UNEXPECTED TEARS FROM UNEXPECTED FINDS

While cleaning the bedroom, we found a plastic box behind a chair that had a bunch of baseball caps and three of my old appointment books.

Wendy started to look through them, turning the pages, looking for a certain day.

“Chelsey wrote in these,” she said with a catch in her voice. She stopped at one that said “Fair Day” on two consecutive days, and she gasped.

“No, that wasn’t the day. That is the 2000 book,” I said. I picked up the 2002 book and turned to October, then to the 8th.

There it was.

“I have to write about this,” I said, the words catching in my throat, tears pooling in my eyes.

1986, Fall.

Since I had started cleaning chimneys in 1982, the fall season was always the busiest time.

We had homeschooled Chelsey since the fourth grade. She was 15, and she agreed to go to work with me, to learn how to sweep chimneys.

I would work from the roof, she would work from below.

(She had never been comfortable with ladders, but she wasn’t afraid of hard work.)

I still have a picture in my mind of the first chimney. We had just finished, and she stood proudly with some equipment in her arm as we prepared to load the van and leave.

She was wearing one of my old top hats, her red hair poking out all around, sooty smudges on her face, communing with her freckles, a hint of a smile.

She was a picture of beauty in this father’s eyes.

A few months later, the local newspaper did a personal interest story on this father/daughter chimney sweep team.

The next year, I began to clean windows, too.

Chelsey liked the window cleaning more than the chimneys. She would work inside, and I would work outside.

I paid her by the hour.

When I started paying her a percentage, her speed picked up. I asked her why, and she said, “Daddy, just think about it…it makes sense. If you pay me by the hour, it’s better if it takes longer. But…if you pay me by the job, faster means more money.”

She was smart that way too.

She was so fast, we ran through our year’s repeat business by July.

So, I taught her how to make phone calls from my files to build up our repeat business.

(Yes, I still payed her a percentage…I’m not stupid.)

I still remember one of the first days. She booked me 10 chimneys in one town, one right after the other. At that time it was one of the most profitable days I had ever had.

I called her when I got home to tell her how well she had done. “But…you’ve got to leave me some time for lunch, at least.”

She replied, “Okay, Daddy, but if you’re not workin’ I’m not making any money.” Yeah, she got it, didn’t she?

Zoë came, then Chelsey became a sign language interpreter, and I made her my business manager/dispatcher.

After her work day, she would pick up Zoë from our house, take her home, do mom things, then she would call my customers setting up jobs, filling up the calendar.

But, every year, in October, we would take two days off as a family, go to Dallas, to the State Fair of Texas…Big Tex.

She would call me. “Daddy, what day are we going to the fair?” and she would write “Fair Day” in the calendar.

Every year.

It was even more fun with little Zoë. Chelsey and Wendy would wend their way through the crowds, enjoying the booths, the crafts, the arts, the food, and Zoë and I would follow, my eyes catching things to show her, her delight becoming my delight.

October 8, 2002 was the last fair that Chelsey scheduled for us.

Everything about our lives changed that day.

The story of that day can be read here:

https://randyepps.blog

(March 21, 2019)

But, when God brings things back to us, in unexpected little finds, even while cleaning a room…

Well, the tears and memories don’t have to be a bad thing.

The riches of life include joys and sorrows.

And God is the One that makes life rich.

And, one that leaves ahead of you,

to prepare the way,

reminds you that the best is yet to come!

I see myself, getting ready to walk into the heavenly city, and Chelsey comes running up, beaming, light shining from her eyes, a big smile of joy spreading across her freckled face. “Come on, Daddy, I’ve got to show you something!”

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VENTURING INTO THE GREAT KNOWN

RISKING IT ALL ON SOMETHING SAFE

No, you don’t hear that in an inspirational talk.

I heard a conversation the other day between two men, both retired. Both Christians.

“Some people don’t ever have that “moment,” that “come to Jesus moment” when everything changes, and they can always remember the exact time when it happened. Sometimes, it’s just kind of a gradual thing.”

