Sunday, October 28, 2007

Indecision 2008

Please grant me this post--I promise it will be my ONLY politically motivated post of the "season".

Is anyone else having a difficult time deciding who to vote for this next election? I am in a HUGE quandary. Many of my liberal friends call me a closet liberal, although I am a registered Republican. I often find that my ideals as a teacher conflict with my conservative views. If someone were to ask, I would consider myself an independent, but I like to vote in the primaries; so Republican I am. Today, a good friend sent me the following link:

Select the Candidate Quiz

I encourage everyone to complete it before reading on…..

I am not going to reveal who the quiz decided I should vote for. I am just rebellious enough to confess the candidate selected for me doesn’t have a prayer, but… this quiz ignited quite the discussion in my household tonight. First, I took the quiz and revealed my candidate. Then, Kent took the test and revealed his candidate. Finally, Chandler, my 11-year-old came up from playing downstairs and asked if he could take the test. For the next 30 minutes or so, we discussed abortion, taxes, death penalty, gay marriages and immigration. I don’t think I have ever discussed these topics with my son beyond the casual blurb here and there. It was interesting to read the questions with him, discuss what they meant, and then allow him to make the decision for himself. It was enlightening to have such deep discussions with one so young. Though I could easily have swayed his vote, I tried to be as “fair-minded” as possible and give him the information without the editorial—though I will admit on certain issues I expounded far more than necessary.

What makes up our moral compass when it comes to those we elect into office? As I watched my 11-year-old, I could see he answered from the “gut”. He has no experience with taxes or immigration and was simply concerned with the “people”—until we got to absolutes like the death penalty and abortion. On those issues he tended, like many folks, to be inconsistent with his decision. Someday someone will explain to me the “consistency” of being pro-life and pro-death penalty (when does life cease to have potential-but I will save that for another day).

Seems our political climate can be summed up in the following topics: the war, immigration, taxes, stem-cell research, health care, abortion, social security, line-item veto, energy, marriage and the death penalty. This list seems too small to encompass the values of an entire country. I wonder how many people truly understand the “issues”. I suspect many vote instead for the charismatic or the “popular”. I am more challenged than ever to explore where I stand on these questions. I need to ask myself more relevant questions such as what effects Presidential decisions will have on my life as well as upon the lives of the American community. I am energized to deliberately become more informed and to choose a Presidential candidate based on, not only my “gut” (or an on-line survey) but rational examination and discourse.

This I know for sure…

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

I find it interesting that whenever I am facing life situations, God finds a way to speak to me. Oh, I have never audibly heard the voice of God (though I think that would be so cool), but He does speak to me through His Word, other Christians, or any other means, which might get my attention. Frequently he speaks with a soft whisper as to direct or redirect my path, but at other times he practically yells in my ear so that I don’t “crash and burn”. Today was one of the latter days.

In my younger years, I was not afraid of confrontation (if needed), or conflict. In fact, if I felt strongly about something or felt an ideal was being defaced I could swing into action without much consideration for the outcome. As a result, I found myself in many uncomfortable situations causing a fair amount of uneasiness. I fought many “battles” and unearthed more than my share of “hills to die on”. As I have “matured” (I hope no one just choked), one skill I have consciously tried to improve is that of discernment. As a result, I don’t choose to die on every hill and my battles are fewer and further between, but unfortunately these strides have not been enough to create in me the heart of a peacemaker.

Some folks are natural peacemakers. Life is always so calm around them. No matter what conflict arises, they can find a way to create a sense of peace in those involved, even through “battle”. They see beyond the discord and can get to the root of the conflict to find resolution. Their recompense is that conflict doesn’t invade their life as much. How do they do that?

Lately, in various avenues of my life, several of my core ideals have been challenged thus causing a tremendous amount of internal conflict. Some of these challenges have to do with work, some with the church, and some with businesses. I have sat down at my computer and written more than a few emails to address each of these potential “battles”, only to trash them before sending. I have dialed numbers, and even talked out the situations with friends, only to—do nothing. When I did finally decide to stage “battle” and “choose a hill to die on”, there was no resolution, no satisfaction, no solution and definitely no peace. This wasn’t because I didn’t face the problem in a noble manner, but because when things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to I chose continued conflict over peaceful resolution.

