“Don’t Cry” – a song for foster, and other wounded, kids

My son is a hip-hop artist who only makes clean or Christian stuff. He wrote this song in collaboration with a friend and it has had a profound effect on many people. He recently posted it on Facebook and it has been quite the hit. Here is part of his intro:

“I have met and known so many people who have been through the U.S. Foster Care System and this song is dedicated to those who have been, or are still in it. It is also dedicated to those who have grown up with parents suffering from substance abuse.

This song is for you…And I pray that it would bring healing and encouragement to you.

Please like and share! Your support means the world to me and in you sharing this track, it can encourage others who need to hear this message. God hears you, trust me…More than you know, and you are not alone.”

Download now at:

http://noisetrade.com/jlloyd/dont-cry-single

Stream on YouTube at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVylYzWUH28

Wealth – it’s emptiness, deception, and an alternative view

It is popular nowadays to point at people with a lot of money and try to blame them for the wrongs of the world, for certainly there are those who seek and use wealth to create trouble. However, the root of this attitude is largely based on covetousness, which is breaking the 10th of the Ten Commandments, so you are in as much trouble with God as a murderer. Think about that!

There are even those who foolishly imagine that wealthy people have somehow escaped the curse of humanity (and may even try to take a philosophical &/or humorous approach to it), but you couldn’t be more wrong – they experience turmoil, too.

It’s all for the Best – Godspell

When you feel sad, or under a curse!
Your life is bad, your prospects are worse.
Your wife is sighing, crying,
And your olive tree is dying,
Temples are graying, and teeth are decaying
And creditors weighing your purse…

Your mood and your robe are both a deep blue.
You’d bet that Job had nothing on you!
Don’t forget that when you get to Heaven you’ll be blessed.
Yes, it’s all for the best.

Some men are born to live at ease, doing what they please,
richer than the bees are in honey.
Never growing old, never feeling cold,
pulling pots of gold from thin air.
The best in every town, best at shaking down,
best at making mountains of money.
They can’t take it with them, but what do they care?

They get the center of the meat, cushions on the seat,
houses on the street where it’s sunny…
Summers at the sea, winters warm and free,
all of this and we get the rest.

But who is the land for? The sun and the sand for?
You guessed! It’s all for the best!

Don’t forget that when you get to Heaven you’ll be blessed!
Yes, it’s all for the…..(all your wrongs will be redressed..)
Yes, it’s all for the…..(you must never be distressed….)
Yes, it’s all for the…..(someone’s got to be oppressed!)
Yes, it’s all for the best!!!

There was a time in my life when I lived around people with more money and “influence” than they knew how to wisely handle. Few had REAL friends – most people just wanted something from them, not the pleasure of their company. This limited them to associating with others with money, even if they hated their politics, religion, morals, attitudes, lifestyles, shallow approach to life, or living with the peer pressure to live and dress certain ways.

They worked to pay to live in isolation, often behind walls and barred gates with security to protect them and their stuff, because jealous people target them. Some life, eh? Imagine people keying your cars, breaking your windows, breaking into your home (or trying), knowing that people say nasty things about what they think you are like, and more. Fame and fortune that you brought on yourself is a curse, not a blessing.

I quickly realized they were to be pitied, not envied, and decided I NEVER wanted wealth, but to have just enough to live on and help others. If you don’t get it, I pity you as much as them. Their marriages are no better (they are often targeted by gold-diggers), they often end up having to sell their fancy houses or cars because they are money pits, they vainly seek privacy, and they are just as prone to addictive behavior and suicide.

“The Power of Gold” by Dan Fogelberg

The story is told of the power of gold and its lure on the unsuspecting,
it glitters and shines, it badgers and blinds, and constantly needs protecting.
Balance the cost of the soul you lost with the dreams you lightly sold.
Are you under…the power of gold?

The letters and calls got you climbing the walls, and everyone wants a favor.
They beg to remind you of times left behind you, but you know the past is a loser.

The face you’re wearing is different now,
and the days run hot and cold.
Are you under…the power of gold?

You’re a creature of habit, run like a rabbit, scared of a fear you can’t name.
Your own paranoia is looming before you, and nobody thinks that it’s a game.

Balance the cost of the soul you lost,
with the dreams you lightly sold.
Then tell me that you’re free of the power of gold.
The power of gold!

