Friday, May 29, 2009

Graduation Weekend!

This weekend we have two more of our granddaughters who are graduating from high school. That’s right. Two, count them, two more will join our Tiffany for a total of three out of our eleven. Brady is four, therefore, he and Alex will graduate high school in 2023/24. I was born in 1946. Do the math. I will be closing in on 80 when they finish high school and our Tiffany will be 35. Oh my! Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives ... and this is my topic on this Friday, May 29, 2009. Do not, I repeat, do not tell anyone that I wrote that lead in line because I watch soap operas. I actually had to look it up to make sure I had it correct. For those of you who already know it by heart because of how often you’ve seen the program, well, you will have to deal with that in your own way!

Congratulations to Danielle! Congratulations to Brittany! Danielle is already taking college courses and Brittany will be starting in the fall. They both are to be commended for their diligence and commitment in achieving this accomplishment. At the same time we thank God for the talents, gifts, and abilities He has placed in these young women and we pray that they will seek His will in all things as they continue on their journey. Both of them have compelling stories. Both of them have overcome adversity. Both of them are precious in God’s sight. And, both of them come from loving parents who have stood by them and will continue to love and support them in the future. Repeat that sentence and insert MiMi and Poppy because we too are a part of the love and support chain.

These are tough times to be making transitions but we are confident that God will provide. Danielle has finished her very arduous home schooling curriculum that has well prepared her for college. We hope to attend a reception in her honor on Saturday. We will leave the reception to join Brittany who will be graduating as part of a huge mega class down at the football stadium in downtown Houston. Two of our boys were part of this type of ceremony. It’s really hard to describe. I know I graduated with less than 30 others and we are talking well over a thousand in Brittany’s class. The logistics, traffic, and overall commotion requires patience but it is all worth it because these young women are our family legacy and it is our honor to honor them. May God bless them both and may He help all who graduate this year to seek Him, serve Him, and put Him first in all things. Amen. ….More later.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ignorance may not always be bliss but it could be, at times, a blessing.

Being at my uncle’s graveside service on Tuesday with my cousins brought back many memories that date back to when we were kids. This is the ball that my brain flippers keeps slapping forth and back on this Thursday, May 28, 2009. Seeing my cousin John reminded me of the many times we all played together as children. He became a huge hunk of a man who served our country in the Vietnam War where he saw things most of us could never imagine much less to ever have to encounter. I can remember as kids he could play the piano. None of us played any instruments and it always fascinated us that he was learning to play. He and his brother Don, who also is a huge hunk of a man, were our city cousins while I suppose we met the description of being ‘country bumpkins’. When I would visit them in the summer we would take a city bus downtown to the YMCA for swimming lessons. In our rural area swimming lessons came about when you were thrown into the creek and told to swim or sink. On our way back from swimming lessons we would stop at the drug store where they had a soda fountain and there we could order a cherry coke or some other fabulous concoction. That was pretty heady stuff for a country kid!

I’ve written before about the blurred vision of my memory banks prior to my dad’s sudden passing in 1954. Bits and pieces, hits and misses are about all I can conjure up from these first seven years. I’ve heard some from others about those times and some of their recollections are not that pleasant so perhaps I am better off not being able to remember all the details from that period. I know without a doubt that I was loved and my mom and dad did the best they could for us. Life was not always easy for a young couple with six children but the glimpses I see are of happy moments. Sure, it has bothered me that I can’t go back and relive some of those days. There’s a commercial currently running on television that says people always remember important events like your first day of school. I actually have no recollection whatsoever of my first day of school and can only bring to mind a few images of being in school before dad’s death. I do remember a bully breaking my arm and how my mom let his mom know what she thought about it.

My wife thinks I am a memory machine, therefore, it does seem odd that I should have such a void in some of those early files. I’ve read all the literature about blocked memories and traumatic events that tend to overwhelm prior remembrances. I’m sure all of that plays a role in me not being able to go back to those early childhood days. In the end, since I am not a proponent of hypnosis, I will have to be satisfied with those idyllic thoughts of family, fun, and good times, real, imagined, or deduced from photographs and stories. I suppose being ignorant is not always a bad thing and in my case it may have turned out to be a blessing. At least I don’t have anything in particular during my first seven years to blame someone for in terms of how messed up I am and as a result I can only rise each day and be thankful to God for my mom and dad, my grandparents, and everyone else who has done what they could to help me along the way. That’s what I am choosing to do today as I walk down memory lane. May God bless our thoughts of others who have been a part of our lives! Amen. …..More later.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Looking for a way to speed up your weekend? Here's one that always works!

Today’s article falls into that dreaded category marked ‘grandchildren stories’ but I am trying to be fair by warning you ahead of time on this Wednesday, May 27, 2009. This past Friday evening I had our middle son’s four children over for our first official sleepover at MiMi’s and Poppy’s since Hurricane Ike. Using the word hurricane and these four kiddos in the same sentence could be more relevant than it would appear. NOT! We had a ball. They were good. They were fun. They were energetic. They were HUNGRY all the time! They were entertaining. They were exhausting but in the best tired sense of the word. By Saturday night those dreaded other kinfolks, Uncle Arthur (Arthritis) and Uncle Bursey (Bursitis) had showed up and were making noise but their best stuff was only incidental compared to the joy of being with these blessings.

