Trouble Breathing

Carol and I enjoyed the drive from Arkansas through Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. After visiting friends and family, we enjoyed the trip through Colorado and Wyoming. We’ve done it many times and we never tire of looking at God’s handiwork in nature. But things began to change in Wyoming.

We received some rain east of Cheyenne as we drove toward Rawlins, but it wasn’t rain that was discoloring the sky. After the rain let up, the sky began turning hazy. Going north to spend the night in Lander, WY, we were wondering what was going on. The haze was too light to be dust in the air, and the wind wasn’t blowing very hard, anyway. But going north from Lander, we began to figure it out.

Smoke in the atmosphere! Forest fires are out of control!

Prior to leaving on this trip, Carol and I saw reports of the fires on the television news reports, so we were aware of what was happening. But we didn’t know the extent of the fires, and we didn’t know how far the smoke had spread.

By the time we reached Coulter Bay north of Jackson, Wyoming, we could smell the burning wood although the forest fires were hundreds of miles away; and the Grand Teton Mountains were difficult to see.

The folks from the medical fields were telling people with health issues to stay indoors, and to wear proper masks or respirators if they had to go outside. However, many folks had only simple dust-masks over their nose and mouth. I’m not sure how effective they were others in blocking the smoke from the lungs, but they did not help me.

We travelled up into Yellowstone National Park and were happy to see that the atmosphere over the Fishing Bridge Campground where we were staying was relatively clear. But smoke had blown in around Old Faithful Geyser Basin.

A week later, we were heading up to Eureka, Montana, and the farther north we went, the worse the smoke was. When we reached my cousin’s home, we could not see the mountains which were only three miles away.

I had trouble breathing, sneezing spells hit me quite often, and my allergy pills were not helping me.

I thought of our fire-fighters and the life-threatening conditions they face every day. I pray for them often. I thought about people trapped in burning buildings and how hellish that must be. Many of them die in those infernos. And the thought of people caught in these diabolical forest fires is almost beyond my comprehension.

Thinking of people who smoke both tobacco and electronic cigarettes I wondered about their sanity. Why do people purposely inhale smoke and gas that can eventually kill them? It doesn’t make sense.

We had a good rain on Sunday night, and the wind had shifted. Both those events cleared the air over Eureka, and we rejoiced Monday as we breathed clearly and deeply. The air almost tasted wonderful!

Then I thought of the contrast between the eastern states and the western states. The east was being devastated with rain, and the west devastated with fire. Whether enshrouded in smoke and fire or caught in a flood, it can be difficult to breath and death can be quick.

And that turned me to thinking about people who are caught in the warped world of sin and who cannot seem to break free of it. They might want to live a better life, but they can’t see past the “clouds of smoke” or the “swirling waters” of their ungodly lifestyle. But unless they change their way of thinking and living, they will eventually die in the tangled mess they have created. Read Romans 12:2.

People may be involved in alcohol, tobacco, gambling, drugs, sex, identity confusion, theft, or any other of the hundreds of lifestyles that causes the person, with every breath they take, to sink deeper into the enshrouding smoke or swirling waters of that devastating activity. That can cause them to lose their joy of living both here on earth and for eternity.

I would like to shout to them, “If you could understand the direction you’re going, if you would turn away from the warped lifestyle, if you would stop diving head-long into your black hole of oblivion and learn to trust in Jesus, you could hold your head higher, breathe easier, and live freely! If you turn to Him, Jesus can give you wisdom to live – really live!

If you do, your life both on earth and for eternity will be a lot better.

Read John 3:16, Luke 19:10, 1 John 1:9.

And Proverbs 3:5-8 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and mind; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he (God) will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear – respect and honor – the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.

You’ll be able to “breathe easier” both now, and forever.

Frustration with the Unknown

I would like to talk coherently about the flu, but with so much conflicting information floating across the world, it’s difficult to know what to say. So, I’ll start by saying that this flu is a real disease.

I don’t know where you lived, but I grew up in Southern California. Flus made the rounds every year, and I probably got the flu every other year. Although I always recovered, every year thousands of people died from the flu.

The common logic for us was: “If you’re sick, stay home!” There was no mandate to push on us. If we had a cold, the measles, the flu, or any other contagious ailment, we stayed home. It’s silly, if not stupid, to go out and share diseases.

