The unexpected sparkle from this year’s Halloween. His parents must be so proud!
Every parent wonders what their kids will do when they are not around. They will also ponder on what their children will grow up and be. I did.
I wanted them to grow up – not to be rich and famous (although that’s nice too) – but to just be decent people.
As parents we do the best we can, and pray for guidance. I did. Still do. I suspect my own parents did as well.
I remember, at the age of six, doubling over in laughter, as I ran from my brother Paul. He could never run as fast as I could, which I always found hil-la-rious; after all – he was older. Although the reason he was chasing me was no laughing matter. We had been doing what children of our generation would sometimes do, making mud pies down by the pond when he thought I should take a bite.
I didn’t want to and ran away. Fortunately Granny caught us and put a stop to those shenanigans!
Today, Paul’s health takes him in and out of hospitals and when things look the worst, he is that same generous kid, wanting to give me a bite of the pie that life offers and making me laugh.
My kids are all grown up now and they have become more than I knew to pray for. How did that happen? God’s grace for sure as I look back and remember a few defining moments.
When my son was in second grade, he would come home from school complaining about Mathew, one of the kids in his class. Matthew suffered from ADHD and sometimes would forget to take his medicine. On those days he lost control and my son would come home, upset and confused about Matthew’s behavior. I told my son that sometimes people have problems that we don’t know about and it was best to just be kind.
Several months later we were on a class trip and I was one of the chaperones. I had just gone to work for the Georgia Department of Labor and one of the other mothers asked me if I was the new HR Director there.
The lady introduced herself as an employee there and I assumed that’s why she wanted to meet me. Nope, instead she said, “When all the other kids won’t play with Matthew because he’s having a bad day, your son always does. I just wanted you to know and to say thank you.”
Mother to mother.
Her words were a humbling moment for this mom. After all the complaining that my son did about Matthew, he had indeed been kind to him.
My daughter developed a love for the DCFS foster program. Each Christmas, after my coworkers had selected tags for the foster kids from the giving tree, I would take all of the remaining tags. Then, as was our tradition, she and I would go shopping and she would select the gifts. Her happy smile and twinkling eyes shined with her love for kids that she didn’t even know.
Years later, it was her first Christmas away at college. She called me, weeping, to tell me about a little boy’s tag she had selected from the giving tree in her dorm. “Oh Mom – he wants a ball!”
“What’s wrong with that?” I asked.
“He only asked for a ball!” she said, the emphasis on the word a ball. “Not a football, not a baseball and not a soccer ball – just a ball…” She said, stopping as she gasped for breath.
“Which one did you get him?” I asked, hoping to calm her down.
She blew her nose in that disgusting way that you do after an ugly cry and said, “One of every kind.”
Another humbling moment for this mother.
It is those moments, when you are not looking, when you are not there, when your kids make their own decisions – those are the moments that highlight the people they will become, and proof of the people they already are.
Today, their love continues to be demonstrated when I’m not around, growing stronger in protecting and serving others. Be sure to pay attention.
I would be honored if you would share humbling moments from your childhood or your kid’s childhood. These are the sparkles that give hope to our world.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” –Proverbs 22:6
…can improve everything!
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
— 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
The current phrase of “Let’s Make America Great Again” has taken on a very different definition than what the words actually mean, depending on your viewpoint. Today’s post is NOT a political blog. It is one, I hope, of thoughtful deliberation.
People seem to measure life in a sequence of events: birth, childhood, adulthood, old age and death. It is the connection of life events throughout these stages that define what we actually do to make our family, friends, neighbors, community, city or town, state, country and the world great – by our own individual actions.
An approach might be to view things from your own personal perspective and where you are in life and ask yourself “how can I make life great?” You don’t need the word again – the fact that we breathe in and we breathe out already does that.
My method for myself, as a most flawed individual, is to do more than just breathe. I’m a simple person and approach life with a simple outlook, primarily through these three things.
- Demonstrate my faith. Regardless of your choice of faith, or non-faith, this is not hard to do. Respect. Kindness. It is simply helping others even when you don’t want too or don’t have time. Often this is made difficult because of the voices screaming to follow one path – their path. While that may ultimately be the case, show respect for yourself. Vetting it out will create an inner peace that will shine through your actions and help others return that respect.
- Stop and think. Suspend any bias while you allow your mind to free flow without external noise. What is the root of the issue? Why is it an issue? Look at all sides. Respect your own ability to reason, your own spirit to respect, and your own heart to love. Find a point of collaboration – I promise you, this point exists.
- That old expression, sometimes you have to go slow to go fast, is still true. Rushing to action without going through steps 1 and 2, is fraught with heartache and can be damaging. If I could have a do over for my rushing mistakes, knowing what I know now, peace would be mine. Peace doesn’t only come from regretting mistakes. It comes from forgiveness. When I learned to forgive, whether from someone asking for it or from my letting go of old hurts, I finally understood that I too could be forgiven.
In your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. — 1 Peter 3:15
I can get so mad when people don’t take care of those who can’t take care of themselves (like animals). I don’t like to be mad. It makes me feel bad, therefore, making me madder at what made me mad in the first place!
Recently a woman was standing in a line at the DMV in Missouri and fired her gun into the air because the line was too slow. I don’t know if she calmed down after being thrown to the ground, handcuffed, and taken to jail. My point is that this example, in its most basic form, is radical anger.
