Hope…in Motion

I see the outcome of the presidential election as a good thing and this is why:

For a long time, many people…including the ‘silent majority’…have been quietly despairing.  The government was seemingly ignorant of their struggles or unwilling to address their needs, which is what a government is intended to do.  Large chunks of the citizenry were not part of the policy equation.  These people had given up hope of ever mattering again.

Donald Trump’s message of “Make America Great Again” included their struggles and needs.  Rather than ignore the elections, as they often have in the past, they mustered their hope and went to the polls exuberantly.

The hearts and spirits of these people are vulnerable and lie exposed in Donald Trump’s hands.

I believe that whether or not these people’s lives are improved by changes in government or policy lies in who Trump surrounds himself with and listens to…his advisors.  Trump is not known to listen to advisors and Trump is used to people being Trump fodder.

Regardless, these people’s hopes have been enlivened; their heads are raised and they are looking for help.  If it does not come from changes in government or policy, they will look elsewhere.

After Hurricane Hugo, I was pregnant and not able to clear brush and debris so I offered to help address the emotional needs of the children whose lives were devastated.  I consulted a psychologist who specialized in trauma and disaster recovery.  His answer was simple: to the extend that the family ties were healthy and functional, the families will survive.  The families in despair, however, will turn to things that promise some form of control like drugs, witchcraft, guns, hate-based organizations, even evangelistic preachers.

The disheartened people of this country have their hopes up now.  If they are disappointed or mistreated by hurricane Trump, it is likely they will turn elsewhere for a solution.

I am not close-minded and welcome wise action from a new administration.  However, my hope does not lie in the presidency nor in the Congress, Supreme Court, or bureaucracy.   My hope does not even lie in a church.  My hope lies in my own connection with God.

My hope is that if the hopes of these people do not find purchase in the new administration, that they turn their eyes to the only true hope…the only trustworthy source of help and relief.

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What am I missing?

It has been a red letter day. My brother listed me with all the idiots he has to deal with, caught himself in the insult, laughed, but did not apologize nor retract; my sister dismissed the significance of my giving up my life to take care of her saying that it wasn’t much of a life, anyway, from what she could tell.
On the one hand, I am having to endure insults from someone to whom I am deeply indebted; on the other, I am enduring insults from someone who should feel an indebtedness to me.  I feel both blows in the solar plexus.
I recall many, many years ago lamenting how my efforts went unappreciated but instead of apologies, I got declarations that I wasn’t due an apology because I hadn’t been asked to put forth those efforts, in the first place.
I’m 61 years old and I haven’t learned a damn thing.
Time after time I take on a challenge or a need… thinking I am being called by God to do so, but when my efforts are rejected and the need is not addressed, what failed?
Was I wrong in my thinking that I was being called by God; did I just want to believe I was?
Was I called but just went about it the wrong way?  Did I do it wrong?
Am I having to relive this Groundhog Day of putting forth more effort that the person I am trying to help because I am failing to learn some lesson?
I am the common denominator; there is something I am doing wrong.
There is a wonderful scene in the movie “Rudy” in which Father Cavanaugh tells Rudy of the “only 2 irrefutable truths in life: There is a God and I am not He.”
There is a reason why my efforts to help others, fail. The good news is, I may be given time in this life to figure out what that reason is.
The bad news is, I must once again figure out how to peaceably co-exist with the people who throw my efforts back into my face, find a way to forgive them, love them, but be less willing to let them hurt me in the future.  Otherwise, I will bleed to death and be no good to anyone.
(Jesus, take the wheel…please.  Thank You.)

For Tom B – Spring 1993

(This is the last frame of the first roll of 35mm film I ever shot of scenics.)

Tom,

After I showed you this image in 1993, you suggested I take a step back and learn how to capture the best possible image, technically.   Well, I’m just now getting around to doing that.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more

Yes, it has been quite a while…

Today’s teachable moment came when my sister owned up to feeling under spiritual attack.  She was unaware how familiar I am with the subject so when I suggested a counter-attack, she recoiled.

