Sunday, December 31, 2017

sticks, stones and arrows of life...





Back in the fifth grade, I had the teacher from hell. He would stop at nothing to berate the children in his care and I was no exception. There was one particular student named Art who always was the class clown. He would do anything to rankle the teacher and the teacher always obliged by sending Art to see the principal. I never knew what Art's background at home was like that caused the consternation, but I do know (now) that many children come to school with some sad baggage. Perhaps Art was one of those kids.

There was a particular day when Art really ticked off the teacher. Instead of sending him to the principal's office, the teacher instead had each of the kids in this class write something about Art and why they did not like him. At the time, I remember myself gleefully writing some two paragraph "thing" and then, reading it out loud to him, as did we all. I was only eleven years old, but I can still remember him squirming uncomfortably in his seat, a pained expression on his face. As I watched him, I no longer felt gleeful. In fact, I thought, "what if that were ME?"

He never was the class clown after that. In fact, he became sullen...withdrawn for the rest of that school year.

I moved away shortly after that, so I have no idea how Art turned out as he grew up.

I look back on this now...and I shudder. What that teacher did was just plain wrong. To point out a person's perceived "flaws" by having other kids-his peers-mock him, was a very low blow. It was no different, I am sure, than the judgment cast upon a woman who was being prepared for stoning. Jesus admonished them all by asking, "he who is without sin, cast the first stone." And...everyone left. "Has no one condemned you?" He asked the woman. "No one," she replied (probably greatly relieved). "Then neither do I. Go...and sin no more!"

I was only eleven years old...too young and ignorant to understand then that what we all did may have had serious implications. I feel so ashamed now. For a trusted adult to castigate a child in that way --by public humiliation--is wrong. A better way would have been to look deeper...to try and understand the "what behind the why" of the child's misbehavior. Many times, a child misbehaves to cover up something more insidious and sad. It could be the only way they know how to cope with the arrows that life hurls at them. And we go and complicate that even further by our own words, actions and deeds. This doesn't just apply to children, either. We adults can be pretty mean towards other adults as well.

 In today's' world, we all are guilty of casting blame and then, inducing harm in some way. Don't believe me? Just be a little more attentive of what and how you comment on social media. Or how about your response, be it private or public...on what you see on the TV news...or hear on the radio. We judge...oh yes...we judge and pretty harshly at that!

 As the New Year rings in tonight, how about if our resolution for 2018 be that we guard what comes out of our mouths...guard what we say in print...and be a true neighbor...one who loves everyone regardless of whatever sins they have. Condemn no one, but show true compassion as well as humility towards all.

I have no clue how Art is today. I have no clue if he was able to get over the hurdles of his younger years or if those barriers made it harder to be an adult. But to all the OTHER Arts in this world...may we be more accepting of their circumstances, whatever they may be.

May God bless you all.
Amen.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

what IS Christmas about?






Recently I read comments from others that having Christ in Christmas is too much to ask for. They look around and see nothing but greed, commercialism, hate, sorrow and more. Some have said that Santa is actually an anagram for Satan because the holiday we celebrate was actually once a pagan feast.

I read these comments and felt physically ill. Ill because on one hand, Satan IS in control...but it isn't as these people think. Satan today IS in control of the greed, the pain, the sorrow. Christmas, in reality, was a take-off of the pagan feast of Saturnalia. The early Church, feeling a need to convert people, took many of the facets of Saturnalia and tidied them up to bring people to God. Christmas is actually a derivative of the Mass held on the night of the winter solstice, known as Christ's Mass...Christmas! It was the Druids who later brought trees into the tradition, with it's candles and lights and decorations. Gift giving came from a true saint, Saint Nicholas, who brought gifts to poor families. Saint Francis of Assisi had the idea to re-create the Nativity scene and thus, the creche was born.









There are those who argue that Jesus was not born in winter, as the sheep were in the fields with their shepherds. There are people who argue that certain coffee shops have reindeer on their cups instead of actual scenes of the Nativity. There are people who argue...it seems...about anything that can be argued about.
Friend, if this is you, you are sadly missing the whole point.

Jesus came to us, a King, yes, but as a helpless babe first...so as to not shock the masses, I'm sure. Yet the masses were shocked anyway. King Herod, on hearing of the birth of a "King," sought to have him killed by killing off many other innocent babies as well. Such tyranny in what should have been the promise of Hope! A grown man, afraid of an Infant? Say it wasn't so!

But it was.

During the time of Jesus' ministry, all the while He healed many and performed other miracles, once again, He was a threat to the Establishment, who sought...again! to kill him off...and succeeded...by convincing all who would hear, that He was nothing more than a charlatan. And thus, an Innocent who was born to save us, instead, died for OUR sins of let's face it--ignorance. Basically, the same fear that caused King Herod to kill off all of the male babies also caused the Jewish people to also kill off Jesus--ignorance. Is it that same fear today that cause many to X out the reason for Christmas--Jesus-- by having celebrations that have nothing to do with Him at all? I do believe we are back at Square One! Pagan feasting that took what was a reverent idea and made it irreverent.

Ah yes, Christmas is almost here. And you, I'm sure, are busy making plans...but how have you made plans for Him?

Do you see Him in the homeless, the helpless, the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned, the persecuted?  (Matthew 25:44) Or do you rather see Him in diamond rings, new cars, new techie gadgets, new...new...new...? The point I am making is that you cannot have Christmas without Christ. I know how much Madison Avenue wants you to believe that, but the seduction of distracting us from the real reason of Christmas by having anything you can buy is just not what this season is all about! Jesus came to show us pure, unconditional Love. His Love was so strong, He admonished us all to love one another, even as HE loved US! How much did He love us? Enough to die for us. ("Greater Love no man hath this, that one lay down his life for his friends..." John 15:13)

Honestly, how did you lay down your life for someone today? You don't have to step in front of a moving train to do it! You also do it by loving another so much you would do anything to seek out their better comfort level, and not just for a friend, but for a stranger as well.

We spend the holidays buying gifts for others, but truly, are you happy for the one you have bought a gift for? Or is it more compulsory...you HAVE to provide a gift for the office Christmas party for someone you just do not like, yet you do it...half-heartedly, hoping all the while they choke on it, am I right? You invite relatives to your house for Christmas dinner, all the while seething that they even are breathing in your presence. My, my, my...what a humble holiday we have going on here!

