NEW LIFE

NEW LIFE

Just to be clear, I am not inclined to seek thrills.
Comfort zones, good.
The thrill rides at the fair never had that much appeal.
The only reason I ever tried them was peer pressure.
If I record a football game to watch later, I don’t mind learning the outcome before I watch it, so I don’t have to feel that stress.
If my team lost, I don’t really need to see how.

Adrenaline, while necessary in certain situations, kinda makes me jumpy and nervous. I am not addicted to it.

I like people to like me.
Never have liked to make people around me uncomfortable.

I was always “decently athletic”, strong for my slight build, having pretty good hand-eye coordination, pretty fast runner.
But training was not my strong suit.
Laziness was my default position.
So mediocrity in athletics was the usual result.

School was easy for me, at least through high school.
I didn’t have to study. I just got it.
In college, that “lazy gene” got me.
College, not so easy.
I didn’t do well.

In love, well, don’t we all want what makes us happy?

In work, wanting to be liked, I always tried my best to please my bosses.
I usually did.
Sometimes, life would throw me a choice that was difficult to reconcile with my easy-going nature.
The stress of that type of decision made me jumpy and nervous.
I chose badly.
Once, I got fired for stealing.
Once, I got fired for lying about getting fired for stealing.
Not my comfort zone.

Generally, everything I ever did in any area of my life was for my own self-preservation, anything I could do to keep my life from being too hard.
Even line on a level slope.

“When I became a man, I put away childish things.”

May 8, 1978 everything changed.

The focus of my life that had always been inward, suddenly began to be upward.
The God that I had ignored most of my life, suddenly called me to come to Him.

I heard.
I came.

I find myself being pushed to “step out of my comfort zone.”
My tendencies are still there, to hide, to put up walls.

But, there is a power that is not my power, that moves me, directs me, talks to me, teaches me, understands me.

Loves me.

“And when I run with Him, I feel His pleasure!”

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SAFETY???

My brother, Jeff, has made it his goal to keep checking on me since my recent cancer diagnosis.

He called me this last Thursday to find out what the surgeon had told me.

We probably talked a little over an hour.

During our conversation, Jeff mentioned that the trucks at his company all have the bumper sticker, “Safety Is Our Goal.”

I laughed and said, “That should be our country’s new motto! I’m gonna use that in my blog as the title.”

SAFETY IS OUR GOAL! ISN’T IT?

As a young man, long, long ago, I had no idea of the coming challenges, even dangers, or even losses that I would face in this life.

In 1975 when I worked for Dr Pepper, I was robbed at gunpoint by two men in South Oak Cliff.

In 1979, working for Pepsi Cola, I was told to take my loaded tractor trailer truck out for delivery during an ice storm.
As I was driving down a steep, icy hill, there was a guy in a car in front of me, facing the wrong way on the right side of the road.
He looked my way in horror, jumped out of his car, and ran from it.
I looked in my mirror and saw my trailer swinging past me on my right side.
It corrected itself when it smashed this guy’s car.

In the early 80’s I started my chimney cleaning, window cleaning business.
In 1984, at dusk, after a long 15-hour work day, traveling at least 70 mph, I drove under a large, unlit bobtail truck parked partially in my highway lane.
Just before impact, I saw a bright flash of light on the back of the bobtail truck.

Miraculously, and inexplicably, I found myself standing upright beside my little Toyota pickup, in the middle of Hwy 30 near Greenville.
My entire truck cab was sheared off.
I suffered only a cut to my scalp (3-4 stitches) and a cervical strain.
I joked that the angel must have twisted my neck when he jerked me out by the head. Wendy took me home from the hospital the next day.

I have discovered that Satan hates window cleaners and sends his red wasp “air force” after them on a regular basis. (Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but sometimes we do have to fight those demon red wasps.)
I have no idea how many times I have been stung (hundreds) but I can guarantee you there were dead demon wasp bodies after each one.
About 12 years ago, though, I had my first serious allergic reaction to the stings, so, I began keeping Benadryl and Epi Pens with me at all times.

