PRAY TELL, WHAT’S YOUR STORY? Part 2.

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We are like sentient characters in a great book of life and just as in the allegory from the previous post, our Creator would very much like to communicate with us and intervene in our stories, and does so when we ask.

So, how do we purposely ask? Jesus told those whom he had chosen to spread the message he brought into the world the way to ask. Now-a-days, we call it prayer.

WHAT IS PRAYER ANYWAY? Simply put, most of the time when the word is used in the New Testament it simply means to ask, petition, or entreat. Sometime the word “pray” makes me think of books I’ve read or movies I’ve watched where people spoke an older version of English and said such things as, “I pray ye, Sir, canst thou spare me a penny?” In other words, “I’m asking, could you give me a penny?” Our modern word, pray, comes from an Old French term which comes from Latin, but the word used in the New Testament comes from Greek and while the English and French variations imply begging, the Greek means to ask and sometimes it means to worship which means to honor, adore, and appreciate. It is my understanding that praying means to ask with an appreciative, expectant attitude, not a begging attitude.  That means you don’t have to crawl up the steps of an elaborate church on your hands and knees, weeping, flogging yourself and begging God to have mercy on you, a dirty, rotten sinner. Prayer simply means to respectfully ask with appreciation and gratitude as if the answer is already given.

AND HERE’S MY personal view of the way Jesus taught his followers to ask for things.

OUR FATHER— The Greek word Jesus used here “pat-ayr” translates as “parent or father parent.” In Jewish tradition at that time the role of a father was to protect, to provide, and to love as is evidenced in stories such as the one where Joseph’s father lamented the perceived loss of his son so deeply that he never got over it. It was expected that a father not only claim his children but actively love them in words and in actions.

Notice that Jesus didn’t just say, “my Father.” He said OUR Father, OUR parent, OUR source, OUR provider.” Why is this such a big deal? Because Jesus wanted us to know that his father and OUR father are the same Father, so by his saying OUR, he let us each know that we can confidently say MY. So, OUR Creator, is also our parent, because like an author who could give life to his/her characters, Creator loves us, appreciates us, cherishes us and is truly a Father to us.

WHICH ART IN HEAVEN, The Greek word for Heaven here, according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, is Ouranos which implies rising, above, a habitation, happiness, eternity—i.e., a higher plane or a place of eternal happiness. Old timers around here used to call it Glory. I remember an old song, “Just over in the Glory Land.” Heaven is as good a term as any, but we could say, “Our Father, you exist in a higher realm, outside the confinements of this “book of life,” and when the covers are closed, you still exist. You can intervene anywhere and at any point. There are no limitations in your reality.”

HALLOWED BE THY NAMEsacred, pure and blameless is your onoma (Greek), which means character, authority.  In other words, you (Father) are sacred, pure, blameless. There is no ill-will toward me, toward any of us. We are, I am, loved without measure and due to nothing I (nor anyone else) have or have not done.

THY KINGDOM COME. THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.

Let your kingdom come in me. Let your peace, which is incomprehensible to those who don’t believe you exist in a reality beyond all that we can imagine, guide my heart, my every step. I want to do things in the way that you say is best for me. I want your directions to be sovereign in my life. I want to walk the perfect pathway that you have laid out for me and trust that you know where all the pieces to my life’s puzzles go and that you know how to help me write the next chapter in my life story. I want to see my journey as you see it.  I want your help in writing my story, because you are the author and editor of all that I believe, and I know that you know what is best for me.

GIVE US OUR DAILY BREAD

There is no limit in the higher reality. There is no lack. There is only abundance in every area. Whatever I need, it’s already there. So, I petition you, “Give me what I need today,” and I thank you for it. My heart is full of excitement that you will do exceedingly, abundantly above all that I ask or think according to the power, the same power that created the universe, formed the world, that works within me. I will not worry over tomorrow because you are already there.

AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS, AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS

Debt implies owing. Somewhere Paul said that we owe no one anything except love. Forgiveness implies not holding a wrong done to you against someone. Jesus never said to pray to “Forgive and forget,” only forgive. So, I pray, “Overlook my faults and I overlook the faults of others.” And I also pray, “Let me see through spirit eyes and look at others the way you look at them.”

AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION

Help me not to get distracted from the right path.  Guide me away from things, people and circumstances that would divert me and keep me from the values that you have placed inside me: peace, joy, love, hope, faith, creativity, great relationships, kindness, gratefulness, appreciation, mercy, gentleness, health, satisfaction, and abundance in every area of my life. Keep my eyes focused on my purpose and my feet on the path that is right and best for my life. Help me to constantly be aware of the bigger picture.

BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL

Set me free and steer me clear of everything in my life that brings degeneracy to me, that would hurt me, influence me to go in a direction that is not best for me, steals my wealth, hurts my family, works to stunt my spiritual growth, harms my physical body, emotional state, or mind, from anything that would hinder me, bring calamity upon me, grieve me, or divert me from the best path for my life. (Evil in this passage indicated illness, calamity, degeneracy—hurt: also, I Chronicles 4:10 Jabez prayed something very similar.)

FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM— AND THE POWER—AND THE GLORY—FOREVER—AMEN,

Your way is the best way, the only true way, and the only enduring way. Your reality is the only one that is reality to me, and all that is, exits because of your will, your intent, your imagination, your purpose. Let me have joy in this world and in the world to come. I thank you for eternity. Let these all these things come to be.

PRAY TELL, WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

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Part 1

I am an author and as such, I view life through the eyes of a creator, a creator of realities, plots, and characters. What you are about to read is an understanding so big that it is difficult to even put it into words, and although I got a glimpse of it years ago, it wasn’t until I sat down to write this blog post that it became so profound as to expand my understanding beyond anything I have previously known.

WHY DO WE LOVE STORIES?

THE ADVENTURES OF…the mystery of….the tales of….You name it and there is a story about it. So, why do we love stories? Why do we create stories? It’s because we love adventure. We love discovery. We love excitement (albeit, all of us love it on different levels). We love to dream and to imagine, to wonder. That’s why we’re drawn to what we don’t know, what we haven’t experienced. Imagine that you came into life already knowing the entire storyline and there was nothing for you to discover or wonder about or uncover. What if there were no adventures or mysteries? Nothing would excite you because you’d already know everything. It’d be like living in a rerun. Helen Keller once said that life is a grand adventure or nothing at all. She was blind and deaf, yet she could hear and see on a level that many never reach. So, the joy of writing a story is in watching the characters evolve, discover, and explore. What if these characters were more than figments of the author’s imagination? What if they were sentient? What if I could give them life and the ability to make their own choices and to write their own stories? Now THAT would be interesting!

ME: THE OMNIPOTENT AUTHOR

If the characters in one of my novels could talk to you, they would speak only from the perspective of their world, which is held within the confines of the manuscript that I, the omnipotent creator of their reality, have written for them. They would have no idea that they are simply extensions of my imagination, unless of course, I gave them the ability to know me and the freedom to choose whether to trust my judgement as to how to best complete their stories.  

If I could give sentience to my characters, I would love them as if they were my children and there would be nothing I wouldn’t do to help them love their own stories, to enjoy their grand adventure through their book of life. So, why would I do this? For my good pleasure or well, just because I wanted to create something THAT amazing. But what would be the best way to make them aware of my existence and give them the chance to interact with me?

A UNIQUE CHARACTER

I could just create them with complete understanding and knowledge, but then they would miss out on the experience of knowing what it is like to begin a story as flat characters and then to become aware of the fact that they are more than just computer bites or ink on paper, or figments in a dream, lifeless with no control over what happens to them. They would miss out on the experience of “waking up” and realizing that they are literally sent into the story to play there and discover much like children are when going to a new playground. They would miss out on the discovery of learning that they are co-creators with me and that I am giving them whatever they ask for in their stories. They would miss out on knowing the joy that comes with “waking up,” and discovering who they really are.

