Monday, June 30, 2008

Rain, Sunshine and Rainbows

It rained the morning of the funeral. The preacher said, "The world is crying."
A young man, in his early twenties, shot in the back by a jealous ex-husband.

A fourteen-year-old boy discovers his mother has committed suicide by hanging herself in the closet.

That's enough. You've heard all the tragic stories and probably know some of the people involved. Maybe they've been members of your own family or are close friends. Is there any one of us who hasn't had these experiences?

I have lived through major United States wars, yet the only person I knew personally who fought in one of them was the son of a friend of my parents. He left for WWII a carefree young man, fun to be around, teased me like crazy and returned older, sadder, quieter--still a young man, but with a limp that would forever be a reminder of what he'd seen.

Lynn Anderson sang a song written by Joe South, "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden." Perhaps the song was based on Hannah Green's autobiographical novel with the same title. the book was made into a movie in 1977. Words in the chorus of the song are: "Along with the sunshine, there's gotta be a little rain sometimes."

Our lives aren't static. They are constantly changing through death, divorce, violence, the world economy, war and even our own bad decisions. We've all known rain--storms, tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes--in our lives whether actual or figurative. But haven't we known sunshine, too? Haven't we enjoyed peace, birth, love, joy? We can fill in our own sunshine.

My rain has been death, divorce and bad decisions on my part and on the part of some of the people I love. But my sunshine has been the birth of my daughters, the birth of my grandchildren and great granddaughter (although she was an "accident"), falling in love and marrying at the age of 67 a guy I'd known since sixth grade, meeting Jesus in 1971, having long-time friends and finding new ones, graduating from college at the ripe old age of 35, teaching school for 23 years, publishing my first novel--all that and more.

If we make a list, we see that our lives are a balance between the rain and sunshine. It's a given that we'll have both. But when the rain comes, we need to remember that the sunshine follows, and not only the sunshine but the rainbow.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Get Smart?

We saw the new movie, "Get Smart," yesterday. It got me to thinking.
A re-do of the original television series by the same name, the new Maxwell Smart is as lame-brained as the original, yet he manages to get out of trouble and catch the crooks. He's an agent for CONTROL, a secret U.S. agency. That's about it. But after sitting through the movie (we have friends who laughed out loud during it), I got to thinking exactly what being smart means.
We believe we have smart grandchildren, and our children were smart in school. We know people we say are smart because they are accountants, physicians, computer techs, engineers and on and on. We don't think about truck drivers or janitors as being smart. I looked up the word and Webster gives definitions of sharp pain, enduring distress, pay a heavy or stinging penalty. The number three definition is to be witty or fashionable. Finally, at number four the slang is intelligence and know-how.
Remember in grade school calling some one a "smart alec" or "smarty pants?" And there's the new (at least to me) smart ass. We have smart cards (a small plastic card that has a built-in micro-processor to store and process data and records), smart money (for well-informed insiders, bettors or speculators), smart-weed (a variety polygonums with strong acid juice--what?), and as we saw in Europe and are seeing here now, Smart cars (little cars that use less gas but wouldn't stand up against a bicycle if they were in a crash.)
We all want our children to be smart. We want to be considered smart (instead of dumb.) But maybe instead of smartness, what we really desire is wisdom. Wisdom is way above smartness. It's the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships, to have good judgment, good sense, to make wise, sane and sensible decisions.
Ted Bundy was smart, but he wasn't wise.
In the beginning of his reign, King Solomon was wise, but when you look at his life, it doesn't look like he was very smart. He had an obsession for women (seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines--give me a break!), foreign women who were able to turn him away from God. He built places to worship and sacrifice to other gods. This was a guy who had seen God twice! It's hard to figure out why Solomon lost his wisdom, even after writing words like: "Wisdom is better than strength," Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good." Was he prophysying to himself?
It's easy to get smart, get book learning, watch television and know all the trivia that will win you a million dollars if you're on the right show, save the planet, influence politicians and CEOs, make a perfect score on every test, operate on someone's brain or heart. . . but it's harder to be wise.
It just might be that the truck driver or the janitor we think doesn't have book-learning might be the wisest man we know. Listen to what people say, how they live, who they admire, how they treat other people.
Wisdom is easy to see when we're looking for it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Blog A Day. . .

Yesterday a man we know asked me what blogs are all about. I told him all I knew about it, which isn't much. Finally he said, "So, it's a place you write whatever you want to write and people can comment. That's all it is."

I guess that's all it seems to be. For someone who has kept diaries and journals for most of my life, it feels like more than that. I've known a few people who are going through tough battles with illnesses. For those of us who want to know what's happening to the person we care about, it's a way for them to keep everyone informed without the family having to tell the facts over and over.

Honestly, I haven't read any blogs written by people I don't know, so I can't tell you why they're written. I mean to, but it's not one of the "high on my priority" to-do list. It might be that a blog might simply be narcissistic. "I think what I have to say will interest everyone" narcissism. It might be a way to bypass paying money to a therapist to work through some areas of concern in a person's life. When I have a problem that's bumping around in my mind, and I put it into the written word, I can see it more clearly. More times than not, that's when I hear from God on the issue.

