There’s Always Tomorrow

“There’s always tomorrow,
For dreams to come true,
Tomorrow is not far away.”
(1964) From the TV production, “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”. Composer: Johnny Marks

Our 2021 looks just like what we see in my cover photo above the title. A blank sheet, a clean slate, a fresh page. Notice the pen still has its cap over the business end.

I, for one, will be happy to kiss 2020 goodbye. What a nasty year. I mean that, too. Hard, harsh, disgusting, rude, violent, diseased, and dark. And yet, we were responsible for it all. Sure, we could blame others, and we do. But when in retrospect, the wise ones will say, “We made a terrible mess.” And we did.

My middle daughter, Megan sent me a couple of photos from her house in Buffalo, NY over the Christmas week. Here’s one for you.

My daughter, Megan’s street in Buffalo, NY.

I love a fresh snow. It’s the darkened, oily, old snow I look away from. Lots like 2020.

More than the blank sheet of paper, 2021 may resemble more like this…

My daughter, Megan’s backyard in Buffalo, NY.

Isn’t it true? Do you see it? If you don’t see it, you would be right. There’s 2021 right there in that shot. A fresh mound of virgin snow…lacking footprints.

With all of our flaws, our faults, our flubs, God has seen fit to graciously hand us a frsh new year for us to walk carefully onward. In a way, the Creator is saying, “Here you go. I’m allowing you another year, fresh and clean. Now walk in my ways and just see where your footprints lead.”

Our footprints will tell us not only where we go, where we’ve been, and just how heavy our stomping has been, but we will discover more about our ways.

God knows the beginning and the ending. He knows our A through Z. He knows our pre-historic days, and our eternal lives. Isn’t it fair to say, The Ancient Of Days is also, The Maker Of Our Days? With Him, the crooked is made straight. The gift of free-will demands that we choose how to walk in 2021.

It is up to us.

Tomorrow’s trek requires fuel for the race.

“You shall walk in all the way which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days…” – Deuteronomy 5:33a (NAS)

The Poundage Of It All

“…If you leave me now you’ll take away the biggest part of me…” (1976)  If You Leave Me Now,  Recorded by:  Chicago.  Composer:  Peter Cetera

The barrage has hit us.  The onslaught continues to encroach upon us all.  The public is being laminated day and night.  You know what I’m talking about.  Weight loss commercials!

Every year it happens.  With new resolutions to drop some weight and inches off the frame, the weight loss corporations pull all the stops, slamming us with opportunities to order special meals, special powders, and special pills for the cause.  “Hi, I’m Buffy.  And I lost 150 pounds on _________.”  If I see the beautiful Marie Osmond just one more time I’m going to lose weight by throwing-up my last meal.

In my younger, sporting days, I was no stranger to weight loss.  In my teens and early 20’s I was a competitive kickboxer, managing a certain weight for weight class divisions.

Me at Greek's 1977ish

During my freshman year in high school I was on the wrestling team where you were expected to meet a weigh requirement deadline for tournaments.  Early on I learned how to manipulate my body to gain, or lose weight, even to the point of dehydration.  Unfortunate for me, I got into dangerous weight loss pills, most of which are now outlawed.  Me, and my body, were at war with each other in efforts to meet the competitive expectations.

Later in life, in my late 30’s and early 40’s, I started doing the same thing to get back into top shape.  I was downing diet pills, “speed” actually, as a regular supplement.  In fact, I got up to swallowing up to 12 pills a day!  I was working out twice a day as if I were trying out for the Olympics.  The vinyl plastic sweatsuit was my semi-normal attire for a couple of years, not just while working out, jogging, or mowing the lawn, but trips to the store, too.  Yes, it stunk something awful.  Ahhhh, the price one pays.

Everlast 70 pounder

Don’t get me wrong.  Dietary issues are important, and life-saving.  We all need to work toward a healthy lifestyle, and its habits.  For some of us, even now for me, losing the poundage is bettering self, bettering life lived.  Trust me, I’m all for it, if it’s safe and smart.  Case in point, when I dropped 80+ pounds, at 41 years old by punishing my organs, a doctor reviewing my routine, and various pills, when he informed me I was lucky I hadn’t already had a stroke.  The key is to be wise with dietary choices for authentic lasting results.

Vision is the issue in western culture.  We have this vision problem which feeds the chubby weight loss executives sitting around their conference tables.  We “see” the thin models in ads and are told we MUST look like these dashing, hungry people.  After all, look how happy they are running along Malibu Beach, or grinning from ear to ear while peddling on the latest exercise bike.  (How often do you grin while killing yourself on a treadmill?)  Sorry, that’s my old beaten-up body talking.  Of course, there are exceptions.  But it seems to me, there is a weight loss we often ignore when the new year urges resolutions.

