Monday, August 8, 2016

WARNING: ELECTION THOUGHTS


What to do?  Vote for the devil you know or the devil you don't know.  That seems to be the question THIS election cycle.  Good grief!  Could it get any stranger?

I'm convinced that either way the vote might take us in November, it won't be long until our political situation will become even weirder, if that's possible!

If the Dems win, we're looking at imprisonment or pardon of the President. (Yes, believe it or not, the law IS "one size fits all.")   If the GOP prevails, impeachment. (I've heard that steps are already being taken, just waiting for some unconstitutional reason to surface.) Either way, the office of the President will be vacant. SO...I've come to the conclusion that the candidates THIS TIME are not the issue.

As much as the media tries to make this about personalities, issues are always more important.
(I'm privately praying that BOTH candidates will voluntarily and safely remove themselves from the race, but I've been told that is ridiculous!)

 We'd better start paying attention to the people that surround the candidates AND their party's platform.  They will be the ones to pick up the pieces after the dust settles.

The Vice Presidential candidates are very important and the Party platform of the winning VP will sway the direction of the country.

I'm very content with Governor Mike Pence, he is a highly regarded conservative, very well spoken, strong, calm and extremely smart. He doesn't hesitate to disagree with Trump on some issues and I'm learning to trust his judgment.  Rudy, Newt, Chris, Marco and Mike Huckabee are also common sense voices heard from time to time in the roar of the campaign and Trumps bombastic personality.

The jury is still out for me on Senator Kaine.   He's a devout Jesuit Catholic with deep moral convictions and that's very appealing to me. ( He believes in the right of the unborn PERSONALLY, but declares that his private conviction will not sway his PUBLIC position.  That's a little disturbing.  YES, he must enforce the present law, but thankfully when slavery was legal there were statesmen that used the power of their position to encourage public opinion to demolish THAT ugly law.  Isn't that the purpose of having and living out a godly conviction?)  Senator Kaine leans to the liberal side which is  being faithful to his party. I'll continue to investigate him.  (Voices that support Clinton trouble me, such as Debbie Wasserman Shultz, Warren Buffet, Terry McCauliffe, Saul Alinkskey, Dianne Feinstein, and John Podesta. Then there's the Clinton "body count" to reckon with and the endless scandals that will return to the national stage.)

As far as the platforms: I found a chart. (In a nutshell)
It's pretty easy to align with one side or the other here..
                                     
DEMOCRAT      higher taxes/more government regulation  
REPUBLICAN   lower taxes, free market sets wages, flat tax

D -social ideas based on community
R- based on individual rights and justice

D -decrease military spending  
R - increase military spending

D - support gay marriage (generally)
R - oppose gay marriage (generally)

D - abortion should remain legal  
R - oppose abortion and Roe v. Wade

D - government regulations protect people  
R - government regulations hinder job growth

D - support universal healthcare  
R - oppose requirement to buy health insurance

D - moratorium on deporting undocumented  
R -  no amnesty for undocumented immigrants

D - little concern for trillions of dollars of debt  
R -  see national debt as security issue

I'm convinced the American government is not great right now, but I'm absolutely positive that the AMERICAN PEOPLE are the finest in the world. In spite of the renegade examples interviewed on the TV regularly, we the people are good and kind and want the best for EVERYONE. We just pretty much ignored Washington for way too long and now find ourselves in this political pickle.

Common sense CAN prevail, but only if common sense is heard.

The voice IS more powerful than the vote these days.  Lies told on both sides are believed by the masses even after they are exposed. (We naively want to believe what people say is true. We're good like that!)  And once a lie is believed, pride keeps us from admitting we fell for it. We march on with signs in hand, supporting a lie meant only to garner votes.  It works.

In three months, the lies, the shouting, the attacks, and the foolishness will be over.  Hopefully, there will be a smooth, uneventful transfer of power.  Then get ready for ROUND 2!

















Wednesday, July 27, 2016

BUILD A WALL?

A fence?  A wall?
Aren't bridges always better??

Because it's part of the national debate, of course I have to add my two cents to the discussion!( I have no delusion that anyone is interested in my opinion, but writing is therapy! And I certainly need lots of  that during this election process.)

The  fence debate continues, gets louder and frankly a little stupid.

Building fences and walls have somehow been labeled racists, unloving and a tool of the isolationists.  Why do we need walls, fences or borders anyway?  Aren't we part of the new global, one world, "let's love everybody" system?

Take a look at the picture above.
This is the newly designed, MUCH HIGHER, fence recently constructed around the White House grounds in DC.  The secret service insisted it be put in place because of recent "fence jumpers" who undoubtedly had evil intent and perhaps wanted to do physical harm to our President and his family or damage to the building and grounds itself.  This fence serves a good purpose. And I've heard not one complaint about the protection this particular fence provides.  Of course, everyone, wants the people's house and it's residents safe. And we have to agree: there ARE some nutcases out there.

And then of course there's this:

This is the fence constructed at the recent Democratic National Convention. No doubt this fence aided the police as they tried to keep the peace and encourage safety for  protesters, delegates, and VIP's

So....I conclude we LIKE fences/walls.....sometimes!

The debate seems to heat up when we turn our eyes to the southern border of the US, not so much the northern border.

The question becomes, why does a nation need a wall?  Why does a nation even need a border?

I heard a politician say just this week,  "If we do not have a border, we do not have a country."

I've also heard very loving, kind, young people say, "Why do we need a border anyway? Aren't we all God's children?"

My thoughts:

A secure border defines territory, jurisdiction and responsibility.

The land and it's people INSIDE a border BELONG to that country.

 The land is owned by the people that purchased it or the government that has declared it belongs to ALL the people of the nation. (National Parks!)
The land cannot be infringed upon, grabbed, or used by anyone other than the owner without that owners permission. It is cared for financially and physically by it's owner. Simple, right?

The people (citizens either by birth or through the legal process of gaining citizenship) of a country have the wonderful privilege and responsibility of governing, voting, serving, and taking care of the land AND EACH OTHER.  They also determine what amount of financial/military responsibility they will assume for foreign nations, who will lead them, how the budget will be spent, how every person will be protected,  & how the legal/business/judicial system will be regulated.

The plan works pretty good!!  In theory! Debates, discussions, and votes are forever refining and changing the way the country does things.

So...let's imagine an area of no borders, no walls, no fences, no immigration system.

If you've traveled outside the US, you have quickly realized the EVERYONE wants to come to the United States to live.  Many risk life and limb to get here. And many give there lives in the attempt to set foot on American dirt.  (Ex...Cuban immigrants to Florida)
People of other nations see the freedom, the prosperity and the opportunity this country offers and desire to be a part of that.  Wonderful!!!  As the statue says, "give us your tired, poor, hungry....."
America has ALWAYS welcomed people from nations all over the world.

BUT.......there is a process to gain entry and citizenship that is now being questioned.  There MUST be a vetting process in place to prevent large numbers of people that do NOT have the best interest of America and it's citizens in mind.  There are millions of people that desire to participate in those wonderful privileges of voting, governing, and enjoying the generosity of hard working taxpayers and government programs.  Who wouldn't??

 BUT.... There are also people that would like nothing better than to destroy our cities, schools, government and citizens from the inside out by USING those same tools of voting, gaining positions of power, and general freedom.  Homeland security warns us over and over again that it's not a matter of IF, but when a large scale, perhaps even nuclear, attack will occur in one of our major cities.

Shall we build a bridge and invite everyone to cross as if everyone has innocent intentions?

When we discuss illegal immigrants should we consider physical, financial and political issues?

How many people that do NOT love freedom of speech, religion, dress, or job opportunity would it take before a city, a state or even a country is changed forever through the voting booth? OR by taking advantage of the generosity of very well-intended governmental programs and plans.

Can't happen?  I have been to Brownsville, Texas and other cities on our southern border. They no longer even SLIGHTLY resemble American cities the rest of the country know.

