Wednesday 10 July 2024

A Little Golden Book

I have been in a reflective mood the past few days. Perhaps it's the heatwave engulfing us in the high mountain desert where I live that sucks the very air out of my lungs the minute the sun comes into view. I know I have altered my daily routine quite drastically for the next week or so to accommodate the persistent misery. The weeds will be left to grow without constant interference on my part and the grass will remain uncut until the triple digit temperatures recede. But I will arise early, or go out after dusk if the mosquitos cooperate, to water my flowers and garden because I can't bear to see anything growing die--with the exception of previously mentioned noxious weeds and flying insects that love taking bites from my exposed flesh. 

An angry yellow jacket bit into my elbow Saturday night as I leaned over the deck to water a plant the sprinklers had missed. Apparently he and his friends had built a nest underneath the ledge that I had somehow missed. I swatted at him with my free hand and he managed to get a finger and my forehead before flying away. I had forgotten how horribly one of their bites hurts, but I knew what to do since this wasn't the first time it had happened. After scrubbing each affected area with soapy water, I turned to my book on essential oils. Basil was called for and it was sitting on the shelf right in front of me. I generously applied it to all three affected areas and waited as patiently as I could--without feeling too sorry for myself. Within an hour the penetration lumps, blotchy red and puffy skin and pain were gone. What a blessing it was to know what to do and have the needed materials on hand. 

Needless to say, I took the long end of a broom handle to that nest and three other smaller ones as soon as those none-too-friendly beasties with their long, yellow and black stripped, segmented bodies were no longer quite so active. Unfortunately, there is a fast-growing and much bigger nest under a peaked eve on the back of my house that will have to be dealt with by a professional, or later in the fall when the pesky critters are hibernating. I really don't want to be standing twenty feet in the air on a ladder and have an entire hive of them come after me. I might not be so lucky a second time.

Perhaps being attacked in such a vicious way has inadvertently added to my apathy and loss of energy when it comes to doing anything more strenuous than cleaning a closet, washing a few dishes or reading a book. But that inactivity has brought me to the realization that it's okay to take a break from the routine tasks of living occasionally and contemplate the more important reasons for being alive--especially now when the world is in such turmoil and we are facing the most important election of our lifetime. 

Two Christmas's ago my youngest sister sent each of us siblings a book that has sat on my dest without being opened until today. Perhaps I thought I was too grown up to read a book titled Everything I Need to Know I learned from a Little Golden Book, but I'm so glad I allowed the child within to surface for a few minutes this afternoon. Looking at the pictures I remember from my own childhood and reading brief words from some of the books I loved most like The Poky Little Puppy and The Tree Little Kittens, I felt some of that awe and wonderment from childhood return and felt much lighter inside than I have for quite some time.

Diane Muldrow, a longtime editorial director at Golden Books, made a few comments in the introduction that really hit home for me. She talked about being tantalized by the golden-edged books we saw on shelves at stores everywhere and how much we cherished looking at the pictures after scrawling our names inside the front cover where it said This Book Belongs To . . . . I remember that well and still have a few of the ones I got as a child.

Times were definitely much simpler back them, and I'm sure I learned as much from those little books of childish wisdom as I did from any adult because they spoke to me on a level I could understand using animals I loved to tell their stories. But we grow up and are forced to look at our lives through different lenses. Sadly, many of us don't much like what we see.

Muldrow states, "Ironically, in this health-conscious, ecologically aware age of information, many of us have over borrowed, overspent, overeaten, and generally overdosed on habits or ways of life that aren't good for us--or for our world. The chickens have come home to roost, and their names are Debt, Depression, and Diabetes.

"How did we get here? How, like Tootle the Train, did we get so far off track? Perhaps it's time to revisit these beloved stories and start all over again. Trying to figure out where you belong, like Scuffy the Tugboat? Maybe, as time marches on, you're beginning to feel like you resemble the Saggy, Baggy Elephant.

"Or perhaps your problems are more sweeping. Like the Poky Little Puppy, do you seem to be getting into trouble rather often and missing out on the strawberry shortcake in life? Maybe this book can help you? After all, Little Golden Books were first published during the dark days of World War II, and they've been comforting people during trying times ever since--while gently teaching us thing or two. And they remind us that we've had the potential to be wise and content all along."

