Thursday, January 14, 2021

Who Are You?

Are you the person you want people to see?
Do you put on a figurative mask to hide the real you from others?

People have been losing jobs or suffering consequences from being at the US Capitol last week. Their presence there, and their beliefs demonstrated by their actions have surprised some people that now want to disassociate from them and their beliefs. Some of the people in DC have themselves tried to disassociate from the riotous part of the mob by scrubbing their own social media from anything that would connect them to the racist, conspiracy theory followers that stormed the Capitol, broke laws, and tried to stop our legislators from performing their constitutional duties. And still others are embracing their identity as Q-anon following, racist radicals. 

If someone were to study your social media habits, would you look like the person you publicly claim to be or would your posts betray that you hide a darker side? 
If you were to run for a public office, how much of your past would campaign handlers want to scrub?
If you were to apply for a new job, would your social media help you or hurt your chances of success?

Are you more of a "what you see is what you get" kind of person or do you always generally present a persona that is more acceptable to whatever audience you are in front of at the time?  
Is your social media the real you or do you use it to present a more desirable you online?

How "clean" are you?
Does your influence go beyond your circle of like-minded people?
Do you want it to?

These might be questions some are wishing they would have considered prior to their actions of last week. 

John

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

A little ray of sunshine

It isn't often that I have to set an alarm. Mostly I just get up when I'm finished sleeping. Today I have an early appointment at the hospital to get my Covid-19 vaccination. Since it's also my week for chaplain rotation, I'll just make my rounds while I'm there. 

That's some good news against the darker background of political chaos that is going on in the US. I am still having a difficult time processing how so many people are following the obvious lies of their cult leader. Every four years we have a presidential election, and every four years someone wins and someone loses. There isn't election fraud. A win wasn't stolen. Candidate Biden received more popular votes and more electoral votes than candidate Trump. Period.
He lost.

That's the way elections work when sane, reasonable adults are involved.
But this crazy, narcissistic, whack job of a president has convinced his crazier, whack job followers that he was robbed, the election was rigged, and everyone else is lying - his own party's governors, his own appointed judges, the media, and most of his parties elected officials. He has stirred them into a violent mob that even other supporters of the president are opposed to and are quietly beginning to reconsider their own support.

To the Confederate flag waving, "You lost - get over it" crowd -- You lost. Get over it. Do like every other loser does -- go back, re-evaluate, make plans for the next election. Enough with the lies, the hate, and the violence. Follow the Constitution that you wave around like the Bible. (Okay, that's a bad example since you actually do follow the Constitution the same way you follow the Bible--not at all, but you get my drift, right?)  

Still hoping for better days ahead, but I fear there will be worse ones first.
Spread a little peace today. I could use it.

John

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Another Grey Day

It looks like another grey day in the Ozarks. I was outside (barefoot on the frost covered ground) a little earlier and the sun was trying to push through the clouds. There were brief glimpses of it through the upper layers of overcast when it looked more like a full moon in the day time rather than a bright sun. Perhaps it will manage to pierce through later today and bless us with a few moments of brightness. 

I sat here earlier today and didn't feel like writing. I spent some time online with my church group for Sunday morning online worship and followed that with a zoom coffee chat with some friends from another church group. The weight of the week and the oppression of the grey skies seems to be burdening many people. Though I am generally not one to feel the effects of the shorter winter days and less sunlight, I can see that the continuous overcast of the week has seemed to prolong the funk that I am currently in. Fortunately, there are a few cloudless days in the forecast this week.

I am looking forward to being able to serve as chaplain again this week. It is nice when my week rotates around again. I am also grateful that another church has come online as far as serving as an overnight cold weather shelter. I switched nights to serve this week in order to line up with an evening church council meeting. That way I can just move up the street a couple of blocks after the meeting and save a drive into Springfield (or maybe a motorcycle ride since there isn't any precipitation in the forecast).

How are you doing?
You may have had a week of sunshine, but it's possible that you've still experienced some grey days this week. My local area is still setting new records for daily covid cases and vaccinations still seem to be very slow in coming about.
You may be angry over the storming of the US Capitol or angry over the certification of the Electoral College votes. 

How are you doing?

I'm looking forward to the sunshine.
I think it will help.

John


Friday, January 08, 2021

TGIF

We made it to Friday!
Yeah, I know it's not supposed to be a big deal to a retired guy, but somehow it seems to be important that we survived the first week of 2021. 

In most ways, Week 1 of '21 seemed pretty much like the shitstorm that was 2020. 
Nearly 25,000 Covid-19 deaths in the US, but the political chaos and childish president still dominate the news. From the Georgia runoff to the electoral certification to the insurrection at the capitol, the news media has had its hands full and (along with our politicians) forgotten that people are dying out here.

As you can see, I still haven't made it out of my current depressive funk.
So...how about a little help?
Make it a Good Friday!
Tell me something good.
And none of that political BS like Biden will be president in 12 days or pandemic stuff like we've got a vaccine now. Give some good, personal, this is my life kind of stories.

Your mission (if you choose to accept it) is to lift my spirit; to restore my faith in humanity.
It's quite a task, I know. However, I am counting on your collective efforts to succeed.

Tell me something good!
Please.

John

 

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Blank Space

I've been staring at a blank page for some time now. I keep thinking that I need to write something about the crazy event that took place in the US Capitol yesterday. I think most of what can be said, has been said and I don't need to throw more gasoline on that fire.

I thought maybe I could offer some encouraging words as we move forward, but I don't know that I have it in me this morning. The fear, hatred, and self-centered attitudes that brought yesterday's insurrection about are so prevalent in this country that I expect there is more to come. So many seem to be okay with what happened that my mind is boggled.

