Two Mirrors

Once upon a time there was a girl. She wasn’t too different than any other girl. Yet she thought she was, and so she acted like she was.

Other girls were pretty. She thought she was ugly. So she tried to hide whenever she could.

Other girls were fun. She thought she was boring. So she quit playing with others.

Other girls were smart. She thought she was stupid. So she quit sharing her thoughts.

She thought being ugly, boring, and stupid made her repulsive to people. And she tried even harder to disappear from everyone around her.

One day, she discovered she was invisible. No one saw her. No one heard her. She was happy, because now no one would have to endure her presence.

But she was also sad. As she watched people, she watched how they enjoyed each other and wanted to be around each other. And how they loved each other. She wanted to be wanted and loved. Yet, how could anyone want or love someone like her?

One day a friendly voice called to her.

“You can see me?”

“Yes. And I like what I see.”

“You can hear me?”

“Yes. And I like what I hear.”

“How can you like me when I’m so ugly, boring, and stupid?”

“Who told you that?”

“It’s what I see when I look in my mirror.”

“Where did you get that mirror?”

“I made it myself.”

“Can I look at it?”

“Yes, but be careful. Don’t hurt it.”

“It’s a lovely mirror. Strong, and well made.”

“Thank you. It took me a long time to make it.”

“I made a mirror, too. Would you like to look at it?”

“Yes, please. I’ll be careful.”

“Here. And you don’t have to be careful. This mirror won’t break.”

“It’s gorgeous. It’s so shiny; it looks like it is glowing! Who is that beautiful girl in it?”

0310201914 (2)

“That’s you.”

“No, it can’t be. That girl looks nothing like the girl in my mirror.”

“No, it doesn’t.”

“Then that must not be me. You must be teasing me. Who is that girl, really?”

“That girl is really you.”

“But what about the one in my mirror?”

“Didn’t you say you made your mirror yourself?”

“Yes.”

“Did you get any help?”

“Well, yes.”

“Who helped you?”

“People around me. But mostly I did it myself.”

“Do you think maybe your mirror might be lying to you?”

“Lie to me? How can that happen? It’s a mirror. Mirrors always show what’s there.”

“Unless they are distorted.”

“You think my mirror is distorted? What about your mirror?”

“Oh, I’m sure my mirror is accurate. No one helped me make it, so there was no chance for it to get distorted.”

“Well, maybe my mirror is not distorted either.”

“That’s for you to decide.”

“How can I decide? Which one do I believe?”

“You can believe mine, or you can believe yours. It’s your choice.”

The girl studied her image in each mirror. She was familiar with the girl in her mirror, but longed to be the girl in the other mirror. She tried to focus on that second girl – the beautiful one – but each time, her gaze returned to her own mirror.

“I like your mirror better. But each time I try to focus on it, my eyes go back to my own.”

“You haven’t really decided yet. Wanting is not the same as making a decision.”

“I’m scared to decide. What if I’m wrong?”

“Trust me. I wouldn’t show you anything that wasn’t true.”

The girl studied both images again. In spite of the fear that seemed to consume her, she made her decision.

“I choose your mirror.”

As she held the new shiny mirror in her hands, she found laying aside her mirror was still hard. She knew it would take time to get used to looking in the shiny mirror instead of hers, but she had decided.

Little by little, as she looked at the beautiful girl in the shiny mirror, she began to think differently about herself. Maybe she wasn’t so different from other girls after all.

Other girls were pretty. The mirror showed her that she was pretty, too. So she stopped hiding as much.

Other girls were fun. She thought maybe she was fun, too. So she began playing with a few people.

Other girls were smart. She thought maybe she was smart, too. So she started sharing her thoughts with everyone around her.

She thought being pretty, fun, and smart was more fun than what she had been. She quit trying to disappear from everyone around her.

She found out… the new, shiny mirror was right.

And as she believed the image in that amazing mirror, so did the people around her. She was wanted, enjoyed, and loved.

She had one last thing to say to the one who gave her the mirror:

“Thank you, Jesus!”

 

 

 

Romans 12:3 TLB  Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you.

Romans 12:3 ERV  You must see yourself just as you are. Decide what you are by the faith God has given each of us.

Sin is Like a Bag of Puff Corn

Puff corn is delicious! The strong buttery flavor pops on my tongue as the puff corn dissolves scrumptiously in my mouth. I close my eyes in delight as I savor the first few puffs.