I have seen the "wall" designed to protect those folks there and it is a joke!  I have stayed with a family that has owned an orchard for generations and their trees are being destroyed by illegals trekking through it at night, sneaking into the area. I have seen the piles of trash, clothing, plastic bottles left behind.  At times dead bodies are found because of the heat, danger,  lack of water. It's tragic,, and no humane way to welcome those that want to come here.

 Home invasions are common there, fear of the Mexican Cartel is rampant.  Texas, New Mexico and Arizona residents have stories that will make your hair stand straight up on your head.

Those Americans by birth want to stay, it is their home.  They are trying desperately to keep their homes and property.

How will removing the partial wall help the situation?  How will building a bridge in the name of loving kindness help?  How can we support ALL the people that want to come here?

(I truly believe there is a tipping point we will reach when the number of people paying into the system to help folks will be LESS than the number of people receiving the financial help. Reminder: we are TRILLIONS of $$ in debt now. Soon the millions of dollars we pay for interest  DAILY on that debt will exceed the revenue coming into the government till.  Who will help thousands of illegal immigrants then?? That's a tough statement for folks who believe money grows on trees. )

Should we welcome struggling immigrants?  YES!  Should we help anyone that needs help? YES!  Should we help  third world countries prosper so their people will want to stay in their own country?  YES! Should we improve our vetting system for those applying for entry? YES! Should we help improve those "ghettos" where many immigrants are forced to live?  YES!

But, as much as we would like to, we cannot feed, clothe, educate, and medicate all the people the world OR even all the people that want to come here to live.  It is absolutely impossible.
As generous as "we the people" are, it is absolutely impossible.

Without borders, we have no country.  Physically, socially, politically or financially.
Without borders, without a wall or a fence, there will be no America for folks to come to.

 We will be a third world country that will be able to help  no one!

It sounds harsh, but a wall on the Southern border is the most loving thing we can do for those folks that live there, for the people that want to come here safely, for the future of freedom and safety for the rest of the country as well.  

Congress voted years ago to build a wall to define our borders.  Funding it is the challenge.
(Could a wall and entry through it be abused? Sure, but hopefully thinking America will take care of that, too. )

The White House fence and the Democratic Convention fence prove the point.   Sometimes they're needed for protection, safety, financial stability and freedom for those that work very hard to make this land the best place in the world for ALL people that want to be part of our democracy.

You think we can get past the 30 second sound bites and really think this thing through?
















Wednesday, June 29, 2016

"YOU DIDN'T BUILD IT"








I'm trying folks, I'm really trying.  Trying to NOT comment on every asinine political statement I hear during this election year.

I'm not being very successful.

I've been holding THESE thoughts in for quite a while now and if I don't let it fly I might just die!

(Is that poetry?  "If I don't let it fly....I might die")

We have heard it several times now, from a couple of different politicians.  I've even heard just "regular" folks quote this statement as fact.

Here is it:    "If you own a business, you didn't build it!  You had fire protection, employees educated by the public school system, police protection, roads to drive on, etc.  YOU didn't build it, others built your business."

That is probably the stupidest thing I've ever heard.  Bear with me, and let me explain.

YES....business owners drive on public roads, take public transportation, enjoy protection from the finest firemen and policemen.

BUT...here's the kicker!  So does everyone else that did NOT or NEVER WILL build a business.
(Think:  stay at home moms, bus drivers, factory workers, bankers, every one in ministry, retired golfers, and SO many more.  ALL fine hardworking, lovely folks, but NOT business owners.)

Small business owners are a RARE courageous bunch.

THEY alone are the ones that take the risk, borrow huge amounts of money, often using their own house as collateral. THEY are the ones that pay the endless taxes and licenses required by the government, endure safety inspections and guidelines that often make no earthly common sense.

 THEY alone are the ones that stick it out for 3 years (statistically proven) before they see $1 of profit.  THEY alone are the ones that rise early, stay late and wrestle with payrolls, often foregoing their own salary so their employees get paid that month. (A 40 hour week?  Unheard of!)

 THEY alone invest in equipment that would make any ordinary persons hair stand straight up and burst into flames.

THEY alone are the ones that had the idea, visited the patent attorney, developed a sample product and perfected it again and again over time. THEY alone are the ones that attend trade conferences and plan changes and cost cuts to keep up with the competition.  THEY alone are the ones that listen to employees problems, and take their place at work when that same employee doesn't show up for work on any given day. THEY are the ones that deal with dissatisfied customers who don't hesitate for one minute blaming, shouting and cursing when something goes awry. THEY are the ones that provide necessary products and services for the rest of us.

Yes, they enjoy public services, but THEY PAY TAXES  to provide for them, too.

IF they didn't build their own businesses, WHO DID?  Those places of employment didn't pop up all by themselves.

A rebuttal to my argument (and I've heard this as well) is:  Consumers build businesses.

Nice thought, BUT....I can't sit in my house and wish for a tire store to appear down the street, a donut shop to magically appear because I long for  one, or a gift shop to pop up nearby as a convenience to me.  A brave BUSINESS OWNER has to take the first step and assume all the risk.

And if he/she does it right, consumers will come.  If not.....a dream is shattered and the business person will start all over again because it's in their DNA. Sitting down, waiting for someone to come rescue them is NOT an option.

And while they are regrouping the rest of us will be driving down the roads, enjoying the protection of the policemen and firemen and sending our kiddos to public schools.  And we'll be waiting for a job!


Monday, February 8, 2016

iPHONE ADDICTION DISORDER


It's rampant, it's addictive, it's contagious.

Yesterday Honeybuns and I went out for lunch after church, our normal Sunday activity.  For several weeks now we've been observing the same behavior amongst our fellow diners no matter where we go for Sunday chow.

We've made a conscious effort to speak to and smile at  children, elderly folks, wives, husbands, friends that are obviously very much  ALONE  and LONELY while sitting across the table from their loved ones.  No matter what the age, the sad look is identical.  A kind word or smile is eagerly acknowledged.

Their loved ones are staring at or playing games on their phones!  You've seen it, too.  It's not just a Dallas disease, but a pandemic across the nation.

We've noticed small children sitting quietly,  being totally ignored, while both parents are intently involved with their phones.  Husbands and wives are totally dismissed while one or the other plays a game or checks their e-mail.  Grandmas and Grandpas are staring out the window while their family members check out the latest games. Usually NO ONE is talking on their phones, that would be rude, I guess.  But they are immersed in whatever is happening on that small screen even though their family members are sitting right in front of them.

Yesterday we watched a father play games on his phone while his teenage daughter politely sat across the table watching him.  She looked very sad, and I wondered when this Daddy would regret this activity.  Her time with him is so very short. I'm sure a day will come when he decides she is or WAS more important than a video game.

EVERY single table in that very crowded, very popular upscale bakery held the same scene.  It was unbelievable.

I saw a quote recently, "Our phones keep us connected with many, but disconnects us with the people sitting across from us."

And another with a picture of a lonely child, "I wish I were a phone so my mommy and daddy would hold ME all day."

It's EASY to catch the iPhone Addiction Disorder.  The symptoms manifest before you know it and before long you've got a full blown case. Compare it to alcohol, prescription drugs, or cannabis.  It's a sneaky, sly bug!

SO......I've made some guidelines for ME!  (You can steal them if you please.)  I'm comparing these "rules" to taking vitamins, exercising, taking a bath, eating lots of greens,  and drinking lots of water.  It's preventative action for healthy relationships.  (Some of these are easier than others.)

1.   When I enter a restaurant with ANYONE, the phone stays in the car.
2.   When I'm driving....its in my purse in the backseat.
3.   When I have company at my house it's turned off and in my purse in the laundry room.
4.   It is never allowed in the bedroom.
5.   When I'm at a meeting of ANY kind, it's turned off and stays in my purse or IF it's church, it's in the car.
6.   When I'm at ANYONE'S house, ditto.

These little technological wonders can control our lives to the point that we are no longer living our lives with the most important people on earth.   A reminder: that isn't a phone you are holding, it is a tiny computer with access to the world and you can also make a call.

 Seriously!  Who needs to play video poker at a birthday party?

We babyboomers remember when the telephone was attached to the wall, so I think I can put this demanding marvel in its rightful place.  When it beeps, it can wait.

