Archive for March, 2011

“AZALEAS”

March 31, 2011

Texas Azaleas

Special Texas Spring Flowers

Beautiful Texas Azaleas

The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland.

 Notwithstanding the above quote, one of nature’s showiest and most beautiful flowers — the azalea — calls a large portion of Texas home. East Texas possesses the unique conditions demanded by these botanical beauties.

As winter begins to fade away each year, buds begin to appear on the Azaleas at our home.  Not only do I realize that winter will soon be replaced by spring, but our Azaleas will be in bloom.  We only have a few, but  around town many yards are filled with these colorful flowers.  Each spring we have an event called The Azalea Festival.  There is a route through the town named “The Azalea Trail” for any visitors during the festival.  

This morning before leaving for work I took these pictures.  My neighbors have much larger plants in their yards, but I chose not to go picture-taking in their yards.  We only have the two colors, but the neighbors have more plants and more  colors.  The neighborhood is really beautiful during this time of spring.

The Dogwoods are also beginning to bloom in the surrounding area and the forests have changed from the dead look of winter to the alive look of spring.  As Pam and I travel to Austin for our Longhorn Baseball adventures, we see the change from winter each trip.  The new life of spring occurs rather quickly.  It will not be long before the wild flowers will appear along the highways of Central Texas…Bluebonnets, Indian Blankets, etc.  This is one of my favorite times to travel to Austin. 

And while I am speaking of “new life,” my Longhorn Baseball team could really use a dose of that.  The pitching staff has been great overall, but the team is below par on offense.  They are suffering on the batting side of the game.  Both the outfield and  infield have been working like a well oiled machine.  But, as to the hitting, the Longhorns either have only a few hits or all the players are hitting…it’s like all or none.  Oh well, maybe they will start hitting the ball and  it will become contagious and give them a much-needed lift offensively.

New life is important to us all.  The new life of our landscape can be seen each spring and is an outward show of the God-given beauty for our pleasure.  God makes available to us each day a New Life through Jesus Christ.  This New Life does not shine from the outside.  It comes from deep within each of us and shines out to the world as an example of the Goodness of God.

I remember well the moment I received New Life.  To feel beautiful inside because of God’s Saving Grace is something I will never forget.  It truly is one of those unforgettable events in our lives that require faith and action on our part.  I pray each morning that the Inner Light will shine through me as I come into contact with others.

So, as we enjoy the new life of spring, let’s also celebrate the New Life that has been made available by what Jesus did for each of us on the Cross.  This will make the approaching Easter Season a very special day for each of us as we celebrate the victory of Jesus over death.  The New life we received is everlasting.

“RICE AND GRAVY”

March 30, 2011

 

In my early years I knew nothing about rice and gravy.  I thought rice was either used to make pudding or served as a side with butter and sugar.  When I was in middle school (to me it was junior high), I visited a friend one weekend.  He was not from my home town and had only lived in Nacogdoches for a short period of time.  When I arrived at his house, I was excited because he had quite a few pet rabbits.  The next morning, which was Sunday, his mother told him to go to the rabbit pens and get “Henry.”  I don’t really remember whether the rabbit’s name was Henry or not, so let’s just call him that.  I was quite shocked when I discovered the main dish for Sunday dinner “Henry.”  I thought pet rabbits were pets, not food for the table.  I had eaten rabbits many times but they were wild rabbits we hunted and shot.  I wasn’t sure I could eat a pet rabbit, but I closed my eyes and took a taste…it was delicious.

The next thing that happened was also a little strange to me.  As food was passed around the table, I noticed everyone took a serving of rice and when the gravy was passed, they actually put it all over their rice.  By this time I am wondering what kind of strange family did my friend belong to.  The rabbit was fried and the gravy was made in the same skillet.  I had to close my eyes again and sample “rice and gravy.”  That was the moment that I discontinued eating rice with butter and sugar.  I have been sold out on rice and gravy since that Sunday.  One main reason I ate the rabbit and rice with gravy:  I didn’t want this strange family to think that I was strange.

