Luck or Something More?

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Why do some people breeze through life seemingly with no problems? Why are some people thin and never have to consider what they eat? Why do some people suffer what seem like more than their fair share of life’s tougher issues, and others don’t?

Who knows — only God, I guess. At any rate, God is the one I have to trust, believing that there’s a reason for suffering, that he has a plan for each of us, and is willing to go on the journey with us, if we ask him.

My niece was born with a birth defect. You’d never know from looking at her, but at age 40 she’s had about the same number of surgeries, and they’re never easy or straight-forward. She’s had far more than her share of pain, not because of the defect, but because of the surgeries necessary and how they have affected her body. The doctors have been great — no fault there. It’s just a continuous problem she lives with daily.

My niece was also born with the kindest, sunniest disposition that one can have. She has a beautiful smile, and uses it often to warm people’s lives: her family, her patients (she’s a nurse), and friends. She doesn’t complain, and continually pushes herself to be the best possible person and professional she can be. Giving in to her health problems is not an option for her; she lives life to the fullest and has a gift of helping others, listening with empathy, and offering sound and caring advice.

I admire her fortitude, her love of life and those in it, and her determination. I just wish she’d get some health breaks, and not have to suffer the pain I know she live with amidst her busy life.

As she recovers from yet another surgery, tougher than expected (as usual), I wish her speedy recovery. I know her faith is strong, and God is at her side.

Bless her.

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Transformation

This is a wonderful and helpful post, Shannon. You are right on so many levels, and your confession is appropriate. We’re all that way, no matter how much we involve God in your lives. Life is a struggle sometimes. I’ve had a couple of really bad periods/events in my life and fortunately I did come out “a better person” for the journey, by the grace of God. I don’t know if I need your permission to reblog this, but it is in harmony with some of the blogs I’ve written lately that I’d hope you won’t mind.

Doodles Invigorate

transformation_Doodles-Invigorate

I always hear people ask why can’t I be happy all the time? I see them striving to obtain this eternal non-stop bliss party. I was one of them. Life doesn’t work that way! God allows bad things to happen for a reason. Overcoming horrible events and emotions are what shapes, molds, and transforms us. It can shape you into a monster or it can shape you into something beautiful. How you transform is based on your perspective on life and how you handle your emotions. We must fight to ignore negative emotions caused by bad experiences. We must strive to look through a positive lens. Then we will find moments of happiness in stressful times. Then it is easier to hear God. Moments that are filled with light, guide us through the darkest valleys.

A special note to Christians in the valley: The valley is filled with spiritual warfare…

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Overcome

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I cannot help but think of the great hymn, “We Shall Overcome”, sung so frequently at civil rights marches in the ’60’s. It brings a lump to my throat, not just because marchers were often treated violently, but because they had the fortitude, faith, and moral character to demonstrate peacefully. What a leader they had in Dr. Martin Luther King. Not a perfect man, but a perfect man for the job and the times.

Were all the marches peaceful? No, even if the marchers were, often violence was instigated by law enforcement under the direction of the city, the state, the governors — those who are charged with keeping the peace, except when it came to blacks marching en masse, including many white supporters.

In some ways, those were the best of times. When has a cause been so morally justified? When have people demonstrated without resorting to violence, name-calling, or destruction of property? When has prayer, in this non-religious establishment country, been used more effective and forcefully.

I have the privilege of having seen all this during my teenage years. I would not want to have missed witnessing just change come about. Being from Ohio, I did not know the level of segregation and the feelings behind it, that existed in many parts of the South. And I’m glad I didn’t. Imagine being brought up to hate, to disparage other people without consequence, even to kill without proper legal force being brought to bear on the crime. Justice was served, if not immediately, at least in law by 1965. You do not change people’s hearts and minds overnight, so the fight took longer, and in may ways continued peacefully. As Dr. King said (below), “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Some groups wanted violence, but Dr. King always said no to that, and the heinous ending of his life just showed where violence and hatred reap.

These people overcome first their righteous anger, their hatred of whites who had held them in their places for generations in order to overcome on a much larger scale — forcing laws and a legal acceptance which has led to equality.

I will not defend my remark on equality; I know that many feel that racism is still alive and active. I personally question this, and believe that when people come together peacefully and legally, they stand on an equal footing. No amount of legislation will make us hate or love, or wipe out discrimination of all kinds.

When we are individually and collectively able to overcome our own prejudices, biases, and the further ahead we will move in making this a truly free country, one in which all are judged “not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.”

 

The Truth, As I See It

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I woke up the other morning with this on my mind (I don’t know why!): There is truth. Something is true or it isn’t, but so much of what we see and hear and even say to one another is only the truth as it is perceived. Is that because of our own experiences, or do we just have personal biases that make us hear facts differently? Are we merely uninformed? No doubt it is a combination of things — but I have become wary of someone telling me something, as if it were the truth, and it just isn’t, it’s only one version, or half the story.

Today I heard someone comment on “news” they had read on Facebook. Is that a good, reliable source for news? What about the internet — what’s unbiased and totally factual? There are even sites designed to purposely skew or misrepresent events. We know our media is biased, though that doesn’t mean TV, radio, and newspaper outlets always attempt to hoodwink the public.

Then there’s the more pernicious disinformation which is information given out generally by government agencies (all over the world) which misrepresent the facts for a specific reason — they’re lies that sound truthful, and often there’s an agenda in this “lying”. Then there’s misinformation, which is less purposely wrong and misleading, but nonetheless, inaccurate. Finally, there is simply omission. News is just not reported, so the public has no knowledge of events.

