Where Does That Leave Us?

And write they did— on the tablet of my heart…

brown and red birdhouse

When Old Fuzzy and I were young and tender, I was at a ladies’ function and it was necessary to introduce myself. We had just moved to Tennessee to attend preacher training school and there were several new wives along with myself.

I waited my turn listening as others introduced themselves. Many of the wives introduced themselves with, “Hello, I’m so and so’s wife.” That was the way to put people together indicating who went with whom.

That was somewhat nonsensical since none of us were much associated with each other yet, and as wives, we didn’t know the other women’s husbands anyway.

Yet, one of the teacher’s wives didn’t follow the standard line.

After these many years, I don’t remember what her introduction was, but only that she broke the mold, showing us that yes we were wives, but we were more than just one dimensional.

We were wives, we were mothers, daughters, Christians, students, and the list could go on. All of these things made us who we were; today it makes us who we are.

Quite a few years later, at the time when several of my children were leaving the nest, my daughter said to me “Mom, it’s a good thing you have Buddy or you’d be an empty nester pretty soon.” And she was right.

Well, if that wasn’t a wake-up moment. An empty nester? And I was just over forty years old. There were our first six children born within ten years, then after ten more years, we had our last child.

Our first six were ready to scatter, most of them one right after another. And in my odd way of thinking it came to me, “I was a person before I had children, and I plan on being a person after they are gone…” The next question is, what kind of a person? Where does that take us, and then where does that leave us?

In reflection, the before I had children and the after I had children person was two completely different people. I had planned on only two children. God knew better. Life has a way of changing us, a way of writing on the heart. I hear women who say they don’t plan on nor do they want children.

There was a time when I told people who voiced that opinion, to hold on and wait a few years before making a permanent decision.

In our present society, I have found myself agreeing with many of these young women, especially the ones shouting ‘my body, my choice’. We live in a selfish world where too many people are more interested in themselves.

At one time women planned on marriage, and families were an offshoot of these unions. It was a given that as the childhood ditty said, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes XXXX with a baby carriage.” It was expected and most people did want children.

One of the thoughts I have seen lately says, “Most people raise children while working at the important things in life, not realizing that raising children is the most important thing in life.”

There is a basic need for people to recognize the value of life—The value of living, and the value of the future being rolled into the value of the moment.

Genesis 3:

4) And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

5) For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

6) And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”

And Then There’s That

Here it comes, here it is, and there it was. Thoughts in retrospect.

cropland duiring night time

Here we sit the day before Thanksgiving, and it will soon be the day of, and the day after, and… In the good old days on the Friday following Thanksgiving I would get my Christmas card list out and—get my cards done. That hasn’t happened for several years now. I’ve not felt good and there’s that.

Quite a few years ago for some reason, it became a tradition for Thanksgiving to be held at our house. My in-laws, would assemble with us, everyone brought something and there were at least three tables for participants.

We never knew exactly how many we would have but usually anywhere between twenty and thirty people showed up.

Through the years things have kaleidoscoped, faces changing from young to old, to new, to gone… some by chance, some by choice. In looking at pictures through the ages of the family together times I wonder.

I wonder for those who left by choice do they ever think back on those days, and if they do think back, is it with peace as to what has been as better or at least as good days? I’m sure it’s just me and my maudlin mulling, wondering about life and whatnot.

4D chess…How to get there…In a hurry…

The Bible begins with, “In the beginning, God…” And we know that God created the heavens and the earth. He had a plan and it has been existing and unfolding for quite some time.

When I was a young person in sixth grade there were two classmates who during the winter every lunch hour played chess, and I admired how smart they were. I had a chess set but didn’t feel that was as challenging as chess.

It probably wasn’t as challenging, but it may have been more my fault than the game’s. Chess is a challenging game and in recent years there is a new layer to chess called 4D chess. I don’t know the rules to that or how it is played. But I do know chess itself is a game of strategy. The players use well-thought-out plans purposes in their game—unless they are like me.

“I don’t think outside the box. I don’t think inside the box either. I’m still trying to find the box.” So the meme says, and I can attest to that. As I’ve discovered years ago, “If there’s a hard way to do something, I’ll find it…” So many sayings, so little time.

