Archive for July, 2017

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There are 9.5 billion acres of trees in the world, 400,000 types of flowering plant species, 10,000 species of birds, and 15,000 species of animals. Yet each one in those species is unique. No tree or flower, no bird or beast, no star in heaven, is an exact replica of another. Each of them is one of a kind.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the uniqueness of people. Even with billions of people in the world, there is no person completely like another. There never has been, and never will be. Even identical twins have distinguishable characteristics. So, in all of time, there won’t be another ‘you.’ Don’t you think that is amazing? I do!

The rareness of an object makes it more valuable. As human beings, we are more than objects; so if each of us is ‘one of a kind’ then each of us must be extremely valuable, and extremely loved by the Creator who brought us into being. Do we recognize our own value, and the value of each other? How can we not respect ourselves and every other person?

Often we measure our own value and the value of others in terms of inanimate things: possessions, wealth, power, position, title, education, houses, cars, and pleasure. But  it’s because of our pricelessness that we have dignity and  purpose as individuals. We are truly “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14.

I’ll try hard to remember that the next time I’m tempted to put a ‘thing’ ahead of another person–an amazing person of value.

laughterMy mother loved to laugh. She passed that to her daughters, especially my sister, Mary. There was nothing my mother went through—and she went through a great deal–that she could not find some humor in it. My sister has carried that gift on. If either she or I feel bad or worried over something, a telephone call between us can help cure it.

In fact, growing up, we laughed a lot as a family. My father was a joker from the word go. I remember one incident during Spring Break in Panama City, Florida, when my parents chaperoned a group of our girlfriends—my sister’s and mine. There were quite a few of us so my parents had taken two cars to go eat dinner at the Shrimp Boat in Panama City. Coming back over the bay bridge to the beach, my mother’s car was suddenly side by side with a car of teenaged boys who kept waving to the excited girls. But I was in my father’s car, and our whining consensus was that since we were being driven by a man, the boys wouldn’t come up alongside and wave to us. Daddy fixed that.

One of my friends had a head scarf she’d used to keep her hair from blowing in the beach wind. “Hand me that scarf,” Daddy said, and put it on. He was quite a picture! Very soon the car with the boys left my mother’s car and came up beside us. It didn’t even matter that Daddy was smoking his cigar at the time; he put on his best, and hilarious, impression of a girl. We laughed so hard, all the way back to the beach with Daddy in that scarf. I’ll bet not one of the girls ever forgot it.

Of course, those were good times, not bad ones. Still, my parents’ sense of humor remained, and sustained us even in situations too sad to talk about. Somehow though, we were able to laugh.

I think we all take ourselves and our circumstances too seriously. Humor can lighten us, if we let it. Yet even when everything is rosy, there are some who never laugh and barely crack a smile. At times, I may have been guilty of that, too. But I dare say my sister has not. She’s definitely inherited the gift of humor. Now that my parents are gone, I look to her for that trait, and the beautiful sound of love she creates with her laughter. It makes me feel so good!!

TIED TO THE PAST????

Posted: July 18, 2017 in World On The Edge

elephant foot Forgiveness is a spiritual work of mercy, but some people won’t do it. You can apologize to them for a wrong you may have done, you can bake them a cake, take them a meal, pay their bills, or keep their children. Oh yes, they’ll let you do all that. But they won’t forgive you. They don’t seem able to let go of the past.

Why is the past– especially one that’s not so rosy– important to them? What attracts them to the role of forever playing a victim? Like the old saying, “an elephant never forgets,” they are tied past grievances.

A man I once knew had come through many problems in his life. Finally, he had the opportunity to move forward by forgiving just one person who had really hurt him. He didn’t forgive though, and so he remained stuck in the past, and miserable. He made others miserable, too. Needless to say, he was very hard to be around. In fact, being around him was like walking on egg shells, I had to be very cautious of every word I spoke for fear he might take it in the wrong way. He was a ‘hard case,’ but occasionally, don’t we all resort to this kind of mind control over someone who’s hurt us?

