Fall banner says thankyou.

Thankful

I’m thankful for a lot of things, but these are probably different than the ones you’re thinking about.

I’m thankful I got to answer a phone hanging on the wall because someone called our number that started with S-W.

I’m thankful for black and white television. The picture was black and white, not the box, and every night a TV test pattern came on when they ran out of stuff to broadcast.

I’m thankful for AM car radios with chrome push buttons.

I’m thankful for typewriters with sort of a kick-stand sticking out I had to pull over after hearing a ding. I could type really fast. Still can

I’m thankful for the metal bright-lights switch on the car floor over by the clutch, and for manual shift on the column.

I’m thankful for the rubber hose on the gas station driveway that makes a loud ding-ding-ding inside the building so someone in a Texaco uniform will come out and fill the car with gas for three or four dollars, and for gas station bathrooms with the cloth towel that disappears back into the box it came from.

I’m thankful for the milk box on the porch.

I’m thankful for the clothes chute and a slamming screen door.

I’m thankful for ice milk that tasted like a snow cone without the red syrup.

I’m thankful for street-car wires.

I’m thankful for chalk dust.

I’m thankful for player-piano rolls.

I’m thankful for pedal cars, even though I never had one, but I did have a new bike.

I’m thankful for an abacus with blue, green, red, and yellow beads.

I’m thankful for hard green clay that got soft after I held it for a while, then rolled out a long worm, wound it into a spiral, folded up the sides, made little green balls and put them in the bowl.

I’m thankful for hand-towel cranks.

I’m thankful for white gym class towels that smelled like something I still can’t describe.

I’m thankful for small battery-powered reel-to-reel tape recorders that make you sound like a chipmunk when you put new batteries in it.

I’m thankful for huge film projectors that make a clackety clack sound.

I’m thankful for cash registers that make a loud ding when the drawer opens.

I’m thankful for huge Hires Root Beer barrels.

I’m thankful for Oxydol and wax covered milk cartons.

I’m thankful I got to spit in a tiny toilet bowl at the dentist’s office.

I’m thankful I got to ride in a car with an upholstered rope across the back of the front seat.

I’m thankful I tasted Elmer’s Glue and ate a dog biscuit.

I’m thankful I made long Christmas chains with construction paper and learned to write with a fat pencil on tan paper with green lines on it.

I’m thankful I called collect and asked for myself so my mom would know I arrived safely.

I’m thankful I drank milk from a cooler in the barn.

I’m thankful I got to hold a young calf on my lap and play with a baby raccoon.

I’m thankful I got to stand waist deep in grain and yell in an empty silo.

I’m thankful we had a baby lamb in our kitchen.

I’m thankful I learned to water ski.

I’m thankful I talked to a friend through a tin can and a long string.

I’m thankful for Ola Corners.

I’m thankful for walking over the Mackinac Bridge. Twice.

I’m thankful for Nik-L-Nip wax bottles.

I’m thankful for Fizzies and sea-foam frosting.

I’m thankful for Bill Knapp’s.

I’m thankful for Ken & Tillie.

I’m thankful for Radio Mystery Theater and Suspense.

I’m thankful for Maurice and Villetta Brundage.

I’m thankful for ditto paper and mimeograph machines.

I’m thankful Mary said, “Yes”.

Colorful poster showing caption 1:1.

I Will

“As trouble tries to spread throughout the land,
It’s time to rise and boldly take a stand
For character and honor, and choosing to be free
From harmful things that try to capture me.

I’ll find the strength if I must stand alone.
I’ll face the fear and pressure I have known.
I will not bow for others, their wishes to fulfill,
If I must be the only one, I will.

I will make a difference, I will take a stand,
I will be an answer, will you take my hand?
Together forever, a future to build,
Who will make a difference? I will.

If you’ll walk beside me, there’s nothing we can’t do
If one can make a difference, there’s no limit with two.

I will make a difference, I will take a stand,
I will be an answer, will you take my hand?
Together forever, a future to build,
Who will make a difference? I will.”

Lyrics by Dale Parsons

I wrote this song twenty-five years ago for a county campaign against drugs.

Colorful poster showing caption 1:1.

