Tag Archives: tragedy

Shout Out

More than anything else I want to live so that people see God’s hand all over my life, not just that I’ve survived this long.

So when somebody recently said to me (again), “You wouldn’t know anything about suffering (hardship, pain, fill-in-the-blank…),” I simply replied, “Maybe not. You tell me about it.”

The fact is my history includes so many tragic situations and hardships some might doubt my story’s validity. So much happening to one person in one lifetime… I needn’t exaggerate for dramatic affect. Neither do my siblings. Bottom line, we actually do know about suffering.

And we know about overcoming.

More important, we not only survived, but God worked it all for good. My life doesn’t compare to Paul’s. But I learned early on in my Christian walk, by studying the apostle, to cry out with prayer and praise during the worst situations.

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.”*

Somehow my situations always got better too. Sometimes they got worse first, but God always turned it all around for good.

Multiply that times infinite numbers of people crying out every day.

Horrifying events are happening in our nation and in our global community. Still, I thank God for my experience. I learned when things seem to be at their worst, when there’s no way for things to be good, God is a way maker.

“Do not be overcome by evil,

but overcome evil with good.”

Romans 12:21 (NIV)

Image courtesy Pixabay

*For the whole story see BibleGateway Book of Acts 16:16-40

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Gun Control vs. Self Control

Again, IMHBIO Mitch Teemley addresses the matter best:

Mitch Teemley

Las-Vegas-security-issues-after-shooting

Every time there is a mass shooting in the U.S. the gun-control debate is revived. “Guns kill!” one side chants. “Guns don’t kill, people kill!” the others side retorts. And while it’s true that no gun ever killed anyone without a human pulling the trigger, it’s also true that no human ever killed anyone by pointing their finger and shouting, “Bang!”

The truth is: both statements are correct. Guns kill. And so do people. Therefore, any real solution must address both issues.

Guns kill. Modern weapons aimed at large crowds, as demonstrated in Las Vegas, kill and maim with hideous efficiency. Yes, the U. S. Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms. But the Founders clearly did not mean this to go unchecked: from the beginning, convicted criminals forfeited the right; and it’s long been the consensus that violently unstable people forfeit the right, as well. America’s half-baked registration process…

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What Next

Reblogged from my initial launch post (slightly tweaked):

world color pixabay

The world is changing.

Yet despite the many changes, some important things are the same as when I was a child – a very long time ago. I’m talking about what makes the world go ‘round; what makes us happy.

Above all the violence, tragedy and the madness, more than ever before I see people care about people. The technological advances in my lifespan alone, the blogosphere all have presented us with more opportunities, advantages that were unfathomable as I was growing up.

world technology pixabay

We have gone global. Our family, friends, and neighbors – our community have become immense.

Honestly, from my limited perspective life occasionally seems overwhelming; health issues, ecology, economy, strife… We all have dark days when the world feels hopeless. And yet the globe continues to turn, the sun keeps rising on a brand new day.

neighborhood walk pixabay

My dear, sage friend Zoe once said it best: “Every day, you walk out your door, really look around you and actually look at the first person you see. You smile, say good morning, maybe help carry out the trash…

…The possibilities are endless and it all begins with simply getting out of our heads for a moment, pause, ask the simple, forgotten question, ‘Can I lend you a hand?’ You continue on your way, but you did something.”

world hands heart pixabay

Even when it feels like we’re at the end of our ropes, we can get radical and possibly change the course of a day, a life – the world. We start by simply responding to the question, What Next? What can I do to make things better, right where I am right now? I suggest we do the simplest next right thing and go from there.

 

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Jesus, The Bible (NLT), John 16:33

 

Images courtesy Pixabay

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Alley

To clear my head from the hard weekend, I shifted gears and started my work day at the WordPress Reader. Checking in on the blogosphere community lifted my spirits, as usual. My prayer time enhanced, perspective improved, I noticed the common thread – we are shaken.

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Later, during my first hourly circle around my block, a figure stole my attention – of someone sitting on the ground a few feet into the paved alleyway, head bowed, quietly weeping. The person looked like any of the numerous street people who frequent the avenue north of the street on which I live. Ordinarily I would have passed on by, but something about her stirred something in me.

Following my gut I stepped closer, asking if she needed help. With a sweep of her arm she waved me away, but I clumsily persisted. Reluctantly, she said she had just heard about the tragedy in Orlando.

Again, I recalled the scenes from Monday’s newscasts and held back my own tears. Awkwardly I blurted out, “I know how you feel.” To that she turned her head toward me. From the long, tousled hair covering her face I heard, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Impulsively I sat down on the pavement next to her. In due course I said, “Maybe you’re right, but I’m horrified just the same.” Surging with energy I felt uncomfortably feeble, not knowing if the stranger understood I referred to Orlando, and not my sitting by her. My mind became a blank slate. She didn’t respond. I simply sat there.

