Sunday 19 July 2020

Something to Think About

Like so many people I have talked to the past few weeks, I am no loner able to sit through a newscast on television or listen to much the media has to say. The violence, unrest, destruction, hatred, mud-slinging, unreasonable demands and lack of truth has caused the tears to flow more than once. It makes me long for the days of my youth when children were taught to respect God, country and family. When a trip to the Five and Dime for a piece of penny candy was the highlight of the month and children could go to school where they said the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, were not afraid to say a prayer before a ballgame or activity and learned about history so they would be less likely to repeat any of the bad stuff. And at home, they learned how to honor parents, work hard for what they wanted and respect everyone regardless of race, religion, social position, monetary assets or disabilities.

It seems like most everyone featured on the news today is in a free-fall state where rational thought has vanished and it's all about personal wants, civil disobedience and the desire to blame others instead of taking personal responsibility for anything. Every time I hear about another Christian value being threatened or taken away it make me feel great pain. I can't understand why anyone would harm someone else or destroy something of value that an individual, congregation or other group has sacrificed to build. And where in the world did all the taking offense to everything come from?

When I get on my knees and talk to my Heavenly Father about my blessings, my desires and my fears, I know he is in charge and things are progressing as prophesy has told from the beginning of this earth's creation. I try to understand how he feels as he watches the children he created go to such lengths to harm and destroy people they have never even met and who are not responsible for what happened in the past. And when I see a church in flames, a family whose business has been destroyed or a dead child being held his or her parent's arms because of some drive-by or intended shooting, I want to rent the air with sobs like people in some cultures do.

I look at the increasing number of earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires and plagues of every kind and realize just how close we are to the Second Coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. What a glorious time it will be to have Christ reign personally on the earth and have peace restored while Satan and all of his followers are in chains. I look forward to being part of that marvelous experience but am no longer sure I have what it takes experience everything that is coming from the mortal sphere without falling apart myself. My heart is too sensitive, but I have faith in God and know that the silent majority, who believe in the same truths  I do, will let their voices be heard and we will not lose everything of value.

That's why I try to look for and remember all the kind acts of love, heroism, unity, courage and faith that have influenced how I want to view life. I'm including one below because it still brings tears whenever I think about it.

My son and daughter-in-law had been through a very trying year. Her diagnosis of Melanoma Lymphoma, the surgery and treatment, along with the loss of the child they hoped to adopt had hit them hard. That was followed by continual worry about how they were going to pay the escalating medical bills on one income. Then my son lost the tip of his finger when it was slammed into the tool box of his truck at work. And there was the diagnosis that my young, adopted granddaughter - the one they hoped would not grow up as an only child - might need hip surgery to correct a genetic condition.

The week before Christmas, my daughter-in-law suffered a rare setback with her cancer treatment that caused her to forget how to read. Tests finally confirmed that it wasn't a stroke or the Melanoma traveling to her brain, but a disconnect commonly known as cancer brain. With proper care, it was believed it would correct itself and not happen again. But life was determined to throw another irritation at them, followed by an unexpected blessing.

The early winter of 2014 began with a news report of an altercation with a white police officer in St. Louis that caused the unfortunate death of a young, blank man. The incident, not unlike what happened a few weeks ago, was fueled by politicians and the media into a scene of carnage and death instead of taking time for the justice system to do its job. Demonstrators took to the streets and left in their path burning, looting, death and destruction of every kind around the community. The fallout headlined the news for months, leaving many people to wonder if the Christmas season would still bring out the Christlike love that was supposed to exist.

The night following my daughter-in-last most recent setback was spent at her parents celebrating a nephew's birthday. When they they returned to their home a few hours later, they discovered that their snowblower had been stolen from their carport. My son's call to the police station brought a lovely, black, female officer to their front door to take their statement. She was more than sympathetic, but assured them that the snowblower would most likely never be recovered. They lived in a poorer section of Layton, Utah where thefts were common due to the number of drug addicts wanting a fix but not having the money to get one.

It was a setback since a major snow storm was expected to hit the area on Christmas Eve, but my son was determined not to let the loss upset the holidays because of the outpouring of love, help and support they had already received from family and friends during the previous months. He knew their resources were limited but decided he was going to do something special anyway. So when he went to the grocery store after work to pick up a few of the things they needed, he purchased a twenty-five dollar gift card and handed it to the person standing behind him, along the wish for a very special Christmas. He didn't immediately tell his wife what he had done, fearing her initial reaction. But he needn't have worried for she had her own story to tell.

