Who are “They” Anyway?

We all know people that trumpet their woes in life.  Shirking personal responsibility, fault is placed elsewhere as these people puff out their dissatisfaction with this or that circumstance, accusing the faceless, nameless “they.”

“They cheated me!”

“Landlords are unfair, they are all alike!”

“They lied to me!”

“They will be sorry they messed with me!”

“No one at that place cares; they are just after my money.”

And on and on it goes; the heart expressions of those with the mentality of a victim.  Their sense of reality says everyone is out to get the poor, misunderstood innocent in this evil and heartless world.

The victim mentality is forever seeking an adversary; looking for a fight; determined to validate the unfairness upon which their reality rests.  In recent years, this character trait seems to be more and more pervasive.  Victims make excuses. Responsibility is avoided by magnifying imaginary blame, and by pointing fingers at the nameless, faceless ‘they.’  And, it becomes a habit.

Lots of people jump into the victim box unconsciously.  So addictive is the focus on perceived injustice and the foot-stomping adrenalin produced by the same, that victim-hood becomes a literal ‘drug of choice.’  This just makes me want to stand on something tall and shout to the whole wide world “You are not a victim!”

For in truth, the imagined ‘they’ so targeted for blame are actually just other people doing their best to succeed.  ‘They’ have faces and families; ideas, plans, hearts and souls.  ‘They’ have decisions to make, and sometimes those decisions are difficult.  Here is an example:

Recently, we made a purchase.  We paid half down and financed the remainder with a promised 0% interest.  Next, ‘they’ wanted our checking account information so the remaining payments could be automatically withdrawn.  This is a practice in which we never participate, so a phone call was made requesting a coupon payment book.  ‘They’ said that would be fine but would add a 2% interest on the balance.  At that point, listen, at that point…I had a decision to make.  Was I going to puff and snort, pay the 2% and accuse ‘them’ to any listening ear for the next six months?  The victim mentality would have done that.  Or, was I going to gently but firmly stand my ground?

“That isn’t going to work,” I heard myself say. “We do not participate in automatic withdrawal with any company, and we also will not be paying a 2% interest.”  My tone was soft, kind and determined.  I was not starting a fight, looking for an adversary, or displaying an ugly spirit.  The truth was simply spoken, and the ball passed to the ‘they’ on the other end of the call.  We tossed the ball back and forth a few times as ‘they’ stated their position, and I restated ours.  Always my gentle but firm tone was maintained.  Then ‘they’ said, “Let me see what I can do and I will call you right back.”  The coupon book is in the mail, the worker went home that night satisfied that he had had a good day at work, and we will pay 0% interest on the remainder of the purchase.

What is more important is the fact that no one was victimized.  No one walked away with an ax to grind and adrenalin pumping.  We both won.  The issue was solved for us, and ‘they’ felt satisfied in their customer service.  All is well.  Here is another example:

As people go through life working for others, they often have no concept of what it takes to own and manage a business.  Having never made a payroll, some employees are quick to blame employers for any transgression; real or imagined.  When payroll taxes go up and less money appears on their check, it is the evil employer who is ‘cheating.’

Some employees do not realize the cost just to stay in business.  The insurance and paperwork involved; the taxes and regulations imposed, and the responsibility for the health and safety of each worker falls on the shoulders of the ‘they’ that sign the front side of paychecks.  Employers are constantly looking over their shoulders to make sure every i is dotted and every t is crossed.  Running a business is a challenge and a huge responsibility and cannot succeed without loyal and talented employees.  But there must also be an element of trust so no one feels like the victim. This mutual trust is a treasure born of mutual respect and effort; and comes from a heart of love, not a mind set on accusations.

The difference between a victim mentality and the mind of a victor is as stark as the difference between light and dark.  Each of us must decide to be victorious.  Accusing the faceless, nameless ‘they’ is easy.  Assuming responsibly for our own behavior, now there’s the proof of character!  Maturity derived from the soul-searching intent to give love, respect and trust makes us all victorious.

 

‘Grandma’ is Not an Adjective

‘Grandma’ Is Not an Adjective

 “Oh no, dear, my hands are too old now…”

“Please try, Grandma, please play for me again…”

She was ninety years old that day in the retirement center.  How I loved her! All of my life was filled with her piano music because that is how she made a living during those dark days of the great depression, and that is how she calmed her mind and made her granddaughter smile as I grew.  My Grandma, sustained by rugged faith in God, weathered incredible storms in her long life.  The youngest of twelve children, she came out west with her family in the early 1900’s.  Her husband made peanut brittle in a big copper kettle that stands proudly in my living room today.  He sold it along with tamales and nickel hamburgers to all who would stop along the Everett-Bothell highway.  And on Friday and Saturday, after dinner, Grandma would play in the honky-tonks and make five dollars a night.  She loved to tell me these stories over and over again.

 Grandma bore three children, two boys and a girl.  Her daughter was my mother.  From the time I first saw her beautiful face; my Grandma had a smile for me.  She loved with abandon and there is no memory of complaint.  I could do no wrong in her eyes, and that day I asked her to play for me, she, as always, obliged.

 Slowly she bent to pull the bench away and I quickly leaned to help.  My Grandma sat at the piano one more time before she died and she played for me with stiff fingers a melody punctuated by knobby knuckles.  She missed several notes and struck incomplete cords but the music rang through the years of my heart like the world’s best symphony.

Her piano rests in my family room now, silent and out of tune.  How I wish I could see her strong back once more shadow the keys and her ready smile beam as the bogey-wogey rolled.  You are greatly missed, dear lady, and even though you have been gone these many years, tears flow as I remember you.  No, dear reader, ‘Grandma’ is not an adjective!

When I was so little, and wept for long hours for my missing daddy, it was Grandma who held me and rocked me against her beating heart until my sobs were quiet.  She knew my hurt.  She hurt with me, and we were bound together with closeness so precious that no thing could ever compare.  Sometimes I just sit and touch the keys on her piano and remember, and weep.  As I grew, so did her love for me.  She warned me to be a good girl, but I wasn’t.  I didn’t see her often enough to hold me together, and the hurt won.  As the years unwound, I fought back my loneliness with teenage rebellion and wildness. Then Grandpa died way too early.  Now, I had NO man in my life at all.  But, Grandma came to live with us! What joy!

 “Honey, we just need to pray,” were her favorite words to me.  And when only distance from home would calm the craziness and everyone wrote me off for lost, it was the prayers of Grandma that held me by a thread to sanity.  Somewhere I have a few letters she wrote me during those months of running.  Always positive and full of love, her words guided me back to a faith I barely remembered.  She always spoke of God.  Her prayers and her love of the Bible formed a net that caught my falling soul.  No, my friend, ‘Grandma” is not an adjective!

 She married badly, I think now, just to relieve my mom of the responsibility of caring for her.  Then, when they moved to a city to the north, I helped her load the van.  She would watch his moves carefully, and when he was out of ear-shot she would quietly slip a treasure into my hand and say, “Here, darling, put this in your car quickly.”  He was a selfish and greedy man that broke her heart many times; the extent of which I knew only after her passing.

 It was then my mother told me how he would make her buy her own food from her meager monthly check, and how he took her name off the checking account one time when she got sick.  I guess that day she secretly gave me some of her treasures, I knew things really were not right with this man.  Had I known fully, perhaps I could have made a difference.  But, alas, regrets pile themselves higher and higher when beloveds pass away.

Through it all, you never heard her complain.  I just remember her smile and cheerful ways that always encouraged me and all of us.  How I miss her!  Interestingly, when I attended the funeral for this selfish man she married, there was only one other person in the room besides his equally evil daughter and her strange son.  I was glad to be there though because she would have wanted me to be there to show respect.  That is the kind of woman that influenced me so deeply.  “Grandma” is surely not an adjective.

She held my two baby sons and watched them grow.  Then she got to hold our little daughter and know her for a couple of years before she left us forever.  I gave our daughter her name in the middle to keep the legacy alive, and vicariously forced the child to master the piano in her honor.  And master it she has!  Grandma would be so very happy to hear how lovely her great granddaughter plays.  Perhaps she hears from heaven.  I do hope so.

Recently, while shopping together, my daughter who bears this legacy frowned at a choice I made in clothing: “No, Mother, that is very ‘Grandma’ looking.” All the tender moments with Grandma flashed in my mind.  All the happy memories of her laughter and her love froze me in place.  She taught me to play poker and made me butter and sugar sandwiches.  She made my bed for me so I could go out to play.  She spoiled me and prayed for me.  She loved me when no one else did, and she listened and believed and gave me faith in my storms of life.  The remark was not intentionally offensive but I wanted to shout, “’Grandma’ is NOT an adjective.”

