REFLECTIONS

Sharing in the Happiness of Others

I recently enjoyed the sights and sounds of a large family celebrating the birthday of their youngest member - a one-year old who was cheered when she and her mommy walked into the restaurant.  This little one was adored by her extended family of young and old.  Each person held her, played with her, talked with her, and gave her smiles that in turn, brought the sweetest smiles from her face.  I even got a little smile and a "practice" wave in response to my wave.

If I were thinking about moving forward in a relationship, I would observe what a person's response would be to this happy, noisy, celebrative event that was centered on a child. Would the person I was with have a positive attitude toward the happy group, or would the person show any signs of irritation or negativity.

You can learn a lot about someone in a social setting, so it is good to venture out into various places so that you can gain insights into the person you are getting to know.  Observe how this person interacts (or pulls away) from your inner circle of family and friends. It has been proven that if a person displays isolating behavior, this is not a healthy sign for the future. Isolating is a big "red flag"  that becomes a prominent factor in domestic abuse cases.

Pre-Isolating Behaviors

1. You are made to feel responsible for your partner's happiness at social events.

2. You are made to feel guilty for wanting to spend time with other people

3. You are often pressured to leave social events early because your partner is unhappy

4. Your partner does a "bait and switch" - initially seeming friendly and sociable, but then changes over time, becoming socially withdrawn, unfriendly, and controlling.

Fully-Isolating Behaviors

1.  You pull away from family and friends, and make excuses for why you can't attend events.

2.  Your partner screens your calls, contacts, and questions your family, friends, and workplace connections.

3.  Your partner exhibits unhealthy jealousy regarding your contacts and interactions with others.e

Red Flag Alert:  We who are survivors need to recognize our "fight or flight" instincts as protective warning signals that warn us of  unsafe, and/or questionable situations.   

Trust your "red flags" and develop a strong intuition that can serve as a protective layer against anything that will pull  you away from your goal of having the positive, peaceful and stable life you deserve!

Praying for the Children and Parents

Sunday brunch at a local restaurant always brings out families with school-age children, babies, elder grandmas and grandpas, and aunts and uncles. At a table of about 20 people, there was a precious five-day old newborn who was surrounded by family and friends who also had their young children at the long table. 

As the newborn's parents walked by my table at the end of their meal, they stopped as I congratulated them on the birth of their baby.  His tiny five-day old feet reminded me of the intricacy and miracle of our formation from the very beginning. 

There is a long road ahead in the lives of these young families.  I pray that the parents will receive all the support they need, and that they will grow in wisdom, strength, unity and love as they fulfill their roles as the primary, front-line nurturers and protectors of their children. 

from a Jewish Blessing for Children

May God bless you and guard you.

May God show you favor and be gracious to you.

May God show you kindness and grant you peace.

Older and Wiser

At this age in my life, I'm supposed to be older and wiser, and while the older part is happening on its own, the wiser part is taking some work.  So as I lighten up my physical possessions I no longer need, I am also lightening up any lingering emotional baggage I don't need.  If  you see a big bin outside my house, you will know that I am doing the hard work of  tossing out unforgiveness, bitterness, grudges, hurts, and fears.  As the bin fills up, I am finding more room in my mind and heart for life-giving, life-affirming thoughts and feelings, and a whole lot of gratitude!  May it be so for you, too.

"Life Is Too Short to Be Small"

I watched an old movie in which Louis Armstrong, the jazz trumpeter, talks with a man who is struggling with forgiveness. Louis encourages him to forgive, and to move on with his life with these words:  "Life is too short to be small."

I have thought of these words often, and appreciate how the script writer inserted these wise words for many to hear. "Smallness" shows itself in so many ways, such as in the person who cuts you off in traffic, the one who speeds up when you are making a turn, the restaurant complainer who doesn't leave a tip but who received good service; the parent who gripes about teachers, and who after dropping off his/her child for the day, in the safety of a teacher who has 25-30 more students, goes off for coffee and teacher-bashing; the person who will not consider forgiving another because there is no vindication or "getting even" in forgiveness.

