Thursday, January 28, 2016

Look-Alikes

My brother noticed it first. I was a little skeptical when he mentioned it. Then I watched To Kill a Mockingbird  last night, and it's true!  My husband does look like Gregory Peck! I couldn't take my eyes off the actor as I noted the resemblance, especially so when Howard was  younger.  The black hair, the chin, the eyebrows and especially, the  dark-rimmed glasses! Also, the summer suit Peck wore was similar to Howard's seersucker suits he favors in warm weather.

Atticus, Peck's character, was portrayed as an upright, fair man of high principles.  The same can be said of my husband.  I don't know much about the actor's actual life, but I don't recall reading or hearing anything negative.

They say everyone  has a double somewhere.  Not that Howard is the movie star's double, but it was an interesting and flattering comparison, nonetheless. If I know my husband, though, the only image he would want to reflect is Jesus.

"Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour," Ephesians 5:1-2.

 As Christians, the Bible says we are to spread the knowledge and "sweet smell" of Him in every place, something I see Howard do daily. "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish," 11 Corinthians 2:14-15.

I remember reading something a survivor of the Twin Towers of 9/11 wrote.  He said as he was descending  the stairs to escape the building, he met a fireman coming up.  The fireman carried a heavy coil of water hose on his back as he ascended the stairs. Their eyes met, and the man noticed an undefinable quality in the fireman's eyes.  Later, after the explosion that took the lives of the firemen and so many others, the grateful survivor said he knew it had been Jesus he had seen in the eyes of the fireman that day.

My husband has his Father's eyes.


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Friday, January 22, 2016

Free of Charge

I've been liberated!  I no longer save left-overs! No more saving stale cookies, chips or crackers in zip-lock bags! And I no longer feed the garbage disposal!  Now everything goes into a container for the pigs!  How they love those left-overs!  Everything from baked sweet potato skins to salad leavings, broccoli stems and cooked cabbage goes into their pot.  They especially love macaroni and cheese and ramen noodles. The only thing I can't feed them is pork (after all, I don't want them to be cannibalistic)!

My refrigerator is cleaner and my shelves are neater without saved items to use "just in case." And I am not wasting food, I'm investing it!  Perhaps those pink porkers will become bacon for our table!  But probably not.  If my husband has his way, they will reproduce and become saleable stock for the market. Right now they are just fun to watch and an investment in my husband's contentment and satisfaction as he sees them grow.

Yesterday we were about to enter the grocery store, clutching our wraps about us against the frigid gusts of winter wind.  "I'm not going to get a basket," Howard said, since we were only picking up a couple of items and getting a cart was a hassle, what with finding and inserting a quarter, then returning it later.

Suddenly a car swept up to the curb and the door on the passenger side flew open.  An elderly woman practically tumbled out as she cried, "Could you get me a cart?  My legs are  not strong and it's hard for me."  She was holding out a quarter.  Of course,  Howard cheerfully got  her a cart, even though he didn't get one for us. He joked amiably about the weather as she gratefully balanced herself against the cart.

Just before that, we had noticed a bare-armed, quite large lady returning a cart then meeting us as we walked up to the store,  "Young lady, you'd better get a coat on!" my jovial husband exclaimed, to which the flustered lady said something and laughed in delight. The unaccustomed cold spell seemed to release a note of conviviality among the shoppers.

The tidbits I toss out for the pigs may be unimportant to me, but they are very important to the pigs!  And they are part of our investment in their happinesss and well-being.  The small kindnesses and courtesies we may show to people do not cost us anything except a moment of thoughtfulness, but they may mean a lot to someone who might be feeling alone and insignificant.  They are often a bright note of cheer that may lighten their mood, if only for a few minutes.

"Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it." Proverbs 3:27.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Hidden Treasure

"Howard," I wailed to my husband, "I think I must  have left  my new gloves at the hotel where we stayed on our trip!"  I could only come to that conclusion, since I had searched high and low for the lovely gloves our daughter Amy had given me for Christmas!  They weren't in any coat pocket, drawer, purse, car or anywhere else I could think of.  I was heartsick, not only because I needed and wanted the gloves, but I was sure they were expensive!

I hadn't told Amy about my disappointment, not wanting her to think I was careless of her thoughtful gift.  Finally putting the missing gloves out of my mind, I bought a cheap little pair that were okay, but not the plush, warm gloves that had felt so delicious on my hands when I had tried them on.

The weather was warm while were in Georgia and Tennesee, so I  hadn't worn them, but I remembered taking them out and looking at them while staying overnight in Arkansas.  Howard had even called the place where we stayed, and they said they would check with Housekeeping, but no gloves had been turned in.  Probably kept them, I thought uncharitably.

A bitter cold front had come in Sunday, and I dressed in my warmest outfit for church, a black sweater and tweed skirt with black boots.  I opened the lid on the top portion of my jewelry cabinet to retrieve a red-beaded necklace I wanted to wear.  My eyes were stunned for a second as there, beside a small bag of accessories I had placed there after our trip, were my lost gloves!  I must have put them there in the disarray of unpacking!  I quickly put them on, and they looked positively sophisticated with my red jacket!  Thank you, Lord!

Later that morning the pastor was preaching about drawing closer to God, referencing Paul's words in Philippians 3:12,14: "Not as though I had  already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if I  may apprehend that for which I am  apprehended of Christ Jesus. (14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

It reminded me of the Bible being a treasure chest, where jewels of wisdom and faith are discovered by studying and meditating on His rich words and truths as we press on in Christian growth.  And like my jewelry chest, where I was surprised with a happy discovery, we often find things that are particularly meaningful and precious to us!

My jewelry cabinet has nothing of real value in it, just costume jewelry and beads I have collected over the years, but we ourselves are jewels of God as we think upon and talk of Him. "Then they that feared the Lord spake often to one another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and thought upon his name.

And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." Malachi 3:16-17.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

All Creatures Great and Small

I hadn't been out to the farm in a few days, but we had collected a bucket of leftover scraps for the little pigs, so I went along with my husband on his daily pleasure excursion to check on the animals. It was cold, so at first I sat in the car as Howard and our son Greg fed and admired their motley crew.  Soon I had to admit that the whole vignette was quite fetching.

The little pink pigs ran about, looking for all the world like Wilbur in Charlotte's Web. They had come out of their cozy quarters and eagerly devoured their food, and now they were happily rooting in the soft earth they were rapidly turning into a mud bog. With their cheerful, dirty faces, the mud-streaked little porkers reminded me of children playing in the mud!

My gaze went to the two goats in their corral.  Their winter coats were absolutely dazzling, having grown full and luxurious with the coming of winter.  Especially the male goat, long black hair glistening in the sun against the white of the rest of his coat.  His sire was from the high mountains of Mexico, a magnificent, if somewhat forbidding animal with his dagger-like horns.  Hopefully our goat will take after his domestic mother, also the mother of our female goat whose white coat, with splotches of brown, was reminiscent of an expensive cow-hide rug.

The goats frolicked  up and down a ramp the guys had made, then reared up on the fence as if looking for admiration.  Once in a while the red rooster wandered too close to them, and they would make a threatening dash toward him as he scurried to safety in a flash of flapping wings.

The chickens had been released from their quarters for scratching and foraging in the barnyard.  They pecked and strolled contentedly, and I couldn't help noticing what beautiful birds they had become.  From the little mail-order balls of brown fluff that had gotten their start in a basket in our house, they had become these shiny, gold-streaked, sleek fowl, holding their own with the big kids (no pun intended!).

Best of all was the farmer wanna-be slouched against the fence eyeing the creatures appreciatively.  I had to go and join him for a closer look.  I thought of the words from a song, "All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all." And of the scripture, And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good," Genesis 1:31.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Fountain of Youth

My husband received a special Christmas present from our granddaughter Bethany when we were in Tennessee over the holidays.  It was a volume of 300 hymns and their history!  He was ecstatic, but now I think I love it as much as he does!

I was reading the hymn-story of one of Fanny Crosby's songs, of which she  has written an amazing 3,500!  An ever-youthful soul by all reports, I liked what she said in her later years: "It means nothing to be eighty-four years of age, because I am still young! What is the use of growing old? People grow old because they are not cheerful, and cheerfulness is one of the greatest accomplishments in the world!"

Well, I'm all for cheerfulness, but it may be something I need to work on!  I was cheered yesterday, though, by a purchase we made. Ever since we moved here eight years ago, we have bought bottled water.  We just don't like the taste of the tap water here. Then a Facebook post by a resourceful niece, excited about a faucet water filtering device she had bought, prompted us to get one!

Why didn't we do this years ago!  The difference is amazing! I read on the enclosed brochure the many particles and substances filtered out for safety and improved taste. This morning I drank some of the filtered water, then tried a sip of tap water for comparison. Ugh! I quickly drank the other water that was so refreshing!

I thought of the story in the Bible when Jesus was offering the woman at the well living water.  His Living Water offered life as she had never known it!  She could be through with a lifestyle polluted with the carcinogens of sin, misery and futility, plus the poison of worthlessness and hopelessness. His refreshing Water gushed through her soul.  Overflowing with the vitality coursing within, she couldn't wait to bring others to Jesus!

"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst,  let him come unto me, and drink, He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water," John 7:37-38.

Jesus said this at the Feast of Tabernacles, when the Jews carried water from the Pool of Siloam to pour into a basin at the altar of burnt offering. They did this every day for seven days.  Then on the eighth day, Jesus made this proclamation of  the offer of eternal life!

(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) John 7:39.

The best way I know to stay young!  He is the Fountain of Youth!







Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year!

At the close of our New Year's prayer meeting, our pastor said, "Now I would like all of you to come forward and we'll have a time of prayer for each other." He asked that all who needed prayer sit along the altar while others stood to pray for them, then switch places and pray for those who had prayed!

Howard and I were among those who went forward, and a compassionate stranger prayed for our needs. Then he gave his requests which we prayed for. In conversation, the man mentioned he had been a pastor at a small town nearby several years ago. Howard recalled that we had visited that church. Then memories began to coalesce in my brain, and I said to the former pastor, "Oh, I remember you! You wore a back brace!" Howard had said he'd had the pulpit that morning, which I hadn't remembered, but then I said, "That's why Howard preached, because you had hurt your back!"

I don't think the brother recalled our visit, but he introduced us to his wife, whom Howard remembered as being a fabulous pianist, and they reminisced about the music. In his reflections, Howard told that his brother had held a revival at that church in the early fifties.  He laughed about how the neighbors hadn't appreciated the enthusiastic music and praise and had retaliated by throwing eggs, plastering the outside of the church building!

That must have been the revival (but not the same night) my mother and I, new to our church, had attended with someone who offered us a ride. I was 13 years old.  I hadn't yet met Howard, but we loved to hear his brother Delmar, a fiery young evangelist, preach! (A friend had said that this preacher had a cute brother who was her boyfriend!  Well, he married me!)  

What a wonderful way to start the new year! Prayers, fellowship and reminiscing!  This morning at breakfast my husband remarked on a beautiful star he had seen during the night. That brought to mind the song, Beautiful Star of Bethlehem.  "Do you remember when you first heard that song and wished aloud in front of the Sunday School class you were teaching that you had the words?"

"Yes," Howard said, "and the lady on the front row said, 'I have that song in my purse!'" How often God grants our wants in surprising ways! Howard reminded me that just yesterday he was wishing for a couple of pigs at a price he could afford.  "Then I saw some in the paper at almost exactly the price I  had in mind!" I knew the rest of the story. They are now at the farm  in a pigpen hastily prepared by him and our son! Happy New Year!



 

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Real Thing!

My husband loves telling the story that has the statistics of the number of people in the world who have heard of, seen, or tasted Coke.  Then he compares it to the number of people who have heard the name of Jesus.  Sadly, far more people have heard of Coke than have heard of Jesus.

He even did one of his ministry videos on this subject, opening by singing the song, I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke.  This leads into the metamorphosis of the song to I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing, which has an almost-spiritual connotation with the Christian version, "He's the Real Thing," substituted for "It's the real thing."  Howard brings it all together in an evangelistic message.

While we were visiting in Georgia for Christmas, we passed Christmas Eve day exploring the shops in a quaint section of the town where our daughter Amy lives.  My music-loving husband and son Greg gravitated toward a music store where I knew they would spend time strumming guitars.  I opted to go to the drugstore next door.

When I got inside, I was overwhelmed by the plethora of Coke-related products they had!  Signs, ads, Santa Claus drinking Coke, and almost every slogan they'd ever used covering wall d├ęcor, beverage glasses and other souvenir items. Howard would love this!, I thought.  Then I spotted the perfect thing to give him for Christmas.  On a whim I bought a rectangular, wooden sign emblazoned with the Coke trademark and the words, I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke, painted in bright red letters.

Checking out at the store counter, I remarked about their many Coca-Cola themed items.  The clerk said, "Yes! Did you notice the painted wall outside?" Of course I had, we'd even had our picture taken in front of it on a previous visit.  The whole drugstore brick wall was meticulously painted in trade-mark red featuring the Santa Claus logo.  "This is the first outside ad Coke ever allowed," she explained. 

Howard's response when he unwrapped the little gift Christmas morning was priceless!  His surprised guffaw of delight made my day. "Where did you get this?" he marveled. I showed him the print on the drugstore bag verifying the store's unique status.  He got a kick out of that, too. 

A few days later we were in Tennessee seeing our daughter Julie's family.   Howard was asked to preach at their church, and at the end of an anointed message, he challenged the people with the comparison statistics about Coke.  I feel sure no one left without the conviction that "He's the Real Thing!" Jesus!