Matthew 16:16

When I was a kid, about 10 years old, as far as I can remember, my neighbor and best friend Linda was going to a group at a church. While I thought I would never forget, I find that the ravages of time are proving me wrong on that, and I don’t remember what the group was called. I do remember that we often had the childhood version of an highly intellectual debate over which group was better, her group or Girl Scouts. (“My group is better.” “No, mine is.” “No, mine is.” No, MINE is.” “NO, MINE is.”)

Anyway, I went with her one time as a visitor. I was reluctant as it was held in a church, but went because she was my best friend. Many of the activities were similar to Girl Scouts, until… “Okay everyone, get out your Bibles…” What? Bible? I don’t have a Bible. What do we have to do with a Bible? “It’s time for Scripture memorization.” WHAT!? What do you mean I have to memorize something from the Bible!?

Yep, that’s right. Everyone had to memorize a verse – right then and there – and recite it to the group. Wow. Right there, I knew Girl Scouts was better!!! But I was stuck. I had no choice but to comply. So, someone loaned me a Bible and I flipped through the pages. I sort of remember my thought process, looking for something short and easy to remember, but not embarrassingly short. I was, after all, a guest, representing my friend Linda. And so, I memorized a verse.

Thirty five years later, as a new seeker, not yet committed in my heart to follow Jesus, not really sure of anything going on in my life at the time, but knowing that I’m at a breaking point and something’s got to change ‘cuz life as I know it is NOT working. So, I start reading the Bible. And I get to Matthew 16:16, memorized, but long since forgotten, planted, laying dormant in the ground for decades, ’til one day it bursts forth, having been watered and tended beneath the surface for all this time.

“And Simon Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.””

As I read that morning, some 35 years or so after memorizing that verse, it all came back to me. I remembered the frustration of having to do the memorization. I remembered the oddly satisfied feeling that I didn’t understand while I was doing it. And I remembered the thrilling rush when I accomplished the task that I did not want to do. And I realized the Glory of God, that day, as I thought about the planning to get me set up for just this point in time, when I would do all this remembering. And I realized that God really does think about me and care for me, and work for my good at all times, even in the games of ten year olds, and the debate about Girl Scouts or whatever.

Thanks for the Tire!!

{Here it is, folks. I finally got it here. Actually, this will be it’s second post. First one went to my old blog. NO – I won’t tell you it’s name! This was actually written at least 2 weeks ago. It’s been so long I’ve forgotten!}

I’ve been nursing a slow leaking tire all winter. During the frigid, frigid cold, I was putting air in it twice a week. The regular cold of winter just necessitated air once a week, and once it started to warm up, every other week was fine. Until last week…

Friday, after work, I stopped to get air because it had been awhile. It was down to 12 pounds of pressure when it should be at 32. That’s not good. So, the wonderful guys at Discount Tire, where I go, filled things up all around and I was on my way. I stopped to shop at Aldi on the way home and when I got out of the car, I heard it. There was a hissing sound and the tire was visibly lowering. I grabbed my few items and beats feet for home. The tire was completely flat before I got there, but I nursed it to my neighbor’s house.

My neighbor, Rich, and his son Josh, rebuild cars. They have a fully outfitted garage. They had my tire changed in a jiffy. They have helped me out with other things as well. Rich is a great neighbor. So, here I was with a little donut spare tire on my car and at least 40 miles to drive before I had opportunity to get back to Discount Tire. I drove cautiously and carefully, and made it back to Discount Tire on Saturday after work. Then the fun began!

It was a beautiful day, and very busy at Discount Tire. Everyone and their brother decided it was time to get things fixed because it was so nice out. I waited patiently in line while those ahead of me were taken care of. Finally, my turn came and I explained the tale of repeated fillings which culminated in the total flat the day before. We went out to my car and took the offending tire out of the trunk. While Rich and Josh checked the usual places, finding nothing, assumed that it just lost it’s seal and would simply need to be re-mounted. NOT SO! On the back side of the tire there was a tear, nearly an inch long in the sidewall of the tire. I don’t know, but I’m atributing it to the MASSIVE dip in the road in an area of construction that simply caused it to pop on my last trip over. (I know that sounds weird, but I know what I really mean. It’s really more involved and complicated than that.) But, what it boiled down to is I needed to replace the tire.

