Archive for January, 2014

Dear Mom and Dad……

Posted: January 17, 2014 in World On The Edge

file000680453648

If you’re a parent and see this picture of an opened wallet, you know where the money is going—to one of your children.

The wallet, of course, is opened many times, and those times multiply according to the number of children you have. My husband and I have five, so our wallet was very busy, and very tired!

“Thanks Mom and Dad,” was/is always the response. “I love you more than anything in the world!” Sweet words from a grateful child–a child with dreams.

Who can refuse a child with dreams? No matter how outrageous their dream may seem to us. Dreams are the spurs of life, though in a young person, dreams can change–monthly, if not daily.

Still, we want to do whatever we can to see our baby happy. So we open our wallets, hoping we’ll find a few dollars still in it. Then we wait for the response, the words, the hugs, the smiles. And we love it!

We love it that we can give gifts to our children–because they are truly God’s gift to us.

Monsters Can Change

Posted: January 14, 2014 in World On The Edge

file1791242309948Have you ever put your parents through Hell?

Have you ever put your children through Hell?

Have you ever been in a place in your life when you were a Monster to others?

Did you hit the bottom?

Did you get tired of being tired?

Or hate yourself after every senseless argument, or action, that hurt someone you say you love?

We may not have seen it before, but  when those painful things happen, we begin to see ourselves as what we’ve become–Monsters.

And Monsters can change.

First we have to accept what we’ve done and face the fear of what it has done to our lives, and to the lives of family members and friends.

Next, we can make no excuses–none at all.  We cannot blame others. We must take responsibility. And then show, and tell, those  our monster-status has hurt that we are sorry, and ask for their forgiveness.

Last, we must do everything we can to forgive ourselves. How? Realize that God  forgives us as soon as we ask Him to. Realize that He’s never stopped loving us. And simply love him back in the ways He’s shown us;  through Scripture, through our church, through other loving people.

We can reform, and we can transform,  ourselves into the person we’d like to be.

And so many of us do!

Finally, a very important note.  To anyone who has gone through the pain of living with a Monster you love—-please don’t ever say you won’t forgive!!

A Monster should never be without hope that he or she can be a Teddy Bear again.0003_1

Work — Happy Time!

Posted: January 13, 2014 in World On The Edge
 Number One Happiest Job--Clergy

Number One Happiest Job–Clergy

How many people do you think are truly happy in their jobs? And what makes them happy?

The money, you say?

Or is it pride that what they are doing has some larger meaning?

Apparently, it isn’t always money.

ACCORDING TO FORBES MAGAZINE,  people in these ten jobs are happiest:

1.  Clergy:  The least worldly are reported to be the happiest of all

2. Firefighters: Eighty percent of firefighters are “very satisfied” with their jobs, which involve helping people.

3. Physical therapists: Social interaction and helping people apparently make this job one of the happiest.

4. Authors: For most authors, the pay is ridiculously low or non-existent, but the autonomy of writing down the contents of your own mind apparently leads to happiness.

5.  Special education teachers: If you don’t care about money, a job as special education teacher might be a happy profession.

6. Teachers: Teachers in general report being happy with their jobs, despite the current issues with education funding and classroom conditions. The profession continues to attract young idealists, although fifty percent of new teachers are gone within five years.

7. Artists: Sculptors and painters report high job satisfaction, despite the great difficulty in making a living from it.

8. Psychologists: Psychologists may or may not be able to solve other people’s problems, but it seems that they have managed to solve their own.

9. Financial services sales agents: Sixty-five percent of financial services sales agents are reported to be happy with their jobs. That could be because some of them are clearing more than $90,000 dollars a year on average for a 40-hour work week in a comfortable office environment.

10. Operating engineers: Playing with giant toys like bulldozers, front-end loaders, backhoes, scrapers, motor graders, shovels, derricks, large pumps, and air compressors can be fun.  With more jobs for operating engineers than qualified applicants, operating engineers report being happy.

 SO………

To be able to work is a blessing.  To have a job that you like is happiness. To do your very best in your work, whatever it might be, is a virtue.  We’d all like high-paying,  fun jobs, but what’s more important is that we try to excel  in whatever job we have.

AND TAKE NOTE:

Not only will that please our employer, but we will please ourselves. There’s no higher satisfaction than knowing we’ve consciously set out to do a good job, and succeeded.  And what a booster in   self-confidence it is when we’re able to smile from ear to ear and say about the job we’ve accomplished: YOU CAN’T TOUCH THIS!