When a kernel of radical anger is planted, it grows from what it’s fed. Today, political issues (groan) feeds this type of anger whether from public sources or in hidden back ‘rooms’. Social media and different slants provided by different news agencies are often the triggers.
The good news from this is that our freedom allows us to choose our party of choice: Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent, Green and my favorite, Humane (animal rights). There are more than 100 additional parties to choose from. How good is that?
Sadly, the kernel of radical anger is growing in so many different directions that chaos is feeding radical anger. Humans have lost our ability to be both different and united. When did we stop thinking and deliberating on issues? Recognition of differences, even if it’s not “your thing”, in and of themselves should unite us; sadly, they do not.
So, do we risk an extreme reaction like the woman in the DMV line; or do we can choose a different method?
To find common ground for common causes, while respecting individual rights.
By not feeding our kernel of anger and use:
Truth over Lie.
Kindness over rudeness
Accepting your way is not my way – love diffuses hate.
Evidence of Success?
Feed the kernels of honesty, respect and love as we remember what our country, and many other countries, were founded on, which is (for purposes of today’s blog, my reference to county is America):
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
John Dickinson, Founding Father in his pre-revolutionary song, “The Liberty Song” wrote, “Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.”
We the people created this county. Let’s not demolish it.
America must maintain the identity of what God blessed America with. We welcome all in our big ole’ melting pot, sharing, working, learning, and trusting our personal savior. Every individual brings something to the mix, not to dominate, but by doing the right thing in the right way.
Proverbs 15:18 “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.”
It’s just that simple.
…can grow anywhere at anytime, faster and denser than a patch of kudzu weed. Where does it come from? What nourishes it? How do you recognize it?
This week we celebrate the freedom of the United States of America. How do we guard and protect that freedom from apathy?
Well, can you cite at least one good thing our current president has done for our country? Here’s my example: he brought the remains of U.S. soldiers from the North Korean War home to American soil. My father was a veteran of that war, all defending our freedom. This was something to give thanks for as it brought closure and honor to so many.
Do you know who your state government officials in Washington are?
Do you know who your local government officials are?
Do you know that these officials ran for public office to serve? Therefore, you can and should contact them when you have questions, concerns and suggestions.
If you couldn’t answer even ONE of these questions I ask you to consider this – when did that kernel of apathy get planted in your heart and soul? Has it been there so long you fail to recognize it for what it is?
On this July 4, 2019, let us never forget the powerful words that not only declared America as a free nation, but also what it means to be free:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
——U.S. Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776
God, our Creator, gave us this freedom along with His Holy guidance to secure and honor that freedom. Let us be thankful and never forget that…
God Blessed America.
“And the Lord is the Spirit: and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
2 Cor. 3:17
breadcrumbs of our life.
“Kernels are seeds we plant as we journey through life, from season to season.”
We leave kernels behind like tracks in the sand that show our past seasons; but, like sand near the ocean, the seasons of wind and water erase them. They become bittersweet memories or just bitter memories, leaving scars. They come in the form of words, actions, behaviors, thoughts, emotions, intentions and often, ‘un-intentions’.
Each Wednesday, here on my blog, Sparklers: Lights of Grace, you will rise and shine, greeted by my ‘something to think about’ Wednesday blog called, Sparklers Garden: Kernels of…. My greatest hope is that by planting our kernels we will reset our view about whatever season we are traveling in.
A Kernel of Faith
A kernel of faith is all you need to get through the ups and downs of life’s many seasons. Right?
Some seasons are crystal clear. The sky is blue, the varying hues of nature crisp and the heart is bursting with the joy of it all – we see it. For this, we give thanks with all our heart and soul.
But, sometimes it can be so bright that all you see is what’s right in front of you. This makes it hard to know where the blessings came from, therefore making it easy to feel invincible.
Meanwhile other seasons can be a mist of pain and darkness where there is no up, no down, and no side to side.
Either of these causes life to lose its luster. Either also makes the world seem flat. Our steps try to go backward to a bright and easy season in our life. But, those footprints are gone and we eventually collide with a big rubber wall that bounces us right back to the present.
Our season may be murky. We run to the right — smack into a hard wall. We try it again with a slightly different direction, ziz-zagging our way to the left, then to the right as if we can fool life into a different season.
There’s no fooling the seasons of life, so again we smack into a wall, this time staggering upright, bruises and all. The only direction left is forward, but the swirling mist hides what waits for us there. Scary, huh?
Perhaps, much like the long ago theory that the earth is flat, our life too has become flat. If we go forward, we might just step off the edge. Then what? Well, when a season in life changes, there’s no way to go back. It’s also impossible to remain still. Stagnation becomes a living death.
Moving into the next season is the only option. But that’s scary. It’s going to take courage and we can’t find it in the fog that surrounds us. Where can this much courage be found?
Listen and hear those words in your head – the two words that provide direction. Those words are, “you know”.
You know to raise your hands to heart level – yes both at the same time. In one you speak your fear; in the other you speak your faith; both of the unknown facing you. Then you put them together, clasped in prayer, releasing fears by giving them to God – and don’t even think about taking them back (remember that rubber wall?).
This is when the grace of courage is given. Works every time – in His timing.
It’s hard to to see evidence of faith in times like these when the entire world seems flat. Let’s grow this Sparkler Garden!
Please, share your own Kernel of… in the comments section in hopes that your kernel will touch at least one person reading it, and that one person is changed and in the doing, will provide a kernel that will grow in someone else.
“Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God.”