Overcoming Fear: Especially when health is involved

This morning I questioned if I felt well enough to go on my morning bike ride.  I did fine taking it easy pedaling yesterday morning but it would be within 48 hours of uncomfortable chest tightness and  severe headache that put me to bed early Friday night and I just felt fatigued.  But I also knew that this feeling needed to be faced head on in order to be silenced otherwise I may cave into unnecessary rest from self-pity.  There’s no fever, there never was.  It’s best to just try.

I took it easy.  Before I realized I felt just fine and made my usual loop.  In fact, I decided to press forward to a less shaded area.  I’m so glad I did.  Otherwise, I would have missed this treasure.


In the field of uncut grass a natural butterfly habitat enjoyed full activity.  I stopped to observe,  listen, and snap a few photos.  What joy filled my being as the sun beat from above.  The heat did not phase me because a  greater happiness and peace surpassed it.  But, I did need to safely bike home so I remounted and pedaled back past this:


Nice cliche, but actually spot on.  Then why are so many church going people hiding in fear?  Why are there so many Bible Studies and accompanying books on anxiety flying off the shelves?  Could it be that fear is a great motivator and money maker?

I remember hearing men talk at church in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s about how good journalism was dying, publishing houses were being dissolved, and marketing with corporate management were taking over as the new world order in churches and non-denominational organizations.

Then in the mid 1990’s-early 2000 I landed a job in the pharmaceutical industry where I was taught to use fear of malpractice as a tool to convince doctors to write products that I represented.

But as I listened to the many medical meetings that I attended from the most humble to the grandest in San Francisco’s Convention Center I also heard that fear also mimics many a symptom or exacerbates a real condition to be worse than it is.  To add to this I also heard about the prevalence of misdiagnosis complicated this further.  Oh like that’s not a factor right now with this COVID-19 crisis???

Also there are  variables like  placebo effect.  It’s well documented in asthma, depression, irritable bowl syndrome, pain, and sleep disorders all are known to have placebo effect.  How is affecting COVID-19 patients?  Especially when they are quarantined or treated with healthcare providers in stealth protective clothing.  There are so many variables in why patients heal, stagnate, or worsen in their said conditions.  So much so that a field of psychoneuroimmunology has emerged to study how the effect of one’s state of mind affects one’s health.

Balance is the key I believe.  That’s why I wrote about it in my book

Rojo, The Baby Red Panda At The Zoo

ROjo1 Rojo2

Then there is a time and place for:

Fear, Emergency, Panic, and the Aftermath

So in closing, I encourage you to face your fears and underlying health issues.  What is it that you really may be making worse by giving into self-pity and fear when you might be able to overcome and get stronger?  Only you can ultimately figure this out based on what you have learned over the years about your body, family history, your faith, and what doctors and their myriad of tests have told you.  But don’t let the latter be the only mandate.  The best doctors listen to the patient in addition to performing a thorough physical exam (no telehealth folks).  They know that what the patient feels, their history, and intuition has a lot to do with a good diagnosis.  It’s not just what the cold inhuman computerized tests say.  After all there are false positives and false negatives.

#Overcoming fear #Health #COVID-19fears





Uncertainty Has Always Been the Reality

I opened my email this morning to find an article from Child Mind Institute that address how to manage you and your child’s anxieties while reopening.

Managing Anxiety During Reopening

“Uncertainty is really uncomfortable,” says Dr. Busman. “Uncertainty and this situation are not good friends, but they’re forced to cohabitate.” The impulse to try to force things to be more certain is strong but, she says, in the end it’s a waste of energy. “It’s very exhausting and ultimately, you’re not going win.”

Why is uncertainty uncomfortable?  There have never been any guarantees.   But marketing in the 20th and 21st Centuries have subliminally taught otherwise.  Likewise schools promise that if you do this and that you will secure a good job and become a success.  See your healthcare provider regularly to secure good health and fix your ailments.  Then many a motivational preacher positions Jesus as a comforting magician.  They dole Him out like a box of chocolates or flowers while empowering you to be the god of your own life able to control and manage all that comes your way.

