“…and that time is near.”

As many of you know, we got a Standard Poodle puppy in August. He is now 9 months old. His name is Kolbe. I took that photo above a few minutes ago. It is less than 20-degrees outside and he is looking in the window. He’s been running around the yard, and because it started to snow again (there is snow on his nose) he now wants inside. He is so funny. He does not howl or bark or scratch to be let in the house. He goes to whatever window he thinks you are hiding behind and jumps up and stares you down. It gets light around 10 am or so. Yesterday morning I was in the master bathroom around 8:30 AM and I hear his feet on the windowsill outside (the blinds were still shut). I made my way to the kitchen and he had already run around the yard to the door (we have an acre) and was waiting to be let in. He was so happy with himself, and I was amazed he thought that out and ignored all the dark windows, just going to the one that was lit. Our older dog (aged 14), Poca, sleeps with my son when he is here. When he gets up, she gets up. Sometimes it is not until 11am! So, she was still snoring with my son when Kolbe was running around like a crazy man in the dark, having a ball in the snow.

They are both currently snoring at my feet, having had enough of the cold temps and falling snow. And I just laugh at it all. Here in Alaska, it has not felt like we are getting closer to Christmas. On Thanksgiving, we still had green grass; where friends in California were in white out conditions in the desert, got 6″ of snow, and were having a blast. Friends in Big Bear, CA were actually stuck at their cabin. And pundits were lambasting us about climate change and the warming, etc. My eyeballs and ears hurt with it all. My brain fried a little bit. Then it started to snow…just two days after Thanksgiving. And it has not really stopped for too long since it began again to really snow, this Saturday evening. Hubby used his snowblower on Sunday and now you can’t even tell he was out there.

I just chuckle at all the doomsday people. Weather has become a religion to so many. And it makes me sad. Using a young person who has no scientific training to espouse your theories is almost like child abuse, to me. I’ve read some interesting articles from experts who work in climate science who tell us that, “Yes, climate is changing. It is always changing.” (My weather app is hilarious. “What the forecast – WTF.” He posted something like, “Meteorologist: at what other job can you get paid so well to be wrong 75% of the time? Ha-Ha. Cracks me up). It is not the carbon footprint I leave. It is not too many people. The smog in China still bugs me, so perhaps that does not help. But overall, the earth is doing its own thing and we are too small to have that much of a measurable affect. The ozone has actually healed itself. The earth did not end when the last pundits (aka Al Gore and others) said it would, and I don’t think Kamala Harris or the “Squad” in DC has any inside info to back their idea it will end in 12 years and that we desperately need that “Green Deal.”

Not to get too political or anything, but you know, it is sort of silly. It makes mankind look like he is all that and a slice of bread. And no, I am not going to change my pronoun usage at this stage of my life. “You know all things: the last and the first…” Psalm 138:5 This was part of my Psalter readings for today. And it truly struck me. God knows ALL things. He knows the beginning and everything in between, until the end. The great writer stands with His timeline and knows and sees it all, from one end to the other. Where is mankind in all of this? Scattered all along that timeline. The Lord of All has all this in hand. Whether it be that Hawaii becomes a ski resort with slopes and sleds, and the Siberian Steppes become a desert oasis with lake front cottages, should not concern us. Mankind, and all the creatures He created, will adapt. We will migrate to wherever it is the Lord has prepared for us. But nothing even remotely like that is happening in 12 years, my friend. That is a millennium of work for the earth to change that much. And having lots of children does not affect that. We, just the USA, can feed the world – the entire world – and have leftovers to take to work on Monday. So food is not an issue, either. But mankind is the issue. Well, the power brokers up on that top shelf, the ones who make all these calamitous decisions for power, are the issue. And we need to just say no.

“Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.” Psalm 132:1 We can dwell in unity if we turn, once again, our faces towards God. If we stop falling for anything that leaves the lips of those who have no faith in God, nor a care for their fellow man. “Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us, for we have had enough of contempt.” Psalm 122:3 Our Christian faith is under attack around the world. In this country, there are “Muslim Community Patrols” in cities on the East Coast (Brooklyn, NY is one). If you deride Muslims in any way, you can be ticketed or even arrested. Is this what our world, our country, is coming to? And in Britain? Or the Netherlands? France? Germany? Oh my gosh, look at what is happening in Iran! Dissenters are being shot in the streets. Our faith and our country are being attacked on a daily basis, through our own media outlets. Misguided and badly informed reporters and “news” outlets make the citizens of this country think the USA is falling apart, and is in terrible condition. It is not. But that does not fit their narrative. There are fewer unemployed than in over 50 years. There are states, who voted purely democratic in the last election, and not a single one has job losses – they all have gains. Prices are dropping. The Federal Reserve is being pressured to drop interest rates. The sky is not falling, people!

“Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 123:8 The Lord who created every spec of who and what we are, and where we live, will not abandon His creation. He may allow us to wallow in our mistakes, but He is forever merciful. Sometimes we all need a lesson well learned. “It was good for me that You have humbled me, that I might learn your statutes.” Psalm 118:71

The Lord has given me so much. And in my careless youth, I squandered those gifts, much like the Prodigal Son. But the Lord allowed me to be humbled, so that I might learn from my mistakes, and see His instruction for the wondrous gift that it is – for me, and for each of us, who accepts His rebuke, and His mercy.

Do I have that inebriate joy my puppy does, so that I roll in the snow in single-digit temperatures? No, I do not. Do I have the joy on a child’s face, when they get to see the beautiful lights decorating our trees for Christmas? Sometimes; some of the time, I do not. My spirit feels battled some days and I want to pull the covers over my head and just not “adult” that day. But, thanks be to God, I have this rambunctious puppy who is in love with life, to encourage me to get out of bed (yeah; he jumps on the bed or licks my hand until I get up). And now, when I think of all the work that is involved with Christmas, I sigh and sort of don’t want to do it. Lots of friends no longer decorate or bake because they have empty nests. Why bother when there are no children to see Christmas, and to share in the joy with us? Well, I think the Lord wants us joyful and celebratory, even if we live alone. His joy is for us. His life was for us. The least we can do is wear an ugly Christmas sweater, or drink some eggnog, or bake a neighbor some cookies; hang some lights, put up a wreath, get some poinsettias. We should still live the liturgical year. This is Advent. We are preparing for the entrance into the world of the baby Jesus, our Lord and Savior. He came, He promised, and He saved us all. All we have to do is accept His gift and ignore all the flotsam and jetsam, all the chaos and cruelty, and believe. I believe. Do you?

My husband, the old curmudgeon, stubbornly participated in putting decorations on the house, at my request. He wasn’t planning on it, not really. But I asked for our inflatable/lit manger scene and our lit, 8-foot-tall, iron moose in the front yard. That was really all I wanted. It makes me happy. Well, he sort of got into the spirit and we have lit garland on our front door; the moose and manger are up, and there are lights on the front of the house. But when he went to get some more hangers for the lights, he bought me a surprise. He got ornaments for my favorite tree out back. When I sit in the living room, it is what I look out at and I just love it. It used to be surrounded by Birch trees and undergrowth, but he cut it all away this summer. The tree got sunlight and it is just turning out to be a lovely Spruce tree. I just really like it. So without my knowledge, he hung ornaments on it for me, in the snow. He promised lights for it when he returns from his business trip on Thursday. Will anyone else see the tree? Probably not, since it is in our fenced back yard. Our grandchildren might, if everyone stays healthy and we can actually do Christmas with them. But he did that for me. Just for me and my Christmas spirit. And he was really smiling. Because the good he did made him feel good, too.

“…But where there are good relationships, where love binds the family together and to God, there happiness is always to be found.” St. Seraphim of Sarov

You can barely see the ornaments, but in real life, they are much clearer. And I rejoice each time I see it. It gives me such hope. If one, little act of kindness, can have such a lasting affect on me, can you imagine what we all could do if we chose to follow God’s precepts, to truly love even our enemy? We would erase so much evil in this world. The silent majority, the Christians who out-number all other beliefs (yes, even Muslims) need to stop being so quiet. We need to be kind, but we need to make some noise! We need to call out injustice and lies and malfeasance when we see it. We need to say no, and to know when enough is enough. Have you drawn your line in the sand, yet? I have. If each of us did that, decided where we stood on important matters like faith and freedom, and chose to stand for those beliefs, Christmas would be celebrated in every country, in every home, and in every heart. And so for me, I anticipate this Christmas with a loving and excited heart; a heart filled with hope. I cannot wait for Christ to enter into this world, once again, at the cave in Bethlehem.

Happy Advent – “The Virgin is on her way….”

 

 

“…when you hear this news…”

The Lord is calling. Always calling. But as I have posted about before, are we listening??? And how do we know it is of God? Or is it just more static?

Oh my gosh, the past twelve days, I have been knocked down by a virus in my lungs and sinuses. It has really laid me out. And I have been intellectually bored silly, when I’m not sneezing or coughing! My granddaughters introduced me to this game, which is now on my phone, we lovingly call the “dot game.” I am seeing dots in my sleep. I have been obsessed. (And so has my husband. Ha-Ha!). But it is about the only thing I have had the energy to do! Except for read and listen to podcasts. Oh, and to be honest, watch all the seasons of the “Holiday Baking Championship.” Yeah; I love it. Who knew?

