Money Can’t Buy Me Fitness

August 12, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

We invited our church over for an open house not long ago. I really hate to admit to this, especially in writing. It’s bound to be used against me at my inevitable sanity hearing. But I burned more calories on my exercise machine while getting ready for that open house than I have since I bought the thing. Here’s the goofy part. I burned all those calories by shoving the monstrous beast out of the way and into the storage area. I was sore for a week. That’s just downright embarrassing.

Doesn’t it seem like simply owning the machine should be enough to get me fit? After all, I invested a big hunk of money in it. I think I thought I’d see the muscles start to bulk up and the fat melt away as I wrote out the check.

I wonder if there are people who have the same kind of warped view when it comes to God’s Word? Could they possibly think that by finding the biggest, fattest, most expensive Bible, they automatically become spiritual? Or maybe they think that while writing that tithe check they suddenly have a special understanding of the will of God.

But when we’re told in Ephesians 6 to put on the armor of God, we’re instructed in verse 17 to “take” the Word of God. Not just buy it. Not simply write our family history in it. Not to merely set it on a shelf for some kind of spiritual protection. We’re not to just glance at a few pages now and then. No, we’re to “take” the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. We’re to wield it. How insane would we consider a soldier who strapped on the sharpest, shiniest sword, then went into battle trying to bop people in the head with its sheath? He would be even sooner destined for a sanity hearing than I am.

In Psalm 119:45 and 48, the psalmist says, “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees.” And in verse 32 he says, “I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding,” (NIV). Wow, walking, reaching, running—I think I’m in better shape already!

It inspires me all the more to stretch myself. To use God’s Word—really use it—and let it continually be at the center of everything I do and everything I am. That’s a big part of what being filled with the Holy Spirit and walking in Him is all about. It’s at those times when we’re walking in, reaching for and running toward Him and toward His word that we find ourselves equipped to do what we were designed to do. That’s a great place to live.

And just so you know, I’ll be dragging my exercise machine back out of storage soon. I guess I’ll try a little harder to use it to do what it was designed to do too. Hey, do you think that hauling the thing back out might earn me enough aerobic points to get me through ‘til summer?

Healthy, Healthy Chocolate

August 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Steph Prichard –

At last, science has acknowledged what the rest of us knew all along—that chocolate is good for you. Okay, so the verdict was limited to dark chocolate—we chocoholics can live with that. And what finally pushed the men with pointy heads to that waking point? They discovered little thingies called antioxidants living in dark chocolate, and—guess what?—these antioxidants have their own addictions! They gobble up bad cells called “free radicals” as greedily as, well, we devour a box of chocolates.

The free radicals start out as terrorists that use oxygen to parachute into our bodies and blast our cells with machine guns. The cells, lop-sided now because they lack a crucial molecule, go absolutely whack-o. Foaming at the mouth, they take off on a rampage and beat up healthy cells to steal molecules from them. Then those poor, robbed cells run amok and bushwhack other cells to steal their molecules. And so it goes, blam, blam, blam, one big chain reaction of hold-up after hold-up. The result? Ugh—disease.

All for lack of antioxidant-good-guys.

So, motivated by the desire to be dark-chocolate healthy, I cruised the grocery aisles. Candy bars, chocolate chips, cocoa, ice cream bars—if it said dark chocolate, I bought it. And ate it. My favorite antioxidant host became the ice cream bars that were dark chocolate, inside and out. For dessert every night, I faithfully ate one. I decided to become even more faithful and eat one for dessert at lunchtime too. And if one is good and two are better, why not add a third one for an afternoon snack and have triple the health?

I noticed I was gaining weight, but what’s a pound or two when the gain is in health too? At five pounds, I thought a bit of restraint might be in order, but you know what the –holic means at the end of the choco-? Uh-huh. The antioxidants and I were hooked. Totally addicted to chocolate and free radicals. Sadly, but with great resolve, we decided to bite the bullet and cut back on everything dark chocolate but the ice cream bars.

At ten pounds, when I had to shop for clothes a size larger, reality in the form of a humanoid blob stared back at me from the fitting room mirror. I sniffled, knowing I had to make a choice. It was either another month and another size larger, or go cold turkey and quit. I exchanged my dark chocolate for turkey.

What took one month to gain took three months to lose. Ever since, I have shunned dark chocolate and made friends with the antioxidants inhabiting the fifty-two calories of a raw apple. You’ve never heard of an appleholic, have you? There’s a good reason why.

