My goal is to make this more of an entertaining blog (heavy on my humiliation because there is certainly enough of that to go around) with a dose of encouragement and wisdom.  I may humiliate myself often, but dang I’m smart.

I’m saying that to say that although this entry is a bit more on the serious side, I am not deviating from that entertainment completely.  I am who I am and the jokes just can’t be shut off, folks.  It also leans on the long-winded side.  Again, I can’t shut it off.  Glorious voice party of one? My hand is raised.

I happened to come across a newspaper at work today and read an article that………Well, to put it in the lightest term possible, it wrecked me.    Wrecked me.  And that is an understatement.  I mean, man, I spent the better part of my day in tears.  I know, I know – it’s my own fault for thinking that in these times there wouldn’t be devastation in any form of media.  To be honest?  I don’t watch the news.  I don’t read the newspaper.  I don’t listen to talk radio.  Wait, I listen to Hannity if I happen to come across his show in the car – you know, when I’m going through a no reception zone, or when there is nothing but crap on the radio.  Or when the radio is consumed with too much static even for me (FYI, that’s when I can only make out 1 of 10 words; drives my husband crazy……..And I think we just found the reason I listen to it that long.).

It’s not that I don’t care, and I can’t even really pinpoint the reason that I don’t watch/listen.  If I see it, or hear it or have it near my hands, I’ll stop and pay attention.  I don’t and won’t seek it, though.  Maybe that’s a mistake.  For me (call it a cop-out, call it lazy, call it genius – I’m easy), it can be too much.  I don’t need more tears or more hurt or more pain.  Have I suffered as much as those in the stories?  As evidenced by the story I read today, not even close.  But, I don’t use the same yard stick as everyone else.  I use the yard stick that is in my own closet.  The one that knows my name, not someone else’s. When I stop to pay attention, I am confident that it’s when and about what I need to.  I have so many people in my life (my husband included) that do pay attention on a regular basis; that’s enough for me.

I digress, I think.  Maybe not.  Maybe that was part of my point.  Not all of it, though.

After I read this horrifying and devastating article I made a decision.  It wasn’t a hard decision, but one that I should have been making all along.  When God speaks, dude, He’s not quiet.  If He is, maybe you aren’t tuned into Him.  Maybe that’s been my problem.  Maybe that’s why I’ve felt like I have enough pain and hurt when I don’t have a lot.  Because I am not tuned to Him.  I don’t know about you, but I have certainly noticed that when I try to fix things myself, stubbornly refusing all help, they end up more broken.  When I plan ahead and shove everything else back just so that I am ready and on time, something always pops up and changes everything.  All right, peanut gallery, pipe down.  I’m more late now than I’ve ever been………..and that may not be helping my case.

I remembered that this world, this world that was created out of love and compassion; because we were – are so dang loved was meant to be beautiful and glorious.  We were meant to have it all in Eden.  Even though that’s what this world was created for, it’s become this dark and unyielding place.  We can easily get so consumed and covered by this darkness that we lose sight of the price.  The price of forgetting.  We lose more and more of ourselves to the ways of this world.  When we forget that, we also forget the relief.  The helper that was sent for us.  We have this beacon that is guiding us, or trying to anyway, to safe waters.  No matter where we are in this place of darkness, if we are looking for it, we will see that lighthouse.  We are supposed to be that light to the rest of the world.  The representation of Jesus here on earth.

When we lose sight of that, we forget that darkness is actually there.  Much like it does at sundown (or boiling a lobster), it creeps in slowly.  Sometimes without us noticing it.  We go on and about our lives getting closer and closer to the darkness and farther and farther from the light.  Does that mean that we become a total and complete heathen?  No, I’m not saying that.  I am saying that it’s easy to forget to pray a couple of days in a row, then a couple more, then all together.  I’m saying that it’s easy to hold off reading your Bible and tack on more chapters the next day to make up the difference because you’re so tired.  But that next day turns into the next and then the next and then it’s just too much to read at one sitting so you go sit down and catch up on Once Upon a Time.  Be advised that I am not condemning you; maybe I’m not even talking to you.  I could be just speaking to myself.  The sound of my voice is lovely and I quite enjoy it.  In case you are wondering, Once Upon a Time is my jam (or show, if you will) and I have totally done this.  Who hasn’t?  You know what?  Don’t tell me – put your hand down.  I am going to close my eyes tight and imagine everyone vigorously nodding their heads in agreement that they do, in fact, do this.

When we stop praying and we stop reading and we stop seeking and we stop looking up, the darkness sneaks in there.  The world doesn’t seem so bad.  Still nothing that I want to completely immerse myself in, but not so bad.  That’s when you get a whammy.  Something that hits you in your knower screaming, “Don’t you see this?  Don’t you know?  THIS is what it’s like!”  Friends, that is both a powerful and devastating statement.  No joke in that.  Today, as always, the voice I heard was loving, encouraging and Fatherly in its rebuke.  It was a call back to praying and reading and seeking and looking up.  It was a call back to arms.  Whether or not we want to acknowledge it, or whether or not we believe it, we are on a battlefield.  Don’t you see it?  Don’t you know?  THIS is what it’s like.