The root of the majority of our anxieties is false teaching, control mongering role models, and misplaced faith.  All three can be teased out to show how modern humans expend the bulk of their energies trying to control the future which has never been able to be tamed.

I am forever grateful to a principle Harriet Lerner wrote about in her book, The Dance of Connection.   Instead of trying to control the outcome of any situation mentally prepare that it may or may not happen.  It’s quite empowering to view yourself as being able to survive and possibly thrive if something does or doesn’t happen.  This was a key principle in helping to unlock the prison of expectations for perfect that enslaved my emotions and bogged me down in years of depression.  It freed me to embrace scriptural principles of faith that I had been taught to utter with my lips, but to live completely apart from.

Another helpful read You are What You Think by David Stoop, Ph.D. is one of the most highlighted, stared, and underlined book of mine that reiterates how powerful our expectations are. This is why marketing experts play them in each advertisement and sales pitch.  In essence, it’s what churns the modern American Economy.   But, it also could be what has led all of our souls astray to wander about aimlessly in a wild unsafe world.

At one point in my life I felt the need to travel away from a culture that is so obsessed with safety.  I began to feel suffocated in the northeast coast of the United States.  There was something refreshing about romping around in Latin America where there were no guarantees and lawyers waiting to be hired to sue anyone who may have failed you.  But it was also incredibly dangerous.  Rumors circulated about a couple on their honeymoon who were kidnapped while hiking a popular volcano. It is a fine line of balance that must be achieved of safety and risk.  That’s why I included it in

Rojo, The Baby Red Panda At The Zoo


Then trauma adds another level of complexity.  Circling back to the article I started discussing, Dr. Bushman also points out, “There’s a myth that because everybody is having a hard time your stress doesn’t count.”  I wrote about this earlier in April about how we each need to take turns in listening to the various grievances we bear in order to navigating through these turbulent COVID-19 waters.

I have concluded that the 20th Century has produced  insanity as normal, converted humans to machines, switched good for evil and evil for good because the world was traumatized by World War I with the Spanish Flu of 1918, followed by the Great Depression and World War II.  When “everyone” is having a tough time, there’s a tendency to ignore, deny, and cover it up.   It’s overwhelming to go back to find resolution, closure, and heal the wounds.  Besides, that’s painful, difficult, and sometimes ugly.  The war is over it’s time to eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.

Consider the underlying philosophy in this attitude.  It justifies hedonism because humans are just matter that cycles in an out.  There’s no loving Creator who’s worthy to consult for wisdom or to bow to in adoration.  It’s all an accident that just miraculously pulled together over billions of years.  Or is it?

I would like to propose that this COVID-19 situation is an opportunity to get your values and beliefs straightened out.  But first you may have to find the courage to face your own pain that probably is generations deep,  work through each personal grievance, and make many lifestyle changes.  That’s all very overwhelming.  There is one who wants to make that possible.  But you must search for Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and value the truth like a hidden treasure of which few know where to find.

If I may suggest going back to the very beginning.  I have found Torahclass.comlight for dark times,  and  unholycharade.com to be useful in my personal search.  May they be of help to you too.

#Uncertaintimes #COVID-19 #Stress #Anxiety

Let’s Talk Turtle: Don’t stick you neck out

*Well technically it is a tortoise who inspired this blog, but since all tortoise’s classify as turtles and they are the critters where the expressions about “sticking out your neck” come from let’s talk turtle during this panicdemic of COVID-19.

I first encountered “Ms. Boxy,” who is probably an eastern box turtle on my morning bike ride on April 25, 2020.   She slowly sauntered her way over the painted line. Ms. boxy1

Since she was heading towards the woods, I bid her farewell and continued to ride.  I looked for her on my way back, but she was no where to be found.  I assumed she was safely in camouflaged habitat.

