People – Don’t stereotype them.

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I was talking to a dear lady the other day, that I know through our participation in the same weekly activity. She is a very kind, generous woman and I like her a lot!

Somehow we ended up discussing people and politics and she told me about a book she read by a sociologist who went to a southern state to interview the people there concerning political matters.

Two things struck me: apparently, the people the sociologist/author interviewed were “nice, good-living people,” but they “didn’t want the government telling them what to do.” When I was told this, my response was, “Really? You mean some people DO want the government telling them what to do?” I didn’t know that was a thing – wanting the government to tell you what to do. I don’t, besides basic essential things such as don’t murder, steal, etc.

The second thing that struck me was that this lovely woman whom I was talking with assumed that I was not “Right” or “Right-leaning.” It was clear from her conversation that she thought I was of the same Left political persuasion that she is. I am not. But she thinks highly of me, and I guess since we have conversed a fair bit and I seem nice and intelligent enough, she assumed I was of her political leaning.

Which brings me to my main point: there is an awful lot of prejudice regarding the political persuasions of people. I was brought up to believe, and still do, that prejudice is wrong. But it seems that people have an idea that all Conservatives are_______________ or all Liberals  are_________________.

I didn’t disclose to this lady that I wasn’t of the Left persuasion – I wasn’t sure whether or not I should. I didn’t/don’t want to be defined by politics, because frankly, I am not committed to a political party, I am committed to God and His Word.

But I think I might continue the conversation and “come out of the closet,” so to speak, just to let her know that one can’t stereotype people by their political views.

I urge everyone to get to know people of different backgrounds, ethnic groups, religious groups, political groups.  We are all people, we all have stories, and there are a lot of things that, as people, we have in common. And because we are all human, we are all worthy of basic respect.

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The High Road

Boy surprising girl with a present

A short while ago I was dealing with my son after he had an altercation with his sister that made him really angry. I reminded him of the instruction in the Bible to “love your enemies, and do good to those who hate you…” and told him that his sister wasn’t his enemy, so how much more should he love her and do good to her when he is angry at her.

He obviously took this to heart, because some days later they had another altercation and he was really upset with her. Then he heard her lamenting, because she had been mistaken about the cost of something. This son came to me and said, “I want to give ____________ some money, because of what you told me how I should handle being  upset with her. I want to do something to bless her.” So he offered her his money. His sister appreciated it, but declined to take his money. His offer, this attempt at blessing her, definitely softened both their hearts toward each other.

Sometimes our children actually hear what we say.

Sometimes our children are examples to us.

My son’s gesture, his following of God’s ways (to bless) brought life to them both. It bore good fruit. I did explain to my son afterwards that even if his sister wouldn’t have responded well, he would have had life; he would have had good fruit in his own heart.

I rarely get angry with anyone I know. But if I ever do, I want to take the high road. I hope I will seek to bless, and to extend love. God’s ways bring life. For real.

Attitude Shift

Side by side photos: bad attitude vs good attitude

To do lists – sometimes I write them, other times I have them in my head. Recently, I was mentally going over all that I had to do: “I have to _________, and then __________, and then _________.”

I was feeling just slightly negative – not that I particularly disliked all the things I had to do, but these things just made me busier than I wanted to be – they interfered with my doing other things that I would have preferred to do.

And then I had an attitude shift, simply by changing one word! Instead of “I have to…” I thought, “I get to…” All of a sudden, instead of feeling burdened by my to do list, I felt joy.

Changing that one word, for example in “I have to go grocery shopping” to “I get to go grocery shopping,” brings on an attitude shift that is beneficial to me and others around me. The change is from a duty to a privilege. I get to go to a store and select food to bring home for my family’s nourishment.

I get to clean the bathroom, eliminating germs for my family’s well-being (my children get to do this as well!).

When I make a discovery such as this concept, I share it with my children. My son was not happy when I told him we were going to work on French. “You get to do French!” I told him enthusiastically. “You have a mom who cares about your education and your future, and she is spending time with you so that you can thrive! You get to do French!” I’m not quite sure that he has caught it yet, but I get to keep teaching him to have a good attitude.

Whether from “having to do laundry” to “getting to do laundry”, or from “having to pick up this child from a lesson” to “getting to pick up this child from a lesson,” the reason we have to get to do things is because we have things (clothes, homes, people) in our lives. And that is a blessing!

Dare to be Different

My father (may his memory be a blessing) wanted us, his children, to think. He valued discussions. When he explained to us children, his and my mom’s beliefs of atheism and evolution, he concluded with, “But when you grow up, you decide for yourselves.”

As I grew up, I did think. I considered things, I thought, I explored, and I came to a different conclusion than my father: faith in God. And not just that, but a belief in the Messiah Yeshua. It turns out my father didn’t like that conclusion at all. Furthermore, he was afraid that my children, who were naturally brought up with my husband’s and my beliefs, would blindly follow in our faith, so he urged them to read widely from a variety of views, and to think!

Thinking is a value that both my husband and I share. We do not blindly follow a crowd, even if that crowd is “our” crowd – our faith crowd, our ethnic crowd, our homeschooling crowd, our…

And that can be unpleasant, because it is much more comfortable to fit in really smoothly. But we can’t, for the life of us, fake it. We do not buy wholesale whatever someone says. We give it thought, and if we disagree, we disagree. In some cases, we can just keep our opinions to ourselves, and that is the appropriate thing to do. In other cases, it might mean speaking up.

Having a different opinion, however, doesn’t mean we judge, hate, or despise people holding different views. I am ready to assume that most people have good motives and intentions. I am ready to love them regardless of beliefs or views that are different from mine. But in being true to what I believe, and more accurately in Whom I believe, I will dare to be different, even if I am shunned, or despised for it.

Things Are Often Not What They Seem

20170213_074321.jpgRecently, when I came home from doing errands, I was greeted by the concern of a family member, who told me they had seen worms inside the lid of  a container of leftover fried rice we had eaten for lunch, as well as on the lid from the kidney bean can I had used in the fried rice.

I was appalled. I knew I should look at the “evidence,” but I didn’t even want to face it. So disgusting!

I finally got up the courage to go and face this repulsive situation. I took one look and was filled with relief! The “worms” were nothing more than leftovers of the basmati rice that I had made two days before. When I emptied the container of rice, I didn’t wash it out before putting the fried rice leftovers in it, as the fried rice was made out of that same rice. The “worms” on the can lid were grains of the rice that were on the end of my cooking spoon as I scooped out the kidney beans from the can.

So many negative emotions were unnecessarily felt due to this situation not being what it appeared to be. Happily the facts were examined, and great was the relief all round to find out that it was not what it had seemed.

Life is like that. Things are not always, in fact, things are often not what they seem. Someone might feel slighted when they see their friends all huddled together talking, and then stop talking when they appear, when they are actually planning a surprise for that friend.

I have often been mistaken regarding something involving my children when I don’t know all the facts. Once all the facts are explained to me, I see my assumptions have been based on what little I saw or heard and that these assumptions were wrong.

This is aggravated when we come to a situation with our own prejudices. I see this in politics all the time. Recently, I saw an outcry on Facebook about something a certain politician apparently said. It so happened that I ended up watching this very speech of the aforementioned politician and was surprised to find out how much this comment had been taken out of context and blown up out of proportion, and that all the good things he said in the speech that didn’t fit the narrative of those who hate him, weren’t mentioned.

I knew this already, but this was another reminder. I will have to hold off believing and making a judgement on what I read or hear, whether it is positive or negative, regarding someone I support or oppose in politics, unless I have ample first-hand evidence, such as seeing a whole speech and not just a clip or quote or knowing more facts). Things are not always what they appear, and we would do well to humbly acknowledge, that in spite of all the “information” out there (that is not necessarily accurate), we are not experts, or even very knowledgeable about all these things that we tend to think we are.

But politics aside, in our dealings with people (or with leftovers!) it is good to remember, that things are often not what they seem. Further investigation is often the best course of action, and of course, giving others the benefit of the doubt is always wise.

Little by little

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I won’t go into all the reasons/excuses, but both our front and back yards have been quite neglected. While at the beginning of June, I weeded the earth in preparation for the pretty flowers that I planted , I haven’t kept up with the weeding, and the result is what you see above. Then there are trees and bushes that have not been pruned in longer than I care to admit, making our yard look not unlike a forest.

Kind of overwhelming to think of taming all that! I mean, who has that kind of time or energy?

Happily I discovered something: If I do a little bit of weeding or pruning every day, it makes a difference! I have begun weeding or pruning around ten or fifteen minutes most days, and it is incredible what a difference it is has made in my flower beds, as well as the other areas which are gradually being tamed.

It actually makes me excited to go out there daily, because I am seeing results from each short session, and I am sorry if, for some reason, I don’t get to do yard work on a given day.

It also makes me look at my life as I consider what other big tasks, projects, or life changes I can make by consistent, small amounts of time or effort.

Little by little. Just ten minutes turned the above weedy patch of earth into this:

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What big changes can I, you, or we make in our lives; or in the lives of our families, communities, or in the world – simply little by little?

The Emperor Has No Clothes…

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…but if he self-identifies as one who is wearing clothes, then he is. Who am I, or anyone else, to say that he is not wearing clothes?

Because, dear reader, he is actually, factually not wearing clothes. They are not there. That is reality. And I stand with that little boy who did not give in to peer pressure, nor to political correctness, and shouted out the plain truth: the emperor was not wearing clothes. He was deceived.

When we self-identify with something that is not reality, it is nonsense. None sense. And we hurt ourselves. When we support others’ delusions we are not helping them. That is, we are helping them hurt themselves.

A person suffering with anorexia self-identifies as an overweight person, and starves him/herself. If we just leave this person in their delusion, supporting their identity as an overweight person, and don’t step in to try to get them help, we do them a great wrong.

When I was a child, from the age of nine to eleven years old, my best friend was a girl newly arrived from Japan. I wanted to be Japanese. I thought, “When I grow up, I will dye my hair black, get contacts to make my eyes dark brown, become fluent in Japanese, and I will be Japanese. If it was 2016, I would have “self-identified” as Japanese. And people would be told to support me in this. But the truth is, I was and am not Japanese. I am Jewish. And when I got over my wannabe-Japanese phase, and embraced who I am, that was the healthy, sane thing to do. I am fulfilled in being who I actually am – a Jewish woman.

Supporting humans in their wannabe delusions, whether they are people wanting to be cats, thin people thinking they are fat, or girls wanting to be boys, is not helpful.

Living in reality and helping others to do so is the kindest, most loving thing we can do.

When the emperor is walking around in his underwear believing he has clothes on, rather than perpetuating his delusion, those around him should kindly, gently, lovingly help him to see that he is unclothed, and get him something to wear.