Today’s Purpose Driven Devotional was about peacemaking – this is the God screaming in my ear part.
“No matter where you go, you are a peacemaker – showing others how to make peace with God. As a peacemaker, you also begin the process of peace between you and those who stand against you (going as far as you possibly can under God’s leadership). And you help others make peace with each other.”
Peace truly isn’t found in the absence of conflict, but in the reconciliation of it. Peace isn’t accomplished by allowing others to walk all over you or in minimizing important issues which need to be addressed. Peace is found when you truly care about resolution more than conflict and when you place your energy in a loving manner behind finding solutions over remaining in conflict.

So what does this mean to me today?
• Stop complaining – if I am not committed to resolution, then I should keep my mouth shut
• Start seeking ways to thoughtfully analyze the conflict with resolution in mind
• Start seeing the “battle” from the eye of others involved
• Choose battles that are worthy my fight—let others go knowing either someone else will take them on or they aren’t worth the effort.
• Decide if my action or inaction with affect my life one way or another in the next three years, if not, LET IT GO (this one should save much heartache).
• Realize that all the above actions impact my life as well as those of my children, meaning everything is not thrown out simply because it happens to my kids (mamma bear needs to stay in the den sometimes)

This I know for sure...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Earring Incident

I wrote a real blog today, but forgot to forward it to my home email. When I arrived home, I decided to sit down and send an imperative email to a colleague, who I admire, concerning a misunderstanding. Anyway, as I hit the send button I reached up to take off my earrings. I thought they felt odd and a bit out of proportion. As I looked in my hands, I started to giggle; I had worn two different earrings all day. Now, that wouldn’t be a big deal except that apart from their shape they couldn’t be more different. One is TWICE the size of the other. One is laced with sparkley, diamondy stones the other very plain. How cold NO ONE notice all day?????? Not even me…. Guess my accessories aren't as important as the one on the girl in the painting.

This I know for sure...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Crazy, Sexy Grief

I watched Oprah today. Didn’t know if I could or would considering the topic, but I did anyway. The first story was about a young woman, Kris Car, with stage-four cancer and her documentary Crazy Sexy Cancer. The second story centered on a young professor with terminal pancreatic cancer.

As I listened to each and their amazing outlook, I couldn’t help but connect it to my own journey (yes, Marc it is all about me). Anyway, Ms Car mentioned that “Cancer is my guru, my teacher”. WOW! how powerful. I can say the same for grief—grief has been my guru, my teacher the past two years. I have learned that any life-state one chooses to remain in, whether grief, seclusion, bitterness, or abuse will eventually terminate ones ability to truly live.

I watched these two incredible people—I cried and I laughed, but what I found myself doing most is evaluating my life. Kris explained that “Life is a terminal condition”, “we are all going to die, but how many of us truly live?” I want to truly live. Not a meaningless existence, but a profound one—not a cautious survival, but a courageous continuation. Superficially, the show inspired me to run out to the nearest Walmart and purchase a juicer then, faster than the speed of light, sign up for yoga at the YMCA, but realistically—I am inspired to take stock. Even considering everything I have learned thus far on my journey, there is so much more yet to learn. I want to be able to embrace my CRAZY, SEXY, GRIEF.

This I know for sure

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Why Did I Get Married?

A friend and I went to this new Tyler Perry movie last night. It is a story centering around four couples and their annual vacation together where they explore the question “Why did I get married?” If you want more details, you can read a synopsis:
Why Did I Get Married?
Anyway, it was a great movie-no language or sex, just pure movie fun—with a tremendous message. It made me realize what an excellent marriage I had. I also recognized that creating a strong marriage was, at times, hard work. Watching these couples struggle through insignificant to major problems reminded me how completely I was loved and was then able to love in return.

I got married when I as 19 years old, by one week. My parents wouldn’t allow me to marry at 18, so I waited a week after my 19th birthday to honor their wishes. What did I know when I was 18? How did I know that this man, seemingly so very different from me, was “the one”? Chances are, I didn’t really know; but, he was---“the one”. When Don and I got married, we registered for china and stoneware. One of the options, apart from traditional place settings, was to purchase a "completer set" which included serving pieces and various other miscellaneous dishes. Don used to get a big grin on his face and say that we must be each other's "completer set". How true that was.

Why did I get married? I don't know the exact answer to that question. I was in love, that's for sure. I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this person, but doesn't everyone? One reason I was so sure may have been because I knew how fulfilling marriage could be. My parents had shown that marriage was something to cherish.