I graduated from high school at 17 and transferred to Orange, Texas as a theater manager for the company I worked for while in school.  I rented a room from a lady that worked for me until I was able to move into a small house.  I found a friend to share the rent.  We also shared to cooking  duties.  I had been cooking since I was eleven years old so everything worked out  pretty well.  My friend was “Cajun” and I discovered that it’s okay to serve rice and gravy three times each day.  When I was in high school, my dad was a cook on an  off-shore drilling rig.  Most of the men were Cajun and he told me it didn’t matter what was listed on the menu as long as rice and gravy was included each meal.

Back to my time in Orange.  I decided to fry chicken for supper one night.  My room-mate requested rice and gravy to be included.  Even though I liked this side, I had  never really cooked cream gravy.  I had watched my mother and gravy looked pretty easy to me.  My first try at gravy was a horrible experience.  After frying the chicken, I browned some flour in the  skillet and added milk and water.  It was really looking good when suddenly it was thick like paste.  No problem.  I thinned the gravy, but then it looked too thin.  I will not dwell on the  experience too much but I thinned and thickened a number of times and it was necessary to remove some of the gravy to other pots.  I say “pots” because I filled many, many pots with  gravy.  While  I was still making gravy, my friend came home and, after he stopped laughing. gave me a hand.  He really knew how to make gravy so I had a  good teacher.  We threw a lot of gravy in the garbage, but the bowl we kept was delicious.  I will always remember this experience and the picture remains in my mind each time I make gravy.

If you have read my blog before, you know that I always try to end with a lesson.  On most postings I have the lesson before I have the topic but this is not one of those times.  But, there is always a lesson each day of our lives and the events that take place.  “Rice and gravy” is really an easy thing for God to bless us with.  I know that from many experiences in my past that I can always depend on God for my daily provisions.  I try not to take these blessings for granted.  At the end of each day I can look back and recall each blessing from God and give thanks.  I take comfort each day that no matter what happens in my life, or in the world, God is still in control and sovereign over all things.  He constantly watches over each of us and wants only the very best for us.  Every event that comes our way is used to bring us closer to our relationship with God.

“YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW”

March 25, 2011

Yesterday:

day before today:  the day before this one / past:  a time in the past / on previous day:  on the day before today.

Today:

on this day: on or during this day, as distinct from yesterday or tomorrow / in present time:  during the present time or age / this day:  this day, as distinct from yesterday or tomorrow

Tomorrow:

next day:  the day after today / future:  a future time, or the future in general / on the next day:  on the day after today

This morning I was considering writing a blog about tomorrow.  Because the English language can often be a little confusing, I decided to check the definition of tomorrow.  So I found out it can be the next day, the future, or on the next day.  Now I’m not confused anymore.

Pam normally doesn’t work on Friday, but she is filling in for a fellow employee.  She left for work a few minutes before 8:00 AM and I was finishing my coffee before leaving for the office.  Suddenly, the door bell rang and Pam was at the front door.  She doesn’t have a key for the front door…I don’t have a key for the back door…so it works out okay.  After she left this morning, her CTS told her to check the tire pressure.  So, she returned home and the tire was flat by the time she arrived.  I drove her to work and then went to my friends at Lakeway Tire to get their assistance.  This seemed like the thing to do instead of me changing the tire and taking it in for repair.  I couldn’t have taken care of this matter yesterday or tomorrow.  This had to be taken care of today.  So, you can select any of the above definitions you would like, but I will select today as in NOW.  Not only did I get immediate service from my tire friends, they delivered Pam’s car to her at work.  Now, that is service!

Yesterday I found something I could do when yesterday was actually todayTomorrow I am going to mow my 2 – 1/2 acre lawn and the job I hate most is doing the weed-eating around the house, trees, and flower beds.  I could do the trimming tomorrow, but the Longhorns have a 2 o’clock game with Oklahoma State and I plan to watch it on my computer.  They also play today at 6:30, so today I am free for the game.  Now I will also be free for the game when tomorrow becomes today.

When tomorrow, as a future time, becomes today on Sunday, I will be ready for Longhorn baseball at 1 PM.  I also have a furniture project I am building for Pam that I need to complete tomorrow, as a future time or the future in general.  Hopefully tomorrow will become today very soon and I can organize the baseball schedule and woodworking.  If I don’t, Pam will probably have my head today, as in on/or during this day, as distinct from yesterday or tomorrow.

