Five Minute Friday: Turn

Us

Gentle Reader,

What is that? That glowing, bright thing in the sky?

The seasons don’t change so much as dramatically appear one day. Of course, tomorrow I could wake up to six inches of snow. North Idaho is certainly a “Well, do you feel lucky?” kind of place when it comes to selecting outfits during springtime. Sweaters in the morning, t-shirts in the afternoon, flannel pajamas at night.

Went for a walk with a friend this afternoon. Her almost 8-week old baby is not quite sure how to be a human being yet and definitely didn’t know what to make of the glowing sky-ball. Squinty side-eye in the extreme, yet covering her face resulted in squawks of protest. I think it must be difficult to be a baby and have all these new experiences and stimuli flung at you all the time.

Kate says: turn.

Go.

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

– Matthew 9:35-38 (NKJV)

Weary. Skýllō. “To skin, flay; to rend, mangle; to vex, trouble, annoy; to give one’s self trouble, trouble one’s self” (Thayer’s). The people were raw, like the juicy skin that’s exposed upon popping a blister. They were annoyed and troubled. Some had brought the pain upon themselves.

And Jesus had compassion on them.

Makes you think, doesn’t it? Compassion for someone with cancer, sure. For someone who lost a job, yes. Compassion for the drug addict? The chronically late? The one who is simply different?

Jesus is no doormat, nor does He enable anyone to continue on in bad habits (sometimes sin, sometimes just stupidity). He doesn’t ask anyone to ignore anything. What He does ask of us is far more difficult than our natural desire to distance ourselves from the smelly, the foul-mouthed, the troubled. He asks us to do as He does. And what does He do?

He gets up close. Personal. He never compromises truth but it never flows from His lips in tones of spite or pride. He heals. He listens. He loves.

Not just the people who love Him back.

Even Judas, the one who betrayed Him.

Really, they all betrayed Him.

Make you think, doesn’t it? A whole world of people outside our doors, aching for love and truth, even if they won’t admit it. People God is drawing to Himself.

People just like you and me.

Because our sins might be prettier, easier to hide, or socially acceptable – but they still required His blood.

How can we not have compassion on them, who are us?

So turn, we must, from building walls and toward them from whom, in our pride and fear, we would escape. We are the Jesus-people, the ones who claim to know something. The knowing is not enough. The knowing must move to the doing, to the embracing, to the preaching. We are the sheep who know the Shepherd. We must tell the weary, scattered ones – even the ones who have troubled themselves – where the safe pastures are. This is our duty.

No, it is our delight.

Stop.

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The Wednesday Writers: Tezlyn Reardon

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com (3)

Gentle Reader,

It’s The Wednesday Writers!

No idea what I’m talking about? Read this.

Today we hear from my new blogging buddy, Tezlyn Reardon.

Open Your Eyes and Dream

When you wake up in the morning, what do you see? Do you see the leftover shards of unfinished projects or unsuccessful relationships? Or, maybe you see goals and dreams of years gone by, hopes that you once had but left far behind because, well, “life” happened. Do you fight opening your eyes because you don’t want to face the reality that the movie that has been playing in your mind for the last 8 hours is not real and it probably never will be?

When we were younger we were always asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But why did people stop asking? Is there an age when you are supposed to stop believing that you can be anything you want to be? Over the last fifteen years or so, I stopped dreaming. It wasn’t because I didn’t think I could do anything more than what I had been, it was because I got comfortable with where I was, who I was with, and what I was doing with my life. I replaced my dreams with my son’s dreams, my husband’s dreams. I was comfortable, and I didn’t want to get out of the warm, worn in spot in my proverbial bed and risk turning my world upside down when I already had everything I needed or wanted.

In late 2016, my husband left me. My dream became a nightmare, one that I so desperately wanted to wake up from. I couldn’t sleep for months, much less dream of anything that didn’t involve my husband coming back home and my world miraculously falling back together. I didn’t know if I would ever live again the way I had lived for the duration of my relationship with the only man I had ever fallen in love with. How on earth could I find the strength to dream?

