FRIENDS…..right out of THE BOX

Eli pushed back from the table, thanked his mom for the great breakfast, and made his way toward the front door; his hair combed, a new plaid shirt buttoned clear to the top.

This was to be his first visit to Hummer Bank in weeks.The money was there, the project researched; He was buying a new Premier Focus computer today. This was the one that could do everything but “Give you a big fat kiss when you turn it on.” Not that he was longing for that…… It was, however, a very clever advertisement on T.V.

This was totally his idea, months in the planing.  He smiled as he mounted his bike, excitedly waving to his mom at the door. She reveled at the industry and  independence of her young son, and she had secretly planned to reimburse him later; $425.00 was a huge amount of money, but he had assured her that; “It was extremely smart, fast, and could talk to him.”

The folks at the bank remembered him from his frequent visits with bags of change and small bills……particularly, the stories of funding his own summer camp, and his trip with his mom. The question was, however; “Does your mother know you are doing this?”

He responded, figuring  that if he had worn a tie, and had driven a silver BMW, they would never have asked,  “Oh yes; she thinks it is a very good investment!”.

The Computer Store was about a mile south. Once there, he moved in the direction of the “Q” models; his absolute choice. There were four of them in the front section. He carefully checked one, then another for condition of the shipping box, Suddenly, a voice sounded; “Over here, Eli”. It came from a bottom box with a discounted price sign on it. Eli reached for it and the voice continued; “Thank you man… I was getting crushed; Let’s get out of here!”

Again; “You bring the money?” Eli, amazed that he was even responding, answered; “Yes, all $425.00 of it.

“Q” reassured; “Keep $100 of it. I faked some damage when I knew you were coming.

Without discussion of how in the world that could happen, onto the cart it went… then to the checkout.

Q was delighted at the bond they instantly developed, and began buzzing away at the thought of how many lawns mowed, windows washed, dogs walked, that it might have taken to set him free. He felt extremely grateful, and he was going to prove it.

Eli, though very puzzled with the whole episode, patted “Him” on the box. He truly loved the $100 bucks and playfully placed his lips on the cardboard top; To “Q’s” response “Hey, that’s my job! Didn’t you read the ad?”

It was a long ride home with “Q” in the basket struggling to direct Eli with a slightly incorrect map quest, and Eli reassuring him that he already knew the way..

Mom met them, as she was sweeping the driveway; with the greeting; “Yea, you did it!”

Then a buzz, and a kindly voice from the box; ” No mam, WE did it” .We are partners now. And now, if you don’t mind, may we have our privacy until we are programmed?” Stunned, she watched the two of them move up the stairs to Eli’s room.

During the way home Eli had thought about the way to approach his new (and very verbal) friend; First, he would read the manual from cover to cover and make notes  But just before he finished, the now open and on the desk computer began major buzzing and repeated clicking sounds; the screen flashing images all over the place. Q then hesitated for a moment and delivered the message on the screen; “You don’t mind if I start do you?”

Eli immediately replied; “How do you think I am going to learn if you take over everything?”

Q, this time over the speaker. said; “Be my guest!” absolutely thrilled at Eli’s initiative.

The computer shut down and Eli began the process; every move in keeping with the manual. Q, fully convinced that he could not have done it better.

The time had come for the password, and Eli was about to type it in when the characters; B   I  G   FAT   KISS appeared.

Eli began laughing big time; Only to inquire ” Shall I change it?”

Q immediately lit up the screen with a beautiful scene of two boys walking down a path ascending to a giant mountain, covered with flowers of every kind and color, and a singing bird in every tree; the horizon blazing red and gold that nearly blinded him.

“Q” then appeared on the screen in the form of one of the boys, he grabbed the others’ hand. And, with a tear rolling down his cheek said; “That’s O.K. Eli”

“The Chinese just had no idea that it would be you and me!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GREATEST CHOICE

The Voice said; “If you had one wish; what would it be?”

Bobbie wondered, first: “Where did that come from?”

Then; “Who is it that could give me any wish that I asked for?”                                                  Thinking; “Boy, if this is true… It’s a miracle!”

Well, he responded; ” What if I wished for a hundred wishes could I have them?

“You understand well enough; a single wish, one time, and forever” was the reply.

