Spiritual Books, For Your Religious Needs.
Spiritual Books, For Your Religious Needs.
Love of the Father
Love of the Father
July 7, 2017
Welcome to my blog! Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is David Hollier and I live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I am 75 years old, but my birthday is in just two days, July 9th, so you could probably just say I'm a young 76! I am the father of two grown children, three grandchildren and a great-grandson, whose grand entrance we are anxiously waiting for at any minute now. I am recently widowed, having lost my lovely wife, Charlotte, of 47 years to cancer in 2016. It was tough-going there for a while but one of the things that has helped me, besides my strong faith in God, has been my writing.
I am a spiritual man and what I have to say reflects that. Whether I am writing a fiction story or about real-life topics such as bullying, my beliefs as a Christian will be evident. I have a book, Love of the Father, that I wrote when I was 69 years old. This is the first book in a three-book series about the Albright family and their realistic and spiritual trials and tribulations. I have plans to continue the Albright family's saga in the fourth, maybe even fifth book, etc. The second book of the series, Love of the Son for the Father, will be available soon.
As a Christian, I also believe that our bodies are our temples (1 Corinthians 6:19). There are no guarantees about this, but I believe the the old-fashioned, purer way of life is healthier for our bodies. I have developed an interest in essential oils and I hope to be discussing the uses of these oils as I discover them myself.
I hope that this blog helps everyone and reminds us that we are not alone in the world. No matter who you are, you are a CHILD of GOD. Our jobs while we are on earth are to LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Plain and simple. I am looking forward to your feedback as we explore some interesting topics. I recognize that your input is very important because I haven't got all of the answers, only opinions.
I love each and everyone of you and am excited about this venture.
Letter to my New Great-Grandson:
July 15, 2017
It was July 9, 2017 when you came into this world and your mother, my granddaughter, gave me the best birthday present ever. I came into the world exactly 76 years before you. Although the birthdays are the same, the worlds we were born into are completely different.
I was born in a drug store/doctor’s office in a small town named LeCompte (pronounced La Count) in the central part of Louisiana.
My dad, Antonio, was a Cajun man who loved to play the guitar and sing. He was a carpenter who was second to none. He loved people and I am told that I look like him.
My mom, Tiny (Gladys), was a short lady who cared for five children (I am the youngest), milked cows, churned butter, raised chickens, hand washed clothes, and through this all, made sure she had dinner on the table every night. She was tiny, but she was tough, and I found her to be not unlike the drill sergeants when I joined the Marines.
The United States had gone through the Great Depression in the 1930’s and life was still simple when I was born. We did not have the luxuries that are taken for granted today. For one thing, not everyone had a car and life was often spent mostly at home. No one owned a television and radio is where we got our news and entertainment. I grew up without a telephone at my house. The first time I ever used a phone was when one of my brothers called my school to tell me that I had a new nephew. I was so confused as to how the phone worked and held the receiver and just listened. I went home and relayed the message to my parents that my brother’s baby had arrived and we took a trip to Georgia where we were greeted by my pregnant sister-in law. Oops, wrong brother. We didn’t have time and labor saving machines like electric stoves, dishwashers, washing machines or dryers. Cell phones, computers, and the internet weren’t even dreamed of yet. We didn’t even have electricity or an indoor bathroom and we were pretty much like everyone else.
There was not world peace in 1941 as there is not world peace in 2017. There was a World War going on that the United States was trying to stay out of. By the end of 1941, the United States was forced to join in World War II against a few evil dictators who were trying to take over the world. We have a different enemy now, it is the “terrorists” who are attacking people all over the world. The enemy is different, the methods of attack are different, but it is still the same kind of evil. I pray that there will be a peaceful resolution amongst mankind during your lifetime. We don’t have control over the direction the world takes, but I hope to give you some advice on how to navigate your own life to be the best man you can be.
1. Keep God close in your heart. Put him first in everything you do.
2. Love and obey your parents. Listen to what they tell you. You will appreciate it later.
3. Love your grandparents. It’s almost as is love magnifies with each generation. Spend time with them. They have a lot of wisdom to share.
4. Keep life simple. Yeah, use caution and common sense. For example, don’t do drugs, don’t speed, get regular check-ups, don’t get into heavy debt, etc. But a lot of the other stuff that we worry about just seems to just work out by itself. Focus on what’s really important and keep those other problems in perspective. It isn’t worth it. Let God handle your problems.
5. Love your fellow man. Love them even if they don’t look or think like you. Keep forgiveness in your heart. Life is really about the relationships we share with other people. Our achievements and belongings can easily be taken away from us.
6. Help those who are less fortunate.
7. Remember that fancy clothes, fancy cars, fancy houses are just STUFF. Don’t enslave yourself to them. Spend your days doing something that makes you happy and try to find a way to earn a living that way. You don’t want to spend all of your time trying to pay for stuff you don’t need. You need food, housing, transportation and access to medical care, but you don’t have to spend your life upgrading these things.
8. Get the most out of your education. Don’t take it for granted. It is teaching you to think for yourself and be a better person.
9. Always be true to your word. Others will respect you for it.
I love you my precious great-grandson! I wish you have the best life ever! Remember you have a lot of choices and you can determine the kind of life you have. Even if you get off course, you can always get back to where you want to be. Don’t forget that we all love you and God loves you too.
Hygge: (pronounced Hou-gah)
The Pursuit of Happiness
Hygge: (pronounced Hou-gah)
The Pursuit of Happiness
July 26, 2017
We all spend our lives chasing happiness. Sometimes we think if we buy the right stuff, we will be happy. Sometimes we think if we love the right people and are loved by them, we will be happy. Sometimes we think if we look or act a certain way, we will be happy. Sometimes we think if we have a successful career, we will be happy. I know it sounds cliché, but happiness is already available to you, inside of you, no matter what your circumstances are. Hollywood is full of people who are rich, successful and beautiful and unhappy. On the other hand, Denmark is a dark, cold, dreary country in northern Europe but has the happiest people in the world. What is the Danes' secret?
The Danes have hygge. Hygge is creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good and simple things in life with the people you care about. It's a simple home cooked dinner; it's a room filled with a soft candlelit glow; it's a warm fuzzy blanket that's travelled with you throughout the years; it's a warm crackling fire when it's cold and drizzly outside; it's a good book where you get lost in another world; it's a nice cup of tea in your favorite mug; etc. It's about sitting around the table with family and friends talking about the big and small things in life.
The Danes have figured out how to make the ordinary into something extraordinary. They take the harsh winters and make them enjoyable using the wonders of hygge. Enjoying a hot beverage over a candlelit table is hyggelik. Hygge is about being cozy and enjoying the simple things in life.
The Danish people have figured out that through hygge, they can be happy, regardless of the circumstances. They appreciate each other, regardless of social status. Having friends over to enjoy a favorite movie with some stove-popped popcorn isn't out of the ordinary. They don't think that they have to have a big, fancy meal served in a big beautiful house to have an enjoyable time with company. They are comfortable using a simple recipe from generations past served on a second hand table.
The Danes have taken one word (hygge) and turned it into a way of living that has made them the happiest people in the world.
Can we carry hygge across the ocean to work in the United States? Can it become a way of life here? Are we willing to change our consumerism lifestyle and adopt a cozy one? There are a lot of changes that will need to be made; mainly what we value. If we would focus on and value what God has instructed us to in the Bible, we would be all be happier and treat each other better. I believe it could happen through prayer.
Wouldn't it be nice if we, the people of the United States, could become the happiest people in the world? We are ranked 14th in the world now.
