Dystopian Society

This is a 9th Grade writing assignment given to my Son, Aaron, that I thought would make great reading. It is a fictional account of a dystopian society with the US as a major player. He received an ‘A’ for the assignment and was told it would make a great video game. He truly does have a creative imagination!

I am very proud of him and wanted to share it with you. 

 

 

(Author’s note: Definitions are at the bottom, new countries and alliances are in italics, and descriptions of dystopia in certain places are underlined)

circa February 12, 2018

 

The US leaves the United Nations and abandons all of its other alliances as a result of the US Sovereignty Act, passed and enacted by the newly elected President after a year of intense deliberation and protest. Tensions in the States themselves start to escalate, rebellions against the horrid concept of ceasing humanitarian aid and obliterating alliances with allied countries utterly destroying streets, buildings, and unlucky vehicles that mistakenly drove into oncoming dissident crowds. These borderline terrorist offensives claim many lives and bring down the quality of life in New England, ravaging Providence, RI; Boston, MA; and Hartford, CT.

 

circa February 14, 2018

 

Of course, the Democrats in the US were not the only objectors around the globe to this law. Practically the entire world destabilizes, many without the US as an ally, resource, or fortress. With the departure of the US from the UN, many countries lose a defender to their ways of life. Lacking the US, the Middle East re-escalates, Israel no longer with a military alliance, leaves it susceptible to a war completely out of the blue. Russian-backed Palestine leads a full scale offensive against the Israeli state, eradicating the city of Tel Aviv and taking control of the coast. Russian warships roll into the Mediterranean from Tartus, Syria, while Israel is busy wiping the Gaza Strip from the map. Persistent naval strikes from the mortars on the Russian cruisers clear out the ravaged Gaza from Israeli occupation while Spetsnaz1 units disable the cities and the Palestinian Liberation Army (PLA) blows through Palsar 72 armored vehicles. Slowly the country starts to die, massive casualties across the board. Russia sets up defenses on the coast, blockading Israel’s coastline, while the PLA and the Spetsnaz set up defenses on the East border (Israel-Jordan).

 

All the while, the citizens of the US are forced to watch as their country, and the world, slowly falls to pieces.

 

As Israel rapidly falls down the Demographic Transition Model3, Turkey is not content to see it so. As a result, warships mobilize from Iskenderun Naval Base, located on the South end of Turkey, and sailed into the Mediterranean Sea to confront the naval blockade on Israel’s coastline.The Turkish navy, obviously being outmatched, gets destroyed by the Russian Navy, all the while Kurdish forces move into the east end of Turkey. Russia again sees another opportunity and decides to side with the Kurds and their conquest of Turkey. More Russian forces trickled down from their motherland, through Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, and assist the Kurds, supplying them with the necessary armaments, vehicles, and soldiers to pave their way toward Ankara, Turkey’s capital. It takes about a week for Russian-Kurdish forces to reach Ankara; by then, bound by military alliance, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria, as well as Palestine, join the war against Turkey and Israel, fearing the consequences if they do not. Iran, having ties to both Turkey and Russia, stays neutral. After another three days of fighting, Turkey falls to Kurdish control and is renamed Kurdistan. Palestine now fully annexes Israel and unites with Saudi Arabia, Kurdistan, Lebanon, and Syria, and creates the League of Russia and Arab States (LRAS).

 

New country: Kurdistan (Kurds take Turkey)

New country: Palestine (Palestine takes Israel)

New alliance: LRAS (Palestine, Russia, Lebanon, Syria, Kurdistan, Saudi Arabia)

 

circa March 18, 2018

 

The rest of the world watches in horror as Turkey and Israel fall, all in the span of one month. By now, it’s inevitable that the third World War is rising over the horizon. And like a long summer day, it will not end soon.

