A 2020 Christmas 2nd Cup of Coffee: THERE’S THAT STAR AGAIN!

“Hey, check this out. Now they’re calling us Magi.” Balthazar looked amused.

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“Get outta town.” The others exaggerated a visual sweep of their tented camp situated among seemingly endless dunes of desert sand, then glanced over at Melchior. Artemis, their chief of security, chuckled politely. Unabashed, Mel said, “Well, yeah, point taken. But you know what I mean.”

Nodding, Bal sighed. “I know. That last bazaar where we replenished? They were spreading around we’re kings from, I don’t know, somewhere they’ve never heard of.” Shaking his head, he sipped some thick, rich chocolate-infused coffee one of Mel’s companies marketed he’d taken a liking to, then leaned back on the cushions.

He went on. “You’d think everyone with any intelligence would want to be learning, seeking, researching, applying, and adding to what they know. I mean, the gods have blessed me with the understanding of numbers and the ability to acquire gold and precious gems, to trade in oils and other goods, and guide others in doing the same. That gives me the time and freedom to do what we’re doing right now: to search known texts and seek to verify what they contain.”

Gaspar sat quietly listening. Each of the wise men joining this mission from the gods through ancient writings, studying the stars, and guidance of dreams were sensitive to spiritual leadings. Each, through different means, had done much the same. Yet of them all, they acknowledged Gaspar as the true old soul, the mystic among them, a man of solitude and thought. He was a writer of poems and mysteries, the philosopher-counselor of the team whose ear and spirit seemed most attuned to the frequencies of the heavens.

My Experience Glamping at a Morocco Desert Camp

Melchior was the most practical Type A business head of the group, building up his pharmacy into several adjoining city states. He got along best with Chun because of the former’s understanding of herbs and healing arts, a mutual business arrangement turning out to be a lucrative collaboration for them both.

Balthazar spaced out for a few seconds, watching the lamp flames and the fire guttering softly in the night breezes that always moved like desert wraiths among them as they gathered around a firepit following each day’s travel. “By the way, where’s Doc? He usually has his ear to the ground.”

Artemis perked up. “Oh, he turned in already. You know how it is with codgers; they—” From a nearby tent came a reedy, strangely-accented voice: “Have you not heard that one’s honorable ears are last thing to fall asleep? And this codger capable of pulling your nostrils inside-out and making macrame knot.”

Snickering, Bal glanced quickly up at Artemis, then around the circle. It seemed everyone’s eyes were studiously averted, except for Gaspar. He sat as quietly as ever, yet with a sardonic humor in his gaze. No one gathered around the central fire doubted Chun could do it. Easily the oldest of the wise men and the one having traveled the farthest in pursuit of the strange star, even Artemis knew the seemingly ageless, mostly kind, soft-spoken Oriental physician was a good man to leave alone.

Arabian Mocha Sanani – THE VAULT COFFEEHOUSE LLC

After a few seconds of that kind of silence, Bal cleared his throat after another sip of the private-reserve mocha. “So, how much farther d’you suppose is the place where this child-king was born? This is turning out to be quite the trip. I’m guesstimating at least another full moon or more.”

Gaspar: “I, too, estimate another month. According to the ancient scrolls of the Habiru, we are close.” Melchior nodded. “I’m figuring the same, though we might need to do a little sleuthing to find out exactly where he and his parents are right now.”

Gaspar’s eyes lifted and he gazed directly into the three other mens’ eyes in turn. “Herod?” Melchior silently agreed, and Artemis got a bleak look in his eyes. “Yeah, there was something hinky about that dude. While you guys were dining with ‘im at the front table, I slipped out to visit with some of Kingy’s troops . . .”

Mel raised his chin toward the veteran security man. “And?”

Herod and the Wise Men

“And they can’t stand ‘im. They say they can’t trust–here he made air quotes–“HAY-rod”, that he’s a pathological liar and we shouldn’t believe he’ll do anything other than what he thinks is best for him. He’s power-mad and has anyone killed who he thinks threatens his reign. Including his troops”

Melchior bobbed his head once. “I got the same vibes. You guys?” All in the circle agreed. “Okay, then – that star will have left the bazaar after we’ve delivered our gifts to the little King’s family.”

The men reclined quietly for a few seconds. The rusking of the desert wind across ageless sand, the tinkling of tiny bells on camel halters, the singing, weird whine of the wind across taut rope tie-downs, and the myriad small mutterings and groans of all the beasts as they slept, combined to produce a comforting background of dune music to which the travelers had all become accustomed.

Balchior roused himself. “Hey, Mel, you got any more of that whatchacallit chocolate coffee mixed up?”

“It’s Arabian Mocha Hanani. You bet. How about the rest of you?” As he poured out the savory drink into four of the hammered copper cups he’d brought along from one of his suppliers, Gaspar quietly rose and began serving his fellow travelers, holding the filigreed tray carefully so no one spilled. Sensing eyes on him, he scanned around him and found Artemis observing his actions.

As he bent and offered the hard-bitten veteran security chief his cup of the fragrant, hot coffee, he hesitated, his raised eyebrows asking the silent question. Embarrassed, Artemis gruffly said, “I oughta be serving you, Sir.”

Squatting and adjusting his beautiful robes, Gaspar addressed Artemis as his equal: “The gods have said that he who would be first among you must be your servant.” His statement seemed to ring in the night air. All the others in the circle stared at him.

Melchior quietly remarked, “I’m not real good at that. Where’d you hear that?” Bal agreed: “Yeah. That’s like, deep stuff. C’mon, give.”

Gaspar raised his eyes to look at the starry ceiling, then turned his head to focus on The Star that had led each of these men, first separately, then together, to embark on this journey that was already changing their lives.