“Or, maybe it never really happens.”

I started to wonder, what holds people back?

What prevents them from that “come to Jesus moment”?

I was watching a sitcom the other day. The main character had married an Indian (from India) girl, and, he always felt like his mother in law regretted that she hadn’t married the Indian doctor.

Then, when he took a chance, left a steady job to start a company, put his family at risk, he really felt like she would never come around.

Finally, when he asked her why she didn’t like him, why she had always disapproved of him, she set him straight.

They had left India to come to America to give their kids a chance to have a better life.

“We were entering into the Unknown.” She used the Indian word. “The best things always happen in the Unknown.”

There was a man that was born lame. When he was old enough, his friends would carry him to the temple in Jerusalem so he could lay outside the entrance and beg for alms.

Spare change.

In Israel, to keep the law, one was required to give to the poor.

It may not have been such a bad gig.

This had been his life, for years.

He knew what he would do every day.

He knew he would get enough to survive another day.

It was all he knew.

He couldn’t expect anything more.

This was his life.

His Known.

One day, doing his thing, he called out to two guys that were passing by.

“Spare change? Alms for the poor?”

Usually, people would throw a few coins into his basket, not looking at him, not speaking.

He was used to this.

This was his life.

The Known.

The two guys stopped.

One said, “Look at me!”

He looks at him.

The guy is smiling.

The guy is seeing him.

Maybe, this guy is going to give him a big gift.

The guy says, “I don’t have any money…”

Oh, great…

“But what I have, I will give you…”

Okay, now he was interested.

“In the name of Jesus Christ, RISE UP AND WALK!”

He had never walked.

His legs were like twigs.

He couldn’t walk.

He couldn’t even stand.

What was this guy talking about?

The guy with the big smile was standing there, holding his hand out, his empty hand, offering to help him up.

What would he do?

He knew this life.

He had friends.

He was surviving .

It wasn’t so bad.

It was Known.

But, there is this hand…

Reaching out…

Trying to pull him into the Unknown.

He reaches up to take the hand.

The strength of the smiling man begins to pull him forward.

But, suddenly, a shock wave surges through his body.

Every muscle starts to come alive.

It’s like power is erupting inside him.

The Unknown.

What is his life going to become.

Everything is going to change.

He has never, never, ever walked before.

He is pulled to his feet.

He feels the strength,

From the man, first,

Then in himself.

He walks.

He runs.

He leaps. (He leaps! No rehab! Just straight to leaping!)

He yells, “Praise to our God! I can walk! I can walk !”

He had left the life he knew, and began a life anew.

A life in the great Unknown.

The place where the best things happen.

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FAMILY…YOU GOTTA LOVE ‘EM

In our family, the coffee gene was there, strong and black. Family gatherings always included the 40 cup percolator with coffee so thick, you could almost chew it.

Of course, there are always those in the family who “prefer tea.”

We didn’t kick ’em out of the family, stop inviting them to family events, talk smack about ’em behind their backs.

We’d just tease them to their faces.

After all, they were still family.

I was listening to a podcast the other day.
John Branyan, a Christian comedian, sets up a microphone once a week and just records a conversation he has with family, friends, and people he just wants to talk to.

Sometimes, the kids walk into the room and disrupt the whole conversation.

Sometimes, he records at Panera bread, and it is so loud, you can barely hear the conversation.

But, he doesn’t edit it. He plays it just as it happens.

And they have deep, searching talks, seasoned with laughter and sarcasm.

But, what I really liked was when John’s mom was angry at John’s daughter for a strong dose of opinions she had dispensed in an earlier podcast.

Mom came to the microphone, and they actually discussed the issues, with feeling, with passion, with thought, with love, sharing the different ideas, opposing sides, and working through it.

It was almost as if…

They really loved each other, even when they disagreed.

Imagine that!

She jokingly told her granddaughter she was considering unfriending her on Facebook.

But, as they talked, they discovered that the things they thought they disagreed on, they were really pretty close.

