“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

I am closer than you know. I am always listening and always watching over you. There is not a place you can go where I cannot see. There is not a word you can whisper that I won’t hear. You are precious to me.

If only you would stand still and watch me move. If only you would release your grasp and allow my blessings to flow. You are holding on too tightly. Your closed fists on control won’t allow me room to shower you with good things. Your fear of the unknown is stifling my influence. Your personal limitations are threatening to limit my work in your life.

Please remember as you go along your day that I am near to you, my child. I hear your requests. Your downcast voice reaches my ever-listening ears. Your laden pleas tug at my tender heart. Your contrite spirit moves my loving heart and my mighty hand.

Gently, I call to you. My child, can you hear me? You’ve called on me time and again asking for direction, asking for peace, asking for help, and I have sent your answer. My beloved, I am telling you: your answer is plainly before you. I hear your requests, and your answer is here, but you must trust me. When you let go and let me, you will see the better things that I have in store for you. Until you decide to trust my answer, you feel like I have turned a deaf ear on you. Don’t think so little of me, my dear. Open your heart to the possibilities that I have in store for you. Be ready to receive the path I have paved for You. Be sensitive to the answers I give to you, even if they differ from what you hoped they would be.

I am leading you. You can be assured of my leading if you will quiet yourself to hear me, slow yourself to sense me, and allow yourself time to read my word. I want you to know me better. I want to bless you. I want to give you hope, peace, grace, and rest, but you have to LET me.

I cannot rain blessings down on you if you tie my hands or put me in a box. I am the Living God and the creative God. I am an orderly God, and a God of the impossible. I thrive on moving mountains. I can do things through you that you have never dreamed, but you have to be open to my leading.

Remember that I operate contrary to the world’s reasoning. If it does not make logical sense, but I authorize it, it will blossom. If it seems like a step back, but I ordain it, it is preparing you to be propelled all the farther. It might not look like it now, but I am making a way for you, through the wilderness, and stream in the wasteland. Where there seems to be no way, I will make a way.

“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

Judith Cooley teaches Language Arts and Drama. Follow her Facebook page @pondervotional for more encouragement.

WEST UNION, Ohio — Adams County has received a $2.3 million grant from the Ohio Development Services Agency to renovate and turn the former Prather’s IGA building into a workforce development and training center.

“I worked here in the office, I was an administrative assistant for 10 years prior to becoming the director, and in between there, the need for adult education and daycare has always been a huge deficit that we have here in the county,” said Adams County Economic Development Director Holly Johnson. Johnson said she has a Post-it note that reads “adult education, transportation and daycare,” and she moves it to every consecutive month until she sees those needs come to fruition. For the past 10 years, since becoming the director, these needs have been her goal, though the lack of funding has thwarted that until now.

“I mean, we in Adams County don’t have a community college here, and so you know, we have our CTC, that’s for high school kids, but we don’t have any place where we can actually train adults. So when, say a business would call here and they would want us to be able to ask about skilled workforce, I would be able to say that we have labor. We can have them trained in Scioto County, we can have them trained in Brown County, they have the big large Ramtech in Scioto County, they have the small one in Brown County, you know, and I can send them to Maysville. Maysville Community (and Technical) College would be more than willing to assist in some of the direction when it comes to training workforce, but we have no place here in Adams County. So that’s a huge goal for us to be able to fill that need,” she said.

Johnson said to get a vibrant economy, you have to have the ability to produce goods and services and attract people to come into your area. This is a huge piece and component to it, she said.

“If you have an employer, and they need to have — let’s just use manufacturing for instance — say that they need to have 50 employees trained on a specific piece of equipment, we’ll borrow their equipment, we’ll have them train the trainer down there, and we’ll have their employees trained and ready to go by the time their building is ready to go,” said Johnson.

The workforce development and training center will have an advisory board filled by business people who will have direct input on how the school is operated and how classes will be conducted.

“So if the state of Ohio tells us that there’s a pipeline of jobs that are going to be coming out, we’re going to be able to convert a classroom around to be able to accommodate some of those pipeline jobs, dependent on the interest we have of the people that are going to school. The other thing is we’re going to have a classroom where we can convert it around for a new manufacturer that comes in, so we always have a place to be able to train their facility. We also have the Peebles test operation, GE test operation, we’re talking to another school who has FAA certification, so we’re going to see if we can’t get some of those classes offered down there so GE can send some of their mechanics over to the workforce training center, we can get them FAA certified,” she said.

“If a judge sentences someone to the training center to make them get their GED or their high school diploma, once they enroll into a training class, the state of Ohio now allows them to get an equivalent to a high school diploma, it’s actually a high school diploma, so if they want to go in the military, they can do that. So if they have to go here, it’s in West Union, it’s easier to get people transported here, we’re working with FRS on some of the transportation issues also too, but if you have someone that’s in recovery, that they’re living in a transitional house, you know they’re clean and sober, they will be able to not only take their classes that they have to for counseling, for their treatment, but they’ll also be able to come down here to go to school to have a job waiting on them when they get done with their treatment,” said Johnson.

“I am a huge half-glass full kind of person. So I see nothing but positive coming from it, because when you have people that are unemployed, to get them transitioned into a job, there has to be job training, and you may get into a job that you don’t like, but if you can take a class in the evening and you drive passed it on your way home, it takes that hurdle out from you not going to get that additional training, so that was our goal with this,is to take that hurdle out. We have so many people that go to college, that do a first semester in college, and they’re too far from home, it costs too much, they don’t have their families support, you know this is right here in their county. So they’re going to be able to have their families support, not going to cost them that much, and they’ll be able to get a certification from it. So that’s what I see, I see us removing hurdles from people not being able to go to school,” said Johnson.

Johnson said the county is also working to secure $30.5 million in grants to build an industrial park in Winchester.

“So let’s say we get this school, we get it up and operational, and we get it working, so then what are we going to do with the trained workforce if we don’t have anyone here? I mean Adams County, Hamilton County, Clermont County, Brown County lots of times don’t have available space. Brown County has more than what Clermont and Hamilton does, but you know Adams County, we have large sections of land. When you come into U.S. 52, coming from Cincinnati East, because that’s the way we market the county, we’re now open for business. When you’re going to be able to look on the left-hand side and see industry right there, you’ve got the next four miles into the Village of Seaman that will be able to be operational for industry also, too,” said Johnson.

“By the time we get the northern part of that section done, the southern part where the power plants are at, will be by that time down and all of that property be cleaned up and ready for development and then we can focus on the southern end of the county. So that’s long-term goal. If you look at it small-time, you see the training facility, and the Winchester Industrial Park, but large-scale that’s four miles that has been opened up for industry to come in, and the possibilities are endless at that point in time,” she said.

“What we’re trying to do is just be able to make all of this come to fruition, to know that there are people working hard for them, you know we’re just trying to do the best and the right by the county. We truly are,” she said.

“We are bidding out the architect right now, and once we get it done, the plans will be done and we’ll be able to bid out, and in between the time of the architect we’ll go ahead and bid out demolition,” said Johnson. There’s going to be some movement within the next 30 to 45 days at the building, she said.

A glance at my television screen last Friday morning yielded a promotion for The Cincinnati Parks Krohn Conservatory’s Bloom and Grow Show. Bold, colorful tulips filled the screen. Tulips? In January? Count me in.

Having visited the conservatory’s elaborate Christmas show, I admit I was expecting something a little more dazzling from the current exhibit.

But while Bloom and Grow may not match the scale of the Christmas display, it is still a quaint, sweet and undeniably great exhibit to visit, especially when paired with time spent in the palm house section.

To both the right and the left of the showroom entrance, comfortable little nooks have been constructed for the young. Miniature white-picket fences and containers stuffed with daffodils outline the special sections. Nestled within the boundaries are small sets of colorful chairs and picnic tables designated for reading, writing and coloring.

Beyond the children’s area, a small path has been created among the existing evergreens and citrus collection. Sliced wood pavers are secured in mulch, large stones and a variety of plants and flowers. Coupled with the woodsy scents of the outdoors, the warm temperature momentarily transports us ahead to spring.

From the showroom, my husband and I stepped toward the palm house, entering on the right to approach the path counterclockwise. The dark green leaves of tall trees tangled together and stretched from the floor below to the ceiling. At the bottom of the stairs, in the water to our left, several large fish clustered together over coins tossed in by those hoping, perhaps, to have a wish granted.

My husband and I followed the cement-pebbled path until we reached the small, ornate bridge positioned in front of the fountain. Adjacent to the bridge was an empty bench, so we sat down. Surrounded by tropical trees from India, Southeast Asia and Australia, we were easily coaxed into remaining there for some time.

Outside, I reminded myself, soft flakes of snow swirled through the gray sky. Inside was a different story. Effortlessly, the setting created by the crashing water, fragrant plants and the balmy temperature removed us, albeit briefly, from the biting winter.

What often feels like an intolerable wait for spring, while immersed in such a setting, became a bit more manageable.

In conjunction with the show, several special family-friendly events are scheduled. Visitors will be able to pot a small plant on January 26 from 1 to 3 p.m., learn the history of chocolate on February 14, 15 and 16 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., sample chocolate after demonstrations on February 16 from 1 to 3 p.m., meet a horticultural expert on February 22 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., purchase an orchid from February 29 through March 1 and from March 10 through March 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Special events for adults, 21 and older with a valid ID, include: “Bloom and Grow Your Own Houseplants” on January 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission is $22 and includes the program, supplies and a drink. “A Match Made in Habitats: A Valentine Date Night” will be held on February 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person/$40 per couple and include drinks and food. “Botany and Brews” will be held March 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. The $15-ticket includes a beer.

Bloom and Grow runs now through March 8. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children ages 5 to 17 and free for children four and under. For more information, call 513-421-5707 or visit www.cincinnatiparks.com.

(Note: Marjorie Appelman is an English, communications and journalism teacher at Mason County High School and co-founder of the travel blog Tales from the Trip, which is on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. She can be reached at marj.appelman@gmail.com.

Many times I have stated that I was raised a country boy and that my dad was a farmer who raised a considerable amount of burley tobacco or as we referred to it as the “cash crop.” I’m not too sure just the how or why but when I moved into my teens my interest in using tobacco products increased and eventually it got my full attention.

Since everyone in my home smoked cigarettes except my mom (too busy and there was the cost), the urge to smoke or at least try increased more as the time moved forward. This was about the time the Marshall Brothers moved into the neighborhood and being of the same age we seemed to have the same urge. We had a problem though. We were not close to a store or old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes. So how were we gonna know if we really were interested or not. I am not sure who came up with the plan but we did the following. We would go out into the woods and look for dried out rag weed stems of good size. Then we broke the stem into the approximate length of a cigarette, hollow out the pithy part and find a very dry leaf and crumble it up and stuff it into the stem. Then with a book of matches that one of us would borrow and light our home made smoke. This was done many times as we were having trouble finding a leaf that didn’t cause us to feel sickly. When we used a dried tobacco leaf we decided it was the worst we had tried and we tried every leaf we could find.

Now this procedure neither enticed us nor deterred us from wanting to smoke. As we grew older we found ways to obtain some smokes and discovered that other than coughing a lot smoking wasn’t so bad and it made us feel like we were very mature doing this. Before I was 17 my dad set me down one morning and gave me the smoking is bad talk. He did this with a cigarette in his hand and the smoke swirling above his head. Honestly this killed any effectiveness that was in his speech. Not only did I take up smoking I was a very heavy smoker and reached four packs a day before I one day told myself it was time to stop. Fortunately I did and glad I did but I do understand just how a good smoke can be.

Now over all these years I will tell you I have tried all forms of tobacco use except dip as I don’t remember it being around when I was a teen. I smoked cigars and a pipe and these really gave me that distinguished look. I tried chewing tobacco (Beechnut as it was the sweetest in taste) but didn’t like it at all as I was afraid that I would get to focused on the sweet taste and forget and swallow and I have seen what happens to someone who does that. I did chew long green when we were stripping tobacco. A stripping room becomes very dusty when in use and chewing a leaf straight off the tobacco plant would help in cutting the dust out of my throat. Also it was bitter and harder to chew into juice and greatly reduced the chances of swallowing.

As for dip I just don’t understand why a person wants to do it. The difference between dip and chew is chew is shredded and must be chewed to extract the flavor where dip is shredded and all one has to do is put a pinch between the cheek and gum. A person doesn’t have to work to get the nicotine out like all the other mentioned products. Ah today’s generation I guess is wanting everything to come to them easier.

I am talking about tobacco because I have used it and raised it and in my case quit using it. Yes there is a calming feeling when in use. I just had to have a smoke after a meal. Relaxing I guess. My excuse is I started before they put the surgeon general’s warming on the side of the packs. With smoking comes all the paraphernalia needed such as a lighter and ash tray and there is the ashes and the odor left after the smoke is done and I never noticed this until I quit. As for chewing there is no way anyone can honestly say it isn’t a dirty habit. I guess I grew up around too many old farmers that chewed and there always was spit around the mouth and down the chin. One of the biggest recollections was of my grandpa Houser. He loved to chew and in those days big time wrestling came on at noon on the TV. Grandpa never missed it even though he claimed it to be fake but almost pounded the arms off of the chair. Grandma Houser never said a word but when he was done with the newspaper she covered the floor under and all around his spit tune. He was a poor aim to begin with but during Big Time Wrestling he never hit the spit tune at all. This is just my strongest recollection of why chewing ain’t cool these days.

Now there are many anti-smoking organizations out there and I do not belong to a one of them. I am just looking back and recalling that in the 50s 60s and even the 70s things were so different then as they are now and it is very hard to argue a positive case for tobacco usage in this day and age. But as long as we live in a country where freedom is still here a person still has that right to make the decision for their self. So enjoy either direction you choose but please be sure to place a lot of newspaper around a spittoon!

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and likes to tell stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.

Thinking about what I am going to fill you in on this week brought to mind the dearest person to me on earth. Meet my husband Daniel Yoder!

I got to know him 14 years ago and was immediately impressed with his easy-going personality and Godly character. To this day I’m still impressed and yes, I’m in love; yet how unspeakable are the many changes that have taken place since then. You know they say you spend the most time with the things that mean the most to you, but I’m not so sure about it in this case- that is unless you count the hours you’re sound asleep!

Last night as Daniel was sitting in the living room, and we were ready for our bedtime Bible story, he asked, “Who wants to sit with Daddy?”

There was a quick scramble with a chorus of, “I’ll sit with you!” (Including one from mom.) In moments he was covered up. Of course, I knew it was more needful for the children to have daddy than it was for me and besides that, there were a couple of children piled on and around me as well. Then my mind flips to my ideal of always sitting right next to Daniel to have family devotions. Gulp. What happened to it? I haven’t discarded the idea, but right now, there are five little ‘love tanks,’ as my dad would call them, that need lots of tender loving care, especially for those who had the trauma of being moved from their home to ours.

I’m okay to share my husband. I’m thrilled to share him with my children; it is of tremendous value for me to observe all of them bonding with him. But then there are those moments where I just need my man. Let me add, though; I have found Daniel’s advice to be profoundly true, though. Recently he encouraged me with the thought that the less we expect out of life the more joy we have. It’s true. If I don’t expect to have time or attention from Daniel, I am only delighted with little tidbits from him, such as the rare occasions we get to chat a few minutes after all the children have been tucked into bed. Then I think of all the single mothers out there and wonder how they cope, or those whose partners have stayed away from jobs and the likes.

Daniel and I have found that for us it’s not so much on having what we want, or the time we have done special things together as much as having our hearts set to love and please each other and that we have each other’s backs, no matter what. And you know children are much smarter than we give them credit. They can pick up any riffs that come between parents, and really, what is more, crushing to a child than sensing that Daddy and Mom are not on the same page? With our 10th wedding anniversary coming up in March, we were discussing various options of what we’d like to do. I told Daniel that I don’t care what we’ll be doing, as long as I can be with him. Perhaps my favorite thing to do with him is time spent together one on one, especially when we together just kneel and talk to the Lord in prayer.

So, back to Daniel. Besides being impressed with his calm, steady character, I was also intrigued by his beautiful wavy hair. In the summertime, when he works outside, they turn honey-colored, and in the winter, they return to their darker brown shade. And who gives Amish folks their haircuts, you ask? At our house, Daniel does most of it, and I get to do what is harder for him to reach. And for the boys, I usually do the two little ones, and Daniel does Austin.

Yes, I was drawn to his calm, easy-going character. But I didn’t expect I’d (that impulsive me) would be the one who he would choose! Just after my 19 birthday, my joy knew no limits when he asked my dad for his blessing to begin a friendship with me. Fifteen months later, my dream came true as we stood before my grandpa, and our hands were joined in marriage. In a way, it seems like a long time ago, so many things could have changed since then, but then I also stand in awe of the love from our Heavenly Father that does not grow old and even keeps things from tearing at the seams when all odds are against you. Now even though I do love my man like no other earthly love, I am very aware that we are a couple just like any others, and that is solely the Lord who has built and established it all.

Talking about those days makes me want to share a wedding recipe with you that we used on our special day.

Put lettuce in a bowl, top with cauliflower and broccoli. Spread dressing over top of it. Put cheese and bacon over it. Cover. This can set for 24 hours before serving. Wait to mix until ready to serve.

There are so many people who have known the late John H. Glenn, Jr. – fighter pilot, Mercury astronaut, United States Senator from Ohio – who believe he would have made a very good president of the United States.

But while he probably would have been a successful president, he wasn’t that good at being a presidential candidate, which is something of a prerequisite for the job.

Glenn ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984, putting himself forward as a candidate who could run and win against the Republican incumbent, Ronald Reagan.

As a reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer, I went to New Hampshire, the first primary state, in February 1984 for the express purpose of covering the Democratic primary and, most importantly, the campaign of our U.S. senator.

It is a small state – you can drive from the Massachusetts border to Dixville Notch in the northern tip in a few hours.

And, in the two New Hampshire primaries I covered (1984 and 1988), I encountered several blizzards that would have ground the entire state of Ohio to a screeching halt. But, in New Hampshire, blizzards were but a minor irritation; the road crews had the highways nearly spotless within a couple of hours.

And, being as small as it is, New Hampshire was just crawling with presidential candidates. You could hardly turn a corner without running into one.

But by the time I flew into Boston and got a rental car for the short drive to New Hampshire, John Glenn’s campaign was on its last legs.

The senator – despite being an historic, iconic figure for being the first American to go into space and orbit the Earth 22 years before – had one last chance to keep his presidential ambitions alive – the New Hampshire primary on February 28, 1984.

I arrived the week before the vote. It had barely been a week since Glenn was stunned by the results of the Iowa caucuses. He had finished a distant sixth in a crowded field; the establishment candidate, former Vice President Walter Mondale, smashed all the competition in Iowa.

When I finally caught up with Glenn and his wife Annie in the southern New Hampshire town of Nashua, he was putting on a brave face, but I could tell he knew his campaign was in deep trouble.

Annie Glenn, one of the kindest, most gentle people I have met in politics, probably put it best when she stopped at the Small World Day Care Center in South Nashua to greet parents as they picked up their kids.

Her husband was up in Keene, N.H., that day, but he joined his wife the next morning in Nashua, where the Glenn campaign had arranged for a free lunch, open to all, at a Nashua VFW hall.

John and Annie Glenn were gracious hosts, greeting all the hungry voters and sharing a lunch with them.

The candidate and I talked for a while and he told me that he was trying to get a message through to New Hampshire voters that may have escaped the Iowa caucus-goers. It was on signs and banners hung in the VFW Hall: John Glenn: More than just an American hero.

He wanted desperately for people to understand that he was not just the astronaut who risked his life circling the Earth in a tiny Mercury capsule. He was a U.S. senator, deeply involved in serious national and international issues and well respected on Capitol Hill.

“Nobody ever said this was going to be easy,” Glenn told me. “All I can do is keep plugging away.”

The pundits were saying he lost so badly in Iowa because his campaign relied too heavily on TV advertising and too little on the face-to-face, close-to-the-ground retail politics that Iowa (and New Hampshire) voters expect out of their presidential candidates.

But that kind of retail politics was never John Glenn’s strong suit. He never seemed to enjoy the back-slapping, baby-kissing, shake-every-hand-in-sight kind of campaigning.

It was not that he was unfriendly – he was a very friendly man. He enjoyed talking one-on-one with people and he enjoyed making speeches. He was very much still the small town boy from New Concord, Ohio, where people did not push themselves on to others. Where humility mattered.

Hundreds of Ohio volunteers – including then-governor Richard Celeste – showed up in New Hampshire to greet voters on street corners and in the bars and restaurants of dozens of towns.

I remember Celeste walking down a street in Manchester, tailed by a bunch of local kids who seemed to think this tall man was running for president. Kids, run home and bring your parents, Celeste told them, repeatedly.

In the meantime, Glenn was going into restaurants and veterans’ halls all over the state, talking with voters.

He wanted them to question him about foreign policy, about the national debt, about the economy, about science and technology. Instead, he usually got a slew of astronaut questions.

No, he would say, that was another astronaut – Neil Armstrong. He’s from Ohio, too. I was the first American to orbit the Earth.

All of this happened to be going on while a movie, The Right Stuff, based on Tom Wolfe’s book about the Mercury astronauts, was playing. Everyone wanted to talk about that, too.

Glenn – who was played by actor Ed Harris in the movie – tried to avoid the subject of the movie, even though he was, rightfully, portrayed as a brave and decent man.

It got under his skin, though, that there was a scene in the movie where the astronauts were having medical tests done. They were all shown – from behind toilet stall doors – giving semen samples. It wasn’t graphic at all; and it was played for laughs.

“I don’t really think it’s appropriate to show us like that,” Glenn said. “That was just a minor part of what we had to do to become astronauts.”

But, for some reason, some of Glenn’s Democratic opponents, started making fun of him as “Mr. Right Stuff,” which Glenn thought was denigrating what he did for his country.

He boiled over on the subject at a debate among the eight Democrats at St. Anselm College, a Benedictine school near Manchester. It was a big moment for all of the candidates.

“Jesse, you know I came from the period when Martin Luther King had the right stuff and he was working for it. And John Kennedy had the right stuff.”

Then, he started mimicking the thick Southern accent of Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings of South Carolina, a long-shot candidate.

“There’s been some laughs at my expense,” Glenn said, accusing Hollings of ridiculing his Mercury flight.

“He’s talked about me ’ being in the cap-suwl up there’ … there were a lot of folks back then, working in a lot of different areas – academic and scientific and civil rights – and it was a time when we were moving ahead.

Four days later, Glenn came in third with about 12 percent of the vote. The surprise winner over Mondale, the early favorite, was Sen. Gary Hart of Colorado.

Four years later, there was much talk about that the Democratic nominee, Michael Dukakis, would name Glenn as his running mate. It didn’t happen.

In October 1998, after retiring from the Senate, he became the oldest person to fly in space when he was a crew member of the space shuttle Discovery for nine days.

Howard Wilkinson is 91.7 WVXU’s senior political analyst. His “Tales from the Trail” column appears on wvxu.org every Friday and gives a behind-the-scenes look at Wilkinson’s 45 years of covering the campaigns, personalities, scandals and business of politics on a local, state and national level.

Our minds are not our own. Just yesterday afternoon I was preparing an exhaustive analysis of the Trump impeachment trial, when Aaron Arrasmith asked me if I had ever heard of the Mandela Effect.

How the occurrence got its name is just the beginning of the oddities you meet when you go down this particular rabbit hole. The title came courtesy of paranormal researcher Fiona Broome, who, yes, named it after Nelson Mandela. He died in 2013, but many people are sure he died in prison in the 1980s.

Our brains are already known to fill in the blanks when it doesn’t have a clear idea or concept. Pareidolia is the brain’s attempt to make sense out of senseless things. That’s why we see clouds in the sky that look like puppies or choo-choo trains and faces in potato chips and grilled cheese sandwiches. But remembering history erroneously is a whole new ball game.

The examples proffered on the Web are chuckle-worthy, such as people swearing up and down that the Monopoly Man sports a monocle (he does not). Or being sure Darth Vader said, “Luke, I am your father.”

Please excuse me if my grasp of Physics is sketchy — all I know I learned from “The Big Bang Theory.” My understanding of String Theory is that there are infinite realities containing every possible permutation of our existence.

The theory has several names. Call it Multiverse, Maniverse, Megaverse, Metaverse, Omniverse, or Meta-Universe, but the meaning is the same: a group of multiple realities existing in different dimensions at the same time.

Imagine there is a universe next door where your biggest regret does not exist. A world where you achieve your greatest desire. Or it could be the reverse. Perhaps this reality is the best of your possible lives across all dimensions.

But back to the Mandela Dilemma. Despite what your brain tells you, the cartoons you enjoyed on Saturday mornings were Looney Tunes, not Toons. Curious George does not have a tail. C-3PO has a Silver Leg. Kelloggs makes Froot Loops. Yet your mind might rebel at the thoughts.

Albert Einstein recognized that space and time are not easily separated. His Theory of Relativity suggests reality is composed of a four-dimensional space-time. In other words, everything that has ever happened and ever will happen already exists.

For me, that’s a fun thought, because it would seem (to my non-scientific mind) that the theory makes time travel possible. If the Past, Present and Future already occupy space-time, traveling back to the past or into the future would just be a matter of altering the perceptions in one’s mind. Who knows? Maybe Déjà vu is a case of a temporary time glitch where your mind does a stutter-step through reality.

In conclusion, there is not a hyphen on the packages for Kit Kat bars. There is no Jiffy peanut butter. The Flintstones has two Ts. Freddy Mercury, at the end of Queen’s “We are the Champions,” does not end the song with “… of the world.”

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Se your mind on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature…” Colossians 3:1-5

I was reminded this week of the Sunday school song “O be Careful Little Eyes”. Just a refresher, it includes verses that say: be careful little eyes what you see, ears what you hear, tongue what you say, hands what you do, feet where you go, heart whom you trust, mind what you think, because the Father up above is looking down in love.

This coincided with a conversation I had earlier this week. God has designed us all beautifully, different, and He has equipped us with different talents, interests, and tendencies along with that comes differing convictions, responsibilities, and tolerations. Thank goodness, because wouldn’t it be bland if we were all cookie cutter humans.

So, what was the conversation about? TV. I am not hip to all the new shows and movies because I don’t voluntarily watch TV/movies. After a recent chat, I learned I’m not the only one who forgoes on the shows. My decision to cut out, most if not all, TV/movies was not a hasty or hard one.

It took time reflecting and piecing together various things about myself before I realized that I feel most heart healthy and peaceful without extra (world) stuff bouncing around inside my mind. Even though I watched decent, wholesome stuff, I felt distracted. I finally realized that I prefer the quiet over “background noise”, and that’s okay. I have an overactive imagination which makes me sensitive to a lot of materials out there. I, like most, a tendency to binge watch, which absorbed my limited and precious commodity- time. Most importantly, though, I noticed that most stuff out there would only hinder my walk with God. Even if it wasn’t “bad”, it was not adding anything to my walk. A complete entertainment embargo isn’t necessary. The Holy Spirit, who dwells within us, will alert me of the things that should be avoided.

Life is so individual, so what works will not be the answer for all, but God wants us to wholeheartedly follow Him. Watching TV might be a detrimental habit for one while it’s an uplifting time for others. The list of possible habits that can drive us away from God is staggering. We operate at different paces and on different levels because God created us that way. He did, however, create us with limits. Lines that shouldn’t be crossed lest we damage our soul. We have to spend time with God, learning His heart and His character, and letting His Spirit lead us in the way of righteousness to realize what habits are healthy and unhealthy for us.

We owe our eternal lives to God for the undeserved gift of salvation. Out of gratitude, we can honor him with the time we have on earth by concentrating on things above. We should be exceedingly selective in the material we decide to meditate upon. That’s what entertainment is after all, time for your mind to absorb. The things we choose to entertain our eyes, ears, and body with temporarily have direct and lasting effects on our hearts and minds, because we think on those things, react to those things, dream about those things, and promote those things. As ambassadors of Christ we should wave the flag of truth and light, not of darkness or modernity.

By honoring God here on earth, we might be considered odd because we don’t watch the same shows as other people do. Or, maybe we don’t talk like other people do or go where others go. The list of habits goes on. Maybe people think we’re wound too tightly or backward, but wouldn’t we rather listen to our convictions instead of fitting in? Wouldn’t we rather stand with Jesus, who died for us, who redeemed us, who advocates for us, and who will stand with us when we stand face-to-face with our Father in heaven? Don’t we want Jesus to confidently say, yes, my bother or my sister, honored me in all areas, the big and the small.

Life shouldn’t be taken too seriously to where we miss opportunities to make enjoyable memories, but at the same time, we shouldn’t make habits out of enjoying things that produce temporary pleasure over God-consciousness. God gives us true joy after all. This life is a battle for our souls. The Devil will not rest in his quest. His mission is destruction, and we are his targets. For those things that seem inconsequential or innocent enough, we ought ask the Spirit to speak truth to us. We need to ask, what am I allowing into my spirit that steers me away from truth and thoughts from above. Is this thing driving me deeper in my walk of keeping me superficial?

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sister, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans12:1-2

Judith Cooley teaches Language Arts and Drama. Follow her Facebook page @pondervotional for more encouragement.

Kirk Tolle, Mason County Circuit Clerk, said the following jurors are scheduled to report for jury duty in Mason County District Court on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, at 9:30 a.m. for the term ending on May 26, 2020.

They include Sarah Ballard, Sidney Baxter, Kelly Blizzard, Angela Clark, Carolyn Collins, Crystal Doyle, Bradley Elliott, Judy Gallenstein, Shannon Hamilton, Tammy Hamilton, Kelly Harrison, Mark Henderson, Cody Hilterbrand, Chris Horne, Jim Jones, Linda King, Jim Lennex, Mike McDaniel, Wanda McHugh, Bonnie Mitchell, Phyllis Moran, Roger Orme, Mickey Perry, Roy Powell, Jennifer Purcell, Kari Ream, Mailea Reese, Christopher Shelton, Bradwell Slater, Jason Stahl, Patti Thomas, Steve Ullery, Gary Wells, James Werline, Robert Wheary, Margaret White, Marla Wilcox, Kayla Workman and Elizabeth Zeigler.

Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, will mark 100 years since the original enforcement of the Volstead Act, commonly known as Prohibition.

While thousands of bars, restaurants, retail establishments, and even distilleries, will be celebrating this “momentous” occasion, those whose lives and livelihoods were devastatingly affected by our Federal Government’s cruel “noble experiment” will be marking the occasion in a more somber fashion. We will be reflecting on the number of hard working men and women economically displaced, and those whose lives were irreversibly affected, by this 13 year fiasco, doomed from the beginning to have any meaningful impact to cease America’s habits of consuming “spirituous” beverages.

The Volstead Act, originally passed by Congress in December 1917, was then sent to the individual states for ratification. State legislatures moved to endorse the amendment after years of politically charged debate across every state. On Jan. 16, 1919, Nebraska became the 36th state to ratify the Eighteenth Amendment giving the amendment the three-fourths majority of states needed for enactment of the measure. Congress approved the 18th Amendment on Oct. 28, 1919, overriding President Wilson’s veto. The resolution’s provision that the prohibition of “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited,” was to go into effect within one year of the states’ ratification. January 1920 loomed. The Prohibition Amendment remains the only Constitutional Amendment to eradicate our citizens’ individual rights as opposed to conferring individual rights on U.S. citizens.

Our grandfather, Henry E. Pogue III, volunteered for the Navy in World War I on April 12, 1917, at the age of 22. His father, H.E. Pogue II, was the second generation distiller and owner of the H.E. Pogue Distillery, Inc., in Maysville, founded in 1876. Many writers of bourbon whiskey history document Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky, as “the birthplace of bourbon.” When H.E. Pogue II was killed in a distillery accident on March 2, 1919, our grandfather, H.E. Pogue III, became the distiller and owner of the H.E. Pogue Distillery, Inc. At the time H.E. Pogue III assumed the reins of the H.E. Pogue Distillery, the distillery employed more than 150 people in Maysville. The distillery had a mashing capacity of more than 50 barrels of whisky daily. A newspaper article at the time stated, “it is said by those who know that there is no better distillery in Kentucky”. Original correspondence from the early 1900s reveals orders from Arizona, Oklahoma, and even as far as Japan. The newspaper account went on to report that the Pogue Distillery had “built up a large business strictly through honorable methods” and “enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best known and best patronized in the State of Kentucky.”

Within months of assuming responsibility for the distillery at the age of 23, the Federal Government ratified the Volstead Act. Our grandfather had to end the employment of 150 people whose livelihoods depended on working in the distillery. Maysville, had approximately 5,000 citizens in 1920. These people whose livelihoods were destroyed had no other means of employment. The distillery also had 120,000 square feet of warehoused whiskey, the value of which became virtually useless almost overnight. A newspaper article dated Aug. 11, 1926, noted that the distillery’s warehouses ceased operations as a federally approved government storage warehouse. The article concluded, “So many thousands of barrels have entered and departed that if turned into terms of money at bootleg prices, it would far exceed the national debt. The passage of the Volstead Act made sure the passing of this business.”

During Prohibition our grandfather was forced to sell warehouse receipts, the legal currency for barrels stored in warehouses, for pennies on the dollar. The owners of these warehouse receipts were the rightful owners of the barrels listed on the receipts.

Most of these warehouse receipts were legally sold and purchased by opportunistic bootleggers such as “The King of the Bootleggers” George Remus. Remus is legendary in Prohibition history as a pharmacist turned lawyer turned bootlegger, who moved to Cincinnati in 1920 to establish bootleg operations so he could be within 150 miles of 80 percent of the whiskey in the United States. Remus made $75 million between 1920 and 1922, and his bribery of government officials is said to have gone from the lone gauger at distilleries (the government employee responsible for keeping track of distillery stock) to the inner circles of President of the United States Warren G. Harding.

Having been forced to conduct business with the likes of George Remus undoubtedly took a huge personal toll on our grandfather, a very honorable person who had a wife and two young children under the age of 5 at the time (our father and uncle). Our grandfather began carrying a pistol on his hip and corresponded continuously with Remus and his “lieutenants” responsible for conducting the “seedy” side of Remus’ bootlegging empire. Numerous letters enclosing tax documents to Remus, who eventually went to jail for tax evasion, and notes of Federal Revenue agents appearing at the distillery looking for documents pertaining to Remus, all were agonizingly documented in letters in our possession sent to Remus in 1920 and 1921. One can only imagine the world our grandfather endured in less than one year after overseeing one of the most respected distillery businesses in the United States to conducting business with the likes of George Remus. He easily had to fear for his own life and those of his young family on a daily basis. And this, all due to a great failed “noble experiment” by our government. In fact, both our father and our uncle frequently lamented in their later years their father, H.E. Pogue III’s stern edict to “never go into the whiskey business” due to its cruel nature.

Even those in the temperance movement at the time and the leading crusaders of the Anti Saloon League acknowledged that Prohibition would likely not cease America’s ability to obtain alcohol. Prohibition is said to be responsible for today’s organized crime syndicates, the illegal drug trade, the loss of millions of dollars in tax revenue for the government at the beginning of the Great Depression, unemployment for tens of thousands of individuals who relied on the distilleries, bars and restaurants for their livelihoods, and many other continuing effects. So, while some may see the anniversary of the implementation and enforcement of Prohibition as a time to celebrate, we will take the time to remember the devastating effects it had on our family, our distillery, and the lives of countless others that could have been avoided.

Peter H. Pogue is the president of The Old Pogue Distillery, in Maysville, often referred to as “bourbon’s birthplace.” The Old Pogue Distillery was reincorporated in 1998 and is a family owned distillery situated on the family’s original distillery grounds. The distillery operates under its original number of DSP-KY-3. The information for this article came from preserved documents in the Pogue family’s possession, many of which are on display in the museum exhibit at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center in Maysville.

IBMA 2019 winners of New Artist of the Year, Album of the Year and Instrumental of the Year, Carolina Blue, will be coming to Years of Farming on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, at 2 p.m., at Double S Entertainment 150 Foster Street, Flemingsburg.

The Mountain Music Ambassadors will be the opening band. Tickets are $15 available in advance or at the door. Children 12 and under accompanied by an adult are admitted free. Attendees will have the chance to win door prizes provided by our sponsors including two tickets to our Feb. 16 show featuring Junior Sisk with Open Highway as the opening band.

Bobby Powell and Tim Jones co-founded Carolina Blue in 2007. Their latest album — I Hear Bluegrass Calling Me — has created a buzz within the bluegrass industry, particularly “Rusty Rails,” which has been a stalwart in the top 5 on the bluegrass charts, including No. 1 for several weeks. Moreover, at least three other songs from the 13-track album have seen chart success. But the highlight of the band’s success thus far came this year when the International Bluegrass Music Association nominated them for three awards: New Artist of the Year, Album of the Year for I Hear Bluegrass Calling Me, and Instrumental Recording of the Year for “Fried Taters & Onions,” penned by the band’s banjoist, James McDowell. “We’re really proud of that song winning because of the five instrumentals that were nominated for the award, it was the only one that was original and not a cover tune,”

Powell is proud that Carolina Blue’s music is original. “Seventy-five percent of our show is original tunes. Our mission statement is to present bluegrass music like Bill Monroe intended it to be without being a Bill Monroe cover band. By far, he is our biggest influence. Our audiences see a lot of heavy fiddlin’ and mandolin work. We do a lot more three-part harmony than Monroe, but we’ll do some bluegrass gospel quartet tunes with just mandolin, guitar, and four-part singing.

Powell (guitar and vocals) said he and the Carolina Blue band members, which includes Jones (mandolin and vocals), McDowell (banjo and vocals), Reese Combs (upright bass and vocals) and Aynsley Porchak (fiddle, recipient of the 2018 IBMA Momentum Instrumentalist Award), “are on the same page when it comes to music and lifestyle. We’re not a partying band. We’re all conservative Christians and we reflect that as a band, too.”

One thing you will notice immediately is how the band dresses. Porchak’s attractive headwear is a throwback to the 1940s and 50s. Not to be outdone, the male members of the band have taken to that periodic style of dress with ties and hats to match. “We try to dress nicely for our audiences,” said Powell. “Tim and I have two mentors in North Carolina – Roy Chapman and Joe Byers. They taught us to try to dress better than the folks who are paying money to see us play. They told us to respect our audience.”

“Contrary to popular opinion, Carolina Blue, it has nothing to do with Chapel Hill (University of North Carolina). Tim Jones named the band. He said we’re a bluegrass band and we’re from the state of North Carolina, hence Carolina Blue. We’re proud to represent our home state.”

“We’re a 12-year overnight success,” said Bobby Powell, laughing. “Three years ago, [Carolina Blue] was playing local BBQ restaurants around our hometown. In 2019, we’ve had about 120 shows all over the country, playing at festivals and venues that we only dreamed about. We’re meeting new people, and our music is appreciated by a lot of folks who are driving hours to see us. That’s very humbling. And we give God the glory for that because we asked Him to turn this into a career instead of a hobby.”

The Mountain Music Ambassadors represent Morehead State University‘s Kentucky Center for Traditional Music. This flagship group of musicians includes students earning a bachelor of arts degree in traditional music. MSU is one of the very few universities in the world that offers this degree. Through the years the Mountain Music Ambassadors have toured across the US and internationally.

Our goal is not only to provide bluegrass music in our area, but also to promote our local businesses. We are pleased to be sponsored by 48 local businesses that employ more than 500 people in our community including five other great festivals/venues in our area. Most of our sponsors have sponsored all our shows we have scheduled since 2011. We appreciate our sponsors whether this is their first show to sponsor or if they have sponsored all and we hope you will thank them for helping us bring such great groups to Flemingsburg. Please take the time to thank our sponsors for helping us bring great bluegrass music to Flemingsburg.

We hope you will join us at Years of Farming for an afternoon of awesome bluegrass music. It is a great opportunity to see this caliber of artists in our area in an indoor facility! If you are not familiar with any of our bands, whether a feature band or an opening band, check their websites and/or YouTube for some of their music and history and you will want to attend! Keep checking our website www.yearsoffarming.com for updates in our schedule. For more information, tickets or to tag seats, you can contact Paula Hinton at 606-748-0798 or paulahinton2000@yahoo.com.

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