I silently asked God for direction, but heard nothing. And yet, I began to feel conspicuously at ease. We sat together in silence. Well after my tail end went numb, she wordlessly got to her feet, her head still low, and she walked away.

Fumbling to my feet I watched and noticed she didn’t look back. After the dozen-plus steps she turned the corner toward the busy street, out of view. Scant moments later I resumed walking the same direction. When I rounded the corner she was nowhere in sight.

I can’t tell you what the time meant to her. I continue to pray she’s not alone – not in her feelings or in the world. Hours later, I now wonder if angels also weep.

 

“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” Hebrews 13:2 (NLT)

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Now

bathroomWhile the sickness healed in my throat… What? Okay, now that the pressure’s mostly in my inner ears, I’ve had more time to reflect on life.

I recently recalled the time a beautiful, water resistant shower curtain and rugs display grabbed my attention and held it, I liked them so much. They were pricey for my budget. Still, they inspired a need for change in my house. Usually a spend-thrift, knock offs would not do that time. I cut corners and saved for months until I had enough to buy them.

Lending the illusion of a life I once dreamed of, the bath/spa room is important to me. Having purchased my curtain and rugs I could hardly wait to get home to stage the new look I’d imagined for months. While saving I’d run through every detail in my head and my vision was clear.

old bottlesWhile buying my treasures I remembered I was nearly out of supplies. I have always been careful about cleaning products, but without a spare dollar for the rest of the month, I took a bottom-shelf product and hurried home.

My usual routine was to start with a clean slate, but I’d scoured the entire house the day before. I pressed and then hung the curtain. Taking in the finished scene, I noticed a fresh smear on the wall next to the new curtain. Glad I got the spray cleaner, I pulled the curtain back just a bit, aimed, sprayed and then wiped away the offending smudge. I was delighted with my new decor and how well it blended with my towels and wall color the way I’d imagined. I took a photo to send to friends and flex my bragging rights.

After pasting the photo into the email I couldn’t believe my eyes. There on my new curtain was unmistakable bleaching in the beautiful color! I dashed to the bathroom hoping my eyes deceived me. But no… My wailing brought neighbors running.

In my hurry to make my vision reality and then get back to work, I’d inadvertently grabbed a bottle containing mostly bleach that had been misplaced in the non-bleach section. I’d been so preoccupied with my happy thoughts I didn’t notice the caustic smell. Arrrrgh!cleaner

I wasn’t quick enough to arrest the damage. After sulking a while and, of course bemoaning the unfairness of it all, I began brainstorming ideas to recover some of the original beauty of the curtain. Eventually my imagination kicked in.

What my situation meant for defeat, God used for good. I creatively sprayed more of the the cleaner all over the curtain and then some Ritz dye remnants consistent with my color palette. Eventually I created a poor-man’s Monet, very slightly reminiscent of his Rose Walk.

Even after several washings, the curtain performed it’s primary purpose very well. With every wash the pattern took on new characteristics. Now it’s more like a Wildflower Walk. Yeah, Ritz still bleeds and fades.

I do not recommend intentionally ruining a lovely curtain or settling for less than what we can achieve either. But I can share the worthwhile lesson from that whole process:

Life takes us through lots of twists and turns and we adjust our original plans. In high school I imagined my life in showcase homes. Over the years, with each relocation I told myself, “this will do for now.” I usually settled on the best location, the nicest home with the most space I could afford. While I’m thankful for a great imagination, I graduated magna cum laude from the school of hard knocks, but I’m not the most creative person around. Fortunately, home and garden magazines are always freely available and I regularly thank God for HGTV and DIY network. With that I got by – for now.

Now that I’m used to a healthy over-all lifestyle on a tight budget, it’s all I can do to stay focused on my set priorities. I’ve minimized dramatically while still hoping to become a piano virtuoso. Hey, I can play either one or the other part of Heart and Soul. While I admire friends’ beautiful homes and still aspire to own something similar someday, for now I’m content with a roof that doesn’t leak, food, electricity, and especially good company. Is it just me or is that actually funny now?

Compared to my dramatic, dynamic early years I’ve developed a very ordinary life from extreme conditions. While my long Bucket List continually grows, I have what I need and I’m confident I am exactly who and what God created me to be now.

I believe all the tragedies, hardships, the bad times of my life worked together to bring me right where I am now – I’m good. When we question why God allows so much trouble, sadness and evil in the world, we can too easily lose sight of the joy in life.

victorian house

I won’t lose sight of my ideal house, complete with writing room, and neither will Voithos. Today I’m glad for a modest, comfortable home. While modest, it has been my status quo for more years than I want to admit, with a good, old friend it’s quite good enough for me now. While I keep my focus upon God’s will, He always takes care of the details. I have experienced time and again how He guides me through the necessary clutter with more colorful variations I could never have imagined.

Like the rest of my life, that’s my story – and I’m sticking to it.

 

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment…” Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

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