Call in the Big Guns!

September 24, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Liz Cowen Furman –

Did you ever have the feeling you were being watched? Followed? Stalked? The other night all our dogs started barking at once, they were outside doing business. Usually when we let them out at night, in the fall especially (when those bears are eating 20 hours a day in getting ready for a long sleep), we go with them, but somehow they had been left to their own devices. Everyone ran to a different door or window to call them in and we retrieved them safely.

When I stood at the front door to call, I noticed that my car’s inside light was on. So, with the dogs safely in the house I went out to check what was up. As I walked around the (very dark) side of the house, the hair on my arms began to stand up and I felt fearful. The kind of fear that comes from deep inside. I did not see anything or hear anything but I felt a presence, an evil presence.

Immediately, I started praying and saying scripture aloud (the devil cannot stand against the Word of God; look up Proverbs 30:5 and Ephesians 6:17). The passenger door was ajar; I closed it and started for the house, still talking into the darkness. As I rounded the corner, I definitely heard something moving in the weeds just feet from me. I could feel the fear rising again and I spoke into the darkness louder.

I came into the house and locked the doors. Then I just went back to what I was doing. Funny, but usually, when something like that happens I want to know who or what is there. This time however, I just went about my business. I surprised myself with the peace I felt after praying. It has happened to me countless times in my life. Something happens to frighten me and I immediately speak scripture out loud toward the thing that is scaring me, after a few minutes peace washes over me. As if I have a bubble around me, all of the sudden I feel safe.

So next time you are afraid, call in the big guns. Say scripture aloud. Ask for help and expect that you will receive it. He promised many times to never leave or forsake us. That promise I have taken to the spiritual bank many times.

When God is LOL

September 17, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Carol Barnier –

The three-letter expression, LOL, has been rolling around in text-speak land for quite a while. When it first emerged, I wasn’t clear on its meaning. Lard On Lollipops was unlikely. Licensing of Obese Libertarians seemed even less promising, although in an election year such things are possible. Turns out, it was much simpler: laughing out loud. The problem was, this little three-letter mark of jocularity was often appearing in places where I found it difficult to determine what the text-speaker found to be so funny. . .funny enough that it would cause an actual audible guffaw. Most of the time, a simple snort was more in order. Or even just a hmphh. There have been very few times when I’ve actually laughed out loud at something I’ve read or heard.

One was when reading an interview with a somewhat younger Miley Cyrus who was explaining that she and her new boyfriend were special, more complex, capable of greater thought than one would have expected.

“We’re just deeper than normal people.”

I didn’t mean to laugh out loud right there in the airport boarding area. But I don’t know, it just escaped from me—with a great deal of volume, I might add. I don’t know if it was because of the pretentiousness of the word “normal” to describe all the rest of us mere mortals, or if it was her total lack of awareness that anyone who would actually utter such a phrase has, ipso facto, indicated a decided lack of depth by virtue of her claim to the contrary. But this was most clearly an LOL moment.

People taking themselves too seriously often brings out a chuckle in me. There are many things that do this.

Poetry being one of them. Sometimes it’s a beautiful combination of words that share something fresh and deep. But just as often, it’s the 43-thousandth time that I’ve heard “Life’s a bummer.”

Indie bands. They’re not making music . . . they’re making art, which according to my daughter means they still practice in their parents’ garage and aren’t famous yet.

But, oh how I LOVE those who are unpretentious. . .who even perhaps SHOULD be taken more seriously than they let on, but you’ll never hear it from them.

That’s my Dad. He is brilliant, and yet most of the folks who meet and talk with him would never know it. His goal in talking with folks was always to connect, to encourage and lift them up, and oh yeah. . .to make them laugh. That’s why as a pastor he was so effective. Everything he shared was carried on the wings of an obvious love and concern for others.

