Leading vs. Following

ocean water wave photo

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

From time to time it is a good thing to take oneself aside and have a heart to heart conversation. Having the right conversation is necessary for moving forward. However, it is not always apparent as to what the right conversation is.

This conversation can be with yourself or because (as it has been stated) ‘No man is an island.” It may involve others.

In other words, it can be either a self-check or a selves check.

A self-check can help us make sure we are on the right path. We know as it says in Proverbs 16:9  “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” That doesn’t mean that every step I take is directed by the Lord. They should be directed by the Lord if we’re Christians, but…

As I’ve shared before, back in the day I had MY life planned out. After marriage, I was going to wait two years before we began our family. I would then have two children first a boy, then a girl…

There wasn’t anything wrong with those plans. We got married and began on the right foot and.

In a world of ‘Well, that didn’t work out,” that didn’t work out. The first child was a boy—born nine and a half /ten months after we were married. The second child (girl) turned out to be a boy. Well, life is what it is, and that is what it was. Three years later we decided to have a third child, which turned out to be a boy as well.

The point is in Proverbs 16:9 Are we more interested in the course we’ve charted (A man’s heart deviseth his way:) or in following in the steps God has planned for us? (but the LORD directeth his steps.)

I’m using these scriptures in the writer’s vernacular of writing, outline, critiques, and editing. God’s plan is his outline.

I read a woman’s story of how ‘she rose above the mean-spiritedness of some other women’ who told her she should not wear short shorts when she came in to worship. Those women were mean and hurt her feelings…

Maybe the woman who was unkind in telling her to wear something more modest should have been more tactful and kind. I don’t know, but there was a day when people could figure out for themselves that a woman wearing two pasty spots on their bosom and a tutu for the bottom wasn’t enough outside of their home.

Critique, we all need to endure critiques. Sometimes the criticism is valid, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it does hurt our feelings but weigh the advice. As a writer/critiquer, the advice goes: if one person questions a passage (in your writing), think it over. If two critique partners question it— seriously reconsider what you’ve written, but if there are three or more, just throw it out.

There are many people who want to give you free advice. Weigh it carefully. Free advice can be worth exactly what it costs.

 Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

If you’re a follower of Christ, God wants the best for your life. He wants to transform you to be more like Jesus. But that requires each one of us to let him lead. Back when I had my life all figured out, I didn’t have anything figured out.

I had become a Christian, yes, but I thought I was still in control. Our fourth child (unplanned, but very much loved) was a girl, but by then I could see how my prayers for ‘wisdom and patience’ were being answered. I knew I had enough wisdom and patience.

God added two more children for good measure, and then we asked for one more.

Psalms 139:

1  …O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.

2  Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

3  Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

4  For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

5  Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

7  Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

8  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

10  Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

Being Smart

light sea dawn landscape

12)  So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

There are certain milestones that for some reason we believe once we reach them we will have arrived.

The big milestone when I was young was graduating from high school. In my ignorance, I thought I would be an adult. I would be grown up. I can’t remember what benefit that would give me but on that side of the ledger, it was a milestone in my life.

During high school, my mother had wanted me to become proficient in secretarial skills but that skill sorrowfully didn’t fit me. To add insult to injury, I didn’t drive a car or have access to transportation. But graduate I did anyhow.

Other people saw graduation as a milestone just as I did because at graduation people gave the graduates gifts. A blessing indeed, and a surprise to me. I had already planned on leaving Ohio to go back to my (kind of) adopted/home state of Iowa.

With the graduation money, I bought a one-way Greyhound bus ticket back home. I would stay with a girlfriend for a visit. After that? Well, I had no plan after that, but the first step was to get there.

The second step happened when I went to live at my aunt and uncle’s. Obtaining a job and someplace to live were the final challenges. My Aunt helped me find a sleeping room with a bathroom in a nearby small town, and a job that I could walk to in that same small town.

Milestones—graduation was a milestone but when I reached it it wasn’t exactly the milestone I had expected. In looking back I wonder at the boldness and/ or stupidity of youth. I left my mother’s with less than a hundred dollars and a suitcase that contained most of everything I owned.

Some people like to think they’ve lived their life like the Frank Sinatra song, “My Way.” I’ve never found that song appealing. I find it arrogant. For them to think they chose their path, and how good and laudable it was—on this side of eternity we really can’t know how good it was.

Milestones—when I think about life I marvel at how quickly it goes; how quickly it passes. As someone wrote just lately, I knew I would get old, but I’m sure surprised by how fast it happened.

Psalms 90:

9  For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.

10  The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

11  Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.

12  So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Philippians 2:

1  If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,

2  Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

4  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

5  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

6  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

7  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

8  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Good Advice

flower tree park landscape

You can find good advice almost everywhere. You can find bad advice almost everywhere. And…

You can find situations that good advice becomes bad advice and situations where bad advice becomes good advice.

If that seems a bunch of gobble-de- gook, it can be that as well. A few months ago I was congratulated by someone I didn’t give advice to because I didn’t give them advice against marrying the person they wanted to marry.

I did feel grateful that they felt grateful, but I had a nagging question. Will they still feel that way if it goes sideways? Like a young man wrote oodles of years ago when he was looking at his picture in his high school yearbook when he said, “Look at how long my hair was, and no one warned me I would look back at this picture thinking how dumb I looked.”

Someone may have reminded the boy with the graduation picture/long hair that he had been warned, but… So, I was feeling accomplished, not because I didn’t agree with some of the naysayers, or could have agreed with them. I felt accomplished because after seven kids I absolutely knew that nothing I said would make a difference.

And the second thing I know is even if the odds of naysayers and/ or me being right were on one side, only God knows how things will really turn out. How many times do old people witness that—Everyone told us it wouldn’t work, but here we are fifty years later.

And there we must leave it in the end, at the foot of the throne.

Philippians 1:

20  According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

21  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

22  But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.

23  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

24  Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

25  And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;

26  That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

27  Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

28  And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

29  For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

30  Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

Better to Slow Down a Little

small airplane on airfield in countryside against sundown sky

Okay, so we need to stop flying as we go down life’s road.

We’ve had to have our front window replaced and a bit of cosmetic work done on it due to leaking windows and moisture. It is about 95% done but still requires inside work.

“I think we’ll probably need to repaint the living room.”

“Our new window curtains will need to allow the light we get from that new window in,” Old Fuzzy says. We’re admiring how much more sunshine is streaming into the room.

Fast forward a day, and on my computer, I’m getting ads for…curtains! Wow, I’m thinking how come I’m getting ads for…?

“How you doing mom?” Young Fuzzy and I are having a conversation a week later. “Not too bad. My hair is looking better since I’m having it washed at the salon,” I tell him. And it really has helped it look healthier…

This last week I have been receiving on my computer lots and lots of ads for—“You can have longer, thicker, healthier hair. Try our new—”

Hmm, well, I don’t know, but I’m thinking. I’ve been told you can’t escape big brether’s, and that’s the only explanation for several things such as this that have happened lately.

Although I did kind of put it to a test and I may have to reword or retry it again. “Well, Buddy,” says I to Young Fuzzy, “I’m thinking you and I need to start looking into getting our pilot’s licenses. I’ve always wanted to fly my own plane…”

As they say, Laughing Out Loud—I’m still waiting on that one.

1 Corinthians 3:

19  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

20  And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

21  Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;

22  Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

23  And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

Miserable People

silhouette photo of two persons riding horses

When we were relieved of our chores we could run or ride horses about the farm or timber.

“Well, how did we get so many miserable people?” the speaker said. He was commenting on the state of our society. Thoughts may be asked such as, how many miserable people do we have? How do we know we have miserable people? And what makes them miserable? Or can they become unmiserable?

This year of 2020 has been somewhat unhappy because of the COVID problems, but I’m very sure that isn’t what he was speaking to.

I believe he was starting with our unalienable rights. The ones that go along with the words, “All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Of course, life doesn’t ensure that we will be happy, neither does liberty and in reality, neither does the last of the three, the pursuit of happiness isn’t happiness itself.

I feel as if most people don’t have any idea what will give them happiness. People settle for the pursuit of a good job/income and the perfect doodads.

The doodads change from person to person. It could be the perfect house, the perfect spouse, the perfect boat…swimming pool…car…fill in the blank here. And in some instances, these things bring a certain sense of arriving at success.

And arriving at success gives a sense of happiness or accomplishment. But is that happiness, and why are people miserable?

When I was young I remember on more than one occasion sitting out under my grandparents’ boxelder tree at the end of a summer day. My grandparents lived on a small farm, a mere twenty acres. Today that would be classified as an acreage more than a farm, but it was their farm. There were eleven acres that could be farmed and the rest mostly tumbled down a fairly steep timber ground.

Grandpa planted his tillable farm ground in a rotation of corn, alfalfa, and oats. He raised a few cattle, milked the cows, and sold beef to friends and family. During those years horses were important, and horse shows were very popular in our area. So, Grandpa who had made the horse racing circuit shoeing racehorses retired from that to shoe horses for those who competed in the horse shows.

As they grew older they had a steady income from these endeavors. Even when he was eligible for Social Security he didn’t sign up for it for quite a few years. He didn’t retire from his farming and shoeing until in his seventies or pushing eighty.

Doodads to them could have been instead of chopping firewood by hand they bought two oil stoves and had them filled every month or six weeks, or paying our neighbor, Gene to come in and bale the alfalfa during the summer. Of course, we could afford to buy ice cream, and we took our clothes to the laundry mat in town, and they no longer raised a large garden…

As I said I remember sitting out under the boxelder tree which was where Grandpa used to tie the horse he was shoeing. He had a small forge for working the horseshoes in order to fit the shoe to the horse. Some days as he was shoeing one of us kids, or even my Grandma on rare occasions, would have a rag and we would stand by the horse’s head swishing the flies that landed on the animal in order to keep the horse content.

During the summers we children were expected to help with morning and evening chores, and we helped Grandma get meals and wash up dishes and any housework. When we were relieved of those chores we could run or ride horses about the farm or timber. Often in the summers after lunch was cleared away and dishes were done we had a couple of games in the afternoon of Canasta.

The point is Grandpa and Grandma were happy, my sister, cousin Coco, and I were happy…we were thankful for so many things.

I don’t know why we have so many miserable people. Perhaps it’s because they never got to sit out under a boxelder tree after a day of fruitful work. They have never sat as the stars began to come out a few at a time and listen to the whippoorwills calling from the deep timber.

Maybe it’s because they never after the supper was over and dishes put away, got to ride their horses. Around the wide paddock, we rode in a circle, laying back on our horses as they aimlessly followed the other horse and we watched as the constellations came out. We called it midnight riding. When we got tired of that amusement we hung our bridles away and went to bed.

Maybe that’s why we have so many miserable people. We didn’t have much, but as my Grandpa asked me once, ‘We sure had fun, didn’t we’? And yes, we did.

 I Timothy 6:

7  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

8  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

9  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

10  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

11  But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

12  Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

13  I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;

14  That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

15  Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;

16  Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

17  Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

18  That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

19  Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

And Jesus went forth

green black yellow round window

Matthew 14: 14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.
16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.

17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.
18 He said, Bring them hither to me.

19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.
21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

woman carrying child while standing near trees at daytime

Honor Mother

Many of us have heard the phrase, ‘the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world’. A popular poem in the 1800s, it referred to mothers and motherhood and the idea that the nurturing influence of mothers on their children during childhood influenced the world through adulthood. It is a foundational principle in both the Old and New Testaments to “Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:2-3)

Honor Due Mothers

woman carrying child while standing near trees at daytime, a loving mother

Honor—a word that carries all sorts of connotations. It is similar to the word ‘virtue’, it is seen in action. Recently, I watched a show in which there was a scene where an adopted daughter didn’t get what she wanted in an exchange between her and a parent. The young girl stormed out of the room when the parent was speaking to her.

In my day as a child, when an elder, much more when a parent was speaking to you, you listened. Granted she was an adopted child, but it should have been a learning moment.

In her case, after she had been in her room long enough to cool down the parent should have gone quietly in to speak with her. The conversation would go something like, “I can understand you are not happy and you would like—or you feel like such and such—but slamming out of the room and/or running off is not the way we handle things nor is it the way to solve problems…”

Honorable Mothers Needed

Just as we need honorable fathers, we need honorable mothers. Families are the foundation on which our nation is built. Good families equal good homes and that makes a good country.

Dependable mothers are as essential as dependable fathers and are the second half of the unit. In real life, there are times when a home will find itself with only one parent because of a catastrophe, but that should not happen often. With the rise of feminism, one of the goals was to free women from the bondage of marriage, except…

Honored Mothers Differ

Feminism isn’t about being feminine, it’s about being like men…and not even good men. It hasn’t worked well for women to be ‘loosed’ from marriage. Marriage isn’t bondage for women it is a safety net. In reality, marriage is made in heaven. When the scriptures call women ‘the weaker vessel’ it doesn’t mean an inferior vessel. It refers to a more delicate, more valuable vessel. So, what happened is instead of being treated as a valuable person women traded that in to be treated like one of the guys. Someone to be used then discarded.

There is nothing honorable, nor honest for men or women in that situation, and nothing dependable for men, women, or children. A society will not thrive nor flourish or survive in an immoral state of affairs. A few years back there was a saying, “If you like what you see put a ring on it”.

Shallow—our lives are shallow. When people ask “Why don’t marriages last today like they used to?” The problem is character counts and we’re short on character. Honor, virtue, dependable, go with the idea of ‘a promise made is a promise kept’. Wives are half of the marriage unit, and both halves need to be of good character. Even as a person of faith I fall, I rise, and I fall again. Respectful, Dependable, Moral, Honor Mother.

“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),” (Ephesians 6:2 ESV) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+6%3A2&version=ESV