We the People

God Bless The United States of America.

God Bless The United States of America.

 

“…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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…” The U.S. Constitution

On July 4th we the citizens of The United States of America are celebrating our countries 239th anniversary. As countries go, we aren’t by any stretch of the imagination the oldest governed country in the world. There are actual populated cities on this earth that are far older. But for what we may lack in age and maturity, we certainly make-up with in brashness, can-do spirit, and audacity. Is that good? I don’t know, any perspective less than a hundred years old I immediately consider suspect at best.

Regardless of my nation’s sometimes bloody, sometimes noble, sometimes idiotic, sometimes unfair, and sometime brilliant past or present, I do love my home and nation – warts and all. Our US flag stands for a great deal, some bad, but so much more that is good.

Consider how many people from around the world would move to the US at the drop of a hat. Think of all our Latin American neighbors sneaking in against or laws and policies because they would rather live here than their own nations. I work at a University and meet many students from other nations who would rather stay here than go back to their own nations as their academic careers draw to a close. Many struggle to stay, some are not so successful.

No matter what people may think of the United States of America, it is for me the most wonderful place to live in the world. If you were born in a different place and take offense at my statement, I truly hope you love your home as much as I love mine. My wish for you is that you will work hard to make your nation a great and a wonderful place to live.  As for me, I will endeavor to help my home maintain our national identity as “one nation under God, indivisible with justice for all.”

Is our country perfect? What does perfect mean anyway? Is their room for improvement, absolutely.  But if we don’t learn to work together and face our difficulties with civility and respect, the alternative will always be bleak.

 

Name one thing you love about your home in the United States and one thing you would change for the better.

 

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The Art of Self-Deception – Part I

I don’t know exactly when it started. Years ago, maybe, when the volume of commitments almost equaled my available time. What was I doing? Nothing extraordinary.

  • Full-time job and daily commute. Check.
  • Caring for my parents. Another check.
  • Evenings with my husband and children, followed by writing several pages on my WIP. Double checks.
  • Weekends for congregation & worship, errands, keeping house, and helping my family grow a vineyard. Quadruple checks.

Raise your hand if these sound like you.

Launching my first novel was a thrilling experience last year, but it edged me into a time deficit. Did I care? Not really. It simply proved that the harder I worked, the more successful I could be. I still believed everything on my schedule was necessary and could only be done by me… a deception that took root in the void of No Free Time.

My smartphone came to the rescue—calendars, lists, online shopping, alarm reminders, apps for reading the Scriptures, email and social media—and enabled me to become uber efficient. Addicted to my smartphone’s super hero qualities, I became the puppet, and it became the master.

In the spring of 2013, a health crisis brought my Figure Eight laps to a screeching halt. Curled up in bed in a fog of pain, I couldn’t tolerate lights or sounds—even conversations, and I had difficulty pulling my thoughts together and formulating words. My computer and phone lay idle for the first time in years.

pulse-traceAn unpleasant surprise greeted me after I emerged from my cocoon, not as a colorful butterfly, but as a wounded moth. No longer able to breeze through complex tasks, any small thing now required effort, time, and multiple re-do’s. In 2014, following another hospitalization, a team of doctors diagnosed me with an incurable, debilitating disease. Forced to cut back on work, my Type A personality rebelled, believing that non-productivity was tantamount to failure.

During the holiday season, I finally admitted I was not improving. When I reluctantly asked my family for assistance around the house, they blew away another dangerous deception. They gave me unconditional love even though I couldn’t do everything I’d done before, and they happily—yes, happily—stepped in to help. To my amazement, they expressed gratitude that I would allow them to come along side. When I confided to my friends I discovered they didn’t shun my weakness either, but rallied around me.

Self-reflecting in this new year of 2015, I’ve found the courage to ask questions.

Why was I doing all these things? Love-certainly, but did a deeper need for validation drive me even harder?

Was it the perfectionist in me or because I feared a loss of love or respect if I wasn’t Superwoman 24/7?

Did I hope to earn the Lord’s approval by being a good person?

