Bindings: Reflections on faith, life, and good books

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Posted 9/1/14 at 1:40 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Happy Labor Day Weekend

Happy Labor Day weekend! By the time I graduated from high school, college, and seminary, I had already had several careers; well at least several part time jobs. My paying jobs included picking cotton, cutting grass, automobile body and paint work, gas station attendant, school custodian and maintenance, warehouse work, guitar teacher, weekend relief houseparent in a children’s home, and church work. I think I heard the call to ministry at about ten - while picking cotton. Well, maybe not but I did decide not to become a cotton picking cotton picker then.

My first job was nonpaying. My Dad was my boss and he informed me that I did get paid. He said my pay included a house to live in, food to eat, and clothes to wear. Dad owned a business where he sold everything from coal to hardware and building supplies. Some of the things I did included shoveling coal and sand, and unloading and loading cement blocks and bricks by hand. I helped stock the shelves with candy, cookies, chips, peanuts, and such. I also helped eat them. Dad used to tell me I was eating up all his profit. I keep the drink box filled. I also helped empty it. Our box was one of those old red Coca-Cola chest type coolers with two lids. You didn’t put money in the box but in our hands. We sold bottled drinks only. I kept it stocked with all kinds of drinks as well as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Those things were good cold plus they didn’t melt in there. We sold several soft drinks that we don’t see much anymore. These included Royal Crown (R.C.), Double Cola, Sunrise Orange, and NuGrape. We sold a new drink called Mountain Dew. There was an older drink by this same name but we didn’t sell, or drink, that kind of mountain dew. I later learned this soft drink had existed for about twenty years but was not widespread until Pepsi bought it and began distribution nationwide. FULL POST

Posted 8/28/14 at 12:27 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

The Essential Back to School List For Parents

The anxiety associated with “Back to School” is many times ascribed only to the kids returning to the classroom or those entering a classroom for the first time. New schools, new clothes, supply lists, new friends and new temptations not only bring about feelings of uncertainty for students but the parents behind the scenes have an enormous stake in this anxiety as well.

With the overwhelming task of preparing children for school there are some parents who see their child’s return to school as a relief because their life can resume and of course their child is safe in school. Right? Fact of the matter is, school-aged children are relatively safe from many problems that lurk in everyday life but it’s the unseen battles that Satan wages that children need to be equipped for and prepared to combat. For our children to be thoroughly equipped for school, parents need to look beyond pencils, paper and backpacks. We need to equip our children with tools provided by God’s Holy Word so that they can they can be lights within their schools and conquer the temptations that they face. It’s as easy as 1,2,3. FULL POST

Posted 8/25/14 at 12:27 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Bubba Caught Himself a Keeper

Billy Bob’s brother, Bubba, knew he had found the love of his life. Her name was Ginger Vitas. Bubba said she was every man’s dream catch. She loved to fish, she was beautiful, and she watched college football. When Bubba realized that she baits her own hook and cleans her own fish, he decided it was time for the big question. He wanted to do something unique for his proposal. He had heard about guys who put their proposal on billboards. He had seen a football player score the winning touchdown then run to mid field and shout to his girl in the stands, “Will you marry me?” Since Ginger loved fishing so much Bubba wanted to pop the question on the river.

He went to Jim’s Gems and bought her the biggest diamond he had ever seen. That ring cost more than his truck. It took him the next five years to pay off that thing on installments. He came up with a plan that he believed to be genius. He would take Ginger fishing. While she wasn’t watching, he planned to tie the ring to the end of a line, cast it out, and then get her to reel it in. Once she had the ring in her hand he planned pop the question. FULL POST

Posted 8/21/14 at 12:12 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Died to Tell About It

My husband and I recently enjoyed the movie, Heaven is for Real, based on a true life account of a four-year-old boy’s near death experience. I’d read the book several years ago and was pleased to see that the movie had isolated the key components of Colton’s heavenly visit.

As Chuck and I rehashed the movie over dinner, we reflected on others over the years who’d shared similar stories. When I was young, a family friend, a Christian woman, died of cancer. However, the doctors revived her. She told us that she saw Jesus. Though she wanted to stay in her heavenly home, He told her she needed to return to her family because her two teen daughters needed her. He would give her six more months. And that’s exactly, to the day, how long she lived.

On another occasion, some friends of ours nursed their son, a ten year old, who eventually lost his battle with cancer. On his deathbed he expressed fear. His father said, “David, you know Jesus. He will take care of you.” A few minutes later, David said, “Daddy, I see Him!” “Who, David? An angel?” his father said. “No, it’s Jesus. He’s coming!” He died shortly thereafter. FULL POST

Posted 8/17/14 at 8:37 PM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

The Fruit of the Vine’s New Poles to Climb

When I was a boy I was a climber. I may have been part cat! I climbed every tree on our place but I also fell out of most of them. Miraculously, while I broke numerous tree limbs I never broke any of my limbs. I hit the ground flat on my stomach so hard once that I knocked the breath out of myself. I frantically tried to holler for help but couldn’t get a sound, or a breath, to come out. As I lay on the ground, dazed and confused about what had happened to me, I’m pretty sure I heard angel bands singing, “Swing low, sweet chariot, coming forth to carry me home.” Much to my amazement, I lived to climb again.