But, hey, not all cravings are bad! There’s one I’ve gained exponentially from, every bit of it to my benefit. When I became a Christian at age twenty, I began reading the Bible, sometimes in bite-sized pieces, sometimes in full-plate portions. The more I read, the more I gained wisdom for my marriage, my parenting, and every decision I faced, big or small. What could be better than insight straight from the God who made me and loves me? Psalm 119:103 says, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” Hoo, now there’s an addiction worth indulging in!

It Takes a Village (To Get my Husband to the Airport)

August 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Connie Cavanaugh –

It all started with a blanket of feathery snow during the night. My husband and I had just returned from a weeklong trip and early the next morning we were leaving again on separate jaunts. He was flying south on business and I was headed three hours west with our kids for two and a half days of skiing.

Bright and early, after a hasty goodbye, Gerry dashed out with his luggage. I woke up our three teens. If we wanted to be on the slopes by noon we’d have to get rolling.

The phone rang as I stepped out of the shower. I grabbed it, still dripping. It was my neighbor: “I noticed some luggage in the middle of the street. It had your phone number on it. I put it on the sidewalk in front of your house.” I thanked him casually, trying to act like this was the way we usually did things and said good-bye. I ran in circles for several seconds before I became rational.

I called Gerry’s cell, hoping he could return for his luggage and still make his flight. He didn’t answer. Flustered, I threw on some clothes and fetched the luggage. Dropping his computer bag and suitcase inside the door, I tried calling again. To my horror I heard a muted ringing in the foyer.

I found his phone and plane ticket inside the computer bag. This threw me into another tail-chasing frenzy, wasting more precious time. After praying for help, it occurred to me to check his itinerary. I saw that his flight was leaving an hour later than he’d thought. I could get his luggage to the airport with 30 minutes to spare!

I stationed my groggy son by the phone. “When dad calls, tell him I’m on my way!” I headed for the airport 45 minutes away. My fuel gauge was dangerously low. Can’t stop now! When I tried to wash the salt spray from a passing semi off my windshield; I got a small drool and nothing more. The wipers spread the slurry around. I drove into the glare of the rising sun, barely able to see the road. My mood darkened. I confess, the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” crossed my mind rather uncharitably.

Not far down the road, my son called to report his dad had phoned and would be watching for me. “I guess this means we won’t be able to ski this afternoon?” he asked.

I arrived at the terminal squinting through the white haze in search of Gerry. I saw him frantically waving and pulled over. He yanked open the passenger door, saw my dour expression and blurted, “I’m so sorry!” His apologies poured forth. He felt terrible for ruining our plans but his sincerity and appreciation softened my heart.

Even though he had no time to spare, I just had to ask: “How, exactly, did your luggage wind up stranded in the street like a couple of gunslingers at high noon?”

“I’ve been thinking about that,” he confessed, sheepishly. “And I think I figured it out.”
I felt the corners of my lips begin to twitch.

“When I left the house, I set my suitcases down behind the car so I could open the trunk,” he began. “Then I noticed I had your keys, not mine so I dashed inside to exchange keys. When I came back out, I forgot about the bags. I jumped in the driver’s seat, backed out, and drove off!”

I started to chuckle as I pictured the bags gently rolling, nudged by the bumper over the slippery snow to where they would remain, abandoned in the middle of the road.

“When I got to the airport and opened my trunk I thought, ‘I’ve been robbed!’” I snorted, unable to hold back the laughter. He leaned in for a kiss, grabbed his bags and was gone.

I was still grinning as I headed for the nearest gas station with one eye on the big E and the other eye on the single clean streak that narrowed my view to a slit. Yes I had forfeited a ski day but it wasn’t a loss. It was an investment. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I needed Gerry to be part of my village too!

By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped (Ecclesiastes 4:12. MSG).

Church Service Survival 101

July 29, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Carol Barnier –

This will probably get me in trouble, but … I think it’s possible that children shouldn’t be allowed in church, at least not until they’ve been trained. I don’t mean that typical genteel parental kind of training. I’m talking more like truly useful, kid-to-kid warning and wisdom. Call it “How-to-Survive-the-Next-Hour-Without-Getting-Spanked-101.”

For example, I learned at a very young age that, when the elderly Edith Cooper began her weekly snore, looking back at her would invariably produce a tiny ping from my mother’s index finger. Mother was a firm believer in the Head-Always-Forward theology. Once, when the second to the last pew completely collapsed, sending three people through the floor into the basement, emitting a cloud of centuries-old dust, I hesitantly glanced up at my mother only to watch her simply nod to the pastor and quietly say “Amen.” She was a rock.