Well yesterday as I pedaled down the road, I saw that mass on the road that usually indicates road kill to dodge, but as I approached closer I saw it was still moving.  Arriving exactly to the spot I noticed it was Ms. Boxy!  She was in the street AGAIN?  What a foolish turtle.

I immediately stopped as there was not way she would make it to the other side of the road safely without getting hit again.  I hustled over to pick her up while making sure I didn’t add myself to the list of road kill.  I found open an open area far enough from the road to place her back down.


I noticed that she kept her head inside.  She even started to walk without pushing her head out to see where she was going!  It was like watching a drunk person try to walk the straight line.  Since it was obvious she was going to just walk in circles and possibly back into the street, I picked her up again and found a shaded area at the front of woods.  I made note of where I left her and committed to check her well being upon my ride back.

When I returned she had moved approximately 6 inches and was accompanied by a variety of insects who swarmed her blood soaked head.  It appeared that her demise was imminent, but we could only try to nurse her back to health.

I came back with my daughter and a box.  Having cared for a male eastern box turtle in my classroom 12+ years ago under the guidance of the local county nature center, I figured we could provide some assistance.  What transpired was several hours of watching life fight.

It was amazing to see the blood clot, her appearances improve, and to observe her feisty insistence to be let free.    We gave her what she wanted, but just a lot further from the road her freedom not too far from where I found her.

Ms. Boxy reminds me of a lot of people’s mind sets during this “panicdemic” of COVID-19.  Just pull your head in to your comfortable secure shell and don’t look for any inconsistencies, inaccuracies, or ask any thoughtful questions.  Just do as your told, collect your paycheck, eat, drink, and be merry.

This certainly is each person’s prerogative to choose.  But keep in mind that in such attitude you might resemble a drunk person trying to walk the straight line.  You may also fail to secure the truth needed to proceed in the best interest for you and your loved ones.  Inherent in life is risk.  There have never been guarantees except the horrible ramifications of tyranny, taxes, and death.

Jesus said it best in Matthew 16:24-27.  Whoever clings to his/her life in self preservation will ultimately lose it.  Whoever is willing to risk his/her life in order to seek, follow, and defend truth will actually gain it.  Which will you choose?

#Truth #Fear #Risk #COVID19 #Panicdemic


Manners May Be Key to Getting Through Crisis

Something moved in me last evening to pick up Pass the Peas, Please; A Book of Manners by Dina Anastasio.  The cute illustrations by Katy Keck Arnsteen brought the fun rhyming poetical style of Anastasio’s version of manners to ease the tension that I had been fighting in my mind all day.  Well written children’s illustrated books have a way of doing that for adults.  While I no longer have a young child to read to, I have learned that the hurting child inside of me may need to be read to.


A recent event trigger painful personal hurts with my family of origin and experiences with the church.   Steady and deep emotional trauma shot through my mind wearied from 36 days of social isolation due to COVID-19 and impending severe weather that had been repeatedly interrupting my day with forecast predictions.  My reaction to a zoom meeting was steeped in irrational emotion that refused to be reasoned with.

Strong feelings so often extend beyond the realm of logic.  While the feelings in and of themselves are neutral, how we respond to them often tips the scales in a direction to make matters worse.  Because of this many have advocated that emotions must be ignored, denied, and run over by cold calloused facts/truth.  However, this teaching has led to many an unexplained illness, migraine, inability to receive consolation, anxious depression, and irreparable relationships.  It has also led to the age of self-help and perpetual personal counseling.

This age has helped to verbalize and validate pain for many.  I believe this very instrumental to overcome the pain in order to convert it into a platform for positive growth.  But unfortunately, how the wounded articulate their pain and ask for help often creates a vortex of greater relationship damage and self-fulfilled prophesy of victimization that is entitled to everyone else’s sympathies.

