This morning I started a new reading plan in the YouVersion Bible App. (With my life, I find it easier to carry the app on my phone than a paper Bible, though I still own several and use at least one.) I don’t always use these plans, but they’re good for some insights I might otherwise miss.

When you start a plan, it always asks if you want your friends to see your activity. (I don’t think I even have any friends on the app, although I’m sure it can link to Facebook as well.) And every time, you get an email thanking you for starting the plan. The email also says this:

“We’re more likely to follow through on our good intentions when we share our experience with others. Each day when you read, consider sharing a verse or two with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media. (You can learn how at [URL I’m omitting because I don’t want the link to post].)”

Youversion email

I don’t know about that, though. I suppose they mean it as a form of accountability…certainly we need that. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend,” the Bible says. But we’re talking specifically here about sharing the things we read and pray. The communication directly between us and God, not corporately, but individually. The Bible says something about that, too:

“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Matt. 6.6

This word came at a time when the scriptures weren’t something you would have in your home to read at your leisure, and so the time of prayer WAS their entire devotions. We can feel safe adding Scripture reading to that, because we are privileged to have easy access to it, so I think the principle still applies. I specifically quoted the King James Version here, because of the word “closet” (translated as the technically accurate but slightly different word “room” in most other translations). You don’t have to literally climb into your closet, but the point is that it’s a private setting. This is not for public eyes–this is you standing (or kneeling!) before your Father and receiving His direction. While you may have cause later to share something you’ve learned, it won’t be in the sense of letting others watch you learning it. This is tutoring, not a lecture hall.

There’s another reason why I think this kind of sharing may be overrated. Look back one verse earlier.

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” Matt. 6:5.

Look: we live in a social media age. I, for one, do not think that is a bad thing. I’m a writer (at least at the hobby level). A lot of what I do depends on social media. Without them (you know “media” is plural, right? I caught myself almost saying “it” instead of “them”) I would never get anything noticed. Also I rely on them to keep in touch with many wonderful people, whom I might never have heard from again after high school or college. But, every new and good thing that comes along has its own inherent dangers, and social media are no different.

There’s always been a risk of falling in love with ourselves. We like the sound of our own voices. We want to be noticed, to be seen, to be approved, to be applauded. In moderation, that’s normal, and not so bad–it drives us to achieve things. But this particular drive can get out of hand with alarming ease–after all, it appeals back to the very first sin, pride. Today, we don’t go out and stand in the temple or on a street corner and pray at the top of our lungs to be noticed, and if we did, people would give us a wide berth. But here’s this new way to perform an old sin–and if everything you read or pray about gets instantly broadcast, well, ask yourself why? Are you doing it to feel good? To let people see how pious you are? That’s the wrong motivation. I run the risk of doing that even when I write posts like this one, so I can imagine how easy it must be when it’s done automatically.

I won’t call you wrong to use this neat little feature of the app. You might be able to do so innocently and in good faith. But as with anything, be cautious, and constantly check your own heart. Our personal devotions are a time of humility, of attendance to God, and of focus…and that’s something that should be between us and Him, first and foremost.

I would like to point out that I am in no way disparaging YouVersion or the Bible App, which are both excellent services.  I am not decrying the availability of the Sharing and Friend tools, but rather encouraging judicious use of those tools.

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Time Away

Posted: March 17, 2017 in Children, Family, Spiritual, Thoughts, Uncategorized

This morning I heard a song on the radio that struck me.  You may have heard it; Pat Green’s “While I Was Away” (linked below).  In it, he sings to his child about the love he has for them (I suspect it’s a daughter, but the song is just carefully vague enough to go either way), and about all the things he has to miss while his job keeps him away.

The video adds poignancy; it showcases a number of professions that keep people away from home for many days each year.  Each job is listed with the average number of days that it keeps them away.  I challenge you to get through it without tearing up.

Often we read or see things urging us to spend more time on our families and less on our careers.  It’s so common as to be a meme.  How many times have you heard this old chestnut:  “No one ever puts a U-Haul trailer on the back of a hearse”—meaning, you can’t take it with you, so why work for it now?  Or how about this:  “No one on their deathbed ever said ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office’”?  I know you’ve heard it before.  It’s a valid sentiment, mostly.  What it overlooks is the great number of well-meaning, loving, hard-working spouses and parents who aren’t working for material wealth, so much as simply to have life at all.

“’Cause the hardest part about working hard ain’t the bills I gotta pay;

It’s you growing up while I was away.”

I didn’t come here today to chastise people for pithy sayings, though.  There are still plenty of people out there who do put their careers before anything and anyone, and the lesson will be valid for them.  I suspect most of us are not there, but only you know your heart.

I’m a father, as anyone who’s read this blog before knows.  Right now, my life is blessed, in the sense that I work a nine-to-five job (more or less).  My kids go to school, and after school they spend a couple of hours with Grandma and Poppaw until I get off work, and then I get every evening with them.  I get every other weekend with them, and half the holidays, and a big chunk of the summer (that’s divorce for you—I’ve discussed that elsewhere, so I won’t get into it here right now).  The only real time I’m separated from them (other than their mother’s visitation days) is during work, which is school for them anyway.  That’s as good as I can ask for, and I’m grateful to have it.

It wasn’t always that way.  I used to have the kind of job the song talks about.  It didn’t keep me traveling, but it still ate up my time.  First I was a corrections officer; I worked thirteen hour days, plus mandatory overtime, with a rotating schedule.  Every day I worked, I lost half my evening with them, because I got home an hour before bedtime.  I left before their day started.  When I was on night shift—every four months we switched—I lost even more time, because we just aren’t wired to sleep during the day, so you have to sleep longer to get the same rest.  Later, when I moved to the mental health field, I worked three to eleven PM, six days a week, meaning I only had my mornings with the children.  I moved up and became a case manager, and switched to a schedule similar to my corrections schedule; now I was working odd days, but working from ten AM to eight-thirty PM.  It was around that time that they started school, and so I would get home just in time to put them to bed.  The divorce happened during that time, as well, and so it was just me, with help from the aforementioned Grandma and Poppaw.

“By the time I made it home, you were already in bed,

Chubby cheek pressed to your pillow by a bedtime book you read.

