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.

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Complaining to complain

And, no, I am not going to complain…well, I guess I am. But I am going to complain about complaining, We all complain – about people, about situations, about our body, our job, and the list can go on. Sometimes, you complain (vent) just to get things off your chest. Other times, the complaining is because of an injustice to you, a friend or family member, a religion, on and on and on. Possibly, you complain about other people/situations to raise yourself (which does not work by the way). Maybe you are a Negative Nellie. Whatever the reason, complaining is a negative, not a positive and being negative only pulls other people down with you.

What brought this to my attention was I recently listened to a poem recited by three teenage girls. The poem talks about certain books being outlawed from schools (“Catcher in the Rye” and “To Kill a Mockingbird”) while guns are not outlawed. And the girls recite the fact that the United States was built on the bones of the Chinese, the Native American and the African-American. The other item that comes to mind was the girls’ comment that the “Preppies” shop at thrift stores because it is cool, while others shop there because it is all they can afford. It was a bunch of complaining without any solution.

First of all, I hate generalities. Not all white people are racist, although everyone has an opinion. Not all people with tattoos or saggy pants are thugs. Not all rich people are snobs and not all poor people are lazy. You get the idea.

This poem was full of generalities and it propagates falsehoods. The high school students, in my community, read “Catcher in the Rye” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” and the school does not allow weapons on property. And how can you generalize a “preppy” from anyone else? Unless you are that person, you have no idea their place in life. People are people. Do not pigeon-hole anyone into a category! If it is wrong to point out someone deficiencies to “say who they are.” It is also wrong to look down on someone or categorize them because of their abundance.

The character of a person needs to stand alone. It should not be determined by your race or ethnicity. Although, if you hang around a group of people of bad character, you will be categorized with that group, whether you have bad character or not-“birds of a feather, flock together” as the old saying goes. I may be naive, but I just abhor, any writing, speech, or allusion that infers a certain race/ethnicity/faith/political association are all the same.

Secondly, I love how the country is built on the bones of only minorities in the poem. Indentured servants from Ireland were treated worst than slaves from Africa. But because they are not a minority group, they are the forgotten group.  http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-irish-slave-trade-the-forgotten-white-slaves/31076. Specifically, the poem tied the Trans-Continental Railroad to the Chinese, inferring deaths during the construction. I just recently watched a television show called “America: Facts vs. Fiction.”  It stated that it is fiction that thousands of Chinese were killed during the construction. Once again, the Irish suffered more death than the Chinese for various reasons. Irish deaths. The Chinese did suffer deaths but many of them were due to Smallpox. Click on “perished” on the website.

But for now, enough about the poem.

I live in a housing development that is run by a resident association board. At one time, my husband was the president of the board. He would get phone calls day and night from people complaining to complain. My husband finally got to the point that when people started their rant, he would say to them, ‘Do you have a solution to your complaint, or are you calling just to complain?’ If they didn’t have even an idea to solve an apparent problem, he would tell them he was done with the conversation. He didn’t want to hear people complain just to complain.

I think that is what is wrong. People want to complain, commiserate on circumstances, and not look at solutions to situations. OR complain about the past, in which NOTHING can be done to change it!

Being effective is looking at a problem and looking how you can better the situation. It is taking a negative and positively looking at how the negative can be turned to a positive. Complaining about injustices does not work towards a positive solution; Reliving the past, does not improve the future. I know that when I look at things negatively, I begin to see all things negatively. Being pessimistic takes away positive energy and you find yourself with a dark cloud over your life.

I am sure these young ladies think that their poem is a positive force to the injustices in the world. The only problem is they are only complaining; they are not providing solutions, or looking to the positives in the world. Not only that, they are only providing part of the story and putting everyone in the same category.

Maybe these young ladies are coastal. I have found that, living in the Midwest, our families may not face the same situations. I can only speak for my family, but we are church-going, service-minded, active in the community kind of people. We understand that there is a correlation with consequences to actions and respecting individuals is huge. We believe that book education is equal to life experience and the size of one’s wallet does not define one’s character. We believe that hard work is better than laziness but hard work does not always equate to “big bucks!”

I have written this before and I live it everyday. Find something, every day, in which to be thankful. Whether it is large/important, or minute, find at least one thing to be in praise.

People complain. If you look deep inside and find that you are a complainer and not a solution finder, try to change. When you want to complain about something, determine the reason for your complaint. Are there steps that can be taken to improve the situation? Is it just an attitude adjustment that needs to be made?

If there is a legitimate complaint, what can be done to make things better? Is it an attitude adjustment that someone else needs to make? Is it something that needs to be brought to people of authority-people who can make a change? And if someone needs to be approached, try to make a positive spin on your feelings. I know it is hard,but in trying to make things better, you will feel better and let’s face it, the world needs more positive actions, the negative seem to be taking over and that causes fighting, bitterness and ugliness.

Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

I have set a goal to write every week. Some of my blogs may be frivolous but I hope that I can help make a difference. I am in praise that God puts situations in my life that I feel are relevant to real life. Today it is to be positive, next week it may be a recipe that I find fabulous. Whatever I write, I hope I make people smile, think, take action or just get away,for a short time, to another place in time or space.

Always editing my life

I am amazed at how many times I look at something I have written, think it looks fine, publish it, only to find out that I have typos, or grammatical errors or misspellings. Just when I think it is ready to go…there it is, something I did not see before.

