We Are At War

June 13, 2016

soldierThere’s a new kind of war going on in this world. The battleground for this new warfare isn’t somewhere the military ships you off to. No, the battlefield has come to us – into our living rooms, offices, and schools – via instruments of communication, the news media and the Internet.

The soldiers who take up arms in this conflict are commanded by generals and officers utilizing these communication systems for their own twisted ends. They are depraved individuals who have lost their humanity. They enlist hurt people, because they know that hurt people will certainly hurt people.

These wicked leaders don’t even need to know who their followers are. All they have to do is exploit modern communications to spread their sick ideology. They know their words are seeds which will be planted and grown in the hearts of hurt people … until they bear horrific fruit.

As I write tonight, dozens of Orlando people are fighting to survive and recover after becoming victims of a foot soldier in this new war. Some of them may be scarred and debilitated for life. Hundreds of people throughout our nation mourn the loss of family and loved ones who were killed today. Millions throughout the world are shocked and horrified in the wake of hate’s destruction.

Then again, I can’t help but wonder if we’re becoming numbed and hardened by all the bloodshed of this new conflict buzzing on sound waves and binary digits. Maybe that’s part of the generals’ strategy. Keep shocking us, and let the airwaves take care of keeping us distracted enough so we’ll be lulled into inaction … until we too, lose our humanity. It’s far easier to take command and control of a bunch of ignorant, distracted animals than it is to overtake sound-minded people of wisdom.

Animals react. Sound-minded thinking individuals take action.

So what are we to do? Answer in kind, like an animal? Or take the higher road of the Golden Rule? For younger readers, I apologize on behalf of our nation that we haven’t been teaching you this invaluable life principle. Too many of you have been coddled or neglected by your parents who never learned the golden rule. In school you’re told that everything you do is great. Too often you are not held up to a high standard of excellence, character, and accountability. Shame on us.

So here’s the Golden Rule: “Treat others like you want to be treated.” Not like they treat you. That’s reactionary living, and you have enough brains in your head to be able to live on a higher level than the animals. It’s not easy to follow this rule all the time, because sometimes people do such stupid things you just want to slap them. Well, if you wouldn’t want someone to slap you, then don’t slap anyone else. Living by this rule would sure solve a lot of this world’s problems, don’t you think?

Like I said, it’s not easy to follow the Golden Rule. We all fail miserably from time to time while trying to adhere to it. Yet it takes failing, picking ourselves up, and learning from our failures so we won’t repeat them. This is called building character.

People with character are determined and strong individuals, because they strive to do unto others as they would have others do unto them. Every time they fail at this, they recognize their wrong, try to make amends, learn from the ordeal, and become stronger. They won’t listen to the garbage propounded by twisted morons who want to do unto others what was done unto them … and convince other reactionary, animalistic people to do the same. Instead, they will become a part of the solution. They will rise up and become warriors of character and strength in this new battle of the air waves.

All it takes is action upon this principle of truth. Treat others like you want to be treated. Keep trying, failing, and learning, and you will be in the ranks of soldiers fighting for all that is good, against all that is evil.

The Integrity of the Word

March 9, 2016

contractorWe’ve been doing some remodeling, and have been amazed by the difference between what some builders say they will do, and what they actually do. They might say they’ll be here in ten minutes, when in reality it turns out being ten minutes … times four. “First thing in the morning” winds up being any time before noon. A two-week job becomes two months … and counting. When you can’t count on what someone says, words become meaningless.

We recently attended a business conference where a couple speakers did a presentation based on the book, The One Thing, by Gary Keller. One of the overhead slides was jarring. It showed a bouncing ball, with a quote from the book:

“Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls – family, health, friends, integrity – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.”

How many people do you know who regard their integrity with the fragility of glass? These are the individuals who say what they mean, and mean what they say. They show up when they say they will, and they do what they say they will do. Their word is their bond. If they know they’re running late, or something comes up, they call to let you know when they’ll arrive, or to reschedule. They place value on you and your time … and on the integrity of their word. They know that a person can only be trusted as much as you can trust their word.

