The Presumptuous Ladybug

A blog about Faith, Family, Life....and Anything else

Month: January 2017

What Obnoxious Friends With Opposing Views Have To Offer

The Presidential Inauguration is fresh on the hearts and minds of everyone.  Emotions are running high and the United States holds her breathe as we’re launched into unknown territory.  In the heated social media discussions and personal interactions, it may be tempting to put some people on hold, or altogether abandon any interaction with them from this day forth.

I get it.  And, politics isn’t the only subject matter to disagree on.  Sometimes it can be hard to understand how other people can see things so differently.  Opposing views can make us feel angry  and uncomfortable, and some individuals can be obnoxious with their opinions.  It’s, certainly, much easier to mingle with people who share our values.

Still, there are reasons to hang onto those friends whose opposing views are undeniable.  Some of my most beloved friends hold completely different views on life, relationships, politics, and religion.  It isn’t because I hold my tongue, although I can when needed.  And, it isn’t because they hold theirs.  And yes, sometimes it gets uncomfortable and, sometimes, we make each other angry.  Even so, they’re invaluable to me.

Why keep people in my life who can boil my blood now and then?  Simple. They have so very much to offer.  I love all of my friends for different reasons.  Of course, it is easier to hang out with people who get me.  I have friends who can make me feel uneducated and uninformed.  Sometimes I am uneducated and uninformed!  Then there are those who understand my point of view because they share the same convictions and I don’t have to explain anything.  They already get it and that’s refreshing.

Regardless, despite being uncomfortable and, at times, irritating, the friends who think differently stretch me so much farther than I could be otherwise.  Those who ask questions and challenge my views, get me thinking on a much deeper level.  Often, they bring information to the table I didn’t hear before and they offer insight from life experiences that are unique to them.

I’m drawn to people of differing views who are also respectful, courteous, and knowledgeable.  I’ve had many “ah ha!” moments simply because I listened to someone I didn’t agree with, and they listened to me.  Trust me, leave it to someone who has thought about the issue more than I have to set me right!  My friends and family with different views can certainly take me down a notch, reveal the shallowness of my own ideas, and take my pride for a spin.  But guess what, its ok!  Sometimes it’s necessary.  I’m still learning and as long as they aren’t hell bent on hurting me just to hurt me and their approach is kind, then I can swallow my pride and hear them.

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love.  Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”  Proverbs 27:5, 6

However, I don’t appreciate people who throw stones and resort to name calling.  I don’t care for people who attack me on a personal level just because we disagree.  Neither am I receptive to the ideas of someone who is insulting and belittling.  I’m not talking about engaging with trolls and people on my social media feed who resort to accusations and smearing rather than sound arguments.  But, those who can offer insight, expand my world view, and share in differing ideas because of their education, life experience, and convictions while remaining respectful and understanding. I am more than happy to have a conversation with those friends.

I want to hear their views.  I want to understand.  I only have enough time and brain capacity to learn so much at any given point in my life.  My ideals are bound to draw me toward certain conclusions, and I am able to admit that at times, I get it wrong.  We all get it wrong sometimes.

That doesn’t mean every discussion results in finding common ground.  I’ve had conversations in which the other party and I, are left with nothing but awkward silence between us as we soak in the realization that we have nothing more to say to each other because we are still as polarized on the subject as we were when we started the conversation.  The thing is, I always learn something.  Some convictions just can’t be altered.  Some core beliefs can’t be compromised.  That doesn’t mean I can’t learn from the conversation.  There are always opportunities to grow in understanding and in compassion.

Hearing other ideas and empathizing with where they come from and where they started and how they developed doesn’t’ mean you always land on the same conclusion.  It does mean I can walk away more aware, better informed, and more loving toward that person and their view.  It is very easy to make judgments about people and ideas we do not understand.  But, I believe that most people are driven by ideals they find good and necessary.  Disagreeing doesn’t make them the enemy.  It makes them different.  Different isn’t bad, it’s enlightening.

We don’t have to agree with every belief we encounter, but we do have to love people for who they are and where they are in their lives.  Yes, it gets ugly sometimes.  Yes, it gets heated, but mutual respect and love can overcome those feelings if we care more about the person than about making a point.

