Ramblings

Life, family, business


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Where Did I Come From?

I’m reading an amazing book called “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  Someone in my Master Gardening group recommended it, and I’m so glad I decided to buy it.  The author is a master of weaving words, and poetic descriptions.  Its a beautiful masterpiece of words and thoughts, and teaching and history.  I hope you decide to read it too.

In reading the history of the author’s Native upbringing, and her quest to find her true self, I found myself questioning my ancestral status as well.  Who are my people?  I’m a mix of many.  And I was fortunate enough to have grow up with grandparents nearby.  I grew up with their stories. But what about the ones before them?  How much of me is environmental, and how much is genetics?

The field of epigenetics is fascinating.  The whole world is fascinating.  I have always been that curious child, wanting to know how everything works.  And why?  And how? How does a monarch butterfly, hatched from a tiny egg in North Dakota, know where it should go in Mexico when it migrates?  And how does any being migrate in the first place?  The herds of caribou?  The birds and insects?  How do they know when to go? Or where to go? How do they all join up and head out together, even if they live more solitary lives otherwise?  Fascinating, but I want to know.

Why do children in one family all look very similar, but the children in a different family look nothing alike, even though they have the same parents?  Why is gene expression so vastly different in one family versus another?

I always felt I was born into the wrong family.  So many times my questions were answered with, “Because that’s the way God made it.”  That was also my cue to stop asking.  But I couldn’t stop thinking about those ideas, and wanting to know the answers.  My parents bought me a set of encyclopedias when I was a child.  I read them all.  But back in the 80’s, they didn’t have all the answers to my questions.  They still don’t, all these years later, but they do have guesses.

Where does my never ending thirst for knowledge come from? Was there an ancestor who always questioned everything?  Who wanted to know how everything works and why?

How many of my ancestors loved animals and taking care of them?  Did any of my Viking tribe keep pets?  Maybe a big hawk or a falcon? Maybe the Germans? Or the Bohemians? Ancestry.com told me what my crazy mix was, and I was surprised how many different places my DNA came from, including a very small splash of Native American and Southeastern Asian.  My blonde hair, green eyes, and fair complexion wouldn’t have you guessing many of those.

I look a lot like my German grandfather, but my paternal Norwegian grandmother always told me how much I reminded her of her mother.  I have no memory of ever meeting great-grandma Mary, who died the summer before I turned 4 years old.  However, her hand-sewed quilt hangs on my living room wall; one of my most treasured possessions. I also enjoy quilting, but I like making the tops, not so much the finishing.  Turns out, Mary was the same way, and had many quilt tops left unfinished.  The one I have was actually finished by my mother, as it was made for my dad.  That gives it a little more history and love, and those roots and connections grow it even deeper into my heart.

The similarities don’t end there though.  Mary loved her garden and her chickens.  I am a Master Gardener with a flock of 16 pet chickens.  But Grandma said my personality was much like Mary’s.  I’m a happy-go-lucky soul with a huge imagination. I love laughing and joking around with people.  I am an optimist, a true optimistic realist.  I truly believe in the potential of humanity. I believe that most people are more good than bad. I believe that all people are deserving of the same rights, and love, and help; with no regard to their color, sexuality, shape, or background.  I truly believe that God made each one of us to be someone with a passion, with a mission, and with a heart made of love.

What are some of your traits?  What are the things you would love to know about your family tree?  Who do you take after, if you know?  Are you a curious person too?  I’d love to know!

 

 


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Sermon for 3-11-18 The Grower

The Bible begins with the story of creation,  God is the creator of all things, and the method used is amazing.  God speaks and things happen.  God says, “It will be so”, and it is, because God can’t lie.  Can you imagine how absolutely perfect God needs to be for this to not end up in a catastrophe? I think of the things that I say sometimes, sometimes out of habit, sometimes out of anger or pettiness.  Sometimes I catch myself complaining or finishing “I wish” with something that’s not truly best for me or for those around me.

Colossians 4:6
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

The words we say are so important.  Luckily we don’t have that same power that God has.  I converse with people quite a bit at the store each day.  I try to be positive, working toward the greater good of our community.  Some of the conversations are wonderful, but some make me cringe.  I can’t help but overhear quite a few conversations too. Sometimes , if they get too crazy, I’ll turn on the nature sounds CD on my laptop and drown out the noise.  Sometimes I can only thank God that I have paperwork to do!

