Don’t Let The Old Man In

Posted: January 16, 2019 in World On The Edge

You will come to the grave in full vigor, Like the stacking of grain in its season. Job 5:26

Old age is nothing we wish for, except for the genuine wisdom in it. And yet, we will all get there, and we know it.

I thought this was worth sharing. It starts with two of my favorites: Toby Keith playing golf with Clint Eastwood. That sets the stage. At one point, Eastwood said to Keith, “I turn 88 on Monday.”

“What are you going to do?” Keith asked.

“I’m going to shoot a movie,” Eastwood replied, with filming scheduled to begin the following week.

“What keeps you going?” Keith asked him.

“I get up every day and don’t let the old man in,” Eastwood said.

“I’m writing this down right now,” Keith replied.

Keith didn’t ask him if he could contribute a song, Keith just went home and wrote it, sent it to Clint and hoped that he would consider it. And, he did.

Here it is:
“Don’t Let The Old Man In”
(from “The Mule” soundtrack)

Don’t let the old man in
I want to live me some more
Can’t leave it up to him
He’s knocking on my door

And I knew all of my life
That someday it would end
Get up and go outside
Don’t let the old man in

Many moons I have lived
My body’s weathered and worn
Ask yourself how old you’d be
If you didn’t know the day you were born

Try to love on your wife
And stay close to your friends
Toast each sundown with wine
Don’t let the old man in

Many moons I have lived
My body’s weathered and worn
Ask yourself how old you’d be
If you didn’t know the day you were born

When he rides up on his horse
And you feel that cold bitter wind
Look out your window and smile
Don’t let the old man in
Look out your window and smile
Don’t let the old man in

It has become almost cliché to say that before you can truly love someone else, you must first love yourself.  Cliché or not, the statement is true.

But we cannot love a false self.  We are more than mannequins dressed by another’s intentions. We have to know who we are–for Real.

Loving oneself begins with digging deep to be honest about who we are and what we do. Digging deep to discover the things we are good at, and loving those things about ourselves. Digging deep to discover our faults, our flaws, and doing something about those so that we can love ourselves. Because love is not just a word, it is always action.

When Jesus talked about the greatest commandment of all, He quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 and said we are to love God with all our heart. But He also added the second greatest commandment: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. God wants us to love ourselves, the way He created us to be.

Oddly, or maybe miraculously, the way to honestly loving ourselves is by loving others. How many times have you felt a certain excitement over what you’ve done for another–a word of encouragement, an act of mercy, a simple gift to another of something he/she desperately needs?

Conversely, don’t we feel disheartened when we try to be only what another wants us to be–especially if what another wants us to be goes against our moral code? That’s the failure to love ourselves. That’s being untrue to the core of who we are.

If we want to be happy, we must realize that God loves us terribly, and because He does, we can love ourselves, too–enough that we want to be worthy of His divine love. As it always does, God’s love calls us to action. And to possible change.

There is a story, Bluebird of Happiness, in my short story collection, “Birds of a Feather,” in which a physician misuses his profession in an attempt to keep peace with his controlling wife. He puts that misguided peace above being true to his own moral core. Of course, he is unhappy with himself, with his life, and with his wife. I think many of us do something like this only to please others, or to keep some tranquility. But it does not make us happy. Loving ourselves in the right way is what will actually make us happy.

Taking to heart other people’s opinions of us as if they were Truth— though sometimes those opinions may flatter us, as well as put us down–is not the way to the joy of knowing and loving ourselves.

It’s a new year, so let’s take some time out to discover  what we’re good at, or what we’d like to be better at. Take off any false image we have of ourselves that someone else may have thrown upon us. Then we will find the goodness within us that it takes to love ourselves, and because of that goodness, which can only come from Almighty God, we can also become vessels of love for others as well.

