The Humbled Hunter and Gatherer

May 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Connie Cavanaugh –

In Canada the busiest shopping day of the year isn’t the day after Thanksgiving, it’s Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. Boxing Day sales are legendary. Lately Boxing Day has become Boxing Week. Some money hungry businesses now promote Boxing Month!

A few years ago, long before dawn on a clear, cold Boxing Day, my husband, Gerry, headed for Future Shop, an hour’s drive away. He found an empty parking lot when he arrived at 5:30 a.m.

“I’ll be first in line!” he thought. Taking a chance, he sped off in search of a large java to keep him warm while he waited for the doors to open at eight a.m. That was a strategic error, bumping him to third place. He leapt out of his warm car into the Arctic blast of a winter morning and ran to line up outside the locked doors.

Gerry knew there were exactly three TV’s at this store for $499 — a saving of $200. The first three customers to physically lay hands on them could buy them. Gerry sized up the two guys in front of him and asked what they were buying, “the TV” they replied in unison. They looked fit. And young. And fast. Gerry hopped from foot to foot.

Standing in line for over two hours after a large coffee only increased the intensity of his hopping. He read his pocket Bible in an effort to take his mind off his urgent need to “hop.” Hundreds more bargain hunters lined up as the minutes ticked by.

When the doors were flung wide Gerry took off like a shot. He got his hand on the third and last TV without hurting anyone or compromising his Christian witness.

“Belated Merry Christmas!” He hollered when he got home, catching us all by surprise. The kids went nuts. We set up the new TV in the family room.

Every few minutes Gerry gave a low whistle, “We saved $200.” He couldn’t wipe the grin off his face. He watched sports all day.

That evening, we rented two movies, made popcorn, poured drinks and hunkered down. The proud hunter-and-gatherer doused the lights. It was pitch dark. He reached for the remote that rested atop the TV, beside his drink. He miscalculated.

Crash. Tinkle. Fizzle. Zot! Sparks flew out of the back of the TV. I rushed for the lights. Within seconds, there was a gradual dimming of sound and pretty soon, no sound at all. The color went sickly green and fuzzy before the screen went black. Gerry’s grin slid off his face, but not for long.

Ever the optimist, always the preacher, he burst out laughing. “Now I get it!” he chuckled. We were all ears when he quoted the verse from Corinthians he had read mid-hop that morning: “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

The disappointed kids didn’t see the humor or appreciate the lesson as much as we did, but they listened.

“Boxing Day sales come and go,” Gerry reminded us. “And we can get pretty smug about the great deals we find. In fact, it’s pretty easy to get all puffed up with our latest great accomplishment, no matter what it is. But God wants us to remember that whatever’s good in us comes from Him. Everything else dims pretty quickly in comparison with knowing Him.”

We opened up the games cupboard and spent a great evening laughing and enjoying each other.

Oh, and by the way, we were able to get the TV repaired. The cost? You guessed it — $200.

Just the Right Gift

May 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

I have to tell you, I’ve seen some pretty ghastly Christmas gift disasters over the years. Shouldn’t there be a buying guide that lists what not to buy? Sort of an “un-buying guide”?

For women I think the un-buying guide should include anything that even remotely resembles a power tool. Vacuum cleaner bags—also a bad idea. Even the lavender scented ones. Another bad gift idea for women? A gift membership to the Guerilla Weight-loss Center. I’m pretty sure we should also include the special satellite sports-a-rama package.

And while I confess I’m not the final authority when buying for men, I think I can spot a few of the obvious gifts to avoid for them, too. The Basket-weaving Instruction Trilogy on DVD, for instance. Bunny jammies with feet? Probably a bad idea. I’m thinking a Martha Stewart action figure would leave something to be desired, as well as the book, It’s Okay to Cry: Expressing Your Feelings through Exploring Your Emotions.

When shopping for men, it’s usually a good idea to find something with a huge, florescent warning label that says bodily harm is imminent. If the gift can maim, cause vision loss or singe eyebrows, we’ve got a winner. If it comes with a remote, you might see him tear up.

But if you were shopping for Jesus, what do you suppose would make the perfect gift? I’m convinced I know exactly what He wants. He wants—you! And He wants you to know Him. One way we can do that is through connecting with Him in prayer. He wants us to spend time with Him—quality time.

Jesus told us we need private times of prayer. He gave us these great how-to instructions in Matthew 6:5-13: “Also when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward in full already. But when you pray, go into your most private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open. And when you pray, do not heap up phrases, multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (AMP) Then he gave us the Lord’s prayer.

