CELEBRATING THE 51st: My Annual Birthday Post

While my birthday plans do not include going here, being that I’m about to become this age I thought this would be a cool pic to put on this post. Photo courtesy of komando.com

 

THOUGH MY ACTUAL BIRTHDAY IS NOT FOR FIVE MORE DAYS (as of this writing), I’M GOING AHEAD AND  POSTING MY THOUGHTS ABOUT IT NOW

 

Fifty-one is not fifty.

I’m fully aware of that and the fact that I’m not celebrating a milestone birthday like I did last year.

But that’s OK, because I reckon when one reaches their forties and fifties – and as the years advance, actually – one feels more and more grateful that another year has passed and they are still on this planet.

I certainly feel that way as my 51st birthday approaches this coming Monday; as always, I’m making it an extra special point to give thanks to God for allowing me to see 51 years on this Earth as an African-American male on the Autism Spectrum Disorder as soon as I wake up that morning.

Especially considering the times we are living in right now, with the leader of the free world who-must-not-be-named – remember, I vowed to never write the name of this country’s president on this blog when he was elected – and his “Make America Great Again” cap-wearing worshipers, I mean followers, intentionally trying to induce misery upon anyone who’s not exactly like them (Read: white, male, straight, wealthy, conservative, Christian, or any combination of those six attributes).

All right, enough about you-know-who!

The biggest thought about this upcoming birthday of mine is that on that day in 1978,

Exactly forty years ago to the day,

I undertook something significant that was a big event of my childhood and served as an influence on my life…

I went to Dodger Stadium for the very first time.

Yep, I spent the day I turned eleven watching my very first Major League Baseball game in the form of the Los Angeles Dodgers playing the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals).

However, if you want details about that noteworthy day, sorry. I won’t share those details right here and now.

 

 

A poster detailing all the stuff that happened fifty-one years ago. Image courtesy of flickback.com

 

 

A complete description about spending my 11th birthday at that flagship baseball park will appear on this blog on Monday, my actual birthday, which I think is only appropriate to do.

In other words, I promise to tell all in five days.

For the time being, as far as birthday plans…

I’m definitely NOT planning any kind of big party; last year’s soiree, while enjoyable, was a one-time milestone thing that I have no plans of doing again until I turn 70 or 75 (God Willing).

To be honest, outside of writing about my first Dodger Stadium experience in the morning on this blog and SoCal Sports Annals, my sports fan blog (Here’s the link to that: http://www.socalsportsannals.wordpress.com ),

And eating Mexican food from a place where I have eaten since the mid-1970s along with birthday cake, I am not 100% sure what I’m going to do as of this moment.

But I do plan to enjoy the day, as anyone in that age group and beyond needs to do.

It will feel good to be celebrating another year of life as a black man in America with Asperger’s, as it gives me a feeling of gratitude and survival.

While I’m definitely not trying to tell anyone what to do, anyone in their forties and up who’s on the autism spectrum in particular should feel glad  and thankful every time their birthday approaches.

Why? Because despite any struggles, social or otherwise, that someone on the spectrum may have suffered through, the fact that they’re still here is something to be quite thankful for.

I know I’ll be sure to mention that to God in my prayers.

I also guess that the only thing left to say here is…

Happy Birthday To Me (five days early).

I hope it’s a good one.

And it goes without saying that I hope and pray to have many more birthdays before I’m through.

 

 

I don’t think I’m a limited edition, but I do like this picture. Image courtesy of teepublic.com

 

 

My Thoughts On The Current Homeless Crisis – And What I Think Is The Root Cause

Living in Los Angeles, I’ve seen a LOT of this. Photo courtesy of  yournewswire.com

 

MY TAKE ON WHAT IS ARGUABLY AMERICA’S BIGGEST ISSUE

 

I’ve never seen it this bad – and I’ve lived in the greater Los Angeles area, widely considered the homeless capital of these United States, for over forty years.

I vividly remember Santa Monica, where I lived for 22 years, having an influx of homeless people, or “Transients”, as they were called, during my formative years in the 1980s and beyond.

This was especially the case in Palisades Park, located on the bluffs overlooking the ocean, where I remember it being Skid Row West with all of the tents put up there.

