Monday, November 5, 2012

Reflections on the eve of the Election

I've been listening to talk radio today, both Glenn Beck & Rush Limbaugh. The talk, naturally centers around the election, which it should. With a clear conscience I voted for Mitt Romney last week, in spite of my trepidation of his Mormonism. I know that our LORD raises up whom He will as He did with Cyrus of Persia.

I'll say it again, I am a Christian who happens to be an American and not vice versa. There is a difference. I believe that God is sovereign in all things, nothing catches Him by surprise and He factors and works our sins and errors into His purpose and that His will is going to prevail in spite of all of Satan's deceptions and efforts. My prayer for the election is that it is an honest one.

I am surprised that Barak Obama turned out to be a far worse and dangerous president than even I thought he would be in 2008. And I knew then he would be a bad one. I knew that our LORD allowed him to become president as a chastisement for America. God doesn't need America to work out His will and purpose, but we need Him and have turned our back on Him. These past 4 years I have viewed the Obamas as the modern equivalent of Ahab and Jezebel.

If this nation honestly re-elects Obama...then we know what this country has become. A few weeks again our parish priest during the announcements described him as the most pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, anti-family, anti-religious freedom president this country has ever had. Unfortunately the fact that he is the president speaks volumes about what kind of people we have become. ALL of us, particularly Baby Boomers, bear a major mea culpa in both the process and results. What has happened to the Episcopal Church is a telling example of how we have both subverted and been subverted from the clear teaching of God.

I haven't decided in we are in the "End Times", or just at the end of the America that God brought into being for His purposes. A read of history and Holy Scripture provides us the pictures of empires and civilizations that the LORD has allowed to rise up and, to fall. We may very well be the next. Scripture also teaches that God always preserves a remnant of the faithful. The election of Mitt Romney MIGHT mean that God has given us one last reprieve, to truly turn around (repent) and seek His face. Or, it may mean that God is providing His faithful a bit more time to put their affairs in order and get ready for what He will do.

What ever the results tomorrow, it is my intent to be faithful, to stay firm in the faith of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In our personal world, we have going through our own tribulation of the hardship with both being unemployed and a family heartbreak that makes the financial difficulties look like a walk in the park. We are on a path and living a life that was not even remotely on our radar in 2008. There are times that I can't help but wonder what has our LORD been preparing for us to endure?

Friday, July 20, 2012

No easy answers

In the larger world and in my own personal life, I've been feeling for some time things are just not right.  Even on my Facebook status I posted that I was like Worf on Star Trek TNG; that I had somehow slipped into the wrong quantum reality.  So while I may speculate on other quantum realities and even appreciate and on some level understand the underlying physics that makes such speculations possible.....I must return again to that Truth with which continually I struggle.....God is sovereign.

Yes, there could be, there may be other quantum realities, but there are not.  These are realities with a little "r".  There is only one Reality as there is only one Now, one Eternal Now.  God is sovereign.  In "Out of the Silent Planet", C.S. Lewis posited a world in which their Adam and Eve had been obedient. But in our world, they were not and the whole of human history reverberates with the results and consequences of that first: "I'll do it my way, I know what's best for me."

God is not surprised.  The mercy, the love, the justice, the holiness, the very goodness of God are not contradictory to each other, or to His sovereignty, even in light of horrendous events like what happened in Aurora, Colorado.  I know that it is beyond a conundrum to the human mind, it is not fatalism either.  It was not God's will for an insane, evil-driven man to open fire in a movie theatre on strangers, killing many and injuring more.  Even in this, yes, even in this -- God is sovereign -- and His will and purpose are still being worked out.  His redemptive grace is always present and is still active.  God's omniscience does not negate that Heaven grieves with those who lost loved ones at the hand of evil.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Price of Compromise

There is a Russian parable that goes like this…

A hunter raised his rifle and took careful aim at a large bear. The hunter was about to pull the trigger when the bear spoke in a soft, soothing voice, “Isn’t it better to talk than shoot? What do you want? Let us negotiate the matter.”

Lowering his rifle, the hunter replied, “I want a fur coat.” “Good,” said the bear, “that is a negotiable question. I only want a full stomach, so let us negotiate a compromise.”

They sat down to negotiate, and after a time the bear walked away alone. The negotiations had been successful. The bear had a full stomach, and the hunter had his fur coat.

There are times to compromise, and there are other times when compromise will eat you alive.

We are being devoured by this type of compromise in our homes and our families, in our country and our churches. In our churches it takes the following form where inclusion has replaced evangelism, therapeutic self-acceptance has replaced conversion, and political correctness has replaced belief. Ah....political correctness....

