Sunday, October 2, 2016

Good People...

Good ?
by Nina B.

I have a confession to make... Well, not really a confession, but something to share about myself: While in my car, I listen to Christian music - usually praise and encouraging music, loudly,  really loud - probably damaging my eardrums. In the little old lady car that I bought used last year, to my surprise, I have what's called a sub woofer, (it’s a system that makes the bass of a song “more”. This is why young folks love such devices). Seth, my youngest son, saw it and asked for it - I didn't know what it was, however, the mechanic, explained that it was factory installed and wouldn't be worth it to take it out. So, Seth and his friend, Jose, installed one in his car, (thanks to his graduation gifts). However, when I discovered the wonders of this "amplifying" device, I decided I would be the neighborhood DJ and share Jesus in a very passive/aggressive way. :-) I'm not obnoxious, but I do lower my windows when the spirit moves me and I crank up the volume and make my windows vibrate, (sometimes - not all the times). Fernando Ortega's "Kyrie Eleison", (see September's blog), would not sound classic at all with the bass this monster in my trunk produces. However, with Toby Mac's "Move-Keep Walkin' "... You get my point.

Now, most people who know me would never dream that I would do such a thing, not that I think it’s a bad thing, (I play Kirk Franklin’s “Smile” and “My Life is in Your Hands” and Ginny Owens “If You Want Me To”, Hillary Scott’s “Thy Will Be Done”, For King & Country “Priceless”, (I play this when I see folks “advertising”), and so much more...) . It’s just something that I do to plant seeds for Jesus. Some may call it being obnoxious - actually, not so much because of the tempo, or the loudness, but sadly, because it’s music talking about Jesus. People don’t like Jesus these days. BUT, I dare to do what I do, because folks on the street turn around and see this short, little Black lady, driving a grandma car and hear the music, feel the bass and don’t say anything. See passive-aggressive.

Good or bad?

I think these are end times, (like tribulation is just around the corner folks and hell is... well, hell; and eternal-forever - Jesus does not what anyone to perish, but some folks are certainly hell-bent, so we all should do our part to at least plant a seed), so whatever works to get the WORD out there works for me.

Some folks would say and have said, “Oh Nina, you are so good” look what you do. They look at what has been my life and say, “You are so good…”. Which is kinda funny/odd, to equate trials and hardships and a butt-load of @#*x!, with being "good", because I didn’t go crazy and hate and do other stuff. See, I don’t think that makes me “good” it makes GOD good and in control, because if He were not; bad would so rule in my life.

But still, this notion of “good” is crazy, because folks in a lot of our churches, (I attend four), have the mindset that they are “good”. However, “And Jesus said to him, Why call you me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.” Luke 18:19 and likewise in Mark 10:18. Isaiah 64:6 says, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (That's a direct quote folks). We get wrapped up and carried away in the crazy belief of our “goodness”... when we aren’t really "good" at all.

So what is my point? 

Christians, seemingly seasoned in their walk, claim to be “good”. They talk about being “good” as if it were a balm to sooth any doubts. They surround themselves with “good” people and tell each other of their “goodness”, when really “ one is good…”.

Tony Evans of the Urban Alternative spoke of sin - the not "good", in terms of roaches in our houses. He questioned his congregation about wanting baby roaches in one’s house. Of course, no one wants baby roaches in their house. Then he asked if anyone wanted winged roaches in their houses, because they’re “special”. Again, no one wanted these pest - no matter how special. Lastly, he asked what about large roaches, because they were full size and adult and more wise roaches and had survived much - still no takers. This is the case with God and Heaven. God will not tolerate any sin in his House! Not one!

Now, while we run around thinking how “good” we are; shouldn’t we be thinking twice and putting on Christ and exclaiming loudly how "GOOD" He is! Not claiming any works we do as our accomplishments, but solely the work of the Holy Spirit, when we get ourselves out of the way? Shouldn’t we be bowing on our knees before the altar, repenting of our sins during the confession and absolution - not hurriedly pausing for 5 fricken seconds for the “silence for reflection on God’s Word and for self-examination”. See within our churches we perpetuate the belief that we are “good” because we don’t ever give a thought to repent before God even when there’s time during the service set aside to do just that - REPENT! Because we are all so “good”.

Or is the thought of not being “good” bad? Or so bothersome and antiquated that we don’t give repentance a passing thought because we’re so “good”.

Since, I have gone through some life changing events - I sit on the sidelines and think - a lot. I look at people too. I look at myself, my life… I live too much in the land of regret and what if’s. I don’t talk much with people.
ASIDE sorta
Especially, since my Mondays through Fridays are filled with 6-8 graders - I do not talk with children - I am their teacher, which means I often use most of my weekly words for instructional purposes - I’m worn out by the weekends and just don’t have it in me to converse with adults - were there adults to converse with - there are not… I have friends, but I don’t chat - I text or email, my written verbiage is often more readily prolific than my spoken, (you’ve read these blogs ;-/) - my friends understand, likewise, with my family, although, my sister Jackie does get upset that I don’t “TALK” with her - she is not a texter).
When I see people, I wonder, how many think they are “good” and without sin, because they are “good”. They attend church - even regularly, they sit on boards and decide “things” for the church and maintain the church and make everyone feel “good”. They don’t think twice about their gossip, their inner thoughts about “things” that truly only God knows, (has He been bugging you about those thoughts? ... and you’ve been ignoring HIM?!), about the attitudes, the haughtiness, the back stabbing at work, the cheating on your taxes, the cheating on your spouse when your eyes lingered…, and when was the last time you did anything with your elderly parent, or is that what you expect your sibling to handle?

Folks, I drop my stone and walk away too, for I am not without sin. I am not a good person. Why did you think I drive to and from work when no one else is on the road? And I don’t complain to you all, but there are others out there who are more than happy to feed me my poison… And there are the days I just don’t like some people and I have to ask Jesus to help me love them - which is why I live where I do - it is by God’s design or humor.

Me: I don’t think it’s so funny God!

God: “Okay!”

Me: “Sigh”

God: “Check the tude, Nina!”

me: … check

Bottom line: God is NOT CONTENT that we should stay where we are - supposing that we are “good”. Philippians 1:6  Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ…" God is doing the "good" work on and in us. It’s like when a woman goes to the salon for a new hairdo. The hairdresser is working the magic. Her comb becomes a magic wand and poof - new do. What hairdresser would tolerate a woman taking the comb saying, “No do it this way…” Especially, if it were an experienced, licensed expert hairdresser!

Let God be God. Repent - your job. Put on Christ, (this means receive His gift of His life for yours) and give ALL the glory to God.

Soli Deo Gloria
Nina B.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Why We Say We're "Fine", When We're Not

Why We Say We’re “Fine” When We’re Not
By Nina B. 8/11- 9/20

On an early morning walk...
Going through some pretty traumatic stuff has made me temper what I say to people, particularly when asked, “Oh, how are you doing?”.


I’m usually a private person.
Those who don’t know me well assume life is as good as a slice of bread with jam. Very few can tell that I’m not ok, and usually it’s a guess based upon how they would react in my circumstances.

I’m fine...

But first: Why lie?

I don’t want to burden the listener.
I don’t believe they really care - they are merely being polite and I am politely responding in turn, because that’s what polite people do for one another - we make each other feel “fine”.
I don’t trust them to do what is truly needful; mainly because, they can’t. They are ill equipped, even if it’s just sitting with me,...
The listener, unwittingly, sometimes, makes poor choices, and ends up trying to help in ways that only makes matters worse...
… Or they go about telling others because it’s “news” - which it is, but not necessarily to be shared that way.
You say, “fine” because you don’t want to hear them give you a run down of their history, and hear them talk about situations that have nothing to do with yours, because they seem to want to “identify” with you. (Stop it! - you and they are not the same).
I want to nurse my wounds by myself - the hurt is too deep and I sit on the sidelines of life and mourn over the cuts, the scratches, the boo boos of life, like a dog that licks its cut from the unseen broken bottle that it stepped on as it ran through the grass…
It’s easy - I think this is why some people stand on the sides of roads asking for handouts. It’s easy for those passing by to throw a few coins in the dirty plastic cup, than it is to find out what brought this person to these circumstances. For example do you ever wonder,... When they were eight years old, did they dream and plan, that by age 37 they would be without a place to call home, sleep on cardboard with a flea infested, dirt stained, ragged quilt and reek of urine....
You just don’t know what to say. Truly, how do you explain what has happened when it’s something so ugly. Ugly usually repels people - even the nicest and well intentioned of them. Plus, why do you want to re-live telling each individual person the ugly details… It’s like putting a bandaid on a wound and then ripping it off just as it begins to heal.

When you respond with “Fine”, you get “the pass”. You’re okay and so are they. :-)

Second: Why do they accept the response of “Fine”?

(Now read this carefully): You don’t have to be identified, nor do you want to be associated with their problems - which is part of the problem - we are fearful of seeing ourselves,... We are fearful of somehow, their pain rubbing off on us, like the flu or worse yet discovering that we are a “carrier” of the “Not so fine”, and so we have to do something with our actions or reactions, because you are the problem.
We tell ourselves they want to be left alone. I/We tell ourselves, ‘...This is surely a private concern… I would be intruding…’
Their problem is way outta my league - I’m not a professional. I just haven’t a clue about how to respond, so nothing is probably best...
We want to pretend. I swear this is why I whiz through my uncle’s nursing home. I am Miss Cheer-ie and I smile and I walk fast and I click my heels three times till I’m safely on the other side of the door, where I am yet younger than they… Because I want to pretend, I’m not getting older, I’m not getting old like them - so everyone is always fine in the nursing home, right down to the old woman with the vein gnarled hand whispering to anyone who passes by to get her out of there. We want to pretend all is well, because that makes it true - right? Wrong!
We don’t have the time…
It’s the script of life according to mankind… Who wrote this life?
It’s cost effective - we don’t have to do anything
People would rather believe a lie, rather than the truth. Sometimes good meaning people will go as far to say, “Oh it can’t be that bad...:” And then they proceed to tell you all the reasons why it’s not as bad as you’re saying, working really hard to convince you, that you’re wrong and they’re right… See, better off saying, “...oh just fine..”.

Third: So what do you do, when you know, fine is not really fine? (DISCLAIMER: Folks these are not the opinions of experts. In fact all that I write, is just my opinion. (Actually, even in the news media, they try to sway you to think one way - their way - See? My opinion!), You don’t have to do things according to Nina, but might I suggest that you do so according to Jesus).

Consider praying especially when you have an inkling something isn’t “fine”.
Acknowledge what has happened that isn’t “fine”.
When I ask someone how they feel, I mentally prepare myself for the response and ask myself, ‘Do you have the time to invest in this person, to sit, to offer a hand… to stay in contact, to check do what they need?’

Be open/available for what God might do through you, for them, for you, (the side benefit of being available).

Kyrie Eleison

Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words Or July 20, 20/16
By Nina B

This day – July 20, 2016 – will go down in infamy…
FDR said, “A date which will live in infamy”. He said this in referencing the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. Infamy means something bad happened – really bad. Sometimes, some people on the outside of infamy; don’t even realize that something you once had is gone, as you go about your day, your life, numb, limp, empty; while others all about you seem to be so utterly unaware. They, laugh, cry, kiss and make up, talk nonsense, argue senselessly with one another about foolishness, hug, skip, run, walk, sleep, get sick, fall down, plot evil, text, seek love, stuff their mouths, dream… all the while you s c r e a m…
S T O P !!!
You just want the world to
something really bad
Sometimes the world does stop for horrendous, evil, happenings – sometimes. A country shooting down passenger planes, the assassination of a president and later his brother, the Twin Towers in New York on 9/11, the kidnapping of young girls to be used as slaves by Boko Haram, the killing of people on Bastille Day in France, the shooting of Blacks while driving, the killing of police officers in Dallas, the shooting of a Black Behavior Therapist with his confused, autistic client. I could go on and on, but the world hardly ever takes notice of our personal days of infamy…
When my father died and I was supposed to go to the coffin, where he laid, to see him one last time, dead in his coffin. I was one of the last ones to go up. I couldn’t go. I wouldn’t go. I screamed. I wanted the world to…
…but it didn’t.
It tugged and pulled at me to put my grief aside. I was only nine – not even quite ten, and the world expected so much of me…
I was supposed to keep going…
I was supposed to keep going the day I lost my innocence at twelve – talk about screaming for the world to see the evil done to me – but it didn’t. It didn’t even notice me. They couldn’t understand my shame, my guilt, my cries for help… I just wanted to hide.
My screaming just wasn’t loud enough to be heard. So, I kept g o i n g ... on empty,
Until I meet true love…
A promise spoken before our families, our friends of “till death us do part” – and six
children later – and thirty-five years of ups and downs and valleys and mountaintops and dark and light and downs, and dark, and ups and downs, deeper valleys, and settling in the valley, and making lemonade because life handed out lemons, so many bitter, sour lemons… and then light. A flash of light, a promise remembered… but, I was the only one who saw the light, who had the hope, who when you’re faced with everything wrong, yet hoped against the odds because, we made a promise. I made a promise… and my promise was…
Lied to.
Subject to cancellation.
A nightmare.
Lost it’s rhythm.
Had become one sided.
Thrown to the floor, dashed, CRASHED, totally obliterated,

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We were broken, but together – I thought – but I  g u e s s   n o t !
Today is another day that is for the annuals of my history, a day that will live in my infamy. No one else will be affected quite like me. Family and friends surely will be moved, but not permanently, extended folk won’t give much of this day a passing thought. Strangers won’t bat an eye, miss a beat, hear the cry, the scream to just S T O P.
Hey everyone, an era has come to an end... Shouldn’t we pause, for a moment of silence? It’s so somber. Will you mark the calendar for what happened? Will you remember it next year and offer to buy me a drink – no, I probably wont drink then either.
I go for walks or run errands and I see couples everywhere. It’s like when you buy a new/used car, and you see that car everywhere –the same make and model that you just brought… You just see that car everywhere. It’s like that when you long for something. I see old couples, cute couples who can’t keep their hands off one another, holding hands couples, men holding their wife’s handbag couples, middle aged couples, young couples, mixed race couples, oddly matched couples… happy, smiling, together couples… I just see them everywhere.
I still would like the world to stop. I would like my life’s partner, my other half, my
The empty dining room
helpmate, my husband; to stop his escapades long enough to see what havoc he has spawned.
I fall asleep, then I wake a few hours later just to find I am still here, in my new norm – not at home. There are new norms, there’s a movement through time and space without much thought of “next”, there’s little anticipation for the future – not yet, the wound goes so deep…
Dude, how do you so easily trash 35 years of living, 37 if you count the courtship?
For those of you not knowing this experience, divorce, (I hope you never do) – its closet ally is death, an untimely death, a “I didn’t see that one coming” – even with all the inconsistencies because - Love is blind, (this is why we are so willing to look the other way when truth is screaming so undeniably in our faces of what is right and what is wrong – we say to ourselves, "it cannot be true… because,  Iloveyou ”, but one sided love is never enough) . Love hopes all things, (Surely he will return, surely he will come to his senses and see reason – but see reason from whose perspective?, Whose reality?...). Love bears all things, (Is it love when someone gets stuck with the proverbial bag – the bag that never should have been unloaded – the bag that was a truck load of… to be crushed under the weight of bearing it all). Love sacrifices… Which means there are gashes, bruises,
cuts, tears, … wounds, that go so deep into the heart that no one will ever, e v e r  understand – it’s the sacrifice that takes the life out of living, the joy, the taste of food, the satisfaction of completion, the anticipation of the night, the touch of love, the reason for going forward… were it not for my God…

…God has the corner on that market of sacrifice. He sacrificed His son, Jesus, for a creation created in His image – who gives no thought, no idea, no care, nada, to what He did – for love, for hope. Does God’s heart break? All the time. But He knows the end of the story. He knows your last breathe, your last cry…
You see all that we do in this life is in actuality preparation for death so that we can have life. We exist to die to be birthed into life… And I realize right now, that I just lost so many of you, (read that dust laden book call the Bible).
Thank you, Jesus; You gave us something more than this life.
Do you really think this life is all that and a bag of chips? Just T H  I N K ! for a moment – this life sucks! But there is more to it if you just read The Book! God’s letter to you, so that you can have life.
You think I’ve gone over the edge – hardly. I’ve landed squarely on my feet and I am standing solely by the grace of my Heavenly Father, Whose hand I can N E V E R fall out of, nor run away from, Who holds every tear I’ve ever wept, Who has heard every scream I’ve cried.
I have never been better - because I am not alone - never was - never will be.
Can you say the same?
Soli Deo Gloria
Nina B. :-)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Pathways by Nina

Sunrise by God, photographed by me
 Waking early in the morning these days, (summer vacation days), I walk down by the lake. It seems so strange to call it simply a lake. I can't see the other side and when I look across the expanse it seems to go on and on forever

Waking and walking early in the morning with my Lord, (although He's not the one sleeping), gives me new life, strength, to get through another day. I listen to praise music, hymns, anything that speaks of God

I walk six days a week nearly five miles round trip. I see only about a dozen or so other folks, who brave the wee early hours to walk, run, sit and write, walk dogs, jump about, sketch, there's a woman who sings in what sounds like Korean. I wonder how many are like me, contemplating life's direction, the next step, or simply the next thing. Still, each new gift of a new day finds me on my same routine. 
Garbage by mankind, pic by me

Walking on Saturday or Monday mornings though I have found to be the worse. The parks would have been visited by partiers, or athletes competing in games; all leaving a little bit of themselves behind, their mark at the park; from the weekend. The garbage cans are full to overflowing and if things could be worse, the fields are littered with plastic water bottles and trash of all sorts. The smells are gagging. There is no going around or away from the smell or the trash - unless you remain at home. The trash is everywhere as well as the stench - to walk around would be too much of a detour. It could be done but too much time would be consumed and accomplishes very little, other than lengthening the walk, as the temperature rises.The garbage containers line the pathway - making it easy for the trash to make it's way into them, but some folks don't care. They throw their trash at the receptacles which sometimes lands on the path and that's the extent of their effort and it sinks! I suppose this is better than leaving the trash where it's made and scattered everywhere - but it is already. 

Scene by God, messed up by mankind. Pic by me
I've considered cleaning things myself - but I would never make it home - it's so much to clean up and thankfully there are park maintenance staff who come eventually to clean - just not at 5:30-6:00 in the morning. So, I walk through the smell and the unsightliness. My goal is set every morning. I have a predetermined course and I won't be deterred, especially on my return trip home. I'm tired, hot, achy and I just want to get home after power walking half my stint. No matter how bad the smell, or how tired I am, my goal, once I reach Montrose Street Harbor, is to get home.

That's the way life seems to be on our way to Heaven. It's exhausting to put it mildly, not to mention smelly and often not so pleasant, but we're not alone in the journey along the pathway, like that poem "Footsteps" suggest; we're carried [a lot] along the way by Jesus. He knows our direction/our goal and if we let Him, (this sounds crazy - 'if we let' the Son of God... But, He is a gentleman like that. He allows us to take the lead if we want to - this is called, free will). However, Jesus can do just that - direct and lead, if we let Him. He walks with us through the stench and unsightliness of life, (God does not always remove the stench and unsightliness, a.k.a. the pain, the hurt-in this too, there is purpose - His purpose). Jesus doesn't turn away or leave us hanging. He goes the distance till the end, all for the purpose of getting us Home - Heaven.

Ginny Owens - "If you Want Me to"

Soli Deo Gloria,