One time, a builder asked me to power wash a metal roof.
I didn’t want to do it, but I bid it high, hoping he would turn me down.
He accepted the bid.
I got about 3/4 of the job done, when my pressure washer ran out of gas, so I went down to refuel.
When I went back to the roof, I had unknowingly gotten a little wet sand on the bottom of my shoes.
As soon as I started spraying the roof, my feet slipped.
Sliding on my back down the roof, trying to grab anything I could to stop the slide, I sliced the heck out of the tips of my fingers.
I landed on the deck, unhurt, but bleeding.
I wrapped my hand with a towel and duct tape, loaded my equipment and drove home. I did not finish the job.

Another time, I was cleaning a second story window from a deck, and, trying to save a step, I reached a little higher than I should have, and my ladder slipped.
I rode the ladder down, and would have been fine, except my heel, resting on the rung, took the impact and cracked in three places.
The owner helped me load my equipment, I drove home, and took off 6 weeks.

In 2018, as I stepped onto a roof, the ladder on my shoulder caught the top of my on-the-ground ladder, and knocked me just a little bit off balance.
I stepped back, hoping to catch myself, but instead, stepped onto air, and fell 12 feet onto my back, breaking 6-12 ribs.
I finished the job, had the owner’s son help me load my stuff, drove home, then went to the hospital.

Most recently, in July, my ladder slipped and I fell 13 feet, landing on a child’s wooden picnic table, which likely prevented my head from hitting the concrete floor.
(Thank You, God).
This time I broke my left scapula, and fractured and compressed my T4 vertebra. This time, I couldn’t finish the job.
I drove myself home, and Wendy took me to the hospital.

While there, a blood test found me to be anemic.

The anemia prompted a colonoscopy, which led to the discovery of a cancerous tumor in my colon.

Why I am I telling you all this?
I have spent my life working, trying to do a good job, trying to provide for my family.
I seldom went to the doctor, unless I had been injured.
Any one of these “accidents” could have ended my life.

The most recent injury may actually have saved it.

I could have decided that this job wasn’t safe and left these “dangerous” conditions long ago.

But I didn’t.

And neither would most of you.

All of us go through trials in our lives that disrupt our plans.
Plans for safety and happiness.

Financial disasters.

Loss of a job.

Loss of a home.

Perhaps even the loss of a child.

Yet, in those trials, we find something more precious than safety and happiness.

That God is ALWAYS with us.
He is ALWAYS at work in our lives.

Because….
Life is not safe.

It has never been safe.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 tells us “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD,….

In Isaiah 41:9b-10, God said, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off; fear not, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

He tells His people “I will NEVER leave you or forsake you.”
So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Heb. 13:5-6

In every one of these instances, I found myself to be enveloped in a supernatural peace. (Except for the armed robbery in 1975. That happened before my second birth and I was frozen with terror.)

But now, because I carry within me the image and Life of Christ, the trials of life prove to be just that.
Trials of life.
Stepping stones to a closer relationship to the God that I belong to.

I find His presence to be constant, always there, NEVER leaving.
Sometimes it is from within, a supernatural peace and strength to endure.
Sometimes it is from without, perhaps a member of His body holding me up in prayer, speaking life into my heart, or being the answer to a prayer offered up to God.

I told my brother, Jeff, whose wife died last Christmas Day from an 8 month battle with brain cancer, that in each one of our serious battles, we find the presence of God in the LIVING through the trials.

Finding our lives narrowed down to just doing the next thing.

To just surviving the next MOMENT.

That thing that we would never have chosen becomes the circumstance that changes the path we are on.

We find that safety and comfort and fear do not put us on the path of life.

But, as we go through this life, and its trials, we find His voice inside, saying, “My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Ezekiel 37:27

SAFETY IS NOT MY GOAL!

The psalmist says to God,
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”‭‭Psalm‬ ‭16:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I cannot remember any time the Bible mentions how important it is to BE SAFE!

If Jesus is my king,
And He says, “Follow Me!”
And He says, “I will never leave you or forsake you,”
Then He will be my safety, my refuge, my strength, my strong tower that I run to,
to find a different kind of safety in a world that is filled with danger.

“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:1‬ ‭NASB‬‬

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“SEX, DRUGS, AND ROCK AND ROLL”

THE NUMBING OF AMERICA

I was not aware of it in its early stages, but I began to feel its draw in the late sixties, and, more so in the early seventies.

“If it feels good, do it.”

“If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

“Lucy in the sky with diamonds.”

“We don’t need no piece of paper from the city hall,
Keeping us tied and true….”

On and on and on.