I spent my childhood summers on Panama City Beach, Florida, at a cottage my grandfather built for my grandmother, a surprise for their twenty-fifth anniversary. The beach was something very familiar, the Easter Basket colors of its water–lime green, purple, cobalt blue. Its sand white as sugar, its dunes barely able to be climbed by a young child, and challenging to the point of necessity for a pre-teen. But the most impressive characteristic of the beach were the waves.

A wave can startle. A wave can hit you in the face. And unless you’re careful, a wave can bring you down.

Isn’t life like that, too?

Don’t we often have wave after wave of surprises, disappointments, and even devastations in life? And yet, the same waves that bring these things can also bring delight, laughter, and joy.

There are scientific principals that effect the waves on a beach, make them less or more.

There are principled and unprincipled people who effect the waves in our life as well, making it more or less.

Who are those people in our lives?

On a beach, there are some wonderful waves we’d play in, and some violent waves we wouldn’t go near for fear of danger.

In life there are some wonderful people who care deeply for us, people who always tell us the truth. But there are some whose lies we fall for time after time. Shouldn’t we discriminate between the two? Shouldn’t we consider the dangers, or benefits of each?

Most of us say we seek the truth, but often, our actions show otherwise. Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

We are only hypocrites unless we really try to discover and accept what Truth actually is.  There are some people who can help us in finding real truth, people who will walk with us if we let them–people who mirror the image of God in which we are made. On the other hand, there are people who pretend to be our best friend, but who actually who mirror the Father of Lies. Though their mouth is smoother than butter, enmity is in their hearts; their words more soothing than oil, yet sharpened like swords. –Psalm 55:21

Which of these people should we reach for when the waves of life hit us in the face? Which of these should we walk with when we are  drowning in the many lies of today’s culture? Which of these should we trust during our journey toward eternal life?

The Magnificat

My soul magnifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
Because He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name;
And His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has shown might with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has given help to Israel, his servant, mindful of His mercy
Even as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.

The Magnificat, taken from Luke’s Gospel (1:46-55), is the Blessed Virgin Mary’s hymn of praise to the Lord. The words are a proclamation of the Lord’s greatness with characteristic humility and grace. It is also known as the Canticle of Mary in the Liturgy of the Hours, a special collection of scripture readings, psalms, and hymns that constitute what is known as the prayer of the church. (Priests and other religious are required to pray sections from the Liturgy of the Hours each day.)

Although the Magnificat has had numerous musical settings from such composers as Palestrina, Bach and Mozart, it can be recited as well as sung. Its name comes from the first line of its text in Latin (“Magnificat anima mea Dominum”) translated in the first line of the prayer.

For a moment, put yourself in her position. When Mary was asked to be that vessel by a messenger from God, what would she have thought–“Am I going crazy? Do I really see an angel? Am I dreaming?” She was engaged to be married. How would Joseph react if she turned up pregnant? He had the right to have her stoned. But there was something in her, a grace given by God that allowed her to trust that the angel was His messenger. She didn’t ask for proof that she would become the mother of the Redeemer. Her only question was, “How?” Because she believed in God, and most importantly, she believed that He loved her, and she allowed Him to do so. She made the decision to surrender her life to Him.

Do we allow God to love us?

Surrender is the opening move for each one of us, but for most of us, it’s hard. No matter what our personality is, we each have an instilled desire to control our own life. Why is that? Why do we feel we have to be in complete charge of every aspect of our lives? Why are we so afraid to give up control and surrender ourselves and our problems totally to the will of God?

It may be that we don’t believe, as Mary did, that He loves us—-really and personally loves each one of us. And if we don’t first believe that He’s madly in love with us, then there’s no way we’ll surrender or trust Him.Stop a minute and think about it. The person I trust most in the world is the person who loves me, who wants only the best for me, and would lay down his life for me if he had to. If I believe that Almighty God loves me—-and he does–then why shouldn’t I trust Him enough to surrender my fears and worries, all my heart breaks, my illnesses, my lack of self confidence–in fact, everything that bothers or upsets me?

