Crushing Military Might

My dear sister, first class petty officer, of the Navy is currently on leave, before transferring to another station on the American mainland. Indeed, I look forward to her visit. Sadly, like so many of those in the armed forces, they are emotionally if not mentally distant to a degree. Such exposure to the world puts them in a kind of experience that is alien to most people. And at times their very participation in the military power crushes what noble notions they held. Our prayers are that these souls who volunteer to, in the grand scheme of things, defend the nation from foreign destruction and despotism look up into heaven and allow the Lord Christ to crush their despair. They are introduced to raw good and evil, both often overwhelming.

It is a strain in a relationship when you were already not that close to the person in uniform. I wonder that aside from not sharing due to official secrecy and the pain of recollection, do they remain silent for fear that they will sear us with the melancholy they possess, upon learning what chills their heart? Even those more open about the days gone by on and off duty, there is a subtle pause in speech as if to omit/edit to prevent harming the listener. Exasperation can also be a reason. I quickly discovered how ignorant I am about matters active military and veterans personally know. A common statement is something along the lines of “I cannot relate to the majority of people anymore.”

Veterans Returning to Civilian Life – https://youtu.be/nJUKxmsqpz8

President Eisenhower’s (former Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe – WW2) Farewell Address – January 17, 1961 – https://youtu.be/OyBNmecVtdU?t=8m41s

Still, a fair fraction choose to remain in the ranks. For pragmatic and/or noble motivation they persist. Emotions are mixed in an environment of escapism (drunkenness and fornication), boredom, pressure, peril, and culture shock. Despite all this they see the critical role they play in an ever delicate balance across the nations’ peoples. The United States forcefully restrains many from biting, while likewise keeping more order than there would be otherwise. Considering how many conflicts are in effect, the average civilian can only imagine a greater scale of violence. A small fraction of veterans remember the world wide wars. The succeeding generations of the battle hardened share the scent of fear and death, flashbacks to the moments of the ‘thousand yard stare’.

Sadly, what has taxed the spirits of countless soldiers, sailors, and airmen is the underlying corporatism and politicism that catalyzes the missions at hand. To be a pawn for the economic and diplomatic empire(s) of the United States overseas dilutes the honor of defending the strength of the American Constitution. To bear the responsibility of guardian and mercenary cultivates a deep cynicism for the world at large, laying siege to what separates right from wrong. With you soul on the line, what is there for one to do each day of moral uncertainty? When man fails inevitably, repledge your coat of arms to God. If you cannot trust military command or government authority, persevere in the power of Jesus Christ. After all, He will be the only one to heal and sustain the crushed being of a modern man at arms. Civilians should do the same, for like those in uniform, they find human ambition is a vain thing, even the good it possess made perverse.

Let us remember to pray for those who defend the nation, providing us with protection long taken for granted. Imagine a worse state of affairs in addition to the bloody horror already within our domain. The floodtides are still being withheld. The guardians bear a heavy weight, often times facing ingratitude. They learn in graphic detail how wicked mortals are, how ignorant we can be. Still, many endure the nonsense of sinful systems, hoping that some good will come of it. Indeed, may God make blessings out of what we may do for evil. I do not understand your plight, serviceman. I only know the God who does with open arms, with a light burden to carry instead.

So you, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And what you heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well. Bear your share of hardship along with me like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. To satisfy the one who recruited him, a soldier does not become entangled in the business affairs of life. Similarly, an athlete cannot receive the winner’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer ought to have the first share of the crop. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

[b]Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David: such is my gospel, for which I am suffering, even to the point of chains, like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. 10 Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory. 11 This saying is trustworthy:

If we have died with him
    we shall also live with him;
12 if we persevere
    we shall also reign with him.
But if we deny him
    he will deny us.
13 If we are unfaithful
    he remains faithful,
    for he cannot deny himself.

