Tag Archives: religion

Thoughtful Thursday: This Far on the Path

Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?
-1 Chronicles 17:16

This is a question I ask myself time and again.  It helps to not only keep my life in perspective when compared to others on this earth, but it also helps keep my vision and praise trained on God.

Who Am I?

Truly, I am a wife and mother of two.  That description alone makes me one of the most blessed people on earth.  That my husband is The BHE and my children are healthy and bright just sweetens the deal.

I am a home-owner, gainfully employed, intelligent and educated, and driven to excel.  What gifts those are!

My friends are many and easily contacted.  My family is spread wide with experiences to share.  My neighbors aren’t the friendliest but I do live in a relatively peaceful, non-violent town.  Thinking about all the places I could have been born, all the places I could have ended up, and all the scary things in the world my friends and family have seen, I am exceedingly blessed to live where I choose and in an area safe to raise my family.

I am organized and thrifty, I am physically and mentally strong and healthy, I am clean and friendly.  Who I am is in itself a phenomenal gift.

O Lord God

It is to Him that I give thanks and praise.  God provided all of this, from my first breath to every one after that, from the roof over my head to the thoughts in it, from the food in my belly and the clothes on my back.  This is God’s work.  How truly AWE-some is that!

The Almighty has created so much that it cannot even be fathomed, and even more unfathomable to me is that He chose to bless me with so much, both here on earth and the gifts He promises in the afterlife.

The Lord is my shepherd and I do not want, and for that I must never forget to thank Him.  Even during the difficult times, I have always had shelter and sustenance, people to rely on, and my own mind to depend on to think my way through.  These are all things which God granted me, without my even asking, without expecting praise in return.

Too often, the simple things in life are taken for granted and that leads to even the more complex things being taken for granted.  How often has it chafed you in your life to be taken for granted by someone?  Now imagine if you were brought out of poverty and destitution, starvation and uncleanliness, from a place of no potable water and surrounded by violence and fear…and you were brought into my life, where my family has more vehicles than drivers, more houses than we know what to do with, potable water at the lift of a lever, lights and fans and the Internet at the flip of a switch, constantly accessible food in the refrigerator and pantry.

O Lord God, I should drop to my knees now to thank You profusely.

And What Is My Family

To me, my husband and children are very special people, my everything.  We love one another and care for each other.  But what is my family to our town, our society, the world?  And what are we to God the Almighty?

My family is my everything.  Even broadening the description to cover all relatives, in-laws, friends, and co-workers, my connections to those around me mean more to me than any possession.  If my house were to burn down tonight, I would wake the BHE to help grab our children and cat plus the photos of me with my grandparents and him with his dad before running out the door.  If I managed to have my phone on me, I would call my dad, our friends, someone we know to come help us and provide shelter for the night.  I know how blessed I am to have such a vast network of people to call my family.

What are we to God, though?  We are all His children, His flock, even those who don’t know or have chosen not to follow the footsteps of His Son.  It is singularly amazing that of all the creatures on the planet, God chose us to be special and rule the beasts and tame the waters and receive more of His blessings each day.

This Far

On this, I go back to the first point of who I am.  I am not just intelligent but have an education and the means to further my knowledge, like access to libraries and the financial steadiness to have regular Internet access in my home.  I am not just healthy but have the opportunities to visit doctors and grocery stores where I can purchase the best foods for my body and mind.  I am not just sheltered in my home but actually have three freaking houses on nice properties that are full of comfortable, clean, and sturdy furnishings and can have the temperatures regulated at the press of a button.

THIS IS HOW FAR I have climbed with my two hands and the grace of God.  THIS IS HOW FAR the Lord has brought me.  THIS IS HOW FAR my family has come from humble beginnings and days of fear and uncertainty.  THIS IS HOW FAR God has brought us with promises of much more to come.

