Strawberry Lipstick

David R. Denny

From the Schoolhouse

Revlon Strawberry Suede Matte Lipstick

She painted on a blank canvass.  Lacking the proper brushes, she pulled out, instead, a dangerous tube of strawberry lipstick. Holding it up to the fluorescent hall light, she stared at it muttering dark things and looking pleased.  Then she dragged her victim to a corner of the 8th grade hallway beside the keyboarding room door.  She forced him to his knees and ordered compliance.  The victim shuddered anticipating the ritual, knowing its consequences.  

“Are you ready?” she growled.

He looked up at her and nodded, his eyes half closed, his jaw set for the humiliation to come.

“Very well,” she said like a mystic in a moonlit olive grove.  “Pucker!” she ordered.

He did so grimacing, searching his soul for meaning.

The first stroke hit his lower lip leaving strawberry scorch marks like a race car on a hot track.  She stood back and mused, plotting her next stroke.  Then she attacked the top lip making multiple passes, coloring outside the lines, leaving her marks with utter disdain.

After a few more dalliances, she ordered him to stand and then taking his hand, they waltzed off to lunch with him giggling.

From the Pulpit

Nehemiah had it made.  He was the king’s most trusted administrator.  The year was somewhere near 445 B.C.Artaxerxes was the king of Persia.  Nehemiah was his cupbearer, a dangerous but elevated position.  And so Nehemiah had it made.  As long as he never sipped poisonous wine, he could live the regal life of the palace.  But then his brother came calling from Jerusalem and everything changed.  When he told Nehemiah about the burnt gates of the once majestic city and its broken down walls, his spirit broke and he wept openly.  That was when he became a visionary, a quality I hope all of us develop.  He began to look at the world differently. He saw the pain of a distant land and hurting people, and he decided to go home and rebuild the city.  

From the Pews

I stood at the pulpit Sunday and looked out over a congregation that seemed to roll endlessly on into a distant mist of sorrow and pain.  So many weeping eyes before me.  So many mourners packed shoulder to shoulder saying goodbye to Tiffany.  I’ve done many funerals in my ministry, but this one was exceptional in its intensity, in the bonds of camaraderie that seemed to lock the family, friends, and locals into one dark oasis of tragedy.

I would like to thank Rev. John Cullup for assisting me with the service.   Carl, the funeral director was also kind and helpful.  And to all of my members who shaped and guided the affairs of the service, I give you all thanks as well.

My prayers are with Mark, Ross, Brandon, Joe and JoAnn, Wendy and all the other family members who will be grieving for many days to come.  

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Bulletin Board Pearls

From the Schoolhouse

string-of-pearls-4_2738113
It started with one pearl.
I call it a pearl; it was really just a little note of appreciation from one of my students.  She had torn a small sheet of paper from my notepad and scrawled out a simple message that said I was her favorite teacher and that she loved me. (Kids get a bit sentimental when the year crawls to the finish line).

I put the pearl on my bulletin board, stared at it for a second or two, smiled and then went on back to work.  But the next time I came to the board, there was another pearl, discreetly tacked beside the first.  This one, written by another student, claimed I was “the best teacher in the school.”  I stood somewhat in awe, like a soldier before a revered monument of the past.  I felt a tinge of nostalgia.  It had been a pleasant year with its natural ups and downs.  But it was ending forever for me.  There would be no more morning announcements to ignore, no more joy over the 20-minute lunch we teachers carve out in the middle of a harried day.  No more progress reports, calls to parents, referrals, sleeping students, lesson plans.  No more.  It was all ending and what was left?  Just this budding string of pearls on the wall.

A Persian legend says that pearls were created when a rainbow touched the earth after a storm.  Here in my humble little school room, the rainbow was touching the earth and the pearls were gathering.  

I remember flipping off the lights at the end day after staring at the few pearls and then walking out of the building with a tinge of sadness.  The next day, though, the rainbow kept sparking more pearls.  More kids wrote their thoughts and tacked them to the board.  