Jimmy Jr. is 12 and he was able to figure out all the set up needed to get their Wii going on our large screen TV. After messing with it for a few minutes and not having any luck I told him we should call his Uncle Chris. He said we didn’t need to call Uncle Chris because he could figure it out. After working with this setting and that he got it going and they enjoyed playing all the games. I think they enjoyed even more coming up with an icon image for their MiMi and Poppy. Once they added me to the system they then wanted me to play. Whatever coordination I had back when I was an all star baseball player must have long exceeded its use by date because I feebled and fumbled around until I reported myself to be officially pitiful. However, Lil Jim, as we call him, never stopped encouraging me, and rooting me on and telling me I was doing better than he did when he started. I’ve seen that motivation manipulation stuff before. Who does he think he is trying this out on his Poppy? The entire gang also had some good laughs watching me try.

The 11 year old twins, Alesha and Amanda, they are very sweet girls who enjoy just about anything on the Disney Channel. When I commented about their food requirements Alesha asked if I was familiar with the concept of growing spurts. These kids have it all figured out. Then there’s our little Alex, 4, now he is a one-of-a-kind if there ever was one. On Saturday morning he indicated his interest in watering some of his MiMi’s plants. I played along with him and soon he was trying to use the spray nozzle to make a rainbow but ended up being soaked which wasn’t any big deal to me. This sleepover episode reminded me that I can always work as a short order cook if push comes to shove. It was a special time and we enjoyed every second of it including when I saw their dad turning down at the corner to pick them up. One of my neighbors watching Alex playing with the water hose while doing his rain dance told me to enjoy him while I can because he will get away from us before we know it. How true! But I’ll take these brief handfuls on purpose any time they come. I’m already looking forward to the next group (Lexie and Brady) when they can come and stay. Of course Lexie will want the twins there and Brady will want Alex to play with. Buy stock in Kroger!!! May God bless each one. Amen. …..More later.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Don't wait too long to thank those who have helped you to get to where you are today.

We lost another family member last week, our Uncle Bill, 87. I plan to attend his graveside service scheduled for today. He was married to my mom’s sister, Aunt Helen, who passed away a few years ago. They were significant people in my life growing up. They were a part of a host of folks who did what they could to help me make progress in my journey in life. Therefore, today on this Tuesday, May 26, 2009 I am remembering Uncle Bill and others who contributed to my life. I have heard so many express how they are their own ‘self-made’ person and how they have essentially made it all on their own. While that may be a popular way to inflate one’s ego, rarely can any of us truthfully say we have done it all on our own.

One of the things I am most thankful for in my life is how God allowed me to recognize the huge contributions others have made into my life in time for me to thank many of them personally. I give God the credit for this recognition because it actually occurred at a time when I was pretty full of myself, therefore, I know, had He not slapped me up side the head I would not have even entertained a desire to seek out and thank those who had done so much to help me grow and development. The very process of identifying these folks also made it clear that in addition to them helping me, I discovered how truly blessed I was to have folks who cared enough. Caring is wonderful. Sympathy is good. But many people put shoe leather to their feelings, reached out to me, and I have profited as a result.

Uncle Bill was a thoughtful person; intelligent, and always tuned in to the person he was talking to. Staying with their children, my cousins, during summer vacation taught me about a world larger than the rural community where we made our home. I can remember a comment from my eldest son about how interesting it was to talk with Uncle Bill. Consistent. Respectful and engaging, he was a good listener who cared about what you were saying. That’s pretty much a lost art today. He and Aunt Helen also passed on books to us, many books, also magazines, and other materials that broadened my outlook and gave me perspective about the world. Seems like increasingly I find myself saying farewell to so many that have meant so much in my life. But with the passing of time this is the natural outcome and as each one leaves this life for the next I remember how they helped this little country boy and I pause to thank God for them and all they did for me. May we all take the time now to thank those who have contributed to us throughout our lives and may we not wait too late to do so. Amen. ….More later.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day - 2009

On this day, Monday, May 25, 2009 millions of Americans will be traveling, having picnics, and enjoying themselves on this holiday. It is a wonderful time of family, food, and fellowship and precisely why we should all pause, remember, and give thanks to God for each and every man or woman who have died while in military service. At the same time we are thankful for all who continue to answer the call of service by wearing the uniform of our armed forces. But on this day, a day set aside for a special purpose, we are drawn to the battlefields splattered with blood and littered with the bodies of those who stood up for the principles of freedom. May God bless their memory and their families and their efforts put forth on behalf of a grateful people. You and I can enjoy this holiday in whatever way we choose because of God’s grace and His provision of those willing to go and fight for right, here at home and all over the world.