For that, I will give thanks and praise.  For that, I will focus on this verse when I become enmeshed in the anxieties that come with weakness and an unclear view of the future.  For that, I will try to keep in perspective that I am so unbelievably blessed.

A recent gem from my Devotional app.


When I lose sight of the path, I will seek His Word to remind me how far we have come.  Gratitude and perspective, folks.

What helps you see the beauty of how far you’ve come on your path?

Murphy Momentum: Plans and Thoughts

So much change in so little time…

We are still reeling from the changes of the past year.  Our path has been altered so much, yet we are still able to see how we must and can move forward.

After the deaths of three of the most beloved people in our lives, we became inundated with grief…and their stuff.  We accepted furniture and dishes, we inherited a house and property, we have had to reimagine our dreams and redesign our goals, and we now feel confident about this new path we’ve been set upon.

Forward Thinking

All our hopes and dreams seem within grasp now.  It will not be easy.  The steps we see laid out in front of us, the process we’ve created to handle what comes our way, the plans we have developed to see us from this point to the fruition point are all thoughtfully sought and spiritually guided as we rely on our Maker once again.

We have been through hard times, and we have always been surrounded by bountiful blessings.  Now that we recognize them, we see where we have been blessed, we know how to be thankful and less fearful of the future.

Where We are Now

Yesterday morning was greeted with a lot of excitement and a little trepidation as I phoned my new boss to inform her that I would accept her offer of a position.  I will be the Communications Specialist for the local diocesan office.  My “vast skill set” and “impressive education” have landed me my dream job!

We worked hard to get to this point, but this is merely one step.  Much work will still need to be done.

The BHE will be stepping up around the home as he steps out of the traditional role of breadwinner.  Shortly after I got off the phone, he called his boss to deliver his two-weeks’ notice.  The BHE is now a SAHD!

That’s right, folks:  my bearded, hardworking, dedicated, driven, intelligent husband will be caring for our children day in and day out.

But what about the projects?!  We have so many projects between the three properties we now own that, yes, the BHE is going to need some help.

We discussed at length how we must set aside our control-freak natures and accept the assistance of others.  We must tamp down our pride and stubbornness to get ahead by asking our friends, family, and neighbors for help.

Assistance and Accountability

I’ve been working diligently on 1-year, 2-year, and 5-year plans to show us each step of the way to our goals.  I have been plugging projects into a spreadsheet and constantly jotting down ideas that I toss at the BHE and he tosses back at me.  I am researching ballpark figures for what we want to do, where, and when.  We even had a realtor come out to give us some advice.  Yes, folks, we are moving forward like a steam engine, chugging along but aware we need to slow well before the curves.

The first thing I believe we will ask for is help with the children.  When I enter this 8-5 M-F office job, the BHE is going to need someone to rely on a few days a week to care for our babes.  He can’t get work done with two toddlers!  We figured with the Angel starting PreK in the Fall on MWF, it would be best if he was SAHD those days but a friend or neighbor watched the kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Evenings and weekends will see me back in my Mommy role when he can get even more work done.

What is that work, you ask.  Well, that’s where the Accountability comes it.

As much as we would like physical help, like people to paint or build or mow or roof or watch the kids or whatever, we also need to be reminded where we are on our path.  It is all well and good if I print up a pretty checklist or create a spreadsheet that we look at from time-to-time, but we need to be reminded to check things off and follow the steps we have laid out.

When I complete my projects list, when I finish those long-term plan sheets, I will post them here for you to see where we are and where we are going.  I keep thinking something cheesy like Friday Facts to share what we’ve completed and learned then Momentum Monday to explain where we hope to go next.

For instance, this week, I’ve built up our inventory on the eBay site and accepted a new job; next week, I will complete my father-in-law’s taxes so we can be (almost) all caught up on the clean-up of his estate and take a day to myself to prepare my body and wardrobe for the return to the workforce.  This week, the BHE made serious progress on finishing the final bedroom upstairs at the big house and made some dough taking a truckload of cans to the recycling center; next week, he will complete that bedroom and order the replacement windows for the little house.