I believe some people see their victimization as a way to manipulate others. They play the “poor me” role. They portray themselves as targets of someone else’s behavior in order to gain pity or sympathy. In this way, they get something they want from another.

Since most human beings are caring and conscientious, they don’t like to see anyone suffering. A manipulator plays on this. He plays the victim by finding something in his past to hold over another’s head. And he finds it rewarding because in this way he gets cooperation.

Children are great manipulators. As mothers, we see some of it in their whining. “Send Johnny to time out. He won’t give me his toy to play with.” Fortunately, most children grow out of this behavior.

But some don’t. All their lives, they carry vendettas against the simplest things that could easily be forgiven and forgotten.

Here’s a story:

A man and his wife are sitting at the breakfast table. He’s reading the paper and paying no attention to her. Suddenly, she lifts her glass of orange juice and throws its content across the table.

“What was that for,” her surprised husband asks.

“What do you mean, what was that for! Have you already forgotten what you did to me twenty years ago?

There’s humor in this, but great sadness, too. So much of the present is lost by holding onto the past!

mountain sunHeaven on earth. What does that mean to us? Does it have to do with some sort of freedom?

Freedom is often confused with the license to do whatever a person wants to do. What many of us want to do is to serve ourselves. We want to get angry and hold grudges when we feel like it. We want to take the biggest piece of everything. We don’t won’t get off the couch when we need to. We think we’re so important that the world revolves around us, and only us. We want sex whenever, and wherever, and with whomever, we want to have it with. We lie about others, and put them down when they get in our way. We drink too much, eat too much, drug ourselves, or take medications without moderation.

And what does the above behavior encapsulate? The Seven Deadly Sins. Yes, sins: Wrath, Greed, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy, and Gluttony.

And none of that behavior brings us freedom. Often, it brings us misery instead. In fact, each sin comes accessorized with a particular kind of prison.

But……

“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
― John Paul II

We can catch Heaven on Earth, and do–every time we make moral choices and not immoral ones. Probably all of us remember when someone we respected or loved said to us, “Do the right thing.”

An awful lot is contained in those words.

They may be hard to live up to. We may not want to hear them. But when we “do the right thing” we are, ourselves, bringing a little of Heaven to Earth.

Why Protect LIFE???

Posted: July 10, 2017 in World On The Edge

Every society punishes those who take the life of another–except those who take the life of an unborn child.  That is a matter of ‘choice’ according to many.

It is an understatement to say that people are different. Each person has a completely different appearance, a different ancestry, a different environmental mindset. So, each person acts and reacts differently. The one common denominator every person on Earth has in common is that we possess a life that has been gifted to us for a single divine objective, therefore we are linked to each other because of God’s intention that each and every one of us be here.

To take the life of another person created by, and intended by God to live is not only murder, but also assuming God’s power as if we were entitled to it. Every time a human being takes another human life, he/she is not only injuring God Himself, but also saying to Him: My will be done, not YOUR will.

Yes, there are those who say they don’t believe in God, but are they any less culpable?

And yes, there are those who also say that the unborn child is not a person. Of course, that has been debunked. Today, with the many, many pictures and videos of children in the womb, any conviction that the child is not a person is ludicrous. And yet…..

And yet, we have so-called professionals, such as administrators of Planned Parenthood and those who BUY baby parts, using these innocent lives to PROFIT themselves.

Human life is NOT a buy and sell proposition at any age.

So, what is life really?

It is a gift that belongs to no one but God. We did not make ourselves. We did not ask to be here. We are put here for a purpose. And that purpose is to lift up ourselves and our fellow human beings, not to destroy them.

Lord, I’ll be still
Here is my will
It’s stubborn and it’s selfish and it’s weak
But I give it all to You

May there be less of me and more of You
May there be less of me my God

–Tori Harris

Turning in Circles???

Posted: July 8, 2017 in World On The Edge

Turning in Cirlces

Every action has a consequence. Do we consider the consequence before we move ahead? It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.–Warren Buffet

However, not many of us think about those five minutes when we are in the throes of something that captivates us.

