Ramblings

Life, family, business


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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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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?

 


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Disconnecting From the Chaos

I’ve been accused of being a cell phone addict.  It bothers me if I get to work and realize I left it at home.  I don’t drive anywhere without it.  I take it with me in the garden, on walks, while shopping.  I don’t take it to bed though, I’m too light of a sleeper, and every notification ping wakes me up.

I own a small business, and during the hours we’re open, I feel the need to have it on, in case the person working has a question or needs help, or just needs to tell me something important. I feel the need to keep the communication lines open.  Plus, if there was a family emergency, I’d want to be able to be contacted even if I wasn’t in the house. (Yes, I still have a landline!)

When I got my last phone, I realized that it has an option to tag certain numbers to get through, even if I turn off notifications for everyone else.  Its the “Do Not Disturb” feature, and its making my life much more peaceful.

I can set it for a certain time each day, to turn on and turn off.  I can choose who can call me or message me when its on, and for those not on the list, I can read their messages later when its off.  Its so awesome!  There’s nothing worse than trying to meditate, or even just relax, and the phone keeps making noise.  Its such a bothersome little fellow!

Our lives have really become too interwoven into the social media storm that is the reality of life now days.  Everyone expects instant replies to messages.  But that’s your choice.  You have to make the decision when to be available, and when you just need time for yourself.  Its good to have time for yourself, time to think, time to ponder the meaning of life and the Universe.  Its good to disconnect and spend time in nature, in quiet, and in peace.  And there’s no peace when you’re cellphone keeps dinging all day.

For me, this way of staying “on-grid” for my family and employees is great.  I know that when my phone alerts me to something, its from one of them.  I know I can relax, sit by the bonfire, spend time with my family, and not have to worry about what is trending on Twitter, or how many people liked my Facebook post from yesterday, or who repinned my pin on Pintrest.

How do you disconnect without being completely disconnected?  I’d love to hear about it!


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Decisions, decisions

It seems like there is always someone who wants to tell you what to do.  Some people really think they know what’s best for you, regardless of what you think.  Some people even feel entitled to go around telling others what they should or shouldn’t do, and actually expect people to listen!

The really sad part of this is that sometimes we actually do let other people tell us what to do!  Why would we do that?  Why do we care what other people think of us enough to let them determine the course of our lives?

Sometimes, life gets hard. We need to make decisions, and that can be hard too. What if we do the wrong thing?  Pick the wrong job? Buy the wrong house? We stress over what to do, and sometimes, when we aren’t sure what we should do, we let others tell us what to do.

But I ask you this: what if you do the right things? Pick the right job? Buy the right house?

There are so many possibilities in life, and we need to be able to consciously choose our own paths in life.  Living the life someone else picks for you will never be fulfilling.  Each of us has to pick for ourselves.

If you really have a hard time making decisions, I find the best way to get started is to make a list of pros, the things that are positive about each choice, and a list of cons, the things that are negative about each choice. Once you have done this, read over what you wrote. Listen to your heart, listen to your gut, what is your body telling you? What is your heart telling you? Do any of these choices feel more “right” than the others?

And if you still really can’t decide on one that seems better, just pick one.  What’s the worst thing that could happen? You’ll learn something.  You’ll get life experience.  You’ll find out what you don’t like.  Then, pick something else.  Find a different job.  Sell that house and buy something different.  Very few choices in life are permanent, but some are, and you should really think about that tattoo before you get it!  Some choices we make may not fit us as we get older and more mature, and that’s okay.  That’s how life works.  We live, and we learn. We learn, and we make better choices the next time around if we are growing and learning from our mistakes.  And we all make mistakes.  Its part of being human, and its part of living.

Living your own life is the only way you will ever be happy, the only way you can grow. Every one of us needs to grow in order to feel alive.  Don’t stifle yourself by doing what someone else thinks you should do, make your own decisions, follow your heart. You can do this!


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Goals for 2017

What are goals?  What’s the difference between a goal and a resolution?

A goal is something you’re working toward, something you want.  But a resolution can be any kind of change you plan on implementing in your life.  I’m going to be honest here and tell you that I’m not very good at resolutions.  I did make one last year, and I think I did pretty well.  My resolution was to stop procrastinating my book work, and have it caught up all the time.  I slipped a bit at the end of the year, but for the most part, I feel I did well.  I have made it a habit to get it done, and that makes all the difference.  Changing your habits is how you change your life.

But this year, I felt I needed goals.  I want something to work towards, something to give me the motivation to work hard, to be all I can be.  I sat with my journal, and really couldn’t come up with much.  In fact, it made me more frustrated the longer I pondered.  Here’s what I ended up writing:

What are goals anyway?  Is it just a wishlist of things to get done? A master plan for life? What if I don’t know what my goals are yet? What if I enjoy living life by the seat of my pants?

I don’t know what this life will bring-what this year will bring. How do I set goals in a place with no certainty? How does one set goals in a game with no rules?

If my goals are simply the ways I hope to change myself for the better, then aren’t they actually aspirations?

Can I choose the goal of having such a great life that I don’t need any goals? Can I trust the God of the Universe enough to stay motivated without having any said goals other than to just be myself?

I think that’s my true goal, to just be myself.  No more worrying about the opinions of other people, because truly, they don’t matter.  No more worrying about if what I said was taken the wrong way, or not understood correctly.  No more worrying about hurting other people’s feelings, especially when they aren’t worried about hurting mine.  Perhaps worrying is the thing I need to get rid of.  All right, so I’ll be my true self, and stop worrying.  There.  Its set.  Happy 2017!


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Every Single Person Matters and Why Fear is Killing Us

I do believe that this is true, every single person matters, to someone.  Every person is a mother, father, son, daughter, niece, nephew, friend, or loved one.  Every one of us matters to someone.

I see the hatred and racism, I hear it talked about at my store, on the news, and all over Facebook.  People categorize and generalize, and group people into labels.  But each of those people matters.  Every one of us is a child of God, and a child of the Earth, and a child of two other people.  Every one of those lives has a purpose, has a reason.  Each one of those lives has been given a different set of talents, unique to that person, and they should have the opportunity to use them.

I know not all of us are the same religion, but that shouldn’t mean we can’t cooperate and learn together how to make this planet a better world for all of us.  We’re not all the same color, but that shouldn’t make any difference; the color of one’s skin doesn’t make them any better or any less of a person.  WE ALL MATTER!

But the power behind all of this nonsense, is FEAR.  When we fear other people because of their color or their religion, or even their sexual preference, we are the losing team.  God tells us to fear no man.  But we do, we fear all kinds of things, but mostly, we fear anything different than us.  We fear the differences in culture, in language, and in morals.  We fear that someone will try to make us change, and we fear change of any kind.

But the world is changing every minute, every second.  The world changes and we change too, even if we’re afraid.  I am not the person I was 40 years ago, 4 years ago, 4 days ago.  My experiences in life change me every day.  I learn new things everyday, and by learning those things, I am a different person, a wiser person.  I go out of my way to learn about people and their cultures.  I learn about them, their families, their hopes and dreams, and their own fears.

Education is the key to stop FEAR in its tracks.  The more you know about something, the harder it is for you fear it. I have friends and relatives who are gay, transgender, straight, black, brown, yellow, red, white, and even pink. I have friends and relatives who are Atheist,  Christian, Muslim, Pagan, and even a couple who are witches. I don’t fear my friends, I want them to be happy and have joy and fullness in their lives.  I want them to feel love and be loved, just as I want that for myself.  I want them to be accepted for who they are, without feeling any type of oppression or fear from others or for others.

I challenge everyone to learn about the people who scare you.  Before you stereotype a person into a label that you fear, try to meet them, befriend them.  “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, as Jesus once said, because once you start praying for them, they are no longer enemies, perhaps only friends you haven’t met yet.  If we all work together, we can make this world, this country, this state, a better place; a place where all lives truly do matter.  A place where we build each other up, look out for each other, and try to help each other understand why there should be no fear here.  We are all brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and children.  We are all in this world together.  What a beautiful place it could be if we saw each person for who they truly are, if we could see their lives as valuable, just as we value our own.  Each of us has value, each of us has a unique soul, and each of us has a worth.  We just need to open our eyes and see that we are all the same, yet we are all different, and that is why each of us, each single life, matters.