All posts by bentonquesthouse

About bentonquesthouse

Husband, father, grandfather, singer, songwriter, seminar leader, pastor. A provoker. A reader and writer of books.

Last Time I Visited First Grade

This was first posted when our college freshman granddaughter was in first grade.

Carole worked as a teacher’s aide some years ago. Our daughter has picked up the mantle. One of the true high points of my life was the weekly lunch dates at school when I ate with Carole and her class. They would ask, “Mrs. Benton is your Daddy coming to eat lunch today?”

First grade granddaughter invited me to eat lunch with her. I went early to visit her classroom. We have become acquainted with her teacher for whom we pray and like a lot. We have gotten to know some of the kids thru Hannah’s reports of who got into trouble and which kid cried and which one was sick. Hannah is a missionary to first grade. I’ve watched her encourage a kid on the playground, and I’ve seen her put her hand on the shoulder of a little girl who was crying for her mom. The morning drive to school includes blessing of each other. (I blessed Hannah today: “I bless you with a day without wedgies.” That appears to be a universal first grade concern. She blessed me with a day without offensive coffee breath.) It also includes praying for specific kids in her class who struggle, hurt or are in constant trouble.

Carole and Debi have kid magnets under their skin. They attract first graders. I watched as boys and girls rushed to hug Carole. What surprised me was the kids who got lost and found themselves coming to me to ask my name and to tell me life stories. A couple of them hugged me. I came away a little shaken by the raw, open need and how much a bit of attention will pay. A girl said to me, “You’re nice.” I was self-conscious about that. Where’d she get that idea and why hasn’t she told some of the adults in my world?

Carole says that Levi always hugs her. I watched as several of the kids hugged her. I didn’t need a spiritual gift of discernment to see that she was a safe place for them and invested something in them that they weren’t getting anyplace else.

I could never make it through first grade. All the rules!! So many rules! If you can successfully negotiate first grade, you’ve got it made.

We’ve been evaluating Hannah’s voice and reminding her to use her “indoor voice.” I decided the other day that Hannah’s voice has the texture of a kidney stone. It can cut through a diamond. Now I know why. We had a terrific lunch. I failed first grade lunch line. Only with the help of two adults and two kind first graders did I make it to the table with the hamburger, sack of carrots, a carton of white milk and a cookie. That’s when I learned rules about eating lunch. The noise level in the cafeteria will cause ear damage. Hannah instructed me about tray clearing and struck terror in me as I contemplated what would happen if I put the paper refuse in the wrong bin. Two rules especially seem to be most important. First, you can’t scream at kids at the next table. That seemed unlikely since communicating with people at our own table demanded screaming. The second important rule was that throwing hamburger buns at the next table was also not allowed. It was at the point of instruction that the wheels started to come off. Hannah was so serious and punishment so palpable, I allowed my smile to break into a chuckle which got totally out of control. Then Carole caught the giggle bug. There are no rules about laughing at lunch. We would have been busted for sure.

This is not my first trip to the lunchroom. Each time, I want to thank the lunch ladies for speaking each kid’s name and treating them with affection and dignity. Parents who never visit classrooms or eat lunch with the first graders haven’t a clue the investment the teachers make in their kids. (Hannah’s teacher spends her own money to buy school supplies. Who would guess that?) The noise I can live without, but two events made me glad to be alive: The laughter and Joseph. Joseph wears a left ear ring, dirty shirt and likes martial arts. He followed me thru the lunch line and asked if he could sit with me. He must have thought I needed the special attention.

Oh God! Be with the Josephs and Levis today. And fortify the teachers. All of them. Every grade.

Copyright 2017 D. Dean Benton


Want Fries with your Hemlock Sandwich?

Trying to take seriously the 4-principle test for communication: True? Kind? Necessary? Clear? Something in the Ethernet world grinds on me about the “Sandwich” Test. I’ll try—true, kind, necessary, clear.

A young Australian wife/mother asked her closed Facebook network (26,000) what they put in their husbands brown bag lunch. She was charged with—“Making a sandwich for your husband is a crime against feminism” and setting feminism back several decades. She was labeled as “a slave and a 1950s housewife.” The daughter of a professional feminist (article author’s phrase) said and published upon finding she was pregnant with a boy: “I felt sick at the thought of something male growing inside of me.”

