Take It For Granted

We use the phrase “take it for granted” as an insult.   As something that we shouldn’t do.  “Oh, she takes that for granted”… meaning, “she’s an ingrate”.   But that’s *not* what the words mean.

Take it for granted.  Granted.  Granted is GIVEN.  “I take this as given”.  As it has been given to me.

Who gives?  God gives.   He gives richly.   Should we thank Him for His gifts?  YES.   Can we possibly thank Him for all of them?  No.  Should we make an effort to thank Him for everything all the time?  No.   Because in so doing, we’re being Pharisees.  We’re practicing a sensible discipline to help us develop gratitude and humility and sitting in it ad infinitum, never moving forward.

We should thank God.  All the time, because He gives so richly that there’s always something new to appreciate.     But put reverse this – do you want your kids to get up every day and thank you for the shoes on their feet?  Every day?  Every.Single.Day?  No.  If they came up to you and said, “you know, these shoes are so comfy and I really appreciate you taking me to the good shoe store so my feet don’t hurt – thanks, Mom!” randomly three months after you bought new shoes, that would make you warm and squishy.   But as a ritual?  “Thank you, dear mother, for the shoes on my feet”.   Bleh.

We need to accept the gifts we’ve been given.   To TAKE them as granted.  To say, “Thank you, Lord Father” and not pretend He does take-backsies.

Sometimes rehashing old ground is … rehashing old ground, and not useful at all.

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Choice

My reading of books selected by other people has finally paid a major dividend – a dividend beyond seeing into the souls of my friends, which is lovely in itself.   I finally FINALLY figured out what, in all the “good books”, I could not stand.

It goes beyond the endless (and endlessly boring) literature of adultery, which is what I thought my problem was.  I don’t like reading about people without virtue.   It’s the idea that one “just finds oneself” doing things.  I can’t relate.  You can find yourself experiencing an emotion without choice, but you do have a choice about what to do with the emotion.  “I found myself in love with him”.  Okay.  And you then refused to see him at all and took up underwater basketweaving in Peru to get your mind off of things they needed to be off of?  No?  Don’t whine to me.  I am not impressed.

Unless you drug me, I’m not going to “find myself” doing things.   You can reduce my choices radically – you can throw me in a jail cell, you can rape me, you can impoverish me… yes, you can cut my number of choices to the bone.   But I still retain choice as long as I am awake and alive.

I retain choice of attitude.  Choice of thoughts.  Choice of speech or silence.

I don’t TAKE action without thinking about it first.   I just don’t.  And even if I did – I could always change course.  I’ve had to do that in life.  Not fun, but it’s doable.

So when I’m reading about a protagonist who “just finds him/herself” doing something reprehensible (or something counterproductive), I lose interest.

Sure, you make bad choices in life.  I do, you do, everyone does.   I don’t require my protagonists make GOOD choices.   I can get behind, “I did this because of that and it led me here”.   But you still made a choice.   And now, enjoying the consequences of that choice, you continue to have choice… what will you do now?  More choice.

So, I learned something about myself today.  And that’s always a gift.

Thanks, L.  Thanks Dr. Jordan of Alias Grace.

Learning to Let Go

Once upon a time… I learned some pretty hard lessons.   The cost of my disobedience rolled down hill and slammed into my face.   Turning around, getting right – that came at a high (albeit temporary) cost.  (I didn’t know that cost was going to be temporary).

I’m still carrying that fear.

The fear that not-being-perfect will mean that my dreams have to be burned alive – again.   I am absolutely terrified of being out of obedience to God.

I have new dreams.   Fully formed enough to call them goals.   I’ve done everything I can to reach those dreams.   But they depend on God’s will for my life.

Will I have another period of waiting for His pleasure and perfect timing?

Will I have the opportunity to reach my goals and make something of the gifts He’s given me in MY eyes?

I learned the lessons of surrender so thoroughly that at the least resistance, I fling my hands away like a child who has had her fingers singed at the fire.   Even if I think there might be resistance, I steel myself to watch my dreams disappear.

But that is flesh.   The flesh remembers the discipline.   The spirit within me is at peace.   She is confident that the goals will be realized, even if the outcome doesn’t look exactly like my dreams.    God will use me.

