Prejudices

I want to talk about a very sensitive subject today – PREJUDICE. I am talking about the very real and in-your-face kind that we all have learned to cover up (some better than others).

Some of you may know that I have relatives that live in Germany. I love the country and the people there so much and my heart cries out to be there. That is until I heard about the upheaval that is taking place with the refugees flooding in. (Don’t worry, this is not going to be too political.)

I, like many of you, have heard about the atrocities that have taken place in some of the larger cities, not only in Belgium and France, but in my mother-country of Germany. A few months back there was an incident in the Town of Köln where a group of women were attacked by a group of Muslim men. Sad. Tragic. That was the day I questioned whether or not I really wanted to go back – even to visit. That was that time I prayed a little harder and longer for the safety of my numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and their children and grandchildren. (There are a LOT of them.)

I “chat” regularly with a cousin in Germany whom I have gotten close to since my visit there four years ago. His mother, my aunt, ministers regularly to the less fortunate of their community. Her heart is so soft and goes out to the downtrodden of the world. She counts it an honor to be able to serve. (One of the most godly women I know.) Here’s the rub – she is very conflicted at times because, although she hears about the refugees running for their lives, she also hears about, and sometimes sees, the terrible things that the refugees do. But instead of allowing her fears to hinder her, she continues her work, serving all she can, including refugees.

Remember the cousin I just referenced? He is a sweet, honest, and loving man who follows in his mother’s footsteps. But what he does is stay active in his church. Yesterday we got to talking after church (Germany-time) and I asked him how it was. He started talking about the fact that next Sunday they were going to baptize a few of the refugees that had been going to their church. The FIRST THING I thought of was “Wow, it must be really difficult for a person to become Christian after being Muslim.” Well, my cousin commenced to set me straight. Apparently there are MANY refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan who are, in fact, Christian and that is the main reason they are fleeing their country. My cousin even showed me pictures of a few refugees having dinner with his family after church. The joy I saw on their faces brought me to a revelation:

I am prejudice.

You see, we might not each have the same life experiences, but we each have someone or a group of someones that we are prone to look down upon. It could be a group of people whose intent is to harm and kill others. It could be a group of people who seem to know how to manipulate the system in order to get just what they want without having to do anything for it. It could be a tyrannical leader who smiles and makes nice while at the same time makes his people suffer. It could be an ex-spouse who has betrayed us and makes our life as miserable as they possibly can.

You see, prejudices turn into hate, and we don’t even realize it sometimes. And that is a scary thing. Because as much as we want to justify our behavior as “righteous indignation”, we must be very careful. There is a fine line between that and “love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.”  Jesus knew that very well. He prayed for the very ones who hung Him on the cross. He loved those who were of a different race. He reached out to those who were ostracized for their actions.

Do I think it is right to have prejudices? No – of course not!

Do I think it is right that a group of people think it is okay to harm and kill another group of people? No – of course not!

But the bottom line is we are commanded by the Lord himself to love and pray for those people. The people – NOT the actions!!!

Dare I go so far as to say….“When we have prejudices we are focusing on actions; whereas, when we have love, we are focusing on the person.”

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:23-24.

Let us all, in our small little circle, come to realize that the Lord sees things differently than we do, and perhaps the circumstances we look at and are possibly in the middle of, are in fact handled from out carnal side and are not heavenly at all.

Could you maybe post in the comments a prayer that you might be praying? I am sure we can all be encouraged, just knowing that we all struggle in this area.

Your sister,

Petra

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Finding My Voice

Originally posted 8-31-14
After writing yesterday’s blogpost I got called on the carpet about not helping anyone. Well, the people-pleaser that I am, I just HAD TO address that.
 
If you will recall, I wrote about being a people-pleaser, being a perfectionist and I suppose there was a little “procrastination” thrown in the mix. Well, I honestly don’t want to stay there. I want to grow and become a better writer. And if you are in the same boat as I am, you will not want to stay stagnant as a a writer either. So this is my attempt at helping myself as well as you (only because I am a little selfish that way).
 