Unfortunately, too many people are used to being lied to, too many times. Words lose their meaning in daily communications, and we find ourselves being amazed when someone actually comes through on their word. We have succumbed to a subpar way of living, in my opinion. Why trust in words that have no meaning?

I’m thankful I had a father who taught me the meaning of integrity, of saying what you mean, and doing what you say you will do, to the best of your ability. And when you fall short, you accept responsibility without placing blame, and do whatever you can to make it right.

I have been a student of biblical research for nearly 40 years, and have found it unfortunate how many people read the distrust of their own words into the Bible, which I believe is the Word of God. They regard the scriptures with little deference, as if God didn’t say what He meant, or mean what He said. His words become meaningless, in the plethora of opinions and speculation.

I’ve heard it said that God has a purpose for everything He says in the scriptures  – where He says it, why He says it, how He says it, to whom He says it, and when He says it. Just imagine a world where people actually had a specific purpose for everything they said – where they said it, why they said it, how they said it, to whom they said it, and when they said it. What’s more, imagine a world where people stood behind their word, and backed it up with their actions, to the best of their ability. And when they fell short, they’d own up to it, and do their best to make it right.

Perhaps I’m a dreamer, but I’m dreaming of a world where people place value on their words, and live with integrity. I’m dreaming of a world where people read their own integrity into the Word of God … a world where people count on God to be their Provision in all things, including healing in their bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits.

I’ve seen too many times in my own life where God can be counted on … where His Word has integrity. He’s a solid rock, a sure foundation.

I encourage all to read His Word, the Bible, expecting Him to come through on His promises. He will not disappoint.

Covered with the Fingerprints of God

December 24, 2015

I just received a Christmas letter that begs to be shared. So, with my friend’s permission, here is …


Covered with the Fingerprints of God

by Theresa Roby

God’s greatest blessings to you in the power-packed name of Jesus Christ! As I look back over the past year, I am filled with gratitude because I have been abundantly blessed. There have been some trials and some tough times but, all in all, it has been a great year. I am also thankful for my friends and family who have blessed me in many, many ways. Every person who receives this letter is special to me and brings a smile to my face. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.

No two people bless me in the same way. God has put unique gifts, talents, strengths, and abilities in each person. God has gifted each and every person ever born with individual attributes that are completely different from any other person. We all share some characteristics with each other but, no two people have the same unique combination of God-given abilities. Our own particular history, ways of thinking, experiences all contribute to that uniqueness. Every person is different and beautifully put together.

We know that outwardly every person has characteristics that are exclusive only to them. Each individual has their own distinctive set of fingerprints, footprints and tongue prints. (Yes, tongue prints!) Identical twins have similar patterns but their prints are not entirely identical. Even in the shared womb these babies have different experiences which are shaping them physically and emotionally. If one’s hand is resting on the other’s leg, they are both experiencing something different.

The iris, the ring around the pupil of every human eye is absolutely unique, exhibiting a distinctive pattern. These complex, random iris patterns can provide positive identification of a person beyond a shadow of doubt with no two patterns repeating. We can be assured that every one of us is something special because God has given us these external proofs that each of us is absolutely one of a kind.

I believe our insides have been formed just as individually. I am sure we are as unique and distinctive on the insides as we are on the outsides of our bodies. We each have a heart and brain and those parts that help us function on a physical level but, what if each person’s physical heart is as unique and different as our finger prints? The doctors know a lot about how the heart functions in a general sense but they do not know the subtle (and not so subtle) differences of each individual person which is why, if they are wise, they consider the patient’s account of what they are feeling. This is also why healing is such an individualized thing. What works for one does not always work for another.

