Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Battlefield

Its a battlefield out there, and we're on the front lines. For most of us, not literally...bullets whizzing by, ieds hidden, waiting for the slightest touch. No, the battlefield I'm talking about is the one in our own backyards. The one that Christians find themselves in every day.

Its not enough that we are lambasted and bombarded by those who believe we are archaic in our thinking. Too narrow to believe that anyone should live their lives as they desire. So bent on following an "ancient book of rules, written by women haters and violent men," that we can't see that the world has evolved, but the unseen, the demons, are rubbing their gnarled hands in great delight. When we give in to the mindset of the world, its another victory for evil to advance. When we turn our eyes away from something that we know is wrong, without stepping up or at least addressing it, maniacal laughter erupts from those who are ready to disrupt or destroy our testimony.

That's a pretty rough battlefield, you say. Yeah, but there's another battlefield that we wander in, that's as dangerous or if possible, more so. The thing is, its not really considered a battlefield in some cases...its what we call our day to day lives.

Too often we keep to ourselves and don't allow others to know our hurt...our shame...our guilt. I am horribly guilty of that and working on it, with Jesus' help. But I'm sorely behind and am struggling to break out, so to speak. There are those, however, who don't ask for anything for themselves, but will ask for others. They believe they are working through the issues with God's help, and in a sense, they are. But God didn't put fellow Believers in your life to sit by in Church, to stand by while serving the homeless or to stand with during worship. Each one of those people have a story. They've had trials, troubles...they've had experiences that, while they might be unique to them, have a purpose. That purpose might be you.

There are people who have gone through tumultuous times in their marriages, some even to the point of divorce. There are those who have been through abusive relationships and have come out victorious, and some who have not. Those who have lost a parent, a sibling, a grandparent or worse, a child. When they believed that they couldn't go another step, by God's grace, they did. Some may, after many years, still be grieving, and some may have an empty place in their hearts, but God has used the time that has passed to heal them. There are those who have been wronged, who have done wrong...some who have been addicts or have a loved one who is an addict. A brother, sister, parent or other loved one has removed themselves from a family's life...a parent has abandoned their family...a child is born with special needs...so many instances where a Brother or Sister in Christ has had an experience and has, by God's grace, moved forward. Not forgetting what they have experienced, by no means, but has retained the memory if for nothing else but to help someone who may need them in the future. But the help cannot come unless it is voiced. I'm not advocating that you broadcast on social media every issue you have, but instead, take it to God in prayer, whether in your prayer closet or with a prayer partner, and God will hear your prayers, but don't be shocked when the answer is "no," or "wait."

God did not build the Family around you for you to sit off to yourself, never showing vulnerability. He gave you His Family so that you would have someone to share your burdens, your fears, your hurts, and yes your victories, your praises and your joys.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Just what is normal?

I'm hearing a lot of folks saying that "things will never be normal again," or "that's not normal," but really, what is normal?

I was challenged on that question yesterday and I figured its a good time to sit down and communicate again to all of you. I know, I'm hit or miss, but in all fairness, my normal life has been a bit taxing lately.

So, what is normal? To me, normal is my husband heading to work five days a week while I stay at home with Mouse, and in the event that the day is a stress-free, flare-free, drama-free day, then I can get some stuff done. Whether its doing normal housework stuff, writing, trying to work on the house or yard is only limited by my stamina and want-to. Sometimes we get to get out and do normal stuff like shopping or going to the movies, but that, again, depends on stamina and want-to. Normal is having dinner and watching Jeopardy together. Normal is putting the dogs out at 10 p.m. because they have figured out how to tell time. Normal is listening to Mouse do her Gregorian chanting as she's walking the treadmill or doing the cat boxes. Normal is removing a cat from the top of my laptop before I do anything. Normal is sweeping up discarded hair from the incredible-sheddables. That, to me is normal. But that, according to a reader on the West Coast, apparently, is not normal. And I don't doubt that.

To those on the south end of the West Coast, over 1k for a 500 sq foot apartment is normal. Traffic at a standstill on the freeways is normal. Seeing celebrities off and on is normal. East Coast, I imagine is much the same.

To most everyone else, I imagine its more of my life rather than the East or West Coast. One or both parents get up, get ready for work, get the kids ready for school and everyone is out the door. They do the 9-5, or whatever the shift is, working to get by, some barely paycheck to paycheck. They sigh at the high cost of groceries and gas, wondering if the 100 dollars they have in the bank will last to the next paycheck. They struggle to keep up with the activities of their kids, trying to balance work and family as much as possible. They stress about the high cost of insurance and the even worse cost of prescriptions, and heaven help them if they have a maintenance drug that is non-formulary. They see the crime, the anger, the form of bullying that the elite pass down via the television and Internet and wonder if they have failed somewhere along the line. But, despite all of that, they spend time with those they love, do the things they can and do what they can to keep life from overwhelming them. That, to them is normal.

What is not normal is waking up and having someone tell you what you have to do today (read: agent, not boss) even though they are not your boss or parent. What is not normal is having someone tell you how to dress, how to wear your hair, your make-up, what to eat, when to work out because you are being watched by the world. What is not normal is having to run from the media because they are fascinated by even your sneeze. The problem is, its our fault. All of it.

We have elevated these people beyond what they should be. We have put them on a pedestal and believed they could do no wrong, and when they fall, we are unforgiving. We have watched, with stars in our eyes, people who are at the top, whether technical, political or Hollywood/Nashville/Motown, etc., and wanted to be just like them. We have made them our idols, our gods and we bow to their whim.

The children of Israel had a similar issue. The bronze serpent, which was initially created to heal the people became their idol. They sacrificed to it, they "obeyed" it. It could do no wrong. God says that we should have no god before Him. Whether it is a bronze serpent or a movie star or political figure, they are all idols. What they do is never normal. They don't have the same reality we do. We work, we scrape to get by sometimes, if we're lucky, we're able to have a retirement fund ahead of time, able to send the kids to college, and have the newest car more often than every ten years. They are in a bubble...one that insulates them from the real world. Their words matter, even to the point that they encourage us to think the same way as they do, right or wrong.

There is one thing that God has given each and everyone of us, and that's the gift of free will and choice. We have the ability to make up our own minds. We have the ability to decide whether we are going to follow God's path or Man's.

With President-Elect Trump's inauguration just a little over a week away, too many people are getting on the bandwagon that says he shouldn't be in the Oval Office. Whether or not that's true remains to be seen, but let me encourage all of you to make the decisions regarding the soon to be new President your own, not that of Main Stream Media. Watch as many live broadcasts as possible, that way when the "fake" news comes up, you are more likely to understand the context and are able to make an informed decision instead of believing what the MSM would have you believe.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Hello 2017!

Well, to say that 2017 started on a rather odd note is an understatement. Started out almost normal...after less than my usual six hours of sleep (thank you fireworks over-achievers, lol!), Mouse and I were out the door a bit earlier than normal for Church. As we were leaving the neighborhood, something caught my eye. I looked again to make sure what I saw is what I really saw. Yup! A pair of guys drawers draped over a mailbox. Not sure if that makes it a good start or a bad start to the new year, but it did make an interesting start to it!

The day has been relatively uneventful, except.

On the way to pick Mouse up from her class after the services, a lady stopped me and introduced herself. We talked for a few minutes and I shared with her that Mouse is the young lady greeting for first hour every Sunday. She asked if I knew another mom whose daughter has Downs and I mentioned that I did, but I think that Little was in the younger class. She asked how old my daughter was, and I told her that the 15th will be her 34th birthday.

Her eyes teared a bit and told me that I didn't look old enough for a 34 year old, then told me about her niece who has a little one with Down Syndrome. She shared that she is unsure of her child's future. There seemed to be an indication that her niece was concerned that her little one would never be able to do much. She asked if I had any advice for her.

I truly believe this was a Divine appointment.

