Historical Trivia

I thought I’d follow up last week’s blog of New Years myths with a few tidbits of historical trivia.

Many things are going on in the world today and we tend to get tense, worried, and cynical.  But I think we need to “lighten up” … for at least a week. Also, I think humor is appropriate since Proverbs 17:22 says “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength” (NLT). So, here is some light-hearted trivia that I found many years ago. When I first read them, it looked like some had incorrect information so I did a little “lookin’ up” to get as close to the truth as I could. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the next five minutes.

Have you heard the saying “God willing and the creek don’t rise”? Some folk have a picture of an uncrossable stream or creek rising during a torrential downpour – especially with all the flooding happening in parts of the world today. However, there is one small error in that quote. The statement was written by Benjamin Hawkins, a politician and Indian diplomat in the early 1800s. While on the job in the southern USA, Hawkins was requested by President Thomas Jefferson to return to Washington D.C. and give a report about what was happening. His response was, “God willing and the Creek don’t rise.” Because of his job, and the fact that he capitalized the word “Creek,” it is deduced that he was referring to a potential Creek Indian uprising, and not a flooded body of water.

In George Washington’s days, there were no cameras. One’s image was either sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington show him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back, while others showed both legs and both arms. In fact, many paintings show people with arms or legs out of sight. That’s because prices were based on how big the canvas was, how many objects (things and people) were to be painted, and by how many fingers, hands, arms, legs, and feet were to be painted. Arms and legs are more difficult to paint, therefore painting them raised the price considerably. This is one probable origin of the expression, “It’ll cost you an arm and a leg.” By the way, that’s why many (if not most) cartoons show the characters with only three fingers and a thumb. Omitting the fourth finger reduced the production costs.

In centuries past, personal hygiene was not understood, and people didn’t bathe very often, which aided in the profusion of lice. Therefore, many women and most men in the European higher social strata shaved their heads because of lice and bugs, then wore wigs. This continued in colonial America – which, of course, was primarily an extension of British society. Wealthy and influential people could afford to buy larger wigs – and they did. Today we still use the term “He’s a big wig” because someone appears to be, or is, powerful and wealthy.

You might have heard various stories about the origin of “chairman of the board.” Well, some of the stories are flakey, but this is probably correct. The word “chair” infers sitting in the chair, or seat of authority (at times, perhaps the only chair while others sat on benches), and “board” (as we know it) was first heard of in the 13th century spelled borde, and means “table” – such as “God’s borde” (meaning “the Lord’s table.”) A mother’s call to the family was: “Mi bord is maked. Cumed to borde.” – meaning, “The table is set [for a meal]. Come to the table.” Also, people pay a fee or rent for “room and board” – sleeping quarters and food at the table. So, chairman of the board would be the person in charge at the table where business is conducted: be it church, industry, restaurant, or government.

Here’s one more. Have you heard the phrase, “turn a blind eye” in a situation?

In the naval battle of Copenhagen in 1801, British Admiral Horatio Nelson (who was blind in one eye) lead the attack against a joint Danish/Norwegian flotilla. The British fleet was commanded by Admiral Sir Hyde Parker. Sensing defeat, Parker sent a signal for Nelson to disengage, but Nelson was convinced he could win if he persisted. In Clarke and M’Arthur’s biography, Life of Nelson, published around 1809, they printed what they said was Nelson’s actual words at the time: [Putting the field glass to his blind eye and addressing his assistant] “You know, Foley, I have only one eye – and I have a right to be blind sometimes. I really do not see the signal.” So, turning a blind eye to Admiral Parker’s order, Nelson proceeded to defeat the enemy.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a pleasant week.

You Have Faith? In What?

In 1979 when I worked for a car dealership, a man walked up to me one day and requested an automobile. He listed the specifications: make & model, color, engine type and size, what he would pay for it, and all the rest. And he wanted it within two weeks. I chuckled and said, “You won’t get it at that price.”

Waxing eloquently about his faith, he said, “I told God what I wanted and I’m holding God to His word. The Bible says God will give us the desires of our hearts, and this is my desire. Therefore, I know I’ll get what I ask. And I want you to receive a blessing by getting it for me.”

