Archives October 2020

How Far Can We Go?

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Ain’t no mountain high enough, Ain’t no valley low enough, Ain’t no river wild enough, to keep me away from you.

Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson 1966

Well, the sky could be the limit, but what are we talking about? It makes a great song, but honestly, there is only one love that can claim to go with us everywhere and be invincible.

As a human, I know what is meant when I see the words such as, “I am a mother, I may look calm and genteel, but if you mess with my family you will see…” and of course there is some threat that goes along with it like “I’ll show you seven kinds of crazy”.

I know that feeling, but in reality, we all know that will only go so far because I can only go so far. Even if I lay down my life for my family there is only one life.

We pray that we would be courageous enough to be willing to go the extra mile for our family. To be willing to lay down our life if need be. Yet on the other hand…How many parents are willing to live for their children?

As adults we find it too easy to compromise and fail our families. When Old Fuzzy and I were married we didn’t talk about how many children we wanted, where we wanted to live, or…we didn’t talk about a lot of things. When we realized we were going to have a baby then we had some serious communicating to do.

We started out renting a house in town, six months later we rented a house in the country. By our first anniversary, we were full-fledge farming. We didn’t have lots of things but we didn’t suffer either.

When we were faced with having a family I told Old Fuzzy I wanted to be a stay at home mother like his mother and my grandmother. We adjusted our income to a single income family—to live on one income.

We learned to live within our budget, we had a good garden, and we worked together with our family. Basically, we were frugal and didn’t need the newest anything that came along.

Hubby and I were eighteen when we were married, had our first child when we were nineteen and didn’t look back. But our first and foremost concern was how would the Lord want us to do…from raising our family, running our home, and all of our relationships.

We didn’t get everything right but we sure made a good stab at it. Even today, or maybe I should say especially in today’s world the Lord still walks with us. God first and family second.

Galatians 2:

19  For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

20  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

21  I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

And Then There Was Life

clouds dawn nature ocean

I remember three art class teachers from my public school days. I don’t remember any of their names but oddly enough it was a lesson from the very first teacher that I remember most vividly.

We were maybe sixth graders sitting in the art class. Mr. Teacher held up a very pretty picture he had drawn with crayons. His message was Don’t let people discourage you. Art isn’t the medium you use, it is how and what you create. Even crayons in the hand of an artist become art.

I don’t remember any other art classes until my Sophomore and Junior years in high school. We did still life oils in one quarter and somewhere in there, we did pottery. I loved both oil painting and working with clay.

Working with clay has its challenges. We didn’t have class every day and if, as is normal, you don’t finish your project in one day it went back in the clay bin wrapped in wet paper towels.

The school bought our clay in large amounts. I don’t know if it came in a powder then they mixed it, or if it came wet. I have thought about and read on the subject of using ‘natural’ clay—Clay that you can dig out of the ground.

The caution as I remember with natural clay was making sure there were no rocks left in the clay. If there were rocks in the clay during the firing they would cause the piece to explode and break of course destroying the pottery.

Very seldom as we go through life do we wonder where we are going, not in the broad sense. Keep in mind as you go on your way this excerpt copied from Facebook by Rick Holland: “When I was 15 I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What’s your favorite subject? And I told him, no I don’t play any sports. I do theater, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes.
And he went WOW. That’s amazing! And I said, “Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.”
And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.”
And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could “Win” at them.”

Jeremiah 18:

1  The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

2  Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.

3  Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.

4  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

5  Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 6  O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

Full Deck

photo of red roses

How many put-downs are there? I’m sure I’ve heard too many to remember.

For people who have a large nose? When God was handing out noses, you thought he said roses, so you got a big one.

My mother used the train put down for me on more than one occasion because as a child I had a penchant for doing brainless things. Hence, when God was passing out brains you thought he said trains and since you weren’t going anywhere, you didn’t get one.

How many other ways does that come across? His elevator doesn’t go to the top floor. He’s a few short of a full box. Their light bulb is shorted out. That person is playing with less than a full deck.

