Sharing Is Caring

Sharing is Caring

Sharing Is Caring

I have been reading and listening and contemplating many of the discussion outlets and forums concerned with the Affordable Care Act.  Arguments are all over the map.  Passions for and against are high and all parties seem unequivically solid in their conviction about the good or bad of the new healthcare law.  Common ground is extremely rare in many of these discussions, but I want to point out that sharing is caring and that is what we should be about as an evolved and compassionate society.

What seems to be missing from many of the discussions I have seen is compassion, compassion for the guy or gal next door, the single parent, the child of that single parent and so on.  There doesn’t seem to be much room for inclusion of the least among us these last days.  The discussion always seems to center on an objection to paying for something that doesn’t directly benefit me…the individual.

I was listening to a radio discussion on the Diane Rehms show on NPR and they were talking about how many people were upset about having to buy a healthcare policy that included benefits not directly related to them or their condition, i.e. a guy having to buy a policy that covers child birth.  I can understand the confusion but I think the point is being missed.  United we stand but divided we fall remember and sharing is caring in my book.  Having compassion for someone other than yourself is what I deem a signature facet of a superior society.  It’s the healthy society that survives the longest and when we get to the point where we only think about what’s in it for me, well then we’re on our way to oblivion.

I believe we are stronger when we consider the whole and not just the individual.  I believe we are most ready to stand the tests of time as a society, as a species, if we ensure that there is no weak link in our chain of humanity.  So yes, it may cost more to buy a healthcare plan but in the long run it is actually cheaper for the whole of society because it’s always been easier to stop the bleeding when a pin prick is all we have to deal with vice a severed artery.  When we don’t take care of the least among us, we will over time have to tend to those who have been gravely wounded via neglect at grave cost, a cost that could have and should been avoided.  In today’s world can we really afford to not care about one another?

Personally, I would just like to give the new healthcare law some time.  The program website certainly needs some major help but I’m an optomist.  I believe it will get fixed and eventually we will all see some good results, results that will benefit the whole and not just the individual.  Sharing is caring and that is a joyous message that we might want to remember especially during these holidays.

Cancel that Date with Hate

Cancel the Hate 4Cancel the Date with Hate

So what do you do when faced with someone under the influence, the influence of hate? I say Cancel that Date with Hate. There is nothing written in any book, in any song, in any form whatsoever, that mandates that you have to subject your life spirit to hate’s poison. We sometimes are faced with so much hatred, so much bitterness, so much anguish and turmoil that our spirit driven lives get bogged down, even sullied occasionally.  We can sometimes inadvertently become magnets to such negative energy when we ourselves start to wear clothing not meant for us, when we discard the whole armor of God.

During this very political season and the one to follow, you will see the enemy’s horns more and more and in almost every place you look.  Reading through various social media sites it’s very easy to spot.  People don’t really discuss the pro and cons of a thing, they just scream blindly at one another, casting disparaging remarks upon one another, using the vilest of language and the anonymity of the Internet as a cover.  And if you dare to step in, participate, comment from a corner tempered in reason, you will certainly experience the hatred first hand.  I think because of the anonymity of the Internet, people are emboldened to be as rude as possible, as hurtful as possible, and spew as much hate laced hyperbole around as possible.

But the Internet isn’t the only medium where this red devil shows its tail.  You see it on the highways and byways, the street corners and office spaces we encounter in our daily grind.  It’s the whispers and the mean spirited comments that are spoken when speakers think no one is listening.  You see it even on the play grounds and classrooms all across America.  It’s unavoidable as long as one draws breath. The longer one is exposed to so much negative energy, the more likely they will lose focus on that which is good, on true life, on the promises that lie ahead.  So I say Cancel that Date with Hate.  Let someone else take up that dance card.

