Qualities vs. Symptoms

July 14, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think I have some very unique and useful character qualities. Granted, most better psychoanalysts might not refer to them as “character qualities” as much as they refer to them as “symptoms,” but still.

I think writers acquire an exclusive symptom or two…make that a “quality” or two…that others don’t necessarily encounter. Maybe it’s the inordinate amount of rejection we’re called to deal with, but insecurity is so often the order of the day. Not to mention that when fiction writers hear new little voices in their heads, they never medicate. No, they actually encourage the little voices. And then publish them.

This week, though, I experienced a “quality” beyond voices. It’s a weird thing that happens to me now and again. I look over the writing du jour and I keep thinking I’ve misspelled words—even when I haven’t.

I think I might be a typo-chondriac.

Interestingly enough, if the psycho-professionals come up with a 12-step program for typo-chondriacs, I’m pretty sure step one will be admitting you don’t have a problem.

When it comes to successfully walking out this life for Christ, though, we have to recognize right from the get-go our complete lack of ability to make it happen ourselves. We do have a problem. And without surrendering to the leadership of God’s Holy Spirit, there’s no hope for resolving that problem. No 12-step program. No self-help book. Personally speaking, I don’t even have a horn to toot. Not a leg to stand on. Not a keyboard to type on. It’s got to be all Him and zero me.

You’d think that would cause a more intense insecurity than even a writer has to bear. But it doesn’t. As a matter of fact, it’s the exact opposite. There is great security in knowing that I don’t have to depend on my own abilities. There is even greater security in knowing that I can so completely depend on the One who is all-powerful. Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:3 that, “We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort,” (NLT).

The Amplified version of Philippians 3:3 puts it this way: “Put no confidence or dependence on what we are in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearances.” That pretty much settles it. Nothing we’ve done. Nothing we’ve said. Nothing we are. Nothing inside us. Nothing outside us. Victory in the walk of faith will only happen as we rely totally and completely in the all-powerful One. And in Him our security is sure.

So it’s not such a terrible thing to recognize that even though I’m a writer, with all the built-in insecurities and various “qualities” that come with it, I don’t have to live in insecurity. There’s freedom in recognizing I have nothing to offer in and of myself, but that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).

That’s especially refreshing to dwell on when I realize that on top of my typo-chondria, I think I might be coming down with a touch of kleptomania. Gee, I hope there’s something I can take for that.

Just the Right Gift

May 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

I have to tell you, I’ve seen some pretty ghastly Christmas gift disasters over the years. Shouldn’t there be a buying guide that lists what not to buy? Sort of an “un-buying guide”?

For women I think the un-buying guide should include anything that even remotely resembles a power tool. Vacuum cleaner bags—also a bad idea. Even the lavender scented ones. Another bad gift idea for women? A gift membership to the Guerilla Weight-loss Center. I’m pretty sure we should also include the special satellite sports-a-rama package.

And while I confess I’m not the final authority when buying for men, I think I can spot a few of the obvious gifts to avoid for them, too. The Basket-weaving Instruction Trilogy on DVD, for instance. Bunny jammies with feet? Probably a bad idea. I’m thinking a Martha Stewart action figure would leave something to be desired, as well as the book, It’s Okay to Cry: Expressing Your Feelings through Exploring Your Emotions.

When shopping for men, it’s usually a good idea to find something with a huge, florescent warning label that says bodily harm is imminent. If the gift can maim, cause vision loss or singe eyebrows, we’ve got a winner. If it comes with a remote, you might see him tear up.

But if you were shopping for Jesus, what do you suppose would make the perfect gift? I’m convinced I know exactly what He wants. He wants—you! And He wants you to know Him. One way we can do that is through connecting with Him in prayer. He wants us to spend time with Him—quality time.

Jesus told us we need private times of prayer. He gave us these great how-to instructions in Matthew 6:5-13: “Also when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward in full already. But when you pray, go into your most private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open. And when you pray, do not heap up phrases, multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (AMP) Then he gave us the Lord’s prayer.

Our Father doesn’t want to be ignored. He doesn’t want just a show of prayer either. He desires sweet, sincere times of communication where we join our heart and will to His through experiencing Him in a fresh closeness. It’s absolutely astounding that when we give that gift of quality time to Jesus, we find it actually becomes an extra delightful gift for ourselves. Now there’s a gift!

The membership to the Guerilla Weight-loss Center? You can keep that one.

No Other Name

April 14, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

I said I’d never do it. But I did it. And actually, I’ve been somewhere near the worst of them all. I said I’d never be one of those moms who went through the whole list of her kids’ names before hitting on the right one. But at least once a week the entire time my kids have been growing up I would want to say something to one of them, and it was suddenly a roll call. I’d hit every name on my five-kid list and sometimes even throw in a couple of my own siblings and a stray cousin or two

To add still more offense, I would often manage to get a couple of the pets’ names mixed in there, too. You can imagine how the kids loved that. At least I would fight the urge at that point to say, “Sit. Stay. Good teenager.” Well, most of the time. But it got downright embarrassing. I thought about adding a “Banana” and a “Fanna-fo” hoping they might be fooled into thinking it was some kind of name game.

