I have a friend who told me of a book she was reading recently.  It was written by a minister who was trying to work on his judgmental thinking.  You know those moments when we think harsh things of someone; maybe we've had a negative experience with a person, or maybe we've just "judged them by their cover" so to speak.  This minister LOVED ice cream sundaes.  So, he made a bargain with himself.  This man wanted to free himself of the chain of thinking less of; or harshly of people.  His bargain was for every day he did not judge another person he would reward himself with an ice cream sundae.  At first he was so excited to know he would be eating his way through many ice cream sundaes...oh the joy!  And, all the while he would be helping himself be free of judgments or harsh thoughts towards others.  At the writing of his book he reported that it had been two years since he had enjoyed an ice cream sundae.  It's tough folks!

Yes, we ALL have judged another person.  I'm convinced it is one of those regrettable human conditions.  I've done it; thought harshly of someone; judged someone.  I DO it from time to time.  I'm not proud of that behavior, so I've spent a lot of time recently in my head, on my knees to God, and have been actively working on ridding myself from that kind of thinking.  It is HARD sometimes!  It happens often without even realization that I've done it. I don't WANT to be burdened with a judgmental heart.  Even when I have been wronged.  It is not only damaging to my ability to truly be a servant of God, but it also keeps me from creative thought; which is paramount for an artist!  Judgment  fills space in our hearts with negative thoughts that could be best spent on good and Godly things. Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things"

LOFTY:  Of imposing height.  Elevated in character, exalted. Affecting grandness; pompous.  Arrogant; haughty...

Come on folks; we are all in this life thing together.  We should be trying to help each other through the trials and tribulations of life.  Can you imagine being stranded on an island with a group of people and NOT wanting to work together to get back to the mainland?? Our goal as Christians is to live as God asked and to bring as many people as we can with us to heaven!  We can never NEVER help another person from a lofty place.  To be there for someone who has struggled in life the answer is to crawl down to whatever lonely place they might find themselves in and lift together from a sincere love in your heart.  Jesus did that for us in the most incredible way.  HE DIED on a cross; a horrible, cruel death...full of pain and taunts from those at his feet who were looking at Him from their lofty places.  Read the accounts at the end of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John...or if you are more visual watch "The Passion" reminded of the torture our Lord faced FOR US.  THAT is the example.  And I am shamed for failing my Lord when I sat from a lofty place above someone who may have needed my love so much.  I am grieved that I ever let another human down when they were struggling with life in some way.

 I'm not preaching to anyone from a lofty place; I'm begging others to understand how we can come across when we sound harsh or judgmental; when we sometimes think we are better than others because...oh, I don't know...because we made good choices in life...or we go to church all the time...or we have a feeling of safety in life and don't like dealing with those who have struggled and may be living consequences of choices that might not have been so productive.

I've been in some pretty low places in my life.  I live consequences of some of my choices that may not have been productive.  I also am a product of consequences from life.  I made a choice to feed my children instead of paying school loans I had incurred. I had to get deferment after deferment.  For a single mom who loved her children and needed to get a degree to support them, there were years when they were growing up when I had to choose between paying or feeding my little ones.  As life went on and jobs were difficult to come by, or I lost a job, I could not pay them for a time.  As a result my consequence is school loans so huge I will NEVER pay them off.  I am getting too old.  My old age will be spent with loans hanging over my head.  My life will never be free of debt.  There have been people who judged me for being "irresponsible".  It hurt me.  It didn't encourage me in any way.  It wasn't true.  Their judgments were unfounded and placed on me from their lofty place of wealth and a feeling of being better than because their lives were different.

In the reverse, I've also encountered people who loved me as I was.  People who spent their time with me brainstorming possibilities, giving me phone numbers of people who do things that I might be able to do, helping me with ideas.  There have been people who built me up by naming the qualities in me that they admired.  People who prayed for me and with me in my search for a way to pay those crazy loans.  I ask you, which group do you think were doing what God asked of His children?

Yes, getting down in the trenches with someone who is hurting and struggling is the way that God asked us to be.  It is His example.  It is the best way for us all to have our reward when we are all together again one day; where there will be only equality.

PS.  If reading these words makes you angry, re-read the part about the minister and the ice cream sundae's, or read how Jesus died and place your child on that cross..  It is a hard thing to humble yourself TO yourself.  We all have judged, we all have had our lofty moments, so no one is exempt.  Just some of us have struggled with it longer, and have come to the place where we see the damage, and we want to get in those trenches with someone who may need us down there.  I've been carried on someone's back before, and I want to be one who will carry someone on my back.



My father is dying. It has been a long journey in this passage for he and my mother. It has been a long journey for all of us who love him.  I have struggled with many emotions as I have been living this with all of my family and those who love us.  They have ranged from confusion to sadness to anger to fear to feeling guilty at any small feeling I might have...all the while working my way to acceptance and hopefully peace.  I am not there yet, but I have faith that I WILL get there.

I most often go to John 14:1-4 "Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN AND WILL TAKE YOU TO MYSELF, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going"

This whole thing gives me comfort...The WAY spoken of here is to live as God has asked us to live...and to DO what God has asked us to do! We aren't going to be alone at all in death!!  Jesus will be right there...We as CHRISTIANS have a place right near Him!...THAT is my favorite passage for this thing we are going through...

These pathways, this journey has, for me, has my mind moving at breakneck speed sometimes.  Trying to understand facts, trying to give comfort to those in distress about it, trying to find comfort for myself if even for a moment through other activities, through sleep...but for me I wake every day with a heaviness of heart as we are still walking the steps of waiting and knowing the struggles of passing from life to going HOME. For me that has become my daily routine while I wait to hear that he has gone home.  I'm noticing my tears come more quickly and easily...not because I fear for him to go home, but because I want him to go home to have that perfect body free of this life and all that it has become for him, and I am HATING that he is stuck here in his struggles to move from this imperfect body to a perfect one. 

Last year I was waiting for the call about the birth of my first precious grandchild.  That waiting was exciting and happy, and a little nerve wracking as I always worried I wouldn't get there in time; worried that my daughter would need me and I wasn't there...but, mostly excitement. When I got THAT call (in the middle of the night as seems it always is), I stumbled around my room trying to get myself dressed and on the road to make that 9+ hour drive to her, and I was so I went, taking photos of everything as I wanted to remember the weather, the sky, the clouds on my journey to meet our new little someone.  A good day!  And OH, he is a joy, just hearing his little sounds as he plays with his mamma and seeing funny sweet photos of him give my heart a sense of joy...he truly has helped in this tough time for us...a new life of sweetness and exploration...I love him so much!

This year I am waiting for a call to come to put my father's earthly body to rest and learn to live a life here without him  in it.  I am aware of the stages of grief, and I am sure as we make that 11 hour drive to my mom and the family that I will be very aware of each one...what I am feeling, what I think will be next...grief that I will miss him here on this earth, and gladness that he has gone home before us (just like a dad to pave the way for his family), sadness that my mom has a new existence without him and she will miss him, knowledge that we all will be in this place one day, so desire to understand what is normal to be and do and feel...for me it has always been so, to try to learn from what I see those ahead of me going through...always learning and seeing and trying to understand.

Time is marching on, and I'm trying not to get in the way of it...trying to do and be what I need to for whomever may need whatever...whew...But in this crazy time I want to stop, I wish we could ALL stop and think about what is truly important in life...what is really the end game for all of us...I want everyone to be aware that EACH person has a right to grieve the way THEY GRIEVE, to not judge someone's life or not feel anger that others don't do things the way they do...There is no judgment here...there is no place for it here...there should only be love and gentleness and support for each I wish it!

BUT, we all fail in the imperfect parts of life...we try, and we struggle, and sometimes we all say or do things we regret...What I've learned is that each person's pathway in life has its imperfections, has its sin, has its mistakes...NO ONE is without it...PLEASE be gentle in your thinking of one another, PLEASE understand we all try our best and sometimes find ourselves in places we wish we weren't in...and we struggle, and we cry out in our own ways...and we need things we may have passed by without understanding we need them...PLEASE BE GENTLE IN YOUR HEARTS for one another...because in the end the ONLY thing that matters is that in our hearts we tried to be right and do right...PLEASE be gentle in your thinking of someone who may have fallen by the side...PICK THEM UP like the good Samaritan did...LEAVE that kindness on the heart of one who struggles.  Life is short my one is immune to one is immune to mistakes and failure and sorrow and regret...We are all in this life together, and our goal should be to stay connected so we can help each other go gently toward heaven!

So, for a Christian, death is merely the passage from this life (where we are not meant to stay) John 15:19 "The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I CHOSE you to come out of the world, so it hates you" Going HOME is our goal as Christians. We are to be happy for those faithful Christians who have gone home for their reward.  That should be the goal for everyone..But, while in this place of waiting and reflecting, be gentle with one another as grief is personal and every ONE has a right to go through it feeling secure that their way is ok

and finally...for Ephesians 4:32 "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."  As we travel this together...remember we all need this of each other!



This post is going to be in defense of the audience at church.  How many sermons have you been in attendance at where the speaker/preacher goes on a bit or a LOT, or jokes about how people aren't listening or about how they should be happy to be there when he goes over, or how they are sleeping, texting, talking, etc during the sermon and how bad that is??  Well, I have a few things to say on the matter...(I feel a little like that kooky lady on Saturday Night Live that used to prattle on about a subject only to find out she had it a little wrong) (but, hang on a minute!!) :) (cuz I think the apple falls on both sides a little)

Recently I was in attendance at a church service where we had a visiting preacher.  He was a missionary.  He began his "sermon" by joking about how he was going to speak for 3 1/2 hours...and how if ANYONE got up and started to leave he was going to stop and ask them publicly why they were leaving...he sort of joked about it for a little bit. OK, I KNEW he was joking (Well, I THINK he was joking)...but it made me a little nervous about getting up and leaving for ANY reason; whether it was to go to the bathroom or get a drink, or find a pen...Yep, I'm one of those who have always felt I had to do what the person in authority was telling me to do...STILL...on occasion.  And, NO, he didn't go on for 3 1/2 hours, but I was a little nervous that he would go on for awhile...Was I a bad audience person because I didn't feel like sitting still for 3 1/2 hours and listening to his sermon?...hmmm...