We know that every person’s DNA is different. The individual genetic blueprint that programs every cell of every person’s body is varied and diverse. Thousands and thousands of bits of information are encoded in every strand of DNA and none are exactly alike. DNA programs everything from hair and eye color to a predisposition for diabetes or cancer. Our height and the shape of our toes are decided by how those genetic codes have implanted in our bodies. This programming begins at the very moment of conception. Identical siblings which come from a single, fertilized human egg cell, have a lot of similar genetic markings. Even so, there are subtle differences which are not duplicated in each sibling. Brothers and sisters that are not identical share some common patterns but differ vastly in the combination of genes from child to child.

Psalm 139:4 – I WILL PRAISE THEE; FOR I AM FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE. The human body is a wonder of magnificence. It would take a lot more time and space than I have to write of just how marvelous this body is. God has put so much more into us than an amazing shell in which to house us. I am always astounded at people who say they don’t believe in God because even a cursory glance at how the body functions points to an intelligent and purposely designed creation.

God has given us the capacity to love Him and to love each other which cannot be explained as simple animal instincts. There is a complexity in human relationships that makes it seem almost impossible for any two people to ever be able to communicate or interact. These complicated interactions of hearts and lives are what make life worth living. God has designed us to be able to take care of each other by our unique abilities and giftings. Each person has something special to give to others that is unlike what anyone else has to offer.

In addition to our individual physical characteristics inside and out, God has filled each of us with a godly DNA. We have been endowed with unique gifts, talents, strengths, abilities and giftings by the creator of the universe. God has programmed each and every person that ever has lived or will live with a greatness, an ability to succeed, believer and non-believer alike. Not everyone will receive or embrace the gift of life offered freely to all. Some will reject it, deny it, abuse it or turn it to evil, but the free gift was given because of the great love our Father has towards us.

We were created in the image of an exceedingly wonderful and beautiful God. That makes us exceedingly wonderful and beautiful because it’s in our “genetic” code. He has made each of us an incredible masterpiece with tremendous worth. We’ve all heard stories of some forgotten work of art stowed in someone’s attic and then given to Goodwill to be sold in a heap for a few dollars. When examined closer, it is discovered to be a priceless masterpiece with many clamoring to own it or just see its magnificence.

YOU are a masterpiece! The Great Sculptor has crafted only one you. Don’t hold back your gifts but let your light shine. You do not have to be like anyone else. You only have to be what your Father has made you to be. You are good enough. You are of great worth to the Father and to me.

This is the time of year when our thoughts turn to the greatest gift every given, the Lord Jesus Christ. All that was accomplished through his birth, life, death and resurrection have made you completely complete, lacking nothing. The full price has been paid for the masterpiece which is you. Sometimes we may not feel like we are worth much but, the full price was paid for us even when we were at our worst.

The treasure of you is wonderful in itself but, the treasure of you shining forth the Christ inside you is beyond comprehension. Remember the children’s song, “This little light of mine?” Maybe it’s time to let your heart sing that song again. Sing to a world that is hurting and dying. Sing to yourself. Sing to your magnificent creator. And let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

I sure do love you and I thank God for your life.


Choosing To Be Happy

July 28, 2014

old-wringer-washing-machineSometimes we have knowledge about something we believe to be true, but it fades into the background noise within our minds. The truth is there, somewhere in our mind, but it’s been shoved beneath all the busyness of today. It just sits there, seemingly not doing us any good. Then we have an epiphany. That old truth blasts its way to the forefront of our mind, with a far deeper understanding than we ever knew. It’s then that we really know it, deep down in our heart.

I recently had such an epiphany. I was just sitting, meditating, not thinking about anything in particular, when the words simply flashed across my mind, “I choose to be happy.” It was so profound, I spoke it out loud. I’ve learned that if your subconscious mind hears you speak something out loud, it believes your spoken word more than if you heard someone else say it, or if you read it silently in a book, or just thought it.

“I CHOOSE to be happy,” resonated in my heart. I suddenly thought about everything I have right now to be thankful for, and how that’s plenty to be happy about. It seemed so silly to think about all the worrisome thoughts I had been thinking about my future. The only living we can do is right now, so why on earth do our minds want to try to live in the distant future? Because we can’t live in the tomorrow, we become anxious about something that hasn’t even happened. We can work ourselves into a terrible state of depression if we keep worrying about the future—something we can do nothing about right now.