I was flabbergasted to think a puny human could be so brash as to “hold God to His word.” God isn’t on trial. We humans are the flaky ones, and God is holding US accountable. We don’t have a right to demand anything of God.

When I asked, “Is your faith based on what you want, or on what God wants for you?” he retorted, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

I told him although he was sincere in his belief, sincerity doesn’t make something true; rather, truth substantiates faith, or exposes ignorance. Truth either validates or invalidates a person’s sincerity. So I asked him again about the object of his faith.

He laughed at my apparent ignorance, and said, “Scripture says ‘you have not because you ask not.’ I WILL get that car, everything I want on it, and at my stated price; but someone other than you will be blessed for getting it for me.” With that, he walked away.

I have many friends who tell God what they want. They say if they truly believe it, they will get it. They also tell me that not receiving what they want reveals a lack of faith.

I agree with Scripture but I disagree with their application of Scripture.

Although many of these folk have a true love for Jesus, they are taking those verses out of context. So what is the Biblical teaching?

I think some of you just tuned me out. But for those who are still reading, the interesting part comes next.

James 1:6 says to ask without wavering, and James 4:3 says we don’t get what we ask because we ask for the wrong things. So, let’s go to Jesus’ words.

Jesus said in Mark 11:24 – “Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it.” His immediate audience knew what He meant; it is we new-comers who missed it.

Jesus stated it more fully to another audience in John 14:12-13. “The truth is, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father.”

Two phrases stand out: “in My name” and “brings glory to the Father.” And this is where the rubber meets the road.

“In My name” means to ask for what Jesus would ask; and that includes 1) asking in the manner and attitude in which Jesus would ask, 2) asking specifically for what Jesus would ask, and 3) accepting the timing of God’s response. Jesus’ continuous attitude was, “Not My will, but Thine be done.” As we grow in our relationship with the Lord, we will have Jesus’ attitude.

“Bringing glory to the Father” means that the answer to the request is to glorify God – not to primarily benefit us. Jesus never asked for a new donkey, a faster horse, or a better place to sleep. Those are not bad things, but that wasn’t what Jesus needed. God promised to meet our needs – not necessarily our wants. Psalm 37:4 instructs us that if we are in tune with God, He will give us the proper desires – the desires of our hearts.

Faith in God is not self-centered, but God-centered. True faithfulness is purposely living according to God’s word, and is revealed by a life dedicated to the Lord – not necessarily by things we have.

That man returned a month later to show me his new car. But when I pointed that many of the features he demanded were missing and that he paid about $2,000 more than he told God he would pay, he shrugged and said, “Well, I guess you can’t have it all.”

Perhaps he woke up to the truth of “asking in Jesus’ name” and maybe he didn’t. But dear reader, I hope your faith is in Jesus Christ, not in what you want. I hope your desire is to bring glory and honor to God, not merely to make yourself happy.

May God bless you as you learn what it means to truly honor our Lord.

Set Beneficial, Wise Goals

An acquaintance was driving on a cross-country trip and spotted something vaguely familiar beside a barn. He stopped at the farm house to enquire about it. The farmer hadn’t thought about selling it, but gave George permission to check it out.

As George approached the car, his eyes saw a rusty, dilapidated, 1958 Buick Roadmaster. The leather seats were shredded with springs protruding, covered with animal fur and chicken feathers – in much the same condition as pictured here.. Two windows were broken with the other two down. The chrome was peeling, and all four tires were cracked like a dried up lake bed, and flat. As he managed to open the hood, the scared cat hissed and jumped off the engine, and George saw what used to be radiator hoses and electrical wiring dangling uselessly: they had long-ago deteriorated.

But in George’s mind, he saw something else.

He saw a bright, shiny, light-burgundy, 1958 Buick Roadmaster with a circled V on the front grill, and a gleaming white roof. In his mind he saw the shiny chrome all around the car with sunlight glinting off it, the electric windows working, and new soft and pliable leather seating inviting him. Ultimately, he saw himself slowly cruising through town, smiling as the men oohed and aahed over it. In George’s mind, it looked just like the one his dad owned when George was in elementary school. THIS is what he longed for.

George’s new years resolution was to make this dream come true.

George had a garage where he would do most of the work himself. He would buy the books for body, engine, and electrical work; he knew a painter in a nearby town who would paint it that beautiful light-burgundy color; and knew a man who could replace the windows.

