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Friday, October 30, 2020

A FAMILY DIVIDED

I have purposefully unplugged from all the political turmoil.  I am not commenting.  I am not putting my two cents in---not even one cent.  I do not reply when you comment on your leanings.  I am staying away from the fray, out of the storm, and choose instead to fly under the radar. My profile is SO low, my nose is leaving a channel in the dirt.



My family is a family divided when it comes to politics.  We are conservative, liberal, and some are even way off the beaten path.  We all look through different eyes, we all think differently, and we even live very diverse lives.  We are sometimes in opposing camps when it comes to politics.  Nothing wrong with that---I respect their right to believe differently from me.  It does not affect my love for them--one iota. We can agree to disagree with no malice.  Politics will never supersede family.

The world does not seem to hold this view. Politics has become a fighting sport.  I have never enjoyed blood baths or human carnage.  

There is a line of thinking that if the side I support does not win, the world as we know it will come to an end.  Some say taxes will rise and others believe we need a flat tax.  Some say we need universal health care, but I have never heard of anyone being refused necessary treatment.  Some say we are losing all our freedoms, and others say we have never been free.  I have had others tell me, from both sides, the country we live in will never be the same.  

I agree the country we live in will not be the same.  It has never stayed the same. Check out your history books.  The government was formed with checks and balances.  We do not live in a dictatorship-one branch of government does not determine how we are ruled.  It takes all three--to make, implement, and interpret the law.  Whoever is president-when the final vote is counted-the sun will come up the next day and the world will keep turning.

Most important~either you believe in an omnipotent God or you don't.  HE ALREADY KNOWS who will be our next president.  HE ALREADY KNOWS our future.  I trust that God will use the next president to carry out His plans for me--for our country.  HE is never surprised and HE can use ALL THINGS for Good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.  

I have already voted~and I have no intention of saying who I voted for.  I respect your right to vote your conscience and I hope you respect mine.  Wednesday morning--I am still going to think of you with great fondness and admiration--and I do not need to know for whom you voted.  I love you no matter who the next president is!

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Proverbs 19:21

Thursday, October 29, 2020

THE CIRCLE OF LIFE

 I seem to be missing on the blogosphere more than present in the past few months.  Life has taken many strange twists and turns-as we all realize~and I am here but also profoundly affected by all that has transpired in this year.


Unlike this slogan appearing on shirts all over America, I firmly believe there is something to be learned--some lesson to gleam from all that has transpired this year.  One particular thing I have been reminded of is to not ask

"What ELSE could possibly happen?"

That seems to be just asking for trouble!

After being locked down tight since March 13, I left Labor Day and spent the next six weeks helping #1 Daughter with Virtual School.  I came away with a deep admiration for teachers--I already admired them--but virtual school took it up a couple more notches. 


I could write a book on the four weeks of sitting by a kindergarten students elbow "doing school."  

I came home nine days ago to isolate for 10 days before heading to help with #7 grand.  After six weeks of being with a family of six and all the wonderful chaos that entails--it has been quite an adjustment to being home and completely alone.  Looking forward to my time helping with this little wonder~


One of the things I have observed while gone and then isolated, is the circle of life continues--whether I am in the midst of it or not.

A dear friend's beloved father in now in hospice with days left on this earth.  He is a wonderful and Godly man-beloved by all who know him.  Certainly one of the finest men I have ever known.  His family adore him and are searching for how to let him go and how to go on without him.  What a wonderful and remarkable legacy.

