Saturday, June 30, 2007

No Judgement For Those In Christ Jesus

I've been doing a lot of reading about Ruth Bell Graham and her parents and children ever since she passed. I can't express how much I admire her legacy and how valuable her witness a la Titus 2 - she has been an example to all women. But do you know what is the best thing? She was not judgmental. She accepted people where they were, no matter their weaknesses - and I'm talking about people she knew who had the problems of alcoholism and drug abuse, which are very serious dependencies. She merely loved. She let God do the judging. And that is the best example of all.

I've also read a lot more about her children. The oldest, Gigi has been divorced and remarried in a very short time. This has not been trumpeted too much in the media, but I think it is a fact. Gigi was married to a Stephan Tchividjian, a psychologist I'd heard on the radio. He was older than she by enough to make a difference, and she was married to him at age 17 and off they went to Switzerland to live, where they had 7 children. I don't know when they were married or how many years they were married, but a divorce was sought by one or the other and granted some time around 2005. Gigi then went on to marry someone named Chris Foreman, I believe - and they were seen fighting in a KMart parking lot in 2006. She was jailed overnight for spousal abuse at that time.

You know what I think? I think it was very hard being Billy Graham's daughter. I won't go into any psychological stuff about what might have motivated Gigi's actions over the years - because remember, only God knows the heart. It is not our place to judge - and one of my all time favorite phrases, "there but for the grace of God go I" is a great reminder never to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. I wish Gigi had a blog, or an email address because you know what I would do? I would send her an email letting her know that I understand because I, too, am a sinner. I can't explain how the love of Christ demands that we love and not judge. And not just the love of Christ, but the justice - how dare we presume to pass judgement on anyone on the basis of their sins. Now, I'm not talking about the legal process - I'm talking about loving another human being as Christ loves them. Period.

Gigi - wherever you are - I'd go to hear you speak. Don't be condemned for the problems you've had or decisions you have made - but just remember that Jesus loves you as much as He has loved your mother AND your father - it doesn't depend on you, it depends on Him and His nature.

This also applies to other Graham children who have divorced (I think Ned did, also) and who have born the burden of a very visible, absent, famous parent - not just famous, but famous for being GOOD.

I admire and feel love for the whole Graham family because we are sisters and brothers in Christ, and because they are REAL.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Check Out My Guestbook!!

Go ALL the way to the bottom of the screen - go ahead, scroll all the way down. Now, just before the bottom, you'll see my guestbook - just click on "Sign this guestbook" and it will take you through the steps. You can also click on "make your own" to add a guestbook to your blog.

The Old Days

Above is a picture of Laverne's family taken in the 30's, maybe. Laverne looks about 13-15 years old, and she was born in 1921, which would make this anywhere between 1934-1936. Laverne is in the back row, 4th from the left and her grandmother is seated in the black dress in the center, and her mother is in the back row, second from the left. Laverne's grandfather and father had already passed away, so the older man next to her grandmother must have been the grandmother's brother. The picture is in Pennsylvania somewhere, although her grandmother originally (before the Civil War) came from Maryland, I believe. I found this picture as a negative among Laverne's belongings that I inherited. My scanner was able to take the negative and reverse it in a scan so that I could see what the original picture was. Unfortunately, everything is blue and white, but it's better than looking at the negative. I wonder if this negative was ever made into a picture. If so, I don't have it. I also wonder if that old farmstead to the left in the picture is still there, or if this is a suburb of somewhere now, with condos and strip malls. I would love to believe it's still there - and since I don't know, I'll assume for the sake of my fantasy, that it is. Laverne, her grandmother and her mother - and other aunts and great aunts - lived in a big three story house in Pittsburgh - perhaps this is outside of Pittsburgh somewhere.

