WHAT GOD HAS IMPRESSED ON ME THIS WEEK

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Great with Childs



I opened my laundry room door to let my two dogs out this morning.  One jumped up and happily trotted through the house on over to the back door, and the other slowly lifted herself to her feet.  She finally made her way out the door to the back yard to do her business, but it took some time.  Several weeks ago, it was flipped flopped.  The slower one was the more energetic one, but that was before she was great with childs. 
 
Our older dog, Storm, is 12 ½ years old…equivalent to the age of my grandmother.  She was always dragging behind the younger girl, Rebel.  It’s strange to see Storm way out ahead of Rebel now.  It’s been interesting to witness someone else in my home other than myself pregnant.  I had no idea how similar a dog’s pregnancy is to persons.

She started out moody and clingy…that never changed.  Then she didn’t want to eat.  There have been times that we’ve seen “a bile filled puddle” on the floor of the laundry room in the morning…morning sickness.  We may have never known except the cold winter nights drove us to let them sleep inside.  If she had been pregnant during the summer, we probably wouldn’t have a clue.
 
This morning after closing the door behind my wobbly girl, I watched out the window observing them both.  Storm went over to the far corner of the back yard to empty her bladder, but Rebel couldn’t make it all the way out there.  She stopped half way across to relieve herself.  Then Storm trotted around for a bit picking up some toys to chew on, but Rebel finished her trek to the “bathroom” corner in order to do number two.  I watched Storm dart here and there, and stop off to get a drink of water all while poor Rebel strained and pushed and strained and pushed.  Aha!  She’s constipated. 
 
Eventually Storm decided she had the same urge and zig-zagged back on over to their “spot” to drop a present of her own.  She easily managed and they finished up about the same time.  I expected Rebel to stop off at the water bowl next, but she instead went into her dog house to curl up in a corner.  Yes, she appears to prefer those close quarters these days…evidence of nesting.  Storm, on the other hand, realized she had done everything she came outside to do, and ended up at the back door letting out a simple little bark meaning, “I’m done.  Can I come back in now?”  I let her in, and at the sound of the door opening, Rebel appeared from her house to follow behind.

I sat down with them both for minute on their blankets reflecting once again on my dog’s pregnancy.  I’ve heard my boys say words of, “I’m sorry we did this to you,” but even though I have compassion for her, I’m not sorry.  And I’m the only one in the house who completely has empathy for the girl.  No, I’m not sorry.  We’ve always wanted to breed our lab.  I wasn’t ready when Storm was young as I had young ones of my own, and just knew I couldn’t handle the commitment.  And that’s without truly knowing how much of a commitment there would be. 

We eventually had Storm spayed, and gave up on the notion for awhile.  Then we decided a puppy was exactly what our old dog needed to keep her going, so we got Rebel.  They are both pure bred black Labrador Retrievers.  We always thought Storm was a pretty good looking dog, but then as Rebel grew we were amazed at her long sleek beautiful build and the way she strutted herself around like she just knew she was gorgeous.  Well it worked, Storm got a little bit more energetic even though she was often annoyed. 
 
Now that we’ve picked up our dream of breeding our “pure beauty” at her second heat, Storm is jealous like you wouldn’t believe.  I don’t blame her…all the attention Rebel’s getting.  I’m still trying to figure out if either one of these dogs knows what’s going to happen sometime in the next week or so. 
 
I got up to get Storm some breakfast, and I noticed that when she got up her back hip was bothering her again.  Plus, her teeth chattering told me that they were bothering her as well.  So, I gave her medicine in her kibble and put her back outside. 
 
I tried to get Rebel to eat some kibble, but of course she wouldn’t.  She’s been sooooo picky!!!  I really never expected that to happen.  For awhile during the pregnancy, I was pulverizing her kibble and mixing it with turkey broth.  It was convenient since it was just Thanksgiving.  When we ran out, the other “Mommy/Grandma” made some broth for her. 
 
I’m not sure what else to call us other than “Grandmas” to these puppies.  After all, our pets are an extension of our families, and I’m typically referred to as “Mommy” when we’re all spending time with the dogs.  Getting to know Rebel’s “baby daddy”, Clyde, and his owners has been a very sweet experience as well.  I feel like I’ll be "Grandma" to these puppies, and Clyde’s “Mommy”, Michelle, must feel the same way as she is just as excited as I am for them to come.

I got Rebel to eat regular kibble last week and so stopped with the pulverizing, but it was only a few days of normalcy.  I started mixing the dry kibble with bacon grease.  That worked for a day.  Then it was Christmas dinner, and we saved the drippings from our prime rib roast.  I got her to eat by mixing that in with her food.  That lasted a couple days.  Yesterday, I had to mix the last of the canned food in, and found success, but then she refused to eat the scrambled eggs I’d been giving her daily for weeks in order for her to get extra protein.  I was shocked.  I found myself out of ideas until I can get to the store for more canned food.  Then it hit me…cookies!  

OK, so she’s a little spoiled.  But I’m desperate to get her to eat.  You can’t reason with a dog to “do it for the babies”.  We had some dog treats that were all natural and nutritious…full of dried fruit, oatmeal, peanuts, molasses, and chicken fat.  At least it’s not as bad as Bill Cosby giving his kids cake for breakfast.  She gobbled them up, and I let Storm back inside.

