NOTE TO DEMOCRATS: How To Win Back The White House In 2020 (and Congress in 2018)

No explanation necessary as to what this place is. Photo courtesy of nbcwashington.com

 

THE STRATEGIES I WOULD TAKE IF I WERE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT, THE SENATE, OR THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

I have recently realized that I haven’t written about politics on this blog for a while.

After observing what our President-who-will-continue-to-not-be-named and his people have been up to these past eight months, with his approval ratings remaining at the lowest of any commander-in-chief,

It surprises me that no one from the Democrats has talked about strategies regarding how to take Capitol Hill and the White House back in 2018 and 2020, respectively.

I don’t pretend to be an absolute expert in politics, and I’m aware that it would be a bit more complicated, but here is what I would do if I were running for the Senate or the House in next year’s midterm elections;

Or more importantly, the presidency in three years, where the way things are going, it would mark a GOLDEN opportunity to tell President You-Know-Who two words that he has told many people on that reality show of his…

“YOU’RE FIRED!”

 

ONE OF THE ULTIMATE GOALS: To see a lot less of this…

 

1. HIT THE MIDWESTERN/RUST BELT STATES AND HIT THEM HARD.

The reason why our President-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is sitting in the Oval Office?

The states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Having been blue (going for Democrats) for over thirty years, it was their voters switching to You-Know-Who and turning their states red that was the difference last November.

Which I will always say was completely Hillary Clinton’s fault, as she completely took those states for granted; former President Barack Obama (I’m quite proud to mention his name!) said that while he took twelve trips to Michigan to campaign for the former First Lady and Secretary of State, she didn’t make one appearance.

This is why I’ve said that You-Know-Who did not win the 2016 election; Hillary lost it.

I would not make that same mistake!

To say that I would have a constant presence in those three states – plus Ohio, as that’s always been and will always be a crucial swing state – would be an understatement as I would have campaign office in as many cities as possible and hold rallies and town hall meetings in cities such as Pittsburgh, Detroit, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Columbus so often that people would get tired of me.

I would also sent folks such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to those states, particularly hitting the smaller towns (as would I).

Those folks need to know that the Democrats are for them, which they didn’t feel in 2016.

Which is why they went for He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

 

2. BORROW A CAMPAIGN PHRASE THAT WORKED FOR A ICONIC CONSERVATIVE IN 1980

I remember Ronald Reagan, during his campaign for President in 1980 amongst crises like inflation, the gas shortage, and those 44 hostages being held in Iran, saying something like this during a commercial,

“Are you better off now than you were four years ago (or two years ago if I was running for Congress)?”

“Do you have a secure job with benefits?”

Do you have solid healthcare?”

“If so, then feel free to vote for my worthy candidate. “

“If not…”
(I’ll let you figure out the rest)

With tensions between the U.S. and North Korea at its highest in 65 years, You-Know-Who and Kim Jong Un threatening to nuke each other’s countries,

And with the homeless issue now at a crisis, tensions between the different races and ethnic groups at an all-time low, and employment not greatly improving among other things,

It’s safe to say that for the working class folks in particular who supported our President-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in droves,

Things are not any better for them personally then they were when he took the Oath of Office last January.

Which is why I would state the phrase “Are you better off now than…” every chance I got; every campaign rally, every town hall meeting, every debate.

 

3. VOW TO CUT TAXES FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS – AND PROVIDE JOBS

This is for all those who tend to vote Republican because they hate being taxed.

Cutting taxes for people and families making (just throwing numbers out there; it’s obviously something that would have to be worked out) between $50,000 – $200,000 would rebuild a middle class that has been all but eliminated.

It would do wonders for the economy as such folks would have more money to spend.

And yes, taxes on those who can easily afford it – millionaires and billionaires – would be raised, with a list on what those funds would be spent on: Infrastructure, education, programs to “teach a man how to fish” rather than “give a man a fish”, to coin a Chinese saying.

As for providing jobs, which was a huge issue in the last campaign…

I haven’t seen any news saying that loads of people have gained employment since You-Know-Who took office.

I would hammer home that unlike him, I would fulfill that promise by providing programs to re-educate the working class, so rather than depending on steel mills and coal mines to provide them a living, they could do other things.

Plus I would fight to keep auto factories – and other factories – from moving overseas.

 

 

The skyline of Detroit, Michigan, a KEY state which the Democrats MUST take back. Photo courtesy of detroitunderground.com

 

Yes, these strategies seem simple.

