Friday, December 30, 2016

"the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon, little boy blue and the man in the moon..."

As I was putzing about in my kitchen today, a song came on the radio. "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin always makes me stop to pause and ponder. The lyrics are so significant to me, the older I get, the more the words cry out. When I first heard the song, I was about ten years old. Although I liked it and would sing along, the impact of those words didn't truly hit me at that time. Hey, I was only TEN! Today, as I stood there stirring the food I had cooking, I bawled. I mean, runny nose, couldn't even talk bawled!

I will be 54 years old in a few months. I am past the halfway point in my life. When my own firstborn son turned 16, I listened to this song and yes, it spoke to me then, of a boy becoming too busy growing up to take time to talk to his father. I switched "dad" to "mom", and the words still haunt me. The last lyrics speak of a now grown man whose kids are too sick and his job keeping him too busy to come home. My own son is now the same: a fourth child on the way, his job keeps him busy and I have moved three hours from him. I think of him often, of his own struggles, cheers and responsibilities and yes, he's grown up just like me. My boy is just like me.

I am so proud.

And I cry.

I think about the Holy Family at this time of the year, especially also, with Christmas just a few days past. Of how Joseph was pretty much lured into the plans that God had for him and, with nothing more than faith to guide him, he too watched as Jesus was born, grew from a small boy to a young man and then...?

Scripture doesn't tell us anything more than that and I wonder, why? Scripture DOES tell us, however that Mary pondered on all these things, treasuring them within her heart. As a mom, I fully understand this as well. And now, as I grow older, I treasure them even more than ever. If I could have a wish, I'd wish for the times when my kids were still very young; the days when we'd play in the sandbox, when we'd snuggle at night reading the book, "I Love You Forever," the days we'd go out once a month and eat pizza at a restaurant and they would tell me all their secrets. I'd want this because, for me, that was the greatest triumph of my life: watching my kids grow, nurturing them, even on those days when they'd be grumpy and want to sleep in on a school day, or the days when I'd nag them to do homework or take out the trash and yes, the days when they'd be too sick to eat and I'd fret as I wiped their fevered brows.

As the new year approaches, my only wish now is for the time to slow down a little bit more so that I can treasure the moments with my kids even as they continue to grow and move forward in their lives.

May God be with you all...and go hug that child of yours, even if they are all grown up.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

you can be a Christmas tree!

I think the above graphic tells it all. It is so easy to try and be something we are not. The world is full of people who are full of themselves. It is sad when they cannot look around them to see that there are those who are running on empty, especially at holiday time, when everything around us is so magnified. If we are not living out the details of a Hallmark movie, then our lives must be in vain. I am sure you have felt this way also. The best way to bring joy to others is to just be yourself. At the risk of appearing foolish, you may be surprised to realize that there are those who wish they only had the courage to do so! Go ahead and blaze that trail and be the light for someone who needs that illumination this season. Don't stop the day after Christmas, either. If you look around you, pain knows no season. June 21st can be the same as December 26th, which could also be April 5th. The point is, be aware of who needs and angel and then, go do it! 

And as the caption finishes, "it's okay to be a little tilted." After all, Linus said it best in "A Charlie Brown Christmas:" "it wasn't such a bad tree, all it needed was a little love!" 

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

are you a humble do-er?

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

John 1:5-10

I think a lot about John the Baptist, one of the most important prophets of our time, yet also one of the most humble. Upon readying Jesus for His baptism, he told Jesus how he wasn't fit to baptize Our Lord, yet Jesus instructed him to do it anyway. John knew that his mission was an important one.   
"I baptize you with water for repentance but after me comes one who is more powerful than I; whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire!" Matt 3:11

Let's finish that thought:  "Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17

John knew his mission and carried it out. Next thing he knows, a Voice from heaven cries out, giving all praise to Jesus...was that right? Jesus? Now, John could have had his moment, too. He could have given himself that proverbial pat on the back, puffed up his chest and said, "well, you know, God, I DID have something to do with this also! Where's MY glory??"
But he didn't. he went on, baptizing people, doing the work he knew he was meant for.
Then he was imprisoned...beheaded...
and all for spreading the news about Jesus.
Huge sigh.
Have you ever been in a situation such as this? You do all of the prep work and someone else comes along and steals your thunder. what to do, what to do, right?
Be gracious anyway. Be humble anyway. If you look at life and science, a river has to get its start from somewhere. A building begins with the basement, located deep underground. A museum is awesome in its architecture, but no one goes to the underground, points and responds with, "ah, yes, look at the bricks and mortar there, they have an important job to do and we are all here to pay homage to it."
I say, do it anyway. Be the bricks, the mortar, the one who works hard, yet receives very little recognition. Do what you must because it is the RIGHT thing to do, not because you'll receive an award along with a splash on the TV news, just do it because somewhere, someone needs a hero right about now. Somewhere, someone needs and advocate and being an advocate may not always be the popular job, it may not win you any brownie points, heck, you just may end up between a rock and a hard place like John the Baptist was...but just do it because you know, in your heart of hearts that it is the RIGHT thing to do.
"but when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your giving may be done in secret. And your father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you." Matt 6:4

Sunday, November 20, 2016

where does your power lie?

During Oprah's speech at the "Life You Want" tour, she quotes Glinda, the Good Witch from, "The Wizard of Oz," in that fabulous moment when Glinda banishes the Wicked Witch of the West with this line: "You have no power here!"

Oprah was talking about how important it is in your lives to be cognizant of where you have power, and where you do not. She said that so much of the stress and pain we bring into our lives comes from trying to interfere in other people's energy fields — trying to meddle in domains where we simply have no power.

The truth, of course, is that the only energetic domain in which you have any power is your own. You don't have power over your spouse, over your parents, over your neighbors, over your co-workers. Even regarding your own children, there will come a moment when you realize that you no longer have any power over their energetic domain (and for most parents I know, that moment comes a lot sooner than they are expecting it, and is often a shocker) And trying to hold power (even with the best of intentions) over other people's lives will bring you — and them — nothing but suffering.