I have stripped my walls to the cinder blocks now.  SOL testing requires such drastic action.  I tore all the Amendments down.  I retired the Preamble poster.  I shooed the donkey and the elephant away.  

But I left the pearls.  Even state regulations have their limits.

 

From the Pulpit

We celebrated mothers last Sunday.  The text was Proverbs 31.  I have heard feminists hate this text since it seems to lock all women into a home-maker box.  But in reality, this was nothing more than an ancient Jewish poem.  Each verse, beginning with verse 10, opens with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  The poem sings of virtue, strength, determination–traits that can apply to all people.  However, the context applies them to an upper-class Jewish woman who strives to achieve greatness in her little world among her children and with a supportive husband.  

   In the year 1498, a young 24-year old Michelangelo began work on a commission by the French Cardinal Jean de Bilhères,.  He carved from a block of marble the mother Mary holding the slain body of her son.  When I first saw this at St. Peter’s Basilica years ago, I was stunned at how lifelike it was.  

I imagined our text as a block of marble and as I chipped away at it I gradually saw the strong woman-mother appear with virtues of love, patience, independence and determination gradually appear.  These are the very traits I see in mothers today.

From the Pews

  • A number of attendance figures emerged Sunday following the huge funeral the week before.  Some noted that the church had over 400 squeezed into the pews and spilling out of the doors onto the streets.  Others thought the count to be closer to 500 with many people merely driving on past the throng at the church to the cemetery site.  Whatever the count, it is heartwarming to know that so many people loved and cared about Tiffany and Mark.
  • It started with a few drips over the pulpit and then a few more and then, well, it poured through the roof.  The emergency disaster team of Mark Mize and Tommy Hines launched into action to save the day.  They swooped and cleaned up the water that had spilled into the first few rows of the sanctuary.  Roof repairs have been ordered and hopefully,  all will be well soon.  But special thanks to those who helped with the cleanup.

Midnight Spade

From the Schoolhouse

I saw her from a distance as I rode the mule slowly forward.
She fluttered in the soft moonlight, her arms swaying in a cool breeze.  Every day for fifteen years I had passed beside her on my way to the school door.  Each day I had greeted her with a smile and each day she had returned the glance.  

I tied my steed to a small tree nearby and stumbled forward in the dark much like Nehemiah had done on his midnight ride through the rubble of Jerusalem. Her rutted feet projected through the hard soil.  They exuded a silent strength that had withstood all the storms and vicissitudes of life.  She stood unapologetically before me, proud, strong, inspiring.  

I had decided long ago that on my last day of school, I would take her with me.  My plan was simple and daring:  I would sneak in one night at midnight when the school was in a deep sleep, and when no one was looking I would abduct her.  It would not be pretty.  She would protest of course, but that could not be helped.  I had to have her.  

I kept the plan secret, telling no one.  Only the mule knew listening in on my midnight discourse to the wind as I plodded along the side trails to get here.  But he wouldn’t talk.  

With shovel in hand, I studied her profile wondering where the spade would strike first. I knew there would be consequences, but they could not be avoided.  Call it a criminal act if you wish.  It was not so to me.  Holding the shovel high in the air with both hands ready to plunge it into the dirt beneath her protesting arms, I made my peace with the venture hoping she would understand.

Then the spade hit the dirt.

shovel

Forms

From the Schoolhouse

The form was simple and straightforward.  
I created it quickly.  It said, “pIck one item in Dr. Denny’s room that you would like to take with you when school ends.  Tell why you want it and why you deserve it.”
Kids fanned out scrambling to find the best bargain.  There were dragons, a huge green fish, a Cat in the Hat stuffed doll, a big rabbit holding a welcome sign.  I had movies, books, trinkets of all descriptions, pretty wax candles with ambrosial scents, clocks, pumpkins, a Spiderman poster, a tall lamp, a brand new never used ancient cassette player in a pristine box etc.
As the kids jockeyed and pushed to find the best yard sale bargains, one tall, smart girl remained in the corner plotting.  She was one of my best students holding an A average without even trying.  She never said much, but when she did talk to me she was quick and witty with a sly smile that I loved.  We would go back and forth with our dry remarks trying to get the other to break into laughter.

