Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Spooky Judgments

Living on the cold, Canadian prairie meant that my four-year-old daughter’s Halloween costume had to fit over her big, puffy snowsuit. We found an adorable clown outfit which worked well with the large rainbow afro wig that was her favorite dress up item and headed out the door.

We weren’t out for very long as she didn’t embrace the concept of knocking on strangers’ doors and taking candy – the two very things we had trained her to never do. Back in the warmth of our kitchen, we sat at the table, sorting through her goodies. She was unusually quiet.

“Mommy,” she said, finally breaking the silence, “If Jesus was born to give us Christmas, and died for Easter, what did He do to give us Halloween?”

Wow. Seriously?

“Um, no, this isn’t a Jesus holiday . . .”

Pushing the candy towards me, she got up from the table, “Yeah, I thought it was the Devil’s thing – I don’t want to do it anymore.”

And that was that.

I had grown up in a Christian home and would go trick-or-treating with our pastor’s daughter every year. It had never been an issue to me. But, now my own daughter – at the age of four – felt convicted and didn’t want to participate.

How could I argue? So for our family, we stopped trick-or-treating, but struggled for years on whether or not to still hand out candies. Some years we did, other years we withheld. Our church held alternatives and some times we would attend, other years we stayed home. We would ‘feel’ our way through prayer every year and act accordingly. When we do pass out goodies, we try to stick Bible verses on each candy or include a Christian tract – when else do we have our neighbours come knocking on our doors? Best to take advantage!

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.”

I don’t judge friends and family who choose to participate in Halloween; everyone needs to be true to their own convictions. We have noticed however, that the last ten years or so the merchandising and commercialism of the holiday has taken off big time. Celebrating Halloween for our family is definitely a no-no. We do not hang up decorations or promote ‘spooky’ haunted houses. As Christians, we are fully aware of the spiritual realm and it is not to be taken lightly.

Just remember that non-believers are watching and being divisive or judgmental is not going to win anyone to Christ.

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Romans 14:1-4 (ESV)

To trick or to treat . . . or not . . . that is not the question. The question is regardless to what we choose; will they know we are Christians by our love?

Sunday, 27 October 2013

A Wonderful Thing

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

Sixty-three times in the King James Version, the Lord says, ‘Fear not”.

Call me crazy, but I get the feeling that He wants us to trust him and . . . not fear. Pretty sharp, huh?

Easier read than done. When I think of fear, I am reminded of the popular Winnie the Pooh series books I would recite to my girls when they were little. I’d cringe whenever I came across Piglet. I could be such a nervous willy-nilly like him; always fussing with fear of unknowns. No, I much preferred Tigger.  He just bounced through life completely in a joyful state of oblivion.

Something that has brought me from the Piglet side to the Tigger team, is a little card stuffed in my Bible. It’s my faithfulness ledger. I say ledger because each entry is not long or poetic, but short and to the point. I write down the various times that the Lord has come through for me. The big ones and the small. Of course it doesn’t include everything – I would need a library to contain all his blessings and times of protection, (many of them unknown).

Now, when I begin to roll a fear around in my head, I stop, read a few reminders of his faithfulness and the tumble cycle of anxiety stops. I think it’s because you can’t praise and worry at the same time. You either bounce in faith or worry in doubt. Start your own faithfulness ledger today and join me on the Tigger team – because a Tigger’s a wonderful thing.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Great Exchange

“Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot." 1 Peter 1:18-19 (ESV)

Most women like to shop and one of our favorite things to shop for is  . . . shoes. We walk into a store, pick up a pair and slowly turn them around and around, examining and admiring them from every angle. We look at the price-tag and check out the price . . . on sale for $50. We pull off the shoes we wore into the store (in utter disgust—wondering what we were thinking when we bought them), and try on the shiny new pair.

Then, standing in front of the awkward floor height mirror, we imagine how our lives would change if we only had them. Cinderella says, ‘The right pair of shoes can change your life,’ these just may be that pair. Now we're getting committed. Leaning next to the rack, still staring with wonder at them, we begin to mentally flip through our wardrobe considering what outfits could go with the coveted heels. Nothing? No worries. All the better in fact! Now we can shop some more!  We slip them off with much care, place them gingerly in the box and walk to the till. Opening our wallet, we count out fifty dollars in bills having carefully determined the shoe’s worth and pay the cashier what we have decided is a reasonable price for the beauties. An exchange has been made—cash for the shoes; an equal and fair swap.


Now, here’s the thing. The Creator of the whole universe looked at you. He examined you and considered you—just as you are with all your sin and faults—and He said, I love her. I want to spend eternity with her. Zephaniah chapter 3 says that He delights in you and sings over you, (I’ve delighted over shoes but never sang over any)! And He took out his heavenly wallet and paid for you, not with a twenty, not with a fifty, but with the precious blood of His Son.

