Friday, December 18, 2009

Merry Christmas to all...

...both big and small.

And Happy New Year!

Talk to you again in a couple of weeks, Lord willing.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

From the holiday musical archives...

For you and yours to sing around the fireplace. Or the campfire. Or just around a lighted match, if that's all you got...

The (Southern) Christmas Song

Pork skins roasting on an open fire.

Chitlins nipping at your nose.

Waylon and Willie being sung by the fire,

And kids dressed up like Grandpa Jones...

Everybody knows some buttermilk and hogshead cheese,

Help to make the day a ball,

Although it's been said, many times, many ways,

Merry Christmas, to y'all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

By Irving Berlin Moody Johnson, Jr.

White Cornbread

I'm dreaming of a white cornbread,
Just like the ones I used to know,
One that melts the butter,
Makes stomachs flutter,
And fills you up from head to toe.

I'm dreaming of a white cornbread,
In every skillet that's in sight,
May the sides be cispy, to biiiiite,
and may all your cornbreads be just right.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reindeer pause (permanently...)

This is not my big sister's house in Swartz -- but it could be. And they would be proud. (I hope it wasn't Blitzen. I liked Blitzen. We know it wasn't Dasher; if it was Dasher, then he was poorly named.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sermon-on-a-Stick: A good time to draw

(Here are my notes from Sunday from Dr. Chris's sermon, if you trust my note-taking. Sunday night was the Children's Choir Christmas Concert, which rocked out. You know those things are going to be good but they are always better than you'd figured. And if you want a crowd -- and if you want a BAPTIST crowd that will fill up the FRONT pews -- get children up there. Automatic congregation.)

James 4:8
"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded."

How close are you and God?
I Corinthians 1:9 "God, who has called you into fellowship, is faithful..."
* We cannot exhaust our relationship with God. We can always draw closer.
* He has shown himself to us in his Word; He wants us to show ourselves to Him.

What do we do to draw closer?
Rev 3:20 "Behold I stand at the door and knock..." Jesus is a gentleman and won't force himself in...
Jer 29:13 "You will seek and find me when you seek me with all your heart..."

1. Have a clarity of purpose
* God can't be used or toyed with
* Ask what you want from God ... Do you want an intellectual or social relationship, or an intimate relationship with Him

2. Have a commitment to the relationship
* An inferior to a superior; He is God and I am not.
* You spell love T-I-M-E; meet Him in the Bible and in prayer and in your listening.

3. Cut out the wrong stuff
* Clean your outside and inside
* We can be morally pure on the outside and a skunk on the inside. A whitewashed tomb has a dead person inside. (ouch...)

John 8:47: "...He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God..." Am I hearing?

We are each in one of three places:
Jesus follower, growing in Christ
Christian growing apart from Christ

A.W. Tozer said 'closeness' means 'resemblance.' Am I resembling, in any way, the Savior?


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Another St. Pete...

Peter Gammons is 64 now, wants a less demanding schedule, and will leave ESPN after 20 years and work with the MLB Network. He played the keyboard for the Boston Globe (it's a play on words!) for 20 years before going to ESPN. Hard to believe Mr. Gammons was less than 30 during Game Six...He's good and I'm happy for him and it hurts me that he's leaving ESPN. ... I just this second remembered that I helped him get in the pressbox at Rosenblatt Stadium one year back during the College World Series. He was a bit lost, looking at me through a window, trying to get in, but that was before they'd remodeled and there was just one door, if I remember right, to get in, and it was WAAAAY around. If there had been a pressbox fire, we'd have all been killed -- which some people might have preferred. (But they wouldn't have been very nice people! And the sportspages would have been thin the next day, except for a tiny "Pressbox Fire Thinks Ranks" story...)

Speaking of good, Oswald Chambers today. Grind it if you want, but it is a tall drink of water, as he usually is. "Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence." O.C. does not mess around.

OK! Remember, it's just two weeks from the best day of the year: Christmas Eve Eve. Has all the anticipation of Christmas and Christmas Eve but without the pressure. It's a beautiful day. Just two weeks!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How the Top Five Heisman Finalists will finish this weekend...

1. The guy from Alabama
2. Guy from Texas
3. Guy from Florida
4. Guy from Stanford
5. Guy from Nebraska

1. Guy from Stanford
2. Guy from Nebraska
3. Guy from Cincinnati
4. Guy from Alabama
5. Guy from Florida

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (and the Old)

Eli Herschel Wallach (born December 7, 1915) is 94? I thought he had passed away. I'm sorry. I love Eli Wallach. I am glad he's alive. He might be one of those guys like Red Skelton, who everybody thinks is dead when he's not. (Red Skelton is dead NOW, but for the longest time he wasn't when you thought he was. I mean, HE knew he wasn't, but you didn't. I did, but that's because I liked Red Skelton. I like Eli Wallach too, but I wasn't keeping up with him. This makes no sense. Clint Eastwood is also alive. We all keep up with him so you knew that already. Red Skelton didn't, but that's because he died a while back or he'd have probably known too.)
So...Happy Birthday to Eli Wallach!
Also Happy Birthday to my man Malcolm Butler. I can't tell you how old he is because that would be indiscreet. (40. Malcolm is 40. Or 54 years younger than Eli Wallach.)

Friday, December 4, 2009

'Please pass the beans ... and the duck.'

Oregon's duck mascot is hoisted above celebrating fans and players, carrying a bunch of red roses, at the end of an NCAA college football game in Eugene, Ore., Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009. Oregon beat Oregon State 37-33. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

WIth one eye, I watched most of this game last night and read with the other. These teams are fun to watch. I am not a post-game guy but I'm glad I watched for five minutes after the game was over. It's HERE. (Go to about the 2:50 mark if you want to skip.) These weren't 'mob' fans; they just haven't been to a Rose Bowl in forever (until now), their season started in poor taste, but Oregon wins the Pac-10 and ... there's more. It's a season-long story. Which made the overhead shots of fans passing a duck and Santa neat. It's a reason to love college football.

Not all the college football news is great. Hofstra on Long Island is saying SEEYA! to its program. Saints receiver Marques Colston played there; so did Wayne Chrebet (below), which is the whole reason I'm mentioning this. We have a little figure of one player in front of our television, and that's Wayne Chrebet. His tiny mug shot is taped to the top corner of the television. He was Casey's favorite player back in the day. Chrebet is a good favorite player to have. Small by NFL standards (5-10) and undrafted, he earned a walk-on opportunity with the Jets, made the team, played 11 seasons, and has more career catches as an undrafted NFL player than all but two others (Rod Smith and Gary Clark) in league history. He wore number 80 and retired in 2006.
Now the whole football program at his school has retired.

Have a fun weekend.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I didn't know he could sing too...


Tommy Henrich, the oldest living Yankee and the last Yankee to have played with the team in the 1930s, died Tuesday at age 96.

My favorite picture of him is the one from him looking back to see Mickey Owen chasing "strike three" in the '41 World Series. The picture here, from Tom Fitzsimmons of AP, is of Henrich, left, and pitcher Allie Reynolds celebrating a Yankees win in the 1949 Series.

What I didn't know was he was a champion singer -- check the end of this story from the Washington Post. (The lead is buried! If a guy is a champion Barber Shop Quartet singer, you've got to get that high in the story. I appreciate he played for the Yankees and was a stud but...come on!)

I love an old ballplayer guy. Tommy Henrich. Hall of Famer? Probably should be. Check his numbers and understand the years he missed during the war, and he's got to be in the Hall of Fame conversation...Probably lost in the shuffle because he played with so many great players.

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tommy Henrich, 96, a clutch-hitting outfielder for the New York Yankees who played on eight American League championship teams during his 11 big league seasons, died Dec. 1 in Dayton, Ohio. The cause of death was not announced.

Mr. Henrich, who was the oldest living former Yankee, joined the team in 1937. Although overshadowed by 10 teammates who were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Mr. Henrich was known as "Old Reliable" for his steady play and his ability to deliver hits when they mattered most.

Besides his contributions on the field, he was considered a model citizen when many ballplayers led rough-and-tumble lives.

