Out of the Mouths of Babes

Kids have a knack of saying things at the most inappropriate times with a look of such sweet innocence that all you can do as a parent is hope you can make it out of the room without losing it completely. For example, while watching America’s Funniest Videos last evening, one of the clips had a young boy of probably 5 or 6 saying that when he got older, like 16, he would be all alone. Whoever was filming asked what he meant, assuring him that he wouldn’t really be all alone. The young man repeated his statement. His sister stepped into view and said, “No, when Mom and Dad die, then you’ll be all alone.” I can’t believe that clip didn’t win.

That exchange reminded me of a similar experience in our home when our kids were very little. I need to give a little background to fully set the stage. When I returned to Franklin from working in Murray, Kentucky, I decided I wanted to get a dog to run with me. I choose a basset hound as my running companion, a decision made with my heart instead of my head. Sherlock was my buddy if not my exercise partner. When I got married, Sherlock was part of the package deal for the family. We had our son about 3 1/2 years later. As he grew the typical bond developed between a boy and his dog. Sherlock would guard our son while he played in the backyard. Laying by him, as Ty played in the sand box. Daughter number one came along and then a couple of years later daughter number two. We moved to our present home before our last child was born. Sherlock, by this time, was about 10 years old. He was forced to be predominately an outside pet due to some health related issues. Our son was six, daughter 1 was not quite 3, and our youngest was a few months old that spring. I was in the habit of letting Sherlock out of the garage as I left for work. On this particular morning, I discovered Sherlock had died during the night. I put his body in a bag and planned to bury him when I could get away from work. I told Sherry what had happened and we decided that we would let our son go to school, waiting until I could explain it better. I left work early and tried to think of the best way to break it to our son. We sat him down at the kitchen table dreading the task ahead of us. Before we could say much of anything, Daughter number one blurted out, “Sherlock dead. He in the bag.” If that wasn’t enough, she repeated it multiple times. I honestly believe if we had not stopped her, she would have made a little song about it. This from the child we didn’t think would ever talk. Too bad she didn’t wait longer to start verbalizing.

I’m happy to say that our eldest daughter developed into a compassionate, caring woman who is conscious of people’s feelings. She still tends to tell it like it is but always considers people’s feelings. I have a wonderful relationship with that daughter and love her dearly. I also know that she loves me the same way but I have a nightmare where my funeral is the shortest in recorded history with my daughter’s eulogy being, “Dad’s gone. He in the box. Peace out.”

Today’s verse is in honor of my daughter’s love of the truth.

John 8:32

32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Might Makes Right (a FMF exercise on right)

Each Friday I participate in the FiveMinuteFriday.com hosted by Kate Motaung writing challenge to write for five minutes on a prompt word. Today’s word is right.

T.H. White retells the story of King Arthur in The Once and Future King. The culture that existed during King Arthur’s time was one where the strongest and most powerful determined what was right. It was right because they said it was right. Arthur desires a culture where might defends right instead of might being right. These powerful warrior knights were to use their power to do the right thing. The concept of the round table was to establish a way to do these right things on an equal playing field. Since there was no head and no foot of the table, no one’s ideas or ideals would carry more weight than any one else’s. Unfortunately, as noble as this concept was, Arthur’s quest for this kind of world ultimately failed. That failure was due to the fact that the knights were human and therefore not perfect.

It’s in our nature to believe that what is right for us is right for everyone. The problem is that everyone has their own standard for what is right. The even bigger dilemma occurs when we attempt to coerce someone into accepting our version on right. When might makes right, the mightiest attempt to force their “right” down the throats of others is doomed to fail. Sadly sometimes Christians have been guilty of this philosophy. The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, as well as other attempts to force Christianity on others are examples of these type of failures. We were wrong. We may have the truth but people have to accept it on their own.

