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

Trouble with a Capital T!

“Let not your hearts be troubled.”  John 14:1

Well, how many of you have troubled hearts right now?  Don’t all of you raise your hands at once because I cannot count that high!  Troubled souls seem as much like a daily staple as bread or salt. 

Devastatingly bad news swirls around us from every corner.  Terrorists take over a country, causing folks to flee their homeland with only a small bag – if they are so lucky.  COVID patients, gasping for air, are filling hospitals.  Throw in the earthquakes, fires, floods, and foolish folks, and we have a genuine bag full of trouble with a capital T.

 We watch in horror those who attempt to give their children to strangers rather than the child be raised under Taliban rule in Afghanistan.  A baby was hoisted up to an American soldier with trust that he would give the child refuge.  Luckily the family was reunited, but what a chance the parents took!

 We cry for humanitarian aid and help because their misery touches our hearts.  And, yes, such despair is horrendous.

Defiance or freedom?

After watching the evening news regarding the Afghanistan crisis, the news anchor began to report on the COVID outbreaks in America.  Exhaustion plagues hospital staffs as they try to save lives. Death rates are climbing while children are filling pediatric wards.  

 A protesting woman was interviewed on the street, “Ma’am, are you vaccinated against the virus?” the reporter asked.

“No, and I don’t believe in masks either!” She defiantly answered. 

That got me thinking…… If we sent all those who refuse to help the humanitarian crisis in this country to Afghanistan to be forced to wear burka’s 24/7, I wonder if they would change their minds?

However, there is a sense of sadness regarding the protesting lady.  She may consider she is right in her beliefs, but what is she willing to sacrifice for her rights?  Is she ready to expose her child to a disease that could kill her precious one, or hand that child up to safety because she loved her?

The least we can do

If you are not vaccinated, wearing a mask is the least you can do for the humanitarian crises here.  How hard is that in the scope of things?  Our personal freedoms in this country are meaningless if we care nothing for those who have taken all precautions to heal our land or those overworked health care workers trying to heal our sick.    

These die-hard anti maskers and anti-everything folks call themselves proud Americans.  I don’t.  I don’t like wearing masks either, but by gosh, I will do my part to save my American neighbors from a disease that has caused so much damage and trouble with a capital T.   

Please excuse me if I stepped on anyone’s free toes, but seriously?  Sometimes when in deep trouble, we need to eat crow, do things we don’t like and do whatever it takes to better the world for all. 

It amazes me how those who will fight for their individual rights miss the point.  How do we enjoy freedom if we are not free of COVID?   None of us will be less troubled if we don’t trouble ourselves to care for each other’s right to simply live.

It’s worth a try

My friends tell me, “Lynn, don’t write about things that may cause you trouble.”  They say so because they know I am sensitive and get my feelings hurt over negative criticism. (It is a flaw for sure.)  But you know what, perhaps the meek need to speak up to counter those who cause harmful trouble.  Will I change anyone’s minds? Probably not, but it’s worth a try.

Trouble comes into our lives all the time.  When the Great Depression befell our country soon after the Spanish Flu ravaged our land, there is one thing American citizens did…. they helped each other.  If you had extra eggs, then you shared them with your neighbor. If a friend fell ill, neighbors were there to aid their healing.  During World War II, those same people endured the hell of loss and battle as one proud land in a terrible time of trouble.

This is the spirit we are missing now.  Our battles are between neighbors, liberals vs. conservatives, the anti’s vs. the for’s, the truth vs. conspiracy.   We are blinded by our shouting defiance while the son of God calmly whispers, “Let not your hearts be troubled.”  “Trust me, love one another as I love you.”

With God’s help, we must remember that we can reduce our defiance, save the child, put our self-interest on the shelf, and lift our loved ones and our country to safety.  That is where we will find our refuge and ultimate freedom.

Gather Our Slings and Stones

What good do mere words do during seemingly giant-sized tribulations?  I am sure David thought such when he faced Goliath with his sling.  “How are these five pebbles going to stop such a giant beast?”

This morning COVID is again claiming victims and filling hospitals across the nation.  Medical teams are again working exhaustingly long hours trying to save lives through their sheer skill and determination while the rest of us fight over masks and vaccines. 

