Category Archives: help

It’s that time of year …

not for celebrations and parties.  Not for get-togethers with good friends and people you may know.  Not shopping for bargains and gifts, not meeting up to have a good time and not for having a nice glass of wine with like-minded folks.

Well, actually, it is that time of year, but not for everyone.

For some, this time of year means eating a cold can of beans alone in an empty room without power because the electric bill wasn’t paid.  It wasn’t paid because the baby needed medication and there wasn’t enough money for medication and electricity.

For some, this time of year means standing on the street, in the cold, wearing street clothes and house slippers because there wasn’t enough money for rent and if there wasn’t enough money for rent, there certainly wasn’t enough money for a coat and shoes.

For some, this time of year brings memories that are bitter and hurtful; thoughts of years past that ran, one into the other, with no happiness or joy.

For some, this time of year means nothing.  It is simply the passing of time while watching the world go by, just like the year before and the year before that.

For some, this time of year means family, food, friends and fellowship.  It is these people who embrace the season and enjoy it as they always have, together with the people they love and are comfortable with.

But what about all the others?

Who, when they set down to their family table laden with food, surrounded by family, warm, cozy and perfect, think of those who have nothing, expect nothing and know nothing different from the emptiness they feel every year at this time?

I and many others call ourselves followers of Christ.  We say with our voices  how much we love and want to be like Jesus.

We sing praises, bless our food and continue on in the same traditions we have followed for years.  We praise Jesus and say we want to be like Him but prove time and again that we recite words we believe but don’t, deep down, mean and we fail the very Jesus we say we want to be like.

He wants us to share what we have; not just home, warmth, family, friends and food, but the very word that would bring others to love and honor Him.

Invite a stranger to Thanksgiving dinner.  Invite several strangers.

Let’s bring someone homeless to our home and make them, for one day, family.

Let’s show them that Jesus is real and that they are loved.

This time of year is our time, the Jesus follower’s time.  Our time to put our money where our mouth is.  To be hospitable, to offer shelter and food for those who are hungry and the ones the world calls outcasts.

It is our time to take in everyone, despite everything, and to show them Jesus.

If we, who claim to be the hands and feet of Jesus don’t show love to the oppressed, be certain that the evil one will.

He will entice and enchant them, then make them slaves to his depravity and hatred of all things good.

Don’t give the devil the satisfaction of beating us to the punch.  Let us be the Jesus we claim to want to follow and lead someone to Christ by being the hands and feet of the Savior.

Make no mistake –  Satan is working hard to win the souls of the lost and if we don’t work harder, he will win because he doesn’t give up if he doesn’t get a response on the first pass.

Be Jesus to the world and don’t give up just because you can find an excuse.  Having an excuse doesn’t excuse us, but overcoming excuses and finding a way to be Jesus to the world shows our true alliance.  We are with Jesus or not with Jesus.  It is as simple as that.

Everyone reading this post is welcome to Thanksgiving Dinner at my mom’s house.  You, for one day, will be our family, you will be warm and your bellies will be full.  Must love, or at least tolerate dogs, though, because our place is lousy with them!  🙂

The thing about money …

is that it is only really important when you need it but don’t have it.

Most of us are working class people who know how to make a penny squirm.

I know I do, and yet, there are times when I don’t have a penny to bully.

That’s the way of it.

Of life.

There are times of plenty, on occasion, but for the most part, the times are lean and we find ourselves trying to make a dollar out of thirty seven cents.

It isn’t easy to cough up money we don’t have when it essential that we have it, when it seems impossible and unattainable, but that is the essence of faith.

Of believing and hoping when there isn’t anything else but belief and hope.

That is the epitome of life.

Ups.

Downs.

Blessings.

Joy.

Sorrow.

Triumph.

I live in my own little world most of the time.  I have a job and am happy for such, for but I long for travel and photography and writing.

I don’t want to work for a living, I want to live for a living.

But I digress.

My point, the main point in fact, is that I am not worried about money.

It always seems to be there when I need it.

Jesus promised many times to supply our needs and to  come to our rescue when we were in trouble.

He asks little, really.  Only that we believe in Him and have faith in Him that He will do what He says He will do.

I have what could be construed as an insurmountable thing, but I haven’t given it a second thought.

I gave it to Jesus to let Him sort it out according to His will.

I have faith that He will, as He said He would, take care of me.

It is difficult, I know, for some to live simply by the faith that someone will actually do what they say the will, but I live by it.

I depend on it.

I rely on it.

The promise from Jesus, that is.

I take His word for what He says He will do and leave it at that.

Do I have the money I need?

No.

Will I have it?

Most definitely.

