Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Python, Lizard and Me

There we were bound up with a Burmese python wrapped around my husband and me as I'm trying to hold the snake’s head with its tongue flicking every which way.

And the trainer says “We may not be able to bring the bearded dragon lizard into the picture” and I say “Oh I hope you can, that’s my granddaughter’s favorite.” Knowing the trainer put it in the previous picture I’m thinking why not. So the trainer adds it to the mix of small alligator and huge snake even though he’d rather not.

Me? I’m thinking I included snakes in my latest novel Bullet in the Night and what a fun picture this will be to send my editor and post on my author page.

And the trainer says, “Sorry I need to be in your picture. I don’t like the way this snake is acting.” I say “Oh do you have to?” because he wasn’t in the other family’s picture. Meanwhile he tries to ease himself over to the edge. But the snake’s not liking this so the trainer grabs hold of its head.

I’m totally clueless that we’re getting into a situation of real danger here. This python has already been posed for eight other family pictures and is sick of this.

Suddenly the trainer says, “That’s enough. I’m taking the python out.” We all groan. And only later I see in the snapshots that the python is starting to squeeze itself around my husband’s leg and that head is looking for something to bite and my shoulder is right there. How do you remove a python squeezing your limb fast enough? Chop it away? And even if it’s not poisonous do I really want all those snake teeth in my arm? Plus who wants being a snake killer on their conscience?

I wake up the next day in a cold sweat thinking how close we all were to danger. And then I’m thanking God for protecting me in my impulsiveness at times when I insist on having things my way. Even as I’m trying to teach our ten-year-old grandson the beauty of submitting to authority – that adults and people in charge know better and that’s why they must be obeyed.  I’m thinking how I wanted this picture of God’s awesome creatures my way – I was casually insisting while I should have been hanging on every word of the trainer.

One of several New Year’s resolutions I'm making is to listen more carefully. To check for the yes’s and no’s of God. To move forward and retreat at His command. And control my willful urge to have my way and consult Him for direction later.

I’m also thinking of not asking people “How are you doing?” Instead I may start asking “How are you being?” After all isn’t that more important? Aren’t we all focused on the to-do stuff more than the to-be stuff? Like to-be submissive to the will of God, full of gratitude even during adversity and always mindful of the needs of others.

The trainer got us another snake. We finished the picture shoot with this small snake wrapped around our granddaughter’s neck. 

The picture makes me smile now. I wanted big and we got little but with it came safety and happiness.

Can anybody relate to this?

Men if you’d like a few suggestions to help with your husbanding and fathering this year check out my ebook Man in Command. At 99 cents it’s the richest investment you’ll make in your life. http://amzn.to/1zMzrSK

So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Saddened by Recent Events

Is there anyone who hasn’t been saddened by the recent events in our nation? I won’t comment on recent rulings best left to those who examined factual evidence in each case. But what can we glean moving forward to prevent reoccurrences of such tragic situations?

It’s clear as a society we’re failing to universally teach basic principles of moral behavior and respect for the law. Not all parents, grandparents, relatives, school teachers, etc. have succeeded in impressing youthful and adult citizens that stealing is wrong, breaking the law is intolerable and violating the law will have consequences.

Parents have a responsibility to discipline their children and train them wisely. This is the purpose in my book Soaring As A Parent, Secrets To Being Great and yes I’m giving it a plug because many parents are well-meaning but don’t have effective strategies which is why I present clear methods. The book is available on amazon. http://amzn.to/1A6Rd1o

Grandparents or other relatives can also step in to assist parents or take over if parents are unable to perform this role. My book Secrets To Being A Super Grandparent helps them teach wise behavior. Also available on amazon.http://amzn.to/1kKItrH

Moving forward I suggest three immediate strategies.
1) Teaching the Ten Commandments in every classroom and on the walls of every home. Leaders within every culture should support this. What’s not to like about teaching not to lie, not to steal, not to covet what belongs to someone else? Some children currently grow up not learning moral behavior. Post the Ten Commandments in businesses. Display them in public places and demonstrate them by how we adults live.