What do you do when the enemy attempts to destroy you, belittle you, and push you down into submission?  This after all is one of hates many objectives.  Some might say you punch him in the nose and teach him not to mess with you!  How many bullied children do you think that actually works for?  How many little guys, when faced with a towering pile of fat, muscle and intimidation, rise up, cock back and launch a haymaker smack into the nose of their antagonist?  Odds are that there are very, very few that do and succeed.  Why?  Human nature?  Fight or flight instincts?  Common sense?  All of the above?  So if the little guy does go on the offensive, the majority of the time he…or she is going to get their clock punched because the bully normally has the numbers and the size and the experience.  Whenever this tactic does work it’s because of the element of complete surprise and timing.  So how then do you Cancel that Date with Hate?

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Easy.  The Word of God says that if we resist the devil he will flee from us (James 4:6-8).  Does this mean that we lay hands and fight the devil?  Is this what is meant by resistance?  Not necessarily.  You resist by refusing to participate in those activities that enrich the enemy.  When you submit your life to God you are resisting the enemy.  When you draw closer to God, He comes closer to you (James 4:7).  Darkness will never be able to overcome light, never has and never will (John 1:5).  The enemy cannot withstand the presence of God in your life.  There will always be an over balance and overabundance of power in you when God is in you…and the enemy knows this (I John 4:4).  The bully may be a roaring lion but that is all that he is.  He knows his end and you must remind yourself of that elegant truth as well.

But how exactly do I Cancel the Date with Hate?  Hatred is one of those emotions that craves company.  So practice resisting the enemy by walking with the Lord and steer clear of those filled with hate.  Don’t participate, don’t engage, don’t touch and agree on statements of hate, and don’t even walk in the same paths as those that revel in hate’s toxic atmosphere.  Don’t be drawn in.  In other words don’t expose your goodness to darkness (Matthew 7:6), don’t lay down your integrity or your good name.  The playground bully can’t be a bully if there is no one to bully.  The playground bully draws strength from fear but perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18) and God is that love!  When you draw nigh unto God, when you find your secret place in Him, His shadow will be your cover, your protection and insulation from all the fiery darts of the enemy (Palms 91:1; Ephesians 6:16).

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Last, when confronted by the hatred of others in whatever form, remember who you are.  Remember who is at work in the life of the hate speaker.  Confront hate with the peace of the Lord God Jesus Christ.  Turn the other cheek and by this I mean, refuse to engage in a verbal confrontation.  Use your tongue to speak life and that more abundantly.  Use your tongue to create a new reality, a new condition in the life of the hate speaker and then exercise your will upon that which you have spoken.  Pray on that planted seed and watch it grow and produce new life in that which was dead.  This is how you Cancel the Date with Hate.  The enemy won’t get it, he won’t understand it, but he will flee from you and in his place…a garden of peace abides!

Encourage Your Child

Blog Pic-MeEncourage Your Child

How many of you remember saying to yourself way back when you were knee-high to a wolverine (not that you ever go that close to measure) that you would never do this or that to your children when you became a parent?  Statements like this may have been made in the moments after a butt whipping or chastisement as we say in today’s vernacular.  You may have felt wronged for the punishment you received, and of course because you were just a child your ability to see the big picture extended only as far as your toy box or TV!  The reasons we were punished never made sense since all we were doing was having fun…true, the cat or neighbors dog paid the price but we’re not talking about that right now!

Most of the time after we were disciplined (whupped as we say in my house) and went to sleep, a normal side effect of a good whupping, we would be fine and all was forgotten.  It was again time to play.  Who had time to remember what we were disciplined for.  Day light was burning!  There were girls’ hair waiting to be pulled!!!

But there are also those times when the discipline can go too far, not just in terms of physical abuse, at least not in my case, but in terms of the emotional pain inflicted.  Punishing or disciplining in the heat of anger is always a bad idea.  For one, the risk of doing actual physical harm increases.  Two, when words are spoken in anger they can be just as harmful, hurtful, and painful as the physical discipline.  It is usually the words that are remembered the most and have the longest effect on a young mind.

So perhaps a change in tactics is called for.  I know, sometimes it’s hard to keep your temper in check and this kettle will refrain from describing the pot as black in color!  And yes, I understand that stress can play a huge role in how we react to different things.  When our children get in trouble we tend to fall back on what we experienced growing up.  We do what we saw.  We say what we heard and it’s almost instinctive.  We may even know subconsciously that there is a better way but our first reaction is normally what we go with unless we train ourselves to do differently.

I remember saying to myself after receiving my punishment that I wouldn’t do my kids this way.  I would treat them differently.  I would do this or that better.  I was not concerned with the purpose behind the discipline or the love that spurred it.  At the time I couldn’t see that my mother’s efforts were keeping me out of jail and an early grave.  I was a selfish child and only understood my point of view and my immediate goals.

When I became a father by the grace of God, I started disciplining the same way I was.  I was going to put the fear of God into my children.  I was not going to spare the rod and spoil them.  I didn’t know that there was another way, even though I promised myself growing up that I would do things differently.  Then it dawned on me…my greatest improvements, my best achievements, always occurred after my mother lavished praise and encouragement on me.  I always did better when I knew my dad was in the stands watching me play football and cheering me on.  I always rose to the occasion when I needed to take tests because I knew it would make my mother smile to see my name on the dean’s list!  Encouragement and not fear was the difference.

I still believe there is a place for stern discipline, but I have also come to understand that encouraging your child can be just as effective as the rod of correction.  I wouldn’t say throw away the rod, but I would say we need to balance its use with the following ratio: 1:7, that is, for every application or occurrence of the rod pour on seven doses of encouragement or praise.  As a rule, if you can’t think of seven things to praise your child for, then put the rod away as the instrument of discipline and find another way.

You can encourage your child to do better, be better and aspire to greater things.  Speak encouragement into their ears, into their spirit, into their whole lives and you will change them for the better.  Your words have power, use this power for good and not evil.

Manhood Foolishness

Juanita_Story3Manhood Foolishness

by

Juanita Story

From sinew to bone, from my eyes to yours, I am struck by this thing called manhood!

The halls ring all day long with the caustic sound of your half-truths and lies.

Shades of a man that once was are in evidence everywhere.

Upon the desk, scattered and painted with the fine caress of dusts’ playful anguish, I can see it all.

Piled high now, your unkept words, your wayward responsibilities laughingly haunt my dreams.

Such arrogance.  Such bravado.  Such shame.  Yet you find glory in the hunger pains of those too weak to say enough, too weak to stand for themselves, too young to understand.

This then is your glory and your legacy.  Yours is a heritage now begun under the clouds of deceit and cowardice.

There is no pause button here.  Life has no more time nor riches to waste on what should have been glorious days of love and births and songs sung without hope’s loss…

I for one cannot abide your silence yet I crave your absence.  I desire this void be filled with another more worthy than you.

I cannot teach you to love yourself.  What fields of folly called you away on that day of learning is lost to me.

I cannot put steel in your spine.  The water damage is too severe to repair.

I cannot give you sight.  You poured too much hate into those soulless sockets.

I cannot open your understanding.  Ears closed and capped with lies and whispers of false pride prevent further hearing though truth sings as loud as the siren song of a thousand space shuttles.

From sinew to bone, from my eyes to yours, I am lifted by this thing called womanhood.

Go Home Charity

Juanita_Story4Go Home Charity

by

Juanita Story

Charity begins at home. What if you don’t have a home? What if every door knocked upon denied you respite? What if only the soles of your feet could tell the story of your departure?

Where then is charity? Where is she when only the painful comfort of blacken asphalt remembers your name? Where is she when black eyes and crows call you cousin and friend? Where is charity when the dew of night’s fallen mist is your blanket?

Come now to me lover. Explain your absence. Explain my broken heart.  Come now to me my champion.  Pull my hair and release my darkness.  Explain your travels.  Explain the means of your great escape.  Take me down and reveal my tear.

If the sounds of her Nubian experience frighten you, disarm you, make you pale with regret, then charity has found her home. Open wide and welcome her in. Her chains rattle for but a moment. Her back is yet unbowed. Glistening is her many sorrows but she has found her home. Pull back the curtain and watch her dance in the firelight of a new tomorrow.

Charity begins at home and home is where her heart was.  She is out there, somewhere.  Her heart is at home, out there, somewhere.

Charity is home. Her company is well fed. Their beds are warm and well slept. Charity is alone.

