Archive for the ‘news’ Category

Love as a Virtue

January 12, 2011

In English, love has many meanings from romantic love to love for a favorite food, and all sorts of “loves” in between.  However, love can be a virtue.  If I want to strive for the virtue of love, I would define it as affection for others.  If I have affection for others, then I see the good in them first.  I can sort the wheat from the chaff and cherish the wheat.  To do that, I must put myself out for others.  Some wit once said “I love humanity, its human beings I can’t stand”.  We can have some noble sentiments regarding being a “lover of humanity”, yet despise certain people, especially the ones who get in our way or offend our sensibilities. 

To love people, I must go out of my way to get to know them.  A good person may be polite.  A virtuous person knows the name of the office maid and goes out of his way to speak to her and get to know her as an individual.  I need to be genuinely interested in the people I see around me on a regular basis, and go out of my way to meet my neighbors.  I need to remember names and use them.  I need to politely inquire after people as I get to know them.  I can pray for them and encourage them.  Yes, there are a lot of people whose paths I cross, and I may not be able to befriend all of them.  However, as with all good things, I need to look at what I CAN do and not use what I can’t do as an excuse not to do anything.

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Hate Speech

January 12, 2011

Having listened to all sorts of opinions on what constitutes hate speech, I have come up with a definition of my own.  If I perceive someone’s speech to threaten  people I agree with, its hate speech.  If they are merely threatening someone else, and I happen to agree with them, then its not hate speech.

The 45 Minute Solution

March 2, 2010

When confronting “the blues”, dullness, boredom and the like, I was once given a transforming recipe by a mature and wise pastor.  I call it the 45 Minute Solution.

First, spend 15 minutes a day reading the bible.  Ask the Lord to speak to you through the bible, and you can even ask Him what book of the bible to read.  Personally, I like the gospels, epistles and psalms, but I have never read a book of the bible where I didn’t find a little nugget of gold that met my exact needs at that moment.  Just be aware that God will speak to you if you ask Him and your soul is open and willing to hear Him.

Second, spend 15 minutes a day pouring out your heart to God.  Ask Him for everything you need, lay all your burdens before Him, and don’t forget to thank Him for all the ways you have seen Him help you.

Third, spend 15 minutes a day encouraging someone else’s faith, sharing the hope the Lord has given you.  You can do this through spoken or written words.  You can’t encourage someone else without the encouragement strengthening you, too.  As an old proverb says, the fragrance remains on the hand that gives a rose.

Try this for a couple of weeks.  I promise it will be life changing.

Spiritual Blahs

March 1, 2010

In this season of Lent, we take time for introspection.  Just as we take stock of our relationships and our financial condition, we should also take stock of our relationship with the Lord.  If we find, as many of us do, that we have been taking this relationship for granted, then it needs work in the same way a marriage needs work.  Our primary, close relationships fail for lack of intimacy.  We have quit talking to each other, and soon realize we no longer know what is going on with the other person.  Unlike our human relationships, God always knows what is going on with us.  God always loves us unconditionally, and we can hardly expect that of another human being.  However, there is a price to pay for lack of intimacy with God.  I call it the spiritual blahs. 

Have you ever felt that God was far away, and there was no one really listening when you prayed?  Have you felt uninspired, mildly depressed and just, well, dull?  God never changes, but people change.  We change.  Staying too busy for God leaves our souls in the same condition as a plant that has been left in the darkness too long.

What to do?  Well, the cure for human distance is to start talking , and also start listening.  We can, thankfully, go to God anytime  and apologize for putting too many things on our agenda ahead of our time with Him.  We need to take some time to thank Him for all the good things He has been doing in our lives and the lives of those around us.  Then we need to tell Him, openly, honestly, and thoroughly, what is going on in our world and in our head.  He already knows, of course, but He loves to hear us open our hearts to Him.  Then we need to listen.  Sometimes we will  hear some answers in our minds and hearts.  We just “know” its Him.  We just “know”, because its in line with what we have always known about Him, and it is also in line with our best, most Christlike self.  It doesn’t stroke or appeal to our small self– the selfish, cowardly, prideful self.

The other way to listen is to  read scripture till we begin to see a picture of what He is trying to say to us.  Reading the actual words of Jesus is particularly helpful to me, but so is reading psalms and epistles.  Often I will stop and ask, “Jesus, what are you saying to me, and how do you want me to apply this to my life?”  Then being quiet, the thoughts come again.  When I pray like this, I often find things happening in my circumstances, almost as if He created a special opportunity for me to do the thing He is drawing me to do.

