention, being our Creator and all.

Before my mom died, in 2002, I sat with her every day in the hospital, reading the Bible aloud, praying her seemingly sleeping mind could hear God’s word. I begged God to give me a sign that she would be in heaven… at peace and free of pain. My expectations were that she would awaken and say something reassuring, like “Jesus told me to tell you, it’s all good, you can pray about other stuff now.” That didn’t happen. Instead, moments before mom died, my sister and I walked into her room, finding her wide awake, smiling, gazing straight ahead. Whatever she was looking at, was beyond our understanding. One thing was clear, Whomever she looked upon blinded her to all else, satisfied her every need and filled her with joy. Then, she left the room, or at least in spirit. The nurses told us we could stay with her as long as we wanted. But why? She left, leaving only the parcel she rented space in, behind.

That day, God spoke, giving me everything I needed to never doubt. Like Thomas, who needed to stick his finger in the hole in Jesus’ side, I needed to see Jesus through my mother’s eyes. Nothing else would have sufficed. He knows us well. Yes, indeed.

YAY! WE WON A LIEBSTER BLOG AWARD

liebster award I was hungry… my mind tricked me into reading “Lobster” in place of “Liebster.” I didn’t care if we’d been nominated for a fishy award, I was happy to reel it in. The point is, someone (not a relative or coerced friend) likes the blog. A closer look into the award revealed that the German word Liebster means “dearest or beloved.” Cool, huh? Much better than a crustacean award. LiebsterPost

            Blogging takes time, patience, a steady flow of affirmations from readers, and for me, a willing husband who never tires of saying, “no, it doesn’t suck.” So, yes, yes, yes, I accept the nomination and without further adieu extend a huge thank you to Erin @ http://onehundredtwentythreedays.com/ for the recognition. Check out her blog, I found it to be fresh, intriguing and I gleefully accept her challenge to live a better life.

The idea behind the Liebster Award is to discover and give a nod to new bloggers. Accepting, means you win (yay! I won). There’s no trophy, paid vacation or a truck load of cash (dang), but you do get the honor of displaying the cool Liebster Award logo while taking a stroll down the cyber red carpet.

In lieu of an acceptance speech, winners are asked to follow a few instructions.

Answer the following 11 questions provided by the nominator.

Share 11 random facts about themselves.

Post the Liebster Award rules

Nominate 11 others for the award.

 

Q&A From My Nominator (nominees, please answer these same 11 questions)

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 29, and find line 4. What is the book and what does it say?

“Notre Dame,” by Victor Hugo… “Oh yes; I remember it!” exclaimed Gisquette: “God on the cross, and the two thieves on each side of Him.”

2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?  

I’m weird about this. It’s much more about who I live near than where. I would choose a place with few if any snakes, close to my family and friends.

3. If you could change one thing about the world, what would you do?

I would replace all hate with love.

4. Is the glass half empty or half full?

A trick question for a sober person… what’s the liquid?

5. When is the last time you ate a homegrown tomato?

Two years ago from my own little garden. Confession: It did not taste like the ones I remember as a child; dripping down my arm with the first bite.

6. What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be Mark Twain… of course!

7. What is your favorite time of the day?

First light… sitting with hubby in the quiet as we slowly enter the day.

8. What inspires you?

Faith… without which I am done for.

9. What is your favorite childhood memory?

Sitting with my mother, flipping through the Sears Roebuck Catalog, selecting everything we would buy if money was no concern.

10. What three things in nature do you find most beautiful?

Tigers, flowers, and the way light plays on the trees.

 11. Who are your Nominees?

Here are 11 random facts about myself.

  1. At the time of this writing, I was the ONLY person in Washington State who wasn’t watching the Seahawks at the Super Bowl.
  2. Sometimes I just can’t help exaggerating (see #1 above).
  3. I wonder about cows. According to my hubby, too much. Stuff like… why are they all standing up? Why is that cow being snubbed by the others? Did she do something anti-social? Is there a hierarchy among cows in the field? Is the cow on the mound pretending to be king of the hill? You know, that stuff… I assume everyone ponders.
  4. I write to music, sometimes evoking a moment of dance followed by a get back to work slap upside the head.
  5. I wear my husband’s T-shirt to bed, the one he’s been wearing for the day. No other will do. It gives me the same comfort my thumb sucking blanket gave me when I was a toddler (this should count as two random facts).
  6. If my toenails are not painted, I feel like they are naked.
  7. I HATE wearing socks.
  8. I play a game by Battlenet called Hearthstone more than I should.
  9. I’ve worked a variety of jobs in my life including driving a bulldozer and a forklift. Side note: Crashing a forklift through a plate glass window gets a lot of attention.
  10. I can be won over by any dog. A couple of wags, a sloppy wet kiss… game over.
  11. I think Godly men like my husband are super sexy. Watching him pray has an even stronger effect on me than number 10.

Looking forward to all my nominee’s answers.

In Spite of Us - Chapter Previewhttps://debpalmerauthor.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/christian-author-preview-chapter-in-spite-of-us-stalked-by-a-loving-god/

 

Can Your Dream to be an Author Come True?

1950s author card deck
Me, dreaming of becoming an author alongside my buddy Mark Twain. Sigh…

Like most girls in the 1960s, I dreamed of playing house with a plastic Ken-type husband gallivanting around in a pink convertible packed with smiling children. Even so, I bored easily with the game, preferring an alternative fantasy – to be an author.

The daydream took place in a cabin in the woods where I labored day and night at a primitive desk holding a stack of tattered gilded edge Mark Twain books, a flask, a fat cigar, and an Underwood portable typewriter. Other props included a No. 2 pencil as a pseudo quill fountain pen, and although I pictured a bushy beard, I settled for messy hair.

Truth is, I didn’t actually write much in those days. It was more about the mysterious writer facade. The part about putting words on paper came later and, sadly, I admit to being easily discouraged. I take full responsibility for that, recognizing that many writers pressed through rising above all obstacles, honing their craft from an early age. I on the other hand, stomped off stage with my flask and cigar with the first “boo.”

Maybe there’s a future blog brewing on the false starts, failures, brokenness and repeated murders of my lifelong desire to write, but this is not it. Instead, this post is about today, tomorrow and the next. All the days to come, promising a “do over.” No excuses or justifications. Do I have what it takes to be a writer or do I go back to swigging air from a flask in front of a blank sheet of paper?

Declaring war on my fears, I’ve been writing for an hour here and there for over a year trying to complete my first book, while maintaining an online antiques business and scaling out a pound or two of personal life. At first I could hardly wait to complete my self-inflicted writing sentence of one hour. Each word painfully squeezed out only to be deleted, exchanged or groaned at. Finally, one day a paradigm shift occurred. I no longer felt dread seeking the first word, it was the period at the end of the writing session I rued. Words came a little easier, my confidence peeked and winked at me from around the corner and a question nagged like a dripping faucet – “Could I write full time?”

That is, if all excuses were removed… the ones shielding me from finding out what I can or cannot do. Would I? Could I?… hack it as a full time writer? Or do I secretly want to remain in the pretend world alongside my justifications and alibis. Then the question became, is this book supposed to happen or not?

Tormented, I had one of those “duh” moments when I remember to take my burdens to God, so I prayed and prayed again, and again. Then one morning I awoke in an epiphany. God blessed us with a good year in our business, leaving us not only with our emergency cushion untouched, but also some extra and we are both in a rare season with flexible schedules.

Could it really be that God wants us to spend this money on ourselves? How could that be, when all around us there are people in need. Yes, we do tithe and give to charities, both ongoing and spur of the moment, but do we live sacrificially? Probably not. We continued praying until we felt certain the money was a blessing meant for us. Leaping hand in hand off the decision cliff with gratitude, we nabbed the cash, planning our dream trip with these specific priorities:

  1. Intimacy and renewal of relationships with Father God.
  2. Intimacy and renewal of relationship with each other
  3. Writing, writing, writing… more writing.
  4. Rest, long walks, good food and quiet.

We ended up in Yachats, Oregon in a charming beach house, with a bay window overlooking our front yard view of the Pacific Ocean’s cresting waves. There in the misty salty air I learned a few things about my writing abilities, limitations and style and some random stuff too.

First – I’m no Stephen King. In his book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” he mentions, rather nonchalantly, that he writes 2,000 words 365 days a year. Setting this goal for myself was not productive. I spent most of my time obsessing over the disappointing progress. Wondering: Why my last outpour is only 333 words? If King counts the words in emails, grocery lists, love notes to Tabitha? How about doodling?

Second – Solitude, quiet, gorgeous scenery… even time with the Lord… can be just as distracting as our sometimes busy, noisy home. BUT these distractions renew, giving back more than they take. Whereas the clanging of nagging “to do’s” at home zap spiritual and creative strength.beachselfie2

Third – I don’t regret choosing devotional time with my husband, a prayer walk or even a nap. beachselfie1Shushing the Nazi-esque task master nagging me to sit at the computer until I reach my word quota, results in quality over quantity.

Fourth – God’s timing is essential. The first morning I left my dreamy prayer mode at 3:00 AM, anticipating a spectacular sunrise. Shortly I tired of staring out the bay window into the darkness. Not wanting to wake my husband, I turned to my other friend with all the answers – Google.

Yachats, Oregon, United States Sunset Time

Current Local Time: 3:14am PST

January 5, 2015

Sunrise

7:52 AM

Seriously?

Later, hubby rises at 7:20, three hours later than his normal “up and at ‘em” time. When I ask why the sun is sleeping in until nearly 8:00 he glibly replies “because it’s winter.” Then smiling, he adds “you won’t see it from there anyway dear, the sun rises in the east and you are facing west.”

The lesson: Nothing is going to happen if it’s not God’s timing and if you are not facing in the right direction you could miss the miracle.

Fifth – If you wait for God’s timing, and if you are facing the right direction (see lesson above), you’ll see God at work. DSCN3348Sitting in the bay window, facing west, watching the sunset swirl colors around the sun, I witness His glory in the magnificent and seemingly insignificant. People gather to watch the sunset show, snapping photos with their phones. An elderly couple hold hands… share a kiss. A man with an angry stride, head down, carrying three grocery bags, stops as if tapped on the shoulder, looking up at the progressing sunset like “hey, who did that?” Beckoned by God Himself, he sits on a bench, and although I can’t say for sure, he appeared to be praying.

