We Are Resolved

 

It was March of 2017 and a new president had been elected and sworn in.  It was amazing how quickly he got Congress to pass his proposed legislation.  He had literally shredded the Constitution and the citizens were in shock.  Although the House and Senate still met, they now had little power.  With the retirement of Justices Ginsberg and Kennedy, the new appointees guaranteed the new president would rarely face open controversy.

The citizens of Mentone, AL, a small town near Lookout Mountain, stood in a solemn, quiet line in Christ’s Word Church, the largest building in the area.  All were required to register and be assigned to a community worker’s group.  The new president believed in community participation and required each citizen to participate.  Of course, the leader of each community group would be keeping very specific records as to the “voluntary” work and the comings and goings of each family under his “care.”   On preliminary review, the reason seemed logical: research indicated when a family was about to or in the process of facing a crisis and this scrutiny would help the government to put the appropriate agency or assistance in place.

There were soldiers present were menacing with their stoic faces and blue helmets.

The Chief Community Leader stepped up to the microphone at the pulpit. “In the interest of community spirit and cooperation, we ask that every individual cooperate: first, whoever has any, turn in illegal or restricted books, tapes, or other reading material.  This includes Bibles, in writing or on tape, movies or stories using the Bible, or other books, movies, or tapes trying to foist the lie of the Bible over the public.

Second, turn in any weapons and ammunition you may have in your home.  Again, this is for your own safety.

Third, allow us to implant an ID in your wrist it is far safer if your social security number is implanted into you.  President Saunders believes this will cut down on the problem of identity theft and preserve more of your rights.

Finally, select the styles of the state provided outfits you like.  You can always purchase more for a nominal fee.  The colors will identify your place in our community such profession, religious belief, ethnicity, etc.  We promise to get you in and out as quickly as possible.

“If you do not cooperate with these directives, troops will enter your home to recover the contraband and you will be sent to a re-education facility,” reminded Mill Sikes, Mentone’s appointed leader.

Sally, whose parents had owned the local café, leaned over to Mayor Mike Calloway, “Mayor,” we can’t do all this, what are we going to do?”

“Pass the word, quietly, be careful who you tell; ‘Meeting in the cave in two hours.’”

Sally nodded and moved away.

Two hours later, Mayor Calloway was facing about 20 men and women.

“Okay everyone, they expect us to register and follow their rules.  I say no.  You signed a resolution about this place.  Now are you ready to make a resolution to God?  One that means we will be true to him no matter what the cost?

“I resolve!”  was heard from one end of the cave to the other.

“Pastor Roberts, does this mean it has started?” called Ben.

Pastor looking up and gave the answer everyone was dreading.  Yes, Ben, that is why so many people are missing.  This is the beginning of the Tribulation.  There was a collective sigh and without any direction, everyone decided to talk to God.  “Lord God, stumbled Mayor Mike, I ask you to protect these brave men and women.  Even though they erred, their repentance is genuine.  Please protect them and keep them save in your loving arms.    The people turned quietly and left to go get what they needed to prepare for a long stay to hide from the oppressors, the government.

Calloway turned to Paul Roberts, the pastor.  “Well, Paul, I think it is time for that closet you talked about.”  Both men turned and walked deeper into the house Thessalonians 1:11-12English Standard Version (ESV)

11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Clash of World Views

It happened in the days of Adam, in the days of David, in the days of Jesus and still happens today.  Worldviews are a politically correct way of explaining why people put their own ideas in front of God’s ideas. The majority of the world follows a post modernistic or an Islamic worldview (which will not be discussed).  Postmodernism is a term used to describe a way of thinking ruled by humanistic relativism.  Its beginnings can be found in the writings of Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud.  These ideas are very close to new age thinking  which allows each individual to create his own reality and morality.  God and traditional teachings tend to be ignored.  There is no absolute truth, no absolute right and wrong.

This flies in the face of a Christian or Biblical worldview which is founded on the Bible and accepted by Christians and Jews to be the infallible Word of God.    It sets moral boundaries as found in the Ten Commandments and requires a total commitment to all of its tenants.  If you disagree with one part, you must then disagree with all.  In addition,  if you agree with a Biblical world view, as stated in James, you must live it for faith without works is dead.   A Biblical Worldview requires action while a Post-modernistic worldview requires adherents to do nothing.

