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The Writing on The Wall

19 Aug

Although much of graffiti is tasteless and nasty, there are some clean, clever graffiti scrawls:

  • On a Beware of the Dog sign … the words were added, “He is very sarcastic.”
  • On a sign for a McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger, the word “Cheeseburger” is covered over by the word “Bypass.”
  • On a blank billboard, freshly painted for a new sign, someone wrote the words, “The joy of not being sold anything.”
  • And my favorite … on a sign for a graffiti removal service hotline, someone drew a stick-figure man with a bucket of blue paint and paintbrush … and the little man painted over the ad’s phone number!

Last week, I wrote about facing death and dying… but hopefully, we’ll have some time before we have to deal with that. This post is about dealing with the now.

In a twist on graffiti, for two months in April the citizens in New Orleans were invited to write their “bucket list”-type thoughts on walls at two locations on the opposite sides of the city. The walls ~ painted in chalkboard black over a formerly graffiti-marked structure ~ had an attached receptacle filled with chalk, and passersby were encouraged to fill in the blank after the words, “Before I die I want to …”

New Orleans artist Candy Chang first created the “Before I die” project in 2011 on the side of an abandoned house. Much of the neighborhood was still a wreck after Hurricane Katrina. She felt the project would help ease the city’s pain and give a voice to the community. “The wall,” Chang said, “becomes an enlightened way to get to know your neighbors and discover what matters most to the people around you.” It became a cross-section of citizens’ thoughts and dreams.

The Savannah project team said there was only one requirement. The scrawlings must “Be profound, Not profane.” Many expressions do include the profound: Before I die I want to … “discover who I am” … “love someone” …  “make a difference” … “save a life” … “make the world a better place” … “be someone’s cavalry” … “abandon all insecurities.”

But others are more lighthearted or reflect personal goals:  Before I die I want to … “swim without holding my nose” … “complete my PhD” …  “be published” … “live with the Amish” … “learn French” … “own a monkey” … “sing for millions” … “straddle the International Date Line.”

Some writers tagged off of others’ comments. One that made me laugh was this chalkboard post:  Before I die I want to “marry someone else who wrote on this wall.” Off to the side, in bright pink chalk were the words, “Me, too!”

Another scribe wrote, Before I die I want to “understand.” Below it, a writer said, Before I die I want to “be OK with NOT understanding.”

Wall spin-offs have shown up throughout the US, Mexico, Canada, Portugal, Holland, England, South Africa, and even in Kazakhstan. A wall in Lebanon changed the concept up a bit, asking people to fill in this blank: Lebanon would be better if ….

We might consider that, too:  America would be better if …. Then we can consider whether there’s something we can do to make it better instead of depending so much on the government!

[I know this is off-topic, but I couldn’t help thinking of some writing on a wall (words of judgment) that changed the course of an entire nation (Daniel 5:1-31). I wondered what God might write on a wall concerning America … or our churches. But most of all, I wondered what He might write on a wall concerning my own life.]

But back to those chalkboard walls … how would I finish that sentence: Before I die I want to…” The Bible says, “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18) ~ and this is talking about a revelation from God, a word from the Lord.  I want my answers to reflect God’s truth and biblical wisdom for myself, my family, my church, and my nation.

So many people have bucket lists today. Some bucket lists have huge, grandiose dreams like visiting the Great Wall of China or standing atop the Eiffel Tower or having lunch with a favorite sports hero. A friend of mine, Laura, has simple, attainable items on her bucket list (like having lunch with a certain couple at church) … and that’s a good way to go, because the more accumulated goals we reach, the more potential for celebration we achieve!

Come up with sports you want to try or something in nature you want to do or see; a language you want to learn or subject you want to master; an instrument you want to learn or something challenging to try related to music; an animal you want to adopt; a book you want to read; a monument or museum you want to visit; a hobby you want to learn;  a mission you want to accomplish; a project you want to fund … the possibilities are endless! You are still alive and life is an adventure ~ fill your bucket list and see how many you can accomplish!

