Sunday, July 29, 2018

Last Straw

Sitting in the Vet’s preliminary exam room while Auri was being given the once over in another room, I occupied myself by reading the colorful informative posters on the calm gray wall. One in particular provided an extra bit of mental diversion though it doesn’t take much to set my brain off on a pondering trail. 

The graphic, artfully done, presented a fat dog looking up at an equally fat cat sitting on a scale. Instead of numbers on the scale there were words like diabetes, heart disease and other scary health conditions. The banner above the photo claimed that obesity in pets is serious business. Especially American pets. Amazing how so much can be implied in the fewest of well assembled words. Smaller print defined obesity in an animal as a mere 2 to 4 pounds above normal. Whew! Even more impact!

Before my eyes fully adjusted to the smallest print at the bottom - the reason for the poster - the sales pitch - I tried my hand at guessing what the point of the heart tug was. Healthier pet food and/or exercise program? Diet pills? Some new vaccine that helps cut down life threatening extra weight in dogs and cats (with a long list of possible side effects listed somewhere else in even finer print?) 

Would you like to guess?

Okay, I’ll tell - it was for pet insurance. Crazy me why didn’t I automatically assume that health risks in pets equal huge vet bills? So, according to this advertisement, the solution to pet obesity is PET INSURANCE. Ta da!

Exhaling as I slumped into a vague sensation of defeat I mulled over the possibility that we have, at long last, lost our way. 

If it is possible that we could be so easily persuaded by compelling words and visual, that the least likely conclusion and solution to a problem would convince us to part with our hard earned money, we have been finally and completely conditioned to abandon all semblance of common sense. 

Advertising techniques seem to reveal that we don’t (can’t?) think a thing through anymore. Since advertisers spend big bucks analyzing our weaknesses - the most effective way to herd us - can we conclude that they know exactly what they are doing? That they know us better than we know ourselves? Does that not sound an alarm? At least a tinkling bell?

What is worse, we aren’t able to stop ourselves from being herded even as we admit we know we are being herded by ominous sounding terms, like ‘algorithms’ and ‘data mining’. 

Then my mental jog took a sudden segue down a darker path. I applied the herding concept to other ways we allow ourselves to be artfully managed. A well-conditioned populace is more easily diverted, for sure. 

Example: criminalizing the use of plastic straws as the panacea to global plastic pollution because controlling or even outlawing the manufacturing of disposable plastic products is much too logical. 

Putting people in jail for using a straw makes such perfect sense. Well, certainly as much sense as buying pet insurance to thwart the growing threat of pet obesity. Right?  

Some things in the human condition never change.

(Matthew 23:23) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye tithe mint and anise and cumin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith: but these ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone.  (23:24) Ye blind guides, that strain out the gnat, and swallow the camel!      (23:25) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full from extortion and excess.  (23:26) Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside thereof may become clean also.      

For Him,

Thursday, July 26, 2018

All Things Possible

If you live long enough, you’ll likely experience the unexplainable at least once if not a few times. Things that go above and beyond mere coincidence. When all the strange unrelated bits come together to make a remarkable definable turning point that’s forever etched in your memory bank. 

I can admit to a few but one in particular stands out like a cucumber in a pile of string beans.

My first website, and what I refer to as my HTML PERIOD, was a gathering place, a digital warehouse where I stored the results of my many and varied attempts to express and share my interests. I could add and delete pages with a few strokes on the keyboard. Even as it was a learning curve, it was my substitute playhouse, a grown up version of my childhood retreat. morphed numerous times over the coarse of eighteen years, as my interests and bright ideas called for exploring new art forms. And then, one day, when I knew I was done, I redesigned it and handed it down to my daughter, who is now carrying the torch with more style than I could ever boast.

Many think (erroneously) that having a live website is the open door to hoards of people flocking to your home page. Nope. While search engine bots do roam around 24/7 scooping up info in hidden meta data, given the plethora (millions) of available sites to check out, the equalizer, as in all things, is still money. When you type in a word or phrase in a search engine, the top referrals are paid for. Which means, the bazillion little sites never get exposure to potential viewers.

I’m explaining this up front so the zinger at the end will mean more. 

In the early 2000s, we had a small sail boat that we no longer wanted. This was before I knew about Craig’s List. Not expecting any response I made a page in Makinghome listing the boat for sale. I made only one link to it from my home page because I didn’t want to take the time to add it to and re-upload all the other pages. Nothing happened.

And then ... something happened. 

We found out that a relative needed a bit of financial help and my husband and I agreed that we would give the proceeds of the sale of the boat to her when it sold. I decided no one would ever see the listing on my obscure web page so I was drafting an ad to list in a boat resale site when I received an email inquiry. Someone saw the page and wanted to discuss buying the boat. 

Wait for it - it gets better.

We exchanged more emails - I provided more photos. They agreed they wanted it. I lived north of Atlanta. They lived in Salt Lake City. We agreed on a price, they bought airplane tickets, flew into Hartsfield, rented a truck with a hitch, drove an hour to us in a raging storm and arrived at our door, after dark, exhausted and drenched. We welcomed them in, fed them, offered them our guest room for the night. 

The wife was pregnant, btw. You can’t make this stuff up.

The next morning we fed them breakfast, helped them hitch up the sail boat and watched them start a very long three day journey home. 

