Those Wild & Wacky Weeds

“Down the road I look and there runs Mary, Hair of gold and lips like cherries.  It’s good to touch the green, green grass of home.”  –  Green, Green Grass of Home.  Composer:  Claude “Curly” Putman, Jr.  Recorded by:  Porter Wagoner (1965).

We’ve only been married for two years.  Michelle is a green thumber with big landscaping ideas.  She not only talks the talk, but she walks it, too.  Over the last two years I’ve seen her magical touch on our property.  As for me, not a chance.  That’s a talent I don’t have.

Springtime in Texas is sweet and sour.  The sour part would be the pollen, outrageous storms, and the fresh crop of weeds common in mostly central and east Texas.  She has been hiring a lawn care service to do the mowing and edging for some time now, but there’s drawbacks to their work.  They tend to bring unwanted seeds of weeds with them under their well-used mowers, planting our lawn like ants to an ant pile.  Arg!  Again I say, Arg!  So, with a bit of angst from my side of things, we politely discontinued the service.

In Texas we must have hundreds of species of weeds.  The most hated, the most dreaded, prickly thick-stalked dandelions.  They can grow a good four to five feet high if untouched.  Then there are some less visible.  Some are actually kind to the eyes, as some of them have handsome blooms…at first.

Weeds

The trouble goes beyond mowers that just worked over a field of various weeds.  There’s also the neighbors.  Across the street from us, is a lawn doubling as a “weed nursery”.  Sure, they mow them down, but of course they grow back in about six days.  Moreover, the wind blows the seeds across the street to our lawn.  (Have I written “Arg” yet?)

Michelle seems to have some reservoir of energy I was not gifted with.  Her mapped out solution for our growing weed crop is to pull them out by the roots…each and every one of them.  Yes, you read me right…EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM!  “No weed-wacking or chemical spraying at our place,” says the lady of the house.  That would be my way of doing things, right or wrong.  Believe it or not, she finds pleasure in doing it.  I applaud, bring her glasses of chilled water and remind her of sunscreen.  (Michelle is a ginger.)  She sees those pesky weeds as an enemy to be pulled out and bagged before they choke-out our mix of St. Augustine and Bermuda grass.  If weeds had brains, they would be slick and wise world conquerors.  Bless their little hearts.

Currently, she is hand-tilling the ground, foot-by-foot, and replanting more St. Augustine, while fighting the onslaught of our unwelcomed weeds.  It’s lots of hard work.

St. Augustine Grass

As I was carrying bags of the adversary out to the curb for trash pick-up day, I was hit with a life application.

Weeds are spoken of in the Bible.  And yes, scripture spotlights the fact they were the target of angry farmers.  Jesus mentioned horticulture many times.  When it comes to weeds, or weed-wanna-be’s, He made various teachable moments out of them.

One of my favorites is a vivid, picturesque scene of a farmer planting good seed for the season.  Jesus gave a parable about a farmer tossing good seeds where some found good, unhindered soil for sprouting and growing  Then He told another side concerning a failed crop.  Some seeds were burned out by the hot sun, withering before they were watered.  Other seeds landed on shallow ground dotted with rocks where they never took root.  Some landed well, but the birds, circling above, quickly swooped down and picked the ground clean.  Then there was the batch of seed that landed among thorny bush plants.  (Easily translated into prickly weeds.)  Wouldn’t you know it, the thorny bushes choked-out the growth of the intended crop.

There’s a huge amount of application to the parable, which He spelled out when His hearers asked to explain the meaning.  The seed represented words from God delivered to humanity.  In fact, He stated that people are also like the seeds spread on the ground who are within earshot of the words.  Some will grab hold of God’s love letter, the Bible, and apply the contents to their lives.  Others will not, as the words fail to take root in the heart, the core, where faith resides.  Ouch!  That’s skin off my nose.

When He gets to the seeds which landed in the weed patch, he describes the weeds, or thorny bushes, as the worries of life.  Wow!  The writers and researchers who authored journals on mental health must have read the parable.  As it turns out, after two thousand years of medical studies, they discovered anxiety stunts growth.  Growth in the emotion department, mental stability, and even our physical health can be uprooted by these weeds of life.

There’s a better life meant for us.  A life unhindered.  Sure, we often see the dandelions sprawling in our path, so we strike up the mental mower.  We try everything, don’t we?  A dose of this drug, or a glass of this or that will shake it off.  A date night with someone who promised us the world will be a good weed-wacker…until the morning alarm goes off.  For clarity, we can sit in the lotus position and empty our minds with some suggested introspection for a few minutes.  (I used to do that.)  However, in six days, or six hours, or six minutes, or less, the weeds grow back.  Ask yourself, after you succeeded in wiping away the cares of this world, if they ever came back to haunt you.  Yeah, that’s the same with me, too.  Like little wild and wacky weeds, they sprout up in the tundra of our days.

Frankly, most try to fertilize and water their lives for better days, but the peers, across the street from us, always share their seeds of weeds.  Often they unknowingly share…sometimes strategically sent.  Before you know it, influence occurs and BOOM…weeds are choking us out like an MMA fighter on a Friday night.

Worries are just like that.  As to Jesus’ point, if not careful, they can be contagious.  Hang around a group feasting on anxiety with their social diet and CHOMP….you find you’re being hindered as a person, an individual looking for a better patch of ground to root.  Then again, some worry-warts can be surrounded by an uplifting crowd and still find ways to sour-sack the days.  GUILTY AS CHARGED!  I can be a worry-wart.  It can and will mold my mental, emotional, and physical health.  The medical field has proven anxiety can cause all kinds of physical ailments, including cancer.  If you plant St. Augustine, you’ll get St. Augustine.  If you plant dandelions, you’ll get dandelions.

