Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Belgian Takedown gets put to another subject, courtesy of an outside post!

Every once in a while you run across a post from another source that does two things; it rocks you back in your chair with a swift shot between the eyes, and then it makes you stop and really think after you’ve read it. The post I am going to link to, today, is just such a one, IMO. The author could teach ME a thing or two about putting the Boot of Truth to a subject, to be sure, and I hereby tip my hat to him.

Were it up to me, I’d post this in every workplace, every school, every place in which the mantra of “I/you deserve everything you want just because I’m/you’re special and/or I’m me/you’re you” is chanted and preached. It was bupkis the first time it was said, and it is bupkis now.

Read it for yourselves, and I hope you get as much out of it as I did, and have.

A word of caution – IF you decide to read the comments at the bottom, some of them are pretty flowery. Myself, when I saw that, I avoided them. Your call, your choice, you’ve been warned.

God bless today, my friends.

http://oliveremberton.com/2014/the-problem-isnt-that-life-is-unfair-its-your-broken-idea-of-fairness/

“Why worry?” – something to ponder, courtesy of Gavin DeBecker and Dire Straits

Do you worry? If so, why? Have you ever stopped to consider exactly what worry is, and why people worry? Have you considered what it does to you, and if it has any beneficial effects on us, as people?

When I was a young man, a group was popular by the name of Dire Straits. (An interesting side note is that the name of the band allegedly came from the fact that that’s where they usually found themselves, financially – ‘in dire straits,’ but I digress) One of their songs was entitled Why Worry and spoke on that precise subject. Now, some 30 years after the song was made, it turns out that they were more on the mark than perhaps they knew in encouraging people to not worry. Here’s why.

In the book Fear Less: Real Truth About Risk, Safety and Security In A Time of Terrorism, author Gavin DeBecker points out the following facts about worry:

  • Worry is fear that we manufacture. It is not authentic, and it is not part of our natural defense system (i.e., the defense system that causes you genuine fear when you are confronted with a life threatening situation) It is, in essence, fear about something that we, ourselves, have chosen to feel fear about.
  • Unlike true fear (which is involuntary and automatic), worry is a choice. We choose to worry about something, someone, or a situation. It’s important to note that, again, this is distinct from fear, which is an automatic response to a genuine threat, and anxiety, which is concern about predictions in which you have little confidence. It is interesting to note that the word anxiety, like the word worry, stems from a root word which literally means “to choke.” Unchecked anxiety is as detrimental as unchecked worry – but that’s another post. 🙂
  • People often worry because it provides some secondary reward:
    • Worry is a way to avoid change. When we’re worrying, we’re not acting on the situation
    • Excessive worrying helps people deal with matters that they cannot influence. By worrying, you feel like you’re doing something and so it helps you avoid the fact that, in reality, this is a situation beyond your control
    • Worrying can offer a protection from reality. How many people have you known who were such excessive worriers that, eventually, you started hearing phrases like “Don’t worry him/her/mom/dad” or “I’m worried half to death?” These phrases, and others like them, serve the worriers by keeping them insulated from reality.
    • Worry can be a cloying (excessively emotional, almost sickening) way to have connection with others; the idea being that to worry about someone shows love. In reality, it’s a very poor substitute for love, and especially for taking loving action, as many “worried-about” people can attest.
    • Worry is a way to rehearse dreaded outcomes so that if they occur, the worrier believes they will be prepared. Of course, it doesn’t work that way and, in addition, does nothing constructive to prevent anything bad from happening. Worrying is not the same as planning; it is not an effective safety precaution.

So what do we do? How do we stop worrying? Well, there are many ways but ultimately it comes down to us, and a choice – the very first step, as with so many other things, is to be willing to admit that we worry and that we want to stop because it is not only pointless, but actually harmful to us. Without that step, there’s no sense in “trying” to stop because chances are good you won’t. That is part of the nature of being human.

