Dazed and Confused

apples

I have a little confession to make.  It has been a really tough year keeping track of the political arena and who is going to lead this country beginning next year.  And perhaps like many of you, I have had a difficult time choosing someone to stand behind.  Mentally, it has been like trying to scour through a basket full of very badly bruised and rotten apples, attempting to find that one edible orb I could possibly use.  As soon as I think I’ve found that certain one, it is tossed out of the basket and I have to start all over again.  Now we are left with what looks like a choice of two; an old Granny Smith apple with a tough wrinkled skin as well as a sour bite and a new hybrid that has not been thoroughly tested and proven to be of use in the old proverbial political pie.

Mentally, I guess I am waiting for an interruption from our regularly scheduled lives to hear something that goes a little like this.  “We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for a special announcement concerning our nation’s current political figures.  As it turns out, this was all a farce and the real political candidates were on back order but are now available for service.  We apologize for any misunderstandings this may have brought about.  We now send you back to your regularly scheduled programming currently in progress.”  Don’t criticize someone for dreaming, right?

And at the same time our national political circus is in high gear, Jenny and I have the distinct opportunity to experience another political “say what?” here in North Carolina.  Our governor has passed a bill called HB 2 (House Bill 2) commonly called the bathroom bill which basically spells out that if you were born a male, you must use the restroom marked “Men” and if you were born female, you must use the restroom marked “Women”.  What seemed like a common sense piece of legislature has become a landmark case of discrimination against transsexuals who wish to use the restroom whose reflected sex on the restroom sign they currently relate to rather than going to the restroom that matches their biological equipment.  As a result, there have been corporations threatening to either pull out of or not expand their companies in the state, musicians have cancelled concerts and the Federal Government has sued the state of North Carolina based on discrimination with the state circling the wagons with a countersuit.  All over the equipment God gave us versus the equipment we wished we had?  Really?  No wonder we feel dazed and confused sometimes…

When I was growing up as the youngest of six until the time we moved and joined the “flushable” society when I was eight, we too had a choice concerning going to the restroom.  You see, down the brick path past the coal house and large cherry tree sat the “outhouse”, complete with two different sized holes.  Depending on the size of your accumulated assets, you either used one or the other.  And because of the rather pungent undesirable aroma and at times, stray wasp, there was no hording bathroom time; you came and went as fast as possible and hoped no one saw you.  Alas, simpler times…

Today, we would probably be offered free counseling for going through such a horrid ordeal, plus new government housing so we wouldn’t have to live in such deplorable conditions again and maybe a new custom built bathroom with an upgraded toilet all provided by the US government complete with an apology.

So what am I saying exactly?  Perhaps this; in the Declaration of Independence it begins with, “We the People” incorporating ALL peoples of this great country, not just those screaming the loudest, or has the most money, or has the support of those holding the most funds.  And while the government is dictating “common core” upon our children in our schools, I am looking for a leader to come forward with their own “common core” of beliefs.  First of all, the common decency to live a life that can be scrutinized and yet come through with his or her integrity intact.  A person who has the common sense to not bow to the whims of special interest groups, to not set themselves up to be palpably pleasing to the political palates and appetites of super packs, rather have the courage to go against the flow in order to represent ALL Americans.  And I would hope they would have the common courtesy of cherishing integrity over entitlement.

I know it is a tall order but nothing is impossible.  Maybe first we, as a nation, need to read the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights again.  There is a slogan going around this year “Make America Great Again”…really?  How about “Make America Accountable Again”, beginning with those at the top and letting it filter down to the everyday Joe.  Let US (you and I) be accountable for doing the right thing, for meeting the needs of others when you see a need instead of thinking someone else will step in.  Maybe for once, we can be accountable for our own actions and addictions instead of blaming others?  And maybe we can still hold on to the mindset our forefathers had.  Come on, you can still read it on MOST of our currency.  In God We Trust?  Just sayin…

I know we have a long way to go and maybe I am just cleaning off my rose colored glasses before placing them firmly back on this face of denial but I do still have hope for our country AND for each other.  I know, opinions are like belly buttons; everybody has one (unless they have been surgically augmented).  I am just hoping when it comes time for the inauguration, they don’t mistakenly play “Send in the Clowns”, instead of “Hail to the Chief”.

 

Proverbs 14:11-1211 The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish. 12 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

Unexpected Expressions of Love

rainbow cross

We have a rather strange anomaly at our house.  You see, written out on our expansive driveway are the words, “I LOVE YOU”.  Normally you can’t see the affectionate message because it is virtually invisible to the naked eye…unless it rains.  After a downpour, the hidden message comes to life.  I can only conjecture that the desperate scribe was in an adequately sized “dog house” at the time, the size of which would sufficiently house a Saint Bernard.  In his hurried act of desperation, he scribbled these words with the only thing he had at the time…I’m going to guess perhaps a chrome wheel cleaner.

I chuckle to myself every time I see it because it reminds me how unexpected expressions of love are displayed in our everyday lives and many times we are just too busy to see it…or may be express it?  (Of course, I could also be chuckling to myself because I wasn’t the one in the doghouse…)

A second, much more recent example occurred on Mother’s Day.  I like to get my wife a little something for Mother’s Day and strive to make it a little special.  Let’s face it guys, where would we be on Father’s Day if we didn’t have our wives as mothers…right?  And if we didn’t honor them with a little something, we would probably be writing “I LOVE YOU” on our own driveways, anything to get out of that proverbial doghouse.  Anyway, I had picked up a gift and had planned to make her breakfast.  I had also noticed the daisies dotting the horse pasture, blowing in the breeze.  I schemed to get up early on Sunday morning, sneak out the door and cut some of the daisies and put them in a vase just as something special.