One of the things I enjoy talking about the most is gardening, and growing food.  I’m a volunteer Master Gardener with the NDSU extension service, which anyone who knows me already knows.  I love growing plants, they amaze me.  They generally start from a seed, sometimes a tiny small seed sometimes a big seed depending on the plant. But somehow, contained in that seed, are the blueprints and the nutrients, and all the stuff it takes to make life happen.

But even though that seed has everything it needs in it, it won’t grow until it gets the proper place, time, and set of circumstances.  There is a certain signal that prompts that seed to sprout.  As a gardener, I try to replicate that signal, I try to give the seeds everything they need to start that process of sprouting.  Many seeds are easy to sprout, but others take extra circumstances.  Some seeds need to be left outside in the cold all winter before they will sprout.  Some seeds need to be burned in a fire before they will hear their signal that its time.  And others need to pass through the digestive tract of a bird or animal before the hard outer shell is dissolved, and the seed can begin its journey.

People are like seeds.  We all need the proper set of circumstances to truly grow.  Its one thing to be alive and occupy space, but its another thing to truly live life and continue to learn and grow and share ourselves with others.  Some of us seem to thrive right off the bat. Others need time, and space, and some extra help. Some of us need a big push to leave our comfort zone and reach out to others, while other people seem to live as though the whole world is their comfort zone.  Some people need to get burned by life, or frozen in their tracks, or even be consumed by something that seems to be the end of the line, before they are able to truly grow in life.

Many of us are born, or planted, in the same set of circumstances, yet the result of our lives can be very different.  There are things that stunt the life and growth of plants, just as there are things that will stunt human growth too.  There are pests and diseases in both plants and people, some can be cured, and some cannot. In 1 Corinthians 3: 6-9, Paul tell us “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.  For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”  

One of the stories from Jesus is the parable of the sower from Mark, chapter 4. “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word.15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

If you put a plant that needs a lot of sun in a shady location, that plant will never reach its full potential.  It won’t get as big, and it may not bloom or produce fruit.  However if you place a shade loving plant in an area that receives full sun, it will probably burn up and die.  We are like that too.  If you stifle someone’s ability to grow and improve and learn, they will never reach their full potential.  They may never bloom or produce the fruit that God wants us to produce.  But give that same person the opportunities and tools they need, and they may grow so much you’ll barely recognize them!  There are some people who love to work behind the scenes, if you thrust them into the spotlight, you may lose them forever.  We all have different personalities that demand different scenarios for life.  There is only one “one size fits all” model that actually works for all of us.  And that model, is the life we have in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

During Lent, we remember the great sacrifice that Jesus made for us, and then we celebrate the great triumph of Jesus rising from the grave.  The death and resurrection of Jesus fulfilled the Law, and then Jesus gave us his New Covenant.  The wonderful thing about this New Covenant is that this is where we Gentiles are invited to be the children of God.  Before this, we were not invited to the table.  We had no chance to grow.  The Bible says that we are the wild vine that has been grafted onto the tree of life.  I’ve grafted a few trees in my life, and here’s the crazy part; you have to cut off part of the tree in order to graft another piece onto it.  Another piece of that tree was cut off, or broken off, in order for us to be attached to it.  Romans 11 tells us that those branches were broken off due to unbelief.  So if we also suffer from unbelief, we can be broken off as well. God can graft as many branches as he wants onto his tree.  He can offer forgiveness and mercy to anyone he chooses.  The people of Israel were God’s chosen people, but He didn’t offer his son up for just them, he offered up this sacrifice for us all.  As Gentiles, we were never included in the Law of the Old Testament.  That’s why the Laws from the Old Testament do not apply to us.  We have only ever had the New Covenant.  Large portions of the Paul’s writings are aimed at telling the Jewish people that they cannot keep both covenants.  Since a covenant is a contract, you are under one or the other, you cannot have both.  Some people want to keep parts of the old law in place, some of us have been misled into believing that we must.  Paul tells us specifically that the old law, the old contract, is over.

Imagine if you will, that you have a loan contract with a bank.  You purchased a new car and are paying payments on the car.  Once the payments are paid in full and on time, the contract is done and you own the car out right.  Would you keep sending the bank a car payment each month?  Of course not!  The contract is done, its finished.  So why would any of us try to keep working on a contract from God that is finished?  Its a contract we were never offered in the first place.  Your name isn’t even on it!

Instead our name is on the contract that tells us to love God, and to love each other. God says that the work of Jesus is finished.  Its done.  When he died on the cross and rose again, we were included in the most amazing deal in the history of the earth, we are to be called children of the most high God.  So even though our roots were not from that tree, we have been grafted onto it and receive our nutrients from the roots of the tree of life.