But I still say that any Democrat with aspirations for the White House or Capitol Hill,

Who uses these tactics,

Would have a good chance of winning in 2018 or 2020.

 

An anti You-Know-Who protest after last November’s elections…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LOS ANGELES REBELLION (or Riots) 25-YEAR ANNIVERSARY: Where I Was On That Day

 

REMEMBERING ONE OF AMERICA’S LARGEST RACIAL UPRISINGS FROM A PERSONAL STANDPOINT

 

I’ll get right to the point:

I was living (figuratively speaking) pretty far away from the infamous flash point of Florence Ave. and Normandie Ave. in Santa Monica, CA the day those verdicts in the first Rodney King trial in Simi Valley came down, setting those bigoted policemen free despite that tape showing the most obvious incriminating evidence of all time.

Though I was never brutalized like Rodney, as a African-American male in his mid-20s I could certainly relate to being racially profiled, being stopped by the Santa Monica police a number of times; there are two instances of this that stand out in my mind:

 

* I was getting some food from Campos, a Mexican place two blocks from my house whose food I grew up on, loved, and still love to this day.

As I was walking out with my order a policeman, out of the blue, stopped me and began to ask me questions, saying that I “fit the description” of someone they were looking for.

If it wasn’t for another guy walking across the street that yelled out, “That’s not him!” I would have most likely been arrested for something I had no knowledge of.

 

* One day in July of 1997, a month after my 30th birthday, I had left my house to get a newspaper when a plain clothes policeman stopped me when I was literally across the street from my home, exiting his car.

“Get your hands up!” he said, putting me in handcuffs.

Thankfully I was able to convince the cop to let me into my house so I can show him my ID, proving that I wasn’t a stalker.

To the cop’s credit, he apologized, but that did nothing to ease my irritation.

 

Being that I lived in the Pico Neighborhood, Santa Monica’s inner city for all intents and purposes, I knew deep down that being a young black man in that area, I was both a target and would be suspect for anything that went down.

The irony in all this? Santa Monica had an African-American police chief in those days, James Butts, who’s now the mayor of Inglewood.

 

 

TV news footage of that fateful day at Florence and Normandie, courtesy of YouTube

 

 

Anyhow…

I remember the day everything went down on Florence and Normandie quite well;

My mother and I were watching it all go down live on the local TV news. I specifically recall seeing a van ram into the front bars of a store, breaking the bars and leaving that store ripe for the looters, which we likewise saw.

I believe I saw Reginald Denny get smashed by that brick as well.

The other memory I have of that uprising – I’m making it a point to not call it a riot anymore – was the next couple of mornings as I was leaving the house to go to work; though no fires or looting happened in Santa Monica or the Westside, I could smell the smoke drifting from the many fires in the rest of L.A.

I was a physical education assistant teacher at a couple of elementary schools at that time, and the kids at both places, most of them white, were quite upset not only with what was going down, but also with the cause of it as being the liberal town that Santa Monica was and is, pretty much everyone felt that those four cops who beat Rodney got off scott-free.

At one of those schools there were a couple of African-American kids, both 4th graders, who lived in what was then called South Central L.A. (they were able to attend the Santa Monica school because their mothers worked in the town and were able to acquire permits) and were subsequently adjacent to all the chaos if not in the middle of it.

I knew that those two youngsters would be at least a little stressed and traumatized, so I made it a point to ask them if they were OK.

Things went more or less back to normal in Santa Monica and the Westside after the so-called “riots” ended, but you know what?

 

 

Rodney King’s famous “Can’t we all get along?” speech, courtesy of YouTube.

 

 

After 25 years, I think everyone – at least every one of color, especially Blacks and Latinos – would say that nothing has changed as far as young African-American men getting profiled, targeted, and killed by the police across America.

If you don’t believe me, ask the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and the many other young men who are no longer with us.

And ask the black folks who live in places like Baltimore and Ferguson, MO, if things are better.

To be honest, particularly under the still relatively new leadership of our President-Whose-Name-I-Will-Not-Mention, I’m surprised that “riots” like what happened in L.A. in 1992 don’t happen twice or three times a year.

And the worst part of all of this?

Considering the polarizing climate in these United States, racial and otherwise, I honestly find it difficult to see any light at the end of this pick black tunnel.

At least for the foreseeable future.