A funny thing happened on the way to my own personal hell. I gave my life back to God and I started over. I learned that my dream wasn’t coming to an end, instead, other dreams that had been hibernating inside of me for many years were coming out of their unending slumber. I have said for almost 20 years that I wanted to write a book. In August of 2017, I sent my completed manuscript to a publisher and that book will be distributed on Amazon in early 2018. I’m not saying that I never would have written the book had I still been married, but it might have taken me much longer while I waited for my perfect life to present the perfect timing.

For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

– Jeremiah 29:11

It might not have been easy to understand and believe, but these very words have kept me moving forward, allowing me to dream loudly and boldly despite the circumstances. Hope and faith have become standard words in my conversations with myself and others, but it shouldn’t have taken a self-described catastrophe to have larger expectations for my life. It’s not selfish to want more, as a matter of fact, it’s selfish to be content with living a mediocre life. We were created to help one another to grow and thrive, but all of that has been lost in the new-age religion of competitiveness, where we vie to take all that we can get, leaving nothing behind for others. There is abundance for all of us, God never planned for us to be poor or homeless, downtrodden and hopeless. Although He never promised life would be easy, He did promise that we would all be taken care of, that all of our needs would be fulfilled. All we have to do is dream and then believe.

I hope that after reading this blog entry you won’t wait until you are on your deathbed or at the end of your rope before you start to check items off your bucket list. Whatever you have in your heart this very moment, what will it take to make that happen and why are you waiting? There is a man who wants to hear all your hopes and dreams and he wants to give you your heart’s desire. All He asks is that you give him a little bit of your time so that He can tell you about the dreams and purpose He has for your life. If you show your faith and trust in Him, He will show you more favor and mercy than you could have ever imagined in your wildest of dreams. Go ahead, try Him. Dreams are for 5-year olds, and 25-year olds, and 55-year olds, there is no age limit and there is no expiration date.

Dream. Eyes open or closed, but damn it, dream.

********

TezlynTezlyn Reardon is the author of 40 Years of Practice, her first published work. Working in marketing analytics for over 10 years, she finally took the leap into developing her real passion, sharing her story with others, something she has felt moved to do since college. Everything happens for a reason is the motto for her life and she is living and learning as she moves through this world, helping others along the way. In addition to writing and speaking, Reardon is actively engaged in the Columbus, Ohio community, participating on several non-profit boards and supporting others who have dreams, but don’t know how to plan or execute them. She is also in the process of developing a new coaching program for those who are struggling to find or hone their purpose in life.

Visit her blog to learn more about Tez, her book and stay up to date with other projects she finds herself getting into!

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Sketches: Red

Red

Gentle Reader,

Many thoughts tumbling around in my head right now. I spent two-and-a-half days at a church conference, learning a lot and giggling with my fellow delegates. (The powers that be might just kick our church out of the district. That’s how dignified and mature we were). I plan to look over my scribbled notes and share what I’ve learned with you over the coming weeks, but today I’m still in processing mode.

So, let’s talk: red. (Prompt submitted by my blogging buddy and fellow Blacklist fan Lynette).

Raymond Reddington

I have to start here, because Lynette and I both love the man in the fedora. Or maybe we just love James Spader. Not in a creepy way. In a, “Dang, he’s a good actor” way. And he really is. In the hands of a lesser thespian, Red would come off as nothing but cruel. Thankfully, this is not something through which we must suffer.

I discovered the Blacklist at the beginning of 2015, when I could do nothing but sit in a recliner and watch television. The show has had its ups and downs (Season 4, anyone?) but I remain intrigued by the story of a notorious criminal and just why he’s so invested in the life of an FBI agent. For every answer the writers give, 17 more questions pop up (and the viewer cannot be sure that the answers are really answers). For better or worse, I’m riding this train all the way into the station.

