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?

Writing Time and New Release

“Two hearts, Two secrets, Truth made known, God’s providence continues through strong family values and faith tested by fire.”

I will block writing time on my calendar, and I will honor that time commitment and hold it as sacred, creative time.

I have been doing better at my creative writing time endeavor. That could be evidenced by the FACT that I’m closing in on my next book being ready for publishing.

When I look back to just a few years ago, thinking that someday I would maybe be a published author that dream seemed like something in never-never-land—something only dreamed of.

But then the first book became not just some words on my computer, but an actual hold in your hand reality with a cover, and readers, and the whole ball of wax. Now, a year and a half later the second book is through an edit, has a beautiful cover, and is looking at a pre-Christmas release.

The first book, If I Should Die, is a mystery detective fiction. It begins with the undercover agent, Julius C. Armstrong, and his work in the solving of his last case. This takes place in a small Midwestern town similar to many here in the middle of nowhere—where of course nothing ever happens in the sleepy small town.

Detective Julius C. Armstrong must face the past he has been running from to bring this final case—and his career—to a successful end.

The second book picks up with Seth MacDonald and his brother, Joshua. Seth has had a rocky start to his marriage and after eight years plus of the struggle, his wife Gwen decides she can’t continue watching him kill himself because of addiction.

Seth has come clean and wants to start over, but now the secrets they’ve been harboring come to light. Can they face those secrets or will it really be the end? Book number two, As A Lovely Song is due out soon.

These are both family-based, inspirational, Christian fiction. As in my editor’s evaluation—What began as an action-packed crime story ends with a tender married love story–with kidnapping and other criminal intent. The novel will have a base for readership on a lot of levels. Its strong Christian theme is a testimony to family love and Christ’s redemption, which will benefit many. I wish you much success with this novel.

2 Thessalonians 2:

13  But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

14  Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

15  Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

16  Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,

17  Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

Fred and the Walnuts

close up photo of a hand holding three white kittens

I am seeking to share time, experience, and parts of my life with my readers. Somewhere they call this ‘building my platform’, but I’m not sure what I call it. I might call it ‘making a connection.

I pledge that I will continue to work so that I gain clarity and focus for my readers, audiences, and clients. Then I can continue to make the world a better place, one word at a time.

So, as I continue to work and strive for clarity where do I go to gain these treasured jewels?

I am seeking to share time, experience, and parts of my life with my readers. Somewhere they call this ‘building my platform’, but I’m not sure what I call it. I might call it ‘making a connection.

Today, Fred is my connection. I watched this morning as Old Fuzzy walked along the corral fence down by our feedlot. As he’s walking, I notice he has a tail. Not a tail, but…

I’ve shared how we have been cat-free for a number of years until a stray momma cat, which we named Miss Kitty, came to make her home under one of our outbuildings.

The reason Miss Kitty came to live under our building, at least this is our guess, is that the farm neighbors down the road who take in lots of stray cats have so many strays Miss Kitty was looking for someplace not so crowded.

Now Miss Kitty has had several litters of kittens and some have survived and some of those have had litters. We still aren’t to the numbers that our neighbors have, but we are no longer cat-free.

Most of our cats are not tamed strays. Even Miss Kitty, who will almost allow someone to pet her, but not catch her, is still a stray. Which is why we have so many cats. I do say most of our cats are not tamed.

That doesn’t account for Fred. Fred was named by our Young Fuzzy so why he chose the name Fred not only doesn’t have a rhyme or reason, but because it’s Young Fuzzy, it doesn’t need either a rhyme or reason.

Fred is dominantly a Siamese cat. Mostly white with gray markings on her ears, tail, and paws, and beautiful blue eyes. She loves to have you scratch her belly. She would be a mink cat collar around your neck or a lap warmer, and Fred thinks she’s a house cat.

