Friday, May 17, 2019

Is there really such a thing as purpose, for each person, throughout all of time, distinct and very certainly?

I haven't thought so. Instead, for most of my life I've somewhat brushed off the notion as insignificant.

After all, most of the people we know live fairly ordinary lives, at least on a daily basis. Our historical figures lead us to think it's possible to be remarkable, with effort and stars aligned. For the everyday people we know, it takes about a whole lifetime in summation of years, to make anything amounting to notable purpose, evident.

I've thought about these things, and I've really liked that overall, ordinary lives are purposeful by nature of the force of love alone. We love people and we love pastimes, places and adventures, and so we seek them, and in them we give and seek nurture and satisfaction, and if all goes well, life is good. Love presents the simple purpose we might need, and it is enough.

Outside the evident (for me) end purpose of eternal grace, I haven't struggled to find purpose, even if I've been interested in other peoples' thoughts about purpose. There are intriguing schools of thought out there, but then it's just time to get on with one's day.

So I'm finding it fascinating that over six decades in, I'm realizing that my purpose has found me, when I wasn't really looking.

But it started long ago, with the rice, in a church.

It was just south of the border. I was a small girl, in the courtyard of a church after the wedding of my dad's cousin. The ceremony finished, I lingered in the courtyard while my family lingered with the relatives, talking and readying to drive to the celebratory meal everyone would gather for.

As I loitered near a short stone wall, I found myself watching another little girl, and her mother, who had come to the church after the wedding was over. The girl played quietly near me, glancing my way, both of us tentative and shy, noticing each other but not interacting. The mother swept rice.

You know, the rice that got thrown at the bride and groom, the congratulatory, happy rice, that gets tossed and sticks in the hair, that gets walked on and shuffled away onto the steps of the church and beyond.

Into a dustpan went the rice, but it didn't end up in a trash bin. Instead, the woman carefully picked through it. Even in my little girl mind I knew she was saving the rice, to take home as food for her family. I had thought it was her "job" to sweep the rice, but now I knew the rice was her payment, for sweeping it away.

Later, on the land of this cousin of my dad's, I walked with my siblings and other cousins, all in a younger age range. "Juan" and his brothers were ranchers, doing well. They invited us each summer so that cousins both south and north of the border could spend time with each other. Oh, how we loved our experiences there, and in those times.

Another stand-out memory is of a walk, when we traversed dry, scrubby hills of the ranch, and came upon a family living in the open elements. They had set up a camp with the sparest, poorest of salvaged materials. They were surviving, and not much more. Juan spoke with them softly; I can't tell you what he said. But he sounded gentle, and kind. We moved on.

Juan WAS gentle and kind, welcoming us as he did every summer. There was nothing in his attitude that made me think he didn't have compassion for the struggling family. They could stay, I could tell.

So it was especially heartbreaking decades later, to learn that Juan had been taken, kidnapped. Not by people like those in flux, who I had witnessed, on his land. No, by others in flux who did develop very wrong attitudes, who succumbed to evil forces and ways, and who murdered Juan.

Such a loss, this good man. Such a betrayal, this evil "neighbor" who took him from his loving family and his good life.

A person could go either way, you know, in the processing of these events. A person could latch onto one reaction and run with it, distrusting and thinking the worst of a whole population forever after, for the actions of one or few.

It happens, and it's a mystery who responds how.

I didn't especially think I was responding, at all. But when stories about the evils south-of-the-border began in earnest to flow north, it demanded something of me. I was living in Wisconsin now, running my own café and making friends and building a patronage.

I was living where no one was named "Juan", but where being married to someone named "Ramon" required something of me, in ways I hadn't felt living in California. I was removed from a place where my culture was so evident, practically the culture itself. Now I was in a place where, as a new friend described to me, "We're so lily-white here, people aren't sure how to welcome anyone different."

So there was "that thing" I had to think of--acceptance--as I hadn't before. But I didn't expend a lot of energy with this; I had my business to run, my family to see to, my home to still nurture. Busy has its way and what will be, will be.