The young man who was taking care of me told me that to replace the tire with a similar type and quality would cost about $140. Since I’m looking for a new car now, I really don’t want to put money into this car is I don’t need to. I explained all of this to him and told him I would be okay with a used tire or a re-tread or anything else that wouldn’t cost me $140. He said, “Let me go check some things.” He was gone for about 5 minutes, then came out to the waiting room and started typing on the computer. He typed, I struggled to keep my mouth shut, thinking that he was typing an invoice for something that I wasn’t sure I wanted because I didn’t know how much it would cost. Then he printed it out, and I still struggled, but managed to keep my mouth closed. He brought the invoice around the counter to me and I looked at it. And I looked. And my eyebrows furrowed and I looked again, trying to find the bottom line number in all the stuff that was printed on the page. He finally circled the number for me because I couldn’t find it.

Folks, in case you hadn’t figured out yet that I love Discount Tire, I’ll tell you now, straight out, I LOVE DISCOUNT TIRE!! I had to do a double take when I looked at the circled number. It was $00.00 That’s right, I got a different tire, mounted, balanced and put on my car for nothing! I have had 2 flats fixed, air checks and fills for the last year, and now a new to me tire and I have yet to pay them a single penny. These guys have done incredible things for me. One of the days in the winter, when I woke up to a nearly flat tire, I went to the shop. They don’t open until 8am. I had to be to work at 8am. They opened up the door and filled my tire early so I could get on my way. They are forthright, appear to be honest and above board, clean cut, hard working, all the right things in a company. I “almost” can’t wait until I need tires so I can buy them there.

Just wanted to put this little tidbit out there to let you know that there are still places that believe in treating their customers right. If they keep treating me like this, they have a customer for life!!

Learning More Every Day

I knew there had to be a way. And I finally figured it out. Now I don’t have to worry about how to get content off of the tablet word processor and into some form, place, format, someTHING to get it to post online. I knew there had to be a way to write right in WordPress in an offline mode, and today I found it. Unfortunately, that is one of the benefits of being sick. There’s actually time to figure out things that you don’t normally have the time to work through. So now, I have no excuse for not posting. I can write whenever I want, and then post when I get to a wifi area.

I love being inn learning mode, even when I’m not sick. Hmmmmm. That doesn’t sound quite right, but I think you know what I mean. I just love learning. I always have. It’s a great, cheap thrill when I get that “AH HA! moment.” There’s a special satisfaction that comes when you finally figure out something that you’ve been trying to figure out for quite some time. Or the general pleasure that comes from the continuous learning mode of taking a class. It’s all good. I love it all.

And I’ve been in learning mode again as I’ve moved on to my next class at Berean School of the Bible. This class is an overview of the life of Christ as written about in the synoptic gospels. (The synoptic gospels are Matthew, Mark and Luke. Though they are written to different audiences, they are similar in the way they are written, detailing the things Jesus did. John is a bit different, dealing more with theology. John wrote later, from his exile on the island of Patmos, having more time to reflect over the events of his time spent with Jesus.) I’ve been praying about a topic to write about here, to again fulfill my class requirement. So far there has been no specific theme recommend itself like there was for Old Testament Survey. But there’s been so much to learn. Jesus said and did so much. It’s really amazing. John even says at the end of his gospel, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25 ESV).

That is such an awesome thought, a world full of books! It makes me think of an old Twilight Zone episode. Burgess Meredith plays a meek banker who loves to read. He’s reading all the time. His wife bullies him, his boss and co-workers bully him, everyone makes fun of him for reading so much. One day he goes to the bank’s vault to read during his lunch break. While he’s in there, the then feared atomic war happens, but he’s protected by the vault. He comes out to a completely devastated world. He wanders aimlessly through the rubble until he happens upon the library. Books upon books upon book, and no one left around to bully or disturb his reading. With glee, he starts lining the books up on the steps of the library, stacking them up in anticipation of uninterrupted reading. He sits, leans forward to pick up the first book, and his glasses fall off, hit the ground and break. The final scene is him sitting there crying, muttering, “It’s not fair. It’s not fair.”

Time Flies!

