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Luxury Is:

man wearing white suit jacket and white pants

94-year-old Clint Eastwood is ‘telling’…

“Do not look for luxury in watches or bracelets, do not look for luxury in forks or sails.

Luxury is laughter and friends, luxury is rain on your face, luxury is hugs and kisses.

Don’t look for luxury in shops, don’t look for it in gifts, don’t look for it at parties, don’t look for it at events.

Luxury is being loved by people, luxury is being respected, luxury is having parents alive,

luxury is being able to play with your grandchildren, luxury is what money can’t buy.”

There you have it. I mean if Clint Eastwood tells you something, surely that settles it. Somewhere else, I believe it’s a Chinese proverb that says, “Don’t laugh at old age, pray to reach it.”

And Clint Eastwood at 94 has seen a lot. Most older folks have seen a lot—some of which we would have been happy not seeing.

There are all sorts of tidbits of wisdom as you go through life that people will share with you. Be careful whose tidbits you follow.

“Ever wonder why happiness is so elusive? Because we look for it in the future rather than in the present.” I’m going to attribute that to Michael Lee Hill~

Another one of the reasons happiness seems so elusive is we look for it in the wrong places … If we were happy in the present we wouldn’t be still ‘looking’ for it. Hence, we are looking for it somewhere (future) where we aren’t.

Clint Eastwood advises not to look for—he calls it luxury—or I’m calling it happiness. Either way, don’t look for it in things. It can’t be ‘bought’. Don’t look for it in ‘places’— high, low, fancy, or plain. It isn’t like, hiding under a rock, or a leaf in the garden, or someplace ‘out there’.

Clint says luxury is found in love. A special love, a reciprocal love. It can be between husband and wife, parents and children, grandchildren, true friends and good acquaintances. It can be a love or respect, an enjoyment of something together.

Another reason happiness isn’t easily found is not just that we look for it in the wrong places, we look for it in the wrong ways. Some of those ways are obviously self-defeating. Some of these things can bring temporary good feelings, but not lasting contentment.

It can be found in accomplishments, in good works, and in talents, but not in them of their own merit.

Can we find satisfaction in something well done? Yes, and that can be a pleasant feeling. We can look at a life of good works and the use of God-given talents with satisfaction.

Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes, tells how he sought happiness. Eastwood called it luxury, and Solomon called it wisdom. The book of Ecclesiastes is all about Solomon’s quest, and Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books. One of the main quotes is ‘vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ The question it asks and answers in the end is:

“What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:3)

And Solomon tries it all. He is wealthy, powerful, and has the ability to search many different avenues. After all of the ‘vanities’ he tries he concludes:

“There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24)

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

Luxury, wisdom, or happiness, no matter what we label it many times it comes when we least expect it. Like a butterfly evading our net, if we chase happiness it escapes us. That is only part of why we are instructed not to look for it.

Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, when she says “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”

Call it luxury, wisdom or, Timothy calls it contentment.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

Too Soon Gone

gray and brown mountain

Life has a way of distracting us and narrowing us. When my children were growing up, one of our favorite ‘shows’ came about on Saturday. We would gather to watch Bob Ross work his magic, turning a blank canvas into a world of beauty and wonder, usually containing one of those blasted, happy trees, right where and when you thought the painting just fine the way it looked.

Bob had a gentle way of speaking that made us want to listen and watch. At some point, I learned that he had been a drill sergeant, which shocked me, but he had resolved to never raise his voice after he left the military. And his afro haircut came about because he couldn’t afford regular haircuts on a regular basis. The afro wasn’t his first choice. How funny.

We could have watched into the fading sunset, yet his life came to an end abruptly, and we mourned (and in some ways still mourn) his passing. With his passing went Pea-pod the pocket squirrel, the happy trees and their happy accidents as well as his easy manner and words, “Let me show you what you can do …”.

In life, there are variations of this wonderful type of person. It could be a father, mother, grandparent, neighbor, or friend—Some kind of encourager. And oddly enough, encouragement comes in different forms. With Bob Ross, he became a gentle encourager as a painter, however, as a drill sergeant? Not so gentle, but an encourager of different sorts.

