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Armored and Ready

A few years ago, I wandered around the Army Navy surplus store looking for a good deal on something. I was open to what that might be. They tried to interest me in some body armor—a bullet-proof vest. It was camouflaged with multiple pockets and places to attach my survival gear. Wearing that vest, they told me, I could face down the bad guys when all the bad stuff starts to happen. What stuff? You know robbers, looters, zombies, that kind of stuff. Here, try it on. It’s only $140.00 and like new. I looked it over. They were right. I did not see any bullet holes anywhere on it. Of course, this particular vest must have been worn by someone much bigger and in better shape than I ever was. It was not a good look for me.

The experience quickly brought to mind David, when he volunteered to challenge the giant Goliath in a death match. Everyone stopped laughing when they realized David was deadly serious. The well-intentioned king decided that David needed to wear the best armor available, so David put on the king’s armor. It is too much, too big and too heavy. “David tried walking around, because he was not used to them. …I cannot go in these. . . So he took them off.” (1 Samuel 17) David used his own armor: faith in God, a slingshot, a stone and a plan. I also remembered the story’s lesson, be true to who you are; do not wear someone else’s armor. 

Lately, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect facemask. I have discovered two that seem to work best, the blue medical one and a double layered washable black one with a long shoelace type cord that goes over my ears and around my neck. That means it can hang at my neck when I take it off. It can also serve as a stylish bib. 

God provides the custom-fitting armor that each of us need for the spiritual battles that we face every day. “Put on the whole armor of God,” admonishes Paul in Ephesians chapter 6. Hiding behind someone else’s armor will never work. Face the day ready to meet the test with the grace and strength of God’s love and power. With all the bad stuff we face each day, armor up, do not be afraid, for our God is with us.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Wear your own armor. And let’s experience the love and power of God together while apart.

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Flying Cars and Imagination

Summer is the time to imagine the future. I was promised there would be flying cars by now. I do not exactly remember who made that promise. What a difference a flying car would have made for how we might have spent this summer of confinement. Then there was the imagination of Oklahoman Chester Gould, who in 1946 equipped comic strip detective Dick Tracy with a telephone watch with a tv screen. There was this implied promise that technology would make our life more comfortable and convenient. The original Back to The Future movie was released to theaters 35 years ago this summer. In the movie sequel the story ended up in 2015, which promised flying skateboards, hoverboards, if you will. Of the three, we got the watch, which is probably the most practical of the promises.

Sitting on the porch in the summertime brings out the smiles, the memories, and the imagination. We lost more than we realized when suburban architects moved the front porch to the backyard, and then installed “privacy” fences. Part of the joy of the front porch was watching the neighborhood come to life before your very eyes, waving at friends and seeing the children at play. Porch-time is good for the soul. Sit on the porch during a summer rain and feel the world change. Witness the cleverness of a squirrel raiding the bird feeder. Taste the luxuriousness of a fresh ripe peach or a homegrown tomato. Watch the fledgling sparrows learn how to fly. With a glass of iced tea at hand, read a Bible story, sing softly of God’s love, listen to all creation praise His name. Imagine the impossible, dream the incredible and relax in peace and grace. It is perfectly acceptable to relax into a nap or become inspired to write out a few new ideas. Do not wait for flying cars, or even self-driving cars, to make your life better. Enjoy the best life there is today. The only promise of tomorrow that we can count on is that God will be with us whatever tomorrow may hold. I recommend reading all of Psalm 118 today. Flying cars are not mentioned, but the image of an open gate for us to walk (or run?) through stirs a holy imagination in us.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Enjoy the porch. Let’s experience the love and power of God together while apart.

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Fifty Years

I remember when people who celebrated 50th Wedding Anniversaries were old. A little history if you will. Dorothy and I first met in Ft. Worth at Papa’s Pizza Parlor. We were at a Sunday night after-church event. Dorothy introduced herself to me and invited me to church. I teased her that I had been a member of the church for months, and that I taught a 5th Grade Boys Sunday School class. That was in March of 1970. We went on our first date April 10. Over the Memorial Day weekend, we drove non-stop to Atlanta so she could meet my family. She flew back to Ft. Worth while I stayed with family a few more days. I proposed marriage and gave her a ring on June 3. Some smiled and thought we were crazy. There was a blur of events, and we were married on August 1, 1970. Dorothy’s brother Ray officiated, and my father stood as Best Man. 

We have been living through the memories of our courtship as these days of much togetherness have unfolded. Today we uncovered the menu-sized sing-along sheets that Papa’s Pizza Parlor used for their guests’ entertainment. We have rummaged through the picture albums, wedding books and boxes of keepsakes. We had planned for a different celebration, on a beach in Florida with a family party/reunion. This unanticipated plan has turned out to be richer, deeper and quieter. The beach will wait for us to get there, maybe next year. 

There was a blur of events and now fifty years of marriage has arrived. The actual definition of history is not just about events of the past. History is what we do today, and the day after that, to make a better future, which will become the past. Our story was born in much prayer and guidance of the Spirit. With imperfections abounding, we have sought to honor God first in our relationship with expressed affection, love, and forgiveness. Agreement on the things in life that really matter. Disagreement with respect, not hostility or ugliness. Learning to laugh, cry and be flexible.  Absolute trust and integrity with each other, and more forgiveness and love. The passage that has guided Dorothy and me the most is Proverbs 3:1-12. We know we are blessed beyond all measure. Thank you for your part in our story.  

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. We are not old yet. Let’s experience the love and power of God together while apart.

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Betty Crocker

One of my personal goals through this time of  COVID-19 has been to not gain 50 pounds. Dorothy is an excellent cook. I am the designated grocery shopper since March. She has yet to go into a grocery store, which is a fair trade for all the good food she has prepared. Cooking three  meals a day for seemingly endless days became an enjoyable challenge for her, for a while. After a few weeks she decided that she wanted to do more with her days than figure out what to fix and eat three times a day. She cautiously went back to work two days per week. She implied that it might be helpful if I participated a little more fully in the meal preparation. Take out it is—now two or three times a week. 

I read recently about the Betty Crocker Cookbook making a comeback during these uncomfortable times. Chances are you are acquainted with the Big Red cookbook from your earliest days. While Betty Crocker has been the “face” of General Mills since the 1920’s, the cookbook with her name was first published in 1950. In that post-depression, post-war era, no one went out to dinner much at all. In fact, in those days one-third of a household income went to groceries. The genius of the cookbook was found in its explanation of how to prepare even the most complicated recipes in simple words and pictures. Comfort food found its glory in Betty Crocker. Dorothy got her first Betty Crocker cookbook while she was in junior high school. It was the big, bulky loose-leaf edition. We still have it, though it has been put away for safe keeping. 

I have managed to keep my weight the same through these days. Dorothy always cooks healthy, with lots of fruit, salads, and vegetables. Smaller servings of heavier meals does the trick and gives us left-overs to enjoy it all longer. Eating at home is healthier than eating out all the time. It has given us time to grow some cherry tomatoes and have a cucumber patch, which are now available for our salads. Are you staying healthy through these times? Or are you finding yourself standing at the refrigerator 20 times a day? Are you outside daily—walking, working in the yard, or feeding the birds? 

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Take care of yourself. And let’s experience the love and power of God together while apart.

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