Dear autumn time brings splendid holiday
in lovely shades of ginger and saffron.
Bright leaves announce Thanksgiving’s on its way.
Our crimson blessings we reflect upon.
With pies of pumpkin and amber chiffon,
cinnamon sentiments filling the air;
sweet loved ones and friends have gathered so near.
There’s frolic, feasting till the evening tide.
Of food and fellowship we’ve had our fill.
The umber sky, sun’s fire does now hide.
Our hearts are filled with gladness and good will
which does not dissipate with autumn’s chill.
And though Thanksgiving Day has come and gone,
the many colored memories live on.
Our high school Bible class is learning about submission and accountability this week. They were given an assignment by their instructor to write a piece as if they were a doctor giving advice or recommendations to a patient on how to avoid sin in their lives. I know I’m probably weird, but when I was in school, I loved assignments such as this one. I still do, and so I thought I’d give it a try.
From: Dr. Ounce O. Prevenshun
To: U.B. Carnal
Doctors Recommendations on How to Avoid Sin
The detailed instructions given below if followed, will aid the patient in abstaining from sin.
1. DO have a regular time of prayer each day. Think of prayer as a daily vitamin, vitamin P (See I Thessalonians 5:17, Luke 22:40, Luke 18:1, Ephesians 6:18, Mk. 14:38)
2. DO read your Bible each day. Think of it as your daily dose of vitamin B. Work on committing some Scriptures to memory, which can help you in times of temptation. (See Psalm 119:11, 2 Timothy 3:15, Proverbs 30:5,Matthew 4:4)
3. DO make it a priority to be faithful in attending the house of God. (See Hebrews 10:23-26, Psalm 122:1)
4. DO be submitted to the man of God in your life, aka your pastor. He is watching out for you. (See Hebrews 13:17, Jeremiah 3:15)
5. DO fast on a regular basis. (Isaiah 58:6). It’s a way of saying no to your flesh, and when it’s coupled with prayer, it will help you draw closer to God. If you have a physical condition that prevents you from fasting, consider fasting an activity you enjoy (electronic games, Internet, going to WalMart, etc.) and spending that time in prayer.
1. DON’T put yourself into a place or a position where you know you could be tempted. This is also known as “not making provision for the flesh.” (For example: If you have struggled in the past with drinking alcohol, don’t go to a bar if you want some 7UP.)Even if you stay full of the Holy Ghost, remember this. Your flesh is weaker than you think!( See Romans 8:13, 13:14, Matthew 26:41)
2. DON’T be lazy or allow yourself too much idle time. (See Proverbs 18:15) You’ve probably heard the saying, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground.” It’s true. Stay busy with the things of God and working for His kingdom, and you will be less likely to sin.(See also Ecclesiastes 10:18, Proverbs 12:24, Hebrews 6:12)
3. DON’T let your close friends be those who are not striving to live a godly lifestyle. They can lead you astray. (See I Corinthians 15:33, Exodus 23:2, James 4:4)
These recommendations, if followed, will aid you in your endeavors to avoid sin. Choosing not to follow the above instructions can result in a serious heart condition which would require major surgery that is costly. If this be the case, you would be referred to Dr. Pounda Cure, but it is strongly urged that you heed the advice of Dr. Ounce O. Prevenshun.
Amiga mía, I am so glad that God allowed our paths to cross. You have been a listening ear, a voice of encouragement, someone to laugh with and everything that I needed in a friend. I am excited to see God continuing to open doors for you as you prepare to return to Perú. The following poem I first heard many years ago at a ladies retreat. I dedicate it to you. Thank you for being a wonderful friend!
There’s a comforting thought at the close of the day,
When I’m weary, lonely and sad,
That catches hold of my disconsolate heart,
And bids it be merry and glad,
It gets in my soul and drives out my cares,
And finally thrills through and through,
It is just a sweet memory that chants a refrain,
“I’m glad I touched shoulders with you”.
Did you know you were brave, did you know you were strong?
Did you know there was one leaning hard?
Did you know that I waited and listened and prayed,
And was cheered by your simplest word?
Did you know that I longed for that smile on your face,
For the sound of your voice ringing true?
Did you know I grew stronger and better because
I had merely touched shoulders with you?
I am glad that I live, that I battle and strive,
For the place that I know I must fill,
I am thankful for sorrows, I’ll meet with a grin,
What fortune may send good or ill,
I may not have wealth, I may not be great,
But I know I shall always be true …
For I have in my life that courage you gave,
When once, I rubbed shoulders with you.
Happy Birthday to my middle brother, Bob! It’s hard to believe that my younger brother is 49. In honor of your birthday and for memories sake, I want to share the article you wrote many years ago about our childhood time in the chicken coop. Although I’ve read this many times, it never ceases to bring tears to my eyes. I thank God for our family!
The Bug Jar
When I was a kid, not yet old enough to be enrolled in any science classes, I used to conduct experiments of my own. One of my favorites was the Bug Jar Experiment. It consisted of three states: In Stage One, I would obtain an empty mayonnaise jar and collect as many different kinds of bugs I could find-spiders, worms, ladybugs, tiny red and giant black ants, bees, a centipede (if I was lucky), an occasional wasp, those roly-poly bugs that no one knew the real name for, crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, anything that creeped, crawled or disgusted my sisters was fair game. In Stage Two, I would shake the jar vigorously. In Stage Three, my favorite, I would watch delightedly as the imprisoned insects bit, stung and generally destroyed each other. Ironically (and justly, I suppose), when I got to be a bit older, the tables turned, and I experienced the bug jar for myself.
