Commentary

Several years ago, NASA launched its unmanned rocket Antares that was tasked with bringing supplies to the International Space Station. Six seconds after take-off, Antares suffered a “catastrophic anomaly” and exploded. ​One early newscast suggested the rocket was veering off course and scientists on the ground destroyed it. That report proved inaccurate.

We are going on a trip soon that will be out of the country. I have a huge “to-do” list before I can leave that involves both things I need to do for work and things I need to do to get myself ready for the trip. As I was thinking about my “to-do list” I thought about God.

Doc Johnson croaked the other day. I am not being disrespectful. That’s what Doc wanted in his obituary: He croaked. Yes, that’s an unusual request, but Doc Johnson was an unusual guy. He was who he was. He was comfortable in his skin—and in his overalls, worn T-shirt, and long, scraggly hair and beard, all of which might disguise the encyclopedic mind that could reveal surprising information about most any subject.

When the box of Kleenex’s fell behind the dryer, I didn’t think it would be a big deal. Knowing that it would be a fire hazard to leave it, I shimmied up on the dryer as best as a 61-year-old woman could to retrieve it.  My arms were not long enough.  “I will get it,” my beloved called from the other room.  But I didn’t want him to. I wanted to do it myself.  I always have to have help.  Surely, I could just do this alone.

Have you ever felt like you just had a bad week and you caught yourself complaining? I hope you can say yes to that question because it will make me feel better. I have had one of those weeks. It reminded me of a story about my granddaughter, Lottie, when she was around five.

​George Barnard Shaw said, “There are two sources of unhappiness in life. One is not getting what you want; the other is getting it.” America is obsessed with success. We work hard to get what we want. From the early days of our youth, competing is encouraged to reach number one, whether it’s winning the spelling bee or ranking at the top of our class. Setting our minds on a goal and pressing until we reach that goal makes us a success, we think. Success is a destination.

Not everyone knows about Jesus.  It still surprises me to find that to be true.  While I grew up going to Sunday and Wednesday church services, Sunday School, and Vacation Bible School, countless others did not.  While I know Him personally and He walks with me daily, to some He is an unknown person, a stranger they have heard little about.

My very first date with my husband was on Valentine’s Day in 1974. We were both in the 10th grade at the same high school. He was a basketball player and I was a cheerleader. I won’t say I fell in love with him on the first date, which by the way was at the circus, but I did enjoy his company and considered that there might be potential for a relationship there. He, on the other hand, told me he was going to marry me on our first date!

The community orchestra prepared for the annual Fall concert for nearly five months. At the final dress rehearsal, the conductor took time during a break to thank everyone who had helped over the past months. He thanked the sponsors, the press, the ladies who had helped with the costumes, and everyone else he could think of.

This week, we are marking the fourth anniversary of my mom being with Jesus.  I’ve been reminiscing and pondering all the good things about her.  She was an amazing encourager.  She used her words for good and the good of others.  Don’t ever take your words for granted.

I will be the first to say I am not a tough or strong person. I have very soft feelings and am extremely sensitive. It is not hard to hurt my feelings, just ask my family. In the same sense, my sensitivity also carries over to others. I seem to have the ability to sense when others are hurting or troubled.

A funeral in Appalachia is an emotional and wonderful thing.  If you’ve never attended a mountain farewell celebration, there’s much to be appreciated. Last weekend, the funerals of two of my beloved’s cousins were held back home in Belfry.  At the first, cousins from all over hugged, laughed, and cried as they reminisced.  They hadn’t been together in years.  I watched and listened as they talked at once, catching up for lost time.

Wayne and I had dinner with some friends one night last week. We drove separate cars since I went directly from work and he just met me there. I will be the first to admit that I am a terrible night driver and it’s even worse when it is raining.

Just before the recent Republican caucuses, TV journalist Tony Dokoupil was in Iowa asking voters two questions: What do you love about America? And why do you think love of America is fading for some people, mainly those of younger generations? Several people were stumped for answers, but one woman did not hesitate to answer the second question. It’s a change in families. “I don’t think people sit on the porch enough, … and they don’t know the American way,” she said, then added: “The internet took over and built a bunch of idiots.”

In Isaiah 43:19, the Lord said, “See, I am doing a new thing…”  But I don’t always love new things, new ways.  At times, when things change, I’m dragging my Crocs on the way.   These days I find myself praying often for the Lord to help me be flexible.  Not bendy, but easier to adapt.  I know not all change is bad.

In our kitchen, we have a round table with chairs for four people. The two youngest granddaughters, Liza and Lottie, always want to sit beside Wayne when they are eating, but there is usually a problem. It seems they both want to sit in the same chair. Now mind you both of the chairs on either side of Wayne would qualify as “sitting beside Buddy,” but they want the same specific chair. This becomes a problem, and usually a problem that involves tears.

The girls sat around the wall.  Some on mats, some in plastic chairs.  Their breakfast trays came so they ate while we studied.  Last Sunday at 7 a.m. sharp, we had the privilege of meeting the girls at the county jail for Bible study. The morning’s lesson was from Luke 2:41-52.  It’s one of my faves.  I used to call it, “Jesus was Lost.”  I can most assuredly tell you Jesus was NEVER, EVER lost. 

At the end of last year, our church invited people to join a 21-day prayer and fast beginning January 1st  and ending January 21st.  This was open to anyone who wanted to participate.  You would choose something to fast from and then on Monday through Friday there would be a church service at 6 a.m. to attend, on Saturday the service would be at 8 a.m. and of course on Sunday you would just attend one of the church services.

In the push to reach all Georgians with the gospel, the state’s pastors are thinking and working outside the box. Take David Wheeler for example. He’s using people’s fascination with old cars as a way to tell them about Jesus. Nearly 6 million people have tuned in to watch Wheeler and his family restore rusted clunkers on their YouTube program Revstoration. In his discussions about ball joints, brakes, and batteries, he weaves in the Bible.

Reading a book a friend gave me about his father, I began to conjure up memories of my own, memories of adventures with our two daughters, Michele and Marcia, as they danced and tiptoed through their young lives. Here are a few of those gems.

God specializes in new beginnings and fresh starts. Isaiah 43:19 reads, “Behold, I will do a new thing . . .” What new thing does God want to do in your life this year?  

 I was recently asked about Lottie Moon’s last name, because it’s not a very common name for people of European ancestry. As a researcher and writer, I typically include genealogical research on the people featured in my columns, paying special attention to a family’s spiritual roots. Religious beliefs were the driving force for many early immigrants’ journey to America. It shaped their family’s views of government and religious freedom for generations. People are often surprised to discover the role of faith in their own family’s story.

Way back in the 1900s, there was an amazing, magnificent, almost magical book of wishes.  Each year, Sears, Roebuck and Company issued a treasured catalog containing all the toys on earth, and it went to every household. Every.  Single.  Household.  Kids young and old anxiously awaited its arrival in the fall. 

It’s that time of year when people make “resolutions.” I have never been big on those, mainly because if I made a resolution I would stress myself out trying to fulfill it and feel guilty if I didn’t totally complete the goal. It’s just not worth it to me.

I heard about the men who went deer hunting and separated into pairs for the day. That night one of the hunters returned, staggering into camp under a 12-point buck. They asked, “Where’s Harry?”

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