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.