Lincoln Said It Right!

At the end of the devastating Civil War, Lincoln called for a spirit of reconciliation and an end to animosity.

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”                                   Second Inaugural Address (delivered March 4, 1865).

Hopefully, we as Americans can listen to his wise counsel and find ways to stop the violence.   Listening, learning and loving . . .may be good for starters.

 

An Amazing Woman of Faith

My young sons and I stepped into an elevator and realized we were sharing space with Joni Eareckson, whom we had just heard speak.  Although I only had a minute, it was long enough to tell her what an inspiration she was to our family.  She smiled and said she was happy to hear that.  Then the door opened and away she rolled.

It was July 1976, and we were at a Successful Living convention in Snow Bird, Utah. Joni was a featured speaker.  Her biography, Joni, had just been published.  In July of 1967, at the age of 17,  Joni dove into a shallow spot in Chesapeake Bay, and broke her neck. When we met her, she had been in a wheelchair for nine years.  Her beautiful smile and attitude were delightful.  Her smile and attitude are still delightful today.

Joni has a daily 5 minute radio program which airs early each morning,  Her messages are so inspiring as she delivers them in an upbeat tone.  Sometimes she sings a few lines of a sweet song with her lovely voice. Listening to her always brightens my day.

joni quote

Whenever my life faces difficult challenges, thinking of the countless obstacles Joni bravely faces helps me get a better perspective.  She and her very dedicated husband, Ken, were married in 1982, so recently celebrated 35 years together.                                             joni and ken

If being a quadriplegic isn’t difficult enough, Joni was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2010.  It was a very difficult time, and her body limitations complicated her treatment.  But she was very determined to eat right and pray even more fervently.    Joni is an avid Bible scholar and has written many book discussing suffering and even Heaven.

We live in a time when we have access to many inspiring speakers and preachers.  As grateful as I am for their ministries, no person on earth has inspired me more.

At the end of her first book, written only eight years after her diving accident, Joni wrote, “I will be pleased if only one person is drawn to Christ. . .”  (as a result of hearing her testimony).  She said it would make being in a wheelchair worth it.

July 30. 2017 marks 50 years since her life changed when she dove into Chesapeake Bay.  During fifty years in a wheelchair, Joni has shared her inspiring story with people of all ages, all over the world.  She directs ministries to disabled children and their families.   And she is still going strong.

d.m.

When Things are Black and White.

It was a sunny Sunday in June, 1960, when 2 other youth workers and I left the Chicago area to spend a week at a Youth Leadership Training School at Wartburg Lutheran Seminary in Dubuque. Iowa.  Being the youngest and least experienced in youth work, I was eager to learn as much as possible to improve my skills so had a healthy sense of anticipation.   Never did I imagine the education that awaited me!

As we were getting close to the seminary, the thought of going somewhere enjoyable for lunch was uppermost in our minds. On a small hill, overlooking the road, an affordable but home-style oking restaurant caught our eye.  In fact, it had been recommended by others who had previously attended this Leadership Training School.  As we entered, we were greeted warmly by two tables of pastors and youth leaders who had arrived just minutes ahead of us.   The home cooking signs and delicious smelling aromas convinced us we were at the right place to satisfy our hunger pangs.

We seated ourselves near the others we knew and glanced at the menus in the napkin holders.  But the waitress curtly informed us we could not be served as “we do not serve people of color,” so one of us would have to leave. Shocked, we tried to convince the waitress we were all just fine but the manager then ushered us out.  The other two tables of friends immediately got up and also tried to convince the manager to let us stay.  He threatened to call the police so everyone left, at least a dozen hungry customers.  This was a dreadful situation and we all decided to eat at the seminary cafeteria. Neither Ruth or I knew what to say to Fannie.  We suspected this was not the first time she had been treated so unfairly and rudely.  But for me, it was my first experience with outright racial prejudice.  It affected me deeply.

When finally we found the seminary and the cafeteria, it was Fannie who helped get us back to our mood of anticipation.  Her delightful sense of humor had us laughing and we actually enjoyed the cafeteria food and our friends who also congregated there.  She did not want us to be so disturbed that a damper was put on the upcoming week.

During the week, Fannie had a significant role in the training.  For several years she had been serving as parish worker in a poor inner city church and was able to give her perspective on many aspects of reaching young people with the love of God.   Prior to attending this leadership school, I had driven carloads of youth from my church to activities at her church. We had brought food and pizza and helped paint and decorate their youth meeting room.  I knew it was a rough neighborhood and on one trip, my tire was slashed. Fannie had to be very careful never to walk home alone. Fannie’s youth group had previously come to meetings at our church as well. But obviously we had not walked in her footsteps.

Since this time, over 65 years ago, it has been my sincere desire to be aware and actively involved in interracial causes and activities.  I enjoyed teaching youth and serving on the church board of a church in Tampa that is predominantly black. Now, living back on Florida’s East Coast, I love attending a church that is an amazing mix of African American, Hispanic, Asian, and White.  Thank God, some things have improved but there is still much to do.

dm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Case For Being “Pollyanna-ish”

Yes, it is in the dictionary; defined as being unreasonably or illogically optimistic. And, again yes, there are times when excessive optimism can be annoying and even inappropriate.  When someone has suffered a serious loss of a limb or a loved one, a comment that is extremely optimistic may be hurtful.

Books helped me survive a difficult childhood, especially when I was bedridden for many months without access to television.  It was at that time I was given a copy of the classic book by Eleanor H. Porter.  At a time when I felt ”hopeless,” the story of Pollyanna was a great inspiration.  Although I certainly never succeeded in following in her footsteps,  her glad game did motivate me to become optimistic rather than pessimistic.  For those who are not familiar with her character trait, just before Pollyanna’s dad died, he taught her the glad game.  He believed that no matter what happens, there is always something to be glad about.  (Years later, I learned how this notion is similar to those scriptures in the Bible where we are taught to praise God in every situation).

Although some consider a “Pollyanna” attitude to be unrealistic and foolish, many times adopting an attitude to see the good in most situations contributes to a much happier life than one who is determined to focus on the downside of things and assumes a more negative attitude.

One thing I know for sure:  whenever I have intentionally decided to look for the good in every situation, my life has been far more enjoyable than times when I allow myself to become hopelessly pessimistic.   Pollyanna gave me hope for a better life when I was a sick child and that hope has never abandoned me.

dm

 

The Deep, Emotional Pain of Being Misunderstood

It happens to most of us, from time to time.  The older we get, the quicker we recover, usually.   Yet, it kinda takes the wind out of us for a while, especially if we have no way of proving we meant well or did what we hoped was the right thing to do.

The secret of “getting over” such situations is to forgive ourselves for not being a mind reader and forgive our accuser for misunderstanding our good intentions.  No one said that would be easy.  It isn’t easy!  Yet, with the help of our Heavenly Father, it is possible!

If anyone suffered greatly because many misunderstood him, it was Jesus Christ.  There are no Scripture verses that discuss His hurt feelings or His being resentful. He spent much time in prayer and received power from His Father.  We are offered the same option.  It isn’t always a “quick fix,” but give it a little time and it works well.

 

“Just the Facts, Ma’am.”

    In the early days of television, Detective Sgt. Joe Friday relentlessly searched for clues to solve crimes.  This fictional character was played by Jack Webb, who created the radio program and later television series, Dragnet.  Determined to stay focused and not get  side-tracked, Sgt. Friday became known for his words, “Just the Facts, Ma’am.”

   How hard it seems to be, today, for our newspaper and television investigative reporters to present “just the facts”  and avoid spinning real and fake information. The average American has to dig deeply into all reports put out by the news media to be able to discern what is truth and what is not.  It takes time and effort not to “buy a lie.”

d.m.

 

Discerning Whether Or Not To Give Empathy…

 

We should be careful not to choose to give a mini-sermon to a friend or family member when they are longing for a kind word.  People sometimes share incidents that discourage or upset them. While they may be hoping for an understanding response,  sometimes we hit them with a totally unsympathetic response.  They then feel even more discouraged.

It may very well be that the painful incident was brought about because of their own careless words or behavior. A gentle word brings healing. At the right time, a word of advice may be welcomed and even appreciated.

Often, well meaning family members or friends are too quick to point out a fault of yours that they believe caused the incident.  Right or wrong, it doesn’t help a bit but actually causes deeper pain and discouragement.  Recently a very painful situation came back to my mind, not because of the hurt but because a person in my aerobic dance class said a simple but kind thing to me. Here it is, thirty five years later and I still remember it as a healing balm that brought tears to my eyes. It restored my soul.

So, next time we are tempted to react to someone’s report of a disappointment, let our first words be kind and gentle.   We can later help them sort out the situation.  It is always possible they were unfairly accused or lost a promotion through no fault of their own.   And if it was due to their own attitude or negligent behavior, there are ways to help them figure it out for themselves.  Or perhaps they already know but are upset and frustrated with their own mistakes.

If we take a few minutes to meditate on this, chances are an incident will come to  mind.  I doubt the woman in my aerobic dance class remembers her kind words, even though several times in the next few weeks I did tell her how they helped me.

We tend to focus on the negative rather than appreciate the “good advice” we have received. Therefore I have made up my mind to keep my comments encouraging.

dm