Mothers Day wishes

1971, Christmas.  I was 21, hadn’t met my husband yet. Mom was 63. These are from left to right Ralph (Buddy), Margaret Anne, Mom, me, Sharon Rose. Four of her five children in the same room, something that didn’t happen more than a handful of times. Missing from the photo was her first, Mary.

I wish I’d known Mom had 20 Mothers Days left. Had someone told me I would have called that a lot, that it was way far away. Twenty years are nothing in retrospect.

I wish I’d have made more of those 4 day weekend trips. We were only 500 miles apart, an 8 hour drive.  Phone calls and cards were sometimes late.  I had two little ones and time got away from me.  Although we did call. We did visit. Just not enough when I look back.

Time flies.

I think she understood.  I think, having been transplanted away from her family by 600+ miles and two states, she wasn’t surprised that visits were sometimes far apart.

I wish we’d taken better pictures.  I wish we’d had digital cameras so we could keep snapping until we were all looking at the camera, nobody was talking and nobody got cut off.  I wish we’d gone to a studio.  Although there are studio pictures here and there, the vast majority of our collective memories are captured in shadow, on faded Polaroids, in black and white, somebody with their eyes closed.

I wish I could call her in the middle of the day on a week day and hear her ask “who died” because it was higher phone rates.  If she hadn’t been in her 40’s when I came along unexpectedly, I wouldn’t have lost her in my 40’s and I could still visit.  She’d be 103 now.  Some things we can’t control.

I wish we’d had a movie camera.

I wish I’d listened more closely to her stories of her youth and the family. I did listen, but I wish I’d written them down.

I’m almost her age now that she was in the snapshot.  Buddy’s gone. Sharon’s husband, gone.  All our kids are grown.  The good lookin’ husband I hadn’t met then has white hair now. Still my man.

My family got together for a week last year, 2010. I wanted a professional set of pictures, pro shots as well as snapshots.  A mother-daughter pose, a father-son pose, a mother-son, a father-daughter, a girls only and a guys only, a Nana with the grandsons shot, a Poppy with boys, a three generation of men and of course the group, goofy and formal.  I want. I didn’t get. I’ll try again next time to arrange it. I’ll even pay for it.

Sixty-three sounds old to the young. “Hey, Grandma, that’s almost to the end” from my four year old son to my mother-in-law when she turned 68.  Yeah, well, you live long enough and at some point you’re almost to the end.  I’m a ways away from the end.  But once you cross the 44 line, statistically you’re halfway there.  I am a ways away the other side of 44.  I’m forty-twenty-one.

I do have a long term retirement plan in a dwelling place far far away close enough to visit Mom frequently.  In the meantime, I wish I could see her face and wish her a Happy Mothers Day, like she’s moping around in HEAVEN!!!

So. That settled, here’s a happy wish to all the mothers of young ones, grown ones, new mothers, grandmothers, mothers to be.

All we ever have is the current.  Love your moms now, don’t put it off.  Take a picture of her, of yourself or kids, write down that you love her. Thank her for raising you. If the least you can do is send a picture in a card, send it.

And have a great day.

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My favorite Max

Once upon a time we had at that time most of Max Lucado’s books.  Then one year as the church garage sale was fast approaching, my spouse, Mr. We-Don’t-Need-This-Anymore-Do-We, scooped up our entire collection from which Mrs. I-Might-Need-This-Again-Someday, that’s me, later retrieved a select three volumes. Continue reading

Things I learned from Joyce that I already knew and maybe forgot

“Let’s get over our sweet little selves and do something.”

She was talking about giving and doing.   In case you don’t know who I’m talking about, I’m talking about Joyce Meyer.  And in case you just went into a mental balisticon over television preachers that say to give seed offerings or why women should keep silence in the church, that women shouldn’t preach or something about the evils of the filthy rich charletons’ private jets, save it. You obviously haven’t listened to Joyce Meyer, nor have you taken a look at her financials posted on the www to know that a clean 80 cents of every dollar that comes into the ministry goes overseas to dig wells and feed people.  So listen up…

She addressed the attitude of wasting time on doctrine when she spoke of those of us who are still stuck on the constant argument of baby baptism vs. immersion.  I love her answer….

“So do them both! Then get off it and do something for somebody else!”

Here’s another thing —  works vs. faith.  I object to any church telling me what my mission is.  Nursery is not it.  President of Women’s Circle is not it.  Leader of vacation Bible school is not it.  Been there, done that, crashed and burned.  If you’re talking about salvation, it’s faith in Jesus that saves.  Works don’t earn salvation nor do works earn points in heaven when you do good works for points.  (motive, motive, motive).  Joyce points out that we are to follow Jesus’ example.  He rose each day and went about doing good.  We should then do good because doing good is a good thing to do without thinking how good you are.

How simple is that?  She went a step further to state that no longer would she ask God for an angel appearance or hold a 4 week seminar on hearing from God before she donated a ten spot somewhere to know for sure if giving the $10 is God’s will.  Her new deal with God is that He is to stop her from giving, that she’s going to give and do until He says don’t do that, you’ve done quite enough.

“Indifference finds an excuse.  Love finds a way.”

What would happen if we all adopted that attitude?  Take it another step.  Put cash in the plate.  Send cash to a ministry with no return address, no way for the ministry to know you gave, no trace of your donation to report to the IRS for a tax deduction and therefore no credit to you to prove how wonderful you are.  Hmmmm……

Do we know how to forgive and why? Do it.  You don’t need to study it again.

Have we heard enough yet on the basics?