And I noticed you looked older than you did yesterday—

You’ve been growing up while I was away.”

I don’t regret it at all.  I did what was necessary to keep my children fed and cared for.  It was never a case of chasing a career—I was just keeping us afloat.  When I was able to switch positions…well, I gave some token complaint, because I was so used to what I was doing, but the truth is that I welcomed the change.  I needed the relief.  And through it all, I’ve tried hard to pour my life into my kids and be the father they need.  The time I have available has varied, but they’ve always had as much of it as they need.

I still feel guilty about it sometimes, though.  No matter how much time I have for them, I’ll always second-guess myself.  Could I do better?  Am I giving them the time they need?  Am I using the time in the best way?  You don’t have to be away to feel guilty about this.  You just have to suspect you could do better.

“You made a pile of leaves in the front yard, I guess it’s already fall;

By the look of those pictures your mama took, the two of you had a ball.

And it made me glad, but a little sad, to see those games you played.

I missed a lot of smiles while I was away.”

To be honest, sometimes I feel it more keenly now, because I have more at stake now.  God blessed me with a second marriage to a wonderful woman, and brought another child into my life along the way.  Marley may not be mine by birth, but she’s as much my child now as Emma and Ethan, and that adds to the responsibility.  There are three little ones with claims on my time now, not just two.

This morning, after hearing that song, I read a passage in a devotional, talking about how we use the time we have.  It made the point that time is short, and we need to be aware of its passage.  We need to be prepared for the future, and we do that by living the best we can in the present.  After all, there’s a lot at stake.

“And I found your note in the kitchen, it’s a real work of art,

A stick man holding your stick hand with “Daddy” written in a heart.

And it got me good, ‘cause I’ve understood what you meant to say:

You’ve been missing me too while I was away.”

I can’t speak for you.  For me, there are two lessons in all of this.  The first is the easy lesson:  Redeem the time.  Do that by making sure your priorities are right.  God, then family, then others, then yourself.  Most of us know that.  We forget sometimes that that doesn’t just mean “make time for God/family/others”, but also means that everything we do, even if not with them, needs to be done in the spirit that it is for them.  Our work?  It’s not just for us.  It’s to serve the important things in life.  That’s what motivates us to do our best, even if that costs us some time with our families.  And of course, as much as possible, find a balance.

That’s the easy lesson, believe it or not.  The second is harder; and I’m speaking mainly to you, fathers, though you mothers might wrestle with the same thing.  Here it is:  Go easy on yourself.  Look, I know you have to watch yourself.  You have to guard to make sure that you give your time where you should.  I’m not questioning that.  But, when you’re doing that, don’t bury yourself in guilt.  You can’t change the past; and you’re working on the present and future.  Do you love your kids?  Are you being with them as much as you can, and caring for them?  Are you also giving due attention to your job?  Then you’re doing fine.  Don’t give that precious time to guilt.  Your kids are going to absorb more than just your time—they’ll get your attitudes, too.  So, don’t feel guilty about doing what you must; just do the best you can, and enjoy your time with them.  That’s what they need, and it’s what you need too.

“And for every dollar I earn there’s a lesson you learn without me there,

And every day I’m on the go, I’m praying that you know that your daddy cared;

‘Cause the hardest part about working hard ain’t the bills I gotta pay,

It’s you growing up while I was away.”

Watch the video here

Words From A Realist

Posted: November 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

I had an odd experience just now. Well, perhaps “odd” isn’t the correct word. “Sad” might be better. It’s not sad for me, except as an observer; but it’s both sad and tragic for the person involved.

It wasn’t much; just a social media post I saw. A friend shared a picture with text about finding hope and optimism in the world, probably because of recent political and related events, but I’m not sure. A friend of that friend commented on it, very bitterly, about having hope and good things torn away every time they appear. It didn’t end in an argument; this person’s friends were supportive, but continued to be optimistic, which is how these things should go (not to mention a refreshing change for the internet). Still, it left me feeling some disquiet.

You see, I know a little of the background here. This person recently, with their (I don’t even want to get into the gender; the whole matter is very private for this person) family, underwent a pretty serious tragedy, of a criminal nature, one which left them feeling incredibly violated and untrusting. Which, honestly, is a perfectly normal response to the situation—most of us would do the same. I’m not judging for the reaction.

It saddens me, though, first because of the tragedy itself, and then because it’s hard to see someone have their sense of hope destroyed. Everyone was being supportive, as I said, but it was not really reassuring this person. The person ended the comment with the phrase “words from a cynic”; in response, others ended their replies with some variation of “words from an optimist”, or alternately, “words from a realist”.

That last resonates with me. “Words from a realist.” What is that all about? Isn’t it realistic to reply with bitterness when your world is torn apart? Isn’t it realistic to take away the lesson that good things will always be destroyed in the end? Isn’t it realistic to just give up and survive?

Again, I’m not judging the response. I haven’t experienced what that person has experienced, and I would never try to act like I understand. But there is something—something realistic, dare I say?—that I do understand.

I understand that there’s a God who gets it. That’s what the Bible says. And when I say He gets it, I don’t mean that it’s just another “I feel your pain” moment, like you or I might do, when the truth is that we really don’t feel their pain. No, I mean that He gets it because it happened to him—perhaps not exactly the same offense, but one worse by far.

I’m afraid this might sound like I’m preaching from some high pulpit, and unfortunately I can’t prevent that, if that is the reaction you get from these words. But I promise you that I don’t mean it that way. I’d never want to steal from someone’s pain or experiences; but directing you to Jesus is never that. What it is, instead, is seeing that pain and pointing you to One Who can handle it far better than us (though that doesn’t mean we won’t try to be there for you as well).

Jesus was captured, beaten, spit on, cut, and mocked, and that was all before His actual murder. Then he was nailed to a cross, left to die, and finally stabbed (after his death, but still, it’s an injustice). That was a violation the likes of which we will probably never endure, and that’s not even counting the suffering he endured by carrying our sin. So believe me when I say, He knows what you’re feeling, whatever it may be. He’s had worse. And He won’t use that “worse” as an excuse to shrug you off, but rather, as a reason to pull you close and feel your pain with you, until you find that He has taken it off your hands. That’s how He heals the heart—not through a miraculous touch, but through constant love and care.

