Wednesday, November 30, 2005


A quote from the past that addresses today's concerns about traditional marriage:

Question: "In a world without women what would men become?"

Mark Twain: "Scarce, sir. Mighty scarce."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Golden Bird

A happy heart makes the face cheerful. Proverbs 15:13

One dark and stormy Thanksgiving Day, in my kitchen I wrestled a thawed turkey onto the drain board. The snoozing sun, blanketed by thunderclouds, started to peek from the horizon. Groggy, I set the coffee maker to brewing my wake-up java. Coffee done, I poured a cup and wrapped my hands around the warm mug. I read The Courier, and my eyes made their usual stops along the newsprint pages.

Finally, I could dally no longer, so I poured a second cup of coffee and laid out my turkey tools. Grabbing the kitchen shears, I snipped a hole in the snug plastic wrapper around the turkey, but a shiver of fright ran along my arms when I saw the price tag.

I blinked. I rubbed my eyes. I spewed coffee, and blinked again. What I saw couldn’t be true. The price tag read $39.71, BONELESS, SKINLESS TURKEY BREAST. What? I didn’t want all white meat. I wanted turkey drumsticks, and usually paid nothing for the Thanksgiving turkey. This Tom cost 40 bucks.

Those earlier November ads were clever. Grocers enticed shoppers with an offer of a free turkey. Many gave one away or only charged 39 cents per pound if a shopper bought at least $20.00 of mincemeat, marmalade, and mousse makings.

My mind returned to the plastic encased poultry. Did I really pay $40.00? Maybe he was free after all. I lathered hands, rinsed and dried and went in search of my grocery receipt. Locating it, a quadruple digit leaped out of the number rank. Sure enough, the main course, supposed-to-be-free fowl, had deficited my budget by nearly half a hundred.

It was too late to give “Tom” his freedom. Too late to return him to the grocer. All ready, near Austin, relatives were packing their car, readying to drive to our house. I returned to the kitchen, snipped off his price tag and laid it aside.

Once more, I began to cut the plastic away from the turkey, I consoled myself that at least I’d bought a boneless skinless breast, and we’d have prime turkey. But no. Under the fancy price and phony label was a Pilgrim-plain, bone-in, drumstick-protruding turkey.

Through the rest of dinner preparations, like a neon sign, the $39.71 price tag flashed in my mind. I decided to keep my secret. I corralled my thoughts and shut down the complaint department and ordained “thanksgivings.”

By noon that day, pies were sliced, flaky rolls huddled in an old bun warmer, and a quarter cup of real butter melted on a mound of mashed potatoes. I lifted the browned, “golden,” bird from the oven. He preened on a silver platter.

At our feast table, guests seemed to enjoy cranberries, carrots, and costly turkey. His price tag intruded in my mind once more, and each taste of turkey felt like swallowing half dollars, ca-ching, ca-ching.

I consoled myself. Someday, I’d memorialize this old bird in a story. He could outlive the gravy and the clan. I recalled other renowned fowl—Daffy and Donald Duck, Chicken Little, and Tweety Bird. But I especially remembered the goose that laid the golden eggs.

My Thanksgiving bird might join the ranks of other famous fowl. He might earn his keep after all. Someday, Tom Turkey might even make a name for himself.

The cheerful heart has a continual feast. Proverbs 15:15

Friday, November 18, 2005

Cultivating Thanksgiving

"Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines."
Leroy Satchel Paige

I reached into the linen closet and pulled out a “tradition.” If you read this column in past years, you may recall our family custom. We use a new tight-weave cotton sheet for our Thanksgiving tablecloth, and guests write a note of thanks with permanent Sharpie markers
Reading praises written on the makeshift cloth, I see that they chronicle our family-trek. Matrimony added new family members. A baby’s arrival was announced one year, and by the next November she was five months old. Toddlers’ artwork stands out, and preschooler penmanship progressed from ABCs written backwards to perfect spelled thanksgivings.

Gratitude is more than good manners. Expressing thanks is choosing to see what is good. Even when the sky is falling, I can be thankful for Chicken Little’s warning.

In a wealthy society, people are surrounded by many manmade objects. Many citizens are generations removed from the slower paced farm life where man interacted with God in growing food. We’re better at sniffing Starbuck’s coffee than smelling roses.

To cultivate gratitude, give yourself a thanksgiving-workout. Go outdoors. Don’t have anything plastic in sight. Just go out in the fields with God. Breathe deeply. Look up and absorb the enormity of the heavens. Bend low and peek at tiny blades of browning weeds. Watch while autumn bugs maneuver their grassland forest. And give thanks.

If a trip into the country or backyard isn’t possible, follow the psalmist’s lead and thank God for your life. “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14).

How often am I grateful for toes that balance or for the bottom of my feet, long lasting and sturdier than tire-tread? For ambidextrous hands, sense of smell, emotions, and muscles -- I forget to give thanks for this physical body that propels me through life. But I tend to complain when an ailment interferes with proper function.

Last year after Thanksgiving, I heard from reader Judy Bowyer in Garland, TX, one of the 4,000 receiving the column by e-mail. She adopted our tradition and wrote: “I have to tell you my success story about the tablecloth. Before Thanksgiving, I went to Linens & Things (because I had a coupon!) to look for a sheet for my ‘memories’ tablecloth.

“But while there, I found they had a sale on quilts and I had a sudden inspiration. My home lends itself to country cozy things. I chose a twin sized quilt that had patchwork square designs, but were in light colors. . . . I placed it on the table and provided the permanent pens for remarks to be written . . . . The signing of the quilt was a huge success and I have no doubt will become one of our many ‘traditions.’"

