Keeping the old girl running… (My Bucket).

With Winter coming, my old Chevy had decided to start barking at me in the form of warnings and check engine lights. Last September when I picked it up (Say Hello to Bucket), in short order a few problems popped up which needed to be remedied before inspection (and use).

It went off to Vinny at Pro Automotive (the only local mechanic I trust) for new wheel bearings, a new fuel pump, and new straps to hold the tank on. I repaired enough of the EVAP system to get it to pass inspection. Roughly $1700 later I’d drive it without worrying.

Along the way I also made a point to fix (nearly) every failed switch or component in the truck… Window switches, climate control thingys, the linkage in the passenger door that allows it to be opened from the inside, headlights, license plate lights…

Stuff like that is expected in a well-used truck that is 12 years old with 191k miles.

So inspection came along this year and to my sheer amazement it passed quickly and with no repair needed other than a new brake light. Shortly after though… Check engine light came on. I pulled the codes, EVAP system (again!?) and O2 sensors. Again – wear and tear, expected.

Life got in the way of the maintenance, I’d planned on getting it another oil change at some point and also getting the O2 sensors sorted. Then out on a drive in the fields a month or so back, the 4WD failed and a big warning said “SERVICE 4WD SOON.” Crap.

I finally decided to bring it in with a short list… Check out the 4WD, change the oil, replace the O2 sensors, and fix the clunking up front. Prior to that, I replaced the vapor canister by the fuel tank which managed to fix the EVAP issues altogether and let me pump gas in 1 go.

The way the EVAP system works (this is my truncated version), fumes from the fuel tank are vented into the engine at certain points to be burned during combustion. In the mean time, those fumes are collected in a plastic container full of charcoal. In my case? it was clogged.

Any time I attempted to fill the tank (and it was less than half full) it would repeatedly stop. Last year I replaced most components of the EVAP system except for the canister, which improved the situation and shut off the CEL, but now it was finally fixed.

After a day with the mechanic he gets back to me and points out that the front brakes are almost done. Again – I trust this guy. I’ve been to mechanics in the past who told me a car needed new brakes after I’d just done them a week prior… so he took care of that as well.

He’d looked up the code for my 4WD warning and determined that it was most likely caused by the switch on the dashboard. In order to save a few bucks I picked up a new switch from rockauto.com and installed it myself. That takes us to the second part of this tale…

I’ve lived in Pine Island for 20 years now. For most of those 20 years, I’ve used the fields as a shortcut to get around or just unwind. I’ve found that driving down a farm road in my old truck, putzing along at 15mph is very cathartic. So after replacing the switch, I drove out.

Then I was greeted by a bunch of “Private Property” signs. First time in 20 years I’d seen anything like it. “Nobody is allowed to drive on our roads.” What? I took a lap of the fields then drove out, thankfully no more 4WD warning (yet). I decided to ask around…

Apparently the sod farm had recently seeded the blackdirt, and a group of off-roaders (not in trucks, more like side-by-sides, quads, dirtbikes, etc…) tore up the actual fields. That’s the thing which really annoys me. 99.9% of the time out here, it is peaceful and quiet.

That .1%? It’s usually folks who don’t actually live here, or don’t have any relationship with the farming community treating the back roads and fields like their own private off-road course. I’ve had a handful of incidents on my own little .34 acre plot, most of which due to off-roaders.

Early on, some kid tore across my lawn on a dirt bike. The fact I chased him down in a Subaru Legacy on summer tires doesn’t speak well to his skills. I’ve had quads (and the occasional car) rip through my corner fence. One time a snow-mobile even cut through my driveway.

I’d really like to believe that the people who pull this nonsense are not locals. It’s one thing to cut across my lawn, its another to destroy a farmer’s livelihood for the lulz. I can only pray that the individuals have a moment of clarity and wisdom, and cut the crap.