Then I heard Pastor Rob Bell speak about the same topic, when a woman in the audience came to him for advice, asking, "How can I bring my mother along on my spiritual journey?" This woman was in obvious distress, saying that she'd had such extraordinary breakthroughs in her own spiritual growth, and how she desperately wanted her mother to experience all this grace and liberation, as well, but her mother was stuck and depressed and resistant to change. You could see it was breaking the daughter's heart, and all she wanted to do was bring light and goodness to her mother's life somehow, but clearly it wasn't working. And it was making the daughter suffer horribly — just when she should be enjoying her own growth and evolution.
Rob Bell spoke to this anguished woman so eloquently about how — again — you do not have power in other people's domains. You can love them, but you cannot fix them or control them. Rob said, "I think 75% of the problems and suffering I see in people could be alleviated if they could just be made to understand that they cannot change others — indeed, that they are not even SUPPOSED to change others."

Ask yourself how much of the pain you suffer in life is because of something you wish somebody else would be, or do, or fix, or transform. Your friend who needs to stop drinking. Your brother who needs to get a job. Your mother who can't let go of her bitterness and rage. Your father who can't open his heart to love. Your daughter who can't stay in a relationship for more than six months. Your son who needs to change his diet and move to a new city and find a good church and get away from those bad-influence friends of his. Your best friend who needs to discipline her unruly children. Your neighbor who needs to realize how her own unresolved emotional pathologies are causing her to stay miserable and broken. Your nephew who needs to leave that horrible woman. Your cousin who needs to get counseling for her gambling. Your college roommate who needs to stop letting men use her. You boss who needs to learn how to meditate. And so on, and so on and so on and so on...

The fact is: You're probably right. All those people may indeed need to make exactly those changes. Obviously, their lives would be better for it. Any fool can see that.

But it's not your domain.

And meanwhile, you're leaking energy, when what you really need to be focusing on is your own power, your own life (which is hard enough to manage, and has its own set of problems that really require your full any fool can see.)

I have been guilty of this forever. I have a history of getting deeply, profoundly, aggressively over-involved in other people's energy fields — losing sleep and peace over my worry and judgment about other people's lives. (Or, rather, I should say, losing sleep and peace over MY PERCEPTION of other people's lives.) Getting involved where I have no power. Neglecting my own growth and development because I'm too busy minding somebody else's business. Making myself sick with anger or disappointment or sorrow or frustration over how somebody else has behaved. Often destroying relationships because I go around messing where I have no right to be messing. (I don't care if it's out of love and concern — I still have no right to be making myself crazy by getting involved in somebody else's energy field.)
But now I have this new mantra in my head, one of the best lessons of the whole Oprah tour: "YOU HAVE NO POWER HERE, Diane!"

You have no power in their domain.
You have no power in their energy field.
You have no power over their choices.
You have enough trouble (I remind myself) managing your OWN energy field. So focus on the one person in the world you can somewhat control (YOURSELF) and stay the heck out of their business!

And if somebody is trying to mess around in your domain, gently but firmly remind them (or at least remind yourself): "You have no power here."
Then go on about your way, in peace.

We must love each other. We must be kind to each other. We must be generous in act and spirit with each other. But for the sake of grace and sanity, WE MUST LET EACH OTHER BE. (Or else somebody might drop a house on you, too — as our friend, Glinda would warn with a smile!)

Friday, November 11, 2016

are you casting stones...?

"Starry, starry night," a painting created in 1889 by Vincent van Gogh, depicts a night scene filled with stars. those same stars that we also see at night, untouched since the beginning of time! Doesn't that just fill your heart with wonder and awe?

Early this morning, I stepped outside to a dark world. The  almost full moon had set and the stars twinkled like diamonds in the cold sky. As I meditated on that beauty, it occurred to me that those stars were also meditated upon by everyone in history going back many many years. The saints the apostles, the disciples of Jesus saw them, Moses probably used the constellations to guide him into the Promised Land. People in all corners of the world are viewing what I am viewing.

And all is right in the world.

From a distance, we all are doing OK. It is only when one gets real close up that the scars show through. But have no fear or doubts, please. God uses us in ways that are miraculous to behold, He uses us for good...even those who seem to have the worst blemishes from our past, God uses those scars, stains and sins for the greater good of us all.

Look at the Apostle Paul, known also as St. Paul; he was on his way to persecute the new Christians when he was stopped by a Voice...blinded by a Light that rendered him unable to see, the Voice from heaven asked him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?" The revelation from this experience turned Saul into Paul, who became a zealot for the Christian faith...indeed, he suffered so much for what he did, yet without his passion for the Lord, where would our faith be today?

 God called upon Peter, remember Peter, now also known as St. Peter? he who denied Jesus three times went on to become "the Rock" of the Church.

Jesus called on tax collectors. Matthew, remember him? He wrote a Gospel all about Jesus.

Jesus called on women...prostitutes!...Jewish women, Samaritan women...keep in mind how SCANDALOUS this was back then, plus these women were considered cast-offs from society for their misdeeds, yet Jesus approached them, forgiving them, then asking them to "come, follow me!"

No matter what any one of us have done IN OUR PAST, Jesus looks beyond our sins and calls us to a new future with Him!!! Isn't that wonderful? We are loved unconditionally...that past is not tossed back in our faces or splashed on the news night after night...after night.

So if Jesus can do that...then why can't WE? when we hear a piece of news about whomever, be it celebrity, politician or friend, why can't we turn off the "spin" and embrace the sinner?

"WHO among you is sin free?" I know that I am not. There are things that, if I were running for political office, could probably be thrown at me. I know I would feel ashamed to see it splashed all over. But we need to consider the present. If one repents of their sins, it is forgiven. Gone! Done! Over! To have it handed back at us through whatever means possible only stirs up a potion of hate, disregard and unworthiness.

I implore you...let's look BEYOND a person's past, let us PLEASE adopt a forgiving heart!

Mother Teresa (now Saint Mother Teresa) said it best, "I am just a little pencil in the hand of God!" This should be our mantra for today--and tomorrows beyond that. If you are God's pencil, God doesn't write junk, He doesn't hold pasts sins against you and He most assuredly would not wish to cause you pain, harm and humiliation.
God wouldn't...
so why would we?

May you have a wonderfully blessed day! May God be with guide your steps and grant you His peace!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

do you see the world in its simplicity?

if only we could stop and appreciate the beauty of the world around us, as children do, our lives could be so much better for it!

Last week, my husband took his pickup truck to an organization who works with the disabled, giving them job opportunities they otherwise would not have. In addition to washing vehicles, they also deliver newspaper ad inserts, among other things.