He dropped his gaze back to look Artemis in the eye, then rose and returned to where his pillows were stacked. Once again reclining and carefully picking up his cup of Mel’s great brew, he scanned the others, then looked again up at the Star. “Funny you should ask. It was one evening as we were resting from the day’s travel. I was . . . exhausted and, I’m afraid, a bit surly with the camel drivers. I spoke loudly and harshly to them for what I perceived as them being lazy and inattentive.”

Was the Star of Bethlehem Actually Venus? | Live Science

Gaspar hesitated, and his voice thickened. “It seemed to me a voice of the gods resonated within me and caused me to look up at the Star. It looked to me as if that Star flickered in even greater brightness as I heard those words — ‘He who would be first among you must be your servant.”

Once again, this proud, wise, knowledgeable man on whose words and counsel so many others depended was quiet, and tears rolled silently as he again spoke. “I got up, walked back to where the camel drivers and tenders were watering their herd and starting to prepare their evening meal. Expecting to be chastened again, they stared as I removed my fine outer robes, laid them aside, and picked up a watering bucket to begin giving both them and their animals a drink.”

The guttering of the fire was all anyone nearby could have heard, for the rest of the stunned circle was silent. Finally, Bal couldn’t stand it any longer.
“What’d they say?”

“Nothing. Neither did I, for I was deeply embarrassed, yet purposed I would be the servant which the Star had directed me to become.” Here, Gaspar’s gaze took on the strange, penetrating gleam the others had by now learned to respect. “And, the gods helping me, I shall never again treat any fellow man as one beneath me, nor ever again take advantage of another’s kindness. That Star, my friends, has forever changed me.”

The group sat in empowered silence then, each considering the potent wisdom they’d just shared. They each were thinking of the hundreds of pounds of gifts they’d been carrying with them to offer to the little King and his parents . . .

Balthazar, the Arabian money guy, brought to them gold and precious gems, understanding this young displaced family would need funds to live on until Joseph could return to Nazareth Furniture, Inc. and begin working full time again . . .

Gaspar, the Indian mystic and spiritual guru, brought to them many pounds of his own collected private blend of powdered spices he labeled ‘incense’, which he burned daily in the morning stillness as he sought the wisdom and truth of the gods . . .

Melchior, the Persian businessman, a rich pharmacist brought to them a precious mix of topical ingredients marketed as ‘Myrrh’. Also fragrant, its primary use was to treat wounds, delay sepsis, and as an ointment to prepare the deceased for burial. Considered by some as the merthiolate of its day, it was perhaps the most needful of all the gifts for a young boy growing up around his father’s tools. Oh, yeah, Mary was going to need Mel’s first-aid kit. And Joe, who’d hired on at Bethlehem Furniture? Yep.

And Chun, the mysterious Oriental doctor who knew how to mix all the others’ gifts in the correct proportions and patiently teach young Mary how to do likewise.

The Star of Bethlehem can be seen in the sky after 800 years

It was as if they all knew the Star was guiding them toward a future none of them would ever see, but which would be forever altered because each of them dared to step out of their familiar lives and embark on a journey for all Time and Eternity.

© D. Dean Boone, December 2020

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A 2nd Cup 2020 CHRISTMAS IQ TEST

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Find your Christmas IQ, and forward to friends and family so they can find theirs! No cheating! (That’s not the Christmas spirit! But the answers are at the bottom) May these precious moments put more sock in your stocking, more egg in your nog, and more curl in your bow…

Each answer is a title from a famous Christmas song:

1. A dude made of Frozen Water named for Wendy’s dessert drink (10 points)

2. Why Rudolph can’t get insurance (10 points)

3. Globalizing dishwashing detergent (10 points)

4. He who doesn’t talk at the Round Table (10 points)

5. Southern ladies in AARP (10 points)

Bonus: The song of septuplets (25 points)

ANSWERS:

1. “Frosty the Snowman” (10 points)

2. “Grandma Got Runover By a Reindeer” (10 points)

3. “Joy to the World!” (10 points)

4. “Silent Night (Knight!)” (10 points)

5. “Silver Bells (Belles!)” (10 points)

BONUS “What Child is this?” (25 points)

=======================================

TOTAL SCORE

75 points = Some would say you’re a Christmas genius. Others would say you really need to get a life.

50 – 65 points = You probably cheated…but hey, way to go. You must really like “The Far Side”

30 – 40 points = Good job. Your Christmas I.Q. is way above average.

10 – 20 points = You’re normal. Be grateful.

0 points = Thanks for playing. Try again next year…

Reposted – d. dean boone, december 2020

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2nd Cup of Coffee for 12/13/20: THE BULLY TOO CLOSE TO HOME: A Guest Article

I know good writing when I see it.  I know transparency when I encounter it.  This article has them both.  A young friend shared this and I believe its message powerful enough to lay aside what I have in mind to pass this on to you.

I dare you to read it with your heart, mind and spirit unguarded.  You’ll try to get defensive.

Don’t.  This is one post every one of us needs.  Yeah–that includes you.

The Bully Too Close to Home by Rachel Stafford

“Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.”–Brene Brown

During the two years of my overly distracted life, I communicated more to a screen than to the people in my family. My schedule was so tightly packed that I constantly found myself saying, “We don’t have time for that.” And because there wasn’t a minute to spare, that meant no time to relax, be silly, or marvel at interesting wonders along our path. I was so focused on my “agenda” that I lost sight of what really mattered.

