Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The day after......

I used to hear of people taking all of their Christmas decorations down on the day after Christmas.  I could never understand it.  Why bother in the first place?

I have come to the conclusion that they deep down are acknowledging the decadent, wasteful, carnality  of the typical American Christmas celebration, and they unknowingly need to cleanse themselves.  I have a lot of respect for these people.  They know there is a problem, but they just can't face it.  At least they can feel it.  The wrongness.

I always feel like I am in the minority in my bare bones Christmas.

*We don't have a tree.  I'm on the fence still about trees.  Will I ever figure it totally out?  Who knows!  I have a strong inclination to think on it as an idol of sorts.  If you have ever thought "it just can't be Christmas without a tree", then it might just be an idol.

*Gifts are minimal at best.  We do a family not-so-secret Santa gift exchange.  One gift per person, including children.  My husband and I also give each grandchild a gift.  We do not gift to each other, never have.  If you have ever thought "it just isn't Christmas without gifts"  then gifts might just be idols.

Are you getting the idea?

You can pretty much take any tradition and somehow make it about Christ if you really want to.  I don't want to.  Somehow I can't imagine how Black Friday Shopping is about our Messiah. 

My next statement will sound pretty strange to you based on what I have just shared:

I like Santa.  I am totally on board with childhood fantasies.  I don't think we should try and make him Christian.  He is fun! 

It's the blending of the carnal and the spiritual aspects of Christmas that I have trouble with.  The older I get the more I believe that Christmas should be more introspective, reverent, a down on your face in prayer kind of holiday. 

The tree, the piles and piles of gifts.  The excess in food and drink.  The gatherings that don't acknowledge the amazing thing God did for us.  He came for us!  He is with us!  The typical American Christmas does not reflect this. 

I still struggle at this time of year.  No tears this year, though.  I've come to terms with a lot of things in this life.  We were somewhat snowed in this Christmas Day.  Lots of  quiet.  Lots of time to think. 

What should a true celebration of our Messiah's first coming look like?

I've got a whole year to think on that.

Happy Day After!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Maine: straight up white milk

White Maine students are least likely in nation to see kids of another race at school

That was the headline in the Bangor Daily News today.

It’s little surprise that Maine — the country’s whitest state — has the country’s most racially homogeneous schools.

This was the first line of the article.  

Questions:  What does writing an article like this hope to prove?    Why is Maine the country's whitest state?  Why do public schools even exist?  

okay......I got a little carried away on that last one.  It's a well known fact that I am not in favor of public education.

Maine is a beautiful state.  Maine is mostly rural with lots and lots of trees.  Maine's biggest industry is now tourism.  Maine has lots of low paying jobs.   Maine is cold and snowy for at least six months of the year.  It gets dark at 3:30 pm in the winter.  Maine is buggy (as in mosquitoes and black flies) for another three months of the year.  Maine gets inundated with tourists for another three months of the year.  

.....am I painting a good picture of why Maine might not be on a majority of peoples lists of places to live?

We moved to Maine from New Jersey.  New Jersey is a very racially diverse state.  Maine is not.  Did that fact have anything to do with our decision to move here.  I would be lying if I said no.  When we were deciding to move away, we were looking for space, breathing room, but staying on the east coast.  We were also looking for a place that very few other people were going to.  Maine fit the bill.  Very few people want to move to a place like Maine.  Some think they do, but what they really want is a vacation.  Life in Maine is hard.  There are very few high paying careers type jobs here.  We love it here , we are making it work.  That's what you have to do to live here:  make it work, live on less, work more, or move away.  Plain and simple.  

I think I got a little long winded there! whew!  

Anyway, when we were looking for a place to live, were we aware of the fact that Maine was the "whitest" state.  Yes we were.  Just like we were aware of other places in the country that were the least "white'  .  If Maine, with all its beauty and shortcomings, just happened to be 90% racially "unwhite" would we have still moved here?  Probably not.  

So, look at it the other way.  If an "unwhite" family was looking for a new home in a new place they might also take into consideration the same things we did.  I don't see that as being racist, but I'm sure some will.

