Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Evolution

On some levels, I can not believe I am penning this post.  When I titled this "Evolution," I was not talking about Darwin's theory; I was talking about me.  As a child, I was reared in a republican home, although I never remember being indoctrinated.  It was just obvious my parents were republicans, and as children often do, I grew up voting the same way.  Ronald Reagan was my not only my first President I voted for (1984), but I count him as the best in my lifetime.  I still attribute the decline of communism and the break-up of the Soviet Bloc to him.

Yet......fast forward over thirty years.  The world has changed, but more importantly, the United States has changed.  In my youth I was oblivious to social agendas.  In the last few years, it has become impossible for me to close my eyes to the suffering around me.  Perhaps it is more pronounced as the population of poor and homeless has skyrocketed. With the advent of the internet, the economic downfall of many is plastered everywhere. Whenever I seek out news articles, it is easier to find stories of the onslaught of tent cities or articles of homeless people who have been attacked or killed by youth.  So many Americans are literally one paycheck away from being homeless.  How can people turn their backs?  There, but for the grace of God.......

So, in this election year, I am aghast at the slate of republican candidates offering themselves for President.  Many spew hate-filled, paranoid speech against those seeking better lives in America.  What happened to "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free....."?  I remember having to memorize the Emma Lazarus inscription in a high school English class in the late '70s.  Aside from that, I have to think, "What would Jesus do?"  Would He approve of most of what He would be hearing today?  THAT and only THAT is driving how I plan to vote this time around.  For that reason, I will NOT be voting for a republican.

For the first time in my life, I will be voting in the Democratic Primary and casting that vote for Bernie Sanders.  Thirty years ago, I would have laughed if anyone told me that I would be voting for someone of his political persuasion.  However, I am not the same person, and when I look at the social needs of my country, I can not vote for a republican, and I believe we need some radical change---the kind of change he promulgates.  He may not make it to the Democratic nomination, but he has my vote in the primary. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

It's a heart issue

I "unfriended" several people after the Clemson-Alabama game.  Without repeating what they said about my beloved Tigers, let me explain before you say I was over-reacting.  These were Gamecock fans, and rather than rooting for the state team who would bring honor and dignity to South Carolina, they were so filled with hatred for Clemson that they pulled for Alabama.  On the surface, that's no big deal.  However, with what they posted, they totally disrespected their Clemson friends, and in one case, it even bordered on bullying or taunting.  These were adults----adult bullies---who were mean-spirited, flaunting insults that were meant to inflame or inflict bad feelings. That, folks, is a heart issue.

To put it bluntly, we have a mean society.  That little vignette above is true, but it is symptomatic of our society as a whole.  I can pinpoint that the degeneration of our society goes back to the days of the Jerry Springer "talk" show.  I never watched it, but I remember flipping channels and for the first time hearing the "bleeping" out of words and seeing adults on stage yelling and fighting with each other and the host egging them on.  From that with the advancement of technology, we now have kids in school taking videos of fights and posting them to You tube.  We have teenagers beating up homeless people, and I don't mean 18 or 19 year-olds.  Last week in a city near me, an elderly woman was shot and killed waiting for her daughter to come out of a mall----the victim of a purse-snatching.

Back to the "unfriending" story above----I don't need mean people in my life, especially not on Facebook.  I am not a Gamecock fan, but out of respect for my Gamecock friends, I would never taunt them on Facebook.  That is a heart issue, a character issue.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Listening to God and Obeying

It is sometimes a scary thing to listen for God's voice.  When I inexplicably hear it, I *know* it is His voice.  No, I don't audibly hear voices; it is in my head or my spirit, if you will.  I don't know how I know it is His; I just *do*.  This morning was such a morning, and it has taken me aback.  As I was making my breakfast smoothie to drink at work, I heard this voice say, "I know the plans I have for you.......Send this to ----."  It was as clear as a bell, as the cliché goes.  So, I did just that.  His text reply was that he had just been talking to his mother, who had told him the same verse.  He took this as a confirmation that he should rest in God's promises as the devil has been messing with his mind lately, too.