I am very thankful for my friends who share their views, in love and respect.  When I get it wrong, they help me see the other side.  And when they get it wrong, I help them.  It is a mutual give and take with openness, honestly and, above all, mutual care for each other.  I’ve been guilty of letting misinformation and the wrong voices sway my thinking.  If not for my friends who can respectfully voice, “That’s just not true,” I’d still be walking in those wrong ideas.  We have so much to learn from each other but we have to hear each other out.  I’m not perfect, and neither are they, but we can encourage each other in the things we agree about and learn from each other when we disagree.  And, ultimately, we can learn to love each other better if we humanize the opposing views.  The only way I know how to do that, is to hear the other side of the story.  There is always two sides.  Sometimes, the other side isn’t as backwards and crazy as we first though.  And when it is, well….

…try not to let it turn you into a troll.

Let’s practice hearing each other.  Let’s practice mutual care and civility.  Let’s practice appreciation for the people who expand our world view, even when they’re obnoxious and frustrating.  Let’s practice learning from each other.  Let’s practice respectful discussions.

I don’t want to lose my friends just because we see things differently, and I hope they don’t want to lose me.  I can’t see beyond my own experiences and understanding without access to other ideas, and most likely, neither can you.  Let’s keep navigating the issues together.  Let’s keep talking, because I don’t want to get stuck in my own unchallenged ideas; that’s a dangerous place to stay.

“Indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find thevknowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:3-5

 

6 Easy Ways to Reduce the Spread of Seasonal Sickness

Winters in Colorado are very cold.  It isn’t uncommon for temperatures to stay below zero all day.  That means everyone is bundled up, homes and businesses are clamped shut and, heaters or fireplaces are blasting.  It also means very little fresh air and the perfect conditions for germs to do their worst.  It’s nearly impossible to avoid being sick at some point in the season.  However, believe it or not, there are some ways we can avoid getting every sickness that rages through town and ways to keep from spreading it once we do get sick.  I know it seems like common knowledge but it really isn’t.  Here are 6 simple ways you can stop the spread of seasonal sickness.

1. WASH YOUR HANDS!

Ignaz Semmelweis made the case for disinfecting via washing your hands way back in 1847, so the case for washing is pretty substantiated.  I know when you’re in a hurry and there is just so much to do it’s hard to find time to perform this task that literally takes two minutes, but…do it.  It’s not that hard really.  My three year old can independently wash her hands and she can barely reach the sink on a stool.  Speaking of which, teach your kids to wash their hands.  I know it’s a long laborious process but they will get it and eventually stop being the little petri dishes they are right now.  As a side note: washing with water alone is not effective.  Washing doesn’t kill the bacteria.  When you use soap, it creates a slippery surface on your hands and washes the bacteria away, therefore, soap is essential.  So is washing for 1-2 minutes to give those germs times to slip into the sink.

Look, bottom line is, washing really cannot be stressed enough.  If you, or your kid, have been digging in the dirt, hanging out in public places, have used the bathroom, or are about to eat…WASH YOUR HANDS!!!  I cannot for the life of me fathom why an adult would not wash their hands after using the bathroom; especially, a public bathroom.  Washing hands keeps illness breeding bacteria and viruses from entering your body, it also keeps you from spreading your illness to other people.  That’s just common curtesy.

2. STAY THE BLEEP HOME!

Few things rile me up as much as people who are sick and can’t seem to stay home.  Equally obnoxious are the people who take their sick kids places.  Seriously, it isn’t cute that your sick child is cuddling on your lap because they were vomiting earlier this morning and feel like crap.  Also, telling people to keep a ten foot distance doesn’t make up for the fact that you dragged your kid out into public in the first place.  Neither do I appreciate or empathize with the Mom who brought her fever ridden, rash-y kid to a party because it wouldn’t be fair to the healthy sibling if you all stayed home.  Use some creative reasoning to find a solution or perhaps introduce your kid to the very real life emotion called disappointment.  Eventually they’re going to experience it anyway.  It might as well be within the safety of your home and loving arms.  Exposing my kid to your kid’s hand, foot, and mouth disease in the name of avoiding disappointment is no laughing matter.  Well…. I’m not laughing.  Neither is any other parent.  The take home is this:  if you, or your kid, have thrown up, had diarrhea, a mystery rash, a new onset of symptoms, were oozing green slime from their nose, or have had a fever at any point in the last 24 hours, do not go anywhere.  If you desperately need that ginger ale then please…send a friend!