This is some sort of greeting card that was either sent to Laverne or her mother. Many people disapproved of the behavior of the typical flapper - smoking, drinking, wearing revealing clothes and makeup, cutting their hair short, etc. I can't help but think of Grace Livingston Hill's books when I look at this card. I also can understand, when watching old movies from that time period, why people disapproved. I was watching some old movie the other day with Harold Lloyd - from the early 30's. There was a skinny, rather unattractive girl in a clingy satin pants outfit that was trying out for a movie part - as part of the plot in the movie - and she just looked trashy. Her line was, "hey, who says I ain't got sex appeal? I'll show you sex appeal!!" Nowadays, of course, that's no biggie. But back then? Shameful!! Nice girls didn't go to the movies - or maybe just nice, Christian girls. But still - I could see where the movies modeled behavior that was frowned upon. Now, all those movies are fascinating to me - a glimpse into another era. I know Laverne's Grandmother was a Christian - and I'll bet some of those older ladies in the picture above disapproved of some of the behavior in movies, and whatever the 1930's model of the flapper was.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thursday Morning

I'm asleep at the desk, here. Today is my early day at work. I have to be here at 7AM, but I get to leave at 2:30PM, which I love. The only problem is - when I get home at 2:30 what do I do? Usually, I just fall asleep until about 6PM, when my husband comes home. Maybe today will be different, but the way I'm feeling right now, I doubt it.

It's pouring rain here this morning - a tropical wave - and that makes it even more desirable to just stay in bed. I think I'll go hunt up some coffee in the cafeteria.

Lately, I've been wanting to devote more AM time to Bible study, but in the AM, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is comatose......I REALLY have to get with the program. Thank God each day is a new gift, and tomorrow I can do better.

Going for my coffee run now......

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday Afternoon

I am SO proud of myself this weekend. Yesterday, Saturday, my husband, The Mr., had to work. This past week for him has been VERY busy - a few 7-6PM days, with one 7-9PM day! And then he had to work 7-2 on Saturday. Soooooo - as I was sitting on the porch Friday evening, I noticed how messy and overgrown parts of the backyard looked. I also saw that the bird feeders needed to be cleaned, and our everpresent morning glory vine that threatens to take over the neighborhood, had to be cut back again. I decided I'd get up early Saturday morning and start working. I weed wacked and trimmed bushes in the back yard. I bagged up old trimmings from a few weeks ago and put all the garbage bags out - about 9 bags. I hacked some more morning glory vine back and I spray cleaned the bird feeders with the hose and left them to dry in the sun.

Now for the big surprise for my husband. I never mow the lawn - he does that. I've only mowed twice before in my life. I got out the lawn mower and proceeded to mow the back yard. I wasn't sure I could get the thing started, but I did. And off we went. When that was done, it was 91 degrees out, and I stopped for lots of water and a sit down. I'm overweight and out of shape and 51 years old - I didn't want to have a heart attack - that wouldn't have been a good surprise for The Mr. to come home to!!

Next, with the back yard done, I tackled the indoors, vacuuming, straightening, shaking out rugs and quilts (my 4 cats get lots of cat hair on everything) and started the laundry. I also stripped and changed the bedsheets. By now my back was killing me and I was very tired - BUT I still had the desire to finish everything.

I put away the lawn equipment, except for the mower. I turned it back on and pushed it to the front yard, which is much smaller - and proceeded to finished mowing the front yard. By then, I was truly exhausted. I just finished up trimming the grass right around the trunks of our two trees with scissors - and I went inside and took a long, cool shower.

I took some grapefruit juice and selzer water (my favorite drink), added a little bit of salt, took a potassium pill and some calcium/magnesium pills - and I felt much better.

I then refilled the bird feeders and looked around - the lawn was done and looked so neat and pretty, and the house was quiet and cool and clean. Now I was excited - it was about 1:30 - soon my husband would be home.

When he pulled in the driveway and saw all the work I had done, he was so happy and relieved that he didn't have to do it! I got lots of thanks and a very happy husband. However, I found out one thing - there is a lever on the lawn mower that when you press it to the handle, it makes the lawn mower self-propelled. I had forgotten that part, and I had done both the back and front yard without the self-propel feature. No WONDER I was tired!! The Mr. thought that part was kind of funny, but he was also concerned at the effort I had made unnecessarily. Live and learn, I guess.

Today, since all our chores were finished, The Mr. and I had a leisurely breakfast and then drove to a nearby mitigation site, where the following pictures were taken:
All the tiny fish looked like the fish at the top of the picture. Then there was this one black and white speckled fish - wonder if someone emptied out their acquarium.....

Next, I tried to capture these two white butterflies while they were flying and fluttering around each other - it didn't come out too good, but you get the gist....

These are fish eggs on a branch under the clear water.

This dragonfly was holding on for dear life....

More dragonflies:

And last but not least - some flowers:

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My Poinciana Tree

This is really the first year this tree has bloomed. Last year, there was one branch that had orange flowers on it - and then it was done. It is about 6 years old and it went through Wilma two years ago. Wilma broke huge branches off the tree, leaving jagged scars - and it had no leaves when the storm was over. We were afraid the tree might not come back, but it did. It doesn't have the desired shape of a poinciana because we've never trimmed it the way a professional would, so it isn't as beautiful as it could be - but I love it just the same.

We have to put some medicine on it or in it somehow because it has ants and they are boring into the areas where the branches meet the trunks, and at those places the bark crumbles off. I hope we can do something to save it!! If anyone out there knows what to do about this type of problem, please help!!

Anyway here is a picture of our tree:

Worldly Thinking

For the past month, I've been committed to living my life in light of the Scriptures, instead of how I feel - at least, for the most part. Of course, I'm human, and I fall down a lot - but the primary directive to continue on the path is there. During this time, I've learned that the thinking that has put me out of fellowship with God in the past has been, of course, brought on by my immersion in the world and being swayed by it's thinking.

For instance, I love nature and I absolutely abhor policies that destroy or neglect the environment. I have hated developers and those who don't respect wildlife. In the past, just seeing a newly cleared area waiting for the building of yet another strip mall, or more overpriced, cookie cutter houses on top of each other, would put me in a tailspin. I'd feel the bottom drop out of my soul and despair and anger would take over my thinking. Where could God be in this? Why does the world have to be so awful sometimes? When I see animals hit by cars, I see them in my mind's eye trying desperately to survive as more and more incursions into their habitat occur - until one day, one tries to cross the road - and dies, perhaps leaving babies to starve.

In any case, the purpose of this post is to show that - if I let these things take over my thinking - and don't keep my eyes on Christ - I will fall away.

Likewise, the influence of the human viewpoint thinking of those people around me. I have to keep a barrier up against that thinking, and not let it get so far as to enter my soul.

These weaknesses in me caused by the bleakness of the world and unbelievers, at times, have bothered me for many years - until now.

I have found that keeping my eyes on the Lord, refreshing myself with His word everyday, and prayer - can keep my thinking from falling into despair and anger.

I know this is a "no duh" kind of thing - this is a basic fact Christians know - but it has become real to me in a way it was not before - so as basic as it is, I'm finding it a new truth.

One more thing I want to record here. I also used to be wrongly influenced by good things. By this, I mean that I'd read a Christian blog where the woman is a great housekeeper and cook, doesn't have to work perhaps, does crafts, etc. etc. Instead of being inspired by this to apply WHAT I CAN in MY OWN LIFE, I'd feel since I couldn't replicate the whole package, why bother with any of it - and I would feel jealous of the other person's circumstances and resentful of my own.

