Archives November 2022

And Then There’s That

Here it comes, here it is, and there it was. Thoughts in retrospect.

cropland duiring night time

Here we sit the day before Thanksgiving, and it will soon be the day of, and the day after, and… In the good old days on the Friday following Thanksgiving I would get my Christmas card list out and—get my cards done. That hasn’t happened for several years now. I’ve not felt good and there’s that.

Quite a few years ago for some reason, it became a tradition for Thanksgiving to be held at our house. My in-laws, would assemble with us, everyone brought something and there were at least three tables for participants.

We never knew exactly how many we would have but usually anywhere between twenty and thirty people showed up.

Through the years things have kaleidoscoped, faces changing from young to old, to new, to gone… some by chance, some by choice. In looking at pictures through the ages of the family together times I wonder.

I wonder for those who left by choice do they ever think back on those days, and if they do think back, is it with peace as to what has been as better or at least as good days? I’m sure it’s just me and my maudlin mulling, wondering about life and whatnot.

4D chess…How to get there…In a hurry…

The Bible begins with, “In the beginning, God…” And we know that God created the heavens and the earth. He had a plan and it has been existing and unfolding for quite some time.

When I was a young person in sixth grade there were two classmates who during the winter every lunch hour played chess, and I admired how smart they were. I had a chess set but didn’t feel that was as challenging as chess.

It probably wasn’t as challenging, but it may have been more my fault than the game’s. Chess is a challenging game and in recent years there is a new layer to chess called 4D chess. I don’t know the rules to that or how it is played. But I do know chess itself is a game of strategy. The players use well-thought-out plans purposes in their game—unless they are like me.

“I don’t think outside the box. I don’t think inside the box either. I’m still trying to find the box.” So the meme says, and I can attest to that. As I’ve discovered years ago, “If there’s a hard way to do something, I’ll find it…” So many sayings, so little time.

In the writing society, there are generally two main types. One type of writer is known as the “Planster” and the other is known as the “Panster.” The first type outlines and plans out their novel the second sits down and writes “by the seat of their pants.”

Going through self-help courses has been a self-help, but I have discovered that no matter how I try, I’ll never be a planner. When I write a novel I’m often just as surprised by where it takes us as the reader when they read.

Life has a way of imitating art so to speak. I’ve been a planner always working to plot out and be in control of my life. Alas, God has more than once shown me that His plans don’t always match mine.

From the very first when I was going to wait two years to start our family of two children, one boy, and one girl… Yes, it has been an interesting ride, and although not all of it has been pleasant, the main things I wouldn’t change or take a million dollars for.

But how did we get here? We were always in such a hurry, such a rush, but my mind is still working to understand where here is and what it means to be here. I’ve recently asked people who matter, do you trust us?

Is life a gamble like a crap shoot? The winner takes all, and the loser just loses? God has a plan, and as he’s shown me throughout my life, my plans aren’t always his plans. I can attest that I’ve lost control of more than just the weather. The same question comes to me, do I trust God?

As I look around I feel as if I’m playing 4D chess, I don’t know the rules, and I’ve got a blindfold. Life has been a constant struggle like a salmon swimming upstream trying to get back to where it came from—to get home.

It is easy to say loudly and proudly yes, I trust God, as long as we’re walking in the broad sunlight valley, but not so easy in the mountain crags.

Psalms 82:

“1 A Psalm of Asaph. God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.

3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.

6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.”

Shooting for Tomorrow

Let’s talk…

small airplane on airfield in countryside against sundown sky

Conversation is important. Words are important… but wait a minute. I know people who can talk for a long time, they use a lot of words and actually say nothing.

It does remind me of Young Fuzzy’s last piano teacher’s admonition. “Perfect practice makes perfect.” You can practice something over and over again, but unless you practice it correctly it has only been an act of futility.

Today I’ve watched the news and notes. I came across two items that caught my fancy. One of the first was a speaker who had nine tips on life that he wanted to share. Some of them I found worth passing on, or a form of them.