He made the farmer an offer, and after a little negotiating the deal was done. In two days, the cat had to find a different hiding place as a truck hauled the soon-to-be-renovated-beauty to George’s garage. He was ecstatic!

That was four years ago.

How many times had his wife said, “George, when are you going to stop procrastinating.” It wasn’t a question – it was a demand. “Why did you bring it here in the first place! Will you please do something with that rusty hulk?” That last one was a plea.

What happened? Very simply, George found himself not wanting to do the work. With all the right intentions and a dream to be fulfilled, George set unrealistic goals for himself. In the vernacular, he bit off more than he could chew.

He envisioned the finished product, but he didn’t know how to go about it. He also found out that he didn’t have the desire to get out the sander and throw sparks all around the garage and smelling ozone while sanding every square inch of the rusty hulk (the title given to it by George’s wife). Every time he looked at the ghost-of-the-past, he mentally sunk lower.

Why did I ever bring it home? He wondered.

When he finally prayed about it, asking the Lord if he should start the project, or perhaps if there was something else he should do with it, an interesting idea came to him. Perhaps it was from the Lord. He made an appointment with the pastor and shared the idea with him.

“Great idea!” boomed the clergyman, and he called in the youth director.

“This could be the answer to one of my prayers.” the youth pastor said. “I’ve been looking for a project for the high school boys.”

George gave Rusty Hulk to the church as a gift, and George’s wife got her garage back. Borrowing tools from their parents, the teen-age boys had a ball removing old seats, stripping the rusty shell of everything that was possibly removable, and throwing sparks as shiny metal emerged.  

To make the story short, George wasn’t procrastinating. Desiring to fulfill a childhood dream, George attempted to do something that was not his calling. When he finally realized it, he was able to let it go.

When the church youth group was through, it wasn’t the Light-Burgundy Blazing Beauty that George imagined, but it was nice. The church sold the Roadmaster, and the substantial profit was used to set up a workshop where the youth group could do other projects. George’s gift kept on giving.

Do you find yourself procrastinating when it comes to finishing a project or reaching a goal? The solution might be to create a workable New Year’s Resolution. Pray about each project, and see if that’s what the Lord wants you to do. See if it’s something you really want to spend your time doing … or even have the skills to do. Setting goals too high might not be compatible with your God-given creativity. So, don’t do that.

May the Lord bless you as you wisely set goals this year.

Happy New Year!

Christ Changes Lives

Caleb was puzzled. He had been training four other shepherds for a year now, and a new trainee, Micha, had been assigned to him last week. Caleb was accustomed to his helpers cooperating with him, and he was a little uneasy because they were late bringing in the sheep.

Being a shepherd wasn’t an easy task. Learning to know each animal by name was time-consuming, but that wasn’t the hardest part. Although shepherds need to know about the growing seasons, where the best fields are for grazing, what foliage is unhealthy for the critters, what predators are lurking nearby, how to fight them off, and how to tend the newborn and the wounded, a good shepherd also needs to know how to negotiate with other shepherds who may have trespassed into “their” territory. Caleb was wondering if a problem had erupted, so taking Micha with him, he decided to go out and find out what was happening.

It hadn’t rained for two weeks, so they walked more than an hour over several rather sparse hills to where Caleb had sent the men and flocks.

Tuvia saw Caleb first and joyfully shouted, “God is Good!”

“Not so loud, Tuvia. Yes, God is good. But you must be careful not to startle the sheep.”

“Oh Nahum, you’re always trying to comfort the sheep. But allow me some fun out here in the vast wilderness. I need to let off some energy, and the animals will survive.”

Caleb walked up to them, smiling. “I truly enjoy your enthusiasm, Tuvia. Please never let it leave you. But Nahum does have a point. Where is Levi?”

Ariel responded, “Levi is over the hill tending a ewe giving birth.” Micha immediately ran to watch.

“Over the hill, is he?” mused Caleb. “Well, I suppose we’ll be spending the night out here. It will be a warm and remarkably clear night for the middle of Tishrei (early October), and the sheep seem to be settling down. Yes. tell Levi and Micha to take their time; and Ariel, will you please prepare a meal for us?”

“Yes, Caleb, I’ll have it ready soon.”

