Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart

For the 40th plus ninth time, Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart!

I can’t think of anything more mushy than anything I’ve said over the years. Yet, in each of the “plus” years, I realize how blessed I was to have you for my wife, how much I miss you and how much I love you.

My thoughts this year drifted back to my dog story days in the garden outside St. John the Baptist Cathedral. I won’t bore anyone with that moment, but reflect instead on what was going through my mind on that hot, humid day back in 1968.

There were basically three questions that swirled in my mind, each spinning off additional questions. I know my response, but I wonder what your response would have been.

First is a broad thought, what the heck are we doing?

As excited as I was, I was equally scared to death. What did I know about marriage, a 21 year old sheltered and protected guy? What did you know about marriage, a 20 year old kid who was a little more street savvy but surrounded by realities of a sometimes harsh life? What is this whole marriage thing all about?

Well, looking back, we weren’t the first couple to go through these thoughts … and we certainly weren’t the last. It was a learning curve, not all glitz and glitter.

We thought we would live a fairy tale life. We were going to the chapel to get married and life would be peaches and cream. We would never have to say good night and leave again.

It didn’t take us long to realize fairy tales are … well, fairy tales. Marriage was hard work and love was not a three letter word {S-E-X}. It meant putting our wants and needs aside to protect, honor and respect our mate. It meant sharing. It meant helping each other. It meant supporting each other. It may not have been a fairy tale, but it was about as close as you come. It’s a commitment not meant for the faint hearted. And it is hard, hard, every day work.

It’s easy as the years roll by to start cutting corners, getting self absorbed in work or children to where your partner gets shoved to the background. We start taking each other for granted. That’s when it gets hard … and that’s when you have to marshal every ounce of energy to get back to the euphoria of day one.

Someone once said marriage was a 50-50 relationship. They were wrong. It’s 100%-100% commitment, and I’m sure on your part, often stretching to 120% and above as you tried to corral my wanderlust and wild ideas. Looking back, I got off easy — I just had to navigate through mood changes. Once I got that down — okay, it took me 40 years — it was smooth sailing.

I know there were a number of skeptics that day, wondering how these two kids from different backgrounds with different temperaments were going to come together as one. I guess we showed them!

My second question was, what kind of husband would I be. I’d like to think I was a good, loving, supportive husband, but I know there were times I made some bad decisions, took you for granted and didn’t back you up as much as you needed. There were too many “ordinary” days, but I did try to spice things up with the unexpected. And I hope my silly traditions — Christmas stories, daily cartoons, flowers, words of encouragement — lifted you up.

That’s through my eyes. What I would give to hear your take on what kind of a husband I was.

Finally, I thought about what kind of a father I would be if we were fortunate enough to be given custody of young ones. Of course, we were, blessed with five amazing children, each with a unique personality. I would like to think I was a good, supportive father … firm yet always loving. I’m not sure about the firm part, especially with the girls, but you and I always tried to make our kids feel loved. We weren’t perfect. I know that looking back.

I can get feedback from the kids … and grandkids … and great-grandkids, but input from you about my role as a father would be immeasurable. I’m just not going to know — at least not yet.

For 40 years we laughed together, cried together, truly enjoyed each other’s company {okay, most days}, shared our accomplishments and disappointments, moved and moved and moved and moved, raised five beautiful children, were blessed with 18 grandchildren and two great-granddaughters. It was quite a ride from naive kids to learning the intricacies of life and relationships to bonding more strongly day by day to being there for each other for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. And we sealed it with “from this day forward until death do us part.”

We weren’t thinking about the “death do us part” part on that day. But, death is inevitable … and it was you who was called first shortly after our 40th anniversary in 2008.

My biggest regret over the last nine years has not been the loneliness {although that is VERY real}, but the fact you aren’t here sharing this season of life with me. This was supposed to be our time. WE were going to retire to Maine. WE were going to watch our family grow. WE were going to spoil the grandkids. WE were going to welcome our great-grandchildren. WE were going to travel. WE. WE. WE.

The plus nine hasn’t changed things. In a very real way, you are still by my side. Poor kid, you just can’t get rid of me.