Bobbie grabbed a pencil and paper to write his choices down to consider:

A thousand Legos

A new Motorbike

His mom appeared and questioned; “What’s with the list?” Bobbie relied “Just thinking” and went on with the list;

A Magic Wand

A Swimming Pool in the back yard; and……… he went on with the listing until he couldn’t think of anything more.

The Voice then said to Bobbie: “You realize all of these things come and go. Is there not something you will always have that will make a real and lasting difference in your  life?”

Bobbie thought and thought, but nothing came to him, so he went to his teacher, Mrs. Woody and explained his problem.

She wondered; First, where Bobbie had gotten this idea of a Voice, then smiled at is choices. She was his teacher, of course, so she found little difficulty in helping him.

“Bobbie” she said, “What is learning all about/”

The answer came quickly;”About getting smarter?”

“And”……..She questioned;” What word does the bible use for that?”( an obvious question in a Christian School)  She waited…… then, “It begins with W”

Quickly, he chose “Wisdom”. He immediately said; “That’s what the Voice meant; “Something I will always have.”

That night the Voice came again with; “What is your decision?”

Bobbie replied; “Wisdom! When can I have it?”

The Voice, Bobbie now judged as God’s very own, replied; “You already have the gift, for you have recognized me, and you have made your greatest choice in life.?

“It is now OUR wisdom, My gift to you forever”

Bobbie went to sleep thinking; “I can’t wait until tomorrow to use it!”

The Voice returned ” I’LL BE THERE THEN TO SEE THAT IT WORKS….AND EVERYDAY AFTER”

And,  God was right; He now, twenty years later, helps him with every single sermon .

The Reverend Robert says……..”Amen to that!    …………       Go figure!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

T

Why even own a needle?

It seemed like every time Bud sat there on the front porch he had the same memories. Not that they were a bad thing at all, but he could just see Grandpa there in that, now empty chair, rockin’ away and holding forth with his “gems of wisdom”.

So many of them started with “When I was your age”; then a story would follow as if he was supposed to find himself  in the same circumstance. “Well Grandpa” he thought; “Then things were really different, and less complicated.”

Once and a while Grandpa would offer; “Someday you will” so that he thought it might place Bud in real time. Bud pretty much figured it would be hard to predict that “someday”. But, it seemed to take Grandpa out of the past for the  moment.

Bud felt he was not old enough to have much of a past to remember; so he had to start making his own.

This was until he listened to Pastor Franklin at church; who was talking about “remembering” and what the Bible and God said about it. The pastor mentioned the number of times that the words; “Remember your covenant” to this and that; like the Sabbath, and  the Commandments…Then came the main point of the Pastor’s sermon; “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you, your elders and they will tell you”, as was spoken in the Bible.

He wondered if that was what Grandpa was trying to convey.

So… he went to him and told him about the Pastor’s message, and asked; “It that what you are talking about?”

Grandpa leaned over and took hold of Bud’s arm ;” What’s this… you comin’ over to my way of thinking? That’s great!”

Bud put his hand on his and replied; “It’s really not that; It was just Pastor’s way of telling me what you had been actually talking about.”

His grandpa thought for a minute and said; ” No, I was saying; you “ought to…… and this is the way we did it…… Like we came up with it, or that we never promised God anything after we went our own way, yet He still turned us around. The fact is;  we did not create much of anything, nor did any of our fathers….God did……. everything.”

Then he sailed off on another reflection; ” And another thing; I remember my Grandma often saying; “A stitch in time, saves nine” Do you know what that means?”

Bud thought for a minute and replied; “I guess it means if you do the right thing the first time, you don’t have to keep doing it over and over”

”That’s pretty darn good”,  Grandpa said…..”But it seems to me there is a better way to look at it.  If God made the shirt and you are careful how you wear it,  He will fix it, even if it gets torn…..Why even own a  needle?”

“Wow, that’s deep”, exclaimed Bud.”Did she say that?”

Grandpa answered, shaking his head; “No, but she could have. That was my conclusion.” Then he went off and quoted someone else, shaking his head and sharing ;  They say;  “We get too soon old, and too late smart!”

Bud smiled and gave him a hug saying :”I don’t agree with them.”

