Bindings: Reflections on faith, life, and good booksTweet
Posted 2/17/15 at 12:00 AM | OakTara
A few weeks ago, I had never heard of Malcolm Butler. Most likely you had not either but have now. In fact, you may have already heard his complete story but his story is simply too great for me to not tell. His journey is indeed a real life Cinderella story.
Malcolm Butler played in his first Super Bowl this year, in his first year as a pro football player, for the world champion New England Patriots. I got home in time to see the last 3 minutes of the game. During those final minutes Butler was the star. You might say he won the Super Bowl. Oh I know he was one of many players but his interception in his own end zone sealed the game for his team. While Butler was not named as the MVP of the game he was arguable the hero. Without his perfectly timed break on the ball and interception his team would have most likely lost.
What is most amazing about Malcolm Butler’s story is where he came from to intercept that pass. I mean more than the ground he covered on the field that night. Before Sunday night Butler was a virtually unknown, undrafted, and unproven 24 year old rookie. Last season he played for The University of West Alabama; a school most people in the nation, and even some in this state, had never heard of before Sunday. West Alabama is a small division II school located in Livingston. Not many division II players are drafted into the NFL and certainly not many from the University of West Alabama. Only 7 players from the school had made it to the NFL prior to Butler. While he was not drafted, he managed a tryout at the Patriot’s rookie minicamp. He impressed the coaches enough to be signed as a free agent. His teammates nicknamed him “Scrap” because he gave all he had on every play. His story is one of perseverance and determination. FULL POST
Posted 2/11/15 at 12:53 AM | OakTara
What is it about chocolate that keeps us coming back for more?
For me, it’s the creamy texture, the silky richness, especially of dark chocolate, that coats my mouth and lifts my spirits.
I’ve never understood those who claim they don’t like chocolate. Such was the case for my childhood friend. At every birthday party, she refused my favorite—chocolate ice cream. Her distain for such a classic confection was as foreign to me as the planet Pluto.
Certainly, my love affair with chocolate has firm roots in my childhood. Yes, chocolate ice cream at every birthday party, but even more so, candy at every Christmas. Chocolate was the ambrosia that sweetened the holidays and one of my most treasured memories. Like clockwork, Daddy would tote home a 5-pound white box of Brach’s chocolates. Since the mixed array didn’t come with a label identifying the selections, our family would spend the rest of the season seeing who could be the sneakiest candy detective. It wasn’t long, however, until we guessed whose marks were being left behind. The thumbprint slightly pushed into the bottom revealing the gooey innards was Daddy’s. The pin prick was mine. Of course, everyone knew the caramel by the square shape. They were always the first to go. By the way, my chocolate-loving heritage lives on as I married a man with a keen taste for dark chocolate and Turtles. FULL POST
Posted 2/9/15 at 1:23 AM | OakTara
God’s people as described in the Bible included adulterers, prostitutes, ineffective parents, and cowards, among other sinners. The difference between God’s people and others is that those saints in the Bible recognized their faults, repented, and called on God for help in living better lives.
They didn’t whine that their case was exceptional or that others were worse than they were. When they realized what they had done, they felt awful about it. They talked with God, asked to be forgiven, and pleaded for help to be better. The results of their sins couldn’t be erased—the person killed as a result of King David’s sin didn’t come back to life—but David’s life turned around.
God can handle our sins if we recognize them and confess them. He knows how weak we are. That’s why Jesus pictures him as a loving father who desires our good.
Many years ago, a friend of mine rented out his home in the States while assigned overseas by the U.S. military. One of the renters skipped town owing several people, including my friend for unpaid rent. FULL POST
Posted 2/6/15 at 1:25 AM | OakTara
Like most other nights, Billy Bob and Hank Williams called it a day around ten o’clock. No, not the Hank Williams that sang “Your Cheatin’ Heart” or the Hank Williams Jr. that sang “A Country Boy Can Survive.” This Hank Williams is a girl. She weighs about 70 pounds, walks on all fours, and howls at passing trains. That might describe any number of Billy Bob’s kith and kin but she is actually one of his dogs. Most folks would call her a Labrador Retriever but poor ole Billy Bob calls her a Laboratory Receiver. He actually knows better. He just thinks that’s funny; kind of like naming a girl dog Hank Williams.
Hank lives outside most of the time but when cold weather, or a storm, moves in so does Hank. She sleeps on a blanket that has pictures of pool balls, dart boards, and cards on it. That’s another story for another time. Her blanket lies on the floor directly beside the bed on Billy Bob’s side. She normally stays in the same spot through the entire night without ever getting up unless the weather turns bad. Like many dogs, my own included, Hank is deathly afraid of thunder. She has been known to pace and pant, whimper and whine, until the storm passes. Occasionally, she has even gotten on the bed with Billy Bob and Thelma Lou Jean. FULL POST
Posted 2/2/15 at 12:23 AM | OakTara
“Blessed are the meek,” the New Testament book of Matthew states. Who in the world wants to be meek? The word has connotations of a doormat type of submissiveness. Where’s the blessedness in a person like that?
During my days of studying French, I bought a Bible in the French language. To aid the learning process, I compared well-known verses in English and French. In the French version, “meek” is translated “debonair.” Now that’s a bright, cheerful word, lacking the usual connotations associated with meek.
According to my French dictionary, debonair means good natured or kindly. According to my English dictionary (OED), debonair means “confident, stylish, and charming.”
My guess is that when Jesus suggested a meek person, he meant one who is confident enough to focus on others rather than oneself, to put them at ease, and to know concern for their interests. FULL POST
Posted 1/29/15 at 1:41 AM | OakTara
Facebook. Marketing. Twitter. Platform. Blog. Followers. Brand. Instagram. Website. Goodreads. Constant Contact. Ebooks. Analytics. Hits. Page Views. Likes.
Okay, so they’re not all literally four-letter words. But admit it. You feel like they are sometimes:
“If I hear one more person talk about ‘platform,’ I’m
going to jump from one!”
“Twitter is for those who can’t spell and have to do so
in 140 characters or less.”
You’ve probably read scores of articles and books on those four-letter words. Spend 30 minutes here, 15 minutes there, an hour a week everywhere. Right?
I did the math: 126.4 hours a day would get all their suggestions slated into my daily routine. That includes eight hours for actually writing my novels, and six hours for sleep.
Oh, wait, I forgot to add family time. FULL POST
Posted 1/26/15 at 12:27 AM | OakTara
When I heard my doorbell ring, I wondered who on earth would be at my door at 8:00 on a Sunday morning. I had not dressed for church yet but had on sweat pants, a tee shirt, and tennis shoes. I had not planned for a work out that morning but much to my surprise I got one. I made my way to the front door but was confused when I found no one there. I scanned the front yard, walked to the corners of the porch, and looked around the ends of the house but still saw no one anywhere. At first I chuckled and thought I must have been hearing things or maybe what I heard was on television. Then all kinds of possibilities ran through my mind. I wondered if someone might be casing my house to see if anyone was home. Could someone be trying to divert my attention from something or someone else? Eventually I dismissed such thoughts and returned inside and sat down. FULL POST
Posted 1/14/15 at 12:54 AM | OakTara
I like to feel I’ve been “productive” when my husband and I come to the end of a day, have a cup of tea together, play Scrabble, and read. I want the productivity to include writing as well as chores. Sometimes I haven’t been as productive as I’d like.
You know, stuff happens. A blog needs more time before it goes up. A meeting takes longer. The amount of lint spilling from under the bed accumulates to where we’ll be making footprints before long.
Particularly with writing, when I’m into it, sometimes I need to continue past the time I’ve allowed. It grips me, the characters are clicking, and the plot problem is solved. When that happens? Unless I have a must do appointment or an emergency occurs, it’s time to chuck the schedule and write. The house is dirty, the weeds aren’t pulled, and dinner is thrown together from a few cans. Time to be flexible. FULL POST
Posted 1/11/15 at 11:57 PM | OakTara
Grandson Gabe (4) and I took a walk to the willow tree, our special term for the place endeared to us because of the stately tree with lazy arms dripping to the ground. The grassy area also offered freedom to run and play and romp amidst rocks and shrubbery positioned artfully around and in a creek bed.
And the freedom to share one’s heart . . .
On this particular occasion, Gabe stopped playing and looked at me. “Grandma, will you be with me forever?”
My heart nearly stopped beating as tears sprang to my eyes. You see, he and his family have been living with us while they raise funds to go to Thailand as fulltime missionaries. He knows his ultimate destination is across the ocean, but the longer we live together (it’s been a year thus far), the more attached we become.
I stooped in front of him and met his gaze. “In a little while, you will go to Thailand. That will be your home. Then in a little while, Grandpa and I will come and visit you. Then in a little while, you will come and visit us.” And on the conversation went. He seemed satisfied with the answer, for the time being, anyway. FULL POST
Posted 1/7/15 at 1:01 AM | OakTara
This column is being written for you from Mexico Beach, Florida, at 2:00 in the morning, on New Year’s Eve. No, I am not still up at 2:00 in the morning. I am normally not still up at 2:00, if I can help it, and I try my best to help it. Actually, this particular morning, I am back up at 2:00. There is a big difference. I have reached the age in life where many things in my life, especially in my body, are different from what they once were. Sleep is one of those. I like some of those differences and I am simply learning to live with some of them. There was a time when I would have still been up at 2:00 and thought nothing of it. Now I’ve usually called it a day by 10:00. Once in a while I decide to live on the wild side a little and stay up until 10:30. That’s usually because Andy and Barney reruns come on at 10:00. They show two episodes back to back so they don’t go off until 11:00. I am rarely willing to go that far with living on the wild side. Besides that I’ve seen all the episodes so many times, that I can watch the first minute of one and know what happens after that anyway. That acquired knowledge allows me to go on to bed at 10:31 and rest without worry knowing that everything will be okay in Mayberry. FULL POST