How Do We Navigate The World From A Christian Perspective?

Smooth sailing…that’s what we all would like, isn’t it? Navigating through the issues that this world presents is anything but smooth sailing. We are constantly bombarded with information and news about problems in all parts of the world. How do we sort it all out? How do we make sense of the things we need to? Can we find the time to contemplate the really important matters that face us? And what about the issues behind the issues? I don’t have all the answers, but I would like to share my thoughts on some of the subjects we all deal with. And I would love your input, too. Come join me as we learn to navigate the world from a Christian perspective.


A Bachelor’s in Rescuing, A Masters as an Enabler, and Almost a Doctorate in Co-Dependency

Being a bright child, I was always interested in learning. I graduated from high school and in my late teens and early twenties had achieved my Bachelor’s in Rescuing. I fell in love with a man with emotional problems and PTSD. I believed that if I loved him enough I could make him well. What a shock it was to find out that all of my love made almost no difference in his ability to get better.

Did that experience stop me from going on and getting my Masters as an Enabler? No, it didn’t! I had a step-brother who was an experienced alcoholic an expert manipulator. For a long time, I believed that all he needed was the right situation to turn his life around and that he really didn’t want to drink. Thousands of dollars and several years later, I finally realized that he was going to do exactly what he wanted and all the wringing of my hands and helping him was only enabling him to continue in his lifestyle.

At that point, I was well on my way to getting my Doctorate in Co-Dependency. I had three friends that I thought needed my help and I was continually there to meet their needs whenever they called. I had spent thousands of dollars on my Doctorate and was well into my Practicum when I realized that this might not be the career path I wanted to follow.

Thirty years had gone by while I was pursuing my education. I was in my mid-fifties when the light started to dawn. I realized I had spent my life helping many who didn’t really want my help; they just wanted my attention. For a while I felt hurt, used and manipulated by those around me. I blamed them until I realized that they were not the problem. I was.

I had not been able to say “No” to people who appeared to be in need but really weren’t. I had not been able to discern what was really going on behind the scenes in their lives. Now I am pursuing a different career path: Optometry.

My vision has always been poor and I am trying to see the world from a better perspective. I want to see people for who they really are and still have the ability to love them but not get involved in their lives to the detriment of my own. Starting on a new career path later in life is difficult but not impossible. It certainly doesn’t take the time and money my first one did and I feel quite a bit saner on this journey. I feel a lot more freedom and have more choices now that I can say “No.”

Can any of you relate? Are you on the same journey I am?

Note: I am on hiatus for the next few weeks, and am reposting a few faves from last year!




Promoting Civility In The Public Discourse

One would have to be living completely off the grid, away from all forms of communication, to be unaware that there is a problem with civility in our society. In their latest survey, “Civility in America VII: The State of America,” Weber, Shandwick/Powell Tate and KRC Research show that three quarters of Americans believe that incivility has risen to crisis levels. I think we can all agree that this survey is probably a very accurate portrayal of the problem.

When asked the question, “What is making civility worse?”, 75% of respondents felt the number one cause of incivility was politicians. Coming in second at 69% was the internet and social media followed by the news media at 59%. Since these three areas are clearly in the realm of public discourse, what can we do to promote civility within them?

We know that politicians, social sites and the news media all are sensitive to public opinion. I believe that we, as citizens, should be quick to speak up wen we hear or see incivility in these areas. A polite phone call, email, comment or even a letter will let the offending party know that we find their remarks offensive. If they get enough feedback, they will hopefully, think twice before using uncivil or inflammatory rhetoric when speaking about a group of people or  a problem we face.

Another extremely effective way to show our disapproval of incivility is the vote. We can vote against those politicians that use their bully pulpit to denigrate others. We can quit following social sites where incivility is rampant and we can stop watching television programs where incivility is the norm.

The survey also showed that 94% of people believed that they were always or usually polite and respectful to others. If there is a problem with incivility in the public discourse, and there is, then we are not being truthful with ourselves. Individually we must be contributing to the problem in one area or another, and we must take a good hard look and ask ourselves where are we part of the problem.

How well mannered are we when we are driving on the freeway? How do we react when we have to wait in line at the store? What do we do when someone accidentally crowds into our personal space in an airplane or a subway? What is our reaction when we hear a crying baby in a public place?

These situations test the limits of our patience and are hotbeds for incivility. If we take a deep breath before we react, we can help change the atmosphere around us. We can respond kindly and with a civil comment that will not exacerbate the situation we find ourselves in.