Untold lives have been altered because of the sacrifice of America’s war dead. Nations are free and children grow up to live with opportunities instead of being doomed to a world of tyranny. At the same time the families of our war dead were also forever altered as they have had to deal with the loss of their loved ones and move on without them to be there with them. It is this sacrifice that we honor today. We had a gentleman in our fellowship of believers who was born just before his dad left to serve overseas in WWII. His dad was killed in action and he grew up with only photographs and stories about his father. I could sense some strain as he talked about never having the opportunity to know his dad. His story is one that could be repeated hundreds of thousands of times. It is this sacrifice that we honor today. Let us not forget also the hundreds of thousands of injured, some with horrific lifelong disabilities, that continue to bear the scars of their service to our nation.

We as a nation have not always been right in our deployment of our armed forces. The historians can always in retrospect point out the error of our ways in how that mistakes were made and perhaps even intentional wrongdoing was involved. However, the thing we must always remember is that none of this discovery should ever cause us to fail to honor those men and women who obeyed the call, and did their duty, and in the doing of their duty they paid the ultimate price. That’s what this day is about. If you haven’t already, please pause as you read this blog and give thanks to God for the patriots that we recognize on this day and also for their families. May God bless their memory and may God continue to bless our nation, in Jesus Name, Amen. …..More later.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Need a good laugh? Just look in the mirror!

We all enjoy seeing the other fellow mess up and become the object of a good hearty laugh but it’s not always as easy to find the same amount of humor when we turn out to be the one providing the punch line. Bottom line: Life is way too short not to find the greatest source of a smile, that being one’s self! Unfortunately for me, I provide way too much material in this area and that’s what I am click clacking on the keyboard about on this Friday, May 22, 2009. Yesterday I locked myself out of the office when I went to unlock all the other shop buildings. This was at 6 a.m. and no one with a key gets here until 8 a.m. No one had arrived when this happened so I had very little choice but to try and make the best of it. I camped out in the shop office but everyone that came in wanted to know why I was there. I had a long laundry list of excuses but giving them out helped about as much as pouring gasoline on a raging fire. I was really happy that my nemesis Ole Roy was not at work but plenty of others were more than willing to fill in for him. Okay, so I am not 100% perfect all the time and in the end we all had a good laugh. I told them I would not be able to entertain them every single day but hoped they appreciated the unexpected gift.

Part of the joke initially was how I busily went about working on the shop computer as if nothing was wrong but everyone knew something was wrong because I am never in the shop office unless it’s for a specific reason. Finally, I blurted out the obvious and that gave everyone permission to join in the fun. Permission. Yeah, that’s what we all need, a standing permission slip that entitles us to laugh at ourselves and join in the fun when we are the reason for the laughter. I’ve not always been able to do this like I can today. Maybe it’s an age thing or maybe the incidents kept piling up until I had little choice. I have always been called a serious minded person and would most likely have to admit that for much of my life I no doubt took myself way too seriously. Good wholesome laughter is a gift from God and one we should cherish and insert as much as we can into our stressed out and busy days.

There’s a song by Mark Lowry that I really like. The song is entitled, “Jesus Laughing”. It is a testimony song about a boy growing up seeing a picture on the wall of Jesus with His head thrown back really having a big laugh. If we are not careful we can conjure up a wrong image of what our Savior was like when He was here on earth. We might see Him surrounded by stained glass and with a halo on His head and walking around with His hands always folded together in a sacred special way. While that may sound ridiculous to you, that in one way are another is the way many people envision our Lord. But He was 100% God and 100% man, therefore, I am convinced that He enjoyed people and no doubt shared a wonderful smile and many hearty laughs during His time here. Taking the time to laugh especially at one’s self will go a long way in helping each day be a little less tedious and as I have already proven it will certainly add to the enjoyment of others. Carry that thought with you as you embark on your Saturday and Lord’s Day Sunday and I will try to come up with another round of mind numbing meanderings for next week. Until then, may the Good Lord take a liking to you! Amen. …. More later.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

This is one very fragile life!

I’m not so much concerned about the aches and pains that come with the territory of being in ‘that age group’. But I’m thinking about all the folks we know and love who are dealing with personal challenges that demonstrate just how frail we human beings really are. Yogi Berra reportedly said you can sure observe a lot when you are looking and that’s what I am trying to do on this Thursday, May 21, 2009. Each Sunday morning in our Bible study time we hear prayer requests and often they are both gripping and gut wrenching. Many reflect illnesses of all kinds, some terminal, and others deal with family issues, economic challenges, and the entire gamut that dogs our steps as people who breathe air on the planet. It is our privilege to pray over the requests as they come forth from teary eyes and broken hearts. These challenges are no respecter of persons from infants to the most senior, and they come to every family and every person at one time or another.

You arrive at work and hear more of the same. One former associate just underwent a major cancer surgery ordeal. Another co-worker is dealing on a 24x7 basis with his wife’s brain cancer. I try to pray for these each day. The list is long because we are needy people! I try to encourage this man who has been such an example of devotion and commitment in doing all he can for his wife. It reminds me of the 18-month battle waged by my baby sister before succumbing to the ravages of leukemia. We received word a couple of weeks ago about my stepsister who has been diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease and they give her little hope in terms of her remaining time here. She is in her fifties and this has been a devastating development to her, her husband, her two sons and daughter, and the grandkids. It seems like every day we hear about another new individual having to deal a great issue or life threatening challenge. It’s not surprising that our local fellowship fills up a table each week of cards to be signed and sent to hurting people. (No wonder we are instructed to pray without ceasing!)

