Sunday, December 10, 2017

Light Overcomes Darkness




Today was supposed to be my Christmas shopping day.  Instead we are buried in an unexpected eight inches of snow. Georgia and snow don’t go together—too many hills and too few snowplows. After a lengthy power outage, I am back to cooking, washing, and blogging.

* * * * * * * * * *


The familiar Christmas story is most often recounted from the birth narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. A verse tucked into the small book of Titus also tells the Christmas story in thirteen powerful words.  

 “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.” (Titus 1:2)

A definition of Grace was recently posted on Facebook.

“Karma”  You get what you deserve.
“Christianity” Jesus got what you deserve.

Every world religion, except Christianity, is based on Karma.  Do enough good deeds and you can find god and earn salvation.  Christianity turns that idea completely around.  It’s not what you do for God, but what God has done for you. He broke through the darkness of this world when he sent Jesus to be born of a human mother in a lowly stable.  The Bible tells us that he was the perfect Son of God, lived his life without sin, and was filled with grace and truth. That grace is imparted to us when we accept Him as our Savior and Lord.

The celebration of Jesus’ birthday began in an attempt to counter the heresy of Gnosticism—the belief that Jesus wasn’t really born as a human because the material world and flesh are evil. The Gnostics believed since Jesus wasn’t human, he couldn’t have died for our sins and been resurrected for our salvation.  Gnosticism believes that man can find God through knowledge and mysticism. The stories of Jesus’ birth were written down and widely circulated by word of mouth to disprove that heresy.

Happy Nativity Day would have been a common saying among early believers instead of Merry Christmas. The Christ-Mass wasn’t celebrated until the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine around 336 A.D. Jesus probably wasn’t born in December, but the time of the winter solstice (around December 25th) was chosen as symbolic of darkness becoming light. That time of the year was also the time of the Jewish Festival of Lights. And, yes, the pagans celebrated the birth of the sun god during this time of the year. During his earthly ministry, Jesus declared himself “the light of the world.”  That is something worth celebrating.


After two days without electricity, I have a new appreciation for the light overcoming the darkness.  I also have a new appreciation for the over 2,000 year old event that changed the world. Grace appeared when God sent Jesus into the world. I can claim that gift and experience both abundant and eternal life.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Message to Millennials


Socialism and Communism are failed systems.

According to Shawn Langolis, Social Media Director of Market Watch 50% of Millennials—those born between 1982 and 2004— would rather live in a socialist or Communist country than in a capitalist democracy.  What!!!

“The survey, which was conducted by research and data firm You Gov, found that millennials are the least knowledgeable generation on the subject, with 71% failing to identify the proper definition of communism.”

Some millennials indicated their admiration of Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin, and Kim Jong Un. Why have our high schools and universities failed to teach world history and indoctrinated these young minds with fantasies of utopia? I thought when the Soviet Union fell in the 1990s that the failed Communist system failed with it.

One hundred years ago in November, 1917, the Bolshevik revolutionaries led by Vladimir Lenin, took over the Russian government. Thus began five years of Civil War and a tumultuous period in which the workers, soldiers, and peasants took over the reins of government. The end result was a consolidation of power in which Marxism became the law of the land. All private property was nationalized by the government, and so were the banks.  All private bank accounts became the property of the state and all church properties were seized. Control of the factories was given to the soviets.

This revolution set in motion a chain of events that would murder 100 million people in Europe, China, Asia, and other places around the world. Communism not only took lives, but destroyed the dreams of freedom for millions more.

If I could talk to a Millennial who believes in Communism, the first thing I would say is,

“GIVE ME YOUR PHONE.”
Our phones provide freedom of information, freedom of association, access to bank accounts, and apps of every kind that make life entertaining and interesting. Communism will not allow that kind of freedom.
“GIVE ME YOUR BIBLES.”
There will be no religious freedom under Communism. Only the State Church will be legal and atheism will become the official religion. 

