We only know what we know.

I often look at my dog and say to her, why did you do that? I do the same thing with my grandkids, especially when they do something strange. I remember the time one of my grandkids was acting up. I made him go to his room (the room that we have dedicated for all grandkids when they come over). He was about five years old at the time. While he was in the room, I went about my normal routine of doing thing retired people do. You know those things that bring peace and contentment. The quiet was welcome, but I guess I should’ve known that it was too enjoyable.

After thirty minutes or so, I went to the room to check on him. To say that I was shocked would be an understatement. We always keep a good number of toys, books and craft items in the room for the grandkids for when they come over. We don’t want the devil to make himself busy in an idle mind. Well, my grandson had certainly been busy, and he had made good (albeit) unacceptable use of some of the craft items in the room. He had used the crayons, freely available, to mark up every wall in the room. I honestly think he would’ve done the sealing too, if he could’ve reached it. I must give him credit for his creative expression. The right side of his brain was in high gear.

When I stepped into the room and saw what he had done, something came over me that caused me to be unusually calm. I took in the artwork before me and asked him why he did what he did. Of course, he had no answer. I think he might have been a bit surprised that I didn’t have steam blowing out of my nose. I was a little surprised that I didn’t, too. At that moment I realized that he only knew what he knew. Crayons were meant to be used for coloring and drawing. That’s what grandpa and grandma had shown him. Grandpa had banished him to a room equipped with four large canvasses and crayons to express himself in grand fashion.  And that’s exactly what he did.

I share that story because it’s applicable to some of the social ills that prevent us from moving forward today. We’re born with a blank slate. We have no sense of hatred, love, joy, etc. Society gets its soiled hands on us and before you know it, we have prejudices of all kinds. We tend to hold these programmed concepts close to our chests; they are what we know. They are the tools we use to navigate, the best we can through a world that needs love, peace and understanding. Reprogramming does happen occasionally; however, not as frequently as many of us would like to see. We know what we know. Too many of us go to our graves with that concept a part of our very being. Maybe it should be written on our gravestones.

Back to the gallery created by my grandson: I left it on the walls for a couple of years. It didn’t look too bad. I’ve seen pictures of ancient cave paintings that don’t look so good. Of course, I was able to help my grandson move beyond what he knew, when he marked up the walls of the grandkids room. He knows better now. Wouldn’t it be great if we could move beyond all the social ills that hold us back?

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


I had to reblog this one. I also posted it to my Facebook page. During time when things moved at a slower rate than they do today, this blog shows that the week between Palm Sunday and the date at the cross was chalked full of activities.


It was the most incredible week. The city of Jerusalem was filled to capacity and beyond. People had come from all over the country to celebrate the Passover. Jesus entered the city gates on the back of a donkey to cries of Hosanna to the Messiah – the son of King David – the rightful heir to his kingdom. Even though they honored Him with praises and the waving of palms, they would soon be screaming for His death. Behind closed doors, one of His own disciples was making arrangements to turn Jesus over to the leaders of the Pharisees. Jesus would continue His ministry in His earthly kingdom – turning the attention of His followers to the Kingdom of Heaven. Those closest to Him were told He would soon be leaving, and they couldn’t understand.

In that week – that very holy week – Jesus turned over the merchants’…

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The ‘er stage of life

I’ve got a birthday coming up in July. That’s four months away, so you might be wondering why I am mentioning it so soon. One thing I find myself doing regularly is comparing my current stage of life to previous ones I’ve experienced. That’s one of the benefits that come with getting older. The title of this blog probably seems a bit confusing, so let me clear it up.

It’s been rather cool for the month of March here in Little Rock this year. It’s cooler than any March I’ve seen in a while. The ‘er stuck in my head and in short order I was thinking I’m older than a lot of people I know. Although I try my best to maintain a healthy state of life, I’m slower than I used to be. The little amount of hair left on my head is grayer than it was a few years ago. Age and cancer have had their way with my body. Recently, a health technician measured my height during a health checkup and discovered I’m significantly shorter than I used to be. I’m larger than I was fifty years ago, but only seventeen pounds. Cars are smaller than they were when I was teenager with a new driver’s license. Communication is faster than it was when I was sixteen, using the party line that served my area of the county. For those of you who may not know what a part line was. It was a community of people with an open line for telephone service. We had to make calls when others weren’t on the line, and we had to respect others by not listening to their conversations when the line was in use.

