Disinfectants, Debates, and Deplorables – Part 1 of 2

You may want to view the video prelude to this post which explains some new developments in the disinfectant debacle.

In Facebook discussions this week regarding President Trump’s April 23rd White House briefing and his comment/question* on injection of disinfectants as a possible way to deal with COVID-19, I found myself thinking time and again about a bit of wisdom from my high school debate teacher. She taught that a good debater can argue both sides of an issue.

* Which was it? A comment or a question? That’s actually one of the things that was up for debate. There is a vast difference between saying we should inject disinfectants into the human body to fight COVID-19 and asking someone if that’s something that could be studied. President Trump asked the question.

Why is that? Well, if you want to win people over to your viewpoint, you need to understand their arguments, anticipate their questions and rebuttals, and speak to those things. You do not win a debate by merely saying, “Here’s what I believe. I’m right and you’re an idiot if you don’t agree with me.” And you don’t even win by simply proclaiming the talking points that resonate with you. You have to understand what’s in the hearts and minds of those you’re communicating with to know which of your arguments might be most effective with them.

If ever we needed to be competent at debate it is now when most of our discussions regarding politics, health, and safety are online, in written form. In this medium, we don’t have the benefit of “reading” someone’s demeanor or having them read ours (for example, to know when we’re being sarcastic or saying something in a more questioning manner). There is also the strange phenomenon where we feel more liberty to be meanspirited when we are not having to deal with someone face to face. Add to that the general level of stress in our society right now and you have a situation that is ripe for misunderstanding, anger and intolerance.

Most people who have been involved in formal debate and been assigned to argue for a position that is actually opposite of their own would attest to the fact that there are benefits to the process. Even if you do not change your overall opinion on the matter from that type of debate preparation, you do come to realize the other side has some valid arguments that need to be considered.

At a time when we could all use some stress relief, while also addressing some truly important matters we are facing, I hope this series of blog posts will foster more productive and less angry conversations.

In Part 2 of “Disinfectants, Debates, and Deplorables,” I will share more specifics about the Facebook conversation that sparked me to write this post. I will provide examples of smart moves by some involved in the debate that helped me to change my mind on some things, as well as tactics from both sides which were detrimental to their cause.

From “Saddest Easter Ever” to “Can’t Get Enough of this Hope-Filled Song”

I woke up this morning thinking, This is the saddest Easter I’ve ever experienced. On top of not being able to see my kids and grandkids or gather with church family for worship, I guess I was still reeling a bit from the fact that within a very short timespan yesterday I learned two people I know died from COVID-19. One was a former pastor and one was a classmate from high school.

Adding to my gloom was 1) this is my first Easter without my dad who passed away in January and 2) my mom has been in the hospital since March 27th and we have not been allowed to visit her.

Thankfully, someone shared a song on Facebook that helped me turn the corner in my thinking.

Side Note: Please share your good thoughts and the things that are keeping you encouraged on social media. Yes, we need to be educated on what’s going on in this crazy world. And there are many things out there right now that make you go, “Hmmm …” But mixed in with all your political angst and conspiracy conjectures, please sprinkle in some positive. We all need it.

The song was “Easter Song” and it helped me go from my initial thought this morning – this is the saddest Easter ever – to feeling encouraged and joyful. I listened to three different versions of it and could not decide which one I loved most. So, I’m going to share all three here. I’d love to hear in the comments which is your favorite rendition and why.

Version #1 is performed by Second Chapter of Acts. Makes sense to start with this one as Annie Herring from the group wrote the song. This group has been a favorite of mine for many years. The group members are siblings and family harmony is hard to beat.

Version #2 is the brother from 2nd Chapter of Acts, Matthew Ward, doing it solo and many years later. I absolutely love this man’s voice!

Version #3 is a live version by Keith Green. The impact of Keith’s music and life was foundational to me and many others I’m sure. He died in a plane crash in 1982 before the age of 30 but the passion he put into his music and ministry has given him a lasting legacy. Listening to him and his message during this live version brought me to tears, but also made me rejoice to know he did not live or die in vain. I’m comforted to know he gained the full realization that Christ is indeed our living hope. I look forward to the day I will rejoice in heaven with him and so many others who have gone before.

I hope you enjoyed the music and that it helped you focus on the true hope of Easter as it did me. Again, I’d love to know which version you prefer and why. God bless!

One Hour to Live and a Good Friday Thought

At a church service several weeks ago, before we could no longer meet together due to COVID-19, we were challenged to think about what we would do if we only had a certain amount of time to live.