In the meantime, pink and purple show up center stage, travel outward leaving a golden orb. As the final curtain is about to come down, I notice there’s about a hundred Seagulls gathered for the sunset finale. But, wait a minute… they’re ALL perched with their backs to the view. Stupid birds, what’s wrong with them? (Again, see above).

Sixth – I have no idea what God has in store for me tomorrow, nor even a clue what it should look like. I thought words were going to stack up like snowflakes in a storm. That was not the case, yet I wouldn’t trade one moment of this trip for 20,000 perfect novel-worthy words.

Seventh – I feel, therefore I write. If I stay in the writing closet without stretching my mind occasionally, just like my bottom, my stories suffer numbness, cramps, and possibly rigormortis.

What was the total word count tally of the trip? Drum roll… 9,069. Less than half my goal. Did I fail? I think not. Yes, some days I feel like the book will never see the words “The End” but then I remember it’s all about God’s timing.

            My prayer: Father, let me wait on you expectantly and please don’t let me be a silly seagull facing the wrong direction when the miracle appears. Amen.

A

In Spite of Us - Chapter Previewhttps://debpalmerauthor.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/christian-author-preview-chapter-in-spite-of-us-stalked-by-a-loving-god/

How Do You Choose A Church If You Don’t Know What You Believe?

Vineyard Christian Fellowship
Yakima Vineyard Christian Fellowship

While vacationing on the Oregon coast in the dearest cottage by the sea, we found ourselves with the dilemma of choosing a church for the fast approaching Sunday. Not wanting to drive out of town left three choices.

  1. Yachats Community Presbyterian Church preschurch

My personal top choice, based on the brochure that reads: “The Church of Agate Windows, ” not because Sandy thought it might be a Pizza Hut.

  1. Yachats Baptist Church bapchurch

Maybe a better choice since choosing a church for the building is rather lame. Then again, I have a tainted view of the Presbyterians, based on childhood profiling, gained from a few sporadic visits. I assumed they were cranky because they had to get all dressed up to sit still and quiet on hard, slick pews. I see from the sign reading: Come As You Are,” they’ve fixed that problem.

  1. Little Log Church and Museumlogchurch

The most intriguing choice, but there’s a slight glitch- they don’t actually have a service. It’s just to look at… hmmm… sort of like owning a Bible for display only.

Over the years, while away from home, we’ve crashed a few random churches, but we are far from experienced shoppers. Choosing a church for a single hit and run Sunday service is not a huge task, if you are strong in your doctrine and faith and believe God will be there, if you seek Him. Worse case scenario, you walk away grateful for the church back home. Contrarily, if you’re searching for a church to call home, you’d best put some thought into it.

I’m grateful for God’s hand in my church hunting expedition, which began with a list of six churches in Yakima, Washington, (our home town), recommended by various concerned friends over the years. It was some time in September 2001, before the collapse of the Twin Towers that brought hordes of new and returning temporary relief seekers to church. Keep in mind, at the time, I, like many who walk into our churches today, was ill equipped to know what I should be looking for. How do you know what doctrine to adopt if you’ve never read the instruction book? Maybe, like myself at the time, you weren’t even sure the Author existed? What then? I knew one thing only… I was hurt, broken, out of solutions and the only thing I hadn’t tried was church.

I entered the first church on my list, the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Yakima, donning my best “I’m invisible, better back off” suit of armor, slipping through the doors undetected. The building itself was my ideal, thus holding the number one place on the list. It was built in 1904 using huge impressive looking stones. Inside, under a domed ceiling the stained glass windows provide a kaleidoscopic light show of jade and gold dancing round the mahogany columns, beams and majestic 24 foot tall sliding doors.church4

That day I climbed the stairs to the balcony, studying the angelic crowd below, with their seemingly perfect lives, born into idealistic Christian homes that made the right decisions, day in, day out. I wondered if they could see or sense the mess of my past, and shuddered they might have some kind of religious telepathy, capable of hearing the non-pure thoughts renting space in my head. I was confident they wouldn’t have the nerve to throw me out, stone me or point fingers my way, mouths agape. I figured they must have been taught this behavior is considered poor etiquette in “Being a Good Christian 101.”

Fast forward 12 years. The second church on my list still has no check mark next to it. Much has changed, and I’ve learned a few things. One being that, the angelic looking people that first day had some messes for God to work on also. Another, being that although the building is worthy of awe, it’s what’s inside that counts, or rather who’s inside.

At the time of my first visit, Wayne Purdom was the pastor, whom later ushered my husband into the fold with his down to earth sincere concern and genuine interest in others. Four years later, God moved the gifted Purdom family cross state to plant a new church and bless others. That left us a church in a lurch. I had one foot readied for escape as I pictured some worn out constipated-looking guy alongside a screeching soprano “everything is hunky dory” type wife, abducting our cherished “come as you are” church family.

Much prayer and several months later, no one answered the call. With a tremendous team of church leaders, our church body suffered no neglect, but time was ticking with no potential candidates in sight. Then one Sunday, a surprise announcement was made… Jimmy John Morris, our talented worship leader, would be stepping up as senior pastor.

Honestly, we were concerned. He was a super guy, remarkably talented musician, devoted worship leader, and he was funny. Even so, he didn’t seem like an obvious shoe in for this position. We asked God to show us what He planned to do with this young man, but frankly, doubt is a noisy occupant, and neither of us could hear any kind of response. So, we made a pact with God and ourselves to stick it out and see if He would show us more than a great guy with a good sense of humor and a hillbilly name.