Christmas is about Love...it's about Hope that was born in a mangy, dirty stable. It's about the promise of Peace. To have any of these, we must Love one another even as Jesus loved us. We wish one another nothing but the best. The. Best. To do that, we put aside all manners of greed, of sorrow, of pain, of revenge, of hate. Love is the reason for the season. The Love of God who saw that humanity had lost it's mind and so, came down as a helpless babe, grew up in a society so full of hate (note the Roman empire, in control during his life) and sought to make it better by being an example for us all.

How can we do any less than to offer Him praise and being His example today--in a world that has never gotten it right, is still mad and out of control? We do it one day at a time, one person at a time...until there is so much love, so much joy...

When was Jesus born? He is born into the hearts of those who need Him- every. single. day.

Monday, December 4, 2017

a time for giving and forgiving...




Christmas. A time for giving and maybe...forgiving...?

A story I witnessed last week: I was at a local thrift store and, while I was waiting in line to check out my purchases, I overheard a woman ask the cashier why they don't have Depression era glassware any longer. While the cashier attempted to explain the whole concept of it being a donation thing, the other woman interrupted her by spitting out, "I know there is someone who works here who also collects that and thus, there will never be any more set out while she is here because she just buys it for herself!"

My eyes widened at that response. That whole entitlement feeling this woman displayed surprised me. There are many other sources in which to procure collector's items, the internet being one of them.

The reason that I was there was to purchase some doilies for a special event that our local museum was having; a Christmas Open House. They needed the doilies for a brunch table display and I was happy to provide that. Such a small token, I thought, as I paid for my purchase and then, dropped off the doilies at the museum, where I was greeted with hugs and gratitude. I smiled shyly and continued on my errands that day.

The day of the open house, I was stunned by the turnout of so many people. The atmosphere was festive and friendly as I perused the many baked goods that had been made, as well as the many "white elephant" items that were on display for purchase. What stunned me most was what was also for sale on several glass shelves along the wall: Depression era glassware, many sitting on the doilies that I had donated.

Someone else had donated that glassware. Immediately I felt a feeling of remorse. Yes, remorse. As I recalled that conversation from the thrift store, I felt humbled. Had that woman attended this event, would she have been able to appreciate what I witnessed...or would there have been more grousing?

Jesus told stories also of how, throughout time, things given in generosity were not accepted with humility but rather, with remarks of derision, taunts and retorts. Think back to the Israelites...leaving a place that had caused untold generations of Hebrews pain-Egypt- and there they were, in the desert, complaining, because they had little Faith in the One who'd rescued them from the very pits of hell. Now, compare that to the scene of Mary and Joseph...no room at the inn and she had just given birth in a dirty stable. Did she complain at all about the lack of accommodations? It certainly wasn't the Hilton Hotel, yet her heart was filled with love at the miracle that had just taken place.

We are only human, after all, yet we need to stop and think about the reason we feel entitled to having it all, having it now and having the best of everything. We need to step back and understand that in life, there are winners and there are losers, but we can bridge that gap by our being filled with an attitude of gratitude and sharing what we have with those who have less, or nothing at all. Jesus admonished us to look for the need and to share, even as His greatest example proved: feeding 5000 people the loaves and fishes. Even if you are poor, it costs nothing to do a good deed to ease the burden of another.





Soon it will be Christmas. How will you show your gratitude about the reason for the season? It is more about giving from the heart (think "Little Drummer Boy") and less about just accepting a gift with no thought of "what can I do for YOU?"
Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

who will you meet in heaven?




I just watched the movie, "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" last night. I had read the book about ten years ago, but never made time to see the movie. In it, we meet a man named Eddie who has worked on Ruby Pier, a small, beach side carnival, all of his life. I mean, from young boyhood, on. His father is an abusive alcoholic who also worked there, taking his miseries out on his family for as long as Eddie can remember.  In fact, Eddie says at one point, "I hated him. I always hated him!" Eddie's life, to him, seems insignificant. He loves kids, adored his wife and his last act while living was his efforts to save a young girl from a horrific accident, which then takes his own life. He meets up with five people who are very instrumental in the reason he is on earth. Five people who show him what life would have been like had he not been there.

Cue the brain...we've visited this theme already, am I right?

Yes, if you are a fan of "It's a Wonderful Life," you have.

But this movie, as "It's a Wonderful Life" did, made me think. Every life touches so many other lives!

How often do you ponder over your life? Does it seem tedious? Lacking luster?What is your reaction towards others? Do they bore you? Wouldn't you rather do something else if you were asked to help someone else?

That is the point here. In both movies, Eddie and George Bailey from "Wonderful Life" made darn sure that others' needs came BEFORE their own comforts. In George's case, his house was once a ramshackle dwelling that would always be in need of repair. In Eddie's tiny home, all he kept were the basics and a small box that held his mementos. Nothing more. In each movie, the character stood for the little guy, for what was truly important, all the while hating his own life.

It is said that after the passing of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, letters were found. In these letters were emotions poured forth that perhaps, she wasn't doing enough to alleviate the suffering there. She was always looking for that cue from God that what she was doing was enough. She never looked for the limelight, feeling that this-helping those less fortunate- is what we all should be doing. Even when she won the Nobel prize, she was humble enough to accept it wearing her sari and a simple blue sweater. No glitz, no glamour. And she never looked more beautiful.







Her own memorable line was, "find your own Calcutta!" Look around you. Who needs your help? You don't have to lead a huge corporation of helpers, just by your own example and purity of heart will you be in the place that God meant for you to be. Never doubt that. Let me repeat: "if your soul and heart are in this to genuinely help another, then you are exactly where God has placed you to be!"

We all have that "dark night of the soul." Why did I marry so and so if all he does is drink?" "Why did I take that job if all it brings is sorrow?" "Why am I hurting because a loved one left me?" Look back over that scenario. What happened during that time to make you think, for even a moment, that perhaps it was all wasted? We may never find out the true reasons for many of the things that we do until are time on earth has expired. Then all of these things will be revealed unto you...


"But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. "Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops." Daniel 2:22.



Today and everyday, begin it with the attitude that nothing is ever a wasted moment. Look for the opportunities to be Jesus in a world that right now, is so lacking in love!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

have you been visited by an inconvenient stranger?







There is a story of a woman who was at a well, drawing water. No one else was there, she had the place all to herself. Suddenly there was a visit from an inconvenient stranger, One who knew all about her past. The reason she was there all alone initially was because of her shame at what she had done. She was tired of being belittled, ridiculed and humiliated. Yet when this Person came and asked her for water, she seemed confused. The fact that instead of ridiculing her or judging her, He offered compassion, was something not to be believed. The fact also that He was a Jew and she, Samaritan, simply blew her mind. Number one, men did not just talk to women, that was not allowed. The fact that He was Jewish made it doubly so. And still, the fact that He offered His words as a sense of direction and not of condemnation meant that she should take His words seriously. (see John 4:4-26).  