The spirit of the replies is captured by this: “I was married for 20 years and my favourite packed lunch for my husband was called ‘Get it yourself’ with a side order of ‘I’m not your mother.’”

I can’t quite get a handle on what has been set loose in me by this. Let me be straight with you. I never ask my wife to make me a sandwich. The truth is I love it when she does because she makes a much better sandwich that I do. She adds garnish and care. It is not about bread and baloney; it expresses appreciation and concern for my well-being. My step-mother won my heart with the care she put into peanut butter sandwiches she made for me. Carole’s sandwiches just taste better. Her observation may say it all: “Obviously, these women have not yet met a man for whom she wants to offer the best….”

If feminism rests on the legal scales of a sandwich, the sandwich is a non-issue. It is about hatred for men and the desire that men be erased from the earth. If this defines feminism, then burn your membership card. It marginalizes feminism and makes it an example of worst stereotype.

There is a slice of meanness in me that wants to declare, If wife or any female would say the nasty things about me and sandwiches, I would pack my jar of Skippy peanut butter and sourdough bread in my briefcase and leave the building.

Andy Stanley preached this weekend about “Women submit…husbands love…” from Ephesians 5. Both admonishments were as subversive and counter-culture as anything in the First Century world. Stanley says we are challenged to “Rush to the back of the line.” Not everyone is required to seek to serve each other, just followers of Jesus and those who desire to maintain a great marriage.

While studying Abraham and his women—Sarah and Hagar—I have understood why Sarah might say, “Fix your own falafel” There are boorish men who earn the kind of contempt that the women above might revert to. What I’m reading in this 21st Century Sandwich hostility is contempt and hatred for all males. That does not end well historically for anyone—for individuals, cultures and nations.

Please allow me: Guys, if you want female fingerprints on your sandwich, go to the pantry several times over the next fifteen minutes. Look around—360—up and down and make a low moan/whimper, then leave the pantry with a loud sign. A loving wife will become concerned and will say, “Can I make you a sandwich?” If that doesn’t work, go to Arby’s.

©2017 D. Dean Benton

Calming Quivering Nerve Endings

Dr. Mark Chironna posted today:

“Cycles of history indeed do repeat themselves, and we are in one of those cycles. The current crisis in our society is usually an indication of a culture in collapse.”

He repeats what I’ve read from several historians. One historian lists five societal behaviors of the Roman Empire as it collapsed. Western culture presently matches all five. Chironna quotes 1 Chronicles 12:32:

“Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do. Two hundred chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command.”

Issachar has always been one of my heroes. He exhibited the tribe I wanted to be voted into. It is not enough to be a person who understands the times. We need people around us who also know what to do.

Needed: men and women who understand the times and know what to do.

Writer and political journalist (and Jesus follower) Kirsten Powers wrote a few days ago in the Washington Post that the words “thoughts and prayers” are sounding profane. Others expanded on her words to say we don’t need “thoughts and prayers,” we need action.

If we are “in the world, but not of the world,” some of us should have the Issachar spirit and gifting. Among the liberal and conservative ideas, solutions, strategies and call to “action” a Kingdom strategy should be seen and heard above the politics and agendas. A prophetic call is always a better idea than the status quo. It speaks of healing, forgiveness and a way forward.

Stephen Mansfield today issued a prophetic word about the gun issues.

“Fix the problem from within, or it’s going to get fixed for you from the outside.”

He added, “And you probably won’t like it!”

Hurricanes, earthquakes, wars, rumors of wars and a laundry list of cultural battles. And we can name every one of them. Harvey, Maria, NFL, “Knee,” and now Vegas and another storm heading for the Gulf Coast on the weekend. The heart-gripping trauma du jour. “What next?!”
Not having any control and the anxiety that one of these times the target is going to be on our backs, we face a question:

How do I shepherd my heart through this?

For forty years I pushed Inter-generational Sunday school & small groups. My family has pointed to that experiment as their best Sunday School experience. Granddaughter Hannah, now in college, is involved in an Inter-generational Sunday gathering and vocalizes what I knew was possible.