In the writing society, there are generally two main types. One type of writer is known as the “Planster” and the other is known as the “Panster.” The first type outlines and plans out their novel the second sits down and writes “by the seat of their pants.”

Going through self-help courses has been a self-help, but I have discovered that no matter how I try, I’ll never be a planner. When I write a novel I’m often just as surprised by where it takes us as the reader when they read.

Life has a way of imitating art so to speak. I’ve been a planner always working to plot out and be in control of my life. Alas, God has more than once shown me that His plans don’t always match mine.

From the very first when I was going to wait two years to start our family of two children, one boy, and one girl… Yes, it has been an interesting ride, and although not all of it has been pleasant, the main things I wouldn’t change or take a million dollars for.

But how did we get here? We were always in such a hurry, such a rush, but my mind is still working to understand where here is and what it means to be here. I’ve recently asked people who matter, do you trust us?

Is life a gamble like a crap shoot? The winner takes all, and the loser just loses? God has a plan, and as he’s shown me throughout my life, my plans aren’t always his plans. I can attest that I’ve lost control of more than just the weather. The same question comes to me, do I trust God?

As I look around I feel as if I’m playing 4D chess, I don’t know the rules, and I’ve got a blindfold. Life has been a constant struggle like a salmon swimming upstream trying to get back to where it came from—to get home.

It is easy to say loudly and proudly yes, I trust God, as long as we’re walking in the broad sunlight valley, but not so easy in the mountain crags.

Psalms 82:

“1 A Psalm of Asaph. God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.

3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.

6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.”

Shooting for Tomorrow

Let’s talk…

small airplane on airfield in countryside against sundown sky

Conversation is important. Words are important… but wait a minute. I know people who can talk for a long time, they use a lot of words and actually say nothing.

It does remind me of Young Fuzzy’s last piano teacher’s admonition. “Perfect practice makes perfect.” You can practice something over and over again, but unless you practice it correctly it has only been an act of futility.

Today I’ve watched the news and notes. I came across two items that caught my fancy. One of the first was a speaker who had nine tips on life that he wanted to share. Some of them I found worth passing on, or a form of them.

His first tip is do not pursue a dream, or your dream unless you are passionate about that dream. In some instances, young people think they know what they want to do only to discover once they set their feet on that path that maybe it wasn’t what they wanted after all. Or, don’t get so caught up in following a dream that you lose sight of other things.

A person I knew was very sure she wanted to pursue an accounting degree because she thought that was where the money was. After a short time, she changed her mind because being shut up with books and finances wasn’t something she wanted to sell her soul for the rest of her life. She became a teacher.

I knew another young woman who set out to be a teacher but found she did have a propensity for books and numbers. She became an accountant. Yet in both of these instances, neither person found the end of their dream in a career.

Number two tip? Don’t seek for happiness. Finding joy isn’t something you will have a formula for.  Happiness isn’t in something you eat or something you wear. It isn’t found in a vacation spot or another person. Without inner peace, you won’t find happiness.

Other things mentioned were, take care of yourself, eat healthy and exercise. Examine your opinions/beliefs, and be true and truthful. Define yourself by what you love. And lastly, how you treat someone less than yourself shows people who you are.

The overall tenure of the speech lacked inspiration due to the underlying theology. The speaker in the above piece referred to life as “long, hard, and tough.” He called it “an exceptionally, meaningless life.”

Without God, a person could look at life hopelessly. And if a person believes there isn’t any real point to existence here—within the eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die people—well, you could fall into that trench.

When people I know view a beautiful sunrise or a sunset, we praise God. We thank the Creator for the beauty and blessings of this life. We thank God for the good that comes our way, and sometimes we are thankful even for the less-than-good that comes our way.

However, there was another piece that caught my eye. It concerned itself with a WWII vet that was 103 years old. As he dressed up to celebrate Veterans’ Day the interviewer asked about his background.

He had been through many trials such as the dust bowl, the Depression, and he had been a pilot and a prisoner of war. After the war he suffered from depression for a time when he was in the hospital enduring painful back problems. A small gift from a nurse, an origami bird of paradise figure saved his life.

