Two wrongs don’t make a Right

Recently, I was talking with my sister in law on the phone. While we were talking, the clock was ticking along and I needed to leave to pick up my kids from school. I kept her on speaker phone, holding it on my lap, while I was driving (1st wrong) and continued on my merry way down the road as we finished up our conversation. While stopped at a red light, I was in the right lane which eventually turns into a merge lane, where I need to merge left. I merged, and accidentally cut in front of another driver (2nd wrong). He honked at me and I was flustered, realizing I had merged sooner than I needed to and cut him off. Thankfully he did not rear-end me, and I didn’t cause anymore problems…

Amber kept talking to me, and as I listened to her on the speaker phone, I watched as the driver I had just accidentally cut off was driving behind me, along with the other vehicles down this (now) one lane road, like ducks in a row. I kept my eyes on the road, and a few moments later watched as he jerked over into the middle dividing lane, sped up and cut right in between myself and the car in front of me, slamming on his brakes (3rd wrong). This now causing me to react – slamming on my breaks, watching between him in front of me, and in my rear view mirror to see how the driver behind me is reacting… I’m praying “Please stop and don’t ram into me” and at the same time thinking, “This guy is now cutting in front of me, trying to ‘teach me a lesson’.” Geez. OK dude, “lesson learned” Thanks for this teachable moment. But no, there’s more to this story…

Now I was fully stopped, and the car behind me stopped just short of hitting me, and in a matter of seconds, I realized what what fully happening as we are all stopped in the middle of the road and all stopping the flow of traffic. The guy I had previously accidentally cut off parks his car, in the middle of the road (4th wrong) jumps out of his car, angry coming towards me (my windows are down) looks at me and yells ” YOU JUST CUT ME OFF BECAUSE YOU’RE ON YOUR PHONE!! GET OFF YOUR DAMN PHONE AND PAY ATTENTION!!!” thru which I feebly mumbled a reply, “I’m sorry… it was an accident…” btw, He doesn’t accept or even hear my apology, then stomps off, jumps back in his car and drives off.

I’m in shock… and start driving again. With or without the speaker phone in my lap, I could have easily made this mistake. I am a good driver. Thankfully, I’ve never been in an accident that I caused. I have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, side-swiped by a truck which was being chased by the police. I have been side swiped by a car who ran a stop sign. I have hydroplaned my own car in the rain, landing myself on the side of the road. And I have seen terrible accidents happen right before my eyes, that I barely avoided… Thankfully, I have not been a dangerous driver or been the victim of a dangerous driver.

Although I was in shock after this man yelled at me, I calmed down and my heart turned to ask God, what can I learn from this? I have been a person who lives with rage. I have thrown my fair share of fits and temper tantrums. I understand rage. I have lived with reactions of rage and my anger has caused many problems, but spewing my anger on another person has never solved anything. Thankfully, I have experienced a ton of freedom from anger and God has re-directed the passionate feelings He created me with. From anger, bitterness and depression to FIRE, JUSTICE AND PASSION.

The moral to this story is “two wrongs (or more) don’t make a right”. What I did was wrong and what he did was wrong. But which was MORE wrong? It’s tempting to choose which of the 2 wrongs are the “lesser evil” ? Or which of the 2 wrongs are less wrong? It’s tempting to recognize my own wrongs as “lesser wrongs” and blame this man for upsetting me, yelling at me, cutting me off and almost causing an accident. But blaming never solves anything. 

This man obviously has passion. He was passionate about my cutting him off and I believe he wanted to ‘teach me a lesson’. I’m guessing – just an educated guess – he might experience and live with rage or anger issues, since that was his reaction. I’m praying for this man. That his anger would be turned to passion for true justice, and not just road rage. I’m praying my own reaction to this experience and future situations would be forgiveness and grace. Not holding on to blame and anger.

Which brings me to the upcoming election….. YIPEE!!! I have not been watching much of the banter and blame exchanged between the 2 lovely choices we have as Presidential candidates. I have only watched a small portion of the wonderful exchanges we Americans call “debates”. We’ve been too busy watching “Leave it To Beaver”. We’ve been learning a lot from how the Cleaver family solves their problems.

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You know what? No matter who is elected, they won’t be able to “Make it all right again”. They just won’t. Only JESUS can do that. Whether you believe God can save us or not, He is the only One who can. And will. He is the ultimate ruler and governor over this earth, regardless of who we Americans elect into the oval office. This is a truth that roots my heart to be still and trust.

