FORGIVENESS

Definition of forgive  (From Merriam-Webster Dictionary)  

transitive verb

  1. 1a:  to give up resentment of or claim to requital (see requital 1) for forgive an insult  b:  to grant relief from payment of forgive a debt

  2. 2:  to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) :pardonforgive one’s enemies.

We hear a lot about forgiveness in God’s word–in fact Jesus often spoke of forgiveness and the subject of some of His parables was about forgiveness.  As Christians, most of us understand that Jesus, a perfect, sinless man,  died a horrible death to pay the penalty for our sin–like 1b in the definition.  We are grateful for that act and to know we, who are believers, are covered for our sins, past, present, and future.  The penalty has been paid and we accept that gift humbly and with gratitude.

But what does forgiveness look like in our daily walk with our fellow-man?  Forgiving the people in our lives who hurt us, many times, over and over. Or those who seem arrogant or will refuse to acknowledge that they offended.   How do we prove our forgiveness–that we’ve given up our resentment or need to punish them back ie, the strong desire to show them how it feels–the eye for an eye mentality?  Can we forgive and stay in the lives of those persons–or should  we forgive but remove ourselves from the object of our  pain?  Is that what forgiveness looks like?  Do we have to tell the person we’ve forgiven them when they haven’t even asked us to forgive?  What if they feel the offense was warranted, ie, necessary for them to change us or our behaviors?

I don’t have answers to all my questions.  As a person who has spent her life living as a chameleon– adapting my ideas, thoughts and beliefs to whomever I was with, I found I wasn’t true to anyone–most of all myself.  If criticized in any way, I tried to change to accommodate what that person thought I should be.  I can tell you living like that is exhausting because often these people keep moving the bar.  It’s impossible to please them because fixing you is not really what’s behind the criticism.  Perhaps it is jealousy,  control, fear or some other motive that is being played out–not a problem I can fix for them by changing my behavior.  In fact, these kinds of interactions, more often than not, result in a lack of respect for me, something it took a long time to figure out.  People, even bullies, may have respect for someone who stands up for themselves rather than cowering down.  I have often run from any confrontational situation–putting my head in the sand, so to speak– instead of standing up and speaking my position and my thoughts to an adversarial person.  When I was growing up there was a lot of strife in our home due to my dad’s drinking habits.  Many of these times of arguing and fussing were done at the dinner table in the evenings.  I hated it and it frightened me.  I have decided that is why I became a ‘peace at ANY price’ person.  I find myself doing anything I can to avoid or ‘fix’ an adversarial situation.  In doing that, I have also realized that I have stepped in front of God, thwarting His loving plan to work in the heart of that person.  I would tell them it is ok, when it isn’t ok, simply because I couldn’t stand to see them in emotional pain.  Often we need to feel the pain of our poor choices as an impetus to make the needed changes; that’s how God works in our lives.  We become enablers when we try to fix or cover up our loved one’s problems.

We know that life is a journey,  and as we live, we grow both in knowledge and understanding.  Some of us grow up more quickly than others.  We often judge people based on what we see, even though we have no idea what is in the person’s heart–the struggles and pain they have experienced, the ‘whys’ of their behavior.  Doyle has been tiling our shower in our newly renovated  bathroom.  He, in some musings of his own, shared with me that our lives are like that shower.  As people come in to look at it, they judge the finished project on the unfinished stage of construction–the mistakes, if you will.  Our lives are like that; people judge us by one behavior or action, not taking into account the many other good and admirable qualities we may possess.  This creates a situation for forgiveness, the need to give up the resentment that the criticism or judgment creates.  If you are going to make a judgment, wait until ‘all the tiles are laid’ or until the end of his or her life.

I’ve discovered that many people who take offense easily and are sharp and quick tongued, are people who are themselves hurting.  I’ve heard Joyce Meyer say many times, “Hurting people hurt people”.  It certainly seems to be true.  I suppose it’s a defense mechanism–strike first and strike fast–not allowing anyone to get close enough to hurt them.  In the process of trying to ask forgiveness and work things out, they are very much like a wounded animal, growling and biting the very hand that is trying to help them.  In these situations, it’s best to pray for them and wait for God to soften hearts and work His miracles.  When the time is right and the other person makes a move toward us, we can express our forgiveness and accept them into our lives.

 

Well, that’s about it for this subject.  Have a wonderful week.