OK, folks, I thought that I’d be posting about once a week. And I still think I’ll get there, but this is harder to stick with than I thought. So far, it’s not about having something to write about. It’s about actually doing it! It’s about being in a position to get it done.

I have a whole post written, but I did it in the word processor on my tablet. I did it 2 weeks ago. And there it sits. My wifi went out at home, so I wrote in the processor while I could, figuring I’d get wifi back up and send it. But wifi isn’t back up. And I’m not sure how to fix it. So I figured I’d put it to a memory stick and copy it to the desk top. But no, the tablet is not recognizing the memory stick. (Yes, I dropped the tablet, but it didn’t hit hard!) So now I’m not sure what to do, so, just to keep something out there for you, to keep you all interested, and just to do SOMETHING!, I’m writing this drivel and actually enjoying it. Hope you do too!

In the meantime, I’ve decided to schedule a regular time to write. I’ll be starting that next week, so I’m hoping you will see some good results from that. I’m blocking out 2 hours to write. I may make some adjustments to that as I see how things shake out. Some weeks may be more time, some less. Depends on what I’m writing and how much research it requires as well. So, for right now, I’m not telling you what day I have this time blocked out, so that if I don’t do it, you won’t be upset. And, as soon as I figure it out, I’ll get that other, completed post up. It’ll be worth the wait. It’s a good story!

 

 

Tanzania to Texas – Part 2

So now we’ve fast forwarded 5 years, and I’m getting ready to head to Tanzania for my own trip. Steve, the leader of the trip is the same guy who lead the team when Scott went. And Steve is just full of stories about his past trips to Tanzania, especially the trip with Scott.

If you’ve never been out of the country, it can be quite an experience. We, here in the U. S. really have NO idea how good we really have it. We can say we get it, but until we actually see how most of the rest of the world lives, we really don’t get it. In fact, here’s a rabbit trail for you to follow. There’s a website called globalrichlist.com Check them out. You enter your annual income and they tell you what percentile you are in the richest people in the WORLD! Pastor Scott, (yes, they same Pastor Scott who was talking right to me that first Saturday night service), used this website in one of his sermons. It’s really quite an eye opener. I’ve popped in to the site off and on over the last several years, seeing how I’ve progressed up the ladder of economic success. I haven’t done it for a couple of years, now, and this trip was humbling to say the least. I and my co-workers will quite often complain about our salary at the job we do, and for the job we do, in the environment we do it, in this country, compared to comparable jobs in other locations, in this country, we really are underpaid, BUT… When I plugged in my salary from last year, (though I did work some substantial overtime hours), I came out being in the top 1/2 percent of the richest people in the world! There are LESS THAN 30,000,000 people richer than me, IN THE WHOLE WORLD! I have NO right to complain about ANYTHING!

Okay, back to the experience of being out of the country. When you go on a trip to a place where most of the people make only about a dollar a day, (YES, I typed that correctly – just one dollar per day!), it can be a bit overwhelming. Everything you see and do is a new experience. And according to Steve, with every new experience, Scott would rub his hand over his crew cut hair and exclaim, “I can’t believe I’m in Africa, man!” Everywhere they went, everything they did, every new thing they saw, “I can’t believe I’m in Africa, man!”

Well! With the relationship I’d had with Scott for several years, now, and Steve being an excellent videographer, we really couldn’t help ourselves. Since I usually wear my hair fairly short anyway, I had gotten it cut extra short for the trip to make care easier while we were there. I was a natural! We filmed clips of me imitating Scott in all sorts of different situations! It was quite a lot of fun, and even more fun when we got home and played the clip for him. (I’m sorry, even though I’m richer than 99.5 % of the world, I’m not rich enough to pay for video privileges on my blog!) 6248_1169738771136_5375091_n But here is a still photo of me doing one of the clips, sans head rub. You can probably tell that the kids of Kiziba village have NO CLUE what I’m saying or why I’m saying it, but they are very curious about this muzungu (white – I think I have the spelling right) woman and what she’s doing.

