Tag Archive | Life

Do You Know This Player?

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My name is Pride, I am a cheater.

I cheat you of your God-given destiny…

because you demand your own way.

I cheat you of contentment…

because you “deserve better than this.”

I cheat you of knowledge…because you already know it all.

I cheat you of healing…because you’re too full of me to forgive.

I cheat you of holiness…

because you refuse to admit when you’re wrong.

I cheat you of vision…

because you’d rather look in the mirror than out a window.

I cheat you of genuine friendship…

because nobody’s going to know the real you.

I cheat you of love…

because real romance demands sacrifice.

I cheat you of greatness in heaven…

because you refuse to wash another’s feet on earth.

I cheat you of God’s glory…

because I convince you to seek your own.

My name is Pride.  I am a cheater.

You like me because you think I’m always looking out for you.  Untrue.

I’m looking to make a fool of you.

God has so much for you, I admit, but don’t worry…

If you stick with me,

You’ll never know.

Capitalising on our confusion

A great summation of the manipulation of a society’s confusion from https://www.rivenrod.com

Rivenrod

madworldIndividual countries and indeed the entire globe is a multi-divisional corporation where executive politicians and civil servants manage day to day business. These people are the “faces” of the organisation(s) but, no matter how much they squabble, name-call and posture, they have no real power.

In control is The Board of Directors, the actual “owners”, who are shadowy individuals pulling their strings from a safe distance, making them dance to a bigger, orchestrated tune. Nothing happens without their say-so and even though they influence just about everything in our lives we, the people so to speak, can never be entirely sure who they are.

These “owners” capitalise on our confusion.

In increasingly sophisticated ways they monetise and powertise our basic instincts – greed, need for security, need for food, heat, shelter etc. They control and suppress, often entire nations, by reminding us whenever necessary that they can remove these “basics” so…

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My United Hometown

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I reflected earlier this summer – on our 4th of July holiday to be exact – on how the celebration termed as our ‘Independence’ Day seems to be lost at times to those of us that live in this great country we call home.  Lost in the sense that we may take for granted that freedom is not an entitlement.

As the news stories played out across our televisions this past Sunday, many of us recalled where we were on that fateful morning fifteen years ago.  Where we were, what we were doing when shock took over as we watched and felt the horror take residence in the heart of every American, young and old.

As I watched on Sunday, I thought again of our men and women stationed in countries across oceans, far away from loved ones, who are there for the sole reason of defending this county we move freely in.  Where we, at any time of the day or night, can choose to live our lives with the comfort of not having to worry of such things as missile strikes, combat zones or constant bombings.  Those soldiers are working and laying down their lives to ensure that freedom that all of us cocooned in safety can so easily relay into a ‘right’.

On Monday, in my mind and heart, those soldiers overseas became joint partners with soldiers of a different uniform.  Those wearing the badges of city and county police officers.

As the hours ticked by throughout the day, I kept watch for emails updating the condition of a police officer from my hometown who was shot while serving a warrant over the weekend.  Late Monday afternoon, we learned he had succumbed to the injuries.

And my hometown is united like it hasn’t been since 9/11.

Office Brackeen’s patrol car is standing guard at the police station, covered in flowers.  Our picturesque courtsquare is adorned in blue ribbons.  Restaurants are selling blue lapel pins to raise money for the family.  Students at schools throughout the county will be wearing blue in honor on Friday.  Off duty officers in full uniform are seen standing talking in groups all over town.  Facebook is filled with beautiful tributes.  Just to give you a visual.  Our hearts are broken for his wife and four year old daughter.  For all his friends and fellow officers.

We’ve all heard the news reports of officers killed in the line of duty.  And I am ashamed to admit it to be so, but until this tragedy hit ‘home’,  I had mainly been only aware of officers as my foot got heavy on the gas pedal and feared being caught.  Personally speaking, that is. Also, I remember telling my granddaughter that they are there for us to call if we’re in danger and need their help.

My, how things have changed.