“GIVE ME YOUR PROTEST PLACARD.”
No longer will you have the right to protest and demonstrate against the government.  Your individual rights no longer matter and your freedom of speech will be squelched.

“GIVE ME YOUR LIFE.”
You will be required to fight for the fatherland—no voluntary service allowed. Your educational and career paths will be determined by social planners and you can forget about having the money to buy cars, technology, and cool clothes.  Cuba is a good example. Sure your health care might be free, but you will die waiting for quality care.

During this Thanksgiving week, I have much to be thankful for—my faith, my family, my friends, and my country.  The United States of America is not a perfect nation and our capitalistic democracy hasn’t always worked the way it should. Poverty and discrimination are still with us. 

But, I am thankful for a band of Pilgrims who risked life and limb to stake their claim in a new land. They were the original immigrants who came looking for religious and economic freedom. Immigrants still yearn to come to this country for the same opportunities.

I am thankful for the help the Native Americans provided that kept the settlers from starvation. Today we must do more to recognize all races and people who contributed to the success of our melting pot.

Above all let’s teach history—warts and all—to the upcoming generations. Schools need to present a realistic picture of Communism, Socialism, and Capitalism.  If we don’t understand and learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Hallothanksmas


Gibbs Gardens
Hold onto your wallet, hallothanksmas is here.  I can already see my bank account shrinking from the demands of the next two months.

According to the online Urban Dictionary:

“Hallothanksmas is an event running from early October to New Year’s Eve. Due to peoples obsessive need to start the holidays earlier and earlier, the three holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas have merged into one huge morass of shopping.”

As the leaves began turning color in September, I saw it creeping in. The big box stores, drug stores, grocery stores, and department stores started promoting what used to be three separate holidays with                                                        displays of goods competing for shelf space.

Since October 31, I can no longer listen to my favorite Sirrus XM radio station unless I want to be bombarded with endless versions of Jingle Bell Rock and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Both Hallmark channels on cable TV plan to broadcast nonstop Christmas movies until after New Year’s Day. How many ways can a man meet a woman, fall in love, and get married just in time for Christmas?

I am not a Grinch and I enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas too, but the overload can rob me of the joy of the season.  Thanksgiving somehow gets lost in the shuffle between the candy corn and candy canes. It makes me sad because I enjoy that holiday the most.


So how do I cope with hallothanksmas?
  • Try to set realistic expectations. Don’t expect a Norman Rockwell holiday when you know that is not going to happen. Time with family and friends is very important during the holidays. However, trying to accommodate everyone’s schedules and wishes can be very stressful. 
  • Plan ahead and ask for help where needed.  Expect everyone to make a contribution to meals and parties. Set a budget for gifts and other expenses.
  • Count my blessings and thank God every day that we still are able to do many of the things we love to do this time of year.
  • Take care of myself. Keep away from too much junk food, exercise when possible, and get enough sleep.
  • Take time to pray and worship in private and at church so that the spirit of the season can wash over my soul.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Places of the Dead



Halloween is an abbreviated form of “All Hallows Evening,” which is the beginning of a three day celebration called Allhallowtide.  According to Wikipedia, it is “the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.” During our trip to Italy, we visited two sites dedicated to remembering the dead—one Christian and one pagan.

The Roman Catacombs



My studies in Christian history shaped my opinion that the Catacombs around Rome were hiding places used by early Christians to escape Roman persecution. More recent archeological studies have shown that the Catacomb tunnels were dug as burial places for non-pagan believers.  We went to Rome eager to visit this piece of Christian history. Our tour took us outside the ancient Roman walls, into the depths of hand-dug tunnels and labyrinths deep in the ground. The volcanic soil and rock of the region provided the right medium for digging these mysterious caves.

Inside the Catacombs
Pagan Rome was not friendly to Jewish and Christian believers in the first century after Christ. The rich and powerful nobility were entombed after death in magnificent crypts within the city walls of Rome. The slaves and common people of Rome were cremated and their ashes scattered outside the walls. But Christians believed that their resurrected bodies would be called forth from their graves when Christ returned, so they wanted their bodies to be buried intact. The only burial sites available to them were the underground tunnels they dug by hand.