Smallness is indeed, small. It makes people churlish, whiny, gripey, and emotionally immature. Being "bigger" - or working toward that goal - makes a person gracious, kind, forbearing, and forgiving.  Thank you, Louis!

The saying, "Life is too short to be small"  is a good beacon when co which action or direction to take.  Thanks, Louis!

Remembering and Honoring

On Memorial Day and Veteran's Day, I hold in my heart those who served in uniform, and those who gave their lives. I also remember with deepest sadness, those who did not return - our MIA’s, or KIA’s whose remains were not returned. 
I pray that if your heart is still tender and hurting, you will find solace and healing as time goes by. Even though grief does not ever go away entirely, the scars it leaves can make us more compassionate and empathetic people, and that is honoring to the memory of those who served our country at great sacrifice to themselves, their families, and their futures.  As the motto reminds us: 
"All gave some; Some gave all."
God bless you and keep you during your times of remembering - and may we never forget.


Yellow Roses

It has taken me a few weeks to be able to gain some peace with this story.  I have felt deeply saddened for what happened, but the reality that life can change in a moment is ever so clear, and causes me to cherish life and friendships all the more.
About six weeks ago, after growing light-headed from clipping her roses, my new friend Patty fell outside her front door and into her rose bushes. She had lain on the sidewalk by her porch for some time, and had been calling out for help; but because we neighbors had attributed the hollering to another neighbor down the street who had mental health issues and was prone to yelling, no one responded to Patty’s calling out. I had even looked out the door to be sure our other neighbor wasn’t in the street, having previously called 911 numerous times in concern for her safety.
So it was, as the sun was setting and the evening was growing cold, a neighbor came to my door saying:  “Call 911!  Patty fell outside!”
The firefighters/paramedics arrived, and then the ambulance EMT’s. Patty was bleeding from the thorny bushes she had fallen into before somehow getting herself onto the sidewall.
She had told us not to call 911, and to “Just help me get up and into the house.” As soon as the paramedics lifted her, though, her severe pain became evident.
That night, Patty underwent surgery for a broken hip, and spent weeks in a rehabilitation facility. The last thing she said to me before the ambulance door closed was, “Be sure to take the roses home. I was picking them for you.”
It was as if one of those rose bush thorns had cut through my heart. This new friend had wanted to bless me with a beautiful gift from her garden, and instead, had suffered great injury and excruciating pain.
I took the roses home, put them in a vase, and enjoyed their beauty, even through my tears. In the evening of the fall, my neighbor's caring and generous heart had prompted her to go outdoors to pick roses for me. With great humbleness of heart, I pray that her healing will be complete, her health restored, and that, even as she continues to do the hard work of healing, she will experience blessing upon blessing that will fill her heart.  Thank you for the gift of beautiful yellow roses, Patty.  You didn't even know that these have always been my favorite.

If we forgive, where will the stored-up bitterness and anger go?


I've written a separate article about forgiveness that I hope to share at some point.  This new article goes beyond my webpage writing, and shares about the person who inspired me to forgive. Her act of forgiving the person who took the life of her two children humbles me, and makes me want to continue on this path of forgiveness. It has been incredibly freeing and healthy - and right.  So, I ask you, if we extend forgiveness, where will all the stored-up bitterness and anger go? The answer to this question is simple:  It will go away.


Domestic Violence - One More Sad Statistic...


