SOME THINGS ARE BETTER LEFT UNSAID

SOME THINGS ARE BETTER LEFT UNSAID

You know, when you get into a political or religious discussion, and you start to realize that no one is going to be changing his mind, and you say something, and they say something, and someone gets mad….

I’m not talking about that.

This is about something else…something completely different…something most people would say, “Why are you even telling this?”

It started on Mother’s Day.

I was almost late walking into the sanctuary at church. Wendy was already seated in the aisle with her mom, her dad, and her brother.

The church’s tradition is to put a slip of paper in the bulletin for everyone to write a mother’s name who is present that day.

Since I was almost late, all the bulletins were gone, and I didn’t get a slip.

Wendy didn’t have anyone voting for her…she looked really sad.

“I don’t have a slip,” I said…she looked really sad.

A mother behind me gave me a slip.

I rushed it to the front…just in time.

We never win anyway…but she at least had her name in the basket.

Wendy won a 25.00 gift certificate to Potpourri House in Tyler.

A couple of weeks later, we were spending the afternoon with Zoë, and Wendy said, “Let’s go to Potpourri House so I can get something with my prize.”

I told Zoë the story.

**”We never win anything, but we finally won a drawing!”**

Wendy found a pretty little ceramic bread dish that said, “Butter me up,” with a knife that said, “I’m on a roll.”It would be perfect for our new obsession of toasted baguettes with olive oil, Texas made balsamic vinegar, basil, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella.

A few days later, I was washing dishes (new dishwasher wasn’t installed yet) and I came across our butter dish in the sink.

Now, there was nothing particularly beautiful about this butter dish, but we had looked for a long time before we found one like it. It held two sticks of butter and had a knob on top to lift the cover off.

**”I hope we never break this butter dish. We had a heck of a time finding it,”** I said.

That night, I heard, “Oh! No!” and the sound of glass hitting glass.

I turned. The cover of the butter dish, the one with the knob, had slipped out of Wendy’s fingers and broken the bottom of the dish, then bounced over to break the end handle off the new ceramic bread platter.

Wendy told me later that she had had a bad feeling when I said something about it that morning.

Now, I’m not saying anything about superstitions like actors saying “break a leg,” or anything of significant importance about this incident.

Our lives didn’t change, our day wasn’t ruined because of this accident.

But it is sort of weird that I said what I said at that time, don’t you think?

This is just an insignificant event in a day to day life.

So, why even mention it?

Well, I’ve been thinking about this all week, and today it reminded me of something important.

We had an automobile accident in 2002 that took the earthly life of our daughter Chelsey, Zoë’s mom.

It was sudden, and tragic.

Our lives, our plans, our futures were shattered in a moment.

But, in the week before that day, Chelsey had had a sense that she was to visit her great grandparents, her cousins, her aunt and uncle, all the people who lived on the plot of land where she lived, but whom she had been too busy to see for a while.

She was drawn to them, pulled by some unseen force, to reconnect.

So she took a couple of days and just went to each house and sat and talked and visited.

They laughed and told stories, just enjoying the connection they had;

The bond of a close family.

No one knew that this would be their last visit.

But they all remembered these visits.

They all cherished this memory.

This inner Voice, these little prompts, that make us think something, or say something, or do something…

We never realize how important those little moments may turn out to be.

“For I know the plans I have for you….”

Jeremiah 29:11

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WHY DO THE NATIONS RAGE?

WHY DO THE NATIONS RAGE?

Last week, I was involved in a pretty heated Facebook conversation.

It was important to me to be able to listen to both sides, and to be respectful of the differing viewpoints.

It wasn’t pleasant. Some people became very angry.

My stomach kind of clenched.

This morning, Zoë and Evan joined the church that they have been attending for some time now. She wanted us to be there.

The preacher preached a message on the work of the Holy Spirit.

1. To make us more like Jesus.

2. To give us gifts to use for God.

3. To give us power above our weaknesses.

Do you ever get up in the morning and feel the rage moving in?

Do you ever think, “How can they not see how wrong that is?”

And you kinda seethe throughout the day?

Me, too.

So, I was thinking about how the Holy Spirit has worked in my life.

Before 1978, I don’t think I was ever really convinced to change my mind about anything.

Really, if my mind was made up, it pretty much stayed made up.

The only one who ever changed my mind was…

Yep. Him. The Holy Spirit.

