Archives March 2023

Take It Personally

In the year of our Lord, 2023 many people would like for “normal” to return.

beach blur clouds dawn

“And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 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?” (Mark 4:35-38)

In the year of our Lord, 2023 many people would like for “normal” to return. Yet we seem to be living in the year(s) of the storms. After our world was turned upside down with the lockdowns and all sorts of jabs at our physical and mental acuity I’m not sure anyone remembers exactly what normal was or is.

Here it is the third month of a new year and where are we? Like the meme of the pigs saying “What do we want, and when do we want it,” we are looking for the impossible dream to be fulfilled.

There are as many answers to the question of what do you want as there are respondents. One of my favorites is “to be thinner” with the answer to when being “by Friday.” Or what do you want? A million dollars… when? By Friday.

It is the impossible dream offered first and the impossible time frame offered second. And surely no one believes it could happen.

The sunshine today makes it look normal in a day-to-day way, but for some reason the words “Going where no man has ever gone before.” is the reality of where we are today.

The quote by Selma Lagerlof—“Nothing on earth can make up for the loss of one who has loved you.” seems to fit the times we are living in, even though I haven’t technically lost anyone lately. And even though we are doing normal things in what looks like the same world if I were a science fiction writer I might describe it as a shiver as if there is a shift in time or space.

For years the worst thing a person could be was a believer in something called conspiracy theories. These were unnamed theories mostly just whispered or laughed at with a wink and a nod.

In the last few years, people have grown more bold until there were written lists, and weirdos were called conspiracy theory believers. As often happens the conspiracy theories came true, the weirdos were right and now we need new conspiracy theories.

So, what or who have we lost this year? Many people have perished—Most of them not close to me, but some of the “loved ones” I have lost weren’t people—they were things that I cherished. Ideals that left my sphere that I can’t seem to retrieve.

“The world will ask you who you are, and if you do not know it will tell you.” Carl Jung

Humans are the only beings on this earth that ask the question, who am I, and what is my purpose here? Animals have an idea of purpose although WE may not understand what their purpose is.

We had an Arabian filly once. She did not like a work harness, and if she were ridden past her liking point she would lie down, saddle, rider and all, but she could run like the wind when allowed to do so. We had a Morgan horse that would do almost anything asked of him… well, he didn’t sing and dance but maybe that was our fault.

Animals just know their purpose. Chickens scratch in the dirt looking for sustenance, laying eggs, and reproducing chicks. Cows graze in the grass and raise their calves. Yesterday was the first day of spring and summer birds are arriving to make their summer homes and raise their babies.

Cats are sure they are royalty. Their duty is to lay around, producing litters of kittens, catching mice and such like, and harassing our bird population. A propensity I would like to ping them for, but alas they are beyond my range of pinging.

One of our favorite dogs was a model for the cartoon interaction of the dog and in our case squirrel episodes. Our pooch would lay in my flower bed until we drove in from church of a Sunday then he would suddenly jump to his feet and run off looking for squirrels to chase, pretending he’d been on duty all morning—and not really laying in my flower bed. He understood his purpose.

There’s a famous line from the movie Secondhand Lions from the speech that one of the old uncles tells all young men entering into adult manhood. The line starts with “Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most.”

The uncle’s speech is inspiring and he hits several nails on the head. But there are several things we must keep in mind. God’s Word is truth. What God has revealed is true and that word and his law are what civilization needs and what we need to believe in the most. What we have today is a group of people who want to reshape truth into their own image.

As the storm rages around us there are many people who want to sit this dance out. I don’t know what most of us can do, but I would like to be similar to the summer birds—Making our summer homes, raising our little people, or in Old Fuzzy and my world watching good things happen…

“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. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

(Mark 4:39-41)

I have believed for many years that we Christians are supposed to work as if all depends on us but to pray, knowing that the battle belongs to the Lord. And so we must watch and pray…

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore…”  (Ephesians 6:10-14)

Stranger In Your Life

We all came from somewhere and we are going somewhere.

close up of old black and white photos of a young girl in an angel costume and a church

“My house must be haunted. When I try to look in the mirror some old woman steps in front of me so I can’t see myself.”

Change—Life is made up of change. The growth of a baby is marked daily, weekly, and monthly for the first few years of their life. Then it slows or appears to slow.