After fixing myself some tea, I watched my poor girl try to maneuver herself into positions she used to be able to easily get herself into to clean herself.  I thought about the times I needed my husband’s help to unhook a bra or tie my shoes when I was in my 8th month.  That’s equivalent to 8 weeks for a dog which she’ll be tomorrow.  I got a warm wet wash cloth and wiped down her back legs and tail that was covered in mucus.  It’s a normal discharge, and she just can’t seem to get it all clean.  Then I cleaned all the goop out of her eyes.  She seems to be congested and it makes her eyes weep.  I was never one to become congested while pregnant, but I know of many women who were.  It just never occurred to me that my dog would have that same experience.

Finally, it was time to sit with my two girls for some cuddle time.  This was the first morning that I was able to see ripples constantly moving across her belly.  It was very cool to watch while Rebel lied there like a beached whale…great with childs.

I think I’ve been most surprised by her emotions.  A couple of weeks ago, we went out for my husband’s company Christmas dinner.  Our adult daughter and her boyfriend came out to our house to stay the night with our teenage boys as we didn’t know how late we would be.  First Rebel reacted strangely to Tori, and then later reacted the same way with her boyfriend, Ravi, when he arrived.  She cried and cried as if she was crying tears of joy to see them.  It was as if she hadn’t seen them in weeks, when in actuality they come over once or twice a week.  I wish I could figure out how to spell what was coming out of her vocal chords, but if I could translate, it would sound like, “Oh I’ve missed you guys so much.  (sob, sob, sob)  You have no idea what I’ve been through.  (sob, sob, sob)  I’ve just been so miserable.  Oh it’s so good to see you.  Will you just stay with me for awhile?  (sob, sob, sob)  Please, please, pleeaasse??”  Whoda’ thought a dog would have all the experiences a person has with pregnancy?

I think about all the professional breeders who will have 2 or 3 pregnant girls at a time.  How could they possibly give them all the attention that they truly need?  All pregnancies are difficult, and I know it’s because of being under the curse of sin.  If anything, I feel bad that animals have to experience this curse even though it was man who sinned and brought the curse on.  But since creation is under the dominion of man, they were cursed right along with us.  We are to rule over the animals and all of nature…not harshly, but with love. Still, we are to dominate over them, and care for them…especially when they are suffering.  

 For we know that all creation has been groaning 
as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 
 Romans 8:22

Yesterday, my kids and I watched a DVD called, “My Life as a Turkey.”  It was very interesting, but I just couldn’t agree with the guy.  He spent a year and a half raising 16 wild turkeys from incubation till they were out on their own.  I’m sure he’s an intelligent man, but there was a level of stupidity in him that got sometimes annoying.  At one point, he said he felt these creatures were superior to him.  What?!? Superior?  Are you insane?  I turned to my boys and said, “Don’t you EVER think that an animal is superior to you!”  I mean, some animals are scary, but superior??  Never!  That’s an evolutionary mindset right there.  And I won’t have it.  

I laughed as the guy was shocked in the end when the most dominant male turned and attacked him.  I know it’s nothing to laugh at, but I guess my sick sense of humor thought he was an idiot for not expecting it as I yelled out, “Shoot it!  Eat it!”  

God commanded Adam to rule over the animals and subdue the earth…to bring them under submission.  Not to allow them to rule over us, not to lift them up as superior to us, not to harm them either, but to subdue them with wisdom.  I am superior over my dogs.  They need me to help them, especially when the curse of sin that makes all of creation groan affects them as well, making an old dog groan with arthritis and decaying teeth, and a young dog groan with emotion and exhaustion during her pregnancy.  

It’s only a few days after Christmas…the day we celebrate when our Savior who came to break that curse was born.  His mother was great with child as she entered into the place where she would give birth among the animals.  That means animals were among the first to see Him.  He cares for them.  But no one is superior to Jesus.  He deserves all honor, glory, and praise.  He overcame sin throughout His life, on the cross, and in resurrection.  We must make a conscience decision to follow Him.  But since the animals did not make a conscience decision to be under the curse, they don’t have to make the same decision we do in order to be saved.  Some have argued that animals are not eternal creatures, but I’ve read scripture that describes heaven, and guess what…animals are there.
 
It’s too complicated of an issue to say for sure one way or the other, but when I look at my girls, and see them groaning, I’m reminded that Jesus cares for them too.  They won’t always be suffering just like we won’t either.  Someday, we’ll be living in paradise where there is no more suffering, no more death, and no more tears.  But for now, I will care for my girls…the old one who is close to the end of her life, the young one who is close to the end of her pregnancy, and soon all those childs she is great with.

Amie Spruiell
12/28/13

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Treasures


It’s amazing how many shadows are cast in each room as the sun rises first thing in the morning and its rays stream into my home.  Lying in bed thinking about the fullness of all that I possess…all that I’ve collected and carefully kept over the years…I feel safe knowing they're there.

