My 4th of July Prayer

Heavenly Father, we humbly ask that you watch over our soldiers, sailors and airmen and protect them all from our enemies and show them your loving kindness and power. I ask that you minister to them this very moment and lift their spirits. Where there is pain, give them peace and mercy. Where there is doubt, give them confidence. Where there is a need, fill that need. Bless their homes, bless their families, bless their finances and their journeys. Keep your hand of protection upon them day and night. Cover them with a blanket of protection like a loving mother or father covers their children on a cold winters night. Put a hedge and wall of protection around them and put them all under the shadow of your protective wings until they all come home safe. In Jesus’ precious name we pray, Amen.

My “ROLL TIDE” Poem

Well, college football is officially over
The scores are in the books;
Alabama won another title
They’re the best in the nation it looks.

It was a waste of time for Lee Corso,
To dress all up in his Irish green;
To declare Notre Dame the winner,
He looked envious of the Tide it seemed.

How about Doctor Lou when he said,
Whose spit proceeded his words;
Declared Notre Dame the winner,
That statement now seems absurd.

There were a few that knew
Alabama would get another crystal ball;
They knew the Fighting Irish
Couldn’t take it and would have a terrible fall.

But who knew it would turn out
The way it turned out to be;
For Saban and the mighty Crimson Tide,
Trophy number three.

Say what you will about championships,
And about how many they really have;
Whether it’s three or fifteen,
All I know is that we have it now.

ROLL TIDE!!!

Susan’s Story

Sixteen-year-old Susan and her friend Marcy were texting each other all afternoon. They were best friends and lived across town from each other.  Marcy asked Susan if she could come over to do some studying.  So Susan went to her dad and asked if she could borrow the car to go to Marcy’s house to work on a thesis they had in one of the classes they were taking together.  He said it would be okay if she would get back at a decent time because he needed to get up early to go to work the next morning.

She got into the car, adjusted the seat and mirrors, buckled her seatbelt and turned the radio to her favorite station.  She put her cell phone in her lap in case Marcy or anyone called or sent her a message. Sure enough before she got to the end of the street Marcy sent her another message.  When Susan pulled up to the stop sign she replied to Marcy that she was on her way and she would be there in a few minutes.  She laid the phone back in her lap and she would check it every few minutes while on her way.

Susan was all excited about going to her friend Marcy’s house. She was swaying her shoulders side to side while she sang along with the song ‘The Power of Love’ by Huey Lewis and the News that was blaring on the radio, while trying to dance in her seat.  Marcy forwarded Susan a message that she had received from another friend that Thomas, the football team’s star running back, was interested in taking Marcy to a dance.  Susan quickly replied, ‘That’s cool’ and put her phone back in her lap.

Susan sniffed and rubbed her nose with one hand. She sniffed again and felt uncomfortable.  She gently put her index finger in her nose to try to relieve the discomfort that she felt.  She searched diligently with her index finger in her nasal cavity for that annoying discomfort.  While all of her attention was on her attempt to dig out that hidden buried treasure that was lodged in the deep, dark recesses in her nasal tunnel she failed to see the light at the intersection that she was coming upon had turned to yellow then red.  By the time she saw the big dump truck that was about to sideswipe her it was already too late.  When emergency crews arrived and pulled Susan from the wreckage, upon looking at her they knew instantly what had happened. Eyes and mouth wide open in shock with both index fingers buried to the knuckle in the nook of her nostrils.

Long before there was drinking and driving, talking and driving and yes, even texting and driving there was ‘picking and driving’. What makes this the worse of distracted driving is the fact that practically everyone that drives on the road has a nose and has had some kind of nasal negligence while driving. Whether it is flicking one out the window, having one flicked on your windshield from the driver in front of you and you swerving to try to avoid it to losing one off your finger somewhere in your vehicle and taking your eyes off the road to look down and try to find it.

Poor old Susan never made it to her friend Marcy’s house and her dad’s car was totaled. (But he did get that new truck he was looking at in the magazine when Susan left wishing there was some way he could afford one.) Susan left behind a husband of fifteen years and three small kids aged seven, nine and twelve whom she will never see grow up to be… Well, whatever they grow up to be she won’t see it.