To make matters worse, some know that the emotionally wounded individuals are easy to recruit to enlist in activist this or that.  It creates a passion that propels a cause.  Some would also argue that this is what has corrupted many an organization.  It certainly has ruined many a budget as people vouch to give beyond what the coffers hold.  Wounded people are easier to manipulate through false hope and empty promises.  Marketing experts love to capitalize on this.

Currently the world faces the fears, uncertainties, and problems associated with COVID-19.   Ana Maria Rodriguez, Florida State Representative District 10 posted on her Face Book page an thoughtful elaboration that we are NOT all in the same boat.  We are in the same storm, but each in very different boats.  Good clear articulation helps a lot.  It circles back to the helpfulness of naming a problem that I expressed earlier through verbalization.

Assembly line skills and duties are helpful in producing the same product in mass quantity.  This is useful for industrialization but disastrous to apply to human needs, their emotions and relationships.  Consider how one size fits all clothing generally turns out.  It is usually not very attractive.  General clothing sizes offer a better solution.  Of course there are limits here too, but when dealing with mass scale worldwide trauma we have got to classify to be able to bring some order and solution.

I am not claiming to have the ultimate solution to the myriad of problems stemming from COVID-19 or any other crisis.  But I am advocating that returning to respect and manners would be the best way to find it.  In fact, I believe this is the key to healing the division in our land.

What if each of us refrained from jumping to conclusions and judging whether someone’s situation merits listening to?  What if we each acknowledged, validated, and took turns listening?  Obviously some losses will be greater than others, but each loss counts to the individual it affected. Validate whatever the loss or grief is even if it seems trivial to you.  Saying, “I’m sorry you feel that way” is one of the most counterproductive responses.  Please never say that.  It stabs an emotional knife into the person.   Also staying silent hurts too.  That communicates indifference.   Rather validate and encourage instead.  To hear affirmation of one’s pain with an encouraging word can make the burden lighter with a sense of hope.  Ask yourself, is my reply going to inspire hope or guilt and despair?

Based on what I learned from a boating accident my daughter and I were involved in each are really going to process the consequences of isolation, social distancing, cancelling of events etc. differently.  Click this story for more.

Fear, Emergency, Panic, and the Aftermath

In closing,  kindly respect and  take turns with self and others regarding the various griefs, losses, hassles, and aggravations that inevitably will surface during this time.  And perhaps a good children’s books on manners may help like it did me.  Here are a few other favorites by Munro Leaf.


And then of course there is

Rojo, The Baby Red Panda At The Zoo

by Hope Mucklow. #COVID-19 #Recovery #Trauma #Selfhelp




Turn to the Wildflowers to Lessen Your Anxiety


Wildflowers have captured my interest, respect, and awe for sometime.  But after a recent visit to The National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site Alabama this admiration flourished further.


1942 was a time of uncertainty too.  War shortages threatened the norm of living.  George Washington Carver responded by publishing articles and bulletins.  He starts Nature’s Gardens for Victory and Peace with the inspiring poem by Martha Martin called


The Weeds’ Philosophy and Genesis 1:29.   His point was that many wildflowers otherwise known as weeds are good to eat.

According to the Bible, the flowers of the field can also teach us much about our own lives.  For the purpose of this blog, I will focus on resisting anxiety.

So many are ridden with worries of how COVID-19 is going to impact them.  Will they survive it if they get it? Will their loved ones? Will they still have work?  What is going to happen to the economy?  These are valid concerns of which I believe merit processing.  For my own family’s sake,  I was inspired to turn to the wildflowers.

yellowthistle basil pretty1 wisteria2

Reflecting further, I decide to ditch the usual homeschool curriculum in order to design a special field trip for my daughter.  As with most instruction, the teacher learns the most.  In this Flowers of the Field lesson (photographed at the end of this blog) I challenge the learner to use two forms of art, photography and drawing to refine their observations skills.  Both fall short of seeing the real flower.

Technology has so many wonderful opportunities, but with all advancements it has its limits too.  For the largest, it seduces us into trading virtual for the real experience.  But I’m going to focus on some of the more subtle short comings. It keeps us indoors.