Catacomb Painting
As we descended into the dark abyss, we didn’t know what to expect. Our passage was lit by our guide’s hat lantern as we wound our way single file through tunnel after tunnel.  There were a few places that were more open where our group could gather.  We were told these areas were used by families to share meals with their deceased loved ones.  After thirty minutes underground, I was chilled, spooked, and claustrophobic and couldn’t wait to see the sunlight at the end of the tunnel.  Quite an experience to remember, but not one I want to repeat. 

The Ruins of Pompeii

Pompeii was founded as a resort for the nobility from Rome, since it was close to the Bay of Naples and in view of beautiful Mt. Vesuvius.  The dormant volcano violently awoke in 79 AD, and within twenty-four hours belched millions of tons of volcanic ash, rock, lava, and gas into the southern Italian countryside. The ancient pagan city of Pompeii was smothered by the ash that rained from the sky.  Many of its 20,000 residents heeded the warnings of the rumbling mountain and ran for their lives, but the 2,000 who chose to stay were suffocated and buried alive.
Mt. Vesuvius & Pompeii Ruins
Explorers discovered the site of Pompeii in the late 1500s, but evacuations didn’t begin until 1748. Once the digging began, they discovered the walls, paintings, frescos, and mosaics of a prosperous Roman city preserved by the ash that buried it. After 1600 years, the shapes of bodies encased in ash were still recognizable. Plaster was poured into the shapes to preserve the remains.
  
It was not easy to navigate the rough and winding streets of Pompeii, but what we saw was worth the effort. We could almost picture every day activity as we walked through the remains of the large and colorful homes of the rich and powerful, the shops of the merchants, and the cramped houses of the slaves.  The giant amphitheater that held gladiator competitions and stage performances was well preserved and equally interesting.   

We remembered the dead during our recent trip to Italy as we explored two ancient burial sites. I think I prefer the Americanized version of “All Hallows Evening” as the costumed kids make their rounds saying “Trick or Treat.”







Sunday, October 8, 2017

Our Roman Holiday

It was our trip of a lifetime. For years we talked about travelling to Italy.  In September, it became a reality. We rode on planes, buses, and boats, but the only way to see the sights is on foot. According to Charles’ Fitbit, we logged 95,000 steps during our seven days touring Rome and the Amalfi Coast. 

Our amazing bus driver navigated the free-for-all streets of Rome with the efficiency of a race car driver. Most of the streets have no lane markers, so small cars, mopeds, and buses weave in and out with abandon. On the Amalfi Coast the narrow, winding mountain roads presented another challenge.  On more than one occasion, we participated in the “battle of the buses.” What happens on a sharp curve when two buses meet nose to nose—a game of chicken before they pass each other with six inches to spare?

I’ve always experienced severe motion sickness on buses and boats, so I was very nervous about this trip. My life and trip was saved by an anti-nausea watch and roll on anti-vertigo essential oils. I literally had NO nausea on mountain roads that were like coiled-up snakes, or on boats that rocked and rolled on the waves. The watch—worn on the underside of the right hand stimulates the vagus nerve that controls the balance of the ear canals. What a miracle invention!

Inside the Coloseum
Rome is a fascinating city with three distinct cultures. The deteriorating massive stone structures that defined the ancient civilization of pagan Rome were everywhere. The Colosseum, The Forum of Julius Caesar, The Circus Maximus, and The Pantheon brought back memories from my world history classes. That was the culture of Rome during the early days of Christianity. Apostles Peter and Paul were both martyred at the hands of the Roman authorities for proclaiming Christ and not accepting the Caesars as gods.
Papal Throne at St. Peter's

The Vatican and Catholic culture has dominated Rome since 380 AD. The many beautiful cathedrals and sites we visited were lavishly decorated with frescos and statues commissioned by the Catholic Church during the centuries from 1100 to 1500 AD.  Michelangelo’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel and his sculptures in St. Peter’s Basilica were breathtaking. Our tour guide took us to Vatican Square on Sunday where, at noon, Pope Francis delivered his blessing from the Papal residence. Although we are not Catholic, it was a meaningful experience. 

