Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Rants and ramblings

  Today is Wednesday, November 20. It is shortly after 10 pm, and I haven't done much since getting home from work around 5:20. Part of my evening was spent lying on my couch and listening to Christmas music by the lights of the Christmas tree and other Christmas lights in the room.

  To be honest, I haven't really felt like doing much. I am off tomorrow, so I am in no hurry to go to bed. I am actually a night owl, preferring to stay up late and sleep in, but when I start work at 6:30 am, I can't be staying up past midnight like I will be doing tonight.

  Blogging is something I finally decided I felt like doing, so here I am about to embark on another fascinating look into the mind of Mark Buzard (sarcasm intended). I have a few things on my mind, and it is possible and likely others will come up as I share my thoughts and invaluable (to me) opinions. :)

**I started this blog post on November 20, and just ended it on December 11....so this is 3 weeks of "stuff". And yeah, that means it is long. If you are one of the few who read my blog, pick and choose. If you read it all, you deserve a special award.

1) Styles

 A new tree skirt got me to thinking about styles. I have had a plain Jane green felt cheap tree skirt for years.....like at least 20. Since I put up two trees this year, I kind of needed two tree skirts. I love the old red truck decor and look, but I could only find them on line, and they are pricey. I checked at Walmart and found a different one that I liked for $19.98.....more than I wanted to pay, but I figured it is only the second one I have bought in my entire life, I might as well splurge a bit. As you can see above, it has a car pulling a small camper trailer, and there is a tree on the car. The message says "Oh, what fun!" It isn't the red truck, but it is me. It fits my style.

   I am glad we are all so different in our tastes and styles. What a boring life it would be if we were all the same. Is that something God worked out, that people would be different in things like that? What causes us to like certain things, and dislike others?

 I have long ago established that I am not your typical guy or bachelor, and why. My "bachelor pad" doesn't look like what one might expect in a bachelor pad. I am clean and fairly neat. My dining room and table are a slight disaster right now since Christmas gifts are scattered all over, but that is not the norm for me. I don't have empty pizza boxes lying around, nor do dishes pile up in my sink. I make my bed most days, complete with 5 decorative pillows.

 My style is my own:

I like to decorate with lighthouses and other nautical decor

I like books, so there are books and bookshelves all over

I like the red truck look, and love to decorate for Christmas.

My bedroom is patriotic/Americana

I don't throw towels on the bathroom floor.

I hang my clothes up, and throw ones I wore in the clothes basket

I hate to dust. (so is dust part of my style?)

I have two teddy bears and two snowmen as part of my Christmas decor.

My tree is absent of the typical glass ornaments (the last 2 years). It is covered with a montage of nautical stuff, lighthouses, superheroes, Mario, red trucks, lanterns, and different rustic type ornaments.

I prefer jeans, short sleeved button down shirts, and sandals.

I have a plain grey sofa and brown recliner in my living room, set off by a long black stand with storage.

I like Southern Gospel music and some country

  I have my own style, and you have yours. And isn't it amazing that God gave us all such different tastes, likes, and dislikes?

2) Frank Loesser, what were you thinking?!

  Do you know who Frank Loesser is? He wrote one of the worst Christmas songs to ever be written in 1944. I didn't realize the song was that old: "Baby It's Cold Outside." It has been recorded as a duet more times than the last two presidents have lied combined. I think the worst is Dolly Parton and Rod Stewart. Or was. The song has reached a new low.

  Last year, the political correct idiots attacked the song. Yeah, it is a horrible song....but they attacked it because of the "Me too" movement, and claimed it encouraged rape or some stupid stuff like that. So...singers Kelly Clarkson and John Legend decided to see how irrelevant they could make themselves become, and recorded more politically correct lyrics to it. Here's a thought: let's stop playing the song because it is an awful song.

 Political correctness is stupid. What next, banning God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen because it doesn't tell women to rest, or would the feminists be offended if it did tell them what to do.......

 **Ironically, the Fifty Shades of Grey movies and books don't seem to be offending the same crowd offended by a stupid song.