Jesus looked out on folks and His heart overflowed with compassion because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He wanted to be their Shepherd to help them through the storms of life. He wants to be our Shepherd as well and as far as I can tell He’s the only one we can really count on as the winds of adversity beat on the door of our life. (See Mark 6:34; also Matthew 14:14; 15:32; 20:24; Mark 1:41) As we pray about and show our concern for folks near and dear and those far and wide who are suffering, we have access to the Great Physician. We are assured that we can come into His presence with confidence and that He will hear and answer our petitions. (See Hebrews 4:16) In addition, He is the God of all comfort who will never leave or forsake us because nothing can separate us from His love. (See Romans Chapter 8; and 2nd Corinthians 1:1-3) I think about that stormy night when those fellows thought their ship and their lives would soon be destroyed, then they saw Jesus walking on the water and this is what He said: “Be of good cheer, it is I, do not be afraid.” (See Matthew 14:27) Wow! What comforting words as we seek Him on behalf of so many who are suffering. Amen. ….More later.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Don't let the 'happenings' that surround you rob you of your true happiness.

Downright depressing. That’s the conclusion most any of us have as we look and see all the bad stuff going on around us. Sometimes I have to switch off from watching the news because while it may depict the reality of living in this fallen world, it does have a tendency to drag one down. That is the subject I am addressing in today’s blog on this Wednesday, May 20, 2009. One of the features of the second by second news cycle and its competitive nature is the incessant proclamation of everything bad going on all around us. This ‘can you top this?’ approach to playing up the glitz and gore does have an impact on us whether we notice it or not. There’s a commercial running on local radio that promotes consumer spending. The announcer gives the stats from four years ago for our area and they are almost nearly identical to what they are now in terms of employment and income. However, no one is spending because of the ‘fear factor’ even though on average this area is about where it was before the recession began. What’s up with that?

People believe things are bad, therefore, they react to how they perceive things to be, not necessarily what the facts show but often it’s a reaction to how the news experts shape or slant the story. I always go back to that fire safety film I saw many years ago about a high-rise fire. The people continued to jump from the upper floors even though the fire was out and the danger had passed. Their emotional and mental faculties had embraced the reality as they saw it and it was too late to respond to the truth. This brings me to the point about where you and I should be tuning in to get our sense of who we are, and how things are going, and how we should respond to our environment. While it seems simplistic to say that God and His Word should be our source, this is the truth and we should seek from Him that which informs our faith providing us with the facts upon which we can know, embrace, and then act accordingly. This is difficult for us at times because even within the world of religion it often appears that wealth, health, and prosperity seem to be the underlying characteristics found in the definition given for true happiness and joy.

Nothing could be further from the truth that God would have you and I to know. The widow who gave her all even though it was very little had true joy and happiness in her life. (Mark Chapter 12 and Luke Chapter 21) The Macedonian impoverished believers gave beyond their abilities out of a sense of joy and opportunity to further the cause of Christ. (2nd Corinthians Chapter 8) The Sermon on the Mount is a wonderful place to camp out as we hear the words from the lips of our Savior describing true happiness. (It’s found in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapters 5 through 7.) No, it’s not about our comfort level or the size of our bank account or whether we are feeling healthy or not. Jesus gave many examples that show it’s really all about knowing God and living as He would have us to live as givers of ourselves to Him and to others. It’s hard to improve upon that familiar example so often used to describe true joy. J is for putting Jesus first! O is for putting others second! And, the Y is for putting yourself last! Can there be good news all the time for the child of God? YES! It comes when we have a sense of the peace that surpasses human understanding and joy that only He can give, not like the feel good stuff conjured up by the world, and these can only become a reality as we walk each day by faith and have it be our eyes that tells us the real story! Amen. …..More later.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

God said it and that really does end the story.

This past Sunday it was my privilege to share the truths found in Genesis Chapter 9 with my Bible study class. This passage is perhaps the greatest insight into God's teachings on the sanctity of human life. It so happened that on that same day our president was speaking at Notre Dame University where he was defending the right to choose to snuff out the lives of unborn children. Coincidence? That's what I am wondering about on this Tuesday, May 19, 2009. I read some of the excerpts from President Obama’s speech and saw some of the clips from it. His appearance had been widely protested among traditional Catholics who are aligned against his radical abortion policies along with his support of destroying embryos for stem cell research. Interestingly enough, his positions were not the main focus for those who fawned over his presentation. He was heralded as the voice of reason as he called on both sides to show restraint and respect. One would have almost thought he came off as the great protector of life made in the image of God as opposed to his pursuit of extreme actions in promoting a campaign to make abortion easily available throughout our land. When he speaks the press describes his words with hushed and hallowed tones and one can nearly see the light of heaven shining on him. However, I recall that incident from the Bible whenever a King stood up one day and made a speech and the people responded by saying the voice was that, not of a man, but of a god. He gladly received their adulation for himself but God allowed him to be struck with a fatal disease because he would not give God His proper honor. (See Acts Chapter 12.)