 

 

 

The Heart ❤️

Well, I’ve been weeding again–my favorite time to have a conversation with Jesus , and it’s time to share what we’ve been ‘discussing’. ☺️
Doyle and I have been reading each morning in Jeremiah.  This prophet was sent by God to warn the Israelites (the Jewish people) that because of their disobedience and the fact that they were worshipping idols instead of God, they would be taken into Babylonian captivity.  They hated Jeremiah because he wasn’t telling them what they wanted to hear and his message was negative.  They even tried to kill him.
I thought about the state of our country–the protests, the violence, the hate, the division of our people–that it no longer seems to be the UNITED states.  I am reminded of the Biblical principles that our country was founded upon, the reason the pilgrims left England to come to a new land–to have freedom to worship without the mandates of the government, a separation of church and state, if you will.  I was thinking of my childhood education where each school day began with Bible reading and prayer.  My third grade teacher, whom I loved dearly, had our class to memorize the first Psalm.  I still can quote some of it today 😊.  Our country was open to all legal immigrants who quickly assimilated and accepted  America’s values and we welcomed them to come enjoy the freedoms in our great country.  But something happened when these people who came with their idols and foreign gods began to take away our religious freedom by protesting these very freedoms and insisting that we put our great God away, take Him out of our schools, out of our judicial system, out of our very personal lives, where we are hesitant to even speak about God and even more afraid to speak the name of Jesus, lest we offend someone who has no God or chooses to worship idols.
As I’ve read Jeremiah, my heart was stirred.  Are we, in America, just repeating what happened to the Israelites?  Has God sent us a Jeremiah to warn of the very sure destruction of our country if we continue to turn from Him and allow  false gods, negative philosophies and idols to permeate our society?  I do know that God hates sin, that He will not leave it unpunished forever.  Sometimes our punishment is the consequence of our own sin, but we also suffer consequences from the sins of others.  In point, just look at how all aspects of our lives in this country have changed since the tragedy of 9-11.  This post is not meant to be political, but I have felt great hope of returning to our Christian nation with the election of President Trump.  I, like everyone else, cringe at some of his ‘tweets’ and sometimes his manner, but I also know that God uses all kinds of people to fulfill His purposes.  I believe he is in this position for ‘such a time as this’, as was Esther when she became King Xerxes’ queen.  She was able to save her people, the Jews.  I trust President Trump’s presidency will lead us to a revival of moral standards and return this nation to its founding roots.
There are many people who would argue that the Old Testament in the Bible isn’t relative to today–it’s ancient history.  I will remind you that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the same God who came to earth as Jesus to live among His people and teach them (us) how to live.  He is the same God who lives in the hearts of His people guiding them on this journey through this life on earth, preparing them for their real (eternal) life with Him.  The Old Testament is a record of God choosing the Jewish people to be His chosen people and what happened to them every time they turned away from Him.  Are there Jews in our world today?   Is the record of their history meaningful to them today?  Do they still celebrate the Jewish festivals and holidays instigated by God?  And even though they, as a race, have been persecuted over the centuries, God always preserves a remnant.  When you think of the millions of Jews exterminated in the Holocaust, it’s amazing that there are any left.  Yet, God has always blessed His people.  When Jesus came to earth,  because of their (the Jews) rejection of the Messiah, Gentiles were invited into His kingdom. Jesus came, not to do away with the Jewish law, but to fulfill it.  All He requires is for us to “Love the Lord our God with all your heart, with all your being  and with all your mind, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Matthew 22: 37-40) These two commandments take care of all the other laws.
That brings me to ‘the heart’.  I have heard people say, “Follow your heart.” when they are pondering a decision.  Yet Jeremiah tells us that ‘The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.  Who really knows how bad it is?  But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives.  I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”  (Jeremiah 17: 9-10 NLT). Then in Proverbs 4: 23, we are told ” Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”  It was a light bulb moment when, as I was thinking of the heart being deceitful and wicked, and then immediately the scripture of guarding your heart came to mind, that it is the unguarded heart that is wicked and deceitful. And how do we guard our hearts?  We guard them by being careful what we put into our minds (books, TV, movies), by removing ourselves when in a compromising situation, by spending time in God’s word, and by communicating with Him as we go about our day.  Our prayer each day should be as the Psalmist’s was, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a loyal spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10).
So, yes, follow your heart, but only if it is clean and renewed and connected to the Source.  Examine your motives, make sure they are pure and uncompromising.   Listen to that still small voice and “Get rid of all ill will and all deceit, pretense, envy and slander.  Instead, like a newborn baby, desire the pure milk of the Word.  Nourished by it you will grow into salvation, since you have tasted that the Lord is good. (I Peter 2: 1-2 CEB)
Well, until next time….God bless…..

