TOO MUCH TO REMEMBER

May 16, 2018

Wendy sent me this in a text at 11:30 this morning.

“Maybe you can bring this home for dinner tonight,” she added. “Gladewater or Mineola?”

“I think Tyler is the closest one. Way far from me.”

I worked until 5:30, googled Jack in the Box and remembered the one in Gilmer.

It would only add about 20 minutes to my trip home.

“Just look at the ad and text me what you want.”

She texted, “Cholula Buttery Jack and Cholula Fries.”

Sounded good to me. Make that two.

Got home, put food on the plates, gulped it all down, and I asked her what she thought.

” I think I really like my cooking!”

Me, too.

“At least you got one free…”

Ooops.

“You got one free, didn’t you?”

Uuhhmmm?

“Are you kidding me, Randy. That was the whole reason I suggested it in the first place. Is you’re brain just not working anymore? You think I was just dying for Jack in the Box hamburgers?”

I thought Cholula Buttery Jack sounded pretty good.

But, my brain got distracted when I had to teach the jack in the box guy how to work the pump pot for the coffee I ordered to drink on the way home.

I think it’s clear, now. One thought at a time. One at a time.

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I MAY HAVE BEEN HASTY IN JUDGMENT

May 14, 2018

Last week, I made a statement about what hearing old rock music from my teen years did to me.

I heard another one today. I always thought it was really, really shallow. But, thinking about it, I may have decided it was genius.

“ADAM! WHY ARE YOU HIDING?”

Eve gripped his arm and hand in fear.
“Stay down,” said Adam, “We can’t let Him see us like this.”

“I said, why are you hiding?”

“ I was afraid, because I was naked.”

“Who told you you were naked?”

They both were hanging their heads, not looking up, focused intently on the dirt in front of them.

“Did you eat from the tree I told you not to eat from?”

“Well…the woman you gave me…”

Eve jerked her hand away. Adam could see her glaring at him out of the corner of his eye.

She kept glaring at Adam. “It was the serpent…”

“Eve, where are you? Wait!”

Adam was running after her, leaving the garden.

“How could you do that? You threw me under the bus!” she called back, over her shoulder.

“What? What are you saying? I don’t understand! What is a bus?”

“I don’t know. It’s just an expression! Just leave me alone.”

Adam watched her walk into a cave.

He walked, alone into the woods.

“Eve…Eve…are you in here?”
Adam was sobbing.

“I’m here. What?”

“ Back there…in the …in uh gadda…when we were…in uh gaddavida…”

“Adam! Pull yourself together. I can’t understand a word your saying! Take a breath and talk to me…like a man!”

Adam sat down…took a deep breath…and another…”Eve, you are bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh…you are mine…I am yours…”

“And, I wrote you a song.”

“What?”

“I wrote you a song. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.”

“Okay. Sing my song. What’s that?”

“A zither. I made it to play music…for your song.”

And he started to sing…

“In the garden of eden, honey
Don’t you know that I’m lovin’ you
In the garden of eden, baby
Don’t you know that I’ll always be true

Oh, won’t you come with me
And take my hand
Oh, won’t you come with me
And walk this land
Please take my hand”

Then Adam put down his zither, picked up two limbs from the ground, and started beating out a rhythm…on trees, on rocks, on stumps…for a long time…a long, long time…

Then he picked up his zither, and sang the two verses again…
For emphasis.

He looked at Eve, smiling kinda sheepishly.

“What was that?” She asked.

“Your song!”

“No, the part in the middle.”

“Oh, that was the best part, the drum solo…” He saw her begin to frown… “I don’t mean the best part…the best part was the “lovin’ you” part…then the drum solo.”

She smiled, took his hand, looked into his eyes, and said, “I like it. Could I change one thing?”

Adam handed her the skin with the song on it.

She made the changes, handed it back.

“In a gadda da vida? No one will know what that means?”

“It’s my song. You wrote it for me. I’ll know. They’ll just have to figure it out.”

“I love you, Eve. You look real pretty in that leather dress.”

“Thank you, Adam. It’s a Designer original.”

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LUNCH WITH MOTHERS ( and others)

May 13, 2017

Family mother’s day lunch starts the same as most family dinners.
We find a spot in the kitchen for all the stuff we’ve prepared, make a circle in the den, and the designated prayer (Randy) prays. Thanks for family…food…good relationship…blessings on our lives…in Jesus ‘ name, Amen.

Everyone moves toward the kitchen.

Designated prayer says, “Wait! It’s mother’s day! I forgot to mention mother’s day! Everyone come back.”

No one comes back.

Dishes filled, places found, good food.

Then the stories begin.