Later, I saw a post on Facebook from a young teacher at work whose grandmother died a year ago today.  As I was walking to pick up my first kids, I found myself turning onto her hallway.  I can only describe it as an out of body experience.  I had no intention of going there.  The next thing I knew, I was at her desk, past a sea of first graders.  I told her I had seen her posting and for her to focus on the good memories today.  She said that made her feel so much better.  I believe that was God's message for her, and I was merely the messenger.  I didn't plan to do this; I felt God steering me to her room; in fact, I get teary-eyed afterwards in thinking about this.  God knew exactly what she needed just as He knew exactly what my friend above needed.

Most people won't "get" this, and that's ok.  Twenty years ago I wouldn't have, either.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Love of Money

1 Timothy 6:10: "For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."


I struggle with resentment of wealthy people, even disdain for them.  I would not want to be them for literally all the money in the world.  I have a wise friend who is now retired who has shared some insight into those people.  She says they are preoccupied with keeping their wealth and obsessed with how to make more.  I believe that is true.  Yes, there are some wealthy people who are philanthropic, such as Bill and Melinda Gates and Mark Zuckerman; however, there are far more who care nothing for the less fortunate and are, indeed, preoccupied with tightening the grip on what wealth they do possess.  The Bible has much to say about wealth, but I will focus on just this story:

Matthew 19:20-22  chronicles  the story of the rich man who encountered Jesus.  Here is what it says:  20The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?" 21Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." 22But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.…

The same story is found in Mark 10: 20-22:   And he said to Him, "Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up." 21Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." 22But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.…

Finally, it is ALSO in Luke:  And he said, "All these things I have kept from my youth." 22When Jesus heard this, He said to him, "One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." 23But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.…

I really feel sorry for people like this.  I have never bought a lottery ticket and likely never will.  I suppose I am considered "middle class."  All I want is enough money to pay my bills and be able to breathe a little.  I don't need a fancy house, fancy car, or trips around the world.

Total Reliance, Take 2

I was in an accident yesterday.  I have had an uneasy feeling for the last week that the devil was going to try something to derail my plans for this new year--financial plans.  Yesterday, he attempted just that.

I was leaving Walterboro after spending a few hours helping my dad with Mother.  I was still in the city limits in a 35 mile per hour intersection.  I had the right of way.  As I approached the intersection, a silver Chrysler Town and Country began to turn in front of me.  As I slammed on the brakes and horn simultaneously, he PROCEEDED to hit my driver side front end.  (I believe he was messing on his ......phone, though it is mere speculation.)  As I told his parents later, "How could he NOT have seen me????!!).  While I was on with 911, two of Walterboro's finest showed up; they had been on the side street, and since no one asked me what happened, I assume they saw it all.  After about an hour, the wrecker came and towed both vehicles to the wrecker yard.  The operator was able to pull my bumper out and tie it out so I could drive the car home.  The parents of the man who hit me came, and the father apologized for my discomfort.  He said, "If we had known he had a suspended license, we never would have let him use our car.  There had been a roadblock, and he was probably trying to avoid that."  Wow!

I have to flip this and look at it as the glass half-full.  I mean, in the blip of my life, this is a micro-blip.  Nevertheless, it is a difficult annoyance that I have to deal with.  For one, although I have a very nice boss, my profession itself does not lend itself to allowing employees to have personal lives that need attention outside of work.  In plan talk:  it will be very difficult to deal with all of this insurance-wise while having to return to work tomorrow.  I don't care if people snicker that I say the devil is messing with me; I know he is real and messes with God's people.  This couldn't have happened two weeks ago while I was off from work?  No.

Another annoyance is that I have very few people here in town I can count on.  I do have a ride home from work tomorrow, but I have to figure out getting *to* work from the collision center, about a mile away from work.

