Full Plate

We’re sitting around the family table. I can’t help but smile. Can we all share one thing in which we’re grateful? The laughter is contagious. Dad’s at the head of the table~Momma seated by him. My sons, daughter-in-laws, sisters, brother-in-law, niece, and for the first time, my grandkids are with us too.

An hour before we sat down we had joined Mom in the kitchen to break up bread for dressing (and sample any other divinely delectable dishes that will soon blanket the family table). Our hunger had time to build (who would dare show up to Mom’s “not hungry”?). Yet, we knew there’d be leftovers to share with others; and with those who had none. Today we are thankful. Shouldn’t I feel this everyday?

This isn’t how Thanksgiving is going to look this year. For many of us. We won’t be sitting at the same table. But my plate is still going to be full.

“Carve the turkey please!”~I’m going to carve time each day to sit in silence with thankfulness and praise.

“Dip me some mashed potatoes.”~I’m going to soulfully dip more discernment and determination.

“Pour on that gravy!”~I’m going to pour on the gratitude over every little thing in my life. And you can bet I’m gonna pour some on you.

“Grab a roll!”~I’ll drop anything too hot to handle and “bona fide butter up” Jesus for being my bread of life. I’ll do my best to grab the things that matter the most.

“Dish me some green bean casserole!”~I’m going to dish out positivity, kindness, and concern as much as possible; and season it as needed.

“Scoop me some stuffing!”~I’m going to take every opportunity to scoop out negative thoughts and shovel in repeated positive thoughts of love and truth.

“Slice me off a piece of that pie!”~I’m going to slice, into bits, the mega moves that like to leave me with “pie in the face” and swap it with a huge sliver of the sweet things in life.

“Hand me a napkin please!”~I’m going to continue to wipe off what’s messy and being thankful for the clean towel provided each day.

How full is your plate? For some, our plates are full of all the things we need to do or feel we should do. For 30 days I’ve spent many hours in my tiny space excited, and a bit scared, about a new move. My plate is full. And ironically, they’re paper plates~I can’t put anymore on them. Soon I’ll be sitting in my new small house (bigger than “tiny”). No longer will I live in a home on wheels. I’ll have bigger cupboards to fill and a full-size refrigerator. I’m not going to worry about my black and gray tanks, my propane levels, and the space. I’ve learned from my own family, and by living “tiny”, one really doesn’t need much. And as soon as I have my own family table again I’ll plenish my platter with what really matters.

Have faith 💚

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
My sweet parents ordered us “kids” a Thanksgiving Meal as a way to celebrate at a distance. Now if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is. ❣

Rules of Engagement

“Red Rover Red Rover send Karla on over!” It was a bit scary. First, there wasn’t THAT much room between the two walls of the gym. How fast should I really go to break the barrier of my friends’ arms. Won’t that hurt them? Won’t I get hurt?

Rules were part of the game. Every game in fact. But rules were nothing new to me as my parents lined out a few when I was very young. Following the rules was important to me. It seemed most of us gave it our best efforts. But behind the scenes…

No one really liked him. I felt sorry for him. No one really paid any attention to her. My heart broke for her. Why wouldn’t anyone pick her for the team? Why are others being mean to him? I never understood it. Why are they laughing at her? Isn’t that breaking the rules?

Sundays would come around~my favorite day. We’d soon be gathered around the family table. Under the steeple I’d curiously observe other adults and kids. Bibles open, pens out, and if lucky, candy for us young ones. And the singing was my favorite. The rules were shared through stories; ancient ones and some newer. True events with major consequences for not following the rules. On one hand the fear made me sit up straight. But on the other hand, sermons about love filled me with warmth and acceptance. I learned of this man who always played fair and loved every team member. The rules seemed black and white and rules of engagement seemed… fair.

Last week I shared with my parents as we discussed current events, “Why did I, and so many teachers and parents to this day, spin our wheels trying to teach young kids kindness and civility when our own leaders do not display them?”

Rules had to be displayed when I began teaching at a young age. By the time I left education we had school-wide norms. These expectations were communicated daily in school-wide settings and individual classrooms. “Kids, I’d like for you all to be civil and respectful to one another!” “Even if we disagree let’s show courtesy and respect!” One day several young students and I were sitting in a circle in the counselor’s office. The discussion was about bullying. One girl was obviously the victim. The others, collectively, immediately developed a pack-like attitude. To try and get them to speak individually was like pulling a tooth. The pack remained intact. My own family had their experience at pack attacks throughout the years. Have you ever experienced it?

When I left Facebook a couple of years ago it was because the rules of engagement no longer seemed to exist. After learning some lessons (and still learning) I couldn’t understand why some, hidden behind a screen, could fire shots without any regard to the rules of engagement. Aside from what one might consider just general knowledge about healthy and positive human behavior these attacks seemed planned. And the rules of engagement justified me acting in self-defense right? But to whom does this really benefit?

I was a rule-breaker. There were periods of my life I only thought of myself; I had felt bullied and looked for a way out~despite the rules. I’ve lived with the consequences of breaking the rules and its impact on others. I’ve experienced heartache, hurt, pain, and joy all combined in the lessons.

Several mornings ago, while catching up with the “normally-not-so-uplifting” news, I was refreshed by the interview of two men running for governor of Utah. Their ad was a light in the darkness for me. Republican Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox and law professor Chris Peterson, a Democrat, appeared together to call for civility among voters. Cox and Peterson are running against each other to become the governor of Utah. They joked with one another and encouraged all residents to respect one another; no matter their vote. My smile got wider. This was not a hallucination of hope. It was real.

“Our common values transcend our political differences and the strength of our nation rests on our ability to see that,” Peterson said. “I’m not sure this has ever been done before…but as our national political dialogue continues to decline, my opponent and I decided to try something different,” Cox tweeted Tuesday.  “Let’s make Utah an example to the nation.” (CBS News)

I’m not distracted by false hope anymore. I’m not falling for the fake offering of freedom with instant love. The only attention I need is that which grows my capacity to level the playing field for everyone in which I engage.

I did run across the gym eventually. Although I didn’t break the bonded arms of my friends, the giggly entanglement ensured me I was safe on their team.

I’ll stay my course with my ultimate authority~to guide me and to help me set the parameters that will propel me to encourage and help others in the game. You see, it’s not the rules I focus on anymore~it’s Christ. And Christ alone.

   “There is no exception to this rule: "All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant." They say there is no rule without an exception, but there is an exception to that rule.”
― Charles Spurgeon

Have faith💚