Max Lucado’s story on the candles in the closet who won’t come out to light the room for a multitude of reasons — too shy, still studying, need a sign — is a classic.

Things I learned from Joyce Meyer today — somebody out there needs me now.

Save it just in case

When shoulder pads from the 40’s disappeared 15 minutes into the ’50s, most people got rid of them. The same was true of platform shoes, and button hooks. The list is long. Platforms and shoulder pads came back in the 80’s. Keep them somewhere. That was 20 years ago already. I’ll give it another 15 and you’ll see them reinstated as new. Art deco redressed itself in the 60’s and wallpaper resurrected in the 70’s and 80’s.

Some people are squirrels in human form. For the terminal squirrel, it’s painful to throw away anything that is:

  • not broken
  • fixable
  • potentially useful
  • once upon a time useful
  • used at least once
  • never been used
  • of any sentimental value real or imagined
  • could be valuable in any way to anyone now or someday
  • may be in style again whether the keeper is alive to see it or not

The last one is the most powerful to squirrels. Oh, I’m sorry! I should say “keepers”! To a genealogist, keepers are saints. Finding a box of forgotten trivia is tantamount to a detective breaking a case. That’s when rejects become treasures. Let me know when Antique Road Show is in town!

I was minding my own business in my cubie, earphones in place when something shiny caught my eye. Immediately, ADHD, a diagnosis not yet officially made, caused me to stare at a stalk of shimmering silvery foil reaching skyward from our supervisor’s cubie. Company issued keyboard brush? The lady next to his cubie has a couple of years’ worth of mysterious leftover food substances imbedded in her keyboard so it was a fair question.

As I stared, it wiggled and jiggled and started moving toward the wall. I’m checking this out.

Me: Wow, I haven’t seen one of these since I was short. That’s ….. a while.

Supv: My mom has one in the attic in its original box, the color wheel, the plastic sleeves to store the branches and the price tag.

Me: about $12.95, right?

Supv: Around that. Someone offered her $500 and she turned it down. She let us use it on our apartment balcony one year. This one is a retro Wendy found online.

The color wheel was activated and the steady stream of people whose grandmas had one way back when oohed and aahed. Nostalgia impresses me, but what impresses me more is that a corporation of our size, a bank, no less, in today’s world where a school in California formed a task force to make sure the winter celebration didn’t offend any in the 14% of the population who claims not to believe in God, a world where they can’t wear red after December 1st, a world in which Santas in Australia are told to say ha, ha, ha because ho, ho, ho scares children, doesn’t grey us down or dumb us down but allows employees to put up trees and exchange gifts and actually say Merry Christmas to each other. Welcome to the Bible belt. The ACLU is around but not victorious yet.

My friend across my cube wall is a Jehovah’s Witness. We both get to choose and to be. Last year I gave her an unwrapped gift “just because” and she said thank you.

Giant

Saturdays never are. One of my projects was to clean up the computer corner, the design of which can only be described as Abandoned Landfill with a touch of Early Cave Dweller. I made a small start: one can see 20% of the oak surface.

Laundry is moving right along. I’ve done one load of towels, darks are in the washer. The blanket for the Oct 8 Buddy Walk is nearing the bordering process, I ran one errand, colored my hair, snacked, and am in the middle of Giant. That’s what I wanted to talk about.

Giant, 1956, filmed partially in Texas, starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, Dennis Hopper, Chill Wills , and presenting Caroll Baker. What you may not know is that James Dean, the first official role model for cool,

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Mary

Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Oh Mary did you know—

The blind will see, the deaf will hear,the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb—.

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great–I— AM—.

Music by Buddy Greene
Lyrics by Mark Lowry

She was a an unwed teenage mother whose fiance, knowing the child wasn’t his, married her anyway amidst an unforgiving community with clear cut rules concerning what should have been done to her.

The traditional Jewish wedding of her day was a week long party.  When the groom’s father had the new room ready for the newlyweds, the groom knocked on her door and took her.  She was to be carried through the streets by her friends and family and so the festivities commenced.  Not so for Mary.  She gave it up.

Put her away or stone her.  This pregnancy wasn’t imposed.  The angel asked her.  She said yes.

We know little else.  We can only speculate on her and Joseph’s relationship.  Was Joseph resentful?  Did he treat the boy Jesus too sternly?  How did they weather the glances and the whispers?  In Jesus’ adulthood, into His ministry, He was still referred to as “Mary’s son.”

And then, after doing their best, He claims to be the Son of God, no less.  If the initial angel appearance and one dream were their only signs, that and their faith was all they had to affirm their decision to marry and raise the boy together.  What I wouldn’t give for an angel appearance! In fact, I have had my belief in Jesus confirmed supernaturally more than once.  I can tell you for a fact that as I’ve proceeded from those special moments, the enemy is right there in my ear to tell me it was my imagination and I have to think, remember, and say, no, that was real.  How easy it would have been for Mary and Joseph to give up.

By the time Jesus’ ministry began, historians suggest Joseph had died.  Whether he died or slipped into the background, or simply left Mary, he isn’t mentioned again after the trip to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve.  Joseph was no where to be seen when Jesus was on the cross.  Apparently none of Jesus’ siblings was willing to take Mary in. Was there family discord concerning Jesus and His claims of deity?  One of the 7 statements concerned the care of His mother.