In the volatile currents that are wrecking our society, these officers are truly soldiers on the battlefields of home.  Just as the soldiers overseas are defending our nation as a whole, these brave men and women step out each day into situations that can take their lives just as easily as those in the war zones of our world.  They are officers because of a heart’s desire to serve and protect – an oath they make to each of us.

I urge everyone reading this to examine your thoughts.  Have you, like myself, failed to give due respect to those who have sworn this oath?  I can say without a doubt that if I had to tally them into a column, the column would be headed as “Protection I’m Entitled To”.  The last forty-eight or so hours have opened my eyes.

This morning I actually saluted an officer driving in the lane beside me on the way to work. I realize as a civilian a salute may not be proper, but as each of us here struggle to come to terms with this happening in our own backyards, a salute summed it up for me in the space of moments I had in his eyesight.  I have awakened to a  great respect and appreciation for the protection they fight daily to blanket us with.  My heart goes out to them in a way like never before.  And now, with my granddaughter having been a part of the prayer vigil on the courtsquare Monday evening, I have a feeling she may be giving me a lesson on the freedoms they protect and not just there if we need them.

Please join me in searching out ways to let these protectors in our midst know that we stand with them, that we appreciate more than words can express the many ways they cloak our days in protection.  Chances are very high that we know very little of the actual dangers they have experienced in any given day.   I will seek ways to express this appreciation, but in the meantime, I will continue to salute.

My prayers and gratitude are with each of our soldiers.  Everywhere…

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At Every Bridge Bringing Officer Brackeen Home

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Saluted All Along the 45 Mile Ride

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To Protect And Serve

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United at Every Mile

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Standing Guard

 

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Independence Is A State of Being

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I’ve recently returned from my holiday on the beautiful island of Maui.  I’m taking liberty to borrow the term ‘holiday’ from the British as the glorious days spent there were in all facets of the word – a holiday.  I’ve been fortunate to have taken vacations in many beautiful locales, but Maui has given new meaning to where and how I spend precious days away in the future.  I plan a post detailing my trip.  But on this Independence Day, 2016, my thoughts are in a different direction – yet my recent days on the island have contributed greatly to my perspective on this July 4th holiday at home.

My habit is to set my DVR to record Good Morning, America each day and catch up in the evenings with all that’s going on in the world.  And unless you are one of those individuals who have tucked their head in the sand and decided you can take no more of the insanity and uncertainty happening daily, you know what a large dose of detriment to our psyches is being doled out.  For the sake of my point, let’s disregard media’s ability to steer opinions and consider only the headlines themselves.

Details aside, I have been watching for many months the devastating weather patterns that have ravaged our country from one side to the other, many perishing in the wake, countless others being robbed of all they own with no idea of how they’ll recover.  The horror of attacks across the world, both by terrorists on a large scale and by close members of victims’ own families on an even more hard to understand level.  The hatred.  Absurdities. And has there ever been a more head-shaking presidential campaign?

All of this and so much more is absolutely mind boggling.

Keep this in mind, and allow me to shift gears for a moment.

Before I experienced it for myself, Maui presented itself in my mind as one of the ultimate tourist destinations – think Disney World with the not-to-miss list of sights to see as the attractions.  From that visualization, take away the well paved parking lots with attendants to direct you.  Take away billboards luring you to exorbitant entrance fees.  Take away hearing sales pitches.  And replace all that with God’s green earth, towering vistas, and sparkling blue water as far as you can see from a vantage point that’s always just around the next corner.  Yes, there are resort areas – there have to be to accomodate those of us who sojourn there.  But the paradise that can easily be described in one word – Eden – is found on your own.  Out exploring the island.

And as I explored the island, I brought home a blessing that I was not expecting.  There is one side of me that hates the terrible things that are going on in our world today, that the tides of hate may dictate how the balance of my granddaughter’s future will pan out.  But there’s also the other side of me that has hope, a hope that I had lost sight of – and possibly never even had – until I was within the spectre of the intensity and power of the beauty on Maui.  That beauty is not man-made.  And neither is the Bestower of that power. Standing within the breathtaking awesomeness of just one small piece of God’s creation, I felt His power give me the confidence to know that I can be still and know that He is capable of providing the ability for us to rise above the insanities of this world.  And the beauty equips us to be partners with the positive, enabling us to carry on.