There was an older gentleman there who has the sweetest personality and who, if he feels it is warranted, will write you out a "ticket." As he does so, he will expound on the reasons why you are getting that "ticket" with admonishments of how you can avoid it in the future. Thus it was that my husband had been served!
I looked at the yellow legal pad note that he had received. It was a series of scrawls with an occasional number three, the number was the "fine" that he had imposed upon you. That ticket is on display on my refrigerator.

To me, it was the sweetest gesture I had ever come across. I often wonder about labels, why someone is given a label of mental disability when, to them, they are the most able people that you will ever meet. Sometimes I would like to get inside of the head of these folks, what do they think? How do they regard this world in which we read the news and are witness to some of the most horrendous acts against humanity, while these folks just see what is right in front of them and accept it on faith.

There is a young gal at the school where I work who has Down's Syndrome. It has taken me almost a year to elicit any conversation out of her, but now, when she sees me, she gives me a shy smile, or a thumbs up. Her gentle spirit buoys me; indeed, she is MY inspiration. She probably doesn't lay awake at night with a thousand things flitting through her mind, things that include world peace or the lack of it, balancing a checkbook that is being battered by the increasing cost of just surviving and more. No, she just knows that today she is going to school and she will choose which barrette to put into her blond hair, what shirt will she put on? What will the lunch lady be serving for lunch? And while others may make behind the back comments about these special people, I hold them dear within my heart.

"Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them for the Kingdom of heaven is for such as these." Mark 10:13

My own sister had Downs' Syndrome. She died too young and took a part of me with her. I think back to my growing up years, when I didn't understand why she was as she was. It wasn't until I was 25 and she, 18, that we became best friends. She always had a joy of life that I envied. When she passed away at age 25, those who attended her funeral, her friends, the ones who also had developmental disabilities, were quick to comfort me. I felt as if I should have been doing more to comfort them.

The labels that society sets upon all of us do not do any of us justice. Black, white, Catholic, Protestant, gay, straight and more just puts us in compartments, a box that we must struggle to free ourselves from. What makes me any different from you...or from that gentleman who spent his time writing out those "tickets?" He may see the world differently than I do, but that should not make him different.

God made us all in His own likeness and image. All of us. Yet since the beginning of time, wars have been fought and people fleeing in exile, just so that they can live out their lives. What will it take before we finally take off those glasses of superiority and just accept one another for who we are?

There but for the grace of God...go you and I.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

"accepted?" Jesus says "yes!"

A friend that I know recently began attending a new church. After a couple of weeks, he told me that he thought that he "would be accepted as it seemed promising." I smiled and wished him well, but a nagging thought occurred to me: "he was waiting to see if he would be accepted?" Accepted?

Didn't Jesus come and give up His life so that ALL would be saved? Didn't he admonish His disciples to "go therefore and make disciples of ALL nations...?" (Matthew 28:19). Didn't He tell us "all who are weary come to Me and I will give you rest?" (Matthew 11:28). Yet here was my friend, "waiting to be accepted!"

My friends, Jesus is here today, will be tomorrow and can be counted on for all of eternity. What He is waiting for is for YOU to come to Him, warts and all! Warts and ALL! If we were to wait to be cleansed from sin before we approach His table, we'd probably never get there!

This is the same Jesus who ate with tax collectors! He called Zacchaeus down from the tree that he was straddling just so that he could get a better look at Jesus: "I am having dinner at your house tonight!" Zacchaeus was told. (Luke 19:1-10).

He even spoke to women and many women followed Him, yes, even on His painful last walk to Calvary. This did not endear him to the scribes and Pharisees of the day, but Jesus didn't come to impress them, His mission was to call people to His Father and call them He did!

If you feel God's call within your heart, it is my hope and prayer that you are welcomed wherever you go. A church is not some fancy restaurant in which you need a tux and tie to get in. "Come to me, all who are burdened and I will give you rest!" Find a place that is hospitable to not only you, but to anyone who may cross its path. Find your place at the Lord's Supper. Find yourself in Good Hands, the Hands that bore those nails so that you could have eternal life.

"I am the Way...and the Truth...and the Life. He who comes to Me shall not perish but shall have life and have it abundantly!" (John 14:6)

May you be blessed today!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

life is---amazing!

  Rejoice always pray without ceasing! In everything, give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thess 5:16-18)

We have over-complicated prayer! Prayer is simply talking with and listening to God. Most of us have the talking part down, the listening part--not so much!

Lately my life has been a whirlwind. Earlier this year my husband and I gave up our sweet home, the one with deer (who ate my hostas and only MY hostas, though my neighbor had so much more than I did!) and the huge yard to move in with his parents. His dad was very ill and it was our mission to help them. Unfortunately his father passed away only four days after our move in. It was just his mom now and I made sure to keep her as comfortable as possible.
We spent all summer updating her 70 year old house. Believe me, it is NOT like you see on TV! The dust! The noise! Trying to keep things under control while maintaining a normal daily life...YIKES! It is ongoing.

Then a gal whom my husband had known since she was a child passed away suddenly. More stress. More sorrow. Work began for me once more with the arrival of a new school year. More stress. My husband's health, which has never been great, began to decline. There were whispers of the big, bad C word. Much more stress. Thankfully it wasn't cancer, but instead a narrowed esophagus and COPD. Now lifestyle choices would need to be moderated. Inwardly, I fell apart, first in fear...then in relief. My mom in law left for warmer climes in California and then.....finally, for the first time in ten months--silence.

I walked through a house that will be reasonably silent for the next six months. I looked at the work left undone. I thought about what has happened this year...such a roller coaster ride...and prayed. "Lord God...please...let me off!"

And for the first time this year, I caved in to my emotions. I cried. Not the tiny tears of when I had heard of my husband's potential health disaster, oh no. Then I had to "be strong!" Then I tried to "be still...and know that I am God!" I tried so hard to look for signs that I was being heard and found it in his "second chance miracle" (or is it third now? Long story there!) No, this time I bawled. I cried. I let out sobs of....of what? Frustration? Relief? Afterwards, I felt like a snow globe that was shaken to the point of a hurricane...and then like sand that had been dropped from an hourglass. Empty. Just so empty.

And then a still quiet Voice within me said, "'s all over. Try to get some sleep." And I did.