3) The invasion of politics 

 Ben Shaprio is a genius, and one of my favorite conservative writers. He wrote a great article today titled "How to disunite America." It was mostly about Chik fil a and the way the left has fought and bullied them. Here is part of it that I thought was really good:

"But there’s something even more troubling going on here. In a free country, of course we get to choose which businesses to patronize. But is it good for the culture for us to segregate our business based on examining the politics of those who own our companies? Do we really want a country where we shop based on political affiliation? Where every decision, every day, is rooted in partisanship?

America’s social fabric is already fraying. Politics has invaded everything from education to sports, from movies to fashion. Should politics now determine where we buy a chicken sandwich? A country that punishes restaurants because its founders don’t openly celebrate same-sex marriage is a country destined to bifurcate. And that’s pretty fowl."

  And he is right. It is sad how so much is influenced by politics and political correctness. My favorite superhero is Captain America. Chris Evans, long time Captain America actor, is retiring from the role, and will be replaced by a black guy. There are other TV roles that have had whites replaced by blacks, or men replaced by women... and characters suddenly becoming gay. And don't get me wrong....I have no problem with black people or black superheroes. I loved the Black Panther movie, which had a black superhero and mostly black cast. But why must we drag politics and political correctness into everything?

  I talked about Chik fil a caving to their longtime LGBQT bullies in my last post...which they seem to be backtracking on now....in my post, I was not at all telling people to stop eating there. My whole point was that the reason for their huge Christian and conservative support was because of the boycotts and because of their Biblical values, and if they caved to the LGBQT, the reasons for our support would cease to exist. No matter what, I wouldn't completely stop eating there. If I go to the one my nephew works at and he is with me when I pay, I get his employee discount. Pretty cool :)

  I believe the most important issue to Christians and anyone with a conscience is saving the unborn from being murdered in the womb. If I know a business or organization is funding the murder of innocent babies, that would be a business I would try to avoid.

 But how far should we take that? I would imagine almost every business out there is giving money to something we would oppose. Does it make sense to even try, and does it really help anything? Does it make our country more united, or more divided? And if we aren't consistent with everything else in our life, does it make any sense at all?

 The LGBQT mob has shown how horribly people can act when a business or people dare disagree with them. Do we want to be like that?

4) The trans apocalypse 

  The whole transgender thing is getting out of hand. There was a video shared of a boy trying to be a girl crowing that he can now go in the girl's bathroom and locker rooms at his school because the idiots on the school board voted that way. A girl from the school was in tears over the decision.

 There are constantly biological males becoming "trans" and participating in women's sports and beating the women.

 Why are't people rising up against this insanity? Where are the parents of the girls in these schools? Where are the feminists when these sports crap happen? Is everyone so afraid of the LGBQT crowd that they are going to lie down and let them do whatever they want unchallenged? Has the LGBQT mob grown too powerful?

 Here is the blunt truth: You cannot change your gender. Any attempt to do so is to go against God's design, and only increases the chances of suicide. Yes, I feel badly for those who struggle in this area, but they need help.....not encouragement in their delusion. And why on earth is everyone bowing and surrendering to a small group of people while saying "screw you!" to the majority? Why do the feelings and rights of those outside the LGBQT matter? Why are their rights always mowed under for the rights of the LGBQT?

  I am attracted to other guys, and have struggled in that area for years....so I get the feelings that a lot of gay people have, and how the church and Christians have hurt so many. But we have gone so far beyond tolerance and it not being our business what people do in their bedrooms. I believe 100% that the militant part of the LGBQT crowd wants to destroy Christianity, and want to completely silence any dissent or disagreement....and especially anyone daring to say it is wrong or sinful.

 The LGBQT crowd has screamed about intolerance for years, but they have become what they hate: intolerant. And bullies.

 Will anyone dare stand up against their agenda?

5) Which is better, to not love, or love and have the love lost?

  I spent years faking that I didn't want to get married, but it was just a cover so people wouldn't question or suspect why I have remained single. I have come to the point that I realize even married people and dating people can be lonely, and a relationship is no guarantee against loneliness. I have always been disgusted by divorce. Here are tons of people fortunate enough to be able to marry and have families, and they mess it up. Then there is me: desperately wishing I could have a family, but doomed to never have that.