As Malcolm X once said, it’s going to take God himself to solve this dilemma.

Which I wholeheartedly agree with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Way (for me) To Help Panhandlers and the Homeless

 

A feast for the less fortunate during Thanksgiving. Photo courtesy of csmonitor.com

 

 

The other day I was at a bus stop when a young man approached me and asked if I could spare him a dollar so he could get something to eat.

Being that I live in Los Angeles, CA, the homeless capital of these United States, such interactions are very commonplace as if you are out and about in L.A. on a regular basis, you can expect for the less fortunate to ask you for money.

I reckon roughly 98% of folks, out of compassion and conscience, give money to the panhandlers when asked.

While I have much compassion thanks to Jesus being my Lord and Savior, my way of helping those unfortunates are a tiny bit different.

Though I have given money to those I see living on the street, sometimes without them asking, there’s another way of helping them that I much prefer – and which I did for this particular young man…

To be brutally honest, I have never really felt comfortable giving cash to people on the street, for this reason:

 

You never know if they are going to use the cash to buy food, like they always say they are, or if they are going to use that money to buy alcohol, drugs or even cigarettes.

 

Am I saying that all panhandlers use the money given to them to get drunk, get wasted, or pollute their lungs and ours with tobacco smoke? Absolutely not!

What I’m saying is, you don’t know if they are.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t want to enable those bad behaviors, behaviors that (for booze and drugs) may well have led them to being in that less fortunate situation.

No, I am NOT saying that all homeless are there because of booze or drug problems as I’m well aware that there are many young people on the street who are runaways or (worse) throwaways, but still…

Anyhow, fear of enabling is the reason why I did this for that young man who asked me for a dollar…

 

RATHER THAN GIVE HIM MONEY, I BOUGHT HIM FOOD.

 

I took him to a CVS store across the street and bought him an ice cream bar, which of course he was quite grateful for.

That’s how I prefer to help panhandlers and the homeless as I have promised myself that whenever someone asks me for money, I always ask if they’re hungry, which I’ll expect them to answer in the affirmative.

Then I tell them, “I’ll be happy to buy you something to eat.”

That’s when I go to whatever convenience store or fast food place is nearby – I once bought someone in a wheelchair a bag of potato chips and a banana from a 7-Eleven when he asked me for some change – and buy something for them.

It cuts out the middle man and more importantly…

 

It guarantees that your money will TRULY help that person, rather than possibly feed his alcohol, narcotic, or nicotine habit.

 

Of course if you want to give panhandlers your money, by all means do so; it’s not my intention to tell anyone how to do good.

But the bottom line, at least for me, is that it’s better for me to actually buy food and drink for panhandlers and the homeless rather than give them my change and risk enabling them.

Plus it obviously helps them in the long run.

Which is all any decent person wants to do.

 

Enjoying a meal during what I’m sure was some holiday. Photo courtesy of rt.com

 

 

Jury Duty: The Modern Day Draft

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A jury duty waiting room, where so many people wish to avoid. Photo courtesy of planningnotepad.com

 

THOUGHTS ON THE OBLIGATION OF U.S. CITIZENS TO  BE AVAILABLE TO SERVE ON JURIES

 

Recently I was serving jury duty.

Meaning that I had to be available to serve on a jury if needed as I went on-line to the Los Angeles Superior Court’s website for five straight evenings to see if I had to report to court the next morning.

When the message appeared on Thursday (the final day I had to log on) that I didn’t need to report to court and that my jury duty service was completed, three words came to mind…

 

“Yippee! I’m Free!”

 

I won’t lie; like countless other folks, serving on a jury was the last thing I wanted to do as it’s such an imposition and inconvenience of my time.

Plus the fact that the summons comes unexpectedly – along with the thought that I could end up on a jury in a trial that lasts for months like O.J. Simpson’s “Trial of the Century” in 1994-95 – irritates me and causes anxiety as someone on the Autism Spectrum Disorder;  someone who Asperger’s Syndrome to be precise.

I know, I know – some will say that my attitude toward jury duty is wrong, that I need to understand that it’s an obligation that every U.S. citizen needs to fulfill and that it’s an honor to be able to possibly be one of twelve people deciding someone’s fate.

I do understand that, and if I was ordered to report to court and placed in a jury box I would have done so.

But that doesn’t mean I would’ve liked it.

 

jury_duty

I like this statement – it’s SO true! Image courtesy of pixgood.com

 

In fact, this latest jury duty venture marked the sixth time (I think) that a summons with my name on it appeared in my mail.