When you really isolate yourself, the sources of information become so crystal clear, purely because they are so isolated. I am getting specific information and because I spent the better part of a week all alone, I know exactly where it all came from. I have reached out via email and texts to bounce things off friends, when I have subjects I want to chat about. And some of the feedback has been wonderful. It has made me think. And it has been precise and specific. Which has been great.

Sometimes we are poised for change. We are open to it. We, if we don’t kid ourselves, are waiting for it. And change is hard – very hard. The impetus can come from the chaos around us. We can pick out little, minute things that drastically influence our hearts and souls. And sometimes the words that strike us are through friends. Friends we trust and respect. Recently, a friend said some things to me and I just cannot get her sentences out of my head. She was recalling her lamenting quite a few years ago about some issues in the Church. She whined to a priest and he responded with, “Who’s Church is it?” She replied, “God’s.” And his response, which is what I cannot get out of my head, was “Well, let Him take care of it!” Wow. We humans think we can fix anything we feel isn’t going to our perceived expectations. We espouse faith in God, steadfastness of our faith in the Church, and yet we think, “He’s not doing a very good job of it.” Ha-Ha! And therein, my friends, is where this idleness brought on by illness has gotten me in trouble. Too much quiet time to think.

There is so much going on in the world right now. And I find myself getting all caught up in it. I looked over at my husband, sitting in his chair, reading on his phone. I asked him what he was doing, and he said, “Reading stuff and getting mad.” And it made me think, “Why do we read this stuff if it just makes us angry? Why do we get involved in things that destroy our peace? Some things, granted, are worthy to get involved with. There are causes that are important. Causes that do make a difference. But on the national scale? One person, it can be argued, can make a difference. But if you are not started in that field at a young age, or working the “right channels,” what happens nationally is out of our hands. Before you get all over me for it, give it a thought. What can I do by getting into the fray? I delved into things locally and on the statewide level. It got me nowhere. I wasn’t affecting change. I believe it is because I don’t have lots of spare cash to throw at causes. I do have a voice, and I have connections through friends, but once I was not providing enough, I was no longer needed. And so much of politics is just noise. No one does anything, but spew words. Have you seen the TV news lately? “The View” TV show? Listen to the radio? Listen to podcasts? It is everywhere. And it is angering and divisive and corrosive and it is killing our world.

So a better thought is not what can I do to get into all of this, but rather, what can I do to slow it down or stop it? One of the issues facing religion right now is not just the impact of Muslims immigrating and tearing cultures apart as they do so, but within the larger Church itself. Preachers don’t preach the tough stuff. No one wants to hear what is sinful from the pulpit. We would rather hear about prosperity and the plentiful life. We certainly do not want to hear the top ten – the Ten Commandments. It is much easier to live in sin and be comfortable there, than to be challenged to change. But change is what we are all called to do – otherwise we become part of the problem.

This opportunity to disconnect was given to me in the form of a virus; an illness. And it has been a gift. It has caused me to be able to really funnel where I get my information from, who I interact with, and the reaction it causes in me. Life is far too short to spend your days in anger. Far too short.

If you haven’t realized it yet, we are getting close to the Holiday season. I think we now have, per retailers at least, a season called “Hallowthanksmas” – we sort of skip over a lot of it and right after the 4th of July, we end up celebrating Halloween and straight into Christmas. We get on this fast track to January 1st and we miss all the prep – prep is where we grow and learn. We call this particular period, “Advent.” We forget we are preparing to welcome the Christ Child into our hearts and our homes and get caught up in the trees, ornaments, and gifts. Sigh. It is sad. We are all losing our way. And the anger makes it obvious.

I am planning to reorient myself this Advent. Get into the Spiritual aspect of Christmas and less of the commercial. Tune out more often. Unplug regularly. Continue to control what I hear and from whom I hear information. Guard what I read. Keep my eyes and head and heart focused on what is real. And what brings peace and unity and love. It’s not the internet and it certainly is not mass media. I was told recently that the Priests know what is happening in the world and on the world wide stage. And we need to trust that God has His larger Church in hand. I believe that and therefore I choose faith over hysteria. Faith over “news.” And the quiet peace it brings. Unplugging from the chaos and plugging into my faith. And focusing on the coming of our Lord.

“Today the Virgin is on her way to the cave where she will give birth to the Eternal Word of God in an ineffable manner. Rejoice, therefore, O universe when you hear this news, and glorify with the angels and the shepherds, Him who shall appear as a Child being God from all eternity.” Christmas Kontakion.

