Author Archive: Shelia Jones

Granpap Fix It

IMG_2981

Are you smarter than a two-year-old?  I’m not.

Once again Eli performed at a higher level of faith than I’ve been able to exhibit in all my 56 years.  Here’s how it happened.

Friday was date night for the kids and grandbaby fun time for me.  Eli and I did some shopping where of course he selected a new truck for his special treat.  I was unloading groceries and he was crawling around my feet imagining a super productive construction site with his dump truck and new cement truck.  I must add its cool swiveling bucket on the back insured it as the favorite of the day.

He crossed his trucks between the kitchen tile and family room hardwood only to bump the floor strip; it moved.  Oh, how exciting to a little boy who promptly lifted it from its supposedly glued position.  I noticed and asked him not to play with it.  He let it snap into place and continued on.

A few minutes later I was washing fruit and I heard, “Granpap fix it.”  My ears perked up because I know something broke.  I feared it was his new truck with the swiveling bucket.

He walked up to me with his fearless face and said, “Granpap fix it.”

IMG_3125In his hand was one half of a splintered wood strip.  “Eli, what did you do?”

His reply, “Granpap fix it.”

That’s it.  That’s the lesson that overwhelmed me.  That’s why I need to learn from a two-year-old.  Only a child has that kind of faith.

If you don’t see it yet, let me share what I would’ve done.  I often times follow my ancestor Eve.  I’m told not to touch it.  I touch it and I break it.

I’m terrified that I will be scolded and disciplined therefore I start coming up with excuses on why I touched the forbidden thing.  I actually blame the thing.  “It should’ve been glued better.  I was only trying to fix it.”

Then I try to fix it myself which because I’m worthless with tools becomes a bigger disaster.  So I hide.  I put the splintered strip of wood back in place as best I can and I hide on the sofa in a fake sleep.

When Granpap comes home and forces me to wake, I recite my explanation and he doesn’t buy a word of it.  So guilt and shame come in and I cry apologizes for being such a waste of a person.  “I break everything.  I always make it worse.  I don’t deserve to live in the same house as you.  I’ll pay for the supplies if you will fix it.”

Then I use every tool in my womanly arsenal to try to appease his perceived anger and make him happy so maybe he will like me again.

All my efforts are wasted.  I’ll daily remind myself of my stupidity every time I step across that threshold.  Guilt will consume my joy.

Oh little Eli, thank you for constantly displaying a childlike faith.

“Granpap fix it.”

Yes, Eli.  Granpap did fix it.  He didn’t scold you.  He loved you before you did it.  He loved you while you did it.  He loved you after you did it.  His love never changes.

IMG_3129I watched as you sat next to him and enjoyed his presence all the time he fixed it.  It never occurred to you to hide from him.  Oh, if only Adam and Eve would’ve had your faith.

“Granpap fix it.”

I hope I remember this the next time I blow it.  The next time I sin.  All He wants me to do is run to him with a fearless face and put my sin before Him and say, “Abba Daddy, fix it.”

“Abba Daddy, fix it.”

He will.  He’s the only one who can.  All the time He’s repairing the damage, He’s reminding me of His love.  I can sit next to Him and watch how He restores the broken to a perfection I could never have imagined.

And now every time I walk that threshold, I’m reminded of His love for me, His beloved child.

“Abba Daddy fixed me.”

And if that weren’t enough, there’s always a special treat for faith, Granpap gave Eli a new kite, and they played together all evening.

I hope to never hide from another special treat.  How about you?  Learn something from a two-year-old?

Advertisements

Update to Pride and Insecurity Go Together

A fellow blogger inquired about this post.  I’m so sorry I failed to update. Truth is, I’m working on other projects and blogging is at the bottom of my To-Do list.  But I was so blessed to know someone read and wanted to know how I’m doing.  Thanks!

Here is the original and below is what I can report…

imagesI seek prestige.

Before you congratulate me or question why, let me add, “That’s my besetting sin.”

Yeah, I thought you’d hold off on the congrats but I do hope you are forming some questions.

James MacDonald defines prestige as a subcategory under pride.  The following quote is taken from page 81 of Downpour.