Though I enjoy visiting the homes of my friends where there’s space to walk around, places to sit and visit, and an open line of view to the other side of the house to observe what others are doing, I just can’t imagine transforming my home into such a place.  Where would I begin?  What would I do with it all?  How would I decide what to keep and what not? 

No, it’s too much to think about.  I might as well get up and get started with my daily routine.  I follow the same path I have for years weaving in and out and around my many piles, but this time I ask myself, “Why?”  Why do I go through such lengths to keep it all?  Why am I even asking why?  And why now?  I’ve done this everyday for years without question, without thinking, and now?  Suddenly I have a stirring inside of me to reevaluate my way of life…my comfortable way of life.

I’ve had twinges of guilt in the past when I’ve observed those in need, knowing that I have so much.  But I would quickly dismiss those feelings assuring myself that someone else will surely come along to help.

I just can’t imagine the work of searching through, gathering up, and carrying such weighty items to someone else.  The other option is even worse.  Inviting them inside to search through my treasures themselves would be such an invasion of my privacy.  I would be embarrassed for them to see and know how much has been piled up and why…even if there is a story behind each and every possession as well as a happy ending.  There would just be too much explaining to do, and so many questions to answer.  One would lead to another.  Would they understand the choices I’ve made?  Would they see the beauty of each keepsake?

It’s so frightening to consider.  On the other hand, I am assuming the worst.  Well, I’m just not big on taking chances, I guess.  Besides, it’s not so bad.  After all, I keep my laundry up, my dishes washed, and my toilets clean.  I function just fine.  Even as I continue with my self-talk, I go through my morning chores.  I’ll admit preparing breakfast has always been a little challenging searching for a work space.  But before I begin to eat, I always think about how thankful I am for it all.

And then I begin to feel lonely….

Who would have thought that on this particular day that has strangely been filled with thoughts of regret, and at the very moment that sadness begins to creep into my heart that there is no one to enjoy my meal with, there would be a knock at my door.

Instantly, all of my thoughts flee as fear and anger overwhelm me.  Who would have the nerve to ignore my signs?  Don’t they realize that no one is ever to knock at my door…let alone come into my home?  Do they really think I’m going to let them in?

After several seconds of silence, the knocking continues.  Well, my breakfast is already interrupted and I probably won’t be able to eat now for the rest of the day.  Maneuvering my way to the front of the house, I carefully peek out the window to catch a glimpse of the brave soul rapping on my door.

It’s that woman from the corner…the one with the cart, and she’s got her dog with her.  What does she want?  If I let her in, her dog will roam around and get into everything…maybe even pee on something, and I probably won’t even know it until my whole place reeks of ammonia.  People from the street will smell it and assume it’s me.  My thought process of excuses is interrupted by more knocking and a plea for help.

A more careful look out the window reveals a limp animal in her arms.  Eventually the annoying whine coming from my front porch pushes me to make a drastic decision.  Finally forsaking my privacy, I open my home and she falls at my feet since she was pressing so hard against my door.

In less than a moment, she frantically climbs to her feet cradling her beloved and terribly injured pet, and begging me for help.  As if I would have any means to help her.  I don’t know what she expects to find here.  I stand there not knowing what to do or say as she’s weeping before me. 

“Maybe you should find someone who can help you,” I offer as advice.  Then, through her sobs, I struggle to make out the words, “That’s why I’m here!” 

My heart begins to race as I nervously look around my home wondering what she must think of me.  After a little composure, she continues to explain.

“I know he’s only got a few breaths left in him.  He’s my best friend, and I’m losing him.  I didn't have enough strength in me to carry him to the vet.  I didn’t have a phone to use to call one.  I would not have been able to pay for any services anyway.  If only he hadn’t run out into the street like that.  What am I going to do?”

I continue to wonder why she’s telling me all of this.  Of all people, why me?  Just then the dying body whose belly was barely inflating and deflating stops moving altogether and the woman falls to the floor again screaming.  Afraid that someone might hear her and think my home is open to them as well, I quickly rush over to close the front door.  I still feel confused with my back against the door watching her wail over her loss.

Then I begin to feel as though I’m being forced to offer her something.  My rebellious will is fighting against it, but there’s a small part of me that desires to surrender.  My back slides down the door and I sink onto the floor.  My hands reach out one in front of the other crawling to her in slow motion.  Though I’m fighting against it, every movement causes the surrender inside of me to grow. 

By the time I reach her, her sobs have calmed to whimpers.  She’s sitting on her knees looking down at what was once her friend, and I feel as though something else is controlling me as my arm reaches around her shoulder and words come out of my mouth that do not sound like my own.

“Maybe we can get through this together…."

The next thing I know, we started searching through my many things and found some pieces of material, several remnants from different bolts.  She humbly asked me if she could have them to wrap her dog in.  Looking at the folded strips of cloth, fear slowly began to well up inside of me as I remembered why I had kept them.  Deep down inside, I knew I must fight this battle and allow this be the first of my treasures that I relinquish.  I nodded my head and as we carefully laid the body on one piece, covered it with another and continued with a sort of solemn ceremony.  I explained to her what the material meant to me.
 