Calling all the shots was a mean voice in my head. My internal drill sergeant was continually pushing me to make everything sound better, look better, and taste better. My body, my house, and my achievements were never good enough. Holding myself to such unattainable standards weighed heavily on my soul and my inner turmoil eventually spilled out at people I loved the most.

Sadly, there was one person in particular who bore the brunt of my discontent: my first-born daughter.

Coffee - Spilled2

She could not make a mess without me shaking my head in disappointment.

She could not forget her homework, her jacket, or her lunchbox without me making a big deal about it.

She could not spill,
stain,
break,
or misplace
without being made to feel like she’d made the worst mistake in the world.

Although it pains me to write this, I remember sighing heavily in annoyance when she fell down and hurt herself because it threw me off my “master schedule.” My daughter was not allowed to be a child who learned by trying and yes, sometimes failing.

The truth hurts, but the truth heals … and brings me closer to the person and parent I want to be.

Every time I came down hard on my daughter, I justified my behavior by telling myself I was doing it to help her—help her become more responsible, capable, efficient, and prepare for the real world.

I told myself I was building her up.

But in reality, I was tearing her down.

I vividly remember the day my mother was visiting from out-of-town. The children were playing alone in the basement. My younger daughter began crying hysterically. I ran downstairs fearing she was seriously hurt.

The first question out of my mouth was directed at my older daughter. “What did you do?” I asked angrily.

My child didn’t bother to explain that her little sister had slipped on the library book that was sitting on the bottom step. There really was no point. My beautiful child with humongous brown eyes that once held so much optimism looked defeated. Silent tears of a broken spirit slid down her face. My daughter knew it didn’t matter what she said, she’d still be wrong; it would still be her fault.

And there was my mother standing beside her, a silent witness to the whole ugly scene.

As my older daughter ran off to the sanctity of her bedroom, an unexpected question came out of my mouth. “You think I am too hard on her, don’t you?” I snapped.

My mom, who’d experienced her own difficult parenting moments and struggles, held no judgment in her eyes, only sadness. Her simple response of “yes” only confirmed what I knew in my heart.

I mustered up the courage to find the words that needed to be said. Apologizing didn’t come easily for someone who strived to make everything look perfect all the time, but I knew what needed to be said.

I found my child crumpled up like a dejected rag doll on top of her bed—her face puffy and red from crying.

“I’m sorry,” I mumbled.

My daughter didn’t move.

I sat down on the edge of her bed and began saying things I’d never said to another human being—not even myself. “I feel mad inside a lot. I often speak badly about myself in my head. I bully myself. And when I bully myself, it makes me unhappy and then I treat others badly—especially you. It is not right, and I am going to stop. I am not sure how, but I will stop. I am so very sorry,” I vowed trying not to cry.

My daughter looked unsure as to what to do with this confession, this unusual offering from her mother who rarely admitted any wrongdoing. I didn’t blame her for the skeptical look she gave me. I understood why she didn’t say anything back, but somewhere in those eyes I saw hope—hope that things could be different.

I desperately wanted things to be different too. It was time to stop being so hard on my child; it was time to stop being so hard on myself. I prayed I could stand up to the inner bully. I knew I needed an easy first step. I decided to use one simple word: STOP.

Within the hour, I had a chance to try it. The first critical thought that popped into my head arose as I was preparing to leave the house. I looked at my reflection and thought, “You look fat. You can’t go out looking like that.”

Stop!” I assertively thought to myself, shutting down any further criticisms. Then I quickly turned away from the mirror and recited these words: “Only love today. Only love today.”

I used the same strategy when interacting with my child a few minutes later. Before any harsh words came out of my mouth about the way she was sloppily packing her bag of things, I cut off my inner critic by saying, “Stop! Only love today.” Then I swallowed the hurtful words and relaxed my disapproving face.

Within mere days of using the “stop” technique, I noticed a change. With a more positive thought process, it was easier to let go of the need to control, dictate, and criticize. In response, my daughter began taking more chances and began revealing her true passions. She started movie making and website design on the computer. She made doll furniture and clothing to sell in the neighborhood. She began baking new recipes without any help. Nothing she did was perfect. Nor was it mess-free or mistake-free, but the moment I said something positive, I saw her blossom a little more. That is when I began to clearly see beyond the mistakes and messes to what was truly important.

I began noticing my child’s inner beauty rather than looking for perfection on the outside.

I began paying more attention to the person she was rather than the successes she achieved.

I began letting her be who she was meant to be instead of some idealistic version I had in my head.

When I stopped being a bully to my child and myself opportunities for growth and connection opened up. Over time, significant progress was made. In a little less than two years on my journey to let go of perfection and distraction, I received the confirmation I never thought I would receive.

My daughter was outside before school tending to a garden she created smack dab in the middle of the yard. I watched from the kitchen window as she lovingly tended to her miniature plot. I was captivated by the utter joy on her face. She was clearly at peace.

Since my dad loves to garden and had taught my daughter a few things, I took a picture and sent my parents. Nothing could have prepared me for the gift I would receive in return.

My parents wrote: “Thank for this precious picture of our beautiful granddaughter. Over the last two years, we have seen a tremendous change in her. We no longer see a scared look in her eyes; she is less fearful about you being upset or impatient with her. She is much happier and more relaxed. She is thriving and growing into a content, creative, and nurturing person. We know for a fact the changes we see in her coincide with the changes we have also seen in you.”

My friends, I have the following message to offer anyone who wants to believe today can be different than yesterday:

If you think that criticizing, belittling, or critiquing yourself will make you smarter, fitter, or more valuable, please reconsider.

If you think badgering, bullying, or constantly correcting your child will make him or her more likable, more confident, or more successful, please reconsider.

Because the truth is this:

It’s hard to love yourself with a bully breathing down your neck.