Prestige.  “More ‘atta-boys’ for me, please.”  “Tell me again how much you appreciate me and what I’ve done for you.”  “I want prizes and bonuses and thank-you notes and public acknowledgments.”  Prestige is a consuming need for recognition.  It’s the feeling that others are always watching and the insatiable thirst for others to pat you on the back.  It’s the insistence that nothing you do be overlooked or unrewarded by those in a position to do so.  It’s dropping names of prestigious associations; it’s letting others know of your accomplishments; it’s the constant concern that everyone know who you are. 

 

The saddest part of my sin is that its root comes from an incredibly addictive insecurity problem.  I’m often this little four-year-old girl begging for her father’s affirmations that never came.  I want people to tell me I did a good job.  I want people to think I’m special.  I need to know someone knows I’m here and I did something good.

How horrible that insecurity and pride are such close sin cousins.

If you can relate, you’ll want to read on.  God’s grace covers this sin.  His grace offers power to overcome it.  God’s grace heals and matures the broken little girl’s spirit.  I’ve spent years fighting those inner thoughts and trying to control my tongue.  I’ve had moments of victory.  I remember more agonies of defeat.

Today, God spoke a prayer into my heart.  I know that if He spoke it, then this alone will be my weapon and salvation.  Here’s the plan:

Stop each thought instantly with this prayer, “Father, glorify your name through others, not me.”  The others being anyone in my presence when I’m seeking prestige.  I’m excited.  Actually, I can’t wait for the test run.  Just think I’ll get to see God glorify another in my presence just because I asked in obedience to His plan.  Wow!

It reminds me of the time in 1996 when the Spirit taught me how to overcome jealousy.  I was to pray the words of John the Baptist in John 3:30, “He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less.”  My translation became,  “Here is what I want you to do for me BUT do it for others first.”  The others were always the people that stirred my jealous heart.  My journal records some ‘awe’ moments throughout the years.

Now, here I go again.  When I’m tempted to name-drop, list my accomplishments, or draw attention to myself, I have the power of His spoken Word to lead me to victory.

I’ll try to remember to post a praise or two in coming weeks.

What I’ve learned…

All believers can overcome jealousy, insecurity, and pride using my new  favorite words in the arsenal of God’s kingdom: Believe and Yield. First believe in the accomplished work of the Gospel. The complete Gospel says: Jesus walked a sinless life to show us that “yes it can be done.” Jesus’s death on the cross absorbed ALL the wrath for our sins. His burial and resurrection give us victory over death and assures a new life in Him. He now sits on the Throne interceding for us and assuring our victory.

That is amazing but there’s more…He gave us His righteousness, therefore we are no longer guilty of sin but we actually hold the identity of Christ. He poured out His Spirit to fill us with all the power, strength, love, grace, mercy, compassion, and whatever is needed to live the victorious life until we are forever united in Glory. Now that’s the Gospel. If we believe only the parts that say our sins are forgiven and He’s coming back for us THEN we are not believing the parts that we need to live each day. He insures our sanctification. We must believe He saves us from the penalty of sin but we must also believe He gives us victory over sin each and every day.

In the blog, I used the term: besetting sin. But once I began to live out what I wrote and believe the complete gospel, I began to see I should never ever have a besetting sin. In God’s opinion, the only one that matters, I don’t!!! I only have Jesus’ record and it is perfect as He is perfect. So once I begin to believe this truth then jealousy, pride, and insecurities die as I yield to the God that lives in me.

Oh how good He is. Oh how He loves me and you.

Now how is that lived out practically,  Get up each day and declare with all the faith of a mustard seed, “God loves me as He loves His Son.  Jesus paid it all.  It’s done.  He lives in me to complete His Kingdom work.  He receives all the glory when I yield to Him.  So therefore, may the God-in-me love others, may the God-in-me serve, may the God-in-me move mountains.  I believe your promises.  I put my faith in your Gospel.  I yield to Your presence.  Your will be done this day. Amen”

Cheers for Coach

40

The average American views about 8,000 advertisements per day.  That’s an extreme amount of stimulation saying that you need more than you are and more than you have.

The most repeated message heard from birth to the grave is designed to convince you that will never have friends, be sexy, or find success without purchasing something.  This consumerism is breeding new forms of depression affecting the young and the old alike.

My pastor is training his children to fight the onslaught.  After each commercial they say in unison, “Who are you kidding?”  That’s one method.

I chose to mute commercials when my kids were living at home.  It just became a habit and we never noticed until one day a friend said, “You guys watch a lot of muted TV.”  Yes, the TV was on mute more than sound because commercials rule the airways.