The following months, we sat stiff necked with arms crossed in a defensive pose, but we kept our promise to suit up and show up. Neither of us could say when or how it happened, but shortly after the initial shock, we recognized the man standing at our pulpit was undeniably anointed to pastor this church. We’re grateful God didn’t ask our advice, knowing who would best serve His church. Today we’re blessed with Jimmy John and his wife Donna, who vigilantly seek His guidance under the care and protection of the Holy Spirit. Whether enjoying a season of prosperity or one that appears hopeless, they practice the positioning statement on our Sunday program “Love God, Love ALL People.” A tall order for some of us… well at least it is for me. I know… I know… it should be easy, but our church is all about authenticity, so get over it.

It feels good knowing our home church, with our family of incredibles, is a safe haven with sound doctrine, an incubator for hurting souls not knowing what they need. Number two on our shopping list may never happen – so much for comparison shopping.

We still need to make a decision for this Sunday since we cannot drive 339 miles back to Yakima. For fun, we put the choices to a vote on Facebook. Phew… not the best idea I ever had. I didn’t mean for it to become a yay or nay on any given denomination. In retrospect, I see my error and apologize for the lack of thought given prior to posting the ballot. I don’t regret what I learned from this.

Whether a mature Christian ready for solid food or an infant needing pablum, the church you select should serve healthy portions of Love.

1 Corinthians 13:1

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

As it turns out we attended both church services, consecutively. When your faith and beliefs are strong, you can give glory to God under the roof of any church. I don’t think he’ll mind if you raise your voice and heart in worship, even if you disagree with the doctrine. Granted, it may be best to find another choice for your home church.

On the other hand, if you’re a new believer shopping for a church, your first task is to read your Bible and test what is being taught based on His word. Look for someone you can trust to help. A good pastor will be more than happy to answer questions and find you the help you need to gain understanding.

 In the meantime, whether a newbie or not, keep seeking Him.

In Spite of Us - Chapter Previewhttps://debpalmerauthor.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/christian-author-preview-chapter-in-spite-of-us-stalked-by-a-loving-god/

Preview Chapter: LOVE AND AN INTERVENTION: A Dual Memoir About Second Chances

RatedWforWeird

The following is an excerpt from our book, “LOVE AND AN INTERVENTION: A Dual Memoir About Second Chances.” The story is about an unremarkable couple pursued by God at every turn. It’s written in dual perspective – he said/she said. Here’s a few things you need to know to set the stage: New Author  Chapter Preview

It takes place several months after a shaky blind date, in that nearly comfortable stage.   They’re forty-somethings who’ve just graduated college, about to start lives meant for twenty somethings. They stand on the relationship hearth, laden with old baggage.

She is not interested in God… any God. To her, sobriety has no benefits. It’s rather like slaughtering a Led Zeppelin tune to make it playable in elevators. She’s been hurt, and if some guy thinks it’s going to happen again… well, he better be ready because this time guns are loaded. The question is this: Is she attracted to the soft-hearted, God-loving recovering alcoholic bent on becoming a better man, or the selfish, egotistical, biker bad-boy he used to be? New Author  Chapter Preview

He is three years sober and not going back to the party. He loves God… a God of his own design, picking what he likes and dislikes like a child forking through a salad. He sees the red flags she slaps him upside the head with, but hey, she’s not a convict, an improvement over past relationships. The question is this: Is he attracted to the kind, loving, woman underneath her facade, or the mouthy, arrogant bad-girl he sees as a challenge? New Author  Chapter Preview

Oh… did I mention my husband and I are the couple, and this is our true story of God’s perpetual grace?

The sample chapter below is written in Sandy’s (my husband) point of view. It’s one of the more light-hearted chapters, when he meets my colorful parents.  It begins amid the current family drama, the murder of my mother’s cousin, Virginia.

Read the warning and take the risk if you dare. We hope the taste of our story leaves you wanting more.

RatedWforWeird

Chapter 14

Bet he’s never seen anything like it.

            After tedious hours of prep and quizzing by professor Deb, I’m ready to meet the parents. The door opens, I’m drawn into the land of the McFarland’s, a place I believed existed mostly in Deb’s exaggerated imagination. Dema greets us at the door with a hearty, genuine hug. I’m confused because she’s dressed like we’re going to a black tie event and my only instructions were to wear a real shirt with no funny saying on it. She’s all sparkly, with sequins and jewels, the infamous auburn hair and makeup done to perfection. I feel better seeing Mac stretched out on his recliner, dressed like a 1950’s cowpoke.

The 12 by 12 foot living room is furnished for a room three times its size, so you have to cross the room walking sideways. Greetings barely obliged, Dema presses start on a VHS tape she’s had paused and ready for us since we left Yakima. The 60-inch projection television can only be seen from the two recliners placed directly in front, where Mac and Dema sit, both armed with a stack of remotes. Deb and I sit on the orange velvet love seat, our knees sideways so we don’t knock over the glass table in front.

For the next hour we watch news clips recorded from all three major television networks. Deb warned me this might happen, to which my reply was, “No, they wouldn’t do that.” After this, I will not question Deb’s facts. The newscasts escalate from a missing person to murder, while Mac and Dema insert background information, sometimes pausing to make sure we are keeping up.

