Headwaters Wordsmithing

Writing for the actor, singer, and reader.

Birthed in the Northwoods of Wisconsin,  Headwaters Wordsmithing creates screenplays, lyrics, and books with an emphasis on faith in God...and a minor emphasis on coffee.  Make yourself at home.

Biscuits & Bluegills

The Reading Plan this morning has me reclining in the thick grass of a Judean hillside.  I'm within earshot of the Rabbi and his followers so I'm hearing the whole thing.  OK.  The Elixir of Knowledge has me embellishing the story a bit with a kinda "You Are There" flair.

But it's a great story 'bout  little things that become big things when they are given to Him...and broken.

10,000+ hungry people and He gies the Boys an impossible task.

"Feed 'em."

Sounds like another mandate from Upper Management.  "Do the impossible...and do it now!"

But that's the great thing about having Him as my boss.  He only asks of me things that He knows He can do.  He never asks the impossible.  Whatever He asks is possible because He is the I AM, the ultimate possibility.   (And I am NOT.)

So in this Elixir-saturated story, I hear one of the Boys share a discovery.

"Hey, I gotta kid here with some biscuits and a cuppala bluegill.  If that'd help."

And that is all He needs.  He breaks and blesses the kid's Happy Meal and soon there are thousands of full tummies and enough left over so the Boys get a nice brunch tomorrow.

Nice story.  Happy ending.

Now the Elixir gives me a gentle nudge with a cattle prod.

I have this dream.  A dream so small and frail compared to the reality of life and the world.  But I know the dream is from Him...and I'm supposed to do something with it.  So I give it to Him and trust Him to do the impossible.

And what does He do?

He breaks it.  Seemingly beyond repair.  And then says, "Trust Me."  And I have one of two choices.

I'm in or I'm out.

I believe or I leave.

It happened to the Boys.  He took a dream they had and broke it in front of them, throwing their dream up against the beliefs and rules of the world they knew...and they watched the dream shatter.  A lot of folks left Him that day but the Boys stayed.  Why?

The most Type-A of the bunch said it best.

"Where else we gonna go?  There's nowhere else to goWe're all in."

And the Boys are the ones who saw their dream come true...but not before it was broken beyond any hope of repair - for three days.

Biscuits and bluegills.  Not much of a dream, but it's enough when given to Him to do what He wants with it.  Even if He breaks it and makes it even less.

The last gulp of the Elixir reminds me of a happy consequence.

In His hands, less is definitely more...eventually.

So I wanna see what's gonna happen.

It's gonna be a hoot.

 

 

Good Wood

A guy from church, out of the goodness of his heart, brought over a load of firewood.  Free of charge.   Wouldn't take a dime.   Great guy.   Great gift.

But I can't get the wood to burn.   And it's not his fault.   Or mine.  Well, maybe mine.  If I had planned ahead a bit I wouldn't need to burn it this year.  I could let it age.

The wood still has that light-tan color of kindergarten-young firewood.
It doesn't have that weathered-cracked-grey of  prime, AARP-certified firewood.

It's heavy, still full ofmoisture.  So getting it started and keeping it lit is tough.  And it won't burn hot -  as in "taking the chill off 15 below" hot.

It just isn't dead enough.

So here I am, babysitting the wood stove.  The sun'll be up in 3 hours.  I have my Chain-Of-Lakes throw blanket draped over me, a steaming cup of the Elixir of Knowledge within easy reach, and the laptop tops my lap.

I swig the Elixir and watch the struggling fire.  And it hits me.

Am I "dead enough"?  Is that why my life is dark and cold like the world around me?

Nuts.  It's kinda early for honesty, but I'm already down the rabbit hole.  A thought wanders by, stopping long enough to poke my mind.

"Being dead to ..."    "Dying to ..."    "Present yourselves as ..."

All that stuff I've heard on all those Sundays.  Now I get it.  Sorta.  Too much of me and it's keeping me from bringing Him and His warmth to those around me.  I glow a little but I don't warm.  I'm not dead enough.

I remember a quote I heard.  It was made by Jim Elliot, a missionary back 50-60 years ago.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose."

He was murdered about 50-60 years ago.  But he was pretty dead long before he died.  He had died to self.  A "more of Him and less of Jim" kinda thing.

He burned bright and hot along with his buddies.  As did their widows.  Together they ignited a whole people, pouring His light and warmth into a very dark and cold place.

And that place was changed forever.

Yeah.

That's some "good wood".

The Little Picture(s)

The Big Picture.

Some days, it's just too...honkin'...big.  It casts a huge shadow over everything.

And it starts to tip.  It becomes the slow-moving approach of a catastrophe.

Like I have a bow seat on the Titanic...and here comes the iceberg.

Yeah.

Some days the Big Picture is just too much.  It's overwhelming.   I can relate to an exhausted Elijah collapsing under a lone juniper tree, throwing in the towel, telling the Lord he was done.

The game is lost so why even bother to punt, he says. (That's in one of the newer translations, I'm sure.)

 That's when I desperately need those Little Pictures.  Those little four-for-a-buck pictures taken in that little booth with the curtain.  Where it’s just me and a friend.   Or a happy bunch of idiots..

A quick snapshot of a good time.  Nothing that would seem to matter much to the world at large but it means the world to me.

My Little Pictures are probably different from yours but we all have ‘em...

Friendly banter with loved ones.     

Sharing a bad joke with a friend who'll groan appropriately and then criticize my intelligence..

Those cherished “
Just-saying-Hi” calls, texts, and emails.

A hot steaming cup on a cold frosty morning.

God painting a perfect cotton-candy sunrise.  Or sunset.  Pa-tay-toe.  Pa-tot-o.

Licking the frosting spoon as the smell of "homemade" fills the kitchen.

The enjoyable inconvenience of unannounced friends stopping by..

Rememberin' good times.


It's the Little Pictures that get lost in the shadow of the Big Picture.  But if I look,  I always find 'em there in the Quiet.

So go find those Little Pictures today. You might have to look a bit but you'll remember where you left 'em.  Once you get to the Quiet.

It'll be somewhere close to your heart.   I keep mine there, too.

 

Boys of the Bean Field

I walk in the door of an empty Little House.  The Wife is at worship practice, TechnoBoy's still at work.  First things first.  I start the Elixir of Knowledge then munch down something from a tupperware bowl as I wait for the brewing to cease.

A cup of the Elixir and I wander over to the laptop.  We both stare at the wall as the antiquated computer completes its start-up calisthenics..

I click on a file name.  I'm told it "cannot be accessed".

The Elixir of Knowledge sprays daintily across the screen in true Laodicean manner.

"Whaddaya mean it can't be displayed?!!", I roar, "It's right there, idiot!"

My frustration soon becomes despair.  It's...gone.  Gone!  Despair yields to defeat.

Forget writing something!  I'll quit, rent a movie, and stuff my face while watching someone else's idea dance across the screen.  And THEIR laptop didn't eat THEIR script!

I toss back what's left of the Elixir.  It swirls around the Scripture reading for the morning, laying bare a huge golden nugget that demands to be seen.  To be grasped.

I have no choice.  I pick it up and look at it.

Oh, man.  The Three.  The Trio of Death.  The Tre of Terror.

Joey-B, LZ, and Sham the Man.  David's mighty men in 2 Sam 23.

Joey-B took out 800 of the enemy in one battle.  800.  At one time.  No machine gun.
No grenades.  Just up close and personal.  With a spear.  That hasn't even been done in a Schwarzenegger movie.  At least not yet.

Another battle had the Israelites fleeing. And LZ was tired of running.  As the entire army fled, he turned and stood his ground.  One against an army.  He fought so long and so hard that his hand cramped up.  Big time. 

His sword "froze" to his hand.  And when the rest of the army returned, it was to gather the spoil from the dead.  There was no one left to fight.

And Sham the Man - he made his stand in a bean field. Everyone retreated and ran.  Everyone but Sham.  And when it was over there was one exhausted Israelite, a lot of smashed and trampled beans...and piles of dead Philistines. 

The Boys of the Bean Field.  The Three.

Never giving up.  Making their stand.  Doing the job God had given them.  No matter what.

I wander out to the kitchen for another cup of the Elixir.  As I go back to my electronic foe I have the strange sensation that I'm walking through knee-high beans.

I'm in, Lord.  No retreat. I'll start over and complete the job You've given me.

But please, don't let my writer's cramp be as bad as LZ's.

The Flight of the Hot Dog

Hot dogs and I go way back.  Back before Ralph Nader called them one of "America's Deadliest Missiles".  Good thing parents back then were into mass marketing and convenience.  If they weren't, I would have never witnessed "The Flight Of The Hot Dog".  And would've missed a great Kodak moment.

That memorable day involved my 3rd-grade birthday party, a kid named Bruce, a hot dog, and, of course, the physics of ballistics.

Mom had invited a herd of boys over for my birthday party.  There was games, hats, gifts - it was GREAT!  We sat down at the dining room table for lunch.  Mom had gone all out.  A white linen table cloth, bright birthday napkins, silverware, glasses, and real plates all circling a huge double-layer chocolate cake.

(Looking back from my own parental perspective, setting a table like that for a bunch of 3rd-graders is like decorating the town before Attila and the Horde arrive.)

We all got a hot dog.  With a bun.  And unlimited condiments.

(Read that to mean that Mom, the only adult present, went into the kitchen for some peace and quietYeah. There's an "oops".)

Bruce took that moment to make birthday party history.

(A little background on Bruce.  He's the kid that makes a Sunday School teacher reach for a crucifix to start the exorcism.  Or a quick pull on a hip flask, depending on your denomination.)

Bruce stood up, grabbed the mustard, and proceeded to baptize the 'dog in its Wonder Bun.  He then, in the true spirit of ecumenicalism,  did the same thing with the ketchup.  It was obvious that his family believed in total immersion.

Total.  Immersion.

He gently picked up the oozing bun then switched his grip, wrapping it up with both hands.

Like a horn-playing herald in a King Arthur movie.

Or a pygmy with a blowgun.  Your choice.

"Ooooh, BOY!", he grinned as he brought it to his mouth.

And that's when Mom walked in.

As Bruce went to bite down, he squeezed the bun.  It was like watching those movies where the ICBM comes outta the silo.  But more horizontal.

Decades later, it still plays through my mind in slow motion.

The well-lubricated hot dog blasted out of the bun, slipping the surly bonds of white bread as it trailed globs of yellow and red, its pink tube straining for the heavens.
 
Mom's eyes slammed wide open as her mouth started to make that first parental command most of us heard.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOO!"


The hot dog ascended about four feet, staying well within the troposphere, before gravity brought it crashing down.  It did an impressive bounce that barely missed the birthday cake then rolled down the middle of the table, leaving a vivid condiment contrail.

It finally stopped,  lying still and serene in a puddle of yellow and red that bled slowly into the white linen table cloth.

It was like being at Kitty Hawk but I don't think Orville and Wilbur's mom had the same reaction.  They didn't try to land on her tablecloth.

Looking back, my next birthday party was held outside on the picnic table.  And Bruce wasn't invited.  And neither were the hot dogs.

Hot dogs.  They don't taste like much, but I like 'em.

They remind me of ... fun.

It's All Bologna...

It's the start of the three-day Labor Day weekend, so I slept in.

Wow.  6:30.  I could get used to this.

I'm somewhat cognizant of my surroundings now, perched in the Chair with a cup of hot Elixir.

Outside a soft, thick fog turns the sun into a soft bright hole shining through a blanket.

A car crunches around the turn in front of the Little House, followed by Frank who is pedaling his bike downtown for some breakfast.
 
The neighbors' flag isn't moving, the morning so quiet that even the birds don't want to interrupt it.

I sip Elixir, staring at the grey world while my mind wanders down dusty aisles of memories & thoughts. 

Huh.  Now why did I dust off that?  Is that - yeah, it is.  Well I'll be...

It's the Oscar Mayer "Bologna" song.

Anyone else remember that?

"My bologna has a first name..."

The song plays as I see the little kid sitting on the curb with his sandwich. The jingle finishes with that curly little head bobbing emphatically.

"'Cause Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A."

Huh.
 
I stare into the cup, checking for signs of fermentation.  Nope.

Another thought forms.

I wonder who wrote that song?

I stiffly lumber over to the laptop.  A few key taps and the Web tells me it was a Christian comedian named Mike Williams.  Figures, eh?

A Christian brother writes a goofy little jingle that has me grinning, 40+ years after the fact.

A very little thing in the realm of music, literature, marketing, and media.  And still, I remember THAT this morning.  I'm not remembering caviar, steak, French cuisine, or funnel cakes.  Or the great media campaigns, past and present.

I'm remembering bologna.

A sip of the Elixir makes me chuckle as my mind reminds me.

"HeyNow don't be puttin' down bologna because, really, it's ALL bologna."

Yeah. It's all little things.  And it's the little things that matter.  Sometimes more than I think.  Another thought pops up.

He likes it when I do the simplest things for others in His name.  Like giving a cup of cool water to the thirsty.  Those little things.  The stuff that shows His love to others. The little stuff that shows He cares.
 
Huh.

I know a little ditty that'll be with me all day.  It's a great reminder of why I'm here on this planet.

"Je-sus says He loves it so......when I hand out cups of H-2-O."

Manna and the NFL

Finally.  The NFL season has finally begun.  Well, okay.  It's the PRE-season.  But the season is coming.   I sip the morning Elixir of Knowledge and delightfully ponder the thought.

Interesting thing about the "Not For Long" League.  Last year means diddly.
It was great if your team went all the way and got the Vince.  That's cool.

Really cool.

But it means diddly now.  It doesn't win games this year.  A new season.  A new set of games and weeks.  Each week made up of a new set of days.

The Elixir gently smacks me on the upside of a thought.

Yeah.  Good point.  Kinda the same..........sorta.

The Israelites wandered forty years in the desert.  There was no "yesterday" when it came to getting good manna.  It took daily effort to get it before the sun burned it away.  A daily commitment.

Kind of a "carpe mannium" thing.

And there were those who wanted to live off the past.   The manna-hoarders who, in spite of instruction to the contrary, tried to get more so they could do less.  So they could coast a bit.  Not work as hard.

Another pull of the Elixir and my mind hears voices. (It's okay...really...happens all the time...)

"'Becka! Benny! C'mere.  Take these extra bowls and load upThe Reubenowiczes are coming over tonight for cards and its gonna be a late one.   We'll grab extra manna today so we can sleep in tomorrow."

"But, Dad, Moses said-"

"Yeah-yeah.  Mr. "God-Says".   I'm still your fatherNow goGo!"

And, of course, the next morning...

"What is that smell, Miriam?!  The neighbor's camel got the "plops" again?
And why is my breakfast crawling out of the bowl?!
"

He gave us the example while He was here.  Every day He got together with the Father before the craziness of the day arrived.  He calls us to follow Him daily because He knows that's the only one way to handle these new daily challenges.  These new hills to conquer.

And it can't be done by coasting. 

I have to stay close to Him.   To have His power in me to make it up those hills.

I polish off the Elixir then stare at the bottom of the cup.  Maybe that's why I'm so......grumpy.   And anxious.  And out-of-sorts.

I'm a long way from Sunday.   I 've been a little slack on the "follow Me daily" thing.

Yeah.

I've been trying to live off that Sunday burst of spirituality.  Trying to coast through the week.  And it isn't working.

Not at all.

My mind catches a whiff of my heart.  Whoooooo-eeeeeee.

Either my manna's rotten -  or the neighbor's camel has the "plops".

Makin' Cookies & Movin' Caskets...

I've just spent the last 25 minutes watching Him make another sunrise, (can He cook or can He cook?!), and now find myself in The Reading Room.   The daily offering from "My Utmost for His Highest" talks about being known by Him and the flip side of that, Him being known by me.

Okay.  Makes sense.

Exiting The Reading Room, I take a sharp left and enter The Kitchen.

I grab a cup of The Elixir of Knowledge and plod into the Dining/Living/Family/Computer Room where I sink into The Chair.  The first swig floats the aforementioned daily offering up where my mind's eye can view it again.  The second swig starts to apply said offering to my life which, like the application of sermon notes on a Tuesday morning, makes me kinda uncomfortable.

Being known by Him.  Him being known by me.

Huh.

I know about Him.  I even visit Him on a daily basis.  OK.  Five minutes isn't real long, but still that's all I can usually squeeze in.

Another swig washes away the veneer from that last thought.

Yeah.  Knowing about someone is not knowing someone.  Reading about Australia isn't like getting a sunburn in the Outback...or having shrimp on the barbie...or racing a kangaroo...if folks do that.

I s'pose it means being more of a Mary and less of a Martha.

I wander back into The Kitchen for a refill of The Elixir.  I sip it as I watch a hummingbird working on a refill at the feeder.   My mind suddenly takes a sweeping exit ramp off "The Mary and Martha" highway to hurtle onto a road less-traveled with the road sign of"Cookies and Coffins".

I doubt Robert Frost has ever been down this one.

It has to do with two remembered stories.  And they just might be true.

Maybe.

The first is about the Taj Mahal.  The emperor, Shah Jahan, (not a Star Trek character), loved his wife so much that he made a monument to show the world the depth of his love.  The project, however, took on a life of its own, taking over 20 years to complete, covering 42 acres, and costing over $800 million (or over 52 million rupees...if you're curious...or not).

The story goes that the Shah, now years into the project, was talking with his architects when he stumbled over a large box.  Angrily, he told workers to move it out of the building.

The large box was his wife's coffin - the reason for the project.

The other story was heard over coffee in-between Sunday School and Church a few years back.  It goes like this...

The Husband has been bed-ridden for weeks.  The doctor's opinion is that he'll never get out of bed again.  The end is near.   Days pass as the man drifts in and out of conciousness.   One day, the smell of oatmeal-raisin cookies, his favorite, wafts up the stairs into his room.

The aroma nudges him awake and gently pulls him out of bed.  He creeps down the hall, the delicious smell calling him.   Carefully, cautiously, he goes down the stairs to shuffle slowly into a kitchen he hasn't seen in months.

There on the table are racks of golden-brown cookies.  He smiles as he weakly reaches for one...and yelps in pain as the wooden spoon smacks his hand away.

He looks into the angry face of The Wife as she waves the spoon at him.

"Leave 'em alone, HaroldThey're for the funeral!"

Yeah.

We can get so fixated on the doing we can miss the being.

Workin' hard.   Stayin' busy.  All for a good reason...but missing the point.

Like the guy who works 24/7 to provide the best for his family.  But he doesn't know his kids' or his wife's pizza preferences.  Or their favorite colors.   Or their best dreams and deepest fears.

Kinda like Martha. 

And kinda like me.

No matter what the consequences, I need to know Him better.  No matter where it may take me.  Whether it's in a boat or out walking on waves.

And that goes for my family, too.

I just hope The Wife's pizza preference doesn't include anchovies.

Set Phasers To ... What?!

The topic of prayer has been hitting my radar over the last month or so.  I go to church, the topic is prayer.  On the radio, the song is about prayer.  My online devotional, prayer.  The prize in the Cracker Jack box...no wait, that was a flattened plastic panda. 

Still, prayer had been front and center for awhile.

This morning, I'm sitting out on the veranda watching the sunrise.  Actually, I'm sitting on a plastic lawn chair next to the house with a little plastic table and a small thermos of the Elixir of Knowledge.

The Little-House-On-The-Corner has a sidewalk and two flower beds.  No veranda.

It's a quarter to five as the sky begins its transformation from night to day.  Like Lon Chaney becoming the Wolfman or those star-crossed lovers in Ladyhawke.  Wait.  That's not right.

Sunrises are times of hope.  The grand, unlimited possibilities of a new day being born.

Noon is the time when I realize the day has jumped the tracks and the Wolfman is rampaging through the village.

But not sunrises.

The orange clouds begin their imperceptible stroll to white as I take my first pull of the Elixir.  And the idea of prayer pops up like a daffodil through Spring snow.  Again with the prayer.

Huh.

Another hot swig and an anomaly forms.  A nice Trekkie word, "anomaly".  And it forms into a "Trekkie" thought.

Prayer and phasers.

I peek into the thermos and take a whiff.  No.  It is coffee.

Huh.

Ohhhh.  Yeah, that makes sense.

Kinda.

There was an old original Star Trek episode called "The Menagerie".  It was a two-parter.  The starship captain, Christopher Pike, and his crew are captured by this advanced bunch of aliens.

(You can tell they're advanced 'cause they have 45-pound-baby-butt heads.  Only the really smart aliens have those.)

Captain Pike and the crew are put in this rock-walled zoo cage with an impenetrable glass front.  And the captain does the first thing anyone with testosterone would do.  He blasts away with his phaser.  The phaser doesn't work.  He tries again.

Nothing happens.  Nothing changes.  Still trapped.  Still captive.

He drops the phaser in disgust.

The camera rolls, yadda-yadda, until the Big Moment.  The crew is sleeping...a rock door slides silently open...an alien hand reaches for the phaser lying nearby...Captain Pike leaps on the alien and grabs it by the throat...(turns out, the alien's a wuss)... the alien turns into a budget-conscious dinky Godzilla...the captain threatens to kill it if it doesn't stop the illusion...the 45-pound-baby-butt head reappears.

Captain Pike then grabs the phaser and points it at the alien's Gerber-like cranium.  He threatens to pull the trigger to see if it really doesn't work.  The alien caves.  All illusions vanish.

The crew looks around.

Their cage is full of holes.

They could've left at anytime.

They were actually free.

Huh.

It really is like that, isn't it?

He's given us the most incredibly powerful weapon ever known.  Prayer.  And the Enemy, the original butt-head, creates the illusion that it doesn't work.

So we won't use it.

So we won't realize its power.

The sky is now a brilliant yellow-white that will soon give way to a full-blown day. The Elixir is almost gone.  And my bare feet are reminding me it's 48 degrees.  Time to go inside.

I get up from the chair.  The neighbors aren't up yet.  No one's around.

I strike my best action pose, pointing the small thermos at the alien who is being played by a robin on top of the fire hydrant.  I softly bellow in my best "Kirk" voice - (that's as in "Captain", not "Cameron") -

"Set all ----- prayer ----- phasers -- to full!      Fire as ----- He ----- directs!"

Thaaaat's what I'm talkin' about...

Make it so, eh?

Joy in the Bubbles...

Dirty dishes.  I know, I know.  I should be thankful for dirty dishes.  It means there was something to eat and perhaps a meal shared with laughter, witty banter, and taste-bud-tinglings.

But the meal is now reduced to a sinkful of dirty dishes.  And The Little-House-On-The-Corner doesn't have a dishwasher.   Well, technically we do.  But I'm letting him sleep in.  TechnoBoy has lawnmowing and roof work on today's agenda.  Of course he doesn't know that.  Yet.  It'll be a "Good-Morning!" surprise in about, oh,  32 minutes.

Right now, it's me and the dishes.

I flip on the hot water and reach behind a cabinet door for the Joy dish soap.  I squirt a big dose of the yellow stuff into the sink.  I pause briefly which allows time for Epiphany #1 to take place. 

I shut off the water, put the stopper in the sink, and turn the water back on.  And, out of necessity, once again add another healthy squirt of yellow which, this time, begins to bubble.

I watch the tiny cloud form before succumbing to the siren call of the Elixir of Knowledge.  I quickly feed  the coffee-maker some coffee grounds and water.  I pause, hovering over the magical button that brews the "Beverage of beverages", imagining the aroma soon to waft through The Little House.  I push the button and turn back to the sink.

A huge towering cloud of bubbles is climbing out of the sink.

I attempt to herd the cloud back into the sink, using my arms like that the picture of Jesus carrying the lamb.  (You know - the one on the bookmark you got way back when at VBS ?  Yeah.  That one.)

Suds slide over my arms on its way to the microwave.  It's like trying to hold an entire litter of kittens.

Then it happens.  Epiphany #2.

I shut off the water.

The cloud stops moving.  I fight the urge to mimic Moses and pitch a tent until it moves again.  Instead I lift a stack of dirty dishes and slowly lower them into the cloud.  And that's when my hands exercise the doctrine of total immersion - into hot scalding water.

The ensuing freefall of place settings and muffled crash is caused by my hands jerking up and out, flinging suds onto cabinets, ceiling, and, of course, the microwave.  My exclamation is almost shouted...and it is not "hallelujah".  No.  Nothing of worship-song quality..

I glance around, my throbbing hands held up to my chest as if I'm begging for a doggie treat.  The Wife and TechnoBoy sleep through the crash and the exclamation.  I'm still a solitary, scalded man.

I gingerly wipe angry-red hands on a dishtowel before pouring a cup of the Elixir.   I stagger out to The Chair in the Living Room part of the "Dining/Living/Family/Computer Room".  (If the TV is on, the Living Room becomes the Family Room...and if the laptop is open on the Dining Room table it becomes the...well, you get it...)

I sit, alternately blowing on the Elixir and my hands.  As hyperventilation sets in, random thoughts begin to spark and ricochet.  My fingers are now responding to commands so I tap on the nearby smartphone, a present from the DAGU and SIL - (Daughter All Grown Up & Son-In-Law).  As its name and the circumstances suggest, I probably shouldn't be using one.

My fingers eventually manage to google ""bubbles" in the Bible".  Up pops Proverbs 18:4 from a translation called "The Voice".  It tells me that "words bubble up from waters deep within a person."

Yeah.

I look at hands which have gone from the DefCon 3 of lobster-red to the DefCon 2 of raw salmon.

I sigh in disgust.

My deep water words obviously bubbled up through a hot sulphur spring.  And the words didn't bubble.  They spewed.

I sag back into The Chair, rather disappointed with myself.  A sip of the Elixir floats up another verse. 

"Don't be worried.  The joy of the Lord is your strength..."

Well then.  Okay.

Enter Epiphany #3.

My mind sees a huge yellow bottle sitting on the edge of Heaven.  The JOY of the Lord....

A loud angelic chorus suddenly sings that particular chord, the one in the commercials when something "heavenly" happens.  The massive bottle of JOY tips slowly - majestically - over,  releasing a long sparkling squirt that falls...right into my life.

Ohhhh.  So that's -

He provides the JOY which causes those daily agitations of life to produce "bubbles" - a heavenly reaction that keeps the dirt, debris, and the crud of life from sticking to me.

Leaving me clean and smelling like...well...JOY.

The JOY of the Lord.  It changes "grungy & nasty" into "clean & fresh".  And that's the kind of change that folks notice. 

Especially folks with their own crud, that stuff that seems forever baked-on and just won't come off.  No matter what they try.

Huh.  So I could share the JOY... but ONLY if I let Him pour it into my life.  It's the only way to get those powerful cleaning bubbles.

On my own I make a sulphur-smelling froth that doesn't clean at all.  Nothing special there.  Nothing extraordinary.

A swig of the Elixir reminds me of there's a sinkful of dirty dishes lurking around the corner.

I stare at my hands, now a stinging shade of "I-can't-believe-I-did-that" pink.  The thought of putting them in hot water makes me shudder.

Epiphany #4 makes its entrance.

Yeah.  That'll work.

I gonna give a whole sinkful of Joy to TechnoBoy.

In about 28 minutes.

Getting Perspective via Office Equipment and Floor Coverings...

Every once in awhile there's a change in my life.  The older I get the less I really look forward to change.  I'm liking the routine. But sometimes change shows up.

Quick, surprising, and very kinetic change.

Change changes my perspective...which isn't necessarily bad, but it can be a bit disorientating.

Change of perspective means change of view which means change of position which means movement on my part.  And sometimes these movements are quick, surprising, and very kinetic..

Sudden movements aren't as much fun as they used to be.

My perspective changed while at work the other day. There were three things that brought about this change.  A scrap of paper.  A chair with rollers.  And gravity.

Stupid change.

I noticed a solitary scrap of paper under the desk by the computer tower.  It looked lonely, longing for its friends in the wastebasket.

Rolling the chair backwards and groaning like a wildebeest giving birth, I tried to grab the errant scrap while seated.  I was leaning forward, doubled over, and turning red.  I stretched just a bit further, moving ever-so-slightly forward on the chair seat.

And that's when it happened.

My frictional co-efficient decreased with the forward shift, thereby decreasing the adhesion of "my" seat to "the" seat, thereby enhancing the chair's ability for horizontal mobility in an opposite-and-not-even-close-to-equal reaction.

The chair shot out from under my pants, leaving me hanging.

For about a millisecond.

My co-workers felt the impact immediately.  Some got under their desks while others sat down in doorways.

I laid out in the open, mentally checking favorite body parts as little swirly fireworks slowly dissipated to the edges of sight.

Once my fellow employees realized there were no aftershocks, they came looking for the epicenter.  They gathered around my prone figure.

"Hey, Den - you OK?"

"Yeah."

"Ya wanna get up."

"No. Not yet. Thanks."

"OK."

They all left.  I laid there watching their shoes and socks disappear.  A realization hit me as I watched a final pair of argyle socks walk away in brown loafers.

I had been locked into that whole "comfortably-sitting" perspective.  I really liked that position.  Very comfortable.  Safe.

And this new position?  Not liking it as much.

But in this new position, I can look up -  with no problem at all.

Yeah.  That whole "hit rock-bottom, nowhere to look." thing.

I laid there for a bit, feeling likea beached beluga waiting for high tide.

And I had to smile.

He is always there during my rocketing ascents or my meteoric crashes, but I don't notice His presence until after that sudden, jarring thud.  And the little swirly fireworks.

Crashing and thudding.  Heckuva view-changer.  And a rather effective perspective-maker.  And I'm gonna learn from this experience.

I'll pay closer attention to what He says and what He wants me to do from here on out.  And see if I can avoid these sudden "drop'n'stops".

 Yeah.  I'm gonna do that.

Once the little swirly fireworks go away.

"The Squirrel Joke"....for better or worse...

I missed a squirrel this morning.

Not that I was aiming at it.   But I'm glad I missed it.

I was taking a healthly swig of luke-warm Elixir, (that's "Laodicean" coffee, for those of you following in the King James Version), when a squirrel darted across the street.  I don't know if younger squirrels do that for the rush or what, but it was almost a "Final Chapter/Call The Highway Department To Scrap Me Up" moment.

It's hours later.  I'm now sitting here safe at home, finishing off the final cup of Elixir before collapsing into bed.  And I'm remembering that squirrel.

And "The Squirrel Joke".

The Squirrel Joke was a big hit for a couple of days on the playground circuit back in 6th Grade before it disappeared like an one-season sitcom.

But I still remember it.  And I'm willing to share.  Even if I shouldn't.

"Sam crawled up into the abandoned tree house.  He looked out the glass-less window at the back of the dilapidated old house barely visible through the woods.

He heard a scurrying sound.  He turned quickly.  There in the doorway was a squirrel, standing still, staring at him.  Sam stared back.  Another scurrying sound and a second squirrel, twice as big as the first one, jumped in through the door.  It froze when it saw Sam.  It leaned in toward the smaller squirrel and, to Sam's amazement, talked to it.

"What's this doin' here?", it growled in a high voice.

"Dunno.  It was here when I got here."

Silence.  The small one shrugged.

"Whadda we do wit it?"

"Let's wait 'til Mikey gets here.  He'll know what to do."

A scurrying sound.  Another squirrel hopped through the door.  This one was twice the size of the second one.  It stopped and cocked its head.

"Why is this here?"

"Dunno."  "No clue."

Silence.  The biggest one looked at the other two.

"Wait until Mikey gets here.  He'll know what to do."

(Author's note: this joke was tailored to the interest and attention span of 6th Graders, (especially the girls).  As a professional courtesy, and to save the reader any undo angst and stupor, there are 2 to 4 more squirrels, each twice the size of the last, who have the same assessment of the situation.)

Sam heard a loud thud on the thick branch outside.  The other squirrels, now almost filling the treehouse, moved away from the door.  A huge furry head and a set of thick shoulders filled the doorway as the squirrel stared intently at Sam.  Its voice was deep and raspy.

"What's this doin' here?".

"Dunno."  "Just got here."  "Beats me."

All the brown eyes in the treehouse stared at Sam in silence before the deep, raspy voice spoke again.

"Wait 'til Mikey gets here.  He'll know what to do."

Suddenly the ground began to shake as the tree house trembled.  The rhythmic thud of footsteps stopped.  The last squirrel moved aside as one massive unblinking brown eye filled the doorway.  A voice like thunder boomed out.

"What's this?"

"Dunno."  "No clue."  "Beats me"

The smallest squirrel chirped.

"So whadda we do?"

The huge eye blinked once followed by the thunderous voice.

"We'll wait 'til Mikey gets here."

And that's The Squirrel Joke.  Yeah.  Sorry.

But the Elixir has this "joke", (only if you smiled...otherwise, uh, let's use "story"...), relating to two words that show a process, a direction of movement.

"Better" and "Worse".

Things just keep on movin' , don't they?

Things get better.  Things get worse.

Another swig of the Elixir smacks me with a suddenly sobering thought.

Oh, man.  I never........wow......

There are two more words.   Words that stop the growing.  Stops the moving. Words of finality.

"Best" and "Worst".

Nothing goes beyond those words.

Another swig, another word.  Huh.  There's one word that ushers in Best and Worst.  The only word that can bring them into play.

 "Death".   The death of an idea.  The death of an opportunity.

The death of me and you.

Everything stops there.

Better and Worse end at Death.  Then there's only Best and Worst.

According to The Book nothing else can be added, one way or the other.

The Book explains it in the story of the beggar and the rich man.  The beggar, as his name suggests, was definitely having a bad time.  And it was just getting worse.  The rich man was having a great time.  And it was just getting better.

Death showed up.  And their lives immediately became Best and Worst.

The beggar, due to his choice in life, ended up with Best.  Even though his life had been awful, the beggar chose Him, even as life got worse.  And Death made his choice final.  Forever.

The rich man ended up with Worst.  Even though life was good and getting better, he chose to reject/ignore/dismiss Him.  And Death cut his choice in stone.

Unchangeable.  Eternal.

Someday, for me...and for you...Death, like Mikey, will eventually show up to seal our choice.

For Best or Worst.

Yeah.

Not really a joking matter, is it?

 

 

A Comparison of Booths...(not a Festival of.....)

The McDonald's in town went through a major renovation.   Strictly "drive-in only" for about 4 months.  No one allowed inside.

The official re-opening was this week, all week long.  I didn't win the TV they were giving away, so I'm taking my frustration out on the McMuffin Special,

I walk my trayful of McManna toward the back of the concrete/wood/asymmetrical area which is now our MickeyD's.  It boasts an urban/funky/politely-graffitied look. Through the wall of glass I can see past the pumps of the convenience store next door.

Huh. 

Past the pumps is an old warehouse that used to be next to railroad tracks.  The tracks, like unneeded wisdom teeth, were yanked out about 45 years ago, leaving a graveled corridor for snowmobilers and trail bikers.

The warehouse proudly wears our town's mural, a piece of its history painted by Mugsy, a local artist.  It was taken off of an old photo from the early 19-0-singles.   Old puffer-belly train sits by the station among horse-drawn wagons, tiny cars, and flimsy trucks.  Dapper men in bowlers escort ladies with parasols amid the traffic.  Yeah.  Not quite the graffiti you'd see on warehouse walls in most places.

I pick a window booth and set my tray on the faux concrete table top.  I prepare myself, blow out a deep breath, and hold it.

I dive into the booth.

What in the-

I cautiously take a normal breath.  Huh.

The table top doesn't eviscerate my midriff.

Huh.

Usually getting into a booth is like putting five pounds of groceries in a one-pound bag.

Huh.

I  unwrap my first package of cholesterol and comfortably munch away, ocassionallyswigging coffee.  The Elixir of Knowledge is nowhere as good as the Elixir at home - but it has the same effect.

I stare at the distant mural.  The Elixir starts to swirl thoughts,  pushing them together.

Yeah.  Now that is................huh......................never really thought.......

Half-a-small-town-block away is one of the oldest soda fountains in Wisconsin - "Soda Pop's".  Quite the place.

Originally it was a tavern built twenty years before Prohibition.  The owner was a survivor.  He traded booze for sweets and turned the bar into a soda fountain.  Eighty years later, it's still a soda fountain...but now you can get a brewski with your sandwich.  If you want.

The 'Pop still has its original booths.  They're in great shape, very nostalgic...but I sit at a table.  I tried using a booth there.  Twice.

Once was twenty-five years ago.

Barely got in.  Barely got out.

The next try was about six years ago.

Didn't make it past the scrollwork on the edge of the dark-stained wood.  Got stuck.  Couldn't even make contact with the bench.

Kinda like when the basketball jams itself between the hoop and the backboard.

Stuck.

Yeah.

So now I sit at a table.

I look down at this new designer booth.  There's still about two inches of clearance between me and the fake concrete top.

Huh.

A swig of Elixir collides one thought into another as they tumble them past my mind's eye.

Oh.  Wow.

A century ago, the majority of people measured their body fat using one-digit percentage points.  They comfortably slid in and out of The 'Pop's elegant booths.

And that's AFTER a nice meal.

I look back at the mural.  There's a painted guy looking over from a horse-drawn wagon.

We make eye contact.  I hear him ask my mind a question. 

"Wha' happened to ya, son?"

Good question.

More digestion than perspiration.   Too much resting, too little work.

Yeah.

Got waaaaaay too comfortable.  I like being comfortable.

Another swig of Elixir pushes my mind down a different path.

Same thing, I guess.

Nuts.

Now I'm getting uncomfortable.

Fat in body, fat in Spirit.   A lotta take-in and almost no give-away

More "Bless me" than "Use me".

Keeping it for myself, not sharing.

Not caring.

Could it be THAT'S the reason I'm uncomfortable with those old doctrinal "booths" - those thoughts, sermons, and hymns - that poke at my pudginess?

Urging me to do something more.  Too not be so comfortable.

Huh.

An old hymn slides into my ears, drowning out the hip-hop ambience coming from the ceiling speakers.

"Stand up, stand up for Jesus..."

I would if I could but the booth's not that big.

I look at the guy-in-the-wagon as my mind sings the end of a verse.

"...where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there."

Oh, man.

Back in the late 1800's it meant "never be short of soldiers to fill the gap"

"Hold the line."

"Don't let the enemy through".

Sitting here in 21st century affluence and ease, I hear a different meaning..

"I don't NEVER wanna be there".

"Noooooo, not me, my brother".

"No reason for fanaticism, now".

That 1800's logic might cost me - everything.

I could cost me all that I am.

I stare past the styrofoam chalice of Elixir at half-eaten fast-food.

Fast, easy, convenient food that makes ever-widening booths a necessity of a "comfortable" life.

I toss back the last cold dregs of the McElixir.

Sliding easily out of the faux-concrete booth, I look back at the mural to give the guy-in-the-wagon a nod.

I walk out the door into, what I pray, is a less comfortable life.

 

The 1 & 2 ...

A week's worth of antibiotics has me eating yogurt and probiotics to stem the stampede south of the equator.  So I'm in the Reading Room again.  For the fourth time today.  Thinking about stuff, remembering things.  And appropriately, the Numbers 1 and 2 come to mind.  But not for the reason you would initially assume.

The Little-House-On-The-Corner used to belong to a lady who rented rooms to salesmen,  fisherman, hunters, and loggers.  There was a separate outside entrance to a hallway that had four 8x8 rooms and a bathroom.  In the morning, an occupant would knock on the kitchen door and Mrs. Gwinski would make them a hot breakfast and kick'em out.  Kind of a bed & breakfast...with a strict time limit.

Mrs. Gwinski lived in the other 5/8 of the house which included said kitchen, a sitting room, and her bedroom.  All put into 980+ sq ft of cinderblock, hand-made windows, and foil-backed kraft paper insulation.  Mrs. Gwinski was a tough woman and, I would surmise, always cold.

One noticeable feature was the small brass number nailed to the top of the each rental room door.   Numbers 1 through 4.

The Wife and I bought the house 30+ years ago, adding insulation and reliable heat before bringing the first of two babies to The-Little-House-On-The-Corner.  We turned the four rental rooms into three small bedrooms and settled in to raise kids and remodel for the next 18 years.

I always liked those numbers on the doors.  To me it was the heritage, the essence, of the Little House.  So one summer's day I went to the hardware store and bought shiny brass numbers with shiny brass nails.

I was laying them out on the kitchen table when The Wife walked by.

"What's with the numbers?"

"I'm gonna put 'em on the doors."

"We already have the house number over the door."

"Ah, no, these are for the rooms inside."

"Inside?"  The way she said it lacked enthusiasm.

"Yeah, the bedrooms get Numbers 3 through 5..."  I should have stopped there but blundered on,.  "...and the bathroom gets Numbers 1 and 2."

Well.

The discussion was short and to the point.

And there are no numbers on our doors.

Numbers 1 and 2.

Huh.

The Lord thought those numbers important, too.  So important, in fact, that He combined all of the 600+ tenets of the Law into just a 1 and a 2, (anyone else hear Lawrence Welk?).

1 - Love the Lord.  Totally.

2 - Love others like you love yourself.

Now that's a 1 & a 2 that I want nailed to the door of my heart.  So I never forget.

So I remember what's important.

And I just might visit the hardware store.   Again.

Maybe.

Herxin', Hurtin, and Hopeful...

It's been over 20 years and finally something's being done.  A bit late but at least it's something.

I was referred to a doctor who, (1), had thoroughly read my file and, (2), had the chutzpah to make the call and pull the trigger on the Doxycyclin after an hour of consultation.

"Well, let's treat you for Lyme.  We'll try antibiotics for a month and see where we are then."

He dispensed these prophetic words as we parted ways.

"After taking this, you'll probably start feeling worse.  Means we're probably on the right path."

It's been a week and I would like to give a big 10-4 affirmation that we're stumbling down the right path.

I feel awful.

There's even a name for it -  the Herxheimer Reaction.  The slang term is "herxing".  It's a more elegant and socially acceptable description than the words Dad and Uncle Joe would've used. 

But the meaning is the same....you feel awful.  Like your cells are being beaten up.  Each one.  Individually.

From what I understand,  the bad things are killed by the antibiotics. But when they die, the bad things blow up, releasing their inherent nastiness throughout the body.

Stupid bad things.

It may take a few days or a few weeks to win the first battle.  And hopefully there's a Pax Bacterium, a short, savored ceasefire before the next battle.

I'll tell ya, friend, I haven't felt like this since high-school-freshman-two-a-day-football- practices.  FIVE decades ago.  Let's not dwell on the difference in body mass index and overall physical conditioning but suffice it to say that I am one hurtin' puppy.

The second day of antibiotics finds me driving home, (had to leave work early, couldn't make it to the end of the shift).  The radio has this guy talking about his reaction to his life and actions since he's given his life to Him.  And it sounds a lot like herxing to me, given my current state of mind.

The guy's going along, pretty good, measuring up, and then BLAM - something gets outta the bag he thought he could keep under wraps, under control.

He sticks his foot in it.  Blows it completely.  Messes it up big-time.

And the guy feels awful 'cause he's herxin'.    A herxing of the soul.

The Spirit, (the antibiotic for sin), brings conviction by exposing the realization of sin in my life.  Exploding it so I can see it...and others can, too.  Which makes me feel awful.

But grace, His grace, is what takes the awfulness away.  And on this side of Glory, the cycle repeats as more bad stuff dies and as more grace heals, changing my life.

Finally home, I collapse in The Chair.  I look out the window and sip the Elixir of Knowledge, thinking about how I'm gonna get through the next few weeks.

And the remaining years of my life.

Yeah.  I s'pose. 

The trick is to focus on what will be and not so much on what's happening .  Eyes on the prize, laying all that other stuff aside.  A fixation on the good.  On the promise.

It's going to get better.  He promised it would.  And He keeps His promises.

So I'll take my pills, herx, hope, and hang in there.

And I'll get convicted by the Spirit, herx, hope, and hang in there.

The promise gives me hope.  And hope springs eternal.  And He's our Eternal Hope.

Kinda neat the way that works out, eh?

 

 

Green Peas and Table Knives

Up earlier than the sunrise, just me and the Elixir of Knowledge.

And memories.  Lotsa memories.

Warm Elixir inflates a picture that floats up past my mind's eye.  Huh.  Well I'll be.

Uncle Ray.  And a table knife.

Hadn't thought about that in years.

Uncle Ray was like a grandpa to us kids.  He was an old Iowa bachelor farmer when we knew him.  He was Mom's Dad's brother.  Mom's Dad, "Grandpa Nig", went over to Flanders in WWI.  He survived in body but his mind kept the horrors at bay with the help of 80 proof beverages.

So Mom and Aunt Helen were raised by Uncle Ray.  Just a stoic, Depression-poor,  bib-overalled farmer with hair in his nose and ears and not much on his head.

I remember Uncle Ray having one unique skill.

He could eat peas with a table knife.

He'd line 'em up on the blade, bring it up to his mouth and tilt.  Maybe once an errant pea hit the table.  Once.  Really.

Line 'em up, pick it up, tilt, chew, and smile.

We kids were in awe.  And, of course, we would have to try.  And since the overall geometry of peas are spherical,  they roll well.......well into the living room........especially if one sneezes during the procedure.......which adds a lot of vertical to a horizontal endeavor.

Every time Uncle Ray came over, we'd beg Mom to put peas on the menu. I don't remember him saying a lot.  Nope.  No sage wisdom and pithy quotes.

He just ate peas with a table knife.  Played checkers with us.  And loved us.

But it's that stuff we remembered.  And we learned things, even if we didn't pick up on 'em right away.

Preparation (line your peas up- carefully),  execution (bring the knife up - wait, do I have to sneeze? - no? - ok, bring the knife up slowly - and level - LEVEL!),  commitment (tilt the knife - no turning back now!), and performing under pressure in front of a crowd (ok - there were only three of us but expectations were high).

Another thing we learned from Uncle Ray......you'll never beat an old farmer at checkers.

Yeah.

Eating peas with a knife.  Just a skill that others would find stupid.  Or worthless.  It ranks near the bottom of the Who's Who List of Noticeable Skills and Endeavors.

Near the bottom...right down there with "giving a cup of cool water".

Small things.  Unnoticeable things.

But nothing really ever goes unnoticed.  Someone always notices.

He...always notices.

Huh. 

Another pull of the Elixir swirls another thought.

A seemingly insignificant skill - if used for the benefit of others - can impact a life.

For a lifetime.

Yeah.

Cups of cold water.

Table knives and green peas.

I get up with a groan and move stiffly toward the pantry.

On the way through the kitchen I grab the can opener.

And a table knife.

I better try this before the Wife gets up.

Better get the broom ready, too.

Star Wars Theology: 1st Leia 4:47-53

The passing of Carrie Fisher has made me a bit nostalgic.  And New Year's Eve lends itself to views in the rear-view mirror.  So it was a given that I would revisit "a galaxy far, far away".

I remember the first time our happy band of idiots saw "Star Wars: A New Hope", the first one that was the fourth one but we didn't know that because, well, there was only one.

It was an experience.  The theatre seats rocked (and they weren't even broken!), the screen was actually curved (supposed to be that way), and the theatre sound system had a bass speaker the size of a Buick. 

We boldly went where none of us had gone before (yeah, I know...wrong show).  We walked out, got in line, and boldly went again.  Loved it.

And we were all, of course, infatuated with Princess Leia.  Cute, feisty, and wearing two cinnamon rolls on her head.  (I always thought Cinnabon missed a great marketing opportunity there...)

And now, Princess Leia is gone.  For auld lang syne, I'm watching it again and...

Huh.  Never thought of that.

At 57 minutes, our heroine is a captive on the Death Star, her bravado in full estrogen bloom, unaware she is seconds away from a skybox view of her planet's demise. 

At this point The Commander verbally fences with her.    Suddenly she parries with something that hits me right in my life.

"The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

Whoa.   Now why does that bug me?

I take a pull of the lukewarm Elixir of Knowledge.  Even at room temperature, the potent dark liquid begins jolting synapses.

Why would...oh...well...

Closed fists, tightly closed fists, are as full as they're ever gonna be.  The only way to increase a fist's capacity is to change it into an open, cupped hand.

I make a fist with one hand and a cup with the other.  Huh.  OK. 

My mind flashes a GIF showing a four-year old with a death-grip on a small, stale piece of Bazooka bubble gum.  An adult pours a two-pound bag of M&Ms over it.  Then a two-pound bag of Peanut M&Ms.  Colors bouncing off a tight, little fist turning white from the effort, holding on to that single piece of bubble gum so it doesn't get away.

If the little tyke would've just cupped his hand  he coulda had his gum AND enough chocolate to give him a sugar buzz well into next week. 

So why would a kid be that pigheaded and stu.........oh......

I look closer with my mind's eye.  The pigheaded kid with the cramping fist...is me.

Yeah, I won't get much with a closed fist - but I won't lose much either.  I hafta keep my stuff in a closed fist or...

The Elixir pushes up a thought I don't particularly like.

- or someone else could take it.   HE could take it. 

And I don't like the question my mind just asked - Do I trust Him enough to hold all my important, treasured things in an open hand - to make everything available to Him?

Sure, I want Him to add to my stuff...but would I want Him, or let Him, take stuff away?

Hey, I'm all for Jabez but I'm not too keen on Job.

Do I trust Him to give me what I need?  To give me the best, whatever that is?

Yeah.  Me and Tarkin.  We both need to loosen our grip.

And I had better obey quicker than The Commander did...just in case there's a neighborhood kid that can bullseye a womp rat in a T-16.

Feeding Birds for Prophet...

It's cold.  The week before Christmas and 5 of the last 7 days never made it up to zero.  The below zero wind chills have enough digits to legally drink in any state in the Union. 

It's cold.

I'm leaning up against the counter, sipping the Elixir of Knowledge, watching chickadees zip back and forth from tree to feeder to tree.  Little balls of fluff that maintain an internal temp of 120 degrees while living in external temps of 11 below.  I guess I'd be zipping, too.

The Elixir short-circuits a neural synapse that sparks into another.

Huh.

"Bird feeding" jumps to "people feeding birds".  Another sip.  More sparking.

"Birds feeding people".  Well, really just one people - Elijah.

(The Prophet....not the guy who played Frodo)

Elijah was to tell the king he had done more evil than all the kings before him.  And if that didn't get Elijah in trouble, his next statement did.

"No rain until I say so."  This simple phrase started a drought that lasted over three years.

He was then instructed to do a wise thing.  Hide.  Right now.  By the brook.

And not to worry. 

The ravens will feed him.

The Elixir sloshes up images of crows and ravens I've seen.  Almost all the images involved roadkill.

Flattened-splattered-baking-in-the-sun roadkill. 

But the story says the ravens showed up like clockwork.  Every morning, every evening.  And they brought meat...and bread.

Another question pops up.  Where are ravens getting bread?  Huh.

Let's be honest.  I know you're thinking the same thing I am.

The man is getting roadkill and moldy bread off a garbage dump.  Right?

But if God is sending ravens to feed a hiding prophet, would He give him...garbage?

I don't think so.

The Elixir runs rampant, sparks fly, synapses pop like firecrackers on Chinese New Year.  A scenario develops.  A scenario with absolutely NO theological verification at all.

Reuben is grilling out, early in the morning, the smell of roasting meat wafting into the house.  The son, Raymond, wakes up to stagger sleepily toward his father with a Pavlovian mouth-watering, lip-smacking expectation.  He reaches for a piece of meat on the corner of the grill. 

Smack.  A wooden spoon knocks his hand away.  He is now completely awake.

"Owww.  Can't I have some?"

"No, it's for the ravens."  

Quiet.  Then a question.

"The ravens?"

"Yeah"

"Uh, why?"

"'Cause God told me to."

"Why?"

"I dunno."

"Mommmmmm!"

"Shhhh.  Let her sleep.  Hand me that loaf of bread, will ya?"

"But Mom made this last night!"

"Yeah.  It's delicious.  Hand it over."

"But you're giving the good stuff to birds."

"Yeah."

"Because God told you to?!"

"Yeah.  And when He tells you to do something, you give your best.  Right?"

"Well, sure, but - wait a minute - where'd you get this meat?"

"Eddie."

"Eddie?!  You killed the fatted calf to give 'im to birds?!  He was for my bar mitzvah!"

"Pipe down, son, you're gonna scare the birds.  God will provide.  Pass me the sage, will ya?"

Well, OK, it might be a little far-fetched but I think the premise is sound.

Obedience to God isn't "supply and demand".  It's "demand and supply".

He demands our obedience and, if we obey, He supplies our needs from places we could not even imagineEven in our wildest dreams.

So if He tells me to do something, I should do it and trust Him. 

For all I know, lunch has already been airmailed.

Me And A Toilet Plunger @ 4:30 In The Morning...

I'm up...kinda.

On full autopilot, I make the coffee, preheat the lunchbox thermoses (all 3 of 'em) and begin to make breakfast.

Oh.

Oh my.

My face takes on that concerned blank look a 9-month old has when things are comin' down the pike and headin' for the diaper.

(They say Life is like a race track - ya end up where ya started.  Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.  Pampers to Depends.)

Oh my.

My body suddenly tells me that I'm on the launching pad, the cherry picker has been disengaged, and countdown has begun.

Hello.

I scurry to the Reading Room, flip up the convertible top to the Throne and....

The water level is almost up to the rim.

Noooooooooooo.

I grab the accordion plunger and gently press down.

Voooop-ah.

Nothing.

Voooop-ah.           Voooop-ah.          Voooop-ah.

The water level goes down to a normal level.  Great. OK.

I flip the handle.  The water comes back up to the rim.

Huh?!

Voooop-ah.  Vooopp-ah. Voooop-ah.  Voooop-ah.

Water's down.  Flip the handle.  Water to the rim again.

My mind hears a succinct, professional voice.  It has a slight Texas drawl.

"We have T-5 minutes.  T-5 minutes."

I erupt (bad choice of words) into panic mode.  Up until now I was trying to be polite and keep the bathroom dry, a thought which is relegated to the bottom of the list.

"T-5" takes top priority.

The accordion plunger contracts/expands as fast as Myron's accordion on "The Lawrence Welk Show".

Voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah.

I pause, gasping for air.  Hey, even Myron took a break while the orchestra played.

The drawl chimes in.

"T-3 minutes."

Flush.  Back up to the rim.

Oh maaaaaaaannnnn!

I hit the pre-ignition stage.

Voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah.

A public-utilities tsunami surges around the base of the Throne.

Voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-ah-voop-uh-oh.

The blank concerned look of the 9-month-old reappears as a realization dawns.

Heavy exertion in a stooped position is NOT the way to postpone blast off.

The accordion plunger merrily bobs in the bowl as I fly out the front door, jump in the car, and drive to the 24-hour grocery store in town - the only place open at 4:45 in the morning.

And, yes, I did commit the sin of speeding.

I walk into the kitchen about 17 minutes later,  less stressed, more relaxed.

I pour a cup of the Elixir of Knowledge and reflect on my NASA experience.  The first sip has me thinking about defective plumbing and our family's dietary habits.

The second sip runs smack into 1 John 1:9 as it bounces off that little dangly thing in the back of my mouth before the long drop south.

If we confess, He'll forgive, and cleanse us.   Unclog us.

As far as the East is from the West...which is much farther than from the Little-House-On-The-Corner to the Septic Plant over by the Park.

(Never could figure out the placement on that one.  Not many people use the swing-sets and picnic tables when the wind's from the West)

What?   Huh. 

Yeah, there's that.

There is no clog He can't unclog.  No matter how bad.  

And He flushes it away and sees it no more.

As far as the East is from the West.

And that's a very nice thing to realize.......especially at 4:30 in the morning.

 

 

 

Zero....a whole lot more than "nothing".

I lived a prehistoric childhood.  I grew up before DVDs, mobile devices, and PS4s.  All we had were encyclopedias, coloring books, and black'n'white TV. 

Then the most stupendous visitation of visualization known to Saturday morning cartoons appeared - color television.

And as TV shows went from no color to the whole Crayon box, kid's TV changed as well.  And one of those changes was a cartoon that taught me to multiply.

Up to twelvesies.

No lie.

"Mutiplication Rock", baby!

Good bye, flash cards.  Hello, funky tunes and cool cartoons.

My math skills got a boost but my grammar floundered near the shore, fighting the riptide which was dragging me into remedial English.

Then "Grammar Rock" came out.

Ohhhhh, yeah.

Pretty soon yours truly was walkin' down the Beach of Vocabulary.  OK, I was still getting sand kicked in my face by participles and adverbs.  But, hey, at least I was on the beach.

So today I read about John the Baptist.  Weird dude.  Would've fit right into the whole '60s thing in San Francisco.  Ate honey and bugs, wore camel hair smocks.  All he needed were some flowers in his hair.

This eccentric guy said something pretty profound:

"I must decrease that He may increase."

Whoa.

A pull of the Elixir of Knowledge and BAM - the Elixir has "Multiplication Rock" playing over "The 3rd Chapter of John".

I hear "My Hero, Zero", a song about this little guy named Zero who makes numbers bigger by being...nothing.

Huh.

Soooooo, what's the point of being nothing?  Every day I'm told by commercials, songs, ads, and posts to "buy this" to "be that".  Get more.  BE MORE.

Increase my $$$, increase my standing,

Increase my increase.

But, here's a weirdo that says I outta "decrease"... and He, the One, called this maniac the greatest ever born.

All because he was trying to be a complete "zero".

Another pull of the Elixir.  Huh.  Makes sense, I s'pose.

Imagine the One that is One with the Father.  He would be, of course, the "1".  So if I give Him this part of my life,  "zero" out my ownership, that moves the "1" over a bit. 

And if I keep "zeroing out" more and more of my life, I keep moving Him, the "1", over a little bit more each time.

Which increases His number.  Which lifts Him up.  Just like it shows in the middle of"My Hero, Zero".

Decreasing myself causes the increasing of what really matters - Him, the "1".

Now THAT'S a different type of math. 

It's the Math of Eternity.

And it's tough to do.  It can be more confusing that calculus.

But there's a Tutor on call 24/7 to show us how to do it.  A gentle Teacher who helps each of us at our own pace.

So I guess the cartoon is right.  Zero really does make a hero.

But don't take my word for it.

Just ask the weirdo.

Or better yet, ask the "1".

 

All content copyrighted by Dennis R. Doud. Website designed by Isaac Doud.