Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wheaties With Sugar

My An Arkie's Faith column from the June 27, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.

The two men sat across from each other listening intently. They had a lot of catching up to do. The last time that they had talked to each other had been seventy years ago. They reminisced about their grade school days when they attended the Morehead School. They had fond memories of those years.

One of the men was my Daddy. While he was visiting a cousin who still lives in southeast Kansas where Daddy grew up, he mentioned that he wondered about his classmates from so long ago. His cousin asked, “what are some of their names?” As Daddy mentioned some names, his cousin said, “I know Marvin, he lives not far away. Would you like to go see him?” Daddy said that he would like to try and see Marvin.

I can’t imagine what it was like for Marvin to answer the door and find a classmate from seventy years ago standing there. Daddy and Marvin had been good friends during those grade school years, but once they graduated in 1948, they went to high school at different schools. They had not seen one another since graduation in 1948, until the afternoon that Marvin answered his door and found Daddy standing there.

They had a wonderful time visiting and remembering stories from when they were just boys. As they recalled their experiences at Morehead School, they fondly remembered a teacher, Miss Muchmore. She was a single lady who lived with her parents on a farm about ten miles from the school. Over the course of the school year, she would have each one of her students come to her parent's farm and spend the night. Even after all of these years, Marvin remembered every detail of his visit to Miss Muchmore’s home.

Marvin grew up in a large family. Like most of the kids in his class, he grew up poor. There was never enough money for extras. Even though it had been over seventy years, Marvin’s eyes still lit up when he remembered breakfast at Miss Muchmore’s house. She served him Wheaties, and he loved Wheaties. He never got Wheaties at home. If they had cereal at all, it was corn flakes; because corn flakes were cheaper than Wheaties. As he remembered how much he enjoyed the Wheaties, he also talked about being able to put a whole spoonful of sugar on them. During World War II sugar was rationed, so Marvin’s mother would only let them have a tiny bit of sugar on their cereal if any at all. To Marvin, that breakfast of Wheaties with sugar was a meal fit for a king.

I’m sure that Miss Muchmore had no idea of the impact she was making on Marvin’s life. How could she know have known that morning when she served him a bowl of Wheaties and told him that he could put a whole spoonful of sugar on them, that he would so fondly remember her kindness over seventy years later. She was simply following the Biblical command; “Be kind and loving to each other.” Ephesians 4:32 (NCV)

In today’s world, kindness is underrated. Often, kindness is considered a weakness. It’s mainly about smiling, getting along, and not ruffling feathers. If you want to get ahead in life, you can’t afford to be kind. But we as Christians, if we are lead by the Holy Spirit, will be kind. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Galatians 5:22,23 (NKJV) When we are kind to others, even as small a kindness as a bowl of Wheaties with a spoonful of sugar, we are bearing the fruit of a Spirit-led life. We may never know how our kindness affects someone.

There are many simple things we can do that seem little but can accomplish so much. One of the easiest is to put a smile on your face. When you wear a smile, you become approachable, and that can sometimes make all the difference in the world to another person. A kind word is a small thing, but you never know how it will affect someone.

We also may never know how our hateful and uncaring acts affect others. Many devout Christians become mean, critical, and bitter when they talk about politics. Insults, name-calling, and slander are the order of the day. They don’t seem to remember that the Jesus they claim to worship said to “love your enemies.”

There is no need to tell everyone how Christian you are. Just act like one. Be kind, forgive, love, be merciful, help those who are abused, rejected and scorned. They'll get it. “You are chosen by God. He loves you and has made you holy. So then, care for one another. Be kind. Do not be proud. Be humble. Be patient.” Colossians 3:12 (WE)

Gentle Reader, kindness is a choice. It is something we can choose to put on every day. We appreciate a kindness shown to us. And by the power of God’s spirit, we can show kindness to others. Christians spend a lot of time arguing about politics and theology. Each discussion has a time and place. But following Jesus means doing simple things like being kind. What a different world it would be if Christians followed Paul’s counsel to “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love.” Romans 12:10 (NKJV) Show someone kindness today, even if it is just a bowl of Wheaties with sugar; “Your kindness will reward you.” Proverbs 11:17 (NLT)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Running the Rapids

My An Arkie's Faith column from the June 20, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.

The little group gathered on the banks of the Yampa River. You could see the concern on their faces as they prepared for another day on this wild river. The Yampa River is the only major tributary in the Colorado River system that still runs wild and free; without a single dam along its course. It flows free with run-off originating from the melting snows and glaciers of the Colorado Rockies. The river is only runnable for a few weeks each year and permits are very limited, which gives the canyon a feeling of secrecy and surprise.