We are constantly under a barrage of messages from a worldly view of today’s society through the  TV shows we watch, the commercials we see, the emphasis in most news reports to even the teachings in the classroom.  Just recently this country celebrated the legalization of gay marriage.  And those who would normally offer services for wedding ceremonies and would prefer not to be involved in such a union can be sued and their lives and livelihoods destroyed.  Those who did not agree with this were called intolerant, homophobic, haters, and a raft of other unflattering names.  Similar things happened in the days of Noah, people had left what they knew was right and fell into sexual sin.  As a result of the sinfulness, which went far beyond deviant sexual appetites, God had Noah build an ark and He flooded the world and started again with Noah’s family.   But people again fell away from God and it became most apparent in Sodom and Gomorrah which were eventually destroyed once Lot was rescued by angels.

It does not take long to see that although those with a post-modernistic view may say that everything is relative and truth is relative; adherents become extremely intolerant of a Biblical world view.  Those who believe in public prayer, disagree with sex before marriage, abortion, selling of fetal body parts, transgenderism, same sex marriage and the right to adopt and raise children are ridiculed, targeted as the object of crude jokes, skipped over for promotions, or run out of business.  The two philosophical concepts are totally diametrically opposed, there is no common ground.

There are many “Christian” churches that are not Christian at all.  They have set aside teachings in the Bible and replaced them with statements such as “God is Love” and theorize from that statement that God loves all mankind and would never sentence anyone to an eternity in hell.  While it is true that God does love all mankind He loves the sinner, but hates the sin.  Thus, if the sinner does not repent of his sin, there is no alternative but hell.  For if we do not accept the mercy offered by Jesus Christ, we must face the judgement of the law.  As Jesus stated in John:

John 3:16-18 (NIV)

“16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

One can say that he believes in Jesus Christ but then again, so does Satan.  It is not enough to acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God and that He came to die for our sins.  One must repent of sin and acknowledge that His only way to heaven is through the blood of Jesus Christ.  To purposely live in sin indicates that in your heart and soul, you have one accepted Him as your Lord and Savior because you are following your rules rather than His.  Think of what Psalm 19 says.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.

If the law of the Lord is perfect and his statues trustworthy and the precepts right, then it is incumbent on a believer to follow them.  If an individual can set aside emotion and simply compare the two worldviews, it begins to become obvious that some serious introspection needs to be done.  I will leave you with one more bible verse to consider.

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body,                                                                                       but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your                                                                                          bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?                                                                              You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price.Therefore honor God with your bodies.”  

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Staying Safe

Staying safe in today’s world takes more than if you arm yourself with the best tactical folding knife made or a powerful stun gun or  a pepper spray, they could prove to be more of a disaster than a deliverance.  It takes more than arming yourself with defensive items, if you do not plan using a purse of the right size and accessibility and practice how you will hold yourself, how you will keep your hand free and on the defensive spray you could be worse off than if you had nothing with you at all.

Allow me to give you an example of what I mean.   I had an item on layaway in a store and went to pay for it but they had not upgraded their system so my chipped VISA would not work.  As a result, I had to drive to the bank and get cash from the ATM.  There were a number of people from the next county and they were angry, loud, and arguing with each other.  There was a younger, powerful looking black man behind me and he has started to try to talk to me. Another heavy set man was leaning over his car and had been leering since I had gotten there.  There I am in this group of people holding $440 all in twenties.  That is a big wad of money and was difficult for me to hide.  I had an excellent tactical folding knife in my purse along with some pepper spray but forgot I had any of it.  I couldn’t get back to my car fast enough and hit the door lock button and with shaking hand started the car, backed out and took off.  If anyone had walked up behind me I would have knocked them down.   By the time I got back to the store, I was shaking badly.