What’s a person seeking truth to do? It seems as if any sources we go to may be gilding or diminishing the truth. There is little else to do than choose sources that seem generally reliable and read several of those — then judge what seems reasonable.

One of the most interesting continuing news stories that keeps popping up like Wack-a-Moles is the alleged interference by Russia in the 2016 elections. Have any facts been produced which are indisputable to show that this is either true or false? Yet the story has a life of its own, or it is in the best interest of group to keep the allegations alive.

There are so many other examples, big and small: global warming; Melania Trump’s shoes (who cares — it’s petty and stupid to mention it); the lack of coverage on the devastating earthquake in Mexico (like we don’t have enough of our own problems); the reasons Hillary Clinton lost the election (is her book accurate?); North Korea’s intentions regarding the rest of the world (I dread to think); what diet’s best for losing weight?

Biased minds, conflicting facts, special interests, a desire to be first in the ratings — all of these obscure the truth I’d like to know.

 

 

 

Mad or Madness

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I’m mad. I didn’t wake up this way. My husband came into the bedroom about 7:30 as I was getting up and told me our drain (the main drain) was backed up AGAIN and I couldn’t use any of the “facilities”. When the drain gets blocked, the sewage water from the house drains onto the utility room floor. It’s disgusting, and I should be thankful to my husband for cleaning up that mess. And I am grateful, but I still can’t shake my anger.

For anger to be this strong, I feel like there has to be another reason. I’m feeling it in my muscles and bones, that pent-up feeling of powerlessness. I need a vent, and soon I’ll go to yoga, and hopefully that will help.

What’s odd, is I rarely get rip-roarin’ mad. I think all the pressures that are foisted upon us from a 24-hour news cycle has something to do with it. My sister lives in Florida near Tampa, and of course I’m worried about her, her children, and her grandchildren — and even people I don’t know. What a horrible storm. The devastation in Houston has only begun to be cleared up — and that will take forever — and now we have another area of the country waiting to be torn to shreds and dropped in floods of filthy water.

Life’s not fair. (But I know that.)

I get tired of the Trump bashing, the races fighting, the Alt-Left assaulting the Alt-Right, and vice versa, the Neo-Nazis, the Left-wing agitators, the attacks on free speech and free thought — I think I need a rest from TV and the internet.

I’m mad, but now I’m off to yoga, and hopefully I’ll be able to quit obsessing and cope with the rest of the day, not matter what cr*p it brings.

Critical

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When we hear a friend or family member is in the hospital in critical condition, we worry greatly. They might not “make it”; they may die. Serious indeed.

The definition I’m using is: pertaining to or of the nature of a crisis; of decisive importance with respect to the outcome, crucial.

So much of what is labeled of critical importance just isn’t. We are led to believe that so much of what is going on in the world is so important that it demands our immediate attention. We are beckoned to care, to react, to be indignant, to support or condemn. It’s exhausting mentally and psychologically.

If I watch the news, and take everything as seriously as they present it, I’d be in a catatonic state. Yet there are other events they don’t mention that really are critically important. The news du jour is fickle: it may be earth-shattering today, and not mentioned the next. Yet, the media does get some things right.

While the coverage of the Hurricane Harvey and its devastation of the lives of probably millions of people is somewhat repetitious, it is of critical importance that those people be helped, in many cases, immediately. I can’t imagine living in a world where I’ve lost everything, have only the clothes on my back, fear financial ruin, have to keep my family calm and occupied in a gym with a thousand other people, and can’t even get a decent drink of water.

Look at the coverage on TV: people helping people. They don’t shun one another because they’re black, white, gay, transsexual, poor or rich — the just do it. This is a lesson in basic humanity and caring for our fellow-man (women, children, and even pets).

The next item on the news may be about how terrible the left, the right, gun-owners, extremists on either end of the spectrum, Melania Trump’s shoes are — whatever, but when it comes down to saving someone in critical condition, people help people.

I love it and think it’s great news.

Savor

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Food samples are always available at Costco’s and the other day I couldn’t pass up a taste of cheesecake. I would never buy a cheesecake — far too many calories and fat and weight. I savored that little bite. It was creamy, sweet, but with a dash of the sour that the cheese brings. The crust contrasted with the smooth texture of the filling. And the cream on top, even smoother than the cheesecake itself. I savored that bite, and spent several minutes letting every taste roll around my mouth before it was gone.

How many things in life do I savor, I wondered. Certainly every moment is special, and once it’s gone it’s gone. I cherished the moments I spent holding my babies, and prayed the I would be able to relive those intense feelings of happiness and contentment.  Only the fact that is was special remains, but I still like holding babies! Cradling that trust and innocence and even calming their discomforts is rewarding unlike anything else.

I try hard to imprint my mind with those things that are so special: the sea when it’s a bit angry, or the sun shining on the sand, the wave of dune grasses, the greenness of cultivated fields, varying with more shades of green than available on a palette. Only photos remind me of how beautiful those things are, but only occasionally do they elicit the happy feelings.

Slowing down in life is important to noticing the extraordinary in everyday life. You have to be aware to make the most of the special moments of life, and stop and appreciate them. I’ve noticed how often these are found in nature — perhaps the most perfect of God’s creation.

Even though they can be really demanding, one has to stop sometimes and just notice how very special each child is and the little steps of progress they are making, physically and mentally. My 14 month-old granddaughter is just about to walk, and we all stop when she stands, wondering if this will be that special moment we wouldn’t want to miss. Watching them think, wonder, and discover are priceless.

Being present for every moment is the key to experiencing and enjoying life to its fullest. One book is entitled “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” How true. If we’re bothered constantly with the minutiae of our ordinary existence, we miss the small things that make the best memories to savor.