Now, I simply don’t watch network TV.  After living without a TV for eight years, I found I can’t stomach the commercials.  So we only watch movies or reruns on Netflix.

You see, I need the discipline.  I didn’t watch much TV as a child but my father believed his duty was to highlight my every flaw.  It’s taken a lifetime to realize they weren’t real flaws after all.

43I assume that’s why I cried the other night watching a rerun from season one of Cheers.  Coach’s daughter introduces everyone to her fiancé.  Roy is the ultimate jerk so Sam convinces Coach to tell Lisa the truth.

A few minutes later in Sam’s office, Lisa agrees with her dad, “Look Daddy, I’m not dumb. I know Roy’s abrasive. I know he’s insensitive. And I know he’s probably only marrying me so he can get the Pennsylvania territory.”

Her bewildered father can only ask, “Why would you want to marry a man like this?”  He is further confused when she says that Roy’s the only man who has proposed and she’s afraid he will be the last.  This daddy just can’t understand because he knows his daughter.  “But you’re so beautiful.”

Here’s where the tears start to roll off my face.

44Lisa responds, “Beautiful?  Daddy, you’ve been saying I’m beautiful ever since I was a very little girl.  But look at me! Not as my father, but like you’re looking at me for the first time.  But please, try to see me as I really am.”

Coach moves closer and stares intently. “Oh, my God.  I didn’t realize how much you look like your mother.”

“I know.  I look exactly like her.  And Mom was not….” Lisa struggles to say the words and my heart is pounding.  Coach waits anxiously, then Lisa smiles, “comfortable about her beauty.”

I choked.  I can’t imagine being comfortable about me.  What is it to be content?  But read on, there’s more.

42Coach says, “But that‘s what made her more beautiful.  Your mother grew more beautiful every day of her life.”

“She was really beautiful?”  Lisa’s still not convinced.
“Yes and so are you.  You’re the most beautiful kid in the whole world.”

Now, right there are the words every child needs to hear from their parents and in their home.  With those words a kid can face the world and all its painful lies. A more confident Lisa ended the engagement and went for ice cream with her daddy.  No matter the age, she needs constant reassurance of her worth.  Her daddy’s job is never finished.

I can do my part to avoid the lies but I still need to hear the truth on a daily basis.  There’s a truth in God’s Word that propels me forward.  This story tells it best.

An artist was asked how he sculpts an eagle from a slab of stone.  While the hammer and chisel delicately works, he replies, “When I look at this marble I see only eagle.  I simply chip away at everything that is not eagle.” 

 

I need to remember, when God the Father looks at his children (that’s me) He sees only His beloved Jesus.

“Thanks Daddy!”

He Loves to Bless

happy-thanksgiving-snoopy1

My theme verse for 2013 was Acts 1:5  Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

I’ve endured a difficult spiritual year.  When I received the word WAIT, I shuddered, knowing it would be a long journey. I’m an achiever.  Passivity is not in my vocabulary. But those two arguments held no resistance to the Spirit’s goal.  He is persistent.

As I look back over this year, I marvel at what I’ve learned.  I’m so full of new truths I’m about to burst at the seams wanting to teach somebody, anybody.  Sadly, I wait some more.  He’s not finished yet.

But in order to offer my thanksgivings during this season, I will share a bit of this journey.  I’ve studied, with my dearest friends, this promised gift spoken by Jesus to His disciples.  John Piper describes it as an “extraordinary anointing for ministry.”  No doubt, Pentecost brought such an anointing upon the apostles while at the same time bringing salvation upon 3,000 who were instantly filled with the Spirit.

But I wanted to know how that extraordinary anointing manifests itself in a believer’s heart.  This quote nailed it for me.  “The Spirit fills me with His own vision of God and His own passion for God and His own prophetic words of praise.”  John Piper

Let me put it in my own words.  If I’m living in this extraordinary anointing, operating in the unlimited fullness of His power, then the God in me will reveal the majesty, power, and plan of God the Father to me; the God in me will love God the Father with unhindered intimacy and passion; and the God in me will never cease to worship God the Father.  Now that’s the fullness power of Christ in me the hope of glory.  Colossians 1:27.

thanksBut how do I know He lives in me and I in Him?  The Bible tells me so.