They found that, being honest, sharing feelings, being willing to listen, to think, to consider, solved differences in a much more effective way than holding onto hurt, or anger.

Could you imagine a family member blocking you because you believed in a different anything?

Family.

You gotta love ’em!

Right?

(April 20, 2017)

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SCIENCE? ARE YOU GONNA GO WITH THAT?

Really and truly, I believe in science.

I mean, the internet alone…that was science, right? We can find all this information virtually anywhere, anytime, because we are carrying this little bitty super powerful computer with us everywhere we go.

And the cures for disease, the repair of damaged bodies, the travel into space…on and on and on. Scientific research brings us to new levels of understanding.

It’s kinda funny today, though, that the same people that tell me that science has proven the billions of years, the theory of evolution, man caused climate change, the end of the world in 12 years, are also telling me that a baby in the womb isn’t a human until it is born (or maybe a little after that, depending on the decisions of the woman and the doctor), and that now one can choose his/her gender, that the X Y chromosome thing isn’t a valid consideration.

Now, that is okay, if you want to believe those things, I guess, but don’t you think that if you are using science to prove your points in one area, that maybe you should agree with science in other areas as well?

Science doesn’t usually consider emotions and feelings as a valid scientific proof.

But, we feel what we feel, right?

Come now, let us reason together….

Maybe, we don’t know the whole story yet,

And, maybe, just maybe, fighting for some ideas because of your emotional response to a story you heard

Or a desire you have

Maybe , just maybe, you should hold off, do a little research, and consider more than just one side.

Maybe, happiness isn’t really tied to you getting your way.

But…that is another argument for another time.

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HIDDEN DANGERS, SECRET SNARES

HIDDEN DANGERS, SECRET SNARES

“I found a nail!” Addi proudly held up one of those square roofing nails as she treaded water in the deep end of the pool.

She had been the first of the girls to venture into the 65° water, and she had outlasted the other three. The family was together again for two birthdays, an 88 and an 8.

Carter stood on the side of the pool, swimmies still on her arms, shivering, her lips kind of blue. She was quickly wrapped in a towel and cuddled into her great grandmother’s lap.

“Oh my gosh! Those are so dangerous!” Wendy said. “Did the roofers do that?”

We were sitting under the newly finished cover over the patio.

“Yeah, we have found a few, but the roofers tried really hard to keep them out of the pool, ” Belinda answered. “They put a tarp across the pool to catch them. It was attached to boards and floated on the top of the water.”

Jenny followed,”Yeah, it got Dad!” She and Belinda began to laugh.

“It wasn’t funny,” Craig said.

Belinda. “It kinda was!”

We all wanted the story, and Craig began.

“I had come home and was just looking at the progress. I was looking up as I walked past the pool, and, somehow, I stepped off the edge and fell right into the tarp. I new I was in the shallow end, so it wasn’t a big deal, except it was cold. But the tarp just closed in around me, wrapping me tight, I couldn’t see anything, and I went under the water.”

Belinda said,”The guys didn’t even know Craig was there until they heard the splash.”

Craig continued,”I didn’t panic…I didn’t scream like a girl…but I was wrapped up and it was dark. I just tried to find the light. I just looked for the light. ” He kinda smiled.

“I got my face free, above the water, and I saw the guys at the end of the pool grab the tarp and pull me. I went back under the water. When I came back up I yelled, ‘STOP! DON’T PULL ME! I CAN STAND UP!’ So they stopped, I stood up, and the said, ‘Are you okay?’ They were treating me like an old man. ‘Well, now I guess you’ve got a story to tell about the boss! You’re welcome!’ And they said they wouldn’t tell anyone. ”

We were all laughing at the story…life is all about the stories.

But, secretly, we were all really glad that he was telling us the story.

I think about how easily that could have been the last day Craig spent on this earth.

A day or two later, Jenny, Craig’s daughter, was eating a pork chop at home by herself, got it caught in her throat, and started to choke. She was pushing 911 on her phone when she cleared the obstruction, and only suffered a sore scratchy throat.

Another story shared on Facebook.