After the meal a half-moon was glowing, the stars were shining brightly, a gentle breeze was wafting across the land. And Levi reported that the new birth was a healthy ram lamb.

But Micha sat apart from the rest. His parents taught him the prophecies that the Messiah should be coming soon. He was also taught to always look for deeper meanings to life’s experiences.

Suddenly, he sat up and looked around. He sensed something in the air. The others were relaxing and telling stories, but Micha jumped to his feet and cried out, “Look! Do you see what I see?”

Startled, the others quickly looked – then covering their faces in fear, they fell to the ground. A shining angel appeared and made an announcement! We read the angel’s announcement in Luke 2:10-12

Do not be afraid. I am bringing you good news that will be a great joy to all people. Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord. This is how you will know him: You will find a new-born baby wrapped in white cloth, lying in a manger.

Then, many other glowing angels appeared which lit up the night sky; and they were shouting, “Glory to God in the highest! Peace to all men on earth!”

Or were they singing? It was hard to tell for their voices sounded musical.

The lead angel again told the shepherds not to be afraid and urged them to go.

Finally overcoming their fear, Caleb left Ariel with the sheep. The others followed the heavenly directions, taking a one-month-old lamb with them, and quickly went to Bethlehem. It was just as the angel announced: they found the stable where Joseph and Mary were. When they saw the new-born baby, who was declared by the angels to be God, Micha slowly knelt and softly but incredulously asked, “Look, do you see what I see?”

Caleb and the others, presenting the lamb as a gift, knelt beside Micha and looked at baby Jesus with profound awe.

Joseph announced, “His name is Yohoshua (Jesus) – God is salvation. He will save us from our sin-laden existence.”

Mary gently added, “The prophecy proclaimed he will also be called Immanuel, for he is ‘God with us’.”  The shepherds joyfully returned to their flocks. But they told everyone they encountered about the newborn Christ, for their lives were changed forever!

Pearl Harbor: December 7, 1941

On December 7, 1941, at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a dive bomber from the Japanese Imperial Navy flew unchallenged over the mountains on the island of Oahu. Then 360 Japanese warplanes, following closely behind, thundered over the mountains, descended on and attacked the U.S. naval base and the Army air base at Pearl Harbor. That catapulted the United States into World War II.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt then galvanized the US Congress and the nation into action with his memorable speech which started with: “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

Part of our Pacific fleet was crippled. Included in the destruction were: four battleships, three cruisers, three destroyers, several other ships and subs, and almost 200 planes. Over 2,300 Americans were killed and 1,200 wounded in that disaster. That debacle could not and would not be ignored.

Interestingly, the attack was engineered to prevent the United States from entering the war which would have enabled Japan to advance her imperialistic goals.

Dad’s 1999 book was updated and in December of 2021 was released under a new title: Dead in the Water. I put in new Introduction and numerous pictures, and my brother, Paul, put in a new Afterword. You can find the book on Amazon, and you’ll be glad you bought the book.

Japan’s surprise attack – prior to declaring war – propelled this mighty nation into action. The US aircraft carriers which Japan intended to sink at Pearl Harbor were not at Pearl. Admiral Chester Nimitz, also a Texan, had sent them elsewhere, and the aircraft from those ships destroyed the core of the Japanese Imperial Navy six months later in the Battle of Midway. My father was on the USS Yorktown in that battle.

Recently we seem to have forgotten about the attack on Pearl Harbor. No, we don’t hate the Japanese, but if we forget history, we’ll forget who we are and why our nation exists.

When I worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory – where our first atomic bombs were constructed – every year well-meaning people protested on August 6 and 9. Those were the dates the US dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They thought we should never have bombed Japan.

The fact is, we didn’t want to bomb Japan; we didn’t even want to get into the war. But when we are attacked, we do respond.

Tales From the Road: Life Without Internet

Several years ago, my precious Carol and I stayed at an RV Campground for six weeks in southern Washington. It was a beautiful area, but the campground had one thing missing. It did not provide wi-fi service for us. They did provide it for people staying for two weeks or less, but those of us who stay long-term have to pay for our own internet service, wi-fi, and electricity. All you veteran RVers probably know what I’m talking about, but this was new to us.

I laughingly and facetiously asked Carol, “Is there life without internet?”