All it would take would be to change our habits such as buying what we need instead of what we want. We are always replacing perfectly good stuff. It's not good for us, our pocketbooks, or the environment. We need to accept people for the way they are instead of trying to change them to our way. A negative attitude leads to nothing but a bad mood. Be simple, be loving and find happiness. :)
Love One Another:
The Second Greatest Commandment
Love One Another:
The Second Greatest Commandment
August 3, 2017
I always look forward to getting my newspaper in the morning, but for what reason, I don’t know. There is never a pleasant story on the front page. If you don’t shoot, stab or attack someone, your chances of being in the newspaper are very slim. Crime has gotten so bad here in Baton Rouge that the local crimes are now in the second section, the Metro section. Most mornings, I’m afraid to leave the house after reading the Metro section.
Why is this going on? We see so many young people in our city with bright shining futures ahead of them senselessly murdered over something trivial or for no known reason at all. Behind every murder there are grieving family and friends. The family and friends of the perpetrator are also sadly affected. It is very depressing.
I think this is going on because people don’t respect or value life any more. They’ll admire your house, car, phone or purse, but they hold no respect our greatest asset which is the human life.
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was he said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” And then he said the second greatest commandment was, “Love thy neighbor as yourself.” That’s pretty simple. Put God first and everything else will fall in place. Loving one another will come naturally.
People go to church on Sunday and hear the Word yet when the majority of them walk out of the church, they quickly forget what they just heard and are already criticizing people for not letting them pull out or for the way they are dressed, etc. For some reason, God’s Word gets lost. That’s why it is important to talk to God every day. It will help you stay on the path that you should be on. Talk to Jesus each and every day. If you feel the devil is closing in on you, say “In Jesus’s name, be gone!”
Prayer and the ability to forgive are the tools you need to “love one another.” Jesus said in Matthew 6:15, “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” That is a far cry from people shooting each other over the smallest slight which seems to be an epidemic today. If you put yourself in the shoes of the person you are angry with, you can be more understanding and forgiving. This is called “empathy” and it helps you love your neighbor as yourself. After all, you have probably ticked off quite a few people yourself, and most of them have probably forgiven you.
I’ve noticed some signs popping up around Baton Rouge that simply say, “Love one another.” I don’t know who is putting them up, but I think they are hoping to remind people of the second greatest commandment in a city where murders are becoming second section news because they are so common. We are all valuable. We are all children of God. Let’s love one another.
The Golden Rule
The Golden Rule
August 14, 2017
The start of a new school year brings with it new challenges as well as old ones. One of old challenges is a problem that involves all teachers, parents, students across the country. The subject I am talking about is “bullying.”
Exactly what is bullying? The professional definition is, “The unwanted aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or a perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time.” It is an act of behavior that is meant to demean someone else.
Why does a bully do what they do? There are a number of reasons, but the main one is the desire to “fit in.” A bully may have been a victim at one time and now he/she wants to be “one of the guys/girls” so they find someone a little weaker than they are and bully them into doing what they want. You see, the common factor between bullies and victims is low self-esteem.
Will your child be a victim or bully? I can’t answer that specifically, but chances are your child will encounter some form of bullying either as a victim, a bully, or a witness. Each year there are 3 million reports of bullying by school-aged children. Everyday 160,000 students stay home from school because of fear of being bullied. But now with cyberbullying, staying home won’t even protect a child from bullying. The media is reporting a staggering number of children who resorting to committing suicide each year because of bullying. Sadly, last week there was a picture of an 8-year-old boy in Ohio making the rounds on Facebook and newspapers who had hung himself because he was being bullied. In the picture he is missing his baby teeth and his permanent teeth have not yet grown in. His whole life was ahead of him, yet he felt hopeless enough to take his own life. Things like this break my heart and I am sure it breaks yours too. So what can we as a society do to stop this tragedy?
As an 8-year-old boy a few decades ago, I didn’t even know what suicide was, much less know how to do it. Maybe as a society, we should not be allowing our children to have access to the internet, computers and cellphones, etc. We don’t let small children do other things, such drive a car, that they are not mature enough to handle. It’s a big dangerous world out there. We need to rethink the information we are exposing our children too and make their world smaller and simpler. We need to protect them more. They need to be focused on learning, playing games and sports. They need to learn how to navigate the social world too, but one-on-one, not hiding behind a screen.
Why do you think God allows this type of behavior? The answer to this is that God gives us choices and the bully chooses to mistreat others. A bully acts out of selfishness as he/she wants to look good in front of others.
As we head back to the classroom this school year, I wish there was one rule that schools would teach above all of the others. When Jesus gave the “Sermon on the Mount” he gave us the Golden Rule. Simply stated, it is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
MODERN DAY SLAVERY: Human Trafficking
MODERN DAY SLAVERY: Human Trafficking
August 27, 2017
Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery! Does slavery still exist in this day in time? Just what is human trafficking and sex slavery and who does it affect? Should we, as residents in Baton Rouge, be concerned about this ever growing problem?
Human Trafficking is the practice of illegally transporting people from one country or area to another, typically for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. Sex Slavery is forcing anyone into commercial sex acts. When any minor under age 21 (Thank you Governor John Bel Edwards, who just signed a bill raising the minimum age from 18 to 21) is engaged in commercial sex acts, they are automatically considered victims of sex trafficking under the law. The human trafficking business is controlled mostly by “pimps” and is a multi-billion dollar business. When asked why this has grown to be such a big business, she answered “gangs can sell drugs just once, while women, on the other hand, as forced prostitutes can be sold 15 – 25 times a day.”
The pimps look for their victims in clubs or walking the streets. Middle school-age girls are the main target to be enslaved here in commercial sex business. Young men are often transported overseas and used either as sex slaves or free labor exploitation. Young boys are easy to lure if they have been abused. Often when they seek to get out of one situation, they fall into something worse. For every three trafficking victims, one is a male and two are female. Most of the adult male victims are exploited into slave labor. They think they are going to get a job and are promised a life of luxury, but instead end up in a world filled with pain and despair.
Hearing a lot about it, I decided to see how the state of Louisiana was affected by this evil thing. Surprisingly, I found that we were very much a part of human trafficking problem. Louisiana, which is not a very big state, had over 400 cases alone in 2016. New Orleans to Shreveport, and all points in-between, have all played a part in the statistics. New Orleans is ranked in the top twenty cities in the country for human trafficking. So how does Baton Rouge fit into this equation? We have an average of 62 cases of trafficking a year. Of those 62 cases, 32 cases are home grown, victims from the local area. Cases of home grown trafficking are usually runaways who are easy prey for the pimps to pick up. These pimps, who are men as well as women, promise the runaway, “a better life.” They dangle clothes, gadgets, money, drugs and alcohol to lure them in. The young people walk blindly into a trap and when they realize what is happening, it is too late…their freedom has been stolen.
So, why does Baton Rouge have this problem? According to Emily Morris -Chenevert, director of Trafficking Hope in Baton Rouge, says that it is the two interstates, I-10 and I-12, running through the city that make it a hub for the traffickers. Baton Rouge has become a stopping off place for traffickers from New Orleans to Houston or Memphis. Ms. Chenevert said although human trafficking is alive and well in the Baton Rouge area, the state has some of the best laws to fight trafficking. The prison sentences for human traffickers are 15-50 years, with fines up to $50,000 and they have to register as a sex offender when they are released.
Not all cases involve strangers luring young people into traps. Sometimes a dependent’s own family will traffic them. Oftentimes, they have a drug addiction to support. A while back the local news carried a story that happened in the nearby small town of Amite, Louisiana. A young lady, who had just lost her mother, was taken in by some of her relatives. These animals forced their dependent young relative to live in a cage in their backyard. She was transported to other areas and made to perform multiple sex acts with multiple men. To add to this, the young lady was autistic. Fortunately, through the work of neighbors and undercover agents, this young lady was freed from her captors.
Here in Baton Rouge, three people (see the image above) were recently arrested and charged with trafficking a 15-year-old girl for prostitution. The traffickers were all young people in their 20s who may have been traffic victims themselves. Now they are off the street and the young girl is back in Arkansas with her family.