"What will be" is such a curious thing. You think you change your circumstances by changing your setting, and you do. You do what you can and you bring a level of change. But you are a product of your experiences too, and those of impact forever change you, wherever you go, whatever you try to do and whoever you want to become. They have made you, some of these experiences.

Leaving doesn't change everything though, when God has determined you are one of His, even when you're not aware He has. Things will happen. People will cross your path. World events will catch your attention, make you sit up and take notice, cause you to connect dots like a diagram in a coloring book, but more impacting, like the words in the GREATEST Book.

Distance by miles and time from the events of my childhood did this: gave me something to relate to, in relation to modern events. I was given a perspective, which involves fully contrasting "take-aways" about the good and evil in humanity, specifically related to my culture. I witnessed the pathetically humble and gentle, the kind. I was stunned to be forced to absorb the brutally violent against our kind benefactor, a loving family member.

I could have as easily absorbed one "take-away" over the other, to run away with. I don't think I did either! But watching people now diminish the beauty and sorrows of the past histories of their own immigrant ancestries in order to subdue current waves of hopes in others is provocative to me.

Who is it that provokes me? Is it the people who don't hold my views on the matter?

I think hardly at all. I'm still that shy, tentative girl. I try hard to speak in written word, more than any other way. I now feel I can give voice (literal voice) if needed, but I'm not "merited", I don't have a degree in anything.

I had to say this once, out loud. An acquaintance came into my café, struck up some talk about how she and her spouse saw regularly my articles in the local newspaper, and she just had know: "Where did you get your degree"?

Until coming to Wisconsin, I didn't even know I could write. I did not. There too, events fell into place. I could write, and I had a hand upon me, a series of events to address something other than the casual stories my community was looking for.

I had the community of my culture, the people I knew and who I didn't know, whose stories in current times were (and are) being drawn for the good, the bad, and the ugly.

"I give you a responsibility", I have been told. I feel that hand upon me, to balance the good, the bad, and the ugly. If a human being bigger than myself is not balancing those scales fairly, I have a bigger hand than that upon me.

I don't always feel "read" that's for sure! I feel bypassed, the little person.

It doesn't matter. That hand keeps pressing on me, and I know the "record" of the little person, the lowly person who isn't secure in many things.

I have been provoked by the hand who hands out purpose. In this way, purpose has found me. I know what I know now, about purpose, and it is sufficient, as is His grace.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018, the Year of my Activist "Sister"

Let's talk politics and religion; yes--let's mix the two!

An activist-sister (of the Catholic order, literally) convinced me this year that by nature of people hoping to understand people, nothing less should be done. I'm kind of amazed now, that we (as a people) don't concede to this, more easily.

Why? Because some people highly believe in God, and others do not. We both exist, as well persons of varying faiths or outlooks. If politics is going to serve the greater good, it can't just be about pleasing particular numbers, in any one or few directions.

The numbers are not equal, and going by a majority is not as simple as it used to be. Equanimity for all is more expected, even for a lesser few.

How do we do equanimity when numbers are not equal, and policies are essentially driven by numbers?

It's not easy! We are "fuel-driven" as never before. People are fired-up, energetic--not giving up. Advances have been made and there's alot people do want to regress to.

Conversely, what about those who feel some older standards in living/lifestyle are like a navy-blue blazer, perfect in timelessness?

Should people who hold a broad spectrum of progressive views really be frustrated with others who still want to wear their navy-blue blazers? Should they feel justified in their condescension of those who simply believe what they believe, because they've always believed it, and authentically believe it still?

No one owns the market on feeling the times are different now, that some things just can't or shouldn't be as they were. But, where are we coming from, in this? THAT consideration is huge, and is where politics and religion HAS to be stirred together--into one big, contemplative pot.

If you want one coagulated, unyielding mess of unworkability, just read "the comments" of almost any article/post/interview today. People have no respect for where people are coming from. They're not even interested.