            Hindered by the sideways view and the interruptions, this is my best translation of the drama: Virginia is Dema’s cousin. No one agrees whether she was on husband six, seven or eight. She has a son named Lynn, a sailor who visited once and made homemade pizza from a box. Virginia had lots of money because of her husbands, that she spent on diamonds and high heels. Dema says Virginia was spoiled as a child. She should know since they took baths together. Virginia was missing four days, with her car mysteriously parked in the driveway. Husband number six, seven or eight, claimed she vanished. Lynn, the pizza making son, flew to Spokane, hoping to help find his mother. Suspicions grew. The police brought search dogs, finding poor Virginia buried in the garden along with the carrots and potatoes. The last news clip shows the husband in handcuffs being carted off in a police car.  An autopsy revealed she had been shot. Everyone is relieved that Aunt Myrt, Virginia’s mom, is not around to see this.

            I’m exhausted and we’ve just begun. Again, Deb was right, insisting my intro to the McFarland’s be brief, without Haley and Jay, who might blab something we don’t want known.

 “I don’t want them to know we’re living together,” said Deb. “If we stay overnight we have two choices – separate rooms, pretending what we all know not to be true – or same room knowing the rest of the family is pow-wowing outside the door, chanting tsk – tsk – tsk.”

Considering our options, a short day trip seemed best. When murder and mayhem conversation dies off we move to the next dramatic scene.

            “Have you shown Sandy the bar?” Mac asks, knowing we’ve not left the front room.  “Bet he’s never seen anything like it.”

            “You haven’t… come on,” Deb says, motioning for me to follow. She side-winds through her childhood habitat, like a snake crossing the desert, while I, new to the obstacle course, bump knees and elbows, unskilled at walking sideways. Mac and Dema follow. She carries a 16-ounce tumbler of scotch and water, room to room, like a portable oxygen tank. The story from Deb is that her mom confesses to the doctor a two drink habit, omitting the constant refreshing and topping off.

            I’ve spent time in bars, all types… redneck, biker, highbrow… dives to swanky black tie joints… home bars, makeshift bars, tailgate specials. Yet none prepared me for the, “McFarland’s Bar.”

Deb’s eyes are begging me for words, but I don’t know what to say.  When words fail me, she involuntarily covers for me, chattering nervously, cooing and fidgeting like a cross between a dove and a quail.

“We had the bar built. It’s regulation. So are the dozen stools,” Mac says.

There’s a mirrored back bar with shelves stocked and ready to fill any drink order. And… Elvis is in the room… rows of gold and silver Elvis bottles peering down from shelves installed around the ceiling. There’s a black light, 20 beer signs, a booth style table and a life size poster of Mac dressed as a woman… an extremely ugly toothless woman with a huge nose… just imagine if Popeye had a sister.  What comment am I to make? Deb is trying to cover for my silence.

“Did you see the disco ball? Cool, huh? Did you know the poster is Dad? The ceiling is painted black for the strobe lights. You should really see what it looks like at night…”

Any moment Deb’s going to shove me on her lap, cram her arm up my butt and move my jaw up and down, like Edgar Bergan and his Charlie McCarthy doll. I open my own mouth to comment, but not fast enough to delay what’s coming next.

Deb’s classy, attractive, soft spoken mom calls me over to the bar. She’s lined up a collection of ceramic figurines. I obey her call, nearing the harmless looking monks and frogs. Then she hands me a monk.

“Turn it around,” she says. “Isn’t that awful?”

As I turn the monk around, he transforms into a ceramic penis. Why is this happening? Dema keeps saying how awful it is… I want to agree. Then she hands me a frog, asking me to turn it over. Do I have to? Deb gives me a “just do it” look.

“Isn’t that awful?” Dema asks again.

I manage a laugh at the anatomically enhanced frog. It’s not that I can’t handle the joke. I feel like I’ve been captured and thrown into someone’s really bad X-rated home movie. Finally, I speak.

            “Deb, where’s the bathroom?”

            The conversation turns from ceramic phallic symbols to towels as I follow Deb’s finger pointing down the hall.

             “I copied your idea to roll towels on the shelves. I really like it.” I hear Dema say to Deb.

            I try to open the door to the bathroom, but something is behind it. I slide through sideways, finding a huge hook on the back of the door holding a stack of robes. The door’s heavy and hard to close on the carpet, but I manage. Standing at the toilet staring at a tall shelf above it, I count 56 hand towels, 49 bath towels and 62 wash cloths, neatly rolled and stacked like cord wood stored for the winter. If a bus load of people needing a bath arrive at the McFarland’s, they’re covered for towels.

            “There are 56 hand towels,” I say to Deb as I squeeze back through the door. She shushes me while peeking in.

“Oh, that looks great Mom. Rolling the towels saves a lot of space.”

            Dinner, however late, is worth it. I’d been told to expect greatness and my hopes were not denied. The table was set with U.S. Navy flatware and individual platters, not plates, crowded with heaping plates of southern fried chicken, mash potatoes, country gravy, biscuits and corn. Seated in unspoken assigned seats, with Mac at the head of the table, I remember one of Deb’s warnings – “Whatever you do, don’t pass the food in the wrong direction, it drives Dad crazy.”