The women are lovely, the wine is superb,
but there’s something about the song that disturbs you…
The women are lovely, the wine is superb,
but there’s something about the song that disturbs you…
The women are lovely, the wine is superb,
but there’s something about the song that disturbs you…

Money can’t buy freedom from trouble, disaster, disease or death, and you can’t take it with you… Wealth is a cold and heartless “god” and master and waves goodbye at the end, leaving you with…nothing. Remember, Jesus warned “what benefit is it to a man if he gains the world, but loses his soul?”

I follow the Savior of the world and daily understand, better than the day before, that since God made everything, when we are gone all that remains is His. My heavenly Father really does own everything, so why do I need to pursue stuff as if I could take it with me? He will provide what I need, if I ask, and has a history of doing just that. For now, we are just caretakers of what becomes part of our lives.

Video

A “Sunday” Song

“Lazy Day” by the Moody Blues. The video is nicely done and I added lyrics below.

Except for the mildly fatalist allusions of certain lines, I really like this song. Sets a nice mood.

= ~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~ =

Lazy day, Sunday afternoon,
Like to get your feet up, watch T.V.
Sunday roast is something good to eat,
Must be beef today ’cause lamb was last week.

So full up, bursting at the seams,
Soon you’ll start to nod off, happy dreams.
Wake up, for tea and buttered scones
Such a lot of work for you Sunday Moms.

It’s such a crying shame
Week after week the same.

Today’s heaven-sent and you’re feeling content,
You worked all week long.
Still, it’s quite sad tomorrow’s so bad
And I don’t feel so strong.

Lazy day, Sunday afternoon,
Like to get your feet up, watch T.V.
Sunday roast is something good to eat,
Now it’s almost over till week.

That’s how your life goes by
Until the day you die.

 

Video

Animal road rescues

I am not used to taking pictures of everything I do (my phones have not been particularly “smart” until very recently, in spite of being very technologically savvy – just a rebel), so I missed an opportunity to make this a more interesting post with actual personal shots. I will try to remember in the future, but that omission also had a practical reason, as you will see.

That having been said, it has been unusually dry this year in our part of western New York State (which ordinarily rivals Seattle for cloudiness and rain). Great for sun tanning, I guess, but not so good for animals that live in water.

We recently drove to Medina, NY and on our way back we stopped to rescue (read: remove from the road) two turtles who had left their now-dry creek beds in search of water.

The first was a snapping turtle that only had hard caked mud on its back and not a trace of the usual green moss that grows on them. It was a medium to large-sized one (about a foot in diameter, much like this one) and I quickly went up to it, grabbed its tail and dragged it the rest of the way across the road, which obviously didn’t make it very happy, but better than dying by car. Taking a picture clearly wouldn’t have worked, and my husband is a tech newb.

I didn’t move mine that way. A little to big for this lady to try doing that.

I then tried to goad it into continuing on its way into the brush on that side. This time it was not surprised and had enough energy to tuck in its tail and try to snap at me. Good sign. I hope it found water and didn’t cross back over.

 

The second was a red-eared slider, also coming from the side of the road where the dried up creek was located.

This time I picked it up (it was so dry it didn’t even “wet,” as they usually do) and we drove to where the river was, up a few miles. I wish I could have done that for the snapper, but we don’t drive a pickup truck, which would have been the only way to do that!

Please be careful on the roads this summer. I breaks my heart to see any animal end up as road kill.

 

 

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The ORIGINAL version of the Serenity Prayer

This famous bit of poetry was first written by the theologian Reinhold Neibuhr. He was a powerful influence on the German Pastor and Nazi resister, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Our world is violent and hurting, and people are anxious and angry. Dietrich also lived in a time of great trouble that, in many ways, was worse, but it is easy to lose perspective through our institutionalized ignorance of history. You see, His convictions cost him his life. The Nazis hung him on April 14, 1945, less than a month before the end of the war.  

Many are familiar with this prayer in its shortened form through AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), although it has since become popular with many others. However, it is well that we also know it as written, for there is great wisdom there, especially considering its original context.

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

jesus-the-good-shepherd

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The “Woman in the Window”

This isn’t a tale of fiction, or about the 1944 Edward G. Robinson “film noir,” but an explanation of Elizabeth, the woman who watches.

She’s familiar to neighbors, delivery people, the mailman, many who come up our driveway and (especially) the local kids, but they mostly just call her creepy. That’s fair enough because you can usually see her in the window even from across the street. It’s what she does, but not exactly why she came to be here.

We have a two-story, two-car garage, which is our only “attic” since the house has none. Built in the early 1900’s, it once stabled a few horses but was never finished up or downstairs. When we bought our house the garage windows facing the driveway looked sad and naked, so I put up curtains, added silk flowers in vases and, voilà! It looks proper enough from outside that most people think it’s functional space or even an apartment, though I tell all who ask that it’s just storage.