I look at those days. We weren’t avid television watchers and we kept it simple.  My children laugh at shows such as Lawrence Welk, and they loved watching Bob Ross, Reading Rainbow, and …

I wonder where those days have gone and I’m saddened. I’m not fearful as many people would have us be. I’m just saddened. We know that the ship has sailed, the water has passed under the bridge and life won’t be the same. Life won’t be the same not because it can’t be, but because of choices that are made.

“Reality can not be ignored except at a price; and the longer the ignorance is persisted in, the higher and more terrible becomes the price that must be paid.” Aldous Huxley~

I first became acquainted with Huxley in connection to his “Brave New World”. I was shocked and dismayed at the story. Unlike Bob Ross, I know very little about Huxley, other than he was a writer born in 1894 and died in 1963. I’ve lived a very sheltered life as there are a number of ‘must reads’ that I’ve not read and I probably should have. However, at this stage in life, I think maybe I’ll pass on most of those must-reads.

I have read Animal Farm, but not 1984, by George Orwell, and only recently read (parts of) Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. I’ve come to the question, I’m sure George Orwell wrote 1984 as a warning, and Ayn Rand as well, wrote her works as a warning, and to expound her new religion. This made me wonder, did Huxley write his Brave New World in the same vein?

The reality is we live in a distorted world where what is truth is being replaced by stupidity—replaced by lies. Then we are supposed to pretend the lies are true … but they aren’t. And yes, we pay the price and it is becoming a terrible price.

Historically, people often looked at science fiction writers and pointed out the many times their projections became reality. Now, we can point to those previously mentioned novels and see how they have also become reality, and not in a good way. The twisting of reality shows that the way God designs things is the way it runs best. The wistful observations through the years entitled ‘the good old days’, as we drift farther from godliness, underline this truth. The following scriptures sum up the situation:

“Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?” (Ecclesiastes 7:13)

“Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29)

People—Christians have asked “Surely this has to be the end times. Things are so awful, I look for Christ’s return any moment.”

Indeed, we entered the ‘last days’ when Christ was crucified, and even then believers were looking for his return at any moment, and … one thing I do know, Christ will come and it doesn’t hinge on me.

Many things have come and passed, the good with the bad. People have mourned for both. More than likely some mourned the passing of the Roaring Twenties, but although the Roaring twenties may have roared they were only good for some people, and not real good for anyone.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Years ago someone in my hearing stated that ‘sin is what makes life fun’. I didn’t put that in quotes since it isn’t an exact quote, it’s the gist of the statement. Pardon me, however that’s a bold-faced lie and a slap at God.

That statement makes me weep, and to come from someone professing Christianity? That hurts even worse. Sin is what put Christ on the cross. I can think of many things that are fun. Sin only ruins true fun.

“And if you think tough men are dangerous, just wait until you see what weak men are capable of.” Jordan Peterson~

So, what do we draw in conclusion? It’s not like Ernie drawing a cow, or a dinosaur, for that matter. It’s like, I wish we lived in a world of Bob Ross. A world of neighbors who ‘do unto others as you would like done unto you’, and what they have in mind is good. But we don’t, we live in a world of weak men (and women, and they are just as dangerous).

Someone asked the question in a writers’ group I’m in about Biblical examples of do-overs. Of course, Peter turned from his denial of Christ, Paul turned from his persecution of Christ, someone (on the group) mentioned John Mark turned back.

A blank canvas if you would. I don’t believe that our blank canvas will end like the first one. And we have been warned. We are there.

Do overs? The biggest do-over:

“And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.” (Genesis 7:21-23)

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:3-10)

FAITH

yellow and purple clouds
Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.com

We have arrived here. So, here we are, trying to write glorious truths simply with simple words. What do you feel? What do you need? When combined it comes to, what do you feel you need?

The sun is shining pleasantly and so far it’s been cool. The breeze—and we use that word lovingly usually with a smile, laugh, or smirk—wafted in my sliding door/window earlier. In making a story, I told Old Fuzzy, the breeze had me plastered against the far wall, and I had to fight my way back to the door/window to slide it shut, leaving only a small crack for air …

Yes, a good story and entertaining, even if not quite true. Old Fuzzy opted to head out to a more profitable pasture, or in reality,a more profitable field. We’ve experienced for several years a drought. Water levels fell and were at dangerous levels. In the last few months, the pendulum swung the other way. We have received abundant amounts of welcome rainfall. As usual, there is a double-edged sword.