So I head to Austin to help with one who is just beginning his trek through this crazy world and others are sitting by the bedside of the loved one who has lived a long and productive life trying to help him leave this world wrapped in a cocoon of the love they feel for him.  The circle of life is a beautiful thing--even in the midst of all that is happening in this eventful year.  A year for the record books filled with the every day trek through life.  Don't wish away what might seem to be a nightmare of a year---embrace the ordinary and remember the gift of life is a blessing.  No matter how bleak things may seem-there is always joy found in the midst of life and lessons to be gleamed in every circumstance.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord

plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, August 24, 2020

JUNK AND TRASH

 My long time readers will all remember I have a "thing" about the local landfill.  TRULY, it is a fascinating place!  Perhaps in a former life I drove a trash truck?  One thing is for sure--one man's junk is another man's treasure.  If you don't grab that treasure off the side of the road, once it is headed for the landfill---it's a lost cause.  They have quite an efficient operation.


I must confess, in my lifetime, there has been quite the evolution of how we handle our trash.  As a child there was the oil drum way behind our house where we took the day's trash. When I scooted back the slightly ajar lid to dump the trash can, I was greeted quite a few times by a snarling possum.  This ALWAYS led to a scream, throwing the trash straight up in the air, and running for my life.  THEN Momma sent me back to pick up said trash, clean up my mess and finish the job-even though death by a mad possum was virtually guaranteed.  OH, THANK YOU, that I no longer have to tackle snarling possums to get rid of the trash.  (THOSE BUGGERS HAVE NEEDLE SHARP TEETH!)  After successfully dumping the trash in the barrel, I struck a match and set the papers on fire that we lined the can with.  Hopefully all the trash burned after leaving the lid ajar so the fire could get some oxygen.  I don't remember the schedule, but the town garbage truck came by and emptied the ashes and what remained in the truck to be taken to the city dump occasionally. (We didn't have landfills, we had dumps where the trash was then burned again).  The EPA was probably created from the air being filled with toxic fumes from dumps all over the country.



Fast forward to today.  Trash is an industry-well the handling of our trash.  This past week I cleaned out my outdoor storage house and ended up with a truck load of junk.  With a borrowed truck, I loaded the junk up and headed to the landfill.  LESSON LEARNED--do not go on a weekday mid-morning.  The parish and city trucks were also arriving with their first or second loads and I ended up in a line between them all.  WHAT must they have thought?  Sorry I am off track.  First you have to stop on the scale to be weighed before proceeding to unload your truck.  In my former life of a decade ago, I went to the landfill regularly to take my yard trash in my role as yard girl and grounds keeper.  It was an easy process--I was on first name basis with the gate keeper.  They don't know me anymore--sadly.  


I proceed to the shed where you dump the trash and sat in line between all the trucks.  FINALLY it is my turn, and I get ready to back up.  The "man in charge" sees its a lone woman in the midst of all the trucks and immediately stops my backward progress.  He make me line up the truck again--I still don't know why I need to move over 3 feet- and then directs me  back.  The WHOA! shook the entire truck.  He proceeds to help me unload my junk-I guess for the sake of me not being there all day.  At the bottom of the heap were some old metal stakes.  "Is that metal?--You gotta take that to the metal bin, Lady!"  I'm staring at him like I've been hit over the head with a metal stake--"WHERE is the metal bin?"  Lady--just follow this road and at the stop sign you can't miss it just right across the road.  He was right, but the dead give away was all the metal on the ground around the bin. So one more stop to "chunk" (proud to say I can still chunk) the stakes up and into the bin.  Back to the scale to weigh again and then I get the old wave which is the high sign for you are dismissed.  I must admit disappointment.  If anyone was ever perfect for a position at the landfill, it was me.  I am a model of efficiency and order.  There was no job offer--only a smile and dismissal.

Back in the old days, we would occasionally take a load to the dump and just back up to the pile and throw it on.  They don't let you anywhere near where the actual burying is going on.  The junk is offloaded into a 18 wheeler and it takes it to the site.  I am certain there is good reason for this.  Perhaps they don't trust old ladies driving pick up trucks to stay out of the way of the tractors or create chaos.