That should not have happened, in fact, I knew better.  I found I had been too sure of myself, too convinced that I could handle anything.  Since I have been out of the classroom, I have become lax.  After several conversations with my sons I realize several things, in no specific order:

  1. Do NOT deal with a store that does not have an upgraded system in place as a chipped card will not work in an older system, causing the problem I had to deal with.
  2. Make sure the purse you carry is roomy enough that you can keep defensive equipment in an easily accessible place. Do NOT carry a small purse that is over stuffed, you will be at a disadvantage.  Make sure you know how to use the defensive item.  If you have a knife, do NOT pull it.  Use your pepper spray or stun gun.
  3. When possible, do not go alone. Take a girlfriend, a group of friends, significant other or husband.  Those who mean someone else ill, will target a lone individual before they will two or more people.
  4. Watch some video’s on YouTube about self-defense using pepper spray and then stand in front of a mirror and imitate the move until it is automatic and smooth. Continue to practice once a week or so to keep the movement fresh. (Here are some I watched:  https://youtu.be/Xf5LjaE_JQ0 or  https://youtu.be/GIkB9r1oe8U  and https://youtu.be/pdjcF8stAgo )
  5. If you see a situation developing that has a potential for trouble, leave. You can purchase the item later, go to another ATM, see the movie another time.   The first rule in self-defense is to diffuse and avoid.
  6. ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings; nearest exits, where people are, what they are wearing, how they are acting.
  7. Make sure you present a confident, self-assured image. Shoulders should be back, steps purposeful, meet people by looking them in the eye.  As a high school teacher of special populations (mostly emotional handicapped) I have stopped many a confrontation with teenagers while teaching high school by staring them down.   You are supposed to be scared; you don’t have to let anyone else know.  Make them think you know something they don’t.  Act like you do have that concealed weapon in your pocket or purse.  If you hunch your shoulders, look at the ground, act in a timid fashion, you are inviting problems.  Confidence will cause people looking to give you a problem to think twice.
  8. Use your voice. It should be bold, confident, and never belie any fear or concern.  YOU are the one in charge, act like it.  People will often back down just by seeing a take charge attitude.  I don’t care if you are five foot two and ninety-eight pounds soaking wet or a five foot eight body builder, a take charge attitude and voice goes a long way.  If that is not your usual demeanor, practice it.
  9. In a situation such as I was in on Saturday, do NOT brandish a weapon. It is uncalled for.  You can probably get yourself out of it just by a confident walk, meeting people in the eye as a take charge person, and using “the voice” if you need to talk.   Part of the responsibility of carrying a concealed weapon is having the common sense of when to use it and when not to.  In nine situations out of ten, you will not need to pull it.

Had I done this type of preparation, I would not have panicked in the situation I faced on Saturday.  When you are prepared and know what you are going to do, you are far less likely to panic and over react.  The time it took me to calm down was time wasted.

So to wrap this up, it does not matter how good your defensive equipment is if you are not familiar with it.  So practice using it, voice and tone are important, no weak voice, be sure to be firm, meet your confronter and stare him in his eyes, do not look away, that belies weakness.  Walk with power, shoulders back, taking in your surroundings, nearest exits, where groups of people are.  Be sure you select purses that allow you to have a special spot for your defensive gear and practice keeping your hand near it and shopping with one hand.  Never, ever carry a weapon, even if you have a concealed carry permit, until you can develop that powerful, alert presence.  A scared person is a danger to herself and those around her.  It is just like anything else, practice, practice, practice.

There is no reason why you cannot go out, enjoy yourself, and have freedom of movement.  In today’s world, you simply need to understand the potential for violence and prepare for it!

 

 

 

Papa Learns to be Wise

 

It was a sunny afternoon in July and Papa Frank stopped by to see Jackson, Jasmine, and Jackson.  They had been to the beach and had just gotten home.  Momma had just given each of them a shower to get rid of all the salt and sand and was getting them ready for nap.  Of course, nap was not a favorite thing and they were complaining bitterly.

When Papa came to the door, Matthew, greeted him.  “Hey, Dad, come on in.  Is Mom out shopping again?”

“Her and her shopping; she’s getting her nails done too.  I just don’t understand what all the fuss is about.  Women are always worrying about nails, make-up, new clothes all the time.  I’ve been wearing this same pair of jeans for … oh I don’t know, three years now.”  said Papa Frank.

Matt chuckled; Teresa is the same way, when we have the money.  I think it is some sort of urge women are born with.”

“Daddy!  Daddy! Do we have to take a nap?” cried Jasmine as she ran out from the bathroom all clean and refreshed from her shower.   “I’m not sleepy and if you make me go to bed I will be very sad. “

“Hi Papa Frank”

“Hi Princess “Papa Frank responded. “Did you have fun at the beach?”

“Oh, yes,  Daddy and I built a sand castle but then my brother runed it;  and we went in the water.  I stepped on a star fish, I did not like that so Daddy threw it in deeper water.    We saw little fish swimming and then a heli…helichopper came and told everyone to get out of the water because there was a shark!  We waited and waited but Mommy and Daddy said we had to come home.” Jasmine said.