I would’ve just given up and numbered my kids, but I had no doubt I would’ve called them the wrong number. By the time you call your kids the wrong number once or twice, they’re likely to be insulted enough to completely tune you out anyway. “You have reached a kid who has been disconnected or is no longer listening…

I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day. I can’t even remember why now, but somewhere in the conversation she said something surprising and I said, “Surely you’re kidding.” She said, “I’m totally not kidding. And don’t call me Susan.” Then there was a long pause. I think we were both processing. After the processing came a couple of snickers and she said, “Oh wait. It’s ‘Shirley,’ isn’t it.” Then we both laughed uproariously for a good ten minutes.

Sometimes there’s just no substituting the right name. In Acts 4, Peter and John were standing before the rulers trying to explain whose name they were using to do all the preaching and healing they had been doing—the preaching and healing they had just spent the night in jail for, by the way. But Peter didn’t need a roll call. He told them flat out, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NIV).

No substitute. No other name. Not Susan. Not any name on any list I might rattle off. The name is ever and always Jesus. He is the one who has all power to do all saving. And He makes salvation available to every person of every name.

How glorious that our Heavenly Father has given Jesus the greatest name, the greatest, most honored and holy place. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Philippians 2:9-11, NIV).

Surely that’s reason to celebrate! Though let me make it clear, I’m not calling you “Shirley.” And please don’t call me Susan.

Bank On It

January 29, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

I don’t want to admit how debit-card-dependent I am. It’s getting embarrassing. One day this week I couldn’t find my card. I looked everywhere all afternoon. Even by the next morning there was still no trace of the card. I searched high and low, near and far—even under the sofa cushions. I found 37 cents, three marbles, a T shirt (how had we ignored that lump?), seven M & M’s, a screwdriver, my favorite sunglasses, and the TV remote (hey, we’d been looking for that thing). But no card.

I rifled through my purse for the gazillionth time. It scared me when I found a ball of purse fuzz that looked like a dead rodent, but I must admit I perked up a little when I found the rest of those M & M’s. There were enough breath mints in there to freshen a platoon and at least four different shades of nail polish—all hiding among a ream of receipts I would never need. But still no card.

I checked our bank account online to make sure no one had used the rogue card. Nope, no extra charges (though how in the world could all those be mine?). Still, I was just this side of panic.

Why is it I wait until panic starts to set in before I remember where I really need to turn? Finally I thought, “Okay, I’ll have my quiet time with the Lord and then I can resume the hunt with more peace, less panic.”

I opened my Bible and you’re not even going to believe what fell out. My card! I knew I had marked my place the day before, I just hadn’t realized I used my card to do it. I had absentmindedly stuck it between the pages. Wow, that was a weird move both spiritually and financially, for sure.

What a lesson my Father taught me about where I should run first. I found such treasure in the pages of His Word that morning. And believe it or not, the real treasure was not even card-related. Psalm 119:14-16 says it best:  “I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word,” (NIV).

Debit cards may come and go, but true riches are from the wisdom found in knowing our magnificent Lord. Wisdom and understanding are found in the pages of His Word. And, as Psalm 49:30 says it, “A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish,” (NIV). That means I can have all the debit cards and all the riches in the world, but unless I have the treasure of the wisdom that comes from knowing Christ, I’m no better off than a dead purse rodent.

Our wealth is only in Jesus and only because of Jesus. So let’s give credit where credit is due. And also give debit where debit is due.

You Hardly Ever Hear This in the Senate

January 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

I had an interesting conversation with a couple of my kids last week. My son Jordan was making a passionate argument about something or another and he ended his proclamation with “Mom. Seriously.” Only I can’t express it with the same punch he did because he totally power-burped the last word.

My daughter Kaley said, “Yeah, Jordan. It always helps your argument when you belch it.”

Jordan responded with: “Yeah, that’s why they do it all the time on the senate floor.”

Okay, I’m sorry, but it cracked me up when I got this visual of all our statesmen in a “who can burp their point the loudest” competition. I have to wonder if this could end a few of those disputes on Capitol Hill. Or maybe start some new ones.

Anyway, no one really asks why neither I nor any of my children have ever run for public office. And while I’ll probably never represent any of my fellow Americans in congress, I do need to keep in mind that I’m always representing Christ.

The Amplified Version of 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us that “we are Christ’s ambassadors, God making His appeal as it were through us. We, as Christ’s personal representatives, beg you for His sake to lay hold of the divine favor now offered you and be reconciled to God.”

A representative? As a matter of fact, I’ve already been elected. You have too if you’ve given your life to Christ. What an honor it is to represent! I pray regularly that the Lord will help me communicate His truth in whatever way He wants me to communicate it. May it happen through each of us as His representatives. However He wants us to communicate it and to every person He wants us to communicate it to. Seriously.

Paul referred to himself as an ambassador as well. “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Ephesians 6:19-20, NIV). There is usually prestige connected to becoming an ambassador or a representative. But an “ambassador in chains”? It may be tougher to find people to run for that office or make themselves available for that appointment.

But when we’re looking at the appointment from an eternal perspective, it’s startling what an honor we find it is to be called to passionately lobby those who don’t know Jesus. We are to “beg” them, as the passage in 2 Corinthians describes it, to be reconciled to God through Christ.

Believe it or not, that’s also very often a topic of conversation between me and my kids. Even though we’re not members of the House of Representatives, we’re ever seeking to challenge each other to remember that we do have a house full of representatives.

Back on the political side though, can you imagine some of the conversations we’ll be having in the Rhea house as we near election time? I’m thinking it will likely go something like, “I’d never vote for that guy. Why, he probably couldn’t burp his way out of paper bag.”

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