When I take time to pray and listen like this, the blahs disappear, and there’s an excitement in day to day living that should be normal for us, and so often is not.

In-Laws, How to Share a Loved One

February 20, 2010

In this culture we don’t have a say in choosing who our children will marry, and they may very well marry someone with emotional issues or someone who hates their new in-laws.  Whats a parent to do?  I wrote this little scene after listening to families struggle with new additions who aren’t connecting.

I have a baby tiger in my garden.  It is not at all tame, and it appears to have some old, unhealed wounds.  I have been trying to get close, but it growls and hisses.  Sometimes, when I speak gently to it, I can draw closer, and then it bites or gives me a nasty scratch.  I don’t hate it when it bites and scratches.  I know it is what it is.  Its not tamed, and its protecting itself.  I do wish I could get a vet to look at its wounds, or an expert who can help me tame it.  But I can’t do those things, for it doesn’t belong to me.  My child, whom I love very much, has brought it into my garden.  So for the sake of my child, it is welcome.  I hope someday it will become used to me, and the growling and hissing will stop.  It may never let me touch it, but perhaps we can both be in the garden in peace.

The Story of Santa Claus as I told it to my Children

February 17, 2010

Long ago there was a holy man named Nicholas, who wanted more than anything to give Jesus a gift on his birthday.   But what can you give to someone who owns the whole universe?  Then Nicholas remembered when Jesus walked the earth, He said whatever you do for the least important people,  you do for Him.  So Nicholas decided a very pleasing gift for Jesus would be to visit the children of his city, carrying gifts for them–clothing, food and special things that delight children.  Nicholas did this for years, using a carriage if Christmas were warm, and a sleigh when it snowed.  Eventually God called Nicholas home, and that Christmas all the people wondered who would visit the children on Christmas Eve.  Gradually they realized they could visit the children themselves.  And that year, parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles, big brothers and big sisters and older cousins and friends, all secretly left gifts for the children on Christmas Eve.  On Christmas morning the children were so surprised.   “Who left these gifts for us?”  they asked.  And the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, big brothers, big sisters and cousins and friends all smiled and winked and said “Could it be Nicholas, come down from heaven for this one night?”  Well, the tradition continued for years and years, down to this very day .  Nicholas eventually was called Saint Nicholas, and in the language of little children, who can’t always speak plainly, he became Santa Claus.

The Candy Cane

February 17, 2010

What if the candy cane isn’t a cane at all, but the letter J, upside down? Legend has it that a J is what it originally was.  J stands for Jesus, “God with us”, whose birthday we celebrate December 25.  God missed us so much that He came to be with us, being born and living as a human, so that He could have a relationship with us and we humans could understand what God is really like.

The red stripes on the J represent the great love of God, who would rather die than lose a single one of us.  It did turn out that way.  He died defeating the evil one who was holding us, intent on eventually destroying us.

The white stripes on the J represent eternal life–our heavenly  home.  Anyone who has ever lost a child, and any child who has become lost from their parent knows the anguish felt until they can be reunited again and the child is safe at home.  God feels that way about us, and leans on the window of heaven day by day, watching and waiting for us.  HE can hardly wait until we are home with Him for good.

A Life of Meaning and Worth

February 14, 2010

Dear Liz,

I can’t stop thinking about the story you were telling me yesterday, about your sister-in-law and how successful she is in her career and about how she also has children and seems so well put together.  You seemed to be saying that she sees you as somehow inferior to her because you don’t have a career.  This really struck a chord with me because I have fought this feeling in myself so many times.  I have never had a career and it has really never been convenient for my family for me to have a career.  I’m not unhappy with my life, but I struggle with feelings that nothing I do is very noteworthy.

Strangely enough, yesterday morning I had a unique experience.  Before I tell you about it, I want to tell you that I am all right and in good health.  Yesterday morning I went for a routine mammogram.  The technician took the first set of films, then took a second set and then a third set .  She told me she wasn’t sure about what she saw.  Finally, she asked me to wait about 30 minutes for the radiologist to come and read the films before I went home.  Well, I had 30 minutes alone with my thoughts.  I didn’t panic.  I felt that God was with me and had His hand in whatever happened.  But I was overwhelmed with the idea that if my life were going to be shorter than I thought, then what were the most important things to do with the time I had left.