While the other kids argued over the fish and the dragon, she strolled nonchalantly  up to my desk and tossed her form into the air watching it flutter onto the pile of other wish list forms like a Shenandoah leaf tumbling from a top branch into the valley.  She didn’t say anything.  She just shot me a dry grin and sashayed back to her corner.

“Did you find something you like?” I asked over the din in the room.
“Yeah,” she said laconically as if her choice meant nothing to her.
“Well, what did you choose?” I tried to avoid whatever trap she might be setting.
She smiled.  “Just read it,” she said leaning against the wall in the corner as if she was beneath a city lamp pole at midnight.  The form said simply:

Name–Samantha  Class–2B
Item desired–
Dr. Denny
Why I want this item–
He would be fun to have in high school.
Why I deserve this item:
This question is irrelevant.
I had to laugh.  I yelled across the room.  “I have a great brand new cassette player you could have if you want to swap for something practical.”

She stared thoughtfully at me like I was a twinkling trinket in a jewelry store window.  “No,  I’m quite happy with my decision.”

Conversation

Observation #15

From the Schoolhouse

Kaja tucked the bear into a small student desk right next to me.  She whispered a few strange instructions to him and then waddled off on urgent business.  It was still early and the morning students had not yet entered the building.  The room was quiet except for my radio playing softly.  The bear didn’t seem to mind.

It was a little awkward at first.  The bear wasn’t a skilled conversationalist.  I tried not to stare.  He was huge, his paunch puckering up against the rim of the desk.  He seemed uncomfortable, but I figured Kaja knew what she doing when she stuck him there.

I could tell right off he wasn’t interested in Civics.  The class textbook was right there in front of him and he wasn’t showing any compulsion to dissect the intricacies of the Judicial Branch.

After about ten minutes, I was more and more impressed.  I could tell he was a deep thinker, a trait woefully absent among so many modern students.  He had an uncanny ability to focus, locking his stare upon the unseen possibilities of whatever issue he was currently dealing with.  He never once asked to use the bathroom, and he didn’t seem to require earphones or endless streams of rockabilly lyrics.

I had just decided to parcel out a little praise when Kaja came barreling back into the room.  She plopped her books on the desk beside the bear, swooped him into her arms and waltzed off into the hall.

I felt guilty that I had not at least tried to speak to him earlier while I had the chance.  I guess there’s a valuable lesson there somewhere.

 

From the Pulpit

We visited our last church Sunday.  Laodicea was a wealthy ancient city about 100 miles east of Ephesus where our journey began, and I suspect some of that wealth had seeped into the fabric of the church.  The Lord seems to chide them for depending too much on their money and gold and too little upon Him  “Buy some gold tested by fire,” He told them.  This city was so rich that after a devastating earthquake in the year 69, the leaders of the city merely dug into their rainy day fund and rebuilt the city with cash.

The Lord loved them (Rev. 3:19), but still castigated the church for being “lukewarm” an epithet that seemed to categorize their religious apathy and dependence upon the luxuries of life in Laodicea. He went on to say, using a rare Greek word, that He was going to “spit” or better “vomit” them from His mouth. That’s a pretty vivid and drastic measure that none us would want to experience.

 

From the Pew

I was so surprised Sunday when several ladies approached me with bags of home-cooked meals prepared to help Alice with her cooking duties.   There were stews and soups and a variety of delicious breads.  I can assure all of the good Samaritans that every morsel and drop was consumed with delight and thankfulness.  It meant so much to both of us that so many cared enough to anticipate this need.  It just reaffirms our belief that the Drummondtown Baptist Church is a wonderful place to serve.

Blackboard Greek

From the Schoolhouse

The SOL test was over and the kids were just chatting quietly waiting for lunch.  I was tired and a little bored.  Without saying a word, I just went to the blackboard and wrote three words in Greek.  Then I sat down.  The kids were whispering. I could hear them.  They couldn’t figure it out.  Finally, someone asked, “What language is that?”

