The Emperor Has No Clothes…

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…but if he self-identifies as one who is wearing clothes, then he is. Who am I, or anyone else, to say that he is not wearing clothes?

Because, dear reader, he is actually, factually not wearing clothes. They are not there. That is reality. And I stand with that little boy who did not give in to peer pressure, nor to political correctness, and shouted out the plain truth: the emperor was not wearing clothes. He was deceived.

When we self-identify with something that is not reality, it is nonsense. None sense. And we hurt ourselves. When we support others’ delusions we are not helping them. That is, we are helping them hurt themselves.

A person suffering with anorexia self-identifies as an overweight person, and starves him/herself. If we just leave this person in their delusion, supporting their identity as an overweight person, and don’t step in to try to get them help, we do them a great wrong.

When I was a child, from the age of nine to eleven years old, my best friend was a girl newly arrived from Japan. I wanted to be Japanese. I thought, “When I grow up, I will dye my hair black, get contacts to make my eyes dark brown, become fluent in Japanese, and I will be Japanese. If it was 2016, I would have “self-identified” as Japanese. And people would be told to support me in this. But the truth is, I was and am not Japanese. I am Jewish. And when I got over my wannabe-Japanese phase, and embraced who I am, that was the healthy, sane thing to do. I am fulfilled in being who I actually am – a Jewish woman.

Supporting humans in their wannabe delusions, whether they are people wanting to be cats, thin people thinking they are fat, or girls wanting to be boys, is not helpful.

Living in reality and helping others to do so is the kindest, most loving thing we can do.

When the emperor is walking around in his underwear believing he has clothes on, rather than perpetuating his delusion, those around him should kindly, gently, lovingly help him to see that he is unclothed, and get him something to wear.

I Should Have Kept a Record

20160229_080139-2A couple of weeks ago, I saw the hand of God. Not literally, of course – God is Spirit. But what I mean is, I saw God’s work, right before my eyes on the computer screen.

Let me explain: a few years ago, my son had a tooth come out in the middle of the roof of his mouth instead of lined up with his other teeth. This necessitated immediate orthodontic work – expansion appliance, braces, etc. Eventually, the tooth was brought into line and all was well.

But this past November, Natan’s orthodontist saw another lump in the roof of his mouth and upon examining it, told us that another tooth was going to come out in the roof of his mouth. Oh no! More discomfort, pain, not to mention money.

I prayed. I asked God to move that tooth over to the spot where it was supposed to be. I wrote down this prayer, because I thought that God would do this and I wanted it on record that I had asked and He answered. So, over the next few months I continued to ask God concerning Natan’s wayward tooth.

A few weeks ago we went to the orthodontist. He looked in Natan’s mouth, saw the lump, and sent him to have his mouth x-rayed. The assistant came back with Natan and the orthodontist looked at the x-ray on his computer screen. And looked. And looked. “I wasn’t expecting this,”, he said. “That tooth is now is positioned in the right place.” (I could see this on the screen.) “God, Mother Nature, or the Powers that Be moved that tooth,” he continued.

“It was God”, I assured him. “I have been praying since the end of November that God would move that tooth.”‘

The orthodontist acknowledged that it was God, and that he was trying to be politically correct. The lump where the tooth had been was empty, and the tooth had taken a journey to the correct spot. He knew that teeth in that kind of position don’t take such a journey on their own.

Some days later, I was taking a walk and thinking about all the answered prayers, all the times over the decades that I have been a Believer where I have seen God’s hand at work. So many miracles, so many acts of God, whether providing for a need, giving much needed wisdom, changing circumstances, healing an illness or medical condition, freeing someone from an addiction, bringing reconciliation to estranged loved ones…the list goes on.

I regretted that I hadn’t kept a record all these years, because all these things could fill a book. And in that book, I could have one chapter just devoted to all the dental provision/work that God has done for our family.

God, my dear reader, is great! And what’s more, He cares!

