There is only one way out.

one way sign

There is something fundamentally wrong with us.  In what country does someone just nonchalantly walk into a church and shoot up men, women and children?  We don’t need terrorists.  We have our own nutcases and they are armed with assault rifles.

There is only one way out of this plague of shooters and victims.  Scripture tells us that if the country which is called by God’s name will repent and turn from its wicked ways, He will repent Himself of the evil and stop it and heal that nation.  We need repentance now.  We have become a violent society.  Why does our country continue churning out violent movie after violent movie and violent computer game after violent computer game?  Many of our young people are addicted to violence and others among us are becoming desensitized to it.

Years ago, if someone wanted to see violence or pornography, they had to get up and go somewhere to see it.  Nowadays, they just turn on their computers and it’s all available right in their living rooms.  Violence and lust will not beget anything but violence and lust.  We allow our children to fill up their brains on a continuous stream of this junk without making a peep.  Do we then expect them to turn out to be kind and caring individuals?

I am heartbroken.  Why does another mother have to bury her young daughter?  A newlywed bury her husband?  Or a baby lose its mother?  How can one family lose eight of its members in one instant?  How many more will we tolerate being slaughtered in their pews?  Or in their restaurants?  Or on their bus?  Simply living a quiet life.  One minute they’re here and the next they are taken out of this life by some angry or demented soul.  Why do we continue to allow it?

We need to turn this around.  We can do it as a society if we forego focusing on our differences and instead unify in our repentance. We can change.  We can stop future mass shootings.  They are not inevitable.  However, there is only one way out.  We have to find the violence, the anger, the hate inside of ourselves and eliminate it.  Cast it out.  Refuse to give in to it even when people make it so enticing for us to hate.  Do the opposite in our daily lives.  Live with conviction in love with God and with our fellow man.

Jesus said: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 22:37 – 40

 

 

United we stand?

On September 9, 1776, the congress representing the group of colonies that made up this country at that time decided to call it the United States.  However, ever since its inception, this country has been tested as to the meaning of its name.  Although the founders held deep convictions and high ideals for this country, there were already deep divisions in our unity, specifically over what to do about slavery.  That crack widened until we fought a bitter civil war over the issue.  Even since the end of that war, the divisions have persisted.

Over time, those divisions have branched out from the issue of slavery and new divisions have been created.  Nowadays, our congress cannot even agree on the simplest of issues.  I read in this morning’s paper a comment by a young man of 27.  He said, “My generation can’t talk to each other.  They don’t want to hear another perspective.  If you label yourself a conservative or a libertarian, they don’t want to talk to you.”  (“What of Civil War Re-Enactments,?” Hartford Courant, 9-5-2-17)  What is wrong with us and why can’t we even have a civil conversation to discuss the issues?! The crack is widening and there seems to be no way to bridge the gap.

However, God is giving us a chance.  Unfortunately, the times that we come together end up being the worst of times and yet the best of times.  Disasters somehow make us forget politics and opposing opinions and bring us together in a common goal of survival.  The experience of Houston, Rockport, Wharton and Port Arthur has both horrified and softened the hearts of Americans across the nation.

I believe that everyday Americans would welcome a change from the divisive rhetoric streaming off the airwaves.  Another huge storm is heading our way.  Hurricane Irma.  Hopefully, we will rise to the occasion once again and pitch in to pick up the pieces that are left in its wake if indeed it ends up taking direct aim at us, but why do we need a monster storm to force us to do that?

A house divided against itself cannot stand.  We know this to be a truth.  We have to come together.  We have to be willing to listen to one another.  We have to work together if we want to ensure the survival of our country for the future.  We can do it without another storm.  Teach young people to discuss.  Be an example of civil discussion. Listen first.  Listening doesn’t cost a thing.

My attitude, my choice


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Contentment does not depend on outward circumstances.  Contentment is my choice no matter the circumstances.  If I’m not content, am I not finding fault with whatever it is that God has allowed to come my way today?

The promise is not that my circumstances will be easy.  The promise is that those circumstances, whether they be easy or difficult, will all somehow lead me to Him.  What more could I want?