We shouldn't pretend believing in something bigger than ourselves isn't super-important to some. We shouldn't pretend the opposite is very important to others. Whatever drives us to arrive at so much of what is vital to our lives is sacred, whether we believe in "something more" or not.

Which brings me to my own lesson of 2018, a year that has revealed much to so many of us, that we didn't know was in our core.

If you have read any of this blog's previous posts, you will see I was somewhat a defender of what might be coming our way by way of a political agenda driven by a man, now leader, who had obviously different ways than other previous leaders, of doing "business". I was for a time truly appalled at the disrespected outcome of a vote. I was truly in earnest, loving my friends and family who had voted him in, spurious to those who could not let things play out quietly.

But just in case, I couldn't and didn't vote for the candidate myself. My uncertainty couldn't be overcome; I just couldn't do it.

Two years in, I marvel at people I thought less observant than myself as having been so much more aware, so much more in tune with what could go awry, than I was. And to think: so many of them do not even believe in the Higher Power I do! How could this happen, how could this be?!

I have come to see this: the "vessels" (minds and bodies we listen to) have to hold water. They have to have integrity, even when they are not overtly claiming to serve God. Even in the dismissal of belief of the ten commandments as they were originally presented, these minds and bodies have to rely on them, if under a preferred category of "golden-rule living."

I am SOOO past seeing the moniker of "Christian" (or Christianity) as unifying, a guarantor of what is right with this world. The year 2018 has instead revealed Christians are hardest on and most judgmental with each other, even when most will say that is not a place we want to be!

But we find ourselves in this place. This past year has brought us here with intensity, though assuredly it's not the first time in history. Has a leader brought us here? Only God knows. But He didn't prevent this status, so I'm inclined to believe it was put before us for deep contemplation, a time to give greater thought to multiple things other than essential self-interests, and more than we have over many multiple things before, in many lifetimes at least.

Strange myths abound. Ears itch for supportive thoughts and words that are averse to sound teaching, and this we cannot say is new. This may be another wave, or tide. It's happened before, it may happen again. But each time it happens, we are called upon to tell the difference between sound teaching or thinking that answers more to fear, distrust, uncertainty.

Put oppositionally, some say it is "smarter" to answer instead to CERTAINTY. Certainty that we need be self-guarding, sensible, willing to follow authority. Also willing to consider that our God has used unconventional, imperfect beings before, to do His work, and that this too, requires trust, and faith.

Oh what a tangled web we say with certainty we did not weave! We didn't bring this conundrum upon ourselves....or at least half of us didn't, right?!

Doesn't matter. It is here. It is put before us. I came to my "2018" conclusions when I saw actions/supportiveness averse to what I believe is biblically sound "right teaching". Golden-rule thinking, if you must. I felt the call and pull to discern as never before. It hasn't been a "fun" year! It's been a heart-wrenching year. But it has also been the BEST year of my life, connecting me to my God in the natural way only He can.

2018 was the year my "activist sister" encouraged me NOT to separate politics from faith. After all, what is "politics", but a set of policies that affect the human condition, the people and family units God sanctioned as His own, going forward?

Policies. Which brings me to another connection between policies and humanity, in a "pretty is as pretty does" exemplification. Remember that saying? It ties the beauty of the exterior to what is within, it negates outward beauty when there is rottenness to the core.

Is it possible for policies to be beautifully pleasing in "do unto others" fashion, while following sound authority, while being sensible? Biblically speaking, the advisements are there. We can point to ALL truth, or lift and choose what we like, up to us. We can share, spread half-truths, things that riled us with a headline, we can mull over but stay silent in things we can't touch, in comprehension of their having come to pass. We can take time to find out more, because there is always, always more to learn, as whole truth.

But time is running out, to persist we don't have time. Each day we live is one day closer to....

You fill in the blank.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

How much do YOU accomplish with a butter knife, that has nothing to do with buttering bread?

For all the years I ran my small-town café, a butter knife was my go-to tool for almost anything I needed to try to fix on my own. Pretty much if a butter knife couldn't fix it, it required a hiring.

