Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Skull Man

Photo Credit: Pinterest.com

Sometimes when we get caught up in a cause we forget to keep first things first. As Christians, regardless of how happy or sad, how busy or non-busy, how involved with other things or not involved with other things we find ourselves, the Great Commission remains the same...Be fishers of men.

I guess Father God was reminding me of that the other day when I got the nudge to 'make a sign.'

I was meeting with a couple of gals from The Adoptee Heart for coffee. A few hours before we met, I texted them asking their opinions on putting a sign at our table..."Ask Us About The Adoptee Heart". They were fine with the idea. My printer was on the fritz so rather than print out a sign, I found an old frame, put white paper inside it, and used a marker to write the message on the glass.

When we got together, I propped the sign-picture up against the window we sat beside. We talked and enjoyed our time and I actually forgot about the sign. Well, there was a man we'd seen at this location before and he was there with a younger girl. Actually, I'd seen him there on several occasions and had watched him from the corner of my eye.

This man wears a large skull around his neck and every knuckle is graced with a large silver-colored skull. His hair is cut. He is clean shaven and portly. He has a computer and he and his friend use the WI-FI at the establishment where we were. They travel by bike...bicycles, actually.

After we'd been there chatting for an hour or maybe more, the man stands and starts packing his backpack. He looks at the sign, catches my eye, and says, "Ask Us About the Adoptee Heart, huh?" Then he chuckled a little as he turned away, still getting his gear together.

We all smiled back at and chuckled with him and when he turned back around I asked..."So, did you want to ask us something about the Adoptee Heart?"

And you know what? He did.

He wanted to talk to us about the girl he had with him...has had with him over four years that he treats like a daughter and very quickly assures us there is "no incest or other stuff like that" going on. I have observed them often and she doesn't shirk away from him or act fearful, nor does she hang all over him...I believe he was telling the truth. He wanted to talk about her past abuse and his. He wanted us to know they are both going to college on line and that's why they go to this particular place every evening...because they 'behave' themselves and are welcomed there. He wanted us to know they are homeless and such experts at camping that they post camping tips on YouTube. He wanted us to know why he wears skulls, too...to scare the bad guys away. The bad guys jumped him some time ago and dislocated his ankle. It wasn't the first time he'd been attacked. He wanted us to know he has a problem with anger and doesn't like to be touched. He has been touched in hurtful ways in both childhood and adulthood.

But every single time I've seen him, he's treated this girl kindly. His conversation to us is filled with the desire for her to have the best of life, unlike his personal life story.

We talked about Jesus, and he told us where he went to church years ago, a place we were all well acquainted with in Virginia Beach. But right now, he wanted us to know, he's mad at God. None of us blinked twice at that 'confession'. Nor were we dissuaded in our conversation. We told him God could take his anger. We talked a little more and he seemed to show some willingness to work things out with God. We talked about understanding abuse. We told him he'd be WELCOME in our church any time, and later we determined to watch for them just in case they accepted the invite. You know, to help with that 'I-feel-like-an-outsider-here' factor.

Now, listen. As much as I love my sisters, they are as ordinary as you and I. (Even though they are extraordinary in my heart.) We were just three women of the 'older' generation having coffee, listening to the whisper of God and putting up a sign to see what might happen.

Once upon a time and not so very long ago, I saw an empty church resurrected to a place greater than it's former self because 3 women got together to pray. So, I believe anything can happen when we gather together single-mindedly and God's in it. Anything.

You know, our new friends didn't ask us for or elude to a need for money once. Not once.

After a while, they left to meet another friend and we ladies just sort of looked at each other a few seconds. Then our wheels started turning and we got excited about what God might have been doing and what we could do in the future, especially for the young lady.

FAST FORWARD...Wednesday evening and our pastor is talking about just this sort of thing...diversity that certainly includes but also goes well beyond the idea of racism. Diversity God's way...inclusive of ALL who walk into our lives and through our church door.

You know, that doesn't mean that we pray for our church to grow, get new people in, make them comfortable as we get to know them a little and then decide we don't like they way they look, think, act, talk or smell after all. No. We make the decision to love every new and different person who enters and we stick to it and we stick to it by showing that love with more than a polite Sunday smile. And don't think for one second that people don't know when we're just being polite.

So, as we were lingering talking to folks after church, and as my hubby and I hadn't eaten, we mentioned we were going to this same place to get a bite. One of the other ladies and her hubby decided to join us and another friend who's wife was busy at another event. So, we all met there and I know you already know who was there. Our new friends! We talked to him a little while outside, then went inside and said hello to her.

You know what he told us then? Again, how he wanted this girl to have a better life and that he was doing the best he could but if there was a better life waiting for her, (and he indicated that he meant among women like us and our church), he was all for it. Then he said if we would want to meet with her on a regular basis there, he'd be all for that, too.

HOW COOL IS THAT?

