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Archive for July, 2014

cowgirl

Gentleness.

I fold my fairly drawn from a baseball hat piece of paper back up and place it in my Bible.  My husband’s newly instituted family devotion time is already proving its potential to keep me honest about my own failures. Not only that, but I’ve got a five-year old who, if I didn’t know better, could most definitely pass as the Holy Spirit incarnate.

Without reservation, every time Mommy begins to lose her patience, her temper, or even so much as her tender tone, Miss Maylee rearranges her five-year old face indignantly and asks, “Mommy, are you forgetting your gentleness?!”

“Yes.  And your sisters are forgetting their love and kindness towards each other.”

Little wonder why Daddy drew patience.  Even the Lord must lie lenient on a businessman picked to preside over a five female filled household.

We were doing a lesson on what the Bible terms “the fruit of the Spirit.”  These nine character traits are tangible evidence of God the Holy Spirit working in and out of the lives of believers.

Daddy drew patience; Mia, self-control; Addie, love; Maylee, kindness; Mom, peace; me, gentleness.

Ah, gentleness, how you elude me.  I’ll be the first to admit that this has certainly never been my strong suit.  If it were literal fruit I’m sure my gentleness might resemble more of a raisin than a grape.  For a first-class faulting finding, fact feeding, wanna-be fighter, the closest I ever come to gentleness is just being quiet.  If you don’t have anything nice to say…right.  But what is gentleness, really?

One definition describes gentleness as, “The value and quality of one’s character.  The quality of gentleness is colloquially understood to be that of kindness, consideration, and amiability.  Aristotle used it in a technical sense as the virtue that strikes the man with regard to anger: being too quick to anger is a vice, but so is being detached in a situation where anger is appropriate.  Justified and properly focused anger is named mildness or gentleness.” ~Jan Garrett

I’m an extremist.  Too quick to anger or too quiet where proper anger is appropriate.  Yep.  Sounds about right.  That’s Lori in a nutshell.

I had the pleasure of attending the Fayette County Fair with my husband, along with Little Miss Holy Spirit, and her sisters, Little Miss No Self Control and Little Miss Lack of Love.  They were climbing up a knotted rope to get to a slide.  When Little Miss Holy Spirit got to the “tippy top” (as she calls it), she decided it was the perfect time to readjust her getting-too-small-had-to-wear-them-sister’s-hand-me-down-cowgirl-boots.  Mister Growing in Patience and I watched helplessly as she nearly fell backward down onto the five climbing children behind her and metal platform below.  No casualties, though.  Thankfully, we were spared a trip to the ER by mere virtue of her fortunate ballerina balancing act.  Mister Growing in Patience got quite mad at my poor shoe choice and I did what I always do in these kind of awkward moments – as the five-year olds say, “I B-ed quiet.”

It got me to thinking…

Maybe this gentleness gig  isn’t an either/or kind of choice.  Maybe it isn’t an either flip out or say nothing kind of prerogative.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s supposed to be more like pray about what makes us angry, find a focused way to deal with it and take appropriate, albeit affectionate, action.  Balance.

All of the Christian life, practically, is about balance.  Balance.  So, I don’t know about you, but I’m putting on a pair of boots – I mean fruits – that actually fit before I try to walk the line.

” But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” ~Galatians 5:22

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cross

“I’ve been a victim of a selfish kind of love…” ~Michael Jackson

Have you ever wondered if you are part of the problem?  I have.  I was.  Listen carefully.

Fayette County.  What do you think of when you hear those words?

Fascinating history; purple mountains capped with snow in the winter, every hue in autumn, unique wildlife, and beautiful greenery in the spring and summer; opportunities to serve the less fortunate; faces who need my encouragement; great talent; natural wonders; friends; beautiful people.

I could go on.  I bet you could, too.  I know you could, in fact, because I see you shake your head.  I hear you almost everywhere I go.  You say other things, though – the things I used to say.

Obesity; welfare; ignorance; entitlement; drugs; crime; ugliness; deceit; poverty; teen pregnancy; domestic abuse; violence; fatherless children; deadbeat dads; strife; junkies; homelessness; discontentment; complaining; child abuse; hopelessness; despair; depression; wastefulness; trash; lazy people; unworthiness; bitterness; resentment.

Is there more to the story than we see?  Why, of all the places on this vast universe Our Creator could have put us, did he chose this one?  There is a reason, readers, and it is not to give us a superiority or and inferiority complex.

“Who am I to be blind pretending not to see their need?” ~Michael Jackson

In my opinion, there is exactly one problem in Fayette County.  One.  Yes, this one trumps them all.  It knows no color or class.  It infiltrates them all.  It is a problem I have had my entire life.  I am a native, after all.  That problem is properly termed “entitlement.”

Entitle: verb 1. to give (a person or thing) a title, right, or claim to something; furnish with grounds for laying claim.

Claim: verb 1. to demand by or as by virtue of a right; demand as a right or as due: to claim an estate by inheritance. 2. to assert and demand the recognition of (a right, title, possession, etc.); assert one’s right to: to claim payment for services. 3. to assert or maintain as a fact. 4. to require as due or fitting.

When a person believes she deserves more, better, faster, newer, nicer, than what she has already been so graciously given, she stalls out.   Whether that already is a dry crust of bread or a meal fit for a king, it really makes no difference.  One who cannot be content with little will scarcely ever be content with much.  Her attitude shifts with every whim.  There can be no gratitude.  No thanks can be given in exchange for good things.  That person is ever discontent.  Her glass is always half empty.  She never stops to think that she is the one who drank the other half and failed to appreciate it.  She never sees the amazing gifts that have been placed in her hands.  She is greedy.  She is spoiled.  She sees blessings as burdens.  She sees opportunities as intruders.

Oh!  How dark our lives become when we fail to look for what’s right in the world!  We cannot deny what is wrong, but we can use our positivity to help change it.  Or, we can complain.  We can grumble.  We can blameshift.  We can look down upon.  We can shake our heads and we can hate.

Fayette County, it is a choice.  No one and nothing can make you bitter, unhappy, dissatisfied, or disgusted.  Those attitudes are choices.  I know because I had them all.  They belong to the entitled.

I don’t know about you, but I want to play for the other team – the one known as “Thankful.”

Thankful.  Thankful to whom?  God.  The gospel.  Restoration.  Redemption.  Yes, redemption.  Even for a county the whole world hates.  Even for a girl who hated the whole world.

Then sings my soul! My Savior, God, to Thee!  How great Thou art!

Are you part of the problem?  I was.  And I am here to say I am so, so sorry.  I need to ask your forgiveness.  I live in a beautiful place with beautiful people who need exactly what God, in his infinite grace, just so happened to give specifically to me – a beautiful smile.  I’m never going to stop using it, Fayette County, because I love you and I love your people.  I pray the Lord will use me to give you and your children hope.

Please don’t shake your head at me.  Remember that once upon a time the God of the Universe lived in a throw away town that everyone loved to hate, too.

Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. ~John 1:44-46

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