If we want to promote civility in the public discourse, we will have to take steps to do it on a public and personal level. We will have to be willing to make our voices known to those serving in the public arena and we will have to hold ourselves accountable in the situations we find ourselves in daily. One person can make a difference and several people can make a large impact on the level of incivility in our society today.

Students Were the Key to Stopping the Viet Nam War – They Will Be the Key to Stopping Gun Violence in Their Schools

During the 1960’s and 1970’s, students were the key to stopping the Viet Nam War. Young  males were being drafted to go and fight in a war that had nothing to do with the safety and security of our nation. Defense contractors were making millions off the war and they were a powerful lobby in our capital that supported keeping the war going. There was a struggle in Washington D.C., but not much headway was being made to stop the war. Then came Kent State…

Four students were shot by the National Guard and died at Kent State while protesting the war. That tragedy rocked our nation and became the turning point in public opinion against the war. It took the deaths of only four students in order to rally the needed support to build a large coalition of people. Students, veterans, adults from every walk of life, and politicians began to work to stop our involvement in the war.  Eventually the war ended, and a look back shows that it was the student protests that had the biggest influence on how society viewed the war in Viet Nam.

Here we are several decades later with another national tragedy on our hands. Last week 17 students were killed in the Florida shooting. This, of course, was not the first school shooting, they have been going on for over two decades. Every time it happens, there is a national outcry and outpouring of grief, but the noise subsides and people go about their business as usual.

This time it is different. Students have begun to rally and protest in order to keep their schools safe. They have a right to safe schools and they have the power to begin a movement to put pressure on the government to make our schools safe. Again, at its very core, the issue is about money. Money is usually at the bottom of most of these issues, and those that have the most to gain will be protesting the loudest against changing the laws.

It took the deaths of four students to shock the populace of the United States and force them to take a serious look at the issues involving the Viet Nam War. A lot more than four students have been killed in our schools and we, as the populace, should be shocked and outraged that this kind of carnage continues to happen in America.

I stand with the Florida students in the their protests and hope that in every state students will rise up and demand that they be kept safe at their schools. They, and only they have the power to change the opinions of the public, and their voices should be heard. After all, they are the ones dying, and their only crime is that of attending a public school. 

Monks, Hermits, Anchorites and Intercessors – Praying For Our World Today.

“Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.” Revelation 8:3-4. NKJV

Unbeknownst to most people, there are thousands of individuals hidden away from society who have chosen to give their lives over to the contemplation of God and intercession for this world. Many of these people live in monasteries, and have left all their worldly affairs in order spend time focused on God and praying for others. We know them as monks, and they are scattered around the world in monasteries. They follow an ancient tradition and live with their brothers and/or sisters and spend their lives in an ordered existence. They pray, work for the good of their order, and intercede for those of us in secular society.

Hermits are different. They have chosen a solitary life away from all society. They live in small huts or caves and spend their time in prayer and contemplation. They usually provide for their own living by growing food or scavenging from the land around them. Some are provided for by others who bring them gifts of food and firewood, in order to supplement their humble existence.

Anchorites are those individuals who have chosen to be shut away completely from society. They spend their time praying for the world and for others who may contact them with specific prayer requests. They are usually associated with a monastery or church and have their food delivered to them a few times a day. A person can choose to shut themselves away for a short time; a week or month, or longer if they so desire.

Intercessors come in various forms. They may be set apart from society by choice or by necessity, or are not set apart at all. Many live in care homes or in their own homes and cannot get out any longer. They have chosen to give their lives over to prayer and intercession for others. Other intercessors live within the confines of modern society but still have chosen to spend a great deal of their time praying for us and the problems of this world.

Why would anyone choose such a life? Does it make any difference in our world today that there are thousands of individuals who spend their precious time praying for us? To find the answer, one needs to only look around at our fragmented and troubled world. What is keeping it together? Why hasn’t it gone off the rails yet? I suspect that until we step into eternity, we will never know the efficacy of the prayers that have been prayed for us, either individually or collectively, by those who have chosen to live a sacrificial life in order to seek God and intercede for us.





Children – Our Most Valuable Asset – How Can We Protect Them From Gun Violence?

No matter where one stands on the gun issue, one fact will always remain true. Those who intend to commit a crime will find a way to obtain a gun. They can always find a source, albeit illegal, that will provide them with weapons for the right amount of money. It’s true in this country and it’s true in every other country in the world.

School administrators need to take a look at inner-city schools and learn a lesson from them. They have analyzed their threat, i.e. drug dealers and gang members, and have allocated funds to provide resource personnel in order to protect their students while they are on school premises. The students of inner-city schools still have safety issues, but their issues lie with getting to and from school safely.

