Scared Granny

4 11 2018

The Boeing 727 “Whisperjet”

It was fall of 1988 and I had just begun my consulting career. I was flying out of Columbus on my way home from a project with Owens-Corning Fiberglass in Newark, Ohio. As I got to my aisle seat on an Eastern Airlines Whisperjet (Boeing 727), I saw my seat-mate, for the next hour, was a grandmotherly-type who had already taken her seat by the window. Following a cordial exchange of pleasantries, I pulled out my current read and was quickly immersed in the pages of something, I’m sure was exciting.


The lady sitting next to me seemed to be a bit fidgety as she focused all of her attention on the flight attendant, who had begun giving the obligatory safety instructions.


“You’ll find these instructions printed on the card in the seat pocket in front of you,” advised the flight attendant. “We suggest you remove the card and follow along.”


Granny, beside me, watched as she pored over the safety instruction card as if she was trying to memorize it. She craned her neck, looking toward the rear and then forward, to see the exits as they were pointed out by the flight attendant. She strained to lean over me to see the white lights on the floor that led to red lights. She was really into this and I’m thinking, either she hasn’t flown very muchor she’s an industrial spy for McDonnell Douglas. It was about then that the plane began to push back away from the gate. The sudden movement startled her and she jumped like she had just touched a spoon to one of her fillings.


Soon, we were hurtling down the runway and picking up speed fast. The wingtips began to flex upward, giving rise to the nose and soon, the rest of the aircraft. As we became airborne, and the weight of the plane lifted off of the landing gear, the landing gear struts, which were just below our seats, made a perfectly normal “bump” sound as the struts extended. At that, my nervous neighbor reached over and grabbed my left forearm, digging all ten fingernails into my skin like a cat clinging to a mouse.


I turned to her and asked if she had ever flown before. With a trembling voice, she said, “This is my first time and I’m scared to death. I wouldn’t be flying now,” she continued, “but it’s the only way I could get to Charlotte in time for my granddaughter’s birthday party.”


I tried to reassure her and told her the flight would be good practice for her return home.


“Oh no,” she exclaimed, “I’m not doing this again! When I go home, I’ll be sitting in a Greyhound!”


Now, that’s a woman who loves her granddaughter!


The Quality of Your Faith

28 10 2018

Dr. David Jeremiah spoke of people of weak faith who might say, “Well, I’ve tried everything else; I guess I’ll try prayer.” Faith should be our default mode and it cannot be quantified…either you have faith, or you don’t. It can, however, be qualified, or made stronger. What is the quality of your faith? When the Apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith, Jesus told them at Luke 17:6, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” Jesus was telling them they could accomplish great things, even with a tiny bit of faith. Having more faith doesn’t equate to greater accomplishments. It’s like exercising your body. There are over 700 muscles in the human body. When you lift weights, you don’t get 800 muscles, but you make the muscles you already have stronger. David Jeremiah said, “We learn faith by stretching our faith muscles.” When we exercise our faith, we don’t get more faith; but, the faith we have becomes stronger and, eventually, seeking God becomes second nature rather than an afterthought.


First Date

20 10 2018

Yesterday morning, after my wife got out of bed and stumbled zombie-like into the den, I told her happy anniversary. Fully aware we had just celebrated our wedding anniversary in August, her gaze suddenly went from “wake me when it’s time for breakfast” to “your senility is showing.” I reminded her it was fifty years ago we had our first date. She was less than overwhelmed. Maybe she just needed coffee.


Not many people, I would suppose, celebrate a first date anniversary, especially after 50 years! And, as far as I know, Hallmark hasn’t come out with a first date anniversary card. I guess most people who have been married for 47 years may not even remember their first date; but, I do. In fact, I remember the first time I laid eyes on my wife-to-be. It was the first day of our junior year of high school and I walked into Coach Perry’s Home Room doing what most of the other boys were doing-scoping out the girls who would share class with me over the next 9 months. After all, I was a sixteen-year-old walking sack of hormones. All were familiar faces with whom I had shared classes throughout my scholastic career, except for one. I saw one new face. A pretty face. She wore a navy-blue skirt with a light blue long-sleeved blouse and navy-blue shoes.