When we give up control of our life in favor of God’s plan–done His way, not ours–then we enter onto that road called Trust. And what does Trust in God prove? It proves His faithfulness. I can certainly say that I’ve seen His faithfulness in my own life. And if you look upon your circumstances, whatever they are, with spiritual eyes, I’m sure you can see it, too. Mary saw it and it caused her to make a decision. It caused her to say: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to thy will.”

baby-20339_640

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Libera is an all-boy English vocal group directed by Robert Prizeman. Libera regularly performs concerts in many countries, including the UK, the US and Asia, and regularly makes recordings for their own album releases and other projects.

Many members also sing in the parish choir of St. Philip’s, Norbury, in South London. The group usually consists of approximately 40 members between the ages of seven and sixteen, including new members who are not yet ready to fully participate in albums or tours. Libera recruits from a variety of backgrounds in the London area, and does not require its members to belong to any specific denomination.

The group’s name comes from its signature song, “Libera”, which is based on the Libera Me portion of the Requiem Mass. Libera is the Latin singular imperative of “liberare”, meaning “to free”.

christmas-dinner-1926937_1280

I grew up in a time and place of manners and civility. By the time I was six, I had been taught on which side of the plate to set the fork, and that respect for the people around our table was required. Twice a year, at Easter and Christmas, I helped to polish the silver until it shined, then wash the fine china until I could see my face in it. These were days of significance and celebration when guests were invited and honored.

Often, there were guests I did not like, even guests whose views on religion and politics I knew my parents were not fond of. Yet, my parents treated them cordially, and I was to treat them cordially, too. To treat them otherwise, my mother said, would be a blot on our house and our family, and we would only be hurting ourselves. But isn’t that sort of unmannerly behavior happening today at America’s table?

America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world.
–George H.W. Bush

Soon, we will be celebrating Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, an event which began Christianity, a religion of love, selflessness, and sacrifice. It is the religion which framed our American Constitution and The Bill of Rights, which was to limit the power of the government and provide the specific freedoms we enjoy today. And yet, some have forgotten, or choose to deny, that America’s foundation was built upon Christian principles. Un-Christian political back-biting, outright lies, vicious rudeness and incivility, and most of all selfishness, permeate news channels and social media with the specific intent of undermining the highest office in the United States of America.

Shouldn’t our leaders be working FOR a better America out of genuine love for their country, and NOT FOR themselves out of selfish agendas? The American table of honesty, civility, and genuine manners–our Fine China–is being broken to pieces for only one reason: America elected President Donald Trump and the opposing political party cannot live with it.

The American people overwhelmingly elected a president to carry out their desire for change. To restore America to its greatness. To make America safe again. To build our military and take care of them. To command respect for the USA from countries who seemed to have lost it. To revere life from conception to death. To make FAIR trade with those countries, not UNFAIR trade. The election of Donald Trump was of great significance–except to some politicians who began their childish protest by not even attending his inauguration– I didn’t get my way, so I’m not going to play— thereby snubbing the majority who voted for him, people they are supposed to serve. Going forward, they attempt to crush every effort of President Trump to better the nation by getting rid of agendas that DID NOT help America, but only hurt her. Theirs is the height of incivility and disrespect. They are not only embarrassing themselves at America’s table, but hurting our country in the worst of ways.

Because the train has left the station, Donald Trump IS our President, whether we voted for him, or not; whether we like him, or not. And the Office of the President should be respected. Even a mindful six year-old can see that. The Democrat party’s snubbing of their Republican brothers and sisters who sit beside them at America’s table is an unwise blot on America. And it will bring us down, not only as a country, but as good people as well. In this holy time of year, as a people and as a country, can’t we go back to our foundations to find our true purpose in the high moral principles historically set for us?

We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish. ― J.B. Priestley, An Inspector Calls

 

Image  —  Posted: December 13, 2018 in World On The Edge

Overlooking Someone???

Posted: December 10, 2018 in World On The Edge

How many times have you walked into a room of people you know, people who love you, and yet, you barely notice them?