 

“…for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”

So, the world is banging on the door, again. LOL. Once more, identity thieves have been at it. This time, a man from Pakistan chose to steal the personal information from people who play “Words with Friends” online. Over 218 million people. And, one of them would be me. Recently, I was getting these weird invites to play rounds with perfect strangers. All men. All in my relative age group. I had my identity locked down. No email. No full name. No personal information. And then, quite suddenly, all these invites to play games with men I do not know. My husband just happened to mention it to me, in passing, about the identity theft. And it all made sense. The “bots” were hammering at me to be weak and let them in. Not gonna happen. A game is not worth my personal security. Or my online security. For many I played the game with, this was our single point of contact, and I will miss gabbing with them as we play. But if our friendship revolves only around a game, it is not much of a relationship. I do miss my online friends and that game, though!!

There will always be thieves trying to break in. They come in so many forms and iterations. “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (Corinthians 11:14) And this recent breach, or rather effort at a breach, made me pull back. Once or twice before I have had to delete my presence from the web. But we all know that once that information has gone on the web, it never really goes away. We can lessen our footprint, but we are always out there. Recently, we chose to purchase a new mattress. It’s our first in over 20 years. They asked our names, and then started verifying information about us that we had not offered to them, yet. It, quite frankly, really bothered me. It inspired me to think about this and to eventually write this post. The company is apparently part of many businesses, and a single warehouse, used by these furniture businesses in the area. We had placed a tentative order for some chairs about two years ago at one of these different stores, but ended up cancelling the order. From that 2-year-old order, they had all the information they needed on us. Kinda scary, isn’t it? Well, today I learned these businesses have been masquerading as separate entities who shared a warehouse. But they are all owned by one family. I felt lied to, on many fronts. Mattress salespeople. Used cars. Yeah. I filled the moat and pulled up the drawbridge.

I have been feeling sort of frustrated in some ways, with the tone of what is happening in the media and online, and with how people treat each other. Everyone is so angry. We deleted things that are not life-building and that engender anger. We lean a certain direction and have made sure we support our beliefs by what we fill our minds with. We are endeavoring to find that happy medium, because it is out there. That place where you can navigate the world safely. No man is an island and you cannot pretend nothing is going on beyond your own moat, but you can moderate how deep you wade into it all.

Recently, someone posted about how we quiet Christians need to rise up and be strong, and fight more in the way we are being attacked. My comment was that we still need the quiet Christians who pray for everyone. We also need to be kind, loving, and peaceful, but that we cannot just lay down and be run over. The happy medium spot. And it is a balancing act. But I know that if we quiet Christians make a noise, it needs to be in the voting booth. It needs to be where our financial support can do good for all people.

The fear of this insane world consuming our faith, our life, our country, our world, is not really ours to be fearful of, because it is God’s battle. We are parts of, and pieces of, His Army, but the Angels and Saints have watch over us. In this world, we are called to love others. We are called to be His Witness by the way we treat other people. We do not have to climb into the gutter so the “other side” will hear our message. Our children learn from our example, and that is the passive way in which we raise them. But so do others. Sometimes it is just a sentence or thought we share. Sometimes someone will say something and it just does not leave your mind. You chew on it for days and the meaning becomes clearer. This same goes for this experience with a data breach, or my feeling that there is too much of me out there, and not enough left, safely behind my drawbridge. I have been pondering it.

The world is coming apart. Violence against innocents that just happen to disagree with you. People being injured and worse for a different viewpoint. I listened to a Podcast about how using Google can actually change your mind and how you think about things. Some of the studies and experiments prove that Google and their subsidiaries like You Tube, Instagram, etc. are changing how people VOTE. Their influence is what you see in the first 4 choices of a search. (There is a whole section of the study about that!!!) And that Google is working with China – the country that controls its population with facial recognition, a state controlled internet, etc. We should all be re-evaluating what we put out there. Because someone is logging every keystroke. They may not come after you, yet, but your statistics are used to make changes in what we see, hear, and learn. I think we need to pay attention. And I think we should pull back from media. I’ve decided to play less and read more. The TV has not even been on all day. I have not looked at much social media today, either. I left Facebook (which those same studies about Google say that Facebook has changed our brains and it may be irreversible). I am retreating more into the here and now; trying to be present to who I am with. I am also learning to rely on myself in the sense of my relationship with God and me. Because I am who I live with most of my day, and I talk to Him a lot. (I hope he doesn’t think I overshare or am too gabby!!). I am responsible to God for how I spend my time, and what I do with it. I pray; I read God’s word; I am thankful. God’s got this battle we are in the midst of, even if you don’t see the battle or recognize the battlefield. Just do one thing – pray. If that is all you do to change today, it is a huge step, as simple as it is. “Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Just say it over and over all day long. You will be amazed at how your life will change, if you let it. Once you add prayer, get into the Psalms and the Proverbs. Read God’s Word for you!