In all of the maelstrom that has been my life, I have known that God IS there. God IS with us. I talk to Him all the time. I sometimes wonder if perhaps He feels about me as I did this past year especially...."oh my, that gal AGAIN?!" and like any parent would, takes a big sigh and once again comes to my aid.

This is where we turn to Scripture to know just how much God loves us! He comes to the aid of His people time after time...after time. We are told to "be like little children." We are admonished to "wait upon the Lord." We are comforted in the 23rd Psalm: "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want..." Amazingly enough, that realization came from a young shepherd boy, probably no older than 12 or 13, who sat alone with his sheep all throughout the warm months...what else could he do but to pray, right? "And a little child shall lead them..."

God is NOT some vending machine, you don't just plug in a request and get what you want. As the song goes, "if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need..." but you can't always get what you want. What I have found out from my 53 years of living is that the song is right, you don't always get your own way...and quite frankly why would you even want to? Studies have shown that lottery winners, after the initial rush of winning, usually end up being just the way they were only one year later--after spending all of that cash, they are who they were before. It is BECAUSE of the struggles that we endure that we become better (or hopefully that is the outcome.) "Yay, I just won 50 thousand dollars! I think I'll buy ______." But soon it gets old, it breaks, it loses its luster.

In my life, I look back and know that although I have not won a money lottery, when it comes to what has transpired thus far, the pain as well as the joy, I have won a far better lottery than I could have hoped for: Someone who loves me, Who hears me and Who is right beside me, in all of the pain and dreck as well as the joys and rainbows that come along with it. Back in the eighties, Foreigner had a song, "I Want to Know What Love is." It is a song about someone who yearns to feel love, to be loved. I have substituted God in the words: "I wanna know what love is, I want You to show me, I wanna feel what Love is, I know You can show me..." It is a beautiful song, with a choir singing the refrain, sung with all of the emotions of one who has been searching...searching and has finally found peace.

In your own life, don't ever give up the search, the yearning. Because God is right there, of that you can be certain. You want to know what Love is? Just ask
Him, reach out for Him. It is yours for the taking.

Monday, September 19, 2016

a pumpkin tale

This is a story about a compost pile that sat in the edge of a townhome complex. Every summer, the pile grew higher with old plant matter, grass clippings, tree limbs, and finally in the fall, leaves and other detritus that people tossed there. Before the snow arrived, the maintenance crews from the complex would use a Bobcat to push the pile over a large hill where it was left to slumber during the heavy snows of winter.

One summer, I noticed what appeared to be a vine slowly taking root in and around the ever growing pile of leftovers. I was unsure of what kind of vine it was and assumed it must have been some type of weed that decided to take root there. This pile was within sight distance of my townhouse, but I just passed by it most days without a second thought.

Then came the day in late September when I noticed several orange balls among the vine. Assuming it was from the children who played in my neighborhood, I went to rescue what I thought were just lost playground toys. Instead, I found a sweet surprise: there, nestled in the vine, were several good sized pumpkins! It must have been leftovers from the previous autumn when people tossed the jack o'lanterns they had carved for Halloween. And no one else knew they were growing here! My luck. Now that pile of compost really had my attention! Despite the poor growing conditions, the lack of care and constant nurturing, those pumpkins flourished. Finally several weeks later I was able to bring home three pumpkins, each the size of a basketball and once more, the cycle of carving out scary jack o'lantern faces began, followed by the eventual tossing of the spent pumpkins back to the compost pile once more.

I tell you this story because it is a metaphor for the lives of many people. There are those who live in less than favorable conditions. Maybe it's an alcoholic mother, an absent father. Maybe it's growing up poor, or being bullied throughout school. Maybe it is anything that you can think of that brings discomfort. However, you can choose to bloom where you are planted! Yes! Despite adversity, you have the power within you to be the best "pumpkin" in your patch of life. You don't need permission from anyone. All you need is that resilience and mindset that despite this, you will thrive. I know of many people who have done so. Your life is YOUR responsibility. No one else can live it for you. I know there are times when all seems lost, I know this because I have lived this for the first 45 years of my life. But just like that vine, growing in less than favorable conditions, I have found that I can be the best pumpkin in the patch...and just as I found those pumpkins and brought them home, so someone special also found me and took me to his heart. He made me believe in myself when I was at my lowest point.

Look in the mirror. Tell yourself that you are strong, you are smart and you are IMPORTANT! Raise yourself up to be the best that you can be. Then there, but for the grace of God, (plus a few good friends and family...) goes you!

May God bring you an abundance of peace and joy today!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

in gratitude for the simple things....

A certain subway sandwich chain hands out receipts with a survey website printed on the back. If you participate in the survey, you get a code that will allow you a free cookie. Any cookie of your choice! Ahhhh...who does NOT like free!

I am all about the simple things in life. Here I am, in my early 50's and suddenly, those fancy women's magazine covers just don't entice me anymore. "Flat abs!" one screams out. Another tells me how I can achieve happiness in just four easy steps! Or how I can be a millionaire in six easy weeks. All of the celebrity magazines show supposedly happy people with the flat abs we desire living it up in seaside mansions.....but are those pictures deceiving? Are they who have anything they want at their beck and call really any happier than you or I?

Believe me, in this life, nothing is easy. We live, we laugh, we also cry. We fall down, sometimes not so gracefully. Some stay down, as if protecting themselves from further blows. Others get up, scarred and maybe scared, but go on they must.

Psalm 119:37 ESV 

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
Can you see how in the bigger scope of things that vanity and all that goes with it is NOT the secret to being happy? A fancy car, a 2500 square foot house? And those flat abs? It takes more than a 'six pack abdomen' to BE a friend to someone else. Sure, looks usually gain attention, but I have known many "beautiful on the outside" people whose insides really needed work. I have also known folks all throughout my life who, on the outside, many would not have paid them more than scant notice, but who really truly were awesome individuals.

Ecclesiastes 2:11 ESV

Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

How about you? Do you judge a person based on looks? Income? Fancy car? If so, you may have passed up a  chance to notice the ones who live on the margin: the homeless, addicted, people of another race/religion/creed or even thought! Jesus sought out those who lived "on the margin" and was castigated over it many times. That did not stop Him from being the example that we all need to follow.