 

circa March 19, 2018

The world has began to prepare. The USA batters defensives, not wishing to fight, but not wishing to die. The UK conglomerates its SAS4 task force. Germany and France fire up some UAV5 drones. Japan starts training for possible bombings. Australia bolsters its defenses in tandem with New Zealand. However, on the other side of the economic spectrum, China undergoes a massive recession, now that the US has ceased trade with them. (The USA would soon be next) The value of the Yuan Renmimbi6 plummets, now one of the world weakest currencies, even surpassing the Vietnamese Dong. China is forced to withdraw all of its assets around the globe. Many American factories are retired, such as AT&T, and GE, leaving over 100 million without any sort of sustenance. The Chinese are forced to draw almost every fen7 from their military and recreational programs nationwide, pouring it all into relief centers for the now destitute population. The cities were hit the hardest, several bridges going down from disrepair. The bell starts to toll for the already poor, who die from malnourishment as a result of having a net worth of zero. Farmers are better off than the other poverty-stricken citizens, as they can support themselves. The taxes in the country are slammed onto the rich, steadily draining them of their savings, now that there’s no revenue from US companies for them. The government starts to fall, as money cannot be put into the basic necessities for a good standard of living.

 

Hong Kong and Taiwan are better off, but not my much. Their degree of autonomy from China allows them to drop a smaller fall, bringing them down to the status of a country like Brazil or South Africa. Despite this, they would still require much, much help in order to get back onto their feet.

 

circa March 20, 2018

 

The USA itself, one of the largest democracies in the world, has started to adjust to its new self-sufficiency act. However, the Fall of China did not leave it unscathed. Many stores around the nation had run dry, and many companies could no longer sustain themselves, and went bankrupt, possibly to return again. The stronger companies, such as Apple and Walmart, has the most money currently being pumped into them, stimulus spending allowing the US to slowly creep up again. Walmarts across the states started to rejuvenate, as well as Apple starts to rebuilt factories in the Rust Belt8, much to the happiness of cities like Detroit, MI; Chicago, IL; and East St. Louis, IL. The economy in those areas skyrocket, and the economic center in the US shifts from New England to the Rust Belt, now being called “Manifest Destiny”, as a homage to the name given to the movements of the 1800’s.

 

circa April 10, 2018

 

Many of the countries still in NATO are prepped for war. Canada lends its army for use in Europe, shipping about 5,000 soldiers to the UK, and 1,000 Quebecois to France. German and Polish forces mobilize, heading for Kurdistan, in an attempt to win Turkey back from Kurdish control. The UK sends its men to the Baltic states, specifically to Riga, Latvia; Vilnius, Lithuania; and Tallinn, Estonia, to assist with border defense from power hungry Russia. The French Armée de Terre9 rendezvous with the Ukrainian Ground Forces around the town Chaplynka, near the Ukraine-Crimea border, and set up a blockade.

 

New alliance: Baltic-British Force: (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, UK, Canada)

 

circa April 19, 2018

 

It is about a week later before the Russian ships, located in the naval city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, start sailing for West Crimea, and forces on the ground start pushing toward the border, holing up in Perekop, Crimea.

 

As the situation in Ukraine gets more intense, the Baltic-British forces start getting hammered from two sides, the British Army, Latvian Land Force, and Estonian Land Forces being bombed from above by planes from the Kaliningrad Chkalovsk air base, while British assisted Canadians and the LLF10 skirmish with the Border Service of Russia.

 

circa April 20, 2018

 

The Armée de Terre and Ukrainian Ground Forces are being pushed to their limits as the naval batteries from the Black Sea rain down rods from God at the Chaplynka stronghold. The Russians on the mainland in Crimea finally encroach onto then-undisputed soil, capturing cities like Myrne and Khorly along the way. It is then the GIGN11 and Ukrainian Spetsnaz12 are called in to Odessa, Ukraine, to take down the R-72, a missile cruiser raining death upon Chaplynka, and the R-63, an missile boat softening up the area as well. GIGN operative Julien Nizan, one of the youngest, takes down the R-63, and Ukrainian Spetsnaz operative Alina Sirko, the only female in the corp, takes down the R-72.

 

circa April 22, 2018

 

Despite the acts of Nizan and Sirko, the line at Chaplynka is broken, and French and Ukrainian forces fall back to Kiev, Ukraine’s capital.

 

circa April 23, 2018

With the combined efforts of the multinational armies in the Baltic states, Russian border guard cuts their losses and move away from the Estonia/Latvia/Lithuania-Russia border. Kaliningrad doesn’t have the luxury of retreat, and falls to the British, Latvian, and Estonian forces.