This is the back story:  Shortly after I deleted my other web sites this Summer, my brother and I focused some attention on our sister who has been living in Alaska for over 35 years.  We knew that, whenever we called her, she was alone…and had been for a few days…and was never sure where her husband was nor when he would be home.  My brother took steps to investigate.

In 1979, our sister suffered a stroke that left her partially paralyzed and partially blind.  Her husband moved them to Alaska where he wanted to retire from the Army.  Turns out, my now former brother in law has been living in a different town in Alaska with another woman…for who knows how long.  Shortly after we found out, said brother in law had the marriage ‘dissolved’ and set plans in motion to have my sister relocated here…the town where I live.

My brother and I went house hunting for my sister; the house was paid for by her ex.  I had 10 days to set up housekeeping and prepared to spend a few nights with her.

I had not seen my sister in 20 years when she arrived at the airport last month.  She was not in good health.  In fact, in the last 5-6 weeks, my sister has been to the ER twice and admitted to hospital once … for 4 days.  I have resigned to live with my sister, now, as her full-time care giver.  For now, anyway, I have given up living on my own, in my own home.

Fast forward to this morning… I was met with repeated hostility from my sister.  Upon questioning, she revealed her frustration with her condition and situation…which is not a new frustration.  Because my sister and I have, independently of each other, grown to have strong faiths in God and a reliance on His guidance, we often talk about spiritual matters…and rather candidly.

This morning, however, we discovered our approaches to spiritual warfare are not the same.  The word she uses for her defense is “resistance.”  I, on the other hand, prefer to “counter-attack” but with a twist.

I find that I am most vulnerable to spiritual attack when I am focused on my own agenda.  This morning’s spiritual attacks were concerning my attempts to have a weekend ‘off’ from being my sister’s 24-hour caregiver.  I had arranged for home aide.  I had arranged for my little blue wonder car to be fixed and aligned.  I had pulled out my camera and gear.

It started at 7AM, when the home aide company called with bad news…the aide was in the ER.  Without the aide’s assistance, I would not be able to make the appointment to get the car aligned.  No alignment, no road trip.  No road trip, no photography.  Furthermore, the camera batteries were dead.  etc. etc.

Hence, the discussion on spiritual warfare.

But I am not about to just “resist” any efforts of darkness to foul my life.  I am going to turn these frustrations into Grace, and here is how and why:

1) I first look at what is being threatened…in this case, my ‘vacation.’

2) I then accept the strong possibility that plans are to change.

3) Next, I look for a way to change my focus from a ‘my’ thing to a ‘God’ thing.

4)  I advertise it; some people call it ‘witnessing…’

…which is where you come in.

My life has not been what I had intended, hoped, or thought it would be.  In fact, I keep being asked by ‘life’ to give up my life as I have known it.  The result, each time, has been an increasingly clearer connection to God…the best agenda anyone could hope for.

Thanks be to God and to God be the Glory.

People Don’t Listen…

…but that is okay because that is just how people are.  I am determined to no longer get upset when people do what people do…like jump to conclusions, make gross generalizations (that are usually wrong.), hate without cause or reason, make bad choices.  I choose to do differently but if I get upset when others do dumb stuff, then I am only making myself unhappy.  People are not going to change just because I think they would be better off if they did.

I have probably not heard much of what has been said to me about my own stupidity…but I can not be totally sure of this because I wasn’t listening at the time.

Addendum:

I think I’ll add a little recently gained wisdom to these sentiments, namely:

People Aren’t Perfect…including myself.

I do my best thinking face down in the gravel.  (I stole that quote years ago and I can’t remember from whom.)  When dusting the grit off of my cheeks last week, a loyal friend pointed out two truths to me:  1) I expect too much from people and 2) I give more than I have.

I thought I had learned point #1 a while back but I guess not, as demonstrated by the piece “What Am I Missing” and my current situation.  Point #2 has eluded me as well.  All of my life I have given to others, especially my children, more than I could afford to give…not just financially, but emotionally and physically.

These two statements are now my new mantra.  If I forget them, please remind me.