Make a Difference

According to the internet (and, after all, if it’s on the internet, it’s true, right?) the chance of becoming a professional athlete is 0.00075%. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dream, but you have a very long road ahead of you.

The chance of becoming a superstar musician is 0.000001%. That doesn’t mean you should quit band and stop taking piano or voice lessons.

The chance of becoming a professional gamer is between 0.01% and 0.03%.

The chance of making a difference is 1:1. If you are breathing, you can make a difference. One in one.

“I will make a difference, I will take a stand.
I will be an answer, will you take my hand?
Together forever, a future to build.
Who will make a difference? I will.”

First Day Prayer

Heavenly Father,

From preschoolers to seniors, please be with our students today and every day.
Let confidence replace fear, and friends replace loneliness.

From first year to veteran, give our teachers wisdom and strength.

From para-pros to administrators, from parents and guardians to community, may all be safe, now and forever.

Amen.

Balloon Launch

I don’t have any idea what balloon launches have to do with Sunday school, but they’ve been connected for a very long time. If they’re supposed to be a way to get new people to visit a church, I don’t think anyone ever said, “Oh, look honey, there’s a balloon stuck in our tree! Maybe we should start going to church.”

When I was a kid we had a balloon launch at our Sunday school. I don’t remember why, I just remember wanting to take a few of the helium filled balloons home. Somehow I managed to snag two or three for a couple days of fun.

I tested the balloons by attaching toys to the string to see if they would float. After trying several, I discovered plastic army men were the limit. I imagined what the army guys were seeing as they slowly drifted to the ceiling.

Ten years later the fun was sucking helium out of the balloon to make my voice sound like someone had Porky Pig by the throat.

Twenty years passed before I was involved in another Sunday school balloon launch. Our little church sponsored a contest for the kids(?) to see whose balloon travelled the greatest distance. I put self-addressed cards in sandwich bags and clipped them to the strings. We promised a portable stereo to the person returning a card the farthest and to the person who let it go.

The launch day weather was perfect with a light breeze from the northwest. Thirty kids and several kiddish adults counted down. Three! Two! One! Seven balloons never made it through the birch trees beside the building.

Five weeks went by with no returns. Just as I thought we were going to save the money for the stereos, the mail carrier delivered a winner. The wrinkled and worn card was mailed from Laceyville, Pennsylvania. From our church in Michigan, the balloon travelled 379 miles! We sent a stereo to the person who returned the card, and to the youngster who launched the balloon. My faith in balloon launches was restored.

I don’t know if balloon launches are even legal anymore. I’m just glad I got to experience the excitement of watching them lift into the air, never to be seen again.

Rosebuds Cafe, the Little Gem

Everyone has heard the old saying, “Good things come in small packages.” That is absolutely true at Rosebuds Cafe in Clifford, Michigan.

We have lived in Lapeer County for nearly forty years. We often drive through the little town of Clifford, yet this morning was the first time we ate at Rosebuds Cafe. What a delightful surprise!

Many times, we have heard friends talk about Rosebuds and we had sincere intentions to try it. This morning we finally made it happen.

I don’t know the actual dimensions of the cafe, but the size of the room has nothing to do with the taste of the food.

My measure of a good restaurant is always determined by breakfast. Even though I make great pancakes at home, I enjoy ordering them when we eat out. The blueberry pancakes I had this morning were delicious. I topped them off with two eggs, over-easy, a piece of bacon I borrowed from my wife, and lots of maple syrup. Amazing!

We were especially impressed with the kindness of all the patrons and the owner. Just this morning, we met a lady who lived in Clifford her entire life and, for a brief time, lived in the very building where we were eating. Another lady has been the organist at a Baptist church in a nearby town since she was fourteen years old. The third said she was on her way to visit her aunt. She looked at the map and decided to take the back roads which led her through Clifford. Her visit to Rosebuds this morning was her first.

In my recent post entitled, “I Always Wonder About Stuff,” I said, “I wonder when the last cardboard tube of Tinkertoys left the shelf.” At Rosebuds Cafe this morning, on a shelf just above our table was several antique items including Tinkertoys, Pick Up Sticks, and Kaleidoscopes.

