I Heart Haters!

Sitting at lunch today, a man came in covered in tattoos with a t-shirt on that immediately caught my attention.  It was all white with “I” then a “big red heart” then the word “Haters!”  I stared at it.  I leaned into my sister and said, “Look at his shirt, he hearts haters.”

How odd, I thought.  He sat down with his party.  I went back to visiting with my family, we ate our lunch but every once in a while, out of the corner of my eye, I’d catch his shirt.  Bright white shirt, bright red letters, I Heart Haters.  I kept thinking what kind of person would love haters?  How strong a person must be to not just heart the haters but to advertise it on their shirt.

But isn’t that what Jesus did?  He loved those who hated him.  He loved those who beat Him.  He loved those who hung Him on a cross and killed Him.  He loves us when we hate Him, when go about doing our own thing, when we sin.

Jesus said in Luke 6:27-28  “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”  

We try to love but it isn’t always pretty or accepted.  Sometimes those we know and love become our worst “haters” and the hardest to love.

As I think back to the man with the I Heart Haters shirt it was almost as if he was daring someone to hate him so he could prove he loved them.

Jesus Hearts Haters.  We are called to heart haters.  Do you heart haters?  I have to ask myself, Do I heart haters?  I may say I do and even try to but do I love them enough to broadcast it on a t-shirt and walk around with it?

Casting Crowns tweeted today, “I think the world is fully aware right now of what we are against, but I don’t think they really know what we’re for.”

Let’s get out there and just love.  Join me in saying, “I Heart Haters!”

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Uncle Bob

My Uncle passed away a few months back.  The day of the funeral the sun was shining as we walked into the church.  We did all the “funeral” things you do as family. People offering condolences, telling you how sorry they are, they share in your grief all the while you’re really just trying to hold it together.

The service was amazing. My cousin read a four-page paper of his remembrances of his dad, my uncle.  We laughed and we cried.  We sing the final song and then, piped loudly through the sound system, “Happy Trails to You” the theme song to the old cowboy show Roy Rodgers.  Bob used to always sing it.  It made us cry even harder.

The casket is rolled in front of us, we walk out behind it, trying not to look at people, tears in our eyes, smiles on our faces, singing to the song.  We get to the back of the church where the hearse is and it’s pouring down rain.  I mean pouring!  The sun was out an hour ago, now it’s pouring rain.  We run to the cars, which, earlier, had been lined up according to relationships to my uncle.  Immediate family in limo, brother of deceased (my dad) car is next, then the in-laws then friends. 

One of my uncle’s sons, jumps in the car with my dad, his wife, my husband and myself.  My kids are with their cousins in other cars.  We are shocked at how bad it was raining.  It’s a downpour.  We get out of the car and there’s only so much room under the tent.  Some mourners have umbrella but most don’t.  My other cousin pulls out a tarp from his truck and has guys hold it up at the graveside, trying to save everyone from the torrential downpour. 

Uncle Bob was a veteran of WW2 and Korea.  There was 21 gun salute and taps.  It is amazing and always makes me cry.  My kids had never seen it.  The guns are firing, the bugle is playing, tears are streaming and the rain is pouring, I mean pouring. 

As the American flag is being folded, the rain starts to let up.  The final prayer is said.  The rain stops and the sun comes out.  People hug, flowers are laid on the casket and we walk to the car in silence.

When we get in the car, my uncle’s son says, “Crazy how the sun came out there at the end.”

I smiled through tears, and said, “It was God, saying, ‘Be sad and cry during the funeral but, just like the rain dried up, so must your tears. The sun is out and it’s a new, fresh start.’”

…weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. 

Psalm 30:5b

Previously Gaged Ears

I’m listening to an amazing preacher and he reminds me that Christ hung out with sinners and outcast because they needed ministering to.  He went on to say how easy it is for us to hang out with those “good” Christian’s but we must show Christ’s love to those we have a difficult time dealing with, or the unlovely.  It’s so true.  It’s easy to love a nice person, not so easy to love the person who spreads rumors about you or has stabbed you in the back for the hundredth time, or the dirty smelly homeless man who wants money to buy booze.

I decide I will take the challenge and try harder to show Christ to the unlovely, to those who are difficult to love.  Little did I know Jesus would quickly test me on this.

Not thirty minutes later I head to dinner and out to a restaurant.  I get in a long line at the restaurant waiting to order and I notice out of the three registers there are girls on the two outside registers and one boy on the middle register, a boy who had previously gaged ears. 

A small nose piercing doesn’t bother me, I may even go as far to say that I’ve seen an eyebrow ring on a guy that looked okay, belly button rings, why not, but gages, really?  And this boy didn’t even have gaged ears, his were previously gaged ears, his earlobes had huge holes in them where gages had been and they dangled and flapped, they were pretty gross.  I look and immediately think, yuck, how could someone do that to themselves, maybe one of the girls will take my order. 