A slow and gradual questioning of the morals passed to us from previous generations began to grow, and flourish, to gain acceptance in all areas of society.

Behaviors which used to be kept hidden, practiced with the hope of no one discovering, began to be accepted as lifestyle choices.

Belief in God began to fade, and honoring God was disappearing from the culture.

Our focus in life became “Please yourself; don’t worry, be happy; don’t let anyone judge you; everything is okay as long as you don’t hurt anyone; religion is the opiate of the masses….”

Our focus grew inward. We wanted what we could get to stop the pain, feel the thrill.

Alcohol.
Drugs.
Sex without boundaries.

We expected moments of ecstacy to be the source of our happiness.

We had to find new and greater thrills; previously forbidden acts became the drug du jour.

We had taken the bait, believed the lie, followed the path to a paradise that turned out to be a ghetto after passing the glittery, shiny gate.

We found the gate to be locked when we tried to escape.

So we stayed.

What we used to be ashamed of, we popularized, made it all mainstream, found friends who had also settled into this lifestyle. “I’m okay, you’re okay.”

We found new ways to numb the pain, to forget the emptiness, to pretend that we were alive and “living the life.”

But, every so often, we would hear that whisper.

“Come to Me.
I will give you Life.
Come to Me.
I have a purpose for you.”

Usually, we turned up the noise, to drown out the whisper.
More numbness, to relieve the disappointments.

But.

Some said, “I’m coming. I want what you have for me. I am Yours.”

The numbness was gone.

The pain, the sorrows, the trials, the victories, all became the essence of a life. Being alive meant feeling.

Feeling all levels of what the Life brought, gave us the ability to know love, to love, to be loved.

And to know the One who made us.

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A WALK IN THE GARDEN

Voice: Hey, whatcha doin’?

Girl: Oh, hi. I didn’t know you were here. I’m gathering fruit for dinner.

Voice: Yeah? That looks good.

Girl: Oh, it is! All the fruit in the garden tastes wonderful!

Voice: Have you tasted all of the different kinds?

Girl: Oh, no, there are so many! Today was the first time I tasted this one, and it is incredibly sweet and juicy. And satisfying!

Voice: So, all these fruit trees are good to eat from?

Girl: Oh, yes. All of ’em are good.

Voice: What about that one?

Girl: Oh, I forgot….

Voice: Mmmm, this is REALLY good!

Girl: He told us not to eat that one. We believed Him. He is always good to us.

Voice: Now, I wonder why he would tell you not to eat THIS one? Surely, this is the best one of them all. You are very intelligent. I wonder why he doesn’t want you to think for yourself.

Girl: He said we would die….

Voice: Die? You’re not going to die! I feel great! I feel FANTASTIC!

Girl: But, He said….

Voice: Obviously, what he said is not true. Seriously, you have got to taste this.

Girl: Oh, that’s okay. I’ve got enough for today. Maybe tomorrow.

Voice: One taste is not going to hurt, is it? You really have no idea how good this is. Just taste it!

It will change your life.

Girl: Okay… One taste…

Oooh, that IS good…

Oh? I feel different….kinda cold…exposed…

the taste in my mouth now…it’s kinda bitter….

Voice: Oh, that will go away when you get used to it.

Girl: Give me some more. I want some more….

You’re right… It is even better now, not so bitter…

I’ll take these home instead of these other ones.

Girl: (leaving, yelling down the path) Adam, you’ve got to taste what the serpent gave me! It will change your life!

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UNSHAKEABLE FAITH

Wendy and I were talking yesterday on the way home from my last doctor visit.
(I never thought I would be the one visiting doctors every week.)

“I had already prepared myself for the result that the cancer had spread,” she said, with a catch in her throat.

I had to admit that I had, too.

We had so many people praying, and the prayers had helped so many times.

Were we doubting God by entertaining thoughts that went against what we were praying for?

“I have to say,” I replied, “ that we both know that God is God, and that He will do His will. When we pray, a lot of times, we are asking Him to make what we want to be what He wants. “

We knew that the results may or may not be our preferred outcome.

Our struggle would be to figure out the path to walk if His will differed from ours.

I had had a C T Scan on Wednesday to see if the cancer was confined to the one place in the colon that had been discovered, or if it had spread to other organs.

The waiting is the hard part. Especially for Wendy.

I had worked the rest of Wednesday and half a day on Thursday, and I was able to avoid the heavy thoughts of “what if…” as I worked.

