Friday, November 25, 2011

Which is the right way?

In my latest trek through the Bible--this time the Evidence Bible published by Bridge-Logos in Orlando--I've been reading in Deuteronomy. I'm amazed at how such an old book can be so relevant to today.

In Deuteronomy 12:8 Moses shared God's message to the Hebrew people: "You shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes."

People at that time built and worshiped idols. They performed many rituals for their dieties. They even sacrificed their children in hopes of pleasing their gods. Even those who worshiped the God of Abraham sometimes invented ways to please Him.

But God gave very specific instructions about how to worship Him so "that it may go well with you, and with your children after you, when you shall do that which is right in the sight of the Lord." (Deut. 12:25) God is not interested in our brand of religion, whether we pretend to worship him or someone else.

How can we be sure what really pleases God? There are so many religions, so many denominations of Christianity, so many styles of worship. What standard should we use to see if our actions and attitudes are what God approves?

Moses reminded the people, "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: you shall not add thereto, nor diminish from it." (Deut. 12:32) Herein lies the answer to our dilemma. We cannot do what is right in our own eyes. We have an obligation to find out what God requires. This is found in the Bible, God's holy book.

Which do you choose: what is right in your own eyes or what is right in the sight of the Lord?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Are You Listening?

Sometimes I really surprise myself. I think I have it all together, and then I realize I don't.

I have an old cassette of Dino Kartsonakis that I love to hear. The only place I can play it is in the car. It's a great stress reliever to listen to his beautiful piano music blended with sounds of nature--the ocean or a rain storm.

After a long day at work, I had some errands to run. As I drove, my mind whirred at top speed, processing all the obligations I tried to manage. I mentally cataloged my to-do lists for school, home, and church. Traffic demanded my attention. A long wait at a red light forced me to halt. Suddenly, under the current of all that had demanded my focus, I heard a sweet melody. Dino's music had been playing during my ride, but all those stressors had completely blocked it from my perception.

At times like this, I am reminded that God is speaking words of love and wisdom to me. But so often I am not even listening. I block out His gentle call with a myriad of mindless matter.

Perhaps a friend might say, "God does not talk to me."

I must reply, "He is speaking. But are you listening?"

Saturday, August 27, 2011

For All the Children with Broken Hearts

Y

Y is my letter.
Can't say it's my favorite.
That would mean it makes me happy.
No, it's just my letter.
And brown is my color.
But red is rising.

My science teacher talked about the earth's plates.
They shift around sometimes to make earthquakes or volcanoes.
She showed us video clips.
Magma makes the plates move.
Something just clicked in my head when I heard that.
I thought about it a lot.
Magma is hot, and it moves around kind of restless.

Sometimes I feel like I'm the brown earth.
The magma is churning under the surface of my plates, making me feel restless.
The red just keeps on pushing.
And some day it's going to explode like a volcano.

My magma is full of feelings.
Sad. Angry. Scared. Lonely. Hurt.
All jumbled up together.
And it's full of hot questions, too.

Why was Daddy so mad?
Why does he hit people sometimes?
Why did Mama get sick?
Why didn't it just work out that I could stay with Grandma?
Why did she and Nana have to argue over me?
Why did strangers come and take me away?
Why can't Buster come with me?
Why do I have to go to a foster home?
Why did Uncle Buddy show me those nasty pictures?
Why did he touch me like that?
Why didn't he stop when I said NO?

Why can't I just have a normal life like everybody else in my class?

Someday I just may shout all my questions at once.
They'll spew out fast like lava reaching the sky.
People will see the smoke for miles away.

WHY?

--D. Gornoski

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Bad Break

On Nov. 14, 2009, my horse spooked while we were out near the highway. I fell off and landed on my left hand. Even though the pain was severe and the horse was jittery, I managed to get back up in the saddle and return to the ranch. The ranch owner gave me some ice for my arm. I called Daniel, who came to help me with the horse. He wanted to take me to a walk in clinic, but I declined.

Later, I thought Mark should take a look at it since he has lots of experience with bones. After showering and changing, I waited for Mark and Della to stop by. He suggested I visit a walk in clinic, too.

The doctor at the clinic took x-rays. He said it wasn't broken, so he wrapped it and gave me instructions. He suggested that I check with my orthopedic doctor on Monday. Dr. Patterson's receptionist said he could not see me until Dec., so I made an appointment with an orthopedic doctor near my work place. He could not see me until Tuesday. He took x-rays and concluded that I had a collie fracture, which needed a cast. When I mentioned in passing that Dr. P couldn't see me, he called Dr. P's office and made an appointment for me.

The next day, Dr. P checked my wrist, took x-rays, and told me it was such a bad break that I would need surgery. He planned to be out of the country in just a few days, so he referred me to Dr. Hess in Tampa. I hoped to have Dr. P do the surgery, but he said it couldn't wait until his return.

Thursday, I went to Brandon to see Dr. Hess. He confirmed that it was a bad break and needed surgery. He said I would need an incision on both sides of my wrist and some plates and bone chips.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, my surgery went well. I only needed an incision on the back side of my wrist. He also did a carpal tunnel release on my left palm. The block for the pain in my arm wore off before we arrived at home. Man, that felt weird! The pain was quite severe, so I took lots of pain medication.