The police officer who had taken their statement had returned while he was gone to see if they had been able to find the serial number of the snowblower in case one was recovered. They hadn't, but my daughter-in-law proceeded to tell her that they could live without it because her husband was healthy and strong and could continue shoveling their driveway and sidewalk, along with many of their neighbors on the street, as he had always done. But she'd wanted him to have it because he'd taken over almost every responsibility at home, along with working fulltime, during the months of her recovery. Due to the location of the cancer, her arm wouldn't allow her to do much.

In due time, both of their stories were told, but they were unprepared for what happened the morning before Christmas Day. When my son opened the front door to run a few last minute errands, he saw a different snowblower sitting on the front step with a note attached to it. In part, it said that the giver hoped this gift would add to their day, but to make sure they locked it up security where no one else could steal it.

What tears of joy this Christmas gift from a loving, protector of people's rights brought. This caring police officer who belonged to a profession that had been blasted as undertrained, racists and deserving of whatever they got had chosen to live by a higher law that proclaimed all men, women and children were equal. Her Christlike love, compassion and service will never be forgotten by the family and friends her selfless gift has honored. May her joy be great, her life long, and her thoughtfulness remembered by God above who will always know what is in her heart. And may we be as compassionate and understanding through these unprecedented days of sorrow and unrest as she was back them. That's what living in this country and this world should be all about.

Sunday 12 July 2020

Nature of Adversity

I doubt anyone appreciates how extensively human life has been thrown in turmoil, uncertainty and a sense of loss the past few months. I've certainly spent my share of days in a sort of numb awareness that has left me with little incentive, or even desire, to push forward with the zeal of the past. Energy has been at an all-time low and anxiety has been hard to suppress. My heart goes out to anyone who is feeling the same emotional stressors. I especially feel compassion and sorrow for all the children who have not been able to attend school where they can grow mentally, psychologically, socially or perhaps even physically during these days when most everyone is just waiting for the next shoe to drop. While I understand that no home life is perfect, many children are in more danger there than anyplace else. What happens to them will not even magnify itself until life gets back to a normalcy they can relate to. My biggest fear is that not all of them will be able to readjust because they were in such a fragile place when the chaos started.

My granddaughter, who will be 12 in September, spent the weekend with me. She's no longer interested in playing simple board games or watching Barbie or Strawberry Shortcake movies. She's also moved passed being able to spend hours playing with the dolls I've so painstaking created entire wardrobes for, or even the Shopkins' village and dolls that used to get me through hours of delightful time spent doing the things she loved. She no longer feels the need to snuggle up by my side while we read stories or watch movies designed for teens. She's even grown past the need to sleep with me at night. All that's perfectly normal and healthy for a preteen who is now more into friends, a cell phone, (And yes, I think she is way too young for internet access given what can be found on it.) writing stories, fixing her hair, playing games like Mindcraft, listening to her kind of music, spending time with her puppy and generally being a little moody.

But she still loves to talk, and I love to listen because I know she will tell me what is really bothering her if I don't shut her down too soon. She's very confused because she doesn't understand what happened to her usual life with school, church, specialized activities and the freedom to come and go as she wants without being afraid. In many ways, she's not like other children. She has social anxiety, along with several other disorders, that makes it hard for her to relate to other people, keep friends for an extended period of time, wear certain types of clothing, eat various kinds of foods, keep her emotions in check or even feel success at school because she can't sit still. Nonetheless, she wants to return to the classroom but knows she can't study and be around other people if she has to wear a mask. And  her parents can't homeschool, even if they felt they had the skills, because they both have to work to provide the necessities of life. It's quite a dilemma for a child to face.

