Friday, June 27, 2008

David and Goliath

Book Drawing: Leave a comment here or email me at and I’ll enter your name for the June book drawing to win a copy of The Stained Glass Pickup and announce the winner next week.

An Israelite father sent his young son David to a battlefield to check on his brothers who served there. As he arrived, home team soldiers formed ranks against the enemy.

A very rag-tag army, with only two swords, readied to fight oppressive Philistines. King Saul and his son alone had weapons because the oppressive Philistines didn’t allow blacksmith shops in Israel. Would I even crawl out of my tent to face an enemy if I only had a garden tool to defend country and self?

Despite Israel’s poor armory, soldiers left camp “shouting the war cry” (1 Samuel 17:20). David heard the rallying call and listened to stories about a defiant, tree-trunk giant, a champion Philistine who maligned God every day. Over nine feet tall, he’d bullied for 40 days, morning and evening.

David expected retaliation from his fellow Israelites, those brave soldiers he looked up to, but on that dewy morning, giant Goliath again bellowed threats and the entire army “ran from him in great fear” (1 Samuel 17:24).

Every day the same scene repeated itself. Israel’s soldiers gave battle whoops, thunderstorms making idle threats, but the army barometer read “low morale.” Who would rescue Israel?

That’s when Victory-Maker-God called a sturdy shepherd boy to carry out his purpose. David enlisted, and his bravery directed the soldiers back to their real champion against evil — God.

Although handy with a slingshot, the homemade tool and the shepherd boy’s skill were only a small part of the later success of routing enemies. David made a speech to Goliath that revealed his heart-set. He said, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty . . . whom you have defied.”

Goliath never ever taunted Israel again. His bravado fell with a thud, and God required Goliath to pay the wages for his sins. His enemy cohorts fled, too. On previous mornings, despite King Saul and all the Israelites being “dismayed and terrified” (17:11), the soldiers lined up and faced their enemies with homemade weapons and a battle cry.

Granted, not much changed, but they did show up each day. I think of the many people who get up each morning in poverty, sickness, or worse, and nothing ever seems to change. For those, remember that God sent a boy and a slingshot to shore up Israel’s faith in God. A seemingly small rescuer is often God’s way of helping out.

God is a courage grower. Whenever we face difficulties, he can change fear to faith and lift hope as a battlefield banner. God, of massive proportions, can rout doubt and our daily giants.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Tree Trunk Marriage Counselor

Book Drawing: Leave a comment here or email me at and I’ll enter your name for the June book drawing to win a copy of The Stained Glass Pickup.

If laundry is taken down to a certain basement, watch your step. Be especially careful because a very large log is in the bowels of this house. This tree trunk, well it’s a marriage counselor.

When visiting a long time friend in Massachusetts, he gave us a tour of Cape Ann. As we drove past landscapes, seascapes and landmarks, our host Chris Larsen, told us tidbits of information about locales and locals.

As we passed one home, Chris said his grandmother and step-grandfather had lived there. Then Chris told us about the earlier marriage advice his granddad gave him. He invited Chris into the basement, and on the way said, “Always let the wife win.”

In the basement, to Chris’ surprise, sat a heavy log with spikes protruding. His granddad said whenever he felt marriage related frustrations, he retreated to pound a heavy-duty piece of metal into the log. “By the time you’re finished hammering in the spike your frustration is gone.”

It doesn’t take too long after wedding vows before irritants surface. For married couples who draw battle lines, things as small as a muddied kitchen floor or an over budget purchase can cause words and worse to be hurled.

A wise wife knows words can wound like arrows, and that “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). An astute man teaches his family forgiveness—he leads in charity.

When both parties yield to God’s love, it doesn’t matter if the couple met in Kindergarten or through a marriage broker. God’s lived-out love always trumps backgrounds and personalities. One man said he’d just like to go to sleep and let God create a wife for him. Yep, he knew it would cost him a rib.

With nearly 41 marriage years under the same roof, I recommend two loving habits to those who long to strengthen marriages: respect and common courtesies. Respect the contributions that each person brings to the relationship. No spousal belittling allowed in private, in public or behind backs.

Also, work common courtesies into every day: Thank you. You’re welcome. May I get you anything? Sure, I’ll scratch your back.

All problems have solutions, as a novice husband learned when he asked his new bride, “Now that we are married, do you think you will be able to live on my small income?"

"Of course, dearest, no trouble," she said. "But what will you live on?"

Maybe a trip to the hardware store is a good idea. Pick up the large bag of spikes.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Appreciate Dads

Book Drawing: Leave a comment here or email me at and I’ll enter your name for the June book drawing to win a copy of The Stained Glass Pickup.

