Cambridge’s: Yes I Care

Things progressed nicely after that, I was smitten with your Mother, and now she was smitten with me. I was care free in those days, thinking I had all the time in the world. We were falling in love, but now that we were dating, I wasn’t in any hurry. We were both in college, and we were both very busy.

Finally, a few months in to our courtship, my friend asked me two questions. “What are you waiting for?” The second was, “Will she still be there when you’re ready?” That friend was our, then young, Pastor R.L. Stillwell.

I had known him since childhood, and watched with shock, then admiration, and respect as he overcame his past. He was a little older than I was. His name was Roger Lawrence, but in his early teens they said it meant Reckless and Loud.

He was pretty wild. R.L. was already involved in some dangerous things, and had been for some time. This was routine for him, until he was seventeen. His parents were struggling themselves, and they didn’t seem overly concerned. Finally, one Monday at school, his Grandmother showed up. She had driven all night to see him. She came to his class and asked the teacher to allow him to leave.

We expected that he was in trouble again, that she was going to give him a good lecture. I figured we would hear about it the next day. He came to school the next day, but he didn’t want to talk about it. He seemed different. He was quiet, but at the same time, he looked like he was filled with an anger that was trying to get out.

R.L. was that way all week long. I didn’t see him on Saturday, but then on Sunday, his Grandmother walked in our Church. R.L. followed, although he looked uncomfortable. Service progressed normally, until the Pastor began his Message. The title was “Yes I Care”. At it’s conclusion, R.L. walked to the Altar.

I was stunned, but I hadn’t know what had happened with his Grandmother. She had driven all night as I said, but not to argue with him. She took him to the best restaurant in town, and ordered his favorite meal. They had all his favorites, even two desserts.

Then she spoke to him, words first, and then tears followed. “I was praying for you last night, I always do. I know that your parents are battling, I know the problems that you have. I know you feel like you’re an afterthought, that no one cares about you, but I do. If I haven’t shown you as I should, then I’m sorry.” He hugged her, and tried to console her.

On the way home, she asked if he would come to Church with her that Sunday. He didn’t want to, but agreed. When the Pastor gave his title, he asked her if she had said something to him, she hadn’t. He was amazed that a God, that he didn’t even believe in, was telling him that he cared. Even when he felt others didn’t care, so R.L. thought he would give it a try.

Over the next few years, he completely changed, and he was now the Pastor of that Church. When I had gotten serious about Church, he was there to help me. Now, we were close, and R.L. realized that your Mother and I were on a different time table.

He warned me that if I didn’t catch up to her soon, I would face some strong competition. I listened, but drug my feet. That was when Hagar Anthony thought he could pick up the pace where I was lagging behind. He had decided that your future Mother would make him the perfect bride. I had to convince her that he was wrong.

LightYear Watercolor

We hope you enjoy our newest iPainting.  It’s the second in our “Tribute To Disney” series. It is a digital watercolor that we call LightYear.

 

Buzz LightYear TJ

140 Mile Stretch: Arrived In New York

President Alex Whittaker and his Chief Of Staff, Ned ‘Medic’ Richards, were walking in the rose garden. “How did you know it was really him?” The President laughed. “For one thing, he matched the painting. For another, he said Skylark.” Medic shivered. “If you don’t mind, don’t ever answer that question for me again. I’ve tried very hard to forget Skylark.”

Elsewhere Tom was tired. He had spent the last four days on the run, he didn’t know how many were watching, just that they were watching. The three remaining members of the group had now went in separate directions. Phyllis was in place in 1918. Virginia was in Andover, Massachusetts. If you could believe either of them. Tom was in New York City, he was a house guest of an absent old friend.

He knew that they couldn’t take him there, it was too dangerous. That was one reason that he came to his operative’s home. They would just assume he was seeking safety with the other house guest, who was just a bedroom over. Tom missed the electricity, and running water, but it was a small price to pay. The Osgood House was safe, at least as long as President Washington was staying there.

Cameron was out of pocket, and Tom hoped, off the radar. They had followed him for the first few days, until they switched tactics and came for Tom. Minnix was confused, but he wouldn’t be for long. There was a knock at the door. “Sir, a Colonel Taylor to see you.” “Send him in.”