See?  I’ve told you what we are doing.  Now I feel like I’ll be letting you down if we don’t do it.  That’s how this accountability thing works on my end.  On your end, you get to share in our triumphs and pick us up when we falter.  Thank you, dear reader, for agreeing to be part of our village.

That’s What Friends are For

I look forward to not only getting stuff done but getting connected to my village as we complete projects, move forward, and stay on our thoughtfully sought path towards our dream goals.  In return, I will learn more about you so I can find opportunities to assist you where you need it.  Networking is a powerful tool.  Apply it correctly and we all see our goals come to fruition.

Where are you on your path?  Do you need some help getting up and moving forward?  Do you know how you can help others in your village to do so?

Thoughtful Thursday: Christian Environmentalist

The evidence is irrefutable.

If you are a Christian, you are an environmentalist.  You must be concerned with the state of the earth and our environment.  Scripture states that we are stewards of the planet.

The quotes below from the Bible are ones I return to time and again when so-called good Christians argue with me that Jesus does not want us to worry so much about the earth as we are to care for the people of the earth.  This argument gets under my skin, so I have my selection of God’s words to remind others where we truly stand on the planet.

If you find yourself unconcerned or unwilling to make changes for the betterment of our planet, you are not a thoughtful Christian.  If you think the destruction around you is part of God’s plan and that you need play no part in protecting or bettering the state of the oceans, landfills, ozone layer, etc, you are not paying attention to the Scripture you reference.

Do not say to me my focus shouldn’t be on the condition of the earth while invoking the Lord’s name in your reasoning.  That’s asinine.  We are to care for the earth, for all of its inhabitants, for the Lord’s creation.  I care for the earth as much as for the people upon it, and that’s what makes me a Christian.

“Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
Genesis 1:26

We humans, above all of God’s creations, were chosen to be stewards of the earth and all He put upon it. God wants us to take care of what He created and yet there are people who claim to be followers of the Bible who say we can do as we want because we were given “dominion” over it.  Owning something and caring for it are two different things; we were not given such an honor and a gift to exploit it or destroy it.

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”
Psalms 24:1

If we are harming the earth, then we are saying we are more powerful than God.  If we pollute, overuse, waste, or drive a species to extinction, we are showing we can destroy that which He created, implying we can use this earth for our own ends rather than for His glory.

“Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar and the fullness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth.”
Psalm 96:11-13

And what does He find when He comes to judge?  Not only are we harming God’s creation with pollution, we are harming ourselves.  When He comes to judge the living and the dead, and we have polluted our bodies and wrecked the planet He gifted us, I fear God will not rejoice in what He finds but rather see us in our sinful, destructive pride.

“And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”
Revelation 11:18

Well, if that isn’t pretty cut-and-dry, I don’t know what is.  Seriously, folks, take care of the planet.  All Christians ought to be environmentalists; all of us need to be aware of the daily harm we are doing to the planet.  We were given this great, big, beautiful, bountiful gift, and look at what we collectively have done to it.  Is God really happy with the earth, with how His greatest creation is treating all His other creations?  Or will we eventually, all of us, be cowed in fear as God destroys us for destroying the earth?

“The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth, and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, and broken the everlasting covenant.”
Isaiah 24:4-6

The Bible clearly states that God created and blessed the earth then made a covenant with Man that we would protect and care for it and all the creatures upon it.  Scripture says that if we do not treat the earth right, He can take what He has given.

“And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination.”
Jeremiah 2:7

How dare we?  How can we keep on with denying the changes our consumption and selfishness have wrought?  Why are we not, on a global scale, calling Christians together to make a change to bring the earth back to a healthy, stable position?

“How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? The beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end.”
Jeremiah 12:4

Changes have been occurring for centuries.  The histories tell us how, time and again, climates have shifted or rains have stopped or floods were numerous.  Each of those times is part of God’s plan, just like the issues facing our earth today are part of His plan.