Side note: Don’t worry, this was not some morbid scare tactic taking advantage of our coronavirus worries. It was actually just before the virus was really on anyone’s radar to be worried about, at least no more of a concern than any other bug during flu season.

At one point in the sermon, we were instructed to open envelopes which had been provided to each of us as we had entered the sanctuary that morning. Inside each envelope was a card announcing the hypothetical amount of time each of us had remaining on this earth.

My card said, “1 Hour.” I wondered immediately what the minister would do if I jumped up and screamed “I’ve got to go see my grand babies!” as I ran out the door. I refrained.

After that initial thought, one thing that came to mind was that I would want to write one more blog post. That might seem like a strange thing to consider, but I was thinking in terms of legacy and I would not want the last blog post I wrote to be memorialized as my last publicly proclaimed thoughts about God and life.

That post was written over two years ago when I was in a real funk. And honestly, the fact that I have not written here since is indicative of the fact that I’m still not quite out of it. But as I was considering what I would say if I did write “one last blog post” (and only had one hour to live – so obviously wouldn’t want to spend the whole time writing), I thought, all I really need is one quick sentence to speak resolution to that last post. All I really need to say in response to the thought that I was “Hoping God Proves Me Wrong” is …

GOD DOESN’T NEED TO PROVE ANYTHING MORE TO ME!

God proved everything He needed to prove on the very day we memorialize today as Good Friday – the day Jesus gave His own life so that I might have eternal life.

It’s interesting that even after all that deep pondering, it still has taken me weeks to muster up the mental energy to get back to writing. I’m thankful to my friend Aric Marshall who shared his music video on Facebook. Listening to his beautiful saxophone rendition of “Were You There” brought me to the place I needed to be – the place where I’m focused on my Savior and what He has done for me.

I’m going to try to embed the video below and hope it works. If not, I’ll try to fix it later. But for now, I’m going to skip my normal tendency to edit and re-edit and just get this thought out there. Because, you know, this might be my last hour to live and I have other things to do. I mean, “I’ve got to go see my grand babies!!!” (through video chat, of course).

Hoping God Proves Me Wrong

So far, my annual writing retreat has been a reflection retreat. I’ve been in quite the writing slump for quite some time. It’s even been hard for me to journal (that alone is usually a sign I’m not in a good place). The past six years have been filled with losses for me. I have been grieving the loss of my sister. My father suffered a stroke which has taken much of him away from me. And in between those two life altering events I have also had several dreams shattered. Things I had invested my time and my heart in were snatched away, one after the other.

As someone who has held Ephesians 3:20-21 as a life theme, this has been hard to process. That verse says, “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” I’ve always followed that with, “And I can imagine BIG things!”

Well, I always followed with that . . . until now. More recently, I actually told someone I am now afraid to dream big or follow my passions because it just leads to disappointment. 

Thankfully, the friends I do this writing retreat with are what one of them calls “safe haven friends.” On the first night of this retreat, when we usually list our goals for the week, I shared my struggles and confessed that I had no specific writing goals – or at least none that I’m motivated to work on. They listened, asked probing questions (the good kind that showed they cared and wanted to understand), and they agreed to be in prayer for me.

Last night, one friend asked if I had heard of Mandisa’s new album Out of the Dark. She explained that the songs were written after Mandisa had dealt with the loss of a friend to cancer – a friend for whom she had been praying and believed God would heal.

I was intrigued, so I listened to a few podcasts where Mandisa talks about it. When Mandisa said, “That was just not the way I thought the story was going to end” I knew I had to buy the album. The song “Prove Me Wrong” resonated so strongly with me, but I’m still processing the how, and why, and where it leads. I can’t imagine I won’t do a follow-up post (because I do still believe God will ultimately prove me wrong), but for now I’m just going to share a portion of the lyrics and the video.

 

Would it be wrong if I asked you for proof?
I wish that I could just believe, without questioning
I’m just being honest with you
And they say your ways are better
But I still don’t understand
And you can’t hold me together
And this can’t be your perfect plan
Prove me wrong
Prove me wrong
All this pain
This sorrow in my heart
I can’t find my way out of the dark
Prove me wrong

 

A Hospital Maze, a Labyrinth and a Path for My Father

I woke up thinking, Who in the world would be knocking on my door at 3:00 am? I was alone, so I didn’t want to answer, but the knocking was persistent. If it’s a family emergency, they surely would have tried to call first, I reasoned as I grabbed my phone. Alarmed to see a multitude of messages and texts from my brothers and my mom, I hurried to the door without even checking what the messages said. I let my brothers Steve and Shawn in. They said they were heading down to Tennessee because our dad had another stroke. I was relieved to know it was not worse news.