Sure, I can move heaven and earth to look like Tom Brady, Brad Pitt, or David Beckham, but if my heart is packed with arrogance, selfishness, or even a bit of lewdness, it has the tendency to weigh me down.  If I enter the new year with a fatty dose of concealed hatred, it will slow me down.  The obesity of pride, the fatness of dishonesty, or the bloating of uncivil discourse can add inches in my mind’s filter.  If I belly-up to a vast trough judging the neighbor I may not like, or slurping down an unhealthy daily big-gulp-sized helping of impure thoughts, I could gain what I really don’t want.

ANTIFA

I guess the question might be…What is the biggest part of me?  Once found, is it something that needs to leave now?

Enough said. I have a bag of chips to get to.

Noticing one’s intake, with a clear keen eye, certainly carries a lot of weight when measured with fuel for the race.

“Therefore, my brethren, those things that are true, those that are honorable, those that are righteous, those things that are pure, those things that are precious, those things that are praiseworthy, deeds of glory and of praise, meditate on these things.”  -Apostle Paul   Philippians 4:8  (Aramaic Bible)

What Is To Become Of Us?

Photo:  target.com

“What is to become of us,” said Jehanne, “if that is the way children are made now?” – (1831)  Hunchback Of Notre Dame  Author:  Victor Hugo

Depending on your age, you may not recognize the subject in the cover photo above.  I loved mine from the 60’s.  It probably was a Christmas gift from my grandparents.  I guess you could call it the first modern-day tablet.  Etch A Sketch, still available, was wildly popular in the pre-tech world.  You, the would-be artist, would turn the knobs to etch horizontal and vertical lines, but never true diagonals with any integrity.  My preference was creating cool looking mazes.  When you messed up, or drew as much as you could, you simply turned it face-down, as it made a sand-spilling noise, then back to face-up, for magically erasing all you had worked on.  It was a brilliant invention at the time.  In those days it bordered close to science fiction.  What a prize it was, and still is.  One thing it can’t do is take pictures.

Brooks-Brown Homewstead Sky

Many years ago, I took this shot at my ancestral homestead along the Brazos River in Graham, Texas.  If I were to ask you if it was a shutter moment of dawn or dusk, what would your answer be?  My guess is you’re thinking because you are unfamiliar with the area, the angle, and the direction, you would shrug it off.  It could be dusk, or dawn.

Our view of the new 2020 is very much like this shot.  Many look at our world and see failure, fear, and folly for the near future.  Some think we will all be under icecap water by the end of the new roaring 20’s.  Many see this sphere we call earth is in need of medical care.  Some believe a nuclear disaster is near.  Some feel we are due for a devastating asteroid impact, equally destructive.  Others feel overall internal violence and rage will overwhelm societies.  The geopolitical scene looks as if it needs emergency surgery.  As I write this, Russia, China, and Iran are playing navel wars games for the first time.  For biblical scholars, this is alarming indeed as the three nations are mentioned as allies in world-ending wars foretold in Ezekiel and Revelation.  Morality has hit the skids.  What was once forbidden, or unexceptionable in the last generation are now commonplace with an urgency to be accepted where you live, work, and play.  Frankly, all as a convergence can happen during the roaring 20’s to come, and all will add to the fear in every culture.  Yeah, 2020 can be a pretty dark view through the lens.

So, how do you see 2020?  Will it be a sunrise, or sunset?

Maybe Hugo’s Jehanne, in Hunchback Of Notre Dame, has a valid question that rings true for us and our kids today,  “What is to become of us…?”

Don’t look at me, I’m no Ezekiel.  I’m just a watcher on the wall.

Individually, I do believe much of what occurs in 2020 relies on you and me.  Could it be that each of us are given an Etch A Sketch by the Prince Of Peace, Who filters all things through His hands?  The One Who marks out the days, seasons, and times, the One Who it is said “…the government shall be upon His shoulder…” (Isaiah 9:6)  has His calendar.  Still, He places in our hands the ability of free-will to plan-out our lives, as allowed, but with stipulations and warnings, like a parent cautioning a child about unlit matches, busy streets, and stranger-danger.  As we plan, we should keep in mind and heart, the horizontal and the vertical, and the differences between the two.