I have no doubt that what I have need of will be provided to me.

It is really no different than the trail shoots that I go on with nothing but my strength, stamina, camera and tripod.

I could see the same things that everyone else who walks the path sees, but instead of looking through my own eyes, I rely on the eyes of Jesus to guide me and the results are beyond anything I could have imagined.

The same goes in my day to day.

Is it always pleasant?  No

Is it always what I hoped for?  No.

Do I find blessings in the unexpected?  Yes, more often than not.

I won’t say that every experience is a good one because that would be a lie, but for the most part, when I give myself over to Jesus and let Him lead, I learn something about myself, humanity, love, grace, or some other wonderful thing that reminds me that I am a child of God.

A blessing to Him.

A flower in His crown.

As hard as it is to believe sometimes that I could be an asset to anyone, I am, according to Him, His glory.

How magnificent is that?  To be glorious to someone?  To be important enough that someone would willingly die on my behalf?

I am breathless at the the mere thought of it.

But breathless or not, it is true.  He did.

Without reservation.

And therein lies trust and belief because I was important enough to die for.

We all were.

Some of the lessons are hard and leave me shattered and nearly broken.

The keyword here is “nearly”.

I have what I need when I need it.

That, in itself, is a beautiful thing.

I don’t have to worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself.

I don’t worry about today because I have given it to Jesus.

My past is just that, a past that I, if I choose to, can regret, or if I use it wisely can learn from the successes and failures.

I am only concerned about now, this moment, this particular space in time.

The rest, well, it is out of my hands.

As it clearly points out in Hebrews 11:1 ~ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

It pretty much says it all.

Faith.  Hope.  Evidence.

Right now is my priority, tomorrow is uncertain, yesterday is beyond me.

Now is what I have to work with.

Period.

I choose to have faith, believe, hope and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He meant what He said.

There is my comfort, my strength, my joy, my thanksgiving and my life.

Life is, whether in the valley or on the mountain or soaring above the mountains and valleys, good.

And I am blessed.

Amen.

Hope makes us more than we really are.

Hope makes us more than we really are.

In order to gain my support from “Big Business” for worthy causes …

I have to sacrifice my own personal social media information and that of those that I choose interact with?

What kind of racket is this?

Businesses pretend to want to help spread news and articles of import; to support schools, sports, academics, Universities and the like, but there is a catch.

A rather large, bloodletting catch.

They want you to support them as they “give back” but before they allow you to give your support or share their stories, they ask for personal information and information on others who may have no desire whatsoever to support their cause.

I find this abysmal.

Oh, I’m sure their “people” could come up with a hundred good reasons why I should give up the information they ask, but if they really and truly wanted to help the entities they say they want to help, to share the stories they find so important, they wouldn’t have to resort to blackmail to do it.

That’s what it is.

In the end, anyway.

Blackmail.

I call a spade a spade.

Their policy is “I will allow you to engage our help in supporting causes important to you, share stories that may benefit your peers and friends and all you have to do is let us have access to your personal information and the personal information of people you know”.

The only thing missing is a baseball bat to the back of my knees.

I won’t do it.

I won’t give in.

I refuse to be coerced to hand over what they ask simply because I want to help.

I can write a check that will do no more than clear the bank and implicate no-one other than myself.

Target and NBC are two of the offenders that I have had personal interactions with.

I was really bummed to have to give up NBC’s news app because it is one of the best I’ve come accross.  As it stands, there are things I see on there I want to share with my peers … understandable, right?  NBC, however,  won’t let me share unless I give them access to my facebook profile and friends list.

And Target, a store I used to respect, won’t support the schools they say they will support unless I “tell all”.

They go on and on about supporting schools, but they require a blood payment.

I think not.

I’m not going to play along.

I’m not going to “give up” my own personal information or that of others in order to support anything through big business when I am perfectly capable of doing my part to support it however I can.

Which I have.

Many times.

I don’t have much money, but what I do have, I am happy to give away to help worthy causes.

I don’t need big  business, conglomerates and super-store powers who are more interested in trying to trick me into giving them what they want than they are in supporting the entities they pretend to be behind.

They call it tit-for-tat … i call it something else entirely.

I refuse to play their game.

Maybe I am cynical in some ways.  I never thought of myself as that way, and now I wonder.

Maybe I am.

Maybe I am the type of person that doesn’t give up everything just because a big name is willing to support the same thing I do.

I have standards and rules that I live by.

They aren’t written in stone, but they are my guidelines.

What these big companies offer is little better than the gang of thugs that offers to “protect” a business and then beats the crap out of the owner if they don’t accept their protection.

