Bindings: Reflections on faith, life, and good books

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Posted 4/24/14 at 1:10 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

I Can - I Just Don’t Always Know I Can

We’ve probably all done those kinds of things. You know, the things that cause us to bang the palm of our hand against our forehead and utter out-loud “Stupid, stupid, stupid.” It is self analysis of our own previously performed inane actions. That particular morning I was already running late. I had to take my grandson to daycare and then get to the office in time for an early morning meeting. It was winter time and bitterly cold that morning. Of course, this year that could be late April. The other day someone said they had been singing, “I’m Dreaming of a White Easter.”

Anyway, I had gone out to warm up my truck before we headed out. I went back into the house for one final cup of coffee and another episode of Thomas the Train. I bundled Drew up in his warm winter coat and hat and we headed for the rear passenger side of the truck where his car seat was located. I pulled on the door handle and immediately had that sick in the pit of my stomach feeling. My first thought and hope was that the passenger doors were locked but the driver’s door was not. My first thought was incorrect and my hope melted like an Alabama snow. There I stood in the freezing cold, with my then three year old grandson, locked out of my truck. I told Drew I would take him back inside the house while I figured out what to do but guess what. You are a good guesser, aren’t you? I had indeed locked the house door behind me and you already know where that key was too. Once upon a time, long, long ago, I had a spare house key hidden outside for such occasions. Unfortunately, on the last such occasion the spare key had not made its way back to its hiding place. FULL POST

Posted 4/20/14 at 10:40 PM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Coconut Cake and the Cross

I enjoy when someone does something nice by giving me something – usually. Occasionally someone has offered me a gift that I didn’t exactly want to accept. I pastored a church once located directly in front of a series of duplex apartments. Several church members lived in that complex so after having visited there numerous times through the years I came to know most of the residents. Some of them were quite colorful characters.

There was Ms. Virgie. She kept a rubber snake in the corner of her living room to “scare away mice.” Across the lawn from her apartment lived Mr. Daniels. He became a Christian and joined our church at the tender age of eighty. Between the two of them lived Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones did not attend our church but almost every time he saw me visiting in the neighborhood he came to visit me. He lived by himself and cooked his own meals. Since he lived alone he often cooked more than he needed so he graciously shared with his neighbors. Many of them said he was a pretty good cook. Periodically he brought me some of his leftovers. I always tried to be gracious but there was one small matter that bothered me. Mr. Jones didn’t appear to be the cleanest fellow I had met. My biggest problem was his love of snuff; the old style powdered tobacco in a can. Mr. Jones dipped, dripped, and drooled. He usually had a good three or four day growth of beard. His whiskers were shiny white except below the corners of his snuff filled lower lip. More than once, I witnessed him wipe snuff from his chin with his bare hand.

One day while I visited Mr. Daniels, Mr. Jones came to see me. With a fresh lip full of snuff he said, “Preacha, do you like coconut cake?” Without giving his question proper thought I answered, “Oh yes sir, I love coconut cake.” He grinned and said, “Well you sit right tight. I just baked a fresh one this morning and I’ll be back in a second.” I nervously protested with a “No that’s not necessary.” I watched as he headed out the door. A few minutes later he returned with my cake – resting directly in the palm of his hand. He placed it my hand and said “Here you go Preacha, I cut you a big ole piece!” As graciously and sincerely as I could I said, “Thank you Mr. Jones. I’m not hungry now so I will take this home with me.” I did exactly what I said; I took it home with me. My golden retriever couldn’t have cared less if that big piece of sweet coconut cake was clean or not. She swallowed the whole thing in one gulp. FULL POST

Posted 4/16/14 at 11:43 PM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Failure; a Child's Path to Success

The day we decided children couldn’t be allowed to fail is the day we determined they would not learn how to succeed. It is a natural inclination for all parents to want to protect their children. We hate to see them experience hurt, heartache and disappointment. Protection is part of our job, but when we insulate them from all setbacks we are shortchanging them in life. We are giving them less than our best.

Inventor Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” The holder of 1,093 patents Edison brought us the light bulb, the phonograph, the nickel-iron battery and the motion camera. His story tells us he failed countless times before he finally achieved success on every one of the patents he held.