In the fall of 1974, my family had to give up a spacious, three-bedroom home with a big backyard to move into a chicken coop turned recreation room, but to us Home. The edifice boasted a 15 x 30 foot span; no bigger than our former living room; a mere bug jar, if you will. We went into the venture expecting the worst. Rather than tearing the family apart, however, being thrown into very close quarters under less than ideal conditions actually strengthened our relationships.
We called our new abode “the closet”, because to us, it seemed just about the size of a rich person’s wardrobe. There was no room for complaining though (literally!). After all, it was far from the gang-ridden neighborhood we had left behind; it was close to good schools; it was clean, it was much easier on my Mom’s filing clerk salary, and it came furnished with the best hand-me-down furniture that pity could buy. So Mom told the six of us kids to make the best of it. We were a Brady Bunch of sorts, with three girls and three boys ranging in age from five to fifteen, but no Alice to do the housework. Also, we came in two generations: The “big kids” were each born a year apart, and after a gap of five years came us “babies”, also born one year apart.
Peeking through the battered screen door after we had settled in, our curious neighbors beheld a new concept in interior design: An afghan-covered couch next to the stove, an army cot bordered by our giant, prehistoric, dust-laden television set, a dining table surrounded by bunk beds. You see, “the closet” had no rooms. A tiny bathroom in the northwest corner, with a carpeted sliding door, provided the only privacy in the place.
This was new to us, and at first, we absorbed our living arrangements haltingly and delicately, like couples in a pre-arranged marriage. Inevitably though, the fighting began. Some of the most heated battles were waged over bathroom privileges. Finally, we came up with a “calling” system to schedule bath times. Cries of “First bath!” “Second bath!” “Third bath!” and so on were commonly shouted out in the waking hours, but only led to more arguments as calls were contested and challenged later.
Once while Mom was “using the facilities”, Johnny and I broke into a wrestling match right outside the bathroom door. One thing led to another, and at the height of our struggle, we lost our balance, slammed into the bathroom door, knocked it off its hinges, and fell clinging to each other and the door onto the bathroom floor. Mom screamed, powerless to chase us from her seated position, while we scrambled to fix the door and scurry away.
More often though, we were forced to depend on each other, to work together to overcome obstacles imposed upon us by our lack. Laundry and kitchen duties had to be split and shared by all. Providing enough food for six hungry, growing children was a constant struggle for my mom. I remember times when ketchup packets and a hunk of government-issued cheese were the only things left in the fridge. Whether we liked it or not, we had to share. Though it was a small area, our home was heated by an aging, rusted space heater, located near the door. On cold wintry mornings before school, while waiting for the bathroom to free up, the rest of us huddled together in front of the heater, wrapped in blankets, shivering in anticipation of the metallic clicking sound that signaled the release of a fresh blast of hot air. That nondescript old heater became a great equalizer, bringing us together, if momentarily, to share warmth and exchange conversation at the start of the day.
Because we had no rooms of our own, we had no secrets; what one went through, we all experienced. One dark night, returning home from work, Tom unknowingly rolled over a skunk with his bike. When he got home, we immediately smelled the stench, except Tom, of course. Strangely enough, the skunk encounter provided a bonding experience as we each offered creative, often ridiculous solutions for getting rid of the smell.
Then there was Mike Mester, a gangling youth from a neighboring community, who spotted my oldest sister Karen at a roller rink and immediately fell for her. Not knowing her name or anything about her, he somehow tracked her down to our humble dwelling place. He knocked on the front door; my mom answered. He inquired after this mystery girl he had met at the roller rink. Immediately, five more heads appeared at the door, checking out the tall stranger, while one head disappeared quickly into the bathroom hiding. Mike instantly formed the impression that this was going to be a package deal, and he was right. We couldn’t help but cheer and jeer from the sidelines as Mike and Karen embarked upon each new phase of their sometimes stormy but long-lasting relationship.
A flood of memories stirs in me when I think back to those bug jar days. I remember us “babies” clinging to each other in the bottom bunk in fear and joy, begging Tom in the top bunk to be the “werewolf” again. I remember Carol sharing with us her dark and searching poetry and inspiring me to try some of my own. I remember the generational gap closing as Tom treated his kid brothers to pizza and bowling or Karen and Carol fixed Annie’s hair. And why is it I recall the neighbor kids, with their nice houses and families of their own, always wanting to spend the night at our place?
We lived there for almost 12-1/2 years. And a strange thing began to happen as we made the best of it in the “closet”. We went from being siblings and a single parent, thrown and shaken together, to being friends; lifelong friends that time, distance and circumstances have not separated.
I have an unusual hobby that I engage in every so often. Every time I attend a church conference, I always try to take at least one of the messages I hear and put the essence of it into poetic form. One of the messages that was preached by Elder Frazier was entitled “But Amnon Had A Friend”. It was a warning to avoid the downfall of Amnon, which was confiding in and listening to the bad, ungodly advice given by his friend, Jonadab. I am thankful for this timely message for young people.(and us older folks too)We really need to be careful about the friendships we have, because if they are not right, we could lose out with God and have our lives become a disaster. To read about what happened to Amnon in 2 Samuel 13, click here.
Here is my poem. This form of poetry is called a quatern.
“But Amnon had a friend”
To whom he did attend
But what Jonadab did advise
Led to Amnon’s sad demise.
These words we cannot amend
“But Amnon had a friend”
May their message be your guide
Take care in whom you confide.
The struggle that raged in his heart
He could have taken to God at the start
“But Amnon had a friend”
Whose counsel led to a tragic end.
When temptation, your mind comes to haunt
Let God be your true confidant
Lest the same error make you descend
“But Amnon had a friend.