Fear Not, Love All, Don’t Give Objects Power

Hatred
End product of fear
Seeds scattered on the winds
Seeking soil readied by the rhetoric
Of discord, no one truly safe
From its sprouting–

for all of us stew over something unfair–

For in our brokenness we will fear what we do not understand

or what threatens

or offends

nor are we beyond 
Becoming a conduit of proliferation of fear

Because we want others to see the danger

or offense, or injustice, or to fear what we fear 

and nurture that fear until it morphs into either quivering in a corner

sure THEY are out to get US or into a RAGE that topples anything or anyone

even remotely identified as THEY.

Fear the Bible says is the opposite of Love
While also saying the fear of God is the
Beginning of wisdom and that God casts
Out all fear of anything that is not love

For God is Love.

So if I fear God
Will that fear not bring forth
A harvest of hatred for all misplaced fear
That points fingers, throws sticks and stones,
Or bullets or angry words or destroys property,
Or drives a vehicle into human beings intent
On the destruction of others created in God’s image
Or gives the idols carved by human hands POWER
To turn people’s fears into actions

that should
Make all of us like the five year old child
Watching the violence on the news, recoil and scream
‘Make them stop! Where are their Mommy’s? Where are their Daddy’s’
Where indeed?

Seeds of fear scattered on the winds
Find places to root and grow
When I fail to fear God
Who says Love others, even those who
Have let fear grow into
Hatred.

BAREFOOT BOOK CLUB: SUMMER, 2017: SO MANY BOOKS SO LITTLE TIME


School
 is back in session here in Western Kentucky.  I love this time of year, although I recall it used to start in September.  I may have mentioned, I loved going to school!  I loved it so much that I was still going until I was almost 35 years old and then my husband went back to school, so I lived the dream vicariously through him until he finished seminary, through my children–hockey, football games, marching band contests and parades, through my grandchildren, soccer, baseball, essays, cheerleading, basketball.

Summer is drawing to a close.  Teachers somewhere are assigning written essays.  So here I am looking back on what I read this summer.  You know the old saying, “A Day without a Book is….something I have no clue about.’  Reading has taken me everywhere, made me a time traveler, captured and held me in awe.  SO

WHAT HAVE I READ THIS SUMMER? 

Dis

Fiction:

1. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Perfume River, Butler—By far the best fiction book I read this summer. The author is a professor of creative writing at Florida State University. His capture of generational family dynamics and the decisions made, the words spoken and the secrets kept beginning with the protagonist facing his nightmares of Hue, Vietnam and his father’s imminent death delivers an emotional wallop…but then there is homeless Bob and the protagonist’s brother who defied their father escaping to Canada to avoid the draft. Complex, but aren’t all families. Terry and I had deep discussions about this book and the characters which were delightful.

2. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️The Chilbury Ladies Choir, Jennifer Ryan—A book set in 1940 Great Britain as men march off to war and women are left to carry on and support the war effort. Told by different characters from young to mature in a series of letters and journal entries. The only WW2 book I read this summer, believe it or not. Terry loved this one also.

3. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️A Murder in Time, Julie McElwain

4. ⭐️⭐️⭐️The Practice House, Laura McNeal  

5. ⭐️⭐️⭐️The Book of Polly, Kathy Hepinstall

 

 

 

Books in an established series: Suggest that if you want to read any of these author’s series that you start with earlier book in the series. I highly recommend any of these authors but especially Nesbo, Iles, and Silva, but I enjoy all of them.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️The Thirst, Jo Nesbo–Norwegian author–First book in Harry Hole Series is THE BAT

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Mississippi Blood, Third book in a trilogy set in and around Natchez, MS, Greg iles First Book in this trilogy is NATCHEZ BURNING, but Penn Cage, the protagonist and his family are in earlier Iles Books.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Garden of Lamentations, a Duncan Kincaid and Gemma Jones Novel, Deborah Crombie

⭐️⭐️⭐️The Likeness, Dublin Police Squad 2, Tana French

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️House of Spies, Daniel Silva

 

 

 

Non-Fiction:  Devotional, Inspirational, Memoir

⭐️⭐️Hallelujah Anyway. Anne LaMott

 