Political correctness is the rot, the decay, the deterioration of ourselves, our society, our culture, our country. It is a cancer, both menace and plague. It is the bane that drives people to fire honorable men like Juan Williams for doing the once honorable thing of simply telling the truth. And it always starts the same way....with the bear....
The bear always sounds so reasonable, so fair, so simple, what's unjust about wanting a full tummy? He's the victim and you are the unjust hunter with the rifle, you might want that fur coat, but do you need it? And even if you need it, you have no right to it. And maybe the first negotiations ends with both parties walking away, with you agreeing to give the bear a few scraps from your table. And you make do with keeping warm with the blankets off your bed, hey, it's a compromise.
The problem is that the bear's negotiation strategy is to get you to forget that he's a bear, and he still wants that full tummy....he's not getting it from the scraps off your table. You still have the rifle and he's still a bear. There is only one end game, the compromise will be negotiated to the bear's success...oh, you will have a fur coat of a kind, but the bear will have a full stomach.
Then he will go after your children.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What a friend we have in Jesus...and in the friends He sends us

Below is the note I just sent to my friend Wanda. Everyone should have a friend like Wanda. The term "stalwart" comes to mind which means marked by outstanding strength and vigor of body, mind or spirit. That's Wanda and being my friend often requires being stalwart. She is also an "anam cara" or "soul friend"...I need to write more about that relationship of soul friends. It is amazing the bond that is built and grows between women who pray with each other and for each other. I wonder if it's the same for men.

This past Sunday as I was leaving the parish hall, I came up to Wanda while she was washing up after the ice cream social and lunch and talking to someone (as usual). I interupted (as usual) as I asked her to hold out her hand. I placed in her hand from my mine my invisible faith and told her, "Here is my faith, I am giving it to you for safe-keeping. Please hold it close to you and protect it for me while I cannot. You'll know when you can give it back to me."

I have learned that sometimes our brothers and sisters in Christ, must keep faith for another whose trials and tribulations are so overwhelming they threaten to swamp someone's faith. In better days I have prayed for others going through grief, sorrow and trouble. Now, for several months, for nearly two years, other people have been praying for us. If I judge by my latest circumstances, which is my current state of mind, it would seem that so many prayers for us have gone unanswered, or worse yet, been given an unloving NO. When you are drowning in a sea of bitter tears, it's so easy to let go and no longer believe that there is even Someone to hear all those prayers.

In better days, I would know that those prayers are answered in the person of Wanda, my anam cara, who holds my hand on a Sunday morning while I weep more bitter tears. She listens and lets me say all the horrible, black things about my life and even God, and gives me a hug. She promises not to be like one of Job's friends and try to explain why all of these horrible things have been happening in my life. There is no explanation and she agrees that they are horrible, but the few things that she does say are worth chewing on. One of them is that I am in the crucible, which is a common metaphor for the Christian life. It reminds me of a portion of a favorite hymn.

...the flame shall not harm thee; I only design thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine. The problem is from the gold's point of view, being in the crucible is very painful. There is even a point in time that the gold must feel disintegrated. I am at such a point. Mercifully, my faith is in Wanda's safe keeping.

Here is my note of thank you to her.

Just wanted to drop you a note and say thank you for being my friend and a sister in Christ. I also wanted to share a couple of things with you that I think you might appreciate, which both happen on Sunday after church.

The second one first. Sunday evening I caught a portion of the movie "The Return of the King".
It was leading up to the climax of the saga, the final ascent on Mount Doom. Sam looks at his dear friend Frodo, who is collapsed in a bloody, burdened and wounded heap, after Gollum has attacked him for the next to the last time. Frodo knows what he must do, but his strength and will are spent. Sam tells his friend: "I cannot carry It, but I can carry you." and he grabs Frodo and slings him over his shoulders and the two make that final assent together. At this juncture in time, for me you are Sam to my Frodo. You are carrying me while I must bear this burden and I know that I am safe in entrusting my "faith" to you to hold for me.

The first incident happened on the drive back. I was looking at the clouds and the sky and I felt the Lord speak to me in my spirit. He told me that's it's okay to beat my fists against Him because He's big enough to take it. Then He promised me that He wouldn't let go of me, but hold me all the closer while I was so hurt and angry, yet not too close so that I would be free enough to beat my fists against Him. Now when I start to slip into despair I see myself as a child sitting on Jesus' lap beating my little fists against His big, strong chest. And then, I fall into it and cry, while He puts His arms around me and rocks me tenderly.

May God bless you and keep you, as you have blessed and kept me.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

This blog must change.