It doesn’t take long before one is not enough and I start putting two in my mouth at the same time. Crunch, crunch. So delicious!

And addicting. My mouth demands more – so I eat three, then four at a time. And then as many as I can cram in my mouth.

More! More!

I ignore all the warnings going off in my head as I feed that monster within me.

Warnings like…

It has too much salt. You’re going to retain water and feel bloated. And it will affect your blood pressure.

It has too much fat. You’re sabotaging your effort to lose weight. In fact, you are going to regret this as soon as you get on the scale tomorrow.

Eating the whole bag will not satisfy you. You’ll only crave more.

You’re going to have to work out harder later to overcome what you’re doing now.

The monster’s demands are stronger, more urgent, than the warnings.

I’m grabbing handfuls of the puff corn out of the bag so fast now that some go flying before my hand can get to my mouth. It’s making a mess, but I don’t care.

0229200945

Before I know it, the bag is empty. Every last kernel is gone. All 3.5 servings of them. As I mournfully look into the empty bag, sense begins to take over. The monster retreats and I begin to regret my actions.

Why, oh why, did I just eat that whole bag? Now I’m going to pay the price. And for what? The momentary pleasure? Pleasure, yes, but momentary is the key word. There is no lasting satisfaction. Just guilt.

So… what’s the best way to avoid this happening again?

DON’T BUY ANY MORE PUFF CORN!

An Amusement Park?

“Do you want to go for a walk?” Confused, she watched him walk towards the door.

Frequently, when she came to visit, they spent some time together before going somewhere else. But this time, as soon as he saw her, he just headed to the door. He hadn’t said anything, but maybe he had assumed she would just follow him.

So she did.

She expected to see a field when she went through the doorway. That’s where he usually took her. A green grassy field full of colorful flowers, bordered on one side by a flowing river. But that’s not what she saw.

Instead, she saw a large canopy, set up in the middle of nothing. It was colorful, and0225201830 (3) formed a kind of entrance way. Into what she had no idea. He took her hand and pulled her towards it. He still had not said anything, but he was almost dancing as he guided her. Clearly he was excited about bringing her to this place.

Once inside, she was able to glimpse the other side.

“An amusement park?” She shook her head. What was this doing here, in her field of flowers? She liked the field and the river where they usually spent time. Both were peaceful places where she could relax with him. But an amusement park was anything but peaceful. The blaring music of the rides, the constant need to weave through the crowds, the barking of the game attendants, and the smell of greasy foods – of which she could do without.  He wanted to bring her here? Why?

As they exited the canopy, she noticed right away that there was something different about this park. She saw the typical rides found at most amusement parks, such as a Ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, and a roller coaster. In the distance she could see a variety of other rides, booths, and pavilions, also found in most amusement parks. So what made this one different?

Then she got it. This one was pretty quiet.  Not too much movement. No people screaming. No loud music. It seemed… almost gentle. Still, an amusement park?

“You want me to go to an amusement park with you?”

“Yes.”

“But, why?”

“Because walking with me should be fun!”

He didn’t say any more, but she knew what he meant. She tended to be way too serious most of the time. She stressed over getting things right. And worked hard to do everything she could for him. That must be why he took her to quiet, peaceful places when she visited his home. She needed the time with him to relax.

But now he was showing her a different way to live.  Life didn’t have to be so serious. She didn’t have to worry about doing everything just right. With him by her side, she could enjoy the thrill of the rides, knowing he would be with her. She could let herself enjoy the wind in her face as she roared around the tracks of a roller coaster, knowing he would keep her from flying out to her death. She could enjoy both the heights and the depths of a giant Ferris wheel, even when she couldn’t see where she was going, because somehow he could. She could enjoy riding around in circles on the merry-go-round, even when she thought she was going nowhere and that it would never end, because it was time spent with him. She could even enjoy playing the rigged games people played, hoping she’d win but knowing she probably wouldn’t, because he was there to replace what she lost.

An amusement park? Could she really have fun? Could she let go enough to actually enjoy the rides with him? She wasn’t very confident in herself. But she had learned to trust him. And the park did appear to have been made specifically for her. So, she turned to him with a tentative smile.

“An amusement park? Sure, let’s go.”