 

 

Try, try again.

IMG-20160214-WA0003This past weekend we went to a family camp, where my husband, Alan, was the speaker. It was great: I skated, hiked, did some indoor activities, and had many good conversations. And what a delight to have all my meals cooked for me!

One of the things I tried was archery. I wasn’t very good. At all. There weren’t long line-ups at the time that I was there, so I was able to keep trying. Looking at the photo, I am reminded of the saying that I heard a lot as a child, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.”

There is also the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” I don’t know if practicing certain things would insure my perfection in them, but I have no doubt that it would make me better. I enjoyed shooting those arrows, and wish I would have had more time to practice.

When I stop to think about it, there are so many, many things I would love to improve in – things that are more important than archery. Things like mothering, wife-ing, not letting other people’s moods affect me – the list can go on.

I could say with something such as archery, “I’m just not very good,” or I could practice and practice, perhaps get some advice/pointers, and practice some more. I would improve. Similarly, I could also say regarding one of my weak areas of mothering such as consistency, “I’m just not consistent; it’s just the way I am.” Or instead I could work and work at being more consistent. I believe I would improve. In fact, that is one of the areas I am working on, and I believe I am improving.

Let’s not give up on those things we want to get better at, whether it’s a skill, or a character quality, or…

For those of us who know God, we have His help. That is an advantage. In the Scriptures I see that while we are to put in our maximum effort, still it is God who empowers us.

I don’t have to be satisfied with my personal status quo. I can pursue excellence, even in my weakest areas. One day I may actually hit the bulls-eye!

 

Not Just on New Year’s Day

20160101_114931 New Year’s Day – 2016 – a new year stretches ahead, full of potential.

Clean, untainted – like freshly fallen snow.

The good news is that every single day is like this! Not just January 1st, but each and every one of the 364 other days of the year will be new days.

Jeremiah, the writer of “Lamentations,” was going through awful times along with the whole nation of Israel.

He wrote:

“Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
And is bowed down within me
But this I call to mind
Therefore I have hope.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end,
They are new every morning,
     Great is Your faithfulness!”

May you have a wonderful year in 2016, and may you experience God’s steadfast love that never ceases, and His new mercies, new every morning.”

He is….

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who He is.

This post in not just for Believers, even though it is about God. It is for Atheists, Agnostics, and all kinds and degrees of believers in God.

If there is a Creator God, then He is who He is regardless of whether we’re okay with that or not, or whether we like some aspects of who He is and don’t like others.

“Remaking” Him to our specifications doesn’t change Him, and choosing not to believe in Him doesn’t change Him. He is who He is.

In fact, when God spoke to Moses at the burning bush to commission him to go back to his people and lead them out of their slavery in Egypt, and Moses asked God’s name, God told Moses His name is: “I am who I am.”  “Say this to the people of Israel,  ‘I Am’ sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14).

So who is God? “I am who I am”. He is who He is.

He is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgressions and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34 :6-7).

I was in a congregation once where the speaker had the congregation memorize this Biblical description of God minus the last phrase.

We seem to be fine with some of who God is “merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounds in steadfast love and faithfulness, forgiving sin”...but not one who “will by no means clear the guilty.”

But God is who He is however we feel about it.

And He is way slower to anger than we are. His steadfast, faithful, patient, forgiving love is quite amazing!

But there is also a point of wrath. He is slow to anger, in fact various psalmists ask “How long, O God is the foe to scoff?” and “Arise, O God, defend your cause, remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!” (Psalm 75: 10, 22).

To this psalmist, and to many other people, God was too slow to anger. But He does get there.

The thoughts for this blog began when I read these words in the first chapter of Nahum:

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
   the Lord is avenging and wrathful;
   the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries
   and keeps wrath for his enemies.
The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
   and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.” (Nahum 1:2-3)

Those verses make me uncomfortable (even though I know that when God exhibits wrath, there is good reason, as verse 38 of Psalm 78 says, “Yet, He, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; He restrained His anger often and did not stir up all His wrath.”

