Don’t Trust the Sherpa Completely

In the middle of the Cascade Range in Oregon there is a group of mountains called The Three Sisters. Each one can be climbed, but the level of difficulty is different. The South Sister is supposed to be a fairly easy climb, the Middle Sister is a bit harder and the North Sister is a technical climb, meaning you will need mountain climbing equipment to make it to the top safely.

My husband met a man who took groups of people up the Middle Sister and he wanted to go again as he had climbed it when he was a teenager. We met the man and he told us what we would need to prepare for the climb. He said, “You won’t need an ice ax or crampons, just good boots. So okay, we were in. 

Several of us went including my back-packing buddy, Ann. It took several hours, but most of us were able to make it to the top. A few couldn’t quite make it up because they began to have problems with the altitude. They would be picked up on the way down.woman-1209866_1280 

The view from the top of the mountain was magnificent. Looking north, we could see several mountains in the Cascades including a few in Washington. Looking south we had a different panoramic view extending into California. We could see hundreds of miles in any direction. It was spectacular to say the least. We stayed up there for a while, then decided to descend.

There was another man in the group who was also a leader. He was going to take everyone down the mountain as the man we talked to wanted to glissade down one of the glaciers. My husband wanted to try it, and why Ann and I followed, I will never know. So off our Sherpa went. He took out his ice axe and went down. My husband followed without an ice axe and told us to be careful as there was a crevasse down at the bottom. Ann and I held hands as we slid down the glacier on our bottoms. My husband waited at the bottom to keep us from going into the crevasse.  Slowly, ever so slowly, we went down. Then we carefully walked across the glacier and got on the main path that led down the mountain.

adventure alpine climb cold

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

To say that Ann and I were angry is an understatement. We felt that it wasn’t safe to go down the glacier without an ice ax and crampons would have been very helpful as we traversed the glacier. Should I have done more research before I went and not have totally relied on my Sherpa’s advice? Probably, yes. 

The leader that talked to us was right, of course. To go up and down the mountain normally you would not need extra equipment. To do anything else, it would have been wise to have it. That experience taught me not to trust my Sherpa completely. I learned that whatever situation I am in, I must take responsibility for myself and do my own research and decide what will be needed for whatever undertaking I intend to proceed with. Then, and only then, can I make an informed decision and be prepared for wherever I am going and whatever I am doing.hiking-1582295_1280 photo by cssharker courtesy of pixabay

It is unwise to follow blindly and trust anyone completely. Humans are fallible and anyone can give us wrong or incomplete information. We each need to be responsible for ourselves and not trust our Sherpa completely. After all, you never know when you will be in a situation where you need an ice axe or crampons (or anything else for that matter)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness Comes Before Freedom in the Dictionary

Remember when you were in grade school and your teacher was teaching you how to use the dictionary? You worked on papers where you had to decide which word came first. You would receive your paper and there would be rows of words, two at a time, and you had to circle the word that came before the other word in the dictionary.  Let’s say the two words were: forgiveness and freedom. Which word would you circle? Forgiveness, of course, it always comes before freedom in the dictionary.

black and white book business close up

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Just as it is in the dictionary, so it is in life. Forgiveness always comes before freedom. Over the course of our lives, we receive many offences from people, some large and others minute. We have two choices when we are in a position where someone has offended us: 1. We can either choose to hold on to the offence or 2. We can forgive.

Forgiveness can be a very difficult thing to give in our lives, especially if someone has hurt us deeply. Our tendency is to want to hold on to the hurt and nurse it. After all, we have been wronged. The problem with this attitude is that the unforgiveness that we carry does not necessarily harm the other person; it only harms us. We are a container and when we hold on to an offence, it is like a toxic substance inside of us. The toxic substance does not do our bodies or our minds any good, only harm. 

When it comes right down to it, forgiveness is a choice. We must choose to forgive those that have done us wrong. When we do that we become free of the offence. Is the process instantaneous; we forgive and then we are free? Sometimes, but not usually. Forgiveness is a process. We choose to forgive, and then we begin to walk it out. The memory may come to mind again and again, but each time we say,”I choose to forgive that person; I am not going to carry this around with me any more.”  Over and over, the process repeats, until at some point, the memory fades and that offence no longer has power over us.