Young children, coming to church for the first time, need to be warned. Don’t look back! Or if you must, do so with technique. I eventually learned that if I dropped the bulletin at the correct moment, when returning from my retrieval lean, I could swipe a quick backward glance that was, if not elegant, at least permissible. But there is a firm once-per-service allotment of this technique. Use judiciously. You’ve been warned.

Children should also be told about the risks involved when they are all taken up front for a “children’s message.” Who invented this terror-filled activity? This situation is fraught with peril. The most important rule is simple: don’t offer anything unless asked. Sharing that your sister has a bank of boogers on the inside slat of her bunk bed will not endear you to your parents. While there is a risk in saying too much, there can also be a risk in saying too little. A visiting pastor shared with us a time when he called all the children forward and asked a seemingly simple question.

“Hi, kids! Got a question for ya’. What’s little and gray, has a long fluffy tail, skitters around on trees and stores up nuts for the winter?”

Total silence met this man’s eager face.

A little surprised, he nonetheless cheerily continued.

“Oh, come on, guys. Let’s try again. Little and gray, long fluffy tail, skitters around on trees and stores up nuts for the winter.”

Again … not a peep, but this time the children’s eyes were huge and fearful.

This visiting pastor was clearly becoming agitated.

“Kids … this isn’t tough. The story won’t work unless you answer. So help me out.” He shot through the question again. “Little and gray. Long fluffy tail. Skitters around on trees. Stores up nuts for the winter!”

Finally, one kid timidly raised his hand. Clearly fearful at this line of questioning, he nonetheless took a deep breath and said, “Pastor … I know we’re always supposed to say ‘Jesus’ … but that really sounds like a squirrel to me.”

This kid knew one of the most basic forms of church survival. When in doubt, answer “Jesus.” Nine times out of ten, it’ll be the answer they want. But, as it turns out, listening is also a pretty good strategy. Who knew?

I actually love the buried truth in that concept. When in doubt, answer “Jesus.” Not only is it usually the right answer to the teacher’s question, it’s the right answer to most of life’s questions. I love it when we actually learn something from our kids. Maybe that’s why Jesus turned to the pompous adults in his company and said, “Be more like kids.”

Maybe we should let them back in church after all.

Oh, Those Senior Moments!

July 24, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Karen O’Connor –

I left the women’s luncheon feeling like a million. I made new friends, enjoyed a delicious meal, was inspired by the music, and felt great about my presentation as the keynote speaker. Then it happened. I walked out the front door of the banquet hall with two other women and I went blank. There in front of me was a sea of cars––but I had no idea where mine was located. I started walking––praying. Where are you little Escort?

I couldn’t lose my cool in front of these women. They were impressed with me. They thought I was a celebrity! They wanted more of my books and my autograph. “Do you have any extras in your car?” one asked.

“Sure,” I mumbled. “Authors always carry extra books.” (Now if I can just find my car.) “Why don’t you wait right here?” I suggested. “I’ll run to the car…” (if I can find it) “…and come back with the books signed and ready.”

“Oh no,” said another. “We’ll follow you. No sense in your walking all the way back. We’re parked in the lot too.”

Follow me? My hands were suddenly wet and my mind had turned to mush. I wondered if they’d be so eager to keep going if they knew I was walking in circles.

“Sure, right this way,” I said, clearing my throat and blinking back tears. I didn’t have a clue where I was heading. My trusted, faithful car, clean, dependable, and paid off, was nowhere to be seen.

Help Lord, I’m having a senior moment!

Then suddenly it all came back. Clear. Vivid. Certain. I had parked in the first lane by the exit on purpose––so I wouldn’t get in a long line going out. Whew! In the nick of time you answered me. My honey of a car, gleaming in the sun from the fresh car wash, was right where I had left it, six cars to my right, practically in front of me. It never looked better. I wanted to wrap my arms around it, hug it, smooch it!

“Here we are,” I chirped. “I’ll get the books, sign them, and you can be on your way.”

The ladies smiled, scribbled out their checks, handed them to me, and off they went, thanking me as they waved good-bye.

I thanked them too.

But you’re the one who deserves the thanks, Lord, and the hug, and the big smooch! Once more your Holy Spirit came to my rescue.

Next Page »