Well?

Many people are sick. They are fighting cancer, heart disease, autoimmune conditions, mental illnesses and more. My heart breaks for these people who are suffering some of the worst kinds of Satan’s curses.

Even healthy people suffer occasional bouts of flu or other temporary ailments.

I know people who are not sick but behave as if they are. They milk minor headaches, stomach issues, and pains for all the sympathy they can get.

These people are the adult equivalents of kids who create ways to miss school.

Like truant students, these people pretend to be sick or exaggerate the severity of their ailments to gain something they want: an excuse to miss work or to get out of washing dishes or to shirk their responsibility in a group project. They are deceivers.

No, I am not  qualified to assess people’s health. But I know what I know. I have observed obvious attempts to gain release from fulfilling responsibilities by feigning sickness. I won’t say I have never done it. Shame on me.

Something is not right if I can go for a mani-pedi, shop for clothes or show up for my bowling league, but I am too impaired to go to work, to church, to the school event I agreed to supervise or to the kitchen to bake the pan of lasagna I agreed to provide for the deacons’ luncheon.

God did not call me to manipulate people or situations for my benefit.

Good health is a wonderful blessing, but it comes with obligations.  Healthy people perform the jobs assigned to them.  They get up, dress up and show up every time.

In chapter five of John, Jesus asked an infirm man if he wanted to be well. That seemed at first to be a silly question. But maybe it wasn’t.

Photo by  elizabeth lies on Unsplash 

Photo by  Antonika Chanel on Unsplash

 

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WHO SAID THAT?

TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF CLASSIC CHRISTMAS MOVIES AND TELEVISION SPECIALS. CAN YOU NAME THAT SHOW?

“Is there a thermometer around here?”

“Aaah! “Fra-GEE-leh!” It must be Italian!”

“Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps… means a little bit more!”

“Rats. Nobody sent me a Christmas card today. I almost wish there weren’t a holiday season. I know nobody likes me. Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?

“This fog’s as thick as peanut butter!”

“And may all your Christmases be white. Merry Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!”

“Yes! Yes I do! I like Christmas! I love Christmas!”

“The four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup.”

“And we’re gonna to have the hap-hap-happiest Christmas!”

“Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.”

“This is extremely important. Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back. No toys. Nothing but Peter, Kate, Buzz, Megan, Linnie, and Jeff. And my aunt and my cousins. And if he has time, my Uncle Frank. Okay?”

Would you please tell her that you’re not really Santa Claus, that actually is no such person?

A CAUTIONARY TALE

My friend Roger told a story that caused all his listeners to sit up and listen. I have never forgotten it.

One fall day Roger drove through a neighborhood with lots of trees. Leaves fell steadily from the branches and colored people’s lawns with splashes of orange, red and gold.

Many homeowners had raked or blown their leaves to the edge of the street. Specially designed trucks made regular trips through neighborhoods and sucked up the leaves.

In front of one house Roger noted a long row of piled leaves. He considered driving through them and enjoying the swirling mass of color rising behind his car. But at the last minute, he decided against it.

He glanced in his rear view mirror after passing those leaves. As he looked, he saw two small children pop up, hands raised, scattering the crunchy leaves.

The sight made Roger sick. How close he had come to destroying the lives of two little children.

I tell this story every fall. Resist the urge  to drive through piles of leaves.

Remind people you know to do the same.

MESSY: A PHOTO ESSAY

Last Sunday our daughter-in-law Jenny reached into my kitchen cabinet to get a sippy cup.

When she opened the cabinet doors, she was surprised to see this.

“Where are the sippy cups?” she asked.

“I reorganized my kitchen this week,” I said. “I was tired of looking at messy cabinets.”

Reorganizing is a fancy word that means moving a mess from one place to another. This is the sippy cups’ new home.

I am generally against messes, but sometimes messy is best.

How many times have you regretted cleaning a cluttered drawer? When it was messy, you could dig through it and find your hole puncher. After you clean it, who knows where the hole puncher is?

Ahhh, tidiness. But where did I put my hole puncher?

The messiest room in your house may also be the one that makes you happiest.

They say a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, and an empty desk is a sign of an empty mind.

If you don’t want to be called empty-headed, follow my example and embrace a cluttered workspace.

We all know you must make a mess before you can clean. I pulled this picture from my own files.

Messy, yes, but a sure sign of orderliness to come.

Messiness can be in the eye of the beholder. Picasso’s famous painting, Three Musicians, looks like a mess to me, but what do I know about art?

The best desserts are messy.

A kiss from a grandchild may be messy, but I never turn one down.

This ends my photo essay on messes.

But know this. I not only create and clean up messes. I AM a mess. That is why I need a Messiah!

 

FALL’S PLEASURES

Pumpkins and scarecrows

Corn stalks and hay

Leaves on the ground

‘Til winds sweep them away.

 

Cider and sunflowers

Jackets with hoods

Campfires and asters

Colorful woods.

 

Crispy cool mornings

Frost on the ground

Playgrounds abandoned

Squirrels abound.

 

Migrating birds and

Football to play

Your breath in the air

A harvest array.

 

Pools are all covered

Grills put away

The air is now filled with

A wood smoke bouquet.

 

Reruns on TV

Quilts on our beds

Knee socks and mittens

Scarves around heads.

 

Apples, persimmons

Thanksgiving buffet

Sunset comes sooner

To shorten the day.

 

Late fall brings frostbite

Hayrides and s’mores

Get out the board games

We’re staying indoors.

 

Winter looms large now

With cold winds and snow

So savor fall’s pleasures

Before they all go.

