Trails

wp_20161016_016.jpgDo you ever hike, walk or jog in our nearby parks?  The walking paths in our city and township parks are marked with highly visible signs leading the walkers or joggers along to the next sections of the paths.  The maintained hiking trails through our state parks are marked less garishly with signage that blends better with the scenery.  These trails are still fairly easy to follow if you watch for the signs.  When hiking through long stretches of open country on minimally maintained trails, one must know what trail markers to look for.  If blazes are missed, hikers can easily wander off the trail and become lost.

On our way to church one Sunday morning, I noticed a small, squiggly white line that suddenly appeared on the pavement, and ran in front of us all the way down the hill into town. The line became more pronounced the further we went.   I pondered the possible source of the squiggly line.  I wondered if paint spilled in the bed of a pick-up truck.  The paint probably dribbled out of the tailgate and formed a trail for us to follow.  I guessed correctly.  As we turned onto North Street, the line terminated at a white spot that occupied most of a parking space in front of a building that was being renovated.

Once, while on patrol with the Coast Guard, I spotted an oil trail on the water as we sailed through Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.  We took samples and determined it to be diesel fuel.  We planned a search and launched our helicopter.  The pilot flew the helicopter close to the water, following the trail until he located the oil’s source; a fishing vessel had run aground.  Their fuel was leaking out, and they were taking on water.  Dewatering pumps drained their batteries, and they were unable to radio for help.  However, their fuel trail led us to them.

As we go through life, we leave trails that others can follow, whether we intend to or not.  Scholars leave paper trails made of studies, theses and books.  The trails of investors are strewn with “buy” and “sell” slips, bank statements and financial reports.  Teachers leave trails of students.  Actors leave trails of dialogue for others to quote.  The fickle in love leave trails of broken hearts. Those with wicked tempers and bad behavior often leave trails of destruction.

I’m leaving trails of my own.  They aren’t spilled paint or leaked fuel, but they are just as visible.  Are they just as indelible or toxic?  I don’t know.  I’d like to think they are good trails – the well marked paths along the “better way”.  If I’m honest, I’ll have to admit not all my trails are well blazed, or easy, or even good.  There are probably reasons for the kinds of trails I’ve left – some excusable, some not so much.   Being aware of my trails, and knowing that others may follow after me should be suitable admonishment to remind me that the paths ahead of me become the trails behind me.  I want to leave good trails and help others to do the same.

© 2017 Curt Savage Media                                                                  curtsavagemedia.com

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Twenty-Twenty

Eye ChartOur daughter had her eyes checked recently.  We found she will need glasses to correct her vision.  Gone is the social stigma attached to wearing glasses; they’re cool now.  “I got turquoise frames that you can see through Dad” she excitedly told me when she came home from the appointment.  “So – you’re not afraid of having your eyes checked anymore” I asked.  ‘No!” She said “Because now, I’ll look really smart and be able to see things clearly.”  I agreed both of those are good things.

The Apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the church in Corinth “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12).  That’s an interesting statement from a man who history has told us had significantly impaired eyesight.  Paul had to get nose to nose with a mirror to be able to see his reflection with limited clarity, but it wasn’t his own reflection he was writing about.  Paul longed to see and know his Heavenly Father’s image.  This was put into perspective for me when I learned how blurry my daughter’s vision was.  She told me for her to see my eyes clearly, she had to be close to me.

Some people have uncorrected twenty-twenty vision and still don’t see things clearly; the word “see” being used here as it pertains to understanding.  Sometimes, one needs to back away from something to get things to come into focus.  In other situations, one needs to “zoom in” and get close to see or understand the details.  However, in any case, Paul clearly made the point knowledge is crucial.  A friend of mine recently bought a new Lincoln MKX Crossover.  Although the car was able to learn his driving habits and adjust to him, he had to spend a couple of weeks studying the owner’s manual to be able to use the “hands free” mobile phone, climate controls and sophisticated audio system.  The car knew HIM, but HE didn’t know the car.  It became obvious he had to change the driving habits he had become accustomed to with his old car.

I’ve been listening to the song “Spirit of the Living God” by Meredith Andrews.  She sings about how the Holy Spirit changes us.  A verse in the song has seized my focused attention.  Andrews sings “Cause when you speak, when you move, when you do what only you can do, it changes us, it changes what we see and what we seek.” Have you ever glimpsed at something, and then looked again, but with a longer gaze, and seen something completely different from what you saw at first?  What changed?  Your vision changed because of closer study.  Did your new understanding cause you to change your mind or your actions?