How can the traffickers manipulate and control their victims so easily? They are often controlled through threats of violence against the victim or someone the victim loves. In some cases, the victim doesn’t realize he/she is a victim until his/her freedom is gone. Then, it is too late. The pimps, or guides as they are sometimes called, will escort their victim on an airplane to another destination to be exploited. Although the victim is in public, he/she is too afraid to seek help, but there are signs we can look for.
When in public, especially when travelling, be aware of these warning signs that a young person is being trafficked:
1. The victim may have a tattoo with a bar code with the word, “daddy.”
2. They can’t provide details of their departure, location, destination or flight information.
3. Communication seems scripted or inconsistent with their stories.
4. The victim can’t move around in an airport or airplane as if they are being watched or followed.
5. They are afraid to discuss themselves around others.
6. The trafficking victim may be dressed in a sexualized manner and may seem under the influence.
Along with these warning signs, there are a couple of other indicators you can be aware of that could save a life. First, the young person seems disconnected from family, friends, and community organizations. Secondly, they do not attend school.
By no means should you approach someone you think is a victim by yourself. Notify the authorities and let them handle it. If you try to handle it yourself, you could put yourself and the victim in grave danger. But, by reaching out you may save someone from a life of hell.
I Timothy 1:8 -10: THE LAW IS NOT MADE FOR A RIGHTEOUS MAN, BUT FOR THE LAWLESS AND DISOBEDIENT, FOR THE UNGODLY AND FOR SINNERS, FOR UNHOLY AND PROFANE, FOR MURDERERS OF FATHERS AND MURDERERS OF MOTHERS, FOR MANSLAYERS, FOR WHOREMONGERS, FOR THEM THAT DEFILE THEMSELVES WITH MANKIND, FOR KIDNAPPERS, FOR LIARS, FOR PERJURERS, AND IF THERE BE ANY OTHER THING THAT IS CONTRARY TO SOUND DOCTRINE;
Next week, I will post Part Two about human trafficking. I want to thank God for inspiring me to write about this subject and opening my eyes to the problem, for without Him, nothing is possible. Man has been enslaving each other since the beginning of time. Read the Bible, starting with Genesis for examples. I pray for the victims and their families, as well as, for the captors. I pray that the Holy Spirit will enter the heart of the captors and they will turn away from a life of evil. For the victims, I pray they will stay close to Jesus while they while they are caught in this situation and remain close to him as they heal. “Trust the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths,” Proverbs 3:5-6.
MODERN DAY SLAVERY: Human Trafficking
MODERN DAY SLAVERY: Human Trafficking
September 14, 2017
Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”
In my last blog post, I spoke of human trafficking as it pertained to the Baton Rouge area. I posted several signs and indicators that may help you recognize a trafficking victim. Awareness can help us defeat this cruel and devastating treatment of our young people in our community.
This week I will cover the trafficker and why they do the dastardly things he/she does.
Traffickers are people who employ force, fraud, or coercion to victimize others in their desire to make money. These evil people will stop at nothing to demoralize and destroy the life of the victim. By breaking the victim’s ties to his/her former life, the trafficker gains complete control of them. This is sad because these kids, who are often runaways, were in search of a better life and often find themselves trapped circumstances that are far worse than what they were seeking to escape.
Trafficking is the fastest growing illegal business because there are people who are willing to pay for commercial sex and exploited labor. We like to think that only the lowest of society would support this trade, but surprisingly the consumer is often just a “regular guy” or even a “businessman” who refuses to really see who the prostitute or cheap laborer they are using really is. They tell themselves that the prostitute or worker freely chose this life. You have heard the phrase, “Blaming the victim.” The consumer justifies using these modern day slaves by thinking that the prostitute is just supporting a drug habit or that the laborer is, “an illegal alien who knew what they were getting into when they came over here.”
U.S. Law divides victims into three populations:
1. Children under the age of 18 induced into commercial sex.
2. Adults (18 or older) induced into commercial sex through fraud, force, or coercion.
3. Children and adults induced into forced labor or services through force, fraud, or coercion.
The statistics show that there are 20.5 million victims worldwide, hundreds of thousands come from the U.S. You can find them in cities, suburbs, and in all 50 states, as well as Washington D.C. Left unchecked, the traffickers will continue to flourish in environments where they can reap big profits with little risk of being caught.
How can we help the victims? First, learn the signs that show that someone may be a victim. This is critical! Second, call the national hotline if you suspect something. The “National Human Trafficking Hotline” (NHTH) is designed to provide access to critical emergency, transitional, and long-lasting social services for victims and survivors of human trafficking. It also connects concerned persons with training, technical assistance and opportunities to get involved in their communities to help victims.
Hotline for NHTH: 1-888-373-7888; call 24/7.
Please remember that if you suspect something, do not make any contact with either the victim or the trafficker. This is a dangerous situation that should be handled by the experts.
The Matrix: Disconnect From Virtual Reality
The Matrix: Disconnect From Virtual Reality
October 7, 2017
If you think back a few years, there was a movie that dealt with a computer controlled world. In that movie, people were living virtual lives inside a pod that provided all of their sensory information. Instead of living in reality, people were living inside of pods being controlled by programmers and they didn’t even realize it. The movie titled, “The Matrix,” was one of the most successful ones of the nineties. It seemed far-fetched at the time. Looking at the things that have taken place over the last few years, with the improvement of technology, it brings that movie back into perspective. You may think, “Oh, really!”, but if you are in a public place, look around. Aren’t the majority of people looking at their phones? Instead of this virtual reality being forced upon us, as in “The Matrix,” we are choosing to dwell in this virtual reality all on our own.
The technological change that has impacted our lives the most in recent years has been the affordability and accessibility of cellular phones. We are “hooked” up wherever we go. Although we call this device a phone, it carries a lot “bells and whistles” with it. You can be available at all times to anyone trying to reach you. You can use the GPS, search the internet, shop, work, watch television, play games etc. at all times with this handy device. The world is literally at our fingertips! We are already taking all of this for granted when just over twenty years ago, this was still unimaginable to us with our expensive, heavy, bag cellular phones (used in car, only for emergencies) and desk top computers. This is all good, as it is supposed to bring us closer and give us more time together, right?
The cell phone or “smart phone” is owned by at least two/thirds of the population and its use is growing. That is good, up to a point, but like all things, it should be used in moderation. Too much of anything that is good, when used excessively, can become harmful. We have become overly dependent and addicted to our handy little devices.
It is common to find children before the age of one, who can’t feed themselves, talk or walk yet, who know how to operate cell phones because it has been attached to their mother since they entered the world in birthing rooms across America. (Posting private business online for the world to view, is another blog). Screen time and children is controversial. Parents are being warned to limit the amount of screen time their children are allowed, but these screens are convenient baby-sitters and pacifiers and are hard to resist. Many of little boys are addicted to playing games on X-Box. These games can be a good because it can teach strategizing skills and hand-eye coordination. Unfortunately, there are children who are hooked on these games and use them hours upon hours. The child isn’t causing any problems and it is easy for the parents to ignore. But here are physical (carpal tunnel and blood clots), psychological (nightmares) and social (lack of social skills) problems that can develop from playing games constantly. For example, a young 20-year-old Taiwanese boy was so hooked on the X-box that he spent 40 hours in an internet café and was found dead. The doctors speculated that the cause of death was a blot clot that went to his heart.
The internet, whether used on the cell phone, watch, pad or computer, has hooked our children up to the world. Unfortunately, it means that they have access to information that they may not be mature enough to handle. They also have the power to bully or be bullied through these devices.
These are all reasons why parents should monitor and control these devices more than we do. We think they are harmless, but just like we don’t give the keys to the family car to a five-year-old, you should limit your child’s exposure to the world through these devices.
No matter how many warnings they hear about the dangers of texting and driving, how many children have the self-restraint to ignore the ding of a text message alert while driving? For that matter, how many adults think they they’ve got things under control enough to take a quick peek at an incoming text? The “National Safety Council” reports that there 1.6 million accidents caused from cell phone use while driving. They also reported that 330,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused from texting while driving.