Patience, Love & Time

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Shanti

“I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because you’re combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together.” Lisa Kleypas, author of the Blue-Eyed Devil, revealed the secret that was so visible but disguised by my own finite understanding. A quote that finally made sense after many confused attempts to find “the one.” Because I was single with the wrong mindset, a life-changing opportunity was able to rise. Patience, love and time exposed themselves; three clever attributes that forced me to comply whether I liked it or not!

I was never really into the whole relationship/dating thing. As I got older it seemed like that’s all people talked about. It felt like there was a breed of relationships forming; a cycle of “falling in love,” fights, arguments, the up and down roller coaster of l o v e, of course, and then breaking up after a couple months, confused by what love really is; the typical relationship. I, on the other hand, had the chance to observe these faultless disasters. I enjoyed living my life single! I was happy knowing that I was free! Free, to be emotionally unattached to anyone I found attractive. Free, in knowing that I didn’t have to worry about the restraints of someone else’s emotions. No monogamy just me. Ah yes! Emotional freedom, what an awesome feeling! Although, I was surrounded by those who didn’t have this same privilege. I was devoted to caring only for myself. I guess you can say I was a little selfish but with good intentions. I didn’t want to waste time with someone I felt wasn’t going to be in my life for very long. I took pleasure in watching those close to me face the inconsistent, functionally dysfunctional aspects, relationships failed to mention; every daunting and heartbreaking, yet gratifying, animated moment they enjoyed that made them feel so alive! Yes, it all made “perfect sense.” So, I continued on in my observation.

After a while of observing, the happiness started fading away slowly, but surely and Relationshipsboredom came into play. I blame the adorable couple I went to school with because I witnessed true love. This couple whom I thought would be like everyone else and end faster than the speed of light; one of life’s great opportunities to prove me wrong. I watched this couple and it was real. Real love! Not like one of those annoyingly, cute romance movies. I couldn’t believe it!  At that very moment the scales began to fall off of my eyes. It felt as if a build up of emotions that had been buried so deep had suddenly awakened and invaded my heart and captured my soul. I wanted to feel what they expressed so heavily. Sooner than expected, I made the decision to find out for myself what the big deal was about being in a relationship. If I was meant to have someone to love and to hold, to care so deeply for and receive that in return, well then I guess I was all for it.

Of course, in my life things just don’t turn out the way I expect it to. I came to learn that if eager to find love I would look in all the wrong places. I grew weary and impatient. I was sick of waiting for my soul mate; my knight in shining armour; my true love. I wanted to do anything. I wanted to be anyone if that meant that I could finally know what real love is. Disregarding good intentions, now I was just selfish. After a couple years of merciless and frivolous searching, I came up empty-handed, or in my case empty-hearted. I dated and mistakenly went into every relationship thinking “this is it! He’s definitely the one.” WRONG! I was defeated by loves’ harsh laws and walked with my head held down. Casually, I made the decision to continue my journey alone. I chose to go back to the way I used to be, unfortunately this time it was different. My heart cried knowing that I had no one to connect with; that empty feeling that burned deep down wanting to be filled with the consuming power of love. I felt deceived, hurt, and lonely; like I was a living melody of an awful song.

Subsequently, after feeling depressed because I was unsuccessful at finding love, time was now on my side. Nonetheless, life has a way of enlightening us when we feel we’re at our lowest point. Now here is where patience, love and time plays a unique role in my life. I came to the realization that since it wasn’t quite yet my time to find love I’ll have patience if that means being able to be myself and loved for my flaws, if it means letting go of the illusion of a perfect man but hold on to the man that is perfect for me, than I choose to take my time and wait patiently for my true love.

Patience, love and time have their ways of bringing us back to reality. The insanely genuis way they work is if all three are together. It’s difficult to have one without the other. You have to have all three because you know what they say, “one’s company, two’s a crowd but three…

…three’s a party!!”

A Father’s Tribute

For Moo

We love you April and will always stand behind you, lifting you up in prayer, cheering you on, supporting you in every way we can.  You are a gift from God to us and this world.

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