"He came pretty close in character and performance to being the ideal Yankee," New York Times columnist Arthur Daley once wrote of Mr. Henrich (pronounced HEN-rick).

He played for two Hall of Fame managers, Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel, and his teammates included Lou Gehrig, Bill Dickey, Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra, Lefty Gomez and Whitey Ford.

Mr. Henrich spent most of his career in right field, alongside one of baseball's all-time greats, Joe DiMaggio, who once called Mr. Henrich the smartest player in the game.

In 1941, during the 38th game of DiMaggio's unmatched 56-game hitting streak, the Yankee star entered the eighth inning without a base hit. Mr. Henrich, who often batted directly ahead of DiMaggio in the lineup, dropped a bunt against the St. Louis Browns, allowing DiMaggio to come to the plate. DiMaggio lined a solid single to left-centerfield to keep his streak alive.

Seven of Mr. Henrich's Yankee teams won the World Series, and his quick thinking and quick bat led to several of his team's most dramatic victories in the 1940s.

In the ninth inning of the fourth game of the 1941 series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, Mr. Henrich appeared to strike out on a play that would have ended the game and tied the series at two victories apiece. But Hugh Casey's sharp-breaking curveball spun away from Dodger catcher Mickey Owen, and Mr. Henrich dashed to first base on the passed ball. The Yankees rallied to win the game and clinched the series the next day.

Mr. Henrich had several crucial hits in the 1947 World Series against Brooklyn and drove in the go-ahead run in the decisive seventh game. In the first game of the 1949 World Series, also against the Dodgers, he stepped to the plate in the ninth inning of a scoreless game and lined a home run over the right field fence off pitcher Don Newcombe, securing a 1-0 victory. The Yankees went on to win the series in five games.

Mr. Henrich had a career batting average of .283, including three seasons at .300 or more, and he led the American League in runs scored in 1948, with 138. He was named to five All Star teams. After he retired in 1950, he tutored DiMaggio's successor in center field, the 19-year-old Mickey Mantle, who had been an erratic minor league shortstop before his Hall of Fame career in the outfield.

"Catching a fly ball is a pleasure," Mr. Henrich once said. "But knowing what to do with it after you catch it is a business." Thomas David Henrich was born Feb. 20, 1913, in Massillon, Ohio. He threw and batted left-handed and played softball throughout most of his youth.

He compiled three excellent seasons with minor league teams in the Cleveland Indians system, but the Indians made no move to bring Mr. Henrich to their major league club.

In frustration, he wrote to the baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who ruled that Mr. Henrich was free to join another team. The Yankees signed him and put him in the outfield next to DiMaggio.

After his playing career, he coached for several teams and became a noted baseball raconteur and a link to the Yankees' storied past. He often said DiMaggio was the finest all-around ballplayer he had ever seen.

Mr. Henrich missed three years of baseball during World War II while serving in the Coast Guard. He suffered several injuries during his career and had knee surgery in 1940. He married one of the nurses who cared for him, Eileen O'Reilly. She died in March.

Survivors include five children and three grandchildren.

In addition to his baseball talent, Mr. Henrich was an excellent singer and was a member of the 1947 Ohio state champion barbershop quartet

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


(November 29, 2009 --- The Times, The News-Star)

Appreciation situation

I grew up around blessings counters. If we went more than three church Sundays without singing "Count Your Blessings," some family would threaten to move their membership.
These were hard-line thankers.

Farmers would grieve over the weather fates. Coaches would cuss over the fumbles of those farmers' sons. Grandmas would wonder why cows and back yard gardens and daughters-in-laws had dried up.

Life's a veil of tears.

But they were a thankful bunch, and I think that made them kinder. People who sincerely and often say "thank you" are a lot more kind than those who don't. When you know someone has been kind to you even though you don't deserve it, it makes kindness to someone else much easier — but still hard.

Kindness costs.

Giving thanks is easy. Living thanks is where the rubber meets the road — but it's easier to be thankful when my tire is full than when it's flat.

The now-passed-on pastor Adrian Rogers once used a John Milton quote in a Thanksgiving sermon.

Milton, the blind poet, said that a person with an ungrateful spirit only has one vice. "All of the rest of his vices are virtues compared to ingratitude," Rogers preached. "Every other sin is a virtue compared to the sin of ingratitude."

The lesson I've missed so often is gratitude in the little things.

It sounds so trite and stupid!, but we're to have an "attitude of gratitude," something easier said than done when Aunt Leeta swipes the last of the sweet potato casserole. Or Bubba swipes the last parking place.

Speaking of ... the edge or low spot of the sweet potato casserole where all the brown sugar and a little butter has settled. Are you grateful for that?

Grandmama's scent, of Kool filtereds and flour. The eyes of an old dog. The sound of squirrel feet racing up pine bark.

It's the little things.

You know what I'm grateful for? The memory of that cheap-blender sound, telling me my mother was in the kitchen baking for us. The smell of gravy. A sweet potato sandwich.

Are you grateful for a car that starts? I pound the dash when it doesn't start but I forget to say "thank you" all the other times it does. See how spoiled that is? Or how out of touch with gratitude that is?

I'm glad there's a newspaper. I like holding a newspaper. A simple pleasure. Throwing a newspaper can be fun sometimes. I don't mean throwing it like a paperboy throwing it, into a driveway. I mean reading something that's stupid and throwing it, like you throw stuff at the television when the Saints fumble.

When you are really cold and you're thinking of how you'll soon be warm and finally you get to a warm spot and that first warm blast hits you: I'm thankful for that. For that first chestful of morning air this time of year. For the sounds of children singing. For your favorite time of day. For a friend to give thanks with.

Someone rightly said that it's not easy to keep your head when all about you are losing theirs. When the lady runs over your foot with a grocery cart, or they get your order wrong at the drive-thru, or the Saints lose another close game.

Wait ... What? They haven't? They didn't? Well then, to Saints, and saints, thank you.

(COMING SUNDAY: "To afford presents, we might have to go into politics")


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

One of the biggest games in Saints history...

Final Score:

SAINTS - Big Number
PATRIOTS - Little Number

(38-17 if you are keeping up with the digits. Saints covered, easily, with one wing and half a halo tied behind their backs.)

So congrats to longsuffering Saints fans everywhere! It really is fun to watch them play. Below is a special commemorative button designed and built by Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club member Bill, a charter member of the Hagen's Heroes chapter. I can't tell you his last name because that would be indiscreet. (Johnson. Bill Johnson.) He is also a Saints fan. He's good people.

And the Saints could well run the table. Surely they'll be favored in each game from here on out, including the one against Dallas, Saturday night, Dec. 19, in the Superdome. (Heads up: that game is scheduled to be on NFL Network only.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

'Seaux' Good! (and...Saints/Patriots, 730 CST tonite!)

(A pre-Thanksgiving 'e-votional' whose point is timeless: "live thanks.")

"GOD IS 'Seaux' GOOD"

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." Psalm 100: 4-5 (NIV)

Here in Louisiana, the New Orleans Saints are undefeated. 10-0--or ten-and-"eaux," as they spell it down here.

"Geaux Saints" is a common bumper sticker.

So bayou-football fans are thankful this Thanksgiving Week that one of the most patience-trying franchises in professional sports is actually, well, ... good! Running. Passing. Kicking. Tackling. Just like a real team!

I wonder why God didn’t give up on me back when I was pretending to be a saint but was in reality booting it around every day, fumbling, not showing up for practice, going through the motions, acting like I had a no-cut contract. The result was a 3-13 season, maybe a 4-12 year. And at times, I collared the doughnut. O-and-whatever.

But in His tender mercies, God kept me on the board. He kept extending grace, until one day I reached for it. I’m thankful for that. Eternally grateful.

The preacher said Sunday that God will never ever get tired of hearing me tell Him how thankful I am for salvation, for having lived long enough to accept the gift. If you’re reading this, you’ve lived long enough to become a Jesus follower, too. That’s a miracle in itself.

And if God in His goodness didn’t give up on me, how can I give up on others?

