Rivers of Water

I was on my way home from the hospital and my first born was lying in an incubator at Pitt Memorial. The last thing I wanted to do was leave her, but circumstances prevailed, and it became something unavoidable. As I lay in bed that night my heart and mind, extremely distressed, I could not sleep. I kept thinking of all the things that could go wrong, and thinking that my 3-pound 10 ounce little-one wouldn’t make it through the night. This night was dark and terrifying and I was afraid. But then my mind remembered the stars…those little dots of light sprinkled throughout the blackened sky. I realized these same stars were also watching over my baby, and that their creator was also her creator. Through prayer I placed my baby girl in God’s hands and I slept.

Prayer and meditation can bring us to peace within the storm. For the Christian it’s the fuel that keeps us going. I often neglect this spiritual sustenance and find myself running on empty, however, the stars of that night, thirty-two years ago, reminded me of a power ready for the taking. This power source is not some old grey-bearded deity somewhere beyond our universe. No, this power source is the God within us, the Holy Spirit who has taken up abode within our souls. 

A necessary element to prayer and meditation is time. Without this element meditation of course is fruitless in our lives. Thankfully with our busy lives’ meditation can occur in small increments of time…a few moments with your morning coffee, seconds waiting at the red light, the minutes between the next meeting, quiet moments before you drift off to sleep. All of these snippets can become moments of mindfulness…moments of tapping into the power source within.

I love the picture painted in Psalms 1:3 which likens the one who meditates as a tree planted by the water…

“…we shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth fruit in [its] season…” 

We are the tree, meditation the roots, and the rivers of waters the Holy Spirit within us. 

Prayer: Lord, throughout this holiday season let our minds habitually visit the babe in a manger…the very one who bled and died, rose again, and now takes his abode within our hearts. Amen. 

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Settled Within

The Ultimate Misfit


One Christmas morning I was up before the birds and all in the house was quiet as a mouse. I was sad, rejected, a misfit because there were certain relationships within my family strained and almost nonexistent. My children and I were were separated by many American miles. As I sat in the silence of that Christmas morn I read God’s word from John 1:11… and this is what God said, “He came to his own and his own received him not.” As I finished that verse I felt Jesus whisper to my heart, “I know how you feel.” Jesus, I realized was the ultimate misfit and I knew I would never be alone.

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His voice when you least expect it.

I'll Vote for Mickey Mouse

Friends, an innocent man does not hide.  An innocent man does not shun the opportunity to present his case to the powers that be.  An innocent man does not ignore subpoenas ordered by America’s Justice system.  An innocent man does not take his case to the Supreme Court in order to keep his tax returns private.  My question is this:  What the hell is he trying to hide?  

I admonish you to take a moment to contemplate this:  

What if Hillary Clinton, like Trump, had refused to testify? I think the Republicans would have spontaneously combusted!  (Instead she was grilled for 11 hours straight in the Benghazi case against her) (like the end result or not…she did her duty and showed up)

In the past I thought such blatant double standards rare, however, not in today’s America.  In today’s America it is acceptable for our Commander and Chief to ignore the Judicial system.  In today’s America it appears our sitting President is above the law of the land.  I fear that in tomorrow’s America democracy will be a thing of the past. 

The evidence is overwhelming and non-disputable that Trump used his power as president to coerce a foreign country to do his bidding for his personal political gain.  Let’s take a quick look at the evidence:

(The following from New York Times)

Witnesses who have provided
evidence in the inquiry

Fiona Hill/Former Trump adviser on Russia

Dr. Hill quoted John Bolton, the national security adviser at the time, as saying, “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” referring to a back channel of Ukraine policy that sought to exchange a White House meeting for investigations sought by Mr. Trump. She also sharply denounced a “fictional narrative” embraced by President Trump and others that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.

David Holmes/Political counselor to the United States Embassy in Ukraine

Mr. Holmes provided details about an unusual call he overheard between Mr. Trump and Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, in which Mr. Trump asked Mr. Sondland if the Ukrainian president planned “to do the investigation.”

Laura K. Cooper/Deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia

Ms. Cooper revealed during her public testimony that Ukrainian officials may have been aware that security aid had been cut off as early as July 25, the day Mr. Trump pressed Ukraine’s president during a phone call to investigate Democrats.