“How do we shepherd our hearts?”
1. Involvement in inter-generational, inter-racial, inter-culture gatherings.
2. Use of porches and decks and tables to talk, listen and share pain and dreams.
3. Personal quiet places to pray, think, listen to God’s ideas and views.
4. Discipline about amounts of news intake.
5. Plans for positive soul-sculpting—reading or audio books, positive music and a spiritual director.
6. Don’t call people names. Nancy Sinatra says that all members of the NRA should face firing squads. It is easier to call for the assassination of people who have never sat at your table or with whom you have not sought to understand. “Seek to understand before seeking to be understood.” (Stephen R. Covey)

What has worked in the past? What works for your maturing friends? Try it.
Not an exhaustive list. It is a call to Soul Tending

come put your feet under our table.
©2017 D. Dean Benton

Seen My Anchor?

Dormant DNA. I had never heard or paid attention to that phrase. Having heard it, all kinds of dots connected. At least tentatively. It began with an interview with Mitch Prinstein about his research and discoveries as he wrote the book Popular.

He says that we carry dormant DNA which wasn’t always dormant. There was a time in human history when being part of the herd helped secure our safety. If we were excluded or feared being ostracized or exiled, the brain opened up a section of the DNA to release pro-inflammatory response (PIR) which would go to battle to save us if we were attacked by beast or burglar. DNA is the blueprint of life and abides in every cell of our bodies. The PIR prepared the body to heal.

With the growth of civilization, the threat of being voted off the island diminished so the DNA-driven inflammatory response shut down and went underground. It became dormant.

In the 1980s society and culture changed, perhaps in response the late 60s. People moved away from their tribe and herd. Later with social media, the possibility of being excluded, bullied or shamed changed the social, psychological and cultural landscape. Being excluded became driven by a new force. The inflammatory response was no longer just pro. That response became hyper but now it was not beneficial to the individual, it worked against us.

Doug Kaufman was the specialist who first spoke to us of inflammation being the root of not only auto-immune disease, but heart disease and other major illnesses.

Do you remember Yuppie Flu? That was a mysterious psychosocial dysfunction with unexplained fatigue, inability to concentrate, weakness, malaise, nerve dysfunction and depression that affected mainly young adults. In the eighties, the problem was renamed and codified as Epstein-Barr Syndrome.

From the derogatory terms to a variety of immune system diseases, there seems to be several commonalities. Several of our friends were afflicted with symptoms listed above and each of them first experienced the debilitating symptoms following a physical trauma such as a fall, or accident. Something happened to awaken and release the inflammatory response which was the body’s natural response to the injury. It sounds like the fight or flight reaction to stress with the release of adrenalin and cortisol.

Lately I’ve been monitoring my reaction to the daily or hourly news alerts about politics, destruction of values, institutions, and the turning of all things right into wrong and up becoming down. Add NoKo, Iran, wars, rumors of wars, kingdoms and nations rising against one another, famines, earthquakes, hurricanes and signs in the sky to name a few. “High vigilance” is the term used for children’s response to parental split. “Hyper-inflammatory response.”

This funnels to a couple of questions: Why was Sarai barren? Could early temporary infertility have led to social exclusion, diminishment of self-perception which released the inflammatory component that produced chronic infertility?

The next question is about the 21st Century.
I am not a scientist nor have I stayed at a Holiday Express recently. I may have gotten off into the weeds trying to explain to you what Mitch Prinstein said that affects us. If he is on track, then what response and practices should come from Kingdom people?

I’ve been told that the FEMA website is flooded with people saying the disasters and forecast of more disasters has disabled their ability to cope.

Yesterday, I swept all of this info into a journal, went to porch and prayed. “Lord, if all this stuff is true, how are we to pray? What are we Kingdom Come People to do? What is the format and approach to be?” The first word that came to my soul was “anchor.” First we affix our anchor to the rock.

I replied to the Lord, “I don’t want to trivialize people’s loss and pain. Some friends face the afflictions of chronic fatigue syndrome every day and they love you as much as I do. You are their anchor.”