My husband, David, told me about a very tired truck driver dad. Twelve at the time, David was with his dad at the Houston port to buy six barrels of molasses for their dairy farm. They were paying for their purchase inside an office where truck drivers came to finish their paperwork.

The trucking office would give each semi-truck driver a cold Coca Cola, in a thick green glass bottle. The cool drink helped offset the blistering summer heat and long waits to get loaded or unloaded. Drivers could drink it in the office or pay the bottle deposit and take the refreshing drink with them.

This particular driver had a wife and child in his truck. In 1959, the 18 wheelers were not what they are today. In 2008, some of the long haul trucks have luxury walk-in sleepers and the berths can transform into a sitting area. Now, trucks have power steering, air-ride seats, air conditioning and room to drive comfortably.

Truck cabs of yesteryear were small and rarely air conditioned. Just steering a truck around town on a humid Houston day might cause the toughest man to long for a different job. The single, cot-size sleep area could only be accessed by climbing through an opening between the cab and sleeper, the entry a bit larger than a welcome mat.

Back to the dad in the freight office, he asked if he could buy an additional Coke and then paid two bottle deposits. My husband, even as young as he was, noticed the driver’s weariness, perspiration, slumping shoulders. He then watched as the dad went to his truck and gave one cold drink to his wife and one to his child.

Too often we forget the hard work that dads do: the long hours, the sleepless nights when bills to grocer, doctor, repairmen and such don't match income. Their health may even be compromised so the wife and kids can live a more comfortable life. And for the most part they aren't whiners. They don't want hero awards. They just want respect and love from the ones they are honor bound to shield.

A Nomadic tribe says that a woman is the tent pole. If they are, then the men are the fabric that protects and holds it all together. They provide security and courage and literally lay down their lives daily for their families.

I have a very soft spot in my heart for labor intensive work that men do, whether they work at computers or at the helm of draglines digging gravel pits.

Give thanks for your dad. Remember most dads just want to be hugged and thanked for what they supply. And give them an additional kiss on the cheek for those extras, the times they handed their icy colas to you.

Many thanks, dads, and Happy Father’s Day.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tomorrow, Tomorrow

May Winner of book drawing: Alta G. from Texas

Book Drawing: Leave a comment here or email me at and I’ll enter your name for the June book drawing to win a copy of The Stained Glass Pickup.

Coming in September: A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts
Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify the Holiday
by coauthor Cathy Messecar.
Full color hardback gift book. Check out what others are saying about the book

"Fiddle deedee, I'll worry about that tomorrow," said Scarlett O’Hara, the heroine in Gone With the Wind. On that occasion she shoved her worries to the next calendar day, and she has many present day cousin-procrastinators, including me.

Procrastination means putting off a project until a later date, especially habitually doing so. Delaying decisions, avoiding messy activities or putting off confrontations is as common as sunrise for some folk, but strategists have developed helpful solutions.

Hypnotists claim they can de-procrastinate dawdlers. The Japanese developed psychological methods for dealing with the hesitant. Books and CDs offer self-help. But will habitual delayers follow through by buying the products, and then reading or listening? That’ll probably happen tomorrow, too.

Support groups exist for stallers. I imagine attending a meeting and feeling the warm welcome. "Hello, my name is Cathy, and I’m a procrastinator." These groups actually exist and sponsor preventive programs where the got-it-together folks mentor those lacking initiative.

Written centuries ago, wise Solomon’s advice is still relevant today, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might"(Ecclesiastes 9:10). The same verse in The Message is, "Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!"

God’s system in the natural world is a good pattern to follow. The continual action of spring, summer, fall and winter keeps the earth recycling, aiding it to be more tidy and functional. Nature’s cycle of growth, producing, and rest is worthy of imitation. If any season skipped its timeslot, chaos would reign. Timeliness is important.

Most have experienced sheer joy after confronting a dreaded chore or problem. Cleaning out a garage, un-cluttering a file cabinet or ridding any homestead of debris puts the mind at ease. A more carefree spirit cloaks shoulders when relationships are righted or hard work produces debt reduction.

Tackling slothful habits is commendable. Closet cleaning, e-mail clear-out, house painting, eating healthier foods, exercising — are any of those on tomorrow’s list? Fred Brooks observed, "How does a project get to be a year behind schedule? One day at a time."

Put into practice the advice from Solomon. He said far-sighted folks will tackle tasks at hand. He knew that put-off projects have a built in growth hormone. They loom larger and larger in thought and reality.

Someone said, "At a steady rate, we procrastinate. I’ve only this to say—if tomorrow ever gets here, it’ll be a busy day!" Tomorrow or today? Task accomplished or snowballing frustration? Has anything been shoved to the bottom of the list for way too long? Today is perfect for sticking out your foot and tripping that old enemy Procrastination.