The Morning After…

I bet the title has you humming that old tune, “There’s got to be a morning after, if we can hold on through the night. We have a chance to find the sunshine, let’s keep on looking for the light.” It kind of has that sway on me too and it will probably be stuck in my head the rest of the day, but this blog isn’t about the song, it’s about insanity.

I have to wonder if perhaps because we spend all day on Thanksgiving breaking bread with our families in a cornucopia of deliciousness, (which is really a marathon feast that eventually puts us in a coma) could that be the curse that puts us under the influence of “big sales” day, the day after Thanksgiving? Yeah, that day, the one where people trample each other the day after taking stock and giving thanks to God for our many blessings.

I gave into that madness one year. I could not resist the lure of those irresistible sales that was being etched across my brain by all those television ads. But my experience began after waking up at 3:00 in the morning which was torture in itself especially after gorging on so much food the day before. I was in a mental fog thinking to myself this is what hunters do when they go hunting for deer and here I am going hunting for deals, I must be insane! After getting dressed and heading out in the cold early morning hours, it was the frustrating traffic and impatient drivers who were already suffering road rage that started the headache.

Trying to find parking space was another headache of its own not to mention the long line of shoppers stretched from one block to another on overcrowded sidewalks. It felt like I had gone into battle. If the road rage didn’t kill you, certainly that overwhelming mob of crazy shoppers would. I was already stressed out before finding a place to park which gave me the brilliant idea of just fleeing the scene and finding my way back home. Once I was safe in my house, I went online to get tips on how to handle Black Friday and honestly thought how insane I was to even be searching for tips after witnessing the curse that drives people to buy anything, everything, before the timer runs out on those discounts which raises panic mode to a whole new level. I could see it in their eyes.

I learned my lesson that cold dreadful morning and have not even gave second thought to planning another Black Friday outing, instead if I want to shop I’ll do it on-line. No hassles nor fighting with my fellow brothers and sisters. And this year I am very thankful for much but very thankful I am not imprisoned without pardon to the lures of “the morning after.” I am thankful that from my experience came good judgement from a valuable lesson of poor judgement to begin with.

Have you ever wondered why they call the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday? I think its fitting and matches the mood of all those mad shoppers where people will kill you over a $10.00 toaster. Doesn’t it make you mad thinking that for 364 days a year you are being overcharged and the one day they bring prices down is the very day the world goes dark and brings out killer instincts? I think the first mention of Black Friday was back in 1869 when two investors drove up the price of gold then the stock market went into free-fall bankrupting everyone, but if you do the research, you will find all sorts of different meanings of this dreadful day. But no matter what the real terminology includes, it’s a day I certainly will not celebrate by going shopping, instead I’ll be home in the kitchen whipping up new recipes from the leftovers.

To ALL my fellow Americans, here’s wishing you a wonderfully blessed Thanksgiving and for those of you who are planning to brave “the morning after” may you find peace in your endeavors on this so-called fun-reserved day where you will be barricaded to keep that peace while waiting for that magical moment when the doors fling open and mayhem takes over. And may the obsession of it all bring you happiness after emptying your wallets. But most of all, may you be safe and find all the deals your hearts desire…..

The Occult Is At Your Door

I recently learned of a new children’s book called, “A Children’s Book of Demons” written by Aaron Leighton who is an award winning illustrator and art director not to mention a fan of all things occult. His latest book has sparked an outrage among the few who know about it, I for one am one of those people. Leighton’s creative concept is full of deception yet he feels it is inspiring to the young minds to create demons of their own.

Let’s talk about this book. There are 20 demons listed alphabetically throughout the pages and the author refers to them as being fun and helpful in teaching the child to invent and illustrate their own demons . These so-called fun and cute illustrations will entice children and lure them in. My concern is that a parent may also find the illustrations cute and funny without taking into consideration the impact of the words that are written inside. This is how Leighton introduces his book to his young readers:

” These pages contain an unruly bunch of spirits who are not company for the faint of heart, as they love nothing more than mayhem and mischief. However, with a few tips and a little bravery, you can turn these unholy troublemakers into potential allies who can solve your most serious problems. But before you go playing with fire, there are a few things you should probably keep in mind.”

That seems like a heavy duty warning enough to close the book and leave it on the shelf. However, the lightheartedness Leighton is trying to project despite his serious introduction, brings a serious concern to me as a parent and grandparent. First of all, as I have read some of the excerpts in these particular pages, I have come to realize that perhaps Leighton wants to lead and guide children into an occult arena. What makes me come to this conclusion? Let me explain. Look at this excerpt he has written: “Don’t want to take out the trash tonight? Maybe you’re swimming in homework? Perhaps that big bully is being a real drag? Well grab your coloured pencils and sigil drawing skills, and dial up some demons! But be careful, even if these spirits are more silly than scary, they are still demons.”