And the moral of this story is: DON’T PICK AND DRIVE!

And that my friend is a true story… Okay, most of it is true… Okay, okay it is a complete fabrication of my imagination but it could be true I do know a few people named Susan and Marcy and I know a lot of dad’s.

And remember: You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose but I wouldn’t suggest picking your friends nose…Even if they ask.  Have a great and safe driving day!

Is Your Birthright For Sale?

Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

“Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.  (Gen. 25: 31-34 NIV) 

Those of you who have been to church or have grown up in church like myself are quiet familiar with this biblical story of Esau despising his birthright and selling it to his twin brother who was only seconds younger than him.  Esau thought he was going to die of hunger and thirst and Jacob caught him at a moment when he was most vulnerable and took advantage of him to get his birthright from him.  Some people claim that Jacob stole it from him but Esau didn’t have to sell it to his brother, he chose to give it to him for something in return.  Would you believe that a majority of Americans are not using their God-given birthright today? That is the right to vote.

The 26th Amendment was proposed and ratified on March 23, 1971 allowing anyone 18 years of age or older to vote in elections.  It was signed by then President Richard Nixon on July 5, 1971. It was the shortest time in which any proposed amendment had received the number of ratifications needed for adoption as an amendment (Approximately four months).  The majority of the Congress and Senate considered any young adult who turned 18 years old even while still in high school could be responsible enough to cast a ballot for who they believe was the best candidate for an office or position to serve the American people.  At the time they could go to war (Vietnam), fight and kill but they weren’t considered old enough and responsible enough to cast a vote for who they thought were the better Commander-In-Chief to lead them for the next four years.  There were some conflicting reports and statistics of that 1972 election almost all of them agree that around 50 percent or less of the 18 to 20 year old’s actually got out and voted and it had only declined since then until more recent elections.

I remember my high school history teacher teaching us students that we all as Americans have that right.  If you don’t use your God-given privilege to cast your ballot for your choice of candidate that is just like selling your birthright.  Esau despised his  and if we don’t get out and vote then we are despising ours.  A lot of blood, sweat and tears have fallen for the last 200+ years for this right and we all should be proud and honor our fathers of the past and take part in making the decisions for our future.

I’ve heard a lot of people ask the question, “What’s in it for me?” And I am sure there are many who would probably be willing to sell their vote to the highest bidder. Just like Esau who despised his birthright and chose to sell it, they are usually the very first ones to cry foul when things don’t go their way and the laws change.

My birthright is not for sale and in a few more weeks, November 6th, I intend to use it to the best of my ability and choose whom I think will be the best person to lead this great nation for the next four years.  No matter what candidate or party you choose I hope and pray you will use the birthright that was given you as well.

TOBY & EARL in Flower Doctors

Even though it was a bright, sunny Saturday morning there was a slight chill in the October air. Leaves had begun to change colors on all the trees and it gave a colorful array to all the yards up and down the street. Toby walked across the street to Earl’s house. Earl was sitting in one of the large wooden rocking chairs on the front porch with his chin propped in his hand and appeared to be in deep thought.

“Hey Earl, Whatcha’ doin’? Toby asked.

Earl took a deep breath and blew air through his nostrils. “I was thinking about something.”

“What were you thinking about?” Toby asked.

“Well, I heard mama say something about the flowers had died and the leaves were changing colors on all the trees.”

“Yea, and?”

“Well, I was thinking it had to be something that killed the flowers and I was just wondering what it could have been.”

“Could have been a bug or worm or something in the ground.” Toby said.

“Could have been. But how do you find out?” Earl asked curiously.
A small tear came to Earl’s eye as he tried to look away so Toby wouldn’t see it but Toby heard it in his voice. “Mama worked hard plantin’ those flowers and they were so pretty. I want mama to have her pretty flowers back and I just got to do something to help her.”

Toby thought for a moment then he said. “Well Earl there’s that place in town that sells bushes and flowers. I’ve been over there with mama and daddy but I think it done closed up already.” He snapped his finger. “I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we become flower doctors. If we can find out what’s happened to your mama’s flowers and fix it then we could doctor up other peoples flowers too.”