There was a handyman husband involved, it is true--but he was so often at his own work, at least an hour away, or occupied with other equally important matters in things I wanted done at home.

So a butter knife it was, for prying and loosening, lifting away, scraping, and getting into needed things for needed outcomes.

When I used my particular butter knife, of substantial size and weight, I sometimes thought of my mom and grandmas, who often said to me growing up, "Get me a butter knife". When their men were not around, a butter knife was their helper, too.

The other morning, my husband was "in the building", busy with a periodic cleaning of the gunk beneath the drain-cap in the bathroom. It was a frosty morning with gray skies, and the grumbling began when the cap somehow slipped from his grasp and settled with an irretrievable "thunk" into the drain.

He refused my suggestion of a butter knife, and even of a vintage set of pliers I sometimes add into my mix of problem-solvers.

"That will never do it," he said. "There's a rounded edge and it's in there tight; I'll have to go to the garage and find my good pliers."

Going to the garage involved more fuss and at least a minimum of dressing-warm--socks and shoes and a heavy jacket for a few moments of searching. But search and return he did, with his prized pair of pliers, which did NOT work.

More grumbling, but now willingness, to accept the butter knife I thrust into his hand.

A little tuck-under and a wiggle, and apparently up it came, as I heard it from the kitchen. (But do you think he would confirm this?!)

And this is when I thought: God does bless women when they are alone, with a butter knife.

I said to my man: "SEE? I know the value of a butter knife. If you should be gone and I'm alone taking care of things, it's a butter knife for me. I used one all those years at the shop for so many things; I don't need no stinkin' toolbox."

Now don't get me wrong. I know women are more than capable with a real tool box, and real weaponry for that matter. My own granddaughter is in her second year of studies to become an auto mechanic, and she fires a mean shot often, at the center of a bulls-eye.

But basic and old-school is good, too! Something that doesn't require muscle or weeding out from a multitude of options, something at hand and as ordinary as a butter knife will do.

I almost don't know how to use a butter knife for its intended purpose anymore, do you? They are either out-sized and clunky for my butter dish and even for our dinner plates, or wimpy and pointless for anything else, like cutting meat. You can't slice a thing with a butter knife, and I far prefer handy little spreaders that are more optimum for slathering things perfectly.

But I still have a full supply of butter knives in my kitchen drawers. I keep them for....I don't know why I keep them. Probably for the one person a year who might ask for one. Maybe because they're expected in a drawer, maybe because the minute I give them away I will find I really need them.

Maybe YOU still use butter knives in multiple ways? If so I'd like to know what for! I kind of see them on the brink of obsolete--like orange reamers or crank ice-crushers, things that are still needed but better forms have taken their place. I still need a cutting tool, but anything seems better than a butter knife.

So the most sensible place for a butter knife in my house seems to be my "everything" drawer--the catch-all receptacle for all things hardware. It falls right in line there, with measuring tapes and screwdrivers and rubber bands, and all manner of second rate stuff my husband casts my way.

Funny how he thinks all this "it will never do" stash hardly matters, because I always rely on him coming to my rescue anyway.

And as long as I can, I will. But yeah, I do know and "get" the REAL value of a butter knife!

Monday, November 6, 2017

This other one man, mine...

Don't we love who we love most, for their least-shallow qualities?

And aren't we sometimes attracted to them for the opposite--the "surface" only, of who they really are?

It takes time to know people, for all of us to come to the fullness of who we are.

The first thing that appealed to me about a guy I knew at 16 years of age was that he made me laugh. I don't even want to say how many years later this is, but we're still together, and he still makes me laugh.

The most-telling thing to me about our longevity is that when we are most mad at each other, we sometimes break away from it by LAUGHING at how ridiculous our arguments have become.

One good laugh can be very saving. But this morning it was something a whole lot deeper than a good laugh that made me realize how much I appreciate the depths of this man.

