Sunday, February 28, 2016

Reaping What You Sow --or--Forgiveness?

My son called today from Colorado.  His father, my ex, has prostate cancer.  It hit me like a ton of bricks, as the saying goes, because he is only 48 years-old; prostate cancer is "an old man's disease."  This is further complicated by the fact that he is an alcoholic.  He enters rehab in Denver in a few weeks with the intention of stopping drinking.  The doctors want to remove the prostate gland, but they won't as long as he drinks.

Seven or eight years ago I would have said, "Good for ya!  You deserve it!  You reap what you sow." He never paid child support save one six month period in 2012 when it was garnished.  He is nearly $30,000 behind and the reason I always worked two jobs while Matthew was growing up.  He ignored Matthew's birthdays and Christmases.  So, he deserves this, right? 

That was seven or eight years ago.   Now, I feel nothing but pity for him.  He has had a hard life since our divorce and his return to Colorado in 2002.  I don't know about his life prior to last Father's Day when our son arrived in Colorado to live with him awhile.  But, within one week of Matthew's arrival, they were homeless, living in a motel.  It would be about a month before they borrowed a camper and parked it in the in-laws' yard. They lived in that camper through the rough Colorado winter until about a month ago when they finally moved into town and a house.

He is no longer able to work construction due to his back, shoulder, and knees; twenty-five years of construction takes its toll.  He has been turned down for disability because "he's not 50."  Now he has cancer.  Now he has to enter rehab.

I don't know what the future holds for Donald, but I know I feel no animus toward him.  I will pray for him; whatever hostility I held for him died years ago.  In the midst of this, God will use this to teach my son a valuable lesson--of that I *know.*

Thursday, February 18, 2016

"When you do for the least of these....."

I have been under attack recently---not an all-out attack---but the devil has been stirring the witch's cauldron, or should I say,  warlock's cauldron.  Then, this week two verses came to mind:  "No weapon formed against you shall prosper," and the one from this morning:  "When you do for the least of these, you have done for me."

Now, God sent those verses to my mind for me, to encourage me.  I have a mission in life (for the next 15 months or so), and when God puts you on a mission, you have work to do.  When you realize this, the devil will attempt to wreck havoc.   I can handle him; he is behind me.   So, my focus here is on the second verse:  "When you do for the least of these, you have done for me."

If you are reading this post, chances are that you know me, and if you do, you know I teach.  This is year 28.  For most of those 28 years, I was oblivious to the "big picture"--the "mission" I was on.  I didn't see it as a mission, but just a job.  I thought I was a Christian for most of those years, but I wasn't truly.  Yes, I went to church, and yes, I believed in God and Jesus as His son.............but. I .didn't .follow. Them. What does that even mean?  It means as I walk through each day, I should have the lens of Jesus on.  It's hard; He was perfect; I am not.  The kids I have taught for 27 of those 28 years are challenging and hard to get through to.  When I think back on 28 years, some of the adults have been just as challenging.  I remember talking to two professing Christians about our jobs being a "mission field."  They raised their eyebrows and looked at me as though I were a nutcase.  I choose to believe they are at a different place in their walk with God.  I am getting better.

"When you do for the least of these, you have done for me."  I am thinking now of a little second grader I see each morning as he makes his way to breakfast, passing me as I stand at my duty post between 7 and 7:30AM.  I don't  exactly remember how we "bonded," but as a fairly new student in January, he stopped to ask me some logistical questions.  I went to his classroom the next day to give him a GOTCHA ticket for being so "grown-up" to ask questions.  From then on, he has hugged me each morning.  I found out from his teacher that his mother had been in jail when he first came to us.  Then, the other morning he was looking particularly tired.  He spilled that he had been at the laundromat until 11pm the night before, so he didn't go to bed until midnight.  I gave him a hug, hurried him to breakfast, and told his teacher so she would be prepared for him to be tired.  I am there for him as an encourager, even if I don't teach him.

"When you do for the least of these, you have done for me."  Since this is my daily verse to live by now, this is how I strive to live my life.  I may not do a lot for anyone, but I can do something for someone. This has affected every part of my life, including my political views.  No longer can I vote for someone who spews hatred of any ethnic group or who proposes disavowing any human responsibility that we have for our fellow man.  That human responsibility we have toward our fellow man is more important than anything else, for Jesus said, ""When you do for the least of these, you have done for me."  When I meet Him one day, what do I want Him to say:  "Get away from me; I never knew you," or "Well done, my good and faithful servant"? 

If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, what do you want Him to say to you?

Monday, February 15, 2016


Retirement--------------Because of choices I made when I separated in 1998, I never thought I would live to experience this.  Then, last summer God slapped me up side my head and showed me it would happen through His provision to fix my mistake of all those years ago.

This is my 28th year teaching; next year will be my last.  Last week a colleague asked what I will do; I told her, "whatever I want to do."  My bff, who retired last year, told me it will probably take me a year to get acclimated to being free to plan my days.