When we got to the hospital and Mom led us through the hallways to Dad’s room, she kept saying how confusing the hospital layout was. I figured her brain was just as tired and frazzled as her appearance. But as the hours wore on and we attempted to navigate our way to various rooms and facilities, all three of us “kids” laughed in agreement with her – this place was like a maze.

At one point, we went outside for some fresh air and discovered the hospital had a labyrinth prayer and meditation garden.

angel

The labyrinth at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital (Jackson, TN)

Unlike a maze with its dead ends and turn-arounds, a labyrinth is one single path that leads you to the center and then back out. The goal of a labyrinth walk is as follows:

  1. Use the walk on the way into the center to clear your thoughts and release your burdens.
  2. Once you get to the center, you’re in a better frame of mind to pray and/or receive what you need from God.
  3. After spending time in the center, you walk the path out, reviewing and meditating on what you have received.

I returned to the labyrinth that night. I knew it would be hard to lay aside the concerns I had for my dad, but I took a deep breath and began my walk. One way to clear your mind for the process is to repeat a word or phrase as you walk; I had none for the moment. But just a few steps in, I found myself humming the words to an old Kathy Troccoli song: My life is in your hands, my heart is in your keeping. I had my mantra.

I started repeating that first line to the beat of my steps. Soon, I was adding and adjusting words.

My life is in your hands, my life is in your hands, my life is in your hands,

yes, my life is in your hands

My father’s life is in your hands, yes, My father’s life is in your hands,

yes, my father’s life is in your hands

Yes, my father’s life is in the hands of my Father, yes

My father’s life is in the hands of my loving Father,

Yes, my loving father’s life is in the hands of my loving Father

By the time I reached the center, my only prayer was one of thankfulness.

There will be many more prayers to come as we learn the extent of the damage this stroke has caused and watch my dad work through its effects. But the one prayer that serves as a banner over all the rest has been answered. In fact, it was answered long ago, when my loving father placed his life in the hands of our loving Father.

To see more posts about my labyrinth walks, click here.

When Voting Your Conscience Is Unnerving, God Is in Control

I voted my conscience today and am trusting God to handle all the side issues and fallout of this election. And though, yes, I trust Him to do what’s best that’s actually a very unnerving thought in this case. Here’s why:

  1. Sometimes God gives us what we want. Israel wanted a king even though His plan was for them to live by a different system than the nations around them. He gave them Saul. Internal war and strife ensued. 1 Samuel 8
  2. Sometimes God uses evil rulers to get his people back to where He wants them to be – even if this means a time of chaos and captivity in the meantime. (See Ezra 5:12 and the story of King Nebuchadnezzar.)

I have thought for many months, “We may just get what we deserve” in regards to this election. And though all this is indeed frightening, my hope and trust is still in the Lord because …

  1. even when He gives us what we want (or what we deserve) when we go against His will, God is always working for the ultimate good of His people.
  2. even heathen rulers ultimately answer to God and can be used to accomplish His purposes. (See Daniel 4 for the rest of Nebuchadnezzar’s story.)

The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 16:9 (NASB)

#PitchWars, #PimpMyBio and (Too) Much #Pondering

So, I wasn’t going to do the #PimpMyBio for #PitchWars, but after a night of writing (and wasting time playing games) I’m just slap-happy enough to give it a shot. I’m mainly doing it to help spread the word about Pitch Wars.  As described by Brenda Drake, who started the contest five years ago (Thank you, Brenda!), …

“Pitch Wars is a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to shine it up for agents. The mentors also critique the writer’s pitch to get it ready for the agent round.”

Yeah, it’s a little late, but if you have a completed manuscript you could still enter by 10 pm (EST) tonight.

At any rate, as an unofficial part of the contest, Lana Pattinson started the #PimpMyBio Blog Hop for participants. This is just one example of how the contest is not only a great opportunity for aspiring authors, it’s also a community building experience.