The Drowning. (Harper)

The three year old comes into the room.
“When it’s hot, we’re going to the beach. Then I won’t be scared because of the water and sand. It’s not a swimming pool. When I was a baby, I “drowned” when someone pushed me under the water in the swimming pool.”

Someone at the table says, “I
” drowned” too, when I was little….”
Not her story. She walked off.

Haircut. (Craig)

“I stopped to get a haircut the other day.
The girl starts asking questions. ‘So, what brings you here in the middle of the work day?’
‘I just want a haircut.’
‘Must be sump’n going on.’
‘I just want a haircut.'”
Someone at the table says, “She may have really needed someone to talk to.”
“Not to me. I just wanted a haircut. I paid her for a haircut.”

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Jayci)

The fourteen year old went to D.C. with her family. She told us how the guard at the Tomb of the unknown soldier would march back and forth, with the exact number of steps each time.
There were some people there, talking, being disrespectful.
You’re not supposed to talk at the tomb.
The soldier stopped his march, turned toward the people, and, with carefully scripted words, rebuked the disrespectful talkers.
“That was my favorite part of everything we saw!” said the fourteen year old.

The Troubled Actor (Adam)

An award was given to our family cop for saving a life.
It seems, an actor, having trouble coping with life, had fallen into drugs, moved in with his mom, was feeling paranoid, and was threatening to jump from the fourth floor balcony of the apartment.
“We were trying to talk him down, but weren’t having much luck. The officer downstairs hollered and got his attention, distracted him, just long enough for us to grab him.”
Life saved, for now.

Mean Patient in Doctor’s Office (Zoë)

The new receptionist got broken in fast with customer relations. He came in angry, cursing her, the other receptionists, the nurses.
“He threw some papers at me, used the F-word a couple of times, said he wanted to talk to a nurse, but ‘not that SOB. He’s a liar.’ Except, he didn’t use the abbreviation. I was polite and offered to go back and see if there was someone to help him. But I was shaking so much. The others said he is always like that.”

Dead Bunnies (Kristin)

It started when she found a dead baby bunny in the yard. Then, she found one in the house. The two dogs pretended they had no idea how that got there.
No more freedom in the back yard. From now on, leash only.
Then she decided to use the shock collar, and just watch.
“I looked out the window, and he had a bunny in his mouth. I pushed the button, the bunny dropped, the dog retreated, and I ran out. The bunny was still alive, so, I found the nest, put it back in, put up a barrier to keep out the dogs. I guess it worked. They are gone now. I do not like dead bunnies in my house.”

The Confrontation (Jenny)

It was the end of a Parks and Rec fourth grade basketball game.
“We had lost, 35-4. Our girls tried hard, but they were all new. The other team was like professionals. So, I was talking to my team right after the game.
‘Coach. COACH! You need to line up your team so we can shake hands and go!’
‘Are you, a fourth grader, trying to tell me, an adult, what to do with my team?'”
As the mother/coach came out of the stands, the confrontation began.
The storyteller’s eyes were bright, and distant, as the scene replayed itself in her mind…
“Oh, you are one of those…Wait, are you recording this? Why are you recording this?”
Misunderstandings abound. We, too, were seeing the stories with each line.
” ‘Take it outside? What are we going to do? Fight?’ She was a head taller, and strong. I don’t know if I was more angry, or scared. But I knew, if we went outside, I was dead.”
We couldn’t stop listening. The color, the descriptions…
“I was so excited, I probably looked like a crazy peacock, jumping up and down, flapping its wings.” (We got a demonstration.)
“After shaking hands, she accused me of “a racist handshake. ‘Racist handshake? What is a racist handshake? That’s not a thing. Is it? Is that a thing?”
We were all laughing, living the story with her.
Her fourteen year old stepped in defense of her mother.
“Are you going to hit me? Go ahead, hit me!”
“Are you going to hit a fourteen year old?”
We were all leaning forward in anticipation.
The story continued…
“Jesus? Are we talking about Jesus, now? Let’s talk about Jesus! I LOVE JESUS!”
No confrontation is complete unless the police come.
The police came.
She told her story first, then the confrontater told hers, showed her video, and left quietly.
“You’re free to go, Ma’am.”
“Did she really show you the video?”
“Yes, Ma’am, she did.” He smiled sheepishly. “You are free to go.”

The Bullies (Jayci)

Imbedded into the life of the fourteen year old was a story of middle school mean girls, cyber bullying, betrayal, and intimidation. She had not wanted to tell why she wasn’t playing soccer next year, and left the room. She came back a little later, and she told her story. But, where it took a turn, and rose above the typical was when she took out her phone, scrolled through some messages and read us her response. She told her of her faith in Jesus, she offered her friendship, and forgiveness to her tormentor.
The angels were singing.

