Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Messy Situation

Jackie picked up the phone to hear from her oldest friend, Rosa.

“What’s up?” Jackie asked.
“Well, I have a problem, and I need your advice.” Rosa answered.
“Sure. Lay it on me.”
“ Well, you know I have been friends with Delores since high school and you know she is married to Ron. Well, I just found out that Ron is dating Jeannie and now Jeannie is pregnant with his baby. What I am wanting to know, is should I tell Delores, or should I just keep out of it? I mean, I don’t want to break her heart with the news, but I don’t want her to not know something that she should know, and I don’t want her to find out that I knew and never told her. Oh, I just don’t know what to do. What do you think?”

Jackie said,” Boy, when you said you had a problem, you were serious. I was hoping that you just wanted to know if you should wear the brown sweater or the black one. How do you know that he is dating Jeannie and how do you know she is pregnant and how do you know that he is the father?”

“You know, I have seen Ron and Jeannie together several times, and have been hearing from the guys at work that he is dating her. This has been going on for a while. Last night, I found out from Peggy Sue that she is pregnant, and it is a sure thing. It is definitely Ron’s baby. And Delores is just walking around without a clue. I feel so bad for her!”

“Ok. If you are sure that Ron is really seeing this girl and you are sure that she is pregnant with his baby, how do you know Delores doesn’t know? I mean really, a lot of times wives know more about what their husbands are doing than people realize. Sure, they never admit it to anyone else. But they know.”

“No, Jackie. I really don’t think that she does know. I am telling you. I talk to her and I can tell she doesn’t really have a clue. You know, she and I have been close over the years. I really don’t know what to do. My mom has always said ‘Don’t tell someone because they won’t get mad at the cheating spouse. They will get mad at you for telling them.’”

“Well, I wouldn’t want someone to tell me. I would probably be very upset, embarrassed and annoyed. The way I would look at it, if it were my husband, I would not want one of my closest friends to tell me. I would want to find out on my own. It would save me at least some embarrassment that way. I mean, who would want to have to hear it from their best friend? She will already be humiliated enough without that adding to the humiliation.”

“You wouldn’t want someone to tell you Jackie? Really? Because I would want you to tell me!”

“ No way, Rosa, I wouldn’t want to hear it from my bestie. I wouldn’t want to tell you either. That is a horrible situation. I still say that Delores may know more than you think. She may know about the affair and not talking about it because she is in denial or she silently accepts it. You just never know what people have worked out between each other when they are married.”

“Oh yeah, you can bet I would want you to tell me so that I wouldn’t waste any time divorcing that sorry sucker!” Rosa replied.

“I can’t tell you what Delores wants, but I can tell you beyond the shadow of a doubt that I wouldn’t want you to tell me, if it were me in that situation.”

“Wow. OK. I guess I won’t tell her then. But I have a feeling that a divorce is on the horizon, and I just hate to see what Delores is about to be put through.”

2 weeks later

“Hello?” Rosa says as she answers the phone.

“Hey Rosa, it’s Jackie. Guess who is pregnant?” Jackie asks.

“Linda,” replies Rosa.

“Yeah,” says Jackie. It seems that Fred saw fit to blab it to me at work. He thought I knew already. He thought my sweet husband Sam had already left me, since he has a baby on the way with his girlfriend. I promise you, I never saw this coming.”

“I am so sorry, Jackie. I had heard it. I wanted to tell you, but I didn’t know if you would just get mad at me, or if you would want me to tell you. That is why I made up that whole story about Delores, Jeannie and Ron. I had to see what you wanted me to do. I am so sorry….”

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Just a Little Gift

I had the honor of attending Christmas Eve candlelight service on Monday night at my church, The Journey UMC. Our pastor informed us that we could partake in a church tradition, after the service. The church made gift or goody bags available to us to take out into the world. He suggested that we drop them off with people who were at work still at the grocery stores or drug stores or where ever we could find that someone was not able to go to a candlelight service on Christmas Eve.

He suggested that we give them a bag and tell the person that this is from The Journey UMC and that we just want you to know that we wish you a Merry Christmas and wanted to pass to you the peace of Christ on this Christmas Eve. (Or something like that.)
I took three of these bags. I had to go shopping after the service, so I went to Walmart and bought groceries. I gave the first bag to the cashier who waited on me. She took it and thanked me, set it down and went back to work.
As I was walking out, the store manager was standing just outside the door to tell people approaching the door that they would be closing in just 5 minutes. I gave one of the bags to him, but he was hesitant to take it. He stood there with his arms folded, looking at me.
 Finally, he said, “You meant to tell me that this is free?”
 I said, “Yes, it is free. It is from my church. We wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas.” He took it from me.
Then, when I got to my car, a worker stood beside my buggy and told me he would take my buggy for me as soon as I was finished with it. I extended a bag to him.
 He said, “Oh no, ma’am. I am sorry. We are not allowed to accept things from anyone.” 