And I'll continue to strike up conversations with those lonely folks abandoned by it.





Friday, February 5, 2016

BERNIE MADOFF


Who is Bernie Madoff???

That was my question too, UNTIL I happened upon a two part TV special this past Wednesday and Thursday evening.  I flipped on the show fully expecting to turn it to American Idol after a minute or two, BUT found myself engrossed in this story.

The story of Bernie Madoff is fascinating! Even for a numbers-challenged person like me.

He founded and ran a Wall Street Investment Firm that was very successful for decades.  He portrayed himself as a financial magician!  The "lipstick" building in Manhattan was his world and many people were employed there making legitimate profits for their customers in the ups and downs of that business.  His two sons developed a successful career as traders, and money managers in that place.
The office was modern, slick, and exciting.  People counted themselves very fortunate to work at Madoff's.  He was very successful and president of NASDAQ for 4 years.

BUT...Bernie had a secret!  On the 17th floor of that magnificent building a very different type of operation was whirling.  NO ONE was allowed on the 17th floor without Bernie's permission and he rarely gave it.  There Bernie's old-time and extremely loyal friend, two female morally bankrupt women and a handful of bean counters reported to work daily.  The employees on that floor generated thousands of reports and perspectives and sent them out to some of the richest people on the planet.  You see, Bernie had  artfully and very slyly convinced his clients that only HE could make them successful on the stock market.  Those people GAVE HIM, voluntarily, BILLIONS of dollars for him to "take care of."  His charm, timing, manipulation and sheer bravado won them over.

The secret?  Bernie never made ONE trade with their money.  NOT ONE!  He took their billions and spent it on his very lavish lifestyle which included 4 ka-million dollar mansions, yachts, a collection of  Rolex watches, lavish vacations, fancy cars, extreme parties and "over the top" gifts to his family and employees.  He gave away rare cars, watches, and villas in Switzerland, with the intent of  buying loyalty and friendship.  It worked for decades.

The reports sent to his 17th floor customers were all BOGUS.  Every page, every column, ever number was a lie. Every thing that happened there was illegal with serious consequences. The employees on THAT floor were the only ones in the know!

It went on for YEARS! When a client requested a payout he would offer to give them their money WITH the stipulation that once OUT of his organization there would be no returning. They folded, every time, continuing to TRUST the wizard. He spent their money and they received paper reports in the mail.

Well, to make a very long complicated story short, a numbers nerd caught wind of this operation and was able to look at the books.  After about 5 minutes he declared, FRAUD.

The FBI moved in and soon it was very obvious that MANY investors were devastated. It took years to unwind the mess. Bernie had to confess to his wife and sons that his operation was all a LIE, that he'd been running a PONZI scheme for decades. They were stunned!  The husband and father they thought they knew didn't even exist. He'd deceived them as well.

Many innocent employees were without a job, one son committed suicide, the second died of cancer, his wife was destroyed. A daughter-in-law had to change her last name to be able to function in society once again.  His loyal secretary of 25 years was a key witness AFTER the scam was exposed.  She handed the FBI Bernie's "black book" of phone numbers.  It contained the names of ALL the folks he'd tricked.

BERNIE and several of his inner circle went to jail.  Bernie's sentence was 155 years.  He's living the good life in prison as a hero of sorts and has declared that at last he has no worries and is enjoying life.

Probably the most important line of the whole story was when Bernie (Richard Dreyfuss) looked into the camera and stated....."one phone call would have blown the whistle years ago.  A secretary could have made that call."   (To the government agency that oversees the financial world.)

And another line, "I told them (investors) what they wanted to hear, not the truth, and they believed me."

Wow!  He told them what they wanted to hear, not the truth!  Most of Bernie's victims were highly educated and very successful businessmen and entrepreneurs.  They were good, charitable, smart folks.

Deceived, every one.  Probably the biggest lie I/we believe is, "that can't happen to me."

One morally corrupt evil man destroyed many.

Truth (about anything)  is important, whether we like the sound of it or not.






Monday, January 11, 2016

HOW TO SELECT A PRESIDENT


Talk about confused!  This old lady is befuddled.

This past week I had a conversation with a very intelligent, very YOUNG business woman whom I admire and respect. She works hard, is planning her destination wedding, has many friends and is simply delightful.

We enjoy each other's company and talk about anything and everything!

The conversation turned to the upcoming election, political ads, etc.  I was excited to hear this young woman's perspective and could not imagine how the conversation was going to go.

Well....SURPRISE!

As I listened, she related her ideas on most ALL the candidates now in the horse race for President.
She seemed educated on the most important topics.  But then....she lowered the boom!

She shared with me that HER many friends, the ones in her age group (20- 30), knew nothing about the candidates, their position, history, views, etc.  And they had no intention of investigating the people or issues important to the upcoming election.

Wait for it....................

Her generation would vote for the candidate supported by their favorite CELEBRITY!

(What?  Why on earth would anyone do that? You've got to be kidding me!)

She saw the stunned look on my face and reassured me that, Yes....the young voting block was waiting to see who Katy Perry (and other folks featured in People Magazine) was going to endorse.

Well.....at that moment I had to confess to her that I don't know anything about Ms. Perry, I don't read People Magazine, watch the award shows, never go to rock concerts and rarely see a movie.  When discussing who starred in the latest block buster, old movies or even TV shows with friends, I wait it out until the conversation turns to other subjects.  I just don't know or care and am very surprised that anyone does!

I wish those folks WELL.... AND MUCH SUCCESS.  Pretending to be something you're not, dressing up in costume, learning many lines, and raking in a ka-billion dollars for it is no doubt an honorable profession and I occasionally enjoy the fruit of their labor. Singing before thousands, and managing a successful career is their work.  BUT, care what those folks think about an election?  That is simply mind-boggling.

I don't care what they think about toothpaste, basketball teams, car models, or anything else they might be hired to tout. I don't care about their parenting techniques, diets, or surgeries.

The whole concept of wishing to be like, look like, think like, act like a CELEBRITY is crazy.

I don't doubt my friends assessment for a moment.  Our culture has lifted  many celebrities to a status of idolatry. I'm sure it happened when I was younger, too....remembering the Beatles, Paul Newman,
etc.  But somewhere along life's path we (baby boomers) realized that those folks were just people, putting their pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else and thus failed to be impressed.  

I simply cannot imagine anyone looking to a drummer, model, actor, singer or Kardashian to select a President.

Evidently it's easier than thinking for yourself.  God help us!










Sunday, December 20, 2015

KITCHEN GENERATIONAL GAP


The conversation started out rather weird.  My friend proclaimed, "My daughter doesn't want me in her kitchen!"  Sensing that this might turn into a rather lengthy conversation, I quickly sat down with an ear tuned to "just" listen.

It seems that my friend was lamenting the fact that when holidays come around her daughter and husband are insulted when she offers to help out in the kitchen.  "What's that about?" she wailed.
Evidently her younger generation takes offense, believing that Mom is implying that she can't cook!

Another friend joined the conversation  and we talked it out (about 30 minutes worth) until we arrived at a conclusion.

Here's the summary:

We concluded that there  must be a "kitchen generational gap" in existence now and WE (the moms and the grand moms alive today) are on the upper end of the age span.

WE remember great fun times of preparation of holiday dinners of years long ago.  At that time families lived near each other and when family gatherings happened there were MANY mouths to feed and help in the kitchen was greatly appreciated.  I recall my own experiences of peeling potatoes, dicing cheese, stirring up the dressing, and setting tables right along side several aunts, moms, grandmothers and girl cousins.  It was a social event that everyone anticipated.  It just wouldn't be Christmas without flour strewn everywhere, laughter, jokes, recipes shared, gossip,  spilled pickle juice, dishtowel slaps and dishpan hands.  The whole "women only" ordeal was anticipated as much as tree-trimming, shopping, singing carols and tucking the babies in for the night.

The men of the family were delegated outside to smoke or into the tiny living room to visit and be envious of what all was going on in the kitchen! If a male happened to sneak in for a bite of turkey fresh out of the oven or a finger-full of icing from the coconut cake, he was quickly reprimanded and sent back to his corner to wait!