There is no accounting for the foolishness of cats. So, back to Old Fuzzy working at doing his chores and me watching, and his tail of…wait for it…untamed stray cats (except for Fred, she’s tamed and part of the tail). About five kitties are following along as if Old Fuzzy is a ‘cat whisperer’. He may be going to get feed for the calves, or up to check on some other critter and there they go trotting along behind. There’s no rhyme nor reason for many things, I guess.

Now to the walnuts. They have nothing to do with Fred. It’s just, a few years ago I wanted some walnuts and we have lots of walnut trees in our neighborhood. Big Fuzzy and his little Fuzzies dutifully went out and gathered me lots of walnuts which got stowed in our garage never to see the light of day. I’ve been told they are still there.

I’d still like to have some walnuts for some reason. I’m still craving these walnuts for brownies and whatnot, but I wasn’t aware we still had them and doubt but wonder if there were any good ones…

Last year there were no walnuts. Even though we have a walnut tree right by our front walk there were no walnuts on the tree.

I don’t know what the squirrels did, for it was told to us by our neighbor, (not the one with the stray cats) when he went out squirrel hunting last year there were no walnuts even on the trees in the forest. That was last year.

This year the walnut tree by our front walk is loaded. This reminds me of the old warning, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ Initially, this year, I picked up a few walnuts—an ice cream bucket—full of walnuts.

I’ve watched the YouTube video of turning these jewels into useable items, but, sigh. I think that’s all the further these walnuts are going to get for two reasons. The video said if the walnuts float they aren’t any good.

Well, Old Fuzzy scooped the nuts off the walk the other day and he said they all floated. This is a very sad face here.

But, to the warning, our front walk walnut tree has just this year got taller than our house and deck. As I sit in my office at times it seems as if God is throwing walnuts at me as if to say, ‘here you go, have a walnut.’

And there you have it. Life in the middle of nowhere with Fred and walnuts.

Ecclesiastes 7:

23  All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me.

24  That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?

25  I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness:

The burden of Dumah.

ocean during golden hour

The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come. (Isaiah 21:11-12 KJV)

He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come. (Isaiah 21:11-12 KJV)

The joke goes like this:

Parent to teacher: You don’t need to discipline Johnny.

Teacher: I don’t?

Parent: No, just slap the child sitting next to him and he’ll get the point.

Of course, we know that’s a joke and not meant as a schoolroom rule, but when we look around at our society we may wonder if some people have taken this to heart. Don’t discipline me, discipline that person over there…

I have learned much since the early days when I began thinking of myself as a ‘writer’. For instance, in the writing world, you need to have a platform. Many of us struggle with this concept.

The thought is What? I don’t just sit down and put words on paper? No, no, the experts tell us you must have not just a rhyme but a reason as well. In other words, your story must have a point.

Well, as someone on the show, Life of Riley used to say, What a revolting development this is. Then there are other criteria, or hoops a writer must adhere to. Rising action, crisis, falling action, and of course The End.

There is the idea that the main character is supposed to go through a change and I presume come out better for the ordeal. Well, that’s the story, and you better stick to it, but…

Life does change all of us in one way or the other—sometimes. I confess that some people learn awfully slow often times repeating the same thing that gets them in uncomfortable situations. I confess that because sometimes that’s me.

My life resembles, at times the top of my desk. I take notes on anything that has a bare spot on it then when it comes time to use the notes I’ve taken, be it from Wikipedia, the doctor’s office, a friend, or someone I don’t know, it’s all there on my desk. On an envelope, or a scrap of paper, or…

O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.(Isaiah 25:1 KJV)

The amazing thing is the number of times I need the facts or information and I can find what I need. As long as no one has cleaned my desk. However, there are a number of things you cannot find on my desk.

The things that aren’t there.

So, I am asked, what did you have for your lesson this week? I am feeling quite pleased with myself because without looking in my notebook I can remember not just the title but different points.

