Sunday, August 25, 2019

Scrapple or Scruples?


Amish Country has Beautiful Simplicity
We were on vacation in Amish country when I decided to try scrapple. I like to try new things, so I asked the waitress to describe it. After her explanation I placed my order.

I discovered that although I like the ingredients in scrapple, I do NOT like them together. It’s been years since that experience, but I never forgot it.

I struggled to give myself permission to leave the scrapple mostly untouched. You can understand my dilemma if you were trained as a child, like I was, to always clean my plate!

If you are unfamiliar with scrapple, it’s a frugal way to use leftovers. I’ve seen it described as a mush made from pork scraps, cornmeal, wheat or buckwheat flour and spices. Sometimes it’s cooked, cooled and sliced, but my order reminded me of hash.

As I was thinking of scrapple the word scruples popped into my head. I liked the alliteration, so I stopped to think about it.   

Just as not everyone likes scrapple, some people ignore scruples. 

While growing up we get a mixture of scruples from parents, teachers, and religious leaders. It’s a mushy mixture of moral training from which we must select parts to become our own.

People with scruples care about right and wrong. If they have qualms, misgivings or uneasiness about something they generally choose to avoid it.

The value of that is described in Proverbs 2:11: Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you (NIV). The New Living Translation puts it this way: Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.

Feel free to avoid scrapple, if you want to, but do NOT forget to pay attention to your scruples.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Alive With the Big Five


I Love to Walk in the Forest, Too
It’s a beautiful day for a walk outdoors. I enjoy feeling the wind in my face and seeing all the shades of green on the trees in summer. In winter, I enjoy blue sky peeking through their leafless branches. 

Downtown I walk Historic Whiskey Row across from the courthouse square. As I window shop, I smell leather here and popcorn there. A store being refurbished gives off paint smells and alcohol odors float out of darkened bars.

Like me, you may think we learned about the Five Senses in primary grades. But don't most parents delight in teaching their toddler the “Point and Name” game? How excited they are to see their child name his toes, nose or other body parts as he points to them. 

It's not a body part, but I'm amazed by touch. Often it is represented by a hand, but it's really a function of the entire body. For example, we can sit down and feel the cold metal of a chair. And if we pluck even one stray eyebrow hair, we feel an immediate twinge of pain.

World-Wide We Have Five Senses
There are many amazing things about our body, but I love the balance and order in God's Big Five. Think about this:

1. We have peripheral vision, but we do not have EYES in the back of our head. 

2. Our EARS are like cups to catch surround sound, with a balance between noise in foreground and background. So far, I have not had a person with a hearing device ever tell me it balances sound as well as their original hearing.

3. One NOSE is all we need to smell the difference between light fragrances and noxious odors. 

4. One TONGUE is all we need to enjoy a variety of tastes such as salty, sour or sweet. 

Five Senses Counted on Five Fingers
5. The TOUCH of one finger can determine hot or cold. The touch of one hand lovingly holding another is a source of satisfaction. 

Aren’t we amazing? Five senses help us connect to our world. Psalm 100 mentions being thankful and giving God praise. 

If you can’t think of anything else, just tell God you’re glad to be “Alive With the Big Five.”                                      

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Birds of a Feather


Birds of a feather flock together may be truer than we humans think. People are into their independence these days and it’s harder to gather a flock.

“Let’s have a meeting” doesn’t always mean there is complete unity. It can be healthy to share different viewpoints and ask questions of one another before a decision is made.

It's not always business, however. Sometimes people gather to enjoy a special event. Discussing a shared football game or stage performance can build up relationships and create a sense of community.

Birds in "V" Formation
Have you ever looked up to watch birds flying in a “V” formation? I’ve heard it gives them more flying power, no drag on their aerodynamics.

Groups have their time and place, but there are times to be alone. On the ground, for example, each bird must hunt for its own food. The group will be affected by how well they do that.

We live in a time when personal gatherings happen less often. I worked for one company where the boss loved communicating by email. I often thought if we could just meet face-to-face, we’d clear this up much quicker.     

A couple of weeks ago I had the same thought in a cell phone company’s chat room. After texting back and forth for twenty minutes, "Charlie Chat" did not solve my problem. In fact, he finally texted I lost you and hung up.

I got in my car and drove about fifteen miles to the company’s physical store. There were several birds of a feather behind the tech desk, and one of them solved my problem in less than five minutes.

Face-to-face is still my favorite way to meet with people. It can be two or three, ten or twenty . . . it doesn’t matter. I like the personal connection.

These are Spoonbill Cranes
Birds of a feather flock together in small or large groups. All my life I’ve enjoyed being part of a faith community. I flocked into a variety of settings, such as small groups, large congregations, staff meetings, potlucks and special events.

Group size is not the issue. What matters is the fulfillment of purpose expressed in Hebrews 10:24 and 25: Meeting to love and encourage one another through long days and hard times.

Be, or become, part of a flock with a positive purpose. We can never have too much encouragement to keep the faith and continue doing good.            

Sunday, August 4, 2019

A Meaningless Re-do


It never would have happened if my husband had not insisted that we must cooperate.

What was the problem?

His and Her Wedding Rings
Our Pastor had decided to have a day to honor marriages. No problem there. I’m fully in favor of celebrating commitment.

I was fine until I heard the plan for ending the service.

Not only was the pastor going to ask all married couples in the audience to stand, he was going to call the staff to the platform. We would all repeat our vows after him.

There was the problem.

I said, “I love you, Honey, but I can’t do it.”

He said, “I know you love me, but we have to do this.”

“Maybe I can be gone that Sunday,” I said, knowing full well I would be there. I thought I’d probably feel worse as a deserter than a target on stage.

Daily routines kept me busy. I tried to forget that Sunday was coming. I usually enjoyed going to church because the people were very friendly and accepting.

Make a List -- Get It Done
Working with this pastor and his wife was a joy to me, too. But I couldn’t ask to be excused because of loyalty to my husband.

The dreaded Sunday arrived. As planned, the pastor concluded his sermon and called the staff forward.  On the platform, as we faced each other, my husband quietly said, “We’ll be OK.”

I had always said, “I meant my vows the first time and I don’t ever intend to repeat them.” I strongly felt that for me it would take something precious away from the original.

As we started to repeat the vows, I started crying. How embarrassing!

I was happy in my marriage, but what would people think? I was thankful my husband kindly escorted me off stage. I wished I could disappear.

My father-in-law saved the day. As I tried to slip out the back door he said, “Well, Dar, it was just like the first time.”  He smiled and laid a hand on my shoulder. What a relief. I knew Dad understood and life could go on.

Love and Understanding Help A Day Go Better
No one ever mentioned my tears, not even the pastor. And I’ve never again been asked to repeat my vows. I’d have to be true to myself and refuse.

I'm sure my husband would agree for a couple of reasons: 1) It would be nice to avoid another embarrassing moment, and 2) he knows repeating my vows would be, for me, a meaningless re-do.

Any couple choosing to repeat their vows has my full support. We all need to be free to choose what means the most to us.

Solomon had some good advice: When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it (keep your word) . . . Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 NKJV).

It doesn’t matter if it’s the first time around, or a re-do.