The Preacher Who Put the Arson in Parson

February 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Connie Cavanaugh –

When my new husband took his first pastorate in a northern village, he thought he’d ignite some spiritual fire in the community. He went way beyond that.

The church’s parsonage perched atop a hill overlooking a lake. Gerry kept the lawns trimmed but the rocky slope below our bay window was impossible to mow. The grass and weeds were an unsightly tangled mess that marred the beauty of our lake view so I suggested that Gerry find a way to clean it up.

He watched our neighbor burn off his tall grass early in spring before the snow melted under the fence that encircled his property. Quick to recognize a good idea, Gerry planned to copy him. But it wasn’t until several weeks later, after a hot, dry spring that Gerry finally had a chance to tend to my nagging. He decided to surprise me for my birthday.

Off to work I went on the thirty-first of May, the day before my birthday, oblivious to what lay ahead. In the late afternoon, I returned to a vacant house filled with unsettling clues. A trail of sooty water marred the white linoleum between the front door and kitchen sink. A melted, misshapen plastic blob near the door, on closer inspection, turned out to be the charred remains of my garbage can liner – a wedding gift from a dear friend. A blackened soggy pile of rags beside the sink was all that remained of my colorful handmade heirloom throw rug from Auntie Ada. I was alarmed and upset.

I headed back outside where I spied a garden hose snaking over the lip of the hill toward the lake. I ran to the crest of the hill. Blackness! All the way to the lake, to the edges of our property and dangerously beyond, the ground was still smoldering.

Halfway down the hill, slumped atop a boulder holding a dribbling hose was what appeared to be a chimney sweep from Mary Poppins.

“Caawww-neee,” Gerry hallooed, giving a feeble wave. “I can’t leave my post. Come down.” I minced my way over the scorched earth, tottering on three-inch heels. My bedraggled spouse’s smoke-reddened eyes darted in all directions. He kept whirling around, shooting pitiful spurts at puffs of smoke. There were so many burn holes in the hoses a well-aimed spit would have had more volume.

The harrowing tale unfolded. Midmorning he had decided to clean up that unsightly grass as my birthday surprise. Just like our neighbor, he had matches and a cold drink. (The missing factor was the snowpack around the perimeter!) Always in a hurry, Gerry thought he’d speed things along. He fetched the can of gasoline. After pouring a line of gas along the top of the hill, he tossed a match. Kaboom!

He managed to save our house before he ran for help.

Five elderly women—the only people he found at home—and he waged a furious battle to subdue the runaway inferno that threatened to consume our village. The not-so-volunteer ladies’ brigade plunked Gerry on that rock with strict instructions to “Stay there, young man, and keep a sharp eye. Or else!”

“I’m starving,” Gerry lamented.

I headed uphill to fetch a sandwich and found my neighbor Florence on my verandah. Her hair was still wet from the shower and she had a glass of whisky, straight up, in one hand.

“What is it with you Baptist preachers and fire?” she asked, waving her empty hand. “The last guy did the same dang thing!”

The Tell

February 5, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Carol Barnier –

Sometimes you see something about an individual and it just speaks volumes to you about this person. For example, there’s this guy with devil’s horns imbedded under the skin of his skull. Now looks can be incredibly deceiving. I know that. But my first instinct when I see this guy is to think he probably doesn’t do scrapbooking. Or sell Amway. Or vote Republican.

Or Democrat.

Or any of the first ten possible party affiliations on any standard college political science list.

Maybe after Republican and Democrat and Independent and Green and Socialist and Communist. . .way down there, there’s this Beelzebub Wannabe Caucus that he’s shooting for. I don’t know. But ya gotta be careful. You can be really wrong about assumptions. He could run a preschool daycare program for indigent immigrants for all we know.

However, sometimes you just know you’re spot on.

There was this woman at my church. She was really new and had already volunteered to help us with VBS. I didn’t know her at all but she and I were asked to move some boxes from the furnace room in the basement up to the classrooms. So off we go. In she trots to this little furnace room, squats down to pick up a couple of the boxes, and when she does her jeans drop down a bit in the back. Now these were not those low rise puppies that descend so frighteningly that you’re suddenly reminded Crack kills. No. These were perfectly respectable jeans. Godly jeans. Jeans I might even wear. But out the back, like a kite set free to the wind, was a big old tag. To me it indicated two things.

1.) She wore granny panties that went all the way up to the top of her jeans and clearly covered every square inch of her behind and then some. No hip hugger, bikini cut, or heaven-forbid dental floss look to these puppies. These undergarments were THERE. . .and they were standing their ground.

2.) But the second thing it indicated, given tag’s current position, was that this woman’s underwear was inside out. Perhaps she’d dressed that morning in the dark, unaware of the current orientation of her undergarments. Perhaps she was fully aware of their reversed status but needed to get out the door to a waiting van full of her loving family. Or perhaps she saw that the underwear was inside out and she simply didn’t care. She couldn’t be bothered using her remaining brain cells and limited time on such fripperies as correctly oriented underwear.

And what could I determine from this littlest snippet of information about this woman?

I liked her.

Probably a lot.

We might even be soul mates.

I’m pretty sure there’s a chapter in the Bible on women like us—women who put no stock in outer appearance or apparel, women who look to serve, even in the dusty dungeons of the church furnace rooms. I know it’s not Proverbs 31 because there you’ll find quite a bit of pressure to have beautifully dressed family members wearing lots of scarlet and purple. There’s much weaving and storing up for the winter. Maybe the scripture I’m seeking has more to do with the verse I have painted on my laundry room wall. While other women might approach their laundry, look upon those many piles of soiled and dirty clothes with great pain and resignation, I just glance up at my verse, and find peace, inspiration and grace every time.
What’s it say?

“They were naked, and they were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:25)

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.

Connecting the Dots

January 24, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Dawn Wilson –

Sometimes it’s hard for me to connect the dots of my life in the moment. One example of this disconnect occurred a few years ago while traveling in Paris with my husband, Bob, his sister, Jan, and her husband, Tom.

After several days of taking in many of the lovely sites around the city, we decided to visit the Eiffel Tower. There, near the top of the tower, I pointed out some of the places we’d visited days before: The Louvre museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysées.

But then I got frustrated. I moved along the railing slowly, all around the inner platform of the tower. I looked near and far, and started pointing and naming the sites again. “There’s the Louvre,” I said to my brother-in-law, “and there’s the Arc, and there’s the Cathedral … but where’s the Eiffel Tower?”

Tom’s mouth dropped open. “Dawnie,” he said with a chuckle, “You’re on it!”

As everyone around me burst into laughter, including a Frenchman who exclaimed, “Oh, you silly American!” I blushed to the bone! It was one of those “duh” moments when I didn’t connect the dots.

I find that this is sometimes true in my spiritual journey with God. I get so focused on looking around at the circumstances in life, or the culture or my own ambitions, and I lose sight of where and whose I am. I forget that I am secure in the family of God, with my identity and purpose firmly in Christ.

God spoke to me about this through Colossians 3:2. In The Message, this scripture reads, “Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.” In other words, look to Jesus, and He will help you connect the dots!

If our vision is not God-ward, our perspective may be skewed. In practical terms, our financial needs truly aren’t about the money; they are about whether we will look to our heavenly Provider. Our marital struggles aren’t about our spouse’s inadequacies or hang-ups; they’re about living biblically and learning to love, respect, and serve our spouse.

God desires that we will seek His perspective and then, gaining wisdom, trust Him for the outcome. Though we may not fully comprehend His will or the purposes in each situation—His thoughts and ways are beyond us (Isaiah 58:8)—we know that He will use our circumstances to conform us to the image of Christ so that we can ultimately bring honor to His name.

The simple truth is, connecting the dots of life begins when we connect with our Heavenly Father in prayer and in the Word, asking Him to open our hearts and minds and show us His will and ways.

He’s Got Your Back

January 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Liz Cowen Furman –

Last summer we decided that our house was in serious need of staining. I borrowed a power washer from a painter friend who said it would be better than sanding. So to prep the siding for a new coat of stain, I set out to “wash my house”. I closed all the windows tight so I no water would go in through the cracks.

The machine was amazing. It removes paint at 15 feet; get closer at full blast and you will be erasing the siding. It took me a few minutes to get used to it; I blew out a few light bulbs on porch lights. But after doing the bottom half of our house from the ground I felt like I could do anything. I wanted to have the whole house done before my husband got home from work to surprise him.

I enlisted the assistance of my teenaged son to help me get the washer set up on the roof and myself up there. He went into the house and I began my work. Just as I was finishing a thunder storm rolled over the hills and the lighting was heading my way.

The roof was very wet now and getting on the ladder without someone to hold it didn’t seem safe. But neither did standing on my roof like a lightning rod. So I did what any self-respecting person would do, I started hollering for my son to come out and help me get off the roof. Because I had closed down the house tighter than a drum, he could not hear me. I pounded on the only window I could reach from that particular roof portion. No answer. I yelled. No answer. I screamed. No answer. I am sure the neighbors and all of the front-range could hear me but not Martin. Since we live in the mountains above Denver, a summer storm also usually means a drastic drop in temperature. So there I was drenched to the bone from my washing, frozen in the cold as the storm rolled in. Lightening crashed, thunder rolled, I shivered. After yelling myself out I sat against the side of the building and waited.

While I was sitting up there I watched the storm roll over the mountain and I prayed. I was reminded of the saying, Sometimes He calms the storm and sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child. That vantage point provided the best view of a thunderstorm I have ever witnessed. It was beautiful, powerful, and a bit scary. But as I prayed a peace washed over me like the rain coming across the valley.

I knew I was going to be ok so I just sat and waited. I am ever amazed that over and over again God shows me that He is in control and He’s got my back. And He has yours too. So you might as well relax and enjoy the ride. Even if you are shivering.

Once it started to rain, Martin remembered I was out there and came running out to see if I was ok. I got off the roof safely and he made me a cup of hot tea. And the house was clean before my husband got home from work. So it is; another example of what my Mom always says…Things have a way of working out.

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