On a related note, Richard Hobday included some interesting observations in his blog Coronavirus and the Sun: A Lesson from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.  Patients who were placed outdoors in the sun fared better.  What he says has been echoed from Dr. Ryan McWhorter at Alabama Functional Medicine who recommends getting outdoors for a least an hour each day.  I  think of how healthcare workers have no exposure to fresh air much less natural sunlight in their hazmat suits, high rise hospitals, and long stressful hours of work.  How much of this contributes to their risk of infection?

Back to the wildflowers. This lesson I wrote for my daughter helps you to experience the real deal and it also gets you outside.   But what I’ve found is that more than school age students have much to gain from it.  Anyone who is struggling with anxiety and concerns about the future will benefit.   So whether you are homeschooling during this time or not, check it out.  Go for a walk, observe, ponder, and most importantly, rest in the LORD Jesus.


Click Flowers of the Field to download a Windows version of this to print and use with permission in any setting by the author, Hope Mucklow.  And click The Weeds’ Philosophy to reflect on the wonderful and wise poem. #Anxiety #CopingwithCOVID-19 #OvercomeGAD





Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Click St. Patrick’s Day 2015 to download a blank copy of the following to color.


You don’t have to be Irish to enjoy celebrating what St. Patrick accomplished.  He wasn’t Irish either.   Find a great role model and inspiration in who St. Patrick was Romano British, not Irish.

He was kidnapped by Irish Pirates from his noble home in Brittan when he was a teenager and forced into Irish slavery.  He didn’t go by the name Patrick until he trained to be a Catholic Bishop many years later in France.  He returned to Ireland to share God’s love and knowledge with the Irish…the people who at one time kidnapped him. He most likely used the clover to explain God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three distinct roles in the same one God.

Have fun, but don’t get caught up in the distortions and myths about four leaf clovers and finding gold at the end of the rainbow.  Gifts from the Giver, The God of whom St. Patrick spoke, often are turned into useless idols and symbols that mislead.  Pray for the Holy Spirit of which St. Patrick taught to discern what is true, noble, right, worthy to believe and to follow.

The Folly of “Don’t Be a Prude”

Recently I was asked what picture comes to mind when I think of patriotism.  The image that came to me was Lady Justice.  We saw a beautiful Greek marble sculpture of her at Jasmine Hill Gardens in Wetumpka, Alabama of which I later regretted not buying since it was sold when we went back.

This prompted me to look up images on the Internet which led to some fascinating learning.  Lady Justice is often accompanied by Prudencia .  Who’s Prudencia?  That’s what I asked.  I was delighted as to what I learned.  But first, allow me to explore why we are so ignorant of Prudencia.  It comes from the word prudence.  A virtue that has been mocked as of recent era.  Think about it.  How often do you hear, “Oh, don’t be a prude!”

This slogan is popular during times of entertainment and lighthearted desires that are more concerned with an immediate personal high usually at the cost of another’s misfortune of some sort.  This motto takes its victim’s down the slippery slope of poor judgement.  Take a look at the results summarized in this chart that it will ultimately yield.

Prudence Lacks

I created the visual above inspired from a summary Wikipedia’s overview on prudence.  The results are tragic.  So why do so many propagate this saying?  I believe it stems from the power of peer pressure.

When studied prudence and wisdom are synonyms.   They are more or less interchangeable in meaning.  But over time that they’ve been separated.  Otherwise who would listen to “Don’t be wise?”  Doesn’t in mean the same thing as “Don’t be a prude?”

Prudence is known as the auriga virtutum the power behind all of the virtues.  Why wouldn’t we want to be associated with that?  Is evil that popular?  According to the book of Proverbs, it is especially common with the youth otherwise known as pre-teen, teen, and young adult of today’s standards and the wicked.

So if you would take time and consider, what would be better for you, your family, your community,  your country, and ultimately the world?

