Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What Do You Mean 'Be Real'?

Christians being real...such a rare thing...

Exactly what is my definition of "being real" if I think it's rare? I mean, some of you may be fairly sure that many Christians are very real...but, I disagree...while I know that some Christians are very real, I think the majority are not...or at least not real enough. I don't think most of them mean to be "fake" - but our society, culture, and vanity make us so, even when we're not really 'planning' on it.

What is real then?

Real is being who you are - "warts and all." It's being vulnerable. It's being honest. It's being willing to be ugly...emotionally and spiritually speaking.

We all struggle with sin. We all struggle with insecurity. We all struggle with just living at times... and yet, we are so unwilling to share that humanity with anyone - even with our own children - why? Is it because we want people to think well of us? Of course it is...we want people to think we have it together. We are terrified to show our vulnerability because someone might think less of us. Question is, what does that matter? Why do we want others to think so highly of us? Why are we so eager to put on airs?

I've been thinking that there is at least one good thing that has come from all the stupid mistakes, bad decisions, and unfortunate circumstances in my life...I know, in no uncertain terms, that I will never be able to put on airs... I will never be able to "fool" anyone into thinking I have it all together... My friends, my family, and even my hometown - small as it is - know me well...they know my failures and problems.

They know the financial problems I've had over the years, the bad decisions I've made with money. They know the unsettled nature of my life at times - all the moves - in Marion and even after moving to Florida...They know of my failed marriage. My desperation to "fit in" and "be in one of the popular cliques" in church....The truth is, I've been an open book for the most part...and while it has caused me to be embarrassed and ashamed many times; I have realized in the past nine years (since my ex-husband came out and left to live his new life) that none of us have it all together. None of us. And my humanity makes me more approachable than the "me" that would have been if I had never made such stupid mistakes in my life. I used to sit and ask God, "How can someone who was born-again when they were six-years-old, someone who wanted to serve You and do the right things and be a 'good' Christian, someone who was so desperate to be in Your will, have made so many stupid decision and mistakes and sinned so freely?" The answer is slowly dawning on me...because God wanted me to be real - He wanted me to realize that my goodness comes from Him - that it is HE who makes us righteous - not ourselves. It is not Tammy...it's Him...

As I said, I have learned that none of us have it all together - whether we look like it or not - There are people with bad marriages - even though they look on the outside to be "perfect." There are people with money problems as bad as mine, but they keep it afloat with loans and barely scraping by. There are people with as much insecurity as I've had. The list goes on...

So, what do we do about it? I'm not suggesting we run around and yell out our failures and problems to the world as a whole...but I am suggesting we be more open and honest with the people God puts in our lives...that we be more vulnerable with our church family - with other Christians...I am suggesting we quit acting like everything is so "perfect."

Why? Why would we do that, Tammy?

For one thing - God says that we are to be honest and live honestly. For another, many, many people are struggling, and they think they're alone. They think they're some kind of "deviant freak" - they hide in themselves and think they are worse than anyone around them...

For example - the day I wrote my last post, I did a project with my high school students - I put several questions on the board and asked them to write their honest answers to them - and here's what I found out - in the comfort of relative anonymity - is the truth...

1. People think they're alone in their sins, their lusts, their short-comings, their failings...they think people around them are better than they are and do not face the same sins and temptations as they. They're ashamed of themselves, but not in a Godly, repentant way, in a societal, cultural, "I'm a horrible person" sense... part of this could be resolved if we were just honest with each other and real...if we let them know they're not alone...they're not the only ones who suffer from sexual temptation or sexual sin...they're not the only ones who spend too much money...they're not the only ones who spend too much time on frivolous things...they're not the only ones who have questions about their faith...they're not the only ones who............

2. Hypocrisy is killing the church. They see people claim to be one thing, but obviously live another life - (yes, it's sometimes apparent we're not all we claim to be)...and they can't understand how someone who says they are a Child of God, someone who says that they have given their life to Christ, can live such a double-sided life... Again, that could be resolved pretty easily if we were honest with one another...if we were real...