In the mean time – the truck has new brakes, O2 sensors, upper and lower ball joints, oil and filter, and the 4WD works. In the spring I’ll likely pull the rotting bed an build a wooden flat-bed, in addition to new tires, spark plugs, wires, trans service, etc… always something to do.

</end_ramble>

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Oh, Pride…

So I’m heading off to my friend’s house tonight to play some pinball… I live on a road where people generally drive pretty quickly. Fairly straight, farms on both sides, minimal police coverage most days…

I’m driving along when someone comes flying up on my rear bumper. Ok, whatever. As we approach the straightaway with a passing zone, they pull out to pass over the double yellow. I already had someone do this to me once this week…

Driving up to Goshen early Monday morning, in the rain, a car comes flying up on me and speeds past me going maybe 80-90mph. It was early, I was tired, and I had little desire to demonstrate how many more torques I had. Tonight though? I’ll show them.

So I downshift and floor it. No way in heck he can pass me…

I see it too late. Town police car, one of those minimally visible Ford Explorers that only says POLICE when headlights hit it. He’s facing away from me. I slam on the brakes. The other car passes me as I pass the police car… who just turned on their lights.

I pull over. Officer is behind me.

I haven’t gotten pulled over in years.

I think that my wallet is in my back pocket, so I take my seat belt off to grab it…

Then I realize “Uhhhhh seatbelt back on, dummy.”

I’ve got my wallet out when the officer approaches. Pretty sure I’m going to get a speeding ticket.

“You know why I stopped you right?”

“Yes officer, I’m sorry, that was stupid of me.”

“You know you only had to wait a few more feet to get to the passing zone, right?”

“Oh, no officer, I’m sorry but he was behind me from when I pulled out of my driveway onto Pulaski… I only accelerated when he tried to pass me back there, then I saw you and hit the brakes. Can I show you the dashcam?”

I’m guessing at the rate my car accelerates and watching from a rear/sideview, it could have easily looked like I passed the other guy.

“You’ve got a dashcam? Ok – if you can show me you were in front of the other car, you won’t get a ticket tonight.”

So I break out my cellphone and connect to the dashcam, taking a moment again to apologize “I’m really sorry officer, that was very juvenile of me, I shouldn’t have done it.” I load up the video from earlier…

“Here’s me leaving my driveway…”

“Here’s me driving down Pulaski and approaching you…”

“Ok, you didn’t pass him, here’s your info – have a good night.”

“Thank you officer, I’m sorry – it won’t happen again.”

As I pulled back onto the road I started thanking God for humbling me there. My pride got the better of me, and discipline came quickly. I immediately admitted my mistake, humbled myself, apologized profusely, and then came the wisdom.

In the end the officer showed mercy by letting me off without a ticket.

When pride comes, then comes shame;
But with the humble is wisdom.
– Proverbs 11:2

How many times have I been proud of some material thing, or some possession? A few years ago I was very proud that I had 2 new cars in my driveway, one my old Civic which I needed to get to work, the other a fully loaded pickup that I drove maybe 150 miles a month.

I was so proud I spent a ridiculous amount of money each month to keep them in my driveway… then one day in the middle of a church service a wise little voice whispers to me… “It’s time to sell the truck, Sam.” So I sold it.

That’s just one example, but generally speaking the Lord will reward humility while scorning pride. Tonight I had a prideful moment. I was determined not to let that other driver pass. I was so proud that I didn’t care about the speed limit, the road, or my safety.

I’m lucky I got stopped. Who knows what the other’s driver deal was? Who knows whether they’d have taken it in stride, or if I’d have been triggering some sort of road rage incident? The truth is that I had 2 possible reactions tonight and both would have been prideful.

Speeding up? Prideful. I’ll show them. Had I not sped up, they would have gotten pulled over instead, and I can guarantee you I would have had a very proud and self-righteous reaction to that as well. God knows my nature. He lined up a specific set of circumstances to teach me.