I’m concerned that an environment exists today that beliefs and ideas are being forced on people. If companies don’t put a banner on their website, they’re vilified. If someone chooses to stand instead of kneeling for the national anthem, they become the target for insults and ostracization. History has shown that people can’t be forced to change their beliefs because of what’s popular, who screams the loudest, or with threats of violence. Don’t get me wrong, our world is messed up. It’s messed up because it’s broken.

God, who has the ultimate might, could have forced all of us to do what is right. What’s even more amazing is that His right is the standard we should all aspire because it is the true right. He, however, has given us free will to choose. As believers, we only need to proclaim the truth. We will never be able to argue or force anyone into accepting the Truth as their own.

This is way out of my comfort zone. I usually like to keep it much lighter sharing stories. Please forgive me for exceeding my five minutes and for being all over the place with this post but today’s prompt word definitely struck a nerve. For us, might will never make right.

Deuteronomy 12:8

“You are not to do as we are doing here today; everyone is doing whatever seems right in his own eyes.

Proverbs 12:15

A fool’s way is right in his own eyes,
but whoever listens to counsel is wise.

Special Delivery, Yeah Right

Like most everyone else these days, we get lots of things delivered to our home. The problem is that we have our very own security system that the delivery people must overcome to actually complete the process. At one point, my wife placed a note on the door to aid the delivery people in the completion of their appointed rounds. Apparently this was not official enough because some failed to follow the instructions for a completed mission. Not to be deterred, my crafty wife put her embroidery skills to practice and created this official looking set of directions that now is proudly displayed on the front door. See for yourself the plainly worded instructions.

Our dog, Gertie, is the reason why we have had to post this warning. It’s not that she is vicious, Quite the contrary, one little scratch on her belly and she is done. She does bark but she is just giving a warning that all packages and deliveries must pass her inspection. She may look harmless and sweet but she takes her job very seriously.

We only receive the newspaper on Wednesday and Sunday and Gertie is aware of that schedule. I usually do not let her out of her kennel until I have had a chance to retrieve the morning paper. On days that I have forgotten, she reminds me that she must check for any dangerous items that might be hidden within the folded sheets. She usually does this by shaking the bag vigorously and separating the sections into bite sized pieces so that we can digest the news more easily in such small doses. I’m sure the neighbors enjoy the Wednesday – Sunday race to the news when I’ve released the hounds without procuring the media. I may have even noticed some taking bets with Gertie always considered the favorite.

Home deliveries of goods are another thing entirely. Some disregard my wife’s instructions, never believing such a little dog could cause so much wanton destruction. After viewing the aftermath of one of Gerie’s package “inspections”, there’s talk of her replacing Drax the Destroyer in the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie. She has gotten a little better but packages delivered in any way other than the one prescribed by my wife are accidents waiting to happen. She has opened and scattered all across the yard such items as a slide to digital converter (has teeth marks but luckily still works) and a box of sewing clips that were supposed to be a surprise Christmas gift for my wife (fortunately encased in a metal box or Gertie my have found other uses for) and many other items too numerous to mention. I will share a couple of items that didn’t fare so well with our canine inspections. My wife had been waiting for a pair of pants to go on sale for quite some time. They finally dropped to a price that she was comfortable paying so she ordered a pair. Evidently the delivery person, felt it unnecessary to go to all the trouble of placing the package inside the storm door. I don’t know if Gertie didn’t like the color or the style but she voiced her disapproval of the purchase by shredding the offending garment. I realize that pants with holes in the legs are all the rage in fashion now but Gertie may have stretched the boundaries of good taste too far by creating a style that could have gotten Sherry arrested. Needless to say, those pants were dog tested but not Gertie approved.

The other memorable item that was delivered in less than pristine condition was one for daughter number one. We usually ordered college text books on line, tending to find better deals. We were out of town when this particular text book was delivered. Gertie gave a whole new meaning to devouring knowledge. Finding all the pieces of the text resembled an Easter egg hunt. I ordered a replacement but ever resourceful daughter accepted the challenge of assembling the jigsaw puzzle of information and reconstructing the book. She passed the class so I guess that she must have rebound the pages in somewhat of the correct order.

The UPS and Fed-ex folks have resorted to paying Gertie off. They each stop and give her a treat even when they are not making a delivery to our home hoping against all hopes that their deliveries can bypass her vigorous inspection routine. Amazon Prime people sometimes think they can bypass security measures. Hopefully they will eventually accept defeat so that we can receive what we need in the original and useful condition.

2 Kings 9:10

10 The dogs will eat Jezebel in the plot of land at Jezreel—no one will bury her.’” Then the young prophet opened the door and escaped.

Gertie aka The Destroyer

Known to destroy packaged with wanton disregard

Susceptible to bribes to make deliveries possible

Just Keep Swimming (a FMF exercise on progress)

There were times when my kids brought home a report card and “needs work” would be in the teacher’s notes on a subject. We would work hard with that child and often at the end of the next grading period the comment would be changed to “showed progress”. Sometimes it was frustrating for both my kid and myself when it didn’t seem like they were getting anywhere ( in math, for instance, with one of my daughters) so it was satisfying when we saw that they were making progress.
It’s not a whole lot different in the real world. We live in a world that wants to see a difference instantly but unfortunately that is not how life works a lot of the time. In the movie, Finding Nemo, Dory sings “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming” and in the end (spoiler alert) it leads to Nemo escaping from the fishing net in which he is trapped. We want to see that we are making progress individually, as a nation, and even as a world but it’s discouraging when we’re not as far along as we think we should be. How do we progress?

In the book of Nehemiah, the prophet returns to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls. There was so much work to do that the situation seemed hopeless.

[a]When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious. He mocked the Jews before his colleagues and the powerful men[b] of Samaria, and said, “What are these pathetic Jews doing? Can they restore it by themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they ever finish it? Can they bring these burnt stones back to life from the mounds of rubble?” Then Tobiah the Ammonite, who was beside him, said, “Indeed, even if a fox climbed up what they are building, he would break down their stone wall!”

There was tons of opposition and doubt but God through Nehemiah had the plan of everyone working on the section of the wall by their homes. The people just kept working on their section. Progress was made.

So we rebuilt the wall until the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had the will to keep working.

The wall was completed in an astonishing 52 days.

As a believer, it’s my job to become more Christ like every day. It’s way too easy to become discouraged when I see how little progress I make. It’s true that too many times I use the wrong things to measure how I’m progressing but all He asks is that I just keep swimming and moving toward that goal. I’m human so I’ll never achieve it but then again He doesn’t expect that of me, only that I keep pressing on.

Philippians 3:13-15
Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you.

This is part of the FiveMinuteFriday.com weekly writing challenge to write for five minutes on a prompt word. Today’s word is progress.

Not So Easy Rider

Social media has a wealth of information. Sometimes you learn things that you wish that you would have remained ignorant of.

Last week, my daughter asked me if I had seen her brother’s new motorcycle. I thought she was kidding but she pulled it up on social media to confirm the fact. He had posted a picture with his motorcycle and the fact that he had passed his test. Beside that he posted an old picture from one on those picture places of his eight year old self on a motorcycle prop, like it was some kind of predictor of his accomplishment. Since I work in a hospital, I’ve heard and even seen the results of some motorcycle mishaps so I can’t honestly say that I didn’t have some trepidation upon hearing the news. He’s an adult so what he does is on him but my lack of enthusiasm for his accomplishment comes quite honestly. I’ve already informed my son that he needs to make the trip from Gulfport to Franklin to put his grandmother (B) back in the ground since she rolled over in her grave upon learning that he was now an Easy Rider.

I, myself, have never felt the allure of the open road with the wind in my hair and bugs in my teeth so I’m not a kindred spirit. I can still recall the time I rented a motorscooter in Honolulu with my younger brother and his then girlfriend. I was completely terrified until I was able remove my legs from my “hog”. If I’m honest, my less than love for two wheel transportation probably goes back even further.

