Category Archives: How to extend grace in your community

Lemons and the Presidency

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Lemons and the Presidency

It’s inauguration day. This is not a political post; it’s safe to continue reading. Well, not exactly a political post. Perhaps you should proceed with caution.

Coincidentally, a friend gifted me two big bags of lemons. And what do you do when life (or your dear friend) gives you lemons?

You make lemonade. In my case, I made lemonade for all of my coworkers and I even shared some of the lemons (I hope you don’t mind, Regina!). With all the love one can muster on a Friday at noon, I squeezed those lemons in the break room; I added sugar and cold filtered water. Refreshment for all!

So, what does a bushel of lemons have in common with inauguration day?

Here’s the thing. I know that some of my fellow Americans are not happy today; heck, some are downright mad and others are just worried. Life just gave them a big bag of lemons.

Can I tell you a secret? If I let myself go there, I’m worried, too.

  • I’m worried about the current social climate that allows children to opt out of watching the inauguration. Seriously? Will we also allow future generations to skip chapters of their history books if the era included people whose political and/or social platform is different from theirs?
  • I’m worried about our penchant to pull scripture out of context and quote it to suit our agenda. If you really want to hold others to Levitical law, perhaps you should go review ALL OF IT. Shellfish, anyone? How about isolating the menstruating women? Or stoning a disobedient child.
    Let’s dole out GRACE with abandon. That’s what Jesus was all about. (I didn’t say there aren’t consequences, friends, but go read it all.)
  • I’m worried about feminists who will reject a woman who wants to champion women’s rights if she doesn’t agree fully with their stance on a woman’s right to choose.
  • I’m worried about people who I know who were willing to “unfriend” me over my choice in a recent election. The rhetoric was ugly and hurtful….and shocking. I thought we were friends. Where does that sort of ill will come from? I understand your reason for your vote; I hear you and I respect you. Disagree with me if you will, but disparage me? Where are our manners?
  • I’m worried about prejudice. I hurt for my friends of color. I worry about my little grandson. What will he face as he becomes a young man of color. With his limited sight I keep having visions of him with Sally Fields and that awful scene in Places in the Heart where, in spite of his blindness, Mr. Will knew something was up and the KKK showed up for Moze. I’m in tears again as I think of the hatred and violence.

That’s the short list, friends – it just hits a few of the high points.

But I have wonderful news that will give you sweet hope; it will combine your current big old bag of lemons with some love, sugar and ice and refresh your heart.

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The lemons came to me; I didn’t plant or nurture the tree; I didn’t even pick the lemons or put them in bags. But when I got them, it was in my power to add some love and sugar and allow them to refresh and bless.

God has got all of it, friends. It’s up to us to take each day, whether the circumstances we face were of our own planting or someone else’s, and do our part to spread the love of Christ.

The question I have to answer today, and each day, is this. Where is God calling me to notice a place where I can infuse love and maybe even a little sweetness to make a difference?

Ask him, friends. I don’t think you’ll have to look beyond your home or your workplace or perhaps that neighbor who voted the other way.

Not worried, because He’s got us (I’m actually right under his wing, resting in his shadow…

lorraine

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Psalm 91:1-4

 

Modern Day Folk Tales and  The Day God Said Pizza

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Modern Day Folk Tales and  The Day God Said Pizza

I’m thrilled to welcome my cousin, Julia (always Julie to me) Brown, to the blog this week. Julie and I sat with our paternal grandmother as she read The Little Red Hen from the Golden Book illustrated by J. P. Miller, it’s lessons of responsibility and consequences gently but securely rooted in our young character. All these years later we find ourselves coming from different directions, but with the same moral burden for the children who are at risk.

She recently shared this sequel to the original tale and it resonated with me. What are we, the evangelical right doing to support the women who have chosen life. Are we pro-life or simply pro-birth?

There’s An Egg in My Barnyard

One day an out of town hen arrived in the barnyard, laid an egg, and then just left. The animals all stood around looking at the egg, trying to figure out what to do, as it was soon going to hatch.

Some of them teamed up and made signs saying “Leaving eggs in the barnyard is a sin! Immoral Hens Will Not Be Tolerated!!”. That kept them super busy and they clustered far away from the egg to discuss the bad hen’s sure descent into hell.

Some formed a club to promote the idea of each individual chicken being responsible and accountable for himself and the dependent members of his own family. They knew if that were true there would be no future eggs in the barnyard, and they were right.

But the egg still sat in the barnyard.

Some said, “Just break the egg now; that will end the problem”.