With all that said, Jesus indicated the weeds in life can stunt, or choke-off my spiritual outlook.  How true.  Have you ever tried to pray during sucky episodes in life?  Honestly, during those times, it feels like I’m fighting to get my prayers to pierce the ceiling, as if I’m talking to the wall.  Other times I wring my hands over a fog of uncertainties, that I have no control over, and find I neglected reading or studying scripture.  Before you can say, “Scott’s Lawn Services”, the dandelions of doubt appear in the turf.  It’s not a surprise that I dwindle in my spiritual mindset as I fight off the weeds interfering with my stride.  The good news is, in scripture, God promised to hear my concerns, even when I only hear the echo of my voice in an empty room.  My ever-growing weeds don’t hinder Him.  He defeated death on Easter.  Weeds can wilt at His voice.  Literally, that happened once when Jesus cursed a fig tree on the roadside.  He was hungry as He scouted out a fig tree which didn’t yield any figs.  He cursed it and the entire tree wilted overnight.  As usual, the witnesses around Him who saw it happen, had to pick up their jaws off the dusty sandals.  Now, THAT’S the One I pray to.

Whatever underlying issues, which feed the roots of worry, they must be yanked out at their source.  You can identify them.  I figure you know yourself pretty good.  Mowing, spraying, and masking only delays the takeover.

Ironically, the worry-weeds surrounding you today didn’t block-out God’s words if you read this post.  Mark, chapter 4 is where you can read His entire parable, along with the applications.  He never intends His words to be a mystery, or indifferent to understanding.  In fact, after He delivered the parable, He showed His intention for you with the following line…

“…He who has an ear let him hear.” (Mark 4:9)

After pulling the worries of life out by the root, it leaves room for a crop of fuel for the race.

“…And other(s) (seeds) fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit…” – Jesus – Mark 4:7 (ERV)  ‘…And others are they that are sown among the thorns; these are they that have heard the word (of God), and the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful…” – Jesus – Mark 4:18-19 (ERV)

 

As We Are Known

“I remember you from a long time ago, when my eyes were new…” (1998) “I Remember U”, Recorded by:  Chaka Khan.  Composers:  Prince, Yvette M. Stevens, Larry Graham.

Confession here:  I am so glad the above yearbook shot is in black and white.  It was a 1975 double-knit, burnt orange suit, with white-trim stitching.   Oh, and bell-bottoms with white high-heel platforms.  (OUCH!)  I was just, “Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.”

This particular post is here for one simple purpose.  I’ve experienced a phenomenon of late.  It’s been a refreshed observation, at least for me.  I’ll explain in a bit.

For several months, I have been looking forward to my high school reunion.  Finally, in late October, the two-day event came.  Many times I heard the comforting phrase, “I would know you anywhere!”  Among the festivities, a golf tournament, and a casual ice-breaker at a local club, which went into the wee hours, from what I’ve heard.  Plus, us vocalists put together a gathering of choral department alumni.  (Complete with singing some of our favorites from our choir days.)

RLT Choir Reunion Oct 2018After 40 years, (yes, I typed 40 years), here are some of us from the tenor section preparing to do some harmonies right off the page.  The “young” man on the left, with the water bottle, is yours truly.  (Ha-ha-ha)

Our sore aged feet could testify how a few of us enjoyed a tour of the old high school.  (Lots of additions and remodeling had occurred.)   Then, at a local country club, the semi-formal gala with dinner, drinks, and dancing wrapped up the benchmark hang-out.  Let me tell you, I was exhausted after the weekend was over.  Maybe not so young.

Hundreds attended our long-awaited reunion.  No surprise there, almost 900 people walked across the stage during our graduation ceremony that year.  Unfortunately, about 60 of us are deceased now, including some very dear friends.

There was the unexpected.  A few classmates, I reconnected with, had gone through huge changes.  I found strangers, who were my old friends.  For example:  An old goat-roper who is now part in the upper-class of millionaire strata.  I bumped into old known substance-abusers who are now on the straight and narrow.  And sadly, some who are still chasing the dragon, among other indulgences.  Stunned would be the word describing how I felt when a cowboy, who once was a long-haired, stoned, hippie-type, hugged my neck.  What a change!

RLT 40th Tammy Chris Mason & MeOf course, there were many deep-level, intellectual debates concerning how to change the world….NOT!

RLT Reunion with David Bradley and Sylvia's hubby, Kevin Hurd.Being an old actor/singer, there is just something to be said about the unexplained bondings of former fellow cast members, and show-people in general.

RLT 40th wTammy & Kathy Grisby Even fellow artists who recognize you before the shave and haircut.

RLT High School friends Jon Ford, Wylie Post, Kelly Kelley, Me, Gayle Moseley. May 2015I’ve said this before, there’s just something special about “old love”.  Do you agree?

DNA can be a wonderful thing to some, and cruel to others.  Unrecognizable were a few who looked at least 20 years older than most of us.  Then there were others who had barely changed at all over the last 4 decades.  One of the more humorous lines I heard at the gala was, “Hey, at our age, we NEED these name tags.”  Yes, without the name tags there would be too much time spent at guessing who was who, and fearing some feelings might be injured.  Above all, what was so evident, too many now look like their parents from back in the day.

