Tuesday, March 28, 2017

You think no one is watching

At the beginning of last school year, I positioned myself near the Lower Academy car rider entrance to shepherd the students to the cafeteria in the morning so their teachers could get ready to receive them.  I did the same this year.  For the last two weeks or so,  I have taken an interest in a kindergartner who is a "challenge."  Let's leave it at that.  I had noticed him running, yes, running, down the hall.  I would stop him and make him start over a ways back so he could practice walking correctly.  When I saw him walk down normally by himself, I took him to his classroom and bragged on him to his teachers.  Well, that's no big deal, right?

Wrong!  At least to him.  He came in Monday morning, stopped, opened his book bag and said, "I have something for you."

Wow!  Talk about being blown away!  I asked him if he had this at home or if someone gave it to him.  He replied that he had it at home.  I imagine him looking around his room or house for something he thought would be appropriate.  Kinda reminded me of the widow's mite in the Bible.

It's hard....really hard some days....teaching in a public school...it really doesn't matter which one; they ALL have their various challenges.  Heck, private school is no picnic either (I will blog about that helacious year another time.)

Anyway, I try to think "What would Jesus Do?" in most circumstances.  I fail miserably most days, but I guess I got it right with this little fella.  For those who have asked, no, I don't teach him.  He's just a random child in the hall---random to me, but not to Jesus.  Jesus knows him well, and I suppose I filled some void in this child's life.

"Jesus--the Rogue"---Someone asked me today what "rogue" means.  I know that word well; it is someone who goes against the establishment or the established order (my definition).  Of course, Jesus *was* a rogue because he upset the order of the pharisees.  I see myself as a rogue, too.  Not at work, though; I'm too *silver* for that. (http://onedayatatime-ginger.blogspot.com/2016/08/im-silver.html But outside work.

Yes, I am wearing it.

Friday, March 17, 2017

"The World is Too Much With Us"

"The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not--Great God!  I'd rather be
A pagan sucked in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn."
               William Wordsworth

The English Romantic poet William Wordsworth wrote this in 1802, yet it is so apropos in our consumer-fueled society.  "Getting and spending"?  Really?  In 1802???  This sounds like our world, one in which people are hurried, harried, and spending beyond their means.  Too many "must" have the current "toy" (boat, jet ski, smart tv, etc...), and they are working themselves into a frenzy to keep up with their neighbors, materially speaking.   

"Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away"

Everywhere I look in my town, there is construction.  Woods are being decimated, habitats destroyed----all in the name of "progress."   Oh, how I hate it!  We don't need another Waffle House or car wash on my little island; yet, fight "progress" we can not.

One day, I hope to leave all of this.  I long for the simple life---a piece of land and a small cabin.  I won't require much for just me and my cats.  I also want chickens and a garden.  I have been ridding my life of "stuff" for the last year, and that is first on my priority list when I retire this summer.  Simplification will be my word.

I suppose it is true that things you learn as a child sleep in the deep recesses of your mind, waiting for something to awaken the memory and cause it to bubble to the surface.  I was working on a project inspired by my Grandmother Pearl, and this poem's title kept resonating through my mind.  I am sure I read it either in Betty Linder's senior English class, or it was in a British Lit. class in college.  As I thought of Grandmother, worked on my project, and heard the annoying "boomdaboomdaboomboomboom" assaulting my ears, I longed for the simpler time Wordsworth was searching for in 1802.  May it come to pass for me.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

What is the value of a life?

If you are not an animal lover, you may want to skip this post.

This is Miles James.  I adopted him from a former church family almost 15 years ago, right after I moved here.  They had a baby boy they named Miles, and they were worried how this Miles would react to the baby.  Such silliness, but I am so glad I took him "sight unseen."  He is an ordinary looking cat:  white, gray, and some black.  He was always aloof until he became the only cat I had left back in February of 2009.  Right after I had to have my then-20 year-old cat Baby put down, I adopted two new girls together.  Then, Miles decided he wanted to be a sweetheart.

Well, this sweetheart is now 20 and nearing the end of his time, though no one knows how long he has left.  I took him in to the vet last week because I noticed he was drinking a lot of water.  Blood work indicated kidney failure.  Many people would have had him put down.  Why would I do that when his life still has value?  Next to the two youngest cats, he is the MOST active.  He will bully any of the others out of their food, he still climbs, and he loves me.  He is not in any pain.  Why would I put him down now??  I have always known with the others when it was their time.  I have the money to put him on a special renal wet food and to give him fluids every day.  I want to enjoy him for as long as I can.  All my cats become my little furry four-legged children----and every one of them has value to me.  They enrich my life more than I could ever explain.  Few will understand, and that's ok by me.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Will the Real God Please Stand Up?

