America, Could I have a word with you?

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Yesterday a gunman opened fire at a Republican baseball practice early Wednesday morning, shooting several attendees. The gunman’s goal was to “rid” the world of the Republican Party leaders. We should all be appalled. We should all pay attention.   What is happening to the home of the Free and the Brave?

As a 4 year old I remember sitting with my parents in the living room as they somberly watched the funeral procession of President Kennedy; that awful act of brutality shook our nation to the core regardless of political persuasion.   My parents were Conservatives and yet I never heard them utter a disparaging word about the President or others in leadership. There was a respect that was healthy in order to have lively disagreements about policies and laws being passed.

I am sad for my grandchildren. I am sad they are living in a day where our country has normalized aggressive, hateful rhetoric. I am sad they are living in a day where it is considered “humor” to hold up the severed head of our President. I am sad that they are living in a day when healthy dialogue and disagreement has been exchanged for screaming, burning flags, breaking windows, and even desiring physical harm to those with whom we differ!

As an adult, an American woman, a Christian, a mother, a daughter, a wife, a businesswoman, and a grandmother I find myself in a constant state of shock by the daily news; I almost have to take gaps of time to simply bury my head in the sand in order to navigate being distracted by behavior that makes me incredibly sad. I have been in prayer for our Country, the leaders on both sides of the aisle, and for those who love our great land. I am confident that God is mindful and able to bring about good change in the lives of anyone who reaches out to Him; but what it our responsibility, America?

We can control what we say and how we say it. We can express our differences with anyone (government, company, team, our kids teachers, coaches, and community/church members) with respect, clarity, and the ability to listen. We have no business playing into the harsh rhetoric of the day, which pours more and more gasoline on fires that are already burning. Frankly, scripture is so so so wise on the impact of our words!

James 3:5-6   “The tongue is a small part of a person’s body, but a tiny spark can seta great forest on fire. Among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

Matthew 12:36-27  “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Ephesians 4:29 ” Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Whether in Facebook comments, Twitter “tweets”, texts, emails or even in face to face dialogue we must not give ourselves permission to engage in disrespectful, angry tones.  We cannot be people who celebrate a persons hardships or failures; we cannot be  people who mock and laugh those who also call America home.  If we do, we will cease to be the great nation we want to be.

I was in kindergarten when my teacher taught my class of 5 years old children that it was important to “do unto others as we wanted them to do unto us.”  That age-old wisdom still holds true today.  America, let’s stop all the harsh, hateful rhetoric rather let’s set an example for those young eyes that are watching us and will be the next generation.  Let’s change our tone together: not doing so is going to have continued widespread harm.

We are better than that; we are the United States of America.

“Measuring” my Life~

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Sunday morning as I entered my church service I noticed that there were paper measuring tapes on each seat in the room.  Certainly seeing them lying there made me curious about how they would factor into our morning together.  As our Pastor began to share a passionate message he asked us all to take our measuring tapes and make a tear on the number of the age we are today.  We did it; he asked us to drop it over our shoulder because it represented our past.  Then, he requested that we take the rest of the tape and make a tear at the number (age) we would like to be on our last day on earth; lots of people were making a tear anywhere between 80-90.

Now, I recognize that only God knows the time we have left but it was a good exercise to walk through.  For those who were young, their remaining tape was long with many years ahead.  I am 57 so the take was significantly shorter than the college students nearby.  My mother, who was sitting beside me and is in her 80’s passed me her remaining tape and it was significantly smaller than mine.  This visual really gripped my heart and has caused me to ponder my remaining days…..

What kind of impact will my life have in my remaining years?  How will I use the time I have left to make a difference in the world around me? How can I be certain not to waste even one day on trivial pursuits? Seeing my relatively short measuring tape really brought these questions to the forefront of my mind.

A blog post by Max Lucado caught my eye this morning as it spoke to living a life that makes a difference, I just has to share it with you!

Today I Will Make A Difference. by Max Lucado

Today I Will Make A Difference
Today I will make a difference. I will begin by controlling my thoughts. A person is the product of his thoughts. I want to be happy and hopeful. Therefore, I will have thoughts that are happy and hopeful.

I refuse to be victimized by my circumstances. I will not let petty inconveniences such as stoplights, long lines, and traffic jams be my masters.

I will avoid negativism and gossip. Optimism will be my companion, and victory will be my hallmark. Today I will make a difference.
I will be grateful for the twenty-four hours that are before me. Time is a precious commodity. I refuse to allow what little time I have to be contaminated by self-pity, anxiety, or boredom. I will face this day with the joy of a child and the courage of a giant.

I will drink each minute as though it is my last. When tomorrow comes, today will be gone forever. While it is here, I will use it for loving and giving. Today I will make a difference.
I will not let past failures haunt me. Even though my life is scarred with mistakes, I refuse to rummage through my trash heap of failures. I will admit them. I will correct them. I will press on. Victoriously. No failure is fatal. It’s OK to stumble…I will get up. It’s OK to fail…I will rise again.

Today I will make a difference.
I will spend time with those I love. My spouse, my children, my family. A man can own the world but be poor for the lack of love. A man can own nothing and yet be wealthy in relationships. Today I will spend at least five minutes with the significant people in my world. Five quality minutes of talking or hugging or thanking or listening. Five undiluted minutes with my mate, children, and friends.
Today I will make a difference.

Psalm 90-12     “So teach us to consider our mortality, so that we might live wisely.

 

 

What are you trying to say?