SaveSave

Fear

The Dictionary app on my phone defines the noun fear as: 1.  a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined;  the feeling or condition of being afraid.  2.  concern or anxiety; solicitude  3.  something that causes a feeling of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of.  4.  anticipation of the possibility that something unpleasant will occur.

These definitions have characterized my life since I was a little girl.  And as far back as I can remember,  I was a ‘fraidy cat’ and this fear often resulted in crying when I was little–which drove my ‘big’ sister crazy.    When our parents had heated disagreements, I shook and was afraid; she was angry.  I was afraid when anything was out of the routine of my life.  I was deathly afraid of the dark.  Our next door neighbor, Hazel, was a ‘beautician’ and every Saturday night Mama would go over to her house to have her roll her hair–she would inevitably forget the ‘bobbie pins’ and send me back to get them.  It was always dark and I had great dread as I ‘flew’ back home.  On several occasions, Mama would tell me that I didn’t need to be afraid, no one would want me.  (That really boosted my self esteem!!😩) I’m sure it was just her way of ‘helping’ me overcome my irrational fear–I know SHE loved and wanted me ❤️.

As I grew older and began to attend elementary school, I was afraid of the students and especially the teachers.  I didn’t go to school until first grade. (Kindergarten was private, costly and, of course,  optional in the early 50’s.)  One of the fun things we did in first grade at recess was for a group of girls to form a circle around another student and ask, “Who’s the prettiest?”   One day we formed a circle around a little girl who was more of a loner than I was.  She started crying and said she was going to tell the teachers on us.  I was terrified.  I, to this day, remember the paralyzing fear in my heart of being in trouble with the teacher.

I now understand that my fearful nature is the reason I was so attracted to my husband, Doyle.  He, in my eyes, was fearless.  He was quite wild in his youth and I, in some twisted way, admired that he was so unafraid.  Now, after many years of retrospecting, I know his fearlessness was HIS way of dealing with his own insecurities.  It was only our seeking the guidance of Jesus early in our marriage that we ever accomplished 51 years of marriage.

When I graduated seventh grade and headed to high school, I was once again extremely afraid.  I was a little fish in a big ole’ all-girls high school pond.  About half way through my eighth grade year, I began to make friends from the other elementary schools that fed into the high school.  I had more than one new friend tell me, “We thought you were so ‘stuck-up’ when we first met you.  Truth was that ‘look’ was a cover-up for all my insecurities.  That cover up followed me all my life and showed back up when I went back to college in 1983–I was 36.  (That whole story about going back to finish college is for another musing 😊)  One of the first classes I was required to take was Speech.  I was in class with 30 or more college freshmen.  The teacher was a very young woman who was ‘on loan’ from another college.  We were required to give various speeches of different kinds, eg, instructional, informative, persuasive, etc.  My speeches were very benign (“How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Coffee, The Importance of Being an Organ Donor, etc.)  However, the young men and women gave speeches on “How to Best Get Drunk”,     “The Importance of Only Getting Drunk on the Weekend” etc–you get my drift.  I was horrified–I had a 16 year old and a 12 year old at home and they would be heading to college sooner rather than later.  In order not to look so out of place–though being a non-traditional student, I was obviously out of place,–I did not react at all to these speeches.  At the end of the quarter, the instructor gave out ‘awards’.  I  received the “Poker Faced Award”.   She said even after hearing all the ‘stuff’ the students spouted, I never changed my expression.  I was not even aware that I was doing that–all because of fear.

Just before retirement–my last year of teaching–I decided I was tired of being so fearful of everything.  Doyle had purchased a Harley Davidson a couple of years earlier and we had enjoyed quite a few outings on it.  He took many trips with our son on their bikes and I even rode with him on the Dragon’s Tail at Deal’s Gap, NC–318 curves in 11 miles.  I think I even wore shorts and sandals on that excursion 😳.  I began to think that maybe I needed to learn to drive a motorcycle.  What if something happened to Doyle while we were out on it and I needed to drive us home.  Plus, again, I was tired of being so afraid.  So, I signed up for the Motorcycle Safety Class at Fort Gordon in order to get a license to drive a bike.  It was me (60 years old) and lots of young army GI’s.  (They were required to take the course to drive their bikes on post.)  I was the only one who ‘dropped’  their bike during the class.  That should have been an omen that this was not a good idea.  When I dropped the bike, several young men ran over to help me, but the instructor stopped them and I had to pick it up by myself.  I had so much adrenalin running in my blood, I picked it right up. (It was a 250 cc) and weighed about 300 pounds.  Well, with the class behind me and my license on the way, we began to discuss buying a bike of my own.  I really loved the little Vespa, small and feminine; but they were quite pricey.  I recalled something my instructor said during the class.  “It’s better to get a bike with some power, so you can pull into traffic easier when necessary.”  So, we ended up getting a Bergman 650 in pearl white.  It was beautiful–but it was big, and heavy (500 lbs).  With all the white fenders it even dwarfed Doyle’s Lo-Rider.  Well, we began to practice.  I drove it to the school parking lot on the weekends and drove around the lot.  Then we started going out on the road.  I was terrified the whole time.  You don’t ride a motorcycle tentatively–it requires lots of confidence–which I didn’t have.  One day as we were coming back from a jaunt to the store, I turned the corner to get home–remembering to “turn your head in the way you are going”–but I forgot to also turn the bike and ended up in the ditch.  That was the last time I drove that beautiful and expensive bike.  BTW, it is for sale and has been for years-I really think Doyle thought I would get back on it–NOT!  We will be advertising it soon if you are in the market.  The ad will read:  “A little old lady school teacher’s motorbike for sale.” ☺️  (Prov. 27: 12 NLT “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.  The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.)