I started this blog a year ago and I keep censoring myself....Why? Nobody reads it except a few friends and family and it's not functioning for what I needed it to be. So it's going to be free therapy, an electronic journal for me to vent and rant and......tell the truth.
I'll be 58 on my next birthday and I'm going to give myself an early birthday present by 2 years. I promised myself that when I turned 60 I was no longer going to self-censor. I was going to say whatever I thought and let the chips fall where they may. The most dangerous person is the person who has nothing to lose and I am that person.
If there is anyone out there you have been warned.
If I'm in the middle of a restaurant and your brats are disturbing my dinner, I will tell you that you need to keep your kids quiet. Your kids are offending me, so if I offend you by telling you the truth, deal with it. The truth is they are offending the rest of the diners, but they're so paralyzed with political correctness they suffer in silence.
I have been censoring a family tragedy that has gripped us for nearly two years. Oh, I've hinted at it, alluded to it (i.e. one prodigal), written about it between the lines. It's that story B that makes both of us being (STILL!!!!) unemployed look and feel like a cake walk. Well, no more.
And since no one is reading this, and this blog is my therapy because now we don't have health insurance, I'm not going to give aliases. I'm naming names, at least first names. The innocent need to be praised and the guilty need to be convicted. Besides both libel and slander involve false statements and this blog is all about telling the truth. And that what I'm going to do, to tell the truth, as far as I know it to be. I'm going to call them as I see them, don't like it, then sue me. Good luck with getting a judgement and even if you did...well there's that whole blood out of a turnip thing.
You have been warned, twice now. The most dangerous person is someone who has nothing to lose. Read down on this blog, I live in a 5th wheel and I had to liquidate a retirement account to buy it. There's two of us in 300 square feet and we are both unemployed and have been so for eighteen months and our oldest child has broken our hearts and keeps on doing it. And, my idiotic mother-in-law keeps on believing her lies.
You have been warned, a third and final time. The most dangerous person is someone who has nothing to lose....and who has lived a life that is all about the Truth. Everyone is fair game, from the great to the small. No political correctness, Glenn Beck reminds us that the truth will set us free, but before it does that it will hurt. Even Glenn, as much as I enjoy him, needs to take some of his own medicine.....which is the subject of my next post.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Scolding to the Employed from the long term unemployed, Part I

We go to job club on Wednesdays, which is a networking group. Our facilitator reminds us to the employed the unemployment rate is 0%. I wrote the letter below to a placement consultant in California on July 8th this year. He appeared on that day and complained that he couldn't get anyone to work, that they would rather stay unemployed instead of take perfectly good engineering jobs in the Pacific NW rather than stay home and save daycare money. I was especially frustrated and depressed because I had just been informed that a promising job (after a good interview) had gone to another candidate who was more "on point".

I'll let the rest of the letter speak for itself. Btw, I never got a reply from Mr. Dinse. No followup, not even a request for a resume. So, Mr. Dinse, do you really have all those jobs going unfilled?

Dear Mr. Dinse,

Your comments on Neil Cavuto's show today were irresponsible and continue to foster false notions regarding the unemployed. I was watching FoxNews this afternoon, as I frequently do most afternoons, because I am unemployed. I have been unemployed for over a year and will probably one of those who will lose benefits this week because I have exhausted all of my extensions. Ironically, I support the Republican senators decision not to vote for any further extensions unless they were paid for, it's the refusal of the Democrats to fund the much needed extensions with unspent stimulus funds that angers me most.

I despise being unemployed and it's more than the loss of income, a standard of living and a way of life I have spent the past 20 years pursuing. It's the boredom that so easily drifts into a loss of purpose and, all too often, depression. I don't have any projects around the house to do because my home now is a 300 square foot 5th wheel RV. You see, Mr. Dinse, my husband, has also been unemployed for over a year and last fall we liquidated a small retirement account to buy a 10 year old RV and the truck needed to tow it. Of course we had to take the tax hit, but we had enough money to buy what we needed, hoping that being mobile would open up more job opportunities for us. So far that hasn't been the case.

Nor do we have the young children to spend time with, or be concerned with paying child care expense. We belong to the "Too old to hire, too young to retire" club. We are used goods, and with each month, with each week that passes and we continue jobless, our value declines. Most of the unemployed long for a job and are responsible about trying to find work. In Texas, we have requirements of job searches each week and we are required to keep records of our job searches in the event we are audited. Yes, there are liars and stinkers in every group, but many of us go to job clubs and networking groups where we vent. About once a month, a miracle happens and we get an interview and while we think we did great, somebody else gets chosen for a position we know that we could do very, very well. We can't help but wonder how much younger the lucky candidate is that beat us out. Then, we read articles on various websites reporting that one culling technique used by many HR departments is to just throw out the resumes of anyone who isn't currently unemployed.

