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.

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

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.  I am told it was carried throughout the Kentucky and Tennessee wilderness by The Murphy Boys, both circuit riding Baptist ministers of the 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 little bit 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.

Reclaiming a lost month

One germ. One lousy germ grew into a landfill of rot in my head, lungs, throat, continuing throughout and out. I’ve missed a month of Sundays. During all this time, I sacrificed church fellowship in the name of germs. You who went can thank me later.

Really, though, our church’s sound people have a good system. They don’t need my constant coughing as a percussion section. And, the constant coughing has been the source of the continued germ growth. No more details since this isn’t my  point at all.

Of course during the ordeal, I’ve had to go to work and share the joy through hand to hand contact, sneezing and yakkin’ up.  There just wasn’t enough benefit time to cover the whole thing. So, as I’ve always done, I do just what I have to while sick, whether it’s Mom guilting me to church and school, tend a crying baby, or show up for a job, I did it. Do it. Whatever.

I have teaching CDs in the car I listen to over and over. I had listened to one of them regarding un-forgiveness several times but the message clicked only during yet one more day and one more 46 mile round trip of Driving with Crud.

Unforgiveness and your reaction of anger, offense and self pity is stress. During its course until you decide to forgive, to bury the whole hatchet too deep to grab it again, your immune system is canceled. Not down. Canceled. You are susceptible to whatever is being passed around. Stress changes the blood and its ability to protect you.

Tough stuff.

We’re talking about Christians, the only group that preaches love and eats their own. “And many will be offended.” And when they are, they justify it, harbor grudges, swap congregations and start all over in another one.

One small revelation: If you are oh, so holy or think you are, you may feel superiority over another “lesser” one. You don’t hate, you’re not angry, you’re just a Pharisee.  Ignoring another based on your own self importance, your higher level — translation “I just don’t relate” — is not forgiving that person(s) for being less.  Be very careful of your motives in fellowship, worship, and communion.

This morning I stayed home from church one more time.

I watched John Hagee who spelled out Seven Types of People God Can’t Save. Conclusion: Some people insist on rejecting God. Even self-proclaimed Christians, and the ones who grow cold and turn away are among the listed. “Are you really saved?” Well, maybe once upon a time and then you told Jesus to take a hike or strayed so far away you don’t feel like coming back. I don’t think He saves you in spite of your insistence of resistance.

Then I watched Jimmy Evans who taught on the spirit of rejection and how we  overcome only with God’s healing love. Sounds simple, but how many curl up in their hurt and reject everybody so they won’t be hurt again? That’s exactly where Satan wants all Christians — not associating, not witnessing, not trying.

Third, a preacher I hadn’t heard of was in the background while I was babysitting the fireplace, begging it to please please burn. His message was Get Over It. The man gets straight to the point.

I wonder. Germs are germs. But just in case the preacher with over 40,000 hours of study knows more than my instincts, I prayed about the unforgiveness I might be harboring, who I wasn’t forgiving, and what to do with it. It was a short answer. Forgiving is not an option, it’s a command or else. I don’t want to know what “else” is.  Just do it and follow up with not talking about it, not digging it up, and showing only love.

I had let my shields down. I had nursed and fed my hurt feelings the entire month before. Now I’ve been sick a month. A connection? Could be.

Starting all over now and really enjoying the music video, picking out the next one to keep the house full of praise ‘n’ worship, stadium style.

I’ve had time to think and still have time for another nap.

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 slow, 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.

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.  Whether this 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.”  Neither should it be purely political or preaching.  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.

Snow rules

When snow and cold temperatures are incidental, when the area you live in is snowed on every winter all winter, when snow removal is a given, when you demand snow cover to make the cold air “worth it,” life goes on.  School doesn’t close, ear flaps on fur lined hats are a fashion, muck-luck is a word, you measure the length of the season in how many colds you get, and you overshoot the driveway at least once a year.  Dress for the weather and do what you have to do to maintain normal.

It’s amazing what one puts up with. If a White Winter is what you left behind or just read about, you just aren’t prepared and it’s a big deal.  Here in Tennessee I have great respect for the severity of snow and cold’s impact on hills and curves, and people who either don’t own a winter coat at all or wear parkas in the low 40’s.  Snow is just not normal.

School was called off in anticipation of snow.  Roads were brined ahead of the first flake.  And here’s the biggie — our company actually sent people home early not just one day, but two in a row!  School kids can’t make it in but the mail gets delivered.  Even though some parents can’t get the kid to school on time, others brave their way to the malls.

The snow started mid-day Thursday with a vengeance.  We were offered the opportunity to go home early.  I left a quarter to dark allowing me to tell what was slush or dry or ice.  Just an hour later, Honey reported his entire 15 miles as glazed.  Nobody said anything about the next morning so off we all went across slippery packed snow and streaks of ice, sharing it with terrified drivers who cleaned off only the 10″ round part of the windshield they need to see straight ahead.

Again, leave early.

Saturday I parked in the recliner and caught up on 3 months of checking transactions entering them manually into Quicken.  Never put that off that long, trust me, especially if you have to go back 7 months to find an error. Honey went to the shop, carefully, confirming again that our house was surrounded by slick’n’slippery.

So doesn’t this stuff melt away by the next day around here?  Apparently not every time and not this weekend.

About 9 last night I read a comment on Facebook from the music director that church was rescheduled for one service instead of two.  We got a full night’s sleep, casually headed out in the heavier car with the better defrost system and were promptly stopped at the end of our block by a young couple a half inch from sliding backward into the ditch from a cross way position in the road.  After carefully pushing them back into a forward position and instructing them to stay the heck off the brakes (which they didn’t — fishtailed all the way to the stop sign) and just roll over anything that isn’t a dry surface, we asked them where they were going.  After all, there has to be a darn good reason for inexperienced people to venture out on ice and snow. Maybe if it was an emergency we would offer them a ride.

“McDonald’s.”

But of course.  Well, “you’re better off turning right and swinging around via the interstate.”

They didn’t.

Snow’s a big deal here.  If it isn’t on a curve or a hill, it’s hiding on a section of road that is shaded year round by pines and remains icy days after the rest is dry and temps are above freezing.

When I was in school, if one could make it, the doors were open and the day counted even if we were immediately sent home.  Now, if one cannot make it, we’re closed until all those curves, hills, and shaded spots are clear and dry.  At least that’s the impression.  No one’s denied it.  “Well, you know those mountain roads….”  I say catch them up when they can get there.  It’s what — a week lost?  People with the flu can be out a week and catch up.  Why not snow kids?

The weekend’s over.  The roads are passable in most areas, no fear of sliding or being slid into.  All is back to near normal, today and tomorrow expect to have highs of 36 — “chiiiilllly”, four syllables — to the locals, but panic-free.  After a few more days, kids without coats, wearing shorts and flip-flops will shiver at the bus stops, but tomorrow co-workers will run across the parking lot in their parkas and fur lined boots to the shelter of the over heated building, telling and retelling their nightmares of bitter cold, snow so deep you can see your foot print, piling on the blankets, two pairs of socks, and so on and so on.

Maybe we’ll get another so called blizzard this month, maybe some sleet next month.

How far south do I have to move? Even Florida was only in the 60’s.