What are sigils? Sigils are pictorial images or signatures that are representations of your desires that when used in summoning demons you are dialing the demon up as if it has its own telephone number, and the sigil supposedly overpasses the mind as it is a channel to your subconsciousness, in other words to change or transform a situation and keep in mind, this is with the help of “demons”. For example, maybe your child does not want to obey you and take out the trash, so they go to their book of demons and find a sigil, they draw it on a piece of paper, loudly say the demon’s name and command it to appear and do your child’s bidding, then summon the demon to take their place of taking out the trash.

But it doesn’t stop here! After children go through this beginners introduction to demonology, they eventually learn there is another process and that process deals with charging their energy into the sigil. This process merges the sigil with powers of unconsciousness meaning they take it even deeper and get the images to flow into deeper levels though trance or meditation. Now I am not certain this process is introduced in this book, but a parent who’s child did read the book has experienced such doings. And Leighton goes on to explain to our young readers that there is always a demon on call.

It only takes a spark to get a fire burning and once a young mind has learned to summon a demon, they are not going to stop there.

Demons are not fun and silly as Leighton projects. It is an open door to satanic worship! This is dangerous to our new generation. Why would anyone want to expose their children to anything that involves the occult? It is a disastrous road and one you will certainly regret if you or your child get involved. The enemy, your enemy, Satan, comes to steal, kill and destroy and what a better place to start than with vulnerable young minds that are entirely impressionable. Join ranks with me and help me take this book off the shelf! Together, we can change our world!

Guardians Of Our Gates

The war drums reverberates through my mind as I try to put visuals to the stories I have heard from those who have served and protected the gates of our Nation and other Nations, the real Guardians, our Soldiers. Without their sacrifice our gates would have crumbled and men would not sleep peaceably because our Guardians have and still are bearing the cause. Yes, they are known as our Soldiers, but today I refer to them as our Guardians because they are our defenders, protectors and keepers of our freedoms and peace…

Valiant and strong, fearless and courageous were those who gave their all, the ultimate sacrifice in the field and on sea and they did so with pride so we could keep freedom and justice within our gates. There has always been war , something to fight about whether we agree or not and the inclination of these wars lie in the nature of us humans as we are born with selfish genes and we feel the need to compete and fight to survive. Today, we are a free Nation and all honor is due to God first and foremost then to our brave Guardians, our Champions who were devoted and we will always remember their gallantry. Those who lie in the soil of heroism , we still honor you! You are not forgotten and we thank you for your selfless service.

My dad, John R. Hardin Sr. 320th Airborne Field Artillery

The above photo is my dad and I am honored to tell you he loved God, family and his country with all he had. My father became qualified through Basic Combat Training to move forward into a more advanced Individual Training and U.S. Army Airborne School in order to become eligible for Special Forces Training, the Green Berets. My dad told me of the mental and physical duress he had to undergo during his time of training and today these guys refer to themselves as “the quiet professionals.”

He also told me many stories about being dropped from a perfectly good plane in the sky and I will share a couple of these stories. He was in San Angelo Texas with orders to jump. The wind was up to around 28 mph so the General called the Colonel, Colonel Lowry and asked him to abort the jump missions that day. In my father’s words; ” we were all staying in old warehouses and the wind was so strong it nearly blew the doors off the hinges. It literally became dangerous and we could not sleep for all the loud banging from the doors. The next morning we were sent up in a C47. We dropped our equipment first, but it was getting damaged because of the high winds. then we began our jumps.” I saw tears well up in his eyes as he continued; ” One of the guys jumped and he hit the ground so hard it shoved his rifle through his arm pit and killed him. When I hit the ground, the wind caught my chute and there was a pocket of air trying to lift my chute dragging me across the field over 100 yards. I remember some of the soldiers running to my aid, they grabbed the chute to stop the air flow from dragging me further.” Dad said it took 45 seconds from plane to ground and you had to know how to hit the ground and roll and that day his chute did not lose air.

I asked my dad what happened to Colonel Lowry who clearly disobeyed the General’s orders. He told me that Colonel Lowry never showed up at Ft. Benning Georgia where my dad was stationed because of threats the Colonel was receiving. In fact, he believed Col. Lowry either resigned or was demoted.