As we look for the beauties in our days, we need to remember that we are not entitled to the freedoms that we have.  Those freedoms have been and continue to be bought with the lives of many soldiers who are out there doing their jobs to ensure that we remain free.  It’s easy to get caught up in the monstrosities that plague our world today, to let them make us bitter, or complacent, or reckless, or I could go on and on with the symptoms of our weary world.

But we must make a choice.  We are free to make the conscious choice to see the beauty of this world and each person we come into contact with.   There’s beauty in each of us because each of us are also one of God’s awesome creations.  We are all fighting for independence in one way or another and if we can learn to see independence as a blessing and not a right – without letting hatred be our guiding force –  we will begin to see more beauty in our moments. Call me a dreamer, but I believe those moments will begin to spill over onto those around us and we can all be enablers of the positive kind.  There’s by far too much of the devastating negative kind.

So choose to be in an independent state of mind – rising above the awfulness of this world – replace the bad with the good – and never forget that there are those always giving their all, sometimes their very lives, to allow us this choice.

Happy Independence Day to you all!

 

 

 

Look Out Kids, I’m Gonna Embarrass You Now!

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Me with Dr. Sandra Schultz

I told the truth when I said I hadn’t been anxious about hearing the results of my mammogram.   And it remained the truth until about twenty minutes before my appointment time.

As I walked in the door, that anxiety disappeared as I was greeted by the smiling Dr. Schultz herself.  She was sitting at the front desk, a highly unusual sight, and she laughed at my astonishment and told me not to get used to it that she’d be moving in just a second.  I stopped her before she could get away and asked for a picture.  She said “Certainly, come on in and we’ll get it in front of the tree.”

Before my cancer was discovered, I had known of a woman who had been diagnosed with a very rare, fast and almost always fatal form of this vicious disease.  Her doctor went to work determined to save her life.  She contacted colleagues all over the country with her immediate research.  Armed with all the knowledge available, she used her innate ability to read cancer and started an agressive attack.  I’ll not go into the details because those aren’t mine to share, but years later this woman is still cancer-free.  I believe that if God had not deemed it so, that would not be the case.  But I also believe that He placed her care in the earthly hands of Dr. Sandra Schultz, just as He did mine.

This is a story that could be repeated all day long.  There’s visual evidence of these stories all over the office in the form of quilts hanging on the walls, pink wreaths adorning the doors and artwork all up and down the hallways – all given in gratitude by patients and their families.  Not only is the care given by Dr. Schultz that of which gives hope, but the atmosphere of her office conveys an instant feeling of warmth, making her patients feel like family from the first visit forward.

As you walk up to the window to sign in, you are immediately swathed in that warmth by her receptionist, Brenda McCombs.  Of my many, many visits, never has this sweet lady failed to greet me with the most genuine smile and positive attitude.  The other members of the office – Stephanie, Lindsay, Ruby and Leanna – make the picture complete and they all bounce their warm spirits back and forth amongst themselves, drawing you into their amazing circle of healing.

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Brenda MCombs

My granddaughter doesn’t know it yet, but on June 3, she and I will be joining Dr. Schultz and her team, The Blazing Pink Flamingos, at the Relay for Life Walk in Kings Mountain.  Brenda said she would surprise my granddaughter with her own pink flamingo:

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Have you noticed the artwork and wreaths I mentioned?

As Dr. Schultz and I chatted in the examining room today, she asked how the trip plans were coming along.  I looked at her, astonished that she had remembered my telling her last year of our upcoming trip.  She grinned at me and said she’d made a note on my file so she wouldn’t forget.

In addition to being the tremendous doctor and surgeon that she is, Dr. Schultz is also a very large supporter of non-profit groups in Gaston County.  There were several raffle baskets in the office today, with proceeds going to various organizations.

From the standpoint of being a patient, it is very rare to come across this type of environment.  The dedication of Dr. Schultz, and her staff, is evident to any who find themselves in the midst of their care.  Not only was I blessed that my cancer was found so early, but my blessings were greatly enhanced by being under the care of this wonderful woman.  Her expertise is undeniable, her depth of caring is unquestionable.