The old storyteller, 90 in less than two months, was sitting off to the side with his cane, a slight smile on his face, an occasional comment coming from his mouth.
He had been planting seeds of storytelling into these minds for all their lives.
He had learned the perfect balance of when to speak and when to listen.
Today.
Today, he didn’t tell any stories.
Not today.
Today he enjoyed the fruit of his harvest.

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STORIES FROM THE STORYTELLER (Part 2)

May 13, 2018

The rocking chair porch at a Cracker Barrel

THE OLD TAYLOR PLACE

“Mr. and Mrs. Taylor lived on 125 acres, about 8 miles from the old Sabine school outside of Lindale. Daddy had done quite a bit of work for them through the years, and after Mr. Taylor died, Mrs. Taylor offered the place to him to farm on the halves (share cropper). He jumped at the offer, and we loaded our stuff into a wagon and moved in when I was around three or four.
People ask me how I can remember so much of this stuff. I guess it’s because, we were kinda far from town, not any kids close by, and everything I knew was what was going on where I was.
Remember, no television. Heck, we didn’t even have electricity at the old Taylor place.
My sisters were all older than me…didn’t have much to do with me.
So my life was walking with, talking to, watching everything my daddy did.
He didn’t talk much around people. But he talked to me.
And I listened.
You know, I can still see the rocks on that red Sabine sand.”

“It’s just like you’re watching a movie in your head, isn’t it?” I am amazed at how much he remembers.

“Yeah, I guess it is. A movie.
Hey, Randy, did I ever tell you about my teacher at the Sabine school?
Miss Irramae Braziel. She taught the first three grades. She was always telling us about the evils of whiskey.
One day me and a couple of my friends were getting a bicycle pump out of Miss Irramae’s trunk to air up a volleyball. Someone found a bottle of whiskey in the trunk.
We wondered if her husband might have put it there, and we didn’t want to say anything in case she would get upset. So we kinda hid it in some bushes off the schoolyard.
A little later, one of the guys told her what we had found and that we knew it was bad so we got rid of it.
A couple of the guys were out there one day, sipping at that whiskey, and Miss Irramae saw them through the window, walked out into the school yard, quietly spoke a few words, held out her hand, and they handed her the bottle.
She never said another word about it.”

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STORIES FROM THE STORYTELLER

May 13, 2018

The rocking chair porch at a Cracker Barrel

I let Wendy and her parents out at the front door and drove off to find a parking place. Lunchtime at Cracker Barrel on Sunday and on Mother’s Day; probably the absolute busiest day of the year.

“It’ll be about forty minutes,” Wendy said as I walked up.

There were three rocking chairs together, so the three of them sat down.

“Oh, Blair,” said MaryJane, “stand up and I’ll fix it.”

I looked up, and she was trying to reconnect his suspenders to the back of his pants.
She was laughing quietly, probably, partly because it was kinda funny, and partly out of nervous embarrassment, because there was an audience. (You know how the chairs are lined up on both sides of the porch, facing each other.)

Blair sat back down, and, since there were no more chairs close by, I just took my place standing behind his chair. I planned on hearing some stories during the wait.

Blair snorted, and said “Look at this!”

I looked. The suspenders had popped loose again, and the end was resting on top of his head. He chuckled, and looked at the young man across the way, who was watching the drama unfold.

“You didn’t know Cracker Barrel provided comedians, did you?” he said, as if he had planned the whole show.

The young man laughed, and gave me his chair.

I sat down and asked, “So, when you were growing up, did y’all ever have horse races?”

“Oh, yeah! A lot of times.” I could see his eyes focusing on the film playing in his head. “A bunch of guys would get together, usually at our place…”

“The Old Taylor Place?”

He always chuckles when I say that. I can’t tell you how many of his stories took place at the Old Taylor Place.

“It was usually on weekends. Not everybody had horses that they could use that way, but it wasn’t unusual.”

I asked, “What about you? Did y’all have just one horse, or were there more?”

“Well, we usually had a horse around, but Daddy would train ‘em, and sell ‘em, so we didn’t usually have a horse for very long…unless he really liked the horse. Once, he walked to Tyler to pick up three horses for some neighbors.”

Blair’s dad was a blacksmith (one of many skills, including farmer, horse doctor, well-digger, town mover, freight liner, and other stories for another time ) and he was able to provide people with horses.

