Running: a calling to reminisce about

To be able to run, run as fast as you can, run until your chest stings, run with joy and excitement, is something I haven’t done in years. When I was a young child, I would run without purpose. Running seemed to be a part of being a child. Running was done on a whim, without any degree of deliberateness. It was always more fun when done with friends or with my cousins. We would run after each other. We would run in circles. We would fall to the ground in complete exhaustion, reenergize ourselves with a smidgen of rest and get up to run some more.

I never really cared that much for team sports when I was in school. Football, basketball, those all-American sports that every kid felt they had an inalienable right to, seemed somehow alien to me. The most exposure I had with these athletic pursuits was in gym class. They always felt awkward; like one of us was the left shoe trying hard to fit a right foot. For some reason that I cannot explain even today, I enjoyed the running associated with them.

As I grew older, progressing through junior high school, senior high and graduating, running became less of a companion to me. There was less reason to run, not that I ever needed a reason any of the times I had done it before. While in college, I spent most of my time studying and participating in a small amount of social activity common to being a college student. I had little need for running. Running hardly ever crossed my mind. I took up smoking while in college. It seemed like the cool thing to do.

Three years or so after graduating college and starting a career in public service, I quit smoking cold turkey, picked up a pair of running shoes and hit the ground running five miles per day. Running at this point in my life, at the age of 26, was like going back to visit an old friend. I continued to run religiously through the years. Then:

In 2,000, I received a diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma. This changed the trajectory of my life. Running was still a calling to me; one I couldn’t answer. My inability to answer the calling was amplified at age 62, when I had to have a hip replacement. Although I had read accounts of people who resumed playing tennis, running or some other hard impact exercise after a hip replacement, I feared tempting shortening the life of the foreign object in my body. Instead, I chose riding a bicycle as a substitute for running. Now, after almost eight years, I’m biking with the same commitment as I gave to running.

When I observe runners on the street, I feel the calling, it’s strong, but I can only reminisce. Isn’t it our calling to do what we can, the best that we can?

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Light

I’m sure I’m not the most observant person in the world; however, I do pay attention to things many people I know don’t bother to collect a clue about. That’s not meant to be judgmental. My powers of observation have kicked into high gear since we’re all hunkered down, trying our best to avoid being infected by the coronavirus. Here’s an example, I was watching a series on Prime Time this evening called Tales from the Loop. This is one of those slow-moving shows about people who live above some weird underground complex called the Loop. Things happen in this place that are super surreal. To be honest, I don’t know if this is a science fiction series or not. Thus far, it’s holding my attention.

One of the characters in the show said something that was quite profound: “You can always find light in the dark.” Now, doesn’t a statement like that get your cerebral juices churning? It’s metaphorical, symbolic, deep, and it represents so much of what we discover to be true at so many points in our lives. I’m hearing and reading so much about people being bored stiff while they are staying at home to protect their health and the health of others. What’s unfortunate for people like this is that they can only see dark. They can’t see the opportunities staring them clearly in the face to do other things. They remind me of what my kids used to say when they were little. Chris and I worked to give them a life so much better than we had. Of course, I’m referring to the material stuff. Let’s assume the love, protection, sense of self, etc. were covered. These little darlings would have the nerve to say they were bored, as they emerged from a room, dedicated to themselves, with every kind of entertainment gadget you could imagine. They had not the wisdom to see the light.

As we meander through the coronavirus event, seeing only the dark seems to be the worst way we can see ourselves experiencing it. I would hope that we all can see the points of light right there within our grasp. Here’s where I would normally give you examples; however, what is light for me may be a 25-watt bulb dangling from the ceiling in a room with no windows for you. Stretch your imaging software, and let it digitally connect with as many items as possible it’s programmed to play. Don’t be analogue.

