Retired Preacher

A preacher retired and moved to the country to enjoy life and practice his hobby of yard work. Needing a lawn mower, he headed into town to buy one. On the way he saw a sign advertising a lawn mower for sale. He stopped at the house and a young lad came out to greet him. The preacher asked about the lawn mower and the kid said it was behind the house. The two went to look at the lawn mower. The engine was sputtering along at idle speed. The preacher increased the speed of the engine and mowed a few strips. Satisfied that the mower would do the job they settled on a price of $25.00. Later in the day, the young lad was riding his bicycle when he spied the preacher pulling on the engine starter rope. The kid stopped and watched for a couple of minutes. He asked, “What’s wrong?” The reply came, “I can’t get this mower started. Do you know how?” The kid said, “Yep.” “Well, how do you do it? Tell me!”, the preacher yelled. The kid replied, “You have to cuss it.” The preacher rose up indignantly. “Now you listen here. I am a preacher and if I ever did cuss, not saying I have, I’ve forgotten how to do it after all these years.” With a wise look on his face well beyond his years, the kid said, “Preacher, you keep on pulling that rope and it’ll all come back to ya.”

The Nature of Change

There will be many losses along our path. AndPeople are not taught how to let them go. But theseLosses are a part of our change – our growth.When the leaves fall off of a tree in autumn does theTree wait for them to come back? No, a healthy treeGrows new leaves. They’re not going to be the sameLeaves, but they will be their leaves nonetheless. AndThis is the Universal cycle of change which we are allA part of.But human nature is to resist change.So instead we try and hold onto what we feel we’reLosing. And we get stuck.But it’s time to let go. Time to be all you can be.Time to take the lessons from the past and applyThem to where you’re going. Take the lessons withYou to the future but leave the situations and oldBehaviors and patterns behind.This can be really hard since we’re so used toFunctioning under the banner of those old behaviors.But if you really think about it, you’ll see that they’reConditioned responses. And as such can beUnconditioned. It takes time and practice, but it isVery much within the realm of possible.It’s normal to respond in a way we’re used to. TheFirst step is to look objectively at your actions andWhat they bring you. If you don’t like what you’reGetting from them, acknowledge it’s time for aChange. And bit by bit start piecing together thatChange – the pieces of your life.Many people keep replaying old events in theirHeads. If only I’d done X, think of where I’d be now.If only someone else had seen what was “right”They wouldn’t have left.But going back to a situation over and over onlyKeeps you in that event – which is in the past. YouCan replay it as many times as you want but itWon’t change what happened. And it won’t bringAbout the changes in you that the Universe isTrying to hand you. Basically, it won’t bring youAny happiness.Waiting for someone to come and fix whatHappened is a waste of time. And each minuteYou spend doing that could have been spentMoving forward.Other people have their own lives and aren’tResponsible for yours. Healthy relationships comeWhen we don’t need the other person to fix us. WeCan support each other as we heal, but we cannotBring the other person to the place where healingBegins. That can only happen when the individualLets go of what’s been holding them back.Talking about what’s happened over and over won’tChange things. Looking for validation from anotherIn regard to what happened will keep you feelingInvalidated since nobody else can make thingsRight for you.And should they?Think about it this way. Each experience or patternWe let go of is a loss. And with loss there is justGoing to be pain. Allowing those emotions meansAllowing all the other ones too though. And there isA lot of joy out there to experience.But if you’re holding that piece of history in yourHands, walking around begging someone to takeIt from you, you’re not going to find what you’reLooking for. Because nobody else had YOURExperience. The parcel you’re lugging around isInvisible to them. So how can they take it from you?Explain things all you want, but that won’t help. AllYou’ll get is frustrated and crippled by resentmentBecause nobody else is helping.Wouldn’t it be nicer to set it down on the path andKeep walking? The feeling of loss will pass. TheAnticipation of that pain is always worse than theReality. Bid the bit of history a gentle farewell withKindness and respect for where you want to go.And when your load is gone – portion by portion -The only direction you can go is up – and onward.How liberating! And it’s a feeling only you canGive yourself.Trying to change the past is a big waste of time -Big, big big!!It’s really okay to forgive people and situations. It’sOkay to have compassion and understanding forOthers. By saying they deserve it, you’re reallySaying you do. You’re saying you don’t deserve toBe stuck back somewhere else.Forget about who’s right and who’s wrong. StopTrying to even the score. What you’re really sayingBy trying to prove your point is that you don’t believeIn you. Because if you did, it wouldn’t matter whatSomeone else believed in would it?By focusing all our attention on changing someoneelse’s perspective – someone else’s ideas – we’reAlso avoiding working on ourselves. We’re sayingThat the other person doesn’t own their ownemotions. And that translates to our feelings aboutourselves.It all comes back to how you feel about yourself,which is your responsibility. And you do own yourown emotions – and your own your path.Saying good bye to the past can be so very hard.And we can get so caught up in staying put thatwe don’t even realize what we’re doing. That staticplace becomes our existence. But we’re not meantto stay in one place. We’re meant to live.Release the baggage, release others – Life ischange and the nature of change is letting go!

