In a world full of communication devices, one of our biggest enemies is lostness.
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)
And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey. (Joshua 24:24)
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)
There are none so blind as those who will not see—
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)
“He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock…” Luke 6:48
“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)
Wise people and wise parents take the good things they learn from their upbringing and put it with the good they learn in life …
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.
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)
“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)
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)
“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.”
The idea of busy—busy doesn’t have to do with profit and/or money.
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)
“If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
Finding meaning in a meaningless world. A week ago Old Fuzzy and I had a moment. No, not a senior moment, we have those throughout the days and weeks. No, we were having a normal morning if such can be said about us. He was getting ready to go out to do chores, and I was preparing to send a message on the computer.
I had turned from the computer, to finish our conversation. I still had my message to be sent on the computer and I was about ready to send it. When we finished our communication Old Fuzzy left the office and went to the kitchen and I turned back to the computer.
I was a bit confused because my screen was not just blank, but black and lifeless. Just a few seconds before it had a message that was three-fourths of the way to being sent. Well, I thought that is strange…
And it was strange. Part of the electricity in the house was working and part wasn’t. At least there was that, but that isn’t good, really. Of course, the source got tracked down and eventually fixed. But in the bit of time when we were without power my mind indulged in ‘what if’ thoughts.
The Bible speaks of the coming troublesome times.
“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am the Christ; and shall lead many astray. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for these things must needs come to pass; but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and earthquakes in divers places. But all these things are the beginning of travail.”(Matthew 24:5-8)
Indeed, there have been all of these things since Jesus ascended to heaven. Beginning in A.D. 70 with the tribulation and siege of Jerusalem, many wars and rumors of wars, earth quakes, famines, and nations against nations—these have all happened and still happen.
Yet, here we are in the year of our Lord, 2023. Last year the news suggested at the beginning of summer in 2022 that we could possibly be facing rolling blackouts if the weather careened out of control and air conditioners would overload the electric grid.
Rolling blackouts? In our great nation, and in the Midwest of all places? Impossible thoughts. We never experienced them in 2022 or yet in this year. I’m not sure why. Was it because the weather didn’t careen out of control, or perhaps people adjusted their air conditioners a bit, or who knows? It didn’t happen thankfully.
For years we’ve heard of ‘conspiracy theories’, and many people joke about them. Now most of the theories have come out as bona fide, and when new ones come out we often wonder how soon those will become fact as well. Oddly enough, instead of calling them ‘conspiracy theory nuts’, they are now calling them “Truthers.” I don’t know, just reporting.
Electric magnetic pulse or they call them EMP for short. Our electric problem the other morning was the trigger or the what-if moment. The moment when you realize how fragile and precious life is.
We have also heard stories about preppers, and how we ought to be prepared should the unthinkable happen and our electric grid does go down. I think some people would like to have that come about. I see two types at least who would look with favor on such a happening.
One is the people who sit at the top. In our circle we call them the elites. These are folks who in their own estimation are smarter than the rest of us ordinary joes. They are somewhat ‘full of themselves’, and apparently they believe there would be an opportunity for them to wield more power over the poor joes of the world.
The second type of people are the ordinary joes who are already tired of the elites who view themselves as better than the rest of the world. The ordinary joes who want to live their lives without interference from meddling elites. And they view life as too complex and too demanding. They would like to have some time to live the life they have been blessed with.
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)
Far from the meddling crowd. That’s where most simple people want to be. Far from the elites that fly around in their expensive private planes telling others to have nothing and be happy.
What does it take to be happy? That’s an interesting question, but the answer is really quite simple… contentment.
“If any man teacheth a different doctrine, and consenteth not to sound words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is puffed up, knowing nothing, but doting about questionings and disputes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, wranglings of men corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth, supposing that godliness is a way of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain:” (1 Timothy 6:3-6)
In my estimation, a simple life is harder—Physically with more sweat of the brow, but it is also more enjoyable. In listening to a snippet of a Ben Shapiro broadcast he had a very brief interview with Patrick Bet David.
The latter man was talking about an interview he did with a very rich man. The rich man told PBD that in our society he was afraid to get married. It was too risky.
“Behold, this have I found, saith the Preacher, laying one thing to another, to find out the account; which my soul still seeketh, but I have not found: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found. Behold, this only have I found: that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.” (Ecclesiastes 7:27-29)
There are many of both sexes who are untrustworthy, male and female. Men that abandon their families can be found just as women who are entitled and or gold-diggers. People opine about the days when couples married with the idea of ‘until death do us part.’