 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

And she did.

How many of us had a visit by an inconvenient stranger? How many of us took to heart the situation at hand...or were we too busy with our i-Pads, i-Phones, video games...did we pass that person on the street, in the guise of a homeless person? Was it because someone was a drug addict...an alcoholic...that we just didn't care-or chose not to? Was it a pesky neighbor we tend to ignore...or the elderly person ahead of us at the store, "wasting our time" as they counted out all the change they may have had to buy that loaf of bread?

Are we inconvenienced when the news comes on, news that tells us yet another bomb blast ripped through some country far away...or even a tragedy closer to home...does that rattle your senses anymore--or have we grown so complacent that it just does not matter anymore?

Say those words: an inconvenient stranger. How does a stranger become a friend? Why, it's simple! It happens when YOU invite that person into your heart and home. It is so easy at this time of year to write a check to a charity, isn't it? "There!" you announce as you seal the envelope. "Now I can rest easy, those kids with cancer will have the best of everything!" Or those homeless puppies...or that child in the foreign country who looks as if he is starving...the list is endless. To justify that you have done something so wonderful because you signed a check does NOT justify, really, that you have dome anything more than salve your mind. The burdens are still there. And as the Inconvenient Stranger knows, unless you put forth the sincere effort into anything, you really have done nothing at all.

The Inconvenient Stranger, if you haven't guessed by now, is Jesus. Jesus can read our hearts. Our hearts that are restless until they rest in Him--or should be. Our hearts that will not allow us to sleep, knowing that while our closets are full, someone is going without a warm coat. Someone is not getting that wonderful smile. Someone is bereft of a hug, a kind word...someone lacks a place to sleep. Someone lacks food to eat.

That Inconvenient Stranger...are you feeling guilty yet? Just as Ebeneezer Scrooge realized in the Christmas tale, unless you are physically doing something for someone to ease their burdens you really haven't done anything at all. Scrooge realized that while, yes, he did provide a job for Bob Crachit, what was lacking was sufficient income or time to enjoy a family, which were the more important things that counting cash.

Next time you are feeling inconvenienced, ask yourself why. What guilt is niggling at you to re-focus your energy and time to something that matters more?
As Saint Teresa of Calcutta once observed, "I am but a little pencil in the Hand of God."

three gifts of Christmas....





 As we gear up for the holidays ahead, grief becomes very apparent for those who have lost loved ones. It can be yesterday, last month, last year....grief has no time limits and the pain can still hurt. I was reading an article that said what may help in the grieving process are three things: one, to say, "I'm sorry" to the one who left you. "I'm sorry for what we did, or didn't do...I'm sorry for the plans that went unmade, the words we did not get to say," etc. 

The second is "I forgive you." "I forgive you for leaving me so soon. I forgive you for whatever we did or said that hurt the other. i forgive you because forgiving is the way to heal the breach."

And the last is: "I love you." No matter if your relationship was the best, the worst or somewhere in between, those words seal the fact that what was done has been done. There is now no going back, no do-overs. Make peace with your past. "I'm sorry, I forgive you, I love you." Words I said to my very hurtful mother so many years ago as she lay dying in her bed. Words I never thought I would find myself saying, in fact, freed me from the horrors that I lived through with her. 

And of course, from dear ones, too that have left me..."I love you."

Just something to ponder as you write those cards and wrap those gifts. Sometimes, the best gift we can give to one another is the gifts of love and forgiveness...and peace.

Monday, November 20, 2017

footprints and snowflakes



photo courtesy of Martha Gallo, a participant on the "Godwinkers" Facebook page.


When I first met the man who is now my husband, I was impressed by many things: his compassion and thoughtfulness towards me, but also his thought processes in general. He has a very poetic way of looking at things.
I had settled my mind on probably being single for the rest of my life. After having been in a very sad marriage for 25 years and then, two failed relationships as well as seeing what was "out there" in the dating world, I was scared of either falling into the same old sad trap again...or...being single.
I chose single.
It was on a very bitter cold day in January in Minnesota (think minus 20 degrees!) that I was perusing the Craigslist site. In truth, I had never heard of Craigslist and curiosity led me there. I was shocked at what I found on the dating portion of it: men who were out to 'have a 'good time' and not caring whose life they ruined while doing it. Finally, I'd had enough! I was going to send a nasty reply to one ad that literally said he would take on all comers, married or not! He had lost all of his savings due to a former girlfriend who'd stolen it when she moved out. He was angry. He was bitter. And he wanted the world to know about it.
Then "something" told me to not hit 'send' on that one...to maybe see it a different way. I thought I was going nuts, but listened to that small voice of reason. Instead, in the e-mail, I asked him jokingly why he wanted a married woman when he could have me, as I was divorced and available. Available? Didn't I tell myself that I was done with this, that I wasn't going to settle anymore for anyone? I hit 'send,' expecting nothing more.

He wrote back.

Then I replied back.

He wrote back again.

His first reply was an apology. He wasn't really looking for a married woman, as he knew that would cause a lot of heartache for all involved. He merely was seeking ...what?

People who post ads on dating sites are seeking something, be it an answer to a primitive force, a friend, sex or a lifetime partner. He'd been a bachelor for twenty plus years. He'd been dumped on a lot. And as I got to know him, I wondered just why his life was the way it was. In one of his replies, sent the day after our first face to face meeting, he wrote this:

  "I started reading the internet and happened upon a bunch of psychology and mind articles dealing with emotions and thought processes and the like. Very interesting stuff, for the most part. So I spent a while reading through a bunch of them. The mind is a very interesting thing and can be confusing to me. At least mine is!! Why do I bore you with this useless information, you may be wondering? Well, because you got my mind running in 9 different directions at once! Something only a woman is capable of, I believe!
As I watched the snow fall yesterday, one thought that crossed through my head that sort of stuck out, was that of the 876 Gajillion (to the power of 800 gajillion times 9) flakes that were falling, it is said that no 2 are alike. Then I thought, surely in all that there has to be at least one matching pair? Is it possible that you and I could be that one matching pair? Which lead to another long series of thoughts!"

