Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Time to Grow Old

Hello friends,

We're getting there. Growing old. Whether we are young or not, it's coming, growing old. I heard from a friend, who is a few years older than I. She has a debilitating disease, and there is nothing I can do about it. She's a good woman, and the progress of her disease troubles me.

I don't think that I've ever considered growing old. I guess I thought that I could, by sheer force of will, prevent the inevitable. Few people of any age like to talk about growing old. It whispers of death. Finality. Mortality. Questions arise. Eternal questions, which should give us comfort, aren't comforting to many people.

How will I feel? Where am I going? Am I safer if I don't think about it? When I'm old, will I be loved? Cherished? Taken care of, if I can't take care of myself? Should I make it hard on the person who cares for me? My husband? My daughters? I think that growing old can be a beautiful thing. It need not be an excuse to mistreat those around us. It can be simply awful for those who love us, if we take and resent, and take our disappointments out on others.

It has taken me awhile to understand that I am never going to be 120 pounds again. Or 130. Or 140. Or even 150. But I have a lovely smile. My skin is pretty smooth. And my hair still glints with gold, and just a touch of silver. I've had a good life.

I'm slower, but then, it makes it easier for my husband to catch me. I don't try very hard to get away. Yes. My feelings have not changed towards my husband. When we were younger, we hardly came up for air. Now, air is a good thing, and so is gentle and slow. I love him, with all the intensity of my youth, and I know without a shadow of a doubt, that he loves me. That, my friends, is everything to me.

Thank you, Father, for a life of passion and truth. Thank you for giving me a warm, strong hand to hold. Thank you for giving me the best life, according to Your will. Thank you for allowing me to grow old with the love of my life.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Time for Truth

Hello friends,

Monday. It's probably the most hated day of the week, unless you are on the first day of your vacation. Perhaps you've had a great week-end. If you have had too much rain, perhaps you had a dry week-end. On Monday, it's now raining again. If you have needed rain, perhaps you've had the sky open up to pour life-giving rain onto your garden, your crops, or your fields. Now, it's Monday, and you may not see a drop of rain for the next week and a half. Like all good things, the week-end has come to an end.

I'm feeling a little Monday today. We had rain last night, finally, after praying for rain all week. We have lifted in prayer all of the people who are devastated by floods in the Midwest. We have also lifted in prayer, the people in the far west, who suffer from wild-fires driven by heat and powerful winds. Even the hint of rain - lightening - can set off fires anew. What is happening to our planet? Why does it now betray us? Why drought? Fire? And flood?

I think we all know the answer, even those of us who hide our faces in the sand. As the saying goes: "There is none so blind, as he who WILL not see." Not can, but WILL. Why are we humans like this? Are we stupid? Are we stubborn? Or are we just plain selfish? Perhaps one or the other, or perhaps all.

You see, we do not have a broad vision. We see what is exactly in front of our eyes, and if we don't like what we see, then we don't change our minds or our hearts. We change our definition. It's still all the same, but we lie about it.

When Hurricane Katrina left levees broken, and the streets of New Orleans became flooded and toxic, it was the most horrible event that I have ever helplessly witnessed. I watched my government flounder and fail. I saw government leaders insist that "I pray for those people every day." Well, isn't that just special. Did you rescue them? Did you drop what you were doing? Act. Decide. Even know what was happening? Did you hide your eyes, while you straightened your shirt collar and combed your hair? No. The whole world was watching while you callously did nothing.

Callousness. According to just about every dictionary, callousness is defined as "emotionally hardened; unfeeling." Now, that doesn't mean you're a racist, since racism involves hatred. Callousness is a word that defines what is NOT going on in your heart, as opposed to what IS going on in your heart.

For instance, someone sees masses of black faces, and one knows that one is not a racist, yet, they feel no obligation to act to save them. Famous excuses are "I'm doing the best I can." Or "I'm being so misunderstood." But what if you can save others, and you don't? That would come under the heading of "callousness." You see, callousness is not an active choice. It is passive. And that is the worst kind of condition of the heart.

Remember recently, the elderly man who was a victim of a hit and run? There he lay, while others gaped and stared, but no one did anything. No one ran into the street and blocked traffic. No one went to the man and gave comfort, a reassuring voice...nothing. God help us.

In the Family Word Finder, the word callous has many definitions: unsympathetic, uncaring, hardhearted, and my two favorites, apathetic and dispassionate. Dispassionate means devoid of emotion or bias. Bias is not necessarily a bad term, because it deals with identifying with another.

"I feel for you, because I could be you."

"I feel for your children, because they could be my children."

Compassion is not sympathy. Compassion is empathy. In your heart, you are the person suffering. And, if you are that person, you can feel their pain. You do something, anything. For instance, our President flew a jet onto an aircraft carrier to announce "Mission Accomplished!" Where were his flying skills, after Katrina? Where was his passion? Where was his compassion? I honestly don't think it exists. That's right, I think my President, whom I voted for twice, is lukewarm.

At the beginning of the Book of Revelation, there are letters written to the seven Churches in Asia, nearly 2,000 years ago. One church was described as lukewarm. According to the Scripture, we are expected to be hot or cold, but lukewarm? Never! Because God says, that if we are lukewarm, he will vomit us out of His mouth.

There is a history behind this statement. The city involved had running water that was carried for miles under a blaring sun. By the time the water reached the tap, it was tepid, warm, and nasty tasting. A drink from the tap often caused a person to vomit the water out of his mouth. Obviously God doesn't like us to be tepid.

The truth is that no one acted in our government, after Katrina, because no one cared about anyone. The only thing cared about were appearances, and when we care about appearances, we've cared, not about others, but about ourselves.

Let's move on to today. Gas prices. Do we really think that nothing can be done? Do you really believe that gas is at the most unheard of price of over $4.00 a gallon, because someone cares? Well, of course the oil companies care. Just ask them. After all, we're all stupid and blind. We can't see the noses in front of our faces.

Do you realize that we are not paying for the oil of today. We are paying for the speculation (theorize, hazard a guess, suppose, imagine, ponder) of what the supply and price of oil will be in the future. In the stock market, this is referred to as "trading in futures." Often used for the wheat crop, or even pork bellies (bacon), trading in futures is guessing what might happen in the future, then betting for or against it. Well, we all know what is taking place in the Midwest, flooding. No corn. No wheat. There go the "futures."

After Hurricane Katrina, I blocked sender most of my email friends. Daily I was barraged with email forwards, which blamed the suffering in New Orleans on those who were suffering. These were the things that were said:

"They're not humble enough." Not humble? When their children were suffering?

"They're not grateful enough." Not grateful? When they were left in the blaring sun for five days?

That was not all, but they are the only two that I can stomach to share.

So, now, here we are, as Americans, facing a new Presidential election. It's hard to know who really cares. People are losing their homes, and they are being blamed for that loss. Jobs are disappearing, and fly-by-night money lenders are springing up like weeds in a cornfield.

Conservatives don't seem to care. My Gosh, Pat Buchanan has just written a book (that is selling quite well, by the way) which denies the Holocaust! What kind of monstrosity is this?! And the Liberals? Well, they smell burning meat, and they're all gathered around for a meal. The Bible says, where the carrion is, there the vultures will gather.

Wow! What a choice! McCain? Obama? Which one cares? Please God, which one is telling the truth? And, come on folks! Simply by serving in the military, no matter how tough your service, does not mean you care today. I'm a veteran. My husband is a veteran. Our children were raised in the military. I knew plenty of active duty military who didn't care. Caring doesn't happen in your head. Change doesn't take place in your habits or in what you say. Change happens in your heart. Only our hearts can change.

So, now, I'd like to hear a little truth. In fact, I'd like to hear a lot of truth. Senator McCain and Senator Obama, I want to know your hearts. I don't want to know what you did. I want to know what you will do. Party politics will pick you apart, down to your bones. The vultures are gathering, and the only thing that matters to me is your heart.

As a family, we are doing well, in a very oppressed region of the country. We thank God for that, but shouldn't every family in our society be well? Shouldn't we all expect to leave a better world for our children? We must! Because the only future we have on this planet is in our children.

So, Senator McCain. Senator Obama. Send hope. Send jobs. Send honor. And, by the grace of God, send compassion and truth.

Father in heaven, in this country shaken by floods, fire, drought and war, please send us a President who has a heart for the poor, and who speaks the truth.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Time to Say Good-bye

Hello friends,

Lately I've been coming across the same advertisement on the web. Basically, the caption goes something like this: "Look up all your old friends. Find out what they are doing today!" And a link is provided. Well, I don't click on unknown links. And it wouldn't matter anyway, since I don't have any "old friends."

I was the new girl in school, all the way through grade school and high school. I was the girl who was bombarded on the first day.

"So, where are you from?"
"Do you have a boy friend?"
"Who's your favorite Movie Star?"
"What are your classes?"

All these questions, and more like them, were abrupt and always served with a grin. Immediately after I answered the third degree, inevitably the person turned their back on me and talked to their next victim, or a real friend. Sound familiar? Yeah. Those who have lived it can still feel the pain.

As a military wife and Mom, we moved. They moved. In two years, your new best friend was your old best friend, who now lived hundreds or even thousands of miles away. After you've changed your address several times, or you've moved in with Mom and Dad, and you've lost touch, all you have left, if you are truly blessed is a warm memory.

I did make one special friend. We lived across from one another for nearly 8 years. We went through the trials and tribulations of military life, and we remained friends. She lives far away from me, but we still keep in touch.

I guess what I want to express, in this blog-post, is that good-bye is not necessarily a bad thing. Good-bye can be a blessing. A time to rethink your life, to discover who you really are and what you really need. Good-bye can be a time to begin again.

Just remember, when you move, leave, or say good-bye, you may leave everyone but yourself behind. So if you are the problem (and it took me years to learn this about myself), well then you'll be taking your problem with you.

My friends, I hope that you will not give up on yourself or your life. You are worth living for. God loves you, and He wants a relationship with you. You may think that you are alone with your thoughts, but you are not. You are very definitely not alone. Someone is listening, and He is listening with all of His heart.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

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