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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

      Want to be happy?  Live out loud, be who you are, conduct yourself with integrity, reach out to others, stand up to injustice, satisfy your soul, don’t allow yourself to continue to live with regrets or leave things undone; and, peace will be yours forever!  Words to live by.

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       People are funny; when things get tight…their fists often get tighter; but not always.  This year, like no other year in recent memory, people are hurting.  They are hurting in many areas financially.  Many have lost their homes, their jobs, their savings…along with medical coverage.  It is a difficult time for many in our nation.

        Most everyone has something that they have been blessed with that they no longer use.  Those things that you have been blessed with and no longer use just might be terribly useful to someone else.  Have extra blankets (or sleeping bags) in the closet or attic that you have no use for?  Someone else has need for them; donate it to a shelter, a church, or an agency that gives to those in need.  Don’t forget places like the Salvation Army or Goodwill.  Let’s challenge ourselves to find ways to have a positive impact on those around us.

         What about checking out deals, when you grocery shop, that make use of buy one get one free…then, donating that extra item to a food pantry?  In fact, things people often run out of and have a hard time replacing are necessities such as laundry soap, shampoos/conditioners, toothpaste, dish soap, toilette paper; when money is limited…having those things donated to a food pantry can really be a big help.  Maybe you have a baby or toddler that has outgrown their diapers or pullups…and you have a partial package left; donate it, don’t let it set on a shelf somewhere unused.  What good are those items doing sitting there collecting dust?

          Do you have warm clothes that either don’t fit, things that aren’t your style; or, perhaps you just have an extra set of clothes that you could pass along?  What about coats or boots, mittens or hats/scarves?  Items such as these are desperately needed in colder temperatures and climates.  The fall and winter weather is unforgiving if a person is not sheltered and dressed appropriately for cold temperatures.  Children and adults are both in need; so, please check your closets and storage areas for things that you are not using.

          Here is another idea; have you had a tree fall on your property that you would like removed?  Offer it to those who heat their homes with wood for free…just for the taking.  Wow…how wonderful to get it removed and bless someone else with the wood who could use it to heat their homes. 

          So you say…you don’t have anything physical to give.  How about donating your time or possibly a service like raking leaves/shoveling snow for an elderly person who you know isn’t able to do it for themselves?  Maybe you could offer to get their mail so they don’t slip on the snow and ice or offer to run some errands for them.  There really are so very many ways to help another person who is in need. 

          Think about the homeless who are living on the streets.  Do you perhaps have a shelter or tent that is not going to be used in the near future?  Can you live without it?  Find an agency or charity that will use it to house those folks who cannot or will not live in a shelter.  We have many veterans and run-aways who live under bridges and tunnels all around this nation.  Is a tent or a shelter from your basement or garage an ideal place to live?  No but, it may just keep someone safer from the extreme elements, temporarily, until they can get back on their feet.

           Are any of these suggestions going to cure the ills our nation is facing; probably not…but, it may just help communicate caring to someone who is feeling desperate and alone.  Think about what you can do to help someone who has it a bit worse than you and yours.  Your donations could mean the difference between life and death for someone; and it doesn’t have to cost you more than a bit of compassion for others!

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       Baby don’t cry…it is not your fault.  When you are old enough to know your story…know that it is not your fault.  It has happened for generations…people abandon their children.   It is wrong, but they do it for many reasons…all sad reasons, all heartbreaking…but, what it comes down to is a lacking.

        A lacking of something that is required to parent you little one.  Some parents are lacking money, some are lacking appropriate housing or clothing, some are lacking parenting skills.  Even worse, some are lacking a very basic, important connection…a bonding of parent to child; it is called love.  This is not normal.  This is not your fault.  The lacking is theirs and theirs alone; don’t let it define you.  Their failure to provide what you need does not wipe away your right to have those things that children need to grow and be whole.   You deserve to have what every child should have…love and acceptance. 

       There are many who would adopt you; love you and give you everything you need to be successful in life.  It is sad that your birth parents could not for whatever reason of lacking, be the people to give you what you need.  However, when you are able to read and understand it all…hopefully, you will have been adopted and cared for appropriately.  I hope that you received that love; and, now know that you are part of a family who wanted you, and needed you to be part of them.  The parts of you that feel empty or unfulfilled, because of the unknowns about your birth family, probably will never be fully satisfied.  Let it be enough to know that the circumstances that lead to your being abandonned are not a statement of anything that was wrong with you as a person.

