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There is a Price

person holding gold round coins

So this week is almost at a close and I’ve had this piece started since last week. Yes, I am somewhat embarrassed, but not having the time machine, I’m stuck here.

It’s a rainy, almost stormy morning and not entirely unwelcome. We are still experiencing a drought and rain is needed. It’s also cooled off a bit. Being September we are at the point on the calendar where we’re ready for that slightly cooler look.

Maybe not quite the fashion statement, but maybe so.

Of note, the ninety-six-year-old Queen Elizabeth II passed away yesterday. I was sad to see the end of an era, but that too was inevitable. She had lost her husband last year and at that extended age, it was expected.

Still, I kept rooting for her for another day, and another—

The age we are looking at now isn’t pretty. Many things have happened and we’re living in a dream which is more like a nightmare. This is a writer’s page, not a political post page, yet things happen that cause us to ponder.

And rightly so. We should ponder on good and evil, right and wrong, and even moral and immoral. And in reality that is part of our writing. We try to encourage our fellow travelers to make the right choices and live their best life.

We especially, as Christian writers, want to encourage people to believe in God and Jesus, and grab onto eternal life and salvation. And what does that have to do with politics? Or kings and queens, or everyday life?

Satan would like to have us believe that politics, kings, queens, and everyday life doesn’t have anything to do with Christianity. However, that’s not true. We are sent here to make a difference and be a difference.

“Matthew 5:13  Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.

14  Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.

15  Neither do men light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house.

16  Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

We know this is true. We know we are to be salt and light and this is “Our Father’s world.” But we abdicate our authority to “the god of this world.” We allow Satan free range over everything as if we have no power.

Everything has a price. If you really want to buy something, just keep looking for the right price. It isn’t always true in every case, but in many instances it is. I gleaned that jewel of information, if I recall correctly, from Robert Kiyosaki from the Rich Dad lessons.

Everything has a price and everything has consequences. The second half of that is more true than the first half. Some of the consequences may be good and some may be a learning curve, but consequences there will be.

One of the “old wives sayings” or bits of wisdom I remember from when I was in sixth grade was “Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn no other way.”

How much are people willing to pay for pleasure? What is the end goal in life? Sometimes the question is what is your soul worth? To you and to God? Most people sell their souls far too cheap. Especially cheap when you compare what they sell their souls for and what God paid to redeem them.

Several newer words of wisdom come to mind. “You die once, but you live every day.” “Life is short; eternity is long.” Think on these things.

“Proverbs 22:3  A prudent man seeth the evil, and hideth himself; But the simple pass on, and suffer for it.

Proverbs 27:12  A prudent man seeth the evil, and hideth himself; But the simple pass on, and suffer for it.”

We can sometimes avoid paying that price for foolishness by observing how it works for others. This ties into the idea of wisdom having a price as well:

“Job 28:12  But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?

Job 28:15 It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.

16 It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.

17 The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold.

18 No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies.

19 The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold.

20 Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?”

“Proverbs 17:16  Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to buy wisdom, Seeing he hath no understanding?”

February 11, 2021 Where Has the Week Gone?

family making breakfast in the kitchen

Then life takes off faster than going down a zip line at a thousand miles an hour.

Where has the week gone? I could use that for the day, week, or month…and come to think on it, in some cases the year. This week our oldest grandson turned twenty-eight. What a shock. The biggest shock is that in a few days our youngest son will turn twenty-eight.

And yes, where have the years gone? Both of those young men ought to still be youngsters. But they aren’t and oddly enough, neither Old Fuzzy nor myself are youngsters anymore.

There are all sorts of funny memes out there and one of them which is not just funny but very succinct is the one that says: I knew I would get old I just didn’t understand how fast.

You know, you begin life looking forward to growing up and being an adult, determining your own future and whatnot. You get to the part of life where you find your life-partner and you get married, begin your family…then life takes off faster than going down a zip line at a thousand miles an hour.

The older people always tell you ‘enjoy your children while they’re little, while they are growing up, while…’ and the next thing you know the old people were right—you look and those rascally children have grown up and are on their way into their own life.

They say to treat your parents well, and the way you treat your parents is the way your children will treat their parents. It would be simple to try to lump everyone into one Tupperware bowl, but it doesn’t work that way. Each set of circumstances is different.

There is much to be remembered from the song “Teach Your Children Well” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

Habbakuk 2:

2  And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.

3  For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

Joshua 1:

9  Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Esther 4:

14  For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

The War Ain’t Over For Mama

37) And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”

old woman sitting on chair near girl while reading a book

Mark 13:

“32) But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

33) Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

34) For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.

35) Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:

36) Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

37) And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”

***

Newsflash—I just read on Facebook, so it must be true…

“People who worship celebrities tend to be less intelligent—say scientists.” I remember when the Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show and the girls were screaming with delight and emotion. I wondered at the time what those girls had for brains. But through the ages we see the same thing more or less with celebrities. I still wonder why such a response?

Another question is what does that make people who don’t follow other people at all? Yet, the idea of choosing what to follow is good. In today’s society, big brother wants everyone to follow him. We see this as people of public recognition, be it a famous doctor or a renowned speaker, or a combination of the two, such as Jordan Peterson, are sanctioned or stifled.

The Canadian government has attempted to squelch Peterson for quite some time. Now they are trying to sanction him and send him to a reeducation camp. One can only wonder what they hope to accomplish. And as Peterson himself would say, “Good luck with that.”

Some days are all about your hopes, dreams, and visions for the future. But there are some days when life is about putting one foot in front of the other—and that’s okay.

Most of us have those days when putting one foot in front of the other is all that we can do. I’m often of the mindset where God and I have conversations. It frequently looks like a one-sided speech, but I know God hears me. My most repeated phrase is, “Lord, you know how I’m feeling. I’m tired, overwhelmed, and I can’t do anymore. I’m done. Lord, you’re going to have to pick me up and throw me, ’cause I can’t do this.”

O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations… : for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.” (Daniel 9:18)

God has been faithful even though I can’t even pretend that I deserve his blessings or that I am at all righteous.

Copied:—“If someone is falling behind in life you don’t have to remind them, they already know…” Brianna Wiest

There was more to the above “falling behind” quote, however, this was the sum. How many times when someone fails do the detractors point out their failure? And there are folks who not only point out the failure but have advice as to how to fix the problem. That advice is usually worth what the person pays for it.

“If you are going down a road and don’t like what’s in front of you, and look behind you and don’t like what you see, get off the road. Create a new path.” Maya Angelou

If you’ve followed any of my posts you know I’m working on a new novel dealing with the Depression era, an orphan, and WWII. There is never a time when I feel as if I’ve researched enough for historical novels. Between day-to-day living, customs, and different countries, no amount of research covers the whole spectrum of a given time frame no matter how much you read and study.

Recently, while reading a more modern spy story the writer commented, “if perfect childhood were a necessity for being well-adjusted adults we would all need some kind of therapy.”

I think on that statement with a sigh. A very long sigh, and many thoughts filter through my mind. I have never known a perfect human being. My own mother on occasion was known to say, “There has only been one perfect person, and they crucified him.”

Jesus transformed my life and marriage. I’ve written that before… and told others as well. My family would have been skid row if they had followed the pattern I was set to pursue. Compared to some of the stories I’ve read of families and children of the 1930s through the 1940s and forward, I’m amazed any of us have been able to live and raise even semi-normal children.

One account of a French girl-child, tells that she was sent to live for perhaps five years in a French village with a kind-hearted stranger. The kind-hearted stranger was good to her. The girl called her Maman, (and the husband she called Pere).

When the war was over the young girl returned to Paris to live with her mother, step-father, and step-siblings. Yet years later her (grown) children admitted, “The war was never over for Maman.”

Indeed, a very long sigh…

1 Peter

“5:7) Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

8) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

9) Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

10) But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11) To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

Writing My Story

I have a number of phrases I invoke in my life. One of those I use refers to the Ralphie moment.

man sitting on a hood of a school bus

I pledge to tell my story—to share my experiences—with authenticity and without apology. I know that in telling my story I can provide others with the gifts of hope, wisdom, and joy. 

Winter is different now that I’m older. In youth, I’d just pull on a heavy coat, a hat and gloves, and some boots and go out tromping in the snow and cold. The snow and cold didn’t bother me—then. Now I can predict the weather for the coming week by the aches and pains in all of my joints.

It’s morning and yes, I am “up”, but I can’t think of any of my body that doesn’t hurt. It’s snowing outside, but it is warm enough inside, and I do have a cup of coffee. And it doesn’t matter that I have aches and pains, it is still a beautiful day out and I just pray for those who must be outside in it. I am also thankful that I don’t have to be out in it.

I’ve gotten behind in my daily writing as well as story writing. I have been looking into research sites for the next section of my next novel. I do have other excuses as to why I’m not further into my writing, but no excellent reasons. After looking through my stories what I believe is the scoop for today—well, here it is.

I have a number of phrases I invoke in my life. One of those I use refers to the Ralphie moment.

