91 Years Of Love

“When you feel cold, I’ll warm you.
And when you feel you can’t go on, I’ll come and hold you.
It’s you and me forever…”
(1975) “Sara Smile” Recorded By: Hall & Oates Composers: Daryl Hall & John Oates

He was raised on farmland. Born around 1869ish+/-. His family, and the children which came later, toiled as sharecroppers, working the crops of other landowners. They travelled from county to county, wherever the work was available. The Tapp family were not educated folk, but they were the salt of the earth, a redneck clan, who knew the backbreaking job of picking cotton, corn, potatoes, and okra from dawn to dusk. If he owned a suit, it was strictly for church on Sundays. His hands were rough and weathered, yet his handsome face endured the Texas sun. He would grow up knowing the horse and wagon days of travel, until he was well into his 30’s when he saw his first horseless carriage.

At some point, date unknown as the family didn’t tend to keep records, he married a girl named, Molly. Later they were blessed with at least five boys, and two daughters, a true gift for a farm-working family. He was my Great-Great Granddaddy Tapp.

One of the daughters was my Great Grandmother, Ella Tapp-Swindell. She was born in 1901. As expected, she learned the trade of farming, along with her many siblings. However, while she was 6, 7, or 8 years old, Molly grew ill and became an invalid. Ella had to quit school and help take care of household duties, raising her siblings, along with learning to be a caregiver to her disabled mother. She married a handsome man of all trades, and talented musician named, Cluade Swindell. Ella was a “Get-Up-And-Get-It-Done” gal who passed the same attitude on to her daughter and son. The siblings were a fine duo out in the sharecropping fields from the time they could start walking. That daughter was my grandmother, Opal Swindell-Atherton. If you are a regular reader of my blog, than you have been introduced well to Opal Atherton in past posts.

Opal was born in 1921. While in Jr. High School in Wolfe City, Texas, she met a wild auburn-headed country boy named, Martin “Lucky” Atherton. He was new to the area, having moved from Oklahoma. When their eyes met, it was love, real love. Blinded by love, they never dated others. They were married when she was 17 years old. The life of sharecropping was over for her, as Lucky, her new husband, was a sharp mechanic. They were blessed to add two boys and one girl to their home. Their daughter, the baby of the family, would be my mom, Carolyn Atherton-Brown. She was born in 1944.

Again, if you have read my story from my other posts, you already know the tragic details of how I arrived in 1960.

As soon as my mom and I were able to travel, we made a quick drive from Greenville, Texas to Cash, Texas, a tiny farming community just a few miles away from where I was born. There, we visited my G-G-Granddaddy Tapp, along with my G-Grandmother Swindell on the Tapp family farm. The camera was loaded and ready for the photo below. Five generations in one shot. As you can see I was very casual about the entire event.

Photo: Five Generation Picture – June 1960

Many have told me they have never seen a five generation photo. I guess a four generation shot is more common. To have a five generation shot is just simply a gift from God. So, as you can imagine, when the time arrived in my life to obtain yet another five generation shot, I couldn’t wait to get the camera ready. Below is my grandmother, Opal, my mom, Carolyn, me, my daughter, Tabitha, and my granddaughter, Skylar. I love the way my Grandmother Atherton is looking at Skylar here, with yet another 90 years between them.

Photo: Five year generation picture – June 2016

Beyond the rarity of such a photo, as treasured as it is, might be what it represents. For me, it’s a reminder of the love and care which took place from generation to generation. We choose to love because love is exactly that, a choice. Care is a natural by-product of authentic love. When I review the stories told, going back 91 years, I can see this chain of love, like links from one person to the next, holding them all together, weaving a fabric of common admiration, loyalty, and valor. For those who have such a legacy, it is priceless.

Photo by Joey Kyber on Pexels.com

Scripture tells us that there is One who is closer than a brother. At the same time, the Author of such a passage also has revealed Himself as Father, Brother, even Grandfather, in certain aspects. In fact, and I must be careful here, He is even described as Mother because of His tenderness, intimate care-giver, personal supplier, and nurturer, as in El Shaddai, meaning All Sufficient One, IE: “The God Who is more than enough”. He IS our great Relative from generations past.

There are links of generational love to discover in fuel for the race.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” – Isaiah 49:15-16a (NIV)

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Have You Ever?

“Yesterday, and days before,
Sun is cold and rain is hard.
I know, been that way for all my time.
‘Til forever, on it goes,
Through the circle, fast and slow,
I know, it can’t stop, I wonder.

I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain?
I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain?
Coming down on a sunny day.”
(1971) “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” Recorded By: Creedence Clearwater Revival. Composer: John Fogerty

Too many today may mistake the title for a series of evangelistic tent meetings with sweaty preachers yelling sinners into heaven. For old folks like me, the name, Creedence Clearwater Revival are four California lads who wound up in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

John Fogerty, along with his brother, Tom, were two talented guys who formed a band in 1959. The name of their band changed a couple of times until in 1967 when they arrived at the title, Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Photo: Pitchfork – Creedence Clearwater Revival

CCR made great artistic strides in the rock arena of their day, even being one of the first bands booked for Woodstock in 1969. They, and their peers, saw the birth of what was once called, “Progressive Country”, or “Young Country”, or “Southern Rock”, as most understand the term. It had a gritty, southern style, usually with a southern drawl delivery in the vocals, yet holding to the east and west rock roots. The Eagles were very much in that lane. Their decades of success tells the story of their hard work along with endurance on the road and in the studio. Although the zenith of CCR’s success came in 1969-1970, classic rock stations tend to see CCR as a staple to the format. To date, they have sold well over 30 million records. Even though the group disbanded in 1972, in 1976, they released a greatest hits album, which is still in Billboard’s Top 200 charts, and has been awarded 10x platinum album sales. Very few old bands, who broke up long ago, can brag about numbers echoing in the rafters like that in radio and records.

One of my favorites from CCR is entitled, “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” You may remember it well. Stirring lyrics, even a bit blue in nature. The writer, John Fogerty, brings out some honest feelings, feelings that burp-up questions which most of us either speak of verbally, or at least groan silently within ourselves. After the song is over, you are left scratching your noggin with more questions. If a lyric could have a scratch-n-sniff element to it, this is it.

“I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain coming down on a sunny day?”

The line rings a great, giant bell inside one’s own mind. Sure, especially in the southern states of America, atmospheric conditions tend to collide at times where sunrays rain down as the precipitation falls simultaneously. Often growing up someone would see such a thing and say, “The devil is beating his wife”. However, the line written pierces through with a deeper meaning than weather conditions.

Photo by Pok Rie on Pexels.com

Allow me to delve just a tad.

During the late 60’s and early 70’s, CCR rolled out some huge hits. They had been playing together, trying to become rich and famous for 10-12 years, and finally it happened. They were at their peak. Sold out concert halls, smashing record sales expectations, and making outlandish bank deposits to the point of having to hire financial management teams to do the bookkeeping. Life for the four rockers was good. They had all they ever wanted, and then some. There were mansions, and cars to buy. It was nothing to purchase diamond jewelry as a quick treat while on the road. Songwriting, publishing sales, and performances couldn’t get much better. With such victorious earnings, along with all the benefits that goes with it, a band could party all day until they had to climb up on stage to work. Happiness had arrived..at last. Or, did it?

However, what most didn’t know was the bickering between bandmates, then among management admins, and longings for solo work. After awhile, the fighting among the members was too much for Tom Fogerty. The same year of the release of “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?”, Tom made his exit out of CCR. The corrosion of fighting over artistic differences, business issues, and disagreements concerning songwriting opportunities, ebbed to their brink. The current undertow took the band down river, ending in a shocking end in 1972. After much discussion, CCR disbanded.

At some point, a manager, or agent must have shouted out, “Why ruin a good thing?” After all, they had received everything they ever wanted, to be a successful band, wading in fame and wealth.

Photo: The New Yorker – Creedence Clearwater Revival

In a sobering moment, John wrote the lyric to one of their greatest hits.

For years many believed the meaning had something to do with the failure of the “Peace and Love Generation” of the 1960’s, and social justice marches, etc. If you sit in a field full of daisies while puffing on a bong, surely peace and universal love will come. Right? Apparently not. The rain still falls even while the sun shines down. However, John Fogerty made an admission in recent years in his solo concerts about the lyrics, and the misconception of its meaning.

The band grew tired of the fame and wealth NOT bringing the element of satisfaction along with the happiness promised. It seems The Rolling Stones were accurate. You can’t get no satisfaction, no matter how hard you try. CCR found it out at the very peak of their music career. While swirling in the atmosphere of partying day and night, while taking in more money than they could spend, the happiness never showed up. After the smoke had cleared, and the groupies had left the hotel rooms, and the limos were parked, the guys in the group were left empty day after day, night after night. The conversation behind closed doors consisted of the bewilderment of the vacuum of joy as it was sucked out of their personal lives. Frustration entered in as the artistic brains began to want more than what had been received. Surely “more” would bring that ever eluding element of happiness. One wanted to write more songs, more writing credits on the album covers. Another wanted more of the cut from the shared pie. One wanted more time off. It’s what can rip marriages apart. I…I…I, me…me…me.

So, Fogerty wrote this lyric about the irony, along with the sadness, of a highly successful band dragging around the globe without happiness, joy, and a sense of satisfaction.

“I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain…coming down on a sunny day?”

Ancient scripture teaches that whoever prides himself/herself as better, or dominate, he/she will be forgotten in the long run. In fact, the scrolls tell us that true success is giving one’s self away, not adding onto self. Jesus said that if you want to be great, be a servant. If you want to be first, be last. Building a house on shifting sand is a recipe for structural failure. The rains will come, even when the sunrays shine down. Pride’s fall is a great fall.

In my own admission, I have been at several pinnacles in life where I never thought the rains would fall on my sunny parade, and yet they did. In the end, standing on a rock, an immovable rock, is the most solid place to be when the rains fall and floods your space.

Have you ever seen it yourself? There’s great examples in fuel for the race.

“From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” – Psalms 61:2 (NAS)

An Exit Of Grace

God save our gracious Queen,

Long live our noble Queen,

God save the Queen.

Send her victorious,

Happy and glorious,

Long to reign over us,

God save the Queen(1619, via various historic literature.) National Anthem, or Royal Anthem of Great Britain. Some sources report the melody possibly was composed by: John Bull. Otherwise, composer is unknown.

Some have mournfully reacted to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II in a curious way. Multiple times the words from the Queen’s subjects have been stated something like, “I never thought this day would come. After all, she is the Queen. She just goes on and on.” Deep inside such sentiments, although recalling they were said out of shock and grief, is an eternal urging, a longing for an undying righteousness, a Monarch which never ceases to die, defeating the laws of nature and age. It may not be spoken of while sipping a pint around the dartboard of a rustic low-ceiling pub in Sheffield, but apparently the longing is the undercurrent of the soul. In fact, ancient scripture points this out as an everlasting truth.

Queen Elizabeth II knew this all too well. Her Majesty knew her God. She, herself, yearned for the day when she would bow in His throne room where The Unseen Eternal, The Ancient Of Days remains in constant power. This 70 year Monarch never needed to bend the knee here on this temporary placement, but she looked forward to the day when she would fall on her face before the Eternal Ruler of The Universe. At 96 years of age, she finally was ushered into what she had always imagined.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a great general (important though they are) – but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.” – Queen Elizabeth II (2011)

Commentators from the BBC to the local small market news outlets in America, have reported the stainless rule of this Monarch. Often the words behind the news desks tell of the Queen’s remarkable record of scandal-free reign. Although every member of the House of Windsor cannot stand under such microscopic scrutiny, the Queen endured to the end with God’s righteousness as her bond. In fact, most Monarchs in the scrolls of history were, and are, flawed in one area or the other, some gravely so. Throughout England’s history, as well as all other nations, Monarchs, wrapped in such power while stewed in elitisms, haunted by ironic jealousies, have proven to be warped, corrupted, and in some cases, evil. That is not to say Her Majesty was sinless, as some may proclaim, but the fact remains, her reign as Queen saw very few flaws. Her reputation as a person was above board in just about every way that has been reported outside the walls of Buckingham Palace. No wonder this long-reigning Monarch has been hailed as one who held to selfless service, self-control, self-restraint, and always reaching for the highest of standards.

There are those in the world who have a disdain for the Queen. Yet, in most every case, the reasons stem from her stance against sin and the appearance of such. She had no room in her house for misbehavior, outlandish hatred, and words and actions against her England.

There is no doubt in my mind, these qualities attributed to this Royal cannot be traced to her jewels, her robes, or her throne. It is my belief this Queen, if raised as a peasant on the back streets of blue-collar Manchester, her qualities would have remained intact. I should add here, it would not have been because she wanted to better than others around her, or to even strive for a life in a monastery, but only because she humbly knew where true righteousness comes from. Her Highness, somewhere in the bowels of her souls and spirit, at some given time in her lengthy days, accepted the forgiveness of sins offered only through Jesus, The King Of Kings.

“For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince Of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role-model of reconciliation and forgiveness, He stretched out His hands of love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none.” – Queen Elizabeth II (Christmas Day address 2014)

Photo by Gu Bra on Pexels.com

Much will be said of this Queen in the coming days. Her name will be garnished with grandeur, pomp and circumstance. Her memory, and the acts of her rule, will be enshrined by the high praises of accolades from the poorest among us, as well as, the wealthiest and most famous, and rightly so. As these events unfold, as the Queen is laid to rest, keep in mind of what she might say as a parting comment. With what I know of this great lady, as we highlight her achievements, and her vast integrity, she would stop us while pointing to the One Who shared His righteousness with her, holding her hand, and holding her up through a jubilee of her reign. It is her faith in Him which we celebrate, even if unknowingly.

In the pages of modern history, those of the faith, and even those searching for eternal truths, have been graced by irrefutable tangible movings of the hand of God for us to witness. There have been remarkable manifestations throughout history which work to enlighten the blindness of humanity. Although these things are a rarity since the days of Jesus, they have been well documented across the globe. In each case, in those very rare moments, there with it comes a divine message reaching from outside the created galaxies to the world God so loves. On Thursday, September 8th, 2022, just before and after the passing of Queen Elizabeth, a double rainbow appeared over Buckingham Palace where a throng of people watched with collective gasps.

Photo: Whitchurch Herold

About the very same time, another rainbow pierced through the cloudy darkness some 29 miles away at Windsor Castle for the mourners to witness, just as the Union jack was being lowered to half-mast.

Photo: Getty Images

In the days of Noah, the first rainbow ever was seen and recorded. It is written that it was a “sign”, a monument, of God’s promise never to destroy the earth by flood again. Upon the plucking-up of Queen Elizabeth’s soul on September 8th, it’s as if The Rock of Ages visually made it known she was now over the rainbow, under the arch of His everlasting arms. Truly, an exit of grace.

See what is in store for those who mourn, and for those looking for an eternal righteousness which never dies in fuel for the race.

“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.” – Isaiah 6:1 (ESV)

Front Porch Tea

“I hear her voice, in the mornin’ hour she calls me.
Radio reminds me of my home far away.
And driving down the road I get a feeling
I should have been home yesterday, yesterday. Country roads, take me home
To the place where I belong…”
(1971) “Country Roads” Recorded By: John Denver Composers: Taffy Nivert Danoff, Bill Danoff, John Denver

There is just something very special about the backwoods roads, unpaved, rocky, and winding. Of course, if you’re lost, it’s not so special. However, it brings thoughts of peace, tranquility, and comfort. They are so worth the drive onto an unbeaten path. Even more so, if the country roads take you to loved ones, so precious and dear.

Earlier today, an old fond memory just popped into my head from out of the blue. It’s a memory I have not played through my mind in many years. Does that happen to you?

When my mom remarried back in 1965, I was five years old, a wonderful, historic Texas family came with the union. The Brown family, who I am so very proud of to this day. My dad adopted me, changing my name to Brown, and I am so proud of it. My new dad’s family was large in number, a bit on the stoic side, and scattered throughout Young County in west Texas, about 2.5 hours drive west of Dallas. Suddenly, I had many aunts and uncles, and a slew of cousins. Graham, Texas is the county seat, and the general location of the Brown family. Because I have written before concerning the area, the family homestead, and the pioneering family that they are, you might already be a bit familiar with the rich history of my family there.

The nucleus of the large God-fearing clan was my Grandpa and Grandma Brown (Bessie and W.R.) They both were children of Civil War Confederate soldiers. In fact, my great-grandpa, Lewis Pinkney Brooks (Grandma’s dad) was one of the first settlers to the area shortly after the war ended. He came to the area from Georgia on a mule, or donkey, depending on who you ask.

Photo: 1920’s, My great grandpa and grandma Brooks on the porch of the old homestead where my Grandma Brown was raised.. My cousin and her family live there today.

If you have seen the Paramount TV series, “1883”, then you have a taste of what Texas was like during those days of the untamed west. In fact, my great Grandpa Brooks would have been a contemporary of the Duttons, the two main characters in the storyline of the television show. So, my grandparents were not only raised by pioneers, but had firsthand knowledge of the happenings of those days. The family homestead is built just off the Brazos River in what is known as, Upper Tonk Valley, (Short for the Tonkawa tribe who lived there). As a kid, I was mesmerized by their recollections of their parents, the area, and the early days of being homesteaders.

Photo: 1911. My Grandma Brown on the left, with her sisters taking a dip in the Brazos River.
Photo: 1981. My Grandma Brown with some of her grandkids at the time.
Photo: 1971. My Grandpa Brown in his Sunday best.

Anytime we drove out to Graham to spend the weekend with my new grandparents, it was always something I was excited about. I was a city kid. Most of the family lived out in the country, outside the city limits of Graham, Texas. My grandparents didn’t live in the old family homestead, (An uncle resided there at the time.) Their old house was about 5 miles south of the homestead. It sat about a mile off the state highway on a red sandy dirt road among the creeks, mesquite trees, and cactus. There were horses to ride, cows to feed, creeks and rivers to explore, and pastures to run.

Photo; An old abandoned barn, a couple of miles down Tonk Valley Road.

Of course, there was refreshing rainwater to drink right out of a round tin washtub. That’s right. The water from the faucets came from wells which had a strong sulfur, mineral smell. Some got adjusted to it, as they were raised there, but not me. I couldn’t stomach the water, unless you boiled it first. So, my Grandma had a large metal washtub under a downspout off the corner of her kitchen. When full of rainwater, it was brought in where it sat next to her side kitchen window. It had its own ladle. I was always surprised how cool it was to the lips. You didn’t stir it because you didn’t want to bring up the sandy grains of residue resting at the bottom of the tub. But, on a hot summer Texas day, that water was the best tasting H2O I have ever allowed down my gullet.

Although they had an old TV from the 1950’s, they didn’t watch much of it. My Grandpa Brown was a busy farmer, among other things. There were expected pre-dawn sounds of heavy slurping coming from the living room, where I slept on a daybed. Opening my eyes, there he would be, sitting in a chair, in his pinstriped overalls and boots, facing the stove (if winter), or facing the window listening to the first coos of the morning doves, with a bowl and saucer of coffee. No coffee cup for W.R. Brown. I never really understood it, but that’s how he rolled. Afterwards, he was off to his crops close to the banks of a sandy-bottom creek down by the horse pasture. However, I rarely went back to sleep as Grandma’s freshly baked homemade yeast rolls were wafting through the early morning air. Nothing could beat her jarred preserves on the table, and buttered rolls fresh out of the oven. Oh, my! Recently, while visiting my 91 year old aunt, she showed me grandma’s old baking sheet which she used to bake her biscuits and rolls. It literally had holes in it from decades of wear. I sniffed of the old worn pan, but there wasn’t even a hint of bakings past.

Around mid-late afternoon, you could count on the folks sitting out on the wooden plank front porch. They had two or three metal lawn chairs, the kind that bounced a bit, almost like rocking chairs, and usually a couple of old wooden chairs with rope weave, or wicker weave seats were brought out from the dining room. Grandma had the usual large clay pitchers of cool tea made from her rainwater tub, sitting out for anyone who wanted to fill their tall glasses. The ice cubes were there waiting in an aluminum bucket, and tea spoons at the ready. Before you can ask, yes, it was sugar tea. Before I was 15 years old, I didn’t know unsweetened tea existed.

Photo by Arturo Au00f1ez on Pexels.com

Now, you would think, sitting next to elderly folk, with heavy west Texas accents, along with iced tea in hand, out on a front porch looking out at a red dirt country road, would be something only Rip Van Winkle would enjoy. NO WAY! I can’t tell you how much I learned about west Texas history, family history, and life out on the prairie. Sure, there was a lot of chatter about politics, preachers, and current news items of the day, but I was okay with that, too. You know why? Because I knew I was in the presents of greatness, salt of the earth people with dirt under their fingernails. The front porch was what they did for leisure. When family and friends came to visit, they knew to pull up a chair, fill their glasses, and bring up some fat to chew on. Much joy and information was to be had on that front porch of the Brown’s house.

My Aunt Ina Dell’s rendition of Grandma & Grandpa’s house.

As a pick-up truck would drive by from time to time, the driver would wave at the folks on the porch, and a warm kind acknowledgement was exchanged. It seemed everybody knew everybody in the community, especially on the old Lower Tonk Valley Road.

Photo: Old windmill pumping water for the livestock at the old Brook’s Homestead in Upper Tonk Valley.

After Grandma’s larrupin’ dinner, often other family members would come over and we would gather around the slightly out of tune upright piano to sing old hymns. (At the church, the Brown family practically filled the choir loft.) This was a very memorable time as we gathered for what they called, “The Singin'” complete with full harmonies, and old dusty hymn books from a box an uncle would deliver. After about an hour of melody-making, many of us returned to the front porch with tall cold glasses of sweet tea. I was always amazed how DARK it was out in the country. Depending upon the time of year, or weather, we would watch the fireflies dancing around in the front yard for a natural light show. A few of us cousins were given mason jars to do some firefly hunting. It was so much fun. We would chase them around, often bumping into one another in the process, with the sound of the tin jar lids clanging on the glass. Some took their captives home, but I didn’t have the heart for firefly prison. I was happy to let mine go free.

The marriage between my mom and dad only lasted about four years. However, they were terrific, adventurous years for me when at the age of 5-9 years old, I soaked up incredible life-long memories so very worthwhile. The Brown clan continues to be my family today. They are great people.

Grandma and Grandpa Brown have long vacated this earth, but their laughter, voices, and hugs in the pages of my memory, continue to deliver unanticipated smiles on my face. The old house is gone, as well. In the early 1980’s, after my Grandma passed away, after my Grandpa died in 1977, the old place was removed making room for a new house built on the spot by a dear cousin of mine. He and his family have lived on the land ever since. I still drive by there now and then.

Not a lot has changed there over the last six decades, with the exception of a partially paved stretch of road which has taken the place of Young County red sandy dirt. Often I will pull over in an unpopulated spot of Lower Tonk Valley Road, stop the engine of the car, and close my eyes to capture the familiar sounds of the place of old love and wonder. When listening close, one can hear the doves, roosters, and the bellows of the Longhorns close by. Somehow, I tend to leave there with a hankering for a tall glass of iced tea.

In the hustle of today’s schedule and the glow of the screen from the cell phone, a trip back to more innocent days can be as refreshing as a tin washtub of cool rainwater.

We all understand thirst when the heat is overpowering. It’s a craving, especially for cool water for the tongue and throat. It’s so easy for the imagination. Also, we all have a thirst within our natural man/woman, where the hunt for quenching begins, often pulling us to a whirlpool where we don’t belong. The smell of it is distasteful and sour, but unfortunately we, along with our society, grows accustomed to it in our daily choices. Away from the public faucet of such, is prepared a pure reservoir, filled with cool, clear water for the soul. The purity of it pushes down the sediment of the day. A drink to be trusted. A drink to quench deeply. A drink which quells everlasting.

Maybe for you, it might be a quick return visit with the Fount Of Every Blessing found in fuel for the race.

“But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – Jesus John 4:14 (ESV)

A Horse With No Name

“I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name.
It felt good to be out of the rain.
In the desert you can remember your name,
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.”
(1971) “A Horse With No Name” (Originally entitled, “Desert Song”.) Recorded By: America Composer: Dewey Bunnell

For as long as I can remember, I have been an animal lover. I come from a long line of generations of animal folk. Sure, I have my priorities in the dear animal kingdom, dogs being #1. However. close behind the canine arena, would be horses. I’ve always loved horses. I am sorry to say, I never had the opportunity, or the means to own one, but there have been many in my family who have been, or are horse owners.

My grandmother, Opal Atherton, with one of their beloved horses.

My grandparents loved to tell of my granddad’s horse when they were dating in the mid 1930’s. I once remembered his name, but time has erased that from my noggin.

At the time, my grandmother and granddad’s families lived in the country outside Wolfe City, Texas. Granddad rode his horse to school every day on the dirt farm roads through the woods. When he arrived, he would slap his hoofed pal on the behind as he told him to go home. The horse was incredibly obedient, and trotted his way all the way back to the farmhouse. So, when my grandparents started dating, and on days when his horse wasn’t needed, he would do the same, and off he went, down the dirt road with his mane bouncing up and down with a clippity-clop all the way home. In those times, and in cowboys days of the cattle drives, a horse was man’s best friend.

I thought about those days when seeing a disturbing video from New York this past week.

Apparently, a working horse, pulling a carriage, common for the Central Park area and city blocks surrounding it, collapsed in the lane very near an intersection. The carriage driver, got angry, jumping out of the seat, he began mercilessly whipping and kicking the poor horse as the exhausted animal laid on his side after first folding his legs beneath his body like a camel. “Get up! Get up! Get up!”, shouted the driver as he continued to whip and beat him. Witnesses said the horse attempted to obey as he moved in efforts to get back up on his hooves, but failed each time. The crowd gathered as the man continued to whip and kick the downed horse. One shocked sidewalk observer shouted, “Hey, how would you like it if I started beating you like that?” Soon, many began to yell at the driver to stop his cruelty, some calling 911.

When the police and animal control arrived, they found out just why the beaten horse was down for the count. Unfortunately, the beast was malnourished, exhausted, and very dehydrated. Even his ribs were sticking out from his starvation. As the police began to comfort the horse while gently spraying water over his hurting body, the horse began an attempt to lick the water off the pavement as it ran past his mouth. However, with the bridle and steel bit remaining in his mouth, he struggled to lick the residual water. Right away, one officer quickly removed the bridle and bit from him, leaving him free to drink what they offered from the hose.

Photo: W42ST.NYC

The way this animal had been treated, I really doubt he had a name. He was obviously seen as a machine for carriage rides to make money. The last thing I read is that the city workers took him to an emergency animal clinic for treatment. I hope he can recover.

As I watched the cruelty on video, my heart sank for this once healthy creature. The vision of it also reminded me full well of how life can treat us. There always seems to be a point person which inflicts terrible personal pain as we weave and bob through our bouts in life. Or, just the scratches, bumps and bruises which paint us over time where the hard knocks occur, without a personal overzealous driver with a whip. Even government can inflict unnecessary scars during struggles. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but certain politicians, policies, and overnight voting sessions on a weekend under the Capitol dome, can kick the already exhausted overtaxed, citizen. Am I right?

Frankly, I feel like an exhausted horse with no name in the spiritual arena. The Apostle Paul called the Law a tough schoolmaster. Like the collapsed horse, there’s no way anyone can even keep all ten commandments, not to mention the hundreds of others dictated over the rabbinical books from antiquities. Laws show no grace, no mercy. The Torah is there to prove we can not measure up, no matter how hard we try to get back up from the fall.

The Enemy, the Adversary, has a huge whip, and spurs to go with it. The carrot offered never delivers, never satisfies, and never leaves us nourished. When Jesus came, He fulfilled the legalities which knocked us down, and with grace, tended to our wounds with balm and bindings which come from grace, kindness, and mercy. After picking us off the pavement, giving us ever-living water, tending to our brokenness and bruises, He asked us to follow Him with trust for a better road, a better place of healing, a merciful driver.

I sure hope the caring city officers gave him a new name. Someday, I’ll have one.

To find the bridle which directs to a safe haven, look no further than fuel for the race.

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is comfortable, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30 (NAS)

Sprinkles of Joy

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.
Brown paper packages tied up with strings.
These are a few of my favorite things.”
(1965) “My Favorite Things” from, “The Sound Of Music” Recorded By: Julie Andrews Composers: Oscar Hammerstein II & Richard Rodgers

Sitting at my desktop computer, where I write, I truly had no clue of what what I would jot. Does this ever happen to you? Usually, something is already on my mind, burning through the noise and the sights of the day. More often than not, a theme is just itching to slide out of my noggin and onto my keyboard. But not today.

A decent psychoanalysis performed by a solid, experienced professional in the field could most likely open me up and explain why this occurred. Then again, maybe not. I can be complicated.

In my frustration, I sat at my desk looking at a blank screen, which mirrored my hollow brain, when suddenly a light came on. A phenomenon which warms me so often that I take it for granted. Well, not taken for granted today.

Just before I pull back my desk chair from the desk, I face a study closet door, which stands about a foot from the chair to the right of the desk. On the doorknob of the closet, hangs two precious items of note. Let me show you.

Draping over the doorknob is a Christmas ornament of hand painted hues displaying blue, purple, yellow, amber, green and black. The small piece of art is encased in glass with a silver alloy frame and backing. If you look closely, you can read the words, “by Skylar 2017”. Skylar is my granddaughter. When she was 6 years old, she won an art competition that year for this little treasure. It is a small print of a much larger piece she painted that year. Hanging behind the ornament, is the collar and tags of my childhood dog, Tickey. (I have written about him before.) We grew up together. He died at 16 years old, I was 23 at the time. The jingle-jangle of his tags was heard anytime he jumped, ran, scratched. I can reach over and shake them right now, always leaving me with a smile.

Tickey, and a 9 year old me – 1969

Once I sit down to face my desktop screen, this is what graces my vision before I boot up the computer.

16″ across the bottom of my computer screen is a plethora, a sprinkling of little keepsakes. Let me explain.

On the left is a 5.5″ tall cross section of a piece of wood with its original thick, rough bark on the backside.

A few years ago, the oldest, largest tree on our short street was damaged heavily in a fierce windstorm. So much so, it had to be cut down. It was a grandfather of a mammoth tree, no doubt 200 years old, or so. As a memorial, the property owners left a 6′ stump. I am so glad they did. It helps to remind us all that at one time, when my neighborhood was once a thriving cattle ranch from the late1800’s, there stood a tree of testimonial. When they sliced down the massive tree piece by piece, leaving tall piles of lumber along the curb of a full city block, I found a small chunk from this old friend. It had a flat bottom, so it stood up vertically, with its beautiful two-toned colors of its outside ring layers. When I first brought it home, I thought of staining it. But no, I couldn’t. I feel its natural look is stunning as it is.

To the right of the wooden memorial, sits a replica of a Ford Mustang Mach 1 made by Hot Wheels. A girlfriend of mine, from my high school days, drove a royal blue one with black leather interior. It was a beauty, and a beast. I keep it on my desk because I was from the 1960’s-1970’s Hot Wheels generation. Growing up, every cool boy in school had a Hot Wheel set. You were even more so if you were able to collect a herd of Hot Wheel cars and trucks. Well, I was raised by a single mom who worked a graveyard shift. We were poor. So, Hot Wheels was not in my shoe box of treasures. There were the Johnny Lightning 500 cars, a cheaper competitor, which I was able to receive one Christmas, but alas…you guessed it…they were not of the coveted Hot Wheels brand. So, I guess you could say I guard this one with my life.

Just to the right of the Mach 1, lays a genuine, honest, true blue fossil. I sincerely don’t recall where I found it, but I believe I discovered it on the sandy dry floor of the Brazos River in west Texas when I was a kid. Looking closely, it looks to be a part of a neck, or backbone. I’ve never had it analyzed, but as a kid my imagination ran away with ideas. Could it belong to a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex??? More than likely, a duck, or a prairie chicken. My wife poured cold water on a boy’s dream by saying it looked like an intestinal track of a dog. “Gee, thanks, honey.” Either way, it’s a full blown fossil. And that’s what counts. Right?

Just behind said fossil, sits a small stapler I had retrieved from my mom’s storage unit, buried under tons of junk. Nothing fancy, or worthy of writing your mom about. It is rust color, about 5″ in length. It looked very familiar when I unearthed it from the stacks of storage boxes. One day, as it sat on my desk, it hit my memory like a a mob at a New York jewelry store. It was the stapler I used during my high school years. It not only is in decent shape, but it also still has staples in it. Suddenly, it felt like an old friend. And it works!

To the right of the stapler, proudly sits a model replica of the Galileo, the space shuttle from the Star Trek TV series. The old, U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701/7 Space Shuttle. It’s more than just a plastic model of the beloved shuttle, but a container. The top hatch opens to a compartment where a library of Star Trek trivia cards can be found. One of my stepsons gave it to me for a few years back. I was a Trek fan ever since the 1960’s series aired. When my three girls came along, they too became fans. That’s one reason why an old picture of my middle daughter, Megan, sits on the back of the shuttle. At that age, she used to say she wanted to ride in a space ship someday.

What the song said is true. Maybe to you raindrops on roses, or whiskers on kittens may not be your bag, but no doubt you have some favorite things. They don’t have to be large, or expensive. The value is in what the item does for you, to you. Because when that dog bites in life, or the bee stings when unanticipated, a few of your favorite things can trip off a few thousands memories which are reserved in a very blessed place inside. It’s God’s gift.

Poundings of threats of war, rising crime, along with thin wallets can melt away our smiles rather quickly. Losing friends over selected desired pronouns, or ideology which goes against your values, can cause bitterness if not guarded. At the same time, I can vouch for what a small desktop item can bring in your day. The sweet thoughts can point you in an alternative direction where we all were meant to be.

In scripture, there are literally dozens of times where we find where God uses the word, “REMEMBER…” Often, it is the first word in a sentence. Still, we are admonished to use our memories to combat negative, or dangerous desires, thoughts, or depression and disobedience. When we do remember what God has done in our lives, and the lives of others, we can begin to turn the tides of our seat of affections, or a darker path we weren’t chosen to walk. Yes, there’s something to turning the heart toward what we have been blessed with. Just little sprinklings of joy do this. Even if it is a petrified intestine.

Sometimes under “R” in your phone index, a simple line of sweet remembrance, refreshes when taken from fuel for the race.

“But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings.” Hebrews 10:32 (NAS)

Antique Value

“So keep your auditions for somebody
Who hasn’t got so much to lose.
‘Cause you can tell by the lines I’m reciting.
I’ve seen that movie, too.”
(1973) “I’ve Seen That Movie, Too” Recorded By: Elton John Composers: Elton John & Bernie Taupin

As long as I can recall, I have always loved old buildings, old architecture. One of my very favorites would be old theaters. After I moved to Buffalo, NY, I had the privilege of visiting a few old theaters, even performing in a couple of them. Coming from Texas, where most of the oldest theaters were built in the 1920’s-1930’s, with some rare exceptions, our culture was just catching up. However, up north, where vaudeville reigned supreme, the old theaters go way back into the 1800’s, some even dating back to the 1700’s. So, please understand, when I say a Texas theater is considered old when it debuted in the 1930’s, we are talking about a pioneering land.

My mom has fond memories, from the 1940’s and 1950’s, of her small town theater, (movie house) where she and her two brothers would spend Saturday afternoons watching Roy Rogers, Mickey Mouse, and Laurel & Hardy on the big screen. In fact, my very first memory of being inside a theater was in that same movie house in Greenville, Texas. I must have been 3 years old. (1963). All I recall is the movie being a western.

My hometown, Carrollton, Texas, northern suburb of Dallas, has a very similar theater which is considered a true Carrollton landmark. The Plaza Theater. Recently, some friends visited the cinema from the days of yore, in the old downtown square.

Carrollton had its pioneer families settling here in the 1830’s and 1840’s. It was good farmland, as well as a prime location for cattle ranches. Before you could say, “Remember The Alamo”, the railroad came through and Carrollton built its own train depot, which still stands today about five blocks from my house.

Photo: City of Carrollton Centennial Calendar Train Depot

The old Carrollton square was the original downtown business district. Most of the buildings still stand, but have been refurbished in one way or the other. A lot of urbanization is changing the old square area. One building of note, the old bank building, which sits on the northeast corner of the square. A couple of locals, Bonnie and Clyde, paid a visit to that institution in their day. It’s a retail business today.

Photo: City of Carrollton Centennial Calendar Bank

The other businesses in that time were exactly what you would expect from an old pioneering farming town. There was a pharmacy, a hardware store, a seed and feed store, grain storage elevator, barbershop, etc., complete with hitching posts for the horses. But the main feature in the downtown area would be the gazebo. Once a community artesian water well, it sits in the middle of the square. Through the decades, many band, choir, and chamber orchestra performances have graced the old gazebo, including yours truly. Even local beauty pageants have been decided there. CBS TV show, “Walker Texas Ranger” was filmed in and around the square many times.

Photo: City Of Carrollton Centennial Calendar Gazebo

Sitting now, on the south side of the square, is the old Plaza Theater, built in 1949. One of the outstanding highlights was that the Plaza was the first building in our town to have…(what for it)…AIR CONDITIONING! In Texas, that’s a must! As I type this, it’s 108/f outside.

I moved here in 1973. At that time, the old Plaza was still playing current movies, and some throwbacks for nostalgia purposes. I remember some old silent flicks running through the projector room. Many of my old high school friends talk about the movies they saw there as kids. Disney’s original, “Cinderella”, “Mary Poppins”, and “Bambi”. One friend tells me about a time in the 1960’s, The Three Stooges appeared there for some live gags during a Three Stooges festival, of sorts. Imagine, nothing needing a rating system. You didn’t have to fear shielding your kids from nudity, ideological indoctrinations, or obscene language. Those were the days.

Others, from my mom’s generation, love to talk about the wooden fold-down chairs, huge lollipops, and enormous dill pickles for a dime just waiting by the popcorn machine. However, by the time I arrived in town, my generation was the first to experience the mall cinemas, or multiplex theaters. That was the beginning of the death of the old, one-screen palaces our folks grew up with.

Through the decades the old Plaza has gone through lots of changes, with many owners. It survived at least two major historic floods from the swollen Trinity River which runs just west of the square. For many years it sat lifeless as the building began to show signs of a much needed repair, or overhaul. In fact, this shot was taken my freshman year to be the cover of our yearbook. As you can see, when comparing to the other picture, some of the changes to the front entrance since 1975.

Photo: Carrollton’s RL Turner High School 1975 yearbook

Recently I discovered something I didn’t know about the old Plaza history. The Carrollton square had an original Plaza Theater, but it was located on the west side of the square. It was opened in 1938. The building remains to this day, but now it is a gift and curio shop.

Photo: City Of Carrollton Centennial Calendar Original Plaza Theater

Carrollton’s Plaza Theater has transformed into many venues during the post-movie decades. There have been live plays performed there, ballet, business meetings, concerts, Elvis impersonators, church services, dinner theater, private parties, and dancing events, etc. It’s been gutted, reworked, repainted, added construction, and refinished. All of these changes in one place, but the old memories for so many still remain.

There’s just something about walking into an old place, with all its deco décor, painted trim high ceilings, slanted floors, and that musty hint in the air. Some have glorious winding staircases to a balcony, printed carpeting, with some displaying chandeliers. I love the little ticket box outside, just big enough for one ticket clerk with popcorn wafting in the air. Those were the days.

One might say it’s a desire for the old things, the old ways, the old founder’s culture. Honestly, for me, there might be some truth to that. Others might say, it’s just an appreciation for the solid architecture, craftmanship, and historical sites. There again, for me, that is partially true. Some might say it’s a love of the imagination. And, I do tend to step into a building, which dates back to my great grandparents, and imagine myself being there, enjoying life as they lived it. It could be the same reason why antique stores are in such demand. I also think about the relationships that were growing in and out of that entertainment venue. How many dated their future wife or husband inside the doors of the old Plaza? I do wonder. Summing it up, I think it’s all of the above for me. Frankly, for many, antique things are a waste of time and space.

One certainty nobody ever discusses about “the old days” which should be brought up.

The downtown square, including the Plaza Theater, was closed down on Sunday mornings. Many, all day and night on Sunday. Back then, most were going to church services, including the business establishment owners. If there was an owner who didn’t attend church services, they stayed closed on Sundays because of simple neighborly respect for those of faith in the community. I am no religious legalist by any stretch, I often buy groceries on Sundays. I have no problem doing so.

If you have lived long enough, you know the common values our communities shared. Now, it is considered antique values. The days for respecting the “day of rest” is long gone, and so is my rose colored glasses.. I do have a solid rock I stand on Who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That is a comfort.

There is renewal, refurbishing, and remodeling found in the old pages of fuel for the race.

“Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.” – King Solomon – Ecclesiastes 7:10 (NAS)

A Lovely Lady, Indeed

“My love, there’s so many ways I want to say I love you
Let me hold you in my arms forever more…”
(1980) “Lady” Recorded By: Kenny Rogers Composer: Lionel B. Richie

Reading the lyrics to this great old ballad, you get the hint of an undying, long-lived love for the ages, the stuff of thick novels. Before you read on, just know you might have the wrong idea. However, this is a great love story.

For mid June, the weather could not be more perfect for outdoor plans for the Havens family in Idaho Springs, Colorado. In fact, dad had the garage door opened as he was working on a project in the garage. The four young kids, and Lady, their mid-sized chihuahua-pit bull mix, were enjoying their time in the fenced-in yard, playing on the swing-set, while mom was close by, listening to the sounds her little joys at play.

The scene was not unusual for them. Outdoor fun was a natural for the entire family. They had been peacefully living in that house for nine years without a peep of trouble among the woods with its beautiful Colorado countryside.

Suddenly, without warning, the happy sounds of children’s playtime on the lawn was brutally interrupted by an awkward, uncharacteristic aggressive barking and growling from Lady. She could not stay silent, even after the kids admonished her for the ultra loud vocals. Mr. Havens heard the commotion from the garage and took a peek from the driveway. There, just feet away, behind his little girl on the swing, was a large approaching mountain lion, clearly in a stalking prowl, inching toward the little girl. Before he could get the words out of his mouth, Lady ran between the kids and the preying mountain lion, charging the big cat without hesitation. The family momentarily froze. As Lady ran into the battle, like a knight in shining armor protecting a princess, dad began to shout with every ounce of volume he could muster.

“GET IN THE HOUSE! NOW!!! GET IN THE HOUSE, RIGHT NOW!”

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Running up stairs to a bedroom window, they peered out to see the fierce war going on outside. Although Lady was much smaller than the mountain lion, she took the defensive battle to the wild cougar. The family did not own a firearm, with the exception of a BB gun. Dad shot at the lion, to no avail. Mom grabbed items in the room to throw at the beast, but the bloody battle ensued, regardless. The police were called. When they arrived, the big cat had pinned a badly wounded Lady on the turf, having its violent ways with her. The officers shot at the lion several times with non-lethal ammo, and finally, with a blood soaked muzzle, the mountain lion slowly walked away and up a small hill just outside the fenced area.

The Havens family rushed downstairs with tears rolling down their faces. As they opened the door to the yard, poor, wounded Lady somehow found the strength to stand and walk toward her family, into the house where she knew love and care. Immediately, dad saw how serious the injuries were, which included a multi-punctured skull. He wrapped a blanket around her and held her as even then, through her moans and whining, she tried to jump out of his arms to be next to the children she had just saved from a terrible attack.

The family knew the time for Lady was precious as they loaded up the car for the nearest animal clinic. It was there the vet expressed the hopeless diagnosis they didn’t want to hear. Lady’s massive injuries were too extensive and irreversible. It was best to put her down. The four kids, mom and dad, all wrapped their arms around dear Lady as they thanked her for sacrificing her own life to rescue those she loved. With a great amount of personal loss, dad carried her back to a room where Lady was gently, and peacefully rescued from her critical condition.

When I read this heartbreaking story of Lady and her defiant stance against the enemy of her family, I saw us. I imagined you, me, and my neighbors.

There they were, happy, joyful, playing together on their own lawn where it is safe and secure. Right? After all, it was a fenced-in yard, a lawn with boundaries, a protected place of freedom and shelter. The gate wasn’t open. The fence was not breached. Nightfall had not yet arrived. Still, a ferocious enemy, without love for the children, without a sense of honor or respect for this family unit, found within its longing for the blood of the child, exercised the ability to leap the boundaries set in place. Lady was gallant, even sacrificial in the moment, without hesitation, she was outweighed, outsized, and out muscled. The claws and fangs of the enemy were far beyond the caliber of sweet Lady.

Today, many in America are indeed “waking up” to the claws and jaws of the enemy. Yes, Woke crowd, we get it. You have awakened a sleeping bear. Hibernation is over.

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

The attack is carefully strategized. Destroy the child physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When the youth of America are killed prior to birth, when hateful ideology clouds the minds of our school children, when drag queens want to boldly indoctrinate our young ones, when violence and murder are celebrated and encouraged, when our youth has no clue of God, and God’s sacrificial love for them, the future is firmly in the paws and jaws of the enemy. For sure, the enemy is beyond just crouching at our door.

You might feel like Lady against a large mountain lion on the prowl. I admit to feeling that way. Is my bark greater than my bite? Scripture tells us that we are NOT alone, nor do we fight alone for righteousness sake. Our cat is far bigger! Just ask Aslan.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When lacking the fierceness needed to protect, find courage in fuel for the race.

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8 (NAS)

Rights And Lefts

“People smile and tell me I’m the lucky one.
And we’ve only just begun.
Think I’m gonna have a son.
He will be like she and me, as free as a dove,
Conceived in love.
Sun is gonna shine above.”
(1970) “Danny’s Song” (Even Though We Ain’t Got Money) Composer: Kenny Loggins

It was an unanticipated event. Unexpected, you might say.

1968 was a landmark year for Danny, and his girlfriend, Sheila. It wasn’t their first choice, or their second. Yet, God had other plans. When the news came from the doctor that Sheila was expecting, the sky didn’t fall. The earth didn’t stop revolving. The stars continued their sparkle. In their case, the two were very much in love, even though unmarried, it didn’t matter. A new dynamic had surrounded the two young people, which changed their navigation in life. Danny was so pumped about the idea, that he wrote a letter to his younger brother about his circumstances and the new developments. It was THAT letter which made up much of Kenny Loggins’ lyrics of the very famous song, most remember as, “Even Though We Ain’t Got Money”. (Anne Murray would also release it in 1973. It became a huge hit with her offering of the song.)

One might say, “Sure, but they were in love. They were a couple. Abortion was illegal, and not an option for an unmarried couple in 1968.” Yes, it’s true. Danny and Sheila were in love, choosing pre-marital sex in their relationship. True, abortion wasn’t available legally at the moment, if that was a choice Sheila wanted to make. But, what if the opposite were true. What if Danny and Sheila were not serious lovers of the heart and soul? What if they lost their sexual composer on a date out on a moonlit beach without planning a long-lasting future? I’ll go further than that. What if Danny was over aggressive in the sexual heat of the moment, and a date rape occurred? (This is how I was conceived in 1959.) Now, let’s take all of those hypothetical questions, and add a hard question from the fabric of reality check. Ready?

Would the baby inside Sheila’s warm, nourishing, and protective uterus, suddenly changed into a glob of tissue, a tumor, or an intrusive bio-matter of a cyst if the love didn’t exist? The honest answer hits us in the face like a Boston Cream Pie. No, the baby would not suddenly transform into a knot of fat and gristle. In fact, Sheila and Danny’s baby is about 53 years old this year. You know why? Because when he was conceived inside Sheila, there was nothing, nada, zero, to be added to his DNA to make him a newborn baby boy nine months later. Everything he needed to grow into a 8 pound baby, who would seek a nipple even before birth, was already there in the beginning of the union of the egg and the sperm. There would be no need for a fairy to come along with a shaker of pixie dust to anoint his expanding cranium to complete the make-up of humanity. Unless a horrible deadly health issue invaded his body, or an abortionist’s steel bladed tool attacked his limbs and head from outside the protective womb, he would be a 53 year old man by 2022. Danny and Sheila’s love for one another had nothing to do with his development and growth. Danny and Sheila could’ve broken up before his birth, and not one piece of his DNA, his structure, his brain, his heart, would be subtracted to make him less human.

Nov 1987 – Tabitha, my first, and me without any sleep.

Roe V Wade was overturned in the U. S. Supreme Court a few days ago. They call it, “The Supreme Court” because that is the institution’s nature. The nine justices who are honored to have a chair in the highest court in the nation, are vigorously screened, reviewed, researched, and grilled prior to a vote of approval on Capitol Hill. These individuals, are seated as justices in the high court partially due to their individual swearing oaths to uphold and protect the constitution of the United States, not holding to their personal choices, whims, or outside influences and payola. Integrity is not just a word, but rather a code inside the decisions of weighing the written laws of the land with the constitution as the standard by which they are to write legal decisions. They vow NOT to wear blue or red robes, but black ones. There is to be no evidence of political bias, not even a hint, seen in their documents. Yet, that is exactly what happened in 1973 when Row V Wade was debated and decided using ideology from the left. It simply was not a case for the Supreme Court. Simply put, the constitution could not deliver such rulings on if abortion is to be legalized in all 50 states. Abortion ENDS human life. It keeps a nephew of Kenny Loggins from being a 53 year old man, with a career, a family, a contributing citizen of the United States. The constitution will not defend ending a child’s life, in or outside the uterus, or in some cases, the actual birth canal, (Partial Birth Abortion.

(Keep in mind, the recent decision from the Supreme Court simply puts the abortion issue back in the individual states where the voters decide on the local levels.) It’s freedom, it’s liberty at its best! Abortion is a procedure that will be kept, or denied by the citizens who go to the ballot box in each state. In other words, Uncle Sam doesn’t keep babies from the abortionist tools, or provides the facility where the remains of babies are sold to research facilities, or the bio dumpsters. Only WE THE PEOPLE, the Texans, the Floridians, the Alaskans, the New Yorkers, will make that choice for our own states. No liberty is lost!

Assumptions can murder. The lies spread about the Court’s decision began immediately from the left, for those who refuse to look at the law, the constitution, or the case involved which brought it to the floor, in order to bolster deceit in the minds of such. There are those in Washington who toss fabrications professionally in order to keep their political power, just for the chess pieces who would rather wallow in emotion, instead of reality. Unfortunately, this is how people get killed, property gets torched, and wars can ignite. The wisest will resist kneejerk reactions and research what they read, or hear. Verification is essential to discovering the truth of matters.

Even technology, normally worshipped by many, has progressed to the point where we now have no excuse to understand when life actually begins in the womb. Not long ago, we had no way to prove it scientifically. Too often, science is only praised if it fits the narrative of weak-minded ideologues. Medical advancements, and digital computerized 3D imaging can now “boldly go where one one has gone before.” When one chooses to let go of their spray painted signs of protest, their masks, and their hoodies, and look up the videos and pictures of the growing child in the uterus, a truth pie arrives for the face. However, most want their ideology to last, therefore staying ignorant is bliss. Shameful, really.

Photo by Cleyder Duque on Pexels.com

We have learned, through incredible medical technology, the heartbeat of the unborn child is “detected” at six weeks after conception. The heart is developing prior to that, but the “detection” of the actual beat can be heard and seen at six weeks. That’s two heartbeats inside Sheila, the pre-birth infant’s heart, and her heart. Tragically, there are now videos showing the growing baby pushing back away from the abortionist’s blade, or vacuum tube for the brain, as it approaches the infant’s body. We now have video of the reaction of the baby as it shakes in pain when the chemical begins to burn the skin during a chemical abortion. One former abortion nurse reported how the screams of the baby can be heard in some procedures, including when the child is dying “outside” the birth canal. We wouldn’t do that to puppies! Am I right? We spend millions on saving the seals in the artic from being clubbed to death for their coats. We spend the same on saving sea turtles when hatched in the sands of beaches. Why do we nod and look away when we slaughter human babies approaching birth? Enough said.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

During my sophomore year in high school, my girlfriend’s name was Sheila. (No, not Danny’s Sheila.) Shortly after we broke up, she became pregnant during a first date with her next boyfriend. The news was hard, but I was proud of her when she made the choice to carry him full term. She named him, Barry. She raised him. He is now 44 years old. I just had the honor of meeting him at his grandparent’s memorial service last week. He has a wife and two children of his own now. A fine, happy man.

I have had other close friends who chose abortion due to events of unexpected pregnancy. One dear friend had three performed in her 20’s. One woman I worked with had…12, yes, 12 in her lifetime. My ex-wife had two abortions prior to our relationship. During my radio career, I have interviewed many involved in the abortion field, crisis pregnancy center directors, doctors, nurses, and the women who have had the procedure who claimed they were marked for life. The stories were consistent. It seems there is damage to the very soul of the woman involved, while the abortionist, gladly pockets her money and shows her the door. Trust me, I know the pain, the fear, the damage, the psychological monkey on the back concerning this deadly decision. There are choices, choices for avoiding killing the girl, or boy dependent on the mother for survival, for the mother of right choices.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

God, whether one acknowledges Him, or not, will be one’s judge. He, not me, will be the final Court of Supremacy. With that said, if one is angered by the overturning of Roe, upset by the Court’s decision, marching and rioting due to the outcome of judicial debated, one must ask of oneself a question, if not in denial. The question is, why are you disjointed over the fact that millions of babies will live? Why are you enraged over the fact that YOU, and your neighbors on the local level, get the freedom to choose if infants are to be slaughtered in your state? What causes the outrage, the insanity of inward collapse knowing more babies will survive the tongs and blade?

Those in the camp of outrage over this decision by the highest court in the land are doing so under the lie of “women’s rights”. Some, “women’s health”. While others would march under the umbrella of, “A woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body.” In such thoughts, the idea is to place SELF as #1. If honest, they cannot argue the fact of priority placement. It’s the idea of “convenience” to stamp out a child’s life in order to not accept responsibility for one’s actions, to avoid putting a child first before self, or to avoid disruption of daily status quo. Tattoo your baby. Dye the infant’s hair purple and green. Pierce the child’s ear and nose. But there is no right given by God, nor the constitution of these United States, to kill the baby entrusted to you, especially to satisfy your personal notions.

2001-D’Anna, my youngest daughter. She was going to be premature with under developed lungs. The possibility of a disabled baby was very much real. After 24 hours in a incubator in ICU, she was breathing on her own. Yes, weaker lungs than her sisters, but a true flower in my garden.

God gives life, even if the mother is avoiding Him in life. He states in scripture, He is the “Lifegiver”. The rights given to a woman, and man, are given from above, so says our founding father’s documents. How can one, “pursue happiness” if that one has suffered the blades of an abortionist in the sanctuary of the womb? We do not have the right to kill children. We have the right to aid them, keep them healthy, nurture them, but not to end life. We should hold up the standard to have the right to do what we want with our own bodies…but we do not have the right to destroy the body of another who does not share her organs, her spirit, her soul. The woman in the clinic’s stirrups, isn’t there to abort herself, to end her life, to rid herself of a limb, or an eye, or a foot, or a cancer…she is there to rip apart another person’s living body. Dare to educate yourself by watching the videos that are now available.

Date raped at 15, my mom made the choice to carry me to term. However, depression from the sexual attack almost destroyed her, even to the point of two attempts at suicide, she survived by God’s amazing grace…and that’s why I can write to you today.

Danny and Sheila had a baby boy named, Colin in 1969. When he wrote to his brother, Kenny Loggins, Colin had already been born. Danny and Sheila did marry soon after, even though they ain’t got money.

On this road of LIFE, there will be unanticipated issues. Yet, LIFE needs fuel for the race.

” I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,” – Deuteronomy 30:19 (English Standard Version)

A Door Propped

“Someone’s knockin’ at the door. Somebody’s ringin’ the bell…” (1976) “Let ‘Em In” Recorded By: Paul McCartney & Wings Composers: Paul & Linda McCartney

The phone rang. I saw on the ID that it was my eldest daughter, Tabitha. It was an early morning, about 6am, so I wondered why she would be calling so early. Of course, right away, one conjures up a trauma, or an emergency where I might be needed. After her typical hello, and how are you, I quickly learned of her horrid situation.

“Dad, we have a plumbing problem.”

She knows me better than that. I do not have talents on that side of my brain. After asking a couple of questions, she described the issue. It seems her family wakes up to dry toilets. Each morning, they have to flush their toilets to fill the bowls up again. Basically, she wanted to know if I had ever experienced this phenomenon before in any house or apartment from my past. After making a joke about heavier gravity in her neighborhood, and aliens abducting H2O for experimental purposes, she began to brainstorm for herself.

A few days later, my phone “dings” with a text message. It was from Tabitha. It was a simple, short and sweet text, with a photo. It simply read,

“I caught the alien overnight taking toilet water samples.”

Meet Bear, a beloved Great Pyrenees. He is relatively new to the family, and still a huge puppy. With a giant head, much like a polar bear, he somehow finds a way to get his head in the toilet whenever he gets thirsty overnight. Oh, the joys of being a dog.

Much laughter came from my end that day. Naturally, I called her with the news that most dog owners, including myself, have had such potty mouths in our family. She insisted on keeping him in the house overnight. My remedy was to simply form the routine of closing the bathroom doors at bedtime. This worked well, until my son-in-law left the bathroom door slightly ajar one night. Well, if you’re a dog owner, you know that if a door is not shut completely, they will nudge a way in. Bear may be a puppy, but he is no fool. He wants that fresh, cool water from the bowl of porcelain.

I guess if a family isn’t particular of what their dog consumes, I will assume an open bathroom door is a gateway for liquid pleasures for a dry tongue. In time, the dog owner just gets adjusted to the sounds of lapping coming from the open doors of invitation. A hard, decisive choice is in order.

Since Thanksgiving last year, I have had my dementia stricken mom living with us. Her favorite pastime is watching television. It’s no wonder. For about 15 years she lived without a working TV in her house. She missed it greatly. She always loved the one-eyed monster ever since her parents obtained a TV in 1957. A true transition from radio. However, television programming has changed over the years. During the last few months I have come to realize my own desensitizing of audio/visual content in my own living room.

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For as long as I can recall, I have always been very protective when it came to my mom. As an only child with a single mom, I am sure it came to me easily.

Without any sense of planning, I found I suddenly was far more keen to the content coming out of the speakers, and the visuals flung at us viewers through the flat digital screen. Whatever it is inside me which automatically wants to hold up a shield in front of my mom, as well as my kids when they were growing up, it is activated greatly way too often now. As we are watching selected programming, I find I am more aware of what the producers and writers present on certain shows. Off we go then to something more benign to the ears and eyes. Today, I realize older programming, from a few decades back, tends to be the better choice for my mom. Obviously, there are exceptions to the more recent productions, but it’s a learning curve of “parental guidance”. So for her viewing hours it’s, The Waltons, Little House On The Prairie, Andy Griffith, Bonanza, Touched By An Angel, etc.

Unfortunately, even the national newscasts are often too liberal with language, or even the captions, “You voted for that !@#*>%!, you sorry, >^@!**!”. Don’t you just love how they don’t mind bleeping out the majority of the words, but they feel the need to spell it out with “***t”, or “you stupid ***ch”? Often times, the words aren’t bleeped. I mean, really. Why have we stooped so low in this culture to air out profanities as if we were all sailors on the high seas engaged in battle? Why is it, you can’t eat a dinner as you watch the 5 o’clock news without being blasted with vulgarities? We once believed in the edit buttons in this country. Not so much anymore. Just who gave permission to assault us all with airing out vulgarity? Even now, it’s tough to find a next door neighbor who can tame his/her mouth over the fence line.

The visuals are not much better. Tell me, if you can, why is it we must see the actual footage of a victim on the street being murdered, beaten, stabbed, shot, etc? The news item might come with a verbal warning, “We warn you. The following clip may be disturbing.” How does the image of seeing someone being slaughter enhance my life? How does seeing a image of a video of a blurred out woman being raped in the subway increase my knowledge of what happened that day? Intelligent viewers know what the act of rape is. How does a news clip of the rantings of a disturbed individual, laced with verbally violent F-bombs and finger shooting, (because he/she has lost the ability of self-control), enriches my day, or gives me better understanding of the story? Can you tell me? There was a producer behind a desk which made that decision. Possibly some news editor was persuaded to leave in as much gore and vulgarity as the FCC allows to sensationalize the story that much more.

Erosion of a society has reactions. The tearing down of a society creates cause and effect. Our children and grandchildren pay in the end. We, the people, shut God out, deny the power of His Spirit and His laws, ignoring His benefits. We, the people, have left the door open, an invitation to air out in public, what was once taboo, hidden in the darkness, and held back due to honor, respect, and love for others. We, the people, have said yes to the potty mouth. Whether in ignorance, or intentional, we, the people, have left a door ajar for smut from the enemy of humanity. We, the people, have applauded the board rooms of the studios in Hollywood to be filled with individuals who push the envelope, nudge open the door to the porcelain bowl as much as allowed…for now. Agendas, self-rebellion, and lack of true love for others, stirs this poisonous stew while serving it up to a public who claims to approve with their shrinking dollars.

After a beautiful day of elementary school graduation ceremonies, and award presentations to deserving students, a good natured teacher at Robb Elementary School, for whatever reason, propped open the back door of the school in Uvalde Texas . Harmless act, really. No matter the reason, the propped open door was the breech in school security in which the murderous 18 year old took advantage of that fateful day leaving 21 dead, most were under 11 years old.

At this time, the investigators are continuing their work. For now, we do know, this twisted mind of mush, bent on shooting his grandmother in the face, then slaughtering innocence at the school he once attended as a child, was deep into digital war games where you kill people to rack up high scores in very realistic simulations. Honestly, these types of video games should be restricted to military training. For a mentally disturbed young person, this can be a deadly concoction. This is the trend, this form of entertainment, are seen in almost every mass shooting from young men turned monsters. If a young person, especially a mentally ill young person, has an addictive personality, digital killing software sours and desensitizes the soul. This boy from Uvalde, Texas, found an invitation through an open door, not just at Robb Elementary, but way before in cyberspace.

Equally, a young mind of mush, in upstate New York, found an open door to a contaminated porcelain bowl of choice in recent weeks. As he drank from the filth fed to him from “true” white supremacy doctrine online. Like a fool, he marinated in this toilet water of lies day and night. Influenced by the enemy of humanity, he was indoctrinated into a deformed worldview which always leads to destruction in one slant or another. The door to this particular latrine of hate, put a ring through his nose and pulled him into viewing mainly black people and Jews as slime to be slaughtered before they replace the white race. This is an ancient evil designed to destroy the very souls of men and women. It is murderous before a finger touches a trigger, before the long drive to Buffalo, NY takes place, before he aimed at a sweet, loving elderly African American woman as one of his first victims in the parking lot of Tops Grocery Store.

Some politicians immediately want to ban specific guns, or guns all together. Did you know more murders occur using a hammer as a tool than guns? It’s true. Will we ban hammers? Will we ban knives, swords, propane tanks, Chevys used to mow down pedestrians?

The better question might be, the obvious…where are the parents???? Better yet, where are parental controls in the home? Where is the guidance? The indoctrinations take time, seductive hours. WAKE UP, PARENTS! Your child is YOUR responsibility! If you are not computer, or cyber savvy, you know someone who is that can review what your child is watching on screen. FIND OUT! If something odd is being said on a social media platform that looks deviant and harmful, report it! There are 19 dead children in Uvalde, Texas who needed someone close to this teenager to monitor him. What a shame, in the aftermath of such mass killings, for a parent to say, “I’m shocked. He was always so quiet. He was a real loner. Spent lots of time online in his room, not bothering anybody.” WAKE UP!

Yes, like Bear, the White Pyrenees, we, the people, are being slowly seduced through the open door toward a bowl of porcelain, This was not meant for us. God raised up this nation to refuse corruption, sin, and the slippery slope of ancient civilizations who are no more.

A spring of living water spews from fuel for the race.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Paul from Philippians 4:8 (NIV)