You know what was amazing to me?  Beyond the wrinkles, weight-gain, baldness, and hair color, it was the spirit of the individual which had the outstanding identity stamp.  It’s true!  The persona of each person jumped out, as if to say, “Hey, Alan…It’s me!”

Although the words, “Spirit” and “Soul” are often interchangeable, there really is a difference.  No doubt there have been times you’ve connected with someone even before you recognized their appearance.  Unlike a bald spot, you can’t put your finger on it, and that’s the point…you can’t.

Think back on your real-world life experience.  Have you ever been drawn to someone’s very soul?  Maybe there was nothing to attract your eyes or ears, but drawn none-the-less.  Maybe it was a perfect stranger passing by on the street.  Maybe it was a chance meeting, done in a casual manner, but the spirit of that individual radiated out toward you, like waves on the beach.  Have you been there?  I must admit, I have kindred spirits in my life.  How about you?

We are triune beings.  Much like an egg with the albumen (white/clear), yoke, and shell, all three separate, yet all in one.  Our body is separate from the personality, and the personality is separate from the core essence of ourselves.  You recognize the core when gauging the turns of the heart to the right or left, up or down, and backward and forward.  THAT essence, the eternal part us, which longs for a connection with something bigger outside of ourselves, outlasts both persona and body.  THAT segment of the individual has the ability to bond with The Supreme One, a relationship which can extend beyond time and space, as we know it.  What a way to be put together.

As you know, even voices change with age, but the spirit/soul of a person will go on.  It shouldn’t surprise me in the least.  After all, Celine Dion’s, “My Heart Will Go On”, from the movie, “Titanic” reminded us.  Then there’s the Apostle Paul alluding to it about 2000 years ago.  Concerning the mystery of the afterlife, when considering his existence, outside of the physical body.  It was recited during the memorial service for Pres. George H.W. Bush.  Paul wrote…

(My emphasis.)

For NOW we see in a mirror dimly, but THEN face to face; NOW I know in part, but THEN I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NAS)

Turns out, I just might know you anywhere!

The Ancient Of Days, the Inventor of “old love”, pours it out liberally in fuel for the race.

“I will see Him myself; my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger.  My heart longs within me.” – Job 19:27 (CSB)

 

En Garde

Photo:  natinaproducts.com

“Guard well our human chain.  Watch well you keep it strong.  As long as (the) sun will shine…”  – To My Old Brown Earth, (1964).  Composer:  Pete Seeger

I wish I could tell you, but memories fade.  The name of a frequently visited mountain in northern Mexico escapes me, but it was not too far from Monterrey, Mexico, where Saddleback Mountain overlooks the city.  Forgive me for my mental erasers.

Mountain - Saddleback Mountain in Monterrey, Mexico

Photo:  Pinterest

Every summer, at the church I attended as a teenager, the youth group visited an American missionary family stationed in Monterrey, Mexico.  We teens would spend a week putting our shoulders to the plow, getting our fingernails dirty, right alongside them.  Trust me, the sun was hot, the sweat bountiful, and Montezuma’s revenge (sickness) was eventful.

Certainly, our journey to Mexico was more than just a terrific excursion, but a true life-learning experience, as well.  The time I spent there, working with the impoverished and hungry, can never be replaced.

Our budget was always low, even though we spent each year raising funds for the trip.  Our jaunt below the border, was aboard a couple of old converted (Excuse the pun.) school buses, plus a van.  Of course, when we weren’t doing missionary work, we were given tours and sightseeing trips.

One particular year, I believe it to be the summer of ’75, we went on a trip to one of the highest mountain peaks in northern Mexico.  It was an adventure, to say the least.  The trip consisted of a winding rocky road, in cork-screw style, up the mountain.  The scenery was delightful and the air was thin.  One of the first things I noticed was the uneasy pit in my belly when turning the corners.  You guessed it…NO GUARDRAILS!  It looked something like this…

Mountain Road - drivenachodrive.com

Photo:  drivenachodrive.com

Believe me when I say, the above is not much of an exaggeration.  About every mile or so, when the cliffs allowed, a second lane forked-off for a few yards, only to mesh into a single lane once again.  When a car, God forbid another bus, would come from the other direction, it was a slow, tight squeeze to get by.  At times, it was inch-by-inch.  One of our youth pastors drove our bus.  The other was driven by a layman from our congregation.  All I could do was to sit there with visions of us tumbling down the escarpment to our demise.  There’s a vague memory of holding tightly to the back of the seat in front of me as I held my breath around those curves.  I wondered if our parents would have approved of the ascent.

By lunchtime, the two buses, reached the summit, or near it.  There, we enjoyed a fun picnic as we could see forever.  Naturally, I was not looking forward to the ride back down the mountain.  Before you knew it, it was late afternoon.  The time had arrived to climb aboard the old bounce-queen for the trip down.

Although in low gear, we rode the brakes on the way down, along with great caution.  We squeaked by the corners and curves, keeping the tires as far away from the rocky edges as possible.  You know, they say not to look down, but I’m a glutton for fear.  When I wasn’t looking down the face of the cliffs, I noticed most of the girls in our group were looking down at their feet.  The thought crossed my mind that they were just not into looking out the cliff-side windows.  Then I spied a few of them praying silently.  I’m not afraid to tell you, they were time-sensitive petitions.  A nightmare was about to descend upon us all.

