I have a confession to make . . .

 . . . I didn’t watch the Olympics.

Olympic Games 2016

Olympic Games 2016 — See what I mean!

At all.

Oh, well, one night while we enjoyed fajitas at the local restaurant, their T.V. was on and we saw a couple of guys dive.
They were good.

But . . .

. . . I felt my blood pressure rising and just decided to be cool. Why spoil a wonderfully fresh meal with nearly naked guys getting wet for fun and/or profit,
albeit very skillfully?

They say everybody who was anybody was watching. I don’t know.

WordPress says those who were not watching are rare.

I am one of the rare ones.

I was busy.

I was enjoying really good food with a really handsome guy.

Other times, I was mowing, blogging, counseling, bathing, cleaning house, sleeping, washing clothes, baking, wrapping gifts,  ironing, helping my grown son move.

Out.

I already have a life.

I already have something to do.

I also did not blog about the Olympics.

Really, some kids competed and somebody won?

Good.

Rumors that it was rigged?

Nothing new.

AS IN: THIS IS NOT NEWS.

Happens all the time.

When they killed a bunch in Germany during the Olympics, that was news.

I really never wanted to watch much, after that.

Rare.

To care.

To dare.

To admit I wasn’t there.

I don’t do football, either.

Nor baseball, unless my grandson asks.

The only sport that really interests me, anymore, is volleyball.

If I get to play.

Your serve.

___________

photo credit: hops_76

Sunday Scriptures – Self Portrait

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:11-12

The Gift of the Blue Mail Box

We have not dwelt in this “neck of the woods” very long. However, when we first arrived, we learned of The Blue Mail Box.

decorated with love

Decorated with Love

The Blue Mail Box is an actual place, marked on some maps. People in many surrounding towns could drive you straight to it because they know exactly what you mean when you say, “The Blue Mail Box,” and they know exactly where it is.

Yes, The Blue Mail Box is an actual place you can drive to, but it is also a place in history, a place in the hearts of many local people. You see, it stands for so much more than mail, although it does include mail. It stands for trust, cooperation, and grit. It stands for love-thy-neighbor. It stands for “. . . the howdy and the handshake, the laughter and the tears, the dream that’s been . . . ”

Yes. The Blue Mail Box is a has-been. It still exists, but the lovely things it represents exist only in history, only in hearts, only in memories.

I am sure the first time The Blue Mail Box was vandalized, it brought shock or pain to its extended family of devotees.

Now days, it enjoys protection–it’s been vandalized that much–as a memento of an innocent age we wish we could resume.

But no mail.

Who would try, these days, what was common occurrence back then?

Who would allow all the mail from one community to be deposited in one box with no lock, to be sorted through by anyone who lived there? Who would trust a neighbor to bring him his mail, since he was going that way, anyway? Who would kindly take old Widow Smith her mail, then open and read it for her?

No one in his right mind, that’s who. Not now days. But The Blue Mail Box was all that and more, once upon a time. Friends who chanced to meet at The Blue Mail Box would linger and visit. Surely a few surreptitious meetings between lovers occurred there, too, under the guise of “collecting Mama’s mail”? Probably notes, without postage, sometimes waited inside The Blue Mail Box, for folks who did not have phones to communicate with their neighbors.

But those days are over.

Half of it is illegal, these days, anyway.

Now days, when someone hears of The Blue Mail Box for the first time, they greet it with laughter, as I did. But as we grow to know these people, we realize the love that stood behind all that trust with each other’s mail. Elderly ladies smile as they tell of hi-jinks from school days. They boast of good preachers from back then.  They dream, starry-eyed, of past Christmas plays, spelling bees, weddings . . .

The Blue Mail Box is the stuff of real life, and we all should have something similar stuffed somewhere in the backs of our memories, for it once was the American way.

But we have allowed “them” to steal it from us and it is gone, isn’t it.

Except for the box.

We’ve thrown aside the gift and we’re playing with the box . . .

Weekly Photo Challenge: Celebration

We recently went to the Garvin Gardens light display in Hot Springs, AR. It was beautiful, but outside of a brief nod to the Santa stuff, it was mostly not even about Christmas, let alone about the Nativity.

Shown here is a water feature that includes a tree transformed by night in to a blue “willow” with only light strings. Beautiful, but no cigar.

There also was a pagoda that was terribly fun to stand inside and gaze upward. It looked like being inside an explosion, I suppose, but what actual significance did it have?

Lastly, I captured a peacock made of lights. A peacock.

Oh well.

We celebrate what we do not know, I suppose.

light explosion

Light Explosion

light peacock

Light Peacock

Denial, Excuses, and Folly, Oh No!