Audio books: What we have listened to in the car—Listed in order of preference. Highly recommend any of these. Good stories, Good narrators

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️🌟Beneath the Scarlet Sky, Mark Sullivan—A large portion of this book is fact taken from interviews with some of the principals and also much research by the author, some that went on after the book was completed. Some of it is the author’s imagining of conversations, transitions, etc. Once again a little known story of heroism, war, and love. Well worth listening to or reading. It is set in Italy beginning in May 1944 in the city of Milan. Mussolini has lost his grip on Italy and lives with his mistress in a fortress castle protected by the Nazis who have invaded and placed what they hold of Italy under German military law. The Allies are invading south and at the beginning of the book the first Allied assault of Milan from the skies occurs. Pino Lela is a 17 year old boy who loves music, women, and movies. His heroism saved multiple lives, but could not save all the ones he loved. Worth the listen or the read.

From Amazon: A Goodreads Best Book of the Month

“Exciting…taut thriller…Beneath a Scarlet Sky tells the true story of one young Italian’s efforts to thwart the Nazis.” —Shelf Awareness

“Meticulous research highlights this World War II novel of a youth growing into manhood…a captivating read…” —RT Book Reviews

“An incredible story, beautifully written, and a fine and noble book.” —James Patterson, New York Times bestselling author

“Sprawling, stirring, like the richest of stories, and played out on a canvas of heroism and tragedy, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is like one of those iconic World War II black and white photos: a face of hope and tears, the story of a small life that ended up mattering in a big way.” —Andrew Gross, New York Times bestselling author of The One Man

“Action, adventure, love, war, and an epic hero—all set against the backdrop of one of history’s darkest moments—Mark Sullivan’s Beneath a Scarlet Sky has everything one can ask for in an exceptional World War II novel.” —Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of Playing with Fire

“This is full-force Mark Sullivan—muscular, soulful prose evincing an artist’s touch and a journalist’s eye. Beneath a Scarlet Sky conjures an era with a magician’s ease, weaving the rich tapestry of a wartime epic. World War II Italy has never been more alive to me.” —Gregg Hurwitz, New York Times bestselling author of The Nowhere Man

“Beneath a Scarlet Sky has everything—heroism, courage, terror, true love, revenge, compassion in the face of the worst human evils. Sullivan shows us war as it really is, with all its complexities, conflicting loyalties, and unresolved questions, but most of all, he brings us the extraordinary figure of Pino Lella, whose determination to live con smania—with passion—saved him.” —Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Suspicion

 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Home, Matt Dunn

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️The Woman on the Orient Express, Jayne Lindsey Ashford–fictionalized account of Agatha Christie’s journey on the Orient Express after her mysterious disappearance and divorce from Archie..an excellent listen and sent me searching out more about Agatha.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️The Lake House, Kate Morton

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Camino Island, John Grisham

⭐️⭐️⭐️The Ladies Room, Carolyn Brown

⭐️⭐️⭐️The Late Show, Michael Connelly

Terry and I joined a book club—Listed in order read for Book Club

1. MAY—Victoria, A Novel of a Young Queen, Daisy Goodwin—Historical Fiction Excellent account of a young queen and her relationship with her Prime Minister and later with the man who would be her husband….also a PBS series.

2. JUNE—⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💥🌟The Killing of the Flower Moon, David Grann—Nonfiction History—NUMBER ONE for this summer. If you come from Oklahoma which I do, you were required back in the day, at least as far back as my daughter’s day, to take Oklahoma History to graduate from high school. I SWEAR I made an A in that class and yet never knew this bit of history. I lived in Tulsa, OK 27 years before we moved to Kentucky….Tulsa County butts up against Osage County, the Osage Hills. In the early part of the 20th Century the Osage Indians were the wealthiest people per capita in the world. Oil, black gold and the fore thought to retain all rights to underground reservation, made those with head rights and their descendants wealthy. Sometime in the early 1920’s mysterious deaths began to wipe out whole families. Enter J. Edgar Hoover and his new FBI to investigate. A conspiracy that reached enormous proportions began to be uncovered. This book grabbed me from the beginning but it took Terry a little longer to get into it. Nevertheless, he loved it. As he closed the book, he looked over at me and said, ‘It was genocide and no one ever told me about this.’