Philippians 4:11. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

God’s Garden in our mind

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The article in the following link was published in the latest Natural Awakenings magazine.  It’s a free magazine that is usually found in our local health food store.  Dennis Merritt Jones is the author and he calls his article “Mind Gardening.”

http://www.naturalawakeningsmag.com/Natural-Awakenings/March-2015/Mind-Gardening/

The allegory in this article is so appropriate for a lovely spring day!  What do we find growing in our minds?  What do we allow to take root in there?  Sometimes I find my mind wandering off and pretty soon it’s off on some tangent, ruminating on some topic that had nothing to do with the first thing it was thinking about.  If I go back and trace its path, I find that what led me astray was a thought of complaining or of resentment or even anger.  Do I enjoy continuing down that black path of resentment and fault finding?  If I do, pretty soon the thoughts coming out of my mind will grow darker and darker.  They are like ugly, tangled weeds crowding out the sun.

But I have a choice.  We all have a choice.  No one forces my mind to follow any train of thought.  It is the one place where I have true liberty.  From my God given free will, I can choose to pull out those ugly thought weeds and plant beauty.  God’s paradise is a beautiful place.  If I keep my mind on God, His kingdom and positive ideas about life here on earth, my thoughts can be a colorful garden that is filled with a stunning variety of blooms.  If my thought garden is full of sunlight and a colorful array of flowers, it will always be at the ready to help anyone in need.  It’s all up to me.

The Kingdom of God is within.  It is in our minds and hearts.  We can create His kingdom right here on earth by sowing beautiful seeds in our minds.  So, the next time you’re driving down the road and finding that your thoughts have begun to flow into a sea of self pity or complaining or anger, pluck those ugly weeds out.  Plant in their place a seed of love and gratitude!

Reflections on assisted suicide: an inspiration to greatness or a sad, missed opportunity?

From People Magazine, 11/2:

Brittany Maynard, who became the public face of the controversial right-to-die movement over the last few weeks, ended her own life Saturday at her home in Portland, Oregon. She was 29. 

“Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more,” she wrote on Facebook.

Brittany Maynard’s story is a sad reflection on what some of our young people are being taught these days.  Someone has given her a backwards, misguided way of looking at life.  Brain cancer did not take anything away from Brittany.  Brain cancer can end a person’s natural life, but it can never take away the human spirit, which is of far more value than a fleeting experience of pain.  I would not wish such pain on anyone, but compare her story with the following.

I watched one of my best friends die of cancer a year and a half ago.  She was sick for ten years.  Many times during those years, I marveled at her persistence.  She never stopped working (gardening – a very physical job!) unless she was too ill to go in and never gave up her job until she was too weak to drive herself to work.  During those years you have to know that on the path of her life she traversed through many struggles and pits of despair, but to categorize her fight with cancer according to the negativity she went through is to misunderstand the whole purpose of life itself.  When I last visited my friend two days before she passed into the next life, she looked like an angel.  She was completely at peace and ready to go.  So, how did she manage to drag herself from those depths of despair to the pinnacle of tranquility that she experienced in her last days?  She dealt with everything as it came along: all of her feelings inadequacy, anger and hatred and all of her flawed ideas that somehow God was punishing her by giving her this disease.  God did not give her this disease.  He did allow it, but He could only allow it for her good since he is only good.  She left this world knowing that God is only good and her struggle had been worth it all.  She didn’t choose to eliminate the pain from her life.  She chose instead to use it to propel herself to the highest of heights.

The human spirit is constantly striving. To be human is to never give up until the last breath you take.  Another elderly friend died last year of congestive heart failure and COPD.  Every single breath she took for many months was a struggle, yet she never complained.  She was constantly cheerful.  Her persevering spirit gave me courage and strength and made me realize the things that I have that are absolute blessings.  I can go for a walk whenever I want and drink down large gulps of fresh air, appreciating how each breath fills me with the feeling of being alive.  I take in more breaths and feel how each one keeps my life on going.  Her life had meaning and purpose and she inspired all those around her.  I am told that she passed from this world with a smile on her face.  She knew where she was going.

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Taking one’s own life is not the answer to life’s troubles, whether those troubles be diseases or hardships.  Mountain ranges have dark and cool valleys, but they also have craggy hills and glorious peaks.  Brittany Maynard’s decision eliminated the pain from her life, but what opportunities did she miss?  She took away from herself the possibility of dealing with all of the gritty parts of life.  She left no place in her life to become an inspiration to those she left behind by finding the courage to take on life to its very end.

On the same day that her death was announced, there was another story about a young woman also with terminal brain cancer.  Lauren Hill, of Mount Saint Joseph College, has been given only a few months to live.  She played in her first college level basketball game this week and scored four points for her team.  She played in spite of the headaches and in spite of the nausea.  There was a huge outpouring of support for Lauren, requiring a larger arena for the game.  That is the kind of inspiration that nudges our human spirit towards greatness.  It touches something in us all and makes us think that we too can aspire to something greater.  These are the lessons that will last because these are the lessons that demonstrate greatness.  Life is a precious gift and to choose to end it before it has had a chance to teach us as much as it can is truly regretful.

A slight turn of the cheek

What a great quote from today’s edition (10/29/14) of the blog “Morning Story and Dilbert!”

“I don’t have to attend every argument I’m invited to.”

There’s so much involved in that short sentence!  Reading this quote is one thing.  Actually DOING it is quite another.  What does it mean in my life?  Let’s say that a former boyfriend knows exactly how and when to push my buttons.  Isn’t that always the way?  He knows everything about me and has ample practice in pushing my buttons.  He knows just where they are and what will ignite them.  So, one day as we find ourselves conversing about something important, he lets go of one of his favorite zingers.  The “invitation” is instantaneous, highly emotional and it catches me completely off guard.  I react.  I try to tell myself that next time I’ll be ready and will control myself.  However, there never is a “next time” that’s the same as the previous time.  He’s never going to push the same button in the same way.  It’s always going to be a new situation, a new way of catching me off guard.  In other words, the “invitation” is always brand new.  The instigator could be anyone: a boss, a colleague, a friend or a family member.

There is no way to answer a zinger naturally without jumping into the ring in full boxing attire.  No matter how many possible situations/answers I catalog in my brain, there is always the distinct possibility that it will be a different scenario.  The only way to prepare oneself is to prepare spiritually.  If I’m connected to God in prayer, I will be more than capable of seeing the “invitation” from a higher perspective.  I will then be more than capable of turning down the invitation to rumble because I’m in the presence of a higher invitation. Jesus never answered the zingers.  He knew who he was and didn’t need to defend himself.  So, imagine this: the next time invitations are flying through the air, as you look towards the Lord to see what He would have you do, you realize that your cheek has turned ever so slightly away from your tormentor.  He stares at you in disbelief and storms off.  “You’re impossible.  I don’t even know how I could have put up with you for as long as I did.”  Bingo.  You have just clicked the little box labeled “unfollow”.  He won’t be back for a new invitation.

http://morningstoryanddilbert.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/things-that-make-you-say-hmmmm/

A simple hike leads to this stunning panorama

I’ve changed the picture at the top of my page.  There is a little story behind the photo.  Recently, my husband and i went camping for a week in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  We love hiking but at the outset of our vacation our hiking legs usually need an upgrade.  On the first day, we went on a lovely and not too demanding hike to the top of Mount Willard.  The view from the top is outstanding and I recommend it highly.  The second day we went to Arethusa Falls.  It was about as demanding as the first day’s hike and the beauty of the falls was incredible.  On the third day, we just began hiking without really knowing our destination, but God knew where we were going.  After about an hour and a half of hiking we had to choose: continue upwards to the summit of Mount Jackson or head downwards to see another falls?  Well, we prefer to do our hard work of upward climbing first, so we headed up.

The description of the “moderately difficult” climb did not prepare us for the rest of the hike up the mountain.  It was NOT moderate, at least not in my definition of the word.  Very near the end, we met a man with a young boy coming down and the man encouraged us to go on because, as he said, “It’s only a few minutes to the top.”  I thought, “If a kid can do it, I can too.”  Hehe.  Those few minutes necessitated scrambling over enormous boulders with only a few small branches on the sides to hang onto.  But then … we reached the top.  John went first and told me to try to make it.  He said it would be worth it.  At the top was a panorama perhaps a hundred times more beautiful than the picture you see at the top of my page.  There were no trees, so you could see 360 degrees around.  Mount Washington rose in the distance and the valley that we had come from meandered much further below us than I had imagined.  We took a lot of pictures and gaped in awe of God’s creation that remains so beautiful in spite of what man has done to it.  The wind began to whistle and the clouds foretold a possible change in the weather and so we had to tear ourselves away from that gorgeous spot.  I think that it will always remain in my mind as the most amazing and beautiful view I have ever seen, the view of a lifetime.

A simple hike on a normal day.  We started out, not knowing where we were going.  Life is like that.  We start out not knowing our path or where it will lead us, but we keep on climbing.  I would like to encourage everyone out there to keep on climbing.  Choose the way up.  It may be difficult, even more difficult than you had anticipated, but when you get to the top, the view will be more beautiful than anything you could have imagined.  God can show you things in this life that will stay with you forever.  Those views will encourage you through the hard times and lead you onward.  Take the risk.  God is so worth it.  He is the summit of all summits, the panorama of all panoramas.