Another story, one that ultimately ended my dad’s training for the Green Beret and also his career in the Army completely. They were dropped in the Southeastern corner of Georgia in the Okefenokee Swamp (which is often referred to as “the trembling earth”) from a perfectly good plane in the sky with nothing but a large knife (unsure of the kind) and a few field rations (food packets). Their training mission was to endure the cold temperatures and the wildlife which consisted of bears, gators, water moccasins which in that area are very large and venomous. But when my dad jumped from the plane his landing wasn’t what he had prepared for. He landed on a big embankment and lost footing and fell backwards into dangerous, stubby terrain. Needless to say, he had to be airlifted from that area and into the hospital. For nine months he stayed under the care of highly qualified physicians during his stay in the hospital and my mother would drive my siblings, my older brother, sister and middle brother (my younger brother and myself were not yet born) to go see him and could only see him from outside the building. My father had developed serious kidney issues that made him deathly ill and no one could come visit him in person so my mother and siblings visited him weekly from outside in the parking area while my dad was placed by the window so he could wave at them.

Again, he told me with tears in his eyes that was the loneliest time in his life and it killed him to have to see his wife and children standing below waving to him above. It took a long time to recover his internal injuries thus causing him to receive an honorable discharge from the United States Army. These are just a couple of many stories my dad told me. I have also witnessed other military guys from long ago who sat with my dad and cry while telling stories they lived to tell about while fighting for our Country. I was very young when I heard some horrific details that have never left my mind that I still cry about to this day. Unless you listen to their stories, you have no idea the pain and suffering our men and women have endured while fighting for the cause. I have several members in my family today serving, being the Guardians for our gates. Many of you do as well. As we honor the fallen always, we also honor the active as they also are champions of the cause. Our Veterans who are living need to be appreciated as this is a day set aside to honor them. ALL our Veterans living and dead, we thank you and are profoundly grateful for your service and have much respect for the oath you took to go the distance. We live in Freedom and it is because of you serving our country and because of this freedom, I am free to express my gratitude and I am privileged that I can vote. Thank you, Veterans, our Guardians of our gates…

Diamond Without Glory

I found myself caught up in a maze of chaos with no way out struggling to find hints to an exit that seemed not to exist. I had stepped out in faith but lost my footing and the nightmare began.

My sister had called me and explained that the pastor’s wife she previously invited to speak at the women’s conference had to cancel due to illness then in her sweet “pretty please” voice asked me to come speak in her place. There was a long pause on my end as I began to think, maybe even breathe and it seemed like an eternity before either of us spoke. You see, I suffer acute stage fright or performance anxiety whatever you choose to call it, it’s my phobia, an impairment I’ve always had. I’ve had many stage moments in my life whether it be speaking or performing and my very first stage experience started as a little girl singing with my family. You would think by now it would be child’s play to walk across the stage with confidence and do what I was there to do but not in my case.

Fear has always been a huge factor in my life and because of this fear I went to lengths to avoid any possibility of “being on stage.” I was a wonderful “comfort zone” dweller and preferred staying in that arena but many times throughout my life, I secretly battled this anxiety and took the stage to make others happy not realizing the many opportunities I traded for the zone of comfort but because it was my sister, her persuasion would not take much effort.

After accepting this speaking engagement, I immediately went to war with my fears which hindered my concentration of finding a suitable topic to speak on. I was only given two days notice. How scary is that? So I locked myself in my bedroom with my bible, soft music and a tall glass of iced cold sweet tea and of course, my good ole notepad and pen. For many hours I struggled trying to find a possible way out of this commitment more so than a topic to speak on. The anxiety became so horrendous that I got on the floor and lay prostrate in all my humility with tears raining down my face. I prayed with everything I had begging God to come to my disoriented world and fix everything.

Well, to my dismay, there was no thundering down voices from above or earth-shattering miracles like the red sea parting kind that I was expecting. I was searching for peace, struggling through my own chaos and suddenly I heard the lyrics to a song playing in the background and as I listened closely a rendering began to take place in my mind. ” As soon as I stop worrying, worrying how the story ends, I let go and I let God have his way. That’s when things start happening, I’ll stop looking at back then I let go and I’ll let God have his way.” That very rendering saved the day as I took a deep breath and exhaled my worries into the atmosphere and God took it from there and I was up and with pen in hand I began to put into writing the topic I would be speaking on.

The time had come and my name was announced, I felt those familiar nerves striking up but I heard those words in my mind, ” as soon as I stop worrying, I let go and let God have his way,” and I felt sweet peace walking to the podium with me. I set my notes on the stand, stepped back and looked out into the audience and for the first time ever being on a stage I felt calm and relaxed. I was able to get through my speech and needless to say it was a productive speech with lots of laughs and a few tears too.

