What Can Albania Teach Us About Trust

I don’t know my history well enough to judge the degree of authenticity of this, but I found it interesting.

ALK3R

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για albania turismoAt a time when refugees are being turned away at borders all over the world, it seems that there is a lot to learn from Albania’s penchant for hospitality.

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So, Which Is It?

Reblogged on WordPress.com

Source: So, Which Is It?

“Warning! It’s Monday. Pity Party Ahead

And then comes the morning, yesterday’s sorrows behind? Maybe, maybe not.
I thought my faith would grow stronger and it would be easier in old age with less needs, children grown, more wisdom. Well, it ain’t necessarily so. Many days it’s a struggle to just stay physically functional. Wisdom seems to have only come about seeing how I screwed up in the past. Too soon old, too late smart sums it up. Grown children have troubles I can’t fix and that I worry that I caused somehow. I have more dead friends than alive ones and the ones I still have are also struggling. I find myself facing the probability of living alone for the first time in my seventy-nine years of life. I love my grandchildren more than life itself, but have no say about what happens to them. And physically can’t do things for and with them like I used to enjoy so much. And people, that I have grown to love, leave and don’t look back. And while I know these are necessary losses and part of my journey with God, on the days when I can’t see His footprints, it’s a struggle to stay emotionally functional. I quit crying some seventeen or eighteen years ago, when dealing with heartbreak over grandchildren born facing incredibly hard problems, because I thought if I ever let myself cry, I’d never stop. I was right. I’ve cried so much lately, I should be dehydrated.
I never was very good at persevering through things. I usually was good at finding a way around or out of them. About thirty years ago, I felt that God was challenging me by giving me a new name, “Perseverance.” I did realize even then, that this wasn’t necessarily good news about my future years. But, I have learned with grace, to persevere. I have even learned to laugh while gritting my teeth. (Not easy on any level🙂 ) But sometimes, I just don’t want to. Today is one of those times
But, I will. I will grit my teeth, hang on with my fingernails, and be thankful for all the beauty, love, and joy God has given me in my life. And with Her grace, I will dig for that damn pony in all this manure.🙂

 Addendum added four hours later:

OKay, in an attempt to look on the brighter side of things today: Getting into pain from vacuuming means I can only manage one room’s floor before sitting down a while to get out of pain. This is good not only because a rest does get me out of pain, it also gives me a time out to go on-line.

And in my time spent today preparing for my women’s scripture class tomorrow, I read the funny little story about Jesus needing two tries to heal the blind man, because after Jesus tried once by putting saliva on his eyes, the man still couldn’t see other people as being like himself. It helps to know that people who don’t have natural empathy for others, may eventually be healed and acquire it. But, I haven’t figured out the significance  of using saliva yet!  Unless it means that spitting in someone’s eye doesn’t do much good. 🙂

So, this Monday has had goodies to balance the baddies. Thanks be to God!!!

The Commandments: Humanity’s Keys for Survival/The Beatitudes: Our Handbook for Freedom to Love

I’m pretty sure that law and the concept of sin and consequences were created to try to help us live in the groups we need to survive and prosper. Society is a two edged sword. It keeps us from having to do everything for ourselves from fighting off wildlife, planting, harvesting, to creating clothes and shelter, thus giving us time to think, create, explore, and ask questions about the why, not just the how. But, since humanity is a work in progress…..the old adage, that there’s both a goody and a baddy to everything, holds true for society. Society helps us survive physically, but it also challenges us to learn to love.
The commandments were first of all, simply practical. The laws were aimed at keeping us alive, both as individuals and humanity, long enough to become loving. Whatever the Intelligence called God is, that created and nourishes life, it lives within each of us. It is a source of grace to become more loving, than competitive and combative. And we are like cells in a body. Each of us not only affects those closest to us, we affect the whole for better or worse, even the generations following us.
Self-honesty and understanding, rather than guilt, are the beginning of learning to love. And those take courage and grace. The divorce rate makes it obvious we haven’t become enough like Jesus to even love those closest to us, never-the-less those different from us or even “against” us. The commandments are the basic tools of survival for society. But, Jesus showed us the next level through teaching and living the spirituality of the Beatitudes. They call us beyond the fundamentals of the Commandments and just survival. They call us to freedom, the freedom to love others.
Caring is prayer. Prayer is in the intention, whether expressed in words, thoughts, feelings, candles, symbols, acts of kindness, or forgiveness. There is power in prayer. But both wisdom and love are needed to use the power for others, to understand that all creation, without exception, is one.
Jesus is a turning point in humanity’s journey. He fleshed out a love that sacrifices for not only the weakest physically, but the weakest spiritually. This is not survival of the fittest.
His resurrection also illustrated that this life span isn’t all there is. Jesus is the living example of the potential of God’s grace even within our own humanity.
His resurrection shows us death is simply a door to eternity. When we believe this, it gives us a very different value system than death as the finish line. And His openness and love for all show us the way to overcome the finality of death.

The Spirituality of the Beatitudes (Paraphrased)

The Beatitudes: The Handbook for Becoming Free to Love as Jesus Loved

Laughter: Carbonated Grace

The Beatitudes Describe Spirituality rather than Religion or Law. The word ‘blessed’ is translated here as receiving grace.
The Beatitudes
Graced are the poor in spirit for they are not filled with self, so they are able to be open to God.
Graced are those that accept the pain of loss for they will find the Comforter within instead of seeking an escape.
Graced are those who do not need to own or control anything, for they are free to enjoy the beauty of everything.
Graced are those who know and regret that they are imperfect, for they are free to accept Jesus as their righteousness.
Graced are those who recognize the log in their own eye, for they will seek the love of God and become able to love the unlovable.
Graced are those who are focused on God, for they will find God everywhere.
Graced are the peacemakers…

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The artichoke heart

Beautiful analogy. You never know where you will find golden nuggets of truth. This is one.