Students in suburban school districts can get to and from school safely. Their parents may drive them or they may drive themselves to school. The threat to their safety lies within the student body itself. Any one of the students in their school could, at any point in time, decide to commit a horrific crime. School districts need to allocate funds for adequate resource personnel in order to protect their students. Money cannot be the issue, as the life of just one of their students has to be worth more than any dollar amount.

School districts also need the media’s help in order to prevent these kinds of crimes. A psychologist needs to explain to the media that they are giving the perpetrators of these crimes exactly what they are looking for, notoriety. For a few brief days, the perpetrator gets to be the center of attention from the media. They will analyze his social posting and make him, in some sick way, famous. These individuals preplan their crimes and know what will happen to them. They want to have the highest body count possible in order to make the media focus on them for as long as possible.

There are lots of reasons we have gun violence in our schools: mental health issues, bullying, gratuitous violence in movies and games, and the breakdown of the family. We cannot solve all of these issues at once, but we can at least allocate the funds in order to protect our children, our most valuable resource, from the negative consequences of them. We can also refuse to name the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes , and not give them the notoriety they are seeking.

Note: These ideas are not original to me. They have been suggested by various people in their quest to prevent school violence. This post was written after a discussion with my son, Shawn who is on the Safety Team. His team manages threat assessment and protection of large groups of people. These are just two areas that could be worked on in an attempt to protect our children. There are many more. We must take seriously the threat to our children and start somewhere.






A Love For The Ages

This being the week of Valentine’s Day, it got me to thinking about love. When most of us think about a love for the ages, we think about Romeo and Juliet or Helen and Paris. Both tales envision star-crossed lovers, whose love ends in their own deaths or the deaths of hundreds of others. These couples’ stories, famous in literature, may or may not have been founded on real people. We look at them and think, now there is a love for the ages. But is it? Their love burned brightly, was short-lived and had tragic consequences. 

There is another kind of love, though. After the heat of passion has cooled a bit, this love is based on commitment and understanding. Can we find that kind of love among people we know personally or people we see in the media? Indeed, it is hard to find  in this selfish self-centered world.

When I think of that kind of love, a real love for the ages, I think of our friends, Peg and Dave. We first met them about thirty five years ago when they moved from California to our small town in Oregon to start a franchised business. We walked into their shop one day and ended up becoming life-long friends. Peg worked with Dave at the shop and I had the privilege of taking care of their son. Many Friday nights, we would get together, have dinner and laugh until our sides hurt. 

The economy made a down-turn and they were unable to keep the shop. It was a great economic loss for them, but they continued to stay together as Dave looked for another job. They had to leave their friends and move to a bigger city where Dave found a job with a well-known corporation. When we traveled there, we were able to visit them and see how they were doing. About twenty years ago, Dave told us he had a numb feeling in his legs and that when he ran, he couldn’t feel the lower half of his body. These symptoms forced him to go to a doctor, go through a multitude of tests, and find out he had M.S.

Dave continued to work at his desk job until he was past retirement age, and when he was ready, he quit. Dave’s symptoms became worse and worse until eventually he moved into a care facility. That was several years ago. Occasionally, I would call Peg and ask her how Dave was. She always told me Dave was well, and that she would make the thirty mile round trip to visit him daily. She said Dave never complained, that he was kind to his attendants and always said “Thank you” when they helped him. 

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. I called Peg to see how they were doing. She said Dave can no longer talk but he is just the same on the inside. He gives her a big smile every day she goes to see him, and she was taking him a piece of pie for Valentine’s Day. 

After I got off the phone with her, I reflected on their love. A love that is filled with courage, compassion and commitment. I am in awe of that kind of love and I would call that truly “A Love For The Ages.”


Here’s to Authors….of Every Kind

I owe a great debt to authors…of every kind. First, I owe a great debt to literary authors. They have educated and entertained me for decades. The first author that gave me a love for reading was Dr. Seuss. I started reading “On Beyond Zebra” and when I couldn’t pronounce some of the words, my father took over and read it to me until tears ran down my face from laughter. Because of that author, I was hooked. Reading could be fun, entertaining, and heaven forbid…educational.

From there, I read a few hundred books growing up. We had a screened-in porch, and during the hot summer months, I spent a lot of afternoons reading. When my parents went to the World’s Faire in New York, they dropped me off at my aunt and uncle’s place in Washington. Far from any library, the only thing to read was the Encyclopedia Britannica, which I did in my spare time. I think I only got through C, as I remember having a hard time trying to figure out how to pronounce Czechoslovakia. My aunt’s favorite line was, “Get your nose out of those books and go outside and play!” There was no one to play with in the country, so it was kind of a mute point. After a few minutes doing cartwheels on the front lawn, I would come back in and continue reading.

As I grew up and went to high school, authors took me to far away places and made me think deeply about issues. Nevil Shute’s “On the Beach” left a lasting impression on me as did Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet.” Throughout college, I didn’t do much outside reading as the college professors kept me busy with their list of required reading (Ugh!).

As an adult, I continue to read for pleasure and information. I love historical fiction where I can kill two birds with one stone, i.e. be entertained and learn a bit more about history. Every author has become a passing friend to me as I read their books and got to know them a bit in the process. Some authors are literary giants and others are those who expanded my mind and allowed me to see into their different worlds.

There are other kinds of authors who have affected my life. My five brothers for example, whom I would have called “The Authors of Chaos and Confusion” during my childhood. There are “The Authors of Domesticity,”  those poor souls who were tasked with teaching me to clean and cook, no matter how unwilling I was. There are “The Authors of a Disciplined Mind,” those unappreciated nuns at Sacred Heart Academy who forced me to do homework and pushed me to learn more than I ever wanted to…a belated thank you, wherever you are.

Then, there is my favorite author, Jesus Christ, the “Author and Finisher of my Faith.” He took an unwilling, undisciplined adult and through no virtue of her own, placed in her the gift of an Eternal Faith. I shudder to think of where she would be without Him. I’m sure she would be long gone, since she was bent on pursuing many worldly avenues, without much regard for social mores or her own safety, for that matter. 

So to all the authors who have enriched my life…you have my deepest appreciation! 










Don’t let the Bean Counters Determine Your Value or Worth

Have you ever worked in the corporate world? Then you know who has the final say on most decisions…the Bean Counters. They will be in to let you know how the company is doing financially: assets vs. deficits. When your group has a great innovative idea and wants to implement it, they will also be there ultimately to tell you if it is feasible. Great ideas and innovations are lost many times because the Bean Counters won’t take the risk of trying something new. They quantify everything, and it’s always about the bottom line.

Maybe you haven’t worked in the corporate world, but you do live in a society where everything is quantified in a numerical sense. You go to a school. You are administered an IQ test, have a grade point average and are judged in your college admissions by your SAT or ACT score. You want a loan. You fill out a form and you must put all of your assets are on one side of the sheet and your debits are on the other side. Then a Bean Counter will decide if you qualify for the loan based on the numbers.

A Bean Counter will assess the value of our house, but isn’t its real value in the warmth, protection, and security it provides as a home? Does your car only have the value it provides as a status symbol, or is its safety and reliability worth much more than that?

It is easy to let Bean Counters determine our value and worth. But should we? Don’t we all have an intrinsic value that cannot be quantified numerically? We know we do, but many times we accept our value based on the Bean Counter’s evaluation of our assets, i.e. our economic net worth. How can we get away from such a cold, crass evaluation of our own value and the value of everything around us?

We must choose a different paradigm in order to evaluate our worth. Many people let their religious beliefs help them determine their intrinsic value or worth. For me, I try to see myself and others through a Christian world view. Christianity holds a high view of humanity and of each person’s intrinsic worth. We are taught that God Himself sent his Son to die on the cross for our sins in order to purchase our ticket to heaven. If God would pay such a high price for us, we must have great value to Him.

That thought makes me want to love and value my neighbors, whether they live next door or on the next continent. Their needs affects me: their hunger, thirst, or lack of medical care affects me because God values them highly. 

That goes for you, too. Don’t ever think that you don’t have much value. You are worth more than you can ever imagine. You are precious in God’s sight and He paid the highest price so that you can live with Him forever.  In other words, you are priceless, so don’t let anything or anyone, especially a Bean Counter, take that away from you.






Living a Black and White Life in a Full Colour World

The other evening, I watched a segment on the nightly news where a man received a gift from his family. He had not been able to see colour his entire life, and his family had gotten the money together to buy him special glasses that allowed him to see colour. It was a total surprise to him. He opened the box and stared at the glasses. He put them on and looked around, then he started crying. I was very touched by the man’s reaction as he saw what he had been missing all of his life. 

It got me to thinking, how many times have I lived a black and white life in a full colour world? Like everyone else, my life has had its share of difficult times and heartbreaking losses. These seem to be the times the colours around me have dimmed and I was unable to see them clearly.