All of this reminds me of this verse - I never completely understood it, but I understand it with pretty good clarity now:

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." James 5:16

Our insistence that our lives be so "perfect" is part of the reason that people outside of the church see Christianity as false - they see religion as nothing more than childhood brainwashing - and they insist that critical thinking and logic will be the undoing of Christianity and will kill it...why? Partly because the only Christians they've ever known weren't real...they weren't any different than other people in their lives...and in fact, they were worse in that they claimed to have something so special and life-changing, but didn't appear any different than everyone else.

So, won't you consider being more real...more vulnerable...more human? It might be the difference of eternity for someone you know...it might be the difference of the life-change you've been searching for in yourself or hoping for in others...

Friday, April 17, 2015

How Christians Kill Christianity for the Younger Generation

It's unsettling to me how many of my former students from Christian schools are now either atheists, agnostics, completely apathetic, or very far left-leaning, so-called "Christians."

So many have walked away from the foundation of faith that they "seemed" to have when they were teens...my guess is that some of them never actually had that foundation to begin with - but were "playing nice" at the Christian school so they'd fit in and not get into trouble...but whatever the reason - whether they never really had it or whether they've walked away from it - it's unsettling.

We, as adult Christians, are failing at something rather miserably when we lose such a large number of our young people like this - and I'm talking to anyone who works with kids or teens in any way - not just Christian school teachers - but Sunday School teachers, youth leaders and workers, church members, parents...anyone.

I know some of you would like to blame it on the kids...but I think that's too easy. While I do admit that there are a combination of factors, I submit that we, as older Christians, are a very large part of it, and that's what I want to address...

What is it that the kids see or do not see in us that causes them to walk away and stop caring...or causes them to never care to begin with? There are a few things that come to mind...

1. We are not "real" - we are not "transparent." We live our lives in front of them as if we have it all together, and we dare not show even one hint of weakness...and that is a HUGE MISTAKE...because, well, number one, we DON'T have it all together, and we never have, so we're liars when we pretend to. The interesting thing is - kids know when we're lying...when we're faking it. They can see it a hundred miles away... but for some reason, we think they don't...or we convince ourselves that they don't...and we are mistaken. So what should we do? We should be real, we should be honest, we should share our struggles with them and let them know that they are not alone in their thoughts, temptations, and sins... We must be vulnerable and we must take down our "wall of pretty." Ugly is a condition of sin - therefore a condition shared by all humans, including us...so we must be willing to share our ugly... and therefore God's grace and beauty and mercy will shine even brighter...

2. We waste time on stupid things. We don't spend "real" time with the kids...we do what we have to do and get away. We don't like to be inconvenienced; we don't like to be bothered "outside of our regular hours" - and the kids see this too...they know if they're important to us or not...and therefore they know if we really believe what we are preaching to them about "loving others as you love yourself." My pastor used to say - and he got it from C.S. Lewis - "What you do speaks so loud, I can't hear a word you're saying!" Do we preach that we are to be selfless, loving people, yet we are actually selfish and not-quite-so-loving? Yes, we do.

3. We are unforgiving and spiteful. We all carry a sort of self-righteousness around, and we let it color how we deal with people - and even when we don't realize it - we hurt others...we insult them...we put them down...we say snarky things in passing that really hurt. The kids know how we really feel about them - and about other people, for that matter - and they take that into consideration when looking to see if this "Christianity" is real or not... and if we are so quick to pass judgement and be hateful, then we are proving to them that Christianity is not real at all.

4. We live our lives so independently of God on a daily basis, the kids see that and think there's no need for Him. We are very independent. We trust our friends, our spouses, our family, our jobs, our bank accounts, our colleagues, our social circles...and we don't show a real dependence on God... sure, we go to church every week, but beyond that, there's nothing "real" about this Christianity... we don't read the Bible with the kids, we don't pray with the kids, we don't talk of spiritual things as practical to the kids...and the kids see that as a life lived independently of God and think, "Why do I need him?"

