Monthly Archives: September 2020

Banish the Dark

I’ve always said our life is built in the moments. We are to live in those moments. We need to avoid dwelling on or live in the past, because it can’t be changed. Nor should we worry about the future, because we can’t control or predict it.

We should also avoid getting so caught up in the moment we’re not doing what we need to do to make that moment better.

For instance, it’s easy to wake up to a dark and cloudy morning and not look for or see the sun peek through a break in those clouds.

I took the above picture this morning as I walked into a coffee shop. If not for the bright orange ball reflected off the store window, I would have missed it by the time I bought my coffee and headed back to my car.

One of the first lessons I learned on my faith journey is that darkness can never banish the light.

I too often wallow in my daily frustrations—this morning being no exception. Yet watching that beautiful sun inevitably rise reminded me that it still rises to banish the dark—in spite of the clouds—-and God is still sovereign.

Put Up or Shut Up

I often like to write (usually on social media) that if we’re unhappy about something, it’s our duty to do what we can to change it. Sitting behind a computer complaining on social media accomplishes next to nothing. After all, how often have we changed someone’s mind from a Facebook or Twitter rant?

Everyone has a hill they’re willing to die on. Sometimes we don’t know what that hill is until we’re standing on it. That happened to me, and I was honestly surprised that ended up being my hill. What is that hill you wonder? Mask mandates. Yep, that’s my hill.

Before I continue, I want to assure you this isn’t a post about the efficacy (or lack thereof) of wearing masks. I’m sure you’ve heard it all anyway and have already made up your mind.

With more cities and counties now considering mandating masks within their city/county limits for all businesses and in public settings, I was faced with a choice. Do I continue to sit behind my computer, send out emails to all city/county commissioners and leave it at that, or do I show myself and everyone else that I am indeed willing to die on this hill by showing up at public meetings whenever and wherever possible?

First I did a little research, sent off my emails, and spent the next three days writing and polishing a speech should the county commission open up the meeting for public comments. And praying. Lots and lots of praying.

I could barely sleep, because the idea of speaking in front of people stresses me out. The first speech I ever gave was a speech class in ninth grade. I was picked first and was so nervous, I got a muscle spasm in my top lip. I looked like I was mimicking Billy Idol’s snarl as I talked about the solar system (or whatever my speech was about). Thankfully that only happened once. Still, I can’t help but think, “What sort of spasm or tick will my body do this time?”

We arrived at the courthouse (my hubby willingly and lovingly gave up the last day of trap shooting for the season to join me for moral support. Because he’s awesome like that). We had to walk through a metal detector and have our temperature taken. I held out my wrist and she took my temperature. Or tried to. It kept saying “Lo.” She tried it on herself and it worked, so she tried again on me. It still wouldn’t read so she placed her wrist on mine. “Wow, you are cold,” she said. She then set the gun down and said, “You obviously don’t have a fever.”

I was only slightly surprised the gauge wouldn’t read, because my hands get frigid when I’m nervous. I didn’t realize that it affected my arms as well.

So we sat through the normal agenda and listened to the health department give their presentation and officially ask the commission to pass a county-wide mask mandate. Although a bit out of the norm (because the agenda didn’t call for a public hearing, something that needs to be announced thirty days prior to the meeting), since so many showed up, the commission did open the floor for public comment.

I looked around the room to see if someone wanted to speak first. After the third, no one stood. I took my speech from my notebook which for some reason decided to fly out of my hand and drop to the floor–rather loudly. All eyes turned toward me, so I stood and said, “Well, I guess that means it’s my turn.”

Because previous speakers had already mentioned some of the points I wanted to make, I used only the last few paragraphs. No spasms or twitches, no Billy Idol snarls, and I even looked up at the commissioners once in a while instead of burying my nose in my paper. I stuttered and stumbled a few times, but I also wasn’t alone in that as most everyone else who spoke did the same.

Once done, I sat and thought, “Finally. I stood up for something I believe strongly in. I didn’t die on this hill (figuratively or literally), but I at least showed (myself if no one else) this time that I’m not all words and no action with regard to my willingness to do so.”

And not to be too braggadocios, a reporter for a local newspaper thought some of my words were good enough to mention in an article about the meeting.

Labor Day 2020

I wrote this on Labor Day back in 2014:

From the US Department of Labor website:

“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr also said of labor:

“We must set out to do a good job, irrespective of race, and do it so well that nobody could do it better.

“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. Even if it does not fall in the category of one of the so-called big professions, do it well. As one college president said, “A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of Heaven and earth will have to pause and say, “Here lived a great street sweeper, who swept his job well.”

Today is the day we celebrate a job well done. It’s important to not only take pride in how well we do our job, but resolve to do it better; to become indispensable. Even if (or especially if) that job is considered “below” other jobs.

Because if we were all doctors and lawyers, who would pick up the trash, or clean our sewers?

Even better, perhaps we should use this day to thank others for doing those so-called thankless jobs.

I, for one, thank you.

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I would like to add a few other observations:

This year has been difficult (to put it mildly) to endure with regard to labor. Many have been told their jobs are “inessential,” to the point they’ve permanently lost them. Some have been working under extreme conditions to the point they’ve been yelled at, attacked, even killed. Just because they were doing their jobs.

Slight aside: Because I can’t wear a mask, shopping even in places where masks are not required, I feel uncomfortable. I often get glares from those wearing masks. I still try to put on a smile for them, mostly to disarm and let them know, “I understand you, so please understand me.” I smile more broadly for others who don’t to encourage. To let them know they’re not alone.

The employees I am even more kind to, because none of them have a choice to wear a mask or not, and must enforce company policy whether they like it or not—if they want to remain employed. They are in an untenable position I do not envy, and nor do I blame them. So I hope, regardless of your position on masks (or any other company policy you disagree with), we treat every employee with kindness and gratitude, and above all, as though they are essential. Because they are.

A Spiritual Competition

In reading Leviticus, I’ve discovered some of it is about what’s not said. For example, see previous entry about sacrifice. Since then, I’ve been noticing other things that are never said, or in this case, what God will never say.

I’m reading a bible study on the book of Romans, and one chapter talks about comparing ourselves to others, whether it’s in our professional, personal and/or professional lives. It’s understandable, since so much of what we do and and are is based on competition: competition for food, land, and other resources. It’s how we survive and thrive as a species.

One way to win any competition is to study our competitors and see if we are better or worse than them. Perhaps plan accordingly so we can win against them. Too often, though, when a competitor (real or imagined) exceeds our abilities, we become disillusioned instead of motivated to improve. Again, understandable, but not wise.

All of that, especially disillusion, should never affect our spiritual life. To God, the grace, mercy, blessings, and yes, even conviction, he extends to us are not dependent on anyone else. That’s the definition of relationship. For instance, I treat my husband different from my son different from my friends. To tell my son he needs to be exactly like my co-worker would be silly and more than a little weird.

Since God seeks to build a relationship with each one of us, he never has and never will say, “you lose, because so-and-so prays, and/or works better than you.” Because God’s resources–gifts if you will–are abundant. They’ll never run out, so we need to quit acting and believing as though they will.