 

circa April 27, 2018

 

The Baltic-British forces occupy Kaliningrad, which is soon to be split between the Baltic states. The resulting friendship between the three Baltic states results in the merging of all three countries, the end product being Baltica, the star of Northern Europe, and a now strong army.

 

New country: Baltica (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania)

 

circa May 3, 2018

 

Most of Ukraine has been seized by Russia, befalling the same fate that Crimea did, the only land that had not been plagued with control was on the Ukraine-Belarus border and the city of Kiev. Once prosperous cities, like Odessa, reduced to absolute shells of their former selves, slaves broken under the might of Russia. More French forces were deployed, in addition to Ukrainian forces and newly joined Belarusian forces. Though the joined power of these three, Kiev stays secure, and through the Treaty of Kiev and a local and national referendum, Kiev and the surrounding area is “annexed” by Belarus, in an agreement to keep the capital under wraps.A spark of hope in a well of imprisonment. Many awoke May 3rd to find they were no longer in Ukraine, now but dirt under the boot of the Motherland.

 

New state: Belarus and Kiev

 

As for the aforementioned German and Polish forces, the city of Istanbul, Kurdistan is their home. Walking through the streets as a German soldier, one might find beggars, asking for anything to be put on their plates or in their pockets. Or you might find corpses, as the Kurdish government does not seems too interested in keeping the Turkish population alive. Some may stay alive by finding work as an architect, rebuilding anything that was destroyed in the fighting. But they always kill the Turkish, no matter what you do. It can’t be helped. They think of what might have been, wondering if a peaceful cooperation with the Kurds might have left their pristine country flourishing and prosperous. Of course there are the rebels, the ones who fight against the Kurds. They may be few, but it only takes one spark to start a forest fire.

 

The German and Polish forces, affectionately dubbed arkadaş, Turkish for friend, by the rebellion, they devised a plan to revoke the capital Ankara, by rolling down the E80 highway with heavy armor, then storming the Presidential Complex, the home of the president, who is most likely dead.

circa May 4, 2018

 

Arkadoş forces roll down the E80, the Germans with GTK Boxer armored anti-personnel trucks, the Polish with Leopard 2PL main battle tanks, and the Turkish rebels with improvised battle trucks, in reality just white vans with a whole lot of guns. The convoy is stopped by Kurdish forces in Turkish tanks around the city of Bolu, Kurdistan, but just like a pendulum, when a tank starts movin’, it ain’t stoppin’. The first of the Kurdish tanks is bulldozed by a Leopard, while one of the Battle Vans takes a 3A1 machine gun round straight to the tire, causing it to somersault through the air, until receiving a 120 mm tank round to the undercarriage, stopping it dead in its tracks. Another Kurdish tank erupts as one of the Boxers’ tank guns blow through the metal, causing iron splinters and molten steel to slowly cascade toward the ground as the height of the explosion catches up to the pieces of the destroyed tank. The last Kurdish tank dispatches a Boxer, before one of the Battle Vans clips a billboard, sending the tall advertisement screaming down to the Kurdish tank below. A victorious detonation can be witnessed from the downed tank as the rest of the Boxers, Leopards, and Battle Vans continue to Ankara.

 

circa May 5, 2018

 

Kiev is scared. Despite having the Belarusians and French on their side, they have witnessed atrocities no man should ever see. They should be living the high life, safe and secure under a flag of green and red. Though, many cannot think about anything other than the rest of their state. Ukraine hasn’t been though this since they were part of the Soviet Union. And to be honest, it’s like nothing’s changed. The government is oppressive, outright denying anyone who states that Ukraine is independent. The volatile Russian government has even started hiring “Protectors of the Will”, juggernauts armed with tear gas, flashbang grenades, and light machine guns, ready to be deployed anywhere in Russian-controlled Ukraine to soften up the unbelievers. Armed brigades patrol the highways, making sure no one attempts to seek out Belarus and Kiev as a safe haven. The average person better not leave their homes, CCTV is everywhere, having been installed shortly after the invasion. If it takes Russia two days to CCTV Ukraine, imagine what they can do to Belarus and Kiev.