Yet Patrick Bet David’s answer to the person he was interviewing was spot on. He replied to the man: “Men want to live forever, and the only way to get a glimpse of that is by what you build. You build things, you have kids, you raise them properly, and they continue your last name through them. You write books, make music, make movies—you build things. You make something that outlives you.”
Finding meaning in a meaningless world is impossible if you remove God from the equation. Too many humans are missing the news that we will live forever.
Some have rejected the idea of eternal life altogether or adopted the false narrative that no matter who dies and no matter how they lived, no matter if they believed in God—no matter what, we are all going to end up in heaven when we die. Except for the really bad people…
Because of the Devil whispering the lie, “We’re all going to the same place, just taking different paths.” That lie opens the door for all the other lies that lead people to destruction. The Truth that Jesus said (more than once):
“If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
“Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
“For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose or forfeit his own self? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in his own glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:24-26)
“Over the past couple of years, as time sped forward, all of his journeys abroad just seemed to draw his heart closer to home. The only problem was, he could never really go home—”
Excerpt from “If I Should Die” Book one Ebenezer series Donevy Westphal
The day before I remembered, but in the morning as I called my daughter, I had forgotten. At my age, this happens often… Who am I kidding? If I’m being really honest, that has been how I’ve been all of my life.
I think, “Next week is so-and-so’s- birthday”—and I may even do a countdown. Three days left, two days, and tomorrow… only to forget on the very day of the event. I wish it weren’t so but that is the way my brain works.
So, the day of my daughter’s birthday, as Old Fuzzy hollars at her “Happy Birthday” I remember the day and twenty-nine plus years ago. It was a hot July day, sweltering, with no air conditioning. Old Fuzzy (back then he was a much younger old fuzzy) and I were putting up garden produce.
I was grating and freezing zucchini. I had been busily busy that day until a little afternoon when I decided I was tired and feeling out of sorts. At that stage in the pregnancy, I went and lay down.
We had some non-Christian friends whose oldest daughter had offered to stay with our three boys when we went to the hospital. At about eleven that evening, Bonnie brought Penelopy over, and old/young Fuzzy and I left for the hospital at 11:30. Our daughter was born exactly at midnight.
After the tussle the nurse and I had over me using the bathroom or the bedpan, I had just gotten back into bed when the nurse came in with a dilemma. The baby won’t go to sleep in her bassinet…
I told her that baby had been part of my body for nine months and she was welcome to sleep on my stomach. So, they brought her in and she fell asleep listening to my heartbeat. She’s still there—in my heart.
In my heart—I believe one of the greatest gifts we have given our children is each other. I grew up alone with a sister six years older than me. A sister that I idolized, but she was gone before I understood what we were about. And the connection got lost through the years.
My cousin, Coco was closer to me than a sister (she was only a year older than me) but my aunt remarried and snatched Coco away. I had other cousins who were close, but usually only during summer times and life goes on for all of us.
No one knows what the future holds and I do pray my children will always be able to relish their family ties. Even as we all grow older and time washes away memories, may the good we have known remain.
“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that doth not take his cross and follow after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39)
If we love God more than “all of these”, we will love all of these more.
“People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” ~ D. A. Carson
It is only too easy to convince ourselves that we are gaining holiness when we are in reality only drifting away from it. I don’t know why that is. It could be that as we grow older the fight doesn’t get harder, it is just more difficult to fight. Therefore we slide into telling ourselves little consolations, that are kind of like little untruths.
“And moreover I saw under the sun, in the place of justice, that wickedness was there; and in the place of righteousness, that wickedness was there. I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.” (Ecclesiastes 3:16-17)
“Wherefore I saw that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him back to see what shall be after him?” (Ecclesiastes 3:22)
“Evening, and morning, and at noonday, will I complain, and moan; And he will hear my voice.” (Psalms 55:17)
“The days are long but the weeks go quickly.” My Grandfather used to say this, and I’ve heard several people repeat the idea.
Higgly Piggly—hodge podge—at times thoughts run through my mind and it’s difficult to tie them down. I do like to laugh but there are days when it is easier to moan and complain. Maybe I’m stiff and morning has come earlier than I wanted, or maybe it is just one of those days. And I’ve found the perfect scripture for when people tell me to hush up and stop my moaning and complaining… Of course, we don’t want to moan or complain as the Israelites did in their wanderings.