What I didn’t expect was her reaction when she saw the flowers.  Jenny exclaimed “You picked me daisies!!” with an excited look and misty eyes.  My expression was one of surprise and confusion; I couldn’t figure out the response I received.  I later asked her about it and she explained that I went out of my way for a simple expression of love and it meant much more to her than going to the local Walmart for a bunch of flowers.  (Hhhmmmm…I wonder what will be growing out there in August for her birthday?)

You see, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a large material item to express “I love you!” or  “ I really appreciate you!!”…sometimes it only takes you being present in the moment.

God also showed His love for us in different unexpected ways.  One of those expressions can be seen after a thunderstorm; a beautiful rainbow.  And before the symbol of the rainbow was used and abused as a symbol for sexual immorality, it was THE symbol from God as a covenant between Himself and man.  Genesis 9:12-17 (NIV) says–And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

Even though God had destroyed the earth by water because there was so much evil on this earth, He still loved us enough to make a covenant between himself and all life on earth.  To this day, that is exactly what I think about when I have the privilege to see a rainbow in the sky; a promise kept and a really cool expression of love.

Another unexpected and ultimate expression of God’s love for us has to do with our redemption.  Romans 5:8 (NIV) states—“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  And while I still can’t quite grasp that kind of love, I have to accept it as a gift I can never repay.  John 3:16 explains—“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The cross, once a symbol of death, has become a beacon of life for ANYONE who believes in Jesus Christ as their lord and savior, who confesses their sins and becomes a new creation.  Simply speaking, this is the kind of love that sets the standard for all of us to follow.

So as you go on with your ordinary lives, take note of all of the unexpected expressions of love that surround you.  Participate in expressing that love as much as you can.  You definitely don’t want to be that guy (or gal) making a run to Walmart to purchase that chrome wheel cleaner so you can scribble a desperate message of love across your driveway.  If you need some help with expressions of love, try reading 1 Corinthians chapter 13 (NIV) reflected below; it is known as the LOVE chapter and for good reason.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Daisies

In Honor of Mothers

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Mother’s Day is coming upon us especially fast this year, being particularly early on the calendar.  And as everyone is rushing around attempting to find that perfect card and tangible something special, I have to just sit back and remember my own Mom who passed three years ago.

She was indeed a strong woman who lived simply, loved unconditionally and had a sharp wit and childlike humor that took some folks aback just a little.  As I think about mom, I cannot be sad for I know I will see her again someday.  So this year, I am going to think upon Mom and smile, remembering all the good times and some of the quips she would throw out that would bring an instant smile to our faces.

After our mom passed, my family compiled a list of quips and sayings, nuggets of simple wisdom our mom would often recite.  Reflected below, are some of those statements followed by my struggling attempt to explain them.

I dedicate this to all the moms out there.  If you are reading this and you are celebrating with your mom on Sunday, give her a tighter squeeze and an extra “I Love You!!”  For our time here is short and you never know when your casual goodbye to your loved one might just be your last.  If you are like many of us, remembering our moms with fondness who have gone on, may this bring a smile to YOUR face as you remember your loved one.

 

MOM—isms

We all have memories of different things our Mom used to say that sticks out in our minds.  Here are a few of them you may have heard:

 “Time to gidddddup!!” – an irritating way of trying to rouse us out of bed in the morning.

“It’s bedtime for babies like you…” – another irritating way of telling us it was time for bed when we were kids.

“Kids, this just ain’t right!”—exclamation for anything that didn’t appear ok…

“I washed as far as possible”—enough said…

“What in the Sam Hill?” or “Where in the Sam Hill”—Exclamation!!!

“For Pete’s sake!” —Exclamation!!!

“I’ve got to worsh the deeshes”—Appalachian mom speak for “I have to wash the dishes”.

“Now kids…you’ve done too much!”—used at Christmas time to exclaim she had too many gifts…

“Time to get the bed clothes on” – time to put on your pajamas.

“Listen kids….aaahhhhh quiet…” – Mom’s way of stating she needed peace.  Also mom’s way of making her kids go hole-in-the-wall crazy.

“There will always be weather, whether or not”—enough said…

“If IFs and ANDs were pots and pans, there would be no need for tinkers”—another saying that would make her kids go hole-in-the-wall crazy.

“Ride Shank’s pony”—Exclamation when you didn’t have any transportation.

“Would you like a half-cake of gum?”—Wrigley’s Doublemint peppermint sticks…yum!?

“There’s no sense in it”—It doesn’t make sense

“Can’t died in the poor house”—No explanation needed here.

“I am so full I could not pull, even a blade of grass” – “Boy, am I stuffed!!”

“Don’t choke chicken”—kinda self explanatory, huh?

“You simple kids!”—yep…

“Are you kidding me?” – are you pulling my leg?

“Now kids, quit worrying about me!” – Shhuuttt UUpppp!!

“Oh my word!” – Exclamatory

“Pussy wants her corner.” – “That’s my seat..please get up now!”

“Every hen thinks her chicks are the best” – Everyone’s proud of their own.

“Don’t you feel sorry for this old woman?” – Trying to get sympathy when losing in a game.

“Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” – UCK!!

“Eat your food, people in China are starving…” – …and we wonder where our fat cells came from.

And the prayer our family always said before meals:

God is Great, God is Good

And we thank Him for our food

By His goodness, all are fed

Give us Lord, our daily bread. Amen!

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