That gift caused a shift in his attitude from pessimistic to optimistic. After some surgery and recovery, he married, lived his life, and carried on. In summarizing his life he said there were three sections. The first goal was getting used to life. After you pass that hurdle a person had to learn to enjoy life and the third stage was to celebrate life.

So, there you have it. When this distinguished older man was asked at the end of the interview, “What are you shooting for, Art?” He laughed and answered, “Tomorrow.”

Ecclesiastes “8:11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:”

Ecclesiastes “12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

Taking and Giving

forest at night

10) … and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

The beginning of the week brings new challenges… and opportunities. We’ve had some very nice weather the last week. We still need rain. I’m reminded of the Proverb “All sunshine and no rain makes a desert.”

So often we read or hear certain scriptures that when we think of a book or prophet that’s the only thing we remember. As if a prophet is a one-verse speaker. Malachi is an interesting book in the Minor Prophets and when I think of Malachi his one-phrase speech is in conjunction with these cross-references to “This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.” to signify John the Baptizer’s coming and preparing the way for Jesus. Matthew_11:10, Mark_1:2, Luke_7:27.

(Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”)

But wait there is more to Malachi. When we were in Tennessee, some of the folk, when they were receiving rain in the right amount at the right time would say, “We’re paying the preacher.” Meaning of course that the preacher was getting a good wage and God was pleased with his people for taking care of the preacher.

Malachi “3:

“6) For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

7) Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?

8) Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

9) Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

10) Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

Will a man rob God?

“But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” And there you have it, but…

We also know that we can’t give God anything that he needs. As the Psalmist says: Psalms 50:10 “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. 11) I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.12) If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.”

God sets the standard—the standard of good and evil, right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable. We are told God loves a cheerful giver. I don’t know why, but we are happier when we give cheerfully. We are also instructed to make sure we pay those who have worked for us. To pay them willingly and not keep back their wages.

Those who are stingy and miserly are a curse to themselves and to others around them. It isn’t quite time for the reading of A Christmas Carrol, but Dickens’ classic tale illustrates the difference a willing and liberal heart makes in our lives.

“Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.”

(Psalms 50:14-17)


woman carrying baby at beach during sunset

Matthew “6:27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

“As we all breakfasted together on the morning of 24, March 1943, I could have no idea of the shadows that were already reaching out towards my two light-hearted passengers.” Hugh Verity, We Landed by Moonlight~

Research—I tend to enjoy much of the reading that goes with research. The distinguished Hugh Verity was a decorated pilot who, as the title of his book says, was a part of the RAF that helped land agents in the French resistance movement by moonlight during World War II.

There was research for each one of my first three books (the Ebenezer series), such as research behind (beginning date on June 10, 1987, for the first book, If I Should Die) the weather, clothing styles, music, technology for phones and computers, cars and many different aspects we don’t normally think about.

At this time I’m working on a new book set in the 1930s through 1957. As I work in the era of what we call “The Great Depression”, I’m amazed at the depth and quality of life and death.

The late 1800s and on through the 1900s exploded with inventions from the automobile to airplanes and trains. As one gospel preacher, Marshal Keeble, put it, From Mule Back to Super Jet with the Gospel.

The thoughts here aren’t about research they are about legacy. Legacy has an edge of memories to it. As someone said in an earlier post, “we exist as long as we are remembered.”

But legacy is more than memory. A legacy is something left behind to others—sometimes by someone who is/was known to them but not always. A legacy can be good or bad, beneficial or a hindrance.

There is a term for the WWII generation that gave so much, not just for our country, but for the freedoms the entire world has enjoyed since. They are known as “The Greatest Generation.”

They have given us the benefits of their sacrifices—a legacy. As I work through the research for my next novel, “Gene’s Story: Tears In His Bottle” there are so many nuances, and although the tough grit and determination of those men and women have been so outstanding…

As someone stated, it’s the parents of that generation who ought to be applauded. The generation that went before the greatest generation were the ones that suffered as adults through the depression era and the dust bowl era, the horror and struggle of raising their families.

Some didn’t make it. They walked out on their families, but many did hold the course. They went from the roaring twenties into the fire of the thirties, forging the generation that fought in WWII in the forties.