The batting stats on Babe Ruth are legendary. He held long time records with 714 career home runs yet in the same illustrious career he struck out 1330 times. At the end of his baseball career Mickey Mantle made this observation, "During my 18 years I came to bat almost 10,000 times. I struck out about 1700 times and walked maybe 1800 times. You figure a ballplayer will average about 500 at bats a season. That means I played seven years without ever hitting the ball." FULL POST

Posted 4/13/14 at 11:55 PM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Showing Up on Easter

Jesus is crucified, his body taken away.

The religious rulers are satisfied. They’ve won. They handled this challenge to their authority by hinting to the Romans that they could have an insurrection on their hands if they didn’t take care of this peasant leader. Their plan worked well. The Romans handled the situation with their usual efficiency.

The Romans are satisfied, too, with the possible exception of their man, Pilate, who expressed misgivings. He want along, however, understanding that it was in his interest not to upset the ones on whom his job depends, so no problem.

The disciples, all men, have fled, taking refuge in an out-of-the-way bolt hole.

Only a few women stay with Jesus, and they follow to see where his body is taken. They spend the next day, the day of rest, preparing for his burial. He must be taken care of, even if all they can do is carry out a proper burial. They’re only women, and no one pays them much attention. FULL POST

Posted 4/11/14 at 1:02 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books |


Things I’ve Learned as a Writer

I’ve enjoyed telling stories since I was a child sharing tales with other neighborhood kids. In school, my teachers often praised my papers, and English was my favorite subject. In college, I started a journal to process my spiritual journey. When I shared a few entries with one of the piano instructors, she said, “Eileen, your writing flows so beautifully. I know God’s going to use it.” I’ve been journaling on some level ever since.

Then in 1992, a couple in the church we’d joined asked if I’d write a children’s skit for a family event. I still don’t know how they thought to ask me. God knows.

For the next seven years, I wrote church drama and newsletter articles. That small body of believers encouraged me, saying, “Eileen, your writing speaks to my heart;” “Eileen, you need to publish that play.”

Although I’d sheepishly submitted an article once to a Christian magazine, I’d never thought seriously about publication until 1998 when my husband, Chuck, asked if I’d write a syllabus for the marriage seminars we planned to conduct. I said, “Why not a book?” FULL POST

Posted 4/6/14 at 10:46 PM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

The One Commitment We Can’t Change

Ross Douthat, New York Times columnist, quoted from Jennifer Senior’s new book, All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood, in a recent column: Parenthood is “the last binding obligation in a culture that asks for almost no other permanent commitments at all.”

In this sense, Douthat says, it isn’t necessarily that family life has changed so dramatically in the last few generations. Rather, family life “stayed the same in crucial ways —because babies still need what babies need—while outside the domestic sphere there’s been an expansion of opportunities, a proliferation of choices and entertainments and immediately available gratifications, that make child rearing seem much more burdensome by comparison.”

What has changed are the choices: “between the lifestyles and choices available to nonparents and the irreducible burdens still involved in raising children.” FULL POST

Posted 4/3/14 at 10:02 PM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Fishing in a Swimming Pool

Drew, our four year old grandson, loves to fish. A while back his Gigi and I bought him a new red and blue Superman rod and reel. It came in his exact size. That lit a fire under the little fellow to go fishing, or as he says “real fishing.” Not long after that his dad took him “real fishing” and a few weeks later I took him too. We reeled in some “real fish.” We caught four hundred fifteen including a fifteen pound bass. Boy, you bit that better than the fish did. You swallowed that one hook, line and sinker. Don’t you know better than believe a fisherman? We really did catch a largemouth that was over five feet. No, not a largemouth bass, but a largemouth granddad that stood too close to a four year old with a rod and reel loaded with hooks. Actually we caught a couple of small brim and one bass that weighed about two and one half pounds, give or take a half or two. Drew was pretty excited when we caught those small brim but when we landed that big one he was beside himself. He ran up and down the banks of the lake hollering, “We got us a big one, Daddy Bill, we got us a big one!” FULL POST

Posted 4/2/14 at 1:37 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

On Habit

I've been thinking about habit. Habitual. Habitat. Inhabit. All related words, meaning something in which we live, as in clothing, or actions in which we clothe ourselves, as in behavior, sometimes repeatedly (habitual), or something in which we live, as in houses. We wear it; we live in it, it protects us from the outside and others; in some intangible way it becomes a part of us.

We put something on when we develop a habit, or depend upon a habit, or are dependent upon a habit. Habits can be good or bad or neutral. They can be welcomed and worked on, or bravely thrown away.