It’s hard to love yourself when the one person who’s supposed love you unconditionally doesn’t.

It’s hard to become the person you’re supposed to be when you aren’t allowed to fall down and get back up.

If we want our children to become who they’re meant to be, let’s ease up. “Nobody’s perfect” can be two of the most empowering, healing words when said to oneself or to another human being.

Let’s stop the ridicule. Let’s stop the relentless pressure. Let’s stop the impossible pursuit of perfection.

Only love today, my friends. Only love today.

Because love is always a good place to start a new beginning.

———————-

Told you.  

With all the unknowns, stress and trauma this year of 2020 has brought us, I found this archived Christmastime message touching. I hope it somehow helps; you know I rarely share a guest’s writing. Now–pass this along.  And thanks, young sister, for investing this.  Not everything gets here; only the best I can find.  This certainly qualifies.

Originally posted by 2nd Cup of Coffee on December 16, 2013. Article quoted copyrighted separately by Rachel Stafford.

© D. Dean Boone, December 2020

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A Veteran’s Day 2nd Cup, 11/7/2020: WE LOST ANOTHER ONE OF OUR OWN

I wrote this June 9th, 2006, to remember a fellow veteran of Alaskan radar sites. It is more than to mark one man’s passing. By repeating this, I hope to spotlight the service of generations of American Air Force, Navy, and Army specialists, along with civilian FAA and Weather Service personnel during the Cold War years.

From 1947 until 1991, American USAF Air Defense and Army Air Defense Artillery specialists went to Alaska, Iceland, and Greenland for 12- or 18-month long tours of duty. They filled a vital role as part of North America’s early detection and warning system during those years; yet because their work was classified usually Secret and above, few outside their closed fellowship of scope dopes and USAF-trained killers knew anything about those repeated PCS tours to some of Earth’s most inhospitable places.

Because these specialists were highly trained, the Air Force did its best to retain them. Both ground and airborne control and warning personnel were enthusiastically courted to reup. The Air Defense Command being a fairly closed community, all personnel in every specialty could expect at least one 12-month isolated remote tour during any 4-year hitch.

Tin City… Kotzebue… Galena… Cape Romanzof… Tatalina… Thule… King Salmon… Adak… Cold Bay… Shemya…

During the Korea and Vietnam conflicts – all enveloped within the larger framework of the Cold War – the duty in places like these was harsh. All the buildings were of World War 2 vintage, and many were literally tied down with heavy twisted-steel cables to keep them from being blown into the Arctic Sea by the wild, sub-zero winds. Some of the long-range surveillance and control sites featured mountain-top experiences unlike any other on the planet; the radars themselves were up on rugged, wind-scoured mountain summits. The support and living quarters were down below, and the two were loosely connected by trams.

If you were never there, you wouldn’t understand ‘loosely’. If you were, no explanation is necessary.

I add these few facts to point up the tremendous price paid by these men and their families back in The World. The divorce rate for our career field stayed right around 60%.

“Our?” Yes. I was one of those Cold Warriors.

Imagine yourself in an old wooden barracks built sometime around 1942. Standard colors everywhere are bile green, curdled cream, government grey, and olive drab. In your room, you have exposed pipes making the top bunk a dicey idea. If an NCO, you have your own room, so the top bunk becomes storage. The steam heat from an old, ticking and popping radiator struggles to keep you warm, and you keep an old coffee can full of water on it to cut down on the possibility of fire, and make breathing easier. Outside your window is a homemade box with rabbit screen as the outside wall. Who needs a freezer in Alaska? Inside that window, a painted-canvas blackout blind is installed to allow restful darkness during the sun’s seasonal games of ring-around-the-rosy. All buildings are connected by heated passageways; you don’t have to set foot outside if you so choose. You soon realize you definitely choose if at all possible, for there is no place that will haunt you with its stark, rugged beauty like Alaska.

If fortunate enough to have a radio or AC/DC TV, all you receive is Armed Forces Radio & Television Service. You learn to like Japanese westerns: Godzilla Meets ___________. There are no commercials other than service-related info.

The sites are just large enough to continue the mission. Resupply and mail is by transport or contract aircraft, except for when weather minimums restrict flying. Then it’s either by barge if they can get through the ice, or you make do. Powdered ice cream, eggs, and milk really aren’t that bad. Yes, they were a little dated, but we ate. When able to get through, all phone calls are monitored and recorded by Soviet submarines or ‘research’ ships in southern international waters. Telephone or snail mail. That’s it.

We did our best to maintain military bearing and courtesy. However, airborne hostiles could show at any time, and when the alerts went off, our standard uniform was whatever we happened to be wearing, or could get on the quickest. I ran more than one intercept in jeans, a flannel shirt, and some folded-down Apache moccasins.

It’s my hope that these few recollections help open your understanding for when you see a veteran wearing apparel that identifies him or her as a Cold War veteran. It was rough, gutsy, rugged duty that called for the same kind of warriors. The possibility of war being unleashed by the former USSR – yes, they even had ‘Socialist’ in their name – meant there was no such thing as down time.

Most of us are gray-haired and retired now. We’re used to the younger, electronically-leashed veterans of today being derisive, for they’ve no idea what we managed to do with so little. At the time, what we had was the best available, and we had to suck it up, and learn how to fight and win using equipment our grandsons in uniform now see only in museums.

That all being said, here, then, is that reminiscence from 2006…

Taps.

A folded flag. “On behalf of the President of the United States . . .” murmured to a surviving spouse, if one exists.

Memories of honorable service in ice-whipped, wind-scourged places most in polite society have never heard of.