It isn’t a bad thing to be able to laugh, and to be able to laugh at yourself is not a bad trait to have either. Of course, it can go too far.

Laughter is medicine the scriptures tell us. In reading my Bible reading earlier I came across a scripture in Jeremiah that every time I read it I laugh. I understand the prophet’s feelings.

Jeremiah 15:10  Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.

So, here we are thinking about laughter, but not everything is funny and laughter may lighten up a situation that is somewhat somber in order to look at things a bit more carefully.

They say you should never talk about religion or politics but those are the two things people should talk about. Politics determines how we live here in this present life. Religion affects where we live in the next life.

Act 2:

21  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

22  Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:

23  Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

24  Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Act 2:

32  This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

Act 2:

36  Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

37  Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Act 2:38  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Between Two Tines

two women sitting on vehicle roofs

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

I wonder how many times the reference to Charles Dickens’ novel, Tale of Two Cities is made? I have seen it quite often lately.

Indeed, I know of no one who doesn’t have down moments. I try to carry at least a bit of sunshine in my pocket—something to be happy about or to smile about.

I came across some statements on a placard the other day. My initial response was to agree with them because I’m an agreeable person. One thing I’ve developed is a ‘truth detector’. This detector takes a statement or idea and says on the surface this may be true, but let’s dig deeper.

The statements are:

It isn’t my job to fix others. On the surface this is true. I do not have a psychiatrist’s degree. As my Grandma used to say, I’m just an old lady trying to get along. So, that doesn’t mean I have to unfix people either. As a Christian, I’m here to point people to the one who can heal them.

It’s okay if others get angry. I’m not sure why it wouldn’t be okay if others or even if I get angry. Somethings should make us angry, but how do we handle that anger? That’s the key. Injustice for example should make us angry, but what do we do with that anger?

It’s okay to say no. There have been times when I should have said no and I learned that we all have limits. No one can do it all, there is no such thing as a superman or superwoman. As one friend I have says, we aren’t supposed to do God’s job.

It’s not my job to take responsibility for others. In an article I wrote years ago titled “Busyness” I made this exact point. The only Bible reading and study some (Christians) do is Sunday morning. Parents bring me their children to teach them Bible lessons. Instead of it being the icing on the cake of what they learn at home, it is the sum total of their child’s learning.

It is my job to make me happy. This is a yes/no thing. My happiness should not depend on someone else. If I’m constantly unhappy because other people aren’t stepping to do what I think they should be doing (for me) I’m going to be unhappy a lot. On the other hand, it isn’t the goal of my life to be happy.

Nobody has to agree with me/I do have a right to my own opinion and feelings. This should be an obvious statement. It goes along with the first amendment, freedom of speech. I do wish people would learn to put their thoughts and opinion into better words but…

I am enough. I suppose there are various meanings to that phrase. I find myself often trying to be ‘more’. I’m often trying to be better than I was yesterday, or better than I am and I fall short every time. Because when all is said and done it is the blood of Jesus that saves this sinner and makes me enough.

2 Timothy 2:

3  Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

4  No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

5  And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

6  The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.

7  Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.

8  Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:

9  Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.

10  Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

11  It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:

12  If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

13  If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. 14  Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.

Provocateur

silhouette photo of person standing in neon lit hallway

So, I’m watching a Jordan Peterson interview. My family knows I enjoy watching Peterson interviews because…

I can’t put a finger on why exactly but it has to do with the way he tries to put the things he’s learned into words others can understand.

That doesn’t usually mean others appreciate what they understand. After they understand it they often become in denial. This is why it’s so interesting. For instance, there is a theory that there isn’t a difference between males and females it is only the way they are taught to behave by society.

I am a poor mother of seven children and I can tell you several things about that theory, but the main thing is it’s hogwash. Peterson in his interview cites that there had been three separate studies done ‘recently’ (I don’t know the date of the video) that showed ‘most’ males took interest in things and most females were most interested in people. Neither preference is good or bad. It isn’t like one prefers working and the other prefers stealing.

Therefore, in consequence, he said it is no wonder when it comes to job choices more males are engineers (a thing choice) and more females choose a people job such as nursing. He wasn’t saying all males or all females because of course there are exceptions to the rule.