Rembrandt – “The Return of the Prodigal SonThere sure are a lot of wrong theories and sayings about forgiveness out there, these days! Most people have heard them all, too many times.

Still, although logic tells us something is wrong, we strain to forgive according to all the wrong theories we’ve heard.

We cannot figure it out.

Nothing seems to happen.

Several of our victimizers do not stay forgiven very long at all.

What!

To get a grasp on exactly what we are supposed to do, let’s first eliminate all wrong thinking upon which some people may be trying to convince us to act. For instance, forgiveness is not:

Denial

Forgiveness is NOT saying, “Oh, it’s okay.” When someone has done hurtful wrong against you, IT IS NOT OKAY!

It should make us feel all rotten inside to say it is.

Why? Because spreading wrongful hurt is not okay; it is sin. Sin is not okay with God; how could it be okay with us?

Saying it is okay, is denial. It’s just plain ol’ living a lie.

Only say, “It’s okay,” when it was not sin, was not intended as sin, and was not received as sin.

Only say, “It’s okay,” if you truly would be okay with it happening again.

Excuses

Forgiveness is NOT forgetting. How can anyone forget something on purpose!

We have miraculous brains that function largely by memory. We do not have back-space keys for our brains.

God can decide to forget something, if He wants, or He can cause us to forget something, but we do not have that kind of power.

Thinking we must forget, in order to prove we have forgiven, sets us up for making excuses. We say, “I’ll never be able to forgive that, because I just can’t forget what he did.” Or we think we have not forgiven because memories keep resurfacing.

We haven’t forgiven, obviously, because we still remember it?
So it must be hopeless to try?

What a wide-open door for excuses!

Folly

Forgiveness is NOT trusting. It is neither safe nor wise to trust someone who has proven himself to be untrustworthy.

To send a youngster back to a bullying classroom or molesting teacher, to lend more money to someone who has not repaid, to tell a secret to a gossip, is just plain folly.

Yes, we must forgive those who sin against us, but we do NOT have to trust them again, in order to prove we have done so.

We certainly do not have to feel guilty for helping put such a one in jail, if his sin was illegal.

Besides that, trust, by its very nature, must be earned, cannot be demanded.

So What IS Forgiveness?!

If we look up the word, “forgive,” we can find the original meanings of its ancient parts: to give far away, to “far-give”.

Think: Where would you put all that pain, if you could download it somewhere else? How far away would be far enough? Would sending it into another existence be far enough? It would do fine, for me.

The farthest possible distance from me, from this existence is:

In God’s hands. When He takes it, it’s gone.

Giving it to Him can feel like work, but it is forgiveness. And is far less work than dealing with your current agony. I know.

  1. Forgiveness is SAYING, “I forgive it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
    (Yes, it is like writing a check on His checkbook to pay a debt, which we cannot actually do unless we are actually His.)
    It is a transaction, like writing off a bad debt. Our feelings may be screaming, but it is not about feelings; it is about getting past this great wrong and moving on with this life. It’s about positioning ourselves for the next life beyond.
  2. Forgiveness is REFUSING to remember the sin against the sinner.
    Yes, it was a bad debt; no, we will not continue mentally sending bills to “debtor’s prison”. That part is over.
  3. Forgiveness is MINISTERING to the sinner.
    Maybe the only safe or possible thing we can do is pray for him, but because we, ourselves, have been forgiven by so marvelous a God, we are free and power-filled  to do so.
    Seeing this is a mark of true forgiveness.

Now we have dealt with the why’s of suffering and forgiveness, and we have defined terms. Come on by tomorrow and get the HOW-TO and some FAQ’s.

________________

Image via Wikipedia

Denial, Excuses, and Folly, OH MY!

English: Cross in the village of Úsilné, České...
English: Cross in the village of Úsilné, České Budějovice District, Czech Republic with the writing ‘Blessed be the Lord Jesus Christ’. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There sure are a lot of wrong theories and sayings about forgiveness out there, these days! Most people have heard them all, too many times. And although logic tells us something is wrong, we strain to forgive according to all we’ve heard, and cannot figure it out. Nothing seems to happen and several of our victimizers do not stay forgiven very long at all.

What!

To get a grasp on exactly what we are supposed to do, let’s first eliminate all wrong thinking upon which some people may be trying to convince us to act. For instance:

Denial

Forgiveness is NOT saying, “Oh, it’s okay.” When someone has done hurtful wrong against you, IT IS NOT OKAY! It should make us feel all rotten inside to say it is. Why? Because spreading wrongful hurt is not okay; it is sin. Sin is not okay with God; how could it be okay with us? Saying it is, is denial. It’s just plain ol’ living a lie.