“Well it sounds like you had a wonderful day.”  replied Papa Frank.

“Yeah, but it’s nap time and I hate nap time!  It’s not fair!  I’m not sleepy, I don’t want a nap!”

Momma was just walking out of the bathroom with a very fussy Jackson who also did not want a nap and said, “Now you know tonight is the first night of Vacation Bible School.  You want to be ready for that, don’t you?”

“Oh, Yes Mama!  We are going to King Solomon’s Court tonight!”  Jasmine was jumping up and down with excitement.  “Is my shirt ready?  Did you finish my special hat?”

“Everything is already,” Momma assured them, “and you need your nap so you can have fun in King Solomon’s Court tonight.  Remember, we are learning about being wise.”

“What’s wise, Daddy?”  Jackson looked up at his dad, yawning.

“Well son being wise is knowing how to make the right decision even when you really want to do something else that seems to be more fun.  Having wisdom is very hard unless you look to God and know His Word.  We are not wise, but we can be wise by reading the Bible.”

Papa Frank had been listening to this.  He was quiet for a minute and then, in a soft voice said, “You know, it’s my naptime too.  But all this talk about being wise has made me remember a time when I wasn’t very wise.

“When was that, Dad?” asked Matt, sitting down with Jackson in his lap.  Jasmine clapped and scrambled on the couch to get close to Papa Frank.  Teresa just shook her head and sat down too, knowing the story would come before the nap.

Well, when I was younger I was in the Air Force….

“Did you fly those big fast planes, Papa?” asked Jasmine.

“No, Princess, I never piloted any planes, I did other stuff.

It was in 1971, before even your dad was born, the Air Force sent me to work in a country called Turkey.”

Jasmine giggled, “You lived in a bird?”

“No, Princess, it was a country like the United States where we live is a country.”

“Well, it sure has a funny name.” countered Jasmine.

“I’ll agree with you there, Princess,” chuckled Papa Frank.

“Well, what about this story about wisdom?” Teresa said.

“Turkey had a lot of people living there who did not like Americans or people who believed different from them.   They wanted to shoot Americans.”

“That’s mean, Papa.  Didn’t Jesus say we have to love each other?”

“Yes, Princess, but not everyone believes in Jesus and these people did not.  The Air Force told us we should not walk around the city alone so when we left our base, a whole bunch of us would go.  One night, we went to a place to have dinner and some fun.  We had a really good dinner and I was having such a good time I did not notice how late it got and did not pay attention to the group I was with.

After a while, I looked around and the people I came with had gone home, I was alone.  I had no choice but to go home alone.  That was very stupid.  I should have paid attention to what the rest of the group was doing. “

Jackson was curled in Dad’s lap, he had fallen asleep.  Jasmine was struggling to keep her eyes open; she wanted to hear the rest of the story and why Papa said he had been stupid.  She was not even allowed to say that word!

“The Air Force let me live in the city and I had to walk five or six blocks to get to my apartment from where the club.    I put my head down and walked as fast as I could.  I wanted to get home and be safe.  Suddenly I heard a car coming up behind me.  It didn’t go passed me just stayed going really slow behind me.  I figured it was those people who wanted to kill Americans.  I thought they were going to shoot me and I got ready to run.  I knew I was going to be shot, probably eventually killed and at first I was really scared, then something happened I decided They would have to kill me, they would never take me alive.  So I took one quick look behind me before I took off running and saw it was a sport’s car, a Mustang.  I knew that terrorists did not drive Mustangs and it turned out to be someone dropping off their friend.  But I had gotten myself so worked up thinking I was going to get shot that my knees got weak and I couldn’t walk too well.”

Jasmine, despite all her efforts had fallen asleep while in the cradle of Papa’s arms.

Papa looked down at her, “Looks like an angel, doesn’t she?”

Matt looked over at his daughter fondly, then at his father.  “I seem to remember that story, Dad.  Your point about wisdom was a good one.  You should have paid attention to your group.”

“That’s right, Matt,” responded Papa.  If I had learned my Bible I would have learned I can have fun and stay safe at the same time.  Solomon even talked about it in Ecclesiastes.”

“That’s right,” responded Matt.  “It’s in Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, a time for everything.”