The old proverb says, “All sunshine makes a desert.” And whereas that may be true, forty days and forty nights of rain “a deluge makes” as well. As in all of life, it takes both sunshine and rain in the right amounts to sustain life. At one point we needed the rain, and then we needed some dry weather in order to plant field crops as well as garden plants.

I gave up hope of getting the crops in last week. We don’t plant a large cash crop acreage but we still must have dry weather for the planting. It seemed as if between the rain and storms, we were coming to the point where there wouldn’t be enough time to finish the growth and maturity cycle by the end of summer.

So, today everything came together. The tractor worked, the planter had been repaired, the bags of seed were ready, and against all odds, the weather cooperated. Now, the field crop is in. I’m thankful.

Of course, I wish we could have all our ducks in a row—The ability to do what we need to do in an organized time and manner. Yet, no matter how hard I try there is always a worm in the ear somewhere. Always a wrinkle in life and I find that the best-laid plans of mice and men, not only don’t go as intended, but they will not go as planned.

Back to the idea of what we feel we need. In this case, I felt I needed dry weather in which to plant crops and garden. Though that could be part of what we did need, a large part of what I always need is a huge dose of faith. I know what I have is a small faith, and the struggle is real.

It’s easy to say, Thy will be done, when there isn’t a test. When everything is going the way we want, we’re doing well. When we aren’t getting what we want, and we let it go—that’s difficult.

A practical takeaway from this is … I don’t know. We know what Jesus tells his disciples. “Oh ye of little faith.” We also know his example of faith and deep prayer. I’m sometimes reminded of a passage from one of my favorite books, Laddie, by Gene Stratton Porter.

The passage deals with Little Sister’s older sister preparing to marry her sweetheart, Peter. For some reason, Sally has an emotional outburst concerning who the guest list will be, and as she’s speaking, she’s also tearing at a bonnet in her hands, and nearly crying, saying “I don’t care …”

Her father calms her by saying, “Which means that you do care, very much.” And he continues by giving her a slate to write who her choice of guests might be. Often when we say things like, I don’t care, as Father Stanton said, it means we do care very much.

Perhaps, if we first admit, Lord I do care very much here. I am trying to believe you have my best interest at heart. I’m asking you to help me to not just believe, but trust. And in the end, help me to accept your will along with that trust.

Over the years, I’ve acknowledged when Jesus says:

(Luke 17:6) “And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.”

That points to us as not having sufficient faith. I have accepted it as something that would always be true. I would always be lacking in faith, no matter what I did. That isn’t the way it must be. Unless we choose not to grow our faith.

People affirm that at the point when they stopped kicking on the floor, trying to influence God to ‘see it their way’, life changed for the better for them.

I admit, that I usually find myself still kicking on the floor—I don’t know why, perhaps I’m more comfortable kicking on the floor.

“And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.”(Luke 17:5)

Pondering

crop field under rainbow and cloudy skies at dayime

It’s been a few days (weeks, months actually) since my last post. In perusing through some of the writings I’ve found this wonderful title and thought I’d share it in hopes this may be encouraging and humorous… if not both, at least one aspect. I have no idea where I gleaned this, probably Facebook, not from whom. I’m letting ya’ll know it’s not original, only my comments, which shall appear in parentheses.

TEN REASONS WHY GROWING OLD IS WONDERFUL …

First ~Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it. (or at least not grimacing when mentioned)

Second ~ The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for. (This also applies to going to the store to obtain)

Third ~ Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me; I want people to know ‘why’ I look this way. I’ve traveled a long way, and some of the roads weren’t paved. (And in my world sometimes they were uphill both ways)

Fourth ~ When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of Algebra. (I don’t want to go back. I mean, and do that whole younger thing again after escaping the first time? And I enjoyed Algebra. Stop dissing Algebra would you?)

Fifth ~ You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks. (no comment)

Sixth ~ I don’t know how I got over the hill without getting to the top. (ditto, and both ways)

Seventh ~ One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it’s such a nice change from being young. (see explanation in eighth and ninth)

Eighth ~ One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has been.

Ninth ~ Being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable. (Being comfortable is nice)

Tenth ~ Long ago, when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft.

Today it’s called golf. (it’s still witchcraft … just sayin’)

And, finally ~ If you don’t learn to laugh at trouble, you won’t have anything to laugh at when you’re old.

And there you have it, life in ten lessons, or thereabouts. Stay tuned hopefully, I’ll write more later.