I find that reprehensible and if they don’t, they should.

Shame of them.

I won’t be a part of it.

Asking something in payment for giving freely is not, in any shape or form, giving freely.

I hear my drummer calling … I believe I will go march to it.

A kick in the teeth is a kick in the teeth irregardless of the animal.

A kick in the teeth is a kick in the teeth irregardless of the animal.

Seriously?

Seriously?

Coughing, sneezing and I’m going to be sick …

seem to be the catchwords these days.  There are, at any given time, several bugs going around that are contagious, HOWEVER, due to the unusually warm weather this winter season, the bugs (and not just the flu ones) are winning the war.  It’s funny how, when someone is sick, all the lessons they learned as a child (such as covering their mouth when they cough) just fly out the window.  I have been coughed on, spit on, puked on and, as of today, hit on (though that is, unfortunately, not contagious hahaha). 

I never really intended on being a nurse, but for some odd reason, I seem to have a knack for it.  I am not a people person.   Might as well admit it.  Through the harsh experiences in my life that God had decided I needed to face, however, I have been given an arsenal of ways to relate to people facing crisis.

I still wake up every morning wishing I could spend the day looking for photographs to take, but that is not the turn my life took.  I went to school and studied things that grossed me out on many, many levels and, got kicked out of the OR by a very irritated surgeon; at some point, though, was able to actually practice (mostly without gagging) what I had learned.  I hate germs, hair and skin cells.  They make me want to run for cover, so I ask myself over and over why I became a nurse.  The answer is one that doesn’t please me, but the truth is often a bitter pill to swallow; I became a nurse because I didn’t have the nerve or courage to be what, in the depths of my soul, I wanted to be.

Ironically,  there is a survey that everyone in the place I work has to fill out.  Thankfully, we don’t have to put our names on it because one of the questions is “do I get to do what I do best every day”.  The answer is no.  I don’t get to photograph nature and life and I do not, on any level, consider making a note in a patient’s chart using medical jargon and words that I am pleased to not only know the meaning to, but know how to spell (such as costochondritis, hyperemisis and macrocytosis), writing.  But even so, I don’t discount the sheer magnitude of the moment when someone who is in need says to me “you have put my mind at ease” or “I am thankful for you”.  Those times almost (not completely, but almost) make me feel guilty for not wanting to be a nurse for the rest of my life.

I have, more than once, as any of my friends can tell you, been in a position where I needed to have my own mind put at ease.  As recently as the last two days, if I am to be honest.  I find that I treat patients the way I want my parents to be treated and often spend more time than I should trying to fix an unfixable problem.  Doing so is like hitting my head against a wall again and again, but I simply don’t have the mindset to do something halfway.  All or nothing, whether I love it or not, is just the way I roll.  It is a blessing to know that, along the way, I can give back what has  been given to me; that I can relate, even in the really bad stuff, and give someone a bit of peace by letting them know that I understand.  And, too often for my own comfort, I do understand.  It is both a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because I can bring some peace to a single, solitary soul, and a curse because I often wish, without guile, that I were anywhere but where I am at the moment.

Knowing that I am relevant in peoples’ lives  doesn’t cure the wanderlust or the need to write or the need to see or the need to photograph.  Those things make me who I am and whether I am face to face with the flu bug or dodging vomit, or squinting my eyes shut as someone coughs directly in my face, it doesn’t change what I want to be.  Just because I am good at what I do to earn a paycheck doesn’t mean that I want to keep doing it.  I’ve been saying that for over twenty-five years and my reality, though sometimes skewed by moments of insanity, hasn’t changed.  In my heart, I am a photographer and writer and that will not, even if those particular desires are never fulfilled, change.  I still have my trail shoots.  I still have my blog.  I still have my dreams.  I still have my faith.  While I will continue to do what I do as long as I must do it, there is so much more I want to experience.  Being an optimist, I have no doubt that the chance will come.  Being a Sagittarius, I am just stubborn enough to wait for it.  Being a follower of Jesus, I have the faith and patience to wait.  Being a nurse, I at least know that, while I am waiting, I am accomplishing something that matters to someone.