She reminded me of when our three older kids were in elementary school. The school officials were going to conduct an experiment that was titled: Is there life after TV? The Public Schools were cooperating in a research endeavor regarding the effects of television on family life.

This was not mandatory for everyone, but on Monday morning all kids in the school were encouraged to refrain from watching television for the next 7 days. The kids took notes home to their parents asking them to participate with the project.

The kids were asked to bring in daily reports of what they did each day and how life changed, but in our house, we watched very little TV anyway, so our quality of life did not change. Darlene, Ron, and Jeremy practiced their musical instruments a little more and we got into more family discussions. But I was surprised when Carol told me how much better we all got along with each other.

Guess what? Shortly after this educational experiment, we sold the TV and used the money for music lessons. Our kids were in on the family pow-wow, and that decision was unanimous.

For all the other students in the school, was there life after television? After just two days, there was weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth in many of the homes – and much of that came from the parents!

It was surprising how many families had wrapped and warped their lives around the screen that usurped so much of their time. Unplugging the television was like a divorce, and life was shattered. Many families couldn’t take it and turned the TV back on! Relief flooded their homes as each family member resumed going his or her separate way.

That was in 1979. We still do not immerse ourselves in television, theater, entertainment, etc. Our daughters and Carol & I own televisions, but the TVs are tools we use at our discretion. On the other hand, our two married boys, Ron and Jeremy, don’t own television sets. We all understand what life is about.

Now, where was I? Oh yes … is there life without the internet?

The first question Carol and I asked ourselves is: What is the purpose of this extended trip?

The purpose is two-fold. We realized that if nothing in our lives changed in these, our later years, we would not be making any new memories. So 1) I resigned from my responsibilities to reduce stress, and be with Carol. And 2) I need time to write two or three books.

And guess what? It was great! Even without internet.

But let me be open with you: I do need wi-fi and internet periodically, but not 24/7. I have to have internet capability – as when I need to email, submit blogs, send my Reflection articles to the newspaper, and do research – and the park officials allow me to intermittently use their service. But leaving the RV to do that means I plan my time judiciously because I enjoy spending time with Carol.

So, are there benefits of not having internet and TV? Yes, that’s why I am not paying for it at RV campsites. But we are paying for electricity. That comes in handy if we want to have lights, heat, and use of the computer – wi-fi or not.

One man asked me, “Don’t you want continuous use of your e-mail service?”

I told him that I can live without most of the e-mail I receive. E-mail that friends and family send can be answered when I have time. I reminded him of the benefit of e-mail: others can send e-mail at THEIR convenience, and I can respond at MY convenience. I am not hog-tied to the internet or e-mail; the telephone is for immediate interaction – usually.

 Well, since you’re reading this, I suppose the internet is working. Have a great day.

Thanksgiving Day

I lean back in my La-z-Boy chair, prop up my feet, turn on the 10 motors in the chair to massage my tired back, and relax. I like football, but I don’t feel like watching a game right now. Carol brings me a cup of coffee with the right amount of milk and sugar. I take a sip, ahhhhhhh, close my eyes, and thank God for the wonderful life He has ….

“Sweetheart. Gene, where are you?”

“Huh … wh … what’d you say?”

“You must have fallen asleep.”

“Yeah … I guess I … was … dreaming.”

Thanksgiving Day is almost here, and I’m in front of the computer where my hand fell on the keyboard. I looked at the screen and saw a page of Js. I deleted them. I looked over to where my La-z-Boy chair is beckoning me in real life.

“The reason I called you – oh, sorry that I had to wake you up – but we got a call from family in California. The fires are raging, and many houses, barns, and businesses have gone up in flames. Are you sure we should go out west?”

I thought back on the dream I was enjoying.

Not many bad things have happened to us, and I’m thankful. But what about my friends and family members? We are mourning for the family whose father and daughter recently drowned. Fires have ravaged multi-thousands of acres and several towns, and tornados have created havoc in many places. How will those whose lives have been turned upside down celebrate? Or can they truthfully celebrate Thanksgiving with the turmoil they’re experiencing?

I thought about the smoke would encounter if we went west. That shouldn’t be too bad, and we probably would not meet up with any flames. At least, I hope not. The smoke is devastating for some folks with bronchial problems, but my allergy pills should help me.