“How do you become a flower doctor?” Earl asked.

“Well, I was thinking that if we dug one up then we could cut it into and see if there was a bug or worm in the middle of it.” Toby explained.

“What if there is? What do we do then?” Earl asked again.

“Well, I guess we take the bug or worm out, tape the flower back together and plant it back in the ground. Can’t be that hard. All we would need is a shovel, a hoe and we got our Swiss Army knife’s from the Badger Scouts. All we’ll need now is some tape or glue.”

Earl gripped the end of the rocking chair and rocked back and forth as he continued in deep thought. “You think it would work?” He asked.

“Why not?” Toby said. “Besides when you get the worm out and tape it back up and plant it back in the ground the dirt all around the flower is going to keep the tape in place. So it can’t go anywhere. Why wouldn’t it work?” Toby reassured Earl.

“I’ve got all the tools we need in our tool shed.” Earl told him as he got up to lead Toby around to the back of the house where the tool shed was in the corner of the backyard. “That will be cool. Mama is gone to the store grocery shopping so if we could dig them up and operate on them while she’s gone and get them back in the ground before she gets back we’ll surprise her.” Earl said excitedly.

Toby and Earl found the shovel and hoe in the tool shed and went back to the front yard in the flowerbed next to the porch. “Hey Earl, reckon we ought to start at the first one on the corner?” Toby asked.

“Yea, that’ll be a good idea.” Earl pointed out to Toby where the first flower bulb would be in the ground. Earl took the hoe and raked pine straw out from around the area where the flower was while Toby started digging. They found the first bulb with small roots extending in every direction and the stem of where the flower had once pushed its way through the moist soil and sprouted its beautiful, colorful display. They both slowly reached down and pulled the bulb out together breaking roots as they pulled. As they set the flower bulb on top of the ground next to where they dug Earl asked Toby. “Wait a minute. Before we start to operate we need some of them there plastic doctor’s gloves don’t we?”

Toby thought for only a second when he looked at Earl and said, “Hey. We’ve got some at our house. They’re purple and they’re called Lalex gloves…or something like that. Anyway mama uses them at the hospital where she works.” Toby dropped the shovel and said, “I’ll run get them if you want to start digging up the next one.” Toby ran across the street to his house while Earl dug up the next flower bulb. When Toby got back from his house across the street Earl already had all the flowers dug up on one side of the front doorsteps.

“I thought I’d go ahead and dig all of them up then we could operate on all of them at one time and then plant them back in the ground.” Earl told Toby as he walked back into the yard carrying a box of latex gloves.

“That’ll be good Doctor Earl.” Toby reached into his front pocket and pulled out his Swiss Army knife. He then reached into his back pocket and pulled out a roll of Scotch tape. “I went ahead and got the other stuff we’re going to need to perform the surgery too.” Toby stopped and thought for another second before he said anything. “Earl?”

Earl continued to dig while answering him. “Yea.”

“Exactly where are we going to perform the surgery at. We need an operating room and operating table.”

“We’ll use the work table in the tool shed.” He said without even looking up as though Earl already had that question figured out.

After the last flower bulb was dug up in the front yard Earl got his wagon and he and Toby put all of them in the wagon and pulled it around back to the tool shed. Earl got the tall shop light out of the corner that his father used when he worked in the shop. As Earl set the light up next to the work table and plugged it in Toby was already putting his rubber gloves on. After Earl switched the bright light on Toby handed him a pair of gloves to put on as well. Without saying a word to each other they both slowly and gently began to get the flower bulbs out of the wagon and put them on the table. They lined them all in a row, then got their Swiss Army pocket knives out.

“Wait a minute Doctor Toby.” Earl grabbed Toby by the arm just as he was about to cut into the first bulb.

“What is it?”

“We forgot our mask.” Earl said and walked over to a metal cabinet and got a box of white dust mask out. He handed one to Toby and put one on himself.

“Whew. That was close” Toby said as he wiped his brow with the wrist of his hand.

“Doctor Earl if you’ll start on that end I can start on this end and we’ll just meet in the middle and we’ll have all these flowers fixed and in good shape in no time.”

