KY. MISSIONS & FANCY’S FARM

The summer of 2008, I went on a ten day missions trip that changed my life. Our youth group participated in Kentucky Missions, a yearly event sponsored by First Baptist Church,Spartanburg, S.C. I’ve been a lot of places and done a lot of things, but this experience stands alone for many reasons.

I wasn’t scheduled to go and to be dangerously transparent, I didn’t want to go.  A few days before they were to leave, our female chaperone backed out and there wasn’t time to get anyone else. My Chipper & I were coming back from a convention in Indianapolis on the day we found out. I was ready go home and sleep in my bed, but as the pastor’s wife, I felt obligated. I’m glad GOD knew my heart better than I did!  I wanted to go, I just didn’t know it until after I got there!

We ministered in a very poor area. I’m talking poor. I don’t consider myself anything close to froufrou (sisters, Lori & Kelly, take after Mama in that area and sister, Amy and I are like daddy. Sweats and a ponytail holder, all good) but, to these children, I came across as FANCY and that’s what they called me from day one, FANCY.  To say it the way they did, drag it out, FAN-CEE 😀

The picture above is me with four year old, Landon.  The classroom we’re in was beneath the church.  It had a dirt floor. I’m seriously scared of mice, so I was petrified when we’d go down there to make crafts and tell stories.  But to them, it was normal.

We took our own supplies and the state of Kentucky provided a meal for them that Kentucky Missions staff picked up.  We’re talking tractor trailers going all over the place. Youth Pastor Seth Buckley, could run a corporation…this operation is huge and unbelievably professional and it’s a SHAME that MORE CHURCHES aren’t following their example!  Dr. Don Wilton, the Pastor with an awesome South African accent, wouldn’t be offended if your church wanted t0 play copy cat I’m sure!

It makes me smile to think about those unforgettable children. They wanted to be in your arms and they all wanted to hear you say that you loved them. The girls took turns wearing my watch, wedding rings and brushing my hair. The boys wanted time, too! I served as official referee of the dirt basketball court with one hoop only.

Second, I witnessed Hannah, Dustin,Victoria, Cody, Clay, Miranda, Tabitha, and Timmy, investing in the lives of those kids. Each one of our youth led at least one to Christ.  Our teenagers were “my kids” and I was one proud mama!

I was asked to share my testimony of childhood sexual abuse to a full house of teens one night and when the service was over, they stood in line to talk. Many..needed to talk…THAT opened my eyes to HOME MISSIONS.  My family spent 5 years in a foreign country;  I needed a reminder that we have people in AMERICA who need Jesus just like every place else!

I met awesome teenagers who were part of the missions team and many who lived in Kentucky. I spent every evening ministering with the parents of HANNAH SOBESKI, a beautiful, seventeen year old from Spartanburg, who lost her life to cancer, but not before she inspired thousands of others. It was emotional, seeing Coach and Debbie, there after such a devastating loss, but the Sobeski family has spent ten days every summer in the mountains of Kentucky for many years.  Her parents and brothers were carrying on what Hannah loved doing.

The night Hannah went to see Jesus, she was at home with family and friends singing HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD.  When I think of a courageous girl making sure everyone knew she wanted to enter Heaven  singing HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD, my eyes water.  What a poignant portrait of  unwavering faith!

The night I gave my testimony, I’ll never forget her parents seated in the back of that small church..their hearts broken in a way I cannot fathom and yet, they had a purpose and desire to be there.  I remember Debbie sitting in a metal chair outside peeling mountains of oranges for the children while we played.  We played a lot.  They got good food and we gave them surprises.  We picked them up and carried them home…van load after van load.

LISTEN! Those children aren’t just in KENTUCKY…they’re in Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, Wyoming, Utah, Michigan, Arizona, Iowa, Delaware..children who need love are living EVERYWHERE.

In honor of the children in Kentucky and the time I was blessed to have with them, I created this book series called; FANCY’S FARM.  The setting is that of a pioneer village on fifty three acres with log cabins, livestock, pet animals, vegetable and flower gardens, a general mercantile, blacksmith, chapel and a one room schoolhouse.

Teens must be seventeen to apply and should come highly recommended by a pastor, youth pastor and one other character reference such as a teacher, principal or coach. They volunteer six weeks during the summer, mentoring troubled and underprivileged kids between the ages of 8-12.

Now, while all of my characters are fictitious…I can almost guarantee that I got my inspiration from watching our girls swoon over the ranch hand, who I have to say, was quite the charmer when he came riding up on his horse 😀 or our boys when they met one of the girls from the other church. Ahhh..young love..it’s just sweet.

It just so happens that the teens who work at Fancy’s Farm, have things going on at home that your teenagers are familiar with, too. Who knows, maybe one day, there will be a FANCY’S FARM right here at Morgan Meadows.  Hey, with GOD, it’s possible…..HE FAVORS ME just like HE FAVORS YOU!

