Tag Archives: Choices
09. Feb, 2012

Sex, Drugs and Skater Shoes

Sex, Drugs and Skater Shoes

Sex, Drugs and Skater Shoes

14 year old John sits under an oak tree, at school, studying for his exams.  Looking around while thinking through the answer to a problem, he sees Alexander, the “popular” kid, talking to his friends.  Making sure it looks like he is studying, John eavesdrops on Alexander’s conversation.

“Do you like my new shoes? My dad got them for me yesterday.  He paid $140 for them.  He said he got them so I will forget my parent’s divorce.  I swear, their divorcing is the BEST thing that happened to me!  I get all this cool stuff. They try and win me over, by buying me things, but I could care less who I live with!” Alexander says with a smirk.

While rolling his eyes, Alexander’s friend Samuel, informs his friends: “Dude! Those shoes are wicked!! I’ll ask my parents for some too.  They always get me whatever I want without a hesitation.”

The next day, John went to school and sees everyone wearing skater shoes.  Seeing that John wasn’t wearing any, Alexander walks up to him with an evil glimmer in his eyes…
“Nice Croc’s!” Alexander says while snickering at John.  “What?  Your family is too poor to buy you skater shoes? I bet you live in a shoe!”  Alexander then proceeds to run back to his “evil minions” (as John calls them) and tell them ALL about John’s shoes.

During dinner that night, John plucks up the courage to ask his mom and dad for some skater shoes.  “Mom, dad?”, John asks while chewing his rubbery meatloaf, “would it be alright if I got some skater shoes?”

“Well, you know we don’t consider buying something unless we know how much it costs first”, Mrs. Criff reminds her son.

“Well,” John says taking a bite of food to muffle his voice, “they are around $140.”

“FOR A PAIR OF SHOES?!?!?!?” Mr. Criff says raising his voice. “There is NO WAY I am paying that much for just a pair of shoes!”

Crying in bed that night, and talking to himself, John said “I.. I just want to fit in, is all.  I always get the cheap, hand-me-down clothes.  I don’t want to… to… to stick out like a sore thumb anymore!  I want to be in the popular group!!”

5 days later, John has stolen the $140 needed to buy the skater shoes.  He has gotten money from his parents wallets, strangers wallets, and even his neighbor’s piggy bank.  After buying the shoes, he heads to school and right up to Alexander to ask if he liked his new shoes.

“SWISH! I like ‘em.  Nice goin’ Criff!  Hey, you wanna hang with us during lunch?” Alexander said with an impressed look on his perfectly chiseled face.

“Of… Of course I would!  Thanks. See ya then!” John said while walking off to first period maths class.

7 years later, John is despondent.  He has just had his proposal to his sweetheart rejected and he takes a hard look at his life.  John is sitting on the edge of his bed grieving over his addiction to cocaine, heroin, and meths.  He is sick over the sex that he has had with 7 different girls.  Each time getting worse and worse.  He sits there, with his head in his hands crying and thinking about why de did all this, why he screwed up so badly.. why he had destroyed his life.  While searching his memory, he remembers the time when he started hanging out with “Mr. Popular” and his “Evil Minions”.  Remembering that he wanted to fit in so badly and be cool like they were, and he would do whatever it took.   Back then, the cool thing to do was have sex and drugs.  He remembered how he wanted to be a regular guy and not stick out like a sore thumb, that he decided to just go along with whatever they did or told him to do.  The final thought that he has, before he decided to overdose and end it all was how it all started with a pair of costly, deadly, and just plain ordinary leather skater shoes.

You may think: “Really?  Skater shoes??? I doubt it!!!!”  But really, there are so many people in this world who do anything to be cool.  It starts with something small like a toy or a game or an item of clothing that you want, and before you know it, you’re doing everything you said you wouldn’t when you were a child.  In fact, I bet that almost everyone in the western world has had trouble with wanting something just to fit in.