He showed me who I was…and I wasn’t the good guy I thought I was.

He changed me. Suddenly. Slowly.

Been changing me for years.

Yeah, I’m still changing, moving closer to the goal all the time…still a long, long way to go.

You know what I realized while that preacher was talking today?

I haven’t ever changed anyone’s mind either.

Even if I could, what would be the point?

I have no power in myself to give them the gifts they need to succeed, nor the power to empower them.

They need the Holy Spirit just like I did.

Maybe, the best thing I can do is point to Him.

God. The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.

You don’t really like being angry all the time, do you?

There is a peace that comes, when you come to the end of your strength, and find that there is One that can hold you up, get you through, and give you everything you need…

To be where you were always meant to be…

A Son, or Daughter of the One True Living God.

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“THAT WORD YOU KEEP USING.”

June 4, 2015

“THAT WORD YOU USE. I DO NOT THINK IT MEANS WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS.”

Ben Carson was put on a hate list for being a “homophobe” and saying “hate speech” about homosexuals.

Maybe the word “hate” doesn’t mean what it used to.

When I was young, hating someone meant that you had Ill will toward them, that you would even be glad if something bad happened to them.

On the other side, though, if you cared what became of someone, even dedicated yourself to helping them prosper in some way, well, that was considered loving.

I have a few questions about that.

If a sincere Christian really believes that certain actions could harm an individual, wouldn’t it be loving to try to warn the individual?

Premarital sex is legal, but I think it is wrong, and destructive. Is it hateful for me to express that viewpoint?

Gambling, alcohol consumption, adultery, pornography, all are legal in most respects, but I believe them all to contribute to an unfortunate lifestyle. My opinion. Is it hateful to express it?

Most born again Christians believe that they were rescued from a life of destruction and brought into a life of Joy, peace, and love that they had never before experienced. The God that they love tells them to share this good news with the whole world. If we have found a treasure, is it hateful to try to share that treasure with you?

Journal • Wednesday, Jun 24, 2015, 11:48 AM CDT • 711 King Oliver Rd, Scroggins, TX, United States • 88°F Sunny

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THINKING ABOUT THINKING

THINKING ABOUT THINKING

Do you ever do this…just sit and think about things?

How does this even work? Right now, thoughts are cascading through my mind, so fast, I can’t even figure out how to get them down into words.

It’s Saturday morning for me, as I think, but, you at this time have a whole different series of thoughts going through your head.

But, if I have any skill, I can make you think, at the time you read this, along the same lines that I am thinking right now.

I could try to stir you in some emotional way, to bypass your reason and your rational thought, and try to manipulate some physical chemical reaction to anger you, or make you laugh, or make you feel sorrow…just to make you be on my side.

It happens all the time.

But thinking … that is a decision you make…to go past the emotional response, to look around the corner, to look into the background, to find the truth, to find the lies, to see the deception.

Now, here’s what I’m thinking about.

I actually believe the Bible to be the Word of God.

There is a whole lot of it that I don’t understand…a lot!

But, there is something in the first book of the Bible that always grabs me…the Image of God.

I don’t go for all that billions and billions of years, gradual tiny evolutionary changes to finally evolve to some miraculous point we are at right now where we can actually sit and think about things, and use our minds to manipulate people into agreeing with us.

The Image of God…the ability to create, to feel, to reason, to see what is unseen, to foresee, to plan, to change, to improve, to destroy…

To think.

I can see a situation, read a story, and be swept up in an emotional reaction…or, I can take some time to consider, to think about things that haven’t been said, that may be working in the background, to think about things that may result if a certain course of action is followed, pursue, through my imagination, (another Image of God thing) an eventual outcome that may or may not result from this present course.

This Image of God…it can go different ways…with God, or against God…His way, or my way.

It is quite easy to see the results today.

His way…or my way.

Think about it.

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PRETEND MOM

Wendy and I had to go to Tyler to pick up a new dishwasher.

Wendy called Zoe after she was off work, and they talked on the phone for a little more than an hour, telling of stories of God’s miracles at the church they are about to join, the coming 4th of July vacation, the last weekend trip to Waco to try out her new kayak, more stories of her new church.

“Is Evan working late?” Wendy asked. “Why don’t you eat dinner with us?”

“Oh, I’m cooking tonight. He get’s off at 8:00. But, I’ll meet you and talk for a while.”