A man entered soon after, but it wasn’t Cameron. “Hello Tom, did you think that I wouldn’t find you?” Tom winced, it was Sykes. “I knew you would find me. I just wasn’t convinced you would be brave enough to walk in here. My fellow house guest is something of a national treasure.”

“You and your operative think hiding among Washington and Lincoln will help you? If anything, that makes you more vulnerable. If you wanted to hide, you should have picked some uneventful time period. Minnix expected more from you.” Tom grinned. “I know that he did. That’s why we’re here.”

“Let me guess. This was all part of some plan you had to stop him?” Tom smiled as smoke filled the room. “No, this was my way of stalling until my plan was under way. You may act well, but you think poorly. If you had stopped to think, you would have realized something.” Sykes was unimpressed. “Is this where I realize I’m in trouble?” Tom whispered as they both disappeared. “No, this is where Minnix realizes, I made it to New York!”

Thanksgiving In June

“I want a 25 lb turkey, do you have one?”  John McKee almost laughed in the customer’s face.  There were only two things that stopped him.  One, it was against store policy.  The second was for a much more important reason.  It was his Grandmother, Hilda Klein.  You didn’t laugh at Hilda Klein.

Instead he said something almost as dangerous.  “Grandma, you can’t afford a 25 lb turkey!”  She was five foot one, cotton white hair, blue eyes, gray glasses.  Her weight, while unknown, was pronounced.  She was dressed in her best clothing.  To anyone else, she would have failed to intimidate, but this was family.

She raised herself up to her total height, looked him straight in the eye, and quietly said.  “John Francis McKee, do not proceed to tell me what I can or cannot afford.  I will ask you once more, do you have a 25 lb turkey?”  He nodded quickly, and within three minutes time, was carrying it out to her car for her.

“I’ll expect you, your fiance, and your siblings at my house tomorrow at 2:00 in the afternoon.”  This stopped him in his tracks.  “Grandma, tomorrow’s a Tuesday, I can’t get out of work.” 

“Oh yes you can.  I spoke to your supervisor’s manager on the way in.  While he was arguing with me, he received a call from the store’s owner.  Just for his impertinence, you have three days off with pay.  You’ve worked plenty  hard, enjoy it.”

The next day, all 27 members of the Klein family, plus 18 extended members were present.  Grandpa Ezekiel looked as if he was a deer in headlights.  As amazing a woman as she was, he couldn’t believe that she had accomplished it. 

The entire family heard something in the living room.  They went in to see Grandma working the VCR remote like a pro.  You would hardly imagine she was 82.  The television’s sound was elevated louder than normal to get everyone’s attention.  Suddenly, the Macy’s Day parade was on the screen.  What made this so surprising was the calendar.  It read, not incorrectly, June 17. 

Finally, Laura, her oldest could take no more.  “Mom, what’s this all about?”  Grandma smiled.  “This past year was the toughest that our family has ever went through.  From your Michael’s surgery to John’s accident, to your brother Harry’s job, it’s been hard.”

“We needed a little something to pick up everyone’s mood.  Since it was too early for Christmas in July, I went for Thanksgiving In June.”  Sally, your six year old helped me tape it last November.  I wanted to see what I had missed by cooking.  I saved it.”

That was the memory John smiled at as he mailed the package.  It had been twenty five years now, but it had become a family tradition.  At the end of that dinner, Grandma had given the wishbone to his Uncle Harry.

She had said.  “We don’t believe in lucky charms in this family.  God has, is, and always will take care of us.  So take this, not as a good luck charm, it never did the bird any good.  Take it as a reminder that no matter how bad it is, we have hope.  We have food on our table, family beside us, and a future in front of us. Hope in God, and work happy.  Use it as a plow not a wishbone.  It’s the same shape.”

Uncle Harry did just that.  When his son Wendell was struggling in school, he carved a wishbone out of a tree, and painted it white.  That afternoon he gave it to him.  It was passed along in the family from one member to the other over the years.

John received it last August when he had his heart attack.  Now, it was going to his sister Sally.  She and her husband had just adopted a child in need of a good home.  He figured they could use the encouragement.

Grandma, who lived on a fixed income, couldn’t afford that extra Thanksgiving meal.  John found out later that she had been saving for a new living room set.  While she was far from even enough money for a love seat, they all sat down to a house filled with love.

Whether it was June or November, she knew it was always time for Thanksgiving.  Time, not for the meal she used to illustrate it, but time to be thankful.  Grandma taught them not to focus on the setbacks, but The God that set them up.  Her last two sentences on the subject that afternoon were his favorite, “Obstacles don’t stop you, outlooks do.  Hearts filled with Thanksgiving produce eyes full of possibilities!”

 

Dr Ed Makes A House Call

The following is our fourth article in our Edification Series. My Father taught me that some of the best lessons are injected with laughter. This gave birth to the character of Dr. Ed, our Surgeon General Of Encouragement. We hope you enjoy his prescription for combatting worry today.

You’re all familiar with my brain’s resident encourager, Dr. Ed. By now, you are also expecting a trip to his studio, but not this time. Today Dr. Ed made a house call.

“Are you going to stand there with your mouth open, or ask me in?” I was in shock, I didn’t expect my daydreams to be interrupted by my smiling friend. “Of course, come in. Why are you here?” “I’m making a house call, you were daydreaming.”

He walked past me and laid his bag on the table. It wasn’t your typical physician’s bag, it looked like a large red velvet carpet bag. He pulled a stethoscope out and listened to my heart. “A murmur.” I blinked, then laughed. “How can a fictional doctor diagnose a heart murmur?”

He smiled back. “You were daydreaming.” I sighed, I was avoiding the obvious. The minute he had said daydreaming, I knew why he was there. The daydream was a pleasant experience, until a hint of worry reared it’s ugly head, that was the murmur.

“What have we said about worry Timothy?” “That it is unproductive, unnecessary, and very human.” He nodded. “True. Let us consider the symptom prior to the cure. The strongest Christian will face trouble, and we will have times of stress. Medically speaking, ‘A functional murmur or “physiologic murmur,” is a heart murmur that is primarily due to physiologic conditions outside the heart, as opposed to structural defects in the heart itself. Functional murmurs are benign (an “innocent murmur”).'”

He paused, took out something from his case and continued. “Chronic worry however is neither innocent, nor functional. It must be examined, extracted, and eradicated. For your well being, and for the well being of those around you.” “I agree, Doctor, by the way, what did you take out of your bag?”

The next sound I heard was, “Ow”, and it came from me. “What is that thing? A hyper-anti-hallucinatory-worry-ometer?” “No, it’s a mallet. I just hit you with it.” “I know!” I said as I rubbed my head. “Why?” “Because you know better.” “If I had wanted you to hit me on the head for worrying, I would have asked you too.” That was when he reminded me that he is a figment of my imagination. Next he quoted two of my favorite verses, Psalms 11:1, 4.

Psalms 11:1, 4
1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?

4 The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord ‘s throne is in heaven: His eyes behold, His eyelids try, the children of men.

“Why do you love those two verses?” I laughed. “Because when people try and worry me, I can say I know Who I trust in. As long as He is on His throne, everything will be ok.”

He just looked at me. Then walked around me a couple of times. Finally, I said, “What is it?” “A murmur can be caused by a valve leaking. The Truth of that Scripture is in your head, but it must have leaked out somewhere.” “It didn’t leak out, it just got…” “Buried, ignored, stifled, drowned out…” I held up my hand. “I get the point.”

“No, I’m not sure you do. Sometimes, the way to counteract worry is to verbalize what we know is true, and not what we fear might happen. It’s not enough to know it, it must be enacted, enabled, and evaluated. You enact it’s effectiveness against worry by stating it. That’s Faith working through your vocal chords. You enable the Scriptural Truth as the primary vehicle driving your thoughts by focusing on it completely, not half heartedly. Finally, as you evaluate it, you remember the past concrete examples.”

“Meaning every time that The Lord has taken care of me personally.” He was ecstatic now. “Scripture must be applied personally to counter a personal battle. When we remember that we are in a relationship with a faithful God, it will illuminate His work in our lives. It also does something else. It exposes the fact that the majority of our fears are false. They murmur in our minds scenarios that have never happened to us before, and have little chance of starting now.”