“Greek,” I said.

A few kids came closer to the board, studying the swirls of the mysterious language. I was amazed that after three hours of writing on an English prompt they had any inquisitiveness left at all.  Still, they persisted.

“What does it mean?” asked one boy scratching his head.  The others gathered around closely, huddling like I was about to announce the final play in a hard-fought football game.

I hesitated.  I hadn’t predicted this outcome, and now I stood on the brink.  I glanced at the clock thinking it might yelp that lunch was ready.  But it didn’t.  It was just me and the boys in a tight huddle waiting breathlessly for the play.

The words were weighted with a religious message I had never intended to disclose.  It was just a random act in a moment of ennui.  I wrote three Greek words that had meaning to me.  But they were silent and secret.

Until now.  Now, they waited.  Now I hesitated.

I was like the ancient Fangshi Chinese masters who knew where the secret mushrooms grew on Mt.Penglai, the ones that bestowed eternal life to the initiated.   I had written Greek.  I knew the secret.

So, I bent low in the huddle and whispered the secret words scribbled in Greek high on the chalkboard;

God is love.

From the Pulpit

We traversed a lot of territory Sunday stopping first at the Trevi Fountain in Rome and then ambling over to Herod’s Temple.  It took 32 years to complete the Trevi Fountain which was conceived and started in 1730 by Nicola Salvi.  But it took 80 years to complete the exquisite temple complex in Jerusalem.  Neither Salvi nor Herod lived to see their prized projects.  Our text this Sunday (Mark 14) introduced us to an impoverished little widow who stood meekly in line within the Court of the Women in the temple to give her contribution to God.  The wealthy donors put their money in the trumpet shaped treasury boxes listening to the coins sing as they traveled down the chute to the box.  The little widow only had two coins, the two smallest coins in the Roman world called prutahs.  They were worthless coins, but they were all she had.  And it was her contribution that an observing Jesus took note of, summoning his disciples over to hear Him sing her praise.

From the Pews

I’m still pondering the Visitor who waltzed into the sanctuary Sunday morning.

It went something like this:  I had just started the sermon waxing eloquently about the Trevi Fountain and the ritual of tossing a few coins over the shoulder to win a romantic gift from the heavens when the Visitor strolled in.  It was a majestic entrance.  She paused for effect at the center aisle adjusting her tiara and royal multicolored scarf.  She was a squat, thick-boned African American woman whom I can only assume was a bit disoriented.  She scanned the audience looking for safe ground. Still unsure, she waddled forth with a measure of uncertainty and sat down heavily in the center right section of the sanctuary.

At this point I was confused, nonplussed over this apparent heavenly response to the coin toss I had just made at the Trevi Fountain. I had hoped for a rejuvenation of my already established romance, but now I wondered if my coins got scrambled in the mists of the Fountain and sent to the wrong celestial address–5 Golden Street ℅ New Romances instead of 7 Golden Street ℅ Continuing Romances.  As I was trying to sort this out while maintaining my pulpit composure I noticed from the corner of my eye that she was getting restless.  This, in turn, made me restless and just as I was about to have a final prayer, dismiss early and run for the hills, she rose like an ocean swell her cape fluttering in the breeze and glanced my way.  We made eye contact for one memorable second, a second forever seared into my memory, a moment in time pregnant with possibilities and then she turned and galloped toward the exit disappearing into the mists of time, forever a mystery.

The Apology

From the Schoolhouse

She approached me nervously in the middle of class, and I expected a new round of fireworks. She had tried to embarrass me in front of all the kids a few weeks ago.  Her charges were unfounded but nonetheless unleashed with a fury that belied her small stature.   Her public vitriol came out of nowhere like a bolt from the angry hand of Zeus.  I had no quarrel with her at all.  None.  And yet she had erupted and the air still seemed darkly clouded these few weeks later.  She had stopped coming to my class since the barrage, and frankly, I was happy for the respite.

And now she suddenly appeared out of the mist curling her little finger, summoning me to the hall outside the door–away from the others. I agreed and followed still befuddled about the whole incident unable to find the cause for the effect.

