Monday, October 13, 2014

Why I'm Deleting The Good Wife from My Playlist

Let me start by saying I've been a fan of Julianna Margulies going back to her ER days with that Clooney guy.  She was captivating as Carol and I was thrilled to hear she was in a new series.

The premise of The Good Wife was immediately intriguing to me- a good woman done wrong by her corrupt husband and her battle to maintain her dignity, protect her children and build a new life for them and herself.  They had me hook, line and sinker.  I've been a fan from day one. 

The acting, cast and scripts have been consistently superb.  The cliff hangers never fail to take my breath away. (Will!)  Even so, today I deleted TGW from my DVR playlist.  And though I have been thoroughly entertained with every single episode, I had to do it.  

There are  many reasons, including the trivial treatment of and the ridiculous and trite references with regard to Christianity.  Additionally, the attorneys who blithely represent the worst of the worst;  drug dealers, murderers, liars, thieves and worse, don't seem to have any hesitation about making a living (and a good one at that) by defending and protecting those who prey on those weaker and less "connected'.  

How different this story might have been had at least one of the great characters had any misgivings about those issues. In the beginning, I had hoped that Alicia would find her way back to happiness and that she would bring some goodness to the ruthless partners in the law practice she joined.  I wished that she would be a roll model for her children, she who had for so long been  in the  shadow of a husband who failed to value the treasure that was their family.  

I guess I kept hoping that at some point, good would win out, at least once in a while.  It didn't happen. Still I watched faithfully.  So, what was the tipping point for me?  

Honestly, a big part of it was a conviction that has been tugging at my heart for a while- a sense that I spend  far too much of my precious time watching too much television in general.  Then,  I watched what was my final foray into TGW.  

It wasn't one thing. It was an accumulation of things.  When Alicia  agreed to run for State's Attorney knowing full well that her campaign seed money was "generously" provided by a ruthless drug king pin, I wondered what had happened to her.   Alicia's life is no longer admirable or hopeful or wistful.  She is a mess, out of touch with her children and with no loving  relationships outside of her workplace.  She has no support system.  She's a rock. She's charming but, with no warmth, regret or hope.  She's strong and controlled and beautiful on the outside. But, she's empty on the inside. 

Frankly, I realized that I no longer like Alicia. Instead, I pity her.   Furthermore,  there's not one character on the show I would want to be friends with.  While they are fascinating from a distance, they are individually and collectively out for themselves.  Loyalty only comes into play when it relates to their professional endeavors. There is no caring. No compassion. No goodness. None. Good isn't winning out over evil.   

Alicia has turned into her husband, Peter, and I cannot bear to watch it anymore.  I'm saying goodbye to the Good Wife because she isn't anymore. 

Grateful for the wake up call. I can do better. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Epiphany~Only ONE

This might not sound like much,
But, I had this thought, today.

There is only One. 

'See,  I've been wrestling with a pretty big issue. 
In the midst of it, I've been looking for that one person,
That white knight  or fairy godmother, who would fix things.

You, know: 
Right what was wrong. 
Find the missing pieces.
Forgive every failure,
Redeem what was lost. 

I used all my power and influence and found it lacking. 
I reached out to this one and that, with no satisfactory response.
I complained. Grumbled. Whined. And yes, I even prayed.
 (imagine that.)

And, then, as if in answer to prayer,   I spied a new potential "savior" on the horizon.
 I secretly rejoiced- sure that they held the key
Confident that they would see all, know all and understand all clearly.
They were gonna be the fixer-upper. 

But business as usual prevailed. 
Hope waned. 
Frustration grew.
Anger flared.
Disappointment turned to resignation.

And then it happened. 
The light bulb burst forth light.

There is only one Savior. 
Only. One. 

If I put my faith in any human being,
I will know disappointment. 
They will fail just as I so often do.

They will fall short and I will not feel heard or  respected or valued. 
There is no earthly one who will never fail. 
There is only One. 

Yesterday, today and forever. 

Only. One. 