“Shannon was my best friend.  She loved all sorts of crafts, and was very talented.  Back when we were in a Bible study together, she felt inspired by the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors.  At the time, I was trying to build a wardrobe of professional outfits since I had just finished college and was now on the hunt to begin my career.  She actually pieced together using several different coordinating colors a stunning blazer with 3 pairs of slacks each a different color that matched one of the colors in the jacket.  She said it was my coat of many colors.”

We both smiled as I talked about Shannon.

“About a year later, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer that took her so quickly, I felt like she was ripped from my life.  But I felt the presence of God more than I ever did before when she died.  I leaned on Him and He helped me through it.  I insisted that she herself was buried in the coat of many colors she had made for me.” 

I looked up and smiled, “And these are the remnants from those bolts that she used.  Don’t they look stunning on your best friend?”

After that, we searched for something to use as a little coffin, and before long found a box…a beautiful box that he fit perfectly in.  So, I told her the story of the box…how it arrived at my door one day with some groceries, some clothes and a little money.  It was at a time when I was struggling quite a bit financially.  I had only enough money to pay my rent, but nothing else.  I was so hungry.  There was no note in the box, and I had no idea where it had come from.  But I thanked God for providing. 

Then we searched some more and found some dried flower petals to sprinkle around her deceased friend, and I told her the story of the petals.

“You see,” I began, “I always dreamed of a beautiful romance, but as time went on, I realized that I probably will never have one.”  She looked sad as I told her.  “Then,” I continued, “God revealed to me how much He loves me.  It was an amazing moment for me, for just as He spoke to my heart, the doorbell rang and this beautiful arrangement of flowers was delivered to me.  The card simply said, ‘With Love.’  I decided to let the petals dry out so I could keep them.”

Next we found a place in the yard to bury the box and a shovel to use to dig up the hole.  I even had a story to tell about the shovel. 

“It belonged to my grandmother who loved her beautiful garden, and when I was a girl, I took the shovel and dug a hole in the ground, ruining a portion of her flowerbed.  When I saw what I had done, I felt so bad.  But my grandmother told me that she forgives me just as Jesus forgives her.”

We took some wildflower seeds that I had, and sprinkled them over the area of the grave.  Then we covered them up with the rest of the dirt.  I told her a story from the Bible about planting seeds.  I told her many stories that day…many that went along with my many treasures.  Some of the stories were difficult to tell…but I told them anyway.  I found myself giving my things away to this woman, and it wasn’t too painful.  In fact, I felt good afterward.

Every now and then throughout that day, she reminded me how she just knew that I would be able to help her, and she encouraged me to help others as well.  But she didn’t realize just how much she had helped me.
That night I asked God to forgive me for hoarding so many testimonies and allowing them to pile up in the secret places.  I promised that if He would send people into my life who needed to hear them, I would be willing give them away. 

His light seems to shine more freely now.  There are no more dark corners or shadows cast.  I’ve removed all of my signs, and I just love inviting people into my heart now.

Amie Spruiell 10/26/13


This fictional story was inspired by my friend who was impressed with a message from our pastor about hoarding our testimonies instead of telling others about them…for it is by the blood of the Lamb AND the word of our testimony that we will overcome…and our testimony brings other to Christ.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Life’s Not A B---h, and We Will Have Life Everlasting!

Do you remember the old saying, “Life’s a b---h, and then you die.”  Yes, I know this is a Christian website and that’s not a very Christian thing to say, but let’s be real, we’ve all heard it before.  I especially remember it during the 80’s, but I know it was first said long before then.  It’s not my favorite thing to say.  It’s something I would take captive of before it ever had the chance to form in my mind.  I’ve never really cared for the saying, and not because of the expletive.  I just don’t like the attitude behind it.  But life is hard.  I know it’s hard.  And dealing with everything life throws at you is hard.  So, I suppose I understand it. 

I believe there’s a few ways to use this phrase.  One way means to just deal with it.  Don’t dwell on the things we’re supposed to let go of.  It takes hard work to just survive, so work hard without feeling sorry for yourself.  Let go of unnecessary offenses.  It’s just extra weight.  We’re not to be jealous of others or selfish in the way we think life’s supposed to turn out.  All this falls into the same category.  I still personally wouldn’t use the above phrase, but I understand that others do when life calls for the words, “Deal with it!”  Many tend to also say, “Well, life’s a b---h, and then you die!”

On the other hand, when we let ourselves fall into destructive behaviors, following bad examples, and making dangerous choices all resulting in misery following us wherever we go, we might be tempted to use this phrase.  And that’s because we don’t want to deal with it.  It’s too much work, so we stay stuck in our suffering.

Likewise, when you watch others following such patterns, and you know how much work it was for you yourself to make a change, how are you supposed to convince another to do just that…change?  I mean if you go through the work of trying to get them to change, putting yourself through anguish and they still don’t…then what?

Here we go with that bitter sweet attitude of, “Life’s a b---h, and then you die.”  It’s sweet to some because it lets them off the hook of the work of making a difference.  It gives them permission to throw their hands up and say, “Oh well.  There’s nothing I can do about it.  This is the way it will always be.”  It’s bitter because it leaves no room for hope, and it continues to callous your heart and your mind.

