Too Soon Gone

gray and brown mountain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do overs? The biggest do-over:

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

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

FAITH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pondering

crop field under rainbow and cloudy skies at dayime

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

TEN REASONS WHY GROWING OLD IS WONDERFUL …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lostness

man in brown coat and gray backpack posing for a photo

I should have put a reference down, but the above idea is expressed from more than one source. Lostness…

Sitting in my office in front of my large sliding glass window/door I can look across the landscape. I have a picture window view of our ‘valley’ so to speak.

It’s only a dip at the bottom of the hill, but in this part of the country, it’s as close to a valley as you get. If I step out on the deck from my sliding glass door… if only my grandmother could see this marvelous door, it would add weight to the words she used to tell us kids “Shut the door they’re coming in the window.”

Well, I did digress. Stepping onto the deck I can see the pasture where the happy cows live, I can see the field across the gravel road to the east of the house. Closer here in the immediate yard between the happy cows and the house, there are various outbuildings and lawn decorations.

In the words From Journey of A Mountain Woman, “The days are getting short now and the leaves are pretty well gone from the trees…winter is upon us.” Of course, we are really still in pre-winter, but it has turned sharply colder. The garden is finished and what was left therein is lost.

Lostness… Quite a few years ago now, we were having the traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas feast at our house. I had a bizillian things I planned for our meal and as usual, not all of them came to fruition. Even though everyone brought offerings, Chris and I always had a basic fare planned for the meal. I had planned on making a gelatin and fruit salad but ran out of time.

As my daughter-in-law, one of the first to arrive, came in I told her I had wanted to make a jello but didn’t have it made. She asked me if I was going to make the jello. To state that I was somewhat confused would be accurate. In my mind, people are beginning to arrive, and it takes gelatin at least four hours to set, and as I told her, “No, I’m not making jello—Some days it’s too late, it’s just flat too late.”

In that case. the time was lost, but most people in today’s world of lostness still have time, if they just had the inclination. I believe they feel deeply that something is wrong, they feel that something is out of place. However, they aren’t sure what, and even if they had an idea of what is out of place would they have the courage to change it?

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:33-34)

What We Deserve?

man with beard wearing brown headscarf

Some say it’s a blessing we don’t receive what we deserve. We don’t get what we’ve earned, so to speak. In Romans, the scriptures tell us, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:22-23)

We have earned death or separation from God, but by obedience to God, we are blessed with salvation. A young girl asks a question in a short video.

“Jeremiah,” she says, “Can I ask you a question?”

“Yes, you may,” he says.

“Why would a loving God send someone to hell?”

“God isn’t sending anyone to hell. Hell was designed for the devil and his followers. When we sin we are already going to hell of our own choice. Because Jesus died on the cross, we have a choice. We can choose to follow Jesus and have salvation, or we can continue on our original path and choose hell. God doesn’t send us there.”

A few years back when a major city (I’ve forgotten which one, maybe Cincinnati?) was defaulting on some debt, someone, a clever citizen, came out with T-shirts with the logo on it—“De fault is not mine”.

It was funny at the time and I have used the phrase many times since, usually when I’m in denial, I often use another play on words, as in “I am in De Nile”.

In the end, however, none of our clever wordplays will cover the sad truth. We can be in denial all we want, but as the young man above, Jeremiah, told his questioner, we are still choosing where we are going to end up. No matter if we like it or not, the fault will be our own.

“Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14-15)

Just Watching

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There are days when I’m just as they say, ‘gobsmacked.” I watch people doing the most self-defeating things and I wonder how they can persevere doing the same things that have caused them problems.

As someone wiser than I has said, “The meaning of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting to get a different outcome.”

I can understand. I watched as a man who had recently become blind was learning how to live his new life. He was preparing his table before he brought his food for his meal. It could have looked heartless, but I laughed… well, I snickered at least.

On his table sat a pile of books. In clearing the books from the table he began to place them on the floor. The person helping stopped him. There were several ‘new rules’ he needed to learn of his reality. But as I watched I recognized how this would have been what he had done in the before days, and this would be utterly and absolutely wrong in his new life.

It wasn’t funny, except it was so human. We all share common foibles. Putting a pile of books on the floor whether you are sighted or not isn’t a good idea, but how much worse when you are blind?

There are more ways than one to be blind. The Lord has said, There are none so blind as those who will not see—well, he should have said it, but here is what he did say:

“And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” (John 9:39)

And really those who refuse to see, who don’t want to see, won’t see.

So, what do you know? What do you see? Have you ever considered what the world would be like if reduced to its elemental base? We live in a world that runs on perceived wealth and there are a number of those forms of wealth.

