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Thursday, January 31, 2013

From a boy to a man... If only

Father and son bond

If only…

As a boy there were times to express deep thoughts –

that linger in one’s mind.

Or deliberate the contemplations of a man.

If only…

As a boy reminiscing of long walks

that first bike ride without training wheels and

laying catch in the park

or staying up late listening to man talk.

If only…

As a boy there were adults who understood –

brewing emotions of the mind

Is it not okay for a man to show emotion of any kind?

Your succinct roar

Where often words of encouragement –

I now realize.

not to bring me down

But to make one soar

Spring turned to winter

Hopping right over summer

Now all is left are memories

And plenty of what if’s to wonder

If only…

I knew – your last words of wisdom bestowed

would be the end

I remember your teachings –

Keeping them close to heart

love and faithfulness never leave me;

each morning I recite from the very start

If only…

Every man would learn –

To express their deepest thoughts

It is okay to say I love you

and not withhold good to whom it was due

If only…

every man stop making promises

Especially those they know they can’t keep

But start removing EGO and pride

Then the true bond of fatherhood would finally be found

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday paper headlines: doing good deeds and keeping the change

Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share. 1 Timothy 6:18

The Sunday Paper

The Atlanta Journal-Constitiution
 on the corner
On any given Sunday in metro-Atlanta paper-men and women combat Mother Nature – rain, heat or snow – hustling the paper.  For a couple of years Atlanta’s newspaper - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution have peddled their weekend edition on street corners. As with most commodities – unlike salaries – the Sunday newspaper increased its price to one dollar and fifty cents. 

In today’s economy there are not many items with a price tag of 50 cents. Two quarters, five dimes, ten nickels or fifty pennies – no matter how you count it it’s fifty cents. Noisy currency change that can wear a hole in pockets over time!

Unexpected kindness

Each Sunday after church my routine – head to the corner and grab a paper–I love the coupons. This particular Sunday it was raining cats and dogs. Drenched, my paper-man approached with a smile. While he searched for change the Lord laid on my heart to do something extraordinary.  Opposed to waiting and allowing my man to get soaked I gave two dollars and told him “keep the change.”

The Widow’s offering

This small gesture reminded me of the widow’s offering – Mark 12: 41-44. Many rich people threw in large amounts but a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins… This poor widow put in more than all the others.
Please understand I am not being a boastful Pharisee. The point I am conveying is my four bits may not seem like much but to someone else it could mean the world. Giving a little from the heart can go a long way.

God is pleased with good deeds

The book of Hebrews – 13:16 – reminds us not to forget to do good and share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Be encouraged, find ways to give from the heart or bless someone. So, the next time you purchase a paper, cup of coffee, or see a homeless person give them the change because God loves a cheerful giver.

Unsuspected recipients

Keep the change
I have continued the goodwill gesture of “keeping the change” for six months. The overall reaction from unsuspected recipients - amazed, peppered with genuine “I really appreciate this very much.” Yet, on occasion there are those who don’t say a thing. But it is the gleeful smile from a teenage girl which reassures me that my fifty cents does make a difference. I drive away thanking God for another opportunity share with others even if it is just spare change – fifty cents.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

God has a sense of humor even when you get bit by a rabid raccoon

When life is a total bust

One never knows what God has in store. Just when life appears to be in a tailspin God takes control. In the darkest hour of pain God don’t make sense but it is during those moments of despair He tends to reveal His sense of humor. 

This past weekend best-selling author, Haywood Smith testified of her journey before writing her thirteenth novel. Her forthcoming book – Out of Warranty – with St. Martins Press will be book fourteen (release date January 22nd.) After meeting Ms. Smith I am convinced God loves a good laugh – even if it is at the expense of others. 

When life appeared to be a total bust for one of the South’s greatest literary Southern Belles – Haywood Smith – God planted a new vision which supports my theory of God’s humor.  When individuals can make light of bad situations burdens are lifted.

God has a sense of humor

In 1 Samuel chapter 5 the Philistines stole the Ark of God. In a series of practical jokes God reviled his humorous side.  When the people of Ashdod rose the next day there was Dagon, fallen on his face before the Ark of the Lord v 3-4. But the heavy hand of God’s humor came when he smote the guilty with emrods – translation – hemorrhoids v6.  In the midst of tense moments humor can be an elixir.  

Purpose driven life

Haywood Smith - Out of Warranty 
photo: Tigner J.
After years of suffering a heart wrenching divorce, odd jobs, and health issues it was not until the age of forty that Haywood found her purpose driven life – writing novels.  For the past twenty plus years Haywood has captured the hearts of avid readers from her series of historical romance novels and several best-sellers – The Red Hat Club and Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch.  Haywood found God’s humor hilarious even when life looked bleak.

Haywood Smith's new novel

Out of Warranty is a witty take of people dealing with today’s health insurance dilemmas.  In many ways this novel took its cue from real-life issues effecting Haywood’s health struggles. Even the horror of rabies shots which can make the strongest weak. If it were not for that doggone rabid raccoon where would Haywood be now?