You know what I was thinking…you have been talking for a while.

But, she didn’t want to go to a restaurant, so she just went to the next errand with us.

I was so hungry, and, in a few more minutes, the restaurants were gonna be crowded.

We talked her into going to Panda Express, just to talk while we ate.“Okay, but just for a little while. I’m cooking tonight.”

We were there for around two hours.

Zoe had so much to tell. Her eyes sparkled, moving back and forth between Wendy and me, filling us in on the life she is living in Tyler.

At 9:00, after a little more conversation in the parking lot, she headed home.

She didn’t cook dinner…Texas Roadhouse did.

One of my favorite stories she told:

She had just told us how someone had thought two of her little cousins, Harper and Carter, were her daughters when she had taken them to the zoo and to Starbucks.

“I had loaded up this purse with changes of clothes, and extra diaper, hand sanitizer, snacks…everything that I would possible maybe need for them. I even hung water bottles on the strap. It was so heavy.

“So, when they needed to go to the bathroom, I went to Starbucks, and the three of us crowded into the bathroom. There was a line forming after us. So, I locked the door, and Harper started taking off all her clothes.

‘Harper, put your clothes back on.’ I said.

‘Zoe, pull up my pants,’ Carter said.

“No one was talking softly.

“I realized that all these words were being heard by those waiting in line.

“We walked out, and someone smiled and said, ‘I know, I have kids, too.’

“I nodded, sort of smiled, and didn’t correct her.

“One time someone thought Addi was my kid.

“A few years ago, when I was in the first apartment at Bullard Crossing, Addi (her cousin, Jenny’s daughter, probably 8 at the time) was spending the day with me.

“I took her to McAllister’s, way before Evan was working there.

“Anyway, we ordered, and I got out my debit card, and it was rejected.

‘No, that’s not possible, there’s plenty of money in there. I checked. there’s plenty of money.’

“They ran it again. Rejected.

“I only had five dollars.

“They looked at me, in pity, and said, ‘That’s okay, we’ve already got it started. You can have it for free.’

“I tried to argue, ‘ I don’t know what’s going on…I have the money…’

“They smiled and said, ‘ That’s okay…things happen.’

“That was the day I called you, Pappy and asked what was going on…you found out that there was some suspicious activity on my card and the bank’s fraud center froze the account.

“I told Addi, ‘You are NEVER to tell your mom about this…NEVER.’

“There was a carnival in the mall parking lot, so I told Addi, ‘I have five dollars…only five dollars. You can ride one ride.’

“She picked the one that was like swings, they go round and round and swing you out wide.

“I got her a ticket, she went in and I was helping her pick a swing.

‘Now, you be in this one, on the outside so I can see you every time you come around. Don’t move to a different one, I have to be able to see you.’

“The Carnie guy was listening, and he said, ‘Why don’t you take that swing next to her?’

‘Oh, no. I only have enough money for one ride.’

‘Oh, that’s okay. I know what it’s like. I have kids, too.’

“I didn’t correct him…I thanked him, forced a smile.

“I DID NOT WANT TO RIDE THAT RIDE!

“When it started to swing us out wide, we were really, really high, and, you know how that parking lot has a high wall that drops down to the Starbucks parking lot? I was swinging out over that, and it seemed even higher, and I knew that my swing was gonna break off, I would fall to my death, and leave Addi all alone.

“We survived.

‘DON’T TELL YOUR MOM ANY OF THIS!’ I told Addi one more time.”

I asked Zoe if I could share this story…She hesitated…It’s really a good story I tell her..I’m sure Addi kept that promise…well, maybe…but, she is Jenny’s kid…Jenny tells everything.

Oh, Jenny will never see this.

Oh, yeah, Wendy and I both got fortunes from the fortune cookies about gratitude.

True, again.

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MY FIRST FATHER’S DAY

MY FIRST FATHER’S DAY

June 17, 1973

Wendy was a 19 year old woman.

I was a 21 year old boy.

The doctor had said, probably the end of June or early July.

We had the final two names picked out; Ethan Tyler or Chelsey Morgen.

But, today, Wendy’s parents were in Houston to see us.

We couldn’t get to Garland for Father’s Day this year, so they came to us.

I looked forward to the visit, because they usually paid for stuff; meals, gas…Money was tight at our end.