At one point, about halfway down, our brakes burned out.  Our quick-thinking youth pastor pulled up on the emergency brake lever immediately.  The emergency brake didn’t do much as gravity was the enemy.  An eerie hush fell over the bus.  Not one screamed, cried out, or yelled.  It was that serious.  Keep in mind, this was in the mid ’70’s, no cell phones.  Our other bus, behind us, had no clue we were in trouble.  We all feverishly stuck our arms out the windows, frantically motioning the bus to find a place in the narrow road to pass us by in order to get in front of us.  After about a minute, the driver got the idea, as we were moving ahead faster than what was required.  During this near-panic, while coasting toward complete calamity, we all looked for the road to separate into the two lanes for a safe passing.  Just before a scary bend in the road, there was a wonderful sight of the single lane breaking into two.  The rear bus quickly passed us, pulling in front of our bus before reaching the dangerous curve ahead.  As our bumpers hit we began to slow down to a welcomed stop.

THANK GOD FOR…

Guardrail - coralsales.com

Photo:  coralsales.com

Guardrails, for the most part, are something we rarely think about, or even notice.  Usually, we only think of guardrails when we hit one.  Countless lives have been saved by these extruded lengths of alloy, or concrete.  If only the Mexican government thought the same concerning that mountain road.

How many times have we put up guardrails in our lives?  Boundaries come in all shapes and sizes.  At other times, we plow-over our personal guardrails for what we believe will be better scenery.  How many times have we looked back to acknowledge moments of a downward spiral from an out-of-control drive to the edge of stability?  Oh, don’t get me started.  My life’s brakes have failed way more than I want to admit.  Sure, I could fill-up pages of blogs with my mistakes and sins, due to misguided, or misdirected notions.

When you think about it, guardrails are put in place not for aesthetic-sake.  Guardrails are not part of a conversation piece while on the road to a better place.  We drive by them at 75mph with the full throttle of taking them for granted.  The next time you are driving on a high overpass, picture the bridge without guardrails.  It gets you thinking.  Guardrails stand in efforts to protect from sheer inertia, sheer momentum.  Guardrails are placed to defend from gravity, if you should veer off-road.

Laws do the same.  Laws guard us from destruction, desolation, and death.  Laws were made to protect, like guardrails, lest we go too far to the edge of where you will not want to be.  In the same way, law is an educator, a teacher, a guide.  There’s a scriptural theme which delivers the warning signs.  In essence it says, with great wisdom, something like, “Danger ahead!  Here, and no further.”

Sign- Cliff warning

If not for Jesus, who fulfilled the Mosaic law for me, (Galatians 4:4-5) I certainly would be condemned in a million ways.  My efforts will always derail me because I’m only…(Dare I say?),  human.

If you’re like me, there is a tendency to let down the guard too often.  Sometimes we let down our guard with relationships, substances or thought-life, just to name a few.  There have been times in my life when I allowed my heart to be totally unguarded.  Like a hungry wolf, those who are bent on playing the disruptor, delusionist, and disabler, find an unguarded heart by mere sense of smell.  If you’ve not been in the cross-hairs, just wait.  You will be.  Whether it’s a drug, a person, or a darkened thought, which births action, it is wise not to be controlled by the inertia of such.  That final step is a long one.

Life is a winding trek.  Its curves are cut-out of the bedrock with unanticipated sharp turns.  Not to mention, the trip is way too short to veer off course into an abyss that is only beautiful from a distance.

An authentic, fail-safe brake system is only possible with the tested and approved, fuel for the race.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Solomon – Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

 

Dog Training

“Me and my Arrow, straighter than narrow.  Wherever we go, everyone knows it’s me and my Arrow.” – Me And My Arrow (1971) Written and recorded by: Harry Nilsson

Ah, the dog days of summer.  Finding those video clips on Facebook just kills me.  You know, the clips of a guilty dog in trouble, being confronted.  It might be a stolen cookie on the table, a trash can raid or a pile of poop in the hallway, the look of guilt on the face says it all.  I can’t hardly catch my breath from the bursts of laughter.  Cuteness on wheels.

Shorty Confession

My Shorty is a well behaved, highly intelligent dog.  Many years ago, I adopted him from a rescue operation and so glad I did.  They found him caged in a kill shelter with just days to live.  Honestly, he is one of the most obedient dogs I’ve ever had.  BUT, when he needs to be confronted about a bad decision on his part, he might first give you a look that says, “What?  All things are as they should be.”  However, it only takes a frown from my mug, or a second vocal nudge like, “Shooortyyyyy?” (Inflection going up at the end.)  That’s all it takes.  Then he goes into a different mode altogether.  Sometimes, it’s a look of denial.  He will turn his head, shifting his chocolate brown peepers away from me as if to say, “Nothing to see here.”  Or, “If I don’t look at him, the issue will disappear.”  The eyes are indeed the window to the soul.

Shorty Couch Denial

He truly speaks with his face, especially when he doesn’t want to hear the words, “Shorty, I’ve got to go, but you have to stay.”

Shorty Guilty

Because we’re so close, like Velcro, just like the “Me And My Arrow” story about a boy and his dog, Shorty knows he can find comfort with me.  There are times he even snuggles his face in the crook of my arm, or the first half of his body behind my back.

Shorty Chair Hidding

At other times, after he shakes off the initial confrontation, he distracts himself with his toy box consisting of bones.  It’s his own collection.  He drags each one out, across the rug to an area in the living room floor.  I call it his boneyard.  (He thinks he is such a fierce creature.)

Shorty Boneyard

At other times he chooses to forego my welcoming arms in efforts to comfort himself.

Shorty Chair Comfort

Way too many times I find I am being trained by my dog.  Have you ever felt that way?  I can really learn about myself from watching Shorty’s behavior.