2019 may not have been out best year, but we can turn it face-down, then face-up for a new clean screen.  After all, starting anew is required when living off fuel for the race.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in His wonderful face.  And the things of this world will grow strangely dim by the light of His glory and grace.”  (1922)  Hymn writer, Helen Lemmel

 

 

Rollin’ With The Colors

Photo:  Goodyear.com

“What goes up must come down.  Spinnin’ wheel got to go ’round.  Talkin’ ’bout your troubles it’s a cryin’ sin.  Ride a painted pony let the spinnin’ wheel spin.” (1968/1969) Spinning Wheel – Blood, Sweat & Tears.  Composer:  David Clayton-Thomas

Calendar days.  That’s how we think of the months and years.  Am I right?  It’s just another page to be turned, or torn off the wall calendar.  It’s funny how we visualize such things.

A couple of years after Blood, Sweat & Tears released “Spinning Wheel”, I became the proud owner of a genuine “Crazy Wheel” from Goodyear!  Are you old enough to remember those?  It was the newest, coolest thing for Sting Ray bicycles.  The tires came in COLORS!  Not just various colors, but with a wild, bold pinstripe color along the rim-walls.  Every kid in America wanted a set of these.  I think I got one for Christmas from my mom.  We were dirt poor, so she gave me one for my front tire.  It was green with a red rim-wall stripe.  I was beside myself.  Not only was I proud of the green Crazy Wheel, with the red pinstripe, but I was the only kid at my school to have one.  When I pulled up to the bike rack, each school morning, you could hear, “Cool!”, “Wow!”, or “That’s so stud!” (Yes, an odd expression we said back in those days.)  I loved my new Crazy Wheel.  Although my Sting Ray bike was metallic gold, with a tiger-stripe banana seat, the green with red stripe on my front wheel was, well…..crazy!  (Although the general idea was to match a Crazy Wheel color with the bike frame shade.  Some did just that.)

Crazy Wheel Sting Ray - Flickriver.com

I suppose I may have been a bit over the top with my pride and enthusiasm.  Each time I rode my bike around the block, or after my ride to school and back, I checked to see if the new tire got dirty.  I would turn the bike upside-down, spin the wheel to take a 360 view of every inch of the tread, just scoping out where there might be a spec of road dirt.  Yep, I guess I was overreaching a bit.  Usually, without fail, the brush, rags and water came out for some good old-fashioned elbow grease.  And I would scrub and rub, and rub and scrub that tire until it looked brand new once again.  It was hard work for an 11 year old.  As you can imagine, I did all I could to avoid puddles, potholes or cracks in the pavement.  Somehow, they just seemed to jump out in front of me.

One of the wildest shenanigans, us boys-on-bikes would do, is set up plywood ramps to jump for popping wheelies in the air.  Then, there was a fairly deep creek bed, at a local park by the school, where the more courageous would jump it from one side to the other.  Truly, we were idiots.  Many of us broke bones and sprained knees and ankles.  We rolled with the punches in our bike-club.  I blame it all on Evil Knievel, the stunt performer, who was all the rage at the time doing daring things with his motorcycles.  Yep, we were all so impressionable.  My poor green tire got downright muddy doing those knuckle-headed stunts.  I always sprayed it clean with a garden hose, often before patching myself up before my mom noticed.

2019 will be much like a spinning wheel.  It’s bright, shiny and new.  We think of January as the “beginning”, but really, in light of who we are and how the universe works, it’s just another scroll on a linear line of days ahead of us.

Like a wheel, we’ve lived many a January in the past and now it’s just another one come to make full-circle.  Each day coming will be full of potholes, creek beds and ramps to jump.  No doubt, we all will get soiled weathering the coming days of 2019.  Yet, there’s always washing and scrubbing to be applied, and certainly, even repairs.  Of course, there will be brilliant, victorious, shining days ahead, as well.  When they come, swim in it headlong because the days will be short.  For some, there may be mud puddles and quicksand bogs just around the corner, seemingly jumping out in front of the tire.  Sometimes turning the wheel won’t be good enough to avoid these upcoming snares.  But when these times come, recall your true color beneath the smudges that suddenly layer upon you.

Needless to say, the Crazy Wheel never cleaned itself.  I had to do it because I am of a different nature, a different creation, made for a greater purpose.  The Crazy Wheel was just a tool for the road ahead.  You will find some soul-soil stains beyond your personal efforts in elbow grease.  If you’ve lived long enough, you already have discovered this to be true, if honest.

Show your bold stripe in 2019!  Wherever your talents apply themselves, ring out your true colors and allow God Himself to buff things out that you can’t negotiate, scrub or rub out.

When cleaning off the 2019 road dust, it’s best to soak it in fuel for the race.

“Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be whiter than snow.” – King David, Psalm 51:7 (NAS)