Prudence With

Honestly assess what power is ultimately needed to pursue such virtue.  Then click on this link to hear a fantastic song by Michael Card that summarizes it well:The Way of Wisdom.

For further reading:




Setting Boundaries: Lessons from Nature

Last Saturday, we drove over to Jasmine Hill Gardens for “Attracting Backyard Wildlife” by Mercedes Bartkovich, Nongame Wildlife Biologist.

Ms. Mercedes led the attendees through constructing wooden bird houses and suet after she delivered a well researched talk.



She shared fantastic information to consider in her talk.  One was the statistic that 2.4 million birds are killed annually by cats.   Her solution?  “If you’re going to have cats outside place feeders up high where cats cannot get on top and near bushes so there is escape and cover nearby.”  Hmm that sounds like establishing more realistic boundaries than the popular advice to keep cats inside.

I love cats.  I grew up with one really special one.  I think the photos



explain why.  She was beautiful, cute, and fun.  Three character traits that can seduce and need to be guarded against.  Because she also was the neighbor hood terror to birds, mice, and chipmunks.

Let me clarify.  She didn’t seduce her prey, but she did seduce us into allowing her to do whatever she wanted which led to a never ending battle with fleas and tape worms.   It was the late 1970’s.  Back then the veterinarian advised she be given to a farm since we just couldn’t keep her inside and he didn’t want to keep injecting her with the poisons to eliminate the unwanted pests.  It was a heart break.  Did we really have to part with our beloved family pet?

Saying goodbye to certain toxic relationships is one of the hottest topic to talk, write, and blog about these days.  Is completely getting rid of certain relationships the answer? My cat brought much pleasure into our lives.  To give her away hurt us almost as much as her fleas and tape worms.  Aren’t many of our personal relationships similar to my family’s with our cat?  Limits, boundaries, and consequences I believe are the answer.  Unfortunately, like many of you, I’ve had to learn the hard way.

Post-modern western culture seduces so easily by beauty and cute. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting…”   Proverbs 31:30 warns.  Yet the visual, fast pace, click a button culture continues to be blinded by visual looks.  We’re also humored too much by charm and cute behaviors.

Matthew chapter 7 has become one of my “go to” passages to remind myself of what Jesus admonished.  It’s ironic that the whole point of the teaching is to evaluate other’s behavior in order to be shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves , but that the start of the chapter becomes the hallmark passage of tolerance and do not judge.   Indeed one needs to have good boundaries regarding how scriptures are taught as well.   (I recommend Untwisting Scriptures for more on this.)

Back to the dangers of “cute.”  Too many parents, relatives, and friends laugh at children’s attention seeking behaviors when the children really need to be disciplined.  I highly recommend addition reading further below on this topic.

Many in dating relationships wind up in hurtful relationships because good looking dates and funny cute behavior were never limited to start out with.   Sometime it happens in friendship and business.  The point is, we all need to develop good emotional boundaries in order to respect self and others.

Further reading: Surprising reasons why we need to discipline children.

#Boundaries #Healing #Relationships #Disciplinechildren













The Danger of “Cute” and “Beautiful”

I had been reading and writing to no avail for 4+ hours.  It was time to walk away,  get my daughter off her electronics, and get some fresh air outside with the dogs.  I didn’t get far when I noticed cedar Waxwing II Dead Cedar Waxwing I

Wow, it’s a gorgeous bird I knew nothing about.  After I respectfully buried it, I came inside and consulted my bird book to no easy match.  I then turned to a Face Book Group called Birding Alabama. In minutes the members of the group informed me that it was a Cedar Waxwing.  Not only that,  but one woman surmised that it died from eating from a Nandina Berry Bush otherwise known as Sacred Bamboo.  I immediately thought of a bush in my back yard.  I took this picture and asked if this was it.Nandina Berry Bush

Low and behold it is.  It took some time for me to realize along with more comments from the group  like this article from Audubon Society that if I care about these birds I need to get rid of these gorgeous berries and lovely little bush.  But they are so beautiful!