         A small newborn child was abandoned in Charlotte, North Carolina in the last few days.  Children are being abandoned all around the world.  There are many who would love these children were they to enter into the foster/adoptive legal system in the right kind of way.  Why are parents dumping their children?

        When you are able to read this, or some other piece that addresses such issues…and  you have learned about your abandonment; don’t try to seek further information.  It will only hurt you more.  There are no answers that will satisfy your heart’s desire to be loved and accepted by the people who gave you up.  For each answer that is given to justify such actions will just trigger another “what if you had done this or that…could you have kept me then” question.  It is a never ending circle of emotional hurt.   

        It is not a reflection upon you…babies and children are easy to love.  You have done nothing wrong to be rejected…it is a fault inside of that person that by some miracle was able to give you life.  Unfortunately, abortion (infant death) is an option in today’s world..so, choosing life was a very positive thing.   Maybe that is the most that they had to give you; LIFE, it IS an important gift. 

       Your true source of life comes from God above.  You are here in this world because he values you…you are here for a purpose.  Discover what your purpose is and live it to the fullest…do not be destroyed by feelings of rejection or inferority.  You are worthy of all the best that life has to give you.   Your beginnings do not have to set a  negative standard for the rest of your life.  Take your gift and all that you have been able to receive and enjoy since the time of your birth and make something of yourself.  Be a giver, be an encourager…be the embodiement of what your birth parents lacked.  Be a giver and a receiver of Love.  Do you think that the impact of your birth can make a positive difference in the world?   I do, every life has value to offer the world.  Reader, do you know someone who has been rejected or abandoned…were they able to turn their difficult beginnings into a positive, productive life?

      

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      This week we celebrated two very special things here in the United States: one was Monday, November 10th which was the Marine Corps Birthday…and yesterday, which was Veteran’s Day.  Both dates give honor to our military men and women.  We should celebrate our armed forces because they sacrifice so much for us.  We have men and women who are seperated from their families, often in dangerous situations; defending our country and those in other countries who need defended.

       We have some pretty awesome troops who need support.  I have heard about a wonderful program that does just that.  It is a program that would be a wonderful project for school children or teen youth groups across the nation.   Activity directors in nursing homes would also be a great source for this project.  Even former Veterans can continue to serve their country by reaching out to those who presently serve our great country in the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and the Marines. 

       The idea behind http://www.make2tell2.com is to make 2 cards of love and tell 2 others about the project.  They can be holiday cards or just cards that express respect and caring.  This is a great way to lift the spirits of those serving our country when they need an emotional pick me up.  These cards can express patriotism, faith, gratitude, caring, support, encouragement, and communicate comfort to those who need it!

         Please spread the word…get involved…support our troops today.  It doesn’t take much effort and it can mean so very much to the individual who receives it.  After you make the cards…please send them to:  Make 2 Tell 2, 991 Road
325, Harvard, NE 68944  This is also a great way to teach young people about service and about community.  We all need encouragement at times…this is a wonderful way to do that for our troops overseas; it can have a tremendous impact on our military personel.  Thank you!

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        This election has electrified American’s like no other election in my memory.  People have strong reactions to the ups and downs on the daily news.  The media’s interpetation of what is happening minute- by- minute in the run for the Presidency of the United States is very slanted in it’s presentation.  It gives the impression that one doesn’t even need to vote…that it is already a done deal…IT IS NOT!  Everyone who is able must vote.  Everyone has a voice and must use it to choose who they wish to represent them in the leadership of their country.

          It has been called everything from a very prettified “Historic Election” to “A Mess”.  From the outset of this journey…it was touted as an election to take notice of, be a part of and yet; once the Democrats chose their candidate…and the Republicans chose theirs, the battle lines have been drawn.  The media has all but declared a win for Barack Obama.

           Each candidate has claimed that it is time for change.  Most Americans couldn’t agree more with that; however, the last few weeks have been increasing in ugliness.  Citizens are not happy with the direction our country has taken in the quality of life, nor in the image that has been projected of Americans around the world.  That has to be addressed.  Add into the chaos of the multi national financial systems collapse, and the housing market crisis, and throw into the mix health care & job losses; and you should have a clear platform for a political candidate to voice their position and their solutions.  It hasn’t happened yet.  The candidates are too afraid of voicing their true position on the issues in fear of alienating some section of voters…so we are left to our own impressions of where the candidates stand.