5. We treat our kids like they're stupid. We shield them from so many things...we spoon-feed them Christianity...and we never challenge them to think. We seem to be afraid of independent thought...as if God can't "stand up to scrutiny" - I'll tell you one thing, if God can't stand up to our pitiful, human scrutiny, then he's no God at all... Think about that... do we, in our arrogance, assume that something as benign as knowledge and critical thinking can "kill" God? If we do, then what is it exactly we believe in anyway? Not much... Again, what do we do then? We challenge the kids to think - to think for themselves - to question, to think critically, to embrace logic...and I can promise you something...when they do that - the road they take may at first seem to lead them away, but in the end, it will bring them SOLIDLY back to God...for HE IS...period.

6. We make our Christianity about "do this and don't do that" - we make it about our "actions" and not our "being." I remember a Bible teacher I had my senior year, and I thank God for him today... he told us, "What you ARE is so much more important that what you DO" - at first, I got so angry at him for that, really, the whole class did, and we thought he was a heathen...but after the year in Bible, we finally realized that what you DO will come out of WHO YOU ARE...and if you are "doing" without "being" first, you're going to stop eventually and walk away... Christianity is not a rule book...it is not a guide to action or inaction - it is a system of belief that there is a loving, all-powerful God that made a way for us to be with Him and came for us...He didn't ask us to come find him...he found us... Christianity is about BEING his child, not about doing anything...

OK...again, that's enough to think about today... a lot to digest... As usual I would love your opinions on this - whether you share them on Facebook on here on the blog...

Let's take some responsibility, adults...and let's change things up and show a radical faith that is real...for that's the only way.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Thoughts on Life

I feel like giving some unsolicited advice this morning... I was thinking, "What would I write on my children's souls if I could?" And I figured it would be good advice for my former students...and for any of my friends if they want to read... I'm 45...middle-aged, as much as I don't want to admit it...and it's only been in the past five years - and still now - that I'm learning lessons I wish I had learned oh, so many years ago....

1. Don't let another person define you.

It amazes me how much I've let others define me for my entire life...it amazes me how I still feel ugly because of elementary school kids who called me "Miller-head" or said my nose was long, and I was ugly...

2. Don't keep waiting for the "next thing."

It again amazes me how much of my life I have wasted looking toward the "next thing" instead of enjoying the moment that I'm in... I was always looking for the "right place" - the "right time" - the "right people" - can I tell you that there is no such thing? Where you're at right now - unless it's somehow unsafe or abusive - is where you should bloom...the grass simply is not greener on the other side...and if it is, it's only because you're neglecting your own grass and drooling over the fence.

3. Don't think a "place" will cure whatever ails you.

I have learned, somewhat painfully, that it is not the place, it is the person... Earnest Hemingway said it best in The Sun Also Rises, “You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.” Someone said this to me years ago, and I hated him for it...and I realize now, the reason I hated him was probably because I knew somewhere deep down that he was right...it's become more and more apparent to me over the past couple of years just how true this is. Running away from something won't cure it...it will always be waiting...physically and mentally, for you.

4. Be compassionate.

People, no matter how screwed-up they are, are just that - people - fallible, confused, emotional flesh and blood - just like you. Why do we expect so much out of them, but so little out of ourselves?

5. Be honest with yourself.

Don't blame your life on other people. No matter what role they played in it, it is still not their fault where you are or who you are or why you are... it is your fault... it is the decisions you have made - even the reactionary one to others - that have put you where you are - made you who you are - and is why you are the way you are... other people simply do not have that kind of power over us... own up to your own choices and don't try to escape the regret and blame by giving it to someone else...

6. Forgive.

Holding on to resentment and pain only hurts you. Period.