I said, “Really? Because I just gave one to your manager and he accepted it. So you take it too. It is from my church and we want you to have a Merry Christmas.” 

He said, “My manager took one?” 
I said, “Yes, he did. And you take one too. If it makes you feel more comfortable, don’t tell anyone, but you take this and have a Merry Christmas.”
Finally, he accepted the bag and took the buggy too.
I never knew that giving something to someone would be so hard. But, I guess that maybe God feels the same way sometimes.
copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Who Started This Christmas Business

AN ENCOURAGING WORD written for publication in the Monroe Journal, December 13, 2012, by Dr. Thomas Lane Butts, Pastor Emeritus, First United Methodist Church, Monroeville, Alabama


The Christmas season is a cheerful time for most people, but there are frustrations. Even people who tend to keep life manageable occasionally encounter some unsettling and frustrating experiences in the hustle and bustle of the season.

There are people for whom Christmas provokes deep feelings of sadness. It is a time for remembering, and not all our Christmas memories are happy. For some it is the first Christmas after a sad experience -- death of a loved one, a divorce, etc. When you are expected to look and act happy, but you are sad, it is easy to forget the reason for the season, and pray it will soon be over.

I could offer tons of conventional advice on how to keep meaning in the season. I am a professional at offering conventional advice about many things, but after more than a half-hundred years in an advisory capacity, I have come to the conclusion that most people already know more conventional wisdom than they care to use, and that most people for whom Christmas is an unhappy time can find someone to help them through, if they are interested in help. But let's face it, there are people who actually enjoy being unhappy. Their lives and their relationships are defined by their negative view of life. Don't try to cure their condition. You will end up being caught up in it. Just avoid them, if you can.

When money is limited and demands (or perceived demands) are unlimited, it is frustrating. When you feel obligated to match gift for gift. dinner for dinner, Christmas card for Christmas card -- when you feel compelled to attend and give so many parties, when you focus on the business of Christmas, it is easy to lose sight of the heart of Christmas. And if we are not careful the glitter, the gifts, the food, the parties, and the over-the-top commercialization of Christmas will leave us physically tired, spiritually empty, emotionally over-spent, and perhaps financially broke. It is a sad critique of the holiday set aside to honor one who taught us of love, peace, and kindness.

When you become stressed out humor helps, and there is always humor to be found as children begin to sense some suspicious inconsistancies in the Santa Claus myth. One child climbed up on the lap of Santa Claus at a department store and shared his wish list. Later that day, in another store, there was Santa again, who when he saw this child said, "Ho, ho, ho, what would you like for Christmas this year?" With a puzzled and suspicious look on his face the child admonished Santa, "You really need to write these things down!" When my grand neice, Callie, was about 8 years old her parents gave in to her barrage of suspicious questions and confessed to her the truth about Santa Claus. This bright and perceptive little girl then asked her parents: "What else have you been lying to me about?" The weak effort to continue the myth beyond credulity can be humorous. A father said to his young daughter, "Look at all the presents Santa left for you!", to which the child replied, "Dad, this looks like your handwriting". Dad said, "Well, I let him borrow my pen". Daughter pushed on, "That wouldn't change his handwriting". "Well" said Dad "we also had a couple of glasses of wine together" Look for the humor as well as the holiness in Christmas.

There was a mother who was Christmas shopping with her two young children. After three hours of looking at row after row of toys and hearing them ask for everything they saw on those shelves, she was feeling the overwhelming pressure that so many feel during the holiday season. She was relieved when she finally made it to the elevator.

When the elevator doors opened there was already a crowd in the car. Determined to get out of the department store as soon as possible, she pushed her way into the crowded car, dragging her two kids and her packages with her. When the doors closed she couldn't take it anymore. She blurted out in an angry voice, "Whoever started this whole Christmas business should be found, strung up and shot!"

From the back of the elevator a quiet and calm voice responded, "Don't worry, we have already crucified him".

The rest of the trip down the elevator was so quiet that you could have heard a pin drop. Hmmmmmm

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Last Words

She was my best laughing buddy. Billie Ann and I had met while passing one another on the breezeway at Alco Baptist Church, dropping off our respective children at daycare. We started out saying Hello to one another. Then, it was short conversations as we waited for our children to gather their things. After a while, it turned into longer conversations. Over time, a friendship developed.

She worked for a contractor and I worked at a foundry. We discussed our jobs, kids and exes. And we laughed at anything and everything.

She went through some hard times and so did I. We were both laid off from our jobs. But we still laughed. We started hanging out at each other’s houses, met each other’s families, shared meals and kept laughing.

She was a little heavy and decided to have bariatric surgery to lose weight. I cheered her on. She had to have a whole battery of tests run beforehand. They x-rayed her whole body, I think. She was winded easily, but I always figured that was because of her weight. 

When she moved out of her house, I helped her move. Our children played together, fought with each other and went to each other’s Birthday parties. We all sometimes attended church together.  We were like peas and carrots.

I remember her saying that she was feeling kind of spooky about praying recently because everything that she prayed for was coming to pass. She said that it was the first time in her life that this had happened.

The day of Billie Ann’s surgery came and she did well. She stayed in the hospital a couple of days and then went home to her Aunt’s to recover. The boys and I visited her there, and other than being tired, she seemed well and was losing weight. The plan was for her to lose a certain amount of weight, and then find a new job.

I took her for return appointments and to get a B-12 shot for energy. They gave me a B-12 shot too. She started feeling really bad and they put her back in the hospital. She remained winded and had some other complications that really puzzled the doctors. I got my ex to watch the boys and went to the hospital to visit her and laughed with her. We hoped they would find the problem soon.

The next day, I found out that she was in ICU. The doctors knew that she was getting worse, but still couldn't pinpoint the cause of the problem. Again, I visited and we talked and laughed together. I didn’t know what to do to help her. I wasn't a doctor. But they say that laughter is the best medicine, so I could definitely help with that. We spoke about our plans when she was released from the hospital. We laughed some more, I fed her some ice chips, which is all they would let her eat and started towards the door to go home.

This is the part in which I have to talk about the fact that I am not a mushy person and don’t go around telling people that I love them all of the time. Really, I don’t. Obviously, if I didn't like someone, I wouldn't be around them. I count my mere presence as affirmation. I expect for others to do the same. But, for some reason, something told me to tell Billy Ann that I loved her. It was like a little voice that I didn't hear often. But I obeyed. I turned around and said, “I love you”.

I went home and started to go and visit her the next day. Again, that little voice spoke to me instructing me this time to put my own family first, so I took my son to his soccer game instead. As I was turning in to the field, I thought of John 14:

 Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

This was a comforting scripture to me that had been recited by my grandmother with my mother when she was dying. I made a mental note to read it to Billy Ann the next time I visited her.

But it was not to be. See, Billy Ann passed away at the same time that the scripture was brought to my remembrance. Her lung collapsed, and the doctors did emergency exploratory surgery to determine the cause. That was when they found a massive, malignant tumor wrapped around her heart and lungs. They said it was inoperable and that she would die. And she did just a few hours later. I always wondered how they didn't know about the tumor with all of the tests that they ran before her initial surgery. And, I understood why she had been so winded all of that time. It wasn't because of her weight alone, but because she was fighting against a tumor that she didn't know she had.

One thing I was glad about was that my final words to her were “I love you”. I had no regrets about our friendship; none about words not said. When we think about what we are saying to people, we need consider whether it will be our last time to speak to them. Those moments happen when we least expect them.

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

18 Wheeler Burial

This story is a little hard to follow, so just be patient with me. I didn't know of a better way to tell it.

Jim died in the early 70’s, and was buried in a family cemetery in central Alabama. Ruth, his widow remarried her widowed boss years later. Soon after the nuptials were exchanged, her family became concerned about the manner in which her new husband treated her. He wasn't very considerate. It was actually just a conflict. They were in love with the same person: him.

It probably wasn’t his fault. After all, he didn’t even have a real name. He had initials. His name was DA. I swear, it is the truth. Ok, the initials may have been changed to protect innocent people in this family’s story, but otherwise it is all the truth. The D and the A didn’t stand for anything, (well not officially); that was truly his name. When I was little, I knew of a little boy named Ronald Bryan who was called RG. That made sense. But this man’s name was DA. What could one expect of someone who didn’t have a real name? He was probably bullied as a child because of it.

So, DA, being the insensitive individual that he was, bless his heart, outlived Ruth and had her laid to eternal rest in a mausoleum in an affluent city in Florida, right next to his first wife, Mary. Ruth’s family was incensed and privately wondered among themselves if he got a discount for having his own row of wives in the mausoleum-kind of a quantity discount, if you will. Ahem.

Ruth’s two sons would have preferred that their mother be buried next to their father in Alabama, but DA forgot to ask them. So their opinion was a moot point; well, sort of.  Did I say “eternal rest” earlier? Sorry, maybe I should have said “rest stop”.