“But ten men were found among them that said unto Ishmael, Slay us not: for we have treasures in the field, of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey. So he forbare, and slew them not among their brethren.” (Jeremiah 41:8)

That elemental form of wealth saved more than one life.

“And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Job 1:8)

Ah, yes, consider Job: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” (Job 1:1)

“His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.” (Job 1:3)

Job had wealth and honor, yet Job’s true wealth lay in his love of God.

The book of Job deals with suffering but in many ways even after reading this book we aren’t any closer to understanding suffering, either the why or how of it.

“It’s funny how we outgrow what we once thought we couldn’t live without, and then we fall in love with what we didn’t even know we wanted. Life keeps leading us on journeys we would never go on if it were up to us. Don’t be afraid. Have faith. Find the lessons. Trust the journey.” Peace, Love and Smiles~

I don’t say “Trust the journey,” it comes down to a trust in God.

Most of us want to be in control. When I started out on my journey I had it all figured out. However, just like the meme says God kept leading me on a journey I never would have gone on. What I had figured I wanted wasn’t the journey I had. And as the Apostle Paul said, I am what I am by the grace of God.

“Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.”(Job 42:1-3)

By God’s Grace

“He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock…” Luke 6:48

green grass field near mountain

“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Most of us know that grace is unmerited favor, and God’s grace is God’s benevolent unmerited favor. Another quote is, “But by the grace of God, there go I.” How many times have we seen people suffering from their foolish decisions, and realized that we have made unwise decisions as well?

My father-in-law passed away on Father’s Day twelve years ago. My husband, at the time of his father’s passing, wrote a poignant memory in his journal.

We have been adult children for a long time now and, thankfully, as an adult child, things that were—have become more clear.

At some point, if you actually grow up and become a thoughtful adult, you realize your parents were young people at one time. That time usually encompasses when you were children.

So, technically, you all grew up (and grew older) together. When we ponder on that we should realize many things. When I open that box, my mind is like a Pandora’s dream or nightmare and creatures from the mind fly or float out.

If you back up in history in my mind at least, parents parented the way they had been raised. Historically, there probably were early Doctor Spocks and their theories in other generations, we just aren’t aware of them.

Yet, most advice probably did come from old wives, doctors, and such. I’m not researching just guessing.

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.” Proverbs 25:11-12  “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” Proverbs 25:28

I have seen several articles lately on “gentle parenting.” They may also use the term “compassionate parenting”. Whichever term used I haven’t figured out what they are selling yet. This technique does not use spanking or time outs. As of yet, I have not figured what they use for discipline, but in the art of nurturing our children discipline is a necessary tool.

Are there things I would do differently in raising and disciplining of our children? Of course there are. The scriptures above hint of a gentle discipline, but there are other references to a bit more direct punishment—not that a parent would want to literally ‘beat’ a child, yet there is reference to spanking.

However, I’m sure when my not so adorable cousin Cathy threw at me the one egg the hens had laid that day and when it hit my shoulder and I became incensed. And as I kicked the tire on our Buick in anger, and my Grandfather grabbed and set me forcibly on the chair outside.

Then he went and took care of my cousin. I don’t know what went on between those two but she never did that to any of us again. I also know when my Grandfather got angry and when he spoke… we all listened. And as the old man says, “Sometimes you’ve got to get their attention afore you can talk to ‘em.”

I don’t endorse the cry method that Spock recommends for babies. There are too many variables. A baby could be sick, or could have something wrong. Crying is their way of communicating. However, until there is an understanding about the ‘gentle parenting’ discipline and what they are advocating I wouldn’t endorse that either.

Back in the day when my children were growing up, the spanking is bad theory was popular. Where did that lead? I’m not sure it led anywhere good. That era didn’t have discipline and was more violent than previous generations.

As someone confided to me, “For all their talk, why is it that our generation that was spanked when needed, was less violent than the current one?”

Children are small drops of humanity needing to be molded and nurtured into responsible adults. Some children only need words as a ‘reprover’, but as Proverbs 25:28 says, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

I tend to believe children arrive with a program, not a blank sheet. They still need nurtured and mentored in order to navigate the world. They need the guidance to know how to use their talents. Not just understanding manners but also knowing right and wrong, the difference between good and evil, and the relationship of morals.

“Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful, and magical humans on earth, for what they believe is what they will become.” Brooke Hampton

“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Colossians 4:6

This scripture isn’t referencing speaking to children but it is a good thing to remember to treat others with kindness. At one time I had a T shirt with the words, “Children are People Too” on it.

Balance. As a Christian there were some things we deemed untenable. We didn’t go down to the local swimming pool put on our little suit and play in the water as if it were normal to wear our underwear in public.

The object here was to have fun and cool off in the hot summer. Our children on summer afternoons would often have water fights or splash in the creek. It was easy to fill up the old washing machine rinse tubs, or just run water from the hose to fill their buckets and voila! Throw them at one another. We found things to offshoot things we didn’t do.

Adults look at life as a race to be run. Daily chores, jobs, running errands— living life is important and as we jog through our life doing our everyday necessities we drag along those rascally kids. Then one day we wake up and the rascally kids are grown and gone and we realize the important thing in life was raising the kids and they are flat gone—for better or worse they are gone.

Why do we spend so much time on the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up? When we are children only one in ten of us or maybe one in a hundred know what that means.

What should we be asking or what should we plant as goals? I want to grow up to be a responsible, good, honest person. In order to do that I need to believe and trust in (Jehovah) God, because… and teach children why that’s important.

I submit that teaching people the heart issues is the important thing, not just children but especially children. Why do young men not aspire to be good people, good husbands and fathers? Why are we not encouraging our daughters to be good people, good homemakers, wives, and mothers?

If we aren’t right with God all of our life will be wrong. What we do with the rest of our time will be skewed and out of kilter. All of us need to build on the right foundation.

“He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.” (Luke 6:48)

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” (Luke 6:45)

Scattered Jewels

Wise people and wise parents take the good things they learn from their upbringing and put it with the good they learn in life …

crop field under rainbow and cloudy skies at dayime

Rumbling over the potholes and rough roads of life we gain insights. Some are keeper insights and others we should toss as far away as possible, like a smartphone that wants to fly.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:47-50)

Cycle breakers… Just recently there was a tribute to ‘cycle breakers’. People who come from less than idyllic childhood places yet instead of continuing the hurt and abuse into the next generation they attempt to change the future of their children.

When we think of cycle breakers we are thinking of those like the example above. Yet, a cycle breaker could go either way, a bad situation turned into “This isn’t going to continue.” Or a good situation that slides downhill. Perhaps that should be called a slider?

Along that theme, ‘Missy Jones from Mountain Cookin’ with Missy’ writes: “I took the bad and I’ve learned from it and became determined not to pass it down to my daughter. No families are perfect. We all have some kind of trauma to deal with but we don’t have to pass it down to our own children.”

Wise people and wise parents take the good things they learn from their upbringing and put it with the good they learn in life to teach their children. Parenting should not be without deliberate thought and prayer. Raising children should not be just reacting; it should be acting in a responsible manner.

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There is a song, “Me and Bobby McGee”, and the gist of the song is that the singer let something valuable ‘slip away’, and only in hindsight was it realized what was lost. The clincher in the song is, “Nothin’s worth Nothin’ but it’s Free…”

When you pay nothing for something it is usually worth what you pay for it. Then there are the Bobby McGees of life. However, just because we don’t know what the value of something is does not make it worthless.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46)

One of my sayings has been “Life makes cowards of us all.” It may make heroes shine more brightly, but at some point, everyone goes through the valley. Yet, as the saying goes, “Courage is not the lack of fear.”

“It is better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” Robert H. Schuller.

There are a number of quotes on courage in the face of being afraid. And indeed we should not live a life of fear, but we must overcome our fears daily.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)

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“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

As we grow in knowledge—and usually as we grow in age, life has ways of showing us truths. The saddest truth is we aren’t perfect and we need grace. The good news is that even though we are all beggars at the throne of God, we have that access. We are—“Just beggars telling other beggars where we got the bread…”

Super Women? I hear often about how talented and wonderful ‘women’ are. Think back to the song “I am woman hear me roar…” But the reality has set women up for a fall. Many women have tried to be superwomen only to realize no one could, should, or try to be everything. It’s impossible to be super women, most of us end up more like Wonder Woman… We wonder what we’re doing and where we went wrong.

“—We only have now. This moment. Don’t save your joy for tomorrow, reach out for it today.” Tell the people in your life that you love that you love them. My cousin, Coco and I did some wonky things when we were young, but one thing we got right was our idea that we should do a good deed each day for someone.

The following quote came from a meme on a piece I am signed up for ‘Journey of a Mountain Woman.’ “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of (your) life is to give it.”

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34)

Everyone’s life is different. It comes as events flow around us.

“Learn to accept your own reality and see the big difference it would make in your life.”  Author: Chima_Dickson Official

And while we see it and accept it that doesn’t mean we can’t change it if it isn’t what it should be.

Seth Godin says:*While events might be evenly distributed, responses and reactions rarely are. We are able to choose to see possibility. (Seth Godin)

This reminds us that life is like a kaleidoscope with a whole host of possibilities of outcome which we may choose from. Even the same person can choose to change the outcome of the same event in order that it doesn’t happen more than once.

I heard someone say they were just, “Buying a ticket till the train runs out of track…” and I am intrigued by the statement. I would have liked to ask them what they meant. Was it a hopeless speech, or one of adventure?

Nevertheless, on your journey, life is an adventure. Some days it’s like a rollercoaster, up down, around the bend. It can be a good thing to ask yourself, What’s up with you? Where are you going? How do you fly? Do you fly? What’s keeping you down? How can we tell?

And most important of all, protect your valuables. The most important valuables? Hmm, those are often the things you can’t hold in your hand. Love of God, love of life, love of family and friends…

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. (Revelation 3:11)

Abundance of Life

His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
(Job 1:3)

brown camel

“It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 7:5-6)

Cycles of nature—I find it interesting that this time of the year is designated autumn, but we often dub it as fall. Fall? Is that because leaves fall, or fruits fall, or I’m not sure why we call it fall.

No matter what we call it, autumn or fall, it’s my favorite time of the year. I have a throwback poem by James Whitcomb Riley that is one of my favorite poems that I mention every year, “When the Frost is on the Pumpkin.” It’s all about autumn and the harvest and the fragrance and abundance of life.

Abundance? Life? Two of my favorite questions… or maybe it’s really only one question—What does it look like?

From Michael Knowles: “So many have gotten duped by society. Our entire culture has told them to put off getting married, don’t have kids. Just focus on their career. Get an endless series of degrees. Don’t go to church. Don’t believe in anything above yourself. Life is about nothing more than bingeing Netflix and traveling around the world, having fun experiences, and going to brunch.”

When Frodo in “Lord of the Rings” movie complains about wishing this time hadn’t ever come to him, Gandalph replies that it’s irrelevant. Basically it is as Ecclesiastes says, “Time and Chance happens to us all,” and Gandalph replies to Frodo “All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” Gandalph from J.R.R Tolkien.

What does an abundant life look like? At one time it looked like a husband and wife, owning their own home, and Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot, and… a cat. However, as Michael Knowles pointed out that’s not in today’s society.

“Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” (Ecclesiastes 9:9-10)

What is important at the beginning of life may not be what’s important at the end. How does anyone know what will be important? If we lean on our own understanding or our own wisdom we will come up with as many different ideas as there are individuals. In the end, it will be like Bill Watterson’s comic paper conclusion in Calvin and Hobbes—Everything is going to implode and nothing will matter…

In a recent article, the writer expressed how he wished he had read Ecclesiastes and Proverbs when he was much younger. He thought it would have helped him avoid some of his mistakes, yet…

Yes, there is so much wisdom, but… Like all wisdom, you will only find it if you are looking.

How much do we miss of all the things we see when we see if we aren’t looking? Maybe we aren’t looking at the right thing, or not looking for the right thing. Nevertheless, we don’t see.

The Bible’s wisdom is timeless. The Psalms have been deemed the highest form of poetry by the experts. And again, Ecclesiastes has so much to tell us. However, and I believe I gleaned this from something Seth Godin wrote:

“But the time we spend arguing about proof that we’re not prepared to accept is simply wasted. Belief needs proof the way a fish needs a bicycle.”

If someone isn’t prepared to accept the timeless truth, or if they aren’t looking for and not wanting those truths, the time is wasted. How many times do we as Christians scour land and sea, going near and far, telling people about Jesus and salvation and the love of God, and preaching the Word? We may gather a few interested souls, but sometimes it seems like few and far between. We wonder, why are not more people looking? But the answer lies therein—they aren’t looking.

Yet, we continue to sow the seed, as in the Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13, Mk. 4, &Lk. 8). Sometimes in the same places we have sown before, because people who weren’t ready to receive at one time may be ready at other times. It was the Apostle Paul who declared, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)

Back to the theme of an abundant life and what it looks like. Does it look like a bigger house, a fancier car, or nicer clothes? When you chase happiness what do you get? It is important to remember those things won’t bring people lasting happiness. The Bible warns us not to work for or “labor for the wind”.

“And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind?” Ecclesiastes 5:16

Some of those things may last a long time on this earth, such as a new car, house, or whatnot, but not always, and there are some things we don’t want to sacrifice to end up with a mouth full of gravel as in Ecclesiastes 5:17 “All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness.”