And One's all I need. JESUS.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Ordinary Days~Extraordinary Moments

My heart is fairly bursting with gratitude today at the end of an ordinary week filled with extraordinary moments…

The realization of what a blessing it is to know your life's purpose (because when you understand that, you know where you're going and can enjoy the journey-no matter the twists and turns it may take to get there)

Genuine, heartfelt worship --(thank you Benny Oke and the Sounds of Worship)  (because when you enter into true worship, it's a joy that fills your soul and carries you for days!)

Protection from two near misses on the road (because sometimes it's out of your hands)

Laughing pillow to pillow with the husband before we slept last night (because it makes for sweet sleep and pleasant dreams)

Good work with good people living out a mission statement that matters (because that doesn't happen everywhere)

Little arms reaching up for me (because it's as good to hold as it is to be held)

Coming to grips with "what's the worst that could happen?" (because it makes me realize where my hope must always be and allows me to rest in that)

Texting with my girl late at night (because I love sharing her heart and knowing what to pray for her)

The realization that all my fears, insecurities, failures, struggles, pains and faults aren't meant to keep me down but to cause me to  lean into the One who can lift me up (Because sometimes I lose sight of the fact that He's the One who can redeem them)


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

With all due respect, Oprah...

The sleeve on my chai tea featured an Oprah Winfrey quote:  

"Be more splendid. Be more extraordinary.  Use every moment to fill yourself up."

I'm sorry, Oprah.  But, with all due respect, you've got it wrong. 

The self-esteem movement has yielded us a generation of young adults who have grown up believing that they are the best, most special, finest, smartest and strongest in the history of the world. Splendid? Extraordinary?  I think not.  And, by the way--maybe it's time to stop spending every moment filling ourselves up and start emptying ourselves out

The God who walked this earth didn't consider Himself "splendid".  He didn't encourage us to be more "extraordinary" and He most certainly didn't tell us to spend every moment to fill ourselves up.  So, sorry, Oprah.  I know you mean well, but, the truth is, lots of well meaning folk speak a lot of drivel. It sounds nice, but, it's dead wrong.

Chew on this…

"For whoever exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."  Jesus, Luke14:11

Jesus reminded us that "without Me you can do nothing."  John 15:5

We are not called to be splendid or extraordinary.  We are called to "have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called."  Eph 4:1 

"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself." Phil 2:3

The goal, dear Oprah,  is not to be splendid. Not to be extraordinary. Not to puff ourselves up.  There's a whole lot of that all around us.  And, as your friend, Dr. Phil, might ask, "how's that working for ya?"

Some better advice might be found in Paul's letter to the Philippians.  The goal, he lays out is more about self-sacrifice than about self-love.  Less about grabbing all the gusto and more about pouring ourselves out as an offering of gratitude.  More about being a servant than being the center of the universe. Heck, he said it clearly-

"Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.  He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what.  Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!  Having become human, he stayed human.  It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privilege Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless obedient death…Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever." (Phil. 2:7-9 The Message)

We are tempted day and night by the ways of this world. To be the best, to make the most, to attain fame, to be magnificent or splendid or extraordinary.  But, none of that comes by filling ourselves up, but, instead by being filled up by the Holy Spirit of a Holy God who fills us with His power, enabling us to step back and step down in order that He might be glorified.  

It's a battle to step back from it.  We are bombarded by those encouraging us to focus on ourselves.  It sounds good, but it's not right.  

My challenge?

Be more humble. Be more self-sacrificing. Use every moment to give yourself away.

Now that would be both splendid and extraordinary.  


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Savoring Sixty

A mere 10 years ago, my 50th birthday slipped by, practically unnoticed in the hubbub of the daughter's impending wedding.  A year later, said daughter planned a surprise soiree to mark #51 where I was blessed by the presence and the presents of dear friends and family who came to celebrate with me.  This year, I've crossed over to a new decade. Oh. My.

To mark it, the husband and the daughter pulled off the most amazing surprise, the night before Easter at our favorite place with our favorite people.  What an amazing event and how blessed I was! It was a slice of wonderful.  My heart was so full!  But, after the party, comes the growing older part…

Were the fifties fabulous? I'd say so.  There was  a major home remodel, a  job change, a corneal transplant,  new ministry opportunities, two beautiful new granddaughters, multiple trips to places near  and far as well as the trip of a lifetime to Italy with the husband. Not that it was all rainbows and light…in the same time frame, loss and sorrow visited, too.  We lost all four of our parents in this decade, rendering us middle aged orphans.  And that feels very odd, indeed.