 Is it better to never love and be loved, then to have it and lose it? There is a man I don't personally know, but know of, and I also know a lot of his relatives. I don't believe he even had a serious relationship until he was in his late 30's. He married about a year ago at the age of 37, and lost his wife in a tragic car accident a week ago. Would he have been better off to have never dated and married than to be going through what he is going through now? Would those suffering the loss of a spouse through the evils of divorce be better off to have never dated and married?

 No one knows. Life is lonely, but I'll never have to deal with the loss of a special loved one in my life. Am I better off for it?

6) The danger of politics

  I have discussed on my blog before how I believe Christians are too political. I have been seeing some things that truly concern me, but it seems that anyone who voted for Trump and support him are completely oblivious. Being on the outside of my political party gives me a unique view on things I may not see if I toed the party line.

  It seems Donald Trump has become more than a president to many in the Republican Party. I don't say this to be rude or ignorant, but too many Christians act like Donald Trump is their savior, and not their president. There have been several referring to Trump as "the chosen one" lately. One lady shared that God was grooming Trump for years to be in the place he is in. Social media is flooded with what I have taken to call Trump apologetics. No man deserves the blind loyalty, constant praise and adulation, and over the top defense that he is getting from Christians. Too many are more vocal about praising him than they are God.....and God is the one they are supposed to be serving.

 And truth has ceased to matter. If a post makes Trump look good, or makes a Democrat look bad, Christians will share the daylights out of it and also "like" it. Example:

  A Christian shared this, and it was liked by others. But is it true? No, it is not. Obama was a horrid president, but he never banned saying Christmas. In fact, there are videos of him on YouTube saying "Merry Christmas", nor is Trump taking a stand the way the meme says he is. The meme is an outright lie, but since Trump is so loved by his supporters and it makes him look good, it will be shared a lot. There was one last year saying there were no Christmas trees in the White House while the Obamas were there, but now there are since Trump is there.....but that also is not true.

  Has politics so invaded Christianity that truth doesn't matter anymore? There were times I was going to share something about Obama, did some research, and found it wasn't true.....so I took it down. I think I may even have shared some things I took down after finding out they weren't true. No one is perfect, but Christians should be really careful in this area.

 Below is another eye roll meme:

    Now consider this logically. Trump was a liberal holding views opposite everything conservatives believed before 2016. Even if he truly changed all of his views (which I don't believe), do you really and seriously believe his kids also did? They couldn't even vote for him in the Republican primaries because they were registered Democrats....something I still find hilarious and awesome. They have been lifelong liberals. Ivanka has been trying to implement policies that are just like Hillary's. Her husband has all kinds of liberal ties and has his hands in some not so good and honest things. But some Trump supporters idolize Trump and his family so much that they don't even consider what kind of people they are or what their policies are....they are putting their hope and everything else that belongs to God in the Trump family. Barron Trump is like 13? No one has a clue to what his polices and values will be when he is old enough to be president. To want him (or his siblings) to be president because he is a Trump is complete idiocy, and is how the liberals act that we think are so horrible.  Besides, we do not have nor want a monarchy.

   Even the Make America Great Again slogan gets to me. Even if Trump isn't the godless corrupt arrogant narcissist I consider him to be, no man is going to make America great again. Only God and a return to Biblical values and principles will do that. I honestly don't believe a true Christian should be going around parroting that phrase or wearing the hat. It just shows that Trump has become an idol and/or god to many in the Republican Party. It is truly alarming to anyone who is paying attention at all.

 Here's another one below that bothers me. (OK, there are a lot of pro-Trump memes and posts that bother me). I don't comment on every Trump meme or post I see....I'd never be done - but I do on some, and I did on this. It was posted by a Christian friend who posts way more about Trump than God. My comment was "Shouldn't the best part of waking up be that God is in your heart and that you are a Christian?" We argue a lot about politics, so she is used to it. But seriously. You may think the meme is OK and I am being dumb about it, but am I? Should a Christian post the best part of waking up is something so earthly as having any person as their president, no matter what he is like?