Often we didn’t know

what tomorrow would bring,

but we believed things

would work out …

and they usually did.

And today as we celebrate

another anniversary together,

I just have to smile

when I think of how far we’ve come,

with nothing but love

and a few crazy dreams.

I Love You … Yesterday … Today … For Always

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Live life with music in your heart.

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Looking for a Date

Okay, that title is somewhat tongue in cheek, but it underscores a real concern for those of us who are single. But, before we move forward, you have to get a sense as to why I make the plea.

A couple of weekends ago, I attended the local community theater production Nunsense. As I looked around the theater, I couldn’t help but notice as I sat alone, most other patrons were in pairs. There were young couples, families, middle aged folks on a date afternoon and elderly couples still holding hands and chatting before the show, during intermission and after the show. I miss that.

After Karen died, I couldn’t help but feel alone socially. I couldn’t go to a “couples” event without feeling like a wall flower or third wheel. Sonni understood that and helped guide me through those socially awkward moments. We often went to events as a couple. And I cherished those moments of companionship and  communication.

There is a difference between local community theater and other events, however. For example, I missed going to see Jersey Boys on the Broadway stage. When I had the time, I didn’t have the money and when I had the cash for a weekend on the town, I didn’t have the time. Lo and behold, there’s a performance Oct. 8 at Cross Insurance Center in downtown Bangor! I am really considering it … but I hate the thought of not sharing the experience. In fact, it’s the opening production in a five-set Broadway’s Best in Bangor series that also includes Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer — The Musical (Dec. 13), Dirty Dancing (Jan. 2), Cinderella (Feb. 1) and The Wizard of Oz (April 10). I might be open to any or all of them, but I’m not sure I’m willing to go solo.

And there is The Phantom of the Opera. Karen and I almost made it to a Rochester performance way back in 1996. We had the tickets, {in fact I recently found them in my suit jacket} orchestra left center, but skipped it because my newest grandson at the time had an ear infection and high fever and Karen was more comfortable staying home with our 16 year old new mother daughter. We always promised ourselves we would spend a weekend in New York City for the Broadway production. Well, that never panned out, although it still is running. Again, I’m not sure I’m willing to go solo.

I probably could ask someone, but it’s been a long time since I was in dating mode and I’m still too much of an introvert to ask any of my lady friends to join me.

Oh. The pitfalls of being single.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Set your goals high and don’t stop until you reach them.

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Who Is Jesus?

Following tradition, here are my words from the back side of the pulpit today at Dover-Foxcroft (ME) United Methodist Church.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

A Sunday school teacher at a church slightly larger than ours was testing the children in her class to see if they understood the concept of getting into heaven.

She asked them, “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, would that get me into heaven?”

“NO!” the children answered.

“If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard and kept everything tidy, would that get me into heaven?”

Again, the answer was “NO!”

“Well then, if I was kind to animals and gave candy to all the children and loved my husband, would that get me into heaven?” she asked them.

Again, they all answered, “NO!”

The teacher was just bursting with pride for them! She figured they understood the concept.

“Well,” she continued, “then how can I get into heaven?”

The room was quiet. Finally a five year old sheepishly said “yousortakindagottabedead.”

“What, Joey? Speak a little louder so we can all hear,” said the teacher.

The little boy shouted out, “YOU SORTA, KINDA GOTTA BE DEAD!”

Of course, what our school marm was after was we don’t have to do anything. It’s through God’s grace that we enter heaven. It has nothing to do with what we do, how committed we are, how much we give. Our ticket gets punched through the grace of God. As John Piper said, “What defines us as Christians is not most profoundly that we have come to know Him but that He took note of us and made us His own.”

That’s one of the paradoxes in today’s gospel reading. Jesus is trying to find out the scuttle on who people think He is. And his merry followers tell Him what some people think . They tell him, John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.

It wasn’t the answer Jesus was looking for. Who do you say that I am?

Okay. Who do you say Jesus is?