I refuse to let the insanity around me steal my faith, or to make me play their games, their way. We need not be fearful. We need not become hermits. But we need judiciousness in what we do believe in, how we spend our time, and who we spend it with. I believe in God and His sovereignty over all the world. Faith. Prayer. Love. Forgiveness. Peace. The virtues, not the vices. The faith, not despair. The Lord gave us a road map to make our way through this. Simple steps, one at a time, will take us where we need to be. And sometimes, it is okay to fill that moat and pull up the drawbridge to re-orient ourselves, rededicate ourselves, to a life lived first in faith. Free from the world’s pull, but still in it. Thanks be to God.

 

“Count it all joy…”

We have spent the past couple of weeks getting rid of the underbrush on our land. It was so much work, we had to hire a tree specialist to help us. What an amazing job the entire crew did. Up here, the underbrush grows so fast. With it gone, we are able to have a fire barrier, should we ever need it. We denuded all the dead trees, or ones that were too crowded together. In the photo above, we removed all the underbrush in the dirt area. We can see our neighbor’s house! It is a first. This is just a small section. We did around our entire acre!! We are scheduled to have a fence put in. Then the dogs can run free!!!! So excited!!!

That’s them, all cuddled up. LOL. The one on the left is 13, and is barely on the dog bed. The black lump is the puppy, who is 7 months old. He loves her; she tolerates him. LOL. But having a closed in yard will make life so much easier. As it is, we have to walk the puppy. Our older dog won’t leave our side, but he is not there, yet. And a yard will allow him to get out some of that energy!!

My brother just visited with his little granddaughter and was saying how he’d forgotten the busy-ness of a toddler, the incessant questions and learning new words. Things like, “Papa, where are you?” “Grammie, what are you doing?” “Can I shut the door?” The energy it takes to keep up with a puppy is much like the energy needed to keep up with a toddler! Some days, I am just too pooped out. And that’s when I say to myself, “What were you thinking?” Ha-Ha-Ha.

Today my plants are on the table because I am sick and tired of saying, “Leave it.” Over and over again. Last night, he jumped onto that same table. Yep. My dining room table. After that little plant on the right. Luckily we rescued the table and the plant. The cheekiness of that dog! And now I am relegated to carrying cut up Smokey Joe links in a plastic bag in my pocket because he is so food oriented. But I smell like smoked links. Lovely. There has to be a better solution. I will bring it up at our next obedience class. I will also present the trainer with a baggie containing the eaten purple pen and the chewed up sheet of – ironically enough – our training homework for the week. So funny.

Mom and I had a nice visit yesterday, along with my hubby. He is so patient! She is progressing more and more into Alzheimer’s. She knew who we were. But she did not use our names. Her usual comments were, “And how is your family?” “What is new in your world?” She talks more quietly, and her speech is a little slurred. Her New Zealand accent is popping out more and more often. Her vocabulary changes. Terms she used when I was a child are more prevalent now. Our visits are so circular that everything that will take place happens within the first 4 or 5 minutes, tops. And then it is just rinse and repeat. Mom has a hard time making sense of things, too. Within the same breath and sentence she was exclaiming she was surprised she was going to be 90 in November, and then at the end of the same sentence, remarked that she had no idea how old she even was. It is so hard to experience this disease. She is happy, so that is good. She always wants us to stay longer than we do. She complains about being lonely, but then she does not remember she attends a senior center 3 days a week, either. It is so hard to just go when we need to. My instinct is to gather her in my arms and bring her home. But it would not work for so very many reasons.

“Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:32

I respect my parents. They moved to a new country to make a better life for themselves, and to have children in a place they thought would be better. They provided a pretty good life as we were growing up, doing the best they could. My in-laws grew up living a very hard life, dry farming in Colorado. They both moved into Denver and had wonderful careers and made a wonderful life for my husband and his siblings. They left a legacy for their children and grandchildren. They taught lessons to us all, even in death. My in-laws were unique in so many ways. Sadly, now that they are gone, I appreciate them so much more, for their love, their steadfastness and beliefs, and for how much they cared for their children and grandchildren. Because of our respective parents, my husband and I are who we are, and we are very blessed to have had the lives we did, growing up.

Taking on the responsibility for new life, whether it be a grandchild or a puppy, or caring at the end of life for our parents, can be extremely stressful. We are the sandwiched generation – caught in two worlds. My parents did not have to care for their parents in their homes. They were pretty independent. And my mom’s parents lived on their own until they passed away. And, in fact, my paternal grandma lived with my husband and I (and our sons) as her health was failing her, but her mind was fully intact. (And that makes a huge difference). My husband’s parents were cared for, pretty much entirely in their homes, with the amazing care from his younger brother. He spent these past few years caring for his aging and ill parents. He showed us all how to care for others. And as silly as this sounds after that, having this puppy is much the same level as caring for a toddler; although in the past couple of days he has been exhibiting teenage behavior in his refusal to listen. It is also a lot like the repetitiveness of an Alzheimer’s parent. Some days it is overwhelming.