Forgive me, God, my ingratitude, my selfishness, my sin. May I see your unchanging goodness and reflect that to others. Open my eyes and my heart this week to your goodness. Thank you, God, that you are good, that you are faithful. Thank you that, as the real saints testify, your love endures forever.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Eve

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving. Remember, for what it's worth, I'm thankful for (most of) you.

(That's a joke! I'm thankful for all of you. Now ... color somebody a turkey! See you after the weekend, in 10 pounds or so...)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Love my Dr. Saturday!

Go HERE to grind a couple of funny things -- where do you start?! -- about LSU's stroll off the edge of the Clock Management Cliff Saturday in Oxford.

Make sure to watch the video of "Les Miles momentarily possessed by clock-killing poltergeist" and "LSU too stunned by fourth down success to attempt actual victory."

Everybody makes mistakes. But when you blame a kid who was in high school two years ago, and when you yourself are making 3.75 mil, and when you are supposed to be, I don't know, COACHING the kid, that's sort of not good. No parent with a brain wants their child to play for that coach. Being a bad coach does not make a person a bad person. But it does make them a bad coach. And as we've been trying to tell people even since '07, that is the case at LSU.

One of my favorite realities is "The Cult of the Coach." People think that because a person is a 'coach' they must know a lot about what they are coaching. Please...You can't blame Les Miles for being the coach and taking the 3.75 mil a year. He's not THAT stupid. But remember no one is perfect, including the Slipper, good ol' Skip Bertman, a true LSU hoss. Miles has got to be his major regret.

SEEYA! Oh, and check out the Connecticut video too. There's a wonderful college story, and a sideline interview of note. The Connecticut sideline interview is sort of the anti-Les Miles sideline interview.

I was sitting by a beautiful LSU fan Saturday. She has never played a down of feetball or coached feetball but when the LSUers completed that long pass with a second left and LSUers are running down the field she naturally started saying, and then screaming, "Get your field goal team out there. Get the field goal te...WHERE ARE THE FIELD GOAL PEOPLE?! OHMYGOD!!!!" I feel sorry for innocent fans like her. You know what her school needs to spike? Not the ball. Les. Bet somebody starts a Spike Les petition.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Nice Play!

Last night was so much fun watching my son Casey and a new bunch of his friends perform "A NICE FAMILY GATHERING" on the stage of the Dixie Theater in Ruston. Showtimes are tonight at 7:30, Saturday at 7:30 and 2 for the Sunday matinee. Doors open an hour before the curtain rises; tickets are ten bucks and available at the door. I'll go again tonight. It's fun to see Casey working on a craft he really enjoys; I'm so happy for him that he's earned this chance. And I'm happy for the cast and crew he's surrounded by. They've had a ball doing all the work required for one of these things. I'm thankful because it's brought me a lot of joy...So thanks to them.

Here's a description of the play, from the Web...The art above is from a site promoting the play in a run up north. Casey is the son who can talk to the dad, who is unfortunately dead, but still in he play. Now THAT'S acting...
With intermission, the event is 2 hours 15 mniutes.

A story of a man who loved his wife so much he ALMOST told her. In fact, after 35 years of marriage, he’s decided that today he WILL tell her. His plan? Wait for the entire family to gather for Thanksgiving dinner and proclaim his love for all to hear. The only problem is he’s dead! His solution? Channel his message through his adult son. But when his less than cooperative son has his own messages to proclaim, the comic fireworks explode.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Worse Than Taxes

This is part of John Stossel's column today. Stossel is the award-winning news correspondent and consumer reporter you've often seen on ABC's "20/20." You can find the whole column here.

(Bill) O'Reilly told me that America is ready for a tax revolt. I hope he's right. But I don't think it will happen until more people see the ruling elite for what it is: a gang of arrogant bullies that has the audacity to believe that they know how to direct our lives better than we do.

That's why, bad as the taxes are, I'm more upset about ObamaCare, Medicare, the "stimulus," the auto bailout, the bank bailouts, the Fannie/Freddie bailouts, the trillions in guarantees, and on and on.

The politicians' spending schemes represent presumptuous interference in our lives. They are an assault on our autonomy.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Treen is the one on the right...

Don Walker was a high school senior from Chicago who came to Louisiana Tech sight unseen, got himself educated and was one of the best reporters and writers to ever darken the door of The Times in Shreveport. He is doing well at Florida Today now, but a lot of us miss him personally; I miss his writing too.

He sent me and a few other friends this note below the other day. John Andrew Prime dug out this photograph for him because John Andrew is like that; he'll do things for you when he knows it's important to you. Good man.

From Donnie Golfgame...

I thought I'd share this with you. I figure Wiley would get a kick out of it too. Heading into my 28th year with Gannett, I'm amazed sometimes at the characters and people I've run across who left amazing impressions on me. Now and then I stumble across the fact that some of them are no longer with us....

It was kinda sad reading about Dave Treen's death on the Shreveport Times Web site this morning. One of my fondest memories as a cub reporter was being sent to cover the Farmerville Watermelon Festival. I'd never talked to a governor before, but at one point there we were -- me and Gov. Dave Treen. I told him I was covering the festival for The Times, and asked if I could take a quick photo of him. He said, "What do you want me to do?"

I told him, "you don't have to do anything. I'll just take a quick snapshot."

To that, he said, "Naw, let's make it something big." He reached down and hoisted this big, fat watermelon onto his shoulder, and I took the photo. Next day, it was the Page 1 strip story with the governor standing there holding this watermelon next to his head. Classic!

If you're curious, that had to be about 1983-ish. If any of you have the time and computer expertise, I wouldn't mind seeing that old photo again. That smile on his face was for me, and I'll never forget it.

RIP, Dave Treen.


Friday, November 13, 2009

The song book story...

I am President of the local Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club. We are called Hagen's Heroes, in honor of Earle Hagen, a nice man who wrote "The Fishin' Hole," the show's theme song. He wrote the theme to "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and others, too. Google him sometimes. I called him at his California home years ago to ask if we could use his name as our club's title. He answered the phone and everything. Love him.

There are other "believers" out there who, like me, know that The Andy Griffith Show is a bit of heaven on earth. Seasons 2-5 are the best television ever made. Please don't argue with me about his; you'll embarrass yourself.

One such beleiver is Bill. (I can't tell you his last name because that would be indiscreet. Johnson. Bill Johnson.) Now and then Bill makes us lapel buttons, like the one you see above. I wore it the other night at the FCA Founders Day Banquet; it inspired a little contest for a sleeve of golf balls. (By the way, we have a winner!) The question: Where is this saying from? And the answer is, In the song in the 'Hot Mic' episode, one of the great Barney moments of alltime. As a fellow clubber pointed out to me this week, Andy went to great lengths to keep his friend Barney from needless hurting. Often he saved Barn from himself. Andy was funny and Andy was wise, and Andy was a servant. He didn't let friends get away with things that would hurt them, but he selflessly protected them from their own innocent quirks when he could. Andy did not mind taking one for the team.

I received a songbook in the mail recently, from Bill. He wrote me this note this week. The songbook is close by me now.