The trash we accumulate in our lives has become quite an industry.  From the time you throw something in the plastic bagged garbage can to the ultimate disposition in the parish landfill there is an intricate process of how things are handled.  I am a big recycle fan and actually have more recycle trash than garbage.  Wouldn't we all be  better off if we were careful of the trash we accumulate?  Who wants there life filled with trash?  Who wants our world filled with trash?  I am not speaking just of the physical trash, but the emotional and spiritual junk we are often burdened with.  What is your process of ridding yourself of that junk?  Food for thought.


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up

Hebrews 12:1

Saturday, August 22, 2020

VIRTUAL LEARNING

 Truly, I have been at such a loss these past six plus months with limited volunteer opportunities.  Being a part of the "vulnerable crowd" certainly has its downfalls and at the top of my list has been limited social contact.  Being an introvert does not mean I do not enjoy and even crave social interaction.  Instead I just need time to recharge my batteries between dives into the throngs of humanity I dearly love.



I miss conversation, but I especially miss hugs--touches--physical contact.  It has not been easy to resist grabbing others and wrapping them in a smothering hug. It just does not seem normal.

Well things are about to take a big turn in my little world--FOR THE BETTER!  I am about to embark on the "virtual learning" journey.  All four of the younger grands are going to have a month of stay at home learning experience.  This past spring, the education community was caught off guard, I believe they are ready for the challenge with the start of the new school year.  All my education friends tell me there will be ways to monitor participation and the truancy officer will come see you if you are not present and accounted for each day.



With four children in four different grades, #1 daughter has her hands full.  I love volunteering in the schools and am kept from that passion with the new COVID rules in schools here.  WELL---I volunteered to come help with The Jennings School  until they are allowed to go back to in person school.  "Fun Lulu" is being replaced by "Get the task done" Lulu.  We will divide and conquer those little scholars!  AND as an added bonus, I am pretty sure I will get a hug or two along the way.

NOW, in all honesty, I am more than a little intimated at times by technology.  We will have four computers and tablets plugged in to four different sites.  It makes my head spin to think about it!  Hopefully the two oldest grands will be able to navigate their way through the cyber world to where they are supposed to be.  BUT, the thought of 8:00-3:00 need to stay on the right cyber page is slightly frightening--well honestly-down right scary!

While thinking over how this will look when school starts, I realized I have actually done quite a bit of virtual learning over my lifetime.  Whenever I am plugged in to the correct "Main Frame", things have run pretty smoothly.  The times that have been not just rocky but at times like riding out a hurricane have been when I lost my connection, forgot to power up, crashed the system by some foolishness.  Thank goodness I am always allowed to reboot and power up again.  

Virtual learning is old as time itself.  Thankful to have a loving teacher with infinite patience as I traverse this old world.  Always learning--always learning!

It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.

John 6:45

Friday, August 14, 2020

LIFE ON SHIFTING SANDS

 This pandemic and the current state of the world has me vacillating a lot between



peeping out of my den to see if things have returned to normal ( I KNOW there is no such thing as normal)


AND



When I get a whiff of what is currently happening, I want to bury my head in the sand.

Is it any wonder I am having a tough time writing?  


I NEVER in my wildest dream considered the world would look like it does today!


Some things, though, have not changed


We have always lived in a hurting and broken world



We all desire to be loved

AND


The world may be quickly changing and shifting around us---we never know what the next moment may bring, but God NEVER changes.  He is our hope!

I am the LORD,

and I do not change.

Malachi 3:6

Monday, August 10, 2020

PRACTICE-PRACTICE-PRACTICE

The news is reporting all the football teams are beginning to practice for their coming season.  NO MATTER HOW I FEEL ABOUT THAT-SIGH~I will not be distracted from the purpose of this post and football season is NOT the nucleus of my thoughts (EVER).