The hurt I feel is nothing compared to the devastation that others feel, but that doesn’t mean I don’t hurt.  When we can get off that high horse (man, my legs are tired) we can power through and use that hurt to be a light to others that may be hurting more than us.  Or hurting just as much as us.  Or, wait for it, hurting less than us.  Who are we to use our yard stick for someone else’s pain?  A couple of years after I became a Christian (yeah, right; like I’m going to give you a date on that) I was at a prayer meeting and I was asking (aka unabashedly begging) God to give me His heart. I didn’t want to be shown His heart, I wanted to have His heart.  I wanted to feel what He felt for everyone and every situation.  I wanted to know way deep down how He felt by feeling it myself.  That’s how badly I wanted to be a light.  Let me tell you, kiddos, we serve a God that answers prayer.  Let me also tell you, kiddos, you be careful what you ask for.  He gave me His heart.  All of it.  No holds barred.  You thought I was emotional before? Ha!  I don’t regret it, I never will.  I still want it as much today as I did all those years ago.  Just because I don’t regret it, though, doesn’t mean that it’s not hard as crap.  God loves big – huge – and he hurts gigantically.

I may have fallen sideways a bit in my reading and in my prayers and in my seeking, but my love for Him has never – not even for a millisecond – wavered.  There has not been a day that goes by that I don’t want to see someone come to salvation and deliverance, but my mind isn’t being renewed by the praying and the reading and the seeking.  I’m mentioning that so that you know it’s important to be praying and reading and seeking, but you aren’t a bad Christian if you don’t do it as you’re called to.  Just because I have fallen behind (I have not been backslidden – I have simply gotten side tracked – to the side, not below) it doesn’t mean that the gift of the Father’s heart has left me.  It’s never left.  So when devastating things happen, when unspeakable evil shows up, it’s almost suffocating.  When I told my husband about this article today and I told him how devastated it made me, he told me (bless his heart) that I could only let it affect me so much.  Nope.  No I can’t.  All this article made me want to do is stand up and fight.  To stand in the gap.  And really, isn’t that what the army of God is called to do?  Me?  My chest actually physically hurt.  It was a little hard to breath.

It was a reminder that I am still here; caught off guard because of that side bar, but here nonetheless .  I am still running on all cylinders – most of the time.  Okay, some of the time, but I am able to fight when others aren’t.  And I am able to seek.  When I say seek I am not just talking about seeking God.  We are beacons.  Lighthouses.  I don’t know much about lighthouses, but I assume they sort of turn in a kind of circle…..thing.  That’s right, right?  What they do is shine a light on things previously unseen.  The broken vessels.  The wounded warriors.  The left for dead.  The hurting runaways.  The 18 month old babies that have endured more than any of us will ever begin to comprehend.  So yes, seeking is to seek the lost as much as seeking God.  Be His light and help them be guided out of and away from the darkness.

The decision I made was not really one decision.  Huh, look at that.  I guess I kind of lied.  It was more than one.  I decided that I am going to let my kids be kids.  I am not going to expect them to act right at all the right times.  I am not going to expect them to understand everything I understand.  I am not going to put my burdens on them; not verbally.  I am totally blaming them for my lateness – just in my head and not out loud.  Not out loud to them.  Just to you.  And my husband. And my friends.  Okay, to everyone but them.  My point is, this world is dark and devastating and demeaning and it can be dehumanizing.

My kids?  They are innocent.  They deserve to have that light and that joy that they have now because way before I want them to, and before they may be ready for it, they are going to realize the truth of this world.  I am no longer going to push them towards that.  I am going to let them be kids; teaching them to be in the world not of it. Does that mean I won’t yell?  Ha.  No.  If you think that, you don’t know me at all.  Does that mean that I will never expect right behavior?  C’mon, I’m not completely inept.  No, it’s my job to teach, prepare and raise them.  But I am not going to teach them at a higher level then what they’re at.  I am going to raise them gradually – not all at once.  Who knows, when my kids are 40 they may still be learning how to not throw tantrums.  Lord knows I am, and I am not yet 40.  There’s hope for me yet.

The other decision I made was to get back to the light.  To sail back to the safe harbors.  You know, this must be God, because there is no one that has ever existed that knows less about sailing and lighthouses than me.  I’ve seen a lighthouse before.  One of my favorite songs is called My Lighthouse.  I’ve seen a picture of a ship.  I like a band called Lighthouse.  Oh, wait; maybe that’s Lifehouse?  Anyway, my point is that I know nothing about these things, but I know that this analogy works, because it’s what we are.  We are lighthouse beacons choosing to stand up and for the lost, broken, weary, confused, etc. every day.  Guiding them to safe shores.

Do not condemn yourself if you are not doing as well as you think you should.  Do not condemn yourself if you aren’t doing as much as Edna Tuppernots.  Don’t even look at Edna.  She’s not you.  Neither is Edgar Hollywompus.  Neither of them are you.  You are you.  You know you and you know that God knows you.  Give me back my yard stick and start using your own.  Be encouraged.  Don’t be afraid to fail, because He will never leave you.  Do you hear me?  He will never leave you.  I feel one more time will drive that home.  HE WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU.  Don’t be so paralyzed with fear at the thought of failing.  Because you know what?  You will fail.  At some things.  But most likely never in the way you think, and it’s not always a bad thing.  You know who fails a lot?  Me.  I fail every day.  I lose my temper.  I look at someone meanly.  I road rage, people.  But you know what?  He still loves me.  He still desires a relationship with me.  I still make Him happy.  And He still speaks to me.  He will NEVER LEAVE YOU. No matter what.  No matter what you do or don’t do.  No matter if your house is clean, your dishes are done, you fight with your spouse, you forgot your kids show and tell, you spanked your child (aka disciplined).  It doesn’t matter – He will NEVER leave you.  One more thing.  Just because you fail and you make mistakes that does NOT make you a failure.

You are not a failure.

He will never leave you.

 Don’t be afraid of the dark; you can always step into the light.

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