Easter Prayer

An Easter Prayer

God, give us eyes to see
The beauty of the Spring,
And to behold Your majesty
In every living thing.

And may we see in lacy leaves
And every budding flower
The Hand that rules the universe
With gentleness and power.

And may this Easter grandeur
That Spring lavishly imparts
Awaken faded flowers of faith
Lying dormant in our hearts.

And give us ears to hear, dear God,
The Springtime song of birds
With messages more meaningful
Than man’s often empty words.

Telling harried human beings
Who are lost in dark despair
‘Be like us and do not worry
For God has you in His care.’

By…©Helen Steiner Rice



Easter, Glorious, sunny, crisp, everything-is-new Easter.That’s what I remember when I think about Easter when I was growing upIn Pennsylvania. The anticipation of going to Robert Hall’s to buy a new dress and coatWas almost overwhelming. We didn’t get new clothes very often, but it wasSome sort of unwritten law that you must show up in church on EasterMorning radiant in a pristine outfit. Finding that perfect dress (straightSkirt? Crinoline?) was a time-consuming affair. Then you needed a light coat. Not a bulky, overstuffed drab coat thatWas serviceable enough until you outgrew it, but a lovely, light pastelFrock that just might not be warm enough, but one that you would wear noMatter what — blizzard or heatwave. Then a hat! Oh, the joy! Several dressing tables would be set up soYou could perch that little veil (or some years, a wide brim) over yourTeased curls and decide which one was YOU. Of course, it had to match theCoat. Shoes were important, so mom would march me off to the footwearDepartment. I almost always ended up with flats, with a strap across theFoot to anchor it securely. How I longed for heels, which would make meTaller than my friends, causing others to think I was older than I trulyWas, and make me every inch the sophisticate. Do you remember having your shoes dyed to match your outfit? FashionHad reached its pinnacle! If you were lucky, you also got a matchingHandbag. Now, church handbags were different than everyday handbags. TheyWere usually small clutch bags, perhaps with a rhinestone clasp. As longAs they were large enough to hold a comb, a real handkerchief, andLipstick, they were big enough. And gloves. Discreet, white, ladylike, dainty gloves. I would searchUntil I found some that had tiny pearls or gathers across the back of theHand — certainly not plain gloves for me! I still have some of these dinosaurs in my closet, and I enjoy tryingThem on. After returning from church, where I obediently sat still, straightAnd silent, we returned home, where I would find an Easter basket. EveryTiny piece of candy and chenille chicks had to be removed to be certain IHadn’t missed anything. Jelly beans were sorted out from chocolate, andMental rationing began. But the one thing I miss most about those Easters is my chick. I can’t remember not getting a chick each Easter. The dime store soldThem in huge rainbow flocks for oh, about 19 cents. The colors wereRemarkable! Fuschia, purple, dark green, blue, and orange — each was toBe admired in its own way. You received a small sack of feed with your chick, and away you wentTo create a habitat. I loved the little chicks, and would tuck them upUnder my hair, where they’d contentedly snuggle down and sleep. We usuallyPut our chick in a laundry basket with a crumpled towel in the bottom, andOne covering the top when night fell. Later we’d drift off to sleep to theTune of tiny peeps that got weaker and weaker until the little darlingDrifted off. We used a lot of tissue cleaning up everywhere after theChick, and eventually they’d begin to sprout real feathers and grow out ofThe cute stage. There would come a day when I’d return home from school toBe told that the chicken just wandered off. Was I so gullible? I just accepted the verdict, and life went on. Years later, I realized that mom had probably dropped my chicks off atThe farm near the 3M Company. We had occasionally gone by there to see theAnimals. Had I looked closely, perhaps I would have seen the random orangeFeather peeking out from underneath a majestic coat! And panoramic eggs! Specialty shops still carry them, but you rarelySee a hollowed-out sugar egg with a little scene inside today. They wereEdible, but how could you destroy such a work of art? Ah, the memories of spring and Easter. Those WERE the good old days!

