Bindings: Reflections on faith, life, and good books

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Posted 9/15/14 at 12:07 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

You Are All My Reasons

One of my favorite movies is A Beautiful Mind based on the real life story of John Nash, mathematics professor, 1994 Nobel Memorial prize recipient in economics, and schizophrenic. Though reportedly Hollywood’s account is a skewed version of biographers, I enjoyed the film primarily for one element: his wife’s devotion to him even in his darkest moments, especially in his darkest moments. While the real story ends in divorce, the movie version shows a devoted husband and wife, working out the serious ramifications of mental illness. When Nash, now an old man, accepts his prize at the podium, he scans the audience. His eyes rest on his wife, Alicia, and he delivers the closing line of his address. “You are all my reasons.” Meaning, she was the one who ultimately kept him going when all else failed, even medication.

I love that line. I love the portrayal of marital commitment. It spurs me on to be a better wife to Chuck. But as much as I love my husband, the line impacts me for a more compelling reason. FULL POST

Posted 9/10/14 at 1:03 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Do You Know Jesus?

One generation will commend your works to another;

They will tell of your mighty acts.

Psalm 145:4

Granddaughter Rebekah pulled a German doll from my old trunk. “Tell me the story behind this doll, Grandma.”

I gladly obliged.

You see the doll had been sent to me by my Uncle Charles, a chaplain who served in the Army for twenty years. He and his family traveled the world but spent most of their military career in Germany. Wherever they went, they always gifted their nieces with meaningful mementos.

On that sunny summer day, I shared with Rebekah that my Uncle Charles was a man who loved Jesus with all his heart. One question freely left his lips, no matter who he met: Do you know Jesus?

One day as a young husband, Uncle Charles walked outside and noticed a teenager standing at a street corner. Sure enough, he strolled over and asked the boy if he knew Jesus. The teen said he’d tried some churches, but didn’t really understand the question. Uncle Charles shared how a holy God left heaven in the form of a baby, grew up, and died on the cross to pay for our sin. He then rose from the grave to give us eternal life. The teen had never heard such news. Convicted by the Holy Spirit of his need for Jesus, the boy accepted Christ as his Savior and Lord right then and there. FULL POST

Posted 9/8/14 at 1:17 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Pay it Forward – I Think

Recently David, a friend of mine, went through a fast food drive-through to get himself a chocolate milkshake. As he sat at the window he glanced up in his rear view mirror and noticed someone he knew in the car behind him. He didn’t think she had seen him so he decided, for no particular reason, to help her have a good day. He told the cashier, “I want to pay for my shake and for whatever the person in the car behind me ordered.” The young man in the window said, “That will be $43.89!” David’s first thought was, “Man she must really be hungry!” He wondered if she had ordered a couple of filet mignons but he knew the fast food place didn’t sell them. Then he said to himself, “Now what are you going to do, Mr. Do-Gooder?” Several possibilities ran through his mind. He hoped that perhaps, maybe, possibly, prayerfully, he had misunderstood the amount. With a quivering voice that sounded like that of a pimply faced young man going through puberty he asked, “How much did you say?” The answer remained the same. David was embarrassed to back-peddle on his offer. He looked inside his wallet and saw a ten and a couple of ones. He managed a half-hearted smile as he handed the young man in the window his debit card. As he pulled away he looked up in his rear view mirror again. He saw the lady smile from ear to ear as she waved at him. He sheepishly waved back. David slowly savored every single sip of that milkshake as he tried to make it last as long as possible. When he heard the straw gurgle against the bottom of the empty cup he mumbled to himself “That may have been the best milkshake I’ve ever tasted in my entire life. At almost forty four dollars it should have been!” FULL POST

Posted 9/4/14 at 1:48 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Service: The Rent We Pay for Living

The speaker at this graduation stressed paying back more than your student loan:

“When I was growing up, service was as essential a part of my upbringing as eating and sleeping and going to school and to church. I was taught that service is the rent that each of us pays for living, the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time or after you’ve reached your personal goals.”

–Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund; Seattle Pacific University, June 14, 2014

Daughter of a Baptist preacher in Bennettsville, South Carolina, Ms. Edelman says her parents modeled a Christ-likeness throughout her childhood. Anyone in need was a neighbor.

In her adult life, Ms. Edelman has been a voice for the nation’s children. According to an article in Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, she has supported programs to prevent childhood abuse and teen pregnancy, advocated for enrichment programs that encourage a love of reading, and engaged political leaders to support health care, early education, and increased aid for low-income families. FULL POST

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

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