Today was the day that they would run the most challenging rapids on the Yampa, Warm Springs. Before 1965, the Yampa River was as a family-friendly river with only a couple of big rapids that were pretty straightforward. But on June 10, 1965, a flash flood created a huge rockslide that filled the river near Warm Springs with boulders and transformed a minor wave train into one of the most famous river rapids of the West.

Warm Springs is one of those rapids that everyone has a story about; you don’t just run it, it’s always an experience. It is the most talked about rapid in the main Yampa Canyon and inspires fear in even the most veteran boaters. Beneath a towering 1,700-foot sandstone cliff, Warm Springs Rapid drops through boulders for about a quarter of a mile, creating intensely churning whitewater. It is rated among the ten biggest drops in the country. The little group were not experienced whitewater rafters. The knew the reputation of these class IV rapids but were not sure what to expect. As they gathered on the banks of the river before taking off in their six rafts, they prayed for safety, guidance, and help from God.

From a distance, Warm Springs is just a band of whitewater on the river’s horizon line. But as the group got nearer, the sound of the rapids reverberating off the cliff roared louder and louder. They pulled to the right bank where the passengers were dropped off so they could walk around the rapids. But each boat had to be piloted through the rapids. While they were preparing to run the rapids, they were approached by a group that said they were with a joint search and rescue training exercise between the National Park Service and the Moffatt County Sheriff’s Office. Would they like some assistance as they ran the rapids? They were relieved and happy to accept the help.

The most dangerous aspect of the rapids are two roiling holes where submerged boulders make the current churn backward. The first boulder in the middle of the rapid has been dubbed, Godzilla. The last hole in the rapids is named Maytag and can flip rafts and work over boaters. According to the website; “If you miss the entrance and setup on warm springs, you are guaranteed a white-knuckle beating in Godzilla and probably Maytag holes.”

My son-in-law piloted the first boat into the rapids. He said, “that feeling when you see the rapids up close is an adrenaline rush like no other.” When he tried to navigate the turbulent waters of Godzilla, he was thrown out of his raft. As he was being swept down the river, the rescue team was yelling at him, “swim, swim to shore.” He said, “as soon as I hit the water, it seemed that every ounce of energy was sapped from my body. Even though I knew that my life depended on it, I couldn't find the energy to swim to shore.” After what seemed like an eternity to my son-in-law, someone from the rescue team was able to throw a rope to him and pull him to safety. After getting to shore, he collapsed and just lay there for several minutes before he had enough energy to stand. The ordeal had sapped every bit of energy from him.

Four of the remaining five boats, including the one piloted by my daughter, made it through. But one of the boatsmen was thrown into the water and had to be rescued. After getting all of the boats through the Warm Springs rapids, the group got back into the boats and made their way on down the river. As they floated on through the canyon and looked at the amazingly beautiful scenery, they thought about their prayer that morning. They had prayed for safety and God’s help. They had made it safely through the rapids even though there had been tense moments. After being rescued, my son-in-law found out that the joint search and rescue training exercise was a yearly training and had been scheduled a year ago.

As my son-in-law and his family were recounting their experiences on the Yampa River raft trip, and especially their struggles at the Warm Springs rapids, I thought of the scripture found in Isaiah 65:24 (NKJV). “Before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear.” The little group had no idea when they were praying that morning that God had answered their prayer one year before they asked for His help. “Before they call, I will answer.”

Gentle Reader, David wrote about his near-drowning experience in Psalms 69:1-3 (NIV). “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched.” Every one of us has experienced the need to be rescued. God has made a promise to us. "Call to Me, and I will answer you." Jeremiah 33:3 (NKJV)  When God answers our call, he will bring us to a place of safety. “He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.” Psalms 18:19 (NLT) When you call on God, you can count on Him to answer you, rescue you, and save you.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Daddy's Day

Today is Daddy's 63nd Father's Day. I know because I have been around for every one of them. Some people may have a Father, but I have always had a Daddy. I have spent most of my life working alongside my Daddy.  Here is proof.  I learned the auto body trade very young.

How Long Have I Been Sanding

Through the years some of the things that I have learned from my Daddy are the importance of having God in your life, and how to work.  Here are some photos of Daddy working through the years.

30 Model A

Happy Daddy's day.  Some people have fathers, but I have always had a Daddy.