Write 28 Day Challenge—#13 Fact

Beautiful caverns can be visited all throughout the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Endless Caverns, Shenandoah, Luray, Skyline Caverns are close to us here in the North end of the Valley.

I worked as a tour guide at Endless Caverns in New Market, VA. Took my first group of tourists through at sixteen years old. Every summer local high school kids were hired as guides. It was fun. In fact, many kids would come back summer after summer for work.

Rock formations are beautiful and unique with different colors and forms found in each cavern. They are all worth a visit. One fact is true of them all. They have stalactites and stalagmite formations.

I was always asked the difference between the two. ‘Which one came from the top? Which one formed on the floor?’ Few tourists could remember. Here is an easy fact that will always help one remember:

Stalactites form from the ceiling. Remember this fact: “T” for top—stalacTites. You will never have to ask again!

Cavern rocks

Write 28 Day Challenge—#12 Decline

Possessing the ability to say yes or to decline, no, thank you, is a distinctly human gift. In the created order no other creature has this ability. My dogs, horses, cats, etc, cannot decline or accept options of life. Not where to live, when or what to eat, being left all day, space or lack thereof of where they live. We humans have a choice.

To decline is to turn aside. Folks are also given the opportunity to accept or decline Jesus. His free gift of Life and Grace will be accepted or declined by every human on earth. I chose to accept Him many years ago. It has made all the difference. It is not He who rejects us. We decline His invitation to us.

There was a popular saying long ago that went like this: No JESUS, no Peace; Know Jesus, Know Peace. We Americans have tons of stuff and things today. Only Jesus gives Peace. Accept Jesus, please do not decline Him. Accept Him and know Peace.

Write 28 Days Challenge—#11 Name

It has been said the sweetest sound to someone is the sound of their own name. Would you agree?

Names are important because they represent our entity. Our first name is our given name at childbirth. Our last name, also known as surnames or family names are a reference to who we are in relation to our family, who we were, where we came from, what we did for a living or even the physical place of where we lived.

Surnames were not so common way back when. Growing populations created problems with too many people carrying the same given (first) name. Surname comes from the Latin sur, meaning “over or above” combined with -name. Surnames can reflect the occupation of the person. For example:

Carpenter—one who builds with wood.

Fletcher—one who makes feathered arrows.

Mason—a brick layer or stone mason.

Taylor—one who makes clothing.

Smith—a blacksmith or metalworker

They can also reflect geographical locations:

Hill—one who lives on a hill.

Valley—one who lives in a valley.

Moor—one who resides on a moor or open marsh land.

Dale—one who lives in a wide valley.

Milford—one who lived near a mill on a ford.

Other surnames reflect a persons physical appearance:

Long—a tall person

Swift—a fast person

Young—one not yet old as between generations.

Strong—a person of great physical strength.

Brown—someone with brown hair.

Surnames could also indicate positions or associations with important people in a community:

King—a person associated with a king.

Abbott—a person associated with an Abbott.

Steward—an appointee of royalty to act on their behalf.

Lord—one associated with a Lord.

Prince—one associated with a prince.

What is in a name? In many cases lots of things!

Write 28 Days Challenge—#10 Crevice

I find it very comforting God covered Moses with His hand in a crevice as He passed over him. Moses was allowed to see His back.

The Lord had commanded Moses to take His people and leave Egypt. To go to the land He had promised to Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. God told Moses He would not go with them, “because you are a stiff-necked people; otherwise I might destroy you on the way.”

The conversation between God and Moses in the Tent of Meeting is powerful and instructive. Moses provides an example to me. He knows God’s Word toward himself and the people. Moses reasons with God using them. “You have been telling me…”; “You have said,”; “Remember that this nation is Your people.”

Moses does not use Gods Words to remind God of what He has said, but rather to prove he knows Gods word. How well do I know Gods Word, I ask myself.

The Lord answered Moses by telling him His presence would go with him and He would give them rest—“…for you have found favor in My sight, and I know you by name.”

