In 1950, the small town of Wetumka, Okla. was scammed by a visitor who claimed to be the advance man for a traveling circus. According to reports, the visitor was blessed with a silver tongue and sweet talked the townspeople into preparing for the upcoming visit.
In preparation for the supposed visit, a hotel bought 20 new mattresses for rooms reserved for the performers by the scammer. Another town member made arrangements for a hay shipment to feed the circus elephants. To feed people who would be coming to town to attend the circus, a grocery store owner ordered 100 pounds of hot dogs.
The con man was even granted complimentary room and board while in town. But, after filling his belly and his pockets with the advertising money he’d collected from local merchants, he disappeared.
Of course, the circus never came to town. However, the red-faced townspeople turned the hoax into an opportunity and 67 years later, Sucker Day is still celebrated as a festival with a parade, live music, street vendors, a carnival and competitions. You might say they took lemons and turned them into lemonade.
Newspaper photos, social media posts and live TV coverage depicted the devastation. Those viewing the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey could only imagine what the Texas victims were experiencing. For those of us who have experienced the aftermath of a hurricane, the reality is familiar.
However, anyone who has either viewed or experienced a disaster like this is familiar with the sacrifices of those who respond to the call for help. As responders poured into the southeastern Texas areas hardest hit, I marveled once again, not only at the sight of trained rescue workers, but the volunteers who leave their jobs, homes and family to provide assistance to those affected by the flooding.
Stories continue to reveal those moments when all hope seemed lost. Then, someone who refused to give up, showed up and answered the call for help.
I listened to TV coverage as victims and rescuers were interviewed. One man, a volunteer rescuer, paraphrased 1 John 3:17, which states, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”
Do you remember when we were arguing over who had the most frogs in their jar and accidentally let them loose in Mom’s car?”
I laughed as my sister and I recalled some of our childhood antics. The frog story was funny, even though our mother didn’t think so. The escaped frogs hopped across the floorboard and over her feet as she drove. And yes, we did get in trouble.
We all have memories. Some elicit laughter. Others bring tears. However, it’s nice to recall the past, especially with someone who was present when they occurred.
After the Israelites crossed the Jordan River, the Lord told Joshua to choose 12 men, one from each tribe, to take 12 stones from the Jordan where the priests were standing. They were to place them in a pile as a memorial at their campsite that night. Gathering another 12 stones, Joshua piled them in the Jordan where the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant were standing.
Later, Joshua tells the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and He kept it dry until you were all across…” (Joshua 4:21-23).
As Christ followers, we must never forget what He has done for us, including His sacrifice on the cross. I enjoy sharing what I call my “God moments” with others. It’s my testimony to His faithfulness.
My youngest grandson recently spent two days with me. Like his father, Cash is mischievous, loving to tease and play practical jokes on his Nana. However, like my other grandchildren, he has a serious side, especially when it comes to praying before meals. I love listening to their heartfelt innocent prayers, filling my heart with joy.
Cash has many role models of the faith. His parents, grandparents and great-grandparents have made it their mission to pass on the “glorious deeds of the Lord.”
Cash will celebrate his eighth birthday this month. He never met my father who passed away two years before Cash was born. Like most of us whose loved ones are no longer present with us, we love to share our family history with the younger generation.
As I drove Cash home after his stay with me, we passed several semi-trucks. One of the many jobs my father held during his lifetime was as a truck driver. Anytime I pass a big rig on the highway, I am reminded of the stories my father shared. I had never mentioned my father’s occupation to Cash. As I began to share some of the stories my father had told me, it struck me how important it is for Christian parents and grandparents to share the wonderful stories found in scripture, to pass on to the next generation the importance of living out our faith in a world that has drifted away from those values.
The video of the speeding car slamming into a crowd of protesters left a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Three died, including two police officers. More than 30 were injured in a Virginia riot on August 12.
Immediately after the event, people took to social media, pointing fingers. Too many, including Christians, began to assign blame for what happened. First, let me say as a former school teacher that pointing your finger doesn’t solve problems. A relevant adage reminds the pointer that three more fingers are pointing back at you. Jesus reminds us of the same.
Matthew 7:5 tells us, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
We’re all to blame if we haven’t followed the teachings of Jesus. If we treat others with contempt, we’re mistreating a person created in God’s image. All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination dishonor the work of Christ on the cross.
When a dear friend phoned me recently, she asked for prayer, specifically for her son-in-law and daughter who were preparing to travel out of the country for a family emergency. The sister of her son-in-law had been murdered. My friend was not only grieving this senseless crime, but she was concerned for the safety of her loved ones who would be entering a foreign country where the laws and customs are vastly different from our own.
The couple and their families have been in my daily prayers. My friend has also kept me updated on their situation.
We live in a fallen world where life sometimes makes no sense. We often question, “Why, God, why?” My heart aches when I read or hear of those who are battling diseases or when loved ones are taken from us too soon or when a tragedy takes the lives of an entire family, a group of people or a segment of the population.
We wonder why people make the choices they do. We question how a loving God could allow these things to happen, especially to those who have done no harm. We even question our faith sometimes.
Today, I’m pressing on. It’s Friday morning. I’m in my usual spot facing my computer screen. I’ve prayed, “God, please give me the words to reach the people You want me to reach.”
When I began this journey, I had no idea I’d still be writing a weekly column almost 12 years later. I don’t share this out of pride but out of humility. While I’ve always loved writing and reading, my post-retirement plans from a 30-year teaching career didn’t include a weekly Christian column. But God had a better plan.
Recently, I was visiting with a fellow classmate. We both graduated from a rural Oklahoma high school in 1971. Like me, Duane doesn’t see retirement as a time to sit and rust.
When I speak to groups, I always share with them something I learned from a man who is still going strong in his 90s. When I first met Jack, he was in his late 70s. Because of my relocation to a new community, I was attending a different church and was changing my membership.