Soapbox: Deserve

 

Soapbox_ Deserve

Image from Pixabay, edits by me.

 

I seem to be in a bit of a soapbox mood, but I promise I’ll get back to my Lessons from Being Sick soon. (Previous soapbox, and Lessons from Being Sick)

Right now, we tend to banter around the idea of ‘deserving it’. Something good happens in your life and all your friends pat you on the back and say, “You deserve it”. A dream comes true, a magical vacation is taken, a promotion, a gift, or just me-time happens and we deserve it. Yes, we all have to take time to semi-re-center ourselves. Sometimes we give and give and give and give until our bodies just shut down. It helps if you can see the signs of that happening and take a few hours or even a day to regroup so that you can go back to serving others. But, do you deserve it? Have you really gone above and beyond what everyone else is doing in such a way as to deserve it? Are you truly and purely worthy of being spoiled, by yourself or by others?

Have you ever stopped to wonder about that?

Have you ever stopped to notice the selfish and sometimes stupid things we do because ‘we deserve it’?

What about the other side of the coin? We never think about the fact that if you have earned this reward, this promotion, this dream come true, or this me-time, then you can un-earn it. If you deserve it now, you could not deserve it tomorrow. You can deserve that new handbag today…don’t ask me how that works, you deserve a handbag? …and then not deserve it tomorrow.

We are so quick to pat ourselves on the back for all our hard work, but we don’t ever talk being lazy and deserving poverty. We don’t talk about deserving health issue because we refuse to say no to upsizing our drinks and taking a walk. We don’t talk about deserving problems in schools because we refuse to teach our children self-control. We don’t like deserving negative things. We’re super happy and agreeable with deserving days off, expensive treats, massages, and diet-cheat days, but we’re not happy with deserving the consequences of our sins.

See, only one human being has ever lived perfectly enough to be worthy, to deserve, anything nice. Only one person live the life that earned him…well, life. And he chose to take on death for us…the unworthy. Because, honestly, I’m not worthy and don’t deserve to see my dream of being a homemaker come true. I don’t deserve to have my health in an upswing. I don’t deserve to have a husband who is loving and kind. I don’t deserve to live in the 21st century where I can sit on my back porch on a not so hot summer day and write this article. I don’t deserve the grass, trees, and plants that surround me. These are all of grace. My whole life is grace upon grace upon grace.

Do you want to get rid of entitlement? Teach children thankfulness. Teach them that it is a mercy, a grace, a debt that can’t be paid to be born in the USA. Teach your children, and develop in yourself a heart of thankfulness. Take a moment to be thankful for what you do have and stop worrying about what you don’t. Take a moment to consider your own sinfulness. Think about how selfish you are, and then be thankful for the grace that has been shown to you. Instead of thinking of all the good things you think you’ve earned, think about all the judgement that should rightly sit on your shoulders. Tremble at the thought that if you did truly earn some blessing, then you can just as quickly un-earn it.

Believers will stand out more and more as the world spirals.

Image from Pixabay, edits by me.

We need to get our heads out of the entitlement game, out of the self-deserving game, and start thinking about grace and thankfulness. Next time you buy a new shirt, game, book, bag or whatever it is, don’t think to yourself that you’ve earned this and this is why you should get it. Think to yourself that you haven’t earned it. It’s a gift. A gift to someone who doesn’t deserve a thing.

And remember, the only one, Jesus Christ, who did deserve and was worthy of every beautiful thing in this world, gave it all up. He set his ‘worthiness’ on the altar of sacrifice for us, his saints.  He set aside everything that was his right, that he did deserve, that he had earned, that was his privilege, to take on everything that wasn’t. He took on all the rights of death and punishment, the only things we had earned, that are our true rights. He took what we earned so that we wouldn’t have to pay that cost. That’s like the sweetest person you know dying, willingly, for a serial killer. Think about it. Christ didn’t deserve his death, we did. But what we didn’t deserve, what was given to us by grace, we can’t lose. I didn’t deserve my salvation, I don’t deserve my salvation, and thus I can’t lose it. I can’t un-deserve it because it’s not about me. It’s about Christ. He earned it. He is worthy. He is perfect. He will keep my salvation for me.

As our world spirals down into more idiocy and self-harming philosophies that make no sense, believers will stand out and more and more. We won’t take a moment because we’ve earned some me-time. We’ll take a moment because Christ has generously given us a chance to do it. We will do it with thanksgiving, and not a hording of our time against those always clamoring for us. We will understand the benefits and the proper placing of down time, entertainment, recreation, so that it doesn’t take over our lives, and we will be thankful for the many generous gifts of God. Instead of demanding, we will be humbled that he is so kind. Instead of tight-fistedly holding onto every drop of this life, we will be glad for the gifts as they come and go.