          Part of the fear and anxiety in this country has been the lack of information needed to make an informed decision.  Questions have been raised about personal integrity, honesty and positions of faith.  Candidates can say what they want about the image that they try to project…however, actions speak louder than all of the words written for them by their well-paid speech writers.  The truth of who a candidate really is will eventually come out.  I just hope that each will reveal themselves before the actual election.  We are in real trouble when the media and celebrity spokespersons are the go to sources of information.  We only learn what they want us to learn. 

           Hate and violence should never have a place in American politics.  Let the candidates show and declare their true value systems and positions on the issues.  There is a huge movement that has building over the last decade or so, against people of faith who try to vote their values and who hold their political leaders to some level of positive role modeling.  Why is that wrong? In my opinion, it isn’t.  Standards of behavior should be based on an acceptable level to the people that the candidates represent.

           We have, over the years, removed God from our schools, we have demanded seperation of church and state, and some talk of taking that even farther by removing the “Under God” from our pledge of allegience.  There is even an organization dedicated to supporting non-believers in God or atheists in their candidacy; it is called, Godless Americans Political Action Committee.  They have a right to form their committee just as others have a right to question a candidate about their alliance to such an organization and how it will affect their position should they be election to a position of power.  Plain and simple; let the truth be known if you are associated with such an organization and let the voter’s decide whether you merit a vote or not; don’t hide your involvement and don’t lie to the people who you would represent if elected.

            Really, if you are a Christian…this election is about staking your claim for your personal beliefs and value systems.  Don’t vote in this election based just on your economic situation; or, on falling for the one liner…”we want change”….because…if you don’t vote your Christian values then you and the rest of the citizens of the United States are on a slippery slope.  Quality of life is in question as it is with all of the challenges to traditional religious views such as one man one woman marriages and standing up for family values.  If we allow our leadership to rest in the hands of people who don’t consider themselves accountable to a higher power or authority under God, then we really are in trouble as a nation.

            I don’t think that America is ready, willing or able to endorse Godlessness in our Political leaders; do you?

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       For those of you who have been following the tragedy of the murders in Jennifer Hudson’s family and the kidnapping of her young, seven year old nephew; think about this, what happens when your safe place, your place of foundation has been invaded or attacked?  This family is going through a nightmare of epic proportions and because of fame, they are having to do it publically.

       Jennifer and her sister Julia have lost their mother, Darnell Donerson and their brother, Jason Hudson; and, Julia’s son Julian is missing.  This home that the murders took place in was Jennifer’s refuge from the crush of the world that she stepped into as a celebrity when her star began to rise from her singing and her acting over the last several years.

       The Hudson family was and is a family of faith.  Jennifer has said that she grew up in that home, that neighborhood and her home church.  It is an integral part of her support system.   It is part of who she is.  Her mother did not want to move when her daughter became famous…they didn’t want that celebrity to change who they were as a family.  Their home was the center of their family.  It was where all things sprouted for them.  Where they came to; to be together.  It was a safe place.  A place of nurturing.

        What happens now; other than trying desperately to get answers to where Julian is….and what happened to their mother and their brother?  Julia and Jennifer are on automatic pilot i am sure at the moment.  Trying to make sense of things…hoping and praying for the safe return of Julian.  But, their safe place has been invaded.

        How will they ever be able to look at that home and feel what they once felt.  Will it ever feel like home again?  Or will they always feel loss and hurt when they look upon the face of the place that has so many memories for their family.  What about Julian when he comes home…did that poor baby witness the murder of his beloved grandmother and uncle?  Will he ever feel safe there again?  Will he ever feel “at home” somewhere else?  What does this kind of trauma do to a human mind and soul? 

         Many people experience such traumas in their lives…it is something that can be overcome…but, it does shake the foundation of a person/family to rebuild that sense of trust and safety.  Please pray for the Hudson family…as well as, anyone else who has had to go through something so violent and traumatic.  Their faith in God will help them through this time.  However, they are human…and will go through much before they are able to recover and overcome.  Have you ever gone through a trauma that has made your safe place feel violated or unsafe to you?  How did you handle it?