That does not mean we continue blindly on with our destructive behaviors and our habits that clearly show poor stewardship of the earth.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
Psalm 24:1

God is the Great Creator.  We merely inhabit His planet.  Everything under Heaven belongs to God.  It is time all of us started behaving as such.

What changes will you make in your daily routine to lighten your destructive impact on the earth?  Where on your thoughtfully sought path will you make a difference for the planet’s health?

Why I Don’t Talk Politics or Religion

I have an opinion.  I have lots of them.  Just like I have a lot of passions and dislikes and feelings and hairs on my head.  There are certain things I just don’t discuss, though, like politics and religion.

Here’s Why

I am 33 years old.  I not only have a formal education but also knowledge gained through experiences and that which I sought out because of my interests.  I consider myself to be above-average intelligence.  I have a husband, children, parents, family, in-laws, a priest, friends, a routine, books, access to the Internet, and so on and so forth.

What I am saying is I am an individual capable of original thought.  I am smart and have varied interests.

What I have learned in 33 years is that most people can say what I’ve just stated, or some variation of it.  Therefore, we all have our childhoods lived, our opinions formed.  Barring crises of faith, most of us aren’t interested in hearing others’ opinions to HAVE OURS SWAYED.

Think About It

Really, now, when was the last time you engaged in a conversation in order to have someone else TELL YOU HOW TO THINK OR FEEL?

I cannot fathom why another adult would think I need him to tell me what to believe.  If he disagrees with the way I believe tax dollars ought to be spent, I am not really open to him telling me I AM WRONG and that I SHOULD believe otherwise.  If she doesn’t think my religion is THE RIGHT ONE, I do not want her to tell me I AM WRONG and that I SHOULD follow a different religion, or that there even is a “right” one.

Seriously, people:  wars are started over this stuff.

So why on earth would I want to ARGUE WITH FRIENDS about it?

I guess I’d rather have friends.

Difference of Opinion

I believe that having a friend or family member with a different opinion or viewpoint is quite healthy SO LONG AS we continue to BE ADULTS and agree to disagree.

Shouting at me that I need to think differently because the Constitution says thus or snidely remarking under your breath that my faith is misplaced because the news has sensationalized the Catholic priests who have done wrong IS NOT GOING TO CHANGE MY OPINION or my beliefs.

No, really.  Think on it.  A difference of opinion is quite healthy and normal; what is neither healthy or normal is attacking another for it.

I respect that your faith is different than mine.  I respect that you have feelings about how this country should be run.  I respect that you are an adult, that you are capable of independent thought, and that you and I are not exactly alike.  In fact, I prefer that; that’s probably why I am friends with you.  I respect all persons for all their differences, whether it be choices of religion or choices of diet or even things that are not choices, like skin color and the demographic in which you were born.

Please respect me in return.

Love and Friendship

I personally feel that discussions regarding religion and politics ought to be kept as such:  discussions.  I want to talk about my feelings (yes, that’s a biggie in my generation) without being concerned of who will be offended or will try to sway my judgements.

But I can’t.  I cannot talk to certain friends or family members regarding politics because it is never just a discussion, a comparison, an enlightenment.  With certain people, it becomes a battle.  They are so set in their opinion and so passionate about what they know and feel that they can only see the point of the conversation as conversion.

They want to convert me to their way of thinking.

How is that either friendship or based in love?  How is believing my opinions are WRONG any sort of open and honest relationship?  How is thinking I MUST CHANGE for you healthy for either of us?*

Well, Maybe I Would Talk Politics and Religion

If you truly want to know what way I’ll vote in November or why I’ve chosen which church I frequent on Sundays, please ask.  I’d love to discuss my faith and feelings WITH OPEN-MINDED ADULTS.  Maybe you have some input or insight.  Maybe you’re looking for input or insight.  Maybe we will both learn something, like that our differences have common ground.  Or that we don’t see eye-to-eye but can respect that.  Or that we have no differences at all and now have someone to openly talk to.