The rest of the song book story...
I am a collector and recycler of stuff.
Love books, especially old books.
I appreciate the quality of printing and the craftsmanship.
Some look good on a bookshelf.
Some have great engravings or illustrations.
Some are just great to read.
I can't resist looking through a stack of books for sale.
The Centenary Book Sale is an opportunity to indulge my habit at bargain prices.
At one of those sales in the late 1990s...
After sorting through a pile of old sheet music
(some of those have great art or fun titles)
I noticed the little song book.
It occurred to me to search the index for a title.
I can't remember why I thought to do that.
Maybe the solo mic episode was on my mind.
Maybe the song had just been playing on the radio and stuck in my head.
For whatever reason I searched and found, Welcome, Sweet Springtime.
Then I turned to page 36 and on the same page was Juanita.
I became lost in the moment, oblivious to the frantic action around me.
I looked over my shoulder to the bleachers behind me.
Surely someone had set this up and was watching.
Only a true believer can understand how special that time was.
I had found gold for a dollar and a quarter.
I left there with dozens of books.
Can't tell you now which ones.
Made three trips to the truck to carry them all.
But that one at $1.25 was the prize.
I treasured that book for a while.
Showed it to those I thought could appreciate it.
Considered removing page 36 and framing it.
Maybe getting Barney to sign it.
At every Centenary Sale since my first stop is at the music table.
I want to find more copies to share.
Haven't found another one there yet.
Found one at a local garage sale and another at an estate sale.
Bought one more online.
Gave one to Hayden Slack for his graduation last year.
Those Slacks are true believers.
Been saving the original (and its pedigree) for you for a while.
Knew you would get the same chill I did when I found it.
Never could find the right time to give it so I just did.
Still have two.
One is available to a worthy recipient at some point.
One will be passed down to my heirs.
It'll probably end up at a Centenary Sale.
Hope a true believer finds it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

John Hussey: A quiet blast from the past

My friend and Shreveport attorney Tom Arceneaux in his "Business Development Thought of the Day" is writing this month about people who have influenced him/us. Today's effort is dedicated to John Hussey. I haven't seen Mayor Hussey in a while and trust he's doing well; I've always liked him because he would talk books and baseball with me, and he always seemed interested in what I had to say, and some of you who know me know that's not always easy to do! The mayor was quietly efficient, stealthy in his humor, liberal in praise, and I can learn from that. I appreciate Tom writing these. . .

This month is dedicated to thanksgiving for wonderful people who have influenced us.
I had the privilege to serve the people of Shreveport as a member of the City Council from 1982-1990. John Hussey served as mayor during that same time, having served the previous four years as a councilman. I am grateful for John's service and his example to me.
John is a lawyer and a quiet man. To many, being quiet and cerebral excludes a person from the ranks of leaders. John helped me learn that quiet thinkers can be great leaders.
John had great vision for Shreveport and her needs for infrastructure in the years that would follow his service. He anticipated those needs and led the city through several bond elections, building roads and water and sewer systems that have carried the city to where it is today. In particular, his attention to the future traffic needs of Shreveport have made it possible today to get from just about any place in Shreveport to just about any other place in 15 minutes or less.
John met regularly and privately with City Council members to keep us posted on his plans and seek our input, even when he expected opposition to some of his agenda. He shared the spotlight with us. When he was unable to attend an event, rather than just sending a member of his staff, he would invite the City Council member from the district to represent the city and the mayor.
I was fortunate to have served with John Hussey and fortunate to have learned from his quiet and effective example.
Good hunting.
M. Thomas (Tom) Arceneaux

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Favorite verses...

(This post is from Daily New Life at


Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
-- John 14:27

The beautiful words of John 14:27 remind us that Jesus offers us peace, not as the world gives, but as He alone gives. Have you found the genuine peace that can be yours through Jesus Christ? Or are you still rushing after the illusion of "peace and happiness" that the world promises but cannot deliver?

Today, as a gift to yourself, to your family, and to your friends, claim the inner peace that is your spiritual birthright: the peace of Jesus Christ. It is offered freely; it has been paid for in full; it is yours for the asking. So ask. And then share.

Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.
Catherine Marshall

Christ alone can bring lasting peace—peace with God—peace among men and nations—and peace within our hearts.
Billy Graham

God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
C. S. Lewis

God's peace is like a river, not a pond. In other words, a sense of health and well-being, both of which are expressions of the Hebrew shalom, can permeate our homes even when we're in white-water rapids.
Beth Moore

Monday, November 9, 2009

Andy from the ashes...

(The picture is of Andy, Sydney and tiny Phoenix back in the spring. Andy's willingness put him in a position to make a positive difference for a lot of people -- like me. He always read my stuff and would quote something to me if he liked it. I told him I'd write about him one day. I'd rather it not have been this. I have other Andy stories to share with you, and will when the time is right. We are grateful that they all end good. This ran in The Times and The News-Star Sunday.)
Four years ago, Andy's life was a confusing cross between a Dumpster fire and a train wreck.
Jail loomed.
Friends vanished.
Even family had to throw up a fence of self-protection.
Andy was done and done-er. Sure seemed that way. Not enough power to keep him out of the pig pen, and not enough hope to keep him from caring too awfully much one way or the other.
How can you help a guy unwilling to help himself?
Hearts were broken. Because this was Andy. Lovable Andy. He was born funny and carefree and matured in both with age. He produced smiles like an oak makes acorns. Good ol' Andy.
When he was a toddler he loved playing under the dining room table.
Once he asked the rather stout housekeeper to get under there with him and play.
"But I'm too big," she told her tiny friend. And little Andy said, "Well, just get as much as you CAN get under here!"
First-grader or senior, they all knew Andy at school. He hated class but loved school because he loved the attention and the friendships.
The people. At graduation he got the biggest cheer, not because he passed with the highest grade-point average, but instead because he passed at all. He failed as a teacher's rehab project, but he passed as a kind-hearted student no teacher could help but love.
But it didn't take long for drugs and drink to make a good-sized dent in the Andy that now had to face a real world. There came a time when he couldn't get under the table any more, not to play, and not to hide.
Then something happened. Everyone had had enough of Andy until finally, even Andy had had enough of Andy. Some friends were there to meet him at the dead end. They knew a better road. He followed.
That was the beginning of a miracle, a radical love that comes upon a guy and changes things. Not only did Andy quit doing the things that were killing him and hurting everyone who cared about him, but he started doing things to help a world as fallen as he'd been.
In theological circles, it's called redemption. On the streets, it's called "That's Andy — but it ain't the same Andy. Thank God."
The days he'd hated, he now embraced. He was among the first people to introduce himself when I moved to Ruston, and a guy more jolly you'd be hard-pressed to find. He thought ahead now. Put himself in the back seat. Was accountable to friends all over town. He knew how to use a cell phone, I can tell you that.
In late spring he used a text message to announce to who knows how many people the birth of his son Phoenix, little brother to big sis Sydney. That name's a little "out there," I thought. But I was wrong.
Phoenix is a perfect name for a boy whose father, like the ancient bird, rose from the ashes, found his life saved, and passed life along.
So little makes sense in this fallen world. I thought that especially true Tuesday as I looked over a diverse and overflow crowd at his funeral. Just 29 years old. A viral infection. The doctors don't even really know yet what it was, but Andy battled it for weeks.
It rained the whole month Andy was in ICU. But as his life was once he started over, it was sunny Tuesday, beautiful and clear and clean.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A season ends...

(FOOTBALL NOTE: Louisiana Tech fans anticipate for different reasons next weekend's trip to Tiger Stadium, where the Bulldogs will play LSU. But an interesting note is that tonight, Tech faces what is right now a better team than the Tigers in Boise State. If Boise and LSU play tonight on a neutral field, is the favorite LSU? At Tiger Stadium, probably so, by 2 or maybe 3. Boise State is favored if they play on the Smurf Turf. I'm just saying...)

Now...a tribute to the dad of four sons, one of them a sportswriter...

Just before baseball season ended, so did the life of the dad of one of my sportswriting buddies. Mash writes down in Biloxi for the Sun-Herald. He sent me this story this morning; I'm grateful for his dad, because I've been brought a lot of laughs through his son....Also, I talked to my dad for a minute last night, over in Georgia. He continues to recover from early summer heart surgery and I thank all of you who continue to ask about him. He's doing well.

Hug your folks.


When I was six or seven, I got my first chance to play organized baseball. I was born in August 53 years ago so I was always one of the youngest kids in my class. Anyone whose birthday falls in that month can probably relate.

I couldn’t wait, really. My mom and dad, Sara and John Mashek, had four boys to raise in the ‘60s, and to say we were an active bunch is akin to observing that the sun rose in the East and the heat that it brought to summertime in Houston was fairly intense.

We lived close to the high school and had plenty of opportunities to play ball. First thing in the morning. During the long, lazy afternoons. With dusk approaching. By the time I was in fourth or fifth grade, organizing a pick-up game at Westchester High School only took a couple phone calls or a short bike ride down the street.

The kids in my neighborhood were down.