And (again, I must be honest) while I’ve had to report to serve four out of those six times, I’ve had the fortune to not be selected for a jury.

Though I have had close calls that I sweated and stressed over, like the previous time I went though this in 2014 when not only I was called to the downtown Los Angeles court, they sent me and roughly forty other folks to the court in East L.A. for a trial.

Luckily the judge informed us that the case was settled and that we could all go home, telling us, “We’ll see you next year,” as there’s a twelve month waiting period before one is eligible to get summoned again.

I couldn’t help thinking, “Not likely,” as I left.

Ever since I started getting summonses in earnest in 2001, like many others I figured the best way to try to get out of jury duty is to have a strong opinion about whatever issue is being featured in the courtroom.

Because the prosecution and the defense attorneys want total non-bias, when questioned in the jury selection process if you express an iron-clad conviction for one side or the other, ala “No matter what, I’m going to vote him guilty (or innocent) because I’m sick of these thugs roaming on the streets/sick of these people getting treated so unfairly and filling the jails!”…

The chances are good that the judge will say those eight words that I reckon about ninety percent of potential jurors want to hear:

 

“You are excused. Thank you for your service.”

 

As I’ve said, I know that some won’t like my views on this modern-day military draft, which is what I like to call it as until the early 1970s, men were subject to getting a letter from Uncle Sam telling them to report to their local draft boards and put on a uniform, take a weapon, and possibly go get killed somewhere in Europe (during World Wars I and II), Korea, or Vietnam – which so many guys tried to get out of via a student deferment or fleeing to Canada.

Or in the case of Muhammad Ali, simply refusing to step forward and take the induction oath as he did in 1967.

 

jury-duty

I really like this Monopoly style pic as it perfectly shows the attitude of many people towards jury duty. Image courtesy of hdimagelib.com

 

In other words, at least in my mind…

Then it was the military draft. Now – though of course no one is killed – it’s jury duty.

Which is why I feel jury duty ought to be a volunteer thing, where anyone who’s at least 18 years old and an American citizen who hasn’t been convicted of a felony can be hired (part-time, at between $10 and $15 an hour) to be on call for a jury and trained to be an impartial juror.

That would assure that the people sitting in those jury boxes are those who want to be there, and would lower the unemployment rate immensely.

I suppose you can tell from what I’ve written that I’m glad I wasn’t called to serve on anyone’s jury this particular time.

I also suppose you can tell that it’s my hope that I don’t get any more summonses for a long, long time.

However, if one does come – and I reckon it will,

I’ll cross that bridge if and when I get to it.

In the meantime, for those who dislike these views of mine regarding this obligation,

I hope that you respect the fact that I’m verbally standing up for my beliefs.

Which is a basic American right.

 

 

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The jury box – a place where many don’t want to be, but also a place that some enjoy. Photo courtesy of nbclosangeles.com

 

 

A PERSONAL GOODBYE TO 2016

new-years-eve-countdown-2017

Photo courtesy of wisheshappynewyear.com

 

And to be honest, good riddance.

To put it in a nutshell…

If you were a woman, a person of color,  gay/lesbian/transgender, or someone who didn’t consider Jesus Christ to be your personal Lord and Savior, preferring some other religion; particularly a certain monotheistic religion based in the Middle East,

Chances are 2016 wasn’t the best year for you as bigotry seemed to run amuck and a man who I’m sure some laughed at when he announced his intention to run for President of these (Dis) United States will be taking the Oath of Office on the Capitol steps in three weeks.

Not to mention all the people who left us, some far too soon, including a famous mother and daughter pair this week.

I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can’t say for certain how 2017 will unfold.

Though for those who aren’t conservative or agree with those views, it doesn’t look too good.

As for me personally, aside from what happened in this country and the world things weren’t too awful for me.

But I feel that things were, and will continue to be, precarious going forward.

Even as I plan to have my book describing my experiences with having Asperger’s Syndrome and being on the Autism Spectrum, WALKING ON EGGSHELLS, finished and self-published and commemorate a milestone birthday in the next twelve months.

All I can do is pray that things will be fine and no real tragedies or disasters happen as these fifty states are at its most divided since the Civil War.

I REALLY hope that 2017 is a good one.

Lord help us all.

 

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A winter nature scene that makes me feel better about things, and I hope it does the same for you.

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