2 Timothy 1-13

Growing Pains of Life

When we think of a naturally painful period for us, one of the first immediate thoughts is puberty. For women, pregnancy. For men by a greater proportion, perilous labor. Aside from these specific conditions of living, there is still the general pangs of growing up, even far into old age. Our bodies have to break down in order to increase or maintain its strength when healing. Our minds have to be stretched by lesser known ideas and concepts to improve understanding. The soul/heart (for simplicity) has to withstand the trials of the day, so we become more resilient to the state of our individual and shared sinful state of reality. Comfort, pain, and healing are fundamental to man, either as a part of growth or for the sake of thriving in a world corrupted by evil.

Childhood is no less of these cycles. In fact, in some ways it is the most fragile time due to the higher frequency of them, for every year a boy or girl enters a new phase distinguishable from the previous. As much as they can be guided by loving parents and elders, they still need to overcome obstacles alone. If they are not encouraged or pushed to deal with them, that part of their life remains more infantile. Those not brought up to overcome physical pain resemble a babies sensitivity. Children left to be ignorant remain in child like dependence. No personal discipline in good results in lack of distinction from evil when it comes to choices.

Ironically, adults who attempt protecting children from pain as much as possible actually compound the discomfort over the years. Mind, body, and/or spirit struggles with poor pain tolerance. Every new opportunity is overwhelming in some way. Like a new born babe, they subconsciously cling for protection. In common extreme cases, anyone who does not guard their comfort as they see fit is against them, perhaps a bitter enemy only wanting to hurt/neglect for selfish gain. The thing is they are rather useless at dealing with evil, since the lesser cruelties of the world are enough to stop them from taking constructive action. Instead, they will follow anyone who makes lofty promises, only knowing how to destroy and take, not possessing the endurance to create and sustain.

“A man must fight long and bravely against himself before he learns to master himself fully and to direct all his affections toward God. When he trusts in himself, he easily takes to human comforts. The true lover of Christ, however, who sincerely pursues virtue, does not fall back upon comfort nor seek such pleasures of sense, but prefers severe trials and hard labors for the sake of Christ. . . . Divine comfort, then, is given in order to make a man braver in enduring adversity, and temptation follows in order that he may not pride himself on the good he has done. The devil does not sleep, nor is the flesh yet dead; therefore, you must never cease your preparation for battle, because on the right and on the left are enemies who never rest.”

from: chapter 9 of Book 2 Imitation of Christ by Thomas a ‘Kempis (1427)

One story from my childhood. I did a season of pewee football, lasting through the initial conditioning, never having experienced so much strain. It was surprising how much my very young body could do. The first day of practicing tackles with our gear, I was shocked by the physical contact. At the half way point, I was losing nerve, making a short plea with my father to quit what seemed too much. Without hesitation, as he slapped my shoulder pads, he said, “Do not be afraid to get hit. It is a part of the game. Do not quit when it is hard. Get back out there!” Because of his care and authority I obeyed, later earning one of my two cherished helmet decals for tackling, the other for endurance running. These decisions my father made continued my course in life for over all growth. He was not going to allow his flesh and blood to stay a child forever. One day I would become a man facing the injustice of the world.

We do not grow stronger just for our own sake. Heck, for mere security in life, it seems easier just to hide behind the abilities of others. More often than not, those who do so think too highly of their own mediocre ability, rarely having tested it through daily trial and error. No, we strive in spite of pain if not misery for things and people beyond our own comfort. It is how God made us. After all, did He not become a vulnerable mortal through Jesus Christ, humbling surviving then thriving into adulthood, prepared to wrestle with bodily suffering, fallen mankind, and the offerings of Satan. How tragic it is that we do not want to submit to the will of God, though we would rather be weak as well as a slave to sin, rather than strong and free under Christ’s sovereignty.

With pride we are angry that we have to experience pain. We are fine just the way we are, right? Well, considering most of our hurt is self inflected, lashed on others, and decided by those near us or far, I would say, we are not quite good as we believe. We have the inclination to behave childishly, because we lack the maturity God has called us to, being a living sacrifice, as opposed to demanding life from other men to cushion ours. Thus it is natural for some kind of hurt to truly give; discomfort comes with what is acquired to share. Those who avoid pain do not make decent givers of life.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation is addressed to you as sons,

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor faint when you are reproved by Him;

For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
and He scourges every son He receives.”

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.”

Hebrews 12:1-13

Can’t – No, We Won’t

When you agree to be a part of a certain establishment or receive a particular audience, one of the key conditions can be the prohibition of expressing the faith. In this case, signing on to have public/secular school students as guests means a curriculum and theme approved by a Godless state. This practice of keeping religious convictions private, as in out of the public sphere, is thus a choice of willing to do so.

When are we believers going to stop deceiving ourselves about this matter? To salve our own conscience, or perhaps it is a reflection of week spirituality, we declare with a mournful tone, “We cannot share Christ.” Oh no, my dear brethren. We know the conditions of our positions. We decided to do this. In my case, our Christian organization decides to do this. Yes, invite young minds to learn and be physically challenged with no reference to their Creator.

Now, the defense to this ‘strategy’, or whatever it may be called, is supposedly reliance on the Holy Spirit to speak to our visitors. By all means, the Spirit has surely done His work, though is this what God has called the faithful to do? A secondary defense is that this provides revenue to fund the facilitation of Christ-centered groups. Plus, it is an economic benefit to the community. I did not know the Body of Christ negotiated with the world to make His ministry happen. Besides, two consistent trends in feedback reinforce this is not a sound alternative to direct glory of the Lord, the King of kings.

First off, virtually all the spiritual testimonies that are propounded as proof are from groups that come to this place with the purpose of knowing God. Second, because we can be privately Christian but not publicly during secular programs, many if (I hope not) most, view our ministry as a part of the pluralistic social mold. So if anything, are we suggesting to students that faith in Christ is merely a preferred outlook rather than devotion to the Way, Truth, and Life?

“Impatient Christians today explain away the simple beliefs of the saints of other days and smile off their serious-minded approach to God and sacred things. They were victims of their own limited religious outlook, but great and sturdy souls withal who managed to achieve a satisfying spiritual experience and do a lot of good in the world in spite of their handicaps. So we’ll imitate their fruit without accepting their theology or inconveniencing ourselves too greatly by adopting their all-or-nothing attitude toward religion. So we say (or more likely think without saying), and every voice of wisdom, every datum of religious experience, every law of nature tells us how wrong we are.”

from: The Root of the Righteous by A.W. Tozer (1955)

There are those in this organization who were by all means called to be here for longer than others. With that said, we have to reflect honestly with our Lord. As far as His will goes, we can no longer in good conscience claim, “We can’t share Christ.” Instead, we must make prayerful decisions with the knowledge that each of us chose to be in a place where we will not. On top of this, we are being paid by institutions whom do not revere God, to fulfill their expectations on what constitutes education.

I will conclude speaking for myself, though I am convinced at least a few of my co-workers possess the same heart pang. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Thus, these youth are receiving an education without foundation, along with quite possibly a poor witness to what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Indeed, may the Holy Spirit work some good of this in spite of our failures as believers. Still, I can not tolerate having my tongue restrained in what is formally the Lord’s domain, considering the organization would have to enforce these policies. How satirical is that, children of God preventing other siblings from openly sharing about their heavenly Father to little children of the world. My time here draws to a close in due season. Where will I go next? I am not sure. Among my prayers are an open door to any place in any position, where the only person who can be guilty of my silence about the things of Christ our Lord is me. I am reluctant, blessed by place and peers. Nonetheless, not my will but His be done.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

John 15:1-8 (Jesus Christ)

Of Father and Mother

The two that become one flesh create another one, whom shares not just DNA from each parent but an immediate likeness as image bearers of God. This biological & spiritual creation of a person is beyond the wonder of the animal kingdom. It is something of the finest beauty, meant for universal good, founded on the immortal truth of Christ. Indeed, how the Lord set mankind to reproduce itself reflects an intimately loving destiny, a divine will for us to work for higher things, which included collective fellowship/worship of His glory in the earthly dominions bestowed.