My Chipper’s Blog (You WILL weep)

The Worst Day of My Life – Chip Morgan

November 15th marks the 3rd year anniversary of the most horrific experience of my entire life, and NO… it has nothing to do with internal church problems…but then again it’s the worst INTERNAL church problem I’ve  ever experienced.

From my early childhood I have ALWAYS viewed life as being simply too short.  I remember dreading to go to sleep, not because I didn’t enjoy rest & leisure.  I was just afraid I’d MISS something FUN or important.  I have even daydreamed about being CLONED somehow, so I could do 3 or 4 lives all at one time.  My problem with graduating high school – I knew I could technically do ANYTHING…but not EVERYTHING.

When the Holy Spirit got through to me in 1976, I realized how many “church” people are actually NOT Christian people.  I prayed and was baptized in 1972 but made it REAL in 76.  Who knows, maybe I’ll stand before God and hear Him say…no son, I actually redeemed you in 72 and you just got serious in 76.  Either way, what came with getting serious was a literal “counting of how many days I have left”.  I still hated sleep but now it had as much to do with possible “wasted hours”, as the missing out on fun.

Just last week I looked at my dad after he and I took a trip to town to let an auto mechanic walk around my car only to say “Naw, I can’t possibly see how it could have bent the struts, but bring it back Monday and we’ll put her up on the rack.”  “Well”, I said as we returned to the road, “there went an hour of our life that we’ll NEVER get back”.  My dad who is definitely the rock from whence this chip was hewn said “Ain’t that the truth.  STUPID, why didn’t you just tell us that on the phone and save us a trip.”

At 18, when I knew God wanted me to preach and presumably pastor as my vocation, I saw it as a race… not a slow paced marathon, but a very, very, VERY long hard sprint.  Seriously, consider that if you are old enough to read this and understand it, you only have at best some 3000 weeks left?  If you have $5.00 you’ve got 3000 weeks.  If you have $5 billion, you have 3000 weeks.  Point is…3000 weeks.  Of course you might only have ONE.  But even at that, my request to God is to go out in a blaze of glory.

So my ministry has always been one of urgency.  I have a sign in my office that reads “Thou Shalt Not Whine.”  And, to exponentially multiply this, I married a perfectionist who happens to have more talent in her little pinky than me or most people I know.  SO…our quest together is to GET IT DONE, get it done RIGHT, get it done FAIRLY, and get it done YESTERDAY.

Quick synopsis of our ministry – youth minister – couldn’t wait everyday to get off of my mail route to get to our REAL job – youth.  Church of @150 – we had 25-30 youth.  But, that wasn’t enough.  We started a para-church city ministry in 2 neighboring towns – saw 100+ young “spirit warriors” give their lives to Christ within months.  If their parents went to a church we directed them to attend THAT church.  25 years later this “Spirit Warrior Youth” thing is well into its second generation and there’s no telling how many people these “warriors” have influenced for Christ.

LISTEN:  If your initial response to that just now was … YEAH… but how many of them FELL AWAY and QUIT.  Seriously…FOLLOW my directions closely… CLICK BACK to Face Book, GO BACK TO FARMVILLE and harvest some collards, because you wouldn’t understand any of this … at all.

Seminary – I prayed God, “I’ve got two kids and a good job…if you can work out a transfer with the post office, I can go.”  Weeks later I was working in the Gretna, Louisiana post office.  Second year a classmate said, “I know a church that you need to talk to.”  Weeks later, I became a full time youth minister of around 75 youth (church avg. 700) – we maxed out at 152 before we got the call back home to come and pastor a small country church in SC…a “GREAT” small country church, ran about 50-60, and we saw over 40 baptisms the first year.  Then we got the call to a big city church – big city church where half the deacons & leaders were having affairs and two were having an affair with each other (& all our deacons were men).

We did 6 years of evangelism (conferences & revivals), and 5 years as foreign missionaries, six if you count deputation.  There have been many life lessons that we have gained along the way.  And many great experiences worth mentioning, but I won’t bog you down or hold you up.

Lis and I both have always been serious soldiers, showing up first in line …for the Captain.   Lord…you SAY it…we’ll DO it.  One day in 1987 during Spirit Warriors, I felt the Lord saying, “If you really want THIS building…walk around it 7 times (like Joshua) and claim it as yours.”  I know…I’m a NUT.  Well, after my seventh time around, I felt good.  Lesson learned – the Lord just wanted ME to realize that I WOULD DO IT.  No, we didn’t get the building…but I DID exactly what I was TOLD.  I’m almost positive God laughed for AGES.  Glad to bring you a smile… SIR.  I still laugh over that because I can imagine all of heaven laughing.  There would come many more examples to follow.  The overwhelming GOD message – “Chip, I don’t need you to FIGURE IT out…I just need you to keep your eyes HERE ON ME.  I’ve got this.  When I say move…you just MOVE.”