Best introduction to a book that I've read for a very long time and the verbiage and pictures inside didn't disappoint. Just to tantalize your imagination and get it moving again, here are three excerpts. "Is your life starting to feel like a circus? Don't panic . . . Today's a new day! Get dressed first thing. (Sweatpants are bad for morale. Put on something nice.) Have some pancakes. Get some exercise everyday. Frolic. Daydream. Go on a joyride. Stroll. Bird-watch. Treat yourself. The simplest things are often the most fun!

". . . . Dare to explore. What's out there for you? Express yourself. Try a new look! Be unique. Just don't go overboard. Start planning that dream too. Soon you'll be on your way. Be open to making new friends . . . even if you're very, very shy. Keep in touch. Hang out. Steer clear of shady characters. Be discriminating. Choose your companions wisely. 

". . . . Let your children know you love them. Work hard. Play hard. But not too hard. Do no harm. Be proud of your country. Don't let the parade pass you by! Think big! Toot your own horn! Believe in Santa Clause . . . Love at first sight. . . and that your ship will come in. As long as you do, your life is bound to be golden!"

It's a book most every adult can relate to and would be a welcome gift to anyone who likes to read or is feeling a little down. I know it stopped me from my spiral thinking and helped me see how truly blessed I am to have a life, a home, a family, a mind unafraid to travel and something important to do each day. There's not anything outside my circle of influence I can change and probably very little within it. But it's not healthy to think about seemingly unsolvable problems all the time.

What is healthy is to thank God for our daily blessings. Sometimes we may not readily see them, but that only means we are concentrating on something else. The hot weather I'm experiencing right now won't last forever. It will be fall soon and I'll have my small harvest of things that are important to me. Few people love gardening the way I do, but they love other things that I don't. What a marvelous world we live in and how blessed we are as Christians to know where we came from, why we are here, and where we will be going when this life is over. 

I want to stop borrowing trouble and live in the moment because that's all any of us can count on.

Thursday 4 July 2024

Could This Be Our Last Independence Day?

I read an editorial on Fox News early this morning that made me sad. It explored the idea that celebrating the 4th of July could easily disappear as so many other important holidays are doing. How could that happen? I foolishly asked myself--knowing the answer in advance. People who hate our country are determined to see it destroyed, including every ideal, value and tradition that makes us unique as a country once admired by nations around the world. The thought of losing what our ancestors fought so diligently to secure leaves my heart so heavy it feels as if I can barely grasp a breath of freedom's glorious air.

We talked about that concept at a meeting of empty-nesters in my community on Monday night. This question was asked. What do you enjoy most about the 4th of July? Of course, the usual answers sprang up immediately: fireworks, parades and family barbecues. And then it became silent. I watched the faces of those around me, wondering if they were having some of the thoughts about all we had lost since our childhoods as I was. After the silence became too much, I vocalized the disturbing ideas that were swimming around in my head. 

To paraphrase, I told them that nothing today is filled with the intense love of country as it once was. Parades are open to anyone who wants to march, few floats celebrating our cultural values are even constructed, parents are afraid to let children eat the candy--if it's even thrown out along the route--and truly patriotic people are scared of being too enthusiastic for fear of being ridiculed or even arrested because someone standing next to them takes offense at what they might say..  

But even as I sit in my air-conditioned home today waiting for evening activities to begin, I feel a love and pride about being an American wash over me. Looking to the left, I see the majestic Rocky Mountain range. The snow is gone and so is much of the green. But it rises as a beacon of hope letting me know that no sacrifice is too great to keep alive the dream of America that is being lost. There are far too many unpatriotic citizens who believe the government should take care of them from cradle to grave. Adding to that hot bed of negativity and downright treason are the millions of illegals who have crossed our border since the fiasco of the 60s immigration laws that started our current crisis. Most of those here without our citizen's approval have no intention of ever declaring allegiance to the United States of America as envisioned in our heavenly-inspired Constitution and Bill of Rights. But they will gladly keep taking what does not rightfully belong to them as long as those in power in Washington have no qualms about destroying the middle-class with over taxation and continual abuse.