Am I afraid of the covid flu? No. I might have had two strains of it while on travel. Guess what? I stayed in the trailer until I got well. I might have gotten a third strain, and I stayed home. I understand the covid is a real sickness. But I did what I did as a kid, and in each event, I got well in record time. Also, after every trip, Carol and I self-quarantine.

Early on in the pandemic, N95 face masks were touted as being a major factor in controlling covid-19. But what do we get at the stores? These flimsy little corrugated paper things we hang in front of our face. Some folks tell us the masks mainly protect the wearer. Others say they primarily protect others. Yet others say they don’t protect anyone at all. And ….

Oh, let’s get off the mask thing. Nothing is for sure about masks, anyway.

Early on, we were told that if 75% of our population gets the shot, we can control the covid. Woops … make that a double shot. Oh, my goodness, perhaps a third round might be necessary. Now we’re talking about annual boosters. But in all instances, the injections are touted as the cure for the disease.

Oh-oh, millions of people are getting the shots and wearing masks, but the pandemic is getting out of hand again.

Now we’re being told that an apparently healthy person with no covid symptoms can make a person who is “fully-vaccinated” sick. How does that work? Aren’t the first, second, and possible third shots supposed to protect people?

For many years, it was common knowledge that when a person got sick and recovered, he or she was naturally immunized against the disease. It’s been verified around the world. Verified in the home in which I grew up, and I have nine siblings.

But now we’re told that the immunity generated from a man-made chemical is superior to the natural immunity created by human bodies after fighting off the real sickness. Incredible.

What if we’ve already had and recovered from covid-19? What if our temperature is normal? We’re told it doesn’t matter, get the injection anyway. Again, incredible. Apparently, many of our citizens never studied critical thinking. Logic is no longer part of our culture.

Covid-19 and the variants are real diseases. Multi-thousands of people have died of it. But flus have killed people for thousands of years. So let’s be wise. If we’re sick, stay home and don’t spread the illness. But let’s also tell the whole truth.

In courts, witnesses formerly were asked, “Do you swear (or affirm) to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” Most people answered with, “I do.”

What’s that got to do with the pandemic?

The death numbers related to covid are questionable. I’ve recently seen several reports making statements like: “The provisional death count is ….”

Provisional count? We’re not sure what the cause of death was?

And “Thirty-five more people have died of covid-related diseases.”

Covid-related? What does that mean? Hmmmm …They might not have died of covid?

The main problem here is that the real disease, however it got here, has become a political football. Misinformation, misstatements, misunderstanding, and outright false statements have made the rounds from many people, and we’re frustrated with the unknown.

Publicly we don’t have many answers, yet some good guidance is being rejected.

What can I say about all this?

If you need or want medical assistance, get it. But don’t force your choice of remedies on those who don’t want them. And don’t argue about it.

But keep this in mind: fully vaccinated people are dying of covid and the variants while millions of unvaccinated people are getting sick and recovering.

So, what’s really going on?

Loving the Elderly

DSCN0410BMy 97-year-old mother was in and out of hospitals, and getting ready to meet the Lord face-to-face. The family was getting ready for another big change; and as is often the case, the family wasn’t able to address every detail. We needed assistance. (The picture of mother and me was taken when she was 95.)

Elsa Anderson was one of mother’s care-givers. She and I discussed our purpose in life for a while, and she said that God had given her 54 talents – that she knows of anyway. Caring for people near the end of life is a talent she cherishes the most. Elsa said, “I love being with these dear folks and sharing God’s love with them. But it isn’t always the elderly who get blessed: many times as I reach out to them, I receive the blessing.”

This reflects the attitude and gifting of a friend in New Mexico.

Rev. Thomas Kearns, chaplain at the Las Cruces Good Samaritan Retirement Community in New Mexico, said, “Many times you go to a hospital to minister to someone with the intent of praying for healing, for comfort for the patient and family, and also ready with scripture to share God’s word. But your ministry is, also, to be there – what I call ‘the ministry of presence’. Even if I don’t say a thing, my mere presence often provides emotional healing to the people.” I agree.

Elsa employs that concept. Her mere presence often provides a type of healing for the families. It’s obvious that she loves her patients, and – in this case – loved my mother.