Chemo was the probable directive if the cancer had spread, before the cancer could be removed.

Chemo was the decision we weren’t sure we would choose.

Around 12:00 on Thursday, my phone rang as I was finishing a window cleaning job.

“Mr. Epps, this is Elizabeth, from Texas Oncology.” She had introduced herself a week ago. She would study the results of the scan. What she was about to tell me would have a major impact on my life, and Wendy’s.

“ I have studied the pictures…. There is no evidence of any more cancer, other than the one we found.”

“That’s what we prayed for!” I exclaimed. “Thank you, thank you.”

“I am so happy for you,” she replied. She told me a few more details of coming steps and said goodbye.

Immediately I called Wendy.

“That Dr. Elizabeth just called with the results…no other cancer was found.”

“None?” her voice broke, and she started to cry. “None? I was so scared.”

Her tears were a release of the fears she had been keeping inside.

Her tears made me feel God’s presence and her love for me.

Her tears reminded me that trusting God no matter what He may choose was always the right choice.

The trip to the doctor today was strictly a confirmation of the findings.

“This is great news!” he said as he looked at the charts. “There is really nothing you need from me today,” he said. And he told us about the coming steps regarding surgery. With a smile. With encouragement.

Our shoulders seemed to be missing a heavy weight as we rejoiced in the goodness of our God.
One step at time.

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THE LAST TIME I PLAYED FOOTBALL

August 16, 2016

Now, before I start, you guys I knew from high school remember me as a 130 pound semi nerd. ( I hope “semi.”)

You’re thinking, “Right. When did he ever play football?”

Well, think again. No longer 130 pounds, tipping the scales at a healthy 150, I am talking about a time, about 5 years ago, in my 60th year in this world.

I was a part time teacher of math at a private school in Tyler, and homecoming week had arrived. A touch football game had been planned for the Saturday morning of the day of the homecoming dance. I remembered the old days when there were faculty/ student games, and I had always thought that would be fun. Wendy had volunteered to decorate for the dance, so I went to Tyler early for the game. I thought, “We teachers will show these kids some stuff.”

We teachers was me.

All the players on the field when I arrived were the current football team, the former players, and the 30 year old coach. Wearing cleats, athletic shorts, exuding youthful unbounded energy.

And me, balding old guy in jeans and tennis shoes. With glasses.

They were doing warmup pass routes, so I got in line, then ran five yards up field, cut right, and caught the pass thrown at me. Cool.

I did another. Caught. Yea.

Kinda winded now. A little bit glad when one of the players says, ” Mr. Epps, we don’t need you on offense, but you can play defense.”

Okay.

When defense came, I discovered that there was a reason these guys wore cleats. Every time I reached for a flag, the guy would cut, and I would slip down.

Man, I was really getting tired, too. Sucking that water down when the offense was on the field. The other teachers ( on the sidelines in lawn chairs) tried to encourage me.

In a little while, one of the guys had to leave.

“Mr. Epps, you wanna play some offense?”

They had already huddled, and no one thought it mattered whether I knew what they were doing, so I lined up on the line, went down five yards and cut across. (Just like I practiced.) The quarterback sees that no one is guarding the old guy, throws the pass, I reach up, catch,(picture perfect), cut to the left to turn up field, slip and fall down. (Just like I practiced.) Still, a five yard gain. Couple of plays later, same route, catch, slip down, first down. Yea. (Felt a little pop in my knee. Uh-oh. That’s not good.)

Time to leave the comfort zone.

I decide to go long.

Apparently, the guys decided to go with me this time. I’m running full throttle for the post, defenders strolling along with me. Seriously, guys? Four of you to defend an old man? I look back, and I see the quarterback decided to try me again, the ball was in the air, my feet pounding the turf, my glasses bouncing up and down. I’m thinking, “Even if I catch up to where that ball is going to land, there is no way I will be able to catch it,” because it appeared to be bouncing up and down in sync with my glasses. I was five yards too slow. Interception. I’m done.

“Sorry guys, I have to go help my wife decorate for the dance.”

They bought it.

Drank more water, drove to the school, parked and got out of my truck.

Suddenly, every move hurts. Two by four beating kind of hurt. I was fine five minutes ago when I left.

I limped for three weeks.

“Wendy, if I ever tell you that I am going to play football, just say, ‘No!'”

