Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Appreciative Attitude

     I don't have many prophesies, but I did have one the other day. Jaren had two events coming up, a Thursday scout meeting (with a rare fun/educational activity) and a Saturday afternoon birthday party. We'd already planned that I'd take him to the latter, so I asked Deanne to take him to the former.
     She groaned and went into a huff.
     I said, We've been putting him off for awhile. I think he deserves it (meaning we had skipped scout camps and meetings because we were too tired or busy or didn't feel up to it.)
     She pursed her lips.
     “Will you take him?”
     She didn't answer.
     “How's about I take him and you can go to the picnic so I don't have to?  (We'd planned for her to go shopping while Jaren and I were at the picnic since she enjoys shopping with the kids and Braden needed new clothes for his upcoming job.)
     “I'll take him,” she said, not pleased.
     Shortly after, while brushing my teeth, it came to me so I told her when I'd finished, “I'm not sure if this is a prophesy or not. Maybe it's just me. But it might be from God. One day you're going to look back at all this and realize these were the best years of your life—these past fifteen or twenty years or so. You'll think, That was great, taking Jaren and Pene around. Seeing them grow. Doing those things. Why didn't I enjoy it more then? That can change—your attitude. It's your choice.
     “Same's true with me. Whether at work, with family, or at church. Everything's the same. They're all blessings. I don't always feel that way, though. But I do want to try to enjoy them more while they last. Sighing and groaning's not going to help.”

     About Branden's new job—it's a temporary job at an established eatery. He'll have a probationary period with potential option to renew. They'll train him in most front-end (customer service) assignments with possible back-end kitchen training if he continues. He can choose to work only on weekends and the location is close enough to bus to and from school and home. His grades will have to hold or we'll pull him out, I told him. But because he's not much into academics and struggles to make As and Bs in mid-level difficulty classes, the traditional four-year college plan may not be his best option. He loves cooking, so who knows?—maybe he'll become a cook or restaurant manager one day in, say, ten to fifteen years? (The current manager appears to be in his late fifties to early sixties.) We feel it's a great opportunity for him to learn responsibility and gain confidence from holding and earning pay in a real job.
     Or he could learn that he hates manual work, customer service, or the food industry and that white-collar jobs are the way to go and thus begin giving his all in academics for the first time ever.
     Either way, we're hopeful he'll learn something (high quality standards, diligence, taking initiative, etc.) from the job. Oh yeah, best of all, he sought the job on his own initiative. (I did tell him months earlier we'd be open to him getting a job with weekend hours that didn't interfere with his studies.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Perspective—Part II

     The people at a church we've been visiting for the past month or so have been so warm and welcoming—it's been such a blessing.
     Pene has virtually no social activity outside of family, church, and school (where she's a member of the cross-country team and orchestra), so I asked her during summer vacation if she wanted to invite friends over for dinner and a sleep-over and she said, Yes. She has good, close friends at school that she hangs out with but neither of the two she invited seemed interested or came over. Bummer!
     So when a female doctor at the church we're attending asked if Braden and Pene could join the youth group (including her daughter) ice skating, sharing dinner at a restaurant, and sleeping over at her house, we were thrilled and honored as we aren't really part of the church yet, especially since everything would be gratis—the church would cover the costs. Braden couldn't go due to a prior JROTC commitment, but it was perfect because Pene loves skating, is still getting to know the youth (four girls for this event), and needs these types of stretching experiences outside her comfort zone as most everything social she's done in recent years has been with long-time friends or at least with Braden at her side, which is a switch from her early years as a toddler/kid when she made friends readily, even at parks just playing on the same playground set (and I'd like to see more of that outgoing friendliness in her again).
     We were a bit concerned that she might not feel comfortable with the sleep over at a strange house with almost-strangers, but by the time the group finished dinner and skating and we called to see if she wished to stay or come home, she asked Deanne, “Can I spend the night?—this during the drive over to the house. The doctor reported to us at church the next morning that the girls had gotten along fine and her daughter said, “Pene's not at all quiet,” meaning once she felt comfortable, her shyness melted and she talked plenty.
     Compare all these wonderful, real, and personal blessings to the presidential politics saturating the news.  In all probability, Donald or Hillary will be the next president. Are these really the best two candidates our vast, diverse country has to offer? No doubt they're well known celebrities, but does that make them the best qualified? And resumes' aside, what about the all-important intangibles? I think Americans want and deserve a forthright and trustworthy president. Perhaps I'm being idealistic, but I could name a dozen people (as I bet you could) who'd better fit the bill because of truly honest, decent, and irreproachable characters, with unimpeachable integrities, who would always put the good of the populace first and set aside personal feelings or gain, politics, big money donors, and powerful lobbyists.
     Alas, our country's ruling class continues to devalue the populace, it seems to me. What has it done to end gun violence, end ceaseless wars, fix Social Security and Medicaid, rebalance income inequality and the budget, enact meaningful campaign finance reform, eliminate poverty and homelessness (come on, we're the wealthiest country in the world's history), ensure affordable health care and housing for all, and restrengthen and expand the middle class? Not much it seems, not in decades. What has it been doing all these years? That's why I have zero hope for this world.
     But I do have complete hope and trust in God and his kingdom, for he has always come through for me without fail. The next president may enact changes that have slight, occasional effects on my life, good or bad, while God always has touched my life in huge, over-sized positive ways, day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute, saving my life (I have serious health conditions), granting me peace through trials, teaching me patience and perseverance, and bestowing countless blessings on me. For that and all things of His world, I am eternally grateful and hopeful.