Behind The Scenes

The last few days I’ve been thinking about judgments. How we can make snap judgments based upon what we see on the outside and yet, not knowing what’s going on behind the scenes in that person’s life.

As all of you know, I deal with pain on a daily basis. Some days are better than others but the pain, in some form, is always present.

On the good days, I do what I can. These “good days” make it very easy for me to put on my happy face and be a participant in life….in church, in family gatherings, going out with my husband for dinner, meeting a girlfriend for some shopping, etc. On these days, it’s very easy to look at me and only see the outside presentation. To think I’m not in any pain and yet I am, below the surface, behind the scenes.

On “bad days”, you’ll find me in bed or my sauna. These days make it very difficult for me to be in public. Some people may think I should do more, be in church no matter what, never cancel a gathering, just suck it up and go. These are days I don’t go out in public because, very often, the pain is so bad I scream. Not just a light yelping….oftentimes, it’s a full out, someone’s trying to kill me scream. It’s happened several, several, several times in public. It’s just as frightening for others to see it as it is for me to feel it. Just ask Jeff’s family who’ve experienced one of these screaming events. My parents have also seen some….on a milder scale, for which I’m thankful. It’s difficult as a mother or father to see your child suffer. I’ve even come up with a “cover story” if I’m out in public. It’s happened on more than one occasion and it makes people stop in their tracks and stare at me. I then say, “Dang it! I ran my foot right into that display case!”, or “Whit! Please quit stepping on my heels! That hurts!” Yes….I use my girls as co-conspirators in these cover stories. Lol!! It’s days like these that make me nervous about being in public. I hate embarrassing myself and being the center of attention. (If I’m going to be the center of attention I want it on my terms. Lol) If I’m in severe pain…for instance, as I’m writing this, my lower back is killing me because rain is coming….if the pain is severe, you can pretty much count on me missing church, a shopping trip, etc.
See, it’s behind the scenes that people don’t see. Because we don’t see them, we can make judgments that aren’t correct. For instance…..this past Superbowl Sunday I wasn’t in church but I was “well enough” to drive to my parents house for a party and a chili cook off. I heard, through the grapevine, that some thought my priorities were out of place. They felt if I wasn’t well enough to be in church then I shouldn’t be well enough to do anything else that day. However, what they didn’t see, the private stuff, all the factors I used to make a decision would have put it all into perspective. Factors I would have shared had someone asked me about the choice I made.

The party at my parents house was for a chili cook off. Since the Superbowl ends quite late and, since Jeff doesn’t like football and thus couldn’t drive me, I planned with my sister to stay at her home overnight. I had been banned from driving for 2 months until the seizure drug was fully in my system, and this was the first drive I made after the ban was lifted. Since it was a 45 minute drive to my parents’ home, everyone was nervous. I had to call my parents and Jeff to let them know I’d arrived safely.

The night before, I literally didn’t sleep at all. The pain was too severe so I stayed downstairs thinking if I became exhausted enough, my body would give out and I’d fall to sleep regardless of the pain. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

Having been to every neurologist appointment, Jeff knows what can trigger seizures and lack of sleep is a big catalyst. I was getting ready for church and he, knowing I hadn’t slept at all, told me I wasn’t going to church….notice that?…told me, not asked me. He wanted me to at least try and get some sleep, any sleep before I made the drive. I managed to get a three hour nap in….not enough but better than none. Another big trigger is stress, so he and the girls try to minimize my stress levels as much as possible.

So, if that was the case, I’m sure the next thought of people would be, “If she’s in so much pain and hasn’t slept; why didn’t she cancel?”

There were two main reasons I went. 1) My Aunt and Uncle were there, in from Iowa and I don’t get to see them very often. The last time was 2 years ago.

2) The day after the Superbowl was my mom’s birthday and I wanted to take her out to lunch and have some one on one time with her. We don’t get to do this often and so I cherish the moments when I have the opportunity to spend time with my beautiful mom.