Finding God in your pain

The next time you asses your life’s tragedies take a minute to read the Southern sass from author Haywood Smith. Be reminded if Ms. Smith can find God’s humor through setbacks, misfortunes, and rabid raccoons surely you can find a moment to laugh with God through your life’s adventures. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dominoes... A game of chance just like Life

Hand of Dominoes
Keep asking that God of our Lord Jesus Christ may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better.  Ephesians 2:17 (15-20)

My father was a domino fanatic. A daily ritual – wake-up,work, eat, and slam bones. Nightly his crew would battle – Russell, Pee-Wee and a few others. This was a game of war no mercy – may the best man win – strategic moves, name calling until the break of dawn.  The sound of Dominoes click-clacking reminds me of life.

There are similarities between Dominoes and life both are a game of chance.  To play, first know the rules. Either follow them or choose your own path. For both - every thought a decision has to be made - right or wrong - good or bad.  There is a way that appears to be right but in the end it leads to death Proverb 14:12.

Life choices playing Dominoes
In the beginning all dominoes are "shuffled."  Life shuffles or rearranges our goals – we loose direction. Confusion develops blocks.
 When we seek God, his kingdom, and righteousness, our goals will be placed in order Matthew 6:33.
The lost of direction cause setbacks – a "block.”  With no moves we make irrational decisions. We reach for help from the bone yard
Things that hinder us set them aside, fix our eyes on Jesus Hebrews 12:1-2.
Bone yard
We gather dominoes from the bone yard. We randomly select – ideas, goals or dreams. We hope for the best. When all else fail we draw again from the reserve in suspense.
Take your dreams to God. Don’t depend on your understanding. Submit to God, he will layout your path Proverb 3:6

What is before us is a table of connected dots - we play and  layout each Domino – some are winning hands, others retreat back to the bone yard eager for another opportunity.
Stop wishing. Rely on your faith and trust in the Lord. Proverb 3:5

Father and son
Dominoes was the game where I connected with my father and learned Man talk. In between trash talking, counting, and analyzing there was a bond – a sense of togetherness. God desires for us to choose him in our game of life. Do you trust him?

Each game 'pops' and I played - All problems were laid out in a row – on the table. I calculated each move - every thought began with a decision. The end result we had fun no tension everything was carefree – until I yelled DOMINO!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Gift of Transparency

Submitted by: 
 Buddy McElhannon

Two thirds through my veggie taco lunch I looked up and spotted a familiar face.  A former colleague – now a vendor rep – saw me and made a beeline for my table. Ken had retired a few years ago and moved into vendor sales.  He had the personality of a salesman, always smiling, always talking, and always seemed like he was about to make a sales pitch.  His manner occasionally bordered on the obnoxious but I only hesitated a moment when he asked if he could join me.  Hoping he didn’t notice the cautionary tone, I welcomed him with a “Sure, have seat.”

Our conversation was light, catching up on who was still working, who had retired, and who had died.  Unfortunately we knew more of the latter and less of the former.  We briefly discussed retirement plans.  I could tell from the way he talked he was unaware that I had lost my wife 2 years previous.  I decided not to mention it, as I just did not want to spend another 20 minutes talking about it.   But something prompted me and when Ken took another bite of his sandwich I simply stated, “I don’t know if you heard but I lost my wife 2 years ago to cancer.” 
God working through the hearts of men

Ken’s response was typical, a look of shock followed by a heartfelt, “No, I didn’t know, I am so sorry.”  What followed next, humbled me yet again at how a loving God works in the hearts of men.  Ken stared at me as if not knowing what to say next.  His blank silent look only magnified the growing moisture in his eyes.  He looked briefly away and then as if a decision had just been made he turned back to me and said.  “Now I know why I met you today.”

He was no longer a salesman.  He was a wounded heart thankful for an opportunity to talk with an understanding soul.  He related how his wife Patty had just had her annual mammogram with the result being an order from the Doctor for a biopsy. Needless to say, they were stunned. They had yet to tell anyone, not even their daughter. This always confident salesman now possessed all the assurance of baseball batter in a slump.  He had no idea what to do, what to say or how to help his wife.  With a look that reflected both desperation and gratitude, he confessed, “I may need your help.”

What is love
I simply encouraged him and told him to take one step at a time, wait for the results and just be there for his spouse.  I commented that as much as he wants to fix it (doesn’t every man), right now he needs stay close to his wife, be a good listener and a strong shoulder.   And call me when they get the news and we will talk some more.  He once again smiled at the providential meeting and asked for my prayers.  I reached out, touched his arm and said “how about right now.”  We bowed our heads and I prayed, “Lord, may Ken and Patty know your loving and healing presence.  Be with them now and give them strength and faith to follow you through this storm.”

Shaking hands we then turned and walked in opposite directions.  That lonely lunch had become a battleground of faith.  I remembered my morning prayer.  “Lord, help me to help others.” 

The gift of transparency had been unwrapped again.


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