The cafe is decorated nicely with pictures and antiques. I first noticed the long mirror that, in old homes, was often placed above a buffet cupboard or mantel. I was especially interested in the vintage photos of buildings in Clifford.

I have a book called, “Rails Around the Thumb”, by T.J. Gaffney. It has many black and white vintage photos of steam locomotives, freight and passenger trains that were a part of life in small villages across the thumb of Michigan, including Clifford.

One of the customers we met this morning, said when she was young, steam engines chugged through town and the cinders flying from the smoke stack often set fires in the brush along the rails. She ran along the tracks with a broom and helped put out the fires. Incredible.

Rosebuds Cafe has been owned by Judy Legue for the last fifteen years. Judy is known far and wide for her delicious homemade pies. In fact, it was a recent conversation with friends who mentioned pie they enjoyed at Rosebuds Cafe that reminded us we needed to get to the restaurant. We’re so glad we did.

Judy, everyone is right. We just enjoyed the two pieces of pie we purchased this morning. I had rhubarb, my wife had peach, both with a small scoop of ice cream. Absolutely delicious!

As we left Rosebuds Cafe after breakfast, Judy Legue said, “I hope you folks will come back.” You can count on it, Judy. Rosebuds Cafe is the best new discovery we’ve made in a very long time. We’ll be back, sooner than later.

I Always Wonder About Stuff

I wonder if kids know what an Erector Set is.

I wonder if kids still like getting train sets for Christmas.

I wonder if Amos & Andy would be allowed on television now.

I wonder when the last cardboard tube of Tinker Toys left the shelf.

I wonder if any kids know about Laurel and Hardy, or The Marx Brothers, or The Bowery Boys, or The Little Rascals, or Shirley Temple.

I wonder how squirrels remember where they buried everything.

I wonder if people miss Creature Features.

I wonder if kids still fingerpaint.

I wonder if Kenner is still fun.

I wonder if John Wayne really talked like that.

I wonder if a gangster ever said, “You dirty rat, you killed my brother.”

I wonder how many fathers really know best. Mine sure didn’t.

I wonder if kids still make salt dough maps that curl up and crack.

I wonder if kids still make gun racks in wood shop class.

I wonder if any kids know about Soupy Sales, Rae Deane & Friends, Tom Terrific, Wally Gator, Natasha and Boris, and Captain Kangaroo.

I wonder when the last elementary school student was allowed to walk home for lunch.

I wonder if Liberace really had a brother named George.

I wonder if box kites are still flying.

I wonder why Play Dough smells so good.

I wonder if anyone remembers “I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster.”

I wonder if any kids know what a Sears catalog is.

I wonder if kids know what dictionaries and encyclopedias are.

I wonder if anyone else ever fried baloney on the bottom of a metal coffee can.

I wonder if people remember how to talk without their thumbs.

I wonder when was the last time someone said, “Fill ‘er up.”

Hymns

One of the all-time favorite opportunities of my life was playing piano and leading music at church camp meetings.  The sound of the huge crowd was incredible as they sang, 

“Once I was bound by sin’s galling fetters, 
Chained like a slave, I struggled in vain. 
But I received a glorious freedom, 
When Jesus broke my fetters in twain! 

Glorious freedom!  Wonderful freedom! 
No more in chains of sin I repine. 
Jesus the glorious Emancipator, 
Now and forever, He shall be mine.” 

Just playing the introduction to that great hymn was like lightning! 

What can compare to hearing the people sing, 

“I heard and old, old story, how the Savior came from glory, 
How He gave His life on Calvary, to save a wretch like me. 
I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood’s atoning, 
And I repented of my sin and won the victory! 

Oh, victory in Jesus, my Savior forever! 
He sought me, and bought me, with His redeeming blood. 
He loved me ‘ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him. 
He plunged me to victory, beneath the cleansing flood.” 

And, 

“My heart was distressed ‘neath Jehovah’s dread frown, 
And low in the pit where my sins dragged me down, 
I cried to the Lord from the deep miry clay, 
Who tenderly brought me out to golden day. 