That’s our question for today. Some say Jesus was a great teacher. Muslims say Jesus was a prophet but not God. The Mormons say Jesus is the Son of God but a totally separate Being from God the Father and the Holy Spirit and He is the brother of Lucifer. Some say Jesus never lived and He is the wishful thinking of demented minds. Those are the answers we get today.

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Most of us, girded by the Word, would probably say something similar … or at least I hope we would. You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

But, just exactly what does that mean? Let’s parse it a bit.

You are the Messiah…

Messiah was the term given to the Promised One, the leader the Jews were waiting for to deliver them. He was the One promised through the prophets.

…Son…

Son depicts a relation, a kinship.

…of the living God…

The relation is to God. He is God’s Son. But more important, God is the living God. He isn’t just floating around in the cosmos. He is real, active in the affairs of His creation. And since Jesus is His Son, He too is real and active in our lives. He is more than a prophet. He is more than those who preceded Him. He is God’s Son.

I have to break for a second. While “Messiah” may have been understood, “Son” was more problematic in those days. Followers could recognize Jesus’ earthly lineage, but this whole “of God” thing was a new concept. The disciples hadn’t quite made the connection. Until now. Until Simon Peter blurted it out.

To be honest, I am always amazed with this story. I don’t think Peter was the sharpest tool in the shed. And we know his faith was, well, human. He had his ups and downs. But you can’t find fault with his passion. And when his passion for the Christ intersected with his faith on the upside, the fisherman had his “ah hah” moment.

I think Jesus might have been surprised too. He tells Peter, flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father in heaven. And He commissions Peter as the Rock of His church, the foundation, the keeper of the faith to follow.

But then Jesus does something very strange. He tells His disciples not to share this revelation. That’s actually the opposite of everything we’ve been told as post-Christ Christians. We’re told to proclaim the Good News, to share the message of the Gospel, to let the light of Christ shine through us.

I don’t know if there is a simple answer why Jesus took this tact. I suspect it was because the time wasn’t right. Jesus’ ministry wasn’t over. He still had more to do before making His final commission. He still wanted His disciples to look and learn from Him. There was more that had to be told. Perhaps Jesus told the disciples to wait because the people wanted to make Him an earthly king and didn’t understand His kingdom was other-wordly and spiritual, or perhaps it’s because the disciples didn’t fully understand Jesus’ mission until after His resurrection.

This moment was the rock. This was the foundation. But it wasn’t the final structure.

In that moment, Peter’s eyes were opened, but we know his faith still wasn’t anchored. He ran away — sort of like Jonah, his ancestor, whom Jesus referred to in our reading. I think the message was you can run, but you can’t hide but if you follow Me in My time, great things will happen for the glory of God.

Those words weren’t just for Peter and his crew. They are for us as well. We often run from God, but we can’t hide. And, all of a sudden, when we “see the light” we become passionate. We want to scream our faith from the rooftops … only to become disillusioned when those words appear to fall on deaf ears.

I think Jesus was telling us through His disciples in this story — and others — to wait for Him. There’s a time to preach. There’s a time to reach out. There’s a time to tell our salvation story. But there is also a time to shut up, to be still, to catch up with Jesus and His message.

It is easy for us to hear something and make decisions, especially when we are feeling “spiritual”. Here lies the problem. When we begin to feel “spiritual” we often forget it is God who produces those spiritual things, not ourselves, and the next thing you know we are doing the talking, planning and decision making for God.

Peter had no problem confessing Jesus as the Son of God but he had a huge problem with Jesus dying on a cross. The cross was a symbol of terrible shame and humiliation and Peter just wasn’t going to let that happen. Peter had allowed his flesh to jump in and he started looking at things from the world’s view. Remember the garden?

The world’s view is never God’s view. His lens is much wider than ours. Our time is never God’s time. We’re constrained; He’s not.

Jesus is a gift from God, but we have to unwrap the present in His time.

Certainly some of us just tear into that package. Shards of paper go flying as we rip open the wrapping to reveal the gift. Others are more deliberate, carefully unwrapping the box. It takes seemingly forever to separate the paper from the gift.

Once we open it, however, what are we going to do with that gift? Are we going to place it on a shelf and look at it from a distance? Or are we going to use it, enjoy it, share it.