Had people seen behind the scenes, would they have come to the conclusion my priorities were out of whack? I like to think not. I’d like to think they’d realize I sometimes have to give up something, in order to do something else. Because of this, I make choices dependent upon what’s more important to me. I weigh both sides of every choice I am forced to make due to this illness. Did I want to do both? Yes, of course! It just wasn’t possible. I chose the gathering because I can always listen to Pastor Ken’s awesome message on the website. The same can not be said of family gatherings. There isn’t a tape I can just turn on and watch. Even if that were possible, I still wouldn’t have been able to have conversations with them, love on them, spend quality time with them. It’s always been very important to me to be with family, especially family I don’t see often. I cherish these moments because I realize they don’t happen that often and who knows how much time we have to make these moments a priority.

I must say, before I became sick, I made judgments like this all the time. Judgments based upon what I can see on the outside, without knowing the whole picture. One of the blessings of this illness is realizing how wrong I was. How could I, a human…a sinful human….judge someone else based upon what I “thought” I knew. Am I not guilty? Yep! I’m guilty…just as I’m sure all of you are guilty of this as well. Everyone, at one time or another, is guilty of making judgments even though we don’t have all the information.

Was I hurt by this? Yes, more deeply than you know. Making an assumption regarding my situation…anybody’s situation….is unkind. We all have heartache. We all have burdens to carry, trials to face. The one thing we should ALWAYS be able to count on is the love, understanding, compassion, kindness, patience, and encouragement of a fellow believer in Christ. We shouldn’t feel we’re being judged, condemned. How does that help a person who is already suffering? We should feel protected, loved, understood. How does judgment effect newer Christians, ones who haven’t been in The Word enough yet? Don’t we say we should show Jesus to others; show them what attributes Jesus and The Word asks us to have? What if that person heard us being judgmental and condemning? What would they learn? They would learn to adopt the same attitude. An attitude that isn’t pleasing to our Creator, to our Father in heaven. The attitude which is pleasing to the Lord is written about in Galatians.


Galatians 5:22-26

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.


Sadly, this judgmental behavior is too common, not just in the world, but also in the body of Christ. One that I wish we didn’t have. I wish people wouldn’t condemn others without knowing all the facts. It isn’t a perfect world though is it? What can we do about this type of behavior? We can start within ourselves, with The Word of God driving us, reflecting on our own, personal behavior. If we see this behavior in ourselves do we turn to God to repent, to ask He remove it from us? Do we reflect on it and to mourn our behavior?

I ask you and myself…..where do I stand regarding this? I encourage you, if you feel you’ve made judgment calls when you don’t know the whole picture, ask God to reveal it to you. Then, make amends.

The driving force within me, as I hope it’s within all who read this, is to be a progressive spirit. To always seek God and His will. I ask Him to remove from me what doesn’t please Him and to pour into me the qualities of Jesus. That’s what God wants from us….a constant desire to further our relationship with Him. A progressive spirit.

Heaven or Hell?

I recently heard this statement and it resonated deep within me.

To unbelievers, the lost, this world is the closest they will ever get to heaven and to believers, the redeemed, this world is the closest to hell we will experience.

Where do you fall? Tell me, how do you get to heaven? If you don’t know, I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have or point you to someone else if you’d prefer. Think about that above statement and then think, really think about where you’ll spend eternity.

This life is but a vapor. It’s what comes after that we live with for all of eternity. Let’s make sure we get it right.

Jesus is waiting friend.

What is Judgement; What is Justice? Who decides???