Moses then asked God to “show me Your glory.”

The Lord said He would cause His goodness to pass before him. But, “You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live.”

“…I will put you in a cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by…” the Lord told Moses.

To God be the glory! The mercy He bestows upon us! The example Moses gave us, i.e., we can reason with God, we can ask questions of God. But to me and most important is, we must know Gods Word.

Ref: Exodus 33

Write 28 Day Challenge—#9 Skulk

Skulk about. That is how the uninvited animals at our farm roam about. They skulk. This means they hide or get out of the way in a sneaky manner. Those that skulk and lurk around our farm are not real popular critters with us. For they are hunting our animals that provide a living or protection or company for us. They eat and contaminate our animals food. They carry disease that can transmit to our animals, and they hunt them.

They are, mice, rats, snakes, weasels, raccoons, foxes and coyotes. They skulk around our property for easy food. Our chickens have it worse because they are everyone’s lunch and are free-range. Chickens have completely vanished, have been found dismembered or completely torn to pieces. One thing a farmer, or gardener knows, it is a violent world we live in. I appreciate Joel Salatin’s (American farmer, lecturer, author) remark. “It is a violent world we live in. If you don’t believe me, get naked and go sleep one night out in your garden!”

Because these animals skulk around, we rarely see them. Also, they often hunt early morning or early evening. We have two dogs on our farm. Two dogs are a pack. Though I would not have much hope should the two dogs be charged and attacked by a big pack of hungry coyotes. We hear them yapping at night. It is neither a pleasant or welcome sound. In fact, it is unnerving. They have already killed two of our cats. Skulking around in broad daylight, they are getting far too bold.

A few years back my niece’s job was exercising horses out in the quiet mountain country of Colorado. She packed a pistol because a huge coyote would often follow her around the trails, watching and staring. He never made any advances toward she or the horse. It would have met its demise if it had.

When we see them skulking around we run them off. Except for rats and mice, they are killed. Raccoons, skunks, and foxes spread rabies. We work hard to keep our livestock well. They are part of our livelihood. If threatened, we will do what needs to de done to protect our animals and us.

Write 28 Days Challenge—#8 Shock

Shock is a good adjective for what one feels when given bad news. I mean really bad news. The kind no one ever wants to hear, either about themselves or a loved one. “Why me?” We ask ourselves. It does not seem fair. But often I have wondered what is fair? What about me. Am I fair?

Why, why, why? Remember when our children would ask us that about everything? I did not have the answers then, and I sure do not have them even now. Some things we bring upon ourselves and as such should not be shocked if something goes wrong. This may be simpleton, but if I stay out in the hot summer sun too long I will get sunburned. There should be no shock in that. It is simply cause and effect.

No, it is not what I bring on myself. It is those sad things that are out of my control. The untimely death of a loved one, infertility, or a serious illness. These are those heartaches that cause me to cry out Why?

Yet, the God I serve tells me to cry out, “Abba! Father!” He tells me to get out of the boat and come to Him. He will reach out His hand and rescue me. He does hear when I cry out in shock and sorrow. For He knows how easily I crumble. He is with me. Oh blessed Truth!

So when the shock of bad news threatens to consume me, I turn to Jesus. Jesus saves. He saved Daniel, Peter, the woman caught in adultery, David, Paul, the thrift on the cross, the dying child, the lepers, the tax collector, the unbeliever, and the hemorrhaging woman. These are only a handful of people He cared for. The Heavens cannot contain all He has done for me. He overcomes it all. Glory!

I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world”—Jesus

Write 28 Days Challenge—#7—Snow

I thought of my daughters sassy quip with todays writing prompt—ease—“I’m not feeling it.” So today I am deviating from the prompt.

Early last week we had a delightful skiff of snow fall quietly in the night. To me snow is like magic. I am sure if more fell where we live I may hold a different opinion. But I do not. We can have a good amount of snow at times. This year has not been much, making the bit that fell last week a joy and wonder.

We grew up with our mother reading poetry to us. We still enjoy it to this day. So for today, I would like to share three snow poems with you.

Write 28 Day Challenge—#6 Beliefs

Of all the prompts for this writing challenge, this one is my favorite—Beliefs. Beliefs, or lack thereof, are held by every human being on earth. In truth, even no belief is a belief. We get to choose what beliefs we will hold onto or let go.

Because our country is a melting pot of many peoples from all around the globe, beliefs vary greatly. Our Declaration of Independence recognizes this fact and the freedom to pursue them in the Preamble:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Is this remarkable truth even taught to our children anymore? Where is an argument in this Preamble? Who among us do not hold this belief? If we are not “…endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights,” then who or what or where do these rights come? How unsettling to think any American not holding this belief near and dear to themselves and family.

In the history of civilization this is a radical thought. A driving force in humanity is to gain power and control. Especially for those already in power. It is very seductive. It is for this reason our forefathers drafted The Declaration of Independence the way they did. They declared us a free people, with our God given rights. The role of government is to be a protector of these rights, not the grantor.

I was young and now I am old. I have witnessed our rights being slowly, methodically stripped away. This ought to cause much concern for every thinking American. A few questions for thought: Do you know what The Declaration of Independence states? The American Constitution? How about The Bill of Rights? May I suggest you take the time to re-visit them? And teach your children them as well?

“…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” —Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln

God bless America, land that I love…

Write 28 Days Challenge—#5 Safety

I had safety patrol duty way back in 5th grade at school in Charlottesville, VA. I can still recall the bright yellow strap that went around my waist and overtop my shoulder. Attached to the shoulder strap was pinned the safety patrol badge.

I was official, and took my duty seriously. My duty was to see to it fellow students safely crossed the road in front of the small school in the morning. Students were too busy laughing and talking to pay attention, so it was my job to do that for them.

Each week a different student was assigned as safety patrol. In a way, we shared the load of safety for one another. Know something interesting? A herd of horses do the same thing. Look-out horses are posted around the herd during resting hours of the day and night. This way, the rest of the herd can rest. They too take turns. Gods creation amazes me. How He has cared for us.

Thinking about my safety patrol duty causes me to wonder. Did our teachers at that time have a purpose in assigning students to safety patrol? Were they knowingly teaching us in this subtle way to have a caring attitude toward our fellow student?

I may never know the answer to these questions, but I do believe it had an impact on me in regards to others. After all, Jesus instructs us to care for our fellow man. That is exactly what they were demonstrating to us. I am grateful.

Write 28 Days Challenge—#4 Community

Humans were created in part for community. Whether the locality be city, suburbs, or country is immaterial. Our neighbors may be close or a country-mile away. We are neighbors and part of a larger community.

Our church takes this truth seriously. We have Community Groups within the church body to connect folks within smaller communities. We have Prayer Walks around our community. We simply walk and pray for folks around a neighborhood. We collect food for weeks for food drives to be delivered to those in need in the community. A spectacular outdoor Christmas program is put on by us every year. It brings many folks from surrounding communities to witness the Real meaning of Christmas. This production requires a huge community of volunteers.

Though I do not help in all these activities, I do in several. The most recent of which is the mentorship program. This is my first year in this popular program between our schools and church. Known as the National Church Adopt-a-School initiative started over thirty years ago by Dr. Tony Evan’s. A highly successful program formed between local churches and the public school community. Our church has been a part of this program for a couple years or more.

On-line and in home training are required, along with background checks on potential mentors. Questionnaire forms for mentors were filled out as well. With the consent of the parent(s), and help from the school counselor, students are given a mentor. I was given a 1st grade boy.

Last Spring, 2022, our community pastor invited more congregants to participate in this program. The previous year gleaned such positive results, the local school system asked it to be opened to all area churches, for all the city schools. I accepted the invitation.

It was pretty awkward on the first few meetings. New friendships always are. But now, he smiles big when he sees me, and visa versa. I have high hopes for this sweet mentee and me.