We had earlier watched the Texas governor respond to Gayle King of CBS, about the latest mass shooting, in a church at Sutherland Springs. As King urged and persisted for words about what we can DO to lessen these events, the governor urged and persisted that a turning-to-God is needed. King's admonition that "prayers and thoughts are nice, but what can we DO?" was as earnest to her as was his that prayers are utmost.

In our living-room, we noted the sincerity of both, but were pleased to hear adamant statements (from Governor Abbott) to the effect that many people DO feel the removal of God in many things and places has harmed our land in ways that impact all, whether they believe in God or not.

(My words now...) When we have nothing greater than ourselves to look toward, how do we answer to despair, as surely it arrives, sooner or later, to us all? Are seekers really to be faulted, for relying on the respected efforts, studies and promoters of biblical teachings? Are other seekers to be faulted, for relying on science-only efforts, studies and teachings?

We tend to blame acts of terror on whatever seems most probable in our beliefs. It can be mental illness, volatile reactiveness in a life gone awry, a cultural indoctrination we are averse to, a true heart of evil...but will we ever truly understand what makes people vulnerable to partaking in ungodly behaviors?

Not when we want more than anything just to appear "right", as in intellectually studied, or even as in a moral highbrow.

I hope my spouse and I just want to be right with ourselves and how we answer to God. Without saying anything, I took his "look" at me this morning (our mutual reaction to convicted words toward God in a politically-divisive moment) and went right to the Texas governor's Facebook page.

I selected his top post regarding the shooting, and I thanked him for his statements.

Then I took my shower and got busy with things around the house, only pausing momentarily to think: YIKES. I just made a God-loving remark on a POLITICAL page.

And sure enough, when I later clicked on notifications, there it was, a brief, but mocking comment to my status as a supporter of Godly beliefs.

Oh, I SOOOO do not like this! I largely resist commentary on the commentary, not because I'm not convicted myself and willing to convey my beliefs (obviously, to those who know me!!) but because with strangers in a combative online world, what's the point? One heart won may be worth it, but to increase animosities and multiply unspeakable interactions, I really don't see the need.

I read the comment, and went back to my work. I intended to leave it be.

And then, nagging thoughts...I'm wimping out. I rationalized that no one would care or notice, but that did not take care of my personal conviction to uphold Godly words, and those of others who are also willing to utter them.

So I went back, and did the best I could. Desiring to be an "instrument of peace" I held to my own but did not provoke, and then I got out of town.

Or back to the kitchen. We had a nice lunch, and as we wrapped it up, my guy remarked that if he had the "gift" I have in using words, he would like to respond to those who downgrade prayer, as was done to the governor of Texas this morning.

"Really?" I said. "Well, that's nice you think I have a 'gift', and I'm happy you brought this up....because...." and I described to him my impulse to thank the Governor, and how of course a dissenter had to mock it, and how I know better than to do this, having seen all the disrespect that goes on between strangers who disagree.

"I just didn't think about him being a major political figure," I added. "It was like he spoke so much to our hearts, I just wanted to thank him. I figure if she says anything more I will just say it was a thank you to the governor, and I wasn't talking to HER!!"

My husband said to me, "I'm so proud of you that you said something. If she doesn't get where you're coming from, that's her problem. God gave you a gift and you need to use it to thank and further promote Him."

I love this man. He gets me, and despite our contrasting ways, in many things we are truly "one".

I don't know of anyone who doesn't acknowledge more needs to be done about keeping assault rifles out of the hands of dangerous people. I could go into a whole other entry (and I might!) about how, as the governor inferred, there are a whole lot of people who still choose to live in older-world ways, not just in sustained dedication to the Higher Source and His stricter directions, but yes, even including original direction that food is here for us, to gather and hunt. (But probably not by assault rifles!!)

I could say we have tides obviously resistant to one another, and that the times and biblical Word infer one or the other is going to prevail.

Which one shall be revealed, and very possibly that REVELATION will inform us where God was, when evil invaded holy spaces and harmed His trusting people.