This person raised the point that evil continues to happen all throughout life, until we die. Here’s another piece of realism: That’s true. It does. But here’s something even more real: This life is not what it’s about. And I know it sounds cliché, but through the lens of eternity, this life is miniscule. It matters, because it’s for shaping us and making us; but it’s also brief. What is not addressed here will be addressed in eternity, where—as musician Rich Mullins once put it—“justice reigns, and truth finally wins its hard-fought war against fear and doubt”. All the wounds will be healed, and all the wrongs will be set right. Recompense will be made for the injustice and pain we suffer through the crimes and sins of others, and we will be both happy and free. That’s why—or one reason at least—that the gospel exists.

Jesus makes that happen. And He promised us that we would have trouble in this life, some worse, some better, but universally trouble—another Rich Mullins song sums that up: “In the world you will have trouble, but I leave you my peace.” But here’s the thing: That song goes on to say “that where I am, there you may also be.” It’s true that the trouble of this life is never-ending; it goes on, and hits us again and again. But Jesus made a way to cope. He offers us peace. And at the end, He offers us relief and rest (though He never intended for us to skip ahead—though this person didn’t mention suicide, I feel compelled to mention it, because many people do reach that conclusion.)

Turning to Him isn’t easy. When we hurt, we have a terrible inertia about it. It’s far, far easier to stay put and suffer. It’s not that different from an animal curling up around a wound and snapping at the hands that want to bandage it up. But it is definitely worth it. We reach a point sometimes where we can’t see the value in healing, recovering, moving on, because all we can see is the pain. But the value is there, and so is the healing, if we ask for it.

I say all of this with the utmost compassion. If this were my friend—and again, it isn’t—I would be reaching out to them in compassion. As it is, the person’s friends are doing so. But I say it earnestly as well. Turn to Jesus in the face of pain. He is a sure thing, and—more than that—the ultimate in realism. Because He is the most real thing you will ever meet—and He is there for you.

 

I’ve refrained from quoting scripture in this text, but the things I am saying have their basis in scripture. Some relevant references are below. Also I have included links to the two songs I quoted. And, friends: If you read this, and realize that you’re a part of the situation I described, please know that I’m in no way trying to capitalize on it; it simply made me think. I hope these words will be of some encouragement.~FDM

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14:1-3

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 4:10

I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice. Ezekiel 34:15, 16

All verses are given in the English Standard Version (ESV).

Rich Mullins—The Maker of Noses

Rich Mullins—That Where I Am, There You…

Credit to Jim Croce for the title, which I’m borrowing here.

I did a strange thing today. I backed up the photos from my phone and deleted the originals. Oh, I hear you now: “What’s strange about that?” It’s strange for me, because I rarely do it, and it never seems to go quite the way I expect it to go. Even today, there were a few files that didn’t want to copy, so I definitely lost them; I had to interrupt the process at about 98 percent complete. At over eight hundred pictures, that means I lost about sixteen photos. I suppose that’s an acceptable rate, but still, I’ll never get those back, and I don’t even know which ones they were.

It got me to thinking about the phenomenon of taking pictures. Forget for a moment about professional portraits and magazine photos and so on; I’m talking about the family snapshots we all take. The selfies and the pet photos and the kids’ birthday parties and school events. I know you have hundreds of them close at hand, if you’re a smartphone user. The electronic revolution changed the way we take photos forever; they’re cheap and easy.

I can’t help thinking, though, that “cheap and easy” means “not worth much”. When I was a child, my mother kept—still keeps—a set of photo albums in a drawer in her bedroom, and periodically she would pull them out and reminisce. I can picture them right now; they didn’t match, but they were worn and broken in from use. From old, grainy black-and-white shots of my great-grandparents outside their homes, to pictures of my mom’s parents and my dad’s parents—she was the self-elected archivist for both sides of our family, as they grew up knowing each other in this small-town area—to odd-colored Polaroids of me and my brother and sister and our many cousins posed in front of 1970s and 1980s cars in our He-Man and Rainbow Brite clothes. It’s not so strange, I think, that my memories often are built around those pictures. I can remember the occasions on which some of them were taken. Maybe I don’t remember them accurately, I don’t know; it’s true that frequent rehearsal of memories has a way of turning them into legends, and smoothing over the details.

My own children won’t have that, at least not in the same way. They probably see thousands more pictures each year than I did; I snap the things all the time. They don’t remember them, though, because we snap them, and they disappear into the electronic void, and we never bring them up again. There are electronic albums, but you can’t hold those in your hand and turn the pages. It’s sad, in a way…I feel like, for one brief span of history, we were able to codify our memories in a way that had never been done before—and now, we’ve glanced down at that, sniffed, and thrown it over our collective shoulder.

Still, this is not an anti-technology post. I love having a smartphone, even though sometimes it’s smarter than me (and sometimes dumber!). There’s a benefit to knowing that I don’t have to pick and choose memories—with a little effort, I can probably locate something from every day of my life for the past several years. The instant sharing via Facebook is nice (and yes, other methods too, YouTube and Twitter and Instagram and on and on and on—I don’t use all of those, but a lot of you do). I miss the old ways, but not so much that I’m likely to revert to them; at this point, that would be an investment of time and money that I just can’t afford. Rather, I’m thinking instead about memories in general, and what they’re worth to me.

Every time I back up my photos and clear the phone—and I have to, it’s an iPhone, so no SD card capability, and it fills up quickly—I feel like I’m burning those old photo albums. It doesn’t make any sense to feel that way; I know the pictures are still accessible (I’m not talking about using iCloud, which can’t be easily cherry-picked for photos; I’m transferring them to flash drives). But I also know that once they’re off my phone, I probably won’t look at them again, until I have a compelling reason to. They’ll go into that electronic void I mentioned before. How often do you pull out old SD cards or flash drives, or even dig through the hard drive on your computer, or Dropbox, or Google Drive, or whatever you use? Not often, I’d guess. I think it’s a side effect of that cheapness I talked about earlier; we’re drowning in pictures. We can’t really have it both ways, I suppose.

