Meanderings Of A Restless Mind

My friend Lilly made the bookmark in the picture. it is tattered and a little torn from use just as I am today. I am dictating this as I am laid up, or I should say my hand is laid up with a bent finger.

The bookmark is placed in a chapter in the book, He Still Moves Me, by Max Lucado. I am on the chapter called Bruised Reeds and Smoldering Wicks. The chapter addresses being frail, like a bruised reed bent but still standing by the rivers edge.

This chapter, as well as the entire book resonates with me this morning because the first thing I thought of when I woke up, for some strange reason, is are we overthinking our purpose in life? What if our only purpose in life were to be kind to one another? I posted that on my Facebook page this morning.

I think the thought came to my mind because of all the unsettling news in the world today. Yesterday all I wanted to post was the words “I am a Christian and an American.”

I am not defined by a political party or by a certain denomination. I am defined by what is in my heart and by what I believe to be right and wrong and how I live my life.

That doesn’t mean I am the perfect person. I let myself be defined by outside influences. And because of it I define others or perhaps I should say I create an atmosphere in my relationships, or in my interactions which causes me to put a definition, right wrong on my friends or family that may change the path of their life, blurring their expectations of who they really are. Yes our words do influence others, occasionally in the wrong way.

This paragraph in Max Lucado’s book hit me hard this morning. It asks us if we are that bruised reed. If we once stood tall with confidence but the words of others, the criticism, words of anger, words of failure by religions rigidity, wounded and bent us and left us blowing In the wind.

Many of us are that bent reed. I don’t know what happens for you, but I know for me it makes me strike out or retreat because I want to stay out of the way of the harshness. And it makes us feel less than ok with ourselves, operhaps turning us into someone we are not, someone of harshness or anger. A person who wounds and lashes out to keep ourselves safe from the wounds of others. We retreat or attack.

I’ve always been a talker, I talk fast and I ramble on and I have always been made fun of for talking so much. And it makes me feel bad. But I have never said anything to those who criticize my talking. I have never shared that I ramble on because I feel less than, or I ramble on because I’m nervous, or I ramble on because I am just so uncomfortable in social situations.

When I am teased or criticized for talking too much I hide my hurt, and sometimes I retreat and I’m more silent because I am uncomfortable in the presence of the person that made fun of me and my personality. It makes me feel that I’m less than and it is not acceptable to be who I am.

My reading this morning made me realize that I am that bruised reed and I imagine there are so many people out there just like me. I also know that I probably many times have been the cause of making someone else feel that way.

The past weeks myself and others have spent an enormous amount of time and energy defending our views and not listening, or trying to understand the views of one another, making each of us feel wrong or attacked because we believe what we believe. And when we feel cornered we attack too and nothing is accomplished except losing our own integrity.

I have noticed that many attacks on the political front come from people who are normally outgoing and outspoken, and yes sometimes I am the outspoken one. I think we get louder and talk more if we feel we are not being heard or we want to bully someone into taking our side. Doing that makes others cower in fear and retreat and be silent, because they feel speaking out causes attack and they want to be peaceful. It stops us from hearing the wisdom of those silent voices.

There seems to be a certain criteria to be an accepted Christian depending on what denomination we choose, and there seems to be a certain criteria that says we have to take sides and be one or the other, Republican or Democrat. Depending on which side we choose, which denomination we choose, determines whether we are good or bad.

We are told we have to have a purpose in life and that too is causing us stress because that is even become an arguable point. If we aren’t helping or volunteering enough or choosing to be very busy then we need to look for our calling. I once was told by someone that my calling was to take my mother-in-law into my home to care for her when she had Alzheimer’s. I couldn’t care for her the way I knew she needed. It was a detriment to her health if I took care of her but yet I felt the pressure of someone feeling that. There is never a day when we can live up to all the expectations put on us by society.

I don’t claim to be an expert on anything especially the Bible, but this chapter in this book spoke to me. Matthew 12:20 says a bruised reed will not break, and a smoldering wick will not be snuffed out.

So I will say it again; I am a Christian. I am an American. I am a talker and I am going to work on my purpose in life, being just to be kind and see where that takes me. I am that bruised reed, bent and blowing in the wind, and you know what? I accept that.

Be kind, especially if you comment on this post. Laugh out loud, because instead of writing, I dictated this so I guess I do talk maybe too much at times, but I am accepting that part of me. It is who I am.



Proud To Be An American

I am grateful that I was born in the United States of America because my Polish Grandparents and my Great-Great Grandparents immigrated from Holland. I am here because they took the risk to come to a new country. This week is not only the week we vote but also the week we honor Veterans. My husband is a Veteran of the Viet Nam war. This week I will honor Veterans each day in some way on my Author Page and also on my personal page and my blog Sprinkled Notes. So Veterans, This week

is for you.

My column this week in the Albert Lea Tribune and The Courier-Sentinel

This past week my husband and I visited the VA Clinic in Minneapolis. Since the elections are tomorrow and this is also the week we celebrate our Veterans it might be fitting to write about our experience with the Veterans Administration and the Clinics and healthcare.

We have all heard the horrifying stories of the terrible healthcare and experiences people have had with the VA. But I am here to tell you our experience, and they are all positive experiences.

My husband didn’t get hooked up with the VA System until somewhere in the last ten years. We had an excellent Veterans Administration Officer both in Fairmont and Blue Earth that got the ball rolling for us. It didn’t take long, and my husband was in the system, and the benefits were available to him. He is a Viet Nam Veteran, and it had been hard for him to ask for help because of the stigma of the war. It was something he never talked about.

He was a patient at the VA Clinic in Mankato and then transferred to the Albert Lea VA Clinic when it opened because it was closer to home. We have always been amazed at the care of both places, the ease of getting an appointment and the excellent staff at both clinics.

The Veteran’s Clinic and Hospital in Minneapolis are amazing. They make it very easy to navigate and find your way around with all the volunteers they have to help those Veterans who come though their doors.

We had an appointment for a scan at 10:45. We were early and we checked in. We walked out of the doors of the Clinic at 10:46. And they had told us they were behind schedule. That is another thing we have found. If he has an appointment the wait is longer to get a table in a restaurant than it is to see the Doctor. This has been our experience.

This time at the Minneapolis Clinic I met another friend. Her husband too was there for a scan. I always meet friendly and interesting people on my visits there.  I learned about her family and she learned about mine. We shared experiences and we exchanged names and business cards to keep in touch. I suspect many other people’s lives touch at these facilities because they have a bond of a Veteran.

It is awe inspiring to see so many Veterans in one place, different ages and in different situations health wise. These men and women served our country. These men and women fought for our freedom. These men and women deserve our thanks and respect. These men and women all have lasting effects for their dedication to making our lives better.

The staff at these Veteran’s facilities also deserve our thanks and respect. They work day after day to make the lives of our Veterans better and also the lives of the families of those Veterans.

Does the system have flaws, of course, it does because it is run by human beings and we are a flawed creation. The media spends a great deal of time focusing on those flaws  but I would guess there are more heart and success stories than there are horror stories. We need to focus on the good these facilities, built for our Veterans, do for all of those involved.

 

It is Veteran’s Day on November 11. Thank a Veteran. Thank those also who work to serve Veterans.  Freedom isn’t free and freedom wasn’t meant to be abused. A Veteran protects and serves so those rights can be preserved.

 

When the peace treaty is signed, the war isn’t over for the veterans or the family. It’s just starting —Karl Marlantes