I’ve written before about visiting my grandparents in Tuscaloosa every summer. We always loved riding with Papa. He would sit us in his lap and let us steer. I know, it would be unheard of these days. On this particular day, I think we were heading to Heglars which was only a short drive away with Papa driving. Papa’s house was on a road that teeed into another road. We were stopped at a stop sign. Two motorcyclist came down the main road where they had the right of way. Papa pulled out in front of the motorcycles and they cut through yard to avoid the accident. You could see where they ran through the hedges from the motorcycle shaped hole like in cartoons. Before the young men could really say much, Papa started saying how they were always tearing up and down the streets on their motor bikes. My brother thought we might need reinforcements so I ran back to the house to get Dad. By the time, we both arrived back at the scene Papa was in rare form saying, “George, you should see them flying up and down the street like they own it. I ought to call the police on them.” Before it was over, the teenagers were apologizing to Papa as they pulled their bikes out of the bushes. They straightened out the handle bars as much as possible and went on their way.

So, you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t decide to join my son in a father son motorcycle bonding experience.

Now I’ll conclude this with some advise to my son. Tyler, be smart, be careful, and avoid hedges because according to Papa, it’s always the motorcyclist’s fault.


You lift me up on the wind and make me ride it;
You scatter me in the storm.

Find Out What It Means to Me (A FMF exercise on respect)

Probably like most everyone else, the first thought that popped into my head when I saw the prompt word today was Aretha Franklin singing R-e-s-p-e-c-t. Of course then I wasn’t able to get the song out of my head the rest of the morning. As much I love that song and as silly as I look moving while I’m singing and spelling in my brain, it’s not where I landed today. In fact it is another song that I only knew the catch phrase to that is the inspiration for this post. It’s a song from way back in 1971 by The Staple Singers called Respect Yourself.

If you disrespect anybody that you run in to
How in the world do you think anybody’s s’posed to respect you
If you don’t give a heck ’bout the man with the bible in his hand, y’all
Just get out the way, and let the gentleman do his thing
You the kind of gentleman that want everything your way, yeah
Take the sheet off your face, boy, it’s a brand new day

Respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself
If you don’t respect yourself
Ain’t nobody gonna give a good cahoot, na na na na
Respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourselfIf you’re walking ’round think’n that the world owes you something ’cause you’re here
You goin’ out the world backwards like you did when you first come here yeah

At first it spoke to me about respecting myself because I’m worthy. Like it says in Psalm 139:14, I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. The more I read the lyrics the more I was impressed that I wasn’t really getting it. We live in a world that is severely divided to say the least. The two sides are so divided that people on the other side are completely disrespected. The song is saying that if I want to be respected I need to respect others myself.

I’m borrowing this from a Christian DJ I heard recently and it may make some people angry but stay with me. There are people out there that are wrong. There are even people out there that are really wrong. In fact, there are people out there who are really, really wrong. The world says hate them and disrespect because of how they are acting. It’s OK to disagree and dislike their words, actions, and thinking but it’s my job as a believer to respect them because just like me, they are fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s not easy but how are they ever going to hear and possibly learn the truth if I don’t show them the love and respect that Jesus did for me. He died for them just like he died for me. As Jesus hung on the cross, He asked His Father God to forgive those who were killing Him. It’s my duty as a believer to respect and love those people who are in some cases might be so wrong and may even be acting disrespectfully.

I guess the important thing, like Aretha says, it’s time to find out what respect means to me when the rubber meets the road.

1 Peter 2:17
Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor.

Each Friday I participate in the FiveMinuteFriday.com hosted by Kate Montaung writing challenge to write for five minutes on a prompt word. Check out other posts from a Christian point of view or maybe even join in.

I’ll include a link to Respect Yourself if you’ve never heard it.

I Love the Smell…

I once again this week failed to write on Monday but it is for an entirely different reason. The title of this post should give you some kind of idea of what prevented me from writing. If you are unfamiliar with the partial quote in the title, it comes from Apocalypse Now, a movie set during the Vietnam War. The quote goes, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” I don’t know about napalm but the aroma of burnt quinoa is an odor that is something far less than desired.

