My son, his girlfriend, Ellie and I did the Alaska State Fair once more yesterday.
From giant pumpkins to prize pigs . . . 4H steers to human slingshots . . . Ferris wheels to cabbage fairies . . . corn-dogs to concerts . . . an endless Fun-4-All collection of crafts, cuisine, creatures, amusements and vendors throngs of friends and family delighted in sharing together.
Driving home it struck me . . . during the hours we spent there yesterday, not once did I observe a harsh word exchanged or an unhappy face . . . smiles, laughter, and pleasantness were the order of the day. It was as though everyone had checked their personal agendas at the gate to enjoy sharing life together . . . a welcome respite from the argumentative, divisive social genre all to prevalent today. Wish everyone could purchase a season’s pass to such fleeting harmonious humanity.
Here’s a few pics of the fun and frolic we participated in. Wish y’all coulda’ joined us.
Laughter is free, non-prescription, effective medicine. Studies show laughter:
1. Lowers stress levels
2. Boosts the immune system
3. Promotes a positive outlook
4. Improves heart health
5. Stimulates your organs
6. Is an easy, fun workout
8. Boosts your mood
Twenty-six rainy days last month, and another one to begin September . . . tends to dampen spirits a tad. I think it got to my son. Out on the lake the other day he implied I didn’t seem to have it all together . . . appeared somewhat ‘dis-jointed’ . . . and take some really weird photos. Don’t understand that kid. I’ll blame it on genetics, and pray it skips a generation 😊
The Hebrew language richly conveys feeling, intent, and emotion. Shalom, the Hebrew word for peace, is my favorite. It’s used to greet and bid farewell to people, but expresses an all-encompassing peace that is so much more.
Strong’s Concordance defines Shalom as completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, and the absence of agitation or discord . . . today’s world is in dire need of an infusion of Shalom.
Shalom is displayed on our well house. A few years back it prompted a humorous encounter. Arriving home from town one afternoon, a note with a phone number was on our door, “Please call us.”
I called, and a friendly voice answered, thanking me for calling back. Identifying himself as a rabbi, he explained that he and another rabbi had been exploring the rural environs of the Matanuska Borough seeking fellow Jews to invite to their recently established synagogue in Wasilla, AK. They noticed Shalom on our well house and had left the note on our door.
“Are you Jewish?“, the rabbi asked.
“No,” I politely replied, “but my boss is a Jewish carpenter.”
“Could you give us his name?”, he responded.
“Jesus”, I said with a smile . . . he immediately realized I wasn’t a frozen chosen candidate for his congregation 😊
Sometime later I met the rabbi at his synagogue’s booth at the Alaska State Fair and we shared smiles together.
Last evening Shalom silently embraced my soul as the Creator placed an effulgent patch of rainbow across the lake to end the day.
Awakening this morning, Shalom’s peace lingered. Stoking up the woodstove and pouring a steaming cup of coffee, I sat astonished beyond comprehension pondering how, despite the self-hatred of my countless past felonious faults, failures and foibles, and those I may make today in the future . . . I’ll forever remain my Abba’s beloved child.
Opening the You VersionBible app, this Shalom tribute formed in my thoughts . . .
S H A L O M
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
“In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.”
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
“I have told you these things that you may have peace.In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
“Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and glory are in His sanctuary”.
My rusted old watering can has sprung a leak. Over the years we’ve nurtured and raised many summers of vibrant flowerbeds together.
Having attained an advanced state of maturity???😊, and a tad rusted out myself, I’m not a big throw-away fan. I can remember my grandfather having me straighten out used nails . . . frugality on steroids! Sooooo, replacing my old watering with a new, rust-proof, sleek plastic model isn’t an option . . . Flex-seal to the rescue! Successfully patched, we’re back watering flowerbeds again.
My restoration project reminded me of a story I reflect on for encouragement during times when past regrets threaten to crowd out present joys, pondering if my life’s purpose is to merely serve as a good bad example😊
During those less than a ‘10’, discouraging detours along life’s journey, here it is for encouragement, believing that He who brings “…beauty for ashes…” created you on purpose for a purpose.
The Cracked Pot
A water-bearer had two pots, each hung on opposite ends of a pole he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it. The other was perfect, always delivering a full portion of water at the end of a long walk from the stream to the Master’s house. The cracked pot always arrived half-full. Each day for two years, at the end of the long journey from the stream to the master’s house, the water-bearer delivered only one and a half pots of water.