You will say to me, “But you don’t understand what so and so has done to me.” You’re right, I don’t understand, but the process is the same. Jesus told us a great story about this principle. In Matthew 18, he tells us about a servant that owed a king a great deal of money; by today’s standards it would be several million dollars. The servant could not pay the debt and the king commanded that the man, his wife and children and all he had be sold to pay the debt. The servant then fell down and begged him to forgive the debt. The king relented and forgave the servant the entire debt.

The servant then went out from the king and found someone who owed him several thousand dollars.  He took the man by the throat and demanded the man pay him what he owed him. The debtor begged the man to have compassion on him and he would pay him what was owed but the servant would not show mercy. He had the man thrown into prison. Soon it was reported to the king what the servant had done to his debtor. The king then called the servant and demanded to know why he had treated the other man so harshly seeing that he had received mercy. He then threw the man into prison until all of his debt was paid. The story ends with this admonition from Jesus, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.

The point of this story is that we all stand before God owing a great debt; that debt being our sins and trespasses. If we want God’s forgiveness, we must be willing to forgive those who have sinned or trespassed against us. It is a spiritual law of the universe. If we want it, we have to be willing to give it.

You will say to me, “But, you still don’t understand what so and so did to me.” You’re right, I don’t, but God does. 

In order to do this, we also must understand what forgiveness is not:

1. Forgiveness IS NOT saying that what the person did was not wrong. It was wrong and nothing will change it.

2. Forgiveness IS NOT saying that the person won’t have to make restitution for what they did to you. They still  may owe a debt to society and may need to go through the judicial system. 

Forgiveness IS you releasing them from the wrong they committed against you. They are still responsible before God and society for what they did. You no longer have to live in a prison of hate or despair over their actions. You can be free from them.

You see, in life, just as it is in the dictionary, forgiveness always comes before freedom.   

 

 

Secrets…”From Their Lips to God’s Ears.”

Before I wrote my last post, I began to think about secrets and how they affect us. I read different studies and articles about secrets. Most studies came to the conclusion that many of the secrets we carry are not harmful but there are some that are not good for us. They usually separated the secrets into two categories: those that we don’t think about and those that we think about a lot. The studies usually concluded that it is the secrets that we continually think about that cause us damage. They cause us stress and we know that stress is not good for us. The studies were very general and a bit vague so I decided to come up with my own SECRETS CHART  and let you know how I try to process them.secret-2725302_1280 Photo by Phlim 1310 Courtesy of Pixabay

                                                        SECRETS CHART

WHITE:

beautiful bloom blooming blossom

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

These secrets are usually very nondescript. Someone may say, “Don’t tell anyone about my makeup secrets or where I got this dress.” These secrets do not evoke an emotional reaction inside of me and they do not affect me one way or the other.

 

BEIGE:

selective focus photography of white petaled flowers

Photo by Irina Kostenich on Pexels.com

These secrets are usually social and relational. I will hear, “Don’t tell anyone that I like him,” or “We’re going together but we don’t want anyone to know.” Again these secrets are just information and again usually they do not affect me one way or the other.

 

YELLOW:

flower roses bloom blossom

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The secrets in this category are of a different sort. These are the secrets that I may hear in the job I work at. These are secrets that, by law or agreement, I am not allowed to tell anyone. When I work in a medical office, people’s health information is private and is protected by law. When I work in an office where there are corporate secrets, I have signed a non-disclosure contract. If I work in an attorney’s office, ditto, attorney-client privilege. These secrets are usually documented but must not leave the office or only leave the office if they are requested legally or subpoenaed. A person must use EXTREME CAUTION with these secrets because if you say anything to anyone, you have broken the law and can lose your job. 

I know that these secrets can affect you emotionally having worked in both a legal office and a medical office. The best thing I can do with them after I have processed them emotionally is to give them to God. I can’t change what I have heard and now know about someone, but I don’t want to carry the information around inside of me. I must pass it along, hence, “From their lips to God’s ears.” I can talk to God about what I know and leave the information with Him. After all, He is in charge of the world, not me.

 

RED:

beautiful bloom blooming blossom

Photo by asim alnamat on Pexels.com

The secrets in this category are DANGEROUS. They make me STOP and do something about them. If someone is breaking the law, I need to report it. If a child tells me they are being abused, I must report it. If someone is stealing from my employer, I need to report it. These are not secrets I am supposed to carry and do nothing about. They are secrets that must come to the light of day and be exposed.