Here’s my take on this - I know for sure we might never have found a buyer for the boat, especially not from listing on one page in over 4.5 billion on the web, except that God had a plan. You see, when we recite “nothing is impossible for God’ we can’t fully grasp how huge and far reaching that is until we get a chance (honor) to be in the middle of the impossible and watch as it actually unfolds around us and before our wide opened eyes. 

I’ll never get over it. When the world is too much with me I remember this and then I have to smile. There is NOTHING too big or too small for God to use as He is artfully crafting His will into being. You see, He doesn’t operate within our framework of time, space, clocks or calendars. That's tough for us to embrace.

But isn’t it awesome?

For Him,


Friday, July 13, 2018

Parallel Truth

A dozen or so years ago, (seems so much longer ago) hyper-energized with entrepreneurial hope, just over a year into dabbling in the world of publishing as a business, I signed up to exhibit my first batch of titles at a Christian Book Expo. In hindsight, I don’t recall what I was expecting to gain from the experience or what the point of the Expo was other than to network with other small publishers. I suppose I thought I would sell books but that did not happen. I can say I learned a lot about the industry of publishing but even more importantly I met a random truth that forever changed the way I choose to search for verity. 

This epiphany came to me in the form of an older woman, I guessed to be at least fifteen years my senior, who was wandering about the aisles on the second day and who stopped at my booth. We chatted in cordial small talk for a few minutes. I gave her the synopsis of each of the five books I was displaying. One thing led to another, I think the conversation turned on the concept of good quotes. I mentioned that I had always loved and collected notable quotes and habitually used them liberally in my writing. She looked up as though she was trying to find the exact right words and then said to me, “Truth is truth, no matter who says it.” 

I nodded in agreement. Not exactly profound but certainly good words worth noting.

Then she continued, “Thing is, I’d rather get my truth from the One I can trust to be right in all things so I don’t get pulled down a rabbit trail by false lead truth.” 

That instantly struck a theretofore unknown chord in me so I fully agreed with her and we discussed it a bit longer before she wandered off to share her wisdom elsewhere. It was a much deeper/wider concept though than I could fully absorb at the time and thus it took me years to pull it together into a credo to live by. 

As this manic era unfolds I’ve written in as many ways as I know how using the words and language available to me to express my angst about where we are going and how we are getting there and, more to the point, what is leading us. 

It comes down to this basic theory of geometry:  parallel lines can never intersect. 

There are imitator truths that seem to look and therefore be good, but, ultimately are only false leads. For want of better words, I’ve referred to this as subscribing to good-for-goodness sake mentality but another, more modern way, to describe this now is ‘virtue signaling’. I’ve also called this out as Self-Righteousness Rule. It has all the markers of being goodness but it’s only counterfeit and just super good, albeit empty, mimicking because it depends on the feel good god of self to define what is good instead of the (often tougher) good of the Divine Sovereign God. 

Question: So, where does this come from? And why? Why not just acknowledge what is proven true and go with that? Why run a good imitation parallel path? (example: Humanism - the elevation of humans to gods vs Christ) To pull as many astray as possible? Away from what then? 

Answer: Away from the true light. 

I recently read a commentary written by a contemporary of T. Austin-Sparks - the notable British minister who served multiple missionary teams in the early decades of the 20th century. Sparks had mentored the commenter and guided him into a ministry life. He said that Sparks was so knowledgeable of the higher truth that he often struggled to prepare his sermons. He knew there were things he could share but that his flock would not understand.

This resonated deeply with me. A.W. Tozer, a minister from the same era, also grieved and wrote about the lonely walk of the Christian who chooses to seek the truth and therefore found it to discover it leads to a place of isolation from the world. It causes you to be set apart. 

I get it but I also admit that the sacrifice is worth it. I'd rather know a tough truth than be blinded by a soft lie - any day.

I conclude - While you cannot know what you do not know, it is also true that you cannot unknow what you know.

A few quotes from others who have said it better than I:

I do know one thing. I used to be blind, but now I can see. (John 9:25)

If you and I were allowed to be perfectly satisfied with what we have got at any stage, and not to feel the absolute necessity for something we never have had, should we go on that way? Of course not! To keep us going on, the Lord has to bring about those experiences where it is absolutely necessary for us to see the Lord, and know the Lord in a new way, and it must just be so all the way along to the end. It may be a series of crises of seeing and seeing again, and yet again, as the Lord opens our eyes, and we are able to say, as never before, "I see!" So it is not our study, our learning, our book knowledge, but it is a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of our hearts being enlightened, and it is that seeing which brings the note of authority that is so much needed. That is the element, the feature, that is required today. It is not just seeing for seeing’s sake, but it is to bring in a new note of authority.  - T. Austin-Sparks


Happy is he to whom truth manifests itself, not in signs and words that fade, but as it actually is. Our opinions, our senses often deceive us and we discern very little. 

What good is much discussion of involved and obscure matters when our ignorance of them will not be held against us on Judgment Day? Neglect of things which are profitable and necessary and undue concern with those which are irrelevant and harmful, are great folly. 
We have eyes and do not see. 

What, therefore, have we to do with questions of philosophy? He to whom the Eternal Word speaks is free from theorizing. For from this Word are all things and of Him all things speak -- the Beginning Who also speaks to us. Without this Word no man understands or judges aright. He to whom it becomes everything, who traces all things to it and who sees all things in it, may ease his heart and remain at peace with God.  - The Imitation of Jesus Christ by Thomas Kempis


2 Timothy 3-4 
3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

For Him,