HOLIDAY MOVIES

There is usually a good selection of holiday movies at this time of year. My youngest son is my movie partner. He has a knack of picking out winners. This year he decided he wanted to see “Daddy’s home.”  I was reluctant. I have read enough novels, seen enough television shows and gone to enough movies to be sickened at the way single mothers are portrayed by the media.

It seems that the media always portrays single dad’s as knights in shining armor and single mothers as worthless. It is a prejudice that has spread like an epidemic and has infiltrated all levels of society. Nonetheless, knowing my son’s history of rarely picking a bad movie I agreed to go along to this movie.

I am so glad I did. It was an absolute delight. The single mother in the story was adorable. She is one of the prettiest actresses I have seen and she was dressed appropriately for every scene. She was portrayed as a professional and a wonderful mother in addition to being a hottie.

The interplay of two men fighting over a mother who had been single with two kids was well done. Will Ferrell was funny yet vulnerable and Mark Wahlberg was sizzling hot in this movie. It was such a cute movie and one which accurately reflects some of the difficulties of absorbing a new parent into a family.

I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. I think it was appropriate for all age groups and nationalities. I hope you enjoy your holiday season whether or not you go see this movie. Have a Happy New Year!

TONE

I  have been told several times that I have a certain tone of voice which is upsetting to people. I do not yell, nor do I scream at people but I seem to have a tone which strikes fear into some. I find it a very suitable weapon in my arsenal and use it at strategic points in my life.

Recently I realized that one of the companies I worked for had failed to pay me. They should have cut me a check before Christmas. I kept checking my direct deposit and found no deposit from them. I wasn’t angry, more perplexed by the situation. This was not a company I did a lot of work for so it didn’t make a huge difference in my income. However,  I do not allow people to cheat me so I knew I was going to have to address it.

I said a prayer before I made the call to contact payroll. I was put on hold for several minutes before I got to payroll. When the young man answered the call I informed him that I had not received my paycheck. He asked me my name, which I told him and then he put me on hold for several more minutes. He came back and said they had missed my name on the list. He said he couldn’t direct deposit it in my bank. I questioned why that was the case because I had another company which did this and deposited my paycheck before the holiday. (My tone was starting to become a bit firm). He said, “No he meant he was going to drive it to my bank and deposit it in my account.” I don’t use a local bank for my financial dealings so that wasn’t possible. (My tone was becoming more ominous). He said he would cut me a paper check and mail it to my address. I confirmed my address with him, expressed my gratitude and hung up.

Then I got to thinking about the situation. First off I was thanking God that I had not cut ties with my primary company when deciding to sign on with this secondary company. I intended to quit at first but I just couldn’t do it because I knew it would put the company under too much stress and I also didn’t want to leave my patients. What I did do was use my supposed two weeks resignation as kind of a warning; stating the things that I had always stated but making sure they took me serious this time.

As I continued to reflect on this situation I decided a game plan for follow up on this issue. I would keep it between me and the payroll person I talked to if the check was in my mailbox in a short amount of time. I am very understanding of people making mistakes. I have made quite a few in my lifetime.

If the check did not arrive by the close of week I would take other measures. When the scheduler asked me to do another admission I would merely text her back saying. “I have not received my paycheck that was to be posted on Christmas day. I will be unavailable to do any more admission assessments for you until I see that money in my checking account. I certainly hope you understand my position.”

There is a way to do business where Mercy is in the forefront but Justice is a supporting pillar. There is a tone you can use in your voice and also in written correspondence which holds respect for the person which you are addressing but in  no way gives them any indication that you are a door mat. I will be nobody’s door mat. Jesus didn’t give His life for me to be trampled by deceit.

THE REGRET OF CHRISTMAS

I always have a tinge of regret when Christmas skips out the door for another year. I enjoy the season so very much. The decorating is such fun and I just bought the most perfect tree this year.  A dear friend of mine talked me into making Christmas cookies again and then was kind enough to come over and assist with the baking and decorating of these treats. I am overjoyed that two out of three children got to spend some of the holiday with me. I do believe that my gifts were appreciated and I know I loved the gifts I received. All in all it was a great Christmas. Just one problem. It ended.

I usually leave the decorations up for a bit but I couldn’t do so this year because my son is only home this week. I needed him to help me take some of them down and then help me put all of the containers up in the attic. We got most of it done last night. I wanted to cry. My home no longer looks like a winter wonderland, it looks like a barren desert.

Not only did I have to clean up Christmas early but I also heard that Somalia banned Christmas celebrations.  The reason why they did so was because most of the country was Muslim. At least that is what the first news report said. I could not believe it! How dare they ban Christmas!

This morning as I was preparing to write about this issue I did a bit more research and learned that the ban had already been reversed. Whew! They didn’t have a problem with Christmas, the report said, they just didn’t want any violence to be visited upon the Christians. At least that is what the latest news report said. Kind of makes me think that the Somalian government had every intention of being a Grinch until they got world pressure and then they decided to claim that their heart grew and really all they wanted to do in the first place was protect Christians. (Yeah, sure)

I am not a judge of motivation. Only God can judge that but I am glad that Somalia decided to reverse their decision. To be a Christian and a minority in a country is hard enough without having your special holiday outlawed.

I wish Christmas was every day and, in effect, for a Christian it can be every day, because we have the assurance of God’s love through Christ residing in our hearts. I feel sorry for the Muslims. They have their celebrations but there is no way they can have the comfort of the Holy Spirit if they do not have Christ in their hearts.

A STORY…

As an author I am always interested in meeting other authors. I find them to be quite an interesting and amusing collection of people. Most of them are quite arrogant if they have any story published. It is quite something to be published so maybe they have a bit of a reason for the arrogance.

In addition to being an author, I am also a single mother, so on occasion I look at dating sites. Recently I found an author on a dating site. He asked me what I had written. I said it was still being worked on. He said he had several books published already and they were doing quite well. He provided a link to his website and I took a look at some of his writing. The first thing I noticed was a plethora of repeating stems which is a no no in writing. The second thing I noticed is that there was not one cohesive thought process in all of his writing. I wouldn’t have read any of his books if he had paid me to read them, they were a confusing mess of words.

When he asked me why I hadn’t finished my book yet I told him I had to make a living while working on my dream. He replied “Writer’s write.”  That made me so angry I stopped procrastinating with my novel  and started writing almost every day. Then I decided that he was not worth corresponding with anymore and put him in the trash bin of memories in my mind.

This evening I was out with my son for dinner and a movie after we went to church. I noticed that one of the waiters looked familiar. I tried placing him. I struggled for a few moments, then I realized he was the man who said he was making his living as an author. It was obviously not enough of a living to work full time as a writer but he had never indicated that he waited tables. I tried to make sure I didn’t make any eye contact with him, I didn’t want to blow his cover. But I was amused because he was clearly not as successful as he had presented himself to be in his profile. He had also said he was in good shape and I think he may have a different definition of good shape than most people have. I don’t consider obesity to be the same as being in good shape.

He was quite the con job but I thought it was amusing. I guess some writer’s write and some writers “wait” to write. I don’t think he did either. He was spinning a story but any good story is told with a thread of truth and his story was full of lies. Glad I didn’t correspond any further because I don’t have the time to waste on someone who is attempting to make  a living selling lies.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I want to wish all of you the most Merry of Christmases ever!

This is a story which I have wanted to tell for a bit of time and for some reason the time seems right during this Christmas season.

As I was going through my Christmas decorations I noticed a candle holder and some other Christmas decor that I had no intention of using anymore.

I packed them up in a box, intending to use the box for something other than a donation after I had given the items away.

I loaded the box in my car and drove around with it in my backseat for a couple of days.

Then one day I had a few spare moments to spend and I drove the donation to the Goodwill store.

I parked under the awning and took my briefcase out of the car, hoping to donate the items so I would not see them anymore.

I was intent upon putting the box back in my seat and did so without missing a beat.

What I did not notice was that although the box was in my car, my briefcase did not return to my seat.

I drove off fully unaware that my briefcase was still under the awning out there.

I noticed after a meeting at work that my ipad and briefcase were no longer in my car.

I rushed back to Goodwill thinking that they had surely put it aside. They could not find it but took down my contact information and said they would call if they found it.

I did not receive a call. I called a few friends and asked them to pray.

I felt so stupid for a moment then realized that those people who worked at Goodwill may have needed what was in the briefcase more than I did. I rectified my mind to having made an unintended donation.

I tried to be very nice when I went back a second time. It wasn’t their fault that I had left it there, it was totally my fault, no need to be ugly.

I went to Walmart and bought another briefcase which I liked much more than my former one and called my friend telling him to shut the ipad down completely; since he was the one who had blessed me with it to begin with.

After this was all done I went to bed and in the morning I woke up with the greatest sense of peace.

I decided to go back one more time to the Goodwill store on the off chance that someone had found it.

The handsome African American man who had denied ever seeing it the day before broke out into a wide smile when he saw me. “We found it,” he said. “We have it in the office.”

I was overjoyed but not only because I had my briefcase and ipad back but because of the goodness of the people at the Goodwill store. I doubt that they make much money at all but the people at that store had something that money can not buy. They had honesty and good character.

When the Angels said “Peace on Earth and Good will to Men,” I believe they may have had these wonderful folks in mind.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

 

THE GIFT OF BEING POOR

I have read the news reports on Ethan Couch. He is a teenager who killed four people while driving drunk. He is also called the “Affluenza” teen. He is now on the run even though he didn’t get any jail time for a mass murder. He got probation and then failed to follow the guidelines of his probation. Apparently we were supposed to feel sorry for him because he was never given the gift of accountability by his parents. They bought him everything he wanted but failed to teach him to be responsible. 

There were countless times when my children didn’t get the gifts that they wanted. As a single mother I didn’t get much child support and although I worked a full time job and a part time job I had a hard time making ends meet when they were young. They never went without food or clothing, nor did they go without a roof over their head but if they wanted something special they had to work for it.

I remember when I moved into my new house my boys would complain that they had to do work for me if they wanted any money. They said that their friends didn’t have to do that. Their friends just had money thrown at them by their parents. I looked at them and replied, “It is going to be hard for your friends to realize that money doesn’t grow on trees when they grow up. Now please go mow the yard and when you are done I will pay you the amount we agreed on.”

As I look at Ethan Couch and his mother, who is now suspected of helping him avoid consequences of his behavior, I pity him. His parents allowed him to make poor choices and rewarded those poor choices. I remember when my daughter told me she was contemplating doing some LSD. I looked at her and replied, “If you do drugs, then drug rehab is on your dime, not mine. I have never done drugs and I have never given you the indication that doing so would be a worthwhile endeavor. So if you decide to do that, then you have to spend your own money getting off of them. I don’t have enough money to finance stupidity.” I do not think she ever did LSD.

Another  benefit of being poor is that you can not make stupid choices. Stupid choices cost a lot of money. I struggled to show my children that working hard and keeping a clear mind would benefit them. Having ADHD gives me enough problems with thinking, I sure as heck don’t want to mess my mind up with  alcohol or drugs.

As Ethan Couch is on the run from the law I am so thankful that my children have learned responsibility. I have worked hard and now they are working hard. I never took one penny from the government to help raise my children. It is not someone else’s responsibility to pay for my children, it is mine. It would have been nice if I had gotten the correct amount of child support from their Dad. I wish he would have been a more responsible parent but I am thankful that he was very involved in their lives and I think he loves them. If I had gotten the correct amount of child support my children my have not learned to be responsible and accountable. They are all in college and doing very well in their studies. They are also all working part time and so far, to my knowledge, have not made significant poor choices but if they do make a poor choice it is their responsibility, not mine, to pay the consequences for that choice.

THOUGHTS WHICH ARE SPOKEN

I come from a family where there is one person who is always speaking her mind. This person is my mother. I do love her dearly but sometimes I wish she wouldn’t tell me everything she is thinking. This is because many of her thoughts are negative and offensive. As I reflected on some of the past family get togethers I have been involved in, I have realized that this trait has been passed down through the blood line.

I many times think very sarcastic and abrasive thoughts regarding different situations but I rarely speak my mind when these thoughts go skipping through my brain. I essentially have a filter which will stop the thought from transforming into a spoken word. Sometimes I wish I would have the nerve to speak up and put people in their place but as I study the Bible I realize my filter may be a gift from God.

In Ephesians 4:29 the Word of God says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

It is important at this time of year, especially, to choose words which build up others and do not tear them down. The greatest gift you may give someone this Christmas is an encouraging word, a helpful suggestion or a heartfelt compliment. Well spoken words may last a lifetime where as gifts usually lose their luster in due time.

You may be thinking that I have no idea what you have to endure at a family function. You are right. I do not know the dynamics of your family. However, Jesus is distinctly aware of your situation and He is the one who did not speak a word when faced with crucifixion. Kind of makes that irritating relative look a bit more palatable doesn’t it?

PREJUDICE

I am a bit worn out with the racial difficulties we are experiencing in this country. I do think black lives matter. It isn’t that but when you do something wrong and then run away from a cop or pull a knife out on a cop, I think they do have a right to take action. Prejudice is a very subtle evil but it has many facets.

I would like to point out the fact that there are some times when blacks can be prejudiced against whites also. My son who is going to college in Louisiana has almost been mugged twice already. I believe both times were at the hands of a black man. The one time he was merely shopping for groceries when a black man asked him for money. He honestly replied “I don’t have any. I am a poor college student.” The black man kept harassing him for money, stating that he had spent twelve years in prison. My son kept stating that he had none, which is the God’s honest truth. The man followed him out to his car and my son had to show him that he had a rod in his car which he would use to defend himself if necessary before the guy left him alone.

I raised my children to be well groomed and to take care of their bodies. They all look like they came from money but the reality is that we were often times very poor. I taught them to present themselves with class. I believe it is this reason why this black man assumed my son had money. I am glad that I also taught my children to use common sense and that my son did not use the knife he has on him to attack this poor black man. He used self control which I think could solve a lot of the racial problems in this country.

I have many black friends and coworkers and they don’t run around trying to hit people up for money and the reason why is because they are hard working, educated people who make their own money. So if you are black I support you in your cause to say that your lives matter but they matter no more than white lives do. Just because we are white does not in any way cause us to be responsible for your well being. You need to learn how to get an education and work hard like we do.

My son had to get good grades to get into college and he saw plenty of minorities getting into college without good grades because of affirmative action. The idea that the world owes you a free ride because of the color of your skin only does you a disservice because you don’t realize that it is hard work that gets you ahead.

CHRISTMAS KITTIES

Christmas kitties

Last Christmas was a whirlwind of activity. I was expecting all of my children to be home for Christmas and I wanted the house looking like a winter wonderland. I bought so many new decorations and considered them an investment for many years. I worked myself into exhaustion putting them all up and getting everything prepared. One night the Holy Spirit told me that “Christmas was not supposed to be about decorations but about people.” That didn’t stop me from decorating though. I just had to get a few more things and then I would be done. I was hoping that I could start my Christmas cooking during the week before Christmas.

Then something unexpected happened one of my sons came home earlier than expected. The first thing he asked was “Where is the food, Mom?” I have always had plenty of home made goodies sprinkled throughout the house during Christmas and I just hadn’t gotten to it. If I had listened to the Holy Spirit I would have not decorated but I would have been baking instead. My children have always loved the food I have cooked them throughout the years.

Just a few days ago I saw my two cuddle kitties laying on a Christmas blanket on my living room couch. They were so cute that I took a picture of them. While I was taking it I realized how symbolic the picture was. The two cats were relaxing which is what I seldom do during Christmas time but which I should learn how to do more. A Christmas tree was in the background of the picture to the upper left but front and center was a cross. It is always so good to keep in mind that the reason why Jesus was born was to bestow on us the opportunity to have eternal life if we accept the gift of His life. Christmas really doesn’t have anything to do with decorations.

RECEIVING COMFORT

My life has not been easy but with each difficult time I have encountered, God has been gracious enough to surround me with good Christian friends. Friends who listen and sometimes give sage advice. Friends who allow me to cry but always try to make sure the crying turns into a smile. I am very thankful for the friends I have in my life and I consider each one of you that is reading this blog to be a friend of mine. However, when a friend is a comfort to me, I rarely can pass that comfort to someone else who has trials and difficulties.

Recently I realized that the comfort of my friends has been rewarding but the comfort of God’s Word supersedes any experience I have encountered. I have shared with my audience about a time I was back home with my family of origin when I felt as if I was an outcast. Recently I arranged another reunion with my family and I did not feel so awful. I think families are sometimes the hardest bunch of people to figure out but I still love my family.

I was so distraught after that one family gathering that I turned to God’s Word and turned right to Psalms 45:10: “Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house.” That was such a comfort to me in that very moment. I just love God because every time the world tells me I am unlovable He opens wide His arms of grace and mercy and essentially gives me the biggest bear hug ever.

Well I have kept that verse hidden in my heart and I have cherished it. This past Friday night I went to a Messianic service at my church to learn about Hanukkah. I am very interested in the history of Christianity and seek to learn more about Judaism in order to understand my Saviour in a deeper way.

After the service they serve delightful refreshments and I noticed a young lady while I was getting coffee. She had a beauty to her that was from her heart and she reminded me of a former friend of mine who had been a mentor to me. I didn’t say anything to her but I did notice her. I started talking with some other ladies and then followed a new friend into the bookstore because she wanted to look at a book that our Pastor had penned. We were both reading that book when God gave me a second chance to talk to the pretty lady I had noticed earlier. Except she was crying in the bookstore. I looked at her and realized that she was crying tears of joy because one of the pastors had decided to gift her a lot of books from the bookstore. It was such a delight to see that my church would do that for a young lady. Just love that!

I started talking to her and she was so wonderful that she opened up to both me and my new friend immediately. She said she had come from Sri Lanka and had been a muslim. She had recently accepted Christ as her Saviour and was hearing from God on a regular basis. This dear woman just glowed! She was so happy to be a Christian. It was such a wonderful occasion for God to allow me to meet her. We talked some about her previous life when she was a muslim and she said that she had told her family recently that she had given her life to Christ and that they had disowned her. We talked some more and then God brought the verse from Psalms 45:10 to my mind. I felt as if He wanted me to share this with her. I showed it to her in the new Bible that the Church had given her and I do believe the verse ministered to her. She said she would pray over that verse in the evening when she went home.

God’s Word has such power and is so magnificent. The Bible is Holy and Righteous in intent and purpose and the fact that it could dry my tears and comfort a new friend of mine with the same verse is just so wonderful. I want to spend more time reading and studying the scripture because I think it is important that my heart is full to the brim with verses that I cherish not only for my comfort but for the comfort of others.