PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … February 15th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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pohymn-ransom

To Ransom Many

Faith is worn thin from misuse

Truth is ravaged by abuse

Hope is shaky from despair

Kindness awaits a soul aware

Blessing visits the common heart

Who’s cursed, battered, afraid to start

Scary sounds, grumpy frowns,

Gunshot rounds, indifferent clowns

The circus frightens the children away

The beasts are starved, stalking their prey

Great need in the street

The angels retreat

And close the shutter

Each heart aflutter

Is danger really everywhere

Or is there still the chance to share?

When fear has reached its jaded perfection

The needy and soulless are absent affection

But will we refuse to be deterred

And bring the beauty which is preferred

Grace is the chilling sensation

We are spared from aimless damnation

Dreams flourish, visions aplenty

Love arises to ransom many

 

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 41) There’s Always a Space … February 12th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

When Meningsbee’s wife, Doris, died, a minister friend counseled him to take some time and give himself the luxury of grieving.

So for six months, Richard permitted his heart, soul and mind to reminisce and dream delightful thoughts about his dear friend, Doris.

There seemed to be a healing. It got a little easier to consider her gone, though there was never any real “ease” in the notion.

After the six-month grieving period, Meningsbee decided to reenter his life of writing and pastoring, only to discover that the emotional stitching he had done on his internals busted loose, and he was flooded with a deluge of remorse.

He thought he was crazy. He even thought he heard Doris moving about the kitchen.

Sitting at breakfast, his mind wandered. He saw her perched in the chair across from him, with her feet tucked up under her butt, with her long, graceful fingers caressing a coffee cup–closing them around the handle, bringing it to her lips, sipping slowly and then giving a seductive little contented shiver. It was so beautiful.

Her peace of mind made him feel like a man.

Even one Sunday at church, during a communion service, his eyes filled with tears. The congregation thought he was moved by the experience with the Holy Meal, but actually it was the scent of the communion wine that brought a memory of a green lotion Doris once applied to her feet–to heal her corns. He giggled inside, remembering her smearing the fluid on her feet and quipping, “I was a girl. Now apparently I’m going to become a grandma with corny feet, and completely skip woman.”

Then, three weeks ago Matrisse’s sister from Chicago came to town, and a blind date of sorts was planned. She was an extraordinarily attractive woman–intelligent and the general manager of a corporation in the Windy City. But because she was just coming off a divorce, she ended up discussing her misgivings and in no time Meningsbee found himself counseling and consoling her instead of considering her. The movie was cancelled and she expressed her gratitude for his words of wisdom with a peck on the cheek.

Meningsbee realized there’s no such thing as “getting over” someone you loved.

There’s always a space–always something they did that was so unique that it couldn’t be duplicated by the actions of another.

Exactly three days before she passed away, Doris rose in the morning after they’d had a fussy tiff with each other the night before, bounced into the room, hugged his neck and said, “Reverend Richard Meningsbee, you are my favorite annoyance.”

How can you forget that?

Somewhere along the line, the preacher just decided to stop fighting the urges to love her.

People are not replaceable–we just learn to appreciate what other people have to offer.

There’s always a space–a space forever occupied with visions of Doris.

 

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Good News and Better News… January 2nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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good-news-jon-hat

Every January 1st, a preacher friend sends me an email with his prophecies for the new year.

His predictions are always pretty general–and also grim. I guess he thinks it’s a safe bet in a world of tribulation, to foretell disaster.

  • Yet there is no love without giving.
  • Faith dies without passion.
  • And hope disappears without dreams.

It’s just too easy to be upset.

It’s way too predictable to continue to complain about the circumstances.

Yesterday morning when I arrived at Carteret United Methodist Church, I was looking for people who were fed up with being depressed.

I think Pastor Frank was pretty surprised at the turnout. After all, it was New Year’s Day and a tremendous opportunity for folks to use it as an excuse not to come to church.

But they didn’t.

We gathered, we sang, we mused, we laughed, we cried, we fellowshipped and we left–believing that certain things must be honored, or honor will leave our world.

1. Love your neighbor is not optional.

Although we spend much time in diplomacy and negotiations with countries which are determined to hurt one another, the truth of the matter is, our greatest possibility lies in the souls who still insist on loving and believing in each other.

2. Be of good cheer.

Nothing is ever accomplished from a defeated position of gloom. If knowing the facts upset you, then choose the bliss of ignorance–because in the long run, it is not intelligence or education that saves us, but rather, the wisdom we garner from the data that gives us the power to believe.

I so enjoyed the congregation in Beaufort, South Carolina–and may I tell them:

The good news is that there’s a song of praise that needs to be written every day.

And the better news is that I, for one, want to meet my Creator with that song in my heart.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … August 17th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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PoHymn The Cost

The Cost

Ferocious mini-mongols

Topple my waning empire

Soggy dreams of nonsense

Dripping, can’t catch fire

Blinded eyes, hear the scream

Enlightened words, swell the dream

Cankered sores, leprous pain

Sense the brain become insane.

Sucking swill, peace be still

Lie in wait for my fate

Scattered pins across my mind

When I seek what will I find?

