What I Believe

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” John 3:16-18, from The Message

Love is LoveI am not a theologian. I am a believer. I don’t know what God thinks about the world as it is today, but I do know what I believe. I believe God loves everyone who calls upon his name. Everyone. I believe he looks at the heart not at the head, or the gender, or the ethnicity, or the sexual orientation of those he loves. I believe when God gave his only begotten son to die for the sins of all, he made no exception about which believers are covered by the gift of grace. I believe that my loving understanding of a just God accepts that he is Supreme and I am not. I believe when we are so busy finding reasons to judge and criticize, we miss out on life. Believe Out Loud gives an overview of the LGBT equality position from the Christian perspective of gay and lesbian believers. It’s the view you don’t typically see in the media. If politicians must have something to fight about, maybe they should focus on poverty, mental illness, literacy, and health care, and stay away from debating equality, which every citizen in the U.S. is guaranteed under the constitution.


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Chicken Anyone? Not For Me!

Chicken YellYou can apply nut job to my character profile. My ever so slight wackiness has to do with food generally, and chicken in particular. This if from someone who has included chicken and eggs in meal preparation since forever.

…And then I found out chickens eat meat. Meat. Chickens eat meat. They are carnivores. AND, they eat pretty much any kind of meat – frogs, snakes, other chickens. The most alarming meat they eat is – I looked it up on Google, so it has to be true – mice. Chickens. Eat. Mice. This is information I could have done without. I am phobic about mice. I have not been able to eat chicken or anything related to chicken since I found this out. Do you have any idea how many products have chicken, eggs, or chicken products in them? A lot.

I’ve tried to reason with myself.

Sharon, you’ve eaten chicken all your life. It is no different today than it was the last time you ate it. Chicken didn’t kill you then and it won’t kill you now.

And yet, every time I lift something to my mouth that has eggs or chicken in it, I see a mouse tail trailing out of the beak of a chicken. I KNOW. It’s completely unreasonable. My husband says I’ll get over it. Maybe, but at the moment poultry of any kind is off the menu in our house.

To make matters worse, I just found out through a “Reader’s Digest” article entitled 50 Things Food Manufacturers Won’t Tell You, that the bacteria responsible for sourdough bread originally came from – GET THIS – rodent feces. Excuse me? Rodent feces?

I can live with crushed bugs – barely – providing the red color in some products. I can accept – marginally – that it’s okay for manufacturers to have up to 30 insect parts per 100 grams in peanut butter. (Before I read the article, I had just bought a 28-ounce container of JIF!) I can believe without question that labeling on products is not to be trusted. I can’t abide the idea of putting MY FAVORITE BREAD OF ALL TIME down my gullet knowing it’s “starter” involved rat shit. Sorry. Just can’t do it.

So here I am in my food fog of not knowing what to eat, because let’s face it, as my dad used to say, “If you don’t eat the food they say is bad for you, you run the risk of starving to death.” At the moment I’m eating fruits, veggies, nuts, and grains. Turns out those are all pretty good for me, so I guess that’s what I’ll be living on for now, unless of course I start obsessing about genetic changes made to seeds to enhance growth and longevity, or about the pesticides used to ward off bugs, fungi, and plant diseases of varying kinds.

Oh, Lord above, I’m going to starve to death!

I would love to say this is all tongue in cheek, but I just threw away my last loaf of sourdough bread, and I haven’t knowingly eaten anything chicken-related in nearly a month. That jar of JIF may never see the light of day.

I know, nut job, right?

Happy eating!

(Author’s note: I wrote this in June 2016 and I’m back to normal – whatever that is! Chicken and eggs are back on the Vander Meer household menu.)
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Walk in faith

Walk in faith For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17

My life is not easy, but then I don’t know anyone whose life is easy. The outward person, the one we see every day, bears scars we will never know about. They hurt in silence. I will not tell you my pain; it is no greater or more significant than yours. I will tell you my secret to peace and joy, which is no secret at all. God so loved the world that he gave his son that I might be saved. I believe that. It is not an idle promise; it is God’s clarity beyond any concept we are able to grasp. It is the gift of grace. Despite our flaws and failings, God loves us. He sees our strengths and weaknesses, and helps us build on both. This gift of grace is available to all. When we call upon God He will hear. He will answer. He will comfort. In this truth I find comfort. God loves each of us for who we are. How amazing is that. (Photo: Graphic Stock)

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Memorial Day Remembrance: My Hero

Memorial DayMy dad served in WWII. He was in the Navy and part of clean up crews on beaches like Okinawa, where body parts would turn up when bulldozers swept across the sands. I think he was a Seabee, but I’m not sure. Dad didn’t talk about his time in the service. He was a country boy from Texas where the most brutal thing he encountered was pulling a cotton sack and doing farm work. He didn’t want to talk about the war or to relive finding all those body parts.

When he was discharged, we were in Phoenix, Ariz., with my grandparents (Dad’s folks), and from all accounts I wasn’t too happy when this interloper showed up. I was born when he was overseas. By the time he arrived in my life my older brother, my mom, and I were a happy little family. Right away he started taking up Mom’s valuable time leaving less for us. Reportedly at about age two I said I hoped the neighbor’s house he’d just walked into would burn down with him in it. I’m repeating what I was told, I certainly don’t recall saying that.

My father suffered from bouts of depression most of his adult life. Friends and co-workers never knew that. He kept it bottled up. He did have a short fuse, but he never took his anger out on any of us. I wonder now if he had undiagnosed PTSD. Back then that wasn’t even a point of discussion. Man up, get back to work, earn a living, support your family. No crying! Men don’t cry! Except that he did, in the silence of our home and only in the presence of my mother. But, as he used to say, little pitchers have big ears, and at least once I heard him.

There are no pictures of Dad in his Navy uniform, or mementos of his years away from family and familiar surroundings. There is one photo of him and his brother with their heads together showing them in Navy garb, their sailor hats at a jaunty angle. I have looked high and low for that photo and cannot find it. Dad’s younger brother joined the Navy not long after Dad did. I think in his naivete he believed they would be serving together. That didn’t happen.

Until she got pregnant with me, Mom was a Rosie the Riveter, or at least she worked in the shipyards. One toddler – my brother – and another baby on the way sent her home to Arizona to live with family.

I’m proud of my dad’s service, and my mom’s as well. They did what they thought was right. Both were patriotic to the core. When my dad returned home, there was no fanfare, flag waving, or banners. It was just us – reunited strangers who became a family. My dad called me his princess, and I thought there was no one braver, stronger, or more faithful. As a man he stood for what he believed in. As a father, he taught us kids right from wrong and loved us with every fiber of his being.

I don’t know what heroes are made of, but I do know Dad was my mine. I wish I had let him know that more often.


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Encourage one another…

And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  1 Thessalonians 5:14

EncouragementIt is good to encourage others. By doing so, we are encouraged as well. When we reach out to help someone who is struggling, we understand that at some point we, too, will need help. Find the good in your neighbor. Look for the talents in your friends. Tell someone how much you appreciate them. Draw strength from being patient and understanding. Kindness builds character.

You never know when your encouragement will make a difference in the life of another person. Anne Mansfield Sullivan did not give up on Helen Keller. She encouraged her, instructed her, and brought discipline into her life. She gave Helen hope, which put an end to her unruly behavior and gave her a future. Helen overcame her limitations and became world famous for her advocacy for the blind. “We are never really happy until we try to brighten the lives of others,” she wrote. Keller understood perhaps better than most that encouraging someone else has a personal benefit to the one who gives it.


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