Archives December 2022

Singing in the Sunshine

“I believe in the sun even if I cannot see it.

I believe in love even if I cannot feel it.

And, I believe in God even when he is silent.”

woman carrying baby at beach during sunset

True to myself I’m destined to be. I don’t know where I got that but it does reflect what I believe. It was apparently part of a longer piece found written: Unknown (written during WW2, on the wall of a cellar, by a Jew in the Cologne concentration camp)

Maybe it’s a remembrance day—maybe it’s just a day with memory.

A person doesn’t have to grow old for the thoughts and words to slip out, “I remember when.” It does seem to get worse as you grow older.

I remember when I had a son… well, I have more than one son even now, and believe me each one is in my heart, thoughts, and prayers. But this one son would call me every day as he was driving and we would have a nice, long conversation.

It wasn’t anything about anything really, just a pass the time, these are the people in my life, this is where I’m at, this is what I’m doing, and seeing sort of chat.

Memories can be like that. They draw you back in time. Times like before he left to drive “on the road”, and we were the odd couple trying to live in the same world. He with his big feet in “our” garden, and his rough edges and not quite so polished demeanor, and me with my “don’t step on my (volunteer) tomato plant. You have the biggest feet this side of Paul Bunyan.”

He with his honesty, “Why is that dumb tomato plant in the middle of the row?” And me with my own logic, “because it’s a volunteer, and that’s where it volunteered?”

And there is the memory even farther back of the golden-haired little angel with the tiny baby feet, as were all of the soft tiny baby feet. And a person would blow on those tiny feet pretending to gobble them up so that the little person would laugh, I would laugh… it was before Alexa or she would have laughed.

Ah, yes, memories can be like that. I’ve seen it written, the loneliest thing isn’t to be alone, it’s to be forgotten. That is true, but I also believe instead of crying because it’s over we also need to acknowledge how grateful we are that it happened.

Each one of my children has made me into the good and bad I am today. Each one of them has stories with me and I love them all for what we’ve had. The difficult part of being a parent is that when we raise our children correctly we raise them to someday stand on their own—without us.

I think it’s an old Irish proverb that says, “Never move so far from your parents that you cannot see their chimney.” In our modern world—I think I need to quick, build a bigger chimney. Not only have they moved too far away they need new glasses.

I write that with my normal weird sense of humor. Like the old woman who says the wrong thing at the right time, or the right thing at the wrong time, it’s just out of sync. Knowing that even if we lived side by side there isn’t enough time in the day to have long chats over a cup of tea. We have to grab our opportunities as they pass by and then that’s like the bald-headed doll as it whizzes by.

And thankful I am that it happened. I wonder at people who haven’t been as blessed as I am and a God who thought Old Fuzzy and I were worthy for those he gave us. Or did God just foresee it would take all of them to keep up with Old Fuzzy and me? Opportunities—they are what they are.

 Today has been mostly cloudy with an occasional outburst of sun so I’m not sitting or singing in the sunshine constantly. I do have enough to be content.

Isaiah 4:

2) In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.

3) And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem:

4) When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.

5) And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.

6) And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.

1 Corinthians 16:22  If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! ESV

If Not Now…

But I don’t give advice, I just tell stories…

red and black bird on red flowers

I don’t know anyone who actually takes advice, so there’s that. And especially when they don’t ask for it, or especially when they don’t think they need it.

Thinking you need advice is something that happens as you wonder why everything has gone wrong and you want a do-over to get it right. I know this—I was young and foolish… and have been such since I was young and foolish.

One of my go-to phrases after Old Fuzzy and I were married was let’s ask your folks what they think, so it wasn’t that we didn’t ask. Maybe we should have asked more on several other topics than we did.

On the other hand, we did use scripture as another go-to example. Still, when you’re in your twenties and thirties you are like a wanderer in a blizzard. You feel your way carefully lest you slide off the precipice.

I’d always wanted to raise a garden when young. My mother-in-law was a treasure trove of how to can and preserve food as well as how to raise a garden. I was blessed with her instructions in those areas.

I’m sure my grandma knew much more than I asked her about, but still growing up around her I picked up many helps for cooking and baking. We always said our grandma made the best cinnamon rolls, and that was only slightly true.

We have a cynical saying that covers most of our lives, “she did the best she could with what she had to work with.” I can build on Grandma’s recipe and use today’s ingredients that she didn’t have or couldn’t afford to use and I can improve on her concoctions.

In some ways, it was a combination of the best of both worlds. My grandmother’s older ways with a mother’s insight that I never got from my own mother. The thought has passed through my mind on occasion that I couldn’t visualize my mother working in a garden. The whole sweating thing would have been a total turn off I think.

My grandfather spoke on occasions of the huge garden they raised in their younger years. He once pointed to the hillside just north of the house and said, “We used to have that whole hillside in garden.”

That would have been a large garden. I was amazed when he told me that, partly because they weren’t a young family when they purchased that farm and that was a goodly portion of ground for a garden.

Their lives seemed to be a hodge-podge of nonrelated events. Or related events but not related in any logical manner. If you could take the thoughts of—We bought a car and there will be four candles and ten balloons. And find a relationship in any of those thoughts at face value.

It is a strange world we live in for sure. I read a piece lately headlined, How long is forever? And how soon is never? The gist of the thoughts were making long-range plans is like building castles in the clouds.

Because we live in a short-term world where we deal mostly with the short term, no matter how many down-the-road plans we make there are too many get-in-the-ways that happen and those long-range plans are more likely to take forever and actually never come to pass.

So it is with most of us and our lives. We make the plans of the heart thinking “someday I will…” and maybe we even start out on that plan. Maybe we start education in the support of our someday adventure making advances toward our goal.