“That’s right Doctor Toby. I think mama is going to be very proud of us.” Earl gently cut into the first flower bulb. He paused and looked over at Toby who had already cut his bulb down one side and began pulling it apart. “Just think, when we get these here fixed and we start fixing everybody else’s flowers all up and down the street we’ll be famous flower doctors.”

“Yea, just think how rich we’ll be when everybody starts calling us and wanting us to operate on their flowers and trees.” Toby said while he concentrated on the bulb he had cut and pulled apart.
“Doctor Earl, what do you reckon it could be for the leaves on all the trees up and down the street to start changing colors, dying and falling off?”

Earl was studying his own flower bulb he had already cut in half. “I’m not sure Doctor Toby but I’m thinking it might be that tree disease called ‘Changumus Colorus’. At least that’s what I’m leaning toward anyway.”

“My thoughts exactly.” Toby agreed. “By the way, how much are we going to charge for these operations. Once these flowers are well your mama won’t have to be buying flowers at the flower store anymore.”

“I’m not sure.” Earl paused for a moment. “I’m thinking maybe ten dollars a flower.” He counted the flower bulbs on the table. “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Ten flowers here. So that’ll be a thousand dollars startin’ out.” Earl and Toby looked at each other and even though they couldn’t see it for the mask they were wearing they both were smiling at each other. “That’s five hundred dollars apiece.” Earl said before returning to his work.

“What are you going to do with your five hundred dollars Toby?”

“I’m not sure. I was thinking about buying me a new Corvette. What about you?”

“Well, I will probably buy me a SUV but I’ll probably buy me some more doctoring books on flowers first.”

“That’s a good idea Doctor Earl.” Toby said as he leaned down closer to look at the bulb he had separated. “Well Doctor Earl I think I may see the problem.” Earl held his hands up in the air as though he had just finished open heart surgery on a patient and walked to the other end of the table to examine what Toby was talking about. “See that black spot right there in the middle of the plant?” Toby pointed to the center of the bulb. “That there is just what I thought was wrong with it.” He stood up straight and looked at his friend with great confidence. “That you see right there doctor is called the ‘Black Spot’ flower disease. It gets into the root and drains all the honey from the plant causing the flowers to die. If we remove that ‘Black Spot’ disease, sew them back together and replant them, then in a few more weeks maybe even a few months your mama will be seeing pretty flowers again.”

Earl shook his head in agreement. “I guess that’s why we ain’t been seeing no bees flying around lately neither. That ‘Black Spot’ disease drains the honey from the flower and the bees don’t have none so they go somewhere else.” He shook his head again in agreement. “Let me check these here I’m operating on and if it’s got the same black spot in the middle of it then we’ll know for sure that’s what it is.” Earl walked back to his end of the table while Toby began digging out the center of the flower bulb.
“Yep that’s what it is Doctor Toby. You were absolutely right.”
As they continued “operating” on the remainder of the flower bulbs they began to discuss what all they were going to do with all the millions of dollars they will be making as flower doctors. All the nice cars they will be buying, the nice homes and vacations. They hear the sound of Earl’s mother’s car pull into the driveway, then the slamming of the car door.

“EARL! EARL! Where are you at? Get out here right now!”

As they both slowly stepped out of the shed wearing their purple latex gloves and white mask they see Earl’s mother standing there with her hands on her hip. She pointed a finger toward the front yard while she kept the other hand on her hip. “Did you dig up all those flowers in the front yard?” She really didn’t have to ask the question to an answer she already knew.

“Mama, you said they had died and we just wanted to operate on them to see if we could make them better so they’ll sprout out again. We think we may have found the problem too and we were just finishing up to plant them back. It will take a while for them to heal but in a few weeks maybe even a few months you’ll have some pretty flowers again.”

She dropped her head and shook it from side to side. She looked back at them and told them both to help her get the groceries in the house, plant the flowers back where they got them from, explained to them why the flowers died in the first place and she made them both promise to never dig up another flower again until they were grown.

4th of July

Okay. Some folks have been asking where was the 4th of July holiday poem so here goes.

The 4th of July was upon us before we had a chance to think;
The year was already half way over it seemed like in a blink.
What special thing can we do this year to make the 4th complete?
We decided to do something differently, something really unique.