I for one feel we cannot put enough stock in the truth that God is where the will of the people (but not all people!) put Him...too often taken out of so many spaces that darkness pervades and has its way. But for now, Pastor Paul Buford (of a neighboring church in Sutherland Springs) said it best, about those who died: "To be absent in the body is to be present in the Lord".

It is the essence of what Christians believe and live for!

For now, I appreciate my partner in communion, my guru, the guy who has always made me laugh and who upholds me in all that truly matters. When we were only teenagers, who knew??

God knew!!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Talk

I Love old souls in little bodies, don't you?

In trying to have a "bigger world" conversation with our little granddaughter, I asked: "SO. Sophie. What do you think, when you're all grown-up--do you think "country life" will bore you? Will you still like pretty land and trees and wide open spaces, or do you think you would want to live in a town, where you can step outside your door and walk around a corner to a little café or a place to buy an ice cream, or into stores you like to shop at?"

As she quickly answered in favor of the country, I soon countered with the benefits of the urban. Not that I prefer the urban, but the plusses are evident and she should see those, too. I even went so far as to say that someday yet, I might prefer "town life."

As I persisted, she reacted with the spirit of a child loving the present, as in NOW.

She became so animated. She literally jumped from the sofa, grabbed a framed photograph of our old farmhouse off the wall, and came over to me, all but thrusting the picture in my face.

"GRANDMA!!" She exclaimed. "Do you really want to try to get away from this??!!"

She said words about the wonder of land, of playing on it as she and her brother do, of how bright the sunshine is when it follows a really dark night. I might have thought she was reading the other half of my mind, her string of observations such as they were. She wrapped up her words about what she loves about Grandma and Grandma's place, with:

"This is what you have. I don't understand why you would want anything else..."

Well Sophie, you're right, it's something special. And it's something we never dreamed we would have. If we were to try to buy it now, we probably couldn't afford it.

I said as much and added that we couldn't afford it THEN, either. "But God had a plan for us, Sophie. The house was coming apart in places and it and the land needed a caretaker. He knew how hard your grandpa would work, and that we would make it all better, with His help."

I keep reading the key to happiness is gratitude. Seek what you have to be thankful for, and let it weigh greater than that which grieves you. There's always something! Especially when the eternal possibilities are considered.

I know someday "town" might become reality for Grandpa and Grandma, if comes the day that "simple" rural living gets too difficult. And I know I will be grateful, that day too, for the options the place we never dreamed of eventually gave us.

For love of these years and "the small people" on this place, we might only plan on going to our graves straight from here, never seriously considering living in a town again.

But I did suggest to Sophie, at the end of our little talk: "OK, Honey, I get that you feel this way right now. But when you are a teenager, let's talk again."

Thursday, November 2, 2017

This One Man

The will of people is huge. Even those who bow ultimately to will of God know this.

We support who and what we do, live as we do, are who we are, through a host of dynamics we can argue about, but few deny self-will does not play its part, expansively and throughout our lives.

And while we always hope self-will guides us toward the better, few also deny it does this for us unfailingly.

Are we are where we are now, in politically and socially divided times (as never before?) because of self-will? Seems like a YES to me!

It is interesting that everything we are so far apart on seems to boil down to THIS ONE MAN. Whatever it is, the culprit of the problem seems to pivot toward defense or condemnation of this one man.

When we consider the times and the issues at hand, this is not so strange. What IS strange is that the very thing that has always saved us, now jeopardizes us: our system of checks and balances, benevolently created, now at gridlock, now weirdly at odds with itself.

We believe we are fighting for this interest or that on behalf of ourselves and others, and we are. Our role as constituents still seems to matter, in the sense of legislators wanting to keep their positions. So we give voice....and they BLOCK for us.

Nothing gets done. And if it safeguards our cause, we're glad nothing gets done....even if nothing gets done!!

I wonder what is in our water now, that meeting in the middle is never a good thing. Isn't it true that for the ages, moderation has been recommended by the brightest minds, as key in all things? And we have never argued it before!

