Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Made in America

Somewhere along the way it seems we may have forgotten who we are, where we came from.  There was a time long ago when the Constitution was honored as it was written and was not challenged with rhetoric and debate or attempts to pull it down by those who disagreed with its laws and rights.

We are made in America by the nameless faces of soldiers - American men and women - whose blood poured out on the soil in foreign countries, shedding their blood so we could walk free.

We are made in America by refusing to bow to the enemy and standing strong in the midst of conflict and war.  With so much hostility toward the power of prayer to govern a nation, all those years ago President Abraham Lincoln called to prayer a nation in the midst of war - declaring a day of prayer and fasting and committing that day unto the Lord to save our land from a raging battle on the war-torn soil that has made America great.

We are made in America - because all those years ago, an entrepreneur brought his or her vision to the American people and gave us jobs, pure and simple, creating jobs and honorable wages so a man or woman could support his family and live the American dream that sometimes has been lost in the changing tide of debate--the American dream of a family that did not have to fear violence and bloodshed taking one of them too soon; the American dream of finally being able to have what so many of us long for - a place to call home.  To own a home without fear of foreclosure and a bank notice taking it all away.

All those years ago we are made in America by daring to dream that the impossible really wasn't so impossible, that with enough faith, prayer, hard work and sweat, anything was possible if only we worked hard enough and believed long enough.

My mother and father were symbols of "made in America"; during their lifetime, they raised four children without health insurance, paid off medical bills as they arose, and throughout their lifetime they managed to have three homes debt-free and almost 90 acres of land.  They did that not only by faith but by hard work and all on a carpenter's salary and that same carpenter who tilled and farm the land until midnight after a hard day's work.

We are made in America, standing strong and it is times like this that we need to remember that what divides us will destroy us if we allow it.  Instead we need to shore up our spiritual muscles and fight for the land of the free and the home of the brave.

America, made in America.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The River and One Bottle of Milk

I once heard two fascinating stories, whether fable or truth, I do not know, but both are stories that never leave me, even all these years later.

We all know that life is fragile and often in my world I talk to people who never know what their purpose is or how to handle life storms when they find themselves inside a particular situation so perhaps these stories will linger with you as they did with me.  I never knew the author - they were just stories passed along the way.

The River

A young man was standing by a river, at the top of it, when he saw an old man take his clothes off and plunge headlong into the river and its rushing currents.  The young man, at once was certain that the old man would surely die so he raced down the hill alongside the river banks with unfailing certainty in his heart that he would find the old man dead at the bottom of the river.  The young man was determined to pull the old man from the river and give him a proper burial.

When the young man arrived at the bottom of the river, imagine his surprise when the old man emerged from the water unharmed.  The young man said, "You jumped into the river currents and surely you should have died, the river is so harsh.  Why didn't you die?"

The old man responded, "If you swim against the river currents, you will allow the river to overtake you and you will surely die.  If you swim with the currents and allow it to take you where you need to go instead of fighting against it, then you will live and go where you are supposed to be and reach your destination."  Then he bowed his head and said, "As in river, so in life."

What are you fighting against in the river of your life?  Are you swimming against the currents fiercely hoping to get where you need to go or are you swimming with the river and allowing it to take you on the journey that is totally yours - and lead you into the place of your purpose and your destiny?  Are you listening to what the river is trying to tell you?

Sometimes a bottle of milk is so much more than it seems.  A lifetime ago, a woman always took time for a young man who knocked on her door selling magazine subscriptions, door-to-door, trying to make a living. She would buy a subscription but every time he knocked on the door, she invited him inside and gave the young man a bottle of milk, insisting that he drink it before he went on his way.

Many years later, that woman, now old, without insurance, became deathly ill, with no means or money with which to pay her bill.  A doctor came in to oversee her care and assured her she should not worry about her hospital bill.  She mended and when it was time to leave the hospital she inquired about what to do regarding her bill.  The woman in charge of accounts said, "I was told to give you this."  She handed the old woman a piece of paper and when she unfolded it, there was her hospital bill and written across it in big bold words, it said, "Paid in full with one bottle of milk."

What we do for others will often come back to us in unexpected ways - when our focus is not so much about self as it is about caring for those around us and meeting their needs in whatever ways we can.  A woman cared enough about a young boy to encourage him and set him on his way with a simple bottle of milk.  Who would've ever thought that the same young man would one day be the doctor to treat her and cancel her bill?

As has often been said, "Pass it on, pay it forward."  Keep your eye on the currents and swim with them, not against them and let the river take you to where you really need to be. And always remember that there is more to a bottle of milk than the contents within it.