The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishment to fulfill the purpose for which it had been made. The poor cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection, miserable that it had only been able to accomplish half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what was perceived as a bitter failure, the unhappy, broken pot spoke to the water-bearer at the stream.
“I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”, the pot said.
“Why?”, asked the water-bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”
“For the past two years I have been able to deliver only half my load because the crack in my side causes the water to leak out all the way back to your Master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all this work and don’t get full value from your efforts,” the broken pot said.
The water-bearer felt sorry for the old, cracked pot, and in his compassion said, “As we return to the Master’s house today, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”
As they went back up the path, the broken pot cheered up a bit observing the lovely flowers blooming in the sunlight along the path’s side. However, upon reaching the Master’s house, realizing it had leaked out half its load once again, the broken pot’s despondency returned, and so it apologized again to the water-bearer for its failure.
The water-bearer said to pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I have taken advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day, as we have walked back from the stream to the Master’s house, you have watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my Master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, He would not have this beauty to grace His house with.”
Politics are not my thing. However, the combative tenure of the elections occurring in Alaska and Wyoming today is discouraging. Radical contention has replaced reasonable compromise. The “One Nation Under God” our founding fathers envisioned is sadly becoming two nations under political division.
As an octogenarian I’ve been privileged to witness times when “reaching across the aisle” was often the political norm, not the exception, and I grieve for the political tenure our children are inheriting. I continue to pray for our Nation’s leaders in both parties to contemplate their agendas with a “We” not “Me” focused perspective.
That said, I came across the story below about a former politician whose “We” political perspective was refreshingly encouraging, and pass it along optimistic that our Nation can come together and heal . . .
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14
Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia
During the worst days of Great Depression and all of World War II, five-foot 4-inch Fiorello LaGuardia was the mayor of New York City. A colorful character, dubbed the “Little Flower” by his adoring constituents for the carnation he always wore in his lapel, he was known to ride New York City fire engines; accompany the police on speakeasy raids; take entire orphanages to baseball games; and read the Sunday funnies to children on the radio whenever the New the New newspapers were on strike.
One bitterly cold, January night in 1935 mayor LaGuardia showed up at a night court in the city’s poorest ward. Dismissing the judge for the evening he took over the bench. A raggedy old woman, charged with stealing a loaf of bread was brought before him. Pleading her case, she told the mayor her sick daughter and two children had been abandoned by her husband, and her grandchildren were starving.
The shopkeeper from whom she had stolen the bread refused to drop the charges. “It’s a bad neighborhood your Honor. She needs to be punished to teach people around here a lesson!”
LaGuardia sighed and addressed the woman. “I’ve got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions. Ten dollars or ten days in jail.” As he pronounced the sentence he reached into his pocket and tossed a 10 dollar bill into his famous sombrero.
“Here’s the ten dollar fine, which I now remit; furthermore, I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant.”
The next day New York City newspapers reported $47.50 was collected and given to the gratefully bewildered old lady who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren, 50 cents of which was contributed to the embarrassed, red-faced shopkeeper. The seventy some petty criminals, people with traffic violations, and New York City policemen present in the courtroom that evening, each who had paid 50 cents the mayor ordered, gave him a standing ovation.
A friend in the Lower 48 brought a smile to my face when they asked, “What is determination dust?”
It’s called termination dust, and refers to the first snow that appears on Alaskan mountaintops signaling the end of summer. Actually, termination dust is an oxymoronic term . . . many Last Frontier mountains are covered with snow year round.
Anyhoo . . . I stepped out on the deck this morning to snap a couple pics of this ‘dust’ you can ski on for those of you who may not have experienced it. As I did so, an eagle was soaring above the mountains about a mile away . . . far beyond the range my basic $300 35mm camera’s capabilities of capturing with any clarity. But . . . for youse guys blessed with ‘eagle eye’ vision . . . see if you can spot our national symbol in the Termination Dust #1 pic before viewing the Termination Dust and Eagle pic. If you’re still having difficulty seeing ‘ole’ Baldy, I hear Wal *Mart is offering a special on glasses with a free vision exam
Each time I see an eagle, His assurance in Isaiah 40:31 comes to mind:
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagle; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
After nearly 80 years on the planet, walking has become a tad easier than running, but waiting is still not my forte