Today’s modern Rome has many of the features of other European cities—hustle, bustle, and traffic. It is a key member of the European Common Market and an important business, fashion, and financial center.  However, its major business is tourism. We were part of a tour group, but we met several young adventurous folks who were making their own way through Rome and Italy.  I admire their fearless spirit.
The Cold Mediterranean
The View from our Room

We spent our last four days in Italy navigating the Amalfi Coast. The rocky shoreline on the Mediterranean Sea is home to beautiful and quaint cities that climb up the mountainsides. We stayed in an old convent that had been converted to a hotel. It was a delightful base for exploring Amalfi, Positano, the Isle of Capri, and Sorrento. My walking, climbing, and hiking legs got a real workout.




We are still recuperating from jet lag and getting caught up with life here in Acworth.  It’s been good to sleep in our own bed and eat something other than pizza and pasta. As wonderful as it is to travel, there is no place like home.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Him-acanes and Her-acanes


As you can see, I took writer’s license and created two new words to describe the recent hurricanes.  For many years these dangerous storms received only female names.  But today names are alternated so that we have equal opportunity hurricanes.  I feel sorry for Houston. Its fifteen minutes of fame and its massive flooding from Him-acane Harvey is upstaged as 
Her-acane Irma targets the Caribbean and Florida. While watching and waiting for this powerful storm to hit Florida, I read some interesting and random information about Harvey and Irma. 

Harvey and Irma Schulter have weathered the storms of marriage for 75 years.  This couple from Spokane, Washington married in 1942, fostered 100 children during their long-lasting marriage, and taught children in Sunday School for many of those years.  No wonder their marriage has lasted so long.

Everything is political these days—even hurricanes.  From across the pond, actress Jennifer Lawrence pontificates that Harvey and Irma are signs of “Mother Nature’s rage and wrath” at America for electing Donald Trump who doesn’t believe in man-made climate change. I guess she has an “in” with Mother Nature.

Some see apocalyptic signs in the recent eclipse, earthquake in Mexico, wildfires out West, and hurricanes in the Gulf.  “Ahmed Ragab, a professor of Science and Religion at Harvard, argues that there is a good reason some people see doom in what’s going on: The pileup of disasters is affecting people.” (msn.com)

Max Lucado, San Antonio preacher and best-selling author, reminds people that God can be found in the midst of the storms of life. He doesn’t discount the pain people are suffering during the times of devastation, but offers encouragement and hope. (foxnews.com)

“The storm is coming, but God is with us.
Look ahead and chart a path to safety.
Look around and see who you can help.”

As Irma targets the metro Atlanta area, we are preparing for a tropical storm.  New batteries are in our flashlights and extra ice is stored in case we lose electricity from the high winds.  Many in disaster zones will have a long process to rebuild their lives. I am thankful we have a comfortable, dry house and am determined to take nothing for granted in these uncertain days.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Fuzzy Wuzzy is a Bear

A tongue-tangling nursery rhyme goes like this:
Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair,
So Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t Fuzzy
Wuzzy he?


I learned a lot about Fuzzy Wuzzy this past weekend at the Atlanta Christian Writers’ Retreat sponsored by Word Weavers International.  Fuzzy Wuzzy is a bear that I must tame in order to write the kind of book that all of you will want to read.

The marathon retreat weekend provided me and other local writers a great opportunity to improve our craft. I participated in a non-fiction critique group with five other writers.  The Word Weavers rules kept all of us focused and productive.  Nobody likes to have their writing subjected to the opinion of others, but in the end, you produce a much better piece.  Each one brought 2500 properly formatted words.

The guidelines require that each work be read out loud. During the reading and critique, the author of the material must remain silent. Each person who critiques must say something positive about the writing up front, before offering suggestions on structure, grammar, tense, and other elements of good writing.  Another encouraging comment is given at the end, before the next person critiques.
 