Stop talking about deserving any blessing, be it spiritual or temporal. If you believe and trust in the Word of God, you will understand that you deserve nothing good, you have earned nothing good, and so you will come at life with a heart of thankfulness, for it is all of grace.  This will set you apart from the world. This will make you different. Be ordinary. Understand you don’t deserve any blessing in this life, or the life to come. It’s all of grace.

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Flash Fiction: The Pile

 

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Courtesy of Alethia Young. 

 

The Pile

Christmas Eve.

Mouths opened. Lungs expanded. Eyes gleamed.

“Not a word.” Dad leaned in over the table, finger extended, a twinkle in his eye. “Not a word.”

Five mouths clamped shut.

23 sleeps ago.

The Five, armed with saw and wagon, hurried out into Grandma’s fields, hunting just the right tree. In the back pasture they examined tall trees and short, round and skinny. Each child voted yes or no. The tree had to be perfect. It would take the center, Norman Rockwell stage for the whole month. Victorious, they return home over the small hills and dells, scratched but happy. Decorating and off-key singing ensued.

The holly green, the ivy green, the prettiest picture you’ve ever seen…

14 sleeps ago.

Boxes arrived. Big boxes. The Five immediately helped unpack.

“The tree doesn’t look lonely anymore,” the youngest said.

“Everyone keep your fingers to yourselves,” Mom said. “Don’t touch the pile.”

8 Sleeps ago. 

From under the prickly cedar tree, trussed up with lights and handmade decorations, spilled the pile. It spread into the narrow living room, cutting off the path from the kitchen to the bathroom. The Five huddle around it in the dark morning, dreaming of toys and more toys. Waiting. Waiting. The countdown dragged. The older ones swore the pile extended further into the room than any piles had before. Each present had been examined. Each of The Five knew which present was theirs, and the noise it made when shook. The Five had the entire pile mapped out.

1 sleep to go.

Christmas Eve sauntered in. Anticipation reached a breaking point. Tomorrow the paper would be ripped off and the toys would be theirs. Just a few more hours. One more sleep.

“Not a word.” Dad leaned in over the table, finger extended, a twinkle in his eye. “Not a word.”

Five mouths clamped shut.

Dad held out his hand to Mom and the two of them retired from the kitchen table for what The Five prayed would be a short winter’s nap.

Their parents’ bedroom door shut.

Screams of joy erupted.

In a moment of real Christmas magic, The Five gathered the dishes, ran hot soapy water in the sink, wash, dried, cleared, and cleaned the kitchen without a word of disagreement. Not one single squabble arose. No one pushed, pulled, glared, or even joked. Instead, carols erupted from them, swirling about the room on winds of excitement.

…it’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Sunlight streamed into the tiny mobile home as The Five went about their work. It splashed across the pile, the wonderful, huge pile.

Dad, king of his castle, lord of his family, general over the ranks of the Five, had superseded the holiday.

“I have an announcement, but I don’t want to hear a word. Not a single sound,” Dad had declared, as they sat around the table on that now famous Christmas Eve, eating tomato soup and grilled cheese. “Are we agreed?”

The Five shared a glance, then nodded in unison.

“Good.” Dad smiled. “Mom and I are going to take a nap. During the nap I want the table cleared and the dishes done.”

The Five waited. That was normal. Nothing about that part of the announcement would induce anything but sighs.

“After we get up,” Dad took a deep breath, “we’ll open presents.”

Five mouths opened. Lungs expanded. Eyes gleamed.

“Not a word.” Dad leaned in over the table, finger extended, a twinkle in his eye. “Not a word.”

Five mouths clamped shut.

The End


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Quote of the Weekend

There is so much I’m not getting to do this Christmas that are normally part of my Holiday Spirit. But, this quote sums up how I feel. I get to be with my family. I am loved. I have so many people I love. Christmas will be a happy time even if all the packages and bows aren’t here.

Merry Christmas!

(Don’t forget! Come January 1st all my content will move to my new blog: Faerie-Stories.com. Make sure you hop over there and follow so you don’t miss any of my upcoming articles!)

An Ordinary Thanksgiving

I’ve missed several days this week just due to a busy schedule. The bottom line is that I’ve been generously provided for. God is good.

To wrap it up, I’m thankful for holidays. They change life up, make us pause and think, and let us celebrate with food and drink!

I hippie you make merry today! Happy Thanksgiving!

The Passing of a Man I Loved

One of my favorite stories has the line in it, “Everybody dies alone.” I’ve always loved the brutal honesty of that statement. That no matter what, no matter who you are with, no matter who you are, you face death alone. We live in a world where honesty about death is hard to come by. We work out, eat right, and do plastic surgery to avoid it. We take drug after drug after drug to keep it at bay. And when we must face it, we sanitize it, cover it up, and hide it. Yet, we’re all going to die, each and every one of us. That’s the horror of this life. That’s its curse. We’re going to die. This life ends.