We (my age group) are now learning that this culinary celebration no longer exists and sadly we must adjust to the new-fangled way of doing things. Today some young whippersnappers that have never experienced the frolicking holiday meal preparations of days gone by like to "do it themselves." To offer to help NOW is interpreted as an accusation of ineptitude.

What to do?  We came up with a plan.

Relish those past memories, but ENJOY this new freedom.  When the cooking starts, go find a grandchild and dream up some silly fun with them.  They're always ready for adventure.  It's a new day, go make a new tradition that doesn't involve kitchen WORK!

As M. Stewart would say, it's a GOOD THING!




Saturday, December 19, 2015

HAS THE CHRISTMAS STORY BEEN FORGOTTEN

That question was posed to me just this week and I've pondered it for several days.

Watching the hub-bub at the mall, the endless commercials, the stress and frustration in peoples faces, one might come to the conclusion that YES, the celebration of the arrival of the Prince of Peace has taken a back-seat.

But, I can't read the minds of those harried shoppers and crazy drivers.  I don't know what is going on in their heart, but I DO know what's going on in mine. And to that I can speak!

Christmas, it's meaning and ways I've celebrated has evolved over the years.  But, even as a child I was VERY aware of the STORY.   I spent hours practicing on our old upright piano so I could get "O Holy Night" and "Silent Night" just perfect.  There was no performance as I recall, but a deep sense of worship even as a youngster as I pounded out the tune while singing like a wolf howling at the moon. The WORDS were planted deep within me and I could easily envision the stable, the star and the savior.  My extended family ALWAYS gathered on Christmas Eve to exchange gifts and eat Granny's pies. The love present in that little five room block house was thick and wonderful.  There was certainly something magical about those evenings. Family was an important element of the celebration.

An ugly old prickly cedar tree set up in the tiny living room became the focal point of joy. And there was always a "Christmas Program" put on by the cousins as the adults laughed and clapped.

As time passed and we grew up, married and moved away from that little block house,  we made new traditions, but the STORY  always held a prominent place.  One year our eldest at age 3 recited Luke 2 from memory at our church service.  We'd practiced for months with pictures of stick figures and barely recognizable prompts to learn the words. Church at Christmas time was not an option and the story was discussed and re-enacted year after year.

As the boys grew and married and started making traditions of their own, we continue to celebrate with the same amount of awe and wonder.  Gifts are always given as a outpouring of love, a small symbol of the love out poured by God in Bethlehem long ago. Church services, cantatas, orchestras and solos again bring all the words to those beautiful Christmas songs back to my mind. They are O Little Town, Hark the Herald Angels Sings, While Shepherds Watch, O Holy Night, Silent Night, Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful, The Hallelujah Chorus and now my new favorite Mary Did You Know?  The story is repeated vividly and clearly in song and in reading and hearing Luke 2, again and again.  I NEVER tire of it.

Family traditions change, new people are added by marriage and birth,  and older loved ones pass away.  As important as family is to the celebration, people and circumstances change, BUT the story never does.
The main person of the story is unchangeable, reliable, forever faithful, kind, forgiving and eternally present with me.

As I study our present day culture, perhaps our nation as a whole has forgotten the STORY.  I wonder how many children have never heard it, how many parents don't bother teaching it,  how many young adults are wondering around looking for love and forgiveness and unconditional acceptance in drugs, relationships, endless entertainment, financial pursuits,  and constant busyness.

Yet I marvel at the outlandish ways CHRISTIANS celebrate all December, hoping that those that need HIM will stop and question all the over-the-top events and realize HE'S available for them, too.
He IS known and remembered and celebrated by many. Many folks I know personally are very aware of HIS peace that passes all understanding regardless of their circumstances.

 He's come once to show us the way and He's coming again one day as the righteous judge. (Soon, I hope!)  Then ALL wrongs will be made right, evil will have it's final fling and there will be NO DOUBT of His identity. He will no longer be ignored by any individual or culture, everyone will see HIM and everyone will kneel, either in worship or regret.

Perhaps THEN the question will be answered once and for all.






Sunday, November 1, 2015

HALLOWEEN SUPERHERO



You won't believe this one, but I swear on a stack of TWIX  chocolate bars, it is true.

On Halloween night Honeybuns and I dressed accordingly and spent the evening with the Dallas grands.  We had NO trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood last year and were not about to make the mistake of eating ALL that left over candy alone AGAIN!

As Honeybuns, aka ROBIN, raced door to door on the candy run with BATMAN, aka Thompson,  I set up my chair on Philip and Nancy's front porch.  My job for the night was to greet and feed candy to the hundreds of kids that lined their street as the rest of the family wore themselves out canvasing the neighborhood for the best loot!  A big party atmosphere filled the area, children squealed, parents made sure they said, "thank you" and I was enjoying all the delightful costumes parading by.

All was going swimmingly until late in the evening the kid traffic died down, the grand kids were home counting out their stash, ROBIN was tired and it was getting a little chilly.  We decided to call it a night.

The conversation went like this.

ME:  "Nancy, shall we just leave this bowl of candy here on the porch in case a few more kiddos drop by?  They can help themselves to sweet treats."

NANCY:  "No, the last time I did that someone STOLE my nice bowl, took the candy BOWL and ALL."

ME:  "You're kidding!  I'll just sit it down here by this plastic ghost and surely it'll be ok, the kids can help themselves."

We stepped through the front door into the living room.

30 SECONDS later, out of the corner of my right eye,  I saw some movement on the porch and opened the door.  THE BOWL AND IT'S CONTENTS WERE GONE! GONE!

I ran out the door and into the yard screaming at the top of my lungs...."HEY, HEY YOU...DON'T TAKE THAT BOWL, YOU CAN HAVE THE CANDY BUT DON'T STEAL THAT BOWL."

Nancy was right behind me yelling, "STOP! STOP! STOP TAKING MY BOWL."

About then a young woman, perhaps a mom out with her children, came around a corner and handed me the bowl before turning and running away.  We both returned to the living room, STUNNED at what had just occurred.  UNBELIEVABLE!!

We shared our story with ROBIN and JOHN WAYNE (Dennis and Philip) and decided that this was the best memory of the night.  And that in years to come we will retell this tale repeatedly.

Each year the story will grow, if you know what I mean!

I've already got a new version for next year  It goes like this.

"When we were aware of the dastardly deed, we ran after her and I (the grandma) tackled her to the ground. As she was flailing through the air the bowl flew out of her hands as Nancy caught it, candy and all. I sat on the crook until the police arrived. Upon their investigation 20 such bowls were found in her car parked at the end of the street. All the neighbors rejoiced at getting their property back and we became Halloween legends. The woman was a recent escapee from prison and she was returned to serve out 25 Halloween years."

Yep, it's not just the young whippersnappers that can PRETEND to be a superhero one night a year!


Friday, August 21, 2015

I'M GOING TO BUY A LAND ROVER



 
 

Have you seen this commercial?  I LOVE IT!!  The young couple is standing on a porch with their wedding party and it is POURING rain.  They've planned a ceremony on a picture perfect mountaintop and it looks like it's NOT going to happen.
She is in despair and he is thinking! (He is determined to marry the love of his life on this day.)  Suddenly he grabs her hand and runs out into the deluge, the wedding party packs into the Land Rover and they drive up the perilous mountain path.  On top of the mountain they are married in spite of the wind and rain, mud and soggy clothes.  He kisses his bride and she looks at him adoringly and laughs.  IT IS GREAT!!
 
So...you ask, what's so great about a wedding day disaster???
 
I love this groom for taking charge!  I love this bride for letting him!
 
I talk to MANY, MANY young and old couples, married and those just thinking about it.  And folks, we have a trend.  (It's not new, it's not a fad, it's very obvious to those who watch such things, and it is extremely worrisome.)
 
It goes like this:  We women KNOW what we WANT,  KNOW when we want it, KNOW how to make it happen and will settle for NOTHING LESS.  And BUDDY, you better sit down and watch it work. AND you best be happy about it or you'll hear from us as well.
 
