Friday, August 28, 2009

Appreciate What You Have

I admit that I have a lovely home. It suits our every need. It is far more spacious than the apartment we lived in for eleven years. It was cramped, but we never felt like life would be better someday when we _________. (fill in the blank)
I can't say that I am any *happier* now, than then. Am I more satisfied? Yes, in some respects; Knowing that I am buying my home and somehow contributing to my own welfare, verses paying someone else to live in their abode is gratifying. But it isn't what brings me genuine contentment.
Mowing my lawn, planting trees, nuturing the land, repairing the home as it needs it is all rewarding by virtue of it's own design. But my contentedness comes from my love of God and family. God has shown me in His word that my needs are simple. It is society that puts the pressure on us to have luggage and purses of certain varieties that send the message to the world that we are on board with whatever the latest fad is and willing to pay a premium, no less.
I am not against a quality product. I prefer certain brands over others, but do try to find my favorite brands at outlet prices, or better yet; gently used. I know that Ralph Lauren and Eddie Bauer Comforters outlast the Walmart brand by a longshot, and buying a cheap product often times results in a short life-span of the article, therefore causing more expense in the long run.
But when are our appetites satisfied? Well, I will tell you something that many a Grandmother knows: What is appreciated most is what was created with your own two hands. The things I treasure most in my home are probably not a lot to look at, but someone who loved me took the time to stitch it, spin it, crochet or knit it. I have a little bit of cross stitch from my Sister In Law that reads: "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.". It is lovingly hemmed in red ribbon and has hung in my home for years. I know the love she put in it and wouldn't trade it for all the tea in China.
So while magazines, and the government are pushing us to spend, spend, spend... may I suggest gently to the reader that this will never satisfy. You must create contentment from within, and it simply cannot be purchased.
As a Christian, I fall on this scripture : "I belong to my Savior and God, and He is the almighty One. I am the recipient of His love and of His grace. Therefore I am heir of the kingdom of God. All things are mine" 1 Cor 3:21
So yes, I agree we all have needs, but do we really understand the difference between a desire and a need? Looking at the homes I grew up in, they were very small in comparison to todays rambling 3000 plus square foot houses. I fear that some people think they couldn't bear to live in less and that makes me rather sad. Sometimes, it is the closeness of family... of cousins sleeping in the same bed, or brothers, and dogs, and whatever else we could manage to sneek in that brings me the greatest joy in recollecting. Learning to share space, time and manage is a greater lesson that we can pass on to our children that will give them temperance and compassion as adults. Is giving our children the very best of everything really helping them or hindering them? Not to fear; I do not begrudge anyone a happy childhood, but my question to you is; what creates an atmosphere of happiness and contentment? Is it your own room and all the electronica your parents can afford? Does this produce happiness?

Or does the decisiveness of the parents that LIFE IS GOOD, and it's not based on how many toys you have, or what kind of car you drive. The fact that your alive, healthy, and able to help others is what you teach those children, and amazingly, the cycle will continue with their children if you plant the seeds of joy now.
I have never spent one moment happier in better living quarters. But I have had many moments that I realized how happy I am regardless.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Riding The Fence

Do you ever find yourself riding the fence between what you know your supposed to do and what society deems acceptable behavior? I do nearly everyday. Most recently to make my hit list of things I refuse to indulge in: Professional Wrestling.
Now, before you laugh... hear me out. This is just one slight example of how television, marketing, and greed have brainwashed us into accepting something that should be unacceptable.

Watching cable tv, I am stunned at the amount of indecency that has made it's way into our living rooms. I remember 15 years ago when wrestling was an exaggerated form of machismo and acrobatics. There was always a *Dick Dastardly*
type bad guy set up to loose the fight (at the last minute) as children's hero's such as Hulk Hogan flung them against the ropes and pinned them to the ground. Me and my children cheered as The Hulk or any other *good guy* defended their title and paraded around the ring, belt held high over head. Back in the day, that's what little boys did...scream at the tv and talk about who their favorite wrestler's. Mom's just tried to look enthusiastic, clap and cheer when the boys did and nuke another bowl of popcorn.