I could drop hints that might help them wake up. Maybe, throughout the unfolding of the plot, especially in the early chapters, I would interject myself into the story so that some of the characters got glimpses of me. These characters might try to tell the others what they had seen and heard and understood, but they’d be limited to the language of the story. So, the things they said would often be misunderstood. Of course, some of them would form crazy ideas about me, based on a partial picture, because after all, they are sentient. They might make up all kinds of rules about who gets to receive their special knowledge and the rules might become more important than the adventure of the story itself. They might spend their entire time in the story, making up rules and trying to tell other people how the story is supposed to unfold. Some of them would try to force the other characters to act the way they wanted them to, threaten, guilt, manipulate and control them into doing so. They could even take to writing each other out of the plot (killing one another off). I could intervene, but that takes away the free will that I already chose to give them.

ONE OF THEIR OWN

I suppose the best way to communicate who I really am and that I really want to see them create and have fun doing it would be to write a unique and special kind of character, a representative of myself! My special character, because he or she knows exactly who I am and what I really want would do things that defied the laws that other characters had written into the book, because those laws were written with limited understanding.

This character to whom I would give complete knowledge and memory of being with me and a part of me before coming into the world of the story would be a creation the same as all the others and would live in the same confinements of the book. However, this character would understand that he or she and all the other characters existed outside the book within me before they came into the story. This character would know that they came into existence because I wanted to create them and give them life and let them experience the joy of waking up. Even more than that, he or she would know that I not only wanted to give them life, but the ability to choose what kind of life they would live.

THE AUTHOR WANTS TO HELP THE CHARACTERS

OF COURSE, the role of this character would be to tell the others about me and how I was gifting each of them with the power to create their own stories. If they choose to create with their limited understanding of what is true by refusing to believe that I exist and thinking that what’s in the book is all that there is; then they are on their own, and their stories might not be what they really want, because they can’t see what’s up ahead and how all the pieces of the plot fit together, but if they ask me for guidance, I will intervene and steer them away from consequences that they want to avoid. I will gladly use my literary expertise and help them write a fantastic life story.

I would have my special character share the message with a few of them and then I’d take him or her out of the book, because they will spread the message in the following chapters. And if they understood what I was telling them through my special character, they would discover that they, too, were extensions of me and that I had given them the ability, the power, to change the plot of their stories and shape them in ways that they really wanted. Once awakened to what they are truly capable of, they would be so happy and joyful in the discovery that they would want to share it with others. There would be some, of course, who weren’t awake but were astonished by those who were, so they would make up more rules and laws and ways of doing things to teach others how to be aware.  

THE ILLUSION OF DEATH AND CONTROL

THIS SPECIAL CHARACTER coming into the story with full knowledge would already know how the story was going to play out. He or she might know that many wouldn’t believe the message that I was giving them the power to create themselves. They might be so bent on staying within the confines of the book that they create all kinds of havoc, even to the point of killing off the special character that I sent into the story, but me, being the omnipotent author, could resurrect that special character and re-insert him or her into the story with not only the message that I exist but proof that I can do anything, because in relation to their reality, I have no limits. I would want them to understand through this that “death” is an illusion. It is not an ending. It is only an exit from the story. Death is the beginning of a new kind of existence, one with limitless understanding and because there is limitless understanding, there is no sadness, no fear, no hate. So if one of my characters were to ask me for assistance, no matter how jumbled their story has become, no matter how out of alignment with what they really want for themselves it has gotten, no matter how much of it they’ve let other characters write, if they ask me to help them straighten it out, I will gladly intervene, and it would be so much fun for me to talk to my characters and have them talk to me. What could be more delightful to a creator than to have a living creation to whom you have given sentience, communicate and co-create with you?! The only thing that could even come close to that feeling on earth is doing things with your kids and seeing delight and discovery on their faces. In that way, I, the original creator of the story, would be a parent to all my characters and I would be their source and the answer to every dilemma they might encounter, but I would honor the free-will that I had given them and not force them to do anything. However, if they ask me to help them write the plot, because I see the whole book from cover to cover and I know the best course of action for them, then yes, I will rework the plot on their behalf and work things out for them.

TO BE CONTINUED…..

Life is a Jigsaw Puzzle

Original photo by Darlene Franklin-Campbell, 2021

When I was a kid, my mom and I spent hours putting together jigsaw puzzles. I got pretty good at it. This week I put a puzzle together and as I did, I had a Forrest Gump’s Momma kind of moment, but instead of thinking that life is like a box of chocolates, I thought, “Life is like a jigsaw puzzle.”

WE PUT IT TOGETHER WITHOUT A BOX LID TO GUIDE US

Except we don’t get to look at the picture on the the box, because we left it somewhere. And we can’t remember where. We are aware that it had an image on it, but we can’t remember exactly what it looked like. The nuances escape us. We may have some idea that it was a garden or a yellow cat or whatever, but we don’t have the exact image to go by, just some vague memory.

So, we look at the pieces in front of us and try to fit them together. Sometimes, the colors, shapes and patterns match up perfectly and sometimes, they don’t. Often, we’re like nine-year-old children, trying to cram pieces together that don’t really go together and then we get mad because our picture isn’t unfolding in a way that makes sense to us.

It’s not impossible to put the puzzle together without the complete picture to guide us. I have done that a time or two. It just takes quite a bit of slowing down the mind and allowing intuition to come into play, paying attention to those subtle variations in colors, sizes, patterns, and shapes of the pieces. I mean you must analyze every piece in relation to the last piece you put down and the surrounding pieces. When we do this, without trying to force the pieces together to create the immediate results that we want, we soon see a true picture unfolding and each time we fit one piece with another that naturally goes with it, we feel a small sense of exhilaration and triumph.

WE HAVE AMNESIA AND LEFT IT SOMEWHERE.

We sort of come into this world with spiritual amnesia and the older we get, the longer we go without a view of the “box lid,” the less we remember. We start listening to other people tell us how we’re supposed to be and what the picture of our lives are supposed to look like. We start trying to fit the pieces into place according to what others say, but here’s the thing. They lost their box lids, too, and most don’t even know what their own puzzles are supposed to look like, let alone yours! So, they try to tell you how to put your puzzle together based on what they think theirs are maybe, possibly, supposed to be. It doesn’t work. It leads to frustration and to anger. Some people get so mad that you’re not putting your puzzle together like they think it ought to be that they try to force you, even hurt you. Some go so far in their need to control as to destroy another person’s puzzle. They may try to control you, trick you, manipulate you, intimidate you, threaten you—all because it unnerves them that they might not actually be the master puzzle solvers they have believed themselves to be. They might get so fearful that somehow it is going to hurt them if they allow you to put your own puzzle together. They might also get afraid someone else is going to damage their puzzles or steal their pieces, so they set up a guard and vehemently guard their puzzles, not allowing anyone in who doesn’t follow their prescribed rules for solving puzzles. Others scream at you and tell you how bad you are because your picture isn’t looking like the way they think it’s supposed to look.

Sometimes, we feel horrible about ourselves, and we think that somehow, we’re just not good at putting our puzzles together and that there is something wrong with our brains or our hearts or that we are just not “good people.” We walk around feeling guilty and unworthy because we aren’t putting our puzzles together to please others, or we compared our puzzles to theirs and ours looks smaller or duller or more jumbled. We go to the puzzle “experts”, and they tell us how to put our puzzles together. But guess what? They don’t have the box lid to our puzzles either!

So, what do we do?

WE CALL THE PUZZLE-MAKER

Imagine that you know that the original creator of your puzzle and that this creator knows exactly where each piece goes. This puzzle-maker comes and whispers in your ear as you put your puzzle together and tells you which piece to pick up and how to turn it and points to the exact place where it goes. There is no stress on you. Your struggle ceases. The only way you can go back to feeling stressed, guilty, fearful, chaotic, etc. is to resist the help being offered to you, if you ignore the puzzle-maker’s instructions.