“We all experience some occasional fear. An idle worry is an innocent murmur, but give life to it, and it becomes a Frankenstein. Just ask the Israelites who walked through the wilderness. Their murmurs not only ended their lives, it changed their destiny. It is our choice what we do. Once the worry enters our thoughts.”

“What about legitimate fears, things that have, or actually will happen?” I knew where he was going next. “Legitimate fears still face a Legitimate God. One that rules, not only in our hearts, but the cosmos. The God who, not only formed the sun and moon, but caused them to stand still for Joshua. He who shined from Calvary when the sun was too sorrowed for it’s Creator to give light. The same One whose Glory illuminated the walls of the grave that He exited!”

“Worry is a con man peddling a shell game of maybes. God is Our Friend, and an unfailing One at that!” He took a breath, winked, grabbed his bag, and headed for the door. I hollered after him. “Thanks Doc, I’ll remember.” He responded as the door closed behind him. “I would cure the malady, else the mallet will return.”

Guest Artist – Travis Cantrell Zorro

One of the most talented men I know is Travis Cantrell.  He works a full time job, teaches at his Church, and writes brilliantly.  He is also working to improve the lives of those in the rural Appalachian mountains.  You can help him make a difference by supporting the Appalachian American project @ appalachianamericanproject.org.  On top of all of that, he is one of the greatest artists that I’ve ever met.  His guest post today was by special request, the Mexican fox, Zorro.

Travis zorro completed

 

The Italian Hatmaker: The Heir Of Alan

“They are out there somewhere.” “Oui, you just had to help them.” “You just had to chase them.” “It’s Tréal all over again.” Sir Robert laughed. “I saved your life at Tréal.” “I suppose it’s time to return the favor.”

Sir Robert stifled a laugh. “You wouldn’t kill your brother in law.” “No, but the King won’t allow you to live as easily. The next time he finds you, he will kill you.” “He isn’t still mad over Tréal?”

Zachary laughed this time. “He is furious, you stole his woman, and his diamonds.” “She was my fiancé. Plus, those were the King of England’s diamonds.” “That was his opinion, he just happens to feel that he is King of both countries.” “So he’s no longer mad over Izzette?”

At that point, General Armure slapped Sir Robert’s horse and he carried him off into the night. He was safe, for now, but Zachary couldn’t protect any of them. The King was intent on winning, and Sir Robert longed for England.

He returned to a nearby field, out of sight of Zachary’s guards. Tomorrow, they would discover a tied up General, and an escaped prisoner, provided he wasn’t spotted tonight. “You escaped?” Henri asked from near him. “You know he is my brother-in-law Henri, so officially, yes I escaped.” “I wasn’t sure if it were that, or if it was that he was part of ‘La Garde Alan’.”  “If he were, would I tell you?” Henri smiled.

Guiseppe was tired, hungry, and cold. He was tired. “I want answers! What is going on? Why am I involved?” Sir Robert looked at him. “You are what is known in Chess as a Pawn. You are caught in a vacuum between two very powerful leaders. The King Of England and the King Of France.”
“That much I’ve figured out. What is the rest?”

Henri spoke. “Years ago, the area of France, known as Brittany, was independent. Alan The Great was on the throne.  Years later, the last ruler married into the French Royal Family. Another heir of Alan, from a different blood line, has been found. His pedigree has been verified by important people. If he claims the throne of Brittany, there will be war. It will give England an opportunity to attack, in defense of a native son.”

Sir Robert finished the tale. “Some think his ship was lost on the way from his stronghold. Others say he is in hiding. The King Of France wants to force you to pretend you are him, and proclaim loyalty to France.  The King Of England wants you to do the opposite.”

“Why choose me? Do I look like him?” Henri finished.”No, but that doesn’t matter, it’s your voice. You sound like him, and the person that matters can no longer see. They will trust your voice.” “Who is this person?” “That is the only thing that the two kings agree on, no one is to know who the person is. His name isn’t known to me.”

Sir Robert spoke. “I’m not sure we would recognize the name if we were to hear it. Power Brokers aren’t always famous. I know this though, the fate of two countries aren’t resting in his hands, but in yours. What are you going to do?” Guiseppe knew. “Find the Heir Of Alan! Then I am free to return home.”