The point of the Bio Blog Hop is for those of us involved to get to know one another, so without any further ado (yeah, I just used a cliche) … Here are a few things about me:

  1. I don’t generally fit into a mold easily. That’s one reason I didn’t want to do the bio pimping. My thought processes went something like this …
  2. But, I also don’t like to be a party pooper. There are enough naysayers in this world. So, I’m trying to get on board with this. However, …
  3. I’ve always been a firm believer in valuing the uniqueness of the individual. And, more recently, I’ve realized that includes valuing my own uniqueness. So, I’ll come to the party, but I might not wear the proper attire.
  4. I’m sensitive to the feelings of others. That, ultimately, was one of my main hang-ups with “pimping” my bio. My daughter has been involved with #pimpinjoy for several years now. She once hosted an event and I asked a friend to join. She said she liked the idea, but had real trouble using the term “pimp” in a positive way given her history of abuse. We talked about the evolution of language and the pros and cons of the pimpinjoy movement. I did participate in my daughter’s event, but it was less public than this. So, I pondered … and pondered … and, well, …
  5. I ponder a lot. And I like to do such pondering both in solitude and in community because, …
  6. I think dialogue is the key to better relationships and to working toward a cure for the issues that plaque our society.

Well, there it is. I thought my #PimpMyBio party dress was going to be much more fun and whimsical than it turned out to be. I’ve always said I’m a mood dresser. I used to have one blouse I called my “I don’t give a crap blouse.” I warned my office assistants if they saw me wearing that blouse on any given day I might not be very attentive to the “squeaky wheels” that might stop by to complain. Maybe I should put that blouse on now because, on the one hand, I’m tempted to try to give a name to my #PimpMyBio party dress. On the other hand … well, the said blouse would fit because my creative juices have run dry for the time being. But, if you have any suggestions, let me know.

How I Beat Writer’s Block – This Time

As you can tell from the lack of posts here recently, I’ve been in a writing funk. It’s affected not only my blogging, but also my journaling. Worst of all, it was hindering me from getting out a proposal for my book.

In the past, painting has helped me get back in writing mode, but it wasn’t working this time. I tried other things that have worked before. I did some reading, went to a few of my favorite outdoor writing spots, and even watched movies I thought might inspire me. All that to no avail. So, there I stayed – for weeks – stuck.

Then, an interesting thing happened. I was scheduled to make a presentation to some college students on boundaries. I love public speaking. And I especially enjoy presenting on boundaries because it’s such an important topic. As I was driving home from the presentation, I was invigorated. I thought, “Yeah, that’s my sweet spot.”

I didn’t do the presentation to spark my writing. I did it because I had it on my schedule. But when I got home, I immediately started working on a post for LinkedIn. I had been thinking of doing the post for a few days, but … well, I had writer’s block. After completing the post, I went on to another writing project and have been back in the zone since. I even got the book proposal done and sent out!

My take-away from this experience? When you find yourself unable to write, do something else you love to do. Something that refreshes you. Something that builds your confidence because you know you do it well, even if it’s seemingly unrelated to writing.

Looking back now, I realize I had been feeling defeated because several things in my life had not gone as planned. By doing something that made me feel accomplished I regained my “I can do this” attitude.

Big Things Often Start with Small Change

small change by Lisa Womble

My daughter is getting married in November, so our family has started a weight loss challenge to prepare for that day of constant picture taking. The six of us have lost a total of 71.8 pounds in the two months we’ve been at it. I lost ten pounds in February. That was a tremendous start for me. I’m not sure if I’ve ever lost more than five or six pounds in that amount of time before.

Unfortunately, after that record-breaking start, I only lost one pound this month. After reflecting on why that might be, I’ve come to the conclusion that it comes down to three changes I made in the first month, but didn’t continue in March. Three small changes: not drinking soda, having a tablespoon of coconut oil each day, and keeping track of what I was eating on myfitnesspal.com. So, I’ll go back to those three small changes for the month of April and test my theory.

All that got me to thinking about a post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time on how small change(s) add up to big results. So, after a long hiatus while I finished my book, I thought I was finally inspired to get back to blogging. But after inserting the graphic into the draft, I was suddenly … uninspired … again.

I’ve been finished with the book for almost a month, but just haven’t been able to get back to writing of any kind. I know a break is good every now and then, but I also know my all-or-nothing approach to things means I could easily slip into a pattern of not writing for way longer than I should. And since I’ve set a goal to make writing my career focus, that simply won’t do.

So, I decided this less than perfect blog post would be my one small change. I may write that other, more profound 😉 , article later. But for now, this one small step will have to do. After all, if I can’t take my own advice, why would I expect others to?