  I could post more memes and give more examples of the over the top Trump mania, but I won't. Besides, I don't think it matters to many Christians who support Trump. It seems to me they are more comfortable and OK with having doubts about God and questioning God, than questioning Trump or expressing doubts about him. I don't call Trump the Republican messiah just to get a rise out of people. He truly has too high of a place of important in the lives and loyalties of Christians in the Republican Party. And I am not trying to be rude or ignorant. Trump supporters are unwilling and/or able to express any doubts or criticisms about and of him....yet I know of many Christians who have admitted to having doubts about God at different times in their lives.

  The way Christians acted towards me for not voting for Trump, for still opposing him, and the over the top adulation, etc they have towards him has truly caused my faith to take serious hits. Is this true Christianity: badgering people to vote like you, deleting or blocking them for daring to criticize your politician, filling your social media with praise and adulation of that politician while putting down anyone who dares disagree with him? Is politics and winning elections more important than how we treat people and make them feel? Is it being like Jesus to be this partisan and political? And does the average Christian even care?

  And yeah, I have my own faults and am not even close to perfect....I just hope and pray I never act with any person the way so many act with Trump. Obama and Trump have both shown how easily the anti-Christ will fool even Christians..especially if he comes across as a political savior.

7) Black Friday

  I went shopping at 2 pm on Black Friday with my youngest sister and her husband, my three nephews, youngest 2 nieces, and the youngest one's boyfriend. We met in Boardman, and I carpooled with the nieces and the boyfriend. My oldest niece and her boyfriend met us later for supper at Steak and Shake.

 We had a blast, and I bought an air fryer, something I have been interested in for a while. I used it a couple of times already, and like it.

8) The airfryer

  I have been interested in getting an air fryer for a while, and found a good deal on a 5.5 quart on Black Friday. Regular price: $120.00. Sale price: $49.99 with a $20 rebate, final cost: $29.99. I have only had it since Friday, but have used it 4-5 times already. I did chicken, pork chops, ham,  french fries, and potatoes in it.  I love it.

**OK, it is not December 7, and I have used it even more. I love it more and think it is going to be a serious relationship.

9) Will morals matter in 2020?

   A friend did a post today thanking Pete Buttigieg for making evangelicals care about morals again. I admit the post was in response to a comment I made on a political post about Pete. I commented with the popular slogan of 2016: "we aren't electing a pastor." I am not trying to be rude or ignorant, but I have wondered ever since the 2016 election what effect it will have on moral issues in the future. Can any Trump supporter truly oppose anything immoral in a political candidate without being a hypocrite and having a double standard?

  I mentioned it before, but two atheist friends of a friend of mine commented and said after seeing the way Christians defended and supported Trump, they don't want to hear a Christian bring up morals.

 I tend to compartmentalize Trump voters.

a) First you have the ones I believe need to repent: They are the ones responsible for picking the most liberal and most morally reprehensible candidate for the GOP nomination. They are responsible for giving us two evils to pick between on election day, unless you did as I did and voted third party.

b) Then there are the ones who voted for Trump in the main election because he was on the Republican ticket, and they feared his buddy Hillary winning.

c) Thirdly, there is the enthusiastic Trump supporter, who didn't necessarily support him before he won the nomination, but once he did, they became an instant Trump apologist.

d) Then there is the quiet Trump voter. They voted for him, but steer clear of politics on social media, and most likely off of it. My friend Avis is one of those. She devotes her social media to encouraging and uplifting posts. I only saw one political post from her that I remember, and that was a few months ago when Trump announced he had matchless wisdom. She called him out for that. Imagine if we were all like her and used our social media to glorify God and encourage others. What a novel thought.

e) Lastly, the Trump apologist. This one can encompass some of the others. This person constantly defends everything Trump does and says, and spends their time on social media praising him and putting down anyone who dares criticize him.

