Monday, February 20, 2006

To Be or Not to Be... A Neighbor... That is the Question.

Well, Mike gave a great sermon on Sunday about how to love our neighbors (everyone we ever come in contact with, that is). He talked about how to love our neighbors, even when they seem (or they're acting) unlovable. The good Samaritan in Luke 10 acted immediately and came to the aid of the Jewish man, instead of waiting until next time a need arose (because the Jewish man was unlovable).

Let me just say that I live for this stuff. I get the most joy in life by being Jesus to those in need. I love to bless others and to meet their needs in tangible ways. I pray for these opportunites to present themselves and love acting on them. And it fills my heart with joy to give Jesus the credit.

Now please don't get me wrong here; I'm not saying these things to puff myself up or to try to look good or whatever. I'm saying this because in some instances this has become a real problem for me. I've come to see (or God has brought to light) that I have this sticker on my forehead that says "SUCKER".

Mike Blackwood wrote about this some months back on his blog site.... about the homeless guys and the hotel room. Please read that when you get a chance. I feel like I suffer from a similar ailment. Sometimes it gets to the point that I give and give (which again, I love to do), but then I begin to be taken advantage of.

I have suffered from this my entire life. God has given me the spiritual gift of empathy, which the enemy knows very well. When I was a kid, I loved this gift. I was the confidante, counselor, and secret-keeper of all my friends. Also, I knew that Jesus and I had something special. As I entered my tweens and teen years however, it started becoming more of a curse than a blessing. I was bound to be the helper, confidante, and secret-keeper, even at my detriment and the detriment of others. I allowed myself to be used and abused because that's what (or so I thought) was expected of me. I wanted to see the good in everyone and their motives. I wanted to be a neighbor to everyone.

The sad thing is that I blamed God for many years, and cursed Him for my gift. I drifted into the vicious tide of running from the gifts (the empathy and my salvation) that He had given me and crashing into waves of depression when they caught me. I began to ignore God Himself. And though that still, small voice was always in my head, I found different 'earplugs' and distractions so I couldn't (or wouldn't) hear Him.

Thankfully the Lord and I have worked this all out; through many years of tears and counseling, but mostly through reading His promises to me. I now embrace this gift that He has given me. Being a daughter of Eve though, I still struggle from time to time. I have a hard time finding the line between loving my neighbor and being a doormat.

To put it plainly, I'm just naive. God has helped me though, to discern the character of others.... another gift that I've gotten to open. But again, in my own flesh and sinfulness, do I just get caught up in myself? Why is it hard for me to not only see that I'm being taken advantage of, but to do something about it or stop it from happening?

Let me give you a 'for instance'. I had this friend whose husband was a loser (to put it nicely). He would never bring his paychecks or stubs home, just whatever cash he had left on Fridays. Although he would never admit it, and God only knows where all his money went, he spent it on illicit things and would bring home a hundred bucks or so to his wife to pay the bills, food, medicine, etc. My friend would call me upset, and of course I encouraged her to look to the Lord (and to leave the jerk, even temporarily until he GOT A CLUE!!). I also would buy her groceries (they had two toddler boys), diapers, gas, whatever I could do. But this went on (on and off) for years (about five of them)! He finally started getting violent and she'd tell me about it. Again, I'd give her money, offer her a place to stay, pray for her, invited her to church (she even came a few times).

But I couldn't help this overwhelming feeling that I was just 'enabling' all of this. I had a hard time discerning if it was God giving me this feeling or my own fleshy anger toward her husband. But I would just keep on doing, giving, etc., with the hopes that she would come to lean on the Lord (instead of me). Anyway, we moved away and kind of lost touch. I know this sounds horrible, but I felt relieved. But my question is this: Was I being the right kind of neighbor? Was I right in helping her? I know I was right in the praying part... there's no question about that. But what about the tangible ways in which I thought I was 'helping'? Where is the line? When does it go from helping to enabling? How do you know?

I'm not just talking about this particular situation because this was just one of many. I seem to attract these folks. I know, without a doubt, that God puts some of them in my path. But then other times I feel that Satan puts the others there. What are your thoughts bloggers? When is it or how is it not good to help others? How do you know when to be or not to be a neighbor?

Blessings, Kir

Thursday, February 09, 2006

That's so Punny

Ok. I am sitting at work (obviously feeling unproductive) and thought about puns. Those of you who know me know how normal that is. I was also thinking about a way to encourage more interaction on the blog. So here is what I came up with:

Post your favorite Puns!

By the way, if you don't know what a pun is:
"a word play suggesting, with humorous intent, the different meanings of one word or the use of two or more words similar in sound but different in meaning"

To get you started, here is mine:

Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet.
He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath.
This made him ....

(Oh, man, this is so bad, it's good)

A super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Snow in North Carolina?

Last night was typical weather for a February evening in Carolina- 50s. So imagine my surprise when I woke to see our neighborhood tucked into a white fluffy blanket! I was so excited, yes it is possible for me to get excited, that I woke up the kids and told them to look out the window. Kirsten did not seem to enjoy the shrieks, at least until she had her morning coffee.

Well, I had to go to work, so the children were left to gaze out the window- and I can only imagine how many times they asked Mommy when they could go outside. It turns out that Mommy wrapped them up tightly and sent them out as early as 8am (perhaps to enjoy her coffee in peace)

I am glad that the kids were able to enjoy some snow. I only hope that Jake does not get arrested for throwing snowballs at passing cars.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Christianity Explained

Jesus taught that there are 2 rules if you want to follow Him:
  1. Love God
  2. Love Others

Simple to say

Difficult to execute

I hope you will bear with me as I try to live out the rules.