7. Move on

When something happens - good or bad - let it be a part of you - but don't live there... make it a part of your testimony, not your dwelling place.

8. Don't hate your heritage - your home.

So many kids (ME, ME, ME) couldn't/can't wait to "get away" from their hometowns, their heritage...they think it will be so much different (and better) wherever they can go away from where they were originally - but the truth is...people are people... people are going to be amazing and are going to suck wherever you go... once the 'honeymoon' of a new place wears off...you'll find yourself looking for another "new" place... and you'll never make long-term connections with people.

9. People are more important than anything else.

The people in our lives - family, family we choose, friends, whomever it is in your life (you know who I'm talking about) - are what matters. Money doesn't, things don't, people do.

10. Always choose experience over "things"

Given a choice between a trip around the world to visit unknown and amazing places or getting a  load of "things" you want - choose the trip - the experience... it will last forever because it will change you and the people you influence... the "things" will be old and ugly in just a few years.

I guess that's enough for now... it's a lot to think about...a lot for me to think about...because I'm still learning...

Have a blessed weekend.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter Thoughts of Others

I know it's a couple of days after Easter, but I have some thoughts that I'd like to get out there.

As I was driving home from the store on Sunday, I noticed something that I literally never see...scads of cars at various people's houses. People visiting...people having lunch with friends and family...people seeing other people...  

And the sad thing is what I said earlier, that I literally never see that.

As I drive through these same streets and housing developments everyday going to work and back and to the store and back, I never see others visiting...well, unless there's a funeral...or a holiday....and I wonder, why?

Why are we so disconnected from one another? Why are we so distant? Why don't we get together much anymore? 

When I was a child, I remember that my mother and her brothers - my uncles and their family and our family - spent a lot of time together. I loved it. The cousins played. We ate together. We talked. We just were in each other's presence...and those are precious memories...

These days most people just don't do that much anymore...we only seem to get together when people are sick or dying, or if there's a very special occasion. 

To me, that's sad...at least now that I have the wisdom of 45-some years on me.

As many of you know - and some of you don't - I was a nurse before I was a teacher - (still am technically, as I keep my license up-to-date) - but anyway, when I was a nurse, I worked a lot of the time at nursing homes...and I watched a lot of people die...and never once, never once...did any of them wish they had more money, or booze, or pleasure, or sex, or fame, or recognition...not even the one's who had had those things when they were younger - (and I took care of an award winning, poet laureate of a US state, a brilliant chemist who was a millionaire, a former secretary to the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, the first female lawyer to become very famous in a certain state...so these people had tasted success) - but none of them, when they died, wanted more of that...what they all wanted more of was family, friends, and time with those people...

And we, if we're still alive, have the opportunity to do just that...to spend time with those we love...so why don't we? I wish I knew the answer to that (and believe me, I'm preaching to myself here too), but I don't. I don't know why we're do disconnected...

Some people want to blame it on technology...but I don't think that's a valid reason, because I remember in the 90's and early 2000's before there was as much social media or as many smart phones as we have now, people had already quit spending time together...it was the subject of many movies and shows in the 80s and 90s...again, before all our technology...so, while technology might hold some of the blame...to me it's not the majority of it...so what is it? My feelings on the subject are that it has to do with our affluence, work-ethic, and materialism...

We are the most affluent middle class ever - in history. We are workaholics. We are materialistic. We are selfish, and that selfishness translates not only to money and things, but to emotional defensiveness and our desire to be right all the time...it translates into our refusal to forgive others...it translates into "It's all about ME!" - and that disconnects us from others...and it's not until we are facing death or some other kind of loss...whether our own or that of someone we love...until we're faced with the possibility of losing someone - that we see just how important that person/those people are and how unimportant all the other things are.