So, now I am downright obsessive about the days that I have left.  I figure statistically, if you stand before the Lord (in that day) without having had SOMETHING to do with at least 5000 coming to Christ, you’ve wasted your life.  THINK…If you interact with 3 people a week and let your light shine and your words be heard, 5000 is a minimum over a lifetime.  It’s like Amway, you influence one who influences one, who influences one.  The absolute best feeling in the world for Lisa and me has been recently finding out that our old youth have stayed active for 25 years influencing new converts.  I got a Facebook from MY old youth pastor – Mike Catt – of “FIREPROOF” fame.  He said what “40 yr old youth” were you referring to for prayer.  I returned the note, “Mike, NOT one of YOUR youth.  I HAVE 40 yr old youth…YOU now have 50 yr old youth.”  BUT… if I have them … HE ALSO has them … because of his influence on me.  Think Amway circles.

NOW MY TRAGEDY!!!  I thank God that my family was there for me and a handful of real f-r-i-e-n-d-s.  The reason that it remains a tragedy to a large degree today … is the disgust, STILL stuck in my mind, concerning the support and understanding (rather the lack of) that I received during the weeks and months that followed by those “brothers & sisters” all around me who claimed to be “The Sweetest Fellowship, This Side of Heaven”.  I always hated that saying on our sign!  As a matter of fact, soon after I came… IT came down.  It sounds like something you might hope someone else might think… BUT not as YOUR OWN tag line.  It’s like if I had advertised “World’s Hottest Pastor” (don’t laugh – my wife says that’s true…thank you very much).

Now, I don’t share the following with you for your pity…your pity and $5 will buy a venti cup of Star Bucks.  I do (honestly) hope that some that I used to consider friends, may just by chance,  FINALLY understand… BUT, mainly, as Barney Fife would say, “It’s therapedic” just for me.  I just told Lis last week that “I really MISS working with the military” mainly because somehow I felt connected to their psyche after this event…sort of the brotherhood of the affected.

My wife and I had just gotten to the new church – a church that had been written off by most.  The people promised, after I BEGGED over & over …DON’T call me unless you are ready to REACH THIS COMMUNITY like you’ve NEVER done before.  I am NOT AT ALL interested in maintaining your church.  There was an Army base next door (tattoos, no way) and a housing project (poor, unruly, kids of different races, you’re kidding)

We began to head in the right direction with a great unified attitude as we started to renovate a 1970’s church into a state of the art 21st century place of worship.  Instead of putting the jailhouse industrial look back into the bathrooms we created “a beautiful Tuscan tiled bathroom that people actually came out talking about – $5000+ instead of $2000 or less.  We…excuse me (I) … yes I … insisted that the wallpaper from the Brady Bunch’s split level come out of the 30 ft high sanctuary and throughout all the halls.  Also the children’s building needed to be “themed,” as well as our nurseries.  OF COURSE, it was only the idea that originated from me.  It took my wife and some wonderful ARTISTS and some strong construction minded people to make it happen.  We also wanted to turn our youth house into the most cutting edge hang-out that it could possibly be … on our budget.  To take another phrase which I later came to despise – “we were blowing and going”.

Lisa and I were in our office area like we were on most late afternoons.  Everyone else had gone home and we were getting ready ourselves.  We had hired a wonderful Christian man who sang Southern Gospel with his family group on the weekends and worked as a painter by trade during the week.  He was the low bid and we knew him & his ministry so he got the contract.

They were in the process of repainting our two-story, 30 ft tall, fan shaped sanctuary from top to bottom.  It was Bruce, his son, and two workers that had been with him, like forever.  Bruce had borrowed a scaffold from a dry wall guy in our church and had his extension ladder braced on top of the double scaffold.  We had enjoyed him singing “I’m winging my way back home” all day while he worked away.

I’m going to take a break here and actually BEG…if you KNOW Bruce or you are his family…DO NOT READ ANY MORE OF THIS POST.  I write these details for ME and for those who I really, really NEEDED then to reach out with a hug… instead of a pointed finger or fist.

I repeat…please don’t remind yourself of this day.

Lisa and I were in the office wing…some 100 yds away, I’d guess.  All of a sudden we heard a “traffic accident”, a fallen power pole, maybe the wall of our church crumbling … SOMETHING … something loud and NOT good.  Time sort of went into slow motion when we realized that it was very close, like INSIDE.  I moved fast, then I ran.  When I swung the sanctuary doors open I caught first glance of a pile of scaffolding and ladder at the back of our church.

I have always known that I was a leader because in any tragedy I go into “Survivor” mode.  Yep, I’m the one they send home first – I automatically & very sternly instruct … YOU call 911, YOU get a blanket, and YOU come help me with this.