 

circa May 6, 2018

 

Baltica currently amps up their defenses on the Baltica-Russia border. Kaliningrad, taken after the Battle of Baltica, is divvied up amongst the provinces of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. They have decided to treat them well, as of right now, but they have no plans to keep Kaliningrad for too long. Its citizens, while separated from the mainland, still have Russian blood flowing through them. Baltica promises force will only be used in dire straits, but the Russians certainly have a lust for blood. Multiple rebellions have already taken place, the average citizen not wanting to be controlled by a country its Motherland considers inferior to itself. Short on money? Well, the Russians are certainly happy to pay you for distributing arms around the city to fight the Baltic-British force keeping them stuck.

 

As for the Arkadoş, the city of Ankara is in their reach. The Türk Telekom tower, the tallest building in Ankara, can faintly be seen over the horizon. The Arkadoş forces pave their way down the barren streets of Kurdistan, dispatching the occasional armed truck or platoon of militia. When the Arkadoş forces finally reach the Presidential Complex, they are met with a plethora of heavy armored vehicles, provided by the LRAS. Looks like the Middle East was one step ahead of them. Arkadoş forces must turn tail and reconvene elsewhere as the LRAS tanks fire a volley of shots at them, one taking out a Boxer, another slamming into the back of one of the Battle Vans.

 

circa May 8, 2018

 

The citizens of the USA are restless. Many have heard about the war in Europe and the Middle East. World War 3 is a reality, and no one likes just sitting around. Already, many states, particularly around New England, have systematically tried again and again to dome the president in the face with a sniper rifle. Presidential Executive orders has been sending troops to the devastated cities, mostly in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and the Long Island, with cities like Philadelphia and New York nesting grounds for these troops. Of course, the troops themselves aren’t happy about this either. Some do not use force when dealing with the assassins, provided they do not retaliate. Many simply let them do their thing, not content with the presidency either.

 

All that’s been on the average person’s mind lately is to end him. Even some other countries are debating it, including Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, who have already sent hitmen to the Capital, to see if they can end the suffering that the US has caused to the world. Everyone understood, not even the President’s own deathsquads resisted. But no one thought they could pull it off.

 

later that day

 

The click of a rifle bolt sliding into place echoed through the vacant top floor of the Pleasant Song Apartment Building, north of the White House Balcony. The president typically comes out at this time, hell if the sniper knew why. Though, that would be rendered irrelevant in a few moments. The gunman turned the dial on the scope ever so slightly, giving him a full view of the President’s features. He slowly eased onto the trigger, with bated breath as he did so. The trigger whined with resistance, losing the battle with the marksman’s gloved  finger. The trigger finally gave, and an ear shattering crack split the air as a .50 BMG sabot sailed toward the unsuspecting president’s face. Time seemed to slow as the bullet soared ever so closer.

 

At last, a plume of crimson could be seen exuding from the head of the now dead man, as the bullet finally found its place in the universe: embedded in the cranium of a evil man. The lifeless body hits the floor as a breath is released from the gunman. Job done, the assassin leaves the complex, the only trace of anyone being there being a white flag, emblazoned with a single, red dot in the middle.

 

circa May 10, 2018

 

The world had heard the news, the United States President was dead, by Japan’s hand. Many praised the country, for ending the life of the man who had started this mess. Japan resented the praise responding with the statement “We can only say that we killed a man who truly thought he was doing the right thing for his country. Who are we to decide that?”

 

Regardless, this was no time for mourning. In the USA, the Vice President unceremoniously took control of the government, as there was “no time for formalities”. Immediately after the assassination, he started to make negotiations with the other countries on the UN and NATO, expressing his desire to “make amends” and rejoin the alliances. With things growing more tense in Kurdistan, and Belarus and Kiev, he, along with Australia, sent troops to Kurdistan, while Japanese and New Zealanders were sent to Belarus and Kiev.

 

circa May 11, 2018

 

Arkadoş forces have fallen back to Bolu, Kurdistan, upon witnessing the horrors of the LRAS stationed at the Presidential Complex. Much to their chagrin, they have lost most of the rebels and a German vehicle. The morale has gone down much, confused on what’s next. The head of the squadron radios into German command, and is taken aback to hear that M1 Abrams tanks and AC-130 heavy gunships are moving into Ankara as they speak.

