Long, hot July days. [376-415]

Summer vacation (for us teacher folk) is nearly over and I return to work for a bit this week before school starts next week. Honestly…. I’m ready for school to start. My summer was not as productive as I hoped. It was my first summer not working (the school district I currently work for doesn’t offer summer school, which is what I usually do), but my husband and I agreed that it would be good for me to stay home instead of finding a short-term summer job. I planned to save gas money by staying home, rest before the craziness in the year ahead, paint all the rooms in the house, work with the chickens, pursue personal projects, cook more meals at home (saving money there too), and whatever else I needed to do. Well. Things change. And you can’t really do a lot of house projects without money budgeted for them. So I did rest. And I did work with the chickens. And I did stay home. But…. there were days when I got bored and restless quickly. It was a bit isolating (in addition to only having about five somewhat decent television channels on the bunny ears, no internet, and very limited phone data)…. Too much rest is not good for me. Too much rest led to days where I felt too down and unmotivated to do anything. Too much time alone left me craving adult interaction. (I talked to my cats too much.) I kind of regret not getting a second job. Oh well. Live and learn. I’m back to work soon.

So. Yep. I’m at the point where I’m kind of over summer. I’m ready for a busier schedule and cooler weather in a few months. I’m ready for new things. Patience, Laura….

And with that, here is my list of things I’m thankful for within the last several weeks. I’ve been a bit lax with writing things down, so the list is not nearly as extensive as it ‘should’ be. Regardless, even though the endless days where I was a bit lonely and bored, I still found things to be thankful for….. because when isn’t there something to be grateful for? And I don’t need to remember everything to maintain this thankfulness….❤

376. bottle-feeding baby goats. 377. fishing. 378. bonfire with good people. 379. full moon. 380. summer solstice. 381. delicious lemonade. 382. eating leftover cake whenever I want. 383. noodles and company. 384. turtle races. 385. random cats appearing in my friend’s yard. 386. fireflies lighting up the night. 387. baby goat climbing on my back. 388. rain stopping long enough for the fireworks show. 389. glow sticks. 390. enjoying a dinner with dear friends on their back patio. 391. going to the movie theater for the first time in years. 392. going to my first NASCAR race. 393. seeing my husband enjoy his birthday. 394. pool time. 395. huge, beautiful fuzzy orange moth sitting on our tomato plants. 396. motivation. 397. prayers. 398. inspiration. 399. broccoli cheddar soup. 400. veggie sandwiches. 401. the golden glow of the sunset after the rain. 402. pets being clean after baths. 403. a safe flight on a plane. 404. batman cake. 405. superhero-themed wedding. 406. celebrating the wedding of one of my oldest friends. 407. my parents. 408. new flair pens. 409. blank pages. 410. snuggly baby. 411. rain and storms arriving after too many dry days. 412. finally completing a personal art project. 413. purple hair. 414. invitations. 415. the library.

Where’s the Love?

These days, I don’t spend too much time online scrolling through my social media feeds or skimming through articles or heck, even browsing the web, thanks to my lack of internet connection at home and limited phone data plan. I don’t even have a newspaper or watch the news on television. There are many times I gripe about this lack; but then I am thankful not to be too connected and wrapped up in everything going on in the world these days. Part of it is guilt – I feel guilty for not paying attention to the world…. But I am so tired of seeing all the hate and disagreements from all sides of every issue. Just…. So, so tired of it. Is anyone else with me on this?

Whatever happened to love? Kindness? Listening? Understanding?

As I sat thinking about this a few nights ago, I became overwhelmed, almost to the point of tears, at the complicated mess we’ve all gotten ourselves into. And as the thought of raising children in this world has been on my mind more and more lately, I am almost afraid. I have hope in our God, but I am so afraid of what our children will see and hear and experience as they grow up in this breaking world. I want to protect them from everything.

What happened? How did we end up here?

Some bible verses came to mind, and I wanted to share them with you.

During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says in Matthew 5:43-48:

“You have the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

My take on this: everyone — good and evil, just and unjust — are part of this same world. We are all trying to exist together. We are all trying to find our place — some are sitting in the sun, and some under dark clouds. It is up to us to show love and kindness to everyone, even those who do not show it to us. Because honestly? They probably need it the most. They need to see and experience the goodness to let go of their own demons. And even if they don’t let go of their demons, we are still supposed to be kind and show love. We can do that. You can do that. If we keep our kind words and good deeds to those in our immediate circle of family and friends, how does that positively impact everyone else? Reach out. Serve others. Speak a kind word. Give a hug to someone that is hurting. Love.

In Matthew 22: 33-40, we read this story:

“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [emphasis added]

In Galatians 5: 13-25, Paul writes:

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” [emphasis added]

Can I repeat that? “LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Wow! Of course. Aren’t we seeing this right now? So many people are working on destroying other people (through violet protests, hateful words, exclusivity, etc. etc.) that they are in the process of destroying themselves. There is no good that comes from this. At all. Just…. be courteous. Patient. Understanding. Loving.

I don’t understand how anyone who reads the Bible (people who claim not to believe in God and people who claim they are Christians) can debate against one of the most important messages: JUST LOVE. I understand that it might be hard for nonbelievers to grasp the idea that Jesus died for our sins, or that God created everything, or that the Holy Spirit is always with us,… But is it really hard to grasp the message of loving others? If there’s one thing that everyone can learn from the Bible and apply towards their lives, it’s to love others.

God didn’t tell us to tear others down. God didn’t tell us to judge. God didn’t tell us to shoot someone.  God didn’t tell us to hate. God asked us to love. Let Him take care of things. 

Heck, even The Beatles got it: all you need is love.

Jesus gave his life by dying on the cross out of love. For us. For you. Because we all matter.

And all he asks is that we love others too. Because we all matter.

I’m going to try my hardest to show love and kindess to everyone — even when I struggle in the midst of my own hurt and anger. It is not easy. Of course it is not easy. This is not an easy thing that Jesus is asking us to do. But I can do this. Praying for that.

Praying for peace. Praying for love. Praying for an end to the hate.

Praying for you.