My passion for sports carried over to football, too, and since we were living in Texas, nothing compared to Friday nights at Tully Stadium, where Westchester and Spring Branch and Memorial all played high school games. We also had college football at Rice and the University of Houston and the Oilers, who played in the AFL in those days.

I was the oldest of the four boys and pretty much reined herd on my kid brothers — Dave, Tom and Bill. Mom had a tough gig, keeping a kind yet mindful eye on the four of us and making sure we paid enough attention in class to get to the next grade. (At least in my case.) Dad loved baseball and befriended a young executive with the Houston Astros, Bill Giles, and the Giles family happened to have three boys who were my brothers’ age. Trips to Colt Stadium and then the Astrodome became frequent.

The Giles family moved to Philadelphia in 1969 and we followed them to the East Coast one year later. Tom would go on to work for the Phillies after college, starting out in Clearwater, Fla., and joining the big club in the early ‘90s.

My parents became the biggest Phillies fans south of Wilmington and were on hand for their World Series championship last year, when they silenced Tampa Bay in five games.

Dad taught Dave and Tom how to throw a curveball and showed Billy, a left-handed hitting catcher, the value of hitting the ball to the opposite field.

I was the pulling guard of the group and Dad always encouraged me to discover the literary side of sport, from Jerry Kramer’s “Instant Replay” with the Green Bay Packers to the sports pages of the Houston Chronicle and Washington Post and even Jim Bouton’s off-color “Ball Four,” which told us that boys would definitely be boys in big-league clubhouses.

A sense of humor, I learned, could always come in handy.

Dad worked for the Dallas Morning News, for U.S. News and World Report, for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and finally the Boston Globe.

He covered national politics for more than three decades and served on presidential debate panels in 1984, ‘88 and ‘92. He traveled a good bit but still found a way to get to our ballgames, and more important, make sure we actually did some homework.

(Again, at least in my case.)

Mom and Dad made it back to Washington after Game 5 of the World Series and went to watch my nieces, Emily and Rebecca, play high school soccer for the Whitman Vikings on Tuesday night.

We lost Dad that night, after sharing his wisdom, warmth and wisecracks for a lifetime. He will, of course, always be with us.

Jim Mashek can be reached at 896-2333 or

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Birthday wishes to ...

Tanner Drew, a good man, who is 1 year old on this very day...
Jenny Meyers Ramsey has a birthday Nov. 11, and her oldest son Brad has a birthday on the 16th. They will probably be freezing in St. Louis.
Lacey is precious and her birthday is the 17th. She'll be 17 on the 17th.
And her dad Jeeves has a birthday on the 27th. Love me some Jeeves.
Almost forgot but my man J.C. Penney turns 50 either today or tomorrow or Thursday. Either way you cut it, he's elderly and I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate his elderlyness.
Happy Birthday!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Harvest Moon and ... Beaver Moon?

I didn't know there was a Beaver Moon, but there is and it's tonight, according to Most of us didn't see the official Harvest Moon because of bad weather, but we should be able to milk the Beaver Moon; the moon was pretty all weekend. Don't miss it tonight...


Oct. 4, 2:10 a.m. EDT -- Full Harvest Moon. Traditionally, this designation goes to the full moon that occurs closest to the Autumnal (fall) Equinox. The Harvest Moon usually comes in September, but sometimes it will fall in early October as is the case in 2009; the next time won't come until 2017. At the peak of the harvest, farmers can work into the night by the light of this moon. Usually the full moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice -- the chief Indian staples -- are now ready for gathering.

Nov. 2, 2:14 p.m. EST -- Full Beaver Moon. Now it is time to set beaver traps before the swamps freeze to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Beaver Full Moon come from the fact that the beavers are now active in their preparation for winter. This is also called the Frosty Moon, and as this is also the next full moon after the Harvest Moon, it can also be referred to as the Hunters' Moon. With the leaves falling and the deer fattened, it is time to hunt. Since the fields have been reaped, hunters can ride over the stubble, and can more easily see the fox, also other animals, which have come out to glean and can be caught for a thanksgiving banquet after the harvest.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sermon-on-a-Stick: James bonds

(Neglected to write these down so far this week and am catching up. That's on me! Here are my notes if you trust them from Dr. Chris' sermons, the continuing series on James.)


James 4: 2-3 -- "You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

*Many of our problems are spiritual; spiritual problems demand spiritual solutions.
* Other problem-causers: Satan, sickness, other people's sinful behavior. But MOST problems are pilot error -- our sinfullness, choices, behaviors, attitudes, not doing things God's way.

How To Attack Disobedience to God

1. Really PRAY: " don't have because you don't ask God." (v. 2)
* On average, pastors in America pray only 7 minutes a day. So most laypeople, you would figure, pray less than that. Pray pray pray!
Phillipians 4:6 "Don't worry but through prayer and supplication make your requests known to God..."

* This demands we be right with God. Matt 6:14-15 -- we have to forgive if we are going to have a prayer life
Isaiah 59:1-2 -- "...your sins had hidden His face so he cannot hear you..."
God hears prayers of men and women who are trying honestly to be right with God

*This demands we understand some basics of God.

* This demands we pray with a pure heart (v. 3)

"Purify my heart, Lord. May you be glorified by this. May your will be done, which is always best."

Real prayer changes things, and it always changes us.


James 2:14-26

* Do I have what it takes to get to heaven?

2 Corinthians 13:5 asks us to examine ourselves to see if we are 'in the faith.'

Faith in Christ is what will get us to heaven

* (v. 19) "You believe in one God; even the demons believe that, and shudder."

* Do I have faith in Christ?
* Do I have a faith in Christ that will get me to heaven?

3 Things About Saving Faith

1. It involves your head (Romans 10:9-10)
2. It involves your heart, opening your heart to him (John 3:3)
3. It affects your hands; it changes your behavior (James 2:15-16)
Real saving faith moves from your head to your heart to your hands

* When did you give your life to Christ? TWhat was the date, or at least the year or time of year or time of day? This is an EVENT, not a process, like sanctification is. When did the old self die and the new self begin to live? Has your life and behavior been changed?

* Are you a Jesus follower or are you a 'genuine replica'? ... in other words, a real fake.

*Unless we've possessed a faith that's possessed us and it's changed our behavior, we are at best genuine replicas.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy World Series!

I'll say Phillies in 6.

(Secretly, I have no idea...And am hoping for 7 games.)

You are the woodwind beneath my wings

(This was Sunday's column in the Times and The News Star. I can't remember the last time I didn't write my own headline -- until now. Craig Durrett wrote this one a couple of weeks ago when I told him what i was writing about -- a parachutist accidentally falling onto a marching band's flute player, and he immediately said this headline, and I immediately started laughing...)

She left this message when returning my call.

"Hello! This is Rachael Drella, the flute/piccolo player of Louisiana Tech's Band of Pride? I was the one you were asking about, the one who was 'attacked' by the parachute during our pregame performance. I would be glad to talk to you about it. What an interesting night that was!"

You can see why I couldn't talk to her fast enough.

It happened before Tech's Bulldogs pounded Nicholls State during the team's home opener at Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston. The hardest hit of the night might have been the parachuter's landing, loose and panicky and nearly atop poor, innocent Rachael, on about the 35-yard line. Such barnyard tactics in a pregame show, I have never seen.

But the football gods were good to me on this day. I was locked in.The band, post-national anthem, was marching and playing — the game was less than 10 minutes from starting — when here came the first of four skydivers, dodging the band and landing awkwardly on the sideline, sending cheerleaders and pepsters scrambling.

No one pieced this together until later, but one reason this seemed odd was because in the past, these regular pregame skydivers would time their drops into the stadium for AFTER the band had stopped marching and were standing at attention on the north half of the field, leaving skydivers more than 50 yards of clear landing space.

But the timing was off on this day. The anthem ran long. So the divers dove too soon. All four of them.

Tech band director Jim Robken was standing proudly on the sidelines, watching his team's pregame performance, enjoying the weather, when the guy beside him said, "They're out."

"Who's out?" Robken said.

"The skydivers," he said, looking up at four, little midair dots and a passing plane.

"But they're not supposed to be out."

"But they are," the guy said.