The Old Man and the Child  (based on a dream)

 

The old man sat alone. He didn’t care about this family gathering. He didn’t know why they insisted on including him. He just wanted to be left alone.

He sat in his chair, apart from everyone, and wished they would go away. Let them have their life. They’ll find out soon enough.

He took no pleasure in people.  Jobs, friends, family – all had failed him. The constant disappointments had knocked him down so many times he no longer had the strength or desire to rise again. Life was hard. But it was even harder with people. Better to be alone than to risk more pain.

So he sat in his chair, across the room from everyone else, daring with his demeanor for anyone to approach him.

And most respected his wish. They watched him from a distance, and discussed their concerns with each other. He knew they did because he could hear them. Occasionally someone would approach him. “Do you want anything to eat?” “Are you cold?” “How are you doing?”

Only they didn’t really want to know how he was doing. They didn’t really want to connect to the real him. To know him deep down. To accept him as he was, and not in comparison to their idea of how he should be.

Until the child.

She was young, only a couple of years old. Not old enough to read people’s body language. And so she ignored his grumpy look. She stood there, holding on to the arm of his chair with both of her tiny hands, and looking up at him.

0212202040 (2)

He tapped his finger in annoyance where it lay a little further up the arm than her hands. She tapped her finger. He frowned. Was it a coincidence?

He tapped two fingers. She tapped two fingers. It hadn’t been a coincidence.

He lifted his hand and put it back down. She lifted her hand and put it back down. He was intrigued now.

He put both hands on the chair arm, and wiggled his fingers. She wiggled her fingers, both hands already being on the arm.

He lifted both hands and crossed them before putting them back down. She frowned in concentration as she lifted both hands and crossed them, struggling just a bit with her developing coordination, to put them back down just like his. “Hmmm….” He nodded his head. “She’s okay. Smart.”

He felt a growing connection with her. Here was someone more interested in joining him and what he was doing, than in him joining her and what she was doing. Maybe he could take a chance one more time.

He lifted his hand, and smiled at her.

 

1 Peter 4:8  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Offering It Back to God

You asked for something from God. And He gave it to you.

Or He gave you something to do for Him.

You are thankful.

You love it.

You want to enjoy it.

You want to play with it.

And He wants you to.

But what if…

What if you gave it back to Him? 0201201926d

What if you asked Him to use it for His glory?

What could God do with it?

Is it possible that not only would you get to enjoy it, but so would a multitude of other people?

And that God’s amazing goodness would be seen by many?

The boy with the bread and fish found out the day he offered God’s provision back to Him.

And so could you.

If you dared.

So the question comes down to…

When God gives you something, what will YOU do with it?

Get Out of Your Boat

0129201222a (2)

Come walk with Me.

Um… You’re walking on water.

Yup, and you can, too. Come on out here.

I will sink. Those waves are bigger than I am, never mind the deep water underneath. And who knows what’s down there?

I will keep you above the water. Come on, it’s okay.

I appreciate Your invitation, but I really should stay in my boat. It’s keeping me safe from the storm.

I will keep you safe. Come out of your boat, and take a walk with Me.

Well, that sounds nice and all, but I have to think about my health. If I don’t worry about doing everything right, I might get sick.

Focus on Me, and let Me keep you well. Come on, we’ll exercise together.

If I’m out there with You, who’s going to worry about making sure there’s enough money in the bank to pay my bills. What if something big happens and I don’t have enough money?

I will supply your needs. Leave your boat, and let’s go on an adventure.

That sounds great, but who will take care of my family and dogs? I have to stay here to make sure their needs are met, too.

I will meet their needs. Come on, you can do it. Come to Me.

But I made this boat super strong. It can protect me from the rough waves.

I’m stronger. Come out here, and be with Me. You will see how strong I am.

I know people can’t really walk on water. Besides, You’re more like a ghost. My hand will go right through Your hand, and I’ll drown.

I will hold you up. You will not drown. Come out of your boat, and dance with Me.

But it doesn’t make sense to trust something I can’t understand instead of trusting something I can see and touch.

You’re thinking is backwards. Trusting the boat doesn’t make sense. It’s just boards nailed together. It can break. It can sink. It’s Me you need to trust. I will never break or sink. Trust Me. Come out here, and stay with Me.

I’m scared.

I know. I am trustworthy. Come out here, and find out.

I’m coming.

Here’s My hand. This is going to be amazing!

Bear Attack (short story based on a dream I had)

“There’s a bear coming!”

I barely looked up from my sketch pad to the man that was careening towards us.

“Yeah, right,” I muttered. “Like there’re any bears around here.”

“A bear?” came high squeaky voice.

“Shh.” I shook my head at the small girl next to me. “It’s okay. Which color should we paint the flowers?”

The man was almost on us. “Run! Hide!”

“Aw, quit trying to scare us. We know there are no bears anywhere around here.”

“It’s a bear, I tell you!”

“I doubt it. Maybe you saw a bush. It is a bit windy today.” I studied my drawing.

“Believe what you want. I know what I saw.” He reached out and grabbed me.

“Ow, let go! You’re going to pull my arm right off!”

“Better your arm than your head if you’re still here when the bear gets here. And think of your little girl!”

The man’s eyes were wide open with eyebrows almost reaching his hairline, and his face was as white as the pages in my sketch pad.  Um… even if he didn’t see a bear, he definitely saw something. But grabbing me?

“Let go!”

“Suit yourself! Hide or don’t hide. Your choice,” he called over his shoulder as he ran towards the trees on the opposite side of the clearing from where he entered.

I looked around the campsite. A few tents scattered here and there, hiking gear set out on picnic tables, and a gazebo. If I wanted to hide from a bear, where would I go? I couldn’t just run into the woods after that man. My daughter wouldn’t be able to keep up, and I couldn’t carry her very far. The trees wouldn’t be any better. Even if I could get my daughter up one, bears can climb, too. The tents offered no protection should the bear follow its nose instead of its eyes. The only thing left was the gazebo – a wooden structure with three steps leading up…wait!

“Come on! I know where we can hide!”

I grabbed my daughter and ran to the gazebo. Yes, just what I hoped for!

“Quick, in there.” I pushed my daughter into the opening of the crawl space under the gazebo. Trying to hurry her, I backed in so I could watch for whatever the man had seen. And then I saw it.

Not only was it a bear, it was a very large grizzly bear. It was carrying a rifle and coming straight towards me. Dang, that bear moved fast! I grabbed a long branch that was lying nearby and held it out as if it were a spear. It wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing.

0116202247 (3)

As I waited, I had time for two thoughts. Would the gazebo have really offered safety? Couldn’t the bear just reach right through the holes in the boards? And where did it get the rifle? Maybe from a ranger?

Just as the bear reached me, it slowly toppled until it lay still on the ground. Dead.

What? How?

Then the pieces came together – that bear must have taken the rifle from the ranger it attacked, but not before the ranger got a few rounds into the bear. The bear was so big; it took a while for the rest of the body to know it was dead.

Isn’t that just like our problems? We see disaster coming. Fear rises up in us and we run or hide without realizing that our Father has already shot the beast. Even if that beast continues towards us, it will topple over before it reaches us. We are safe.

When You Think You Know Better

IMG_20180924_101245452_HDR
OK, Lord. You said to go this way to find the green paradise You have for me, and You know best. It doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere good though. I mean I don’t even see any green leaves or tall grass or anything. But I’ll trust You.

IMG_20180924_101249128_HDR
Wait! Are You sure this is the way? There’s something dark and scary up ahead – definitely not the bright green You promised. Isn’t there another way?

IMG_20180924_101257632_HDR
I think I’ll go this way.  I see something green up ahead. That seems so much more logical. Maybe I just heard God wrong. 

IMG_20180924_101307521_HDR
It even looks smoother going this way. Surely God meant for me to go this way.

IMG_20180924_101328100_HDR (2)
See? Green leaves. That’s more than I saw the other way. But they’re so little. I know there’s more ahead. I’m going to keep going.

IMG_20180924_101332005_HDR (2)
Hmmm… maybe not so easy after all. But I KNOW there’s something up there that will be worth this climb. Nothing worthwhile is easy, right?

IMG_20180924_101343910_HDR (2)
Arrr… this is harder than I thought. God, where are You? Why aren’t you helping me?

IMG_20180924_101401482_HDR (2)
Whew, made it!  Now to see what I’ve worked so hard for.

IMG_20180924_101431167
That’s it?? That’s all there is? 

IMG_20180924_101418230 (4)
Maybe I should have gone God’s way, after all.