Would that we could see NOW how important people are...would that we would send flowers to people while they're alive - while they can see them and smell them - instead of sending them to sit, unknown to the person, beside their dead body...would that we would call, have dinner, sit and talk, do a good deed, or just anything, for others instead of standing around with others - after that person is gone - and talking about how "wonderful" they were. 

We are missing the point...we are missing the biggest blessing that God has given us on this Earth - others...

I say this to myself as much as to you - don't miss it...please?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Political Correctness Run Amok - Modern Nursery Rhymes

Time for a dose of laughter. We have just finished reading 1984 by George Orwell in my AP Language and Composition classes, and we have studied politically correct speech in the US. As a fun activity to make PC language and 1984's "Newspeak" more real to my kids, I had them take traditional nursery rhymes and make them modern...politically correct...you know, non-offensive...

For your reading pleasure, I share some of the best ones here with you...Under the original nursery rhyme, I will list at least two of the "modern" versions that my students wrote today.


"Three Blind Mice" (The original)

Three blind mice,
See how they run!
See how they run!
They all ran after the farmer’s wife;
She cut them in two with a carving knife;
Did ever you hear such a tale in your life,

About three blind mice?

Modern/PC versions:

"Three Visually-Challenged Rodents"

Three Visually-Challenged Rodents
See how they run
See how they run
They all ran after the partner of the person who owns an organic, non-GMO farm
The partner killed the rodents quite inhumanely,
So PETA came to the farmhouse 
And had the offender arrested for animal cruelty

"Three Visually Challenged Animals"

Three visually-challenged animal
Imagine how they move
Imagine how they move
They all moved after the farmer's companion
The companion suggested they should stop
Did you every imagine such a story
About three visually-challenged animals? 

"Three Disabled Mice"

Three disabled mice
Don't make fun because they can't run
Don't make fun because they can't run
They all went to see the farmer's friend
She cried about their disability
Have you ever heard the possibility
That you're blind to THEIR struggles?


"Georgie Porgie" (The Original)

Georgie Porgie, Pudding and Pie
Kissed the girls and made them cry
When the boys came out to play,
Georgie Porgie Ran Away.

Modern/PC Versions:

"Georgie Porgie"

Georgie Porgie, his junk food habit will make him die! 
He kissed the females and made them cry
The females pressed charges of discrimination of gender;
Now Georgie Porgie is an officially registered sex offender

"Georgie Porgie"

Georgie Porgie, apples and celery
Inoffensively touched his lips to his playmates cheeks
When they all came out to play.
The adults cheered, "No gender discrimination here!"

"Georgie Porgie"

Georgie Porgie, ate diabetes inducing food and
Sexually harassed the girls and made them cry;
When the girls tried to show the police the perpetrator
Georgie Porgie ran away.


"Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" (The Original)

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir,
Three bags full.

One for the Master,
One for the Dame,
But none for the little boy
Who cries down the lane.

Modern/PC Correct Version

"Baa, Baa, Grey Sheep"

Baa, baa, grey sheep
Have you any wood?
Oh, yes, Oh, yes
Three Bags full.

I will share them equally with everyone
Whether they have worked for it or not
Because I am socially conscious and wish to
Live in an world of equal distribution

"Baa, Baa Racially Ambiguous Sheep"

Baa Baa Racially ambigious sheep
Have you any wool?
Oh, yes, oh yes,
Three bags full!

Two for the government
One for Obamacare
None left for me
Now, I've lost all my hair.

"Ode to Political Correctness"

Baa, baa, black sheep
Have you any wool?
Sir, that's offensive,
Calling me black isn't cool

That's racist, that's discriminating
I'm going to turn you in
The Thought Police will get you 
And punish you for your sin


"Wee Willie Winkie" (Original Version)

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Upstairs and downstairs, in his nightgown;
Rapping at the window, crying through the lock,
“Are the children in their beds?
Now it’s eight o’clock.”

