Brokenness


This morning this klutso inadvertently bumped into a painted bracket fungus with a pastoral scene hanging on the wall. It fell to the floor, breaking into three pieces . . . Arrrrrgh!

Bought four decades ago, the painting of an actual Central Square, NY barn built in 1830 evokes fond memories of an earlier era in my life . . . Gorilla Glue to the rescue . . . bracket fungus patched 😊. Unfortunately, there’s no Gorilla Glue to patch life’s brokenness.

Pouring a fresh cup of streaming java to help sooth my fungus frustration, I settled into the Lazy Boy. Evidently, Abba wanted me to continue focusing on brokenness this morning.

Reading Fil Anderson’s book Breaking the Rules, a passage nostalgically reminded me how few struggles are more defeating than the brokenness of pretending to hide an isolating, guilty ‘secret’.

Fil shares about a talented artist friend’s discouraging rejection by a pastor of his unashamedly honest self-portrait A Broken Mask. The artist’s portrait revealed his conviction that there’s no room for pretending in a Christian’s life in an effort to change their appearance among other Christians to fit in and appear ‘holy’. Disheartened, the artist emailed Fil these poignant words:

We are told that Jesus loves us as we are, sin and all, ugly bits and worthless bits. We are quoted cliches like “Come as you are.” We are offered relief from the burden of hiding in our guilt and shame. We are offered ultimate acceptance.”

The problem begins when we step through the doors of many churches. Suddenly we’re confronted with an endless stream of things that are wrong in our lives, things to repent of, things that need changing. Meanwhile, the Bible instructs us,

“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so you can live together whole and healed.” – James 5:16

Yet nobody does it, because that would mean taking off our mask of holiness. Therefore, we live our lives jumping through imaginary hoops in order to be accepted by the very people who invited us to “Come as you are.”

Fil’s artist friend concluded his email with this bold pledge:

I refuse to wear a mask any longer! I will not pretend, not even for Christians. Wearing a mask will destroy you, even if it’s a socially acceptable Christian mask.”

Many years ago, broken and mired in the midst of yet another self-imposed failure, I repentantly cried out to God to forgive and rescue me. Ever faithful to His, “I will never leave you or forsake you” promise (Hebrews 13:5), His Spirit embraced me, giving me these words of assurance to write in the leaf of my Bible:

Well may the devil roar of sins that I have done. I know them all and thousands more. Jehovah knoweth none.”

Truth be known, we’re all broken with failures. My comfort rests in the assurance that the One who knows my every ‘secret’ failure . . . past, present and future . . . unwavering still chooses to love me “Just As I Am”. I continue to pray for His strength and courage to ‘unmask’ before others and heal together, sharing ‘secret’ struggles our enemy so delights in discouraging us with.

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

A Ragamuffin’s Regretful ‘If Only”s


‘Woulda’…’coulda’ …’shoulda’ … Life’s ‘if only’s that can block out the bright sunshine with dark stratocumulus clouds of regret. Intriguing that “if” resides smack dab in the middle of LIFE.

Regret is “If Only’s” synonym. The dictionary defines regret as, “To feel sorry, disappointed, distressed, or remorseful about. To remember with a feeling of loss or sorrow; mourn.

Ever been there? . . . total bummer! . . . not where any of us wants to spend a lot of time. The good news . . . we don’t have to!

All regrets are all past tense. They may be useful to learn from, but not to focus and dwell on. One thing I’ve learned in struggling with regrets over the past eight decades is . . .

Regrets are a place of reference, not a place of residence

Without fail, choosing to focus on my blessings always scatters regret’s ‘if only’ ominous clouds, and life’s sunshine soon comes back out to bask in.

Sure wish I’d learned this a long time ago. My German grandmother was spot on whenever she observed me about to hatch yet another regret (regretfully a frequent occurrence 😊), and would sternly, but lovingly reprimand . . . “Freddy, you’re too soon old and too late smart!” . . . I’m still working on the latter 😊

In her book The Top Five Regrets of The Dying palliative nurse Bonnie Ware poignantly lists the five most common regrets of ole duffers (some actually older than me😊) facing the imminent reality we all like to bury in the background, but will ultimately unearth and come face-to-face with one day . . . I’m actually gonna’ die!!!