That was almost nine years ago. There are times when I ponder on the whole scenario of how we were brought together. Of that small "Voice" that whispered to me to see it another way and of how I listened, even when my mere human mind could not comprehend why! That small Voice, who I know was God's voice, was leading me down a path that, to this day, has brought me so much happiness. It takes faith to believe that, when all is falling apart, that God is working behind the scenes to make it all right. It also takes Faith to believe that when a prayer uttered isn't answered in the way that you asked, that it is because God sees the future and knows just what is a better solution for you.

"For I know the plans that I have for you," declared the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you Hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11.

We can only see in hindsight. Hindsight is always 20/20. But we also need to have the foresight to know that when we don't always get what we want, that we will receive something. We need to understand that God is in control and when we turn a situation over to Him, that we let go of the wheel and let God do the driving. Many people have a hard time grasping this. "Why does God allow pain?" they ask. "Why didn't He see that I needed my mom/friend/ husband more?" "Why can't I find a job?" "Why...why...why?"

I have been the recipient of so much pain in my life. If you have been following my blogs, you know about the child abuse, the spousal abuse, the health issues, and much more. In all of it, I can look back and see the why and how of it all. If not for adversity, I would not be who I am today.

 Think about it: I could have had all of my wishes handed to me, just like that <snaps fingers>. But then, who would I be? Probably a simple weakling. For those who have had everything granted to them, are they any happier? Can they withstand the storms of life when they finally do hit...and believe me, they DO hit hard, like a hurricane force.

Be open to possibilities. Just as there CAN be two identical snowflakes...so there are always answers to life's problems. You just need to Believe...have Hope...Faith...and in retrospect, just as the poem reassures us, God was carrying us all throughout our trials of life.




Friday, November 3, 2017

what path are YOU on?






A few days ago, I had to take a short journey about ten miles from my house to do a cleaning project for someone. It was a blustery, end of October day, with occasional snow showers that just seemed to make things seem even more bleak than it was.

As I pulled into the long, gravel driveway, I took note of how stark the countryside was. This is in the middle of the Minnesota prairie. With the exception of a few trees to the north of the house which gave a windbreak of sorts, there was nothing as far as the eye could see. No buildings, no trees, just endless miles of farm fields.

I felt so alone in that windswept place.

For many of us, our lives can be just like this. You go along, living out your days like a summer afternoon when all of a sudden, from out of nowhere comes a vast emptiness that just seems to swallow you up whole. You can visualize the sound of the wind as it sweeps and pounds against the windows of your soul. There is nothing around you for miles. You feel so alone. Not even prayer seems to be of any help in all of this.

Lately I have made decisions, then broken them and made some more, all to relieve the discomfort of my soul. I have prayed to God for direction. I have taken what I thought was a for sure path, only to realize that I was at a dead end. Time to turn around and take a different course. After awhile, I began to doubt even myself. Where am I? I miss where I've been, yet I wouldn't go back there, not for anything. I have zero clue what's ahead, so I am reluctant to make a commitment to that as well.

I am sure that for Jesus and his parents, Mary and Joseph, it was the same. They were exiles in their own land after Jesus' birth, due to King Herod's jealousy of the news of a "new King." For two years, they wandered in unknown lands. All they had to rely on was God's direction.

God's direction. When all we have is that and Faith, I know it sounds confusing...how does one know they are doing the "right thing" if all they have to go on is a "feeling" or a thought to "go here!" or "stop and pause awhile there!"
Maybe a few comments from those who have "been there" will help:


"What I learn in over 60 years is that: (1) women are driven by emotions (just us and is wrong); (2) life is full of tests, and when you fail one you will get a harder one...so on and so forth, until you do it right; (3) never run away from something or take short cuts - it will come back to haunt you; (4) there are "stages" in life, and everyone is different - as you age understand much better than before; (5) NEVER give up on your goals, dreams; (6) whomever in not in the same page with you is not worth it or not for you - and - here comes the # 1 "emotions" that we hardly can or want to control...this is when we go in a different direction. My opinion and honestly, what me and my husband did from the beginning." ~Rodica Z.


"In life, you will realize that there is a role for everyone to meet...some times, will test you and sometimes will love you and test you...but no matter how sad and no matter what happens..the important are the ones who are truly brings out the best in you...they are rare and amazing people who remind you why it's worth it..." ~Elena P.


"I honestly don't think I would have appreciated the greater things in my life, had I not walked through the valley of the shadow of death, but I fear no evil, for my Lord is with always and encircles me with his love !" ~Barbara C.

I like Barbara's comment the best: walking through the valley of the shadow...it doesn't have to be as dire as death, just the shadow alone can be monumental in itself! But if we keep God on our side, like the sun, he will keep us warm, He will guide us to verdant pastures where once more we will see just where we've been as well as where we are headed.

"No doubt. And at times a dire situation can rocket us toward an even unimagined better place!" ~Kelly R.


GPS...God's Positioning System...putting us where we need to be, even when we can't understand it ourselves!


Thursday, September 21, 2017

be thankful for every little thing!



Two nights ago, a line of severe thunderstorms passed through my state of Minnesota. In its wake was much damage. My own pear tree was hit by lightning and it succumbed to the chainsaw the next day. I mourned the loss of that tree. It's fruit gave many honeybees something to sip on as it lay on the ground, waiting for me to clean it up. It's shade was home to many songbirds. It's beauty was a thing to behold. And now, it is no more.

I think now of the damage done by not one, but THREE hurricanes in just as many weeks. Damage to homes, to businesses, to vegetation and to livelihoods. It makes my own pear tree loss seem pretty puny, when I think about it. And I do think about the total devastation of those hurricanes often. I think about the many families who now need to start over. I think about the many island nations that were totally wiped off the earth. There is absolutely nothing there for them to re-build with, so they must move on. I have only felt such loss once before in my life and that was when I was three years old and our house was set on fire in the middle of the night. I had only the pajamas I was wearing, as did my folks. My beloved panda toy was lost in the fire. How does one comfort a child who has lost her favorite toy? I relate that to now...how does one comfort people who have lost everything?

Reach out. Reach out and help without thought of reward. Jesus healed, He helped, He comforted and then, just as the Lone Ranger did, He moved on. He performed miracles, yes, but soon, people became so caught up in the "miracles" that they did not see Him for who He was! They were more grateful that the "disaster" of their lives were mitigated...and forgot that the One they had just had contact with was the One whom they had been waiting for! The Son of God...THE Messiah! I'm sure His heart grieved also. Very few came back to thank Him, in fact, there were ten lepers who were healed, yet only one came back to offer thanksgiving.