Legacies begin before they are inherited. When you ponder the idea that God put you where you are for such a time as this, and there are no coincidences, we ought to wonder.

I am past the point of contemplating on my life’s purpose. As quoted by Corrie Ten Boom, “Don’t bother to give God instructions, just report for duty.” I watch nature and after many years I’ve decided the sun doesn’t ask, why do I exist? and animals don’t wonder what their job is. The birds and bees don’t fret about any of those things either. They just report for duty.

So, what’s the legacy of all of this? The scriptures tell us all sorts of advice. The first necessity is to know God (and be known by God). The last is to trust God.

Jeremiah 9:

“23 Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:

24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.”

Matthew 6:

“27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34 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.”

As the two “light-hearted passengers” that Hugh Verity referenced in the first paragraph, didn’t know the horrors that were to come—none of us know what shadows, good or evil, are reaching toward us. However, it is important to be ready, to be prepared.

Matthew “6: 34 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.”

Many Are Broken

backlit cemetery christianity clouds

“Here’s to lookin’ at you, kid.”

When people look in the mirror they often see what they’re looking for. Are they looking at what they think is perfect or are they looking for something that needs to be corrected?

I learned many things in my young life. One thing that has been beneficial was learning not to take myself too seriously. Since I was the youngest in my family I ended up the back side of a number of jokes.

I admit that if I couldn’t find a dumb way to do something there wasn’t a dumb way to do it. For many years I had an inferiority complex due to being the object of jokes such as “When God was passing out brains you thought he said trains, and since you weren’t going anywhere you didn’t get any.”

Well, it is kind of funny, but it does present a difficulty in getting over such logic. Yet, the ability to laugh at yourself is a commodity that is lacking in society today. And too many people, especially young people are way too wound up in themselves and their safe space.

A few months ago I read a reply a famous person made to someone trying to control who he affiliated with. The critic said to the man, “If you’re working with Prager U, I won’t have anything to do with you. You’ve lost all my respect.” I believe it was written to Mike Rowe, and he replied, “Dear, *** since I don’t know you, what makes you think I value your respect?”

A good question indeed, he wasn’t running for any office, and even at that, we should choose whose values we support. Back in the late 1980s, Phil Gramm was a congressman from Texas. He ran as a Democrat and won his seat, but sometime into his term, he realized the party had left him behind. They no longer represented his values. He went back home, explained to his constituents what had happened, and ran again as a Republican and won again.

Later in the year, he had a communication with his mother. “I have some good news and some bad,” he said. “They were thinking of putting my face on a postal stamp.” (Just a note here, this was before they had come out with the self-stick stamp.) “—They decided against it due to the number of people who would be spitting at it and pounding on the front.”

That was my remembrance of the exchange but not being able to find the quote, it may not have been his exact words. I remember it as very funny in his speech. The point of which was don’t take yourself too seriously.

Matthew 22:

“11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:

12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

It is my understanding that the host provided the wedding garment. All the guest needed to do was put it on. No wonder the guest was speechless, and no wonder the host was offended. How rude. “Many are called but few are chosen.” In this case, he was called but didn’t choose to be chosen.

Matthew 20:

“14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.

15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.”

In this case as well, many are called but few are chosen. The workers in this instance aren’t content with their wages compared to those who worked a short time and received the same amount. Well, as the landowner says, it’s my money and you agreed to work for…

In the military, boot camp and the time spent therein is designed to ‘break’ a new recruit in order to remold them into what the military needs. In that sense, many are called and all are broken—and remolded.

And there you have it. We are all called for salvation, but it is up to us to accept the challenge to be chosen.

The Last Sunset

silhouette photo of person riding on horse under twilight sky

“I’m always busy.” And that’s true, but …

Here we are, the days are growing colder, and the year is drawing toward its end. Outside trees are losing their leaves, and leaves are letting go of their branches. I told someone lately “I’m always busy.” And that’s true, but as someone else opined once, as I get older it doesn’t take as much to keep me busy.

I will write a thought then sit and think over it and ponder on the next thought I’m thinking. It’s a real cycle.