1 Samuel 16:7 ESV 

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

I don't yearn for luxury homes, vacations or even three hours a day to practice my sit ups. Too much attention paid to myself and my needs takes me away from those who may need my attention more. Phil Collins produced a thoughtful song about people in need who were being ignored. It described homeless people who just wanted someone to hear them, yet everyone chose to walk away. "Another Day in Paradise." If you have the time, give it a listen, it may invoke feelings in you that you haven't realized before.  click here to listen

Romans 12:2 ESV

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
My husband and I have taken on a "small" home improvement project. We are installing a walk-in shower. A tub is no longer safe for me to step in and out of due to my knees being replaced a few years ago. Being without an actual shower these past few days and needing to clean up in a sink instead really humbles me. I think about those who have no homes, no showers, and even places that have no clean running water. I am grateful for the simple things such as having a shower in a home. I am truly blessed. No set of "six pack" abs can gratify me such as the thought that not only am I blessed, but that I must SHARE that blessing with all whom I encounter. All that I have is not mine, but mine to give away with those who may need it more. And in the midst of my prayers of gratitude, I wonder....what if? Why am I in this here and now while another suffers? And again, in gratitude, I give thanks to God once more.

Matthew 16:26 ESV

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

how long before our children know peace?

Several days ago, an image splayed all over the five thirty news. It was the image of a four year old boy, bruised and bloodied, being carried to an ambulance. His body was so dirty, his hair so matted...but what broke my heart was the vacant stare that simply screamed, "help me!" His tiny legs just barely stuck out over the edge of the seat. He could have been my child...or your child, except that we don't live in war torn areas. This child is the innocent product of a five year long battle in Syria. But it could also have been  from a war anywhere at any time in history. Children are always the innocent victims. Children are always caught in the crossfire. In short, it is always the child who pays.

I will not go into the political aspects of this war. Hasn't there already been enough of "my side is better than YOUR side!" lately? When I view the image of that face...or for that matter, the body laying so innocently on the shore last year, the body of a toddler who was swept off the boat his family was escaping war in, only to be carried out to sea, my mind goes back to another time in history when even the Son of God was also targeted as a helpless child and fled to live in exile until the political tides had changed.

It is always the child who pays. Children don't start wars. They don't shoot up neighborhoods. They don't do drugs...or drink to oblivion. They don't take sides in a heated divorce battle. All a child wants is to feel safe, secure and to be loved. Yet for centuries, they are the ones who suffer from a lack of security, all due to the greed or power struggles or addictions that consume adults.

Take a look again at that photo. We have in America so many communities screaming about justice or the lack of it. They will stop at nothing to continue the violence by destroying neighborhoods, firebombing stores, looting from businesses that had absolutely nothing to do with the initial onslaught. America is practically a war zone unto itself. While we draw lines in the sand, innocent children are being shot. While we scream about injustice, tonight a mother grieves for her child who was killed in the crossfire. While those who protest by shutting down freeways chant, kids go to bed hungry because mom or dad just used their paycheck to get high.

And God weeps over our sad choices.

You and I are in this mess. Is it enough to shake our heads and walk away? What can we do to stop the madness? What have you done to demonstrate how to be peace-filled? It is NOT enough to sit in church on Sunday and claim to be holy! Words without actions mean NOTHING! Look at that child in the photo, I mean....really look....then...go and DO something. Because that child is every child. That child was treated in a hospital. He has siblings and parents. But his future remains uncertain, why? He has lived all of his life in a war torn country that shows no signs of stopping its carnage.

 Here in America also, due to greed, lies and power struggles, our own children are also living in fear. This needs to stop. Even if all you do is to help one person, that is one less person who is in pain.

May God bless us and show us His mercy. Now...go spread His peace to all you meet.

Monday, August 8, 2016

can past hurts bring a positive outcome?

This post is dedicated to a gal whose past life was difficult for even the most hardened people to comprehend. Born to a mother whose descent into the drug filled world created turmoil within this young girl's life, she grew up to understand that the world held nothing for her except pain, disappointment, sorrow and finally- anger.

It was quite by chance that she met up with someone in her older years who, for a brief few years in her younger life, provided her with solace. After he left, due to a breakup with her mother, once again her world  turned to a bleakness that seemed to have no future.

I was apprehensive at first about this online meeting about five years ago only because her e-mails were full of hurt, anger and pain. It was only after she realized that the one who had given her that brief bit of light in her youth had been, in fact, searching for her again all along that her whole demeanor changed.She was hungry for love and acceptance. To know that out there was someone who held her in high esteem gave her a boost upwards to better things. She looked at the world around her--and decided that she would change it!

Gone was the anger and bitterness, put instead towards helping other youths who had been in her situation; youths who go from foster home to foster home due to no real fault of their own other than the fact that their mothers were arrested for drug use and the child(ren) had nowhere else to go. Once in "the system," they were bounced around for months or years until they were released...only to repeat this pattern quite often. She wrote a book about her life ("lil girl woman's journey into meth as seen through the eyes of a little girl" see book at ) and although at the time she didn't have the courage to have her name set into print, still, she spoke out about and for changing a system that she was all too familiar with.

That in turn, lead to other things. She adopted two young girls, one of whom sadly died from a heart condition. This prompted her to support St Jude's Research Hospital, in the hopes that other children suffering the same fate could be cured of it. ( Then she went even further and began working with the ReMoved Project, an organization that reaches out to children who become "lost" in the foster care system. (see Again she reached out and because she had walked that horrible path, was able to step up and help others.

I tell you all of this only because I see so many people who use their sad circumstances in life to blame others. To say, "well, if not for THIS circumstance from my past, I wouldn't be THAT way!" I see how others are bitter, angry or worse to justify the pain they have gone through. "If I wasn't abused, I wouldn't be a drug user now!" If I wasn't hurt, bullied, poor, black, ..... _______" (fill in the blank).

My friend, you need to do away with those negative words! "If  only..." is just an excuse to say, "I don't care!" It's another way to somehow get around being a positive force of change.

I can tell you from experience myself that my life was very hard, you know this if you have been keeping up with my posts. Yet I turned that train around and hope that by inspiring others to be a positive force of change that someday we can all look around and see a much better world, or at least our own corner of it.
All it takes is a willing heart and a joy-filled spirit to be the change! Just because crap happened to you doesn't mean that you need to carry it around forever! You are an adult with free why make life harder than to needs to be? For example, your mother was abusive, I get that, truly I do! However, do YOU also need to be an angry, vengeful person?