Do you see where I’m going with this. The older one gets, the more ‘ers they must draw on. Of course, there are more I could list, especially if I used more as a comparative; however, that would just destroy my feeble attempt at levity.

One last one: By the grace of God, I hope that I’m wiser than I was in my twenties.

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

Remembering Hansel

Back in 2020, I made it to Africa. I’ve written about the trip to Ghana, West Africa. This was a marvelous journey to my ancestral home. Accompanying me were Chris, my wife, my oldest child, Felicia, My cousin Hansel and his wife Martha. For those of you who’ve read some of my posts about the trip, you know it was more than a vacation for me. It was a spiritual journey, an adventure like none I’ve experienced before. One contributing element to the quality of the experience was having Hansel along for the ride. Hansel is a cousin I spent a lot of time with as a child. We used to trapse up and down the dusty roads of Cross County Arkansas, looking for things to do among the bushes and creeks that offered dangers as well as fun. I was three years older than Hansel. There were some unfortunate circumstances that haunted Hansel’s childhood; however, I won’t dwell on that. Regardless of what those might have been, we know that children often can find joy regardless of what life throws their way.

On November 29, 2022, Hansel made his exit from this plain of existence. Losing friends and family members is always an emotionally trying experience. With Hansel, this experience was uniquely different. After I graduated from high school, I lost contact with Hansel. He moved from our tiny hometown of Wynne, Arkansas and relocated to Nebraska. I saw him when he came back to Wynne for his father’s (my uncle’s) funeral. Except for that, I didn’t see him for years, until he and Martha began returning to family reunions and funerals. He had built a life for himself which was qualitatively much better than the one he lived back when were kids. He had spent time in the military, where he learned skills that were transferable to the civilian sector. After his time in the military, he had a successful career in the petroleum industry. Five years ago, fed up with the cost of living in California, Hansel and Martha moved to Sierra Vista, Arizona. I recall a conversation I had with him while we were in Ghana about the joy he was experiencing living in Sierra Vista. He talked about how much he was enjoying living in a small town that had all the amenities one would ever want.

On February 18, 2023, I attended a memorial service for Hansel at the little church he attended in Sierra Vista.  I’m not one to attend a lot of memorial services. For a good part of my life, I could say without doubt that I had attended fewer funerals than I have appendages on my body. Unfortunately, that claim changed within the last two decades. As I’ve grown older, there are more people who’ve touched my life making it my duty to pay my respects to them once they die. Hansel was one of those people. Making the trip from Little Rock, Arkansas to Sierra Vista, Arizona was a tiny price to pay to say goodbye to my cousin.

Hansel had only lived in Sierra Vista for five years. As Listened to the heartfelt words of the members of his church pay homage to him, I was amazed at how he had impacted them so much in such a small period. I plan to write about Hansel’s church (The Sierra Vista Church of God) in another blog; however, I wanted to mention it as a precursor to that planned blog. The best way for me to describe how the members of the Sierra Vista Church of God felt about Hansel is they loved him dearly.


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

       The constant human condition

I’ve been known to drudge up old posts that I did on Face book long ago. This one below popped up this morning when I logged into my Facebook account. I posted it nine years ago. With work in such turmoil these days (wars, financial uncertainty, culture wars), I thought this post with strike a chord.

Hey, everybody:

Some of you who attend my Sunday School class have heard me say before that the human condition remains constant, even though technology changes throughout history. There are two things that keep this thought fresh on my mind: 1) my beloved son always telling me that things are different with his generation than they were with mine way back in the last century, and 2) the Holy Scriptures.

Let me explain. We’ve been studying from the book of Genesis in Wednesday Bible study, moving thus far from chapter one to chapter forty. As you know, sin was introduced early in chapter three, with Adam and Eve partaking of the forbidden fruit. Later, we see crimes committed that are motivated by such dark emotions as envy, lust, greed, jealousy and so on. As we’ve gotten to chapter forty, I’m seeing the same thematic tone; humans are making a mess of things because of the same flaws: envy, lust, greed, jealousy and so on. If you read the scriptures and then read the contemporary newspapers, you’ll find the same flawed human condition responsible for society’s ills. Regarding my son’s argument, his generation is prone to make a mess out of things due to the same, age-old dark emotions.

Can’t you see what I mean when I say that the human condition remains constant. But it doesn’t have to be, because the downwardly spiraling cycle can be broken by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord, Savior and trusty friend. God bless you all…

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

Twenty-three years and counting

Anniversaries are important; they mark the occurrence of many events in our lives. Each first Sunday at my church, members are given the opportunity to stand and be recognized for having a birthday or wedding anniversary for the month. Members with wedding anniversaries are asked to state how long they’ve been married. It may seem a bit corny, but it’s one of the welcomed traditions we practice that brings a smile to the face of all.

Today, March twelve, is an important, personal anniversary for me. It marks twenty-three years since I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I’ve written several times about this horrible form of blood cancer from which I suffer. Here are links to two post I’ve published previously : https://oldblessed.com/2016/06/24/a-dark-companion/  https://oldblessed.com/2016/12/21/ownership-of-my-cancer-is-a-shared-affair/  To be diagnosed with a disease that yet kills forty-five percent of its victims within five years of diagnosis, and still be around after twenty-three years, is  definitely something to celebrate. Wouldn’t you agree? At the time I was diagnosed, the overall survival rate for people diagnosed with multiple myeloma was thirty-five percent beyond five years. The rate for that same period of survival currently is over fifty-five percent. For four percent of people who are diagnosed at an early stage, the five-year survival rate is over seventy-seven percent. I wasn’t an early diagnosed patient. That’s even more reason to celebrate. My oncology team calls me a poster child for multiple myeloma.

During my early years of living with this disease, I looked at the future tentatively. At some point, not sure when, I began to realize multiple myeloma didn’t give me some unique inability to dream about what the future might bring. The future is no more certain for an Olympic athlete as it is for me. More than ten years ago, I accepted the fact that my joy for life came in making the most of each day that came my way. Isn’t that the reality for everyone? Now, I enjoy the peace that I’m convinced my Creator wants me to have. The burden of worrying about whether I’ll be around tomorrow, the next day, or the next year is absent from my life.

And so, I’m twenty-three years and counting, and I’ll continue to count until I’m not here to count anymore. Happy anniversary to me, and to all other multiple myeloma patients who might be celebrating an anniversary around this time.

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

The normalcy of violence

The following popped up in my Facebook feed this morning. It’s a post I wrote nine years ago. After reading it, I thought it would make a good blog, since it echoes the situation in my little cosmopolitan city today. Little Rock is currently experiencing far too much violence. Our population is 203,000. For 2022, we had eighty-one killings, a record number. City and community leaders are scratching their heads and actively working to stem the tide of violence in our city. I know that sounds horrible for such a small city, but I caution you to not construct an image of people roaming the streets of our city hankering to find someone to kill.

My twenty-two-year-old son just told me about the death of a friend of his, a young man about his age. When he mentioned it, I assumed this death wasn’t due to some natural cause. Does my conclusion speak volumes about my morbid perspective of the world, or the sad state of affairs in society? It’s probably more of a testament to the latter than the former. My son’s friend was shot. Although my son didn’t know the details, he simply said he was shot in a club.

Since about his junior year of high school, my son has, with some regularity, received the unfortunate news that one of his friends, associates, or homeboys has lost life due to some violent act. His emotional response to receiving this sad news is usually tepid in tone. I notice in him an almost, “that’s-the-way-it-is” reaction. I’ve even heard him refer to Little Rock as “Lil-Iraq.” That play on words says a lot about his generation versus mine. From my teen though early adulthood years, my friends and I got most of our bad news about young men dying from war statistics, the war in Vietnam not in the streets of America. After sixty-three years of living, I’m beginning to get a sense that each generation has its own population reduction process for robbing the future of human potential. I know that sounds fatalistic. I don’t mean to sound so, but the facts are what they are, aren’t they? God help us.

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

Women, an untapped resource for peace, maybe?

Wangari Maathai first African woman recipient of Nobel Peace Prize

I just finished watching Star Trek Discovery Season Four for the third time. For anyone who follows me, you might remember I’m a huge Star Trek fan. I’ve been watching Star Trek since it was first broadcast on television in 1966. Through the years this entertainment staple has changed considerably. One thing that became obvious to me while watching the fourth season was the preponderance of women on the star ship. The captain is a woman, most of the bridge crew are women, and women serve in major areas of operation throughout the ship. I’m sure the producers of this entertainment giant didn’t cast the actors for the show haphazardly. There was no doubt a message there somewhere.

When I began my blog seven years ago, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to produce a title uniquely appropriate for me. At the time, I was sixty-five-years-old and a sixteen-year survivor of cancer. Sixty-five years may not seem very old; however, when the factor of cancer is added to the mix, old is appropriate. Now, the handle old and blessed is even more appropriate. I have beaten the odds the world might have waged against me. My age has granted me the opportunity to see innumerable amounts of history unfold in this oftentimes troubled world in which we live. One thing I’ve noticed is that women are often a productive, behind the scenes calming force. They are the servers of family and community, not always eager to have their ego fed for doing what comes natural for them.

I was brought up in a family where women were strong influences on my life. I don’t mean to diminish the important role men played; however, they weren’t there in the numbers women were. Women taught me how to care, serve; how to seek peace in situations that could have escalated to the point of conflict. I remember when I first learned that women were the backbone of much of the civil rights work history attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was not a surprise to me that that was the case. It also wasn’t a surprise that Rosa Parks, a woman who refused to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, sparked the beginning of the thirteen-month bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. Women have played invaluable roles in supporting the Black church, ensuring its sustainability from its birth until today. And although their contributions have been undeniable, they are often denied the recognition and opportunity to serve in certain roles because of Biblical interpretations that place men at the forefront of organizational leadership. When I read the Bible, I’m impressed by the important roles woman played in supporting the work of Jesus. I don’t recall Him saying anything about relegating women to the back of anything. Women were the ones who first received the message of the resurrection, were they not?

Malala youngest recipient of Nobel Peace Prize

I’m watching events unfold in the Russian/Ukrainian war, and I’m dumbfounded to think of any sensible reason this is even occurring in our time. One would think that in the third millennium a civilized nation would’ve reached a point where the slaughter of innocent civilians by a powerful military apparatus would be unthinkable. However, the testosterone-driven paranoia of a demagogue has brought about a state of unrest around the globe. The unrest is fueled partly by the thought that there are so many potentially threatening shoes in Putin’s arsenal left to be dropped, the nuclear option being the most frightful. Would we be in this position if a woman was in power?

Yes, I know I’m making what some might consider some broad generalities here, but I can’t help but think more women at the helm just might result in a more peaceful society where listening before guns are drawn might become the norm. I do realize that some women have developed a mentality straight out of the playbook written by men; living in a man’s world has prompted them to adapt, or risk failure. I would hope those chameleons are few and far between.

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


This is not an easy topic to write about. I’ve thought about it for a long time, and how I might address it in a blog. When I first started my blog, I told myself that I primarily wanted to write posts that were positive and uplifting. As I look back over the seven years that I’ve rented this space to share my observations about people and the various experiences they have, I realize I’ve not written very much about hurt. Of course, I’ve posted musings about my cancer and other kinds of physical discomfort, but I’ve not written much about the hurt that generates energy deep within the center of a person’s being. That hurt that occupies space within us and is sometimes triggered by a movie we’re watching, by something someone says, by a smell that reminds us of something from our past or any number of emotional encounters.

My purpose isn’t to depress you, but to offer awareness of an emotional platform we all have inside of us. A platform most of us don’t wish to visit. Sometimes it causes us to resist certain things like close relationships for fear we’ll be hurt. That fear comes from some experience/experiences we might have had decades ago. It might have occurred when we were in elementary school, middle school, or high school. At the time it happened, we might have sloughed it off as if it were no big deal. We might have wanted to be a member in good standing with the in-crowd. Bringing something that bothered us to the attention of a friend, who might have said something hurtful would have shown weakness. That word, that phrase, that act was quickly tucked away to be buried under years of lifetime experiences. Those experiences would consist of things like graduating from college, having a successful career, getting married, having children and so forth. One day, we get an invitation in the mail to a thirty-year high school reunion, and that thing, that hurtful thing rises from the deep. It hurts just as much as it did over thirty years ago. You thought you had gotten over it; however, you know that the minute you see the person who hurt you back to an exact moment in time. You’ll have to deal with the experience from long ago all over again. You feel so infantile, but the feelings are real.

I know, you’re probably thinking now that I’m speaking from my experiences. Maybe, maybe not, but as I said earlier this hurt is more universal than most of us care to admit. It is a part of that brokenness that many of us have adjusted to. The interesting thing about it is that it doesn’t prevent us from successfully moving forward in our life’s journey. I’m not a psychologist, so I’m speaking from the position of just a human being who knows we have stuff to deal with. I have no solution to offer on how to deal with such things. Okay, I’ll admit there is a bit of me in this post. You know one of the interesting things about that high school reunion is that when you see that person who hurt you, they look nothing like the little devil who caused you emotional harm decades ago. And to make matters even more confusing is that they’ve found Jesus. What are you supposed to do then?

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