And all this story, now, earlier than planned because Scott came to my work last week and dropped a bomb on me. It’s nothing truly devastating. In the overall scheme of things it’s really no big deal. But it broke my heart. He and his wife are moving away. Yes, to Texas, how’d you guess!? It’s not like we have really stayed all that close. We don’t hang out anymore, since I quit going to the bar. (Yes, yet another story for yet another day!) I’ve moved on to a different church. But we are still family in the eyes of God. Scott and Marilyn are my brother and sister in Christ. They were there for me during a really tough period in my life, and got me through A LOT! It just hurts to know that they won’t be just up the road anymore.

Scott, Marilyn, you have been great friends. I know you will continue to be, though from a distance. I will miss your presence very much. Love ya!

Tanzania to Texas – Part 1

Sorry it’s been longer than I’d planned between writings. I was studying for my final. But I’m back now. And I had said in an earlier post that I’d tell you the “I’m in Africa, man,” story later. I had thought it would be later than this, but something’s come up and I think now would be an appropriate time.

It all started in the Spring of 2004. (WOW! just realized it’s been 10 years! What a long, strange trip it’s been!) I was sitting at the bar when a friend, Scott, came in and started talking about going on a trip to Africa. He was in a quandary because they told him he needed to fund raise 1/3 of the cost of the trip. He said he could afford the whole amount on his own and felt bad asking people for money to pay for his “vacation.” “How do I do it, anyway?” he asked me.

I had just completed a fund raising effort for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, so I told him, “Make yourself up a letter and talk to EVERYONE you meet about what you’re doing. You never know when someone may slide a five down the bar and say, here, take this with you.” As I said it, I actually did slide a five down the bar to him. He laughed and said, “Yeah, I get it,” as he slid the five back to me. “But Scott, you never know when someone may slide a five down the bar to you and say ‘Here, take this with you.'” Again, he said, “Yeah, I get it,” as he slid it back to me. “NO, SCOTT, you never know when someone will slide a five down the bar and say “HERE TAKE THIS WITH YOU!”” He finally got the message and took my $5.

When he got home, I was the only one at the bar who wanted to know about what he really did while he was in Tanzania. Each time he tried to tell me, we’d get interrupted by someone asking if he saw elephants or monkeys. This went on for a few weeks and was getting quite annoying. (I did, however, get the story of how my $5 paid for a “female operation” for one of the women in the area. Yes, that’s right, just $5 paid for the entire procedure!) Finally, one day, Scott came in and as we were having the conversation, or the attempt at conversation, he told me that his church was having a free spaghetti dinner that Saturday and he was going to talk about his trip. I refused because I didn’t do church. There was no way he was getting me in those doors. We’d get around, eventually, to getting the story out at the bar. We tried again, and just as he was getting into it, someone ELSE came and asked about elephants and monkeys. I gave in. After all, it was just dinner and his story, uninterrupted, right!?!

So, Saturday I went to his house and got in the car with him and his wife, and off we went. It felt REALLY strange walking in to this place. But, there was no major earthquake and fire didn’t burst forth from the bowels of the earth as I entered. It was just like walking into any other building. But! Once we were there, once I was trapped with no way to escape, he dropped the other shoe – right on my head! “Oh, by the way, we have a Saturday night service and Pastor Scott is going to speak first.” Many unkind words, sprinkled liberally with expletives swirled in my head, but I was inside a church (semi-voluntarily for the first time in 40 years) so I couldn’t say any of them. I’m sure the look I gave Scott told him what I was thinking!

There I was, in the sanctuary of a church, sitting through a church service that I had no desire to sit through. And then it happened, just as Scott said it would, even though more expletives swirled through my head when he said it. “Don’t worry, Pastor Scott is really cool and you’re going to think he’s talking right to you.” And so he was. He was talking to me and he was making direct eye contact and his words were shooting into me and straight into my heart. And the tears started flowing, and my heart was breaking. To this day I could not tell you what he was actually talking about, but I know it was meant just for me. And afterward, we ate and Scott talked about Tanzania, and people and names and faces spun around me and it was all a big whirlwind.

All I really knew after that was that I had to go back there again. And I really didn’t know how I was going to do it, because there was NO WAY I wanted my family knowing that I was going to church! But there was no way I could stop myself from going. It would be over 5 years before I missed a Sunday from that first time. You might even say that I went religiously! (Sorry, it was there, I had to use it.) And I learned and I grew in my relationship with the LORD.