Like you, I am passionate about issues. My favored ones are not about me so much as the ones I love, and some are for the whole of humanity, as I see things. My thoughts and preferences are individual, but they are for a whole picture, just as are anyone else's.

Do I honestly think it is my way or the highway on these issues? I do not. I have a Source I answer to for my views on issues, but it is the same Source who has given ALL of humankind will toward their own views.

Even God doesn't legislate views! He legislates our actions towards HIS views, and from there it is His way or the highway!

So I believe....just as others, in reverse, can exercise will not to believe at all.

In recognizing this, I am grateful to lately converse with unlike-thinking minds, who seem to be "getting" that the divisiveness at hand is very threatening to us all.

IF Russian influence via inflaming "news bites" DID influence voters, their bigger coup is proving to be our divisiveness. They just wanted their victor; I doubt they dreamed this much success! It's like they bought a bunch of lottery tickets, won, and then found a lost, unexpired ticket in a drawer. That one won them an even bigger prize, and I hope it is not US, as in the United States of America! (Precipitation of our decline)

So do we let the Russians win? Are we good with the probability that our enemies (terrorists included) now watching our present-day news coverage, are having a heyday with all the publicity about their successes?

Sure we need information through responsible freedom of press. But as much as we need to know, we need to go forward. We don't need to make enemies of each other, and have the world gloating over the appearance of things. The world is watching us and they are having the time of their lives.

In conversations "across the aisle" friends and I have agreed recently: this one man, who couldn't have imagined the "power" he had, has changed good people's feelings towards other good people! Whether one thinks he enjoys this "skill" or would deny he has it, many rifts have been born and furthered between people who had no grievances against each other--until free will of a vote took place.

I SOOOOO do NOT WANT certain things to come to pass. I SOOOOO do not want certain things taken away....we all have this sense of urgency toward different issues, some of which clash with one another.

That's LIFE. Let it not be the death of us, the cause of an irreversible downward spiral.

As I was writing this today, I heard a truth-telling line in a situation comedy. As a believer in God, I think He brought it my way!

Two people who love each other and who see many things in harmony were disagreeing with fire and passion, wherein one blurted to the other: "I DON'T CARE about your reasons, because they come from YOU!!"

People are not caring about the reasoning of people they have formerly liked or admired, because they can't handle that the reasoning came from, or supports, THIS ONE MAN.

In attempting to be a voice of reason, someone with a bigger voice than mine has invited everyone to learn where people are coming from. He (political commentator Van Jones) has visited coal mining and other industrial workers in their homes and in their communities, to see for himself why people used self-will to vote for THIS ONE MAN.

Because he did so, his heart softened. Not necessarily toward this one man, but toward those who assessed their own lives and of the ones they love most.

Does promoting their own interests mean their interests are vile? No, but we are not talking the vile that truly exists in these days and times, in some who also purport support for this one man.

We have to remember: this one man is just a MAN. He's a man, put in place by self-will, and despite the self-will of others. He is not the end-all or the be-all, and shouldn't be. Until God Himself tells us he is evil incarnate or sent by the Lord himself, he is just another man.

We have to remember old truisms that are trite but still true: we can't cut off our noses to spite our faces, we win some and we lose some, we may get less on the dinner plate but a bigger piece of pie for dessert. And for the God-minded, vengeance and victory is truly the Lord's, at His will, not ours.

Meeting in the middle in the here and now is not a pariah state! To persist beyond the reason we have been gifted with means that people will get eaten alive! The biblical persuasion for being an instrument of peace is surrounded by further persuasion to believe: God's will WILL eventually supersede the self-will of people.

I'm good with that; and until I'm told otherwise, I want to care about your reasons, BECAUSE they come from YOU!!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Gift of Discernment

I so love the gift of discernment, the pivotal beacon that encourages seeking, but unfailingly brings us back to the innate source of wisdom we are connected to.