I’m not critical of all of this new technology. It has made innumerable improvements in the quality of our lives. We all witnessed how it has been used in the all too frequent natural disasters we’ve been having lately. Every day people were able to communicate with each other and get help to where it was needed through their cell phones. Our heroes, the Louisiana “Cajun Navy” is highly dependent on this form of communication. In my own life, searching the internet on my phone connected me with my daughter after I had been searching for her for 49 years. But, the next time you are at dinner and with family, try to keep the phones put away. A cell phone or game will always be there, but family members won’t. Live in the moment. Remember, moderation in everything.
Proverbs 25:27-28 “Just as it is not good to eat too much honey, it is not good for people to think about all the honors they deserve. A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken down walls.”
Lemongrass Essential Oil
Lemongrass Essential Oil
October 9, 2017
Lemongrass essential oil has a lemony and grassy scent that is perfect to add to homemade household cleaners. But, it has many other uses:
Achy Muscles and Tendons-mix equal parts with fractionated coconut oil and rub on sore areas to help soothe them
Toenails- combine with Melaleuca (tea tree) and rub on nails to promote clean, healthy nails
Insect Repellent- run on or spritz on skin to help keep bugs away
Study Aid- place few drops in distilled water and diffuse (or rub 1 drop in palm of hands and inhale). Try an Energy Boosting Blend of 3-4 drops of lemongrass, wild orange and peppermint in distilled water and diffuse.
Lemongrass essential oil is available through https://www.myyl.com/lotf1941 or you can get it directly from me $14.80 for a 15ml bottle.
Young Living oils have a seed to seal promise, so this oil is high quality!
United We Stand; Divided We Fall
United We Stand; Divided We Fall
November 5, 2017
“Surprised! Dumbfounded! Angry!” were just a few of the words used to describe what went on last Sunday during all the football games. We, as Americans, aren’t used to seeing professional athletes not standing for the flag during the National Anthem. Was it wrong and should these men be punished? Absolutely not! Did it show disrespect? Yes!
I understand that some people feel that the status quo is not fair in this country and there are groups who feel that they are being singled out for mistreatment. It isn’t a perfect world out there and it will never be. Why? Because God made us all different and gave us a free will to pick and choose as we wish. There are people who make the wrong choice and choose to mistreat or to look down at others.
I believe everyone should be treated the same. Rules, and that is ALL rules, should pertain to equally to all persons, regardless of sex, age, race, religion or economic status. That is the IDEAL. It is not quite yet reality, but I believe we, the people of the UNITED STATES, have been working towards that goal over the past years, decades and even centuries. The only way we will achieve this dream of equality is by working together, and not through divisiveness. Every time we say the Pledge of Allegiance, we say the words, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, ONE nation under God, INDIVISIBLE, with liberty and justice for all.” Why do the people who are supposed to be protesting social injustice not wanting to say those words?
How should we go about getting unity back in our country? I think we need to refocus. I mean to refocus not just on the issues that are bothering us, but our hearts. We need to focus on God and his message of brotherly love. Blaming others isn’t going to do anything but make people angry at one another and take us farther from our goal of social justice and equality.
Americans forget how blessed we are. We live in a country where we are much better off materially than citizens in other places in the world. We also live in a place where we have freedoms that are unheard of in other parts of the world. Because of these freedoms, we can work towards making changes in our society. There are constructive ways to bring about these changes and there are destructive ways to bring about these changes. Which way do you think our country is going?
I want you to remember the next time you choose to sit or to kneel during the National Anthem, that it is your right to protest, but please understand that there have been many men and women that have paid the ultimate price for you to be able to do just that. The funny thing about that is, if they were here, they would probably say, “Go ahead, we got your back”.
God blessed the athletes with strong bodies, talent and skill and they entertain us each weekend. They are also blessed with more money and privileges than most of us could only dream of.
I am not saying that it is wrong for athletes not to stand, but I do believe that standing for the flag, repeating the pledge and singing the National Anthem is a way for all of us to refocus on our ideals and goals in this nation before each game. It is showing respect. It is showing appreciation. One group of citizens who are particularly offended by the athletes’ refusal to stand for the flag are veterans. These men and women risked their lives fighting for this nation and its ideals and many of them take the protests as a personal affront. They feel like they were the ones who fought for your right to protest but you don’t appreciate their sacrifices.
I served in the Marines in Vietnam and don’t feel hostility toward anyone who protests. God gave us all free will and, as soldiers, we risked our lives fighting for the ideal of freedom. However, I do appreciate the many people who thank me for my service when they notice my Marine Corp hat or shirt.
TITUS 2:7 IN EVERYTHING SET THEM AN EXAMPLE BY DOING WHAT IS GOOD. IN YOUR TEACHING SHOW INTEGRITY, SERIOUSNESS
Please remember: All gave some, some gave all.
Your Most Important Resource: Time
Your Most Important Resource: Time
November 12, 2017
How much time do we have? Let’s break down time into a week. There are 168 hours in a week. Normally, we work 40 hours per week. Then, we need to count 5 hours for lunch and 5 to 10 hours for commuting. So, that is 50 to 55 hours per week, involved with a full-time job. That time belongs to someone else. We are supposed to sleep 8 hours a night and that takes 56 hours per week. That leaves us approximately 57 hours per week where we can make decisions on how to spend our time. That is more time than we spend doing a full-time job. How do you allot your 57 hours per week?
Time is something that most of us seem to think we have an abundance of. People spend their time working long hours to be able to afford big houses or fancy cars, while their family sits at home not getting to know them. One day, they we go home and the little ones are now the grandchildren. The time we could have spent with them is gone and we can’t get that back.
I advise you to work smart but also allow time with your family and loved ones. Your loved ones are more important than things and should be at the top of your list. You may have to purchase a less expensive car, smaller house or buy your clothes as on sale, instead of when they come into style, so be it. Think of the satisfaction that will come from playing out in the yard with your children or having in-laws over for a bar-b-que. Take your wife on a weekend trip. A time for the two of you to get reacquainted, not only brings you closer, but will strengthen your marriage and family. Try it and you will like it. I guarantee it.
We plan to lose weight, start exercising, get that check-up and other acts of self-care, but then we tell ourselves that we are having trouble finding time for them. We put it off until tomorrow and tomorrow never comes. Just remember, that a lot of problems that develop later on could be avoided if you manage your time to incorporate these good habits into your life now.
What most of us have a lot of is “good intentions” with our time. The problem with having good intentions is, sometimes, that is as far as we go. We aren’t following up our good intentions with action. How many times have you heard of someone doing something for someone and you say, “Man, why didn’t I do that”? Or, you will see a problem and think, “Man, someone should do something about that!” Sometimes, that “someone” is you. And the time to act is “now.”
We spend hours upon hours on social media and all that time is spent just entertaining and informing us about issues and people. We think, “Oh, I need to pray about that,” and we pray and move on. Or we “like” something and add an emoji to the post. We don’t actually do anything to make a change or a difference in a world. Wouldn’t some of that time be better spent actually doing something to make a difference in the world? It’s a tradition during the Thanksgiving season for people to volunteer to feed the hungry. Often times, people will bring their children with them so that they can learn something from this experience. This is a generous and beautiful act, but remember that people are hungry in May, July, September, etc. Once a year, is not enough. We need direct some of our wasted time towards helping others regularly. There are numerous ways to volunteer and make the world a better place. How you choose to do this is up to you. Just remember, that your time is a precious gift that you need to focus on how you are spending it and not squander it away.
James, 4:13-15 “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit-yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord will, we will live and do this or that.”
Agape: God's Love
Agape: God's Love
November 26, 2017
All of my life I always thought that love was love. I knew there was difference between the kind of love we have for one another and God and the kind of passionate love between a woman and man. But I never heard of the classifications of love until this past Sunday, when I was asked if I knew what “Agape” was. Then, with the help of Google, I looked into it and found that there are four forms of love which are Storge, Eros, Philos, and Agape.