I will interject here that sometimes well-meaning people will come along and point out to you that you are in error, because the instructions you’re receiving from the puzzle-maker aren’t the same as what they think is right, so they want to remind you that there’s something wrong with your hearing and they offer their services to translate for you and tell you that you should follow their instructions as they are clearly more qualified to talk to Puzzle-Maker than you, but they’re not, because Puzzle-Maker talks to them about their puzzles and to you about yours.

So, if we trust the puzzle-maker and stop listening to everyone else, we find that we are not only putting our puzzle together almost effortlessly, without relentlessly struggling to jam together pieces that don’t belong together, we’re also having a wonderful time trusting and getting to know the puzzle-maker.

Each person’s life is a unique puzzle that is only finished when we leave our earth bodies. It doesn’t matter if anyone else in the world can see that our picture is unfolding as it should or if they can see the complete picture when we’re done. It’s not their job to see it. It’s not even ours. It’s simply our job to put our puzzle together and we can either do it without guidance, guessing our way through or we can listen to the soft guiding voice of the puzzle-maker.

TRUST THAT THE PIECES WILL COME TOGETHER

I believe that everything in my life is working out for my good, for my highest benefit, so long as I don’t get impatient and try to force the pieces together before the Puzzle-Master tells me where to put them. People can say whatever they want, do whatever they want but as for me, I will follow my internal spiritual guidance system. I paraphrase what King David of Israel once said of his puzzle-maker, “What you say, your word, is a lamp that lights my path.”  There are times when I don’t know exactly what I should wish for or ask for or which way to go, but if I wait, the answer comes. The indwelling I Am in me helps me with this weakness, asking for things so wonderful and deep that my natural mind hasn’t caught up just yet and it’s not even possible for me to speak or write those deepest desires with ordinary speech. Still, they are there and if I only follow the gentle guiding of my puzzle-maker, the whole picture unfolds, a piece at a time.

So, each of us has our own life path to walk, our own puzzle to complete. The puzzle-maker is constantly whispering to us “This piece goes here,” or “no, not there. Not yet.” It’s up to us to choose whether to listen and trust enough to follow the puzzle-maker’s guidance or not. There is never any force involved. If there is force, it’s not the puzzle-maker doing the forcing, it’s another person without a box lid, another person who can’t see the big, eternal picture. If we listen to those Spirit whispers and obey them, our life-puzzles go together so much easier.

As for me, I will live my life trusting the puzzle-maker to guide me in putting every piece into its proper place. If that brings people into my life, great. If that causes some people to walk out, it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate them, or love them, it just means that my highest call is not to complete their puzzles, it’s to complete mine.

WHAT’S IN THE NAME OF GOD?

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My legal name is Darlene Campbell, but I have a tribal name, too. I have a sacred name that is known only to Creator. I have family nicknames and other nicknames from differing friends. I have a pen name. I have several forum names for various online interactions. I am sometimes called “Teacher” by my students or even “Ma’am” or “Miss” by people who don’t know me well, but so long as I know someone is talking to “me” I answer. The essence of who I am doesn’t change based on the title someone uses to identify me. I am always—me. Sometimes, I’m given titles by people based on a perceived image of me, whether accurate or inaccurate, it is their perception of me and doesn’t really change who I actually am, because I am more than any one title that is used to describe me. Just as being called different names by different people doesn’t change the essential essence of who we are, giving God many names does not alter the Creator’s character or essence. That is consistent and enduring.

Father. Daddy.

We often read and see the Bible through Euro-centric lens that has been colored for centuries by interpretations from various religious groups and denominations, stemming from European cultures dating all the way back to the birth of the Catholic Church, but the truth is that the Old Testament was written by Hebrews coming from an ancient Jewish culture, worldview and understanding. The New Testament was also written in the context of Jewish culture, albeit, under Roman laws.

According to Rabbi Laze Gurkow in his article, The Jewish Father, in ancient Israel, census records recorded who the father was in Jewish families. It was usually obvious who the mother was. She was the one who carried the child in her body for nine months, but the father wasn’t so obvious, in the days of Moses, the women in the Egyptian culture tended to be more promiscuous than Hebrew women (just check out the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. She was NOT an exemption to her culture.) so the Hebrew fathers legally claimed their children so that the children could receive their inheritances or birthrights.

The Hebrew father’s role was to protect and provide. The Jewish father was a source of provision and protection for his family. If he didn’t provide for his family, he was not a good father, not a good source. It doesn’t matter who agrees or disagrees with that distinction now. It was simply the culture in which they lived, so the Bible (for the most part) was written by Hebrews, coming from a Hebrew culture, which was patriarchal, and it was written through life viewed through a Hebrew lens, but eternal truths remain the same, regardless of the culture by which they are framed.  So, God was called “Father” because God is the source of all provisions.   

In the New Testament, still coming from a Hebrew mindset but written in Greek, both Paul and Jesus refer to God as Abba, which basically means—a personal, loving provider or as we might say in modern American English—Daddy or Papa. It implies not only provision and protection but compassion and affection.

MOTHER. NUTURER.

The phrase “El Shaddai” is used sometimes in the Old Testament. El is a generic word for “god” just any god. But when put with Shaddai (which literally means breasts) it denotes a sense of nurture, loving kindness, and the source of all life. It denotes a mother-relationship, an abiding, Momma Bear kind of love. Some people translate this as Almighty One again, but in various forms of El that are used to describe Creator, we see a kind, loving, nurturing nature that runs after us with a love that will, as Michael W. Smith sings, kick down walls, tear down lies and go to any lengths to come to our aid.  El Shaddi is for us and not against us. The term denotes a love that endures all things, bears all things, is not ego-inflated, but looks out for our best interests, a love that wants us to become all we are meant to be just as a good mother will do anything to protect her children. It denotes a “giver and guardian.”

THE FATHER.

Sometimes the words “The Father” are used in the Bible because it is referring to God as the originator of all things in the same way that we might say, “George Washington is the Father of America.” Well, of course he’s not. He did not literally sire, provide for and protect every person ever born or adopted as an American citizen, but we associate him with the origin of the country.

GOD.

The term “God” as we say it today in English comes from a number of Germanic languages of Europe and was used long before Christianity was introduced. It was used by ancient Germanic peoples (including the Norse who also used the term The All Father) to denote any number of deities or energies or spirts that presided over certain aspects of their lives. It wasn’t until Christianity spread throughout Europe that the god became the one God, denoting supremacy over other gods.

I AM.

Until Judaism left Israel and became a dominant belief system in their known world, the Hebrews used the terms Yahweh (YHWH)The vowels were added by the Masoretes between the 6th and 10th centuries A.D.  And it was the Masoretes who translated Yaweh as Jehovah or sometimes Iehovah because the Latin they used did not have a “Y” in it, so they substituted. YHWH meant “CREATOR.” Or “I Am,” sometimes translated as the Eternal One or All-Sufficient One or Self-Existent (hmmm…that’s I Am, again!) In Exodus 3: 14 when Moses asked who he should tell the people had sent him back to Egypt, the voice from the burning bush answered that he should tell them, “I AM THAT I AM” has sent you. Some versions of the story translate this as “I AM WHO I AM.” But the connotations are: Whatever you need—I AM. I Am is the source of all we need.  

Other words would be added to Yaweh (or Jehovah) to emphasize that there is no limit to the Eternal Source of Existence, the Creator of all.  Take a look at a few of these.

Yahweh Yireh—I Am— Your Provider

Yahhweh Rapha—I Am—Your Healer

Yahweh Nissa—I Am—Your Banner (only used once in the Old Testament to signify a flag carried into battle which identified the warriors. So, it could be used as I Am your Identity or Defense.)

Yahweh Tsidkenu—I Am—Your Righteousness

I AM reminds me that all we need is already within us if we just relax into I AM and trust I AM then WE ARE whatever we need to be and WE HAVE whatever we need to have and WE CAN do whatever needs to be done because there IS NO LIMIT to the supply, the abundance or the power that is working in us and through us. The same spirit (energy from I AM) that parted the Red Sea lives in us. The same power (energy) that raised the dead and healed the sick, lives in us. All that we need to bring into the physical realm, all abundance, and peace, and joy, and strength, and understanding—already exists in the non-physical realm. I call it the Spirit World. Some people call it Kingdom of Heaven. Some call it Glory. Whatever term you prefer, it is that place of abundant existence were the laws of spirit supersede the laws of the physical universe. It’s the place outside this bubble of time-space reality, this temporal zone. It’s Eternal Existence and it’s where we abide once we exit our bodies, make our transitions from physical to pure spirit, where there are no tears because we know as we are known and understand all things.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, After the Babylonian Exile (6th century BCE), and especially from the 3rd century BCE on, Jews ceased to use the name Yahweh for two reasons. As Judaism became a universal rather than merely a local religion, the more common Hebrew noun Elohim (plural in form but understood in the singular), meaning “God,” tended to replace Yahweh to demonstrate the universal sovereignty of Israel’s God over all others. At the same time, the divine name was increasingly regarded as too sacred to be uttered; it was thus replaced vocally in the synagogue ritual by the Hebrew word Adonai (“My Lord”), which was translated as Kyrios (“Lord”) in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures.”

Elohim basically translates as Creator. It is often used in other forms to show aspects of Creator’s ability to meet every need in our lives. According to the Hebrew incarnations of Elohim, Creator, is our healer, our provider, our source, our strength, our nurturer, and everything else we need.

NO MATTER THE NAME.

Regardless of what title you choose to give God—the character of the YeHOvah/Yahweh/Elohim never changes; the Spirit remains the same. If I, a being with partial spiritual amnesia in a limited physical body with limited understanding, can figure out who you’re talking to, regardless of which title you use when you talk to me, surely the Great Spirit and Creator of the universe can do so even better. If you know God, then you know God, no matter what name you use, because you know the heart and character. “Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD (YeHOvah–I AM) who formed it and established it, the LORD is his name. Call to Me, and I will answer and show you great and mighty things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:2-3 NKJV)

*the word used here translates from YAHWEH, YeHOvah, the Self-Existing (I Am), Eternal. (see blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h3068/kjv/wlc/0-1/)

https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/896251/jewish/The-Jewish-Father.htm

https://www.etymonline.com/word/god

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Yahweh

https://www.scripturalgrace.com/post/yahweh-yireh-the-lord-will-provide-biblical-meaning-praying-the-names-of-god

https://www.hebrew4christians.com/Names_of_G-d/Elohim/elohim.html

It’s Not Out There

“NOBODY GETS ME,” I told myself that for years. I looked for a true friend, a real kindred spirit. Finally, I get it. It’s not anyone else’s job to “get me.” It’s mine. Their job is to get themselves!

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The Apostle Paul once said that he had learned to be content whether he found himself in circumstances of plenty or in circumstances of scarcity. The New Testament was originally written in Greek and the word used here was autarkhj; according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance it meant, “Sufficient for oneself, strong enough or processing enough to need no aid or support
independent of external circumstances contented with one’s lot, with one’s means, though the slenderest.”
And one of the English definitions for content is blissful happiness or a perpetual state of joy. So, what Paul was saying is that he had learned to be happy–independent of the circumstances around him. He had learned a secret. Happiness, true happiness, is not dictated by anything outside us.

IF IT’S NOT out there then where is it?

You may say, “But if he knew what I had to put up with” or if “if he knew what I was going through” he wouldn’t be so quick to say that. Here’s the thing. Nobody else ever has gone through exactly what you are going through because you are the only you that has faced your unique life with it’s unique attributes. Each of us have our own path to walk. Nobody can walk it for us. One thing I realized when my dad died and I was with him as he came to the time to make his transition into pure spirit was that no matter how much handholding I did, no matter how many times I told him that I loved him, when it was all said and done, he had to make that final step by himself. It was his life and his crossing, not mine. We all begin our temporal journeys as individuals, and we all end them as individuals. Yet, somewhere along the way, we begin to think that happiness lies somewhere outside of ourselves. We start to look for someone or something else to “fix” the things that we don’t like about our lives.

Some people look for fulfillment in the things they can acquire, in fame, in success, in popularity, in money, in appearance, in social media friends, in relationships and likes and shares. Yet, it’s not there and they are left feeling there is something “missing,” something “more.” And there is, but it’s not in the places they’re looking. Like that old song says, they are “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

THE ONLY PLACE true happiness is found is in alignment with the Almighty Source of the Universe. When you line up with the plan meant especially for you, then you find inner peace, fulfillment, purpose; that is happiness. You realize that you can be happy with or without others and that what really makes you happy is doing what brings you peace in your heart. You have to get in touch with who you are inside, your spirit. And your spirit is connected to the Great Spirit, the Almighty Source of life. You discover that you don’t need as much validation and you’re not moved as much by criticism as you once were. Suddenly, you feel you have nothing to prove to anyone, no need to struggle.

WHEN YOU ARE in line with God, you don’t need others to perform or behave a certain way. You get that their journeys are different than yours and that your walk is your walk and you have no need to control them or make them behave the way you want them to. You learn to let God take care of them. You gain peace in your heart that comes from walking your personal God-given path.

If there is a personal struggle involved in the path you are walking, and you constantly feel an internal tug-of-war, there is resistance involved, which means you and God are in disagreement about the way you’re going, about the path you’re choosing. As long as you have internal resistance, you won’t have peace.

“NOBODY GETS ME,” I told myself that for years. I looked for a true friend, a real kindred spirit. Finally, I get it. It’s not anyone else’s job to “get me.” It’s mine. Their job is to get themselves!

Happiness is not “out there” somewhere. Peace is not out there somewhere. It’s not dependent upon the right circumstances. My attitude has the power to change my circumstances. Nothing else does. I don’t need to wait for the perfect conditions to be the person I’m meant to be.

Just before I started writing this blog post, an ad popped up on my FaceBook page with a handsome man’s face, promising to help me find my “special someone.” But guess what? My special someone is the spirit within. No one else can complete me. I’m not half a person. I’m a whole person already.

When you cultivate a relationship with Almighty Source and are spirit-led, you don’t need to be with someone else to feel complete. You are happy with others and you’re happy alone. If you have an attitude of gratitude everyday and refuse to let the fear that the news media and the negativity of drama drag you down, if you wake up each day and say a prayer of thankfulness and allow yourself to find joy in your daydreams whether they are logically possible or not, then I promise you, you will begin to see “good” in your world and things will change. One of my favorite Wayne Dyer quotes is, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

NO ONE CAN ever see life through anyone else’s eyes. If we try to force others to see life through our eyes, we are just wasting our time. We become cynical, judgmental and bitter. However, we live with gratitude, appreciation, joy, and love, then others will see our light and maybe, they will realize they are light, too, and they will begin to shine.

It’s not our job to go around judging another’s perception of life. It’s our job to live ours. It’s not our job to judge. Jesus said that if we judge, we bring judgement on ourselves. Who am I to tell you how to live your life? That’s between you and God. Only YOU know what brings peace and alignment in your life. I’m only responsible to travel my own journey.

I finally understand what unconditional love really is. It doesn’t mean to look at a horrible condition and love the horrible condition, but it means to walk a life that is in line with God’s perfect plan for you. That’s where happiness is found. That’s where peace is at.

Finally, when you decide to listen to the still, small voice within you, to examine your own heart and learn to identify those things that bring you out of alignment with God, out of peace, those things that cause you inner conflict, guilt, confusion and turmoil. When you learn to withdraw from those things if necessary, then you are walking in unconditional love because you aren’t being guided by religious rules, by someone else’s prescription for your life or by the standards of the world’s idea of success but you are truly being spirit-led and that is where happiness is found.

SO STOP TRYING to make things happen, stop the struggle. Make your requests known to God then feel happy and confident that they are as good as done and listen to your inner guidance system which is the peace of God. Let inner peace be your navigator through life. If you’re having to look over your shoulder all the time, if you have knots in your stomach on a daily basis, if you’re constantly sighing and feel a sense of dread, even about things you like, then maybe it’s time to examine what you’re doing that is throwing your inner peace out of whack.

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Hope.

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Darlene Franklin-Campbell, August 31, 2021

Martin Luther King Jr. once said that it’s only in the darkness that we can see the stars. So, the darker the night, the more obvious a star. A literal translation of that for those not so metaphorically inclined is that it’s only in a troubled time, a dire situation, the face of discouragement, that we really notice hope. If all things are going smoothly then we don’t have to exercise hope so much. But hope is that which breaks through our darkness. As Desmond Tutu once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

Once I went to Mammoth Cave. The tour guide turned out the lights. The darkness was the darkest dark I had ever seen. Then she turned on her flashlight and everywhere that single light source touched was lit. No matter how dark a place is, just one small light, so long as it shines, makes a difference in whether you walk with sure footing or you fall into a crevice. Never underestimate the power of a light, no matter how small it may seem.

Over the past two years, we’ve been bombarded with images of darkness (metaphorically speaking). The news has been filled with disease, plagues, floods, fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, war, threats of more wars, possibly biological warfare (I know the jury is still out on that one) riots, political unrest, upheaval in every realm imaginable; mayhem, death, destruction, despair and discouragement, but but whenever I go out at night, the first thing I notice is the stars, the light. If it is raining or cloudy, then I notice every porch light or every glimmer of the moon that lightens the clouds. Light is energy and it always finds a way to get through, even if it’s just through cracks or around the edges of a shade. One sliver of light drives away the darkest dark. So, I’d like to focus on a few slivers of light, of hope.

Hope is free. It is no respecter of persons. Hope doesn’t care where you come from or what shade of fleshly vehicle you’re driving through your life on earth. Hope is an equal opportunity encourager. Hope is not bound to geographic regions, not stopped by prison walls, not squelched by floods or burned away by fires. Hope is not buried in landslides. Hope, the earnest expectation of what is to come, is unstoppable so long as we refuse to let go of it. Even in death, if we leave this world in hope, refusing to let go of it, we leave a light for others. I believe we are eternal, spiritual beings. You can’t kill a spirit. You can’t kill an eternal being. You can only destroy the body that houses it. Hope is the flower pushing its way up through a crack in life’s sidewalk.

We can each be a source of hope to others and since in the Laws of the Spiritual Universe, we are all connected, each time we offer hope to others, we receive it back to ourselves as well.

How can we be a source of hope? Here’s a few examples:

*A man on my street just mowed his sick neighbor’s yard–no charge.

He didn’t ask what political party the neighbor belonged to or whether or not he was vaccinated. He was a source of hope, not judgement.

*A woman just bought groceries and dropped them off at a sick person’s house.

She didn’t say, “Pay me back for my trouble.” She was a source of hope, not racking up an account on a covert contract.

A nurse in a COVID unit just helped a patient charge his Ipad so he could FaceTime his family.

Even though it wasn’t the reason she was in his room. She went above and beyond her pay. Her kindness was a ray of sunshine, a beam of hope.

A man walking his dog past an emergency room door, stopped to cheer up a woman whose husband was inside with a possible pulmonary ambulism. She waited outside, not allowed in the hospital and uninformed of her husband’s condition.

He didn’t care that she was from a different cultural background. He was an example of human kindness, a ray of hope.

A boss just gave an employee extra time off because her father was ill and she wanted to be with him.

She didn’t complain about someone else having to work extra hours. She showed compassion and empathy, a ray of hope.

A lady in the checkout line just told the boy behind the counter that she appreciated his work ethic and thanked him for showing up to do a job that keeps the country running.

She didn’t complain about having to wait a little longer in line than she usually likes to wait. She offered encouragement, another ray of hope.

A lady in North Carolina just said a prayer for a young man from her hometown who is being flown to Afghanistan.

It didn’t matter that he isn’t her own son. She showed compassion–hope.

A church group of volunteers just set up a free food day in their parking lot to help feed their community.

They didn’t ask for proof of citizenship, vaccination or income. They just fed people and offered them hope.

A young Black girl just celebrated her 13th birthday with her White mother and grandmother, Black grandmother and boyfriend and White cousins who are like brothers to her.

Nobody even mentioned skin tones. They just laughed and loved and played together because they’re family and they all gave her words of a hopeful future, many birthdays to come.

A teacher just spend half the summer setting up her classroom for the students that are coming back. She prayed over every chair and the child that would sit in each seat. She planned her bulletin boards and hung posters and curtains and prepared record books and on and on and on…even ordered hermit crabs and fish, because she loves her kids and wants them to have the best experience possible at school.

She was only given $200 in funding to prepare her classroom. She spent $500.00 and school hasn’t even started. So, most of it came from her own purse. She can only get tax credit on $200 out of pocket expense. She will spend a lot more before the year is out. But she does it in hope that her kids will learn and know that they are loved. For some kids, a teacher is the only rare of love and hope they see.

The good is all around us. The light is shining. Perhaps today you can think of someone who has given you hope or some sign of hope that came to you when all seemed to be sinking around you. And maybe, you are also a ray of hope to someone else. We need each other. The darkness would have us divided over issues and policies, but hope reminds us that we are all great spiritual beings and this life on earth is better if we see each other that way. Not one of us can actually see what’s inside another person’s heart and not one of us knows what miracles a single act of kindness can set in motion because that act has restored hope or perhaps awakened it for the first time in someone’s life.

……………………

Lesson from a Chandelier

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Think of this.

If I clean my chandelier because my aunt is coming and I’m afraid she’ll criticize my housekeeping, or say something like, “I don’t know why I even gave you that chandelier. You never clean it. You don’t appreciate the things I give you,” then why am I cleaning it?

Yes.

Fear of guilt.

Fear of criticism.

Either way, it’s still fear.

If I’m doing it out of fear of being criticized and/or guilted, I become prone to being critical of her criticisms and guilting. I become hyper aware of the criticisms and therefore the thing I fear becomes reality.

If I clean the chandelier because my friends are coming over, and I am seeking their adoration and admiration, then why I am doing it?

Could it be out of fear of not being special?

Maybe it’s of not having some sort of prestige and power in my circle.

Hence, in a sense I’m doing it out of pride. But what is pride? I mean what is it, really?

I think maybe pride is ultimately the fear of looking bad or not being “special” enough. Pride is the need to feel superior to others in some way. In today’s culture, we could call it a streak of narcissism. Narcissism, either overt or covert, is basically–fear of being unimportant, of not being “enough.”

If I clean it because I’m worried that there are germs living on the chandelier and I might get sick, then I am also doing it out of a fear of dying.

But what if I clean it because it makes me happy to see light shining through clear, clean glass?

What if I truly appreciate the clear crystal and shimmer?

What if I clean the chandelier just because I personally love a clean chandelier, kind of how I love to hang prisms in the windows and see rainbows all over the floor?

Then I am no longer cleaning it out of fear.

Now, I’m cleaning it out of appreciation.

And somehow, I feel joy in the cleaning. It’s the same amount of work, but it doesn’t “feel” like work. It feels peaceful, because I’m thinking about how beautiful it will look when I’m done. I’m thinking of how much pleasure I will feel when I look at it. It is no longer a menial task but a labor of love and an act of creating. I’m envisioning the pure light shining through the clear glass and I get happy thinking about it.

If I clean it because I think I have to do it, because I’m afraid of being criticized or guilted or not being special or of germs, then there is no joy for me in the act of cleaning it and the act feels like a burden.

It feels like work.

Obviously, this post isn’t really about cleaning chandeliers. It’s about motivations.

Sometimes, it’s in examining why we do the little things, like cleaning a chandelier, that we discover our reasons for doing bigger things and in making these discoveries, the little things in our lives become the big things. I will henceforth find myself asking, “Why are you really doing this?”

LIAR

words and music by Zach Williams

“For God (the Great Spirit, the Almighty Source, the Ultimate Power, the I Am, the unconditional, unmerited, unearnable acceptance known as LOVE) has not given you a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:17

When he told you you’re not good enough
When he told you you’re not right
When he told you you’re not strong enough
To put up a good fight
When he told you you’re not worthy
When he told you you’re not loved
When he told you you’re not beautiful
You’ll never be enough

Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear, he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear, he is a liar

When he told you were troubled
You’ll forever be alone
When he told you you should run away
You’ll never find a home
When he told you you were dirty
And you should be ashamed
When he told you you could be the one
That grace could never changeOh, fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath

Stop you in your steps
Fear, he is a liar
He will rob your rest

Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear, he is a liar

Let your fire fall and cast out all my fears
Let your fire fall, your love is all I feel
Let your fire fall and cast out all my fears
Let your fire fall, your love is all I feel

Let your fire fall and cast out all my fears
Let your fire fall, your love is all I feel
Oh, let your fire fall and cast out all my fears
Let your fire fall, your love is all I feelOh, fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear, he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear, he is a liar’Cause fear, he is a
liar


Fear not for I am with you says the Lord. Do not be discouraged. I am your God. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you (lift you up) with my righteous (almighty knowledge of what is good and best) right hand (my limitless power and ability)” Isaiah 41:10

No matter what you face, remember that you are not alone. Right now, many people are hurting and many people are afraid but there is a LOVE in this universe that supersedes everything and that LOVE is a living entity that gives life to all things and connects us. That LOVE is an ALMIGHTY SPIRIT and that spirit resides in all who reach out and believe. That is the same SPIRIT that Jesus talked about, that same SPIRIT can restore us, heal us and remind us that we, too, are SPIRIT. The real me is not the body I live in. My body is just a vehicle with which to travel in the mortal realm. My gender, my culture, my ethnicity, my epidermal melanin concentration, my height, weight, age nor any other facet of my flesh and blood existence on this earth, is the real me. The spirit of me is the real me and I pray that I see past the flesh of others and see them as an extension of the Great Spirit. The real me is an eternal great spiritual being and the laws of the Spiritual Universe override the laws of the physical universe. What can separate us from the LOVE of God, that same LOVE that resides in Jesus Christ? The same LOVE (Spirit) that performed miracles? Nothing. Right now, if you are hurting, if your loved one is sick, if you are facing financial difficulties, if you are hungry, if you are homeless, if you are facing a disease yourself, if you are being bullied, if you are being threatened, if you feel you have to perform to be lovable or that your beauty makes you worthy, if you are feeling worthless or guilty over something you did or didn’t do, accept my “spiritual” hug and know this…you are loved. You are accepted. You are valuable beyond all words to describe and you are a beautiful spiritual being. Don’t let the lies of this world darken you to the truth of who you are, of what you are. Believe that you are an extension of Almighty Love, because you are. The Great Spirit of Love holds nothing against you…nothing. We are enough because of who we are. We just have to know who we are so we can believe it to be true.

Love, Love, Love…that’s all there is. Nothing else is real.

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In my story, Looking for Pork Chop McQuade, Cupcake has spent her whole life taking care of others, putting her needs last, pushing her dreams to the side, making herself “dimmer” so that those around her can feel “brighter.” How many of us do that in real life? I’d wager, many of us. In my newest work in progress, Anna spent her life believing she was insignificant until a chance encounter with someone from a dimension where the only law is love, turns her world upside down. What if we realized that there is one great law in the universe that supersedes all others, and that law is the law of love?

I’ve noticed a lot of fear around me lately, fear of COVID, fear of the government, fear of the vaccine, fear of control, fear of hunger, fear of losing jobs, fear of…well, just fear of fear. But what exactly is fear?

Perhaps fear is what we experience when we take our eyes off what we want for our lives, even if it’s momentary and put them on what we don’t want. We don’t have to stay there. We can move past it. Perhaps the ultimate fear is the fear of death but what if we realize that the only way out of this life is dying and that sooner or later, we’re all going to do that anyway. It’s the only way out of this realm unless a miracle transformation happens and whisks us all out of here. So, is that the fear? death? Seems like the Apostle Paul once said, “Oh grave where is your victory? Oh, death where is your sting?” Fear is the only sting it has and fear keeps us in bondage, keeps us from being the people we were created to be.  I’ve heard it said, that we aren’t humans having a spiritual experience from time to time. We are SPIRITS having a human experience for a short span in the expanse of forever. What happens to us in this life is brief. Even if we lived to be 150 years old, our time in this mortal realm is still short. Truthfully, nature abhors a vacuum and fear is what fills the void when love leaves the room. Fear is the absence of love. The moment you let love back in the door, fear is gone. It dissipates like water vapor in a desert.

I know I talk about fear and love a great deal, but I am convinced with everything inside me that there is basically nothing else in life as important as understanding who we are, what we are and where we came from and to grasp those basic spiritual concepts of what it means to be alive, we must realize that the ONLY things that matter are fear and love. Ultimately, LOVE is the only thing that matters. The only one. Also, please realize that when I speak of love, I speak of something far, far greater than “romance.” Romance was invented to sell novels, candy, and Valentine’s Day cards. It’s not even necessary to procreate. I suppose it’s just fun but then it leads to this feeling of possession which stems from fear of losing someone which is stems from a lack of love. Jealousy is NOT a sign of love. Jealousy is a sign of the erroneous belief that you have power and control over another human being and that you somehow think you possess them. Love never possesses. It always liberates. Fear possesses and creates bondage. The old saying, “If you love something, set it free,” is true.

So, again I say, there are only two motivations for every act on earth: fear and love. Whatever is not done because of love is done because of fear and vice versa. What so many of us don’t get is that we must FIRST LOVE OURSELVES. That means we must accept ourselves as valuable and of great eternal worth. Jesus didn’t say “Love your neighbor but treat yourself like a doormat.” No. He said, “Love your neighbor AS yourself.” In other words, you also MUST LOVE YOURSELF! If we don’t first love ourselves, we have no hope of truly loving others and we will spend our lives doing things out of guilt, out of fear that someone will get angry with us and out of fear of not being accepted. Yep, there’s that fear again.

So, love yourself like your life depends on it because it does. It’s both simple and hard. We think we fear is a thing, but it isn’t. It’s only what exists when there is no love. We create fear by removing love. I’m going to quote the Bible here. The Apostle John tells us that “God IS love. And everyone that is born of God is born of love and he that does not love does not know God.” Notice that he doesn’t say, “God has love.” No! He says, “God IS love.” You can literally substitute the word “is” with an = sign! I make this point to say that we all come from God, so we all come from love. We are born knowing that we are loved. We come from love and when we die, we return to love. It’s while we are here that we forget what we are.

It is important to remember that we are loved and to love ourselves because when you don’t love yourself you believe everyone else is better and that their message is better than yours. How often do we make ourselves small so others can be big? We dim our lights so that others can feel brighter because we’ve bought into the lie that some of us are less important than others. We’re not. We say yes when we mean no because it’s easier to disappoint ourselves than others. We are facets of God, all of us. If we don’t love ourselves, we don’t allow ourselves to express who we are. We are not allowing a facet of God to express itself through us. Our purpose for being here is to love. You don’t have the right not to love ourselves. We must love ourselves. What is love? Love is sincere acceptance and appreciation of who someone really is and that includes yourself.

Everyday, all around us, people are hurting. We are all connected and if you are constantly needy and in search of validation and approval, if you have a big hole in your life that no amount of praise or validation can’t fill, you bring others down. But if you love yourself and are joyful, happy and fulfilled, then others want to be around you. People who are sick can sense your energy, by the way, and the last thing a sick person needs is negativity around them. Negativity is when you have this black hole that just sucks other people’s energy to try to make yourself feel better but it never works. The only way to fill that hole is to realize that you are loved by your creator, that you are a part of this marvelous universe, that you have worth and you can never get

Loving yourself is a form of being selfless to the people around you. Wherever you go, you bring yourself with you. Your presence is what changes your surroundings. If you bring a needy self, that is what you put out into the world. You are doing a service to the world when you love yourself. This is what shining your light means. I leave off today with this thought, “Love yourself as you love your neighbor.” Accept yourself as work of the Almighty, as an extension of pure love. We don’t have love. We are love and unless we live knowing that we are made of love, come from love and are love, we are living a lie. Love is the only truth, and it is this truth that sets us free to be lights in this world. Be the light. Love yourself.

Looking for Pork Chop McQuade

Straddled with a ridiculous name that has caused her a lifetime of grief, Cupcake McQuade has spent her whole life taking care of other people. In fact, she has been so concerned about others that she doesn’t really know who she is, but she knows one thing–she loves Bob “Pork Chop” McQuade, a conspiracy theorist whose life is going nowhere. Despite the fact that Bob is disliked by—everybody. Cupcake has always seen the “good” in him, even condoning his eccentricities and supporting his devotion to a group of conspiracy theorists, but when Bob becomes a missing person, she fears his conspiracies may be true and reluctantly accepts help from guilt-laden Sheriff Daniel Ransom. When the two of them take to the trail to discover Bob’s fate, they discover truths they’re not prepared to accept.

Buy online

A Snippet from my WIP

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“John sought stability,” I said. “He liked to eat, and he liked his life to be predictable and ordinary and he built his entire world around me. I didn’t always appreciate him, you know.”

Azariah said, “Sometimes you wanted more?”

“Yes, sometimes I wanted more. I just felt so trapped. I blamed John, but it wasn’t John. It was just me. I’ve spent my life feeling like there had to be more to life than just living and dying and not really making a dent in the way things are, and just going the way of the grave like all my ancestors had done before me. I have felt out of place every day for as long as I can remember, like I didn’t belong to anyone or any group. Don’t get me wrong. My parents were great, but there was always something missing in my life.

“I got married way too young, like a lot of Kentucky girls did back in the day. I gave my life to someone else before I even knew what life was all about and I ended up often resenting John because I felt trapped. I couldn’t leave him because he had nobody else and I didn’t want to hurt him, but I daydreamed about my freedom.

“He used to go to town and while he was gone, I would think about what if he didn’t come back. I would think about all the things I would do if I didn’t have anybody to always have to answer to. Then one day he went out to buy a gallon of milk and he didn’t come back. He had a heart attack in the grocery store parking lot.”

I choked back my tears. “I will never forget that day. I had been fussing at him that morning about all of his junk in the basement and I didn’t even want to give him a kiss when he left that day, but I did anyway, reluctantly. He said he loved me and I mumbled that I loved him, too, but in my heart I was angry at him and I just wanted him to go away for a little while and to stop always being here, always telling me what I needed to do, and telling me the time and the temperature and what the neighbors were doing and stop complaining about all the little things that didn’t suit him, and I wanted all of his clutter and junk to be gone. Then he died and I…” I was crying now. “I felt like I was a monster.”

Azariah stopped doodling and came over to me. “Anna…”

“I missed him,” I said. “I wanted to be rid of him but when he was really gone, I missed him so much. All the junk I hated is still in the basement. I couldn’t find it in my heart to get rid of it. All of the stupid little things he used to nag me about, I missed and all the big things I planned to do if I ever got the chance, I never got to do anyway.”

Azariah put his arms around me. “Anna,” he said again, “you live in a broken world with twisted rules and people who are blind to what they are or how they’re supposed to be. You are not a monster. You are not horrible. You are as Jane says, human….”

***the manuscript is “out there” floating around to agents and publishers and I hope that SOON someone will say a big fat YES to it:)

Parable of a Butterfly

“Love makes us brave and gives us faith. Fear makes us selfish….”

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Several years ago a little girl caught a small green caterpillar and placed it in a jar. She fed the caterpillar Queen Anne’s Lace leaves daily and watched as the caterpillar grew fatter and fatter, then one day she was surprised to find a chrysalis in the jar. She placed the jar in a safe place and put a damp cotton ball in there. One morning she woke up to find a beautiful yellow swallowtail flitting around in the jar, trying desperately to fly. Her mother told her that she needed to set the creature free so it could use its wings and do what it was created to do, but the little girl exclaimed, “It’s mine. I raised it from a caterpillar. I took care of it and fed it and watered it and kept it safe from my cat, so I want to keep it. It’s mine.”

“If you keep the butterfly in this jar it will die without ever doing the things it was created to do,” her mother said.

“But I love the butterfly,” the little girl protested. “If I take the lid off the jar it will fly away and never come back. Then I will not have a butterfly.”

The young mother knelt beside her daughter and spoke gently. “If you love something you must set it free when it wishes to go. Love doesn’t try to own another living thing. When we keep a thing because we can’t imagine being without it, then we don’t love, we’re just afraid. Love makes us brave and gives us faith. Fear makes us selfish. Do you understand?”

The little girl nodded. “Okay. I will set it free.”

So, they took the jar into the front yard and the child removed the lid. The butterfly first perched on the rim of the jar, then it flew into the maple tree and fluttered about from branch to branch, leaf to leaf. All at once it flew free of the tree, across the yard, and over the field beyond, going higher and higher, a flash of yellow in the sun. The little girl laughed. “Look at it go, Mommy! I am glad I set it free.”

Years later, a young woman loaded her belongings into her gray car and pulled out of her mom’s driveway. The now middle-aged mother watched her disappear over the horizon, a lonely tug in her heart, tears in her eyes. Her daughter was off to life in the world, to an apartment and a job and a man and a…a whole suitcase full of dreams. As her mother stared at the country road leading away from home she saw a yellow swallowtail light on the mailbox and folding and unfolding its wings and she remembered.

Love liberates. Fear imprisons.

The Life of a BEAST

Photo by Mariu00e1n u0160icko on Pexels.com

Before I go into my spill, let me tell you a true story.

My dad used to tell me that if an animal wasn’t trying to eat me and I didn’t need to eat it, then leave it alone. That’s not to say that he never killed a wasp. He and my little brother were highly allergic to bee stings so when a nest of hornets decided to nest on our front porch, he did what he had to do to ensure that Mark didn’t get stung.

I don’t ever remember my dad killing a snake, either, and the things he did kill, we ate. Of course, our dog, Rusty (half pug, half chihuahua) had no qualms about snake killing. He once grabbed a copperhead just seconds before my brother would have stepped on it.

I do remember my daddy killing a pack of wild dogs, because one of them trapped my brother, Johnny, in the barn. Wild dog packs work in unison. One lures or traps the prey then the others move in for the kill.

If I remember correctly, Johnny had gone into the barn to feed his calf. At that time, our neighbor about a mile down the road had been having trouble with a pack of about thirteen dogs that were taking down calves and picking them clean, leaving only bones in the field. The wild dogs had become a real threat and Daddy had been telling us to stay close to the house. (Back in those days, we kids would wander a mile or more from the house, just playing in the woods and I was bad about wandering off to explore.) Johnny picked up a stick and was yelling, then my dad ran into the barn and started hollering at the dog, it ran out. I am not sure where Rusty was at, maybe off galivanting with me.

Later, Daddy made a decision that went against his nature. He and my uncle went pack hunting down on the creek. I can still recall standing on the front porch, cringing and feeling mixed emotions as I would heard gunfire and then a whimper several times. The dogs had a right to live, too, but I was relieved that my brother was alive and I knew my dad was doing what he had to do in order to protect us. This wasn’t an otherwise good dog in the henhouse like Old Yeller. This was a feral, hungry pack of predators, working in unison to bring down cattle and kids. Maybe they had once been somebody’s pets but their humans forsook them. I remember Daddy saying it wasn’t the dogs’ fault that they were hungry and wild, it was the sorry humans who dumped them.

Back then, people used to drive unwanted animals out in the “middle of nowhere” and abandon them. The dogs would find each other, form packs and attack anything that looked like a meal. We happened to live in the “middle of nowhere” and all of those strays made their way to our home at one time or another, either in the form of a friendly dog, looking for a human family or a wild pack, hoping for a meal. I used to be terrified that the pack would eat me. Even to this day, when I read a story about dogs attacking someone, it takes me months to move past it and I grieve for the families of such horrors. The story of little thirteen-year-old Cory Godsy up in Knott County still haunts me.

Then there were the CATS. In our world there was no such thing as a useless cat. They not only kept us rat-free but they also provided hours of companionship and fun. Some of my best childhood memories involve cats, but I won’t go into them right now.

………….and now………..my spill.

Proverbs 12:10 says, A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are only cruelty.” Now, let me say that in my own words, “A person who seeks to be in harmony with God’s way respects the life of his or her animal and takes responsibility for it but a person who is out of harmony with the higher way of being does horrible things to animals and thinks of themselves as kind. They are spiritually ignorant and don’t have a clue.”

The following excerpt is from a post I did back in 2016 but it still holds true today…………………

“One after one, people are telling me of incidents where their family pets have been shot, poisoned or maimed and nothing was done, where officials brushed complaints aside and did nothing to investigate them, where people are literally afraid to come forward for fear of retaliation against their families...

As I comb through state laws, my mouth just drops open at the unfair, lax laws and nonchalant attitudes some people hold in regards to cases involving children and/or animals...

Let me highlight just two incidents. Someone recently told me that a little dog the children of Sparksville Kentucky’s Antioch Church liked to play with had been shot to death. Who does that? Who kills a friendly dog that an entire congregation of children love? I’m not even sorry to say that I think this is a type of cruelty, not only to the dog, but to those children!.

Sunday, a friend told me that her great-granddaughter… along with nine other children, was walking down the road with their dog in Columbia, Ky. The dog always walked with the children. A man came running out, screaming and cursing at the children. He pulled out a gun and fired eight shots into the dog. Eight red hulls fell to the ground. The children were about fifteen feet from him. He kept firing, even as my friend’s great granddaughter broke into a run toward the dog to try and save it. This man fired a weapon while a child was running toward it, risking her own life to save the dog she loved.  The child, terrified and wailing, fell to the ground and cradled her dead dog in her arms. The man who shot it? He had no compassion, either for the child or the dog, nor the other nine children who were terrified for their lives. The girl’s mother took photographs of the dog and of the evidence, but the police, upon arriving on the scene, refused to do anything because when the dog fell, his head landed on the man’s property. The girl’s parents said they thought it was wanton endangerment of a minor but the police went on to say that because they were only children that their testimony wouldn’t amount to anything in court, that it would simply be the children’s word against the shooters. The officer didn’t have to go home with the little girl that night and hold her when her nightmares started. The shooter didn’t have to go to the hospital with her when she became so hysterical that she needed medical help. Furthermore, when the girl’s father stated that it was against the law to fire a gun in a residential area, the officers told him that it was a “misdemeanor at best.” However, I’m left wondering. How is this NOT child abuse? Would you want your child to witness that? To go through that horrific experience? Besides, officials told the mother that Kentucky laws were on the shooter’s side. The dog had no rights. And apparently, the families of those children have no rights, either. They were brushed off and now, they are afraid to come forward with names for fear of retaliation from a gun-wielding neighborhood bully with anger management problems.….update: the shooter discovered he had cancer not long after this incident and passed away from it. Maybe he was sick at the time of the incident and didn’t know it or maybe, what he sent out into the universe came back to him. Who can say?

…according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Kentucky ranks 50th in the nation in regards to animal protection. And, according to the Animal Welfare Alliance, we rank 56th! Even territories have better laws regarding the treatment of animals than we do! Kentucky is a state known for famous horses and award-winning cattle. Why aren’t there better, more humane  laws in place to protect other animals, like dogs and cats?

I leave  you with this quote from the Kentucky Law Journal.

Several studies demonstrate enhanced animal protection laws could significantly impact society by decreasing human violence. As one scholar states, “[t]he [l]ink between violence to human and animal victims is undeniable.”[39] Cruelty to animals has been associated directly or indirectly with violent crime, including sexual homicide, homicide, and rape..[40]  Large numbers of violent criminals begin as animal abusers.[41] One study showed that 75% of prison inmates charged with violent crimes had an early record of animal cruelty.[42] Additionally, adults who abuse animals commonly abuse their spouses and their children, as well as elderly people for whom they are caring.[43] The FBI now officially recognizes a link between animal abuse and violent crime and has begun collecting data on animal abuse.[44] John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association states, that “[i]f somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance they also are hurting a human.”[45] Thompson went on to say that “[i]f we see patterns of animal abuse, the odds are that something else is going on.”[46] Putting an end to animal cruelty has the potential to drastically reduce the percentage of violent crime.Anthropologist Margaret Mead once noted, “[o]ne of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it.”

For more information, visit the Kentucky Law Journal at:

https://www.kentuckylawjournal.org/online-originals/index.php/2018/05/08/kentucky-legal-animal-abuse-or-weak-protection-laws

A note on my personal beliefs:

*I believe there are only three motivations for every act of humanity: fear, love, and stupidity which I define as the willingness to remain ignorant in order to avoid personal growth and/or responsibility. Deliberate ignorance destroys lives. 

When people fear being powerless they become greedy and cruel in order to feel that they have power, but love (gratitude, appreciation) causes faith (positive feelings and thankfulness for a thing coming to pass as if though an expectation has already been met, even before we see it with our natural eyes) to rise up within us and  when we live in love, fear has no home in us. It can’t stay. Love chases it away. Animal abuse, actually any kind of bullying, narcissism, greed, or abuse is a result of fear of being powerless or not enough. When you realize that you are enough, you no longer have to fear not being enough.  Animal neglect, however, is a result of biting off more than you can chew because you’re ignorant of your own limitations.

 

Green River: A National Treasure

Kentucky is home to more fresh running water than any state other than Alaska. (So let me take a moment to say: when you visit our lakes and streams, PICK UP YOUR TRASH!)One of those rivers was made famous by John Prine in his song, Paradise, in 1971, when the lyrics said, “Daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County down by the Green River where Paradise lay….” But Green River is so much more than just words in a great song.

Green River is one of the most biologically diverse rivers in the world! It is 384 miles long and flows through a KARST landscape, the limestone of which gives it a green hue, and it has caves that open into the river bottom. Entire teams of horses, wagons and drivers have vanished in the “bottomless areas” of Green River. One such place that this occurred was Hidden River Cave in Horse Cave, Kentucky, where my brother, Mark aka Modo, was born! https://hiddenrivercave.com/

Green River is home to more than 150 fish species, more than 70 mussel species, and 43 endemic species (species existing nowhere else in the world; rare and exotic snails, mussels and fish). This includes nine endangered mussel species and endangered freshwater shrimp (the Kentucky cave shrimp). It is a 9,230 square-mile watershed. There are some pretty strange fish in that river, like the gar. An assortment of birds, such as the Little Blue Heron and the Bald Eagle frequent the river to “fish.” Green River gives life to more species of plants and animals than any other Ohio River tributary.

The portion of the Green River that occurs within Mammoth Cave National Park is designated as a Wild River. Green River is one of the best locations in Kentucky to view bald eagles (one man in Campbellsville photographed 14 at once) and contains the only known location in Kentucky for a rare plant species in the pea family.

Russell Creek, in Adair County, Kentucky, is a major contributor to Green River and Native American tools and artifacts have been found along the river.

Muhlenberg County’s, (once the largest coal-producing county in the nation) coal industry depends greatly on access to the river, as does the aluminum industry in Henderson County. The river rises from Kings Mountain, Kentucky, and winds along, fed by multiple streams until it reaches the dam at Green River Lake near Campbellsville. It then continues west and is fed by Little Barren River before entering the Mammoth Cave National Park where it is fed again by the Nolin River. Then continuing westward it is joined by the Barren River. It then takes a more northwesterly turn as it proceeds through western Kentucky. *original photographs taken by Darlene Campbell where Adair County’s Snake Creek empties into Green River.