Funny thing is, when I choose to think about the things I’m currently blessed with, and let those thankful thoughts permeate my heart, I actually am doing something to shape my future. I’m sowing seeds of thankfulness and happiness for my future.

Think about it. If we’re anxious and worried throughout our days, how can any good come of it? “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Anxious thoughts only plant seeds for more anxiety in the future. If I’m thankful and happy now, I’m planting seeds for more thankfulness, happiness, and peace in the future.

So good-bye, worries, and hello, happiness! I can choose to be happy right now, and I’ll continue to remind myself of this out loud, “I choose to be happy!”

It may help to write down all the things we have to be thankful for, to serve as a reminder when our thoughts slip into the worry groove. Yes, there are actually pathways our thoughts flow through in the brain. It can be more challenging to form new pathways of thought, than to allow our thoughts to effortlessly travel the old path of least resistance. But as we continue to put forth the effort to form new thought pathways, the old ones become weak and atrophy. Having a thankful list we can continue to add to is a helpful aid in changing our thinking.

Heck, sometimes I’ll load my washer, add detergent and push the button, and think about my grandmother’s old wash tub and wringer. I’m suddenly so thankful for my washing machine!

We truly do have much to be thankful for right now, and that’s plenty to choose to be happy about!

So …

October 6, 2013

monkey with coconutSo … (I just learned that “so” is a good substitute for “uh”or “um,” to help you sound a little more intelligent.)

So … My daughter is on the World Race, serving as a Christian missionary in 11 countries … in 11 months.  She’s on a team of 7 twenty-somethings, in a squad of 45 mostly twenty-somethings.  I’m proud as heck of her, but the mother instincts are kicking in.

“So,” I say to her, “I read on your blog that your team fasted and made a kajillion peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to hand out to people … in … I don’t know, wherever you are in Nicaragua.”

“Yeah!” she exclaims as only a twenty-something can.

“So … do you want the word to get out that there are some rich American kids in town handing out freebies?”

“Oh, we’re not there anymore.”

“So … where are you staying?  Not in another tree fort with monkeys, I hope?”

“No, we’re at a hostel.”

“So … are you eating well?”

“Well, we didn’t have any food when we were in the tree fort, so … we were hungry.”

“Weren’t there any coconuts?”

“We didn’t think of that.”

“All you have to do is watch the monkeys.  They aren’t hungry.”

“Yeah …”

The Skype screen goes dead.  A few attempts to reconnect, then we go to audio on Viber.

“So,” I say, “I’m concerned for your safety, dear.  Are you in dangerous parts of the country?”

“No, we don’t go into any dangerous places.”

“Are you sure?”

“Mom, I’m being sarcastic.”

“Oh, that’s comforting.”

“So … I need to go. We’re going out exploring.”

“At this hour of the night?”

“Yeah, gotta go.”

“I love you, Sweetie.”

“Love you, too.”

The Viber call blips off.  Lord, set your angel round about them.

So … now I’ve got to figure out how I’m going to get some sleep.  Somehow, I’ll manage.  I was once a twenty-something missionary myself.  Now I know how I drove my mother to her knees in prayer.

So … all is well.

Please Forgive Me!

August 20, 2013

ImageSometimes we just have to eat humble pie.  I upset my son on the phone tonight, and needed to ask forgiveness.  I’m sure he’ll grant it, because he’s pretty cool about that.  I groveled in an email … the wisdom of which remains to be seen.  :-/  It went like this …