I decided that first of all, I wanted to know Jesus better.  If He were going to come for me, I wanted to recognize the person I wuld spend forever with, and not be afraid of Him in His glory because He was a stranger to me.  Then, I decided I wanted my family to have a legacy of love, joy and beauty to remember me by.  I wanted them to know they were loved, that they were valuable, that life is forever and God is good, so that they could be courageous in facing whatever their lives brought them.  I wanted them to remember precious things I’d said to them, or small loving things I’d done for them, and that these memories would give them strength.  I wanted to give all the love I could every day to the people in my life.  All of a sudden it seemed important that whatever I did should be done for love.  I decided that when I met Jesus, it wouldn’t matter that I brought a resume of accomplishments, but that I had a heart full of love, because thats what seems to matter most.  It says in the bible that love is the only thing that is eternal, and that our relationships with God and others are all that we can take with us into forever.  Well, in 30 minutes, I seemed to have answered a lot of my own questions about whether my achievements are valuable, and decided it was the quality of my life that mattered–more depth, rather than more “success”.  Then the 30 minutes were up, I was given a clean bill of health and went home.

It was so strange that 2 hours later, the same questions, more or less, came up again when you talked about your sister-in-law.  I didn’t know what to say at the time, but hope to share my after thoughts with you now.  Liz, you are so valuable.  Its so obvious in the very short time I have known you, that you love your family, you are devoted to them, and that they are happy.  You have a wonderful, warm, down to earth personality, too, and people feel very comfortable in your presence.  At the end of your sister-in-law’s life it won’t matter if she was the governor’s right hand woman.  A few years after she is gone, no one will remember that.  All she’ll carry into the other side is love and relationships.

I hope these thoughts make you feel good.  I’m not a very good writer, but I hope you can understand what I mean to say.

Your friend,

xxxx  aka Nonni

A Way to Look at Forgiveness

February 14, 2010

Forgiveness means I don’t allow a few snapshots to color my opinion of the whole film.  I may see a person during one or more bad times, but I haven’t seen their whole life.  Especially important is to remember I haven’t seen the end of the story–theirs or mine.  God still has lots of work to do with all His children, me included.

The Great Santini

January 22, 2010

After seeing the movie “Brats”, I re-read The Great Santini.  This story was written from the point of view of the oldest son of a Marine Corps officer, more specifically, a fighter pilot.  Fighter pilots in legend and lore, have been hard drinking, hard fighting, tough, unsentimental, fearless characters.  I think its mostly legend and lore, in that the days of any military acceptance of drinking or fighting are long gone.  However, some of the stories of fighter squadron parties in the early 1960s may have some truth to them.  However, was the Marine fighter pilot, or any fighter pilot for that matter a different breed of man than the rest?  I don’t think they inherently were different, although some professions attract certain personalities and some professions change the people who enter them.  Fighter pilots, along with soldiers, police and firefighters put their lives on the line at times or even daily in the performance of their duties.  This kind of  job may attract those who are addicted to adrenaline, those with a “devil may care” attitude, and those with a strong need to be heroes.  However, for those who just know they are good at what they do and who want to serve a cause they highly value, the job may still change them somewhat.  The extreme stress of these jobs may evoke a huge amount of emotion in a week, and people deal with that emotion in various ways.  Those who have trouble dealing with fear or sadness may numb it with alcohol, and although there have been problems of alcoholism in the ranks, its probably not greater than in society at large.  No, I think the ways of dealing with stress are as numerous as they are in any other profession.  A lot of people dealing with fear and sadness cover it with anger.  Anger is an emotion of power, and is therefore much easier to deal with than fear and sadness which leave a person feeling weak and out of control.  People feeling weak, out of control or insecure may alternatively act with a lot of bluster.  Again this is an emotion of power and is easier to deal with.  I think the “Great Santini” was such a person.  Because he probably always had problems with relationships, weakness, and feeling a loss of control, he had probably learned early on the tools of anger and bluster.  Because he was an angry, hard charging kind of guy, he probably found a place as a fighter pilot, where such characteristics were understood.  He could never have made it in careers where relationships and diplomacy were needed, or where control was vague.   We all have known people like the “Great Santini”.  They may have been bosses or family members, and they may not have all been male.  Women may also have these characteristics, but don’t have as many places to use them where they are as socially acceptable as the traditionally male roles of fighter pilot, soldier, police officer and firefighter.  A lot of women who use anger, control and bluster end up being labeled personality disordered or given a word not printable here.

So was the “Great Santini” unusual?  Not at all.  Was his personality over represented in the military?  Probably not.  He would have been a difficult, insensitive husband and father if he’d been in sales or management.   He had absolutely no relationships with his family of origin, his wife and kids feared him, and even his prayer life was impersonal.  Again, we’ve all known people like this, in all walks of life.