I spent some time this week with some family members who no doubt have had this phrase…or at least this attitude…cross their minds and callous their hearts a thousand times before.  And the truth is you can’t blame them.  Though Jesus holds them very dear to Him and has never left them alone, it’s so difficult to know Him, feel Him, and hear His powerful voice when you’re trapped in a world of anger, fear, blame, and regret. 

The effects of trauma go far, deep and wide in a family.  It’s been 7 years since my cousin’s 16 year old daughter suffered entrapment, rape, torture, and murder.  It’s been 7 years since two people lost their oldest daughter, 7 years since two girls lost their sister, 7 years since a baby lost her mother, 7 years since two people lost their first grandchild, and that doesn’t even mention the aunts, uncles and cousins who lost her as well.  It’s been 7 years of trying to heal, overcome, move on and quite often giving into that bitter sweet attitude of, “Oh well.  There’s nothing I can do about it.  This is the way it will always be.”

If I were to truly describe the experience I had this week with them…the experience that my adult daughter, my teenage son, and I had with them this week, this posting would be pushing the rating of “R” just from the intensity of the conversations alone…not to mention the language.  And I know that most were doing their best to hold back.  But I know that Jesus was with us, by our side, sitting around the table out on the porch, hanging out on the couch, hurrying around the corner of the house to chase down someone who was running away from the conversation, and walking out into the dried up pasture with the children who were trying to get away from the intensity of it…all at the house that’s been a part of this family for as long as I can remember.

And why now?  What’s spurred it all on at this time?  One of the surviving sister’s has allowed herself to get into her third abusive relationship, and just a week earlier, she almost lost her life because of it.  We witnessed how different people react in different ways.  Where one sister would never allow it to happen, the other seems trapped in her own mind believing she’s not worthy of anything more.  Now the two sisters are living together in the ranch house that they were both once infants in.  They have their own little ones.  One has a son, the other has a daughter, and the four of them are as vulnerable as little lambs when it comes to the enemy of our souls.  And that’s really what it boils down to…a battle with the enemy, a spiritual battle that’s been waged for many, many years, not just beginning 7 years ago.

I’ve spent the remaining of the week at home with my mother visiting me, and discussing patterns in our family.  It doesn’t take long to see how things repeat from generation to generation.  There’s promiscuity, illegitimate children, substance abuse, adultery, divorce, and yes even teenage death a few generations before the one that plagues my loved ones.  It’s so overwhelming it’s hard to know where to begin battling. 

With two of my four children with me, we set out to go and pray even though not one of us felt that there was anything extraordinary about us.  Of course, despite our feelings, we knew that the Word tells us that we are extraordinary simply because of Christ in us, so off we went…off we went to kill some giants like our pastor speaks about on Sunday mornings. 

I decided that the first thing that needed to be done was to convince them that they are just as extraordinary as we are.  The truth is that every single one of them believes in Jesus, but taking that step to believe in Him does not stop the enemy from lying to you and convincing you of anything and everything that’s contrary to God’s Word.  They look at us and seem to think that we are on some different level, which of course we’re not.  We’ve just learned to recognize lies and counter them with the truth.  And the last thing that we came to do is judge anyone.  Still, they kept on trying to get a reaction out of us.  We really could care less about their “shockers”.  So we went to work teaching them about lies.

Yes, child, you are better than what these men have made you believe you are.  You are the child of a King!  No, sister, you cannot give up and say, “Oh well, life’s a b---h!”  You have to keep fighting for your sister, your parents, your grandparents, and yourself!  You have to keep fighting because God entrusted to you your own child to fight for!  God created you to be a fighter for a good reason, so live out the way you were designed with joy, not anger.  No, cousin, you cannot give into fear of losing another child to the curse of death before her time because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.  Put ALL your faith in HIS protection.  He won’t let you down!  Yes, precious family, life is better than that because you have authority in you over the b---h of the lies, and when you finish living a full life of victory because of Christ in you and your body succumbs to the curse of death, you will have eternal life with the lover of your soul and there’s nothing greater than that.

I was impressed!                                                                                                                                                                             

I was in no way impressed with myself…I was impressed with the presence of God.  He was there when we were eating pizza casually visiting, and He was there when we were powerfully praying casting out demons and breaking curses.  He was the one that was calming our spirits while one sister was doing everything she could to push every button and get on every nerve we had in us all with her outrageous outbursts.  He was the one giving my daughter wisdom as she did everything to convince her cousin that she has to break free from the lies of her abuser.  He was there as pent up emotions came pouring out of my cousin after years of trying to pretend that she’s strong enough to overcome the death of her own child.

I was especially impressed with the picture of Jesus I saw in my 13 year old son.  I’ve been criticized for sheltering my children and criticized for not sheltering them enough.  I know many would frown on my judgment call to bring him into this situation, but God intended for him to be there and God used him. 