I believe that Maine is the "whitest" state because it's just darn hard to make it here. There are so many other places in this country that life is easier in.  Heck!  did I even mention the rocks?!!!   Just try and grow something here!  lol    In the almost 14 years that we have lived here I have not seen any evidence of racism.  Maine is the land of "live and let live"  Mainers can be very standoffish, but if you need something, anything, no matter who you are or what color your skin, or where you are from, they will be there for you. 

Writing articles like this without having solutions (should there even be one?)  is just plain
"looking for a fight".  Controversy at it's finest.  Should the government force some of us Mainers to move to Detroit?  At least it's still cold there!  Should the government force some native Mississippians to move to Maine?  They would surely freeze and go stir crazy!  

Last I knew this was still a free country and anyone could try and make a go of it anywhere they wanted.  (and could afford to--after all free doesn't apply to everything)

Maine: the way life should be! (once you get above Portland anyway.  )


Monday, December 4, 2017

Merry Christmas to all humanists and free thinkers!

My hometown hosts a Christmas Parade on the first Saturday in December.  It is a very BIG deal with lots of participants, floats, candy, and spectators.  Main Street is jammed with babies, older people, and everyone else in between celebrating this wonderful Christmas tradition!

The Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce and the City of Ellsworth have NOT caved to the vocal minority and re dubbed it the "Holiday Parade".  Nope.   It is still called the Ellsworth Christmas Parade.

Although the state of Maine is one of the top "unchurched" states in the United States, I don't believe that this statistic reflects a true disbelief in God.  I do still have faith that the majority of my fellow Mainers, and especially my fellow Ellsworthians still have a fear and respect of God despite the fact that they don't attend church.  I would bet my bottom dollar that a true majority of them believe in the gospel message, but don't accept it for themselves for a variety of reasons.  And that is what they must do to come before God:  accept it for themselves.  Trust Jesus for your salvation.  That is what makes a Christian a christian--a personal relationship.

As we made our way down Main Street to the toy store for a quick visit, I heard christian music being played from one of the businesses there!  Amazing!  So that is where we stayed to view the parade.

The parade contained the usual participants of military, cartoon characters, boys and girl scouts, bands,  business, floats, fire engines,  and, of course, Santa!  Over and over again people were shouting "Merry Christmas!"  There were at least three floats representing area churches.  This year, for the first time, another organized religion entered a float in the parade:  Downeast Humanists and Free thinkers.

hmmmmmmmmm

They were quoted as saying that they wanted to be represented in the community in what they referred to as the "Holiday" Parade.

okaaaaaayyyyyyy

So, hey!  It's a free country, right?

On the side of their float was a sign that said "Happy Winter Solstice."  Pretty harmless.  After all, I do believe that there is a shortest day in the year.  But here is the deal people:

It's the Ellsworth Christmas Parade
not the "Winter" parade
not the "Holiday" parade
not the "solstice" parade.

THE CHRISTMAS PARADE! 

but.....for how long?   They are a small group of sad looking older folk, but in my experience as an American lately it seems the small minority has the loudest voice.

Sooooo...................

They were handing out bookmarks with candy attached (of course)  Written on these was :
                     The Axial tilt is the reason for the seasons.

Are you kidding me?

Okay humanists and free thinkers everywhere...........

LISTEN UP!
WE KNOW THAT ALREADY!!!!  lol

However,
We give glory to God, creator of heaven and earth for designing and creating this wonderful system--the earth being hung perfectly in space to provide the conditions necessary for mankind to thrive here.

Can I get an Amen?!!!

I feel sorry for humanists and free thinkers.  They have so much to learn.  Their eyes need to be opened to their need for God.  They must have a massive amount of unanswered questions about themselves and the world they live in.  The "whys" can be overwhelming for a christian, can you imagine the pressure of taking it all on yourself, only believing in yourself?

Earlier I referred to the humanists and free thinkers as an organized religion.
 Humanism is a religion, and Satan is it's god.  We must pray for their salvation and the wisdom and patience and love necessary for us to live alongside them in this world, in our communities.