It’s funny what guilt can do, isn’t it?  Guilt can freeze you to the point of arrested development, even if you’re 75 years old.  Guilt can cause a multitude of reactionary behaviors.  Mostly it stems from a need to cover up the pit you find yourself in.  It’s very much like a device planted in you from birth, signaling a twinge deep inside the soul flagging a misfire, a misstep away from the correct path, the better path laid out for you.  It’s what law was designed to do, to educate the perfect target intended for a peace that is the opposite of imperfection.

Maybe for you the chosen tool is temporary comfort.  Often those tools can be detrimental to your overall health, soul, spirit and body.  Guilt can cause you to shutdown altogether.  For some, it’s sleeping for 12 hours for numbing sake.  For others it’s dragging something familiar from one’s personal treasure toy box, only to find it really is a boneyard when perspective comes.  Guilt often produces a big fat plate of denial.  Like Shorty, you might just look in another direction believing the distraction you focus on will be your way of escape.  Maybe it’s in an effort to say to the guilty self, “There’s nothing to see here.  Nothing is really wrong.”  We do like smokescreens and foggy tints of grey, don’t we?  Somehow it makes it much easier to digest falling short of what it is to be at peace.  Yet, when perspective comes tomorrow, the memory of wrongful acts hits again like a pie to the face.  The morning after syndrome is so common.  Unfortunately, the process begins again like a dog chasing his tail in a loop of behaviorism.  Am I right?  Yep, me too.  We all have that gene in our DNA.  Don’t try making an attempt to cut the gene out of your strand.  You can’t.

No matter how hard we try, guilt must be dealt with.  If not, you will continue to be chewed on like an old soup bone from a box.  Too many times you have noticed you can’t drink it away, eat it away, sex it away, nor work it away.  Driving to a scenic lookout point is nice, and for the moment may ease what drags behind you, but you still have to go back home again.  There are stains, inward tattoos, you just can’t remove on your own, no matter what chemical is your favorite.

We were created that way, you know.  It’s true.  Sure, our society, our misguided culture, has degraded to a level where we trust in relativism.  What’s wrong for me might be right for you, etc.  I get it.  Even ISIS believes they are doing righteous acts.  Yet, relativism will not defy gravity at the edge of the Grand Canyon.  Gravity is gravity because gravity is absolute truth.  The top half of Shorty’s ears flop forward, no matter how hard he might try to point them upward.  That basic doctrine of relativism is faulty at best.  Do not jump off the edge of the Grand Canyon.  It’s like a house built on wet cement.  Would you do that?  The Savior available to the world put it like this, “It’s like a house built on shifting sand.” (Jesus paraphrased from Matthew 7: 24-27)

We act-out in order to cover over where our, often unspoken, fault lies.  Read the story of Adam and Eve.  When they understood they had gone against a perfect rule set for them by God Himself, they did all they could to cover it over, to hide.  That’s what guilt does.  Times haven’t changed.  It’s very much like, “If I don’t look at him, the issue will disappear.”   None of us are innocent of the perfect standard.  Try it, just for one day.

Shorty is a dog, a sweet dog with a terrific disposition, but a dog just the same.  However, in watching his little life, and his acting out, I often see myself.  In fact, Shorty may have been placed with me to be a teaching tool.  My unearned grace and forgiveness toward my pal comes from my unconditional love for him.  Unknowingly, Shorty may be showing me how God views me as His child.  It’s great training from a dog.

Shorty has it right.  Being humble enough to examine the stain on the heart is the first step toward the act of giving up and praying to the original Stain Remover.

Shorty Prays

Understanding the authentic design of the spirit and soul will expose the truth of the need for the removal of sin.  It’s an expensive spiritual surgery.  You can’t perform this surgery on yourself.  The operation has been paid for by your appointed surgeon.  I find Jesus has multiple initials after His name and covered the expense way ahead of time. 

When revived, you not only will find you are an adopted son or daughter, being held tightly to his chest, but also the recovery will require a gift from Him which is fuel for the race.

“…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Jesus (Speaking about Himself.) – Matthew 20:28 (NIV)

To Miles With Love

“There’s a feeling I get
When I look to the west
And my spirit is crying for leaving
In my thoughts I have seen
Rings of smoke through the trees
And the voices of those who standing looking
Ooh, it makes me wonder…”
Composers:  Jimmy Page and Robert Plant
“Stairway To Heaven” – Led Zeppelin, 1971

(In honor of my friend Miles.)

Out of the blue I heard you didn’t pull the cord
The parachute used to float through life has failed
They said you were sleeping, not spilled on the floor
Gigs hushed, mountains unscaled, now grief prevails

Gone are those sweet days of our youth’s resilience
You with your rock band and I with mine
Gone are the days of full volume, crushed to silence
Where are our shots of laughter and innocent times

Miles' Warrors

You faced the horror, finding your mother passed
I knew we were too young to absorb or defend
So you turned to medicate softly to deaden the gash
The depths I did not see, the mask held to the end

Miles' keyboards

Fun-loving years we gleaned, all things well considered
You covered the pain with amps, frets and strings
Watching from afar your heart and mind dismembered
In wild abandon, you fought through choking weeds

The winds of change split our paths, yours a thorny way
Decades of numbing drink with daily acid to drop
Sad, not finding you through the wars of chosen haze
Still, your talents carried you with art and prints to crop

Miles' Art

Your love spread wings, giving shelter for those in your Victorian
They say you had a lofty heart, always aiding, always there
Yet, the demonic fuel did flow, like Pilate in his Praetorium
How were you able to be played, yet show Christ’s love and care