Still. It's been a pretty great ten years.

As I contemplated sixty, there was no regret--no wishing I were 22 or 32 or 42 or even 52.  I am not unaware that I am growing older.  Lord knows. with the ridiculous amount of magnification needed to put on my make-up every morning,  I can clearly see the lines and crevices on my once taut and dewy face. Every. One. Of. Them.

I stopped coloring my hair more nearly five years back and  gave up high heels in lieu of flats for the most part over the last two or three.  I've seen a chiropractor with some regularity for various ailments, from my back to my shoulders to my ankles.  I conquered anemia and now am low on calcium and a little high on the cholesterol.  Yes,  a little schizophrenic, I know.   I have repeatedly lost the same 15 pounds but, it keeps finding me.  I do find that a little irritating, I confess.

I look back at photos when I was in my 20's and 30's.  I didn't know it then, but, today they'd call me "hot". Who knew?  As a younger woman, I was far more apt to compare myself unfavorably to others vs knowing  that I had something unique and precious to offer, just by being myself, the one created exactly as she was intended to be.  Additionally, I was living for myself, for the pleasures of this life  vs living a life with the purpose that centers me today.

I guess you could say, for me, life really did "begin" at 40.  Or, perhaps, it began anew.  Reconciliation of a marriage, a return to the West Coast, sharing the responsibility of raising a daughter, navigating the trials and tribulations of said marriage and rebuilding a life together through all the perilous curves and detours  along the way.  To say it was often tumultuous would be a gross understatement.  And yet, I knew that I had been called by the One who first called me His own. And so, I persevered, often on my knees, always trusting  that He was faithful despite my weakness.

Thus began the road home. A road littered with both joy and disappointment,  sorrow and  laughter, anger and  kindness, smiles and tears,  but, also a stubborn tenacity.  A road with mile markers called faith, hope and love. Along the way, love grew, prayers were answered, tears cleansed and wounds were healed. We pressed on in faith.  We grew in grace and it was good.

So, when I look back, I wouldn't trade my flats for those beautiful heels, nor the grey for the striking brunette I used to be…not  the extra pounds I've gained for the curves now blurred. I wouldn't trade the life I have, the faith I've gained, the wisdom gleaned or the contentment I feel for the idol known as youth. It's a facade I no longer feel compelled to keep up. I surrender.  I am in a new place, a better place, the right place.  I am not looking back with regret for that which has passed, but, instead,  forward to that which I know will be immeasurably richer and fuller.  It already is.  An unexpected gift. Yes, contentment.

I embrace sixty. I acknowledge,without regret, that any sense of control is most certainty  an illusion.  I no longer expect "happily ever after" but treasure every moment of happiness, knowing it comes and it goes.  I rest in the expectation that my God is in control and I am not.   Entering one's seventh decade is a reminder that life is speeding by and that some traveling partners have, and will continue to, fall by the wayside. There are no guarantees that those I love will continue to walk alongside me or, for that matter, that I will be here to travel with them,  come tomorrow.  With this passing of time, sorrow and loss is inevitable.

Heaven is my destination and I'm headed there, sooner or later. Mostly, I hope it's later, but,  I realize I don't get to choose, when or how. My goal is to be ready when He calls.   For now, as the apostle Paul said, in his letter to the Philippians,  " I press on...forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  I trust (as Paul continued in chapter three) "our citizenship is in Heaven…we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body.." Now that's something to look forward to.

Yes. I am pressing on, delighted to be at this stage of this journey He has planned for me. Grateful for every mountain and every valley, every struggle and every joy.  All have been markers along the way that brought me to this place.  And it's been a beautiful life thus far. A treasure.

So. Very. Grateful.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Full Moon

Thank you Jesus for small gifts throughout this day
Raisin toast and hot coffee
The voice of my little one
Arms to comfort those who grieve 
Hope in the midst of defeat
Warm scarves around my neck
A firm bed to sleep in
A visit from a friend
Encouraging words
A grateful heart.