Storge love is the kind of love that a parent has for a child and vice versa. It is an affectionate kind of love between family members, pets and owners and companions or colleagues. The Bible mentions this kind of love in Romans 12:10 which says, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
The second kind of love is Philos. Philos means “affectionate regard, friendship,” usually “between equals.” Philos is love expressed between friends like “I love you, man.” There is nothing passionate about it. It is a casual and easy kind of love.
The third kind of love is Eros. Eros is a sexual kind of love. It is a physical kind of love, often overwhelming and mistaken for true love. It is good and right, but not enough to sustain a long-term relationship in itself. It is a gift from God but this is the kind of love that can get us into trouble if we use it the wrong way. Sexual immorality is very strongly frowned upon by God.
The fourth kind of love is “Agape,” which is the one true love. It is the unconditional love that comes from God to us and how we should love God. God showed this kind of love when He sent His son down to die on the cross so that everyone who believed in Him would be saved. Agape love is God’s all-encompassing love for His people. We don’t do anything thing to obtain this love he has for us. He simply loves us because we exist.
John 3:16 truly is a statement about agape love. “FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.”
When Jesus was talking to His disciples before He ascended to heaven, he instructed them to love one another as He loved them. This was a new command, as it demanded a new kind of love, a love like his own (Agape Love). Why did Jesus give this new command?
It is explained best in John 13: 34 – 35, “By this shall all people know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus further explains Agape love in John 14: 21, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
To put this simply, we have a God that loved His people so much and thought so much of them that He gave them a chance at salvation by sacrificing His own son.
All we have to do is to love His son and follow a few commandments to win an eternity in a Paradise of Love with our creator. Why is it so hard for us to follow Him and follow these few commands? Why?
The reason being is people often can’t believe in Agape love. They think it is too good to be true and put conditions on the love they hold for other people. The mindset for them is that, “I am not helping them because of …,” or, “I won’t do that for them because nobody didn’t help me when I needed it.” We, as God’s people, put too many conditions on how we love others instead of just loving them unconditionally.
To understand “agape love” we must first understand God and His love. Knowing and understanding God takes building a strong relationship with the Father and asking Him to help you to understand Him. We build this relationship through regular prayer and reading the Bible. As you come to accept God’s love and forgiveness, practice loving and forgiving your fellow man. Remember that God loves you even though you sin. When you sin, it is you who are the one pulling away from God. He is just waiting for you to come back to Him. Be ready because the closer you get to the Father, the stronger the devil will try pull on you.
Your relationship with God is like all relationships. Remember, that it takes daily practice and work. By this time, you have read the verses from the Bible and have read that He loves us unconditionally and without reserve.
Remember, agape (uh-ga-pe) love is God’s Love and the strongest of the four loves.
The Very First Christmas Gift
The Very First Christmas Gift
December 3, 2017
The story of Christmas began some 2000 years ago with a young virgin named Mary who gave birth to the Son of God. This baby, who was humbly born in a manger and wrapped in a simple swaddling cloth, was to become the savior of the world by dying for our sins.
Before the birth of this baby named Jesus, mankind struggled. God had given man a set of rules and regulations to live by but this Law was too difficult for man to follow because of his natural sinful nature. The arrival of Jesus gave man a chance of forgiveness and everlasting life. Jesus was born to become the ultimate sacrificial lamb to atone for man’s sins. He gave us a new Law which was to love God above all else, and to love our fellow man as we want to be loved. This new law and sacrifice meant that man no longer had to fear death!
The world would be full of love and peace if we were to follow His teachings on how to live. He taught us to forgive and not to judge others and to love all people regardless of who they were. He didn’t look down on anyone, not even the tax collectors, prostitutes, or even the Samaritans (whom his own people, the Israelites, looked down on because they were sort of a hybrid tribe). When questioned about why he chose to minister to these people, He replied, “It is not healthy people that need a doctor, but the sick”, Matthew 9: 12.
Jesus taught us that through Him all things are possible. He is always there for us. If we falter in our ways, we can ask Him for help and forgiveness. He protects us. We can say, “In the name of Jesus be gone,” to banish evil spirits. Even the most evil force in the world, the devil, fears the name of Jesus.
God loves us and He saw that the world was heading in the wrong direction. He sent His son to save and show us the right direction. After all these years, there are men still struggling to walk the narrow path that lead to salvation. The path that leads to destruction is often easier and more pleasurable to follow. Matthew 7:14 says, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Following God often means that man will have to delay satisfaction and trust that God will reward us in the end for being “good.”
Matthew 7:13 says, “The gate is wide and the road is spacious that leads to destruction.” He is telling us how easy it is to lead a sinful life. He gave us hope when we read Mark 17:20, “For truly I say unto you, if you have the faith of a mustard seed and tell this mountain to go into the sea, it will go.” He tells us that anything is possible for those who believe (Mark 9:23).
Jesus taught us how we should live throughout his ministry. He told us why it is important to forgive in Matthew 6:15, “But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you of your trespasses.” Often, it is very tempting to want to get revenge or hold onto bitter feelings when someone hurts us, but if we follow these urges, we are only hurting ourselves.
In John 8:1-11, Jesus was approached by a group of Pharisees who were trying to trap Him into saying something that could be used against Him. Under the old Law, an adulterous woman would be stoned to death. When Jesus was asked about this, he said, “Let the one who has never sinned cast the first stone.” One by one, the group dispersed as the people who were ready to kill this woman realized that they were all sinners. Jesus was teaching man a new kind of Law. But remember, this doesn’t mean Jesus condones sin. He forgives her sin, but also instructed the woman to, “Go and sin no more.”
We have no idea how it must have felt to this lady. She was given a fresh start….a new beginning. We also now have hope that when we stumble and fall, we can be forgiven.
Christmas is much more than a season of good feelings, lights, trees, music, food and presents. It’s about the best present that God gave us 2000 years ago. He gave us hope. We can mess up over and over again and God will not give up on us. He gave us a new way of living under a kinder Law. He sent His son to do for us what we are not strong enough to do for ourselves. He was the perfect sacrificial lamb.
I have struggled much in my life and these past 16 months have been the worse. It seems like my life has been turned upside down, but I can rest easy because I believe in God’s word. Peter asked Jesus how many times was he to forgive his brother or sister who sinned against him in Matthew 18:21. “Up to seven times?” Peter asks. Jesus responds “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Thank goodness and thank God!
As you prepare to celebrate Christmas this year, please remember to thank God for the present he sent us 2000 years ago. Sometimes it is easy to forget what it’s all about.
Isaiah 9:6 foretold of this gift, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
God Bless You and Your Family this Holiday Season!
December 10, 2017
Proverbs 28: 6 “Better a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”
We are all guilty of saying things like, “Don’t hang out with them because you are better than that,” or telling your daughter or son they can’t go out with someone because, “They aren’t your kind of people.” Think for a minute how you would feel if you heard someone say that about you or your child. Doesn’t feel good, does it? We are all guilty of categorizing people and putting labels on them.
Class is a five letter word that divides us as people. It sets apart the so called “good people” and the “not so good people.” Is it right? What we, as individuals, define as classy is subjective. We often judge how people act and look to decide whether they are classy or not. Too often we judge on looks alone. Some people think one’s possessions can equal class. Some people are impressed with a haughty attitude. If you think you are better than others, you can convince many others to believe it too.
I don’t think that God wants us to classify people like this. He loves us all the same and wants us to love each other in the same way. Classifying people is almost the same as judging them, and that is definitely frowned upon by the Father.
We often judge people on things they have no control over. It’s a game of luck whether we are born rich or poor, our race, appearance, natural talents, health or even where on Earth God chooses to place us. We are all advantaged just being for being born in the United States, although there is great disparity in wealth in this country, our children have access to healthcare and food and we live in peace. God doesn’t judge us on things we cannot control and loves us all just the same. In God’s eyes, those of us who were born with gifts have a special responsibility to help others.