Examining my heart for the truth will be a challenging hike over mountain terrain, but I believe the answers will come, along with breathtaking views.
hiker on mountain
Are you too busy to reflect on your inner self instead of how you are fulfilling expectations? What tasks are you doing that could be borne by others?

My Creativity is Like a Pot of Soup…

“The next person who drags me away from this room is going to bear the brunt of my very focused wrath!”

Such was my warning to all in my household after the holidays had let a thick layer of dust gather on my keyboard. My family just chuckled and went about their business. But at least I was allowed an hour or two of uninterrupted writing and illustrating. I had to work on a manuscript, get a blog entry sorted out, do some critiques, prepare a few school presentations, and continue working on an illustration project. Upcoming deadlines felt like someone had thrown a fifty-pound backpack on me. Christmas and New Years had been fun, but it was time to come back down to earth.

Then came the phone call from my mom’s facility.

“Your mom has bumped her leg!”

Now, you must understand, my mom is 96 and no injury is a simple thing anymore. What started out as a blood blister the size of a toonie, soon became a major hematoma. All plans for the week were cast away in a split second. After many doctor’s visits and trips to Emergency at the hospital, we now had a huge ulcer on her leg that required constant attention. Once again, my keyboard was gathering dust.

When my kids were small, I denied myself most artistic and creative endeavors because I knew my personality. When I allowed myself to get into something creative, I was like a kid with a video game, a seagull with someone’s lunch: I did NOT want to let go! So consequently, to be the best parent/taxi-cab I could be, I waited until the kids were out of school and finished with organized sports before I pursued my creative outlets.

But now with an aging parent, I am back into the same role I had as a parent of younger children. Only now, my darling little mom (who was and still is my hero) has memory and health issues that need constant supervision.

God has given me creative gifts, but he has also put people in my life that he expects me to care for. And even though at times I have to be pulled away from my work to care for them, God is all about relationships too. And I never want to regret not spending as much time as I could with those I love. Of course there are times I must meet deadlines, but if I’m really honest (and organized), I do have time to look after my mom.

And I usually benefit just as much as those I’m caring for. Often my loved ones sneak into my stories, and my illustrations. It’s no surprise after raising two boys that I’m comfortable writing in the voice of a young male. And my mom’s sayings and witticisms have wiggled into my older characters’ dialogue.

My creativity is like a pot of soup that I have to put on a back burner every now and then, but during life’s sidetracks, the soup is being flavored with each relationship and struggle. So each time I come back to being creative, I am slightly different than I was before, but better.

Yes, I still get frustrated when I have to once again shove the pot on to the back burner, but seriously, how can you resist spending time with fun people? In case you’re wondering, my mom’s a beach babe and I’m the star in Hungry Games.

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So, how do you manage when you are hauled away from your creative projects?

 

Remembering…

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It was the most memorable Remembrance Day (Veterans Day for those States side) that I ever had.

It was my first year as a teacher,
and my first large project.

For a change of pace the kids were not going to the cenataph this year as they had in the past.
Instead, since the beginning of November the students had been studying about those who gave so much.
Kindergarten students had carefully traced and cut out their small hands to make wreaths of red.
Older students had written poems and short stories.

The kids entered the gymnasium and sat in crooked rows–
the air thick with anticipation.

With a solemnity not normal for school kids they laid their wreaths and sang ‘O Canada’.

But the most memorable part was to come.

I took out a story written by one of my high school students
and I read.

It was a long story.

My throat got sore and someone brought me a glass of water.
My legs began to cramp and a chair was placed beside me.
The bell for next class rang.
But there was silence as 100 kids scootched closer…riveted.

When the final note of Last Post hung in the air,
the Thank You from those gathered in silence was palpable.

Still this wasn’t the most memorable part.

Years later I met up with one of my students in town,
and they told me how memorable that day was.
But more important, Remembrance Day had taken on more weight.

Something had clicked on that day,
an understanding of what these men and women had done.

How important freedom truly was.

And isn’t this what we want to impress on generations to come?

