Beliefnet
Safe Place with Ruth Graham

The is Memorial Day weekend…we’ll fire up the grill, drink our beer, mow the lawn, have some friends over and enjoy our family.

That’s all good. But while you are doing that don’t forget what this day is all about – remembering. Remembering those that have served our country so selflessly, some giving their lives to protect our freedoms. There are empty places at picnic tables all over this country – hearts aching to see their loved one “jut once more”.

Yes, let’s remember and not take for granted all that we enjoy because someone sacrificed their all for us.

Thank a veteran this weekend. And thank the Lord that we have a free country and patriots who love this land and what she stands for. We don’t have to apologize  – without an America where would the world be? Yes, it is in vogue to list our many failings – and there are – but no other nation can begin to match what America has done for the world. Maybe saying this is not politically correct…I could care less about PC. It has gone beyond the ridiculous.

I am a woman. I am white. I am getting older. I tear up when I sing or hear the nation anthem. I go to the ladies’ washroom and I do not want to find a man in there. I want my grandchildren to learn the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord’s Prayer. I think it is important to post the 10 Commandments on the courthouse wall. I don’t want people rioting the street or attacking the police. I want young men to stand and offer me their seat on a bus or hold the door for me. I like to hear “please” and “thank you”. And I really like it when you add a “ma’m” in there with it.

No I am not PC. But I am sick and tired of the lazy, entitled attitude of many today. I will give respect and ask for it in return. But just because you want soothing and won’t be bothered to earn it does  not give you the right impinge on my freedoms.

And why are Americans tolerating the dismantlement  of our country. Why is my Tide detergent bottle also in Spanish. And why do I have to push any button to hear English? This is America. We used to be a melting pot.

What happened? We began to capitulate and compromise and become afraid. I’m tired of it…

This weekend, I celebrate American heroes. I celebrate the American dream and way of life. I celebrate her great people.

Let’s celebrate before we no longer have our freedoms.

 

I am doing an article about forgiveness…I would like to enlist your help.

So often people say we must forgive ourselves? What does that mean? How can we do it? What does it look like? Do we have the right to do it?

Can you share with me about an experience you have had forgiving yourself – or the difficulty you faced trying? Did it work? Why or what not?

These seem like a lot of questions…I hope you will consider them and share your thoughts.  It is a real question of so many an die need to ferret out a solid answer. It will be most helpful…

Thank you in advance.

 

I was in the car a long time this weekend driving to and from New Jersey to speak at a dinner for The Atlantic Christian School. (Great school with a big vision.) My CD was playing worship songs and one had these words:

When I look into Your holiness
When I gaze into Your loveliness
Your loveliness
When all things that surround become shadows
In the light of You
In the light of You

I began to think about “loveliness”. How do we define that? Can we define it? Is it ethereal?

Do we use the term “lovely” when it comes to a man? Not usually. I admit and I think most of us of Jesus as male since that is how He appeared in the Gospels. He was manifested in a male body – as a baby he was circumcised according to Jewish law for a male child. He hung around a group of fishermen and was addressed as a man by those He encountered.

In some circles, that may be a problem – it isn’t for me. I am not a feminist who cringes at masculine language in the scripture. Nor will I ague with those who want gender-neutral wording of scripture. I have bigger issues to think and argue about. I have had some wonderful, honorable men in my life who also showed tenderness and love. However, I wouldn’t describe them as “lovely”. I tried to think of a man I would describe as “lovely”.

Loveliness seems to be a feminine quality. What do we describe as lovely? A beautiful view. A dress. A meal. A room. An event. An experience. A dance. A car. A trip. So how is Jesus “lovely”?

The definition of lovely is, “having a beauty that appeals to the heart or mind as well as to the eye; charmingly or gracefully beautiful; highly pleasing; delightful; of a great moral or spiritual beauty.” So by that definition, “lovely” is much more than “beauty”. It is not just something that can be seen, it is something deeper that encompasses character. Nobility and honor are lovely.