I am Ginger, and I’m a recovering evangelical.  I spent many years in a church that portrayed God/Jesus as “bad cop/good cop” because God was this stern overseer with a whip who would beat me/condemn me if I sinned, and then I had to run to Jesus for forgiveness.  Then, the cycle would continue.  God was very much the fire and brimstone type.  I am reminded of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” that I read in the esteemed Janis Blocker’s American literature class in 1979-80.  I was always made to feel as though I were never “good enough.”  That was my take away from that church.  

I still hold scars that may never heal, as does my son.

A few months ago I was at a gathering where most of the people were from “that church.”  Someone asked if I still went there.  I replied that I did not, and I proceeded to tell them about my mother having been in hospice and how I go every Sunday to cook for my parents and do for them.
What followed was dead silence.  It was probably a full minute before anyone said anything and changed the subject.  No one asked how my parents were---nothing.

Condemnation and judgment, the feelings transmitted to me, picked the scabs off my old wounds. 
If you are still with me, you may be asking where I am going with this.  This weekend I traveled to The Shack with Mack and had my beliefs about God confirmed.  I should clarify:  my beliefs I have transitioned to.   I wept at both the confirmations and convictions.  My point here is not to divulge the plot, but rather to process my take-aways from the book.  If you want to read the book, you may want to skip the rest of this.

1.      1.   “It is not the nature of love to force a relationship, but it is the nature of love
      to open the way.”

God gives man free will. We are not puppets for Him to manipulate to His will.  We often
get angry with Him when bad things happen to us or those we love.  But, it pains Him
 as much as it does us.  He will “work all things for good for those who love Him and
are called for His purpose.”

2.     2.  Responsibilities and expectations are the basis of guilt and shame and judgment,
and they provide performance as the basis for identity and value.”

God has no expectations of us to behave a certain way; after all, He knows us best.
He loves us unconditionally.  So often, churches put a premium on our performance
being tied to our value in God’s eyes.  I have always felt that I was never “good enough”
A lot of that stems from familial ties as well as my former church.   I have to retrain my thinking.

3.    3.   “Judging requires that you think yourself superior over the one you judge.”

Let that sink in.  This is where the floodgates opened up for me.  How any times have
I judged these “careless” drivers in this town? (I *do* suffer from road rage at the idiocy. I know I have to work on that.). How many times have I judged a homeless person to be lazy, dirty, etc...?    I have been a hypocrite.
4.      4.   “Every time you forgive, the universe changes, every time you reach out and touch a
heart or a life, the world changes.

This last quote confirms what I have been trying to do for the last 4 or 5 years.  So,
after all the tears, I sort of feel redeemed here.  Like maybe I’m ok after all, especially
in this current hate-filled climate of our country.

God created us for relationships ---with Him and others---and Love---always Love.
I am a work in progress, better than I was yesterday, but not perfect.  I have work to do, and I know in which areas.  That is another thing this book illuminated for me.  I will need the help of the Holy Spirit for one, just like Mack did in the book.

Man created religious dogmas, rules, and creeds.  Man and his institutions judge us when we “fail.”

The early Church was not this way.  It was plain folks meeting in each other’s homes,
breaking bread together, as in The Shack.  I had that once upon a time with a group of people.  That is where I learned to cook for so many.  But, I digress.

So, for those who would question if I am in Church or when I might return, this is my

         My parents and P. are my current concerns/missions.  I do not need a prescribed day/time/dogma to worship.  I worship through *doing* for those who need it.  I attempt to be the hands and feet of Jesus, whether it is baking salted caramel cupcakes from scratch to see the glee on youngsters’ faces, or whether it is to bring a hot meal to a shut-in, or whether it is to cook my parents one home-cooked meal a week and chauffeur them to Walmart at 7am on Sunday morning.  My local community is enough of a mission field for me, for now.  And, I talk to God daily, all day.  And, you know what?  He listens, and He answers.  Sometimes, *He* seeks *me* out for assignments.  Talk about a stunner!   He has revealed things to me about others in my daily life so I can pray for them……There is no other way I could have known these things about them if it were not for Him!  This is what He cares about, not what church or pew I am in or not in on Sunday morning.  It’s what I do daily.

Yes, I have a lot of work to do on myself, but there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 

So, if you are still with me, read The Shack.  If you are seeking a closer walk with God, it will impact your life.