   I said all that to say I do not lump all Trump voters and supporters together. But let's refresh Trump's shortcomings that have been defended by way too many Christians in the Republican Party. And before I do, let me say there is no way the man is a Christian. The road is too narrow for the way he lives and the way he treats people...... and come on, a conversion right at election time, and James Dobson had to announce it instead of Trump himself?

a) His adulteries. He cheated on at least two of his wives, and I believe bragged about it.

b) Strip clubs in his casinos. I seriously thought this would be a deal breaker, but nope. It didn't matter to evangelical Christians.

c) He bragged about grabbing women by their genitals. Which is sexual assault in any book.

d) He paid off a prostitute.

e) He is vulgar

f) He is dishonest

g) He promised to further gay rights, was for genderless bathrooms, and appeared at a LGBQT rally for him where he held a flag "LGBQT for Trump."

h) His current wife cheated with him on his previous wife, and posed in lesbian pornography.

i) calling we #nevertrump conservatives "human scum". (Yeah, I had to put that in).

j) He was good buddies with Jeffrey Epstein. I only add that because so many like to point out Bill Clinton's friendship with him, yet ignore Trump's

   I could come up with more, but those are the highlights. Now look at those and imagine a politician with a D by their name was guilty of all of those. Can you honestly say Christians in my party would be silent about all that? Would they defend the candidate? Would they say "judge not!" "We aren't electing a pastor!", etc. You and I both know that all would be ammunition against a candidate with a D by their name. Conservatives are still bringing up what Bill Clinton did. Imagine if Hillary or Michelle Obama had done any porn, especially lesbian. Would my fellow conservatives be saying they are classy?

 So why is it all OK for Trump? Why is the indefensible defensible and OK for evangelicals? And how on earth can they bring the moral focus back when it comes to the other party? And why do Christians seem to love him more the worse he acts and the more he attacks people?

  I honestly can't see how any Trump supporter can come up with any moral reason to not vote for Pete. Policies? Yeah, though I take issue with a lot of Trump's policies too. My reasons for opposing him are many.

  And before you get your underwear in a twist, I am not calling all those who voted for and support Trump a hypocrite. All I am saying, is evangelicals who defend him and praise him so much, had better be careful what they call out the Democrats for. My party elected the most liberal and most morally reprehensible candidate to ever run on the GOP ticket. That will have repercussions in future elections.

    One more thing: It is amazing how many Christians fill their social media with Trump praise and defense. It is like every other post, or every post some days. I challenged one guy this evening to post more about Jesus than Trump. I doubt he will do it, for it is almost like a disease. They must praise and defend him. And seriously, a lot of them do praise Trump and defend him more than they do God. Isn't that cause for alarm or concern? It seems like too many Christians almost consider Trump to be a political savior. Only God is deserving of that much praise and adulation. A lot of churches, mine included, have times when people stand up and give a testimony of what God has been doing for them.....it seems there are way more testimonies by too many Christians on social media about what Trump is doing for them....more than they testify about God.

  Lastly, I'll let you in on a secret: I try not to argue on social media, and defense of Trump drives me crazy.....so when I do post the occasional Trump post or comment on a post about him, I don't read the responses, unless I do by accident.

 OK, now lastly for real: I do intensely dislike Trump,  the way he acts, and many of his policies. Now pick a politician you really dislike. I'll assume one I also do, Obama. Imagine you have several friends who are constantly defending him, praising him, and putting down anyone who criticizes him. Could you stay silent? Would you not be frustrated? Would it not cause you to dislike him all the more? Welcome to the world of a conservative who is anti-Trump.

10) Hermits have the right idea

   There are days I get why people want to be hermits. Yeah, there are days I get depressed because there is no one in my life outside of family that I can call or text and say "want to meet for lunch?" But then there are the days I am off and don't leave the house, don't interact with anyone.....and love it. If I didn't have to work, I would probably spend a lot of my time at home. And why not? I love my place, and have it decorated like I want......and I have my own personal library.

 It is possible that my depression plays into that. I also think a lot of days after I deal with people at work for 10 hours, I prefer to not be around people for a while. Like the t-shirt says "I used to be a people person, but then people ruined it".

11) Not perfect

  One thing I worry about when I do a "rant" about something or Trump, is people will look at me and think "he's not perfect!" Wow. What a revelation. I  had no clue I am not perfect! You would not believe the list of shortcomings I see in yours truly. There have been times I have been asked to list some things I like about myself. You know all I can come up with? I am punctual. I honestly can't come up with much of anything I like about myself. I'd never talk to anyone else=the way I talk to myself.

