Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Liar, Liar

With Hubby away on a trip most of the week, I was reminded of an event from about 16 summers ago. I’ve been told that lying is never justified, yet I’ve also been told it was the smart thing to do in this one particular circumstance. See what you think.

We lived in a rather secluded spot out in the country, our nearest neighbour a mile away. It was 10:30 at night and Hubby, a long haul trucker at the time, was hundreds of miles from home. I was in my nightgown, puttering around in the kitchen when I heard the dog barking and saw a vehicle outside. Our oldest son was in the shower, the younger two had gone to bed.

Watching out the boys’ bedroom window, I saw the car leave our yard, only to head down an old dead-end trail. Soon it was back, but instead of turning onto our driveway and continuing out toward the road, it pulled back into our yard, whipped around to face the house, and stopped with its headlights shining into our living room window. It appeared to me that the two guys inside were too drunk or stoned to find their way back to the road. 

I hoped our dog would intimidate them into staying inside the car, but they must have sensed she was a pushover whose most threatening maneuver might be thumping them with her wagging tail. I saw someone climb out the driver’s side and heard him swearing to his passenger. 

I decided to take the bull by the horns. Breathing a prayer for help, I opened the front door and spoke to him through the screen. 

“You lost?”

The first words out of his mouth were, “Where’s your old man tonight?”

“Sleeping,” I said. 

Inside my head, I reasoned that it was slightly possible my husband actually was sleeping. Somewhere. Without stepping out of the house, I tried to explain to the stranger how to get back out to the road, then I closed the door and prayed they’d leave. They did eventually go, and, although feeling somewhat unsettled, we were none the worse for wear.

My daughter came out of her room and said, “Good for you, Mom, for saying Dad was sleeping.” 

Oh sure, I thought. Way to go. Teach your kid to lie. Teach your kid to rely on deception instead of trusting in God. Yet everyone with whom I shared the story told me “fibbing” about my husband’s whereabouts was not only justifiable, but wise. Hmm. Maybe they’re right, and maybe not. I’m not sure. Although in the world’s eyes, I used “street smarts,” I can’t help wondering what I was really saying about where I place my confidence. 

Having asked for God’s help, perhaps it’s best to conclude that His help came in the form of a quick, confident answer on my lips, preventing trouble. In any case, taking a look at our level of faith and considering the motives behind our actions is a valuable exercise. Sure, one can analyze things to death, but it’s generally productive to evaluate, to struggle with the deeper questions.

What do you think?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

What's on your key ring?

Next week will mark seven years since I began my job at City Hall. Along with a list of administrative assistant’s responsibilities, I was given something I wasn’t expecting: a key to the mayor’s office. Little did they know what kind of twisted mind they were entrusting with that key.

Having a key to the mayor’s office on my key ring could land me in a boatload of trouble. I could do all sorts of things, from leaving a whoopee cushion on his chair to papering his walls with my newspaper column. I could stick a label on his coffee maker saying “Voice Activated” and then try to suppress my guffaws while he yells at it to start. I might even be able to plant his computer keyboard with damp cotton balls and grass seeds, then position it in the sunlight and watch the response as alfalfa begins sprouting between the keys.

So far, I’ve refrained. Though I suspect someone will be watching me more closely now.

You’re wondering what all of that has to do with Easter. 

In the days before Jesus Christ came, access to the Hebrew God was strictly limited. (Okay, so the Mayor is not God and his office is not holy. Work with me.) Only the temple priests could enter the Holy place, and only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place, and then only once a year. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest could enter to make atonement for the sins of the people. A heavy veil hung in the opening to this holy of holies. According to one Messianic Jewish Fellowship article, the veil was made using many layers of cloth. The curtains overlapped, creating a three-foot thick maze. So great was the division between God and the people.

Enter Jesus Christ of Nazareth. 

At the exact moment that Jesus died on the cross that first Good Friday, the veil to the Most Holy Place split from top to bottom, seemingly of its own accord. Those present must have felt terrified! This split signified that the barrier between man and God was destroyed forever. From that moment on, anyone who places their faith in Jesus can come into God’s presence at any time. He held the key and he opened the door. It means we can go directly to him for whatever we need. Forgiveness. Comfort. Strength. Courage. Wisdom. Healing. Eternal Life.

I was entrusted with a key to the mayor’s office because of good references and a reliable history of work experience. You could say I earned it, but I could also lose it with one irresponsible decision.

But I did absolutely nothing to earn access to God, nor can it can be taken away. It’s a gift, and a very expensive one, bought for me by the Son of God himself. Bought for you, too.

And that, friends, is what Easter is all about. Celebrate it with all the gladness and gratitude it deserves!


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Breaking My Own Rules

I have a confession to make. After publishing a column a few weeks ago about the importance of local shopping, I confess that I make an exception when it comes to which radio station I listen to most. Why? Because I am a needy person.