Our Father doesn’t want to be ignored. He doesn’t want just a show of prayer either. He desires sweet, sincere times of communication where we join our heart and will to His through experiencing Him in a fresh closeness. It’s absolutely astounding that when we give that gift of quality time to Jesus, we find it actually becomes an extra delightful gift for ourselves. Now there’s a gift!

The membership to the Guerilla Weight-loss Center? You can keep that one.

O Holy Night

May 17, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Liz Cowen Furman –

How do you picture Mary, Jesus’ Mother?  My entire life I have been surrounded by folks who nearly put her on the same level with Jesus. I could never relate to such a perfect, annoyingly sweet pious woman who, appeared to me to be unreal, with no spunk.  One who showed up every Christmas in her blue robes and made me feel inadequate.

Several months ago, I was asked to be the speaker for my church’s Taste of Christmas Tea. I began praying immediately about what God would have me share. Every time I prayed I felt led to speak on Mary. UGH! I argued with Father. “LORD, couldn’t I speak on Mary Magdalene instead?”

That other Mary is someone I can relate to. A sinner, she had blown it, she had disobeyed God yet He redeemed her. Great hope in that story. But nope, He wouldn’t let me go there.

I decided if He wanted me to talk on Mary I needed to do serious research. So I went online and found much on Mary. Most confirmed what I had always thought about her. I was sad.

A dear friend (oddly enough with the same name as Jesus’ Mom) pointed me to a book by Marjorie Holmes called Two from Galilee. She assured me I would never look at the manger the same again. She was right, it was wonderful. A must read.

I read the gospel accounts so many times I have them memorized. Perusing online I purchased every book I could find about Mary and dove in. The best was titled, The Real Mary by Scot McKnight. What I discovered about Mary made her into my new best friend.

Jesus’ mother was no doormat. She was an ordinary young woman whom God called to do a job for Him. A faithful, courageous, dangerous woman of witness whose life I now can really relate to and aspire to emulate.

Mary was a woman of faith because when God called on her to do a seemingly impossible task for Him she said “yes” and let Him work out the details. She trusted God.

She was a courageous woman because she could have been stoned or divorced, she could and probably was ostracized. So would her baby for being illegitimate. Yet, she still answered His call on her life with a yes and trusted Him to protect them.

At some points in her journey she must have thought, “O Holy Night, what have I done?” Because God didn’t promise following Him would be easy, just that He would see us through.  Imagine five days on a donkey’s back in the wind and heat nine months pregnant.  That must have been fun.

Mary was dangerous because when she arrived at Elizabeth’s house and her calling was confirmed she broke into song.

In the Magnificat (found in Luke chapter 1), Mary’s words to Elizabeth, were tantamount to treason against the king (one who had members of his own family murdered if he perceived them as a threat).

McNight showed me that when she sang “God has brought down rulers from their thrones“, hearers would have immediately seen the implications for Herod and Rome. When she announced “God has sent the rich away empty” hearers would have immediately thought of those benefiting from the heavy taxation.

When Mary proclaimed “God has lifted the humble” and “has filled the hungry with good food” folks would have known it was meant for the poor just like her.

If Mary had sung her Magnificat on the streets of Nazareth among her peers they would have toasted and shouted halleluiah! But if Herod had gotten wind of it she would have been crucified. She sang it anyway believing God. So confident was she that she sang in past tense as though God had already done it. She simply trusted God to do what He promised.

In the 1980s her song was banned in Guatemala as subversive to the government. No patsy our Mary. No, she was not a wimp.

Second Chronicles 16:9 says, “the LORD searches all over the earth for people who have given themselves completely to Him. He wants to make them strong.”

So, how about you? God promises He has a job for each of us to do. He will make us strong if we will trust Him. When He calls you out for His purpose will you, like Mary answer, “Let it be to me as you say?” Or will you turn away in fear, untrusting and doubtful. I am praying for courage to say, “Here am I LORD, send me!” Hope you are too.

Merry Christmas!

Bald-Headed Babes

May 12, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Steph Prichard –

The taillights of the car ahead of me suddenly flashed red. Ahhh, clever me for maintaining that traffic-manual-safe-space between us! I braked to a successful stop inches from the car’s bumper. Not so the guy behind me. Wham. My head lurched forward, then back, then a second time as I rammed the car in front of me after all.

The guy who had now upped my insurance premium got out of his car and hastened to the passenger side of mine. As I rolled down the window, his mouth fell open and his eyes widened. What? Did I look like I was going to bite off his head?

He swallowed hard. “I w-wanted to make sure you’re all right. Do you need anything? I’ve called in the accident.”

Aw, what a nice guy. Sorta. I assured him I was okay, and he sped to the car in front of me to check on its driver.

Traffic on the left slowed to a crawl so that passengers could stare into our three-car zoo. Not one to spurn an on-stage appearance, I hammed it up. I smiled, waved, held my hands palms up and shrugged my shoulders. I got the same mouth-gaping, eye-widening response the young driver had given me.

I decided I’d better look in the mirror. Oh my. My head was as bald as a boiled egg. I had literally flipped my wig into the back seat. I reached back and retrieved my, ahem, hair, put it on, and got out of the car. This would definitely go to the top of my Most Embarrassed Moment list. At least I could explain to the young driver that I was receiving chemo treatments and had lost my hair. But all those spectators driving by? Bwahaha, no wonder they had looked stunned. Some bald-headed babe was making quite a fool of herself!

Bald-headed babies are cute, though, aren’t they? And isn’t this the season for The Babe? To the world, the little guy in the manger is a comforting image. What would they think if they looked at what He “grew up” to be? Here’s how Jesus is described in Revelation 19:12-16: “His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns…. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The
Word of God.…  Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations.… He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His
robe and on His thigh a name written: King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Ouch. The cuddling factor is definitely gone.

For Christians, the babe in the manger is the long-awaited seed promised in Genesis 3:15.  But we recognize that what we celebrate at Christmas is only the beginning of the fulfillment. The King of kings and Lord of lords is coming again, and next time it won’t be as a bald-headed babe.

The 12 Days of Christmas

May 8, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kathi Macias –

I love Christmas. In addition to the wonderful celebration of Christ’s birth on earth, I love the feel of Christmas, the sounds of it, the smells of it—and above all, the tastes of it.

And that’s the problem. As much as I love Christmas, I also fear it. It’s a sort of love-hate relationship, as I wrestle with sugarplums dancing in my head (though I haven’t a clue what sugarplums are!) and calories not just dancing but taking up permanent residence on my mid-section.

Seriously, I go into the infamous twelve-days-of-Christmas season (which really lasts the entire month of December and beyond for me) each year determined not to overeat. I never last beyond the middle of the month because that’s when the need to bake takes over.

“Aren’t you going to make sugar cookies with sprinkles for the guys at work?” my husband asks.

I love sugar cookies with sprinkles—and it’s for the guys at work! How can I say no? The first day of Christmas has officially arrived.

No sooner do I finish those cookies than my husband says, “It would really be great if you could add some walnut brownies to the plate—you know, for the guys at work.”

Yeah, I know. Those poor guys must be starved. One Texas-sized batch of brownies, coming up! And day two of Christmas is under way.

Day three, and I’m determined to eat salad—a spritz of lemon juice in place of dressing. (After all, I had to taste those sugar cookies and brownies to make sure they were okay before I sent them to the guys at work, right? Now I have to make up for it.) But then I see the note on the bulletin board at the clubhouse where we live, asking for donations of pound cake for the annual delivery to the nursing home. How selfish can I be? Some of those elderly residents might not get cake except once a year at Christmas! Who am I to deprive them? (On the plus side, I was so full from sampling pound cake and licking the bowl and beaters at the end of the day that I skipped the salad entirely.)

The fourth day of Christmas requires peanut butter cookies for a neighbor, while day five entails pumpkin pies. The sixth day—halfway there!—has me trying my hand at apple strudel (one of my favorites, so I make two—one for me and one for everyone else). The fudge on day seven nearly sends me over the sugar edge, so I tone it down a bit and make bread on day eight (which, of course, must be eaten warm with lots of butter). By day nine I try making a jelly roll. If the first one turns out crooked, I just eat it and make another one. (Practice makes perfect!)

Who am I making all these treats for, you might ask? The guys at work? The nursing home residents? Absolutely not! They got their goodies, and I blame them for getting me started on this baking frenzy anyway. I’m now going to all this effort just to fill the freezer “in case company drops by.” And in all honesty, we have grandkids who can eat everything in that overloaded freezer in one sitting, so my reasoning isn’t completely faulty.

I devote days ten and eleven to various kinds of candy, all of which are delicious, but by day twelve I draw the line. “No more baking,” I declare. “No cookies, candies, pies, or cakes. I’m done.”

At that point last year, my husband smiled. “That’s great. You deserve a day off. And here, I got you something special while I was in town yesterday.” Tears popped into my eyes as he laid the three-pound box of chocolates on my lap (a lap which was considerably larger than it had been before the onset of the twelve days of Christmas), and he was touched at my emotional reaction.

“Wow,” he said. “I knew you liked candy, but I didn’t expect you to be so happy you’d cry about it.”

Indeed. Once again Christmas had moved me to tears. The next move would have to be to the gym to work off the effects of all that baking. But I’d learned to survive the twelve days of Christmas, and I suppose I’ll do the same this year.

Have a blessed Christmas, dear friends!

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