That said, she's stuck in a place she doesn't want to be and is afraid Covid-19 and all the protesting, looting, destruction and murders of innocent people in the name of justice will never end. She's afraid of dying and not being able to accomplish the things she'd like to do. I can't say that I blame her. The effects of what has been happening the past few months will take years to mend and bring to the forefront issues we haven't even considered yet. I've gotten to a point where I can no longer listen to, or watch, mainline media news programming. It is completely slanted and takes away the spirit of peace, love for others and hope that makes my life worth living. While I doubt we will lose everything we value, so many of our freedoms have already been erased. I stand for God, country, family, peace, liberty and all the virtues and principles the Savior taught. I want to do my part in furthering his work. His second coming will be a glorious experience for those who survive the final destruction of a world that had chosen to forget who created it, and us, in the first place.

Along with general anxiety and not knowing what to do to help improve the situation because each word or action can be taken wrong, I have been going through a few minor difficulties of my own. I gave myself a mild concussion while gardening a few weeks ago. Talk about a massive headache that wouldn't go away! I had been working outside for over 4 hours and had just finished mowing the lawn. As I often do, I was spreading the cut clippings around my plants in the garden. It helps fertilize and keep the weeds down. Well, I had my arms filled and wasn't watching where I was going. My toe caught on something, and I reached for the closest object to keep from falling - a wire tomato cage. I'm sure I don't need to tell you what happened next because those cages cannot support a human's weight. With my arms flailing in the air and the grass clippings flying, I went down, and it wasn't a soft fall. I broke off part of the tomato plant and bent the round cage into almost parallel lines. But it didn't stop there. The side of my face struck the upright boards that separated the strawberries from the rest of my garden. The crack was hard, the pain dizzying, but I didn't lose consciousness. Fortunately, I didn't mess up my eye or break my jaw as could so easily have happened.

When I finally got to my feet, there wasn't a part of my head that didn't hurt and the goose egg on my cheekbone quadrupled during the next few hours. It took several days for all the bruises to appear and several weeks before I could think straight again. I was just starting to feel like myself when I got up on Thursday morning of this past week and couldn't stand up without pain. I don't know what I did to my left knee, but I still can't lift my foot over two inches off the floor without incredible agony. But I'm determined to get through this latest setback, like I did with my head, without seeing a doctor. Unfortunately, the fun just keeps coming. When I woke up this morning, both of my eyes were nearly swollen shut. I was having a sever allergic reaction to something. They look like two, tiny slits in my face. On the bright side, my garden is flourishing.  I've been given summer squash and cucumbers away, and it looks like I'll have a bumper crop of pumpkins this year. I'll be picking beans and peas in the next couple of weeks.

But even with the minor adversities I've had to endure recently, I know I've been blessed. I have a dear friend in Branson, Missouri who couldn't go back to work because of the virus, and then her boss decided to shut down his entire theater. The place where she was living was part of her salary, so she lost both her home and her job in one day. She has no family, no reserve income, no insurance and no prospects for work. She finally found a friend who would let her live in a room in the motel she ran. So my friend boxed up what she most treasured and put it in storage. She left everything else for whomever decided to take it. The week she moved into the motel room, she ended up in the hospital hardly able to breathe. It wasn't Covid-19, but she had fluid in her lungs among other things.

Once the doctor got enough fluid out, he found a huge, inoperable lump in her chest - not breast cancer - but cancer nonetheless. When she called me from the hospital, where she was still trying to recover from the first illness, to tell me what she'd just learned she was rightfully distressed. She felt she had nothing left to live for. I gave her what encouragement I could from a distance and she started chemo therapy. (I haven't been through that, but I have family members and friends who have.) When I talked to her a couple of day ago, her hair was falling out and the doctor wanted to add something more to the cocktail she was getting. She's back in her motel room now with a few friends around who are willing to bring her food. The manager took out one of the beds and put in a couch so it would feel more like home, and one of her friends took her to church last Sunday. She said it was where she needed to be. She has an uphill battle ahead, but for now, she's still fighting.

The above are just three examples of adversity that may, or may not, relate to what you are going through right now. The challenges we'll have put in our paths will be different, but with God's help we'll make it through, regardless of the outcome. I trust my Heavenly Father. I always have, even during times when I thought I couldn't go on. But I have to believe that no matter the difficulty, there is a way to survive and even thrive. There is definitely something to learn. My heart is filled with gratitude for people who do so many unselfish things for me and who allow me to do what I can in return. We are all God's children. There should be no division between us. When we meet our maker again, whether or not we believe we have one, there will be an accountability. I want to be standing where I should be when that time comes.