David Hale/Under secretary of state for political affairs

Mr. Hale publicly answered questions on Nov. 20 about the hold on security aid and the ouster of Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine who was targeted in a smear campaign by Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer.

Gordon D. Sondland/Ambassador to the E.U.

Mr. Sondland testified publicly that there had been a clear “quid pro quo” at the highest levels of Mr. Trump’s government linking a White House meeting for the president of Ukraine to investigations that Mr. Trump wanted. He also amended his initial testimony to say that he had “presumed” the release of foreign aid was also tied to the investigations, and that he had communicated that to Ukrainian officials.

Timothy Morrison/Former Trump adviser on Russia

Mr. Morrison testified that Mr. Sondland had told him that the military aid for Ukraine would not be released until the country committed to investigating Mr. Trump’s political rivals. He also said that while he did not think the president’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president was inherently wrong or illegal, he had been concerned about its political implications.

Kurt D. Volker/Former special envoy to Ukraine

Mr. Volker testified before congressional investigators and provided text messages revealing that Mr. Trump’s envoys had made clear to the Ukrainian president that he would need to agree to Mr. Trump’s requests for investigations before visiting the Oval Office. He has said that he did not know that the investigations were focused in part on the Bidens.

Jennifer Williams/Foreign Service officer

Ms. Williams, who serves as a national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence, testified behind closed doors and in an open hearing. Ms. Williams was among officials who listened in on a July 25 telephone call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman/National Security Council official

Colonel Vindman told impeachment investigators that he had tried and failed to restore key details that the White House had removed from a transcript of the call between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian president. He also testified that he was not aware of any security official who supported the freeze on aid to Ukraine.

Mark Sandy/White House budget official

Mr. Sandy, who signed a legal document directing the freeze of aid to Ukraine, appeared before congressional investigatorson Nov. 16.

Marie L. Yovanovitch/Former ambassador to Ukraine

Ms. Yovanovitch testified that she felt “threatened” by Mr. Trump and that he had personally directed her removal based on “false claims.” During her public testimony, Mr. Trump railed against her on Twitter.

George P. Kent/Deputy assistant secretary of state

Mr. Kent, who oversees U.S. policy toward Ukraine at the State Department, appeared before impeachment investigators against the White House’s wishes, telling them that Mr. Trump’s inner circle had cut him out of Ukraine policymaking. In his public hearing, he denounced a “campaign to smear” American officials working in Ukraine.

William B. Taylor Jr./Top American diplomat in Ukraine

Mr. Taylor told impeachment investigators that Mr. Trump had withheld foreign aid and had refused to hold a White House meeting with Ukraine’s leader until he publicly announced that his country would investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals. In his public testimony, Mr. Taylor provided new information about a phone call between Mr. Sondland and Mr. Trump that was overheard by one of his aides.

Catherine M. Croft/Foreign Service officer

Ms. Croft, who worked on the National Security Council, said that she had received multiple calls from Robert Livingston, a lobbyist and former Republican congressman, who told her that Ms. Yovanovitch should be fired.

Christopher J. Anderson/Foreign Service officer

Mr. Anderson, who served as an adviser to Kurt D. Volker, the former United States special envoy to Ukraine, helped fill in details about Mr. Volker’s earlier testimony.

Philip T. Reeker/Acting assistant secretary of state

Mr. Reeker, who serves at the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, told House investigators on Oct. 26 that he had tried to rally top State Department leadersbehind Ms. Yovanovitch as she faced a smear campaign orchestrated by Mr. Trump’s political allies.

Michael McKinley/Former adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Mr. McKinley told congressional investigators that he had resigned because he was upset that the Trump administration had wrestled Ukraine policy away from career diplomats. He also told investigators that he had urged Mr. Pompeo to come to the defense of Ms. Yovanovitch.

Joseph Maguire/Acting director of national intelligence

Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, shared the whistle-blower’s complaint with Congress weeks after he was mandated to provide it. In testimony on Sept. 26, he defended the whistle-blower’s actions, as well as his own handling of the case.

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I am flabbergasted at the support this evil man has from Republicans and evangelical Christians. I use to wonder how in the hell so many Germans stood by and let Hitler commit the horrible atrocities done to “the least of these.” I wonder no more, for I see it unfolding right before my eyes here in America.

My guess is that this whole Impeachment process will end just as everything else…Trump stinking high to heaven but once again exonerated. 

Friends, I fear the only way to be rid of this monster is for him to be voted out of office. 

This is a call to ALL democrats please VOTE!  

History has proven when there are large turnouts to vote democrats win.  You may say, “I don’t really like anyone running against Trump so I’ll just stay home this go around.”  If you do this Trump will win!  Mickey Mouse would be a better president than Trump!  We must band together and vote.  

Please Vote!

***

The next steps in the Impeachment process:  

(compliments of BBC news)

FOWC- Rare

Yes, I am in a Relationship

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…”  Hebrews 12:2

Growing up I was so afraid of hell, that I actually wished I’d never been born. Daily, I was tormented with the thought of the rapture, and being left behind.  

I knew God’s promises but for some reason they didn’t apply to me.  It was none of God’s fault but all of mine.  I knew and believed what God said about salvation, and about his promise of eternal life. 

And yet, I felt sure I would, somehow and some way, mess up my part of receiving His free gift.  What if I believed too hard thus turning my faith into work?  For God says, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith…NOT by works…” 

So, what if I put my trust in my faith instead of Jesus?

What would happen then?

Would I be saved?

I was religiously taught the Roman’s Road to Salvation.  This step by step process is found in the book of Romans (of course).  This Road begins with chapter 3 and verse 10 and continues as follows:  Romans 3:23, Romans 5:12, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:9-10, and Romans 10:13.  After each step has been faithfully taken, the sinner, saved by grace, is taken to I John 5:13 to seal the deal. 

I was so afraid I’d screw up one of the steps, and if I did would I be condemned to hell?  

I’m not saying the Roman’s Road is wrong, and if you have come know Christ through this path, I say a hearty Amen!   But for people like myself there is a danger in teaching the Roman’s Road. 

For us salvation does not equate to, “take these steps and get a ‘Get out of Hell Free’ card.”

For those like me there is no wrong or right way to salvation.  We come to know Christ through many paths, and for us salvation is a relationship, and any faith that we have is given to us by Christ.  Therefore, in essence, our salvation depends upon nothing we do but all in what Christ has done.  

So, the question could be asked… “At what point does salvation actually occur?”

To that I say, “I don’t know, and not knowing is okay.”  

I don’t have to know if I’ve dotted all my I’s or crossed all my T’s because I have nothing to do with my salvation…it belongs to God.  

And in that I rest. 

receive love. give love. repeat. 

***

Indulge yourself in Peace.

Beer-Battered Baby Squash & Blooms

I could wait no longer!

I had to have them and nothing would deter me.

Standing by my little garden I salivated as I gazed down upon the treasure; and so putting an end to my hesitation, I bent down and picked six baby squash, one with a lovely bloom intact.

That was the beginning of a delicious ending I’ve chosen to call, “Beer-Battered Baby Squash & Blooms.”

And so, to quote Paul Harvey… “Here’s the rest of the story…”

Ingredients

Baby Squash with blooms if possible

1 Bottle/Can Lite Beer

1 cup Self-Rising Flour

1 tsp Garlic Powder or Onion Powder (or both)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Fresh Mozzarella (or your favorite cheese)

Fresh Green Onions finely chopped

Vegetable Oil for frying

Mix flour, garlic/onion power, salt & pepper, and beer until it resembles thick pancake batter.

Remove the pistols from flowers. Blanch for 30 seconds and then put blossoms in a cold water bath for 5-10 seconds. Lay on paper towels to absorb water. Mix cheese and green onions. Carefully stuff squash blossoms with cheese, drape petals over cheese and twist the ends to seal. If the blossoms are frail and difficult to handle put them in the fridge to sit about 15-20 minutes. I totally skipped this step.

Dip stuffed squash blooms and baby squash into the batter to completely coat. Drop into hot oil (375 degrees) and fry for 1-2 minutes.