I told this lovely lady that she should tell her niece that her baby can do anything they want to do. The sky is the limit. There is absolutely nothing that is off limits for these kids anymore. They can go to school. learn, achieve. I told her about the doctor who suggested we put Mouse away and forget about her, that we were young and could have more children, and that we, my former husband and I, chose to bring her up doing the things that anyone else could do (within medical reason, of course). We talked for a bit longer and then I went to get Mouse.

The thing is, Downs Kids can do anything. They can be actors. They can be models. They can be athletes. They can be entrepreneurs. They can marry and have a life with the love of their life. They cook. They sew, They can knit and crochet and quilt. They can paint and sing and dance. The sky is the limit. The only boundry (other than medically), is themselves or a parent  who is not aware that these options are available to them, too.

Mouse, well, she's Mouse. She has aspirations to live in the White House and turn it pink. Her dream might be a bit out of reach for her, especially since she would probably put Putin into time-out or ground the Congressmen/women and Senators for not doing their "chores." She still sings, she dances in the foyer at church and is a pretty doggoned good colorist. That's what she wants to do, physically and mentally, that's what she can do as she was not able to advance cognitively past 6 years old. But she is a blessing. A blessing to me, my family and to those who know her. Those who meet her for the first time at church usually get handed a bulletin and (she's been coached) a handshake. Some of the time, the coaching goes out the window and they get bear hugs. That's Mouse, and that's what she does.

So, what will 2017 hold for us? Dunno. What I do know is hopefully there's a Mom out there who is a little less anxious about their baby. Hopefully someone with a frown on their face walked into church this morning and got a bear hug from Mouse, effectively turning the frown upside-down. If that happened, then I think we've got a pretty fantastic start to 2017.

Have a blessed 2017, everyone!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

I said it before and I'll say it again...fibro sucks

Yes, it does.

Sometimes I feel like a little kid who doesn't get their way..."You never let me do ANYTHING!" Yeah, that's me screaming at fibro.

The thing about fibro is it isn't life threatening, it's life altering. I've heard the whispers, "she doesn't look like anythings wrong with her." "She's just saying that to get out of stuff." "She doesn't look disabled." Yeah, I get it, I look fat and happy. Well, I am, and most of the time I am, but that doesn't mean that I'm doing well. I just don't like to go around all the time looking like Droopy or Eeyore, although I could certainly pull it off, it wouldn't be hard.

Even though its not a life threatening disability, doesn't mean I don't need prayers sometimes. Just because I don't walk with some sort of aid, doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt to walk. Sometimes raising my hands to wash or dry my hair, get a dish from the cupboard or even put something on the top shelf of my refrigerator is cause for me to wince. It's life altering.

Sometimes I get eight hours of sleep, sometimes only four, either way, most times its interrupted and my quality of sleep is diminished. Do that for a week and most folks are downright cranky. Me? Its most of the time, but I can't let that determine how I react or interact with others. I sometimes hit the wall at noon and have to lay down for an hour, most of the time I can get by until I can get past dinner. It doesn't mean I'll sleep through the night, however.

Before I was diagnosed with fibro, I thought my balance issues were just me, now I know differently. Tonight, while replacing the screen for the fireplace, I had a moment where my balance was just slightly off. Pitched forward and popped my lip on the wrought iron. Had a swollen lip for a while. Walking downstairs is an adventure that requires both hands gripping something. Upstairs is a totally different animal. Fibro is life altering.

Most of my life, I've had memory issues. If I don't write something down, I'll forget it. That's most people. Now, I can sit here and hammer out a manuscript and be crippled for days in my progress because I can't remember a common word that I need, or have the deer in the headlights look in the middle of a conversation because a word or concept has escaped me. No, I don't have Alzheimer's or dementia, I've been cleared of those, its the fibro, and its life altering.

Not too long ago I could walk for hours around a zoo, a mall, wherever and only have sore feet or maybe sore legs. Now, if I steam clean my house, I run the risk of being in bed the next day because I hurt so bad.

A few years back, my stress level was through the roof. Once I learned how to manage it, I was good. Now, if my stress level rises, its a good bet that I'll have a flare up.