I suppose, one could argue this date of which I speak was more an outing than an actual date. You see, the local Lions Club sponsored an annual light bulb sale in which high school kids would volunteer to help by going door-to-door hawking bulbs to raise money to provide services for the blind. I asked her if she would like to go with me. Wondering to myself if I had a chance to really get to know this new girl, unbeknownst to me, she was already practicing her new signature…Mrs. Billy Taylor. Mrs. Carolyn Taylor. Carolyn M. Taylor. So, while it wasn’t a date in the truest sense, it was the night I fell in love. But what makes it significant enough to remember so vividly after half a century? Well, they say, every journey begins with the first step and that date was our first step. Without our first date there would have been no Brian, Eric or Mark, without which there would be no Rachel, Brooke or Amanda in our family and thus, no Anna, Abbie, Graecyn or Cody.


Then, it was just six says later when I asked her to go steady. “Go what?” the millennials might ask. Ahh, the lost art of courting. I guess in today’s vernacular, we were “hanging out.” But the die had been cast and the makings of a family were born.


I like to compare it to the most significant days in the history of the world-without Christmas there would be no Easter.

The History of the Brussels Sprout

14 10 2018

A recent Facebook conversation with my niece prompted me to write the following just to get the record straight.


I have never heard anyone say, “Brussels sprouts? Yeh, they’re okay.” Nope, either you love ‘em or, you hate ‘em. Put me in the hate group. I hated them as a kid and later in life, I thought perhaps I would give them another try, thinking my taste may have changed. No, no, no. I hated them even more so than I remembered. On the other hand, I have a niece who will sit bare-butt on a block of ice for as long as you feed her roasted Brussels sprouts. So, what’s the story of this repugnant crucifer?


The original Brussels sprout is native to the Mediterranean region. The Romans grew them even though they hated the putrid taste and weren’t quite sure what to do with them, or even what to call them, so they just kept them until they would begin to rot, like a little ball of kimchi. They tried everything under the Tuscan sun but never could find a way to make them palatable. But, these ball-like whatever-they-weres had potential, or so they thought. It’s like when I empty a glass pickle jar; I don’t know what I’ll use it for but am sure that one day, I’ll need a jar so, I hide it from my wife along with the other 147 empty jars I’ll need one day.


What is This Thing?

For lack of a better name, the common term “jeest” (ancient Hebrew word meaning “thing without a name”) was used to refer to Brussels sprouts. Eventually, Romans discovered if they left the Brussels sprouts out in the sun to dry, over time, and after the stench went away, they would become rock-hard. They were the perfect size to fit into the pocket of a sling such as the one David used to drop Goliath, so, they began to refer to them as stones. First Samuel 17:40 tells us that on his way to fight Goliath, David “…chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in his shepherd’s bag…” Some Bible scholars believe that when facing Goliath, David reached into his bag and accidentally pulled out a Brussels sprout, or “stone” instead of a rock that he found down by the creek.


When the not-so-well-known Greek explorer, Achilleus (meaning “lipless”), traveled north to explore Europe, he took with him a dozen tow sacks filled with these raw uncured vegetables. The Belgians, known for having a voracious appetite and, like the English, a willingness to eat anything, found them to be quite tasty, albeit, a tad bitter.


Famed Belgian botanist Dietger Jones bought all the sprouts Achilleus had and, in his Brussels lab, began a long and tedious cross-breeding process which eventually resulted in what we know today as the Brussels sprout, hence the name. The king of Belgium, King Willy, then passed an edict proclaiming the Brussels sprout as the national vegetable of Brussels demanding, under penalty of death, that all Belgians be required to eat Brussels sprouts with every meal. But not all Belgians found them to be good-they too were in the hate group-and so many opted for the gallows-a quicker and much more merciful death. It was shortly thereafter that an English-born immigrant, Dewayne Sidelinger, the original Duke of Earl, founded a new company he cleverly name Duke’s and created a concoction designed to mask the flavor of Brussels sprouts. Duke’s became the world leader in the manufacture of what would become known as A-1 Sauce, the recipe for which was stolen by food magnate Baldwin Kraft who turned it into a household name.


So, as the late Paul Harvey would say, “And now you know the rest of the story.” Also see:

My Friend, Jesus

5 10 2018

When Don (that’s President Trump to you) was in North Carolina inspecting the damage caused by Hurricane Florence, he gave me a call and asked if it would be okay to drop by the house for a couple of hours on his way back to Washington. He said had a few ideas he wanted to bounce off of me and that he was also in the mood for some of my turkey barbecue. I had to turn him down because I had already agreed to a request from University of Alabama head football coach, Nick Saban, to provide his team with a pregame pep talk in Tuscaloosa.


In all honesty, as if you needed me to tell you, I don’t really know either of these two gentlemen. I have rubbed elbows with the likes of Phyllis Diller, Larry Miller, Wynonna Judd, Jeanne Robertson, and several other celebrities. Well, I didn’t exactly rub elbows with them; it was more like we touched elbows while sitting side-by-side in a plane. I suppose it’s human nature to want to claim an intimate friendship with someone famous. Perhaps it gives one a feeling of standing amongst their peers. The closest I’ve come to knowing a celebrity would be my brother, Jerry, a local artist in Wilson, North Carolina. Oh, I did teach Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s daughter in Sunday school for a short while, but that probably doesn’t count.


Well, I don’t mean to brag; but, I have a very close and personal friendship with the most famous man that ever drew a breath. Not only is He well-known throughout the world, He is the wisest, most intelligent, kindest and most powerful man who has ever lived. In 1968, I saw Paul Anderson, considered the strongest man in recorded history, drive a 16-penny nail into a board with just his right hand. My friend can bring Paul Anderson to his knees in the blink of an eye. My friend can outsmart, outwit, out-debate, out-anything anyone who has ever lived. My friend is Jesus and we talk every day. In fact, I’ll go a step further and say, He is my Heavenly Father. You might say, I’m a son of the Son. Now, before you go all Joy Behar on me, noI don’t hear voices. I can’t say I’ve ever heard the audible voice of Jesus, but we talk nonetheless. He speaks to me through His Word-the Bible. He helps me to know the right things to do. He helps me when I’m in a jam and gives comfort when things are bad. I’ll be glad to introduce you sometime, if you don’t already know Him. He’s always open to making new friends.

God’s Promise to Protect His Children

14 09 2018

Life is much like riding a bicycle through the woods; there are obstacles you have to go around and an occasional hill you have to climb. The difference is, when you are riding your bicycle, you are in control. You decide which way to steer so you don’t run into a tree. You decide which path to take when you get to a fork. You decide when the hill is too steep and when it’s time to stop and take a break.


In life, we have to allow God be in control; this is especially true when we face adversity. To do otherwise demonstrates a lack of faith that He is watching over us and will take care of us. Relying on our own strengths is both foolhardy and sinful. We want things when and how, we want them. We demand instant gratification and often get exasperated when we don’t see an immediate answer to a prayer, or when we think He is ignoring our requests. God has His own timetable and His own way of doing things. We have to trust He will do just as He promised.


David said in Psalms 31:14-15, “But I trusted in Thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God. My times are in Thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.”


When David said, “…my times are in Thy hand,” he was saying he fully trusted God to care for him in both his present and his future. And, he had good reason to think that because God had promised He would care for him. That same promise applies to all of us who trust Him and seek His help.


Isaiah 43:1-2 says, “But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.


When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”


When we encounter hardships, or as Isaiah puts it, go through the rivers, God will protect us. If we try to swim the raging river alone, relying on our own strengths, we will most certainly drown. But, if we rely on God, and let Him be in control, He will get us through safely.

The Legend of Saggy Pants

8 09 2018

Saggy Pants

Sometimes things just pop into your head. Maybe it’s because of something you saw or a song you heard. Or maybe it’s because of something you saw while hearing a song. Jimmy Dean’s 1961 hit Big Bad John was playing when I saw some kid waddling down the street trying really hard not to fall over his sagging pants. This was the result. You’ll notice the similarities to Big Bad John (those of you who are old enough or listen to oldies radio). Many thanks to Jimmy Dean.


Every morning at the school, you could see him arrive

He stood 6 foot 6 and weighed 125

Kinda narrow at the shoulders And boney in the hip

And his pants would fall down If he’d let go his grip.

Saggy Pants


He’d waddle into class all cocky and brash

With a sneer on his lips and talking trash

The teacher’d say, “boy, why don’t you pull up your pants?”

But, he wouldn’t say a word, he’d just cut her a glance

Saggy pants


Then came that day In the Janitor’s Room

When a fire broke out amongst the mops and the brooms

And it grew with a rage as it spread through the school

And everyone ran except Mr. Cool.

Saggy Pants


With his belt at his knees, he tried hard to run

But he couldn’t kindle a step if you pardon the pun

Fell flat on his face and crawled toward the door

But he couldn’t get out as he cussed and he swore.

Saggy Pants


So finally, he pulled his pants to his waist

And he ran from the room as if he were chased

When he got through the door, he slowed down to a trot

And joined the rest of the crowd in the parking lot.

Saggy Pants


He tracked down his teacher and to her great surprise,

He gave her a mighty hug then with tears in his eyes,

He swore an oath that was truly heartfelt

“I’ll never again wear my butt on my belt!”

Saggy Pants