I am watching dominoes line up in my life, and they’re freaking me out more than a bit.  It’s so early, I’m wondering – are they going to fall in order, or is this another false hope?  But hope rises eternal.

I have a dream.

And this time, I think it’s going to become real.

Pick and choose

I have a hard time with the politicization of religious life.

My relationship with Jesus is my relationship with Jesus.  You don’t get to take that away from me, and I don’t want it used to sell me snake oil – or candidates.   That gets my back *right* up.

Plus, I don’t think it makes for good witness, to conflate conservative religious convictions with conservative political opinion.   “This person represents all of me” – HAH.  I think **not**.    I’m not going to follow in lock-step with … well, anyone.  Anyone but Christ and my husband, and I have to work at both of those.   Authority I haven’t voluntarily taken on?  Are you kidding me right now?  No.  The Republican party platform doesn’t cover every bit of me, thankyouverymuch.  (I would, for example, like Monsanto et al treated like public enemy #1, not given farm subsidies).

And I don’t want to argue politics WHILE I argue religion.  I can back Jesus up all day long, but don’t ask me to do it for Trump.   Or Reagan.    They’re not infallible.  And in the eternal-lens, not all that important.

So there is always the temptation to ignore politics and get back to my own things.   I would like that.  I would like to ignore politics excepting a few weeks before election day, to review data prior to voting.

But … our country feels like it’s in the throws of insanity.   You ignore politics for a year, and suddenly you can’t call a man a man without going to jail in some states or politely refuse to create art for a function you find abhorrent without being sued.    Through the looking glass is where we live.   Politics now serves to defend normalcy.

Or does it?   Are we as Christians just being used to push things we don’t care about by waving a carrot of things that we DO?   Call me cynical if you will – on the motivation of politicians, it’s an accurate description.

I feel that we, as citizens in a democratic republic, have a duty to at least vote.  It’s a power we’re given, and thus it’s a responsibility that has been thrust on us.

At the same time, white robes are being given out at an ever increasing rate.. I mean, we’ve all read the back of the Book, right?  We know how this ends up for us.   Things get horribly dark before the dawn.

I feel like there is a duty to stand, since I’ve been given that power, and yet I know the tide will eventually blow over my position.   Eventually, I’ll be a persona non grata.   My motivation for standing cannot, therefore, be winning the world’s game.   I would sit out, but … I don’t feel that I can.

But I DO feel that politics is the least important thing that I do.   That my witness is in my behavior, in my friendships, in my lifestyle, and in my evident enjoyment of my Lord.   It’s souls I want to win.

Thoughts?

 

New Site

I’ve put my author website up.  It will be running some best-of articles that you might not have gotten a chance to check out from both this site and the HIC site.

Please check it out, and share if you feel so inclined.

and hearthroseramblings.wordpress.com

Light Shines Most Brightly Against the Darkness

My husband is very serious about having a dark sleeping space.   In our bedroom, we have wooden blinds inset in the window and allegedly light-proof curtains over it, which were then lined in blackout curtain material by yours truly.   When you walk into our bedroom after lights out – it’s BLACK.

But yet… after enough time to adjust, you notice the light coming in around the edges of the curtain and over the top.  There’s enough light moving around that you can tell when the security light out front is triggered – and enough light even at midnight to be visible.

First thing in the morning, if the curtain isn’t perfectly aligned, a ray of sunshine will work its way through that blockade and hit the armoire next to my head, and I’ll be able to see the dust motes dancing in the light.

Through blinds, curtains, and curtain-liner – the light finds its way.  And the smallest bit of light stands out against the darkness.

We are living in dark times.   So many of our sibs in the faith seem to think that the thing to do is to fade into the background and not shine.  But that’s the opposite of what we should be doing.   We’re supposed to shine harder because of the darkness.

It’s true.  Not all of us are as shiny as we ought to be – but great news, guys!  We’re not competing against an array of spotlights.    And as we allow ourselves to function as the lights that we are, we’ll grow brighter.

Shine on, folks – your efforts are meaningful, they are needed, and you DO make a difference.