The second word I heard was “healing of the cells—all of which contain DNA—therefore, house debilitating memories.” Some researchers say the horrors we are witnessing can change our DNA and the terror, hopelessness and uncertainty will reach generations to come.

I don’t have a firm grip on this, but at this moment it seems to me we are to ask, “What is my anchor, what do I attach it to, and how do I make it permeate the cells after healing?”

Part of the anchor’s strength is belonging. If the Hyper-inflammatory response is released into the cells when we feel excluded, exiled or dumped outside the camp, then being assured that we belong is a healing agent.

We are going to set the healing chair. We will pray for healing. Facebook Message me and we’ll include you in the healing-strengthening praying.

©2017 D. Dean Benton Dean Benton

Your Story Is…?

It was a Wednesday evening at a North Miami Beach Charismatic Lutheran church. The place was packed. Before we were introduced to minister, the pastor invited victory and celebration statements. A stylish, fashionably made-up lady in the back row told us she had spent the day with Hollywood producers, director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert DeNiro. They were interviewing her for an upcoming movie which was in part about her.

I expected men in white coats to usher her out. Then I wondered what in the world we would sing or say that would connect or grab the crowd’s attention. Her story sounded like a precise definition of a person out of touch with reality. Well, the White Coats didn’t arrive because she was telling the truth. The lady was the ex-wife of boxer Jake LaMotta and the movie was “The Raging Bull.”

As I remember, no one else gave a testimony or celebration that evening. The regulars knew Vickie and they knew she was not making anything up. There was a buzz in that room—rafter-high emotions.
That was quite an event. I still feel the aura of that preacher. He was low-key and direct. He prayed with us and admonished me to “step into your calling.” As effective as we were that evening, he saw something else. Not instead of, but in addition to.

Trekking with Abraham’s Tribe seems far-fetched. I think the predominate mindset for me was, I just don’t fit with this group. We stunt our witness when we compare ourselves or measure our value. My fear that night in North Miami Beach was anything I said or sang would be anti-climactic. After all, I had never met anyone like Robert DeNiro and my story was not going to be made into a movie—ever! Even an eight millimeter one.

I’m pushing the boundaries a bit, because Galatians 6 has impacted me the last few days.

“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.” (Message)

After taping a television program that was somehow connected to TBN, a lady said, “Jan is going to love your work.” While I was envisioning our national TV debut, the lady’s father stepped into our circle. He was an elderly Italian gentleman and began to tell me his conversion experience. I understood about a third of his heavy Italian-accented words, so his daughter kept a running interpretation in the background. God had turned his life around by just speaking his name, the man told me. I asked how he knew it was God and not just his own imagination.

“Because no one has ever pronounced my name correctly. God did! He said, ‘Alphonso’ like no one ever has.”

His daughter had heard the story and seen the evidence dozens of times. Tears filled her eyes. The story never lost its punch or implications for the whole family.

“…his sheep recognize His voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them…He leads them and they follow because they are familiar with His voice.” (John 10:3-4 Message


©2017 D. Dean Benton

Meanderings—Trekking with Abraham’s Tribe

Published this fall. An informal study of Abraham and Sarah as they learned to hear God’s voice. I use many stories of the people we met and places we visited when we were on the road.
This chapter is timely. Jake LaMotta died in recent days.

Listen, Harvey!

We were moving to Denver, Colorado our daughter was a baby. We got to western Iowa and the car broke down in a town where there was no motel which meant we bunked in the mechanic’s living room. The Methodist Church was hosting a revival meeting that week which I attended. The pastor listened to my story and told me his.

The last time they had a revival meeting, an evangelist was stranded in their town—just like us. During the singing time, one of the church members asked for prayer. The region was in a drought. The farmer said they should pray for rain. That congregation was not in the habit of praying that specifically, so the preacher said or something like “We’ll keep that in our prayers,” and moved forward in the service. A little later, the “stranded” evangelist stood and acknowledged he was a stranger and had no authority, but he said he felt they should honor the farmer’s request and pray for rain. So, they asked him to pray which he did. And it began to rain.