Yet our lives are rambling questions. Should we, or shouldn’t we act in a a particular way? Daily we make those decisions, acting from our motives–often from the pleasure we think we will receive from doing something we want to do.

That ‘something’ may be good, not-so-good, or just plain evil. A good motive is easy to see. A not-so-good motive is often easy to understand, as well. But it is rare that we can actually understand a truly evil motive. This is because we were created to be good–in God’s likeness, not Satan’s.

BUT…the Evil One (And yes, Satan is real and often attacks us through other people) fiddles around with our motives, tells us that what we know we shouldn’t do, or have, is good for us. And because we are human and possess God’s gift of free will, we often excuse evil and go along with what we know is wrong. This is what happens in “Turning in Circles,” a young adult, southern fiction novel by Michelle Buckman in which two sixteen year old “almost twin” sisters make very different, and crucial, decisions.

The following quote is from Chapter Twelve of “Turning in Circles.”

Regrets, regrets. How often do we have them and still make the same mistakes over and over, wishing we could relive a moment, to change what we said or did, and in turn change the domino effect of everything that fell afterward?

There is much that eventually ‘falls,’ in Buckman’s novel, but the tension throughout is gradual. The reader really cares about these two sisters, and continues to hope as the pages are turned that the decisions of both will be good ones, despite the well-crafted sense of dread created by Buckman that points to the probable failure one of them when she takes up with a ‘bad boy.’

Buckman’s stories have been termed “Grit Lit,” as they offer compelling perspectives on contemporary issues.  That description is a good one for  “Turning in Circles.” A cluster of families make up the small, rural South Carolina town, and place is important. The history of some of these families is revealed and strengthens the sense of place so important to southern fiction.

The pace of the novel reminds me of a spinning top, but in reverse speed. It is deliberate and methodical in its beginning, then gradually spins faster until the ending when prior, well-set up actions of the main characters whirl woefully out of control.

There are important messages here for young adults, and adults as well, especially in a world consistently flashing dangerous messages of no restraint. But I would highly recommend it for teen groups who might have discussions after reading it.

Michelle Buckman  is the award-winning author of six more novels, an international speaker, workshop instructor, and magazine editor.

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A human characteristic is the ability to speak,to converse, to give instruction, to make our opinions known. We talk. We use our tongues–sometimes without thinking, and sometimes very intentionally.

Our speech is directed to another, a listener. The listener may be a child, a friend, a family member, or a stranger in the grocery store. Regardless of who or where, what we say to each other matters. Speech is a gift to be used with care. I would suggest loving care, though I’m often guilty of overlooking that.

Matthew 12:36 says, “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Wow! That’s a lot of personal responsibility.

Yet what we say to each other is not always done with words. Often it’s what we D0 that speaks loudest. How do our actions speak to our vulnerable children, or the friends and family who learn from us? Are we responsible in our actions as parents and teachers, leaders and co-workers? Do we practice what we preach? Again, many of us often fall far short of that. It’s a good thing we have personal control over what we do, and if needed, the ability to correct ourselves.

There are times though, when we’re not the ‘speakers’ or the ‘doers,’ but the receivers, the targets of speech and action. Over this, we have little control, and no doubt the voices and actions are loud–the media, movies and movie stars, TV, newspapers, books. Except each of these segments are made up of individuals, too. And many of them are spouting out propaganda as if is truth–all to cause harm to another person–most specifically, the President of the United States.

The propagandists are like schoolyard bullies who didn’t win their game and so attempt to rough-ride over those who did win. They show not an an ounce of respect for the office of the presidency, or the votes of millions of their fellow Americans. They talk and talk and talk, because talk is ALL they have.

On a personal basis, are these individuals any less responsible than any other person for what they say and do? Don’t they, too, have a responsibility to tell the truth, and to correct themselves and their lies?

But if they continue with their propaganda, then what is our responsibility?

We have an obligation to turn them off, and NOT LISTEN to them at all.