“Precious, I think we should go to our daughter and family south instead of our son and family out west.”

Years ago, two of my sisters lost houses in fires, and some friends are currently without electricity. Friends whose houses were damaged by the twisters are waiting for the repairs or reconstruction to take place. With that in mind, a question hung heavily in my mind, so I asked the Lord. “Father, how can people be thankful in the face of disaster? How can they actually be grateful when so much has been taken from them?”

Then I remembered asking my sister, Jan, how she felt when her house was destroyed. She responded, “Eugene, it’s only stuff. Whatever we want to replace, we can. But it’s only stuff. We’re still alive. That’s what counts.” That was an excellent, mature response.

I asked our friends how they’re doing after the tornado damaged their house. One of them responded, “We’re doing fine. It was hard to sleep afterwards, but it’s only a house. God has taken care of us.” The other said, “We’re doing fine. It’ll get repaired, and we are thankful to the Lord.”

I’ve never heard God speak out loud, but He answered my prayer with the following thoughts.

I give many kinds of blessings, many of them are material. Most people, even those who don’t know Me, are generally happy about what they have. But those who know Me are grateful for our relationship, and they don’t wait for this day of the year to show it. Their gratefulness, their thankfulness, is not based on what they have, but what they are. They are thankful for life. And when their human life is over, they will thank Me face-to-face.

Some time ago, a missionary couple at church told us about a poor family overseas. With barely enough money to buy food, they received a gift of $70. They were excited, but they knew another family who had no food at all. Following God’s leadership, they joyfully gave that $70 to the other family. Their generosity revealed not only a grateful spirit, but a deep, mature relationship with God.

“Precious, I called to see if the repairs on the trailer were complete. It’s almost ready.”

“What if the weather gets stormy?”

“We’ll go without the trailer.”

It isn’t what we have or don’t have that produces joy, and it isn’t whether or not we’ve experienced hardship in life that prompts us to be thankful. What engenders gratefulness is knowing Jesus Who offers us eternal life.

James 1:17 tells us that every good gift comes from God. Let’s express our gratitude to God every day. Let’s be generous to others. And let’s be compassionate and help those who are experiencing hardship and tragedy. Allow God to bless others through you.

Tales From the Road: Road Hazards

Carol and I enjoy traveling. We drive the speed limit, observe traffic rules and cautions, and watch out for hazards. Watching out for hazards is sometimes nerve-wracking because there are many kinds of them.

Potholes and broken sections of pavement which can destroy tires account for most of our hazards. I’ve seen one accident that was caused by a driver who swerved to miss a big hole but hit another car.

Another hazard that drivers sometimes face in the deserts of Southern California, Nevada, and Arizona, are sandstorms. We didn’t encounter those storms on this trip, but four years ago we got caught. The sand was blowing at 40 mph and was so thick that I couldn’t see more than 20 feet in front of me. When that storm was over, the windshield needed to be replaced.

Yet other hazards crop up: animals on the roadway. Rabbits, racoons, squirrels, and other small game just get squashed, and it’s over. Dogs, deer, coyotes, and the like can present more of a challenge, but elk, cattle, and horses can prove to be fatal – for man and beast.

Another hazard we’ve seen – but haven’t been affected by – are downed trees across the roads. Nature has been acting up lately and high winds have been howling through the forests. About a mile from where we are staying, a large tree fell across the road after midnight. It was still dark, and by the time a tired driver saw the tree, he didn’t have time to hit the brake. It took over two hours for the ambulance crew to remove the body, and the highway department to remove the wreck and the tree.

But of all the hazards we face on the highways, one stands out like a sore thumb. It is a high-speed hazard called a Motorcycle!

 All over the United States we see signs reminding us about them. “Be courteous: share the road.” “Watch out for motorcycles.” “Save a life.” “Start Seeing Motorcycles.” And others.

But the more ominous problem is that many of the motorcyclists are not watching out for themselves! I hear the complaints from many RVers across the country. At medium to high speeds, motorcyclists disobey traffic rules. At high speeds, they weave in-n-out of traffic and zip past us between the lanes. The interstate freeway speed limit may be 70mph, and we may be going 65mph while most cars buzz past us doing 70-80. But many cyclists shoot past us doing 80-90 or higher!