This gal that I described passed away last month. My heart grieves that her time on earth was way too short. However, the legacy that she has left behind can continue and will....if only because she was able to look beyond her own pain and see others needs instead. May God be with you, will never be forgotten.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

the detours in life

My little town on the prairie is undergoing major road work this summer, resulting in several detours. Just to be able to cross one intersection means taking a four mile detour! I was taking my mother in law to a hairstylist appointment in the next town and so, had to detour. Inside, I was in a grumbling mood, thinking how silly it was to do that rather than just have one lane available for cars to go through.

As I drove, I took in the sights: corn about six foot tall, was waving on the breeze. The sun was out, storm clouds from the previous night disappearing quickly. Then as I came to a four way stop, I saw it: sunflowers! A huge crop of sunflowers, their heads turned towards the sun.

How can you see that and not feel thankful?

My grumbly mood disappeared rather quickly as I cheered on those flowers!

How many of us have detours in our lives? Some can be rather petty as a roadblock, but others are mountainous. A co-worker of mine sat at a hospital yesterday, awaiting word about her husband, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer. In her words, a massive tumor plus his kidney were removed. Now my friends, THAT is a detour! The unknown always scares me and I am sure she was and still is driving through the fog, hoping for that "field of sunflowers" moment.

Jesus also had his detours. He showed us that when a detour happens, we must go to God in prayer. Lazarus died. Jesus wept and prayed. Over 5000 people who were assembled to see him were hungry. Again Jesus prayed and fed them. A wedding feast ran out of wine, a major least to the family hosting the event. Jesus turned ordinary water into wine and thereby the feast was saved. In a detour there was also HOPE---hope that soon we'd be back on the road we know so well!

Turn your heads towards God, just as sunflowers always turn towards the sun. He knows about your detours and is always there to guide you, if you allow Him to. Never fear a roadblock or detour, for sometimes, the best sights are where you'd least expect them to be.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

empathy goes a long way....

 a journey begins with but a single step.....whose journey are you walking today?

The news regarding racial tensions has not been good with very sad, very serious outcomes. My heart grieves for the pain, the loss and the uncertainty of the times we live in. The black community cries out how the Caucasian community doesn't care. Of how white people supposedly have it so much better.

What I need to ask you is, "how do you see others who do not share your skin color? Your religion? Your economic status? If you could walk in the shoes of another, who would you choose...and why?"

I see it this way: remember that school yard bully? The one who picked on you or stole your lunch or took your lunch money or any of a number of sad incidents? Do you remember the fear? The anxiety? The sleepless nights worrying about what tomorrow would bring?

That must be something of what those in the minority feel also on a much larger scale.

I hear reports of what terrorist rebels do in other parts of the world. Even the US waits for yet another attack such as what befell Orlando...or New York City. We wait...we pray, "not again!" we are on guard. "Why do THEY pick on US?" we ask. "What have WE done to generate so much hate from them?"

OK, now, take away those terrorists...and substitute what is happening in the black community. Or you can substitute any ethnic group, any religious group, any gender group, anything that you feel is less superior to you. Even the often have you groaned when an older person in front of you takes up so much time at the cashier's line? Or in traffic? Or anywhere?

Back in the late 1800's to early 1900's when the Irish emigrated to the USA, they were treated as outcasts. They were given the lowest paid jobs, slum housing and nothing more than that. The Irish were able to climb up from those ranks. Today on St. Patrick's Day, celebrations are held across our country as the Irish are embraced with love and good cheer.

Yet other groups still cry out for recognition as well.

We all need to walk in the shoes of another. The next time you turn your nose up at someone who is different from you, stop and ask yourself why you feel that way? What has that person done to YOU to merit your disdain? Then...what can YOU do to put yourself out there to help them feel recognized in a positive way?

Our world is growing so quickly, yet shrinking even faster. As the population grows, as the methods of keeping in touch with others also grows, we are consumed night and day in a quicksilver moment of knowing exactly what is going on and where. We are also quick to make judgments before all of the facts are in and cast judgments online. How is that fair to anyone?

Remember what I said of how Americans fear terrorists on our soil? Being quick to judge makes you a terrorist also, albeit on a  much smaller scale. Why would you want anyone to fear who you are? Why should they fear others?

We are all made in God's image and likeness. We are all His children. We all have 206 bones, bleed red and our hearts beat...though not always as one.

Today...look out for your fellow human being. Be an inspiration in a world filled with bullies. Show others that you are the example Jesus know you can!
Let's do this together...shall we?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

don't believe everything you see on TV

In the beginning, according to the book of Genesis, God created the world, and it was good. Then, like a baker, He added more ingredients: plants, trees, the sun, the rain, the animals. It was all good. Then He stood back, rubbed His chin for a moment and knew He needed to add yet one more thing. Man. Created in His own likeness and image. And so, Man came to be. And it was good.
or was it?

Gee....judging by the news lately, creating Man also created a whole new set of problems and actually, those problems surfaced almost immediately! Man was tempted by his beautiful but naive wife, and then their son! Oh my! Jealousy raised its ugly head and their son killed his own brother!
Paradise was a short lived idea. All of the love and simplicity that God had imbued them with came to a crashing halt. Man was put into a virtual time out. For many years Man wandered the earth seeking solace, until Jesus came to redeem us. But wait! He said, "I will come back! I will tame Evil once and for all but until then, your mission is to spread that news all over the earth!"

And so there were believers and non-believers. And evil laughed and to this day, has increased peoples' hate towards one another. Judgment, racial hatred, religious hatred, it's all the same. Some days it seems as if hate will win out. At least....that's what the news media would have you believe. It's almost as if they spin anger, discord and violence into a whirlwind that would cause even more grief through protests, more violence and killings.

I am here to tell you now, just as Jesus told us two thousand years ago, that although it would appear that evil is winning, it isn't. It can't! Why? How do I know this? It's simple: Jesus redeemed the world by His Cross and Resurrection. We already have been saved. All one needs to do is to accept a life full of goodness, mercy and kindness. Love God as much as you love yourself and love your neighbor as much as you love God. Who is your neighbor? It is anyone, from any walk of life, that you encounter each day. Treat them with love, with compassion. Reserve any judgment for God. We are to forgive our enemies, love those who hate us, be like little children. These are all admonishments that Christ taught us while here.