Quinoa, pronounced keen·waa if you needed it like me when you saw how it it spelled, is a rice-like plant that originated in the Andes but supposedly has all these tremendous health benefits over rice. I can honestly attest to the fact that inhaling the vapors of incinerated quinoa is not one of them.

Last night I was planning on grilling pork chops accompanied by corn on the cob that we had purchased at the local farmer’s market, and rice. I have been married to my wonderful wife for almost 34 years now and our thinking must be similar because she had also chosen corn (from a can) but wanted to add a more international flavor to our meal, hence the quinoa. Hey, I thought I was being adventurous by selecting wild rice but since it was easier, I went with her selections. Ever thoughtful, she did start some brown and wild rice cooking on the stove top so that I could have it for lunch at work. Since the rice needed about 45 minutes to simmer, I waited for a bit before I started grilling the pork chops. I threw the chops on the grill so that everything would be ready at the same time. Early in our marriage, I tended to cook dinner more often because I arrived home from work earlier. Sherry was an excellent baker but she will (usually) admit that she is a much better cook now which made last night’s culinary mishap an unfortunate rare occurrence. She inserted the prepared bag of quinoa in the microwave. She either added a digit or the bag was defective. I was blissfully unaware of what was about to occur as I was outside grilling. You know you’re in trouble when your wife’s first words as she comes through the door are “Didn’t you …” . You can complete that with any phrase that might describe something you may or may not have done. In this case, it was completed with “smell the smell coming from the microwave”. Thankfully I was in complete ignorance and more importantly, was not to blame which I made sure to point out. The bag of quinoa had evidently nearly ignited and the resulting odor soon permeated the entire house. I’m unsure of how something that’s supposed to be so good for you could smell so bad. I think I can best describe it as the worst case of burned microwave popcorn combined with what must have reminiscent of the odor of napalm in the morning. We were forced to dine al fresco to avoid it boring holes through our eye sockets. We remained on the patio playing cards to allow the house to air out until we were approaching the point of needing transfusions due to the invasion of countless mosquitoes. The essence of Eau de Blackened Quinoa must provide an irresistible allure to the little critters because I don’t think I’ve ever received more attention from mosquitoes while dining on our patio. The odor of well done Orville Reddenbacher was still rather evident and we either grew accustomed to it or our minds became numb to the fact. I’m unaware of the hallucinegenic properties of extremely well done quinoa and failed to get an answer from the pink polka dotted unicorns I passed in the hallway this morning until they had their coffee. I also discovered another interesting property of overcooked quinoa. Sherry disposed of the offending bag of quinoa in the trashcan in the garage so my car windshield had a film coating it this morning. I wonder if the gel that caused napalm to stick to what it was sprayed on was in fact burnt quinoa.

Sherry is spending the night at our daughter’s home to attend a women’s thing tonight but I fear she may not return until I have eliminated the offensive odor. I guess I need to purchase Febreze in the jumbo economy size if I ever want to see my wife again. Either that or hope that, like napalm, charcoal quinoa is an acquired taste that she will love to smell in the morning.

I wish that the verse for today’s post would have been true last night.

Psalm 115:6

They have ears but cannot hear,
noses, but cannot smell.

Why Some Animals Eat Their Young

Each Friday I participate in the FiveMinuteFriday.com writing exercise to write for five minutes on a prompt word. Today’s prompt word is young.