  And I have heard people say that is wrong, that you shouldn't put yourself down. Maybe that is true, but it doesn't stop me from telling myself what I think of myself......and it ain't pretty. So whatever you may be thinking of me because I dare criticize DT, it can't be as bad as I view myself.

 Could that be a barrier in one's relationship with God? If it is wrong to call someone else an idiot, failure, stupid, etc, is it wrong to call ourselves that? Is it in essence saying God didn't do a good job on us?

 None of us are worth of salvation and grace, but is there a danger of putting ourselves down too much?

12) What others think?

  What kind of lives would we lead if we didn't worry so much about what people thought of us? Well, for one thing, I'd probably be even more vocal about you know who.....

  And I don't mean this in a bad way. We can't selfishly live like we don't care what people think, but in a good way. I have been held back a lot in life by fears of what people would think of me.

  Maybe that is one reason Jesus said we must be like children to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Small children don't worry about what people think of them. At some point we lose that, and worry and fear what others think of us. It likely influences and interferes in our lives in ways we are not even aware of.

 It has to in some ways even affect our spiritual lives. We are afraid to speak up about certain topics. We are afraid to witness to others. We are afraid to be and do everything God wants of us.

13) Facebook jail

 I am in Facebook jail for 7 days. For the same thing as last time: I dared criticize the religion of peace. On a news story about Lizzy Warren wanting more gun control after the shooting yesterday by a Saudi Militant, I commented "we just need to ban Muslims." Immediate jail for 7 days by the tolerant Facebook. I can guarantee if it was Christianity, they would do nothing.

**Only 2 more days left til I am out on probation!

14) The brother's bond

(This is a bit long, and sounds like a book review....but it really isn't. Well, kind of maybe.....)

  My favorite genre' to read is mystery/suspense. Harlequin has a line of Christian novels they put out monthly: Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense. The first is just romance, and the second is suspense.....hence the word suspense in the label name. :)

   I have taken to reading more romance than I used to. Though I am single for life due to what I deal with, I am a romantic. It does hurt a bit reading about something I can never have, but such is life. I started reading some of the non-suspense novels they put out, especially the ones with kids and families, but read some others too. One author has become a favorite, Linda Goodnight. The first book I read by her was titled the Christmas Child, an awesome book about an orphaned little boy who brought a school teacher and a very damaged federal agent together to make a family. Great story.

  A few weeks ago, I was ordering on ebay from a seller who has a "buy 2 books, get one free" deal. In looking for a third book, I found one by the same author titled "A Season for Grace." It turned out to be the first in a trilogy titled "The Brother's Bond." Here is the series description in a nutshell:

Three brothers: Colin age 10, Drew age 8, and Ian age 5. Separated by the foster system. Colin stole food and did whatever he had to do to take care of the other two because of an absent drug addict mother and no father. For 23 years, he has been searching for his 2 brothers. He himself was in the system til he aged out, never being adopted, never having a family. Each book contains the word "Grace" in the title. God's grace definitely plays out in the books, but there is a double reason for the word: That is the last name of the boys before the youngest two had theirs changed.

 Book one, A Season for Grace,  is about Colin. Twenty three years later and now a police and SWAT member, he starts mentoring a troubled kid after being hounded by a pushy social worker (who he eventually falls for). He enlists her help in finding his two brothers in return for the mentoring. Towards the end of book one, he discovers his brother Drew died in a fire as a teen in a group home, and discovers the whereabouts of his youngest brother.

Book two, A Touch of Grace,  is about Ian, the youngest brother. He is a minister who runs a home for troubled youth and he spends his time trying to rescue other troubled kids. His older brother finds him about 3/4 of the way through the book, a shock to him since meningitis at the age of 5 had erased his memories and he had no idea he was adopted. The reunion between the two brothers was very emotional. Yeah, that means I cried. The book ends with the two brothers gathering at Ian's adopted mother's house with their fiancees. Ian's fiancee is a TV reporter who did a story about the two brothers. The very last page has her getting a call from her station saying someone called the station and was positive the other brother was not dead.

