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Blister Makers

I have been annoyed by it for years, then I was just plain frustrated for a while. It was the same problem week after week. I didn’t know what to do about it. It stopped during the pandemic. Now it has started up again. It is a mystery to me. It is a “blister maker” if I am not careful. Someone is not being responsible, and really, someone is just not being kind to me at all. Sounds like I’m starting to take it personally

Someone is throwing their cigarette stubs in my driveway. It used to be three or four times a week. None of our neighbors smoke, yet a cigarette stub lands in my driveway or front yard a couple of times a week.  My neighbors do not have this problem. We live in the middle of the block. Our street is so wide that there is a median designed to hold twelve parked cars in front of our house. And none of our neighbors host that many parties. I have drawn up a very short suspect list: the mail carrier, the newspaper carrier, or the UPS guy. One other possibility would be someone who might regularly walk around the neighborhood. Most people who are walking for exercise do not smoke while walking and the newspaper carrier never stops when throwing the paper. I am down to the mail carrier or the UPS guy. The UPS guy changes all the time, so now I am left with the mailman. Does he always light his cigarette at the same place, at the same moment so that he is always ready to throw it away at my house? Doesn’t seem likely. I’ve never seen him smoking. Ever. The mystery deepens. 

If I can’t fix it, change it, or confront the culprit, all I can do is face it, deal with it, and wait for the culprit to change. Waiting for someone else to change so my life will be better means I have to change my attitude. If I don’t, it could become the little burr that makes a blister that becomes infected and cripples my walk and makes me sick. Anger and grudges are tricky like that. The only way to stop the blister is to remove the burr. How do I remove the burr? I must stop waiting for someone else to change, but rather check the condition of my own heart when these aggravations occur.

  Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Check for burrs.  And let’s experience the love and power of God together. 

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The Lady Houdini

During one of our adventures at the Tulsa State Fair a dozen years ago, we stopped by to see the magic show of Ridgeway and Johnson.  This husband-and-wife team have become world famous for their large and dangerous illusions.  While Kevin Ridgeway is the master magician and showman, his wife, Kristen Johnson, is the star of the show. He waves the sharp blades around; she gets in the box that is sliced down to a small cube then pierced through with five swords. She gets out of the box unharmed. She is hung upside down by her feet, while strapped into a straitjacket, like Harry Houdini. She wriggles out of the straitjacket and repels down to the floor.

Best known for her underwater escapes, Kristen has become The Lady Houdini. Draped with locked chains, handcuffed with her feet shackled, she lowers herself into a glass tank of water, which is also locked on top. Holding her breath in full view of the audience she proceeds to try to pick the seven locks and escape. Watching her do this takes your breath away. As a former Christian magician, I know some of the science behind the dangerous illusions, but Kristen still must hold her breath underwater for about three and a half minutes while picking the locks. That is not an illusion. Their timing must be perfect. Their trust in each other must be absolute. But most of all they need to love what they do and do what they love. She has nearly died in that tank of water on three occasions. 

They were almost killed in 2017 by a distracted (texting) driver. She had broken ribs and a punctured lung. Kevin was severely injured and in a coma for five weeks before slowly healing from his surgeries, accompanied by months of physical therapy. They then chose to resume their career. At the end of July this year, Kristen fell nearly 30 feet while descending from her straitjacket performance breaking a leg and her wrist. This week, if all goes well, surgeons will remove the three plates, 16 screws and the rod in her wrist. They persevere and feel blessed.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Keep on keeping on. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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The Queen’s Funerals

The first of Queen Elizabeth’s funerals was held in St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. I watched the whole service and was grateful I was not officiating. One of the historic ministers of the church was John Knox, leader of the Scottish Reformed Church (Presbyterian.) The service was a simple and traditional Christian funeral with familiar Scriptures and music, and a brief message. The second funeral was in St. Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The state funeral will be at Westminster Abby in London, then on to Windsor Castle and St. George’s Chapel for the Committal Service. The Queen regularly attended these churches, and faith played a significant role in her daily life. Her death also marks a new beginning.