So why is that so impossible? Simple again. Evil WANTS us to feel despair. Evil wants us to feel hate, to create and cause pain. Evil wants to re-create that moment in the Garden of Eden of doubt: the doubt that God is perfect and wants only goodness. "Why should God have all the power?" Evil told Eve. "All you have to do is to partake in this act and you too will have eyes of God!"

Can you see this today? Greed on the part of politicians have us believing they are the savior of the world when in fact they could care less about you and I, so long as they convince you they do. Why fall for that? Greed also from corporations claiming they have your best interests at heart as they poison our food supply, our water and our air. Greed also from business heads who will claim the lions' share of profits all the while giving you a measly 1% raise. How can anyone survive on that? They can't.

Today, be a voice for change. One does not need violence to create a wave of change. Stand up for what you know is wrong by looking out for those who have less than you do. Give of what you have, be it your time, your talents or your treasure. Encourage positive change by living a positive life. You don't need a street corner to toot your own horn, just actions given out of love and concern.
You can be the one who changes the world. As St. Mother Teresa said, "I am a little pencil in the Hand of God."

So simple...yet so profound.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

you will never walk this path alone!

"Be still...and know that I am God!"

From the time that I was a little girl, I always had this "feeling" that I could "hear" God. I was less into the fashion of the day (we were too poor for me to even have "new" clothes, let alone new toys) so I took solace in the books that I read and the nature that was around me. Going on nature hikes, finding agates in the gravel roads near my house and spending time with my collie dog, that pretty summed up my "twixt twelve and twenty" years.

It was in many of those moments of solitude that I would go to God in prayer. It was less a recitation of the known prayers and more of just a young, and many times, scared girl talking with God. I never thought of God as that fearsome Being in robes who kept a log of all of the "bad" things I did, but rather a figure who would just hear me in all of my supplications.

I heard Him in the wind, I saw Him in the face of strangers, and whenever someone was generous enough to give my mother a bag of hand me down clothes for me, well, I knew that God was in the mix there, too.

When I was twelve, I needed a winter coat. It didn't have to be fancy, just warm. The one I had was thin, threadbare and too small for me. "Please, Lord, just a coat!"

Then one cold day, I found one in the Dumpster where I lived. It was too big. In fact, it was a woman's coat, not one for a girl. It needed new buttons. It certainly wasn't the style but it WAS warm. "Thank you, God!" I praised, " for this new coat!" And I sewed on buttons and proudly wore it to school...where I was laughed at. You see, I didn't see that coat as being anything but a gift...until I saw it through the eyes of kids who were mean enough to point out its flaws: too big, too brown, too repaired, too...ugly.

With heavy shoulders, I questioned it. "Lord, why did you give me a coat if You knew I would get laughed at by the other kids at school?"

No answer.

Every day that winter and the winter following it, I wore that coat, until a neighbor gave me not one, but TWO coats that her daughter had outgrown. Oh my! They were beautiful! They were perfect! They were warm! They were...just right!

I learned something, however, by wearing the coat that someone had thrown away. I learned to see beauty in what another saw as damaged goods. I learned to appreciate...that is, to ACCEPT that oftentimes what may be turned down, or mocked, is in fact what makes us stronger as we accept that sometimes in life, you don't always get what you want, but you may just get what you need...and to be thankful for that.

I learned also that God always does hear us. It may not always be what we want--again it may just be what we need to accept, and live with, despite the jeers, the taunts and the pain of feeling that we have been given short shrift.

Oftentimes, though we have dreams that if we do everything right,  life will be fair to us and grant us happiness, life doesn't always work out that way. But what I did learn from being silent and trusting that God knows better than I ever could, is that sometimes He leads us through those dark and scary moments in life not to tear us DOWN, but to build us UP! You can't erect a new building on top of an old one, you need to remove and start over. Same as with life, tear down those old thoughts, start over with fresh thoughts and in everything, know that God does hear you, He is with you and  you never walk this path alone.  How do I know this? Simple. By being still, being in the moment and listening. You can't be in the moment if technology gets in the way, drowning out those thoughts and communications. You need time to just stop...and allow God into those busy moments of your day.

As I was watering my garden today, the church bells in town rang. As they rang, I said a few "Hail, Mary's" and an "Our Father." I felt His presence; I could feel it in the sounds of the birdsongs, in the wind as it whispered through the trees and was there also in the fragrance of those flowers. In short, I felt loved.

Today, take time to listen for God. Yes, go to Him and present your thoughts and your troubles, but also your gratitude. Then just listen. Eventually you will hear will know when He has spoken. It isn't an earth-shattering moment but instead, just a quiet knowledge that soon, all will be OK in your world, if only for a little while. And when or if you are handed an "old coat" moment, don't despair, oh no! Please don't feel as though God hates you or doesn't care! Maybe, just maybe what He IS saying is that He knows what you need and sometimes, you just have to be patient, become strong and soon, all that you could have hoped for will come to fruition. The life of a follower of Jesus is not always the easy path, but in the end it will be the best road you have ever traveled!

I promise.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

sticking up for the little guy

 St Francis believed in preaching the Gospel...but it wasn't by using hate filled words filled with threats or snide innuendo. How do you also show your love of God towards another?

Since social media has become the norm, people think they can use it to bully others. Now that it is "election season" in the good ol' USA, I have seen so much virulently hateful posts on Facebook and if anyone dares to take a stand (maybe for common sense) that person gets shot down in many truly sad ways.

In just the last couple of weeks this has been so among my friends and family. And it's not just social media. There are many who feel that they can go through life without a filter on the mouth! Anything they think, many times impulsively, that they have the upper hand of knowledge on a subject, thought or feeling, BAM! out comes some pretty nasty words that about 30 years ago, no one would never have even dreamed of letting loose from their lips let alone from their thoughts!

What is happening to humanity?

Case in point: my husband, a hard working high school custodian, was cleaning classrooms for the summer. This is no easy feat as desks need to be removed, shelves must also be cleared of materials and wiped down, and when the old floor wax has been stripped and reapplied, everything must go back to its place. It's original place...and every classroom may have a slightly different "place" for what was taken out.

Huge sigh.

Enter a teacher, who returns to  her classroom for whatever notion she had, and while she is there, makes a snap comment about how when she returns in August to get ready for classes, she will also bring with her a white glove and that room had "better be spotless!"

