Monday, July 8, 2013

Go Ahead - Cast the First Stone!

If you've been in church very much at all, you might have heard the story; those of us who grew up in church for sure know it, have probably heard songs about it - maybe even sang them ourselves, and probably referenced it a time or two. You know the story:

We find it in the New Testament, a story of a woman caught committing a sin, but so much more than that, the story of many religious people who thought they had laid the perfect trap to catch this man they called Jesus. I can imagine they had probably plotted - planned down to the most minute detail how the scenario would go down; the plan was to bring this sinner to Jesus - this woman they had caught in the act - I repeat, in the VERY ACT - of adultery...(sounds a little fishy to me - seems like this woman was awfully handy, if you know what I mean) they would bring her to Him, tell Him her story, and ask Him what He thought they should do with her. The Law said she should be stoned; if He said, "Do with her as the Law demands", they would accuse Him of being harsh, cruel, and judgmental. If He told them to let her go, they would say He was not upholding the Law - either way, it couldn't look good - at least, they'd make sure it didn't look good.
It couldn't fail, right?
Or could it?

As the story goes, they brought the woman to Jesus; they told Him what she had done; they told Him what the Law commanded they do with her; then they asked Him: "What do YOU say we should do with her?"
Jesus ignored them.

He stooped down to the ground, maybe whistled a little tune (hey, I'm using my imagination here!), and using His finger began to doodle in the dust at His feet. What did He write? The Bible doesn't tell us. Many have surmised, and I, too, think that possibly He might have written the names of some of the men (these Pharisees - religious leaders, no less) who had been involved in the same sin they were now accusing this woman of committing! Whatever it was, some of them started getting a little squirmy.
They pressed Him for an answer, "Master? What do say we should do with her? Should we stone her?"
Jesus, still stooped to the ground, replied in essence, "Go ahead...but...let the man who is without sin cast the first stone."

And He resumed His writing.
After some time passed, He looked up to find only the frightened woman looking at Him curiously.
"Woman," He said, "Where are those that accused you? Has no one condemned you?"
"No, sir," she replied. "They have all gone."

Where did they go?! Just a few moments before they seemed to be clamoring for her blood, but now, they had all gone - slipped away without a word! The Bible tells us that, "...they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last..." (John 8:9, KJV).

We know that Jesus then told this woman, in John 8:11, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." 

 We Christians often ponder about how Jesus didn't condemn the woman; we reflect on the mercy He showed her; we might wonder what sins the Pharisees had committed that made them slink away like a chastised dog creeping off with his tail between his legs.
We use this story as an opportunity to boldly proclaim: Don't judge!
And these are good things to think about.

But then life happens...and we forget about the stones.

...We see someone committing what seems to us to be a horrible sin, and we loudly exclaim, "How can they do (blank) and call themselves a Christian?!" *Whooosh! A stone flies through the air.*

...We see someone else's children misbehaving; we think to ourselves (or even say to our friend or family), "MY children would never do that! Why, I can't believe how some people let their children act/dress/talk/etc!"

...Someone stops attending our church for whatever reason, and we think, "Oh, They never really paid the price and got a Holy Heart. They didn't want to walk in the light - that's why they left!"

...We see someone who used to attend our church, and first thing we do is look them over to see how their dressed; maybe their sleeves are too short, their clothes too tight - whatever it is, we snort to ourselves, "Hmmph. I knew they never really had anything.  If they had, they wouldn't dress that way..."

...Someone is a little short with us, and we get our feelings hurt and don't speak to them for months because of it.

...Someone disagrees with us on one issue, and we write them off - even though we agree on all the important stuff.

...We see pictures of someone posted on our facebook page, and without stopping to think what might really be going on in the picture, we take it at face value - for what we ASSUME is going on, and we become disappointed in that person and tell others how we've lost our confidence in them, 'because I saw a picture and they were doing (insert offensive thing here)!"

So many scenarios come to mind I could mention; you may look at the list above and think, Wow, that's silly. But all of the things I mentioned are things that I've actually seen and heard people say or do.

We're so quick to cast stones when it's our pet issue at the forefront. Many times we don't take the time to find out the whole story - we get a snippet of information from here, another from there, and another from over there, we put it all together and make our own story - which may be, and probably is, grossly different from the REAL story - the thing that ACTUALLY happened.
We want to write people off when they don't play the Christian 'Game' like we think it should be played; when they don't don't dress, talk, think, act or believe like we think they should.

When someone judges us for the things we do, we're quick to remind them, "Judge not!". We want them to show us mercy...but in our minds, we're still casting stones at others. When someone does us wrong, we want to throw the book at them - but when it's our pet sin, we want to gloss it over.

Yes, I'm guilty of it just as much as anyone. No, maybe not for the same reasons as you might do it, but I'm still guilty.
We want to remind others not to cast their stones our way...but we want to still keep our pile of stones - just in case - and every once in a while lob them at someone who doesn't measure up.

No, we don't use real stones (last time I checked, throwing rock at people was generally frowned upon), but our 'stones' are just a hurtful. Instead of rocks, we use:

  • Thoughts
  • Words 
  • Attitudes
  • Actions
  • Etc...

Thoughts?! You might wonder how your thoughts can hurt someone. Well, what you think about (thoughts), becomes what you talk about - and a few poorly chosen words can hurt a person for life. Whether it is words spoken to the person, or words spoken to someone else about them, the things we say can do irreparable damage.
But still, even without ever speaking a word, our attitudes and actions can let someone know in no uncertain terms that we don't feel they measure up.

I don't know about you, but I've got enough things of my own to tend to - I don't need to solve everyone else's problems, too.
I need to remember that:

  • kids aren't perfect.  In some areas they may be the most intelligent, well-behaved kids around, but in other areas, they need lots of guidance. Until my children are perfect and without guilt in ALL AREAS, I have no right to judge your kids.    I'll work on training my kids; you work on yours.
  • ...My parenting skills still need lots of help. I'm not always as patient and loving with my family as I should be. They need all the time and attention I can give them. They need my love and acceptance - even when they're driving me crazy and making me want to tear my hair out. My children need me to teach them how to go about doing this thing called 'life' - even when I feel so woefully inadequate at it myself.  You work on being a perfect parent to your children; I'll work on being a better parent to mine.
  • ...I need to work on my own relationship with God; am I doing everything He's asked me to do? Am I living a life of perfect obedience to Him? Do my clothes measure up to the standards He's given me? Do my attitudes always reflect Jesus? Do my words and my actions show joy make people feel loved and accepted, or do I make people feel like my life and the duties that have been assigned to me are a drudgery? Do I count my blessings as often as I should - or do I complain all the time? 

I don't know about you, but taking care of that list right there is going to take up just about all the time I have; you'll have to worry about your own - I don't have time for that!

(a little inter-webz humor...)

I have an idea.

How about, instead of 'throwing stones' at people, we pray for them instead?

  • When we see something that bothers us, instead of judging, how about we pray for the person instead? 
  • When we get our feelings hurt, instead of telling God (and everyone around us) how hurt we are, how about we just pray for the person that hurt us?
  • When someone dresses in a way that we feel is inappropriate, instead of telling them -or anyone else- how bad they are, ask God to lead them, and direct them. (He can tell them how He want them to dress - I don't need to!)

I could go on and on...but you get the point. How much better off would the world - and the Church - be, if we would spend more time praying, and less throwing stones?

The truth is, God doesn't need our help! Yes, He does use people to help do His work, but judging them is HIS job - and He doesn't need us to help Him judge. He can show people how HE wants them to live, talk, dress, act, etc...He doesn't need me to help Him. If they don't have the set convictions I have, SO WHAT? God need me to be obedient and surrendered to Him - He'll worry about the rest.

I don't know about you, but I have enough on my plate just keeping myself in line...

Time to clean out the rock pile!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

In Which the Author Explains Her Adventures in Wedding Apparel-Land

Fear Not, my beloved friends, family, and random-people-who-stalk-my-blog! I have not forgotten you!

Well, at least not TOTALLY!

Actually, I've been waiting to get pictures to follow up on my last post, but, alas, no pictures are forthcoming.
So, I shall fill you in my comings and goings since I saw you last!

When I last posted, I was trying to find an outfit to wear to an upcoming wedding...well, the wedding has come and gone. You, my friends, had the chance to vote for an outfit for me, and out of five votes cast (!), the majority voted for the first one:
 Coral Lace

My readers had spoken - so I went with the first one.

First of all, I ordered the top.
After checking the size charts, etc. and seeing that my size fell on the chart in the normal size that I wear, I ordered that one. (duh.)
It came.
It didn't fit.
It was Waaaaaaaayyyyyyy too big - like, 2 or three sizes too big.
So, I sent it back, and ordered the next size down.

In the mean time, I went tot he store to buy lace to make the skirt.
Four out of five stores no longer had the lace in coral.

Apparently, coral is rather popular this year.

I eventually found it at one of the stores (the highest priced one, of course), and hurriedly bought what I needed.
Only one problem. They were out of lining in that color.
I scrambles back around to various fabric selling stores (forgetting to bring the lace to compare the color), and FINALLY found a fabric I thought would match. (On sale, no less)
I bought it, and dragged my exhausted self home.
It didn't match.

Not to be (too) discouraged, I went to walmart and bought a coral maxi skirt that was three sizes too big - I figured I could use that to line it, in a pinch. It matched perfectly, but since I'd paid full price for it, my penny-pinching conscience was giving me what-for about it, so I went back to dig in my fabric stash.
Well, whaddaya know - I had the perfect fabric all along! A slightly stretchy, lightweight satin-weave twill I got for $1 a yard several years ago, and never used up...
After all that, it took me about 2 hours to finish up the skirt.
It really did turn out pretty!

But what happened to my top?!
Well, about 4 days before I was supposed to leave for the wedding, it came. I rushed to get it out and try it on...

(is the suspense killing you yet??? No? *sigh*)

It didn't fit.
STILL too big.

I quickly went to my computer...calculated the time it had take the last two packages to arrive, contacted the   store I had purchased it from, and decided that I just had enough time - if I had it shipped to Missouri (where the wedding was going to be); so I bought the next size down.

Risky business, I know.
(Turns out, it made it to Missouri before I did - I ended up not going when I had planned, instead traveling with my husband three days later)

To make a long story a bit shorter, when I finally got the opportunity to try the whole outfit on, it all fit...and looked half-way decent, too.

So, if you ever order anything from, order your shirt 2 sizes smaller than normal. I normally wear a size 16 (should I admit that?), and the size 12 top ended up fitting perfectly. I haven't worn a size 12 since before my first child was born...back when I was skinny. :)

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I didn't get a single picture of myself at the wedding. (I am in some of the professional shots that were taken, but I don't have those) So, you'll have to take my word for it. It really was cute together. And comfortable - though my shoes were NOT.

But, just to satisfy your picture-loving selves, I did take some 300+ pictures during the rehearsal/wedding/reception, and I DO happen to have some of my handsome husband and adorable children! :) (Although, if you're my friend on facebook, you've already seen them, I'll share for those that aren't)

Juliana was a junior bridesmaid (the spots all over her dress are where she held a cold bottle of water with her dress because it was freezing her hands...thankfully, it had time to dry before the wedding started)

This ringbearer takes his duties VERY seriously!

Jonathan having a chat with his Uncle Trent - the groom

My men in their tuxes

This is what you get when you have two small children who have had their picture taken about 300 times in the space of a couple of hours...

I'm afraid we may have to keep a leash on this one in a few years...the girls tried to leave after the picture, and he wouldn't let go of their hands! 

One of my two handsome guys. :)

My princess with her Mo-Mo - Brad's grandmother.

And, last but not least:
Congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Trent Davis! 

It was a lovely wedding. We welcomed a new sister into the family, and enjoyed spending time with friends and family. 
And I successfully managed to avoid the camera... :D

And I promise, I'll get you pictures some time!