After I stepped down and joined the other ladies, my brother-n-law walked up to me and handed me a note. When I sat down, I looked at the note and tears filled my eyes as I read the words; “Diamonds are formed under pressure, in the dark, over long periods of time.” I did not feel like a diamond at all. I never had! I have walked across big stages since that event, but every time I do the words from that song infiltrate my mind and I remember that God is my source of peace so I give my worries to him, but I still don’t feel like diamond material as I lack the final touches that would make me stand out.

This is the note my brother-n-law gave to me

I’ve always had a coal mentality and felt like the “rough” while hiding away unpolished and unqualified. I never felt like I was good enough and always took a back seat to others in my life to let them shine. It was where I felt most comfortable and still am to this day. I keep the note (in the above photo) in my Bible where it has been since the day it was given to me. Little does the giver know that it is that very note that gets me through my fears and gives me a boost when I feel I’m just not in the same league. I read it every time I performed during my piano competitions, or performing anywhere. Even though I’m still in the rough, embedded within me and within each of you are diamond-like qualities ready to be mined but we have to be willing to take the cutting, the polishing and all the pressures that come to bringing out the diamond within.

I am that diamond. Oh I may not look like it, I certainly don’t sparkle nor is there any clarity but I am multifaceted without glory. If there were any glory to be found in anything I do, it would belong to God not me. God is the master jeweler the highly skilled artisan chipping away all those rough edges bit by bit. Malachi 3:17 tells us that God declares, “And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels.” God sees the beauty buried deep within us and while we may only see insignificant, worthless faces staring back at us in the mirror, God will ALWAYS see you as His precious, extraordinary creation.

Words Will Cost You

Some realize, others do not and either way our words have so much colossal power that it can literally change the outcome of any situation be it good or bad. For so many years I was one who did not realize the cost of words and there is so much value lost because of my ignorance. Our words have impact and it pays to think before we speak.

Recently, my ex boyfriend (even though this sounds so teenager-ish, boyfriend is the only word that comes to mind at this moment), and I had words. In fact, it was those very words that ended us permanently. The damage was so profound it literally severed nine years of our relationship. Those ugly, negative words being spewed across the line impacted me to the point I stopped writing. I’m one who through many years of trying to get it right has learned that it’s true, words do not change our reality but they do change how we perceive reality. One single word can determine whether or not you will like someone, that’s heavy duty power in my opinion and because of a statement he made to me pertaining to my writings and that I only write for attention blew my perception of myself straight out of the water. In reality, it was a bad view of myself and I knew I had to quickly regain consciousness so-to-speak and bring myself back to the truth of who and what I am and not what he had created in his mind I was.

His perception of me ultimately shaped my world simply due to my emotional response to his “words” that he chose to create havoc whether or not he was conscious of his choice of words. I know that I do not write to get attention. I write because it’s a passion and I love writing, but I allowed my emotions to go to war with his attitude resulting in an end to our story. They say it’s true that you never truly appreciate something until it’s gone, but I have to say, that I’m very appreciative that he is gone! I feel like a bird who has been released from it’s cage. For years I felt imprisoned in this relationship and took a lot of verbal and emotional abuse but this is where I learned about the power of words. So, in a way, I am thankful for the teacher who taught me that our choice of words have massive weight, height and width and now I pay very close attention to what I think being careful to only allow good words to exit my lips.

I now look at what is in my mouth because words carry creative powers and it’s true that what we speak out of our mouths today, we will live in its reality tomorrow. It’s a biblical principal that we should pay attention to. Proverbs 15:4 says, “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 12:14 NLT, “Wise words brings many benefits.” Proverbs 12:18 NIV, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” There are so many verses that direct our attention to what we should and should not say and I love Proverbs 15:1 NASB, ” A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” I have a journal where I write these verses down and I do use different translations from time to time, but every day I fill my mind with these words and I have to renew my thoughts every single day. Changing the way we use our words is not a one time process. It’s an every day choice we need to consciously make.

Words will cost you if you’re not careful. Our tongue is a very small thing but sometimes it is a flame of fire and one tiny word or spark can set a great forest on fire. Our tongue is a whole world of wickedness but it can be a whole world of blessing. You can find this fact in James chapter 3. Our words determine our world and if your life is out of control, check your language. When you take control of what you say and your choice of words that roll off your tongue, then you take back control of your life. Our words will either acquit us or condemn us. Send negativity back to hell and change your life. Let your words uplift, encourage and always speak good things because if you don’t, the energy around you will be seen by all and your negative vibes will cost you your peace and happiness and your joy will not be found.