One thing that God gave each of us is a heart. It is up to us to use that heart to love others. Don’t mock or make fun of others. A poor family shouldn’t make fun of a rich family just as much as a rich family shouldn’t make fun of a poor one. Reach in your heart to love everyone, regardless of whether or not they have more or less than you.
1 Samuel 16: 7 “The Lord said to Samuel, 'Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him.' The Lord doesn’t make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.”
Some of the people we look down on are doing the best they can do. We may be doing better than they are, but we may also have had more gifts, luck or strength than the other person. Recognize that everyone is struggling and soften your heart towards them instead of judging.
By showing your love for your neighbor, you are doing what God commanded of us.
And remember too that just because someone is exalted in society, they are not always who you
think they are. Appearances can be deceiving. Right now, some of our greatest leaders are being accused of crimes against women. Until this happened and was brought to the forefront, we looked at them as good outstanding, well-mannered, and educated men. Class is in a person’s heart. It’s not always easy to see, but you can feel it when you meet someone with true class.
Matthew 7:15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep, but are really wolves that would tear you apart. You can detect them by the way they act, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit.”
This Christmas Lights- A Short Story
This Christmas Lights- A Short Story
December 25, 2017
Stan had faced a lot of tough decisions before but none were a tough as the one he was facing now. Being twice divorced, he had met the young lady who had stolen his heart away.
Trudy was a single mom of a five-year-old daughter with Down’s Syndrome. She had contemplated placing her daughter in an institution that specialized in the care that her child needed. This would give her freedom so she and Stan could get married and live a normal life. Her daughter required round-the-clock sitters now and would not being growing up as other children do and become an independent adult one day. She was unable to walk or talk at an age when other children were learning to read, write and ride bikes. She loved her daughter with all of her heart and that hadn’t changed since the nurse first placed the soft little bundle with curly light brown hair into her arms. The difference was that now Cheryl wasn’t a little baby but still required the care of a little baby. That was frightening to many people and she thought that was too much to ask of Stan.
Trudy was a strong Christian lady and believed that if God wanted it to be, then it would be. She would turn it over to him.
Stan was also raised by strong Christian parents and had a strong belief in God. Faith was one of the things that had brought him and Trudy together. He knew that God would help him do the right thing. He also knew that God did things in His own time. In Stan’s mind, that felt like forever and being patient while God revealed His plans would be a strong test of his faith.
One thing Stan knew was that he loved Trudy with all of his heart but being faced with taking care of a disabled child might be more than he could handle. “I just have to give it to Him,” he thought.
That evening before Stan went to bed, he knelt down and bowed his head and asked the Lord to help him with the decision he had to make. “Lord, give me a sign that I am up to this task. Am I doing the right thing? Can I love this child?”
It was a few weeks before the Christmas holidays and one evening after eating dinner at Trudy’s house, Stan asked, “Do you decorate for Christmas?”
Trudy looked at him with a puzzled look on her face as if to ask, “Why?”
“I just thought everybody decorated, especially with children. I’ll tell you what, instead of putting up decorations at my house, I will just bring them over here. We can get a real tree and add a few lights and ornaments. ”
The next day, Stan paid twenty-five dollars for a six-foot balsam fir tree. Rosa, the sweet middle-aged sitter who stayed with Cheryl while Trudy worked, answered the door when Stan knocked at her apartment door and let him in to set up the tree.
Trudy saw the tree in the stand when she walked in after work and gave a half-smile like she was pleased but not too excited. They decided they would decorate it the next evening
Cheryl was taking an evening nap and it was quiet in the living room as Stan and Trudy placed the lights and ornaments on the tree. The tree was almost done when Trudy heard Cheryl wake in the next room. Trudy carried her into the living room so she could experience the lights. Stan was fumbling with the plug when Trudy placed the young child on the floor facing the tree. When Stan worked the plug into the socket, the room suddenly lit up along with the eyes of the precious little girl.
Seeing Cheryl’s face, Trudy quickly excused herself so the child would not see how emotional she had become. Stan sat on the floor next to Cheryl. Knowing that he had asked God for a sign, he knew that he had just received it in the eyes of Cheryl.
Sitting by this child who couldn’t walk or talk , but found such delight in the lights on the tree that he had brought, he knew that his decision had been made about whether he could be a good father to her.
Looking up, he whispered, “Thank you, my Father.” He put his arm around his little angel and pulled her closer to him. Stan knew that this was just the first of many years that they would be enjoying the Christmas lights together.
New Year's Resolutions and
New Year's Resolutions and
It is an American custom for us to make promises to ourselves that we will do certain things differently beginning on January 1st. I’m afraid that by now most of these promises have already been broken.
Common resolutions are that we will lose weight, start exercising, quit smoking, or save money. I’ve heard of people resolving to be just an overall “better person,” which is an admirable goal. I think we should adopt an even loftier goal that would get us to Heaven one day and make life on Earth a whole lot better for us.
What is the resolution? How about, “I will put God first in my life.” That is the one thing that you can’t go wrong with and it would help make all those other goals possible.
One of the Bible passages for you to read is Psalm 46:1—“God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in trouble.”
Exactly what is this passage telling us? Think about what a refuge is for a minute. A refuge is a safe place. So, look at God as our safe haven.
With God, there is nothing to fear. You have a problem at work! Give it to God! Not enough money and the bills are due? Hand it over to God! No matter where you are, or who you are, He is there for you. We get in trouble when we try to work out things on our own. Sure, you should use common sense and follow the scriptures, but then there are things that are just beyond our control and that is when you need to hand it over to God.
You see, my friend, He sees and hears all. We see in tunnel vision, while He sees the whole picture. Hand over the pain, the worry, and anything else you may be going through. If you remember about “agape love” than you know He does not put any conditions on His love.
Focus on Him. Let Him carry your cares. Trust that he sees and knows all and what happens in your life is part of His divine plan and will work out for your good.
ISAIAH 41; 10---“SO DO NOT FEAR, FOR I AM YOUR GOD. I WILL STRENGTHEN YOU AND HELP YOU; I WILL UPHOLD YOU WITH MY RIGHTEOUS RIGHT HAND.”
Modern Day Slavery: Human Trafficking - Part 3
Modern Day Slavery: Human Trafficking - Part 3
This is my third blog about human trafficking (aka sex trafficking) that is not only a local problem, but a worldwide one, as well. I believe it is such a successful illegal business, surpassing even the illegal drug trade, because of our general lack of education on the subject. Secondly, if there weren’t a demand for the product, it wouldn’t be such a money maker. So, how do we get rid of this horrible, immoral, menace to the young, vulnerable members of our society?
How would education help? First off, people are completely unaware of what a real threat it is and that it is currently happening all around them. Parents and their children need to be aware of who is around them at all times. Human trafficking is not happening in faraway places with easily identifiable villains who whisk their prey away to the bad parts of town where we don’t live, work, play and shop. It happens openly in the popular parts of town where regular people frequent. The traffickers don’t entrap their victims by using honesty. Normal school kids are lured into motels/hotels near the interstate with promises of love, drugs, money, gifts and freedom. Often the young person isn’t aware of what is going on by the time they are a victim. The perpetrators don’t tell the kids they are going to lose their freedom and be sold off for sex 25 times a day and the only person who is going to make money is the pimp. Even worse, sometimes the trafficker is someone the family loves and trusts. The only safeguard is awareness that sex trafficking can and does happen to regular people.