I’ve recently heard more than my share of folks who are sharing some concern they have for the theology of others. And while they may or may not have some truth in their concerns, what ruins it for me is the fact that they take themselves sooooo seriously, such that they look down on those they examine—even ridiculing them, and that there is a decided lack of love for those they chastise. I think the apostle Paul said they are like a “clanging cymbal.” Noisy, irritating. Frankly, they remind me of crows. Peck, peck, peck. And such self-important pecking at that.

I can’t be sure, but I suspect that when the God of heavens looks down at any of our self-important pronouncements, we provide Him with an LOL moment.

Circle the Wagons

September 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

Coffee and donuts. They go together like love and marriage. Someday I’d like to write a poem and I’d like to start it with the line, “Coffee and donuts, sittin’ in a tree.” I’m not sure where to go from there. I get that far and all I know is that I want to be in that tree.

I confess I’ve had a few too many donuts. Sad to say, the bough on that tree would be bending pretty low about now. That’s why I decided to go on yet another diet recently. Also sad to say, I’ve already fallen off the wagon.

I’m thinking of putting up a sign that says, “Please keep body inside the wagon at all times and please stay seated until the wagon comes to a complete and final stop.”

You know, if someone would think of bringing fudge along on the wagon ride I would be a lot more motivated to stay on it. Okay, I suppose a really good friend would probably give me a nudge to stay on the wagon. Nudge or fudge. Tough call on which is best, friendship-wise.

In our spiritual lives, we all need a little nudge now and then too. It’s good to have people in our lives we can count on to nudge us in the right direction, wherever the wagons are heading.

As pioneers were settling the west, when they were threatened by an enemy, circling the wagons was part of their defense strategy. The circle provided a protected cover they could get behind to fire at their attackers.

We need to rally with those on this life’s journey in the same way. We have a common enemy. Peter reminds us to “be alert” because our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Circle the wagons! Our church family is part of our defensive plan against our enemy. The next verse in 1 Peter says, “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (vs. 9).

We’re in this together. Let’s not neglect circling the wagons. “Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together as believers, as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25, AMP).

I’m so thankful the Lord has placed godly church buds and godly leaders in my path all through my life via the church. People with just the right nudge at the ready. There are pastors, teachers and leaders who stay alert to our spiritual supervision, keeping watch the scripture says. And Hebrews 13:17 instructs us to be responsive to them. “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

Less burden. More joy. It’s a good choice.

And in other choices, I’m considering choosing to keep the extra 20 pounds and just get myself a bigger wagon. One with really good shocks.

From Chatterbox to Listening with Purpose

September 4, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Dawn Wilson –

As a young mom, I had two non-talkative, all-action sons; but my best girlfriend during those years had a little girl, an exuberant chatterbox! Little Misty talked nonstop. One day at the park, I watched as my girlfriend endured yet another one-sided conversation.

“Mama, look at that bird,” Misty said. “Who do you think taught the bird to sing? Where do you think it lives? Do you think the birdie has sister? I want a sister, Mama. We can call her Snoopy like that cartoon dog. Do you like that name, Mama? I’m hungry. Can we get some donuts? Can babies eat donuts?”

My girlfriend smiled at her daughter, wondering when to break in. A woman of wisdom, she knew that those years would pass quickly; so she stroked Misty’s hair and listened with purpose, using Misty’s words as a launching pad for a precious teachable moment.

Over the years as I watched Misty grow, I realized my girlfriend also modeled how to listen! Rather than becoming a self-centered chatterbox, Misty became a graceful conversationalist with sincere interest in others.

For far too long, my prayer life resembled Misty’s incessant chatter. It was all about my wants, my reasoning, my agenda. I didn’t consider that God might want to speak too. Early on, I wondered whether God “rolled His eyes” at my steady barrage of prayer lists and demands, but now I know my patient Father listened and turned many prayers into teachable moments. He applied scriptures that opened my eyes and ears.

The truth is, God wants to speak. “O that my people would listen to me,” He said (Psalm 81:13a, ESV). Listening to God is a deliberate choice. As we shut out the noisy world and quiet ourselves before God (Psalm 46:10), we can better focus on what He wants to say.

It’s hard to hear God when I’m rushing around, tending to my “to do list;” but God will speak. As thoughts come to my mind, I sometimes write them down, so I can “test” them later with scripture to be sure I’ve heard from God and not messages from the enemy or my own deceitful heart (1 John 4:1; Jeremiah 17:9).

As I wait with an expectant spirit, I yield to God and tell Him I’m prepared to obey. That is crucial to conversation with God. When there is something I’ve already determined I will not do, why should God tell me more? Listening to God is one thing; hearing Him is another. As I listen, God sometimes points out something I need to deal with through confession and repentance before I move on.

Jesus only said and did what the Father wanted—what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19-20)—and He is our example. We won’t get ahead of God or fall behind, losing opportunities, if we listen with purpose, seeking the Father’s will. We need to expect and wait for Him to speak.

To get into this frame of mind, I often pray Psalm 25:4: “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

Are you a prayer “chatterbox,” always talking, never listening? God wants to speak. How can you listen with purpose today?

Moms Were the First Private Investigators

August 30, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Connie Cavanaugh –

If every empty-nest mom went to work as a private investigator, it would solve the “What now?” question as well as put a lid squarely on crime. No one is better qualified for detective work than a woman who has raised a vanload of kids.

Case in Point: Our 17-year-old son JP slouched in to the kitchen and sat down. Glancing up furtively then lowering his gaze, he began, “Uh, I have, uh, something to, uh, tell you.”

I stated coolly: “You hit a tree with dad’s car.”

His head snapped up, eyes bugged out, mouth went slack. “Who told you?”

PIs never reveal their sources. I smiled. An email from the mom of one of JP’s friends had arrived earlier. JP’s friend mentioned the accident to his older brother who immediately squealed. The friend’s mom was my prayer partner. Bingo!

I handed my son a Ziploc bag that held the bit of tree bark I had extracted from the dented headlight’s rim with tweezers moments earlier.

“You’re good,” he said shaking his head in admiration.

Case in Point: On her 19th birthday our oldest daughter decided “to be a bit rebellious.” Christine secretly acquired a navel ring. She had queried me some months earlier: “If God wanted us to wear bellybutton rings he would have put earlobes on our abdomens!” She never raised the topic again.

After getting the ring, she wore long shirts and avoided me. If I saw her at all, it was her back. I quickly diagnosed her strange behavior. But I waited, knowing she’d eventually crack. A week passed and she found me in the kitchen – the confessional in our home.

“Um, mom. I, um, need to, well I want to, I mean I should probably let you know,” Christine began, her head lowered.

I cut to the chase.

“You got your bellybutton pierced.”

“How did you know?” she shrieked. “Did Anita tell you?”

“Your sister never said boo. I have a certain je ne sais qua,” I blithely replied.

“Wow,” she whispered reverently.

The truth was, I peeked one night after she was asleep. Gotcha!

Case in Point: But the easiest detective work I ever did involved our middle child. During her first year of university in a nearby city, she lived at home and carpooled to classes. Occasionally she borrowed my car. On one of those days, she asked if she could stay in the city for the evening to hang out with a chum. I was a bit nervous when she mentioned which friend. I knew this cowgirl liked to frequent a certain western-theme dance club in the city and I didn’t want Anita going there. She assured me she wouldn’t go near the place and she’d be home by 11 p.m.

As promised, she came home on time and after a short visit with her dad and me, went to bed. The next day when I went out to my car, I saw a small piece of paper under the windshield wiper. It was a parking ticket. From the parking lot of the club I had asked her not to attend. Exhibit A!

“I gotta hand it to you Mom,” Anita croaked.

I can’t take all the credit for this fine detective work. I owe something to my mother who passed on to me the prayer she prayed – with great success – for her eight children from the time they were tiny: “Lord, I don’t expect my kids to be perfect, but I do ask that when they’re not, You help me catch them!” Amen!

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