I would get asked variations of “Spare some change?” quite a bit at Third Street Promenade in particular, the outdoor shopping mall just a few blocks from Palisades Park where I worked at a luggage store during the early 1990s and spent various amounts of time outside of that.

The issue had reached a point where dolphin statues with slots where you can deposit change – which would go to programs and services to help the homeless – were put up all over that promenade.

I made it a point to put in at least a dollar at least once a visit, sometimes I put in five dollars, because by doing so I knew my money would be guaranteed to, as a public service announcement that was shown in the movie theaters stated, “Make your change help, not hurt.”

I reckon I put in roughly $150 in those dolphin statues during those years.

Anyhow…

As I said, I never thought the homeless situation would be worse that what I saw in Santa Monica in the 80s and 90s – until the past few years as pretty much everywhere I go in L.A. now, I see rows of tents and RVs, folks lying on bus benches, sidewalks, and anywhere else they can, villages of homeless people (called “Hoovervilles” after then-President Herbert Hoover during the Depression in the 1930s) along rivers, and simply more of the unfortunate, to the tune of nearly 60,000 in Los Angeles County alone.

As opposed to when I first moved to my current town of Culver City twenty years ago, I’ve even seen an influx of the homeless there, particularly in the library down the street from my house, where I’ve seen a couple of tents parked against a side wall next to Ballona Creek.

And of course I’ve not only donated money to organizations like the Salvation Army, I’ve (especially lately) bought food for those who asked me for spare change, because then I would know that my charity would do some good, rather than wonder if the change I gave to them would be spent on drugs, alcohol and/or cigarettes.

This largesse was mentioned in a piece I did on this blog almost exactly a year ago, which described what worked best for me as far as helping panhandlers; here’s the link to that post:

 

http://www.hartlandchronicles.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/the-best-way-for-me-to-help-panhandlers-and-the-homeless

 

 

A very common sight in the greater Los Angeles area. Photo courtesy of scpr.org

 

 

After watching news reports and reading multiple-part series on the homeless, notably in the Los Angeles Times; how they got that way and the struggles that they constantly endure, I came to this conclusion at what I feel is the heart and root of this terrible issue.

I’m convinced that it doesn’t lie only at the feet of the homeless person him/herself and the choices they make, as contrary to popular opinion most people without a permanent roof are not mentally ill – only 30% are – or addicted to drugs or booze.

No, I’m convinced that the root of the homeless problem not only in the Los Angeles area, not only in America, but throughout the world,

Lies in one concept:

HEARTLESSNESS

I see the heartlessness in the comments of articles I read regarding these poor folks, people stating how “It’s all their fault” and how “They need to just try harder” and – a very common response – to simply “Get a job!”

I really see the heartlessness in the folks living along the Santa Ana River in Orange County who, in the grand tradition of “Not In My Back Yard”, had officials remove a miles-long homeless village along a bike path.

And I especially see the heartlessness in one particular group:

LANDLORDS.

Specifically those landlords who for no apparent reason jack up the rents on apartments to what is far beyond what their tenants, who often have families, can pay, thus throwing them out on the street while (I imagine) they cackle like some villain in a movie.

Not to mention those who buy apartment buildings, evict all the tenants in one fell swoop – some of them who have lived in those flats for years and years –  and convert them into either luxury apartments or condominiums where they can charge as much as $10,000 a month, as someone recently told me a place in Santa Monica was going for.

I’ve read that these landlords have said that they have their rents at these outrageous levels because it’s at market value and they need to make a living, but you know what?

I truly feel that the mission of a landlord or an apartment building owner is to provide decent housing at prices that the average, hard-working family can afford without sacrificing their ability to pay for food and bills, as it’s at times the case – NOT to strictly make SO much money that they live in affluent areas like Beverly Hills or Bel-Air while the people who live in their buildings suffer in anxiety at best and are forced out onto the street at worst.

It’s the greedy heartlessness of too many landlords and others in power that I feel is the main root for the suffering that the poor and the homeless are going through more than ever.

I know that there will be plenty of people who will vehemently disagree with me, who will call me a communist and a socialist among other derisive names.