When You Think You Are in Control

1007192002 (2)

AJ thinks she is controlling the video showing on the iPad. Notice the cord for the keyboard is not only not plugged in, but the keyboard is incompatible with the iPad she is watching. Yet she is perfectly content living with her illusion and doesn’t even think about the unseen force that is actually controlling that video. Even if she did, she wouldn’t be able to comprehend it.

We often live with the same illusion. As we work away at our keyboards, we may think we are controlling our lives. After all, when we hit certain keys, things in our lives change. So we think the changes were caused by what we did.  And in some ways, they were.

We can hit the eating healthy key to have less illness to deal with.

We can hit the reliable honest worker key to keep our jobs.

We can hit the education key to earn higher incomes for a comfortable lifestyle.

We can hit the keys for keeping our minds sharp.

But the control is an illusion.

People with healthy diets can still end up with cancer and other life threatening diseases.

Reliable honest workers can still be fired or laid off.

Highly educated people can still be unemployed or employed below their education level.

Even sharp minds can be destroyed by disease, accidents, or old age.

We think the noises we make with our keyboards mean we have control.

But…

We don’t control our bodies. Breathing, digesting, sleeping will eventually happen regardless our efforts to stop it. We can’t stop our hearts from beating whenever we desire or make it start beating again when it stops.  We can’t control a baby growing within us or when that baby will be born. We can’t control getting older. We can’t stop it, change the speed at which we age, or control our signs of aging.

We don’t control our minds. We can’t make our brains work faster or smarter. Those with slow processing skills can’t suddenly start thinking as fast as a computer. Those with low IQ’s can’t decide to be a genius. We can’t control whether or not we will develop a mental disease. No one chooses to struggle with a mental illness, yet many people do.

We don’t control others. We can’t control who will love us and who will not. We can’t control who will hire us, or an employer’s decision to fire us. We can’t control rumors or whether friends will be trustworthy or not. We can’t control how strangers treat us in public places, or the crimes evil people commit.

We don’t control our life circumstances. We can’t control accidents. That’s why we call them accidents. And they happen to everyone regardless of how careful they may be. We can’t control the damage storms can bring into our lives. We can’t control how much our employer will pay us or what budget we have to live within.

What many of us don’t realize is that all our efforts are actually incompatible with the reality of what does control our lives, especially if we’re not plugged into the spiritual world. If we ever manage to think about the unseen forces, both good and evil, that surround us, we don’t understand them so we go back to using what we do understand. We continue plucking away at our powerless keyboards.

Yet there is power available. There is One who has complete control over all forces. There is One who desires to reveal the truth to our illusion. There is One who longs for us to plug into Him and is eager to teach us how to use our keyboards. In our natural state our keyboards are incompatible with Him, but because of what Jesus did, He can transform them so that they are God-compliant. We don’t have to understand all the spiritual forces acting on our lives; we just have to understand how to plug our power cord into Him so that His power can flow into our lives. Then when we hit those keys, something real will happen.

Caught in the Act

Life is full of temptations. All kinds of temptations. And temptations can be quite messy.

0927190933

Have you even given in to temptation – then got caught in the middle of it?  How do you get rid of the mess?

Ignoring it doesn’t make it to go away.  “What cake?”

Apologizing doesn’t make it go away. “I’m sorry.”

Denying it doesn’t make it go away. “I didn’t do it.”

Blaming others doesn’t make it go away.  “You gave me this cake! What did you expect?”

Rubbing at it doesn’t make it go away. “I’m trying but it just won’t come off.”

Walking away from it doesn’t make it go away.  “I’m done with it.”

There’s only one way to get completely cleansed from the mess. Calling for help. “Daddy, help me!”

God will scoop you up and bathe you. And then clean up your life. Depending on how bad the mess is and how long you waited before calling for His help, the scrubbing may take a while, and be uncomfortable, even painful.  But if you allow Him to finish, you will be squeaky clean once again, without a speck of the mess on you. However, there may be parts of your life that will always be a bit stained. I know God is capable of removing all stains, but I think He lets some stains stay to help us remember what happens when we give into temptation.

With our short memories, we need the reminders. And I’m thankful for them.

 

For those who have been following my life, that is not a picture of my granddaughter. That is a picture of her mother, my daughter, that I ran into recently.

Here’s a picture of my granddaughter on her first birthday a few months ago. 🙂0613191901b