Stop Barking!

January 29, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Jodi Whisenhunt –

Mine is a three-dog family. The neighbors to our west are a two-dog family; to our south, one-dog; southeast, another three-dog home. Our adjoining backyards are bound by six-foot tall, wood-slat privacy fences. However, none of these nine guardians believes those fences adequate security from the mangy mongrels on the other side, so they insist on barking and snarling and gnashing their teeth at each other, unseen adversaries that they are.

Many times I have pleaded with my poochies, “Seriously, dogs! You’ve been neighbors for years. Stop trying to eat each other through the fence!” To which the two little Germans respond with a smug dachshund look and the Aussie blue heeler’s hair stands higher on her shoulders. (If you haven’t spent much time around dachshunds, just imagine a teenager being reprimanded. OK, you now know the look I’m talking about!) With a farewell gnashing of teeth, my three usually cower to my bidding and saunter back inside.

Now, you would think after many years of residing in close proximity, that these animals—a species known for its scent recognition skills—would be quite familiar with each other. But no, each encounter is a new and fresh adrenaline rush, littering the air with loud shrills. And each time, I shake my head and think my dogs are like Pooh, “a bear of very little brain.” I love my dogs, but they cannot seem to love their neighbors. They continue to consider them enemies.

As humans, we are called to love both our neighbors and our enemies. Yet sometimes we do no better than these dogs.

Matthew 5:43 says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’” Many people stop right there and ignore verses 44-48. They find fault with their neighbor, whether the neighbor be a nearby resident or a regular acquaintance, and they camp out in resentment. They disregard the remainder of Christ’s advice, “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Do not smile and wave if inwardly you resent. Do not feign friendship, then slander when out of earshot. “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:18). Stop sneering through the knot holes. “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink” (Romans 12:20). And above all, love one another.

Hands Full of Rocks

November 4, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Jodi Whisenhunt –

My oldest child’s passion for cars began in infancy. Kyle loved anything with wheels, really. As a toddler, he played with vacuums, even had his own toy Dirt Devil. He knew who had what color sweeper and where it was kept. If we went to Grandma S’s house, he’d head straight for the hall closet and drag out her red Hoover. A visit to Grandma W’s meant a whirl with a white Eureka. Of course, by the time he got big enough to actually use one, he lost all interest. Now, Hot Wheels were another story.

At one point, my son had over 1,200 Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars and like models. Believe it or not, very few were duplicates. Many were unique, like the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile and several authentic D.A.R.E. replica police cars. He had an entire field of NASCARs. He could host his own Daytona 500!

One day our little family browsed a local shopping venue that opens one weekend per month. (OK, it’s a flea market!) Anyway, Kyle tooled along in his stroller while Mom and Dad perused the booths. At one point, he bent over and scooped up a handful of white rocks that lined the path. In typical little boy fashion, he was content to play with dirt. He admired each stone, knocked them together, guarded them. Kyle was so busy with his hands full of rocks he did not notice Daddy purchase something special. When Daddy turned around, he held a shiny schoolbus in his hand. Kyle immediately threw his hands down and forgot all about the rocks that only moments before had captivated him. He exchanged dusty gravel for a much more valuable gift from his father.

Are your hands full of rocks this Easter season? Are you holding on to something that may beautiful in its own right, but that diverts your attention from the gift your heavenly Father is holding out to you? Maybe your something is not so beautiful. Maybe the boulder you carry is so big it obscures your vision. Throw it down! Empty your hands and reach up with unhindered delight to grab hold of the free gift of salvation. I promise it’s of much greater value than anything this world can offer.

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen!” (Mark 16:4-6 NIV)

Shouldn’t I Be Scrubbing Toilets?

October 7, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Jodi Whisenhunt –

The end of the month was fast approaching. That meant deadlines. Several deadlines. So I faced the blank computer screen and dared it to a staring match. It won.

There I sat. Fingers finally glided over the keyboard. Backspace, backspace, backspace. No, that’s no good. Typing frenzy #2. Better. A few keeper sentences, but something nagged the back of my mind. I checked Facebook. Hmm, nothing going on there. OK, back to work.

A few paragraphs were complete. I read back over them and smirked at the computer. Perhaps it had not won our contest after all. Alas, the article required more, so I stared at the screen again, when a sudden thirst overwhelmed me. I felt as though I’d traversed the dessert with not a drop to drink. I downed cool water to refresh my parched mouth, then returned to my seat with renewed vigor. (A march across the dessert is very inspiring, you know!)

Alrighty, back to task. Write, write, write. Done. Right? No, backspace, backspace, backspace. Sigh. Shouldn’t I be scrubbing toilets?

Have you ever had moments like that? Moments when you know you need to get your work done, but you just don’t want to do it? Moments when you’d rather do anything, anything—even scrub toilets—to avoid the job at hand? What do you do in those moments?

Here’s what I have done. First, I have made a commitment to the Lord that in all I do, I want to glorify Him. I desire to live my life in a way that pleases Him. I want every decision I make, every action I take, every word I write, every breath I breathe to be what God desires. I don’t want to get in His way, because when I do, I stumble and struggle.

Second, I pray. First Thessalonians 5:17 says to pray continually, or pray without ceasing. I must be diligent to do just that. I must make a conscious effort to stop and pray before I ever sit down to write or perform any dutiful task. I know the Lord has blessed me with desire and ability, and I must use it for His purpose. I will be useless in all areas if I do not seek Him first in all I do.

Matthew 6:33 says to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Jesus promises that if I do that, He will give me the things I need and perhaps some blessings I hadn’t requested as well. If I seek the Lord first in prayer and devotion, He will reward me with countless ways to glorify Him.

As my writing endeavors turned out, I decided scrubbing toilets wasn’t worth it. So I sat back down, BIC as they call it (bottom in chair), sent up a silent word of prayer, and finished the article you are reading right now. Take that, you rascally computer!

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

I Hab a Code

August 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Jodi Whisenhunt –

Achoo! Bless me. I mean, excuse me. I hab a code, er, I have a cold. It’s a good thing I don’t use voice recognition software right now, because I hardly have a voice, and what does squeak out is a bit jumbled. The computer would likely transcribe it in Jabberwocky. You know, “’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; / All mimsy were the borogoves, / And the mome raths outgrabe.”

When I was in high school, I wrote a research paper on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking Glass, focusing on the books’ oddities and their real life parallels. Back in those days, word processors were brand new and very expensive. We lived on my mom’s single-parent income, so I had to rely on my trusty typewriter to prepare assignments.

As I typed my first draft, I chose not to hit “backspace.” I just kept on going even when I knew I’d made an error. That drove my internal editor crazy, but I persevered until I finished the task. Then, I sat back and read it aloud and laughed until I cried. The whole thing was Jabberwocky!

I considered turning the paper in as it was. I thought surely the teacher would appreciate my efforts to authenticate the theme by speaking Carroll’s own language, but in the end, I chickened out and handed in a clean, error-free version. I guess I made the right decision, because that one scored an A+.

I’m just so glad the Lord understands me no matter how I sound. I may hab a code, I may type without backspacing, I may mumble, stammer or “uh,” but my heavenly Father knows what I mean. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26-27 NIV). Look, “…the Spirit himself…groans,” and the Lord gets it.

Of the Jabberwocky poem, Alice replied, “Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don’t know exactly what they are!” But you know what? Whether I speak English, Spanish, French or Jabberwocky, I can rest in confidence my Lord knows exactly what I am saying and that my prayers are heard.

Down…Set…Hut!

July 8, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Jodi Whisenhunt –

Some say life is like a roller coaster zooming full speed through loop-de-loops, up steep hills, then down and backward with herky jerks and lilting hills. And it can be. Often is, come to think of it. But I view life more like a game of football.

If you’re the offense, you control the game. Let’s say you’re the quarterback. You call the plays. You determine who’s open and able to catch what you throw their way. Or perhaps you hand what you carry to a teammate. You entrust valuable cargo to his sturdy grasp. You depend on him to carry it through a minefield of aggressors and across the goal line. Sometimes it takes several attempts to get where you aim to go. Sometimes you need to call an audible and change the play on the fly. You need referees to moderate sticky situations. You rely heavily on your pals to protect you. Yet often you’re knocked flat on your back. Sometimes you even lose your bearings or suffer injury. Some games find you victorious; others see you fail.

If you’re the defense, your job is to stop your opponent’s forward progress because their progress means your defeat. Whether you’re a solid, stable defensive tackle or a quick, fleet-footed cornerback, your goal is to keep the other team from achieving their goals, lest you meet destruction.

If you’re the ball, now that’s most like a roller coaster. You’re constantly tossed about, unstable. You may have direction but not always go the distance. Sometimes you’re fumbled, knocked around, fought over. For a while you head downfield one direction, then you’re handed over to the other team who runs you the opposite way. You’re kicked, batted, grabbed…held close, valued, celebrated. It’s a veritable storm of upheaval.

As rough and tumble as life’s game can be, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Peter 5:7-9).

Be strong in the Lord. Remember He is on your side: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31b). So call the audible, block the charge, catch the “hail Mary,” and run toward victory in Jesus.

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