The worse thing I ever scaled was grapevine poles. They only rose about six feet out of the ground so by no means were they the tallest, or the hardest, but they left an impression that caused me to never climb another one. I don’t remember what the grapevine climbed originally but one summer Dad and I built a new fence for it to run on. We dug holes, put posts in the ground, and then we fastened a large strip of wire garden fencing to three poles. Before we fastened the wire to the poles, and long before the grapevine made its way up them, I gave them a climb - all three of them. The problem was that the poles had been treated with creosote. I didn’t realize that meant trouble but before that day ended I had acquired a new education about creosote. FULL POST

Posted 8/13/14 at 1:43 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Why Write a Story?

In my “inspiration” folder, I keep an obituary for Madeleine L’Engle, the author of the children’s classic A Wrinkle in Time and many other stories, some for adults and some for children.

As I reread it, certain bits of the biography in The New York Times, September 8, 2007, catch my attention.

“Her writing transcended genre and generation,” Douglas Martin wrote in the obituary.

The series that included A Wrinkle in Time “combines elements of science fiction with insights into love and moral purpose . . .”

Yes, I think, some of our current literature could use a bit more “love and moral purpose.” FULL POST

Posted 8/10/14 at 11:38 PM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books |

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Comedians Cry Too!

I was saddened to learn that Chonda Pierce’s husband, David, passed away. As a popular Christian comedian known as the “Queen of Clean,” Chonda’s made thousands, perhaps millions, of people laugh over the years.

Now it’s her turn to cry. Yes, cry. Sometimes I think we forget that comedians feel pain, grief, sadness, even depression. Yet Chonda’s been quite open about her dark night of the soul in her book, Laughing in the Dark: A Comedian’s Journey Through Depression.

Truth be told, many professional comedians admit that turning to humor helped them cope with a sad or abusive childhood. But as Proverbs 14:13a says, “Even in laughter the heart may ache” (NIV).

I discovered this phenomenon as a child in school. Invariably, at least one class clown occupied every grade and kept us kids entertained all day long, often disrupting lessons, which only added to our glee. When I would go home after school, Mom, in the kitchen ironing most days, would ask me how my day went. I’d tell her about the fun we had at the expense of the class clown. She’d calmly reply, “You know, Eileen, often the person provoking the most fun is the person with the deepest hurt. He’s laughing on the outside, but on the inside, his heart is crying out for help.” FULL POST

Posted 8/8/14 at 12:31 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Float Like a Dragonfly; Sting Like a Bee

I don’t like to fight but last Friday I got into one; actually two - in the same day. I can’t say that I got the best of either. It was a fist fight, of sorts, and I ended up at the docs with a swollen left hand that looked like one of those inflated latex gloves that pediatric nurses sometimes give to children in hospitals. My knuckles disappeared and eventually I could hardly bend my fingers. The worst part was that I had a concert the next night. Have you ever tried to play stringed instruments with a hand that looked like a small ham hock?

My first fight occurred that morning as I trimmed the hedges in my back yard. I did not realize that a family of hornets had taken up residence there. I suppose they mistook my hedge trimmer for a giant invading wasp from another swarm, perhaps even from another planet, and doped up on steroids. Fortunately for me, the swimming pool was within running distance so I only got hit once in the back of the arm. Those rascals hurt! FULL POST

Posted 8/5/14 at 12:50 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

What It’s Like to Mother Missionaries

My husband, Chuck, and I never prayed that our children would become missionaries. We simply prayed that they would do whatever God wanted them to do, using their unique gifts, talents, and interests to serve Him.

With that backdrop to parenting, we provided an atmosphere in our home that fostered a heart for others, whether next door or around the world. When a new neighbor moved in, we played welcome wagon, showing up on their doorstep with cookies and card in hand. We hosted missionary families during our annual mission conference. Our kids played and studied with the missionary kids and formed ties that last to this day. We prayed with others at pro-life rallies. Each of our girls worked as summer counselors in the Christian camping ministry in which I grew up. During the year, we often visited the sick and lonely, gifting them with our music and crafts. We witnessed to people we met, in their homes, on the street, and in our neighborhood. FULL POST

Posted 7/31/14 at 11:25 PM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

How Do Stories Begin? Where Do You Find Your Ideas?

That’s what people ask writers: Where do your stories come from? Where do you get your ideas? I try to remember how some of mine began. I’m never sure.

The idea for Tender Shadows, perhaps began when I pulled down a book I bought years ago, Permanent Things, edited by Andrew A. Tadie and Michael H. Macdonald. The essayists discussed G.K. Chesterton, T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, and Evelyn Waugh. Perhaps—I say perhaps because I don’t really know—those thoughts may have started a thread that led ultimately to Tender Shadows, in which a woman wonders if she’s traded permanent things for something transitory.

Maybe, as Flannery O’Connor suggested, some stories begin with questions. How are we to live in a digital age surrounded by multitudes of instant tragedies? Kaitlin Sadler in A Sense of Mission wants to know how to cope with a world that is never secure, that she knows from an early age, may turn tragic in the turning of a terrorist’s mind. FULL POST

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