Those days are history. Not that it was ever a dignified event.... sure, it's cheesy, but when did it become so"porn-like"??? Yes, I know even boxing matches have pretty girls between rounds, but what I saw in 30 seconds or less would have made a sailor blush! Next channel! But the next channel is filled with music videos of young girls gyrating on a pole... next channel: Desperate something or another... Next channel; bloody simulated violence. STOP.

I am all for art, and freedom of expression. But enough is enough. I am stunned when I think that I am 47, and remember when the word *sex* wasn't used on television, and Ricky and Lucy slept in separate beds. Samantha and Darren were *expecting*, and no one needed to see how they arrived in that situation on the 6 previous episodes. Do we really need ALL the details, regardless of how graphic they are? Sitcoms are now making jokes about things that I would get fired for if I discussed them on the job. Why? Because jokes of a sexual nature, in most everyday situations such as work, social events, church, school, etc.. would be considered, even TODAY, as indecent, infringing, and at the very least; tasteless. But apparently television is the exception? We can all gather in our living rooms and have a laugh about things that would otherwise embarass us to no end if we were sitting in an office with our coworkers, or our Sunday School Class, or the PTO Meeting? Isn't that a double standard?

Yes, I know every generation worries about the one after them... but the amount of deception, and vulgarity that everyday America is exposed to is frightening. An entire generation or more is completely desynthesized from what was not too long ago considered obscene. I am not in any way suggesting that sex, in it's rightful place is obscene, no, that is not the case. Sex is beautiful and intimate... an absolute mystery that is never completely unraveled between two people. They spend their whole married lives loving each other as God intended in a delicate physical union, and THAT is beauty at it's finest. Children most often spring forth as a result and the cycle continues. That type of intimacy is often times a way to say to a spouse, what words fail in every detail.

But the way it is minimized, and portrayed in the media to be so meaningless and slight tells me that not very many people care. That it IS becoming as common as light bread, and noone really values it as a loving act between a husband and wife. Very few revere it as sacred anymore. That chills me to the bone.

I am going to get off the fence and stop my bad habit of *channel-flipping*. I am going to memorize the good channels (yes, there are still channels that are not corrupted), and only view what is edifying to my mind and spirit. Maybe just a good book instead? A walk around the block, or a vigorous hoe in the garden? Will you join me? We may just change the world one network at a time.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thinking Ahead; The Golden Years

My Dad is 72 and I don't think of him as *elderly*. He has a very active life and between him and my stepmother, who is a bit younger, they take full time care of my 42 year old brother "Clark", who has Huntingtons Disease.

My Mother-In-Law is 73 and she spends summers with family, she still travels and winters alone in Arizona. I do not think of her as elderly either. She has had a knee replacement and gets around like Mario Andretti from all accounts. She is spunky and happy... but I've seen her ups and downs as she's adjusted from life as a stay at home wife, to selling her home after her husband passed away. It was very difficult, and getting through that kind of transition took a lot of courage. I've always admired her for her "GO GET 'EM" attitude. She makes me realize that life is about living and not about where you live it.

My Grandmother is 93 and yes, she is elderly, but was running a roto-tiller well into her 80's. She still gardens some and has too much spunk to let anyone take care of her. Why, that would be an insult! It helps that her husband (she was widowed), is 20 years younger. Go Grandma! They cut wood and sell it for extra income and I believe although she is pretty well *set* financially, she's no fool. She still strives to bring in some money and save all she can. Thats a lesson learned during The Great Depression, and making do a lot not just because you have to, but because it's the RIGHT thing to do.

My husbands Father is remarried and he is 79, and she is 89. They are entering the elderly stage. It's a fact. Dad is in good health, but is having occasional issues, and Mom's had back and ankle surgery years ago, and neither healed right. She lives in constant pain. Dad is a good caretaker, but who's taking care of him?

All this rambling about my aging loved one makes something crystal clear to me; We are here to serve each other. My husband and I can't always be where we are needed, as family is spread all over the place, but at the same time, we are more than willing to help by offering a home to any of our parents who need it when the time comes.

