Bindings: Reflections on faith, life, and good books

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Posted 5/11/15 at 12:47 AM | OakTara

A Day at the Zoo

A field trip to the zoo for a group of kindergartners is definitely an educational experience. A field trip to the zoo for a kindergartner’s grandfather chaperone is most definitely one too.

The kindergartners from Drew’s school went to the Montgomery Zoo last Friday. Kindergartners on any field trip require a great deal of adult supervision. Drew’s parents both had to work and couldn’t take the day off to go. His Gigi was in the hospital recovering from knee replacement surgery. She certainly could not go run after young’uns. Somebody needed to go and yours truly was available. I thought it would be fun and indeed it was. After all, all I had to do was keep up with three kindergarten students - three boys - three five year old boys. How hard could that be, right? An ever so slight tinge of trepidation coursed through my brain as I watched bus after bus from other schools pull up and unload. I didn’t know, but I thought it must have been school day at the zoo. I noticed with amazement at how many of those students looked and dressed alike. I suddenly realized if my boys got away from me that looking for them in that crowd would be like searching for three drops of blue water in the Pacific Ocean. FULL POST

Posted 5/7/15 at 1:59 AM | OakTara

Too Busy for Your Spouse?

Sunday School teacher. Children's choir leader. Crisis Pregnancy volunteer. Rescue Mission board member. Prayer group leader. Ladies' Bible Study on Tuesdays. Bible Study Fellowship. Praise team.

Sound like good things to be involved in, right? Well, yes and no.

Each of the above activities has tremendous potential to further God's kingdom, but if pursued at the expense of one's marriage, they can be deadly. Few of us stop to think how Satan can use even godly things to deceive us and get us off track at times. I (Chuck) have counseled believers who have crippled or destroyed their marital relationships because they were TOO heavily involved at church. Some have even been swept away in extramarital affairs because somewhere along the way they crossed the line of just being "brother and sister" in Christ to being "something more." Needy people with no boundaries, guidelines, or priorities, caught off-guard.

"But you just don't understand. He actually listens to me. My husband never does that. How can something that feels so right be so wrong?" one wife and church member of twenty years laments.

"I don't know how it happened. We were just spending so many hours practicing with the praise team. We were just sort of thrown together. I love the way she laughs, and sings, and loves the Lord with all her heart. We were meant to be together from the beginning. I made a mistake when I married my wife," another long time church attendee offers excuses. FULL POST

Posted 5/4/15 at 12:23 AM | OakTara

Does this Look Funny on Me?

I should have known this was bound to happen sooner or later but I was totally unprepared when it did. I simply could not believe my eyes. Now I find myself in quite a dilemma, and honestly, I don’t know what to do.

I was a teenager in the seventies. We sure thought our clothes back then were cool but now, I certainly don’t know why. While I still think our bell bottom blue jeans were pretty cool, most everything else was hideous. I had button down shirts that had collars that were long enough to poke out somebody’s eye. The cuffs must have been six inches long and had at least six buttons. I owned a sports coat during college days that would knock both eyes out and leave them lying on the floor. That thing was beige with huge orange, brown, and white plaid squares. My red, white, and blue platform shoes from the bicentennial year have been long gone but I still have that lovely sports coat. For a reason that I didn’t understand until thirteen years ago, I kept that thing all those years. It hung in the back of my closet simply waiting for its reappearance. FULL POST

Posted 4/27/15 at 1:34 AM | OakTara

A Kid with Kids for Rent

When I was a kid I did not get an allowance. My parents did not believe in them. I greatly believed in them but obviously I was not a skilled persuader. My dad owned a business where he sold coal, building supplies, hardware, and snacks. I shoveled coal, stocked shelves, loaded and unloaded merchandize, and ate snacks. I couldn’t bear the thought of a paying customer getting a stale candy bar so I sacrificially and internally disposed of the older snacks. Not only did I not get an allowance but I didn’t get paid for work I did for dad (except for stale candy bars). Occasionally I complained about not getting paid for all the hard labor I so diligently performed. Okay, maybe not as hard as I diligently remember. Dad answered my complaints with reminders that he fed me, clothed me, and provided me shelter. I needed other things, important things, like fishing and sports equipment, records, and model cars. As I grew older, I began to look for better paying jobs – make that paying jobs. FULL POST

Posted 4/21/15 at 1:38 AM | OakTara

Shall We Dance?

The lights dimmed. The room began to spin as my husband and I glided across the floor as if in a dream. Then the alarm rang. It had been a dream. As I lay in bed getting the resolve to move and face the day, I thought about the previous Friday evening when my husband, Chuck, and I had gone dancing for our date night. “T-A-NG-O” rang in my ears as I heard the instructor teach us the dance steps.

Actually, we were getting pretty good. Only I always left the studio somewhat perturbed with myself for getting so antsy with Chuck. “Don’t be so wooden,” I’d fuss. “Be more graceful; make sure your arms are positioned in the right way.” Then, to make things worse, I’d try to lead. After all, I was doing it right! Wasn’t I?