He loved on those little ones the way Jesus does.  When the 2 year old little boy bit my son’s nose and used a four letter word just to get his attention, he calmly corrected him with love.  When the 4 year old little girl who looks to be trapped in her own fears wouldn’t have anything to do with him, he patiently worked at getting her to trust him.  When the 8 year old daughter of the one who was murdered got dropped off after school by grandma because she just couldn’t stand not seeing her cousin, he was happy to see her too.  And when I saw him with the 2 year old in one arm, the 4 year old in the other, and the 8 year old walking by his side heading off into the wilderness of the ranch, it was absolutely beautiful.  It was Jesus saying, “Come with me and be little children.  Let the adults take care of killing giants.”

I continue to pray that they will not succumb to the bitter attitude of “Life’s a b---h, and then you die!”  That in itself is a lie.  Jesus came to give us an abundant life, not a life that makes you want to die.  He came to heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free!  What I see in these women are warriors that scare the enemy to death.  His attack on them is only because he is threatened.  And he should be threatened, because they are more than conquerers!  God’s plan is for them to have an abundant, powerful, victorious and fulfilling life, and then for them to have life everlasting!  He will never leave them nor forsake them.
Amie Spruiell 8/30/13

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Love Story


I love a good story.  I love the Bible.  I really love that the Bible has so many good stories.  And even better…love stories.  The Old Testament is filled with love stories beginning in the garden when God brought Adam his bride, Eve.  The very first words he spoke to her were romantic, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”

  Though Abraham and Sarah have quite a bit written about them, there aren’t really many romantic words spoken between them in scripture or written about them either…though he does call her beautiful.  On the other hand, there’s quite a story to read about their son, Isaac, and their daughter-in-law, Rebekah.  I imagine that Isaac must have had a beautiful example in his own parents growing up to prepare him for the moment he first laid eyes on his love. 

The picture of the two of them coming together is breathtaking.  He’s in the field and sees her approaching with his father’s servant on their camels.  She inquires to the servant who the man is and then veils herself when she learns it is her betrothed.  He takes her into the tent to unveil her and make her is wife.  Sigh…how romantic.
It appears that this family develops a reputation for love stories as Isaac and Rebekah’s son, Jacob, is love struck the moment he sees Rachel and ends up working for her father for 14 years just to have her as his wife.  Jacob becomes the father of the nation of Israel named after him since God changed his name to Israel.  It’s this nation of people that brings us the Word of God, so I’m wondering if God had something in mind when He ensured that these lovely stories were included when we read of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
There are so many others that come to my mind.  Moving through a chronological timeline, there’s Samson and Delilah, though the story is soiled when she betrays him.  How about Ruth and Boaz?  Now there’s an amazing love story.  Someone should write a play about that.  I also love the words written about Samuel’s parents.  Oh how his father adored his mother.  We all know the story of David and Bathsheba.  Well, maybe we shouldn’t glorify a relationship that began in sin, but God did forgive them and she was with him right up to the end. 
There’s even a beautiful love story written in one of the prophets, Hosea.  He loved his wife so much that even after she painfully betrayed him and was at her lowest point in life, he forgives her, searches her out, and pays to have her back saving her from destitute and proving his love for her. 
Most girls love reading about Queen Esther, and although I have strong opinions about how the story began, at least by the end, the king expresses how much he loves her when she approaches his throne with a request and he responds with, “What is it, Queen Esther?  What is your request?  Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given to you.”
If you’re paying attention, you might have noticed that I skipped over Solomon’s entire book written all about romantic love called The Song of Solomon.  There’s a reason for that, and I’ll get back to it in a moment.  For now, I want to jump to the New Testament.
Though we could dig and dig and find many little stories hidden in the Old Testament about romantic love, it’s a totally different story in the New Testament.  Of course, it starts out with two couples who loved each other. 

First, Zechariah and Elizabeth was an old Levite couple with no children, and then Zechariah is visited by the angel, Gabriel, and is told some wonderful news.  The two of them are finally going to have a son and become a happy family.  Well, he’s told other things about this future son of theirs, but the fact that they were going to conceive and the joy of such conception I think is very romantic. 

On the other end of the spectrum is a very young couple, so young that they had not even had their wedding yet though according to law, they are officially married since they were engaged.  Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus is one of the sweetest love stories in the Bible.  Joseph had every right according the law of Moses to condemn Mary, but not every right neither in God’s eyes nor in his own because he loved her…and let’s not forget she was carrying the Savior of the world. 
After this it all changes and it appears there’s not another couple written about to sigh over.  Or is there?  When Jesus is born, everything changes because He is the ultimate love story.  He is the unfolding of God’s love for all of mankind.  He is the Bridegroom to every man and woman on earth who accepts His proposal. 
I know this is a little difficult for men to grasp, but all that need be is for every man to consider the love he has for his own bride, and to consider that he himself is loved in that same way by God.  There’s no greater love than for a man to lay down his life, and what real man would not lay down his life for his bride?  Yes, Jesus did just that because of His love for all of us.  That’s what all of these stories lead up to.  It’s why God programmed it into us to love a good love story, so that we could understand His love for us.  The entire New Testament is a romantic love story culminating in the very last book, Revelation, where it says:
“Hallelujah!
    For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
    and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
    was given her to wear.”