You see, I think when we meet God face to face, He’s not going to ask us how much money we gave or how often we went to church or how we supported missions. He’s going to ask us two simple questions.

First, He is going to ask us if we believe in His Son.

I think everyone who passes themselves off as a Christian will correctly answer that question. You see, Jesus Christ – His Son – is the gift. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). That’s the good news.

But I think there will be a second question. What did you do with that gift?

It might be enough to get us into heaven just believing in Christ but if He is just a trophy sitting on a shelf to be seen only on Sundays and special occasions, do we really believe? Or are we fooling ourselves?

Friends, we’ve seen the fulfillment of Jesus’ ministry. It’s not a time to be quiet and wait. It’s time for action.

That’s why the second question is so important. We have to believe not only in Christ but in His power. And we have to use that power every day. And we have to share that power. And we have to allow Christ to shine through us in all we do and say.

Is it easy?

No. In fact, it’s hard … real hard. And there will be times when we fail to let Christ shine through us. We’ll do things we shouldn’t. We’ll say things we shouldn’t. We’ll go places we shouldn’t. We’ll try to outshine Christ, take His glory. It’s all called sin.

God knows we fail. And we’re in good company. Noah was a drunk. Abraham was too old. Isaac was a daydreamer. Leah was ugly. Joseph was abused. Moses had a stuttering problem. Gideon was afraid. Samson had long hair and was a womanizer. Rahab was a prostitute. Jeremiah and Timothy were too young. David had an affair and was a murderer. Elijah was suicidal. Isaiah preached naked. Jonah ran from God. Naomi was a widow. Job went bankrupt. Peter denied Christ … three times. The disciples fell asleep while praying. Martha worried about everything. The Samaritan woman was divorced. Zaccheus was too small. Paul persecuted early Christians. Timothy had an ulcer. Lazarus was dead.

God doesn’t look at our failures. He looks at our actions. He looks at how we share our gift.

A holy purpose would be to bring God’s wholeness into the brokenness of our world. A selfish focus makes the world more broken. If someone walked 10 yards behind us throughout our day – a football first down – would he find a trail filled with more kindness than if he walked 10 yards in front of us?

The answer to that question would say more about our purpose in life than any message I could ever deliver.

Through our faith, we actively make choices to do something. Is that “something” always the right choice?

Probably not, but if it is guided by our faith, we’ll make another choice to correct it and get back on our original path.

We all look for the “flashes” of miracles, but we ignore the everyday miracles right in front of us. That’s what happened 2,000 years ago. People were mesmerized by the miracles of Jesus, but couldn’t figure out His message. That has happened through the ages. That continues to happen today.

Chances are, we are going to see few “flashes” of miracles in our lives. But there will be times when we get by – and not know how we did it. That’s our fish and loaves miracle. There will be times when our illnesses go into remission. That’s our healing miracle, even if it’s just temporary. There will be times when we see the hand and heart of God with complete clarity – perhaps just a precious few times. That’s our burning bush. Truth be known, the burning bush is there all the time. We just fail to see it.

Even Jesus did things … made choices … performed actions. He instructed the servants on what to do when He turned water into wine. He told the disciples to find the kid with the fish. He healed the sick … but not everyone. He raised people from the dead including Himself — again not everyone. He took advantage of the circumstances at the time and used them for God’s good and glory.

That’s what we’re called to do. Use the gift. Make choices. Do something. Be observant. Keep the big picture in sight. Let the Light of the fire shine through. Take time to witness the little ordinary everyday miracles. Refresh in the summer breeze. Be energized by the majesty of fall’s colorful landscape. Enjoy the sunshine even on a cold, windy, wintry day. Watch spring spring. Hold a baby. Dance in the rain. Sing. Soak in life.

Each day, angels visit the footsteps of the faithful, leaving gifts that quietly offer God’s grace, comfort and protection. All we have to do is recognize them and pick them up.