Genesis Chapter 9 tells us that God is pro-life, period, end of story. In fact, He would have us to have this profound respect for life as a part of the foundation for forming our viewpoints and making daily decisions. Go back and read it. It is God's word coming to Noah and his sons immediately after the flood. It is a law of life given for humanity to know and practice. I thought it odd that our president would say all he did about his support of abortion while at the same time throwing in somewhat of a personal testimony about how he came to become a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. His testimony in this area is somewhat hard to follow but his relationship before God is clearly between him and God. However, based on a clear reading of Genesis Chapter 9 we can say unequivocally that he must not believe and accept God's word on the sanctity of life. One thing is certain. Regardless of his position, his power, or his prestige, if he is a genuine believer, he will have to give an account for his practices and how they agreed with, supported, or failed to honor God and His revealed truths.

But he will not be the only one at the Judgment Seat of Christ. I'll be there along with all believers. Why? Because God has revealed this to us in His word. What a blessing to know that as a believer in Jesus the Christ I will not stand to answer for my sins because they are all forgiven by His finished work on the cross. There is a special judgment for those who have not accepted God and His salvation. It is called the White Throne Judgment, (see The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Chapter 20.) However, I will appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ and give an account for the Christian life He has provided to me. I will have to account for what I did with all He has provided into my life. It's much easier to think about the other fellow standing there than to consider that one day it will be me, yes, me. On that day it will be me, me, me, Oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer. Some think this judgment to be a trivial matter but when properly understood it should bring each of us to our knees. Some of us glibly like to say we won't have much to answer for since we have been given very little. That my friend will likely not hold up as we consider the time we have been given, the testimony we have as a believer, and the treasures and blessings that have been showered upon us. For those who are interested I invite you to check out God's clear word on this subject, the subject of life, and any and all other subjects. These truths can be located in the Book we call The Holy Bible. Here are a few passages that refer to believers before the Judgement Seat of Christ: Romans Chapter 14; 1st Corinthians Chapter 3; and 2nd Corinthians Chapter 5. These are sobering thoughts but it is knowing and acting upon the truth that will make a difference in our lives for time and eternity. Until next time, may God richly bless each one. Amen. ....more later.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mixed Up Mutterings on a Monday!

Welcome to Monday, May 18, 2009. Why don't you come on in and sit for a while and let's just visit for a few minutes before the busyness of life begins to claim our time? We're off to a fine start here in this area with an unexpected cool down giving us temps in the mid fifties this morning. It was a good morning to ride with the widow down and take in the air conditioning provided by our great God. It's only supposed to last for a couple of days but I'm going to soak up as much as I can because we all know what's facing us just around the bend - - summertime! We all will be looking for a place under the shade tree then. We have also been blessed with some timely rain that has really helped our new lawn. We had the entire front yard scraped off and replanted with grass due to damage from the hurricane. We had heard all kinds of war stories about how that some people have to plant grass more than once to get it started but we have been blessed with a tremendous amount of rain, especially the week it was planted. Yeah, we have also poured out a huge amount of water, more like August's bill, but we did not want to have to start over on this project. It may not make it through the summer but right now it looks like it has been there for a long time and it is lush and green. We thank God for the rain.

However, we are aware that someone else may not have needed the rain. They may have been into a different project where the rain interfered. We are all on our way here on the planet but essentially we are on different tracks in trying to get the things done that pertain to our own business. What brings us together? We do have a common heritage here in this country called freedom. No matter where our ancestors came from we Americans share a bond rooted in liberty and individualism. You like hot weather. I love the cold or I used to love the cold, now maybe I love the cool. Us older people can't seem to make up our minds. But that's okay. We can change our minds. I never cared about retirement matters but when I see a headline on it now it gets my attention. Different but bound together by principles we hold dear. For those of us who are believers we are a part of the family of God and all believers everywhere are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Red, brown, yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight and they should be in ours also!

As I drove in this morning I saw a lonely coyote who crossed in front of my car. He was most likely making his way back to his den after having been out foraging for food. Later I came across an ambulance on the country road where I drive to work. It was strange to see that vehicle a little after 4 a.m. with its blinding red and blue lights flashing so brightly. As I made my way around the emergency vehicle I noticed some people on the front porch of a small home. The attendants were inside and I immediately thought how it could be any of us needing that kind of attention. We are all a part of the human family and we all have needs. That vehicle was an impediment to me being able to get on with my life but it surely wasn't nearly as much of a problem to me as it was to whomever they were there to help. The person needing the ambulance was one of the nearing seven billion who breathe air on the planet. We are a part of this human race and God so loved us all that He sent His one and only Son to die that we might be able to spend eternity in His presence. So today I would suggest we all view the interruptions and slowdowns that tend to aggravate us and consider them in light of the big picture. My wife and I used to sing a song that put it this way: "Maybe it's you and then maybe it's me, who'll be the next to face eternity? When the day has come and gone He will call somebody home, maybe it's you and then maybe it's me." May God help us all to serve Him in this, the day that He has given to us! Amen. .....More later.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Happy Birthday baby sister!

