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Just the facts ma’am, just the facts.

August 29th, 2011 by stephanie

I remember painfully sitting through a High School Advanced Placement history class that for some reason I had tested into. To this day, I will never know how I ended up in there. The teacher certainly wondered too. I never quite got her points. And she let me know it. What I did get from her class was how intensely she despised Richard M. Nixon. We heard about it almost daily, so I tended to tune her out. But if truth be told, I do actually recall some portion of the class. It was the section on the Civil War.

Coming from a California education, the only information we received on that horrible War was what we learned from our text books. By the time we got to that section in this particular class I can assure you the teacher accomplished her task. To this day I can hear her pounding into our brains that the War between the States was merely about cotton. Economics. End of story. Turn the chapter

So you can imagine my bewilderment as eyes scanned the page showing the levels and the layout of the packed slave ships. I was baffled as to why this woman seemed so bent on making us believe it had nothing to do with slaves

As I skimmed through the news online, my eyes caught a fascinating story one morning. It jarred my memory of this high school teacher and her mantra.

It was a story from CNN that began, “A long-hidden message has been discovered inside Abraham Lincoln’s pocket watch, the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History…” (March 10, 2009)

Ironically, the message in the watch differs slightly from what the watchmaker later claimed that he wrote. Jonathan Dillon was repairing Lincoln’s watch in April 1861 when he heard about the attack on Fort Sumter, South Carolina. That day, he apparently scratched a short note on the metal inside the watch. And, there it stayed, as a secret, for almost 150 years.

The actual message that the museum found however seems to differ from the watchmaker’s personal recollection years later. The inscription on the watch reads:

 Jonathan Dillon, April 13-1861, Fort Sumpter [sic] was attacked by the rebels on the above date J Dillon, April 13-1861, Washington, thank God we have a government, Jonth Dillon.

Interestingly, in a 1906 interview with The New York Times this same watchmaker, Dillon, reported that as soon as he heard the news about the first shots of the Civil War, he unscrewed the dial of the watch and wrote on the metal, “The first gun is fired. Slavery is dead. Thank God we have a President who at least will try.”

So, what the man wrote, and what he recalled to the world seem to have ended up being two conflicting accounts. Interesting, isn’t it?  Actual events and how we recall them later can be two very different things. Yet in our minds, we are so confident in “our” point of view. I guess that much, in the last 150 years, hasn’t changed. The facts of a story and how it actually went down, sometimes, just don’t always match up. Being commited to getting the facts is always a good plan of action to keep in our back pocket. Kinda like that famous watch that Lincoln kept in the back of his.

Just my thoughts.

S.

Newsflash: Men and Women Are Different.

August 27th, 2011 by stephanie

I wrote this a few years back, but was asked to bring it back. Would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

I just wrapped up taking part in a taping for an upcoming television show this past week. 13 shows were taped in four days. Yep. It’s a bit crazy. A show is taped. You go and change clothes. And you start all over again. The star of the show is a marriage seminar leader and pastor from Wisconsin, Mark Gungar. (You really should check him out on YouTube). Not nationally known, but a fairly well known personality on the national stage. He was engaging, funny, and easy to listen to. If there is one thing this guy has down, it is getting the male population to “tune in” to what he is saying and connect! And too, he makes some great points to the women in the audience. Basically, we girls just plain don’t get men, as we know. But what we forget, is that half the time, we punish men for not “thinking” like women, not “understanding” women, not “relating” to women, you get the picture. All the while forgetting they are NOT women. 🙂

It saddens me that my generation of women missed out on the tutoring from older women that guys and gals are different. And that it’s ok. That it’s not something to fight, but rather understand and embrace. But nope. We were the generation of unisex haircuts and clothing. It was cool to be “likes”. To prove that we were the equal. Differences were an “archaic” way of thinking. And we were above that. hmmmmmmm

We can see how well that worked. The divorce rate and homosexuality skyrocketed during that period of time, families fractured, and the list goes on. We were left wondering why and how this could have happened. What went wrong during this modern, intellectual way of thinking?

It’s pretty easy. The Bible has lasted for a few thousand years. Its principles (which were deemed outdated and unrealistic) were tossed out. We would find a better way. But have we?

My challenge to you this week is just to simply strive to notice the differences in men and women. Embrace them. And work to understand them. It can be a beautiful thing.

Life’s good. Let’s work to make it even better.

S.

Spread the Word…

August 17th, 2011 by stephanie

Spread the Word. The Gospel, that is.

There was one particular song I enjoyed that became popular in the 1990s that was by the band Whiteheart.. It was called Say the Word. I just could not get enough of it. The lyrics spoke directly to my heart. They were simple and true. Basically, the song explains that you don’t have to do much, just speak the words of God (the Scriptures from the Bible) and amazing things can happen. After all, it is God’s Word. I think it can pretty much stand on it’s own.

In considering the messages flying about in regards to the situation America is in today, I’d say that what this country could use more than any Stimulus Package or Debt Recovery Plan is a good dose of the Good News of the Gospel.

Just think, if instead of a mandate connected to tax payer dollars, Congress had signed into law a bill that stated we had to be honest? Had to share? Had to think of others first? Had to give first? Had to meet each others needs? Had to pay our bills or had to pay on time and had to pay in cash? Had to honor God, and had to live Godly lives? Well, this world would heal up pretty quickly if you ask me.

The answer isn’t solving the financial crises we’re in right now. It’s about peace. Peace of mind. Peace of life. Peace of heart. Something that money just can’t solve or buy. Without inner peace, all of the resources in the world, or the stability they can bring, simply isn’t enough.

Sure, we only get one shot at this life. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make the best of it. But may we not forget, there’s a whole lot of living that comes in the hereafter. It’s called eternity. And that’s a really, really, really long time. With no end!

So, instead of arguing about spreading the wealth, why not consider the clever ways to personally spread the Gospel. After all we’ve been through, it really couldn’t hurt.

Just my thoughts,
S.

Where Your Treasure Is, There Is Your Heart.

August 12th, 2011 by stephanie

There’s a wonderful song by the Irish group IONA that goes, “Where your treasure is, there is your heart.”

One of the definitions of the word “treasure”, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “to value highly.” As I was letting my friend debrief over her iced latte, I asked her just who she was spending her energy, time and resources on and with. She seemed to be stressed and a bit depressed, and I felt we needed to get to the bottom of it.

“Think about it”, I said, “If you are spending precious moments and energy with people who ‘need’ you and do not invest back into you, I’d bet you are pretty tired at the end of the day or week.” I went on to share that if she found that she socialized mostly with people who were downers, she too would end up, well, “down”. If her time on the phone consisted mostly of those who see only the negative, she probably wasn’t feeling too bubbly and chipper when the call ended.

I hope you are making the transition here to evaluating the same situations in your own life. Who we spend time with, invest in, and adore, really matters. Take the Olympic athletes for instance. If they spent most of their time with people who eat junk food and don’t exercise, it will most likely limit their resources and their energy. I highly doubt that those processed–food friends would be the ones that drive them “closer to the gold.” And so it is with you and I. If our goal is to save money, and we find that our weekends are spent burning up the credit card out of mere peer pressure, we’re in for the shock of a lifetime down the road. You and I both know that.

So, if you and I want to head in a particular direction, we really need to sit down and take stock of the people in our lives with whom we invest the most time and resources.

With that, I am going to ask you to make a literal list. Write it out in front of you. And stare at it. Then make a a list of your passions, goals and dreams. Are the people in which you are investing the majority of your time and resources truly moving you farther down the path that you personally want, or know, that you should take? Just a little something to chew on this weekend, besides that great meal out or that grilled hamburger.

Selah!
Stephanie
Where Your Treasure is, There Your Heart will be Also. Matt. 6:21

Be Nice.

August 9th, 2011 by stephanie

I can hear those words as if my mother is saying them to me right now. I would imagine most of you are familiar with this line: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. If it didn’t come from our mothers it came from some other well meaning soul that wanted to help us along our way.

As we chatted over Mexican, my friend sat across from me quietly listening, nodding, and more as I unloaded about my day. Then, it was her turn to spill. It wasn’t until she began to share about a nasty incident that had transpired in hers that I shook my head. All I could think of was, Why do people have a need to be so mean?

Sometimes, it’s not even the saying of anything that hurts–it can simply be the actions. More times than not, I can remember when someone didn’t have to say a word. They were just “rude” or cruel in their behavior. I think you follow me on this one.

I was assisting a friend with a project awhile back. There were some other folks involved and for some reason, one person just didn’t seem to like my presence. Rather than explain what the problem was, she decided to just, well, be rude. It wasn’t the words she chose necessarily as it was the tone, or body language when she said it.

It’s amazing how people can say something like “Pass the stapler,” and make it sound like you just cut them off in traffic. It’s that vibe that gives off the-I have to be at my destination in five minutes-and you are in my way! It never ceases to amaze me when people in that frame of mind take out their anger on you when you are in their space or sphere of influence. They have a need to make you feel it’s all your fault. Strange.

And too, some people seem to have a need to let you know that the color or style of the shirt you’re wearing, “Just isn’t workin’ for ya today.” Or, perhaps you might want to rethink that “idea” you had. For whatever reason, they need to let you know, in some way, that you are a bit less, or inferior to them. Even more so, that they simply don’t like you. The thrill of the “jab”, I call it.

I don’t understand how their treatment of you and me in those situations makes them feel better, but alas, I guess it does. Someone hurt them at some point in their life, they are still wincing from the pain, and they will make someone pay. And today, that someone will be you-or me. Lucky us!

Regardless of the odd-bird whoozits or whatzits in our lives today, let’s plan to remember this old saying too: misery loves company.

With that, let’s not keep company with the miserables if we can help it, shall we? Let’s leave them alone and let them go their way. As for you and me, my friend, if we can’t say something nice, we’ll just smile, go about our business, and not say anything at all.

Just my thoughts.

Stephanie

Prov. 15:1

It’s Trash Night!

August 4th, 2011 by stephanie

Those were the words I heard without fail once a week while growing up in my mother’s home. For some reason, every week, one particular night seemed to sneak up on us. Suddenly I would hear, “Trash night!” A mad dash would ensue that consisted of rounding up all of the trash recepticals, making the “mass” dump into the large main can, trekking down the drive and then placing the bin on the curb. Once finished, we’d head back into the house only to repeat the same frantic routine the next week. That is, if we accomplished the task. When we didn’t, we missed our chance. The big trash can overflowed and we had to wait a full week to finally get rid of the smelly garbage.

Trash night may have been a hassle. But it was a task that had to be done.

I have to laugh. To this day, there is still a victorious feeling of sorts that comes over me every time I get the trash bins out in time to make the weekly pick up. Call me crazy, but for some reason, making that deadline just seems to produce this odd sense of accomplishment. Each week, I give a little cry that translates as, “Made it!”

It’s like that with a lot of things in life. Sometimes, the things that matter quite a bit, if not the most, simply have to get done. And if we forget, there is a price to pay.

We all strive for great things, but when you think about it, it’s checking off the mundane “to-dos”, on our list, time and time again, that actually get us to our final destination. I know of very few people who woke up one morning to sudden success without incredible amounts of effort that slowly, but surely, got them to that point.

I think that perhaps our culture of low-involvement but instant gratification has helped us to forget that all to true fact.

All that to say, if I approached my daily prayer time and bible reading with the same approach as my regimented trash night, imagine how much I could accomplish spiritually by the end of the week? It would be probably be quite noticeable. It surprises me how we Christians really struggle to carve time out in our schedules to take care of that needed part of our daily lives. I’ve decided that of late, my quiet time needs to get back into my routine. It’s been a bit iffy, and I need to remedy that. Perhaps you too will join me in this venture.

Maybe Trash Night can be that small reminder for the both of us. Who knows.

Just my thoughts.
S.

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