2) Preventing a widespread disrespect for the countless men and women in blue uniforms who risk their lives every day to protect citizens will occur. Our police need affirmation not condemnation. I advocate instituting “Cookies for Cops” to honor the good and faithful public servants who perform their jobs every day with the highest level of integrity. How about bringing a batch of cookies to local police to honor them?

3) Those who foster political agitation are not serving the individual families affected or our nation well. The violation of law brings subsequent engagement of police if individuals breaking the law are black, white, brown or whatever. Leaders must not incite protests, but channel energy to positives outcomes like teaching we are one nation under the law. Every citizen who respects the law will avoid any confrontation with a potentially disastrous outcome. Let’s move forward with sympathy for those adversely impacted while we teach moral behavior to those who follow us.

What better time than now to discuss these issues and implement positive strategies that will benefit all citizens.

From the Bible, Message version, Romans 13:3-5:

"Be a responsible citizen and you’ll get on just fine, the government working to your advantage. But if you’re breaking the rules right and left, watch out. The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it. That’s why you must live responsibly—not just to avoid punishment but also because it’s the right way to live."


Monday, November 24, 2014

Full of Thanks

Dear Family and Friends,

Full of thanks, how I hope so!!! If not thankfulness what might we be filled with in the daily circumstances of life?

It would be easy to fall into the trap of being full of bitterness, resentment, and regret. Bitter as in thinking our life is not as ”perfect” as another's that’s looking better, regretful as in thinking our kids don’t… or do…., angry that God isn’t fair. I smile at this, as if we humans could be God’s scorekeepers.

After enjoying many Thanksgiving celebrations now I’ve learned thankfulness is a daily resolution, a mind-set to help us rise up when the not-so-nice or just plain awful stuff happens to us. As well as a gulp of awe when amazing good enters our personal world.

Thankfulness includes my husband’s skin cancer of his lower lip that required three surgeries over the last three weeks including plastic reconstructive surgery. We didn’t like the chill that ripped over us when he heard the C-word, but the blessed hands that ministered to Wayne, the gracious, tender medical care he received were a joy to behold. Thanks be to God, he’s cancer free and looks normal again.

Our thankful attitude was challenged less dramatically by our kitchen sink and faucet hitting beyond repair status. Instead of just being "oh no something else on the list to deal with" this turned into a delightful encounter with the plumber who arrived to install the new one.  Our conversation went like this:

Plumber: “Lady your garbage disposal is old, it’s probably not going to work or be a tight fit after I disconnect it and reinstall. I’m just telling you I can’t warrant it and your counter top looks like it will crack when I take out the old one. I’ll do my best but I’m letting you know in advance plus if I have to enlarge the opening it’s another $75.
Me: “Okay, go ahead. I’ll pray it goes well.”
Plumber: “For this you better go to church to pray. You’ve got old pipes under here.”
Me: Laughing. “God is everywhere even in my kitchen.”
Plumber afterward: “I’m really surprised how well that went.”
Me: Smiling. “I told you prayer works. God cares about everything even my sink.”

But best of all, I also had a chance to talk this kind young plumber briefly about his wife studying to be a nurse and his five--year-old daughter. And give him a paper copy of my Emotional Intimacy Reviver Tool of questions for close conversation so he and his wife can grow their marriage strong. (It's free on my website. Click here to print out a copy. http://www.judithrolfs.com/Dr._Judith_Rolfs/Intimacy_Reviver.html

Would I have believed God was responsive even if my husband’s body wasn’t cancer-free again and the sink install wasn’t so smooth ? Actually yes. Thanksgiving comes from learning to trust God has a plan and purpose in all things which ultimately work together for our good. I’ve had a full lifetime of witnessing this.

WE/I receive huge benefit from being thankful. Is this why the Scripture verse “In everything give thanks to God for that is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5: 18 is included in the Bible? At first it doesn’t seem to make sense. Everything? Isn’t this a doozy to meditate on. Yes it’s true, accept what can't be changed, yet it doesn't mean we don't take action to right obvious wrong.