Today I was messaging with my splendid former student-turned-prayer warrior/friend in NC.  He reminded me that God already has all of this worked out.  And, I know he is correct.  Then, as I was driving home from my parents' house today in the truck, a few verses crossed my mind.  Proverbs 18:24. . . there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother

Philippians 4:19: "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

So, as my dear former student-turned-prayer warrior/friend in NC says, "....now you can let God take over and watch Him work again.  We need to see his power on a regular basis.....Your God has this!"

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Giving Out of Need

I firmly believe that you can't out-give God.  As a single parent who provided the *sole* support for my son for 13 years, I had some hard times.  When the AC unit needed to be replaced, I was the one who had to take out a loan to pay for it.  When the septic tank had to be pumped, that was my responsibility.  When toilets and sinks needed to be fixed, the bills came to me.  The list goes on.....

As a result (of these and divorce bills), I accrued a lot of debt.  What God has been doing in the last year is nothing short of amazing.  He has provided the means for me to pay off two of those debts--the latest one today!  The others are slated to be paid off in the new year.

He enabled me to double up or triple up on payments in the last six months.  I was looking at my tracking sheets today and am amazed at how He has provided for this!  All the while, He provided the means for me to continue to do for others less fortunate.

A few years ago I made the comment, "I give out of my own need."  There definitely have been many times over the years when I really couldn't afford to give or tithe, but I did it, sometimes by rearranging bills.  I knew that God would honor my giving and that He would provide....both for me and whomever He called me to bless.   He always has, sometimes in the most surprising ways.

You can not out-give God

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Hope, or is it Faith?

I have a problem with the words hope and faith being used synonymously.  In my mind, the words  hope and faith seem to be at odds with one another.  For a believer to say she "hopes" such and such will happen, she questions whether it will; therefore, her waffling is in contrast to faith.  The Bible tells us that faith is the "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen."  Because it is impossible to please God without faith, I think believers have to go beyond the "hoping" stage; they have to believe it with certainty as though there can be no doubt. 

Let's look at the word substance in the "substance of things hoped for."  Dictionary.com lists this as one definition of substance:  "the actual matter of a thing, as opposed to the appearance or shadow; reality."  I like the last word:  reality.  So, I read that faith is the reality of what we hope for.  Think about that.  We are to accept that what we hope for is reality.  Maybe it has not come to fruition yet, but we are to treat it as though it will. 

Now, let's look at the second half of that verse:  "the evidence of things unseen."  Faith is to be the "evidence," or proof,  of things we haven't seen.  To me, this means we are to take that explanation above one step further:  We are to accept that what we hope for is reality that has not become known to us yet, but not only will it become known to us, but it is already real.  Our attitude is to treat it has already happened.

I suppose this is why I refuse to listen to my mother's negativity, and for the most part, she has stopped such talk around me.  I believe God is going to act on a certain issue in the future; in fact, He is setting things in motion now.  We forget as humans that God has His own timetable; we tend to want what we want when we want it.  So, in *my* mind, the issue is a done deal; I am merely waiting on Him to reveal what He is doing to the rest of us.

This, my friends, is the essence of faith. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas

Christmas was different this year.  First of all, wearing a tank top on Christmas day and swatting bugs the moment I step outside does not put me in the Christmas spirit.  Almost everything about it was different.  Besides the unseasonable heat, this is the first Christmas without my son.  In June I put him on a plane for Colorado to let him  know his father, whom he had not seen since 2002.  (You can do the math and infer the rest.)  For the last many Christmas Eves, he and I went out to eat:  sushi, Outback....various places.  It was a tradition that has now died--perhaps with no chance of resurrection.