Mary knew Who He was and what He had to do.  Scripture says she pondered in her heart the circumstances around Jesus birth.  Gnostic writings say that Jesus, as a young boy, would raise dead birds back to life.  True or false?  Who knows?  Does that fit your image of Jesus’ later ministry?  Maybe, if not resurrected wildlife, there were other undeniable signs that Mary knew about as He was growing up. Why else would she expect Jesus to “do something!” at the wedding in Cana?  She knew something others didn’t.  The unusual goodness of His behavior compared to her other “normal” little rowdies would tell it for me.

Those around Him called Him crazy.  His siblings called him crazy.  If Mary believed Jesus to be even dillusional by calling Himself the Messiah, would she have stood by silently watching anyone torturing her misdirected son before her eyes?  She was helpless to stop it anyway, but silent?  Just standing there?

Put yourself in her sandals.  Do you see yourself silent or begging for his life?  Do you see yourself standing or being held back as you are trying to claw your way toward him to protect him, screaming all the while? Do you see yourself back at the house, prostrate, hysterical, being held down, or on Golgotha, standing near Him, watching?  In Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, we see Mary at the foot of the cross scooping rocks in her fist as if to defend or avenge.  But scripture says in John 19:26 that she was standing near with John, and I suggest John was literally holding her up.

Did she know that this baby she rocked in her arms was the Savior, the Messiah? That’s what the angel said.  Did she know that she was in need of saving and that His blood had to be shed for her too? Yes, maybe not that day, but soon after.

Simeon said to Mary in the temple in Luke 2:35 that a sword would pierce through her soul.

I honor Mary’s obedience, faithfulness, and courage in the face of constant adversity and the ultimate pain that only a mother would endure.  Though favored of all women, she didn’t have it soft.

The Star shone on Saturday night.

Another weekend.  Gone.

It happens every Monday.  Someone Everyone greets each other with “Hi, how was your weekend?”  What they are expecting to hear is “Fine” to which they respond “That’s nice.” You could be in a wheelchair wearing 3 casts and breathing through a tube and they would still expect to hear “Fine” so they can chirp “That’s nice” because they are walking and not looking.  My answer is usually “I forget” or “Let me think.”  It just doesn’t matter anymore.

I have noticed as I get older that time is spinning faster and faster just like that last roll of toilet paper as it gets closer and closer to the core.  Weekends are breaking records.  They pick up speed significantly around noon on Saturday and accelerate to the speed of a freight train on steroids until they crash into the alarm clock Monday morning, violently pitching me out of bed.

I have choices on weekends–plans that I can make in advance to brighten up this nano-second in time with something memorable.  Or I can vegatate with the remote, or search for the misplaced ToDo list.  Or not.  This particular weekend we chose wisely — a bright spot.  We attended a performance of Star Queen  at the church.

Ya gotta check it out here.  Just do it.  This is not Amateur Night.  These guys have the goods.  They are pros.  Just because it’s in a church…okay, I made my point.  They read the Book of Esther in the Bible of all places and made it into a musical.  And wrote the music.  Jazzy, imrov, funny.  Something you’d see on Broadway.  I’m impressed.  I’m even more impressed that John tommy Oaks, educated, experienced in the field of music, and highly trained, is using his talents and training in a ministry when he could be setting fires in the secular music industry.  God bless you, J.t.

Oh! And here’s the website:  http://www.johnthomasoaks.com/star-queen.html

Have you ever, when looking for something to do, thought to pick up a Bible and read a story in the Old Testament?  Me, neither.  Is the language a little stuffy, a little hard to follow?  Pick up a Message translation.  It’s a read-aloud paraphrase that talks to you like someone at street level.

There’s Xerxes the King, Esther, the drop-dead gorgeous Jewess (sshh, that’s a secret) queen, her cousin Mordecai the Jew, evil Haman (picture the black hat, cape, and handlebar mustache [yah ah ah] and hiss at him), a cast of several, and pagan parties in which the king orders excessive drinking.  A phrase you’ve heard several times if you’re over the age of 10, is “for such a time as this.”  Yup, that’s from the Book of Esther.  Also, “if I perish, I perish.”  Book of Esther again.  Esther’s name is translated Star and she was the Queen in Persia.  Star. Queen. Get it? ok, then.

John tommy and sometimes his dad, Thomas, or someone else, travel with Star Queen.  All parts are played by as few as two of them, using hats and wigs. They’re not just East TN performers although this is home.  Contact them.  Invite them to your church, community playhouse, whatever.  This is a production not to be missed.

Tomorrow is Monday.  Again.  After the train crashes at 5-whatever, that’s a.m., I’ll coax the sleep out of my eyes and head for work.  As I make very sure the coffee pot is running and check the email, someone will cruise past my door and ask how my weekend was.  They’d better slow down, ’cause this time I have an answer other than just “Fine.”

Train’s Comin’!!

The CB&Q and the Santa Fe railroads , double tracks each, crossed paths a mere block from our house where I grew up in Cameron.  Click on the second bar up from the plus sign on the map, click west once.  What you see as 180th was as I remember it, the Cameron Blacktop.  Neither did I know it as Railroad Street.  To save us all a little time, there were no street names when I lived there.  Zip zero nada.  It didn’t take long to know where you were going, so there was no need.  Our house faced Railroad Street, was halfway between West St. and Pearl and the back yard touched Vine which I remember as two dirt & gravel tire strips with grass between them.  I would like to think it was called Vine because Mom’s grapevines are still there.


Cameron Train Station
That’s the Cameron station on March 21, 1943.  I don’t know when it ceased to be a passenger stop.  How sad.  I remember once peeking in the window and seeing benches, broken and in disarray that had once been polished and proud to be a part of a bustling society.  When I was there, the only attention paid to Cameron was grabbing the mail bag from the hook and throwing off another one, not even slowing down.