I am clinging to the promises of Christ. Because in Him, I can do all these things. I can be a sandwich! And somehow I can be there, in the middle, and have my own life. Things like pulling out the undergrowth and putting up a fence make my life exciting. Planning our garden for next year and looking forward to camping trips with a trained dog (trust me, I dream about that). Visiting mom on Sundays after Church. Meeting friends for coffee. Playing with my grandchildren. Traveling to be with extended family and friends. Being me, in this middle place, which has become my life. And honestly, it is a blessed life. I know that I am singularly blessed. And I am beyond grateful. This is not complaining; this is working out where I am and how I function in this place. In my prayer journal, as I was reading through it – after making sure it did not die with the purple pen the puppy stole and introduced to my white carpeting (thank goodness for my “Little Green Machine” carpet cleaner! My hero today and many other days)  – I noted how often I am grateful and feel blessed to live the life I live. And I know the Lord has shown me that gratitude helps make a loving heart for others.

(That picture needs to add a puppy! As if the chaos shown there is not enough! Ha-Ha-Ha). I know sometime soon, all of our parents will have passed. And then my kids will be in the middle and my grandkids will be on one side, with my husband and I on the other. The generations shift roles and it seems to happen within a specific time frame. Rather than gently growing into it, it seems like you’re thrust into these new roles suddenly. And adjustment just takes time – often just long enough for the next change to occur – and we’re struggling all over again. I am sure it has been this way for eons, but it seems to be talked about more these days. It used to be multiple generations lived together on the farm for generation after generation. Then the industrial revolution happened and it all changed. The fabric of the family was torn and it never really has been quite the same. From Mayberry to Modern Family, all in a generation or two. Deep breaths, my friends, deep breaths. We can do this – from puppies to grandchildren to parents to ourselves. And even though our families are spread out across the county or the country, we can be there for one another. We can make this sandwich thing work! Count it all joy!!

 

“…We are in this struggle together.” Phil 1:30

You know, sometimes you are called upon to the be the rock, the anchor for other people. And sometimes you just walk alongside them. On occasion the days work well together and a walk is all you need. Other days, it is a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, or perhaps deep prayer requests. And all of those are beautiful, because it means we are trusted to walk with someone, or dry their tears. We have been found sturdy enough to hold others up. Wow. Think about that. It is really an honor.

Every so often, that honor can become a burden, and one that we feel not up to fulfilling. I know that feeling all too well. As I have gotten older, I have retreated more and more from the world. I am completely devoted to my children and grandchildren, our various (and many) extended family members, and about a handful of people I would consider a friend. We have many acquaintances, but very few friends. And that is a good thing. Those people we call friend are there for us regardless of a clean house, shampooed hair, or the state of our bank accounts.

One of my granddaughters started kindergarten this year (to be fair, another started 1st grade, another also kindergarten, and a grandson in 2nd grade….a couple of more are not school aged, yet. I am blessed) and within two days told me about her new best friend. I asked her what her name was, and as she trotted off to play, she was yelling over her shoulder, “Oh, I don’t know her name but she is my best friend.” I had to chuckle. It did not matter that they had only known each other two days, or that she did not know her name, she just knew she had found a friend. How precious is that?? She did not care about anything else, just that she felt friendship. I love it.

As I said above, I have very few close friends. One of my friends is having a big birthday this year. And what is funny about it is that when we first became friends more than 30 years ago, we promised we would not do the birthday thing (it is just a number) or worry about anniversaries. We promised we would celebrate with our kids and not worry about dates and things for us. So I honestly never worried about it. She threw me a surprise birthday party over 20 years ago. But my husband wrangled that. And now it is her turn to have a big 6-0 party (unfortunately I cannot be there) and I finally added her birthdate to my calendar. In our more than 30 years as friends, I never knew the date! And it had no bearing on our relationship. Oh, I knew I was older than her and it sort of bugged me, for about a minute, but there are so many other factors that could have gotten in the way, that age truly is a number. The point of this is that our relationship, which has weathered so much over the years, is what is paramount. I know if there is something I need, she would drop everything to be at my side, regardless of how it would mess up her schedule.

Years ago, when my grandmother (who lived with us) passed away, this same friend and her husband rushed to our home to hold me up. I will never forget her squeezing my hand as they wheeled my grandma’s body into that hearse. That is a friend. (I know you will read this and I love you more than you realize). I have two or three of these friends. Women I know who would rush to my side. They depend on me in the same way. They trust me and I trust them. It is a beautiful thing.