Do you know the one thing that aggravates me the most, that sets me off and makes me think that this “person” is trying to fit in?  I hate seeing when a boy, guy, or man wears his pants low and has to waddle like a penguin just from keeping them falling all the way down.  It may be something different for you.  Like a pair of shoes, or clothes or a game system or even stationary!!!

I don’t know if you have an issue, or what if you do, what it might be like for you.  But all it takes for me to snap out of my phase of wanting to fit in is remembering that God loves me just the way I am.  Funny, loony, crazy, serious and smart.  And if you don’t believe in God or trust in Him, remember that there are still people out there who will accept you for whom you are.  The people who like you for just you; not your money or hair style or clothes that you wear.  Those are not your true friends.  Friends are people who love you and accept you for who you are.

Another thing that helps me to remember that I don’t need to be like everyone else is a song by 33 Miles called “Underneath”.  The lyrics go like this: “Open up the heart that you hide, everything you’ve locked up inside.  It’s time to come clean, let mercy set you free.  Take off the heavy disguise; lay it all out in the light.  The good the bad the in between, God loves what’s underneath…. ….The smile you try to fake, to cover up the pain, He holds all your mistakes and then He washes them away…”

God loves us for who we are, the insides of us. The love and gifts that we have, He gave to us.  None of our outward appearances or earthly pleasures will ever satisfy our empty space inside.  We need to open up our hearts and show everything we hide away to make sure we fit in.  We need to pull away the duct tape and screws, nuts and bolts, and lay all our weird kookiness on the table.  You know how we make ourselves into something that we are not, just to fit in… That’s called a disguise.  Take it off.  Let all of your good things and bad things be seen to those that God has put in front of you to help you in your journey.

21. Jan, 2012

Waiting on a Lost Kitty…..

Waiting on a Lost Kitty…..

For those of you who know me well, you would know that I am an avid animal lover!  Having been raised with cats all of my life, I have grown to appreciate the value of having a furry critter in my  life. The comfort and warmth in the dark nights, the unconditional love and acceptance, the constant companion thru laughter and tears.  In fact, my ex-boyfriend can attest to the lengths I would go to, in rescuing a kitten that I found, from certain death.  Having had my fair share of furry bundles of joy through the years, I decided a long time ago that I would ever only have inside cats.  Lots of practical reasons why, but one emotional reason was that I had one too many heart breaks as a youngster of beloved kittens getting run over.

Well, this morning I have had time to reflect once again on not only the love of animals that I have deep within my soul, but the opportunity to see a new spiritual revelation.  Our kitty Ipo decided last night to find an escape route out of the house again.  Now you have to understand this kitten.  She is full of life and fun for her “People”, always making us crack up at one of her antics, (especially our very own bug catcher!) but she is always very warm and loving to anyone who comes thru our door.  “Stranger” is not in her vocabulary. She believes that everyone is her immediate new “best friend” and loves to spend time talking to, and sitting with them.

However, one thing Ipo has struggled with, that her sister doesn’t seem too concerned about is that by being asked to stay in the safety of her home it really is for her protection, not our desire to kill her fun. She can be often found watching doors and windows to see if someone, ANYone might have given her a escape route.  Over the course of the 1 ½ she has lived with us, she has made her way outside on several occasions.  One time, late last year, she did it at night, and ended up being out all night.  What we found in the morning was a really scared and pretty beat up cowering little quivering ball of fur.  I can only imagine her glee as she *finally* made it to what she perceived as “FREEDOM”, and was quite excited to head off on an adventure.  I am sure, she ran up to someone that looked an awful lot like her, and immediately believed she had found another “new best friend”.  But, I am afraid what she found in the  Big World is that just because something or someone LOOKS like you, does not mean that they are friendly or receptive to your desire to be buddies.  There are a lot of bullies and meanies out there, and they don’t fight fair.  In fact, I remember talking to my family about seeing this really great blog forming in my head about the lessons that Ipo would have learned that night.  The spiritual truths of how the “World” can look so warm and inviting and full of adventures to be had.   God our Protector has asked us to willingly and submissively stay within the safety of His “house”.  That He has set up boundaries for our protection and safety, not to kill our fun.  And yet, how often do we look for that escape route?  That we think that it would be MUCH more fun out “there” and we flee the warm and safety of His presence to go have our fun.  And, not surprisingly, we end up getting really wounded.  The scar on Ipo’s nose is a living testimony of her belief that her way was better than our way.  The scars in my life, are simply the same thing.  The living testimony that *I* have chosen to try and go my own way also, instead of listening to Adonai, my Loving Master and believing that He has my best at heart.