Luke 17:11-19New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Heals Ten Men With Leprosy

 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.  As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance  and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

How about you? How often do you show your gratitude for all that you have received? We pray our litanies to God...we beg, we cry, we storm heaven with prayers, but do you truly show gratitude after having received an answer?

Live out your life in gratitude, friends! be grateful for every living thing! For me, when I saw the damaged tree, I immediately prayed, "thank you, God, for sparing my house!" as my house was mere steps away! "Thank you, God, that our town wasn't hit any harder than it was." "Thank you, God, for so many have endured so much more, and I feel so puny when I see what I have dealt with."

Mostly, thank you, Lord, for every thing...every thing!"

So many have so much less.
So many have so much more.
How much of your "more" will you be sharing with those who have so much less?

May God be with you today.
Amen.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

what we need now...



Lately we have had so much sadness in the USA. Racial unrest, hateful protests and more have made our country so sad. On August 21st, much of the US had an opportunity to witness a solar eclipse. It brought our nation together, if only for a few minutes, to witness an act of God. People flocked together from all over to take part in something that lasted all of two minutes and left feeling refreshed, whole and happy.

That was just before a hurricane slammed in southeastern Texas, the worst hurricane our country has seen since Katrina in 2005. I am encouraged that once again, many people came together and are still coming together to offer assistance, aid and most important, prayers for those in need.

In my little town on the prairie, we too have come together in support of a high school aged girl who was in a serious car accident. I knew her through my work at the school. Last night, there was a prayer service at her church and I was startled at how many had attended. The streets for two blocks around the church were filled with cars, as was the parking lot itself. Many came out in support of this gal and her family. Many lit candles, said prayers and wept as we all became one voice, our heartfelt prayers lifted up to heaven on her behalf.

What held my attention is how, during times of need such as this, no one is labeled. I'm not Catholic, you're not Lutheran, he isn't black, she isn't Asian...we are all ONE...ONE body in Christ. We all come together, with no thought of, "I'm better than you are!" We do simply what must be done, with no real thought of reward. we pray, we cry, we offer support, we show our love and concern for one another.

"Where two or more are gathered, there I am in the midst of them."  
Matthew 18:20.

Two weeks ago, a woman knocked on my door. She introduced herself as a Jehovah's Witness from our town. I smiled at her and as she read her Bible passage, I thanked her. I told her that I am Catholic and though I appreciated her words, I was satisfied with what I believe in. I then reminded her of the hate-filled protests that were taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia, and that it was my desire also for there to be peace. "Shall we pray together, you and I, for that to happen?" I asked in all sincerity.

She looked shocked as her eyes widened. "Oh no!" she admonished, "I can't do that!"

"I fully respect that," I replied, "but you see, I am a member of the secular Franciscan order. We emulate St. Francis by living out his life in today's world. We pray often for peace and as he told his followers, 'preach the Gospel. Use words, if necessary.' I am simply carrying out his ministry."

She closed her Bible then, making an excuse as to why she needed to leave and hastily walked down the sidewalk to her car.

I walked into my house, crestfallen.

Labels. Why do we need them? Wasn't it her mission to also "preach the Gospel, using words if necessary," yet she had chosen another path.

"I can't do that!"
I had heard those same words at my mother's memorial service after she had passed away. Those who were gathered were waiting for the minister of her own Jehovah's Witness congregation to arrive. Finally after almost an hour, I said  a brief eulogy and sent the well-wishers away with a prayer. It was later that I found out the reason why the minister never showed up: it was because I was there. I, who am Catholic. My heart broke then as it did again after this visit.

I am not putting Jehovah's Witnesses down. In no way am I doing that. My point is this: if we are to have any peace at all in this sorry world, we MUST stop looking at others as if WE are superior to them. 

"Those who exalt themselves shall be humbled, while those who humble themselves shall be exalted." (Matthew 23:12.) 

We must remember that Jesus Himself showed us how to love one another. He Himself sat with the Samaritan woman at the well. He Himself told the story about the Good Samaritan. He Himself ate with tax collectors. He forgave sinners. He healed the sick. He raised the dead! He didn't need a special pardon from God to do any of that! He was God! And if God did it...then why can't we? Why can't we look at each other with eyes of love...and forgiveness...and tolerance? Why? 

Going back to the time after His crucifixion, it was known as Christianity. Followers of Christ. Then 1500 years later, there were disagreements with the church, which by now had many "rules and regulations." Thus, a split, with that new following being known as "Lutheranism," or Protestants. Yet more disagreements lead to more breaking away. Each breaking away had issues with the previous breaking away. And so on..and so on...

And now, we have so much animosity, so much, "I'm the RIGHT way, while you..." followed by head shaking. Yet last night, here in my own small town on the prairie, PROVED that we can get along, we CAN all come together in prayer for someone in need, we can help each other out, we can because....
because Jesus taught us that He "IS the Way...and the Truth...and the Life. No one comes to the father except through me. He who follows Me shall have eternal life." (John 14:6) We don't need special permission, we just do it!

What a promise! What an ideal!

May you all be blessed today. Reach out to another....you don't need MY permission to do that! 








Tuesday, August 15, 2017

how far does one go to promote social justice?

the statue at the center of Charlottesville's storm

(click on link above to read more about this story)

The unrest in Charlottesville, VA fills me with such grief. Grief at the fact that people are so hurtful towards each other. Grief too that many people think that the ends justify the means. If we want peace, we must be all about social justice. But how far does one go to promote "social justice?"

Does tearing down a statue promote peace? Wouldn't it be better to change people's hearts through love and loving actions instead? Then again, I am reminded of how Ronald Reagan, when he was president of the US, admonished President Gorbachev, leader of Russia to "tear down this wall!" in reference to the Berlin Wall... a wall that separated so many from their loved ones That pretty much was the end of the Cold War and life in Europe. Once down, it was hoped that peace would finally reign. However, any idea of "peace" was short lived as there was now a vacuum, a void of leadership that was replaced once more by factions, regimes and dictatorships.

If you want peace, promote social justice. Justice begins in our hearts, in our minds, in our SOULS! "If you see a man with no coat, offer him one of yours," Jesus told his disciples. (Luke 3:11). Jesus showed us time and again how to love others, thus His stories about the prodigal son, the woman at the well, the Good Samaritan. Love, love, love. Even later, the Apostle Paul, who at first, was all about tearing down the Name of Jesus, converted and became Jesus' greatest champion, even as he sat in prison under the worst conditions. What an example of a pure heart!