The new King Charles and I share the same birthday, but in different years. He has been “next-in-line” for 70 years, becoming the oldest person to ascend to the throne. We have not lived parallel lives.  I’m sometimes asked “How many people have you married?” I have learned not to give the right answer unless I really know the person asking the question. The right answer, of course, is one, but most people seem confused or slightly miffed at that answer. What they are asking is how many weddings have I officiated. That is a harder number to say.  The first wedding I ever performed was for my younger sister, Denise, in June of 1969. She and Bubba were married 36 years until his death in 2005. The hardest were the ones where I was also the father of the bride. With just a general sense of the weddings through the years, I have officiated around 250. Weddings mark a new beginning.

I have a more accurate number of the funerals. The very first funeral, where I was assisting, was in 1966 for an 18-month-old boy. He had gotten behind his 18-year-old uncle’s car. It is still one of the saddest funerals I have ever witnessed. Over the years I have saved notes and materials from most of the services. I have probably misplaced several of the services, but reviewing these notes, I have saved the stories of around 500 people who have touched and shaped my life through the years. 

Weddings and funerals are beginnings and endings. The people involved move from life before the wedding, or funeral, to the beginning of all that lies ahead. Endings and beginnings are rarely easy, no matter how many funerals may be involved.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Celebrate it all. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Ike’s Chili

When the recent cold snap suddenly dropped the temperatures into the lower 80’s, I decided that would be a good day to get some chili for lunch. I drove down old Route 66 (11th Street) west toward downtown, looking for the new home for Ike’s Chili. I had been there once in the before times.  After passing through the massive construction zone at Lewis Avenue, I found myself entering a nearly unrecognizable stretch just past Utica. The construction there was creating new stores, restaurants, and touristy-type businesses. I was so disoriented by it all, I missed Ike’s altogether and had to go way out of the way to get back to where I was headed. After parking in back, I noticed Ike’s was preparing for a celebration.

The posters were inviting everyone to their Anniversary Party and Cruise, which seemed a little much for a place that serves bowls of chili. Ike’s is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Tulsa. September 10th will mark 114 years. There will be a big party on Saturday, including an invitation to “cruise” Route 66. Ike Johnson, who died in 1928, started his “chili parlor” in 1908 at 2nd and Boston. I was most familiar with the location on Admiral towards Sheridan, where it stood from 1966-2014. The current menu has a copy of the Tulsa World article from 1936, which tells the backstory. Included is a story of the time entertainer Will Rogers got to Ike’s too late—everyone had gone home. From its beginning Ike’s customers regularly included some of the most prominent people in Tulsa—unusual for a place that basically serves chili and hot dogs. Million-dollar deals have been brokered by people sitting at the counter on bar stools trying to keep the chili off their ties. Ike would be surprised that a regular bowl of chili now costs nearly $8.00, and a coney the same. I ordered my favorite—three-way chili and a coney. More than enough for anyone. Of course, when I stepped back outside after lunch, the weather was a humid 92˚.

Ike Johnson stuck with a good thing, and so have four generations in his family.  Anyone from any station in life is welcome to sit down for a simple meal, have a good conversation with a friend or stranger, and continue their day, satisfied and full. That is worth celebrating.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Celebrate the simple things. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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You Can Know God

I have written before about the power of a daily devotional time. Today I wanted to share with you a quote from Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz. The following was originally written in her book, Just Give Me Jesus. She developed a 365-day devotional book called The Joy of My Heart, where she excerpts passages from each of her books. This one spoke to me this week.

If Adam knew God as a beloved Father,

if Eve knew Him as the original Homemaker,

if Noah knew Him as the Refuge from the storm,

if Abraham knew Him as a Friend,

if Moses knew Him as the Redeemer,

if Rahab knew Him as the gracious Savior,

if David knew Him as his Shepherd,

if Elijah knew Him as the Almighty,

if Daniel knew Him as the Lion Tamer,

if Mary Magdalene knew Him as the Bondage Breaker,

if Martha knew Him as the Promise Keeper,

if Lazarus knew Him as the Resurrection and the Life,

if Bartimaeus knew Him as the Light of the World,

if John knew Him as the glorious King upon the throne,

surely you and I can know Him too!

You will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him

if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Deuteronomy 4:29 NKJV

Copyright by Anne Graham Lotz

This is simple, direct, and true. Thank you, Anne Graham Lotz, for reminding me that each of us can know God in a way that transforms us.  All of us have a friend that needs to hear this message. 

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Share the promise of God’s grace. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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