According to this article, “The U.S. Department of Agriculture and most states classify Nandina domestica as a noxious, non-native, invasive weed from China and Japan. It has naturalized and invaded our national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, city parks, and other habitats throughout the U.S. …In addition to bird deaths in Georgia, bird deaths have been reported in Houston and other parts of the country. Hydrogen cyanide is a painful and unnecessary way for birds to die. Nandina is also toxic to dogs, cats, and many other animals.”

“Non-native”  hmmm that’s an inflammatory adjective.  It is this term I know turn my writing.

As a former public school science teacher I’ve taken myself on numerous professional development opportunities as well as my classes on field trips to remove some of these non-native plants.  But the key to fully understanding which plants need to be removed are several other key adjectives included in the description of this Heavenly Bamboo.  “Noxious and invasive” are key descriptors.

“Noxious” in human relation terms is lack of respect for that which was there to begin with. “Invasive” means that it is “I”, “me”, “my kind”, “my way or the highway.”  This is so important in both the natural world and human.  Why? Well, first of all the truly native plants in each part of the world aren’t sufficient to feed us.  Yup, most of the fruits and vegetables that you eat everyday didn’t originate in the country you live in.  They came from another part of the world.  For example, consider this figure from ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

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In other words, non-natives and immigration are necessary for the survival of people.  The issue is what other characteristics describe these non-natives?  Are they respectful?  Do they politely integrate and get along?  Or are they there to rape, pillage, kill, and conquer? Do not judge on outward appearance of “cute” or “pretty.”  One must consider all of its characteristic properties.

Two points.  First, consider for nature and for self.  Not all non-native plants, animals, and insects are problematic for the natural environment they have come to.  There may be enough “checks and balances” or “predator/prey” for a healthy balance for the original community.  But is all that was naturally present good and worthy to keep?

This is one of the most confusing parts of the Pentateuch or first five books of the Bible.  Why did God command the Israelites to exterminate the Canaanites, yet allowed the king and the people of Nineveh live in the book of Jonah?

Full Text (in English) of the Book of Jonah

Could it be that some are so vile, noxious, and invasive that they need to be denied, uprooted, and sent away?  Do they need to stay among themselves?

We truly miss out though if we close the doors to other cultures.  What are they getting better than we?  What resources, supplies, and knowledge do they have that might be shared without hurting any?  So it goes back to concept of balance which requires discernment and maturity.  Of which I wrote of in Rojo, The Baby Red Panda at the Zoo.

balance 1balance 2

In closing,  let us strive to grow in wisdom and maturity.   Let us be accountable.  Appropriate checks and balances are needed for all. May we study and learn diligently, otherwise “non-native,” a completely neutral descriptive adjective is not understood and  not handled properly.  It needs more description.  Is it respectful? Beneficial to the common or just one or two greedy individuals?

by Hope Mucklow




Bad Attitudes and Beliefs: Lessons from Small Foot

My daughter and I came across Small Foot at Red Box last year.  We rented it, fell in love with it, and purchased a copy to add to our home library.  I’m thrilled to see places like Lakemont Park show it this past summer and most recently Coral Reef Park in Palmetto Bay, Florida. Why?

Small foot

This story,  masterfully written by Mark Mason Robledo, provides fodder for so many issues that are impacting our society today.  Those topics include social media, news, leadership, friendship, and family with the overriding theme that bad attitudes and beliefs prevent us from growing, getting along, and finding satisfaction in our innate calling.

First, we meet a group of Yeti friends.  Some who are questioning their personal worth and others who are questioning what they have been taught to believe.

Then we are transported to the world of humans and meet another pair of friends. Percy and Brenda.  Percy feels so desperate in his attempts to make an impact through social media that he stoops to creating a sensational lie.  Ironically, he learns that yeti’s do exist.  In the process, Percy undergoes personal transformation from a fame seeking individual to a martyr to protect others.

