Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Living Backwards

posted by Ruth Graham

I am a fan of Frederick Buechner. He has a way with words. He often says the most profound things in a simple way – or has a turn of a phrase that catches my mind off guard and causes me to think deeply.

I read from my Mother’s copy of Listening to Your Heart each night before I go to bed. It was a gift from a friend of hers and I am not sure Mother read beyond the first several pages. I doubt Buechner was her “cup of tea”. But it would be a boring world if we were all alike!

Some quotes form Listening to Your Heart (HarperSanFrancisco, 1992):

“We cannot afford to live our lives constantly looking back, listening back, lest we be turned into pillars of longing and regret, but to live without listening at all is to live deaf to the fullness of the music.”

“To grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst – is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed by the holy power that life itself comes from. You can survive on your own. You can grow strong on your own. You can even prevail on your own. But you cannot become human on your own….the one thing a clenched fist cannot do is accept, even from le bon Dieu himself, a helping hand.”

Let’s quit looking backward to regret and open our ears, hands and hearts to the God of love.

Journal Entry

posted by Ruth Graham

Lord, You know my heart – the dark places, the wounded places, the doubting places, the questionng places – and the happy, content places. They seem to be all jumbled together.

The jumble is distracting – like noises in my head.

Help me balance them – put them in perspective so that my heart is true, undivided.

You sort them all out then hand me the things You want me to do – clear my focus.

May I experience the unhurried pace of Your purpose for me. You don’t rush or panic. Help me not to. Let me have Your clear vision and gentle calm  in the midst of life’s stress.

Slow me down – bring me calm – like You did in the storm on Lake Gallilee.

 

Olympic Standards

posted by Ruth Graham

It has been exciting to watch the young athletes compete in Russia – against lots of odds they went to compete against the best in the world. They knew the rules when they signed up. They knew what was expected. They knew they had to do certain things and not do certain things. There was a requirement for training, behavior, dress…they didn’t try to change the rules. They met the standards.

As we think about safe places, what threatens our safe places? What makes us feel threatened? I’m beginning to feel threatened by our culture of raunchiness. It’s more than raunchiness. It is vulgarity at it’s worse and no one is saying “enough”! I am dismayed by what is generally accepted now. There was a day when cursing was a behavior of those with limited vocabularies, sexual behavior was limited to the bedroom, “gay” meant “happy”, clothing was modest, manners were expected, honesty a given,  integrity honored, faith respected, marriage was between man and woman and Jesus was not a swear word.

We have accepted the unacceptable so as not to appear “racist” or “intolerant”. We want to be seen as open-minded, inclusive, loving. And in order to be seen that way, we have lowered our own standards and erased our own boundaries for what is decent. We have allowed our culture to be unsafe for decency, integrity, honesty, marriage and Christian faith.

On February 6th the Washington Post ran an editorial, “Scuzz World”, by Daniel Henniger. He likens the Miley Cyrus and Justin Beiber’s antics to the freak shows of the circus. Except the freak show used to leave town until the circus returned a year later. Now we are bombarded with scuzz all year long. He wrote, “Adjusting ourselves to vulgarity on such a vast scale is like rust; eventually it is going to erode standards for pretty much everything. Even hard-to-shock entertainers were aghast at the content of the Miley Cyrus inicdent. Putting it on television makes moral baseness the new normal. At some point, even the devil gets grossed out.”

I hope that he is correct – that even hard-to-shock entertainers were aghast. Proverbial wisdom is that there is no bad press – celebrity feeds on attention. These days controversy gets attention instead of ostracism. I recently went to an Andy Warhol exhibit. So empty. Vapid. But he wanted celebrity and we gave it to him.

At what point will we become aghast? Have we lost the ability to be aghast, outraged by vulgar behavior. Why do we tolerate it? A small percentage of our culture is behaving this way but they, the small percentage, aided by the secular press,  make us believe they are in the majority. They are not. Why should we tolerate the decline of our culture?

I want a culture that is safe for my grandchildren. I want absolutes. I want standards. Just like the Olympics have standards – everyone admires those that can meet the standards for competition even if  gold, silver or bronze aren’t involved. Everyone knows what the expectations are and no one is calling the IOC “intolerant”; they are lining up to be chosen to compete. Being an Olympian is a label of excellence. Discipline. Hard work. And failure but not defeat.

Let’s demand that of our culture. We can do better. We are not defeated.

 

 

Thank You to Those Who Serve

posted by Ruth Graham

I was visiting friends in Florida this week when I noticed the news of a snow storm headed to my home area of Virginia. I was enjoying warm, clear weather; I was with, as I said, dear friends; we had plans for some fun outings. I had one more day to soak it all up. A snow storm was not on my radar!

But I remembered several years ago I was traveling home when I got caught by a huge snow storm. I got as far as Philadelphia when the Virginia airports began to close and flights were cancelled. Nothing into D.C., Roanoke, Richmond, Charlottesville. Nothing. So I quickly got a hotel room nearby and hunkered down. While I was safe and warm and had roomservice, I did not want to do a repeat of that. So sadly, I called the airline  yesterday morning and got a flight out a day early. I informed my gracious hosts who were kind enough to fuss about it but took me to the airport anyway.

All the flights were crowded but on time. I arrived in time to go to the food store. The shelves, predictaley were bare…I wanted leeks. And would you belive even they were gone! Who shops for leeks before a storm?! Milk. Bread. Yes. But leeks?  (I plan to make a hearty soup. I found the receipe in Simple magazine at the airport! It sounded good and I was hungry when I read it. At that point everything sounded good! )

So far, no snow…but I do have bread and milk – and leeks. (They say the snow will begin later…)

I felt fortunate in both cases to be able to get out of the storm. I think of those who head into the storm to protect us: emergency personel, highway workers, police, power crews…all those that serve us. Even this morning as I heard the garbage truck outside my house…it was so cold but they came – I can almost set my clock by them. Faithfully serving in the cold, dark winter. Do folks  notice or care? They would if the garbage collector didn’t show up. They would if the power crews didn’t come. They would if the roads didn’t get plowed…

And what about their families? They also serve us as they send their loved one out. They do the heavy lifting at home so their loved one can do it for us…

While not the same, I saw my Mother stay home to tend us while she sent my father out to serve time after time. While you are thanking our public servants, thank your pastor and spouse – even if you don’t much care for his/her preaching. They are serving in one of the most difficult jobs in the world.

Maybe it is time to write a “thank you” note to your police department, rescue squad, highway patrol, garbage collector, pastor…at least say ‘thanks’ when you see them.  It’s been  a long winter…they need encouragement. And while you are at it – say a quick prayer for them.

PS – I’ll let you know if the soup is good!

 

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