Modern/PC Version

"Small William Child"

Small William Child ran through the town
All over the place in his pajamas.
He knocked on the windows, and yelled to the people
Are your children in their beds?
Now William is in a secure place
Receiving the help he needs so he won't
Be a pedophile when he grows up.


"There Was an Old Woman (Original Version)

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe
She had so many children she didn’t know what to do
She gave them some broth without any bread
Then whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed.

Modern/PC Version

"There Was a Senior Woman"

There was a woman who had reached her senior years
She had so many children in her house, she was exasperated.
She gave them the only nourishment she had in her house, some soup,
And spanked them and sent them to bed.
The next day, The Department of Children's Services came
And took all her children to foster homes 
And put her away for child abuse.

"There Was a Mature Woman"

There was a mature woman who lived in a dwelling
She had too many children and not enough room
So she gave them up for adoption so they could have a better life.


Hope you enjoyed! Feel free to comment or share your own, but be polite!

Monday, March 30, 2015

What is Freedom...What is Discrimination?

As our society continues to reel and rock on it's shaky foundation - yet another crack has surfaced to make the ground even more unstable.  This time in Indiana...

Even though there are nineteen states that already have "Religion Restoration Acts" - which was a bill originally signed into law by Bill Clinton - Indiana is facing resistance to the bill, and the verbal tirades and wrath of many...

Let's simplify it...

Christians want the freedom to decline to participate in acts and services that they find to be against their religion - abortions, gay weddings, etc. without facing criminal and civil punishments......

And some others do not want Christians to have that freedom...because they do not see it as "freedom."...instead, they find the Christians' desire to decline services that go against their religious beliefs to be the equivalent of discrimination.

The question is then.......Is it discrimination for a Christian, private business to deny services that are against their religious beliefs? Is denying a cake for a homosexual couple the same as denying blacks entrance to a restaurant. (The two are almost always drawn as moral equivalents in this situation.) Is refusing to participate in an abortion the same as expecting blacks to sit on the back of the bus or drink from a different water fountain? If it is...then it is discrimination...if it isn't...then it is freedom.

How does a modern society decide?

If I had that answer, I would be hailed as the modern Socrates...I would win a Nobel Prize...a Pulitzer Prize...I would have interviews on many, many talk shows...I might even be president...but, unfortunately, I don't have the answer...what I do have, however, are a few things to think about...

1. If a Christian Pastor went into a gay restaurant/bar that rents out party space and asked to hold a revival service there that decries homosexuality - my guess is the bar wouldn't rent to them...and my guess is that public opinion would be on the side of the bar...."WHY would a Christian want to have a revival, especially one against homosexuality, in a gay restaurant bar?!?!?!" "Christians have churches, they don't need a gay bar/restaurant to provide that service for them." "How rude of a Christian to expect a gay person who owns a business to do that!"

2. If a Christian went into a known progressive or gay bakery and asked for a cake to be made that said, "Gay Marriage is Wrong" - my guess is the bakery wouldn't make the cake...oh, wait...that DID already happen, thirteen times...here is one of the stories. And it went further...gay advocates went on to call the cake requested "hate speech" and the man who requested it an "extremist" - which translates today into "dangerous and terrorist" (in case you didn't know.)

3. If a business, say a mall, banned Christians from praying in the food court because the sight of such goings-on might offend non-Christians...my guess is that the mall would get away with it because it is a "private" business...oh, wait...THAT happened already too...here.

Oh, I could go on...but there's no need...I think the three provided examples serve to elicit plenty of thought...but, the ONLY way the thought will work is if you lay down your prejudices and conceived notions for a while and look at the situation objectively....maybe ALL the instances (liberal and conservative) ARE discrimination....maybe ALL the instances (liberal and conservative) ARE freedom issues...but, the thing is...one can't be freedom and the other discrimination...for all are alike...aren't they?