Now we are called to go out and testify to the love and mercy of our Creator.  We are to go out and proclaims God’s greatness.  We are to replicate his love by showing love and mercy to others.  We have been called by the Most-High God to be the hands and feet, to be the mouth and the voice of Jesus.  We are called to be the keepers of the kingdom.

I pray then, that we all hear our calling and rise up to the challenge of producing the fruit that God wants us to bear.  May we love God above all, and love each other as God loves us. Amen.

 

 

 


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Christmas is for Kids

As an adult, I have realized that Christmas just isn’t as good as it used to be.

Every store gleamed with the hopes of what Santa might bring. Every aisle littered with toys, books, new clothes and shoes.  In a family where gifts were limited to holidays only, the anticipation of, the perception of unlimited possibilities, was sheer joy and excitement.  What would Santa bring?

The fun of picking out a gift for Grandma, for Grandpa, and wanting it to be perfect, was thrilling.  The baking, the ability to eat Christmas goodies for a month without gaining an ounce of fat was amazing, even if I didn’t realize it at the time.  And Mom baked, and both grandmas baked, my aunts baked, and I ate.  I ate and ate and ate.  And it was good.

In school we practiced for concerts, and we sang our hearts out.  We sang at church and practiced for our programs there. And the moms and grandmas baked, and we all ate.

Christmas Eve was always spent at Grandma’s house.  Santa even knew it, and dropped our gifts off there.  The stench of lutefisk permeated the whole apartment building, but I knew there was always a turkey for those of us unwilling to partake.

I used try to get my kids to clean out their toy boxes and closets so they will be able to fit all their new things inside.   I baked, and they baked, and we ate. My son, the baker, baked the most, and probably ate the most too.  We had fun.  We wrapped and packed and shopped and argued, and it was good.

We all run.  We run from one thing to the next. We drive to the store, and try to find a gift for someone who doesn’t need anything.  We wrap, we pack, we order online because the stores are too packed with people. We cuss at the person who took our parking spot. It can be stressful.

We stress over trying to make everything fun, for the kids.  Because the magic of Christmas works best for those who believe in magic.  And Christmas, the material commercial Christmas, is for kids.

 

 

 

 


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Dogs and God, and Us

I share my home with three dogs, two cats, a conure parrot, and of course, my dear husband.  The dogs are so much fun, and can be a challenge as well.

Kelly is an 11 year old Setter that we brought home almost two years ago when her owner was in a terrible car accident and would be in the hospital for half a year.  Bo is our purebred yellow lab puppy, almost 7 months old, that we purchased, because we were denied adopting since Kelly was never spayed.  And Jersey is a 6 month old puppy we got about 3 weeks ago, from a friend who couldn’t keep her, and she is the new kid on the block.  All three are house dogs, although Kelly lived outdoors for the 9 years before she came home with us.

There is always plenty of food for our dogs.  No one ever goes hungry. We monitor them as they eat to make sure that they each get their own food.  One day I noticed Jersey was hesitant to come to her food bowl.  I moved it to the other side of the room, and she proceeded to eat.  Kelly gave her a growl and started toward her.  Jersey ran to the living room.  I told Kelly, “No.  Its Jersey’s food.  You are not allowed to take away what you didn’t give.”  I brought Kelly back to her dish, and coaxed Jersey back to hers.  I stood by Jersey while she ate, and for the next few days to make sure this didn’t happen again. (I always talk to my pets as though they are humans who understand everything I say.)

But as I stood by Jersey, I thought about what I said.  You are not allowed to take away what you didn’t give.”  For some reason, it really struck me.  I thought about humanity, and how so many people are trying to do this all the time.

Why are people trying to take away things from others that they did not give them?  If I look at the teachings of the Bible, I see that oppression is a recurring theme in the things that God tells us NOT to do.

God tells us over and over again that oppression is wrong.

Psalm 9:9   “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”

Proverbs 14:31  “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.”

Zechariah 7:10  “Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”

Jeremiah 5:25-29  “ Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have kept good from you. For wicked men are found among my people; they lurk like fowlers lying in wait.  They set a trap; they catch men. Like a cage full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich; they have grown fat and sleek. They know no bounds in deeds of evil; they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper,  and they do not defend the rights of the needy.  ‘Shall I not punish them for these things?’ declares the Lord, ‘and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?’”