Being a church goer will not impress the world.....or God.  So statistics are meaningless.  Shining Christ's light and love onto those around us............Now that will be impressive!

Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Empty Nest Thanksgiving

Every day is a great day to give thanks to God!

But alas!  There is a holiday for this!

I'm thinking that this is our seventh year of being alone on Thanksgiving Day.  I think that we may have gone to MA somewhere in there since our youngest was married, but...pretty much we have been alone......

....Weird to say "alone" because we aren't alone.  We have each other.  And for that I am grateful.

Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday.  I have always struggled with Christmas.  But Thanksgiving was a holiday I could be thankful for.  hehehehe

Coming from a disjointed (I will leave it at that) family, holidays were always difficult for me.  But eventually I had my husband and my children around me. With homeschooling being our lifestyle, the time surrounding Thanksgiving was filled with interesting lessons and projects and the teaching of the "whys" of the day.

But things change and you have to go along with it.  At least on the outside.  The inside takes quite a while.  First the sons grew up and married.  The traditions and celebrations of their spouses families overtook our small celebration in this new home where we had no other family.   Then the daughter grew up and married.  Again, the traditions and celebrations of her husband's family won out over ours. 

We tried for a bit to "fit" ourselves into this new Thanksgiving.  The bits and pieces. Feeling like I would just take any little bit that was left over.  But that didn't make me happy.  We tried going away to a family celebration, but we just wanted to be home for the holiday.

We had to make the decision to open our hands and let go.  I would be lying if I said that this empty nest Thanksgiving was a piece of cake.  It's not.  But we are learning how to cope.  Maybe even learning how to embrace it.  I know it's mostly me, but what affects me, affects my other half.

Last year was the first year that I got through the holiday without breaking down.  We had a big project to work on (chicken pen).  So we worked hard all day while the dinner cooked, then sat down and ate together.  Grateful to be together and to have accomplished something that day.

This year we have another full day of projects planned.  The turkey is already cooked, so just some sides and a pie to be prepared.  I think we have adjusted to this holiday being "just us"  The struggle is still there.  My heart gets weird tugs through the day.  And yes, I still break down and cry a little when I see the pics posted on social media of my family.  Each one of my families sitting around a big table celebrating.  On one hand I'm happy that my children and grandchildren have that.  On the other hand I'm sad that I still don't.  But it's only for Thanksgiving, I know.

I often wonder why it has worked out this way.  I'm always looking for learning experiences in everything.  I know that if I pushed hard enough and my wheel was squeaky enough, I could force my wants on other people.  But I don't and I won't.

I guess the lesson is to let go........and be okay with that.

When it comes to Thanksgiving I can either sink or swim.  I've almost sank a few times, but now I'm swimming like a madman.....

after all.........I need to burn lots of calories to justify that pie!

p.s.  and we get all of the pie for ourselves!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Prayerful insights

I've been studying a book:  Prayer by Philip Yancey.
This is probably the 4th or 5th time that I have gone through this book.
It never gets old.
These human reminders of why?  how?
So many great stories, examples, little tidbits, and quotes.
I love it and recommend it!

Right now I'm in the chapter about unanswered prayer.
It's probably the most difficult topic surrounding prayer.
A few of the notes I jotted down:

*pray for companionship, not petition.  God knows.
*God's ways are not our ways.
*prayer changes us, not God.

So, my thoughts are that we just have to trust..........but it was still confusing, even unsettling at times.
Then last night I received a text asking me to pray for a young mother who has received a cancer diagnosis.  And at that moment a thought entered my mind....

            When we pray for healing, our prayer is ALWAYS answered!

God spoke this to me!  I heard this thought and began to explore it using everything I know to be true about God and His promises. 

This world is not our home.  This life is the journey, not the destination.  These are two truths that I cling to!

So if we suffer a serious illness or accident, and prayers for healing are sent up and our earthly bodies die anyway;  OUR PRAYERS HAVE BEEN ANSWERED!  We are home!  Completely healed!

And if we recover and our earthly bodies live on, Our prayers have also been answered!  We continue our journey!