Around my house, yesterday is the day before today, today is today, and tomorrow is the day after today.  This keeps Pam and I from getting as confused, as I am at this moment concerning what I intended to write.

There is, however, one thing that is not confusing.  The decisions and/or actions we failed to make yesterday still have an effect on our todays and tomorrows.  The only thing we can’ t do is return to yesterday to amend those decisions.  But, we have today to remedy our omissions

Yesterday, Jesus made a decision that affects all of our todays and tomorrows.  On that certain day, He chose to go to the Cross for each of us and give us access to God through Him.  Now we are able to have a relationship with God.  When we have an encounter with God we come to a crisis in belief which requires faith and action on our part.  On that day, we have the opportunity  to make decisions and take actions that affect all of our tomorrows.  So, today, if we are unable to make decisions yesterday or tomorrow, we must make them on each of our todays.  We must renew and deepen our relationship with God on a daily basis….then our tomorrows are filled with the Joy of Christ.  So, let’s not be concerned about our yesterdays and tomorrows.  That is why we must not delay until tomorrow what is required of us today.

“ANNIVERSARY #33”

March 24, 2011

From the Wisdom Book:

You will find

as you look back upon your life

that the moments when you have

really lived are the moments

when you have done things

in the spirit of love.

Henry Drummond

****************

Treasure the

love you receive above all.

It will survive long after your

gold and good health.

Og Mandino

Last Friday (March 18) Pam and I celebrated our anniversary #33.  It’s a pretty easy day to remember because the day before this event is St. Patrick’s Day.  So, each year when I see everyone wearing green, I know the next day is a day to remember.  But, truthfully, I don’t need any reminder.

Last Friday was also a time for travel to Austin for another weekend of Longhorn Baseball.  That is also special for both of us, but not as special as our anniversary.  I think it is appropriate that we are able to have a baseball adventure while celebrating our marriage.

As usual for a Friday trip to Austin, we had all the necessities loaded in the Escalade.  Most of these items just remain in my vehicle for the duration of  the baseball season.  For once, Pam didn’t need the nail polishing table.  She had already taken care of this necessity.  If you have not already seen the table I made for her, here it is:

 

 

 

As per routine, as we approach Huntsville and our Starbucks stop, we pondered on where to eat lunch.  I suggested Luby’s Cafeteria because it’s fast and we had not eaten there in quite a while.  But, Pam thought a little more upscale restaurant would be more fitting for this special occasion.  I agreed, so we decided on a restaurant we both had already considered (not together, but separately together).  If’s not surprising to discover that our thoughts and decisions are so much alike because of the relationship we’ve had though these years together.

When we left Bryan/College Station in 1978, downtown Bryan was dying while College Station and TAMU was thriving.  Bryan is now making a come-back and the town is being restored.  It is really great to see a new life in the downtown area.  One place we have stopped on a few occasions is the Old Bryan Market Place.

The Old Bryan Market Place contains an antique store and restaurant.  This building was built in 1908 and has been added on to 5 times to increase its size to 22,000 sq.ft.  I have tried to remember what business occupied this space when we left the area.  To the best of my memory, there was a hardware store in this area and maybe that is what was there.  It doesn’t matter, it has been restored and now fits with the restoration going on downtown.  Here is the entrance to the antique store.

In one section of the building is Madden’s Casual Gourmet Restaurant. 

Madden’s Casual Gourmet was opened by Peter and Tara Madden in June 2004. Since then, the restaurant and Chef Madden have enjoyed great success and recognition for providing excellent food and service in Bryan/College Station.