Sometimes we offer support to people because it is the right thing to do, but we never expect them to need us. Surprise! Something comes up and we have to decide to honor that commitment or not. In other situations, we may be a leader-figure. A position of authority, formal or otherwise. We attract people to us and they come to rely on us. And sometimes that burden becomes too much. We cannot carry ourselves into tomorrow, let alone save others. Well, that is okay, too. Sometimes we need an emotional time-out or break.

The important thing, I believe, is to honor our commitments. To be the people God has called us to be. To take comfort in the strengths and gifts He has given us. He leads us where we need to go and where we need to be. The Lord is our best friend. Let His example guide you, His promises comfort you, and His love give you rest. Be confirmed that the Lord has not misplaced HIs trust in you. He has not given you these gifts on a whim. He knows you (Psalm 139: 13-14) better than anyone. And on those days when you feel pulled in thousands of directions, call on one of your friends or family members. Just simply say, “Pray for me.” They will take it from there. And the strength of their prayers will bolster you and give you the wisdom you need for the moment. The Lord truly has your back.

 

“…Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.”

This post has been percolating in my head for months, perhaps even years. And with everything in the media lately, I just cannot put it off any longer. I maintain this blog site to run through things in my head, and as I work through them, I share them. Maybe you think this way, too, or have had similar experiences. I think it helps us all to feel that we are not alone in our trek through this life.

The court jester. The one who would leap in front of royalty and entertain them, many times to offset their ordinary lives (most filled with battles, death, and diseases at the forefront) and provide some laughter. But would the jester dine with the guests? No. He was often fed the left overs in the kitchen with the staff. He was not welcome with the society ruling at that time; he did not sit with them. Oftentimes, the jester was a member of the family, sometimes extended member, who would follow the ruling family and class, as they went from castle to castle or encampment to encampment. At many gatherings, the jester would wait in the background until summoned by the Lord of the Castle, or whomever ruled the place the jester resided. There were also public jesters who entertained in the public square and earned their keep through people throwing coins at them or offering them food and shelter. But they were rarely invited into even the most humble of homes.

Early actors often filled a void where no jesters were available. Sometimes they existed together, but most agree acting evolved out of the jesting sort of entertainment. There were still performers of feats and trials, much like the modern circus, but acting became something of its own as time progressed. It was common in the western cultures to think of actors and actresses as a lower class. In many instances, actors had to prostitute themselves (female and male) in order to put food on the table. Gentile society did not accept them as equal. In the east, most especially in China and Japan, prostitution was a part of the performing career. Many of the women in Kabuki were sold after the performances, and that is how many patrons were gained, to keep the production going. To have a patron in early theatre, most women sold sexual favors to patrons, who would then support the theatre. Think of some of the movies made about this very thing! The movie, “Gigi” comes to mind. Or “My Fair Lady.” There are so many.

And now actors are telling us how to vote and whom to vote for. They are threatening to leave the country if things don’t go their way – although, to be fair, only Madonna has actually done it so far, and she relocated to Venezuela to prove it is not socialist. I cannot wait for her to relinquish her American citizenship and then she will see how much of her fortune they allow her to keep (I bet she does not renounce her citizenship!!). The argument about “when did actors go from being considered no better than prostitutes to celebrities, and celebrities with political clout” is a fascinating one. How our social mores have shifted. How acting has become such big business, we get to see photos of what actors are working out where or eating what for their meals, to keep them human like us, and to keep them in public eye so their next project will be readily accepted.

Some actors have been lauded because they protest. Well, Hanoi Jane is still protesting. She just does not go away. Ha-Ha. In New York, I believe, there were quite a few actresses who came out in support of Planned Parenthood recently. But this week, this week paled. I think it is what finally tipped me over and caused me to post. This week on most media platforms we had “has-been-actress” Alyssa Milano telling the world how happy she was because her two abortions brought joy into her life. Sigh. “Fifteen years after that first love had fizzled, my life would be completely lacking all its great joys,” she said. “I would never had been free to be myself — and that’s what this fight is all about: freedom.” To quote her directly. She claims she was not ready to be a mother. Sadly, she is a mother. Those two children would be teenagers now. Not only did she stop them from living, she tore fatherhood away from her-then-lover. She destroyed 4 lives in order for her to have joy. Because I firmly believe she destroyed her life, as well. She WAS Catholic, but claims she realized it is a religion where men tell you what you can and cannot do. She has devolved into someone who pretty much only complains on media platforms these days, not having an acting job in awhile. She was on “Tanked,” where they installed a fish tank in her home. She is apparently happily married and does have some children. They must be so happy their mom allowed them to live, and that they did not interfere with her joy. I pray for her very lost soul, and for her aborted children. May their memories be eternal.