We women insist on BEING in charge because we are RIGHT!  About pretty much....well, everything.
 
You know I'm right...I AM WOMAN!
 
And here it is......the wedding plans did NOT materialize because of bad weather. ( Oops! The weather IS something we cannot control!)
 
At this point the bride (and we would commiserate with her) would have every right to fall in a heap of tears, call off the wedding, cuss at her groom, her mother and the caterer.
 
At this point the groom would (and we would ADMIRE him for this) sympathize with his bride, hold her tight, BEG her to marry him ANOTHER day,  stand there and TAKE all the verbal abuse she spits out.
 
BUT, alas the Land Rover bride and groom react in NONE of the usual ways.
 
HE TAKES CHARGE AND SHE LETS HIM.  And they have a wonderful wedding day memory.
 
It makes me smile.
 
I see in this commercial the perfect picture of marital bliss.  A man being a man and a woman loving him for it.  (I almost want to cry here!)
 
There are SO many things in our every day lives that would go much smoother if we could follow their example.  Think about all the minor household decisions that are made.  Must we women always need to tell the men exactly what to do, when to do it and how?  Must men always need to follow along like a puppy in order to be considered a good husband?
 
We've been doing this marriage thing backwards since the Garden of Eden....and if I read it correctly (Hebrew translation) God predicted that is exactly what would happen.  It is the result of sin.
 
Yep, that's it ...SIN!   Time to repent folks.  Just look at that smiling, deliriously happy bride before you try to  defend yourself.
 
My challenge:
 
  Ladies, let him take charge, even if it will cost more or take more time. Laugh it off, most things we get so uptight about aren't going to matter a hill of beans in view of eternity or next year!
 
Men, take charge once in a while, she'll love you for it.  In fact, that is REALLY what she wants. When she gets used to it she'll recognize the relief and freedom it gives her.
 
Everybody ends up SMILING.
 
Now...I'm going to go out and buy a LAND ROVER!
 
 
 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

MY RESPONSE TO THE SUPREMES



It's been a pretty bad week for Christians.  Just as I was being inspired by the strength, love, and forgiveness on display in Charleston, S.C. last week after that horrible tragedy....the Supreme Court made a decision just in time for Gay Pride Day across the globe.

My beloved FRIENDS that are NOT connected with a church/synagogue/mosque/temple of any kind are completely stunned by the response of Christians to the Supreme Courts ruling that declared homosexual marriage legal in all states. What's the problem? Why not join in the celebration with parades and rainbow flags?

They are puzzled as we struggle to explain and find ourselves absolutely speechless to  remarks, such as: "What does it matter?  This ruling is not going to affect you in any way! Get over it and get your nose out of everybody's business, live and let people live however they want"

And then there is the reminder to "Judge Not!"  (Which is the MOST misused, misunderstood, and misquoted verse in the entire Bible.) That's a topic for another day.

Today I want to attempt to explain the reaction of Christians across the land. (I've been asked by several to write down my thoughts.)

I could list numerous scriptures to prove and explain a point but most folks simply dismiss those "ancient words" with a flip of the wrist. (At this point I must encourage you to forego the idea, "that book was written by men, not God, it is irrelevant."  Instead, do some research and discover that the whole book was written by eyewitnesses over hundreds of years that had NOTHING to gain and their very life to lose by writing the words.) And the Christians I know that have studied for years, believe EVERY WORD OF IT, front to back, including the maps!

So....I'll draw your attention to just one section Christians believe down deep in the very marrow of their bones.  It is Romans, Chapter 1, starting with verse 18.  If you have a Bible, please turn there now, I'll wait.

When you make your way through those words you will quickly become aware that homosexuality is taken very seriously, but forge ahead anyway.  Some very disturbing behaviors are listed as a result of depraved minds: every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, depravity, envy, murder, deceit and malice. People are described as gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, boastful and they even invent ways of doing evil.  They disobey parents, they are senseless, faithless, heartless and ruthless.
They know better but they continue AND ALSO APPROVE OF THOSE WHO PRACTICE THEM.

 Now if you review that list you'll probably be able to name a few folks that are described there. I can and in fact, I AM ONE!  I am very aware that I am capable of any and every evil known to man given the right set of circumstances.  In Christian lingo we call it sin. And we know that ALL have that tendency, no one is off the hook and no sin is worse than any other!  Equal opportunity. We are ALL guilty.

So let's just list them all....make a list. There are several other items we could included as well, found elsewhere in the scriptures.  We could add adultery, pride, haughty eyes, worry, etc... And then beside that list with a red marker write:


APPROVED!  LEGAL!  IN EVERY STATE!


And therein lies the source of DEEP, IMMEASUREABLE GRIEF for the Christian. You see, we KNOW that when elements of that list are accepted and embraced as a lifestyle, there is extreme pain for the individual. CHRISTIANS ARE grieving over the approval of inevitable pain, multiplied by millions that will accept the Courts ruling as OK! LEGAL! THE NEW NORMAL! OPEN-MINDED,  & MODERN.

Unfair you cry!  Where is the love and compassion for the individual that has decided he/she is homosexual?

It's where it's always been!  In the heart of God AND in the people that love Him and desire to love others as He does.  Have homosexuals been hurt, persecuted, and denied respect and dignity?  You bet they have!  BUT not by God! HE is the source of comfort, wholeness and unmeasurable love! For everyone!

Do Christians hate homosexuals?  NO! NO! A thousand times NO! Not the true believers anyway!
If you believe that you've swallowed a pack of lies! (Maybe pretend Christians who are filled with hatred do!)

Do homosexuals deserve every right of every citizen?  ABSOLUTELY!   (Businesses, insurance companies have for years jumped through hoops to make sure domestic partners and civil unions are recognized and awarded all benefits available.)

Do Christians deny people the right to love whomever they choose?  NO!  Love is wonderful and good and holy.  But, we understand the Biblical definition of sexuality to be far better than the raunchy display on TV, movies, pornographic films, and novels. Anything less is counterfeit.

Do Christians have a different definition of marriage?  YES! The book that we believe tells us that it is the picture of the mysterious relationship between Christ and the Church.  And NO, we will not back down, get over it,  or change our views on this issue.  We believe it is a holy covenant reserved for one man, one women for life.

Have some Christian marriages failed?  YES! ( See list above!)

Do ALL Christians believe as I do?  NO!  Reliable polls tell us that most pew warmers don't bother reading the book for themselves and have no idea what it says.  How can they possibly form an Biblically intelligent opinion?  (No malicious judgment here, just fact.)

Are Christians judging people?  NO! Not my friends, anyway.  But we do take the responsibility of teaching the scriptures seriously. How else can the next generation know what it says? Is that  judging?

We are weeping. We weep for any and everyone that is hurting because of their own choices or the choices of others. We weep as God weeps.

I've been doing a lot of weeping this week.   I am weeping over the courts stamp of approval to what I believe will bring untold suffering to many lovely people.

I am weeping because this declaration will no doubt lull many to believe that there really is no NEED of a Savior. 













Friday, June 19, 2015

CHARLESTON


Because I am a news junky, I spend lots of thinking time processing the state of the nation,  the world and the universe! I thrive on the "big picture" but struggle with the weekly menu, grocery list and the date I'm supposed to change the baking soda in my fridge.  All of those things are important, no doubt, but it takes a major effort on my part to remember to get those things done!

I had a dear, dear co-worker once that complimented my handicap  beautifully.  I shared with her that I could only SEE the FOREST, she declared she could only SEE the LEAVES.  We worked  together fabulously.  She took care of the details of the project and I spent time on the vision.  It was a match made in heaven. Our time together was nothing but a well-oiled machine of productivity!

Because of the horrible murder of nine beautiful folks in Charleston, SC this week I'm finding myself in a daze, bumping into walls, and tripping over my feet as I try to see the big picture and process this heartbreaking event.  An insane, drug addicted, racist, hateful young man committed a terrible murderous act.  He's in jail and will be held accountable and his motives and actions will be studied by experts for a long time.  Answers may or may not be found.