The days as a toddler was uncertainty navigated through an inquisitive faith. My memories in Sunday school go back to the second year of life outside my mother’s womb. While she was at work for the postal service in the morning, my father was present until the late morning. As per usual, I wandered into their bedroom after waking up, remembering the digital clock displaying a time around 8:00 am. One day I had slept on my mother’s side of the bed, looking at the clock a few feet away on the nightstand, then inspecting my father to find him still sound asleep. Gazing out the window, the neighborhood was at peace. The sun was out with animals doing their early calls, the occasional resident or city employee going about their day. Directly in the sky the sun was partially hidden by bulbous clouds. Yes, we were not alone. I reached out my hand for the God of Creation. He was mindful of me, placing an already extended hand further, so a mere mortal could be touched by the Sustainer of all things.

I remember at about the age of seven my parents had me watch a video presenting the development of a baby within the womb. The down to earth narration, subtle music expressing mysterious wonder, and colored imagery showed me a process that set me reflecting the shear depth of human life. If anything, this permanently impacted my mind, acting as a cornerstone for my view of people. The chief cornerstone had already been established; I would not remove Him any time in the future, less I forfeit the inheritance of what it meant to be human, under the care of a fatherly and majestic God.

My history textbooks were not the best written. Each year they pretty much repeated the same sequence without diving deeper into any topic. Well, that is what the home encyclopedia set and public library were for. What the Abeka text did offer was a grand layout to understand the heritage of man – good, bad, and ugly. The peoples of the earth are made in the image of God. Our destiny revolves around the will of our Maker. Knowing our ancestors affirms what Scripture confirms about us in relation with God. Thus mankind is not just a part of a mere piece of time. We are involved in God’s eternal holiness, judgement, and redemption. Our parents’ legacies reach beyond death, much more than just figuratively speaking.

“O LORD, our Lord,  How a excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens! Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained. What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen – Even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord,  How excellent is Your name in all the earth!”

Psalm 8

It is no hidden reality that fathers and mothers can fail throughout the rearing of their children. I admit experiencing countless moments of exposure to spiritual attack, emotional neglect, and mental anguish from things said and done (or not). Yet according to our dear Lord, we as a family are corrupted by sin, in need of His restoration. Did not my parents and theirs have to suffer this pain of the human condition? Through it all, anything my parents or I killed, Christ resurrected. Such is through prayer and choosing forgiveness, advancing into His life out of the darkness that strives to bind us. If the family of image bearers is reconciled to stand united on the garden rather than divided on the grave, what a joyous harvest they will bring forth to their table, with excess for their neighbors and relatives. Woe to us who choose pride and pleasure, the streets filled with all forms of poverty.

These are the two things a parent ought give a child, even if it means forsaking so many advantages to them in the world. Firstly, introduction to the God whom made them through word and action – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Secondly, that they are aware of what they are – sinful mortal, divine creation, and human heritage. These things so the two greatest commandments can be fulfilled: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.” Thus they fear and honor the Risen Christ in the face of the evils from the world, dark spirits, and their own fallen desires. The Truth sets us free.

The Cult of Knowledge as Power

“Knowledge is power” – Words rooted in the worship of human strength – hideous with all the foolish stupidity that comes with our thinking. Power to do what? Some say to rule, others to make good in the world. Some desire to accomplish both. Unfortunately, we shall reap neither. The more total the rule, the more thorough the destruction. The good made decays with corruption. What more to expect from those who learn to acquire power? Aye, more so when there is poor discernment in the knowledge sought.

These seemingly noble ambitions are made a danger when set upon the imperfection, the sinful existence of man. The objection: Yes, humans are imperfect but we must progress to what is better for the good of humanity. If only a stained washcloth could help set fine dishes for a meal. Perhaps everything on the table will look clean, only the food is still contaminated by our folly. Good enough, at least we are trying, so is said. This arrogantly stated until those soaked in sludge, Lord forbid blood, take over hosting.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), a witness to the bloodbath of the English Civil War, wrote “Leviathan,” a book of lasting influence which calls for “consent” to a king and government with absolute power. It is worth noting that he is the focus of the above theme illustration for this post. He had this to say about knowledge (Scientia/science) and its relation to a person:

“The Power of a man (to take it universally), is his present means to obtain some future apparent Good. . . . The Greatest of humane Powers, is that which is compounded of the powers of most men, united by consent, in one person, natural or civil, that has the use of all their Powers depending on his will; . . . The Sciences, are small Power, . . . not acknowledged in any man; nor are at all, but in a few [only some can possess this power]; . . . The Value, or Worth of a man, is as of all other things, his Price; that is to say, so much as would be given for the use of his Power: and therefor is not absolute; but a thing dependent on the need and judgement of another. . . . For let a man (as most men do) rate themselves at the highest value they can; yet their true value is no more than it is esteemed by others. . . . The public worth of a man, which is the Value set on him by the Commonwealth, is that which men commonly call Dignity. And this value of him by the Commonwealth, is understood, by offices of Command, Judges, public Employment, or by Names and Titles, introduced for distinction of such Value.”

from chapter 10 of “Leviathan” (1651)

Now, do people really benefit of good (& peace as Hobbes would have it) when absolute power is given to us mortals, whether one or the few? Most are hesitant, perhaps for now, but if we only seek to improve our lot in the world by our own means for what we desire, it is tempting to have faith in sinful souls for a perfect way of life. Did not God warn His chosen Hebrew people not to put their trust in the might of a mortal king – 1st Samuel Chapter 8. Even after explaining the oppression and tragedy a ruler would set on them, they still demanded it, so as to become rich and powerful like other nations.

Instead of gaining the knowledge of God, to be only subject to Him, independent of human power, we often choose the security promised by others, often believing we too shall share in the power. But no, the earthly powers that be think too highly of themselves, categorizing everyone into mere tools for whatever Good they deem worthy. Why fear God, who is supposedly love? Well, because Christ is truth, goodness, and beauty, being the perfect Creator, we too share in these blessed things, gifted through absolute power. On the other hand, we will have to admit the raw fear of a fellow fallen man, either of us being corrupt enough in our knowledge to be sure we have the authority of the Almighty in our own position of life. In reality, behind all our pride, a spiritual power of dark principalities are the ones really pulling the strings of puppets too intoxicated by their lies to see the way, truth, and life God offers as our birthright.

Do these modern men of science and politics believe there are no spiritual higher powers? Trailer for “Symmetry” – hadron collider project https://youtu.be/Cllqr1nmdYk & ceremony for this project attended by world leaders – https://youtu.be/2YS8r6pg9NM

“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.  And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”

2 Timothy 2:20-26

“Then the Lord told Moses, “Early tomorrow morning present yourself to Pharaoh and say to him: Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: Let my people go to worship Me, or this time I will hurl all my blows upon you and your servants and your subjects, that you may know that there is none like Me anywhere on earth. For by now I would have stretched out my hand and struck you and your subjects with such pestilence as would wipe you from the earth. But this is why I have spared you: to show you my power and to make my name resound throughout the earth! Will you still block the way for my people by refusing to let them go? . . . Some of Pharaoh’s servants feared the warning of the Lord and hurried their servants and livestock off to shelter. Others, however did not take the warning of the Lord to heart and left their servants and livestock in the field.”

Exodus 9:13-17; 20-21

My Heritage: Creative Work

Ancestry – Kin Folk

I am blessed to know my family history, a long line of souls who existed through a labor ethic commanded by God, so they could surpass the menial material ambitions of man. Thus is my inherited bounty of rich knowledge and culture rooted in divine will. Cursed is us who forget it in favor of luxury. Such is our downfall if we sit on a cushioned gilded chair, instead of kneeling before the generous heavenly Throne. I cannot fain ignorance of creative generations which overcame the evils of the human heart. Some, as potent examples of warning, submitted to prideful decadent spirits.

My father’s side can be traced back to the early 1800s, my mother’s beginning the following century. The former were of black slaves, freedmen, and white citizens, likely of Irish heritage, possibly also German, since ‘Fulmer’ is an Anglicized form of Germanic surnames. It did not take very long for my ancestors to thrive independently after Emancipation. This may be due to the seemingly diverse skills of those beforehand. The number of colored portraits, which were also made as late as my great-great grandfather, denote a like variation of social status among the non-white members. Passing on trained hands and minds for at least sixty years, the great-great generation continued this self-education, me reaping a crop cultivated for hundreds of years.