This woman, and many others like her, feel they are qualified to tell the rest of America what to believe, how to vote, and when to abort their children. This actress feels she has the platform to get her message to the rest of American voters. To the rest of American children who listen to this stuff. She is helping change opinion. Is this who we want to influence our culture, or our country? This woman and the other actors and actresses who rant and rage against conservative values in America? Since when have we changed so much we allow actors to influence how this country operates? Well, partially since we accepted acting and fantasy as industry. And it is a massive industry, supporting so many side industries. (Think Disney and all they have their hands in). They make so much money, it is almost unbelievable how much money the entertainment industry controls. And because of that, they pretty much own the airwaves. They certainly have the mainstream media leaning their way – deeply left. How can we stop them, or change the influence they hold sway over in our country? Well, we turn them off. We do not give them airtime. We don’t buy their products (movies, music, magazines, diets…there is so much controlled by the acting industry). We do not put our hard-earned money into their coffers. We stop the industry from having so much power. Can you do it? How can you do it?

Back in the early days of acting, the common man was outraged that someone would get up onto a platform and pretend to be someone else. There was such an outrage about women being on stage, that in early theatre, men played all the roles. For a woman to be acting was considered as bad as prostituting herself. Even in our modern era we all hear stories about the “director’s couch,” and how many actors and actresses literally had to have sex with someone in order to secure a role in a production of some sort. We have heard horrific stories of child prostitution and trafficking in acting. Behind so many secretive and closed doors, horrible stories emerge. And yet we listen to these people when they rage against our President? When they threaten to leave if President Trump was to be elected (we are still waiting for them to go and the list is pretty long) or certain legislation is not passed, or passed? When I was young, the entire “celebrity” aspect of acting was really getting going. The 1950s were glamorous. Actors were lionized and glorified. But there were horrible practices even then. There were good people, too. And even now, there are certainly some amazing people of caliber who chose acting. We cannot dismiss them all. Sadly, we know of only a few, because most of them are very quiet, because if they come out in support of conservative values, they are black listed. Kevin Sorbo comes to mind, or Scott Baio, or Kirk Cameron. Recently even Superman, Dean Cain, has come under fire. The press rants about how crazy they are, when in reality, they are just good people, trying to live good lives, raising their families. Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) does some amazing work and she is belittled for her position on life. She goes the extra mile, traveling to countries to try and make a positive difference. Good movies are pulled from countries (“Unplanned” was once banned in Canada, for example) or theaters. When will be stop allowing this? When will the silent majority stopping being so silent? When we will join the “woke” movement of black voters who are leaving the Democrat party in droves? When will we say enough is enough? When will we take America back???

On the 4th of July this year, more than 700,000 people came out in Washington, D.C. to see the President, watch the fireworks, and celebrate America. That was just one city, on one particular day. If the proportion of voters represented on this day were to hit the voting booth in 2020, we can take America back. There were 700,000+ people there. Alyssa Milano is just 1 person. Just 1 person. Why is she more important than these citizens? She is not. She just has the cameras on her. We need to stop giving her the airtime and give it back to the people. We need to get America back to the time when we did not have to lock our doors, or feel the need to conceal carry a handgun to do the grocery shopping, or to allow our kids the freedom to walk to a city park and not have to worry they would be kidnapped or worse, sold. Back to when a baby was safe in its mother’s womb and shortly after birth. When life was protected fully. My Lord, America! Wake up! Stop allowing this to happen to a once amazing country. Stop being quiet. Stop watching TV and using it as your sole source of information. Get your collective backsides to the polling place on election day in 2020 to ensure America stays great. Elect good people to local offices. Elect good people to Congress! Stop expecting to change something you do nothing to affect. You cannot stay away from election days and expect everyone else to vote for you. Make your voices heard. Silence those who would do us harm by not supporting them. Take America back! Keep America great. We can do this. Think of states like Alaska, where I live. We are having elections results declared and winners announced before we have even left our workdays to vote. We should feel like “What’s the point?” or “Why bother; it’s already done!” and largely, many Alaskans have traditionally stayed home. But we hold great sway in borough and state politics, and this last cycle, changes were made for the better in Alaska. We need voters everywhere to vote!! We also need to ensure each vote is an honest vote, by registered, living, voters. If everyone owns their own vote (and you can ensure that with voter ID), takes pride in the privilege of voting, and votes their own way, we can win this thing. We can save America. But it takes sacrifice – it takes prayer and fasting – and then, it takes action! Please vote!!!!

He said to them, “This sort cannot come out by anything except by fasting and by prayer.” Mark 9:29