When I saw today’s word I was like what am I going to write about but then God has a sense of humor and He gave me an inspiration that I didn’t particularly want. It is very ironic that young is the word for the day. It’s ironic because I’m sitting in a line waiting for an emissions test on my car and it reminded me of a time that is the origin of today’s title. All of our kids are grown now but this is from a trip where they were ages about 8,5, and 2. We were traveling from Middle Tennessee to Williamsburg, Virginia, about a 12 hour car trip. For the most part, our kids were pretty good travelers, but then again there was no reason they shouldn’t have been because my wife had plenty of activities and snacks to keep them busy. We also had a TV with VHS tapes of lots of kids videos to keep the peace. I grew up at a time where all we had to keep us busy on long card trips was auto bingo, the license plate game, and staying on our side of the line in the back seat. That’s what made it so difficult to believe that the situation occurred. We were traveling along with everything going smoothly and every body being happy as clams. That is until we got to some road construction in Virginia. To make matters even worse, there was a multi car accident that put traffic at a virtual standstill. It was very stressful and the fact the air conditioner didn’t cool properly because we were sitting still didn’t help matters.

To properly set the table, I probably need to explain that my oldest, a son, is the person that the “I’m not touching you” game had to be based on. Overall he was a good kid but he absolutely loved to tease his younger sisters. For some reason, he decided that it was time to hone his teasing skills. After repeated warnings, he not only didn’t stop but escalated it to what seemed like an all time high. I think that in his mind he believed that the warnings that had been issued were unenforceable since we were stuck in traffic and he was in the back seat. He was about to experience a “don’t make me pull this car over, come to Jesus” moment. My last thought before I broke was that I understood why some animals eat their young. I pulled the car safely off the edge of the road and took a deep breath. I think the thing that amazed me most was that he had the unmitigated gall to actually look surprised. I got him out of the car and we “discussed” the fifth commandment in detail and managed an appropriate attitude adjustment. We got back in the car with my son having a greater appreciation for that fifth commandment and understanding when to stop.

As trying as kids can be at times I’m quite glad that we don’t follow the example of some of the animal kingdom. I love my kids with a passion and am so proud of the adults that they have turned out to be, even my son who loved to push the envelope sometimes.

Joel 2:28

After this I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions

I gave this link so that this will give you an idea what went on in the back seat that day.

What a Mess

I missed writing my normal Monday post because I was too tired to think. I have teased my wife in the past wondering how she could go to sleep so early in the evening but last night I found my head nodding reading a book before 8:00 pm. Going to bed when it’s still light outside, really. What’s next? Will I be on the prowl for all the early bird dinner specials or even worse, is an attire consisting of high waist shorts accessorized with dark socks and sandals looming in my future? I shudder at the thought but a thought did pop into my head just before I drifted off for this post.

Every year we would vacation at my Mom’s parents in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I’ve written before about Papa letting us mow with his riding mower and about his garden. I know everything seemed bigger when you were a kid but I remember Papa’s garden as huge. In actuality, it ran the width along the back half of his property. I can recall picking pole beans and dropping them in a bucket. Papa would always say we needed to pick a mess for supper. When we had completed the row, the bucket was usually filled pretty close to over-flowing. We would then sit under Papa’s carport in rockers or on the swing on the front porch and “snap” the beans. Mama Stripling was a fantastic cook prior to her stroke and as I remember, each mess of pole beans as being some of the best I have ever eaten.