I tend to find dishes on the menu that I like and then on the next visit I look through the menu and select the same thing I had eaten before.  I remembered this salad from the last trip, so Pam and I shared:

 

 

Jalapeno salad with roasted jalapeno-buttermilk dressing, roasted jalapeno, black bean relish, pico de gallo and cotija cheese$7.50 / Add Chicken $10

For my main dish I ate:

 

Grilled meatloaf with sautéed cabbage, cornbread, mashed potatoes, and tomato sauce $10

Pam selected:

Grilled shrimp tostada with black bean puree, cabbage slaw, pico de gallo, cilantro aioli, avocado, and cotija cheese $11

 

And here we are at Madden’s:

After lunch, it was on to Austin for the weekend.  Longhorn baseball turned out great.  We played Kansas State and swept the series.  It was not an easy series for the Longhorns.  Friday nite – 9 innings.  Saturday afternoon – 10 innings.  Sunday afternoon – 14 innings. 

Thanks for reading about our anniversary.  I leave you with this:

Love doesn’t

sit there like a stone,

it has to be made, like bread;

remade all the time,

made new.

—Ursula K. Le Guin

***************

Marriage

is an empty box.

It remains empty unless

you put in more than

you take out.

Dad (H. Jackson Brown, Sr.)

 

“DISTRACTIONS”

March 16, 2011

The year 2011 has started out a little unusual for me.  After I got the 2011 Longhorn Baseball schedule, I contacted the Staybridge Suites in Austin to make my reservations for the weekends for the spring season.  I do this every year and usually with no problems.  This year the only weekend they had no suite available was March 18.  That just happens to be the 33rd wedding anniversary for Pam and I.  We were able to obtain reservations at another Staybridge, but it just isn’t the same.  We really feel at home at the other hotel.  But, that’s just a distraction.

Since then, we have had a few other distractions. 

One day Pam started having bad neck pains.  After doctor visits, physical therapy, and an MRI, she was diagnosed with a bulging disc and is now under treatment for that.

I discovered a leak in the windshield washer reservoir and no washer fluid was reaching the back window of my Escalade.  It probably froze and split during the cold weather in Kansas City when were there for Christmas with Lyndsey.  After replacing the reservoir, the leak became even worse.  I took it to my favorite mechanic for a diagnosis.  He knew what the problem was immediately.  The acid from the battery had eaten a hole in the washer line.

There have been a few distractions since that time, but there are so minor and spread out I just don’t remember them…just the normal events of life.

Two weeks ago, we heard a strange noise coming from the central air condition unit.  Then we smelled something burning…like electrical.  We had been discussing replacing the system for about two years, so this was no big surprise.  Our air conditioning man came by the next morning and explained about the death of our air conditioner.  So, now it was time for the replacement.  It was finished last Friday while we were in Austin and because of the cool weather we have no need for it.  So, we  really don’t know that it works.  But I am sure it works fine because I trust the man who owns the company.  We also had all the ductwork replaced.  When we looked at the ducts that were removed, I believe we are going to be relieved of some of  our allergies.

Last Thursday the kitchen faucet I had worked on a few months ago starting leaking again.  We decided it was time for replacement rather than repair, so it was time for a  Lowe’s adventure.  We selected a new faucet to be purchased when we returned home on Monday.  It was no big deal…just another distraction. 

Then, on Friday morning when it was time to “scrape my face” (shave), it took quite a while for the hot water to get to our master bath.  Because our bath is on the far end of the house away from the hot water heater, we have a small “point of use” electric water heater in the closet of our bathroom.  Well, guess what?  This small water heater had died.  It must have been during the night because I heard no “dying gasps.”  So, I added that to my Lowe’s list for the next Monday.  As it turns out, I had to order it and it will be  here in  about a week or ten days.

The day after the leaking kitchen faucet, one of the men at work informed me that my daytime running light on the driver’s side of the Escalade was not working.  That’s not a bad distraction. 

On Monday night, I replaced the kitchen faucet.  It was not real complicated, you just have to be a contortionist to reach the places to disconnect and replace the faucet.  Of course, it is necessary to close the cutoff valves under the sink.  After replacing the faucet and opening the cutoff valves, I noticed a small leak on both water lines (hot & cold).  Just a distraction, but no big problem.  I have the right washers in the shop.  So, I went to the utility room to shut off the water to the kitchen.  I know this will be hard to believe, but when I turned the valve handle, it broke off.  Now, I have a small leak in that valve.  But, it is just another distraction.  But this is a job for the plumber.