Only this time it was WAY worse. The 3 workers/son actually SAW it happen, so just one look at the result and (instant shock) it petrified them to such a degree that they absolutely could NOT come back inside.  Three grown men almost crying, “I CAN’T!”  I guess I went into three stages – 1.shock – 2.protect my wife – and 3. you’re IT buddy… whether you want to be IT or not.  When I approached what I thought would be, at least somehow, a fixable situation… it was anything BUT.

My first words were, “LISA   DO  NOT come over here!!!  DO     NOT – he IS alive – so call 911.  What my eyes were gazing on was straight out of anything but REALITY.  Oh…God…oh…God…oh God and I was not taking His name in vain.  Bruce had been painting the very tip of the peak of the wall when the ladder pushed the scaffold completely over causing him to plunge head first off the top of the ladder into the tangled scaffold and onto the concrete floor.  Claw marks were visible on the freshly painted wall.  The scaffolding sprawled onto the rear 3 pews and in the middle of it all was the contorted body of this gentleman who had brought a smile to us all morning with his singing.

When I got to him, he was inverted at about 30 degrees, his right leg twisted so far back that his foot was up close to his shoulder.  I couldn’t tell or I don’t really remember the other leg.  His back was no doubt broken because of the extreme bend.  Both of his arms were obviously broken, his left sort of parallel with his body, back just enough to be snapped.  And his right arm was not even describable.  It was exactly like an arm is NEVER supposed to be.  It was bent behind his back straight up, with 4-5 inches of a raw jagged bloody bone sticking out the end with the hand and wrist dangling below like a piece of rubber.  The worst part is that I knew I shouldn’t – I couldn’t possibly – move him, and the problem was … his face was slammed, nose first into the thinly carpeted concrete.  (We would later dig nose bone fragments out of the concrete.)

He was still breathing and all I could do was keep calling his name and trying to encourage him if he could hear me.  I wanted to KEEP MY WIFE AWAY from the horror and make sure HIS SON didn’t come back in.  The ONLY constructive thing I could do for him was to keep the blood away from his nose and mouth, so he wouldn’t asphyxiate.  And for what seemed like an eternity I scraped a quart of blood at a time away from his face, each swipe would only make room for the next quart to gush out.  I simply could NOT get ahead of the flow, but I knew he’d drown if I didn’t keep it up.  It started to GET TO ME and I don’t know if I cried out loud … or just inside.  But when the ambulance finally arrived, the paramedics came in, took one look and couldn’t have cared less about any damage that might take place by moving him.  They moved as much metal that could be moved and one of the two guys said to me “OK…now grab his legs and let’s flip him over as evenly as we can.”

He was immediately intubated and before long they were gone and there we sat…tired, clueless, helpless, SPENT.  My precious wife … (some of ya’ll … SOOOO don’t know my wife) she began to console the workers and son (she is the most compassionate person I know) and we got them to just sit & wait there until the family could arrive from 30 minutes away.  Bruce lived in ICU for several days but he never regained consciousness.  He was basically dead when I was in his face, urging him to hang on.

I left the church that day, NEVER to be the same.  For months all I can remember hearing from MY congregation was the scaffold guy (deacon) worrying about getting sued, and everybody talking about how tragic the accident was.  I was numb.  But I had a job to do and that job was to be the PASTOR, the counselor, the encourager.  Life became EVEN MORE URGENT for me.  Some  people  just went back to their normal belly aching about spending money, or whatever else they could find wrong (heartless).  The chairman of deacons had helped me and Lis clean up the blood with a carpet cleaner (over & over & over & over & over…foamy blood).  I think if anyone understood he did.  We replaced the carpet squares in the middle aisle at the back under the clock next to the sound booth.  If you go into that church today you can see exactly where it happened (as clear as day) because the carpet doesn’t match.  Week after week, I stood in the pulpit staring back at the war zone that I had NOT yet come to grips with, as a reminder every week.  The “leaders” questioned why my preaching changed – more urgent – not quite as funny – more serious.  He has never preached fluff, but now he’s down right getting into our business…down where the rubber hits the pavement.

For months, there was not one single solitary HOUR that passed that I didn’t think about it.  I woke up one morning weeks later at 3 am throwing up, numb, really hurting in the chest, dizzy, head pounding, I could NOT move – a sure heart attack.  I told Lisa that she had best call 911, I thought it was bad.  When the ambulance got there and got me to the hospital I found out for the first time what a “panic attack” is and how it mimics a heart attack.  Weeks later, again I just randomly passed out in our hall bathroom and knocked a hole in the wall.  It scared the girls to death.  I told a few close friends, but by this time everybody was back to their normal lives .  The funeral was way past.

BUT, finally the breaking point came.  One day I was driving home and I heard an ad on the radio about this man’s family singing, still ministering, and I started to literally sob– they were going to be at such & such church.  I remember as vividly as if it were today…I SAID IT OUT LOUD to myself.  THE LORD NEEDED ME … TO HEAR IT.  I seriously said through a stream of tears, “IF I HADN’T KILLED THEIR DADDY…he’d be singing with them tonight ”.  It was then that I knew I needed help…real help.  You see…with leadership comes responsibility, and down deep in my soul I reasoned that “if I had not insisted that our church look its best to welcome guests” Bruce would still be here.  I WAS GUILTY.