“They must not have known my Grandpa!………. And, you can quote me if you like.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WARNING !…… chicken crossing

If you were to ask Eli..an active, studious, motivated…and, sometimes reflective teenager; “What is your favorite day at school?”

One might guess many things; a victory at sports, or when they cancelled the day of finals on a snow day, or the time when “the new girl” invited him to sit with her at lunch.

None of the above…. It was the day when his brand new teacher, Mr. Boggs, showed up at his Social Studies class, with a challenging invitation to discuss……Get this; “Why did the Chicken cross the road?

The minute the class heard the question, they erupted in giggles. No one, absolutely no one raised a hand.

The teacher, obviously serious, said; “Everyone of you has an answer. We will start the day with that discussion. Now let’s hear them.”

Finally, Fred raised his hand and quickly stated the obvious; “To get to the other side?” The class seemed to agree; many thinking,”What? You think we are stupid?”

The teacher agreed with him; “That would be one option, but that is the customary answer; Any others?”

Judy offered; “There was a big dog chasing him!” The class laughed.

Another……”He had a bus to catch”

Another….. “He had a job interview on the other side!”

And, on it went until nearly everyone responded, and they had begun to run out of clever reasons.

The teacher then recognized Eli, pulling his name from the seating chart.

“Yes Eli?”

Eli began; “Well, I think we are not being fair to the chicken……  First of all, chickens are not that stupid. My Grandma has a bunch of them. And, I know that you can’t put them all in the same box……. Well you can, but they won’t stay there.”

Beginning to enjoy the opportunity to have the floor, he continued; “Because of their inability to share our values, and their lack of broad communication skills. they are often the victim of ridicule.”

The class and teacher remained silent..Not expecting the rant that was to follow…..

” I wonder how we can assume that he (or she) even crossed the road, or that we can come to conclusions as to their motives. Beyond that; why would we separate chickens from horses, butterflies, or any other of God’s creations, who also may have desires to change their environment?  We don’t talk about them!”

He stopped for sip from is water bottle and continued.

“Whatever decision we make here can have huge implications. In this day and age we are often victim of oversimplification. And, for those who do not believe that there is accountability for most everything, I would refer you to the story of Chicken Little who made some very bad choices…. but that’s for another time. However, you must know this;

“To be brief; this Chicken Little was totally centered  upon the false conviction that the sky was falling (I won’t go into how or why) …..He was spreading the word, was led down the road into the Foxes den and was unceremoniously eaten. Further, we don’t even know  how he tasted.

“In conclusion” Eli added…. “I submit that the chicken may have refrained from crossing the road for very legitimate reasons: We must, therefore, hear all the facts before we jump to any conclusions.

He ended; “Thank you all for listening.”

The class burst into wild applause.

Mr. Boggs joined in with the pronouncement: “Well, there goes my first “A” of the year.” “Good job Eli !”

Eli’s response, with a big grin; ” And that “A” is why… I ….crossed the road.

And , even more importantly, the “New Girl” blinked her very blue eyes and reminded him……”Eli, don’t forget our lunch date.”

He concluded;

“Ah what a day”

“What a Burrito!”

 

 

 

 

THE MOUNTAIN is calling

For as long as he could remember Josh took things seriously. He viewed it as simply being cautious. His Mom and Dad would remind him; “You be careful because…..whatever”. This advise seemed reasonable, since there was not only a lot of scary stuff out there; you never know when you will run into it. Josh did…often.

Over time, it appeared to others that Josh was something of a worry-wart. He would appear to even invent things to be concerned about…..things that many people would just take in their stride: justifying; “That’s life!”.

His fears would show up at school when tests came and  he would choke up….Even if he studied hard for them. And, despite the fact that he proved to be a good student, he would break out in a sweat. Then would worry about that.

It wasn’t until he found himself apprehensive about trips away from home, even with groups of friends, that things began to get out of hand. His mother and dad were told about those episodes.

They talked with councilors and they were advised that some degree of anxiety was to be found in quite a few youngsters; That the media seemed preoccupied with really bad things that were happening to regular people. But, “Perhaps he should see a therapist .”

The longer things went the more that issues crept into his regular routine….. to the point he didn’t want to leave the house. Friends began to disappear.