She was alone.  Before, the day she flung the bolt, she had gathered a small cadre of supporters who had backed her up, who had fueled the warrior within her.  Now she stood a little forlorn–alone.

Before I could say anything, she looked up at me, lips quivering, searching for some verbal key that would unlock the prison doors. And then the apology came with a sweet simplicity.  The words had a measured cadence laden with sincerity, but nonetheless difficult to release. She struggled, but she did it.  She apologized.

I immediately stuck out my hand.  We shook.  I told her I was proud of her for the courage to come and say these words.  And then with such ease, she shed the mantle of Zeus, discarded her quiver of bolts, and skipped off down the hall happy again.

From the Pulpit

I was impressed Sunday morning to learn that everyone still remembered their multiplication tables.  My sermon had quite a bit of math and I was just testing everyone’s core knowledge on the subject.  Pretty sharp group!  I still haven’t figured out how the math of the text worked itself out.  We had two fish and five loaves and 200 denarii (the cost of the meal if the disciple’s purchased it) and 5000 men standing by the lake hungry and 12 baskets of leftovers.  Now that’s some math.  I guess that’s where we’re just going to have the use the word ‘miracle’.  (Do; you believe in miracles)?

It had been quite a day for Jesus and the disciples.  They had just heard the news of John the Baptist’s beheading by Herod.  And so the Master urged them all to join Him at a “lonely place” on the other side of the Sea of Galilee to recover and grieve.  But the masses heard about it and rushed to meet them there.  So much for rest.  And then the math started.

From the Pew

As I was shaking hands before the service started I noticed Diane Sterling had a couple of grandkids sitting in little bundles beside her. (My eyes aren’t that good).  Are those kids?  I paused and tried to focus because the bundles were a bit lumpy and formless.  That’s when I was glad I had not asked her to introduce me.  Sitting snuggled up next to her were several netted bags of plastic Easter eggs.  Huge bags.  Scores of eggs.  That’s when I put it all together.  Diane had invited everyone over to her place in April for the annual Easter egg hunt and these were the eggs she had purchased for the occasion.  Special thanks to the Sterling family for hosting this event.  (You just never know what you might see in a church pew).

 

Thanks, Linda Nyborg for your delicious chicken dish.  It was perfect on a cold night.

The Dennys

 

See all of you soon.

Dr. Denny

Memories

From the Schoolhouse

Each day the ceiling drops a little, and the walls constrict incrementally.

Each day the search for meaning becomes more frantic and chaotic.

Each day, when the kids have left, and the classroom spindrift calms, I remember.

And the memories are sweet with a bitter aftertaste.  For I know, now they will never come again, and all that is left for a harried teacher is the stale crust of data, hard to chew, harder to digest.

Sometimes I let the lights flicker off, the room only lit by a distant incandescent glow from a cheap Wallmart lamp in the corner, and in that soft halo I see their faces from my early days of teaching:  Mary, James, the twins, Marco.   Their laughter, like warm hands clasped on a saunter around a summer lake, leads me into the world they claim.  The world they need.  And I go willingly for it is a place that summons me as well.  And when I arrive I am able to dream again and smell the honeysuckle that dribbles down a sultry tree trunk.

I search daily for a key.  I cannot find it.  I see the closed door, but I cannot locate the key.  And so I resign myself to huddle in the room where the ceiling drops a little, and the walls constrict incrementally.

And I am happy because I have the memories.

And I am happy because I feel their hands in mine and see the lake trail where joyous moments await.

And I am defeated because all that is left is data.

David R. Denny  Ph.D.

 

From the Pulpit

We gathered at the river last Sunday.  The Jordan begins as a humble stream in the far North beneath the shoulders of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains.  From there it trickles down to the Dead Sea, gaining momentum and power, the descent dramatic until it hits its nadir at 400 feet below sea level–the level of the great Dead Sea.