From Amazon:  An Amazon Best Book of April 2017: In the 1920s, the Osage found themselves in a unique position among Native Americans tribes. As other tribal lands were parceled out in an effort by the government to encourage dissolution and assimilation of both lands and culture, the Osage negotiated to maintain the mineral rights for their corner of Oklahoma, creating a kind of “underground reservation.” It proved a savvy move; soon countless oil rigs punctured the dusty landscape, making the Osage very rich. And that’s when they started dying.

You’d think the Osage Indian Reservation murders would have been a bigger story, one as familiar as the Lindbergh kidnapping or Bonnie and Clyde. It has everything, but at scale: Execution-style shootings, poisonings, and exploding houses drove the body count to over two dozen, while private eyes and undercover operatives scoured the territory for clues. Even as legendary and infamous oil barons vied for the most lucrative leases, J. Edgar Hoover’s investigation – which he would leverage to enhance both the prestige and power of his fledgling FBI – began to overtake even the town’s most respected leaders.
Exhuming the massive amount of detail is no mean feat, and it’s even harder to make it entertaining. But journalist David Grann knows what he’s doing. With the same obsessive attention to fact – in service to storytelling – as The Lost City of Z, Killers of the Flower Moon reads like narrative-nonfiction as written by James M. Cain (there are, after all, insurance policies involved): smart, taut, and pacey. Most sobering, though, is how the tale is at once unsurprising and unbelievable, full of the arrogance, audacity, and inhumanity that continues to reverberate through today’s headlines. –Jon Foro, The Amazon Book Review
Review
“The best book of the year so far.”
—Entertainment Weekly

“A marvel of detective-like research and narrative verve.”
—Financial Times

“A shocking whodunit…What more could fans of true-crime thrillers ask?”
—USA Today

“A master of the detective form…Killers is something rather deep and not easily forgotten.”
—Wall St. Journal

“Extraordinary”
—Time Magazine

 

3. JULY—The Other Einstein, Marie Benedict—Historial Fiction Do you know about the first Mrs. Albert Einstein, who was also a brilliant physicist and who probably contributed the mathematics for the 1905 Einstein paper that eventually won him the Nobel Prize?

4. AUGUST—A Thousand White Women, Jim Fergus –Period Fiction

 

I have read a couple of others, but these are the ones that stand out.  SO tell me.  I am always looking for a new read or listen, WHAT HAVE YOU READ THIS SUMMER?

A few others I have read since returning to KY from FL

A Tribute to Courage In the Fire: Ima Lee Gee Pierce

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Last December, only days from her 45th birthday, our niece, Ima Lee slipped from this world to the next.  She did not go quietly or without a fight.  She fought cancer with every force offered and from a powerful will to live.  Her life as a whole not just the few years she battled cancer, but the whole of it prepared her.

img_3753On December 1, 1971, before her first birthday, her Dad died in an automobile crash outside Tinker Field in Oklahoma where he was reporting for a duty assignment.  Her mother, Kaye, my husband’s sister and my beloved sister-in-law died of cancer on August 25, 1987 shy of her 41st birthday, when Ima Lee was 16.  She became a single mother and the birth of Chassity gave her a clarity of purpose that had eluded her as she struggled to make sense of her life.  Make no mistake SHE loved that child, now a beautiful accomplished young wife and mother.  Her fierce love for her child led her to the Man who would become her husband and Chassity’s father, Clark Pierce.  She enlisted and served in the United States Airforce, like her father before her.  Following her service they settled in Missouri to raise the child they loved.

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Over the years marked by misunderstanding and geographical distances we had fallen out of touch with Ima Lee and her family, but Thanks be to God we got the opportunity to reconnect and reconcile.  Terry even got the honor of officiating at Chassity and Danny’s wedding in August 2012 in Gatlinburg, TN.  We were blessed to be able to help in some small way getting her to some of her doctor appointments and chemotherapy treatments.  Our gratefulness for that time with her and Clark cannot be measured.  We came to love her and her family deeply and that love continues as we follow Chassity and her family on Facebook.