One of the books we studied was They Found the Secret.  It’s a collection of powerful testimonies of twenty believers who simply believed.  I summarize one illustration like this,  “Some say we are a pencil in the hand of God.  But a pencil can be dropped or lost, I cannot.  No, I am more like a finger of God.  Jesus prayed that we might be one and He always gets a Yes! answer to His prayers.”

So to solidify this truth and as a constant reminder of our Oneness, I painted one fingernail red.  Every day I can say, “By the grace of God and the blood of Jesus and the fullness of His Spirit, He lives in me to do His will. So be it!”

The following words relate my year, my life.  Blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Every

Every time I quieted my heart,

Every time I heard and obeyed a truth.

Every time I worshipped in awe,

Every time I spoke the Gospel.

Every time I read His Word,

Every time I prayed.

Every time I gave a tithe,

Every time I sacrificed a treasure.

Every time I cried in joy,

Every time I loved another.

Every time I repented of sin,

Every time I conquered a stronghold.

Every time I admired creation,

Every time I sang His praises.

Every time I taught a truth,

Every time I wrote of Jesus.

Every time I trusted through a trial,

Every time I wept in sorrow.

Every time I cuddled a baby,

Every time I spoke a blessing.

Every time I fasted in power,

Every time I rebuked the devil.

Every time I stood in faith,

Every time I crawled from a pit.

Every time I felt loved,

Every time I knew security.

Every time I forgave,thnak3

Every time I trusted His forgiveness.

It was never, ever me.  It was always

Every time He…

Cars

2

My grandson Eli loves anything with wheels.  His momma takes him to Target so he can visit with the toys.  He walks the aisles, touching and narrating.  He gives Spiderman a hug.  He growls like the Hulk.  He operates every function of the robots.  But his eyes dance when he sees a truck or car.

He’ll push that boxed treasure up-and-down the aisle making the appropriate sound effects.  Then there’s the labeling of each part to confirm that it is indeed a truck.  Wheels.  Lights.  Driving. (That’s the steering wheel.)  Hat.  (You guessed it, that’s the visor over the windshield.)

Eli’s favorite is the garbage truck and following in close second is the fire truck.  At one time his favorite cartoon was Chuck, the adventures of young trucks and cars.  Cat in the Hat, George, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and Super Why? have all gone the way of Chuck into his category of bor-ing.

3He discovered the awe of the full-length cartoon, Cars.  Disney’s masterful marketing invaded our home.  Replicas of Lightning McQueen, Sally, Red, Mack, and of course Mater are now his most cherished possessions.

I’m the proud Gramma that brags about how he identifies all the alphabet letters and numbers, knows the names and text of his favorite books, and can phonetically sound out many letters.  I marvel at how he reenacts Cars’ scenes with perfect dialogue and acting flair.    He’s only two.

Needless to say, I too have the script memorized.  Larry “Git-R-Done!” the Cable Guy delivers as Mater, “I’m happier than a tornado in a trailer park.”   Eli doesn’t get all the jokes but I laugh.  His eyes glaze over during the romantic parts.  Again the genius of Disney, knowing moms and grammas have to watch, they make a cartoon about cars into a chick flick plus high-speed racing and crashes for the dads.

I wonder if blue Porsches’ sales increased as women hoped if they could drive in slow motion through the waterfall’s mist and seductively bat their eyes then a hunk in a Corvette would give up his dreams to stay with her.  I also wonder how many dads started betting on NASCAR.

4There’s even something for grandparents. Sally narrates the scene that takes us to the ‘good-o-days’ when the cars crossed the country in a whole different way.  “The road didn’t cut through the land like that interstate.  It moved with the land, it rose, it fell, it curved.  Cars didn’t drive on it to make great time.  They drove on it to have a great time.”

Then scenes of Radiator Springs in its heyday play while James Taylor sings, Our Town.  Everyone yields.  Everyone’s happy.  No one speeds by.  They had it good and enjoyed it while it lasted.  I’m a sucker for the feel good song.  I’ve heard my grandparents talk about how great life used to be.  The world’s best backwards driver, tow truck Mater says it best, “Ain’t no need to watch where I’m goin’, just need to know where I’ve been.”

Maybe Disney provides a viable message for kids, “Slow down, enjoy childhood.”  I’m certainly saying that to Eli.  If I could make the sun stand still, it would be when Eli’s dancing his gig with uninhibited giggles, then cheers for himself, and proclaims, “I funny.”