But here’s where the provocateur comes in. Another person on the stage said no, she believed you could teach them to be otherwise. He said, well, like it or not the three separate studies showed differently (it wasn’t a taught thing?). In other words, you can believe what you want but the truth is the truth.

He is also very emphatic about personal responsibility. Personal responsibility leads over into every facet of our lives. In the same interview, the subject of divorce came up. Children, of course, are the ones most devastated by divorce. Children thrive in a stable, two-parent, traditional, marriage.

He stated that if you advocate for children and their welfare you would tell people to not divorce for the children’s sake. Someone asked him if you wait until it’s all right for the children, at what age would they be? He said, oh, when they’re about forty. (Now, I understood that to mean when the children are about forty).

I enjoy these partially because he’s a finger in the eye to the ‘experts’. The experts have their agenda and they attempt to line up the facts to support that agenda. And the facts don’t usually line up with their agenda. Dr. Peterson tries to be honest and uses the data to see what it supports. I don’t know that I agree with everything he says, but I haven’t knowledge of everything he espouses.

I do know that the truth is truth. God has given us the truth, and we can know the truth.

John 8:

31  Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

32  And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

33  They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

34  Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

35  And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.

36  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Wind and Waves

art cathedral chapel christ

Mark 4:

37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlpSl3yadO4

Lighting the Darkness

  

bonfire

Don’t feel bad if people

remember you only when they

need you.

Feel privileged that you are like a candle

that comes to their mind

when there is darkness.

Delicate

I’ve never considered myself as delicate. I’ve always thought of me as indestructible. Yet after the birth of our sixth child wherein he was delivered in a C-section and both of us almost died, a friend of mine commented that some people were just delicate like that.

In some ways I think I did dumb things when I was growing up to prove that I was indestructible. Yet it’s hard to be sure if that was my true motive or if I did dumb things because I could (do dumb things).

However, as I grow older I find I’m stuck. Either I’ve gotten so used to doing dumb things and that’s what I do, or doing smart things is more difficult than I thought.

Bench pressing?

I’ve read numerous times what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger, which means (as they say) I should be able to bench-press a Buick. During my life I’ve lost things and that is normal as we go through life. Some of those things were dear to me. Yet as is normal as well we pick up and move forward. As with the analogy of a scoop truck scooping up things and adding them on the front of the load even as things fall off the back.

Picking up isn’t as easy now as it was twenty years ago. What’s funny is we don’t usually see it coming. Some wiser person has said it this way, I knew I’d get old, I just didn’t think it would come so soon.

1 Thessalonians 2:

8  So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.

9  For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.

10  Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

11  As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

12  That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

Lighting the Fire

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Life is difficult, pray harder, isn’t just a trite saying. That is a command and ‘pray without ceasing’ is another directive we need to listen to and follow.

Call for prayer? I’m not thinking that I really want a voice from heaven saying, You down there. Yeah, you, the one praying. This is what I want you to do… But at some point a real clear answer in what path God wants me to take as opposed to the door He’s actually shutting would be helpful.

I don’t want to be found fighting against God. I know that Satan is the father of lies and Satan will try and detour a Christian from doing what’s right. God will try to deter a Christian from doing wrong or not beneficial.

(Acapeldridge Jesus Name Above All Names:)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxMmj7pdIjM

What we want to do may not be something wrong, but it may not be something that’s good for us to do. I do feel like one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord.

2 Kings 2:

9  And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.

10  And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.

11  And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

I’ll Fly Away

seagull in clear sky over sea

Today we need a big rock in our pocket to prevent us from flying away, or being blown away by the wind.

A few weeks ago one of the wind turbines in the area lost part of a blade, and just this week north of here forty or more miles another wind turbine had an oops.

I’m not a big fan of wind turbines. One turbine can look graceful on the horizon, but 200 of them look sinister. At night their red eyes look downright evil. I am accused of being not progressive. This is what I’ve read and some of what I know: they are very expensive to put up and maintain. They aren’t always efficient and wind, as well as solar, has definite drawbacks.