His first tip is do not pursue a dream, or your dream unless you are passionate about that dream. In some instances, young people think they know what they want to do only to discover once they set their feet on that path that maybe it wasn’t what they wanted after all. Or, don’t get so caught up in following a dream that you lose sight of other things.

A person I knew was very sure she wanted to pursue an accounting degree because she thought that was where the money was. After a short time, she changed her mind because being shut up with books and finances wasn’t something she wanted to sell her soul for the rest of her life. She became a teacher.

I knew another young woman who set out to be a teacher but found she did have a propensity for books and numbers. She became an accountant. Yet in both of these instances, neither person found the end of their dream in a career.

Number two tip? Don’t seek for happiness. Finding joy isn’t something you will have a formula for.  Happiness isn’t in something you eat or something you wear. It isn’t found in a vacation spot or another person. Without inner peace, you won’t find happiness.

Other things mentioned were, take care of yourself, eat healthy and exercise. Examine your opinions/beliefs, and be true and truthful. Define yourself by what you love. And lastly, how you treat someone less than yourself shows people who you are.

The overall tenure of the speech lacked inspiration due to the underlying theology. The speaker in the above piece referred to life as “long, hard, and tough.” He called it “an exceptionally, meaningless life.”

Without God, a person could look at life hopelessly. And if a person believes there isn’t any real point to existence here—within the eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die people—well, you could fall into that trench.

When people I know view a beautiful sunrise or a sunset, we praise God. We thank the Creator for the beauty and blessings of this life. We thank God for the good that comes our way, and sometimes we are thankful even for the less-than-good that comes our way.

However, there was another piece that caught my eye. It concerned itself with a WWII vet that was 103 years old. As he dressed up to celebrate Veterans’ Day the interviewer asked about his background.

He had been through many trials such as the dust bowl, the Depression, and he had been a pilot and a prisoner of war. After the war he suffered from depression for a time when he was in the hospital enduring painful back problems. A small gift from a nurse, an origami bird of paradise figure saved his life.

That gift caused a shift in his attitude from pessimistic to optimistic. After some surgery and recovery, he married, lived his life, and carried on. In summarizing his life he said there were three sections. The first goal was getting used to life. After you pass that hurdle a person had to learn to enjoy life and the third stage was to celebrate life.

So, there you have it. When this distinguished older man was asked at the end of the interview, “What are you shooting for, Art?” He laughed and answered, “Tomorrow.”

Ecclesiastes “8:11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:”

Ecclesiastes “12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

Taking and Giving

forest at night

10) … and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

The beginning of the week brings new challenges… and opportunities. We’ve had some very nice weather the last week. We still need rain. I’m reminded of the Proverb “All sunshine and no rain makes a desert.”

So often we read or hear certain scriptures that when we think of a book or prophet that’s the only thing we remember. As if a prophet is a one-verse speaker. Malachi is an interesting book in the Minor Prophets and when I think of Malachi his one-phrase speech is in conjunction with these cross-references to “This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.” to signify John the Baptizer’s coming and preparing the way for Jesus. Matthew_11:10, Mark_1:2, Luke_7:27.

(Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”)

But wait there is more to Malachi. When we were in Tennessee, some of the folk, when they were receiving rain in the right amount at the right time would say, “We’re paying the preacher.” Meaning of course that the preacher was getting a good wage and God was pleased with his people for taking care of the preacher.

Malachi “3:

“6) For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

7) Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?

8) Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

9) Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

10) Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

Will a man rob God?

“But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” And there you have it, but…

We also know that we can’t give God anything that he needs. As the Psalmist says: Psalms 50:10 “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. 11) I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.12) If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.”

God sets the standard—the standard of good and evil, right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable. We are told God loves a cheerful giver. I don’t know why, but we are happier when we give cheerfully. We are also instructed to make sure we pay those who have worked for us. To pay them willingly and not keep back their wages.

Those who are stingy and miserly are a curse to themselves and to others around them. It isn’t quite time for the reading of A Christmas Carrol, but Dickens’ classic tale illustrates the difference a willing and liberal heart makes in our lives.

“Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.”

(Psalms 50:14-17)