The years have softened faces and blurred names, so I don’t recall Hank. Yet I know his kind. I stand in silent respect with the rest of the veterans of the Alaskan Cold War experience.

The passing of any of us diminishes all of us; those having never served at the Alaskan sites have only our recollection, our experiences to inform them.

As we fall, so do those memories. Some were sparkling, tough-humored testimony to the inventiveness and hardy spirit that’s always carried American warriors through challenging times.

Others we’d all just as soon leave buried beneath the forever-drifting ice and snow, chalking it up to hard experience, doing what needed to be done to get by, and surviving it all.

Most of the time our radar and control site experiences were more like M*A*S*H than anything else – focusing on doing our job well and getting back to The World in one piece.

The other times? They are part of those adrenalin-flooded wartime sagas that earn ribbons and medals everywhere else. Up there, few made time to even fill out the paperwork.

Many of the places men like Hank served aren’t there anymore; and those that do survive are highly automated and nothing like they were when we Cold Warriors were there.

All one has to do is stand amid the ruins of a ghost town and listen to the prairie wind sighing, whispering, and moaning through the grass to know: our time will never be again.

We took our place among the advancing stream of men and women who broke new ground, who made the way better for those who followed.

Such has always been the legacy of the American warrior.

Rest, comrade and brother. You are already missed.

Daniel Boone, Sgt, USAF – Wichita, Kansas 9 June 2006

The Cold War took American military men and women all around the world, for it was a global war that could and often did break out suddenly and fiercely at any time, in almost any place. Whenever you see an older American somehow identified as a Cold War veteran, you may assume they know two things they pray you never again see: that war wasn’t always cold; and during those times it flared up, it was nasty, ugly, and violent.

Respect them. You’ve no idea where they’ve been.

© D. Dean Boone, November 2020

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2nd Cup of Coffee, 9/30/2020: AFTER ALL, IT’S ONLY A NUMBER.

If we knew how important each year would be, we’d spend more time appreciating them.

Coffee Time GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

Happy 110th birthday, Mom. I’ve no idea how (or if) Earthside birthdays are celebrated There. I know you were always telling me how ecstatic you were when at 42, Doc Wilder in Umatilla, OR told you I was going to be your fifth child and third son.

Here I am at 68, looking back along our twin journeys. You always said since I was born on your birthday, I was your most treasured birthday gift. The first few times I heard that I felt—I don’t know how I felt.

I know I was too young to understand my dad was retirement age, and my mother was 42 and, well, me. I know my older three siblings were the age of my playmates’ parents. I know my grade school friends looked at me funny when I mentioned, “Well, I was born on my mom’s birthday!”

“SSSo, we gonna play marbles on the track or not?” “I bet I can bounce my superball higher than you can bounce yers!” “Hey, I learned how to ‘walk the dog’ with my yo-yo! Wanna see?”

18 Excellent Pictures of Marbles

Ungrateful little cretins didn’t realize they were in the presence of greatness. Either that or they knew much earlier what took me a few years to grasp. That might be it.

Considering the passage of our years in this life, a few thoughts did a tower check yesterday as I sat pondering over breakfast. The coffee was adequate. Monique kept my cup full. It was the late morning lull before lunch crush, so I got some impressions written without too many distractions.

See what you think . . .

In all our stories, we work up a narrative about ourselves, others, and our journey. The more we write or tell it, it moves slyly from fiction to fact. Then we grow up and realize we didn’t know much at all.

The reality God gently, gradually allows us to see as the years progress causes some serious amending from the immature, self-sure, smug person we were to the quieter, more understanding, compassionate individual God needed us to be along.

really really embarrassed gif | WiffleGif

Now, standing while thoughtfully scrolling back across 40- to 50-some years of our personal journeys, those paths and our choices in traveling them are creating some embarrassing, humbling, gratitude-generating resets – aren’t they?

Meanwhile, at the Village Inn, things began getting busy. A couple of the regulars, both Vietnam-era vets, slowly walked past. The first was shuffling, assisted by a cane in his right hand. I was distracted by my reading/writing, and only glanced up to make sure he was okay, then was drawn back by the gravitational pull of the above thoughts.

I stopped long enough to notice the second old warrior. He wore a faded green, rolled-sleeve flannel shirt, aging grayish-black suspenders holding up comfortably worn, fraying Levis. The reason I took a closer look at him is because of what I’d just written.

What were these two old men’s stories? I was too engrossed in my head to notice much about the first one. Subconsciously chastened, I was more careful being aware of the next.

Jim Rohn Quote: “Life is not just the passing of time ...

In a sense, they were – are – a microcosm of all of us, looking down across the years, being reminded of all the sweet and sour things we’ve been learning about ourselves and one another.

And if those bygone memories are all we have? That’s a sadness. The sum of our existence here is never comprised of all that’s behind us, for so long as God grants us, you and me, life and breath our eyes must be up and our vision sharpened for the next mission He has for us. We also have the benefit of all those years of learning and application to inform us as we move on.

After all, as I heard just this morning on a commercial: “The adventure never ends, because we’re always on our way.”

Boom. Nailed it.

© D. Dean Boone, September 2020

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Q(uiet) T(ime) M(usings)s for 9/21/2020: I THINK YOU THINK YOU KNOW WHAT YOU THOUGHT I SAID…

“I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree. “For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, so will the words that come out of My mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them. (Isaiah 55:8-11, MSG)

I sat here, brow furrowed, right eyebrow cocked slightly above the left, hesitating. At 67, I’m learning still to pause when God speaks, making sure I’m listening with the right ears. It’s possible to be hearing spirit words with fleshly ears, assigning human meaning to divine intent.