It was here on the banks of the little river that we witnessed history fold in upon itself–Before the river–After the river.  Jesus announced Himself to the world formally here at this time.  After cajoling John to baptize Him (John didn’t want to do it feeling inadequate for such a task), John surrendered, and when the sacrament was complete, the world trembled and was never the same.  As we proceed through the Lenten season, let’s remember this moment in time when Jesus publically announced His presence and purpose.

 

From the Pew

 

As the worship hour faded quietly into a Sunday afternoon, I noticed there were quite a few folks gathered around the piano in the front of the sanctuary.  Dale Parks was playing the piano as the choir sang “What Can I Give to Jesus?”  It was a pleasant reverie following the morning service, and I stopped gathering my possessions, preparing for my long drive home.  The arrangement called for the choir to sing the song ‘softly, as a prayer’.  I stood in a sweet trance, not disturbing the seance, letting the melody and the mood carry me.  When the choir paused for further instruction from the maestro, they saw me.

“It sounds so beautiful,” I said complimenting them.  That was all it took.  Within seconds I was snared and compelled to join.  A book surfaced from the creases of the pews, and before I could surreptitiously retreat, I was sitting in the front row singing, “Oh,–what can I give to Jesus, Who gave Himself for me? …”

I didn’t mind.  In fact, it was the perfect ending to the gathering at the river.

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Board of Education

From the Schoolhouse

I went to the principal’s office on Thursday!

It brought back memories of the one time in high school I was summoned by Mr. Travis for misbehaving in Chemistry class.  He stood 5 feet four inches tall.  I was six feet six.  He weighed in at 147 and I was a lean 190.  He wasn’t much into conversation.  He let Betsy do the talking.

Betsy was the two-foot paddle hanging ceremoniously like an Indian scalp on his office wall.  This threesome–Travis, Denny, and Betsy was an unholy trinity rising from the black mist like a tragic scene from Beowulf.

“Did you call her that?” he asked bluntly, getting to the point with ultimate efficiency.

“Yes sir,” I replied.  I  had thought of lying, but that might have angered Betsy even more.

He sauntered over to Betsy and took her off the wall.  She was lacquered to perfection with a few faint blood streaks barely visible in the cracks of the board.  “Bend over.”  He said it matter of factly like he was ordering a Whopper.

I bent over and tried to think of pleasant things like ice cream and swimming on a hot day.

Wham!  Whack!  Whizzle!

I saw stars and then I saw the light. And then it was over before I could say H2O or any other chemistry formula.

(My trip to my current principal’s office was more pleasant.  I merely asked for a week off to lay tile in the bathroom.  She agreed. No Betsy).  

 

From the Pulpit

I was never so glad to be leaving a place as I was the day I walked away from Sardis.  It was a place of death and repugnance.  The best God could utter about them was “You are dead!”  But as often happens, dark days lead on to brighter ones and such was the case here.  The storm clouds of Sardis yielded to the pleasant vistas of Philadelphia about 26 miles to the East.  This church thrived in midst of chaos.  Living on a fault line line prone to endless earthquakes, tremors, and destruction, they nevertheless found a joy and purpose in serving God and remaining faithful.  It was here that the Lord extolled the open door that exemplified this congregation.  Endless possibilities and bright tomorrows lay just beyond the door.  This was the church of dreams, and so I can declare this is the church I most admire.  The Lord had only praise for this congregation.  This will be our church here at Drummondtown.  Each day we will step up the open door and marvel at the vistas before us.

 

From the Pew

They gave me their heart.  I was so touched.

It was the last one,-creme-filled with a white jacket of fairy dust that stuck to my fingers when I touched it.  I had come in late this Sunday morning so they stared at me for a second wondering where I had been. All of the Sunday school classes were gathered for this donut and coffee delight.  I sat right down and caught up on all the talk.  I didn’t eat the heart then.  They boxed it for me.  I took it home.

I wrapped the pastry heart up in a special valentine box and handed it to Alice when I got home later that day.  She hadn’t gone with me to church this Sunday.  Not feeling well.  So naturally, I took advantage of this fact and handed her the “gift.”

“Oh, is that for me?” she asked coughing gently.