And so I unknowingly set the stage for the entrance of our unplanned “tenant,” the watching woman.

Time passed. One day I wanted to put away a dress form I wasn’t using, so I took it to the attic. I decided to put an old dress on it, and then added a cape, stabilizing its wobbly light wire structure, reducing its chances of being knocked over, and making it look more respectable. I was pleased with the result, and that was that. Then, some months later, it all came to a head.

When my daughter was young a neighbor gave her a beauty school practice head. She had a lovely time with it, but as she grew older she lost interest but still wanted to keep it, so when I took it to the “attic” I affixed it to the form because it seemed the logical place, Elizabeth came into being, and I became a kind of accidental Dr. Frankenstein.

Halloween came around, and on a whim I put her in a window facing the driveway–not so close to the front that she was completely obvious, but not too far back because most people don’t look up often. The effect was pretty much what I had hoped – she startled some and alarmed others. Even when they came up close and I explained her, she was still disturbing.

Part of the effect is the dark blue eye shadow that enhances her large eyes. Light and shadows of the passing day also change how well you see her. Then we have a solar-cell spotlight inside the window that shines up at her at night (it’s the only place we could physically put it), so the shadows cast look very spooky!

(If your computer can play it, set the video’s resolution to HD 1080)

Halloween came and went, and she was left to watch people come and go. However, time and familiarity hasn’t tempered her unsettling influence. In fact, in the last two weeks four people have mentioned her to me with nervous laughs as they glance furtively at her window.

Elizabeth’s debut was gratifying, but I never intended to make our neighbors wonder about us; I just didn’t move her because I got busy. But her continued presence provided unexpected benefits we didn’t want to give up. We have a security system, but that won’t prevent kids (and some adults!) from running up our drive, cutting through our yard and hopping the fence to get to the private street that abuts our back fence. Most of the time stopping them and politely asking them not to do that kept things fairly well in check, but you can’t very well sit in the drive all day! After she took up residence (so to speak) I pointed her out to some of the local boys and how it looked like she was “watching them.” The word got around, and shortcuts dropped dramatically!

I could share amusing stories about people’s reactions, but one was particularly dramatic. One evening our daughter rode home with a friend. They pulled up the drive, she got out, and as she walked in front of the car to the door her friend looked up, noticed Elizabeth in the window behind her, and screamed! My daughter says she doesn’t remember the specifics beyond that since “a lot of people…are scared of her,” but that one was most memorable.

A neighbor suggested putting up a second sign, next to the ADT sign, saying “Watch for Elizabeth, she’s always there,” but that could be a bit heavy-handed, so our “creepy” tenant is now a part of our security system.

You know, if it weren’t for her, I would mount our bat house on the wall facing the drive. It’s not only the best side for mosquito control, but also because it gets the hot afternoon sun that brown bats like. It’s true!

But…then we might have fewer guests, and the newspaper man might refuse to deliver to our door, so for the time being she retains the exclusive status of being our most interesting, if rather unsettling, topic of conversation.

She’s really not that bad. Come visit sometime and I will introduce you.

(Am I enjoying all this just a little too much?)

Moral commentary by way of tea videos?

Get ready to be offended, no matter where you stand on this topic. Of course, you might also find it funny, which is rather sad when you think about it, since that means you recognize the irony of the current state of United States’ (western) moral values, and that animals generally behave better than we do, and they have NO moral values at all. But to continue…

If you haven’t seen or heard of the “Tea and Consent” videos yet, you will. For the as yet uninformed, this is generally about the “sex and consent” issues on college and university campuses. Wow. I mean, just WOW.

In the mid 20th Century there were (and to a lesser extent, still are) those who believed in, and tried to adhere (with varying degrees of success) to the belief in chastity/purity/virginity, meaning waiting until marriage for sex as opposed to the grungy, pathetically vacuous (I could go on with more adjectives, but I won’t) “no holds barred” lifestyle that has replaced what the Flower Children at least tried to clean up by calling it “making love.” Sodom & Gomorrah and the latter Roman Empire would be right comfortable with 2016.

Problem is, apparently, this free and easy morality (if that insults you, congratulations, you can read between the lines) has degenerated into a whole “new” sense of mysoginistic entitlement that makes the old “double standard” look nearly chivalrous. Not to say that there weren’t people back then who weren’t warning that this is exactly what it would come to. In fact, if some are still alive they are yelling “TOLD YOU SO!” until they are hoarse.

