July 4 and James 4

The next trip Ahnya and I took was to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument and Pompeys Pillar. “Pomp” was the nickname for  Baptiste Charbonneau, Sacagawea’s son, that you can see on the dollar coin.

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photo courtesy Ahnya Ivie

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photo courtesy Ahnya Ivie – a little blurry but one of her favorite moments of this trip was getting a picture of them standing to fight.

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photo courtesy Ahnya Ivie — signature of Clark, some of the only physical evidence of the journey West left

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photo courtesy Ahnya Ivie — Long before the Lewsi and Clark journey “discovered” the West, Crow called this place Iishbiiammaache ( where the mountain lion lies/preys).

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I only have a few pictures from that trip(and at least right now wordpress has switched how the post is made, and I hate it- save draft and edit through dashboard for anyone else finding this), but more thoughts. Other places that we/I have visited recently also tie in with Little Bighorn. We live really close to Fort Phil Kearny and while I have hunted the walk-in area near the Fetterman Monument, this year is the first that we visited the fort. We had learned quite a bit about Red Cloud in our visit to Agate Fossil Beds NM this spring, and also had been to Fort Laramie on that trip- which makes the ride of Portugee Phillips seem even more incredible. After all of these experiences, I also swung by Rosebud Battlefield State Park while ingressing one day.

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Within that context, the 4th of July brings a mix of emotions. First, I love America and feel lucky to live in it. Every Sunday I am freely able to go to church and enjoy fellowship, study God’s word and rejoice in song. At the same time, those that do not chose to are free to do with the day as they wish. That freedom is not present in every country. To go to something like Mount Rushmore, as Ahnya and I did late May, and not feel pride in America would be hard. They also recognize all of the veterans or currently active military at the presentation, which powerfully brings forth the reminder that “freedom isn’t free”

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courtesy Ahnya Ivie

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Last year I wrote about the power of being at Arlington, and Little Bighorn also has a national cemetary, as well as markers spread throughout the park where soldiers and warriors died during the battle.  I am not sure if it has always been that way, but the park showcases the events leading up to Little Bighorn and losses by both sides.  To quote Corb Lund from the song “horse soldier, horse soldier” (unofficial-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u04KA8eYwBg )

I’s with Custer and the 7th in 76 or 77
Scalped at Little Big Horn by the Sioux
And the tears and devastation of a once proud warrior nation
This I know cause I was riding with them too

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There lies the mixed emotions.  After fighting the tyranny of Britain and penning ‘self-evident’ words that “all men are created equal”, it took four-score and seven years and a war that almost tore our nation apart to even put an end to slavery- and the process to equality moved slowly even from that point.  100 years after our freedom we were still treating the native american tribes as inferior and using “manifest destiny” to take what we wanted.

There is nothing that we can do to change our history, both the proud and the shameful.  The point of this post is not to wallow in the myriad of autorcities that our country has been a part of.   With each of those, there are also American heroes that spoke up and fought against it.  We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it and make sure that we do not allow those actions to repeat themselves.  We also need to take these past actions into account when understanding why everyone does not view July 4th, or America, the same as us.  Another song that can highlight some of these feelings would be Don Edwards “The Freedom Song”.   I will put a link to it, but can’t find a good version on youtube. I like the sound of my version better, and the babies have nothing to do with the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQn4lvASfSI&index=14&list=PLieRi_lSPlRrNv42rBfAQo7Yiqd1ocac0 .   You can google search the lyrics if interested.

It’s not just America that has a spotted past, either.  In the history of any people you will be able to find oppresion or war.  It is not like all of the native american tribes lived peacefully side-by-side before colonization.  England, and much of Europe, held many colonies long after the american revolution.  Going back through time you can find conquest after conquest.  So why is life on Eart like this?  James explains it clearly in James 4 -“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from yourdesires for pleasure that war in your members?”   I love the way that James extends the personal war we have in ourselves (between living for ourselves and worldly desires and living for God and others) to the confrontations that exist on Earth.   The short book of James covers all the way from wars(4), to rich oppression(5), to showing favortism for personal gain(2), to controlling our tongue .The whole book is a study in how actions speak louder than words and prompts self-reflection on motivations (James 1:22-25).

To end with a few more song quotes “I’m proud to be an Amercian, where at least I know I’m free.  And  I won’t forget the men who dies, who gave that right to me.And I’d gladly stand up,Next to you and defend her still today.’Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E .  While they may not have always “established justice” or “promoted the general welfare” due to human weakness, I do believe that our forefathers had the correct ideas and were thinking outside of themselves and of the nation.  The attitude “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” was prevalent and follows the idea of James – are you doing for your own immediate benefit, or for something greater.  (There was a time in our past when men would move to where the work was with ideas such as CCC instead of sitting at home and expecting a check- but that’s a whole  other issue) . If your pride in America is based on these ideals and the desire to extend this freedom to all, then I am with you.  If you use American “pride” to hold others down and justify mistreatment as has been done in the past, then I can not agree.   Pride as a source of strength is great, but pride as an excuse or weapon is not.  From No Use For A Name “I refuse to build the wall by adding my own bricks that separate us all”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxvnFh6l_H0

You see, being an American and being Christian makes me no better than anyone else in and of itself.   “There is good and bad, in everyone”(Stevie Wonder).  Being an American makes me fortunate and free, not better. Being saved is something that was a gift only by grace, which also provides me freedom(Romans 8:2).  But grace comes through faith (Ephesians 2:8) and faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17).  Fortunately for me, I was born in a free country to a family that taught me the word.

So take a moment to reflect on your life.  Are there things you are doing that hurt others?  Are there things you aren’t doing that can benefit others?  What can you do for your country?    Are you doing His will?

1 John 2:16-17 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

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Closer – 1

This comes from a post on facebook:  

TEACHER: Why didn’t you study?

STUDENT: A year has 365 days for you to study. After taking away 52 Sundays, there are only 313 days left. There are 50 days in the summer that are way too hot to work so there are only 263 days left. We sleep 8 hours a day, in a year, that counts up to 122 days so now we’re left with 141 days. If we fooled around for only 1 hour a day, 15 days are gone, so we are left with 126 days. We spend 2 hours eating each day, 30 days are used in this way in the year, and we are left with
96 days in our year. We spend 1 hour a day speaking to friends and family, that takes away 15 days more and we are left with 81 days. Exams and tests take up at least 35 days in your year; hence you are only left with 46 days. Taking off approximately 40 days of holidays, you are only left with 6 days. Say you are sick for a minimum of 3 days; you’re left with 3 days in the year to study! Let’s say you only go out for 2 days…You’re left with 1 day. But that 1 day is your birthday. That’s why I did not study.

 There are problems with this argument, the biggest being “double counting” time off.  Some of the “2 hours for eating” and “8 hours sleeping ( do people really get this much?)”  are already subtracted in the vacation days and Sundays, etc.  Yes, I am ruining the joke.

There is some truth in this, though.  How many times have you thought “I would love to do x, I just don’t have the time” or “Why can’t there be more hours in the day?

The first thing I would like you to do is to make 2 lists.  On the first list, put down all of the things that are part of your daily routines.  On the second list, put down your goals, projects and/or plans for the next  2 weeks, month or year.  Your choice.  Seriously, just do it and then you can scroll down below the picture. 

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Now look at your lists. How many of your daily routines involve your faith.  Do you take time to pray each day? To read scripture?  You might not, or you may do it but not have thought to put them on.  Do you have any plans or goals related to your faith, or is everything trips and house or yard work/projects.

This is not to make anyone feel bad, it is the first part in a look at drawing closer to God.  One of the biggest factors that can prevent us from doing so is time.  We live in a busy world and often have so many things we want to do we do not always get around to the things we need to do.

Jesus talks about how we can let the world get in our way in his parable of the sower.  We will look at some of these more specific in the future/

Mark 4:  18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 

 Often, even when we want to give time to God it is on our terms.  We schedule our lives, and then fir God in when there is extra time. In reality it is our walk with God that should come firs, and knowing he provides for us there will be time to get the things of the world done that need to be done.

There are 2 examples from Luke that show how we can accept Christ, and yet still have the tendency to put the world first

 Luke 9: 59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

From studying it, in the first case the man’s father was probably not dead yet, so this is not a case of some one that met Jesus but had a short task to do.  He was setting something else as his priority.  In the second case the man he’ll follow, but again it is after he does what he wants, putting God second.  
In the second Luke scripture we see that even someone that we know cared for Jesus got set on the priorities of the world. 

 

 Luke 10 38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

 It’s easy to see Martha’s side.  When there is a big family gathering at Thanksgiving or Christmas can’t you picture someone that wants everything to be so perfect that they rarely relax and end up not enjoying much of what should be a time to just enjoy each others company.  How often do we take something where few things are needed to make it special and complicate it by trying to add too much.

 Part of this may come from our perception that there will always be plenty of time later to do the other things.  The truth is that human life is not very long on this Earth, as noted by David.  

Psalm 39 4 “Show me, Lord, my life’s end
 and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
even those who seem secure.

Since we do not have but a fleeting life, Paul commends us to not let the things of the world be our focus, but to keep the urgency of our work in perspective.

1 Corinthians 7: 29 What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

We do live in a world where we need to work to provide.  Our bodies need food. I am not saying that enjoying a day fishing or at a ball game or cleaning is bad.  The point of the first lesson is that if you want to draw closer to God, it is not going to happen by accident.  You have to put him first and let the other things take a back seat.  If you don’t set time aside to read scripture in your daily schedule, you probably will find that you don’t get around to it often.  Do you have a time dedicated to prayer each day?  Maybe before each meal or before bed.  There is nothing wrong with prayers at times like sitting at a red light or while driving, but if you are only doing them at times where a gap arises then you may be doing something wrong.  If you are a good driver, you can’t be giving complete focus to your talk with God.  Let me make clear that praying while driving is not bad, I do it at times, but I don’t think it tends to be as deep as a personal time set aside where that is your only focus.

Beyond daily routines, what are some goals you can set that strengthen your relationship with God?  Maybe you have a specific study that you can set as a goal to complete.  There could be someone you are close to that you want to reach out to, set it as a goal and it is more likely to happen.  Is church just something you go to on Sundays and Wednesdays?  Maybe you can set a time aside each week to spend doing something fun in fellowship with your brothers and sisters.

Each person reading this may be at completely different places in their relationship with God, so it is up to you to honestly look at your life and see if there is a way that you can draw closer and become more strengthened in God.  Some may not even have a relationship with God at all.  If you are interested at all in having one, maybe just asking someone to tell you more or answer some questions could be your start.  Even if you are not interested and very skeptical, feel free to write me and I would try to answer any questions the best I can.

Now that I have taken up some of your precious time, I hope you go away with a desire to draw closer to God and worry less about the things of the world.  A desire to put God first in your life.

 

 

 

Carwash

No picture yet, and pretty common theme, but I wanted to leave the old poetry trio with an uplifting poem to “wash” away the feeling of the previous one.  It is a short one.  After the poem are some scriptures that can be referenced to go with the thought.
An interesting aside is that while it is the traditional AABB rhyme scheme, I worked it so the rhyme is the same but the letters are different. ea with ee, mud/flood etc.

Immerse, purify, wash me clean,
so in me more of you is seen.
My Master whom my purpose steers
and keeps me spotless through my years.

After I’ve wandered in the mud,
bury me in the cleansing flood.
No smudge or blemish shall remain,
a shining beacon down the lane.

Companion if you have time:
Line 1-Eph 5:26, 1 Cor 6:11, Acts 3:19, Psalm 51:7
Line 2- 1 John 4:12-15, Col 3:14, 1 Cor 15:49, Numbers 6:24-26
Line 3- Matt 6:24, Psalm 86:11, Psalm 23
Line 4- 2 Peter 3:14, Jude 1:24 ( looser),
Line 5- Romans 3:23-24 , Titus 3:3-7(line 6 too)
Line 6- 1 Peter 3:21, Romans 6:4
Line 7- Jude :12, Eph 5:27
Line 8-Matt 5:16 , Matt 7:13-14,

Want, need, conscience, balance

If you have followed the blog you already know that I was having some trouble with my Nikon 70-300 lens.  I had already had it fixed and it was easy to justify getting a new lens to replace it with the plan of fixing it down the road.  A longer lens was always on my wish list for pulling bear or wolf in a little closer and just allowing longer viewing in general which is easier on any wild subject.  I did end up getting the Sigma 50-500 with the OS.

As with any larger purchase, there is always the afterthought of whether I really needed it, and the answer is no.  I was getting by with the shorter lens and it’s not like I’m making my living on photography.  If anything it is probably a negative economic endeavor, not even counting gas for travel and other expenses related to the trip because I would probably do them with or without a camera. 

The point of this writing is not about the merits of photography.  It is more a focus on an internal struggle dealing with need versus want and where to strike a balance.  On Sunday, Ryan’s class used scripture from Mark 12 concerning the widows 2 mites.  Jesus commented on how many rich gave out of excess.  Not that they didn’t give, but just that they gave the extra- like when many of us say to ourselves “If I can win the lottery I would give X”  You know, once I am set personally, then I can give more.  Then a widow came in and gave “more than all the contributors” even though she gave a fraction of a penny, because it was all she had to live on.  She put her trust in God  to provide and thought of how she could help others more than herself.

There was a lot of other discussion, but what I have, what I want and what more I could do is always something I debate.  I may not have a lot of the fancy things some have, but I have an FJ, a truck, a house, a nice camera and lenses, the ability to travel.  I am fortunate.  Would I like to have enough land to have some horses?  An ATV to get up Sykes?  A cabin on the mountain?  Of course I would want them…want not need.

This comes up in my mind often, but 2 specific cases from the past week highlight the struggle over how much to give to help others.  The first is with the Legacy Mustang Preserve.  You can find out more about them and their cause at their site : http://www.ilovemustangs.org/ .  As they mention in their welcome “The  majority see the politics. We see the horses themselves”.  They are losing their lease on their farm but have the opportunity to buy it if they can raise a substantial amount of money.  I think they truly care about the horses and do good work.  So how much to give?  Do I give a decent amount for an immediate need, or save to get my own farm and personally do what I can to take care of the horses?  If I hadn’t just bought the new lens couldn’t I have done more of both?

This is a less frequent issue and dealing with horses.  Not that I don’t love the horses, but what about people?   After bible study today, Ahnya and I drove to Taco Bell to pick up some unhealthy dinner.  Sitting on the sidewalk with a gas can and a sign was a man that looked like he had seen better days.  An old school bus that had been made into a home of sorts was behind him in the Wal-mart parking lot.  It is not the first time that some one in need has been in the vicinity of the Wal-mart parking lot.  So do you help each of them?

I did want to help.  Coffeen is busy so I parked near the bus, explained to Ahnya why she couldn’t go with me and gave instructions on locking the door and not showing herself ( which is sad and adds another factor to the internal debate).  I walked toward him and asked if he needed some money.  He said “desperately”.  I had already set aside an amount I was going to give him in my pocket while we were at the Taco Bell drive-through.  It was enough to get some food and some gas (although at today’s prices not much anymore).  It is always a struggle to know how much to give, or even if it is wise or safe to give it to anyone.  Being on the edge of Sheridan’s busiest street makes it appear a little safer, but the news shows that there is crazy anywhere.

Again, looking at what I have and the lens I just bought, could I have given more?  I won’t lie, but the fact that in this specific case he had 3 very cute kittens in his lap made me debate it more than usual.  Kittens.  There is no way of knowing if these are the only 3 companions bringing joy to his life or if he is a seasoned transient that knows what works well.  Does it really matter?

How easy it is to rationalize why we shouldn’t help.  I already mentioned the safety factor, which is real with a daughter to raise.  A traditional:  “How do I know they won’t just go buy alcohol?”.  I thought of it and Ahnya and I discussed it, and I don’t know that he won’t.  Does that matter?  To an extent yes, I don’t want to support some one getting themselves further into a hole.  At the same time, if we are to be Christlike it is not as though he came to help only those that were “worthy” or going to live perfectly.  If he had our same mind-set he could have said “Why should I die for them, they are just going to go sin again”.  Obviously it is not the exact same but I think that sometimes the “not knowing what they are going to do with the money” is an excuse.  There are also probably better ways for me to get around that like buying the actual gas for the can or asking what he wanted to eat and buying the food.  I don’t think that was necessary myself in this case and even if he didn’t need it or doesn’t use it wisely I will not go without food from what I gave so why worry about what happens with it now. The question with myself is always should I be doing more?

Do I need some of the things I have that don’t do much, like the hutch, or should I sell it and help worthy causes?  Maybe even have a bible with some inspirational verses highlighted and some money marking them under the seat should another opportunity arise.  The money could help provide food or clothes, but the bible could provide bread “that he may never hunger”.

I’m not even sure the struggle is about where the balance should be, but more a struggle to completely give up control and trust in the Lord to provide what I need and not worry about the things that I just want.  It is also a very un-American idea that goes against the capitalistic system I have been raised in. Well, we’re living in a material world, and I’m a material girl… or boy. … (movie anyone?)

 

Bowl reborn

Given its spiritual theme, I meant to get this up yesterday.  Looking back on it, I think it is a little cliche.  I have no picture to go with it like some of my other writings.  I had plans of a pit in the ground with flames coming out and a pedestal in the middle with a bowl I had made ad reglued myself to be “artsy”.  Now that the poem has lost my favor, it will probably remain photo-less.

My beginnings were meager,
dust of the Earth drawn together,
molded and shaped,
or misshaped.

Physically flawed,
but perfect in ideal,
in the mind of my creator-
formed for a purpose.

I waited in darkness
with others like me,
not knowing my destiny
until my savior opened the door
and the light reached me,
harkening me to my calling.
My usefulness judged not by appearance,
but what I held inside me.

My master filled me with food,
life-giving sustenance to all who accepted his offering.
The world soiled me.
Only continual washing could cleanse me.
Submerged as a contaminated container,
raised spotless,
able to ascend again.

Then I fell to the Earth so hard
it broke me.
My life was shattered.
Unable to put myself back together,
only my savior could make me whole again.

Now I lead a new life.
No longer able to hold filth,
I am set on a pedestal
above the world,
so all may see my creator’s simple bowl.

A shining example of the Great Artist’s perfect work.

Diligence

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I saw a weed,
I needed to pull out;
I’d get it tomorrow,
I had no doubt.
The next day came,
the lake looked great.
When I finished fishing,
it was very late.
The days went by,
the weed slowly grew;
it was knee high
before I knew.
No need to worry,
it soon would be dead.
Then came the wind
all its seeds spread.
I put off chores,
day after day;
when weather’s warm,
it’s more fun to play.
Briars, thorns and brambles,
whole yard gone to seed,
my house is in shambles,
springing from one weed.