Now, that’s the good-o-days.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

2

I don’t stand in the checkout line and say, “I can count money because my third grade teacher Mrs. Bell taught me to do it this way.”

My brain stores millions of skills in neural pathways then reproduces those skills as naturally as breathing.  Each function happens without giving credit to my parents, dozens of teachers, and hundreds of books. Good thing it’s subconscious because I’d fail miserably if I had to acknowledge each source.  Only my life changing moments are remembered in vivid detail.

I have one memory of one fact learned in high school.  I was sitting in the second floor classroom of the back wing at Collins High.  My desk was to the right of the teacher, the side with the windows. I sat on the front row of three semicircles, third seat from the end.  On this day, my teacher sat behind his desk in the middle of the room in front of an unused blackboard.  A single textbook, Intro to Psychology, rested unopened on the desk.

I don’t remember Mr. Morris ever giving a test.  He assigned reading and then he chatted about whatever popped into his head.  Everyone loved him.

3On this day, the little bald man with missing teeth said,

“Women can make men do anything they want!”

In that hour, he gave the girls the tools to make life fun.  He warned the boys that they didn’t stand a chance.  I left class motivated to put the lesson to daily practice.

There’s a scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where Maria taught her daughter Toula the same truth.  Frustrated Toula cried, “Ma, Dad is so stubborn.  What he says goes.  ‘Ah, the man is the head of the house!’”

The wise mother responded, “Let me tell you something, Toula.  The man is the head, but the woman is the neck.  And she can turn the head any way she wants.”

Then the movie went on to teach a wise method to use this power.  Maria instructed, “We must let Kosta think this was his idea.”

4The scene that follows was brilliant.  In a few short lines, Kosta exclaimed his brilliant plan, in the exact words Maria had guided him to discover.  The bewildered Toula stared at the satisfied Maria while Kosta patted himself on the back for such genius.  Everyone was happy.  No one got hurt in the process only because this was a scripted movie.  Life is not so easy.

Since the Garden of Eden this truth is undeniable.  I offer two reasons.  One, men are visually stimulated.  Adam looked at his deliciously naked Eve with the juices of that forbidden fruit still on her lips and he chose to rebel with her.  For this reason, the porn industry is a growing multi-billion dollar evil in our society.

But there’s another reason, we are by nature a stiff-necked people and will always rebel against a law from outside us.  We don’t like being told what to do.  Yet, like Maria proved, we joyfully embrace the same law springing up from within us.

Here’s how it works, take a stiff-necked woman who is selfishly wanting to rule over the man to get something to satisfy her lust and then have that same motivation controlling an equally selfish man who doesn’t want to be dominated and only wants to satisfy his lust of her body and well, you soon have domestic violence and divorce.  Everyone gets hurt.

But suppose this stiff-necked couple learn a higher truth.  What would happen if they let the Almighty, loving, unselfish God take possession of their necks, their heads, and their wills?

I can tell you, marriage becomes delightful.9-19-2009_043

Ghost Town

2

Movies entertain me.  The dictionary defines entertainment as the action of providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment.  I choose feel-good movies when my brain tells my body it’s had enough.  Violence and intrigue stress me out.  But laughter, even if it’s internal, relaxes my soul.

Few movie scenes cause me to activate the rewind option.  There’s a scene in Ghost Town between Ricky Gervais, Kristin Wiig, and the imposing Michael-Leon Wooley as the hospital lawyer that’s classic humor.  Gervais plays the dentist Bertrand Pincus who had a routine colonoscopy by surgeon Wiig.  Strange things begin to happen and he returns to the hospital to investigate.

3“Did anything usual happen during my operation?” Pincus asked.  The surgeon responds with a mumbling, “You…uh…died for seven minutes.”

“I died!  For seven minutes!”

“We brought you right back.  People die all the time.”

“Yeah, but it’s usually just once…at the end.”

The dialogue before is a stumbling mumbling exchange between Gervais and Wiig.  The lawyer is called in and he remains quiet until a lawsuit is mentioned and well, he perks up.  No words on paper can do justice to the humor of this scene.  Here is where characters, setting, and dialogue merge to perfection.

But the movie is more than just a comedy to entertain.  It’s the story of a man who can now see ghosts, they want his help, he hates people dead or alive, and then he meets a woman.  So yes, it’s a romantic comedy with an interesting theme: ghosts don’t have unfinished business, people do.