Easter 1965180th becomes Railroad St. at the via duct, or overpass, where the two rail lines cross, seen easily
behind The Nan, Easter, 1965.  I used to climb on the supports every chance I had, but don’t tell her.  Once, as I was driving into town from the west, I saw four trains, two heading east, two heading west, meet at the overpass, all laying on the horns.  Of course the conductors had to be waving at each other. That didn’t happen often, and only once in my memory.

Backtrack a little to Easter 1956.  1956 Murphy girls That’s me, aged 6.  You can tell how close to the tracks we were. CB&Q was Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy.  That would be the one directly behind us as it was more East and West.  The line crossing diagonally Southwest had to be the Santa Fe.

Let me tell you, those trains were loud, not only the whistles but the racket the wheels and tracks produced.  In the summer evenings, the routine was as follows:  Train’s comin’! One kid closes the front door, another closes the windows, another turns up the TV as loud as it goes.  Stand your post until the train is gone, open the door, open the windows, turn down the volume and race for the good chairs.  Someone always ends up bawling that the other one got the rocker and so it goes.  Happens every night.  But you can’t miss a word of Lassie, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, or Lucy.

Did the trains run during sleep hours?  Ask Stan.

Litchfield was only a day’s drive from Cameron.  When we visited, Stan and I were put up in the better front bedroom.  What an honor.  If it was summer, the windows were open as there was no AC.  So…… the whistle sounds in the distance.  It gets louder and louder.  The light on the front of the engine is sweeping back and forth, its beam bouncing in and out of the bedroom window.  Walls are rumbling, eyeballs are vibrating, and you swear the bed is dancing as the horn is held down and 100 freight cars scream through town right in front of the Murphy homestead.  Speeds varied from around 40 mph for freights to 60 mph for Zephyrs but it seemed like forever before it was gone.  After one or two nights, you get used to it and sleep right through.  It even becomes comforting after a time.

Did Stan get much sleep on his vacation to the in-laws?

Some memories are priceless.

Youngest Son to Youngest Son

Check out the hat.  Some looks just don’t last, do they?

Leslie Ethel RusselThere was no date on the back, nor were there names.  But I happen to know that Susan Ethel Parrish Murphy is on the left, my dad, Elmer Russel Murphy is on the right, and the little guy in the middle is Leslie Murphy, son of Herman, dad’s older brother.  I can’t be sure of the date, but it’s somewhere in the 30’s.

I am in possession of the old Murphy family Bible.  Births page 678The copyright is 1804. Isaac Thomas, dad’s grandfather, states in the flyleaf that The Murphy Boys, both circuit riding Baptist ministers of the hardshell order, took the Word throughout the territories of Kentucky and Tennessee.  They were of the Baptist Hardshell Order. That phrase indicates a strict adherance to scripture to a decimal point.  The shalt nots were the order of the day.  Yet, in those days many settlers pledged their commitment in front of the other settlers as witnesses and had children before the circuit preacher could get to the settlement and make it official.  I like to open it and breathe in the smell of “old, old book” and imagine it new, smooth leather. The flyleaf records their mission to the wilderness of the day. Maybe if I close my eyes and concentrate I’ll hear the snap of twigs, the sound of laughter, robust singing, catch the faint scent of woods, perfectly pure air, wildflowers, or just plain horseflesh.

When Dad finally gave it to me, I carefully turned the pages and found a drawing of a child’s hand, a handwritten paper that showed lineage back to merry old England, two knights in the 1500’s and back even further, a name of a sheriff in 1100-something who had no last name, and more to be treasured, records of births and deaths of those who shaped my heritage before the Declaration of Independence was even thought of.

…… ” so let the youngest son have the preference.  Isaac T. Murphy, Kewanee, Illinois, March 17th 1895.”

Isaac T was my father’s grandfather.  He was the 16th and final child, born last of 5 children of the second wife (we can only guess the first wife wore out) of the Rev. John Murphy, Jr., son of John Murphy, a veteran of Valley Forge, and Rachel Cooke who married and moved with him from Virginia to Tennessee prior to the Revolution.

Like the properly folded flag that is carefully laid in the arms a family member after a veteran’s funeral, so this Bible came to me.  I can almost feel the history in my fingertips and hear the faint whispers of the past.  It’s more than a relic, it’s a treasure.

The youngest son to the youngest son.  Because Dad had 3 girls and Mom was 41 when the 3rd girl came along, that would be me, Leslie was the only male child to carry the name Murphy in the line, unlike the days of old when people had enough children to have at least 3 sons among them.  Being the 16th, Isaac T. would have been shocked to see the population control of our day.

Leslie joined the armed services, I can’t remember which branch, and was dispatched to Korea in the early 50’s.  His wife remained at home near Monmouth in the trailer park.  I forget her name.  When he came home, we were so happy.  Man, he was cute!  I was 6 years old and, like my sisters, was totally charmed by this uniformed cousin with curly blonde hair.   In a few weeks, he was dead.

Suicide, the sheriff said.  Gunshot wound to the head.  Leslie was left handed.  The gun was on the floor under his right hand.  He was not wearing gloves.  There were no prints on the gun.  A somewhat smallish figure in a big overcoat was seen leaving the trailer shortly after the shot was heard.  Suicide was the irrevocable call.  Don’t anyone forget the circumstances surrounding my good cousin’s death.

I am simply the youngest of the youngest.  After it is inconvenient for me to keep the Bible, it will be handed down to one of my two children, neither of whom is surnamed Murphy.  They can take turns caring for it if they so wish.  Surnames can’t matter now and shouldn’t be an issue.  All I ask is that the keeper(s) of it know the history, and treasure it with the Bible itself, that they pass that history to the next keeper and the next, until such time as Jesus returns to earth.  The finest diamonds will pale in comparison to Him and the Peace He will establish;  the Murphy Bible will be unimportant.

But, until then, it’s 201 years and counting.

Happiness

What is that anyway?  What does that word encompass?  If only I was shorter, taller, thinner, rich, younger, older, well educated, had a bigger house, etc. etc.  If I were just single again.  If ony I were married. The Rockefeller who became rich in the railroad business in the 19th century was asked “how rich is rich enough?”  His answer was “just a dollar more.”

“Pursuit of happiness” is in the constitution.  It’s our right !!  No, it’s our privilege.  But do we know it when we see it?  Do we know how to achieve it?  Have we the sense to hang onto it?

I love movies.  Most of my collection is comedies.  I have most of the the musicals too.  In South Pacific is the song Happy Talk.  So catchy.  So sweet.  Whatever mood I am in I have a movie to fit.  There’s a long list of movies I want to own, movies I saw years ago on The Late Show.   They make me smile and forget …. whatever is not making me happy.

Over the years I’ve learned a lot.  Let’s hope I haven’t been dead from the neck up for half a century!  I have regularly watched TVangelists.  Never got into Jimmy Swaggart, caught Roberston now and then, couldn’t stand the Crystal Cathedral guys!  Joyce Meyer has the best scripture food out there.  Spinach.  She shovels it in like you would feed a baby in a high chair.  Scrape the chin again and stick in the spoon.  She can slap you upside the head and it’s so logical, all you can say is “Thank you, Ma’am.  May I have another?”

Once upon a time in 1985 I was not happy.  First, let’s assume I loved and adored my husband and children.  But……nobody was coming through for me.  What did I have to do?  My life was ….. I don’t know.  We were on our way to the Black Hills and had stopped for an overnight at our friends’ cabin close to Alexandria.  I was not fun to be with.  I was taking every spare moment I had to think and calculate how I was going to arrange finding something new.  I wanted out.

Our Sunday school class is studying Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now simultaneously with Joyce Meyer’s Seven Things that Steal Your Joy.  Tom pointed out that Joel is saying the same thing over and over.  Like the song, “Don’t worry. Be happy.”  Joel’s saying that you trust God and expect His good things, expect high, and, and, ….. expect.  Fine.   But he does keep saying it over and over different ways.  So on the way home from church I thumbed through and saw Tom was right.  29 chapters later Joel gets to how.  And he says what I realized as truth in 3 seconds back in 1985.

That Sunday morning at the lake cabin, only one channel came in.  The TV preacher said it so simply ….. you decide to be happy.  Whatever your situation, assuming Jesus is in your heart and soul to support you in your decision, you can decide if you’re going to be happy, and decide if you’re going to accept it at face value.  I just stood there.

Sometimes we don’t figure out the simplest things by ourselves.  Think about it.  The world teaches us that our happiness is imputed onto us by our surroundings, other people, the right choices, wealth, health, education, the list goes on and on.  “Just a little bit more.” And when one moment wears off, run to the next one.  The responsibility for my happiness does not lie with anyone but me.

Decide.  You can choose to have a good attitude in the middle of a mess.  You can choose to smile through your tears.  Live today.  But expect better tomorrow or whenever.  Expect the best God has for you.   Osteen’s right.  He also says to wait patiently for it.  Joyce says anybody can wait grumpy, but it goes a lot better with an attitude of gratitude.  You pick.

The TV preacher that pierced me with that simple statement was the Crystal Cathedral guy’s son!  No, it did not make me a regular viewer nor a contributor.  I haven’t tuned into him since.  Don’t have to.  God knew where I’d be, and what I needed to hear.  There he was, syrupy sing song voice and insipid grin.  Thanks, What’s-your-name.  I needed that.

Indiana

….is flat. All the roads, flat. All the yards, flat.  All points of the compass, flat enough to see 2 farms away.  Although, that’s not a record. Illinois is that flat in many areas, particularly between St. Louis and Peoria. It’s 3 to 4 farms flat. Boring flat. Sleep behind the wheel flat.

Then there’s Kansas. Didn’t believe I can see so far. Then there’s the panhandle of Texas. You can see the curvature of the earth there. There are ranches instead of farms, bigger than farms, and you can see 2 of those in one direction.

But we’re not in Illinois, Kansas, or Texas. We’re in Indiana visiting an old frield who lived briefly in Minnesota and worked in our store. He’s moved back home to Indiana. And if I’m not mistaken there’s a song title similar to that phrase.

We rolled up to his house, 15 – 20 miles north of Elwood (what..you’ve not heard of Elwood?) and we thought we’d been trapped in a corn loop. Corn, corn, OH! soybeans, corn, corn, corn.  All of it at least 7 feet straight up.  Finally, 37 angled toward the northeast and we drove straight onto 600W, past a brick church and turned in.

We’d just left 97+ tropics in Tennessee, where it’s still going on, and stepped out into perfect low 80’s sunshine and breeze. I almost wished I’d brought a jacket. Today the weather is the same. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be the same. I’m liking Indiana more every minute.  And on top of that, it’s not north enough to be infested with mosquitoes after sunset. wow.

Today we hopped in the Indiana issue pickup and went to a town about 7 miles from his house to find the grave of James Dean, the First of Cool. (Not really. My older brother wore the costume in 1951 just before he went to Korea.) It took us about 45 minutes to find the head stone, small, chipped from tourists wanting souvenirs, nothing noteworthy to make anyone who was not aware that The James Dean was buried in the middle of Indiana, think this marked the grave of the same.

There are a couple of older two story homes in Fairmont converted to James Dean museum and gallery and every year they have a James Dean Festival but that’s about all the hoopla Fairmont does for their world famous resident. As a matter of fact, in that festival, there is a parade of ’49 Mercurys from all over the world, that are driven to the cemetery in his honor, the model he drove in Rebel Without a Cause.

To them, he was one of the boys who lived there and occasionally baled hay for a few extra bucks in the summer.  In fact, our friend and host says he worked with Dean back in the day baling hay with his brothers. When Dean was back in town between films, he hung out with our friend’s older brothers. Just one of the local good old boys and that’s how his memory and his grave are treated.

Salute.

If you want me to I can walk you right up to his grave so you can take a picture.  Because, like a dummy, I left the house with all the makeup I could imagine using, all my hair care, two cell phones, clothes I won’t wear, the computer, even a cake mix and frosting for the birthdays we’ll celebrate this week…..

BUT I FORGOT THE DING DONG CAMERA!!!!

But, God!

I slept to 9am, bricked in front of Facebook, listened to more of the teaching from Hixon, TN on DVD, and washed a boatload of dishes the dishwasher failed to do.

But the most interesting part of today was a science experiment I conducted to clarify in my mind something I wanted to share here.  Nothing earth shaking, nothing new.  I wanted to see just how fast the drop of soap, in this case Dawn dish liquid, dispersed a slick of vegetable oil.  One drop sent 3T of oil scooting 360 degrees at lightning speed.  I was intending to use this as an illustration of what happens when certain people walk in a room or what happens when certain conversation topics rise in a group setting.  It took a different turn.

As I played with the oil and water and watched how it reacted both on its own and with my interference, I saw other illustrations.  There are many allegorical directions to go, but the one that most impressed me was a comparison to the body of Christ at the end of this church age.  Scripturally, oil is almost always a picture of the Holy Spirit, but not here.

I slowly drizzled 3T vegetable oil 10-14 inches above the surface of the water in a medium sized mixing bowl, creating multiple glistening balls dancing and swimming in the purity of clean water.  In seconds the oil reached the surface and merged into one 3 inch diameter circle.  My fingertip could chase it, break it into many parts, and almost convince it to blend with the water, but when I removed my finger, it gradually merged its multiple orbs into a single unit within minutes.

One drop of Dawn sent it flying, stopped only by the bowl itself.  The soap sank to the bottom, gradually dissolving but remaining a blue blur.  Gradually the oil slid its way back to the center to close any opening, to take total control of the surface, the blue soap no longer an interference. But the quality of the water was compromised by the soap.  There was a gap the oil couldn’t conquer.  I gently drizzled more oil into it. Three circles floated to the edge of the mother ship, touched but couldn’t merge.  Neither would they become one with each other but remained independent, apparently a film from the tiny drop of soap keeping them apart.  This alone could illustrate how denominations are similar but separate, unable to become one. Wheat and tares? But that’s not the picture I ended with.

Oil and water moves pretty slowly, it’s monochromatic and I’m not, so I set the project aside while I continued rewashing the dishes.  Hmm, what would happen if I dropped in more soap? Nothing.  You’re kidding me.  The first drop broke up the whole party single-handedly but subsequent drops, single or in rapid fire merely plunged through and bolted for the bottom leaving only a cloudy ring marking their impotence.  Weird.

I fixed some crackers and cheese, checked Facebook again, resumed the dish washing process, then checked the oil vs. water to see that the oil had clouded, consumed the former independents, and left an opening the size of a child’s thumb within which were several very tiny oil bubbles.  I wiped the counters, but when I came to the bowl to empty it out, I saw that the oil was compromised again, mottled with what looked like dirt, and had succeeded in totally covering the surface, its original goal.

I picked up the bowl to empty it when I thought I’d interfere one last time.  I did what I do best — stir things up.  Although the blue liquid soap had appeared to fade to nothing, it had instead permeated the water under the oil.  I wonder if I would let it sit overnight, the oil and water would have merged into a single substance, bad water or bad oil, neither of them useful.  So I swished the whole thing into a frenzy of suds.  The water was a cloudy blue, the suds fluffy, the oil apparently absorbed.

I swished, wiped, dumped and rinsed in scalding clear water until the sides of the bowl squeaked clean.

Although many illustrations can be drawn, I’ll use my first impression. I saw the bowl as the bride of Christ, the clean water her pure faith, faith that remained pure through persecution.  Along came Constantine who declared Christianity legal and commanded the persecution cease.  The oil was the healing salve that appeared to be productive but soon covers her in complacency.  The soap represents compromise that clouds her thinking and threatens to ruin her image and effectiveness.

But, God.  Do you love it?  But, God steps in.  He stirs, He shakes, He turns and  transforms her weaknesses to strength, scrubs and rinses her in hot water creating a squeaky clean, pure and spotless bride who will meet her Groom in the air and rule with Him forever.

The times are frightening.  Terror, food shortages, debt, and more can and may create a perfect storm.  If it’s prophecy, in Perry Stone’s words, there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Note: God can. He can adjust His timeline. He can pause prophecy!! Whether your storm, our storm, is prophecy or a temporary bump, remember that phrase — But, God….!

What’s your passion–interest–hobby–ministry?

Do it! Go for it! Love it! Perform with excellence! (I sure hope it doesn’t involve sin e.g. pornography. Yes, Virginia, even looking is participating. It is sin)

Jesus told us to occupy until He comes again.  But He needs you to know He wants to use your passions, interests, etc.  If your ministry is outreach, may your heart remain on fire.  If your heart leads you to study in the Word to uplift and instruct The Body, share with me.  The Body is composed of many members none of whom can perform well in all areas but can be excellent in one or a few — the heart and the liver function differently but both are necessary.

There are many things to do for mankind requiring different levels of character components. “Feed my sheep” but are we to feed them with the same food the same way over and over? Is variety a spice in this case?  For example, in the field of medicine, a researcher whose passion is analysis through a microscope likely makes a lousy pediatrician, an area that requires specific people skills.  However, they depend on each other to paint the portrait of excellent care for the patient.  The same is true in the church. Within the Body, there are those whose function(s) — foreign mission giving, the food line at the homeless shelter, sequestered studying or one that can be the most mis-interpretive of character, The Watchman, warning of Jesus’ return and the signs of His coming — are equally vital to the spread of the gospel.  That last one can really tick people off and produce the most vicious hateful flack of ginormous proportion even from within the Body. “You have no love!!”  Be strong! You may appear to lack the sweeter fruits of the Spirit but God knows your heart and motives.  Stay the course He’s called you to in the face of critics who don’t like to hear they’re in sin who must attack you to justify their actions and those on the inside who believe their ministries are more important or relevant than any and everyone else’s.

In the church body, in the church building, God uses the music program as a carrot to lure the unsaved — emotion is not a bad thing when God is using it.  When the visitors become Be-Backers and want to learn more, God uses the teachers who may or may not be able to carry a tune in the proverbial bucket yet their hearts burn for analysis of The Word to transfer Truth to power in those whose passion is to witness.

You get the picture? God can use you where you are. But, what if what you’re interested in, the thing that is your pastime pleasure, doesn’t appear to have anything to do with faith outreach or church involvement?  God can use that too.  I think of a conversation in the movie City Slickers.  They were sitting around the camp fire.  The men were talking baseball statistics.  The lone female couldn’t understand.  Her conversations were about relationships, what’s working, what’s not.  She asked how baseball stats could be so important that that’s all they talked about.  The response was from a man who had nothing in common with his father. The relationship was pain.  But they both liked baseball.  They had something that allowed conversation, a conduit for communication, their only link to each other.

One of my passions is my genealogy hobby.  If anyone wants to talk to me about it, I have information on the ancestors that is a testimony.  Their stories and circumstances are a testimony of my tree to  me. God can use them still, through me but only if I share.  In today’s world, online networking is hot e.g. Facebook.  You’re reading another form — blogging.  God can use it if your heart  burns for outreach.  It’s a colossal waste of time if it’s purely personal fluff as in “look at me, look what I did today.” May I suggest that after a weeks’ worth of commentary, your readers have a fair glimpse into your heart.

Matthew 28: 19-20, known as The Great Commission is stated in the KJV as “Go.”  The original language is more correctly translated as “As you go..” or “going.” This was such a relief for me.  The Bible college I went to in Minneapolis was primarily a missions training school.  I honestly felt that because I didn’t hear a voice saying “Go to Africa!!” I was an abysmal failure as a Christian. But when you know not every Christian is suited for foreign missions, and Jesus knew that, you can joyfully pursue what He want you to do where you are and let Him direct your steps, not necessarily trips to faraway continents.

As you go — to work, on the highway (don’t forget God’s a mind reader), in the church lobby, at the grocery store checkout lane, on Facebook, around the family holiday dinner table — make disciples, teaching His commandments according to Matthew 28: 19 and 20 all the way to the end of the age.

You will be persecuted by those to whom the Truth is offensive.  But Jesus chose the foolishness of preaching to draw men to Him. “In this world you will have trouble.” Yeah, no kidding.  Be strong.

Anybody is somebody who is serving in the house of God, working in the body of Christ.

Christmas Day

On the way home from midnight service, we listened one more time to The Gaithers’ Christmas CD, The Greatest Story Ever Told, pulling into the driveway to the last delicate note of Mary, Did You Know, blessing us as our heads hit pillow approximately 1 am.  I am up ahead of Honey, talking to you in the pre-dawn morning light, waiting to grind the coffee beans.  We have exactly 7 gifts under the tree for the two of us.  The stockings each have DVDs, a jolly tradition to fatten the movie collection, and somebody got a new cologne to replace the Old Spice (finally).

Christmas. It is what it is, a day set aside to honor and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  We dress up, buy gifts, give to the poor, bake and cook and eat, send greeting cards and letters reporting the year on one page or just sign the card, and attend an extra worship service.

And this is good in its simplicity and adornment.

Then we diet or plan to diet.

I’ve posted many times my complaints of the Christmas machine, how it needs a face lift, a tweak here or there, that we should move the date, tear away the pagan symbols, etc.  I still want to move it, I still want to retire the jolly old elf. Greg Laurie, a prominent minister in California, suggested we at least eliminate gift exchange in a effort to tone down the unrealistic expectation factor for people who become depressed or in debt trying.  I don’t know if I agree with elimination, maybe reduce the pile under the tree and give more to those in need.

In short,

  • research states Jesus was conceived during the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, and born the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall.
  • Santa was originally a false god called Obed or Obid or some such name but is now publicized as a 19th century morph of Nicholas, born in Turkey in the early 300’s, who was a bishop in that early church father group, performed miracles, gave extravagantly to the needy, attended the Council of Nicaea from which he was thrown out and jailed for slapping another attendee who insisted Jesus wasn’t deity
  • from that Council, Constantine made Christianity legal, profitable, and state run, adopting nearly all the pagan symbols from Babylon BTW (and we know how God just loves Babylon), renaming them Christian to attract the multitudes to the new easy religion and pay taxes to him. He was baptized and allegedly converted. If that’s right, I’m going to have a serious discussion with him in heaven right after I ask “Why snakes?” and look up the relatives.

Christmas today resembles nothing of Jesus’ day, Constantine trashed all things Jewish and lest we forget, Christianity is grafted into (not from) the Judeac root, Jesus Himself.

In spite of it all, those who get it worship not the baby, but the existing risen Lord Jesus and rejoice, celebrating through gift exchange and fullness of food, sharing both in Jesus’ name.

The world has gone overboard, twisting each detail.  Christmas is an opportunity to profit, eat, drink, and be merry in all its temporary loud emptiness and glitter, avoiding the intent and meaning of Luke 2. It’s misplaced but we’ve mentioned that already.

(sigh) I can’t fix it.  But I can tell it better.  So can parents teach the real meaning, and please understand you are confusing your children when you let them actually truly believe in the unrecognizable morph of a false god, then a righteous servant of God into an elf in a red suit who can do magic.  Let’s have some fun with fairy tales but call them fairy tales, games if you wish. Consider this.  If they believe in Santa because you said to, and believe in Jesus because you said to, and find out Santa isn’t real, what about Jesus? Is He real or not?

The coffee is on.  The stockings beg attention.  One of my gifts is a tallit, a prayer shawl like those worn from Moses’ day, like in Jesus’ day, like He Himself wore.  I can hardly wait to see it.  I replaced Honey’s worn out Thompson Chain Reference study Bible.  What a blessing he wears out Bibles when years ago he didn’t open it.

May the peace of the season dwell in your hearts.  May your giving give all year. May the Messiah of the manger live in your homes.

Picking them up tonight!

You should have seen it.  Two people our age trying to squeeze a giant piece of  furniture through a smaller than average bedroom doorway.

In order to get to that point, we moved the end table from the master bath, moved the vanity table and bench there in order to move the marble topped credenza in its place, the leftover living room TV on that, so the sofa could sit in the bedroom offering an extra space to sleep company and watch TV too in order to place our pretty new matching mocha recliners in its place in the living room. Easy!

This was a sofa well past its prime and existing on borrowed time when we got it in a used to used trade with the Youth Group. In furniture years it has to be older than Abraham on Isaac’s 40th birthday. The springs sag in the corner, there is no softness, it was beyond fixing.  Trust me, we tried stuffing it with towels with no discernable improvement.  Its one good feature, other than its color – it matches our fireplace wall, or rather, the fireplace wall matches it – is that the popup foot rests entertain the grandsons for hours making it worth keeping.

Because it is a full length sofa with overstuffed arms, the one piece metal frame disallowing separation, it’s huge, I mean hooog, very large, very heavy and stubbornly inflexible.  It’s a geezer. Being a single piece, it was also a 10 on the Clumsy Scale.

Take the door off. (drill noises) You lift that end.  I can only push it, can’t lift it. Twist it. No, the other way. The frame is caught. That’s a nice gouge in the wall. We’re painting anyway. Not this week! Okay, how about standing it up on end.  The arm is caught. Squish it. No, it’s the frame in the arm stuck now. Pull back your end. Can’t, too heavy. Yeah, walk it. Can you get back out the doorway? There’s no space to slide food to you.  If you pull your end your way… I need to pull the end my direction. Can’t. How about we flatten it by extending the foot rests? Now tip it. The metal frame is hitting the door frame. I’m not as young as I used to be! Wait, wait, my foot’s there. Can we turn it upside down and angle the back in first? Now I can’t (push, push) get (push, shove) the (hit, pound) foot rests back. This is a bear cat (spelling adjusted). What door did it come in in the first place? Front? No, I’m not ready to join the ranks of those with upholstered furniture on the porch. It won’t fit through the patio door either. Lean it there. I have to step outside and cool off.  You know, it’s pretty long. I think if the thing ever fits through the door we’ll have to move the armoire. Your chain saw won’t cut through the metal frame, will it?

It took just 10 minutes to unload the new rocker recliner boxes from the truck bed, unpack, and assemble them.  The small drop leaf end table was slipped in between.  Ahhhhhh, that feels great. Here, you sit in mine and I’ll sit in yours to see if either fits better or the same.  Mine’s fine. Mine too. Wow, they look good there. If we ever get the rest of the room repainted the walls will look as great as the chairs. The floor lamp goes behind the drop leaf. You know, the sofa looks pretty good in front of the window. Where’s the remotes caddy?

On the sofa. Do you mind getting up?

Making a difference

I hope this makes the rounds. I found this on Larry Who’s site on my side bar, who moved it from someone else’s on his.

Many times we think we need a pulpit, or that our talents are too small.  Maybe we struggle that we don’t have time. Or are afraid of rejection.  That’s a biggie with me.  I want to minister at a distance.  Do watch all the way to the 8:48 of this visually charming and moving video.  I hope you at least mist up.

I’ve heard of this man before, can’t remember where.  But now, he’s on my site and I will be referencing on Facebook as well.