We all have moments in our lives, moments that are crystal clear, moments that, no matter how old we become, we’ll never forget….even if we wish we could. A marriage, the birth of a child, loss of a loved one….I could go on and on, but I think you’ve got the idea.
So, what is this post about? It’s about Judgement, Justice, forgiveness, acceptance….
Before I delve into this post, please, if you know who I’m writing about, please don’t use names.
Tonight, as I have done many nights in the past 26 years, I’ve thought about a friend of mine. I’ve wondered how her life has turned out. Is she ok? Where is she? What is she like now?
When I was a young teenager, I had a friend. She was so very sweet, kind, thoughtful. That’s who she was then. One day, all of that changed. In just ONE day, her life was irrevocably and profoundly changed so that there was no going back to the girl she was. Never.
One day, my friend’s mother, a woman whose home I’d been in, who was a staple at our sporting events, knew all of the kids’ names….one day….she snapped. She shot her son, turned and shot my friend, and then tried to kill herself.
To say our town was stunned is putting it lightly.
Her son died instantly, but my friend….she didn’t. She survived. As soon as I found out, I got in touch with her dad, found out what hospital she was in, and my dad drove me there to spend an afternoon with her.
How do you look at someone who has just suffered something so traumatic, so devastating, that you know… The minute you saw her…she was different? How could she not be? How could any of us, in the same situation, not be changed?
In my young mind….I was naive…I’d never dealt with something like this. How do you comfort? How do you help heal? What did I do? I took makeup and hair supplies. I did her makeup, fixed her hair pretty, and, all the while…she talked. She sat and talked through everything with me. Exactly what happened, where it happened, why it happened. Do you know what I remember most? She didn’t cry. Not a single tear. She’d already locked it down. Way down.
I listened….no questions….I just thought I’d provide what I had…a shoulder to lean on and an ear to hear.
She told me that, after she was shot, she got the gun and tried to use it on her mom but it was empty. No tears, just a matter of fact statement about what had happened.
We sat for a few hours, talking about the event, about makeup, about hair stuff….it was a varied conversation.
When I left, I promised to be there for her in whatever way she needed. And so I was.
About 2 weeks after the incident, I went with her back to her home to pack some things she’d need at her dad’s house. What an eerie thing. She walked thru and told me where she was, where her brother was, everything. Again, no tears, just a calm exterior that had locked the emotions up.
I remember leaving that house, thinking….this is too heavy. For her, for me, for anybody. It was the first time I realized…truly realized there was evil in the world.
In January of 1987, my friend, although no longer at my school…we still talked daily at this point, she asked me for a favor. I had no clue what she was going to ask and it shocked me.
She said she wanted to go to her mother’s sentencing and they thought it’d be a good idea if she had a psychologist with her. She said she just wanted a friend, someone who knew her, not someone impersonal. She asked if I would be that friend. The answer, of course, was yes.
When that day came, I don’t remember much about the proceedings. What do I remember? I remember watching her mom walk in and that’s it….for that part of things. From the moment her mom came in the room, I felt my friend stiffen, tighten her grip on my hand, barely breathing. I remember thinking a stiff wind might break her into a thousand pieces. From that moment on, all my focus was on my friend. Doing what I could to let her know she wasn’t alone. I didn’t even remember the sentence her mom got. I remember my friend and the vault that was within her that locked her emotions away.
From that day, we talked but as our lives changed,we grew, we became different people. We had less in common and she was spiraling out of control. I had no idea how to help, what to say, how to comfort her. All my life, I’ve been told I’m too sensitive, too emotional….but that’s me. It won’t change. I think those qualities are what my friend needed at that time of her life. She needed someone to cry for her since she couldn’t cry for herself. There are seasons in our lives that God places people to help us along, someone to carry your burdens with you. I think He put me in her life for that but I also believe she was put in my life for the same reason.
The last time I saw her, we ran into each other at the drive in. My husband and I were there on a date and I ran into her in the concession stand. She wasn’t the girl who’d been my friend 10 years earlier. She was hard, angry, bitter. Again, who wouldn’t be? Who wouldn’t be different? No longer the sweet, thoughtful, kind girl she had been. I had no idea how to reach her, how to let her know I was still here. But she didn’t want that. I understand…I think….I think maybe, she didn’t want connections with the girl she was; she was a different woman and she’d learned to protect herself against any and all emotion. It broke my heart.
So you may ask….why am I writing this?
For many years….sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly, sometimes even daily, I’ve thought of her. How she is now, 26 years since that awful day. Has she found peace? Has she found happiness? Has she dealt with it?
Then, tonight….just by random….I found out her mom had been released from jail. When? June, 2000. She’d served just 13 years for her crimes. 13 years! She was given a 50 year sentence and she served 13 years.
I don’t know why this has hit me so hard. I haven’t been able to sleep because I can’t stop crying. Why? This didn’t happen to me! It happened to her!! All those times I’ve thought about her, I always found comfort in one tiny seed of hope….that as long as her mother was in jail, my friend would feel safe. She wouldn’t have to worry about her mom being out and about, maybe wanting to see her. Then I found this info tonight and my heart breaks for her. To be honest, I was mad. Mad at a system that lets a woman go just 13 years after she killed her son and attempted to kill her daughter.
Was justice served? Was the judgement just? She took the lives of two people that day. Her son’s life and her daughter’s life. Both were murdered; it’s just that my friend’s life as she knew it was murdered. Her life she hoped to have, the life she deserved to have, the right to be innocent just a bit longer….it was all taken away from her. Her heart was still beating but her life wasn’t.
As I’m writing this, I can’t stop crying. I’ve been talking to God, asking, how is that just? How is it acceptable?? 13 years for such a horrific crime of a mother….a mother…taking the lives of her children. 13 years.
So I prayed, asked for guidance because my heart is feeling a bit hardened right now….not towards God but towards man. Towards the sins that abound in this world. How do we cope with that? How do we deal with the evil that resides on this side of the veil? Should I ever have the blessing of being in contact with my friend, how would I explain to her what God says about this? The only thing that kept coming to mind is the verse which says, Vengeance is mine!
God says, the Vengeance is HIS…..not ours.
I kept thinking….Lord is that all we have to cling to when bad things happen? Horrible things that we can’t understand, things we want to avenge ourselves….is that all we have? No. That was a very clear answer to me. No…..

I went to Romans 12:9-21

This section in my Bible is titled: BEHAVE LIKE A CHRISTIAN.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving The Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with ALL men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says The Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty; give him drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. DO NOT BE OVERCOME BY EVIL, BUT OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD.

Would this give my friend hope? I would like to think so but I don’t really know. We’re all different, we all have our own path to walk.
By no means did I think anything I did with her was for me in any way. My focus was so much on her that that’s all I remember. When I heard about her mother being released after just 13 short years, my immediate thought was, how did she handle it? How is she? Does she feel, as all of us would be tempted to feel, a deep desire for revenge? A deep desire to make that person hurt the way they hurt you? To make their lives change just as they had made yours change?
It’s so tempting….so tempting….but that path only leads to one direction; lack of fulfillment. It won’t change your life, it will weigh your life down even more. What do we do?
We heap blessings upon their heads. We remember that God, who sees ALL, has judgement and justice in his hands. There is redemption for everyone, no matter the sin. My prayer is for lives to be changed; to be healed. To focus on who God calls us to be as Christians. To leave judgement and wrath for Him to deal with. It isn’t our place.

Does that mean it’s easy? Not by a long shot. This walk will never be easy. The day it becomes easy is the day we are no longer on the path.
My heart, hearing this news, broke all over again for my friend. She deserves to have her burden lifted. In my experience, that only happens when we have Jesus as our Lord and Savior. I ask you to join me in prayer that my friend, wherever she may be, has already accepted Him. Pray, if she hasn’t, that God will put people in her life who will minister to her, who’ll show her how to ease the hurt. Pray for her to have peace.
So do we only have God’s vengeance to cling to? No! We have SO much more. We have an example of how to handle the evil in this world. We love each other, we care for each other, we don’t repay evil for evil. We stand back and realize we have no control over certain things in this life. We can know, however, our God is just and He will take care of things. We just have to step back and let Him.

We all must Abhor what is evil and cling to what is good. In this life, there seems to be more evil than good lately. It seems everything is falling apart. It isn’t. God’s timing is impeccable. Until then, I choose to “Cling to what is good” and I pray you do too.