 

The Arkadoş forces are happy to hear the triumphant sound of the American AC-130’s 105 mm rounds hammering into the Presidential Complex and the Australian Abrams’ M68A1 tank rounds hollowing out the LRAS vehicles. The echoes of gunfire resound around the area like a fast paced drum beat that a teenager would listen to, as helicopters fly in to deploy the kill squads that would take care of Masoud Barzani, the president of Kurdistan, who oppresses the citizens of Turkey on a daily basis.

 

Once the LRAS tanks are nothing more than bits of metal adorned with blood splatters, the AC-130 lets up from its intensive shelling of the Complex, the kill squads roll in.

 

circa May 12, 2018

 

A group of three American soldiers traverse the dark hallways with night vision on, glass and wood cracking beneath their feet. The lights will flicker on every once in awhile, temporarily stunning the trio. It seems that the AC-130 really devastated the place. All the group found was leagues of corpses in every room they searched. After an hour of unsuccessful searching, they came upon the president’s quarters. Audible struggling could be heard, so the group had to act fast. The muted hiss of a zipper’s teeth unfastening could be heard as one of the soldiers produced a breaching charge from a backpack. He steadily planted it on the door as the struggling grew quieter. A deafening silence could be heard as the trio inaudibly counted down from five. As the trio hit one, the sound of a hammer being pulled back echoed through the room as the charge blew the second after. They stormed the room to find that Kurdish President Barzani was holding a gun to Turkish president Erdoğan’s head, not that it mattered when Barzani was dead before he hit the floor.

 

circa May 13, 2018

 

Friendly forces, including New Zealand and Japan, stationed in Kiev were running out of ideas. All of their attacks on various cities around Kiev had failed. They simply could not penetrate Russia-controlled Ukraine’s defenses. They wondered if there was any hope.

 

Hope came in the form of a last resort. The UK was prepared to be the second country to ever use nuclear weapons in warfare. One missile silo was open,  payload poised to hit Moscow, Russia. This was the deal breaker.

 

circa May 20, 2018

 

The order had come. Moscow was ready to be erased from the map, similar to shaking an Etch-a-Sketch to begin anew. With unanimous agreement from NATO (including the USA), Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and China, the world stopped turning as the cruel bomb was sent into the atmosphere. Dubbed “The Punchline” as an end to Russia’s destructive joke, it hit Moscow a mere 45 seconds later, annihilating it from any sort of map. Trees were flattened. The ground was shattered. Ash outlines of people burned onto the buildings that still stand.

 

All that was left was to wait.

 

The declaration of surrender came a day later.

 

1Spetsnaz: an umbrella term for special forces in Russia and is used in numerous post-Soviet states12.

2Palsar 7: an armored reconnaissance formation of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).

3Demographic Transition Model: a model that describes population change over time.

4SAS: the Special Air Service, special forces in the UK.

5UAV: Unmanned Air Vehicle.

6Yuan Renmimbi: the currency in China. The yuan is the single unit of money, comparable to the dollar in terms of rank.

7Fen: the Chinese equivalent of a US cent.

8Rust Belt: a region in the US comprising Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Illinois, that housed many of the country’s factories before the US globalized.

9Armée de Terre: the army of France.

10LLF: the Lithuanian Land Force.

11GIGN: the Groupe d’intervention de la Gendarmerie nationale, special forces in France.

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So Simple…a Knock

Wood crackled and hissed as the fireplace radiated its soothing warmth throughout the living room inviting toes, once frozen, to bath in the toasty warmth only a hearth fire can bring. Earl Grey set steeping on the side table as I sat mesmerized, gazing into the fire lazily relaxing from a morning jaunt outside, ignoring the book that lay on the sofa next to me waiting for its opening letting me dive into today’s reading. Sleepily I opened the pages and began to read…when suddenly I was interrupted by a knock at the door. Curious, I made my way to the front hall wondering who might be standing at the door of my warm sanctuary.

Our lives can get hectic, moving this way or that, never really stopping or slowing down. Phone calls, text messages and social media have taken the place of interpersonal one on one conversations, so that when we finally do come face to face with someone we fidget with our cell phones dying to crawl back into our digital world. Friendly visits, Potlucks and Game Night have given way to the glow of our devices displaying Facebook, Instagram and online gaming acting as the means that we communicate with our friends and family. All the while we disconnect and throw away lost the art of fellowship.