A few years ago, in 1995 apparently, there was a movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus. If I remember correctly it began with a very young couple. The man was a young musician with dreams of writing a famous opus and becoming rich and famous but on the way…

As the movie review says, on the way to changing lives— of all the lives he changed the life he changed the most was his own. It showed how he worked at teaching and reaching out to his students, and he was so busy his opus was put on the shelf until the surprising ending of the movie.

I wrote this the other day and I believe it bears repeating because even though we’ve become really smart in this generation, we’ve also become really dumb. “Most people raise children while working at the important things in life, not realizing that raising children is the most important thing in life.”

Our next generation is our legacy and we’re allowing that next generation, our legacy to be destroyed. If they can’t sacrifice them to Satan physically they’ll tear them down and sacrifice them spiritually. Our God is not just a God of the long term someday, he’s the God of today. The God of the here and now.

Zechariah 4:

8) Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

9)The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.

10) For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.

The Finish Line

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Mark Twain.

person wearing brown boots

Advice is cheap in this world. I like to keep my advice short, but it usually ends up as a work of fiction.

Long story short, what I’ve tried to say for years is we’re missing the truth. People giving advice is everywhere and all it does is muddy the water. There is nothing as encouraging as a learned professor who’s never been married giving marital advice—Or a child-rearing expert who has no child.

What counsel do you keep? Which words of wisdom do you pitch? In years past the Bible was the rule of living. Phrases like, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” or “Let your light shine,” or “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.”

In those years, people’s favorite verse was John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” People were thankful that God had sent a savior and they could be forgiven of their sins and go to heaven.

Now we are told the Bible is passe′. It’s old and out of date. Many people still have a favorite Bible verse. It reads Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” This means, leave me alone, I’m happy that I’m damned and my sins are comfortable. Of course, that isn’t a coherent response.

One could ask what kind of response is that? In this life will anyone find a standard where that rule applies? From the moment we wake up in the morning, we must judge. Judging is to make a decision—a choice as it were. We choose what kind of day we will have, our clothing for that day, and the food we will eat. What sort of person we will be.

I use many things as a rule or a guide. One of the guides is watching other people make poor choices and judging that I didn’t want to follow their example. Another is listening to good advice.

Judge me not… but the scriptures tell us more often to judge. For example, John 7:24 “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

But the real problem is twofold. Some people enjoy judging others. They enjoy having power over other people, telling them what to do. I don’t enjoy that. I have enough trouble getting my own story right. However, some days we need to stand up and say something when things aren’t right.

To be honest, there are a number of people who need a new meter. They need a new “making right choices meter.” Live and let live would work if… If we were all our own island. Whoever wrote, “no man is an island…” hit the nail on the head.

Because we are interconnected we must have standards of right and wrong, by which we must live. The phrase, “Judge me not—” is a double dodge. The person not wanting to be judged knows what they are doing doesn’t pass the smell test but they want to do what they want to do.

That is dodge number one, but the person who says, “I can’t judge because…” is dodge two and three. That person is making themself feel better by virtue signaling or at least exonerating themself so they don’t have to take a stand as to the right or wrong of something. It also allows them to continue in their own shortcomings. They now don’t need to pull the beam out of their own eye. They can leave it stuck right where it is no work required either way.

Matthew 7:

1)  “Judge not, that ye be not judged. 
2)  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 
3) And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 
4)  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 
5)  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. 
6)  Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” 

Where Does That Leave Us?

And write they did— on the tablet of my heart…

brown and red birdhouse

When Old Fuzzy and I were young and tender, I was at a ladies’ function and it was necessary to introduce myself. We had just moved to Tennessee to attend preacher training school and there were several new wives along with myself.

I waited my turn listening as others introduced themselves. Many of the wives introduced themselves with, “Hello, I’m so and so’s wife.” That was the way to put people together indicating who went with whom.

That was somewhat nonsensical since none of us were much associated with each other yet, and as wives, we didn’t know the other women’s husbands anyway.

Yet, one of the teacher’s wives didn’t follow the standard line.

After these many years, I don’t remember what her introduction was, but only that she broke the mold, showing us that yes we were wives, but we were more than just one dimensional.

We were wives, we were mothers, daughters, Christians, students, and the list could go on. All of these things made us who we were; today it makes us who we are.

Quite a few years later, at the time when several of my children were leaving the nest, my daughter said to me “Mom, it’s a good thing you have Buddy or you’d be an empty nester pretty soon.” And she was right.

Well, if that wasn’t a wake-up moment. An empty nester? And I was just over forty years old. There were our first six children born within ten years, then after ten more years, we had our last child.

Our first six were ready to scatter, most of them one right after another. And in my odd way of thinking it came to me, “I was a person before I had children, and I plan on being a person after they are gone…” The next question is, what kind of a person? Where does that take us, and then where does that leave us?

In reflection, the before I had children and the after I had children person was two completely different people. I had planned on only two children. God knew better. Life has a way of changing us, a way of writing on the heart. I hear women who say they don’t plan on nor do they want children.

There was a time when I told people who voiced that opinion, to hold on and wait a few years before making a permanent decision.

In our present society, I have found myself agreeing with many of these young women, especially the ones shouting ‘my body, my choice’. We live in a selfish world where too many people are more interested in themselves.

At one time women planned on marriage, and families were an offshoot of these unions. It was a given that as the childhood ditty said, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes XXXX with a baby carriage.” It was expected and most people did want children.

One of the thoughts I have seen lately says, “Most people raise children while working at the important things in life, not realizing that raising children is the most important thing in life.”

There is a basic need for people to recognize the value of life—The value of living, and the value of the future being rolled into the value of the moment.

Genesis 3:

4) And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

5) For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

6) And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”