Now, I shake my head at that caustic comment. Number one, custodians work hard during the summers as they have a lot more cleaning to do, more so than during the school year. Would it have taken any more time out of not only HER busy day, but his also, for her to make a NICE comment? Think about it: a nice comment...which would have buoyed his spirits and maybe given him a sense of worth. Instead, he carried the effects of her bold, yet caustic comment the rest  of his shift. Imagine carrying a sack filled with rocks for the next several hours...snap comments have the same effect. You can jjust feel that weight as it drags your shoulders lower...and lower....
why? Why add that burden on to another human being?

Filters. You know what it is, it is thinking first then speaking, if indeed words are even necessary at that point. Gosh, I keep going back to that line in "Bambi," where Thumper is reminded by his mother that "if you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all." I think that the world would have a lot less sorrow if only people could remember that.

What power is it to hurt someone's feelings? How do you feel when you cut someone down to size? Are you even aware that you have just done so? This applies to most anything we see or hear in daily life. If someone made a comment about race, religion, elections/politics, or whatever, it seems there are three more who will be sure that they are not only heard, but also that, even if the facts are wrong, they are right. They will swear up and down that they are right and nothing can sway them from that belief. This religion is better than that! That politician is better than this! That political party is better than any other!

 I dare you to stick up for the little guy! I dare you! Will you? If you overheard someone cutting someone else down, what would you do? Do you just wilt like a flower under intense heat or would you stand up and say, "this is just wrong!" and do something to make it right?

I am reminded of St. Francis of Assisi. He admonished his followers to "spread the Gospel. Use words, if necessary." What does that mean to you?

In short, it means that ACTIONS should do our talking for us! People will more readily follow you if you use actions to show your love and concern. You will be the most popular person in your neighborhood if you practice kindness towards all. It doesn't cost you anything and it takes as much time to be mean and nasty as it does to be mellow and loving.

In today's world, with the media blasting at us from all corners, be it a smartphone, an iPad, a computer, the TV or newspaper, everyone it seems has an opinion. Wonderful! But also please use common sense! Ask yourself, "will anyone be hurt be what I have to say?" If so, then maybe practice prudence, just swallow that thought and forget it even blipped into your conscience. Truly...the world is hate-filled enough, how about if you add some some empathy. After all, we all travel the same roads. I don't know about you, but I'd prefer a traveling companion that I can laugh with and share some happy moments.
Are you with me?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

who do you focus on?

The news lately: massacre in Orlando, Florida. Gorilla harms child. Alligator snatches child from shallow water in Disney World. Paris under attack. Terrorists everywhere....

Are you becoming place to turn, no sanctuary to call safe?

"Fear not! For I am with you always!"

As if life isn't scary enough for each one of us just living and breathing and doing what we usually do, along comes the six o'clock news!

"Behold! For I am with you until the end of time!"

I do believe the news media, in their efforts to win ratings, loves to escalate the news just by how it's presented. Their eyes wide, voices full of alarm, you're afraid to use the bathroom during a commercial break for fear of missing something, am I right? Yet this is the reaction the media hopes to elicit: fear. Fear of the known which then becomes fear of the UNKNOWN. Terrorists causing rampage in one part of the world; "when will I be the next target?" you may wonder. Oil prices going up, "can I afford to even drive to work?" you ask. and so on.

My friend...stop worrying! Please. The mayhem created by evil forces shall never win, so long as good people worldwide can triumph over that evil. Read that again.

People ARE basically good people. We are a compassionate bunch in this thing called Life. When tragedy strikes, people are quick about responding in a positive way. Unfortunately, the ONLY time the news media pounces on this IS during a tragic moment. Why this hypocrisy is allowed to co-exist is beyond me. Be that as it may, I do believe that good can be found as close to you as the nearest street corner, coffee shop or grocery store. I believe that good happens because I have seen it. I believe that good perpetuates even more good. I believe that if even more people focus on the good, creating more good for others that it will continue to envelop the world.

"I am a little pencil in the Hand of God." ~Mother Teresa 

Stop what you are doing for a moment and ask yourself, "when did I last do a good deed for another?" As the peace prayer of St. Francis states so well, "I seek not to be understood as to understand. I seek not to be loved as to love."

When tragedy strikes, as it has done since the beginning of time and will probably do until the end of time when God intervenes, we must remember that God is with us. Each one of us. We are not alone. All we need to do is to seek Him out in prayer, asking how we can be a channel of His peace plan. How can we intercede for another? How can we spread His message of Love around?
It isn't that hard, if only we focus less on our own desires...and more on how to make the desires of others more felt.
May God bless you today!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

in the end, it's all about common sense

Everyone knows all about the "five senses:" taste, touch, sight, smell and hearing. But we have other senses as well, how often do you use these?

A sense of compassion, of caring, of empathy, of gratitude?

I have been watching how the current elections are playing out. I have not seen anything that even resembles compassion, nor of respect. Instead I have seen bigotry, disrespect, vitriol, all manners of foul play displayed for all the world to see. It is much akin to watching preschoolers in a sandbox, flinging as much hash at each other as possible.

How about if you and I set the example? Compassion. That means to literally walk in another's footsteps and see where they are coming from. What are their needs? Do you see someone coming up from behind you as you enter an establishment? Will it ruin your day if you waited those few extra seconds to hold the door smile at them and maybe bid them a good day?

Caring. You're at the grocer's you see the box at the exit, the one that is asking for donations to the local food shelf? Do you walk right past it...or even if you do drop in something, is it more than just a box of mac n cheese?

Gratitude. Do you cultivate a sense of gratitude? "There but for the grace of God go I." If you have been blessed with much, are you grateful? Do you pass that on to someone in need? Luke 3:11 admonishes us to do this. “If you have two coats, give one away,” he said. “Do the same with your food.”

Jesus made it so easy for us. He basically gave us two commands: Love God and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. He also said to do unto others as we'd have them do unto us. Go ahead...repeat that slowly. Now think to the you see these electoral candidates reaching out to others? They sure do love themselves! And that's where it seems to end. "Pride goes before a fall." Again, Jesus tells us, "those who humble themselves will be exalted, while those who exalt themselves shall be humbled." That statement was so powerful that ALL FOUR GOSPELS mention it, probably the ONLY passage of Jesus' ministry on earth....and it was exhorted by all four Gospel writers.

Humility. Now there is a sense that we all need to cultivate more of. It is not all about me. It is not all about you, either. Instead it IS all about what we can do for OTHERS that matters.
How about it, shall we begin?