Although I was thankful for a good surgery, I didn't enjoy my food or family much on Thanksgiving Day. The pain medication made me sleepy. I did not work much in December.

My physical therapy sessions were twice a week for about a month. The physical therapists expected hard work and no excuses or complaining. I learned a lot from my recovery. A person can do much more than he/she thinks possible by not giving up or giving in. Pain is my friend, maybe not my best friend; but it serves an important service.

I had a second surgery at the end of July in 2010 to remove the plate, which was irritating my ligament. The second time, I did solo physical therapy. I am happy to say that I have full use of my hand.

I praise God for working many good things out of this bad break. I am reminded of Romans 8:28-29. I am thankful for God's leading me to the right treatment of my wrist. Had I gone with the first or second prognosis, I probably wouldn't be able to use my dominant hand properly. I am thankful for insurance, even though it was not the best plan available. I am thankful for family members that did many of my chores while I was incapacitated. I am thankful for all the medical staff that helped me through all the visits, surgeries, and procedures.I think I learned patience through this difficult time. I also learned that I can trust God to take care of me no matter what circumstances come my way.

I am back in the saddle now. I had my saddle resurfaced with suede so that it is not so slippery. And I wear a riding helmet, too.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Transform from Victim to Victor

Are you a victim of…

Verbal abuse?
Physical abuse?
Sexual abuse?
Someone who takes you for granted?
A scam artist?
Perhaps you find yourself in a situation like this:

You give your boss your very best, but it never seems to satisfy him/her. Coworkers take advantage of you. Someone else can come in late or take long breaks without consequences, but not you. You seem to be the resident whipping boy or scapegoat.

Your spouse does not appreciate your contributions to the relationship. It seems as if you do all the work but get no rewards for your labor.

Your boyfriend/girlfriend uses you. Whether it is providing money or sex, you feel your only role is to satisfy his or her needs. Your relationship feels one-sided since you are the giver and he/she is the taker.

You do more than your fair share at your church or club. When people need a job done, they call you. Although you are happy to help, you secretly resent the fact that you work harder than others.

You have a big heart, so you help others whenever you can. After a while, you feel your energy sucked away. Too many people want too many things from you.

You seem to be drawn to the same old kinds of relationships. You have a knack for picking losers. You try your best to help someone turn his/her life around. Instead, the relationship only drains you.

A secret is tucked away in the recesses of your past. Someone abused you. The pain is too great to even think about, but the experience colors everything in your life. You wish you could shed that awful baggage, but you don’t know how.

God is the designer of transformation. Just as the caterpillar can transform into the butterfly, you can transform from victim to victor.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"I'll Never Darken the Door of a Dentist Again!"

"I'll Never Darken the Door of a Dentist Again!"

It sounds a bit extreme, doesn't it? But you just don't know all the misery my family has experienced at the hands of dentists. There's the time my dentist mixed my chart records with someone else's. Later, when we moved to another town, suddenly we all had cavities that needed filling. After another move, no one in the family had cavities for years. In yet another city, I developed a need for an extreme deep cleaning. My husband swallowed his so-called permanent crown, but the dentist would take no action without the missing crown. My husband was disinclined to reuse it once it was recycled. He finally went to another dentist who declared the previous dentist did inferior work. The saga continues, but I won't bore you with the details.

And I really didn't stop visiting dentists. No, I realize I can't make it on my own. I need help from someone with higher dental wisdom than I. How foolish it would be for me to stop seeing a dentist. Even though there are plenty of fools in white jackets, I just kept looking until I found someone who did quality work.

But this tale does remind me of bitter words I've heard from too many people: "I'll never darken the door of a church again." They go on to tell how someone hurt their feelings or acted in a hypocritical way or failed them somehow. Their stories are indeed sad. Someone truly did them wrong.

But why do they stop looking for a real place of worship and fellowship? Can't they see how self-destructive that is? To starve yourself of spiritual food is far worse than missing a few teeth.

I know the sting that lingers after a slap from a so-called Christian brother. I've seen my husband used and abused by more than one "church." If he added up all the money he should have been paid from churches X, Y, and Z, then he would have a lovely nest egg. But all the insults, slights, disrespects, and cheatings from those who call themselves Christians will never be enough to make me walk away from Christ. No matter how others may treat me, my life has no quality without His influence. I could live without dentists if I must, but I can't make it without fellowship with true believers. None of us who call ourselves Christian is perfect, but we need each other.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sweet Fellowship

I really enjoy fellowship with other Christian churches. I find it thrilling to sing God's praises with brothers and sisters from different denominations, ethnic groups, nationalities, and socio-economic levels. The varieties of music, preaching, and worship styles remind me of a garden filled with hundreds of kinds of flowers.

Look around at this beautiful Earth and you can tell God loves variety in colors, textures, fragrances, tastes, and sounds. And yet we insist that others must be cookie-cutter Christians made just like us. How boring! Let's not shun other believers in Christ just because they are different. Let's embrace our family members, expecting that the only similarity between us is the love of Christ.

Several years ago, I had the privilege of singing with a community choir at a Billy Graham Crusade in the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. When I heard the voices of 20,000 people singing together, I was overcome with emotion. This is just a small taste of what it will be like in Heaven, I thought. What a blessing!

Let's practice here for the great choir concert in Heaven. "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing."--Revelation 5:12