We can travel down life’s road and not clearly see the passing scenery or the road signs before us.  Speed, distractions, bad directions and stubborn self-reliance can all combine to take us to the wrong destination, far from where we want to be.  The good news is, you can never be too far away for God to see you and guide you to Himself using the roadmap He created for your life.  The closer you get to Him, the better your vision and the surer your path will become.

© 2017 Curt Savage Media                                                                   curtsavagemedia.com

 

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Digging for the Pony

Muck Shovel

My mom shared something with me many years ago that radically changed, and possibly saved my life.  I was going through a rough spot in my career and was drowning under criticism and self-doubt.  Frankly, I was becoming very negative and bitter.  Her anecdote changed all of that.

A mother had twin sons.  Genetically, they were twins.  That’s where the similarities ended.  One child was always pleasant, and the other always difficult.  One was always happy and positive no matter the circumstances; the other always a thunder cloud full of negative ions waiting to emotionally explode.  Naturally, the two siblings were in a constant state of turmoil and tension between themselves and their poor mother found herself increasingly at her wits end.  She decided the only way to restore some sanity to her home was to seek professional counseling.  Maybe a psychiatrist could determine why the boys were emotional opposites.

While in the examining room, the boys were in full character.  The doctors held their chins and shook their heads.  “We’ve never seen anything like this” they told the boys’ mother.  They pinched the boys’ necks, stuck scopes in their ears, shined lights in the boys’ eyes, bonked their knees with rubber hammers and even turned the boys this way and that and end over end.  Nothing offered an explanation.  The one boy seemed to enjoy it all and the other hated it before it even began.  Finally, after much consideration, the doctors exclaimed “We have an idea!”.

The doctors modified and outfitted two observation rooms.  Their goal was trick the boys into experiencing emotional reactions opposite of their normal personalities.  They placed the unhappy brother in brightly painted room #1 and filled the room with video games, toys, candy, ice cream, a merry-go-round and a puppy.  The happy brother was dressed in a waterproof suit complete with hood, boots, gloves and goggles, and placed in room #2; a dimly lighted room with no sound or contents except enough horse manure to bury the boy up to his neck.  Now the doctors and the boys’ mother listened from outside the rooms and watched the boys through two-way-mirrored windows.

Within minutes it became evident the experiment wasn’t working as planned.  Crying and loud complaining emanated from room #1.  The doctors spoke into the intercom “Son.  What’s the matter?”  The miserable boy replied “This is terrible!  I don’t like these games, I hate the color of these walls, I have to use the money you left me to make the merry-go-round work and the puppy is begging for the ice cream – the flavor of which I do not like by the way!”.  The doctors were dumbfounded.  They switched the listening speaker to room #2 and heard the boy happily whistling.  The doctors asked “Son.  Is everything okay?”  “Yes. I’m fine” replied the boy.  “Do you want anything?” asked the doctors to which the boy simply replied “No.”  A few moments later the boy declared “On second thought, there IS one thing I’d like.”  The doctors thought they had succeeded in breaking him.  “What would that be?” the doctors asked with anticipation.  “A shovel please” replied the boy.  “Why a shovel?” asked the confused doctors. “We’ll, I’ve been thinking.  With all this horse manure, there must be pony underneath somewhere and I’m going to dig until I find it!”

© 2017 Curt Savage Media                                                                   curtsavagemedia.com

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Fly Like an Eagle

On America’s Independence Day, I’m contemplating the kind of freedom the Bald Eagle exemplifies.  Agur, the son of Jakeh, wrote in the Bible’s 30th Proverb “the way of an eagle in the sky is too amazing for me to understand”.  I agree with Agur.  Bald Eagles usually fly alone, can achieve speeds approaching 75 miles per hour and can soar to altitudes of up to 15,000 feet enabling them to fly over all but the highest mountain peaks in North America!  Their beautiful but fierce appearance and strength make them a great national symbol for America.

Fly Like an Eagle

My friend James Gresham lives in Washington State and is an amazing wildlife photographer.  His marine bird and Bald Eagle photos are some of the best I’ve ever seen.  With Bald Eagles nesting in Lawrence County now, I’m hoping to get a chance to take some of my own raptor photos.  While leaving church a couple of Sundays ago, I noticed a Bald Eagle gliding overhead, flying toward the Shenango River.  Considering the bird’s astonishing eyesight, it may have had an eye on a fish miles upstream.  It certainly wasn’t concerned with anything near me.  The eagle didn’t make a sound or flap its wings as it glided higher and father away until I lost sight of it.

