In this time of Divisiveness, don’t forget who YOU are

It is the Lenten Season and I am trying to be good and have daily devotion. Even though I work for a religious business (a church camp), I have to admit that, sometimes, I fall short of reading the Bible daily. I converse with God daily and I try to be a good listener, but the education component is sometimes missing-except during this season.

Today, my devotion took me back to my upbringing.

My dad was a small business owner. I was raised in a small/mid-sized city and I was sure that everyone knew who my father was (silly child!) What that did for me was to help keep me on the straight and narrow. (http://www.co-z-aire.com/)

I didn’t want to do anything that would cause shame to my family or in any way impact my father being able to do business. I was so sure that my actions might impact my dad being able to have customers. I may have been very naive, but it was something I always thought about when I had a choice to make; ‘How will this affect the family name? Will Dad lose business if I do this, or that?’

Today, I was reading about being part of the family of God. It made me think about what I do daily. Do I think ‘How will my actions affect my Godly family? Will Dad (God) lose business if I do this, or that?’ I will have to honestly say that I do not always think in those terms.

I am not a bad person but I could always be better.

Yesterday, my son had me take a survey to “determine” my political temperament. Where did I fit on the political strata? The questions were very black & white and very polarizing. I answered honestly and I think my son was surprised that I was almost smack-dab in the middle of the fascist/libertarian & right/left quadrants.

circle UM logo  When I take “what are you?” political tests, I always rank as a conservative Republican. If I were to take a religious test, I would be right where I am supposed to be. As a United Methodist (click and learn more about the UM Church) , I am allowed to have my own beliefs and still feel confident in my political views. You see, the United Methodist Church is made up of all peoples. And studies do show that over 50% of church members are conservative but over 50% of the pastors are liberal (I do not have exact percentages but you can read this article: https://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2016/05/on-the-political-leanings-of-methodists/483683/ )

I think my son was surprised at the results. I told him that I try to see all points of view and try to be compassionate and understanding. But there are times when I do not think about my God Family when I do things. I don’t think about how God might look at my actions.

While the majority of people in the United States believe in God, the percentage is dropping – http://www.theharrispoll.com/in-the-news/harris-polls/Americas-Belief-in-God.html . I think it is apparent when you see how violence has escalated, how insensitiveness  has increased and how people are louder, ruder and less kind than in the past. I think that people are hard and combative and not willing to sit across the table and break bread. It seems to have become ‘It’s my way or the highway’ attitude.

I try not to be that person. But I also know that I need to be more concerned about my God Family and think first how God will react to my actions. Just as I don’t want my children to behave inappropriately, I, as a child of God, need to make sure that I do not behave inappropriately. I need to make sure that my words are loving and not divisive; that I use proper language and not words which are polarizing, degrading or downright tasteless.

Today, I want to be aware of my God Family; that I make sure I do not do anything that would embarrass my Father or take ‘customers’ away from His Business. What a wonderful world we would have if we all just tried to make our family proud.

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Trying to find calm in a world of worry

I worry too much. I worry that I am not there enough for my family; I worry that I have missed something at work; I worry about how others view me. I worry that I am not a good enough wife. I worry that I hover over my children too much. It’s the worry of I woulda…shoulda…coulda…

Surprisingly, I don’t worry about my life after death. I know I am not perfect, but I believe that, even in my imperfections, I am doing what I can to be a good person. My intentions are good and I strive to be better.

My favorite Bible verse is Luke 12:48. I was not as familiar with the first sentence as I was with the last part of the verse. After I had taken in the first sentence, I felt so much better about my past. You see, there were things I did as a younger person that I felt pretty confident when I did them. As I grew older, I was not so sure that my actions would be pleasing in the eyes of God. But this sentence, the first in Luke 12:48 set my heart at ease…”But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows…” It is contrary to the statement “Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking the law,” which is a statement I use. What the Bible says is that doing wrong, when you don’t know it is wrong, will not receive the same punishment as someone who is intentional and knows.

The rest of the Bible verse is what I write about now; “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted much, much more will be asked.”mini chocolate chip

There are many things I like to do, and because of that, I have put the time and effort to work towards perfection in those things I like.lemon cupcakes

I enjoy cooking and baking. Growing up, my mom did the cooking of the meals AND the clean up as well. If we wanted to help, we could, but it was not required. I, too, am that way. If you come to my home for dinner, you are not expected to help with the preparation or the washing of dishes after the meal. I will generally clean up as best I can, load the dishwasher and then organize, as best I can, the remainder of the dishes for later care. I will finish up cleaning when my guests have gone home.

Strawberry glazed

Strawberry glazed

prom cupcakes

When I became an adult, I asked my mom why it was we were never expected to clear the table or wash the dishes. What I remember her saying was this, “This is what I can give. Cooking from start, and working and working until the last dish is washed, is an act of love and service.” For me, I work hard to make sure that I do my best when showing love in the kitchen.

I love to capture life in photographs. I don’t like staged shots of people; I like natural shots, of action, of stillness, of love. Some of my favorite photographs are of the skies. The sky can tell so many stories. I think clouds can convey love, joy, fear, anger. There are times I have to pull off to the side of the road and take a photo of a sunrise, or a cloud formation. I believe I have an eye for telling stories through a camera lens. There are times I miss an opportunity for a story because the image is there, and in a second, it is gone.

And I love to write. I do not take the opportunity to write as often as I would like. Maybe I don’t feel inspired, or I am too engrossed in other things, or maybe I am too exhausted and can’t think of doing anything but recovering and re-energizing.masquerade

purple velvetWhat if that recovery or re-energizing is writing, or cooking/baking or quilting? That is what I am trying to figure out now.

Maybe I should work at finishing my quilting projects when I feel tired. There are times when I know I could be productive but instead, I choose to do nothing but catch up on the TV shows on the DVR. I also know there are times when I am so tired that if I tried to accomplish something, it would resort in mistakes and re-do’s. It is finding when I should really relax and when I should work at projects and use my gifts wisely that need to be done.

I truly believe that I have been blessed with talents that need to be shared. I believe that God has given me a voice-words to share on paper and in front of people-verbally. I share that talent as a lay speaker with the United Methodist Church and as a voice for camping ministry with my job at Camp Fontanelle.graduation

It gives me great joy to feed people. While I can’t do it as much as I once could, I love to bake doughnuts for my daughter to share at school. I love to entertain and make food for people that is special, something they may not make for themselves. I have started sharing my love of cooking/baking at a different level. I have started soft selling items. I am not advertising, but how fun would it be if I could make it into a full-time business!

My love of photography will always be my personal joy, to be shared with family and friends.lightning in the night sky

I am so lucky that I am able to share my gifts with others. It is what I am directed to do In Luke 12:48.

I encourage you to find your joys and talents and develop them to share with others. I don’t know whether I am in my position because of my talents, or I have taken my talents and fit them into my life. Either way, I have so much joy in sharing. If you are able to fit your gifts into your career, do so. If you have a love or a talent that does not fit into your career, find time to share your love and talent somehow in your life.whale in the sky

1 Peter 4:10 says, “God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Use then well to serve one another.”

Today, I worry because my brand new cell phone fell in water. Worrying will not get it fixed. Hopefully a bag of rice will take those worries away. If not, there will be another new phone. For now, I WRITE!

The Power of a Woman – Part 2

I believe that God puts you in positions, or provides opportunities, for you to learn. Like, for instance, a part breaking on a plane which frees up some time for a person to write a blog.

“I struggle every day with who I am…” those were my words on Monday as I sat in an airport, waiting for my plane to attend a United Methodist National Gathering of Camp and Retreat Leaders. I arrived eight and a half hours later than I was scheduled. I missed the opening worship service, but I found out I did not miss the lesson!

Because I arrived late and missed the first event of the conference, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss anything else. I was up at 6:00 a.m. (5:00 a.m. my time) to attend Morning Watch. I walked the short distance under the Spanish Moss laden trees to the little white chapel. Built in 1880, the small chapel is named Lovely Lane Chapel after the site where the founding of the Conference of American Methodism in Baltimore, MD, took place in 1784. It is significant in the life of the Methodist Church. But today, it was significant for me as it became my chance to move from my past, to the present and into the future. I did not even know that what I wrote yesterday would have such significance today. But that is the way God works.

The air was crisp as I walked towards the chapel. I opened the white-painted door to a small room filled with rich dark woods and beautiful, vibrant-colored stain glass panels. It was warm and welcoming. I was ready for newness.

I had spent much of yesterday, writing, re-writing and reading my blog. I wanted to make sure it was what I wanted to say. It was significant to me. After I was finished and hit the “publish” button, I kept thinking that the blog was not what I had intended.

I had meant to write about the fact that a woman has great power in no matter which position she holds in life. It is the right of a woman to determine her direction in life, whether it is being a stay-at-home mom or a business executive. I wanted to write that my parents had given me the power to decide my fate; I WAS to go to college; I WAS to get an education that would allow me to live on my own if that is what happened in my life; I WAS to have the chance to be independent and that would happen in college. My parents gave me the values and foundation to be whomever I wanted. That is what I meant to write about. I meant to write about the power women have and to not let anyone take that power away, and that power could be defined in many different ways.

That is what I meant to say. But that is not what happened. I cried that I missed my past life. I mourned for the person I was and I lamented my sorrow to the world.

It was actually on my mind as I entered the chapel. And then the pastor stands up to give the message. He cited Isaiah 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

God’s Word Translation says, “Forget what happened in the past, and do not dwell on events long ago.” Apparently, that was the Bible verse that was cited in the opening worship service which I had missed.

I was dumbfounded! That verse was speaking to me; God was speaking to me. He was telling me to get over it and feel blessed with the life that I have and am re-creating every day. He had probably been telling me that for quite a while and I was not listening (I just typed lostening. How ironic that I wrote lost because that is what I am/was.)

If I had been at the evening service and heard that verse, I am sure it would not have meant as much to me. I needed to be placed in a position where I allowed myself to have a pity party. I had to put down, in words, my feelings of despair because then, and only then, would it manifest itself into the “aha” moment of this morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I still own my words. I do miss being “that” person, but there are parts of my childhood and young adulthood that I miss. I do not mourn those times, I have recollections which have shaped who I am today, I must look at the past and take what I did and learned and use it in my present and into my future. I need to quit dwelling on my past and being mournful because dwelling on it makes me sad and I do not want to be a sad person. I want to be a happy person, an inspiring person, a person filled with love for God and family.

God gives us a chance to learn. Sometimes God needs to set things in motion that force someone to look at their life so they can quit dwelling on the past and begin looking towards new things, the future.

For my Morning Watch alone, I am a changed person. I may only say this once, but thank God for my canceled flight.