I want to share with you an experience I’m currently enjoying. I’ve written about a trip Chris and I, along with my oldest child and two cousins had planned to take to Ghana, West Africa the last part of May through the first part of June. Although the trip hasn’t been cancelled yet, the probability of it isn’t looking good. I found a point of light the other day. I’m a member of two Facebook group that deals with issues related to Ghana. While on one of them, I made mention of my disappointment about not going on my planned trip. In response to that, a young man who lives in Cape Coast, Ghana, sent me a note through direct messenger. I responded, and we had a brief, joyful conversation. Since then, he has messaged me each day with a, “Good morning Mr. Hosea. How are you doing today?” Doesn’t seem like much does it? But it is. I’m having contact with a real person who lives where I’m not sure when I’ll be able to visit. He gives me real, close-to-the- ground information about how folks in Ghana are holding up with the global pandemic. Light? I think it is.

I’m old and blessed…you will be too.

A resurrected mind for Easter 2020

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Tomorrow is Easter/Resurrection Sunday 2020. This will be like no other Easter Sunday that I’ve ever experienced, if memory serves me correctly. On Resurrection Sunday, many Christians around the world will be locked down, in their homes because of the Coronavirus. What an irony. What a contrast to what Easter Sunday represents. To me it represents freedom. Christ had been locked down since Friday afternoon, after his body was carried to a borrowed tomb and a stone was rolled into place to cover the entrance. But we in the Christian community know that he didn’t stay there. On Sunday morning early something happened that changed the history and the experience of being a human forever.

I won’t be able to go to my house of worship to revel in the annual celebration of the resurrection Jesus Christ. I, along with those whose churches have the technical capability, will be watching Easter service on my computer. A few members of my congregation will go to the church, the place where we normally meet, and they will conduct a service for many of us to see. It won’t feel the same. I will probably feel a sense of being restricted. I will not be able to freely transport myself to my beloved church building, where I can participate in corporate worship and enjoy the energy generated by people of like mind and spirit.

Wait a minute. Didn’t Christ die for me to feel free from whatever ungodly circumstance with which I might be confronted? Didn’t the Apostle Paul fervently serve Christ even within the walls of a roman prison? Does my being home tomorrow prevent me from feeling the greatest sense of freedom any person can experience? Didn’t Christ die so that I might be free from all the damaged goods the world wants to offer me? Doesn’t the word of God tell me that I should worship Christ in Spirit and truth, and that where I am should have nothing to do with the freedom and liberty that only God can provide?

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I will not allow my traditional theology to take place of my God-given spiritual freedom tomorrow morning. I will experience a sense of resurrection tomorrow morning; a sense that although my body will be contained within the four walls of my home, my spirit will know the freedom Christ has given me. I will enjoy the height of worship, assigning worth and value to Christ in as much praise as if I were in my beloved church building. I’m living eternal life now, at home, and no virus can change that.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be to.

LOVE CAME DOWN!

The global pandemic has interrupted the plans of millions of people. Many of us have finally got the message that were not in control. Jesus, though he had countless obstacles place before him, completed his mission despite them all. That’s an example of Godly control. Amen.

The Godly Chic Diaries

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

A good father sent a good son on this Good Friday– that’s today! It’s the good news, a love story that defines the true meaning of amazing Grace and an unfailing LOVE…

Today we commemorate our Lord Jesus Christ for making a great sacrifice and for freeing us, ALL FROM OUR SINS. He knew the price of those sins was death. He knew the source of those sins was YOU and since He couldn’t bear the thought of eternity without YOU, he chose the nails. By that act of selfless love, Jesus portrayed the STRENGTH, LOVE and FORGIVENESS that lies in the SACRIFICE he made for all of us.

Friends, I encourage you to let this weekend that’s marked in history be…

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Faith perfected by God, housed imperfectly

The faith of a lot of people is being tested right now. If you’re young (in age) or in faith or both, you might feel yourself slipping. You may be asking God why this is happening. You may be scared.  Don’t be alarmed. Faith isn’t a line that graphs upward all the time. It has depressions in the line sometimes, and at others it is fueled with such exuberance that it seems like a ninety degrees vertical line.