Good Friday morning. I do hope you have had a productive work week and now are looking forward to ending the week on Saturday and beginning the brand new week on Sunday. These are some of the thoughts that are swirling around my mind on this Friday, May 15, 2009. Today I pause to remember the 57th anniversary of the birth of my baby sister Kayla. After having fought an 18 month battle with leukemia, she left this world for her heavenly home back in 1979 leaving behind a testimony that still speaks today. There's something about her being the baby of our family that causes us to remember her in a very special way: as the baby of our family! Her short life is one of those painful events that can never be adequately explained or understood in terms of it making sense to our human thoughts. It is only through the eyes of faith that we can embrace the reality of God's perfect will in all things. We thank God for the time He gave us to enjoy such a sweet and loving child who in her last days here did her best to tell one and all about how they too can join her in that heavenly home. May God bless her daughters and all those who remember her on this day.

Memories are a special part of our make up and I thank God for those that allow us to revisit those who have gone on before us. Sure, tears flow but in many ways the memories are like a special gift for us to rehearse and relive the life and times of special people in our lives. We saw first hand with our dear Brother Milton what can happen when the brain function is injured and memories become difficult to get hold of or they become clouded and distorted. Even as I sit here this morning I can see myself, Kayla, and my brother Donald playing on the front porch of my granddad's house. Running up and down the stairs, playing cowboys and Indians, yeah, that's right, we could play those imaginary games back then before it became politically incorrect. But how wonderful it is to recall those images and almost hear our voices as we played. What a blessing!

It's even a greater blessing to know where Kayla is today. She is more alive now than she ever was in her short sojourn here on planet earth. How can we know exactly where she is? As I grow older I am attracted more and more to that passage from the Apostle John's Gospel in the division we call Chapter 14. It is here that we hear from our Savior as He sought to give comfort to His followers, those who heard His voice on the day He spoke these words, and to those of us who read with the ears of faith today: 1) “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2) In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. ” I don't know the location or the map coordinates to this real place Jesus talked about but I know that it exists and I know that He is there and I know that Kayla is too! I'm looking forward to being in that same place when God calls me home, how about you? Happy Birthday baby sister. We have not forgotten. May God bless each one to have a great Saturday and may we all find ourselves at the regular meeting place with other believers to begin our brand new week on Sunday. Until next time, May God be with you till we meet again! Amen. .....More later.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

It has taken a good long while but I'm glad to report it is now finished!

Yes, it did take a while. We did begin in early October and as of the end of last week the final paint has been applied and our home is now officially recovered/restored from the visit Hurricane Ike paid last year. This is the subject I’m stewing about on this Thursday, May 14, 2009. Now I could have said we finished just in time for the new hurricane season but you notice I didn’t say that because saying things like that tend to upset the wife. Our nephew has done a good job in the variety of projects required to get our place back together. And, he has also been able to do a major remodeling project for one of our neighbors. He is a fine Christian man and has been a testimony to them and has become like a regular family member in their home. In short, they have learned to love and respect him. The elder brother in the home who is 68 does a lot of bicycle riding and our nephew has been riding along with him for the past several months. His plan is to load up all his tools and head back to Florida tomorrow morning.

It is good to close this chapter and say one more time how thankful we are to God for seeing us through these many months of stress and difficulty. Our dear Brother Milton who became severely ill while working on our home is continuing his remarkable recovery at his home in Florida. According to top-notch medical advisers, he was supposed to have died several different times. According to the Great Physician he outlived those dire predictions. His physical condition continues to show great progress and promise and they hold forth hope that his short-term memory can also be helped. Last week he began being able to read from a large print Bible. While different ones have read to him over these past several months this was his first time to read it for himself. We were told he would read a while and cry a while, read a while and cry a while. That sounds just like the Milton we’ve always known! I told him when he left here that I believed he would preach again some day and I’m sticking with that belief.

I could throw out perhaps fifty challenging issues we’ve had to confront, deal with, and overcome over these past six plus months but suffice it to say, God is good all the time, all the time God is good! There have been some tears along with much crying out to God but so many times we saw Him do things that became marvelous in our eyes. We’ve garnered many compliments about our perseverance and determination. We’ve been told how strong we must be in our resolve and faith. What we know at the end of this season as we move on to the next, is an understanding that all we are, and all we can be, and all we will ever be able to be, is only because of Him and His grace and mercy towards us. I once heard an interesting illustration where the preacher said Old Testament Israel had taken all of the blessings God gave to them and instead of reflecting honor back to Him for them, they instead showered it upon themselves and they became elevated in their own minds. I pray that God will give us the good sense to properly recognize Him as our Source and as the only One deserving of any and all honor and glory for us making it through this challenge. May God and His Name be blessed and may all who read this take a moment, right now if you can, to thank Him for His help given to us! Amen. …More later.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It's just makes you want to cry.