At my age that doesn’t always happen—

“Do you guys study a lot about the second coming and the thousand-year reign?” This is a bit more difficult since I know the other person’s stance on this subject.

“No, we do not since it’s not in the scriptures”…There’s an audible gasp and now I’m in for it.

“What do you mean? Why it’s everywhere in the Old Testament and New Testament. What about there…isn’t it in Revelation?”

“No, I don’t recall it there in Revelation.”

—And neither will she, since it’s not there and you can’t find it in Revelation and she doesn’t know Revelation as well as I know Revelation and that’s the way that goes. (Revelation isn’t my forte either but you can’t find something that isn’t there.)

Now in order to deflect from the fact that she really can’t remember where she thinks her scriptures that would support her subject are we go to another subject—the thousand years dispensation of Adam, and Enoch, and Noah…

And we end up discussing prophets, priests, apostles, and the Holy Spirit. We discuss Philip, one of the seven appointed in Acts 6, and Samaria and Simon and the laying on of hands.

We went all over my desktop of memory her looking for a chink in my armor. I wish I were as adept as the men of old who could quote the entire Bible from memory. I’m not, but people like this person do tend to give me a workout, and that’s not a bad thing. Thankfully, she doesn’t get angry or upset as some people are apt to do.

Isaiah hasn’t always been my favorite study, but Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come. (Isaiah 21:11-12 KJV) is special to me.

The commentary says no one knows exactly what the phrase means—well they probably could tell this much. A watchman is set to watch from the city walls. When they see an opposing army approach they warn the city.

In some places, we are told if the watchman warns us and we don’t heed the warning, the punishment we receive we deserve. In different places, if the watchman does not warn then he deserves our punishment.

Some ask and don’t listen, some hear but don’t care, then some hear and take heed. “The morning cometh, and also the night.” And where will it find us?

Silver Frame

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

Pictures—Sometimes they reflect who we are and sometimes they represent what we wish we were.

There are five people in the picture. It appears to be a mother and father possibly in their fifties and three children. Two young adults and one preteen girl. A happy family from maybe the late nineteen fifties.

The child is giving the mother/grandmother figure, who is seated, a hug and the three other figures are leaning toward each other. They stand behind the mother and child figures. The focus is the magnetism of each subject to the other subject as if they are being pulled together into one unifying force.

The subjects could be a young grandparent couple with their son and daughter-in-law and grandchild or complete strangers. I’ve been asked who the family is and I have to say, I don’t know, but…

It isn’t a picture from the seventies. The people in my picture have pretty summer dresses. Women from the seventies all dress as if they’ve barely survived a grizzly bear attack. Many families from that era are fragmented if not torn apart, they are not drawn together.

The picture sits waiting until I find a picture to fit the frame. The picture has no relationship to any of the other pictures on my shelf. There is the picture of my mother’s racehorse from the late fifties, Baby Dumpling aka Light O’ Day, the next picture is my mother as perhaps ten years old, sitting on a field plow with the horses Bobby and Danny hitched on the front.

The final two pictures jump several years, one to my sister’s graduation picture, and lastly a few years later a picture of my grandparents and their dog, Mike taken on the east side of their yard.

Pictures—Sometimes they reflect who we are and sometimes they represent what we wish we were.

The favorite Bible verse in years gone by 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.”

Now we jump to a new favorite verse Matthew 7:1  “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” What does this say about ‘us’? And what does it mean?

In John 3:16 we acknowledged the love of God, and we didn’t want to perish, but have everlasting life…in heaven. In Matthew 7:1 we just want God and everyone else to leave us alone to our own stupidity.

There are several immutable facts our current world either doesn’t want to know or (at this juncture in their life) they think they don’t care. Fact number one? There is a God and he sets the standards of morality.

You don’t have to agree with it and you don’t have to care about it. It just is what it is. Fact number two? God still loves the world, his only begotten son, Jesus, was given that we could (through belief and obedience to that belief) have everlasting life in heaven.

Fact number three? We can all be left to our own stupid devices…here, on this earth—But the sister verse that goes with Matthew 7:1 is John 7:24  “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

Righteous judgment comes from God and his Word. We can’t foolishly follow blind guides that pluck scriptures out of context and wave them like a flag. God doesn’t leave us down here without a moral guide.

Fact number four and random facts? We will all have everlasting life—Somewhere. We are all broken and need John 3:16 in order that we can claim Matthew 7:1 and John 7:24 and spend our everlasting life in heaven.

Fact number next, don’t be deceived, everyone who dies is not necessarily ‘in a better place’—Just because we can no longer ‘see’ them. And flash news release, no one on this earth will reach heaven doing it their way…addendum, no one will just wake up in heaven, as in Surprise! How did I get here?

When John the Baptizer said: Repent and be baptized, put away your sins, and bring forth fruits worthy of repentance? Yeah, he meant all of us, like you and me—all of us.

Job 19:25  For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

26  And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:

27  Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

28  But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?

29  Be ye afraid of the sword: for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know there is a judgment.

Enough for Today

clusters of pumpkin scattered in the field

The sign read: There are two seasons; Autumn and Waiting for Autumn.

Funny but it’s somewhat true. Here it is just after the autumnal equinox, the day when theoretically day and night are just about equal.

In January till March and April I’m planning my garden, but thinking of harvest. From May and onward we’re planting our garden, tending our garden, and planning on the harvest. At this point in the year, we are rejoicing over the harvest and… Our garden is still producing and the song Summertime comes to the mind and could come to the lips if singing it were possible. Summertime and the living is easy…

Summertime and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good lookin’
So hush, little baby, don’t you cry

One of these mornings
You gonna rise up singin’
Yes, you’ll spread your wings
And you’ll take to the sky
Mm, but ’til that morning
There is nothin’ can harm you
Yes, with daddy and mommy standin’ by

And so you have it. In a nutshell, this time of year (yes, I know it says Summertime but autumn is the real queen here) when nature is producing her bounty and we’re living in the ‘high cotton’ of the year.

I’m not forced to run the air conditioner because of the oppressive high heat, neither are we needing to heat the house because of the cold. The tomatoes, squash, melons, and garden abundance is all around us.

Every year at this time I’m also reminded of the poem by the New England poet James Whitcomb Riley, The Frost is on the Punkin…

Most of us have forgotten the story of the First Thanksgiving. How after the death of nearly half of the original Pilgrims those first settlers struggled to learn to farm and grow enough food for themselves to survive. That year they were joined with the Indians who had helped them learn survival skills coming together to give thanks.

Pumpkins…and The Fodder’s in the Shock are two staple foods pumpkins and (corn) fodder for those first settlers.

Of course by James Whitcomb Riley’s time in New England, there was a blending of the new world and the old world. The local bounty that the land provided plus the old-world animals and crops; milk cows and their abundance, the turkeys and chickens and old-world fowls and crops such as wheat, barley, rye.

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,

And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,

And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,

And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;

O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,

With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,

As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

There are several more stanzas if you would like to read the whole poem:

It is still one of the wonders of my world how this time of year feels like a peaceful rest. Yes, it’s a time of gathering in, of making use of those blessings God gives us, and also a time for thanksgiving.

As the rays of sunshine fall softly around us shimmering like golden drops as the snow in the snow globe glitters when the snow falls. These are the tent door moments.

The old Eskimo woman told the reporter, ‘It isn’t winter I fear. In winter I’m at the ready, pitting my will against the harsh weather. No, it’s summer when it’s peaceful and warm and I sit by my tent door, lulled into the serene dream. It’s so easy to be lured into thinking—or not thinking. I’m afraid I’ll just fall asleep and not think to wake up.’

Ecclesiastes 7:10  Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.

14  In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.

Ecclesiastes 8:15  Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.