If you just want to attack me, prove me wrong, change my view, shatter my faith, have an argument, or whatever… if you have an agenda, please don’t ask.  Please don’t start that.  Please don’t pick a fight with me if you truly consider me a friend or loved one.

That is neither nice nor respectful.

And you won’t “win.”

Never in all of my years have I ever thought, “Yes, you’re right.  I’m an ignorant idiot who has been WRONG ALL THIS TIME.  Thank goodness you and your aggressive approach to our differences have CHANGED ME into what you want.  I’m so glad you’ve usurped my autonomy.  Thank God you had an agenda. Gracious, you’re a good friend.”

Nope, never thought that.  And if I said it, you heard my thickest sarcasm.  Good for you!

The Facts

I do not feel threatened by your political viewpoints.  I do not feel threatened by your religion or your faith-based choices.  I do not feel threatened by your gender, your sexuality, or how you’ve chosen to present yourself to the world.  I do not feel it is my place to dictate how you live your life, so long as your choices do not cause harm to those I love or myself.

Now, if we could all agree to that, and we could all have thoughtful discussions about our beliefs, viewpoints, knowledge, and differences, there wouldn’t be so many problems in the world.  But I can’t control the world.  I can merely control what I choose to discuss and with whom I discuss those topics.

If you are out to attack my beliefs or change my opinions, I am not going to talk to you about politics or religion.  If you are curious and want to learn, please know that I am curious and want to learn.  But that I am not interested in a sales pitch. I will not further your agenda.

And I certainly don’t want anyone telling me I’M WRONG.

 

*I apologize for those split infinitives.  If you heard me say these out loud, you would understand by vocal inflection how I’m trying to pose these rhetorical questions.  As it is, you’ll just have to muddle through reading those.  Sorry.

Mama Said There’d Be (Rainy Sun)days Like This

Thoughtfully seeking a smoother path

Funny how staying on the positive path doesn’t mean being on a smooth, paved road through a beautiful field or wood… that some days the path feels like a rocky, uphill climb with only briars to grab for handholds.

Today is a struggle

Maybe it’s the heavily-interrupted less-than-five-hours of sleep.  It could be the drama drummed up by those I won’t bother naming. Maybe it was the running late for church because we just had to have pancakes. It could be the stress of a couple monthly bills going up.  Maybe it’s the screaming toddler because she woke too early and nap-time isn’t for another hour.  It could be me (and, I loathe to say it, my hormones).  Maybe I should stop listing all the possible things that sent me into this tailspin and start listing the reasons I need to straighten and climb.

Cue the religion

(That’s your clue to skip this paragraph if you don’t want a dose of churching.)

During mass today, the priest was discussing what the Holy Trinity is, how the Catholic church chose to define it back in 451. What stuck with me, though, was his closing line. After talking about the Trinity being a good example of selfless love and living in harmony (and being a prime template for all families, particularly husband and wife relationships), he said that if all persons practiced the love exemplified by the Holy Trinity, then we would already be experiencing the joys and peace of the eternal kingdom. We would have Heaven on Earth.

Revising my list

I am thankful for the love of my family and friends, the food in my belly, the clothes on my back, the roof over my head, and the ability to sustain these blessings.

I am grateful for the warm, dry bed I slept in last night and the safe vehicle that we drove to church this morning.

I am not resentful of others’ needs but grateful I can be of assistance to them.

I am not aggravated by the lack of sleep but grateful that the sleep I had was in comfort and safety.

I am not frustrated with Angel Baby’s cries and whining but grateful that she is healthy, dry, and fed… And only acting out to communicate that she is tired.

I am not hateful but grateful.

Now to meditate on this and keep my thoughts in the positive…

What keeps you on the level?