Christ followers, have we prayed? We do need to educate ourselves about government policies and issues before we vote. And we have a responsiblity to pray. Pray for our current administration. Pray for our future President. Pray for all of our elected leaders. Pray they will be able to work across party lines. Miracles can happen! Government needs to take responsibility for their own actions, but will they? I’m going to pray it will happen, but I’m not going to wait on that to happen. We as citizens are the ones who have contributed to the problems we experience in our nation, by our own choices. We need to take responsibility for our individual choices and quit blaming everything on the president… or the devil for that matter (although he is real and does exist to kill, steal, destroy and cause confusion).

Regardless of who becomes our next President, the truth is this –  Jesus will still be on the throne, at the right hand of God interceding for us. On Tuesday, November 8th, we will have a choice in how we respond. Will we respond in rage or walk in freedom? When we make mistakes or encounter others, their wrongs and our own wrongs, we have a choice. And we are responsible for our own choices. We need to walk in forgiveness whether it’s accepted or rejected. As cheesy as it sounds – We need to give space for grace with one another. And we need to Pray. Only then will we walk in true freedom as souls, and as citizens.

Thank you for reading. In Him, LRB

 

Gorilla Parenting… (and our obsession with social media debates)

Last week, like so many others, I learned from social media most people are parenting experts… gorilla experts… or experts at parenting gorillas.

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My 6th grader learned about Harambe and the 3 year old boy who fell into his enclosure, during one of her classes. Her brilliant teacher used the situation as a teaching moment, to set off discussion and debate. They watched a video, dialogued and shared opinions, and analyzed different angles of the situation, as all thoughtful 6th graders do.

That afternoon, she came home and we began to discuss. I had also watched a brief video of Harambe with the toddler. Our discussion continued and I reminded my kids… one version, one person, one angle never tells the whole story. Her main question was the thoughtful and reasonable question many have had – could Harambe have been tranquilized instead of killed? Was there a better way the situation could have been handled?

So. I gave my kids a few thoughtful ideas. A few of my briefly-perfect-parent / turned briefly-gorilla-expert opinions…

As a genuine disclaimer, I haven’t spent any time with gorillas at zoos, or in the wild recently… I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I do imagine, as many believe – gorillas display behavior, much like humans… we can not be sure what they will do when they are agitated or people are yelling around them? OR if they are shot by a tranquilizer… there is no guarantee they might not react uncontrollably and possibly freak out!?

The tranquilizer could have agitated Harambe – and when I am agitated I usually lose my mind. I don’t have a lot of patience when people are yelling around me, and I don’t think I’d handle stress any better if I had a been shot with a tranquilizer.

I have parented 3 monkeys for 12 years… When my kids are fighting they can lose their ability to act rationally within seconds. One minute they’ll be playing as best friends and the next minute, they lose their minds and start hitting one other.

It has been nearly 2 weeks since the death of Harambe and in my mind, one question is still ringing — Why did this story cause such national outrage and reaction? As with many questions, there are deeper questions to be answered…

Does your Cincinnati Zoo membership still have value …?  

And then there are the “What if?” questions… these cause the cycle of debate to go around and around…

What if… The parents were hoping their kid fell into the gorilla enclosure for attention. That’s sick, but okay. The parents need to talk to Jesus about that and find attention in healthier ways…

What if… The boy died or been seriously injured at the hands of Harambe? The zoo likely would have put Harambe to sleep.

What if… The zoo shot Harambe out to simply avoid being sued by the little boys parents?

What if… The zoo has had it out for Harambe and they were just waiting for their opportunity to take him out. Yep. That’s probably it.

What if… The zoo WANTED to kill one of their animals, which attracts VISITORS to their ZOO in order to see and make MONEY. Yes. This makes sense to me.

What if… Many are upset because they loathe zoos to begin with? They are not my favoirite spot to drag my kids to either, but my kids love animals. So as a loving parent, I buy the obligatory-yearly zoo membership.

Or. What if… the outcome would have been a Daniel in the Lions den turned ‘Toddler in the Gorilla enclosure’ miracle. That would have been amazing!

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But these “What Ifs” don’t change anything. They keep us in the cycle of social media debate – myself included!

While it is a wonderful and marvelous world where we can share opinions and feelings on everything from gorillas, to parenting, to boycotting zoos and boycotting parents… accidents happen everyday. Decisions we make everyday as perfect parents and perfect gorilla experts affect those around us. We have to live with these decisions.

The ideal outcome would have been all lives saved. This goes back to the VALUE of LIFE ~ Human vs Animal life… The debate is now which LIFE has more value? #silverbacklivesmatter #toddlerlivesmatter…  the debate is now over these two and which life matters more. All life is valuable. Although it is sad Harambe was killed in this situation, a national debate was not needed. There are many other lives needing our protection and our attention, and many other unjust situations occurring right now across our nation, we could be spending time fighting for.