Looking Out

water falls in the middle of the forest

Matthew 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
Mat 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

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. 

At this moment I’m struggling to comprehend what part of my story would go here. The line from a Gospel song comes to my mind. …Sing it softly thru the gloom, when the heart for mercy craves; Sing in triumph o’er the tomb, Jesus saves! Jesus saves! (Jesus Saves by Priscilla J. Owens and music by Wm. J. Kirkpatrick)

Some people come to the Lord after a mountain top experience, yet others have to hit bottom to look for help.

The people in Matthew chapter 3 respond to John the Baptizer when he cries unto them Repent ye. Even some of the Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized. He chastises them and tells them true repentance calls for fruits that show their repentance. In other words, true repentance is more than saying the right thing.

We’ve seen revivals through the 1700s, 1800s, and into modern days. What puzzles me is how have we gotten to such a spot in time when morality has become blurred. No one, even amongst Christ’s believers seems to know what repentance is nor do they understand what Godly living is. They’ve adopted the Jeremiah syndrome:

Jeremiah 6:15  Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall:

A discussion several months ago still resonates in my mind. My Adorable Cousin and I were discussing finding a suitable wife for young men. I—foolishly—mentioned a young man’s interaction with some young girls from a fellow church and how the young girls had facebook pages showing their pool party. It was a girl’s only pool party to their credit. Of course Adorable found nothing amiss about girls in swimsuits, and I actually don’t care either, except…

I tried more than once to explain that what one does in the privacy of their own property isn’t any of my concern. Most people don’t wear anything when they take a bath, but they don’t take pictures of themselves taking the bath then publish it on Facebook for their friends and whatnot to view. This would not be considered a modest thing to do.

That was my complaint about the Facebook pool party photoshoot. I shouldn’t need to explain that adding a bit more sturdy cloth to something styled the same as a woman’s underwear doesn’t change the swimsuit into something modest and above a person’s underwear.

I agree with the idea that modest apparel on the outside can still hide an unclean spirit on the inside. A spirit that has evil intent with evil thoughts and whatnot. This is true, sometimes we can be blind to what lies in the heart.

That doesn’t excuse immodest attire and what you see on the outside is generally a clue to what is on the inside.

I can honestly say I’ve been on both sides of the issue. As a child, I wore what was put on me, or provided for me to wear. As a teenager, I didn’t have a whole lot of intelligence. I wore what was in style, and in some instances somewhat edgy styles.

Even after I became a Christian some of the styles were still unbecoming for a person professing Christ. I wasn’t invested in the church in a deep way. I did believe, but I didn’t have depth. So there was a combination of reasons for my immodest apparel. Two major reasons would be a lack of spiritual depth and a lack of self-value.

There were people who would have liked to have told me something. They were afraid because there wasn’t a depth in our relationship. In the last fifty years, I’ve seen numerous articles telling women to watch what they wear, to dress modestly, and be pleasing to God. I’ve even written several articles but…

What I’ve come to see is in most instances you might as well be spitting in the wind. In many cases the same problems I had are present. The length of time a person has been in Christ doesn’t tell us of their spiritual maturity, or their spiritual depth.

As in my case, I struggled with an inferiority complex and lack of spiritual depth during those days. Many women struggle with these problems as well as the lack of self-value.

These women will continue to seek self-valuation from the society they live in by what they wear and do. They will use their daughters by encouraging their young girls to dress and look like their peers in the world. In this way, they will gain approval on two levels.

Sing it softly thru the gloom, when the heart for mercy craves; I wonder if—or when people will lay aside themselves and truly turn to the Lord? When will they realize what they are doing?

I read an article about a woman around the age of forty to fifty years old. Her husband was situated in a good job, her children were out on their own and doing well. She had a very nice home and surroundings. She wanted for nothing. She told the interviewer, ‘This to me is heaven. What more could I want?’

I cringe at stories like that. I’ve been in this old world long enough to realize how quickly life can change. This world isn’t heaven and Satan is still the god of this world.

when the heart for mercy craves—Mark 9:24  And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Matthew 3:1  In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

2  And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

5  Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,

6  And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

7  But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8  Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

Life and Changes

view of ocean during golden hour

As I grow older I am amazed at how life moves on, sometimes in gentle circles other times in violent upheavals.

Today I sit in front of my large sliding glass door, sunshine washing over the countryside, a lazy warm breeze keeps the leaves on the trees waving and brushing the sky. During our younger years, there were always so many things needing to be done and most of them needed to be done yesterday. Keeping up with all the chores of raising a family in the nurture and admonition of the Lord was a task not for the faint of heart.

At one time there were the old tried and true methods of raising children. But that got thrown out in the forties and fifties with Dr. Spock and his book. Now we have all sorts of rules and for some reason, nothing seems to be getting it right.

Raising children is taken too lightly, without enough prayer and forethought. When raising our children, my prayer always was I know I won’t do everything perfectly, but Lord don’t let me make big, horrible mistakes.

Thinking through what you want children to be and do is important. Good families don’t just happen. Goals of what you’re aiming for should be written down and prayed over. We wanted our children to be followers of Christ, to be honest, and respectful and to grow into well-functioning adults. Some other things we thought we were teaching were thankfulness and love of parents and grandparents.

I have had people tell me in the past, ‘you have the nicest family’…and one of the most gratifying statements was one I overheard by a middle-aged sister in Christ when she told someone else, ‘you know the boys I really like are those Westphal boys…’ and the proof is in the pudding as they say.

These many years down the road I see I should have prayed over some of these things more than I did. Honestly, no one ever told me about making a list and praying over it. I’m sure things would have been different if they had. Maybe a list and a prayer for each child as well.

Too often we throw things out in a desperation prayer and hope for the best. Parents need to realize the mistakes they make in raising children may last into the future for many generations.

Many of our first principles were carried all the way through our rearing of children. At one point our oldest two boys let me know that they were ‘breaking dad and mom in’ so the rest of the kids would have a better time of growing up.

Well, now there are several things you do and several you don’t do as a child. Possibly telling your parents such a thing is questionable. If I saw something I believed I was doing wrong, yes, I would be open to changing it. Breaking me in so I’d be more lenient? Not so much.

Oddly enough their intentions were shown to be more breaking dad and mom in so they could do the things they wanted to do. We had our first six children in ten years then ten years later we had the last child.

Within those twenty years, Old Fuzzy and I did jettison some ideas we saw as nonessential and rearranged other principles. Instead of lauding dad and mom for our progressiveness the oldest two now complained.

“You aren’t raising number seven the way you raised the rest of us…” Well, alrighty then. Having learned many things in those years, I didn’t argue with them I told them, ‘We heard so often what crappy parents we were we thought we’d try something different.’

One thing I learned was not to allow someone to dump on me. Everything in life isn’t mom’s fault. When I saw our youngest son begin repeating behavior we had witnessed in the oldest child? We put a stop to it.

After being disciplined for doing something wrong, young fuzzy said angrily to me, “You got me in trouble.” I told him ‘Oh, oh, repeat after me, I did something stupid and I got myself in trouble. IT’S NOT MOM’S FAULT. There were a number of times in the next few years in which he learned this truth.

Before, with the oldest, I thought it was just a childish behavior that he would outgrow. But the oldest never did, and we nipped it in the youngest when it raised its ugly head.

I was part of a disjointed family as a small child. As I grew older I became more like an only child, my sister being six years older. My grandparents grew older in their life and didn’t really need a (1960s vintage) teenager type.

When I lived with my mother I lived like a lone survivor. She worked all day and when she got off work she went to the bar until it closed then she got up the next day to do it over while I went to school.

In high school, I was on my own in life. But I had realized at a very young age something wasn’t right in my life and in searching for God, Jesus found me and after I returned home, I found Old Fuzzy—at that time he wasn’t an Old Fuzzy yet, he was dashing and debonair.

Yet, the first year of marriage was stressful, then finding ourselves expecting our first child, it was all a new experience for me. I would be the first to admit our oldest child bore the brunt of my struggles to become part of a functioning family.

The song Day by Day comes to my mind. God only gives us one day at a time for a reason. Today is peaceful and quiet, busy but not stressful. That hasn’t always been the case and may not always be true, but today it is and we are thankful for it.

Colossians 3:

16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

17  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

And There You Are

a cowboy riding a horse

Many years ago when we still had a television and even still when we watched television, one of the shows we watched was a tri-monthly show, McCloud.

There were three detective shows that alternated through the month one was MacMillan and Wife, one was Columbo, and the other was McCloud. It was a show about a western cowboy cop who found himself stationed in New York City. If that wasn’t outlandish enough in one show he was sent to Australia for a show.

There were several characteristics that were part and parcel of this series, one of which was McCloud’s catchphrase, ‘There ya’ go!’.

It is funny what sticks with a person. I still remember the Australian show whenever he used his catchphrase the other people in the scene would all look around in confusion and say who—or—where, or some other confused remark.

I sometimes find myself on both sides of these catchphrases. Phrases like there ya’ go, there you are, and such like seem to draw a conclusion and we are being instructed to draw a conclusion with the speaker. Sometimes we do and sometimes we look around and wonder, how did the bird just fly over my head and I missed it?

Communication isn’t as easy as it should be mostly because we come from different backgrounds and experiences. Many years ago in a conversation with my sister, she said, “I believe in life after death. I don’t know if you believe in that or not.”

“Yes, of course, I believe in life after death.” I was puzzled by her statement because most Christian faiths believe in the Resurrection and Second coming when we will be alive with Jesus. Some don’t but most believe in life after death.

My sister and I were not raised in any Christian faith so she might not have known this and that added to my questioning of her statement but…

What I was talking about and what my sister was talking about were miles and a universe apart. What she called ‘life after death’ was reincarnation. Coming back as something else in a next life. What I called life after death was that when we die here on this earth we leave our fleshly temple, this body, behind and move into the eternal spiritual life beyond.

After all of my experience, I still don’t always clarify my communication and it does cause me to wonder why it is so easy to assume I’m on the same page as someone else.

Then there are the times when I know I’m in one world and the person I’m talking with is somewhere else. And as it’s said somewhere by someone wiser than myself, Ne’er the twain shall meet.

Spiritual people lately have been talking about the ‘rapture. Ever tried to talk one of those believers out of that belief? Or any number of doctrines that aren’t supported scripturally without picking things out of context and working them over in our image.

There are many of these doctrines as there have been many through the ages. The Catholic church believes it was the church from which all other churches came. Not so, there was an original simple church before the Catholics took over and warped the teachings of the New Testament.

What is needed in order to be true to the original church and its teachings is the scriptures and what the Apostles taught. And we must be careful to follow those teachings not throwing in commandments and doctrines of men with their human errors lest we become part of the problem spoken against. And there you are…

1 John 2:

17  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

18  Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

19  They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

I Pledge That

silver cross pendant necklace on brown wooden table

I will not allow my negative voice to guide my thinking or stop my creative process. I will surround myself with people who love me and support my writing.

How easy it is to listen to the wrong voices. In my book If I Should Die one of the characters had a problem. He had all sorts of voices in his head mostly telling him negative things like, You’re gonna die.

My editor at the time told me I had to change this exchange. I couldn’t have his point of view it had to be shifted back to my main character, but…

That gave me a problem. He wasn’t the main character, but life is more than one character and a story that revolves around only one character feels shallow. Like stone soup with only a stone for the soup.