Wendy’s mom hadn’t really warmed up to me yet…but we were providing the first grandchild.

The warming wouldn’t come for another few years.

Wendy’s dad, Blair had served on the Battleship Texas the last year of World War II, so we went to San Jacinto to see the monument, the battleground, and the historic battleship.

We walked that day…a lot!

This was my first experience of hearing Blair telling stories from his past.

Stories of joining the navy, being absent over leave when his friend , Odom, came down with the mumps while they were on leave. He just couldn’t stand the thought of going back alone.

So, when he went back, he was in his commanding officer’s office.

“…there are two outcomes of this I can see,” he was telling the young (not quite 18) sailor. “We can put you in the brig…or…we can put you on the Battleship Texas.”

Blair, as calmly and contritely as he could, his heart racing with the prospect, “Sir, I guess I will take the Texas!”

I was hooked on the stories.

Wendy was pretty weary by the time we got back to Houston. We made a stop at Woolco (department store similar to Walmart) before they packed up to go back to Garland.

Wendy and her mom went one way.

Blair and I went to the tools.

He was always building stuff, fixing stuff, so we were looking at an electric drill, and an electric circular saw.

I was sure he already had these at home, but I figured he just needed an upgrade.

We went back to the apartment, and Blair handed me the bag.

“Happy Father’s Day, Randy,” he grinned.

Seriously? I had never owned a power tool of my own.

I couldn’t believe it.

I hugged them both as they left.

Wendy’s legs were swollen from all the walking.

June 18, 1973

Wendy woke up early with “labor pains.”

The doctor said that they were probably false labor, so we didn’t go in.

They did not go away. We called him back, he said to go on in to Hermann

Hospital.

I had practiced for this…I knew the route… I knew that if you drove down Main St at 26 mph you could hit every light green.

“Ooohhh, another one,” Wendy cried, “HURRY UP! WHY ARE YOU DRIVING SO SLOW!!!!!?”

I tried to calmly explain my theory but she had no ears to hear. I increased my speed.

We arrived at the hospital, got checked in around 1:00.

We had gone through the Lamaze training, so I was supposed to be able to be with Wendy through the whole delivery.

The sent me back to the waiting room around 7:00.

Every show on tv that night had a woman giving birth, in extreme pain.

When they came to get me at a little after 9:00, the nurse led me down a hall, outside the nursery. I stopped, looking in the window, as a nurse walked toward me carrying a little naked baby with reddish hair, sticking straight out from its head.

I looked, saw the place, and mouthed, “Girl?”

The nurse smiled and nodded, and I thought, “So, Chelsey Morgen!”

That was a really good day!

I was still five years away from recognizing the One I couldn’t hear who was telling me in a language I didn’t yet know, “I know the plans I have for you…”

I called Wendy’s parents, and my parents, and they all drove back to Houston to see this first grandchild, the amazing Chelsey Morgen Epps!

I had so much to learn.

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DAD

DAD

He taught me so much without trying to teach me.

We played catch in the back yard,

Ping-pong in the garage,

Golf in Mesquite and Dallas,

Croquet at his parents’ house

Building hand eye coordination in me from an early age.

He taught me to play hard, and to play fair.

To try to win, but to lose with grace.

He would take me to work with him in the summer, let me help stock shelves, clean up the aisles, and go on coffee breaks with him and his friends.

I learned to work hard, work fast, and show up when I was supposed to.

I never knew my dad to call in sick.

He was always involved in his church.

We didn’t skip church on Sunday. We didn’t talk about it. We just went.

Dad never seemed to have enemies.

He liked to joke with people.

Once I almost got into a fight on my way home from baseball practice when two older guys pulled up beside my bike on a motorcycle and made me fall over. I was mad enough to fight, and faced off with one of them in the middle of the street.

When he suggested we move out of the street, I think I came to my senses, got back on my bicycle and raced home with them right behind me. I cut across yards, jumped off my bike before it stopped and ran into the house.

When Dad got home, I told him. He took me over to one boy’s house and told his mom as the boy stood there in the doorway beside her.

The two boys never bothered me again.

He protected me.

When I made some dumb choices as I moved into adulthood, I never felt like he stopped loving me.

There were four of us kids.

I always thought that I was the favorite.

My sister and brothers all believed they were the favorite.

I wish I could tell him all the stuff I never said when he was alive.

I learned so much from him.

I know I’ll see him again.

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