Domestic violence isn't restrained or made more or less probable by a person’s economics, education, religion, politics, or other personal or societal factor.
I woke up this morning mulling over the “why’s“ of a Sunday night tragedy in my area. The husband decided to shoot his wife multiple times (rage), and then shot himself, leaving their bodies to be found by relatives on Father’s Day. Thankfully, no children were victims.
Left behind were the tangible signs of the couple’s successes - beautiful home in a prestigious mountain neighborhood, two Porsche and Range Rover vehicles in the driveway, and their barking sheep dog.
My heart is deeply saddened for the fear, violence and tragedy by which the young wife died at the hands of her husband’s uncontrolled anger and his gun. These things don’t “just happen” and if the wife could speak, she could probably share many embarrassing, demeaning episodes in her life with this man. Neighbors say the couple “kept to themselves” - a “red flag” of isolating behaviors.
May God have mercy on their souls - including the husband’s because he was either a vile, angry person (and they do exist), or a person with a mental illness who would himself - on a better mental health day - grieve for what he had done.


In Tribute


My heart grieves for the loss of Police Officer Tara O'Sullivan who died last night, June 19, 2019, after being shot during a domestic dispute in Sacramento, CA. She was 26 years old and had just begun her career in law enforcement. As Officer O'Sullivan helped the woman who had called retrieve personal items so that she could leave the abuser's house, the abusive man entered the home and shot Officer O'Sullivan, who then lay on the ground outside for over 45 minutes, while other officers figured out how to get her to safety as the gunman continued firing his shotgun. He surrendered hours later (after the neighborhood had to be evacuated at nighttime), and he was unharmed, as was the woman who had initially called. Officer Tara O'Sullivan died in the hospital.
Again, domestic violence got its sacrifice of the good and the innocent. I send my prayers and deepest sympathy to her family.  Officer Tara, may you rest in peace and safety in the arms of God. 

 

"It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."


"It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness" is a saying that dates back to an other era, and is probably something grandparents and great grandparents remember hearing. It basically means that when you are surrounded by darkness, it doesn’t help to just complain and worry about it. Lighting a candle can be a literal thing, like when the power goes out and you are sitting in the darkness. Or, lighting a candle can be a symbolic act, such as holding protest signs that bring dark deeds to the light.

Another way to light a candle, rather than curse the darkness, is to find some way to push back against the anger and evil that seems to be overwhelming our nation - domestic violence, child abuse, gun rages and deaths.
Yesterday, in my part of the world, two regular, everyday people were gunned down in an auto dealership by an enraged employee who had been fired. The Memorial Service for Officer Tara O’Sullivan, the young Sacramento Police Officer who was ambushed by an armed abuser when she responded to a domestic abuse call will be tomorrow. On Friday, there will be a Memorial for the woman who was murdered by her husband last week. Yesterday, a precious baby was found alive in a plastic bag, after having been thrown away like just another piece of garbage.

I want to push back against the darkness and light candles. While this won’t turn back the clock, or bring anyone back to life, or replace evil hearts with hearts filled with love, it is a reminder to me that I can do something to convey empathy, sympathy and compassion.

So today, I went to our local PD and took a card and potted plant in honor of Officer Tara, knowing that our “Thin Blue Line” of officers who share a brother and sisterhood are grieving the loss of one of their own, and ours, too.  In her memory, and as a mom who is praying for Tara’s Mom, I planted a set of these beautiful dark purple lilies in my garden. I hope the plant I left will find its way into the garden of one of our local Officers. The Officer I spoke with said my sympathy card would be read at today’s roll call.

As I left, it was hard to hold back tears, but that is the price of lighting candles. You will stand with the brokenhearted, the abused, the lost, the homeless, the hungry, the “throw-aways”- and you will feel the suffering, and it will hurt deeply.

Light candles, my friends, and together, let’s permeate the darkness with the light of God’s love, compassion, kindness, justice and mercy.   


Item # 9 from this website’s

"Life Plan" page

Get an education, be a learner:  Item #9. Read from multiple perspectives. Don’t be afraid of diverse opinions and views - learn from them.

Today, I followed my own recommendation and listened to a talk show person whose views are in opposition to mine. His comments in the first minute of my listening were dishonest, derogatory, and sarcastic. As I continued to listen, he went on to diminish and demean the good military service record and legal work of a fellow American who has had a proven track record of productive work and service to our nation.
The bio for the radio person states that he has been a radio disc jockey, and a talk show host. He has not valued education, nor has he served his country in some way.  As a young man born into affluence and privilege, he had the freedom to try different jobs until he found his niche as a radio talk show personality. In the minutes in which I continued to listen, I heard sarcasm, lying, and anger- “all the way to the bank” because there is big money in this kind of talk show.  
*Here are my follow-up thoughts:
1. Even in our disagreements, we have to protect our freedom of speech and freedom of the press for everyone.

2. “Name-calling” or an attempt to diminish another person’s views by slapping on an easy label - “liberal” “right-wing” “socialist”, etc., is an unashamed attempt to divide, to incite hatred, to instill fear, and to prevent people from thinking for themselves. This tactic has deep, ugly roots as we have learned from history.

3. Fear-mongering is a calculated, manipulative tactic meant to gather in as many “non-thinkers” as possible. By non-thinkers, I mean, those who have made up their mind to never examine another view, another possibility, or another consideration that doesn’t already line up with their view.
Example: Slave owners were non-thinkers. They were atheists, agnostics, and those who self-identified as Christians. They believed that their view of human trafficking, owning, persecuting, impregnating, starving, beating, and killing another human being was their legal, (and for believers in God), their God-given right. They would not consider the abolitionists’ views as a possibility, primarily because tobacco and cotton crops brought wealth for the owners, and human bodies had to be in the fields planting and picking the crops. The opposing, anti-slavery view didn’t line up with the human ownership view slave owners had, because it didn’t support the control and wealth they coveted. Today, as in our nation’s history, follow the money trail.

4. While I was listening to the radio show, a very demure-sounding woman called in to express her fear about the politician who had been slandered moments before by the talk show host. Her “sweet” voice became angry, the pitch got higher, and her words got louder and meaner. as the radio host encouraged and “fanned the flames” of her anger. It was a sad example of a woman being easily manipulated by an older, powerful man.
*Measuring the Messenger and the Message

5. I will continue my practice of listening to diverse views, and reading from multiple perspectives, even when it is unsettling and worrisome to do so.  However, reading and listening are only the first steps. The next step in my “diverse opinions” process is to consider how the messenger and the message uphold the values and truths that align with my personal beliefs which belong to no political party, politician, or talk show host.

6. I will continue to ask myself if what I am hearing and reading is encouraging me in these productive and life-affirming ways:

To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God. (Micah 6:8)

To grow in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22)
To do what is righteous
To speak the truth from the heart
To not utter slander
To do no wrong to my neighbor
To cast no slur on others  (Psalm 15)
These Scriptures are helpful to me as I seek wisdom, discernment and good judgment in these difficult times, when even partners, spouses, families, and friends are being divided by their opposing views.

Lastly, but very importantly, don’t be afraid of diverse opinions and views - learn from them, but have good tools by which to measure right from wrong, justice from injustice, compassion from heartlessness, equality from inequality, and love from hate. On these things, there can be no compromise.

Blessings and Peace to You,

Shirley





an be unsettling and worrisome. However, reading and listening are only the first steps. The next step in my “diverse opinions” process is to consider how the messenger and the message uphold the values and truths that align with my personal beliefs which belong to no political party, politician, or talk show host.

As a Christian, I am always asking myself if what I am hearing and reading is encouraging me in these ways:

To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God. (Micah 6:8)

To grow in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness,

These Scriptures are helpful to me as I seek wisdom, discernment and good judgment in these difficult times, when even partners, spouses, families, and friends are being divided by their opposing views.
Don’t be afraid of diverse opinions and views - learn from them, and have good tools by which to measure right from wrong, justice from injustice, compassion from heartlessness, equality from inequality, and love from

 

 

© Copyright_Shirley Myers_March2019