A Writer's Musings

 Blogging is a hobby I started when my kids were young, and sharing the happenings in our daily lives was a fun outlet for me. I didn't set out to teach anything to anyone. I wasn't trying to open the window to my perfect "neighborhood", as the name at the time implied (Mrs. Rogers' Neighborhood). I certainly wasn't trying to inspire anyone to decorate, cook, exercise, grow, or improve in any way, though I may have tossed those topics in now and then.  I was just simply sharing whatever was on my heart or on my mind. Whatever was happening outside my windows, in the lives of my young children as they grew, and sometimes I would share personal situations if I thought it might spark another person's story. Sometimes I was the one who needed the insight.

 My blog and writing have pulled me out of many dark days and times, whether anyone ever put their eyes on my words or not. In fact, I would make jokes on this blog that I was speaking to my one or two readers because my statistics were basically stagnant. Are you a writer if no one reads? Yes. I'm still writing whether or not anyone is reading, but that does need to change soon. I really do write to share!I remember being stopped many times on my way out of church by people who were entertained by or somehow supported by something I wrote. One young woman would always raise an eyebrow and say, "you always say what I'm thinking, but I'm afraid to say it!" Ah, yes, there were those types of posts too, where I just spoke my mind for fear it would somehow come out of my mouth or show on my face instead if I kept it to myself too long. I miss seeing the effect my writing had on people, and with the loss of church and many of those people from my life, it seems I am in search of a new audience, a new purpose, and it appears God is letting me know it is time to use my writing in a new way. 

Writing can be cathartic and it can be very truth-telling. Some people won't be able to handle your honesty, but one thing I've learned is that just like everything else, we have a choice whether or not we want to accept what we've heard, seen or read from another. Another person's truth can be uncomfortable if you have not yet accepted your own. Another person's depth can be foreign if you are not ready to share what is inside of you. Sometimes it's very difficult to understand concepts that just have not applied to you yet and so we gloss over them, judge them, or sometimes even misunderstand. But the beauty of hearing something that makes us uncomfortable, something that makes us confused, something that we don't quite relate to yet, is that we are opening ourselves to learning, and that is always a positive thing. It is never a good thing to shut something out because we simply don't relate or understand. We lose the opportunity to gain wisdom, and we lose an opportunity to connect with another person, and we fail to realize our sameness and our abilities to help each other as humans. 

 As blogs waned in popularity with the arrival of facebook and other modes of social media, my voice became less and less significant to those readers. Easy come, easy go, as my dad would remind me. My dad was my biggest fan, I should say, having been the one who would not only read my blog each week, but would print them out for my mom to read. He kept my blog address written among the many "www.coms" on his computer desk. It always gave me a smile that my dad took the time to read what I would write. I always felt that my blog was a way for others to get to know me, and a helpful conversation starter. My dad was getting to know a whole new me by entering my world of writing, and it felt pretty special. As most writers will understand, we write better than we talk, and some of us are sometimes on the quiet and contemplative side. We let our stories do our talking for us. So when people stop reading, it's like they stop wanting to know who we are, in a way. Writers can be a sensitive type, you might say, and if you have a writer in your life, consider yourself blessed. A sensitive person with a thoughtful mind is a gift.  A writer will often reach out to you in words rather than in speech, and when they do, they will say everything they've always wanted to say to you, whether that's in a few words or a hundred depends on how well they think you will receive it. Believe me, they will have thought about it more than you could imagine. 

Some of you reading this may already be blessed to know my friend Norm Sawyer, whose 6th (correct me if I'm wrong. Is it 7 already? 8? 9? 10? He just keeps going!) book was just published, and I was honored and privileged to have been a part of that wonderful work! I have gone from being quoted in one of Norm's books, to being asked to write a foreword for another, and then being asked to include two of my blog posts in his latest book, Coming Out of the Swamp. (check out Amazon for your own copy of this and Norm's other books. Info will be provided below) Now what comes next? Norm has let me know it's up to me, but he is encouraging me to write my own book, as others have throughout the years.  Though my father has been gone for 3 years, I know he would be behind this 100%! 

With God's help, and a ready pen, I will see what the future has in store for my writing. I will pray for direction and follow where He leads. As with everything else in my life so far, it's not always where I think it's going! I do know I have a voice that is better heard through writing and I do have things to share that I believe will help others along in whatever journey they may be facing in life. 

All of Norm Sawyer's books can be purchased at www.amazon.com  or through his blog at www.sirnorm1.blogspot.com . Be ready for some amazing, life-changing reading! 

Thank you for reading! Be blessed! 

A Friend Named Grace

 I have learned a lot of things throughout this pandemic, and one of them is that I thrive on what I have come to call "aloneship". I believe God has prepared me for this time of quiet and solitude (which are not the same thing) by showing me little by little that people will not always be by your side, stay by your side, or even want to be by your side.  Sometimes God shows us this so that we can remember that He is to be first in our lives, and that He is always by our sides. While it is okay to be alone, we still need others.

