A Horse Named “Integrity”

My Facebook page was hacked and deleted this month, my computer was hijacked, and three women punched a restaurant hostess in New York over COVID requirements.  What?!  Talk about adding insult to injury and gas to fire! I think folks need something better to do… like go to work.  

 Integrity seems to be forgotten or not as important as it once was.  And we are battling so many different issues today; we need to scrape up as much integrity and honor as we possibly can find.

Materialism, corruption, and distrust have sickened us alongside COVID.  We should run them all out of town.  Aren’t we all tired of the bad guys?  Where is Sky King, The Lone Ranger, Wonder Woman, or Andy Griffith when we need them?  Where are the heroes who will save us from the hackers, the punchers, and the destroyers?  How do we fight this madness and mayhem?

Ride a white horse

The only way I know is to hop on a white horse, ride through town wearing our masks, and declare ‘Good’ is a good thing.  We could wave banners that read, “Integrity and respect are more valuable than a Gucci purse.” “The power of God is stronger than the power of any wicked politician in town.”

And after we ride through the streets, we must sit our children down and teach them a thing or two about kindness and emotional wealth.

Giving children everything they want without showing them how to give it away is a valuable lesson lost.  My mother showed me how to do just that on my birthday years ago.

I was turning seventeen, and the latest fashions could be found in fantastic Mansour’s department store in LaGrange, Georgia.   My birthday was around the corner, and I had seen a beautiful skirt that was quite expensive in their junior department.  I took Mom to show her exactly the gift I desired.  She nodded her head to the affirmative with a wry smile. I was confident that the skirt would be mine on my birthday morning.

Receiving more than a present

Sure enough, the box was wrapped in white paper with a beautiful yellow bow which I hurriedly ripped open.  There it was; the treasured wool tweed skirt.  I flung it out and up into the air.  When it landed, I realized it didn’t have a tag inside the waistband that said, “Villager.”  That was important to my teen brain because you had arrived if it was made by “Villager.”  I’m not sure where we were reaching, but it was presumed to be significant.

“Mom, did you remove the tag?” I asked, concerned.

“No, I didn’t.  Nor was I going to pay that much money for that skirt.  So, I went to Mansour’s, studied the skirt, bought the almost identical material, and made it for you.  Lynn, the beauty of the skirt is the gift, not the tag.”

I never forgot that lesson.  It’s not the labels, the wealth, or the power that defines us; it is how we behave, the trouble we go through for others and becoming examples of integrity.  We must ingrain our kids with such wisdom if they are to have the wherewithal to fight the punchers, hackers, and hijackers of tomorrow.

C. S. Lewis stated, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” 

Let’s ride

However, God is always watching.  He watched as Mom tediously toiled over a skirt just as a thief stole a dress from a department store.  He sees folks punch, corrupt politicians, hackers destroy, and children pitch a fit when they don’t get their candy or their way.

We all sin, and we all must answer to God.  No matter how bad the wrongdoing or how small, we answer.  Most of the time, I have found that we pay for our transgressions while we are still here on earth.  I know I have hurt myself many times for doing sinful things.  But, through the years, the only way to retrieve my integrity is to ask for God’s mercy. 

God urges us to remember the beauty is in the gift of life and what we decide to do with it.  Will we teach humility, show compassion, help others heal, respectfully lead, or do we sow sorrow or discord?  Who will we follow… the bully or the Godly? 

To turn it all around, we don’t need Sky King or Andy or Wonder Woman, but instead the power of God and each other.   Churches stand firm, people stand tall, parents stand proud and let’s scrap up integrity and put it back into our lives.

I need to go now to find a white horse for sale.  Will you ride with me?

Declaring War for Curtis

Curtis is walking toward his first day of middle school this year with his buds.     Curtis will notoriously spend a good bit of his time in the principal’s office for the comical excuses he invents for not doing his homework.   

Being an eleven-year-old, Curtis would rather watch a movie, pick on his little brother, Barry, and listen to music.  He is your typical American kid who resides with good parents and possesses a kind heart.

Curtis lives in the panes of a comic strip written by award-winning cartoonist Ray Billingsley.  Curtis’s shenanigans usually make me laugh because they remind me of my own preteen son years ago.  Today, however, Curtis made me cry.

As he and his friends near the school’s entrance, they notice two groups of adults shouting.   They are calling each other names, and it looks as if a physical fight will ensue.  Curtis runs toward the group, telling them to “STOP!” 

Who are the spoiled children?

The angry crowd notice him as they argue over COVID masks and mandates to the point, they are clenching their fists as their screams become nastier.  Finally, they look to Curtis to hopefully utter something profound to reinforce their side of the argument.  However, Curtis simply says,

“Children used to brag ‘bout their parents…… but not very often anymore.”

I recall when my son was Curtis’s age.  He played Little League baseball during most of his youth.  Occasionally, a parent would attack a coach or umpire over a call, and the words that spewed forth for all to hear were nothing short of abysmal. 