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In the ’70s, almost everyone had CB radios, and it was fun to listen to all the interesting citizen band invites to talk: “How ’bout that one Boogie Fever Man – are ya by? ‘Aye-mmm-Bravo-Foxtrot-Mike, come on back to the Retread King.”

God’s had His own call for millenia: “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen.”

So, yeah. I paused. I sipped some piping-hot, fresh-ground organic Guatemala joe. I munched on a sugary, gooey bite of BC’s monkey bread. I wanted to have the right ears on. I sipped and munched a little more, then went back and reread that Isaiah bit. “Okay, God. Where are you going with this first thing this Monday morning?” It didn’t take long.

It’s possible to be hearing spirit words with fleshly ears, assigning human meaning to divine intent.

I got directed to Paul’s counsel about our flesh interacting with God’s Otherness . . .

“Although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, CST)

I sat pondering again. Part of my daily morning ritual is to use waking- and cleaning-up time along with light exercise and workouts to pray my way around my family. My remaining elder siblings are not close to Kansas, so the easiest way to love them is to assign them and their loved ones to God’s care and protection.

Then I add my own family – BC, our kids, grandkids, and great-grands, along with their loved ones. And next come close friends whom God often puts on my heart. The result is a sizeable group of folks into whose lives and experiences it’s my privilege and mission to direct God’s grace, supply, and oversight.

2020 The Year is proving to be the weirdest of most of our lifetimes. Much of what’s been happening physically, spiritually, psychologically, even illegally, is unlike anything in so many of our experiences thus far.

We’ve all paced, ground teeth, shaken heads, and thrown hands up in disgust and unbelief at what’s been happening. More than one of us – maybe all – have said something like, “God, WHAT is going ON? Why aren’t You DOING something about this mess? Surely YOU can see what’s going on, and what to do about it!”

Of course He does. Isaiah the wizened old Hebrew prophet said it. Scroll up and read it again. “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.”

Yeah, okay, but—-

~ Sovereign and Providential God knows exactly what He’s ...

When the Holy Spirit gives you that LOOK, you feel it. So God’s not only saying, “Listen up.” He’s also penetrating your whirling thoughts, opinions, and righteous pronouncements, bringing it all to a burnt-rubber-stinky halt by saying, “You FEEL Me?”

Friend, the real battles aren’t being waged on physical war grounds. They’re spiritual battles. If you once were allowed to set eyes on the true spiritual wars being waged above and surrounding all the lying, deceitful, crazed, sick, killing, destructive stuff being done in our nation and world, you’d be bleach-white and terrified!

It’s why Paul reminds us: we’re not to be pulled into the mindless grinder of souls Hell wants us to believe is too strong for us to resist. Go check in Ephesians 6 what each of us as Christians have as our load-out of weaponry that doesn’t just repel the forces of wrong and Evil arrayed against God, His church, and His people: they’re designed specifically to DEMOLISH any weapon Hell raises against you – including every one of their high-sounding arguments, along with every proud thing and person who tirelessly raises them.

Nope. It won’t happen as you and I think it should. Won’t happen anywhere near as soon, either. We’re all going to have to remember God doesn’t operate according to Time; He always acts according to what I call His perfect Now. We all are just going to have to accept that part.

In the meantime, you keep those daily prayers for YOUR loved ones and others close to you going out to where God is. Yes, He’s paying attention; He’s keeping perfect records of all of it, and as He knows it’s the right time to act, you can trust Him to make it all happen exactly as it should.

Remember: with God, there’s NO such thing as impossible.

God’s got this.

© D. Dean Boone, September 2020

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A Sunday 2nd Cup, 9/6/2020: BACKSHAVING? WHAT’S WITH THAT?

“So here’s what I want you to do . . .” Yeah, I sat for a few minutes during quiet time this morning, listening to the counsel of Paul.

He went on: “God helping you: Take your everyday ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-church, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God . . . (‘Kayfine. He actually wrote, “going-to-work”, but since this is Sunday—yeah.)

Keep up.

Paul continues: “Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.”

“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it… be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. . . . Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.” (Romans 12 & 13, selected Scriptures, The Message).

A good heading is supposed to hook you into reading on. So, what does backshaving have to do with Paul of Tarsus? Culturally speaking, he likely wore a full beard, though I’ve no proof either way.

Don’t get stuck back in 60 AD, though. His counsel is as fresh as your scrolling through email and Facebook just now.

“Got it. So, you gonna ‘splain the backshaving deal or what?”

Men who don’t often shave don’t backshave, either. No need. Guys who choose to go smooth-shaven, though, understand: if you don’t backshave, you may as well not shave at all.

Backshaving is reversing your razor and pulling against the direction of hair growth. Girls, you can put your hands down; if you’ve ever murderized your legs, you know exactly what backshaving’s all about – and it ain’t for wimps.

“Okay, we got it. Backshaving is the second effort to be clean-shaven. So—“

So shaving makes you look good. Backshaving makes you feel good. We’re talking a suh-MOOOOOOTH customer.

“Yeah-yeah. But—“

Patience, grasshopper.

With that difference in mind, go back and reread what Paul’s saying in Romans 12 and 13. I’ll wait . . .

There it is. Backshaving of the spirit. Not just looking good, but constantly making the second effort to feel, to BE good.

Okay. It’s getting on toward worship time, so I’ll leave this with you.

Thanks for dropping by and sharing some jav—OH! You might want to keep a, ah, styptic pencil handy.

© D. Dean Boone, September 2020

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2nd Cup of Coffee, 8/29/2020: THE ‘YOU’ YOU KNOW YOU WANNA BE BEING

I love thoughtful writing, which is to say I get jazzed by great writing.

Great writing makes you think. It pulls you into the writer’s orbit.

Think about this. Content aside, what type of writer most grabs your attention? When you’re browsing titles in your local library or online, which authors’ names make your eyes widen and your heart rev a little?

That’s what I’m talkin’ about. It’s the ones you expect to produce some great ideas, thoughts, or stories-with-a-lesson. I share a couple of excerpts from a very close friend and brother today because he’s one of such writers for me. I won’t identify him because I didn’t ask; yet across more than 20 years, he and I have prodded, picked at, counseled, and encouraged each other to never settle.

Both of us are better and more focused on God’s direction in each our lives together than either of us would have been separately. We’ve poked around in each other’s mind, heart, and spirit until we’re as family as two guys can get without sharing blood.

See what you think . . .

“Life gets better when you get better. You are going to get in this life what you create. You will create what you expect to create. Your expectations will become your reality. You’re where you are because you expected it.

“The way you think is driving your expectations. When you look inside, you are what you think you are. What (and who) you are inside is made up of what you are allowing yourself to see, hear, and think. It only makes sense, then, to be very careful what you allow to take up space in your mind.

“Your brain doesn’t care if you’re happy; its job is to protect you . . . Where your attention goes, your energy is going as well. Your living follows your eyes . . .

“Sometimes your mind gets so full of junk that it’s hard to see how to ever clear it up . . . .

“Protect your mind. You don’t have to pay attention to all the stuff going on in the world; pay attention only to what you signed up for. You can’t do it all. What you give your attention to will become the reality of your world . . . Pay attention to how much time you spend educating yourself, compared to entertaining yourself.

Pay attention to how much time you spend educating yourself, compared to entertaining yourself.

“Unsuccessful people think about what they don’t really want, while successful people focus on what they do want, and what needs to be done to get it. Feed your mind the ideas, thoughts, and inspiration needed for optimal performance. You’ll get better, think better, and be living better.”

And there you have it. You know I rarely include others’ writing on these blogs, for you know my contract with you, my reader: to lift, encourage, edify, and challenge to personal and spiritual excellence. I use fictional characters and their stories, nonfictional accounts, personal anecdotes and experiences, and any thought- and spirit-provoking information I can to make that happen.

So, why’d I use somebody else’s stuff today? It’s worth your time to read and absorb it. I’m suggesting you scroll back up and read those few paragraphs again. Let ’em sink in, kind of like when you spray on that SPF 30 suntan lotion and massage it in. Consider the truth in his thoughts while you sip your 2nd Cup, and I’ll be back with a few closing thoughts in a couple of minutes…

There’s so much happening at once in our nation right now it’s sometimes hard to keep negative, anxious, even hopeless thoughts from trampling through your spirit’s front yard. It’s even more important than ever, then, to remember Who’s really in charge of all Earth affairs.

Keep that in mind.

Remember Who God is. Remember what The Bible has been telling us for millenia. Remember how much of that’s happened just as communicated.

When tempted to despair at how long God’s holding off on stepping into the middle of such anarchy and lawlessness – and cowardice plus corruption by those who should have long ago stopped it themselves – remember how many times He’s let you back up, dusted you off, wiped away the tears and blood, and given you yet another go at life.

Let God be God, and you be being the ‘you’ you know you want to be being.

I’ve a hunch, based on past experience, things are going to turn out just right, just when they should.

© D. Dean Boone, August 2020

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2nd Cup of Coffee, 8/20/2020: FROM THE GRANGER FILES… THE COVID COLLECTION

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I am motivated by accomplishment, not pride. And by accomplishment, I mean that which God has me doing and being at this point in my life.

Pride consumes the weak, killing their heart from within; for while stopped to admire the seventeen inches of forward motion, sly inertia returns, robbing momentum and making it that much harder to start again.

If I fall, I will get up. If I am beaten, I will return. If unduly fatigued, I will rest and begin again. I will never stop getting better, and though I may feel like it, I will never give up. EVER. Somehow, I will keep going, regardless of how I’m feeling or how or what others think. I will ration my strength and energy, evaluating both against each day’s necessary tasks; and when I honestly need help with one, I will ask for help. However, I won’t stand around, endlessly waiting. I will not quit while one breath remains, for it is God whom I serve, not myself. I don’t have to understand how or where He leads; I just have to show up.

If at 60, you still fit in those 4th grade desk chairs, somebody hasn’t done much growing.

It’s not what you gather but what you scatter that tells the kind of life you’ve lived.

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The door is always open and there’s a welcome mat on both sides. You’re free to come in and free to leave. Just don’t stand in the doorway, whimpering. You’re blocking traffic.

Sometimes the people you’d take a bullet for are the ones behind the trigger.

When someone’s going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million empty words.

We’re tested not to reveal our weaknesses, but to discover our strengths. As a recovering perfectionist, I HATED testing because it carried with it the possibility of failure (read “less than 100%”) in front of others. That’s why it’s taken me a long time to begin knowing my strengths.

Quiet people have plenty to say. They’ve just learned to be careful about to and with whom to open up.

What should not be heard by little ears shouldn’t be said by big mouths.

“When you accept someone, you accept their past, too. Don’t hold it against them later.” Nice thought, yet it doesn’t go far enough. Nobody lives in their past and stays mentally, spiritually fit and healthy. The saying admits the past wasn’t so wonderful. So? We all have shadows in our past, and pages of our personal history we’d rather one else ever read. It’s what we’re doing and being here, today, right now that shows we’ve learned from that past experience. Anything, anyone that’s healthy keeps growing . . .

Wisdom ought to be your first choice; however, never be afraid to try something new. Life gets boring when you stay within the limits of what you already know.