Whatever one's seeking involves, discernment is the consistent thing we rely on for direction. It's a thing too, that we seem to have little to say about, because for as many who identify it as self-based and earned, as many others recognize it as supremely-inspired and given.

Uplifting, positive discernment is an innateness we hope to pass on, but can't. It's not in our power. Wishing it "will be" does not mean it gets done. That's why I, for one, call it a gift.

If you were to be dead and gone tomorrow, what would be the single thing of magnitude you (if you are a parent) would hold most precious, as the gift you participated in bringing about, that your children benefitted most from?

Would it be the college education you helped with, the resulting degrees and successful livelihoods for them that resulted? Would it be their integrity, their personality and popularity, their adventurism, their philanthropic thinking and care for all of humanity? Would it be their brilliance, or their good-heartedness, all of the above and more?

Like most parents, we value the admirable and benevolent accomplishments and traits in our children and grandchildren, and we like to think our influences have something to do with them. We are tempted to deny their faults are of our doing, but we concede there are many things biblically and scientifically said that affirm all parents affect things to the good AND the bad.

There are as many things said from these same sources that affirm nothing is written in stone. In so many lives we have all personally witnessed, unexpected outcomes are often readily evident. We are who we are through being products of our environment, but often there are many outward influences that reign in having their say along our ways.

Oh, the agony of what will become of our children! Oh, the ecstasy (for my spouse and I) of knowing we did one right thing, or that one right thing came our way, regardless of our faults or best-fought efforts.

The single thing of magnitude we cherish for our children and theirs is in their acknowledgment of belief in God--but this we discern as more a gift of the Father, than our own accomplishment.

In this, it occurs to us to ponder: discernment itself is a discernment! And it's a puzzle...for if God Himself chooses not to allow flow in belief of Him, who is to blame for the bypass?

I do not know, and I admit I ponder and pray about it. I pray for that as many souls as He is willing to have, may it be done. In this, we can't do much more, but we can just about weep thankfulness for the discernment allowed us, to seek and consider God as real.

Two years ago this month my mother passed. Her life, as with many, was both glory and trial, all the way through. In her younger motherhood and in my and my older siblings younger years, she and our dad introduced us to God and reinforced in earnest and constancy, His presence in our daily lives.

This never ended, although adversities in their lives did seem to eventually temper their outward motions and displays. By then it was a done deal, the seeds of faith planted, over time and toward all their children.

As my mother readied to take leave of her earthly presence, her children and grandchildren uttered personal thoughts or prayers (or both), each in privacy, at her bedside.

For myself, I viewed these moments as her most crucial time of consideration by God; she was close to departure, in a state yet determinant to the eternity she'd always made sure we were aware of.

And I became aware: she and our dad had given us a portion of the greatest gift ever--discernment and the willingness to explore it, about whether we would or could believe in God, about whether or not we would take or resist His lead, some times or at all times. She and my dad planted seeds for faith, and the Father has taken it from there.

Or from the very beginning...for who knows but He alone, whether we would have come to Him on our own, later than sooner, but on time--if our parents had not planted seed?

I thanked her for planting seed! I am so grateful! My words to her were of this, and when I think now of that moment, I envision the wild daisies that have proliferated at our place in Wisconsin. I marvel at their eventual emergence into our land, after years of seeing them only in ditches and in neighboring fields.
Faith in God is like that, it seems, born of scattered seeds, planted or even only strewn, nurtured by graceful elements, spreading as they will. They have advanced; the daisies have made their way to us! And their presence speak of discernment to me: I could have looked at the faith of my mother and father as a weed, needing to be rooted out.

Instead I view discernment in all things a supreme gift. I appreciate the role our parents played in keeping connectivity with foundation in God. Do I always feel victorious in discernment?? NO. Amazingly, I sometimes need the perspectives of our children and grandchildren to help me!

Discernment to believe is the single thing of magnitude I hope for, for the ones I love most. Saying as much requires discernment in itself--knowing these words may be considered by many who don't believe at all.

So be it. In the end, anything else hardly matters.