Sunday, March 22, 2020

Pandemic Panic or Peace


A Worldwide Challenge
The Corona Virus . . . who in the world is not familiar with it? It's a contagious disease with no antidote. Governments are responding with quarantines and restricted travel, plus closure of restaurants, bars and schools. The economic impact is horrendous.

As a friend and I shopped five stores looking eggs, I saw with my own eyes the results of panic. All five stores were completely out of these items: paper goods, cleaners, canned goods, staples, dairy products and eggs.

Hoarding has become a byword. Think of it as a supply stored up and kept hidden or in reserve. Hoarders are not known for generosity.

As of Now, Required Respite
Personal activity is hindered since government officials have requested no unnecessary travel. There is constant reference to social distancing
People are not to meet in groups of more than ten. Churches are closed, and for me it means no Bible study or Grief Share group till further notice.

I often remain at home two or three days at a time. The difference is knowing I'm free to go out. The pandemic is requiring forced isolation for an unspecified amount of time.

If there was ever a time to be flexible and count my blessings, it's now. Life is always improved with a positive attitude.

A friend called and said she was praying Psalm 91 over me.

The Bible is an Option for Personal Peace
The Psalm is very familiar. I knew a man who lived to a ripe old age who would get up in church and say, "I'm going to share my insurance policy." He would then quote all sixteen verses perfectly! You can look it up for yourself . . . I did.

If you don't have a Bible, use an internet device to download a Bible app, such as the YouVersion in modern English.

Meditation on Psalm 91 brought four questions to mind. The answering verses are beside them:
           1.  What Should I Do?  (Verses 1, 2, 9, 10)
           2.  What Will Be the Answers to My Prayers?  (Verses 5, 6, 7, 8, 13)
           3.  Why Would God Hear My Prayers?  (Verses 14, 15, 16)
           4.  What Will God Do?  (Verses 3, 4, 11, 12, 14, 16)

Be Wise. Take all the healthy precautions to stay well. Then check out Psalm 91 for promises of personal peace. 

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Importance of Me and You


Positive Communication Is NOT All Me!
These two little words . . . me and you . . . are filled with potential for stress. It used to amuse me when people would say, “It must be so nice to work in a church!” Here’s the truth: Communication skills and a desire for teamwork are important no matter where you work.

In today’s high-tech world, employers are still looking for these “soft skills.”

Put people together and it seems challenges remain the same. Note this fifteenth century comment by *Thomas A Kempis: It is no easy matter to live in a monastery or in any form of community life, to pass your days without bickerings, and to persevere faithfully until death.

What stood out to me was the phrase “any form of community life.” Isn’t that what our lives are? Community? From birth to death? Simply put, community means living with others.

Put Positive Ideas To Work For You
Practical suggestions for community life in Bible times sound like this in today’s English: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand (Philippians 2:2-4, The Message Bible).

Most people desire to create a win-win situation for themselves and others. But sometimes aggressive people bog down the process. To them ME always outranks YOU.

Let’s be positive. Consider the scope of my poem, and draw your own conclusions:

Darlis Sailors

Words have length and words have power
Say “I” and it marks my place
The world is big, and I am in it

Say “you” and life gets larger
I admit that there are others
I have a place, but so do you

You and I can join as one
Show strength as “we,” a force for change
We, as a team, produce good or evil

Alone I am one, my choice
With you, I must learn to give
Our spaces touch and new vision emerges

How will we live, part you---part me
Our plan is formed with give and take
Small words of life with power
(copyright, 2016)

*The Imitation of Christ: The Inspirational Teachings of Thomas A Kempis, Book 1, Chapter XVII, On The Monastic Life, p. 42, Translated by Stephen MacKenna, 2006, Sacred Wisdom by Watkins Publishing, London.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Pay It Forward


I was familiar with this phrase because I saw the movie years ago. What I didn’t know was that the movie was loosely based on a novel.
Movies Can Be Inspiring

In Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde, a junior high teacher gives his social studies class a challenging assignment: Think of an idea to change the world for the better, then put it into action.

We all know about paying it back, but one student came up with the creative idea of paying it forward.

A friend laughingly told me of paying it forward in a Starbucks drive-through. She saw one person in the car behind her and said, “I’ll pay for his order, too.” It turned out he was ordering for several other people. She said, “I won’t take one person in a car for granted again.”

The New Restaurant Had A Good Chef
A pay it forward came my way this week. I was trying out a new restaurant and found both food and service excellent. That’s why I thought it strange to wait so long for my bill. Finally, my waiter came and said, “Your dinner was paid for by your friends over there.” He pointed across the room to a couple I did not know.

Someone must have paid it forward, I thought. Then I wondered what’s the protocol? Should I say thank you or let them remain anonymous? As I walked by their table I signaled “OK” and mouthed “thank you.” The lady nodded and I kept on walking.

I walked back to my car with a big smile on my face. That surprise really made my day!

You Can Be An Example To Others
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35 NLT). And Paul, The Apostle, complimented some believers by saying, “You excel in so many ways . . . excel also in this gracious act of giving (2 Corinthians 8:7, NLT).

Just remember paying it forward does not always involve money. Good deeds work, too. It’s what some call random acts of kindness, thinking of others, not yourself. A street sign near me puts it this way: “Less Egos, More Amigos.”

Sunday, March 1, 2020

A Tip for Heart Health


I’ve been thinking of a comment made by a friend. She said, “I know you went through *cancer treatments. I suppose you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Men's Shoes Can Be Heavy
The thought rather startled me. I pictured someone holding a heavy man’s shoe over my head. If it dropped, I was going to get hurt. I could face the reality of that, but on the other hand I felt living in fear was no way to live.