When I was a young adult, I found all my old "teen years" diaries and read every page. Alot of what I wrote embarrassed me. I didn't want anyone else to ever read those words, and I destroyed all of them. I wish I hadn't. They were who I was, and I shouldn't have been ashamed of that girl. Another time in my life, after several heartbreaking years were finally over, I burned all that I'd written before and during those times. In my heart I was saying to God, "I give up everything and want to begin anew." I think I'm glad those are gone.

I didn't stop journaling, and I still have all those books in the top of a closet. I've gone back to them many times. They're labeled by years and I can go to five years ago and see what was going on in my life--what God was saying to me, what I was feeling and thinking, the scriptures that spoke to me. I didn't write every day. Sometimes weeks would go by before I'd make note of something. The journaling was, and still is, especially good for the times I needed to work through something. I've been working through something the past weeks, and that's why I started blogging. I think it helped.

I still write the most intimate thoughts in my journal, of course, and they'll stay there until I die. I have no idea if my children will pick up those books and toss them or say, "This was Mom. Let's see what she was saying." If it was my mother's writings, I know I'd save them and read them after she was gone.

Could my reason for blogging be that I just love writing and expressing myself and seeing it in print? Could it be that I like connecting with people and learning more about friends by reading their blogs? Whatever the reason, I'm glad I live in the technological computer years, and I'm glad I've discovered blogging.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday Morning Gratitude

Okay. So I've been pretty morose lately. Sorry about that. When I hear about friends who have cancer, friends having frustration and pain because of kids that just won't grow up and be responsible, friends who need jobs, heartbroken friends whose children have gone away and is out of touch, my grandson's friend who was murdered and another whose baby died shortly after birth--well, after a bit it begins to get to me. Then I talk to my own kids and feel the love.

Gratitude is what it's all about. Seeing the good in everything is important. It doesn't always look like there's good in the worst events, but life is a balance. Where there is bad, there has to be good. Same the other way around. Paul talked about that balance in the third chapter of Philippians. He said he had learned to be content in everything, even when he was hungry or well fed or had plenty or been in want. In all of it he learned it was God who gave him the strength to do everything.

After a night of little sleep, I'm just glad to be alive and healthy and hope you are, too --both alive and healthy and most of all grateful.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Can't sleep?
Neither can I.
What's your reason? Coffee? Menopause? Aches and pains?
Or is it worry?
I know. We aren't supposed to worry. It does no good and can't change a thing.
I'd love to let Jesus carry it all for me, but there are just times when I can't seem to let it go.
I replay conversations in my mind.
I play conversations I wish I could have.
Go back and read my very first post. Regret and worry are yesterday and tomorrow. We're supposed to live today.
Okay. I can't change yesterday and I have no control over tomorrow. All I have is right now, today, or tonight as the case may be.
God help me. God help all of us who can't sleep, who worry, who have regrets. God help us rest in You.

Dirty Love Slave

Over a decade ago I had what some people might term a "call" in my life.
A situation existed that troubled me greatly. After many tears and much prayer I got an answer. "Love unconditionally."
Now that's hard, isn't it? To love without conditions when the situation appears to be impossible and the person (in our eyes) needs to make some changes. But what I heard in my heart was so powerful that I didn't have peace until I accepted the "call" and did it. The amazing part of this "call" was that when I truly loved without conditions, the situation immediately changed.
I've done this, as best I can, since then. (Oh, yes. I've failed many times.) But when I am successful, I feel like I'm on "Holy Ground." It isn't about me. It's about the person that needs to be loved by me instead of having my judgement. It's kind of like being a slave or a servant. It's all about the master's desires, not the one carrying them out.
Sometimes this makes me a dirty love slave--subjecting myself to being on my knees, in the dirt of Holy Ground and serving the person instead of myself. Most times I need alot of help being able to do it, but every time I make the choice, the help is there.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Love Unveiled

In the book, "Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul," Stasi Eldredge writes, "Having a child is like having your heart walk around outside your body." All parents should attest to that feeling, but I've known some who were able to walk away from their children. I can't imagine ever doing that. Even as old as my own children are now, never in their lives did I ever feel I could walk away from them. They have my heart. That's why it is so devastingly heart breaking when a child turns away from the parent, when a child sees the parent as the enemy, when a child makes choices that bring him harm, and when communication between parent and child is broken. In those empty times, the only solace the parent has is knowing their child can't walk so far away that God can't find them and bring them back. The writer of Lamentations puts it this way, "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I hope in Him."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

One More Day

Every day is a chance to make life new once more. The past can be forgotten, and forgiven, the future unknown but filled with promise, and today a time to celebrate.
Why? you may ask.
Because we are well, safe and loved.
In a world of mounting sickness and death (from disease, crime and war)--if on this one day we face none of these things, it's time to be thankful and look for ways to help those who aren't well, safe or loved today.