One side effect of living with fear is that if someone isn’t acting as you expect, you immediately begin to wonder what it was that YOU did to cause it.  I have always taken responsibility for other’s actions and behaviors.  I begin to analyze and “over think” (as Doyle calls it), hashing and rehashing until I am in a state of anxiety.    I am slowly learning that if I did indeed do something unknowingly and caused someone to be upset, I would hope they would feel free to bring it to my attention in order for me to try and make it right.  Otherwise I don’t need to take  responsibility for their behavior.  Psalm 118:  6 says, “The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.  What can mere people do to me?   Jesus only commands to us are to “love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.” (Matt. 22: 37-38)  And then John, in I John 4:18 says, “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.  If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.  We love each other because he loved us first. The Bible speaks of fear often and admonishes us to not be afraid.

  • Isaiah 41:10 says, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
  • Psalms is full of wisdom concerning fear.  46:1-2  “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.  So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.”
  • Psalms 112: 7:  ‘Those who fear the Lord… do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.”
  • II Timothy 1:7:  For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self discipline.
  • Hebrews 13:6 (quoting from Psalm 118:6)  So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear.  What can mere people do to me?”

Fear can be a debilitating emotion.  I suppose I will always struggle with fear in some form or another.  I find that staying in contact with the One ‘who strengthens and upholds me’ helps me to keep the fear at bay and to live my life trusting that “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes” which also happens to be my favorite verse. (Romans 8: 28-29).

Until next time……………………

Weeds

Weeds have become a large part of my life and compose much of my activity.  In our yard we have two large ‘natural areas’–no grass just pine straw.  The reason we made it natural was that grass refused to grow in those areas.  However, weeds do grow and grow prolifically!!  Especially after a rain the weeds are big and green and beautiful-if you can call weeds beautiful.

There are all kinds, little pine seedlings, elm seedlings, oak seedlings and thorny weeds that ‘bite’ when you attempt to pull them up, even with gloves.  There are weeds that have runners and pull for a foot or two disrupting the pine straw.  There are weeds that are thorny vines that grow from tubers and also run under ground.  These particular ones love to grow up into shrubbery and up trees creating large foliage and choking out the desired plant or tree.  I’ve noticed that some weeds have shallow roots and pull up easily,  some clumpy roots that bring up lots of soil with them and some long and deep roots that often break off instead of pulling completely up. Some weeds have flowers on them that turn to puff balls, which are really seeds to grow even more of these weeds when the wind blows them off the stalk.
Well, enough about weeds.  I often spend time talking to Jesus as I am weeding.  I find I can really bare my soul and tell him all about my pain, worries, anxieties and hurts and know that He understands and is working on my behalf.  Sometimes He helps me as I  talk through things with Him and in the process get a new perspective or feel comforted.

One day as I weeded, I thought those weeds are just like sin in our lives.  Sins, whatever they may be for you and for me, spring up and begin to grow.  When we become aware of the sin (see the weed), we are led by the Holy Spirit to remove it from our life.  Some of them are small and have a shallow root system and we can pull it right up and out of our life-they are gone and no one else is involved.  However, there are those sins that are ‘pretty’ with flowers on them and we’re sure if we leave them and enjoy this little sin, no one will be hurt.   The real truth is that the enticing, ‘beautiful’ sin will multiply and affect others ( blow into the neighbor’s yard 😊).  Plus, we rationalize, everyone has these weeds, it’s no big deal!!  (This particular weed has a long central root (sin) that is difficult to remove.). These are the sins we sometimes  try to remove and the visible part is gone out of our life for a while, but since it  breaks leaving the root–we have only superficially removed it.  When this happens, it will come back.  It reminds me of a Bible passage about the root of bitterness.   We might deal with it on the surface but until the root is competely removed, it will affect our relationships with other people (Hebrews 12:15).

Some of our sins are generational sins (e.g. alcoholism, child abuse). Our parent, grandparent or other relative also struggled with this sin and because they never dealt with this sin, or got help with it, it is passed on from generation to generation. (Exodus 20:5).
Sin, as defined in the original translations of the Bible, means ‘to miss the mark’– the standard of perfection established by God and evidenced by Jesus.  It is clear, then, that we are all sinners.” (Romans 3:23) (from all about God.com).  Most of us think of the ‘big’ sins-those listed in the 10 commandments and feel really good about ourselves.  But, there are sins of the heart-impure motives, jealousy, pride, selfishness, anger, lust, etc.  These sins come from the heart.  Jeremiah 17:9 says ‘The human heart is the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked’. (NLT)

The good news is-But Jesus!!  “If we confess our sins to a Him, He (God) is faithful and just to  forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness (unrighteousness).” I John: 1:9.  There is hope and that hope is in Jesus.  When we choose to receive Him into our hearts and ask Him to guide us, to live in and through us,  He becomes our helper, our comforter, our savior.

When I started this little weed story, I had no idea it would turn into a sermon ☺️.  Oh, well, just some musings from my constant task of pulling weeds. 😍

Obituaries

I was recently asked to speak at a dear friend’s funeral.  As I was thinking about the 40+ years I knew her and what she meant to me, I realized she shaped much of who I am today.  I was just 26 when we met, she was 37.  I was a young mom and my oldest child was the age of her youngest son.

As I talked to her family and friends gathered around her grave, I told them how she had impacted my life.  I viewed her more like a mom than a friend and learned so much from her.  Did I ever tell her those things?  Even the few times I visited her in the hospital after her first stroke and then later a couple of visits while she was in rehab, I failed to tell her how much she meant to me.  We talked about old times and laughed about her late husband and his comical way of expressing his thoughts when meeting us for the first time.  But I never verbalized  the details of my admiration and respect for her.  I am sorry about that.
This experience has led me to realize that it is important to tell people when you have good, uplifting or encouraging thoughts about them.  We never know the pain or sadness a person may be experiencing and that a kind word we speak might change the trajectory of their day.  I have decided to be more intentional as I interact with everyone with whom I come in contact with each day.  I challenge you to do the same.  Who knows how powerful that may be to someone.

One More Attempt

Several years ago I attempted a blog spot somewhere out there on the web.  I don’t believe anyone ever saw or read my musings at that time and often, even I, had trouble finding it. 😊

I’ve been reading the thoughts of a young friend (and former student.). She inspired me to try again by using the website she is using.  Actually, I attempted to ‘like’ one of her posts and it took me into an offer to set up my own blogspot-so with Brooke’s writings and the WordPress invitation, here I am.

Words, both written and spoken, are powerful things.  Words can be used to help and encourage, but can also be used to injure and destroy.  Often words are misunderstood, perhaps not spoken correctly or with a blunt and harsh tone.  And because we hear these words through the filter of our life experiences, we often misinterpret what is being said-it reminds us of a sad or hurtful experience we may not even remember.  Those words conjure up feelings and responses even we don’t understand.

In the last few years as I’ve grown older I realized that I have become bolder in my speech.  I see things that need attention or correcting and find it difficult to be silent.  It has gotten me into a truckload of trouble.  The recipient is not always willing or able to receive truth-thus relationships are often damaged.  The one thing that brings me comfort is that as I live my life in a constant state of prayer, I know God is leading and ‘working all things for good because I love Him and desire to live according to His purposes’ (Romans 8:  28-29).

Often we must walk through troubling waters to grow in our personal faith.  That’s when we are drawn to cry out to Him who is able and trustworthy to comfort us as we ‘ Wait patiently for the Lord.  Be brave and courageous, yes, wait patiently for the Lord.’ (Psalm 27: 14)

Well, that’s enough of my ‘musings’ for today.  Have a beautiful Tuesday.

 

Janet’s Musings 😊

It’s obvious I don’t know much about this blogspot, WordPress.  I was trying to give my site a title and it resulted in publishing the blog where apparently I was supposed to tell you why I decided to blog, and this was supposed to be my very first post..  Well, I sorta did explain why I have taken up the hobby of blogging in my very first post.   I finally figured out how to change the pic and though this isn’t a very good one, it’s me!!  Well, I started to just delete this one, but decided to leave it.