For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. Romans 14:7

This is by no means a "calling out" of anyone or a shaming of behavior, but simply an observation of the past few years of relationships and things I have learned about them and about myself. People are unpredictable. God is not. I am wavering in emotions. God is not. People won't always be there for you. God always will. But we could all use a little friend named "Grace". 

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

I think about the people who used to say to me, "you're so important to me", "you're such a blessing to me", "I love your kids like they're my own", "you're such an inspiration to me", and so many phrases which would make me believe I meant something to them, and I look around me today, and these same people are 1. gone from my life 2. unfriended me on Facebook 3. given me a cool reception when I've reached out to them 4. have completely changed their way of interacting with me like a Jeckyll and Hyde. Okay, that kinda hurts, I'm not gonna lie. 

Now, you're asking yourself, "what kind of terrible person is Jami Rogers??" Well, I went through my own self-destructive time of self-blame and attack as well, and I found it very unproductive and useless, as I learned sometimes people are just going through their own issues and they have nothing to do with me. I didn't have to DO anything for those things to happen and it was quite hurtful to put myself through the paces of trying to "figure out" what others are thinking. Does this mean I don't take any responsibility? Of course not, but if I have done anything I am unaware of, I certainly can't fix it if someone isn't bringing it to my attention. Last time I looked in the mirror, I didn't see a scary monster, so I think I'm pretty approachable. I haven't always taken very easily to criticism, but I'd like to say I've grown. As I've always said, people who care ask questions. I've been pretty busy with my chronic illness, my kids, my extended family, and life in general. I don't have time or interest in hurting feelings or people. 

Well, here are my own questions: can you be accepting of a friend who can't always show up at exactly the time you need them? Because that could be me. Can you still love a friend who may cancel at the last minute? That could also be me. Can you be friends with someone who doesn't always agree with you but will tell the truth with respect? Because that is also me. Can you have a friend who will not talk politics with you because she feels there are far more important life subjects to discuss and things to learn about each other than fleeting subjects such as government officials? Because that is SO me.  Can you accept that I may not be like you? If you can't accept me, then I guess it's okay that you walked away when you did. Life is too hard to have people around who don't extend understanding or grace as I hopefully have done for you. If I was the one who made you feel this way, I would be open to hearing from you so we can resolve it. 

Something I have always told my daughters is that they will most likely never have a bunch of friends and to never take it as a personal defect. A true friend who stands with you is actually a pretty rare thing! God has a way of removing people from our lives that He feels are not good for us to be around for whatever reason He sees fit. It doesn't mean someone is better than another. It just means we are being moved or they are being moved and as hard as it is to accept sometimes, it will happen over our entire lifetime. It never gets easier, especially if you have a big ole soft heart! That's okay. Caring about people is a good thing and wanting relationships to last and be positive is normal. But staying where you aren't respected or valued is not healthy, whether it's a friendship or other type of relationship. It's important to remember also, that sometimes our soft hearts can be sadly mistaken. Sometimes people are just really busy with their own lives in some way and their leaving has nothing to do with us. Sometimes we are the one who drifts away and we don't mean any harm. Life has a way of looking a certain way when really it wasn't that way at all. Grace is so valuable in these situations. 

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9

The best intentions and the best behavior will not change what God has planned for us in our relationships. We can desperately want a friendship to work or for that person to act in a way that best serves our own agenda, but if God doesn't approve, well, then we need to let it be. We may never get the explanation, the apology, the conclusion, or the closure that we think we need or deserve in order to move on, but when someone is clearly giving us cues that we are not welcome anymore, we need to leave with dignity. 

The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still. Exodus 14:14 

I would often pray that God would make things right with the people who didn't treat me well for whatever reason. That he would work in my favor and they will one day figure it out, but my even bigger request was that I truly wouldn't care if they ever did. That God would give me the assurance that even if the whole world were to turn against me, I would still trust God for peace. And sometimes God just needs to bring to our minds that grace is the gift we need to give ourselves. To be able to allow others to feel the way they feel, regardless if we think they are "right" or "wrong" about us. To allow others to move on from us whether we want them to or not, and to extend that acceptance and understanding that not all relationships are meant to last forever. Some things just need to hurt and we need to give that hurt to God and let Him heal our hearts. People are just going to do what they are going to do and there isn't a whole lot we can do to change that sometimes. And that's okay. We can still be okay. 

I don't believe that any of these people who have "left" my life were "bad" people. I have no idea why some of them didn't choose to stay on the path with me. But I've stopped blaming them and myself and I hope that if you've seen yourself in this type of situation that you'll stop blaming too. We haven't all learned to love, socialize, and make friends in the same way. People have very different perceptions of events, words, situations, and even you! There are just some things we can't control. Some of us learned some unhealthy habits, some of us have unlearned those and the people who left have no idea that we are now healed and vice versa. Some of us are loners and that's okay to function with just a couple of friends. Some of us have a lot of friends that we aren't very close to and that works too. God wants us to love people and not hurt them and do our best to apologize and make up for the hurts we cause others.  We can pray for them and we can let them go. Our hearts will make room for others. Relationships are important to God because that's one of the best ways we show His character to others. How we act when we are disappointed is just as important as how we act when we are pleased. 