Blessed Happy Thanksgiving this Thursday and every day of your life. This is our wish for you, for all of us, as we appreciate God’s creation of turkeys and celebrate being with people we love who enrich our world. 

(Dan's wife Stephanie shot this picture three days ago of a fun Saturday night game night. We do love our board games!)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Who Decides?

I find it scary that the older brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a physician, an oncologist and bioethicist is publicly stating that people should die by age 75! That’s even lower than the age 85 horror I describe in my suspense novel Directive 99. http://amzn.to/1fetNOF

The Chicago Tribune, Wed. Nov. 12, 2014 states Emanuel declared in the October issue of the Atlantic magazine that our consumption (of earth’s resources) must be worth our contribution. What!! Shades of Nazi Germany again. Also Emanuel believes people become less creative as they age. He even says that he wants to die at age 75.

It’s begun! The public argument to end the life of our elderly before their natural death! And it’s coming from a politician who was a health policy advisor to the White House in the design of the Affordable Care Act commonly called Obamacare, a so-called doctor who disregards his code of ethics!

Doctors within the American Medical Association have expressed their anger against Emanuel saying he violated their code of ethics by suggesting that human life becomes less valuable with age.

A drive to say life is not of value after a certain age is pure wrong, incredibly evil and totally contrary to respecting God’s plan for each life. Can you imagine persuading elderly citizen to believe that they’ve lived long enough by the time they’re 75 and deserve to die?

If you haven’t read Directive 99 I suggest you get a copy fast. Gift copies to your legislators. Be prepared for the coming push to make this horror a reality. It’s not just euthanasia, horrible as that is. It’s a push to convince older people that they are not worthy and valuable.

God determines birth and death. And every breath every person takes has meaning in some way in our present environment. An important role for the elderly may be to heighten compassion in those privileged to be caregivers.

As for Emanuel’s argument about diminished creativity in the elderly:
Wikipedia has this to say about "Grandma Moses," a renowned American folk artist. “Having begun painting in earnest at the age of 78, she is often cited as an example of an individual successfully beginning a career in the arts at an advanced age. Her works have been shown and sold in the United States and abroad and have been marketed on greeting cards and other merchandise. Moses' paintings are among the collections of many museums. The Sugaring Off was sold for US$1.2 million in 2006.”

A New York Times article (March 2, 1981) says creativity and old age are not mutually exclusive. Sophocles wrote ''Oedipus at Colonus'' at the age of 89, and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes began the study of Greek at the age of 92 because, as he said, ''When else would I have had the time to take it up?''

Let’s look at the scientific facts about aging:
Among the mentally alert and healthy elderly, recent cognitive studies have shown that intelligence among the aged does not inevitably decline, said Harry R. Moody, deputy director of the Brookdale Center. ''In some areas,'' Dr. Moody said, ''as in tests measuring insight into problem situations, in creative understanding, and metaphoric processing, older people show actual statistical gains.''

The aging brain: Why getting older just might be awesome is another fascinating article about the treasure within the elderly mind. Google Amanda Enayati, Special to CNN updated 11:11 AM EDT, Tue June 19, 2012. Amanda concludes by stating, “The true picture of healthy, productive aging is so much more interesting and complex than any of us can begin to imagine.”

“There are neuro-circuitry factors that can favor age in terms of innovation,” observes Dr. Gary Small, professor of psychiatry and director of the UCLA Center on Aging. “First there is empathy, the foundation of a human-centered design process. Empathy is critical to design because of the need to understand the people for whom you are designing. Older people have a greater capacity for empathy because empathy is learned and refined as we age. As we age, we are better able to anticipate problems and reason things out than when we were young.” Small's research shows that our complex reasoning skills continue to improve as we get older.

In the UK the Baring Foundation believe that there is intrinsic value in engaging the talent, experience and enthusiasm of older people in the creative arts and the pursuit of cultural activities. Their work in the UK with the elderly and the arts is amazing.

This is a conversation we all need to be having. Let us protect our gifted and vulnerable senior population.

 I was invited to speak at Golden Years Retirement Center last week about my new novel Bullet in the Night. The ladies were delightful!

 Genesis 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless."