Cookie Landing

The cookies arrived this week. The price is higher, the box size the same, the carrier a grandmother who is a friend of mine. Her granddaughter, an aspiring Girl Scout, lives out of town. I ordered from her because of the connection to the family. The cookies go in my freezer, waiting for drop-in company or to serve as a last-minute dessert when pressed for time. I opened the final box of last year’s stash only this week.

I once was a Brownie. Then, that rank was the first step in becoming a full-fledged Scout. I wore the brown vest. I still have the membership pin. I also have mittens which bore the image of a young girl with blond braids dressed in uniform.

I have memories of selling cookies. In my day, we didn’t go to store fronts and sell from behind a table. We knocked on neighbor’s doors to pedal our wares. Those confrontations taught me how to memorize a spiel and deliver it with a smile. I must have been good at it because I remember I sold one hundred boxes and received a prize for the most sold in my troop. Good for my era.

Not as many Scouts go door-to-door today. Society has deteriorated in many neighborhoods to the point children are not safe in their communities. Playing outside or even walking home from school is no longer the norm. In my community the lineup of cars outside the main school entrance is tantamount to a parade as parents wait for the final bell to gather their kids.

Instead, the Scout girls man tables in the entrance lobbies of supermarkets and malls. Like ants on a picnic they descend, waylaying prospective customers as they enter the store. Safety exists in numbers, as well as in having an adult around, as the traditional cookie continues its reach into modern day culture.

Jesus loved children. When parents brought their children to him for blessing, the disciples shooed them away. But Jesus rebuked his followers in Matthew 19:14 saying, “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” I can even imagine Him coming upon a table at the local supermarket and happily turning over coin for a box of cookies. What do you suppose might have been his favorite?

Comfort in the Familiar

Valentine’s Day landed midweek this year. My husband and I drove to the coast, one of our favorite places to visit. We’ve traveled this route many times—each curve of the road familiar, the line of trees along the shoulder the same, the waterways running alongside still carving out the path they’ve been reshaping for decades.

Comfort often comes in the well-known. Memories surface from previous visits. Like the wayside where my family often stopped for breakfast when I was a child because I became too carsick to continue without food. Or the little hole-in-the-wall restaurant my husband and I visited forty years ago and had a bowl of their homemade mushroom and potato soup. We both remember how delicious it tasted. That’s saying something since he doesn’t like mushrooms.

And yet, within the familiarity, comes change. We mourned over the giant trees still laying across the streams after the recent ice storm, their roots exposed, their trunks left to decay. The potholes along one stretch are bigger now. Maneuvering around them takes concentration. The stretch of beach near the jetty is overgrown with windblown plants and multiple rises of sand that block the view. Both of us recall when we could leave the parking area and run unobstructed to the water’s edge. Tides and time have altered the shore to the degree that this is no longer a pleasant place to stay long.

Walking with God is like our journey to the ocean. We remember the first years getting to know him. The things he did for us as he claimed us for his own. Our memories move on to the comfort we’ve found in his presence. Knowing that no matter what happens, God makes all things possible in his time. We are warmed by his words in Jeremiah 3:13: “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.’” We look forward to our tomorrows knowing life brings change and those differences may alter the landscape of our lives. But because God has walked with us in the past, we can trust him to be with us as we face the future. He will not abandon us.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

 

Bidding A Mentor Farewell

Not long after I married, I decided to pursue my life long passion of writing. Two initial successes in well-known magazines followed. To further encourage me a friend invited me to attend a writing conference with her.

The date was October 4, 1980. The speaker was Lee Roddy, a man whose writing career had moved from copy writer to radio network dramas to the sale of his novel to NBC, The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams. The story would become a prime-time television series for the network.

Later Roddy would write the Jesus film for Campus Crusade for Christ, which is now in more than three hundred languages and is viewed worldwide. Countless books are attributed to the genius of this man.

I don’t remember what Lee told us that day at the conference, but whatever it was I was moved to write him a letter. I posed the question about writing as a full-time pursuit. His response was to get creative in my thinking. Get beyond the obvious—magazines, books, newspapers—and find other avenues that could use what I had to offer.

Writing, he said, often requires a singleness of purpose. He asked what is keeping me from writing? What do I need to give up to devote more time to my calling?

Finally, he addressed the mixing of other money-making pursuits with the business of writing. He said many writers have to spend time like Paul did, making tents to survive while preaching the Gospel to those around him. A writer does the same.

He admonished me to take care of the ministry and God would take care of the money.

This past week Lee Roddy, age 95, passed from this world to the next. Many writers mourned the loss, citing the myriad list of things they learned form this humble man. I will always be indebted to him for taking the time to write to me—someone he didn’t know, who didn’t really have a career yet, but  who had the audacity to ask foolish questions. His kindness will always be remembered.

I can only believe as he stands before the God for whom he spent his life writing, he will hear those wonderful words of Matthew 25:23: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

My Iranian Suitor

park-008This is NOT a political post.

Watching the news this week as reporters hashed and re-hashed the recent presidential order to prevent people from terrorist-infested nations entering our country, I was reminded of an incident that happened to me in the early 70’s.

A recent graduate from college, I had landed a job in a downtown office not far from a popular public park. To get away from the feel of four walls and canned air, I decided to spend my lunch hour on a warm bench.

I hadn’t been there long when an olive-skinned young man with dark eyes and unruly hair came and stood near me. In those days, terrorist was not a word we knew. As a college grad, I’d spent many classroom hours alongside peoples of other nations and skin colors. We all shared the same goal—get through school.

I said hello. He returned the greeting and launched into halting English, telling me his family was in Iran, he was here alone, and could we be friends and meet sometimes?   I was startled.  He hadn’t asked my name, nor had he given me his. But his phrase certainly sounded like a pickup line.

I was mindful of the verse in Hebrew 13:2 that says: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” By the same token he didn’t fit the profile of Emma Lazarus’ poem, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddling masses yearning to breathe free.” He knew what he wanted to say and do.

I proceeded to keep the conversation going, trying to answer his questions, and trying to make him understand I was only on a lunch hour. When it came time for me to leave, I wished him well and we parted amiably.

A few days later I headed for the park. No sooner had I sat down than he appeared. Surprised, I asked him how his week had been. He responded with pretty much the same conversation we’d had before. His request for us to be friends grew more insistent. I told him I was a Christian and my belief in Jesus Christ was basic to who I was. Any friendship we’d have would be limited by our different views. The relationship he was pushing for couldn’t happen. He didn’t seem happy.

At the advice of a trusted friend, I didn’t visit the park for several weeks. Something about this encounter left me uneasy. The young man was a little too insistent. I’d known others sweet-talked down a trail they didn’t intend to go.

Later that summer I returned to the park, no sign of my suitor in sight. Relieved, I ate my lunch in quiet reflection. Could I have done more? Made a difference? I’ll never know. I’d offered  a man who seemed lost the gift of friendship. It was all I had to give.