Lately I’ve read a little about the problem of storage. In electronic terms, it means that the media we use to store our photos (and other things as well; I’m talking about photos, but this is true for all data) is subject to being ruined, much like the print photos themselves. There’s a big push to find methods of long-term storage that don’t degrade, because all that knowledge and information on the internet is subject to being lost. Servers crash. Files get corrupted. Storage media breaks down. It can go away, and bit by bit, it does. It’s true: no matter how hard you try, those memories will not last forever.

But the saddest part—and yet the most comforting, in a sense—is that it won’t matter forever. It won’t even matter for long. My memories are valuable to me because they’re mine. Some will be valuable to my kids because they know me, and they WANT to know me. Their children will remember their grandparents (hopefully!). But with every generation, less is retained. We just don’t have the capacity to bear everything about our ancestors and make our own lives as well. Think about it: How many of you know the names of your great-great-grandparents? And if you do, how much do you really know about them? Some of us might know things that far back, but it’s few of us. I certainly don’t. There’s going to come a time in my family, should I have descendants, that they won’t know me. I’ll be an unknown link in a chain back to creation. And that’s okay.

So, I try to live in such a way that I’m not worried if a photo gets lost. I want to remember these things for my kids, and their kids; but the most important thing I can give them is myself, not my photos. Because life isn’t just the past; it’s the future. We should remember the past, but we should do so in a way that helps us live for the present and the futures. It’s who we are, who we choose to be, that makes the difference. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but a life well lived…well, that’s worth countless pictures.

Well, everyone else has weighed in about the massacre in Orlando. I call myself a writer and a blogger, and therefore it’s incumbent on me to have opinions about things, so now that it’s been a day or two, I should put down what I think, too.

Before that, though: It’s really getting old having to say something in these situations. By which I mean, these situations are getting old. Maybe we could, I don’t know, have a barbecue or a pool party instead of a shooting some weekend. Anybody? No? Yeah, I was afraid of that.

Our response times are fantastic, guys. We are on point. Why, I managed to start hearing the accusations and name-calling and rage BEFORE I heard the actual news story this time! That’s impressive! Oh, did you think I meant police/fire/EMS response times? Nah, those folks do great work, but they’re only human. They can’t work miracles. Gossip, of course, is not subject to the laws of spacetime like those mere mortals. The TARDIS and a DeLorean couldn’t time travel like hate speech seems to.

Does anybody think that might be a problem? Hey, here’s an example: Let’s talk about 9/11! It’s the favorite hobby horse to drag out every time there’s a shooting, so let’s get on the bandwagon–but not for the reason you might think. You remember where you were when 9/11 happened, don’t you? Assuming you were alive back then. It was only fifteen years ago, but I’m assuming some self-appointed pundits are under that age. Anyway, of course you remember. It’s the Kennedy Assassination of our generation. I was in the car, taking my girlfriend to work, when I heard it on the radio; and then I watched the aftermath of the second impact in a Radio Shack in the mall. I’ve told this story a lot: how I knew how awful it must be, because Peter Jennings, that master of loquaciousness, was struck silent as he watched it from the window of ABC’s news studio. I thought to myself, if that man couldn’t find words to say, it must be horrible indeed.

We were all struck silent. No one knew what to say. But don’t worry, because we’ve overcome that now! We know what to say even before it gets started. And we shouldn’t. We ought to take a bit, sit in silence, and grieve together. We’d have so much more perspective when we do speak, if we would take some time and just…not. It’s like Job in the Bible: When he lost everything, violently, his friends came to comfort him, and though they still didn’t get everything right in what they said, they spent a week–a whole WEEK–just sitting in silence with him before they spoke. They knew at least part of the right response to horror, to tragedy.

Well, the cat’s out of the bag. We’ve neglected to sympathize in silence, and now we’re on to the rhetoric. Sigh. So, once again–and I’ve said all this before–here it is: The truth about what’s at issue here. Because the issues in this case seem to be the defining issues of our generation as a society: sexuality and Islam. So, here goes.

1. Islam as taught in the Koran DOES call for hate and war against Christianity, any other form of non-Muslim faith, secularism, and anything associated with those…BUT, not all Muslims follow that teaching, and in fact, most don’t. The hardliners, the radicals, they ARE a minority, but they happen to be in a position of power in a number of places.

2. Christianity DOES teach that homosexuality and any other form of sexuality except for the standard male-female heterosexual binary is wrong…BUT it’s not that those sins specifically send people to Hell; all sin does that, and we’re all guilty of some sin, hence the need for salvation…AND the Bible does not teach that Christians should HATE homosexuals–it teaches that we’re supposed to love everyone and seek their salvation, and yet acknowledge that they get to make their own decisions, while still not praising their sin…AND it also teaches that murder by individuals is NOT a punishment from God. He does not send one sin to judge another. It’s not their fault they were murdered, any more than it’s a woman’s fault she was raped. He does authorize governments to use death to punish sin in the form of crime; some governments choose to do so, some don’t; but individuals don’t have that right.

3. Gun control is not bad, and doesn’t seek to remove the right to own or use weapons completely, just to keep them out of the hands of people like this mass murderer, who REALLY shouldn’t have them. BUT it won’t fix this problem on its own; it will only help, not solve it.

The problem here–and you can see it in all three of those points–is one of extremes. Take Islam to an extreme, you get radical terrorists. Take Christianity to an extreme, you get hate speech. (And I have a separate word about that for you, my fellow believers, in just a minute, so stay tuned.) Take freedom of choice to the extreme, and you get all kinds of perversity. Take gun rights to the extreme, you get a refusal to ever even approach a problem. Take gun control to the extreme, you get a society with no means of defense in dangerous situations. In every area of life, we need balance. And that’s lacking here Which brings me back to my original point: Slow down. Before attacking anyone for the way this situation played out, stop. Spend some time just grieving for the dead and for the survivors. Be human first. Weep with those who weep. Then, and only then, you’ll have the perspective to deal with what’s going on behind the scenes.