So while some are crying “Justice for Harambe!” or “Justice for better parenting!”, we are distracted by the debate. Let me know when your child falls into a gorilla pit because you weren’t watching or they were being curious. Let me know how that goes while you “wait and see” what might happen. Hopefully ALL lives are spared. Until then – peace out. Let’s let Jack Hannah -and the other zoo experts can handle the “little kids falling into Gorilla enclosure situations”.

Yes. RIP Harambe. Also. RIP our opinions… our inability to control… RIP our social media cycles of debate and distraction. There is a real world in need of our undivided attention. 

 

 

Worship and Worry ~ A Tale of Two Sisters

Worship and Worry ~ A Tale of Two Sisters. Luke chapter 10:38-42  ~ The tale of Mary and Martha. One sister, Martha invited Jesus to her house. Yet, she is worried, distracted by many things.  Frustrated she has no help getting the meal ready, angry her sister Mary is doing ‘nothing’… Yet she is doing something… she is doing the one thing that matters. Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to His teaching.

If I could walk in the sandals of these two women, I can see myself in both of them. I am not easily caught up in housework and fuss. I can easily let go of the daily tasks, to-do-lists and leave the house-mess. But. I am still easily caught up in the net of worry. I am distracted by many things. I might not be actively avoiding tasks for the sake of time with Jesus, but I am actively accomplishing much worry.

I am sitting at the feet of Jesus, yet immersed in worry while I’m there. I am actively sitting at His feet, but worry is looming while my soul is longing to be engaged. I am distracted by the many things I am not accomplishing while I am longing to hear the heartbeat of Jesus. This is not where Jesus wants me to be.

“It’s impossible to worship and to worry at the same time.”

I sang this phrase in worship over our church a while ago. This Truth saturated the room thru a lyric He stirred in my heart. I can not be fully in the presence of God, in worship, and worry at the same time. I must choose. 

I know the truth of both Mary and Martha. I have experienced both. I have been overcome by His presence, fully engaged in worship while doing the dishes and cleaning toilets. And I been embraced by His arms, settled in His love, simply Being with Him and doing nothing else. 

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Today I was given a gift of opportunity. I went running. walking. strutting… whatever you want to call it… huffing and puffing… I slow down. I see. She’s standing there. Beside her car, cigarette in one hand. Leaning back against the passenger door. I hear three words: Abused, hungry, rejected. “Hi” I greet her. She responds with a “hello” as well. This was a moment. God was opening a door to show His love to her. But I walk on…  I’m in a hurry. I am distracted by many things. I need to finish my run, walk, putter… I only have a set amount of time before I must be home. Before I need to pick up the kids from school. Pay the bills. Finish the chores… my mind is spinning.

I keep walking, 1 minute passes, maybe even less. Damn you, Time! And the lie I believe there is a lack of it. I turn around. Screw time restraints. Forget the rest of my putter… I stop. I turn back. I missed it! She’s gone. She’s driving away.

I won’t miss this gift again. I long to be in a routine of worship. I wrongly believed I was. It changed oh so subtly. I have been in a routine of worry. In worry I miss worship. In worry I miss Jesus. In worry I miss the gift to show His love. In worry I miss His presence. In one minute I missed her. 

God still loves me. This is not a beat myself over the head, I suck at following Jesus moment to bemoan and drive me into despair. This is a moment to listen. To learn. To sit at the feet of Jesus. In worship there is never a lack of time. In His presence, He fuels all that we need. In distraction and worry, everything can be stolen. This is a moment of repentance, humility and growth. I am learning ~ I never want to miss the One Thing again.

This is a moment to share. If this encourages you, pass it on! I am thankful for your reading.

In Him, Leslie

I’m no longer a slave to fear… I am a child of God

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Worship broke out in an incredible way on Sunday… Spontaneous songs from the hearts of our people rose up to heaven and touched God’s ears. A month ago, I sang over our church a phrase the Lord spoke to my spirit… “This is the day, You have marked us with a new sound”. Sounds have been stirring, waiting for their time of release. Sunday was that day… and this is my feeble attempt to share the beauty of what we experienced.