Whoa!  That last one!  It makes me think of religion and politics, and how these evil men, these wicked souls, have turned so many away from the words of Jesus.  How many so called Christians do you know who have been lured into this deceit?  By reading the red letters in the Bible; you know, the words of Jesus; we can see that much of American “Christianity” is not Christian at all.  It is no longer following the words of Jesus.  This American Christianity does not follow Jesus at all.  Instead, it operates on fear.  It’s trying to make us afraid.  It wants you be afraid of anyone who is not like you.  It wants you to be afraid that someone is going to steal your money and your privilege, and all the other treasures you have hoarded here on earth.

But God tells us to not fear over 80 times in the Bible.  Fear is the tool of evil.  If your religion is all about fear, then it is not following God.  If your church tells you to fear everything, then it does not preach the words of God.  Inciting fear in God’s people is how many so called religious leaders try to control and exploit their followers.  By doing this, they have become rich.  Look around! How many mega-million preachers are there?  Everyone of them should be ashamed.

But they are not allowed to take away what they didn’t give.  When God gives us rules and guidelines, who are these people to try to convince us that they know better than God?  They try to take away our faith, our hope, and our promise from God that He will take care of us, that He will prosper us and give us hope, and a future.  He also has a stern warning for those people in Matthew 25:41-46:  “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,  I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’  Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’  Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

So, who are you going to fear?  Man?  Our rich politicians who are following their own made-up religion centered around money?  Or God?  You see, God made you.  God is one who gave you everything.  And He who gives, can also take away.  For naked you came from your mother’s womb, and naked you shall return.  The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

 

Thank you to Bible Gateway for the Bible verses I cut and pasted, all in ESV.

 


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Worship is Like Gardening

Here is my writing that was published in The Moravian Magazine.  The poem at the end is from this blog, but was also included.  

One of the things I enjoy the most is gardening, and growing food.  I’m a volunteer Master Gardener with the NDSU Extension Service.  I love growing plants, they amaze me.  They generally start from a seed, sometimes a tiny small seed, sometimes a big seed, depending on the plant. But somehow, contained in that seed, are the blueprints and the nutrients, and all the stuff it takes to make life happen.

But even though that seed has everything it needs in it, it won’t grow until it gets the proper place, time, and set of circumstances.  There is a certain signal that prompts that seed to sprout.  As a gardener, I try to replicate that signal, I try to give the seeds everything they need to start that process of sprouting.  Many seeds are easy to sprout, but others take extra circumstances.  Some seeds need to be left outside in the cold all winter before they will sprout.  Some seeds need to be burned in a fire before they will hear their signal that its time.  And others need to pass through the digestive tract of a bird or animal before the hard outer shell is dissolved, and the seed can begin its journey.

People are like seeds.  We all need the proper set of circumstances to truly grow.  Its one thing to be alive and occupy space, but its another thing to truly live life and continue to learn and grow and share ourselves with others.  Some of us seem to thrive right off the bat. Others need time, and space, and some extra help. Some of us need a big push to leave our comfort zone and reach out to others, while other people seem to live as though the whole world is their oyster.  Some people need to get burned by life, or frozen in their tracks, or even be consumed by something that seems to be the end of the line, before they are able to truly grow in life.

Many of us are born, or planted, in the same set of circumstances, yet the result of our lives can be very different.  There are things that stunt the life and growth of plants, just as there are things that will stunt human growth too.   In 1Corinthians 3: 6-9 (NIV), Paul tell us “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.  For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”  

If you put a plant that needs a lot of sun in a shady location, that plant will never reach its full potential.  It won’t get as big, and it may not bloom or produce fruit.  However, if you place a shade loving plant in an area that receives full sun, it will probably burn up and die.  We are like that too.  If you stifle someone’s ability to grow and improve and learn, they will never reach their full potential.  They may never bloom or produce the fruit that God wants us to produce.  But give that same person the opportunities and tools they need, and they may grow so much you’ll barely recognize them!  There are some people who love to work behind the scenes, if you thrust them into the spotlight, you may lose them forever.  We all have different personalities that demand different scenarios for life, just like each plant has certain requirements for it to grow as well.  I think that God gives each one of us a talent, a passion, or a cause that we can use to glorify God.  Just like every plant in the garden has a purpose, every person in our churches has a purpose too.  We need to encourage each other to grow and use those talents for the greater good of our communities.