The thing is to stay connected to the source (Jesus) of your faith always, because He’s promised to be with you always. While you’re experiencing this period of unparalleled isolation, read (no study) the word; join a cyber church if your congregation hasn’t set up one; call someone who might know the answers to questions you might have; and don’t let this isolation be an isolation from God. And, oh yes, pray, even if it’s about the lapse in faith you might be experiencing.

The bottom line here is to stick and stay. Faith grows over time, even when you might feel that it’s not growing. Body builders, with bulging biceps didn’t get that way over night. As you exercise your faith, it will grow, and God will be pleased. (Hebrews 11:6 tells us that we must have faith to please God). Don’t be intimidated by the exhibitions of faith you see in others. God is the author and finisher (Hebrews 12:2) of your faith, not any other person.

Yes, these are trying times, and let’s be honest even the person who’s been walking with God for a long time is going through a test right now. It may be like a simple pop quiz to some, or an exam requiring complicated written answers to others. It’s a test none the less.

Stay connected to the source (for all of us), and God will see that we’re stronger on the other side.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Roaches, most active during the darkest hour

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I just finished reading my Sunday newspaper. Of course, it feels awkward calling it a paper, since it comes to our home now via an iPad. My paper, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, decided a while back to cease the paper mode, except on Sundays, choosing to provide iPads to subscribers and electronic news content six days a week. So, let me get to the point.

There was an article in the paper this morning about fake police officers. Evidently, there’s been an increase in folks from around the country, who dawn themselves with attire like that of an official police officer, affix blue lights to their vehicles and proceed to stop unsuspecting citizens. The article reported the case of one morally bankrupt fellow who demanded $1,000.00 from someone because they were out and about in violation of the local coronavirus curfew.

During this dark time in world history, there have also been increased reports of ethically challenged individuals price gouging folks in need of some vital product or service. Our state’s attorney general is currently running a regular public service announcement advising people of the law about price gouging, asking folks who observe it to report it.

I have no proof; however, I suspect many of the people who raided store supplies of toilet paper and paper towels a few weeks ago were doing this in order to position themselves as sellers at some point. I recently saw a video on YouTube where someone was trying to interview a woman loading up her pickup to the brim with toilet paper and paper towels, which she had just purchased from a store. Except for some finely chosen expletives directed at the interviewer, there was little insight shared as to why this voluminous purchase was being made. The interviewer tried appealing to the woman’s sense of conscience, by pointing out that her actions would deprive others of the products. This only brought forth additional expletives.

Roaches from the insect kingdom lurk about in the dark (literally), and they scurry for cover when the light shines on them. Oh, but the two-legged kind ramp up their activity during the darkest hours of tragedy and human suffering; the presence of literal light aids them in their nefarious efforts.

The preceding doesn’t reflect my normal observations, which tend to be less negative, at least I hope so. But my chest feels a bit lighter now. I will say with strong conviction that most stories I read and observations I make are to the contrary of the two-legged roach kind. It is the innumerable acts of compassion shown by folks around the globe that will contribute much to getting us all through this, another dark hour in human history.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

The War Of Faith

Unshakable Hope

It is becoming apparent for everyone to see just how fragile the hopes of this world are. It only took a microscopic organism to expose that the hopes of this world don’t deserve our trust.

Mary and I learned this lesson twenty-three years ago when diagnosed with ALS. My health was taken from me, and I lost my career. We sold our home and the family van. Every aspect of our lives, every worldly hope we had, was shaken and crumbled because the motor neuron cells in my brain were dying off.

Hopefully, not to the same extent, but many of you are feeling what we went through so many years ago. Can you see what’s happening?

(God is removing and exposing) “…things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a…

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Am I watching an evolution or devolution?

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I’m not going out much these days. Certainly, the pandemic is the primary thing that’s keeping me tethered to the home front; however, I’m a homebody anyway. The one time I do go out is on Fridays to Walmart to purchase groceries. That trip is presenting an interesting experience. Each week since March 20, I’ve seen changes to my weekly visit to Wally World.