Some of us received the gift at an early age. I, for example, accepted Christ as an early teen when I received the sacrament of Confirmation. It was then I reasoned, if I was talking the talk of following Jesus, I had to walk the walk as well. And even though I’ve strayed from the path from time to time, I’ve tried to make sure my way was synonymous with His way. Others come to Christ later in life, an epiphany, an “ah hah” moment. They tend to be passionate about their faith. I call them Paul Christians, turning their back on their past on their own road to Damascus and using the gift to move forward.

Others, unfortunately, are still waiting. Some may be working on the wrapping. Others may be working on other presents – self, idols, control, anger, impurity, evil desires, greed.

It’s up to us seasoned and newbie Christians to let the power of Christ shine through for them, not by telling them but by showing them. You can’t preach or prod or persuade or nag them to salvation, but you can show them salvation. You can be the example. You can be the spark. You can be the conduit God uses to present His gift to another soul.

Don’t leave your Jesus in the pew. Bring Him home with you so others can see why Jesus — complex and complicated, simple and uncomplicated — is such a valued gift.

Don’t wait until you’re sorta, kinda dead to realize the importance of the gift we’ve been given. Let the Light shine through us while we’re very much alive.

Who is Jesus?

Jesus is the only hope for your life and my life.

Jesus is the only hope for the church.

Jesus is the only hope for our town.

Jesus is the only hope for our state.

Jesus is the only hope for the USA.

Jesus is the only hope for the world.

Jesus is the only hope for eternity.

Who do you say Jesus is? And what are you doing with the gift of Jesus Christ?

Amen

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

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Five Minute Friday — Guide

The Five Minute Friday assignment is to write for five minutes on a prompt word, post it and share with fellow Five Minute friends at Kate’s place on Facebook at  http://www.fiveminutefriday.com. Around 100 of us gather round to encourage and support our fellow Christian writers, writing in a variety of styles and genres. It’s always very interesting to see how a simple word take shape into posts. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes not as much and always entertaining. Be sure to stop in and read the diversity of thought at Kate’s place. And don’t be afraid to join in!

I’ve been sharing snippets taken from Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat. They are a testament to the value of the exercise. This week, I’ll share some perspective from Annette, who I hope inspires you to check us out or, better yet, encourage you to try your hand at focused, unscripted writing for just five minutes. And share it on Kate’s website.

“What does FMF mean to me?

“The fun of seeing how others react to the same word. Some weeks it seems like EVERYONE has the same thoughts, and other weeks the thoughts are as varied as the people in the world. It’s always a surprise, The encouragement that people offer is much appreciated. It’s good to meet new people and be exposed to different thoughts, all while having a quick write. Some words take pondering over to see how they resonate and some words simply don’t. It’s great not to be tied down and have the freedom to come and go as desired.”

The word this week is GUIDE. The clock is started, so let’s GO …

Appropriately, this afternoon in my travels, I spotted a church sign that read, “Man gives directions, God gives guidance.” Hmmm

It got me to thinking about the truth of that statement. Way back when, for example, when I first started driving, we had paper maps to give us directions. Today, we have GPS and guidance systems. I’m never without Google Maps — even if I’m on a familiar route — since it not only give directions but road conditions. We’ve come a long way, baby, from Moses’ wanderings.

Yes, we get pretty good directions as we navigate from Point A to Point B from our man-made electronic devices.

But our destination is much further than Point B. It’s eternity. If I punch that into Google Maps, I might get some physical sites like Eternity Circle in St. Cloud, FL {honest!} or Eternity Court in Germantown, MD … but not ETERNITY.

Don’t despair. Like the sign said, we not only have directions, but guidance along the route. It’s all there in the Book.

Just like those old multi-folded maps of bygone days, we still have to get our bearings {north, south … STOP

… east, west}. And we have to know the general direction we’re going. If we were supposed to turn right in Columbus and suddenly see in our rear view mirror, we have to re-navigate. We just have to follow the map. And of course, it always helps to have a navigator doing the mapwork.