(Christians: I can hear you now, saying that I’m suggesting compromise with the world. I assure you, that is not the case. I’m suggesting to you that your God is not one of imbalance, and you as His children should also not be unbalanced. He preaches both love and judgment. He is NOT a God of love in the sense that we often clichedly say it; he is a God of love, and holiness, and mercy, and righteousness, and grace, and justice. That should strike terror into your heart. Your God was just as ready to send YOU to hell before you accepted His gift of love and mercy. He offers the same thing to homosexuals and muslims and EVERYONE. Your job is to present the one true God to the world. ONE God. Complete in every way. So lest you say, “God is love, and would never judge someone for homosexuality”–no, you’re wrong. He would, He has, and He will. But also, lest you say, “You people are an affront to God and you’re going to hell”–No, you’re wrong. They were going to hell for being sinners, AS WERE YOU, and now that you found the way out of that, you should go love them and show them the way.)

Note:  Ordinarily I prefer not to link to or otherwise promote material from Huffington Post, due to their terrible practice of refusing to pay for contributions (described in many places, but see here for a good start).  I and other writers can write for free on our own sites and blogs anytime, and it’s ridiculous to think that a contributor to a very lucrative publication should not be paid for his or her work.  However,  given that the material is already out there for free viewing, I don’t feel particularly bad about giving some visibility to an author already published there (the difference between me saying that and HuffPo saying it being that I’m an individual blogger, while they are a multimillion-dollar company with the resources to pay their contributors).  Therefore I’m posting the article linked below today.  Credit to the author, not to the publishing platform.

 

 

Four years ago, and unexpectedly, I became a single parent by way of divorce.  I’ve talked a bit about it here and on my other blog, and I won’t go into the details again.  Something I never really expected, though, was the reaction I would get almost universally from people around me.  I expected some reproach–after all, I initiated the divorce–and I expected some opposition with regard to my having custody of the children.  That isn’t exactly what happened.

The author of the article below hits the point on the nose. In my case it’s a little more extreme, but it’s a similar thing.  It wasn’t me tooting my own horn toward my now-ex-wife like in this story, but it was other people constantly praising me for the things I was doing–working full time, raising the kids on my own (with some after-school babysitting from my parents and sister while I work–credit where it’s due), keeping the house up by myself, etc. etc. etc. It was always awkward to hear that kind of praise, though I know people meant well. But I always thought to myself, “these are the things I’m SUPPOSED to do,” and “if she had died instead of divorced, this would just be what is expected of me, so this is no different”.

I suppose what I’m getting at is this: a little encouragement to parents–single or not–goes a long way, but it creates a bad situation when our egos get pumped up over normal things we do. It’s hard for anyone not in that situation to understand this–I probably sound ungrateful when I say these things to some people –but the truth is, I’m no hero for caring for my family. I’m just a parent. I want to see my children live and grow up and be the people they should be, and that’s what I’m working for, but accolades just change the focus and put it on me, not on getting the job done.

For more insight, check out this article below, “Just Because I Get Up in the Night Doesn’t Mean I Deserve Praise“, by Clint Edwards (and check out his blog at No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog).

 

I was chatting with my wife about the long night we’d had getting up with the baby, when I said, “At least I get up with her. A lot of men don’t. You should be grateful.”

I was tired. And I said it like she was really lucky to have me. Like I was going above and beyond as a father.  (Continue Reading)

Reading the news this morning, I ran across an article that caught my eye. It concerns events in Jerusalem at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the ostensible site of Christ’s tomb.  (Traditionally there’s some debate about whether that is the correct site, but that’s irrelevant for this post.)  This is a site that is venerated by three different branches of Christianity–the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches–who all maintain a constant presence there.  And it is falling apart.

Most places, that would be no big deal.  You strike a deal, you call a contractor, you fix things.  Jerusalem is not most places, and due to a curious (and stupid, if I may say so) twist of the law, fixing a location is essentially a declaration of ownership.  You can probably see the problem already.

None of those three groups will allow any other to claim ownership of the site ahead of them, and therefore nothing gets done.  This is a site that exists in layers that collectively date back well over a thousand years, and it has sustained a lot of damage in that time.  It’s on the verge of collapsing, to the point that the Israeli police stepped in last year and temporarily evacuated the site.  The implication was that the three groups should get their act together and fix the place, or risk losing access to it completely.  Of course, they can’t do that.

Seriously, people.  You name the name of Jesus, the very One you believe was once buried there.  You’re supposed to prefer each other before yourselves.  And yet, you are so fragmented that you’ve established tiny little domains all over the site, little forts that you guard against each other–the article mentions a Catholic ladder, an Armenian walkway.

But I didn’t come here today, for my first post in over a year, to tell these groups that they should just get along.  Certainly that’s a good message, but I want to get a little more fundamental than that.  I want to think about what I believe is the problem–or at least, one of the problems–underlying all this.

I believe our emphasis–I say “our” in a show of solidarity here, though I am not a member of any of those groups–our emphasis is in the wrong place.  We’re not alone in this; in fact, we’re in good company.  We stand with the earliest believers here.  We stand with the women who were the first to come to that very tomb after it opened.  We’re making the same mistake, even if it’s an understandable one:  We’re looking for the living among the dead.

And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”1

Have we been getting this wrong for centuries?  I think we have.  And really, we have no excuse–it’s not like we weren’t warned.

Look, I’m all for the preservation of history.  I like historical sites–I spent my honeymoon, years ago, visiting battlefields and cemeteries and museums.  I want these places to exist.  Further, I think there’s value in visiting them and standing where saints and great men and women of the past once stood.  But those things aren’t spiritual in themselves.  And yet, all too often, we believe they are.  Here’s a quote from the article:

“This is a very super experience of my spirit,” said Anil Macwan, 30, a lay Catholic preacher from India. “The world cannot give me the feeling I get from this tomb, this place. It is a very sacred place.”

People, it’s a tomb.  A grave.  An empty one at that.  It’s important for the witness it bears to the truth of what God’s Word tells us.  But–and this is it, this is the central truth–Jesus is not there.

He’s not there!

He lives!

I can’t help feeling that if we gave our devotion to the living savior, then maintaining the tomb would be no big deal.  It would fade into the background.  Because the thing that has our hearts, and our passion, is the One Who lives.  And that’s what He wants.  He’s the One Who told us this, too:

“…The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father...the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”2

I don’t expect this post will change the situation at large.  These groups have been at it for a long, long time.  Their animosity is institutionalized.  But if I can persuade one person, even one, to concentrate on the living Savior, I’ll have made my point.  And that’s enough.