I asked the pastor if he could remember the stranded preacher’s name. He did. I knew that stranded preacher! He was a big guy, with a gentle manner and a Pentecostal faith. After a bit more conversation, I realized it was odd that the name was so easily remembered so I asked how the pastor remembered.

“Huh! There’s more to the story. I told you it started to rain. Well, it didn’t quit! Days and days it rained. Everyone it town knew the story that a stranger had come into town, prayed for rain at the revival meeting. A village meeting was called. We began to search for that evangelist.” The statement was more forceful: “We gotta find that preacher and tell him to get the rain stopped!” I don’t remember how they found him, but his name became emblazoned on the pastor’s mind. “We finally found that preacher and asked to pray to turn off the rain. He prayed. And it stopped!”

I’ve been asking God how we are to pray for the people of Texas. That story came to mind. I don’t know if it was an answer to my prayer or just that it linked to the file in my brain marked, “Rain Stories.”

Jesus told the winds to be quiet. He told the rain to stop. He spoke to the storm. This was my take away from my conversation with God. The problem Texas and Louisiana face is not the rain as much as a stalled storm. So we are to speak to the storm to move back out over the Gulf. There is a principle that anything that has a name can be addressed and it must bow to Christ. How convenient that this storm has an official name!

Unless someone has a better idea, I’m going to call the storm by name and in the name of Jesus and all the work of the Cross and Resurrection and tell it to go out over the Gulf. Will you join me?

“Harvey—turn around and dump the water into the Gulf, in the Name and power of Jesus.”

©2017 D. Dean Benton

More not Fewer

This is what I know. I may not have it exact. Some of my love for the old south is based on fiction and a longing for a genteel civility. The view of reality is different through the writing of Margaret Mitchell than Rick Bragg. I don’t know where to place Harper Lee. The stories told by each of us depend upon the atmosphere we lived in and customs we breathed. I am not ignorant nor naïve. I have heard and read the stories by Vernon Jordan of his own lawyering experiences on behalf of Blacks as late as the 50s and 60s. His stories are sobering! They can shut me down.

Of the military people I have read and heard about, I think I would like most of all to have Robert E. Lee and his wife to sit on my porch.

Headlines are that Governor of Virginia is going to “pursue removing the Lee statue from Monument Avenue in Richmond.” Excuse me? Monument Avenue? A street lined with statues of people who influenced the state of Virginia or factored in her history? I thought the Lee statue was going to be removed from the entrance to the state capital building or similar place. I thought it would serve all of the local folks to place it in an appropriate park. Monument Avenue seems the exact appropriate place it should stand. Monument Ave which has a statue of Tiger Woods. Does the statue of Woods endorse his immorality, drug use and life-choices? Of course not.

Lincoln had asked Lee to head up the Union Armies, but his home state needed him. Robert E. Lee was superintendent of West Point. Virginia—his home—needed him. He was against secession and identified himself as the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

President Lincoln’s words, attitude and actions toward Lee and the soldiers of the Confederacy at the war’s end were forgiveness, pardon, redemption and reconciliation. Perhaps we should take our cue from President Lincoln.

After the war Robert E. Lee committed himself to providing educational opportunities for young Blacks, He was president of Washington & Lee College. Washington being President George and Lee being Robert E..

I read an article that asked why the Lees had/have a home on government property named Arlington. The grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. The author apparently didn’t know that Arlington was the name of land owned by the family of Mrs. Lee (great-granddaughter of Martha Washington) The Arlington House is where the Lee family lived before the war and then deeded it to the USA for use.

The missing rational factor of the past couple of years is redemption. Is there redemption? Can lives be changed? Can people change? Ask Jesus. I want to know what the generals did after the war. It is called grace on purpose.

There is a current line of thinking that we need more statues, not less. I’ve been reading (slowly) a biography of Booker T. Washington who was born with a mother praying over him asking God to help Mr. Lincoln to bring freedom for her son as she cooked meals for her “owner.” Booker T. Washington’s view of his race drew the anger of many contemporaries. He saw his people being and doing what God chose Israel to do. They would be a “chosen people, a royal priesthood….” He went to Tuskegee to teach the “mechanics of living,” and how to be the people God could use. And! How they whom he called Negroes, could prosper.