Only say, “It’s okay,” when it was not sin, was not intended as sin, and was not received as sin. Only say, “It’s okay,” if you would be okay with it happening again.

Excuses

Forgiveness is NOT forgetting. How can anyone forget something on purpose! We have miraculous brains that function largely by memory. We do not have back-space keys for our brains. God can decide to forget something, if He wants, or cause us to forget something, but we do not have that kind of power.

Thinking we must forget, in order to prove we have forgiven, sets us up for making excuses. We say, “I’ll never be able to forgive that, because I could never forget such-and-such.” Or we think we have not forgiven because memories keep resurfacing, so it must be hopeless to try. What a wide-open door for excuses!

Folly

It is neither safe nor wise to trust someone who has proven himself to be untrustworthy.  To send a youngster back to a bullying classroom or molesting teacher, to lend more money to someone who has not repaid, to tell a secret to a gossip, is just plain folly.

We must forgive those who sin against us, but we do NOT have to trust them again, in order to prove we have done so. We certainly do not have to feel guilty for helping put such a one in jail, if his sin was illegal.

Besides, trust, by its nature, must be earned, cannot be demanded.

So What IS Forgiveness?!

If we look up the word, “forgive,” we can find the original meanings of its ancient parts: to give far away.

Think: Where would you put all that pain, if you could download it? How far away would be far enough? The farthest possible distance from this existence is: in God’s hands. When He takes it, it’s gone.

Giving it to Him can feel like work, but it is forgiveness and is far less work than dealing with the current agony.

  1. Forgiveness is SAYING, “I forgive you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
    (Yes, it is like writing a check on His checkbook to pay a debt, which we cannot actually do unless we are His.)
    It is a transaction, like writing off a bad debt. Our feelings may be screaming, but it is not about feelings; it is about getting past this great wrong and moving on with this life. It’s about positioning ourselves for the next life beyond.
  2. Forgiveness is REFUSING to remember the sin against the sinner.
    Yes, it was a bad debt; no, we will NOT mentally send bills to “debtor’s prison”. That part is over.
  3. Forgiveness is MINISTERING to the sinner.
    Maybe the only safe or possible thing we can do is pray for him, but because we, ourselves, have been forgiven by so marvelous a God, we are freed and filled with power to do so.
    Seeing this is a mark of true forgiveness.

Now we have dealt with the why’s of suffering and forgiveness, and we have defined terms. Come on by tomorrow and get the HOW-TO and some FAQ’s.

See ya’.

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An Anatomy of Pain – What in the World IS Forgiveness??

More than saying sorryWhat Is Forgiveness? – The Word often depicts forgiveness as one of the most important teachings. But WHAT is it? Well, let’s start with what it is not.

Forgiveness is NOT:

  • Saying, “Oh, it’s okay.” You can only say this if no one did you wrong, if you wouldn’t mind if they did it again. It is not okay with God for someone to do wrong. Don’t say it’s okay. That is not the truth. It is denial.
  • Forgetting. You will remember, even after you forgive. We have brains that make decisions based on remembering. Our memories help us be safe. We do not have delete buttons. You are not God; don’t think you have to forget. That opens the door for excuses.
  • Trusting. You do not have to trust an untrustworthy person, to prove you have forgiven him. The Bible often warns against trusting the untrustworthy. We must earn trust; no one can demand it. That is foolishness.

Now. Forgiveness IS:

  • Saying, “I forgive you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Your feelings may be screaming and you may have to pray hard to say these words and to make them true. It’s okay. That is what the throne of grace is for—to get grace to help us in time of need.
  • Refusing to remember the sin against the sinner. It is a contract. Yes, something bad happened, but it is forgiven. The debt is paid. If you wrote off a bad debt as a wedding gift to a young debtor, would you then hope for payment or send a bill? No. It is forgiven.
    Actually, it is a lot like giving it to God. The word “forgive” means to give far. How far is far enough? The hands of God—leave it in His hands. That will do quite nicely.
  • Praying for the one who has hurt you. This is not optional. We are to love our enemies and do good to those who misuse us. It’s okay to do good from a distance, though. A card or phone call may be all you can manage. A secret pen pal note distances you even more, especially if you disguise your writing and mail from another town. Think hard—you can figure a safe way to bless the dangerous ones in your life.

We have to do this, Sisters. We must forgive, or we’re not forgiven, and who doesn’t need forgiving? We have to do this for our children’s sakes, too. When they see our ways with our enemies, when they see how we respond to our hurts, they will believe us more, about God.

And when God steps in and plants the forgiveness in your heart without any help from you, you’ll believe Him more, too.

More tomorrow.