There’s nothing better than talking to God in my garden.  I can spend hours just being thankful for everything that God has not only given me personally, but everything He has given us all.  I contemplate things I have read; blogs and personal stories, and ask God how this is relevant to my life, and our lives in the Church.  How can I be a blessing  to others?  I feel called to help feed people.  I grow as much food as I possibly can in my half acre yard.  I grow for my husband and I, our adult children, and their friends and family.  I grow for my friends and neighbors, and I grow for the local Emergency Food Pantry.  Our Master Gardening group picks up and donates produce all summer, and that makes me feel like God is using me to bless others. For I was hungry and you fed me.  Some people don’t know how to grow food, some people live in apartments where they don’t have the space.  But I have a garden, and I have a dream to grow more every year; to have more to give away every season.

 

THE SONG OF SPRING

As the sun gains strength and holds its head boldly in the sky,

The sheets of white slowly melt, dripping their nutrients into the soil beneath.

The skeletons of trees form new buds, and tiny fragile shoots sprout forth from the ground.

The beautiful melody of birdsong grows into a glorious choir.

Soft, gentle breezes blow into hurricane force winds,

Bringing the warmth, and blowing away the old,

The dead,

The paper thin husks of last year’s bounty, shriveled into nothing.

Rebirth, the earth renews her fresh bouquet,

Her glamorous green wardrobe that feeds her children.

Such is the entrance of spring-

God’s glorious garden.

We helpers rejoice, wanting nothing more

Than to feel the living soil in our hands.

The seeds that wait patiently under the ground for the sun to shine on them,

And tell them that it’s time,

It’s time to begin anew.

They also rejoice and grow heartily, singing praises to heaven.

The flowers will open, they will bear fruit, and it will be good,

Just as God intended.

For the Earth sings for her Creator, and we are invited

To sing harmony.

 

 


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The Tall, Tall Trees

The forest.

Subdued, quiet, peaceful.

The birds sing their songs from the highest branches of the tall, tall trees.

The rain runs down the bark,

deep veins covered in moss and lichen.

The leaves allow some raindrops through,

here and there,

it splashes my upturned face.

They stand;

timeless.

Soldiers standing guard to some magical place,

a place we cannot see.

The patterned beats of the rain hitting the leaves

create a rhythm, my footsteps add to the song.

The bark is now soaked, the moss slippery.

Rainwater runs on the ground creating mud,

as it slips down into the roots,

a deserved drink to quench the thirst

of these soldiers.

These guards.

These giants who seem to make time stand still.

 

 

 

 

 


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Pushy People

There are certain things that people do that I just don’t understand. One of those things is trying to control what other people do. Yes, we have rules and they are there for good reason. You should always stop at a stop sign, don’t take other people’s things, and don’t hurt other people on purpose.
But when other people try to tell you what to think, how to feel, or what to do with your life, I don’t get it. Why do other people think they know how you should live your life better than you? Why do others think they have any authority over another person?

I feel that so many people feel entitled.  That’s right, entitled to think that their opinion should matter to everyone; that somehow they are smarter than you and everyone else.  The biggest problem I have with this, is when that person is a close-minded person.  You’ve probably heard the saying, “Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one”. It should be no surprise then, when others do not share the same opinion as you.

If you don’t like something, then don’t do it.  Don’t think that anyone else cares that you don’t like it.

If someone’s lifestyle makes you uncomfortable, then just leave them be.  Most people have enough to deal with, leave them alone.

If someone else has a different faith than you do, leave them alone and go about your own business.  They probably think the same about you.

If you don’t like the way someone dresses, then don’t dress that way yourself.  You’re not a fashionista, get over it.

I have a problem with the “holier than thou” attitude I see so much of in today’s society.  You’re no better than anyone else. Get off your high horse long enough to see that you’re just on the merry go round of life.  We all are.

I can’t stand oppression.  I just can’t.  I  don’t understand it. Most of the people screaming on their soapboxes can’t even keep their own lives straight, yet they feel that everyone should listen and do what they think is right.  They try to keep other people down, they don’t want to see anyone else happy or successful.

Every one of us has a truly unique life and each of us gets to live that life the way we see fit.  Some of us have more difficult lives than others it seems, but each of us is fighting our own battle.  We each have our own demons to face down and kill for us to grow.  Some people seem to be handed everything, yet are unhappy.  And sometimes those who struggle for everything are the happiest people.  Its all up to each of us how we live our lives.  And if you don’t like how others are doing it, then just live your own life and stop worrying about everyone else’s.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.  Just think of how much nicer this world would be if we still believed in this.  But in our current world of internet trolling and bullying, its hard to imagine.  Its so easy for everyone to hide behind their computer and type out crazy things they would never actually say to someone’s face.  So perhaps for our day and age, we need to change it.  Perhaps now we need to say “If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t type it in the comments section.”  What do you think?