As all of you who have read my blogs before know, I am a strong Christian believer in God, our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the divine building of our nation and its glorious charge to be a beacon of hope and light to all other countries. From the 1950s to the 1970s, David O. McKay, an impassioned educator who believed in truth and freedom, warned Americans that we have no greater responsibility than to protect the freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States. Would that we had heeded his message when he declared half a century ago that, "Efforts are being made to deprive man of his free agency - to steal from the individual his liberty . . . . There has been an alarming increase in the abandoning of the ideals that constitute the foundation of the Constitution of the United States."

Few people mention the word communism anymore, but that doesn't mean we aren't being destroyed from within by its ambassadors who continue to hold major leadership positions in our government, as well as being advisors to some of the men and women who change our fundamental laws to suit their purposes. History is repeat with the names and activities of subversive people and organizations who found a place to espouse their dangerous ideologies without fear of retribution within the very walls that were supposed to protect our freedoms.

J. Edgar Hoover, the best informal man in the government during his tenure, said In August 1956 in the Elks Magazine, "We must now face the harsh truth that the objectives of communism are being steadily advanced because many of us do not recognize the means used to advance them. . . . No one who truly understands what it really is can be taken in by it. Yet the individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists. The American mind simply has not come to the realization of the evil which has been introduced into our midst." 

I can barely believe all the rampant evil in our society today and it is being paraded right in front of my face. When I saw on Sunday that someone had taken a shoe and knocked the head off a stature of Jesus as a child as he stood with Mary and Joseph outside a Cathedral in NYC and no one lifted a hand to stop it, I felt great pain. Why are we as Christians not willing to take a stand and declare reverse discrimination? Are we too afraid of what will happen? Our silence is basically our approval. At least that's the way the elites who run the government see it, and they've got the UN, The WHO, DAVOS, the Council of Foreign relations and a dozen other nefarious organizations on their side. Without my approval, and I'm suspecting without any of yours, the World Health Organization received permission in May of this year to establish world laws covering any incident they deem a threat. And we thought the Covid lockdown was debilitating? We haven't seen anything yet.

Ezra Taft Benson, former US Secretary of Agriculture, listed ten ways our republic and constitution are being destroyed while the enemies of freedom are being aided. His list was drafted decades ago, and we are now living through the harm we may have been able to prevent had we even partially understood what was going on before it was was nearly too late. I think you will recognize the cost to our liberty each act brought. 

*    By diplomatic recognition and aid, trade and negotiations with the communists.

*    By disarmament of our military defenses.

*    By destruction of our security laws and the promotion of atheism by decisions of the Supreme Court.

*    By loss of sovereignty and solvency through international commitments and membership in world organization.

*    By usurpation by the executive and judicial  branches of our Federal Government.

*    By lawlessness in the name of civil rights.

*    By a staggering national debt with inflation and a corruption of currency.

*    By a multiplicity of executive orders and federal programs which greatly weaken local and state governments.

*    By the sacrifice of American manhood by engaging in wars we apparently have no intention of winning,

I'm sure each of us could add to that list as we think about how we feel living in a world where we no longer feel safe in our own homes without locks and security systems and are in constant fear of what the government can and will do if we try to resist what they have in mind for us. That's the definition of communism, and Hilary Clinton wasn't kidding when she threatened to round up all MAGA republicans and put them in camps for reeducation. According to a trusted source, bids have now gone out for 50 individual detention centers--under housekeeping bills at 29 million per unit every 5 years--where individuals will be needed for crowd control, visiting logs, training, trafficking, etc. Doesn't sound like some fun resort to me!

According the Norman Vincent Peale, "There was a time when the American people roared like lions for liberty; now they bleat like sheep for security." But is that security worth the loss of everything our ancestors valued?

I remember from my youth when the 4th of July brought out the liberty-loving side in nearly every American. The speeches given were breathtaking in their intense love for freedom and the American way of life. My father often brought out of mothballs his Army uniform and displayed it with pride as he told us about the brave men and women who gave their lives so we could remain free. How awful he must feel looking down on our world today and seeing how easily the progeny of true patriots have given up all that was so valiantly fought for. 

America's blessings are conditioned on righteousness. Are we prepared to see some of our loved ones murdered, our remaining liberties abridged, Christian persecution escalating more than it already has, and our eternal rewards for living an honorable and just life jeopardized? The fight for freedom is God's fight and free agency is an eternal principle. The question as to whether or not we may save our constitutional republic is based on two simple factors: the number of patriots and the extend of their obedience.

When Soviet President Khrushchev visited the United States many years ago, he arrogantly declared, "You Americans are so gullible. Now you won't accept communism outright, but we'll keep feeding you small doses of socialism until you'll finally wake up and find you already have communism. We won't have to fight you. We'll so weaken your economy until you fall like over-ripe fruit into our hands." 

Ezra Taft Benson, in his book "Stand Up For Freedom", pages 150 and 156, adds. ". . . today the Christian constitutionalist mourns for his country. He sees the spiritual and political faith of his fathers betrayed by wolves in sheep's clothing. He sees the forces of evil increasing in strengthened momentum under the leadership of Satan, the archenemy of freedom. He sees the wicked honored and the valiant abused. He senses that his own generation faces Gethsemanes and Valley Forges that may yet rival or surpass the trials of the early apostles and the men of '76.  And this gives him cause to reflect on the most basic of fundamentals, the reason for our existence. Once we understand the fundamental purpose for mortality, we may more easily chart a course in the perilous seas that are engulfing our nation.

" . . . . This is still God's world. The forces of evil, working through some mortals, have made a mess of a good part of it. But it is still Gods world. In due time, when each of us have had a chance to prove himself--including whether or not we are going to stand up for freedom--God will interject himself, and the final and eternal victory shall be for free agency. And then those weak-willed souls on the sideline and those who took the wrong but temporarily popular course will lament their decisions." 

This may well be the final call for all Christians and Freedom-loving Americans of all religious persuasions to join hands, put aside petty differences and strengthen our conviction to speak out for freedom. We need to voluntarily come to the aid of patriots, programs and organizations that are trying to save our constitution through every legal and moral means possible. It is a truism that some of the things that are threatening our lives, our welfare and our liberty are some of the very things we may have been unintentionally condoning. Too many of us don't want to be disturbed as we continue to enjoy our comfortable complacency. Freedom can be killed by neglect as easily as by direct attack.

President Calvin Coolidge said some years ago. "WE do not need more material development, we need more spiritual development. We do not need more intellectual power, we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. We do not need more government, we need more culture. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen. It is on that side of life that it is desirable to put the emphasis at the present time. If that side is strengthened, the other side will take care of itself. It is that side which is the foundation of all else. If the foundation be firm, the superstructure will stand." (Prophets, Principles and National Survival, p. 35)

In an FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin from April 1962, as stated by J. Edgar Hoover, we read: "Today as never before, America has need for men and women who possess the moral strength and courage of our forefathers - modern-day patriots, with pride in our country and faith in freedom . . ..

"To often in recent years, patriotic symbols have been shunted aside, Our national heroes have been maligned, our history distorted. Has it become a disgrace to pledge allegiance to our flag - or sign a loyalty oath, or pay tribute to our national anthem? Is it shameful encourage our children to memorize the stirring words of the men of "76? Is it becoming opprobrious to state 'In God we trust' when proclaiming our love of country?

"What is desperately needed today is patriotism founded on a real understanding of the American ideal - a dedicated belief in our principles of freedom, and a determination to perpetuate America's heritage."

In the words of a very wise man, "The destiny of mankind is in the balance. It is a question of God and Liberty, or atheism and slavery . . . ."

But can we get out of our present situation without serious trouble? That is the golden question. And as far as we have fallen into the clutches of the elites who want to destroy everything that makes America great, it well may not happen without a civil war and blood running in the streets. That's a disturbing thought, but one that cannot be ignored. We must prepare ourselves and our families as best we can because America is too great to lose and we will be held partially accountable if it happens our watch. We must become informed and ready to take positive action before the worst possible scenario happens.