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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Looking for Josiah

As I was driving to work a few mornings ago, I was listening to a morning talk show ramble on about the Presidential candidates.  Mentioned were pros and cons of the various hopefuls, what they had accomplished in their pasts, and speculations on what each one would do if elected to lead our country.  My mind began to wander back to the Old Testament, as it often does when I think about politics and the leadership of our country.  

 For the past ten years, I have taught the same lessons to the second graders at our church, so I feel pretty familiar with the history of Israel.  We start with Israel wanting and getting their first king, Saul, and we go all of the way through the history of the nation of Israel, including the eventual fall of both Israel and Judah to other nations and then the return of the Jews to Jerusalem.  We talk a lot about the fact that God had one simple rule – obey my commandments.   If they just did that, then they would be blessed.  And they did, for a while.  Then they turned away from God, and even each other.    The northern kingdom of Israel had ZERO good kings after the division occurred.   Several years passed before the Assyrians took their land over, and they were known as the lost tribes of Israel after that.  The southern kingdom of Judah fared a little better, as that their kings continued in the lineage of David, but there would be years of good kings and years of bad kings.  In my mind wandering, the good king that I began thinking about was Josiah.

Josiah became king when his father died, and he was only eight years old.  When he was 16 years old, he began seeking after God.  When he was 20 years old, he began removing objects of idol worship from the country.   He even destroyed places in Israel as well as Judah.   When he was 26 years old, he ordered that the temple be cleaned up and repaired.   During this repair effort, the book of the Law was found and brought to King Josiah.  When it was read to him, he realized the sin that the country was, and had been, living in.   He was visibly upset – he even tore his clothes!   He sent to the prophetess Huldah, to inquire of God just how bad things were.   God said that evil would come to that place (Judah) because the people had forsaken Him, but that Josiah would be spared from seeing it happen.  Josiah then stood before the people and committed to follow God completely, and asked the people to do the same.  He simply “cleaned house”, in the entire land.  He also re-instituted the Passover.    The details of his reign can be found in 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 34-35. In verse 25 of 2 Kings 23, the Bible says “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.”   In 2 Chronicles 34: 33, the Bible says “All his days they departed not from following the LORD, the God of their fathers.”  

And even though Josiah did all of these good things, in 2Kings 23: 26 we are told that the anger of the Lord was not diminished because of all of the evil that former king Manasseh had done.  And several years later, Judah was captured by the Babylonians.

The United States of America is on the same path as ancient Israel.  The leadership in our country has forsaken God.  They act as though they are above the rules, the real rules – the Bible.  

I feel that we need a President who will direct the country back toward God, but in the right way, like Josiah did.  He showed the Israelites what they were doing wrong against God’s law, and what it said would happen.  They realized their sin and repented and continued to follow God, just like their leader.  

I have yet to hear “getting back to God” on anyone’s political agenda.  Considering how far the country is down the road to Hades, it would take some pretty creative and persuasive ideas to get the people to at least consider looking at God, much less actually turning to Him.  Our country needs a lot of things that are being discussed these days, like a great plan to get out of debt, but what it really needs is godly leadership.   
So, I’m looking for a Josiah on the ballot.  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It's a Cat's Life

So, as I was sitting here pondering ideas for a post, I looked down at the big, gray, snoring, twitching fuzzball to my immediate right.   And I mean - IMMEDIATE.  He has to be touching my leg, even though he is curled in a ball for one of his many daily naps.   Yep, Bandit.   So, why not a post about the world's most spoiled cat?

Bandit is the third feline to grace our household.  Harley was the first- a big ol' Maine Coon that was the smartest animal I have ever been around.  I had him for about 8 years before Big T and Shadow came into the family.   Shadow was just a happy coincidence about six weeks before we got married.  She was found under the porch of our first house, and I couldn't get rid of her.   Thankfully Harley was the best big bro cat and tolerated her kitten ways.

Bandit was  a pseudo-stray.  We were actually at a nursing home to pick up an adult stray when a car pulled up.   We assumed that the driver was putting this gray kitten out, and of course, Big T went to investigate.  Some conversation later and we were heading to my parents' house with two cats.  The older one was left in the barn, and the younger one was deemed our niece's cat that would live with us.   She named him Bandit to go along with our "motorcycle" themed feline trend.

 He was a tiny three pounds when we took him to the vet but otherwise healthy. 

I firmly believe that Shadow never really forgave us for bringing this pest into her otherwise peaceful life. He explored everything. Even where he didn't belong.   Or fit.
Lots of jumping involved to make it on top of the kitchen cabinets!

I know I filed that catnip in here somewhere.

I fit in here, I know I do.

Yep, I think this is a great location for the linen cupboard. Blanket please.

Now that he is an only kitty, he spends most of his day watching the wildlife in the backyard.
This is his squirrel watching pose.

Or napping.  Or getting ready to nap.  Or just waking up from a nap.

He still has a lot of kitty in him, and he likes to chase and fetch a ball, much like Harley did.  Not sure how he survived this awfully mean trick.

He is good to keep you company when you are working on the computer.

Mouse?  What mouse?

Oh, did you want to use this desk space?

Like most felines, he is territorial.  It is ALL his territory. 

My bench looking out my window
My rocking chair

My couch
Unlike most felines, he gets dressed up.
My first Halloween.  I hate you people for this. Aloha.
My first Christmas.  Ho. Ho. Ho.

He is not picky; he is willing to be spoiled by either of us. But Big T spoils him more than I do.

It's a thousand wonders that he knows how to walk as much as he is carried.

Kitty selfie!

 And we have times that are just weird funny strange, like this time that the weather was getting pretty nasty and he was watching the radar go around and around.  Scary.

James Spann is my hero.

And sometimes he is just......solemnly feline.


 And, well, he can be more entertaining than an Avengers or Harry Potter movie marathon.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Right Royal Night at LRG

For our date night, Big T and I signed up for a Primitive Archery class at Last Resort Guns, a local range right down the road.  Big T goes there to practice sometimes, and he also teaches the NRA Beginner’s Handgun class there occasionally.  Russ Durling, the CEO, was our instructor.  Russ is retired RAF and has a wonderful sense of humor.  He is also quite knowledgeable about bows (and weapons in general).  Plus, I must note that he has a lovely British accent.

The goal of the class was to make a longbow and three arrows and then learn to use them.  For information regarding the English longbow from Wikipedia, click here.

Our class was comprised of six students.  Besides the two of us, there was a mum and her two daughters and another lady.   We began by choosing the colors of our bow string, fletches, and nocks.  Fletches are the feathers for the arrows, and nocks are the pieces on the end of the arrow that notch into the bow string.  My fletches were blue-white-blue, my nocks were yellow, and the bowstring was black.

 Our first task was to make our arrows.  We were given dowels that had been “sharpened” sort of, on each end, but not to a point.   Using an ancient secret adhesive, Super Glue, we first attached the nocks to each arrow on the more pointy end.   

Then using the same ancient adhesive, we attached the pointers on the other end and gently tapped them with a hammer.
My most challenging part was next – attaching the fletches.  Using two popsicle sticks to hold the fletch, we added three small dots of the glue on the rib of the fletch and then placed it on the arrow, lining up with the little bump on the nock.   

 After we had one fletch on each arrow, then a guide was used to mark two more spots 120 degrees apart so that the fletches were equally spaced on the arrow.  After all of the fletches were glued on, then we ran a bead of glue down each one to make them stay put.  Then we set the arrows aside to dry completely while we worked on the bows.
We were all issued two pieces of bamboo, for the bow and the backer.  First we sanded them so that they had smooth edges on the side so that we didn’t get any splinters and so that our bowstrings wouldn’t be cut by a jagged edge in the notches.   

 Next we found the center of both pieces and lined up the centers and tied the two pieces together with leather string on each end with a flat knot.  
Now we had to choose a piece of leather about 5”x8” to wrap around the middle for our grip.  This was also secured with a longer piece of leather lace.    

And to make it very secure, two more leather laces were added between the grip and the other tie points.   Then we added a highly technical piece, a coffee stirrer,(see above) as an arrow rest. 
Lastly, we added the bowstrings.  First we made a loop and attached one end, then Russ showed us how to determine the length by placing the bow between his feet and behind his left knee. He then bent it to an arch to where the bow string would be approx. 13” from the arch.  

 Then the string was looped for the other end.   And tada – our bows were finished!
We are now ready to go to the range and put them to use. 
Big T had a huge advantage over me, as that he has used a bow before when bow-hunting. You can see here that he has a good stance.
  I had never even picked a bow up that I could remember, but with some good instruction,  I was able to hit the target after a few tries at the 5 yard mark.   I didn’t realize that you are supposed to hold the bow at a 10 degree angle; I always thought that it was held straight up and down.  I also learned that the more I thought about the shot, the worse it was.   I did have to keep reminding myself:  “Elbow down”, “thumb on cheek”, and “breathe”.   At one point, I was running through scenes from “Princess Diaries 2”, “Hunger Games”,  and “Lord of the Rings” in my mind, trying to figure out what to do to correct my shots.  I was glad that my shooting wasn't determining my fate or my dinner.

 Russ decided that he would challenge us a little and moved my target and Big T’s target to a distance of 15-20 yards.  I personally believe he over-estimated my skills, but after a few shots at that distance, he put up new targets.  My first shot was a bullseye!  

I freaked out!   Of course, I couldn’t repeat that.  But it was still cool. 

For our last couple of rounds, he let us choose zombie or alien targets.  I got an alien target.   On the very last round, I was able to get three arrows to stay in the target instead of go through it for a very funny picture.   Yay!!

Southbound with the Hammer Down - Turner Travels - Day 7

 When Big T finished his competition, we loaded up the Toyota with his gear, fueled up and headed south.  
Illinois in the rear view mirror

Once again, we did a bit of "shunpiking" and saw some noteworthy sights.   We saw so many homes flying the Stars & Stripes that I had to get one shot just to give them all a shout out.  It was encouraging to see the patriotic love for our country everywhere we went.

I knew that there was a barn quilt trail in Tennessee, but I didn't know there was one in Illinois too.
This one also reminds me of a favorite cousin.

I was on the lookout for old signs painted on brick buildings, but they were few and far between.

This church just had some neat looking windows.  Unfortunately I was shooting from the passenger seat at the red light, so I don't feel that I did them justice.

And yes, we got our kicks on Route 66, for about a minute and a half.

No, we didn't get lost and go to DC.  This is a picture of the Mount Vernon, IL version of the Washington Monument.

As you can see, it was beginning to get dark, and so ended the sight-seeing for this trip.  Plus, we were back on boring ol' interstates.   When you get the chance, travel the backroads.  You never know what you will see!