In the end, no matter if we gain wealth and /or honor and fame what matters is peace and contentment. “Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion. (Ecclesiastes 5:18 & 19) Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.”

What’s On Your Heart?

The idea of busy—busy doesn’t have to do with profit and/or money.

unrecognizable man enjoying sunset on beach

We should take heed lest life, under the guise of making money, is reduced to the illusion that making money is the most important thing. It trumps the weightier things of life. But it doesn’t~

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:23-24)

A number of people are wrestling with the issue of what they want for their lives. They have reached the age where they’re confused and are wondering, like the words of the cynical old song—is this all there is?

“Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:13-14)

Lenore Calandra Pott wrote this in an article from “Grown and Flown” (How to Throw Away the Memories Our Kids Leave Behind.)

“We rush through our lives with carelessness and we mark the occasions and milestones with baby books and cake toppers and the things of our lives are the times of our lives; subtlety inward and a combination of past and present. And so when the cicadas return I’ll figure out what to save and what to not keep.” ~Lenore Calandra Pott

The piece is a bitter-sweet questioning of life before, and after—of the question “What is important now?” And this question is popping up all around me. It reverberates as if it is important and that it is imperative that I find the answer.

Here’s another excerpt from a recent article on the same topic:

“My husband is important — but we can’t go back to a time before we had kids; we aren’t those people anymore…all those regular parenting tasks are gone, and what initially felt like freedom now (that the kids are gone) feels more like a void…Making dinner for two is not nearly as fun, and if one of us has an evening event, eating dinner alone is quite a change. Some questions I ask now are: (I’ve narrowed her questions down to five from her original fifteen)

1. Who am I now?

2. What is my purpose?

3. What is my purpose now that I’m no longer needed in the same way as a Mom? (This was written by a woman, but it could be rethought of as a man or a parent.)

4. What are my dreams now that my time is my own?

5. What’s important to me now?”

Tracy Hargen August 2020

Going from parents of seven children to an empty nest parent can be traumatic. One year we had eleven people living in our house. Then some of the family members found their feet and a new home, but that still left several children at home. Things continued to change and shift as kids graduated, went off to the military, or off to newer jobs or for education.

During the shifting years someone said to me, “Mom, it’s a good thing you have Benjamin or you’d have an empty nest…” and I thought by gummy she was right. What an eye-opener that was. We had the first six children in ten years. They were close in age and would leave home in rapid succession—those first six kids—and that can be almost too sudden a change.

In rereading the snippet from Lenore Calandra Pott, no matter if you’re before that stage in your life—The stage of “Grown and Flown” children or if you’re there already, ponder on those prophetic words about rushing through life.

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14)

When a person is eighteen life looks like it stretches in front of them forever, but in reality, it flashes away and your downhill slide has slid. And there you are.

Someone told me way back in the day when our family was shifting and changing, “You have the nicest family.” I had an epiphany moment where, not sure of what I should reply, I said “Thank you, we worked hard at it.”

Good families don’t ‘just happen.’ It may not be a conscious effort, but someone taught their children to be respectful, kind, and all of the things that go into being a good person.

Good lives don’t just happen either. Stupid happens but the important thing is that a person doesn’t encourage stupid to happen to them. We aren’t responsible for what happens to us, but we are responsible for what we do with what happens.

As we grow we change, no matter if we are growing up or just growing older. In our twenties, thirties, and even into our forties we don’t consider that we are growing older. However, we should employ the five questions in our youth instead of waiting until we’re on the other side of the downhill slide. And I’m taking the liberty of changing number three to fit the timeline change.

1. Who am I now?

2. What is my purpose?

3. What is my purpose now before I’m needed as a Mom? (Or as a father.)

4. What are my dreams now that my time is my own?

5. What’s important to me now?

Some answers might read as follows:

*I am a young man/woman at the beginning of my life. I take that station seriously. Because I know the dawn of life is full of foolishness, I humbly seek God’s providence and guidance…

*My purpose is to glorify God, but in so doing I’m seeking God’s blessing and as in the prayer of Jabez: “And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.” (1 Chronicles 4:10)

*My purpose now is to study and become the best person I can be, becoming ready to be a good husband/wife and eventually the best partner and parent as God develops.

*My dreams are to study my purpose and cultivate Godliness and the talents God has given me for future use in the Kingdom.

*It is important to me to be true to God and myself…

What people don’t think about at a young age is—what it will be like to be old. It’s the last thing young people want to think of, but as Solomon warns, our old age is built on what we do in our young age. So, in youth, it is necessary to be wise in order to put sorrow away from our hearts. “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10)