He brought me out of the miry clay! 
He set my feet on the rock to stay. 
He puts a song in my soul today, 
A song of praise, Hallelujah!” 

We always included, 

“Such love, such wondrous love, 
Such love, such wondrous love, 
That God should love and sinner such as I, 
How wonderful is love like this?” 

Folks loved singing, 

“When we all get to Heaven 
What a day of rejoicing that will be. 
When we all see Jesus, 
We’ll sing and shout the victory!” 

And finally, 

“I stand amazed in the presence  
Of Jesus, the Nazarene 
And wonder how He could love me 
A sinner, condemned, unclean. 

How marvelous, how wonderful, 
And my song shall ever be. 
How marvelous, how wonderful, 
Is my Savior’s love for me.” 

Would altars have been empty without great songs like, 

“Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling, 
Calling for you and for me.” 

And, 

 
“I surrender all, I surrender all.  
All to Thee my Blessed Savior, I surrender all.” 

Or, 
 
“Just as I am, without one plea, 
But that Thy blood was shed for me 
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee 
Oh, Lamb of God, I come.” 

Where would we be without great songwriters like 
John and Charles Wesley, Fanny Crosby, Haldor Lillenas, Isaac Watts, John Newton, William Kirkpatrick, and Ira Sankey? 

I guess I’ve become an old goat like the ones I used to complain about when I was a pastor.  There was an old guy in the second church I pastored who folded his arms and stared at me when we sang songs that weren’t in the hymnal.  Every week we usually led two hymns and then two or three choruses.  When the hymn book closed, he was done. 

I like what the great old general superintendent, Dr. Earle Wilson, said, “I like the new choruses.  The ones that say something.” 

Fifty years from now a new old goat will probably say, “I miss the old songs we used to sing in church that Chris Tomlin wrote.” 

Camp’s Over, Now What?

I hate it when things are over.  Thanksgiving.  Christmas.  Spring break. The school year, sort of.  Summer vacations. Trips down south.  I don’t like movies to end, at least not the good ones.  I feel bad saying, “Alexa, stop.”  

For church folks, summer is the time for annual camp meeting, the week-long gathering for inspiration and renewal of faith.  There is lots of singing and preaching, and sometimes, lots of emotion. I don’t like it when camp meeting is over. 

Church campgrounds are hallowed places. They’re all pretty much the same. Cabins, a dining hall, bath houses, sports fields, a snack bar, and a camping area all surround a huge tabernacle.  

The tabernacle is made of wood beams and boards with big windows covered by large flaps held up by wood posts. At the front of the tabernacle is a long stone altar. The altar is the holy ground where serious decisions are made that might totally change the direction of a person’s life. 

For kids growing up in church, like I did, summer was also the time for youth camp. It was five glorious days away from home with hundreds of teenagers all trying to impress each other. There were lots of fun activities, and two daily chapel services. 

Year after year, the nightly chapel services all followed the same pattern. There was lively singing, preaching that tugged at our souls, and an invitation to go to the altar. “Just as I am without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me, and that Thou bidst me come to Thee, oh Lamb of God I come.” 

As the “invitation song” continued, kids streamed to the altar. We repented, cried, repented more, and cried more. We hugged and cried, laughed and cried. Then we cried again.

Every night the scene was the same. We sought forgiveness for everything and cried about it all. By the end of the week, we were in danger of kidney and liver failure from dehydration. And then it was over. We boarded the buses and went home. 

Was it real? Yes. Sincere? Yes. Emotional? Obviously. 

Here’s the point. Not one time, not once in all those years, did anyone, any adult, ever stand in front of us and say, “Listen gang, you need to know something. In just a few days, maybe even before you get home today, all these feelings are going to disappear.” 

Instead, we were left alone, trying to figure out what went wrong when all the emotions faded away. Some kids decided it wasn’t real. The decisions they made didn’t matter because the feelings were gone. 

Years ago, when I was a pastor, I received a hand-written letter that broke my heart. The writer said, “I no longer profess to be a Christian. I just can’t maintain the feeling.” I’ll never forget it. Maybe that person had an emotional camp experience and thought it would last forever. 

I hate it when things end and emotions fade.

Faith lives on, feelings or not.