4There are three little words in this movie that hit my soul.  In life, there are combinations of three words that are always powerful no matter who speaks them.  Hearing “I love you” sends currents of pulsating pleasures through our veins.   The words “I hate you” can crush a spirit to the depths of despair or ignite a fury of revenge.

“I forgive you” frees two bitter or broken hearts while “Please forgive me” humbles the proud.

We love to hear the challenge “Go for it.”  But at times we need to hear “Wait for it.”

In this movie when Dr. Pincus recognizes a patient he found irritating was in his life to serve a purpose, he could only say, “I didn’t realize.” Yes, we only die once and then these words may emanate from every mouth, “I didn’t realize.”

5I didn’t realize that I had a purpose.

I didn’t realize everyone around me was a part of that purpose.

I didn’t realize the purpose was for my good.

I didn’t realize good can be wrapped in pain.

I didn’t realize God was real.

I didn’t realize death was final.

This list is endless but it doesn’t need be.

Realize now, God is good.

Star Trek

2

I married a Trekkie.  We raised two Trekkies.  I suppose that makes me a Trekkie as well. Our collection of memorabilia includes the pewter replicas of all their ships, commemorative postage stamps, and even a battery operated Tribble.  Of course we own every movie.

When news hit our home that J.J. Abrams would direct the new Star Trek motion pictures, we all said “fascinating” in our best Vulcan logic. Mike skipped work to go to the theatre on opening day, twice.  I enjoyed it once.

I watched it for the second time last night paying more attention to the dialogue than the action. I’m sure guys marveled at the special effects.  I enjoyed the tender and yet logical Vulcan family interactions.  There’s childhood bullying and bar room fighting.  It’s the story of a rebel kid turned good and friendships conquering all obstacles.  But there’s more, so much more.

4The bitterly vengeful Romulan Nero declared war on the world.  He destroyed every ship in his path and threatened every planet in Starfleet.  Thousands died in battle.  Billions of innocent Vulcans perished when their planet collapsed into a black hole.  It was the horrid justice of Nero’s sickness.

In the final moments, Kirk used Nero’s weapon against him.  When the villain realized he had no hope of victory, Kirk offered grace, “Your ship is compromised, too close to the singularity to survive without assistance, which we are willing to provide.”

A bewildered Spock interrupted, “Captain, what are you doing?”

Kirk responded, “Showing them compassion may be the only way to earn peace with the Romulus.”

Now pay close attention to Nero’s reply, “I would rather suffer the end of Romulus a thousand times.  I would rather die in agony than accept assistance from you.”

Kirk then gave him what he wanted, “You got it! Arm phasers.  Fire everything we’ve got!”  The next footage showed the enemy, his crew, and his ship annihilated only because they chose death over grace.

This movie is for anyone who has never understood the biblical book of Revelation.  If you cheered when Captain James T. Kirk defeated the villain, then you must also cheer when the Almighty God of Creation destroys the wickedness from this earth.

So many people wonder how a loving God could send such devastation on Earth:  earthquakes, diseases, pestilence, famines, bloody water systems, blackened sun, and tormenting flying demons.  Revelation is this scene in the movie.

“God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Hebrews 10:26-29 reads, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left but only a fearful expectation of judgment and raging fire that will consume the enemies of God…How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot.”

Revelation 9:20-21 reveals the Nero’s of mankind throughout history, “The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk.  Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality, or their thefts.”

3God’s compassion never ceases to offer forgiveness upon repentance.  Yet like Nero so many respond, “I’d rather die a thousand deaths.  I’d rather suffer the agonies of judgment than to accept forgiveness from the Loving God.”

God then answers, “You got it.”

It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:31

A Good Woman

1

“We are all in the gutter. But some of us are looking at the stars.”   Lord Darlington from Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde.

I found few lines that matched Wilde’s original play in the 2004 remake, A Good Woman. The movie was set in 1930 Italy with cinematography that delights the senses.  The Mediterranean blue waves kiss the white beaches and caress the stone embankments along the Almafi coast.  The slender seductive roads clinging to the mountain ridges and skirting the water’s edge twist and interlock like the scandalous affluent men and women shirking the disastrous consequences from their elegant gutters.