While I was trying  to contact my plumber the next morning, Pam called with a little news.  She said she hated to tell me but she broke something.  Now it seems that all of the distractions are bunching up on us.  She told me that there was a problem with the folding door to her  office.  The small part at the top that fits in a channel to keep the door aligned had broken off.  I told her I would take a look when I got home from work.  I got that fixed a few minutes.  After all, it was a big problem, just a distraction.

 

All of these events were beginning to get me down until I read about Nehemiah rebuilding the wall and gates around Jerusalem.  Sandballat tried to stop the work by mocking and ridiculing the Jews.  When that didn’t work, this evil but resourceful leader adjusted his strategies.  He shifted his tactics to fear; entrapment, and political maneuvering.

Nehemiah’s leadership and character countered every assault of Sanballat and provided the impetus for his Godly vision to be completed.  One problem Sanballat was troubled with was that if the wall was completed, all the people would know this was only possible through the power of God.

From reading these scriptures, I realized:

*  Expect distractions.

*  Don’t give them the time of day.

*  Trust God to protect you and your reputation.

*  Keep your hands to the plow and  don’t look back.

I realized that all of these events just weren’t any big deal.  THE WERE ONLY DISTRACTIONS.  If we stay focused on the job God has for us, any distractions provided by satan have no effect on our mission.

 

“EAGLE’S EYESIGHT”

March 10, 2011

The following was sent to me by David Black.  Thanks Brother David for your contribution to this blog.

 An amazing tidbit about the Eagle’s eyesight:  The eagle can probably identify a rabbit moving almost a mile away. That means that an eagle flying at an altitude of 1000 feet over open country could spot prey over an area of almost 3 square miles from a fixed position!

 

When it rains, most birds head for shelter; the eagle is the only bird that, in order to avoid the rain, starts flying above the rain clouds…….
 Isaiah 40:31

 “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”

 
Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but by how we react to what happens; not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes.  It is a catalyst, a spark, that creates extraordinary results!

 

“WATCHING PEOPLE”

March 9, 2011

One of the favorite adventures for Pam and I is “watching people.”  The best part of this…the stories you can make up using your imagination.  The worst part of this activity is being too critical.  I guess it is okay if we only share our thoughts with each other.  I DON’T MEAN TO BE DEMEANING IN ANY WAY.

When we lived in College Station, we often went to Houston to eat “Bud Bigelow’s Steak House.”  They are no longer in business but they really had great steaks.  It was also a really good place to watch people.  On one trip, we were watching a couple very near our table, so we could overhear their conversation.  We “imagined” it was their first date because the man was really trying to impress his lady-friend with his knowledge of wines.  It was going pretty well until she corrected him as he commented on the wine list.  She was totally unimpressed with his knowledge of wines.  This girl knew her wines.

On one trip to Bud’s we saw a woman lighting a man’s cigarette for him, snuggling up close and letting him know that this was the first time she had ever lit a man’s cigarette with this lighter.  Wow, now that is impressive.

After we moved to Jasper, we visited Bigelow’s for an early steak dinner…6 PM.  We had a great steak, followed by a number of cups of coffee.  The coffee and people watching were so great we left at closing  time and stopped at a  truck stop in Livingston and had a midnight breakfast.  This was my first experience of leaving one restaurant and stopping to have breakfast on the way home.  We were hungry after all the exertion from people watching. 

Longhorn baseball games in Austin are another great place to “people watch.”  It will keep you pretty business with 6 to 7 thousand people at the  ballpark.  During the years we have been fans, we  have some favorites to watch.  One man in our section always stood after every third out and caressed (played) his mustache.  (I don’t know how to describe what he did to his mustache, but there are those that visited us at the ballpark and witnessed this maneuver.)  His wife always came  with him and she knitted the entire game.  I don’t think she ever watched a play or knew which team won.  I don’t mean to be critical because he is free to do whatever he wants to.  And he wants to play with his mustache.  He is not in attendance this year so our imagination is running wild.  We don’t know where he is.  I hope he is okay.  Maybe his wife finished knitting for all the grandkids and/or relatives.  We will probably never know.

Another of my favorites is watching people who are caught sitting in someone’s seats.  When the holder of the seats arrives and looks at the  people in his seats, then looks  at his ticket stubs, the fun begins.  The people occupying the seats are embarrassed when they look at their ticket stubs and have to move.  Quite often I can see they have purchased general admission tickets.

The “brow” sits on the row below us and a few seats to the right.  I am talking about EYE BROWS.  Enough said.  He probably laughs with his friends about my brows.  That’s okay.

“Yellow Hair” sits way to our right.  We call him “Yellow Hair” because his silver hair is not silver.  He is real proud of his hair and it sort of has “finger waves.”  It must be plastered down with something because the wind never affects it.  He  always wears white sweaters or shirts and parades in front of the crowd a few times each game.  Last week we were shocked.  It was his first game this season and he wore a BLACK jacket over his WHITE sweater.  We almost didn’t recognize him.  He must think he looks great in white…I like burnt orange myself.

Ray sits down to our right and John sits below him.  Sometimes John brings his wife (Alise)sp… if the weather  is right.

Rusty and Connie sit across the aisle from us.  We sometimes invite them to eat at Mercado’s with us.  We stay in touch by “text” during the year…baseball season or not.  Great friends.

Ken and Diane sit a few rows below them.  We visit with them in the parking lot before the games…like tailgating.  He looks like Ken, but she really looks like Carolyn.  Their friend Cal is now our friend.  He sits on the other side of the stadium.

PawPaw sits on the aisle below us.  That’s what we call him.  We have visited with him but I really don’t know his name.  His granddaughter comes to the games most of the time.  I guess that is why we call him PawPaw. 

Dickie and Susie sit in the section below us.  I served him in Jasper when we were of the same board of directors at a local bank.

I got a little carried away on our baseball friends and the people we watch.  Sorry! 

I almost forgot Romeo.  He always comes and sits near us.  He finds an unoccupied seat and that’s where he plants himself.  We call him Romeo because at one time he brought his girl friend to the games.  Then he changed girl friends and sat across the stadium.  His hair is sprayed pretty heavy and it looks like the visor on a baseball cap.  That’s okay with me.

Now I will apologize because I mean no disrespect to any of these people.  They are great people to visit with and great people to watch.  More  than likely, we have people watching us.  That’s okay.

Isn’t it great that God created each one of us so different.  There is no person like you and there is no person like me.  We each are unique, with unique Spiritual Gifts.  It takes a lot of different types of people to make a stadium full of Texas Longhorn Baseball fans and it takes a lot of different people to use their particular gifts for the Kingdom of God.  It would really be a boring world if we were all robots or clones.  Only God can create so many different qualities and He uses them to bring glory to Him.

“RUNNING ON EMPTY”

March 8, 2011

 

This is a horrible sight to see these days.  With gas prices at approximately $3.50 per gallon today, it’s time to dig deep into your pocket for a fill-up.

I don’t really understand the various prices of gas as Pam and I travel to Austin for our  weekend of Longhorn baseball.  I have asked about the price of gas here in Jasper and I’ve been told the difference we pay compared to Beaumont is for transportation.  As we pass through Huntsville and on to Central Texas, I see prices that are 12 to 20 cents lower.  We live 70 miles from the refineries around Beaumont and Port Arthur.  This is much closer to where gasoline is produced than in Austin and the entire Central Texas area.  I guess I have missed the opening of refineries in that area, because transportation costs should be much higher to transport gasoline that distance.

That’s my gripe for the day.  So, I’ll just live with it.

A few years ago, we were returning from Austin and stopped 30 miles from home to fill up our gas tank.  We were in Pam’s car and when the fuel warning bell chimes, it is definitely time to get gas.  We were about 10 miles from home when an armadillo ran across the highway into our headlights.  I was unable to avoid said armadillo.  The next morning as Pam drove to town for her morning walk in the park, she called my office and said she was out of gas.  I thought:  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  We had a full tank the night before and only 30 miles from home.  I told her to meet me at my favorite mechanic’s shop.  When she arrived at the shop, the mechanic came running to her car and told her to turn the ignition off.  She had a large stream of gas pouring underneath the hood.  The armadillo had somehow met with the gas line and broken it.