Now, to my daughter, my son-in-law and my granddaughter, I say:  Look out paradise, here I come!  No holding back, no fears.  My feet will be as if they’re not touching the ground and I’ll be dancing to music, even if I’m the only one who can hear it.  I’m Maui bound, and I’m cancer-free!

 

 

 

Me and Bobbie McKee

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For the last month or so, my DVR has been filling up a lot more than usual.  Dirty laundry has piled up until the weekends.  And my dog just sits and stares at me, trying to figure out what’s going on.  But the new laptop with the advanced keyboard that at first had me severely frustrated is now my new best friend.

Just as many of you have mentioned having yourselves, I’m going to have to force myself to come up with a designated sort of schedule for blogging and writing or nothing else is going to get done.  I feel a bit unbalanced, off-kilter with the many other things that have to be tended to.

But even though my scales are a bit tilted right now, there’s a wonderful blessing in all of this busyness – a blessing that feels like the bud on the Oriental Lily in my yard, bursting forth with a brilliance that’s breathtaking and oh so beautiful.

Let me tell you what I mean:  My Daddy always told me I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders.  And that was while I was still in school, years ago.  I’ll not go into the marital arena, so read between the lines there.  My daughter told me years ago that I think too much, so I learned to limit the degree of which I ramble on with her. There’s been only one person with whom I learned that I could let my thoughts fly free without reservations.  A co-worker with whom I worked for 15 years:   Bobbie (Barbara) McKee.

We took morning and afternoon breaks together, went to dinner quite often.  Her husband sang with a gospel group and we’d travel around to wherever they would be performing, normally on Saturday evenings.    During all these times, we spent hour upon hour talking.  We probably knew more about each other than anyone else in our lives, even our husbands.

We’d discuss every idea you could imagine.  Did we believe in ghosts? did we believe we are the only life forms in the universe? did we believe those who’ve died know what’s going on in the lives of those they loved who are still alive? – those kind of questions.

Then there were the other kinds:  how do those bugs get in those tightly sealed light fixtures?  do fish sleep? and if you pass somebody whose in second place, what place are you in?

Bobbie was a bit older than me but we never gave that a thought at all.  Over time, the endearing look that she’d give me meant the world to me. That look meant that she just knew without even looking at me when I was about to pose a question that would set us off on a wild ride.  We would inevitably take it the distance and would end up laughing so hard we wouldn’t be able to talk.  But my word, the discussions we would have!

Bobbie died in 2005 after being diagnosed only the year before with lung cancer.

Not that Bobbie is never not a part of me, but I was reminded very vividly of our discussions one day last week when a new co-worker, one I’ve known for just a little over one year now, shared a dream with me and off she and I went on one of those wonderful discussions.  I was so elated – all at once for the reminder of Bobbie, for the fascinating talk my friend and I had just had, and for the fact that I was getting to let my mind run rampant for the first time in ages.  I had goosebumps from my toes to my ears and actually had to get up and walk around the building, I was so happy!

And then it dawned on me…the time I am spending here in blogland is essentially the same thing.  I have once again opened myself up to exploring infinite possibilities.  But I am no longer a babe drinking babe’s milk.  Even though I need not fear being drawn into wrong directions or harmful thoughts,  there is a vast and wide volume and variety of viewpoints voiced here.  I am learning to explore other ideas that are outside my own box.  And in doing so, I am finding the path that allows me to maintain my own beliefs and at the same time, consider and converse with others who differ.

Therein lies the blessing.

My daughter says she’s noticed a difference in me lately.  A contentedness.  I know now that it has its roots in my newfound confidence I’m gaining through re-connecting with myself.  I have, in a very real way, returned to myself. I am me again.  And it’s been a very, very long time since I’ve fully been ‘me’.  I am able to speak the truth here, with no pretenses, no reservations.  That is very free-ing.  And it is boiling over into other areas of my life, but I’ll save that for another post.

Thank you, my friends, for giving me back myself.