What Other People Think

Posted: January 10, 2014 in World On The Edge

ummmmmmWe worry a lot about what other people think of us. Do they like my outfit? My hair? Do they think I’m too fat, or too thin? Do they think I’m smart enough?

When I was a child, I often heard from others, “Don’t do that, or wear this. What will they think?”
But I never knew who exactly “they” were.

To a certain extent, we do have to care about what others think–if those others are people who have our best interests at heart, such as family or good friends. And if we have children, we care that they perceive us as a good influence.

But in general, we shouldn’t worry. The fact is, most people aren’t thinking about us at all. Their concern is for themselves and their own problems.

So why do we obsess about any impression we have on others? The reasons  vary because we’re all different, with unique upbringing, and unique childhood experiences. However, I do believe–and its only my opinion–that the concern begins when we’re young, with self-identity.

For some children, especially those without intact families, insecurity is a problem–a problem that isn’t their fault, yet affects their self-confidence. So they worry about how they look to others, and then bend to the majority, whichever way the wind blows at the time.

For others, it’s the need to NOT stand out, but to appear to belong to the group. This need gets stronger as children grow into their teens and suffer from peer pressure.

And then, there are some young people who want to shock others by their behavior or appearance because they’ve been wounded in an emotional way and find it necessary to project themselves as tough enough to have gotten through it–their way, not yours. They care because they WANT to stand out, and it’s almost a cry for help.

Then again, we’re all born with a personalized set of genes and passed down family traits–so maybe it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why our concern for the approval of others can be so strong.

Still, I think our primary concern should be how pleased WE are with ourselves. What do WE think about, not when we look in a mirror, but when we take a good, honest look at our actions, good and bad, that come from within.

file000676823972I love Netflix! Last night I watched “Death of a Salesman,” a classic, Pulitzer-winning play by Arthur Miller that I studied in college and never quite forgot.

The movie was beautifully acted by Dustin Hoffman as Willie Lohman, the salesman. Here is a man in his sixties who’s never quite made it because he’s had the wrong dream, trying to be a successful businessman when he was actually not equipped for it.

Unable to accept that he’s failed, Willie unloads his same dream onto his two sons, especially Biff, who Willie imagines will rise to greatness because of his looks, athletic ability, and the fact that “he was well-liked.”

The play, movie, is a tragedy, mostly I think, in Willie’s role as a father. That he loves his sons is made apparent, but the kind of love he shows them is ruinous. He has a dream for them–his dream, not theirs. And he’s a man who cannot accept the reality that he is a failure in the job chose to build his life around, so he lies to make himself seem successful. He lies to his sons, and even to himself.

The greatest love we can give our children is Truth–to show them who they are–valuable human beings created by God. But we should never sugar-coat their mistakes. And often, we do that, maybe because their mistakes are similar to ours and we don’t want to personally own up either.

It’s important that we don’t selfishly implant in children our own dreams and expect them to play them out with any success. We have to realize each child’s uniqueness. But most of all we have to realize where we ourselves have failed in our lives so far, and make an attempt to keep our children from doing the same–by being truthful, not dishonest.

Getting to know our children and their personalities is so important. We cannot guide them properly if we look through the rose-colored glasses of what WE want them to be. Always, we need to see them as individuals, children who came through us—but are NOT US.

Parents and children—and I think especially Fathers and sons—no matter how deeply they love each other, often have many regrets. But there will always be a certain bond there.

So, may Fathers and Sons respect each other for who they are, and may each forgive the other for being a fallible human being.

Unreliable Connections

Posted: January 8, 2014 in World On The Edge

file000749661761There are a lot of unreliable ‘tech things’ that we’ve come to rely on. And it often seems that when we’re really anxious to use them, they fail us. Of course, I know that no ‘thing’ is reliable all of the time. But hey–in the middle of the Auburn game?

Monday night, at the beginning of the third quarter of Auburn vs. Florida State for the National Championship, our cable went down. Since we have the ‘package deal,’ our phone and computer connections were also off. We tried everything we knew (not much because we’re not what you’d call ‘tech savvy’) and then determined it wasn’t us, but the cable company.

So my husband got out his cell phone–the smart one–and found a play-by -play description of the game, but no video. For an hour, he played the football commentator–and then in the last few minutes of the game, the cable came on again. Sadly, we were able to see Auburn lose.

And I cannot tell you how many times in the past couple of months I’ve lost material I’d written in the Word program I use on my computer. Or how one of the new windows we had put in our house suddenly wouldn’t close tightly on the coldest night we’ve had in years.

