Sunday, June 28, 2015

My apologies.... and a warning.

I posted an inflammatory status on Facebook yesterday (actually two, but who's counting? lol).  My husband sweetly and gently pointed out that I may not be helping matters... causing more divisiveness than unity.... then he gave me a kiss, a pat on the head and then headed off all by himself to deliver water to the homeless.  Have I mentioned that I married an angel??

Anyway.... as I gave thought to his words, I realized he was right.   I wasn't helping unify anyone or anything, and that was wrong of me.  So to my friends who ended up coming on my FB page and getting into conflict with others who didn't agree with them because I starting an inflammatory thread with my status..... I apologize.  TRULY.

Please don't misunderstand me.... I don't regret what I said.  I still stand by my words.  But in my frustration, I didn't think through how my words might come across and it back-fired.  I guess that is one of the dangers about social media.... many times the "tone" or intent of your words doesn't come across accurately.  Misunderstandings abound.  Nothing gets accomplished and no one walks away feeling satisfied.  That isn't healing or helpful.... so again.... I apologize.  

Now here is my warning:  I'm on a journey for truth.  I'll admit I'm questioning things I have been taught all my life.... and things I have believed for years.  So far in my journey, as I have looked for answers to my questions, some of my old beliefs have been reinforced... but many have been turned upside down and all around.   So, if any of you has a low tolerance for someone in search for a better connection with God, someone who is desperately trying to learn how to love people better, and even learning to love myself a bit better in the process, you might want to hit the "UNFRIEND" button now.  Or at least the "UNFOLLOW" option which one of my children already said they have done!  LoL

will try my best not to post inflammatory statuses.... and I BEG of you all, if you choose to comment on anything I post, please be respectful with everyone else's opinions, especially if they don't line up with yours.

A friend of mine, Randy Smith, posted something this morning that I thought NAILED what is going on in our society right now.  We have lost the ability to have EMPATHY for anyone who doesn't see things the way we see them.  They suddenly become "the enemy".  Everyone is on the defensive, feeling their "rights" are being trampled upon (see my earlier post on June 24th for my feelings on your "rights") and the conversations are getting louder and meaner with each passing day.    I'm going to try my very best not to add to the noise that gets us nowhere on social media... but I don't want to stand by and not say anything when I feel strongly about an issue.

So... I'm going to speak up more.  But I will try to use my voice as a tool for unity somehow instead of causing more division.  Matthew 5:9 says:  "Blessed are the peacemakers"... and The Message translation of that verse says this:

 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family."

I truly DO want to be a peacemaker.... but I beg you all to offer me grace if I somehow cause any strife while I search for my own peace of mind, and peace with my God.  Thank you for your understanding... and for all your loving comments towards me, even the ones who don't agree with me, but are passionate about their TRUTH.  I don't have all the answers... and I know I never will.... but I'm seeking.... and searching.... come along if you dare.  :-)

Love you ALL....
M

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

N.B. Forrest and the Confederate Flag.....

So here are my thoughts on the NBF statues and the Confederate flag flyin'.....

In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul is addressing whether or not it's ok to eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols.  He tells them that eating meat or not eating meat isn't going to make any difference towards their salvation.  BUT.... he says in vs. 9:

"Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak."

Paul is bascially saying this:  "You know, you have the freedom as a Christian to eat whatever you want, but if it's going to confuse someone else, or offend someone else, then maybe you should just choose to put their feelings over your 'rights'"

Again... Paul reinforces this in 1 Corinthians chapter 10:23:

23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others."

 I keep hearing about our "rights" being taken away, but Jesus didn't walk around claiming his "rights", did he?  On the contrary, it seems to me that Jesus was constantly and lovingly giving up any "rights" he had for the sake of others.

My belief is this:  If that flag is hurting our fellow Americans.... if it's offending people we claim to love as Christian brothers and sisters, then just do the loving thing and TAKE IT DOWN.  Just because we have the "right" to fly the flag, doesn't mean we should do it at the cost of hurting people with it.  It just doesn't make sense to me.  Why would we intentionally want to continue to cause pain to those that it offends???     Same goes for the NBF statues.  

Seems like a no-brainer to me.    Am I missing something here?   Feel free to enlighten me.  I know some of you are dying to.  :-)  

Love y'all.... M

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Perspective

I haven't blogged in a long time.  I guess I just haven't felt like I had much to say.  Sometimes, it just seems best to be quiet and listen for awhile, and that's what I've been trying to do more of lately... especially since Dad passed away.   I've been trying to listen to God's voice for guidance and perspective.