When we see parents in fistfights and public brawls while their young children watch, most of us want to crawl into a hole of shame.

Adults can become as spoiled children in a nanosecond and should be humiliated each time they do. When a parent loses common decency because of a desire to win, the only one who loses is the child.

Today, parents are fighting over masks and vaccines.  So, let’s say you don’t want your children to wear a mask in school.  What do you have to lose if your child is required to wear such monstrous attire?  You may say, “freedom.”   What do you have to lose if your child doesn’t wear a mask?”  Maybe his health or yours.   Face masks do not pose a wellness threat, but COVID certainly does.

Protecting our children is #1

We should have declared WAR when COVID began.  We marched to battle terrorism after we were attacked on September 11.  When Japan flew to our shores we declared war, yet COVID has killed more Americans than all who died in World War II.  Maybe if we had stated “WAR,” we would have joined to fight in the battle and win. 

We are not winning this war.  We are not united in battle.  Many have put personal ideology above America, its people, and the children they vow to protect.

What if a foreign enemy dropped a chemical weapon on our country and forced us into gas masks?  We wouldn’t think a thing about putting one of those on our kids to protect them, right?   

Yet, we fight in front of schools, in front of our children over a harmless mask. What?  Who are we, what have we become?  We all desire our children to have a free life.  We want them to be able to dream, play, and go where they would like. Because we are not consolidated to win this war, our actions are imprisoning us and them.    If we had simply done what was required to fight the enemy earlier, the war could have ended before another winter of discontent began.   

Exhausted from battle

Many Governors say, “People know what to do!”   No, they don’t.  If they did, this disease would not still be ravaging our lives, our sanity, and our ability to move on.  We have let politics literally kill us.  None of us should allow anyone to lead us into believing we are fighting for freedom when, in reality, we are actually fighting to live free from an enemy.

I’m sorry, folks, I’m tired.  I’m exhausted from worrying over my grandchildren.  Watching other’s suffer is frustratingly painful.  I’m tired of the screamers, mockers, and bullies using deplorable tactics to gain power or fame. I’m tired of watching nurses and doctors tirelessly giving their all while folks refuse to just do what is healing for all.  I am over folks exhibiting senseless acts of selfishness while professing patriotism.  Patriotism is joining our comrades in a war to fight our enemies, not each other. 

 Curtis lives in a colorful cartoon where a brush of an eraser can stop the madness of his world.   For the real little boy today, it will take much more.

What is the Price We will Pay?

What is the cost when we buy doses of “meanness?”  What is the price we pay when we fall prey to con artists and the contemptible?   Well, if we don’t know the price by now, it is hard to imagine we ever will.

I was always taught that the mean-spirited, the power mongers, the damage seekers, and bullies would fail in the end.  Dad always said those who climb the ladders to success using unsavory tactics might reach the top, but soon you would see them plummet as you slowly work your way honorably upward.  He always believed that evil could appear it is winning, but it can’t.   

Years ago, when I began teaching an adult Sunday school class, my minister said to me, “Now, Lynn, the minute you begin promoting the goodness of the Lord, evil will begin to attack you.  So, continually pray that you will recognize the touch of the wicked.”  I, like so many, often did not see the wicked in my ways.

A perplexing, sad situation

How many strong men and women who established mega-churches, led people to faith, and built an empire, lost it all due to their egos desiring more power?  There are too many to name.  Billy Graham was the only one I am aware of that saw the devil when he was around the corner ready to pounce. He understood the power of the wicked.  

Today, when I see leaders promoting fear, bullying, shouting, defiantly supporting extremes, I wonder if anyone else sees the wicked on their shoulders?  Why do we buy into the meanness and the insensitivity of these folks?  What does that say about us? 

The COVID situation in the world has brought out the worst among us.  We can’t get well because the power-hungry promote lies and, at the same time, cry for freedom from disease.  However, none of them want to work hard to end the very illness preventing our liberty.   How do those who promote ill-will to others gain followers?  It is not only perplexing but sad. 

A baby’s face tells the story

I caught a glimpse of a baby’s face in the paper the other day.  He probably was no more than nine months old.  His eyes were wide and filled with fear as a team of doctors was hovering over him. Tubes ran into his nose and taped onto his face.  His arms were fastened to a board where an IV needle ran liquid into his veins.  I don’t think I will ever forget his sweet, cherub, innocent face.   

Children with COVID are filling up pediatric hospitals at such an alarming rate that they will more than likely be at capacity by the time you read this.  The children’s cries are being drowned by the screams of meanness and the self-righteous.  We demand our “RIGHTS,” but at what cost?  Are we willing to kill and sicken our babies because we refuse to receive a vaccine or wear a mask because they could trample on our individual rights?  Does not the child have the right to avoid suffering?