About three weeks ago, a man I loved died.

“Had he been sick, or was his death unexpected?” The first time someone asked me that I just stood there, trapped between both yes and no. Yes, my dear extra father had been sick for a very long time, and had given us some good scares, but that’s just it. He’d been sick for so long, we just kinda expected him to keep plugging along, or for the downhill spiral to be more gradual. So yes, he’d been sick for years, and yes his death was unexpected. I had just seen him. I knew he wasn’t doing well, but I kept telling myself, “The doctors aren’t panicked, so I’m not gonna panic.”

The next morning he died.

It wasn’t a ‘peaceful’ death like Harry’s, surrounded by saints singing, holding his hand, praying, reading scripture, and doing their duty to the end. It wasn’t like what I’d heard of Glenn’s, where he was able to give his children marching orders before he passed. It was a cold dark morning with EMT’s and doctors struggling, fighting to find a pulse, find a breath, bring him back. It was a police officer taking us away from him to give them room to work. It was us huddled in the emergency room hallway trying to reach our siblings, knowing, having to decide this was the end.

For me, the next few days were busy. Planning a Memorial Service is like planning a wedding, on the fly, in four days. There were lots of tears as we started to put my extra Dad’s life together one last time. There was laughter as we shared stories. Both good things, but for me there was also a layer horror hidden under it all. A profound sense of unrest. I’m not even sure what I was reacting too. I just felt disturbed.

So, I preached to myself. Over and over and over, I recited the truth to my unhappy heart. I knew that my extra Dad had died, but I also knew where he was. I knew that he wasn’t in some void, that he wasn’t lost forever. I know, I know that I will see him again. In fact, the first thought I had was that my extra Dad was now up in heaven with my Yankee Dad. They are up there and someday I’ll be with them. I’ll shed this mortal life with all its temporary, yet heavy burdens, and I’ll join them at Christ’s feet for all eternity. Oh happy thought.

I knew the truth, but the sense of horror didn’t ease up. It just didn’t go away.

What was creeping me out so much?

The Sunday after his Memorial Service we gathered in our normal spots in the church building. That was hard, being there without him. Not hearing his voice while I was singing. Not hearing his ridiculously loud whispers to Wanda during the service. Seeing my husband try to stay emotionally in control. Hearing my extra Mom cry. It was all hard, hard, but good. Then we took the Lord’s Supper. I’m not exactly sure what Jarrett said, but I’m sure it was something about Vidal being with the Lord now, while we’re all still “in remembrance of” Christ. That’s when it hit me: Vidal did not die alone. Not everybody dies alone. There are a few, a happy few, we band of brothers, who do not ever die alone. Christ was with Vidal every step, by horrible step. When we weren’t there, Christ was there. Vidal didn’t die alone. I can’t think of a more beautiful or wonderful thought. Christ, the one who took on death for us, was with Vidal at the end, just like He was through all of Vidal’s Christian life. The Holy Spirit was with Vidal at the end, just like He was through all of Vidal’s Christian life. He was there to help him across the dark waters to the Celestial City, where Vidal is now perfect with no sin. He has seen Christ, his only hope. He is at rest. Vidal is more alive than all of us. He has left the Shadow Lands. He has finished the race, finished the war, found his hope.

The sense of horror slipped away.

Peace has followed me every day since.

I miss the old guy. I miss his love. I miss his support. I miss him being proud of me. I miss him being proud of his son, my husband. I miss his stories. I miss his generosity. I miss him. I will miss him until I join him, but I know he’s safe and so am I. I know that my missing of him is temporary.

It’s strange to lose a parent. It’s strange to face life without them. It’s strange to realize you are going to finish the rest of this life, possibly forty years or more, without them. You can’t share with them and they aren’t there to support you anymore. It’s a strange feeling. Yet there is peace. “Our Father in heaven…” Our Father. We have a forever parent. One who can’t be taken from us, and one who will not leave. He won’t abandon us. He won’t fail us. He won’t exasperate us. He won’t disappoint us. He won’t die. We have a heavenly Father who loves us in the most perfect way of a father with his child.

Here is hope. Here is hope in death. Here is hope in the loss of a man you loved and have loved for years.

Not everybody dies alone, not everybody.

Ordinary Thanksgiving Day 18, 19, 20

I got a little behind over a busy weekend.

For the 18th, I’m thankful for leaves blowing in the wind. I’m thankful for the smell of wet leaves, and the sound they make when you kick through them. Autumn is filled with lovely sounds, smells, and sights.

For the 19th, I’m thankful to have a place to go for thanksgiving when everything falls apart and you can’t do what you planned. I’m thankful for friends who love me and I’m thankful for family who I will miss.

For the 20th, I’m thankful for family get togethers, even little ones, even when someone is missing. I’m thankful that we love each other enough to miss each other.