As you can see, I've had some issues all my life, but they have never altered how I live life. Now, fibro seems to rule my life. I can never RSVP "yes" to an invitation but instead have to respond "maybe" because I don't know how a day is going to start. Planning trips includes planning for any flare ups that may occur due to plane or car travel. Fibro is doing its best to steal my joy.
 I do all I can to make sure that I'm in Church and in my place in the Worship Choir, because I'll be doggoned if fibro will steal that joy from me. I do my best to do things with my Granddaughters even when I don't feel good, because they don't deserve having less of me because of fibro. I do my best to do what I can for my husband, my daughters, my parents and whoever needs me, because fibro does not own me, Christ does. It may alter my path, temporarily, but when I feel like I'm about to lose my mind, I take my frustrations to Christ in prayer...and I'll ask others to pray for me as well.

I used to be strong, now I'm not. Fibro is life altering, but it is not going to beat me. When I am at my weakest, Christ is at His strongest. Leaning into Him, laying the stress, frustrations, hurts, and fog at His feet are my best defense, and one I use on a daily basis.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A safe place

It is more than apparent, even to someone who doesn't watch the news, that there is fear out there because of this election. People from all walks of life are concerned, and down-right fearful about what their lives are going to be like now. Some fear deportation. Some fear racial-profiling. Some fear retribution because they are from the LGBT community. Some fear for their insurance, which they pay a rather high premium for, but at least they're covered, for now. Others fear because they're disabled. We can sit in our comfy chairs, those of us who are not a part of these groups, and wonder why they are fearful. To be honest with you, it is hard for me to completely empathize with their fear. I can sympathize all I want, but in some cases, there is no way I can possibly know how hopeless and fearful they are right now.

There are ways that we can be there for these folks, so that they know that we are not a threat to their lives or lifestyles. There is a movement that uses a simple safety pin. When someone sees another person with a safety pin on their shirt, then they know that they are "approachable." The problem with that is that there are always those who will take advantage of the movement, and seek to do harm or damage. Unfortunately, that's the world we live in.

There is another way that we can be there for those folks. Christians are encouraged to be the salt and light of the world. When people approach us, or see us, they should know there is a "safe zone" ahead. This is also an opportunity for us to tell the Good News of Christ.

In Psalm 4, verses 1-3, it says: 1. Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Have mercy on me and hear my prayer. 2. How long, oh you sons of men, Will you turn My glory to shame How long will you seek worthlessness and seek falsehood? Selah. 3. But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The Lord will hear when I call to Him.

Psalm 57: 1 - Be merciful to me, O God be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by.

As you can see, God is our refuge in the storms of life, and we can impress upon those who are fearful that those who have Christ in their lives have that peace that surpasses all understanding. That we have that hope when all around us the storms are pounding away. When we trust in what Man says, and tables or circumstances throw us a left hook out of no-where, we are left reeling from the blow. Those with Christ in their lives are better equipped to either deflect the blows or deal with them without losing hope.

I found an interesting passage while I was researching passages regarding safety in the Bible. In Proverbs 29:24-26 it says: 24. Whoever is a partner with a thief hates his own life; He swears to tell the truth, but reveals nothing. 25. The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. 26. Many seek the ruler's favor, But justice for man comes from the Lord. 

Again, it talks about safety in the Lord, but it also seems to address the very thing that we here in the United States are experiencing right now...the fear of Man. If we put our trust in Jesus, we have nothing to fear.  I know, for those who do not know our Savior, its a confusing consolation during times such as these, when the fear is very real and very present. Why would putting their trust in Jesus calm their fears?

Here's what I would suggest for those of you who wish to be a light in this crazy time...be there. Be vocal and approachable. If you see someone having a hard time, go to them and ask if there is something you can do for them. If you can pray for them. Explain to them the case for Salvation, the reason for your hope, and if they are willing, lead them in the Sinner's prayer. Smile in their direction. Compliment them.

If someone is being verbally attacked and you would like to help, but don't want to engage the attacker, stand or sit by the one being attacked and talk to them. Take their attention away from the engager. If you see someone being physically attacked, and it is safe for you to do so, intervene...if not, call 911 and report it, safely. If you can, record the incident for evidence. Again, only if you can do so safely. These are small things we can do.

