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Monday, April 27, 2015

Tree Trimming

It's tree-trimming day! Now, I love trees. But as much as I love trees, so much more do I hate trimming them. I mean, trees grow just fine out in the wild, don't they? No problem! So why do we feel like we must "domesticate" the trees in our yards by trimming them?

Still, I have driven down roads with breath-taking scenery flooding my senses, and have given thought to just how much more beautiful that setting would be if those trees were cleaned up a bit. 

I recently moved into a home with quite a few trees in its yard. These trees were mature and beautiful. Ok, more than "mature," those trees were old. So old, in fact, that one of them came tumbling down in a huge thunderstorm we had last spring.  Once I was settled into my new home, I began looking around at things I wanted to do to update the home and make it "mine." In my search, I began to notice that most of my trees had dead branches that needed to be trimmed off. So began the process ...

The most immediate need was to cut branches off that hung dangerously low and close to my roof. The damage to my roof would have been more than I could afford. So, clip ... they were gone. Then I was able to begin trimming some smaller branches that, again, hung too close to the house. Other smaller trees had dead branches as well, and needed trimming. I was pleased with these efforts as my beautiful trees were looking even better!

The next spring, I began to notice something else: I began to notice (to my great surprise) that without all those dead branches, the trees in my yard were growing fuller and even more beautiful than they were before! It seemed like new life was beginning to happen! So this time, I began to snip off all of the little shoots that were now growing out of the main trunks and off the larger branches. The trees (or were they bushes before?) were now beginning to take on beautiful shapes. All those dead branches were gone, and the new life that was forming as a result was being gently guided in an upward direction, thereby reaching its maximum potential and beauty.

And of course, this got me to thinking: isn't that exactly what God does with us? He loves us enough to meet us right where we are. But He also loves us enough to not leave us there! He "trims" off the "dead" stuff ... negative and/or wrong thinking patterns, beliefs, behaviors, attitudes and ideas ... and "shapes" us into the beautiful person He created us to be, fully capable of reaching our "maximum potential" to accomplish the goals for which He created us.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Are You Ready?

I35 Bridge Collapse, 3/26/2015
     Some time ago, I began writing a book. Actually, I started on two books. Through a technical glitch, I lost what would have been about three-quarters of one of those books, and this sent me into a major writer's block. Since then, I have slowly been catching up and writing more on the other book I had started. I wish I had been more diligent in my efforts at the time, because what I was writing about back then is now happening right before our eyes! I was at the very place shown in this picture only one week ago!
     The following is an excerpt from the Forward of that book, which will be entitled "Duct Tape for Wobbly Knees." The topic is of utmost importance, so I hope that you will take the time to read it through and digest it's words and meaning. And so it goes ...