 My mother’s side was composed of rancheros and builders. Generally of a balanced Spanish and Meso-American background, the bloodline maintained a common way of life. Not as academically astute as my father’s side, although they possess a focused ethic. A communal outlook quickly forms connections with family and peers. Like my father’s side, the generations have practiced self-education, tending to prioritize a single field. Having adopted this ethic, the paternal jack of skills is reinforced by the maternal fine tuned specialty, even if it is basic manual labor. The best of two worlds have been bestowed to me.

Above all, I inherited a spiritual heritage. The paternity was Protestant of a predominantly Methodist tradition. The maternity is of an extended Catholic line. Regardless of relatives’ personal practices, it was made evident since early childhood how these different forms of Christianity permeated familial ways. It has been of piercing insight to witness what happens when Godly wisdom is embraced or ignored in the relations of kin folk, not to mention their individual well-being. Thus, I find a foundational guidance in direct faith in Christ, desiring to live a natural spirituality indirectly in the public sphere. It can be challenging to be intentional at moments. This intentionality would be unnecessary if one devotedly grew in the God called the Way, Truth, and Life.

Grandparents

Pop Pop & Mom Mom were the elders of dynamic existence. To see them express joy and sorrow, stoicism and frolic, depth and simplicity, was an underlying impact of my youth. Life was of pain and merriment. You can neither walk in excess nor absence or either. When death seems to haunt your home, preying on all you love, mourn then be glad for God being mindful of us mortal creatures. Mom Mom outlasted her husband by a notable number of years. Through it all she prayed. Eventually no longer able to physically care for her loved ones, she poured out a soul of steadfast heart. I fondly remember lasting words she told me in high school: “Those educated and skilled are to help raise others out of the dark.” And “Equality comes from how God created us, different but of the same worth.” Her final prayers were for our prosperity, to continue loving amid suffering. She obeyed the Lord’s command to pour out the last of her heart, so He could personally refill it. “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Grandpa & Grandma (Abuelo & Abuelita) remain as teachers of their successors. That is whomever takes to heart what they say, along with what has been valued. Far past their prime, they still exhibit a strength that very surely only comes with decades of fortitude in heart. Regardless of imperfections in religious faith, the recognition of God as sovereign has been a constant. The family and neighborly ties hinged on the holy, not wavering human passions. Their legacy is one that has seeded golden fidelity, dearly cared for by their children/grandchildren. Creative work builds not just excellent experience; the heart is nurtured to withstand trial in familial unities. As we are blessed with their presence, may the younger generation not assert our contemporary ignorance superior to their time tested knowledge/wisdom.

Parents

In summation, I find myself ever more grateful to the Lord for the father and mother who raised me. The homemaker devoted me in the moonlight to the will of her God. The head of the house desired me, as well as my sister, to be educated on the foundation of His Word. They have both lamented their mistakes, in regret of what may have harmed my upbringing. Who knows what I may have accomplished without the poor decisions? What an irrelevant thing to ponder about. Together we learned, fell, and got back on our feet. All this because they pointed me to the Holy One who faithfully guides our steps. Amid all the knowledge and wisdom imparted to me, a gift several generations in the making, they lovingly made sure I was introduced to Goodness, Beauty, and Truth – in human language He is called Jesus Christ. Indeed, I am a free man within a world of souls in bondage. It is not due to my identity. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

“Let not your heart emulate sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the Lord always; For you will surely have a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Hear, my son, and be wise, and guide your heart in the right way. Consort not with winebibbers, not with those who eat meat to excess; for the drunkard and the glutton come to poverty, and torpor clothes a man in rags. Listen to your father who begot you, and despise not your mother when she is old. Get the truth, and sell it not – wisdom, instruction and understanding. The father of a just man will exult with glee; he who begets a wise son will have joy in him. Let your father and mother have joy; let her who bore you exult.”

Proverbs 23:17-25