Fires are raging, heatwaves scorch the earth, violence roams through our cities, while earthquakes, hurricanes, and terrorists continue to destroy globally.  And that is just today’s news.  What about tomorrow? How much more disaster can we handle? 

The beast has risen.  That old Goliath is back, and we need to obtain heavy-duty slingshots and gather some very smooth stones from the river. However, how in the world do we tame this enormous giant with such rudimentary weaponry?  How did David, who was such a small boy, stop Goliath? 

A story of Courage and Faith

The story of David and Goliath in the Bible is a lesson of courage and faith in overcoming what seems, at first, to be an impossible task.  David slew the giant because of trusting God to aid him.  Even though he was small,  David’s enormous faith gave him the accuracy and power to defeat the enemy.

If we become determined to find the stones needed, we can slay the beast.  Love, courage, faith, dignity, and compassion are the smooth weapons we must use to topple the giant. We cannot do it alone, and we cannot do this monumental task divided. 

We, as a nation, should no longer blame politics for all our misfortunes.  All of us should not rebuke anyone other than ourselves for our loss of dignity.   When I watch or hear or read about folks fighting over the virus because of a political stance, I am befuddled. I wonder if they have lost every grain of love, compassion, common sense, and character they ever possessed.

When we see violence and murders rise, I wonder how or why those who promote such evil lost love for life and one another.  When I witness the devastation of Mother Nature across the earth, I often think, what if God has walked away, given up, because we abandoned him as proven by our actions.

Time to use our faith

For those who have faith in a Mighty God, it is now the time to use it.  Let’s pick up our individual stone and remember in all things, in all our words and actions, ask ourselves, “Is this helpful, is this truth, is this God’s way?”  If so, then cast your weapon toward the giant.  Remember, it is more important to adhere to God’s laws than our personal ideologies.

The Godly must not sit down in battle.  They must put on the armor of God, wear the belt of truth, and stand firm. 

How can we love when we spread and encourage distrust and hatred?  Love must rise above the evil, or we will not slay the beast.  We will not.  If we hoard anger, resentment, and mistrust of all things, we will die by the hand of darkness.  How many times and ways has God said those words in the Bible?   If one cannot let hatred go for the good of all mankind, then our weapons are useless, and the giant is victorious.

A soldiers honor

Dignity, honor, and courage are the backbone of a soldier.  I recently have been the invited guest speaker for several groups of Vietnam Veterans. If you want to view honor and be humbled, go see them.  The beauty of their courage will take your breath away.  It is the bravery of the soldier that gives our America dignity.  These honorable men and women who served our ENTIRE country deserve for us to show the same respect for each other as they did for their fellow warriors amid a brutal, nasty war. 

These veterans understand the pebble of courage like no others, and they can teach us all how to throw the stone not only of bravery but of dignity. 

We can do nothing without the power of God.  We are nothing without him.  Our politics, presumed intelligence, self-righteousness, goodness, honor, friends, families, personal rights, and nation are nothing and absolutely meaningless if God walks away.   The beast wins it all.

 David knew he needed the power of God, and that is how the stone of faith killed the giant.  And that is how we will as well if we band together as an army of honorable soldiers casting our stones toward Goliath.  He cannot continue to stand against such weaponry.  

Do we want to cast stones toward the beast and win or continue to cast our stones toward each other and lose it all? 

Life’s Most Crucial Words

A few short phrases in life can move mountains, shape our destiny, and cure ills:  “I love you.” “I’m sorry. “Dear God…”  These few utterances spoken at various times can change minds and hearts everywhere.   They are the essential words for experiencing a good life and are vitally important to us all. 

Probably the first sentence we recall as a child was when our parents whispered, “I love you.”  We thrive on love from the beginning to the end of our lives.  Love is a blessing given to us, and we return it to those we feel deep abiding affection.

I have found that love never dies.  One can feel profound appreciation for another long after they have gone away. When love wounds us, sometimes we wish to retaliate, return the hurt, and hold on to resentment.  However, those actions only deepen the pain and inhibit us from moving on.   

“Is it better to love and lose than to never love at all?”  Of course.  

Difficult words to say

When we cannot say “I’m sorry” to those we hurt, we need to rethink our thinking.  Forgiveness is a two-way street.  The good Lord explains that very clearly in the Bible when he says, “Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, he will not forgive you.”  Matthew 6:14 

We learn as children, “I’m sorry” is challenging to say.   Even when we know we did grievous wrongdoing, something within us hates to admit we erred.  Sometimes, it is just denial or misplaced stubbornness, but boy, is it necessary.  There is a multitude of problematic issues that could be solved by simply asking for forgiveness.

Harboring anger, guilt, and hatred only damages us.  When we can’t forgive others or ask for forgiveness, we will never experience peace. 

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”  Theologian Lewis B. Smedes sure got that right! 

Love and forgiveness go hand in hand…  and they are supposed to.  If you really think about it, can love flourish without mercy?  The greatest love given to us was when God sent His son to show us the way.  And, in the final hour of Christ’s life, the son asked his father, “Forgive them…….”

He is the center of life

 “Dear God….”  When we pray those words, we seek guidance, pardon, help, strength, and comfort.  God hears our plea when we fall on our knees, and we are reminded that He is the center of life.

As humans, we can complicate the heck out of anything.  We can make life a mess by the mistakes we make, the overthinking or underthinking we do, and the choices we make.   We often put success, money, and even our politics above the quintessential fundamentals of life.  

Years ago, when my oldest child was about five, we were shopping in the local grocery store. Her baby brother was in the grocery cart,  and her toddler sister held my hand as Amy tagged behind us.   She was a bright precocious little girl with a headful of curls, and her dark brown eyes twinkled with a bit of mischief that I understood well.   

I looked back toward her and noticed her chewing so much gum that she was drooling!  “Where did you get all that gum?”  I exclaimed in shock. 

“I fount it.”  She mumbled as she looked toward the ground.

“Just where did you “fount” it?”  I mockingly replied.

 When her guilt began to spew forth in multitudes of bubbles, I knew she took it without permission from the shelf.  She had opened the pack and stuffed all five pieces in her little mouth, thinking no one would notice.

“Well, Amy, after you spit out your thievery, we must go tell the manager what you have done.”

The manager was a big man (I mean huge).  I made this downtrodden little girl go tell him the truth of her stealing ways.  Let me say this, that child learned to say, “I’m sorry” very quickly, and I realized that love is teaching them how to do so.  Later that night, Amy began to understand that it all is made better after she knelt beside her bed to say her prayers, “Dear God…..”

So, isn’t it true, all these words bind together to form life’s most crucial opening sentence:  Dear God, I love you, and I’m sorry for…..

Ignoring His Eyes Upon Us

My freedom, my rights, my choices!”  My, my, my, how many times have we heard those expressions!   “You can’t make me do something I don’t want to do!”  Well, folks, we have a bunch of people saying such words to excuse some inexcusable actions.

We have read some mighty nasty headlines lately about personal freedom. “FLIGHT ATTENDANT PUNCHED IN THE FACE!”  “MOM’S PUSH AND YELL WHILE CHILDREN WATCH” “CROWD APPLAUDS WHEN TOLD AMERICA WOULD NOT MEET VACCINATION GOALS!”

Most of the behavior making the news involves COVID vaccinations and mask-wearing.  “I ain’t wearin’ no mask!”  “That pandemic is a hoax! No shot for me!”

The problem we have right now is with the word “I.”  Those who think only in terms of “me” consider they are the rightful keepers of the universe.  They believe their political agenda comes before all rules of decorum, kindness, understanding, and empathy. 

“Me only” never works

Fires are consuming forests, homes, and towns in the West.  Floods are rushing through villages and taking lives with them.  Heat is scorching the earth while a virus continues to run rampant and mutate.   

“Well, MY home isn’t burning.  MY children didn’t perish in the floods, and MY garden is blooming, so what am I to do about other’s sorrows? Miss Delta Variant can’t get me because I am not old or have an underlying condition.”  ME, ME, MY, MY, I, I. 

The problem with the “Me Only” attitude is it will never work.  It’s not meant to because God will not allow it.   Sometimes I imagine if God sees one more act of violence or selfish behavior in the name of personal freedom, He might set us all free, move away or let the fires and floods consume the earth.

We are supposed to follow and adhere to God’s laws to understand freedom is a beautiful, bountiful gift.  Or do His rules take a back seat to how we individually perceive the laws of our land? 

The Bible is full of words regarding love, compassion, and peace.  It’s all there in black, white, and red.  How easy it is to forget those declarations when our earthly intellects get engaged.

Yes, often, that “Love one another as I love you” commandment just flies away on the unnoticed peace dove.

Hundreds of Bible verses

 How many folks spew hate on social media, spread lies, punch someone in the gut, and then go to church on Sunday and pray for the world.  What a shining example of Godliness we become with hypocrisy as a philosophy. 

The truth is we cannot heal anything until we take away self-centered, self-righteous, unkind ways. 

“For dear brothers, you have been given freedom: not freedom to do wrong, but freedom to love and serve each other.”  Galatians 5: 13

That Bible verse is just one of a few hundred or more that speak of loving and serving one another as children of God.  Yet, we often replace God with our version of “Me.”

We are the land of the free.  OUR land belongs to all, not just one person or one organization.  What we do as a majority provides freedom for all.  If you do not wish to get a life-saving vaccine because you have an underlying condition, are not well informed, or waiting on full FDA approval, I understand.  However, if you are not being vaccinated because of political reasons or feel your personal freedom is being violated, you just crossed the line.

Life, liberty, and happiness is ours

When this country asks all to continue wearing masks,  our hospitals become overburdened once again, businesses shutter, and children cannot return to school, then your personal freedom just stomped on my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The amount of unkind, and harmful language spread from social and news media is disheartening and infuriating at the same time.  I am sure God feels his messages seem lost or misused. When he watches those who pull their guns to kill, those who use hate to gain fame,  those who incite discord and spread untruths, I am sure He cries. 

He granted us a land where freedom reigns.  God sent His son to tell us to love one another, be each other’s keepers, and watch for evil.  He provides us instructions, and give us free will to make choices.  Not just decisions for you, but for the good of all. 

God is watching how many times we use the word “Me.”   When we think only of ourselves and not others, we are ignoring His eyes upon us.  As the floods rise, the fires rage, and His people die, I believe we might want to turn and gaze upon the face of God and dry His tears with our actions.

Our Children are America’s Tomorrow

“Grandma, why do your hands look like that?”  She asked as she held my hand and pointed to all the freckles and visible veins.  “Well, honey, unlike you, I have light, fair skin, which often comes with freckles and veins.”

I decided that was the best answer to give a five-year-old, but she kept the conversation going.  “Grandma, why do I not have freckles?”

“Well, your Italian skin is like your grandfather’s and mothers.  It is a bit darker and prettier than my old spotted mess. There are all different types of skin, just like there are all different colors of eyes.  Right?” 

Carter nodded her head in agreement and declared, “ I have two really good friends in my class, and their skin is brown.  Very dark, but pretty, and they don’t have freckles.”

“Oh, and they are just like you, aren’t they?”  I questioned.

“Yeah, Grandma, but one is taller!”

I decided at that point that precious five-year-old babes should rule the world.

We are born innocent

We are all born innocent, and each year that passes, we begin a descent into guilt and blame.  Our parents’ philosophies become established in our minds because, as a child, we believed our moms and dads were always “right.” 

And, in the living rooms of homes everywhere, right there is where we learn to not only love but hate. 

As parents, we pass down our disdain for others in our speech and our interactions with those around us. Our young one’s watch, listen, and learn from us. They sense every emotion and study each act of judgmental behavior.  Our character is built on the values parents hold dear.  If I was taught to hate, judge, never apologize and believe I was better than others, then I would become a wretched person making others miserable.

Also, if I was a child of a parent who did not teach me self-discipline, education was essential, and that crime was wrong…. I would probably be lost, dead, or in prison somewhere.

Lessons we teach our children

Most all good parents strive and work to provide for their children.  We teach them to win, but we often don’t offer lessons on how to lose.  We constantly tell our children they are special, but do we teach them that others are as well?  Are we showing our children that people come in all sizes, shapes, and colors, but the heart of a person is what lies inside?

Sometimes adults are just dumb. We worry and spew anger regarding America’s future, but without virtuous, honorable citizens of our future country, what good is the nation?  

Our children are our country’s tomorrow.  We must convince them that “character” is more important than power.  That a person’s soul is what colors them beautiful.  It is our responsibility to inform our children about faith and belief in a power higher than ourselves.  We must teach them that succeeding here is not as important as winning the favor of God.  And that we steadfastly believe bigotry, bullying, and disrespect for others should never be applauded by anyone.   

Ok, I know I am on a soapbox, but some folks need to clean up their act with a bit of integrity soap.  Let us try to show that goodness counts and not allow those who love to hate to be in the spotlight.  

Character absolutely matters

That little five-year-old who thinks that all colors and varieties of folks are beautiful and unique deserves a world that believes it too.  Our children require a place to grow with less violence so they may live to the potential God planned for them.  They should value their freedom, respect others, and cherish life.  All children should have the opportunity to flourish and spread the seeds of peace and hope, not wrath and fear.   And, it all begins in their homes where their parents teach them the meaning of values.

We cannot tell our children not to bully and then applaud a bully.  We cannot teach our little ones not to lie while we spread untruths.  How can we say to our children all men are created equal if we are bigots?  Perhaps, our character should become more like the wise, innocent five-year-olds.  If so, we can rise above our lower selves, diminish the sounds of discord, and give hope to children everywhere.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”   Martin Luther King.

  My skin is fair with a mess of freckles, but my dream for our children is the same.  Character is what matters.

My Name is “Old Glory”

As my cousin drove his ATV over the Tennessee hills and green pastures to show me his farm on a recent visit, I could see from afar our American flag flying high above the main house.  It was as if the banner owned the sprawling land below and she waved her stripes declaring so. 

 God’s lush acres encased by an azure sky dotted proudly with the red, white, and blue depicted a picture-perfect Americana post-card.

Once we arrived back at the house, I looked toward the banner high atop the flagpole.  Old Glory’s ends were frayed and worn, her stripes a bit faded, but she continued to valiantly wave. 

“Yes, I need to purchase a new flag. This one is about worn out.”  My cousin stated as he, too, noticed her. 

The perfect flag

Old Glory appeared oddly perfect to me because she reflected America today.  A bit worn, faded, frazzled, and dazed from turmoil.  Her nation has suffered from disease, violence, political unrest, and loss for months.  But she has seen it all before during her lifetime of being America’s symbol of liberty.  And even though she is tired, she continues to remind us just where we are and who she is.

Her blood-stained stars and stripes were hoisted by soldiers to proclaim victory against her enemies throughout her history.  She proudly stood when all her people were freed from slavery.  Old Glory marched with women when they demanded their right to vote.  She lowered her colors when Presidents were assassinated, and heroes perished.  She sadly laid across coffins that held the remains of those who died for her to remain standing.

Our flag flies high above our government buildings, reminding those inside to continually work to maintain her glorious land.   Some people treated her with disrespect and even burned her, but she rose again from the ashes.

Old Glory never gives up, she never gives in, and she, who represents all that is good about America, waves her tattered cloth to remind us that we must battle to save her.

We must not self-destruct

Abraham Lincoln proclaimed, “America will never be destroyed from the outside.  If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

If we self-destruct, there will be no more freedom nor honor, and the red, white, and blue will fall to the earth in shreds.   

Selfishness, apathy, lack of respect, and extremism will end America.  They have battered us these last few years.  Recently, personal ideologies often replaced cohesive, healing behavior, thus costing us lives and livelihoods.

When we no longer care about the whole of our nation, we will no longer have the right to voice our personal ideologies.

Bullying and lack of respect for others should and will rip Old Glory to threads.  America was based on a belief in God.  God might believe we no longer deserve our abundant country if hurting one another with foul words and violent conduct becomes a norm.

The extreme far-right and left of our government and the radical behavior of self-interest groups are splitting our country apart.  The flag represents over 330 million Americans. And most understand a productive government is in the ‘middle’ where we find compromise and solutions.  We cannot stand on divided land, or we fall into the abyss it creates.

Be what Old Glory represents

Unfortunately, some believe America is finished. Well, I am not one of them.  I love this country, its people, and the God who gave her to us.  We must pull together and not lose our nation.  Those who attempt to divide us should remember that our heritage was built on courage.  They, who precariously traveled across the seas to an unknown world, did so to escape persecution, famine, and lack of hope. 

It is here where they fought to keep dreams alive and have the freedom to see them come true. They toiled the earth, built communities, braved the elements, and cherished America.  They sent their children to war, begged for innovative medicines to keep their families from succumbing to smallpox, polio, and countless unforgiving diseases.  Their courage and sacrifice gave us all that we enjoy today.  That alone should force us to stop our oft-inane behavior.

We cannot destroy ourselves.  We are a priceless free nation.  Old Glory represents a battered and bruised land, but we will become the healers to repair her.  With our help, she will continue to proudly wave over our hills and homes so that her stripes and stars can always be seen from afar.

We must endeavor to be what our flag represents; a will to never give up and bravely stand tall even though the winds from storms may fray us.

Salute the Vietnam Warriors

While recently thumbing through my old Tennessee and Georgia high school yearbooks, tears pooled in my eyes.  Yes, they were all there, young men with hope in their eyes and their youth on the edge of disappearing. I wonder what they would have accomplished in their lives if they had the promise of a future.

 Would they laugh as I do at the silly antics of a grandchild?  Would they still possess the impish grin the camera caught in the 60s? Maybe Howard would have made it onto the big screen with his good looks.  Perhaps Bobby would be a renowned physician today, and Larry would have climbed up the ranks in his beloved army before retiring to Florida. 

However, the maybe’s left when they all boarded a military bus to serve our nation while a war escalated in Vietnam.  They, like so many, returned only to be laid to rest in their hometown cemeteries before they had a chance to see what could have been.

Bearing a scar

These young men joined the service as so many do to become soldiers of war.  They are the elite among us who, I believe, God anoints with an extra dose or more of courage.  These soldiers go blindly into battle to defend the land they love.  They steadfastly look out for each other and often give their lives to save their comrades.

The Vietnam warriors were no different in character and honor as those who bravely fought for our Independence.  They held the same gritty spirit as those who battled before them in the Revolutionary War or World War I and II, as well as all other conflicts.  Thousands of soldiers have responded to the call to serve, but the warriors of Vietnam bear a scar.

By the time our troops were pulled from Vietnam in 1973, over 52,000 young soldiers had perished.  Between 1964 and 1975, 2,709,918 men and women wore an American military uniform in Nam.  240 of them were awarded the Medal of Honor as Bobby Ray was for saving many lives, except his own. Of those killed in combat, 61% were younger than 21. Just out of school, just beginning to dream, just starting a future.   

Also, in 1973, America’s electorate was deeply divided, and some say the military was demoralized.  So, for those who returned from the rice paddies and trenches, ships, the skies, and prisons of Vietnam, there were no homecoming parades or bands of screaming, happy folks in Times Square to greet them. Instead, Vietnam was simply over for America.

Never blame the warrior

Today, those fallen Vietnam soldiers are immortalized on a wall in Washington, D.C.  For those who lost friends or loved ones whose names are etched in this wall, the war is not forgotten, nor is the sacrifice.   We are the older generation now, and our young faces are alongside those in the yearbooks who remain ageless. 

Today, 610,000 courageous Vietnam Veterans are still walking among us.  Of those who risked their lives in Southeast Asia, 97% were honorable discharged even though many were drafted for service.

Even after hearing countless stories of the heroism and bravery shown by our American troops during the second-longest war in our history, they returned home to be treated harshly by many for just doing what they were asked to do. Unfortunately, this response created a loss of self-esteem and grief for many young soldiers, leading to future deep-seated problems.  

Our worst divisive behavior is the scar of Vietnam.  The wound was not caused by the soldiers.  The injury was inflicted by the free citizens who remained on American soil that turned their anger toward those sent to battle.  

We can fairly charge those in government or politics for most anything but not the bravest, best, and the most elite among us. So we should never blame the warrior, nor the ones who suffer and give the most.  Nor the over 150,000 who were wounded in Vietnam, or the prisoners of war, or those missing in action.

Take the time to notice the brave soldiers

I look into the eyes of my framed Vietnamese doll my brother sent me in 1965.  She has my POW/MIA bracelet around her waist to remember another pilot whose remains were finally located a few years ago.   My brother lived until 1998, but his time spent in Vietnam was always fresh in his heart.  I, too, vow to honor those who gave so much to receive so little.  

Memorial Days will come and go, but this year stop for a moment, look around, and notice the brave soldiers of long ago and celebrate them.

Maybe it will help heal the scar a divided nation caused and remind us never to produce such a wound again.  

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.  Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”  General George S. Patton, Jr.

The Music Just Beyond the Doors

Years ago, shortly before my mother passed away, she described a vivid dream she experienced one night that prepared us both for what was to come.   

In the Tennessee mountain town where she and I were born, the vacant old Imperial Hotel stands frozen in time as if passing years dare to touch it.  The brick three-story building next to the train depot was built in 1909.  Weary rail passengers would spend the night, enjoy a good meal, and feel the cool air as it whirled around the mountain.  The Imperial boasted 30 rooms and indoor plumbing, which in 1909 was quite extraordinary in the hills of Tennessee.    

When I was a small child, the old hotel was a magical place where I could imagine myself as a traveler on the Tennessee railway or attending a gala in the main ballroom.  However, in the late 50s, the passenger trains discontinued their service to stop at the depot just below the hotel. As a result, the Imperial closed its doors to guests, and silence filled the halls.   

The once-thriving resort town and tourist destination withered.  All other inns and hotels succumbed to the ravages of time.  But the Imperial still stands today determined not to be forgotten.  It is as if she is still waiting to greet her visitors when they walk through her doors once again.

The dream

“Lynn, I dreamed I was at the Imperial last night.  I stood in the foyer hall alone, and the doors to the ballroom were locked.  A band was playing and people were laughing as if they were attending a fine party.  I wanted to join them, so I knocked and then banged on the old wooden doors.  The noise inside grew louder, and my attempts to be heard were useless.  I begin to weep with frustration because I desperately desired to see everyone, but I could not.  I woke up this morning with the dream still fresh and to find my pillowcase was damp with tears.  So strange.”  Mom declared after detailing her dream.

When Mother passed away a few months later, we took her home to the little mountain town to rest beside Dad.  A day after the service, I drove toward the Imperial and wondered if I could somehow get inside.  After parking my car, I found, to my surprise, the front door was unlocked, and I discovered I was alone in the foyer. 

Wooden doors were open to reveal a large room perfect for hosting a huge celebration complete with a band. But, unfortunately, the hotel was void of sound. Yet, I could feel the beat of the music as I envisioned my parents dancing as they always loved to do.

The unwritten messages

While standing among the spirits still alive in the Imperial, I understood how Mom’s dream prepared us for her departure from this world.  In the end, Mother was ready to join the others who await her just beyond the doors to eternity.  Her frustration was over.

We receive images and messages of eternal life all the time.  Either we decide to pay attention to them or ignore them completely.  Usually, when we don’t trust what we hear or see, we deem ourselves more intelligent than the Divine, causing us to not be very intelligent.  

People call such events everything from God-Winks to bizarre coincidences to hogwash, but I call them gifts.  Precious connections to unite us with God and those we have lost from this life.  They remind me of a small present tied with a satin ribbon.  Once you untie the bow, the box reveals glimpses of forever.

Listen with your soul

Today, the depot near the hotel is now a museum run by its cultural administrator, a young man new to the area.  Mr. Cleary fell in love with the town’s history and the under 3000 people who call Monterey, Tennessee, home.   I met him for the first time when I visited a few weeks ago. 

He had just purchased his first house.  “Where is your new home?” I asked.  After a brief conversation, I knew exactly where it was. It was the house where I was born.

 I looked up to the hill just beyond the depot to the old brick Imperial and smiled.  There is no music flowing from the rooms, nor sounds of laughter, nor trains that stop to deboard weary travelers seeking rest.  Yet somehow, the magic that makes life whirl like the wind in the mountains reminds me that we all remain connected to the past, to those we love, and not even death can stop the dance.

Sometimes, when we are caught up in the noise of life, it is vitally important to become quiet and listen to the music just beyond the doors.

WELCOME!

Welcome to my new site! Here you will find stories, both old favorites and new ones which I will change often. I will also write a post when something strikes me or I need to share important news.

You can send me a note, a question, or a request. I would love to hear from you!

In the meantime, keep reading, be inspiring, and change the world with kindness.

Blessings,

Lynn