Truth is sometimes hard to see because it reflects reality.  We don’t like it, but we must often shut our mouths, lay our politics down, turn off our favorite controversial podcast, or television talk show host, and view raw statistical facts.

The truth is that as of Labor Day, 4,580,020 people have died of this pandemic worldwide.  Of that total, 666,219 were Americans making our country the leader of death.   Cases are rising as we continue our battle over vaccines and masks. And now our children are paying the price.  

Don’t fall, keep climbing honorably

Donald Trump promoted Operation Warp Speed to obtain a vaccine to combat the brutality of COVID.  When he spoke at one of his rallies recently, his very supporters booed him when he asked folks to go get the vaccine.  What?!  I think if that tiny infant could have spoken to the crowd, the meanness would have booed him as well. 

Some of us are entirely off the charts with our lack of patience, respect, and inability to distinguish truth from fiction.  Some wanna-be famous folks believe we are so ignorant that we would follow a goat if the goat said what we wanted to hear. 

All I know for sure is that if we continue to pack stadiums with fans, not worry about vaccines or masks, not care about illness or death, or anything other than our “rights,” we are headed for a fall.   In the end, the one who will stand at the top of the ladder is a disease.  We allowed the wickedness of COVID, the power seekers and fear mongers to win as the rest of us fell to the ground in defeat while holding our children. 

Or are we tired of paying such a price?

Before We are Swept Away

The waters rose to epic proportions and swept away not only homes, businesses, and schools but lives.  As the sudden wrath of Mother Nature’s power rained havoc on a Tennessee community, families clung to each other, holding on for dear life, but sadly, for some, the water’s power claimed them.  And then the angels swept those souls to Heaven’s safe shores.

A few short hours before the mighty water rushed through the town’s streets, neighbors stopped to chat with the mother strolling her babies as they waved to Mr. Jones on the corner.  Children’s squeals filled the air as they chased a puppy in a nearby park. 

Little did they know, as they enjoyed their day, that it would be the last time they would see Mr. Jones.  The young mother couldn’t fathom it would be her final stroll with her twin babies or that the cute little pup would never be found. 

An idyllic American summer scene turned into a portrait of doom as a stalled weather system in the skies above rained death, drowning dreams, and destroying lives. 

The ‘uncertainty’ of life

A hurricane brewed in the sea, heading toward the Crescent City of New Orleans and the gulf coast.   On the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction, Ida was determined to create a mighty blow of epic proportions as well.  Residents, filled with fear and uncertainty, boarded homes and evacuated.  

Before Ida moved away, she flung much of Louisiana into darkness, overcrowded hospitals into chaos, homes into shells, and hope into despair.

Heartbreak, loss, death, and sorrow are a part of our lives.  We have had our fair share of them lately, but when their force comes out of the blue, out of our control, it seems to take our breath away. It wrings our emotions as we watch such horror.  Our belief in God and humanity is challenged.

We never know during every minute of our lives what another minute will bring.  Will we live another day to see our children? Will we still have a home tomorrow?  When will disease knock on our door or tragedy rush down our street?

“Bear one another’s burdens”

We spar over our differing views, fight over politics, and try to make others see whatever “it” is our way.  Perhaps, it is more important to view the plight of those who need us to look their way, hear their pleas, respond to their pain, and be abundantly grateful that we can. 

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”  Galatians 6: 2,3

The way I interpret those verses is those who have no empathy or understanding of other’s pain are not only not obeying a fundamental law of God, but they are nothing.

Selfishness needs to be blown away in the winds of destruction.  Our desire to control must give way to compassion.   We cannot heal unless we put our comfort aside to aid our neighbors.   God means it when He says we are nothing if we ignore others who suffer.  We should never turn a blind eye to pain.   To receive God’s blessings upon us all, we must share our blessings.  

To not succumb to spiritual blindness, we should probably lay down our political attitudes and open our eyes to see God’s attitude toward us.  We need to pause for a moment and think before we do nothing or cause further harm, “This could be me without a home.  Those tears could be mine if I lost my babies.  I could be the one in an ICU fighting for life.”

Heal our souls

We cannot control the devastation Mother Nature creates, but we can control the wrath we cause.

If we put on the cloak of compassion, we can cure a lot of ills.  We can give to those who have lost so much to help them back on their feet.  We can bless their children with a bed to lie on where they may dream again.  If we care about others, we will don our masks, get a vaccine, and end a devastating pandemic that is now beginning to harm our children.  

We will restore our souls if we open our eyes and contribute monetarily, physically, and spiritually to our suffering neighbors, the children who cry, and the exhausted medical teams who heal.  In doing so, we will build our faith in each other and God.

We will become better, not bitter, people before the angels sweep our souls to Heaven’s safe shores.  It is then we can look into the eyes of God without shame.  

Help others:

United Way of Humphreys County (Tennessee)

United Way of Southeast Louisiana