Do Smart Phones Rub Off on You?


I often repeat the quote that the only person who welcomes change is a wet baby. I understand all to well this past week after I traded my old cell phone for a newer Smart phone. The name Smart only applies to the phone. After two weeks with the stupid thing it’s humbling to know that while it offers you all human intelligence in the palm of your hand, I’m still a Cro-Magnon in the technology world. I don’t even know how to answer it when someone calls me. I feel like a dim-witted Jeopardy contestant; “Alex, $200 on cell phone basics please!”

As I lay in bed early one morning I stumbled upon a new feature. It has a fitness app built in that encourages you to live a healthier lifestyle. One of the features that left me intrigued was a spot on the back of the phone to rest your thumb. By placing your thumb print on the back of the phone over a tiny hole, the phone reads your heart rate and stress level. I found that at 5 am, I have no stress in my life. I’ve learned if I want to control my blood pressure I have to stay in bed until 4 pm. As I read the instructions it encourages you to reach your target heart rate. Of course drinking a pot of coffee and walking up a flight of stairs accomplishes the same thing; but wouldn’t that would be cheating?

As an added bonus the phone also offers a pedometer. I don’t know how I switched it on, but the pedometer has been set and working since I got the phone. It started out by telling me that to achieve a physique of a Greek god, I had to walk 10,000 steps everyday. Every evening it gave me my total. Apparently 10,000 steps for me must be a monthly goal. I got so tired of it reminding me daily that I was being lazy, I tied it to the collar of the dog for a full week.

I went to the doctor and he asked me if I had been exercising lately. Smiling I showed him my phone. 125,000 steps in a single day. He’s concerned. He says with that much exercise I should be built like a pipe cleaner. He’s booked an appointment with an endocrinologist to see if my thyroid is working properly. Man I hate my phone.

 

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Christmas Happenings


In my earlier career I used to cater events for a hospital. It is this background
that allows me to serve God in varied ways as a pastor. Last Thursday I catered the city’s Ministers Association annual luncheon and the following night my wife and I solely transformed our church’s dining room into a Bethlehem scene. With luminaries lighting the pathway in, we encompassed the hall with lighted trees, candles, lights and greenery. It was a blessed night.

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The pictures above were the Ministers Luncheon. The pictures below, the Christmas Agape Banquet.

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Merry Christmas and always embrace the reason for the season.

My regular post returns Friday

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The Value of Christmas


As I survey the merchandising displays for Christmas, I am astounded by all the glitz and glitter. It seems more than ever, we find the humble beginnings of what inspired this special holiday too difficult to accept. I have seen everything from Tickle Me Elmo to video games, but none that portrays the serenity of the Nativity scene.

Most children know that Christmas is the biggest birthday party in the world. They don’t always know for whom, but lucky for them, they get the gifts. Children want entertainment. They want action. If popular folklore and toy manufacturers had their way, a Nativity play-set would have Wise Men with spring action arms and Moroccan swords, and Joseph would have a kung fu grip and magic staff to protect Mary. Baby Jesus would have 12 changes of clothes and be wearing a crown, all the animals in the barn would run on AA batteries and talk, and Mary would look like the Disney Princess, Jasmine. Worse yet, the play-set would also include a King Herod action figure whose eyes light up and would serve as the bad guy for this placid scene. Thank goodness we haven’t gone there yet!

Years ago, while I was growing up on a farm in rural Maine, our family had little money for Christmas. We were afraid that one particular year we would have the fewest gifts we’d had in quite some time. My Dad and Mom came up with an idea that today still brings smiles and laughter to my sister, twin brother, and me. Our assignment was to create a “love gift” for one another. We busied ourselves in the days leading up to Christmas. In that old farmhouse, you could hear the sounds of a saw cutting wood from the attached barn, pans clinking in the kitchen, or the smell of fresh baked cookies and breads wafting their way throughout the house. We all tackled our gift projects with as much enthusiasm as one could muster; some did better than others.

On Christmas Day with over two feet of snow outside, we huddled around the wood stove and opened our presents. I got a board with two nails in it from my brother. It was intended to be a book holder while you read in bed. I was convinced my brother lacked the same enthusiasm for making a gift as I did. I had chosen my sister’s name so I presented to her what I thought was a masterpiece. I had missed five nights of my favorite TV show Hogan’s Heroes making this gift. It was a Santa and sleigh made out of Popsicle sticks and plenty of Elmer’s Glue. She was less than impressed. My brother scored the best gift when he got baked goods from Mom.

It’s been over 38 years since that Christmas. My sister and I occasionally make alterations to my gift and exchange it with each other. Last year she added a reindeer that left me something extra, it made me laugh out loud. Every decade or so we give each other another simple gift as a reminder of the laughter we once shared around a simple family Christmas tree.

This season, take time to make it a little less stressful and a little more simple. I promise a Christmas that will have more meaning and be remembered fondly for a very long time.

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I Got a Lump of Coal


A repost from December 2012

Have you ever expected something to be wonderful and in reality, it never came close to your expectations? I remember vividly an incident that happened to me when I was in college. I was working in broadcast radio. The station had the broadcast wattage of a light bulb. Somehow, somewhere, an old lady became my number one fan. She would call me for requests, ask me to come to her home for a home cooked meal, and I did. Numerous times I trekked to a little one horse town in north central Texas and sat at her table to eat her cooking. She was a lovely lady who was extremely petite. Her home was built by her husband who had been barely five feet tall, so it was like visiting the “Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.” The ceilings in her home were only just higher than 6 feet tall.

Being the motherly type, she was always trying to “find” me a girl. One day she called me at my radio station all excited, she had found the sweetest girl for me. Hesitant on my part, she insisted on coming to the station to personally introduce her to me. A few hours later as my shift ended, she came to the station to lead me out to the parking lot. As my eyes fell on the young woman I thought, “I’m sure she is lovely”, but if I had taken her on a date to see Mt. Rushmore, I wouldn’t have been able to see Mt. Rushmore. She made me look like a pipe cleaner. Needless to say, despite the exchanging of pleasantries I never took up her invitation to call her again. I envisioned our first date at the Mighty Burger where, like the Flintstones, they would deliver the Brontosaurus Burger on a tray that clips to the car window and promptly the car tips over from the weight. I learned a powerful lesson on false expectations that day.

Some months ago, I received a letter from a law firm. It sounded too good to be true. A major bank I had done business with in the past, had been sued for illegally charging unfair bounced check fees. The bank had willfully withheld funds, manipulated deposits, and gave delayed information to the consumer in hopes that the consumer would bounce checks and the bank would garner higher fees. The letter from a distant law firm had said that my name had been added to a class-action lawsuit and I would share in the claim of the ill-gotten funds.

The letter left me smiling. I heard the birds singing more loudly, the flowers looked more lovely, my wife more ravishing. I was giddy. The wait for news seemed to take forever. Months passed as I anxiously awaited what my portion of the booty would be. The letter finally arrived last week. My heart rate accelerated as I envisioned what I could buy with my money. Maybe a nice small gift for my wife, or maybe I could pay off a bill. As I opened the letter from the firm of Dewey, Cheatem, & How, my eyes fell directly on the amount. I was stunned; I couldn’t believe the amount. Where would I spend my whole $2.18? I was going to write to the trial lawyers and tell them to keep the coal since I got the shaft, but they’re not in. I think they’re working hard on their tans in a tropical location, grinning from ear to ear.

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