January Wisdom

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“The most valuable thing in life never changes by time or place – it is to be honest and cheerful, to find happiness in what you have and to have courage in hardships.”   – Laura Ingalls Wilder, when she  was solicited for advice to Japanese women.

I think this is good advice, but not necessarily the most valuable thing in life.  I find it easy to be honest, not so easy to always be cheerful. I can’t brag on my honesty, though, as it isn’t perfect.  And cheerfulness? Well, God loves a cheerful giver and I’m making progress in that area. I can find happiness in what I have, but there is a sadness in what is missing. What is missing for me isn’t things, though. I usually have courage in hardships, but not always patience. Whatever honesty, cheerfulness, happiness or courage I do have is because God has granted it to me.

“Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is given to covetousness; And from the prophet even to the priest, Everyone deals falsely. – Jeremiah 6:15

Even better than Wilder’s advice is this:

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Solace

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No Hard Feelings by the Avett Brothers has been my solace for the past year, though at times I’ve had to skip it on my playlist because it almost always makes me cry. I lost my mother-in-law in August 2017, then my Mom in February 2018, and today my dog, Loretta. Yes, I understand there are huge differences in losing a pet vs. a person, but when one comes on the heels of the other it is just nearly too much.

The song begins
“When my body won’t hold me anymore
And it finally lets me free
Will I be ready?”

I wasn’t ready to let any of them go, but in Loretta’s case, I think SHE was ready. She had a good life and enriched ours in so many ways.

Then
“When my feet won’t walk another mile.”
My dog, Loretta, hit this point  so suddenly last night I can’t wrap my head around it. She was fine and peppy one minute, then lethargic and unresponsive the next. She perked up once for a few minutes, a sort of last hurrah I guess, then just could hardly move. My husband carried her to our room where we’d made her a soft blanket “pallet” to lie on. We finally fell asleep, but both awoke at 2AM to sit on the floor beside her as she drew her last breath. I can only guess it was her heart giving out.

Listen to this song – more than once if you can. It is overflowing in meaning and may be a balm for YOUR spirit.

 

From the lost files of Thoughts On the Words of C.S. Lewis #2:

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C.S. Lewis was was a novelist, poet, academic, literary critic, essayist, , and . He is probably best known as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, but he wrote numerous other works, including The Problem of Pain from where the quotes in this series were taken.

“God is both further from us, and nearer to us, than any other being.”

That is a thought that needs to be pondered. In all our human understanding, God is far away, far above us. We know we are not equal to God. Yet, He speaks to us through His Word and is within the hearts of Christians.

What an amazing thought!

Dreams Don’t Always Come True

 

Disney and Nike have propagated such a lie to this generation. I’m all for encouraging kids, even adults, to pursue their dreams. I pursued mine and got my degree at 39. But, I hate the way kids are pumped up and I wonder what happens when they are let down? How do they deal with the broken promises?

 

Whosoever

 

They were told all their lives

If you dream it you can do it

Just do it

Now walk past the guy with his plastic bag

filled with all his worldly belongings

Tell him

Just do it

 

Every other nine year old boy says

I want to be in the NBA

Or NFL

I got a trophy

I got a shelf of trophies

I wonder where that grown boy

Under the overpass

Keeps his trophies

 

She was told

You can be whatever you want to be

Left college to marry her sweetheart

Who didn’t turn out so sweet

Now she lives in the shelter with her three kids

Ask her

Is this what you wanted to be?

Just do it

Rome and the USA

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Caravaggio 1600 “Saint Augustine”

 

I am so ignorant of history, but in reading The City of God by St. Augustine, the comparison of the Untied States to Rome sometimes just jumps out at me. For instance:

“At that time, it was their (Rome) greatest ambition to die bravely or live free; but when liberty was obtained, so great a desire of glory took possession of them, that liberty alone was not enough unless domination also should be sought”

and this:

“I do not think that is was by arms that our ancestors made the republic (Rome) great from being small…But it was other things than those that made them great, and we have none of them: industry at home, just government without, a mind free in deliberation, addicted neither to crime nor lust. Instead of these, we have luxury and avarice, …; we laud riches, we follow laziness; there is no difference made between the good and the bad. And no wonder, when every individual consults only for his own good, when you are the slaves of pleasure at home, and in public affairs, of money and favor, no wonder that an onslaught is made upon the unprotected republic.” Cato, as quoted by St. Augustine

more from Cato:

“… the only time at which there existed a just and modern administration was after the banishment of the kings…afterwards the fathers oppressed the people as slaves, flogged them as the kings had done, drove them from their land…”

Kinda puts a different spin on “Make America Great Again” doesn’t it?

That’s Love

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by clipart-panda

That’s Love

Laughing at her son’s jokes
when they aren’t really funny
and listening to his long, detailed telling
of an episode of Justice League
That’s love

Driving thirty minutes out of his way
to deliver
his wife’s forgotten cell phone
so she wouldn’t worry
That’s love

Running to the kitchen for ice
when your big brother gets hit by a ball
even though he just pinched you
an hour ago
That’s love

Buying a portable wheelchair for his wife
as a surprise
so they could visit the zoo and stroll the mall
even though he’s not a mall person
That’s love

4-25-17

You can read a companion poem, What Is Love? HERE.

Life and Death

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“We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as  microscopic swarm, the lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us.”  -from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

 

I love this description of the beginning of life. Job knew all about life and death. Oh to be like Job; to learn how to accept when the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Here’s what he had to say: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” – Job 1:21

I realize that I sometimes take the easy way out by quoting others, but sometimes someone else’s words are just a perfect fit for my needs.  Even when it’s a fictional character speaking, it was written by a person who more than likely had a similar experience.

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“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like “if.”

But we are always optimists when it comes to time: we think there will be time to do things with other people. And time to say things to them.

We fear it (death), yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.” – from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

 
For the past few years I watched as my Mom lost several lifelong friends, which is bound to happen when you hit 80. But, it still doesn’t make it easier. In fact, it probably makes you think about death a little too much. Even though I saw this happening, I didn’t see it coming with Mom. And now, like Ove, I thought there would be more time. There were so many stories I didn’t hear, so many questions I didn’t ask, so much I didn’t say.