While writing this, I heard familiar music on our street and ran out to get an ice cream sandwich from our favorite ice cream man Kevin Henry.  He and I got to chatting about how we both see so much of society when we’re driving around on our routes; some good things and some bad.  We both agreed it’s difficult to avoid getting bogged down by all the negative and easy to miss all the positive out there.  We must choose what we’re going to focus on.  This reminded me of that Bald Eagle from Sunday.  We considered how eagles fly high above all the little stuff on the ground and don’t get entangled in all sorts of things that could prevent them from flying.  If only we could “mount up with wings as eagles”.

The Steve Miller Band released the single “Fly Like an Eagle” in 1976.  This song has been used in more “freedom themed” commercials than just about any song I know of.  However, the “freedom song” contains an important message to catch.  In the lyrics are the words “Time keeps on slippin’ into the future.  I want to fly like an eagle, ‘till I’m free, Oh Lord through the revolution.  Feed the babies who don’t have enough to eat, shoe the children with no shoes on their feet, house the people livin’ in the street, oh, oh there’s a solution.”  With freedom comes a responsibility to use that freedom for unselfish ends; a responsibility to pursue freedom for those who don’t have it.  We should never take our freedom for granted.  Time is slipping away for hundreds of millions of people struggling to be free from hunger, poverty, slavery, oppression and persecution; people who are sometimes literally dying to taste our freedom.  This Independence Day, I hope our bonfires and fireworks illumine our minds with ways we can help those less fortunate to mount up with wings and fly free like eagles.

© 2017 Curt Savage Media                                                                   curtsavagemedia.com

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Fried Brains

Fried Brains

A lot of people are talking about the 2015 Paris Accord since the United States pulled out of the group of approximately 195 nations who originally signed onto the agreement.  I’m hearing a lot of fear and misinformation.  Fear and propaganda always create power leaders and billionaires.  When a large group of people are afraid or unable to think for themselves, a MUCH smaller group of people are going to become rich and powerful. Considering most of us are unwittingly under the influence of that “much smaller group”, “We the People” MUST corporately continue with the mission of being “America” in an increasingly hostile global theater, for there are many on this marble who jealously desire the loss of America’s sovereignty and even the cessation of our existence.

 

Why would I write such a thing?  Because it’s true.  What makes it true?  Globalism.  The concept of globalism has been around since Adam rose from the dust.  However, Adam’s idea of “the globe” was about the size of Mesopotamia – not that little Amish town in Geauga County, Ohio.   We’re talking about ancient Mesopotamia – Iraq, Kuwait & parts of Syria and Turkey – you know – the place the B-52’s sing about.  There was no way for anyone to affect, or even know about anyone on the other side of the Earth, so the other side simply didn’t exist in Adam’s mind because it didn’t affect him.  Such is not the case these days.  Man can now throw a missile at his enemy half way around the world in about an hour.  We can dispatch spoken or typed words much faster; words with the power to heal or harm.

I’m afraid we’re allowing frightening words to fry our brains.  Is there any discriminatory or original thought or independent and logical analysis anymore?  Or, is all reason and argument the regurgitated product of some global social engineering think tank?  I say the latter is true in most cases.  Without room to go into more detail, I beg you to consider the topic of globalism for yourselves.  Here are some waypoints on the timeline to consider; The formation of the United Nations in 1945, The formation of UNESCO in 1946 and the explosive expansion of globalism under the guise of environmental activism beginning in 1970. President Nixon, by Executive Order, created the EPA in 1970.  It is also not coincidental that the once conservative NEA emerged as a power player in modern liberalism and humanism in the 1970’s.

I was 9 on the first Earth Day in 1970.  I drew pictures of trees and displayed my “Ecology” book covers proudly.  I liked solar power before it was cool.  I loved Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax”.  However, I’m NOT into being played by Globalists who aren’t really in the game for their love of my children.  I know the U.S. produces copious amounts of pollutants.  The biased Paris Accord did little to change that and much to cripple our industry (including the manufacture of the majority of the world’s environmental products) and consequently stripped us of our sovereignty.  I have the common sense to know plundering and poisoning the Earth is bad for me and my neighbors.  We can “clean up our act” on our own without biased global mandates.  It’s time to get our brains out of the fryer.

© 2017 Curt Savage Media                                                                   curtsavagemedia.com

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A Very Different Liberty

Me and Naomi at Statue of Liberty May 2017 JPEG

While attending National Search and Rescue School on Governor’s Island, New York in 1982, I spent many late afternoons watching the sun set behind the Statue of Liberty.  The lure of Lady Liberty was unavoidable.  During my stay at Governor’s Island, I rode the ferry from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan to Liberty Island.  The visit was one of the most memorable “tourist moments” of my life.