            He passes the procession of steaming bowls ceremoniously clockwise. I try, but curiosity wins, forcing my hand to pass the corn upstream, against the current.  Dema accepts the bowl with a nervous grin… Deb and Mac place their forks on the table, staring me down as if I’m the one who buried Virginia under the carrots. Not wanting to delay indulging in this feast any longer, I retrieve the corn, sending it clockwise. I know what we’ll be discussing on the ride home to Yakima.


 

 

The Marriage Dance – Our Top Ten Differences that Sharpen our Marriage

Marriage - Relationships- Harmony
Marriage: A graceful dance for few – a time of stepping on each other’s toes for many.

As iron sharpens iron,

so one person sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17

            The marriage dance… synchronized grace… harmony… coordination.  A couple gliding across the floor, form and shadow… perfection. Sigh…

Then there’s real life marriage, like ours. It’s a dance too. I’m the one, beat abandoned, arms flailing, one foot clogging, the other waltzing. My dance partner/husband Sandy, is the easy does it guy with a lackadaisical sway, dancing, mainly with facial expressions–just picture a stoned mime. That dance accurately describes our daily challenge to not step on each other’s toes.

            Recently on a short road trip we were brainstorming topics for potential blog posts. Doesn’t everyone do that for auto-tainment? I had a banner idea… the top ten annoying things he does that make me crazy. I scribble them with ease in my notebook while he quietly drives down the road. “Finished ta-da!… piece of cake… I’m ready to write the sequel.”

“Okay, but first, I have ten of my own, counter to yours.” he says.

A strong marriage team is like complementary colors which, when placed next to each other, create the strongest contrast and reinforce each other. So here they are below, in living color.

Number One

He’s like a GPS chatterbox. Have you ever heard that saying “ask the time and he’ll build you a clock?” That’s my husband. If you ask for driving directions, you have to know when to walk away, usually after his first three steps. After that… he wanders… listing alternative routes… sharing memories of the last time he was there… asking questions like, “remember the auto parts store on the corner?”

She never pays attention to where she’s going. Even if she’s been someplace a dozen times she’ll ask me for directions… walking away, fingers in ears before I’m finished. Later, she calls, irritated with me because she’s lost.

Number Two

I’m in the middle of a project, reach for my hammer, but it’s nowhere in sight. Why? Because Mr. Neat Nik put it away. He’s OCD about his sacred tools. One day I’m searching for a simple screwdriver. He runs into the garage, clearly shaken, accusing me of tool abuse. The specific crime was opening and closing the drawers too fast causing the pretty little rows of tools to fall out of alignment. Really?

I know Deb’s up and ready to start the day when I walk into the kitchen and bang my head on one of all the cupboard doors left open. Her logic is that she might need back in there someday. And, she’s a junkie for junk drawers. We have 27, with more on the way. What goes in a junk drawer? Whatever fits. She even carries a mobile junk drawer disguised as a purse.

Number Three

I’m forced to live my life at least 15 minutes early. All those minutes spent waiting for the normal guests to arrive. We are always first, period… no challengers. I suspect our friends will soon start tampering with the time on our invitations because they’re tired of entertaining us before the party begins.

She calculates our departure time like a ticking time bomb, not wanting to arrive one millisecond early. What’s with that? What horrendous plight awaits early guests? Do the hosts eat the first to arrive? Punctuality is not a crime. And ish? It’s not a time. Period.

Number Four

He won’t try new things. Food likes and dislikes are written in stone. If it’s green, he’s leery. If he tried something once as a toddler, he’s not giving it another chance. Memories of childhood food traumas rule his adult taste buds.

 I – DON’T – LIKE – LIVER. Is that so complicated? I don’t care how many people she has converted to “liverites” with her special recipe, the flavor and disgusting texture have not changed since I was a kid. That goes for most green foods, like avocados. How about oysters? She tosses raw oysters down her throat and wonders why I don’t trust her food judgment. 

Number Five

As picky as he can be, (see above), he has no problem devouring 30 day old leftover pizza. He responds to my concerns for his health with “what?” And expiration dates on food? They’re just some conspiracy theory bunk.

 40 years ago, she may have gotten food poisoning after eating a burger from one of our local restaurants. It’s obvious she was the only target because they’re still in business today. If they still want Deb dead, she’ll never know because she’s not going back. If I get a craving for one of their famous juicy burgers, I have to sneak for fear she’ll barge through the door with a makeshift stomach pump. Even worse, if she hears someone reported slight nausea after eating at a national chain restaurant across the world, our local version is exnayed off the list… forevermore.

Number Six

Remember the story of the Princess and the Pea? She was so delicate and sensitive she could feel a pea placed under a stack of 10 mattresses. That’s Sandy. He complains of imaginary minute particles jabbing his back side. This carries over to his clothing. He’s been known to remove tags from shirts leaving a gaping hole and according to him, he’s under constant attack from his killer underwear.

You know the saying that “____ rolls downhill?” Well, I‘m bigger than Deb, so my side is where all the crackers, peanuts and popcorn end up. There’s nothing worse than starting the day with a peanut embedded in your back like a 3-d tattoo.

Number Seven

Rules are suggestions and never apply to him. He’ll suffer dire consequences to reserve his right to break the rules. If the button says don’t push, he’s going to push it. If the sign says wrong way, he ignores it. He even jumps up and down on motel beds. My guess is he was told not to when he was three.

