Monthly Archives: July 2010

How Many People

“How many people have you married?” goes the often-asked question. I have learned not to give the real answer unless I really know the person asking the question. The real answer of course is one, but most people seem confused or slightly miffed at that answer. What they are asking is how many weddings have I officiated. That is a harder number to say. The first wedding I ever performed was for my younger sister, Denise, in June of 1969. She and Bubba were married 36 years until his death in July 2005. The hardest were the ones where I was also the father of the bride.

I wish I had started keeping a daily ministry journal from my earliest days. I guess I thought I was too busy. I have a form of a ministry record in the calendars that I have kept since 1974. Most of those are packed away in the attic, and it’s too hot to explore the attic to get an accurate count. I stopped many years ago officiating weddings for people who were not related to the church or someone I knew. This reduced the stress level of my life considerably. Without an actual count to go by, just a general sense of weddings through the years, I would say the number of weddings where I have officiated is around 200.

I have a more accurate number of funerals where I have either officiated or assisted in some way. I started saving all of my funeral notes from the beginning of my ministry. The very first funeral, where I was assisting, was in 1966 for an 18-month-old boy. He had gotten behind his 18-year-old uncle’s car. It was one of the saddest funerals I have ever witnessed, with wailing, anger and accusations everywhere. Having a record of each funeral has proven to be invaluable through the years. I have probably misplaced a number of the services, but by actual count today I have saved the stories of 438 people. That was quite a moving experience for me to see the names of so many who have touched and shaped my life through the years.

Weddings and funerals are endings and beginnings. The people involved move from life before the wedding, or funeral, to the beginning of all that lies ahead. Every ending marks a beginning. Every beginning marks an ending. Endings and beginnings are rarely easy.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Keep the faith. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Seed Ticks and Fried Chicken

My most unforgettable summer was the one in 1970. Dorothy accepted my marriage proposal on June 3rd. I was scheduled to lead music in a Sunday through Sunday revival in East Texas with another seminary student, John King, doing the preaching. Dorothy was to be in one wedding in mid-July and another in mid-August. The revival was set for the middle of July, so we set our wedding date for August 1. We were both working full-time jobs and I was taking vacation time to be at the revival. It was at the revival I learned about seed ticks and fried chicken dinners.

The revival began on Sunday morning followed by a fried chicken and ham dinner on the grounds. The church was located in rich farm lands near Tyler, Texas. We stayed each night at one of the member’s homes rotating through the church roll. We held morning services, made after lunch visits, as well as the evening services. Each day we ate a full-course lunch and then a full course-supper at each new home. Every meal had the exact same menu, fried chicken and ham.

By Wednesday evening we were in pain from too much fried chicken and ham. Not wanting to offend anyone John and I just kept the pain to ourselves, until the pastor caught us laughing that this was our 8th full-course fried chicken and ham meal of the week. He said he would fix it. So on Thursday after the morning service we went out to the home of a very prosperous family. She fed us a full-course grilled steak dinner.

That afternoon we were invited to ride their horses, and then walk out to see their favorite pasture nestled in the woods about a half-mile from their home. To say it was hot is missing the point, but we pressed on, saw the pretty green field and turned around and walked back. My legs started to itch about the time we got back to the house. Baths were in order, but the tiniest little “seed ticks” known to mankind were taking precedent. I announced my problem and was handed a bottle of bleach. I had scores of ticks up and down both legs. I bathed, tried to bleach out the ticks, get fully dressed and head to the church for choir practice and the service. Every part of my body itched constantly during church. Afterwards we went back for the evening meal (fried chicken and ham) to be followed by another bleach-water bath. I still itch thinking about it.

It was a sweet church with a great spirit. The people insisted that they meet Dorothy, so she joined us on that final Sunday. They gave us a large silver serving tray, which we treasure, as a wedding present. And then we all sat down to a full-course meal of fried chicken and ham.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Relish the summertime. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.


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Great-Great Grandma’s Household Hints

While going through a drawer, Dorothy found a booklet of household hints and cooking advice. This booklet probably belonged to Dorothy’s mother and was compiled by someone in Austria. There is a disclaimer to the effect that the compiler does not want to be sued for “any possible damage or injury resulting from use of these ‘secrets’ whatsoever.” Here are a few examples of household hints from the good old days:

• Bottles can be cleaned thoroughly by adding pieces of raw potato, crushed egg shells, or coarse sand to a baking soda solution in the bottles and shaking them.
• New iron pots and pans should not be used before having been washed in lukewarm water to which a little sulfuric acid has been added. This solution may remain for a few hours, but should be very carefully washed and rinsed out.
• Curdled milk will turn smooth if boiled once more after adding one or two pinches of potash.
• To keep cherries until Christmas, pick cherries with gloved hands, place in a new stone crock which should be closed with a pig’s bladder.

I would rather be living in today’s world than in any other of the “good old days.” I do know some people who seem to want their lives to be like a Graceland—just like it was when Elvis lived there. Some people would like their church to zip back in time to the good old days. Take a reality check on the good old church of yesterday. The youth group from 1967 is entering their sixties. The church of today must answer the call of today. That call is not found in the good old days—unless we still store some potash and pig bladders in the pantry.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Embrace today’s church. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

P.S. I did find one helpful hint for today’s penny pincher: Leftover coffee or tea can be frozen in ice-cube trays. Later these cubes make delicious iced coffee or tea. Now all I need is to find where I put those ice cube trays.

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The Grandparents I Know

The grandparents I know get younger everyday. Some of them are also growing very old too quickly. Many are overstressed and underfunded. The role of a grandparent can change dramatically over night. In the next few weeks I will be writing a series of articles on effective grand-parenting. I am seeking a variety of perspectives to help today’s grandparents.

Articles will include such questions as:

•What are the most effective ways grandparents can connect and stay connected to their grandchildren in spite of divorce, distance or personal disability?

•What are some of the lessons grandparents are learning as they have assumed the primary role of “re-parenting” or as they raise a grandchild with a mostly absentee parent?

•What are some of the biggest mistakes grandparents make with their adult children?

•What are the challenges of becoming an instant step-grandparent?

I am also in the process of collecting quotes, stories and life lessons from grandparents. Would you send me some life lessons or quotes that you heard from your grandparents or wise elders?

What are the challenges you or your friends may be facing as grandparents or with grandparents? What topics would you like to see addressed?

You can contact me through the “Leave a Comment” section at the end of this blog, or by e-mail at

Due to the very sensitive nature of the comments that I am receiving, I have decided not to post them publicly. Thank you for sharing.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Filed under Family Life