Fast forward to Christmas day.  The last few years we had gone to my parents' house, bringing the repeat Thanksgiving feast that I had toiled to prepare Christmas morning.  I mean, I have had turkey and the trimmings for *every* Thanksgiving and Christmas since I was a child.  It was t-r-a-d-I-t-I-o-n.  Traditions, by definition,  are not supposed to change.  However, last weekend my mother announced, in only the *way* she can, "I want no more turkey brought into this house!"  That did it.  Another tradition's coffin nailed shut.  The one bright side is that her edict freed me from cooking.  They came up with the idea for Beaufort Boil/Low country Boil/Frogmore Stew.  I helped Dad a little in the kitchen, but he pretty much cooked it himself.

My brother and sister-in-law came this morning as they always do.  I was shocked when they said they would stay for lunch, but I think that helped my feelings because it gave me someone else to talk to and made the day go quicker for me.

I  normally love this season, but I am quickly approaching the time of year I hate the most:  January and February.  Those months have always brought on seasonal depression in me, or at least that is what I attribute my feelings to.  The tears came today, but they were not as bad as I anticipated.

So, aside from seeing my brother and sister-in-law, the day was not a total loss.  I was there when my son called my parents, so I was able to talk to him.  I also focused on thinking about a few other people to take the focus off of myself and my feelings.

Christmas is but one day, so if you are reading this and have felt the doldrums today, remind yourself of that; it is but one day.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Update on Mother

For those who know me well, you know my mother has been under hospice care since March 1 of this year.  When she came home, she was placed in a hospital bed in her dining room.  She was hooked to oxygen, and her fingernails were purple.  Fast forward to last week.  She is now out of hospice care and under care of a small lowcountry home health care company.

Back in September my dad hired a part-time sitter to help Mother get up with the walker and to help him out some to allow him to come and go and to do light housekeeping.  She strengthened Mother's legs enough that she has been sitting up for hours each day for over a month.  Hospice released her last week.

Now, a physical therapist will come a few days a week to strengthen her legs to hopefully have her more mobile.  She is a worrier by nature and is worried her long-term health insurance will stop paying for the part-time sitter.  Of course, if she gets mobile enough, they won't need the sitter any more.

When she went to see her family doctor last week to get his ok for this new company to take over, he did not recognize her; he recognized my dad.  She has lost so much weight.  Once he remembered her, he told her she was lucky to be alive; that's how sick she was.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Degenerating Before My Eyes

I am bewildered, perplexed, confused; I really don't know which adjective is most apropos.  My country is degenerating before my very eyes.  Our Presidential primaries have not even begun, but what I am seeing disturbs me to the core.  I begin this by saying I am not a registered democrat or republican; I have voted both ways.  However, I am disheartened (and all the aforementioned adjectives) that the republican front-runner is a racist.  Not only is he a racist, but he flaunts it...an "in your face" brashness that demeans anyone other than white men.  Yes, I said he demeans anyone.other.than.white.men.  He disdains Hispanics, Muslims, women....anyone.other.than.white.men.  It disturbs me because in spite of this, or perhaps "because" of this, he is the front-runner.  

I was talking to my good North Carolina friend this evening, and he broached something I had not thought of---hadn't wanted to ponder.  This "candidate" is so popular because he has brought out the hidden racism in millions of people.  He is their candidate of choice.  This same friend said that contrary to uniting the country, the election of the first African-American President brought racism out of the closet (my paraphrase/interpretation of his words).  Where are we as Americans when a rabid candidate spewing hatred against all the above groups is a major party's current run-away favorite?

Another scary thought is that "if" he is the republican nominee, millions of self-professed "Christians" will vote for him..... simply because they would NEVER entertain voting for a democrat of any flavor. 

So, through this circumlocution, I come to this point:

If Jesus Christ were alive on this earth today, what would he say to this candidate and his millions of followers?  What would Jesus say about the hate-filled speech?  What would he say to the millions of alleged "Christians" who are following this man or will vote for him if he is the nominee...simply because they would NEVER vote for a democrat?   Would he rebuke them and say, "Depart from me; I never knew you," or "If you vote for him, don't do so under the guise of following me"?