Book three, The Heart of Grace is about Drew, the brother thought to be dead. He is married, but demanding a divorce from his wife because he feels unworthy of her because of his past and fears her finding out, and also because she wants kids and he is terrified to have kids because of his past. An IED in Iraq where is he doing photo work injures him and forces him to go home to her while he recuperates. She sees the story about Ian and Colin. By this time, she knows some of Drew's story, especially that he had 2 brothers named Ian and Colin, who he told her died in a fire. The 2 brothers have the same identical key chain with the Scripture that her husband wears around his neck. She calls the news station and sets the reunion of all three brothers in motion, along with the final healing and salvation of her husband, along with the healing and saving of their marriage. And yeah, did I ever cry at that reunion too.

  The series was based on three brothers the author knew of who were separated by the foster system. She doesn't know what happened to them, but in her note at the end of book three said this: "Somewhere out there are three little boys who inspired this series. I hope and pray that they too, have found a happy ending."

  This series profoundly impacted me. It made me wish I could so something to help kids like those in the story. It made me wish I was like Ian, who did so much to help troubled youth and whose life revolved around his faith influencing everything he did....and made me wish a lot of things.

 Christian novels, especially romance ones, get a bad rap from many people......but this series is one that shows how much can be in even a romance novel.

**update: I emailed the author about the series, and commented it made me wish I could do more to help kids like that...though I have no idea how I could. She replied, which made my day:

Hi Mark,

This is the kind of email we authors love to get, especially considering how long ago I wrote those books. The Brothers Bond series is one of my favorites, if not my absolute favorite. I receive so many emails about it, and you might be interested to know, I hear from a number of male readers.  I count all of you a blessing.

I am humbled to know my words could inspire your desire  to "do more".  Frankly, the world needs more men willing to step up and make a difference, especially with young boys without strong male role models. My single adult daughter felt as you do and signed up for foster care, which resulted in her adopting a child last Christmas. She continues to foster other children. If fostering seems like too much, Big Brothers and Sisters are always in need of mentors, small churches need men to help with youth groups, and I'm sure there are other groups looking for men willing to make a difference in a young boy's life. God bless you for your compassionate heart.

Thank you so, so much for emailing. I am blessed.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Linda Goodnight

15) 2019 reading goal

 As I mentioned before, I long ago passed up my goal of 200 books for this year. I am currently at 474 books. If I read 26 more, I will hit 500.

 One problem this many books presents: every year, I make a top 20 best books of the year that I read. It is going to be extremely difficult to narrow the list down to 20 out of this many books. Plus, I am going to have to go through the list of books I read so I can remember which ones were the best.

16) That stage of life.....

  I probably shouldn't admit this on such a public forum, but I did something I never thought I would do. It is one of those "ugh, really!?" moments. I purchased a larger print Bible. Yeah, me.

 I have glasses, and really hate wearing them. I wear them when I drive....because I have to, since I couldn't pass the eye exam without them last time I renewed my driver's license. I also wear them in church so I can see the pastor better and read the attendance board. My eye problem is far off. I can read the average book without them, but most Bibles tend to have smaller print. I can still read the Bibles I have, but bought one with slightly larger print in my favorite version so I can read it easier. And oh - it is not King James. :)

 Christianbook.com had some great sales going on. The one I bought was normally $64.99, and I got it for $16.99. I also bought several Christmas gifts, which was the main purpose of my shopping on the site. That, and the free shipping on $35 + orders.

17) Gifts

  Speaking of gifts, I was off today and got most of my gift wrapping done. I started off on the floor, and was finding that a bit uncomfortable. I debated about the dining room table, for it had accumulated a lot of "stuff" in the last few weeks. I decided to clean it off, made easier by the fact that some of the "stuff" was things I needed to wrap. In the midst of my wrapping, I found one gift I had lost. I only have a few things left, including some gag gifts.

18) Mini vacation

  I work 4 10-hour days, and always have 3 days off each week. Next week will be even better than that. I work the weekend, Friday-Sunday, have off Monday, work Tuesday and Wednesday, and then I am off for the next 4 days....Thursday-Sunday. Yay me! I think the reason for that is I had some holiday time I was going to lose, so they tossed an extra day off to me and used holiday time. Unlike our vacation (paid time off) days, holiday hours will expire. I am looking forward to it. I don't have any plans, but I am still looking forward to it.

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