There are other questions here...can there be a "Christian" private business? To that I would simply ask, can there be a "Gay" private business? Is a business that pays taxes to the US government allowed to "espouse" a certain religion? I would ask, is a business that pays taxes to the US government allowed to "espouse" a certain sexuality? Can said Christian business say, legally, that their God, Bible, and beliefs prevent them from providing certain services to certain people? Again, can said "gay" business say, legally, that their birth-right prevents them from dealing with certain "close-minded, disagreeing" people? Should the Christians just go out of business? .... Should the gays go out of business? Should the Christians be "re-educated" to be more tolerant of sexuality? ... Should the gays be "re-educated" to be more tolerant of religious belief?

Again, this could go on and on and on.......

But the longer it goes on, the shakier our foundation as a nation becomes...for we are no longer "One Nation" - but rather "Two Distinct Set of People who Disagree" - and that's not good...

Is it?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Death and Life

Kara Tippetts died yesterday. For those who don't know, Kara was a mother, pastor's wife, and fighter. She had metastatic breast cancer, and fought it for two years...yesterday, she won her fight...she was ushered into the presence of God - into Heaven, where there is no more pain, where there are no more tears...she is in eternal bliss and perfection....and us? We're left here...to ponder...to ponder what to do now...

I've never known quite how to deal with death...and I've been surrounded by it a lot, or so it seems to me. My grandmother, my "Nanny," died when I was eleven years old...it was Mother's Day, 1981...I went to church with my other grandma, my "Mammaw" and when we got back to her house, the phone rang (the days before cell phones)...from just the look on my Mammaw's face, I - at 11 years old - said, "Nanny's dead isn't she?" - Somehow, I knew. My Mammaw just nodded, and I threw myself on the bed and sobbed...That was my first close-encounter with death...

During my teen years, several more distant family members died...but we always went to the funeral...so it was always very real to me...also during that time, several friends and school acquaintances were killed in various ways - suicide, car wrecks, homicide...

In my 20's - my uncle Bud died...we knew he had a bad heart, but still I didn't expect him to die when he did...I took him buttermilk that morning - he loved buttermilk, and when I was very little used to trick me into tasting it...YUCK! - Anyway, I took him some buttermilk that morning and talked with him - he was his usual happy self...and that night, he was dead...in my 30's more friends and acquaintances passed away - my Aunt Francis died of Ovarian Cancer, my grandfather, "Pappaw" - died from a complication of Alzheimer's...as a teacher, former students have died...last year, my Uncle Sam died very unexpectedly...leaving my mother the only living member of her original nuclear family - (her father died when she was seven.)

So, again, I feel as if I've seen my share of death...and I've never known - even as a Christian - how to deal with it...I tend to be a very empathetic person, so death affects me deeply - I feel not my own emotions, but I know others are feeling horrid emotions and pain, and that bothers me...sometimes I think I feel like Dr. Xavier from X-Men...of course, I can't "feel" other's pain, and I don't mean to say I can...but I do know they are hurting, and that often paralyzes me...makes me hurt for them...makes me feel guilty for living, if you will....

But, I think between my Aunt Francis and Kara Tippetts, I have learned something...

When someone dies, we have to live...we must live...we must enjoy our living as much as we can...we must continue to make memories...if we don't, we dishonor the dead...

My aunt looked at me while she was dying and said, "Tammy, lying here dying, all I have left are the memories I made...go, live your life...make as many memories as you can...LIVE!" and I promised her I would... I think about that often...and now I have Kara's words to think about - Love Big...make the most of every moment...make memories...be present...live life to the fullest...to the depth you are able...

I think now that Kara is in Heaven, she would reiterate that strongly...she would yell from Heaven - LIVE! LOVE! ENJOY! Take in every moment you are given... I know that's exactly what my aunt said...so, two Godly women can't be wrong...

While our hearts are heavy for loss, don't let it define your life...live, love, laugh, drink life in...it is a gift given by God...one we should enjoy, not carelessly waste...don't let circumstances carry you...carry them as long as you can...and give God the glory.