Girlfriend, you are priceless. No matter what anyone has said to you or about you, please recognize the great exchange that was done on your behalf and your value as a daughter of the King. How precious are we who are redeemed with such a costly currency! Now there’s something to dance about . . . I think I just may need a new pair of party shoes . . .

Photo: Vera Kratochvil

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Step Away From the Pew . . . and Put Down Your Mask

I am lonely.

That is what I am hearing, over and over again. Loners, leaders and ‘popular’ ladies all say it. Dozens of women have shared stories with me over the last few weeks; some break my heart and others inspire me. Many have said that during their loneliness, ‘God was their all in all’.  I so get that. He has filled the gap for me many times.

God said in Genesis that it was not good for man to be alone; it goes for us women too. We were designed for relationships. First of all, an intimate relationship with God, but then beyond that, to have deep meaningful friendships as well. A word search of ‘lonely’ in the King James, New King James, ESV and NIV brought up less than a half a dozen results. But before I even looked, when I was reflecting this morning I recalled the loneliest year of my life and how Psalm 102:7 resonated with me: ‘I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop”.

I remembered reading that verse and literally falling on my face before the Lord. It summed up my pain in such a vivid picture. I wrote it down in my journal and spoke it out loud to Him countless times during the year of my divorce when many of my friends deserted me. Loneliness enveloped me and, in fact, in time I learned to embrace it; so much safer to be alone than to be hurt again. Upon emerging from that painful year, I had changed the way I related to women and how close I would allow them to get. Social media became my safe place.

There is a video, The Innovation of Loneliness that really got me to thinking about how we, as women, have changed the way we interact with each other. Back when my mother was a stay at home mom, she and her whole generation would typically do their chores in the morning and then socialize in the afternoon. Tea, bridge, Bible studies . . . however it looked, they did face to face relationship building.

By the time I had my children, I too learned the trick of tidying up in the morning to be free to meet with friends in the afternoon.  After lunch I would wander the malls with my sister-in-law or have friends pop over for tea while our kids played at our feet. Whether pushing our strollers or our own opinions, we could read each other’s faces and extend a hand in comfort when tears fell. When I returned to work, we changed it up to meet in the evenings or weekends over coffee. It was honest. And raw. In real-time.


Now most of us only give (((hugs))) and :( as a way to respond to our friends’ painful moments. I am the guiltiest. As a wounded introvert, Facebook, texts and Twitter have enabled me to hide away in my own safe, private cocoon all the while convincing myself that I’m not a hermit. After all, I have over two hundred ‘friends’.  (And, yes, I know, two hundred is a small number for Facebook; I’m an elitist and don’t accept just anybody. Feel privileged.)

Last night there was a women’s fellowship time at our church. I told my husband that I didn’t want to go and fake being happy. He suggested that I instead walk in with a sign around my neck that read, ‘Disappointed and Disillusioned’— a friend had recently broken my heart and it was still in recovery. I didn’t have any desire to be around other women at all but I went . . . sans sign.

God, in His infinite love, brought another woman to my side who confessed that she too would have liked to have hung a sign around her neck and we bonded as we shared our brokenness in face to face honesty. It was rare and sweet.

Which, in turn, brought me to write this post; to this reflection. Why are those moments so few and far between?

Even when we go to church, according to the dozens of you who said so yourselves, why do we put on masks and only reveal what we think those around us are willing to accept? Why do we crave acceptance of a false representation of ourselves more than authentic relationships? Is it because we’ve become a generation of people who place so much emphasis on numbers of friends that we have sacrificed quality for quantity—just like the Innovation of Loneliness video surmises? Or, is it because we are all so wounded we would rather hide behind false relationships than risk being hurt or rejected again?

I don’t know. But I am willing to do an experiment. I am going to (once again) only allow myself to venture into the Facebook Friend realm on Saturday mornings for the month of October to see if this disconnect will draw me more to the phone (which FYI as an introvert I typically hate) and to coffee shops for connection (caffeine and conversation . . . much better).  I would think that breaking free from the addiction of social media may have many other positive effects such as opening up more time with the Lord as well.

As a writer who is working on building a platform to promote my upcoming book, this would be deemed career suicide, but I think the Lord has his hand on things. Obedience rules. Fear of God trumps fear of editors and publishers. And I for one am finally ready to find true friends who want more than just (((hugs))), :) and ♡. I challenge you to engage yourselves more face to face this month as well. To build real time friendships . . . and then please leave a comment or email me and share what you discovered about developing authentic relationships.

I am working on a book that addresses the conflicts that sometimes occur between ‘church ladies’- and would like to hear from you via the following NEW anonymous 4 question survey (click here). You may also email her at Lori@LovingKindnessMinistries.ca  to say hello.

Photo Credit Vera Kratochvil