"How long before they hit the ground," Robken asked.

"Thirty seconds."

"Oh no," Robken said. "We're not going to be out of the way."

The die had been cast.

"Once guys jump out of a plane, there's a certain degree of inevitability there," Robken would say later. "You've got yourself a pretty predictable chain of events after that."

Hello Mr. Gravity!

"It was the weirdest thing," said Rachael, a Tech senior and Band of Pride section leader who'd never experienced such an air attack while marching for Airline High in Bossier City. "Halfway through our march, I saw the first parachuter land pretty hard on the sideline and people scattering. I thought, 'Gosh, I'm glad he didn't hit me.' We were in a shadow so there was nothing to warn me when ..." she starts laughing, though it wasn't funny right then.

The strings of the next skydiver's parachute hit her, wrapped her, caused her to stumble. From the stands, we saw the parachute guy land, trying like a cartoon character to skid to a stop but quickly approaching Rachael, who was marching away and suddenly enveloped, like by The Blob.

The chutist attacks the flutist. (I'd like to see the skydivers try that sort of thing with bass drummers or, worse, the tuba guys; I'd bet on the tuba corp, every time.)

"I didn't fall down, but I stumbled quite a bit," said Rachael, who is on scholarship and this night deserved even combat pay. "I got tangled, untangled, and kept marching."

"She was so cool," Robken said. "She maintained her poise in an unbelievable way."

Impressive. Like a running back breaking a tackle, she and her flute suddenly re-appeared out of the chute and, on the run, caught up to her bandmates and fell into step. The next parachutist landed harmlessly downfield as the band had continued marching upfield and had by then turned around so as to face the skydivers head on and have a fighting chance. The final skydiver hit the field's center, right on the Tech logo, as planned.

"After the game I called my parents like I always do and said, 'We won, this happened, that happened, and oh, by the way, I got hit by a parachute,'" Rachel said.

"We've viewed the video during rehearsal several times since then," Robken said. "What a hoot. It's funny now. As we say in the band, 'We're makin' memories!'"

Monday, October 26, 2009

One way...

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” -- Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

We learn from our mistakes. My hope is that you can learn from mine without making them yourself.

What I say and write and whether you agree doesn’t matter. Always judge it against scripture. And what the Bible says, as I’ve come to understand it, is that I can never be good enough for God on my own. But I sure did try.

And I can never be bad enough to convince myself that I can outrun God, outthink him, or pretend he’s not there. I tried that too.

Being very good or very bad are ways to try to control God. But he won’t be controlled.

The Bible tells me I was born with a human heart, centered on self, into a world I’m not made for. And the only thing that will change that heart of mine or yours is radical love.

I sat in a pew for a lot of years. Read my Bible. Said I believed. And I did believe there was a God. The demons believe the same thing.

Nothing I did saved me. I finally responded to God by admitting being empty and by asking for faith. He allowed me to see my heart. Not pretty. And he allowed me to see the cross. Perfect love.

“Jesus Loves Me.” I know that song. But do I know Jesus? Do I believe he loves me? And do I love him? Have I really, really, really thought about this and set my mind? Or is it sentimentality? A clear picture of Calvary will move any information into sensation, and that's what starts to change the heart.

So ... have I really surveyed the cross? Is my identity today based in God and what he has done for me through his Son? Can I tell you when the old man died and the new one was born? These questions are worth thinking about. Until you know for sure, they’re the only questions that matter.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Baseball's championship series (or serieses...serii? what's the plural of 'series'?)

I have enjoyed the baseball playoffs on television. So there you go. I don't understand the horrible, really non-understandable poor umpiring, but it's still been fun because I have no real team interest, just the game. Gun to my head, I'd like Phillies-Angels; but please don't put a gun to my head. And Casey two weeks ago picked Werth to be the Series MVP, so I've been pulling for him. He's the Phillies right fielder and I guess he was born with a little bitty dip of Copenhagen in his mouth. His lip seems permanently pooched out.

But when you watch two weeks of playoffs you see the same commercials over and over. Not good. Except I really do like these two. (They may have been on for months but really, I haven't watched much TV for months so they're new to me!) One is the Travelers dog trying to protect his investment -- click here for the minute-long version. And the other is the ETrade baby; I love the guy who sings. The ETrade baby schooling a guy in golf, the Shankapotamus, is a good commercial too.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Grammatically incorrect but still purty good

Tick gave this book to me for my birthday. You know I loves me a title that's not quite correct, English-wise. How the title came to be is a neat and quick story in itself. The first book by these authors, Same Kind of Different As Me, I liked; this new one reads much faster. More info is easily available by Googling; I might still have a copy unless I loaned it to someone, and you are welcome to borrow mine. Tick's got this one right now, but you can use it when she's done.

You can read it in three hours or so. It's a compact size too.

Out of five loaves and two fish, I'd rate it three loaves and one fish.

"Most people want to be circled by safety, not by the unexpected. The unexpected can take you out. But the unexpectedd can also take you over and change your life. Put a heart in your body where a stone used to be." -- Denver Moore

Cost: $16.99 retail
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (Sept 29, 2009)
Pages: 224

Below is an online editorial review:

New thoughts and reflections from the authors of the inspirational New York Times bestseller Same Kind of Different as Me.
The more than four hundred thousand readers stirred by the story of Ron Hall and Denver Moore will resonate with the all new, stand-alone true stories of hope and healing offered in this intimate, authentic follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Same Kind of Different as Me.
With new "Denverisms" and reflections from Denver on his personal dealings with homelessness and disrespect from others, additional insights from Ron on what we can learn from people not like us and from those dealing with a terminal illness, and the stories of readers who have been impacted by the book's central themes, this inspirational reader will generate a host of new fans. Topics include:
*Faith and friendship
*Racial reconciliation
*Community outreach
Book also includes for the first time samples of Denver's paintings.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Near Perfect

I have a friend whose heart is soft and gentle as morning rain, a man strong in conviction and purpose, a husband and dad who long ago accepted God’s command to love the Father with all his heart and soul and mind, and to love his neighbor as himself.

I have discovered one of his secrets to maintaining conscious contact with his Creator. It is fixed on his heart because for a long time, he’s had it fixed on the dash of his car. It’s written on a little card wedged into the gauges and control knobs so he can read it while waiting in line at the drive-thru, while stopped in traffic, while at a red light.

I want every detail,
of every circumstance,
of every moment,
of every day,
to awaken my heart
to the reality of God and His nearness.
I want to see
and sense
and savor
the nearness of God
in all things.

We live “brinksman” lifestyles. I like that word, that phrase. It’s tossed around often in foreign policy circles, but it hits us where we live. We manipulate dangerous situations to unsafe limits, trying to gain an advantage. We create one crisis to avoid or lessen another. And we keep running into brick walls. That’s the real us.

But to think of God’s nearness is to demand of myself a clear image of what I’m about. Without Him, I’m rushing toward failure. With Him, I’m protected by mercy, purified by grace, powered by hands that scattered stars.

To know God’s nearness is to run on a heavenly timetable, to rest in a divine peace, to remember an eternal hope, to lean on arms everlasting.

“Kinder, gentler thoughts prevail,” my friend told me, “when I continually admit to God's reality and His nearness.”

Philippians 4:5 -- Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Psalm 73:28 -- But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge…

Thursday, October 15, 2009

So it's raining cats and dogs...which is bad for the rats and the mice. But seriously folks...

... it really IS raining cats and dogs. I just stepped in a poodle.

The old jokes are the best jokes.
Or maybe not.

The above is "inspired" by my friend Rob, who sent out the note below to his Sunday school class "up to" the Methodist church. He keeps me on the list. Glad he does. Some of his note to his class this week follows...

".......What I'm tying to say is that it's raining so hard that the statue in front of City Hall is soaked to the skin.

"All right already, enough about the weather. Remember this, as bad as it's storming now and looks like it'll be that way for the rest of the day; seeing how the gray skies and rain have overhung us for many days now; and we wonder when we're going to get some relief from the skies - look forward to Friday, Saturday, et seq. When you see the blue heavens and the brilliant sun, think back about how dark and scary it looks this morning.