No one wants to have to worry about protecting their safety and property every second of the day but with the economy in the ditch they tell us that crime is booming and that's what I have in my sights on this Wednesday morning, May 13, 2009. Yesterday I travelled into an area that I would not normally go. I was there to visit a particular specialty company. It's located in a part of the city that no doubt once was considered to be a thriving family oriented neighborhood. Nowadays there's burglar bars on top of burglar bars. I made the joke when I returned back here to the company that the muggers were standing in line waiting their turn having taken a number. I told the business operator that I thought I might put the parts up in the cab of the pickup with me and he said that would be a good idea because they wouldn't last long at all exposed in the bed of the truck, especially in that neighborhood. It was supposed to be a joke but he wasn't joking. Those people who have stayed in that area live quite differently than they once did and I could feel the tension in the air. Sad that this would be something faced every single day.

However, we are not immune, no matter where we live or how careful we are. Last week I received a call from an FBI agent who said a person arrested had one of our personal checks in his possession. The check had been written to pay a bill and placed in our mailbox on our street just a few days before. I immediately called my bank and since it was after hours they made note of the problem but by the next morning the thieves had already hit our account. My wife had to go in and set up a new account and transfer our funds over and then we had to apply to recover those funds taken through the fraudulent transactions. I had to leave work to go and sign the paperwork, we had to change all our direct deposit information, and now have to get new checks and essentially reorganize our financial affairs. Fortunately, we monitor our bank account daily, therefore, we would have caught this early but it still doesn't make you feel very good to know a person was arrested in a murder investigation and when they opened his cell phone one of our checks fell out on the ground. They believe it was stolen out of our mailbox. Therefore, we have resolved to change the way we pay our bills. We will likely begin paying them online, although with identity theft on the rise, many precautions must be taken. After this incident I went by one of the branch post offices to mail some letters and at 4:30 a.m. the receiving box was overflowing out the scoop. I had to force my letter through the mail sticking out of the box. That's probably one of those pickups that was cancelled!

The bottom line is that we live in a world where evil abounds. We all need to be careful. We need to practice basic techniques to protect ourselves while at the same time not allowing our concern to dominate our lives. For those of us who are believers we can only trust our God to protect us from harm. A few years ago I was in an area where we once lived and noticed how folks had built all kinds of fencing and even had added gates on their driveways to try and deter intruders. When we lived in that area it was an up and coming neighborhood with families and kids playing in the streets. Now it's like driving through something surreal. I noticed an elderly couple out to get their newspaper and they appeared to be very frightened by having to be out of doors. I don't know about you but that makes my blood boil and I thought to myself it was sin in all its forms that put my Savior on that cross. Without Him we would be as the song says: Like a ship without a sail. As my grandfather used to say, it's times like these when we need to pray and trust in God but also use a whole bunch of good old common horse sense. It still makes my blood boil to think about folks being prisoners in their own homes! May God help us is all I can think of as I end today's blog. Amen. .....More later.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"So, you can't serve because they can't do without you at work?" "Not really Judge but I don't want them to know that they can!"

My jury duty excursion did not result in me being chosen to be on a panel to see if I might be chosen for a jury but that didn’t keep me from having a good experience. These tiring and tedious tidbits are the tiny things that torture my troubled thinking on this Tuesday, May 12, 2009. Having run out of ‘T’s’, I now return to yesterday’s happenings. Going in I saw a fellow member of our local fellowship of believers there in the jury pool meeting place where some two hundred folks were awaiting their fate. I visited with him for a few minutes and then found me a quiet place near the front so I could do some Bible study and write out some notes for next week’s lesson. I also saw a down-the-street neighbor but he was way across the room so I didn’t get to speak to him. In a few minutes a rather large fellow sat down beside me and after about fifteen minutes of him fidgeting forth and back he leaned over and asked, “Hey, are you originally from Texas?” My response, “Not really but I’ve been implanted here from Louisiana since 1969.”

We then struck up a non-stop conversation and for the next thirty minutes we jawed on all kinds of subjects, thoughts, and ideas. He is a postal carrier who has been delivering mail for twenty-four years. His only contact with Louisiana had been a fishing trip launched from down below New Orleans a few years ago. I explained to him the distinct differences you find between the south, middle, and northern parts of Louisiana. He seemed surprised to learn that my home area of Louisiana was a completely different world than that found in the Cajun oriented atmosphere down south. We talked about hurricanes, emergency response, government services like mail, and his personal situation in terms of how the whole system has evolved. We then moved on to politics, our country, and the direction we are headed in.

He was a big dude and had a wonderful laugh and whenever I would say something (almost anything) he had this unique (and somewhat irritating) comeback, “Right! Right!” I have this really bad habit of imitating people’s quirks when I am with them. I sometimes do it without even thinking. If they do their eyes funny I might flash some funny eyes back to them. If they tilt their head a certain way or have a noticeable twitch I can easily echo these if I don’t restrain myself. I never gave him my own version of the “Right! Right!” feedback because I had showed up with my ‘A’ game that day and was able to exercise a little better control. I can remember a time or two when I have done this involuntary mimicry and the other person was not amused at all. They immediately thought I was making fun of them. I suppose they had never heard how that imitation is the highest form of flattery. I can’t say I learned anything that was new unless it was finding out how messed up the postal system is, as if I had never guessed or heard about it before! I am an introvert, he was obviously an extrovert, yet, we were able to meet, have an animated conversation, share a number of laughs, and then wave as we parted company having never introduced ourselves to each other. All and all, I did my duty and while I didn’t get selected to be on a prospective panel I did enjoy a good time of interaction and left with this thought ringing in my ears: “Right! Right!” I never told anyone it was easy being me but it’s the only me I can be. See you next time and don’t forget to pray for our nation. Amen. …..More later.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Good to go and it happens to be a Monday!