At the Messecar house in a few days, I’ll spread our keepsake cloth on the dining table. In 2003, my dad’s entry on the tablecloth was Psalm 118:24. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.” Delighting in Jesus, salvation, and another sunrise is good advice. Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Veterans Day-God's Storehouse

John Kline, former sergeant and squad leader in WW II, kept a diary of his experiences during the Ardennes Offensive, commonly called the Battle of the Bulge, fought December 16, 1944 -- January 28, 1945. For many years he kept the hand-written 15 pages in a cigar box. Later, he reconstructed the three days he fought and his capture; his diary may be read on the Internet.

More than one million fought in this battle: 500,000 Americans, 55,000 British, and 600,000 Germans. Casualties were some of the highest in WW II, with the official US total reaching 80,987, including wounded, captured and dead. British casualties were 1,400. The Germans suffered 81,834 casualties. The scared and nervous, age 19 Sergeant Kline, heavy machine gun squad leader, said he could “personally confirm that a snow covered tree stump will actually move. That is, if you stare at it long enough.”

After several days of treacherous fighting, Sergeant John Kline was captured and taken as a prisoner of war on December 19th. This began over four months of captivity in which he walked a total of 525 miles. He was “sheltered” for about five weeks of that time, lost 50 pounds, and was not ambulatory when liberated.

For those still engaged in the battle, it raged on into a snowy January, the coldest on record for the Belgium/German border. Sub zero temperatures froze fuel and feet. Tanks and trucks were started every half hour to avoid oil freezing. Many historians believe the bitter weather actually prevented even more casualties. Perhaps their assessments coincide with what God said about himself.

God spoke with Job, revealing the forces he sets aside for perilous times: “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle?” (Job 38: 22, 23).

By Friday the 13th in April, an American soldier came into John Kline’s line of view and held out chocolates. The young soldier knew his grueling ordeal had ended. Moved to a field evacuation hospital, he began his journey of gaining weight and strength. Leaving the medical tents, he flew to a General Hospital in Paris, France. He then flew home to the states, where he remained in an Indianapolis hospital for an additional two weeks of observation.

On May the 20th, he returned to his hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana. He got off the bus 12 blocks early thinking “I’m home. I’m home.” He walked and ran the rest of the distance to greet his wife, and to see his nine month old son, Teddie, for the first time.

In 1999, John Kline joined a group of 32 WW II veterans who returned to Germany. At a prearranged meeting, they greeted former German soldiers. Warmth and friendliness prevailed, and after exchanging stories, one German said with tears in his eyes, “It is hard to believe that we each stood up in the Ardennes and tried to kill each other."

It is my belief if mothers’ prayers about wars prevailed, there would be no more clashes between rulers. Please God, shorten the times we fight among ourselves. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Reach deep into your storehouses, the ones preserved for days of battle.

To all who served, thank you and Happy Veterans Day.

You may contact Cathy Messecar at

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Teeth Marks in Apples

Shopping in the supermarket earlier this week, I glanced around the apple bins. When I found our favorite variety, I looked for the choicest fruits. The apples were in slanted containers, within easy reach of children. Quite a few Red Delicious and Gala apples had tiny teeth marks.

I’ve witnessed this sneaky sampling by children. When a parent is busy bagging cucumbers or carrots, their hungry preschooler spots a shiny apple. Apples are to eat, right? The child bites into the luscious fruit before dad or mom spies the misconduct. Teeth buried in apple skin, they are told, “Put that back.” The fruit isn’t ruined completely, but no longer is it perfect.

In the beginning, when Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden which meant “paradise,” perfect harmony prevailed. Ideals existed for man and woman, llamas and lions, birds and bees. But, through calculated plans, an evil presence destroyed perfection.

During the creative process, God surveyed his daily handiwork and “saw that it was good.” After gathering the seas into basins, exposing land, fashioning light rays we see and light rays we don’t see, God “saw that it was good.” When man and woman and all the elements of earth were completed, “God saw that it was very good” (Genesis 1).

Faultless, Adam and Eve lived in the garden of God. But a spoiler entered the perfect scene, and deceived the man and woman living in paradise. Satan twisted the truth. The woman and man believed his words rather than God’s, and sin entered the world. Satan said they could eat a forbidden fruit and not be harmed. Said they could sink their teeth in it and not be tainted. Satan lied.

After a few generations, God gave written laws to help people reconnect with truth. God gave moral and civil laws through Abraham’s lineage. He gave standards. He drew lines in the desert sand. The laws were perfect, but people found themselves imperfect. Keeping every law was simply impossible.

From Genesis to Malachi, the Old Testament books, God left inspired stories of partial successes and failures. A reading of those accounts reveals how much help is needed to live upright. Human strife is constant. Current, evening news discloses that nothing has changed about human nature in thousands of years. The fruit is spoiled. It has teeth marks in it. The word of God tells how fresh fruit is grown.

I realize that not everyone believes the Bible. Some think it is an ancient book with no relevance to today. I’ve heard this question, “How could any book written so long ago, apply to our lives today?” The answer lies in the author. The words weren’t dreamed up by a Neanderthal man. The Creator inspired writers to pen events that would stand the test of time, stand the test of cultures, and stand the test of every philosophy. Creator God who knows us better than our closest relative, left a guidebook.

I am in awe that God told a writer the story of creation. And that writer recorded dialogue between God and the first man and woman. And when Eve had her first baby, her words of love are on a page in black and white. About relevancy of the Bible, Corrie Ten Boon said she marveled that “the ink was dry on the pages.”

The answers to the basics of life are in the Bible. God’s ordained pattern for love, sex, and marriage is in the Bible. By reading the Bible, many of the life style issues of today could be viewed from God’s perspective.

In Jesus Christ, God promises a fruit that is perfect, that has no teeth marks in it. To those who seek and find him he gives the unspoiled fruit of the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25).

Cathy Messecar at