I brought two chapters for critique from Charles’ upcoming memoir, Chasing a Whirlwind. It frustrated me to repeatedly hear that many of my paragraphs and sentences were fuzzy and that I was way too wuzzy.  In other words, I need to clean up my act.  Move some paragraphs, reword some sentences, clarify this technical term, and stop using the word “was.” I only used it 88 times! The critiquers definitely had a point. It is a big challenge for me to write a memoir without using past tense.

When it was my turn to critique, I provided some of same advice for my fellow non-fiction writers.  I really enjoyed critiquing their poetry, devotions, articles, and blog posts.  Not only did we all improve our writing during the weekend, but we practiced some important Christian virtues.

Kindness: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:32

Patience: “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” Ecclesiastes 7:8 

Honesty: “Teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth, so that you bring back truthful reports to those you serve.”  Proverbs 22:21

Stillness: “Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong.” Job 6:24


Humility: “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled.” Matthew 23:2

Yes, I learned a lot:
How to improve my writing,
How to accept criticism,

How to gently speak truth.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Great American Solar Eclipse


Georgia has eclipse fever as it anticipates the total eclipse of the sun on August 21, 2017. The Northeast corner of the state will experience 100% darkness as the path of the moon travels between the earth and the sun. We will see close to total darkness in our area as well. Eclipse parties are being planned and some Georgia counties are dismissing schools late or will not have school at all that day. The eclipse will reach its peak at 2:30 in the afternoon when school age kids would ordinarily load on buses to head home.

The last total eclipse of the sun—visible from coast to coast—occurred in 1918 and the next one in 2024 will only be seen in a small section of North America. So this is a once in a lifetime experience for Georgia. Solar eclipse glasses are selling out everywhere, but I did manage to snag a five-pack from Amazon. We are ready if the weather cooperates.

Scientists will take advantage of the eclipse to study the corona of the sun and gain new scientific data about its surface. Scientists in Albert Einstein’s day traveled across Europe to see a total eclipse to validate Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. They were able to take measurements during the eclipse that proved his light bending theory.

In ancient times, solar eclipses were viewed as omens and a foretelling of death and destruction. The Bible tells of several times in Jewish history when total daytime darkness was considered a sign of God’s judgment. In the book of Exodus, a plague of thick darkness lasted three days before Pharaoh set the Hebrews free from Egyptian bondage. On the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, the sun was blotted out from noon to three p.m. The Bible also foretells that the light of the sun and moon will be blotted out during the end times.

The anticipation and preparation for this eclipse reminds me of the frenzy of December 31, 1999 and Y2K. The arrival of the new millennium was supposed to affect the power grid and computers all over the world. People stocked up emergency rations so they could survive for days without electricity and food.  It’s always good to be prepared, but the hype far exceeded the reality.

When the sunlight is blocked for several hours on August 21, it should remind us  that we are not in charge of the heavens or the earth. It will be a good time to reflect, pray, and consider our relationship to God—the One who created it all.  

Psalm 8:3-9

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
         The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him,
         And the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
         And You crown him with glory and majesty!
You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
         You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen,
         And also the beasts of the field,
The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
         Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord,
         How majestic is Your name in all the earth.”



Sunday, July 23, 2017

Come On, Ring Those Bells

“Everybody likes to take a holiday
Everybody likes to take a rest…”
 (Andrew Culverwell)

Everybody also likes a good sale.

An online shoe store promotes “Holly Jolly July.” Amazon Prime Day posts sales to compete with Black Friday—the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season.  The Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas broadcasts two or more weeks of Christmas chick-flicks, along with the introduction of the Keepsake Ornaments for your tree. The home shopping networks lure shoppers with unbeatable offers for Christmas lights and d├ęcor. 