It’s no different on the road over the River Jordan. Sometimes, we may zig when we should have zagged, turned right at the fork instead of left. However, we always have a Navigator and Guide. He has already mapped out the fastest {notice I didn’t say easiest} route. We just have to follow that route. And when we don’t, He’s ready, willing and able to re-navigate. We just have to be willing to seek out His expertise. Surprise! It’s in our Guide — the Bible.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: You only lose after you give up — Steven Fox

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Happy Birthday to Me

Yes, today is my birthday. Normally I approach the day with a ho hum attitude. It’s no big deal. It’s just another day.

And it is. I’m not sharing the “news” for affirmation, but because this year’s celebration is a little more special than most, and since I have been in a retrospective mood as the days counted down, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on my life.

There haven’t been many milestone birthdays. My 17th was important because it was I got my driver’s license, freedom and love for the open road. My 18th was important because it meant I could be the designated beer buyer in neighboring New York while attending school. My 21st was a watershed year because I became eligible to vote and officially became an adult, a status I enjoyed until my 60s when I became a senior. This year, I graduated to old … seven decades under my belt on this piece of rock.

That’s old like in a long time, not in decrepit or feeble. Just old.

I remember as I rewrote obituaries for the paper noting too many people were dying too young. When I reached my 60s, those people were my peers — including my wife. If I noticed someone in their 70s or 80s or beyond I looked at them as survivors and celebrated their long life. As of 5:19 this morning I became one of them.

No period held more significance to me than any other … although adulting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As I look back, I can honestly say I savored every breath I’ve been given … the good times, the bad times, the mountaintops and the valleys. I know it sounds hokey, but I knew I had a Sidekick with me all the way and He used people in my life to keep me grounded and focused. Of course, my wife was one who spent 40-plus years tempering my idealism with reality. Sonni was another who helped me heal after Karen’s death.

Maybe that’s why #70 is so significant. There is no one prodding me, pushing me, forcing me to move forward. Family and friends try but I spent a lifetime prodding, pushing, forcing them to be independent and flourish.

It’s ironic, if I had to chose an anthem for my life it would be My Way ... I’ve lived a life that’s full … I’ve traveled each and every highway … But more, much more than this … I did it my way … Regrets, I’ve had a few … But then again, too few to mention … I did what I had to do … And saw it through without exemption …

Of course it helps when my way typically is in line with His way. And I have been blessed. I was privileged enough to get a good foundation that led to education and a fulfilling career and repressed enough to value hard work and struggle.

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew … When I bit off more than I could chew … But through it all, when there was doubt … I ate it up and spit it out … I faced it all and I stood tall … And did it my way … I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried … I’ve had my fill my share of losing … To think I did all that … I did it my way …

I don’t know how many ticks are left in the ticker — no one does. But I know as I move forward into this next season I will approach it with the same abandon — some would say reckless abandon — as the previous seasons. Despite the creaking bones and generally slowing down, I’m still looking forward to road trips, football games, visits with family and friends, new adventures. And when the time comes, I’ll meet my Sidekick. We’ll look at each other and say, We did it Our way.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: God might not always get us out of a situation but He will get us through.

Posted in Birthdays, celebration, encouragement, Faith, family, Friends, growing old, growing up, Jesus, Life, love, Memories, reflect, relationships, retirement, seasons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Five Minute Friday — Speak

It’s time for Five Minute Friday, the weekly timed keyword-themed writing challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Her words — and those of the others who congregate around the virtual table to share — are on Facebook at  http://www.fiveminutefriday.com. I encourage you to read them … and participate in the often challenging exercise.

I’ve been sharing snippets taken from Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat. They are a testament to the value of the exercise. This week, I’ll share some perspective from Tammy, who I hope inspires you to check us out or, better yet, encourage you to try your hand at focused, unscripted writing for just five minutes. And share it on Kate’s website.

“I joined the FMF community in 2015 and am amazed at the depth of relationships I have built! Seeing the same people’s posts every week and reciprocating reading and commenting has encouraged my writing. The Twitter party on Thursdays has also become a joy!”

The word this week is SPEAK. The clock is started, so let’s GO …

I’m fortunate to have been chosen to be born in the United States, a place where I can speak freely. Or at least that’s what our founding fathers reasoned.