  • If you’re willing to take that step, here are some ideas that may very well help you as you go down the road toward a life free of pointless worry:
    • Realize that action is the antidote to worry. Action can be as simple as asking yourself “Does this worry even make sense? Is it even realistic?” When I have sat and watched some of those “Ways the world could end” shows with my sons, I’ve been careful to tell them that yes, some of these things COULD happen, but the likelihood is so small that to sit and worry and fret over it would be insane. Is your worry realistic? If you determine that it is, DO something about it. Do you worry about your own safety? Take steps to make yourself more safe at home and as you travel. Do you worry about your health? Take steps to improve your health and give up habits you know are unhealthy. Take action instead of wasting energy worrying.
    • Realize that many times, we worry as a way of distracting yourself from acknowledging a less palatable issue, or to distract ourselves from what IS happening in favor of what we imagine COULD happen. It’s easier, after all, to imagine that bad guys might be planting bombs in the convenience store we’re walking through, for example, than to acknowledge that there is a dodgy looking character checking out where the cameras are placed and how many people are behind the counter, or, even worse, seeing if we’re alone and paying attention.
    • When you find yourself worrying, change your question from “Could this happen?” to “Is this happening?” or “Will this happen?”  “Could” is basically completely open-ended since, in theory, pretty much anything COULD happen.  You’d be surprised (I know I have been!) at how many things we “worry” about that are laughable when we take a hard, realistic look at them.

Finally, realize that not everyone is willing (or able) to accept this and acknowledge it. Like the person who stays in an abusive relationship “because they haven’t killed me – yet” (don’t laugh – that’s an actual reason given, and illustrates well how frightening change can be)  you may have friends, loved ones or even family who will continue in their cycle of worry for whatever reason. That’s ok – it doesn’t mean YOU have to, nor does it mean you need to keep exposing yourself to their endless list of things to be worried/anxious about.

So – what will YOU do, today? As GI Joe used to say, “Now you know – and KNOWING is half the battle.” (The other half, of course, is DOING)

God bless today, my friends.

Your past doesn’t define you! An encouraging post for today.

While surfing the ‘net the other day I ran afoul of the brouhaha being generated (at least at the time, anyway) over Ben Affleck and the leaked emails that he pressured PBS execs to suppress the fact that his ancestors owned slaves. When I first read it, I shrugged and more or less said, “Yeah, and? They owned slaves.” (My ancestry is German. You may remember the Germans; feared barbarians, major influence/cause of 2 World Wars, and if nothing else, talk to Publius Quinctilius Varus and ask him about that incident in the Teutoburg Forest. I mean, really.) 

At first blush, his reasoning sounds simple to discern and, indeed, is the conclusion a great many have jumped to; he’s a privileged, rich movie star and so he doesn’t want any icky entanglements with past doings because they may tarnish his image. I don’t know of any thinking, reasoning person who would judge him (or anyone) based on what their ancestors did, but I digress. I believe that this situation illustrates a deeper idea, though, shown in the image attached to this post. Your story MATTERS, but it doesn’t DEFINE you. In this case, his ancestors owned slaves. O.k. He wasn’t there. He had no way of saying neither Jack nor Squat about it. It doesn’t define who he, Ben Affleck, is, today. His actions regarding it, however, do – and have, to a great many people. By trying to hide it or cover it up, whatever his reason, he’s tarnished himself in the eyes of many because of how his actions appear.

Had I the chance, though, I would say the same to Mr. Affleck that I say to any of my readers and, indeed, remind myself of; namely the fact that for any one of us, our past is just that – it’s our PAST. It’s what we’ve done. We can’t undo it, we can’t call it back, and we can’t change it. Our past matters, for reasons both good and bad, however. If it matters for good, it’s because we’ve chosen to learn from it, make changes in our lives to not repeat it, or perhaps avoid situations in which we made poor choices in the first place. If it matters for bad, however, it’s because we’ve chosen (again, it’s a choice) to let it hamper us, hold us down, and mire us there. Many times that’s done through feelings of guilt, or shame, or unfortunately, by feelings of false guilt or shame that are put on us by others. I said it before, and I’ll say it again – YOUR PAST DOESN’T DEFINE YOU. 

Where are you today, friends? Has this hit home, perhaps? Made you think? Called to mind some dig that comes to you from time to time about something that you cannot change, but yet carry with you? If so, let me give you some encouragement – you CAN change it, RIGHT now, starting today. All it takes it a choice. The initial step that begins the work to free you from that is a choice – the choice that says “I’m a product of my past, as we ALL are, but I’m not DEFINED by it and I don’t have to keep carrying it with me.”

