Soap, a brush and a baseball bat

I held the Ivory soap close to my nose and breathed in deeply. There was nothing quite like the smell of a fresh bar of soap out of the package. The smell carried me back to my days of late summer evenings of avoiding my bath as a boy.

Needless to say I would always need one after playing ball in the light of the street lamps.
Around the bases were Charlotte, Clay, Bubba, Charlie and Jennifer. Some were on base while others anxiously awaited me as I prepared the swing the bat on Bruce’s pitches.

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God’s favorite postman

I was needing a laugh, so I hope you will join me as I recall an early music experience.
Throughout history, God has used many ways to send messages to us, angels, Moses, Jesus and others. I find one of his most interesting messengers is the weather.
When I was a child, I once appeared at a little Church of God tucked into the suburbs of North Atlanta.
This particular evening a guest minister was on the pulpit just preaching up a storm. That preacher began a sermon on the sacrament of baptism.
I always loved to see the late Hee Haw star the Rev. Grady Nutt. He is one of the funniest preachers I ever had the pleasure of watching.
On baptism, he would say there are “no instructions in the Bible about how to baptize” but from his descriptions, there are endless lists of things that can go wrong in the process.
Baptist preachers — they get right in there with ’em. About all Methodists can do is drop the cup.
The definition of baptism is to immerse or dip in water.
Nutt used to suggest using the word “dip” interchangeably with Baptist. Then millions would be members of the Southern Dip Church, the Southern Dip Convention; the group president would be the Big Dipper.
Baptising is no easy task; I had a friend who volunteered for new preacher duty at a Bible college one time and those fellers who were anxious to show they knew how to baptize nearly drowned him.
Nutt would say one thing to remember when baptizing in moving water is always point the person’s head upstream. You tend to lose them the other way.
Some folks tend to hold them under until they bubble — this might explain the number of Methodists.
Anyway, the visiting preacher began berating Methodists and the denomination’s approach to baptism through sprinkling. I could almost see the static electricity making my mother’s hair stand up on end as she listened.
Just about that time a bolt of lightning came down from the heavens, striking the transformer outside the little church and knocking out the power.
That preacher jumped three feet in the air, came down, hit the ground and without missing the rhythm of his message, “But no matter how they do it, those Methodists are good folks, too.”
He did not say another word about Methodists. My mom just could not keep from laughing.
I think God sometimes likes to send us a little postcard by airmail just to remind us he is listening.

The good news will outweigh the bad

If you’ve watched a lot of news reports, especially since many stories air over and over again at noon, 5:00, 5:30, 6:00 and 11:00, and every hour in between, you may soon come to believe that the world is in terrible trouble. Violence, crime and tragedies permeate everywhere you look. How many of you have asked, “What is the world coming to?”
I know I have in the last couple of weeks.
I have heard one of the first things some therapists do to treat depression is to encourage the patient to stop watching the news. Amazingly, it often helps.
People often carry the weight of what they see and hear in the news with them. They worry about the family or business person who lost their home to a fires, the child who disappeared from his home, the children of a mother killed by a drunk driver, the elderly woman who was a victim to a robbery, a man losing his life by the actions of another, the victims of riots, a foreign plague creeping across our land, or violence of war.
Have you ever heard someone say, ”People just don’t care about others anymore.” I think it’s obvious there are some that some do not, they care only for themselves, but the majority do care. I think people earnestly care, but often do not know what to do about it or do not think they have the time to show it.
Each week, I have an opportunity to read through a volume of news, good and bad. There are a number of tragedies in the pages and on the screens, sadness because of loss of family and friends, crimes throughout our country and the like.
But also within the pages are stories of people who do care. People who go the extra mile to make a difference. People who are being honored for their service by awards. Politicians and public servants who try their best to serve the people to the best of their abilities.
Within your local community calendars each week are organizations needing volunteers to help relieve many of the horrors which are reported on the evening news. I would like to encourage you to take the time to read these. You can make a difference right in your hometown. It might be something as little as buying a suitcase to donate through a local organization for a new foster child so he/she will have a place to keep belongings rather than in a paper sack. It might be giving time at your local Literacy Center to help someone read, or just to watch their children while they learn. It might be giving blood to help an accident victim. It might be cleaning out your closet to donate items which can be used by someone else through your local thrift store which provides help to area families in need. These are just a few of dozens of groups and organizations that are in the good news. By sharing a few hours a week, or just a hour every now and then, you could really make a dent in making our world a better place.
I cannot explain the sadness, and the unjust actions we have seen in the last weeks, but I am sure that there are ways each of us can rise above it, make a difference in the communities we love, and show the world that those who try to divide our country and destroy what we are will not win our souls, our minds, our hopes and our dreams. We can send them packing, if simply by turning off the outside world and focusing on our neighborhoods, our towns, and uplifting all within our arm’s length.
I hope all of you can find something here that makes you feel good. Strive to find the good news that always outweighs the bad.

Are you as tired of cleaning as I am?

Yesterday, I laid down on the floor to clean underneath a desk and I am almost sure the dust bunnies were conducting a performance of “Richard II.”
You would have thought considering their namesakes at least they would have been doing something from the writings of Beatrice Potter or “Alice in Wonderland.”
But the battles waged to try to get them out and into the dust bin was monumental.
In the last few weeks, though I have motivated myself, keep doing a little each day, clean this, wash that, box this up, throw that away.
You know, I never realized how much I have accumulated in the course of day-to-day life and how much each and every piece accumulates dust. There are vases that never see a flower, candy dishes which never hold a sweet, bric-a-brac of every shape and describable size and substance and all of it wearing a patina of dust. There is so much that needs to be sold or simply thrown away. Even the house and drive needed washing.
Why is it so hard to let go of some items? I looked at some fifty-year-old documents that I held onto from my folks, could I throw them away? No… They were refiled. I found a big bag of documents not touched in 10 years but could I throw them away? No… back into the cabinet. How do I break this cycle of hoarding?
Many pieces I can easily let go of while others seem to be tied to my heart, my mind, and even my reason for existence as I hold them. I dusted off a Nina ship pen desk set which was a gift from neighbors when I was about 11. It has set on my desk ever since, you know though, I don’t remember ever taking the pen out to use it, but I still hold onto it, as a remembrance of those two neighbors.
Now, I understand holding tightly onto heirlooms, my late father’s razors, cuff links, and ties. I am still using his ties, tie clips, handkerchiefs. I actually bought many of them as father and birthday gifts when I was a boy. I have been debating shedding my late mother’s toy horse collection, while I appreciate it, having a mass number of horses around in the guest room, seems a bit much. I am getting closer to letting those gallop into the sunset, maybe one will stick around the corral to keep me company.
The furniture, lamps and other trinkets passed down the generations hold their places of honor, as my career memorabilia eases its spots in between. One thing I have learned during this time at home, things need to be combed through, cleared out and cleaned up even when there isn’t a reason to be stuck at home, its just, I have never sneezed so much when everything was dirty. I hate chasing these dust bunnies. Hey, come back here!