One day when my grandson Toben was a wee bit of a pollywog I called my daughter and Toben answered. When he answered I said, Well, hello my favorite Toby. He was so excited and said, that’s me, that’s me…

I thought at the time how often are we allowed to make someone feel special like they are our ‘favorite person’? And what a special privilege that is.

Matthew 8:3  And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Some time ago it was pointed out that throughout the scriptures Jesus touched people in healing them as in the example above. For a leper who had to cover his face and cry out in warning, “Unclean, unclean,” how basic the need to be touched is and to them, it was denied, until—Jesus’ touch.

Mark 9:20  And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.

21  And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.

22  And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.

23  Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

24  And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

What an encouragement when the heart for mercy craves, isn’t it the human way to do life, we wait until all else fails then we turn to God and Jesus? Of course, this parent hadn’t had many options until he brought his son to Jesus. Yet, even after 2000 years people still wait until turning to the Lord is the last resort.

We don’t always know when and how we will be able to reach out and encourage people. We don’t always know who needs the encouragement.

I am amazed at how important school bus drivers have become in children’s lives nowadays. One of the reasons Old Fuzzy has stuck with this aspect of his life is the rapport he has built with his school bus kids.

Many of the children begin their trek to school as four-year-olds going to pre-school. And he has been carrying them to school from pre-school into high school. We try to provide treats for Thanksgiving and Christmas for the kids.

A few years ago we provided a homemade treat and a candy cane. One first-time bus rider when given his treat looked at it in wonder and awe. “For me?” he said. “For me? No one has ever given me a present before…”

I don’t know about anyone else, but how could anyone not tear up when I think of that poor child.

2 Corinthians 5:18  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

19  To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

20  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

The Bus Runs

city road man person

They tell me they can’t get out of here…and I say to them, man, the bus runs every day.

Morgan Freeman during an interview after questions about racism and pulling yourself up by the bootstraps gives this example. People tell me I’d like to have done this or that but I can’t. They tell me they can’t get out of here…and I say to them, man, the bus runs every day.

Of course, after these words, Morgan and the host laugh, because it’s true. But I can empathize with both sides. After my graduation from high school, I found a bus out of that town heading back home.

On the flip side of that coin, after looking for a job in the big city back home I had to settle for a job in the little town waiting tables, then another job in the little town as a nurses aide.

A few weeks ago Old Fuzzy and I watched a movie called What If. In the movie the main character is about to make a decision that will take him forever away from a godly life but before he finishes that decision God interrupts him with a what-if moment.

There are some memorial moments in this movie as it challenges the character to understand the contrast in what he thought he was looking for against what he could have had. Then to make the choice based on what he found.

Like many people, he believed money and lots of it, along with prestige, and powerful influence would make him happy. Contrast that to a life of servitude and humility it should be a no-brainer.

So, where does it go from here? James 4:2 “…ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. That is plucked out of the middle of a line of scripture, and only partly addresses the problem. The point is and this goes especially for children of God, when scripture in 1Corinthians 10:13 says …God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

A person has to look for a way of escape and sometimes a person must ask and look for the way to go. In a nutshell, the bus may run every day but if you’re looking to leave for a better situation you must look and you must ask because there are a lot of buses running every day, but not all of them are going somewhere better.

Too many instances we don’t do one or the other, and sometimes we don’t do either to look or to ask.

If we are trying to find a way of escape to something better—in other words trying to find the right bus that will take us to something better—looking for the way, asking God to provide and show the way are good first steps but another thing we must do is leave our baggage behind.

How many times people may get as far as getting on the bus and making a start, but when they arrive at their destination they are the same old person with all their doubts, fears, and foibles. They set up camp bringing their old self with them so they took the bus out only to be their old self in a new place.

Romans 6:6  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

When we come up out of the watery grave as Christians we are supposed to leave the old man of sin behind. As a person wanting to be on a better bus headed to someplace better there is no better bus to be on than the one headed to heaven.

Matthew 7:7  Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.