But I like to say this in summing up…

Back in the 90s, someone I knew said this to me as we spotted a homeless person:

“The only difference between us and him is two paychecks.”

Perhaps if everyone, particularly the heartless, kept that in mind, we would actually make some real progress in not seeing tent cities and people lying anywhere they can find, panhandling for change, anymore.

These are my opinions and I’m sticking to them.

 

 

I’ve seen plenty of this, too. Photo courtesy of spiritofvenice.wordpress.com

Random Musings About Black History Month, 2018

Two of the most famous black people of African descent in history, in their only photo taken together. Photo courtesy of the odysseyonline.com

 

I’ll be honest, as always…

I can’t really think about anything original to write about to commemorate this year’s version of Black History Month, because I’ve already written a lot about the various topics and issues concerning African-Americans in blogs – mine and others – over the years.

I didn’t want to do what every other blog and site is doing and has done every year at this time and tout/laud the first Blacks to do this and the first blacks to invent that and the first blacks to stand up for whatever oppression.

As important as all of this is,  and as proud as I am over the MANY accomplishments and contributions  that Black people in this country and abroad have made to this world,

To me it’s simply a case of been-there-wrote-that and been-there-know-that.

And I’m sorry, but that’s just boredom-inducing to me.

One thought is prevalent in my mind, however…

It seems that it’s a terrible time to be an African-American right now, what with the President that we have, and all the alt-right movements and the blatant bigotry that has been abundant these past couple of years.

Come to think of it, it seems like it’s a terrible time to be anything but white, male, wealthy, conservative, straight,  Christian, or a combination of those six attributes, right now in America.

And it also seems that until our President-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is voted out in 2020 – the way he is and has been to anyone not like him, I’m confident of those chances – things will get worse for people who are not any of the six attributes named.

HAVING SAID THAT:

It’s nice to celebrate Black people of African descent this month, and I completely concur that it will always be necessary to have a focus on Black history – and the history of all people of color as well as women, non-Christians, and gays – every month of the year.

Not just February in Black history’s case.

But I firmly believe that we must also focus on the current realities of the bulk of African-Americans, who rather than having a dream ala Martin Luther King are having a nightmare of pronounced proportions, in virtually every possible way.

We must, once and for all, focus on how my fellow African-Americans who are living in misery, want and need can get out of such.

I have some thoughts on that, but I’ll save them for another time soon.

That’s about all I have to say right now…

 

I like this picture, for what I hope are obvious reasons. Image courtesy of bestwishesandgreetings.com

 

BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2017: Just A Few Thoughts

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A great shot of some extremely well known people; I had the pleasure of meeting the guy with the boxing gloves in the upper left hand corner. Photo courtesy of 1966mag.com

 

MUSINGS FROM A MIDDLE AGED AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE

 

It’s my regret that I’m giving homage to Black History Month on this blog with just a few days to go in the month.

But as they say, no use crying over spilled milk.

Or better late than never; take your pick.

 

Having said that…

In light of our new President-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s regime, who’s celebrating one month in office and – as we all know – has attacked every group of people not white, male, Christian, conservative, gay, wealthy, or a combination of those six attributes,

It seems like we need events such as Black History Month more than ever.

Particularly since it seems to be a bad time to be black – or any person of color who’s not named Clarence Thomas,  Ben Carson, Omarosa Manigault, Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz – right now, what with the increased racist/sexist/homophobic/Islamophobic attacks across America.

Living in California, the deepest of blue states, I’m honestly a tiny bit scared to go east of the Colorado River as while I refuse to say that every white person, or white Republican for that matter, is a bigot who feels that people who look like me are naturally inferior and  need to stay “in their place”,  it seems that too many whites have that mentality in the red states.

The comments I read from every article that talks about racial issues are an illustration of this thought, as you would think some of those folks writing such comments are carrying their Ku Klux Klan cards in their back pockets with white sheets hanging in their closets.

I feel thankful that I live in a relatively liberal area and subsequently have not seen or experienced any real, hardcore ideological or racial animosity.

At least not so far, thank God and knock wood.

 

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A really good message that needs to always be remembered. Image courtesy of wesleyunited.org

 

Personally, I feel Black History Month is sorely needed to remind Americans of how without Black people of African descent, there wouldn’t be an America.

