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How A $10 Bill Bought Me Some Humble Pie

Ever said something you later regretted?  Don’t feel bad; we have all ‘stuck our foot in our mouth’ at one time or another.

How about congratulating yourself prematurely over some moral achievement only to fail miserably when presented with another, similar opportunity.  This is not to be confused with ‘sticking your foot in your mouth’ because you never opened it in the first place.  This is known as ‘tearing your rotator cuff while patting yourself on the back’.

Proverbs describes it this way. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Let me give you a personal example:

One morning, while driving for Lyft, I picked up a teenage girl.  She had purple hair, numerous body piercings, several tatoos and wore army boots. As she settled in the back seat, my first thought was that I wouldn’t have anything to talk to her about.

I was about to turn on my favorite sports radio station, when I decided to give small talk a try.  I asked her how her day was going and for the next forty-five minutes we talked non-stop. Her parents had divorced and I was taking her to visit her father.  She talked about her battle with depression. She was a victim of physical and internet bullying.  Her means of coping was to cut herself.  When that didn’t help, she overdosed on prescription drugs.  Her heart had stopped by the time the medics got to her but by the grace of God she survived.

She had been to counseling and was very articulate in conveying her feelings and observations about her mental state. I told her how special she was and that I believed God had given her a second chance at life.  As I pulled into her father’s driveway, she thanked me for “the best conversation she’s had in a long time.”

For the rest of the day, I felt good about that conversation as well; especially for taking the initiative to begin a dialog despite my first impressions of her.

Later that afternoon, I was tired as I arrived at a restaurant where two middle-aged women waved at me to confirm I was their driver.  I pulled my car close to the picnic table where they were finishing up their meal.

One wore puffy, pink slippers and what appeared to be a tattered flannel bathrobe.  She took a long drag on her cigarette and slowly drug it through the leftovers on her plate.  They talked for a while before her companion reached into her purse.  Good!  She must be pulling out her wallet to pay the bill.  Instead, she held a pack of cigarettes in her boney hand, shook out one for herself and offered another to her friend.  They both lit up and resumed an animated conversation.

I felt my blood pressure rising.  Should I toot my horn to get their attention or perhaps pump the accelerator a few times.  Maybe I could just shoot them a terse text.  I chickened out and began to lower the passenger side window. I was about to ask if they really wanted a ride when they both stood and took a few steps toward the car.  I hate the smell of cigarette smoke so I was about to ask them to put out their foul smelling death sticks before entering my clean car, when they stopped to chit-chat some more.  JERKS!!!!

I put the car in reverse,  backed up parallel to them, leaned across the passenger seat and pushed open the door. They got the hint. The skinny one pinched out the flame and shoved her cig back into her purse while pink slippers flicked hers at my car.

I said, “Hello” between gritted teeth as they plopped into the back seat. They didn’t return my greetings but continued with their conversation.  I turned on the radio a louder than I normally would and sped away from the restaurant.

Halfway to their destination, pink slippers told me (not asked…not requested) but told me to stop at a 7-11 so she could buy more cigarettes.  I asked where it was and she replied that it was five or six miles after her drop-off spot.  I bit my tongue before asking if she could perhaps purchase cigarettes at a convenience store on the way to her home.

“Nope,” she replied.  “I want to see my friend who works at the 7-11.”

I thought about slamming the brake peddle into the floor to perform a safety check of my seat belts when the skinny gal put her hand on her friend’s lap and said, “Let the man stop at the Mobile station just ahead. He’s spent enough time with us.”

As pink slippers was inside buying her cigarettes, her friend tapped my shoulder.  I turned and she held out a $10 bill.  “Thank you for being so patient and kind.  My friend can be a little demanding at times.”

“You don’t have to do that,” I said rather sheepishly.

“Take it,” she answered. “You deserve it.”

No-I definitely did not deserve it.  I felt God took my unclean thoughts and  smeared them all over my face – but He’s not that petty.  I had to eat some humble pie that day.  Thank you God for revealing my pride to me.  I’ll try to do better next time.

The Many Colors Of A Relationship

Terry and Karen

Everyone over 40 knows the answer to the riddle: What’s black and white and red all over? Why, it’s a newspaper of course.  Millennials and everyone else born after them have a new riddle:  What can have  multitudes of colors but is red all over?  Why, it’s a computer screen of course.  The former is decreasing in popularity while the latter’s readership is lining many computer geek’s pockets green. (For you grammar geeks I know red, in this context, should be spelled read but spelling it the correct way would spoil the riddle.)

Why do I bring this up?  Because no matter who’s generation you’re talking about, spending too much time with either medium has caused many people to feel ‘blue’.  Blue over having to compete with children, husbands and wives for their attention.

Both mediums have value for gathering information, education and entertainment but too much of any good thing can turn bad.  Take white sugar for example.  In moderation, sugar transforms boring desserts into sweet delicacies while too much will cause our pink bellies to bloat and diseased limbs to turn purple.  There is one exception to this rule — building strong relationships need time for them to flourish.

Strong relationships are more valuable than gold.  Gold must go through a refining process to make it pure.  Relationships need time to go through their own refining process to bring out their full beauty.

Early in Karen’s and my marriage, I had a daily routine when I came home from work.  I stopped at the newspaper box at the end of our driveway and pulled out the newspaper delivered during the day.  Karen received a hug and kiss from me, then I was off into the living room.  Having plopped onto my favorite chair, I opened the newspaper to the sports section first and worked my way through every page until Karen called me to dinner.  After dinner, my attention was turned back to the paper until I finished reading every line.

Karen would complain, saying she looked forward to spending time with me everyday but felt neglected when I came home.  My response to her was that after a long day of work, I needed to relax and decompress for awhile.

One morning as I got up for work at 5am I noticed that I forgot to get the newspaper the previous night.  I ran down the driveway, fetched the paper and brought it back to the house.  As I sat to eat breakfast I opened the paper to the sports page.  As I began to read, something about the appearance of the front page seemed different.  A meticulously handwritten message appeared between the typed print.  It went something like this:

“Dear Hubby.  Please come and talk to your wife.  I miss you and want to spend time with you.”

I couldn’t help but smile as I entered our bedroom, sat down on the bed and woke Karen up.  She wasn’t too happy about being woken so early until I showed her the newspaper she had written on.  I took the hint though and we both read a book about marriage which stated how important the first 10-15 minutes are to a marriage when a couple meets up after working all day.  That time together determines whether the mood of the evening will be cast in hues of gray or shine through in brilliant yellow.

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Standing Up To Evil (Queens)

Brooklyn and Papa

Disneyland is a magical place for children of all ages…even for those who have graduated from diapers to Depends.  I should know, well, not because I wear Depends but because I’m a grandparent who loves the “happiest place on earth” as much as my grandchildren.  Karen and I just returned from the Magic Kingdom after spending five days with our daughter Jaymi, her family and her in-laws.

Besides all the fun of meeting all the Disney characters, going on every ride (some four or five times), eating anything we want without parents or wives telling us “no” (well, at least Grandpa didn’t say “no”) and just being silly and goofy as a family, we even learned some valuable lessons such as:

  • When smearing suntan lotion all over every square inch of your face, don’t forget to take off your sunglasses or there will be one very burned square inch on the bridge of your nose.
  • Don’t talk about how scary certain rides are in front of the grandchildren who, before that, were excited to try out aforementioned scary rides.
  • Don’t buy new shoes for Disneyland when you know you will go on rides which will get those new shoes very, very wet.

Probably the most valuable lesson I learned though was taught to me by my five-year-old granddaughter, Brooklyn.  This was her first trip to Disneyland and we all were excited to see her reaction to all the Disney characters, especially to the princesses.  She’s a walking encyclopedia of knowledge regarding everything about Disney princesses.

On the first day at Disney, I thought I would make some brownie points with Brooklyn by carrying on a sophisticated conversation with her about princesses.  I began by asking her what color dress princess Bella wore?  She looked up at me with what I can only describe as scorn and replied, “It’s not Bella, it’s Belle and I don’t think we should talk about princesses any more if you don’t even know their names.”

So one by one we followed Brooklyn as she excitedly met Aurora, Snow White, Anna, Elsa, Belle and Ariel.  Then Brooklyn spotted Queen Grimhilde, the wicked Queen from Snow White.  She barked out orders to the children timidly standing in line to get her autograph: “Come before me and bow. And, if you want to be a queen, you must act like a queen and never smile”  She would point at the children’s parents and ask, “Are these your servants?”

Brooklyn stepped in line and she looked serious.  I thought she might be afraid so I bent over and whispered in her ear, “Don’t be afraid; she’s only pretending to be mean.”

Without taking her eyes off the queen she replied, “I’m not afraid.”

Finally it was Brooklyn’s turn and she stepped toward the Evil Queen.  The queen looked down at Brooklyn and said, “So, do you desire to be a queen?”

Brooklyn stared up at her and replied, “No, I want to be a princess.”

“Why would you only want to be a princess?” the queen snarled.  “A queen controls a whole kingdom.”

Brooklyn stood her ground and answered, “Because queens are mean and princesses are nice.”

If you know Jesus as Lord and Savior, you are His children and rightful heirs to His Kingdom.  Therefore, for those who believe, we are not paupers but princes and princesses who are in training to be nice to others along with many other important royal duties.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Luke 6:31

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“I Do” and I’m glad I Did!!!

Forty-one years ago, on September 2, I married my high school sweetheart and best friend, Terry Carlson.  We dated for five years and couldn’t wait to begin our life together as husband and wife. Terry was 20 and I was 19 years old…but we were both very mature…haha!

Planning the wedding was a blast!   I really didn’t know what style I liked or what colors I wanted so I picked out the first material I saw at the fabric store and my mother-in-law sewed most of the bridesmaid’s dresses.  Back then there were no smart phones or a computers but with pen and paper I checked off each item on the list of all that needed to get done before our big day

*Order wedding cake from Scandia Bakery.               *Ask my cousin, Kathy and our friend, Mich to sing.
*Ask our high school English teacher to play the organ.
*Order wedding invites.
*Order flowers.
*Ask friends to be bridesmaids and groomsmen.
*Ask my nephews and nieces to be flower girl,   ringbearer, Jr. bridesmaid and Jr. groomsmen.
*Buy wedding dress.
*Reserve church and Son’s of Norway for reception.
*Choose songs to be sung during ceremony.
*Find photographer.

Everything checked off and our day finally arrived!  As I waited anxiously in the cry room, guests took their seats in the nearby sanctuary.  Organ music softly  played through the walls of the cry room.  This was the moment Terry and I had dreamed about, talked about, planned for and saved for.

The music paused and I heard Mich and Kathy begin to sing our song, Baby, by John Denver.  I was overcome with emotion and began to cry.  We changed a few of the words to make it a wedding song.  The lyrics of the chorus goes like this:

“And the wind will whisper your name to me
Little birds will sing along in time
Leaves will bow down when you walk by
And morning bells will chime.”

We changed morning bells to wedding bells will chime. ( I know…the lyrics seem cheesy today but 41 years ago  it was romantic.)

You can hear the orginal song if you click here:

https://www.bing.com/search?q=john+denver+song+baby&form=EDGTCT&qs=PF&cvid=e15f1b8bd5504d78b8de78042b100dc8&refig=f51aa0cb61994ff7e47a98afa63fa6d3&cc=US&setlang=en-US

I could not stop crying. I didn’t wear any make up, and it’s a good thing because it would have all come off.  I’m not saying a few tears were shed…I’m saying I was full on UGLY, cannot stop, crying.

After all my bridesmaids arrived at the altar, I anxiously took my Dad’s arm.  The “old traditional”, Here Comes The Bride began and all the guests stood.  I tried to quit crying but, oh no, there was no stopping it.  Terry took my trembling hands as we stood in front of the pastor.  He repeated his vows and then it was my turn…I could barely breathe.  I began to repeat my vows, took a breath which burst into a loud snort!! Our ringbearer and flower girl began to cry…Years later I found out they cried because they thought weddings were sad.  Several guests were in tears, too. We made heartfelt vows of “I Do” before God for better or worse, for richer or poor, in sickness and in health…til death us do part.  And we lived happily ever after….ha ha!!!

Terry and I didn’t know Jesus personally when we got married but He knew us!!! God’s Hand was on us. He knew the plans He had for us and we would accept His gift of grace and salvation five years later by acknowledging our need for Him and proclaim Him as Lord and Savior.

Have we lived “happily ever after”?  Some days…sure. But honestly, no, not really. Would I marry Terry all over again?….YES, YES, YES!!!  But in real life we walked through seasons of good and bad. Seasons of great times and seasons of hard times and losses. I used to think love was a feeling and if you lose that feeling…uh oh.  Love is oh, soooo much more than that.

I’m so thankful to God for Terry.  Is he a perfect husband?  Uh…noooo!  But he’s the perfect husband for me.  Does he ever irritate me…Uh, yessss!  Does he have some habits that truly annoy me…Oh yeah!!  Oh, please quit fidgeting and flush the toilet even when it’s just yellow!!!!

We are experts at pushing each other’s hot buttons. Some days we don’t like each other at all.  We are two imperfect persons God continues to change and grow and love on…not sure we will ever reach perfection… haha!  One verse God keeps bringing to mind when I feel like being snitty…“A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1.  It actually works, if I choose to apply it.

Looking back, 41 years ago!!  Wow!!!  We didn’t even know the meaning of love, but we humbly continue to learn from God through the Bible how to love, honor, trust, respect and stay committed to each other even when times aren’t great.

The Lord has allowed very tough things to come our way in our forty-one years of marriage.  As John Denver’s song said, I’ll walk in the rain by your side.  Boy, that was more than prophetic. We lost our family home and most of our possessions in the flood of 1990.  We tore the remains of our home down to the studs and began to rebuild.  For thirteen months our family weathered that storm together and faithfully walked in the rain by each other’s side.  We made a flood video of the year documenting the faith filled journey God took us on. We laugh now at the end of that video when we all decided to celebrate by rapping a grand finale song.

Terry and I were blessed with three beautiful children:  Katie, Jaymi and Michael.  Terry walked by my side in the season of being a mother of preschoolers.  I thought everything would come naturally to me, but it didn’t.  By God’s grace, through His Word in church, Bible study and MOPS, He blessed us as parents. Now we enjoy our ten grandchildren and are very excited to meet #11 this February.

Through years of chronic illness and chronic pain, Terry has been by my side. He’s been my tour guide on many expensive, painful dental vacations…we both would have preferred Hawaii or the Bahamas. He has loved me through:

*Eleven painful root canals.                                 *Mercury toxicity.                                                        *Chronic fatigue syndrome.                                       *Eleven teeth extracted because of the root canals. *Years of horrific tmj pain.                                      *Kidney infections.                                                     *Chronic neck pain.                                                               *All teeth extracted.                                                  *Adrenal fatigue.                                                  *Depression.                                                                *Surgeries for bone grafts and dental implants.

Through it all, Terry is still loving me despite me having no teeth, failing bone grafts, failing implants and another bout with heavy metal toxicity. I look like Grandma Pitypoo, but Terry sees my beauty. (I think his eyes must be going bad!) I know his hearing is…we play Scrabble quite often with each other and we each drew our letters to see who goes first.

Terry got up and told me, “I got the letter C and I have to go pee.”

I drew my letter and yelled to him, ” I got the letter T.”

He said,”What?”

I repeated loudly, “I got the letter T!”

His response was, “Well use the other bathroom then.”

He has hearing aids but doesn’t wear them around me…hmmm!

I once told Terry he should have looked into my mouth before he married me. He may have changed his mind when he saw my teeth. He said, “You never look a gift horse in the mouth…and you are a gift to me.” AWWW!! So Sweet!!!

I’ve walked by his side through:                               *Many painful job transitions.                                 *Two kidney stones.                                                           *A heart surgery, stroke, and a botched stent surgery.

But, by God’s grace, today we love each other even more and remain best friends. He will finish my sentences before I do. I will finish his thoughts before he speaks them. I couldn’t have picked a better Daddy for our kids. I wouldn’t want to be an Ama/Grandma with anyone else…what a joy it is to enjoy grandchildren together. I wouldn’t have wanted to go through or grow through life with anyone else by my side, than you, Terry.  I love you!!!  Happy 41st Anniversary to you!! And I thank you Jesus for giving us the strength and power to walk through each storm you permit in our lives. We could not do it without you!!! I pray you will bless us with many more years together!!!

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The Incredible Case Of The Flying Bologne Sandwich.

Do you ever tell little white lies?  While driving school bus a few years ago, whenever I caught kids misbehaving, most would pull the politician card and deny any wrong doing.  On rare occasions some children would surprise me.

One morning, a sandwich whizzed past my right ear and stuck to the front windshield.  I looked up at the student mirror and saw numerous fingers pointing toward a third-grader named Tyler sitting about six rows behind me.  I liked this boy.  He was polite, respectful, and had a good sense of humor.

I pulled the bus over to the side of the road, pointed toward the sandwich still stuck to the windshield and asked the boy if he did indeed throw that sandwich at me.

He stood and said, “No, Mr. Carlson, I wasn’t throwing my sandwich at you.  I was trying to throw it at the kid sitting right behind you.”

While trying not to laugh, I explained how it was my job to get them all to school safely and that having a sandwich thrown past me was very distracting.  I gave him a verbal warning and I thought that would be the end of it.

The next morning, I just happened to look in my student mirror just in time to see Tyler throw another sandwich at the same kid sitting behind me.  His accuracy was much improved and the boy caught the sandwich.  I pulled the bus over once more to the side of the road.

“Tyler!” I yelled.  “We had this discussion yesterday morning about how dangerous it is to distract me while I’m driving.  This will be two days in a row that you’ve lost your lunch.”

Again, he stood and grimly said, “I’m sorry Mr. Carlson.  I keep telling my Mom that I don’t like bologna sandwiches but she keeps putting them in my lunch.”  He grinned then added, “But it’s okay,  because Austin caught it this time.”

I’ll always remember this story not because it was so funny…well, maybe I will remember it for that, but I’ll also remember it because Tyler was so refreshingly honest.  We live in a world where lying has become so commonplace that I was pleasantly caught off guard by this little boys honest confession.  Let me now share with you my own confession as a lesson to what can happen when we don’t tell the truth.

I have an addiction to soda pop, especially Mountain Dew.  For years Karen has been after me to quit.  After an annual wellness check-up a few years ago, my doctor told me to loose weight and to my dismay strongly suggested I quit drinking pop….especially Mountain Dew.

It was very difficult but I was able to quit the habit….at home.  While away at work  I still drank one or two bottles a day.  Whenever Karen would ask me how I was doing I would lie and tell her how victorious I was over my addition with carbonated, flavored, sugar water.

One day, Karen asked if I drank any pop that day at work.  I said, “No.”  She asked again and I responded with annoyance in my voice, “For the second time….no.”  When she asked a third time, I lost it and won’t repeat what I angrily said back to her.  She pulled a slip of paper out of her pocket and threw it at my feet.  It was the receipt for the two bottles of Mountain Dew I had bought that day.

“Oh!  What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”  (1)

After a few minutes of self-reflection (or was it self-flagellation) I went to Karen with my tail between my legs and apologized.  I don’t think this lie fell under the “little white” category and the nuclear fallout I experienced from Karen validated this conclusion.  I resided in her dog house for quite awhile before I could gain back her trust.   The perceived nagging I assumed I could dodge by lying was definitely not worth the pain I caused Karen.

As Paul Harvey would say, “And now for the rest of the story….”

I had to give Tyler a written warning, which also meant a phone call from me to his mother, after dropping her son off at school.  I explained to her what had happened the previous two mornings and she told me she would also have a talk with him.

The following morning I picked up Tyler at his bus stop and he cheerfully bounded up the steps and stopped before me.  He opened up his lunch and excitedly pulled out a sandwich.

With a big grin on his face he held out the sandwich and exclaimed, “It’s peanut butter and jelly!”

(1) An excerpt from a poem written by Sir Walter Scott. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marmion_(poem)

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Are You Afraid Of What’s Behind The Door?

Joshua

Karen recently watched all five of Katie’s kids by herself (whew!!!!)  She has no idea how Katie does it.  Karen felt like a mama dog with fourteen hungry pups and only eight nipples.

In the midst of juggling the needs of the kids, Joshua, the youngest boy pleaded with his grandma to wait in the bathroom with him while he did his thing.  Now he has no problem going at his own home without supervision, so she asked why his reluctance to fly solo at our house.

“When I shut the door, there’s a lady looking at me,” was his reply.  Karen shut the door and Joshy pointed to the plaque I have hanging on the wall, behind the open door.  Staring down at him is an early 20th century young woman advertising Coca Cola.  I guess he really values his privacy and doesn’t want anyone observing his business.

Aren’t we all a little like Joshua?  He’s embarrassed to leave the door open, but also afraid to shut the door and expose himself to that creepy Coca Cola lady.  We leave the door to our life open just enough to let others see what we want them to see.  Eventually we shut that door to the outside world and hope no one will find out who we really are.  But behind all our doors is someone far more dangerous than an ill-advised placement of a Coca Cola plaque.

Satan is behind the door you close to the outside world.  He resides in darkness and is behind every evil thought, every evil action and is always all too willing to help you condemn  yourself.   “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  1 Peter 5:10

God on the other hand never hides behind doors and He doesn’t want you to either.  He carefully and lovingly created you, not for you to hide from Him and others because you make a few mistakes.  God wants you to be real with Him.    King David longed for this kind of relationship with God and wrote about it in Psalm 139: 1-18.

“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.  You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.  When I awake, I am still with you.”

For now Karen and I are going to leave up the picture of the Coca Cola lady in our guest bathroom.  Karen was able to share truth with him and he felt better.  This situation was just one of many opportunities we will have with our grandchildren to share the love of God.  If you haven’t already, open the door to your heart to God today.  He’s waiting with open arms.

 

 

The Flag and The Cross

We celebrated the birth of our nation a few days ago.  On July 4th 1776 the Declaration of Independence was approved by the 56 delegates of the Second Continental Congress.  Thirteen independent British Colonies pledged to rebel against the tyranny of the British Empire and joined together to become one sovereign nation…the United States of America.

Many of us celebrated the 4th of July by gathering with friends and family. We enjoyed delicious barbecued food, played games, watched parades and  gaped at magnificent fireworks shows. While we took pleasure in all the events of the day, I wonder how many of us even remember the sacrifice the signers of the document endured which paved the way for the many freedoms we now enjoy.

I found an article written by Gary Hildreth titled The Declaration of Independence…The Signers. http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/POLITICS/DOCUMENTS/the_signers.html  Read on to discover the sad truth behind the outcome for many of the brave men who dared to stand up against the evil actions of a bully nation.

“Have you ever wondered what happened to the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence? This is the price they paid:
Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the revolutionary army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships resulting from the Revolutionary War.
These men signed, and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor!
What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants. Nine were farmers and large plantation owners. All were men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty could be death if they were captured.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers or both, looted the properties of Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
Perhaps one of the most inspiring examples of “undaunted resolution” was at the Battle of Yorktown. Thomas Nelson, Jr. was returning from Philadelphia to become Governor of Virginia and joined General Washington just outside of Yorktown. He then noted that British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headqurt, but that the patriot’s were directing their artillery fire all over the town except for the vicinity of his own beautiful home. Nelson asked why they were not firing in that direction, and the soldiers replied, “Out of respect to you, Sir.” Nelson quietly urged General Washington to open fire, and stepping forward to the nearest cannon, aimed at his own house and fired. The other guns joined in, and the Nelson home was destroyed. Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis’s Long Island home was looted and gutted, his home and properties destroyed. His wife was thrown into a damp dark prison cell without a bed. Health ruined, Mrs. Lewis soon died from the effects of the confinement. The Lewis’s son would later die in British captivity, also.
“Honest John” Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she lay dying, when British and Hessian troops invaded New Jersey just months after he signed the Declaration. Their thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and his grist mill were laid to waste. All winter, and for more than a year, Hart lived in forests and caves, finally returning home to find his wife dead, his chidrvanished and his farm destroyed. Rebuilding proved too be too great a task. A few weeks later, by the spring of 1779, John Hart was dead from exhaustion and a broken heart.
Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.
New Jersey’s Richard Stockton, after rescuing his wife and children from advancing British troops, was betrayed by a loyalist, imprisoned, beaten and nearly starved. He returned an invalid to find his home gutted, and his library and papers burned. He, too, never recovered, dying in 1781 a broken man.
William Ellery of Rhode Island, who marveled that he had seen only “undaunted resolution” in the faces of his co-signers, also had his home burned.
Only days after Lewis Morris of New York signed the Declaration, British troops ravaged his 2,000-acre estate, butchered his cattle and drove his family off the land. Three of Morris’ sons fought the British.
When the British seized the New York houses of the wealthy Philip Livingston, he sold off everything else, and gave the money to the Revolution. He died in 1778.
Arthur Middleton, Edward Rutledge and Thomas Heyward Jr. went home to South Carolin tight. In the British invasion of the South, Heyward was wounded and all three were captured. As he rotted on a prison ship in St. Augustine, Heyward’s plantation was raided, buildings burned, and his wife, who witnessed it all, died. Other Southern signers suffered the same general fate.
Among the first to sign had been John Hancock, who wrote in big, bold script so George III “could read my name without spectacles and could now double his reward for 500 pounds for my head.” If the cause of the revolution commands it, roared Hancock, “Burn Boston and make John Hancock a beggar!”
Here were men who believed in a cause far beyond themselves.
Such were the stories and sacrifices of the America revolution. These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

The Declaration of Independence is often considered the most important document ever written for the people of the United States.  The colonists no longer wanted to live their lives under the bondage of tyranny.  They were willing to risk their reputations, careers and even their lives for freedom.

Let’s remember to thank God for these men who risked it all for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  At the same time, let’s not forget to also thank God for providing His Son who willingly laid down His life as a substitute for ours.  He won the battle for our souls against the tyranny of death and Satan by dying on the cross for our sins.

If you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, while you put your hand over your heart to pledge allegiance to the American flag, lift your eyes toward heaven and ask Jesus to enter your heart and acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior.

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“Love Intentionally”

Papa (Terry) and I had the privilege of having our five grandchildren (ages 2-11) over for a couple of nights this last weekend.  I’m still recovering! Whew…it was fun and crazy…it kind of reminded me of going down a waterslide…at times a little overwhelming (thoughts were–yikes, why are we doing this?) but fun at the same time.

We played a lot of games: Old Maid, What’s Yours Like, Life, The Train Game, and Quick Cups to name a few.  Terry made his famous Papa’s Pancakes.   I made some yummy smoothies, molasses muffins, and popcorn.   We went to a country store and saw bunnies,  piglets, baby chicks, and a baby goat.   We bought a plant to begin a fairy garden.  But mainly we made memories.

I pray for and desire to intentionally love all of my grandchildren.   It  may be a phone call to just say “hello, I love you” to the ones who sadly live far away.  Sometimes it’s a surprise package to them in the mail or  spontaneous face time on the phone or computer.

This week, I called  my granddaughter, Brooklyn, who just graduated from kindergarten.  She lives in Washington so I wasn’t able to be there to cheer her on.  My daughter sent a video of her graduation, though.  The teacher asks each student as they graduate, what they want to be when they grow up.  Brooklyn stated “a hairdresser”.   I told her she could fix my hair when she became a hairdresser.  She said, “Ok!  Ama, what color do you want your hair?” I said hesitantly, “maybe white”?   She declared, ” I think pink, Ama!”.   Oh boy, I’m in trouble!!!!!

What memories are you making with your children or grandchildren?  Do they know you love them and actually delight in them?  What do you do to show them love?

ISV  Zephaniah 3:17  “The Lord your God among you is powerful.  He will save and will take joyful delight in you.  In His love He will renew you with His love, He will celebrate with singing because of you.

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Small Talk Is A Seed Which, When Watered, Can Grow Into Something Beautiful

“Small talk is an informal type of discourse that does not cover any functional topics of conversation or any transactions that need to be addressed.  Small talk is conversation for it’s own sake.”

The author of the above definition appears to believe ‘small talk’ is overrated as a means of communication.  Ellen DeGeneres agrees.  She says, “I hate having to do small talk.  I’d rather talk about deep subjects.  I’d rather talk about meditation , or the world, or the trees, or animals rather than small, inane, you know, banter.”

I have to admit, for most of my life I agreed with Ellen.

My mother likes to tell the story of the conversation she tried having with me after my very first day of school.  She asked a series of the usual questions every mother asks their child like, “What did you learn?…Did you have fun?…Did you make any friends? and…Was the teacher nice?”   

I didn’t say a word so she asked why I wouldn’t tell her how my day went.  As she tells it, I answered her by saying, “If you’d quit asking so many questions, I might be able to tell you something.”

In high school I could have cared less about who was breaking up with whom, who won the beer chugging contest over the weekend and guessing who had recently lost their virginity.  It all seemed so childish and pointless.  Whenever I was in a group, I secretly longed for someone to carry on a deeper conversation with.  So instead of joining in on the current conversation, I often stood silently by, pretending to show interest.

Looking back on those days, at worst others thought I reeked of a giant superiority complex and at best thought I seemed aloof.  I fooled many though into believing I was a great listener but I was actually only bored out of my mind unless someone pulled me away from the crowd to share a meaningful, one-on-one conversation.  This rarely happened because I was waiting for someone else to make the first move.  It wasn’t until years later that I discovered it was up to me to make the first move and it often involved beginning with small talk.

My wife, Karen became my full-time instructor on the art of small talk.  I learned that small talk is often a warm up to deeper conversations.  Slowly but surely I bought into this way of thinking but still often found it uncomfortable around strangers.

They say “practice makes perfect” and driving for Lyft and Uber has proved to be fertile soil to plant my ‘small talk’ seeds.  Every day I drive, I pray for divine appointments…riders who I can share words of encouragement with.  These are opportunities to water my seeds and see what grows.

Some riders also feel the same amount of disdain for ‘small talk’ as Ellen and the seed I plant can’t penetrate the layer of  rocky soil they place over that seed.  Other’s are open to small talk but won’t allow it to grow so eventually the conversation withers and dies.  Then there are those who God has given to me as the answer to my daily prayer.  These conversations start out small, but continue to grow until they blossom into the most beautiful flower imaginable.

For example: I picked up a young woman recently who was open to carrying on a conversation.  She asked me how I liked driving for Uber and I answered by explaining how ordinary small talk often led to extraordinary conversations and I told her a story.

While driving in Seattle I picked up a young women who was crying as she sat in the passenger seat of my car.  I asked her if she was okay and she responded by telling me she had just broke up with her boy friend.  I understood her feelings having raised two daughters who each went through break-ups of their own.  I shared some stories which made her laugh but she then feel silent and began to cry once more.

I asked her if there was anything else she wanted to tell me.  Without looking my way she told me she found out earlier that day she was pregnant.  She told her boyfriend who responded by telling her she had to get an abortion or he would break up with her.  The girl finally looked at me and said, “I won’t get an abortion so I broke up with him.”

I asked her if she had told her parents yet and she slowly shook her head.  “I’m afraid to tell them,” she said.  “I have two older sisters who are both the black sheep of the family but I’m the ‘good’ girl.  My parents will be so disappointed in me.”

She told me she loved her parents and knew they loved her so I explained how they probably would feel disappointment but that their love for her would soon push away that feeling and be her biggest supporters.

After a few more minutes of asking me for advice, she asked if she could change her destination.

“Sure.” I answered.

Her new destination was her parents house.

The girl in the backseat was quiet for a few moments and then said, “I think I’m your ‘divine appointment’ for today.  I can’t believe you decided to share that particular story to me because I’m going through something very similar.”

For the next thirty-minutes she talked, asked questions and by the time she exited my car to go to work,  she was smiling while telling me she hoped  to be one of my divine appointments again.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29

 

 

 

 

 

 

Communication Is The Key To Prevent Your Marriage Train From Derailing

 

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I enjoy driving for Lyft and Uber.  I enjoy the freedom of scheduling my own hours, listening to music and sports radio all day long (without driving Karen crazy) and talking with my rider’s.  Being able to hear and understand some of my customers though was difficult at times because I’m completely deaf in my right ear.  Karen may call my disability, “Selective Hearing Disorder” but I really have a hard time hearing people who talk to me from the right of me, especially in the car.  All the road noise will pummel my good left ear while drowning out the words spoken by anyone in the passenger seat.

I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy hearing aids.  They aren’t normal hearing aids though.  Sound coming from my right side is captured by a transmitter in my right ear and transmitted over to a hearing aid in my left ear by a wireless signal.  Hallelujah, the deaf can hear…at least that’s what I thought until this morning.

Most mornings, Karen and I have been getting up at 7:00 to go swimming in our community pool before I take off driving for Uber and Lyft.  This morning I woke up a little before seven.  Karen was sound asleep so I decided to let her rest while I powered up the computer, opened up EveryDollar (our monthly budgeting tool) https://www.everydollar.com/ and did some much needed tweaking.

Karen joined me at the computer around 8:30.  She was disappointed I hadn’t woken her at seven to go swimming.  She asked what I had been doing so I told her I was working on our budget.  The following is the short version of the conversation that ensued.

DISCLAIMER…The following conversation is presented to only state the facts, not as a vehicle to pass judgement or take sides.

Terry:  I was working on EveryDollar.

Karen:  When are you planning on actually doing it?

SIDE NOTE:  I had actually began EveryDollar in February but temporarily stopped in May because of all the craziness from the move to our new home.  I had told Karen numerous times I would resume the budget beginning June 1st.

Terry:  I’ve told you numerous times I’d start June 1st.

Karen:  I don’t remember you telling me that.

Terry, while vigorously scratching his head in frustration:  I’ve told you at least five times.

Karen:  When I’m in this much pain from my neck you know I don’t retain things.

Terry:  You seem very irritable this morning.

Karen:  It’s not just the pain I’m trying to deal with today.  Yesterday was four years since Mom died, I’m adjusting to living here without a car and….

Terry:  What does that have to do with EveryDollar?

Karen answers with tears welling up in her eyes:  Sometimes you need hearing aids for your heart instead of your ears.

Our marriage is like a powerful train chugging down tracks laid by our communication to each other.  Once in a while, like this morning, those tracks we lay are full of defects and our train derails.  When that happens, we both have to dig deep into our tool chests to begin repairing the damage done to our relationship.

What tools do you ask?  That’s a good question.  Let me tell you.  Our tool chest is the Bible and every tool needed to repair a damaged relationship can be found inside.

1.   The first tool is actually a lubricant for the prevention of a breakdown and is found in Ephesians 4:29.  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen.”

2.   The second tool is listening.  We don’t listen when we concentrate on a snarky rebuttal or interrupt.  Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who answers before listening — that is his folly and his shame.”

3.   The next tool is to share a response which is sincere and proper.  I may have heard what Karen said, but my heart had tuned her out.  I ignored the advice of Galatians 6:2.  “Share in each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”  Romans 12:15 gives further insight.  “Be happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep.”

4.    The final tool is a sincere apology.  James 5:16 says to, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”  And don’t wait to make amends.  “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and give the devil a foothold.”  Ephesians 4:26-27

So the next time your marriage train begins to wobble on poorly laid tracks of communication, grab your Bible and take out these tools before your locomotive derails.