While some verses might make me uncomfortable, God is who He is and my being uncomfortable doesn’t change Him.

If I were suffering under the Nazis in a concentration camp, or undergoing torture under various other regimes, I might not mind these words so much.

In fact as a young girl, I appreciated when my father, who loved me very much, rose up in my defense when someone wronged me; whether it was my friend who threw my hat in the snow on a freezing winter day, or the time when, because a teacher wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom, I wet my pants.

Because of my father’s great love for me, there was his wrath against those who had acted against me.

God is who He is.

Nothing will change that. It is not helpful to live in the non-reality of thinking of Him other than who He is, trying to ignore the parts of Him that don’t suit us. It is not helpful to ignore Him and pretend He doesn’t exist.

The most beneficial thing we can do is to get to know God’s whole character…who He really is. This will affect our lives in innumerable positive ways.

 

Beautiful! Beautiful!

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(This post was written on July 3, 2015)

Yesterday I spent from sun-up to sun-down travelling to a city 4 1/2 hours away, attending my 100-year-old uncle’s funeral, burial, going to the shiva house (where relatives mourn) and making the return 4 1/2 hour return trip (with my son, bless him).

It was a good, sweet, and sad time on many levels.

I have a pile of responsibilities today and and although I don’t really have time to do so I felt compelled to take a walk at a beautiful park 20 minutes away.

I didn’t really have time for this walk, but I felt a strong need after my intense day yesterday, to make the time.

After walking for a while, I began to notice the beauty around me – not just the water, which is why I go to this particular park on the shore of the Ottawa River, but in the grass, the foliage, the flowers. Somehow even as I took a closer look, even the pavement that I was walking on had beauty in its varied shades and shapes in the concrete.

And I thought of my uncle, who passed away in my presence several days ago.

“Beautiful!” is a word he would often say. “Beautiful! Beautiful!” in his wonderful Jewish European accent that my children loved and would imitate to the best of their ability.

What was beautiful to my uncle? A person, music, many things actually. Uncle Sydney seemed to see beauty everywhere.

But where was the beauty in my uncle’s life the last couple of weeks? In his fall. In his pain. In his suffering. I looked. I looked. Had there been any beauty?

There was beauty in his loved ones being there for him – being there in the hospital with him to love him and ensure that he was taken care of. Beauty in that one special, extremely capable, caring, compassionate nurse in Emergency. Beauty that his beloved daughter was right there with him when he passed away.

Many people see the pain, the sorrow, the hardship of life. And that ugliness is there. My uncle saw the beauty.

May I encourage us all to look for the beauty. Find the beauty in your daily life – find it, enjoy it, be thankful for it.

“Beautiful! Beautiful!”

What are some beautiful things in your life?

 

Unplanned things

RobinChildhood_002_480“I’ve got a crazy idea,” my dad would say on occasion, musingly.

These few words would fill me with excitement: “What? What? Tell us, Daddy. What’s your ‘crazy idea?'”

It might be a drive along the Montreal lake shore, stopping for a picnic of Kentucky Fried Chicken; a drive up to Mount Royal Park or to get an ice cream at a special place we loved.

But whatever it was, it was spontaneous and special. It interrupted the scheduled flow of life. A good time was waiting to be had, when those words were spoken.

It is because I knew from experience that what usually followed my father’s words, “I have a crazy idea,” was something enjoyable that I reacted to them in such a positive way. I loved and trusted my father because I knew he loved me and had my (and the rest of my family’s) best interest at heart.

I have a heavenly Father whom I love and trust because I know He loves me and has my (and the rest of mankind’s) best interest in mind. He is sometimes referred to in the Bible as “The Rock” – He is stable and trustworthy and so even when unplanned things happen I can still be secure and positive and embrace life.