Wandering Thoughts and Perceptions on Life

        I often think back to my childhood and young adulthood—to those times when all of my attention was totally on my own wants, needs, and desires. This was an interesting time of life, full of mistakes because I wasn’t listening to anyone around me. No advice was considered valid; no punishment was considered justifiable. This was a time of pursuit of everything that I had imagined I wanted from life. Love, money, influence–all of these were goals because I had not allowed anything to filter through my heart, just through my brain. My brain said, “You deserve all of the good things in life. Period.”  This was the time of new technologies like instant-on TV and color TV. I could not have imagined the technologies of 2012, they have long out-stripped these 1960’s innovations. The media presented life on our new-found entertainment boxes and in the movie houses as pursuit of those things mentioned above–love, influence, and money or fame. The things of the heart were lesser things, only pursued by the unrealistic people living in their self-made shells. Religion was and is still considered one of these shells. yet religion reflects the deepest places that the heart can reach.

Now understand that when I mention the term religion I am referring to the act of fervently worshipping and serving a deity.  Religion can cover any act of worship or service, but don’t assume that religion is always the same as Christianity. Christianity is religious beliefs based on the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. According to James 1: 26-27 NIV, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”. We will explore this distinction later on in an article of its own. For now, it is back to things of the heart.

 Heart things involve emotions; deep emotions. Since society tends to shy away from deep emotions because it theoretically can  mean lack of control, emotions tend to get a bad rap.  Crying? Out of the question. Only babies do that!  Grieving? Aw, get over it!  Balking at being controlled by others? Learn to submit!  Anyone who protests this fine-tuned system learns quickly that every effort to break free is countered with more attempts to control. The question is, “Is it right to exert this much control over others around us? Where does this need to control originate and for what purpose?  Let’s explore a little.

The biggest prevailing factor that runs this world ship is control, thus power. On the basic human level it has always been control of resources needed to live–food, clothing, shelter, and water. In this present age, control of food crops, gas, oil, and minerals are what makes one society predominant over another because all of these resources can be converted to energy and sold to obtain money. This results in the ability to control others because the affluent society can demand favors of the less fortunate in exchange for resources, and the less fortunate may give in to these demands as a means of survival.  On the corporate level, control and justification for control can reach momentous heights. Money and what money can provide are the strength of corporate power. The more assets a corporation can claim and the larger the share of the world market it possesses can lead to credibility in the corporate sphere of influence.  This results in more opportunities to create a larger system and to absorb smaller competing companies.

Control. It is hard for those who possess wealth, thus control, to release it. As an example, the Scripture narrative of the rich young man is found in Mark 10: 17-29:


The Rich and the Kingdom of God 


17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.”

20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor,and you will have treasure in heaven.Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!

25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

 2The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” 

27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”

29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”  NIV


Resources have always been used to exert  leverage and control. That is their draw. Before there were actual coins and bills to use for purchases, barter and trade were not equal across the board. Someone was taking advantage of someone else. Marketplace transactions throughout history have consisted of bargaining in some form or another.  It is an expected action in some cultures to approach a marketplace purchase as an opportunity to negotiate for a lower price.  The black or gray market, which also exists under several labels such as undisclosed income, etc. according to Columbia Encyclopedia [1], is defined as:
the selling or buying of commodities at prices above the legal ceiling or beyond the amount allotted to a customer in countries that have placed restrictions on sales and prices. Such trading was common during World War II wherever the demand and the means of payment exceeded the available supply. Most of the warring countries attempted to equalize distribution of scarce commodities by rationing and price fixing. In the United States black-market transactions were carried on extensively in meat, sugar, tires, and gasoline. In Great Britain, where clothing and liquor were rationed, these were popular black-market commodities. In the United States, rationing terminated at the end of the war, but a black market in automobiles and building materials continued while the scarcity lasted. In the decades following World War II, as the countries of Eastern Europe were trying to industrialize their economies, extensive black-market operations developed because of a scarcity of consumer goods. Black marketing is also common in exchange of foreign for domestic currency, typically in those countries that have set the official exchange value of domestic currency too high in terms of the purchasing power of foreign money. Black-market money activities also grow when holders of domestic currency are anxious to convert it into foreign currency through a fear that the former is losing its purchasing power as a result of inflation.
 See W. Rundell, Black Market Money (1964).


 This market is considered underground and illegal but accounts for a large percentage of revenues and jobs in the world economy. This is a thorn in the area of resource control, because it staggers the actual job and sales statistics. Not only do transactions exist, but they are underneath the radar and therefore beyond conventional scrutiny. Why is it important to know this? Many black market sales and jobs are in the areas of  drug trafficking, human trafficking, child trafficking, and other illegal pursuits. This violates human rights and is of importance to governing bodies who seek to eliminate these forms of slavery.