He’s not there.  He’s alive.  Don’t seek the living among the dead.  Look to Jesus instead.

living among the dead

 

1     Luke 24:5

2     John 4:21, 23

I rarely repost items from other blogs or sites.  It’s something I only do when the piece in question resonates with me–when it makes a point that I would love to make myself, but makes it much better than I could do.  This is one such piece.

This story (as much as I can call it a story–it’s more than that) was originally posted in Reddit’s /r/TwoXChromosomes subreddit, a community for discussion by women of women’s issues, and one of the site’s default communities.  Reddit being an anonymous forum, the contributor went by the username MissFranJanSan; and that is as far as I am able to go with attribution, although I absolutely want to give credit where it is due.  Although the post remains, the text has since been removed, as have the vast majority of the comments.  No explanation for the removal was given; however, as that subreddit is intended as a safe space for women, and therefore attracts many users who have been in abusive or otherwise dangerous relationships, it tends to be a bit unfriendly toward men.  Possibly this post is not in keeping with those unofficial trends, and I suspect that controversy as a result may have been the cause for the removal.  With all that said, I have nothing against that community or its users, and I am only glad that this text has been preserved elsewhere.

The point I want to make, in reposting this, is not at all about correcting one gender or another.  Although the contributor is a woman, and working from that perspective, I would never suggest that men don’t have corresponding issues to resolve.  Certainly we do–but, one issue at a time, and this one is the topic of today’s post.  There will be other days, and other posts.  My goal, rather, is to impress on us all that both men and women are to love their spouses, build them up, and promote each other’s wellbeing, because we are, in fact, created for each other.  We’re a team, people–each and every couple among us.  Why would we even be together if all we want to do is break the other person down?  That’s both malicious and evil.  We’re partners, and it behooves us to live like it.

Happy reading!

 

My “Aha Moment” happened because of a package of hamburger meat. I asked my husband to stop by the store to pick up a few things for dinner, and when he got home, he plopped the bag on the counter. I started pulling things out of the bag, and realized he’d gotten the 70/30 hamburger meat – which means it’s 70% lean and 30% fat.

I asked, “What’s this?”

“Hamburger meat,” he replied, slightly confused.

“You didn’t get the right kind,” I said.

“I didn’t?” He replied with his brow furrowed. ” Was there some other brand you wanted or something?”

“No. You’re missing the point, ” I said. “You got the 70/30. I always get at least the 80/20.”

He laughed. “Oh. That’s all? I thought I’d really messed up or something.”

That’s how it started. I launched into him. I berated him for not being smarter. Why would he not get the more healthy option? Did he even read the labels? Why can’t I trust him? Do I need to spell out every little thing for him in minute detail so he gets it right? Also, and the thing I was probably most offended by, why wasn’t he more observant? How could he not have noticed over the years what I always get? Does he not pay attention to anything I do?

As he sat there, bearing the brunt of my righteous indignation and muttering responses like, “I never noticed,” “I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” and “I’ll get it right next time,” I saw his face gradually take on an expression that I’d seen on him a lot in recent years. It was a combination of resignation and demoralization. He looked eerily like our son does when he gets chastised. That’s when it hit me. “Why am I doing this? I’m not his mom.”

I suddenly felt terrible. And embarrassed for myself. He was right. It really wasn’t anything to get bent out of shape over. And there I was doing just that. Over a silly package of hamburger meat that he dutifully picked up from the grocery store just like I asked. If I had specific requirements, I should have been clearer. I didn’t know how to gracefully extract myself from the conversation without coming across like I have some kind of split personality, so I just mumbled something like, “Yeah. I guess we’ll make do with this. I’m going to start dinner.”

He seemed relieved it was over and he left the kitchen.

And then I sat there and thought long and hard about what I’d just done. And what I’d been doing to him for years, probably. The “hamburger meat moment,” as I’ve come to call it, certainly wasn’t the first time I scolded him for not doing something the way I thought it should be done. He was always putting something away in the wrong place. Or leaving something out. Or neglecting to do something altogether. And I was always right there to point it out to him.

Why do I do that? How does it benefit me to constantly belittle my husband? The man that I’ve taken as my partner in life. The father of my children. The guy I want to have by my side as I grow old. Why do I do what women are so often accused of, and try to change the way he does every little thing? Do I feel like I’m accomplishing something? Clearly not if I feel I have to keep doing it. Why do I think it’s reasonable to expect him to remember everything I want and do it just that way? The instances in which he does something differently, does it mean he’s wrong? When did “my way” become “the only way?” When did it become okay to constantly correct him and lecture him and point out every little thing I didn’t like as if he were making some kind of mistake?

And how does it benefit him? Does it make him think, “Wow! I’m sure glad she was there to set me straight?” I highly doubt it. He probably feels like I’m harping on him for no reason whatsoever. And it I’m pretty sure it makes him think his best approach in regards to me is to either stop doing things around the house, or avoid me altogether.

Two cases in point. #1. I recently found a shard of glass on the kitchen floor. I asked him what happened. He said he broke a glass the night before. When I asked why he didn’t tell me, he said, “I just cleaned it up and threw it away because I didn’t want you to have a conniption fit over it.” #2. I was taking out the trash and found a pair of blue tube socks in the bin outside. I asked him what happened and why he’d thrown them away. He said, “They accidentally got in the wash with my jeans. Every time I put in laundry, you feel the need to remind me not to mix colors and whites. I didn’t want you to see them and reinforce your obvious belief that I don’t know how to wash clothes after 35 years.”

So it got to the point where he felt it was a better idea — or just plain easier — to cover things up than admit he made a human error. What kind of environment have I created where he feels he’s not allowed to make mistakes?

And let’s look at these “offenses”: A broken glass. A pair of blue tube socks. Both common mistakes that anyone could have made. But he was right. Regarding the glass, I not only pointed out his clumsiness for breaking it, but also due to the shard I found, his sad attempt at cleaning it up. As for the socks, even though he’d clearly stated it was an accident, I gave him a verbal lesson about making sure he pays more attention when he’s sorting clothes. Whenever any issues like this arise, he’ll sit there and take it for a little bit, but always responds in the end with something like, “I guess it just doesn’t matter that much to me.”