And not just due to the 246 years of chattel slavery as so many things that we use and take for granted, from peanut butter to potato chips to the stoplight to open heart surgery, was invented by an African-American.

Imagine if blacks – as well as women, gays, and other people of color – were celebrated every month of the year rather than merely the one designated for them (the shortest month in the case of African-Americans).

Then perhaps a guy like our new Commander-In-Chief (my personal refusal to mention his name on this blog remains in effect) would never have been elected.

And there wouldn’t be a need for groups such as Black Lives Matter.

 

The irony of all of this, from a personal standpoint:

I won’t go into any details now, but in my book describing my experiences with having Asperger’s Syndrome, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, which I’m in the final stages of editing and will begin the self-publishing process soon, there’s a chapter detailing my experiences of being black on the Autism Spectrum.

Unfortunately it hasn’t been the most fun experience, but that’s all I’m going to say at this time; you’ll just have to read chapter four of the book.

All right, I said I had just a few thoughts about this year’s Black History Month.

And I’m going to stick to that as I don’t want to ramble or go on and on save for this…

All I can do is as far as the extremely fragmented situation that this country is in is two things:

1. Hold good, optimistic thoughts,

and…

2. Be the best person I can be.

Which I reckon is all anyone could or should do.

 

 

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Being the longtime baseball and softball guy that I am, this is perhaps the part of the African-American experience that I’m most proud of: The (so-called) Negro Leagues, with its two greatest stars, Satchel Paige (left) and Josh Gibson (right) featured here. I’ll be writing an article about these and the great black players from that era soon on this blog. Photo courtesy of pechakucha.org

 

Are We Now Fighting A Second Civil War? (Albeit A Cold War)

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This says it all – I only wish all Americans felt like this. Photo courtesy of rawstory.com

 

A FEW BELATED THOUGHTS FROM ME CONCERNING DONALD TRUMP’S ELECTION AND THIS COUNTRY’S DEEP DIVISIONS

 

The last time these United States of America was divided like this, 600,000 men and boys died.

Killed in a brutal fashion over deeply divided ideologies and how they saw this country.

Now that it has been two weeks since Donald Trump shocked this planet by being elected leader of the free world  – I won’t go into how Trump not so much won the election as Hillary Clinton lost it; that has already been well documented – it has amazed me that the racial, political, and ideological divisions that America has been experiencing for the past few years has perhaps grown to the point of no return.

The many anti-Trump protests (I saw one in downtown Los Angeles in which a HUGE sea of folks made themselves heard) and the 400 racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-Muslim incidents in the week following Election Day certainly illustrate this.

So much so that although…

* Despite recent actions, the realistic likelihood of California seceding from the union ala “Calexit” is highly unlikely,

* Despite the various riots and skirmishes, there are no all out battles with armies carrying Confederate and American flags with Robert E. Lee and U.S. Grant-like generals leading them, and…

* There are no plans for the red states to separate from the blue states and form two separate countries, as what happened in 1947 when after independence from Great Britain, Muslims separated from Hindu-dominated India and formed Pakistan, with the two countries subsequently experiencing wars and significant tensions ever since,

I’m going to go ahead and call this period we are going through a name…

 

The Cold Civil War.

 

Much like the Cold War in the late 1940s through the 1980s, even though the United States and the then-Soviet Union never fired any nuclear missiles, the tension was so pronounced between those two superpowers that there were wars (namely in Korea and Vietnam) fought over those democracy/communist ideological differences and the fact that those communists’ ultimate goal was to make the world like them.

Not to mention the fact that the world came pretty close to ending during that 1962 missile crisis in Cuba.

 

 

622088174-anti-trump-protesters-gather-in-a-park-as-new-yorkers-jpg-crop-cq5dam_web_1280_1280_jpeg

This is what I’m fervently praying for in light of this recent election as far as people of color, women, LGBTQs, and all other non-Christians as well as Muslims. Photo courtesy of slate.com

 

There’s no doubt in my mind and heart –  We are now in a Second Civil War.

It is a Cold War, at least for now.

But it is a Civil War.