Who is to say that tomorrow or beyond, without this lesson, I wouldn’t have gotten into an accident due to my own selfish pride and arrogance? Who is to say that I won’t now take a moment to pause and think before I downshift and mash the gas pedal?

In Matthew 23:12, Jesus Himself stated “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Personally, I have zero desire to be exalted. I like to keep my head down and embrace the struggle to be humble.

It is good to know I have a loving God up above who will call me out on my sinful pride. Throughout my life any time I have embraced selfish pride, it has never lead to a good outcome. Any time I open that door of reality square into my nose, it is pride.

So that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 1:31.

I had a shiny truck. Big whoop. I have a fast car. Who cares? I have a Great God above me whom I depend on and fear! Hallelujah! I am happy and joyful to boast of Him! I as grateful to Him for my blessings as I am for the discipline He provides!

Lesson learned. Thank you Jesus!

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a thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts

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I Peter 1:24 NKJV

because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away”

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Unplugged – Update.

It’s been a week since I “deleted” my social media presence. I’ve still got what… another 23 days before the platforms actually “delete” my data. I use quotes there because nothing online is ever really deleted for good. My posts, my photos, 10 years of oversharing – it is always out there. Heck – this very blog. I could “delete” it today and it will live on for decades.

In the past week I’ve found alternate ways to communicate with people. Reverting to text messages, apps like WhatsApp (ironically owned by Facebook), Discord, phone calls, and ~gasp~ in person.

This detox has made me think though, really think.

I had 300 Facebook “friends.” On any given day I’d get updates on them. Over the past week I’ve been in touch with 5% of them. That doesn’t include the folks I interact with in person on a daily basis through the Polish Legion of American Veterans next door, or via a daily chatroom run by one of my oldest friends.

So then 95% of the people I paid attention to every day – I have absolutely no clue what is going on with them. Nobody reaching out via alternate means to see where I went. I had shared a story (which I can’t find) but this one is close: Research Confirms That No One Is Really Thinking About You. Who was I trying to impress? Why did I need validation?

Facebook and Instagram, among other online social media outlets – provide a highly cultivated and filtered view of other peoples lives. Generally speaking we only see what they want us to see, and we only share what we want to share. The other 99% of our lives, the grit, the pain, even the joy – is just for ourselves. All we show is what we think will get us liked. Validated.

Then there’s the news. Oh Lord, the news.

Doom. Gloom. Division. Revision. Arguments. Stress. Anxiety. Buy my book! Wear this hat! You can’t say that! Why’d you say that? What’d I say? Invest in gold! Eat Kale! The world is flat! The world is round! Check out my abs! Drink this! Eat that! Don’t eat that! Wear a mask! Lick doorknobs! Pound salt! Who cares?!

My father nearly died this week. Today he called and asked me to make calamari salad and linguine with pesto sauce for Thanksgiving.

Today he called me.

Thank God.

When I stop focusing on what doesn’t matter, I can actually see what does. Friends, family, neighbors, loved ones. Stepping away from the flood of manipulation and filtered lives clears the fog away from the life I am currently LIVING.

The other night, I air fried a porterhouse steak. It was an experiment to see if I could. Last week? I’d have taken 10 photos of that steak before I even tasted it. Then I’d spend a few more minutes adjusting the contrast and saturation before sharing it to Instagram and Facebook. Then as I ate the steak, I’d wait for the telltale sound that someone clicked “like.”

I was so focused on the approval of others that I couldn’t focus on my dinner. It was delicious BTW. I’ll probably do it again tonight. Seriously, 4 minutes a side at 392 after rubbing with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Now if I want to share a meal, I cook for someone.

Like my Dad.

I don’t care if 300 people don’t see the photographic proof. Neither should you. It’s great to share what I love with those I love. Anything else is noise and a cry for validation that turns us from the way, the truth, and the life that Jesus has laid out for us.

Unplug. You don’t know what you’re missing.

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Unplugged.

Have you ever heard the story of the Lykov family?  In the 1930’s they fled Communist persecution of Christians.  They fled into the desolation of the unforgiving taiga of Siberia.