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LIfe here is full of pitfalls, fires, and storms.  Life here is full of beauty, laughter, and mountaintop experiences.  Life here offers opportunities to come together or to tear apart….CHOOSE TOGETHER.  Ima Lee’s Life taught me that the test of our strength and our faith GROWS when we embrace the people we love and fight for every moment with them….even that we will be united in heaven.

God Bless Clark, Chass, Danny, and Owen as they mark this time when they said “Good by, See you Later.”  Love to you all.img_4329

Keeping Christ in Christmas: A Remembrance and a Story

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Several years ago, maybe close to 15 or 20, our Sunday School Class gathered for a Christmas party at the home of Wayne and Judy Stokes outside Pembroke.  As always, we ate, talked, laughed enjoying each other’s company and thoughts of Christmas.  Near the end of the party, Randa Luttrull brought out a basket filled with oranges.  She gave each of us one and then she told the following story, which I googled today so that I would get it correct:

Jake was nine years old and for as long as he could remember he lived within the walls of an orphanage. He was one of ten children supported by what meager contributions the orphan home could obtain in donations from local townspeople.

Throughout the year there was very little to eat, but at Christmas there always seemed to be a little bit more than usual. The orphanage seemed a bit warmer and there was time for holiday enjoyment. But most importantly there was the Christmas orange!

Christmas was the only time of year that such a rare treat was provided and it was treasured by each child. They each enjoyed their very own orange and prized it as they slowly savored each juicy section. It was truly the light of their Christmas and the best gift of the season. Jake had been looking forward to his Christmas orange all year long!

On Christmas Eve, Jake somehow managed to track a small amount of mud from his shoes onto the new carpet in the orphanage. He didn’t even notice it had happened. But it was too late and there was nothing he could do to avoid punishment. The punishment was swift and grim. Jake would not be allowed his Christmas orange! It was the only gift he would have received from the harsh world he lived in. Now, after a year of waiting, it would be denied him.

Tearfully Jake pleaded that he be forgiven, but to no avail. He felt hopeless and totally rejected. Jake cried into his pillow all that night and spent Christmas Day feeling empty and alone. He felt that the other children didn’t want to be with a boy who had received such a cruel punishment. Perhaps they feared he would ruin their only day of happiness. Maybe, he reasoned, the gulf between him and his friends existed because they feared he would ask for a little of each of their oranges. Jake spent the day upstairs, alone, in the unheated dormitory. Huddled under his only blanket, he read about a family marooned on an island. Jake wouldn’t mind spending the rest of his life on an isolated island, if he could only have a real family that cared about him.

Bedtime came but Jake couldn’t sleep. How could he say his prayers? How could there be a God in Heaven that would allow a little soul such as he, to suffer so much all by himself? Silently he sobbed as he prayed for the future of mankind, that God might end the suffering in the world, both for himself and all others like him.

As Jake climbed back into bed from the cold, hard floor, a soft hand touched his shoulder, startling him momentarily. He was surprised when an object was silently placed in his hands. The giver disappeared into the darkness, leaving Jake with what, he did not immediately know!

Looking closely at the object in his hand in the dim light, he saw what looked like an orange! Not a regular orange, smooth and shiny, but a very special orange. Inside a patched together peel were segments of nine other oranges. Together they made one whole orange for Jake! The nine other children in the orphanage had each donated one segment of their own precious orange to make a whole orange for Jake.

In my head today, if I allow myself to go there, I can still hear Randa’s alto voice telling the story.  At the end she held up an orange like the one Jake received, patched together and yet whole. I have never forgotten how entwined I became with the story and how deeply moved I was by the woman who told it.  I saw Randa’s generous, caring heart over the years, but for me seeing her face and hearing her voice as she told this story captured a moment of transparency and love that has stayed with me.

I feel certain that she is rejoicing in heaven with our Lord.  I also feel certain that her legacy of kindness and grace will live on in her family and closest friends.  May we all be generous and loving with each other this Christmas and in the year to come.