It’s a typical July in Georgia with temperatures for the past week in the 90s, with the heat index in the low 100s. The traditional celebration of Christmas is five months away, but Christmas in July is in full bloom—right along with the back-to-school sales.  Yes, school in the metro Atlanta area starts back on July 31.  But, I digress and will save that discussion for another blog.

The summertime celebration of Christmas didn’t start as a marketing campaign to sell more goods. It originated in churches in the 1940s as a way of collecting goods that would be distributed to worldwide missions. During World War II, the U.S. Post Office coordinated efforts with the Army and Navy and the commercial card industry to send Christmas wishes to those on the battlefield. Sending cards early in the year ensured their delivery by December 25.


When do you celebrate Christmas when you live in the Southern Hemisphere? With the winter months falling in June, July, and August, some countries like Australia and New Zealand promote a July 25th Christmas to enjoy a snowy, cold weather traditional celebration. Like the Northern Hemisphere, they also enjoy the December 25th festivities which fall in the middle of their summer.

In my humble opinion, Christmas can and should be celebrated often and any time you choose—even in July. According to most biblical historians, the arrival of the Christ-child into the world probably didn’t happen on December 25. Snow and ice on the ground in Israel would have prevented the travel of thousands who were told to register for the census in the place of their birth. That’s why Joseph and Mary made the journey to Bethlehem, and Mary delivered the son of God in a lowly stable far away from the comforts of home. The important thing is to rejoice that God sent His Son into the world as a human baby who, thirty-three years later, would give his life on the cross to save us all from our sins.
That is something to celebrate all the time.

“Come on, ring those bells,
Light the Christmas tree, Jesus is the king
Born for you and me.
Come on, ring those bells,
Every-body say,
Jesus, we remember
This your birthday.” 
(Music & Lyrics by Andrew Culverwell, 1970s)




Friday, July 7, 2017

Deep in the Heart of Texas


“The stars at night
Are big and bright
Deep in the Heart of Texas”
Lyrics:  June Heshey
Music:  Don Swander

Mr. & Mrs. Brandon Clark
The lyrics to the popular song from the 1940’s definitely describe the sights and sounds of the countryside surrounding Austin, Texas. We spent four days there celebrating the marriage of our granddaughter, Marcella Davis, to her new husband, Brandon Clark. The small town of Dripping Springs, on the edge of the Texas Hill Country, is the official wedding capital of the state. Surrounded by Live Oak woodlands and rolling hills, the wedding venue was one of 35 located in the area.

Marcella & Brandon built a beautiful flower-covered cross for their ceremony. It was a breathtaking backdrop as they pledged their vows to God and to one another.  The couple graduated from Texas A&M in May, and will live and work in Dallas after their honeymoon. Where have the years gone?  How did we get to be this old? 

While waiting for all the festivities to begin, we toured the Texas state capitol building.  The huge, pink granite facility was very impressive and beautiful.  It was educational to tour the historical legislative chambers, the ornate rotunda, and to check out the portraits and statues of famous Texans.  Davey Crockett, Sam Houston, Audie Murphy, and Presidents George W. Bush and Lyndon Johnson were among the many on display.

The phrase,“You can’t get there from here,” must have originated in Texas.  Both San Antonio and Austin’s interstates are flanked by one way frontage roads. You can often see your destination, but it is a challenge to get there because you can drive only one way, find the road that crosses under the interstate, and then go one way on the other side. To get back to where you started, you have to make another big loop. If it sounds confusing, it is? Charles’ driving nerves and my navigating skills got a real work out.
Texas State Capitol 

Texas is a great state to visit and it was wonderful to spend time with family.  But the tall pines of Georgia, the sultry weather, and the music of the crickets and tree frogs made us glad to come back home again. 



Thursday, June 22, 2017

And We Have Liftoff


Charles & the VBS Rocket
When summer comes, Vacation Bible School is not far behind. Every year our church provides a week long opportunity for boys and girls to learn about the God who created them and Jesus who provided salvation for all mankind. It’s also an opportunity for the adults in our church to use their creative talents to make VBS a fun filled experience for all the children who attend. The theme of this year’s VBS is:

Maker Fun Factory—Created by God, Built for a Purpose

To support that theme, Charles was asked to build a rocket ship for the display at the front of the sanctuary. Asking an aerospace engineer to build a rocket is like asking a nerd to build a computer. You can bet that the new creation will be the biggest and best with all the bells and whistles and lots of bragging rights.