Henney Penney Goes to Church

Henney Penney Goes to Church Isabel Wolseley TorreyWhat do you think of when you think of Easter?Eggs, of course. The symbol of new life come spring. How better to illustrate the season’s spiritual message?I looked forward to teaching the lesson of the egg in my Sunday school class as Easter approached, but when I asked the children where eggs came from the answer surprised me.”Bunnies!” all 12 students shouted.Bunnies? I thought. Could these kids be so far removed from nature they actually think rabbits lay eggs? My own chickens would have been insulted!”It’s on TV,” one of the girls explained. “A white rabbit lays chocolate eggs.”Now I knew what they meant. I’d seen the commercial, but it didn’t have much to do with the lesson I wanted to teach. I had to think this through.The following Sunday morning I got ready for school, still not sure what to do. I have to find a way to set them straight, I thought.I checked my chicken coop before I left. My birds strutted and clucked around the hen houses: Ida, Ada and Henney Penney in their nesting boxes, Rudy the rooster scratching at the ground. Penney puffed her feathers to twice her size when Rudy got close. She was guarding a dozen eggs.”If only the kids at Sunday school could see your eggs,” I said, stroking Penney’s copper-speckled feathers, “they’d forget all about chocolate.”That’s when it hit me: What if I took Penney and her eggs to Sunday school with me? How many of the kids had ever seen a real egg hatch? Or watched an ordinary-looking, beige-colored egg turn into a live chick with bright little BB-pellet eyes, downy feathers and tiny feet, peeping away? The hatching of an egg was like a miracle. Why not share it with the kids? I’d give those children an Easter message they’d never forget!I hunted for a box to hold the eggs. But wait a minute: Was I really planning to bring a chicken to church? I tried to remember another time any kind of animal had joined us at our solemn service. Once a sparrow flew in an open window and fluttered around, disturbing the reading. And a puppy had wandered in and led the ushers in a merry chase around the aisles while the children laughed. But those events hadn’t been planned.I thought of a certain church lady, a good Christian with very strong opinions. She’d once objected to my son’s carrying in a Bible with a jazzy cover. “It’s a New Testament,” I’d assured her as she eyed the brightly colored jacket. “Well,” she’d sniffed, “it looks like a Betty Crocker cookbook!”I had a vision of my little bantam hen pooping on the ecclesiastical carpet. “I guess chickens really don’t belong in church,” I said. But then I remembered Jesus’ own words in the Gospel of Matthew: “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.””That settles it,” I told Penney. “Jesus would approve of a chicken in church, and he’s who matters!” Penney would be in the Sunday school wing anyway. Nowhere near the church, actually. And nowhere near that straitlaced church lady (I hoped).I poked holes in the lid of a straw-filled cardboard box and transferred Penney and her eggs into it. It was waiting on the table when the children came to class. As they took their seats I said, “Guess what’s inside.””Rabbits!” one boy shouted.”Kitten!” a girl said over him.”Puppy!” called someone else.”Nobody has guessed it,” I said and lifted the lid. All the children gasped. Penney blinked in the sudden light and ruffled her feathers, but soon settled down and clucked. The children came forward slowly, so as not to scare her. The girls took turns stroking her feathers.”What do you think Penney’s brought with her?” I said. I lifted her up to reveal a dozen eggs. A boy poked one of the shells with a pudgy finger. “How can she sit on them?” he asked. “They’re hard!””Penney wants her babies very much,” I said. “She’s willing to go through hard things. Just like your mother did before you were born. God puts love into all parents’ hearts even chicken parents!”Now that the children had seen the eggs, I offered them a deal. “Penney has laid 12 eggs. That’s one for each of you,” I said. “You have a choice what to do with your egg. You can take it home and have your mom cook it for breakfast…”The children giggled.”Or I can bring Penney back next week and you can see your eggs turn into babies!”Not one child voted for an omelet. By the following week the children had told all their friends. We discussed the impending blessed event. They couldn’t wait to see the chicks they’d been promised on Easter Sunday.I promised, I thought as I got ready for bed on Saturday night. Should I have been so confident the children would see chicks on Easter? It took 21 days for a bantam hen egg to hatch, and in the interest of timing, I’d taken the eggs from under Penney so that she’d miss a day of brooding. But what if I’d miscounted, or addled the eggs when moving them? What if Penney’s temperature wasn’t just right? The hatching of a chicken was God’s work, not mine. God, I prayed after I switched off the light, please let at least one egg hatch for them. The church parking lot was crowded the next morning. Everyone came for the Easter service. But why were so many people gathered around the Sunday school wing? I made my way through the crowd with my cardboard box.”Is that Penney?” a woman asked me.”Did the eggs hatch yet?” a man said.They were all here to see Penney and her eggs! Along with every child from every Sunday school class, not just my own. Even the pastor came over to see what was going on. “It’s an expectant hen,” I told him, blushing. “I thought the children would like to see the eggs hatch.””What a perfect way to illustrate today’s sermon!” he said. “Would you bring Penney into the church?”So much for keeping Penney under wraps, I thought as a pack of children cheered and followed me into the sanctuary. They plunked themselves on the stage at the front of the church. Okay, God, I thought as I lifted the lid. Time for an Easter miracle! A gasp went up. There was Penney with not one but six wobbly chicks. Three were already dried and fluffy as dandelion down. The other three were still wet from their shells. Two more eggs were nearly cracked in half, the babies just emerging. The last four eggshells showed tiny holes where miniature beaks were pecking.I looked up, beaming, from Penney’s new family right into the face of that straitlaced parishioner I’d dreaded. She was gazing down at the chicks as happy and amazed as the little girl in front of her who asked, “How did you get the eggs to hatch right on Easter?””God decides when the eggs hatch,” I said. “He knew this was the right time!”And just the right place, right in his own house, where all new life begins.