Thank God for doctors in a military town who deal with PTSD everyday!  It’s been three years now and I don’t think about it as much…probably once every week or two…and I don’t dwell on it as long.  I generally have a terrible memory, but I can reenact every microsecond of that event.  But my worst haunting of all is the fact that, in a time when I needed MY PEOPLE the most … the only ones that were there was my family and that faithful handful of die hard friends who had taken the time to get to know and LOVE their pastor and his family.

I HAVE changed.  Don’t we ALL change as we go through STUFF?  I DO take life more seriously than I EVER have.  I abhor “posers” more than ever.  I just don’t have time for it.  They are Christ’s worst enemy.  I have very little patience with those who SHOULD be teachers and yet are still babies, whining and demanding to always be the CENTER of everyone’s universe.  I have no patience for blatant racists, self proclaimed heroes, self appointed (exclusive) scripture interpreters and just general experts in their own minds.

I HAVE changed – I’ll never be the SAME person.  I’m glad God is actively molding and changing me (and Lisa) for new and exciting challenges.  And we will proudly approach the next challenge with just as much ZEAL as we have faced prior ones.

I pray that I will continue to CHANGE – to grow and learn, and that God will correct me and/or reward me.  And I pray that November 15, 2007 will always remain “the worst day of my life”.

Lord have MERCY !!!

My daughter, Jena, moved three hours away a few months ago to take a job at Roper Hospital in Charleston.  I miss her, but she is twenty five, and stayed in our nest longer that most chicks (didn’t think I’d pass that one up, did you?)

I find traces of her around the house daily. That black skirt of mine she swore  never to have worn? I guess a kleptomaniac monster was camping out in her closet and forgot to return it.  Apparently, it treated itself to a mani/pedi; I  found pink stained, cotton balls stuck to the floor along with a half used bottle of baby blue polish. I believe she wore that hideous color just to annoy me.

My daughter has so many admirable virtues, but cleanliness probably won’t be the one that brings her closest to godliness.

Of all these things however, it’s the menagerie of animals residing on the farm that screams….JENA WAS HERE!

When she moved, she took only Darcy, the six years old, Yorkshire Terrier. Jensi would have loaded her Equinox with the whole barnyard, because, like me, she loves animals.  But, she had problems.  #1…Scott is allergic to animals and part of his weekly salary goes to the ZYRTEC company..#2 There’s a $300.00 PER pet fee in that fancy apartment she calls home! Darcy barely made it in!

After Darcy, came Bindi Sue, a Lassie look alike Jena rescued from an abandoned house.  Her daddy had mentioned a few times that he might enjoy owning a border collie, so she figured a rough coat collie was a reasonable substitute.  Bindi Sue was named in honor of The Crocodile Hunter’s, daughter.  My Chipper really does loves her a lot.

Next, in line is Desmond.  Bindi outgrew Darcy and the house, so Jen wanted another playmate for Darcy.  I wasn’t excited about having two inside dogs, but, being an animal junkie, I agreed..with two explicitly clear stipulations. I’m not keen on short haired dogs, especially chihuahuas, it’s those big ears on a tiny head..no chihuahua. Number 2, girl dogs successfully use wee pads, boy dogs hike their leg and shoot, no boy.  To further emphasize, a boy dog will like our girl dog..and we know where that leads.

I went to Florida for surgery (not plastic surgery!) and on our way back to Ga. a week later, Jena called her dad’s phone. I surmised that she bought the playmate. What kind? I asked the second time and the third.  Chipper said, I’ll let you tell her that. You got a stinkin’ boy chihuahua?”  Before you chihuahua owners get miffed..Desmond, that stinkin’ boy chihuahua, is curled up in my lap as I write.  It’s downright embarrassing, but I’ve been heard saying;  Desmond George Morgan! You’re about to get a spanking, son! My Chipper clarifies that he’s never nor will he ever…sire a dog.  : D

Bristol…  Jena’s co-worker bred champion German Shepherds and sold the puppies for, like a million and one dollars. A Husky jumped the fence and we know where that leads. She re-homed all but a runt.  She sent a picture and just look at her!  Chipper said no, but, Jen and I went into female hysteria and we know where that leads. Bristol Palin was in the news and the name fit.

We moved from 2 acres in Savannah to 53 acres in Hickory Grove, with a barn and seven paddocks. That’s where the boxer comes into the picture. Remember, I’m not a short haired dog fan and Boxers were one of my least favorite breeds;  they slobber, shed, they get green goobers in their eyes and they’re too aggressive.  That’s how I felt until I met Cassie, who was dumped in my son’s yard.  Joshua, like his father, doesn’t dislike animals, but, he’s not Dr. Doolittle, either.  He called Animal Control, but, she was  starving so they fed her and we know where that leads.  He and Nikki got attached. They took her to the vet, got her a bed, expensive food and six months worth of Frontline.  After she gained her strength back, they realized Cassie needed a fence. 

Joshua called my phone and asked if we could keep her on the farm until they put up a fence.  Six months later; Cassie’s still here.  I never allowed big dogs in the house until Cassie I wipe her slobber and clean her eye goobers. I’ve seen her fend off strangers who approached the house and she chases coyotes and bobcats out of the yard.  I’m in no hurry for the kids to get a fence at all.

Remember my post about cats?  We gained another. Jena and Tammy came upon what is undoubtedly, the scrawniest, ugliest feline that I’ve ever seen! Roberta was wandering on the road by her smushed up mom. I feed her tuna, eggs, bacon, cream but she won’t gain an ounce!  She’s black which makes her look even skinnier! Taking Bertie to a humane society would be anything but humane! Nobody would ever choose this pathetic cat!

The week prior to Jen moving, she called from work.  She was too cheerful. Honey, we can’t take another dog…but, I gave permission to bring it home if she put it on Craigslist. As our chat ended, my Chipper walked in. When he asked what PENZU wanted, I stuck to basics and told him she was just calling to check in. Sidenote:  When she was a toddler, her pronunciation of daddy’s princess was daddy’s penzu.  😀

If you could have seen my Chipper’s face when Jena came in with a dog in her arms… I was tempted to roll over and play dead, but, she ratted me out as she walked in the door.  “I called Mommy. She said it was okay. ”  I assured him the dog would be gone in a few days…unlike a stray, this one was fed and groomed which indicated that she belonged to someone.  As we sought to calm his nerves, Tammy asked ,  “What are we going to name her?”  My Chipper’s eyes widened.  “We’re NOT NAMING that dog!” 

Jena posted the ad on Craigslist.  Your dog’s fine but wants to come home.  Call to describe.  Lots of folks called to describe, but no description fit Dawg.

After a month, it was obvious nobody was going to claim Dawg, so I told Chip to take her to the shelter.  I didn’t think much of it the first time or two he left without Dawg, but I began to suspect that he was forgetting her on purpose.

A few days later, he was taking the trash to the dump so I reminded him the shelter was on the same road.  When he got ready to leave, I yelled again, “Take DAWG with you!”  He stood at the barn and hollered back.”You’ll have to put the leash on, she’s scared of me.” I trotted to the barn, took the leash, huffing. “Geez, how hard is it to put a leash around the dog’s neck, Chipper?”

My Chipper didn’t bite back…he watched.  As I approached, poor Dawg was shivering behind the gate.  The closer I got to her, the more she cowered.  At that moment, I understood why Chipper hadn’t taken her.  She looked at me, panting wildly as if to say, “Can’t I stay with you? I don’t eat much and I’m not causing trouble. I don’t have anywhere to go.  Please don’t make me leave.”

I knew firsthand what it felt like to be homeless and at the mercy of someone else, and I couldn’t bring myself to put the leash around her neck.

My Chipper could’ve made me feel like a dawg, but, no matter what you hear, he’s not that kind of man.  He usually chooses his words carefully and rarely says anything he’ll later regret.  “She IS a pretty dog.” He said to  me softly.

I picked her ears up and tugged them. “Lord, have Mercy!”  I yelped. Her tail wagged faster.  “Lord have MERCY?”  I glanced over at my Chipper. “Dog says Mercy… is a fine name.”

Got me to thinkin….

Mercy is defined as the kind and compassionate treatment of a person under one’s power.  A disposition to be kind and forgiving.  An alleviation of distress that offers relief to another.

One of my favorite quotes is from The Merchant of Venice:  The quality of mercy is not strain’d; it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.  It is twice blest; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

One of the parables that molded my character is found in Matthew 18:21-35

21At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”22Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.  23-25“The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.  26-27“The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.  28“The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’  29-31“The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.  32-35“The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”

If you didn’t read the text, I’ll paraphrase.  A man begs his master for mercy and after he receives it, goes out and demands from another what he’s owed.

The moral of MY story.  When dog came to our house, it happened because my sweet Jena has a huge heart and did something she didn’t have to do.  She picked that dog up and with her actions said, I’ll see that you’re safe.

Each day that we’re blessed to live here on this beautiful farm, I’m thankful for the unmerited  favor given to us by the owners. We were strangers when we moved in but, their hearts and our trial…turned us into friends.

Greater still, I see the HAND of OUR FATHER, though we have done nothing worthy enough to obtain it, HE never grows weary of extending HIS MERCY!

FISH are FRIENDS, not FOOD! Shark Infested Waters

Did you see the adorable Finding Nemo? Remember Bruce, the Australian Shark, who reminded his buddies that  FISH ARE FRIENDS not FOOD? It was the perfect example as I contemplated how to go about writing Shark Infested Waters. A big shout out to Atlanta’s, Bishop Eddie Long. NOT!  As if those of us in the fishbowl bowl aren’t food for fodder..we didn’t need help from you.

My statements may offend, but this is the way it is..I’ve met more people than the average person my age. Sometimes I wish GOD’S plan had been for us to settle in Mayberry, U.S.A., live in the same house, on the same street, with the same neighbors for my lifetime, but, that’s NOT what HE planned, so I don’t waste my time pining for What Might Have Been Land. What I’ve learned from my travels & experiences is, not all church people are nice people. I’m not judging; their conduct does it for them. If you’ve been involved in a church more than a month, you know it’s true.

Speaking of telling the truth..there are people who can’t keep a bridle on their tongues even if they try! I’m not putting myself above talking when I need to hush, but, as a general rule, I learned a long time ago..there are church mice in every church who hang around til the lights go out, hoping to get a tidbit they can scurry home with to share with the rest of the family.  That behavior is unbecoming and the Bible warns us not to use our tongues this way.

I grew up hearing; there is no such thing as a little white lie.  Agreed.  Little WHITE LIES are a sin and nobody should tell them.  But, I’m here to dispel the sin is sin…lies are lies…but a BLACK LIE is a greater offense. Search the scripture & you’ll find a list of  SEVEN THINGS GOD hates, the ABOMINATIONS.  Most church people can’t list the seven. They know some of the ten commandments & so they mention lying, stealing and murder. EVERY church should study the SEVEN.

A worthless person, a wicked man, is he (or she) who goes about with a perverse (contrary,wayward) mouth; He (or she) winks with his eyes, shuffles his feet, He (or she) points with his fingers (to mislead and deceive); Willful and contrary in his (or her) heart, he (or she) devises trouble,vexation and evil, continually, He (or she) lets loose discord and sows it.  Therefore upon him (or her) shall the crushing weight of calamity come suddenly, Suddenly he (or she) shall be broken without remedy.

These six things the LORD hates, YES, seven are an abomination to HIM: A proud look (spirit that makes one overestimate oneself and underestimate others), a lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that manufactures wicked thoughts and plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who breathes out lies (even under oath), And one who sows discord among his breathren.  PROVERBS CHAPTER 6…Read it in its entirety, it will do you good!

THERE’S a reason we should study the WHOLE truth of GOD and not pick and choose.  We are told a couple of verses on down to bind GOD’S words to our hearts and tie it around our necks. It says we should KNOW GOD’S WORD so thoroughly that when we sleep, it will keep us and when we wake, it will talk to us.  I LOVE THAT!

Idle gossip is wrong, it’s sin…but, gossip is not always lies, it can be true, but it’s information that we have no business spreading.  We need to be reminded to DO UNTO OTHERS as you would have them DO UNTO YOU …. enough said. I stand to say that TELLING BLACK LIES is a serious offense..not for the one lied about, because GOD’S WORD promises that HE’LL avenge wrongs done to HIS children. I say woe to the one who stands in GOD’S HOUSE and lies on a brother or a sister, and when confronted in the manner that GOD’S WORD instructs us to confront a liar, that person tries to do it half way; secretly confessing to the one or ones offended, but never telling anyone else that they made the admission, thus leaving the church waters murky with their lies.

The reason I brought up how many people I’ve known in my lifetime is so that I’d have a reasonable comparison chart. Without bogging down in the sand, let me sum it up like this..I’ve had my fair share of dealings with the church gossips.  But, when it gets down to it, Chatty Pattys are usually good people who are loved, in spite of themselves.  Everybody knows that these dear souls don’t mean to hurt anyone on purpose…they just don’t do secrets.

I had fun looking up shark species when I started this piece.  It reminded me of a popular illustration that went around years ago where the speaker would pull out all kinds of potatoes to represent personalities in the church. One glance and you’ll understand why a WRITER who minored in drama would find this enthralling! TIGER SHARKS,  ANGELS, HAMMER HEADS, BONNET HEADS, MEGA MOUTHS, NURSE SHARKS, BASKING SHARKS, BULL HEADS,  WEASEL SHARKS, SLEEPER SHARKS, and the most feared of all, GREAT WHITE KILLER SHARKS.  One thing I found  fascinating about them- they work together to feed..I never knew that! All I had to go on was JAWS and that bad boy owned the ocean!

I’ve encountered about every kind of shark out there….I’ll tell you about a few of those attacks but the ones I want to focus most on are KILLER sharks,  those willing to annihilate whoever is in their way in order to survive.

I’ve only seen the killer sharks on three occasions…I want to tell you about one attack at length….explain how the waters were at the time, where we were swimming, and what provoked the Killer SHARK to come in for the kill.  This shark had been swimming in the same waters for years and years…so, I had no reason to think we were in such dire straits.  I was wrong. Very… very wrong.