They were not seen again until 1978, when geologists traversing the terrain by helicopter discovered them.  Locked in time, living off the land for nearly half a century.  Think what it would be like to be as amazed by cellophane as by satellites orbiting overhead?

Here in 2020, it seems we are experiencing the absolute inverse of the Lykovs.  Everyone is connected in nearly every way possible.  Information is shared, analyzed, manipulated and catalogued at an incomprehensible rate.

What truth is true?  What facts are facts?  In the age of social media the lines are blurred beyond recognition.  No wonder everyone is in a panic, the truth they cling to can be obliterated by a single tweet.

The other day I sat flipping through Facebook.  I can’t tell you how many folks I snoozed for 30 days.  Not necessarily because I disagreed with them, to be blunt, I found very little joy in the lives and opinions of people who weren’t actually a part of my life.

After my experience back on the 5th (Look up) and how quickly the anxiety left me, I decided I had to do something.

Both Instagram as well as Snapchat followed. As much as I enjoyed sharing whatever I was cooking or doing, the folks I speak with on a daily basis already know what I’m up to. What honestly was the point besides a brief dopamine hit that faded in less time than it took me to share something?

No constant need to check social media. No injection of ideas by some nameless, faceless algorithm in an attempt to shape my opinion. No more people sending memes to me that mock my faith. No more arguments over millionaires who don’t know us. No more relentless flow of fear. No more filtered lives to look at. Now I can focus on what is important.

God. Family. Loved ones. Friends.

The rest? God’s got it.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me To eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, In this I will be confident. Psalms 27:1‭-‬3 NKJV

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Look Up.

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
– Psalm 46:10

Another election cycle has come and… well… kept going.

I’ve been following politics since I was roughly 13 years old. We’re talking 6 presidential election cycles, various house and senate cycles, and of course the obligatory local and state elections. Every couple of years another cycle of panic, faith, and fear. Panic over the doom and gloom warnings from both sides. Misguided faith in a candidate. Fear that a candidate just might lose.

I’ve been following Jesus since I was roughly 38-39 years old. No election cycles. No panic. Tons of faith (faith in God, not misguided faith in a politician). Amazing fear – respect, awe, and submission to God. Knowing that there is a God above in control of all of this, that His will rules over all, and that He will never provide a challenge we are unable to bear is what has graced me with a peace beyond all understanding when the world seems so full of panic.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.Corinthians 10:13

…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7

I won’t say I haven’t had any anxiety here, I’m human. Election night I looked at the news for 5 minutes and near disabling anxiety shot through me.

So I said a prayer.

Then a thought that was not my own, from a gentle voice that was not my own said, “Just shut it off.” So I did. I closed out of the window and immediately the anxiety faded. Thank you Jesus. He knows what is for my good better than I do.

Now when it comes to criticisms of Trump – and even criticism of Biden – one name comes to me. David. I’ve seen Christians shouting from the rooftops against both candidates for their public and private failings and sins. Here’s the thing, and stay with me here because I’m going to be blunt.

King David raped a married woman, Bathsheba, and got her pregnant. He covered up his sin by committing murder in sending Bathsheba’s husband Uriah off to the front lines to die. This is a man after God’s own heart (Samuel 13:14). This is a man who is widely considered to be the greatest King of Israel.

Are the sins of Donald Trump or Joe Biden any worse than those committed by King David, a man after God’s own heart? Are their sins any worse than our own? Has the United States of America ever been led by man who was not flawed, or a sinner?

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; – Corinthians 1:26-27

I don’t know if either of them have truly been saved through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Trump mentions God and Jesus plenty. Biden’s a Catholic. Whether they’re saved is between them and God.

Full disclosure, if Trump wins, I’ll be happy. If Biden wins, I’ll be a little sad. In the end – whomever reaches 270 electoral college votes will be the President. They will have been anointed by God as per Romans 13 to lead this nation. What we learn as a result of that leadership, as men and women of faith, is the real lesson here.