We can't be all things to everyone, but we can be salt and light to the ones that God puts in our day to day paths.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The sun has risen and it's a new day...

The world didn't go up in flames. No one was raptured. No aliens attacked, and everyone still is going about their business, whether it is school, work or retirement. The world didn't come to an end. But, that doesn't mean this election season is over, because its not.

I have to commend Mrs. Clinton for her decision to concede gracefully. She fought long, hard and well, and I have to say, in my opinion, in some cases dirty. Trump isn't clean here, though...that mouth of his was his liability. He had the opportunity to take the high road more than once, but instead chose to run that mouth. Smh... Enough about that, though. Now comes the time to put feet on his promises.

I get that some of you are distraught over the President Elect, I get that, but it is what it is. I know in my case, when I went to cast my ballot that my Candidates of Choice were not on the ballot and because I live in Texas, write-ins were not allowed. Instead of Allen West or Ben Carson, I had the four candidates to choose from. Since I disagreed heavily with Mrs. Clinton's platform, she was out. Because Jill Stein's platform was similar to hers, she was out. That left Gary Johnson and Donald Trump. So I held my nose and clicked a box. No, I don't plan on divulging who I voted for...even my husband doesn't know. That is between me, the voting machine and God. That's where I'm leaving it.

The thing is, I believe that God had a mighty hand in this. Now, hear me out. Being a Conservative Christian, I don't discount a lot of things...there has been talk all over the board about Trump being anointed by God. Trust me, I rolled my eyes at that one on more than one occasion. But the more he progressed, the more he won, the more I started to pay attention. He beat odds that if I had laid a bet in Vegas,  I would be set for life. A Vegas betting site gave Hillary a -550 (85%) chance of clinching the Presidency, with Trump coming in at +375 (25.5-33%) that he would win. He blew the bookies out of the water.  Wall Street panicked about ten o'clock last night by dumping stock. Last I checked it was down 700 points. This morning, it had recovered nicely. Again, I tilt my head in wonder at what is going on...and the fact that I'm watching this, this miracle of sorts in real time is fascinating. Don't get me wrong, I don't like the man much, and to be honest, I could very well change my mind over time, but this, for those of us who are Watchers on the Wall, this is fascinating.

When Trump's position was determined this morning in the wee hours, I thought back to the last video that I watched regarding him being "anointed" by God (rolled my eyes then, too). The man's words were pretty spot on. I had never seen or heard a prophecy come to light in my lifetime and its a bit unnerving. Now I'm waiting to see what happens next. Is he going to do as he said, or is he locked away in some dark, dank room, laughing an evil laugh and rubbing his hands together as he watches his new minions go about their desensitized way? Okay, the writer in me took over there for a moment, but that's what I imagine those who were staunchly against him are thinking right now. He's the devil in disguise, ready to put the Country on it's collective butt, and take it back a half a century. Personally, I don't think that's happening, but again, I'm only a Watcher.

Okay, I've rambled on enough, let me get to it here before you all fall asleep on me.

Trump is now the President-Elect of the United States. He is the one that God has allowed to govern this Country and now we all have a choice to make. Either you're going to pack up and head out, like so many have said they would do, or you're going to stay and work to make a very divided Country resemble the one that the Founding Fathers envisioned. He has vowed to bring the Constitution back on line, not, as some may think or say, to send us back 50 years, but to propel us into the future. To get our children back in the top percentiles in education. To bring back space exploration. To bring jobs back that were removed because manufacturing (and sad to say, quality) is less expensive overseas. To bring to the inner cities a chance to turn them from slums to livable areas that thrive. To remove poverty and to bring prosperity (basically, your chicken in every pot promise). His feet are to the fire here, the people have put him in the Big Chair, now he has to deliver on his promises. They saw someone who wasn't establishment come against the big guys on Capitol Hill, now they expect him to do as he has promised. These are people who have come out of the woodwork to vote because they felt an urgency to do so. They have seen the people's "voice" get heard, and their pumped. When he stumbles, and he will, be sure they will no longer be quiet and he will hear about it.