I know many of you likely get tired of hearing my family stories but think about it, they are really the only ones I have! I'm still remembering our great day yesterday where we honored my wife and my daughters-in-law for Mother's Day 2009, and that's what I am writing about on this humid Monday, May 11, 2009. I was able to catch up with my mom and express my love and appreciation to her. She and dad made a trip over to her younger brother's home where all the siblings could meet up and have a time of fellowship together. They must be a sight together. Uncle Asa is 87, Mom is 85, and Uncle Waymon is 83 and they all pretty much get up each day and do what they want to do, with certain limitations, of course. But what a privilege to be able to still call my mom, therefore, I do it often, sometimes several times a week. We also had a great Bible study class devoted to God's gift of moms. It was a time to celebrate the mothers present but also to remember those who have gone on to their reward. One of our dear ladies remembers how that her mom raised up 9 children and they always thought growing up she really liked to eat the chicken necks but later found out she did so in order for the children to have the best parts. Sounds like my mom. Sounds like your mom. Sounds like mom!

We ended up with 20 in our home and enjoyed a full afternoon of feasting and fellowship. Our three sons all did their part and brought their assigned food dishes. They also served their wives and their children and I served their mom, my wife. After that the little groups formed and the chattering began. The little ones were running up and down the stairs and the noise was loud, boisterous, and beautiful. After the smoke cleared and everyone was gone you could hardly tell that I spent most of Saturday afternoon cleaning and preparing for our big celebration. We also celebrated our middle son's wife's birthday. When we all gathered around the cake to sing, their little Alex was by then pretty much spent from running with Brady (Bray-Bray). He indicated he would help lead the singing and promptly folded his hands the same way he does when he prays. Everyone busted out laughing but it's the little unexpected funny things that make for a special time and a lasting memory. I have had people wonder out loud how every time we have a get together they seem to be the best ever. Yeah, I do tend to see it that way but to me that's my story and I am sticking to it. Our main objective was to see to it that our moms felt very honored and based on what I heard and saw, I believe they did! Mission accomplished!

After I get things here at the office opened up and ready for the day I will be leaving for an adventure called Jury Duty. We live in a county where nearly all things have become modernized and efficient EXCEPT for the jury system. I will be making a trek back into a combination of the 'Andy Griffith Show' along with some of the regulars from 'Hee Haw'. I've written about all of this before and today I will do my best to go with an open mind, enjoy the things that are funny, and do my best to fulfill my duty as a citizen. I will try not to be so critical of all the nonsensical rattling of papers and endless delays that supposedly make our justice system the great one that it is. I will have my Bible for reading although that might be a problem in becoming qualified on some cases but I can always take it to the car and leave it if it bothers one of the attorneys. Who knows? It might just turn out to be a super day and I may actually enjoy the entire process. Okay, so it's a dream. Some dreams do come true, haven't you heard? Have a great week and may God bless each one. Amen. ......More later.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

The thought occurred to me that within my immediate family circle I’m surrounded by moms who have a huge amount of experience. Looking only at my mom, my wife, and my three daughters-in-law, they total well over 150 years of mothering expertise. That my friend is one huge amount of kissing hurts away and wiping runny noses. The treasure God had in mind when He gave us moms is the subject I am visiting in today’s blog on this Friday May 8, 2009. Our practice has always been to make a big deal for Mother’s Day as something special for the queen of our home. I notice those moms around me and how their hearts go out to their children and it makes me aware that God built that special instinct into their very being. Government and societal forces have done their best to redefine, redirect, and in some instances, to do away with this basic instinct but I am most thankful to report it is alive and well and continues to thrive in the hearts of those who nurture and pour themselves into our lives.

It was Abraham Lincoln who observed this about his mother’s influence, “I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life." Most of you know his story and how he grew up very poor but think about how rich he was to have a mom who cared so deeply for him. A mother’s heart seems not to know the bottom of that well named sacrifice. I’ve been the recipient of this type of love from my mom and I know my boys have from their mom and my grandchildren have from their moms as well. This is the legacy that has been handed down to our clan. It is a legacy rich in love, devotion, sacrifice, and determined caring and concern. What should be our response to our being privileged to have moms like this? My assessment: We should exhibit an ongoing recognition from a grateful heart to God as shown in how we shower these special women with our love and respect.

Happy Mother’s Day 2009 and here’s a poem written by an anonymous author that I think expresses our feelings on this occasion:

Dear Mom, I said a prayer for you
to thank the Lord above
For blessing me with a lifetime
of your tenderhearted love.
I thanked God for the caring
you've shown me through the years,
For the closeness we've enjoyed
in time of laughter and of tears.
And so, I thank you from the heart
for all you've done for me
And I bless the Lord for giving me
the best mother there could be.

Amen. ……More later.