A Frog Eats Flies: Must I Cut It Open To Find Out Why?

A frog eye in its protruding eye socket, close up.

Image via Wikipedia

How long must I play these games? I stared into the fire. How many moments must I bring them up in conversations, analyzing the past, dissecting it like a frog to see why it croaks or eats flies? I know it croaks and I know it eats flies and there’s no reason to cut it open to see the inside workings except for the ‘why’ questions. The hurt that begs for the answers make me go through this part of my healing journey.

I played those games growing up. The imaginary conversations and confrontations continued throughout all of my childhood and into adulthood with a father faint in memory. A father who was absent and not around to defend himself. Now I play these games for different reasons and I wonder when I can stop asking the questions. I am not angry, but I still wonder, and wander down those zig-zag paths through hurtful childhood and adult memories. I have tried to discern fact from the fiction that I have been served and cutting open the frog only yields more questions even in the answers that I have found; even in the peace I have discovered; and the Father in Heaven who is enough.

I suppose it’s normal to wonder and ask and go down these paths. This time there’s no anger in the wondering, but a natural curiosity to discover the roots of the behavior. As a writer I think too hard and too much. As a broken person, I know my past can help someone else put aside the knife that yearns to cut the frog and in the experiment see why it croaks and eats flies.

Everyone will always have an opinion with how you should deal with your grief, loss, or anger. Some might be right. Many will be wrong. Not everyone will understand the journey. Do you ask questions still? Do you grieve over loss associated with a broken family? What’s it been like for you? How has God helped you?

How To Be A Good Salesman

HatsMinneapolis20June1949

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The dog barks frantically and runs to the door. The doorbell crows…literally. It’s probably R. He’s always borrowing my husband’s tools. R’s wife sends her kids over sometimes with a plateful of homemade cookies (which I never refuse). I am a little irritated.

The animals were fed. I considered changing into my pajamas and decided to enjoy the feel of my new size-12 pants a little longer. The dishwasher hums in the kitchen. I should start dinner.

“We’re not salesmen.” The man with the shark grin stood outside my security screen.

Lie #1.

“I noticed a ding on your windshield.” He goes on to talk about, or rather push, for a total windshield replacement.

My instincts say to graciously refuse, shut the door, and turn the lock. I had been procrastinating on getting that ding in my windshield repaired for six months. My husband stopped asking me after a while. My reason for procrastinating: I hate talking on the phone.

In spite of the warning signs, I walk outside and begin the process. His eye lids are heavy, strange, and he seems overly energized and aggressive. At one point, he snaps at the insurance claims girl on the phone attempting to accuse her in order to manipulate the conversation and push his agenda. I look at the smaller than a penny ding and wonder if getting the entire windshield replaced is right.

He sees my expression after rudely bullying the girl on the phone. “I’m sorry. It’s just that I’ve done this before. The insurance companies try stuff.” The apology is to me, not to the girl. His honeyed words try to say, I am on the side of the little guy against the big, bad insurance companies.

It is my turn to speak to the girl. As I confirm my information, I work on an encouraging tone for this girl who has to deal with this salesman and others like him. She works for my insurance company and I like my insurance company. I remember what it’s like to sit on the other side and listen to guys like that one.

“We’ll replace it all on Friday.” He pushes.

“No. We’re going out of town on Friday. It’ll have to wait until Wednesday.” My husband has just arrived home from work and he stands with me as if guarding me from the shark that now leans on my car. My husband wears a stone face. He wants to go inside, rest and eat.

I feel regret and consider canceling the whole process, but it’s all ready ¾ of the way through.

Shark Man talks fast, barely taking a breath, and flashing that shark grin at me. “Wednesday, then.”

“No—Friday.” My husband repeats. He has to repeat this twice; then, a third time.

“Call me when they have done the inspection for the windshield replacement.” He hands me his double sided, shiny business card, as shiny as his shark grin and as double sided as his smooth explanations.

“Okay.” I feel amused, annoyed, and doubtful.

The next morning I deal with the insurance inspection and the appointment is made for the following Wednesday, (to my relief) minus having to deal with the Shark Man.

Shark Man calls me on my lunch. “I thought we agreed for a windshield replacement?”

“I’m content with how things went and with the repair.” I answer cheerfully.

He interrupts my lunch and the peace I feel as I sip my coffee and eat my bagel. Serious doubts crawl into my soul and a strong urge sweeps through me to cancel this job with his company. Why is he in a hurry to get the job done and why a complete replacement for a small ding?