I don’t how else I can describe it.

And sadly, I honestly don’t know how it can be stopped.

As long as there are millions of people – liberals, conservatives, “Alt-Rights”, or what have you –  who feel the way they do on both sides and who are so unwilling to compromise,

Then this Second (Cold) Civil War will be ongoing.

And the way things are, if in about fifty years (or even twenty) the United States does what India and Pakistan did nearly 70 years before and dissolves, with liberals forming one country and conservatives – those who voted for Trump in particular – forming another,

Like it tried to do in the 1860s and very nearly succeeded,

It would not surprise me at all.

 

One last thought…

About five years ago I wrote on the website Hubpages.com an article called “If The Far Right Ruled America”.

The article offered my view of what this country would be like under far right Republican rule.

For those who are interested in reading it, here’s the link to that piece:  http://www.hubpages.com/politics/If-The-Far-Right-Ruled-America

In light of what has happened this month, I believe we are about to find out what this U S of A will be like now that the far right has taken power.

Or officially will on January 20th.

 

 

161112-trump-protests-los-angeles-mn-1540_da56341e92374b2c0df05c08ae6f9ece-nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

An anti-Trump protest in downtown Los Angeles, which I saw when passing through there. Photo courtesy of nbcnews.com

Why I’m NOT Voting For Trump: My Thoughts Regarding This Presidential Election

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Image courtesy of hamodia.com

 

HOW I SEE THIS COUNTRY UNDER TRUMP AND CONSERVATIVE RULE, AND WHY I’M AFRAID OF THAT.

I’ll get right to the point:

I am NOT a big fan of Hillary Clinton.

Not because of any dishonesty she may have exuded over Benghazi or because of some emails – to be honest, I really don’t care about how she may have lied about those; who cares about a bunch of emails?

I’m not a big fan of Clinton because I see her as a retread, someone who has been around a long time and whose time has passed.

I wanted someone new and relatively unknown to take over for Barack Obama, which is one reason why I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary as the fact that Obama wasn’t really known outside of Chicago and Hawaii was one factor in his becoming President and staying in the White House for eight years.

Though I still see Clinton as a retread, since this election season began I always said that if Clinton’s the nominee, I’d vote for her because an America under Donald Trump – or any Republican for that matter – scares me personally.

Here’s why…

First, the slogan “Make America Great Again” in the hearts of conservatives should more accurately say: “Make America White, Male, and Straight Again” , and any conservative who denies this is lying to themselves.

The instances of Trump bad mouthing, insulting, and demeaning anyone and everyone not white and male has been too well documented throughout this campaign.

Which of course is one reason why I’m not voting for him.

However, besides the obvious issues regarding Trump being a less than scrupulous businessman, having filed for bankruptcy more than once and failing to pay those who built his hotels and other buildings; you should see how so many people in his hometown New York City talk about him, they loathe him so much,

I’ve never voted for any conservative in the 31 years that I’ve been eligible to vote, for these reasons:

  1. Conservatives don’t care about people of color, as I fear that the clock would be turned back on African-Americans, Latinos, and anyone else not white. The crusade against Civil Rights will be turned up several notches, and I see the open warfare against black males in particular in the form of racial profiling and shootings by the police quadrupled under a Trump administration. Not to mention a much bigger open hunt against Latinos and Muslims in the form of that “build a wall” pledge; that should go without saying. In other words, conservatives feel that anyone not white is somehow lesser and should be put “in their place”, which is precisely what will be attempted if Trump is elected. In fact, I wouldn’t rule out an attempt to return to the “Jim Crow” segregation laws that were a big part of the American landscape for decades.
  2. Conservatives don’t care about the poor or those who have fallen on hard times. If they did, they would leave social programs such as welfare and social security alone rather than try to defund them, as I’m sure Trump will try to do as President. The rampant homeless problem would explode out of control due to cuts to programs that help the downtrodden.
  3. Conservatives don’t care about the true equality of women.  I don’t have to remind anyone about all the nasty things Trump has said regarding the female gender, but besides that, it has been evident to me that conservatives feel that like gays, blacks, Latinos and other people of color, women are somehow lesser and should be kept “in their place”. Not to mention not having the right to decide what to do with their own body.
  4. Conservatives don’t care about the environment.  Their convictions about climate change being a hoax has been well documented and is certainly a prime example of this. Under conservative rule, American will see the green movement die and the environment devastated beyond repair through deregulation, all for the sake of profits.
  5. Conservatives don’t care about education for those who aren’t affluent.  Public school budgets have been more or less destroyed by budget cuts under Republican administrations, and a Trump presidency would see a return to that.