But this is all I am going to say, as there are bloggers and vloggers who are much more adept at putting a very fine point on it. If I find one who has done so, I will share it.

Otherwise, if you don’t understand all the nuances behind this, I am not going to club you with a verbal bat to try to wake you up – enjoy the videos. The rest of you can join me in rueful, ironic laughter at the truth/value of observing God’s commandments in preventing this and other related outrages.

 

 

Bachelor’s Shanty – the original “tiny home”

Tiny Homes are a part of a movement towards a simpler, less expensive, existence, but if you are following the blogs, Pinterest board and the like, it becomes apparent that true simplicity is an uncomfortable ideal for we still tend to get drawn back toward complexity and our familiar comforts.

In Helen (Beckley), West Virginia in the 1920’s coal miners, single or married and living away for the week, would live in one room “Bachelor Shanties” and when you visit the museum there you can see one as it was lived in. As it says on the sign, this was truly an example of living with only the bare necessities. The “Tiny Homes” of today are luxurious!

I am not good at estimating measurements, but I think I would be fair to say that this shanty is no more than 80 square feet, if that.

Bachelor shack 1

This sign shows an actual photograph of the inside of a miner’s shanty (bottom) and (at the top) the mining camp with miner’s houses for those who lived there with their families.

Bachelor shack 2

A more specific description of the miner’s shack and his situation.

Bachelor shack 3

And outside view of the shanty. That washtub hanging outside was used for washing themselves and for washing clothes.

Bachelor shack 4

A peep inside. If you look up near the top of the picture, you can just see a single light bulb, although they would not have had them at that time, thus the kerosene lantern on the shelf above the stove. In the top left corner of the picture is a cast iron wooden-match holder hanging on the wall for lighting the lantern and the stove. There is a luxury/necessity in sight – a rug on the floor. The walls and ceiling are of old-style bead-board.

Bachelor shack 5

Now you can see in. It’s completely basic. The washpan on the wall would be for washing dishes. A coal stove (with a small coal shovel) for cooking and heating with some cookware on the wall and on the stove. A few dishes, some utensils in a pitcher and a Bible. A rocker, 2 chairs and a bed can be seen. In the corner is a washstand for shaving / basic upper body cleaning (see the mirror above it?). You can also see another touch of home – homemade curtains at the windows.

Bachelor shack 6

From this angle you can just see a chamber pot on the floor next to the stove. Yes, that is the toilet. I didn’t ask where they had to take it to empty it everyday. You can see a suitcase at the end of the bed.

Image

The “Cat Box” is Working

I recently decided to start using a tablecloth in the kitchen because it looks nicer. However, our cat Pixie has a “thing” about sitting on fabric – luggage, laundry, my Bible case, the tablecloth… Then I saw a picture of how someone dealt with their cats getting on their desk, and I was inspired. Here is a picture of my solution (as seen from my laptop).

Pixie's box on table

Stationery box with old hand towel becomes cat’s more acceptable “landing pad.”

 

 

Unmet Expectations, Disappointments, and Getting Over Them

misc_welcome2[1]

Come on in! This is a rare peep behind the scenes. I don’t reveal much about myself often, at least not in this way, but after reading some things I have seen some Facebook friends saying about their ongoing pain from unmet expectations, disappointments, and their emotional struggles, I thought that maybe I should. A bit. Their own confessions seem to be of some help to others, but this post is not even the same category, since it is not an outpouring of angst, but a tale of triumph over my reactions to my disappointed expectations. I generally don’t see how ME sharing this can benefit anyone, and no one has ever seemed to want to listen (that I know of), but I have been wrong before – about a lot of things. We’ll see. At least no one is forced to read this. Meh.

filipino_chinese_christmas_ham_by_chewychua[1]Oddly, in elementary school, I made an OVERT decision to suppress my expectations, primarily because I’d get extremely wound up about holidays and events, then I’d feel let down; I’d also eat stuff that gave me migraines – not fun, either, so I stopped eating certain things and it helped the getting sick part, and moderating expectations helped.

Easter-Eggs[1] Since I had already begun to approach holidays and celebrations with a new attitude, I then developed a stubborn determination to get past the annual disappointment of the empty, superficial “junk” fed to kids and find the eternal (and truly satisfying) “meat” of the matter which, I found out later, most people don’t really think about until they are much older (3rd grade Me: “What do eggs and bunnies have to do with Easter, anyway?”). I even embarked on childish philosophy when, in 3rd grade I recall telling people my favorite quote was “Expect the worst, then the worst can never happen.” It’s warped logic, I know, but what do you expect from a 3rd grader?

two_little_girl_friends[1]Aside from a 6 year hiatus when we were little, we moved fairly often, so some time in high school I eventually (sort of) gave up any expectation of having/keeping/ever seeing close friends again, since getting close to anyone was slow and difficult – these things take time, and I never really had the time in any one place  (and eventually the inclination itself just sort of lost hope) to get past making easy acquaintances. Consequently, I have…not many, plus a small handful of old ones I found on Facebook, but we live far away  (my high school was in another country), are not close like we were, and can’t do the things friends do to keep up the relationship (whatever they are).

That “lonely” disappointment is the hardest to deal with, so I make the most of acquaintances or just helping people with information, since I am thick as a brick at knowing when anyone is really interested in pursuing a more substantial friendship, and am nonplussed when it appears they are (“who? Me? Really? Why?”). That’s actually funny, because I could always read any guy’s romantic interest in me to an extremely subtle degree.

Our mobile existence meant we siblings didn’t even see each siblings_by_junkosakura01-d6w7fcz[1]other much – age differences, frequent social readjustments, school in other countries, and the like – so we rapidly lost the habit of writing (air mail was expensive), or even calling (long distance was also expensive then). However, we love each other and we know it, and seem to have simply accepted it as a part of life. The odd late card, random phone calls, and now Facebook posts and messages, are welcome but not a trigger for recriminations and guilt trips, though I am sure we all secretly dream of dan21904-boxed-christian-greeting-cards-4[1]something more ideal. Me? I’m just glad I have them because they are family and precious to me, and I cherish the memories I have, especially since my “cousin” circle is tiny. Compounding the family connections problem were several years, mostly effectively “by myself”, in a foreign country, so celebrating holidays and birthdays (including my own), was a habit I lost and has been hard to re-establish.

Raft_paddle[1]The disappointment of not being able to make any choice (easy part) and be able to pursue it to fruition without an apparent Divine “Nope. Not this. Door closed.”  has been tough, but I don’t expect many people can relate to that. ANYTHING I wanted to happen RARELY did, and after high school graduation absolutely NOTHING (truly!) I planned to do worked out. This upset me since that was NOT the case with anyone else I knew, so I couldn’t even find anyone to commiserate with! When I tried to make plans of any substance there were always immoveable roadblocks and/or dreadful results/consequences of the choice, so I finally stopped fighting or trying (somewhat fatalistically, I’m afraid), threw away my figurative paddles and just hung on for the ride. If I would have sought God’s will or understood that He had a unique path for me, it would have made it much nicer and more interesting, but spiritual counsel was literally hard to come by where I was at the time, so the constant disappointment was always eating at me.

Eventually, with God’s help as I found spiritual guidance, hard-headed realism, a no-nonsense support group, and developed a quirky sense of humor about my life and myself, I accepted the pain, inevitable losses that all people have, and the many disappointments of life (including those I live with even now) as just part of living in a sin-broken world, but one that is not my real Home.

pity-party[1] I learned that to dwell on them is just wallowing in self pity, which only repels people, changes nothing, makes you bitter, and could hurt others’ feelings, so I almost never mention (or think of) them. I struggle to even write this much, and I haven’t even touched on deeper, more specific and painful disappointments, and I won’t (see the first sentence of this paragraph).

nostalgia-1[1]Some people are disappointed with where their life is and find nostalgia an easy escape. I not only don’t dwell on the past, I don’t even indulge in ANY form of nostalgia – I can’t (won’t?) relate to it because it is ultimately a false memory that can make one’s current life seem depressing and painful, so I avoid it like a hot burner.

I have lost people, pets, places, and lots of things (many of great value) , but I am so grateful for what I have now that there is no disappointment or bitterness there at all. Call me Pollyanna, if you wish, but I am truly glad at how things have worked out, with time, maturity and  my Lord’s help.

It is all behind me! Hallelujah!

grateful_7286c1[1]

Instead, through Divine appointments with people and places, acquaintances and friends-at-the-time, prayer, and seeking the One (Jesus) who is always there, I am grateful for what I have now, what God brings every day, to release any bitterness (it’s called forgiveness), and to take pleasure in every little thing, no matter what I wish was different.

Not that I don’t have worries or anxieties, but now I have a peace that doesn’t make sense and JOY! I live in His present and look forward to my future that He holds in His hands; I do not fear, for He is already there.

peace[1]

Goodbye now, my friends, I now return to my usual style.

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