Yesterday, I harkened back to those by gone days as I harvested the first crop of our pole beans. This spring with the advent of the covid-19 crisis, my wonderful wife was doing her best to take care of our family. In an effort to assure that we would have food for the predicted time of want, she purchased mesh pots to plant a container garden. Our patio resembles the Douglas balcony from Green Acres and is filled just about completely with those pots and any available container with an assortment of vegetables and other crops. July in Tennessee is not the optimum growing environment for a container garden as the scorching sun tends to wilt many of the crops unless they are watered multiple times during the day. We even raised our patio umbrella to protect some of the more delicate crops. We are beginning to see a little of the fruits of our labor as I have harvested some cucumbers. The assortment of potatoes we had growing along the back of the house are doing well despite the fact that Gertie, our dog, destroyed two of the “indestructible” pots attempting to rid our yard of a pesky chipmunk. Chip or maybe it’s Dale decided to take up residence in rocks beneath the pots and Gertie decided she needed to forcibly evict him. With that being the case. Sherry moved and even transplanted directly into the ground the potatoes close to the invisible fence boundary at the former home of her roses. She attempted to keep as much soil on the plants according to the growing directions. I don’t have any idea what’s going on beneath the surface but the plot looks to be the home of red, white, and blue potato trees or at least large bushes. Our other little spot of Eden is located along the driveway where we had to eliminate some large burning bushes when we had our foundation repaired. We planted about a six foot row of pole beans. We put up a small stretch of fence for the beans to climb. I’ve been watching the plants and decided that yesterday it was time for the first harvest. I was envisioning a mess of beans for supper but was woefully disappointed when I reached the end of the row and the resulting level in my bucket. How many beans does it take to make a mess? I had way less than the messes we had picked with Papa. Did I have a half a mess or maybe even only a third of a mess? Since there were not any beans left on the vine that would be ready in the next couple of days, I decided to go ahead and fix the little mess of beans that I had. We don’t have a carport like Papa’s so I just snapped the beans in the kitchen. I cooked them southern style which probably removes most of the vitamins but adds lots of taste. They were not as good as the ones I remember Mamaw making but were actually not too bad. We only had enough for myself, my wife, and my daughter so I wasn’t sure if had really made a mess of beans or not. I looked up the origin of the word mess and discovered that it comes from the French word mes that means “a portion of food enough for one meal.” Papa and Mama Stripling would be proud and I can’t wait to pick another mess from our Corona garden.

Psalm 34:8
Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!

What a Difference! (a FMF exercise on smile)

I don’t know about anyone else but one thing I really miss with everyone wearing masks is seeing smiles.

I work in the medical profession and I always try to greet my patients with a smile. Sometimes they are apprehensive about their procedure and a smile can help alleviate some of their apprehension when they realize that I’m not going to bite. A smile can definitely make a difference.

We live in the south. Our town is no longer the little one that we moved to so many years ago but it is still very common to nod and smile at folks when you walk down the street or pass them in a store. When our son was about 4 years old, many years ago now, we were visiting my wife’s grandmother in a northern state which shall remain nameless to protect the innocent. She lived in a small town. I decided to give my wife some time together with her grandmother so I took my son on a walk. As I passed people on the sidewalk or sitting on their porches, I did what I usually did, nodded my head and smiled. I was a little shocked that I received very few smiles back. I didn’t feel very welcomed into the community to say the least. Then we entered a store, while I was checking out, my son asked if he could look at the gum machines and see what prizes were inside. I could see him the entire time so I said it was alright as long as he stood to the side so people could get by. He was always very friendly and talked to everyone but stayed out of the way. An elderly lady was leaving the store and Tyler smiled and said, “Hi.” He was crushed when she yelled at him saying, “You need to get out of my way little boy!” My son asked why was she mad at him. I really didn’t have an answer. I had a negative attitude about that store and the town each time we visited for years because I saw so few friendly smiles.

Another time a smile made all the difference was when my oldest daughter was making college road trips trying to decide where she would go. It was raining when we visited one campus so the mood was a little depressing. To make matters even worse, no one other than our guide smiled or greeted us as we walked around campus. The next day we visited another university. Our guide was very engaging but what made an even greater impression on my daughter was the fact that almost everyone we passed gave us a smile and a nod or wave. Now that wasn’t the reason, she chose that school but she felt welcome and my wife and I felt much more comfortable about her attending there. (Shout out to Tennessee Tech!) I think it made an impression on our youngest because she graduated from there also. A smile made a huge difference in a life decision.

I have seen reports of some people making masks with clear plastic covering the mouth so that people who need to read lips can communicate. If this situation continues a lot longer, I may need to see if my wife, who has sewn hundreds of masks, could make me a clear one. I have sorely missed what a difference a smile can make.

Job 29:24

24 If I smiled at them, they couldn’t believe it;
they were thrilled at[a] the light of my countenance.

For more blogs from a Christian perspective, check out FiveMinuteFriday.com where writers are given a prompt word to write about for five minutes. Today’s word is smile.