Scared to life, a deadly threat

Cast my lot. place my bet

Woven within the tapestry

A golden thread of what is me

Yet frightened to lose my sense of will

Listening for comfort, bombarded by shrill

Colossal failure, limited success

Cleaning the cup, leaving a mess

Precious is not the price, you see

But rather, the cost in evolving me.

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Ask Jonathots … February 18th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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ask jonathots bigger

Parenting question: What is the best way to discipline young children? Do you believe in time-outs? How about spanking?

If you arrived on a new job and your boss walked in the room and said, “Don’t touch the water cooler, the copy machine and don’t drink more than three cups of coffee,” and then strolled out of the room, what would you think?

Well, since it was a new job, you wouldn’t know exactly what you were supposed to do–only informed of what was forbidden.

That’s the mistake we make with parenting.

A child, who is full of energy, hopes, dreams and wants to have a good time, is instructed in all the things that are unacceptable, without being channeled in a direction to use all of the creative explosion bursting within.

Although you may want to discuss discipline, I think the most important thing for any parent to consider are ways to avoid needing discipline.

By the time you get to the point of discipline, the issue is usually too much or too little, no matter how hard you try. So how can we avoid disciplining our children so much, and still have them grow up to be fantastic human beings?

It’s a two-step process:

  1. Decide what you want them to do.
  2. Shrink the situation and give them a chance to practice.

In other words, if you want your kids to play with a puzzle for an hour, find an area where you want them to play, provide a snack, and do puzzles with them until you ignite their interest.

Put a time limit on it, and then come and retrieve them for the next project.

You cannot expect to leave a child in a room with no guidance, no floor plan for activities, only telling them what’s bad, and think you won’t have a mess.

Find what you want them to do and then shrink the room to that activity.

Remember: life is based on a reward system, not a punishment.

So just as you are given a paycheck because you followed the rules of the company, which includes doing your job, your kids should likewise be rewarded for good behavior and contributing to the cause.

So the answer to your question?

Try to eliminate discipline, but when you do find a need to do so, make sure you have created a reward system.

Tell your children, “If you will play with this puzzle for thirty minutes and then pick up your toys in the corner and throw away this trash by the time I get back, I will let you watch your favorite show.” Then follow up on it.

  • You control the food.
  • You control the entertainment.
  • You even control the water.

Use it to your advantage.

But don’t expect children to follow rules without having a plan of action to fill their time and exhaust their energy.

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Good News and Better News … October 5th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News Cross Plains

Yesterday I had the chance to share at a Lutheran church in Cross Plains, Wisconsin.

Lutherans believe in grace. I have to admit, I do favor that particular favoring. Grace seems to be a cool drink of water on a hot day.

But I must tell you, I do think grace requires a bit of confirmation.

Just as kind is bolstered by a bit of kindness, and love is greatly enhanced by loving, grace waits patiently for the arrival of gracious.

Yes, those who have been bestowed grace are given the opportunity of being gracious. It is an opportunity that certainly should be embraced as an expectation. And what is gracious?

Gracious is when we wink our eye at our brothers and sisters and laughingly say, “You think you’re bad? You should know me!”

  • It’s endearing.
  • It’s humble.
  • It’s human.
  • It’s funny.
  • It’s relaxed.
  • And it is the definition, in human form, of good cheer.

I looked for the presence of gracious in my Cross Plains hosts.

Wow. They did good.

They welcomed us. They listened, They were helpful. They shared their own hearts without fear. And most importantly, rather than standing at a distance in piety, they learned.

It was amazing.

So what is my contribution to this lovely group of people I met in Cross Plains? Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re either too young or too old.

The church is losing its power by eliminating the youth, and assuming that those who have reached retirement are incapable of transformation. If you’re going to stunt the growth of a congregation by thinking people are too young or too old, you’ll put your faith in those in the middle, who are completely encompassed with raising children and having their mortgage growl at them every month. These are not the people to lead your church–these are the folks who desperately need the ministry of the church.

But getting your younger members to be excited about church again, and your older folks to put their work boots back on instead of setting them in the corner, is what will transform all churches–including the Lutheran souls in Cross Plains–into a force of gracious effort.

I so enjoyed all the people I met.

I was greeted with warm handshakes, smiles, tears, hugs and one dear lady even kissed me.

But good Lutherans that you are, please remember, grace is much easier to understand when it is acted out by those who are gracious.

And it will be the young who will see visions ,,, and your older folks who will hatch new dreams.

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G-Poppers… December 26, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Popper

 

After the presents were opened, the children quickly disappeared to gather all their treasures for deep consideration of play-status preference.

An hour passes. The little ones begin to dribble back into the room. One of them asks G-Pop, “Are you sad Christmas is over?”

G-Pop: It’s not over until we say so. It doesn’t stop unless we cease to give. The songs are not silenced, waiting for another year. Bits and pieces of them are contained in every tune we sing. “Peace on earth” awaits champions. “Good will toward men” is the needed mission of every soul who chooses sanity.

The baby born stirs the child within us. The shepherds remind us that God is alive in our work. The angels recruit giddy believers, summoning the willing. The wise men keep us all chasing our dreams.

Christmas is ours and ours alone, if we will take rightful ownership and refuse to relinquish our deed.

It is a lifestyle, not a holiday.

It is yours and mine to possess … and release. 

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