 

BROWN:

rose-1010688_640

These secrets are some of the most difficult to carry. People tell you things before they pass and you are not allowed to share the information. Someone has been cheating on their spouse. A woman wonders if her child belongs to her husband. The secrets in this category are emotionally charged but again, I probably should not take action about them. What do I do with this information so that it doesn’t harm me? Again, after I process these secrets, I must release them to God. I do not want to carry this information and most of the time I did not solicit it. Someone may have confided in me because they thought I was trustworthy. So again, I give the secrets to God, “From their lips to God’s ears.” I let Him carry them.

 

BLACK:

grayscale macro photography of rose

Photo by Karin S on Pexels.com

This category of secrets is the most destructive. These are the “DEEP, DARK SECRETS” that we carry. These secrets consist of things we have done or possibly have been done to us in decades past. There is shame associated with these secrets and we don’t want to talk to anyone about them. What do we do with those secrets? First, we take them to God and talk to Him about them. My motto changes slightly here, it now becomes, “From my lips to God’s ears.”

If we have done wrong, we tell God. The Bible gives us some guidance here: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. We ask for His forgiveness and we ask Him to cleanse us from the sin we are carrying around. Then we see if there is something we need to do about what we have confessed. Is there someone we need to ask forgiveness from? Do we need to call or write a letter? Have we stolen something? Do we need to make amends? These actions help us become free from the hold the secrets have had on us. If we are not sure about what we should do, we may need to speak to a pastor, priest or counselor. These professionals can give us counsel and guidance about how to proceed if we need to make restitution for anything. Many times, there is nothing we should do but let our secrets (sins) go into the Sea of Forgetfulness. We have done what we could and we need to release ourselves from them.

What if the secret is about what someone has done to us? These secrets are a bit trickier. Sometimes bringing these secrets to the light of day will destroy people and families. Is that something I want or need to do? A good place to start with these secrets is with a professional: pastor, priest or counselor. If you are embarrassed, let me tell you, these people have heard everything and nothing you say will surprise them. They can help you sort through the maze of your emotions and help bring you healing and help you figure out if you are supposed to do anything with these secrets.

Do you live in a culture where you cannot share these things with anyone? If you do, will you be blamed as the perpetrator instead of the victim? Will you be punished for what someone did to you? Then you must keep your secret, but share it with a loving God who will be there to help give your heart healing and you vindication. Remember, He has seen what happened to you and He will eventually take care of it in His time. “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord, Romans 12: 19. 

 

Secrets, sometimes they are nothing, sometimes they are everything. Seek counsel if you need it and trust God. He will help guide you through the maze about what to do with them. Most important, don’t let the secrets you carry affect you and your mental and emotional health! 

 

 

 

 

Top Secret Clearances and a Bit of Paranoia – Any Correlation?

We’ve had three different people in our family with a bit of paranoia. For years, we would be at a family gathering and one of them would make a remark. Everyone would listen to the remark and just kind of smile. Oh it’s just so and so, and they have a bit of paranoia, you know. But lately, I’ve been wondering, all three of them had Top Secret Clearances and all of them worked for the government. Do they have legitimate reasons for feeling the way they do?  

communication-2837362_1280

One woman in the family worked at the Embassy in Paris after the Second World War. There were many people who did not have identities and many people that needed to be vetted. There was lots of money to be given to contractors and others  who wanted to be involved in the rebuilding of Europe under the Marshall Plan.  I’m sure that many of them had sketchy backgrounds and each one had to be checked out, then decisions were made about their legitimacy. Many things she was told, she was not even allowed to write down and document. When she left the State Department, she was not debriefed. Until her death, she spoke little about it and carried most of the information around in her head.

 Another relative was in the Air Force and worked for SAC, the Strategic Air Command. This agency’s primary mission was to keep planes and pilots in readiness should there be a nuclear war. He worked as an assistant to the Commander of whatever base he was at. If the Commander got the call, he was there to make sure the command was carried out. He was the only one in the office who carried a weapon. It was a lot of responsibility and he also knew top secret plans and strategies our government had in place should there ever be a nuclear war. 

Still another relative was in the Marine Corps during the Viet Nam War. He also had a Top Secret Clearance and worked in Communications. He has never told any of us exactly what he did, but I know he was in the Far East during some of those years. Of the three of my relatives, I know the least about what he did and why he feels the way he does.

We have listened to all three of our relatives over the years at family functions and they have made statements that to most of us sounded a bit paranoid. But what if they are not? It is very possible that they know a lot more than any of us, but they did not feel they could share more information with us.

We never know where people are coming from and what contributes to their view of the world. Many people have stored a lot of top secret information inside of their brains, but because of the oaths they took are unable to talk about what they know.  We should consider their experience and outlook before we judge them. After all, Top Secret Clearances and a bit of Paranoia could be related, and it just might be for a good reason.   

 

Food Fast…Juice Fast…News Fast?

Lots of us have done a bit of fasting over the years. We may fast from food for one reason or another. Sometimes we fast for health reasons; i.e. we must fast gluten or other foods we are allergic to. At times we go on juice fasts where we spend one day a week drinking juice in order to clean out our bodies. There are a lot of health benefits that have been documented relating to fasting and many of us have tried a  lot of them.

We also fast for spiritual reasons. We want to pray and spend more time focused on God than on our physical needs, so we may fast a meal or two. Other times we may fast one day a week. Sometimes we fast several days at a time in order to try to get God’s attention on a matter. We may also fast based on a spiritual calendar in order to fulfill the requirements of our religious beliefs.

administration articles bank black and white

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

All well and good, but have you ever considered a News Fast? For the past several weeks it has been excruciating to watch the news. Children are suffering, families are separated and politicians are vying for the camera in order to give us their opinion on the problems. Add to that the natural disasters that have occurred, i.e, volcanoes erupting, floods, forest fires and severe storms dropping hail the size of baseballs on people, just to name a few. After a while, any person who has an ounce of sensitivity in their souls can get Compassion Fatigue. We turn on the television and all we see are hurting people and there isn’t much we can do about it. By the time the nightly news is over, we have watched hundreds if not thousands of people deal with some very difficult situations. 

After our thirty minute exposure to the news, we want to be able to focus our minds on something different, but who can? After all, we have just seen tremendous suffering played out in front of our eyes. Many times, we have heard from those suffering in first-person accounts. We cannot easily forget or ignore what they have been going through. 

What can we do when we are confronted with all of the suffering? We can give to a charity that is working with victims of whatever crisis we are watching. We can write or call our congressmen if there is something they can do about a particular problem. And of course, we can pray for those in need. That said though, sometimes we just need to take a break from it all.

When everything gets a bit much for me, I go on a News Fast. I turn off the nightly news and I give myself a few days to recover from all of the suffering I have witnessed. It is the equivalent of taking a few mental health days and I find it’s essential for my state of mind. I may totally unplug and not turn on any kind of technology for a while. It is certainly peaceful and refreshing for me and I find it is necessary to maintain a positive mental attitude.

For centuries, people only knew about what was happening in their particular community. Every now and then, they would get news about what was happening further out from the radius of their communities, but there was no way they could hear about all of the bad news that was happening around the globe. I don’t believe we were created with the capacity to cope with the kinds of trauma we are subjected to night after night on the news without needing a break from it from time to time.

 We need to learn to be kind to ourselves and give ours minds and hearts a break from all of the suffering and spend time focusing on more positive things. There are lots of ways to do this and each one of us knows what works for us to help us destress, unwind and rejuvenate. Whatever it takes, it is important to take care of ourselves so that we can function in a positive way in this problem-laden world we live in. Food Fast…Juice Fast…News Fast? I’ll definitely take the News Fast, thank you!

 

 

 

 

I Saw a Red Horse

rev6-four-horses[1]

About twenty years ago, I was going to the bank to make a deposit. I looked up in  the sky and in the middle of the sky there was a red cloud that was shaped like a horse’s head. It was stunning…all alone in the middle of the sky and it just stayed there. I parked the car and pulled over to look at it. I didn’t have a camera with me so I couldn’t take a picture of it. After a few minutes, I went into the bank and made my deposit. The cloud was still there when I came out and I watched it again. It had not dissipated or changed at all. It was striking and I will never forget it. 

I continued on my errands, went home and cooked dinner for my family. Later that night, a friend of mine called. She was going to a university about 70 miles away on the other side of the mountains. I told her what I had seen and she said she had also seen the same cloud. I thought that was pretty remarkable. I have looked at clouds since I was a child. You can see a shape in them but sooner or later the shape will change and dissipate. Nothing of the sort happened that day with the red horse’s head.