Over the next few months, she seemed to settle back into realizing that INside was safer than outside, and never once looked twice at a open door.  She would quiver at loud sounds and wasn’t as quick to love on new people that came through our door.  But, what they say is true.  Time really DOES heal all wounds.  It seems to dull the memory of pains of the past. And the mind makes foggy the reality of what really happens when we try and escape the safety of our protective boundaries.  Ipo, once again last night, decided that she would rather try again to live her life in the wonder of the big world.  She left sometime in the evening, and as the writing of this pondering, she still hasn’t come back.  Bubbie and I both have been out looking all through the neighborhood for her, calling her out again and again.  Seeing if we could find her and entice her to come back to us.  Wondering if she was wounded or worse yet, dead.  But, as I walked and called…. Called and walked this morning I was struck with a new side to this story.  I had a real intimate moment with the Prodigal son’s dad.  (yes, I *do* know this was just a story that Jesus used to try and share spiritual truths with not only a crowd of people, but also the Pharisees and Religious Rulers that would have been in the crowd that day. If you will permit me, I would like to share my musings………)

I can imagine what the father must have felt like wandering around looking for his son.  Wondering what kinds of things that his son might be involved in.  All the possible dangers that he must be being exposed to. Praying for him, longing to see him again, remembering all the good times of the past they had together.  The late night chats, the snuggles and cuddles of his younger years. I wonder if he would wander around his town, looking for his son, under cars and in yards, particularly areas where there is tall grasses that could cover a hurt or broken body. I wonder if he even tried to peek into people’s windows to see if he could get a glimpse of his son, maybe having fallen prey to a stranger with not good motives. If he did, I know now what that feels like now.    As I walked around our neighborhood this morning, I felt a kinship with this father.  I saw thru his eyes, the longing he must have felt, and the sense of loss at having no idea what has happened to his beloved son.  And then, as God usually does, allowed my thoughts to drift to Him.  As I walked and called for my sweet Ipo, and longing for her to answer back to me, He allowed me a small glimpse of what it must be like for Him when I do this very thing that Ipo has done. Interestingly enough, I was struck with this thought earlier in the week, and put it on my Facebook status…

“Jesus never imposed His will, virtues, or ethics on anyone. He presented Himself, along with the offer of abundant life and freedom made possible by abiding in the truth He offers. We have an invitation from Almighty God, our heavenly Father, to live in His shadow and His shelter while following the Lord, who is our Shepherd. Refusing this invitation is like shouting, “Bring on the consequences!”

Truth be told, I am struggling to think of what the consequences of Ipo’s chose will be.  I am pushing down, even now, the reality that we might not see our sweet kitty again.  Ipo was named by my mother-in-love when we first brought her home.  Her name means “Sweatheart”, and she has been true to her name the last year and a half.  But, just like Jesus, we can’t impose our will on her.  Whilst El Roi  is all knowing, and ever present, *I* am not.  I can’t see where she is.  I don’t know her fate. I can’t force her to come home.   I am left to understand the reality of her decision will have consequences on not only me, but my family.  We have offered her a life full of health, safety, happiness, adventure (bugs are ALWAYS being shown to her, so that she can have her fun!) and comfort, but it ultimately has to be her decision to choose it.  Her sister Mo has been wandering around, calling for her, and seeking us to give her even greater comfort right now in our loss. (THAT, in of its self has a WHOLE NEW BLOG begging to be written! 😉 But, right now is not the time.)  I am left to grapple with the idea that our “tomorrow” might be without the presence of this amazingly sweet ball of fur, and all we will be left with is our photos and memories.  Interestingly enough, even THAT thought isn’t left without Jesus’ whispers of Truths also.  “He presented Himself, along with the offer of abundant life…. Refusing this invitation is like shouting, “Bring on the consequences!”