Man-made things are often unreliable, but what about people? Are there people you can’t rely on? Don’t we all know at least one or two people we may like, but wouldn’t trust with anything important?

We live in a beautiful, but very imperfect world, a world that is never quite as in synq as we’d like it to be. So we have to make allowances.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be discriminating. No one wants a product that doesn’t work. And no one wants to give up too much of themselves to a person who can’t be trusted.

This is not unkind. This is using the sense God gave you–because some things and people tie us to places we don’t want to be, and shouldn’t be. There are times to let those unreliable things and people go Bye-Bye. Or else have only yourself to blame for the troubles they will cause.

Tomorrow

Posted: January 7, 2014 in World On The Edge

file000324750683At times we feel like a fragile leaf taken up by the wind, with no control over where we’re going. And we worry, we obsess. We may shake, or sweat, crying out, “What will happen to me?”

Maybe we’re suffering from some disease. Maybe we’re despondent over the loss of a loved one. Or we may have deliberately hurt someone else, and while we regret it, what we’ve done eats away at us.

We may have committed an offense we don’t think we can be forgiven for.  Or we may be afraid of the punishment we’ll receive from that offense.  All these happenings can alter us until we barely respond to others in kind ways, because there’s too much darkness around us to recgonize any sort of joy.

But life itself is good. Life can be affirming even in our sorrow, pain, or distress.

The idea that Life is good doesn’t come to us from something outside of us. It comes from inside us, if we allow it to.  It comes from creating in our hearts an attitude of Trust–no matter who has hurt us, or who we’ve lost, no matter how terrible we think we’ve been, and no matter how weak our bodies have become.

Trust means a lack of worry about tomorrow. Trust means loving the moment we are living in.  Trust means that even if the moment we love doesn’t last, our Trust, our Faith, our Hope will last.

Can we do this alone? Can we stoke the fire inside us and carry it forward without someone else? Don’t we need a hand to hold, the hand of someone who truly loves us?

Oh, you are alone? And nobody loves you?

Don’t fall for that.

We are never alone–not alone on the top of a mountain of happiness and good fortune, and not alone at the bottom of a sea of sorrow and despair.

The One who created us never leaves us.

Trust that the hand of God is always extended to you.

All you need do is reach out and take it.

Then tomorrow will take care of itself.

The Year to Change?

Posted: January 6, 2014 in World On The Edge

DSC_1326-2No doubt this is the time for new resolutions, the beginning of a brand new year in our lives. No doubt, too, we make those resolutions–and too often break them, even before the year has a chance to get going.  Because change is hard,  and commonly, we’re fallible people.

Is it possible to make this year an  uncommon one ?  I do have that capability.

But do I have the drive it will take?

Can I  look at myself honestly, realizing that true change isn’t a walk in the park, but something that may require my blood, sweat, and tears?

Oh, I don’t like the sound of that even as I write it.

The summer after I graduated from high school, I worked in our local bank as a teller, the same bank in which my father worked. I was able to use the money I made to buy clothes I’d need for college. Except I hated being a teller. I didn’t like fooling with other peoples’ money, and God knows I could never balance my window! Always, I had to ask the experienced tellers to help me.

And that hurt my pride.

I had worked there only one pay period when I told my father I was tired of it and wanted to quit.

He looked at me without expression. “How many outfits were you able to buy with the money you’ve made?”

“A few,” I had to admit–some really cute outfits hung in my closet, ready to be packed for college. Still, I whined. “But Daddy, I just don’t like being a teller.”

“Let’s see,” he said, summing up, “You don’t like the work, but you do like the results of the work?”

What could I say, but yes.

Lesson learned.  I needed to keep my eye on the prize— what I was working toward. So  each time I wanted to quit, I pictured my closet full of really cute college clothes.

Many, many years have passed since that summer working at the job I hated. I barely remember the mistakes I made in the teller’s window, or the embarrassing times I had to ask for help. But I surely remember the day I unloaded a closet of clothes on my first day at college, and the pride I felt that I’d seen the job through.

When we make resolutions, we have to decide how important to us they are. And we have to accept that changing ourselves is often a big job and that we won’t like the process, because some bad habits most definitely  give us pleasure–a guilty pleasure, but pleasure nonetheless.

