Christian Growth, Short Stories

Tradition Transgressions

I leave early for Sunday morning worship service. Punctuality patterns began as a child. 

Father and Mother would not excuse tardiness.

 

 The two mile drive takes only five minutes. I’m one of the first to arrive, and park at the front of the historic Church building. My car is in show-room condition.

Pam Ford Davis

Father believed in regular maintenance for all motor vehicles. Prevention saves costly repairs. My 1980 sedan may be outdated, but it serves me well.

Locking the car and stepping up to the handicap ramp, I grip the safety rails and shuffle to double mahogany doors. My arthritic hand reaches for the brass door handle. Autumn morning temperatures are evident by the cold brass against my flesh.

 Wish ladies still wore gloves. We’ve lost so many of our cherished traditions. Mother never went to town without her hat and gloves.

 

“Good Morning Sister Robinson,” said the church custodian.

“Morning.”

“Expecting early frost, weather man said.”

“I do hope my shrubbery won’t die. Such pretty blooms this Indian Summer.”

“Yes’mm.”

I quietly move from the vestibule to the worship center.

Good, sanctuary is empty. Soon it will be full of noisy children ignored by their gossiping mothers.  

Muffled sounds of singing voices capture my attention. The choir meets in an adjacent room.

 

Don’t recognize that one. Probably another long praise chorus.  Guess the old hymns aren’t good enough anymore.  

 

I glance at my wrist watch through bifocals squinting to see the time.

Bible Study should be about finished.

 

I do a wide visual sweep of the stately room.

Father and Mother donated such beautiful stained glass windows. New carpet color clashes. Nobody cares. Father always sat here, then Mother between us…

 

Looking at my watch again, I realized ten minutes passed. People filled the sanctuary and the organist played reverently.

“Nice to see you this morning, Ms. Robinson.”

“Reverend.”

The pastor motioned to a large number of people.

“Right this way.”

“Ms. Robinson, sure you won’t mind. I want these people to have this front pew. They are here to see our baptismal service and need the space. You can sit anywhere.”

This is my seat! I’ve sat here for eighty years! What gall!

 

He takes me by the arm and quickly lifts me to my feet. Stepping aside I feel faint. A long line of people find seats in the pew my family claimed decades before. With little choice I reluctantly find another place.

Knew that young pastor didn’t belong here. Hmph! Just wait till he wants a big donation!

 

Our worship hour begins with the baptismal service. Two large families are represented in the congregation to see their children take the step of obedience.

Remember my baptism.

Music fills time until the pastor steps up to the pulpit.

“Today we have seen a beautiful example of children’s simple faith. I hope and pray their parents will lead them in coming years to grow in that faith to strong Christian adults. Join me in the reading of Ephesians 6 verses 1- 3. I’ll be reading today from the traditional King James version.”

Surprises me he’d choose King James.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

The pastor said, “I chose this as my opening text to honor a very special lady among us. She has applied these commandments to her life. Ms. Robinson also gave up her usual seat to visitors for our baptismal service. Can we get her to stand?”

Waves of applause filled the sanctuary. A young man beside me helped me up and smiled at me as if I were his own cherished grandmother.

 

Oh, Lord…

 

“Johnny, bring her up front.”

My escort took my quivering arm and directed me to the altar.

“Church, this fine lady always honored her parents. She gave up an opportunity to teach in a large prestigious university, in order to assist her mom and dad as their health declined. She later refused to place them in a nursing home and cared for them herself until their passing. Each Christmas and Easter she places flowers in our sanctuary to honor them. Gideon Bibles are also given in their memory. Ms. Robinson you are the living proof of our Bible reading.”

He tenderly kisses my forehead, whispering “I love you.”

How could I have been so selfish?

 

“Thank you Pastor.”

Devotionals, Family, Marriage

He’s A Rebel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Pam Ford Davis

Are you a Rebel or a Yankee? Geographical boundaries largely influence your choice of label. Most are pretty proud of that distinction. I don’t reside at the Mason-Dixon line, but I’m from the Northeast and my husband is from the Deep South. Before I ever saw his face I was very aware of his homeland. A Syracuse radio station hired him for the graveyard shift, and promoted him heavily before he arrived.  The Rebel would soon be on the air.

Rebellion against God is not a slogan or promotional stunt. It is very serious to rebel against our Creator. “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man be above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion (Titus 1:5-6 NAS).”  

Paul urged his co-laborer to choose church leaders wisely. As believers, we can not make children serve the Lord. We can guide them in hopes of stopping rebellion before it starts. Billy and Ruth Graham lived out their faith before their children. Yet, Franklin confesses to rebellion in his heart in early years. That rebel is now a humble servant.

GUEST AUTHOR, Marriage, Poems

Secret Of A Successful Marriage

GUEST AUTHOR: VICTOR JASTI

It was their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

Contented, the couple sat together,

Listening intently to all the speeches made,

Followed by praises which amused them both,

Puzzled, guests, could not but ask, the question,

What is the secret of your marriage?

For in this age of marital discord and suspicion,

Couples don’t see eye to eye, let alone talk,

Hate the very sight, and the thought of each other,

But you seem to be in love, for whenever you see her, it is with a smile.

The husband answered, hesitatingly, I grew up all alone,

In an orphanage with none to call my own,

To get over the pain and the loneliness,

I worked hard to be on my own,

Esther was the only girl I dated,

Marriage, a simple one with close ones,

Esther’s father took  me aside,

Handed me a small gift, apologetic,

Expressing, that he cannot afford more,

Wishing us a happy married life.

Nervously I fumbled at the lone gift I received,

Opening the paper and the ribbon,

In the box was a large gold watch,

With a message etched out across the back,

Every day, at home and at church,

I wore the watch with the golden chain,

Proud to wear in fair weather or foul,

The entire fifty years I not only read the time,

But the secret message,

Which said, say something nice to Esther, daily.

 

Christian Growth, Devotionals, GUEST AUTHOR

Lord, I’m At The End Of My Rope

GUEST AUTHOR: EMILY SWANSON

Hebrews 13:5

It seems that when I get to the end of my rope I find God is already there.

The promise goes way back to Genesis 28:15, when God spoke to Jacob. His promise then was that He would not leave Jacob. He would take care of him. The writer of Hebrews reiterates this promise to them as he is referring here to the Genesis passage.

We all come to a place in our lives that we sometimes feel is the end of our rope. When that happens we feel all we can do is tie a knot in it and hang on. Go ahead; tie the knot…help’s a ‘comin! Our Father, Himself, has promised that He has not moved and left a “no forwarding address”. He is right where He has always been…just a prayer away.

We have all had offers from well-meaning people who say, “If there is anything I can do, just let me know.” Sometimes the need arises at the midnight hour and you are not about to call on such a one. But, our Father neither slumbers nor sleeps; He is available and He is able.

“Father, help me when I feel lonely, abandoned or helpless to know that You are there. Let me know that I am protected in the refuge of Your mighty arms. You are there to hear me, to help me, to protect me and to love me. I thank You and praise You. Amen”

Family, Uncategorized

Family Ties

Every heart needs a place to call home. Where did I come from? Where did it all begin and when?  Hushed whispers in our mind place an ongoing curiosity about our ancestors. Each person who blazed the trail to America form pieces of a puzzle; with clues of who we are. During our childhood we do not have concerns about genetics or heredity. Our family circle security includes parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Gnawing questions about our family background usually arise in our mid life time span, as we face our own frailty. We wonder if we will leave behind any mark on society; did we really accomplish anything of lasting value?

Another common reason that a spark of interest in our family heritage ignites is a growing appreciation of relationships with family and friends. The only citizens of the United States tracing their roots to the native soil are our American Indians. Europe is where my genealogy story began.

Family history is more than a hobby. To many around the globe it is an unquenchable thirst for family knowledge. I share in that excitement in part, because of my husband’s deep involvement. He began his information gathering about twelve years ago. It led him to closeness with relatives he never even knew.

Now, he organizes the annual family reunions. History as well as current information is shared in his family newsletters on Davis Buzz Internet site: normdavis.org. Our Davis family line likely traces back to England and Ireland. His search continues hoping to one day discover the parents  identity of  his great, great, great grandfather, Loughton Davis.

As a young girl in school we were asked what nationalities were included in our families. Asking Mom she quickly responded: “English, Irish, French, and Dutch.” That creates a patch quilt representation of Europe. It would be fascinating to learn the circumstances leading to the relocation risks of our first settlers.

It is said “You can take the man out of the country; but you can’t take the country out of the man.” That truth is demonstrated and revealed with traditions and customs of Europe now shared in small towns and large cities across our nation. Some holiday traditions are explained to each generation and respected. To carry on these observances is a way to honor our ancestors and our heritage. Sadly some customs have lost their true meaning and are now just meaningless habits. Maybe it is time to unlock those mysteries as Americans.

Europe’s appeal to tourists has been a magnet for centuries. The sights, sounds and fragrances in each country are unique and varied. In America we have sampled those delicacies from our great melting pot. The blending of spices in a favorite recipe brings out a zesty flavor. The mixing of styles of music, literature and artwork from Europe is transported to us. It creates a fresh new specialty.

 When certain arts are held separate such as a great Italian Opera or a French Ballet we are transported straight back to Europe. Our two countries linked as allies through the tragedy of wars that marred their landscape, and scarred the lives of soldiers. Today we face common challenges against terrorism and economic crisis. I hope our trials will strengthen old relationships and build new ones. Remember, every heart needs a place to call home. Many hearts beat with memories of Europe.

Devotionals

Soft Touch

How would you describe your personality and witness for Christ? Do you use high pressure and hard sell tactics comparable to a used car salesman? Do you twist the arm of a contact and demand a response? Have you decided you will not take no for an answer, and pressure those who cross your path?   

If this description fits you to a T, some may give you an A for effort, but likely few will respond to your appeals. Even our military runs more smoothly with an all volunteer recruitment than a draft system. Our freedom of choice brings resistance to any efforts to rope and brand us. We prefer to see all sides of an issue and decide for ourselves.         

Maybe you seem to fall in line with a soft approach when sharing your faith. With compassion you see the needs of others, feel their concerns and want to share how the Lord helped you in difficult times, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NAS).” Our deepest desire is that they would come to a saving knowledge in Jesus Christ. “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation (Romans 10:1 NAS).” We may plead and share the sense or urgency; but a person can not be forced to follow. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20 NAS).”        

Love is a powerful force and is difficult to resist. If we love others as Jesus loves them, we will be soft, pliable and an instrument of service. When others are drawn to love in us, they are ready to receive the source of all love, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:17-18 NAS).” 

There is a choice for each we touch with the gospel; they must each personally decide what they believe. God holds His children accountable, for the use of all blessings He has lavished upon us. We have a story to tell; will we cram it down the throats of resisting rebels, or will we spoon feed it to those hungry for the bread of life? “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1 NAS).” Lord, make me a soft touch. When I open my mouth, teach me to first open my heart and draw from your living waters of salvation.

Family

Granny Pam

It is fascinating to hear the names selected by grandparents today. Traditional choices of grandmother, grandfather and grandma and grandpa are still used. From that foundation our labels go off in many directions. You know who you are; enjoy your new identity.

Both sets of my grandparents were grandma and grandpa; so we also used last names when referring to them. I never thought much about choosing a classification when I would one day become a grandparent.      

When our two children were small we lived about fourteen miles from my husband’s home town. His family still lived there and we got together often. His grandparents were called Grand Ma’ and Grand Pa’ Davis, and Granny and Grand Daddy LeMasters. Our children spent quite a bit of time with their Great Granny and Grand Daddy. Though in her 60’s Granny played right along with our children. She got down on a quilt pallet and wrestled, using the pre-school version of course. Her pleasure resulted in heart-felt laughter. Granny became a role model to me for grand-parenting. Twenty years later when the blessings of grandchildren arrived, I became Granny Pam. My husband gladly accepted his role as Grand Daddy. If the name fits, wear it.