My life has had to bear the scars of my “consequences”. I have people who have been, and still are journeying with me, that can give testimony to that fact. In my early years I chose to refuse His invitation and decided that I could do a better job at living my life.  Whilst I know without a shadow of doubt that my sins have been forgiven, I still bear the responsibility of the consequences of those sins.  And yet, even in those consequences, God has been ever gracious, ever loving and ever present.  I know that I am welcome exceedingly abundantly MORE than I can imagine, at His table.  He calls me Princess.  He places a Crown of Righteousness on my head.  I am worthy to be His child.  And my consequences are really only woven into a robe of beauty as He fulfills His promise that He “causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”

Should Ipo decide to return home, she will be shown no less consideration.  She will be warmly welcomed.  She will be smothered in love and kisses.  I am sure that Bubbie will spend a lot of time walking around, holding her and whispering quiet words of love and comfort into her ears.  I might even open a can of tuna and allow her the honor of licking it clean! =)  She will be cuddled throughout the evening and I bet we might fight over which bed she will get to sleep on. (Well, not Sis, she likes a kitty-free sleeping arrangement!)  My mind is FULL of all the things we can do for her!  Once again, my thoughts drift to the Prodigal son’s father.  I bet he too, mentally planned all kinds of celebration parties for his son if he was ever allowed to see him again.  Playing it over and over in his mind for all the years his son was gone. So much so, that when the day finally came and he saw his son staggering down the road towards him, that he picked up his cloak and RAN to him!!  He grabbed up his son in a warm embrace and held him tightly. He carried him home, and dusted him off and put into motion all the things he had been planning for so long.  The joy!!! The excitement!!! The fullness!!!  His son was *finally* home.

Ipo, still has a decision to make, if she can……………………………

01. Nov, 2011

The choices we make….

The choices we make….

I heard the news exactly one week ago today.  As I read the words it felt as though all the air had escaped from my body. Sitting in stunned silence I thought to myself, “this must be a mistake, surely this can’t be true.” One minute rolled into the next, until I soon realized that I had somehow lost an hour as I read every article I could on the murders.  Not because I knew the victims but because I know the accused.

I’m not sure there are any words to describe how you feel when you find out an old friend has committed an act so utterly horrific.  As the days have gone on a numb dread had started to fill my soul. I watch helplessly as the news continues to roll in with words like: four murdered, guilty confession and death sentence. My heart tightens in my chest as I begin to realize that there is a very real possibility that this crime spree of murders will lead to more deaths.  Yet it won’t be because of a gun but rather an injection filled with a lethal cocktail in an attempt at justice. I’ve looked into the eyes on the mug shots of my friend and am stricken with grief because there is nothing there but emptiness.  If eyes are a window to the soul then these ones display a window of detachment and death. These pictures have haunted my mind as I realize that somewhere along the line my friend gave up.  Somehow along the way she forgot that she didn’t have to stay stuck in a life of drugs and alcohol.  She lost herself in the everyday battle that many of us faced as we grew up and she gave into the despair that surrounded her. As I saw her picture flash across the news I was looking into the eyes of someone who had lost hope along the way and with it, her soul.  The sad thing is that the lethal injection won’t be what kills her because my friend is dead already.

