Friday, June 26, 2015

Thoughts for a Tough Month

Just because they say some people may now marry whomever they want, it doesn't mean YOU have to. If you have a problem with it, then marry heterosexually. Live life according to your principles, but don't expect everyone else to jump on board. That's called freedom.

The Bible tells us to not allow ourselves to be double minded. But your principles are yours, and the nation has to forge its own to accommodate all of its citizens. I have my beliefs, but I also understand that what goes down in Washington isn't always going to agree with me.

The fight we need to fight is one to preserve this system, so that we may all worship and believe as we choose, and stand united with the common ground of being Americans.

If you really want a fight, then fight those who would undermine the authority of constitutional law with another set of laws that do not recognize the rights of all. Do not let Sharia law set a foot down in this land.

And it is time to stop bowing to terrorists and cowards. Do not give them the satisfaction of being able to frighten you. Have faith. Pray for peace. Walk in love, instead of fear or hatred, or prejudice.

Yes, we all have our issues... our flags to wave and drums to beat. Things need to be better. But we can do it. We can meet any crisis, with God's help.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Count the Blessings of Life

Romans 12:11
"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."

I woke up this morning to a usual sound. I've been blessed to have them all my life. Mockingbirds. Living first in the hills above Los Angeles, and now in Orange County, the song of the mockingbird reaches every suburban corner.

Now, I know they can be noisy. They try every sound they can come up with to do whatever the reason birds chirp. Sometimes repeated "check marks." Other times loud scolding. Immediately following, they sing complicated ditties that repeat and then go into variations.

I lay in my bed and thought "What a blessing." Then I listened deeper. Other birds joined in song. There was silence beyond. No traffic noise. "Blessing number two and three," my waking brain added. Number four was a light snoring. My little Yorkie, Mattie, lay sleeping soundly at the foot of the bed. This little dog, who came to live with us a year ago after being rescued from a puppy mill, was enjoying her luxurious new lifestyle. A far cry away from cement floor cages hosed down occasionally by rough, uncaring workers.

As I lay there, I thought that I could just coast and count blessings all day. My love, Gwen, next to me. My canine pal Bentley Bones, nearby. My house, my bed, this pillow... the list went on and on. I thought of Bing singing "Count My Blessings Instead of Sheep." Instead of going into slumber, I thought this was a great way to wake up.

Gradually the morning opened up to coffee and toast. There on my kitchen counter lay the program from a memorial service I attended yesterday. Michael, who died of cancer last month, looked up from the page with the smile we all enjoyed so much during his life.

Michael was a man who knew how to be a friend, and always created more of them. On the surface, he fastidiously worked his station at our favorite restaurant serving the customers he loved. He barked orders to the bartender when cocktails weren't just right. He hugged and kissed the ladies and greeted the men with "Hey Stretch." He extolled the benefits of a health food product for which he was a distributor. He was both professional, and a rascal. At 69, Michael had more life in him than most other people I know.

His favorite word was "yes." Sales convention? "Yes." More wine? "Yes." Skydiving? "Absolutely. Pick a date." He swam 100 laps daily, and exercised at the gym regularly. He mentored young folks naturally. He was always clean, always friendly, always organized.

Like all of us, Michael had a history, but instead of letting it stop him, it motivated him to be more open, more focused, and above all, a man who counted his blessings. Was he in pain? Yes. Did he ever let people know? Never, though we knew he was.

I looked around the room at his memorial. It was standing room only. People packed the room to mourn their loss of Michael. He brought people together, made them feel good, and helped more than we will ever know. He was the ultimate server. A man who found blessings with everyone he met.

Some people minister to others more than a thousand sermons. They remind us that a person lost is really a person just around the next corner. We never really lose them: they remain with us in our hearts, in our thoughts, and in the way our lives were changed by their presence.

Michael taught us all to be grateful for the things in our lives. Notice the chirping of birds and the smell of a fresh breeze. Know that there is always hope, and that we can all change our lot in life by changing ourselves.