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Call the question, will ya?

January 29th, 2017 by stephanie

When I first moved to Nashville, in an attempt to meet more people and at the encouragement of my grandmother, I joined a club. Those people were a wonderful group who not only became friends, in time they became like family. We shared many happy and amazing memories together, and there were moments where we had the privilege of experiencing and witnessing some very historic events.

But to my point. I ended up on the board of this illustrious group and I must admit, many times their talents and abilities left me feeling quite inadequate. Not only could they debate, quite well, they knew Robert’s Rules of Order. Parliamentary Procedure was something I had heard of often in my life, but as to what it truly was, or how to follow it in a meeting? I had no clue!

At some point, during any of our meetings, there would always be a moment when someone would “Call the question.” For years, that term alluded me. We are sitting here discussing a decision that needs to be made and people are arguing both sides. What on earth is the question? I would think to myself. My brain just couldn’t seem to wrap around the meaning. Those were my thoughts. Until lately.

The power of that simple “rule” hit me recently. Isn’t it funny how years later, dots just seem to connect and things that once weren’t clear suddenly make sense? Yeah, that happened.

So, Calling the Question? It’s a moment in discussion that is truly a remarkable blessing given to civilized nations.

Basically: when discussing a topic, at some point, debate needs to end. You need to agree to end the debate and move toward the vote. You vote to end the discussion. Then, after the vote, that is when you ask the question: “Will we or won’t we do, or agree to, this or that?”

In regards to the topic at hand, you are asking which of the two options on the table are best. Unfortunately, when these rules aren’t followed, one person in the room usually ends up pushing their opinion and demanding their way. Or, pouting when they don’t get it.

These days, we could use a bit of decorum, or at least a return to structure, in our conversations or dialogues. It seems we have forgotten how to share our point of view in a pleasant or positive way. Protocol or discernment seems to be a way of the past. But more importantly, rather than asking questions, people just state their opinions. No one “asks” the other person to explain. Then, allows them the time and dignity to do so.

What has truly been lost is looking at an entire situation at hand, weighing the facts on both sides, having healthy debate, then, deciding what is the best decision…for the good of the order. “Should we go with Option A or is Option B best at this point in time?”

I’m reminded of situations in my life where I wish I would have asked for more facts before rushing to judgment, or where I wish the person angrily sitting across from me had acquired some truthful information before making their attack on me.

You may know what I’m talking about. You may even be in the middle of a situation at this time that drives this lesson home or at least brings it to mind.

All Ears!

With that, let’s commit this week to:

  • Not jumping the gun before truly looking at the facts,
  • Not pushing our viewpoint on someone before we ask for the other side,
  • And not blocking out or ignoring the opposing party when it’s their turn to talk.
  • Then, once all of the facts are on the table, and all sides have thoroughly been heard…

—let’s call the question.

The best answer, at that point, might actually surprise us.

—Just my thoughts.

S.

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Until the Cows Come Home

January 15th, 2017 by stephanie

Imagine looking up only to see something you lost awhile back, coming up your driveway, arriving on a cart that’s being pulled by cows. Sounds strange, but that’s exactly what happened to the children of Israel after they once lost the Ark of the Covenant in battle.

Long story short, while at war with the Philistines, which was quite often, during one particular battle, the bad guys captured the Ark. During its stay in enemy territory, this coveted piece of temple furniture, began to wreak havoc on its captors.

At one point, they placed it in the temple of their god Dagon. The next morning, when they came in, the huge statue of their god was lying face down on the ground. Seemed odd, but they weren’t too concerned, so they propped it back up. When they returned the next day, they found the stone idol shattered in pieces on the floor.

That’s when they began to worry. Boils, plagues, and a few other uncomfortable issues later, the Philistines realized they’d bit off more than they could chew. They were up against a God who was on a completely different level. Basically, they were out of their league and playing with dynamite.

That’s when they began strategizing a plan to return the now despised trophy. Here’s what they came up with:

  • Place the ark on a cart
  • Hook it up to some cows, then,
  • Point them in the direction of its original home
  • Pray they find the cows find their way there on their own

The result? It worked.

One day, some months later, the Jewish people looked up only to see their beloved ark coming up the drive with the cows “lowing as it went.” Quite a spectacle indeed!

Now of course, this is a very truncated version of the entire story, and you are certainly invited to do some careful reading on your own, but there truly is a point here to be noticed.

Maybe you made a mistake and you lost something in the process. Perhaps an enemy of yours was able to obtain something that was very precious to you. Or, on the flip side, let’s say you won a battle fair and square, but the consequences are now staring you in the face. Regardless of the situation at hand, you’re hurting and something that is rightfully yours is gone—or the victory isn’t working out like you planned.

Is it the end? Perhaps not.

If you feel that thing you lost can’t be restored, or what you won isn’t worth the cost…I hope this story will be an encouragement to you.

Let’s face it, the Israelites were beaten in their battle fair and square. What the Philistines didn’t realize is that they were tampering with God’s people. Not something for the faint of heart to try and do. God’s children are just that—his kids. And God protects his children. And if He gives them something and that He wants them to have, people who try to take it away from them should be careful. Life may not bode so well for the taker.

If you are the person with the loss here, again, may this story shed a new light on your situation and bring you a bit of hope. Battles between humans are one thing, but when a person throws a grenade at you and God steps in between? Buyer beware. Remember the god Dagon and his demise—the boils, the plagues, etc. Don’t be surprised if you find your tormentor one day saying, “Uncle. Here. Take it back. I’ll even send it to you.” Maybe it won’t return on a silver platter, but hey, if it were even to arrive via cows, I don’t know about you, but I’d take it.

Just my thoughts on a cold drizzly Sunday.

– Stephanie

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They Believe in Him Now…

January 8th, 2017 by stephanie

I was listening to a story being told, and found myself drawn in with each passing sentence from the orator. It was a story of a boy who came from a home where the father was absent, and if the mother was not in a psychiatric ward, she was in jail, or with a boyfriend. Apparently, she even left her son at a bus stop one day to be with her boyfriend. Many times he was homeless and had to steal food to survive.

A school counselor began to sense the problem and took a strong interest in him. When he dropped out of junior high, she began praying for his return. Two years later, he walked through the doors again to begin 9th grade.

In time, he found a job mowing the lawn of an elderly couple. As they learned his story, they opened their home to him. When they discovered he had musical talent, they encouraged him to begin entering contests and more—the woman of the house was always present and in the front row with her bible.
What shocked me to learn was this person was country artist Jimmy Wayne, known for the hit song “Do You Believe Me Now”.

Stories such as these can truly put your problems into perspective, and too, encourage each of us that any adversity or problem, can, in time, be overcome.

If you’re struggling today with a situation or circumstances that seem impossible, perhaps this life story will be an encouragement to you.

—S.

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Peel Me a Grape

January 1st, 2017 by stephanie

There’s a jazz song that is titled, “Peel Me a Grape.” How do I know that? Because I sang it when I was with the jazz band…many moons ago.

That being said, I had a dream last night—about grapes.  Well, I had quite a few dreams, actually. My mind doesn’t usually stop much. But the final dream was of a ginormous cluster of purple grapes. They were the size of bowling balls. Each grape, that is.

When I woke, I was reminded of  a story in the bible. The children of Israel had finally reached the promised land, and before they went in and took the land, they sent 12 spies to check it out. One man from each tribe.

While the men secretly scoured the area, they became increasingly dumbfounded by what they found. 10 of them returned with a negative report They carried on and on about the size of the people (there were giants in the land and cities with magnificent walls). Two of them, however, came back with a very different take. They couldn’t believe the size of the produce. To prove their point, they had cut down one cluster of grapes, put it on a pole, and carried it back between the two of them. It was that huge.

Now, I’d certainly love to think my dream was prophetic. That my year will be momentously fruitful…and who knows. It might be. But I am also old enough to know—life happens. And when it does, just buckle up and ride it out. You WILL get to the other side.

That being said, I decided to do some quick research on the subject, and found something interesting about grapes. I was reminded that most grapevines don’t produce fruit until their third season. Basically, saying, that grapevine in your backyard that you have been nurturing can take up to three years before you are able to pluck some grapes. Now, be sure to take into account environmental factors and the care of the plant. But those factors? They are: sunlight, well-drained soil and proper pruning. Selah.

So, what’s my point?

Perhaps you have had some personal grapevine in your “backyard” that you have been working on of late. Take hope…with a bit of time and great care, you’ll see some fruit. Now, probably not like exactly like that species of grapes that came from the land flowing with milk and honey, but then, one never knows. If anything, you’ll certainly see something blossom and that will put a smile on your face.

With that, I’d like to wish you and yours a fruitful and productive 2017. May you drink the fruit of your vine, and may your year be blessed beyond measure.

—S.

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