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       When a person passes away…you wonder why kind of epithet (description) others would use to describe that person.  A person’s reputation…legacy…is important.  Most people want to be remembered as someone who other’s genuinely liked, respected and wanted to spend time with.

        Most people don’t want to be remembered negatively.  Today, i heard that Mr. (Richard) Blackwell has died.  Do you know who he is?  I bet when i jiggle your memory cells you will recognize his legacy…it was extremely negative.

         Mr. Blackwell was famous for his very harsh, negative, and biting descriptions of what people in Hollywood and the world of celebrity wore out in public…their fashion sense.  He often said that he wasn’t condeming the person…just their fashion choices.

         He was known for his lists of the 10 worst dressed people of each year.  I was sure that there was so much more to this man.  So i did a little digging.  His celebrity was that he was an author of two books, he was a child actor, he was a television/radio personality, journalist, an artist and a talented fashion designer.  But what is he best known for?  His negativity…that was his claim to fame.  That is such a waste of spirit.  Obviously, he was much more talented that the world knew…however, he put negativity into the world.  Regrets are something that most of us try to avoid…i wonder if he had a few when his time came.

         Mr. Blackwell died of an intestinal infection.  He had been hospitalized for quite some time…and was in a coma, at one point, i believe.  He was born Richard Sylvan Selzer.  He lived in Brooklyn, NY in a poor lifestyle.  He says in his autobiography that he was a thief and a prostitute.  He had a difficult early life.  That might explain why some of his negativity carried over into his professional life as an adult. 

         I think that no matter what…we have to be aware of how we present ourselves to the world.  We all have difficulties…some worse than others.   People can get caught up in trying to one -up-manship in the area of who has had it more difficult; but…at some point, you set aside childhood ills, and YOU take the reins of your destiny as an adult.   At that point, you and you alone, are responsible for the direction that your life takes.  I want to work hard to make sure that the legacy that i leave behind is more heavy on positivity than negativity. 

        What obstacles have you had to overcome to take your life in a positive direction?

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         Did you ever go to a wedding and just observe the Bride and the Groom closely?  Today, i did just that very thing.  Oh, to be sure…the Bride was beautiful and full of smiles; and she looked the picture of what a Bride should look like.  Youth, beauty, joy and excitement poured forth from her face as she, who is normally very shy, looked everyone in the eye and took her vows.  This was her testiment to her pledge of love and commitment.

          The Groom also looked young and full of love and pride in the bride of his choosing.  There were awkward moments in the ceremony…such as a very loud train rumbling by the church…just as the bride was speaking her vows. Then, they did some wonderfully, unique things in their ceremony.  They took communion during the ceremony which was lovely.  The poor bride got a larger piece of the bread put into her mouth by her groom; which took her several minutes to chew and swallow…which caused her to be somewhat embarassed and caused some good natured laughter in the crowd.

          Part of the unique ceremony took place when the bride was given in marriage by her father to her groom; at that point…the bride and groom took the elevated platform in the front of the church; and the minister then, came out into the congregation and stood with his back towards the back of the church…he faced the bride and groom; who stood facing the spectators.  This viewpoint gave the advantage of watching the bride and groom as they spoke their vows, lit the candles, and smiled into each other’s eyes as they whispered affectionetly to one another.  Then, the groom played the guitar while one of his groomsmen sang a tribute to their love for one another.

           All in all, it was a trusting, loving, innocent step into the future as husband and wife…not knowing what the future holds for them…just knowing that they were taking the beginning step forward, together!  Hopeful for a lifetime journey.

        

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      Comedian Bill Maher appears to have made it a footnote of his career to openly show his contempt for religion; his comedy routines have had a biting edge to many topics pertaining to faith.  He has now made a movie about that very subject… it is a movie that expresses his thoughts that religious beliefs are dangerous and ridiculous.  The movie which is opening in theaters on Friday is called, Religulous.  Bill Maher hopes to open up conversations where others feel comfortable expressing their disbelief, as well as making the viewers laugh.  I am sure he wouldn’t mind making a buck or two off of the whole enterprise either!