Let me leave you with some lines of verse by the Roman satiric poet known to us as Juvenal. The lines have often come to me and made me think, and I hope they do for you as well:

Trust me, no tortures which the poets feign,
Can match the fierce, the unutterable pain
He feels, who night and day, devoid of rest,
Carries his own accuser in his breast.

Whatever it takes – whatever you may need to do, stop carrying that accuser. Find a friend, get some help, if necessary, sidestep that person who just can’t seem to resist reminding you of who you were. Even God doesn’t care where you’ve BEEN, it is said – He only cares where you’re GOING. 🙂 Forgive yourself, and let yourself go on and LIVE!

God bless, today, my friends.

And we’re back!

Sorry for the lack of posts over the last few days – I had to do a factory reset on my phone, which necessitated my re installing software, backups and the like. Took some time, but here we are again – and with a post that I think many will find not only VERY interesting, but also a great source of help in an emergency! You’d be surprised how encouraging it is, mentally, both to yourself and others to be prepared for what may come.

This came to my inbox the other day as a result of my volunteer work with the American Red Cross and, after doing the research, I wanted to pass it on to all of you. Many times in a disaster or even something of a lesser degree like a power failure, people are caught without an adequate source of light. Batteries that they thought were good turn out to be dead, or they may have none at all. In those cases, many turn to candles, which can be a hazard all their own. According to the National Candle Association (Yes, there really IS such a group!), an estimated 20% (1 in 5) of candle fires involving fatalities occur during a period of time following a loss of power. Fortunately, another solution has been proposed and from what I’ve seen, the reviews are good. It’s a water powered emergency light – the Eton Blackout Buddy H20. Once activated, it provides continuous light for up to 72 hours (some reviewers have said they last longer than that), and their batteries contain no harmful chemicals such as mercury or cadmium. Needless to say, this is something I intend to add to my IFAK, my home kit, and my vehicle. They can be ordered from Eton, directly, from Amazon, or from the American Red Cross.

Here’s a fun fact for the day, too – in a VERY extreme situation, Eton has verified that the light can be activated by, and run on fresh urine. How’s THAT for preparedness? No having to use your supplies of drinking water to power the light source!

I urge anyone reading this to check these out and then order some to have on hand. With a shelf life of 10+ years, I don’t feel you can go wrong and, as I have stressed to my sons, it’s better to HAVE it and not NEED it, than to NEED it and not HAVE it.

Here’s some links on the subject:
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2462090,00.asp

http://www.etoncorp.com/en/productdisplay/blackout-buddy-h2o

***ONE IMPORTANT NOTE: If you, like me, order things from Amazon, be aware that a vast majority of the negative reviews are for different versions of the Blackout Buddy – NOT the Blackout Buddy H20. For some reason, the reviews are mixed together and as of this writing, Amazon has yet to correct that. 

Finally, for all of us, here are some safety tips for using candles: http://candles.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Be-Careful-with-Candles-During-Power-Outages.pdf

God bless today, my friends, and remember – be safe out there! Every day before a disaster or other occurrence was a normal day – just like today. Be aware – be ready – be prepared!

“Fight the real enemy” – and it’s not who you think it is

I don’t know how many readers/followers I have from outside the US, so if I may, a little background on today’s post: not too long ago, one of the owners of a small pizzeria in Indiana was approached and asked their opinion on a piece of legislation that had recently been passed in Indiana, called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The person, being honest (as well as a professing Christian, which was obvious since their pizzeria has items in it that profess their faith) said that they agreed with it, as they felt that people should be able to refuse to participate in something they feel was morally against their beliefs. They then went on to give an example, saying that were they asked to cater a gay wedding, they’d refuse.

As you may imagine, the firestorm was immediate and devastating. The “we just want tolerance and respect” crowd immediately filled their Facebook page with hate, threats, denigration and they have been slammed in just about every form of media imaginable as intolerant, bigoted, and “refusing to serve gays.” There’s just one SMALL problem with that story.

