When I started this blog a few years ago, it was to honor my dad and to express my grief in a positive way. I discovered on my journey new insights to my own self.
Our Dad didn't use the word accountability but he taught us life lessons in many different ways. We learned to treat a horse like we would want to be treated and that hard work wouldn't kill us.
There was a certain freedom in following the rules that he and our mother set down for our household. We knew exactly where we stood, the consequences of disobedience and the rewards of our labors.
Dad was not a perfect sort of person. He could go too far in his teasing or get very stubborn about how things should be done. And he raised his voice quite a bit. Mom said it kept him from getting ulcers. We never got ulcers ourselves, so the formula must have been a good one.
All of us kids experienced basking in his approval and pride at one time or another. He wasn't a huggy-feely type guy, but you could always count on a broad grin if you did good.
Our heart is a necessary tool in keeping us alive physically. And our heart is what keeps us aware of our emotions particularly the gold standard of love.
I don't believe that we access that love nearly often enough. We put stipulations on our love and sometimes unreasonable demands.
Everyone matters in this world, the secret is how we can convey that they matter to us without letting all that debris color our conversations and hearts.
It is a tough mean world out there some days and we seem to be bombarded with the scary and negative stuff. I have been trying to wear a mental hard hat to keep the fall-out from damaging my more positive outlook on life.
Just imagine what America would be like if we couldn't see color for 24 hours. Would we still have something to fight about or insist that only one color matters over the other?
I wonder what would happen if all those people who are determined to make someone unhappy, suddenly found themselves unable to talk.
Can we burn enough books or destroy flags to erase history so that some people will feel more comfortable about the mistakes that have happened in the past? I don't think so.
But none of these solutions would be long term, if we couldn't have a change of heart.
Our dad and I had what I would call a huge softening of the heart in 2001. Many angry and bitter words were said for several years and we couldn't seem to get past the hurt that they caused.
It took some mighty prayer on the behalf of fierce prayer warriors before it got resolved. We wasted 13 years of not speaking to each other.
But it was God who created a new heart in each of us. No one else could bridge that gap, ever. And the most beautiful thing happened. We melted those angry hurtful years away with one huge hug. It was truly a miracle!
I will be forever grateful that we had several years after that moment to enjoy each other's company.
And because of that experience, I try to keep my fences mended as much as possible. I am not always successful, but I do try.
I don't have any great words of advice to give anyone, just a sampling of my own personal experiences. Too many of our hearts have been broken and bruised in this life. We can't make it all fair and balanced by legislation, bullying or changing the rules of a civilized society.
Instead, I suggest that it is with a sincere heart, we try to start over with those who we feel have caused us pain or angst. To create in ourselves a more loving heart. To avoid those who want to continually perpetuate the notion of prejudice. To recognize greed and self-aggrandizement when we see it displayed.
There are evil men who are pulling strings in the background of this scary world for their own design. When we can refuse to be their puppets and garner a measure of faith in God or a higher power, we lessen the power of hate, anger and indifference.
We can always accept the beauty of a person's heart without taking on the baggage of their choices in life or politics. We can see ways to nurture our own corner of the world and it a better place without expecting everyone to drop what they are doing to fall in line.
My very good friend Susan, would always say "Choose Jesus". It wasn't a trite thing to her, because she fully understood how liberating it was to move out of the craziness of this world because of that choice. To understand a love and a heart that was beyond any of our imaginations.
I long for her hugs and wise words. But most of all I am so very grateful for the example that she set for everyone in her daily life. Hundreds of people came to her visitation not because she died so young, but to tell the family stories of how she touched their lives.
If I could have a thimble full of that precious gift, I would feel so blessed right now. I can hear her laughter and see her warm welcoming smile. She loved people, dogs and serving God. She looked past many things and found value in everyone that she met.
So many people have touched my heart. Some of them were strangers and I never saw them again or even met them in person. However, Dad was my teacher in life growing up and Susan was my adult mentor. Each of them made a huge impact upon my heart and I miss them terribly.
Hug someone today and do something in honor of your loved ones. Keep safe this holiday weekend.