We sang “King of My Heart“, “Where I Belong“, and “Great are You Lord” …”It’s Your breath in our lungs as we pour out our praise, we pour out our praise…” Our praise was literally POURED OUT in a tangible way! Voices filled up the room. We waited in a space of silence. To some it possibly felt like an eternity. Honestly, it can hardly be explained… yet the words sprang forth… spontaneous worship from myself and co-worship leader and the congregation… God began to stir up phrases in our hearts and minds…

<<<SPACE>>>

We settled into space. We settled into a time where the music volume was minor and the presence of God enveloped our space… we waited… I sang “I won’t let the rocks cry out in my place. I will worship… if God is giving you a song, sing it out.” we waited… Sounds of humming and soft singing swept across the room…

We tasted the goodness of God {Psalm 34:8}

When I’m leading worship, at times I look out in the audience and ‘check’ how people are responding. Are they connected? Or… My eyes are closed. Tight… this can’t be right. Am I connected? I have to see… Is anyone freaking out about the space? the spontaneous? the physical expression of worship happening across the room? …I sneak a peek. I squeeze one eye open 😉 not really. I open my eyes for a moment. Only to shut them again. Eyes open or closed, I am connected. To My Father.

Then we sang “No Longer Slaves” “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a CHILD OF GOD”. Whoa. I shouted. I danced. I proclaimed this TRUTH over myself and over our church! I am a child of God. We are children of God! I was worshipping with everything in me. I can only imagine what it looked like for David in 2 Samuel 6:14, but I can picture myself in his good company, as he danced before the Lord with all his might.

He’s inviting you to dance… May we pursue the presence of living God as we worship, and may we be willing to fall into His loving arms and dance with Him. You are a child of God. He loves you.

In Him, Leslie

*Thoughts, comments, prayer requests? I would love to hear from you! And feel free to share our stories at halfwrittenrecords.com

The Ghost of Christmas Past

It happened. AGAIN. The Ghost of Christmas Past came back to haunt me. AGAIN. Stress… turned into Sickness… turned into Frustration… turned into Anger… turned into Despair. They were all present, wrapped up in the middle of my living room on Christmas day… Uninvited, by the way. But they were settled in my heart, locked in to my thoughts and exposed in my actions. Sure. I told myself — (hashtag) ###ChooseJOY. Yea, right. It doesn’t work like that. I’d had the wind knocked out of me and #Joy was nowhere to be found… or chosen. I was so pissed. Another holiday ruined. The Ghost of Christmas past haunting me again. I could not #wish for my holidays to be merry and bright, more than I could hope for santas’ fat ass to come down our chimney. I try and ###ChooseJOY every year. And every year seems like something f*cks it all up. Sorry. Not sorry. These were my real. raw. transparent. truthful feelings. #Exposed.

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Thankfully, Christmas morning was lovely. Coffee and waffles, warmth and cuddles. Although I blew my nose most of the way thru the kids opening their gifts, it was wonderful. I took a few pictures, capturing moments of #happiness. We skyped with family far away, blowing kisses at the screen and sharing digital hugs. As we cleaned up from ‘Christmas’, and the mountains of kleenex I had made, the walls began to close in again and I had a feeling the Ghost of Christmas past might make a visit. #Seriously, can I make it thru one Christmas without some kind of a meltdown?! Yet that is exactly what I needed. An honest with God, good old fashion meltdown. The Ghost of Christmas past drove me to my knees and to prayer. I was at my own end and in the most vulnerable place I could be. #blessed. That last hashtag was #sarcasm. sorry, couldn’t help myself. #Truth.

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#Seriously. Enough with the hashtags. On with the story. After dinner, I unraveled. I went into my room… and bawled like a baby. I wept thru my emotions and laid my feelings out before Him. God spoke gently to my soul. There was no guilt or shame for my ridiculous actions. No ‘I-told-you-so’, ‘get over yo-sorry-self’ or judgement of my reasons for unravelling. He is a good good Father, full of kindness, mercy and patience for His daughter.

He whispered one word. Grace. 

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In a moment with tears spilled out, with honesty of heart, with one word, He spoke Grace over me. Grace over my feelings, Grace over my thoughts, Grace over my actions. Grace over my family. Grace over our Christmas.

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The Ghost was gone because Grace took its place. Our Christmas was redeemed. We enjoyed the rest of the evening and a renewing hike the next day. We can honestly say we had a MERRY CHRISTMAS. Gifts are being enjoyed, memories are being treasured, and the kids are loving fighting over their new bean bag chairs.

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Before the brawl broke out…

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Selah enjoying popping bubbles, mostly

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Thanks for reading friends 🙂 I know I’m not the only one who has been visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past. So fess up and feel free to share your stories. If you need Grace, there is an overflow awaiting you… God is always giving His gifts, even after the holidays 🙂 The end, for now… I’d love to hear from you!

In Him, Leslie

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