How about you? What would you write on that chalkboard wall? Is there anything you can do ~ choices you can make ~ to get closer to achieving that goal?

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Forgetting and Remembering

2 Apr

Pregnant_PantingInLaborAmnesia ~ A condition that enables a woman who has gone through labor to make love again.

Impregnable ~ A woman whose memory of labor is still vivid! *

Obviously, our memories can play a significant role in our future choices and activities!

Some things are good to remember; others, you’d like to forget. For example:

  • Remember what went before, because “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it,” says the philosopher.
  • “We need to remember history so we don’t repeat its errors,” says the historian.
  • Remember your Creator,” says the preacher.
  • “It’s good to remember the times you felt close to God,” says the revivalist.

And …

  • “Forgive and forget,” says the psychologist.
  • Forget your troubles and relax,” says the cruise director.
  • Forget about the concept of the perfect mate,” says the relationship specialist.
  • Forget your regrets and risk more,” says the motivational speaker.

We don’t usually have a choice about what we remember, do we? But we can choose how we respond to what we remember. And while we may want to forget something, it just may not be possible. Sometimes we just can’t erase the memories. We can, however, add new meaning to an experience, or give it fresh purpose.

A wonderful book to help people deal with hurtful memories is Putting Your Past in Its Place by Stephen Viars (Harvest House, 2011). ** [I mentioned this book a few days ago in the post, “Don’t Look Back.”]

Viars  explains how to categorize painful past events. The four categories are: (1) You were innocent in an event or circumstance (where you were hurt, abused, misunderstood, etc.), and you responded well; (2) You were innocent, but you responded poorly; (3) You were guilty in some way, but you responded well; or (4) You were guilty, but you responded poorly. The author then explains how to deal biblically with issues from the past, once they are properly categorized.

Some people are so afraid of making a mistake that others might remember that Continue reading

Don’t Look Back!

25 Mar

The Sunday School teacher was describing how Lot’s Wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt Lot's Wife_Mt.Sodom(Genesis 19:17, 26), when little Jason interrupted …

“My Mommy looked back once while she was driving,” he announced triumphantly, “and she turned into a telephone pole!” ~ Daniell Webb Barton (on Facebook)

The picture shown here is at Mt. Sodom, a hill along the southwest area of the Dead Sea in Israel. People in Israel like to say that this rock formation  is Lot’s wife. The whole rocky ridge is made up almost entirely of halite (rock salt) and with weathering, portions become separated, like this pillar. I (Dawn) saw this area when my husband and I visited Israel right after Christmas, and the story of Lot and his family came alive.

The account of Lot’s Wife still gives me chills, reminding me of the perils of disobedience to God. And Jesus told us to remember her (Luke 17:32), so there’s an important lesson to consider.

The context of this verse is that Jesus warned that day will come when people will continue in their everyday activities, but suddenly, the Son of Man (Jesus) will return. We are to be ready for His return, and not “looking back” ~ longing for things we’ll leave behind. We are to identify with Christ and excited about His kingdom.

In practical terms for today, when God tells you to move forward, it’s never a good idea to stop and look back (unless you want to learn from some past mistakes).

Looking back can have some positive results, if we know how to do it. I’m reading a helpful book by Stephen Viars called Putting Your Past in Its Place: Moving Forward in Freedom and Forgiveness.* The author encourages those who are still troubled by unfinished business from their past to deal with it biblically, moving toward healing and hope.

Viars’ approach is balanced. He illustrates that it’s not true that our past is “nothing,” because there are many examples in the Bible of men and women “whose past choices dramatically affected their present behavior.” But on the other hand, we can’t say that the past is “everything,” because the Bible never encourages us to view ourselves as “hopeless victims whose choices today are outside our ability to understand or change.” If you’re struggling with your past, I recommend Viars’ book.

That kind of “looking back” is good. But the Bible talks about another kind Continue reading

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