Like the last post I had, I looked at it numerous times, thought it looked and flowed nicely. I publish, only to go back less than an hour later and find two, yes two, errors that were so obvious, and yet I missed them. Even the auto-correct had missed them. And this now is the second time I have written this. I originally had it as a draft, incomplete. When I came back to my writing, I hit publish and put something out there not completed. I don’t know what I was thinking; I was thinking it wouldn’t publish? I don’t know. I needed to send it to trash and start over so someone would not go to my page and read something that was not finished. WOW, what a life.

How many times do we walk through life and wish that we could have a re-do, or have an auto-correct? If only we had an editor walking by our side, or in our head, that would make the correction before the words came out of our mouth! Wow, what a concept that would be!

I think we do have an auto-correct in our brain for words that come out of our mouth. I think it is a better system than anything that we have for the written word. It is called a conscience. And nicely so, we don’t have to spell words when they come out of our mouth. As I am getting older, gaining wisdom, and growing in maturity, I try to be more aware of what I say and how I say it.

While I know that we are in a world where instant messaging is rampant and we want everyone to know what we are doing, every minute of the day, we still need to think; we need to think about what we say and how we say it. We need to realize that everyone does not need to know every detail of our life.

I made the mistake years ago of having my emails sent out as soon as I hit the “send” button. I wanted to get those emails out straight away! That is fine until you write something in the heat of the moment. You are writing from raw emotion and not necessarily thinking about those words and how they can impact someone else. Because of that incident, my emails sit in my outbox for a while, just in case I need to edit (or delete) those words.

It was a Friday night, my husband was out-of-town and the children and I were watching a movie, theatre-style (which meant with all of the lights out). That Friday night was also the deadline for Girl Scout leaders to get their cookie orders input into the on-line computer program. They had until midnight. You see, I was the Girl Scout Product Sales Coordinator for the county where I live and it was my responsibility to make sure that all of the orders were entered and looked correct. I hoped that everything would go smoothly and there would be very few problems. What do they say about Murphy’s Law? Well Murphy was present that night.

Too make a long story shorter, a leader phoned me and asked if she could have an extension on the entry deadline. I had to tell her no because I had deadlines. I asked her what I could do to help. She hung up on me as she did not like my answer. She then called back and said that her internet was down and she had phoned someone to come fix it (after 8:00 pm Friday night) and that she also was having a birthday party for her child and that I needed to be reasonable and give her more time. (I think the comment about bringing in a repairman was to guilt me into acquiescing) Numerous times I offered to input the information for her and she would not have that. She spent ten minutes yelling at me (and I have to admit, I started yelling back) when in those ten minutes, I could have had all of her information input.

Well, by the time I got off the phone with her (she had hung up on me again), I was very frustrated. This leader sent me an email which was not very kind. I wrote an email to my boss (BTW, I was a volunteer in that position) and used words that you would use when you are frustrated. I hit the send button and the email was sent immediately.

That was all well and good BUT instead of hitting the “forward” button, I hit the “reply” button. This ranting email, that was meant for my eyes and the eyes of my boss, was sent directly to the person of which I was ranting! I was devastated!!!!

So now not only did I need to phone my boss and explain what I had just done (at 10:00 at night), I needed to apologize to the volunteer for my inappropriate words. After I made those phone calls, I immediately went to my email settings and changed how my emails were sent. I would never allow my words written in frustration to go out straight away. I would take the time to mull over what I had written and make sure that it represents who I am.

I will not say that I am perfect in what I say or write. But I will say that I was greatly humbled by what transpired that night.

I do make sure that if I say words in anger, they are not words I will regret at a later date. I make sure that what I write represents who I am. I make sure that what I say in confidence is something which does not shame me if that confidence is broken.

I do believe in freedom of speech. But I also believe that just because you have that right, it does not mean you should say anything you want. I do believe you have to take others into consideration. It is so important that I “do unto others…” I truly wish there were more people out there that thought of the consequences of their words and the way they are used.

There are two things that stick in my mind about my mother: 1) I have never heard her swear, not even a “gosh” or “golly” and 2) I have never heard my mom raise her voice or say an argumentative word towards or about my father. She always said that she doesn’t swear because she has too much respect for herself-that her language represents who she is and she does not want foul language to be that representation. WOW, such wisdom.

I want my words to represent who I am. While I regret, terribly, that Friday night when I wrote such wrong things, I wouldn’t change that night for the world because it helped make me a better person. How I wish I could have learned that without the controversy but that is not how it happened.

How can I or how can others in this world get out that message? How do we educate others to believe that their language represents who they are? How do we make the world a better place through OUR words? I hope that maybe my words and my actions could bring people to action. There are so many people out there that say, ‘if this can change the life of just one person…’ well I don’t want that; I want this to impact more than one person.

I WANT TO IMPACT THE WORLD!!!!! I want people to realize that words have the power to uplift or to destroy. My grandfather always said, “Do not raise yourself up by bringing others down.” Once again, such wisdom. I want to be a person who raises others up and in return, makes me a better person, a person that makes my mom proud.

I hope and pray that I have the chance to change the world, one little (but powerful) word at a time.

(Oh and BTW, there was only one suggested change to this blog when I hit the “publish” button)