Charleston and the nation and I are reeling.  There are SO many questions and confusion. Conclusions and resolves will be made for the future.

I want to write about the BIG picture that I see happening NOW.

I'm seeing something totally different than what we all witnessed just a few weeks ago in Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD. And right or wrong, my brain is making a comparison.

Charleston is a beautiful city, steeped in history, beauty and spirituality. Many OLD, beautiful and revered churches can be spotted on the city tour.  If you live in or move to Savannah, the first question you will be asked is, "Who is your family?"   If you live in or move to Charleston, the first question you will need to answer is, "Where do you go to church?" Every southerner knows this about these two cities!

Charleston Southern Culture demands church attendance, Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and any other time of the week when the doors are open.  Church membership and attendance are as necessary as breathing!  It's a given.  One reporter on the scene this week declared that having lived there she could attest to the fact that,  when growing up "it didn't matter what you did on Sat. night, on SUNDAY morning  you were in church."

EVERYONE goes to their choice of church, temple, mosque, or synagogue.  And it is there that deep relationships are made through the years. Ministers, priests, rabbi's, bishops and brothers have baptized, confirmed, married, and buried whole families. History, tradition and stability are found within those walls.

It doesn't surprise me, but evidently it is surprising our nation, that when tragedy occurs the people of Charleston run to their churches.  Presbyterians, Baptists, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Methodists and Church of Christ folks ALL ran to comfort their "sisters and brothers" of the AME church where 9 members of their "family" were gunned down.  I can only imagine the flowers, casseroles, hugs and tears that were shared.  The color of their skin, the amount in their bank accounts, where their church membership was,  or the name of their granddaddy did not keep them away.  We are watching the "church united."  You know, "red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world."

These folks are the real deal.  They KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that  this week they are on this earth to "mourn with those who mourn." They are praying, weeping, and hugging together!

Are they perfect?  Is Charleston a Christian Utopia?  Absolutely not!  They're all sinners just like the rest of us. They've just lived their faith together for a long time in the humdrums of life and are comfortable to call upon it when crisis hits. Those folks are going to rise above the hatred that took their friends lives.  They are going to love each other into strength and future purpose. They are broken right now, but they will heal.

So....why didn't we see that response in Ferguson or Baltimore? (I'm  positive it DID take place on a smaller scale by some and the media just didn't report it! Racial slurs, looting, burning and hatred made the headlines.)

Here comes my speculation.

Church IS critically important in Charleston, both kinds: the "big C" involving believers everywhere and the "little C," the local congregation.  When nothing makes sense, God is our only hope. His plan to reveal Himself today is through the church, whether we like it or not, in spite of it's failings and struggles. It is there children and adults are taught the truth of God, where He is honored,and where great theology is infused through music and liturgy.

The church is the great equalizer. Somehow, by some miracle of God's grace the people of Charleston "got it."  They're not going to burn down businesses, overturn cars or shoot at policemen even though racism was no doubt the cause of all the pain.

I'm reminded of the reaction of the Amish community a few years back when their precious little girls were murdered in their school house. The nation was in a panic, and those parents and friends quietly grieved with supernatural dignity and then bulldozed the school in the wee hours of the night.  One parent visited the family of the murderer to make sure they knew they were forgiven. How did they do that?

They relied on God and leaned upon each other, helping each other cry, helping each other put one foot in front of the other. We were all amazed. They could do that because they'd spent hours getting to know Him obeying Him, loving Him during the peaceful times of life, when their hearts were NOT breaking. Running to Him was a natural response....just like breathing.

Little girls murdered, church members killed at their prayer meeting?  Is it fair?  Absolutely NOT?
It is horrendous and grievous.  And Jesus said, "in this world, you will have trouble. But fear not, for I have overcome the world."

Should we attempt to help the mentally ill, work at dispelling racism, review gun laws? Absolutely, in any and every way possible.

BUT...when trouble comes....AND IT WILL....IN FACT IT IS PROMISED.....

I know where I'll be, surrounded by friends and family that know God and that know me, warts and all.  We'll find strength together, just like those hurting folks in Charleston are doing today.

Without intending to and with no motive, The "big C" Church of Charleston is modeling for the nation a Godly, peaceful, loving, grace-filled response to unspeakable pain.

I'm hoping many will see it.










Thursday, June 11, 2015

OSCAR WORTHY PERFORMANCE

This is TOO funny not to share!

Yesterday I called my insurance company to locate a dr. in the area that would take my insurance plan.  No big deal, right???

I was pleasantly surprised to get a young "whippersnapper" on the phone who was no doubt sitting at his desk, bored, frustrated, discouraged, ready to go home!

The conversation went like this: (AFTER I pushed all the right buttons to divulge my ID number, my SS number, my husbands SS number, my phone number, my drivers license number, my house number and my birthweight!)

Me:  I'm calling to locate a dr. in my area that is "in network," just to make sure payment will be covered by my insurance plan.

Him:  What is the name of the dr?

Me:  I don't have a dr. yet...I'm calling to find one that participates in my plan.

Him:  (Annoyed) I can't look up the dr. if you don't have the name of the dr.

Me:  I'm calling to FIND the name of a dr. in my plan.

At this point everything changed!!

Him:  (In a very slow and loud voice)  I'm sorry MAMAM,  DO. YOU. HAVE. ACCESS. TO. A. COMPUTER? 

Me:  (In my very high pitched, 95 year old voice)  I sure do, sonny.  Let me see if I can get that contraption turned on.

Him:  (In a very slow and loud and condescending voice)  YOU. TURN. IT. ON....I'LL. WALK. YOU. THROUGH. THE PROCESS.

After SEVERAL minutes of this back and forth, after several computer clicks, I (with the help of my young friend) located the list of drs.

Me:  (In my very high pitched, 95 year old voice)  Why, thank you sonny.  You have been a tremendous help to me today. Why, if I were near, I'd bring you my famous chocolate chip cookies, just my way to say thanks.

Him:  (In a very slow and loud voice) YOU. ARE. VERY. WELCOME. MADAM. IS. THERE. ANYTHING. ELSE. I. CAN. HELP. YOU. WITH. TODAY?

Me:  (In my very high pitched, 95 year old voice)  Not today sonny.  I'm going back to bed now, it's naptime here at the home, you know.

Him:  (In a very slow and loud voice)   YOU. HAVE. A. GOOD. DAY. NOW.......GOOD-BY!

Me:  (to myself)  How did he think I got to his extension in the first place....positive thinking?  voodoo? prayer??

Conclusion:  I'm going to do this more often!  It's fun...AND...I get what I want.  No pride here.
He can tell his co-workers how he helped the 95 yr old Granny and feel good about himself.
(It is not beneath me to play the role of the helpless little old woman in need of a knight in shining armor. You can call it sexist, I'll call it WISDOM. AND it's entertaining!)  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A WOMAN PRESIDENT???




The campaign ads have begun and no one, except maybe the people profiting from the ad, is thrilled about that! As much as I try to stay out of the political conversation, I am drawn back in by a comment, question or striking picture.  (Somewhere in my DNA is a political gene!)

This morning a candidate asked,  "Don't you WANT to have a woman President?"  Cheers abounded.

And so I answer. (When  I'm alone I talk back to the TV or write a blog post!)

I do NOT want a woman President, a male President, a purple President, black, white, yellow, pink or lime green President.  Why does a persons outward appearance rank so high among, "we the people?"

I want a President that is a proven leader, smart, qualified, fearless and capable of governing!

Why have we reduced the position of the most powerful person IN THE WORLD....to their color, gender, or political savvy? Why would we cheer for such foolish statement?

(I've given this a lot of thought!)

It seems that the Presidential vote has been reduced to a popularity contest based on appearance, brief sound bites, glowing words and TONS OF MONEY, regardless of where that money originated.

Hollywood influence has to be inserted here as well.  Our pop culture says our leader should be young, strikingly beautiful, wear designer clothes and, of course, be a certain weight.  Our leader must be witty, with beautiful teeth, and a lovely family.  He or she must be a reflection of how WE want to be!