She stood boldly in the middle of the harbor, unafraid and unthreatened, beckoning citizens and visitors from abroad alike to come and experience the freedom she proclaims.  My trip on the ferry was relaxing and the atmosphere once on her island was like that of a picnic in the park.  There were no crowds pushing or shoving.  I walked along uncrowded pathways and enjoyed a picnic with the lawn nearly to myself.  I climbed the stairs into Liberty’s crown with no interrogations or restrictions and stayed up there for what seemed like a long time taking in all the surrounding views.  I felt honored to be allowed the privilege of the experience.

I hadn’t been back to see the Statue of Liberty since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but I had been told the relaxed atmosphere was gone and for a time she was closed completely to tourists.  That made me sad to think Lady Liberty had been stripped of some of her freedom.  But, I thought “such is the cost of security” – the Statue of Liberty had to be protected should someone desire to do her harm.

We’ve studied the history of the Statue of Liberty as part of our homeschooling curriculum.  Our daughter has always been fascinated by the statue and had it on her list of places to go.  On a recent weekend trip, we were close enough for me to surprise her with a side trip to see Lady Liberty.  I was shocked by the changes I found.

We embarked from the New Jersey side.  Purchasing our tickets was easy.  However, when we entered the line for the ferry, that’s where everything changed.  We were funneled into a fenced security “corral” so to speak with about a couple of thousand other people from other cultures from all over the world.  “Personal space” vanished.  Pushing and shoving transitioned into me repeatedly elbowing the guy behind me in the solar plexus to keep him from crushing my daughter.  We were put through a “TSA style” screening before being allowed to board.  The ferry ride was the nicest part of the experience.  On Liberty Island, there were so many people it was difficult to take pictures of my daughter with the statue.  We couldn’t go into the base or up to the crown because we had not undergone additional Homeland Security screening to gain clearances allowing us to make the climb.

Getting back on the boat to return to shore was the same experience in reverse, only slightly more tolerable.  Regrettably, we needed to stop at the restrooms in the old railway ticket building on our way to the parking lot.  The sanitary conditions reminded me of the floors in an Ensenada jail.  Don’t ask.  We were glad to get in our Jeep and leave.  I understand globalism and 9/11 changed a lot of what America once was.  I guess I’ll just have to get used to a very different kind of Liberty.

© 2017 Curt Savage Media

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Filters

 

SONY DSC

Sitting at the Jeep dealership waiting for them to change the oil in my Patriot, I got thinking about various kinds of filters.  The quality and type of oil filter makes a BIG difference in how well your car’s engine will run and how long it will last.  The best filters keep out the most particles of destructive dirt and metal, preventing them from entering the engine where they could damage rings and bearings.  I like changing my car’s oil and filter myself, but I just don’t have the time or place to do it anymore.

A filter I don’t like to clean is the one on our vacuum cleaner.  We used to have a vacuum with a water tank filter.  That one could just be dumped without making much of a mess.  The vacuum we currently own is a different story; it’s bagless.  It has a transparent plastic canister with a foam element inside.  You can see the dirt and dust swirling around and building up inside.  If I’m not mindful of which way the wind’s blowing when I clean this filter, I can end up wearing the contents!  What kind of sadist would design something like this?

Furnace filters can also be kind of messy to change.  The brand I buy includes a little sticker.  The idea behind the sticker is, when I remove the old, dirty filter and install the nice, clean, new one, I’m supposed to write the installation and the “change filter” dates on the sticker and stick it on the side of the furnace.  I usually do that – then I forget about it.  That’s not really a problem.  When I hear strange noises in the basement and catch that “burning dust” smell every time the heat comes on, I think to myself “I wonder if the filter needs changed?”.

Computers use filters such as antivirus software and firewalls to prevent unwanted data from finding its way onto their hard drives and to prevent stored information from being stolen.

Even people have filters; or at least we’re supposed to.  Our livers and kidneys are filters, but I have a few other filters in mind; our eyes, our ears and even our mouths.  Remember that line from the movie Bridget Jones’s Diary when Mark Darcy tells Bridget “you tend to let whatever’s in your head come out of your mouth without much consideration of the consequences.”  There’s a lot of that going on these days.  The scary thing is, all that “static” is like a tidal wave of free radicals attacking our minds, our hearts, even our very souls.  If we don’t employ filtering mechanisms we can become emotionally, mentally and even physically plugged up with some destructive, and probably baseless, stuff.  Being informed is important, just like making sure an engine has enough oil, but your mental lubricant must be good oil, not snake oil.  Understanding is also important, but I don’t try to understand everything.  Doing so would be like dipping a furnace filter in wet cement and still expecting air to get through it.  The best filter I can employ these days for my eyes, ears and mouth is simply the short prayer from Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”

© 2017 Curt Savage Media

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