She’s a slave to rules. It’s genetic. You better read the guide book before meeting the family. There are rules for all occasions, even simple ones, like dinner. I was warned not to pass food in the opposite direction. If her dad orchestrates the peas, potatoes and meat clockwise, you must abide. I tried, but wouldn’t you be curious what would happen if the biscuits rebelled and suddenly turned counter clockwise? As you can imagine… nothing horrific happened… until later when I got an earful from Deb.

Number Eight

If it were up to Sandy, all life would be freestyle. No plans. There’d be no such thing as wedding planners, special event coordinators or even simple dinner menus. We’d all just show up somewhere random and fend for ourselves. Yet, when life gets messy, he’s right there asking me questions like “what shall we do?” Stick to the plan… oh, yeah… we don’t have one.

Compared to Deb, the Boys Scouts of America are slackers. She over prepares for everything. Her to-do lists have master lists, outlines for future lists and appendices for existing lists. Once she’s tortured me with the original micro-plan, the second “just in case” phase begins, . If she invites you to dinner and you find fifty hungry strays on the way, no worries, she’s ready.

 Number Nine

In his mirror, dressed up means wearing a T-shirt with a clever (subjective) statement. If it’s a worthy quip, holes or stains are no concern. What’s wrong with a starched white shirt and blue jeans? Someday I’m having a shirt made for him that reads: Disclaimer: My wife does not pick out my clothing. 

She gets a sadistic thrill when I wear uncomfortable clothing. Starch is her friend, not mine. My neck will be red, raw and my legs chaffed and bleeding from new stiff jeans… she’ll shoot me a sick grin saying, “you look so nice.” I suspect it’s payback for high heels and bras.

Number Ten

He doesn’t even try to keep up with the conversation. This is the man who can build a house from a tree, fix just about anything and tests high on IQ tests. Yet, he can’t keep up with a lighthearted update chat of the week?

Once again, I try. Yet, I’m the insensitive jerk because I’m lost between conversation change one and two while she’s darting between 11, 12 and 13. How did we go from squash to her mom’s hair color? I’m not sure what kind of tree that is? Yes, I agree the treehouse needs painted this year. I didn’t realize buttermilk was a color. Yes, biscuits sound good for breakfast. I try, I really try.

     Yes, he drives me crazy and, I guess, I have the same effect on him. The truth is, we celebrate these differences as they make us better individuals and strengthen our coupledom. There is mutual benefit in the rubbing of two iron blades together; the edges become sharper, making the knives more efficient in their task to cut and slice.

If you want your own messy relationship to flourish, we have one word of advice:

Lead each other to the cross. Start there… live there… die there.

Beauty Tips from the Acclaimed Universal Expert – God

calla lily field

“Pretty is as pretty does.”

That’s what Mom said… just at the right moments, like when–

I told my little brother I dip his toothbrush in the toilet…daily. Or after he ratted me out, screaming, “Mom, she’s slugging me again.”

If you’ve survived an impish redheaded younger brother, you get it.

Point is, Mom was right.

We look to celebrities walking the red carpet in the fickle flash of stardom. We buy their creams, dyes, wraps, and philosophies, then wonder why our mirrors betray. We follow every beauty tip Cosmo prints with religious zeal. When a star falls, caught spitting vile words, or cheating, lying and stealing, we see through the thin veil of outer appearance. They stand mascara streaked, tongue frantically wagging in defense, all that was lovely, trumped, when ugly rears its nasty head.

We all want to be attractive, men and women alike. So where do we turn for lasting beauty tips that never fade with time? Makes sense we’d ask the universally renowned expert… God. Besides painting all the colors in His infinite Crayola box, he thought them up. Go ahead, take a moment –try to think up a color. It’s a good exercise proving His ways are higher than ours. So, who better to ask than the creator of all beauty? He has plenty to say on the subject, just read his best selling book. Oh, and it’s His only book – guess you don’t need a sequel when you get it perfect the first time.

Here’s a list of His top five Beauty tips (more are available when you read the book).

1. Clean under the rug. rug

Sweep out the dust bunnies hidden in the corners of your heart. They’re ugly, pesky critters jumping out for all to see with the slightest beam of light. Likewise, who wants to drink from a lovely porcelain cup trimmed in gold if the inside is corroded and stained with gunk.

Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. Luke 11:39

child2. Be like a child.

Not childish, but childlike. Seek the humility of a child who is destitute of ambition, pride, and haughtiness. Children are characteristically humble, teachable and beautiful. Have you ever listened to a child pray? Not a rote prayer, they don’t understand, but a prayer sent straight from their heart to God. Their prayers soar, express delivery, because they have no excess padding and fluff. Unlike the Pharisees standing on the corner with their pretty prayers, children keep it simple. They might pray for a few dozen dead goldfish, but when their tiny hands raise in praise to their heavenly Father you’ll witness one of life’s most captivating views. Watch and listen to the children, they know what we’ve forgotten long ago.

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. Matthew 19:14

3. Feed the imperishable, starve the hungry perishables. mirror

Don’t be a slave to your mirror. Mirrors are unfaithful masters that break into a gazillion pieces and rot beside us in our graves. We’ve all heard the saying “You can’t take it with you.” But if you focus your energies on matters with eternal purpose, you’ll at least have something to carry through the pearly gates.