As someone who’s an African-American male and not wealthy by any means, any government under conservative control would hurt me.

That’s why I’ve always taken major elections like this one personally.

Whenever I read comments to online articles regarding racial or gender issues, the nasty things that folks have said, even to the point of using the “N” word,  particularly scares me as those are the people who are conservative and have supported Trump.

A Trump presidency would be a tragedy for anyone not white, male, rich, conservative, or straight.

Since I’m black, liberal and definitely not rich, I would be devastated.

Which is why though I would rather see someone else in the White House, someone new and fresh like Obama was, I’ve already voted for Clinton.

And I’m fervently hoping and praying that our first woman president will be giving her first speech as President-Elect on the evening of November 8th.

 

i-voted-sticker

Image courtesy of robingorsline.com

 

IF JESUS WERE IN AMERICA TODAY

 

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The best (classic) rendition of Jesus Christ: Robert Powell as our Lord and Savior in 1977’s “Jesus of Nazareth”. Photo courtesy of pinterest.com

 

WHAT WOULD OUR LORD AND SAVIOR DO?

HOW WOULD HE REACT TO ALL THE NEGATIVE MADNESS THAT’S CURRENTLY GOING ON IN THIS COUNTRY?

 

Although I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, asking him to forgive my sins and come into my life a few years ago, I don’t regard myself as overly religious.

I have never been a pushy salesman (and I never intend to be one), getting into strangers’ faces and forcefully telling them, “You’re going to go to hell unless you accept Jesus right now!” like some folks do, which has happened to me on college campuses and elsewhere.

And I have definitely not gone around knocking on people’s doors like the Jehovah’s Witnesses are famous for doing.

In fact, what I’ve always liked to say was…

“I’ve accepted and believe that Jesus Christ is my personal Lord and Savior.”

“I also believe in religious freedom, and that it’s neither my place nor my business to tell people how to worship God, or to force others to believe what I believe.”

Having said that…

I’ve often wondered what our Lord would do and say if He visited these United States of America today, how He would react to all the negativity that’s been going on.

Here are my guesses; of course there are merely my opinions:

 

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I like this pic, young folks paying homage to our Savior. Photo courtesy of christianity.com

 

For starters, I have a very good idea about what Jesus would say to guys like Donald Trump and all of the other billionaires who earned their riches off of the backs of the poor and working class,

“Go and sell everything you have, and give the money to the poor, and you shall have treasure in Heaven.” (Matthew 19:21)

And after Trump and the rest of the billionaires walked away after giving Jesus an incredulous look that said, “I can’t do that!”, our Lord would comment:

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)

This is proof that Jesus is the Original Socialist as His creed was, in a nutshell – besides believe in Him and that He is the Son of God who rose from the dead for our sins,

SHARE THE WEALTH AND HELP THE POOR.

Which was what Karl Marx would later advocate in the 19th century.

Speaking of the poor, Jesus would also spend much of not all of his time among the homeless and others who are so-called “down and out”, comforting them and doing whatever was necessary to ease their suffering.

I’m also convinced that He would say this to those ministers and others from the religious right, those who have displayed their animosity and extreme lack of compassion for gays, people of color, and anyone else who doesn’t think exactly like them, as well as anyone who is among the less fortunate, those who have lost their jobs and homes through no fault of their own who are basically told by these far right folks to shove it and pull themselves up by their own bootstraps when their boots have been taken away:

“I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23)

I know there’s a lot of other stuff that our Lord would be doing if He was in this country today, but to list them all would take several hours.

Hopefully I have provided a tiny bit of comfort to those who aren’t having it so good.

 

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A quote from one of the greatest women – people, really – who ever lived. Photo courtesy of pinterest.com