Take for example the door knock, itself giving way to push buttoned intercoms, security guards and video monitoring. Long before the advent of any of this the proper way to announce yourself at someone’s dwelling was to walk up to the door and knock. It took commitment. It took planning and… it took…. but a second. One second to let the party behind the door know that you were waiting for them to acknowledge your presence and open their lives to yours and you too theirs. It all began with one simple gesture…a knock on a piece of wood.

Conversely, for the person inside all they had to do was open the door and receive whatever awaited them. Be it good news or bad they also had a choice to make, either open the door or ignore its beckoned call. Sometimes theirs was the harder choice, as with our sleepy friend in the opening paragraph, we also must stop what we are doing and receive those waiting for the door to be answered and this is the part of fellowship that our phones, computers and video screens can’t provide. In our quest to be immersed in the world and striving to not miss anything, we lose the possible surprises or disappointments that may be on the other side of the door depriving ourselves of what we really need…interpersonal relationship one with another.

I remember a game that several of my friends had put together one summer evening, where we would divide into teams and starting at one person’s home eat finger foods and share a few stories from our day. At the appointed time, we would all pile into a couple of vehicles and make our way to another friend’s home for a sit-down meal, all the while competing in teams to answer questions about some random subject all culminating at a dessert filled living room of yet another compatriot that relished in our company. Throughout the entire evening everyone got to share in the lives of folks that otherwise might not have been shared without that game. It took planning, commitment and a willingness to be vulnerable. It was the best!

As I write this, Christmas Season is upon us. Our days are filled with anticipation for Christmas Day festivities that will hopefully include spending quality time with long forgotten family and friends, attending Worship Services and spend some time disconnected from the electronic tether that controls our lives. The Bible’s Book of Revelation, Chapter 3, verse 20 states, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with Me.” Now is the time to not only open our lives to our friends but also to the God that created us all. For He is the One knocking at the door of our hearts beckoning us to Him and drawing us to understand His Son Jesus’ sacrifice so that we can once again have fellowship with Him.

Why did I come into this room again?

ContemplationHave you ever wondered if you might have missed something? We have all experienced the stray thought that flashes into our consciousness that questions what we are doing at that very moment. We question why we might have walked into a room, bought a certain type of snack or simply forgot to turn off the “coffee pot”. In most cases we quickly regain our train of thought and continue on to the task at hand but, there are other times when the wonderment causes you to take another look and evaluate the choices that you have made or are in the process of making.

Our lives become an open book as we systematically break down our every decision, comparing the playbook of our minds and assigning weight to each outcome that our choices produced. All of a sudden that choice to change jobs 20 years ago or the type of home you purchased comes into full view and you pick apart each critical junction of that path you chose. Problem is, hindsight is not always 20/20! We tend to forget that our lives are not always our own. Spouses, kids, family and friends all have a part to play in our decision making. Usually the one person we tend to forget is the One that knows us better than anyone previously considered….God.

His plan is the one that is set in stone and He knew our inward parts even before the breath was in our brand new lungs. Psalm 139:13-16, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depth’s of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”  Even though we think that we are in control we really aren’t. Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”  Call it what you want, divine guidance, karma, intuition or dumb luck, each of us has been guided along according to His plans.

Now, I know that some of you may quickly dismiss that suggestion as pure nonsense but that still doesn’t change the fact that it is true. We were created for fellowship with God but mankind decided that not obeying God was a better choice, yet, even that was in God’s plan. He knew that we could not live apart from our sin and no matter how hard we tried we could never live up to His perfect standard. You see, God is Love but He is also Just and our sins cannot go unpunished. Every action has consequences. You can’t pick and choose which attribute you want to accept from God. It is all or nothing. Ephesians 1:3-10, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”  

So the next time you stop to consider your life’s many paths and roadways consider this, God really does have an amazing plan for your life. You just have to stop and let Him tell you what it is; like a roadmap the Bible is a good place to start.

Feel free to comment…

 

…Cry Baby

This morning I had an unusual experience, one that doesn’t happen to me often….scratch that…never happens to me. I was flying on a packed airplane out to a training program in Memphis. Busy with weary and hurried travelers our focused flight attendants slammed packed us in like sardines, making me wonder if the training they received started off in Maine packing house. As I made my way to my seat I realized that in the seat right behind me was a screaming child. I nervously glanced at my boarding pass and back to the seat number hoping that this wasn’t for me. Nope! Lucky Me!