No, unless I’m researching, I don’t read more than one book at a time. Each book deserves its own place in the sun and it is disrespectful to try to read two at once. That is my opinion on that. I sit down and read one book then I read the next. Or I would, but I don’t read two books in close proximity, mostly because my eyes give me grief.

I watched a documentary concerning people who have been influenced poorly by current medical practices. The point isn’t what they were damaged by, or how they became disabled.

The point is that these people had been active, vibrant contributors to the workforce and to other people’s lives only to find themselves slammed against a wall and suddenly disabled to the point of old age at a young age.

Psalms 37:25 “I have been young, and now am old;”

And there you have it. We don’t all enjoy a long, youthful life, even when we “Have the world by the tail on a downhill slide.” As my grandmother used to describe children’s lives, too often we don’t appreciate it.

And no matter how often we’re told to appreciate what we have—and no matter how often we smile and nod our head, we don’t really understand what we have until we don’t.

A short time ago I was reading an article about “Jimmy Dean” the country singer and sausage maker. The person writing the article described reading about how “Dean lived in semi-retirement with his wife, who is a songwriter and recording artist, on their 200-acre estate just outside of Richmond, where he enjoyed investing, boating and watching the sun set over the James River.”

The woman writing the piece explained why she had taken up reading the obituaries. She had done so after her mother passed away a few years prior. “Perhaps I read the obituaries because I believe that we exist as long as we are remembered. But how do we want to be remembered?” She wrote and you can hear a sigh in the words.

Apparently, her mother didn’t have the option to enjoy watching the sunsets. In her closing paragraph Stephanie Gertler (I do hope I got that name spelled correctly) asks some questions. I will leave it to my reader to determine if they are relevant.

“I wonder what my mother would have written in her own obit to capture her essence.
I wish that my mother could have spent evenings watching sunsets in her “golden years” rather than spending five years tarnished by illness and true confinement. I wonder when it was that Jimmy Dean unknowingly watched his last sunset over the river. I’m guessing it was probably better if he didn’t know that it was his last one.”

She has said more than what she wrote in those last few lines and left several unanswered questions. I hope she got to spend some of those years lifting at least a bit of the tarnish from her mother’s life.

It isn’t always easy and life situations can be tricky. Back in the day, my Adorable cousin visited her mother in the nursing home daily, taking her doughnuts. After driving her route, Adorable would grab some pastries and swing by for her visit. My aunt no longer recognized people, and so she labeled Adorable (her own daughter) the doughnut lady.

In my own day, my husband and our family would on a Sunday after church take a crockpot meal to my grandparents’ house in the afternoon. We would eat with them, and I would clean up the dishes. Until my grandma became mentally unable, we would play Canasta with them.

At one point grandma didn’t know me… but she liked me whoever I was. That was important to me.

But how do we want to be remembered? Indeed, what would each of us write as our obituary? What is our essence? Would we write something like, “(he) she lived, laughed, and loved—This person was a hero, was courageous, took time for other people, was selfish, stingy and whiney?”

How we are remembered takes place most often before the sunset years. How we are remembered is built on the foundation of how we treated others and how we lived our lives. Take time to walk with others. Sit with them and listen to both younger and older people.

“I wonder when it was that Jimmy Dean unknowingly watched his last sunset over the river.”

There are a few times when we can know something is our last time. If we come to retirement we can know this is the last time we will do thus and so, but for most of our lives that will not be true.

Generally speaking, we will not know, this is our last sunset, our last sunrise, our last hug, our last kiss—our last farewell.

I’m sitting at the close of this day. I have an hour and twenty minutes before the scheduled sunset for today. We finished cleaning our chimney and lit our fire for the evening and probably for the weekend. We had a freeze a week ago and the garden is now winding down.

Our year is winding down—six weeks until Thanksgiving, ten weeks until Christmas, and eleven weeks until New Year. Five hours and thirty-five minutes until tomorrow.

In the back corner of my office, it looks like I’m becoming Miss Havisham. I’ve got a serious spider web building there. It’s so fine and light, only during certain times of the day can it be seen. I have a dust mop that at some time on someday I intend to wipe it away and clean the corner out. I don’t know when someday will come.

Our lives here on this earth are like that delicate web.