It was my turn to order and guess who’s register is open.  Yes, the boys with the dangling ungaged ears.  I offer to have someone go ahead of me, you know, like in an “I’m not ready to order yet” kind of way but they say, no, you go ahead.  The words of the speaker went through my head, engage before judging, show Christ’s love to the unlovely.  At that moment, this boy was my unlovely.  I took a deep breath, say a small prayer and step up to give him my order. 

I swallowed my stupid, judgmental feelings and saw him through Christ’s eyes and started talking to him.  I mean, really talking to him.  He used to go to church but had fallen away.  I gave him a bracelet, told him he should find a church and get back in there, that there were a lot of good churches in the area that preached Jesus.  It was small conversation.  Not a sermon, no alter call, just a seed planted ready for God to water.

I walked away both excited and ashamed.  Ashamed that my first thought was yuck, previously gaged ears, yet excited that I quickly submitted to God’s will and allowed Him to use me to witness, in whatever small way, to someone. 

When I walked out of the restaurant, the boy yelled at me, “Thanks for the bracelet.” 

I smiled, “You’re welcome.”

Jesus said, “Thanks for planting the seed.”

 My grin deepened, “No problem, it was actually fun.”

Who is your unlovely?  Engage before judging.  Love the unlovely.  Show Christ to everyone.  Get out there and plant some seeds.

Don’t Forget the Shovel

Ever try to do the right thing but it turns out so very wrong.  Anytime this happens, after checking my intentions, I always go back to this word that God gave me a few years back.  Hope it encourages you!

June – 2002

As I anguish over what to write now, or even if to write, I am overcome with fear of leading anyone astray.  It is truly overwhelming.  After praying, typing, stopping, telling God to forget it, praying, typing again, I am now compelled to try and put what I happened into perspective.

Lydia, my five year old daughter, and one of my daycare kids, Margaret, were outside playing the other afternoon.  I was inside watching two other children while the two babies slept.  I glanced outside every once in a while and saw Lydia and Margaret playing, not paying much attention.

Margaret runs in with the biggest smile on her face.  She pats my shoulder, saying, “We cleaned up all the poop in the back yard!”

“You did!” I said excitedly.  Surprised but not shocked, you see we have two dogs and two pooper scoopers.  Cleaning up the poop is normal chore to be done when we play outside.  I exclaimed, “You two deserve something special.  How about a piece of candy?”

“No,” Margaret said. “We did it because we love you.”

My eyes filled with tears.  How sweet these two children would think to pick up poop for me.  Usually it’s the thrill of the day for them.  I get the scoop, they find the poop.  Yes, picture six children, standing at attention, pointing to their mound of poop yelling, “Dana, here’s some!”   I can never seem to move fast enough for them.

A couple days later, I’m bragging to daddy that Lydia and Margaret scooped pooped all by themselves, without me even asking.  Lydia’s chest fills with pride.  She’s excited about her wonderful, thoughtful idea of trying to help me.

Tom says, “What’d you use?”

I didn’t think to ask, there are two shovels.  Lydia proceeds to explain.  She says, “The hard ones we just picked up and threw over the fence.  The soft ones we scooped up with the snorkeling goggles we got out of the toy chest.”

Ugh.  Not only was I shocked but I could just picture dear sweet Margaret sitting at dinner one night and her parents ask, “What’d you do at Dana’s today?”

How wonderful their intentions were.  So many times our intentions start out right, we’re even thinking we’re doing what God asks us to only sometimes, we get so excited we forget to wait on God and we end up with poop on our hands. 

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.  Psalm 19:14

Dana

The Beetle

I walked to my car one morning I saw a beetle lying on his back, his poor little legs thrashing around in the air.  He was stuck and trying desperately to turn back over.  Now I’m not a bug person and with kids quickly bolting to the car, telling me to hurry since we were late, I quickly forgot about the beetle, got to the car and did the mom taxi thing then off to work. 

 The kids came home from school, I came home from work, walked out of the car, my arms filled with stuff, saw the beetle still struggling, his little legs still thrashing in the air, trying desperately to get turned over.

 I’m thinking, “I should help the beetle,” but after going inside, and kids start talking to me, it’s time to think about dinner, I once again, forget about the beetle.

 The weekend came and life got busier, stuff got moved around, forgot about beetle and then Monday came.  I was actually ready earlier then the kids and headed to the car and there was the beetle, still on his back, his little legs still thrashing around in the air trying desperately to get off his back.  This time, I gave him a little kick with my shoe.  He flopped on the right way up and crawled off.

 I passed that poor little beetle for four days, my kids passed that beetle for four days, my husband passed the beetle for four days.  None of us took the time to help him.

 I wonder how many people we pass that are like that little beetle and need someone to stop long enough to help.  Maybe we just need to ask, how are you, are you okay, or can I pray with you?  Or maybe you are that beetle and just need someone to give you that little bit of encouragement or help to get on our way

I’m reminded of the words of God in Isaiah when he heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? ” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Will you say that with me?  Will you say to God, “Here am I, send me?”  

 Let’s take the time out of our busy lives to see the people God puts in our path and then take the time to help them.