Never thought about drugs [as one example of] enslavement? Any time a substance alters your perceptions and your body to the extent of making you dependent upon it–this is enslavement whether vountary or involuntarily. Especially it is enslavement if you will commit illegal acts to possess and use it.  Street drugs; over-the-counter drugs; prescription drugs–they can all be addictive.  I have learned that I personally do not respond well to prescription strengths recommended by the pharmacy. The dosage is too strong.  I only need a small amount for it to be effective. But we digress…

Money and power are a strong combination, but is it necessary to possess this much power to do an effective work?  This is what brings us to the answer to the question I asked earlier in this article–“Is it right to exert this much control over others? The answer is no. Human history has proved that excess control can lead to destruction. Let’s look at Rome as an example. The Empire of Rome was, in its prime, the strongest political and military force. Romes legions conquered region after region and exerted control over vast territories. No one would have imagined that the Roman Empire would fall. There are many theories as to why Rome fell, including lead poisoning, yet out of all of these theories comes one over-riding powerful reason. Too much; too soon; too fast.  Rome became so vast that it could no longer patrol and control its conguered territories. I am providing a link here to a website that I feel addresses the Fall of Rome thoroughly. This website has various sources and references. It is http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/fallofrome/a/Dorrington.htm

Sadly, as we have pointed out, this world loves money and power. Human beings feel the need to control their circumstances and their environments–some to a greater, and some to a lesser degree. What sweetens the power pot are the benefits–access to money and influence. Money and influence are not necessarily wrong in theory; they  are wrong when these benefits are applied to controlling individuals and institutions.

to be continued

[1] Retrieved from the worlld-wide web.  ” Columbia Encyclopedia”.  Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 12 Jul. 2012

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The Joy and Pain of Gardening…By Chaelwest

 The Joy and Pain of Gardening
There is this crazy urge that I get each Spring when the first crocuses peek out of bed, and the daffodils put on their bonnets–it is called, in my vernacular, time to dig. Whether it is digging into the black dirt with my toes, or grabbing a shovel and digging holes, or using a tiller to turn the soil over for planting–It truly doesn’t matter because the urge is simply to dig-dig-dig.

Along with this urge comes a need to plant baby flowers and vegetables in the hope of watching them grow into fruit producers and bloomers of the garden variety. Before this can be accomplished, however, there are many steps toward this luxurious goal. No pain no gain.

As I am no longer in the ‘bloom’ of youth, each year it becomes harder and harder to perform the gardening tasks necessary to say that I have had a wonderful, productive season.  I used to be able to kneel and pat those little suckers right into place with no aching aftereffects, but now Mr. Arthur shows up almost immediately after I have patted the last little plant and put them to bed. Ibuprofen to the rescue!!! I guess if I weren”t so driven I would simply let the garden do the natural thing. It would overgrow itself quickly and what a tangled mess I would have.

Since it is human to want to control everything and everybody around you, lest there be any surprises, I struggle year after year to reach the same gardening goals of  twenty years ago. I want little pansies to smile at me while giant sunflowers tower over the fence and protect the borders. I long to see Jack command his pulpit while begonias beguile me with their constant beauty and variety. The shrubs and bushes offer summer glamour while fruit trees, maples, and oak offer bountiful shade.

I am a sensory person. I enjoy textures and myriad colors around me. Nothing is more sensory than touching the fleshy petal of a Day Lily or an Iris. The beauty that is the rose family is absolutely breathtaking–domestic or wild. The variety of colors  is mind-boggling–giving me a glimpse into the rainbows of Heaven. Will there be gardens there to plant and explore?

There is great joy in watching the tomatoes grow and ripen on the vine. Cucumber’s yellow flowers team with the golden orange of the melon flowers. Such a lovely scene. The greens of the foliage form a wonderful contrast to the bursts of color that speak of fruit to come.

My garden always makes me think of the responsibility of parenting. The little seeds that we are given to water and nourish grow quickly. If we give them good food then we will yield a plenteous harvest with strong seed toward the next generation. Will it be easy? No. Just as the garden in my yard takes careful tending in order to grow–so do my children. My difficulty is that I am like ‘The Old Lady Who lived In A Shoe’– I have so many children in my heart that I don’t know what to do. At home and abroad, they take careful tending each day. An earnest prayer here and some encouragement there–a shake of the head when I see them making some of the same mistakes that I made in my own youth; panic when I see that they are going to follow their own chosen path making wise or unwise choices along the journey and disregarding my loving advice. 

I will continue to tend my gardens and the mixed bed of joy and sorrow will be mine to lie upon. Prayerfully, hopefully, the flowers of my heart will someday bloom with beauty and wisdom. I will then hold them close and kiss the dew from their faces.

credit: charlene @charlenesattic.com

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