3. COVER YOUR COUGH

I recognize that a cough can hang on forever and you really can’t stay home and stop life for 6 weeks at a time, and neither can I.  You can, however, cover your mouth with your elbow or a hanky.  Covering your mouth helps keep the germs you expel while coughing from freely bursting into the air and landing on whoever happens to be within reach of your infectious cloud.  A simple and easy act of consideration can keep the cough from spreading.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen grown and capable adults in public coughing their heads off with zero regard for anyone in their vicinity.  Honestly, I kinda want to shout, “What’s wrong with you?”  And coughing into your hands just guarantees that the next person you shake hands with will get what you have.

4. DISINFECT

After the unavoidable cold or flu bug has ravaged your home, do yourself and all your future guests a favor and disinfect your home.  Yes, it takes some effort but the effort is worth it.  Some germs can live for weeks at a time in which case they are able to re-infect your family over and over again, as well as any visitors who enter your home.  The infamous norovirus has been shown to remain active even in adverse conditions.

Go ahead and use a real disinfectant at these times too.  I’m a big fan of all-natural cleaning products and minimizing chemicals in the home, but sometimes Lysol is necessary.  It’s ok. It probably won’t be the undoing of your family, however, it may keep that nasty bug from resurfacing in your home in two weeks.

Disinfecting means washing and sanitizing all of the exposed surfaces.  This means walls where little hands slide, the entire bathroom, bed sheets, floors, and…pretty much the entire house.  One thing a little sickness can do, is give you that needed motivation to go ahead and take care of the seasonal deep cleaning you’ve been putting off for months.

 

5. SUPPORT YOUR SYSTEM

Taking your vitamins and eating healthy while avoiding processed sugars lets your body focus on staying well.  Vitamin D is essential in cold winter months when many of us are inside more and covered from head to toe when we do go outside.  Bundling up to your eyeballs keeps you warm but also keeps those good feeling, immunity boosting vitamin D rays from reaching you, and Vitamin D is necessary for both physical and mental health.  So, even if a multi-vitamin is too much to swallow, you might benefit from a vitamin D supplement.  Obviously, ask your doctor before you run off and follow my advice, but in general most people would benefit from some extra ‘D’.

 

6. EXERCISE

I know, I know…this is the hardest one for me so I get it.  I’m much less motivated when it’s cold, the days are short, and I just got done with a month of celebrator holiday eating, but it is a very important part of staying well.  Here again, exercise is beneficial to body and mind and will help with overall wellness in most cases.  The U.S. National Library of Medicine website states that “Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.” ( https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007165.htm).  So whether you prefer the warm indoors on the tread mill or adventurous snowshoeing in the cold Rocky Mountains, getting your body moving is a great way to boost your health and help fight seasonal ailments.

IN CLOSING:

The bottom line is this: some of us have kids or family members who are at a vulnerable age or who are already fighting other health conditions.  Seasonal illness may be a small inconvenience for you, but for others it makes an already difficult life circumstance even harder.  With a few small changes and some effort you can reduce your number of sick days this winter while also reducing the spread of germs to those you love.  If we all do our part then we can share in the fun of winter activities, festivals, and outings without sharing the misery of sickness.

A Kidnapping, A Shooting, and A Broken Heart.

Last week I tried to write about the kidnapping incident involving the disabled man, here in the United States.  Then the shooting at Fort Lauderdale happened.

I wanted to write but I couldn’t find the words.  The truth is, the kidnapping hits a little too close to home.  My oldest daughter has epilepsy and learning disabilities and encopresis.  I worry about other kids making fun of her and wonder if she will be accepted as she gets older.  Will she get bullied?  Will those who love her stand in the gap and have her back when others desire to do her harm?

My heart aches for the man who was kidnapped.  When I think about what he endured, I am horrified and filled with sorrow. I am deeply saddened when I think of him being afraid and confused and tormented.  It was a hateful, heartless, deplorable act and it breaks my heart.

And, I’m angry.

I’m angry that this happened.  I’m angry that we live in a world were these kids thought they could do this.  I’m angry that they have gotten away with lesser grievances before, and that it built up to this horrendous act.

I’m angry that our society continuously speaks out against bullying and yet we still allow it.  I’m angry that fear and red tape keeps people from stepping in and doing what is right to stop things long before they get so out of hand.  I’m angry that violent acts aren’t stopped as they occur because it can be reported, and then our hands don’t have to get dirty.

I’m angry that these kids targeted someone who is less able than they are.  It’s not cool, it’s not funny.  It’s cowardly and shameful.  It’s despicable, it’s indecent, and it’s appalling.

I’m sad too.