Here’s the five terminal regrets Bonnie discovered folks at eternity’s threshold wrestle with:

  • I Wish I’d Lived a Life True to Myself, Not the Life Others Expected of Me
  • I Wish I Hadn’t Worked so Hard
  • I Wish I’d Had the Courage to Express My Feelings
  • I Wish I Had Stayed in Touch With My Friends
  • I Wish I Had Allowed Myself to Be Happier

In this New Year may we all turn these wishes into actions while we’re still blessed with the time to do so.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it .”

Psalm 118:24

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to come!

Water’s Frozen Physics


Physics 101 teaches that heat causes expansion, cold contraction. Thus, hot air is less dense than cold air and rises, while cold air sinks.

Not water . . . this indispensable renegade of physics possesses the unique property of being denser in liquid form than in solid, so ice floats . . . Good thing! . . . otherwise bodies of water would freeze from the bottom up eradicating the sport of ice fishing, and necessitating scuba gear to go ice skating 😊

But . . . why do hot water pipes freeze before cold water pipes?  . . . merely to aggravate homeowners and boost the respect, and income, of plumbers?

Physics 102 explains this frustrating wintertime phenomenon . . . the higher the temperature the more difficult it is for ice crystals to form, causing the water in hot water pipes to super-cool below 32 degrees and freeze faster than in cold water pipes.

Guess whose hot water pipes froze during the recent frigid blast? . . . Congratulations! . . . you just aced Clairvoyant 101 😊

The good news . . . opening doors under the sink; letting spigots drip; and a couple of strategically placed space heaters gratefully alleviated the problem . . . Hooray! . . . definitely preferable to being consigned to a regimen of ice-cold showers 😊

Here’s a ‘nice ice’ pic taken in the creek outside where it belongs and can freeze away! Stay warm, and

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Brrrrrrrrr!


50 Degree Rhododendron

Zero Degree Rhododendron

The Great Smoky Mountains has joined much of our nation’s pre-Christmas frigid cold snap . . . the coldest temperatures recorded here in a quarter century!

At our digs up here on the mountain > down in the ‘holler’ > over the ‘crick’, the temperature plummeted from near 50 degrees last evening to flirt with zero this morning . . . an ‘invigorating’ touch of the Last Frontier😊

Unlike her unhinged Alaskan hubby, my refined New Orleans spouse isn’t a ‘cool’ temp aficionado. I explained to her that there is really no such thing as cold weather, just improper clothing. She tacitly complied by layering herself in a decorous assortment of stockings, sweatpants and sweaters (pic strictly forbidden!)😊

Evidently, rhododendrons prefer warmer climes as well, and shrink from ‘cool’ temps as the pics indicate. BTW, don’t nibble on their leaves. They have high severity poison characteristics . . . that reminds me . . . I need to check my dinner salad tonight😊

May this Christmas find you surrounded by friends and family rejoicing together in His birth that conquered death. Smile😊. . . . and stay warm, happy, and healthy.

MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!

The Gift of Others


Christmas blessings from our home to yours. In whatever circumstances and wherever this may reach you, may it find you and yours resting assured in knowing His Best is Yet to Come!

This momentary adventure called Life is more often experienced in its valleys than on the mountaintops. Suffice it to say my 2022’s sojourn was one mingled with both the depths of failure and the heights of victory. The former of was regretfully of my own doings, the latter was gratefully attributable to:

  • God’s unmerited mercy, grace, and forgiveness
  • Others unmerited acceptance, encouragement, and prayers

Bottom line, this Christmas season thankfully finds Ellen and I still here happily fogging a mirror together, albeit with perhaps a tad less vigor and a few more wrinkles than in days of yore😊

You are one of the many special individuals who astonishingly follow my blog 😊. . . special not because you follow my blog for sure 😊, but special because one or more of your blog posts and/or comments have encouraged and blessed me, and made a difference. Thank you!

A retired pastor friend in Alaska recently sparked a thought of a way this Christmas to reciprocate the Gift of Others you, and countless others, have so graciously blessed me with throughout life. He suggested, “Ask them if there’s something on their heart you can pray for them about.”

Not just another quick, shallow, from the lips “I’ll pray for you” prayer, but a thoughtful, deep prayer from the heart to the One whose heart hears and answers each and every prayer in His time and way, both in Life’s valleys and on its mountaintops.

One of the glorious luxuries of retirement is time, and I’m blessed to be able luxuriate in it. So, if there’s something on your heart you feel you can trust me to pray for from my heart, in absolute total Thee – Me – He confidentiality, I’d be privileged and blessed to do so.

I’m forever grateful for the crucial piece you represent in my Life’s bewildering mosaic God chose to place there . . . it fits! Thank you for making a difference.

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Merry Christmas!!!

Fred, Ellen and Bullwinkle

Delightfully Delusional


Yesterday marked my 29,220 day on terra firma . . . it’s weird being the same age as old people! 😊

My younger, ever-patient spouse, who has tread this planet a mere 25,553 days, consoled me by baking a scrumptious Hummingbird birthday cake (pure manna!), and giving me a shiny, new coffee percolator to ensure the caffeine shot required to jump start my ticker each morning is delivered.  

However, the ultimate age defying technique to prolong youth is RAP . . . not the Snoop Dog rapper form of chanted, rhythmic, street vernacular music ???, but Ole Freddy’s delusional form of Reciprocal Age Perspective.

It’s simple . . . instead of logically attempting to fit 80 candles on a cake and risk setting the house on fire, I become dyslexically delusional, convincing myself I’m 8! . . . can’t wait until next year when I’m 18 again . . . Ellen’s hair just turned 2 shades grayer 😊

Smile 😊😊😊, and  . . .

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Nature’s Soul Therapy


Sunlight shafts illuminating ethereal mists of a thundering mountain stream; a 6-point whitetail buck stealthily crouching in a thicket to avoid detection; me silently crouching to avoid detection as a black bear saunters by 😟 😟 😟 . . . Nature’s soul stirring wonders to embrace wandering through the Great Smoky Mountains.

The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

Psalm 118:23

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Thanksgiving Gratitude


Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Two lives diverged along life’s journey and, in the time we walked together, you made a difference in mine . . . Thank You

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Wherever and with whomever this may find you together with this Thanksgiving, may you experience His richest blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving !!!

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

How Big is Little?


Today our world’s population reached 8 billion . . . Happy Birthday World!

It’s estimated 8 billion grains of sand would fill 8,000 cups and weigh 2 ½ tons. Recently, while I was counting sheep snuggled against my pillow, a group of obviously wide-awake researchers at the University of Hawaii estimated there are seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion (7.5 x 1018 ) grains of sand on earth . . . that’s Big!

but . . .

When you consider that all the grains of sand in the world are dwarfed by the number of stars in the universe . . . that’s astronomically Big!

but . . .

In his book Spectrums, science writer David Blatner states this mind-boggling number of ‘twinkle-twinkles’ in the universe is quickly matched by the number of molecules in just 10 drops of water . . . that’s unfathomably Small! . . . or . . . Big???

Blattner aptly states “…we can’t handle the biggitude…” This minuscule mortal can’t handle either the ‘biggitude’ or ‘smallitude’ of Creation,

but . . . I know who can . . .

The Architect of each grain of sand . . . ‘twinkle-twinkle’ . . . and molecule of water.

Soooooo . . . I contentedly fall asleep each night snuggled against my pillow counting sheep knowing, among the 8 billion people I share this planet with, this littlest one is His biggest favorite . . .

PS – so are you, and each one of the other, 7,999,000,000,000 souls He knows by name.

When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man, that Thou are mindful of him, and the Son of man, that Thou hast visited him?

Psalm 8:3-4

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!