Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gospel WAVE!

There! That title was designed to make you curious, to intrigue you, to lure you in. Now, the explanation may take a little while.

One week ago, 168 hours to be exact, I was in church. Today, we're snowbound/icebound and "church" was cancelled. At least the services were cancelled. Only God can cancel THE CHURCH, and for now, He's showing a lot of forbearance in letting us muddle along (see also "mercy, grace, patience, longsuffering").

That same Sunday morning, as my Sunday School class studied a portion of the gospel of Mark, I was acutely aware of a phenomenon I had pondered before. I knew that even in my Eastern Time Zone, not all churches were holding worship services at the same time. In places like Europe, Africa, and Asia, morning worship had already taken place hours before. Maybe even on some cruise ships out in the Atlantic who had seen the sun rise hours before I did.
Then I thought of those Christians to my west who might still be asleep, their church services still a few hours away. As I contemplated our spinning globe with millions of believers arising at different times to worship according to their own customs, I pictured a gigantic WAVE, circling the planet. Not like an ocean wave or tidal wave, but, you know-- THE WAVE. Like the crowds do at ball games and concerts. Okay, I don't get out much. Maybe they don't do it much any more. But my point is, at any given time, somewhere on the Earth, God's people are leaving their beds, bowing to Him in thanks, lifting their prayers heavenward, singing anthems of praise (traditional or contemporary with voices trained or untrained). They may be alone, they may be in a small group, they may be in a mega-church. They're praising their God in every language that exists. And best of all, as this "gospel wave" takes place, God must be smiling, and wishing that we were always so mindful of Him. Because He desires this time with us every day, not just on Sunday. For every soul who rises to worship Him, how many are there that are unmindful of Him, unaware of His nearby presence and His desire to be intimately involved in their lives?

But isn't the whole idea of The Great Commission to share Christ with those who don't know Him and let the Holy Spirit lead them gently into the fold? And God's word is full of instructions for how we can share His love.

Yes, this picture is copyrighted. Please do business with

Shutterstock and maybe they won't sue me.

From our lesson in Mark 9, these were the points of emphasis:

  • Show others you care ("Whoever welcomes one little child such as this in My name welcomes Me").
  • See others as coworkers ("Laborers together with God")
  • Sacrifice for others' sake
  • Season others' lives ("Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another")

My idea of the "Gospel Wave" circling the world is a comforting reminder not only that the remnant of those true to Christ is a vastly larger number than we might imagine, but also that we are united for His purposes through His gift of salvation. Whenever you spend time with the Lord, remember you're part of something much bigger--and He still has time to give you His undivided attention!

Remember, as the old song says,
"He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ice and Snow in the Sandhills

Here in the Sandhills of North Carolina, winter weather (the fun kind) is somewhat rare. Predictions tend to get us excited, but sometimes they don't yield results. Our local forecasters have been preparing us all week for the same system that dumped several inches over the midwest and brought things to a standstill.

About 7 Friday night we saw our first flakes. A sure harbinger of more to come. By bedtime at 11 we were still waiting hopefully. Up at 2:30 a.m. just to check on the status of our backyard. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. We knew that Raleigh, Charlotte, and Greensboro had already begun accumulating the white stuff even before we went to bed. Was this going to be the same old story we've heard oftentimes before? The storm tracked just north of the Sandhills, where just a trace of snow fell.

But, not to worry. I had just been back in bed a minute or two when there was the audible sound--ting ting ting-- on our tin roof. I sprang back to the back door and was gratified to see some crystalline formations descending on the premises. YES. It was easy to drop off to sleep after that. A couple of hours later Judy informed me that the ground was now white. By the time we got up just after 7, we had a decent covering. The best part was, even though the ground was fully covered (except the wild onions I chose NOT to cut in October), ice was not clinging to the trees and power lines. Even though I love the effect of ice-covered trees, losing one's electricity is not a good trade-off.

Postponing breakfast, Judy and I bundled up and trekked off to survey the nearby community. Here are some representative pictures from our outing.

Out the front gate. The back steps looked a little icy.
Judy gets the honor of making the first footprints. I get the honor of taking her picture.

The birdbath may be frozen over, but it still remained a busy area all day. Judy put out a pan of water so the birds could drink (instead of just skating).

A nice even covering. And we have no plans to move any of the vehicles until the roads are clear.

For the small amount we got, the roads are surprisingly covered. And with temps around 13 and 10 degrees for the next two nights, conditions won't improve too rapidly.

We've got food, electricity, and plenty of firewood. Not a bad place to be snowed in.

Somebody's obviously been driving, but cars are few and far between.

We walked the half mile to Highway 211 and find it has already been scraped.

The road up to Pinehurst and Rassie Wicker Park

Now that we've walked to 211 and seen what we could see, we have a good walk home with just a little sleet in our faces.

I step over to the power line right-of-way where we frequently walk.

Home Sweet Home. Let's get those boots off, get warm by the fire, and-- oh, yeah-- breakfast!

This is me and Judy, but with 95% of our skin covered with our best winter-wear, it could just as easily be two perfect strangers.
We'll venture out again when the spirit moves us, or when the sleet stops blowing. It's almost 3:00 now, and a light frozen mist continues to fall. But the ground cover has already become crunchy and nothing is melting on the road. Real fun ahead for the next couple of days.
Next blog post might be a snow update-- OR it might just be BABIES!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

39 Years Ago-- Combatting Boredom at Allen's 5 & 10

You don't hear much nowadays about "Dime Stores" or "Five & Ten Cent Stores", as we used to call them. We still have variety stores, dollar stores, and convenient marts, all of which incorporate certain aspects of their predecessors.

But for those of us who remember the Ben Franklin's, Woolworth's, Kresge's, and an endless variety of small-town versions of the dime store, nothing today is really comparable. The Ben Franklin store below is in Columbus, NC, near a major route to the Outer Banks.

Reputedly the first of all the Ben Franklin stores, it survives to this day. And along with it, survive such items as this handy canvas folding shopping basket.

Stores today have gone to all metal carts or plastic shopping baskets.

To me, those canvas baskets were reminiscent of the store everyone in my community knew about when I was a boy: Allen's 5&10 in Skyland Shopping Center. My mother took us there often, and it was one store we never complained about visiting. It had the hardwood floors, the jam-packed display cases, and all the sights and smells you associate with the dime stores of days gone by.

I little suspected when I was a boy that my first paying job would be at Allen's. It was just a part-time summer job, and paid just $1.60 an hour. I think minimum wage for full-time workers was only $1.80 then. But it was convenient, no night-time hours, and wouldn't tie me down much during a busy summer.

This brown paper bag may be my only tangible keepsake from the store. The only reason it was saved was because of what was written on the back.

And "What was that?" you may ask.

It was a Top Ten list that pre-dates David Letterman by a couple of decades. You see, I was hired as a stock boy, but none of the old ladies who worked there felt comfortable running the cash register. So when it was discovered that I was willing to do stock plus run the register, the job fell to me.

Unlike poor cashiers at groceries and Wal-mart, I never had long lines of impatient customers. The pace was leisurely. Sometimes to the point of boredom. Which led to my Top Ten (okay, Top Twelve--Letterman should try it) list: How to Fight Boredom While Watching the Cash Register. In retrospect, I think it's funny I said Watching the Cash Register instead of Operating the Cash Register. But there was a lot of just watching involved.

And now, THE LIST:

  1. Count the number of tiles on the floor.

  2. Count the number of tiles on the ceiling.

  3. Try to work the Curtis Key Machine.

  4. Count the number of times the cash register rings all day (using two hands or less.

  5. Time the Slurpee machine between cutoffs.

  6. Count the number of different sounds you can hear at any one time.

  7. Time the traffic light at the Clairmont-Buford intersection.

  8. Think of all the money you're making (HA!)

  9. See how long you can hold your breath without passing out.

  10. See how long you can go without blinking your eyes.

  11. Wait for the stock truck to come in.

  12. Make obscene phone calls to Allen Brothers Incorporated of Acworth.

Don't worry. I never made any obscene phone calls to Allen Brothers. I don't really remember doing many of those things. But I did unload the stock truck. I did climb on top of the building to pour Clorox in the air conditioning system. I did talk to the old ladies a lot. I did run the register. I did earn my $1.60 an hour--I think. Mrs. Ash, the manager, was delighted for me to bring in my portable radio. We all listened to Atlanta's first talk radio station WRNG--Ring Radio. That was my first exposure to Neil Bortz. He wasn't a conservative then, and hadn't written a book about the Fair Tax. But he was just as obnoxious as he is now. They had some other hosts who I really enjoyed. But I don't remember their names.

If you have children and happen to come across a REAL dime store in one of America's small towns, drop in to show your kids and yourself a real piece of Americana. I don't think it will be too boring, no matter what I used to think!

THREE IN A ROW!! (Posts without babies, that is)

Just to remind us ALL (myself included) that this is an ECLECTIC blog (pretty much anything goes), my last three blog posts have NOT been about the grandbabies. After all, SOME people are interested in things beside babies. This blogger, however, is beginning to go through withdrawal. And I've got baby pictures that just won't wait! I hope you've been eagerly waiting for the next installment.

Brianna: "Yeah, Grandma. Now that I can feed myself I'm thinking about getting a place of my own."

Brianna: "Grandpa, your version was okay, but don't ya think this jazzes it up a little?"

Brianna: "Whaddaya mean, 'why don't I sing'? Isn't it obvious?"
Brianna: "Now if I had some spurs, we'd see how much giddyup Grandpa has left."

Brianna: "What do you mean 'How do I get down'? I don't even know how I got UP!"

Brianna: "Grandma, when you're through playing with that can I have a turn?"

Claire: "Grandma, this phone is too big for me to talk and listen at the same time."

Claire: "My favorite part is putting grown-ups on hold."

Claire: "Playing in new toys is pure bliss!"

Claire: "WHAT!? Who's got a cold? BACK OFF, pardner!"

Claire: "Granny, was life this hard for little kids when you were growing up?"

Claire: "I find that concentrating on my foot aids my digestion."

Four generations: Steel Magnolias. : )

Claire: "Can I do magic? Yes I can. Presto! And the sock disappears!"

Can Claire and Brianna do magic?

Monday, January 25, 2010

An Agenda Worthy of a Monday

By a working person's standards, today was nothing unusual. But for a retired person like moi, it was a busy, productive, and satisfying day. And it's going to get better!
Here's how my day went so far:
  • 8:00 a.m. Got long overdue haircut at Eastwood Barber Shop. Saw Mike, Justin, Lee, and Shorty, all of whom have cut my hair at one time or another. Good times.
  • 8:50 a.m. Stopped at Eastwood Service Station to inquire with Don about recycling tires. A dollar a pop sounds good. More about this later.
  • 9:05 a.m. Lowe's Home Improvement. Got 40 pounds of birdseed, 5 gallons of rooftar for storage building roof, replacement handle for bathroom louver window, and some screw in light sockets with pull-chains for the garage and porch.
  • 9:20 a.m. Staples. Walked in, recycled ink cartridges. Saw storage tubs on sale, from $11.99 down to $4.99. Bought two--with my $9.00 Staples Rewards Coupon. More Rewards coming soon and I've already been scouting how to use them.
  • 9:45 a.m. Dollar Tree. Bought the off-brand corn chips for about one-third the price of Fritos.
  • 10:00 a.m. Got to Best Buy just as they were opening. Recycled batteries, monitor for Jennifer's old Gateway computer (college) and her Brother word processor from high school.
  • 10:45 a.m. Arrived home. Unloaded booty. Checked messages. Called Atlanta to check in with family. Set up ladder at back of house and cleaned wire covering on smokestack.
  • 11:20 a.m. Moved ladder to front of house. Did touch-up painting of rust spots and streaks on tin roof.
  • 12:00 noon Ate lunch. One PBJ, BBQ corn chips (off brand from Fred's), almonds, a Clementine (small tangerine-type fruit), and one chocolate covered cherry.
  • 12:40 p.m. Moved ladder to garage/storage building. Swept leaves, limbs, and pine straw off. Spread five gallons of roof tar on areas deemed "most likely to leak."
  • 1:20 p.m. Used a generous amount of baby oil to scrub most of tar off of my person. My work clothes were a disaster, but I had one more nasty job to do, so postponed changing.
  • 1:30 Serviced and cranked tiller successfully.
  • 1:45 p.m. Loaded 15 junk tires to take to Eastwood to recycle. Many were from previous owner's junkpile back in the woods but others were part of a massive "tire swing" (with numerous tires held together by a massive rope years ago). Filled the back of my old faithful '73 Mercury Montego wagon (it holds more than many pick-up trucks). It was absolutely necessary to change clothes before going to Eastwood, even though I knew I'd get those clothes dirty unloading the tires.
  • 2:15 p.m. Delivered tires to Eastwood, said "Good riddance" to them, and filled up two gas cans. It's almost time for tilling the garden and cutting grass.
  • 3:00 p.m. Got home about the same time as Judy. We reviewed our equally busy days. I finally got cleaned up-- no small task.
  • 4:00 p.m. Blogged and reminded myself I would have gotten all of these things done back when I was teaching, but they would have taken all my spare time for several days. And there wasn't much "spare" time.

Well, I told you the best was yet to come. Still ahead is dinner with Amanda, Brianna, and Joy. Leaving soon, so that's all for today. More pictures soon!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Blast From the Past

I'm surprised I haven't used that title before. And will Blogspot allow me to use it again? Because I've got lots of ideas to share in the coming months that will be nostalgic to many of my former students. Today I have a skit that I wrote for American Education Week during the 1987-88 school year. Yes, Jennifer, that was the year YOU were in my class. And a very good year it was.

This skit was written as a play. I'm going to present it as such with first names and initials of the characters. That's my feeble attempt at maintaining privacy for the participants. If you can identify them, feel free to contact them and invite them to share the memories. Without further ado, I present. . .

An Interview With the President:
American Education Week
Narrator (Kevin W.): Ladies and Gentlemen-- the President of the United States (Bodyguard-- Bryan H.)
Mr. President (Matthew L.): I am happy to be meeting with you reporters during American Education Week. Who would like to begin the press conference?
Reporter 1: Mr. President, I am Adam Mc. of the Fayetteville Times. What can be done about our problems of crime and unemployment?
Pres.: These are two important problems, Mr. Mc., and they go together closely. First, we must understand that many people turn to crime because they cannot get a good job. They may not be able to get a job because they never got a good education. If we can give all Americans a better education we can solve two problems at once.
Reporter 2: Mr. President, I am Kasey H. of the Charlotte Observer. I have two questions for you. First, how can we keep our country out of war, and second, how can make sure young Americans love their country?
Pres.: Ms H., I feel that to promote a love of our country and peace with other countries, we must turn again to education. By studying history we learn of other countries and understand them better. This, in turn, helps us to live peacefully as neighbors. and I strongly believe that Americans must learn about the great men and women of American History to appreciate the freedoms we enjoy today.
Reporter 3: Mr. President, I am Jennifer L. of the Raleigh News and Observer. What can be done about the problems of pollution and health care?
Pres.: Ms. L., we have learned that people can do much to stop pollution if they know about the problem. They can also do much to stay healthy if they know what to do. In school, boys and girls should work hard in Science, Health, and Physical Education. Through a good education they can learn to take care of our world and keep their own body healthy.
Reporter 4: Mr. President, I am Andrew M. of the Trojan Times. Parents of students at Sandhills Farm Life are worried that they will have trouble filling out their new income tax forms this year. Do you have any suggestions?
Pres.: Yes, I do, Mr. M. They should ask their children for help. The children at Farm Life are getting an excellent Math education and the Internal Revenue Service has assured me they would have no trouble filling out the new tax forms.
In closing this news conference I have a few remarks. I believe that education is what has made America great. America has free, public education for ALL boys and girls. With that education, you can become whatever you want. Our Constitution promises all of us Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. And the best way to make sure those dreams come true is to get yourself a good education. Thank you.
(Exits to applause)
Now isn't that a lot of propaganda? And it's lacking my trademark humor, which means we must have been performing this for an audience of some sort. I don't remember and I doubt if the participants do, either! Well, that's todays "Blast from the Past."
And, by the way, there's NO PRIZE for guessing the characters correctly. But if you go to the trouble to contact me, I'll reserve a free yard sale toy or book for you. Picking it up will be YOUR problem!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"A Dream for All to Share"

Yesterday, our nation celebrated Martin Luther King Day.

You may recall that when this holiday was established there were many voices in opposition to this national holiday. In some cases the reason was personal dislike of King himself. In other cases, I think people still wanted to hide their faces from the ugly past of racism in our country. To them, such a holiday only opened up old wounds or made them face unpleasant truths.

When I taught 3rd grade, I felt it was crucial for our children to know the truth about our nation's past, both the good and the bad. We have much to cherish and to be proud of. But to withhold stories of days of slavery or the Cherokee "Trail of Tears" or the days of racial oppression and segregation denies children the opportunity to find their own moral compass. I found that when children were faced with harsh facts, their hearts were filled with compassion, remorse, and a longing that bad things had never happened. How else could they incorporate into their own value system a determination that these things never happen again?

We've all heard so many times, " Those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them." Just as the Children of Israel were admonished to teach the stories of their captivity and deliverance to each ensuing generation, we should ALL recognize the importance of history as heritage. I would go as far as to say that the teaching of history is the cornerstone to citizenship and preserving our national character.

So I encourage those of us who DO remember
To share history with those who DO NOT.
It is a story often fraught with pain and hurt,
but it is the only story we have, and it needs to be told truthfully.

"Hatred paralyzes life;

love releases it.

Hatred confuses life;

love harmonizes it.

Hatred darkens life;

love illuminates it."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The time is always right

to do what is right."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Power at its best is love

implementing the demands of justice.

Justice at its best

is love correcting everything

that stands against love."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon

which cuts without wounding and ennobles the

man who wields it. It is a sword that heals."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"With this faith, we will be able to hew out

of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

With this faith, we will be able to transform

the jangling discords of our nation into a

beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith, we will be able to work together,

to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail

together, to stand up together, knowing that we

will be free one day."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"We must develop and maintain the capacity

to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive

is devoid of the power to love. There is some good

in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.

When we discover this, we are less prone to

hate our enemies."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Baby Love, Part III

Children Learn What They Live
by Dorothy Law Nolte (
1924 - 2005)

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

(Underlined words are links to the Random Acts of Kindness Homepage)

You're probably familiar with the above selection. The first time I ever saw it was on a small plaque I got at a yard sale. I have since passed it on to a friend, but the words have had a lasting impression on me. In an internet search, I learned that there are actually many variations on Dorothy Nolte's original, but all are filled with wisdom.

This third in my series of "Baby Love" posts has as its theme OUR responsibility as adults to love and nurture the babies and children God has allowed us to be around.

"If children live with security they learn to have faith in themselves and those about them."
"Eency weency spider climbed up the waterspout. . . ."

"If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves."

"If children live with praise, they learn appreciation."

"If children live with sharing, they learn generosity."
We're sharing OUR babies. I cuddle Brianna while Amanda feeds Claire.

"If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence."
"Umm, Aunt Jennifer, did you get us mixed up again?"

"If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live."

"If children live with tolerance, they learn patience."

"If children live with acceptance, they learn to love."

AND to accept crazy relatives for who they are. Like Grandpa.

And Grandma.

And a couple of up-to-date additions:
"If a child lives with a camera, she learns to recognize a good photo op. . .
"and to explore new technologies."