“That’s right, son.  As I recall, pretty much all of proverbs is about wisdom too.”

“Well, we will have a whole week to talk about it in VBS and around the table at dinner.  Don’t forget, dinner is early this week because of VBS.”

“I’ll remind your mother, see if she wants to eat early when she isn’t working.”

“Good idea, Dad.  Hey, thanks for helping get the kids down for a nap.”

Papa laughed softly.  “Well, my stories are good for something!”

“Oh, Frank, they are great! “  said Teresa.

“Well, let’s get these young’uns to bed.  I’m ready for a nap too!”

 

 

Proverbs 4:5-9 (NIV)

Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get[a] wisdom.
Though it cost all you have,[b] get understanding.
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will give you a garland to grace your head
and present you with a glorious crown.”

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14  (NIV)

 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

*When fear is used in this way it means respect.

Dolls on a Shelf

dolls

As adults, we have all had wonderful old dolls. They are different for each of us, some tall, some short, some blonde, brunette, lots of hair, no hair. They are all very different and diverse but in every case, very precious to each of us; bringing a source of comfort, love, joy, frustration, sometimes even anger or tears. We take them out periodically and spend time with them, then when some moment happens, the dinner is done, the church service over, the magic hour chimes and we put our dolls back on their shelf, at first somewhat casually and as time goes on, more and more carefully.

As we mature and move on with life our dolls watch our achievements with joy. The excitement and demands of life, eclipse them; our own families, careers, life in general. Our dolls just seem to become crowded out with other seemingly more pressing or more interesting avenues and undertakings that life presents to each of us. We do not mean to ignore them, time just gets away. Today turns into tomorrow and tomorrow into next week or next month, and so it goes.

Sometimes the dolls feel lonely, overlooked, forgotten but they wait, trying to be patient, hoping their people will notice and remember they want to share in those happy and new things. Yet as much as they may knock on the glass, their people do not think these old, dusty dolls would fit or they are just too busy to notice. The dolls never stop loving, but a new sadness enters into their eyes and hearts.

Eventually, either the appointed time rolls around and it is time to take the dolls off the shelf again. But wait, one doesn’t seem quite right. The doll is broken. How did this happen? Why didn’t we notice? Our heart breaks, we didn’t realize if only we had spent more time with both the dolls. As we put that doll away, sadly, with tears and prayers, we look to our remaining doll; it looks much frailer than before. We explore different possibilities to make our remaining doll safer, and put it even more carefully on its shelf.   Bring in others to look after the doll, after all, we have families of our own, jobs to do, appointments to keep ….

We continue with our life and check  to make sure our one remaining doll is in good hands. We  take our precious doll off the shelf ever so carefully, and promise we will not take it granted; but as happens, the loss of the one doll becomes a memory and we forget. We still take the other lone doll out, but less and less frequently. Then one day we come and our remaining doll, oh no. Wh-Wha-What has happened!

Next comes the mad rush to the hospital, the painful decision, the transfer to hospice.  Our doll, in its last days has once again become real, and as we watch the one that raised us, skin so pale, translucent, hair, so thin and white, our parent smiles that smile always made things better; from when the bully down the street called us a name, to when we fell off our bike and scraped our knee.

“Mommy.” “Daddy.” we say, heart again broken, tears flow freely as we remember all the times we could have spent but something else seemed so much more important or vital or interesting. We think of all the times we argued when we could have stayed quiet.  We spent so much time doing the ever so important things forgetting what was truly important,  wasted precious time. Time we wish we could have back, but it is gone.

Then, in a moment, that precious doll, that precious parent is gone. The tears run down our cheeks in great torrents, our tummies hurt from the pain crying and trying not to cry.  No time for mourning, put grief aside; there is too much to do; arrangements to make, the service, the burial, the reception to thank those who came.  Then come the thank you notes to write, the attorney’s to see.  Finally, the things that belonged.

“Some day this will be yours.” we remember hearing.  We laughed and said, “I know, I know, but I’d rather have you.”  Now the reality hits.  Now as we hold that ring, that pendant, sobs wrack our bodies  and those sobs come and come. We remember the conversation, we pick up another item and remember the day we gave it to them, the pleasure on their face.  But with them come the “if only’s.”  These drive us to more action, to dull the ache, the hurt, the regret.

A year goes by we are getting it together. We visit that empty shelf less, our tummy hurts less, as long as we don’t think too hard or too long.  “It was a blessing it happened as peacefully as it did.” we share as others inquire how we are doing.  But, oh, what we would give for one hour, with our parents again. We remember their love, their smiles. We ask, “Have I made you proud?” There is no answer, we can only hope, for our dolls are gone, only memories remain.

The story does not end here, for as you and I turn around, we realize that shelf has become ours. We live in our homes, call the kids, but they are so busy with their own lives, all those important things to do and people to see, they take us off the shelf on special days: birthdays, some holidays, church on Sundays. We see their Facebook posts, try to send enticing emails, but, we have become the dolls on the shelf.

DINNER WITH PAPA FRANK

Frank with avacado

This is an excerpt from my husband’s memoirs.  He grew up in SW Florida before and during WW2 and remembers what it was like with no electricity, outhouses, iceboxes, and the freedom of growing up a little like Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn.  He lived with his grandmother and grandfather, Will and Lulu Curry until his father came home from the war.    When his father remarried, he went with his father and stepmother to live in Minnesota for a bit where he was not accepted.  The family then moved back to Florida where his step mother gave birth to three daughters.  Frank left his father’s home when he was 17 to join the Air Force.  His days of living with his grandparents were happy times as were his times in the Air Force.  His experiences so poignant and sometimes unique I wanted them preserved.  We are working together on this, he does the remembering and I apply a biblical lesson.   If this is ever published, it will be intended for families to enjoy the stories and engage in family discussions as to how the Bible has a real use and relevancy today.  

I hope you enjoy this story about Jackson learning to appreciate what Momma puts on the table for dinner through what Grandma Lulu did when Poppa was growing up in the early to mid 1940’s.

It was Tuesday night, Mama was fixing dinner and Jackson looked over hoping for mac n cheese and hot dogs.

“What’s for dinner, Momma?” he asked.

“Leftovers, sweetheart” Momma responded.  “We need to finish up this chicken.  There is plenty here for one more meal.”

“Is Mac ‘n Cheese with it?”  Jackson was still hopeful.

“No, baby, we ran out last week and it’s not time to go food shopping again.  We will finish off this rice. Some gravy with carrots and green beans will be just right.  Don’t worry; it will be a good dinner.  Then when we go back to the store on Thursday we can buy more Mac n Cheese.”

“AWWWWW! Jackson complained.  We had that ‘hicken      yesterday and I don’t want the carrots and green beans and   rice, ugh, I hate rice.  I want something else!”    Jackson whined,   his voice growing louder and louder.  “I don’t want it!  I don’t   want it!  I won’t eat!”

Momma was frustrated with Jackson’s complaints.  “Now young man you know better!  You know we have to be careful and we can’t afford to let perfectly good food go to waste.  Now you hush or do you need a ‘Pow-pow?”

Jackson’s wails simply increased and Momma looked with askance to Papa Frank who was watching a football game.  He sighed, shook his head and called out, “Jackson!  Come here, boy!”

Jackson haltingly walked over to Papa Frank, his alligator tears running down his face and with little hiccups complained, “I don’ want hicken, I want mac n’ cheese and hot dogs.”  His little lip pushed out in a pout.  Patrick had been sitting at the computer desk doing his homework and muttered under his breath.

“What was that, boy?” Papa Frank asked.

“Nuth’in Papa” responded Patrick.  “Why can’t Jackson stop his whining and let me finish this homework so I don’t get in trouble again?  Why does he have to complain so much?  Aunt Teresa is mak’in dinner and we either eat it or we don’t.”

Papa smiled.  “Reminds me of when I was his age living with my Grandma Lulu…”

Sensing a story coming on, Jackson hushed his whines and Patrick put his pencil down.  Just then, Jasmine rushed in from ballet class, having been dropped off by Miss MaryAnn, Momma’s friend.

“I twirled!  I did a real pirouette and didn’t fall down!” Jasmine crowed.  She did one to show everyone her  new skills.

“Who cares” countered Jackson.  “It’s just a dumb girl  thing.  It’s not important, not like my soccer practice.”

“What do you know; you’re just a stupid boy!”   Snorted Jasmine, her eyes flashed and her long dark hair whipped around  with instant anger.

“Enough!” shouted Momma. “Everyone is quiet this instant or it’s to your rooms!”

“What’d I do?” complained Jasmine, anger still sparking from her eyes.

“Jackson is complaining about dinner and I can’t finish this stupid homework.”   Patrick was really getting mad.  “I don’t know why I have to be here anyway and listen to you two brats.  I’m old enough to be home by myself while my Dad is at work.”

“You know perfectly well why you are here, Patrick.  You won’t do your homework.  I’ll not go through this with you again.  And you will not be calling any names in this house, you know better!” Aunt Teresa corrected Patrick with fire in her eyes.

“Yes ma’am.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to call them brats.  Hey, Jaz, you want to show me that spin thing again?”  Patrick apologized. “Besides, you are a better cook than my Dad; I get tired of those subs.”

Aunt Teresa laughed and rumbled Patrick’s blonde hair.  I know and we love having you here, Patrick.  You are a great help and I love you a lot.”

Papa Frank had been waiting patiently and with a lull in the arguing, he called all three children over to him.  “I thought I would tell you about Grandma Lulu, that is if you can stop fighting and sit quietly.

Jackson quickly sat down on the floor; he loved Papa Frank’s stories.  Patrick quieted down and sat back down.  The story would give him a break from the math homework he didn’t want to do.  Jasmine’s anger evaporated and she ran to sit down to hear Papa Frank.

“Well, Papa Frank said, settling into his chair and turning the TV off, I’ve talked about my grandmother before, do you remember?”

“She was in that book,” said Patrick, was she the first girl to live on some lake?”

“No, Patrick that was your Great-Great Aunt.  Grandma Lulu was my father’s mother.  She was part Indian and took care of me when I was as old as Jackson and Jasmine.  She was in that book; you are right about that, though.”

“Grandma and Grandpa were not rich people.  Grandpa was a fisherman and didn’t make much money.  We didn’t have much except what we caught or grew.  We lived on collards, grouper, homemade cottage cheese, and sometimes ham if grandpa butchered a hog.

“Grandma would get up early every morning and cook a big breakfast.  We had bacon or sausage, biscuits ‘n jam, hotcakes, oatmeal, fresh milk, cottage cheese she would clabber in her kitchen…”

“What’s clabber,” asked Jackson.

“That’s a good question, Jackson.  Grandma would let milk sour and then put it up in cheesecloth and let it drain.  Now when milk clabbers, the whey is the liquid and the clabber is the chunks that are left.  That is what cottage cheese is.”

Jackson made a face.  “Wheewww”

“Well back to the breakfast.  Grandma would put everything out on the table and you could eat what you wanted as much or as little.  When we came in for lunch, there was breakfast still on the table.  She added some stuff to it … some fried mullet maybe, more bread or biscuits.  We ate what we wanted and headed back out to do our chores.

“Did she make mac ‘n cheese for dinner?” piped up Jackson, ever hopeful of getting his favorite meal.

“No, Papa Frank chuckled, “Not quite.  Grandma would make beans and rice, tomato gravy and rice, if we had one a pork roast, or fried grouper and cornbread.  We had a lot of leftovers, you have to remember, and whatever was left over from breakfast was still on the table for dinner.  We didn’t have electricity; we had a real ice box with a big block of ice so we couldn’t store much food.  What was fixed had to be eaten.  There wasn’t enough to throw things out.”

Did you have mac ‘n cheese? A determined Jackson asked.

“I didn’t know what mac ‘n cheese was until I joined the Navy,” chuckled Papa Frank.

“We didn’t have hamburgers, fried chicken was a real treat and what was on the table we ate ‘cause there was nothing else.”

“Reminds me of how the Israelites acted in the desert, Jackson.”

“Why, Papa, did they have mac n cheese?”

“No, they were in the desert and they didn’t have a whole lot to eat or drink and had to depend that God would take care of them.  God had taken them into the desert so they would learn to depend on him and to get rid of the bad habits they had learned while they were slaves in Egypt…

“Those Israelites didn’t much like being in the desert, eating the same food, and started to complain.  They thought it might be better if they went back to Egypt and were slaves again.  They had forgotten their God and all He had done for them.  They got very mad at Moses and spoke against God.  They complained and complained to Moses and Moses went to talk to God.

“I bet God didn’t like that very much,” commented Jasmine.

“You’re right, princess, God became very angry with them.  He had saved them from slavery in Egypt, given them the Ten Commandments and they made a golden calf to worship, totally forgetting about God’s mercy, and then they wouldn’t go into the Promised Land because they didn’t trust God.  They didn’t trust God.”

“They were pretty ungrateful, huh, Papa,” injected Patrick.

“They were like all of us, boy.  We all forget sometimes.  We forget where our blessings come from and start to complain that we want more of this or less of that.  God had to teach them a lesson.”

“So what did he do?” asked Jackson.

“Oh, I know!”  Jasmine triumphantly answered.  “They got pow-pows!”

“Oh brother!” sighed Patrick.

“Well they did get punished, princess, but a lot worse than that!  There they were, rescued from slavery, but in spite of their teachings and customs and all that they had seen, they had no trust, no faith, and all they did was complain.  God sent snakes to punish the Israelites. “

“Oh,” said Jackson, “I wouldn’t like that much. “

“And the Israelites didn’t either.  Moses prayed to God and he asked if God would forgive the Israelites for their complaining and selfishness and their lack of faith.

“Did he — Did he make those nasty snakes go away?” shivered Jasmine.

“In a way,” said Papa Frank.  “He told Moses to fashion a pole with a snake wound around it.  If the people looked up at the pole and remembered God the snakes would not bite them.   He was reminding them to keep their eyes and   minds on Him, and to stop all their complaining.”

“Did it work?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, that is the sign doctors use today to symbolize their profession.”

“So, stop complaining about your leftovers and remember to be grateful for the gifts God has given you.  For if you forget Him and take what you have for granted you may lose what you have.”

“Dinner is ready!” Momma called, Dad had come home while Papa was telling the story and Jackson ran to him.

“How’s my boy?” Dad grinned as hoisted Jackson into his arms.

“We learned about Grandma Lulu and leftovers!” Jackson crowed.

“I can do a pirouette!”  Jasmine bragged and promptly tried to do one in the carpet, tripping in her efforts.  “Well, I DID do one.”

“I’m sure you did princess, and you can show us again after dinner.  By the way, what’s for dinner?”

“Chicken!  Leftover chicken!  And we are gonna like it and have mac n cheese on Thursday and God will be happy!” Jackson exclaimed.

Momma laughed and Dad cracked a big grin.

“Come on, Patrick; let’s enjoy this left over chicken.  How are you coming with that math?

“I don’t get it, can you help me after dinner, Uncle Matt”

“I think we can do that, Patrick.”  Uncle Matt looked over to his wife, “Chia, the table looks great, plenty to go around.  It’s been a day and I’m glad to be home.”  With that he swung her around and gave her a kiss.

“Wait until you see what I got for dessert!”  Momma said, Eyes sparkling with pleasure.

“What!  What!  What!”  Jackson could hardly contain himself.

“Well, I had some cake mix and chocolate chips, and I knew you would like a treat, so I make some chocolate chip cupcakes!”

“Wow! “  Jackson was jumping up and down.  Can you be like Grandma Lulu and put them on the table now?

“What’s this all about?”  Dad asked

“Oh, Papa has been telling another one of his stories, Momma said.  He gave me the time to make these cupcakes!”

Thanks, Dad.  I’m glad you’re here tonight.” Matt said.

“Glad to help said Papa Frank.  Now I’m hungry, let’s eat!”

“They all sat down to the table.  “I want to say grace!”  Piped Jackson who discovered he was very happy indeed to have chicken and rice and carrots and green beans.

“Alright, son, go ahead.”

Jackson folded his hands and bowed his head.  “Jesus thank you for taking care of the Is – Is – Israelites and teaching them not to complain.  Thank you for not getting mad at me and not sending snakes and thank you for Papa Frank’s Story and Momma’s cupcakes and for mac n cheese!  Amen!”

“What kind of prayer was that?” snorted Jasmine.

“It was a fine prayer and I am sure it made God very happy.” said Papa Frank.  So let’s eat this excellent meal and enjoy your mother’s surprise dessert.”

“Uncle Matt is it true, what Papa told us about the snakes and the Israelites? “  Patrick asked.

“Yes, Patrick, yes it is.  In the book of Numbers it tells us ….. and with that, everyone enjoyed dinner and dessert and Jackson did not complain about leftovers, at least out loud, ever again!

 

Bible Passage

Numbers 21:4-9

New International Version (NIV)

The Bronze Snake

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, [a] to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.