It made me think about the book of Revelation. I had never heard of the book of Revelation before I was a senior in high school. I was in an upper-level English class and we were reading a poem by William Butler Yeats entitled, “The Second Coming.” We discussed the poem and people mentioned the book of Revelation and the Antichrist. I had never heard of those terms because I was Biblically illiterate. I wanted to check them out so I went upstairs to the school library and took a Bible off the shelf. I turned to the book of Revelation and words just started jumping off the page at me. I read about the city on seven hills and immediately knew it was Rome. To say the book caught my attention was an understatement. 

Since that time I have read the book of Revelation many times. I have read several books and commentaries about it. Some people believe it is allegorical and that it describes the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. or the persecution of the Christians in the first centuries by the Roman emperors. Others, like me, take it literally and look for the future signs of its fulfillment. 

For those of you who have not actually read the book of Revelation, it is the last  book in the Bible written by the Apostle John while he was in exile on the Isle of Patmos. It describes the visions he saw while on Patmos. It is filled with lots of symbolism describing God’s final judgments on the earth and the restoration of all things. There are three sets of judgments that come on the earth and the first set opens with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse being unleashed. The first horse is white and carries a figure that many believe to be the Antichrist who will go forth to rule and reign on the earth. The second horse is red and its rider brings war to the earth. The third horse is black and its rider brings famine to the earth. The last horse is pale (chlorus in the Greek) and it brings death upon the earth. Certainly a frightening scenario from any standpoint of view. 

The scholars that take the Book of Revelation literally fall into several camps. Some believe that all of the judgments will happen within a seven year period that will culminate in a final battle being fought on the plains of Megiddo in Israel. Most people refer to this battle as the Battle of Armageddon. (Har Megiddo in the Hebrew -meaning the Mountain of Megiddo) Others believe the judgments will take place over a more prolonged period of time and look back to say World War I as possibly the beginning of the fulfillment of these prophesies. 

Because the book is so symbolic, no one knows for sure exactly how it will unfold. Most all of the symbols in the book are found in the Old Testament. The book of Daniel especially has many symbols that are directly related to the book of Revelation.

I, for one, don’t know for sure when all of these events will take place. There are, however, some very interesting things in the book. For example, in Chapter 8, the third trumpet judgment describes a great burning star falling to earth and polluting the waters. It states that many men will die because of the  water pollution. The name of the star is Wormwood. Wormwood in the Russian and Ukrainian Bibles is translated Chernobyl. I find that interesting, to say the least.

For those of you who haven’t read the book, I would highly recommend it. You will be reading it with fresh eyes and who knows how it will speak to you. There are lots of commentaries and viewpoints about the book of Revelation. I think it is important to read many of the different viewpoints so a person can make an informed decision about what they believe and how they choose to interpret it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sunshine Blogger Award

images[5]I want to thank the two blogs that nominated me for “The Sunshine Blogger Award.”  First, Neal Hansen and his “Love Through Blog.” Neal pours out his heart each week with his blogs and is very real about his struggles and what is on his mind. Second, to the brains and beauty behind the “Have You Ever Noticed Blog.” This blog gives you a smile every time you read it. She notices the things that happen to all of us at the quirkiest times. Please check out both of their blogs. I am going to take a half of the questions from each blogger to answer. 

1. Who is your favorite musical artist?  Bob Dylan – He is a Master Lyricist

2. Where is your favorite place to visit? Ravenna, Italy

3. Museum or amusement park? Museum, Hands Down – Always

4. What would be your advice to someone who has had their heart broken? Give your heart time to heal and life an opportunity to surprise you. Who knows who you will meet?

5. What do you like most about writing your blog? I love it when a post touches someone’s mind or heart.

6. If you could have lunch with one author, who would it be and why? Galla Placidia, Empress of Rome and Queen of the Goths. She had an amazing life and wrote many papers and decrees during her time in power.

7. If you could return to any decade and visit a movie set, which would you like to see and why? I would like to be on the set of Gladiator. I love Roman history and I loved the story line – especially knowing that both Marcus Aurelius and Commodus were real people. (Thank you, Edward Gibbon!)

8. What is a song that makes you smile? “We Shall Behold Him” by Sandi Patty.

9. What advice would you give to your younger self? Stay away from the boys ’til you are about 25, you will get a lot more accomplished.