"Isn't that just like life? Whatever storm is whipping around you right now, it won't last, don't you know? The promise of God is there behind the clouds for above all this stormy weather is blue sky and sunshine. We just can't see it today, but it's there. Hold on to His promise that some pretty awe-inspiring days are just around the corner, weather-wise, and for each of you, too.

"So, between now and Sunday, when I pray we're all together, endure storms with prayer and thanksgiving, and enjoy the celestial brilliance that I believe we'll see after the deluge.

"We'll be finishing up the book of Jimmy - James if you prefer to be formal - with Chapter 5. Here we'll see the admonition to the wicked, you know, the bad guys; the need for patience; a word or two about @$%&# swearing; the power of prayer; and reclaiming those who are wayward, e.g. 'doing' church.

"May God's loving hands be on each of you and may you be safe."


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sermon-on-a-Stick: 'Just Do It'

(Sunday's sermon if you trust my note-taking)

Just Do It

* "Take in'' the Word properly

Better information leads to better living. How do we 'take in' the Word?

a. Hear it.

Romans 10:17 -- Faith comes from hearing, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Put myself in position to hear the Word -- go to church, Sunday school, Bible studies...make sure I put myself in a position, regularly, to hear the Word.

b. Read it.

Get a Bible you can understand and one you enjoy reading. (Google to find out which translations are on which reading levels, or go to the bookstore and look for a Bible you like. Pray about it. Ask friends what they read and look at their Bibles. Lots of Bibles contain good study guides and notes and commentary.

1. How to approach studying my Bible

*Just read it: Maybe just read the New Testament once a year (less than a chapter a day will do it), and the Old Testament once every three years (three chapters a day or so). The way you can tell the Bible is the inspired word ... it never gets old. You almost always see new things each time you read a passage.

* Study it: look 'intently' at what the text says. Maybe read five verses a day or 10 in a dedicated study time. Pray over that text. Read it over and over. But then ...

* Just Do It --

Live out what the Bible says to live out. Bible studies and reading the Word is a good thing, but the main thing is doing what the Bible says, doing what God is telling us, through this letter to us, to do.

*A lot of us "audit" God. We don't need more Bible studies. We have lots of Bible information. But we need to DO, to live out, what the Word says. A lot of us are good "practice" players but not good in the game. And God always has us in the game.

* Mark Twain: "It's not what I DON'T understand about the Bible that scares me; it's what i DO understand but don't do."

* Am I tithing?

Do I forgive people?

Am I an instrument of reconciliation?

Am I faithful to my church family?

Do I love people?

Am I living out the Word?
Am i doing or only hearing?

* Let's say my parents leave a list of things for me to do the weekend they are gone. When they come back, they ask me if I did those things. And I say, "I studied the list. I memorized some of the list. I studied the list with friends, in a group. We argued about the list, agreed with some of the list, but felt that it was definitely an inspired and divine list. It's a good list for sure."

And my parents say, "But did you DO anything on the list we asked you to do?"

And if we say "No," it's the same principle as when we read the Bible, maybe even agree with the Bible, but decide not to do everything God asks us to do, commands us to do, in His Word. He won't ask us one day if we read the Bible; he'll ask us if we did what he asked.

God speaks through James with a passionate plea: when it comes to the Word of God, just do it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oswald Chambers

It is always humbling to read Oswald Chambers. His "My Utmost for His Highest" is the best-selling devotion book ever. You can find it online here. Today's effort, I've pasted below. Read about him sometime when you have a chance; he was not without early struggles. But when he "got it," God used him, and still does. He makes you think, for sure.

Getting into God’s Stride

"Enoch walked with God . . ." — Genesis 5:24

The true test of a person’s spiritual life and character is not what he does in the extraordinary moments of life, but what he does during the ordinary times when there is nothing tremendous or exciting happening. A person’s worth is revealed in his attitude toward the ordinary things of life when he is not under the spotlight (see John 1:35-37 and John 3:30 ). It is painful work to get in step with God and to keep pace with Him— it means getting your second wind spiritually. In learning to walk with God, there is always the difficulty of getting into His stride, but once we have done so, the only characteristic that exhibits itself is the very life of God Himself. The individual person is merged into a personal oneness with God, and God’s stride and His power alone are exhibited.

It is difficult to get into stride with God, because as soon as we start walking with Him we find that His pace has surpassed us before we have even taken three steps. He has different ways of doing things, and we have to be trained and disciplined in His ways. It was said of Jesus— "He will not fail nor be discouraged . . ." (Isaiah 42:4 ) because He never worked from His own individual standpoint, but always worked from the standpoint of His Father. And we must learn to do the same. Spiritual truth is learned through the atmosphere that surrounds us, not through intellectual reasoning. It is God’s Spirit that changes the atmosphere of our way of looking at things, and then things begin to be possible which before were impossible. Getting into God’s stride means nothing less than oneness with Him. It takes a long time to get there, but keep at it. Don’t give up because the pain is intense right now— get on with it, and before long you will find that you have a new vision and a new purpose.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Anniversary! ...

to my little sis and to Jeeves, married 13 or 14 years this very evening. (I know it's something in the low teens and I meant to ask her when I was on the phone with her a second ago but forgot because we were talking about, of course, Madea.)

Tinker and Jeeves rock out and are your kind of people.

Happy Birthday to ...


Yesterday. Columbus Day Eve.

The Big Five O.

It was a good day. I spilled prune juice on me only once. I dozed off just three times, but only twice while i was talking. I'll write about it for Sunday I think, if I live that long. That's a serious jump ball.

If I don't, I'll die knowing my family loves me, that's for sure. And I love them, but only because I know how now. They went all out and I appreciate it. (Wish I could remember it.)

Sorry for the blogging delays. Computer woes. Lots of work to do. I'm taking a class at Tech, honestly. Probably failing it. I know I'm failing Sunday school. Who fails Sunday school? (Got Noah confused with Moses and it costs me 30 points on our last test.)

Mad at the Red Sox, Twins and Cardinals, swept unceremoniously. Costs us a lot of free baseball. Thanks a lot! And it was my birthday and everything, too....Losers...

Broom and Biscuit are making me supper tonight: cheesy chicken spaghetti and a surprise dessert. Good for me! And I hope they'll let me watch the last few innings of the Rocks/Phillies game. Pull for Colorado so we can get one more free game, OK?

Talk to you soon.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tiny boys and baseball, old men and baseball

If my Granddaddy Teddy were still alive, he'd be turning 100 tomorrow. He died 6 days after he turned 61, 4 days after I turned 11. Fifty years older than me, almost to the day.

I wish he would have lived longer. I could have taken him to ballgames. But maybe I wouldn't have. I'd like to think I would have. I would today.

He'd take his vacation from the paper mill in West Monroe and watch the World Series on television. He'd have enjoyed today and yesterday: three games in one day, of playoffs. He was a sweet man. When he got sick, a lot of guys at the paper mill split time and worked his shifts. I wish you could have met him.

Sunday's column is called "Watch the Ball into Your Glove." It really doesn't have much to do with baseball; it just uses baseball, hopefully to make a point. But this following note does have to do with baseball. Scooter works at the paper and has already read Sunday's story. He wrote me this note today after he did. He and Melissa, a couple of years ago, had Hadley.

"Melissa flew out of town recently on a Sunday afternoon for a business trip. After Hadley and I dropped her off at the airport, we went home and watched Sunday Night Football. He decided early in the first quarter that he wanted to "watch Copper" (The Fox and the Hound) instead. So we watched that until he said "I wanna watch football." When we got to Monday night, same drill - football, Tod and Copper, then more football. Tuesday night he started with Fox and the Hound and was disappointed when there wasn't any football on. Then I hit pay dirt - the "Battle at Bricktown" featuring the Memphis Redbirds and the Durham Bulls. Now all I hear is "I wanna watch baseball."

"The other day he found one of my 12-inch souvenir bats. He walks around the house now swinging at anything he can find, or anything you toss his way. He's stepping into the swing with his back foot, and he's a sucker for the high fastball. But he's playing baseball.

"Life is good...