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This past week I had the joy of babysitting one of my precious granddaughters, Scout Jubilee, 2 days in a row.  We had such fun together, however, we also faced a real challenge!  Scout is now a big talker, firmly expressing her thoughts about many different elements of her little life.  To her, she is speaking very clearly and certainly loud enough for her Mimi to fully understand what she is trying to convey.

Imagine her dismay when she looked into my very confused face and heard me say numerous times “Scout, Mimi doesn’t understand what you are saying.” Scout kept saying over and over “Ne Ne” and I kept asking her about different options to unlock the meaning of the words that clearly held a strong meaning for her!  After about and hour of trying to unlock the mystery I decided she was probably a little tired so I would kiss her and carry her upstairs for her afternoon nap.  The moment I headed up the stairs Scout started to say “Ne ne” all over again; but this time with her little head lying exhausted on my shoulder! And then it hit me, this little darling had been trying so hard to let me know she was very tired and wanted to go “night, night”!!

Because of my inability to clarify her words, I completely missed what she was longing to express! ( she slept for a little over 3 hours, by the way!)

I have pondered this experience with Scout and began to wonder how often we are all on the expressing side and the understanding side of a conversation.  I wonder how often we fail to express our heartfelt thoughts in a way the someone can truly understand what we are longing to say?  I wonder how often we fail to hear the real meaning of the words someone is trying to express to us?

Engaging in quality conversations can be a real art sometimes and I believe if we really want to understand someone else, if we really want to be able to respond in such a way as to make a difference, then we need to keep clarifying until we can see or hear that we have “got it”!! Are there any conversations in your relationships that are needing further clarification?  Are there questions needing to be asked for greater understanding?  The efforts to understand will make a big difference.

“The single biggest problem in a conversation is illusion that one has taken place!”  George Bernard Shaw

What will be said of Me?

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I have a wonderful privilege of gathering with some amazing women every other week to spend time talking about the things that we care deeply about.  We discuss the season of life we are presently in and look for quality ways to navigate the many challenges and opportunities we encounter everyday. We talk about learning to say our “best yes”, to make sure we find ways to re-fuel in order to be the best version of ourselves, and we look at focusing on those things we consider the highest priorities at this time, using them as a good filter when choosing how to best use our time.  These conversations are always rich and encouraging.

Last night we spent our time talking about Legacy.  We were all able to point to a person in our life who impacted us in a powerful way. Each one of us teared up simply talking about it! We could clearly see that without the gift of that person having touched our lives we would not be the women we are today.  Then we turned our attention to the fact that each one of us could be “that” person in someone’s life.  Down the road when a group of women gather, perhaps our name with be the one mentioned when expressing appreciation for key impact on their lives.  This is what leaving a Legacy looks like.  Lasting impact.

In a small study written by Dr. James Dobson, he expresses Legacy this way:

“Legacy is what future generations recall about you. You are a patriarch or a matriarch and your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will take what you have done with your life and build on their own lives.  It is the continuation of your ministry and influence (both positive and negative) beyond your lifetime, reflecting what you value and what you believe is important.”

Wow, does that mean that the choices, behaviours, values, and traditions we do ( or don’t) intentionally choose will be passed on to our future family? You bet!  Think about your family of origin; is there a legacy you feel compelled to carry forward?  Perhaps that legacy was unhealthy and you now have the chance to make choices that will turn it around in your generation.  Choosing to leave a good and lasting Legacy requires intentionality, long-term vision, strong values, and time spent building rich relationships.  We all have a choice as to the Legacy we leave behind.

Look at your life today and answer this question: “Who influenced you to be who you are today and how does their Legacy encourage you to leave behind a Legacy that continues to bear good fruit in the lives of those you dearly love? Take time to write out the type of Legacy you would like to leave behind and then make choices consistent with your hearts desire.  🙂

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” ~ Shannon L. Alder

What Mattered Most~~

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As a little girl I would be giddy the week before Christmas! The anticipation of our family traditions would cause me to lay awake at night; so excited, sleepless! I knew our stockings would be on the hearth Christmas morning filled with an Orange, Whitman’s Chocolate, a book of Lifesavers, and other wonderful trinkets that any little girl would love!  I knew there would be a gift or two for me that my mom would have picked out ( letting my dad know what she had chosen) especially for me.  I knew we would have a wonderful breakfast with cinnamon roles !!

However, the experience that meant the most to me was something completely different from what I would receive. I credit my amazing parents for this!  The week before Christmas our parents would take we girls shopping for those in our “neighborhood” who were financially or physically challenged.

Off we would go to Woolworth’s to purchase toys, home needs, and warm clothes that would bless those who were in need!  Later at home we would anonymously wrap the gifts and put them in a large box.  Around 8pm Christmas Eve we would excitedly pile into the car and head to the homes of those with whom we had prepared a surprise!! Pulling up to their home, we would quietly sneak up to the porch, place the box quietly down, ring the bell and RUN!!!

I remember the family with the severely retarded son due to measles or the blind man living in a barn with about 10 cats……..they just needed hope; joy!

The feeling of JOY was huge for us all. To be in a position to make a difference, to meet a need, to cause someone to smile, meant the world to us!!

Perhaps your family could make a difference in your neighborhood.  Perhaps you could build this sweet tradition into your own family. IF you are in a position to make a difference~~ do it!! Your children will watch and learn from you!! This is the true spirit of Christmas–Christ came to give…………………….

Merry Christmas to you all~~ wishing you incredible joy!!