He repeats his demand. “But yesterday. We agreed. These insurance companies always try to do the cheapest thing.”

He doesn’t stop. He talks faster in broken sentences and I can feel his anger building. He keeps pressing me into a corner and my eyes are rolling. My lips stretch into a thin line and I am about to hang up on him.

He saves me the trouble and suddenly I am no longer talking to him. I try to return to my book, but I feel the need to cancel the job quickly. I leave a message for my agent. She calls me and I cancel the job. She arranges for another company to handle it.

I email my insurance claims center and praise the phone person for handling Shark Man with such sweetness of spirit. I don’t know if she will get the message, but I pray she found other encouragement that day from her friends and co-workers or a husband at home who will cover her tears with his hug. I pray, too, for Shark Man. Looking at him through the lens of God I see a man, tired and disappointed, who only sees people as dollar signs. I think he carries great burdens on his shoulders. He needs to see God to be a good salesman or to be a human being.

 Whether it’s the IRS, the bank, or what-not every person deserves to be treated like a human being—like someone precious in God’s sight. Has someone on the other end of the phone irritated you? How did you treat them? Has a door-to-door salesperson ever treated you dishonestly and did you see him through God’s eyes? How did you handle it?


FaithBarista_FreshJamBadgeG

Tag–You’re It!

[Hitterdals Church, Telemarken (i.e, Telemark)...

Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Matthew 5:46-48 (God’s high ideal of perfect love, v. 48)

Jesus spent so much time in the Bible talking about how to love one another that the responsibility falls upon us to seek out unbelievers and believers in a church. In looking up Love in the back of my Bible, it covered an entire page of scripture references. If a church isn’t friendly, who is at fault? Not the church staff or the pastors or the congregation, it’s YOU.

I have walls. Others have walls. If we wait for someone else to be friendly, we cease to show love. There are broken hearts behind the smiles at church and broken families. It takes a lot of courage for me to approach a stranger just to say hello because of my walls. Sometimes, I go home discouraged because I failed to seek out a new person. Every Sunday it is an effort to move beyond my walls, but I do it because of one person who showed me how to be that kind of Christian. Her name is Gwen and she was the pastor’s wife. On my first day at FBC Prescott, she approached me and sat with me throughout the service. She won my heart as did the rest of the congregation over time. It’s been my home ever since that first day. It’s where I got married. It’s now where I work.

Walls take time to build and even more time to knock down. Expecting someone else to make the first move becomes unrealistic and you’ll spend a lot of time with the back wall as people move about you. Take that first step, and then another step and extend your love to a person who may need it that day.

Do you hug the wall? Have you left a church because it was unfriendly?

Have you been afraid to approach someone because it appears that they are unapproachable?

What Does Fair Have To Do With It?

The Bible speaks about how Christians will endure trials and persecutions.  It speaks about how the sun will rise on the righteous and the unrighteous.  I understand and fully accept that our lot in life will be difficult.  Our Father will provide for our needs, but it’s still frustrating.

We strive to make good choices with our finances and in our life, and though the temptation is there to take short cuts or to give up and go with what the world would have us do, my husband and I persevere.  Yet, this is what I’ve seen:

  • A single parent on welfare so she can go to school.
  • A welfare participant buying loads of things that we can’t afford to include in our budget, eating better than us.
  • On welfare because a person has continued to make irresponsible financial choices.
  • Prejudice towards the wealthy.
  • An entitlement attitude that turns into anger when their lifestyle can’t be supported by the government.
  • Anger when help is refused because of abuse of the system.
  • Paying outrageous amounts every year for taxes.  No refund.

What other people have seen:

  • An application given out with automatic job interviews, but no one fills them out or goes to the interview.
  • A welfare lady buying loads of food with her card and bringing them to a $30,000 vehicle in the parking lot.

Gas prices will rise.  Groceries will rise.  It’s inevitable.

Tony, in his frustration, often says, “It’s not fair.  We live responsibly and yet irresponsible behavior is awarded.”

I kiss him and wrap my arms around him and say, “But we’re not living for the world.”

Read Star Parker’s Uncle Sam’s Plantation if you don’t agree with what I’ve written.


Mooooove!

A cow [15/365]

Image by publicenergy via Flickr

At the four-way stop, I cross one crosswalk, and then turning, cross another.  There are vehicles waiting behind each stop sign.  As I am crossing for the last time, a large vehicle begins to crawl forward jutting out into the intersection and effectively blocking all traffic.  He inches forward a little at a time, getting closer to me, and I bite my lip to keep from glaring at him.