Love. It means to show tolerance towards all. At the grocery store, while waiting in line, sitting in a traffic jam, donating your time, talent or treasure towards a worthy cause. It means smiling at a stranger. Holding that door open just a bit longer than necessary. It means admitting compassion towards the homeless. To an alcoholic. To an addict. A homeless beggar has the same amount of dignity as any head of state. Yet we pay more attention to "celebrities," (awww....so-and-so just died of cancer!") than we do the neighbor up the street, who also had troubles, but we paid them scant heed.

Tolerance means we accept people no matter their color, creed, gender, race, religion. We accept them for the faults they have, because we also have our own faults. We love them right where they are. They don't have to prove anything to us, because we also have nothing to prove. We are no better than they are. No better at all! We do not sit in our Ivory Towers, looking down at others, comparing ourselves to them. We came into this world naked, poor and crying and we will go out of this world the same way. we all have 206 bones and bleed red. The only thing that separates us is our ideology...our ways of thinking. This takes us back to where this all began...of how hatred separates us. And as it separates us from each other, it also separates us from God. Like any parent, as God watches His children fight and kill one another, He grieves. If you have any empathy at all, you grieve as well.

Today, look over your life. Note the baggage that you may carry, no matter how small. Others also carry baggage of varying sizes.Whose baggage will you also carry...how far will you walk with another?

The answer should be--must be: all the way.

May you have a blessed day! May God be with you and bring us all peace.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

how would you define integrity?


in life, you have to give every decision your best effort, or you will fall short. Aim high and you'll make it over every hurdle. True fact.


Integrity.

 How would you define it?

As I wrote about a few posts back, it IS about keeping your word. It IS about saying you will commit to doing something and then, following through. It is not doing something in a haphazard fashion, thinking that no one will notice. Believe me, people notice.

I had a painting job to do on my own garage, which was noticed by a passer-by, who informed me that she had a job for me if I was willing. I agreed. The job was painting her own garage trim as well as the trim on a rental house she owned. As I painted the trim on her garage, her husband was out there, observing my work with his own microscope. Every tiny little splatter, he would frown and when a couple splatters fell onto his brand new concrete job, I apologized as the two of us cleaned it up. When I was finished, I stood back and admired my work. It was done. It was good.

On to the rental house they owned. The wood that was to be painted on both the windows as well as trim was old, rotted away and as I scraped the paint off, chunks of wood came off too. I alerted them and they had the trim replaced with brand new wood. Ahhhh... bliss. I gave the new trim three coats of paint, to ensure that it was thoroughly sealed and that it would last a long time. I gave that job my best ability, just as I had their own garage.

When it was time to settle up on the payment, the home owner was less than pleased at my charges. I reminded them that it was what we had agreed on in both time as well as cost. I had done the job in the four hours that I estimated, yet they were unhappy. "Why did it take you so long to do the rental house?" I was quizzed. I replied that I did the exact same effort on that house as I did their own. "You know, it WAS just a RENTAL!" I was reminded.

I blinked. So...because it was rented out, the folks living there couldn't have the same effort to admire perfection as the home owner did? I shook my head in sadness.

"You reap what you sow." We are reminded of this a few times in the Bible. I believe in giving 100% in everything I do. Throughout my life, I have been hurt a time or three because of that philosophy, but I would not hesitate to do it again--and again if need be.

Why is second best considered "good enough?"

When I alerted the homeowner that I could not even complete the job due to rotting wood, she gave me a look of....what, I cannot define, but in my heart I knew that yes, I could have slopped on some paint and, from a distance, it would have been "enough," for maybe one more year. Up close though, that was a different matter. Up close, the scrutiny of rotting wood would have been obvious. Eventually that old wood would have needed a replacement, so why not do the job right the first time?

How about you? Have you ever been asked to just give anything you do a gloss-over? "It's good enough." Would you do that at work? How about with your friends? In your marriage? What would our world be like had God did that during the Creation? "And God look at all he had done and said, "it is good..." (Genesis 1:31).

With God, it is never "enough" to just do a shoddy job. Look all the way back to the story of Cain and Abel. God was pleased with Abel for the sacrifices Abel offered up. With Cain, not so much. (Genesis 4:8). The same held true in the parable Jesus gave of the man, the rich fool, he was called, whose barns became too small for his harvests that he stored up, so he built HIMSELF bigger barns. He then sat back and enjoyed the fruits of HIS labor, forgetting all about the offering that should have also been offered up to God. And God was displeased. (Luke 12:16-21).

In everything, give it your BEST shot. Not half done, not even "sort of... maybe... kind of...well, maybe tomorrow" effort. God knows what lies within our hearts. You may plead ignorant, but God also blessed each of us with choices. Choices to do it right---or wrong.

Put it this way, would you appreciate it if someone gave you a shoddy, half done effort? Then why do it yourself to another?

Golden Rule: "do unto others as you'd have them do unto you."

 May you have a blessed day.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

the lowdown on bullying

"There is no such thing as a bad boy." ~Father Flanagan, founder of Boys' Town Omaha, NE




in your life, are you an Eddie Haskell...or Wally?




Bullying.

Everyone in life has been exposed to it at one time or another. You may have been bullied...maybe you are a bully or perhaps know a bully. At school, at work. Road rage incidents are incidents of bullying. Bullying has been around since Cain killed Abel out of jealousy.  You could say that the Eddie Haskells of our day are in fact, people who show domination towards another with the outcome of creating submission through humiliation, power and control. "That's a lovely dress you're wearing today, Mrs. Cleaver!" When he said it, it was a slimy retort meant to cover up whatever malicious intent he was hiding. In Mrs. Cleaver's case, it didn't work.

Why do people bully? In life, even the animal kingdom, there are those who are dominant and those who are submissive. Unlike animals, however, people have brains to make choices. What bullies lack is a sense of empathy. Empathy is what gives us pause to think about how the OTHER person must feel when bad things happen to them. 

Empathy isn't always inherited, it's a learned trait and if no one teaches it, how is someone supposed to know about it let alone put it into practice?

I am reminded of Mister Rogers, that delightful soul of public TV during my growing up years. His calm demeanor would always reassure those watching that all was well. We were unique. We were special. We were his friend. And the way he looked into the camera, you came away with the feeling that it was to you that he was speaking. The world, though unsafe, could BE safe, because you were cared for and loved.