I know now that what he means is, “this thing that has you so upset is a small detail, or a matter of opinion, or a preference, and I don’t see why you’re making it such a big deal.” But from my end I came to interpret it over time that he didn’t care about my happiness or trying to do things the way I think they should be done. I came to view it like “this guy just doesn’t get it.” I am clearly the brains of this operation.

I started thinking about what I’d observed with my friends’ relationships, and things my girlfriends would complain about regarding their husbands, and I realized that I wasn’t alone. Somehow, too many women have fallen into the belief that Wife Always Knows Best. There’s even a phrase to reinforce it: “Happy wife, happy life.” That doesn’t leave a lot of room for his opinions, does it?

It’s an easy stereotype to buy into. Look at the media. Movies, TV, advertisements – they’re all filled with images of hapless husbands and clever wives. He can’t cook. He can’t take care of the kids. If you send him out to get three things, he’ll come back with two — and they’ll both be wrong. We see it again and again.

What this constant nagging and harping does is send a message to our husbands that says “we don’t respect you. We don’t think you’re smart enough to do things right. We expect you to mess up. And when you do, you’ll be called out on it swiftly and without reservation.” Given this kind of negative reinforcement over time, he feels like nothing he can do is right (in your eyes). If he’s confident with himself and who he is, he’ll come to resent you. If he’s at all unsure about himself, he’ll start to believe you, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Neither one is a desirable, beneficial outcome to you, him or the marriage.

Did my husband do the same to me? Just as I’m sure there are untold numbers of women who don’t ever do this kind of thing to their husbands, I’m sure there are men who do it to their wives too. But I don’t think of it as a typical male characteristic. As I sat and thought about it, I realized my husband didn’t display the same behavior toward me. I even thought about some of the times I really did make mistakes. The time I backed into the gate and scratched the car? He never said a word about it. The time I was making dinner, got distracted by a call from my mom, and burned it to cinders? He just said, “We can just order a pizza.” The time I tried to put the new patio furniture together and left his good tools out in the rain? “Accidents happen,” was his only response.

I shuddered to think what I would have said had the shoe been on the other foot and he’d made those mistakes.

So is he just a better person than me? Why doesn’t he bite my head off when I don’t do things the way he likes? I’d be a fool to think it doesn’t happen. And yet I don’t remember him ever calling me out on it. It doesn’t seem he’s as intent as changing the way I do things. But why?

Maybe I should take what’s he always said at face value. The fact that these little things “really don’t matter that much to him” is not a sign that he’s lazy, or that he’s incapable of learning, or that he just doesn’t give a damn about what I want. Maybe to him, the small details are not that important in his mind — and justifiably so. They’re not the kinds of things to start fights over. They’re not the kinds of things he needs to change about me. It certainly doesn’t make him dumb or inept. He’s just not as concerned with some of the minutia as I am. And it’s why he doesn’t freak out when he’s on the other side of the fence.

The bottom line in all this is that I chose this man as my partner. He’s not my servant. He’s not my employee. He’s not my child. I didn’t think he was stupid when I married him – otherwise I wouldn’t have. He doesn’t need to be reprimanded by me because I don’t like the way he does some things.

When I got to that point mentally, it then made me start thinking about all the good things about him. He’s intelligent. He’s a good person. He’s devoted. He’s awesome with the kids. And he does always help around the house. (Just not always to my liking!) Even more, not only does he refrain from giving me grief when I make mistakes or do things differently than him, he’s always been very agreeable to my way of doing things. And for the most part, if he notices I prefer to do something a certain way, he tries to remember it in the future. Instead of focusing on those wonderful things, I just harped on the negative. And again, I know I’m not alone in this.

If we keep attempting to make our husbands feel small, or foolish, or inept because they occasionally mess up (and I use that term to also mean “do things differently than us”), then eventually they’re going to stop trying to do things. Or worse yet, they’ll actually come to believe those labels are true.

In my case it’s my husband of 12+ years I’m talking about. The same man who thanklessly changed my car tire in the rain. The guy who taught our kids to ride bikes. The person who stayed with me at the hospital all night when my mom was sick. The man who has always worked hard to make a decent living and support his family.

He knows how to change the oil in the car. He can re-install my computer’s operating system. He lifts things for me that are too heavy and opens stuck jar lids. He shovels the sidewalk. He can put up a ceiling fan. He fixes the toilet when it won’t stop running. I can’t (or don’t) do any of those things. And yet I give him grief about a dish out of place. He’s a good man who does a lot for me, and doesn’t deserve to be harassed over little things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

Since my revelation, I try to catch myself when I start to nag. I’m not always 100% consistent, but I know I’ve gotten a lot better. And I’ve seen that one little change make a big improvement in our relationship. Things seem more relaxed. We seem to be getting along better. It think we’re both starting to see each other more as trusted partners, not adversarial opponents at odds with each other in our day-to-day existence. I’ve even come to accept that sometimes his way of doing things may be better!

It takes two to make a partnership. No one is always right and no one is always wrong. And you’re not always going to see eye-to-eye on every little thing. It doesn’t make you smarter, or superior, or more right to point out every little thing he does that’s not to your liking. Ladies, remember, it’s just hamburger meat.

I am the proud father of a seven-year-old boy.  As I type this, sitting on my bed, Ethan is sitting at the foot of the bed, playing a Power Ranger video game while his older sister “copilots” (that is, gives instructions that he promptly ignores).  He’s a typical seven-year-old boy; loud, energetic, clever, short in the attention span department.  His health is pretty robust, unlike his sister, who catches everything.  He likes Power Rangers, Switch n’ Go Dinos, and the Teen Titans (or rather, the kiddie version, Teen Titans Go!).  He reads, but he’s a little embarrassed to be seen doing it.  He gets up early, would stay up late if I let him, and is wide open all day long.  He’s sensitive, too, and thoughtful, and kind when he’s not playing rough.  He never, ever meets a stranger.