10. If you could earn a gold medal in any sport what would it be? Ice Dancing. It is my favorite sport to watch.

11. What does the Sunshine Blogger Award mean to you? It means that my blog has touched people and that blogging is a worthwhile pursuit.

For those who choose to accept The Sunshine Blogger Award, you must answer the eleven questions and nominate eleven blogs that bring Sunshine into others’ lives. So go for it!

My nominees:

Sunshiny SA Site – Kavita Ramlal

tanya britton

paintdigi

ChronosFeRz

The Wandering Armadillo

Kim Wilbanks

Image Earth Travel

Strengthened By Grace

One More Day

The Fashioned Woman

eidswick, Past the Isle of Dogs

 

My Questions?

l. Museum or Movie?

2. Favorite Author and why?

3. Favorite Music Group?

4. Favorite Book?

5. Do you write because you want to or because you have to?

6. Why did you start blogging?

7. If you could live at any other time in history, when would it be and why?

8. What is your favorite place to visit?

9. Favorite Quote?

10. Library or Sports Arena?

11. What famous person do you admire most and why?

Again, thanks to the two bloggers who nominated me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost

Several years ago, my husband wanted to go out in the woods and use his compass to find a lake. We didn’t take a lot of provisions with us or a flashlight because we were just going to hike in and out during the daytime. We also did not tell anyone where we were going. So off we went. Instead of taking the road to the lake, we parked the car a few miles from the lake and my husband looked on his map and took a compass heading. We followed that heading through the woods until we reached the lake. It took a few hours to get in but all in all, it was a successful venture. 

We decided to follow the road back to the car and began to walk. What we didn’t know was that the road forked a little bit north of us, and that the road we were on was not the one we thought it was. After a while, we realized that the road was not taking us back to the car. We talked about what we should do since it was going to be dark in about an hour. We decided to backtrack to the place we left from at the lake. We would then follow the compass heading through the woods back to the car.

person holding compass

Photo by Valentin Antonucci on Pexels.com

By the time we got to the lake, it was getting dark. Remember, my husband did not have a flashlight with him. In order to get out, he had me walk fifteen or twenty feet ahead of him, he would take a compass heading and have me move until I was in line with it. He would then come and stand where I was and then I would walk another fifteen or twenty feet. We did that for the next few hours. I would walk ahead, he would take the heading. I would move until I was on that heading, he would walk up to where I was standing and we would do it all over again. Over and over we did those same repetitious steps. 

The moon rose higher and illuminated the woods. I felt better about it, but knew we were “lost” and so I kept repeating Bible verses to myself, holding onto whatever I could until we got out of the woods. My husband wasn’t worried at all because he trusted the compass and knew that if we followed it, eventually we would come out of the woods by the car.

Finally, the woods cleared and we saw the road. We came out of the woods within about fifteen yards of the car. To say I was greatly relieved is an understatement. But I did learn something that day; I can trust the compass, and even if I don’t know where I am. The compass will always point me in the right direction. 

That experience was a great life lesson for me, both practically and spiritually. We, as finite humans, will sometimes find ourselves in situations where we feel we are lost in the woods. We cannot see our way out of it and it feels dark. We need to remember that our sense of direction will lie to us, our emotions will lie to us, but our compass will never lie to us. If we will keep our eyes on the Lord (the compass) and check with the map (the Word) we will be able to walk in the right direction and eventually we will get out of the situation we are in. We must learn not to rely on what we think is happening around us and try to find our own way out of whatever situation we are in. The book of Proverbs has a few great verses that explains this principle:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3: 5-6.

For me…lesson learned…trust the Compass!

 

Penelope

A few months ago, Ann, one of my good friends passed away. I had known her for decades and she had been very close to me and my family. She lived in another state and I had called her a few months before and was made aware that her health was failing. When she passed, I was sad but accepted it and was not very emotional about it. My son and another friend called to ask me how I was doing with the news. I said, “I think I’m fine.”

low angle photo of linear leaf plant
Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

 

In the meantime, my husband and I bought a Ravenna Palm and placed it in a beautiful pot. We put it in the corner of the living room and it looked perfect there. I love my plants and I named the plant Penelope. A few days later, I was having trouble with my allergies. I looked up palm plants and it stated that most palms are female but the male palms give off allergens. It also said that most people who sell plants are not aware of this when ordering palms so you can get either one in a shop.