I remember when I was about twelve, my father and step-mother decided to get a divorce. My father was unable to find a suitable place for us to live on short notice  and so we moved from a beautiful home into housing that had been built during the second world war. My world was turned upside down with the loss of my step-mother and step-siblings together with being forced to move into an entirely new neighborhood. For several months I tried to adapt to my new surroundings. At first the world did seem black and white, but as I met the people I lived around, the colour began to return. They seemed to have a great sense of humor about the neighborhood we lived in. When we moved out six months later into our own home, I missed those people and the laughter and love they brought into my life. 

The next time I couldn’t see colour in my world was when I was twenty-four. I moved away from my husband and filed for divorce. I took my six-week old son, a diaper bag, my purse and purchased a plane ticket. My hopes and dreams had been crushed and I was now starting a new life as a single parent. For several months, my world was black and white as I began to make a life for myself and my son. I opened a business and after a few months began to think about the future. The colours returned to my life slowly; they were like pastels, very faint. It wasn’t until a young man came into the gallery and introduced himself, that the vivid colours began to return. After several months, I could finally see the full spectrum of colour again.

For twenty years the colours remained bright as my children grew up. There was lots of activity but unbeknownst to me, I was getting my identity from them in my role as a mother. When they left to pursue their own dreams, my world turned to black and white again and the colour left. It took a while to find the colour again as I  looked for meaning and purpose in the world around me. The colours returned as I began to look for another place to give my time and energy. Eventually, I volunteered with a women’s group and found new meaning and purpose in my life.

I had four or five full colour years after that and then the colours in my life began to dim again. My father, who had been both mother and father to me, died and I had to process that loss. The colours didn’t stay dim for long as I kept remembering his joy for life. He had the capacity to enjoy everything and find humour in it all and I tried to follow his example. I knew he would not want me to grieve long; so I forced myself to look for the bright colours around me. Again, they returned and I could see fully the colours in my world.

For the next decade, the colours grew bright and dim depending on the losses I experienced. All of my elderly relatives passed and with each loss I had a time where I couldn’t see the full colours of the spectrum. With all of the losses, I began to learn a new lesson about how to live seeing clearly in a full colour world. 

You see, the world is always full of colours. Many times I have to choose to see them, will myself to see them, and even pretend to see them when I don’t. I must make the choice. If I will keep choosing to see the beauty of the colours around me, I will eventually see them, no matter what is going on in my world. 



Are you a Populist or an Elitist?

Last week, I took a survey from the Harvard Digital Lab for Social Sciences. The questions were about how I viewed politicians. I didn’t rate them very high and didn’t think that just because they were politicians, they had a better grasp on a lot of the issues than the average person. (This weekend, I am watching the government shutdown and quite frankly, it is confirming my opinions.) At the end of the survey, possibly because of my answers, the last question was, “Are you a Populist?”

I didn’t really know how to answer that last question. I have never thought of myself as a Populist, but what is the antithesis of a Populist? An Elitist? In order to better formulate my opinion, I checked Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary and looked up the two definitions: “Populist – a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people,” “Elitist – one whose attitudes and beliefs are biased in favor of a socially elite class of people.” There was also a quote by Michael Barone under the Elitist definition that stated that a Populist “believes that people can make better decisions for themselves than Elites can.”

Certainly, by those definitions, I am a Populist.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate a person’s education and won’t seek out a doctor or other educated professional to help me when I have a need. I don’t look to my neighbor for help when my appendix is hurting, and I don’t ask my girlfriends questions about my taxes. I do look to those with more learning and experience than I have when I am dealing with a subject that I don’t fully understand.

Back to the subject of politicians, I certainly do not believe they are an elite group of people. They may have more education and experience than I do at their chosen profession, but I don’t view them as any better than anyone else. For the most part, from what I have observed, their main focus is on becoming re-elected. Solving the problems of our society seem to come in a poor second to playing to whichever base they need for their next run for office. Whether a politician is educated at Harvard or a state-run school, I believe the greatest quality we need from them is integrity. I want a politician to be concerned about the needs of the people and have the integrity to work for the good of the people he serves. I want him or her to work with the other party, if needed, in order to achieve the best outcome for whatever problem they are dealing with. 

I know our founding fathers did not trust the common people of their time to make good decisions for themselves. They were better educated than the average citizen, many of whom could not read or write.  They were the Elites of their day. In today’s society, the average citizen can read and write and has the opportunity to enhance his education as much as he or she wants to. So I have come to a conclusion about my question, “Populist or Elitist?” I am a Populist. What about you?