I wonder if this is where the Seven Mountain Mandate and the spirit of Tuskegee intersect. That is what Oral Roberts had in mind when he built the university. To develop people who will touch the country and the world and their image will find its place onto Monument Avenue.
Thank you for listening. I’m just trying to figure this out.

More statues to celebrate lives well lived and invested.

©2017 D. Dean Benton——–Just wondering

Statues. A Series-1

Burlington, Iowa has several statues, canons and an old military jet scattered around in parks. We even have statues of Mary in front of Catholic Churches. I’m sure there are shrines and museums I know nothing about. One of the attractions is a statue of Black Hawk the Indian chief whose name dominates our region.

John C. Corse served under several generals. His bravery was well-known. He was wounded at Missionary Ridge and then fulfilled General Sherman’s order to hold Allatoona pass where he lost one-third of his men and one-third of an ear. Coarse said,

I am short a cheek-bone and an ear, but am able to whip all hell yet.

John M. Corse made this peculiar boast after sustaining a head wound at the Battle of Allatoona in 1864. While bleeding, he received a message from General Sherman saying, “Hold on, I am coming.” That statement was amended by newspaper writers to “Hold the fort, for I am coming” which became a classic folk song and then a hymn. It was in some of the church song books I sang from.

1. Ho, my comrades, see the signal, waving in the sky!
Reinforcements now appearing, victory is nigh.
o Refrain:
“Hold the fort, for I am coming,” Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to Heaven, “By Thy grace we will.”
2. See the mighty host advancing, Satan leading on;
Mighty ones around us falling, courage almost gone!
3. See the glorious banner waving! Hear the trumpet blow!
In our Leader’s Name we triumph over every foe.
4. Fierce and long the battle rages, but our help is near;
Onward comes our great Commander, cheer, my comrades, cheer!
(1870) Phillip P. Bliss,

Not only does the John M Corse statue stand proudly in Crapo (long “A) Park, but there is a street named after him about three blocks from our house. There is a bridge in Iowa City named for him and a grade school here in Burlington.

Allatoona is north of Atlanta in the vicinity of Cartersville, Georgia. We have driven past Cartersville on I-75 and stayed a night or two there. You ever wonder if the battle of Altoona in which Corse was a major figure, touched the families of Confederate soldiers? Did a daddy or brother come home alive but minus a leg? Any ancestors not come home?

John Corse became a lawyer, was selected as Lieutenant Governor of Iowa after the war. He moved east and died at age 58 when his body was shipped back to Burlington. The people who lost loved ones on that battle ground don’t know about his life after the war, all they know is that he was one of the commanders who ordered gunfire that killed their loved one.

I have no hard numbers, but I’m guessing at least 70% of our population doesn’t know the story of John Corse, and probably 20% more don’t know there is a statue or who the statue is as they drive through Crapo Park.

I have considered my response if those folks from South Georgia should come to our town to take Mr. Corse’s statue down. I have wondered if Corse school will be unscathed by the current purge of treacherous statues.

I wonder if Ernie Banks’ statue in front of Wrigley Field will survive.

Am I no longer thinking straight? Do people fear that some dark night those statues are going to organize and mobilize and start driving trucks on sidewalks?

Everyone sing. Verse 4.

©2017 D. Dean Benton

Bee-Jeebers or worse

John Eldredge’s book Walking with God (Thomas Nelson 2008) is my current devotional reading. The format is similar to entries in a journal. Let me share:

“A few years ago a woman with a sensitive spirit and a keen eye for what God is up to pulled me aside to offer this warning: ‘The battle in your life is against your joy.’

“It hit me like a Mack truck.

“But of course. Suddenly life made sense. The hassles. The battles. The disappointments. The losses. The resignation. I began to see how the enemy was first trying to take away all the joy from my life. Wear me down. Then, weary and thirsty, I would be quite vulnerable to some counterfeit joy.” P 37

Listen to what Jesus says about your joy:

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11),
“Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24).
“…so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them” (John 17:13).

Wow! Jesus is using extravagant words to describe the joy He wants us to have.