Finally, I'm able to appreciate what I have, and where I can make what I have better by learning from others, I'm satisfied. When I read something and feel that old feeling begin - that I should be like this person and that what I have to work with won't cut it - I push that away immediately. I remember that God has a plan for me, and it includes MY circumstances, not someone else's. I can keep it all in a positive light and learn from others, rather than be overwhelmed by the talent and ability of others - and apply my new knowledge to the life God has given me, and be thankful. It is so freeing not to be swayed by others. Is so-and-so going on a diet? I should do that, and used to feel guilty when I didn't. Is so-and-so starting exercise? I should do that, and used to feel guilty, etc. etc. Now, I listen to other's plans, but I stick to my own path. My own path is guided by the Lord. He is molding me and shaping me daily, as I allow Him - and those things I should do will come to me, without the frantic effort that those in the world employ.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Count Your Blessings Monday

I visited Marci's site "Down on the Farm" for "Count Your Blessings Monday".
I have lots to be thankful for. I'm home after the workday, and I'm ever so comfortable in my chair in front of my desk, with my feet up. It's a rainy evening - and I'm thankful for that - it makes me feel so much more cozy inside. I'm thankful for my home - on my drive this evening I saw a lot of very rundown homes and trailers, and while my home is far from palatial, it is a strong little house. I'm thankful for my job, for my 4 cats, very thankful for my wonderful husband, for the blooming Poinciana tree out front - it took 6 years to bloom, and this year it's going all out.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Billy Graham Library

I know I posted an article yesterday that said the new Billy Graham Library was tacky.....but I've been to the web site and I'd love to visit it. It sounds really neat - and if I lived in the Charlotte area, I'd SO apply to be a volunteer there.....

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Another Great One Passes Over

Someone I have greatly admired for years is Ruth Bell Graham. I love Billy Graham, but I recognize in Ruth someone, I think, with more depth and more accurate Biblical knowledge. Also someone who was a very Biblical wife and mother in her support for her husband.

She passed over to heaven today at 5:05 PM while I was napping after work. I wonder if she, as she was leaving earth, floated above the town called Tsingkiangpu in the old days, Huaiyin now, in China where she was born and grew up. I wonder if she stopped to travel up the old Grand Canal. Did she hover above the Montreat house where she has spent so many years, in the mountains she grew to love?

So many are over on the "other side" now that I have admired. June Carter and Johnny Cash. Zola Levitt. And now - Ruth Bell Graham. I bet her mother and father were very glad to see her. And, just like she did on earth in their home in North Carolina, she will prepare for Billy's home-coming, to make sure he is comfortable and has a familiar and loved face to greet him.

Ruth was the serious, learned, Biblical side of the couple, while Billy was the rambunctious, emotionally religious, powerful preacher side. Without her tempering, he might have become more of a caricature of a preacher, more of a Billy Sunday, and less of a real, grounded person with the message of salvation. She kept him from being tacky, TV preacher material....she kept him on task and faithful to the Word.

It seems that Franklin has a touch of his father's need to be tempered, but no Ruth to temper him. He also has inherited Ruth's stubbornness and strength, which, in the following case, doesn't seem to be good.

Franklin has started the Billy Graham Library which, as you can read, has some tacky elements like a talking cow. He has insisted, evidently against the wishes of Ruth herself, Ned his brother and Patricia Cornwell, the writer who has immortalized Ruth in her biography, "Ruth, A Portait - The Story of Ruth Bell Graham" that Ruth be buried next to Billy at the library.

In this article it is evidently Ruth's wish, as well as her son Ned's, that she be buried at the Cove, a religious retreat in the NC mountains that Ruth designed and is much more tasteful. According to the Washington Post article linked above, Ruth designed the memorial gardens at the Cove to be her and Billy's resting place.

I have some thoughts on this problem. It seems, according to the pronouncements made today by the family, that Ruth and Billy will, indeed, be buried at the Billy Graham Library, against Ruth's wishes.

Ruth Graham had a great sense of humor, and she was the force that tempered the Southern Fire and Brimstone Preacher in her husband. When the Resurrection of the dead comes and Ruth finds that she has been buried for however many years it will be until that day, next to a barn with a talking cow, she'll look over at Billy and just laugh out loud. It won't matter then whether it was a good decision or not - it will just be plain old flat out funny.