Let’s Bring it Home, Folks

Should we throw in the towel?  Wave a white flag in surrender?  Tell all the bullies in the world, “You win, I give!”  I never in my wildest dreams thought that after the jarring events of early 2021 when violence, death, and COVID vowed to reign supreme, some appear to still savor spreading discord, disease, and staring death in the face.

Polarizing beliefs are whirling into a tornado of destruction and loss.  From the seats of Congress to the chairs in our living rooms, division dominates. 

 We are blessed to live in this country.  We are a free people, and most of us believe in God.  Religious persecution led folks to leave their homelands, sail across oceans, and begin a new life long ago.   We fought, and many died in countless wars to maintain our freedom because we were unified. 

What is “it?”

During our times of war, strife, and vicious attacks, Americans joined together to save our homes and our independence.  If we were attacked or threatened today, my fear is that many would swear it was a hoax.  They would blame the Democrats or Republicans, or CNN or FOX or the guy down the street, and then wonder why a bomb landed in their neighborhood.  Skepticism, distrust, and bogus conspiracies fueled by social media and running mouths create carnage.

Come on, folks, could we possibly try to bring it home?  I am not sure what the “it” is, but it’s something.  Perhaps we have lost a crucial piece of our humanity puzzle.  Could it be we have forgotten to fear God?

“Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him!”  Psalms 33:8 

I don’t believe God is sitting on his throne with a paddle, ready to punish us for misbehaving.   However, perhaps He means that if we are not in awe of his majesty, words, and teachings, first and foremost… we fail.

Whose children are we?

We all tend to be awestruck with power, talent, money, and intelligence.  None of those things impress the Lord as much as putting our trust and hope in Him.   He asks us to love one another, be unified as brothers and sisters, be kind, be good, and live by the word.  How are we doing with that?  If we fear God and are in awe of Him, we need to bring those things back home in multitudes. 

Hatred, distrust, and division caused the rise of dictators and crosses to be placed on hills.   We have seen what civil war can do and what lack of civility causes. 

We are not children of a political party who idolize our leaders above all others.  Are we not more than our colors, more than our political affiliation, and more than what we see with our eyes?  We are God’s creation.  And we need to remember who we should revere in all circumstances.

If one person asks me one more time if I am this or that politically, I may have a sure-fire Southern hissy fit.  Their views and mine are nothing compared to God’s views of them or me.  God reads our words when we send judgmental emails and hears our divisive voices.  He watches as groups gather to cause ill-will.  He notices our hands when we clench our fists in rage.  Are we in awe of Him when we do such things or are our opinions more important than His words?

How we choose to live

We will not honor God if we continue to push division.  Not a single person in our government, nor one human being, will be able to unify this nation unless we look to God to strengthen our resolve to follow his teachings.  We cannot build trust with each other unless we trust our supreme leader.

 If we want to lose America, it is not how we vote; it is how we choose to live.

We will always have political discord, but it is entirely out of hand today.  We judge each other by who we politically stand with.  I think God just wants us to stand behind Him, and when we do, we might see our flags flying high in our yards, and our pride and priorities return home. 

Well, as you can tell, I am not throwing in the towel without a fight.  I am not waving a white flag or giving in to the bullies.  Nope.  I will not succumb to greed,  to the power-hungry, the racists, and the hate mongers.  If my ancestors risked all they knew to cross an ocean to an unknown, unchartered land to love God freely, then I can be brave enough to spread God’s love and remain in awe of Him.

Let’s bring it home, folks, bring it home.  

Grandpa’s Diary: A guide to living

It was Christmas 1969 in the Tennessee mountains when my grandmother (aka Grandpa*) opened her gift from a friend.  The present was a handsome, small green leather diary with a gold lock and key.  Grandpa had never written in a journal before, but she felt she must use her friend’s generous gift.   My humorous grandmother wrote on the inside cover, “I’ll try to remember to write as the days pass, but guess I’ll forget to write half the time!” 

Grandpa never missed a day until the end of 1970, when grief left the pages void of words. 

Last year, while searching for an old photo in a box Mom left me, I  found the diary.  Reading this beloved woman’s words as she lives through the year is an indescribable blessing.  I feel Grandpa left a bit of her soul for me to find.  And ironically, in 1970, she was the same age I am now.

The first days of a new year

Thursday, January 1, 1970:   “Mother fell and hurt her arm.  Ice and snow accumulated on Monterey’s roads, causing treacherous driving conditions.  I stayed with her all night.  It was slick out there, but I made it!” 

The next day, she wrote, in part, “ I finished crocheting an afghan, but I didn’t like it!” Why did she diligently work to complete it if she didn’t like it?  But knowing her,  I am confident she gave it to someone who indeed loved or needed it.  

On the following Sunday, she bathed her mother, washed her clothes, attended all church services, and relished the beautiful winter day when the sun glistened on the new-fallen snow.   

January 11, 1970:  “The weather dropped to 8 degrees below zero today.  I couldn’t go to Sunday school because I needed to stay with my mother, who is in the hospital, and also help my very sick brother.”

This was how Grandpa spent her first days of a new year.  As I read each page, I realized there was not one day that she didn’t explain the weather conditions, care for someone, check on someone else,  prepare a meal, and go to church on Sundays.  She was able to “get her hair done” on some Saturdays, listed the folks who had passed away, and prayed for folks who were still living. 

The rest of 1970

By early June that year, while caring for all the others, Grandpa was hospitalized.   She took her little diary with her, and even though ill, she still described the weather as she looked out her hospital room window.

Later in June, my first child was born, and she visited us in Georgia.  How joyful we were, but her mother and brother were not well when she returned to the mountains.  And she again drove the roads each day to care for them.

On December 2, 1970, Grandpa’s mother, Mollie Randolph Sparks, died with her daughter by her side.   On December 5, she wrote, “It’s mother’s birthday.  She would have been 94.  I miss her so much today, but she is asleep in a better place.  No more suffering and pain.  “

Nine days later, on December 11, Grandpa’s beloved brother died and was laid to rest beside his mother.  After the funeral, the words ended in the little green diary except for one sentence the following day, “It’s pretty today.”

A year in the life of a woman that cared for others more than herself.  She found beauty and wonder in the sun shining, the garden blooming, sewing aprons, laughing with her grandchildren, attending church every Sunday, and catching fish.   Even in pain, Grandpa was happy.  Unlike any heart I have ever known,  her  life reflected a soul filled with love for her friends, family, and God.

Enriching our lives

Not once on her pages did she speak of politics, philosophy, or discord.  She was the salt of the earth,  a beacon for faith, and adored by countless folks.   Her unselfish acts of kindness and giving taught me courage, determination, and to relish even the coldest, darkest days.

Grandpa lived God’s words and principles all her days without one ounce of hypocrisy, complaint, or self-importance.  She could be willful but never mean-spirited, and unkind words were never spoken or written.

What story will your diary tell this year?  Will your days record your unselfish love for others?  Will kindness reign in your life?  And will you notice how beautiful a day is even when life is challenging?

If you do, someone in the future possibly will write your name and spread your life journey to inspire others.  It is how we live each day that gives our earthly time value.  

How do we enrich our lives, heal our souls, and enjoy our world?  The answer is simply, ” with love and kindness.”

*if you would like to know why Grandpa was called by that name, go to www.lynngendusa.com and read the blog: “Her Name was Grandpa” Note: “Her Name was Grandpa” was one of my first columns and it spread throughout the country from Seattle to New Hampshire and throughout the south. What is in a name? Everything.