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will [a]bring judgment on themselves. – Romans 13:1-2

One note there though – language is key (this pops up many times in scripture). As outlined in this blog post: No, Romans 13 is not about obeying the governing authorities.

The key to understanding is in the word “submit”. Take a look at this. The Greek word hupo-tasso, which has been translated as “submit” or “be subject,” literally means to arrange stuff respectfully in an “orderly manner underneath”.

This simple meaning of “social orderliness” would have been understood by original readers, but it is a little obscured in our English translation.

This word is used in Ephesians 5:22 to encourage husbands and wives to submit to one another, and it reflects God’s concern for order and respect.

Here’s the main point – Paul and Peter believed that governing authorities are necessary for keeping the peace. God is a God of order – not anarchy or chaos.

But here’s where we go wrong. There’s ANOTHER word, hupo-kouo, which is best translated as “obey,” which literally means to conform, to follow a command, or to kowtow to an authority as a subordinate.

Peter and Paul could have used this word, “obey,” but they chose not to.

Used twenty-one times in the New Testament, hupo-kouo always suggests a hierarchical context, as in the relationship between children or slaves and their parents or masters (Eph 6:1 and 6:5).

And so here’s the most important thing to remember – in the New Testament Greek, to submit does not always mean to obey! They are two separate actions or postures.

Though Paul, Peter and other followers of Jesus deliberately disobeyed laws that were in conflict with God’s commands, they still submitted to the authorities by accepting the legal consequences of their actions.

No, Romans 13 is not about obeying the governing authorities.

I pray every day for the salvation of this nation, for the pandemics, riots, and divisions to cease, and for the Lord’s grace and justice to rule this land. But when we get right down to basics – what does it matter who wins if we simply follow the commandments of our Lord Jesus?

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40

Take a deep breath my friends, regardless of which candidate you support. Turn your eyes to the Lord. He will guide, He will protect, and He will avenge. Just look to Him. Look up.

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A Rough Day

I thought I had a rough day today.  Doctor’s appointment then an oil change for my car.  As I sat at the dealership I started seeing spots in my vision.  Migraine.  Now my migraines have 3 main triggers.  Blood pressure, barometric pressure (spring and autumn are the worst), and dehydration.  I grabbed a soda from the machine, drank it, and prayed for some relief.

I’ve got migraine medication, at home, but I was a half hour away and had no car.  So I rode it out and much to my relief – the migraine faded without me going completely blind, a few pangs of pain and an Imitrex later, I was all clear.  Praise God.  This evening I visited with my friend and my step-kids for a small celebration… Halfway through dinner, I went blind.

Two in a day!?  Now the last time I’d had multiple in a day, or several each day, was my last trip to Club Med in Turks & Caicos.  I was drinking plenty, just not enough water.  The migraines were brutal.  There I was in paradise, and I really thought I was having a rough day.

Tonight after my vision returned and the pain began to fade, I decided to leave and get home so I could rest.  As I’m walking down the yard to get to my car, I trip over a tree stump I did not see, twist my right ankle, drop flat on my back, and scream as the Chinese leftovers go airborne.

My friend comes running out, helps me up, we collect the food and I limp my way to the car.  I crack a joke about “does this what ‘until death do us part means?” and we share a laugh.  Man, what a rough day I thought.

About a year ago, I shared a prayer for my father.  His surgery was a success.  His cancer was gone.  Then covid hit.  For months, fluid filled his chest triggering pain, anxiety, and a desperate struggle to breathe. Due to covid, followups were missed.  It wasn’t until many months later that the cause of his problems was identified, and they began treating it.

A cure was attempted, after over a week of prep, the doctors changed their mind.  My dad was sentenced to continue the treatments, without a cure. Seeing my Mom and Dad suffer breaks my heart.  Still, every time I see him, I get him to laugh, he gets others to laugh, and they share the joy of the Lord with those who know them through their word and deed.  I do what I can to honor my father and mother…  It really puts perspective into what I consider “a rough day.”  I pray for them every day.