We got up early and made the coffee and ate some buttered toast;
“This is going to be a lot of fun today.” My wife began to boast.
We couldn’t hesitate to get started the waiting was almost a pain;
Nothing was going to stop us today not even sleet, snow or rain.

Quickly in the shower, get dressed and make the bed;
We were beside ourselves with excitement, “I can’t wait!” my wife said.
The food was in the fridge and a watermelon was getting cold;
The fireworks were going to be in the park that night so we were told.

“Are you ready?” I asked my wife as I stood by the door;
To make sure everything was off she ran through the house once more.
We both grabbed our cell phones in case anyone called;
We could tell them where we were at if we are needed at all.

We were on our way, we chatted and talked as we went;
This is going to be a lot of fun, it will be a day well spent.
Thanks to my wife’s quick fingers and thinking we made it with ease;
When we finally got there we both were very well pleased.

It was a very short trip as we quickly made our destination;
There were friends and family waiting for us in excited anticipation.
My wife and I sat quietly as we listened and looked;
This is the best 4th of July we’ve had thanks to Twitter and Facebook!

Changes Are Upon Us

I remember an old Elvis Presley movie and song called ‘Change of Habit’. The lyrics started out something like this, “If you’re in old habits, set in your old ways, changes are upon us, these are changing days.” That’s the way it has been for my wife and I these last few months, a change of practically everything.

While we were coming back from our 25th anniversary vacation last December I told her that 2012 was going to be our year. I didn’t know how or what but I just knew it was going to be our year. I reiterated that again to her around January. I just felt like this year was going to be our year. I guess I had enough faith to actually claim it instead of just proclaim it.

The biggest change we’ve encountered thus far this year has been moving. After 25 years of marriage and living in the same location we finally decided it was time to pull up roots and get a change of scenery on the home front. She had lived in the same location a lot longer than me so it was an even bigger change for her. We have looked at homes in the past but we haven’t really been shopping. We came across a home that we both liked, made an offer, won the bid and the next thing we know we were buying a house. Of course I give all praise to God. We both feel like He was the one that had it picked out for us all along and it was time to move on.

Much like Abraham in the Bible when God told him to leave his homeland and family and go to a place that was picked out especially for him and his children as an inheritance forever. (Genesis 12:1)

There wasn’t anything special that I had said or done to win God’s favor except being faithful to Him. I feel like it isn’t what I’ve said or done but what I will be doing. I remember several years ago of an article I had written for a church newspaper titled ‘Just Do It’. Linda and I were working for a very small church nearly fifty miles from where we lived. We would stay all day on Sunday’s and go home that evening. There were several occasions we stayed all day then not a single person would show up for Sunday night service. I would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t discouraged but Linda was more verbal about it than I was. We were going home on one of those discouraging Sunday evenings as the sun was setting on the horizon. We both couldn’t help but wonder if we were doing the right thing. I told her to look at the beauty of God’s creation as the sun shone through the clouds giving us a very beautiful evening picture on our journey home. That’s when it came to me and I told her “all I want to do is to get to heaven and if this is the way I have to go to get there then I’ll just do it.” Just like the Nike commercial “Just Do It”.

I also knew when it was time to pull up roots from there and move on as well. I knew what I had to do to finish the task I was there for but I also knew after that task was done it was time to move on. There was no denying how I felt at the time. Now Linda tells me she knew it was time for that change for her, for us. I had already been there so I knew how she felt. We had minor, miniscule problems at closing on the home but in the end it all worked out. Now we are in our new home continuing to work on our new change.

Sometime change is good, sometime change isn’t so good. It really pays to know the difference. One thing I have always done was to really pray about it. Whether it’s a home, job, career or car I always prayed about it. Recently a dear friend of mine passed away and I remember one thing that he told me about making decisions. When you do make your decision move on in the direction of your decision and don’t look back with regret. That’s why it really pays to pray first.

We’ll come to many crossroads in life and we’ll have to make a decision whether to turn left or right or just go straight. We know with the direction of this big, momentous change for us and the ones we make tomorrow will be a new journey but the most important thing is we will do it together as we follow God’s guidance and direction in our lives.

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