When I want to change lanes, I turn on my signal, check my side mirrors, rear-view mirror (if I’m not pulling a trailer), and ask Carol if the way is clear. When I hear and see that all is clear, I pull over. But several times as I was about to change lanes, a motorcycle zoomed out of the distance at over 100 mph ignoring my turn signal. I would’ve been hit if I completed the lane-change, and the cyclist probably would have been dead. Complicating the problem is: if we collided, the default verdict would normally be against the driver of the car.

On one of our trips, we were driving 45 mph east on I-8 up Mission Valley in San Diego. The traffic was heavy. A motorcycle passed me at high speed on the inside shoulder between the concrete highway dividers and my car. I told Carol, “I hope he doesn’t kill himself.”

This photo is that of a different fatality.

About ten minutes later, traffic came to a crawl as the two left lanes began merging into the two right lanes. We eventually passed a damaged car, the mangled bike, and the rider’s broken body. The ambulance had not yet arrived.

There are many hazards on the highways and byways that we watch out for. But we must make sure that we don’t become the hazard.

Do you know that living according to Biblical principles can make our life safer? In Romans 13:1-5, Paul teaches us about obeying those in authority over us. That would include obeying speed limits, wouldn’t it? It includes being courteous drivers and giving others room to enter our lane without crowding them. And according to the principle in Matthew 25:40, if we show kindness to other drivers, we are showing kindness to Jesus.

We also should pray before we get out on the road. God can warn us of danger, remind us to be safe, and can protect us from unsafe drivers.

Counting Calories – Again

Although I knew my belt had slowly been getting tighter, I was surprised on May 18, 2014, to find that I weighed 182 pounds. I am five feet, eight inches tall with my shoes on, and I shouldn’t weigh more than 165.

We had been in California from December of 2013 through February of 2014, and my brother fed us well!

I told Carol, “Precious, I am disgusted!”

“What’s the matter?”  

“I am having trouble with my jaws.”

“What do you mean?”

“My jaws are processing way too much food and my tummy is revealing the consequences.”

Laughing, she asked, “Are you going on a diet?”

“No, and Yes. No: I’m not going on a traditional diet that people make and break twelve times a year. And Yes: I am going to count calories.”

And so I did. The weight calculator said my caloric intake should not exceed 1,948 calories daily, so I decided on 1,900 calories for easier figuring. If I went over one day, I stayed under the next day.

I started limiting calories – not food types, but caloric intake – on May 18, 2014; and five weeks later, June 25, I was down to 160 pounds. My plan worked. Ice cream, pies, and cookies were part of my diet, but only in limited quantities, and only after a hearty – not large, but hearty – meal.

If you want to know: my daily caloric intake for the 5 weeks averaged 1,713.

Oh, I almost forgot: Carol also experienced significant weight reduction because we both disciplined ourselves to a new way of eating.

That was eight years ago. But as you know, we again took a prolonged road-trip around our grand country; and guess what? My belt slowly-but-surely got tighter. When we returned home on May 16, 2019, the scale lied: it said I weighed 191 pounds! Not to be outsmarted, I replaced the battery, and the truth was revealed: my true weight was 182 – again. I remembered that tried-and-true “counting-calorie” regimen, and I decided to do it again. Because I was five years older, the weight calculator limited me to 1916 calories daily. So, I limited myself to 1850.

Limiting calories while sitting on the couch or at the computer helps only a little. So in addition to sitting at my desk doing a lot of writing, I exercised. I didn’t have the time yet to go to the gym to work out, so I worked outside.

Tree-trimming, shredding the limbs, weed-whacking around our half-acre, mowing the lawns, burning pine-needles and branches, ridding the premises of unwanted vegetation such as poison ivy, etc., was work! It wouldn’t have mattered if I went over the caloric intake because I burned it off. Nevertheless, I kept track and kept Jaws under control. Or did I keep my eating under control?

Either way, I got the weight down to a healthy level – again. (My average daily caloric intake after 6 weeks averaged 1625.)

I ate mashed potatoes and gravy, hamburgers and steak, chicken and turkey. I really like fish. And I ate fruit and vegetables. I just didn’t over-eat. Yes – milk-shakes, ice cream, pies, and cookies were still in! But in limited quantities.