Ecclesiastes 3:

1) “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 

2) A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3) A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4) A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5) A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6) A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7) A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8) A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

Holding the Pen

silhouette photo of person standing in neon lit hallway

Considering all the different nuances of a situation is necessary to make a right judgment.

Faceless and baseless—People say the strangest things. Sometimes what they say is true—sometimes it isn’t. The amount of vitriol doesn’t even have to match the amount of truth behind the words. I have a frequent person I read. His daily short thoughts come regularly into my inbox. Recently I came across a post he made entitled The Beef Tax.

In his not long, but longer than normal rant he asserted “We all pay this beef tax and it makes our beef expensive and much more…” It took him seven paragraphs to vent on the horrible nature of beef and its influence.

I try to tie my post to something spiritual. Sadly, sometimes the spiritual point is missed so before I finish—almost at the beginning—I’m going to put out here several takeaways.

First off, I’m not an expert in many things, and I wouldn’t try to give my expert opinion in any area in which I have no knowledge. I couldn’t tell you, for instance, the relationship between our taxes and Lockheed Martin or Haliburton, or… You see what I mean, and I wouldn’t spout off stuff just because I see or hear it in the news. Being truthful and accurate is necessary.

Ephesians 4:15 “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.”

The beef tax article has nothing to do with truth and is certainly not speaking the truth. A second issue here is an honesty issue. It goes with the only line in his diatribe on the beef tax that I agreed with. “What would happen if we simply charged a fair price for the beef and milk that people consume?” (Or paid a fair price for these items? We could dream.)

James 5:4 “Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.”

People should be paid a fair price for their commodity, whether it be their time or labor.

There are two primary issues in mister unhappy beef-tax person’s rant. The first is addressed in the valuable question, “What would happen if we paid farmers a fair price for their beef and milk?”

A few years back I came across an article in a farm magazine, obviously not from an actual farmer, about how “farmers were just raking in the money taking advantage of all those government handouts.” My fuse was lit and I had words. I started out to write a rebuttal, but as usual, it got lost in the shuffle.

Here is part of that answer. Farming is the only business I know of where we are told in the springtime how much our inputs (such as seed, fertilizer, crop necessaries, fuel, and equipment) will cost us. Then at harvest time, we are told how much we will be paid for our crop—regardless.

We are told how much it will cost to put the crop in, then when we are ready to sell the crop we are told how much they will give us for the crop—and it doesn’t make any difference whether the end price will cover the beginning price. No one says, what’s a fair price for the farmer?

It doesn’t make any difference if our bills are paid, or our family is fed or clothed, or any such thing. Yes, people do ask, “then why do you continue to farm?”

Why indeed? There is a saying “If you ate today thank a farmer (and in many cases a truck driver). If you ate in peace thank a soldier…”

My beef tax article writer goes on to say that “U.S. taxpayers subsidize the cattle industry with billions of dollars… most goes to pay for feed crops and land allocation (to graze cattle)…”

There are programs that some farmers, who are willing to sell their souls to the government can sign up for and receive benefits. But that’s not every farmer, and does this mean farmers are raking in government handouts, and U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing the cattle industry? No, those are specific programs and not all farmers take part in those programs. Most of those programs are an attempt to keep farmers in line to do what the government wants them to do.

At one time some programs were designed and instituted to prevent farmers from going bankrupt. Now it’s evolved into the carrot and the stick. However, it’s not just in the government’s best interest to have farmers not go bankrupt and for them to provide food. Most people appreciate being able to go to the store and find food for their families.

Contrary to what the Beef Tax article says, farmers raise many crops. There is a long list—corn, soybeans, alfalfa, wheat, rye, other small grains, fruit, and nuts and although some crops do feed cows, this list shows much more than cows are fed.

An article from a few years back stated that farmers were becoming so efficient at running their farms; many also worked at off-farm jobs, increasing their raking in the money. The article missed the real point.

The point was that their farming operation was barely paying for the farming operation itself (prices hovering at cost of production) therefore not only did the farmer work a full-time job on the farm, often a ten-hour plus day, but then they worked off the farm to pay their living expenses.