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4

4. Don’t worry. calla3

Anxiety, worry and striving are three unattractive traits. I think we’d all agree that Godly confidence is charismatic. A person of steadfast faith draws others near them, effortlessly. I love thinking about the scripture below about ‘how the flowers of the field grow.” It calms me because it’s true. I picture myself spinning in the middle of a field of Calla Lilies. I’m obsessing and asking why, how and what will I do? The Calla Lilies, standing tall in full vibrancy answer me, subliminally, “hey stupid… look at us. Just do what we do.”

“But you’re not doing anything… oh duh.”

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Mathew:6:28

5. Love others. cross

This is God’s number one beauty tip. I saved it for last because if you accomplish this, all the others fall into place. God is love and He is beyond beautiful. He sent his Son to show us. Nothing has or ever will compare to the beauty of His sacrifice. Yet we too can do mighty things through Love. There’s no stain it cannot remove. No darkness it cannot light. No hurt it cannot heal. It never fails. Love’s power pulls you out of the pit, prunes the clinging vines of sin, showers you with grace, and restores us for we are fearfully and wonderfully created.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John3:16

Five Reaction Styles to Fear: When the Boogey Man Knocks does Faith Answer?

The_Scream

Imagine this: After enduring Walmart, you walk to your car, slip the key in the ignition and some guy hops in next to you demanding your cash or he’ll shoot. What would you do?

The 92 year old woman in this newscast simply says no – three times. Next she tells the intruder why his plan is not a good idea.

“ I’ll go to heaven and you’ll go to hell.”

With calm assurance she points out that Jesus is with her, even now in the car. The grace-shocked, would-be assailant tears up, kisses her cheek, and goes home to pray. He did take all her money, $10, that is after she insisted on giving it to him. No wonder Jesus hangs out with her. What a woman.

Her story got me thinking. How would I respond to such a threat? A look at my past reactions to fear revealed five styles.

  • Survival
  • Self Righteous Stupidity
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • Frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a hoot.
  • Faith

 

                Survival

The Depot Café was known around town for knife fights, lewd behavior and a popular after hours cocktail, kept under the counter for special patrons. I worked weekend graveyard shifts, raking in hefty tips and wild stories to boast about Monday mornings at school. It was exciting, like entering the pages of a Dicken’s novel alongside seamy, colorful characters. There was Zeke, a soft spoken Native American guy, notorious for fighting, failing nightly at convincing his challengers he no longer wanted to compete. And Sam, sometimes lucid with tales of better times, but most often blitzed and forlorn. One night seated next to my dad at the counter, he plops face first into his bowl of chili.

“See? This is not a good job,” said Dad shaking his head.

Had Dad been in yesterday, Sam was on the same stool alongside his granddaughter, eating ice cream and giggling.

Granted, not ALL the characters were charming… like creepy Chuck. One night he flashed his pistol from inside his jacket pocket, slurring hostile obscenities at me. My boss, a walking cliché for a movie mobster, motioned for Zeke and they escorted him out the door. An hour later, my shift ended. I lived four blocks away in a studio apartment above a pet store. Within half a block from the diner, I sense creepy Chuck behind me. He’s that Boris Karloff type whose presence is accompanied by horror movie background music. My reaction was simply one of survival when adrenaline revs up and you do whatever it takes. In this case, I ran. Weaving left and right, dazing my wasted stalker, I was able to slip unnoticed under a parked car. The sound of my breathing echoed through the greasy engine above, until finally, daylight talked me out from under the car.

Self Righteous Stupidity

This reaction to fear is simply pride run amok. Just picture a Chihuahua yapping at the heels of evil. Thankfully, most my examples come from my drinking days, but not all. Recently I felt it rising up when a group of gang bangers or wannabes came across my path. The smallest of the three must have practiced his look in the mirror that morning because he had it down. With one look he ordered me to look away, cower, and flee like a frantic quail. Instead, I counter with my best mean mom look with the unsaid message of “where’s your mother young man? I’m not saying I should’ve responded with fear, but my motive, my heart behind this reaction, was neither noble nor courageous. Fortunately, they had paint cans stuffed down their pants ready to mark territory up ahead with no time to deal with an “I’m telling your mother type threat.”

Exaggerated Startle Response

This diagnosis comes from my ever-lurking husband. He doesn’t get why finding him behind a door in a dark hall causes me to spring through the air ninja style, followed by a full throttle wail alerting the neighbors, that yes, he’s finally murdered his wife. This reaction is sudden, like projectile vomiting – the body is in motion faster than my thoughts, saying, “hey, it’s just your husband lurking again.”

Frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a hoot

I hope you can’t relate to this reaction to fear, but suspect there are some who do. It’s when a serious threat is rolling towards you and you don’t care enough to step out of the way. It’s the pit of depression, well below the core amongst the burning embers. All you can do is stare up at hope, thinking it’s beyond your reach.

Faith

Crawling out of the pit mentioned above comes only from reacting to fear in faith. I wish I could tell you a tale equal to our 92 year old hero in the video. Not happening. I can only hope someday to be more like her. My faith moments usually sound like this “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, help me, Jesus.” What can I say? It works. Calling on His name, knowing He is always there.

I know we’re called to “fear not,” but for others like me, that’s a calling we pray into fruition. Remember, we’re in great company like King David-

Psalm 34:4 New International Version (NIV)

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.

 

Psalm 55:4-5New International Version (NIV)

My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.