I’m not a vegetarian, but I found myself asking for more fruit and vegetables, and I lost interest in some foods that are low on nutrition. (Some – not all.) Therefore, I felt better quickly and regained a lot of energy.

By the way: I didn’t LOSE the weight because I knew where it was hiding: in the refrigerator, the food pantry, and at my favorite restaurants. The key is discipline.

Our next short adventures were to Dallas to see our newest grandbaby, and to Pagosa Springs, Colorado, to be with our daughters and friends, and I made sure I didn’t over-eat.

Well, I might need to retract that statement. I caught plenty of 16-inch to 18-inch rainbow trout up there, and I tend to over-eat on fish. However, wild trout has between 202-270 calories for a 6-ounce fillet (depends on how it’s cooked). Compare that with approximately 394 for 6 ounces of hamburger, and approximately 400 for steak. Fish meat is obviously healthier for us.

It wasn’t difficult to reduce my waistline and weight. I just had to WANT to reduce, and I had to want to stay healthy.

By the way, you may use my plan if you want to: it works.

Bon appétit, mes amies.

Labor Day

The Linzey family has a current memory of Labor Day. On August 31, 2012, our oldest son, Ron, and his family came to visit over the Labor Day weekend. We had a great time with Ron, Tanya, and their twelve kids. On Monday, September 3, Ron said, “Well, we better get going. The new baby is due in three weeks and we have some preparations to make.” So they loaded up the van and headed back toward Oklahoma City.

As I was growing up in Southern California, I learned about Labor Day in school. However, at times I confused it with Armistice Day because my sister Janice was born on Armistice Day – which was renamed Veteran’s Day in 1954. That made things worse: for how could Janice be born on Veteran’s Day when she was actually born on Armistice Day. Are you dizzy yet? As a child, I easily became confused. Let’s get back to Labor Day.

   Ron’s family hadn’t been gone long when the van pulled back onto our driveway. Ron said, “For some reason, baby has decided to be born that evening. May we spend the night?” And a new memory was created: Little Daniel was born within the hour … on our bed … on “Labor” Day.

     Although most Americans observe Labor Day as a holiday, some are aware of the meaning of the day. What are some of your memories? While you’re thinking, let me share some historical data with you. We won’t discuss Jolly Old England, but will stick with the US of A.

This day is a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. It’s an annual tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. But if we look at it objectively, we should not celebrate labor OVER management or company owners. No; our achievements are a product of overall cooperation between management and laborers. But we did have quite a time getting things straightened out between the two sides as labor unions became politically oriented. However, without business organizations, laborers are not needed; and without laborers, business organizations could not exist. But someone had to be the authority over the workplace. Although that necessarily fell to management, the compromise was that labor became a cooperative partner.

There have been many labor disputes, such as the massive “Pullman Strike” and the poorly named “Haymarket Massacre.” But not all problems have been between labor and management. Many times the problems were between the laborers themselves and other problems were within management and/or between companies.

Company owners and laborers alike have made mistakes. Some mistakes were based on “company greed” and others on “laborer greed.” But both are encompassed in “human greed.” Many times laborers had proper grievances, and when cool heads prevailed, problems were resolved. Sometimes it was hard to find those cool heads.

But historically, Americans built a strong country. The pilgrims were diligent workers who believed in and honored God. The United States is a blend of people from around the world, and most of them had a desire to be self-sufficient. They wanted to send word back to their motherland that they were doing well. They detested receiving handouts but would rather give a helping hand to others. These folk helped to establish a strong, powerful working force that could solve any problem that arose. I applaud them, and hope America will reestablish that mindset today.

Some of you may have been involved in union strikes. If you have, you know it’s seldom an easy task to clearly define the issues, because both sides act like Republicans and Democrats: too often they create their own problems, hide their own ignorance, and blame each other.

We as a nation have become like I was as a child: we have become confused. Having “grown up” in the 19th century, we regressed in the 20th. I matured because I received a Biblical work ethic from my father who also taught me to believe in Jesus Christ. But America has forsaken our Biblical heritage, rejected a foundational work ethic, and is floating precariously down the river of shame and disgrace. As a nation, we are in trouble.

Our only hope to become stabilized is to reestablish our foundational belief in God and live according to Biblical principles.

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