Perhaps we can say someone/something is lovely when they are fulfilling God’s purpose for them/it – they are moving with the flow of God’s Spirit. They are not at odds with God’s purpose. They are not angry or pushy. They are comfortable in their own skin. I think we “know” when we are in the presence of loveliness.

I do not know him, but the Pope seems to be a lovely man. And I am sure he must be but perhaps if I really knew him I wouldn’t think that. Loveliness has to be consistent with one’s behavior and attitudes. The inside has to match the outside, and the outside has to match the inside. (And from all I can tell the Pope is exactly  that way!) I knew a man once who was handsome to look at, talented, great personality, well-liked in the community, full of good deeds and loads of fun. But – and it is a critical “but” – he had a secret life and was rotten on the inside, rotten to the core. Eventually, he was unmasked. It was very sad.

One can have a beautiful form and face, a beautiful voice but if the character is mean-spirited, self-centered,  you would not say they are lovely. One can be ugly in form and face but if their spirit is generous and kind you would say they are lovely. My mother used to have a friend whose face looked like that of a frog. She had  a wonderful sense of humor, had a lively intellect,  was caring, never self-centered and always generous with her time and affection. I saw her as lovely.

Remember God said He doesn’t look on the outward appearance but He looks at the heart. We tend to get it backward. How much time do we spend dressing up the outside to present to the public but not early the same time and discipline on the inside. We short-change the inner beauty routine of prayer  and meditation.

May we all live as those who know our beauty lives on the inside and as we develop a lovely character it will manifest itself on the outside. My Mother used to say, “a woman cannot help it if she is not beautiful when she is 21 but if she is not beautiful by 40, it’s her fault.” That is true for all of us. I said I had a hard time thinking of a lovely man but actually I believe my Father is a lovely man. Many would agree with me. He has a gentle, gracious spirit reflecting the hours he spends in God’s Presence. Perfect? no. But lovely all the same.

I know I need to spend less time on the outward appearance and more time on my inner self – to become a better picture of Jesus’ loveliness. How ’bout you?

 

 

I have been away because my computer died. As in DEAD. NADA. GONE. So discouraging and so aggravating. Now I am trying to learn a new computer and the one program I used the most changed! I am frustrated with the changes! I don’t have time to “play” with it turn learn but if I don’t, it will only be more frustrating!

But I’ll get there – eventually.

I can get really discouraged when I try to lend something new and can’t seem to put all the necessary prices in the correct order. Or when I struggle to break a bad habit and fail more often than I succeed.  Or when I am trying to establish a new, good habit and keep falling back into old ways! Or when I make the same mistake again!  Or react in a way that caused more damage. I a sure you know the feeling!

I usually beat myself up with negative self-talk using words like “idiot”, “stupid”.  Or have thoughts like “Why did you do it that way?”, “Look what you’ve done now.”, “You’ll never get it right.” Or compare myself to someone who is proficient – that just makes me want to quit!

Negative self-talk is self-destructive.  But we all do it. We compare ourselves to others and it’s usually not in a favorable way. A couple of years ago my church group had dance lessons. I always wanted to dance but never had the opportunity – it was frowned upon. I thought this would be a great chance to learn with friends. Oh how I tried! Finally the dance instructor took over from my partner to see if he could help. After about 15 minutes of working with me he said,”Why don’t you just go and sit down!” It looks like such fun.The dictionary defines “perseverance” as, “steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement.” Tenacity comes to mind.

It reminds me of a silly song Frank Sinatra sang about the ant and a rubber tree plant. Maybe you remember it!

“Next time you’re found

 
With your chin on the ground
There’s a lot to be learned
So look around

Just what makes that little old ant
Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can’t
Move a rubber tree plant

But he’s got high hopes
He’s got high hopes
He’s got high apple pie
In the sky hopes

So any time you’re gettin’ low
‘Stead of lettin’ go, just remember that ant

Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant
Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant”

That is, indeed, silly but the point is made not to give up – even if the task seems impossible. I am still tempted to take private dance lessons… it looks like such fun! However, I have no sense of rhythm – none – zip! But scripture encourages us “not to be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall keep, if we faint not.” Keep on keeping on.