Archive for the Writing Prompts Category

I used to think ___ but now i think ___. #OutofSortsBook

Sarah Bessey’s new book, Out of Sorts, released last week. She is doing a synchroblog with a writing prompt about how and why we have evolved in our beliefs over the years. I’m all about a writing prompt, even if it takes 3 days to write. Ha!

LetMeOut-WM

I think so differently about so many things now, I don’t even know where to begin.

I always felt torn between 2 extremes. I either felt so utterly broken that I was beyond hope, or I felt like I had all the answers and was in the fast lane with the saints on the stairway to heaven. I think the self-righteous arrogance was a coping mechanism to deal with the massive inferiority I felt. I would find people whom I was “better than” in order to feel better about myself. Of course that was only when I was sober.

Truly, underneath any bravado I put up, I always felt less than. Not good enough. As I wrote about not too long ago, “If I couldn’t ever measure up to my dad’s standards with my behavior, how could I ever hope to measure up to God’s standard of absolute holy perfection?”

I thought I knew who God was, but I really never saw Him for who He really is.

For many years I did not consistently have someone in my life speaking truth to me about the character and nature of God. That means I definitely did not have someone reminding me of the Good News – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I forgot that I couldn’t earn my way to God.

I had neither a dramatic falling away, nor did I have a dramatic return. I had a gradual descent into a breakdown where something had to give. Things started to change from the time I realized I was having a breakdown.

I changed when I realized I needed help.

It began with a medical doctor appointment where I walked out with an antidepressant and a couple of recommendations/referrals for therapists. Then I not only picked a therapist, but started attending Al-Anon. While I was largely silent in Al-Anon for a while, I sat in that first session with my therapist and verbally vomited on her. I told her things that I had never ever said out loud. To anyone.

I learned first in my therapist’s office to be honest about both my present and my past. To talk about what happened, what was happening, and how I felt. And nothing would ever be the same, especially once one of my close friends told me I needed to quit drinking. And that’s when I had to get really honest.

When you grow up in a fundamentalist culture with an abusive father, you learn things about God that just aren’t true. Sure, I believed Jesus saved me, but I didn’t fully believe I could be and was forgiven. I had to revisit everything I thought I knew about God, and tear down a lot of false teaching of legalism. I had to work through a lot of resentment not just with the religion of my youth, but with God himself.

I used to think that God was just waiting for people to do the wrong thing in order to enact a swift and thorough punishment for the least little infraction. Therefore, I had to be on guard all the time to not mess up, and when I did (because we all do), I lived in bondage to shame and fear. For many years, my only relief came from a bottle.

But having been delivered from the compulsion to self-medicate, I now know that God is kind and loving and merciful. I now know without a doubt that Jesus is enough, and because of Him, I don’t have to try to earn my way into the Father’s good graces. I am fully known and fully loved. The Holy Spirit wasn’t the one filling me with fear and shame. Oh, no. It’s the Holy Spirit that reminds me who I really am – a beloved daughter of the Father.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 (NIV)

What makes a whitewashed tomb? Part 2

I remember the 80s quite well. I was a teenager for most of the 80s and was completely enamored with the 80s culture of music, fashion, and television. There is still a special place in my heart for shoulder pads despite the fact that I have shoulders that do not need any padding. My favorite running shirts are neon yellow which hearken back to the florescent colors of the mid-80s. I don’t miss the big hair, though. That’s just too much work now.

I loved Ronald Reagan. He was entertaining, and he was strong. He had a great sense of humor, but he wasn’t going to back down from the Soviet threat. Being a cold war kid, and a good old southern girl, communism was the ultimate enemy, and the Soviet Union was it’s preeminent face. God Bless the USA was the ultimate patriotic theme song, and I fully believed that we were the favored nation of God (second but equal to Israel) which is why we were the greatest nation on earth.

There is a lot more to my hard-core conservatism, but I will attempt to sum it up since it’s not particularly exciting. I dabbled in politics a bit as a kid in the 80s, escaped from reality during the early 90s & gave birth in the late 90s (and therefore have a lot of blank areas), and became a news and political junkie in the 00s when I started blogging. I went all in with conservative politics in the mid to late 00s, and looking back, I was a self-righteous ass. Something happened to me just before the 2008 presidential election that I can’t explain. I knew Barack Obama was going to win the election. I had no doubt. I realized that I was okay with that, and I still am. I disagree with him politically about nearly everything, and so I didn’t vote for him either time. But I have just never had this feeling of certain doom with him as president.