On this Remembrance Day those in Canada will be remembering the deaths of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

I want to thank all those who have served in the past and those who continue to serve.

Thank you.

poppiesinlondon

 

Karen deBlieck

Karen deBlieck

What if the Body of Christ Looked Like This?

Imagine for a few minutes with me, if you will.

Imagine if every Christian did what they were created to do.  If every disciple of Christ followed so completely the life path plotted specifically for him or her by the all-knowing God.  If each servant were so in tune with God’s heart that selfish motives, worthless pursuits, worldly amBIblebitions simply vanished.  Crowded out by the very character of God, invited and allowed to inhabit His people, until there would be no room for anything else.

No thought to what others would think.

No endless nights spent contemplating the why or the how.

No embarrassment or self-consciousness.

Nothing but straight forward obedience.

What would that even look like in today’s world?

The factory worker, the school nurse, the drug store cashier, the bank executive, the pastor, the surgeon—each living a life so in touch surgeonwith the Father that every moment was about ministry.  The salesman, the athlete, the police chief, the lawyer, the missionary, the author—each with a life and faith so molded together that no line distinguished between living and ministry.  Every disciple more concerned with being who God wanted him to be, with doing what God wanted her to do, that nothing else mattered.

Just imagine how this would change how we do church.

FreeDigitalPhotos.net By Sira Anamwong,

A pastor before his congregation, literally on his face at the feet of God seeking only to be His vessel. So empowered to speak the word of the Lord that he delivers with absolute freedom and humble confidence that very message no matter how unpopular… or controversial… or unpleasant it may be.

The worship leader, the praise team, the soloists all bowed in prayer, seeking the anointing of the Lord, calling on His name alone, in the moments before His service begins.  Again, no misaligned motives, no false ambitions, no faithless missions ….. nothing but Spirit-led pursuits.

Parishioners, one and all, expressing his sacrifice of praise or her act of worship in complete freedom, not concerned with man’s appraisal or blessing, criticism or review.  Lifting hands, hearts, voices in praise, worship, and adoration.  Reaching for and touching the very hem of His garment in true, life-changing worship.

Servants respondingguy praying to God’s voice, His intimate leading—no matter where they are seated, no matter who’s watching, no matter the depth of the call—with not one thought to how anyone but the everlasting God will judge them. Being obedient to the Spirit’s call regardless of what such obedience asks of them. Whatever it may be. Praying with or seeking forgiveness from a fellow congregant. Bowing before the Almighty at a point in the service not designated for such behavior. Embarking on a change in vocation that will rock their world. Whatever it may be—settling for nothing less than total and complete obedience.

Imagine if ideas large and small could be trusted because concern that self-gratification or hot-headed impulsiveness or incompetent notions provide the guiding force would be virtually nonexistent.  Just think if every God-inspired idea received the effort and attention it deserved. No missing the boat. No neglected opportunities. No need for do-overs. Just imagine the possibilities.

What about free will? It would still exist but seldom—rarely even—would it contradict the calling and the very purpose of the Almighty God. Why? Because His all-consuming Spirit would so indwell each servant, creating not only the perfect union of faith and trust, commitment and power, but the most fertile soil for obedience.

With abandon the saints would march on. Not reckless abandon—without a plan or purpose. But rather an abandon controlled by and filled to over flowing with Spirit-led confidence. An abandon free of nagging doubts, needless worry. An abandon empowered by God himself.

Oh, that our world—our hurting, confused, misguided world—could experience such a manifestation of God’s people being God’s people.

FreeDigitalPhotos.net by imagerymajestic

FreeDigitalPhotos.net
by imagerymajestic

 Oh, God, I want to be so in tune with you each moment of each day that every minute of my life is about being Jesus, about doing His will.

I implore your SPIRIT to so fill me that hour by hour there is less of me  and more, so much more of You.

As I seek to fully know and live your plan for my life, remind me of the necessity of being in touch moment by moment with You, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.

Make me, oh, God, into the servant-minded instrument you desire me to be.

May I live to worship YOU.

May YOU be the very air that I breathe.