Fortunately, I had an exceptional example of successful marriage from my parents. Mom and Dad weren’t afraid to argue in front of us (notice I didn’t say fight), they also weren’t afraid to apologize and make-up in front of us. I remember fondly the many times they were affectionate (and still are) and observed as they worked through very difficult times together. I hope my children remember that from my marriage. I hope they see that marriage is the most rewarding and fulfilling union one can experience and that along with great effort, comes immense joy.

I wouldn’t give up my 24 years of marriage for anything in the whole world. I don’t regret, and never have, getting married so young. Looking back, I am grateful for every year—every heartache---every moment of joy. So what does all of this mean to me today?

I liked being married, and I was good at it (I know my widow friends are getting tired of hearing that). I don’t mind confessing this out loud. I have the hope that I can experience the fulfillment of that sort of union again. At my age, I explore the idea of remarriage with open eyes. I don’t have a romanticized view of marriage, nor a stringent practical one. I am not looking for a prince on a white horse to ride in to sweep me off my feet. I don't need that at this point in my life (ok--so I never really needed that to begin with). What I am looking forward to is sharing life with someone—a companion—a friend and a lover.

This I know for sure.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Organized? Me?

I have decided to organize my life. I have lived in various stages of disorganization for far too long, it is time for action. As Dr. Phil says, “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge” so concede I will---

Hello, my name is Marsha, and I am disorganized. On the surface my house looks fine. You could stop by my house and I would let you in the door. It is put together, relatively clean, vacuumed, dusted etc… - - BUT don’t open ANY cabinet or closet doors. I have created a 12-step program to address my weakness (I am, in NO way, poking fun at the 12-step program, which has helped many people overcome addictions. It is simply being used as a vehicle to make my point). Feel free to join me, if need be.

1. I admit I am powerless over hidden clutter - that my life has become somewhat unmanageable.

2. I have come to believe that a power (or cleaning specialist) greater than myself (or at least equal to) could restore me to sanity but isn’t likely to happen quickly enough.

3. I have made a decision to turn my will and my clutter over to the care of organization professionals, as I know them (which I don’t—know any that is).

4. Make a searching and fearless inventory of my organizationally challenged behavior and myself.

5. Admit to God, to myself and to other human beings the exact nature of my clutter.

6. Am entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character (oh and there are a few not listed that I could get rid of also).

7. Humbly asked Him to remove my shortcomings and to send help soon (I feel so much better now). Does God do this kind of work?

8. Make a list of all persons who should be doing their part in the household, and become willing to make them accountable.

9. Make direct expectations to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others (like the wrath of mom wouldn’t be scary enough).

10. Continue to take personal inventory and when I am considering saving something, or stashing something admit it (may not put it where it goes, but I will admit it didn’t belong there).

11. Seek, through thought and constant reading, to improve my conscious contact with organizational gurus as I understood them, praying only for a measure of their knowledge and the power to carry it out.

12. Having had an organizational awakening as the result of these steps, I try to carry this message to the unorganized and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! The first meeting of Disorganized Anonymous will meet at my house this weekend. Please bring cleaning supplies, organizational materials and enough caffeine to keep everyone moving. We can tackle my house first (brilliant idea).

This I know for sure…. (I wonder how many I should plan for?)

Monday, October 08, 2007

My Banner is Clear

I have thought about life and death more in the past two years than probably anyone should. I even find myself imagining what I want engraved on my cemetery marker. I know that might sound morbid, but it really isn’t. It is simply reflective.

After much consideration I now know what I hope to have inscribed: “Her Banner Was Clear”, fashioned after the following inspirational note found in the office of a young African pastor who was martyred for his faith. If this quotation is to be mine at the end of my life—I have a lot of spiritual work to do. I better get busy. There are certain parts of the writing I find especially significant in my life. I have noted them in bold print.

My Banner is Clear
I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power, my die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I'm a disciple of Jesus. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and labor by power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, and my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, preached up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me-my banner will be clear.

This I KNOW for sure…

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Expectations and Reality

What is our responsibility to others? What happens when our expectations of others NEVER matches the reality of the situation? When do we excuse others insensitive behavior simply because “that’s the way they are wired”? Personally, I am tired of making concession, but of course I will continue to do so—why??? Because in return, I hope they are making concessions for my own inadequacies.
Plain and simple…
Short and (bitter)sweet…

This I know for sure…