The second point is about who is buying sex. The villain in this situation is not just the trafficker, but the consumer of the sex trade. These are regular men with jobs, families and even church memberships, who lead double lives because of their compulsions. They objectify the person they are buying sex from by telling themselves that; “she chose this life,” “is a drug addict,” “is a runaway,” “doesn’t have morals,” and “needs the money, and that she likes what she is doing, otherwise she’d be working a real job.” Other lies the “Johns” tell themselves is that the child is old enough to be doing this and that she actually likes having sex with them. If the law would prosecute the “Johns” as any other sex offender, maybe these men would see it differently. If they were faced with losing everything (jobs, families, reputations, money), perhaps demand would drop off.
Worldwide, sex trafficking is a $150 billion a year business. Traffickers range from local solo-operators, gangs, to sophisticated international criminal organizations. There are low startup costs, minimal risks of getting caught and very high profits. Sex trafficking victims come from all socio-economic and racial backgrounds and 98 percent of them are female.
In the Baton Rouge area, there have been 70 sex trafficking victims found in 2017. Baton Rouge, being a corridor of sorts because of our interstates, makes a prime city for sex trafficking. Just last December, five women were caught on a major boulevard in the city. These women were being trafficked from California.
Recently, a young girl was almost lured outside by another young girl from the playground of a family restaurant. When the mother was made aware of the child leaving the restaurant by an alert restaurant employee, the other child quickly jumped into a waiting car which sped off. One can only presume that this person was up to no good. The interstate was nearby and would make a quick getaway. I don’t like to think about whose child was being used as bait and what kind of life she must have. How do you teach your own child be wary of other children, yet still raise them up to be a loving, healthy, confident members of society? Children shouldn’t have to worry about human traffickers in a family restaurant playground with their mothers and fathers sitting nearby. Yet, the new reality is that nowhere and no child is completely safe.
Aside from outright abductions, how do human traffickers find these young girls? They look for kids who are unhappy at home. Studies have shown that young females lose self–confidence in adolescence, which is the same age they are being targeted for the sex trade, and increases their vulnerability. Sometimes, it is a friend or family member who will introduce the victim to trafficking. It can start with an invitation to a party or the girl may be approached at the mall or even school. Sometimes, a trafficker can find a girl in her own home through social media. Girls can be promised that, “this is a legitimate job offer for modeling or acting.” They will be shown glamourous pictures of girls that they have supposedly helped get jobs. Children are too naïve to discern that this is a fraud.
At first, these girls don’t realize this guy is a pimp and that she will eventually be working as a prostitute for him. In some cases, the victim may actually think she is in love and the pimp is her boyfriend. He will woo her with designer clothes, purses, or iPhones. Her inhibitions will be loosened with alcohol and drugs. She may believe her pimp is the only person in the world who truly cares for her. These girls often become dependent on the pimp, especially after she has been isolated from her friends and family.
How do parents protect their daughters? First off all, be aware of where your children are at all times. Know who they are connecting with on social media and who their friends are. If they are young and are playing outside, keep an eye on them. Long gone are the days when we can let the kids out of the house with only instructions to come home when the street lights come on. Personally, I’m not a fan of sleep-overs. You really don’t always know what is going on in other people’s homes.
Once a girl is caught up in the lifestyle, her life becomes a nightmare that is hard to escape. I spoke to a former victim at Healing Place Source in Baton Rouge and was told that if a girl doesn’t perform or bring the amount of money that she is expected to, she is brought before the other victims and either beaten or raped repeatedly. She is threatened with her life or she may be handed over to gangs to do as they want with her.
Although victims are mostly female, traffickers aren’t always male. In fact, a lot of the illegal organizations are run by women. Females will trust another female, whereas they may be wary of a male. Traffickers know this. That is why a young girl was used to approach the young girl on the playground of the family restaurant. In 2010 -2012, 28% convicted traffickers were women. The United Office on Drugs and Crime said that the women act as guards, recruiters and money collectors, to gain the trust of female victims.
Rest assured, my friends, that it happens in Baton Rouge. Louisiana has some best laws on the books concerning trafficking. Louisiana is 1 of 14 states that allows wiretapping as part of investigations. We are 1 of 18 states that has passed Safe HARBOR laws. We are 1 of 26 states that has enacted statutes specifically defining force, fraud, or coercion in terms of human trafficking.
State Rep. Ronnie Jones (R) of Sulphur authored bills aimed at the human trafficking problem. Governor John Bel Edwards (D) signed the bills into law. (Bravo! It’s nice to see our politicians working together for the public good.) We raised the age of victimization to 21 (from 18), make traffickers register as sex offenders, increased fines to $50,000 and prison sentences to 50 years. The trafficker cannot deny knowing the age of the victim as a legal defense. Jones authored another bill that says strip clubs can’t hire strippers under the age of 21. New Orleans already had a law and now it is state-wide. Strip clubs attract the sex trade because it is a place that is easy to pick up Johns.
While the new laws will go into effect soon to control human trafficking, social services and law enforcement say a lack of funding for enforcement – coupled with the unwillingness of the victim to testify against the trafficker because they identify more with them than the police – creates difficulties in the effort to cut down on human trafficking.
What can you do to help? Be aware and be on the lookout for victims, especially if you notice a young female or child who appears malnourished, shows signs of physical injuries or neglect, avoids eye contact or social interaction. Some of the victims may have tattoos with their pimps name on them. Some of them have the word “daddy” tattooed on them. The airport is a place used quite frequently by traffickers to transport the victim. If a young person is dressed in shorts and shirt and she tells you she is going to a place you know is cold, that may be a sign she is a victim. Not knowing where she lives is also a sign.
If you suspect something, by no means do you try and handle the situation by yourself. These are dangerous people and should be handled by law enforcement.
The phone number for the National Human Trafficking Hotline is 1-888- 373-7888. The number to text The Be Free Textline is 233733 and is open 24/7.
Matthew 18: 2-6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who believe in me- to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
Soon to come: Video Blogs
Photo by: Mike Wilson
Mardi Gras in a Small Town during the 1950s
Mardi Gras in a Small Town during the 1950s
Looking at all the celebrations going on during this Mardi Gras season, it brings me back to my childhood in Elton, Louisiana. Elton is located some 100 miles from Baton Rouge and some 35 miles from Lake Charles in Southwest Louisiana. At the time when I was growing up, there may have been close to 3000 people. Since then, the population has diminished to around 1100. The thriving downtown with furniture and clothes stores, a movie house, and drive-in restaurant is long gone. Mardi Gras was celebrated a little differently than it is today.
I may have been 11 or 12 years old when I started celebrating Mardi Gras with my friends. There was a parade formed by men who had tractors and pulled trailers filled with hay. Being a farming community, there were a lot of them around. These hay-filled trailers carried riders who went through town howling and singing. People rode on these so-called country floats, but there were no beads and trinkets that were thrown like in New Orleans. Like the old Cajun French would say, everyone just went to “pass a good time.”
Mardi Gras day was very exciting, especially if you were a child. We would look at that day as an extra Halloween. We would put on our costumes, which were normally made by our parents, or you could even wear your left-over Halloween mask. Some kids would paint their faces in different colors. Once we got dressed, we could start and the fun part. Unlike Halloween, it was celebrated during the day light hours.
Normally, 3 or 4 of us would join together and go from house to house in search of some goodies. One of us would knock on the door, and the other 3 would stay in the yard. Once the people of the house would answer the door, we would say, “Throw me something, mister!” like they do at parades today. The homeowner throw candy or fruit to us, the masqueraders, and some even threw money. But, before they threw anything to us, we had to earn it. We had to jump around in a silly dance. Living in a small town, there were quite a lot of homes to go to because just about everyone participated in the fun.
The way we celebrated Mardi Gras in Elton was different from today’s celebration because the masqueraders who received the treats. The celebration took the better part of the day. It was a day that the young people could have clean, safe fun, and the parents didn’t have to worry about them as things were pretty safe back then.
There was a saying that we used if someone asked us where we were going. We’d reply, “Toto the Mardi Gras,” as if our made-up faces didn’t make it obvious. To this day, I have no idea what that means, but since all the other kids were saying it, I did too. There was no king cake for us, and the color combination of purple, gold and green was unknown to me until I moved to Baton Rouge. Purple symbolizes justice, gold symbolizes power, and green symbolizes faith.