I called the place we bought the plant and they told me we could bring it back. We returned it and I asked the man if they were going to return it to the shelf. He said, “No, we will have to put it into the dumpster. We cannot restock it because it does not have the restocking sticker on it.” I looked at my husband and tears came to my eyes. I walked out to the car quickly and started sobbing. He looked at me and said, “Valerie, what is going on?” I replied that I didn’t want them to kill Palmy, my new generic name for the male palm.  I told him we could keep it on the back patio and in the garage in the winter. He agreed and like the dutiful husband he is, marched back into the store, repurchased the palm and brought it back to the car.

He then looked at me and said, “Valerie, what is really going on?” By that time I had calmed down and said, “I think I’m sad about Ann’s death.” He said, “Well I hope so, that is a pretty strong reaction for a plant we’ve only had for four days!” It was at that point that I realized that I was experiencing grief from my friend’s death, but I was not aware of it and had been unable to process it.

I was brought up in a home where we did not show a lot of emotion. Logic and reason ruled the day and little if any weight was given to an argument filled with emotion. From the time I was small, I learned to stuff my emotions and deal with whatever situation I encountered. When I did feel grief or some other sad emotion, it was hard for me to cry. As an adult, I have had difficulty crying, even when I have lost someone very dear to me. If I needed to cry, I would watch  a movie with a sad ending. It would enable me to cry a bit and release some of my pent up emotions.

After the incident with Penelope, I began to think about the ability to process emotions in a healthy way, especially grief. Depending on the culture and the home we are brought up in, we are either allowed or discouraged from showing our emotions. Whether we show them or not, they are still there inside of us. I believe it is much healthier to be able to express our emotions appropriately, rather than stuffing them and putting up a brave front. 

Since then, I have been trying to allow myself to express grief when I am alone. I have had a few breakthroughs and hope that in the future I will be able to be in touch with my emotions in a more positive way. After all, a person should not have to put on a sad movie in order to express the emotions that are pent up inside of them, should they?

 

What Are They Going To Do With The Body?

Have you ever been so sick that you wondered, “What they were going to do with the body?”

chest-67592_1280image by Wikilmages Courtesy of Pixabay

When I was attending the university, I stopped into a small deli and bought a custard. It was in a display case that was not refrigerated. I didn’t know much about food and so I bought it and ate it. That evening I became sick, very, very sick. For a few days, I wondered, “What are they going to do with the body?” Would my dad want it shipped to the States and bury it in the family plot or would I be buried in Milan close to other family members? Eventually, I got better and it was a moot point.

People for millennia have thought about that same question. The very rich and powerful have had their bodies interred with great magnificence. The pharaohs built pyramids for their final resting place, while leaders of other cultures have had great sepulchers made. The wealthy have spent a fortune in order to rest in beautiful coffins like the Byzantine one above. On the other end of the socio-economic spectrum, the average person has had to content himself with a simple burial. If fortunate, they would buried in a plain wooden coffin. Many people were just wrapped in cloth and placed into a grave. Still others were burned on a funeral pyre. Either way, someone had to answer the question, “What are they going to do with the body?”

It’s something to think about, but an even more important question is; “What is going to happen to my soul when I die?” Many of us have thought about it and sought out truth to help us deal with that question.

I know atheists and agnostics who do not believe that we have a soul. Or if they do, they believe that it goes into the grave with the body. They don’t believe in an afterlife and live their lives entirely within the four-dimensional framework that they find themselves in. They do not worry about the question of the soul because they don’t believe they will have to give an account to God for the way they lived.

But what if they are wrong? What if there is a great God in the universe and they will have to answer one day for the life they led and the beliefs they cherished? What then? Well, then it will be too late to make another decision and backtrack and recheck their logic.

For me, I have already made that decision. I studied many religions and I chose to believe in the teachings of the One Person who actually went into the grave and came back three days later. I believe He knows the questions we need to ask and He has the answers for them. He is not afraid of any questions we might ask Him while we are looking and seeking to find the Truth.

So if you don’t know the answer to the most important question, i.e. “What is going to happen to my soul when I die?” I would encourage you to make a real attempt to get that question answered. It could be the most important question you will ever ask and the answer could have real eternal consequences.

* In physics, the fourth dimension is time.