I’m sad that these kinds of behaviors and crimes are happening over and over again.  We act upset for a moment, but we are not so bothered that we intervene.  We are not so bothered that we stand up and say, “Enough!” when we see wrong actions taking place.  We can take a video on our phones…but intervene?  It’s so rare that when someone finally does intervene its front page news!  And, I’m not talking about rioting or beating someone up because you disagree or don’t like them.  I’m talking about intervening when someone is being hurt, bullied, or harassed.

I’m sad that we’re afraid to help each other out.  We don’t stop to help a neighbor whose car broke down, much less a stranger.  We don’t stop a beating on the street, or a coworker from being harassed by other coworkers, we don’t tell the bully to pipe down…

Keep your head down, don’t make eye contact, mind your own business…Those are the rules of society.  You might make it worse, you might get into trouble, and you might become the target…

We think if we report something, or make a cash donation to a cause then we’ve done our part.  Yet hate crimes and horrible acts continue to happen and we aren’t even shocked anymore.

This is why we love stories about heroes who stand against the odds and are willing to sacrifice themselves for good.  We desperately need heroes.

And, the shooting.

In this still image from video provided by NBC TV Local10, people stand on the tarmac after shots were fired at the international airport in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. Local10 and other news media outlets reported Friday that multiple people were shot. (NBC TV Local10 via AP)

I’m upset about the shooting too.  This was a terrible thing and my prayers are going out to those hurt by this event.  It is senseless and breeds fear.  The physical and emotional wounds run deep.

And, there are a good number of people who are very quick to start the controversial discussions about where to place blame.  Our country can’t even have a day to mourn before it starts in with the controversy.

Can we stop arguing for a second and remember that lives were lost, lives were ruined, and one man just threw his life away.

For what?

And, blaming guns, or mental illness or religion, or terrorists won’t bring them back or fix this.  While discussing these things in order to blame one group or another just creates more division.

What if the common denominator isn’t guns or mental illness or religion or terrorism or racism?  What if the problem is a human condition?  What if the problem, in both these horrible acts, is depravity?  Then what?  Because, that isn’t so simple to “fix.”  It isn’t even something we can fix.  That is something only God can fix within us.

It’s easy to cast blame.  It’s easy to ignore the deficit within our own souls.  It’s easy to point at someone or something else and never look deeply at our own hearts.  It’s easy to say, “That person is crazy,” and then never have to ask ourselves if we have ever been guilty of turning a blind eye.

That is humanity today.  We don’t step up and do the right thing because we are inconvenienced or afraid, or both.  Maybe the truth is…I’ve been afraid.  I don’t want to get hurt.  I don’t want to get into trouble.  I don’t want to bring hardship on my family.  I don’t want to get laughed at…

What a shame.

Am I really any better than those kidnappers if I let it happen and if I let fear dictate my response?

Are you?

Will you search your heart?  Will I?

Are we prepared to take responsibility for the part we play in turning a blind eye to lesser offenses simply because it’s convenient or easier?  Are we prepared to search our souls and stand against injustices and against fear itself and do what is right no matter what the cost or sacrifice?

Who will decide to refuse to sit back and watch as horrible acts unfold? Who will call on God to strengthen them?  Who will beg God to give them courage?  Who will repent of ignoring the darker parts of society, of the depravity within their heart, and of being ruled by fear?  Who will stop being afraid of the consequence of doing what is right?

I am angry and I am sad and… I am searching my heart.

I don’t want to live there in that space.  I want to lift my eyes up to the hills and set them on God and, by his grace, overcome the fear.  I want to have a heart that is repentant and compassionate and courageous.  A heart that loves others more than myself.  Because perfect love casts out fear.

1 John 4:18- “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear…”

If we are unified, we can overcome the obstacles together.  If we are unified we can overcome fear and division.  If we are unified we can overcome deplorable acts because we won’t be alone in our work.

If we are unified, and if we humble ourselves before the Lord God and repent of the darkness within our hearts, he will hear our cries and he will show us mercy and grace, and he will heal our land.

No amount of laws and regulations or fear can accomplish what the LORD can accomplish if we let him.  If our hearts are clean before him and our prayers are frequent, he will hear.  These acts that happened are evil and God can be our deliverance from the evils of this world.  But, are we prepared to trust him?  Are we prepared to let him?  Are we ready to let him change our hearts?  Because…

It starts there.

2 Corinthians 7:14- “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

2 Timothy 1:7- “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.”

Psalm 121:1, 2- “I lift my eyes up to the hills, where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”
Author: Jacqi Kambish