So all of that being said, I remind everyone to wash your hands several times a day, change your clothes the minute you get home and for Heaven’s sake, don’t eat or drink after people;  that is nasty even when you are well, even when it is people you love dearly.  Remember, germs don’t care who you are, they are just glad when you are gullible enough to bring them into yourself, so protect yourself and run when necessary. Be well, be safe and follow your dreams, no matter where they may lead.  I certainly intend to.

flolicking

Hebrews 11:1 ~ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Encouragement …

is the word of the day.  It is no secret to anyone who knows me or anyone who follows my blog that I am a follower of Jesus.  I am thankful beyond words that He saw fit to redeem me, but not everyone I come into contact with on a daily basis can claim the same truth.  That does not make them less worthy of an encouraging word.  Everyone deserves to be encouraged by the people they hold dear and if they have no one who holds them dear, then where can they possibly find the encouragement they need to face another day.  Just because someone does not believe as I do or think as I do or do as I do does not make them any less worthy in the eyes of the Lord.  If I choose, willingly, to withhold my encouragement simply because someone does not follow the path I follow, then I am no better than the worst of humanity.  In fact, because I have been given a heart of encouragement, if I withhold it, I am worse than the worst of humanity.

I have been through some very dark times in my life.  Times when death seemed like the best option for everyone.  I know what it feels like to lie, broken and defeated, at the very bottom of the pool.  If I keep that knowledge to myself, what have I gained but bad memories and haunting imaginings?  It is important to share the things that have hurt me deeply with others who are hurting.  It gives them another rung when they are on the last one on the ladder … another knot at the end of their rope.  To keep that which hurts me inside and not share it with people who are experiencing the same hurts and disappointments that I have faced is selfish and self-serving.  If what I have gone through can help even one person to find their way, then it was worth it.  Maybe, at the time, it didn’t seem like it, but like gold, I have been refined through the trials and fires of my life.  And through the refining, I have gained knowledge and clarity.  If I keep that to myself, then the dark valleys I have passed through will remain only that.  Dark valleys.  But if I share what I have learned, then the darkness I faced becomes a light of hope for someone else who is, even now, in that dark valley.

My cup, even when it seems to be empty, is always half full, and more often than not, overflowing.  I am an optimist.  I always have been.  A dreamer, some would say, who always had my head in the clouds.  I won’t deny that.  I am a dreamer.  I have big dreams, but those dreams have cost me, at times, dearly.  There is nothing wrong with having dreams and hopes, but if those dreams and hopes end within myself, then I have learned  nothing.  I would hate to think that all the tears I have cried and all the prayers I’ve prayed and all the hurt I have harbored have been for nothing.  I have something, as so many others, to offer.  It takes courage to open my heart and hurts to others.  A courage that, at one time in my life, I wasn’t certain I possessed.  But I know it now, just as I know that, as time goes on, there will be more valleys, more fires and more refining.  I’m okay with that, as I know that what I learn, someone else, if I am willing to share it, can find hope in their own darkness by knowing that I have faced that same darkness and came out in the light.  I encourage everyone to encourage someone.  There is  no limit to what we can accomplish if we but offer ourselves as an example to those who are suffering.  I can only hope that I am an encouragement.  If I am not, then I have failed at the most important task I have ever been given.  Encourage one another.  Love another.  Find the good in one another.  Our lives will be richer for it; of that, I am certain.  I know mine is, and for that, I am thankful.

creationkingdom-101

Standing still as shattered pieces fall …

and cut me over and over is something that I know intimately, but I realized today that though I know it, I only know a little piece of it.  I have tried to imagine, even while I know I cannot fathom such an atrocity;  losing a child.  Then to realize that not only have I lost my child, but that nineteen other children were lost at the same time is immeasurable.  I find that each time I think of such a horror, I burst out in tears for those who are facing that situation even now.  Knowing that the world is mourning my loss would be of little or no consolation when faced with an empty bed in an empty room in an empty house in a now empty life.  Knowing that there were nineteen different families who found themselves in the situation I was in would bring no comfort, only more bafflement, anger and grief.  I think I would find it hard not to be bitter even as I was grateful, that there are parents everywhere holding their children safe this night.  There are no words, no gestures, no deeds of goodwill that can even begin to bring comfort after such a senseless and brutal death of a child.  No human words or gestures, anyway.    Losing a child is losing a child, be it from sickness after months of hope and prayers or because that child is taken by the hands of a madman, a stranger, who decided to gun them down in cold blood for sins that the children had not committed. The little children are innocents and because of it, the battle becomes not one against nature or sickness, but of one against evil.  It doesn’t make the loss any less painful, but it does make it different.

