Culture Collision

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“One of the sad characteristics of life on this planet in the 21st century is that we have all gotten more tribal. Under stress, we shrink backward into groups just like us. This is bad news for America’s eternally strained racial environment.

The Black Lives Matter movement cannot imagine why anyone could disagree with them or oppose them. Those who advocate All Lives Matter (or Blue Lives Matter) see their position as more universally moral. Neither side has much empathy for the other, and so the shouting goes on.

Christians have an important role here. We can affirm the unconditional universality of God’s grace. We can teach and live the truth that God wants all to be saved and that all nations and tribes will be represented in the throng around the throne in heaven. We can show the world how to love, respect, and appreciate people not like us for Jesus’ sake.
We can live out the beautiful relationship that took place in a chariot in Gaza along the Mediterranean coast long ago. The evangelist Philip was led to an African government official who was puzzling over a Bible. Philip sat with him and revealed the gospel of Christ to him. The Ethiopian said, ‘Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?’ Philip baptized him, and the African ‘went on his way rejoicing’ (Acts 8:36,39).
Two very different men became brothers that day.”
~You Version Bible App (Reading Plan “Culture Collision”)

There was a time when my world view was very different from what it is today … but then I met Jesus and everything changed. We get disgusted and frustrated with all we see going on in our nation, but these people are only acting and thinking like unregenerate people act and think.

So does that mean that we shouldn’t speak up on social issues?  Of course not!  We can share our opinions in love with those who might disagree — and we can always make our voices heard in the voting booth!  And we can pray!

But, oh, that we would all be like Philip and share the Good News with all those in our circles of influence — and see our adversaries become transformed into brothers/sisters in Christ as God’s Holy Spirit begins to deal with them!

If it can happen to the Apostle Paul, it can happen to anyone!

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Carp Diem

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A little boy whom I had never seen before tapped me on the arm while I stood in line at the market.

“Miss?”

I bent low, giving him my full attention as he inquired with wide-eyed curiosity:

“Do you know Jesus?”

Every cell of my body melted into a puddle!  I wanted to sweep that sweet little boy up and take him home!

He was applying a principle that some of us adults have yet to learn:

Love God and Love People.

Love them enough to risk telling them the Best News Ever!

Little Boy seemed to understand that nothing about our life is small — not even the person next to us in line.

Little Boy seemed to grasp the concept of seizing the moment!

Every day we brush against people in allegorical “checkout lines” —

human souls who might be disheartened, lonely, afraid …

human souls with eternity in their hearts.

What will we do, knowing that?

We may not say exactly what this little boy said to me but maybe, by God’s grace, we would be willing to step out of our cozy comfort zones.

Maybe, by His grace, we would realize that even the most mundane moments are full of possibility, potentiality, and promise.

And maybe, by His grace, we would practice carp diem!

Like Little Boy, we can make a powerful impact in the lives of others …

because the Spirit of Glory indwells us if we are God’s child …

and because people are yearning for love, for peace, for pardon and purpose!

They really are!

So let’s open the floodgates and let Him spill out of us!  Let’s reach out and love large — even if it’s uncomfortable.

Let’s be brave and seize those seemingly meaningless moments.

Let’s make our lives count …

just like that little boy!

He didn’t preach a polished and passionate sermon, but what He did say spoke volumes and turned my day around:

“Miss?  Do you know Jesus?”

 

Menacing Monkeys and Big Bad Bullies (Chapter 2)

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Poochie was his name.  Dad brought him home for a “family” pet.

Poochie hated me.  I hated Poochie.

What’s worse is that I had to go through “Poochie’s Pad” (our back porch) in order to get into my house.  (I don’t remember why, but I wasn’t allowed to go through the front door.)

And Poochie was nothing but a big mean bully!

He had sparkling ivory teeth that flashed at me if I dared to darken his doorstep.  Should I attempt to step past the threshold into my home, a menacing shriek would spew from his snarling rubbery lips and he would pounce upon me with all fours, using his piercing pearly whites on any piece of me that was “biteable.”

Oh, how that carnivorous creature terrified me!

So what does a three-year-old do when she wants a drink of water or has to go to the bathroom (or wants to get away from the mean boy who lives down the street)?

She sits on the steps and cries.

But she doesn’t cry loudly enough for anyone to hear because that would bring on a scourging.

Not a spanking, mind you — a scourging …

multiple lashes with a leather belt that would savagely lick at her skin.

Not a fun prospect.

So I would sit on the steps and wait for my parents to extend the golden scepter and “bid me enter” when they were good and ready.

Dad would then constrain the menacing monkey with gleeful laughter while I would dash through Poochie’s Palace with the speed of light, terror ripping through my soul!

I loathed that animal with all the loathing that was possible for my three-year-old heart!

Granted, Poochie was cruel and wicked, but I don’t know who intimidated me more — the monkey or the boy.