When I turned forty, MANY years ago, something happened to me. For some reason the filter I had on my tongue just disappeared. I began spouting off things that eventually led to a series of events that I now regret. I had been so excited at the time because I felt as if I could finally speak my mind and actually get away with it. I felt liberated. I mean, I had always looked up to older generations and wanted to have the courage to say what was on my mind. I was so excited to have finally have found “my voice.”
 
Years passed and I hurt so many people in the wake of my life. They left me, said cruel things, and abandoned me to my selfish ways. I understand now that they were merely responding to the things that I said, but at the time I honestly believed that they were trying to curtail “my voice.” and since I had discovered it, I felt it as much a part of me as it should have always been. I began a blog. I expressed my feeling of hurt and frustration at the world around me, not considering anything but the fact that I was now finally able to express myself.
 
Then I met a man.
 
This man, in spite of the fact that I continued to express my thoughts and opinions, did not retaliate. (Well, he did a little, but that was for his own protection.) He assured me that he would always give me the freedom to use “my voice.” BUT something he did changed EVERYTHING! He began to show me that what I had been doing for years was NOT using my voice but merely speaking my mind. He showed me that there was a distinct difference. The difference was this….drumroll, please….
 
Using my voice meant taking all of me, the past experiences, the doubts, the fears, the memories, the dreams, the highs and lows, and recognizing that nobody in the world had that unique combination. These things made me who I was. And filtering what I said through those experiences was actually “my voice.” 
 
WOW! What a revelation! Did you get that? We are each unique. We each have a voice and it has NOTHING to do with age or having the ability to speak your mind. When the skill of using one’s voice is honed, we will not deliberately hurt others haphazardly. We will be able to use the power of our words, filtered through everything, and find something beautiful to say.
 
So, my writer friends…Do you see what your voice is? Do you see how there will never be another person in the world who writes exactly like you do? You are unique!  Don’t do what I did and try to imitate those famous authors who seem to sneeze out a novel every year. They may be a good writer, but they had discovered their voice a long time ago and it took them years to get to where they are today. Do you really want to be just like them? Do you want to go through everything they had to go through to get where they are? It took me almost fifty years to get where I am, I have no intention of starting over. I want to start now!
 
So, while I sit here, attempting to convey a very strong message, I will slowly figure out my venue for expressing the beauty that I know is within me. I sit here and raise my coffee cup to all of you who will joint me in the pursuit of not just finding, but using, your voice!
Update:4-22-16
Although I found that man that helped me find my voice, I have a hard time listening to him.  Nonetheless, I press on, hoping and praying that one day I will be able to actually be at a place where I am comfortable expressing myself with fear of repercussion.
Until next time,
Petra. 

Gardening

Originally posted 4-14-13

Gardening is a touchy subject for me.  Touchy in that I get just a “touch” defensive when my skills, or rather lack of skills, has been called into question.  I love gardening, or at least the idea of it anyway. 

I remember when I was about twenty-two I knew how to kill any green living thing.  I then thought that if I tended toward the cactus family I would be safe.  Unfortunately, my zeal for making sure those beautiful, easy, “can’t-kill-them” plants was soon put to rest when, after a mere two months, they too died.  What is it with me?  Not only did I NOT have a green thumb, mine was turning out to be black!

Well, I was determined.  I was going to make a go of this gardening thing whether it was just a few indoor plants or something outside in the jungle I fondly called a yard.  I was given a few indoor plants and by some miracle of the Lord (I really believe He was showing way more mercy than I deserved!) they not only didn’t die, they did pretty well!

OK…Now the test would come.  Can I handle outdoor plants?  I was given a few perennials (which I later learned was another name for plants which were supposed to live forever) and I was tickled pink!  Good thing the flowers were pink peonies!  Those have since become one of my very favorite flowers.  They didn’t do very well the first few years, but they didn’t die either and I was grateful.

Now I wanted to try my hand at something I could eat – something I knew how to do with ease!  But unfortunately I didn’t have the proper conditions – at least that’s MY story!  I was told by some “Debby-Downers” that I wasn’t capable of making a garden work, and they pretty much did everything in their power to ensure that it failed, to include placing my garden spot in the shade and then told me I needed to make it work or else I wasn’t a very good gardener.

Well, I tended my garden and did my best, but it failed.  I was discouraged, to say the least.  But a few years later I tried again. 

The results of that garden, and why I even chose this subject to write about to begin with, will be in future blogposts.

Today’s update:

So spring has sprung and I am trying this whole gardening thing again. I had a few succulents that I thought would be great – and they have been throughout the fall and winter. They had a nice window view of the sun and everything! Then the weather turned a little warmer and I decided that those sweet little succulents would LOVE the outside! Well, two days afterwards, I realized that yes, indeed, not even the succulents are safe from my black thumb!

 

Obsessed

This past weekend my dear aunt had back surgery and I was very disturbed by the fact that I could not be there to help her recuperate. I am that kind of person – I actually enjoy helping my sweet family members get back on their feet after a difficult time. That being said, my aunt loves the show Downton Abbey. She has great taste in just about everything and so I decided I couldn’t go without watching it.

Hope you enjoy this little tidbit from a few years back….

 

Originally posted 4-16-13

Ok…I’m just gonna put it out there and admit it…I am addicted to Downton Abbey.  Whew!  Boy does that feel good!  (I just hope and pray that I will incur more addicts to come out of the closet and not have judgement raining down on my beautifully coiffed hair!)

Firstly, I never fancied myself a fan of that time period, but who knew that this era is very similar in its struggles and challenges?  Secondly, I didn’t even know that British television had series shows!  (Who influenced whom?)  And thirdly, I have always preferred the BBC productions of my beloved Jane Austen’s stories.  Why wouldn’t I prefer their television?

I thoroughly enjoy getting to know each of the characters and wondering how they will react next.  I see a little of myself in each of the female characters.  Let’s start with Sybil (spoiler warning!) – yes, she did die, but I loved the way she lovingly crossed all social and economic borders.  I could so see myself traipsing down that long staircase to dinner in a flamboyant outfit, just to stir up a little trouble!  Then there is Edith.  Who knew there was a witch inside such a classy woman!  I think that somehow her “evil-ness” came back around and bit her square in the rear.  BUT…there is such a compassionate side in her that sees beyond what they eye can see and looks to the heart.  I could see myself being catty toward a good friend and then turning around and assisting someone with a handicap in the hospital.  Mary is somehow like princess of the story, isn’t she?  She expects things to go precisely as she demands and she pouts when someone doesn’t abide her wishes.  Oh boy!  Don’t even get me started on how that is so like me! (Be forewarned, Gerald.)  Lady Grantham?  Well, truth be told, she is least like me….but that’s ok.  Someone has to be a little different, right? Oh, and let’s not forget the dowager countess!  Violet is so spunky and forthright in every opinion.  The only difference in her and me is that she has the wisdom behind the biting comments and sarcastic quips.  I get into infinite trouble precisely because I DON’T use wisdom!

Oh well…

So during this down time I am determined to find every book that vaguely resembles that time period – and I already have a long list – and diligently read!  Who knows, maybe I might even be able to guess, by the time the new season starts, who the next character to get killed off will be! (I must admit I hope it’s that Mrs. Crawley! Why is she there anyway?)

Until the next season starts, good day to you and here’s hoping you will fine a rip-roaring time between now and then!  You can be assured that I will have more to say on this subject as I watch  season 3 for the third time and read all my new wonderful books!

Your friend,

Petra

P.S. Of course, since I originally posted this, the show has ended and it was everything I had hoped it would be. It was a sweet obsession and I am on to my next time-consumer.

Blinders for Love

Originally posted July 18, 2014:

I am completely befuddled by a phenomenon that I believe is taking place in the Christian community. I am going to label it (because I love labels) “blinders for love.” Odd, you say?  Let me explain.

Recently I have been reflecting on a situation that happened three years ago.  I will waive going into too many details, but suffice it to say that I believe I have been done wrong.  I am sure that that other parties involved feel as if I have done them wrong, but I don’t believe that to be the case. Nevertheless, this “wrong” I speak of has slowly seeped in and has caused others, I believe, to be wrong as well. But they put on “blinders for loving” because they refuse to either admit that they are allowing wrong to happen or not admitting that it is wrong to begin with.

Am I being a little vague? I’m sorry. Let me try and explain it another way. I believe that many times a person will see a friend who has been hurt and has fallen in to some kind of sin.  Let’s say that sin is rebellion.  If you are that person you now have a very tough choice to make. You can either confront the friend in love and show him the error of his/her way or you can ignore the sin because you value the friendship more. You don’t want to risk losing that friendship. If you choose the latter decision, you have put blinders on to the sin in order to save the friendship, for the sake of “love”.  But is that a true agape love? Does the Lord care more about restoration to Him or appeasing a person’s conscience? 

This is compounded and made even more complicated when the “friend” is actually a relative. We may justify our “blinders” by saying that God created family and that we should forgive and forget.  All true!  But what we fail to remember is that family comes SECOND to Christ.  We do need to forgive, but we are NEVER to overlook sin.  As parents we may fall into that trap when our child does something “foolish.”  We wave it off as a childish behavior.  However, we must never wave off sin.  It must be dealt with, even if our child ends up not ‘liking’ us.  Our children must be taught that obedience to the Lord is the most important characteristic for ANY believer. 

Let me take this a step further…

When we as a family member see another family member sinning against a third family member, our role is to what? Be a friend because that family member may be hurting and alone? Skim over the blatant sin and try to reason it away? Try to find the good and forget the bad? What do any of these accomplish?  Does it restore that family member to Christ? Does it restore the family member to the hurt one?

I wish to say to all of you dear brothers and sisters in Christ who are, in the name of love, putting blinders on to another fellow believer’s sin, You will be held accountable in the Lord’s eyes. You may think you are doing the right thing by not making waves, but at what cost? Please examine your hearts and see that no relationship is worth losing a soul over. Stop protecting the sinner and stand up for truth. Allow the Lord to be the one to keep relationships in the palm of His hand, restoring them as He deems fit, and you just be obedient.

I know I am on a little bit of a soap box, but today I found out a few things that I simply find horrendous. I discovered that some dear friends and even family members have been knowingly allowing my children to be disrespectful and downright un-Christian-like to me.  I am hurt, yes, but I am more disappointed that these friends and family members value my children’s friendship more than they value truth.  They refuse to call sin sin and put it in the forefront of those children’s minds. They are walking around with blinders for love.

I only pray that I will not be ashamed of the truth of God’s word and boldly proclaim in love that sin is sin and risk losing a friend or even family member.

Am I wrong in my way of thinking?

Obsessions

Originally Posted May 2013 (Things haven’t changed much)

A person could walk into my home and spot my obsessions fairly easily – even if I try and cover them, hide them, and bury them.  I LOVE movies/TV and books.  But one genre you will not find in my collection of movies is documentaries.  And in my book collection you will find that my fiction collection far outweighs the non-fiction. Why? That is a very good question.


It’s not that I don’t want to learn anything. But at the same time, one could look at my non-fiction bookshelf and see that I am more interested in bettering myself emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  Unfortunately, I look at the titles adorning that shelf and I really can’t say I have improved much.  Sad, but true. And what of the movies?  Well, I have exercise DVD’s that would serve better as coasters for that tall glass of sweet tea!  My favorite “non-fiction” movies are those that transport me to another country.  Or maybe to another hobby.  You may have guessed, through previous blogs, that I totally enjoy cooking. But I also love decorating.  In fact, at one point I thought of getting my degree in interior design.  Well, that didn’t happen.

And what of my fiction shelf? Well, I do appreciate good writing, but at the same time I like to be transported to another time or place.  You will find a variety of authors and titles, perched precariously on that tall shelf – mostly because I have separated those books I have not read yet from the “read” ones (and the stack is getting taller by the day).  I have been asked to read new genres.  I have attempted that, truly, but I don’t get very far.  They just don’t take me to places that I enjoy.  Know what I mean? 

The most meaningful books and movies are those that cause me to either re-evaluate myself or cause me to change in some way.  Yes, I do get that from fiction.  Yesterday I watched a movie that caused me to really think about my writing.  Does my writing imitate life or does my life imitate my writing?  I look on that last sentence and I am blown away!  It’s like that common question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”  Well, I will tell you that my “Journey” blog definitely comes after my living life.  It is a consequence of my choices, good or bad.  But some of my fiction writing…well, that may be another story.  Am I writing scenes that I hope one day to live?  Am I formulating characters that I hope to become? 

Things that make me say “Hmmmmm….”

Until next time,

Petra

Review: “More Than She Dreamt” by Sandy Faye Mauck

Katie, like many women, deals with doubt – doubt in herself. She has faith that the Lord is with her, but she has difficulty seeing the end purpose of God’s plan. Like many women, she doubts that she is pretty enough, smart enough, worthy enough, to be loved by someone who, in our eyes is a prince. Sandy Faye Mauck weaves a wonderful story about a woman who comes to terms with who she is and WHOSE she is. Her prince is a man who has seen the worst in others and is able to deal wisely with the situations in which he is faced. My favorite character, however, is Grandma Gwen who has seen so much pain in her life yet turns to the One who continues to give life. Her faith in the Lord and continued optimism in those around her inspires me to want to be like her at that age, if not sooner.

I look forward to reading more books by this author, knowing that I will come out both encouraged and inspired to be a better child of the King.

Your literary friend,

Petra

Click here to purchase the book

About the Author

Welcome to the author page of Sandy Faye Mauck. Sandy writes Historical Romance in the light of the gospel and with the heart of her Savior. Slip into a comfy chair with a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate and travel back to the first years after the turn of the century. Enjoy faithful Christian characters who have come through a spiritual wilderness into a place of hope. Stories of charming romance sprinkled with humor and topped with redemption. And be sure not to put the cup too close to the edge of the table because there are enemies lurking about. Sandy lives in her own happily-ever-after with her Bible doctrine writer husband in the west they love. They have five children and nine grandchildren. She enjoys crocheting (a different kind of yarn) and is also a professional artist. Visit with Sandy at her website at http://www.sandyfayemauck.com On Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/sandyfayemauck.author On Twitter @sandyfayemauck

Be True to Yourself

Originally posted December 2012

What do people mean by the phrase “Be true to yourself”?  I’m not sure I ever lie to myself.  And does it mean I can me untrue to others?  I’m not sure I really get it.  Seriously, I think I know what they are trying to imply.  “Do what you want to do and don’t worry about what anyone thinks.”  But is that Biblical?  That’s the real question, isn’t it?  If I decide to be true to myself does that give me an excuse for my actions, even if they don’t line up with the Word?

What I am going to interpret that phrase to mean is this, “Take a good look at yourself and what your true character is. Act on that.”  If my true character has me as a selfish person, I will act on a matter no matter the consequences.  If my true character is that of kindness, I will act on a matter, but it will be difficult for me because I try to spare another’s feelings.  The matter must be acted on no matter what your character.

Let me give an example, if I may.  Let’s say I am offered two different jobs.  The first job has me working in a small cubicle working with numbers.  The pay is a little above minimum wage and benefits. The second job has me working with people in customer service and pays.  Many people in this economy would take the job that paid more, right?  But what if I is was introvert?  Would taking a job in customer service be “true to oneself”?  I think not.  And if I accepted that job, who would benefit from that act?  Possibly nobody.

What is my character?  What do I believe?  What desires has the Lord lain on my heart?  Am I being “true to myself” in all things?  Or am I merely doing the best that I think I can and hoping that things will just “work out?”  Who am I hurting when I am not being true to myself?  I am hurting others around me.  I am not being honest in all my actions and words. I am hurting myself.  I will eventually regret so many acts.  In a way, I am lying to myself and to others, am I not?

So, today, I want to make a commitment to ensure that I know WHO I am and WHOSE I am.  Then once I truly understand that, move forward in being “true to myself” and others.

Until next time,

Petra

Sweet Confirmation

Originally written Dec. 2013

I met a couple today whom I would never had met had I not been working where I do. I would never had sought them out, since we probably would have never run in the same circles in life. In fact, I feel guilty for having pre-judged them.  They seemed like they might have been stuck in the sixties, and those of you who know me, know that I am just a wee bit hesitant about anything sounding or looking like the sixties. God, forgive me.

These two people, however, I realized after speaking with them for a brief period of time, were kindred spirits, and I am sure that their words will remain in my thoughts for years to come. In a way they will haunt me. You see, he was a sculptor and I found the fact that he was the creative type intriguing.  So I asked if he ever got in a slump – thinking of my own “slumpy-conundrum.” Instead of answering, he asked me a question. “What do you do?” I told him that I wrote, but I have been having trouble putting something down on paper.

He handed me his card which read, “Don’t become famous for something you don’t like.” I think I wept inwardly for several things: the wasted hours not writing, the wasted hours writing for a faceless audience, for the stories in my head that have waited so long to be told, and for the the stories that I had wanted to tell but didn’t and so now they have vanished.  What a revelation.  I smiled and explained that I think I had been so concerned about what everyone thought of my work and it frightened me to the point where I didn’t do what I truly wanted. 

His wife interjected for a brief moment and explained that her husband was a writer AND a sculptor and that he actually sculpted what he wrote.  He beamed as he explained that he loved what he did and he never allowed people to dictate to him what he should either write or sculpt.  He challenged me to not be concerned with validation from everyone. That there would eventually be someone who liked what I did. 

Now all of this said, neither of them told me something that I didn’t already know. I just needed to be reminded, yet again, that my unique voice can stay just that – unique.  And I don’t need to constantly seek approval,  guidance, or even validation for my work.  I can be myself and even incorporate everything I love into what I do and make a difference – even if it is just within my own soul. So, thank you, my new hippie friends who I will likely never see again.  What a blessing you are and what a difference you have made in my life. (Hmmmm….sounds like a song I once heard…) Who knows, maybe there is enough of that hippie attitude buried in me to get me to break free of the inhibitions that are keeping those words from being written.

Update:

I finally have SOME things written, but I need constant encouragement and pushing to keep me going . I’ll eventually get where I need to be.

Blessings,

Petra

Embracing Grace

Image result for grace

There is a new song, or at least new to me, by Matthew West call “Grace Wins” and the lyrics have been playing over and over again in my mind like a record stuck in the same position. The only reason something like that happens to me is if the Lord is trying to impress a certain concept on me that I really need to learn.

“There’s a war between guilt and grace, and they’re fighting for a sacred place, but I’m living proof that grace wins every time.”

This is the concept I want to discuss today. I have been taught for years that guilt is something the enemy uses to get us to stop looking at the Lord and keep looking at our faults. Analytically, I know that’s correct, but the day-to-day enacting of that concept is a little more elusive. Lately I am having many times where I look backward in my past, my “baggage,” and I have a tendency to get stranded in a place where I hear the voice of guilt and condemnation only.

So what I am thinking is this. I need to start looking at each instance where my mind travels back to my bad stuff and put a name of grace on it, fully understanding what the Lord is telling me about it. Because I have to put labels on everything (it’s a sickness, I think), I need to label those acts of grace.

I had a marriage of twenty-three years end when my family, guided my my husband, told me that I needed to change ‘or else.’ There was no possible way for me to meet their demands, without becoming another person, that is, so they collectively divorced me. (That is a terrible thing in and of itself.) The worst part is, that it wasn’t until a few years after the divorce I came to see that my ex-husband was and is a narcissist. And just by virtue of that fact, he trained our son to be the same way. So I have a total of about twenty-nine years of falsehood that I am still trying to wrap my head around.

Lately, things pop up that are part of that very painful past and I hear voices that keep telling me that I was to blame. I hear the words “if only” way too many times in the course of a week. But I need to stop listening the voice of the enemy. I need to concentrate of the voice of the Lord Who has covered, and continues to cover, me with GRACE that is immeasurable.

The Lord has brought people in my life to extend a hand, a voice, a gesture of grace so many times that I cannot count them. When I was going through a tough period, He sent my parents. They helped me get back on my feet and helped me focus on my future. He sent me a job working with senior citizens. They touched me and let me vent any time I needed to cry. Grace came in the form of a new home, close to my parents where I could help take care of them. Grace reached out to me in the form of a friendship with someone who had also been abused by my ex-husband. The Lord extended grace to me in my new husband, whose quiet demeanor and perseverance allowed me to grow in the midst of my pain.

The sound of rain on my tin roof. The smile from a stranger. The compliments of a friend. New friends who offer encouragement and hope. Old friends recalling the precious times. Parents with grounding advice. All are the gifts of grace that are in my life. Now all I must do is allow grace to win the battle for that sacred place in my soul.