It’s not that I never listen to local radio. One of our hometown stations plays at work all day. Another plays in my bedroom as I dress in the mornings so I can hear the weather report and know how many layers of clothing I’ll need.

But I’m too needy for those stations.

Some days I really need courage.
Some days I need comfort.
Some days I need to know I’m not alone.
Some days I need a kick in the butt to do the right thing.
Some days I need mending for my broken heart.
Some days I need to know it will all be worth it.
Some days I need to know there’s a source of all wisdom.
Some days I need to be more compassionate.
Some days I need reminding that I am loved.

Maybe you never need those things, but I do. And songs can be powerful in pointing me in the right or wrong direction. I don’t know about you, but I have not learned how to draw hope from Blake Shelton when he sings “Man, if I have one, I have 13. And they can’t get me off the karaoke machine.” Or Tyler Shaw telling me how wicked I am when I work it out or Simple Plan’s declaration, “You don’t remember my name…but I don’t want to go to bed without you.” Or Dierks Bentley feeling free to tell a young woman whose name he doesn’t even know that she’s driving him wild in her blue jeans.

Good for her. I guess.

Too much of that and frankly, I’m just depressed.

On the other hand, when I hear words like this from FrancescaBattistelli, I’m left feeling like I’ve been touched by deep truth:

“Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine, ‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides.
And mercy’s waiting on the other side — If we’re honest… If we’re honest.”

And wouldn’t you feel more courageous, more loved, to hear the following?
“Your love, in wave after wave crashes over me…for You are for us, You are not against us,
Champion of Heaven, You made a way for all to enter in, You make me brave.  (from Amanda Cook)

Lately, these words from Lauren Daigle’s song Trust in You give me strength to face the day:
“You are my strength and comfort, You are my steady hand, You are my firm foundation; the rock on which I stand. Your ways are always higher, Your plans are always good. There’s not a place where I’ll go, You’ve not already stood.”

And wouldn’t the following words breathe new life into anyone, whether they believe in Jesus or not?
“… you’re bruised and beaten, and you feel defeated…This goes out to the heaviest heart.
Oh, to everyone who’s hit their limit: It’s not over yet, It’s not over yet. And even when you think you’re finished, it’s not over yet. Keep on fighting, out of the dark into the light. It’s not over, hope is rising, never give in, never give up…” (It’s Not Over Yet by For King and Country.)

That’s why if you climb into my car or join me while I’m working around my kitchen, you’ll almost always hear CHVNRadio out of Winnipeg. They play these and so many more life-giving songs.

And I’m just needy like that.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Psychology of Eyewear

Do you have something in your life you’re convinced you need, but which you might actually be better off without?

We’re all familiar with the idea of mind over matter and how our brains play an incredibly important part in the well-being of our bodies. Pain can actually decrease with a placebo or by merely telling the patient a pain-killer is coming. The psychological hurdles that a withdrawing drug addict must leap can be far greater than the physical. If our brains are convinced we need something, our bodies have an uncanny way of cooperating with the conviction.

Apparently, this applies to our eyes as well.

For the last eight years, any observant co-worker could easily do a Terrie impersonation simply by changing their glasses every time they leave their desk, then switching back again when they sit down. Over and over, 14 times a day. And the really sad part is, both pair are bifocals: one pair for driving distance on top and reading on the bottom, the other pair for computer distance on top and reading on the bottom. The coating on both pair is wearing off, making them appear smudged and scratched. They are no longer improving my outlook on life.

So off to the optometrist I go. He checks me over thoroughly and floors me by announcing that I could actually drive without glasses if I wanted to. No kidding? With my weaker right eye covered, he showed me how I could actually see slightly better with my naked left eye than I could with the glasses I’ve been wearing!

So why do I feel so much more confident driving with my glasses on?

Then I remembered an incident from a few weeks ago. I’d been driving around town all afternoon running errands when I suddenly noticed I’d been wearing the wrong glasses the entire time! Once I knew it, I freaked out, convinced I would plow into somebody. Before I noticed, I had done fine.

“So is it just psychological?” I asked the eye doc.

“It certainly can be,” he told me. “Like a security blanket.”

Well, this news helped me choose the kind of glasses to buy and saved me the cost of a second pair. Without having to worry about driving lenses, I could focus on one pair that would work best for the bulk of my time. They’re called “office” progressives, where the largest part of the lens will be for computer distance, a smaller bottom portion for reading, and a still smaller portion at the top so I can look across a large room and clearly see who’s there—even with my weaker right eye. If this goes like I hope, I could complete my entire shift at the office without changing glasses once! 

The next day, I marched down to MPI and sure enough, passed their eye test without glasses. They removed the “corrective lenses required” restriction from my license on the spot. Then I dutifully put my glasses back on and drove away. 

Which didn’t dawn on me until hours later when I sat down to write this post. 

The new glasses should be ready in a week. Actually parting with my security blanket glasses might take a smidge longer.