I know I will seek God to show me what to do.  I know he has been preparing me for the next phase of my life.  Will it include building a Habitat house?  Maybe.  Though I can't hammer a nail straight, I know he has a sense of humor, so that "could" be part of my rebirth.

I know I do not desire to travel the world.  There are a few places I would like to see, and if it happens fine; if not, that's fine, too.  I've been on one cruise, and that was enough.  I was sick as a dog one day and night.  I've seen Barbados, St. Maarten, Grenada, St. Thomas, and Martinque.   To me, after awhile, all islands look the same.

So, I'll take time to savor my rebirth, revisit some long lost hobbies, and wait for God to put opportunities before me.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Why I'm Voting for Bernie

I have had people ask me why I'm voting for Bernie Sanders for President.  If you have kept up with this blog lately, you know I was reared a republican.  Here is why I have turned my back on the republicans and am voting for Bernie.

1.  I am disgusted with the republicans running.  I believe that all politicians, by definition, are cheaters and  liars to one degree or another.  This bunch seems to be full of them.  Each is so desperate to win, they disparage the others rather than sticking to important issues facing this country

2 The only litmus test for the evangelicals is the abortion issue.  Let me make this clear:  Reagan, George Bush, and George W. Bush----all republicans----did not overturn Roe vs. Wade.  It is not going away....period....Plus, while I myself would never have an abortion, who am I to tell another woman she can't?  That's not *my* business; it's between her and GodSo, if a candidate claims to be a born-again Christian and against abortion, he is the only one fit to run this country?  That's a bit short-sighted, in my opinion.
3.  What plan does any republican have for getting our economy back on track? 

4.  We need universal health care as other countries have it.  Republicans are against it.  In my view, that is a BASIC HUMAN right.  Bernie is for this.  He is not for throwing out Obamacare as HRC suggests to sway voters her way.  He wants to change it so everyone gets healthcare with no deductibles. 

5.  Bernie is not much different than FDR, and most historians would equate him as one of the BEST, if not THE best President, we ever had.  It was under FDR's New Deal that minimum wage was created as well as Social Security. He is the President who created jobs to bring us out of the Depression.  Who NOW wants to throw out Social Security?  Like FDR,  Bernie has a plan for creating new jobs to help replace the jobs people lost in the recession.  There are people who lost jobs and homes in the recession who have yet to recover.  

6.  I see Bernie's proposal for free college for all an extension of Social Security in this respect:  If the elderly have a safety net, why shouldn't young people have a step up in getting started in life so they are not saddled with astronomical debt for the rest of their lives?  If they can get a college education, they can become productive members of society for years until they, too, can draw social security.

7.  Bernie wants the wealthiest of the wealthy to pay their share of taxes.  Many of them pay nothing or next to nothing because of tax loopholes that allow them to skate free.

This is just a quick snapshot of why I am voting for a Democrat for the first time in my life.  I feel good about it and at peace.  I don't have tunnel vision, but rather a vision for a better America for ALL. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Latest Ramblings

In my last blog post I wrote about being raised a republican and how I have evolved into an independent, leaning toward a democrat. I was raised in the middle class, but I am not oblivious to the suffering of the poor.  When I think of my upbringing, I am shocked we were considered middle class.  By today's standards, we would not be.    When my dad retired from civil service in December 1993, he was making $40,000 a year---the most he ever made.  That means when we three kids were growing up, he made considerably less than that.  My parents paid $14,000 for their house in 1963; they paid it off in 20 years, and they always had two vehicles.  My mother was the queen of thrift; she even had an aunt who made many of my clothes.  I can not understand how they made it except for her thriftiness and the fact that things were cheaper in the 60s and 70s.

When I went to college, my dad took out loans and paid them as I went to school, so by the time I graduated, I had only about $1000 to pay back.  As a teacher, I have almost always worked at least one other job, sometimes two.  I know how hard it is for the middle class now.  Through working in Title One schools all my life and working with the poor, I know what generational poverty looks like.

This week I heard a colleague bemoan how kids could wear $100 shoes but not have a pencil for class.  He does not understand poverty.  I don't fault him for that because I myself was a slow learner.  We have two kinds of kids in the schools:  those whose parents work hard, sometimes two jobs, to give them whatever they want.  Their life outlook is one where they will give their kids what they couldn't have when they were kids.  Image is extremely important to them, so they will look good and have the latest gadgets.  In their minds, this makes them like everyone else......  Then, there are the poorest of the poor---those without running water and who really don't know where their next meal will come from. 

Knowing what I know, how can I vote any other way than democratic?  This country is a mess.  Young adults can not afford to go to college without coming out in debt up to their eyeballs, and health insurance should be a national right as it is in other countries.  No longer do I see foreign policy as the most important issue in the presidential election.  If our country continues to disintegrate, there will be no need for foreign policy.  We have to fix what is broken here first.  I can not and will not support candidates who either 1) continue to line the pockets of corporate America or 2) turn a blind eye to the REAL issues facing this nation.