Just Don’t Close Your Eyes!

A funny thing happened on the way to writing stories, columns, and books…. I saw God winking.   Author Squire Rushnell explains, “A God Wink is described as a personal signal or message, directly from a higher power, usually, but not always, in the form of a coincidence.”

The trick to noticing God winking is to not close your eyes! I mean, how can you see a wink if you aren’t looking, right?

I have mentioned this God Wink briefly in a story long ago, but it bears repeating.

When my friend Ricki was about to turn a significant age, we surprised her with an all-girlfriends party at my home.  It was a rowdy crowd full of fun and playfulness celebrating a girl who is quite full of her own feistiness.  Ricki always believes in creating bucket lists.  If she has a goal, she writes it down, throws it in a bucket, and achieves it.

We played a game that evening where every guest was instructed to write down a personal goal but not sign their name.  Then when each was read aloud, the cheerful girls needed to guess who wrote it.  Some were funny, some were serious, and as I began to read each one, I realized I had not put my own bucket list item in the bucket! Yikes!

Oops!

I quickly got a notepad and started to write, “I would like to travel across the country once more.”  But suddenly, as if someone else took my hand, I wrote, “Write for newspapers and stay alive!”

I immediately thought as I read it to the group, “Why in the world did I pen such words?” 

That was July 13, 2015.  My first column was published three months later. 

I knew I would like to write one day many years ago but never thought it would be for newspapers, so God wrote it down for me.   Ricki saved the note, framed it, and gave it to me as a gift five years later.  

God winks at us all the time.  Often, I will write a column and wonder, “Now, what inspired that idea for a story?” Or, “Why am I writing about this or that?”  Then after it is published, a reader will send an email explaining how much the column helped them on the particular day it was publish.

He is always there

The older I become, the more I understand the presence of God is found in the small stuff and everyday places.  He looms large and is hovering over us as we walk through each day.  He is not just there in the middle of struggles, or devastation, or tragedy but will even attend a rowdy girl’s party if need be.

God stands in the middle of the fights over politics or parking spaces.  He is with us in our offices, at ballgames, and attends our backyard barbeques.  Sometimes we just need to stop the yelling, look away from the computer or the ballgame, and offer God a hamburger at the barbeque. He is waiting to be noticed, and if we do, we will be inspired to do what he asks of us.

We all have a problem with our attention span.  We are so distractable it is ridiculous.  How often did you tell your children to “Pay attention!” After raising three children, it became a motto at our house.  But the truth is, it does not just apply to our children, but to all God’s children. 

A walk on the beach

Years ago, a significant relationship ended, and before going to bed one evening, I cried crocodile tears over the loss of someone I hoped would be a life partner.  That evening I dreamed I was walking on a sandy beach with Jesus by my side.  The beach was crowded with couples and happy folks.  The Lord pointed to them as we strolled near the water’s edge. 

“Why are you showing me these happy people when I am so sad?” I asked.  He didn’t say a word but instead pointed to a gentleman walking toward us.  I couldn’t see the man’s face but noticed that he wore a beautiful wristwatch.  Just before the Lord disappeared across the ocean, he turned and spoke, “Lynn, look for the watch.”

I awoke, remembered the dream, but dismissed it as strange.  I had almost forgotten the vision when I met a man a few years later.  He and I began a conversation when suddenly, I noticed his wrist and said, “Your watch is beautiful.” “Thank you,” he responded, “I love watches!” I married him two years later.

God’s winks are even in dreams if we pay attention.  You see, God is there to help us through all things, big and small. The secret is…..  just don’t close your eyes.

Angels in Lab Coats

I despise COVID for many reasons.   It kills, maims, harms, and destroys, but we can radically alter its ability to do so if we collectively try.  So many other diseases do not come with such an option.

October is breast cancer awareness month. Typically, pink surrounds fall’s colors, reminding us of the disease that will claim an estimated 43,600 women and men this year.  Lung cancer will claim approximately 131,880 in 2021. Cancer, heart disease, and other catastrophic illnesses have no vaccine available to stop their killing tenacles. All we have is science, research, and medicines that ease and reduce the horror of them all. 

700,000 Americans have died from COVID in less than two years.  Science created a way to curb the sting of its death, but some folks listen only to what they want to hear concerning preventing loss and debilitating illness from COVID.   A percentage of people are afraid of the unknown, the uncertainty, or the science.

People may claim many reasons for not receiving the COVID vaccine, some of which are valid.  However, one is that the vaccine did not go through many years of research before it was approved.  Have they multiplied 4.8 million (worldwide) by all those years? Obviously, time was an issue.

An Angel

 Dennis Joseph Slamon, born in 1948, is the son of a coal miner from New Castle, Pennsylvania. Dennis was obviously a very bright young man who graduated from Washington and Jefferson College and pursued his dream to become a physician in the field of oncology. He later continued his education and received a Ph.D. in cell biology. Today, Dr. Dennis J. Slamon is a researcher, a scientist, a physician, and an angel. Sometimes God can select a person from the humblest beginnings and bless them with the ability to move a mountain, solve world problems, or save countless lives. 

In a short version of a long story, Dr. Slamon could not understand why 30% of women with the same type of breast cancer in the same stage died at an alarmingly faster rate than others.  Why were some breast cancers more aggressive? Accompanied by other research teams, he discovered a protein attached to a cancer cell they would later call “Her-2.”  Once they found that Her-2 caused breast cancer to become aggressive, Dr. Slamon, Genentech Research, and other scientists doggedly pursued a way to develop a medicine to save lives. 

The drug, Herceptin, was first given to breast cancer patients with the Her-2 protein in 1998.  Today approximately 3 million women have been treated with Herceptin.  Before developing this drug, these women who carried the deadly Her-2 protein had a life expectancy of no more than five years.   Three million women continue to be mothers, grandmothers, wives, sisters, and aunts because of scientists, a physician, and a drug. 

Don’t tell me to ignore science

Don’t tell me to ignore science.   I am offended when I receive a conspiracy-laced email encouraging me not to trust doctors, researchers, or medicine.  If Dr. Slamon had not sat in his UCLA lab determined to end as much death, pain, and heartache as he possibly could, then my child would not be here today.  

Yes, drugs can create problems and side effects, and no medicine is assured of a permanent fix without issues.  But when one is viewing death, one must take the chance.  When we face debilitating diseases, most of us will try anything to live on because perhaps we have more to do and continue to care for those we love.  

Without science and technology, many of us would not be here.  My grandfather would have lived longer if bypass surgery was an option.  My friend would not be crippled from polio if the Salk vaccine had been available to her earlier.   Typhoid, diphtheria, smallpox, measles, whooping cough claimed so many, but science and research proved that it could tame or eradicate the killing tentacles of many diseases. 

Miraculous cure

Today 700,000 Americans are in graves, and we still have some who don’t trust those sent to save our lives.  People are afraid of the reactions and risks. What drug doesn’t come with side effects? I don’t know of one.  I know that Herceptin, with its known long-term side effects, continues to give women a chance to raise their children, to live longer, to flourish without fear of death at any moment.

Yes, don’t tell me not to listen to science.

For so many, medicine is all they have available to live another day.  Sometimes angels are disguised in lab coats, and they often will look through a microscope and miraculously discover a cure.

I thank God every day for them.  And you should too. 

Our Last Harvest Moon

She sat in a rocking chair on an outdoor balcony gazing at the twinkling stars splashed across the sky. A bright, large October Harvest Moon cast a warm glow of light around her. The white caps of the ocean waves gently kissed the shore below as she watched them melt into the sand.  The sea’s calming sounds were all that gently interrupted the quiet, serene fall evening.

“Lynn, I have never seen such a beautiful moon.”  My mother said as she slowly rocked back and forth, never taking her eyes off the scene laid before her.   I nodded my head in agreement.  To this day, I, too, have never witnessed another evening quite as stunning and peaceful.

I knew as well as she did, it would be her last visit to the ocean.  She was approaching the time of life when one never knows entirely when the end will come. However, somewhere deep within both of us, we knew it wouldn’t be long. 

God’s beautiful art

I was surprised she agreed to go with our extended family on vacation to the white sands of the gulf that fall in 2007. But as I watched her relishing the extraordinary beauty, I was so thankful she was there. 

That evening was a gift.  I never return to the ocean without the memory of her rocking back and forth, viewing God painting a canvas just for her. 

In 2007 my granddaughter was a giggling toddler who, along with her elementary-age cousins, caused their great grandmother to laugh with glee.  Mom’s dark brown eyes twinkled as she saw them chase each other in the sand or tease one another at dinner. The matriarch of our family was surrounded by those she loved, and we enjoyed making her happy.   

Today, Mom is gone.  She left not long after that beach trip to travel to heaven’s shores.  The toddler is now a junior in high school, and today her cousins are grown men, carving their path after college.

Life’s many stages

Life is full of stages.  As time passes, I recognize, with clarity, how we go from one passage to another as the days fly by.  All of us are ever-changing, seeing things we didn’t notice before and understanding that each road we take in life has its blessings and sorrows.

We watch as people come and go.  We love, we lose, we fail, or we triumph.  Eadh of us never know what a new day will bring or what another day will take away.  Often life hurts and scars us, but we must not let it ever defeat us.  Our passages from one stage to another are never easy. But we must travel through them to recognize the artistry God lays before us.    

Often, near the end of my mother’s life, I noticed her speaking less and studying those around her more.  By 2007, Mom had lost her only son and her husband.   She was in her last stage of life.   There was nothing more to teach, nothing more to say, and no task left to do.  She had experienced all the passages and was thankful she had.

Our last harvest moon

Today, perhaps we all need to travel to the beach and watch the sun mystically fall, and the Harvest Moon rise.  Maybe we should settle ourselves down in a rocking chair and be quiet.  Because I believe it is in those times when we recognize that the stars, the ocean, and the moon will be here long after we finish our last trip and complete our final stage.

Most of us will one day speak less and listen more as we pray for others to have a safe and productive life journey.  In the end, our lives are summed up by what we left here in the hearts of those we watched go from one passage to another.  How’d we do?  Did we give all we had, teach all we could, and do so with a kind heart?  Were we unselfish, did we aid others? Did we help another to see the beauty of faith, and encourage those who struggled? 

On my last trip to the ocean, I hope to hear my children laughing in the background as I watch the sun fall into the water. And while I quietly rock and forth, I pray I will feel the peace my mother did, knowing she had given it all as God painted the perfect night in the glow of a beautiful Harvest Moon. 

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”  Proverbs 27:19

Loving those Birthdays!

Well, shoot!  As hard as I try to ignore it, someone always yells “Happy Birthday!” this time of year.  Yes, I just aged another year…… thank goodness!  Now, if I ignore the mirror and pay better attention to where I put my car keys, I’ll be fine. 

I am fortunate and thankful that I have survived the ups and downs of my life.  There is something about “making it through” that gives one a new lease on living.  When we survive heartache and trauma, we find that strength, faith, and attitude are necessary to attain peace. 

There are a lot of grumpy people hanging around earth right now.  They come in all colors, shapes, ages, and sizes.  Yes, some folks must enjoy being ill-tempered and mean.  They hang out on social media, spewing their misery and anger.  Life for them has become a hassle, a daily grind of worry, and tormented existence.  It saddens me that they have lost the ability to look forward to tomorrow because they are stuck in anger over yesterday.  What a waste of precious time. 

Care enough to be bold

I learned long ago that we should never discount what God has planned for each of us. Sure, our lives have been interrupted these last two years, but there is a reason to celebrate.  If we are still breathing, that means we are to continue our never-ending journey to find our purpose.  So, get off the sofa, hang negativity in the closet, and make the world a better place because that is what we are meant to do.  I’m serious … like, get up right now!

I love telling folks what to do.  Now that I’m older, fear seems to have melted along with all those birthday candles.   You can ask the girls who work out in my garage gym how I yell exercise routines to produce sweat.  I do so because I don’t want them to leave this earth before they were meant to go.  They perform a boatload of sit-ups so their backs will hold them up as they walk through time.   They need to lift weights to keep their hearts beating and their arms strong enough to carry on.  I shout because I love, and I write because I want my concern for others to travel far. 

Living long has taught me that hate is useless, resentment is mind-altering, and complaining about it all is worthless.  Birthdays are just a reminder that we can become more joyful than our last year if we look at life a bit differently.

Your life is not really yours

You see, life isn’t just about you.  We are all in this time zone together.   We are each given gifts, and it is up to us to determine how to use them.    Some are ignored, and some are expanded, but our talents are gifts to be shared.  We are better people when we attempt to make others happier and healthier.  We are intended to be instruments of God’s work. 

I have a new book out this week.  Did I write it? Yep. Did I spend the money to publish it? Yep.  Was it my idea? Nope.

When I was young, I promised God that one day I would write a story.  He put that bee in my bonnet so long ago, the buzzing just became a daily noise.  The birthdays passed, and the noise grew louder, and of course, I wrote because I promised.  Was it my wish to sit on a beach and watch the gulls fly by? Yep.  But it wasn’t God’s idea for me.  If there is one thing I absolutely understand is that for me to continue to enjoy life, I must do what the Almighty asks of me.  No matter what.

Happy Birthday to you

When we go against the plan God has for our lives, we lose hope.  When we choose hate over love, we lose our purpose.  We become selfish, mean-spirited, and heartbroken because we no longer hear a bee buzzing in our ear and whatever success we have attained is meaningless. 

So, I am old.  So what?  I am grateful that I get to spend one more day listening to God tell me what to do!  How cool is that!

May each of you have the best of birthdays this year because a bee landed in your bonnet and told you to get up, better the world, and believe, no matter how old you may be.   

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?