What follows is often days of devastation and despair, and for me, more than a few tears, and fear, wondering what is going to happen to us and worried that our kids will feel obligated to take care of us when they need to be building their own lives. In our case, both of us are degreed professionals with proven track records in our professions. Two years ago, we were making around 100K between the two of us and living in a lovely townhouse, putting away money in our 401K's. Now we live in a RV park in a small town in Texas because it's either safer or cheaper than one in a metro area. Last fall, I had to go through all of our possessions and memorabilia and figure out what we could keep in a 10X10 storage unit. The rest we either gave away or threw away, things like kid's report cards and stuffed animals and my jewelry chest that was a Christmas gift from my husband six Christmas's ago. Things like that just don't fit in an RV. I'm thinking I should write a book, calling it "Riches to Rags".

We watch a lot of FoxNews, probably too much, because it just adds to the worry and despair with talks about a double dip recession. Then, there are people like you or some of the other clowns I hear on the financial shows on Saturday morning. They pontificate with smug tones that the unemployed are just on a vacation and to extend their benefits it's just going to encourage them to stay that way. I'm sure there's a few, but most of us live fearful lives of just getting by, still able to refuse proffered charity from our church. Yes, we make more than minimum wage on UI, approximately $400 per week for each of us, before taxes, which is another subject. We are paid that amount based on what we used to make and that is the max that is paid. For over a year, I've been applying for administrative assistants jobs that pay less than half of what I used to make, but I never get a call on those because I'm "over-qualified". We really want to be working.

I have written you this letter because what you said hurts people in a very real way. It perpetuates the myths that lead notions like: The reason that you don't have a job after a year is because you don't want to work. Maybe I don't have a job because of people like you. Your remarks were careless and unthinking, and I suspect that you took an isolated incident or two plus anecdotal gossip and parleyed into an irresponsible generalization.

I hope I have given you something to think about, and that you will think carefully before you speak without knowing about other people's lives. There are 15 million of us out of work and my gut tells me that tonight there are at least 3-5 million faces with tears in their eyes, worried and wondering if they will ever work again.

Very truly,

Friday, January 1, 2010

Settling In-Day 15. Between The Years.

Our Lord and our God. We joy in Thee. Without Thy Help we could not face unafraid the year before us.

This is the prayer for today in God Calling Journal, a new daily devotional journal I started on this January 1, 2010. The move into the 5th wheel is complete, the townhouse cleaned and emptied a few days ago and the keys returned to the property manager. But moving in is not the same as settling in, and that part is still just beginning. We are starting our 3rd week of living in the 5th wheel, which now has a name. It's the Doll House, off-handedly suggested by our daughter's fiance shortly after we moved in.

As he looked around the living area and kitchen, with just a touch of envy in his eyes, he said "This is quite a little dollhouse you have gotten for yourselves, you should be very happy here."
May it be so.

2009--The worst, the hardest, the most trial-filled, or the most sorrowful year of my life, of our life together....take your pick. My fantasy/fantastic Christmas wish didn't happen, but no surprise there, because that is not the way that God's providence and provision works. Just read Job. Nor is there magic fairy dust that happens when the ball drops in Times Square for the troubles and sorrows that began in 2009 are still very much present on this sunny New Year's Day.

And yet..."Remember that you must not see as the world sees. I hold the year in My Hands--in trust for you. But I shall guide you one day at a time. Leave the rest with Me. You must not anticipate the gift by fears or thoughts of the days ahead. And for each day I shall supply the wisdom and the strength."

It is a sunny New Year's Day. There still a chill to the air, but the temperature is starting to moderate into the 50's. (Of course, we live in south central Texas, to someone in Nebraska or Montana it would seem like a heat wave.)

We have settled into the Doll House sufficiently that I have been able to cook. V (our daughter) and I even managed to make fruitcakes and cookies on Christmas Eve Day in my tiny propane oven. I need to make mushroom soup, collard greens and sweet potatoes, and black-eyed peas for a New Year's party that starts later this afternoon. But....there are still the ocassional meltdowns, like trying to find a pair of shoes in our tiny closet before going out to dinner for New Years Eve. Another one day at a time kind of things.

Moving from from a 1400 square foot townhouse to a 300 square foot 5th wheel would be a challenge for most people. Throw in the small fact that we have never been RVers prior to the move and we are now on the ground where angels fear to tread. It is an odd combination of sheer lunacy and adamantine faith...the lunacy we come by natural and this kind of faith only comes from God Himself. In essence my Christmas wish was that all I had to face was making a life here in the 5th wheel and dealing with unemployment, but for His Purposes I am to remain in the more difficult crucible of grief and loss.

And so Lord, I pray: Forgive me when I anticipate the days ahead with fear. Help me to remember what St. Paul told us that Your Grace is sufficient for whatever thorn You choose to have us bear. In Your Mercy, help me to trust that You will supply the wisdom and the strength and guide me day by day. Amen.