Today I caught a news story about a media personality I have followed for 27 years whose stage 4 cancer, despite repeated treatments, has progressed.  This gentleman has wealth, fame, and adoration from millions… More than I would ever want or need.  Now I cannot speak to the faith of this man, but I know that since his terminal diagnosis I have heard him loudly and boldly praise God and share thanksgiving to Him publicly before the millions who tune in to his show every day.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. James 5 13-19

All that money, all that wealth, all that fame – in the end – even he knows that salvation can only be found in the arms of Jesus.  I wish him well, and I pray for his health.

I have other good friends and loved ones struggling through cancer and other health issues. Some believe, some do not.  I will share the gospel in my words and deeds, regardless.

In the book of Mark, Jesus stated:

“The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12 29:31

There is no fine print there, love God with all that you are, and love your neighbor as yourself.  I am far from perfect.  There are folks who evoke my ire daily.  Before I was saved, I would eagerly spit out a retort with the goal of dragging them down to my level so I could beat them with experience… today I struggle to hold my tongue and I pray for them.  Friend and enemy alike.  I will pray for them, and I will love them because God loved me first and there is no better way to share that love and joy with my fellow human beings than to pray for them and love them as God loves me.

I will not lie, I slip daily.  I am still slow to listen and fast to speak at times.  I will not stop trying.  I will not stop praying for the salvation of all my neighbors on this Earth.

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. James 5 7:12

So tonight, before I rest, at the end of my “rough day,” I will pray for friends and enemies alike.  I will pray for those with whom I agree, and those with whom I shall never agree.  I will pray for the Lord to grant me the strength, wisdom, and patience to use my ears before I use my tongue. 

Prayer is powerful, it is a God given gift to every single man, woman, and child on this Earth.  Use it.

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Fireproof

Last night I experienced something I can’t explain, and today I spent most of the day feeling as if I’d just run a marathon on my hands and knees. The only thing more exhausted than my body is my mind right now.

I fell to my knees, then I fell to my chest.

I laid flat on the floor, face down, weeping.

I prayed. I prayed harder and louder and more direct than I’d ever prayed before. While I’ve been a fairly open book on this blog – what was said shall stay between the Lord and myself for now. I don’t know how long I was face down on the floor, prayers erupting through my sobs…

So much clarity.

Today I skipped church. I wanted to go, more than ever, but I was – and still am – physically and emotionally exhausted. There remains a lot going on in my life, many trials and blessings, and for a moment there I thought I was in control…

Then Christ reminded me whose child I was, and who was in control, I fell before Him and was humbled.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3.

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Be aware of social engineering!

Social Engineering: the use of deception to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential or personal information that may be used for fraudulent purposes.

Every couple of weeks I get a panic call a friend that their computer has been hacked. Normally what precipitates this is a random phone call, be it from Microsoft or even your bank.

The caller sounds serious.

Someone’s hacked your computer.

Someone’s hacked your bank account.

I need your information to help stop it.

Please, please, please… if you get one of these calls, or if you have older family members, give them this short piece of advice.

HANG UP THE PHONE. Caller ID can be faked, and people lie.

Step 2? Call your bank directly and have them check your account.

If you have a friend who is good with computers, and that you trust, have them give your computer a good once over. I’ve only ever gotten one call from a bank I use which asked for this information. I asked for their information, including extension. I then hung up and called the bank’s phone number on the back of my card. Using the provided extension, I got that person back on the line and continued the conversation.

No actual bank representative will take issue with you hanging up to call them back at the customer service number on the back of your card, or the main bank telephone number.

If Microsoft or some other technology company calls about your computer being a problem, they’re likely lying too. Hang up. If your computer is really causing a problem, your ISP will shut down your Internet connection and wait for you to call and complain.

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