Hmmmm.

Maybe basketball?

Soccer?

Ping-pong?

Words with Friends?

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staying alive or LIVING FOREVER?

Randy Epps 8/9/20

This world we are living in is quite a risk, yeah?

And, suddenly, 2020 rolls around and the leaders of the world have taken it upon themselves to “protect” everyone, no matter what.

Well, not everyone. But, maybe everyone that might ever have a chance of getting this new dread disease that we are told surrounds us, on every side.

I am starting to understand that this is not really a safe world, anyway.

When I became a chimney sweep in 1982, then added window cleaning to the mix in 1986, I had no idea of the coming dangers I would face.

In 1984, at dusk, after a thirteen hour work day, traveling at least 70 mph, I drove under a bobtail truck parked partially in my highway lane. I saw the back of the truck before impact and found myself standing outside of my little Toyota, in the middle of Hwy 30 near Greenville, the cab sheared off. I was taken to the hospital. I suffered only a cut to my scalp (3-4 stitches) and a cervical strain. I joked that the angel twisted my neck when he jerked me out by the head. Wendy took me home the next day.

I have discovered that Satan hates window cleaners and sends his air force after them on a regular basis. (Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but sometimes we do have to fight those demon red wasps.) I have no idea how many times I have been stung (hundreds) but I can guarantee you there were dead demon bodies after each one. About 12 years ago, though, I had my first allergic reaction to the stings, and I would take some benadryl and sit in my truck for an hour as I went through some sort of foggy twilight zone experience. Finally, I got some epi pens. I would always finish the job and drive home.

One time, a builder asked me to power wash a metal roof. I didn’t want to do it, but I bid it high, hoping he would turn me down. He accepted. I got about 3/4 of the job done, my pressure washer ran out of gas, and I went down to refuel, and get some water to drink. When I went back to the roof, I had unknowingly gotten a little wet sand on the bottom of my shoes. As soon as I started to spray, my feet slipped I slid on my back trying to grab anything I could to stop the slide, sliced the heck out of the tips of my fingers on my left hand. I landed on the deck, unhurt, but bleeding. Wrapped my hand with a towel and duct tape, loaded my equipment and drove home. I did not finish the job.

Once, I was cleaning a fairly high window on a deck, and, trying to save a step, I tried to reach a little higher than I should, my ladder slipped. I wasn’t real high, so I rode the ladder down, and , I would have been fine, except my heel, resting on the rung, took the impact and cracked in three places. The owner helped me load my equipment, I drove home, and took off 6 weeks.

Remember in 2018, one week after the most severe wasp reaction, when I stepped onto a roof, my on-the-roof ladder leg caught the top of my on-the-ground ladder, and set me just a little bit off balance. I stepped to catch myself, stepped onto air, and fell 12 feet onto my back, breaking 6-12 ribs. I finished the job, had the owner’s son help me load my stuff, drove home, went to the hospital. I took off 2 weeks.

And, then, this last fall, 13 feet, onto a child’s wooden picnic table, on my back, breaking my left scapula, and fracturing and compressing my T4 vertebra. I couldn’t raise my left arm, so one-handed I loaded my equipment, drove myself home, and Wendy took me to the hospital. A blood test found me to be anemic. I was back to work in 4 weeks.

And when I returned to work, I was stung once the first week (epi pen used), and again the second week (oops, using the remaining epi pen, I thought, “That didn’t hurt at all!” Then I saw that it was a trainer, a pen to practice the epi pen maneuver) so I took one benadryl and itched like crazy all the way home.

The anemia prompted a colonoscopy to find the reason for the anemia, and the doctor discovered a cancer growth in my colon.

I haven’t mentioned the time when I worked for Dr Pepper and was robbed at gunpoint by two men in South Oak Cliff.

Or the time when I worked for Pepsi Cola and we were told to take our trucks out on the day of an ice storm. As I was going down a hill, there was a guy in a car in front of me, facing the wrong way on the right side of the road. He looked my way and jumped out of his car and ran from it. I looked in my mirror and saw my trailer swinging past me on my right side. It corrected itself when it smashed this guy’s car.

Why I am I telling you all this? I have spent my life working, trying to do a good job, trying to provide for my family. Any one of these “accidents” could have ended my life.

LIFE IS NOT SAFE!

It has never been safe.