His steps for building the rocket were as follows:
  • Sketch a design on an industrial paper towel in the basement workshop.
  • Brainstorm how to transform the design into an actual rocket.
  • Visualize the components. Where could we find a tall cylinder, a nosecone, a set of fins, and something to simulate the engine and lights? 
  • Take scouting trips to Home Depot, Walmart, and the Dollar Tree to look for potential components.
  • Make more trips to Home Depot to get various glues, drywall putty, screws, paint, etc.
  • Spend every off hour, evening, day, and weekend assembling the perfect rocket.

After all that work, the rocket couldn’t just stand there, it HAD to do something!  So Charles worked with others at the church to create a recorded launch sequence accompanied by a loud drum roll:  “10/9/8/7/6/5/4/3/2/1 All Engines Running, We have liftoff, We have liftoff.”   Each countdown is accompanied by simulated smoke coming from a fog machine.

The kids yell the countdown and the rocket blasts off each morning at 9:00 AM announcing the start of another great day of Bible School. Just as the boys and girls were created by God and built for a purpose, that rocket is fulfilling its purpose during this week of VBS.

One final question remains – “What do you do with a used rocket when VBS is over?” 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

One Hundred Years From Now


Charles and I have a saying that we often use when we are having a difficult day or thinking about an unsettling future.

“One hundred years from now, what difference will it make?”  

Somehow that puts things in perspective. As Christians, we believe in 100 years we will be rejoicing in Heaven, and that our earthly concerns will no longer matter.

A lot of scientists predict that 100 years from now, life on earth will be vastly different.  Some of the predictions are too fantastic to comprehend, while others are more realistic. After all in the early 1900s, it was predicted that we would travel in electric trains and mobile homes and communicate via video chatting.  Others believed, however, it was just a matter of a few decades before mankind would domesticate mutant seahorses and whales for overseas travel.

I put the latest futuristic warning by Stephen Hawking in the same category as supersonic seahorses and whales. Hawking is the Director of Research at the Center for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. He believes Earth will become uninhabitable because of overpopulation, climate change, disease, and artificial intelligence.  In 2016 he predicted that process would take 1,000 years, but in 2017 he decided we only have 100 years to flee the planet for colonies on the Moon and Mars.  Sorry, Mr. Hawking—I’m not buying it.  I know I’m not a scientist, but wouldn’t all those same issues follow people wherever they lived?  I also believe the sun’s radiation and lack of oxygen would present a few problems, too.


Samsung, the giant electronics company, in its Smart Things Future Living Report made some exciting predictions about life in 100 years. Underwater cities, personal flying drones, 3-D printing of houses, furniture, and gourmet meals will all become a reality by 2117. Yay! No more cooking.




My favorite prediction is from an online report found on Fox News Lifestyle—an exercise pill. Take the pill and get all the benefits of working out without breaking a sweat. If I’m around, I will invest in that stock.


I’m all for progress, but that can’t change the selfish nature of the human heart. One hundred years from now, people will still need a right relationship with God in order to find peace within and without.  Hebrews 13.8 tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” The Bible also tells us that Jesus will one day return to this earth to claim His own. So whether it’s 1000 or 100 years from now, we need to be ready.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

It's Time to Dance

May is one of my favorite months. The weather is still on the cool side and the deluge of pollen is over for the season. It’s also a month for me to celebrate two anniversaries.  May 12 is my liver transplant anniversary (19 years and counting).  It’s hard for me to remember the desperate state of my health before I received my second chance at life.  I’ve had my issues since that momentous day, but I have been blessed beyond measure with more good days than bad and the ability to live my life to the fullest.