Wouldn't it be refreshing if the issues became important once again or a person's history of legal and moral accomplishments were displayed without bias?

There are folks out there crying out for such a change. I don't know if this will be the cycle that citizens demand integrity, experience, common sense, and pure motives. I don't know if they are the majority.

If the people interviewed by Jesse Watters is any indication, then probably not! (Those folks have a hard time remembering their own name or where they left their car, let alone the name of their governor or state representative.)

 No doubt there will be people that vote for a woman JUST because she is a woman and somehow that will improve the state of the nation.

We've learned nothing.  After all, it's a chance to make history, right?

I'm turning off the TV and not answering the political calls to my phone.  For now.






Sunday, March 1, 2015

MOURNING TO JOY



How many times have I read the great "Sermon on the Mount?"   I have taught it, studied it, prayed over it and actually read it aloud on that sloping hill where Jesus is thought to have delivered it.

And every time I open the book of Matthew, something new appears.

Today it was verse 4.
"Blessed are they that mourn...."  Matthew 5:4

All my life I've heard that the mourning here meant the sadness a person feels when they've realized the depth and depravity of their own dark heart.  No doubt that is important and included.

But today, Pastor Chuck Swindoll of Stonebriar Community Church gave some added depth to the word.

He explained that this type of mourning was more accurately defined as "passionate lamenting."  It means lamenting over the "WRONG that swirls around us and the WRONG that lies within us."

WRONG brings mourning to the believers spirit.

WOW!  Somehow that helps.  (Because I ALWAYS have to understand!)

That statement explains the terrible sadness I feel when researching the issue of Human Trafficking, when I see children bruised and crying, or young women struggling at the Planned Parenthood centers.

It explains the physical pain that develops in me when friends tell me their divorce is imminent, the cancer has returned, or their child has runaway to join some foolish cult.

It explains my tears when a child has died at the hands of his/her parent, when a person of any religion is beheaded, when complete strangers are captured by thugs on the other side of the world, or when a veteran is abandoned on the streets of America.

It explains the deep sorrow that washes over me when I hear an adult tell me of the abuse they suffered as a child and kept it a secret for 30 years, or when I become aware of family members that refuse to even speak to one another because of some ancient and now forgotten offense.

It explains why  the lies, deceit, backstabbing and greed of our politicians are so offensive.

The definition explains why the foolish philosophies, racism, pride and ignorance that permeate the national conversations are so sickening and cause such grief.

WRONG....What a simple word!

Then there is the mourning for "what could have been" and of course the lamenting that occurs when a loved one leaves us here to grapple with their physical absence.

(I won't even begin to discuss here the wrong that lies within me! That's another article!)

Who mourns?  "Believers that care intensely."

Who does NOT mourn?   I'm sure there are people who do not care what happens beyond the end of their own noses or the noses of their immediate family members.

The good news?  Matthew 5:4b    "They shall be comforted."   BY GOD!  How supernatural is that?

Mourning over WRONG should be a part of life and Jesus says they that participate in it are BLESSED and filled with JOY.

Our world & our culture has lost it's way.  Only GOD can provide LASTING JOY
and TRUE CONTENTMENT.  The God of ALL COMFORT shows up AS we mourn!

CARING--to--MOURNING---to--JOY.       Who knew??   This chapter goes against the world's philosophy of "how to be happy." (Aren't we told to look out for only #1, brush off what doesn't affect us personally, take a pill or a jog or a swig to deaden the view, buy a new car or some other toy, or just look the other way?)

The BOOK says it is God's plan for His people to genuinely and deeply CARE (even to the point of lamenting) about others and situations that are WRONG, experience HIS comfort and then do something to help relieve the suffering!

The benefits are out of this world!




Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SPREAD A LITTLE KINDNESS


This story has been rolling around in my brain long enough!  I have to get it out and in print.

It is just disturbing. The people in this story are unknown by ANYONE that may read this blog. There is NO way to discover their identities so don't even try. And please don't ask!

Get ready.....here it is. True story!

A few months ago a friend that I'd known for a long time died. She struggled with cancer for YEARS, for as long as I knew her.  She'd be in remission a while, then it would rear it's ugly head in another part of her body and another battle would begin. We spent many hours discussing her health, her children, her ex-husband, and her single parent struggles.  There were many.

Her mother and two sisters died of that same awful disease in years gone by, but she was determined to be THE one that made it.  Many forms of treatment were repeated time and time again, but she lost the earthly fight for health and longevity.

She left behind two children, a son in his twenties, a daughter in high school. The children's father had abandoned them when the kids were babies, offering no financial or emotional support during their growing up years. Her son was traumatized the day Dad left and never recovered.  He looked in all the wrong places for affirmation and affection, spending too much time in the pokey and too much money paying fines.  He's serving out a 2 year sentence right now, jailed just one week after his mother's funeral.

The absent father spent his life bumming around taking one low paying job after another. He had no home, no ambition, or job when she died, but tried intermittently to repair his relationship with his teen-age daughter and comfort her in her devastating grief. After her mother's death the daughter chose to stay in her home ALONE with every intent to return to high school. (I'm not sure that was even legal.)

Think it can't get any worse???  It does!

The father decided that even a nearly grown girl was too much responsibility and after a 9 page goodbye letter, he took his own life. 

Think it can't get any worse????

A mutual friend called me to tell me this horrible news and read the obituary in the newspaper to me over the phone.
The father was praised as a God-fearing, extremely successful business man who loved his family more than life.  Yep, lies, all lies, right there in black and white.

Was it necessary to ADD such details?

Everybody that knew the family knew the truth.  I've wondered why such blatant lies were printed. They changed nothing. I'm assuming the man's mother or perhaps a sibling submitted the details, perhaps to somehow lead opinions of this man away from the truth. Perhaps grief clouded
DREAMS from reality.

How much pain can one family endure?

Now, here's the good part.

After her father's death, an old friend of her mother's who also has a teenage daughter in the same high school came for a visit and asked the orphan girl if she would PLEASE come live with them and be part of their family.  She agreed and has begun a new life with this very giving, generous and brave woman. God bless her!!!

Cancer, abandonment, drugs, alcohol, laziness, selfishness, grief, lies, pride, single parenthood, fear, loneliness, and poverty all found their way into this family that started out years ago with such hope and expectations. I don't think this is an isolated case.

Love, sacrifice, courage, and generosity found it's way into the heart of the woman who enlarged her home and offered a new life for a lonely, grief-stricken, confused young girl.   May her tribe increase!

I'm SO impressed by this woman and her actions. Yep, immediate action was sorely needed in this situation.

(The long-range plan is for the teenager to eventually live with a young married cousin.)

There's so much in this story to ponder.  I'm wondering how this would have turned out had that young married couple worked VERY HARD to grow together and keep the family intact. I'm wondering if the extended families could have intervened and helped.Were church friends oblivious to the pain.

 BUT, I don't know the details.  No one truly knows what goes on between a husband and wife except the two parties involved. I will not judge them.

No one knows what goes on in a grief stricken mother's mind.  No one knows what goes on in a teenage girls mind that has lost her whole family....two to death, one to prison.

I DO know people everywhere are hurting!  I also know that some folks have huge hearts of love and don't hesitate to offer it when needed.

I DO know that I need to be kind.  Devastating pain is often so very well hidden behind practiced smiles.

I DO know that I am very thankful and extremely blessed with a loving family and a long history of commitment, determination, sacrifice and reconciliation.

AND a faithful, gracious God that supernaturally holds us all together!

I'm praying for strength and divine intervention for today's young families. They need all the help they can get.
















CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION #1 - DURANGO

DURANGO!  What a great place!  It's beautiful, quirky and fun...AND it is home to the FAB 5 and their parents. They are better known as the  BranerPartyof7.

There is non-stop action at this household! They are thriving and we love it. (We are continually amazed at how Jamie does all she does!) We've suggested that she sell tickets to theses adoring grandparents who get to watch this brood in action!

We've got this Christmas thing, figured out.  In order to see EVERYONE we know and love during Christmas month, we take to the highways and airways, beginning in COLORADO.

Andy, Jamie, Hays, Maggie, Tiki, Dax, & Gabby make up the delightful tribe! Each one is uniquely special and loved obsessively. (They have NO idea how deeply they are loved.)

 We came home with memories of laughter, one-liners, lots of braids, pajama-grams, a BIG doll house, good food, trips to town, new books and books on tape, many SOCKS,  a special church service with Andy preaching, fireplace warmth and SNOW!

And even though we enjoy giving gifts at this time of year, I'm reminded again that "its not the gifts under the tree, but the people around it that are important."

AND even more importantly, the focus on the GREATEST GIFT the world has ever received.....DEITY wrapped up in a baby!

December is GOOD!  We humans NEED to stop and remember and CELEBRATE.

IMMANUEL....God with Us!    That wonder never ceases to amaze!





Tuesday, November 25, 2014

THANKFUL JAR


THANKSGIVING

What a great holiday!  It could be my favorite, right after EASTER!!!

Everyone is giving thanks this week, at least I hope folks are contemplating their blessings.

Our tradition is to take turns telling everyone around the dinner table what we are particularly thankful for from the past year. The responses have ranged from "cranberry sauce" to "new babies" to "health," etc. ALL GOOD....EVERY ONE!

This year I introduced my THANKFUL JAR!

Last January I decided to keep a running record of significant events for 2014.  It's somewhat like a diary but way easier!!!

I took an old pickle jar, painted the top silver, added a silver knob and a chalkboard type label with the date, 2014.  I filled it with blank yellow slips of cardboard stock paper.

WA-LA!  A blessing jar was born! I put it on a shelf in the kitchen within easy reach.

Every time I experienced a happy event, I wrote about it on one of the yellow slips and stuffed it back into the jar.  The original intent was to read ALL the slips of paper on New Years Eve, 2014, starting over again Jan. 1 2015.

BUT...I couldn't wait.

This year we celebrated Thanksgiving Dinner at our house a few days before Turkey Day with  the Dallas Braners.  (the other 1/2 of the family is in Durango, CO frying a turkey!)

I presented my jar and asked everyone to take out a few yellow slips of paper and together we would review my year.  They agreed, although curious.

It was a little scary because I'd long forgotten what had transpired months ago that I may have written about.

BUT, it went very well.  I was able to recall some terrific, sometimes tender, always special days and happenings as we went around the table and they "read" to me, MY YEAR.   I was able to expound on some of the events without boring everyone to death! Those at the table were able to hear about the times THEY were involved in bringing a smile to my face. That was very heart-warming.

After our discussion, all the yellow slips went back into the jar. I'm going to add some more, no doubt, before Jan 31st.

Moral of the story:  I am blessed beyond words!  As Chris Christopherson used to sing,
"What have I ever done? To deserve even one...of the blessings I've known.

There IS no deserving!  It's pure GRACE.  And it's very humbling.






Wednesday, November 19, 2014

INSTANT FORGIVENESS


It's November, one more month left in the year 2014.  I guess now its safe to reveal my "secret!"

This past January I decided to forego the usual "New Years Resolutions."  You know, lose weight, be kind, clean closets, walk for 2 hours every day, climb Mt. Everest, etc.  Those are very good intentions that fall by the wayside about Jan.10th!

This time I made a PROCLAMATION!  Even though it was silent and secret, I was determined to try an experiment that I'd been pondering for years.

Many moons ago (actually about 30  years ago) a very wise friend told me  HER secret to joyous living.  It was so stunning and revolutionary that all I could do was file it away in the deep crevices of my brain matter.  It seemed SO impossible.  Actually I thought she was a little crazy....BUT, she DID have that wild-eyed "who cares" smile on her face ALOT!

THIS was the year I pulled it out of the cobwebs of my brain  to give it a try.

Her suggestion:  "Sharon, practice INSTANT FORGIVENESS until it becomes a habit."

WHAT?  Instant Forgiveness??  How can ANYONE possibly do that???

I'm delighted to announce.  It works!

There are so many cliches out there that probably feed into this thought process.  Statements like;
"Everybody is hurting," "Walk  a mile in their shoes before judging,"  "Be kind for all folks are dealing with something hard," etc.....   All are very good sentiments.

BUT, I am basically lazy and forget all those sentiments so try as hard as I could I still found myself with hurt feelings, self-pitiful moments, seething anger, etc.

It is SO much easier to just FORGIVE right there ON THE SPOT and move on!

Most folks don't even realize they have hurt you and would NEVER do so intentionally.  AND I'm sure I've left a trail of pain in my path, unknowingly and certainly without predetermined malice.

That's humanity at it's best.  (Let's don't even mention humanity at it's worst!)

This has been the healthiest emotional year for me for a long time. (Even though we've had some life changing experiences.)

Psychiatrists could have a field day with this I'm sure! There would probably be predictions of future health and mental problems for "stuffing it," and not expressing myself often enough, not getting it off my chest,  not telling people exactly how I feel, not letting anyone get away with insulting me, not being honest, etc.

BUT, for now I'm singing the praises of  INSTANT FORGIVENESS!

Nothing is so FREEING!  I have more time, energy, love, compassion and SMILES.

Sounds almost BIBLICAL, doesn't it??? Why did it take me 30 years to give this a whirl???




Tuesday, November 18, 2014

MARRIAGE ANYONE?

Wow!  This is an oldie, but goodie!

I opened a basket today and there hidden away were several small picture albums.  You know, the kind we made BEFORE our iphones stored pictures in something called a cloud and before those fancy Shutterfly books that are SO fun to craft.  The basket was full of REAL pictures.  So, naturally everything on my "to do" list came was thrown to the wind as I sat down and mentally WALKED down memory lane!

This picture was taken 10+ years ago.  (Why didn't I put dates on the back of all these old photos?)

As I recall, it was a VERY special weekend. It was the Christmas Season that we invited friends and family to our house to attend the  Prestonwood Baptist Church Christmas Extravaganza!  AND THEY CAME!

Right to left:   Eddie and Linda Braner from Illinois, Jim and Deanna Beck from Houston, TX, Dianne and Pastor Bill Edwards from Illinois and us!  We lived in Plano, TX at the time and had driven out to Frisco to admire the "western" artifacts placed there.  This very "uncovered" covered wagon was the backdrop for this historic picture. I think we just grabbed a passerby and asked if he would snap this photo.  (I do that EVERYWHERE I go, people are always happy to oblige.)

The weekend was full of fun and laughter and we made some terrific memories.

BUT, what strikes me most about this picture today is not the memories of the holiday festivities we all enjoyed.

What impresses me today can be summed up in one word, STRENGTH!  These marriages are some of the strongest ones I know.  These couples have been through some bumps and some valleys, BUT not once has their commitment or love dimmed.  They are beautiful examples to all that know them.
They're in it for the long haul and their rewards are immense.

They have known breath-taking joys and heart-breaking pain.  They're scarred up a little and once in a while they still wobble through some issues. But there is no doubt that they will be victorious together.  Not. One. Doubt!

So what's the common denominator? How do men and women learn to do life together without killing each other?  You've got to admit, the sexes are vastly different in just about every aspect of humanity.  As I heard from one young person the other day, "sometimes love just isn't enough!"

I've analyzed it!  (You knew I would!)

The only thing I can come up with is that each one pictured...........knows and loves God.
Deeply!

Oh, not the god idea of Hollywood, superstition or popular opinion, BUT the GOD of the Bible.

They know the REAL DEAL!  They know how to  worship Him, silently and steadfastly.  They have a very healthy respect, high view and reverent fear of Him. They are NOT perfect but they have experienced perfect GRACE.  Their very personal relationship with the Sovereign Creator of the Universe puts this fleeting lifespan into  its proper perspective.

I'm so thankful they let us into their lives, the good and the not-so-good times.  They show us all how it's done.

And I'm very thankful for this picture today!  What a sweet, sweet reminder that good strong marriages are ABSOLUTELY possible in a culture that tries to tell us otherwise.

Any young whippersnappers curious?  These folks have some answers!