I can't say that I'm disappointed with humanity. My expectations are pretty low. Maybe you find yourself in a similar funk today. I'm just going to chill, stay off of Facebook for the rest of the day, and maybe do something to make my corner of the world a little brighter. 
Eh, I think I'll wait for tomorrow to do anything. 

John

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Did you know...?

...why that fluffy chocolate bar bears the name 3 Musketeers?
It's original form (back in 1932) was three shareable pieces. Each easy break off piece was a different flavor - chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla. The Musketeer inspired slogan was, "All for one or one for a couple of others!"
Rationing during WW2 made it difficult to get the strawberry and vanilla flavoring and so it became (and remains) the chocolate covered fluffy chocolate bar that we know today.

John

Monday, January 04, 2021

The First Monday of '21

Good morning!
It is the first full week of 2021 and we have a beautiful sunrise in the Ozarks of Southwest Missouri!

 

Last night I finished my first book of the year. It was a fiction book by Chad Zunker. I've read a couple of his books last year and the book I just finished was Shadow Shepherd, the second in a series. I need to get back to a couple of non-fiction reads that I started last year and I need to get busy with re-reading my bible, too.

My Kindle app is a handy thing, and I usually look for deals on the fiction reads. This year I'm looking to be more supportive of local bookstores where I can and I recently ordered a couple of books from Pagination Bookshop in Springfield. Each book costs just a little more and takes a day or two longer to get here, but it is worth it to have the money going to a local, indie bookstore rather than to Amazon or other big retailer.

What are you reading today?
And what is your preferred medium -- books, e-reader, app?

Have a great first week of '21!

John



Sunday, January 03, 2021

Sunday Morning Thoughts

These are some thoughts I shared with our Student Venues today. I figured I'd post it here as well. 
Sorry about the font change. That's all a part of being a tech illiterate old guy.

It’s Party Time!


There weren’t a lot of parties in 2020. And the parties that did take place were usually condemned in the news as super-spreader events. But it’s 2021 now and hopefully we’ll soon be (but not yet) partying again.

If you were going to throw a big party when the all clear for big parties is given, who would you invite?

Imagine with me for a moment --
You are in charge of inviting people to the biggest party ever.
Money is no object.
This party will make all of the news outlets--even international news organizations will cover it because there will be satellite parties all around the world and the only people that get in are the ones that you invite.
The Host of the party (your boss) really wants everyone to attend.

After the great pandemic of 2020 where so many people struggled financially -- some lost homes or businesses, many went hungry or waited for hours in food lines -- this party will be an incredible event. There will be literally tons of free food and drinks, live music of all kinds, so many jobs will be available and everyone will benefit from the generosity of the Host.

Who do you invite?
Who do you leave off of the invitation list?

Jesus tells a story of a Great Host that throws a big party. Many of the people that were invited to the party decided they had more important things to do and didn’t show up at the designated party time. The Host really wanted this party to take place, so he told his workers to go into town and invite everybody to the party. They told everyone they encountered that their boss was throwing a party with free food and drinks, live music and lots of fun. Go and enjoy the generosity of The Host.
Even after the townspeople showed up, The Host knew there was still food and fun for more. The Host then told his workers to hit roads leading to and from town and compel travelers to come to the party. He wanted his celebration to be completely full.

I think this parable was really hard for the Jewish people of Jesus’s day to understand. Although they believed that their God was greater than all of the other gods and that their God truly was God -- they believed that God was their God alone, and they alone were God’s people. They really believed that salvation was for them and them alone. Why would God invite others to their party? 

Sometimes I think that we haven’t learned much from the stories of the bible. We often think like the Jews did and we place our own restrictions on who God should invite to his party.
We say that Jesus died for everyone and then we turn around and tell certain people that they’re going to hell because of their lifestyle choices, their addictions, their failures, etc.
What if it turns out that they are invited to the party, too?
What if we spend so much time and effort trying to keep certain people out of the party that we miss out on the celebration ourselves?

I think that when Jesus said that he came so we could have life and have it more abundantly, he was telling us to go have fun at the party!
When we realize that God has more than enough life for everyone; more than enough love for everyone, maybe we will stop trying to horde God’s love and keep it all to ourselves and the people that we think are deserving of it. Maybe we will finally realize that God loves the people we see as unloveable -- and we will love them, too.

What if it turns out that God really does want everyone to come to his party -- even the people that we don’t think deserve to be there? Would you still go? Would you party with the people you believe are unworthy of God’s mercy and love? Would you be like some of the people in the parable and find something else to do?

It sounds like a pretty incredible party.
I’m going. I hope to see you there
John

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Planning Ahead

How far do you plan ahead?

I have a couple of siblings that are planning to run half marathons later this year. That takes some advance planning and preparation.
A long trip (both long in distance and long in duration) takes some planning.
Deadline goals (lose 50 pounds by ...) take planning.

Here it is -- January 2nd, and I have no plans for the year.
The day is foggy, damp and already at the forecast high temperature of making it to the freezing point. That means I also have no real plans for the day.
I need to finish my student lesson so I can post it by tomorrow morning. It's nearly completed already.
I suppose we could take down Christmas decorations, but that's more Chris's decision than mine.
Hmmm...

I have a general plan for each day; drink coffee, write something for the blog (maybe), enjoy the day.
I've added something for 2021. It will take a while to make it part of the daily habit and may take a little effort and planning. I've posted it as my Facebook cover photo to remind myself.
This is it:



So I guess I need to plan on learning something and figuring out some way to be better than I was yesterday. I'll let you know how that works out.

How about you?
Any plans for '21?
Any plans for today?

John