Easter Faithfulness

~Easter Faithfulness~We lived out in the country, fifty miles from a big town.We had a little church, for all of us who lived around.The minister was part time and came every other week,So when he came, we all would go to hear the preacher speak. Once a year, on Easter, we would drive to the big town.That was the only place a sunrise service could be found.So once a year, on Easter, to a church in town we’d go,My kids would make a fuss, but my sweet Mother loved it so. She lived with us, my wife and I, two daughters and a son,And everybody loved ol’ NaNa, she was so much fun.She had a personality that was controlled by love.She always said she got it from the angels up above. So every Easter morning we would all dress in our best,And go to sunrise service that would start before the rest.Once a year that preacher knew that we would all be there,Because that was the only sunrise service anywhere. He knew my Mother loved the sunrise service that was here,And he knew all of us, by name, and we went once a year.He loved ol’ NaNa and he knew that she would never miss,His sunrise service Easter morning, he had told her this. He knew we had a country church, and minister part time.He knew that we could not join his, and he said that was fine.He said he thought he knew our preacher, “Godly man,” he said.”I know he likes to travel, that’s the calling he’s been led.” When Mother died in early March, our part time preacher came,Out to our little country church, where we put her remains.Our little church was crowded, NaNa’s friends for miles around,But, we forgot to tell the preacher that was in the town. Easter morning came that year, but we were not up to,Going to the sunrise service, like we always do.Then as we sat at breakfast, knowing that we didn’t go,Deciding we should go to town and let that preacher know. They had a later service and it started at eleven,We really should go tell the preacher, NaNa’s now in heaven.So we got dressed, and off we went, much later than before.When we arrived, we saw the preacher standing by the door. He smiled at us and shook our hands, as he began to speak,And as he spoke, the words he said just made my knees get weak.He said, “I knew something was wrong, you all were not together””The sunrise was so beautiful, we had such perfect weather.” “But, you have made this service, that is why we have another.”And then I started telling him, what happened to my Mother.A puzzled look came on his face, when I said Mom had died,A look that someone gives you, when they think that you have lied. We just stood in silence, as my heart began to vex,And to this day, I’m still in shock of what he told me next.It’s something that you don’t expect, it comes without a warning.He looked at me and said…”I saw your Mother here this morning!”