As a youngster, I rode the school bus. At one stop we had a kindergartener named Ralphie. The bus would pull up to the end of Ralphie’s drive and he would burst from his door as if he was running a race. As a child, he was likely imagining he was running a race down the short driveway to the waiting bus.

At the end of his drive, he would stop, walk around to the bus doors, and up the steps into the bus he would come. He did this every day.

Except for one day. On this particular day, he barreled down the drive, but miscalculated, and with head down he bammed into the side of the bus right under where the bus sign was.

Now, anyone who has been a kid and done really silly things can imagine when up the steps he came he was treated to several smart-aleck voices with good humor saying things like ‘way to go Ralphie’… and you can feel his embarrassment.

And in my mind, a new phrase was born—“a Ralphie moment.”

A Ralphie moment is one of those times when a person ought to be paying attention. A moment when a person is barreling down the driveway of life, head down, going as fast as you can, and bam! into the side of the bus (or whatever obstruction) you run.

It isn’t because you couldn’t see it, since like a big yellow school bus it was right in front of you, and it isn’t like it was something new or unusual, it was a common occurrence. Yet there you find yourself running into the obstruction like a Ralphie.

In our world today there are all sorts of “influencers” on social media who have something to say. And as writers, we would be considered influencers as well. We spend a lot of time polishing our message.

As an influencer what is important to share? As a Christian influencer, it is important to influence for Christ. And yes, that ought to be obvious. Going down the path of life like the flower girl at the wedding, we ought to strew good impressions along the way. We know we will leave behind us the fragrance of good, or the odor of bad, but very seldom neutral imprints on other people.

Much of what I share and attempt to encourage in and for others is the need to discern the important things in life. I have come to believe that our present world, our present society, and our present inclinations are trained to believe that to be important we—men and women—need to have a fancy education and an upwardly mobile job that pays us well with benefits.

For the last twenty years and possibly more, every year I would receive from our lovely social security office a reminder. It showed how much my bounty would be from our current system when I retired.

Now that I have retired their predictions have come true. Since I have been a “stay-at-home mom” for the last fifty years I receive a bare pittance because of course I haven’t worked during those years.

What really happened was Old Fuzzy and I raised our own kids. We didn’t avail ourselves of their free or reduced child-care provision. We paid our own way, and it didn’t end there. Shockingly, we homeschooled our kids—some of them all the way through school.

It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t cheap. I’ve written about how and why we decided I would be a homemaker instead of an off-to-work mother. I did have my mother-in-law and my grandmother as examples… as well as my mother on the other side of the scale.

And here is our Ralphie moment—Proverbs 29:15 “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” It’s the big yellow bus sitting at the end of the driveway.

For years, almost as long as I can remember we’ve had the tempest in the teapot dubbed “the mommy wars.” What you may ask is that? It revolves around the scriptures that read/say, Titus 2:3 “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4) That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5) To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

I’ve included verse 3 for context, but the one that brings out the fighting side of people is verse 5. Most people won’t question the “to be sober, to love their husbands, and their children”. They don’t particularly question the “be discreet or chaste,” but you can see why their ire is raised with the “keepers at home.”

The thought of the last half of that verse “keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands…” that’s a doorknob too far.

We live in a society that wants to empower women. According to that mindset, that means women who can tell people where to get off and what to do when they get there. We cheer for women who can put people in their place (especially men) and come out victorious. So that scriptural teaching is out of sync with our modern world. But what’s happening?

We are now witnessing the breakdown of our country because of the breakdown of our families. I wondered back when as a young woman when reading the admonition of Titus 2:3 The aged women likewise teachers of good things; 4) That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children…”

Learning to love our husbands I could understand. Men and women do have much to learn in getting along, but to love our children? That should be a no-brainer. But wait a minute, in a country (United States) that in 2020 had over 930,000 abortions someone needs to begin teaching and someone needs to start listening—fast.

The literal translation of the phrase “keepers at home” is keepers in the home. It does not mean a woman can’t leave the house it designates her occupation. For the last fifty years that was where my focus was. Raising our garden, which was large, tending our children, and running the home.

The management of the home involves many things from paying bills, making sure there are healthy meals in an orderly fashion, clean clothes, that chores are done on time and correctly, and many more duties.

We need to put respect back in our homes. We need to respect and honor God and his teaching. We need to respect and honor women who are following a godly example. A godly woman is not a parasite sitting around doing nothing. They deserve respect. We also need to respect Christian men who love their wives and care for them. Pay attention, lest the Ralphie moment comes your way, and the big yellow school bus is sitting at the end of your driveway.

Proverbs 18:22 “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.”

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.”

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)