It’s a classic story of the greatest of all heroes coming to take his bride, and in the process abolish all evil and take his place as King.  And for the first time, the words “Happily Ever After” are completely appropriate as we, His bride, will get to spend eternity with our Bridegroom, our King…King Jesus.

  I love a good story, especially a good love story.  The Song of Solomon is the most romantic book in the Bible next to I think Revelation.  It has a double meaning to it.  It’s a conversation between two lovers…8 chapters of he said she said sprinkled with a little bit of friends said because who could resist talking about a couple so much in love and their amazing love story?  It’s so passionate that at times you feel a little embarrassed that you’re reading it…yet it's so hard to resist.
It’s understood to be between King Solomon and his bride.  I suppose you have to over look the fact that Solomon had many brides and consider this one to be his greatest, but that’s beside the point when you consider the real meaning behind it.  It’s all about the love that Jesus has for His bride, His church, all of us who make up the body of His church because we have accepted His proposal.  He loves us so much, it’s breathtaking!  It’s written all over His face, and all over His Word, the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. 

Amie Spruiell July 13, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cover Yourself

It was the fall of 1991.  I was almost 19 years old and had quite a busy schedule.  Going to Junior college, working part time, and taking care of my baby took up almost all day every day.  Still I squeezed into my schedule an exercise class at the college to burn off that pregnancy weight.  It was early morning step aerobics. 

Now of course there was a locker room next to the studio where the class took place available to change clothes in, but it was difficult enough getting out of the door at 7am with book bag, gym bag, diaper bag, and baby carrier.  It just made sense to leave my parent’s home, where I lived at the time, in my work-out outfit.  That way I could walk right into class after dropping off baby at childcare.  And what an outfit I had.  With leggings and leotard, I accented with a pair of black soccer shorts and a sleeveless half top to cover my chest and rear end.  I completed the ensemble with pushed down socks and Reebok tennis shoes.

While on my way to class, I would occasionally need to stop off and gas up my ’79 Toyota Corolla.  Being a thrifty girl, I knew the best place in town to do so.  To my convenience, it was right at the freeway entrance.  It was also right across the street from a parking lot used by a group of aircraft mechanics who worked the graveyard shift at SFO airport.  They would drop off their vehicles at an evening hour, load up into a commuter bus driven by one of the mechanics himself and head off.  At the end of their hard nights work, they would return to the same parking lot to retrieve their vehicles and head on home. 
Because traffic is so unpredictable, it was unlikely that this bus would end up in that parking lot at the same time I would be stopping at this particular gas station.  Yet, one morning, it happened.  Though I didn’t know it, the timing was perfect.  They pulled up just as I was out of my car filling up my tank.  I imagine that inside this commuter was close to a dozen mechanics including two very important ones, my dad and his brother, my uncle.  My dad was the driver. 
Lo and behold, one of the passengers had a mouth that was running that morning, and he entertained himself with a comment about me that was obviously insinuating he enjoyed the view.  It was followed by my uncle informing him that he was talking about Jimmie’s daughter.  The culprit was very embarrassed.  Stumbling over his words trying his best to apologize, he finally told my dad to tell me to cover myself.  That evening, dad and daughter had a talk. 
Looking back, I don’t think I was horrified, and I don’t think my father was either, but it was eye opening to us both.  I’m sure he was not pleased at the thought of this man gawking at his daughter, but he had enough common sense to know that this is the world we live in.  He was no doubt surrounded by men who acted unbecomingly in the presence of women, and though I’ve never expected saintly behavior in my own father, I know he’s a man who has respect for the opposite sex as well as for his own wife, so I’m sure he conducted himself quite morally regardless of the depravity he witnessed daily. 
As for me, it was one more reminder to always be mindful of the world we live in.  I was not dressed to get attention, and considering the rush I was in, that would have been the last thing on my mind.  Still, I must remember to do what I can to avoid a dangerous situation.  That’s not to say that I believe that women who are victims are themselves to blame.  No one who is harassed or abused in any way deserves it, but certain steps can be taken to lessen the chance.  A wise woman guards herself.
Let’s face it.  Men are hormone filled individuals.  There’s no reason to bash them for it.  They are created that way.  It’s their testosterone filled selves that enables them to put themselves in dangerous situations when necessary to save others from harm.  That’s why they are so good at fighting wars to preserve freedom, running into fires to rescue innocent lives, or any other situation that warrants a real hero.  And that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the women who do the same, but the ratio of men to women who do those things is the way it is because of that hormone that also causes them to be visual creatures that are often ruled by their desires. 
Now, fast forward 20 plus years.  Last night, my husband and I were going through our TiVo list of programs while at the same time real time TV was playing in the little box at the top right corner of the screen.  A program that we’ve probably never watched was on, Inside Edition.  It was highlighting what they were about to report on.  The words we heard were along the lines of, “Up next, what a TSA agent said to a 15 year old girl.”  Our interest was piqued, so we “stayed tuned….” 
According to this report, a 15 year old girl was traveling with her friends on a tour to visit some colleges.  In the LAX airport, a TSA agent who was at a desk responsible for checking IDs, etc., was “glaring” at her and mumbling.  She looked at him, and said, “Excuse me?”  He responded by saying, “You’re only 15, cover yourself!”  Before we had a chance to hear and view the responses of the girl and her parents, my husband and I both had pretty much the same initial thoughts. 
I have no doubt that the words “cover yourself” are dying to get out of the mouths of thousands of people every day.  It doesn’t mean all those people are controlling and oppressive.  It simply means that there are still plenty of people out there who worry for women and especially the young ones.  It’s a sick world out there, and no matter how hard we work at trying to rid society of immorality, it’s just common sense to guard yourself and to look out for others. 
I know how frustrated my husband gets when it comes to this sort of thing.  It irritates him beyond all means when he is surrounded by men who are commenting on the "eye candy" around them, and quite often they’re talking about younger women, practically girls.  Now speaking up is one thing, but correcting a few guys doesn't guard all of the vulnerable ladies out there from the myriads of men who have no control over their thought life let alone their words that can lead to harassment and even predatory actions.  How often have we said to ourselves that we wish young women and girls understood the dangers out there? 
Little league season seems to be the most frustrating for him.  One time a fellow coach commented to him that he wished they were still playing at the T-ball fields because the moms are younger, hotter, and dress sexier.  My husband immediately turned and said, “You better not be checking out my wife!”  Of course his peer assured him he was not. 
I have to be honest.  We were extremely disappointed in the response of the parents of this 15 year old girl.  It wasn’t just reported on Inside Edition, but on the father’s blog site which I have included a link to at the bottom of this post.  Before I was able to read his post, however, we were sitting there watching the program with our mouths dropped open at what was being said and reported.  Turns out, his blog was no different.
I will admit, there should be a line drawn with what these airport employees are allowed to discuss with the public they are serving.  The girl probably loved her outfit of black leggings, white tank showing some midriff, and long sleeve red plaid shirt covering her arms in the no doubt air conditioned airport.  Young ladies like to look cute and attractive, and being told something negative about your outfit hurts.  However, the last thing…and I mean not only the last thing, but probably the one thing that would NEVER cross our minds…was that this TSA agent was actually having sexual thoughts about this girl and decided to turn it around and blame her.  If that’s the case, then every father who ever looked at his teenage daughter and told her to turn around and go back into her room and put on a little bit more clothes were all having pedophile thoughts.
Of course, that’s preposterous as was the accusations against this security agent by the parents of the girl as well as a friend of the parents whose words were quoted on the father’s blog.  The agent was not only called unprofessional and inappropriate, but creepy, harassing, aggressive and even Taliban-y.  OK, maybe the man’s frustrations were coming through in the tone of his voice as it does in most men and he sounded aggressive, but come on…the rest is way overboard!
There are many different scenarios that I can think of that could have contributed to this agent losing control of his tongue and stepping out of his boundaries.  I can’t say that any of them would cause me to say that I blame him.  After all, he very likely could have a daughter around the same age.  It could be that like my husband, he’s sick and tired of listening to men around him gawk at young ladies and that includes commenting on outfits. 
One thing that crosses my mind is that this man spends day after day watching the public since it is his job.  How many times has he seen “real” creeps act inappropriately toward women right there in front of him causing him to become more and more protective of those who are vulnerable?  Common sense in a trained security agent tells them to watch out especially for kids traveling without parents.  They are the ones who are most preyed upon.  My comments are coming from someone who was preyed upon as a teenager in an amusement park and the situation could have turned out devastating.  I’ve also experienced being stalked by a business associate while working in the professional world in my twenties.  This is just the world we live in, people!
I’m definitely not "prudish" when it comes to the way I dress, and although I’m not perfect in my judgments, I try my best to be mindful.  I’m very fortunate to say that at 40, I’m pretty close to the same size I was at 19 and I like to dress pretty.  My husband is often tempted to tell me to change my style to something "dumpy", but he knows that women like to dress pretty because then they feel good about themselves which helps to build confidence in many areas of life.  He finds the balance between guarding me and trusting me, but he’ll never trust the other guy.  Funny…that’s something my father always said, “Watch out for the other guy!” 
No, I don't think this young lady was dressed scantily.  I don't think she was trying to get attention.  But even what we women feel is appropriately covering ourselves can still be dangerously perceived by others as just the opposite.  
I feel this agent was wrongly accused and criminalized in the eyes of the public thanks to this girl and her parents.  My guess is that he had a sense to protect young people, and if so I applaud him for it.  I think it’s sad that as he is trying to guard others in a world of sickos, he has to guard himself from people who jump to unnecessary conclusions damaging his character without grounds.  Ironically, as the parents are accusing him of harassment, their accusations have spread to so many online sites including FB and now to prime time television, I absolutely believe that they are doing the harassing.

Finally, this is the message that I would like for all women and especially young women to hear: 

Be mindful because you can’t always trust the other guy.  Stop assuming that one man’s sense of protection means he’s oppressing your women’s rights.  And since there’s no chance of anyone “assuming” that I’m having creepy sexual thoughts about teenage girls, I’ll say it, “Cover yourself!”

Amie Spruiell
June 18, 2013

Here’s the link to the girl’s father’s blog:
http://boingboing.net/2013/06/16/lax-tsa-officer-shames-my-15-y.html