Now, I'm no soothsayer, not psychic and I'm certainly not a prophet, but I have a feeling that he will do his best to fulfill those promises. Why? Because I look at his family. His children are good, hard working people who are successful. They've worked their ways up in his companies, and have gotten to the top. Not because they're his kids, but because they've worked for it. Ivanka started out like any privileged kid, but really did work her way up, in her own way. Jewish by conversion, she and her husband raise their child in the Jewish traditions and with the Jewish observations. Don and Eric, however, have literally worked their ways up the ladder. From working with the construction crews that their father employs, laying bricks, doing manual labor, etc. to clerks to top jobs, they know the struggles and triumphs of each faction personally, having done the work themselves. Donald Trump did not do a slack job raising his kids.

He's a teetotaler. Never done drugs or drank alcohol. And is a billionaire...one who has said he will not take a salary while in office.

This morning I had a lot of pithy observations to write down, but now I'm down to this. This man is there because God allowed him to be there, whether by chance or design, I don't know. What I do know is now that he is there, we have to continue to pray for our Government, our Country and for God's forgiveness on this Land. We have to pray for a strengthening with our alliance with Israel, and that President Trump will defend this Country to the best of his ability. That he will take care of those at home who have fallen between the cracks, as well as fulfilling our duties in NATO and to our allies. He has to be all things to all people, whether he likes them or not. He needs to temper his temper and practice humility when needed. He needs to allow the people who know their jobs the best to do what they have been trained to do. And he needs to seek God's wisdom in governing...with Mike Pence as his VP, I think he's got a good head start.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Tomorrow, November 8, 2016, and beyond.

Looking at the news headlines and my news feed this morning, I can't help but sense a severe anxiety. While the news stories, of course, do not put forth those feelings, my friend's and family's posts most certainly do 

I have, on my news feed, folks on both sides of the aisle…and I have to tell you, I feel the anxiety in the posts. Both sides are worried about what will happen on November 9th, when all the votes have been counted. Those on the Clinton side are worried about a man whose mouth is unfiltered, and vulgar. His attitude is not been reined in, but to his credit, he has surrounded himself with conservatives who are highly respected. 

On the other side of the aisle, Trump supporters are worried about a woman whose health is in question, whose ethics are in question and whose accomplishments are in question. Her family history is in question. They fear a lock-down on the United States like it has never seen before, and more of the Obama Administration with a new skin on. 

Then there are those in my news feed, and I admit, they are few, who are absolutely at peace regardless of the outcome. People look at those posts and scratch their heads. How can they be so at peace in such an historic, divisive time as this? I'll tell you.

Let's start with Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV): For unto us a Child is born,
                                           Unto us a Son is given;
                                            And the government will be upon His shoulder.
                                            And His name will be called
                                            Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
                                             Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

They have the peace knowing that Christ is still on the Throne. That He has taken the government on His shoulders.

In Romans 13:1, we have this to live by: 1. Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 

Although we are unable to see the future, we are at peace with this election because we know that God is still in control. Whomever He has appointed for the chair in the Oval Office, it is by His design, and although we may see turmoil as we have never seen before, we must understand that our faith in God must be paramount. That we cannot give in to the fear that could shake that faith. 

As in many elections since Israel became a Nation, I know there are many who look at the candidates and proclaim them as "The Anti-Christ." This will be the case again, no doubt...and perhaps this is the time for him to be revealed, but we must be steadfast in our faith, watchers on the wall, constantly looking toward the Eastern Skies for our Salvation. We must be constant in prayer, lifting up our fellow Christians all over the world, and, despite going against everything our brain tells us, lifting up the person who will become our 45th President, as well as all those who we have elected to be in positions of power. 

In this time of fear, don't let it get hold of you, dear Friend. Lift your concerns, your fears, your anxieties to the One who is still in control. God is still there. He is still on His Throne, and He still listens. Pray for forgiveness of our collective sins, and pray that He will have compassion on us, that He will stay His hand of protection over this Great Nation.

Be well, my Friends. Be safe. God bless you, and don't forget to vote.