Fear not

Fear is something that hides deep within each of us as we walk through life.

I remember as a child, as many of my fellow youth gleefully looked to getting their first bicycle, within me was a sense of dread. I was comfortable with the tricycle and the insecurity of falling and losing my balance as I moved to the bike was such a hurdle to overcome. My father graciously added training wheels to the bicycle which I use for a brief time until the fear and dread faded and then one day, I asked him to take them off. I through my leg across and soared down the driveway looking back over my shoulder at my smiling father.

The fear was gone. Of course, that did not stop the future mishaps, being thrown over the handlebars head first and sliding down the pavement several yards. Even that did not dissuade my return to the seat of my green speedster.

As we age fear remains but takes different aims. As a teen the fear was of relationships. Not of girls, I liked them plenty but I just did not know how to ask one out for fear of rejection. And boy, did I get rejected. My heart became a revolving door of turndowns. With each and every one that fear of hurt just grew and grew into a monster. One day though, the answer was yes, and off to the races I went.

The fear was gone, until the day that she decided she no longer liked me and wanted to move on.

Then the fear of rejection took on a different form, it wasn’t immediate, it waited a few weeks into the relationship, so I could be vested and feel the rejection with greater amplitude. What a monster that was that I saw grow year by year. Eventually though, I cast even that monster aside with a battle worthy of knighthood.

But fear was not gone, it came forward in the search for success, after failure here and there mounted, the concerns were growing within, “Will I ever find a place in life that I will work and serve and find contentment?”

That fear has been present throughout my life and no matter what successes others may see within my walk in life, I am always that youth out of school trying to find my place in the world that will make me, and others happy. Will I overcome it before I reach check out? I doubt it. But I will keep picking up my sword daily and beating it back as I serve my way through to the Pearly Gates. God has a purpose and reason for what is behind and ahead in my work for Him.

Fear manages to creep into the corners of our life and sit there waiting to pounce. I remember at points in my life, I sat fearful and immobilized by things that were ridiculous, but at the time, they consumed me and my thoughts. I let other influences control my being by their actions, their deeds, their words. Then I realized that I am not their plaything. I am in control of my life and as long as I am able to conduct what I do in an honorable, consistent, lawful, and faithful fashion, I should not be afraid.

I am thankful to my closest friends and relatives who have helped me through the years as I have struggled with various areas where fear has gripped my life, they have been God’s angels walking through my life steering me in the right direction.

Now, though I have seemed to be negative on fear in the words thus far, I am thankful for the spirit of fear that God sends to warn us away from impending disaster, from making the wrong decision, or doing something that might alternatively change the course of our life in a negative way. In those senses, fear is welcomed and in another way comforting.

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)



Is today the first day of the rest of your life?

Folks often see the change of a new year as an opportunity for renewal.

“Let’s get rid of the old habits that plaque our existence,” is often what drives this sense of new found opportunity.

We will shed those unwanted pounds, stop smoking, be kinder to those who irritate us, make up with friends or relatives with whom we are estranged, be a better employee, make church every Sunday.

All these seem like valued opportunities and goals and I wholeheartedly support any efforts your desire to make to fill your life with joy, happiness and a daily dose of goal-oriented focus!

Let’s see I will start off with setting my alarm at 6 a.m. and off to the exercise machines I will go.

One. Two, Three, Four, Five…. Well that’s enough of that, boy I feel better, now for a few minutes riding the bike while watching the news and 30 minutes later I hop off the bike, feeling a great sense of accomplish all the while angry over something I heard on the news. Well next time no news watching.

OK, next day… set the alarm… it goes off… I reach to hit snooze as I realize my well exercised arm now hurts… goes off again… I move my legs which now hurt also. Oh, I’ve got to exercise but my legs and arms are revolting.

I pull myself out of bed and make my way to the equipment sit down and give it my best … one, two, two… two… I guess my best is not so good. Well to the bike, OK, remember no news… what am I going to do while peddling? Ow, that hurts… Well maybe I skip the bike today.

Third day… snores fill the room as I forgot to set the alarm. I awake refreshed but later than normal, look at the clock and realize I am late for an appointment. Rush to get ready and out the door not even noticing the pain from the day before in my haste.

Isn’t the splendor of living better such an uplift? Well it really is once you get past the realization that anything you decide to do out of the norm, is generally not easy. It takes dedication, and a willingness to stretch yourself into where you desire to grow towards.

I hope that you find great success in every goal you set aside this month for 2020. I know that is my aim, if I can just get the legs to stop acting like spaghetti when I try to walk after all this amazing joy, I am filling them with.


The differences within 100 years

The other day I realized I am now living 100 years beyond my grandparents’ key time in their lives.

In 1920, my grandparents Bill and Kitty Bruce had been married for four years.

My grandfather had spent his youth in the west, returned to Tennessee and found himself a bride half his age, bought land with the money he earned out west and started farming raising corn, tomatoes, running cattle and hogs.