I have spent the better part of the evening trying to wrap my mind around what a relatively small, close-knit community must be feeling at this moment.  I have not succeeded.  Each time I picture in my mind’s eye the tiny bodies lying shot to death, I have to remind myself that I live in a country where young children are not gunned down as they attend kindergarten class.  I tell myself that surely, there has been some mistake and that twenty children were not killed for a reason known only to a madman.  I tell myself that it couldn’t possibly happen where I live and then immediately seek out my nieces and hug them so hard that they complain about it.  I find that I cannot let them go.  They squirm and complain, but letting them out my arms before I have breathed in the scent of them, touched their sweet little lips to mine and stroked their downy hair is not an option, not for a while, not until I am convinced that they are real and safe and accounted for.  Something that twenty families in a small town in Connecticut will never have the opportunity to do again.  The sorrow and pain that I feel is no more than a drop of rain in a writhing ocean compared to theirs and that in itself makes me cry even harder.  I want to help.  I want to console.  I want to encourage.  I want to bring comfort.  But it is not in my power.

I cannot comfort them with words or gestures.  Their lives have been irrevocably changed for the worse.  What likely started as a normal day for these families ended in bone-crushing sorrow and depths of despair that cannot be described within the confines of this blog.  The cries and screams of mothers and fathers will echo down every valley and soar above the highest mountains for days and weeks and years to come.  Such sorrow cannot be contained and even though I did not hear them with my ears, my heart breaks at the sound I know is there and I find myself sobbing, yet again, for what cannot be changed.

I will do the only thing I know to do for them and that is to pray for comfort in a time of sorrow so black and so deep, an abyss that seems to have no way out.  Time, it is said, is a great healer, and from personal experience, I know that to be true … but time has never had to heal me from the loss of a child and I find that while I have compassion and a deep, deep sorrow for the loss, I cannot even begin to comprehend it.

Lifting up, in the name of Jesus, those who will be unable to stand for a long time is the only recourse I have.  But stand they will and fight they will and remember they will.  The road will be difficult and strewn with landmines and  obstacles that will take them backwards more than forwards; at least for  a time.  They will never get over it, may not get past it, but hopefully, can one day, come to terms with it enough to get out of bed in the morning.

This night, as the nation and the world mourns the needless loss of little children, may we join together and pray collectively so that a veil of protection can be woven around the grieving families.  Let us tear our clothing and throw ourselves to the ground to wail for that which threatens to suffocate us.  They have suffered enough for a lifetime.  Let us pray that that they can face it tomorrow, and the day after that and the day after that.

The little children are in the hands of God, but the hands of their parents are empty and their hearts are shattered.  Join me as I pray that they will be able to find some measure of comfort in some aspect of this tragedy and that in time, the memories that hurt them so deeply now will somehow bring them the comfort they seek.  I don’t know what else to do.

soaringhawk

Romans 12:21 Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

If you are on welfare …

you are worthless.  Worthless.  How sad is it that, in a country where the poverty level is well above what it should be and people work as hard as they can but can’t feed their family are considered outcasts.  The very lowest of the low, the sewer of humanity.  These kinds of judgements can only come from those who have never found themselves in a place that leaves them with no choice but to depend on someone to help them.  I do not even try to speak for everyone who has found themselves in the welfare system, only myself, and I find it to be very hurtful to know that instead of prayers for improvement, I found only shame and humiliation.  There is nothing worse than being in the grocery line and having to present the cashier with food stamps.  The look is always the same.  A frowning look that says I am mooching off of everyone else who works for a living.  Well, listen up, folks.  I was working for a living, but was somehow unable to provide food for my daughter.  I could have taken up a life of crime or prostitution, but it seemed to be more in line with my beliefs to call on help from others.  I never once presented the food stamps at any store when the cashier didn’t find some reason to make it public that I was a loser, a freeloader and someone to be chastised to need help.

It shouldn’t be shameful to need help and it should not cause humiliation to ask for it.  As with any other system in the world, there will be people who abuse it, but in the grand scheme of things, I like to think that folks are doing the best they can.  Just because you haven’t found yourself out of work, widowed or devastated by an accident or injury does not give you the right to be judge an jury.  Not all things fit into a single, four-sided box.  It is not possible to know what one person experiences unless you take the time to ask, or better yet, walk a ways with them to see what they experience in a single day.

I see people every day who have to decide whether they will buy food or pay for medications that will keep them from dying.  They have to choose whether to pay their electric bill and have heat or buy food for their family.  It makes me angry to think that in a country as rich as the one we live in that here are many who will die themselves because they chose to spend their money on food for their children than to be ostracized for applying for food stamps.  It makes me angry to know that people who call themselves “Christians” turn their back on people in need just because they decide to judge them by their own standards.

When Jesus spent time with the people, he didn’t spend it with the ones who could afford everything they needed.  He spent it with the hurting, the desperate, the poor, the sick and the outcasts.  It pleases me to know, that were I alive in Jesus’ time, He would have spent time with me.

Romans 14:22 ~ Have you faith? have it to yourself before God. Happy is he that condemns not himself in that thing which he allows.