You need to spend time with people who enjoy you for YOU, and not just because you’re convenient and what you do for them. Big difference. Being consistently used by another is not the same as togetherness.

What a person shows to the world is only a tiny facet of the iceberg hidden from sight. More often than not, that deep unknown is lined with cracks and scars that go all the way to the foundation of their soul. This applies to everyone you meet.

“You know someone means a lot to you when their mood can easily affect yours.” ~ Anne Frank

Nobody is ever too busy to at least check in. If they care, they will make time.

I am in for repairs. I’m not together yet, but I’m getting there.” – Unknown

Oh, I’d absolutely love to come over and hang with you while you talk and text with other people on your phone the entire time. I’m always impressed when conversing with another and they hold up a forefinger and say, “Hold on,” while pulling out their phone. At one time, I’d be a nice guy and stand there. Now? I smile, back away while mouthing, “Catch ya later”, and leave. I’ve 24 hours of each day to invest in its activities, and I value my Time more than that.

Y’know, with all these multiple personalities, you’d think at least one or two would be likeable.

I’m living in my drama-free space today. Respect it, people.

Okay, this whole getting older and being more responsible is getting in the way of my fun.

Definition of STUPID: knowing the truth, seeing the truth, but choosing to still believe the lies.

Mothers write on the hearts of their children what the world’s tough hand can’t erase. Mom? Think through how you’re raising them.

Sarah Breathnach: “When we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present, we experience heaven on earth.”

Don’t sacrifice your peace trying to point out someone’s true colors. Lack of character always reveals itself in the end.

I’m a multitasking procrastinator. I can put off all kinds of things all at once.

It’s not hard to shine in the midst of gloom. When the surrounding spiritual climate is dulled and mediocre at best, merely looking & sounding ‘Christian’ can elevate you to saint status. Yet spending time around the real thing will immediately show you up as spiritually shallow and immature. Work at being the real thing. Our world needs that now more than ever.

Lord? You told us before You left the first time, “Wait for it.” We were clueless about what “It” was, but back then we were just like we are now: scared and uncertain, because our entire world had been rocked.

So we waited . . .

And—and YOU reached down, picked up the cord, and PLUGGED US IN! And nobody nor nothing has been able to shut us in or up since! YOU, Waymaker— you’re the Source of all that’s holy! To understand what defines holy-ness, all we need to do is spend a few uninterrupted minutes alone with the Spirit of all that’s holy!

So, Lord—I’m thinking You need to do that again . . .

© D. Dean Boone, August 2020

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2nd Cup of Coffee, 7/27/2020: HAVING DONE ALL, TO STAND…

I saw it in passing, like road signs that are already past before it registers what you just read. Uncharacteristically nimble, my mind yanked up on the emergency brake. I stopped and reread the phrase.

“Ephesians 6 streaking”.

Nope. I had not misread it. I sat quietly for ten or fifteen seconds, the burnt-rubber odor of the sudden mental stop wafting through the intersection of my thoughts.

I know Ephesians 6 is about practical Christian living. I also know it’s about living in a world not just alien to Biblical Christianity, but actively opposed to it.

I’m a veteran. I’ve trained with weapons, became skilled in their use, and was in qualification at one time to earn an expert rating. The concept of streaking in connection with warfare was as dissonant as trying to teach love to a colony of fire ants.

This called for coffee. As I sat and sipped, the Bible’s ultimate Author began drawing me pictures.

“It reads, ‘Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (I’ve never gotten in too much trouble by being quiet; I did that.)

God: “You got the streaking part, right? And I know you’ve been wondering at the sanity of all the ‘peaceful demonstrators’ in Portland, half naked, handling things that either slash, crush, explode, stab, or incinerate.” (I nodded. If the quiet thing worked before, why mess with success?)

Right about here is where the little bell went ‘ding’. Ephesians 6 is not a Christian boutique where you pick and choose which items you think will complement your style or color scheme of the day. “Oh, naw, that whole trauma plate thing just doesn’t do it for me, but get a load of those sandals!

‘Full armor’ means business. It means you’re outfitted for all-out war, and leaving ANY piece of that equipment behind, no matter the reason, could mean your death, as well as someone else’s whose life and witness you could have saved.

Along about verse 17, The Message adds: “God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”

By now you’re with me. Sometimes the battle calls for aggressive, in-your-face attacks. Other times, the command comes down to hold your position at all costs. Right. As in, “having done ALL, to stand.”

This image caught my eye earlier this morning. Last Thursday I underwent an invasive procedure to remove a few inches of my colon, which was home to a thus-far benign lesion. Considering my medical history and God’s miraculous intervention in my life, it was no big deal; I’m up and around again, with little adverse effects beyond the normal fatigue from general anesthetic.

I’m not whiny, puny, nor lazy. If the weather cooperates, after I’ve rested some today, I’ll do a light workout with weights later today or tomorrow. I believe in keeping myself in the best shape I can, being a good steward of the health and life remaining to me.

This image resembles my mental, spiritual, and physical philosophy as no other I’ve seen. I’ll leave it to you to discern how and why.

I’m wrapping up this post with a few strong words of encouragement.

  • Matthew 16:27 and Hebrews 11:6 say our rewards come later, because of our firm faith in God and His ability to work in and through us.
  • What makes you unique is what puts you ahead of the game.
  • When you upgrade your mindset, people closest to you will either elevate along with you, or disappear. Let them choose which. Your mission is to follow where God is leading you.
  • Hard days and nights don’t just count — they count double! It’s the struggle that makes you stronger and tougher and better. Make it count — for His Kingdom.

© D. Dean Boone, July 2020

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