“I Like a Challenge!”

I don’t recall the disagreement, but I’d had enough. “I’m not staying where I’m not wanted!” I shouted at my new husband.

In a flurry of anger, I set out in the dead of winter, marching down Algoma Blvd toward the college campus. It was Sunday … I was pregnant … and I had no clue where I was going.

Though a student at Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh, I suddenly recalled the campus was all but shut down for the weekend. My family had moved out of state two weeks after Jim and I married. But wait … the Neuman Center would be open. Yup. That’s where I’d go. Never back to that man!

But I didn’t know my husband.

A few blocks later, a car pulled over, and the passenger window rolled down. “Hey, lady,” a guy inside said, “ya wanna ride?”

Who did he think he was fooling? I knew that voice. And that car. I stuck my nose in the air and marched on.

The car pulled away. A block later, it was back with a repeat performance. I gave Jim a repeat performance of my own. Though I’ll admit I was disappointed when he and the car disappeared again. And didn’t return.

Well, I’m probably better off without him. Though I wish … oh, what difference did it make what I wished. I’d had two chances and blew them.

Now nearing the campus, I approached a corner with neatly trimmed bushes edging the property. Out popped Jim with welcoming arms and a big grin.

I collapsed into laughter, and he took my hand. “Let’s go home, Beauty.”

If you’re thinking Jim had his hands full with me, you’re right. Down through the years, my faithful husband had other occasions to rescue the day with humor.

Oh, and in case you’re tempted to feel sorry for him, don’t bother. I once told him I felt sorry for him. He was indignant. “I like a challenge!” he insisted.

All right then, sweetheart.

PLEASE SHARE: Do you have a humorous story to tell on yourself?

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Getting Out the Garbage

I headed out for my usual early morning exercise–a brisk walk to the lake, around the neighborhood loop, and back again. As I passed by, a neighbor emerged from her garage. We waved to greet one another before she grabbed a large plastic container to haul to the end of her driveway.

Yikes, garbage day!

I made a mental note to  put our garbage out as soon as I finished my walk. We sure didn’t need health hazards, clutter, and all things stinky hanging around for another week. How good it always felt to get rid of garbage.

Rid of … hmm. Didn’t God’s Word have a lot to say about “getting rid of”? When I returned, I’d check that out, too.

Ah, hah! Just as I thought. The Bible listed all sorts of garbage that Peter and Paul urged Christian to “get rid of.” I studied those lists for any garbage I needed to get rid of.

Curious? Would you like to know what I found on those lists? Here are just a few items I considered, in case I was carrying them around:

  • “Get rid of all malicious behavior and deceit. Don’t just pretend to be good. Be done with hypocrisy and jealousy and backstabbing” (1 Peter 2:1, New Living Translation).
  • “Get rid of … slander and dirty language” (Colossians 3:8, New Living Translation).
  • “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words … be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another” (Ephesians 4:31, New Living Translation).
  • “Get rid of all filth and evil in your lives … humbly accept the message God has planted in your hearts, for it is strong enough to save your souls” (James 1:21, New Living Translation).

Paul also pointed to a major source of garbage–pride. He could claim lofty heights in his family bloodlines, education, and social status. Though all those things seem important to us, what is their end result? They encourage us to look down on others and count them of less value.

Yet God calls us to love one another regardless of these things. Awakened to this truth and compelled by his love for God, Paul led the way for us. He chose to change his attitude.

Focus: “I once thought all these things were very important, but now I count them as worthless … when compared the with priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage” ~ Philippians 3:7-8, (New Living Translation).

How about you?  How would your life change if you took seriously God’s Word and Paul’s example?

 

Quick to Forgive?

I sat on the back porch steps, observing my six-year-old granddaughter attempt to teach the game of Frisbee to her deaf playmate. She launched her new toy through the air. “Come on, Anthony. You can do it!”

Anthony shook his head. Kyra coaxed until he tried and succeeded. In his excitment, he hugged the yellow toy and refused to return it. Kyra begged, but he laughed, playfully holding it just out of reach.

Bursting into tears, she ran to the side yard. Anthony laughed, and her back stiffened. She spun around. Glaring at him, she seized a big stick from the ground.

I leapt to my feet. “Kyra! No!”

My little girl looked at me. Her shoulders sagged and tears puddled in her hazel eyes. Dropping the stick, she darted into the front yard, sobbing. No longer laughing, Anthony followed her. Minutes later they returned. He shrugged and dropped down near the porch steps. Picking up a piece of colored chalk, he began drawing pictures on the sidewalk. Kyra stood stiffly a few feet away. “He was mean to me, Grandma. I’m angry.”

“What are you going to do about it?” I asked quietly.

For a few moments, she thought about it, then grinned and nodded her head triumphantly. “I’m never going to speak to him again forever!”

“Oh,” I ventured. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

Kyra’s grin vanished. “Why not?”

“Well—” Lord, please help me here. “—if you don’t forgive Anthony, you can’t be friends anymore.”

Kyra’s eyes grew wide. “We can’t?”

She climbed the porch steps and snuggled into my arms like a wounded bird. After all, they had been friends since they were babies. I held her close while stroking her silky blonde hair. “Besides, Kyra, Jesus wants us to forgive others, even when they hurt us for no good reason.”

“He does?” That clinched it. She wiggled out of my arms and joined Anthony on the sidewalk. He looked up, smiled, and handed her a piece of bright blue chalk.

Her crisis over, I marveled at how easily my little granddaughter had acted once she knew what God wanted her to do.

Wouldn’t our world be a much happier place if we were all so quick to forgive those who hurt us?

Focus: “Love your enemies! Do good to them! … Your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as sons of God” Luke 6:35 (The Living Bible).

What do say? Is it possible today’s chaotic world be a better place if we were quick to forgive? Why or why not?

(This blog post adapted from a piece published by Together in Faith in my ten-year column, Love With Shoes On.)

Will You?

In a recent reading on forgiveness, I was reminded of a relative. Through family stories during my childhood, I came to mistrust and then dislike him. It wasn’t until years after his death that God took the matter up with me. By that time, I was a grown woman with a husband and a baby.

While walking to work one day, I heard these words in my heart. “It’s time to forgive. Will you?”

I had been harboring those ill feelings for a long time, not even aware of them most of the time. But that day I discovered that, for Jesus’ sake, I could forgive. The person didn’t have to ask for my forgiveness, didn’t even have to know he had offended me. I could set myself free of ill feelings simply by forgiving.

How about you? Have you struggled with the remembrance of someone’s offenses against you or someone you love? What has your struggle taught you about the power of forgiveness?