"I hope you have a great weekend.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

You don't get many of these...

* Shreveport's Scott Baker will start for the Minnesota Twins today in the sudden-death game against the Detroit Tigers in the Metrodome. Starts around 4. I might brew a pot of decaf and strap in. Don't know if I've seen an entire game this season but I'm going to try to watch this one. The winner gets the Yankees.
And last night I kept thinking about how frustrating it was for the Metrodome grounds crew, waiting for the Vikings-Packers Monday Night Football game to get over -- and it lasted a LONG time -- so they could start getting the field ready for today's baseball game. I like my grounds crew guys.

* Sweeter's Peyton Manning poster, rescued months ago from the trash heap by Linnea and given a safe home with one of Peyton's biggest fans, suffered a slight injury after last week's Monday night victory. (A post from a couple of weeks ago will explain all this, if you missed it.) Sweeter was too tired to put Peyton up so she left him hanging overnight, which might have resulted in a slight tear, a couple of inches, on his throwing shoulder. It might have just been the weight of his hanging there all night, looking in the pocket toward the kitchen to see if the sink and microwave were playing two-deep coverage, that caused the injury. I found all this out Sunday at dinnertime, just before Peyton's noon kickoff. Sweeter had fixed the problem with tape; you can't even tell he's been injured. And it didn't hurt him since he won and Eli won, leaving Sweeter undefeated and rolling along in this young NFL season. Eli is suffering from a bad heel this week, but that is in real life and not on a poster so all Sweeter can do is pray, which I'm sure she has and is.

Sweeter could not put on her Official Peyton Jersey for Sunday's noon kickoff because she didn't want to get gravy on it. Tinker and Jeeves were there, Sissy and Keith, Lacey and Champy, Pops of course and also Casey. Roast and gravy, homemade mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole (we are big potato people), green beans Tinker had cooked down, deviled eggs Sissy brought, gallons of tea, some crescents, chocolate pie and also this strawberry shortcake-like stuff. We might have had something else -- corn, and some peas I think -- but that's about it. It was fun and more fun. Jeeves embarrassed himself (the word 'cod' had something to do with it) and I've never seen him laugh so hard. Of course Sissy and Keith had to stop at Sam's on their way back home. It was beautiful. And my little sis might fry chicken for us Sunday. I am blessed. And hungry.

* Starting to feel like autumn! I didn't know until this morning, reading an inspirational writing by my friend Ray, that when the leaves change this time of year, it's because of stuff that leaves the leaves. That causes the 'change.' Here's some of what he wrote...

"With shortening daylight, the green of the chlorophyll simply exits the leaves revealing the remaining reds, yellows, oranges, and browns that before had remained hidden.

"We all have some true colors that remain hidden until a change occurs in our circumstances. Our underlying colors may not be pretty and may present a side of us that we would prefer remained hidden. However, as we walk closer and closer to the Lord, led by the Holy Spirit, our carnal nature will subside and the new revealed colors will be those of the maturing fruit of the Spirit, as in Galatians 5:22, 23 . . . love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

"Those around us may notice our change of season; however, our greatest joy will be in the praise of God when we see the Lord in His time. The Apostle Paul wrote, 'My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore, judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.'"
1 Corinthians 4:4-5


Friday, October 2, 2009

Happy Birthday wishes to ...

... precious little Lucie Ramsey in St. Louis, who is getting big!

And Happy October Baseball to everybody who cares about that sort of thing.

And thank you to all who donated to the Jack Witte FCA Golf Touranment yesterday; a few of you asked that I send you invoices after the fact, and I'll do that today. It was a pretty sweet afternoon ... golf without drinking or smoking or cussing. Who knew?

Today's a gorgeous day. Though we sit surrounded by sorrow, we can sip from the cup of coming joy --- because Jesus, though no one else knew it at the time, once sat at a wedding party in Cana, in the middle of joy, sipping the cup of coming sorrow.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy Birthday wishes to...

both Jaybo and Matth, my old train-riding buddies, stadium builders, and traveling companions. You are good husbands and good dads, and a good example for me. Good men. I love you both and always will. SEEYA!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sermon-on-a-Stick: The James Chronicles, cont...

(From Sunday's sermons, if you trust my note-taking)

James 1:17-20 (NIV)

(This is "The Message" translation: "16-18So, my very dear friends, don't get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.

"19-21Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God's righteousness doesn't grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life." )

1. Be QUICK to listen

2. Be SLOW to speak

3. Be COOL --- slow to anger
a. neither slow simmering anger,
b. nor passionate anger

* Jesus seldom got mad, and when He did it was when religious people acted like idiots or when the church acted ungodly.

* He didn't get mad at the drunks and prostitutes; He didn't get mad when people did things to him. He got mad for appropriate and justifiable reasons, and he acted justly in his anger. But he didn't remain mad.

* Most anger comes when we don't get our way

* If we get angry often, we have too much anger. (Prov 29:11 -- A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.)

* Man's anger does not honor God; no one sees a Jesus believer angry and says, "Man, I want to be an angry person like that angry follower of Christ!

* Will Rogers said that when we fly into a rage, we always make a bad landing.

* Don't overcomplicate and overspiritualize things. Do these three things and every area of your life will improve. Keep your temper and tongue under control. Use your ears more. Concentrate on changing you.


James 4: 1-3 (NIV)

(From "The Message" translation: Get Serious 1-2 Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don't have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn't yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.
2-3 You wouldn't think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you'd be asking for what you have no right to. You're spoiled children, each wanting your own way. )

I. There is strife in a lot of places
* In geographical places but also in our hearts, in our churches, in our homes...
* This has been going on since Adam and Eve -- and it was going on in James' church in Jerusalem

II. WE are the problem
* Strife comes from the desires that battle within us/me.
A. The problem is within my heart: about control, power, prestige -- sinful fallen people acting in a sinful fallen way.
B. The problem is within groups of hearts, in a business or family or, what James is most likely talking about here, in churches.

III. Let's change us

When Jesus prayed for the church (in John), he prayed for UNITY, not great music or great preaching or even great mission work. How can we be salt and light to the world if we're vinegar in the church?

Again, this is uncomplicated and simple. Hard to do sometimes, but simple in concept and a simple teaching. The problem is always in the mirror. It is always ME who needs changing.

(From Dr. Chris Sunday morning and night.)

(Teddy note: Was reading Romans 14 and 15 Tuesday night and it's got good stuff on this very thing, church unity and accepting one another, majoring in the majors, etc. Romans 15: 5-7 seems like a timeless summary: "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.")


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Good stuff

You know your love is real when you weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. You know your love is real when you feel for others what Catherine Lawes felt for the inmates of Sing Sing prison.

When her husband, Lewis, became the warden in 1921, she was a young mother of three daughters. Everybody warned her to never step foot inside the walls. But she didn’t listen to them.

When the first prison basketball game was held, in she went, three girls in tow, and took a seat in the bleachers with the inmates. She once said, “My husband and I are going to take care of these men, and I believe they will take care of me! I don’t have to worry!”

When she heard that one convicted murderer was blind, she taught him Braille so he could read. Upon learning of inmates who were hearing impaired, she studied sign language so they could communicate. For 16 years Catherine Lawes softened the hard hearts of the men of Sing Sing.

In 1937 the world saw the difference real love makes. The prisoners knew something was wrong when Lewis Lawes didn’t report to work. Quickly the word spread that Catherine had been killed in a car accident. The following day her body was placed in her home. Three quarters of a mile from the prison.

As the acting warden took his early morning walk, he noticed a large gathering at the main gate. Every prisoner pressed against the fence. Eyes awash with tears. Faces solemn. No one spoke or moved. They’d come to stand as close as they could to the woman who’d given them love.

The warden made a remarkable decision. “All right, men, you can go. Just be sure to check in tonight.”

These were America’s hardest criminals. Murderers. Robbers. These men the nation had locked away for life. But the warden unlocked the gate for them, and they walked without an escort of guards to the home of Catherine Lawes to pay their last respects.

And to a man, each one returned.

Real love changes people.

-- From "A Love Worth Giving," Max Lucado