Our current plans are to expand into our garage and add on new garage along the same roofline, or maybe make a larger shop/garage on our side lot. The new addition will hopefully be plumbed and have a private entrance. This would give us the ability to put a small shower and toilet to accomodate anyone who needs this as private quarters. We must plan ahead and be as prepared as possible. Our home is not huge, but even "as is" would accomadate another person. I just know all my family and they would love a private place where they would feel safe, yet close.

Isn't that my job to give them this as much as possible? How will you prepare for your parents as they age? What can we do to be a servant to them? This question has been on my mind recently and I have come up with a few answers, but mostly; love them with the love of Christ and be there for them. We can't cure an illness, or take away all the pain. But being there to hold their hand and let them know they are loved is the best plan of all.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Aunt Bee's Letting Her Hair Down

I watched some old black and white episodes of Mayberry RFD this weekend and was thrilled that Frances Bavier, aka; Aunt Bee allowed herself to be filmed with her hair down.
The scene called for it, since she had been rudely awakened in the middle of the night by Gomer.

This is how I remember my grandmothers hair. It was an incredibly nostalgic moment for me. I remembered brushing out Nanny's hair at night, and it was very long, and thick, almost white with a few remaining threads of dark hair remaining.
As a child, I dreamed of the day when I could be a grandmother and pass that same memory on to my grandchildren. At age 7 I was imagining me with long white locks, and granddaughters standing behind me brushing it out methodically. I also had round specticals and an apron on, for effect.
Funny, how history repeats itself. My hair isn't very gray, but it is getting long. I love aprons and have worn glasses for 20 years.
I was also impressed with the church-scene where Andy, Opie and Aunt Bee are all at church, and I noticed every woman had their head covered. Has it been THAT long ago? Perhaps.
I personally love hats, and where them often, whether to church or any place else.
It's every bit as much a covering as a veil in my opinion. If it weren't, why don't men where them in church?
Well, it's nice to be able to look back at life through the rose colored glasses of Mayberry.
Food for thought.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Definitions And Busy-Bodies

People who really know me well, know that I don't pretend to be *plain* in the most literal sense of the word. However, people who I encounter routinely, such as; neighbors, the mail-man, coworkers, etc.. would describe me as very conservative, and somewhat religious, especially my mail-man, since he see's all the Christian literature I subscribe to. But he's a nice guy and doesn't give me a hard time:-)
I have many *Plain* Anabaptist friends, because this is where my journey has led me. They all pretty much accept this as fact: "It is what it is".
So I'll get directly to the point: Some people need to mind their own business. There are people on the internet who like to pose as *plain*, and have a pretty harsh opinion of anyone who doesn't measure up to their standards. They may wear a covering, or suspenders, given the gender, and belong to 30 different plain groups. But the problem is; that doesn't make them a Christian. That's a heart issue. And meddling in other peoples affairs is only an open admission to a serious character flaw.
There are also people I have gotten to know over the internet that I've become very fond of over the years. Some genuinely know me. I am who I am. I have vascilated over the years as I have tried to find my *happy place* with God, and who hasn't? I have also spent too much time trying to please people, verses God.
Please pray for all the lonely people who have nothing better to do than judge people who post innocently on Yahoo Groups, Myspace & Facebook. It seems that once someone figures out what 1 Corinthains 11, & Titus 2 is about, many make a mission in life to show others their superior knowledge and condemn anyone who second guesses themselves or the advice given, ad nauseum, of those who have been enlightened.
How is that making the Love Of Christ attractive to seekers?

I am amazed that lonely, bitter people gravitate towards such dark, negative behavior, when there is a heavenly bounty of love just waiting to be poured upon them for simply loving thy neighbor.

And although I have blogged about this numerous times, I am still confused as to why people feel the need to monitor other people on the internet, let alone have very, very strong opinions about those who may not be led in the same direction?
I understand perfection. I understand Godliness, but not everyone is lead in the same direction at the same time. People are flawed! (Another blog, another time), and God uses those flaws to bring us to His throne, when we bend our will to His. However, you can look Godly on the outside, and still not be Godly on the inside.
What happened to "Get thee behind me satan?" Why do we not control our impulses just as we are biblically instructed? (Or at least try?)
Before we point a finger, lets remember we all fall short...
In Christ,