March 20 was the end of the first week that things got serious. It was during this week that we saw a run on every store, from large box operations to pharmacies and small dollar-store types, for toilet tissue and paper towels. It would be nice if the demand for precious metals was to skyrocket in such a way. When I went to Walmart on March 20, the place was packed. There were just as many or more stockers replenishing inventory as customers. The shelves were bare of bread, paper products and a few other staples. I made comments to a few of the stockers, jokingly asking them if they had been able to keep up. All said they were trying. The value of these folks wasn’t loss on me.

I live equidistant from three Walmart stores.  Since living where we are, I have generally never gone to the same one each week. This variance depends of whether I have other errands to run, taking me closer to one rather than the other, or I might just feel like experiencing a variety in location. I certainly can’t experience a variety in what’s being sold, since they all have the same thing to offer. On March 27, I went to the same location as the week before. The inventory of merchandise, dry goods and food stuffs was more in supply than the week before, including toilet paper and paper towels. The brand of paper products I normally purchase weren’t on the shelves, off brand had to do. These wouldn’t allow me to do the wet-paper-towel test seen on TV. I really can’t think of any reason I need to balance a cup of coffee on a sheet of paper towels held between my hands. Oh, I should mention the employees were as friendly and helpful as usual, despite the pandemic.

I just got back from the same Walmart today, April 3, that I’ve gone to the two weeks before. I left home early this morning, hoping to beat any crowds that might show up later in the day. I drove up to what I would consider the main entrance, got out of the car and proceeded towards the door. Low and behold, the door was closed. Walmart was herding all customers into one entrance. The store had formed a cattle chute, of sorts, out of grocery carts, allowing customers to orderly enter the store through one line. They had also marked, with tape, places on the floor for customers to stand, several feet apart. That social distancing is being practiced all over the place. It doesn’t work though. I had a good conversation with the fellow six feet behind me. Someone told me that Walmart wasn’t allowing groups of people to enter, single individuals and couples only.

Out of all I experienced at Walmart today, of one thing I’m certain: Their associates need a big raise. I can honestly say they’re coping well in providing good customer service, whether things are evolving or devolving.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Nature conducts business as usual

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Lately, whenever I sit at the keyboard to write, something about the Coronavirus seems to naturally appear on my laptop screen. I think it would be inaccurate to say the pandemic isn’t on everyone’s mind. Excuse me for adding more fuel to your ad nauseam state of mind, but I must write this.

Preoccupation with the Coronavirus has taken our minds from just about everything except paper towels and toilet paper. There doesn’t seem to be a place on the planet that’s not infected or at risk of being so. It’s almost as if we have forgotten that there are other things happening, many of them are even devastating. As a species, we are forced to multi-task.

I think I’ve mentioned before that Chris and I live in Little Rock, Arkansas. Yesterday there was an event in Jonesboro, Arkansas, a city of roughly 75,000, two hours drive from Little Rock. My oldest child and many of my relatives reside in Jonesboro.  A tornado struck Jonesboro, causing significant damage. Fortunately, no one lost their life. The major shopping location for the city, Turtle Creek Mall was severely damaged. Homes and other structures were damaged also. I was quick to seek information about my family using social media. The news outlets were prompt in airing reports, but they couldn’t provide information specific to my family and friends. In short order, I had all the information required to put my mind at ease. Don’t say that social media is a complete waste of time. I think many who have said that in the past will have a thee hundred- and sixty-degree change of attitude very soon, if they haven’t already.

As I looked at a video of the tornado raking its way through Jonesboro, I couldn’t help but think the world continues to turn (with all its joys and sorrows) despite the blanket of suffering and death brought on by Covid-19. There are still wars going on in places of which many of us can’t name. People are still dying from ailments that have long existed before we even heard of the Coronavirus.

Jonesboro is getting a big pinch of salt added to the international wound that is daily increasing in size. Some things will continue to conduct business as usual; nature is one of those things.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.