       In my mind, religion is not a laughing matter.  Whenever i have watched Bill Maher perform on television, in years past…i was stunned to hear the barely controlled contempt, whenever he would subject the viewers to his views on religion.  I don’t think anything is so terrible about people having differing viewpoints on the subject of religion…but, i do think it is wrong for someone to mock another for their personal religious beliefs.  I think it comes down to a matter of respect.  At the very least, you can agree to disagree without turning to put downs or insults.

       Out of fairness, Bill Maher did allegedly make an attempt to be an equal opportunity offender to all religions in the movie.  He mocks Christianity, Judaism, and Islam allegedly in the movie.  Other religions would have presumably gotten the same treatment if it had not cost so much to do the additional traveling.  After all, there are many different religions around the world and the world is a very big place.

         I will agree with Bill Maher on one thing…religion can be dangerous for those who mock; or are in some way, regarded as a threat to those who hold radical religious viewpoints.  Religions are made up of many different people.   Those people are a microcosm of all areas of society; and, in each of those areas of humanity, there are people who will brook no difference of viewpoint from their personal value system. 

          Respectful individuals will try to discuss their beliefs with one another when there is a difference of opinion trying to persuade the other person with theological discourse on the subject.    Serious repercussions begin to take shape when you think about someone with a mental illness who feels the need to defend their religion.  In that situation, you could potentially have a recipe for disaster.  There are other individuals who will go to any extreme, including terrorism, to make their religious views known to others.  There are elements in any society, of religious extremism.  One must take care to respect each other’s right to believe differently if that person has hope of being treated with respect themselves…even, their right to not believe at all.

        Quite a few years ago, there was a huge threat directed towards a man named Salman Rushdie.   He is an author that wrote a book that offended some Muslims, called The Satanic Verses in 1988.  Some  protested his book, and there were many threats upon his life because of the content in the book.  He was forced to live in hiding for quite a period of time. 

         In making a film on the subject of mocking multiple religions, i think that Bill Maher has provided an irresponsible and inflammatory situation which could draw radical attention towards his movie.  If and when it causes conflict, then he can stand back as a witness to the “crazy and dangerous” effect of religion upon society.  I wish that Mr. Maher had found a different way to express himself and his viewpoint on religion; instead of, filming a movie which could negatively impact so many people.  It is quite an easy thing to incite people when they feel that their core values are under attack.  It will surprise me greatly if you dont see protests regarding this movie, all over the news.

         I’ve noticed that there are other comedians who often take hostile swipes at things pertaining to religious subjects.  I remember hearing about Kathy Griffen at some awards ceremony or another, saying something to the effect that, Jesus had nothing to do with her success.  Another comedian who comes across as offensive, to me at least, on the subject is Jimmy Kimmel.  I think there is a fine line between love and hate…and religion brings that line into focus.  Part of the dual edged sword of celebrity is that you have a platform to sway public opinion…but you also bear a personal responsibility in what you put out there when you do espouse a certain opinion.

         One has to wonder, where all of the anger and hostility comes from.  I have heard that anger issues are the opposite side of the coin when it comes to comedians…they take their anger and use humor as a tool to get their message across to the audience.  Humor can often take a sour slant on a subject and make it more palatable to the masses because it is put in a way that people find a little easier to listen to.  But, just because something can be made into a punch line, doesn’t mean that it should be.   Anger seems like such a waste of energy.   When you have a talent for making people laugh, it seems that it could be better used for something more positive than spreading hostile rhetoric used to offend others. 

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My good friend, Ken McArthur is standing in a circus tent today
asking 2,000 people to spread a message of hope to teenagers who
don’t think that life is worth living.

I think it’s a great message of hope for anyone and would love to
see all of my readers think about spreading it today.

Here’s Ken’s simple message for for giving hope (and maybe saving
someone’s life!):

G – Greet and meet: talk to others, smile, say hello, ask
someone how they are doing

I – Involve yourself and others: find a cause you can support,
volunteer, pledge resources. Get the people around you
involved, especially if you see someone beginning to
withdraw. Invite them to participate in some activity, to
“get out” of their comfort zone

V – Validate others: tell others that they matter – especially
family members and friends that you tend to see daily but
may take for granted, give genuine complements

E – Empathize: be a listening ear, take time to be fully
present, don’t try to solve – just acknowledge someone’s
feeling/hurts.

Spread this message today!

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