Red Foreman

Danny Masterson turned out to be a really terrible person, which means I don’t feel comfortable watching That 70s Show reruns any longer. When Chris and I were dating and had no money whatsoever, we would sit in my parent’s basement and laugh until we cried at the antics of Eric, Donna, Kelso, Fez, Hyde and Jackie. A couple of years ago when I re-watched the series on Netflix, I realized just how funny the adult characters were, with Red Foreman easily topping the list. His antagonistic yet ultimately loving relationship with his son (and, by extension, his son’s friends) provides a strong emotional core to an otherwise conventional sitcom.

Red Baron

My favorite Christmas song is Snoopy vs. the Red Baron, performed by the Royal Guardsmen. (By happenstance, that song irritates my father, so I’m sure that there’s deep psychological meaning to my choice). The lyrics are all about peace overcoming fear and violence, a message dear to me. Plus, I simply like the absurd thought of a beagle taking on a World War I fighter pilot.

Manfred von Richthofen was quite the character. Originally a member of the German cavalry, he joined the Air Service in 1915, eventually becoming lead pilot of Jagdgeschwader 1, known as “The Flying Circus” due to its brightly painted planes. von Rochtofen really did fly a red plane, really did win the most aerial battles of World War I (more than any other pilot from any of the combatant nations), really is the most famous flying ace of all time and nobody is really sure exactly who killed him.

Red hair

Anne Shirley is a hero of mine. I’ve read the Anne of Green Gables series multiple times and I can quote long pieces of dialogue from the films (the Kevin Sullivan classics, not the awful 2017 Netflix reboot). I’ve wanted to have hair as red as hers for as long as I can remember, though I’ve never even thought of dyeing it. Mostly because I’m extremely lazy, beauty-routine wise, and I’d have six inches worth of grow-out before I finally dragged myself to the salon again.

There was a time, though, during the long winter months, when I was young and dumb, when I would pour straight hydrogen peroxide over my wet hair in an attempt to bring out the highlights that the summer sun naturally produced. I cringe thinking about that now. At least my tresses didn’t come out green.

Spaghetti

When I desire comfort food, my mind immediately goes to my mom’s spaghetti. She believes that canned sauce is for peasants and so pours various things into the crock pot to simmer all day. The sauce, red and juicy, bubbles and pops, making the kind of mess that guarantees a truly good meal. Where I cook with mild disdain, she cooks with great love. I can taste that love with every bite.

Now I’m hungry.

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Five Minute Friday: Release

Release

Gentle Reader,

As I do not tan but simply reflect light back to the sun, it comes as no surprise that, when I’m tired (beyond the daily level of tired; the sort of weariness that comes with not sleeping well and attempting to cope with a three-day headache), I look like death warmed up. Glanced at myself in the mirror as I dressed this morning and the dark circles were oh-so-prominent. The next time anyone remarks upon them, I think I’ll respond with, “Yeah, but you should see the other guy.”

Paleness also makes finding and purchasing the proper shade of foundation an adventure. Really, Target? You don’t carry a line that includes a shade that sits somewhere between pristine paper before it’s been printed on and WhiteOut? Way to make my life difficult.

Are those bruises all up and down my arms? No, just the veins showing through. Except for that. That one is a bruise. Which I probably got from rolling over too hard last night.

Oh, well. At least I won’t have a football-like complexion when I’m 50.

It’s the little things.

Kate says: release.

Go.

So I’m a pacifist, right? I believe in non-violent solutions and keeping the temper under control. “The fruit of the Spirit is peace” and all that.

Except, I have a nasty temper. I work at being conciliatory. I strive to compromise when possible. I am neither outwardly expressive or explosive. But I have to confess, there are times when I genuinely fantasize about punching someone in the mouth. Usually with a right hook, followed by an upper-cut if he’s being particularly obnoxious. My blood rises, along with my voice (in pitch, not volume) and my fingernails dig into my palms.

People tend to think that pacifism is about cowardice and apathy. It’s not. Certainly not for me, at any rate. Learning to let go of those destructive urges, to release them alongside a slow, count-laden breath, is based in a desire to be free. To walk through life in and with the peace referenced above, and the joy and the love and all the other things that are promised to those who abide in Christ.

I can’t abide in Him if I’m not releasing the anger.

Stop.

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