I’m glad I wore a button-up shirt today. We’ve been having a problem with hornets and wasps. Our neighbor chased off a herd of hornets and they moved into our yard. Carole and her sisters were chased out the garage by a hornet. They estimated its size as somewhere between a sparrow and pigeon.

We came in from working in the yard. I was pouring an iced coffee when I felt something moving the back of my shirt. I looked in the mirror—nothing there. The fluttering continued. I concluded the pigeon-sized bee was inside my shirt. As I shed the shirt, I was glad for buttons and that I didn’t have to pull the shirt over my head. Inside my shirt was a green cicada. I have never looked full into the face of a cicada. Those critters are ugly and look menacing. Inside my shirt, creeping on my body! It stared at me. It didn’t make a sound, but my vocal shuddering set off the smoke alarm. I can feel an attack of PTSD coming on!
Okay, so I exaggerate.

Having the bee-jeebers scared out of you won’t steal your joy, but a chronic ache can. We met a family who returned from vacation to find their house had been invaded by raccoons or squirrels. An extended family of squirrels can not only extensively mess up a house, but implant a spirit of hopelessness deep in one’s mind.

Feeling trapped leads to hopelessness and the impossibility of life ever being better. That can lead to an abiding habit of seeing self as unworthy which will shut down confidence that God will ever speak to you. That will eat at faith, hope, love, and joy as if it were unsolidified grape Jell-O.
An infestation of fleas may be caused by someone’s neglect or carelessness, but satan has a plan. Satan will try to use such torment to steal your joy, confidence, vision and hijack God’s plan for you. Recognize it and go to spirit war.

©2017 D. Dean Benton

Cutting the Cable

Cutting the cable was a great idea. We were paying for 7000 TV channels and watching about 3. We would follow the example of those who lived on their phone. So the deed was done. After we bought and tried four different antennas, we found that we were 15 miles beyond over the air TV channels. But we could get 4 channels! Channels airing programs we didn’t watch in the 70s nor would we watch today lest they corrode our brains with unfunny silliness.

We upgraded a laptop to equip us to stream our favorite channels. The news networks broadcast news a day old. For reasons beyond my tech ability, we could never connect with most of the news that promised we could watch 24/7 free. Our favorite preachers faced a different problem. The buffering was so frequent it took 1:45 hours to broadcast a 30-minute sermon.

And then there is the phone. We live in what was many years ago called “the bottoms.” That means we live at the bottom of the surrounding hills. The cell towers in our area are all owned by US Cell. Our provider buys space from Verizon. The price is great. The service at our house is virtually non-existent. US Cell uses the best parts of the tower for their customers and then sells what is left over to Verizon and other carriers. When we found we could not call each other from across the coffee table, I purchased a Verizon amplifier which was to strengthen the signal. $200 carried no guarantees and no returns. It did help for a while, but then as if someone turned a switch we were without phone service. When I asked for suggestions, our tech asked if we could go to the top of the hill to make our calls.

I was bothered by a question: what will we do if there is an emergency? How do we call 911? I’ll drive up the hill in my boxers in the middle of the night? Didn’t sound like a workable solution. So we reconnected the cable.

I figure we would be $300 ahead had we not decided to save money.

Getting our old number of 30 years back and imported to the company that had used it for 20 years became an international job. We exhumed the body of Ma Bell. Mrs. Bell or one of her successors had retired our number—like they do baseball jerseys—deactivated it and sent it the burial grounds in some warehouse in Guam. So we were back to hanging out the upstairs window to fully utilize the one tower on our cell phones. The phones worked well everywhere, except receiving calls or sending calls at our house—which removed us from communication with the outside world.

For five weeks I talked to techs on five continents and languages I could not understand—all of whom were gracious and wanted to help—but in spite of being assigned the number and receiving bills for the service, the old number would not ring into our house. The temp number would.

We now have reduced the number of TV channels to about 800 and can get the 3-4 channels we watch plus subscriptions to Hulu, Roku and Amazon. I’m sure I’ve missed others with at least one that we cannot get rid of.

It is with exhausted pleasure I announce that our landline is fully operational as of this morning. The number is….


Call me. I’m lonely.