By all accounts, it is being shown that that story, as told, ISN’T TRUE.

Yes, you read it right. There is more and more evidence that the story was made up out of nothing. The people never once said they wouldn’t serve gay people, and in fact had served them in their store. They never said they’d turn away a gay or lesbian couple who came and ordered food. They said that, morally, they wouldn’t feel it right to take part in an action they felt was morally wrong. (Good thing I never got eviscerated for not sleeping around or doing drugs when I was younger. Wow!)

That is, however, how it was portrayed in the media. Now, the story is coming out that this story was made up, blown out of proportion, and generally used to hang these people out to dry – but it’s too little, FAR too late. There’s no way on God’s green Earth that this will get the press coverage that the “story” did, simply because it’s not nearly as good a story, to them, as the initial one was. It certainly won’t undo the damage that has been done.

Sources:

http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2015/04/01/story-about-1st-business-to-publicly-vow-to-reject-gay-weddings-was-fabricated-out-of-nothing/

http://reason.com/blog/2015/04/02/was-memories-pizza-a-victim-of-irrespons#.ghzndo:87Kc

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/tom-blumer/2015/04/01/local-indiana-station-ambushes-memories-pizza-gin-rfra-story4

Whatever anyone may think about the issue, or wherever they may fall on the issue of gay rights, marriage, or anything else to do with that situation, how can this possibly be a fair and just response to that person’s answer? Is that really Justice? Is that true Tolerance?

So what does this have to do with my post? Just this. Many years ago, I remember Sinead O’Connor doing herself and her career some serious hurts by ripping up a picture of Pope John Paul II during a performance on Saturday Night Live while saying “Fight the real enemy.” She has been forever remembered for that. For myself, I would alter her actions and instead hold up a picture of all of the logos of all the major networks, as well as names of newspapers and magazines and tear IT up, while saying the same words. The REAL enemy, to me, is the media, and the people who believe everything they see and hear in the news broadcasts, without taking the time to check out the facts for themselves.

Friends – look at what’s happening. Lives are being destroyed. People are being hunted, and in extreme examples, killed, because they don’t fall in line with what society or the PC Police say is the “proper” way to think. People are being eviscerated simply for holding an opinion, and it’s being done by the same people who claim that THEY are the ones who just want tolerance for all. It reminds me of the old Twilight Zone episode The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street. Remember that one? It ends with the town in chaos and the two aliens standing on the hill overlooking it. During their ending monologue, one says to the other, They pick the most dangerous enemy they can find – and it is themselves. Only WE can put an end to this. Demand accountability from those who report the “news,” stand up and be counted.

That’s the encouragement for today – that’s the Boot of Truth. It’s NOT TOO LATE. If nothing else, friends – think, engage your minds and wait before you jump into the fray when something comes across your phones, Facebook, or the TV screen. Wait until all the tallies are counted before you stand up. All too often, we’re finding out that what we are being told is NOT what’s going on.

It’s just what keeps the ratings up.

God bless today, my friends.

Science and Faith – allies or enemies? Something to ponder.

As a person who is a professed follower of Jesus Christ and yet also a person who is a believer in the laws of science (One of my favorite things to say to people is that the Bible tells us God created the universe, but it doesn’t say HOW, nor to me does it matter) , I often am met with surprise by people who, I suspect, expect me to be openly hostile to science and scientific ideas. That has led me to wonder – where, exactly, did this idea that faith and science are somehow mortal enemies?

I did some research and have 3 links to share, which I hope you’ll take the time to read. Before I share them, however, let me express my own views on the subject, based on my own experience and on what I have observed. My personal opinion is that the whole “faith vs. science” thing really boils down to something more specific – “Literal Christianity vs. Science.” Now, this is by no means an attack on anyone. nor an attempt to throw stones – let’s be clear right now. However, if you belong to a branch of Christianity that believes that when the Bible says that God created the world in six days, period, and no other interpretation of that is acceptable, you’re going to have a hard time with what science puts forth. (Again, to me, it’s a non-issue. Whether God created the universe and all that’s in it in six literal days or over the course of millions of years, using the laws of the universe that He put into place and we are discovering, it makes no difference. He still did it as opposed to it all just being some kind of cosmic happenstance) If you believe that the Earth, because of that literal interpretation, is only 6,000 years old, the same applies.

For myself, I see no conflict, save on the idea that man evolved from lower animals. However, I also readily state that that stems from my faith and belief system, and that if evolution is taught as a scientific theory or idea, that’s fine. You don’t need to (nor, in my opinion, SHOULD you) teach Creationism alongside that in the public schools, for a great many reasons – not the least of which are that if you open the door to one, you need to open the door to all. Teach science in school and allow moral/religious teaching in the home, save for specifically religiously themed schools. Moral/religious teaching is MY job, as a parent – not the job of the school.

The Boot Of Truth, for me, is that they aren’t enemies. I’ll stick by the statement ascribed to Galileo – “The Bible shows us the way to go to Heaven, not the way the heavens go.”  Science and faith are enemies only when we, as people, choose to make them so. 

Here, then, are the articles: I hope you enjoy them and, if nothing else and whatever you may believe or not, it gives you some insight you may not previously have had.

http://wiredcosmos.com/essay02152012/

http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/religion-and-philosophy/apologetics/are-science-and-religion-really-enemies.html

http://www.doesgodexist.org/JanFeb14/ScienceAndFaith.EnemiesOrFriends.html

God bless today, my friends.

Some encouragement for us all, today – don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself!

I was reminded, again, this morning, of how healthy a thing it is to be able to laugh at myself when I do something that is either downright silly, or when the unpredictable elements of life all decide to get together and have a huge joke at your expense. I had been sending texts back and forth with my sister, as is our custom, and she remarked that where she lived, she was fogged in.

“Your higher elevation, no doubt,” I replied, sagely.

“Yep.”

That was it. That was her reply. When I read it, this image came immediately to mind, and is hereby posted in honor of my incredibly OBVIOUS statement, made like I was quoting a universal mystery:

Captain Obvious

I had a hearty laugh at myself, needless to say, and can only thank God for however many times my friends and family didn’t slap me one when I, no doubt, have done that in the past. On a similar note, I can still vividly recall taking a young lady whom I loved dearly, out one night. It was, for me, something I had waited for and dreamed of. (I believe the phrase is “I had it bad”) I took her to our local Friendly’s and we got a booth and ordered food. When the food came I picked up the catsup bottle and began to vigorously shake it in a half circle, so as to let the catsup come out more easily and –

Why are you laughing? Oh. Yeah. You can see what’s coming, can’t you? I can hear you snickering already. Just keep reading. 

The first indication I had that disaster was imminent was when the top went pinging across the floor. My arm muscles refused to STOP STOP STOP and instead kept turning the bottle, which ended up with a large streak of red down the wall beside me, across the seat, up my left side and smack into the left side of my face. It smeared my glasses and spattered into my hair and for a moment, it seemed like the world stopped. Then my friend, God bless her, burst RIGHT out laughing, as did some of the people around me. Did I scream? Cry? Act all embarrassed and apologize profusely? Nope. I pulled my glasses off and, with as much calm as I could, picked up a napkin and began cleaning the lens, saying, “So…what were we talking about?

Then she DID laugh; and I did, too. To end it right, I stood up and took a bow – and everyone within eyesight was roaring, as I was. She still remembers it, to this day, and so do I.

O.k., so what’s the point? Where’s The Boot Of Truth? It’s here, and this is the point; none of those situations were fatal. Our society is focused on image, poise, that ‘perfection’ that this one or that one has and, on top of it, with the advent of the hypersensitive PC movement and all its labels, we’ve forgotten how to do a very simple thing – laugh at ourselves, as well as at the very human mistakes of others. Laugh at our foibles and our mistakes; our missteps and our screw ups. 

It doesn’t HAVE to be that way, though. If you haven’t already, or perhaps you’ve forgotten how, do yourself a favor and learn to laugh at yourself. We’re all human, and we all mess up. My dad used to say, “Might as well laugh as cry,” and we’re all probably familiar with the saying, “Unless it’s fatal, it’s no big deal.”  It’s true.

Here’s a couple of articles on the subject, submitted for your perusal:

http://www.lessonsfromlois.com/view_article.php?articleID=3

http://www.laughterremedy.com/2012/04/the-sixth-humor-habit-take-yourself-lightly-laugh-at-yourself/

God bless, today, my friends – and don’t forget to laugh!

An interesting read, for me. I hope you find it so, as well.

**Note: Being a professing follower of Christ (although a flawed and stumbling one; no perfection HERE!) this article will deal with an issue in that regard. It is my hope, however, that whatever the reader’s belief or lack of it, that they will not skip this post. I believe the articles that I am going to link here have some thought provoking ideas and may shed some light on a very onerous question that is often brought up in regards to Christianity.

Not too long ago, the current POTUS (That’s ‘President Of The United States’) made a statement that reminded us that Islam is not the only religion in history that has committed or does commit acts of violence in the name of its beliefs. Christianity has done the same, and, unfortunately, some people who claim to follow Christ still do so. Now, while there are definitely differences in the how’s and why’s of the situations, as well as the validity of those actions based on the beliefs themselves, I am not in the camp of people who immediately began screaming that he was insulting/degrading Christianity. In point of fact, he was right. I, myself, have many times said to sincere people who wanted to know how people devoted to following Christ could do the things that they have done, “Many things have been done in the name of God that God wouldn’t approve of.” It’s not meant as a cop out, nor as a way of “just getting along;” it’s the truth. My friend Hambo over at the PIGazette coined the phrase “CINO” for Christian In Name Only. I think it fits, in those cases.

Still, the question of violence committed by people who say they are Christians is an onerous one. How do we look at and answer the question, when asked sincerely, of why someone should put their faith in Christ when so many things have been done in His name that don’t seem much different than, say, ISIS? It’s a valid question, and one that needs to be answered with honesty, with reason, and above all without all the “Left Wing vs. Right Wing” “Islam vs. Christianity” trappings that are normally put on it.

I ran across this article and read it, and plan on re-reading it to continue to gain insight as I do so. I truly hope that you will do so, as well. If you take nothing else away with you, remember this – it is no more fair to paint all Christians as bad because of what has been done in the past than it is to paint all anyone else as bad for the same reason. It is not the faith, nor the Word that is at fault – it is the way in which flawed, broken human beings decide that they can follow it. 

Here is the article: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-should-christians-think-about-religious-violence

I also found this one to be quite thought provoking, and will admit that initially, I presumed it would be hostile and am glad to admit I was quite wrong – though do yourself a favor and don’t bother reading the inevitable argument that came in the “comments” section below the article: http://thinkprogress.org/world/2015/02/06/3620402/ignoring-christian-violence-isnt-very-christian/

God bless, today, my friends.

A quick funny for us, today, courtesy of Uncle Otto

There is an online radio channel that comes out of Wisconsin by the name of WRJQ. (They can be found at http://www.wrjqradio.com/ should you be interested) They play a lot of polka and old-time German oom-pah band type music and generally are just upbeat and fun to listen to. About two years or so back I found they have a show on called The Uncle Otto Show. It runs from 1200-1300 hours, CENTRAL TIME, and is a mixture of bad jokes, puns and music. Our chuckle for today comes from that show, and be ready for more in the future!

Hope you get a laugh – or a groan – to start your day!

“Say, Otto, you look worried.”
“Ja, I worry so much, I’d pay someone $1000 just to worry for me.”

“Well…you know, Otto – I’d worry for you if you like.”

“Ok, you’re hired!”

“Wow…ok – hey, wait…when do I get my $1000?” 
“Well, see – that’s your first worry, right there!”

God bless today, my friends!

A happy Easter to all!

As I am anticipating a busy weekend, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of my readers and followers (believe me, I appreciate you greatly and am honored that anything I say or post on here is found worthy of reading or following!) a very happy, safe and blessed Easter!

However you may celebrate it; whether you, like me, celebrate the resurrection of Christ, His triumph over death and the hope of eternal life that we have because of it, or you celebrate it in the secular sense with Easter egg hunts, chocolate bunnies and little kids laughing with delight, some combination of both, or even if you don’t celebrate it at all, my wish for you remains the same.

God bless today, my friends!