Mardi Gras in the 1950s was a fun time for the young and old alike. My parents didn’t drink alcohol, but who knows what the other adults did. It was a plain and simple celebration, and like they say in south Louisiana, “Laissez le bon temps rouler,” or, “Let the Good times Roll.”
Life was simple back then. Just remember, that whatever way you celebrate the holiday this week, be safe and have fun.
I plan on posting You Tube videos soon. In the meanwhile, please check Amazon (under David A. Hollier) for my books: Love of the Father and the newly released second book Love of the Son for the Father.
Letter to Billy and Danielle:
Remembering Alyssa Claire Young
Letter to Billy and Danielle:
Remembering Alyssa Claire Young
March 26, 2018
Dear Billy and Danielle,
Please accept my complete and utmost sympathy for you as you grieve the loss of your beautiful daughter Alyssa. I know that the times will be tough for the family, but the togetherness you all have is very special and you all will gather strength from one another. Like the pastor said at Alyssa’s service, “We are all in this together,” and we will be there for you to help you through this.
Looking around at Alyssa’s service, I saw the hundreds of young people there to pay their final respects and it sent a chill up and down my spine. It appeared as if the whole community came out to say goodbye. Looking at the number of people who filled the church, I know she was well loved and thought of. Although we often hear that the young are turning away from Christianity, there was no sign of that in that church that day. That makes an older person like me feel proud for sure.
First and foremost, you have to think about the good times with Alyssa. From the time she was given to you and Billy, she has been a treasure. I thank God that Facebook and handy phone cameras were around and allowed you to capture memorable moments with your child who was taken all too soon. Often we hear about the negatives of social media but these tools have very good uses as well, such as linking and uniting all of us during this difficult time for your family.
You will always hold in your heart the memories of the time she took her first steps and cut her first tooth. As she grew, she learned to fish and hunt and was her dad’s buddy. She was an awesome athlete, cheerleader, friend, niece and granddaughter. She was a sweet little sister to Haylee, best friend to Greta, and loving big sister to Lillie and Kora. She was Danielle’s spitting image. She was a loving aunt to Liam and her Aunt Carla’s china doll. The thirteen years that she was earth will impact the rest of you for the rest of your lives.
Although, I didn’t have the opportunity to spend a lot of time around Alyssa, her love for Jesus was evident as it came forth through her smile and her personality. Remember the words of Jesus, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” Mark 10: 14. We have the comfort of knowing that she is now in a better place, but your world has been left with what feels like an unfillable void.
Danielle and Billy, I want to say again that you aren’t in this alone. Friends, relatives and church members are at your disposal, so please reach out to them for help if you need it. Don’t pressure yourself to “act strong” but realize that grief is a long process and God has given us each other to comfort us during these times. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Pray, cry and lean on others as much as you need. Eventually your happy memories of Alyssa’s life will overshadow your memories of her untimely passing and you will feel joy. Take comfort in the fact that in God’s time you will see her again and you will have a new understanding of the events that have unfolded in your lives. Right now, it may feel like it doesn’t make sense, but God will reveal to you the “big picture” one day.
Alyssa wants you to all be happy again. If she could, she would assure you that she is in a good place and that she wants you to live full happy lives. Talk to God daily and he will get you through this. He is in control and you can trust in Him.
I love all of you.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Isaiah 41: 10
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Afternote: A few days after writing this, I experienced first-hand the pain of losing a child when my son Jason passed away on March 14.
Mind Your Own Business
Mind Your Own Business
April 13, 2018
In this weird world we live in today, there are many things that make life more difficult than it should be. One thing that comes to mind, is the way so many people try to run other people’s lives. People believe they have a right to voice their opinions about everything. They will proclaim that a person is sending their child to the wrong school or that “so and so” is paying too much for something. You name it, and someone will think he has an answer for it, and in his mind, he has a better solution than the one you have chosen. Although it is your life and your problem, they think they have a better grip on it. Who are these people and why are they so interested in how your life is run?
Some people in this world are not happy unless they are running the lives of others. These people are normally suffering from low self-esteem. Two words that best describe them are, “control freaks.” They build themselves up by putting you down. Take a second as you listen to their advice. Here is what you should look for: Is he/she being manipulative? Does he/she have anything to gain if you follow his/her advice? Does he/she talk down to you? Do they try to make you look or feel like you don’t know what you are doing or talking about? How do they feel about themselves?
A controlling person may be an authority figure or have a position of power, but instead of helping others, he/she uses this position to harm or abuse with it. They could be a religious leader, supervisor, relative or a teacher. They come from all walks of life. Just be aware that, although they may be rich, religious, educated, or just a plain person on the street, your life is still your life and you have the right to live it as you see fit. After all, your life and circumstance is unique to you, and with God’s grace, only you can best decide how you should live it.
We all were created by God, with our own personalities, gifts, needs and troubles. Why do we need someone else telling us what to do? As long as what we are doing isn’t hurting anyone, we have the right to do what we want.
No Use In Arguing
Here is the way I handle things when I know someone is trying to control me. First, I listen to what they are saying, and I might nod my head, or crack a little smile. Maybe, I’ll even half-heartily agree with them. I let them rattle on for a couple minutes, and when they are through, I tell them, “thank you,” and change the subject to something else. My point is, I don’t verbally disagree with them. I let them talk, and, once they are gone, I continue to live the way that I have decided is best.
I feel that this person is already convinced that they are right in what they are saying, and if I disagree with them, it would lead to a heated verbal exchange, which would just lead to hurt feelings between us. I consider that this person could just be trying to help me and is well meaning, so I just listen, smile and let it pass. You are in charge of your life, regardless of what anyone on this earth says. It is a different situation if you have asked for help or advice from someone, but otherwise, I believe you should seek out God’s guidance and decide for yourself.
In Your Shoes
Every human being on this earth is entitled to live his/her life the way they want to, without outside interference, regardless whether it is right or wrong in someone’s opinion. You will never have everyone’s approval. If you live your life for God, then there is nothing to worry about. If certain things are going to happen in your life, they are going to happen. I guarantee it! They are going to happen regardless of what you try to do to prevent them. The best way to control bad things from happening is talking to the Father and asking Him to help you make the right decision. And if the worse happens, pray for His guidance to get you through it and He will.
Remember this; if you feel like a person is trying to control you, you are probably right. Make your own choices with your family, money, where you live, work, or anything else that pertains to you.
Before You Give Advice
Take a good long look and reflect back on some circumstances in your life. Did you at one time suggest to a friend that they shouldn’t do things a certain way because that way was wrong? What about the time when your neighbor bought a new car or a new piece of furniture, were you happy for them or did you suggest in a way that they should be putting money up for a rainy day instead? Take a good look at your motivation when giving your opinion to someone. Good suggestions are very helpful, but trying to run some one’s life could be damaging to a friendship or relationship. Remember, what you know is truly limited. You are looking at life from your own perspective and what may be good for you, may not work for the other person.
Each of us is unique, and God has made us that way for a reason. The variety of characteristics of the human race is needed for the world to function. Life is a gift that we are given with choices to make as we decide. We should, as God’s people, accept each other as just that, “God’s People.” You are no better than anyone else, nor is anyone any better than you.
When I was a kid, the country music singer, Hank Williams, came out with a song titled, “Mind Your Own Business.” In the song, he said, “Mind your own business, and you won’t be minding mine.”
I want you to dwell on how you feel when someone tries to, “Get into your business.” Not too good, is it? It makes you doubt yourself, doesn’t it? The world would be a lot more peaceful if we would stop trying to force our own agendas onto other people. Remember, motivation is the key. Is the advice coming from someone who truly has your best interests at heart, or are they trying to control you for selfish reasons?
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one the one abstains pass judgement on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgement on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls, and he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind…