Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Christmas is Coming

I barely know most of these ladies. While they meet for Sunday school, so do I – but I’m with a group of 5th graders and they are with each other.  It makes it more difficult to know them.  Not impossible, though.  Because every year they have a Christmas party and they invite me.  I’m not much for turning down parties, so I go.  This year’s party was last night.  In the spirit of full disclosure, you might as well know that I have to relearn some names every year, but I’m getting better! 

These ladies who make up Peggy Kendrick’s Sunday School Class – what can I say?  They are a special group.  Every year, our sweet hostess says her house is too small for the group.  Every year we say that we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.  Every year, we have a feast because there are some good fantastic cooks in this bunch.  Where else are you going to get amazing rolls that take two days to make?!  Every year, we have a devotional and last night was a really special one – borrowed from Paul Harvey, no less.  (It’s included at the end of this post if you would like to know why Jesus came to earth as a human baby.)  Every year we pray – we give thanks and we ask for blessings for others.  And every year, we have a gift exchange that confuses most of us and keeps us all laughing.

This group of ladies has included me even though I meet with them once a year.  They are fun and friendly and loving and, best of all, they love the Lord.  They like to laugh.  I like to laugh.  Perfect match right there.  Our Christmas parties usually end when someone has to leave for whatever reason.  I’m willing to venture that not many parties ever broke up because someone announced, “I’m out of oxygen.  I’ve got to go.”  Ours did. 

I don’t know much about how Sunday school classes are formed.  I don’t know the protocol for assigning someone to a class.  Here’s what I do know:  The ladies of Peggy Kendrick’s Sunday School Class will take you in and love you to pieces.  If you are looking for a Sunday School class, this one comes highly recommended. 

 Courtesy of Paul Harvey – just in case you are wondering why Jesus came in human form:

The man to whom I’m going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn’t believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn’t make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man.

“I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve.” He said he’d feel like a hypocrite. That he’d much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound…Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud…At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They’d been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.

Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.

Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them…He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms…Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.

And then, he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me…That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.

If only I could be a bird,” he thought to himself, “and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safe, warm…to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand.”

At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells – Adeste Fidelis – listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas.

And he sank to his knees in the snow.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The New Kid

I probably have as much experience as anybody at being the “new kid.”  I changed schools seven times from first grade to high school.  Seriously.  And it wasn’t all that much fun.  Being the new kid gets old pretty fast.  At best, you get a couple of days of sympathy from a teacher, and then – you’re on your own.  Along the way I developed some skills at adapting, so that has served me well through the years.  Still, it is never, ever fun to be the new kid.  Even when you’re a grown up.

So, I teach Fifth Grade Sunday school.  I have done that for many years and, as a result, my Sunday school friends are ten years old.  I am technically a member of an adult class, but I don’t attend because I’m always teaching kids.  Here comes the dilemma.

I was invited to the Christmas party for my adult class – the one I don’t attend and – for the most part – don’t know the people in the class.  But, I wanted to go.  I wanted to meet those folks.  I wanted to be a part of them.  And, I thought it would be a good way to ease into it.  After all, it was a Christmas party at night and how many people would actually show up?  TWENTY-FIVE!!   That’s how many – twenty-five – when I was expecting something like TEN.   Quite a surprise.  It turns out that these ladies really enjoy spending time with one another.  And there I was – the new kid all over again. 

But something was different this time.  I got pulled right in.  I was welcomed at the front door and it never let up!  I participated – I even got asked to read out loud.  Imagine that – the new kid getting a speaking part on her first day!  It was kind of a Christmas miracle on a small scale – after I stepped inside, I never once felt like the new kid!  I’m even in the pictures.  I played the Christmas gift game and got confused like everyone else – I  ended up with two gifts at one point when everyone should have had one.  It didn’t matter.  It was fun and funny. 

Now, here comes the advertisement.  Ladies, if you need a place to feel welcome and accepted and loved, I HIGHLY recommend the Kendrick Sunday School Class.  Nobody cares how old you are – you can be a grandmother and bring your granddaughter; you can be the mother of young children or the grandmother of grown children.  You can just be you – in fact, it is highly encouraged. 

So, here’s a message to my fellow party-goers: thanks for a wonderful time.  I had so much fun and I greatly appreciate being included, new kid jitters and all.  Y’all are the best! 

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.  Romans 15:17

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Hope Heals

When I was growing up, I was surrounded by a family that cherished children.  We were not expected to be little bitty adults.  We were expected and allowed to be children.  And we all turned out just fine. 

Our imaginations were regularly stimulated and encouraged, fostered in a large part by my daddy, who loved to hear us make up stories.  My brother probably gets the prize for the most imaginative and outrageous story any of us ever told.  Here it is:

Daddy:  David, what happened today?

David:  Well, I saw a little boy walking down the road.

Daddy:  Then what happened?

David:  A big snake came up and scared that boy.

Daddy:  Then what happened?

David:  That snake said he was going to eat the little boy.

Daddy:  Then what happened?

David:  The little boy asked God to come help him.

Daddy:  Then what happened?

David:  Before God got there, the snake ate the boy anyway.

Daddy:  Then what happened?

David:  God came down to help.

Daddy:  Then what happened?

David:  The snake ate God, too!
See what I mean?  That was a whopper.  How thankful we can be that the “snake” will never eat our almighty, invincible, omnipotent God!

As Easter approaches, I have been thinking a lot about how much God loves us and what I think of as “Easter hope.”  Easter hope is never based on our circumstances (the appearance of any kind of “snake!”) or anything we might receive in the world today.  It is, instead, hope that is from and through Jesus – independent of our worldly, human situations.  And I have been thinking about something else:

I am honored to be a part of the Hope Heals Launch Team.  Many of us know the story of Katherine Wolf and the brain stem stroke that forever altered her life and the life of her husband, Jay, and her sons, James and John.  Just so you know – John was born this past June and was just a dream and a prayer in April 2008 when Katherine’s stroke occurred.  Hope Heals is the book that tells the story of this sweet family, the struggles, the pain, the triumph, the laughter, the impossible made possible, and the incredible hope in our Lord that persisted through this on-going journey.  They have taken an unspeakably horrifying experience and used it to reach out to others who are hurting.  Katherine, Jay, and their family are taking their years of suffering and offering their story to the world in anticipation of giving the hope of Jesus Christ to others who are suffering.  And make no mistake, we are ALL suffering in some way!

 Hope Heals is a beautiful story, but I double-dog-dare you to read it without crying.  The book will be released on April 26, 2016, but you can pre-order it at christianbook.com or on Amazon.  Better yet, click here for some free gifts when you pre-order.   Why not Hope It Forward?  Purchase a book for yourself and someone you know who is suffering.  We are all broken; we all need hope.  Katherine and Jay’s story will renew every feeling you ever wished you had in the arena of hope!  Get this book.  Read this book.  Pass this book on to someone else.  Maybe at this moment, you don’t even know the person who needs it.  God will send them your way – your job is to be prepared.

Remember that “snake” that ate God?  That was just a pretend story from a child’s imagination running wild.  Hope Heals is the real thing.  And God wins. 
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  Hebrews 6:19

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Buckets of Trouble

When we moved from Lynn Haven, Florida to Mobile, Alabama, I didn’t much care.  I was two.  But as I got older and ventured out of the house, I started playing more and more with the neighborhood kids.  Across the street from us, there was a house with two little boys.  One of those boys – the older one – had to bear the hardship of being named Dupont.  To make matters worse, he also had the great misfortune of being called Dupey.  Who does that to a kid?!  Whenever he and his brother were playing and their mother wanted them to come home, she would whistle.  Loudly!  With her fingers in her mouth.  I was in awe of that woman.  I still am.  I cannot whistle.
We had a swing set in our back yard and it was our all-purpose, go-to place to play.  While some might see that swing set as a couple of swings, a sliding board, and a see-saw, we saw the possibility.  It was a fire truck, a rocket, a drive thru eating place, a corral for our (imaginary) horses, a helicopter, a fort – it was, in short, anything we wanted it to be.  One day it was our laboratory.  We took an empty bucket, tied a rope to the handle, threw the rope over the top of the swing set and hoisted the bucket into the air.  The next step was to see what happened when we let go of the rope.  All labs need a test subject, and Dupey was ours.  We had him stand under the bucket and my brother let go of the rope.  The bucket thunked Dupey on the head.  My part in the experiment was to watch for the results.  Since I couldn’t read or write, I just watched.  That bucket came down on Dupey’s head and I asked him if it hurt.  His just smiled.  The experiment ended there because Dupey’s mother whistled and he was off and running home faster than the bucket fell.  One thing about Dupey’s mom – she never whistled twice.
We were so excited about our “success” that we told Mama about our grand experiment.  She said, “You could have killed him!”  That was not the reaction we were expecting.  And we all marched over to Dupey’s house to make sure he was all right and to issue our apologies.  That was the end of our laboratory, too - no more bucket experiments for us.
My brother and I were not trying to do any harm.  We liked Dupey.  We didn’t want to hurt him.  Our bucket research may seem like an odd way to treat a friend, but we were including him, not trying to do him in.  I have not dropped a bucket on anyone’s head since that day, but I have done things just as dumb.  Maybe you have, too.  And God is probably looking at me and thinking, “There she goes again.  Somebody’s gonna get hurt.”  And He is right.  When someone gets hurt – emotionally or spiritually – and it is my fault, I know that God is disappointed.  But, just like Mama, He takes me by the hand, helps me see the error of my ways, and allows me to apologize.  He is faithful to forgive.  He loves us unconditionally - even when we do stupid things.  Whatever kind of “bucket dropping” you do, He will forgive you (me!).  Every time.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.  As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.  Psalm 103:10-14

Friday, May 15, 2015


As a baby and through my preschool years, I had more than my fair share of ear infections.  Other than that, though, I wasn’t often sick.  When I was nine years old, I had pneumonia for the first time.  It was miserable.  I felt terrible and had no idea why.  When I finally just stopped playing or reading or doing anything fun, Mama and Daddy knew it was time to take me to the doctor.  Something was really wrong. 

Since I had little experience with being sick, I really didn’t know what to expect.  I had been warned that they would probably need to take some blood.  I had not been given a heads up about the urine specimen.  So, a very stern, no-nonsense nurse handed me a kidney shaped plastic bowl and sent me to the restroom.  I later learned that the bowl was intended to be used by folks who happened to be throwing up.  Maybe she thought it would be easier for me.  Her instructions were, “Second knob to the left.”  She was giving me directions to the restroom, of course, but, I could clearly see the restroom from where I was. 

Mama asked me if I knew what to do.  I nodded – which was a big, fat lie.  When I got inside the restroom, the second knob to the left was hot water.  So, I filled that bowl with hot water.  To the brim.  It was so hot that I had to hold it with my fingertips around the plastic lip.  I carefully carried that steaming bowl down a short hallway and deposited it at a table next to the nurse.  She stared at the bowl.  She looked at me.  Her mouth opened and closed, but not a sound came out.  I turned around and went back to sit with Mama.  I didn’t really like my nurse and I told Mama what had happened.  I had just finished the story when that same cranky nurse asked to speak to Mama.  It irked me considerably that I couldn’t hear what they were saying.  When it was over, Mama came back and told me that I had “misunderstood” and needed to head back to the restroom with a new plastic bowl.  I did, but I thought it was a really gross thing to expect anyone to do.  Nurse Cranky stood outside the door to receive the second “specimen.”  I knew right then and there that I would never, ever become a nurse.

It really doesn’t matter much if you are on the giving or receiving end of a misunderstanding – it isn’t too pleasant for either side.  There have been many days when the misunderstandings have piled up on each other until nobody even knew how things got to be in such a mess.  Unraveling it all would be impossible.  It makes it hard to forgive, hard to love.  But, God always has the answer for those misunderstandings.  He made sure that someone wrote it all down for us:

Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also. But, besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.—Colossians 3:13, 14; 1 Peter 4:8.