In retrospect, it’s easy to point a finger and throw out accusations but that doesn’t make it true and there is not a beef tax making people’s beef more expensive. We don’t need that sort of division in a time when too many people are suspicious of others. At a time when inflation is eating up what little wages people take home from their jobs.

This is a snippet of the rebuttal and the warning that goes along with it. In the next post, I will address the second part of the issue.

A further admonition is found in the book of James.

James 5:7 “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

8) Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. 

9) Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. 

10) Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. 

11) Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.  12) But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.”

Living By Memes and Clever Sayings

serious trendy senior ethnic man recreating on embankment and admiring sea

“However often you deny the truth, it goes on existing.” George Orwell

So there you have that, and:

“Time is like a river. You cannot touch the same water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of your life.”

Every day there are a number of these sayings that appear on my feed, and many of them are at least clever and some of them are a bit more. I agree with most of the gist of the words, but not all the sentiments with all of them. Here are a few things we see taught today. There is some truth or value to all of these:

“Listen to your heart”

“Be true to yourself”

“trust your gut”

“Feel good about who you are”

“Happiness is what matters”

“just be a good person”

But they are only so good and go only so far. For instance, happiness matters, but isn’t all that matters. Feeling good about who you are… well, that only goes so far if you are truly doing what’s good and right, and being a good person.

There is the flip that says, “If you don’t like the path before you, or the way you’ve come, get off of that path. Do something different—make things better.”

Alternative universe, anyone? On occasion, people ask me, or sometimes they just assume, that I believe certain things. In my family, I’ve been attributed views that I may or may not believe, and it’s assumed that it bothers me if others don’t ascribe to those views.

I do not like swearing or immodesty. That is true and it won’t take much of either to get my ire up. Two years ago I was getting my hair washed and was asked by the stylist what I would think if she got her hair dyed blue—or some such color.

I didn’t have an explosive reaction. I have seven children and you know how that can work out. However, my reaction must have not been what she anticipated. She was probably looking for a shock value and didn’t get it here.

 “And he said unto all, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23 (ASV)

 In my early years, I began with the conundrum of what does God want me to be? That has been my focus. There are many aspects and I didn’t concentrate on only one thing. I asked myself, “If God were designing a woman, what would he want her to reflect? To look and act like? If God were designing a home, a parent, and so forth. How and what would that look like?”

I’m saddened when I see fellow Christians making excuses as to why they are exempt from following God’s plan, some clear-cut scriptures. I understand that the term “fellow Christians” doesn’t include those who don’t follow God’s plan of salvation. They haven’t made the first steps. Yet, in a sense, being obedient to the first steps in the plan of salvation although very necessary, if one is not following God’s plan for the rest of your life (and trying to excuse yourself for it) is that not similar to not following the initial plan of salvation?

And when I share that I’m saddened by the lack of follow through with so many people I wonder what God’s view will be. Some have taken secret delight that they assumed their actions caused me anger.

Oddly enough, just as the question on the blue hair didn’t throw a wrench in my work, other people making bad decisions might make me sad, but I’m not attempting to control someone else.

They aren’t going against me (I’m not God), but they are thumbing their nose at their creator. We all are asking for mercy and grace in this realm. The Apostle Paul likens this world and the Christian life to that of running a race—doing our best, throwing off any interference or weight while running that race.

But we all have blue hair sometimes. Perhaps not literally, but sometimes instead of a race, it’s more like a mud fight. We’re doing the best we can, but like wrestling in the mud, things get messy, or downright ugly. And it’s hard to sort things out.

“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12

Not that I believe we can ‘work our own salvation out,’ in the sense that some people believe. I do believe we must live our own lives, the best we can, and we are all governed by the same scriptures. And that in the last day will judge us, not our feelings, or our wants and wishes.

Listening to a clip from an interview with Caitlin Jenner, he describes how it was such a difficult decision and he had such a discussion with his pastor and so forth. How he’s tried hard and had good intentions and in the end he just hopes that when he gets to the pearly gates he’s told to come on in…

However, as the person who was commenting on the clip summed it up, “Good intentions won’t save us.

Ecclesiastes 11:8  “Yea, if a man live many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity. 9)  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 thy heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.

10)  Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh; for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.”