Monthly Archives: February 2015

Futures Essays: The Future of Communications

Author’s Note: I am so glad I have a strong background in science fiction. It is the only way I could explain some of the eerie and uncanny “prophetic” statements I made in this paper I wrote 20+ years ago. Well, not the only way… but the only way for who I was at that time…

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Prior to this class session, I had thought very little about the future of communications. I had seen the ATT&T commercials about a person ordering concert tickets by credit card from a video phone booth, a doctor putting a credit card in a slot and having access to all of the medical records of a woman in labor, and the woman on a business trip who called home and saw her infant and husband while they were seeing her during her phone conversation. (Yes, I see the blasé looks on the faces of those under 20, but for my generation, it was all so futuristic and inspiring.) I had also seen the commercials for an interactive video game on compact disc. However, I had never really thought about the relationship among these things. After the seminar session, I began to see that everything is becoming related to everything else by dependence on similar technology; this interdependent relationship is called convergence.

Convergence is the state in which there will be affordable, universal two-way service which is broadband and which allows access to all kinds of products of the communication industries on a single, large cable. An example of convergence which could occur in the future (the future is now) is a person at home in Denver using a computer to listen to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on a classical radio station from Philadelphia as he wakes up in the morning; later, he uses his home computer to send a work report to his office in New York; in the afternoon, he calls his sister in Australia and his mother in India both at the same time; and at night, he watches Gone with the Wind before going to bed.

Convergence is already happening in a limited basis. I can use my computer to listen to a CD while reading electronic mails containing stories from my best friend from high school in Maryland and communicating over a bulleting board system with acquaintances in England or Jamaica. Although the technology in color computer screens is not good enough to provide the same quality as a projector and screen, I have already seen simulated film-like programs that have an almost life-like quality. On a visit to the National Aeronautics and Space Museum in Washington, DC, I was fascinated by one of the displays involving a simulation of a trip to another planet. A video is played and at various crucial points, a series of options is offered on the screen. The individual involved with the interaction puts his finger on the box next to the preferred option. The choices I made sent me on a difficult mission to an unexplored planet; my experience was different from the person before me who made different choices.

From my own experiences, I can see that the technology is in place to achieve most of the examples in the AT&T commercial. To order tickets with a credit card from a video phone booth would combing the use of the interactive computer program and the technology already in place by which stores scan credit cards to check the credit limit and authenticity of the card. (Yeah, I got one of my highest grades in the course on this paper, and I never addressed the video phone booth.) The medical card would be achieved with the combination of coding a magnetic strip on the card and identifying the section of a computer network storing the medical data through a code on the magnetic strip.

Video phones are, however, a little further into the future. (Wait. Here’s where I put that information.) Currently, there are great difficulties in transferring pictures to impulses that would be translated into images that most people would accept as recognizable. Also, current wires could not deal with light impulses. The translation of light to electronic impulses would cause not only a great deal of lag time, but also a bottle-neck at both the transmitting and receiving ends. (I can’t believe I had this vocabulary back then. Maybe I was too close to a required physics class?)

The biggest concern I have with the idea of convergence is that is sets up the potential for the invasion of my privacy. A computer hacker with the right knowledge could stalk me without my knowledge. He would know my choice in music, films, entertainment; he would know how much money I earned and spent; and he would know the people with whom I communicated on a regular basis. (Yeah, I am describing the current days in a freaky way.) He could even know my most intimate thoughts if I were communicating them with an acquaintance. These kinds of things are really my personal choice and no one’s business but mine. I would not be very comfortable with that possibility. I am not even sure strong government regulations would ease my discomfort because the only way foul play could be discovered would be through the use of foul play. If I do not wish for a complete stranger to monitor me, then I most certainly do not wish for a government official to monitor me in order to determine whether there is a complete stranger monitoring me. (NSA, CIA, TSA, DHS–welcome to the future because the future is now, and people still lose their identities to complete strangers.) I do not feel there is an easy solution to this problem.

I find it fascinating that I am using technology that even when I was very young was considered futuristic, and I look forward to the development of even greater technology. (Yes, yes, you do, you Borg collective candidate.)