"It's a bad habit," we say, or "I want to make it a habit."

We carve our behavior patterns with habits. We choreograph a dance in which we know the steps by heart. Habits are the rituals of our lives.

I've read that habits allow us to use our brains for more important things. If each day we had to learn how to brush our teeth, or shower, or start the car, we would have no energy for those events we cannot predict – the slick freeway after the rain, the weaving driver, the challenges of work, parenting, marriage, the unknowns that enter our vision throughout the day that barrage our brains, forcing instant and new decisions and maneuvers. FULL POST

Posted 3/30/14 at 11:27 PM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

A Bowl of Homemade Banana Pudding

Don’t you just love it when someone calls on the phone and begins talking without identifying themselves? Of course if they are a family member, or a close friend, that’s usually not a problem because we recognize their voice. While we may not always know who is calling us, the caller almost always knows who they are calling. I said “Almost always.”

A few years back, while I was still serving as a pastor, I received such a call one Sunday afternoon. I did not recognize the woman’s voice on the other end but since she addressed me as “pastor” I naturally assumed she must be one of our church members. Rather than asking “Who is this?” I listened and hoped to catch her voice. She asked, “Are you going to be home for a little while?” When I answered, “Yes, why?” she really confused me by saying “Well, I’m going to bring that bowl of homemade banana pudding over that I promised you this morning.” I love banana pudding and I was excited that someone was about to deliver a bowl full to my home but I still had no clue who. Sunday mornings are often hectic for pastors with a multitude of people telling or asking them things. I will be the first to admit that I sometimes forget what I have been told but I don’t think I have ever forgotten that someone was bringing me homemade banana pudding. For the life of me I could not remember anyone sharing such a life changing message with me so I asked a question that I really didn’t want to ask. I asked, “What banana pudding?” She said, “You don’t remember talking about how much you loved banana pudding in your sermon this morning? After the service I said I was going to go home and make you a bowl full and bring it to you this afternoon.” I racked my brain trying to remember. I couldn’t recall the promise or that part of the sermon. I finally broke down and said, “I don’t have a clue what you are talking about.” At that point she must have thought her pastor had lost his mind. She said, “This is Brother Smith, isn’t it?” I answered, “No, this is Brother King.” I could almost see her red face over the telephone! She said, “I am so sorry. I thought was talking to my pastor.” I laughed and said, “Well, you were talking to a pastor but obviously not yours.” She apologized again. I replied, “Hey, you don’t have to apologize. What time should I expect my banana pudding?” She laughed and said, “Well I would bring it to you but I’ve already promised it to my pastor.” I asked what church she attended and she asked what church I pastored. Then she asked if I ever spoke at other churches. After I answered “ yes,” she said her husband served as Men’s Ministry director at their church and he might like for me to come speak to their group sometime. A few weeks later I did indeed speak for them and met my mystery caller. Can you guess what she brought me? That’s right, the biggest bowl of homemade banana pudding you’ve ever seen! FULL POST

Posted 3/27/14 at 12:14 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Commit to a Healthy Lifestyle

When a physician says it’s just minor surgery, you can take it to the bank that it’s major. What the surgeon told me would only take a few days of recovery time, took more like three weeks! Two of which were spent rolling in agony on my bed, praying to Jesus to either heal me NOW or take me home!

Then a friend showed up on my doorstep. The bearer of good gifts and healing remedies. At the time I wasn’t so sure. Now, after 20 years, I know these healthy concoctions actually do work, if you stick at it. With a big grin on her face, she proudly explained, “I’ve whipped up some fresh carrot juice with pear for you. I’ll bring you some every day and we’ll see if you recover faster.” She then instructed me to drink the pint of juice within 48 hours, since it would turn rancid after that. I did as she said, and discovered that carrot juice wasn’t that bad. By the end of the week, I was feeling better and actually craving the stuff! I was hooked.

I still am. If I go for more than two or three days without juice, I can tell a difference in my energy level and overall wellbeing. My body thrives on the raw, natural juice. I usually drink 16 ounces a day, one glass in the morning and one in the afternoon. If I am treating an ailment, I drink more. Along with the juicing, I eat raw salads, fruit, and nuts. In the evening, I eat some cooked foods along with salad. Raw foods make up about 80% of my diet. I also drink distilled water throughout the day and try to walk or use the rebounder at least three to four times a week. FULL POST

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