Grandma is an angel I hope to hug again one day.  Thank you for loving me, dear Grandma and until that reunion over there, I hope to be a little like you to the grandchildren I adore down here. 

 

 

 

November in the Sun

Greetings…GREETINGS; need to almost hollar over the sound of the waves. Ahhhh, there is just something wonderful about the rolling surf against the boundry of sand set by Our Creator. We are Blessed to be warmed and rocked in this lovely place.

‘Big thinks’ happen here. Plans are made, prayer is special, and the love we share swells some more. Hubby has relaxed and read four or five books by the sea. I have wallowed in the Epistles, and spoken very little so as to not disturb the infinite crack and russeling of the waves.

Tomorrow we return to wind, rain, work and reality. And that is good. Mostly we have decided to increase our consumption of raw fruits and veggies in the coming months. We already eat about a 50% RAW fare; but will now ramp it up to 80%. If anyone out there is interested in our method, please ask and we can share mutual ways and results.

Our third book will be puiblished soon. And, Lord willing, several more will follow in rapid succession. Kids are wonderful, Church is amazing, and God is Good. May his arms hold you.

Sarcastic Bantering

 

Perhaps you grew up in a home where sarcastic bantering and hurtful words were cloaked beneath a shroud of ‘just good natured funning.’  Perhaps your sisters or brothers got a good giggle out of critical comments and the pattern was set that life revolves around sparring with words, just to get one up on the other guy.

Families often take on this life style not out of bitterness or resentment, but by tolerance and ignorance on the part of parents, generation after generation.  When children are allowed to take their frustrations out on each other with hurtful words and pretending a joke, they become adults with a tragic lack of communication skills, and homes are destroyed.

Women especially, who then become wives and mothers, repeat the behavior, driving away their good husbands and bringing sadness and destruction upon their own heads.  A man does not need a sparring partner.  He needs a wife in his corner encouraging and cheering him on as he presses to excellence in his life’s work as provider and protector.

He needs respect.  He needs a helpmeet, not a competitor.  A man will never out spar a woman with words.  It is not in his nature to be cruel with words, and when forced to do so out of self-defense, he loses self-respect and becomes vulnerable.

Listen to me!  The world is full of unscrupulous women just waiting for the precious life.  They have all the right words of affirmation to pour on the parched and cracked soil of your man’s heart thirsty for high admiration.  He wants that admiration from his wife; but if you refuse to give it, the devil will be sure to send someone who will.  This is how so many families are shattered and so many children left lonely and destroyed.  Never make a joke about ‘another woman’ lest you bring this tragedy into your reality.  Faithfulness is a virtue most men possess naturally when they are happy at home. Make them happy, not sorry! Watch your words carefully and apologize often.

Is it really worth it to be funny at someone else’s expense?  Is “just kidding” a justification for meanness in your home? Sarcastic bantering destroys the family.  It is not funny.  Children suffer with eating disorders, illness and restlessness and they are afraid and insecure.  They feel the hurt careless words inflict like barbed arrows filling their little ears and hearts with confusion and pain. They feel helpless.  Stop it!

Furthermore, the discontentment of a mother prone to sarcastic bantering opens her up to the wiles of the devil and robs her of her rightful place as the spiritual pillar of her home.  The devil hates kindness and gentleness and encouraging words of affirmation.  But people thrive on these positive words.  Men must feel admired by their wives; and in turn, women will receive the deep love they crave.  Stop complaining.  Be content with all you have, and tell others how happy you are.

Be kind in the family.  Speak high words of respect and love, and remember that the woman sets the tone in the home. The responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders, fair lady.  You are the keeper of your home!  Be his lover, his friend, his greatest fan.  Let the babies see the depth of respect and love they will copy in their own lives.  Stop the sparring and harsh, bitter words that hurt everyone so much.

Speak positive, uplifting and joyous words; for a merry heart is the best medicine.  Be content, stop complaining and demanding things to be better or different than they are.  Find the good in your man and your children and your home and be ye thankful.  This is how we fight the good fight of faith you know.  It is through kindness and respect in the home and in the church that we gain victory over darkness.

Ladies, talk to Jesus every day and he will help you be the woman of your husband’s dreams and the mother whose children rise up to call her blessed.