I don’t even want to go here, with hackers and spammers and identity thieves. As I age, I find although technology evolves, newer isn’t always better.

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Futures Essays: The Future of America Health Care

 

Author’s Notes: This one is pretty straightforward. I shouldn’t have to do too much to it. There are a few places I just have to re-word it because the expression now drives me nuts.

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There are currently many problems with American health care, and many are concerned about the future of health care in America. Our presenter proposed that the future of health care reform is in the present and our actions today will have an effect on health care for at least the next 20 years. I would not disagree with her on this point. I would also not disagree with her that quality, price, and access are the most important aspects of health care that those involved in the reformation of the system would need to reconsider. The issue on which I do disagree with our present is that a form of socialized medicine is the best way to reform the system.

Quality is a huge concern; the majority of Americans want the best care by the best physicians if it is within the individual’s means to do so. When the best care is out of reach of the individual, the individual still chooses the best health care provider that fits the budget. Not all physicians are the best or most competent. I am not convinced that socialization of medicine would allow for the continuity of care Americans have come to expect from providers. Should the nation switch to a form of socialized medicine, many physicians may discontinue practice due to burn out from not being able to handle the workload. Quality decreases from sheer numbers that have access to the system. The increased workload would affect medical schools; they would have to decrease not only the time spent learning the trade but also what is taught in regard to the trade just to provide enough doctor’s to meet the needs of the public. Quality would again be decreased because the prospective doctors’ experience and knowledge would be less. If the government were to monitor the curricula in medical schools and set up standards which every prospective doctor were to maintain (Hello, young grasshopper! They already do–it’s called licensing.), I might feet more comfortable; however, familiar with the tendency of government either to fail to monitor industry  or to ignore obvious violations of law and ethics until public outcry demands justice, I do not see the implementation of a standard curriculum or enforcement of the curriculum anytime soon. (There are none so blind as those who will not see. I don’t like outcomes based education and common core; therefore, even with their implementation, I can’t see how it could extend beyond the current classroom.)

Cost is yet another problem. Allowing everyone access to the system means that there will be people who cannot afford to pay for the care they receive. The money has to come from somewhere. It is neither right nor just that those who cannot earn their living or cannot make ends meet are denied access to care; however, it is neither right nor just that those who can and do earn a living, who make ends meet, and who can afford to pay for care are forced to pay for the inability of others to pay for the care. (Except this is what happens through higher fees, premiums, deductibles, and co-pays…) The money has to come from somewhere. Doctors will not be willing to take voluntary pay cuts. Why should they? They spend twice as much time receiving their educations as the average American and deserve a comparable wage. Pharmaceutical companies cannot afford to decrease costs. (I could beg to differ, but I won’t for now.) Many of the chemicals used to created prescription medicines are very costly, production is not easy,  and the purity and quality of the drug must be very high so that people are healed and not harmed. All of these factors result in high costs. Were income to be cut, the pharmaceutical companies could not afford to continue production. (Or to do research to find new drugs, as the session leader noted.) The costs for socialized medicine will have to come from the taxpayers of America who already feel very overwhelmed with the amount paid to the government. (Again, there is nothing new under the sun.) I do not see that the support for socialized medicine will be high when increased taxation becomes the means to support the system. (That’s why they play the name game. It’s not a health tax; it’s a penalty when you choose not to participate. It’s not socialized medicine; it’s a new law to ensure everyone has equal opportunity and access.)

Access is yet the third issue. While I agree that all should have access to high quality care, I understand the weariness that could descend upon the medical profession were every ingrown toe nail and hair treated. (Translated: let’s all be wise consumers and do as much for ourselves as we can.) I also understand the need for increased access in rural areas; were it not for our local family doctor, the nearest doctor would have been 30 or 40 miles from our home. With increased participation, in order to avoid over-burdening the system, someone would have to determine who does and does not receive care. The problem with a human gatekeeper is the human gatekeeper is not God. (Shades of the Veterans Administration scandal, anyone?) There is no way of knowing without tests if the nausea a patient feels is morning sickness, a migraine, the stomach flu, or a symptom of a more serious cardiac ailment. My mother had rheumatic fever as a child, and it damaged her heart valve. Before her second surgery, despite all her symptoms, the diagnostic test failed to show the severity of her issues. Under socialized medicine, she would not have had her surgery because the tests showed nothing (and she would have missed grandkids and my second and best wedding). Because the system was not socialized, the doctor opted to do the surgery on past history and strength of symptoms alone. During the surgery, it was discovered my mother’s heart was in severe failure and she would not have survived another week.

I realize that the problems I have raised are those which others have raised before. The solutions are vague and fleeting. I do not have a lot of optimism that there will be a solution that satisfies everyone. I fear that the middle class will again be saddled with everyone else’s problems because the poor just cannot afford to take it anymore and the rich have enough money and power to weasel out of anything that becomes mandatory. The real question is whether health care is an inalienable right that ranks with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness or privilege afforded only to those who can afford to pay out of their pocket or who work for a company that offers insurance.

Well, well, well… here we are 20+ years later under Obamacare. Only a year in, so it’s hard to judge its efficacy. I will say I am not better off since the implementation of this law. The doctors I see at the various practices seem more tired, and their office workers are guaranteed work through more paper work. The middle class is still squeezed by onerous taxes and laws. Increase law just does not improve a situation.

Futures Essays: Delphi Technique

Author’s Note: In this paper, our class was to explore the Delphi Technique and discuss the pros and cons. This will not be a word for word rekey; some of my grammar and expression was absolutely atrocious, and the professor who graded the paper was quick to note and challenge the missteps.

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I was fascinated by many ideas presented in our recent session on futures studies. The most fascinating of all was the Delphi Technique. Many people prefer to consult with groups of experts instead of just one person when it comes to predicting the effects of current trends on the state of the future; the problem that occurs in many groups, even experts, is that although an individual group member may have better, more important thoughts and ideas, he (or she) many change his opinion to that of the majority to avoid feeling left out or appearing uncooperative. This phenomenon is referred to as “group think” or the “bandwagon effect.” The Delphi technique was formulated to eliminate the “bandwagon effect” and produce an informed foresight of the future minus the poorer ideas supported by more dominant personalities. The Delphi effect consists of three or four steps, each of which has its own benefits and drawbacks.

The first step is to determine the type of foresight necessary to the study I wanted to conduct and to tailor a survey for the experts based on information necessary to the study. (At this point, my professor must have had a massive headache; I just combined two steps into one. Somehow, they must have been linked in my brain.) The benefit is that I can control the flow of information and the experts would only have that information that is pertinent to the study. There are two drawbacks. The first is that I might miss crucial information in what I present. The second is that I construct a survey that channels participants to only provide the answers I want to hear; a slanted survey narrows the focus of participating experts, increasing the chances that possible outcomes are missed.

The second step is to determine who my experts are and invite them to participate. I would want to ensure anonymity is preserved in the interest of overcoming group think. The elimination of group think is one of the major benefits of the Delphi technique. However, there are three potential drawbacks. First, I assume that the experts have more knowledge than I or the general public. Second, I have to rely on the notion I’ve properly identified my experts. Third, although unlikely and far-fetched (maybe not so far-fetched given human nature), is that I cannot control whether the experts remain anonymous and refrain from communication with each other.

The final step is to collect the surveys, collate the feedback, and return the survey feedback to the participants for further consideration and revision. This step would be reiterated until the group came to a consensus of thought regarding the trends affecting the future. The benefit to this step is that I get the foresight in to the future that I need; it is modern and full of conventional wisdom, and it lacks the influence of ties to previous thought. (I just became my own translator. And I’m not sure I translated it properly.) The drawback to this step is that it is time consuming and difficult to get consistency in thought.

I find the Delphi technique incredibly fascinating. In my frequent past group work, I found my ideas were largely ignored even when my presentation was well-formed, organized, and cogent. Sometimes it was because of my gender. Sometimes it was because of my religious or political views. And sometimes, it had to do with some vague, amorphous character quality that was undesirable and therefore made my ideas undesirable. Also, I often refuse to go against the flow of predominant thought because I am quiet and reserved and avoid conflict. Had the Delphi technique been enacted, I would have had an outlet through which I could have expressed myself without fear of discrimination or rejection.