Good Night, Moon.
You've never looked so beautiful. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Lion Roars, But The Light Shines

What is more precious than the knowledge that the mercy of our God falls new upon us, every morning? Every. Morning.

…because as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, it won't be long before something will catch us off guard, kick us in the gut, take our very breath away and leave us gasping for air.

We are told in 1 Peter 5 to be sober. Vigilant... "Because our adversary, the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking who he may devour." 

We live our lives,  mostly unaware of the forces of darkness that are pushing the boundaries, seeking to put out the light.  And though the light cannot be diminished, the lion roars .  And when it does, we must be vigilant, holding fast to the truth, eyes fixed on Jesus.

"The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5)

Even so, the lion roars. And looks for every opportunity to strike.

In the midst of our gasping, as our legs give out and we find ourselves unable to even scream for help, we must fix our eyes on Him. And though the lion roars, we will not be devoured.  Light will shine in the darkness because the darkness has not overcome it. He said so.

Hence, the prophet Jeremiah's confession of faith…

"Remember my affliction and roaming.  
The wormwood and the gall.
My soul still remembers
And sinks within me.
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.

Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness
The Lord is my portion, says my soul, 
Therefore I hope in Him !

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord.

~Lamentations 3:19-26

Grateful for legs to stand on…eyes to see…light to show the way and His mercy and compassion that is new.

 Every. Single. Morning.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Living in a Postmodern Culture While Embracing Truth

Of late, I am  often been reminded of the old hymn which says,

"This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through…"

There are days, when that, alone, keeps me moving forward. We've got to get to the other side, right?

Upside down:  What once was honored, is now despised...

Think: modesty, respect for authority, motherhood, fatherhood, faith, "Father Knows Best," hard work, marriage, living within your means, innocence, humility, truth, soft hearts, discretion, depth, honor, patriotism, politeness, reverence, respect, absolutes, gentleness, distinction of roles, sexual purity, family, children, the elderly, wisdom...

And on the flip side,  what once was despised is honored...

Think:  narcissism,  impulsiveness,  pridefulness, self-esteem,  arrogance, greed, slander, pleasure seeking, independence, lack of commitment, gossip, aggressiveness,  crude language, victim mentality, meaningless sex with unlimited partners, anger, relativism, sarcasm, political correctness, tolerance of anything and everything…

We live in a culture where money and self aggrandizement is king. Selfies.  Front page news is now who has won what award-entertainers collectively patting one another on the back.  It's not enough that we buy their music and see their films and shows, so,  they honor each other with obsequious award shows we all watch with baited breath.  If we aren't watching that, we're watching TMZ, Entertainment Tonight, The Insider,  or reading People Magazine (guilty as charged).

We are lied to by our leaders; elected to represent us and honor our values in the government forum.
We are demeaned for our faith and marginalized by our unwillingness to tolerate every passing fancy. We are called "hateful" for stating biblical truths and considered "out of touch" for wanting to maintain the innocence of our children.  If we disagree, no matter how respectfully, we are termed "haters".

Kindergartners are subjected to "Say No to Drugs" when the only drugs they've been exposed to is Children's Tylenol.  In addition to fire drills, there are drills to prepare for "lock downs", "in case the bad guys come in".  We are terrifying our most innocent segment and teaching them about  sexual preference before they're out of elementary school. And then, we are mocked for promoting school choice or (God forbid!) homeschooling.

It takes every ounce of focus in each of us to keep our eyes on the prize. And if you doubt me, chew on this a while:

"For the word of the cross is folly to hose who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

 I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.  

Where is the one who is wise?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the debater of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.  For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  

For consider your calling, brothers, not many of you were wise according to worldly standard, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  But God chose what is foolish in he world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.  God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. "

...1 Corinthians 1:18-29

We are not of this world, but we are living in it.  And while we are, we must fight the good fight.  We must not get too comfortable and  conform to the standards of this post-modern culture we are living in. We must stand, boldly, unafraid and resolute. Salt and Light. Fearless tranquility in the midst of a raging storm. In, but not of. We are called not to "fit in" but,  to be set apart.

This world is NOT our home.  But, while we're passing through, Lord help us to stand for truth and to minister to a world in desperate need of the love of the  Savior.