This was everyone but one; Ed Farley, who had made his way through the grades with him, and they had spent weekends together many times. It was because of Ed’s strong insistence, that they both went camping (under protest) with a group from church on Mount Faith.

They arrived by bus, and Ed recognized the growing disturbance in Josh…  he tried to reassure him, but he was shaking.

Soon everyone had finished setting up camp and were picking partners to tour the lower part of the mountain. After serious coaxing by Josh, the two of them took off down the path next to the stream. Within minutes it appeared that Josh was not going to go any further. He had set himself down on a fallen tree, and was now crying.

Within a short time, a fisherman moved along the path and noticed what was going on. He inquired “Is something wrong, has your friend been hurt?”  Ed replied; “No sir, he’s just afraid of being out here in the woods.”

The Fisherman smiled and said. “Well, it’s a good thing that there is three of you…. you should be able to handle things.”

Josh looked up for the first time and asked; “Don’t you see there is just the two of us, and I would be anxious even if there was somebody else>”

The Fisherman, who we might later know as Peter, placed his hand on Josh’s shoulder and said; “Fear not, for the Lord is always with you”. I have seen many afraid in the past… some will be able to set it aside… others will not, for they failed to trust  God.

“Let me ask you this;  Has your fear crippled you when you felt you knew you were prepared and really desired and believed in a good outcome?”

Josh replied; “Sure I have.”

Peter continued; “Well, so have I. There was a time when I thought I was in total control of  my life ; until I was asked by someone; “Do you know the Messiah?  I did not ….until it was not long after that I saw Him perform miracles: Turning water into wine, healing a blind man, giving a cripple power to walk, even filling my nets with fish that were not there.

“He walked on water, and rose from the dead after he was crucified and buried. And, so many others during His short time on earth.”

“I denied knowing him after His death ……in fear of my life as His disciple. Yet, I was forgiven and received the Power to do all things In Him.”

“I fear nothing as long as He is at my side.”

Josh was stunned by these revelations and turned to Ed and asked:”How can this be. Do you believe what He says?”

Ed replied: “There is no way this is Peter of the bible, but I believe what he says is true.”

Peter then reminded them; “God is not of this world… nor am I. Call me another miracle if you like. I am only His messenger. The truth will find it’s way into your heart…..only when you conquer your fears.”

He blessed them, and was gone.

Within moments, there came a peace and strength that washed over Josh that he had never experienced before. His body had a strange warmth, and his shaking hands steadied and he suddenly made a fist.

Then came….”Do you hear that?” as he smiled at Ed.

“The Mountain is calling……We’d better answer!”

They took off…. Joshua leading the way warning; “You better keep up; We’re headed straight for the top!”

By the Grace of God… they made it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Life Lessons from a Best Buddy

The early light of day on this Kentucky morning, finds Josh peddling his way up the Parkway in the light rain. His destination is the Station House where his newspapers are to be picked up, folded and tucked into his shoulder bags and huge front carrier basket on his bike.

This daily trip always provided him with a time to think about things….to look back;  to plan the day… and, if he had time…… to think about his future. “Funny,” he mused “Nothing like this happens like this in bed”.

He looked back at his journey from Denver to Louisville with his mom and dad, and the things he left behind; friends, camping, his studies. This day was particularly important because it was payday from his collections he made on Saturday… money that went into the bank. Who would have thought he would be a business owner as an eleven year old in sixth grade! The future? It would have to wait; remembering today… “I do have customers who are super- serious about having a paper with their morning coffee.”

The paper route was his dad’s idea. At the start he was not too sure he wanted to commit  to what seemed to be a lot of work. He had pretty much what he needed in the past . There had always been lawns to mow, leaves to rake, and magazines to sell. He already had savings and the independence of not really needing an allowance.

This was way different….. but, he cautiously committed to to sign up for a route of 132 daily papers. He had to start with their purchase himself…. then deliver and collect for them every month. “What if people don’t pay.. or move out?”. That answer, he would have to deal with. While his Dad would help him on really bad days; this was EVERY day but Saturday.

We have all heard the story told, as referred to by the older folks; “Well, I got up at the crack of dawn, hiked twenty miles in snow up to my knees and; it was uphill BOTH WAYS!”

“Well,” he assured with a smile,” Substitute the hiking to riding a bike with 100 lbs of newspapers  strapped on you and the bike, having gone into the smelly, one bulb, unheated, full-of-boys station to fold them. Then, to take to the silent streets of the neighborhood to fling papers perfectly on some dry place for pick up (without breaking a window) Then collect money;  it is almost like climbing a hill going and coming”.

Except…….Except…. there was a wonderful odor right near the end of the trail that led to a small open- early Bakery that was there to serve the loyal and hungry……first jelly doughnut free to paper boys! While this could never substitute for that last toasty moment in bed; it was the perfect appetizer for Mom’s bacon and eggs when he got home.

Luke’s dad could see the good that was happening to him, as he became adjusted to the routine. He knew full well about the trials and rewards of making one’s way. He had been a Bread man, delivering daily  baked goods from a horse driven cart  in the neighborhoods of Denver as a young man. This was his start on  path to becoming the General manager of a large Bakery there in Kentucky..

Josh  was no longer a boy…. he was  becoming a young man. One who could positively earn his way to success as a responsible husband, father, and grandfather? “What could be better?” his father thought….”He does not have to be President of anything”.

Josh took a bite from his second frosted doughnut, as he pulled into the drive at home. He stopped, admired the look of his beautiful home, the fine family, and then quickly glimpsed into his future that he dismissed so easily at the beginning of his day, and thought;

“What can’t I do when I am twenty one?”

Well, we will just have to wait to know that; First things first: a trip to the Bank to get the money to buy Dad that putter he saw him admire; for his Birthday next Saturday.

No Card…..Just a big hug for his Father ….Teacher…. Bud

P.S. He always saved the last doughnut for his mom. How did she stay so skinny?’

She gave it back  to him at dinner!

How did Josh stay so slim?………. You guess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Good Measure

It had been several weeks since Eli had visited Papa and Gigi There was the customary hug, and a review of what was happening at school, “how’s soccer  going?”… and the regular inquiry when there  had been an long absence.

It was obvious that things were going well, as he had spoken so excitedly about his life. But, there was something new…. and secret. We were supposed to guess. After a couple of  our unsuccessful attempts, we gave up.

Eli, still not willing to just lay it out there, said; “It begins with K”.

There was little that we could come up with, so to relieve the tension that was building, he surrendered; “One more letter, and it’s “I”

I thought I knew were he was headed, but tossed out; “You got a kiss from a girl at school?”

You would have thought I had thrown a bucket of worms at him, given the face he made. Never, Ever, say this to a 9 year old boy!

When he recovered from this ridiculous suggestion, he returned; “Of course not, I got a Kitten, and his name is Pumpkin”, explaining; “He has orange stripes”.

What you don’t know is;  that all this has to survive the introduction to their resident hyper-jumper-dog called Doug Fir; simply called, because of his height and girth (no he isn’t green) but is beige, 5 ft. tall and 80 lbs.

Perhaps I should have withheld this part of the story until the kitten bonding was complete, but that is for another story. Please stay tuned.

The real story here lies within another observation that we made when he walked in our door with his mom. He had grown inches over the last couple of months. Somehow, years previous, we had become caught up in the idea of measuring the growth of our grandsons every time they visited. If you can’t understand and endorse this, you are not a grandpa or grandma. Growing tall is the first measure of manhood; Look it up!

Anyway, the door of the utility cabinet was opened to reveal the steady progress; inch-by-inch, clearly marked on the inside of the door. However…..this time it was way more than an inch. The mathematician in me (chronically on vacation) began to  extrapolate  (at least I know the word). It was obvious that by the time this boy is 18, he will be 7 ft. tall. Deal with it!

Understandingly, Eli also did take unusual pride in his remarkable growth. We, however, in this day of selfies and gratuitous pats on the back (seldom on the behind), were not sure that this is was a good thing. Either he must stop growing .We will run out of door……. or we must stop documenting it.

For the time being the cabinet door will remain closed to that exercise, and we will choose other measurements such as; character growth, overall responsibility, and eating habits

And, oh yes; kitten management. Pumpkin could end up being a pain. We are hoping that Eli would be a good trainer. (And Kitty a good listener.)

And, to both the ultimate reward for good behavior?……..

What else, but Pumpkin  Pie!……… with catnip sauce ?.