It's hard to see and understand things from God's perspective.  We aren't meant to.  We need to trust in His perfect plans. 

But there is a peace in KNOWING  that God does answer prayers.



Sunday, October 1, 2017

The 30 day challenge

It's hard to believe that I have not blogged for a few months.  Such is my life, so busy and full, but I am feeling the need to empty my thoughts more.  That is why I have this blog.  Oh, and the other reason is that I am an introvert and still feel the need to communicate!

On September 1st I began a 30 day exercise challenge.  Since I injured my achilles a year and a half ago I have become somewhat lazy on that front.  I set out to walk outdoors or on the elliptical machine for a minimum of 20 per day.

Well, the results are in!  Out of the 30 days I ended up with 24 completed and 6 that I did not walk.  The majority of the failed days were in the last week or so as I caught a head cold and used it as an excuse.

I discovered from my efforts this past month that I am a total procrastinator (I already knew that) and most days I walked on the elliptical between 7 and 8 pm!  There were a few things that I liked about exercising that late in the day.  I kept the room dark and listened to music with my headphones.  It was kind of nice.  I also probably burned off some of my dinner calories.

However, my mind still says that I should go for walks outdoors as much as possible--in the fresh air and sunshine.


When I set out in the beginning of September I had a few people ask if I was going to count steps, as fit bitting is now all the rage.  I do not count steps.  I do see the advantage of it in that it reminds people to move more and sit less.  But what I am after are the benefits of bumping my heart rate up for 20 + minutes at a time.

October is a beautiful month to get out and walk before winter sets in.  Who wants to join me?

Friday, June 30, 2017

The truth about long marriages

This post could also be entitled

"How to stay married when you are both sinners saved by grace"

We have been married for 34 years.  We have known each other for 39 years.

It's a long time!

We just passed our anniversary a week ago.  On social media I posted a picture of us with the title
"neither one has gone missing yet"   My husband shared the picture and wrote "another happy year of marriage".

.......neither one of these comments were portraying the truth about our marriage.   That bothers me.  I read too many blogs, and too many social media posts that set the bar far too high.  If only you follow these 5 easy steps, then you too can have the marriage of your dreams!  Ha!

So many marriages don't make it.  I think they don't make it for a variety of reasons.  I will address at least two here.

1.  God is not the center.  Now I'm not even going to pretend that I'm speaking to the entire population here.  As a Christian, I'm going to speak as a Christian.  If you don't acknowledge the fact that God owns your marriage, that what He wants and desires from us is supreme over what we want, then you are doomed to fail.

2.  Selfishness.  If one or the other has a selfish streak, then there is bound to be trouble.  If both have one, then you are doomed to fail.

I can only speak for myself.  I want to be honest because I think that there are a ton and a half of people that need to hear this message.  Marriage is hard.  Marriage is not all fun and games.  Marriage has a purpose.  My opinion is that if you are in a marriage that is over the top happy, happy, joy, joy, all of the time........then you are hiding something.  yes!  You are!  You have settled and you don't feel passionately about your life.

I love my husband and he loves me.  We struggle, a lot!  We are both sinners, saved by grace.  We are trying to live out our lives according to God's will, not our own.  We have a good life and if we had to weigh it out on a set of scales, the happy would win.  But there would still be an abundance of sad.
We will be learning how to make this work until the day we die.  We know that and we accept the challenge.

Having the love of Jesus in our hearts does not shield us from marriage troubles.  But it does help keep us centered when all around us it's storming.  I heard a song this morning; Let it Rain and the words said "just because it's pouring down doesn't mean we're gonna drown...let it rain"  Sometimes you have to fight and cry and pray your way through the stormy stuff.  Wait it out.  Another song line I heard says "a bitter heart turns the love we made to ashes"

We aren't perfect and our marriage is not perfect (far from it)  But God is perfect and God trusted us with the relationship, this family, this life.  God knows best and we won't question Him.

Each day is a new chance to try harder.  Yeah, I used to believe that.

It's better to believe that each moment is a new chance to try harder.

Put God first and your spouse second.  That's the only advice I can give.