Hi, David

Please forgive me for demeaning you with my words.  I was in a bit of a quandary, and perhaps reverted to old habits.  The chicken stock I was making (from local free-range chicken heads, feet, hearts, kidneys, etc.) boiled over on the stove, baking onto the red, electric coils, creating a billow of smoke, which quickly spread throughout the house.  Two smoke alarms went off, and then the ADT fire alarm went off, shouting, “Fire! Fire!”  Then the ADT 800 number started ringing on my phone.  At that point, I had to stop trying to dig myself out of a hole with you (or taking my foot out of my mouth), and said, “Goodbye.”
I spoke with the ADT lady, assuring her there was no fire, and no, she didn’t need to call back in a while to make sure the smoke had cleared, and no, I wouldn’t need her to show me how to put the alarm on hold for 30 minutes while the smoke (which wasn’t there) cleared.
I hung up, quite impressed with ADT’s response, albeit unimpressed with the way I handled our conversation.  Will you forgive me?
Love you,

Zumba Girl

April 14, 2013

Amanda Golden, Zumba Instructor & R.N., and Me

“You need to do something fun for exercise,” my doctor said, as she sat squarely across from me.

“But I don’t know what ‘fun’ is,” I said.

“How ‘bout you try Zumba?”

Thus began my entrance into the world of Zumba. 

I walked into the gym, and started chatting with someone nearby.

“Is this going to kill me?” I asked.

“I just focus on the feet,” she said. “Don’t worry about the arms.”

Good advice, I thought.

Amanda, the teacher and coach, exuberantly marched up to the stage platform.

“I just had some surgery on my arm, and don’t have full movement yet,” she said, “so just follow along, even if I can’t do everything.”

Holy cow … she just had surgery, and she’s doing ZUMBA?

The music started pounding, and I stepped, arms flailing, trying to see what the heck she was doing, so I could follow along.

Dang, I need to come early, so I can get a spot up front … and see what the heck she’s doing!

That was a few months ago, and now … I’m a Zumba girl!  No, I don’t get all the moves perfectly, and some of them I flat-out can’t do – because my brain hasn’t figured them out yet – but it’s so much FUN!  I even recruited my friend, Chandra, and now we’re both die-hard Zumba girls!

A couple nights ago, we arrived on time, unaware of the class’ apparent decision to do toning … with weights!  Chandra and I didn’t have the Zumba “sticks,” but we had fun anyway!  People were whooping and hollering … what a workout!  What a rush!

Next workout, I still didn’t have my sticks, so I grabbed some weights and jumped right in.  Whoooh!  What fun!

The music Amanda chooses, and the energy she brings to the stage and class is absolutely amazing.

Can anything be more fun?

The body fat’s dropping, the muscles are growing, and my energy level is astounding. 

Yes, Doctor, I now know what “fun” is!  I found it on a Zumba wave with Amanda … and there’s no turning back now!

Big Kids, Little Kids And Kickball

April 4, 2013

kickball          “Can I play?  Please, can I play, just this once?”  My eight-year-old pleas went unnoticed on the sun-baked road sprinkled with kids choosing teams for a game of kickball.

Finally, my big brother, Steve, looked in my whining direction.  “You know the rule.  You have to be ten!  Now get off the road!”

Dejected, I trudged over to the stone wall behind first base, topped with a fringe of dangling feet—all the spectators who knew the sad misfortune of being under ten.

Hunt Avenue was always vibrantly alive with the business of active little minds collectively pursuing their highest aim—to have fun!  One of the activities highest on the list was the great game of kickball.

An entire generation of Hunt Avenue kids knew the playing field well.  Home plate was the manhole in front of the Higgins’ house.

First base was a big, green mail receptacle box up against the ivy-covered stone wall in front of the Walker’s house, where the mailman picked up his mail every afternoon.  We didn’t use the politically correct term “mail carrier” back then, nor did the mailman drive a truck up to everyone’s mailbox out by the street.  He garnished a white canvas bag with a strap over his shoulder and across his chest, with “U.S. Mail” stenciled on it in large, black letters.  He filled his bag from the large mail box, and then proceeded to walk his route.  He carried the mail up to each person’s front porch, dodging dogs all the way, and deposited envelopes in their mailboxes by the front door.

So the U.S. Postal Service provided us with a nice sturdy, immovable first base.