I gave my heart a quick search before I replied. “No, I haven’t felt that way because right from the start I believed God was with me. I chose to put my faith in Him and His Word.”

For example, I found encouragement in John 14:27.  First, Jesus said He would give us His marvelous peace, then He gave some personal instructions.

In the Amplified Bible it says, “Do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid---stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.”

Nothing could be plainer, but in the face of a cancer diagnosis how could I not be troubled?

Do not let means to withhold your permission from someone or something. I realized cancer would be a long journey. If I lived with a heart full of agitation, fear and intimidation, I would have no one to blame but myself.

Allow No Nesting Room for Negative Thoughts 
I was familiar with the saying you can’t keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest there.

In addition to reading scripture and praying, I took notice of my thoughts. I allowed negative thoughts no landing space. Positive thoughts, good humor and laughter were always welcome.

How is your emotional heart health? Rooting out negativity is a great tip. But like all self-care, only you can do it for you!

*In 2007 I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. I had both a lump and Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC), which is rare. While I was in treatments for nearly a year (chemo, surgery, and radiation), friends and family joined me in prayer for full recovery. I had a modified radical mastectomy in which I lost my left breast and eighteen lymph nodes. For ten years I had follow-up every six months. At that point my oncologist said, “You’re a walking miracle.” I still have yearly checkups, and continue to pray for God’s mercy upon my life.  

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Swords or Salve


My parents owned a sword. My uncle had brought it home from the Orient when I was just a child. The sword seemed as tall as I was, and mom insisted that it be kept packed away.

Beware The Power Of A Sword
Upon occasion my uncle would visit. After many years, I remember him telling my mom, “That sword and scabbard are worth something, but if you don’t want them, I’ll take 'em back.”

Dad’s feeling about the sword had always been neutral. What I remember was mom’s happiness when it was not just out of sight, but out of our home.

This sword incident came back to me as I was reading a short verse in Proverbs: The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).

When you hear the word proverb, you probably think wise saying. If so, you’re right. The Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament is full of wisdom for things like relationships, business practices, and spiritual guidance.

I think we humans tend to be hard enough on ourselves that we don’t need others wielding a sword of harsh, hurtful words.

Get Our Your Salve, Not Your Sword
There’s some great advice in verse twenty-five of the same chapter: Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

As I contemplated these two verses, I pictured swords vs. salve. I don’t want to be reckless with my words. That doesn’t mean I can’t speak the truth lovingly when necessary, but it means I understand the power of words.

Because people are often careless about what they say, swords will always be with us. But that’s a great reminder to kindly make our words like salve, soothing and healing.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Knit Cap from a Stranger


Summer Sun Can Be Plenty Hot
It was summer in southern Arizona when I had chemo treatments for breast cancer. It produced an immediate problem. When I lost my hair, my head felt cold and I was not sleeping well.

I hoped to find a knit cap somewhere in my metropolis. Sales associates gave me some mighty strange looks, and I finally got the message---this was a lost cause.

A square cotton scarf tied behind my head felt comfortable. I didn’t realize people could still tell I was bald. Believe me, ignorance was bliss.

One day I renewed a prescription at the pharmacy, then wandered through the store. I felt I was being followed, but saw no one.

At last a lady said, “I noticed you at the pharmacy. I hope you won’t be offended, but would you be interested in a knit cap?”

My response was, “Would I! I’ve been trying to find one without success.”

Lavender Is A Pretty Color
She said, “I belong to a group that knits caps for chemo patients. The only one I have left is lavender. Would that be OK?”

“Color doesn’t matter,” I said, “I’d just be glad for a cap. My head gets really cold at night.”

After a quick trip to her car, she handed me a skull cap, knit in the softest lavender baby yarn. What an unexpected blessing. It was easy to smile as I expressed my appreciation.

That night, and for months following, I enjoyed good sleep with a warm head. Thanks to a small tag pinned to the cap, I was able to send the group a note of thanks.

I was impressed that the ladies not only knit caps, but put forth individual effort to distribute them. To me it was a perfect illustration of Ecclesiastes 9:10: Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might . . . 

Here I am, thirteen years later, still thankful for a knit cap from a stranger.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

One Very Bad Hair Day


I think most people have a bad hair day now and then. But in 2007 I experienced the worst hair day ever!

Hair Comes in Great Varieties
As I was brushing my hair, clumps fell into the sink. Chemo, surgery and radiation were my prescribed treatments for fighting breast cancer. Though I’d been warned of hair loss, my day of reckoning came after only two chemo treatments.

I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw no sparkle in my eyes, no bright smile, just an incredible amount of sadness.

A hand mirror helped me survey more damage. I called my husband and he came in. “Would you cut off the remaining patches of hair,” I asked, “why put off the inevitable?” It was a hard day for him, too, but he kindly gave me the help I needed.

To me, a wig on a bald head was uncomfortable. My head also felt cold when I tried to sleep, but it was summer in southern Arizona. Air conditioning was a necessity.

One thing I tried to avoid was looking in a mirror with my head uncovered. My favorite head gear was a square cotton scarf knotted behind my neck.

I found timely comfort in 1 Peter 3:3-4. It says beauty is not to come from outward adornment, but from your inner self.

The Book of Proverbs Is Full of  Wisdom
One inner beauty secret is discretion. On this issue, King Solomon was quite blunt: “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion” (Proverbs 11:22).

He wasn’t easy on men, either. Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”

It was easy to smile when my hair grew back, but I still have a bad hair day now and then. The difference is my focus.

First, I look in the mirror and try my best outwardly. Then I turn away, and remember that true beauty comes from the inside.

Next Week: Knit Cap From A Stranger