Now if you have ever sat in the same space as a screaming child you know what I mean. Sobs, wails and screams continuously filled the cabin with decibels that only a Foley board operator would like. Earbuds and head phones alike were produced and plugged into whatever electronic devise that you might have had with you, drowning out the last vestige of earths end and giving the wearer the muffled bliss that those, who had not, longed for. Our distraught child’s beleaguered Mom was simply over powered to help.

What do you do?! I looked through my carry-on bag multiple times swearing up and down that I packed “those things” but, in the end I was left to endure the onslaught that my ears were powerless to avoid. It took everything I had to ignore it, all to no avail. I tried to read….and ended up reading the same line 5 times. I looked through the seat pocket hoping that a ‘complimentary’ headphone was there…no luck there. I was still trying to be the mature one and tolerate it but I was envisioning two more hour of this and wondering if my maturity would hold. What next? I know…Ill pray.

It’s a funny thing when you go to God with that type of petition. How all at once you realize that it’s not about you. God had allowed me to be in this situation so I can understand that He is in control. Psalm 139 tells me that He is right there with me and that He knows all my ways. If so, then this was not a surprise to Him. But, that was not the only thing He wanted me to understand. I was so involved in feeling bad for myself that I completely lost sight of the fact that the child’s Mom must have felt absolutely terrible. She had to know that all eyes were on her and her child. Twice the Flight Attendant had to come to the seat and admonish the child to sit down and buckle his seat belt; Mom herself told the child to please stop crying and I am not sure but I thought I heard the sound of a muffle ‘smack’ as a last ditch effort to subdue the little guy.

I am quite convinced that everyone on the plane, at least those within 10 rows of the ruckus, wanted that mother to “shut that kid up!” Of course, we as a civilized society would never, or should never, say those things out loud. What undoubtedly made matters worse was that this family was clearly Muslim and given the happening’s around the world these days many of us on this plane had no compassion toward this small family. Including me. Yet, God quicken to my mind the plight of this Mom and her kids and used it as an object lesson.

Now, as it turned out the child fell asleep as the flight progressed and was quiet for the bulk of the flight. However my questions remained. So much so that I wrote this blog during the flight. Why did I not think of them first? Where was my compassion? Unfortunately, we as a fallen people tend to think of ourselves first and put others second most of the time. Even as Christians our needs become predominantly the most important things to us and that needs to change. Who knows, perhaps I could have helped if I had thought of their needs instead of mine. In this case who was the biggest “Cry-Baby”? Hopefully, if this situation presents itself again I will look past my discomfort and take the upper hand. I do thank God for His grace and His reminder that I am saved by Grace and not infallible. Now, on a final note I did help this young Mom with her bags when were disembarking the plane…..yes…baby steps.

When Hope is Sometimes Forgotten

Sometimes God speaks to me in the most unusual ways. I don’t expect it and I don’t plan for it, I just get it. For me, at least, those are the best times and usually the ones I always refer to later on when I need to.

A few weeks ago I decided to spend the morning at Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and explore some of the areas that I haven’t been to before. Not that my usual hiking spots were not still great, they are; but Tosohatchee is huge and begs to be studied and this day at least I am eager to oblige.

Sandhill Colt copyHiking for me is an event that keeps me in touch with nature and with this amazing creation that God has entrusted us. Perhaps that is why I am a nature photographer enthusiast. It gives me the opportunity to reflect and think about the many different things going on with my life, both outwardly and inwardly. Whether it be related to work, family, photography or spiritual matters, spending time “out there” on a hiking trail is a wonderful way to relax.

I made my way toward the St. Johns River and decided on one of the adjacent paths to begin my hike. I am not even sure of the trail name, I just know that I had to cross a wooden bridge to get to it. Like any hiking trail in Florida it offered much of the same. Brilliant green mosses shown on the trucks of trees, birds chattered and insects flitted to and fro. Thick Hammocks aligned the trail path often causing me to wonder how the Native Indians and early settlers cut through the thick underbrush back in their day.  Ignoring the intense humidity I focused on my trek being careful to follow the trail markers remembering the one time I lost track of them and got very lost, but that is a whole different story.