The word “love” is used in many ways. You’ve heard it, I’m sure: I love my cat (dog, horse, turtle, whatever). I love my house. I love apple pie and ice cream. I love my country. What else? Oh yes: I love my wife and I love God. The meaning of love is based on context.

But when we think of loving our elderly relatives, friends, or citizens, we think of not just those who are infirm, disabled, or handicapped. We include those in their upper years who may not be able to fend for themselves in some ways.

The briefest description of loving or caring for the elderly comes from a book bytRIALB Wm. G. Justice titled “Training Guide for Visiting the Sick.” Mr. Justice, referring to all the elderly, whether sick or not, said, “The purpose is to oversee the care of those who are hospitalized, sick, shut in, or are in some way in need of care; and to assure they have their needs met to the best of our ability.”

Rev. Gary Kroah, retired minister living in Siloam Springs, agrees with Mr. Justice. At one point in a discussion, Gary said, “Just because they are elderly and cannot come to church, we cannot ignore them. They are still a vital part of church and of our community. It is our privilege to continue loving them. Jesus loves them, and we are effectively the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus to them.” I add a hearty amen.

But loving the elderly comes with a price, and we had to differentiate between mother’s best interests and our emotional needs. I definitely do not believe in euthanasia, and I won’t discuss my mother’s condition; but I will say this: at 97 years of age and the condition she was in, it would actually be a loving act to allow her to go home to be with Jesus. She will also be with her parents, my father, and one of my sisters … and multi-millions of others in heaven.

With her body trying to shut down, I believe it is neither loving nor merciful to use every modern technological means that’s available to keep her body alive. Rather, it is loving to let her know how much we love her, but that we also release her to “go home” to be with Jesus.

Does it hurt us to do that? Yes, it does; and we knew we would miss her. But is it loving her? Yes, it is; for where she was bedridden, could not communicate, and her body trying to shut down with several terminal maladies, she would be well, healed, strong, and vibrant in heaven.

1 Thessalonians 4:14 says, “For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians who have died” (NLT).

Mom experienced her final graduation on November 11, 2016; but we’ll see mom again when it’s our turn to graduate.

Seeing Things Differently

Dandelions! Disgracing the yard. I want grass to mow, not weeds to grow!

One day when I got home from work back in New Mexico, I found the yard blanketed with yellow flowers that would soon be replaced by round, geodesic white puff balls that easily break apart.

To eradicate the pest from the yard, we need to kill the entire plant. If we don’t kill the taproot, the plant will grow back; so something like Ortho Weed-B-Gone, or Scotts Turf Builder Weed & Feed is needed.

When we were kids in Southern California, we picked dandelions and had a grand time blowing them to pieces and watching them waft away in the breeze. We were cooperating with nature by seeding the countryside, but we didn’t know we were irritating the neighbors by seeding their yards with these vicious weeds.

And now we watch our grandkids do the same thing; but we watch with mixed emotions. It’s great watching the kids having fun, but we also know we are involved in spreading the dandelion scourge.

But wait a minute. What’s so bad about these beautiful yellow-then white geodesic weeds? And are they really weeds? Do they really disgrace the yard? After that day on our half-acre up at 7,834 feet altitude, I gained a different perspective of these beautiful specimens of life.

Some folk believe the dandelion evolved about 30 million years ago in Eurasia. But no one but God, and possibly some angels, existed that far back; so how would they know. God didn’t tell anyone. The angels probably didn’t, either.

For several days, we saw the sea of yellow flowers open in the morning when sunlight hit them, and close in the shade of the evening—much like the Morning Glory, Gazania Daisy, the California Poppy, and others.

Some theorize that these type flowers close up at night to save their nectar from nighttime plant-eating thieves. Others think that these plants close up to protect themselves from nighttime chill. Who knows? Either way, we enjoyed seeing a yard of green turn to a blazing bright yellow every morning.

Dandelion—a French word—literally means “tooth of lion” or “lion’s tooth”. (I don’t know why it was given that name.) Dandelions are officially known as Taraxacum officinale; and maybe—just maybe—we shouldn’t call them weeds. I won’t itemize all the ailments they have allegedly cured because some of it is hearsay and part is doubtful folklore. But this prolific bit of vegetation does provide benefits.