A few years ago a person was commenting that they had put up a heavy-duty fence around their sweet corn to keep the raccoons from destroying their sweet corn crop. However, that night the commotion could be heard in their house as the fiendish animals climbed all the way up and over the electric fence, made a mess in the corn patch, and then the same howling came back as they crawled up, over and out of the patch.
How do the rascals always know when it’s time to harvest? But embarrassingly, when I arise in the morning I have begun sounding like the foolish critters climbing the fence—moaning and complaining.
A few weeks ago I read a snippet from Seth Godin in which he was expounding on the futility of our ways of doing things. Using the example of speed bicycle racing—
“Someone in 1933 won a speed bicycle race with a recumbent bicycle and UCI became concerned… In 1933, a twenty-year-old speed record was broken by a racer on a recumbent bike. Concerned, the leading manufacturers of upright bikes went to the UCI and persuaded them to ban recumbent bikes from competition.”
And so he concluded that “Little decisions compound and then (the little decisions) anchor systems. And once those decisions become entrenched, Our commitment to defending sunk costs keeps those systems long after they’re no longer serving a purpose.
Which can lead to all sorts of ideas, traditions, or strange habits such as the belief that “to cut off dog’s tails is somehow more healthy”.” (Seth Godin~)
At this point, we might begin to feel like George Carlin when he wrote: “Some people have no idea what they are doing, and a lot of them are really good at it.” George Carlin
I’m sitting at my computer this morning as what I assume are spray planes and spray helicopters are buzzing and flying back and forth. In a normal world, I would think of them in terms of farming and crops.
However, I have been known to view things on a different level. It’s called being in writing mode, or where do you get ideas for your stories?
For instance, I could put it in a future story file that starts somewhat like… “I hope they aren’t looking for me, and why would our powers that be care what a seventy-year-old woman is thinking or saying on her social media or personal communications? As a youth I was taught that honesty was the best policy, but in today’s world—not so much. And sadly that’s how I learned not to stay in one place for longer than two days in case they are looking for me…”
Writers do have a different way of taking a path, yet it begs the question, who’s writing your story?
According to Robert Frost, who wrote “The Road Not Taken.” There are many different paths a person can take. We must be careful that we don’t follow the meme that says “Sometimes it’s hard to hear what the Lord is saying to us when we already have in our mind what we want him to say.”
The Paths We Take~
When you look at the way before you or when you look behind you, what do you see? Do we ever look either way, do we ever see? I’m guilty of deciding too quickly what path I should be aiming for. Keeping my choices as Godly as possible helps me not go off the curb, and there’s a blessing in that.
I gleaned several thoughts from a Facebook post. I believe the author was Donna Ashworth written to her daughter. I pared it down to just six of the twenty-three she listed:
1. It’s okay to cry when you’re hurt. But, wash your face, and get up off the floor when you’re done. You don’t belong down there.
7. If you can’t smile with your eyes, don’t smile. Insincerity is nothing to aspire to.
10. If you have an opinion, you’d better know why.
17. Question everything … except your own intuition.
19. No matter where you are, you can always come home.
20. Be happy and remember your roots.
Most of these are self-evident. Beginning with number one, men women, young and old, we all have those days when we hit bottom, and no matter what our actions are when we vent and ‘cry’, after it’s over, get up, pick yourself up, get your life in order. A setback should not be permanent.
Number seven, be honest. Be sincere. Numbers ten and seventeen go together, I would say question everything, even your intuition. Figure out why you believe what you believe and don’t count your intuition out, it can be a second reason you believe and have your opinion.
Number nineteen, I pray for each of us that we always have a home we can go home to. And it’s important for each of us to treasure our home that we can go home to. And that goes along with number twenty—contentment. If you know who you are and where you’ve come from always retain your balance. Don’t get out of your element.
As the Apostle Paul wrote/said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not found vain;” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
We are all what we are, but not all of us are where we should be according to God’s grace. We should be striving to be the finished product God is designing. We are all traveling the road to go home—one way or another. What is difficult is to let go of us and let God work.
“And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. But when he came to himself he said, How many hired servants of my father have bread enough and to spare, and I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight: I am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But while he was yet afar off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:16-20)