Look Good Feel Better Class

Recently I was given the opportunity to attend a Look Good Feel Better class hosted by the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Professional Beauty Association.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but seeing as my excursions out of the house are somewhat limited, I was excited to attend.

Now understand that I am a people person (Well, I love being around people, but that doesn’t mean they always like being around me!) but I can be a wallflower going into an unknown situation. Introverted extrovert anyone?  Or is that extroverted introvert?  Hmmmm.  So here I am, showing up at the prescribed time and I’m late.  Ugghh.  Communication issues…

Fake smile on, let’s go find a seat.

I take a few moments to look around the classroom and its occupants and they’re just like me, mostly…

Some proudly display their absence of hair, some don’t.  

Some enhance their appearance, some don’t.  

(Big dangling earrings on a bald head are mesmerizingly beautiful!)

Some are chatty, some aren’t.  

BUT we are all cancer patients: lung, breast, urterine, etc…

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 There are 6 of us ladies and I believe I am the youngest (42) and the rest are in their 50’s, 60’s, and possibly 70’s??  There is the main consultant and a consultant-in-training (who is a 2 year survivor of lymphoma) teaching us to put on make-up.  Did I mention that I haven’t worn make-up since my diagnosis?  I really didn’t know what this Look Good Feel Better class was all about…  My face looks like the lost member of the Teletubbies, my skin is dry and partially acnified (because who knew that chemotherapy works against cancer cells but has a happy-go-lucky, we’re-best-friends relationship with acne.), and I feel about as attractively human as Medusa – minus all the snaky hair extension things.  No hair here, remember.

And so we began…

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Face cleanser, concealer, foundation, personal story from a cancer patient, blush, comment from someone about how self-conscious she feels when people stare at her, eye shadow, laughter about the effects of steroids, neuropathy issues opening all these little components, (Asking for help to open up all these boxes and compacts and tubes…), and then comes the lesson about how to draw on eyebrows:

Who knew that in my lifetime, I would require a lesson on how to draw eyebrows on my own face!

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I have about 10 eyebrow hairs above each eyebrow right now… 

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Then there is the mascara:

I have about 5 eyelashes on each eyelid right now.  They are not all in a nice neat row either…

Random little suckers; Work with me here!  

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I enjoyed every moment of the Look Good Feel Better class!  I got to hang out with people who knew exactly what I was going through…  It wasn’t about looking good.  It was about connecting with those beautiful women.  Their character was set apart by their fears and the freedom to just be women, who have a disease that makes life very, very difficult and uncertain…  Their triumph is being able to truly enjoy those precious moments of good in the midst of all those fears.  I was privileged to be counted among them.

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Many thanks to all those involved to help make the class happen, those who are part of these organizations that promote something positive in the midst of something so negative, and the companies (almost 40) that supply the components for the gift bags.

 Truly impressive!

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My Perspective and the Decision-Making Process

I recently read an article by a blogger whom I enjoy perusing from time to time.. and I must say that I respect her, as a person (although I’ve never met her), and I enjoy the ‘realness‘ of her writing style.  Her latest article’s topic (promoting Guardasil immunizations) and her perspective gave me pause to ask myself some tough questions… again.

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Guardasil immunizations have been included in my everyday vocabulary for the last 3-4 years.  Because I have 2 girls, I am yearly faced with the well-child visit questions of ‘Will you consent to have your children immunized?‘ with this ‘protective measure‘ to limit the chances of not being diagnosed with cervical cancer (etc, etc, etc…).

Every year, I choose to say my well-informed ‘No thank you.‘ and go on my merry way…

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Here’s the thing.  I was recently diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.  I am currently in the midst of 20 weeks of chemotherapy which will be followed by a single mastectomy and then 4-6 weeks of radiation.  After I heal from all that, I will go back to have reconstructive surgery.  This is all based on the counsel of surgical, medical, and radiation oncologists whom I trust.  A PET scan has determined that my breast cancer has only metastasized to 5 ancillary lymph nodes on the breast tumor side of me.  My surgical oncologist STRONGLY recommended that I have the new and improved ‘blood’ genetic test from Myriad Genetics because I am the 4th woman on my maternal side to be diagnosed with breast cancer.  I submitted myself to the very expensive test that my insurance does not deem necessary and yet, my doctors deem extremely necessary (the denied status has been appealed…).  I also have the unfortunate genetic disposition to have lots of other cancers (though no cervical cancer) on BOTH sides of the family tree. Because of all this I now have to face genetic counseling in the next month…  I have already been informed by my doctors that depending on the results of the genetics test: a double mastectomy and removal of my ovaries would be recommended.

 It’s ALOT to take in…  

ALOT!  

And then there are my 2 girls…  

Oh yeah, by the way, I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.  This means that although I have submitted myself to the testing process for a wide array of sexually transmitted diseases and came up ‘clean’, I still test ‘abnormal’ for my pap smear.  Ask a group of doctors what that means and they can’t even agree…

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My perspective, my decisions affect not only me, but my decisions are made based on my perspective, my belief, of this life that I lead: I believe in Christ; I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  Yes, I am a Christian.  The world says I am alot of things and alot of what they say is not respectful, but I choose not to respond in their ‘manner’.  

My decisions for my health will be made by myself and my husband, because I trust his wisdom and guidance.  We will make the best decisions for myself and our children based on the wisdom and guidance that we trust which will include the medical advice of doctors that we trust, and let me tell you that there are doctors that I would never trust!

My husband and I choose not to have our children receive the Guardasil immunization.  This is our well-informed choice based on what we believe is best for our children.

It is our choice alone.

You must make your own well-informed choice for your children.

My heart grieves for those who suffer from the diagnosis of cervical cancer; my heart grieves for those who suffer from any type of cancer.

It’s hard.  

It affects you body, soul, and spirit.

This is something that I know all too well as I live in the midst of it right now… but there is no guarantee that after all the chemotherapy and surgeries and radiations that my cancer will not return.

No one can give me an absolute 100% guarantee.

In fact, my chances are increased for developing lymphoma… but I do have this day to love my blessed little family and live in the ABSOLUTE wisdom and trust of my great God.  I choose to live it always giving the glory to Him for everything that He has so graciously allowed in my life including… cancer.

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Never be afraid to ask yourself the tough questions…

again…

and again…

and again…

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To my fellow blogger, whom I’ve never met:

Thank you for challenging me to think and ask!

Sometimes, I just wonder.

IMG_20140306_225255Cute kid, huh?  Notice anything in particular? 

So Princess Pink comes up to me the other day and says, “Mom, I hurt my head.”  And I’m like, “What happened?!?”  And she says, “I was dragging my head across the carpet…”  “What!?!“, I reply.  And then, my very beloved and intelligent daughter demonstrates to me how she purposely dragged her head across the carpet giving herself an ever-so-lovely rug rash burn.

Okay, yes that’s snicker-worthy, but it gets better. ..

She wanted to put a band-aid on it, and since I am forever running out them, she cuts a strip of sport’s tape and sticks it on her wound!  I tried to tell her, but who am I to tell an 8 year old about the pain involved when the said tape is removed from the said wound???

And so, the next day when she removed it…  We all heard it.

Our children are funny little creatures that need our guidance.  This concept of them knowing what they want at the ripe old age of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and you get the point… is just the result of someone’s philosophical idealism.

Don’t believe me? 

Ever tried to reason with a 5 year old?  Or in my case, an 8 year old…

FUGETABOUIT

Oh, ‘How do I start this?‘ and ‘How do I end this?‘  Ugh…

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I’m simply just working out my thoughts, working them outside of my head, because they’re circling like a pack of vultures on the inside of my head. (Just wanted to point out that this is my blog, my personal blog, and there are no names, no relationships, no severely defining details to make you tighten the screws on your head trying to figure out stuff that is just what it is, ‘stuff’.) If you are reading this, Welcome! And don’t be surprised that I am forewarning you to ‘run for the hills‘.  NOW!
Inserting roadblock sign…
41_01_54_prevPeople are funny creatures.  Seriously, you’ve got to look at them as funny because if you don’t, then you realize that people are really mean and uncaring and like totally, into themselves!  And if I said that about them then I would be considered judgmental and bigoted with a super-sized side order of many phobic something or others…
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Do you ever stop to wonder how you come across to people?
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Recently, I was involved in a drive-by. No, not the drive-by media or a drive-by shooting… I was involved in a verbal drive-by.
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A person, who for whatever reason is never interested in any aspect of my life except for my wrongdoings, gave me the what-for concerning something I posted on Facebook. They made an assumption about my motive for the post. When I responded to their ‘concern‘, they seemingly ‘fell off the face of the earth‘ claiming only to my spouse, not me, that THEY were busy with responsibilities, and then, they proceeded to take my spouse to task for MANY reasons with no facts or evidence, including this assumption: Apparently, I’m the type of person who would take a picture of some pornographic billboard and post it on Facebook.
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I thought that was ‘funny‘ (see the above definition of why something is funny) because if they truly were concerned about my actions and my motives then they would have been concerned with my edification. But alas, their true motive was revealedThey cared nothing for me; they only cared about THEM setting ME (and my spouse) on the straight and narrow path. And now, there is no communication… Why?  Because they don’t want to address the heart of the issue. 
They just wanna FUGETABOUITAs if it never happened…
  Oh, don’t get me wrong, they want to talk about my wrongdoings and my husband’s apparent inability to take his wife ‘in hand’, but they don’t want to talk about the possibility that they jumped the gun prematurely and maybe, just maybe, that they should listen with their ears instead of their mouth.
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Why do people do that?  Why do they ignore the ginormous albino elephant in the room?  I can’t figure it out.
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Why do people ignore the facts, the people, the circumstances in favor of their own uninformed assumptionsYeah, yeah, I know, asking that question makes me: Judgmental and bigoted with a super-sized side order of many phobic something or others.
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Now you see why I say people are funny creatures.
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I’m a people person.  I’m a in-the-middle-of shy and not-so-shy extrovert who needs people.  I love watching people.  I love talking with people.  I love finding out what people think and feel and observe!  BUT, as my Momma use to say, ‘Fool me once, shame on me; Fool me twice, shame on you.
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So, to all the verbal drive-by drivers out there: If you’re gonna drive, drive responsibly and take responsibility for all the damage your reckless driving causes.
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Drive safely and have a NICE day!  😉

The /hɨˈbɪskəs/ and the Sciuridae

IMG_20130819_111712_311Meet me.  Well, actually, meet my Hibiscus (/hɨˈbɪskəs/) Tree…

IMG_20130819_110904_676Meet the squirrel (Sciuridae) who is chewing on me. Uh, sorry… 🙂 Meet the squirrel who is chewing on my Hibiscus Tree…

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This tree has been trying its hardest to survive.  I’ve only had it, maybe, 4 or 5 months?  But it has been stressed from the moment it came to my house…

First, we transplanted it to a bigger pot.  It was TOTALLY stressed out for 2 months!  When it finally acclimated to its new living arrangements, it was budding and blooming like a true ‘blooming idiot‘!  But then, it stopped blooming, and we couldn’t figure out why until we started notice leaves missing on the branches.  Every day, more leaves where missing…  And then one day we noticed that the branch tips looked chewed on.  And today, Camo Girl caught the culprit in the act!  There, sitting in my Hibiscus tree, sat a squirrel chomping quite happily on one of my (oops, it’s) large, beautiful Hibiscus leaf…  He (or she) had not a care in the world!

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Now the Hibiscus tree is covered in cayenne pepper and  lemon juice.  Knowing my luck, the squirrel will probably wear a pair of shades and bring an umbrella while he (or she) enjoys my now hot, lemon-flavored Hibiscus leaves…

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THIS SQUIRREL AND I ARE GOING TO WAR!

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My Hibiscus tree will survive and bloom and be beautiful while it survives and blooms.  AND, I will enjoy it while it is beautiful, surviving and blooming. 

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And that is how I want to feel about life right now…  I will survive and bloom!  ‘Cause right now, THAT particular squirrel in my life, is SO done chomping happily on ‘my leaves’!  (Although somebody may have to sprinkle me with cayenne pepper and lemon juice so THAT ‘squirrel’ gets a very bad taste in his mouth! )

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Hello squirrel!

Meet me.

Facebook…

openly supports abortion for underage girls.  They support the murder of innocent helpless babies.

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As I was reading my news feed last night, a post from TownHall.com via their Facebook Page came through with this feed:

2013-08-16 20.36.37This is the link they shared…

I was appalled.

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Facebook allows a page called Virgin Mary Should’ve Aborted?

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So, if I’m religious or I’m pro-life, I should not be offended?  It’s okay to offend me?  This page is not hate speech, according to Facebook, “Z”, “Lilith”, and 8,166 likes…

I shouldn’t be surprised because apparently it is hate speech for Paula Deen to admit saying one word, 30 years ago, and lose multiple contracts.  But it’s okay for Oprah Winfrey to cry racism because she is a black woman and shop girl in Switzerland didn’t recognize her.  Supposedly wouldn’t show her a bag that was on a higher rack, out of arm’s length…  And it’s okay for Alec Baldwin to publicly spout profanity and slurs at a reporter and then be rewarded with his own show?  Oh, and I’m a ‘hater‘ because I’m white; because it’s the entire white population’s fault for the short-sighted actions of a Hispanic man and a black teenager and the ineptitude of the Florida justice system?

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The Facebook page is offensive.  The unidentified partners are willing to post pictures of themselves (young, hip, and like, totally in the ‘know’ of all things), but not their names because “We conceal our identities so the extremists don’t hunt us down and kill us for our beliefs. However we have posted our pics, and we stand by our anti-religion convictions. Unlike god, we can provide proof of our existence.

Huh?

So they think that I (we), religious and/or pro-lifers, are extremists who will what?  Hurt you?  Kill you?

  Seriously?

Your Mommas can provide proof of your existence, but your intelligence seems to be sorely lacking.

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  Grow-up and grow a back bone, already.

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You don’t even know me.  Just like I don’t know you.  And yet, you lump me into a group that will hunt you and kill you and I’m the one that should embrace your desire for participationin these debates – share your insights and express your beliefs. Whether it concerns abortion, LGBT rights, religion, etc., all discussion is welcome.”?  Seriously?  You want a debate?  You got it.

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But putting down one group in order to build up another is cowardly and uneducated

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And here is the kicker, folks…  Facebook supports not only abortion for underage girls, the murder of innocent babies, but they also support hate speech.  Things that make you go Hmmmmmm…  I did report this group, 3 or 4 times, last night.  Each time under a different ‘offense‘.  And three times, twice almost immediately, I got a response from Facebook stating,

Thank you for taking the time to report something that you feel may violate our Community Standards. Reports like yours are an important part of making Facebook a safe and welcoming environment. We reviewed the page you reported for containing self harm and found it doesn’t violate our community standard on self-harm.

and

Thank you for taking the time to report something that you feel may violate our Community Standards. Reports like yours are an important part of making Facebook a safe and welcoming environment. We reviewed the page you reported for containing hate speech or symbols and found it doesn’t violate our community standard on hate speech.

and

Thank you for taking the time to report something that you feel may violate our Community Standards. Reports like yours are an important part of making Facebook a safe and welcoming environment. We reviewed the page you reported for containing nudity or pornography and found it doesn’t violate our community standard on nudity and pornography.

They haven’t responded to me anymore as of 10:11pm EST.  The guidelines for reporting can be found here…  My favorite hypocritical Facebook statement is:

Facebook does not permit hate speech, but distinguishes between serious and humorous speech. While we encourage you to challenge ideas, institutions, events, and practices, we do not permit individuals or groups to attack others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.

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A group that does not even abide by its own standards is not a group to be trusted.

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Here’s a not-so-fun fact: Facebook had taken the page down once before and then, for whatever reason, allowed it back up.

WHAT????

 

Taking The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth; then took the other, as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim because it was grassy and wanted wear, though as for that the passing there had worn them really about the same, and both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black. 

Oh, I kept the first for another day! 

Yet knowing how way leads on to way I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

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 I know “the road not taken” will take me to that point that will have “made all the difference“.  But right now, we have come to the point in the road of actually stepping in the direction of the “road less traveled by“…

It is a road fashioned from obedience to God’s Word: Of faith in something greater than ourselves. 

I know Who holds the future, but I do not know what the future holds. 

Well, I do know that it holds lots of boxes and packing and sorting… through 5 years of memories here at our present location and 17 1/2 years of marriage, love, and family.

What stays?

What goes?

What to sell?

What to keep?

That weighed against ‘Where will we live?‘ and ‘How will we survive?‘ in this present economy is undoubtedly more than I want to dwell on.  I am overwhelmed and yet I am reminded of this verse,

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)

Just trippin’ around…

I have a friend who calls ’emergency cleaning’ (The ‘got a phone call and company will be at AND in your house in 15 minutes’?) the Immaculate DeceptionYou know what I mean, right?  Only certain rooms are cleaned and the doors to all other rooms are shut and locked tighter than Fort Knox…  The unfolded laundry is thrown on somebody’s, ANYBODY’S bed…  You’ve grabbed your husband’s clean ‘man-size’ sock, shoved it on your hand, and gripped that dust that’s been lingering to the television screen and bookcase and ceiling fan and the (Well, you get the picture!)…  The dirty dishes are shoved into the oven (and not remembered until you turn on the oven to cook… and smell THAT certain smell)!  You take your foot and ‘toe-scrubbed’ those spots on the kitchen floor…

What! 

You’re appalled by my cleaning regime, my cleaning methods?  Or are you snickering because you know…  THAT YOU DO IT TOO and never knew it had a special name.

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Honesty is the best policy.  Truly! 

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And yet, it is lacking everywhere we turn…  in our world, in our country, in our governmental leadership, in our families, in our lives, in our personal relationship with the One who Created us.    

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We would rather just ‘sweep‘ it all under the proverbial carpet and hope that no one notices it.  But there comes a day when you trip… and as you lay there on the floor, gasping in ANGUISHING pain, that you have the audacity to ask out-loud “Where did THAT come from?

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Here’s the thing…  If you won’t deal with what is glaring at you like that bright sun-shiny day.  If you won’t deal with what is slapping you in the face, then you will, most assuredly, be tripping over the carpet and wondering how you ended up with ALL that dirt under the carpet that ‘just suddenly‘ appeared!

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Communication requires effort. 

Communication requires two or more people or groups of people. 

Communication requires honesty and truth. 

Communication requires listeners. 

Oh, yes, one more thing… 

Communication requires a broom & dustpan or a humongous vacuum cleaner…  Because that pile of lovelies under the proverbial carpet still needs to be addressed!

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Travel carefully, my friends (and foes).  Others need to walk where you have trod…

On behalf of a grateful nation…

2013-07-02 13.31.56I recently attended a funeral service for a military veteran.  The truth is that I have attended a number of services for military veterans, including my own grandfather’s service…  And I still stand in awe of certain aspects that are present in the honor bestowed on these individuals for their military service.

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First shot of the three rifle volley

You know the rifle volley is coming and as you pause… and almost… tense… for that first explosion of sound, you relax, just for a moment…, and then it comes.

BOOM! 

And I always give a ‘start’ at the sound… even though I know it’s coming, it never fails to catch me off-guard.  And then again, and again, as its shots ring loud, booming its message for all to hear, “This individual is a hero.  Hear now!  Listen.  They fought for a cause greater than themselves. 

They fought for you!”

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Bugle playing Taps

It was a cold, crisp, and clear as I recall that memory of the bugler playing Taps at my grandfather’s funeral.  We were on the side of a Virginian mountain that November day and the sounds of the bugle seem to magnify themselves as they ‘hung’ in that cold air.  Now many years moved forward, my children hear this sound…  It is a haunting sound.  A sound of time standing still…  A sound that reminds you to stand still and take notice of something important!  That history and its traditions has, can, and will continue to teach a reverence for all to hear if they will just stop and listen.

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Flag ceremony

I hate folding any type of cloth, probably because it is usually in the form of my family’s laundry…  But, as I watch those who honor their now fallen comrade, they move forward and grasp those woven threads of red, white, and blue with such precision and the utmost of dignity.  I stand there in amazed wonder at the care and respect given to those interlocking threads that represent freedom for all.

The defined and crisp movements as they move those threads of red and white to be covered, almost buried, into the majesty of blue…   That flag that gives you the freedom of choice: To respect it and the one who fought for it or To disrespect it and the one who fought for it.

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 On behalf of a GRATEFUL nation…

Are we Pharisees?

If you have any knowledge of the Scriptures, then you know that those who sent Jesus to be crucified were his own people.  In fact, they were the creme-de-la-creme of his own kind… the Jewish religious leaders and they hated Him with a passion to surpass all passionsImagine that, hating a perfect man, who always spoke the truth and never hurt anybody.  They couldn’t ‘trip Him up‘ on anything…  Absolutely nothing! 

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Nowadays, you can be imperfect, lie, and cause more damage verbally, physically, mentally, spiritually, and sexually, and still be considered a morally misunderstood soul who just needs someone to understand them just a little bit more…

Argghh…

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Regardless, you read of Christ throughout the scriptures, never once diminishing these individuals, these ‘fair Pharisees’.  Instead, He continued to speak the truth lovingly, saying:  Love your enemies.  Pray for them that despitefully use you.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Bless them that curse you.  Pray for them that persecute you.  Do good to them that hate you.

His Word states that… “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  You know what this means, right?  He died for the unfair Pharisees, those who sent Him to be crucified, as well as the thief on the cross.

How in the world is it possible to do this?  And the answer is…  Because HE IS Jesus Christ.

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Being the wife of a pastor for the last 16 years, I feel like I have seen it all.  I know I haven’t, but right about now… it sure does feel like I have.

Truthfully, some of the meanest people I have ever met are professing believers.  It boggles my mind, truly, to have witnessed professing believers at their finest when they verbally eviscerated their pastor because he isn’t doing something that someone thinks he should be doing.  Or better yet, to hear the screaming and yelling of fellow believers in church and then have them ever-so-calmly state that it was in fact, justified righteous indignation… just as Christ would have done.  Seriously????  Have you not read the scriptures?  You may need to redefine your terms, dear soul… 

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All that being babbled, here’s the thing…  I still have a responsibility to Him, the one who saved me from my miserable, sinful self, to demonstrate the same love that was demonstrated to me.  Whether it is the unsaved world or the saved world, I am not to be like the PhariseesI am to take His yoke upon me and learn of Him.  Because He is gentle and humble in heart, and I WILL FIND REST IN HIM.