How many times have I sat behind that stop sign and watched in frustration as my route became blocked by a driver waiting for a pedestrian to cross?  I can’t understand their hurry.  You wait behind the stop sign while the pedestrian crosses, then you proceed.  This in turn gives other vehicles an exit whose way is clear.  If a pedestrian crosses, it’s not your turn.

I interpreted that person’s actions to say, “I’m more important.  What I have to do is more important.  I deserve to be first. You have to wait until I make the turn.  This pedestrian better move out of my way.” The vehicle drove on the wake of my heels down the road.  I turned my head and stared at his retreating taillights.  The things the human side of me wishes it could do in retaliation for the affront parades through my imagination, but the Christian side of me manages to put out the fire.

They know not what they do.

 

I repeat this ten times in my head.

They know not what they do.

 

Were they raised in a barn?

When Honey Spills…

A jar of honey with honey dipper

Image via Wikipedia

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

Honey drips off the spoon, slow like molasses, and most of it makes it into my tea, except for a few strands that plaster to the sides of the cup and on the counter.  I buy organic honey.  It’s thicker and more flavorful, but also stickier.  If you spill honey, it’s difficult to get it off without some serious scrubbing.  Negativity is like that, too.

“I can’t” is more powerful than the strongest weapon.  When one person says “I can’t _______,” it brings down everyone within hearing distance. “I can’t” can add years to your life.  It sucks the energy and life from the person saying it and the person hearing it.  It’s important to watch your words.  Your words and attitude affect other people.

I get sloppy sometimes with my honey.  I may not even see where it falls if it misses the tea cup, but my husband points it out.  He says it stains the counter.  Occasionally, I get sloppy, too, and say or do the wrong thing, but if it brings down my friends, my husband, or my family I know it.  It’s worth the fight to change it.

Do you use the words, “I can’t?”

What is…What’s that word? Blogging?

Writing

Image via Wikipedia

 

There are over 300,000 blogs just on WordPress.  Everyone has an opinion no matter how well or poorly written.  Everyone has something to say.  My blogging journey stumbled in the beginning.  I broke a few rules.  My posts darted all over the place.  Then, I began complaining about people on my blog.  I used blogging as a way to resolve an argument.  It’s amazing what you learn when you go through three years worth of blogs and discover that not only have you grown spiritually, but your blogging has grown, too.

Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas-Nelson Publishers, said this about blogging:

“But I finally clicked on the Unsubscribe button. I’ve had enough.  Why? It’s likely for one of these six reasons:

  1. Your titles make me yawn. Look, I am scanning a couple hundred blog posts and news items a day. If your title doesn’t pull me into the content, what will? You need to spend as much time on the headline as you do the article. Don’t be cute; tempt me.
  2. Your posts are boring. I have tried to be interested. Really, I have. But you don’t use any stories, illustrations, or metaphors. Your prose is preachy and didactic. And dry as dust. You’re making my eyes glaze over.
  3. You posts are too infrequent. You haven’t posted in weeks. Or months. Like so many would-be bloggers, you started well, but you quit too early. I’m sure you have legitimate reasons, but I am tired of waiting. Nobody cares. Post or perish.
  4. Your posts are too long. I know you want to do the topic justice. Prove your point. Consider every aspect. Answer the critics. And leave no stone unturned. But, honestly, you are wearing me out. If I want to read a book, I’ll buy one. You’re supposed to be writing a blog. A good rule of thumb? No more that 500 words.
  5. Your posts are too unfocused. One day you’re blogging on this. The next day you are blogging on that. What is your blog about? Please remind me, because I am lost in the forrest of your eclectic interests. You’re not a renaissance man (or woman). You are undisciplined.
  6. You don’t participate in the conversation. You either don’t allow comments or don’t participate in them. You’re posts are hit-and-run. You come into the room, make your little speech, and leave the building. I’m sorry, but that is so last-century. You’re not that important.”

 

What Blogs to Expect For 2011:

  1. Book Reviews
  2. Blog Tours
  3. Interviews of Authors
  4. Personal Journals
  5. Occasionally, Politics
  6. Bible Study
  7. Devotions
  8. History

You can read about my mission statement here.

Blogs I Unsubscribe To:

  1. Blogs With Swear Words
  2. Liberals Who Are Too Far Left
  3. Blogs That Rant Most of the Time (a little ranting is okay)
  4. Blogs Whose Content Focuses mainly On “Email-Forward Like” Material and nothing relevant or mind stirring.