JEALOUSY, that green eyed monster, as old as Cain and Abel, had begun to feed that shark and some of the others who swam with it. I knew the sharks were circling closer and closer to the shore…I’d seen their activity with my own eyes. But, I didn’t stay out of the water..and not only that, but I allowed my twenty four year old, daughter to wade into what I knew was dangerous territory, right beside of me. I found out that fateful SUNDAY why:  In shark infested waters, you don’t GO SWIMMING AT DUSK.

Shark Waters is a five part series available upon request, until I upgrade my FREE blog space-I’m running out of paper space! 😀

It’s too STRESSFUL to RELAX!

For me, relaxing really isn’t very relaxing.  I have to work at doing nothing.  You have no idea how much restraint it takes for me to leave the dishes in the sink until after the company is gone!  My poor family can’t even finish their meal before I’m clearing the table.  They eat with one hand while holding onto their glass with the other!

I don’t know why, but it’s a painstaking ordeal for me to overlook scattered papers around my Chipper’s chair or the unmade bed in our foster daughter, Tammy’s, room.

Yet, those same two who irk me with papers and unmade beds are thoughtful enough to unload the dishwasher almost everyday…and how do I say thanks? By getting up in the middle of the night to redo what they’ve already done, I know…that’s not really saying thanks at all, is it?

Please don’t tell them, but, I kind of wish they’d just let me do it.  That way, I wouldn’t have to get up in the middle of the night when they’re both sound asleep and redo it.  See, I like all the green glasses to line up, then the gold ones, and the clear ones go on the outside.  And, you buy matching cups for a reason..so that they match in the cabinet.  Don’t even get me started on the silverware!  Those trays made for silverware are divided for a reason….why, oh why, don’t they understand that long forks and short forks are entirely different utensils?

I don’t mean to seem ungrateful for their help, but, it’s hard to figure out why, if they’re going to do it anyway, they don’t just do it right.  Why?  Because what’s right to me…doesn’t seem right to them.  If the truth be known, they probably think it’s wrong for me to expect everything to be done right.

You know what?  Inflicting my peculiar ways and obsessions on anybody but me causes me and them a lot of undo stress.  Why do I start an argument over a trivial thing like hanging the bath towels over the towel racks as opposed to over the tub?

The very people I’d lay my life down for are usually the very ones that I give “what for” most often.  That’s wrong and sad that I’m more likely to accept unacceptable behavior from a stranger, than I am my own flesh and blood.

We’d have a lot more harmony in our homes, if we’d just let the little things go sometimes.  My personality traits are just that..mine.  And, my Chipper’s are his…and Jena’s are hers…and Joshua’s are his…and my mother’s are hers….and my father in law’s are his… and Tammy’s are hers….perhaps if I could remember that, long suffering and self control wouldn’t be so difficult.

I have a bad habit of nit picking about stuff that irritates me…and the main irritation is that I’m the only one whose irritated.  You know those fruits of the Spirit talked about in Galatians?  Well, the self control and long suffering varieties are my lemons.  But, I found out a long time ago that unless I got a handle on those two, it was going to be an uphill battle to grow the rest.

How can I possibly exemplify goodness, kindness, gentleness, joy, peace, and love…if I’m always criticizing and finding fault with everything someone else does?  How can I walk in the Spirit, if I’m angry, stressed out and unable to relax?  It’s hard to exude any joy when I’m so tense and uptight that I can’t even sit down and enjoy a conversation without fretting over the dishes.

So, I’ve been working harder at “relaxing” and slowly, but surely I really have seen progress.  For going on a week now, when I wake up at my normal time, 3am, instead of tiptoeing down the stairs, turning on the stove light and dish by dish, rearranging the cabinets, I’ve refrained from my longstanding ritual.  Let me tell you.. it’s a nightmare to lie awake in the dark, imagining all those cups randomly sitting in the cupboard.  It takes every ounce of strength I can muster to stay put….it’s more work not to work…than it ever was to get up and work!  I still wake up but, I haven’t been getting up.  At least I’m climbing upwards instead of slipping backwards.

Today, I was about to make a snippy remark about the bazillion papers that my Chipper had strewn at his end of the couch, but, guess what?  I walked right on by! Yes I surely did!

And you know what?  When I walked past them without nagging my husband, I won a round in my battle with long suffering and self control.  I fixed myself a cup of tea, grabbed a Better Homes and Gardens and headed to the deck, giving myself high fives and a round of silent applause.

And, the most wonderful thing happened.  My Chipper noticed my restraint. He came to the door and gave me a thumbs up.  You should’ve seen that grin on his face.  It was like a domino effect..by choosing to avoid an unnecessary quarrel, I not only got a gold star for long suffering and self control but love, peace, joy, kindness, goodness, gentleness…just sort of fell into place. 😀

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