        Do you believe in eternity?  If so, where do you think you will spend it? Do you believe that Jesus is coming back for His bride … us, the church?  Do you believe that it will be soon? If you lay claim to being a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, doesn’t it bother you that some of your brothers and sisters in Christ are unsure of their eternal destination?  Doesn’t it trouble you that some will be “spewed out of God’s mouth” because they are “luke-warm?” The older I get, the stronger the urgency seems to be.
      One night I turned on the History Channel.  They had a program on called, “The Crumbling of America.”  This was a two-hour show about how weak the American infrastructure system has become.  The narrator explained that all great nations, the United States of America included, became so through and because of their magnificent and complex infrastructure systems.  He went on to say that the majority of the bridges in this country are, or soon will be, forty to fifty years old.  Most are deteriorating rapidly, and tragedy is imminent.  We have neglected maintenance, overlooked normal wear and tear, and ignored the fact that our bridges and road systems are carrying loads that they were never meant to carry.  What is beyond our immediate range of sight has been basically disregarded.  All this is causing our infrastructure to crumble … slowly, but ever so surely.  
As I watched this program, I began to think about the deterioration of our infrastructure system in terms of the deterioration of our spiritual lives and the corrosion of our values and morals. I know that things have been deteriorating ever since the Garden of Eden. But in my lifetime, once we eliminated prayer from school, everything seemed to go downhill from there.  When I was young, you got detention for chewing gum in school.  My second grade teacher once smacked me on the hand with a ruler for carrying a paper plate on my head.  Back then, the only thing to fear was the punishment that was meted out for misbehaving.  Now, school grounds are places for some very appalling, not to mention frightful, activities.  Some large-city schools actually have metal detectors at their entrances so that youth can no longer bring guns and knives inside!  Rapes and beatings in school lavatories are not unheard of any more. Hazing has actually become popular! Massacres have occurred on college campuses, movie theaters, elementary schools, and in other public places.          And why not?  What else can we expect?  What else should we expect?  Children see violence, sexual encounters, drugs, drunkenness, murders, and the use of obscene language right in their own living rooms on TV every day!  Some stations show these things explicitly and without boundaries, even during prime-time. Some children grow up with it in their neighborhoods, apartment houses, and even in their own dwelling! It’s “hard-wired” into the very fibers of their being from a very early age.  
Our country had more than just its great infrastructure system to make it powerful.  Before that system was developed, we had another great cornerstone to our foundation … our country was founded on Christian, Biblical principles.  Now we have taken prayer out of school, the Ten Commandments out of public buildings, Christ out of Christmas, and in recent years, public outcry has even been against putting up a nativity scene on your own private property!  We have spent great effort on trying to take “in God we trust” off our money, and Christian programs off the air waves.  Separation of church and state is now legal.  It’s a concept I just can’t wrap my mind around … how do you separate a part of who you are from another part
 Corruption and greed are evident in almost every walk of life, including Christianity.  Anger is obvious.  I don’t know whether it’s worse that “road rage” exists, or that it’s actually so predominant that we have a name for it! Abuse … sexual, physical, mental and emotional … is carried out routinely against children, women, and now even men.  Honor and respect for one another has faded into the background, or deteriorated altogether … along with truth.  Little white lies and vulgar language are commonplace.  Trust is not.  Hatred, jealousy, and revenge are three of the main motivating factors behind the rising crime rate.  Respect for authority is dwindling.  In our quest not to offend, we have gone to the opposite end of the spectrum and have gotten lethargic and lazy in our battle against evil and wrongdoing.
I could go on and on.  But having said even that much, why in the world do we wonder where God is when tragedy strikes?  How can we question His existence through and after horrendous, destructive weather patterns?  During wars and rumors of wars?  After all, it is we who have eliminated Him from all we hold dear in the first place!  Do we actually believe that we can remove Him from our lives, but then expect His mighty hand to protect us when tragedy is looming? Do we expect that He is a magic genie who will appear on command when we need Him, and remain in the shadows at all other times?  Are we actually embarrassed to say that we know Him?  The narrator on the History Channel program went on to say, “America’s roads are headed for a crash.”  How much more so are we, if we don’t get our values, morals, and especially our spiritual identities out of the gutter.
        A serious lack of accountability grew out of this confusion and untruth. It's about the Bible’s inerrancy … “I’ll believe what I believe, and you believe what you believe.”  Allowing such circumstantial freedom of belief has driven us so far away from seeking truth.  Its roots are in rebellion and pride, and that’s exactly what caused God to spew Satan out of Heaven. Freedom minus responsibility equals chaos!
     Similarly, the Christian community is lacking in structure and discipline.  I once asked someone why she doesn’t go to church.  She said it’s because she knows who those people are on Monday.  Many have made similar comments.  People … we are failing in our duties as Christians!  We have become lethargic.  We have become apathetic.  We speak mainly about God’s love … and I do thank Him for it.  But have we forgotten that God is also righteous? And just?  For the Christian, self has to be removed from the throne.  This will happen … with or without our help or consent.  God will have no other gods before Him, including self. 
      We need to wake up! God is a wonderful, magnificent, all-knowing, all-loving, almighty God.  There aren’t enough adjectives known to man to describe His goodness and love.  But this book is not about that.  It’s a come-to-life cry to those of us who carry Jesus’ name and His authority … Christians.  It’s a wake-up call for a sleeping giant … Christianity.  If we don’t come to realize, believe and accept just who Jesus really is, and all He has done for us, there will be some of us left behind! 

      Thus ends the excerpt from the Foreword of "Duct Tape for Wobbly Knees."  I hope it has given you food for thought, as well as a thirst to read what follows. You see from the picture posted in this article that what was written about is already happening. How much time do we have? Are you ready?
Those are my thoughts. What are yours?


Monday, January 5, 2015

Just For Today

At this time of year, many people are making New Year's resolutions. You also see many who are regretting that they never completed LAST YEAR'S resolutions. So, since God doesn't promise us tomorrow, why not try decluttering your life from anger, frustration, bitterness, and other negative, hurtful emotions that seem to build up so quickly into mountains that seem unconquerable. Here's how:

JUST FOR TODAY, block that frustration which comes from the little things, like annoying porn text messages, frustrating fb game requests, recorded phone sales pitches (in recent months I've gotten more than 50 of these calls just telling me I need a security system on my home. That's not counting the recorded calls I've received for sales pitches for other products. And it's not to mention those I get asking for my vote during political seasons!) Let go of that irritation you feel when somebody pulls in front of you to take that parking space that you've been waiting for, and on and on. JUST FOR TODAY, refuse to entertain those little things that you can do nothing about. Refuse to give place in your mind to those annoying little things that even reporting them to the authorities doesn't help. 

JUST FOR TODAY, take all the time and energy you spend on those annoyances that would threaten to ruin your day, and think about your priorities instead. What's important to you? What's the most important thing on your list to accomplish TODAY? Forget about the minor irritations. They're holding you back from accomplishing that one little thing that would turn out to be a life changer for you or for someone else. All this, JUST FOR TODAY. 

If you falter, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back to trying all over again. God doesn't promise us tomorrow, but you'll be amazed at how much extra time you'll have on your hands today, and what can happen in your life if those little annoyances are disregarded.

You want peace in the world? It begins with YOU! One day at a time.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Are Grieving and Depression Related?

Wherever books are sold
Absolutely! They are related, but not necessarily the same thing. I've seen many blogs and on-line articles lately about the difference between grief and depression, and I do recognize and understand that grief & depression can have a wide range of causes, symptoms and stages. Grief or depression can extend from an ordinary case of the "blahs," to life-impairing, life-threatening depressive episodes for which medication is necessary. Obviously, there's a difference between those two examples. However, grief is not solely caused by the death of a loved one, nor is "death" solely related to the physical cessation of life. There are as many causes for grief as there are people in the world and negative things for us to experience. Having been through the deaths of seventeen immediate family members and close friends, I found that the tragic events that were occurring in LIFE, were just as devastating. The symptoms and stages of grief and depression can be very similar, and the treatment can be the same as well.

In addition, with all the articles I read about the difference between grief & depression, if there is one ... how long should a person be "allowed" to grieve before it is considered a major depressive episode, etc ... not one article that I've seen addressed the Biblical view of grief. (See "The Biblical View of Grief & Depression" here in this blogspot for a description of how God sees grief.) We see many "descriptions" of how we "should" feel & behave after a traumatic event, via the entertainment industry. I believe we need something way more stable than the entertainment industry to help us make it through the aftereffects of a tragedy. We need God. And His Word.

Grief and depression are not easy maladies to work through. Although healing is possible, restoration may not be. If, for example, your loved one has passed on, or if a tornado or hurricane has destroyed your home and worldly possessions, the restoration of those people and things are not possible. But you CAN be healed. And it IS possible to grow from these situations, and even to have good come out of them. Nothing can change what has already occurred in the past. But the important thing to remember is that it's possible to remove the "sting" out of the past, so that it no longer has control over your future! Maybe even to the point that it then becomes a testimony!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

How Gullible Are You!?!

I just gotta say ... I can't believe how gullible we are!

Yesterday morning on Good Morning America, they did a story about a young man who had a desire to experience what he considered to be stardom, along with all its benefits. He wanted his 15 minutes of glory, just as he has seen well-known movie stars, singers and sports personalities receive.  Fame and fortune, only without the hard work and struggles to get there.

So, this young man set out to accomplish his goal. He first changed his appearance to look cool. He then got together with a group of his friends, and walked through Central Park in New York City. The young man, donned in his cool outfit, new hair-do, and sunglasses, and played the part of a well-known, popular star of some sort. His friends played the parts of bodyguards and news photographers.

Before long, a crowd began to gather, each wanting to see what all the hubbub was about. All it took was one question from the so-called news people, and it was all over. This was a star ... in their very own presence! The fake "news people" conducted "interviews" with the folks in the crowd, who "remembered" seeing this young man in what he (the on-looker being interviewed) thought was his first movie. "I thought he did a good job!" said the man being interviewed. Another remembered hearing the "singer/star's" song. "I liked it!"

As you can guess by the title of this blog, none of these supposed accomplishements by the star-wannabe ever actually happened! The kicker was that all this commotion created a buzz, and the guy actually ended up as a news headline on Good Morning America!

Are we that enthralled with stardom, that we can believe in even the fakes? Why is it that we can be so gullible  as to believe anything that comes down the pike? I can speak this story because I was one who was gullible ... naive ... as a child. I know the feeling of being taken in, and I know the pain of defeat, dissappointment and betrayal. I remember the moment when all that left me. I was a young woman at the time, in a crowd of my peers at a Tom Jones concert. The concert was held in a circular building, and Mr. Jones had to run down an aisle to get to the stage to perform. Before he did that, his bodyguards lined both sides of the aisle, linked arm-in-arm all along the way. I remember thinking, "How rediculous! These are not screaming teenagers ... these are men and women! What do they think will happen?" Well, I was in for a shock. These folks were just as wild, and just as dangerous, as any concert I've ever seen! Bras were being thrown into the aisle, and the bodyguards had all they could do to hold the crowd back!

Well, at least Tom Jones was a real star. Unlike the young man in GMA's news story, Mr. Jone's popularity was well-known and deserved. 

We believe. Yet we seem to have so much trouble believing truth! We fall for just about anything, but we question, discuss and even argue and fight over issues that are important. Especially about issues concerning spirituality.  "You believe what you want to believe, and I'll believe what I want to believe, and we'll tip-toe through the tulips together." All in the name of peace and acceptance.

Here's the thing: It doesn't matter what you believe, or what I believe. What matters, and what's important, is what GOD says! He is God. He's not going to adjust Himself for humanity. We are to "adjust ourselves" to His thoughts and His ways. Ok, running and screaming because a star (or a supposed "star") is in your midst is not going to get you into, or keep you out of, Heaven. But there are important issues and beliefs that will! We need to get back on track and know what GOD says about all that.