Something changed in me. I can’t take credit for it because I had no intention of changing. I was on the right side (pun mostly intentional); why would I need to change? Now that I look back on it, I can see that my focus was on the wrong thing. My patriotism defined me to a large extent and was driven by a narrowly focused mindset that understood valued freedom only as a means for my own personal prosperity and comfort. The poor and the homeless needed to stop spending their money on drugs and alcohol and get a job in order to stop leeching off the government thereby wasting my tax money. Women (and girls) just needed to keep their legs closed. Illegal aliens needed to be shipped back to their country of origin, and by God speak English! One nation under God! ‘Murica!

That attitude reduces individual people who are (just as I am) created in the image of God to an abstract group without faces or names broad-brushed with caricatures and absent of feelings, dreams, and purpose. It is an attitude absent of empathy. It is an attitude that does not love people. It is an attitude that thinks God needs us, and not the other way around. It is an attitude that does not believe “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It is an attitude of fear. It is an attitude that demands treasure now because I said the sinner’s prayer and was baptized and “America is a Christian nation.” It’s us versus them, and we are right.

It’s another type of whitewashed tomb. There is little compassion for the poor, and none for the addict. There are no gray areas, and no nuance. Right is right. Liberals are wrong. We are reaping what they sowed. “God hates fags!” Westboro is the visual and vocal extreme, but while many conservative Christians would never picket funerals nor say it out loud, they believe it. They will say “Sodom and Gomorrah” whenever gay marriage is passed or a ban is overturned because they are afraid of the same. But really, if you read the account of Sodom and Gomorrah, it wasn’t homosexuality that was the problem, it was the rape culture.

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. (James 2:8-10 ESV)

Love is action, not a feeling. Real love is messy. It’s so messy because it isn’t self-serving. It isn’t about getting paid back. It sees a need, does it’s best to meet that need, and does not seek out recognition for what it’s done. Whitewashed tombs cannot love because they are just rocks on the outside and dead on the inside. Raising the stars and stripes over it doesn’t bring it to life. Only Jesus can raise the dead and turn a heart of stone to flesh.

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10 ESV)

What makes a whitewashed tomb? Part 1

Matthew 23:27-28 ESV

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

I love exploring cemeteries. If you follow me on Instagram you can see on my profile that I am a member of the Instagram group Graveyard_Dead. I have no qualms about going out into a cemetery and snapping a shot of a headstone, marker, or statue that I think looks cool. It’s an artistic appreciation, but it does not often go beyond the marble.

In the movie Galaxy Quest, the “Captain”, Jason, gets stranded on an alien planet where he ends up fighting a rock monster. Actually, he’s running from it while talking to the crew members on the ship trying to find a way to get out of his dire predicament. Alexander, the serious actor, asks Jason what is the creature’s motivation. Jason replies, “It’s a rock monster! It doesn’t have motivation!”

A Christian who is just a whitewashed tomb has motivation, but it’s the wrong kind. He or she will look good on the outside, and even serve in various ministries, but the ultimate goal is to look the part so as to not have their character questioned or to have others tell them what a good Christian they are. You probably won’t be able to recognize it unless you get close enough to them to get to know them.

For instance, you might have someone who has seen a need in the community and started a ministry to meet that need. From the outside everything about it looks good and you even help with it. But then you walk up on a conversation by one of that ministry’s leaders. The conversation does not stop but continues in a diatribe about how that ministry was not mentioned during announcements along with attribution of malicious intent rather than giving the benefit of the doubt that it was not intentional. Before long the leader surprises the entire congregation with a diatribe of his own during what was supposed to be a children’s sermon. While both ministries are good ministries and the leaders appeared to be committed to serving, the self-aggrandizing showed their hearts to be more committed to their own recognition and honor from other people than to humbly serve.

In another case, you have a deacon. He’s very intelligent, and an excellent handyman. He’s a good teacher. He takes care of several widows in the community in addition to his sisters. He has a beautiful wife who is also a gifted teacher. They are active in the local church and even in the association. But at home, he is domineering and abusive. He rules his household through fear and shame. Grace is absent. No one really knows because there are no physical marks – only deep emotional wounds. He has become convinced he is always right. Eventually he crosses the line and cannot justify and rationalize his actions to others which now extend beyond his family. But he can’t see his part. Even as he sits in prison, he is a victim and not the perpetrator.

Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Take out the sex, sorcery, and drunkenness, and you will see many of the other traits in a whitewashed tomb. They don’t drink, do drugs, smoke, have sex outside of marriage, or cuss. At least you’ll never see it. But they will point out any little infraction they find in you. They lack compassion, grace, and humility. Just like the Pharisees.

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

It’s all about your motivation. Either you are working for the sake of performance to show that you are worthy of man’s praise (or seeking personal comfort), or you are working according to the fruit the Holy Spirit is producing in you. Our motives probably aren’t ever completely pure, but if we can keep our mouths in check and don’t sound a trumpet every time we do a good deed, we are most likely using our love for Jesus and compassion for other people as our primary motivation.

Matthew 6:19-21 ESV

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

“Do you wanna date my avatar…”

Which quality best describes your life–exciting, organised, dull–and why?

How about none of the above? Well, ok maybe just not organized, and somewhere in between exciting and dull. There is no such thing as a dull life with kids, but the excitement is limited to little bursts of drama. Same with having 6 dogs and 3 cats. And 3 vehicles. And one of the church vans (the old one). And a money pit house. And pre-menopause.

Just because…

Anger is one letter away from danger

When you are angry, how do you look?

I look angry. LOL Depending on just how angry I am, I might be crying too, which makes me angrier, which becomes a vicious circle. Really, it’s not so much how I look as how I act. I make snide remarks, or just downright mean statements. I’ll make myself sick dwelling on whatever or whoever is the target of my anger before I finally give up and let it go.

Don’t make me angry. Not even I like me when I’m angry…

“If I could turn back time…”

Y’all are welcome for that. :rofl2:

I wish I had a million… Then I would…

I guess the ellipses mean I have to fill in the blanks? Hmm, a million of what? The only thing I can think of that I would like to have a million of is dollars (or the equivalent). Then I would pay off all my debt, fix this money pit of a house up, and quit my job to work closer to home, which would mean lower pay which I could do if the house and credit cards were paid off and the house was fixed up.

Or maybe I would quit completely and let the hubby go to work so I could be a stay-at-home mom. *sigh*

I don’t like this question either.

“You say it’s your birthday…”

How do you feel when it’s your birthday? Why?

I feel a day older. HAHAHA Seriously, though, I really don’t give a lot of thought to the actual day anymore. It really is just another day. I guess that is a sign of my age, since I haven’t really looked forward to a birthday since my 21st.

Yet not I

What do you like most about yourself?

I don’t even know how to begin to answer this one. The dislike question was much easier. LOL

Well, here goes. The things I like about myself, I cannot take any credit for because all of my “good” qualities are the fruit of the grace of God. I guess what I like most about myself now is that I am being given the courage I need to get out of my comfort zone(s) without “liquid courage.” It’s one thing to get all liquored up and post videos of myself playing along with Fleetwood Mac, but it took strength from through prayer to get up in front of the church and sing & play all by myself.

See, when I was in high school, I quit the youth choir before Bro Tommy got a chance to attempt to make me to a solo…because that was just not going to happen. No way was I going to sing all by myself in front of people. Yes, this kind of cowardice from the girl who wanted to be a rock star when she grew up. :giggle:

So, yeah. What I like most about myself is the change that is taking place in my life. I don’t know what is in store for me, and I doubt that it has anything to do with music, but it is ok if it does or if it doesn’t.

Galatians 2:20 (New American Standard Bible)

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Can I skip today’s question?

Because it is lame.

What do you think of 3D movies?

I think for the most part they suck. The glasses make my eyes feel like they are crossing and I can still see the red and green, and saw more realistic 3D from holograms at Silver Dollar City when I was 8.

:playfultongue:

“I’ll fly away, oh glory”

What would happen if you could fly whenever you wanted? When would you use this ability?

Oh, I like this question much better. But I will put a parameter on it. I will make this flying ability to be like that of Superman. I have dreamed of having this ability, and even hallucinated it once in the dentist’s office, unless I really did have an out-of-body experience. I lean more towards the hallucination though based upon a previous Darth Vader incident with same dentist. (This would be why I liked “laughing gas” so much.)

So here is what would happen. The DragonLady would no longer have an hour-long one-way commute to and from work. Oh, yeah, I would travel as the crow flies…literally…above and away from the traffic. There would also be no more driving to my mom’s house. I would just fly right over the rivers and woods, and Tennessee. Granted, this would really entail the rest of the family also being able to fly.

Bottom line, significantly less driving for me.