Freely given, not forcibly taken

The recent frenzy over the Powerball billion+ prize was actually pretty helpful in giving me perspective on just how much money $1,000,000,000 is.

It’s a lot.

money2I’m sure we all saw the math dividing up the mega-prize into “mini” prizes of roughly $4,000,000 – one award for every person living in America.

Wow.

Call me slow, but I never connected it taking THAT many millions to make a billion. I still can’t wrap my head around the trillions in debt hanging over our heads.

Like many of you, I had that moment of “that would be SO great if the powers-that-be at the Powerball factory would even just give each of us, say, $1,000,000 – leaving them 75% of the prize.” You know what I mean, that closed-eye moment feeling like we wouldn’t have to worry so hard about the future.

money3After all, it’s only logical.

Couldn’t the government just step in and take part of it?

No one needs that much. It’s only fair.

Continue reading Freely given, not forcibly taken

Yep, it’s a big bad world out there – but it’s also an amazingly great world in here

A few days ago our niece was scheduled to be in a talent show at the high school. Being three people with two cars (wow, there’s another of those first-world problems, right?) I was driving Ann in to work so I could attend the assembly.

The skies were crisp and clean and piercing. As we headed west, the sun was just warming the top third of the Wellsville mountain range.

It was pretty spectacular (almost as much as was the company).

When I arrived at the school, my sister was watching out for me in the auditorium. We sat right up front in the middle of all the students.

flag2As the lights began to dim, I could see that the room was filled to capacity. Without warning, everyone was on their feet and I was thrilled when everyone in the audience stood, loudly and clearly pledging allegiance to the flag.

No one had to be asked, or begged, or shamed into it.

It was obviously just a part of how they did things; part of who they are.

There was moment when I noticed the principal standing in the doorway – but he’s the only adult I ever saw.

The student association directed the program, gave announcements, invited everyone to the party after the ballgame, and told us all what a RAD time it would be.

I was blown away at the talent. For the next hour we listened to singing, rapping, piano and guitar playing and watched dancing, juggling, glow-in-the-dark yo-yos, and an excerpt from the upcoming school musical.

That would have been enough to keep my attention.

But the performance wasn’t the thing that we all needed to watch closely.

It was the natural behavior of the students themselves.

Continue reading Yep, it’s a big bad world out there – but it’s also an amazingly great world in here

Our anger is unleashing monsters of which we should all be afraid

You know, it would be funny if it weren’t so critically serious.

There have always been people throughout history on the fringes with extreme and radical views. While their beginning intent may be honorable, they somehow lose sight of the actual goal. The allow themselves to get mired down in the anger of the argument and create stalemate instead of headway.

Fortunately, there were usually those who kept their eyes on the big picture. They realized that governing requires building relationships, being open minded, and learning how to pack the most from each position into a solution.

There are still those with their eyes wide open, working hard to maintain a land of liberty and justice for all.

monsterHowever, they are becoming harder and harder to hear as the screams, invectives, and literal inciting of mobs drown out all other sound.

The very people who are so angry at the government gridlock are also those who elect leaders with the directive: DO NOT COMPROMISE.

When a member of a political party does cross the aisle and work in a bipartisan manner, they are branded as “the absolute worst for completely betraying” the standard of no negotiating. Their death knell tolls and no one is willing to be seen associating with this traitor.

All the good that this elected official could do is snuffed out by a slammed and bolted door.

Like I said, it would be funny if it weren’t so true.

Continue reading Our anger is unleashing monsters of which we should all be afraid

Why is it ye are so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

Last week toward the end of our lesson at church this scripture was shared with the class. While the others moved on, I continued to plunge more deeply into these words we have all heard many times.

I don’t know why, but I have always read these words as a rebuke. I could feel the exasperation and frustration in the verses at why, after all this time and all that I have learned, could I still lack faith and be afraid.

But last week, something changed.

Let me paint the backdrop for you, so you can taste a bit of my journey in discovering what His message truly is to me.

For the month of January we have been given the assignment to provide Sacrament Meeting at a memory-care assisted living center here in town.

service3I’ve been trying to play the piano for the meetings each week.

I’ve not been succeeding very well.

Regardless, it is a privilege and a blessing for me to just be there. It is a pretty sacred experience to watch family members or CNA’s tenderly take the bread and water from the trays and place it to the lips of one who has long ago forgotten how to do it themselves.

But they haven’t forgotten what it means.

Continue reading Why is it ye are so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

To really help the mentally ill, it takes two

A great friend asked me a bit ago about ideas on how she can help and support someone who is mentally ill. Her heart breaks for those she loves, and she wants desperately to help, but she just isn’t sure what to do.

I’m glad she asked.

I wish that more people would.

eyes2Certainly it is easier as a society to make sure that all of us crazies don’t have any access to guns, or that we should increase funding for hospital beds, or find ways to ensure medication is taken even when the person is so very tired of the side effects.

We can all possibly agree that these are steps that help those on the outside feel better about the situation. Just like with so many issues we face today, we like generic solutions that let us pat ourselves on the back, and then walk away.

But there is no walking away from mental illness – for either the one who is actually ill, or the ones worn weary from the daily toll of trying to love them.

Continue reading To really help the mentally ill, it takes two