The Silent Eye

artichokes-addie-hocynec

When I was growing up in Yorkshire, all those years ago, there were many things one read about in cookbooks but did not find in the local greengrocer’s shop. I was 25, living in France and pregnant when I met my first globe artichoke. I had seen the tinned ones, artificially preserved and nothing like these fresh ones. My husband brought them home from market, and I recall wondering at the time how on earth one cooked them and, looking at the huge and scaly thistle buds, why anyone would choose to do so.

My husband, an excellent cook himself, took pity on my ignorance, explaining that young buds could be eaten whole, but the bigger, older ones took a bit more work. He prepared them in his favourite fashion… boiled till tender and served with a whipped vinaigrette. He demonstrated how to eat them, pulling off the individual leaves…

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Hiding Places and Safe Places

Grown ups have hiding places,
ones where we hide
from ourselves.
The bottom of a bottle
is a traditional favorite.
Toxic relationships are another.
In those, we can just focus
on the “other.”
Conformity is a camouflage
of many different colors:
a club, a church, a cause.
But most popular are
roles or titles:
mother, teacher, CEO,
postman, criminal,
priest or “ho,”
even being gay.
You see, sometime long ago,
we hid our patchwork
selves away.
But a hiding place and a safe place
are not the same.
Safety only comes when we have
nothing left to lose,
are not clinging to any idols,
or hiding behind an image.
Only then, when all else fails,
do we finally explore
the darkness
within.
And coming face to face
with our real selves,
we find God
and peace.

Spare Parts

There was a note from Netflix in my email today. It said,
“We sent you Spare Parts.”
I got excited for a moment, because I certainly could use some replacement parts! Then I realized it meant a movie named, “Spare Parts.”
Pretty soon I guess, though maybe not in my life time, we’ll get catalogs in the mail for spare parts. If, they get where we can shop for a new brain, I’d want to know a whole lot about the person it came from.
It’s taken me over seventy years to get comfortable with mine. Even with its retrieval hiccups, I’ve become quite attached to it.
And its quirky little thoughts give me a lot of laughs. That may be more important than knowing people’s name or phone numbers.
Anyway, there’s probably an app somewhere for phones, that shows faces with names in files grouped by gender, age, likability and relationship to me.
Think I’ll keep the brain I have, just for laughs.

Wildlife Encounters Part Five: City Cousins

img189We finally moved into town on a wooded lot overlooking a lake. Imagine our surprise and delight when one night in the light from our windows, we saw a pair of raccoons, of possums, of armadillos, and even two very small red foxes all eating peaceably together under the bird feeders. It was like a scene from a Disney movie. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I don’t think I would have believed it. The next Spring, three momma raccoons each brought three babies at the same time every day to picnic under the feeders and drink from the birdbath. The babies were just cuddly balls of fur with masks and couldn’t climb into the birdbath at first. For about six weeks they came each day to tumble and climb, and eat in safety. The moms brought them out in the daytime because they were small and vulnerable, and large male raccoons are often dangerously aggressive toward babies. But the male raccoons come out only at night. I guess as nocturnal animals this is the raccoon moms’ equivalent to new human moms being awake at night taking care of their newborns. Sometimes adult raccoons would climb out a limb and grab hold of the wire attached to a feeder and walk the feeder back to where a branch came out of the trunk. There, comfortably ensconced in the notch, they would happily stuff themselves. One time they even managed to get the wire loose from the limb and drag the whole feeder off into the woods. Meanwhile beavers helped themselves to trees at the edge of the lake to build condominiums in the bank. The lake also attracted migratory ducks and geese, a blue heron, and finally even an eagle began to call it home. A pair of red tailed hawks got our attention by building a large nest that could be seen from our screened porch. The year before we planned to sell the house and downsize to an apartment, we began to replace the large sections of screening on the porch. But before we could finish this, a hawk swooped down to grab a bird at the feeder. He missed the bird, but went at high speed right through part of the old screen into the porch. At first we thought he was dead because he was lying completely still on his back with this feet and talons in the air. But when my husband opened the door to the porch to check on him, the hawk came to life, so my husband beat a hasty retreat. Even though the hawk began to move around the porch, it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to get out the tear he had made. This porch was my playpen for small grandchildren, so the only door opened into the kitchen area. There was no way for the hawk to get out. The porch was high off the ground that sloped down steeply from the house. So my husband climbed a ladder and as the hawk watched him closely, used a rake to tear more screen loose. Once he tore a fairly large hole, he decided to let the hawk figure the rest out for himself. Which fortunately, it did.
Next: Wildlife Encounters Part 6 Apartment Wildlife

The Freedom of Forgiveness

If we can forgive that another person cannot give us what only God can give, then we can celebrate that person’s gift. (Henri Nouwen)
I think as we go through life, we end up having to forgive our parents, our siblings, our children, our spouse, our friends,- etc. etc. etc.- for not being able to be what we need and want because they aren’t God. And our own neediness isn’t love either, so we end up having to forgive ourselves also. Forgiveness frees us to heal and move on.  
The core of love is forgiveness. (*This doesn’t mean allowing ourselves to be victims.) It means realizing that we all fall short of perfection, so we can let go of bitterness and even self-hate as we continue to become the unique, imperfect, but with the grace of God, slowly ever more loving, person God created us to be