How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1 

What is the character you want to show of yourself? A person who holds on to anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, old wounds, or other unhealthy soul-sucking devices? It's time to free yourself of self-blame, blaming others, self-destruction, or whatever it is that has been dragging you down. Ask God to take this baggage from you. Heal these broken places in you, take these broken relationships, ask God if there is anything He wants you to do to heal them, and do as He asks. Free yourself of the constant questioning, doubting, and peace-stealing actions and open yourself to who God wants you to be and who He has in store for you. Trust Him for the people in your life for you to bless and to bless you and pray for those He has yet to bring into your life. I am grateful that though I have made many mistakes in the past with people that God sees my potential and my heart and continues to bring me wonderful people to love. That is the grace we can all depend on. Let's be that graceful person. 

Blessings to you! 

For What it’s Worth

 Life is short. It’s too short to be worried about what people think. Yet I find myself a bit annoyed anyway at the irony of things sometimes. I spent the last four years patiently and quietly enduring the rants and savage posts of people on various social media platforms. They went on and on about how much they hated this and that about this particular person or particular political party. They posted videos about several subjects, rarely fact-checked, in efforts to expose those they were trying to discredit. I ignored it to the best of my ability. After all, everyone has the right to say and do whatever they want and I have the right to continue scrolling. They were warmly welcomed by me into my home, invited to my parties, treated kindly by me and my family. I still considered them my friends. 

But something I don’t do on social media is share my opinions openly about politics or other hot point issues. And the reason I choose not to do this is because it most likely isn’t going to change your mind, and it’s usually just an outlet for me to vent or an invitation for others to argue. I go back to this every time- is it helpful? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Is it thoughtful? Is it for the Kingdom? Is it serving anyone at all except for me to say it?  I truly believe we as people have more important things to learn about one another than who we support or don’t support in politics. But that’s just me. 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Philippians 4:8

I guess what has disappointed me the most is the fact that when I finally have shared my thoughts, feelings, and opinions out in the open by way of this blog or through word of mouth, I’m not received as warmly as I received them. I’m not accepted. Suddenly my blog is not worth reading. I’m not as sweet and kind. People will only love you as long as they THINK you agree with them. But what they didn’t understand was that I was simply agreeing to disagree and accepting our differences. They were assuming my silence was agreement. As my wise mentor pointed out, “they weren’t your friends. They were your critics”. 

 As my oldest daughter says in her silly way, “oh, how the turns have tabled!” And yes, they sure have. I will no longer be silent about who I am. If this pandemic has taught me anything, if my parents have taught me anything, it has been to remain true to myself. If I don’t care for the job our president is doing, it is okay for me to say so! If I don’t like the quackery videos people are sending me, they will be getting something I believe in in return! Just as I have not been rude or withheld friendship from them, I expected the same in return. I am surprised and saddened at what I’ve seen. 

People are going after people and getting riled up over all the wrong things. These are not the people I once knew, that’s all I can say. I pray and hope God breathes life back into all of our hearts and souls and gives us all the grace we desperately need. None of this is worth losing the love of people over. Not a politician. Not a virus debate.  Not an election. Nothing. 

God save us all. 

Adjust Your Vision

Twenty/twenty vision is something I always admired in my spectacles-free friends. I’ve had to wear corrective lenses of some kind since I was very young, and I was always envious of their freedom to swim, cartwheel, and wake up at sleepovers without a pair of glasses to constantly guard. To be able to see unhindered was just a mystery to me, and it must have been glorious. Those were my 12 year old thoughts. 

As I think of the term “2020” now, and linking it to “perfect vision”, it’s certainly ironic. This year has been clouded and muddied with not just a deadly virus, but with arguments and constant insults surrounding it. I myself have been the target of such insults, cold shoulders, and judgments for simply defending others or standing up for myself. We can’t be fighting each other! Name calling, finger-pointing, gossip-spreading, and then also say we spread the grace and light of God. We know better. We know how Satan works! Don’t help him! 

Whether you agree with the leadership or you don’t, agree with their choices or not, prefer to follow instructions or not, one thing is absolutely clear. We are not in charge. Not one of us. Regardless of whether or not you think you are right. Someone else is holding the vision. Someone else has the spectacles perched perfectly. Someone else has the light on and has made the picture clear. Someone who is not political, the only One allowed to make judgments, and the only One who knows the outcome and the purpose for all of this. 
So we can continue fighting with our friends, or now former friends, as some may call them, because that’s what it has sadly come to, or we can trust that God has the answer and we don’t. We can choose to put our trust and our vision in God and ask the Holy Spirit to lead our thoughts, words, deeds, and bodies. At this point, the humans are proving we aren’t doing so hot on our own. Imagine the picture God sees when he checks us out. Every one of us can do better.
My friend, Norm says in his book, Secrets Have Weight, “Remember who you are! Darkness may bleed, but you are the light of the world.” “We are the Lord’s hand extended in this dark world. Grace must be the balm anointing our hands as we reach out in the love of God. We are to hand out the bread of life to those who are hungry for righteousness and offer the salt that causes a thirst for the love of God”. 

You are the light of the world-like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14

Let’s adjust our vision to God’s vision and start looking at things His way.