In addition to preventing soil erosion, they are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A, B, C, and D, and iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, and some detoxifiers, are available right in your yard. Yes, they are edible both raw and cooked. It is best to harvest them before they blossom; but be sure to get them before the white geodesic puff-balls make their grand appearance.

Dandelion tea is an inexpensive diuretic. As a diuretic (it also aids in pancreatic operation), the tea can aid diabetics and those with urinary disorders. Containing antioxidants, dandelions could be useful in reducing free radicals in the body, which, in turn, could reduce the risk of cancer. Dandelions, like celery, are beneficial regarding intestinal health.

The greatest benefit comes from eating the dandelion greens raw. If you do cook them, drink the juice to retrieve what you just cooked out.

I suppose I should add a note of caution. Diabetics who are taking blood-sugar modulators might stay away from eating dandelions; it could result in hypoglycemia. Also, many folks might be allergic to the plant. So, do your research related to your own health status.

But this whole concept (eradicating dandelions) reminds me of many who want to stay away from Jesus and His church. They think “church” or the Christian religion will hinder their lifestyle; and they want to eradicate Christ from their life.

They don’t understand that, as the dandelion has healing properties that can benefit their physical health, on a much higher plane Jesus Christ has made available benefits that will aid us both physically and spiritually; both in this human life, and forever.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Our lives began at conception; but we will live forever somewhere.

Where will you spend eternity? Jesus is truly God, and He gave His life to save you from an eternity of desolation. Don’t eradicate Him from your life. Study the Bible. Live for Jesus. Enjoy eternity with Christ. His benefits are—quite literally—out of this world.

Contagious Thinking

The flu is contagious. The measles, mumps, and smallpox are contagious. A large number of diseases are contagious and people are scared. Many are afraid of going shopping, going to the dentist, even afraid of going to the hospital because – well, let’s face it: that’s where folk with contagious diseases go.

Some folk are afraid of having their children vaccinated, and others are afraid of NOT having them vaccinated – both for very good reasons. And we find dispensers of hand-wipes almost everywhere to help stop the spread of the invisible, evil horde.

We go to great lengths to warn people of the latest epidemic. We talk about it on television, radio, and on all the social media. We even warn people about what MIGHT be coming around the bend, even though sometimes it doesn’t happen.

That reminds me of the counselor who told his worried patient, “90% of all the things you worry about never happen.” To which the patient replied, “Good! Now, what can I do to eliminate the other 10%?”

We need to be alert to all kinds of dangers that are lurking out there, and we need to help others because we are our brother’s keeper. But viruses and bugs are not the only disease we catch out in the public. Often the more pervasive problem is our attitudes, and they are easier to catch than the flu.

Attitudes and emotions are contagious.

I remember being in a planning meeting at a science lab, and we had a difficult obstacle to overcome. We were in a deep discussion on how to solve the problem, but the key individual, Matt, was missing due to a scheduling conflict. Each time an idea was presented, one dour experienced member of the team explained why it wouldn’t work. After about forty-five minutes, the entire team was feeling dismal because of the failure syndrome that pervaded the room. The team mindset had been poisoned because it “caught” this man’s negative attitude.

But Matt finally arrived and asked for an update. After he heard each rejected proposal, he laughed and said, “Well, I’m glad I finally got here. You have in your hands the answer to the problem.” He then happily explained how two of the proposals would work. When the dour man spoke up, Matt explained how his rebuttals didn’t apply to this situation.

This man had not been contaminated with the prevailing negative attitude, and that freed his God-given creativity to recognize the value of the ideas that had been presented.

We don’t need to be caught as creatures of our negative culture. Rather, with a positive attitude we should create an atmosphere in which others can be set free to rise to their God-given potential.

A complainer can destroy the company’s vision and torpedo the goal. Negative attitudes can undermine the morale of the team and hide or destroy the available talent and creativity. Negative emotions are destroyers of progress.

But positive attitudes and emotions are just as contagious. We don’t have to be a Pollyanna to cheer up the room, and we don’t have to have an ever-ready smile to make people happy. But we can ask the Lord to help us see past our problems and see things from God’s perspective. We create our immediate environment by what we believe, how we think, and how we act.

We have a choice as to whether we will inflict emotional and spiritual damage, or bring emotional and spiritual healing to others.

What we believe affects how we think. How we think affects how we act. How we act affects what we accomplish. It also affects how others around us think.