“Yes.  I got you something special.”  (I blushed.  She blushed).  It was a sweet moment.

“What is it?” she asked.  (Women are so curious).

“Oh, just a little something I picked up for you at the Onley Pastry Shop.”

She gave me a hug.  (It was going so well).

I unloosed my tie.  She unloosed the ribbon about the box.  I waited for the look.

“Oh,  David,” she gushed,  “a heart pastry.  How sweet.”  I liked the unintended pun.

“I should save it for dinner.” she sighed.  “This was so thoughtful I’m going to fix you anything you want.  Just name it.”

The catfish was seasoned perfectly with a unique Creole concoction and the freshly mashed potatoes made for a wonderful meal.

*Special request of all who attended the morning donut and coffee hour at church–Please forgive me–(Please).

 

From the Construction Zone

Just an update.  I’ve managed to completely obliterate my bathroom, bedroom complex.  I hauled away my old vanity and sink and now I am up to my knees in dust and destruction.  As soon as I learn how to operate my new spray painter that came with a 20-page booklet with small blotchy pictures of how to set the primer to the down position, etc, I will be rolling, (well, actually spraying).

 

From the Emergency Room

Alice broke her foot yesterday.  She needs two months of healing time and almost no walking about.  (I should have saved some of that catfish for later).

Pirouet

 

From the Schoolhouse5077107-model-dancing-a-pirouette-in-a-graceful-manner-with-hands-up-and-feet-straight-stock-photo

Josh pirouetted across the floor just after I began talking about the judicial branch.  Nobody paid him any mind.

That didn’t deter him from executing two mid-air leaps and a magnanimous leg kick that would have made Mikhail Baryshnikov blush with pride.  He finally fluttered to a graceful conclusion settling into a desk and clicking on his computer.

“Now, class, the judicial branch plays an important role in our government,” I said.  “As you know…”

Josh stuck two ear buds into his head and turned on some Broadway musical.

I kept going.  “We’re going to begin today by discussing just what courts really do.”

Josh rose like a slow summer squall and began the dramatic finale to Romeo and Juliet.  Tears welled in his eyes as he held his lover one last time and then drank the poison.

No one paid him any mind.

And I explained the difference between the state and federal courts.

Photo by: Dreamstime.com


From the Pulpit

We left Thyatira with high spirits.  The Lord was pleased with this congregation and gave them high marks for improvement in all aspects of their spiritual journey.

But it didn’t take long after arriving in Sardis before we were mired in the slough of despair.  The Lord spared any pleasantries with this church and instead slammed them with three devastating words, three words that still seem to echo off the lonely remaining two pillars of the Temple of Artemis that once dominated this wealthy city.   What did He say to them in a moment of heated discourse?  He said, “You are dead!” (Rev. 3:2).  (Insert Greek text here).  This chilling sentence, brief but potent, gives us all pause as we reflect upon our own lives.   Melito, the ancient church father who belonged to the Church at Sardis, came along several decades after this critical period.  He dedicated his life to restoring the church’s name.  Let’s all take inspiration from Melito and strive to live to the fullest


From the Pewdaydreams.jpg

Shelley and I compared middle school report cards after church.  We must have had the same teacher.  Her little teacher note at the bottom of the card said the same thing mine said:  squirms a lot–daydreams.

My sixth-grade teacher in Jacksonville Arkansas, Mr. Cochran, was a bona fide cowboy who tolerated daydreaming.  He seemed to understand me.  He raised and raced quarterhorses.  He gave me all kinds of valuable advice.  One day he said to the class,  “Gentlemen, always change your shoes at least once a day.  It’s good for your feet.”

I’m sure Shelley’s teacher gave equally inciteful aphorisms to guide her through the restless school afternoons.  I miss those days when squirming and dreaming kept interrupting the memorization of the times tables.

It’s comforting to know I wasn’t the only daydreamer sitting behind a wooden desk.  And by the way,  just what exactly did your teacher write about you?  Let me know.  I won’t laugh.  (LOL).

Artwork by: https://www.neonmob.com