Two major problems are they don’t work if the wind isn’t blowing or in the case of the solar when the sun doesn’t shine. They are noisy, sometimes extremely noisy. There are people who say they have affected their health, and some of us are concerned that they influence the rainfall and weather patterns. In winter the blades can throw ice chunks breaking car windows, and windows in general. When the blades break off they can throw those and are a real hazard. They do give people jobs and that’s not a bad thing.

All that glitters isn’t gold, and gold doesn’t always glitter. Value? How do we determine value? Now, there are some things that are priceless, like Ron Ananian says, ‘A good mechanic isn’t expensive, they’re priceless.” There are many things that are priceless; A beautiful sunrise or sunset, a gentle rain when needed; The smile of a child, the smile of a loved one; peace at the end of a good day, and so many more things. Most of them are priceless because they can’t be bought for money.

Isaiah 65:

17  For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

18  But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.

19  And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.

20  There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.

21  And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.

22  They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

23  They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.

24  And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

25  The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.

Tips, Tricks, and Talent

I’ve been writing publicly for close to fifteen years now and just published my first book (https://donevywestphalauthor.com/showcase/). Still searching for ways to improve, I keep reading about making my blog great and all sorts of tips and tricks on what readers are looking for.

I first began writing a blog entitled ‘Writing to Heal the Weary Soul’ https://deborawephraim.blogspot.com/, then I went to the Wix site—https://deborawephraim.wixsite.com/ and now I write here on my very own site.

Now, what I have found to be my biggest tip is that writing every day does indeed increase readership. But I have a real wrestle with the following rules. Here are some of those rules or tips and tricks—

Highlight tips and tricks

Tip number one: start with a killer title A subnote here, since I’m writing nearly 365 posts per year, writing 365 killer titles isn’t going to happen from my brain.

Number two: Start your blog post with a gripping first line. Subnote here, that isn’t as difficult as 365 killer titles. That may happen, but sometimes what is gripping to one reader may not be to another.

Highlight tip number three: Share relevant stories from the heart. I like to share stories, and I don’t know any of them not from my heart. The difficult part is giving a story that has a take away that can be recognized.

Number Four: Think “devotion” or “article,” not “diary.” Sometimes I do both. An author’s blog should be able to share the author and the author’s world. This point is difficult for me. I’m a farm wife, a mother, grandmother (or gramme to several), and even a great grandmother. My children have grown and left home, but not my heart. I have grandchildren who have grown and left their homes, but not our hearts. But I don’t share many things on my blog because this blog goes places I don’t want all of my family going. And they are too dear to me.

Highlight tip number five: Don’t write “stiff.” Write as if you are talking to a friend. Most days that’s how I write, yet, when I look at all the ‘rules’ on use fabulous words, unique words, but repeat keywords, and similes and… they all seem to want writers to fit into their box.

Highlight tip number six: If you have written “from the heart,” go back and see if your post follows a hidden outline. After many years of writing, I’ve noticed a tendency toward a conspiracy in my writing to sort of follow a pattern.

Highlight tip number seven: End with a bang—a takeaway that the reader will treasure Note here: Don’t play with dynamite. And those are all tips and tricks to catch the reader.

The Takeaway

The original title comes from a gardening show which was popular a few years back, Tips, Tricks, and Tonics with Jerry Baker; if memory serves me (sometimes it does). Some readers may have followed me long enough to know that I do indeed garden and dabble in herbal tonics, poultices, and various and sundry old fashion housewifery practices, but not lately and not on my author blog.

Talent tips? Each writer has their own voice. I’ve had critics that have been rave reviews and I’ve had reviews that were less than kind. My grandmother used to have a saying, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Others when viewing another person’s choice of a mate have said, there’s no accounting for taste/preference. And talent is a combination of both. To some people, my writing may look like rambling, and to others, it may look like pure genius. Then there is the rest of the world.

Isaiah 42:

9)  Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.

10)  Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.

11)  Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. 12)  Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare his praise in the islands.