There ensued a vehement battle between animals for and against the idea, but the egg still sat in the barnyard.

Some of the animals just sat in front of the barnyard TV with remotes in hand, farting into the couch cushions and watching reality shows about slutty hens.

The Little Red Hen, whose name by the way was Elizabeth, took the egg home and sat on it. When it hatched, she taught the little chick what to do.

She loved it so it would be well adjusted and happy. She taught it right from wrong so the little chick could grow into a fine grownup chicken who would contribute to the barnyard community.

While all this was happening there were several other animals that were concerned, and could see the groups that were forming weren’t really addressing the IMMEDIATE issue of the egg in the barnyard.

For one reason or another, they weren’t able to take the little egg in, and they knew The Little Red Hen was carrying a heavy burden they should share.

So they chipped in as often as they possibly could and helped, and the little chick grew into a fine grownup chicken.

Moral of the story: There’s an egg in your barnyard; help.

THE END

Perhaps this story has you wondering about your role in the life of the egg in your barnyard. You might enjoy this post about ways to help foster families in your area.

Last week I had a Facebook message from a sweet girl who grew up with my daughter. She asked about how she might help them, in the midst of a particularly trying situation with a foster baby.

She wrote: “Hey, I keep thinking about Elizabeth and her family and I feel like God is leading me to send pizza. Pizza, seriously? My desire this year is to focus on listening and obeying so here I am…”

A few hours later, Elizabeth called with a report on the day. She casually mentioned that it would have to be a – wait for it – pizza night at their house. She was just too tired and too late returning home to cook.

Imagine the sweet friends joy when she realized that she had, in fact, heard God say “Pizza”.

By his grace caring for the eggs in my barnyard,

lorraine

 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:27

More about Julia:

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Julia Brown is a recent retiree, after having spent most of her career as an executive administrative assistant in the corporate world and the last 13 at a local police agency. In her retirement, she has arbitrarily decided she is a textile artist and has several art quilts in various stages at this writing. She lives in a 215 square foot camper in the western North Carolina mountains with her husband and her sewing machine, while they build their retirement home. She has been so moved by Lorraine’s account of her daughter’s life as a foster parent, she decided to add one more title to her name, that of foster parent advocate. While she says she can’t move mountains, she can carry a handful of sand at a time.

 

 

Sock Monkey for President

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Sock Monkey for President

I registered to vote within a week of turning eighteen. I would have done it on my birthday, but I had another event…I got married. As my mother would say, we didn’t have two nickels to rub together, so we didn’t go away on a honeymoon trip. After the wedding reception my new husband and I traveled the short distance to our single wide, fifty-foot-long mobile home. We spent the week getting better acquainted with each other (if you know what I mean) and occasionally venturing out to take care of married adult person responsibilities.

One afternoon in particular we drove to the local courthouse where I could change my legal name. I had a learner’s permit to drive and a social security card. That’s right. I was married and not yet legal to drive a car by myself. ‘Merica.

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Maine Lighthouse – Photography Credit Karen Slabaugh

I have a terrible memory. While my sister remembers our childhood in great detail, I remember the address of my only childhood home and the name of the schools I attended. I don’t even recall the names of every teacher from elementary school. But there are monumental occasions that were imprinted on my heart and therefore, my mind.

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Working  Horses on Amish Farm – Grabill, Indiana

One of those is standing at that counter with my new husband. We wanted to vote in the presidential election of 1972. It was a big deal.

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Mt. Ranier, Washington – Photography Credit Jamie Dedmon

Of course, when registering to vote, one must declare a party affiliation. We looked at each other and without any discussion, chose Republican. I would love to tell you about how we researched the tenets of the party, but the truth was that our parents were Democrats. It was about as rebellious as we ever got. ‘Merica.

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Fireworks ‘Merica – Photography Ctedit Karen Slabaugh

As it turns out, our conservative views aligned with the party for most of our forty-three years as voting citizens of the United States of America. We didn’t always vote for the Republican candidate – in the spirit of full disclosure, I was party to electing Jimmy Carter because he was a Southern Baptist. ‘Merica.

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I’ve been at this “adulting” thing for a long time and I like to believe I’ve matured It’s been a long time since I made important decisions based solely on rebellion. But it’s 2016 and this election cycle is the scariest, most absurd circus I have ever experienced. I can’t be the only one who wants to write in the sock monkey.

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I will not. I am going to be responsible and I’m going to cast a vote for the person who I am slightly less afraid of than the other. ‘Merica

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And then I will turn to the only One I absolutely trust; I will ask for mercy for myself and for our country. I will walk in faith, not fear, believing with all of my heart that He has this. His eternal plan has little to do with the Office of the President. I am a child of the King and my eternity is secure.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortresss; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
Trust in him at all times, O people, pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah.  ~ Psalm 62:5-8

Grace upon grace,

 lorraine

I Had an Out of Body Experience Last Sunday

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I Had an Out of Body Experience Last Sunday

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We were exhausted from three full days of moving and packing, but it was Sunday morning. We might have been tempted to skip church, but we had to check out of the hotel and the house was hardly relaxing, filled with moving boxes begging to be unpacked. There was also the minor detail of this being our son-in-law’s first official Sunday on staff. There was never a doubt that we would go to church.

We joined others as they came from classes and streamed from the humidity of the parking lot to the cool sanctuary. The bright room was filled with people greeting one another and settling into their seats.

We chose a spot about a third of the way from the front and our twelve-year-old grandson joined us. I finally exhaled, thankful for this pause in the midst of a very busy few days. I pulled him closer; I had to quietly admit to my Father that this grandma’s heart was anxious over all of this change and its impact, especially on my precious grandchildren.

The room was full of people who were mostly strangers to us. While the worship style was familiar and comforting, it was not what we are accustomed to.

And yet, as we sang hymns of the faith, my heart was full. I was able to set aside my mental list of tasks and goals and enter into genuine worship.

I was out of my normal “body” but it was good. It was as if God underscored his promise to prepare the way for his children.

“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you;
he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

 

Are you dealing with change today? Are there circumstances that have brought you to physical and/or mental exhaustion? Perhaps a pause, the one thing you have no time for, is the very thing you most need. Get still, and listen. Then share with me what He speaks to your heart, will you?

In need of more grace every day,

lorraine

 

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A Native’s Response to the Terror Attack on Orlando

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Olrando Skyline

Photography Credit: Jeremy Reper

I have lived in Orlando since 1956. A purist would argue that I’m not a native, but my roots run deep through the sandy soil of Central Florida.

I spent summer afternoons swimming in Lake Fairview to escape the heat of a house without air conditioning, eating grilled hot dogs at a concrete picnic table while swatting away flies.

I vividly remember the Wigwam Village Motel that once stood on the Orange Blossom Trail with its teepee shaped cottages. In those days, the roadway’s name suggested adventure and opportunity to discover new frontiers.

Charming. That is how I would describe the city where I grew from a toddler. The City Beautiful. My home town. I love this place.

Thanks to a certain mouse, my hometown has grown beyond anything I could have imagined, from just over 52,000 residents in 1956 to more than 2,000,000 today. It’s diverse; it’s teeming with professional sports teams and cultural venues. It’s not the sleepy little town of my childhood.

To the world, it’s the gateway to Disney theme parks; to people like me, it’s home. It’s the place I learned the benefits and responsibilities of citizenship.

Today my city and her surrounding communities are in mourning. Home became a target, and the unthinkable happened in our back yard.

Much like a family, we need to rally around one another, setting our differences aside. This is not the time to argue with an uncle about politics or religion or anything else, for that matter.

I have another citizenship that was impacted by the events of this past weekend.  I’m a Christian.

For Christ followers, this is a sacred moment, a call to be the Church. We stand on holy ground.

The weight of it is too much and so I pray that we will get this right:

 Our hearts are heavy, God. We cry for those who have received word of loved ones gone; we ache for those who wait still.

Remind us that you catch every tear and make note of every sorrow.
You linger with those who mourn.
Teach us to linger in the uncomfortable places.

Fill our hearts with your compassion;
give us wisdom and grace far beyond our human capacity.

We ask you, the great physician, to heal the wounded.
Show us how to lift up the arms of those who are doing the work we cannot.

Here in the home of the happiest place on earth, hundreds have no joy.
Restore in us the joy of your salvation; make us vessels of your joy
so that we may pour into the lives of the hurting.

As a community of believers,
make our feet be beautiful,
carrying your perfect love to hurting people
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Take us to the places you would go;
give us the words that you would speak
and one more thing, Lord…

You gave a donkey a voice to get the attention of Balaam; and when he finally understood your mission he said “Am I able to speak anything at all? The word that God puts in my mouth, that shall I speak.”

Let us speak only the words that you put in our mouths.

Lift up our faces that we may behold your beauty in the midst of ashes,

lorraine

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Photography Credit: Jeremy Reper