BOSSY

In honor of National Boss’s Day, I wrote this piece about bad bosses I have had.

Every time I worked under the leadership of a less-than-good boss, I learned.

One of my worst bosses was mentally ill. This man had suffered the loss of a child and subsequently, the breakup of his marriage. He was so emotionally debilitated he could barely get dressed and come to work.

I was young, and this man showed me inappropriate affection. He bought me expensive perfume, wrote songs about me, and wanted me to run away with him. I believed he was stalking me.

I was afraid of him, and as soon as I could, I transferred to a new department.

What I Learned: Bosses bring their personal problems to work. Some problems rise to the level of extreme.

Another supervisor, imbalanced and incompetent, destroyed what had been a successful enterprise. He was arrogant and ignorant but demanded that workers do things his way. Because of this, most of his employees left positions they had once loved. He was eventually fired, but only after I had left and found a new job.

What I Learned: Arrogant, ignorant people sometimes hold leadership positions.

One boss was a foul-mouthed woman who chain-smoked. Our desks butted up against each other and she blew cigarette smoke into my face all day.

What I Learned: All bosses have annoying habits. (And yes, in the 1970s, many office workers smoked. The rest of us suffered.)

Another boss was a Christian, a man with good intentions. But he was unqualified for the position he held.

What I Learned: Even the nicest people, when placed into positions for which they are not qualified, make bad bosses.

Other bosses were weak. They provided no oversight and gave no guidance. They just wanted their underlings to play nicely together in the sandbox.

What I Learned: When a leader doesn’t lead, someone else will. That someone is often a bully.

I cannot tell you when it is time to leave a job because you have a bad boss. Many other factors influence that decision.

I will tell you I have made these determinations:

  • I will never again work for someone I am afraid of.
  • I will trust my instincts. If I think my boss is a slime ball, or incompetent, or spineless, he/she probably is. I will do the best work I can in that environment or I will find a new job.
  • I will not blame myself for my boss’s lack of success. I won’t try to “rescue” a bad boss by hiding her shortcomings and doing her work myself.
  • If my boss has a habit that is extreme enough to affect my job performance, I will try to negotiate a change.

When I complained about the cigarette smoke my boss was blowing into my face, she smiled and said, “Honey, I know you hate this cigarette smoke, but people will always smoke at work. That will never change. You’ll just have to get used to it.”

Not all my bosses were lousy. One or two became lifelong friends.

I hope your boss is stellar and that you, as an employee, had a happy Boss’s Day.

SIXTEEN GRAHAM CRACKERS

In public, people often mask their emotions. They smile and say they are fine. They chat and then walk away.

Heather, Ellen and Tom do this.

And they always look to be the same. Steady ships sailing on the river of life.

 

The Heather I see at the grocery store is not the real Heather.

The real Heather’s boyfriend is becoming abusive. He hasn’t hit her yet, but he has jerked her arm so hard it hurt and shoved away from his car.

Heather fears she may be pregnant again. She can’t have this baby.

I would be a lousy mother, she thinks.

Heather cries and says, “I swore my first abortion would be my last one, but what else can I do?”

The Ellen I smile at during church is not the real Ellen.

The real Ellen is a cancer survivor. She lives every day fearing the disease will return.

Ellen’s husband has checked out. He comes home from work, eats dinner, and then falls asleep in his recliner watching reruns of NCIS.

The two of them exchange only four or five sentences a day.

Ellen cries and vows, “One day I’ll get the courage to leave him. I’ll find a man who understands my fear.”

The Tom I view standing on the sidewalk is not the real Tom.

The real Tom is seeing his psychiatrist later today to ask her to change his medications. He takes antidepressant and antianxiety pills, but they aren’t working.

Every morning, Tom’s first thought is to kill himself.

His job stinks and his wife has moved out. He lives in squalor. Trash litters the floors and furniture. The grass in his yard is eight inches tall but cutting the grass requires energy he does not have.

Tom cries and says, “Tomorrow I will clean the house and mow the grass. I’ll look for a better job. I’ll call my wife and ask her to meet me to talk.”

But when he wakes up the next morning, his first temptation is to kill himself.

Few people see the real Debbie. Everyone else sees my mask.

These few people know the intensity of my struggle with OCD.

An unstoppable, continuous loop of repetitive thoughts plays and replays inside my mind.

These thoughts push me to perform, organize, and count.

This morning, obeying my OCD urgings, I set out to wash both sides of every door inside the house.

My bed sat unmade and two piles of dirty clothes lay on the bathroom floor. My kitchen needed attention.

I cry and tell myself, “Only a stupid person washes doors when her housework and laundry are out of control. I am stupid.”

This sad thought drives me to the kitchen where I finish the last of the graham crackers.

My sister calls.

“How are you?” she asks.

“Awful,” I say.

“What are you doing?” she asks.

“I’m standing in the kitchen eating my 16th graham cracker.”

“Sixteen graham crackers will never be enough,” she says.

She is right.

Food, no matter how much of it I eat, cannot fix what is wrong with me.

 

Food is not the solution to my problem.

An abortion is not the solution to Heather’s problem.

Leaving her husband and finding a new mate is not the solution to Ellen’s problem.

Suicide is not the solution to Tom’s problem.

I am thankful my sister cares about me.

She and other family members and  friends encourage me. They check often to see how I am doing.

I am stronger because they care.

I wonder.

Who cares about Heather, Ellen and Tom?

 

 

 

 

For friends who share common interests with me and enjoy reading lighthearted, inspirational, and entertaining articles, many with spiritual applications.