 

Practice is an essential part of any sport.  MANY more hours are spent practicing than actually playing the game.  Cross country is an excellent example.  The runners practice year round except for a couple of brief breaks after seasons are over.  MILES AND MILES are run--daily--in all kinds of weather conditions--and on all types of terrain.  Top that with cross training and you spend at least a couple of hours daily--6-7 days a week for more than 11 months of the year preparing for a handful of races which all last--no more than 30 minutes each.




I practiced for 18 weeks each time I ran a marathon.  You cannot just decide to run a marathon and expect to show up the day of the race and finish 26.2 miles.  Unless you are some superhuman species, the muscles have to learn what you are going to expect from them and your head has to get prepared for the mental challenge of running that distance.  It would never have been possible without all those days of practice.  The same held true for each hiking trip we went on.  You cannot go climb a mountain without preparing yourself physically by practicing the ups and downs long before you step foot on the mountain.  Most physical endeavors require practice to perform at your best.



I practice writing each and every time I sit down and put a thought on paper.  During the quarantine, I began drawing.  With each attempt I was practicing the art so I would get better.  Practice also instills memories in not just our brain, but also our muscles.  We are learning what to do and how to do it by practicing the skill.


The last few minutes of the news are the real reason I watch the news most days.  No matter what horrible things are going on in the world, the news teams gives us a glimpse of a better world the last thing on the show. Recently I saw a special about a young boy who they declared was practicing compassion.  NOW if there EVER was anything worthy of practice--daily practice it is compassion.  And most of the time, we do not walk away from that practice drained, but instead energized.  One little act of compassion can lead to another and another--with practice we become addicted to the blessings of helping our fellow man.  

I cannot think of anything more worthy of practice than compassion.  What a beautiful world it would be if we all would only practice love and mercy daily.  There would indeed by glory--if we would only practice.


"God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them."

Hebrews 6:10

Sunday, August 9, 2020

FEAR NOT

I have been locked down since March 13.  Following the rules, and trying to be a good citizen and neighbor, I have been questioned why I think this is necessary.  I have been reminded I only have one risk factor---OLD AGE.  And then my kids remind me I am vulnerable-- "Stay home, MOM!"  AND right up the street is my sweet niece, who if she sees me in my car, will stop me and ask where I am going.  I am thankful for being so cared for.


My reason for being extremely cautious is two fold---I would NOT want to transmit the disease--even unknowingly.  There seems to be some who have the opinion that the loss of some human life is a acceptable cost of not being inconvenienced.  As for myself, I am willing to stay home if it means I am not responsible for your grandparents or parents loss.  What a heavy burden to my conscious it would be to know my desire to go somewhere caused the loss of a loved one.


My second reason is totally selfish of me.  I laughingly tell people, I do not care to suffer~I don't do suffering well.  OH, I laugh it off, but there is a huge element of truth in this statement.  COVID, if you are one of the ones badly affected, will cause suffering and even a mild case is no cake walk.  NOW--there is no barometer for who will be dangerously sick and who will not.  Certainly older adults are more negatively affected, but there are young and old alike filling the ICU beds across the country.  I have read about the varied symptoms and none of them sound like a ball of fun.  AGAIN, I do not want to suffer.

As I walked my circles around the Hood in the early morning twilight today, it occurred to me I have an aversion to suffering in many areas including relationships.  Fear and reluctance have become barriers for entertaining deepening of some relationships~fear of the possibility of suffering.  How quickly I forget the benefits of deep relationships--the blessings love offers--instead I dwell on the pain that a relationship might entail. 

The most important thing I tend to forget when trying to avoid suffering is the most tangible feeling of the presence of Jesus has come in my deepest suffering.  He is always present, but I am most aware in my times of greatest suffering.  He walks by my side, upholds me with His strong right arm, and holds my tears.

So my take away, it is almost a sure bet, I will suffer again--before I leave this temporary home.  BUT---suffering does not negate the blessings along the path which eventually lead to suffering.  AND--Jesus is present--ALWAYS--and I am especially aware of Him being near in periods of greatest suffering.

FEAR NOT!