I was pretty exhausted after the funeral.  Since Dad took his last fall on Christmas Eve, our lives had been pretty centered around taking care of him.  After he passed, there was a huge void in my schedule, my life, my heart.  But it was hard to really slow down and grieve because there was much business to take care of.  Packing up and moving all his belongings.... going through his things, deciding what to throw away, what to GIVE away, and what to keep... all of that was physically AND emotionally exhausting.  Closing out all his bank accounts, credit cards, etc...ended up being mounds of paperwork, which took a lot of time.  I still haven't gotten to all my thank you notes yet.... (SORRY, they are COMING!) and I still have a garage full of things and papers to go through.  I have heard it takes a year to finish all the work it takes to close out a parents estate when the last one passes.  I believe it.

I was lucky to have an understanding employer, who let me sub out a few gigs and take some time before jumping right back on the road.  My first trip back out with CC was to Japan.  Some thought I was crazy to go, but I truly LOVE Japan and I had a feeling it would be a healing trip for me.  Little did I know what God had planned for my time in Japan.  MY plans were to be out exploring the Japanese cities I was visiting, but all that changed when I came down with a fever and bad respiratory virus.  No exploring for Moi.  I was stuck in my hotel room everyday, taking meds and staying on vocal rest so that I could get through the show each night.  But just like it always works when God's plans are different than mine, it turned out to be a wonderful thing.  I had a lot of solitude/quiet time which allowed me to cry a lot over losing Dad, pray a lot for God's guidance, and read a lot of inspiring books and blogs that I had been wanting to read but kept putting on the backburner.   It truly was healing in more ways than one.

I saw this quote the other day:



Man... that is SO TRUE.  Too often I dig my heals in and refuse to change my perspective on something that I am convinced I am right about.  But lately, I've been seeing a lot about "God's perspective" and I've been asking Him to help me see things through His eyes, not mine.  From His perspective, not mine.   It's not always easy, because I struggle with what I want to be truth.. what I have believed for so long.... and sometimes, when you have to admit that maybe you've been seeing things from your perspective, or a human-perspective that has been ingrained inside you by well-meaning but flawed people, or by cultural allegiances that you haven't ever questioned, it's very hard to let go of old beliefs and move into Jesus territory.

 I think the whole "WWJD" fad thing is old news in our society now (I mean, do they even SELL those bracelets anymore?), but I'm trying very hard these days to keep that in mind when approaching people, situations, and in conversations.   Even though Christianity as a religion is declining in numbers in the USA, people still seem to have relatively good feelings when questioned about JESUS... they just don't have good feelings about CHRISTIANS.  Hmmmmm....... that can only mean one thing....

..... and that is......????  

Anyone?   Anyone?   ..... Bueller?    :-)

Talk among yourselves.   I'll be back.....

Love y'all....... M













Upcoming shows... June 5th & 6th

I'm SO excited to be heading back down to Alpharetta, GA next week to play ITR with my friend James Casto and Tony Arata!   If you live in this Atlanta area, come see us!   The shows at Chukkar Farms are always memorable evenings... bring a picnic or a bottle of wine,  and enjoy stories and songs under the stars with us!    For more information:   www.HomeByDark.com




Thursday, March 26, 2015

Happy Birthday Dad....

He would have turned 92 today.





I got a card in the mail from his dentist yesterday that said, "Happy Birthday Manuel!  We hope it's the best birthday ever!".... obviously, they hadn't heard he had passed away before mailing it.  At first I was sad, until Mike said.. "He IS having the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!"  -- and just like in all things, my husband was right.  :-)

I wrote a few words about my Dad that I had Bro. Tom read at Dad's funeral.  Several have asked me for a copy of that letter.  After much thought, I decided to publish it today... on his birthday.  

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!  I hope you get lots of cake and ice cream.....with extra ice cream. :-)

My Dad…..

I was incredibly blessed to have been raised by Manuel Ramirez.  Being able to call him “My Dad” was such a gift.   I don’t remember him ever raising his voice to me or being cross with me.  Yes, he would correct me when I was doing wrong, but never in a harsh or demeaning way.  It was always in the gentlest of ways…. and his way with me always made me want to do the “right” thing, just so I could make him proud.  

He wasn’t a tall man, (5’ 7” on a good day) - but I always looked up to him.  He got up every day and dressed up and showed up with a smile on his face.  He was a teacher.  A great teacher.  I’ve had so many of his students reach out to me during the last few years and ask me about him.  They always said, “Dr. Ramirez was my favorite teacher… he didn’t just teach us Spanish.  He taught us about life.”   

Well, he certainly was teaching ME until his last breath.  Although his frail body was failing him and it must’ve been such an effort just to get out of bed every morning, his true spirit of kindness, consideration and dignity never waned.   One of his caregivers recently told me, “Dr. Ramirez is the sweetest man I’ve ever worked for.  He never fails to tell me “thank you” no matter how small a task i do for him.  And he always says, “please” when asking me to do something for him. I just adore him!”    Several days later, I heard the nurse at St. Thomas hospital as she instructed the ambulance drivers, “Be extra careful with him.  He is a gentle and sweet, sweet man!”   Then I heard those same ambulance drivers telling the nurses at hospice as they dropped him off, “He’s such a sweet little guy.”  Then I over heard the nurses arguing in the hall over who was going to “get” his room because they all loved him and wanted to take care of him.   Yes, right until the end, he continued to make me so proud to be his daughter.  

He was a dedicated husband, father and grandfather.  His first priority was always taking care of my Mom, me, and my boys.  And he did that until his last breath.  He was my rock.  My protector.  Oh, how I loved my Father!!   But the greatest thing that he did for me, was to teach me to love our Heavenly Father.   He taught me to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, and to find my identity as a daughter of The King, and not from anything this earth.  

My Father had many accomplishments during his career.  Many of which I never even knew about until the last few days, after he had passed.  We were finding newspaper clippings, letters, plaques, pins, ribbons etc…. all stored away in drawers.  One of the things my husband noticed was that every one of Dad’s achievements was service based.  He was never a competitive man.  He would never seek to “out-do” anyone else.  Instead, he chose to encourage others to shine their brightest.   

He never was a bragger.  He was a quiet man, yet when he spoke, people listened.   He was obviously a smart man, (getting his PhD couldn’t have been easy!)… but he was also wise.  Wise enough to know that all those accomplishments, although wonderful, were not what he found HIS identity in.  He found it in being a child of God.  A man of God.  A dedicated disciple of Jesus.  

So that is how I know, that when his soul flew back up to heaven, he was greeted with these words:

“Well done my good and faithful servant… enter into the joy of the Lord”

I will be forever grateful for the love, guidance and wisdom that my Father passed on to me.  “You look like your Father” was an observance that My Dad and I would both get a giggle out of through the years, since being an adopted child, there was no way I could possibly truly favor him genetically.  But if my actions can make me “look” like my Father… if my kindness towards others can make me “look” like my Father… if my faith can make me “look” like my Father… then that will be the biggest compliment I can ever have.

So Dad, thanks for being an amazing example to me about how to love people and love God.
I look forward to the day I see you and Mom again, but until then… I’ll do my best to “look” like you.

All my love,
Marcia






Friday, March 13, 2015

He's gone.....

.... and I am heartbroken.




But I'm relieved that he is no longer in pain... and he and Mom are back together again.



He was a wonderful Father... always my protector.



He was the sweetest man I've ever known.... full of life and love.  He showed incredible grace and kindness to everyone, even right at the end when his body was failing and he was in pain.   He never failed to say "thank you" to a nurse who came to turn him or help him with anything, or "please" when asked if he wanted something.  His smile could light up a room.  He was an amazing teacher, and he was teaching me how to love and treat people right until his very last breath.

Our last conversation was this:

Me: "I love you Dad"
Dad, nodding and smiling weakly:  "Love you too.  Thank you."
Me:  "You are the sweetest man."
Dad, smiling a little bigger:  "I know"

Then a long pause and he looked me in the eyes and said: "I believe it's gonna be ok."

Yes, I believe it IS going to be ok, Dad.  Mainly because you taught me that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is looking out for us all.. and to trust in HIM... and His will be done.   And we WILL be together again someday.  Oh yes, I do believe that!!

... and I also believe that when your soul took flight up into the heavens, you were greeted with these words:

"Well done good and faithful servant;....Enter into the joy of your lord." (Matthew 25:21, NJKV).


Dr. Manuel Ramirez    March 26, 1923 - March 16, 2015

Well done Dad.... well done.    
I'll love you forever....
Your daughter,
Marcia