Returning to the Yeti’s we encounter two fathers.  One, the leader,  the Stonekeeper,  who perpetuates cultural lies and the other who is a humble production of these lies.  The Stonekeeper does not maliciously enforce the wrong belief about the truth.  He believes it is the only way to protect his people. This revelation persuades Migo to join along in the propaganda.  But it doesn’t stop the Stonekeeper’s precious daughter, Meechee.  She is resolved to discover the truth and feels betrayed by Migo who chooses to align with her father’s deceitful leadership.

How often do leaders take advantage of  false beliefs to secure and maintain order?  I propose that is one reason why religion has such a bad reputation.  It it suppose to be the portal of truth when instead it often is the means to instill fear and maintain social order.   Do we also fall into this trap like Migo as parents, teachers, and friends?

Humans spook easily.  Our fears lead to many misconceptions.  One is  that we need to be in control of everything especially our children.   Isn’t that what Biblical passages like  I Timothy 3:4-5 are all about?  But a closer look at what Jesus taught might mean something entirely different.

First in John 8:32 Jesus affirms that knowing the truth brings about freedom not control.  Meechee’s drive for the truth is good.  But sometimes the truth hurts.  It can cut deeply.  In a culture that is committed to avoid pain and to amuse itself this creates quite a challenge.

The Stonekeeper persuaded Migo by revealing a horrendous reality in history.  The humans violently attacked the yetis years ago.  Reality is humans have been known to  mistreat, abuse, and kill others from different human groups all throughout various points of history.  Sometimes they behave in ignorance and lack of understanding of one another.  At other times they do it to defend themselves.  And unfortunately, there are a few who did it for selfish gain, power, and/or pleasure.  These are serious offenses that produces traumatic responses.

Dealing with trauma is not easy or pleasant.  It is wrought with agony, bed drenching tears, and grief.  Emotional experiences that no one wants to go through.  The longest book in the Bible, Job, illustrates this.  At first, Job’s friends served him well, but their capacity (seven days which greatly surpasses most) to sit quietly and mourn with their friend expired.  They broke out into reasoning and questioning as to who was to blame for such suffering for the next 35 chapters.  Blame is nothing new it started in the beginning.

In Genesis 3: 12-13 Adam blamed Eve who then blamed the serpent for their rebellion.  It’s continued throughout history.  Instead of confessing that we would rather be gods of our own lives, we constantly push the blame on others whether it be the opposite sex, parents, teachers, or leaders.  We complain and test God, “If only…then I will…” even though He already created perfection in the Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve are the perfect literary symbols or representatives of all humankind.  Yet we keep blaming them instead of accepting our own responsibility represented by them.

This is why John the Baptist preached to repent and Jesus reinforced it.  Doctor’s cannot prescribe the right treatment until the right diagnosis is made.  The same is true for our spiritual and emotional condition.  The problem is no one wants to accept responsibility.  Entitlement thinking blinds, hinders, and masks. It prevents from making any necessary changes.   It feeds a false sense of “deserve” based on pity or victim mentality.  Think about it.  If we’re all victims of Adam and Eve’s poor choice then the faulty thinking is justified.

So back to Small Foot and the lessons we can learn.  Did the humans apologize for what their ancestors did to the Yeti and commit that they would not let it happen again?  How did the Yeti come to forgive them for treating them this way? How did they find the strength and motivation to forgive?   More importantly will we evaluate our own family and political history?  How does Small Foot encourage you to do so?

This is what I love about a good story.  They trigger thought to inspire reflection, learning, and change for the better.  Enjoy the hilarious humor of Small Foot and take time to think and discuss its deeper matters.  Let’s not embrace any more intentional lies to deceitfully lead and guide others.  Let’s face the truth through love which forgives as it seeks justice and reparations.

by Hope Mucklow, author of Rojo The Baby Red Panda at the Zoo