This meant so much to me, growing up in an abusive home. To be told that I was "special," even if not to my face, gave me hope that perhaps, it really WAS true, that I really WAS someone. Even while at school, as kids tormented me for not having the latest in clothing or hairstyles, with my bucked teeth and funny sounding last name, somehow deep inside, because Mister Rogers said I was special, then maybe I was. I had no sanctuary at all, no place of refuge, except within my mind.

Kids today are not so lucky. There are so many choices and conflicts in today's world that weren't there even thirty years ago. Back in my day, Viet Nam was a war on the other side of the world. I tuned it out, as it had nothing to do with me. Today, kids have all these in-your-face issues such as gender identity, drugs, sex trafficking, alcohol, absent parents, parents who need to work long hours to provide income. Kids are all alone to deal with outside pressures and so, they make up the "rules" of how to deal with that. Eat--or be eaten. In this case, bully if you must or be bullied- it's all about survival of the fittest.

Who among us turns away from a troublemaker? That kid, like Eddie Haskell, who is crying out for attention and will get it, either by domination or submission? If only we could be a fly on the wall to see what kids deal with at home! They cope by using power to control a situation they have no control over. Even among adults, pressures at work or home can turn someone into a domineering bully. Spouses, too use force to get their own way.

I knew a boy at the school where I work, who, in the 9th grade, sat by himself during lunch. He rarely spoke to anyone, he kept to himself. I determined in my working at the lunch counter, that I would, before the school year ended, get him to smile. I called him by name. I made small talk. I never pushed but rather, encouraged. Occasionally, I'd see a hint of a smile. Many times, though, he'd just sigh, as if worn out. In the hallways, if I saw him, I'd smile, I'd nod in his direction, but again, I got nothing. His hair was long, his clothes shabby, as if he didn't care what he looked like. You could say that for all intents, he shut down...put up that wall to save himself. By Springtime, I didn't see him anymore. When I inquired, I'd heard that he was having hard time with his dad at home and had been relocated.

Flash forward to a few weeks later. I was at the groomer/vet building to pick up my two dogs. There was an old dog on a quilt, hovered over by a boy with long hair. He was crooning to the dog and when he briefly turned his head, I recognized him. The receptionist just then ushered him into a room and he, as well as an older lady he was with, took the dog in. I knew right away what the outcome would be: the dog was being euthanized. I could hear the boy speaking calmly to the dog through tears. My own throat tightened up as I realized he had spoken more to that dog in the few minutes than he did to me in almost eight months while at school. The door then closed.

I went home and cried. I cried for the boy who I could not "save." I cried for the reasons he felt he had to put up a barrier between him and the world. I cried because I felt inadequate--what more could I have done? Mostly I cried because that had been me more than 40 years before. The baggage he carried....who else recognized it, let alone offered to help him carry it? When I inquired about him at school, I was met with shrugs of the shoulders, of an attitude of, "well, that's just the way it is." Nothing more.

To me, every child needs recognition. Every child. Even those for whom we turn away or want to tune out. How many teachers, when they realize what child they will be teaching, look away with the eye roll and shake their head? "Oh, THAT kid...yeah..." Those kids are the forgotten ones. And they WILL get attention, no matter what it takes. Even if it means picking on someone else to do so. How many of them want to be called by name? To be told, "hey, you have worth! You're special! I like you just the way you are!" To have that "you and me against the world" attitude. To be given the respect of being present in the world. Going back to the Cain and Abel story, had Cain also been shown more appreciation for what he had done in his life, is there a chance his anger towards his brother would have dissipated? I think so. We are all special and unique. What we bring to this thing called "life" is our own gifts and talents....are they appreciated enough...if at all?

Jesus was very much like Mister Rogers...or you could say that Mister Rogers epitomized who Jesus was. Jesus had that way of making each person feel special...why do you think he was so loved during His ministry? He called people by name ("Zacchaeus, (who was a tax collector) I am having dinner at YOUR house tonight!") Tax collectors were people whom the "Law" deemed unworthy! When His ministry was just beginning, He called people by their name: "Peter! James...John...come follow Me!" To hear your name is probably the best gift ever...why do you think when salespeople find out your name, they use it often? It is a way to make people feel good. To feel recognized. When was the last time you heard YOUR name being used?

Let's go back to Mister Rogers. The qualities he had were not just for television. All throughout his life, he had that special way of making people feel worthy. How could one even think of bullying others after dealing with him?

In today's world, we must look for the many opportunities to be kind towards others. When you arrive at your workplace, to whom should you devote your attention?

Towards all, my friend...towards all.

Monday, July 24, 2017

have you taken on a project bigger than yourself?




This past week I have taken on a project bigger than myself: painting the garage. My garage is not just a double car size, it can house up to FOUR cars, so it is quite large. And made of concrete. It had about four, at least from what I scraped off, layers of paint. I did all of the prep work and, on a day when it was so hot, began as early as I could, to beat the heat.

When I finished, with the noon church bells pealing in the distance, I stood back, admiring my work. I had finished only one wall. This was going to take awhile, so I didn't fret about what I had accomplished thus far. I washed my tools out, covered the paint can and called it a day.

Later, in the cool of the evening, I went outside, pleased with my work. As I stood on the deck, I gave myself kudos for a job well done. From that vantage point, it looked good.

The next morning, as I walked alongside that same wall, I noticed spots that I had missed. They were tiny pin prick sized, but they were numerous! As thorough as I thought I was, I missed quite a bit and they were so easy to see up close; I was using beige over previous white! I sighed. Day two, I began another wall, but this time, I was prepared. I did what I thought again was a thorough job, I mean, I really lay that paint on thick. Again, when it dried, I noticed pin pricks of white through the new layer of beige. Day three, third wall. This time, however, I conversed with God about this issue.

 What I heard was this:

"This is a metaphor of your life. Everyone's life. We go about blithely, doing what we think is good. In fact, we try extra hard to be that friend to others, we give, we love, we share...and at day's end, we think, 'ah, yes, I have done well!' In fact, though, if one looks under the surface, one can see where the blemishes show. One can see the scars, the hurts, the pain and more. How do we deal with that? We cover it up with lies, with excuses, with alcohol, with drugs, with overeating and more. From a distance, we look good. But as with a magnifying glass, the closer one gets to the problem, the more apparent it becomes."

 And so it is with God. God knows our inner thoughts, our heart and how we think, act, what we do or say and more. To many, it looks good. And yes, many of us DO try as best we can. This is where we need to do an examination of conscience every evening. How did we fail/fall and how can we rise again? To just cover it up with excuses, telling ourselves that it really doesn't matter because "no one can see it...no one will know..." well, that is short sighted. God knows! How can you hide anything from Him? You can't.

This reminds me of a Bible Scripture. (Matthew 5:37) "Let your 'yes' mean yes and your 'no,' no. Anything else is from the evil one."

This summer I was asked at work if I was interested in being a part of a "summer garden" project that the school where I work has. I was to water it, students from an agriculture class were to be responsible for the harvesting and I then would process the produce. Sounded easy enough, I thought and agreed. The hard part, the harvesting, would be done by younger kids. I smiled at that part as I didn't know if I'd have the stamina to work in the hot sun. Turned out that the students suddenly came up with excuses as to why they didn't want to help. The green beans were growing daily and in need of being picked. I made phone calls and came up against...nothing. No one even responded. I was crushed. (Matthew 9:37) "The harvest is fruitful, but the workers, few..." I did get those beans harvested and there are more to come, beans as well as tomatoes, squash...the list goes on. Here's to hoping, right? Someone told me, "well, just don't do it! Don't go and do what others have said they should!" Well, I reasoned, I had an agreement and I am not one to shirk from it, even if it WAS something that was not part of the agreement, if I didn't do it, all of that produce would go to waste.

"Let your yes mean yes." I live by this. If you don't want to do it, say so, but don't agree and leave others hanging. Just as with my garage project, do a good job, look for the areas in which you can do better and then, make a go of it!

I went back over my work. Yes, I could hear that lazy voice inside my head telling me, "aw, it's just a garage, no one will know...no one will care..." but I know. I care. I made sure that all of my pin prick speckles were covered up. As I stood back once again to admire my work, I could see that it was indeed, a job well done.

Every day, I pray this prayer when I first arise and see the glory of a new day. Maybe it will help you, too. here it is:

Thank you, God, for this day. Help me in all that I think...and do...and say. Help me to be what You want me to be...and help others to see Jesus in me. Amen!

May you have a blessed day!
For extra reading and inspiration, click on this link:
lessons-from-the-parables-the-parable-of-the-workers-

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

sometimes it takes nine lives..to save one! meet Bob!


"Bob" with his owner, James Bowden


Normally I don't write movie reviews, but in this case, there is a movie currently on Netflix that, if you haven't seen it, you should.

It is titled, "A Streetcat Named Bob." It is the story of a drug addict who has hit rock bottom. Homeless and hungry, he finds a stray cat who gives him the motivation to rise...and although he faces quite an uphill journey, his desperation to never go back down is what gives this film credence. I won't give away the ending, but suffice it to say, I cried buckets!

It is a great film also for us...those of us who watch as the ones we love deal with their addictions and struggles. Believe it when I say, no one ever wakes up one day and PLANS to become addicted. They are pulled in, ever so subtly and then, like a roaring dragon, find themselves in so deep.


I am not advocating that alcohol or drug use is OK, for it never is. What I have always advocated for (and wrote several books about) is how we react to another's addictions. Compassion should always be our goal. Hate the addiction, yes, but feel for the one addicted. Unless you are being physically abused (in which case, make safety your #1 priority!) seek as much help as YOU can to understand the "why" behind not only the one addicted, but yourself as well. Take it from me, I have been there, that's why I'm here. I know...I have survived and am all the better for it. 


One day at a time, people...one day at a time.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

on being gracious...






Gratitude. To be gracious. To be thankful for what you have as well as what you may expect to receive. Today, gratitude seems to be in such short supply. It seems to be a given that when one sends out a card, be it birthday, graduation or wedding, with a gift, that receiving a thank you note is so passe....not required at all! What happened? One person I brought this subject up with said,"they just don't do that anymore! I don't expect to be thanked!"
Why?

Recently on social media, I reprinted a "Dear Abby" column about sending out thank you cards for gifts received. It was more of an "FYI" than anything else, just to gauge people's reaction.

Did I say "reaction?" It was more of a non-reactionary post, as only two people commented on it.

Heavy sigh. What has happened to the very act of graciousness?

I am reminded of how often we are told in the Bible to be thankful. Heck, here in America, we even have a HOLIDAY about being thankful, yet for many, it is a reason to have a holiday in which to spend money! Jesus told us many times about praying, knocking at the door, asking and we shall receive, but also admonished us that in receiving, we need also to be THANKFUL! In one story that he told, there were ten lepers who were healed by Jesus, yet only one came back to thank Him. And he was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:11-19). I bring that point up, because in Jesus' day, Samaritans and Jews did not get along. At All. Yet many times, Jesus referred to Samaritans in His examples of how we are to deal with people. And he showed us by example...many times.

The Bible is filled with many, many scriptures of thanksgiving! If one goes all the way back to Genesis, even God was grateful for all that He had made. He sat back and said, "it is good!" The Apostle Paul, even while imprisoned, wrote in his many letters of how God was good. Imagine that, being in the worst possible situation, yet Paul found reasons to be grateful! Grateful! Not complaining at all about the lack of accommodations, very little food, water or even sunshine! In all of that, he still was grateful to God! We can take a lesson from that!

When I was growing up, my family had very little. If ever I received a gift of clothing, be it new (which was rare) or a hand me down, my mother made sure that before I even wore it, spent it, ate it or played with it, I sat down and wrote out a thank you note! She would check it for errors in spelling or thought. It couldn't be some simple thing such as: "dear grandma, thank you for the coat, it is very nice! love, Diane." No, it had to be thought out, expressive. After all, she always said, my grandmother (or whomever I received the items from) took the time out to think of me, how hard was it to take my own time to be gracious?

As an adult, I have been stunned by many sunrises and sunsets, by many Springtime flowers and autumn beauty. I have been brought to tears by the sight of a newborn baby as well as by having a friendship of thirty years, a friendship that only death could take away from me. I am in awe every day just by having my wonderful husband at my side, a man who I never thought I'd ever get to have as a best friend and lifelong companion. And at night, in the morning and impulsively throughout the day, I find myself saying, "thank you, Lord! Thank you for my life. It is indeed good!" A life that, by all rights, I never should have had from day one! My mother very nearly miscarried me, an incident when I was only three months old nearly killed me. There have been accidents, illnesses and more that should have taken me out more than once, yet each time, God saw fit to keep me here. And for that, I am so grateful.

I am also grateful to you, the reader of this post, that you keep me inspired just by your own presence. May you take the time to read through the following passages I have written below. To be inspired by what God has given to you, and may you raise your voice in thanksgiving to Him!

Hallelujah!

Psalm 100:4
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

 Philomen 1:4 
I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers.

Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Psalm 107:1
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!