We don’t see the statistics now about how many people die every day from NON-COVID-19 related deaths. But, we have to realize that death is part of the process of life. We all get to try it. We usually can’t predict its timing.

Why did I keep going back to work if it was so dangerous?

Because, so many times in the Bible, Old Testament, New Testament, the words appear, “FEAR NOT…DO NOT BE AFRAID…FOR I AM WITH YOU!”

There wasn’t a single one of these incidents I have mentioned that the government offered me any protection.

I had to make the decision, do I want to be safe to stay alive, or do I want to Live?

Jesus said that He came so that I could have a Life that I had never experienced before: a life of joys, sorrows, ups, downs, falls, recoveries. He offered me a life where I could find His strength in times when mine was gone.

I wonder how many of us are letting a fear of a disease disrupt our need to be together in fellowship? Intimate times with family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ have been closed down because of social distancing and mask wearing. And people continue to get tested positive for Covid, by the millions, and, a fraction of one percent actually die.

But the government says that this is apparently the worst thing we have ever seen, and we have to do these things that separate us to protect us.

I didn’t ask the government to protect me from disease or the natural hazards I may face in everyday life.

Is that what you want?

The riches of life are found when we realize that life is not safe.

But this Life, in Jesus, is GOOD.

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INVISIBLE ENEMIES

I may have an unfair advantage, so don’t get your feelings hurt if this doesn’t apply to you.

Covid-19 has been called the invisible enemy, among other things.

Not my first invisible enemy.

Usually, when we discover an invisible enemy, our first, and most long lasting reaction is fear.

Think about a haunted house, a strange noise in your house at night, or a novel corona virus, which may kill two million people in the US.

And, when everybody is aware of the invisible enemy, then it becomes the topic of almost every conversation.

So, here I was, in the fourth week of recovery from my fall. I was feeling pretty good, but I had been involved in way too many debates on Facebook over the last three weeks.

I had to admit to Wendy on Sunday after church that I was starting to deal with some depression.
“I just wake up, feeling kinda down,” my voice cracked, and I realized it was more than just a little bit.

“Why don’t you get off of Facebook for a while? “
I started to recoil. That’s not a good idea. I have so many things to say, yet.

“I’m serious. I moved the whole app way back in my phone. I haven’t been on it for days. It was just too much.”

She had also stopped watching the news, keeping the cooking channels and YouTube craft videos on most of the time.
I’m thinking, “There is so much going on. I can’t just drop it all. Can I?”

“Look. Just do it for one week.”

My teeth were gritted, but I gave a less than convincing assent.

She didn’t believe I could do it.

It’s been four days, now. I stopped Facebook notifications, and I haven’t opened it one time.

What I have learned.

I am not afraid of COVID-19. I believe it is here, a lot of people are getting it, a small small percentage of those that get it die.

If I do get it, I will either have a mild case, a little more serious case, or a very serious case, I could die, or I may not get it at all. It is kind of out of my control.
Because it is invisible.

The invisible enemy that does cause me anxiety is the voice that does not originate with the God I love.
The voice that tricks me into thinking that if I argue better that I will change minds. The voice that keeps taking my focus off of the Life that I have been given, and brings up anger, indignation, and even despair on the direction this once great country is going.

So, without Facebook, this week, I went back to work. The ladder seems really heavy. It is amazing how quickly we can lose muscle tone. But I finished three good days of work, not too much slower than I was, but quite a bit more tired.

All this is to say, I miss seeing all the varied views of my friends and frenemies on Facebook, because I think an exchange of differing ideas is important.

But, I realized that this path I am on, is a path God is ever laying out for me, and my experienced life is part of making me into the new person that began in 1978. Sorrows, joys, accidents, pain, recoveries, mask, not mask, all teach me something about me, and how I need to yield my life to the One who has a purpose that I am slowly learning to find through this experience.

So, I may be back to Facebook. Eventually. Or maybe not.
But, if you ever want to contact me or comment about anything I share, feel free to send me an email to rtepps5115@yahoo.com.

I still have so much to say.

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TOWER OF BABEL

There is a story in the Bible of the people of the world, who were all of one language, coming together with the intention of building a tower to the heavens. Their purpose was to make a name for themselves and to strengthen their nation, so they couldn’t be scattered.

According to the Bible, God was not pleased with the efforts of man to elevate himself over his creator, so He confused their speech, creating different languages and scattering them over the earth.