Futures Essays: Where I to Become Dictator of the Globe and Supreme Master of the Planet for Life…

Author’s Notes: Sorry, gang, not sure what I was thinking when I wrote this one, especially the title. But I hope you enjoy.

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The quality of our environment is something about which every human on the face of the earth should be concerned. Unfortunately, some are uneducated regarding the various aspects of environmental quality, and even more unfortunately, some people just possess a great deal of apathy (Wow, what a reality check! Apathy exists not just in regard to the environment, but all over. Can’t believe that mouthful came out at the age I was when I wrote this!) If humans as a race are going to survive on this planet, we must begin to care. I feel very strongly that we as a race have less to 250 years to avoid making the entire planet toxic to human and non-human life. To some, this might seem like doom-saying; to others, it might be exceptionally generous.

There have been many suggested solutions to the problem of environmental quality. A few have been implemented; a prime example of the implementation of suggested solutions is the mandatory recycling some communities have (wish I lived in one) and the emission filters compulsory on exhaust systems in California. However, in my opinion, not enough is being done. That is why, were I to become dictator of the globe and supreme master of the planet for life, I would implement many of the suggested but ignored solutions in favor of leaving being an environment suitable from children and my children’s children. (Huh, I was really hung up on the whole kids and grandkids thing. And why was I using children’s children instead of grandkids?!?)

The first action I would take would be to make recycling of paper, aluminum, and plastic mandatory (globally). Recycling of each of these materials would help to reduce the stress on land fill capacities. The recycling of paper would lessen the need to take down as many trees for the purpose of paper production. Perhaps the measure would also allow the protection of the habitats of several  endangered species whose natural homes are in danger of destruction by lumber operations. Although aluminum recycling would be more expensive in the areas of time and energy consumption than making new aluminum soda cans, there could come a time when all the aluminum naturally appearing might be consumed. In that day, we would have to start recycling aluminum. Why not start now and postpone that day? Plastic recycling would reduce the amount (number?) of two-liter soda bottles, laundry detergent bottle, and other such bottles that society puts into lad fills each year. While not cheap, plastic recycling is a far better option than trying to find new land fill space and angering a community when their surrounding environs are chosen as the next land fill site.

I would mandate the use of compost heaps for all organic wastes like fruit and vegetable peelings and seeds, leaves, and weeds. (Comma issue: unknown number of series items.) Not only would this lessen the load on land fills, but it would also save money because compost heaps are a natural source of fertilizer.

I would mandate that all fast food restaurants begin to use paper or other biodegradable containers for the food which is served. Thus, styrofoam, a material which biodegrades with a great deal of difficulty (how about it doesn’t biodegrade?!?), would no longer be a necessity and could be outlawed. I would also mandate that all food containers in the grocery stores be made either biodegradable or recyclable, once again to ease the strain on land fill capacity. (Obviously, you weren’t buying groceries for kids. The cost to recoup research into these materials would be astronomical, thus increasing the cost of the groceries.)

Emission filters on exhaust systems would become mandatory all over, instead of in high smog areas. This would help make the air more breathable for both healthy and respirationally challenged people. (Nice… I created my own word and I didn’t get caught. Good job! And that was before I accepted that I could not live without writing.)

A halt on manufacture of those things that result in the production of toxic by-products would be enacted. The halt would continue until researchers found a way either to degrade the toxins to less toxic by-products or to render the toxins non-toxic. This is quite an unrealistic goal and would probably never be accepted by big business or by the consumer society existing today; however, I would still enact the measure (After all, I’m dictator and supreme master and all that jazz. I can be egotistical and maniacal and make everyone do what I say *snort* ).

The final measure I would enact would be the mandatory powering of homes and businesses by solar power and wind power. Even if the power generated would not be enough to achieve 100% powering by sun and wind, it would be enough to lessen the need for fossil fuels. Lessened fossil fuel use yields lessened emission of the by-products responsible for acid rain; lessened use also yields preservation of the source of fossil fuels, for fossil fuels are not without end.

Looking over my ideas (They are not really my ideas. There is nothing new under the sun. I’ve just collected them in one place and presented them my way.), I see that most of them are quite reasonable and very easy to enact (with the exception of the halt on production idea–that is a little far fetched). (Um, this whole essay was far fetched, but more on that below.) I cannot understand why many of the planet’s countries have not enacted them. Complacency and apathy are no excuse. We have a responsibility to take care of our planet and preserve it, and we have not been doing a very good job. The question is not one of cost; it is one of whether or not we as a species care enough about our home to treat it with respect and give it the same care we give a precious gift we have received from someone whose attention we treasure and need. (Uh-oh! Melodrama alert… this belongs more in a greeting card or self-help book than a college paper.)

In some ways this was a paper on solid ideas. In other ways you can see how the liberal environmental agenda had crept into every pore of my being. However, I’m not in favor of polluters, either. I think we need a balanced approach toward the environment, and we just haven’t found the right combination of time, talent, and treasure to make it happen.

Futures Essays: Space…

 

Author’s Notes: 20+ years ago, I was a bright-eyed coed working on a degree in “you take a guess” at a small liberal arts college. As part of the requirements for a special designation at graduation, I took a seminar course. In this course, we studied the current state of an issue and then projected what would happen in the future, which we are now living in.

What I propose to do is re-key these essays and include my current thoughts as well as any responses to the questions posed by the professors leading the seminar course. (Why, yes, yes, I have hit the winter blahs as a writer, but I digress…)

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“Space, the final frontier…,” the opening to episodes and movies of Paramount’s Star Trek (let’s not forget to give creator Gene Rodenberry some credit), is an idea which I have often considered (um, not quite–I considered closet and dorm space far more than outer space).  Man now has nearly every inch of land on the Earth’s surface charted and is working to chart the surface of the ocean’s bottom. Our population is rapidly increasing and there is no where for man to go but to go to space. (At this point, the professor challenged me about the time frame, which didn’t fit into my little monologue. The professor also said something about the difference between charting and using; that might have been something to explore.)

The first problem of space is how do you shelter creatures used to gravity, atmosphere, and temperature in a vacuum at nearly absolute zero. (Yes, I probably had the most technical major sitting in that room, so I could get away with what I wrote.) Scientists and science fiction writers have proposed various means, including intergalactic starships and artificially created planets. The most feasible plan right now is a huge cylinder of steel which would be constructed in outer space of metals found in asteroids. Gravity would be simulated by spinning the cylinder on its end to end axis at the appropriate velocity calculated by physicists. (Okay, my writer’s soul is bleeding–I can’t picture what I really meant by end to end axis.) The atmosphere would then be created with the appropriate gases in the proportions in which they are found on Earth. (Okay, so I’m wondering what year Babylon 5 came out. This would have been the right time frame, I just wouldn’t have had an advanced enough TV set to see it.) The problem with the steel is that impact with a sharp object hurling through space could result in rupture of the container; the rupture would cause the atmosphere to leak , the cylinder might change velocity resulting in a change in gravity, and the temperature would get quite chilly. Although scientists propose a radar-like detection system, I would still be concerned that sharp objects might go undetected through technological error or human negligence, and this could (would?) result in the possible unnecessary loss of human life and resources.

The next problem is food and water. Water could be easily created from the reaction of two parts hydrogen to one part oxygen (this might generate some energy and heat too) or extracted from asteroids or passing comets. Food is not so easy. I am sure that every mineral and vitamin humans need to live is somewhere on some asteroid and could easily be encapsulated and administered to space colonists (yes, but could their bodies tolerate the vitamins and minerals coming from a non-food source?). I know that there would not be enough room on any kind of space-going vessel to carry food for those on the ship, let along those on any colony in space (the colony could be agricultural and self-sustaining). However, being the Pennsylvania Dutch girls that I am, there is no way I would give up my real, honest to goodness, Sunday afternoon chicken and waffles for anyone or anything (actually, I have for my health, but I digress). Food is part of one’s cultural heritage, and I am not sure that losing one’s roots is worth having more living space. (Okay, thank goodness it wasn’t an English prof on this session. The tangents abound, and I still didn’t address the production of food aboard spaceships.)

Energy is the next problem. Human beings tend to use too much energy in their search to make life more convenient. Humans tend to use as much energy as they can; put another way, the more energy to which we have access, the more we tend to use (um, a little stilted, aren’t we?). Putting an entire civilization based on consuming resources into space with access to unlimited energy from various stars is almost absurd. Colonizing space would lift the burden from the Earth, but that burden would be placed on various stars.

Communication would be another problem. Radio waves and laser beams would work superbly as communication tools ( *snorts* *giggles* I can think of so much to communicate with a laser, but it all ends in fire, smoke, and ashes. ); however, it would take at least four years to reach the next colony. Being very close to most of my family and friends ( *snorts* ), I would not want to wait that four years to hear from them, know that the things about which we were communicating would be old news by the time the communications reached one of the parties.

The real issue is not the future of space exploration. The real issue is the future of the human race in general. (Start the climactic orchestral piece. *sigh* ) Are we, as a race, willing to curtail our consumption of energy and resources? Are we willing to create only as many new lives as could take the place of deaths for the year in which we plan to procreate? (Um, I’m confused. This wasn’t a thought in any of the denominational pews I was in at the time. Did I try to poke fun at liberals with dead pan humor?) Are we willing to take better care of our environment to prevent further pollution of our air and water and to allow clean up and decontamination of those areas already badly affected? Or are we, as a race, willing to condemn ourselves, our children, and our children’s children to a poor standard of life under the shadow of overpopulation, pollution, and the psychological effect of a lack of hope because time is running out?

It is funny to see how my corner of the globe has almost given up on space. Not funny, sad. We haven’t seen very many improvements in space technology, despite all the exploration from Earth.

Zippy Takeover, #3

Dog named zippy

A picture of the dog who has taken over the blog

 

Hi, hi! Hello, hello. Come on and lie down. It’s been a while, but it was time. I’ve been learning so much, and I’m still confused about so much.

The White Stuff

I hate all this white stuff they call snow. It’s cold, it’s wet, and it hides all the grass I’d rather pee on. And then there’s that smooth ice… it makes it easier for my humans to make me go their direction instead of me being in charge and taking them where it smells good. Why can’t the humans just let me pee near my bed inside when the white stuff is here?!?

Santa Paws

A while back, my humans made the house all funny. They put up lights and a fake tree (it didn’t smell good, and I wasn’t allowed to pee on it). It was up for many nights. Then late one night, they put all these boxes out. I was so tempted, but I was good. Then they took the paper off and had all these things that they normally use but the things were new and different to them. Why wrap it if you’re going to use it?!?

But, then they put this funny hat on and started to bring me my own paper covered boxes. They actually expected me to unwrap them! Why should I? So they “helped” me by making my paws do the unwrapping. I guess the younger humans thought it was cute. I liked some of the things that I could eat.

I don’t like the things I couldn’t eat they call toys. I just don’t like them, I don’t see any use for them. Okay, so maybe I don’t know what to do with them and don’t know how to tell my humans that. And, I’d much rather play in the trash bag with the empty bottles and wrappers; they smell so good; again, the humans don’t like it and they turn away from me. Not for long, just long enough that I know I did something they don’t like.

Cuddles

I love when my humans hold me. It’s so nice. But I have this problem: the females all want to hold me like I’m a human baby. I don’t get it; I just don’t get it. I know it makes them feel good because they start to smell nice, but I just don’t like it. And if I growl, they get upset and I see backs. Why can’t they get any human males to give them a nice litter of their own?!?

Day and Night

I have finally given up trying to teach the humans about sleeping at day and playing at night. I’ve kind of decided to just accept that we’re on different schedules. I know that they will pay better attention to me if I let them sleep at night, so maybe this is an issue I can let sleep lying down.

The Big Bed

This is one issue I am waking up and keeping up. If my humans, especially the older female, are on their bed, well I should be too. I don’t care if the only male human doesn’t like it. Both of them are always kicking me off; it’s worse at night when their fur comes off.

 

Another one of the dog who took over the blog

Another one of the dog who took over the blog

Sometimes, when they sleep, I sneak out to the pen… er, room of one of the young females. There’s this one that looks like another. I still don’t get their names. But the one that looks like another with the good, calm, assertive energy… I sneak into her and curl up on her bed. She sleeps better, and I don’t get kicked off.

I really wish I had a dog friend I could talk to about this. I wonder when I’ll see ‘Ginz again. His human seems to be really well trained, so ‘Ginz must have lots of good ideas.

Ewes and Lambs and Shepherdesses (Ezekiel 34 Reswizzled)

The last few nights have been very long for me. My physical pain gets worse with the plummeting temperatures. As the pain increases, the inability to relax increases as does the speed of my thoughts.

One of the concepts that passes my mind frequently is sheep, shepherds, hired hands, and the Good Shepherd. The patterns and concepts surrounding the care and feeding of sheeple (term shamelessly stolen from a liberal and reapplied) has been the focus of a lot of truth diamond visits and table games (and sheer rants to my still, small Voice).

I finally broke down and wrote something in my journal on the topic. It’s not great, and most of it would be considered a toxic waste dump. That said, when I wrestle in writing with my issues and I include my still, small Voice, He sometimes gives me something new, a fresh perspective from a different angle.

It seems Ezekiel faced many similar issues with the Israelite people and their leadership. The entirety of the 34th chapter of the book bearing his name is his still, small Voice prophesying a judgment on those who don’t take care of the sheeple.

But I’d had enough gloom and doom. Ever trying to be the positive parent (and mostly failing), I was led to write a prayer for every woman in ministry to sheeple to use. Let me know what you think.

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Gentle Jesus, Good Shepherd:

Take my eyes off me. Let me not be selfish, but let me lay down my life to take care of the flock You’ve given me. As I dress and eat and work, let me see and care for the flock around me.

Give me the resurrection power of Your precious Holy Spirit to strengthen the weak, heal the sick, and bind up the injured. Help me seek the lost and bring back the wanderers. May my leadership be kind and tender. Help me search for Your scattered sheep and wandering ewes and lambs on every high place and in every low valley. Don’t let their location or my fear of it keep me from reflecting You to them.

Help me hear Your Word and hide it in my heart so Your flock always has a true and strong shepherdess and is never plundered or found by the enemy to be stolen, killed, and destroyed.

Please let me focus on You and live your Word so that I will not sin against You, causing You to turn Your Face against me. Help my accountability for each ewe and lamb under my care to be true and just and worthy of Your reward.

Rescue Your flock from the hired hands who don’t love them as You do. Use me as You search for Your sheep, especially ewes and lambs, and let me help You look after them. As You look for and find them far and near, help me prepare a safe physical, emotional, and spiritual sanctuary where they feel they belong.

Give me Your Word for their season to rest them in good places and feed their souls on the best You have to offer. Help me to be Your Hands and Feet as You care for Your sheep, especially ewes and lambs, and give them rest. Let me help You find the lost and wandering in the thickets and brambles and ravines of sin and sickness and despair where the enemy has lured them.

Let me help You bind the injured through the Fruit of the Spirit and make the weak strong. Teach me to sit on my hands and wait as You humble the sleek and strong rams and ewes.

Although You are training me as a shepherdess, help me remember that I can be a baa-baa-baad ewe. Help me to cover myself in Your righteousness and grace. Help me to use my words and actions to build sheep up and clear poisoned, muddy waters. Purify my mind to enable me to think Your way before I speak or act so I can bring Your health and healing. May I never wound or plunder a weaker ram, ewe, or lamb.

Rid the land of all curses and demonic activity so we Your sheep can dwell in spiritual safety. Bless us; bless our pastures. Shower us with blessings in due season. Make our food abundant and give us security.

Break our yoke. Break our chains. Rescue us from anything we idolize that has us trapped. Protect us from blunder by the nations and ravaging by the forces of the enemy. Let us not go hungry or bear scorn for our neighbors.

You are our God. You are with us. We, grafted into Israel, are Your sheep. We are are Yours and under Your care. You are our God.