After a barrage of criticism, I would look at Chuck’s face, only to discover I had dampened his spirits and ruined an otherwise fun evening. I’ll do better next week, I’d tell myself. I’m still trying to do better next week. I’ve learned something about myself through dance. I’m still trying to control our relationship, not just in the tango, but in other areas of our marriage as well. It hurts to admit, but it’s true. But admission is a good place for change to start. FULL POST

Posted 4/16/15 at 1:11 AM | OakTara

Ballparks have Come Alive Once Again

That time of the year has arrived once again. Coats have been put in closets, short pants and short sleeves shirts have been pulled out of winter storage, lawnmowers buzz in neighborhoods, and the cracking of bats fill the air in ball parks. Well, actually, these days with aluminum bats that sound may be more of a clink than a crack. Most teams, with the exception of the majors, don’t play with wooden bats anymore.

While I’ve been an Atlanta Braves fan most of my life, last Saturday I had the joy of watching the Cubs and the Pirates. My all-time favorite player wears number eight for the Cubs. He had a great game. Strangely enough, he never hit a single ball out of the infield but he got on base every time he batted. I’m not sure that any player in the majors has done that. That young man can run! He also scored every time he got on base. Did I mention that number 8, is my grandson, Drew? I also don’t think I told you that he doesn’t play in the majors, at least not yet. No, he doesn’t play for the Chicago Cubs but the Beulah Cubs. He’s five years old and they hit the ball off of a tee. They have almost as much fun as their parents but not nearly as much as their grands. FULL POST

Posted 4/13/15 at 1:00 AM | OakTara

HOW THEN SHOULD WE PRAY?

Twenty years ago God burdened my heart for corporate prayer in a way that I had never experienced before. Sure, as a believer for thirty years I had done my share of praying, but this was different. God so saturated my heart and mind with the desire to pray that I devoured every book, every resource, every sermon on prayer I could get my hands on.

One book that stood out above the rest in its simplicity and practicality was What Happens When Women Pray by Evelyn Christenson. It was as if someone had turned a light switch on for me. No longer did prayer groups have to be long and boring, listening to one or two people drone on and on while the rest slept. With renewed excitement, I took Christenson’s format and organized three small group women’s prayer meetings which met during the week. Our groups found the style non-threatening and freeing. Here is what we did. Perhaps you will find these ideas helpful in your group. FULL POST

Posted 4/8/15 at 2:13 AM | OakTara

What Does It Take To Be A Writer?/

Invariably, whenever I speak somewhere, someone will come up to me afterwards and say, “I’ve always wanted to write a book.”

Typically, I respond, “What’s holding you back?”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over my years of writing, it’s this: The dream of writing will remain a dream if you never set pen to paper. 

Writers write. Period. Not all that profound, really. But the mere two-word sentence made me sit up and take notice the first time I heard it through the Christian Writers Guild.

How true it is—writers write. About everything, from the maiden blush of spring to the birth of a baby. No subject is off limits to the one obsessed with observing life and crafting words into workable essays, articles, and stories based on those observations. FULL POST

Posted 4/5/15 at 10:54 PM | OakTara

The Ultimate Gift from a Heart of Love

Everett Smith and my Dad were first cousins. His mother and my grandfather King were brother and sister. Everett and his wife, Sylvia, had four children, three girls and one boy. The oldest girl, Janice, was one year younger than me and two years older than Kaye, her closest sister. I loved going to their house in Bremen, Georgia, to visit when I was growing up. They were a great fun loving Christian family. They lived in a large two story brick house with a basement that Everett had built. I had never been inside a house as big or as nice as theirs. They even had a pool table in the basement. I didn’t know how to play well but I sure enjoyed trying.

One night, in the wee hours of the morning, they woke to the smell of smoke. All of the bedrooms were located on the second floor. By the time anyone realized that the house was on fire, the bottom floor and the stairs were engulfed in flames. Janice was about fourteen. Her father helped her out onto a lower roof on one end of the house. From there she jumped to the ground. She sprained her ankle but still managed to find a ladder and raise it to the roof. Her dad helped the other three children through the smoke filled house to the ladder. All four children made it out of the house safely. Everett returned to help his wife out but by this time something had fallen on her and she was unconscious. Everett refused to leave her there to die alone. He probably could have gotten out and lived had he been willing to leave his wife behind but he simply could not. That is the power of love. FULL POST

Posted 3/31/15 at 12:44 AM | OakTara

A Tale of Two Churches

Celeste Road Baptist Church and Turnerville Baptist Church are located five miles from one another. North of Mobile, Celeste Road is in Saraland and Turnerville is in Chunchula. Recently they have shared more than their close proximity to one another. Both congregations have suffered tragic loss yet both have survived and continue to operate in the aftermath.

Sunday, October 20, started out like most every other Sunday at Celeste Road. The church gathered for the morning service with no idea of what was to come later that day. That afternoon around 4:00, Pastor Eddie Holmes received a call with news that the church was on fire. As he drove to the church he expected to find a small extinguishable fire. As he pulled into the parking lot he watched in shock as the roof caved in and the entire steeple fell to the ground. The church was totally engulfed in flames and burned to the ground. FULL POST

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