Saturday, December 06, 2014

Christmas 2014

Advent is underway and we are enjoying our family readings together. 

The children understand giving and it is always shocking for me to realize that they are more comfortable with doing and buying for others than for ourselves.  When it comes down to it, they are so generous and I want to allow room for Jesus to continue fostering those desires.

The desire to love.

The desire to serve.

The desire to bake cookies and deliver them to someone who needs love shown to them.

The desire to help another family.  A child.

The desire to be Jesus to others. 

I am humbled by my children's hearts and their desires. 

#advent  #Christmas  #giving

Friday, October 10, 2014

Quaker's Testimony of Integrity Part II

This is the second post regarding integrity; so go here to read part one first.

Christianity Guide lists some practical ways “The Testimony or Evidence of Integrity includes such practices as. . .
  • making sure that one’s words and actions flow from one’s beliefs
  • speaking the truth, even when it is difficult
  • paying people fair wages for their work
  • giving one’s employer the right amount of labor for one’s pay
  • saying difficult things with grace and tact
  • receiving difficult sayings gracefully
  • guarding one’s reputation for honesty, fairness, and fidelity; that is faithful and loyal  
  • taking responsibility for one’s actions and their results
  • fulfilling one’s commitments
  • taking care of items entrusted to one
  • being open to the ideas of others but not being too easily swayed by them
  • confronting lapses in integrity in oneself and in others
  • giving credit to others for their contributions
  • assessing people and situations fairly and accurately
  • avoiding spending beyond one’s means through the use of credit”

Queries are thoughtful questions that remind people of the spiritual and moral values Friends seek to uphold. They help individuals and the church body to consider the true source of spiritual strength, to nurture loving relationships, and to maintain a strong Christian witness to society.

Ask yourself these queries and consider how you are and how others know you are 1) honest, and 2) stand firm:
         Are you honest with yourself as well as with others?
         Do you stand firm when an ethical principle is challenged?

Integrity with your Friendships
  • Keep your promises. Always keep your word.  If you say you can meet for coffee and someone else calls and asks you to lunch, YOU HAVE PLANS!  Show the people you have committed to that you value the time you spend together and do NOT ditch them for something (or someone) else.  
  • Don’t talk smack about other people.  If you would not say it to their face, do not say it behind their backs.  If you have not said it to their face, do NOT say it behind their back.  Doing so shows a distinct lack of integrity. 
  • Be the vault. When you promise you won't tell another living soul, DO NOT TELL ANOTHER LIVING SOUL!  Lock those secrets away and show your friends that they can trust you with their deep dark secrets.  Nobody wants a friend with "loose lips."  

Living with integrity requires frank and sincere self-examination and self-awareness.  Joseph John Gurney asked himself questions like these every day:

Have I this day been guarded in all my conversation, saying not one thing inconsistent with truth, purity, or charity?
Have I felt love toward my neighbor?
Have I done my part towards my family?
Have I been temperate in all respects and refrained from unlawful desires, habits, and anxieties?
Have I been diligent in business?
Have I given full time to effectual study?
Have I admitted any other fear than that of God?
Have I in everything acted, to the best of knowledge, according to the will of God? (Williams, pg. (172)

The next step is how.  How have I guarded my conversations today?  How have I been true, pure, and loving?  

Remind yourself that you have made a decision to live differently.  Here are three ways you can do this; though there are SO many more:

         See it!  Wall art, post-it notes with verses or phrases on how God is leading you to live serve as constant reminders.

         Wear a piece of jewelry that reminds you of a decision you have made.  This is for YOU; not for others…

  •    Get an accountability partner – someone you trust and will listen to; even when you do not want to hear it. 

Integrity is not simply telling the truth. Rather it is applying ultimate truth to each situation.  There must be harmony between one’s spiritual and physical existence. 
#Quakers #integrity 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Quaker's Testimony of Integrity Part I

Friends define testimony as “an outward expression of an inward leading of the Spirit, or an outward sign of what Friends believe to be an inward revelation of truth.” (Cooper, pg. 101)  The call for integrity in daily life lies at the heart of Quakerism. It reflects Friends devotion to truth, honesty, authenticity, and wholeness. 