When they are golden brown, remove from oil and lay on paper towels.

Take a bite and enjoy the scrumptious soft middle surrounded by a light and airy crust (thanks to the beer). It’s truly the best “homemade homework” I produced in quite a while.

Friends, these are simply delicious!

I hope you get the chance to indulge this summer!

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Today’s Word: Homework

Cooking The Goose!

Is it possible that mean people are a blessing in disguise?

I’m not talking about evil people…certainly those that abuse and hurt others are never a blessing! I’m making reference to those people who “rub us the wrong way” or “get under our skin.” You know the ones…forthright, and tactless. Their words are sharp and hurtful, and they never use their tongue to uplift and edify, instead they use it to tear down and debase.

No one likes to be around someone like this. In fact, we go out of our way to avoid them.

But… Perhaps we shouldn’t.

You see, our patience is put on trial every time they grace us with their presence. Our patience literally gets a “work out” just as our muscles do when we exercise.

The apostle James writes in his book, chapter 1, verses 3 and 4, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Trials are never fun, but sometimes they can be beneficial in the growth to become a better person. I love the way Joyce Meyer puts it:

“Learning to walk in love with unlovely people and learning to be patient in trials are probably the two most important tools God uses to develop our spiritual maturity. Believe it or not, difficult people in our lives help us.”

Yes, mean people suck, but let’s “cook their goose” by allowing them to make us better!.

FYI:

Idiom- “Cook Your Goose”

Just for fun: “Use Your Noodle”

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FOWC Forthright

Word of the day: Noodle

Lingering

Anything we give to help hurting people, God will always return many times over. Not only will He meet our needs, but our joy will increase as a result of giving in love. Joyce Meyer

Starburst

Lord, open my eyes that I may see, open my heart that I may love, and open my hands that I may give to those that are lonely, poor, and hurting. Let me walk through this day with eyes wide-open, and when I am my busiest remind me to pause to linger among the least of these. Amen

Word of the Day Challenge: Lingering

What’s in the Suitcase?

The Challenge:  Write a story about the suitcase sitting on the train tracks in exactly 99 words!

working-template-for-ff-challenges44

“What’s in the suitcase, Ralph?”

“Well now, ain’t that the million dollar question?”  Ralph smirked.

Dopey was jumping up and down, anxious to find out.  “Uh…what’s in the suitcase, Ralph?”  

Ralph succinctly cut his eyes to Dopey.  Dopey noticed and hushed.

Ralph looked at the suitcase, thought of the deadline, “What the hell’s taking so long!?”

As if in answer, the train’s whistle blew. 

The suitcase was railroaded, it toppled in the air, and fell open beside the tracks. 

Access

Ralph, Chihuahua-In-Chief, looked inside. 

Dopey, Big-dog-sidekick, bounced up and down behind him…

“Uh…what’s in the suitcase, Ralph?”   (99 Words)

Photo from https://miragerry.livejournal.com/160945.html

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July 26 Flash Fiction Challenge

Word of the Day:  Succinct 

Daily AdditionWord of the Day:  Access

Fandango’s One Word Challenge:  Deadline

 

 

 

 

 

Siren’s Song…A Haiku

Indigo amiss

Chasm to fathoms below

Sea’s eternal bliss.

sirens-song
Siren’s Song by Lisa Hardy

Heeding Haiku With Chèvrefeuille Challenge:  Cooling Down
Word of the Day:  Lullaby
Daily Addiction:  Infinite
FOWC with Fandango:  Unknown
RDP:  Whisper

Share Your World Challenge

The Share Your World Challenge (SYW) hosted by Cee Neuner, gives writers a place to congregate and “shoot the breeze.”  Each week, on Monday, Cee proposes four questions and welcomes us into her cyber living room to discuss and share our unique answers.  I would like to give a “heads up” or an “alert,” if you will, to all my fellow writers…come on in and let’s chew the fat for a while!

So, here we go!

Tastee-Freez-9f342b78_2-991a3168

This week’s four questions are:  

  1. Since we are approaching the hottest part of our summer in the northern hemisphere, what’s your favorite ice-cream, frozen yogurt or sorbet flavor?  As a child growing up in rural North Carolina, the summers were long and days were hot.  Most of the time my hair was in pigtails like Pippie-Long-Stockings, and my feet were bare from sun-up to bedtime.  My days were care-free, romping around the neighborhood with my numerous “Heinz 57” hounds, or playing “Hide-and-Go-Seek” and “Cowboy’s and Indians” with my cousins who lived on the same dirt road.  Every now and then my mom would interrupt my play with a surprise visit to our local Tastee-Freeze.  I would always get a cone of soft serve vanilla ice cream.  Usually, we would sit outside at one of the scattered picnic tables to enjoy this rare treat.  The coldness of the ice cream was so refreshing, making the hot days just a bit cooler.  So to answer the question, I would have to say my favorite frozen treat is still a big cone of soft serve vanilla ice cream.  Now, you may think soft serve vanilla ice cream to be boring, but I beg to differ, for every time I pause to enjoy its soft sweetness I’m transported back into the world of hide-and-seek, cap-guns, and bow and arrows.
  2. How often do you people watch?  Do you remember the old television show, Bewitched?  Elizabeth Montgomery played the lovable neighborhood witch who could twitch her nose to make things appear, disappear, or to even clean a nasty house. (Damn!  Sure wish I could do that!)   Growing up I always had a major crush on this pretty lady.  (Kind of still do)  This loveable witch and her handsome husband, Darren, lived beside a nosy busybody who hid behind her curtains to spy at them with binoculars nestled to her nose.   This year for Christmas, Corinne, my wife, thoughtfully gave her bird-watching wife (me) a wonderful set of binoculars.  Now, you may think you know where this is going…but, I’m nothing like the busybody in Bewitched.  I never hide behind the curtains to spy at my neighbors.  No way!  Instead, I sit on the front porch, behind of the cover of our overgrown hedges to watch the goldfinches eating at the feeder beneath the maple tree in our yard.  The thing with goldfinches, though…they flitter and fly away to visit someone else’s birdfeeder.  In their absence, I tend to get a little bored and find my binoculars swaying to the left or swaying to the right.  It’s not my fault if the neighbors just happen to be in my field of vision.  Just saying…download
  3.  If you had a choice which would be your preference saltwater beaches, freshwater lakes, ocean cruise, hot tub, ski resort or desert?  Oh wow, this is an easy one.  Saltwater beaches all the way!  Growing up poor my mom didn’t have the money to take us kids on vacations to the beach, however, we had family living in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina.  Since we could stay at our beloved Aunt Bessie’s house we were able to get away and visit family while at the same time relaxing in the serenity of the mountains.  I loved it and part of my heart will always walk those hills.  I was much older when I first saw the ocean in all her glory.  I remember feeling fear, reverence, and love…all three mingled together and my sight fell helpless into the wild torrents rolling water.  I was smitten, and I remain smitten some 40 years later.
  4.  What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  The smile and kiss from an old woman was the best thing that happened to me this week.  Her teeth were stained and worn, and she reminded me of the old Eskimo women I’ve seen in photos and television.  I’m not sure of her ethnicity but I could sense she knew little English.  Maybe she was a refugee or an immigrant…it’s possible.  I was volunteering at the food bank, busy greeting and helping those needing food.  I always try to smile and ask them how their day is going, and most smile back and say “fine” or “good” and continue their shopping.  I was in the process of doing this when I noticed an old lady slowly pushing her cart my way.  She paused by the rice, reached for a bag and put it in her cart, then she walked a few more steps, paused and slowly reached for a bag of oatmeal and put it into her cart.  Finally, she reached me and I smiled and said hello.  She smiled creating a multitude of lines that seemed to frame her face within a set of parentheses.  I looked at her smile and at that moment I became an esthete, a person who notices amazing beauty.  Her smile was the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen.   She walked with somewhat of a limp, closing the distance between us.  Then she took me into her arms and kissed me on the neck…she was short and couldn’t reach my cheek.  I didn’t know whether to smile or cry…so, I did both.

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A Love Note to my Readers:  I don’t say it often enough but I’ve fallen in love with each and every one of you.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read my ramblings.  You are a blessing to me.