I believe God wants us to represent Him as much as we know how. Some years ago, my friend, Terry Langham, and I were operations officers in a scientific laboratory. The scientists and workers there thought the atmosphere was “all business.” But it felt to us somewhat gloomy. After praying about it, but without telling anyone else, we decided to change our culture.

Our phone calls and e-mails started with “Good morning.” In the calls and e-mails, we often asked what we could do for them. We stopped by people’s offices periodically to assure that we were effectively communicating with them.

After several years, the division leader told us, “You’ve changed our atmosphere. The entire division is a kinder and more cheerful place to work. Thank you.”

Our thinking and attitudes are definitely contagious. How are you affecting your community?

Is Anyone Normal?

The study of psychiatric abnormality, the diagnosis of abnormality, and the medicating of those deemed not normal is a big business today. Two major prongs of study are that of autism and ADHD. Controversy overshadows each one because as humorist Patsy Clairmont said, “Normal is only a setting on a dryer.”

Let’s talk about normality and ADHD.

One report says, “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder of childhood. It affects about 3 – 5% of school aged children. ADHD is diagnosed much more often in boys than in girls.” The report says that the symptoms fall into three basic groups: inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

Did anything in that last paragraph catch your attention? Let me rephrase it. Inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are more prevalent in boys than in girls. Surprise? No. Any parent in the past 6,000 years could tell us the same thing without a multimillion-dollar study. Boys are generally more restless, noisier, and have a harder time paying attention. That’s the nature of boys. So why is it called a disorder?

A medical definition of disorder is: “A disturbance or derangement that affects the function of mind or body. Also, to disturb the normal physical or mental health of someone.”

Dear reader, if that is the proper medical definition, then I submit to you that boys do not have the disorder: rather boys are the disorder. (I am joking.)

Historically parents taught children to obey and to respect their elders. When they disobeyed or were overly disorderly, they were disciplined in some manner. And the human race trucked right along for thousands of years without having to drug any hyperactive or inattentive rascal. And hyperactive boys (okay: some girls, too) somehow managed to grow up into decent law-abiding citizens who, in turn, learned how to harness their own children’s energy. But a change was made in the 1950s.

Under the leadership of several medical doctors and psychiatrists – Dr. Benjamin Spock one of them – a new parental paradigm emerged. My over-simplified version is this: Allow the little ones to develop into their own person. Don’t attempt to mold them or their little psyches may be damaged in the process.

Well, the new parental paradigm evolved under the leadership of the evolving American Psychiatric Association, and in 1980 they coined the now popular term: ADHD. That seemed to be a wonderful solution, for parents were finally absolved from the responsibilities of teaching and disciplining their offspring.

Reacting to the fear of being abnormal, they can have their little blossoms drugged into submission. And now over 1,000,000 kids may be inappropriately diagnosed as having ADHD, with over 800,000 of them receiving behavioral medication. The behavioral modification drugging continues until the person learns to control himself. But drugs do not help in the long run. The absence of child-discipline and inappropriate methods of discipline are a major factor in crime today.

I agree with Dr. Dale Archer who said, “I’m not opposed to medication to treat those with severe symptoms, but does 1 out of every 12 kids really have ADHD?” He continues, “The National Institute of Mental Health has found that 26 percent of Americans (1 in 4) have a diagnosable psychiatric illness. The only word for that is ‘ludicrous.’”

I agree. Hyperactivity is not an abnormality, nor is it a disorder. It is simply human. We need to understand human nature; but in the process, teach children to obey and accept their responsibilities of living in society.

Hyperactivity is good and is one of the drivers of societal progress. We must help people understand that it is okay not to be normal. The CEOs of many companies have been diagnosed with ADHD, but that didn’t inhibit them from fulfilling their dreams. As Dr. Archer said, “Being different can make us exceptional.”

I recently took the ADHD test and was classified as “boarder-line ADHD.” But I found that the lowest possible rating (out of five steps) is “No ADHD likely.”

Did you understand that? That means the tests are rigged to make everyone at least suspect—thus, upping the disorder count. But that also means a mild ADHD diagnosis is normal. So, what’s the problem?

Folks, let’s train and discipline our children. Let’s teach them to be orderly and to obey. It presents greater long-term benefits than drugging them.

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