Alas, we had no such neatly provided landmark for second base, so someone painted it in the middle of the road, right where it should be in the diamond formation of our playing field.  I don’t know who painted it, or if anyone ever repainted it to keep it fresh—I just remember it always … just being there.

The Higgins provided third base.  It was a rather large rock in front of their house out by the street, about 1½ foot diameter, and always neatly painted with bright white paint and the large black numbers “116,” indicating their house number.  Located directly across the street from the mailbox, it made a perfect third base.

It just occurred to me that some young readers might not be familiar with the game of kickball.  It’s very much like the rules of baseball, only the ball is about the size of a soccer ball, but softer, and covered with swirls of soft colors.  Instead of throwing the ball to whoever is “up,” the pitcher stands in the middle of the field and rolls the ball toward the kicker at home plate.  Just about all the other rules of baseball apply.

The problem with playing kickball on our street, though, was that there were too many kids!  The big kids wanted to have a good game, without moaning and groaning over the slower and less adroit little kids.  And of course the little kids were always squealing, “Can I play? Can I play?”

So the big kids got together and laid down some rules—well, just one, really:

 In order to play kickball with the big kids,

you have to be at least ten years old.

           Thus, the age of ten became a coveted age for all the little kids.  Not many families could afford large birthday parties, and they were mostly celebrated within each family with simply a birthday cake for dessert after the supper meal, minus all the presents.  But a tenth birthday was really special, for it marked a rite of passage into the realm of “the big kids.”  And surprisingly enough, all the big kids cordially welcomed the new ten-year-old into the great game—without any fussing or complaining, for it was “the rule.”  When you turned ten, you could play kickball!

Disney Fun?

May 1, 2012

“Dang, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a vacation,” I tell my friend.  “I haven’t been to Disney World since the kids were little. Want to go?”

“Sure!” she says.

We hop into the Corvette and head to Orlando.

Now, my friend is young enough to be my daughter, and loves thrill rides … something I usually shy away from.

But what the heck … it’s time to overcome some fears … like heights, being whirled upside down and around and up and down … oh my!

First day, first park … Hollywood Studios. Sinus infection be damned, I was bound and determined to challenge my fears.

And that I did.  The Tower of Terror, I discovered, is aptly named! I screamed and kept grabbing for something to hold onto. At the end of the ride, the guy next to me asked, “Are you all right?”

“Yeah!” I shout, adrenaline pumping. (I think I was grabbing him in the free-falls. It’s all a blur.)

Next up, the Rockin’ Roller Coaster.

Holy shamoley, it was terror multiplied. I kept my eyes closed the entire time … screaming … wondering … is it over yet?

Why do people call this fun?

The next day, we entered Animal Kingdom.  First stop, Expedition Everest. I took one look at the huge mountain and roller coaster and said, “No way.”

My friend went alone, while I happily waited below, very content with my decision.

After she got off, she told me about a guy in line in front of her, with his little son.

“But I don’t want to go!” he screamed.

“Ssshhhh, you’re going anyway!”

Poor little kid. I hope he wasn’t too traumatized.

Some of us love the thrills of high flying.

But some of us can just do without … loving to seek thrills at high speed while hugging the ground.

I’m with the latter.

April 6, 2012

Truthing It

“Who wants to color Easter eggs?”

I ask this every year right before Easter, and seldom get any takers.  But Friday night our daughter’s boyfriend was over when I made my yearly plea.

“I LOVE to color Easter eggs,” he said.

Score…my kind of guy!

So we set everything up and went to task.  I got to once again relive a childhood tradition, passed down from my father’s parents, who arrived at Ellis Island from Poland in the early 1900’s.

My father always meticulously oversaw the annual Easter tradition at our house.  We didn’t just put a few crayon markings on the hard-boiled eggs and dunk them in food coloring.  Mom would save up empty soup and tuna cans for weeks.  A few evenings before Easter my mother, father, nine brothers and I would gather to delicately inscribe our artistic masterpieces on a few dozen boiled-egg canvases.  Mom carefully prepared…

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