Saturday, February 14, 2015

Closing Our Borders


During a recent medical check-up, my doctor advised that my husband and I have the DTP shot--Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (whooping cough).  "Especially if you're going to be around newborn babies," she cautioned.

Since we are being blessed with two brand-new grand babies within two months of each other, we decided to lean on the side of caution and get shot--for the sake of Evelyn Elizabeth and Baby James. Today I have a nagging ache in my upper right arm, a reminder of yesterday's visit to the health clinic. The guy who said "love hurts" may have been on to something.

My consternation over the whole shot thing came when I learned that our country has experienced a revival of whooping cough, measles and TB. I thought those maladies were conquered years ago! How did they creep back into our country?

Open borders.

No, I'm not going political in this blog. However, it's no secret that the recent flood of immigrants has reintroduced certain viruses that had been under control for decades. In taking a closer look, we can see a couple of similarities between our nation's borders and '"borders" of protection that we should establish for our own mental, emotional and spiritual protection.

1. Caution vs. compassion - When Ellis Island opened in the late 1800s, it became the protective border for the U.S.   Immigrants were screened and examined. Those deemed too unhealthy to enter were deported. Today some might consider such screenings as a lack of compassion or an invasion of privacy. But, think about it. A cautionary physical exam was probably the most compassionate act any immigrant could have received. Contagions were discovered and treated immediately.  It was healing for them and protection for others.

Be careful that your compassion doesn't go overboard and you allow unhealthy, infectious people into your life who remain a danger to themselves, as well as to you and others. Sometimes caution is the greatest act of compassion. 

2. Changing values - During the years of the heaviest immigration, only around 2% of aliens were deported, as Boards of Special Inquiry screened each case.The boards were not so much concerned with preventing immigration as they were with preventing the immigration of those who might become public charges. (See article at America was the land of opportunity and it was expected that immigrants would work hard to make the American Dream a reality. Today, our immigration laws are much more relaxed and the expectation of hard-working immigrants has been traded for generous government handouts whether people work or not. This is very unfortunate, because people who don't work won't develop muscle, and they end up  becoming weak and dependent.

It is vital that we establish unchanging, unrelaxed values in our own lives. For example, who am I willing to help? When should my assistance end? What do I need to see from them to determine if my support should continue? Without our own solid, consistent values, we can easily enable others rather than empower them; and the values they create for themselves will be weak or, worse, non-existent.

Our country has changed and will continue to do so. Whether or not we agree with the direction our nation is headed, we all need a periodic dose of reality to remind us that disregarding cautionary actions or breaching our own values weakens our boundaries. I would rather endure an inconvenient  shot of reality than live in unhealthy oblivion.

If I allow open borders in my life, Evelyn Elizabeth and Baby James could be exposed to something more harmful than whooping cough.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Move your furniture!

A funny thing happened at our house recently. Let me go back ten years and bring you up to date.

When we moved into the home where we currently live, we purchased new furniture for the living room because we had moved our old furniture into the family room of the new house.

Over the years, the living room (and the new furniture) has remained unused because we spend most of our time in the family room. I have religiously dusted and vacuumed the living room, and even treated the leather furniture, sometimes wondering what purpose it had.

A few months ago my husband made a trip to Florida and brought back some of his mother's possessions, including beautiful antique hand-carved furniture. Three of the ornate pieces landed in my office. Now we had TWO rooms of unused furniture. Our home was quickly turning into a museum.

At first I enjoyed the antique pieces in the office. Although they didn't quite blend in with the African decor, they did look classy. One day, I was busy at my desk and decided I wanted to change positions and sit on a more comfortable seat. Alas! No where in the office to sit. It had furniture, but not for practical use.

I approached my husband with the idea to move the living room furniture into the office and relocate his mother's antique pieces into the living room. He (reluctantly) agreed and we began the moving process. After a few sweaty hours, the switch was complete.

Now with my mother-in-law's treasured possessions on display, the living room looks even more like a museum. The ornate furniture has found a perfect place, but it remains unused. And, I still dust it religiously.

However, an amazing transformation took place in the office. After we moved and resettled the furniture, I walked down the hall and glanced in the office. There sat my husband on the couch that had been unused for years. Grinning at me, he said, "This couch really is comfortable. I found my new reading spot." He had even adjusted the track lighting so it would illuminate his new corner of the world.

The next morning, I fixed my coffee and avoided the family room. Instead, I made my way to the office to test the comfortable couch. Ahhh. My husband was right. Now I had found my new morning quiet-time spot.

A few days later, my husband announced, "If you need me, I'll be in the study." Study? We have a study? I watched as he disappeared into the office.

It's amazing the transformation that can take place just by moving a few pieces of furniture to a different room. The office suddenly transitioned into a study. The furniture that looked stiff in the living room was actually extremely comfortable and useful. Making the move redefined the purpose and identity of the furniture AND the room. And, furniture that is used more often requires less dusting! Go figure.

Our lives are a lot like furniture. We can be stiff, ornate dust collectors, silently communicating "Do not touch." Or we can reposition ourselves (no matter how inconvenient) and discover a new sense of fulfillment from which others can benefit.Just because God created us from dust doesn't mean we should spend a lifetime collecting it.

Now please excuse me while I make my way to the office--I mean the study.