They watched Bill brothers Tom and James, cousins and friends go off to WWI among the 130,915 men and women from Tennessee who did. Tom died, while James returned a shell of his former self and died within a couple of years.

They survived the Spanish flu epidemic that killed other family and friends as it savaged community after community infecting 500 million in 1918 around the world.

In this year my grandmother would become pregnant beckoning my first aunt Minnie Lee, named for her aunt, who would pass as a toddler in 1923.

My grandmother for the first time in her life was allowed to walk in a polling place and cast a ballot as women gained the vote. Grandpa would vote for Democrat James Cox while my grandmother always proudly said she voting just the opposite just to cancel out Grandpa’s vote meaning she voted for Republican Warren G. Harding. Not sure if she ever told grandpa though, she told me long after he was gone.

They rode horses, buckboards, buggies or walked where they went. There were no automobiles. They chopped down trees to build what they needed and cut wood to cook on and to heat from the cold. Harvest time meant canning vegetables to eat throughout the year. Meat was smoked in the smoke house, salted and cured to sustain meats to eat when hunting was slim.

As I look around at what I experience each day. I make much of my living in mediums that were not even existent – radio and television. Buying musical recordings was still in its infancy in those days with 78s and Victrolas being the source. Not one of those were within miles of them and it would be many years before a battery-operated radio would make its way to the valley.

If I get hungry, I go out, get in my SUV, drive to a restaurant, or to the store and buy something a farmer somewhere put into the food supply chain to fill the need. If I cook it at home, much of the time I pop it into a microwave oven and in a few minutes, I am seated in front of my favorite TV show eating away. That experience would have taken my grandmother hours in addition to the months it took my father to cultivate and/or hours to hunt or raise, slaughter and preserve.

I look up in the sky and I see jet planes, they looked up and saw only the birds for a few more years. Thanks to the advantage of science, and communication, we can anticipate the weather while they reacted daily to what occurred.

I communicate on a phone I carry in my pocket, they had to holler up the holler or send someone walkin’ to spread any news for quite a few more years to come. I can look at a computer and catch up on the news, they had to wait for a newspaper to come through the area at the general store.

It is amazing what 100 years has brought us. Is it better? It is more convenient. I do not know if it’s more healthy for us. It is definitely different and I imagine if my 1920s grandparents were dropped into what I see daily, I imagine they would feel we have a strange and foreign life.

Both lived to see the transition to automobiles, the advent of television and grandmother lived well beyond man reaching the moon and folks thinking of flying as a real form of transportation.

Such amazing things they saw… I don’t know if what we have in store ahead of us will compare but I certainly hope it will be and I realize how amazing it really is!

Is 2020 the year I dreamed upon?

OK its 2020, that is suppose to be significant in our lives right.

Well, we are here, breathing and have every opportunity that life within the United State of America affords.

There are so many significant dates that have passed in my life. Let’s see, when I was in school, we read a book called 1984… I don’t recall that year being anything like what was described by George Orwell in his classic, but he did write it 70 years ago. Perhaps he should have named it 2024, as with the advent of the internet, it seems more of what was described by Orwell is at hand today.

When Stanley Kubrick created the 2001 Space Odyssey in 1968, the country was in a race to the moon, so the setting for a battle between man and machine in space was a plausible notion, but we didn’t get there by 2001, and it looks like it may be another 50 or 100 years before we come close.

One of my favorite childhood cartoons was “The Jetsons,” where there was a robotic maid, all types of amazing gadgets, and the family flew around in what looked like a flying car with a bubble on top. According to the promotional material the cartoon showed our future in 2062, and here we are in 2020.

Will we make it? We certainly have more interesting and amazing gadgets. We have vacuum cleaners and mowers which will map our space and perform the task on their own something I would have loved as a kid. I pushed endlessly with a push mower and vacuum.

Are we as ordinary human beings, and young enough, going to experience great leaps in the coming 50 years that will reflect the imagination of the past creators of books, movies and television shows? I don’t know, but it certainly is amazing to think about. Many of us, now have our lies and pastimes rotate around items that did not even exist to consumers in the year 2,000. So, I guess conceivably, some of us will see some amazing steps in front of us.

I often wonder though is our race toward greater technological advancement will simply move us farther away from one another. As I look around at restaurants and see people staring at social media, or texts on their phone while their loved ones at the table do similarly. What happens as we perfect our abilities to communicate with other through something in our hand but can’t look them in the eye and do the same.

Is 2020 going to be what I hoped and dreamed of as a child or younger adult, probably not. But then again, no one put me in charge of what our lives should be. All each of us can do, each day the Lord allows us to awaken, place our feet on the floor, and walk in a forward motion, is do the very best with each step we take, each decision we make, each word we share, and each act we play out.

Use 2020 to reach for the stars in your life while helping others do the same. Who knows maybe we are living the dream that no one in history could even imagine.