This month I also celebrate my 5th year as a blogger on  this    site-
Too Two Late Bloomers. When I launched  in May 2012, I had no idea I’d still be posting blogs five years later.  I thought I would have run out of ideas long ago.  Through prayer, internet research, and people watching the ideas continue to come.  Thank you for encouraging me to keep writing.

May is also a month to dance! Dancing around the Maypole was popular in Europe, Germany and England.  Children and young ladies with ribbons intertwined danced around a flower decorated tall pole on May 1 to celebrate the arrival of spring. I remember doing something similar in PE back during my school days.

Celebrate Tap Dance Day on May 25.  My late bloomer husband, Charles, has fond memories of tap dancing with his father as a child.  His dad performed in stage shows in and around the Memphis area.  This day was created in honor of the birthday of legendary tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson on May 25, 1878.

Maybe you’d rather Dance like a Chicken.  Yup, this special dance is honored every year on May 14th.  This is a popular group dance at weddings and other special celebrations.  It really warms up the crowd and gets people in the swing of things.

With our granddaughter’s wedding only six weeks away, Charles & I decided to brush up on our dancing skills by taking a couple of lessons.  We met at a singles’ dance 21 years ago and danced a good bit when we were first married.  We have both gotten older and rusty, but with a little help we were able to pick up the basics of the Foxtrot, Waltz, Rumba, and Swing.  It’s great exercise and it gets us away from the computer and TV.  We will not, however, audition for Dancing with the Stars.

Dance can also be a part of our worship of God if done in a God honoring manner.  “Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp.” Psalm 149:3 Dancing in the Bible is usually accompanied by singing and praise as an expression of worship.

So put on your dancing shoes and celebrate the month of May. 





Thursday, April 27, 2017

My First 100 Days




All the talk in Washington and on Cable TV News this week is about President Trump’s First 100 Days.  This political benchmark is an attempt to hold the President and Congress accountable for what they accomplished during this artificially imposed time period. The pundits and historians will analyze and debate their record for days and years to come.

My first 100 days of 2017 has flown by in a whirlwind.  I can’t believe May is next week.  So I have to ask myself what I have accomplished during almost one-third of 2017.  It’s sobering to look back at my productivity. I am very thankful that no newspaper article or news show will critique my accomplishments.

Since New Year’s Day I have been blessed with 16 weeks or 2400 hours of time.  That calculates to 144,000 minutes which according to the Bible is a perfect number. (See Revelation 7 & 14)  I spent one-third of that time sleeping which left me with 1600 hours to be productive.  So what have I done?
  • Four weeks were spent helping Charles through his carotid artery surgery and recovery.
  • It was not easy to shop for an appropriate grandmother-of-the bride dress and shoes for Marcella’s wedding. It took a lot more time than I expected.
  • Grocery shopping and cooking demanded a lot of time and attention. 
  • I washed at least 80 loads of dirty clothes and ironed lots of shirts.
  • My duties at our office claimed two days of each week.
  • Several days were spent editing and adding to the manuscript for Charles’ memoir.
  • Two days were spent at our tax accountant’s office preparing our personal and business tax returns.
  • I know I spent too much time watching television and surfing the net.
  • I spent several hours in the dentist chair so that doctor “drill & fill” could do her work.
  • It was a privilege to speak twice at women’s luncheons where I shared my testimony about God’s Amazing Gift of Second Chances.
  • Church activities and quality time as a couple and with our children and grandchildren filled in the remaining hours.

The stuff of life is very time consuming. The demands of the busy overshadow my efforts to rest, relax, and recharge. My personal critique is that I haven’t spent enough quiet time in prayer and reflection. It is very difficult for me—and I imagine most people—to find the balance between productive work and a quiet time with the Lord.


My best times are when I count my blessings and pray for needs of people who are experiencing difficult times. Other times of reflection come when I consider a blog topic and what to write. I feel the Lord’s presence as I share my life and offer encouragement to you.  Please comment below and tell me how you find the balance in your life between busyness and quietness.
.