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Georgie was the neighborhood bully who lived down the street.  I don’t recall exactly what he would do to me; I just remember that I dreaded seeing him coming my way.

And so, during that young season of my life, I lived in fear:

Poochie on the inside, Georgie on the outside — with no refuge readily available.

I remember my parents giving me a big stick, ordering me to strike Georgie the next time he approached.

I shuddered at the thought!

I did NOT want to have an altercation with Georgie.

I really didn’t want to hit Georgie with a stick, but I was afraid of the consequence if I defied Dad’s orders.

That put me in a pickle; but, in order to prevent potentially painful repercussions, I reluctantly (and fearfully) opted for standing up to Georgie, even though challenging him went against every single grain in my body!

Sure enough, Georgie eventually came trudging down the street toward me, much like Goliath most surely would have strutted before David the shepherd boy.

This was my chance to daringly defy this belligerent beast of a boy!

(I didn’t know it then, but my mom and dad were hiding behind a bush watching the encounter.)

Feigning courage with a strong, threatening stance, I raised my stick high in the air, ready to …

ATTACK!!!

And then (according to my mom) I choked out these words in a timid tone:

“I won’t hit you hard, Georgie!” much to Mom and Dad’s chagrin!

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That seems to have marked the beginning of what would be my modus operandi for decades to come.

My natural tendency?  Walk a mile around conflict.

Bullies and “mean” people scare me.

I freeze inside and cower like a whipped puppy!  Words literally will not come.

It’s as if my brain goes blank (until well after the fact) and my larynx becomes paralyzed — the “voice box version” of a fainting goat!

(Look up “fainting goat” on YouTube.  You’ll see what I’m talking about, and you’ll probably laugh!)

I completely understand those goats!  It’s easier for me to simply lie down and play dead than to buck a bully.

I don’t want to be that way; but, yet …

I’d ten times rather be the “offendee” than the “offender” — even if it means “offending” a mean person by confronting his conduct.

This pattern of behavior would plague me for decades to come.

(It’s a good thing I seldom encounter people of this ilk!  The people around me are warm and kind, and I have to do my level best to keep up with them!  How blessed I am!)

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Fortunately, this story does have a happy ending.

Oh, I’m still a “fainting goat” with mean people — my voice still freezes and my knees still knock.

But a new kind of Something (or should I say SomeOne?) now surges up within me and compels me to see them differently — much differently — through His eyes!

However, this wouldn’t happen for many years to come …

but I’m getting ahead of the story.

Stay tuned for more …

 

 

Fit as a Fiddle!

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So Warren and I have started exercising with Ann Smith Senior Fitness on Amazon Prime every morning to improve and safeguard our health.

We love it!  But I think I love it more than Warren does because his wit and humor seem to do me as much good as the exercise itself!

Here is an example of our time together this morning.

But first I must offer this disclaimer:

I know it sounds like I’m micro-managing my man, but that is not the case.  (Really, it’s NOT!) 😀

Let’s just say that I simply like to “engage in conversation” whilst in the heat of a workout session!

Besides, what else is there to discuss while a person is fixing to be fit?  One must talk about what one is doing … no???

Before going further, it is also necessary to explain that we exercise in our bedroom. Because of space, Warren is typically standing or sitting on the floor on one side of the bed, while I’m on the other side.

So here is how this morning’s exercise session went:

Me:  Are you remembering to inhale and exhale?

Warren:  (with clenched teeth) Well … I’m breathing … does that count???

Me:  Breaking into uncontrolled laughter.

Later in the routine, we are on the floor doing leg lifts, and I don’t see Warren’s legs popping up from his side of the bed.

Me:  Are you even doing this?

Warren:  (in a very muffled, strained, yet polite voice) I’m trying!!!

Me:  Busting into uncontrolled laughter … again.

(But I must say that I never did see his legs go up!!!)

Later in the routine, we are supposed to be sitting on the floor, back straight, balancing ourselves on our derrières while holding both of our legs in a v-shape in the air.

Me: (bragging just a little because Warren cannot see that I’m nailing it) I’m doing it!  I’m doing it!!!

Warren:  (again in a strained voice) Me, toooooo ………. I’m leaning on the behhhhd!!!

Me:  Exploding into uncontrolled laughter … again!

Instructor, while she has us in a certain position:  Hold on.

Warren:  (half grunting, half chuckling) There’s nothing to hold on TO!!!

Me:  😀 😀 😀 !!!

Instructor:  Touch your hands to your stomach muscles.  Do you feel that?

Warren:  Yeah, I feel the fat rolls!

Me:  😀 😀 😀 !!!

Oh, my goodness!  This serious, sometimes-stoic man I married is known for his faithfulness and integrity, but he is not necessarily known for his witty quips and comical comebacks.