We were glad she was able to tell us the story.

But another near step into eternity.

Simple little everyday life actions suddenly take on a bit of sobering seriousness, when we stop to examine how close at any time we are to stepping through that veil.

So, we do not live in fear, or dread.

We connect ourselves to our Creator, as His sons and daughters, and live in the plans that He has laid out for us.

And in those daily mundane seemingly unimportant incidents in our life, as we walk and talk with Him, we find His pleasure, and experience that joy that comes from Him.

And, because of that connection with Him,

and the stories…

Life is not dull!

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POST TRAUMATIC FLASHBACK

I pulled into the church parking lot this morning for Tuesday Bible study.

The rain had moved on, the sun was bright.

And low.

And in my eyes through my dirty windshield.

There was only one car in the parking lot, then one driving toward me.

He kept coming right toward me.

I stopped.

He stopped. Right in front of me.

I just sat there until he moved.

1968

I had worked my way up to stocker at Safeway.

I had a crush on the short dark-haired cashier that was a year older.

She was friendly.

She had a blue Corvair.

We got off at 9:30, and I walked alone out to the parking lot.

I was driving my mom’s white ’62 Chevy BelAir.

It was winter, and there was a thin sheet of frost on the windshield, so I scraped out enough of a circle to see to drive home.

I started my car, turned toward the exit, and, zipping in front of me, blocking the exit was…

Hendershot!

I didn’t have time for this.

I tried to fake one way, then go the next, but he was too quick.

One more sharp turn and I thought I had him beat…

CRUNCH!

You know the sound.

’62 Belair hits ’61 Corvair?

Yeah, it was hers.

Hendershot was scared.

I coulda killed him.

But I had to go tell her I hit her car.

She was fantastic about it!

We even dated some after that.

But Hendershot was never my friend.

When I told my friend this morning about the flashback, he thought it was funny.

Until I told him the sun was in my eyes, and I didn’t even know who was blocking me until he moved.

Then he said he was sorry.

I wasn’t really upset.

But I would not try to get by him!

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WHY DO I CARE IF YOU CARE?

WHY DO I CARE IF YOU CARE?

When I was in about fourth grade, I decided to write a novel. It was pretty long, too. About 4 1/12 pages long. It was about an invasion of giants from Jupiter. Honestly, I was pretty caught up in the story, but, after all those pages, with a pencil (this was a long time ago, kiddos), I guess I ran out of gas, or story, or both, and I laid the masterpiece aside.

A few days later, my mom told me she had found my story, how exciting it was, and how she couldn’t find the rest of it to finish the story. How did it end?

By then, I had forgotten all about it, my interest was gone.

I never had that much self-discipline as a kid.

Or teen.

Or young adult.

But, I knew I would write.

Someday.

Now, I have a business that fills my hours, but allows my mind to ruminate on the issues of life; politics, spiritual, historical, comedic….

Now, I could talk to whoever I happen to run into that day, if I can remember what I was thinking about, but, if I write it all down in some semi interesting way, instead of reaching one or two people in conversation, I can literally reach several if I put it out on the world wide Web.

Now, here is the thing.

When Mom liked what I wrote, I really needed that affirmation. It was part of growing up, feeling like I had something to offer.

Now, when I write something for you to read, I am saying something that I believe to be true.

You don’t have to believe me, or agree with me, or even like what I say. If you do agree, well, that just means you are probably a little smarter than most.

But, if you do or don’t agree, I really want to hear why. I know I don’t always see the big picture, or know all the facts, or even consider what the words I say may be saying to you.

I am very opinionated. But, I’m not mean. Maybe a little sarcastic every once in a while.

I know, in A Separate Peace, “sarcasm is the protest of those who are weak.”

Well, you know what they say, “It takes all kinds.” (Yes, I heard “them” say that, somewhere, sometime.)

Anyway, I never know which way my thoughts may carry me, but I would be glad to fling them out there for the 17 of you who may be reading stuff longer than memes.

I will read yours, too.

Because you are a great writer and thinker.

Just like me.

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