It was a time for action on that occasion when the gas gauge was near empty and falling fast.  Of course, we had to get the gas line replaced and fill the tank again.  The total cost for repair and gas was less than a tank of gas today.  As we travel now, we never want to be RUNNING ON EMPTY.  When the gauge indicates about 1/4 full, it’s time to start looking for a gas station and wondering what kind of surprise the gas station has for us on price.

As I was reading the other morning about Elisha and a destitute woman.  If you want to learn the entire story it can be found at (2 Kings 4:1-7).  From one jar of oil, the woman was able to fill all of the jars she could gather frtom her neighbors.  She went from nothing to an ample provision.

There is something about “nothing” that moves God’s hand.  He loves leading us to empty places where we can lean on nothing except His provision.  If we are not experiencing God’s presence and provision, could it be that we aren’t empty enough?  Could we still be distracted and dependent on ourselves?  This story teaches us that…

1.  Emptiness is a gift from the Lord.

2.  Emptiness tells us we have a need.

3.  It is possible that we may not be empty enough.

4.  We must admit our emptiness.

5.  Only God can truly fill us.

“FISHING”

March 3, 2011

NOT ME!

Sam Rayburn Lake is located in East Texas near Jasper.  It is the largest lake totally within the State of Texas.  It has 750 miles of shoreline with 100 miles of that shoreline being National Forest.  The surface area is 114,500 acres that contains 3,997,600 acre feet of water.

I was living in Port Arthur when the lake was completed and began to fill with water from the Angelina River and a couple of other small rivers.  I had a friend with a camp near Rayburn and we began fishing the lake while it was filling up.  This was before the big fancy bass boats with all of  the electronic fish-finding equipment.  We learned the contour of the lake bottom and shorelines before they were covered with water.  So, our memory of all the “structure” preceded the electronic gear used today.

Years later, I moved to Jasper and Pam became a fisher-woman.  When I first  moved here, I would arise before daylight and fish before going to the office.  I would fish 4 or 5 times each week and Pam and I also camped many weekends.  It’s a great lake for all types of recreation and now is well-known for the big bass tournaments held here.

Before I moved to Jasper, I fished on Rayburn for five days without really speaking to a person except to buy gas at a marina.  The only supplies I took on that trip were drinks, bread, bacon and  eggs.  Of course I took fishing lures and a sleeping bag.  I would break camp each morning and fish all day until sundown.  Then I would set up camp and cook supper.  I depended on the fish I caught for the evening meal…so no catch–no meal.

The reason I went alone on this trip was on doctor’s orders.  Now that is the  right kind of doctor to have.  I had been in the hospital and my diagnosis was exhaustion from long hours at work.  So, my prescription was “go on vacation” for some much-needed rest.  Fishing always rested me even thought I fished just as hard as I worked.

One thing I learned about fishing.  Fishermen tend to return to their favorite fishing holes…the places they had caught fish before.  I always seemed to fish much harder and with more confidence when fishing these spots.  When I would have a strike or catch a bass, I would remain in that spot for a long period of time.  But, after a while, with no more strikes or catches, it was time to move on to search for more fish.  Just because you get a strike or catch a fish doesn’t mean there are no other places to catch fish.  The fact is, there are many, many other places.  I learned, on the many trips to Rayburn, that I could not totally depend on my favorite spots.  Even though they had held fish on another trip, I couldn’t just fish there…I had to fishing many different places to catch fish.

Finding God is similar to finding fish.  I wrote a post recently about Elijah looking for God on Mount Horeb.  He looked in a tornado, an earthquake, and a fire.  But God spoke to him in a small voice.  We can’t always find God in the places we found Him before.  I know He is everywhere, but I believe He wants us to really seek Him with all of our heart…our entire being.  If we don’t find Him where we’ve been looking, we must quit wasting time and seek Him in other places and/or circumstances.  It is really all about seeking until we find.  So it is with what we are seeking in life.  If we have a “strike” and not a “catch,” it is time to continue seeking.  He is there to be found because He has promised to never leave us.  That means He is always available and interruptible.

 SEEK AND YOU WILL FIND!