However, some kind of hilarity overtakes him when he is exercising!  I guess what makes it so funny to me is the fact that he’s not trying to be funny; he’s just being Warren and responding to what’s happening in typical Warren-fashion!

I do not relish a workout of any kind.  Not ever!  Not one whit!

In fact, I generally do not even come close to so much as a small chortle while exercising …

… not unless I’m with Warren!

Oh, how I revel in our feeble attempts at fitness in our senior years …

and I would choose to exercise with none other!

 

 

 

I Can’t Write a Book! (Chapter 1)

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I can’t write a book!

I’m so busy *living* my life that there isn’t time to *write* about my life!

For years, people have told me that I should document my experiences in a book.  It’s something I’ve wanted to do … but when???

How do other people do it?  Do they climb into a hole and shut everyone out until the work is complete?

I can’t do that,

so I can’t write a book.

But I CAN write short snippets!  Yes!  That’s doable!

And so here I go with Snippet #1!

My life has been a wild ride, to be sure; but now that I’m in my golden years, I can look back and see God’s hand throughout (though I didn’t always see it at the time)!

My earliest memory is when I was three years old.   I had asked my dad to remove the training wheels on my bike.  He had said no … and I had learned early on to never whine or argue with my dad.  The price was way too heavy!

I don’t know where I mustered the courage to ask him a second time.  I must have waited through a safe interlude and then beseeched him again.  My mom told me that Dad decided to take my training wheels off to “teach me a lesson” and that he had absolutely no intention of ever putting them on again after I would “see that I couldn’t do it.” After all — I was only three!

Were they ever flabberghasted when I hopped on that “training wheelless” bike and rode down the street like a boss the very first try!

I clearly remember seeing my dad’s GLEE as I glided up to him, victoriously!  My little-girl heart did flip-flops seeing that I had pleased my dad!  He was more than pleased!  He was overwhelmed with joy and disbelief!

I had clearly made my daddy proud!

I liked that feeling! Probably a little too much … as it set in motion a pattern of behavior that would plague me the rest of my life.

It is a good memory, though, and I welcome it!

But alas!  There is another memory of that time and place …

one that is not so pleasant.

***

to be continued …

A Better Way

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This is our grandson Isaac … and he is special …

in more ways than one!

The world acknowledges “World Down Syndrome Day” once a year, while we get to realize the specialness of our boy multiple times a year!

When we first learned of Isaac’s condition soon after he was born, it admittedly shook us to the core.  Looking for comfort and counsel, I called one of my friends who had given birth to a child with Down Syndrom years earlier.

Ironically, the first words out of this friend’s mouth were, “CONGRATULATIONS!!!”

CongratuLAtions???  What kind of consolation is THIS???!!!  I wondered.

This was clearly not what I had expected her to say, but her unexpected joviality jolted me to my senses … and I took a second look!

In His wisdom, God was going to take us into a new arena!

Now I get it! This little guy had been given to our family to delight our hearts and to show us how to live!

And that is exactly what this good-natured little boy has done for us!

Isaac has taught us that people with Down Syndrome possess qualities that don’t come naturally for the rest of us:

They believe the best about others … ALWAYS.

They love unconditionally … ALWAYS.

They never say an unkind word about anyone … EVER!

I’ve come to believe that these happy little people “have it down” …

and that there is something wrong with the rest of us!

THAT, I learned, is how my friend could offer a genuine “Congratulations!” to our family!

She was right!  And we are proud and grateful to be members of this “special club,”

for we all get to learn from our Isaac — a “better way”!

Adoption — the Chosen Ones

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Warren married me to get my children!

Of course, I’m being facetious.  That is not exactly how it was … but he did want those three kiddos in his life!

We did not go anywhere without my chattering chicks trailing behind!

Restaurants, movies, sight-seeing — it didn’t matter!  They were with us!  I do not remember having a single date alone with my husband-to-be.  I would occasionally suggest a one-on-one outing together, but Warren would say, “Ahhh, let’s just take the kids!”

Though it was clear that he cherished me, he was truly energized and found his fulfillment in interacting with the family as a whole.

My children loved him, too!  What joy he brought to their lives!

A friend of his had heard we had started dating and actually contacted Warren, warning him to “be careful” because “she has three children, and they will drain you!”

Warren thanked her for her advice and sought to spend another “date night” with the family right after that encounter.

He played with paper dolls and trucks, gave the kids rides on the lawn mower, and held my youngest by the ankles, threatening to put her in the washing machine head first, much to her delight.  These were just a few of the fun activities they did together.

I remember many days seeing my children lining up, Warren shoveling his mother’s delectable desserts into their mouths wide open like baby birds — going without a morsel himself!  The ultimate sacrifice!  But it gave him joy to share his sweets with these kiddos who had wormed their way into his heart!

Oh, how I treasure those precious early memories!

After we were married, nothing changed.  Because Warren and the children had a good relationship, and because the biological father had not taken advantage of visitations, it seemed natural for Warren to step into the role of “father,” assisting me with training and discipline. I trusted him completely, and he did not let me down.

Truth be known, this 32-year-old-never-been-married-before husband of mine was a better parent than I!  More patient with their training.  More consistent and wise in his discipline.  He was simply amazing!

So when the biological father contacted Warren a year after our marriage, telling him that he had been to an attorney and had drawn up the papers to terminate his parental rights and responsibilities, my husband was thrilled.  As eager as he was, however, he asked the biological father to “give it some time” and to be “absolutely sure” that he understood the ramifications of that monumental decision.

Seeming to be in a hurry to finalize the adoption, the biological father reluctantly agreed to wait out the specified time period that Warren had given him to seriously consider the consequences of his choice to terminate.  Warren knew what a big step this would be and did not want the biological father to regret it.

The biological father phoned Warren at the end of the period extended for reconsideration — on the very day, to be exact — and informed him that he had not changed his mind.  Then he notified Warren of the date for signing the papers.

So on February 9, 1983, Warren became their legal father with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities that came with it.  He eagerly welcomed it all!  Oh, how he loved his three chosen children!

Now he was “Dad” in every sense of the word!

We went on to have two more daughters, and I watched with great interest to see if there would be any signs of “preference” for his biological children.  I can say with certainty that there was not a whit of favoritism!  If a baby was on his lap and one of the older children wanted his attention, he would set the baby aside every time and tend to the older child’s needs.

(I, on the other hand, was not quite as accommodating.)

In the beginning, people would ask Warren, “So which of these kids are ‘yours’?”  Incensed, Warren would always reply, “They’re ALL mine!”

Now, over 35 years later, people only ask that question on rare occasions — mostly when an old friend comes back into our lives.  Since the past doesn’t come up in our conversations, most people don’t realize that an adoption took place.  Though we don’t hide it, there is no reason to advertise it.  They are all Warren’s children.

For Warren, the adoption was more than a legal contract – the signing of that document was a relationship of promise, like a vow spoken in a wedding ceremony.  And he has honored every ounce of that promise to his children.

Occasionally, through those early years, we would sit up together with sick children at night.  (Warren graciously volunteered for “vomit duty” — bless his heart!) Throughout the years, he helped me wipe their noses and wipe their tears.  He dressed their wounds and attended their games, their recitals, their parent/teacher conferences, and their doctors’ appointments.

He was one committed daddy!

Our son Ryan lived only 3 1/2 years after the adoption.  People who didn’t know about the adoption would tell us that Ryan looked “just like his father,” which caused Warren’s heart to soar.  Together, we grieved our son’s tragic death, and Warren sorrowed every bit as much as if Ryan were his biological son.

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As the girls grew older, Warren taught them how to drive before their appointed time … much to my chagrin!  When they became “legal” drivers, he taught them how to change the oil in their cars and how to change a flat tire so they would not be dependent on anyone.

And that crazy daddy actually had an application form for boys who wanted to date his daughters!  The boys had to endure a painful “personal interview,” as Mr. Snyder would inquire about their driving records, their relationships with Christ, and other pertinent questions.

Dating a Snyder girl was not for the faint of heart!

Surprisingly, one of those young men actually came back years later and thanked Warren for the “third degree,” as grueling as it was for him!

(But only one, mind you!)

Yes, that daddy was all in!  

How blessed I am to have a man who loved my children (and me) like that … and how blessed all five of my children are to have a father like him!

Our family’s adoption story is a beautiful allegory of what happens to believers in terms of our relationship with our Heavenly Father.  We were adopted into the family of God the very moment we received His offer of salvation through Christ!  We didn’t do anything to earn the right to be called children of God — we simply believed and received … and so His children we became! (John 1:12)

God loved us and chose us … and we responded to His hand reaching by gratefully embracing all the rights and privileges that accompanied our adoption into His family.

We became full beneficiaries of all that is His!

That is who we are and Whose we are!

Warren wanted my children to be his, just as God the Father wanted us to be His!  And Warren’s love for the children was (and is) sacrificial, unconditional and is lavishly poured out equally on all of his girls — just like our Heavenly Father’s love for mankind was sacrificial, unconditional and was lavishly poured out equally on all of us when He sent His only begotten Son to pay for our sin by dying on the Cross of Calvary.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1)

See what great love Warren has lavished on his chosen ones, that they should be called his very own children!

What a beautiful picture of our value and worth in God’s eyes!

What a beautiful picture of my children’s value and worth in Warren’s eyes!

Earthly stories that depict heavenly truths are some of my favorite things!

I am blessed.

My children are blessed …

but their daddy is even more blessed.

If you don’t believe me …

just ask him!