I’ve cried over the multiple murder victims and for their families.  My heart has grieved over the despair they must feel.  I can’t possibly begin to understand how much pain these families are in.  I’ve wept over the unfairness of lives cut short, for people who had no idea that when they woke up that day, that it would be their last or that they would die at the hands of my friend. I’ve cried for my friend’s family and the fact that their lives have been turned upside down as they become a family who raised a “killer”. I can just imagine their reactions as they heard the news and the devastation that must fill their hearts. I wish that I could run to them and wrap them in my arms, somehow trying to take this nightmare away from them.  Honestly though, I have mostly wailed over the destruction Satan has accomplished at the hands of my old friend.  I weep for the very soul that has been lied to for so long it can’t tell which way is up.  I’ve raged against my friend and I’ve raged against Satan, infuriated that it could ever come to this.  I’ve cried out to God, begging for Him to somehow intervene.  I’ve laid my heart out to Papa in raw emotion, not quite knowing what to say but knowing that He would understand the cries radiating from my heart.

One of the most gut wrenching things for me is that because of my friend’s choices in the past and leading up to the murders, the reality was it was just a matter of time before something like this happened. I look back through the years and I can see specific times in our journey together that had she made a different choice, her life would not be where it is at now but could have turned out radically different. As I said we were friends at one stage and to be honest there was a point that I was headed down the same path she was. If something had not drastically changed, there is no telling where I would be now. I was reminded this week how precious God’s amazing grace is to me, you see God changed my life profoundly. He called to me and simply asked me to follow Him, I had the choice to say no or the choice to follow and see where His road would lead.   I am so thankful that I chose His path, by doing so I was rescued from a life that would lead me to where my friend stands now. We were both given the choice, but for some reason I accepted and she did not. I’ve struggled this week with asking God why? Why didn’t my friend listen to Him? Why did He choose me? Why didn’t He save her too? Why did He allow her to commit those murders?  Do you know what the answer was that I kept getting?  It’s a choice.  God presents us with the choice to follow Him or to reject Him.  We can listen to the Truth till we are blue in the face but unless we make the choice to take it to heart; it will fall on deaf ears. God is a gentleman and He won’t force us down a road that we don’t want to go down.  To tell you the truth for a moment I was mad at Him (thankfully God is okay with that) because I wanted Him to turn back time and make my friend choose to follow Him.  I wanted Him to force my friend to choose a better path. But as the moment passed He reminded me that you can’t force love no matter how badly you might want to.  He wants to love my friend, but He would never make her accept His love against her will, it’s got to be her choice.  She chose to keep walking the destructive path in front of her, maybe believing there was no other way but to continue walking down the dangerous road. Though it is hard, I have to accept that it was her choice to not look up from her self-destruction.

To be honest this week I have wrestled with a lot of conflicting emotions, riding the roller coaster of grief as it has come in its various stages.  The only thing I know left to pray is that maybe my friend will finally be ready to listen when God calls and that her soul might be saved before it’s too late.  Until then I will continue reading the news with the belief that God has a bigger plan than I can ever know or understand.  I trust that God sees her and knows exactly where she is at and so I place her in His capable hands, praying that she will make a choice to surrender her life to His plans.

11. Jul, 2011

Shattered Mirror

Shattered Mirror

The mirror is shattered
glass pieces scattered
across the ground
with the shards of the past
distorting every angle
when did beauty become defined
by what you see
instead of who you are
when did we replace
God’s value
with the world’s insane ideal
can somebody tell me
what is real
we poison the minds
of our future generations
destroying their worth
with impossible standards
reminding them daily
they will never measure up
where did we go wrong
and how do we keep
letting it go on
wake up from your apathy
look around and see
this vanity crisis
is devastating
when did significance
start getting measured
by a number
found on a scale
how dare we destroy
the hearts and souls
of these beautiful creations
rise up now
and start a revolution
it’s time to stop playing the game
and start teaching them
about true beauty
and learning to believe it
ourselves.
July 8,2011

13. May, 2011

Lessons from a Luggage Cart

Lessons from a Luggage Cart

I’m about to head out to another airport to begin my trip home to see my family on the other side of the world. Airports are interesting places, wonderful places to people watch.