So, if any of you other local ladies involved with The Adoptee Heart want to meet with us as we meet with this girl in the very near future, the opportunity is open. As she seems a little shy and maybe even a little overwhelmed by our attention, I'd really like to get her used to us in the next week or two and then maybe add more to the equation. And if you have friends who you believe God would work through to love this young lady, they'd be welcome, too. Let me know!

I don't know if our new friend will ever want to walk through our church doors. He's badly bruised. But maybe if some of our men would rub shoulders with him a bit and show genuine friendship towards him...maybe he'd become more receptive. He did speak of visiting another church sometimes. And the truth is, I'm not so interested in him having to come to 'my' church. I'm much, much more interested in his having a way to work through some of the things he talked to us about. I do believe men of true Godly integrity are a part of his answer and I happen to know several men like that attend the same church I attend. But I know men in several area churches that would extend heartfelt greeting to him as well. Let God decide all that...our job is merely to fish.

Jesus said He'd make us fishers of men. He's given us the heart. He's given us the opportunity. He's given us plenty of bait, found in His Word and our sincere care...So there's only one thing left...

"You get a line an' I'll get a pole, Honey!
 You get a line an' I'll get a pole, Babe!
 You get a line an' I'll get a pole,
 We'll go down to the fishin' hole,
 Honey, Sugar-Baby, Mine!"

~Cindy <3


Friday, August 19, 2016

Holding the Trigger Finger at Bay

Pet peeves are those little things that get our goat. Things that often don't mean a hill of beans to the next guy but can keep us up at night thinking about it. Truth is, if my peeve is that big, it would be better labeled as a trigger.

Triggers make our guns fire. Sometimes we aim at others, often we aim at ourselves and that translates into something horrific like a night of tossing and turning, overeating, or chewing our nails to the quick. Or worse...drinking until drunk, over-medicating from the medicine cabinet or outright getting high from illegal drugs. Cutting. Fighting. Closing ourselves off. Even sleeping around.

And then there's the not sleeping at all thing. Torture.

Except for the last item, which is a result of an overly wound up nervous system, all of these reactions are an attempt to numb pain so we need to understand the difference between a peeve and a trigger. Peeves aggravate, triggers activate. Sometimes a peeve can turn into a trigger. I think most, if not all the time, we have some say in whether or not that happens.

A few days ago, I was peeved. It could have become a trigger, but because I knew I was close to letting it become a trigger, I countered to keep from over-reacting to the imbecile who isn't adopted, isn't a first-mother and isn't an adoptive mother, talking to me as if she knew what she was talking about when it was clear to me at word five that she was...well, as I said, an imbecile.  

We were speaking of my recent illness, (which she announced before the entire produce section of the grocery store). I ignored her rudeness and figured since we were going public, I'd use the opportunity to get in a plug for the need of adoptees to have access to their history. I told her I had just recently discovered via my birth dad that I have a genetic predisposition for the particular illness I'd suffered. 

Think, whiny voice:
Her: "Oh...thaaaat's riiiiighhht...I forgoooot you are adoooooooooopted." (In the sense she is speaking, I am not adopted; I WAS adopted. See my former post on the importance of this semantic.)
Me: Smiling nicely for all the grocery store people: "Yes, and it's really important that access to records..."
Her: "Well, I can see that access to meeedical history could be necessary..."
Me: "Yes. It IS necessary...for more reasons than medical...Oh, look at the time! Did you see those Cotton Candy grapes they're selling? Gotta go get me some of that! -See ya!"

A quick wave and 25 deep breaths later, I'm fine.
Except for now because I'm hashing it all up again. I guess I better forgiiiiiiiive her. (Really, I promise to...In fact, I'm already there.)

My pseudo friend honestly didn't have a clue and was really only concerned with pulling off the facade of being wise and get her worthless two cents worth in. My counter? To smile, politely nod and quickly end the conversation so I could continue my shopping without losing any more precious energy.

I've been learning a lot about expending emotional energy and gauging whether or not I'm up for it, and more importantly, whether God would have me engage. See, if I left it up to me, myself and I, I'd always be engaging...hotly, most likely. But He gave us these fearfully and wonderfully made bodies that He programmed in such a way as to recognize stress...if we'll listen...and avoid when necessary. 

That day, avoidance was necessary. In fact, I'm finding most days, it's necessary. 

So, yes... a peeve for me is a person spouting off about adoption when they've never experienced anything to do with it. Or maybe they've dabbled on the fringes without actually diving in to see what it's all about. They have all the conventional answers and the conventional answers that peeve me the most are those that come from white-washed walls painting a white-washed picture of the truth and then spreading the tall-tale to others. 

And when these energy-suckers clash with my daily day, I have to choose not to engage in battle. Sometimes, depending on the person, their mood and mine, I'll tell them about Adoptee Heart. Other times, when I know they won't listen because they already know all they want to know, I just smile and go buy the Cotton Candy Grapes for $4.99/lb. Expensive yes, but it held my trigger finger at bay, kept my blood pressure down, and I've rationed the grapes daily, so I still have a few more left for tomorrow. (OMGranny, they are some kind of good!!)

Here's to you, my friends...Keep those triggers tamed! <3