Monday, October 27, 2008

A Time for a Paradox

Hello friends,

Don't you just hate contradictions? Things are going along, the way they're supposed to, and suddenly the halves of a whole just don't meet.

Contradictions can also be beautiful. For instance, when I met my husband, I was quite certain that we would never be more than friends. After all, I am, what some people would call, a dreamer, with an artist's temperament. Whereas Louie is practical, a realist. How different we were, and yet, we shared the same faith, although different religions. And I had children who arranged for us to fall in love. We did, and we've grown deeper in love ever since.

A paradox is something that inexplicably happens. Miracles. Faith. Love. Friendship between exact opposites. Growing up in a violent home, and rejecting violence. A relationship with God our Father, when everything you know about your earthly father, makes that connection impossible.

The picture above is a paradox. The pale-pink, Blushing Knockout rose, and the almost red, Double-Knockout rose, are both from the same shrub. Only one branch, of the pale-pink shrub rose blooms red. That strange happening, in gardening circles is referred to as a "sport." In scientific communities, this event is referred to as a mutation. I call it a miracle.

You see, everything is personal to me — my relationship with my family and, especially, my relationship with God. I see Him everywhere. I thank Him for breathtaking sunsets. I thank Him for the rosy glow of dawn. I thank Him for my wonderful family. And I thank Him for you.

I have no idea who follows this blog. Nor do I know where or to whom it is forwarded. I just know that someone, somewhere feels defeated, hurt, and alone. In my heart of hearts, that is where I go with this blog.

I have shared with you my journey, prayerfully, and paradoxically, humbly. I have shared my journey through the longest Presidential campaign that I have ever experienced in my forty years of voting. I've lost friends, because, as a Conservative, I haven't been "conservative" enough, and, as a "Caucasian," I haven't been "white" enough. For me, that is truly a paradox.

I have never judged people by the color of their skin. Yes, in spite of his cruelty, in later years, my father taught me, that no one is better than me, but I'm no better than anyone. That has stayed with me, my entire life.

Growing up in the segregated south, I never understood segregation at all. It hurt me, deeply, to witness that suffering. It was cruel; it was ugly; and it was dumb. In my whole life, I have never identified myself as belonging to a race, except for the human race. And the racism surrounding our present election, is the ugliest thing that I have ever seen.

The ignorance about Senator Obama's ethnic origin, and especially about his faith, coming from Christians who insist he is a Muslim, is downright sickening. If I call myself a Christian, and I don't recognise a Christian, well, I have bigger problems than who is going to be the next President.

We live in a garden of God's creation. Some of us have been given darker skin, and some of us have been given lighter skin. We have different colored hair, curly or straight. We have different faith's. Even within the Christian faith, there are differences. However, according to Scripture, we are all in the family of God.

Racism of any kind, is a slap in the face of God, who created each of us. I can't do it. God has blessed me with so much. And as I was growing up in the south, the kindest people in my life, were African Americans. So, how could I? How could anyone? How could I hurt anyone that way? I am tired of the way things have been. I am tired of seeing someone sell his soul for the power of the Presidency. I'm tired of the lies and the distractions, so that the electorate will not see the ugly truth.

In my region of the Appalachians, there is land that has been in one family for hundreds of years, that have been foreclosed. My husband's 401k has shrunk astronomically. Banks are not lending, so small businesses have not been able to meet their payroll. I see it. We've experienced it. I get it. My vote will not go to those who act like they have no heart. What did Jesus say? What does it profit someone, if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?

I'm not playing the game. I see the reality. Yes, this dreamer does see what is. It has been obvious for a long time. Power, in the hands of someone who worships power, is not Godly. And I wonder about the soul of a person who throws around accusations, merely to muddy the waters. Jesus said, that we should remove the board from our own eye, before we try to remove a speck from someone else's eyes.

Finally, I must say, that a paradox can be either beautiful, like the roses in my picture; or a paradox can be ugly, professing faith in God, but not following His commandments.

Love your neighbor as yourself.
You cannot say you love God, but hate your neighbor.

These are the teachings of Christ, the Son of God, my Savior. His words are always to be obeyed. I must search my heart and fight the monsters of bigotry and racism. I must, or I am doomed.

Father in heaven. I have offended You by the thoughts that I have allowed to fester in my heart. How could I? Please forgive me. Grant me the grace to understand that each of us is precious in Your sight, and may we all seek to be obedient, especially if the result is a paradox. May we be like these roses, both beautiful, yet so different. Two, and yet one.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Time for Little Dogs

Hello friends,

It's a small thing. For one thing, they're little. Courageous and fool-hardy; delicate and strong; faithful and independent; spirited and cuddly -- in the autumn of my life, I don't know what I would do without my little dogs.

Now, mind you, when everyone is home, Pixel, the fuzzy one follows Jenny from pillar to post. Helen's shadow is the little fox, Peanut. And Happy Dog, my black and tan mini dachshund, is all mine. On week-day mornings, however, after the front door closes for the last time, all the little dogs turn to me.

I cuddle them, stroke them, and keep close tabs on where they are for the rest of the day. Is Peanut lying with her face pressed into the gate, willing her mistress to come home NOW!? Is Pixel, because of her young age, feeling left out and needing extra reassurance, that she, too, is special beyond compare. At nearly eleven years old, does Happy Dog, who carries the scars of back surgery, along with atrophy in his hind end, feel replaced, because of my love for other little dogs? So, I cuddle him, for as long as he'll let me, then I toss the ball that he brings to me, while he barks his instructions.

These little dogs give more to me, than I give to them. When life gets me down; when I feel helpless to change events or people; when, yet, another friend abandons me, simply because I don't think, feel, or act in some preordained way; then I turn to these little dogs. Something, remarkable happens in my soul. I feel hope, peace, and laughter just bubbling to come forth.

Somehow they know, now is the time to make "Grammy" laugh. Now is the time for all of us to climb on board and totally take over her afternoon nap. Now is the time to tell her just how much we need and trust her. Now is the time for love.

Oh, let me tell you, with these little dogs, my life is less weary. My hopes are more possible. My dreams are not far away. And though I can't change a single thing about this old, sinful world in which we live, I can change the look of sorrow or loneliness or wistfulness upon the faces of these little dogs. I cannot change the world, but I can change a piece of it, for them.

Human friendships come and go. Prejudice and bigotry still raise their ugly heads. People identify themselves with one group or another. I don't fit in. Except for my family and a house filled with these little dogs, I am a stranger.

Jesus said, "I was a stranger, and you welcomed me." He also said, "Not a sparrow falls to the ground, that your Heavenly Father does not know, and you are worth more than many sparrows." As He measures the worth of my little dogs...Pixel-Mixel; Peanut (Bee-nah, Bee-nah); and my little dachshund, Happy Dog, I am certain this Lord of the universe, feels warmed by the love they give so willingly. I am certain that He knows their hearts and their names.

My God is a personal God. He is not looking for prayers that come from the lips, but He desires prayers that come from the heart. He longs for a relationship with me. And, as the Psalms tell us so eloquently, "as the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for You, oh Lord." My personal relationship with the Son of God, is first in my heart, just as His relationship is with me. You see, God is capable of an intimate relationship with each of us, individually. And though my comparison is pretty pathetic, when I am with my little dogs, I think of just how much God loves me...and you...and someone else. Without taking from one to give to another, God loves me.

Dear Lord, forgive my inadequate comparison to describe your love for each of us. I do love passionately, each little dog that you have placed in my care. Each is precious in his or her way. Each is irreplaceable and individual. I never thought that love could be so unique and inclusive. Perhaps I never believed I was worthy of your love. So, though it may seem sacrilegious to compare myself to You, or Your love to my passion for these little dogs, I know You understand. You, who spoke in parables, understand the allegory of this day. Thank You, my God, for Your understanding and love.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Time for Belonging

Hello friends,

There is no doubt about it. I'm not a "joiner." I find friendships complicated, and I am uncomfortable in crowds. A writer's life, out of necessity, is a solitary life. I research, and I write. It's what I do. It's what I love.

When I began to write on the internet, I was terrified. Every time I posted a story, my heart would pound, my mouth would become dry, and my hands would sweat. You see, I write, not so much with my hands or head, as I do with my heart.

Heart writing is often considered trivial...not real writing. In my past it was referred to as "emotional" or "sentimental." Well, that brings us to today. I've been pretty successful; however, I have touched more hearts than I have collected money.

Heart wounds are painful, almost unbearable. My healing has been through sharing my own defeats and triumphs. I've tried to learn from my pain, and I have tried to heal with my writing. Somewhere, someone needs to know: You are not alone; someone cares; someone has felt what you feel; someone has been you. It's a small thing, but I can remember a time when I desperately needed to know these very things. I promised, after I hit bottom, that I would do everything I could to touch the hearts of others: the alone, the lost, the afraid.

So, now you know. Outside of my family, I have no close friend, except for a dear friend from long ago. I do, however, have a husband and daughters who love me very much. I love being with them. I also have my dogs: Happy Dog, Peanut, Pixel, and Jessie; and my cat, MeowMeow. I love very hard. I put everything into it. It makes me vulnerable. So, I pour out my heart onto the page. I write to you, to simply share my day, my hopes, my aspirations, and my sorrow.

I know that I am not alone, but someone reading this may feel very alone. It's hard. These are tragic times. But I believe that we are on the threshold of a new day, and that our very best lies ahead.

Whoever you are, please don't give up. I will be praying. And though I don't know your name or your pain, God does. I say this with all my heart. Hold on. Life can be beautiful. And that is what I give to you today.

Father, bring us through these uncertain times, and grant us your peace, and a vision of safety and comfort in the days ahead.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Time for Uncertainty

Hello friends,

My bank card worked today. I held my breath. I reminded myself that the money is there, and I can depend on the FDIC, but I held my breath. These are uncertain times. They're unfair, and they shouldn't have happened, but they did. I think some of us were holding our breath all along. At least I was. Things could not have gone on, like a wild west stampede. With people hiding the truth from their own hearts, and denying the obvious.

We're not the only people who have watched their 401K shrink. We finally moved everything over to bonds. Pray that they don't fail. We're not rich, but we're not poor either, and we've been truly blessed with one another.

I knew that the economy was in trouble when the first "payday cash" places started springing up. They're the people who "hold" your personal check and give you cash, until payday. They're leeches, preying on the poor. I hate them. Oh God, what can I say? Many lives this day are windswept, just like that naked tree in the photo. I'm so sorry.

I wrote a poem seven years ago, about a time of great uncertainty, in my life. Those were dark days for me, just as this day may be dark for you. I promise you that there is One who knows and understands our hearts, even in the midst of shadow. He is the only One whom I can see will carry us through. I wish I could give you more than this.

The Journey

Each night, I'd lay upon my bed,
The pillow cradling my head,
Then, wearily, I'd 'play my mind'
With all regrets, I'd left behind.

The day before, had left me pale...
The future, where I'd, surely, fail...
The times I could have done so much...
To reach a heart, with just a touch.

I saw each one, the great and small...
The 'loved ones,' I'd not loved at all...
The hopes and dreams of all the years...
I'd concentrate upon my fears...

I'd missed each "moment" that I could,
Begin again, and done much good.
I'd see, each picture of my grief,
And "time" would steal me, like a thief.

All the joy, within my soul,..
The worship that could make me whole...
And, yet, a voice, so deep, within...
The 'Light' that shines, to heal my sin...

Calls me, forward, from the dark...
A small caress; a chance remark...
Remembered kindness from a friend...
Belief that this is not the end...

All come, at once, and I can feel,
That, surely, I've begun to heal.
I find a strength, I've never known,
Beyond myself, like 'coming home.'

I look into my loved ones' eyes,
And I, begin to realize;
That, through the dark and, tortured climb,
God has 'been there' all the time!

© Jaye Lewis, 2001

With love,
Jaye Lewis

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