The American Way

Was thinking yesterday about the differences in world cultures, specifically, the ability of those in other parts of the world who embrace and benefit from multi-generational co-habitation.  Families who do not grow up and move away from their family, but who start their own family with the benefit of parents, grandparents, siblings, and etc. sharing the same roof, pooling their resources together and defining family and community in a whole different context than the what has morphed into the American definition of the word.

My dad used to dream of owning a large piece of land, and having a big house where all his kids and their kids could live, so that he could enjoy them as he aged.  Of course, he never got what he dreamed of this side of heaven’s gates, but I think he was a bit ahead of his time, or maybe behind it.  This kind of mentality goes completely against the grain of the American Way.  The “I, ME, MINE” mentality.  America’s progress report, if we had one, would fail at “shares well with others”, and “treats others with respect”.  What would it take to reverse this?  I think it would have to start with personal revival and a change of heart regarding the practical application of denying ourselves, laying down our rights, and looking out for the good of others ahead of watching out for #1.

I think that people who can figure this out, and learn to live in harmony with others (as opposed to isolating themselves and denying themselves a part in community), will be ahead of the game during troubled times that are headed our way here in America.  What do you think?

Plan A, Plan B

Yesterday, I set out to make breakfast for my husband before he left for work.  I had the sausage browned and crumbled, added the flour to make a roux, and reached for the milk from the fridge.  I didn’t realize until I had started to pour that the milk had soured.  My whole plan for eggs with sausage gravy and toast was ruined.

On to Plan B.  Steak that was to be used for supper later in the week with scrambled eggs and fried spuds.  My husband, who is very much a “meat and potatoes” kinda guy was much pleased with the change in plan, and commented that next time, we should just skip plan A and start with plan B.

Funny, but it made me think.  Plan A is often optimistic, and filled with good intentions.  Much like our plan A  to move to Canada and start a new life there.  We were filled with anticipation, and grand plans of getting to know husband’s side of the family, and be available to assist in the care of his aging father.  This plan also was handy for the purpose of removing our youngest daughter from dangerous surroundings and peers who were dragging her down.  We were led to believe that there was work for my husband there, only to find once we arrived that we had been misled, or at least misinformed.  The certification for the job that he had done for 25 years in the U.S. was not a valid certification in Canada.  To obtain valid certification would require $700 to take a test, that was graded and judged by the same individuals who would then sell modules to bring him up to standard in areas that he may have not been up to par with, in their biased opinion.  We simply did not have that kind of money to gamble away on a potential to have to pay more.  It was a clear conflict of interest, and so, the search for different work ensued.

Long story short, we never did find work sufficient to supporting the four of us there.  Our plan A had fallen flat.  Added to that humiliation and disappointment was unexpected and fractured family dynamics, homelessness, and total dependence on strangers.

Our Plan A was the soured milk on the anticipation and good intended breakfast.

Fast forward a year…our Plan B has landed us in the deep south.  With the help of some beautiful friends and family members, we are slowly but surely getting back on our feet.  We find ourselves in a situation that calls for the same heart desire we had when heading to Canada.  We are getting to know family members that had been distant, and are able to support them in their role of caring for a terminally ill family member.  Our Plan B, right now is steak and potatoes!  It’s not perfect, definitely not what we expected, but there are a lot of really good things coming out of our failed Plan A…things that require the same heart intentions we had when preparing for the move to Canada.

What if our Plan A was the means to bring about God’s Plan A in us?

What if God’s plans (being higher than our plans…his ways above our ways) are not labeled alphabetically or numbered according to importance.

What if the way we view “all things working together for good” is not about how pleasant and smooth the circumstances are, or how great we feel, or how we perceive “good” to be.

What if the good He’s bringing about is not about the tangible things at all…but in the hidden work He is doing in us, his workmanship.

What if it really is all about me!?  Me becoming less, so that He can become more…me being pressed into the mold of Jesus, being conformed to His image.

What if knowing God’s will…His Plan A, if you will…is as simple as Micah 6:8.

He has shown you, Oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires.  To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Your God.

If we were intent on fulfilling the most simply stated “will of God”, it wouldn’t matter if we were in Idaho, Canada, the deep south or Timbuktu.

If we are loving God with all of our heart soul and mind;

if we are behaving ourselves in a just, merciful, and humble way;

if we are loving our neighbor as ourselves, and doing all that we do for the glory of God; then we are accomplishing God’s Plan A for our lives, where ever we may find ourselves.