My Blog

Decisions and God’s Will

I wish I could say, at 70 years old, “Now I know how to live.” But that never happens. I keep trying new things when a way I’d chosen  doesn’t seem to get me where I want to go. Sometimes I get real and say, “I don’t know where I want to go.” or “I don’t know what I am supposed to do.” I don’t even know if there is a “supposed to.”

I heard a friend talking about this idea of “God’s will”. She is about 10 years behind me in age. She just finished 2 years of intensive education to qualify for specialized work in education. The study was so hard she often questioned whether this direction was God’s will for her. Even now, finally applying her new knowledge, she asks the question, “How do you know what God’s will when faced with a choice?”

I’ve grown weary of the question. I look back on my life with decisions and I think, “What if I’d chosen the other path?” The answer is simple to me: the place of arrival would be different. My path would have been different. Today, I would have a whole different set of friends. Would I appreciate them as I do the ones I have now? Would I be married? If so, to someone else? That would change the whole dynamic of my family. Would I be better educated, more worldly or the opposite? Are there opportunities that would have presented themselves that didn’t on the path I did choose?

(Sounds like “what if” and “the road not taken.”)

This I believe: Had I made a different choice that would have significantly altered the circumstances of my life. There would be something of me that would be the same as I am today. And there would be something else of me that would be different.

Back to my friend’s question. I think we expect the wrong thing of God when we expect him to make our decisions for us. I don’t think God cares much what job we take or education we pursue or where we live. Maybe, not even who we marry or how many kids we have. God creates us to be the special self, a unique presence in the world, no matter the choices we make. “Go into the classroom you’ve chosen,” God says. “Bring into it the shining light I have created you to be.”
“Go into that committed relationship and bring the your true self into it.” “Go into that job and be who you are as I have created you to be.” Because, YOU are the divine present in whatever spot in the world where you are standing.

That changes my mission. I see it now to become fully the person God created me to me to be. The decisions are mine to make. God suggests only that we make them lovingly.

From my journal, November  10, 2014.

On President Biden

Bernie and I listened to the president last night. I had posted on Facebook people should watch because it was their civic duty. I meant it, but the truth is, I didn’t watch the former president when he spoke to the American people. It had nothing to do with civic duty. I was protecting myself from what felt like abuse. I find it hard to sit in a room with anyone who gossips and berates others present or not or is basically trying to entertain people instead of being real. It is exhausting. If such a person is the president of the United States, I would rather listen to what others tell me he or she said later. Of course, this isn’t the same as having my own reaction, but it does protect my soul from being wounded.

I have always liked Joe Biden. He is a real person with compassion and lots of life experience in politics and who grew from his personal tragedies. People don’t need to agree with his policies, but at least appreciate the calmness and kindness that distinguishes him from the last president. In his message to the Nation, he refrained from blaming the opposing party for anything, even mentioned the good work of Republican leaders. Not a diminishing word!

I happen to agree with his priorities. I have to trust that those folks who know about how to manage  such huge amounts of money know what they are doing. There are just a few things I disagree with, but overall, I approve. But this blog isn’t about his policies. It is about the kindness, the peace, the love that I feel he has in his heart.

I remember when President Obama went to support the parents who lost their children killed at Sandyhook Elementary. He was brought to tears as he spoke. The response by those who were against him? “He is faking it.” They couldn’t accept the possibility that someone they hated so much could have even one good thought or emotion. This is black and white thinking. One is either all good or all bad. But this is not reality. None of is is all one or the other so we must know this is true of others as well.

I heard a commentator on TV yesterday say, “Biden is exactly what the country needs right now.” She wasn’t talking about his policies. She was talking about his healing demeanor. I agree with her. Let’s all take a breath, invite spring, look forward to reuniting with our loved ones, and appreciate the good things in life. Disagree with the President’s plans, write to your congress people, complain all you want. But follow the example of this good man. Don’t berate individuals for their beliefs. Listen to people. Speak only kind words.

You, along with our new leader, can help heal the nation.

Notebook

Writers often carry notebooks with them much like a visual artist might carry a sketchpad. I will often take notes during meetings which I sometimes have to explain to people. “I may repeat what you said, but no one will know who said it.”  It is my way of gleaning knowledge. People don’t know that they may have been quoted in my book coming from the lips of Jesus or Matthew or Mary Magdalene. Nice, thought? I hope so.

I keep a notebook in my purse, one by my reading place in the morning and one by my chair before the TV. Some of what I record are books I want to some day read or movies that sound interesting. I even recorded categories and answers from Wheel of Fortune. They came in handy when our family turned to zoom during Covid.

When a book gets filled up, I will go through it before tossing it to take out notes that I might still use and put these into a new notebook. That is what I did yesterday with one of these notebooks. As I went through it once again, I thought that some of the ideas I had were worth keeping so I thought I would share them here with you.

At a recovery meeting, someone commented on slips: “We start to depend on being able to come back until we can’t.”

“There is a committee in my head.”

“Your need is God’s Opportunity.”

“We want to be perfect so we don’t have to deal with the consequences such as humiliation, guilt, people not liking us, and harm to self and others.”

“Praying for someone I dislike is an act of humility – I admit that I don’t really know this person, but I trust God does because I believe in God’s love. I trust that there is something there to love.”

“If I am drawn to the black, I have to choose to move to right thinking until that becomes as automatic as the black thinking.”

“By avoiding someone I am giving that person power over me.”

“Of all the things I miss most in life, I miss my mind the most.”

“Capitalism is better when you mix in a little morality.”

“Sometimes discussions are more performative than informative.”

“Life is not fair, but government should be.” Anne Richards, governor of Texas.

“There is no community unless between equals.”

“The purpose of art is to describe hell and heaven as experienced in life.”

The first person to get the Covid 19 shot was Sandra Lindsey.

“Donald Trump is the Confederacy’s last stand.” Joy Reed.

“Just because you have a broken system does not mean that the everyone in it is broken. Stop defending bad cops. It is not a reflection on good ones.”

Thanks. Now I can toss that notebook in the trash.

 

What To Do About the Children

If an 8-year-old child showed up at your door, alone, what would you do? I know what I would do, I would ask her what she needs and if she said she was lost, I would invite her in, call the police and give her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

If three children, ages 7, 12, and 13 showed up, what would you do?

What if 11 children, ages 3 to 15 showed up?

And then what would you do if 63, children showed up, or 150?

And if the police said they couldn’t come because they were busy find places for the 78 kids they already picked up.

Would you scramble to get more peanut butter and jelly? Would you regret taking in the first child? Would you try to figure out why there were so many displaced children?

Children keep coming to our borders because we have a reputation for caring. Most of them have relatives in the United States but the numbers are overwhelming and we are in the midst of the covid crisis.

Rather than lock the door, we need to feed them, attend to their health needs, and find their families. We also need to discover where they came from and why they fled.

They are children, for God’s sake! Have a heart!

 

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Coming out the world of Covid feels strange, tentative like stepping out on early ice. I have received both of my shots and have gone to meetings where people either wear their masks or they don’t, but social distancing is observed. I continue to mask up shopping or going into any business. I know we have a way to go, but our family members are almost all vaccinated and we plan a late Holiday gathering in May.

I wish my mind was brighter and my mood more positive.  People have said that we have been through a long dark journey as a country, as a world, and coming out of it will take time. For many, it meant depression, a rise in addictive and violent behavior, fear and confusion. I think we are all desiring serenity and joy.

I belong to a community that has a saying : “Fake it ’til you make it.” I am going to try that today. I have several opportunities ahead when I can put on a smile,  wish someone a happy day and listen closely to whatever is being shared. I can thank God for the rain on behalf of the fauna and our feathered friends. I can sing to myself as I exercise and appreciate the tastes of the foods set before me. How do I feel npw? Not quite a perky as this all sounds, but if I fake it, what I do on the outside might sink in and become true on the inside.

Simply Thoughts About Love

Walking out to greet the sun this morning a song came to me that we used to sing in church…the 60’s and 70’s I believe. It was simple, a quote from the scriptures:

“God is love…and he who abides in love, abides in God…and God in him.”

I thought to myself, is there anyone out there that actually believes this? Then I thought about Paul’s beautiful piece on love as he wrote to the fellowship in Corinth:

“…if I have no love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned – but if I have no love, this does me no good.
Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud;
love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable;
love does not keep a record of wrongs;
love is not happy with evil, never gives up;
and its faith, hope, and patience never fail. “

I suspect love has never really been tried, Jesus being one exception. Mahatma Ghandi said that one person following the teachings of Jesus would change the world. I take issue with that. Jesus surely followed his own teachings and I am not sure how much impact that had on the world.

I don’t know where I am going with this. As I read Paul’s words, I think about my marriage, my family, my friendships, my neighborhood, my work. I think about the world about me, churches, the political world, the world itself. All I see is bits and pieces, an expression here or there. Someone helping a person on the street, someone visiting a shut in, someone listening deeply.

In the end, I am left with my own abiding, I have no control over anyone else. There is a veil. One cannot see the good that one does. One cannot know if a word spoken has been heard. But one can know that God is love and one can know when one’s own thoughts and actions speak something other than love. Abiding to me is paying attention. God is here now in this place and time.

Abide in love so deeply that you carry it with you always.

Poetry in Four Episodes

I am itching to get back into the habit of blogging. When I first started, I committed to daily writing. I can blame my book, of course, since that was about all I could handle for a good while. But now she is published and I have failed to pick up the old commitment. Yesterday began the Easter Season. The Lord has risen and so must I.

In October of 2017, I wrote in my journal of a number of mini-spiritual awakenings. I had just come off of a recovery retreat which I myself hosted. I had also signed a contract with a publisher and the work to do the final editing on my book was before me. Here are the entries in my journal, poetry in four episodes:

October 1
Connecting – we are One – all is One – all is Now – I am Here – I walk and my Here changes but Here is where God is. Here – so close – Herein. I Am.

October 19
I feel a glow – I thought it as a break in the clouds, or my opening up to this higher place. Like bobbing my head above after swimming under the lily pads for so long. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale.

October 27 
My soul is healing from the last two years of darkness. I am beginning to experience slip-slides. Moments when it seems the planets are aligned or I am sliding on black ice…it is time!!! All is well – wood is in – a fire is burning.

October 30
This is how I operate – I water the flowers and ignore the weeds.