 

NO STANGER AT THE MANGER–seeking Christ in the midst of suffering

imageI say to God, my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why am I sad and troubled by my enemies?” My enemies’ insults make me feel as if my bones were broken. They are always saying, “Where is your God?” Why am I so sad? Why am I so upset? I should put my hope in God and keep praising him, my Savior and my God.
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭42:9-11‬‬

I went looking for the Christ Child today
As the media images made him seem far away
With faces of children lost in the fray
As friends suffer with pain they can’t keep at bay
As unbelievers scoff at my naivity
‘Where is this Christ of Christmas amid such disray?’
My heart broken, I still looked for Christ Jesus today.
Not in the manager set out on display
But deep down in myself not that far away
I felt his anguish, his love, his heart hurting with mine today.
For the suffering that so heavily weighs
On a world that he suffered and died to save
His voice a whisper, I hear him say
Comfort the people I place in your way
And I will be in Christmas Always.

NOTHING CAN KEEP CHRIST OUT OF CHRISTMAS IF I KEEP MY HEART IN HIS SWAY…NOTHING, NO ONE CAN X HIM AWAY

Nck, 2016

NO STRANGERS AT THE MANGER: What should keeping Christ in Christmas look like?

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Forget for a moment the window decorations, nativities on the court house lawn, the emphatic rebuttal of “Merry Christmas” to every one who declares, “Happy Holidays”.  Don’t forget them completely for they are important, but when I saw the poster above from a website that almost always criticizes those of us who know the value these outward displays have, I was convicted.

Consider how powerful Christ would be in our communities if we lived the message openly and without shame.  Somehow wearing a button that declares, “Keep Christ in Christmas” loses its impact if I am chewing out a store clerk or shoving a fellow shopper.  And with or without the button, the nativities on the court house lawn, or any public displays of Christ in Christmas choosing to be cheerful, loving, giving, and forgiving carries Jesus into the world, if I let others know I love the Lord.  His own words in the parable of the sheep and goats declares this:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭25:34-36‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So, WANT CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS?  LET THE CHRIST IN YOU [the hope of glory] SHINE into every dark corner of this world.

 

WANT CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS?  Look for him in the most vulnerable, the forgotten, the suffering, weary workers, lonely neighbors. . .make your own list.  Look with His eyes, the eyes of God who blessed an old couple with a son, who chose a young woman and her betrothed to parent, who influenced an emperor to take a census, and who sent Angels to a rough group of shepherds.

SHINE!  And together we will find Christ in Christmas.

 

 

No Stranger at the Manger: Zechariah and Elizabeth

More than once scripture shows the heart of God and his power through the elderly, the barren, taking even dried bones scattered on an ancient battlefield to create living human beings.  God delights in using the weakest, the most crippled, the least likely to display his power.  So it is not unusual that he would choose the priest Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth to bring forth a son, who Jesus would describe with these words:  “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”  [‭Matt. ‭11:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬]  The angel Gabriel greeted Zechariah by saying God had heard his prayer followed by the proclamation that he and his wife, though old would have a son.

Call me strange, but I expect Zechariah had not prayed for a child in a good many years.  Certainly, it had been the prayer of his youth and maybe well into middle age, but it is highly unlikely that it had been on his most recent prayer list.  Still way back when, God had heard his prayer and NOW was the time for the answer.  As Pastor Dan told us this morning, write down your prayers, your requests so you can check them off when God answers.  Then you won’t be scratching your head like Zechariah, you’ll be checking off ‘Lord, bless Elizabeth and I with a child’ or your equivalent thereof.  No wonder Zechariah scoffed at Gabriel…can’t you hear the touch of sarcasm in his remark,  ‘what? Now?’  Be careful, God closed his mouth until after the answered prayer had been accomplished and named, John.

Now I doubt Zechariah or Elizabeth were anywhere near the manger physically, seeing as how these old folks were caring for their then three month old son when the Christ Child was born.  Nevertheless, this old faithful couple played just the role God chose for them in the narrative of the nativity and the life of Christ.

Watch out for folks who seem cut off from the joy of Christmas.  Speak to strangers.  Offer assistance.  Ask someone older for help or to go shopping or invite someone to share a conversation or a meal.  It is so easy to fall into being with folks we know, that our circle becomes tight and those on the fringes go unnoticed.  Don’t be a STRANGER.  Let Christ be in Christmas through how You and I treat ALL people this season.

And by the way…

Reach out to  the grumpy old people—wait a minute–I am one of those.  That’s ok, sometimes I need a reminder of what Christmas really is about, too.