Lessons from a Luggage Cart

As I’ve watched folks, I’ve observed some broad generalities in people, particularly when it comes to their luggage and travel.

There are those that have luggage carts weighed down with multiple bags, often pushed by parents trying to figure out where to go, keeping the cart going straight and trying to keep their small children in tow. People that look exhausted, bogged down with the responsibilities and searching for the right direction.

Then there are those, often in business attire, pulling a lone rolling carry-on bag behind them. They are focused, know right where they are headed and moving with what appears to be purpose. They may be checking their messages on their phone or talking into their Bluetooth headset. They get frustrated with the luggage cart crowd and never slow down enough to notice let alone enjoy where they are.

Enjoy the ViewFinally, there are the backpackers. They typically stroll leisurely along, and all they need is on their back. They don’t mind stopping to enjoy the view or smell the flowers. They love to engage in conversation and connect with people as they travel. They are more interested in the journey than the destination.

To be honest, on various trips, I’ve fallen into each of those categories. When I traveled most weekends for ministry, I was the focused rolling carry-on person. When we’ve moving internationally, I was definitely the luggage cart Dad. And on some occasions, honestly not enough times, I just carry my backpack and enjoy the experience.

But the observations go beyond just traveling and apply to life. As you travel down life’s highway, are you bogged down by too much luggage and the cares of this world? Are you so focused and filled with agendas that you don’t even stop to notice people and enjoy life? Or do you realize that really, it is as much about the journey as it is the destination?

Might we all stop to enjoy the view, smell the flowers and invest in relationships as we journey through life.

06. Apr, 2011

Choices…

Choices…

There are moments in this life that stop you in your tracks; they can be beautiful moments, tragic moments, good news, bad news, an unexpected answer or a random turn of events. Life is defined by these moments and how you react to them often determines what you truly believe.

I was stopped in my tracks yesterday.  I have nine days left on my current visa to stay in New Zealand and I was told my application for a new visa will not be processed in time. After the initial shock and the tears that fell, I turned to Papa. We went through the range of emotions that come with news like this and He patiently listened to me until I ran out of steam and words and was willing to listen to Him. You know what Papa asked me? “You have two choices. You can try to control this situation yourself or you can turn to Me and trust My plan. It’s your choice. You get to choose how you will react to this and lay the foundation for how you will live your life when the unexpected happens. Do you choose Me or the world?”

Most of my life I have chosen the world’s way of dealing with things, even after I became a Christian. I wasn’t quite sure honestly that God could take care of it. I said with my mouth that I believed He could but my actions spoke the opposite. I would choose to control little things in my life in an attempt to feel some sense of security. The funny thing about trying to control things in your life is that it only makes things worse and the more you try to control the worse it gets. I have seen my life fall apart at the works of my own hands. In an attempt to control something I created more chaos. The AMAZING thing about God is that He continues to give me second chances. He loves me without failing and chooses to pour out unrelenting grace.  2 Corinthians 5:17 is an awesome promise, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” I no longer have to choose my old pattern of behavior because I have been made new in Christ.

I may not have all the answers, in fact I don’t. I don’t know what my tomorrow holds. I don’t know where I will be in nine days time, but I do know that I have made my choice. I choose God. I know without a shadow of doubt that Papa knew this would happen and that He has a plan. I trust that whatever the outcome is I won’t slip from His loving hands. I don’t need to know what happens next, yes it would be nice to know, but at the moment I don’t which means all I need to do is keep my gaze on Papa and not move from the path He has laid.

I’m not going to lie; it’s not easy at this point but who ever said it would be easy? If you were to walk into my room at any moment you would hear worship music blaring as I try to fill my mind and heart with praise and worship to God. I am determined to not allow Satan a foothold in my thoughts, so I am surrounding myself with Truth. Please pray for me as the battle is fierce for my loyalty.

P.S. this is the song I am singing at the moment :)

John Waller~ While I’m Waiting

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve you while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord