Very, Very Thankful

I (Doug) was very, very fortunate today.

While driving home from work, the ball joint (or maybe tie rod) went out in my truck. It felt like someone suddenly shoved my vehicle to the right (drivers tire suddenly turned sideways. I was going all of 65 MPH at the time, with cars around me. As I was headed into the ditch, it looked like the truck was going to roll.

Two different vehicles stopped to check on me.

I was very touched by their kindness.

The one lady, asked me to come to her car and sit in the passenger seat while we called for a tow truck.

Kindness is alive and well here where we live.

My mind is still mostly numb…

if I would have been in the other lane, and there had been a vehicle on my right….

If it would have been the other tire/ (would have meant going into oncoming traffic)

If I had been on a corner, rather than a straightaway..

If the ditch had been a little steeper, I would have rolled…

Jumped off the page

Reading through the Parent-Teachers guide of the McGuffey Reader  couple of nights ago, the following jumped off the page:

“The phonics controversy does not need to be an either/or argument;  you need not align yourself “for” or “against” phonics.”  

That thought, “it does not need to be an either/or argument; you need not align yourself “for” or “against…” has broad implications for our day.

The discourse in the public square has turned into a bar-room brawl.

Have you ever experienced one first hand? (bar room brawl)

I have.

It was crazy.

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Pick a topic.

Vaccinations.

I’m not 100% for, or against.

Is there a place in the public square for me to say that, or will I be shoved to the side by the thugs from both extremes?

I absolutely believe there is a place for vaccinations.  (Measles, mumps and small pox comes to mind.)

When our kids were little, (early/ mid 1980’s) they were given a series of 12 shots/ 8 diseases.

Here’s a little chart I  pulled off the Internet:

 

Today, your child will be given quadruple that number of shots.

During that same time period,  there has been an exponential increase  of autism in children.  You probably already knew that.

Could there be a connection?

In simple terms. when our eldest was born in 1980,  the chance of  her developing autism was  one in 2000.

My eldest

1 out of  every 2000 children had a chance of developing some form of autism in 1980.

Twenty years later, in the year 2000,  you had a 1 in 150 of developing some form of autism.

1 in 150.

Today, 2021, that number is now 1 in 54.

From 1 out of every 2000, to 1 out of every 54.

The medical profession as a whole says, “It’s a mystery.”

What changed during that time?…humm….

I think you can absolutely make a case for parents who are leery of pumping there precious child full of vaccines.

Instead of deriding all  parents who have questions about vaccines as “anti science,” I believe it is still we the parents, the mom and dad, not some federal government bureaucrat  that has the final say….but for how long?

Someone recently asked… Do I plan to get vaccinated?

No I will not voluntarily chose to get the vaccinations that have been “safely fast tracked.”

That’s my choice. Not imposing that on anyone else, or think less of anyone else who chooses otherwise. These are hard, personal, intimate, potentially life and death choices.  We have to start giving each other the freedom to make these decisions without mockery.

I am not anti medicine.  I love my local Doctors, absolutely love them, my urologist, my local hospital.   My sister is an RN.  She and I talk about all things medical, all the time. I am not anti medicine.  Having said that, the only medicine I am currently on is coffee. Just coffee.  My job is physical, I sleep like a baby, have never, ever had a vaccination for the flue before the flue season.  Made that choice, years before COVID-19 was in the news.  Do you think I’m going to change my mind now, just because the CDC says it’s safe?   What do you think….

 

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For years, there has been a similar debate in the public square about the link between Roundup and various cancers.  Round up and honey bee loss.  Round up and…..

Monsanto (the corporation that owned Roundup) did all it could to discredit any nay-sayers.

My neighbor Paul/ the one who used to plow out our driveway after a snow, died five years ago, in his mid 50’s from a rare blood  cancer.  As a farmer, even with the proper protection, he exposed himself to a butt load of toxic chemicals.  I heard later, the Doctors  suspected, that maybe there was a link to pesticide exposure and his rare cancer.

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Language is powerful.

Thugs have taken over the public square.

I shake my head.

I really, really would love to interact with some of you on a host of topics, without snark or sarcasm, but probably not in an on line comment thread.  I don’t do on line debates in comment threads. There is so much that I don’t know. Maybe via e-mail, or in person….

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This post could just as well be about sexuality…

Stewardship of the earth, of which climate change is one piece,

Mr and Mrs Potato Head,

Election integrity, National sovereignty,  or twenty other topics.

I have decided I can no long sit on the sidelines and stay completely silent.

Honestly I do not know how much longer we who live in the middle will have the freedom to speak our minds.

My take

I’ve been wanting to write something simple  on the topics of woke, revisionist history, tearing down statues,  how our country is being overrun  by a bunch of ______________, (fill in the blank.)

Came across this picture yesterday:

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I did not take physics in high school.  Doesn’t mean I don’t have a working knowledge of gravity.  😉

I sensed for a while now,  another  law of physics (metaphorically) at work in my life, and only this morning was I able to identify it.

Newton’s 3rd law : For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Ever since I first read about the Laura Ingals Wilder debacle  by the library association, I’ve felt it.  An energy  bouncing around in my head trying to find expression.

And as my country continues head long on a  mindless rush to throw itself over the cliff,  I find myself moving in the opposite direction.

I saw a clip of a newsman  go on a rant, supposedly while on the air, about the Laura Ingals Wilder award.  He said what I was thinking, laced with a lot profanities.   As I tried to re- track that clip down, it turned out he’s a comedian from the UK, so it was a spoof.  I was tempted to include it here. Most of you are savoy enough with the computer, if you’re curious, you could find it.

Is there a place for profanity?  I think on rare occasion there is.  I can give you at least 3 examples from the Bible, two where God himself uses a type of profanity to emphasize his anger.  First time I came across it, I thought, what the heck?! Didn’t know that was in there!  so yea, there is a place for anger, and I think several of the things that are making me angry, should.

 

DM

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Profanity as Wikipedia defines it:  Socially offensive language, crude…. It can show a debasement of someone or something, or be considered as an expression of strong feeling towards something

Until the bees came out…

It’s been a couple of years now….

I have a policy, I refuse to argue about current events, religious debates, cultural stuff, etc.

Doesn’t mean I don’t have  opinions, and doesn’t mean I won’t talk about them with you,  it’s just, 95% of the time those interactions are fruitless and drive people apart, rather than result in something positive, ie. like mutual understanding.

On top of that, I simply do not have the time to be conversant on every current “issue.”

Most of the time, the other party is not interested in understanding, they just want to vent.

I’m not doing it. 🙂

Last time it happened, I learned my lesson.

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In the   25  23 years I’d known this woman, there had never been any tension in our relationship/ ever..

Until that one day….

Something on the news had gotten her agitated.  I could sense she wanted to vent.

I listened.

Finally told her, I didn’t want it to degenerate into a conflict. (She already knew she and I would look at things differently.)

But she kept going/  prodding, poking, snipping, mocking.

Felt like someone taking a stick,  banging on my bee hive.   I was just a bee, minding my own business, doing what I do, making honey and tending baby bees…

And then, things went South.

Fast.

The bees came out of the hive.

I saw a side of me, I prefer to keep in check, and I saw a side of her I’d never seen.

It took weeks, to shake off the negativity of that morning, even though we both apologized.  It was like we opened Pandora’s box and all sorts of nasty’s came out.

Taught me a lesson.

All of us have within us a dark side.

Even the kindest, gentlest, sweetest soul you’ll ever meet.

All of us..

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The other memory I have on this issue happened when our girls were 11 and 12.   We were in the middle of the home schooling chapter in our lives.  A new brother-in-law joined the extended family, and it wasn’t long before I  got wind of him grilling, (and subtly mocking) the two older girls. He had his own baggage when it came to faith/ a domineering mother, etc) so I  chalked it up to him being triggered…and then it happened.  It was just he and I, and he pounced  (on me) spoiling for a fight.  Sixty seconds into his rant, I looked at him and said I wasn’t going to debate.  I wasn’t going to go there.  I valued my relationship with him and there was no way, he and I were going to come away from that pissing match in a better place.

Pause.

He smiled.

His countenance changed.

It was like a heavy weight had lifted.

We agreed, that was probably for the best.

That was 25 years ago. We still get along. I can still see that knowing twinkle in his eyes.  We have  an understanding.

Now if he would have been in a different frame of mind, (open) I could have told him about my journey from total opposition to the idea of home schooling, (wife’s idea/ not mine)  to coming to a place where all of my concerns (socialization,   extra curricular activities, how could we teach subjects we ourselves as parents had struggled with, etc)  had been addressed head on.

I was now excited about home schooling as a viable educational model.

None of that came out, because it couldn’t.

He didn’t have ears to hear.

Now 20 years later, I would add home schooling is not for every family, nor even every child in the same family.  But to completely write it off, well you do not know what you are talking about.

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Ruth Stout.

Ever hear of her?

She is my role model when it comes to dealing with differences of opinion.

Her claim to fame is how she gardened.

Amazing story.

Completely bucked the status quo, and the fruit of her gardening proved she was onto something.  Eventually, people tried to put her on a pedestal, but she wouldn’t have it.  Wouldn’t let them.

Refused to tell people what to think, but let the results speak for themselves.

That’s me.  DM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Door Opens #7

36 years ago, come this July, we picked up, lock, stock and barrel, and headed East,   Gilgal Bible Chapel agreed to let us stay in one of their apartments while I returned to school.

I have been reliving that season in our lives the past several posts. This is the 7th installment.

I knew my dad would struggle with our decision, although he and my mom have never meddled in any of our decisions,  (and still don’t).

I wanted to break it to him easy and give him another perspective.

When we got back from our week on the east coast spying out the land, He asked, “Well, what did you decide?”

I’d given it some thought (what to tell  him) so I said, “We’ve decided  to move to Africa as missionaries.”

Dead silence.

I let the words hang in the air for about 15 seconds, then,  “Just kidding.  All the details have come together so we are moving to New Jersey for a year.”

(That was SO out of character for me, as his compliant first born).  🙂

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Shifting gears….

To my regular readers,   Thank you for being so gracious and reading along the last several posts!

I don’t plan  to relieve the whole 5 years we lived on the East Coast with you here.  Just knowing  several of you have been following along has encouraged me to take the time to get this stuff down in print.

I do plan to write one or two more installments  on a few life lessons that were drummed into me while living and working in New Jersey.

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Any of the following interest you?  (If I threw in a few short stories.)  Just trying to get a feel if any of these would be interesting to anyone but me. 🙂

 

Addressing issues rather than ignoring them. (house meetings)

Transparency. (Living life w/o a mask)

People pleasing and boundaries.

Balance or (living with margin) for the long haul.

Mentoring.  (A lot like what goes into good parenting)

 

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Take care and have a good week! DM

 

 

 

 

Living In Community? #6

You’re reliving with me (if you’ve been reading the last five posts) our move to New Jersey in 1985.  Not going to repeat any of that.  I am assuming you’re up to speed.

I love history.

I loved thumbing through a very old McGuffey Reader, where I discovered the name Sara Ann Strawn in the front cover.  She had also written  Hopewell Township District number 8  1838 where she was attending school.  That sent me off to the Genweb ancestry website to see if I could find her.  I did, and much, much more.

Later, while reading a book with the  personal correspondence of Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)  she wrote about  her time living in a Unitarian Universalist community with her family.  What a nightmare that time in her life was.

It’s called original source material,  not revisionist poison pablum where someone from today takes their current worldview prejudices and tells me what to think about something written 100 years ago.

Back when we were doing the home school gig,  we were doing  unit studies on early American history.  I remember reading  about original source documents (from the Pilgrims) being stolen from the Library of Congress.

Several of them.

Who would do such a thing, I thought?  Why????

Sometimes it was as simple as greed. They would sell old manuscripts on the black market.

Other times the purpose were more nefarious. Revisionist history/ erasing/ removing/ censoring…..1984 here we come.

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Shifting gears slightly,  when I started reading portions of the Bible, (filled with dozens of original source documents)  the letter written by Luke, usually referred to as “Acts” stirred something in me.  I  remember being struck by how different   1st century Christianity seemed compared to what is currently called “Christianity.”

They (the early/ 1st century Christians) had a depth of relationship with each other, I rarely (if ever) saw in to days setting, and I wondered why?

Why not?

What is the disconnect?

Going to give you just one example:

Acts chapter 2:  Selling their possessions and goods, they shared with anyone who was in need.  With one accord, they continued to meet daily…to break bread from house to house, sharing their meals with gladness…. “

I remember having a conversation on the construction site with Lester Zimmerman when I was younger, about this disconnect.

“Why don’t Christians today have that depth of relationship/ interaction as those 2000 yrs ago?”

Lester,  a semi retired farmer who attended a small local church said he didn’t know.

Couldn’t really give me a good answer.

So in the back of my mind,  I’d had these questions, wishing I could experience  life/ relationship/ on the order of what I was reading.

Next thing I know, I am in New Jersey, sitting in the dorm room of a place (church?) that has some of the ingredients of the early church….

This place sat on 10 acres of prime real estate.  Several families living on the same property,  plus a men’s dorm, a woman’s dorm, communal kitchens,  etc. etc)

It felt a little surreal.

And you better believe the word “cult” flittered through my mind a time or two.  😉

Absolutely….

After the Fourth of July picnic where Dorothy suggested I could work for her son who had a construction business,  there were still a couple of days left on the calendar before it was time to get on the plane and head home.

Sunday was the turning point in our time there. They had a traditional church service in the morning,  (sit in chairs/ sing/ listen to a message/ etc.) then broke for lunch (a pot luck), then back to a second more informal gathering that was called “an open meeting”.

I had no idea what to expect, fortunately, a young lady, Nancy Hunter,  took us under her wing, sat by us and explained the format.

Not going to unpack that part of our time right now, not sure how interested you are in some of these details…Other than to say, there came a point in that meeting where I felt it was now or never,

I remember standing up and  saying something to the effect…“It says, ask and you shall receive, knock and the door will be opened..I’m knocking…we were wondering if you (the church assembled in that room) would consider renting a room to us for a year, in order that I could attend classes @ CCEF?”

Dead silence….

Then one of the pastors responded:  ‘We’ve been discussing this,  I’ll talk to you more  after the meeting.”

to be continued…

Now What? #5

Picking up where we left off…

We pull into the parking lot of CCEF:

It had been an emotionally exhausting day.

We’d left home early that morning.  Flew into Philadelphia, Been accosted by some crazy guy in the terminal.   Drove through the heart of the city (pre-gps/smart phone),  and now, finally sat in the parking lot of the school….

As I recall,  it was almost closing time. We talked to the receptionist and said Jeff ? knew we might be stopping.  He had been the supervising teacher I’d interacted with through the correspondence classes.  As we talk with Jeff, when he learned we were planning to find a hotel room, he invites us to follow him home, we were welcome spend the night @ his place.

We accepted.

Next morning we were back @ CCEF talking with Earl Cook.   His area of expertise was children’s counseling.   I can still remember sitting in his office.  Earl  had a deep voice,  and infectious sense of humor.

Earl leaned back in his chair, hands behind his head and asked me to tell him our story.

“What had brought us there?”

I recounted everything I’ve told you over the past few posts, including writing the letters I’d sent ahead to the dozen or so pastors who lived in the area, putting out feelers for a job, etc.   None of those inquiries had generated any leads, which brought us up to the present.

Sitting in his office, trying to figure out what to do next.

Earl looked at us and said,“I have a thought.”  There’s a church located in Northern New Jersey, about 2 and 1/2 hours north of here that regularly sends several of their staff for classes.  It isn’t  your typical church.”  (I wasn’t quite sure what he meant by that, but would find out soon enough).

He continued, “You and your wife strike me as a couple of free spirit types. You’d fit right in with them.  If you want, I would be glad to make a couple of phone calls. If they say OK, you could  run up for the day, and spend the night… What do we have to loose?  You have a week..”  😉

Few minutes later, we were on the road again.  Heading north to West Milford New Jersey.

When we pulled onto the property of Gilgal Bible Chapel,  there were kids running everywhere.  Here’s a picture of me just after we pulled into the church parking lot:

Notice the map 🙂

We were given a tour of the grounds….

Yes, it was a local church.  In addition, they  had apartments for missionaries on furlough.   Were currently housing  a couple of  families from Viet Nam.  They also  ran a large day camp for kids in the summer.

 

View of the gymnasium when you first pull onto the property.

There was a  mechanics shop, man made lake…10 acres of “Water shed” property. (Water from this area, would eventually winds up in large reservoirs for Newark I was told.

Here’s a picture of the main house:

The smell of pine trees, was in the air.  We were to find out later, black bear also lived in the area,  not exactly how I envisioned New Jersey when I was sitting back in Iowa.

It was beautiful!

We had been given permission to spend the night in one of the guest rooms, and as it turned out, the next day was the 4th of July. Someone (I can’t remember who any more)  suggested if we wanted, we were welcome to come to a church picnic.

The 4th of July, 1985 we went to  the home of Gay and Pat Brandeal.  Pat was a general contractor, and Gay a teacher.  There were  25 to 30 people at the picnic.

I remember visiting with Dorothy, Dorothy Gunther…  As she and I sat in our  lawn chairs, she asked about us.  I told her we were on a mini vacation, thinking about moving East to attend CCEF, if the details could be worked out.

She looked at me, “Well, my son Mark has a construction business.  If you do decide to move, you could work for him.  I know he would hire you…”

That night after the  picnic, wife and I were sitting in the guest room.  I  picked up a bible and reread the account of what happened after the nation of Israel had wandered around in the Wilderness for 40 years. (Remember in my last post, 10 of the 12 spies had said, they didn’t think they should go  into the land that the God of Abraham had said he wanted to take them into.  They were afraid.

They spent the next 40 years wandering in circles until all the adults of that generation had died off.

All except for the two who had been willing to go in…Joshua and Caleb

So now, 40 years later, the nation of Israel crosses the Jordan River and enters “the Promised Land.”

(You can read it yourself in the book of Joshua chapter 4).

Joshua chapter 4 verse19 “On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21

As I read the account, the name Gilgal jumped off the page.

At this point, I remember feeling overwhelmed with emotion.  The name Gilgal had never registered  before that day.

There I was sitting  in the guest room of a church called Gilgal Bible Chapel , with a possible job offer…

to be continued…

 

Spying Out The Land #4

Picking up where I left off on my earlier post  of January 6th 2021…

So there I was,  married with two toddlers,  entertaining thoughts of walking away from the family construction business and go back to school part time.  The program I was looking at was 1000 miles from home, in a suburb of Philadelphia.

There were three things that needed to come together if this would become a reality…

Money, housing, and a part time job

We had absolutely nothing in savings.

Secondly, housing.  While I didn’t want to live in some rough part of Philadelphia , that was a real possibility.

Thirdly,  I would need to find a job with  flexibility, preferably construction related.

About this time in the decision making process, an account from the Bible took on a whole new meaning. It is the account of the 12 spies sent out by the newly created nation of Israel, to spy out their possible future home land.  (Book of Numbers chapter 13, and part of chapter 14.)

Like I mentioned a couple of posts ago, if you’re tagging along and are curious about our move to New Jersey, you’ll have to permit me to tell you what was really happening in our lives, including references to my faith.  If talking about my faith is a turn off, you’ll probably want to exit this series right now and check back  later.

12 representatives (spies) (one for each tribe),  were sent to check out a new land that the God of Abraham, was asking them to move to, after just leaving the slavery of Egypt. (Ever hear of the story of Moses?)

Twelve men are sent to “spy out the land.”

The twelve, discovered it was  a land overflowing with bounty.

Just one small catch.

The people living there were a tough lot, with no intention of moving (obviously)  so 10 of the 12 spies come back and say, “Nope.”

“Nada.”

“Not going there,”

“The place is too dangerous!”

 “What will happen to our wives and children????

Only 2 of the spies, (Joshua and Caleb) have a different perspective.

Yep, it is an intimidating place, but if God is in this move, then we trust that he will work out the details.”

“Let’s do it!”

You’ll have to read it for yourself, if you want to know what happens next.   It’s not good.

So there I was thinking, if, (and it was still a big “if”) God was in fact asking me to consider moving East, then I didn’t want to let fear be the deciding factor.

I wanted to be neither irresponsible nor make our decision based solely out of fear.

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Side note….

Most of us have probably never given much thought to the training of therapists and counselors.  I know I’d never, until this point.

Dirty little secret. -There are literally dozens of schools of thought when it comes to the “how to” of counseling.  Depending on your worldview of how people look at life, that will determine how you counsel.

In simple terms, if you believe that your brain is the end product of a brain evolved from a lizard, that will affect how you counsel an addict.  If on the other hand, you believe there is a spiritual component to change, that too will affect how you approach addictions, (or any other issue.)

I already knew,  I wanted training that incorporated the Bible and had a spiritual component to it, which was why I was looking @ CCEF.    

(Remember that spiritual stirring I alluded to earlier)

The school was located in a northern suburb of Philadelphia, attached to campus of Westminster Theological Seminary.

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My thought was, let’s take a week, fly out to Philadelphia, spy out the land, figuratively speaking and see if the details come together so we could move there for a year.

In preparation for our visit to CCEF and the Philadelphia area,   I asked the school, for the names of local pastors who were attending  classes.  As I recall, I sent out about a dozen letters, explaining we were coming to the area the first week of July.  Did they know anyone in their congregations who might be interested in hiring me part time, or have any rental property?     I felt  if God was really in this whole idea  then it was reasonable to believe He could bring together the details we would need for it to happen.

On July 2nd 1985, my wife and I flew into the  Philadelphia International Airport .

We picked up our rental car  and took off in the direction of CCEF

Our route took us down town, on Broad Street where I ran into the biggest round-about, I had ever encountered in my life.  It is actually square. 😉    I know we made at least one complete circle before I spotted the correct exit.

A view of North Broad Street in Philadelphia.

photo compliments of Google

to be continued….