“So he got to Tyler for the three horses. Quite a walk from Lindale. Two of the horses were 8.00 apiece. The third was 4.00, because it had a bad scar on its leg. It was a red sorrel, and Daddy decided to keep it for himself. He saw something valuable in that horse. A lot of folks wouldn’t want a horse that had been injured . Thought it might come back to be a problem.
Anyway, Daddy threw a hundred pound bag of feed on the red horse’s back.
‘ What are ya doing, Doc?’ the men asked him.
When he told ‘em he planned on riding it back to Lindale, they laughed and laughed.
‘You gonna break a horse with a feed bag?’ they asked, laughing and shaking their heads.
Daddy, didn’t ever say a lot, but he just started leading that horse around with the sack of feed on its back, kinda whispering to it, touching it real gentle.
A little while later, he jumped up on that horse’s back and rode it bareback all the way back to Lindale, leading the other two horses.
He broke a lot of horses that way, but he wouldn’t tell anyone how he did it.
They would leave a horse with him to put horseshoes on it, because he might be too busy to do it while they waited.
Horseshoes were .25 apiece. Sometimes people would only get the front shoes, because the front wore out faster than the back.
When they were gone, out came the sack of feed.
When they returned, he would give them a shoed broken horse. He might have charged a little extra for the breaking. I don’t know for sure.
‘Now, Blair, I don’t ever want you to lie about it, but if someone asks you how come I break so many horses and never get hurt, well, just smile and shrug. We don’t need to tell our secret.’
One time, a man came back to get his horse. ‘Doc, you reckon I could ride this horse home without him buckin’ me off?’
Daddy said, ‘Sure, just start out by layin’ across his back.” He looked at me and smiled. We were sharing a moment.
The guy did it. The horse didn’t budge. He sat up, rode him a bit, got off, put a saddle on the horse, and the horse never moved until the stirrups fell against his sides.
I don’t guess Daddy ever told a soul about the feed sack method…except me.”

“Do you think enough time has passed for me to share this little secret?” I asked with a grin.

“ I don’t guess it’ll hurt.”

“Welcome to Cracker Barrel! Wendy, table four four! Wendy, table for four!”

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“BLACK MAGIC WOMAN”

May 10,2018

This is one of the old rock and roll songs playing on the radio as I was cleaning windows at the house of an aging hippie and his wife.

I think, “That could’a been me.”

It was turned up high, so you could hear it from anywhere in the house.

I used to love this stuff.

I have to admit, it was nostalgic.

Ah, “nostalgic.” What a pleasant word.

Okay, maybe “nostalgic” doesn’t describe it that well.

It did bring back memories.

Memories of a time when loud music helped drown out my emptiness and feelings of insecurity, and doubt.

Did I say “insecurity”?

“Turn that up! I love that song!” (I can’t stop this feeling, deep inside of me…)

The old days…when life was simple…live for the moment…don’t worry, be happy…if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with…we can change the world, rearrange the world…imagine there’s no heaven… Hello darkness, my old friend…

That’s what it was…a feeling of darkness.

Not in me…the light has overcome the darkness…

In the house.

The music brought back the memories of life before…life that was dark…life that was empty.

The music that used to excite…it sounds so empty…so desperate…so needy.

But I realized what was wrong…

When the music was playing, I couldn’t hear the voice of the One that I love…

That still, small whisper…

The voice that fills that place inside…

That I tried to fill with noise before…

Until I heard it for the first time…

“You must be born again!”

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41 Years Now…Still Living

May 8, 2018

TWINS FROM A DIFFERENT AGE

I got up early today. So much work to squeeze in.

I forgot what day it was.

A notification popped up on Facebook ; a memory from two years ago.

May 8.

MAY 8, 2018 was today.

My 40th birthday.

(Not that one. That’s in November. The 15th. Just so you know. I’ve had 66 of those.)

But, today was the 40th anniversary of the day everything began to change for me.

As if that wasn’t enough of a reminder, as I rushed off to work, I decided to listen to the audible version of my through the Bible in a year program.

Today’s reading was about when Elijah the prophet had just finished whuppin 450 prophets of Ba’al all by himself, then Queen Jezebel threatened him and he got scared and went into hiding.

There is a whole lot more to that story, but that is not what I am trying to tell you about.

You see, the new testament reading for the day was John 3.

That is the chapter of the Bible that I read 40 years ago the day before the big change.

I read the chapter again, today.

Twice.

Turns out, Nicodemus and I had a lot in common.

He had grown up studying and memorizing and teaching the Word of God.

He tried really, really hard to always keep the law.

He wanted to know how he could get into God’s kingdom.

He had been a teacher to Israel for a long time.

I had been a high school Sunday School teacher for a long time.

Well, this was my second week.

Anyway, I’m sure you see the similarities.

But the thing was, he asked Jesus a question. Jesus answered it.

Nicodemus said, “Huh?”

I read the exchange 40 years ago, and I said, “Huh?” (Just like Nicodemus.)

But, those words were the fire that ignited my soul, changed my heart, made me begin to love the God that I had only believed existed before.

Everything changed.

I bet it did for Nicodemus, too.

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