Free speech, however, means we have additional responsibility. I think it’s more important to speak in love. Unfortunately, there is too much hate and division prevalent these days, so it becomes even more incumbent on us to think before we speak and then, and only then, speak with love.

That’s a maxim good not only here in the USA, but around the globe. There are too many people spewing hateful, often untruthful words meant to tear others down. I respect their right — however disgusting their message may be — to speak, but I don’t have to respond with equally derisive speech. Two wrongs never make a right.

We Christians have an even more important mandate. Not only should we be speaking in love, but we should be adding the Truth. We know what that truth is, although with so many “religions” and “thoughts” on true faith, it’s often hard to approach a conversation without the “I’m right, you’re wrong” bias. Truth — that’s with a capital T — is having an open mind, open to see where others are coming from, why they believe as they believe. It’s having a mindset that embraces dialog, not shuts down when a view is presented that’s slightly or sometime even outright opposite ours. If we can let those opposing views be heard, we can speak to the issues. After that, it’s not up to us to persuade. It’s up to the Holy Spirit. We’re just a conduit for the Truth of God.

I know it’s hard. It’s extremely hard. … STOP

I’ve experienced it. You’ve experienced it. Jesus experienced it. He listened to the alt-rights and alt-lefts of His day. He addressed them, often in parables they could understand. He was martyred for His effort. But guess what, that bloody sacrifice saved you and me. And it was for those who opposed Him as well, if only they would have listened to His speech . And when He walked out of that grave He spoke volumes and assured us our temporary life on earth is a mere speck in eternity.

Our speech should reflect our beliefs. We all have stories to tell illustrating how we came to Jesus and how God touched us in both good times and bad times, at the mountaintops and in the valleys.

Speak your story. Let your voice be heard … always shared in love.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Value the ones around you, for it is they who will make or break you.

Posted in communication, ecumenism, encouragement, Faith, family, Five Minute Friday, Friends, God, Holy Spirit, love, relationships, speak, stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Is It Nap Time?

Last night, I slept like a rock … until just after 4 this morning. Now, waking up in the middle night is not unusual. However, I generally go back to bed and within minutes, I’m back in la-la land.

Not this morning.

I remember waking up after a dream {again not unusual} where I was an active participant {somewhat unusual}. I don’t remember the specifics but it must have woken up my mental neurons as well. They wouldn’t stop rattling around in my brain. Even the soothing music for sleeping track failed at its job.

I “watched” the daylight rise through closed but not sleepy eyes. My mind started wandering. I heard another day coming to life — like the redemption center loading its recyclables from across the river, traffic steadily increasing, even a stray ambulance wail. As I tossed and turned, I checked on pesky Pete {Angelina} who almost always wakes up — and wakes me up — at dawn’s early light. She was curled in a little ball at the foot of the bed.

My mind started racing as well, with important topics like why there are pigeons in sleepy {except for me} Dover-Foxcroft … why the president is being attacked for stating the obvious, both sides can share some blame in Charlottesville {I guess that makes me a racist, but you don’t “peacefully” protest with bats and flame-throwers} … why we can’t hate the sin and love the sinner … why we’re not talking anymore but espousing an “I’m right, you’re wrong” mentality. Then I started mentally “writing” at least three different blogs and crafting a response for a business plan my eldest is proposing. Finally, around 6:30, Angelina decided it was time to get up.

As I was walking Angelina it struck me this wasn’t the first time I couldn’t get back to sleep. It’s happened the past two Thursdays as well. Last week, I headed for the computer to catch up on things, took Angelina out and went back to bed.

But it’s strange. In my previous working life, Tuesday was production night, often stretching into the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Wednesday night, however, meant early to bed and a full night’s sleep. Now that I’m retired, there is no production night. I generally get to bed about the same time each night. I don’t need a “catch up” night.

Only problem is my mind never got the memo.

Is it nap time yet?

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: My job as a disciple of Jesus isn’t to figure out some cosmic jigsaw puzzle called God’s Will. My job is to get good at listening to and responding to my Shepherd’s voice; to be a God’s Will person.

Posted in Blogs, dreams, Faith, family, Friends, Life, love, Maine, relationships, sleep, Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment