Counting Calories – Again

Although I knew my belt had slowly been getting tighter, I was surprised on May 18, 2014, to find that I weighed 182 pounds. I am five feet, eight inches tall with my shoes on, and I shouldn’t weigh more than 165.

We had been in California from December of 2013 through February of 2014, and my brother fed us well!

I told Carol, “Precious, I am disgusted!”

“What’s the matter?”  

“I am having trouble with my jaws.”

“What do you mean?”

“My jaws are processing way too much food and my tummy is revealing the consequences.”

Laughing, she asked, “Are you going on a diet?”

“No, and Yes. No: I’m not going on a traditional diet that people make and break twelve times a year. And Yes: I am going to count calories.”

And so I did. The weight calculator said my caloric intake should not exceed 1,948 calories daily, so I decided on 1,900 calories for easier figuring. If I went over one day, I stayed under the next day.

I started limiting calories – not food types, but caloric intake – on May 18, 2014; and five weeks later, June 25, I was down to 160 pounds. My plan worked. Ice cream, pies, and cookies were part of my diet, but only in limited quantities, and only after a hearty – not large, but hearty – meal.

If you want to know: my daily caloric intake for the 5 weeks averaged 1,713.

Oh, I almost forgot: Carol also experienced significant weight reduction because we both disciplined ourselves to a new way of eating.

That was eight years ago. But as you know, we again took a prolonged road-trip around our grand country; and guess what? My belt slowly-but-surely got tighter. When we returned home on May 16, 2019, the scale lied: it said I weighed 191 pounds! Not to be outsmarted, I replaced the battery, and the truth was revealed: my true weight was 182 – again. I remembered that tried-and-true “counting-calorie” regimen, and I decided to do it again. Because I was five years older, the weight calculator limited me to 1916 calories daily. So, I limited myself to 1850.

Limiting calories while sitting on the couch or at the computer helps only a little. So in addition to sitting at my desk doing a lot of writing, I exercised. I didn’t have the time yet to go to the gym to work out, so I worked outside.

Tree-trimming, shredding the limbs, weed-whacking around our half-acre, mowing the lawns, burning pine-needles and branches, ridding the premises of unwanted vegetation such as poison ivy, etc., was work! It wouldn’t have mattered if I went over the caloric intake because I burned it off. Nevertheless, I kept track and kept Jaws under control. Or did I keep my eating under control?

Either way, I got the weight down to a healthy level – again. (My average daily caloric intake after 6 weeks averaged 1625.)

I ate mashed potatoes and gravy, hamburgers and steak, chicken and turkey. I really like fish. And I ate fruit and vegetables. I just didn’t over-eat. Yes – milk-shakes, ice cream, pies, and cookies were still in! But in limited quantities.

I’m not a vegetarian, but I found myself asking for more fruit and vegetables, and I lost interest in some foods that are low on nutrition. (Some – not all.) Therefore, I felt better quickly and regained a lot of energy.

By the way: I didn’t LOSE the weight because I knew where it was hiding: in the refrigerator, the food pantry, and at my favorite restaurants. The key is discipline.

Our next short adventures were to Dallas to see our newest grandbaby, and to Pagosa Springs, Colorado, to be with our daughters and friends, and I made sure I didn’t over-eat.

Well, I might need to retract that statement. I caught plenty of 16-inch to 18-inch rainbow trout up there, and I tend to over-eat on fish. However, wild trout has between 202-270 calories for a 6-ounce fillet (depends on how it’s cooked). Compare that with approximately 394 for 6 ounces of hamburger, and approximately 400 for steak. Fish meat is obviously healthier for us.

It wasn’t difficult to reduce my waistline and weight. I just had to WANT to reduce, and I had to want to stay healthy.

By the way, you may use my plan if you want to: it works.

Bon appétit, mes amies.

Labor Day

The Linzey family has a current memory of Labor Day. On August 31, 2012, our oldest son, Ron, and his family came to visit over the Labor Day weekend. We had a great time with Ron, Tanya, and their twelve kids. On Monday, September 3, Ron said, “Well, we better get going. The new baby is due in three weeks and we have some preparations to make.” So they loaded up the van and headed back toward Oklahoma City.

As I was growing up in Southern California, I learned about Labor Day in school. However, at times I confused it with Armistice Day because my sister Janice was born on Armistice Day – which was renamed Veteran’s Day in 1954. That made things worse: for how could Janice be born on Veteran’s Day when she was actually born on Armistice Day. Are you dizzy yet? As a child, I easily became confused. Let’s get back to Labor Day.

   Ron’s family hadn’t been gone long when the van pulled back onto our driveway. Ron said, “For some reason, baby has decided to be born that evening. May we spend the night?” And a new memory was created: Little Daniel was born within the hour … on our bed … on “Labor” Day.

     Although most Americans observe Labor Day as a holiday, some are aware of the meaning of the day. What are some of your memories? While you’re thinking, let me share some historical data with you. We won’t discuss Jolly Old England, but will stick with the US of A.

This day is a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. It’s an annual tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. But if we look at it objectively, we should not celebrate labor OVER management or company owners. No; our achievements are a product of overall cooperation between management and laborers. But we did have quite a time getting things straightened out between the two sides as labor unions became politically oriented. However, without business organizations, laborers are not needed; and without laborers, business organizations could not exist. But someone had to be the authority over the workplace. Although that necessarily fell to management, the compromise was that labor became a cooperative partner.

There have been many labor disputes, such as the massive “Pullman Strike” and the poorly named “Haymarket Massacre.” But not all problems have been between labor and management. Many times the problems were between the laborers themselves and other problems were within management and/or between companies.

Company owners and laborers alike have made mistakes. Some mistakes were based on “company greed” and others on “laborer greed.” But both are encompassed in “human greed.” Many times laborers had proper grievances, and when cool heads prevailed, problems were resolved. Sometimes it was hard to find those cool heads.

But historically, Americans built a strong country. The pilgrims were diligent workers who believed in and honored God. The United States is a blend of people from around the world, and most of them had a desire to be self-sufficient. They wanted to send word back to their motherland that they were doing well. They detested receiving handouts but would rather give a helping hand to others. These folk helped to establish a strong, powerful working force that could solve any problem that arose. I applaud them, and hope America will reestablish that mindset today.

Some of you may have been involved in union strikes. If you have, you know it’s seldom an easy task to clearly define the issues, because both sides act like Republicans and Democrats: too often they create their own problems, hide their own ignorance, and blame each other.

We as a nation have become like I was as a child: we have become confused. Having “grown up” in the 19th century, we regressed in the 20th. I matured because I received a Biblical work ethic from my father who also taught me to believe in Jesus Christ. But America has forsaken our Biblical heritage, rejected a foundational work ethic, and is floating precariously down the river of shame and disgrace. As a nation, we are in trouble.

Our only hope to become stabilized is to reestablish our foundational belief in God and live according to Biblical principles.

What’s the Basis for Your Faith?

The title of this Reflection is a question I’ve been asked several times. Years ago, I often said: “The Bible is the basis for my faith.” But my answer has changed. Now I joyfully say, “Eyewitnesses, and the empty tomb where Jesus was buried is the basis for my faith.”

What’s the difference? To answer that, I’ll use a Protestant version of the King James Bible.

This version of the KJV Bible (printed around 1885) has 66 books, 1,189 chapters, 31,102 verses, and 788,258 words in the text. It contains stories and narratives that relate information such as numbers of people killed in numerous battles, lists of kings, priests, and prophets, and genealogies of various people.

But that information, and a lot more, is based on various dating and numbering methods. For example: some cultures listed the second year of the king’s reign as the first year simply because some kings were killed before the first year was complete. Sometimes the second year of a baby’s life was counted as its first because 1st-year mortality was rampant. Sometimes, a king and a co-regent reigned simultaneously, yet their individual reigns seem to be listed consecutively.

Various versions of the Bible – even various KJ versions – have different word and verse counts. Other things are documented differently, depending on the original ethnic scribes or subsequent translators.

All of that, plus more, give people opportunities to call the Bible wrong – therefore, impugning the integrity of the Bible – which, consequently, tends to impugn the integrity of those of us who believe the Holy Bible.

Therefore, I no longer say the Bible is the basis for my faith because detractors, skeptics, agnostics, atheists, and adherents of other religions think they have grounds to prove the Bible wrong.

I now rely on eyewitnesses and the empty tomb as the basis for my faith. As surely as the person on the right of this blog witnessed the US Navy Blue Angles flying over Duncanville, Texas, there were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection and of the empty tomb in which He had been buried. That means Jesus rose from the dead. How can you argue against a person who predicted that he would die, how he would die, by whose promptings he would die, by whose hands he would die, and that he would come back to life in three days – and it all come true? Are you going to call him a liar? Not me; especially since much of it was also predicted centuries earlier by others.

How can a person debate that? Jesus either rose from the dead, or he didn’t. It isn’t “The Bible” I have to believe – it is eyewitnesses I believe. Witnesses such as Matthew, Peter, John, and others who documented their observations. They had no idea that their writings might be saved for people to read centuries later. However, because their observations and stories were found to be authentic, they were incorporated into a group of books that became the Holy Bible.

Merriam-Webster defines the word bible as: a publication that is preeminent especially in authoritativeness or wide readership. Many bibles abound such as the Machinists’ Bible, Deer Hunters’ Bible, Flower Gardener’s Bible, the Holy Bible, and many more.

The topic of Jesus’ rising from the dead has been found by archeologists in ancient Roman documents because it was a political concern for the emperors. Therefore, it is worth our time discussing it, but not arguing over it.

But I don’t blindly accept the Holy Bible. We can believe it or we don’t have to believe it; but there isn’t much sense in arguing over it. The fact is that the Holy Bible is not just a spiritual book; it is one of the oldest and greatest history books in existence. It’s also a matter of faith. But faith goes both ways: you either have faith to believe Jesus rose from the dead, or you have faith that he didn’t rise from the dead. You have faith to believe the Bible, or you have faith not to believe it. You have faith to believe in God or you have faith not to believe. Everyone’s life is based on faith in something or in someone.

The historicity of Jesus living and dying has been proven by non-biblical sources, so that is not the issue. His raising from the dead is the issue. But you’ll also discover that Jesus’ resurrection has been proven by atheists and agnostics. Of course, they became believers in Christ once they verified the deity of Jesus Christ.

Not only does the empty tomb provide me with answers for this life, it also substantiates my faith for eternal life. And I ask you to turn to Jesus Christ and live for Him.

The Joy of Family

In mid-August our daughter, and her husband in Colorado asked Carol and me to join them for a 5-day vacation in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Our other daughter, and her husband, came up from Texas, and our dear friends Charles and Cathy trekked from New Mexico.

What’s going on? We found out.

They all gave Carol and me a surprise 53rd wedding anniversary party! They even gave me my favorite party-food: chocolate cake with chocolate icing, and vanilla ice cream. That combo became my favorite 60 years earlier at my 13th birthday party in San Diego, California.

We had a great time in Pagosa Springs. Breakfast was on our own; Rebecca, a certified Health Coach for Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, gave us ground-breaking ideas of how to enjoy our retirement years – beginning with proper eating-habits. (We began our new eating plan after the ice cream & cake.) And nightly dinner was in Charles and Cathy’s condo. What a time we had!

I enjoyed Rebecca’s teaching as a Health Coach. Implementing her information helped me to get down to my target weight. Starting at 183 pounds, I got down to 164, and there’s no special diet. I eat the food I want, I have more energy, and my clothes fit better. It’s a matter of eating good food and limiting our calories. My daily caloric limit was 1,750, but I seldom ate more than 1,600, and I never went to bed hungry.

Charles and I did what we always did in Pagosa – we went fishing! I kept two of the three catfish and all six rainbow-trout I caught. I should tell you: I like to eat catfish, but in the future, I’ll leave the catfish catching & cleaning business to the restaurants. Those critters are difficult to clean! The restaurants also cook them better than I did.

The smallest trout we caught was 14 inches, and the largest was 19. The trout are easy to clean, wonderful to eat, and Carol makes trout-fish sandwiches with the leftovers. I like that better than tuna-fish sandwiches.

One daughter and family lives in Colorado, and the other daughter and family lives in Texas. One son and family had moved to California, and another son and family moved to Indiana. But Carol and I don’t plan on moving, so we see our son here in Arkansas every day. We play racquetball, and he beats me 95% of the time, but I enjoy the game. Maybe I should mention: the 5% of the times I win are a gift: he humors me by letting me win.

When it was time to part ways in Pagosa, we asked if Serena, one of our granddaughters, could spend a couple of weeks with us. The request was granted.

Carol and I haven’t had small children staying with us for quite a while, and this was a treat.

Seven-year-old kids are smart. They know what they want, and endeavor to get it. But Serena is polite and learned my house-rules quickly. She learned to clean her plate, make her bed, and pick up the toys before bed-time. And it didn’t take long for her to learn to like my Honey Bunches of Oats cereal and my Braum’s vanilla ice cream. I had to make sure I got my fair share of it.

My name for Serena is Bunny and she calls me the Old Goat. Bunny and I hopped around and had a good time. In fact, we had such a good time that Grandma (Carol) had to settle us down several times.

Bunny likes animals, and surprised Grandma with a palm sized Anura. That word in Ancient Greek means without tail and is a frog. There are over 6,300 recorded species of Anurans which amount to about 88% of amphibians today. But even one frog was enough for Grandma. “Keep it out of the house” was the order.

Bunny didn’t talk much around people whom she didn’t know, but she was a talking machine around the house. Bunny enjoyed putting puzzles together with Grandma.

The day after we returned Bunny to her parents, our house felt almost empty. In fact, after breakfast, I turned to see if Bunny had picked up her plate – but no Bunny. Carol said, “I miss her, too.”

The joy of family is one of the greatest pleasures I know and is one of the greatest gifts of God to us. Spend time with your family while you can and cultivate a loving friendship. You’ll be glad you did.

It All is Beauty to Me

Driving over a hill, I wonder what I’ll see.

It may be a rock or a rill, it all is beauty to me.

Magnificent valley below, flowering bush and tall tree,

Swaying as the wind does blow, it all is beauty to me.

Climbing the mountain high with my head up in the cloud,

Breathing deeply, I sigh, and praise the Lord out loud.

Seeing the vista so wide, away from the noisy crowd,

With only birds at my side, I praise the Lord out loud.

Sailing along the coast, the wind and rain I brave,

I thrill with Jesus, my host, and with the freedom he gave.

Sitting on sandy shore, watching the crashing wave,

Thinking of God I adore, and the freedom He gave.

Walking through forest green, quiet meadow and lake,

I thrive in nature serene with each breath that I take.

Turning to go home, I plant my stake,

Planning again to roam with each breath that I take.

Thoughts on Godly Character

It’s interesting how different folk prioritize character traits, or Godly attributes, as having a higher value than others. For example, one person considers honesty as the highest character trait on the list, while someone else views compassion as the most important. Yet another extols humility. So, which one is the most important?

That can’t be answered because it misses the main point, and it reminds me of when a friend asked me some years ago, “Which of your five children do you value the most?” I told him, “That question has no answer because they are all equally valuable.” And it’s the same with the various attributes of God: they are all equally important.

Character is a transliteration of χαρακτήρ, or carakter, which denotes express image. The idea is a brand, an engraving or indelible mark – in this case, an image or imprint on the soul. Therefore, a character trait of God is an attribute which characterizes or closely represents the nature of God.

Having worked with an organization which taught about living with high integrity and good character, I helped teach what I unofficially called the character traits of God. There are quite a few identified in the Bible, but here is my list. Don’t go to sleep now. Read this list slowly and think about God as you read each word (in alphabetical order).

Depending on the circumstances, God is: Alert, Attentive, Available, Bold, Cautious, Compassionate, Content, Creative, Decisive, [shows] Deference, [is] Dependable, Determined, Diligent, Discerning, Discrete, [manifests] Endurance, [is] Enthusiastic, Faithful, Flexible, Forgiving, Generous, Gentle, Grateful, Hospitable, Holy, Humble, [shows] Initiative, [is] Joyful, Just, Loving, Loyal, Meek, [Jesus was] Obedient, [is] Orderly, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, Patient, Persuasive, Punctual, Resourceful, Responsible, [Jesus was] Reverent, [is] Righteous, Secure, Self-Controlled, Sensitive, Sincere, Sovereign, Thorough, Thrifty, Tolerant, Transcendent, Truthful, Virtuous, and Wise.

Still awake? Good. Almighty God is more amazing than you or I could ever imagine! After reading this partial list, can any one of them be considered more important than the others? The answer is a definite No. It takes all of them – plus more – to describe or define Who our God is.

But we can truthfully say: depending on the circumstances, several may be more applicable than others.

For Example: If I am going for a job interview, a Loving or Reverent attitude might not be as relevant as being Attentive and Punctual – depending on the job, of course. And if the house is on fire, we can forget Hospitality; but being Decisive, Determined, and Dependable would really help.

A friend manifested no less than 31 Godly character traits as he repaired the air conditioning unit on my RV. It’s amazing how much we represent God as we help others. Why is that?

When God created mankind, He programmed us to be like Him. In Genesis 1:26 God said, “Let us make man in our image; to be like us.” Therefore, as we endeavor to live a good life, it isn’t just our duty and responsibility to represent God – to be His ambassadors – we can’t help it because it’s part of who we are. And as we help others we are the extension of God’s hands and feet.

But there’s another side to this.

Some folk purposely live in rebellion against God. Some thrive as they steal or defraud others, damage reputations, hurt or commit murder. Some are greedy, ruthless, haters of good. I could continue, but you get the point. These folk are blocking God’s eternal plan for their lives.

However, if they repent and honestly ask to be forgiven, God will Forgive them although they may face the consequences of their poor decisions.

Living with Godly character and integrity produces a wholesome life now, and a wonderful life for eternity.

 What kind of character are you? What are you doing with the time God has given you here on earth?

Identification Generates Change

I’m sure you were asked as a child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As I did, you most likely had a ready answer. I wanted to be a Navy Chaplain like my father. Many of my friends gave answers such as: a policeman, fireman, doctor, race car driver, a movie star, and so forth. In the 1970s, two other common answers were: a rock singer or an astronaut.

Why do kids respond like that? The simple is: identification. Identifying with something or someone we admire gives us a sense of belonging, a sense of importance.

As a Californian, I liked the San Francisco 49er football team. When the 49ers won a game, “I” won. When they succeeded, I succeeded. When they lost, I lost. I’ll never forget when WE won OUR 5th Super Bowl Ring! Had I ever met any of them? No, but what difference did that make? I liked Bill Walsh, Joe Montana, and Jerry Rice.

But I truly admired my father, and I strongly identified with him. I always liked dad better than the 9ers, anyway.

I also learned to admire other men who talked and sung about Jesus, and in high school a southern gospel quartet from Mississippi became my focus: The Blackwood Brothers Quartet. Not having met them, I referred to them by their first names, and sung along with the records I bought. I learned all four parts of all their songs and learned to sound like them – somewhat. When I finally met them near Boston, Massachusetts, my spirits soared!

A few others whom I admired and wanted to emulate were the Apostle Paul, Abraham Lincoln, Billy Graham, Paul Harvey, and Dr. J. C. Holsinger (Carol’s and my history professor in the university).

Identification with a person, group, or event generates change. Why? We mentally gravitate toward the object of our focus.

I tend to think like dad. I’m for a unified nation as was Lincoln. I focus on the Bible like Billy Graham. I learned to sing like several of the Blackwoods. Fifty years ago, I could sing tenor similar to Bill Shaw; but as the years passed, I began singing bass similar to J.D. Sumner – but not nearly as low as he did. I learned to study like Dr. Holsinger. I learned to tell stories similar to Paul Harvey. I learned to think theologically and philosophically like Paul.

Since identification generates change, identifying with these men gave me direction in life.

Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines identification, in part, as: “A largely unconscious process whereby an individual models thoughts, feelings, and actions after those attributed to an object that has been incorporated as a mental image.” The person changes as the thoughts and feelings become a part of his life and his worldview.

An extreme form of emulation is idolatry and leads us away from God. But admiration, properly applied, is beneficial if it leads us toward God, maturity, and wholesome living.

But there is one more person with whom I have identified, and who has changed my life more than any other: Jesus Christ.

My favorite quote from Billy Graham is: “The Bible Says!” So, let’s go there.

John 14:23 says – “If people love me, they will obey my teaching” (NCV).

Romans 6:4 says – “When we were baptized, we were buried with Christ and shared his death. So, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the wonderful power of the Father, we also can live a new life” (NCV).

So, obedience is another way of identifying with the Lord. Obedience includes actions, lifestyle, and manner of speaking. And we find that water baptism is our statement to the world that we have totally identified with Jesus: in his life, death, and resurrection.

Remembering that we mentally gravitate toward the object of our focus, I have learned to focus my life on Jesus Christ. I know who I am, and to whom I belong.

Some who call themselves Christian but who do not live according to Jesus’ teachings, have not identified with Him. If your life – words, actions, lifestyle, attitudes – does not openly verify identification with the Lord, there is a question as to the sincerity of your faith.

Identification with Christ grants strength, security, belonging, power. Not power to rule people, but power to overcome evil and spiritual darkness. Those who identify with Christ receive authority to become adopted children of God. Identification with Jesus will help us throughout eternity.

Who do you admire or look up to? With whom do you identify? As you contemplate your eternal existence, will your role-models help you or hinder you? Think about it. Pray about it. Jesus is ready and willing to help you.

Two Trees … Two Lives

As we walked through the Redwood Forest in Northern California, we were awed by the beauty, the grandeur of these magnificent trees that average 240 feet in height. I grew up in Southern California but rarely did my parents have opportunity to go that far north. Eight hundred miles was a long way in the 1950s, and I saw the Redwoods only one time in my childhood.

But this was 2018, Carol & I were on our year-long jaunt around the US of A, and childhood memories came flooding through the canals of my mind. On November 14 we visited the Humboldt Redwoods State Park, and on December 8, we visited the Calaveras Big Trees State Park – in the snow, of course – with our son, Ron, and his family.

There are basically two divisions of giant Redwoods: Giant Sequoias (sequoiadendron gigantem) are found in the California Sierra Nevada Mountains, and Coastal Redwoods (sequoia sempervirens) grow near the Northern California coast.

Some Giant Sequoias grow 300 feet tall, have a diameter up to 35 feet (that’s almost 110 feet in circumference!), have a root system which can cover several acres, and be more than 3,000 years old. For history buffs: a tree that old sprouted about 100 years after Charlemagne died, the timeframe when Eric the Red (Viking) established the first colony in Greenland, and the beginning of the Mayan Post-Classical period. The Coastal Redwoods can grow 370 feet tall – the tallest trees in the world – with trunks up to about 30 feet in diameter (95 feet in circumference).

Loggers had cut about 90% of these colossal trees for housing, furniture, etc.; but various conservation groups appealed to Congress to preserve the Redwoods, and the state and national park systems succeeded in rescuing the remaining 10%.

 As Carol and I walked among the trees, we saw a number of them that looked as though two or three had been planted together. Standing very close together with 8-foot diameter trunks, it looked as though someone had poured liquid bark on the trees ten feet off the ground which solidified, connecting the trees. Looking at this photo carefully, you can see where the bark has joined the two trees.

Yes, they had grown up together – the seeds having landed about ten feet apart. As seedlings, ten feet is a long distance. But as they grew and their trunks began touching, a phenomenon called inosculation took place. This funny word means to connect or join; to become one or make continuous; to unite.

As each of them grew in width at about an inch per year, they began touching in 120 years. As the trunks or branches rubbed together and wore off the bark, the live fibrous tissues touched each other and began intertwining. They didn’t get infected, and the trees became one plant, sharing nutrients and water.

Depending on how close trees are, either the bark joins and becomes one covering around both trees, or the tree trunks themselves physically join and become one tree. The trees that fuse together like that are called Hugging Trees. And together, they are stronger than individual trees.

Trees and bushes are not the only organisms that experience inosculation. This interesting phenomenon takes place when a person receives a skin graft. Through inosculation, the blood vessels and skin tissues connect, intertwine, and become one.

As I stood in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park gazing at these two magnificent works of God that had become one, I began thinking about my relationship with Carol.

We were born in different states. Eighteen years later we met in Southern California in college. Both of us lived on campus, and – attracted to each other – we saw each other in classes, during meals in the cafeteria, and in the choir.

Married August 22, 1966, we began growing together – yes, including rubbing each other the wrong way sometimes. But we didn’t allow the irritations, the inconveniences, the frustrations, and occasional anger to infect us as we wore off the rough edges; and over the years we became one in many ways.

We share the same house, the same joys, the same children, the same grandchildren, the same church, the same God. We have the same basic goals in life. We even react in much the same way, and at times spontaneously come up with the same ideas. We’ve grown strong together.

Two trees…two lives. It’s amazing how two individuals can develop a strong marriage if they stay together, weather the storms of life, and learn to truly love each other.

Don’t Oil the Roller!

One of my occupations in our early marriage was home appliance repairman. Although my journeyman certification was with the Frigidaire Company, I repaired all makes.

We lived in a town of about 20,000 population, and with only three repairmen in town, I often received calls in the evening. Depending on planned family activities or the nature of the call, I would either go to work after dinner, or schedule it for later.

One evening, Carol prepared a Chef Boyardee dinner. I remember the slogan: “Thank goodness for Chef Boyardee.” Two-year-old Jeremy was doing quite well maneuvering his spoon to his mouth without spilling too much nourishment; but as you can guess, some portions were reaching the floor. That was okay because our Maine Coon cat, Taffy, was on duty.

After dinner, all six of us – kids, parents, and cat – were having a pleasant evening playing Toss-Across. That’s a game of tic-tac-toe played by tossing small beanbags to flip the squares (with Os and Xs) on the large plastic frame ten to twelve feet away. During my turn, the phone rang.

“Good evening.”

“Mr. Linzey, do you work on Frigidaire washers?”

“Sure do. The company calls them Roller-matic machines.”

“My machine is squealing – how does the thing work, and can it be fixed?”

“Number one: Don’t oil the roller! There are no gears, belts, pulleys, or clutch plates – just four rollers that are operated by the direction of the spin of the motor and action of the solenoids. When the motor spins clockwise, the machine agitates the clothes. When the motor reverses, the tub spins out the water. But don’t oil the roller.”

“How do I get it to stop squealing?”

I told him the part number of the complaining roller, where to order it, and how to replace it. Since it was a difficult procedure, I also told him that if he ordered the $24 roller, I could replace it for a service call of $30 if he wanted me to. Then I warned him, “If you oil the roller, the machine will stop operating altogether.”

“Thank you, Mr. Linzey. I’ll think on it.”

I turned to Carol and said, “He’ll oil the roller.” Then we returned to the game. Carol won.

About 20-minutes later, the phone rang again.

“Good evening.”

“Mr. Linzey, the squealing stopped, but now the washer won’t do anything.”

“You oiled the roller, didn’t you?”

“Yes, to stop the squealing. What do I do now? And can you come over tonight?”

“There’s nothing I can do for you tonight. But now you’ll order all four rollers for $98, and if you want me to replace them, my labor will be $90.” He hung up, and we continued our family night. I never heard from him again.

Six-year-old Darlene asked, “Daddy, why didn’t he do what you said?”

“Good question, Sweetheart. Most the time when something squeals, squeaks, or whines, a little oil will reduce the friction, the noise will stop, and things will run more smoothly. That man figured he knew more than I did, and probably thought I was just trying to get some business for myself.”

“He messed up, didn’t he?”

“He sure did.”

That was over 50 years ago, and since then I’ve met many others who ignore truth and choose to do things to please themselves. The following are three well-documented examples.

Tobacco killed over 480,000 people in the US in 2018, and Vaping is now killing people, but people still suck on those things. Drugs – both legal and illegal – and alcohol kill people by the multi-thousands, but people either don’t care, or think they’re immune to the results. Immorality of all kinds has been ruining lives, families, and societies for millennia; but instead of facing the problems and correcting them, many people choose to live a raunchy life and hope they don’t get caught in the aftermath.

But when they reap what they sewed, they try to “oil the roller” to make the results of their immoral, senseless, and irresponsible decisions evaporate. They think hiding the symptoms will change the results. But that never solves the problems.

Proverbs 16:25 tells us man’s way of thinking often leads to death. Therefore, we need to face up to the truth found in the Bible and in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Romans 12:2 encourages us to change the way we think (change the roller), and Proverbs 3:5-6 encourages us to trust in the Lord with our whole life.

Do not attempt to erase the symptoms of sin and evil. Don’t oil the roller. Instead, turn to Jesus; He is on-call 24/7, and ready to help, and He’ll meet you right now.

The Positive Side of Life

Have you noticed that I like to be joyful, happy? I like to laugh and have a good time. I learned that from my dad who used to say, “We’re only going this way once; we might as well make the most of it!”  Of course, Dad meant that within a totally Christian lifestyle.

Should we be serious? Yes, but we don’t have to somber to be serious. Just after the North lost a major battle in the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln told a joke in Congress and was challenged by his Secretary of State.

“Mr. President, don’t you think you ought to be serious in a time like this?”

President Lincoln replied, “If I took everything serious, I would lose my mind.” Lincoln understood that a little humor alleviated a lot of mental turmoil.

We sometimes forget that God’s original intention for all mankind was to be joyful, happy while we fulfill His will for our lives – even if we encountered difficulties.

Do you know that the word joy, its derivatives, and related words are in the Bible over 250 times? God approves of joy and happiness as we serve Him. One of the words is rejoicing which is “celebration of thanksgiving; making happy sounds; laughing, having a good time; being cheerful.”

Proverbs 15:13 tells us that a cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.

Proverbs 18:14 informs us that the will to live can get you through sickness, but life is difficult with a broken spirit.

Proverbs 15:15 tells it from the opposite viewpoint: “Every day is hard for those who suffer, but a happy heart is like a continual feast.” In other words, even if we’re poor and are struggling, a cheerful heart fills the day with song.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A happy heart is like good medicine, but a broken spirit drains your strength.” And I have found that a cheerful disposition is good for our health, but gloom and doom leave us bone-tired.

If you find that the cares of life are getting you down, remember the prayer of Francis of Assissi. It goes something like this:

          Lord, grant me the strength to change the things I can change;       

          Grant me the courage to accept the things I cannot change;

          And grant me the wisdom to know the difference.

Keep in mind that facing each situation with a cheerful disposition can make the difference between success or failure.

A truly joyful person is one who can enjoy the scenery even on a detour. Some of Carol’s and my more enjoyable traveling moments have been on routes we didn’t plan on, and it happened again just today. When things seem to go wrong, we try to find the good in it.

Normally, joyful people are healthier, they are more creative, they are more alert, and are more fun to be around. Why? Joyful people enjoy life! And joy is contagious. (So is depression, and that’s a problem!)

Joyful people don’t usually get stopped by negative influences, but more freely release or express the creativity that our Lord placed within them. Joyful people are generally more productive because they are prone to stay focused on what God wants them to do in this life.

It says in Nehemiah 8:10, “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

That last phrase could be translated, “…for the joy that the Lord gives you will make you strong.”

Forget Murphy’s Law that says, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. That’s pessimistic and can slow you down. Instead, think about how you can make things right.

Let’s focus on and dwell on the last part of Romans 8:28, “…And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”  

So let the joy of the Lord saturate your bones, your mind, your spirit. If something seems to go wrong, turn to God and ask Him for understanding and guidance; and then you be the human element that turns things around for the better.

Join me on the positive side of life.

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