Sometimes we overlook the most important people in our lives. These are people who are always there for us, so much so, that we have come to expect their help, their companionship, their love. We take them for granted. We treat them like a comfortable pair of old shoes.

Often these over-looked, comfortable people are our parents, our spouse, a best friend, or even our older children, as if their love is a given, and simply something we will always have.

But when we think deeper, we know that this is not so. Time takes its toll on our parents. Our spouse may occasionally like a “Thank you.” Our children may like to see appreciation in our eyes rather than hear our criticism. Our friends who help us may need help themselves.

We say we love them all, but do we show it? Often we put our own needs ahead of theirs without giving it a second thought, as if we deserve attention more than any one of them.

In this season of Advent, I plan to take a special look at those in my life whom I’ve taken for granted. I plan to consider what my life would be without them. I want to take a good look at myself and then realize that those times I’ve overlooked their goodness, I have wasted an opportunity to honestly show them how much I love them. Of course, this includes my relationship with God and His goodness.

In fact, if I truly see each of my loved ones as God’s own creation, how can I do otherwise?

I can pretend that life on earth is all about me. But it is not about me. It’s not about you either. It is about what we can do together to lovingly move our world forward  to genuine Truth.

How is this done? And why should we do it?

Fist answer this: Do we see God as He really is–as actual holiness?
Do we see ourselves as we really are–as actual sinners, often non-repentant?
Do we realize that un-holiness is disaster for each one of us and for our world?

We are meant to Prepare the way of the Lord –Isaiah 40:3
How are we doing with that?

Preparing the way of the Lord, prepares a way for us, too. The way to eternal life. But it is an arduous and slow process for human beings given the gift of Free Will by their creator. Our choices often cause us to move one step forward and then, one step backwards. But if we see God as he really is–Holy. And look at ourselves as we truly are–Sinners. Then we will take on the beautiful task of repentance.

Yes, God loves us as we are, but His expectations for us are much greater than we often realize. So many times we try to bend, shape, and politicize what we think is right into selfish and very un-holy behavior, carrying others along.

We stand on the edge of a typically unholy world, pretending OUR WAY is the right way. Shouldn’t we let go of that misguided disguise, and step out together to strive for the holiness of God and eternal life with Him?

Let’s look in the mirror, and actually see what we see. If we are honest, Truth will look back at us and show us who we have become. We may want to lower our eyes shamefully and turn away, but don’t. In acknowledging our human faults, discovered in a genuine mirror, we may repentantly and finally discover our true purpose here on earth.

FREE on Kindle Dec. 4 and 5

Posted: December 3, 2018 in World On The Edge

fAITHUL COVER 3 BNSAVE

 

FREE ON KINDLE DEC. 4  & DEC. 5

When The Ghosts of Faithful won First-Runner-up for Poets & Writers Magazine’s Maureen Egen Award, it was a novel in progress. Here’s what Victor La Valle, author, Professor at Columbia, and Judge of the contest had to say about it:

Faithful suggests a broad canvas–a well-rendered local; a promising war of equals in the characters, a clear desire to address/tackle the issues larger than the back and forth, and a clear understanding on the author’s part about pacing and clarity. Also, I thought the father’s chapter was really funny!

 

Izzy Collier runs the Food Bank in a town called Faithful, on the banks of the Suwannee River. She is the least amicable of two daughters in a frustrating family; all, keeping secrets of betrayal. Her parents are at odds with both daughters, and with each other. Her sister, always Izzy’s competition, is an unstable former beauty queen, the wife of a philanderer, and the mother of four. Now, their ninety-four year-old grandmother sees her dead husband’s ghost, accompanied by a strange little girl. At the same time, Izzy’s husband, a defense lawyer, is being forced by his boss to effect the acquittal of a teenager accused of the rape and murder of a child. When Izzy starts to see her deceased grandfather and the little girl, too, she questions her sanity. What if the little girl ghost is the murdered child? But then, why would she be with Izzy’s grandfather? Are the ghosts after revenge, justice, or something greater?