SO, fast forward to another Sunday.  On THIS particular day we happened to have another visiting preacher; a young "ish" man going to our local preacher's school...I had some company with was Mother's Day.  The sermon begins and everything is goes on...and still we are gets a little confusing...a little repetition (understand...he's learning)...ok...still with him...and then it begins to go little person with us was getting fussy...needing to mother is home alone with my very ill father and is waiting for a call...I'm getting to the point where I'm concerned about things in life that need my immediate or soon attention...and still he goes on...the tension was mounting in me...I could FEEL the pressure of the day smothering me...needing me to do something...until I feel captured...and in need of, what crazy thing do I do...I mouth the words "Hurry Up"...OH NO!!!  What did I just DO???  What made it worse was the preacher was looking at me at JUST THAT MOMENT!!  Ouch!!  I felt horrified that I had done that...horrified that he SAW it...and THEN...he stopped...and said "I'm sorry, I just saw someone in the audience just mouth the words "hurry up" and it threw me off"...and then he went on with his sermon...I felt SO bad...but STILL so under pressure to take care of my family and company with their immediate needs.  After the sermon was over we hopped up and were on our way out so the baby could eat and we could call my mother...and I felt someone grab my arm...Yep, it was the preacher who stopped me...He said "That was very discouraging"...and I apologized...I went on to explain that my father is dying, the baby needed to eat and my mom was alone on Mother's Day waiting for a call and I just snapped...I told him I was so sorry...something I had planned to do as soon as I took care of my little baby company and my soon as I could find him...but, he was there, so I did it then...and then we ran on out...

These events got me to thinking about things...YES, it was SO RUDE of me to have mouthed the words "Hurry Up" to a learning preacher...SO RUDE!!...It was...well, I can't say it enough...SO RUDE!!...however...I've been wondering since then about the times we have been chastised in church for not wanting to sit there for EVER to hear a long sermon...about the times we have been embarrassed in public for this or that (remember the post about the preacher answering my phone during a sermon?).  Does it make me a bad christian...does it make me love God less...?  I say no!!  It makes me a person living in the world with life happening, and death happening, and babies who don't know any better needing makes me HUMAN...yes, I'm going to say it...HUMAN!  Just like the preachers who have a job to do to preach the word and help us along the path to understanding...I have a job to do in life.

I have read that the normal attention span of an adult is 20 minutes.  OK...I've read reports from studies that teach a presenter to build their programs in 20 minute increments.  Give the audience a break, change the activity...IF you want your audience to stay with you. I am a school teacher and I remember classes on just this subject.  For kids it is 10 minutes...but the point is the same...change it up if you want to keep your audience's attention.  That is a study...a fact of life...part of the HUMAN condition.

The early church often met in homes and it could be a long event...BUT, it was scattered with singing, praying, eating...and hearing the word.  It was the way it was done then...partly as people walked a bit to get there I would assume...partly because of the times...eating together...activities around the hearing of the word...Even Jesus fed the 5,000 as they were hungry...OK...that is what they is an example...AND, in the church we attend...we sing, we pray...we sometimes eat together...and there is a sermon that typically doesn't run we are doing that...

I know you've noticed that I haven't included scripture in this commentary.  I could...ok, here's one...I Peter 1:22 "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart"  Does that mean I don't love my brethren if I can't sit still for a couple of hours and listen, or that I don't love my brother who is preaching longer than my attention span?  NO...It doesn't mean he doesn't love me when he goes long either...I just think there should be a respect for our HUMAN condition...on both sides...and be careful when we expect one or the other to comply.  God made us should be ok either way...OK, a weak point I admit, but a point none the less.

I just have a problem with being a captive audience.  I KNOW I could just get up and leave...and I should have that day the preacher went long and my family needed me...but I was also raised not to seem disrespectful...and for me that seems a little I was sort of caught in the middle of my own feelings.  WHEW!

I love God, I DO, I pray constantly, I study to show myself approved, I work for my Heavenly Father in ways where my left hand doesn't know what my right hand is doing Matthew 6:3-4.  I do not forsake the assembly, I love my brethren.  I just can't sit still for long periods of time without loosing my focus...THAT DOESN'T MAKE ME WRONG OR doesn't make anyone WRONG OR BAD.

So, in defense of the audience...we are HUMAN...we LOVE GOD or we wouldn't be there...WE JUST HAVE SCHEDULES and LIVES and RESPONSIBILITIES that encompass our duties as Christians and are part of living a Godly life.  When the church service is scheduled to last from THIS TIME to THAT TIME...we gladly put it in there...but DON'T make us captive audiences and expect that we will glean every intent you had with the spirit you want every time!

PS...I could have written a BUNCH more...included a LOT of references and proof text...but, this was going LONG, and I don't believe in captive audiences...tee hee...