Most of the changes from birth to old age have a time frame that people fit into. As a child they learn to roll over, walk, talk, run and so forth. The teenage years and beyond are reached with all the challenges, feelings, and nuances. There comes the finding a job, friends, and a life partner, all a learning experience.

Change can be quite a frightening thing. Scriptures tell us, “And such were some of you…” We all came from somewhere and we are going somewhere. Recently I reviewed some of the clips from My Fair Lady. Professor Henry Higgins is wagering with Colonel Pickering that he can change Eliza Dolittle from a common flower girl into someone who could pass for royalty.

I can relate to the trials and travails brought about by the effort to affect change in a human being. Eliza goes into the process wanting to better her station in life. “I want to be a lady at the flower shop… but they won’t take me unless I can talk more genteel…”

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”  (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

And such we some of you… I know there are some folks out there that think they are perfect, but as most of us who must deal with those people can tell you, those perfect people are not perfect. And the rest of us peons down here in the trenches are working to overcome ourselves and our shortcomings.

But change we must as children of God and followers of Christ. Christ didn’t call us to be washed gutter snipes as the professor refers to the original Eliza. She had to change and we must too.

A recent question came to a group about the bona fides of preachers and if they needed a ‘degree’ hooked to their name to be ‘enough’ for people. One person said the degree didn’t matter to them but…

But they said the preacher “should not step on toes.” They drive too many people away when they do. There is a phrase from My Fair Lady that doesn’t really match with this comment but still comes to my mind. “But if you’re naughty the angels in heaven will weep for you, Eliza.”

I may have mushed two different speeches into one, but “the angels will weep for you…” and in this case they should weep at the comment. The preacher is admonished in the scriptures to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

The scriptures don’t tell us not to step on toes, but it does mention ears: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4: 3-4)

As I pointed out in my answer to the comment, Stepping on toes is what it’s all about. Preachers are supposed to be helping people who want to get to heaven. The goal is salvation, the goal is heaven. Changing what needs changed and encouraging good things we need to keep or learn to do—Toes be hanged.

Pictures from the past—There was a time when those who are older were young. In some instances I wonder who the people were and what their life became. The moments I find most startling are when I look at pictures and realize some of those are of the person I used to be. I wonder where that person went and was that really me? I don’t feel lots different, but change has come and prayerfully most changes have been for the better.

I am slower, but I take time that I didn’t always take before. Not to smell the roses, but to contemplate on things.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Yet all through life change is a reality. Sometimes it comes easily such as a baby’s first steps and at other times it comes with risk and work such as in climbing Mount Everest. Our struggles as we grow older are different. Instead of keeping track of children we’re keeping track of ourselves.

But struggle is part of life. Parents with children still at home have their work cut out for them. When the child grows up and leaves the home the child may be gone from the home, but they are not gone from the heart.

As we age we learn many lessons. As anonymous says “Life humbles you as you age. You realize how much time you spent on nonsense.”

Or I identify with: “I’m beginning to suspect the second half of life is about learning to let go of everything I feverishly collected over the first half that wasn’t loving or human.” MichaelXavier

I’ve gotten to the stage where I’m not (consciously) taking on any new projects and am attempting to finish up all of the half-finished things I’ve begun—or that I’ve inherited that someone else didn’t have time to finish. I have almost given up getting rid of the things I’ve feverishly collected.

At one time my Adorable Cousin encouraged me to clean house and declutter. It was a vision of glory, but I’ve come to the understanding…

I’ve come to the understanding that if my dear children cared if I had gotten my life and house decluttered (so they don’t have to go through all of this stuff) they would have been here helping me clean up. As I’ve learned (sometimes sadly)—There are times when it’s just flat too late.

As it is I’m afraid they will get what they get. Some real jewels and some new clutter for their stash—Or maybe just souvenirs.

I have a Pinterest account and I gather pictures of lovely houses, rooms (clean, neat rooms) lawns and such like in order to build the worlds that are written in the novels that I write. It is like building my world with other people’s flowers.

Flowers that are groomed on lawns that are clipped and landscaped, surrounding houses that are perfect inhabited by people—people that aren’t perfect. All stories must have conflict of course and that comes from struggles without and within.

“But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:5-8)