At its simplest, the testimony of integrity means that we believe that it is wrong to lie, and we try to tell the truth in all things and at all times. It is commonly associated with honesty and fairness.  Perhaps you have heard “It’s what you do when no one is looking.” 

Integrity could very well be the most important testimony because it is on integrity that all other testimonies are built on!  Integrity is not simply telling the truth. Rather it is applying ultimate truth to each situation.  There must be harmony between one’s spiritual and physical existence. 

It is the belief that we should live our lives true to God, true to ourselves, and true to other people.  While these are all PART of it; for Friends, it deals more with personal wholeness and inner Truth, Truth being Jesus, and from Truth we get the outward signs of integrity: like honesty and fairness. 

The “testimony of telling the truth” that Quakers “endured heavy fines or imprisonment” (Williams, pg. 79) fighting for our religious freedom to obey Christ in the command not to swear stems from Matthew 5:34-37 and James 5:12. 

George Fox said, “For the Lord showed me that, though the people of the world have mouths full of deceit, and changeable words, yet I was to keep to Yea or Nay in all things.” (Jones, pg. 66) Since George Fox was eleven, he lived by the simple affirmation of speaking the truth.  Using Matthew 5:34-37 and James 5:12, Friends have long stood firm on their obedience to the commands in these verses.  

Matthew 5:34-37 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; or by the earth, because it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. Neither should you swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. But let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.

James 5:12 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Now above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. Your “yes” must be “yes,” and your “no” must be “no,” so that you won’t fall under judgment. 

With this in mind, Friends believe that speaking truthfully is something done when the Spirit lives within you.  Being told that they need to “swear’ that they are telling the truth implies that unless they “swear,” they might not be telling the truth and this was not only disrespectful to them personally, more importantly, it doubted God’s presence in their life.  

Christianity Guide describes the essence of the Testimony of Integrity as placing God at the center of one's life. Quakers believe that the Holy Spirit is in everyone. Integrity means focusing and spending time listening to the small voice of the Spirit and being open to its leading - whether the Spirit is speaking within oneself or through another.  The Testimony of Integrity also means refusing to place things other than God at the center of one's life - whether it be one's own self, possessions, the regard of others, belief in principles (such as rationality, progress or justice) or something else. It is the understanding that even good things are no longer good when they take the place of God as one's center. be continued. 

#Quakers #integrity 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Quaker Gratitude

As I sit on the beautiful deck, here at Quaker Hill, I cannot help but think of the Friends who saw a need for a camp decades ago and gave of themselves in every way to make it possible. 

All across the country, you will find Friends camps, some are primitive and some are posh. They all are a blessing and meet needs while they provide a peaceful setting to minister in.

Again, I am extremely grateful for the men and women who have seen and met needs then so my needs can be met now; and I can help meet other people's needs.

Peace out.  I have some basking in God's glory to do.

#Quakers #Quakerwomen #Quakerhill

Monday, September 15, 2014

Grief Stinks

My original post title was: Grief Sucks.  But, I would not say "sucks" in front of my Auntie; nor do I say it in front of my Moma when I have my wits about me; so I changed it to "stinks."  Because it does.  Grief is never welcomed.  It is never wanted.  It is not my friend.  After reading the words my great-aunt shared, though, I think I should re-think something.  Perhaps, RAW, GUT-WRENCHING, PHYSICAL HEARTACHE PAIN stinks but grief changes, moves, and is part of a journey.  I do not care for this part of the journey and I let God know my thoughts on the whole thing.  I even used the word sucks with Him because while He loves me as I am; while He accepts me as I am; as He takes me as I am; He is working in me and someday that word may change in my vocabulary and I will find a more polite way of describing my feelings.  Until then, stinks, sucks, and whatever word aptly describes what no words can convey will suffice.  

My Great-Aunt Ella shared these words to my Uncle and his family, "Grief never ends, but it changes.  It's a passage, not a place to stay.  Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith.  It is the price of love."

I looked up these words and the whole poem is:

Grief never ends,
But it changes.

It’s a passage,
Not a place to stay.

The sense of loss
Must give way
If we are to value
The life that was lived.

Grief is not a sign of weakness;
Nor lack of faith.
It is the price of love. 
~author unknown~

I have a pretty special family.  We have the hope in Jesus Christ to strengthen us and give us peace that we know that my Auntie is in heaven; her real home.

I am just selfish.  I was not ready to say good-bye; nor ever would be ready.  Many feel the same.

#grief #Brownfamily 

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

"Unafraid to Speak"

Joseph John Gurney was unafraid to speak out regarding "the spirit of unbelief which had subtly crept in and was robbing Quakerism of much of its vitality, and even of its saving message." (Williams, pg. 172)

I love how Walter Williams describes Gurney: "Gurney was at heart a true Quaker, careful in conduct, a lover of silent worship, ever eager to sense and obey the Spirit's leading.  He studied the Bible carefully, and restored to almost daily self-examination." (pg. 172) 

Each day he would ask himself questions like these:
Have I this day been guarded in all my conversation, saying not one thing inconsistent with truth, purity, or charity?
Have I felt love toward my neighbor?
Have I done my part towards my family?
Have I been temperate in all respects and refrained from unlawful desires, habits, and anxieties?
Have I been diligent in business?
Have I given full time to effectual study?
Have I admitted any other fear than that of God?
Have I in everything acted, to the best of knowledge, according to the will of God? (Williams, pg. (172)
In a world where political correctness governs the way people think about us, I am drawn to the idea that sometimes, "the truth hurts."  Does speaking Truth, even if offends, mean I am not loving or not "politically correct?"  Honestly, I despise that phrase.  I would much rather use "offensive" versus political correct.

I am not trying to fire anyone up.  I'm trying to get my head and heart around the idea of "How does my not agreeing with you mean I am unloving?"  I have always been one that either stands for what is unpopular or one who stands up for the opposition. 

In reading the self examination questions above, I think these are questions that, for the most part, everyone I know can agree with.  Maybe I am naive. 

I am not saying that we all can answer them the way we hope to, but that they are questions worth asking ourselves at the end of the day. 

In reading through the questions, a few pop out for me, anxieties, any other fear than God, to name two.  I think the next step is to ask ourselves "HOW?"  

How have I guarded my day to consistent with truth, purity, or charity?
How did I show my neighbor that I felt love for him?
How have I done my part for my family?

Thinking along the same lines of my, "Cleaning House" post, I am in a state of discernment and clearness and appreciate your prayers!

I give all the credit for these words to Joseph John Gurney, Walter Williams, and the Light Within me:

Williams, W. (1962). The rich heritage of Quakerism. Barclay Press: Newberg, Oregon.

#Quakers #Friendsmovement #selfexamination #politicallycorrect 

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Time to Clean House

"Clean house" can mean different things to different people. 

If you asked my Mom what it means to clean house, she would probably reply, "dust, vacuum, sweep, mop, clean the bathrooms, wash the windows...". You get the idea.

As a person in recovery and you might get a totally different answer!  You might hear:
  • It's step 4
  • It's steps 4-10
  • It means "keeping your side of the street clean." (Which would launch into what that means. ha!)
For me, the two are connected now.  The more cluttered my home is, the more cluttered my thoughts are.  When my house is clean, I feel better, I think better, I act nicer.

Why, then, don't I keep my house clean?  Sadly, I don't have an answer for you.  The Holy Spirit is nudging me to simplify the physical side of my life, though.  I need to be obedient in this.  

I can tell you this, I am ready for my DH to back the dump trailer up to the front door and haul out everything I throw at him.  That would be a good first step at cleaning house. 

I can also say, I am grateful for:
1) Tools I learned in AA for dealing with real life.  "Trust God, Clean house, Help others."
2) A beautiful home.
3) Having a dump trailer at my disposal.... pun intended!

Now, finding time to do this is another issue. 

#1000gifts #AA #cleanhouse #simplify #Quaker