I admit, I have a fairly local perspective, having always lived in Texas, never having travelled outside the US except one brief foray across the border into Mexico.

But, I can see how the nation as a whole has decided over the last 50 years to leave behind a biblical understanding of right and wrong, and ethical behavior and to begin to build its own “tower of babel”, a system of man made laws, overruling the previous standards the nation had clung to as a result of a basic belief in a supreme being.

In the original story, God made divisions among the people, making it difficult, if not impossible, for them to work together in order to accomplish great things.

Is this happening today to this country? In our zeal to separate state from any form of religious expression, are we causing God to create a division that cannot be overcome? Not a division of language, but a division of ideology.

As long as we believe that the answer lies in a political party, we are only moving away from the solution.

I shudder to see what happens when our tower begins to fall.

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WHEN I FOUND MYSELF TRUSTING THE OBVIOUS INSTEAD OF THE TRUTH

Yesterday, 22 days after my fall that broke my left scapula and fractured and compressed my T4 vertebra, I had two doctor appointments to go to.

The first was an orthopedic/sports doctor to tell me how soon I could get back to work.
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Two years ago, when I broke some ribs, no one would tell me how long a recovery time I would need before I could go back to work. “Your body will let you know,” they would say. So, in faith, (trusting my Lord and Savior, Jesus) I decided to give myself two weeks. In two weeks, I returned to the job I love.

So this time, the injury seemed more severe, and the doctors in the hospital said six to twelve weeks.

The first four to five days, I found myself thinking, “Am I done?”

But, as I sat around hurting, taking pain meds to sleep, something in my mind began to change. My brothers who shared this life began to awaken in me the light that had begun to dim.

“Wendy, I don’t think I’m afraid to go back to work, “ I said one day.—

So, this orthopedic doctor tells me on the 22nd day after the injury, “You should be able to start doing stuff. There may be a bit of soreness, but you will not damage anything by working.”
YEA!

The next doctor was the one who does colonoscopy and GI tests. While I was in the hospital, they had discovered that I was anemic. Two years ago, my hemoglobin count was 13.5. Now, the day of my injury, it was 7.8. That’s bad. They took a second sample the next day. 8.5.
“Good,” I thought, “at least it is improving.”

Two weeks later, another test. 9.3.

So, on the 23rd, Dr.Nwaingwe (pronounced wig way. I’ll refer to him as Doc) began to ask me questions, “Ever smoked? Ever drink? Heart? Lungs? “ And on and on and on through the lists of normal maladies besetting those my age.
I answered no to all.

He stopped, looked at me, and said, “You are a unicorn!”

I started to like this guy.

So, Doc looks at the low hemoglobin count and says, “ We need to find the reason for this low count. There is always a reason.” He told me a list of things that could cause it.

“Well,” I said, “ At least, it is getting better. 7.8, 8.5, 9.3. “

Doc replied, “No, it doesn’t work that way. The first two were probably mistakes. We will take another sample today. You see, low hemoglobin takes weeks to rebuild. Taking iron or B12 may help if that is the reason for the depletion, but it would still take 6 to 8 weeks for the bone marrow to restore the hemoglobin.”

And, then, I remember who holds my life in His hands.

I look at Doc, smile, and say, “You seem to forget who you are talking to. Remember, I am a Unicorn.”

He laughed.

Oh, I wanted to preach. To tell him of the greatness of my God, the wonders of His plans, the strength that He had to take care of my weaknesses, the very idea that I was even alive was a miracle of His doing.

God held my tongue.
I was on the doctor’s time, now.
I can hardly wait for the results of this last blood test.

The reason I am sharing this today, before I know more, is because, this morning I woke up depressed.

My eyes have been focused upon the masked masses, where I cannot see someone smile.
Focused on the state of my country and the world, where evil seems to be becoming the new good, as good becomes the new evil.

When I arose, I learned that an old friend of mine whose wife recently spent several weeks in the hospital after suffering a stroke, came home last Friday, had to go back today. Possibly with another stroke.
I sent him a message to remind him to keep his eyes on the One who had given him new life so many years ago.

In reminding him, I reminded me.

We do not fight against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil throughout the world surrounding us.
We are in this world.
But not of this world.
We have a strength that allows us to see beyond.

And.
The BEYOND IS VERY GOOD!

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