Sometimes I wonder how he can be my child (though there is no doubt that he is).  We have a lot in common, but so much more, well, not.  Where he is wildly social, I’m introverted and naturally shy, though I’ve overcome it to some degree.  Where he is energetic, I don’t remember ever being that way; I’ve always been the type who reclines against the mountain instead of climbing it (though we both say “because it’s there!”).

Nevertheless, differences and all, I love him from the bottom of my heart.  When, last Tuesday, he came home from the Good News Club at his school with a signed tract saying he accepted Jesus as his savior, it was the highlight of my week!  Maybe he really understood and maybe he didn’t—I don’t know—but the simple fact that it’s on his mind and heart is huge to me.  I love the boy, and I only want the best for him.

Today I took the minions out for lunch.  Ethan has a habit of refusing to order anything at the time that the rest of us do; I’ve dealt with it in various ways, from ordering for him (usually pointless, as he’s stubborn enough not to eat) to letting him miss the meal completely.  This of course drives me crazy.  Today, he waited until my meal and Emma’s had arrived, THEN decided he wanted to have something after all; and since he was sick yesterday, and I didn’t want an argument, I decided to go with it.  He ordered pancakes and bacon, the same as his sister.

It wasn’t this argument over ordering that caught my attention today, though.  It was something much smaller.  When his food arrived, Emma excused herself to the restroom, and I had already finished my own meal; so I watched as he took the syrup and added it to his plate…all around the edges instead of on the pancakes.

Yes.  You read that right.  This little first-world-anarchist put his syrup AROUND his pancakes instead of ON them.  I can hear your teeth grinding, and it’s okay; mine did too.

My first instinct was to grab the syrup and yell, “Stop!  What are you doing?!”  I held back, though, and just watched.  And then it occurred to me:  My little Mini-Me…isn’t me.

Stop and think about that for a second.  My child is not me.  He’s not identical to me.  He’s his own person.  He doesn’t do things the way I do them.  He doesn’t talk the way I talk.  He doesn’t value the things I value (at least not the little things).  Parents, that is a hard pill to swallow!

It’s harder still, because we are SUPPOSED to shape our children.  We are SUPPOSED to craft their values.  It’s true that they can make their own decisions, but we are supposed to give them a stable foundation on which to do so.  So, shouldn’t they be like us, if we’re doing it right?

Not necessarily.  It’s true that we are supposed to teach our kids to love the Lord and be godly; but take a second and think about what that really looks like when it happens.  If the same God creates Christians the world over who look different, sound different, dress differently, listen to different musical styles, preach differently—I could go on—then why should we be surprised if our children differ, both from each other, and from us?

If I take my kids to Chick-fil-A (or McDonald’s, or any other fast-food place), something interesting happens.  I finish my meal, and my drink, and usually will refill the drink once.  Emma does the same.  I’m not saying we overdo it—this is still a reasonable amount—but we don’t throw anything away.  Ethan, on the other hand, will eat until he’s satisfied, and then toss the rest.  He’ll finish half a drink and then discard it.  He’s not being wasteful—the meal comes in a set size, and if he was preparing it himself he would only take what he will eat—but he’s looking at things differently.  While I’m looking at the monetary value of the food, he’s looking at his need for it.  Who is right?

Answer:  We both are.  He’s not wrong, and neither am I.  And that was very hard for me to grasp.

Someone asked me how I would react if my children want to play sports.  I am no sportsman myself; I hate most of them.  I answered and said that I would support them in it anyway.  Because my children are not me; they are their own people.  The fact that I don’t always see things their way, doesn’t make it any less valid.  Even as I teach them, it’s my job to be discerning and know where it’s okay for me to let them be their own person.  Because, after all, isn’t that the goal?  To make them into responsible, capable, believing adults, who—and this is the hard part—DON’T NEED ME.  Or, at least, not in the direct sense in which they need me now.  I WANT them to be their own people.

Yes, even if that means putting syrup around the pancakes.

It’s hard to be thankful.

Really it is. Of course, if you live in America today, or any modern country, then that statement is counterintuitive; we have so much to be thankful for! It’s like asking a fish if it is wet; it’s so surrounded with water, so unaccustomed to anything else, that it has no idea what you’re talking about (or anything else, because this is a fish we’re talking about, but I digress). We are so surrounded by things for which we should be thankful, that we just don’t even see them.

But being thankful is hard, because the things that go wrong, the dark places in our lives, take up so much attention. It becomes hard to keep our eyes on the myriad of small, good things when there’s one big, bad thing screaming for our attention. And it does, doesn’t it? It screams for our attention constantly, until everything else fades out.

Here’s the catch: Those are the times when we are meant to be most grateful. You see, gratitude is tied to another, much more subtle character trait: humility. And humility is built—you knew this was coming—through hard times. Through suffering. Through pain and weakness. It’s why we have so many clichés about growing when the rain falls.

I’ve been doing some suffering myself lately. I’ve mentioned it openly on here that I have Crohn’s Disease, and that for the past few months I’ve been fighting off a flareup. I want to say that I stayed strong the whole time, never became discouraged, never stopped being thankful…but that would be a lie. The trees got to be so big that I couldn’t see the forest. It was hard, one of the hardest things I’ve experienced—and of course it could, and probably will, happen again, because that’s the nature of the disease.

It was debilitating. I had no choice but to be humble in every sense of the word. But then I realized, that humility helped me see the things I still had to be thankful for.

I still had my family.

I still had my children, and I count them separately because without their help around the house, everything would have collapsed.

I still had my friends, without whom I would have given up completely.

I still had things to occupy my mind, even when my body wasn’t cooperating. (Shameless Plug for a Friend time: Cyndera’s novel, Rivers of the Mind, kept me going on a few long nights, and you should absolutely read it when it is published. Also follow her blog!)

More than that, all of my needs were met, and I had nothing to worry about except fighting the illness. So, by the end of the ordeal, I found myself counting my blessings over and over.

Easy? No. Good for the soul? Absolutely.

So, as you sit down for your own Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, remember that your hard times are signposts. Remember that there are people who love you, and without whom your life would not be the same. Remember that we have blessings we will never even see, let alone acknowledge. And remember that Thanksgiving is both a day and a state of mind…no, a state of heart.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

*This post was also published on my other blog at Timewalkerauthor.