I must try to let go of that transient pleasure and aim for the result of  what ‘letting go’ will do for me in the long run. Maybe the result is a greater respect for my own body, allowing it to be healthier and stronger. Maybe it’s  a more loving relationship with my family or with God. Maybe it’s sharing the talents or abundance I have less selfishly. Whatever it is, I suspect we all know in our hearts what we’re being called to do.

And we  can’t allow pride or fear or laziness stop us. We can’t blame our reticence on certain people or situations.  We have to stop talking, be still and look at ourselves honestly, and then commit to change  for a prize of greater benefit.

just me handsWe’ve often heard that we are the hands and feet of Christ on Earth. But are we really? Do we truly serve others as God intends us to do? Or are we mostly concerned about “Just Me?”

Today, I present a guest post, from the journal of Debbie Dearing Leal, that will cause each of us to consider the question: Am I a Servant to Others?

ABOUT LAST NIGHT

By Debbie Dearing Leal

Yesterday was Noah’s 18th birthday. As always it’s pretty hard to make a good celebration for him at this time of year right in the middle of Christmas and New Years Day. It started out pretty well with uncle, aunt and Nana dropping off gifts before they left town, then a French neighbor dropped by to play the flute and guitar while singing Happy Birthday.
I made reservations at a fancy restaurant in town for 8:15 pm.

Noah took his friend Thomas to a couple of urgent care clinics trying to get an X-ray and an opinion on his hand that we thought was fractured from an earlier accident. They walked back into the house and stated that they had no luck finding anything open. I took charge because this had gone on for two days now and called around a few places without any luck either. So, we piled into my car and headed to the hospital ER.

We checked him in and and took seats in the waiting area along with an almost full house of others in need of care. The hours slipped by as Thomas was called back several times for different care givers to inspect his hand and then sent him back to wait some more.

As I sat there I was overcome with heartache for those around me. There were old ones in wheelchairs, young ones with terrible coughs; there were expectant mothers with fear in their eyes.

Several caught up my heart and I moved closer to learn the reason for their suffering and try to help. One young couple who asked to use my phone to make a call to check on their two children left in the care of their grandfather. They had no minutes left on their phones. Have I ever even thought about not having the use of a phone? I am so out of touch with the suffering.

She was doubled over with waves of excruciating pain and had been patiently waiting for a long time so I went to the “check in” desk and waited in line again. When it was finally my turn, I asked if they knew about the young woman’s terrible pain and how badly she was suffering. The pretty and well dressed blond told me she was aware but there wasn’t a room available yet. Then she just stared at me without any compassion. I took my seat again by the couple and began to pray for her. I asked her name and told her I was asking our Blessed Mother to pray for her. She thanked me between her waves of pain.

Another young couple walked in covered in tattoos, carrying a large, black trash back filled with clothes. She threw the bag in a chair and sat down beside me and collapsed onto the bag in sleep. They guy with her took a seat beside her and collapsed onto her in sleep. After awhile his cell phone rang and as he talked I realized he was speaking with his mother somewhere working a twelve hour shift in the hospital. I couldn’t get the whole story but they were homeless and waiting for his mother to get off working a twelve hour shift somewhere in the hospital to help them somehow. At least it was warm here. He hung up the phone and dug out a sandwich with white bread from some shelter. He offered to share it with Noah and me and apologized for bothering us. They were very sweet and kind. We assured him that he wasn’t a bother. The girl hardly moved except to use the restroom once. It was 13 degrees outside. We could all judge why a homeless person has a cellphone, but he is someone’s son and a mother always loves their child. No matter what.

As I sat there I was overcome with heartache for the suffering around me. I continued to pray the rosary for all of them and asking for some relief of their sufferings. I thought that if we want to help somehow, we could pick any day of the week and just sit in the waiting room of any hospital ER and pray. We could let them use our phones, talk to them and just be present to them. Be little “Christs” to them.

After several hours Noah and I looked at the time and it was 7 PM. We decided that tonight’s dinner reservations were not going to happen so I opened the app on my phone and cancelled our table. Noah didn’t complain one bit.

I went to warm up the car because Thomas had texted us that he was almost done. He and Noah came out with smiles and told me he has to see an orthopedic surgeon to see if he needs surgery. Did I mention that Thomas is from Europe and knows no one here in the US except a few other students at the college they attend and Noah is his best friend? He can’t go home for Christmas because the fare is too steep to fly.

I am so proud of our son for always thinking of others before himself. I am proud of his caring heart. I am overwhelmed with all of the pain I witnessed last night.

Lord help us to see the needs of others and respond to them as you would respond. This is what Christ asks of us.