2The characters in this movie are as ornate and colorful as the stone and stucco dwellings that cling to the steep cliffs.  The wanton Mrs. Erlynne, the scheming playboy Lord Darlington, and the selfish gossips threaten the starry love of newlyweds Meg and Robert Windermere.  No one believed in love and marriage but the Windermeres.  Contessa Lucchino expressed her sentiment with, “Undying love is like the ghost in your villa.  Everybody talks about it, but try and find one person who has seen it.”

The humorous elderly Dumby and Cecil poke fun at marriage. They try to stop Tubby from proposing to Mrs. Erlynne, “Do you think she’d look at you if you were poor?” Tubby replies, “Do you think I’d look at her if she were ugly? Fair’s fair, exchange rates and so forth.”  So they try again, “You know why they call it the altar?  It’s where they make human sacrifices.”

When Mrs. Erlynne described why she ran away from her marriage and daughter twenty years prior, her poetic words sucked me into her pain, “Marriage.  When I think of it, I think of a room where you can’t open the window.  Everyday, you wake up, and the room is smaller.  You don’t notice, not at first.  It happens slowly.  In inches.  Then one morning, you open your eyes and the room’s so small you can’t move.  You can’t take a breath.  You have to get out. You can’t think of anything else, or anyone else.”  Tubby tried to console her, “You married the wrong man.”  Mrs. Erlynne conceded, “He married the wrong woman.”

3 My first trip to Italy was for our 25th wedding anniversary.  We toured Rome, Pisa, Florence, and Assisi.  Most of the ten days were spent leisurely driving through the Tuscan countryside stopping in to savor the magic of each small village.  Our children used their savings to buy us the trip.  They gave all they had so we could experience our dream vacation.  Their sacrificial love made Italy a special place for us.  Someday I hope to return, with all my family, and give them a vacation to match the stars.

Just maybe as we stand on the beach, I can share with my loved ones the advice Mrs. Erlynne gave Meg, “A marriage takes your whole heart.  Selfish people can’t pull it off, but you’re not that… Never step over your love to pick up pride and guilt.”

4

Sherlock

sherlock

Many nights I put myself to sleep taking my favorite protagonist through adventures I can only dream of having.  She’s young, beautiful, gracious, but most of all brilliant.   She exceeds the intellect of the Einstein’s throughout history.  She creates life-saving technology, pens best-selling novels, gives guidance to world leaders, and solves unsolvable crimes.

When Yahweh God offered King Solomon anything he wanted, Solomon asked for wisdom.  Brilliance, the proper genius, is my highest unattainable goal.  Maybe that’s why I love the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.  The new BBC series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman excels in bringing a 19th century character into the modern technology of the 21st century.  The edgy photography, superior writing, and brilliant acting have made this series to be an instant hit.  Only three shows per season and we addicts have to wait far too long between seasons.

imagesMy protagonist is oftentimes a female Sherlock Holmes though she is kinder than this self-described high functioning sociopath Sherlock.  She’d never belittle others with, “Dear God, what is it like in your feeble little brains.  It must be so boring.  Look at you lot, you’re all so vacant.  Is it nice not being me?  It must be so relaxing.”  Then to the mortician who Sherlock despises he adds, “Anderson, don’t talk out loud.  You lower the IQ of the whole street.”

In episode one, after four victims of apparent suicides, yet all died of the same poison, Sherlock deducts a serial killer.  He loves the brilliant killers, “They’re always so desperate to get caught.” Why? “Appreciation.  Applause.  At long last, the spotlight.  That’s the frailty of genius, it needs an audience.”  Now I’m beginning to wonder if I should pray for brilliance.  Can humans handle such a gift?  Solomon proved he couldn’t.

A Study in Pink offers this puzzle:  “Who do we trust, even though we don’t know them?  Who passes unnoticed wherever they go?  Who hunts in the middle of a crowd?”  When Sherlock finally comes face-to-face with the killer in a game of chess with one move, one survivor; I find my favorite lines.

2Sherlock sits across the table in a vacant classroom late at night.  He refuses to move until he studies his opponent.  “You didn’t kill four people because you’re bitter.  Bitterness is a paralytic.  Love is a much more vicious motivator.”

I would have never put love and vicious together.  Synonyms like brutal, ferocious, savage, ruthless, heartless, and barbaric stand in stark contrast to love.  Yet, I marvel at the power of these words to illicit a vivid picture in my brain.  Right now, I’m momma-bear ferociously protecting my babies from harm.  Yes, love can be vicious.  Sherlock has once again challenged my intellect and renewed my passion to learn.