Since I always have my camera with me I stopped occasionally to make a picture or two. Today’s menu included Orb Weaver Spiders and what I like to call, “Mini-Scapes”. Now you are probably wondering just what a Mini-Scape is. It is a small collection of subjects meant to give the viewer a rough Idea of what I am looking at. It can be moss on a palm stump or a patch of ferns…anything really. It was during this hike that I poured my heart out to God asking for help in my everyday walk.

Usually I pray and I generally wait quietly before He answers me; but this day He brought to mind my favorite Bible passage and it was like He was standing right in front of me, in the flesh as it were. I knew, immediately, that He had answered. My favorite verse? Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” I knew right then that I was too busy trying to figure out my own way and that I had taken my eyes off of Him and in doing so I found myself looking at everything other than God. Once I put my focus back on Him I know that everything will fall into place. Needless to say tears started to well up and I got that lump in my throat kind of feeling and I knew that He had answered my cry.

PloversJesus says that He will never leave not forsake me…how long before I let go and let Him guide and Shepherd me? It seems that this lesson is one that I always have to repeat. I imagine that He and I will have this conversation again sometime down the road…at least until I get to Heaven. Perhaps you are going through something in your life that you need God to handle. I would suggest that you simply tell Him. You will be surprised on His response.

Decompress….

Today I started vacation and trust me it is very much needed! But the question I have to answer myself is what to do with myself for the next 10 days? Sure I plan on making photographs and spending time with the family but what am I gonna do to decompress?

Too often in this Helter Skelter world we forget that we need down time and we need it more than we think. Our daily lives are bombarded with so many different tasks and requests that we do not allow ourselves time to remember that we are only as good as our ability to process. If we get so bogged down we will shut down and we will be no good to anyone including ourselves.

In the Gospel of Matthew 6:25-33 He tells us, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

I know this, when i take my eyes off of Him I generally fall flat on my face. So the bottom line is this….relax and spend time with God. That is my plan for this week.Sandhill Colt copy

Why We Do what We Do

An interesting thing happen this morning at my usual photographic hang-out. I came to the realization that a 2 ounce little bird can control the actions and hold in its tiny little wings the lives of 12 grown adults. Not only does it control our busy lives but we PLAN to be taken over by this Cantankerous little feathered nemesis! (or would it be nemesis’es since she is a female Kingfisher??.. is there such a word?). Hypnotic LadyHot, cold, rainy, foggy, and perhaps even snow (if we could get snow down here in Central Florida) won’t stop us in our pursuit of this little hypnotist and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Welcome to our world.

As I prepare for another year of, hopefully, exciting images I have to ask my self why I do what I do. It is an interesting question and one that I have asked myself several times over the last several years. For me, waking up before the crack of dawn every Saturday when I am not working at my regular job, and lugging around 20 pounds of camera gear every day whether I am working or not,  just so I can capture the perfect image is a thing of passion. Passion not for the sake of photography but passion about the wonder of Gods creation and a desire to share it with an over worked, highly stressed world that doesn’t take the time to “see” what I and many of my friend photographers see on a regular basis. Hopefully bringing with my images the thought of a single question, “Who made this world around us?”

In answering that question we have to look to Gods Word, The Bible, to find an answer. In the Book of Romans, the apostle Paul, led by the Spirit writes, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Rom. 1:20 By viewing creation and its wonders we are forced to ask the question of who made it knowing deep down that “something or someone” bigger than us is at work here.

Ice CreamBy viewing creation we see the intricate patterns of leaves, we are amazed at the butterflies wing patterns and we can observe the mating of birds and other creatures than happen the same time each and every year. We smell the saltiness of the oceans and hear the crash of the waves as they perform their lunar dance. We are marveled by the stars in the sky and are heart broken at the loss of a beloved pet hoping that we will see them again in a better place. In most cases we are unaware of the creative force behind all of these wonders and this brings me back to my opening.Morning Love Call

I do what I do so that I can hopefully cause the viewer of my images to see a loving, just, and forgiving God who provided His Son as a way of escape for those who believe in Him. By understanding creation and taking in its wonder we can see that God planned for and plans His creation, including us, so that we can see His great love.