Miles' Corvettes

The great house has been stilled, and the guitars now hung
Your Corvettes are washed and waxed with no place to go
Shelves hold your empty bottles and your dealers stunned
Like dominoes, your inspired drunks, all lying in tight rows

As for me, I couldn’t sleep the night you so quietly left us
It all makes sense as I think back on the ache in dismay
Sometimes the burn of our past brands as we adjust
But, Miles, my best memory, that glorious night we prayed

How vital to select the correct nozzle, pumping fuel for the race.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” – Jesus – John 10:27-28 (NIV)

Door Knobs Available

“The long and winding road, that leads, to your door will never disappear, I’ve seen that road before.  It always leads me here, lead me to your door.” – Composers:  McCartney and Lennon (1970)

Jerry Van Dyke passed away last week at the age of 86.  I was so sorry to hear of yet another master at comic relief leaving us with a bit less laughter than before.  His brother, Dick Van Dyke, released a statement revealing a couple of unknown facts to me.  After mentioning that Jerry had been born with a severe birth defect, an enlarged funny bone, he went on to say Jerry was in a car accident back in 2015 that began a health spiral.  As a side note, which I wholeheartedly agree with, he added that Jerry was brilliant in comedic timing to the nanosecond.  Dick Van Dyke went on to say that his brother deserved more, in that he was underrated.  I gasped when he mentioned that Jerry had turned down the role of Gilligan for a then new series entitled, “Gilligan’s Island.”  What a mistake that was.  Yet, Jerry walked through many doors to great success.  Come to think of it, in retrospect, I’ve made similar mistakes.  How about you?

A few posts ago I had mentioned that my mom inherited her parents house after they had passed away.  It was built in the 1840’s.  I know that house like the back of my hand.  One of the unique structures in the house are the cut glass door knobs.  My fingerprints can be found on every one of them going back more than five decades.  I’ve always loved how they look.  Each one has it’s own skeleton key.  Here at our house we have three from that era hanging on the wall.  The antique door knobs are great for conversation pieces.  We use them for coat hangers.  For me, they also represent a sweet and innocent part of my life with my grandparents.

For a short time, between radio gigs, I once attempted to pay my bills in the home improvement sales industry, while living in Buffalo, NY.  It placed me in many old world homes built in the days of yore, by American standards.  Some of which were mansions with four floors, pocket doors, wide hallways and high ceilings.  As you wander through those old homes, it’s easy to lose count of how many rooms the old Victorian and pre-Victorian homes have.  I don’t think I will ever forget those places I was privileged to see and experience.

As I write this line, we are in mid January of 2018.  My last two posts I had compared 2018 to a blank sheet of paper to write on, as well as a long adventurous highway.  Why not think of 2018 as a very large house that will take you 12 months to explore?  If you enter a large house with many rooms, you will also encounter a multitude of doors.

There is a hard truth here, not to be confused with a modern-day term “Your Truth,” which leaves a false idea that one truth is not another’s truth.  There’s no reasoning here to bicker over phraseology.  I am, and always will be, one who points out that there are absolute truths ruling all of us while oceans of various opinions, judgments and beliefs run around them.  Let me give you a couple of illustrations.  Example:  “Your Truth” may be that there is no Grand Canyon in Arizona.  Maybe it’s because you don’t like the thought that it is there.  Maybe you prefer beaches or forests, instead.  However, the absolute truth will kill you as you drive your car off the edge of one of its cliffs.  Example:  New Wave music (Google if needed) was once a hot item for the record industry.  However, classics remain the best and most downloaded songs.  You might say that the New Wave composer’s and producer’s truth was that it would sell.  BOOM!  It proved to be an opinion developing into a strong belief, yet the hard truth awards “Permanent Wave” tunes as champs with a longer shelf life.  Just ask Carole King, Paul McCartney or Tony Bennett.

Thus, this brings me back to the door knobs to turn or not.  The hard truth is, many doors in the house at 2018 Winding Way Street, are to be tested before opening.  Frankly, you will walk down its broad hallway and spy a few wide fancy, brilliantly painted, exquisite doors with a crystal cut glass door knob.  It will be tantalizing with almost a suction pulling you toward it.  Beware of these.  Test the door.  Many will open that over-sized door to find a room that will destroy their lives.  It may be a door to a new, but devastating, relationship that rips out the heart, throws you into poverty and bankruptcy with anguishing life-long nightmares in the end.  It may be a job opportunity with a very flaky or questionable organization that leads to nowhere.  Maybe the beautiful immense door opens you up to a substance designed to draw you closer to a stroke, heart-attack or a personality alteration that robs you of your own family.  Oh, please, test that door.

There will be door knobs to turn that are intended for your hand.  In this wide hallway, there will be rooms you should enter to brighten your very existence.  If you see a door that seems to lead to golden opportunities, knock and see who opens.  However, study well that greeter before entering.  Have lots of conversation and then assess well what they say.  Some of these doors chosen will allow you to see eternity, beyond your experiences up to this moment.  Jerry Van Dyke can tell you about missing this door.

Let me leave you with some solid advice.  I don’t consider myself old, yet I am no longer jogging four miles at lunchtime either.  My life’s journey has left me with some absolute truths that went against my original hopes, plans and opinions.  With that said, some doors will be ancient, even aesthetically not desirable at all.  Consider the wisdom of age and long life.  Review its squeaky hinges, square-top door-nails and cut glass door knobs.  Don’t be timid to turn that knob.  There are ancient ways that prove current thought to be nothing but mist or smoke.  I have also learned, when you come to a door that has you locked out, trust that.  Don’t force it, out of curiosity or frustration.  It might provide a polished skeleton key, but someone came long before you arrived and said, “Here and no further.”  Trust that.  Move on for your own safety.

The house on 2018 Winding Way Street will be filled with so many doors to chose from.  No matter what your opinion or perspective may be, or where it has led you thus far, this is a new, uncharted house.  Stop and ask the designer of this house for wisdom.  There can be joy in the exploration.  In the end, if guided wisely and choices are based on solid thought and analysis, you will discover it mixes well with fuel for the race.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” – Jesus –  Matthew 7:7 (NLT)

A Long Way From Baker Street

“Winding your way down Baker Street, light in your head and dead on your feet.  Well, another crazy day.  You’ll drink the night away and forget about everything…..Another year and then you’d be happy.  Just one more year and then you’d be happy.  But you’re crying, you’re crying now.” – Baker Street – Written and recorded by: Gerry Rafferty (1978)

There was a day when I was on a road, very similar to the one in the photo above, doing about 65 mph.  It was a sunny day and very calm weather.  The curves were easy to take and no small towns to slow me down.  Suddenly and without warning signs, about 50 yards in front of me, the road abruptly ended leaving a large deep gorge.  I slammed on my brakes as the car slid ever so close to the drop-off edge.  I held my breath as the car’s inertia brought the smoking front wheels some 4-5 inches from the abyss.  At that point, I woke up.  It is a recurring dream I have had for decades now.  I guess that’s why I still am not a fan of bridges and cliffs.

As I write this, we are about to complete our first week of Highway 2018.  I surmise it will be constructed of many curves, detours, signal lights and scenic views.  From time to time there will be places to stop and enjoy, and other times you should not stop at all, but rather put on some speed to escape the area.  No doubt the road will bring old friends and family you’ve not seen in some time.  My recommendation is to pull over and soak it up while they are still available for the visit.  As any long distance traveler knows, there is the risk of a blowout while putting rubber to road.  It always comes at the worst times and certainly never expected.  There will be weather changes.  There will be rain, driving rain, against your windshield.  Fog will roll in without a moments notice, obstructing your best view.  At times, you will lose traction and winds will test your ability to control the steering wheel.  Exercising caution on a road like Highway 2018 is always the wiser choice.  Be aware of the twists and turns Highway 2018 will deliver.  Watch the warning signs and observe them on the way.  Above all, keep your eye focused on the road ahead, lest there be an unanticipated washed-out section.

We all are born with a GPS guide.  It has proven to be a mistake to ignore it.  If you turn down the radio you can hear the smaller voice saying, “Turn here.  Go there.  That way is not negotiable.  Manage well your line of vision.  Don’t stay focused on the rear-view mirror.  Slow down here.  Don’t pass the one in front of you, notice the yellow line.”  Remember, someone has been here before and has marked the danger zones for you. Better yet, someone has paved Highway 2018 way before you arrived and knows what you have in store on your journey.

With all that said, someone once wrote, “Sometimes plodding is better than plotting.”  One foot, one mile in front of the other.  Each one is to be conquered.  Each one is to be enjoyed, savored and at times, endured.

My apologies to the late Gerry Rafferty. If your trek brings you to a detour and you find yourself on a Baker Street, take note.  That lively lane may seem like a haven, but don’t be fooled.  It’s short-lived, short on satisfaction and short on delivering promises.  Think of it as a small temporary band-aid for a shotgun blast.  My advice, take the exit ramp back to Highway 2018 as the Baker Street saxophone fades to black.

One thing is certain, treat the road well.  As you do, you will come upon fuel for the race.

“In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will make plain thy paths.” – Solomon –  Proverbs 3:6 (DBT)

 

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen…FROM???

Print of Atlas – D’aulaires’ Book Of Greek Myths

“God rest ye merry gentlemen let nothing you dismay.  Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day.  To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.  Oh, tidings of comfort and joy…”  – Old English Traditional Carol in the Roxburghe Collection – 18th Century.

As I write this, it is Christmas night in north Texas.  As you read this, wrappings, ribbons and bows are bagged up and carted away to the dumpster.  Some, not many, will drag their Christmas trees out to the curb to be recycled tonight.  Christmas 2017 is in our history now.  Or, is it?

I just returned home from a three week stay in the hospital, now recovering from a quadruple bypass open heart surgery.  The surgery was successful, but my weak kidneys suffered in the process as well as dealing with anemia due to an unexpected low blood count.  My rehab and recovery will take a few months.  As a side effect of the ailing kidney dysfunction, I have extra fluid in my tissues that needs to be taken off the body.  It literally has not only caused swelling in my frame, but has added extra body weight.  After surgery I became the Puff Marshmallow Man.  Coupled with inactivity and being anemic, I feel the extra poundage as I am learning to walk again in a walker just traveling from one room to the next.  I KNOW it would be a lot easier to maneuver rehab if I didn’t have this extra water weight hanging on my body.  Envision water balloons draping off your shins and shoulders.  It slows me way down.  In the end, it exhausts me as my energy quickly depletes.  Yet, I am grateful just to be here typing away with you.

I thought of the Greek Myth of Atlas.  As the myth has it, he was condemned to carry the weight of the heavens on his shoulders for eternity.  Now, THAT will slow you down.  There’s a terrific sculpture of him holding up the universe on his shoulders in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples. (Great artwork.  He just needs some pants.)

Similarly, because we chose to be law-breakers from the beginning, going against God’s authentic standard of righteousness, we carry the weight of our wrong-doing.  Maybe you’ve not killed someone or robbed a bank, but you have told a lie, rebelled, or had a bad thought that would condemn you in a Holy court to come.  Small sin, or large sin, it is what it is.  We step on God’s law each and every day.  Still, we carry that baggage, just like extra fluid in the body, or like Atlas condemned to hold up the universe on his shoulders without a break.

Christmas is when the True Condemner, the Judge and Jury reached out toward our exhaustion, in love and compassion, as we fail to carry about our poundage of sins, and offers eternal rest.  The manger scene in the Bible is all about lifting your burden of wrong-doing, not just now, and tomorrow, but FOREVER!  Who wouldn’t want to be released from the trillions of tons of personal guilt?  Ask Atlas if he would like for the true God to come and take the weight of the world off his shoulders and onto Himself.  I think we would hear a resounding, “YES!”…in Greek of course.  We tend to ignore the pain, shame, emptiness and utter sadness we are haunted by, when it comes to this birth defect in our spiritual DNA.  Unnecessary!  Much like stopping debt, a personal decision must be made.

Unfortunately, the older we grow, the less we think about it.  The older we grow the more we become adjusted to the bowling balls we drag around in our personal backpack.  The older we grow the more we are blinded by the fact we must have that weight in the tissues of our soul/spirit removed.  The gate of heaven is way too narrow for it all.

So, before this Christmas season is totally gone, ask the Giver of the Gift for forgiveness and rest from the trail of sin-scrape you leave behind.

We strayed from God’s perfect design for life.  The struggle continues in the here and now, and in eternity, after this body is drained of life.  However, Christmas came delivering the best news ever……God rest ye merry gentlemen.  Let nothing you dismay.  REMEMBER Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day…..”

“Come to Me, all those toiling and being burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Jesus – Matt 11:29. (BLBV)

In The Words Of David Cassidy…

“Sayin’ goodbye is not easy.  How will I ever explain?  Everyone looks just like cardboard pictures, falling apart in the rain…Running, yes I am, wave goodbye to all the trains.  If I’m looking for a river that goes on forever, then I guess I’ll have to go away.  Sayin’ goodbye is not easy.  How will I ever explain?…” – “I’ll Have To Go Away”, recorded by David Cassidy from, “Getting’ It In The Street” album, 2014.  Composers: Renee Armand & Kerry Chater

1970 was an impact year for the young David Cassidy.  The musical-sitcom, The Partridge Family, launched its first season on ABC.  The story is of a single mom with five kids heading up a pop-rock band made up of the entire family.  David Cassidy played the lead singer, Keith Partridge.  He was only 20 years old at the time.

Although Mr. Cassidy had millions of residual fans spinning off from the TV show, after the series’ end he struggled to be taken seriously as an authentic rock star.  Alcohol and substance abuse addictions plagued his journey throughout the next few decades.

Fast forward to the last couple of years, he began to experience dementia issues.  While on stage, he tussled with recalling the lyrics of his own songs, and the city and venue in which he was performing.  I personally was saddened when he passed away recently from organ failure.  The comet of this star burned out quickly.  David was only 67.

Family members of David Cassidy gathered around his bedside in ICU during his last days of life.  The reports from various family members said, when awake from a coma, he was in good spirits, considering the circumstances.   He lit up like a Christmas tree seeing many of his family walk through the door, albeit for a short time.  His daughter, actress, Katie Cassidy tweeted out a heart-wrenching statement after her father’s death.  She wrote that before his life ended, David’s final words were, “So much wasted time.”

Katie Cassidy states that she learned something from her father’s final words; may we, as well.

Singer/Songwriter, Jim Croce comes to mind from his “Time In A Bottle” classic.  “If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do, is to save every day ‘til eternity passes away just to spend them with you.”

TIME!  It’s not just the title of a magazine.  It’s ruled by the orbits and rotations of the moon and planets, so precise that all humanity survives on it to the millisecond.  Time is overwhelming in its weightiness.  The poundage outweighs the earth’s oceans.  You can’t buy it, barrow it, cheat it, shape it or maneuver it.  You can’t retract it.  You can’t delete it, displace it, delay it or deny it.  Time is a raging creature, almost stealthy with a speed which cannot be reversed.  During the trek of time, it only shifts to one gear: forward drive.  If you believe you can do the above, in the end, time will rise up, chain you and place you in the town square while selling tickets to see the town fool.  Time.  It will overtake you like a steamroller.

If David Cassidy were able to communicate to us today, I believe he would speak through the filter of a time management consultant.   Maybe he would advise us with the following.  Find the time to fill in the blank.  We are at the midnight hour of 2017.  There is still time to hug more, kiss more, write more letters, Christmas cards and emails.  There is still time to get clean and sober.  Time says, “Make that apology while you can!”  There is still more time to pick up the phone and call just to say, “I love you.”  There is still time to give of your blessings to bless someone else.  There is still time to stand in the Santa line with your favorite munchkin.  There is still time to have lunch with that old friend who helped to change your direction in life.  David might shout, “TAKE THE TIME!”

Scripture calls out the urgency of wisely using the time allotted to us.  “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today’…”  “And it came to pass…”  “The time is at hand…”  In fact, if David Cassidy could be with us today, I firmly believe he would agree with St Paul.  “Therefore watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph 5:15-16)

Take the time to add fuel for the race.