DA remarried not long after he sent Ruth to her rest stop at the mausoleum. But he outlived this wife too. I am sure she was laid to rest on his row at the same cemetery, but I didn’t check. He also outlived one of Ruth’s sons. The other son, Scott, contracted cancer and his life appeared to be coming to a close.  Scott’s niece Abby and her family came for a visit. While in town, she phoned DA, to the shock and surprise of her family. She explained that he had been her step-grandfather, so she was curious about him. Two weeks, later, DA died unexpectedly. (As unexpectedly as a 95 year old man can die.) Her very insensitive family, bless their hearts, laughed and hollered accusing Abby of somehow causing his death with her phone call.

Scott almost jumped for joy. Unbeknownst to everyone else, Scott had been waiting for DA’s death. He had been determined to outlive him even if only for 5 minutes. With DA dead, Scott was now legally his mother’s next of kin. As her rightful, legal next of kin, he decided to have her transferred off of the DA row at the mausoleum to the family burial cemetery in Alabama. She would be buried next to her first husband and Scott’s dad.

Abby heard about this and scrunched up her face. She thought the whole thing was a little creepy. She made a mental note in her head to go see the movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers ”. Abby thought that the dead should be left to rest in their place and not disturbed.

Scott seemed to be in remission and showed signs of strengthened health as he began to planning for her body to be transferred. He quickly discovered that it would be a lot more expensive to have her moved than he thought. He stewed about this problem for a while, and finally arrived at a solution.

Scott’s son Timmy was a brawny man who drove eighteen wheelers for a living. He drove from Miami northward to all kinds of destinations in the Northern U.S. Scott would have Timmy to pick up a load in Miami, then go to the city in Florida that had the cemetery where his mother was, pick her up and put her casket on the back of the trailer. With the truck loaded with his cargo and grandma, Timmy would drive Granny to Alabama and drop her off at her final resting place (hopefully) and be buried next to Scott’s dad.

Ummm, yeah. This was really happening. 

Abby heard about these plans and was mortified. Oh. My. God. Tell me this isn’t happening; not anywhere in the world; not in this country; in my family; Oh My. God. Abby thought. “No!!! Tell me this is not going to happen!” she said.  “Please tell me, tell me that ya’ll are not going to move my Granny Ruth, my DEAD Granny Ruth, from her resting place in Florida to a grave in Alabama, on the back of an eighteen wheeler?! Please tell me that Timmy will not be tooling all over Florida and Alabama with Granny Ruth in the back of his truck? ” Abby didn’t know whether she should laugh or cry. This had to be the most preposterous, redneck thing that had ever occurred in her life, much less than in her family. This was even worse than the stories about Uncle Billy roasting road kill on the boy’s weekend of camping years ago with his son-in-law and Abby’s Dad.

A visual thinker, Abby’s imagination began churning. Timmy is driving along, with a load of widgets in his eighteen wheeler, Grannys casket perched on top of a box of the widgets on the tail end of the truck. On the way to Detroit, Michigan, Timmy will just drop her dead butt in Alabama. But, two hours before he arrives at the cemetery in Alabama, a car pulls out in front of him. He has to slam on brakes to keep from running completely over the car. His truck subsequently jack knives, causing the load to shift. The load slams against the back door, breaks the bars holding the doors closed. Then the broken doors swing open, Granny’s casket becomes airborne, at which point Granny Ruth’s body is extricated from the casket, and flies solo, landing on the hood of some poor soul’s car. . The police would be called, along with the fire truck and ambulance. Traffic would be stopped. The paramedics would go to the body on the hood of the car and try to revive a woman who had been dead for over sixteen years, not to mention embalmed. At some point they would realize that there was something bad wrong, and the whole family would be featured on CNN News. People would be interviewed. The media would find a toothless, obese woman to say, “Yeah, I seen it all! At first, I thought it was a UFO coming at us! Then, I realized, it was a woman and a casket. Then I walked over to look at her and realized somethin’ wasn’t right ‘tall. And I says to my husband, ‘Floyd, somthin’ ain’t rite here!’” Talk about a nightmare! This whole thing was crazy. Indeed, this was one of the few times that Abby was actually comforted by the fact that her father was dead; at least he wasn’t here to witness this. She also secretly decided that if this scenario did play out anywhere remotely like her imagination pictured, she would change her last name from Watson to Smith.

Abby was invited to a short prayerful ceremony at the destination cemetery, which she respectfully declined on the grounds that if Granny Ruth was unhappy with the whole disturbance and her ride on the back of the truck, she would not be implicated and later haunted.

Luckily, the body was transferred without incident and Scott seemed quite pleased with himself. (Thanks be to God. Abby shuttered at the thought of what Act II might involve if Scott were not satisfied).  Abby didn’t go within 100 miles of the ceremony and there was no involvement with CNN for anyone in the family. Scott said that was the last thing that he was waiting to accomplish in this lifetime and true to his word, died within six months. He was buried in the same cemetery in Alabama. And as of this writing, everyone is still where they were buried.

Thanks be to God and Amen.


Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare:

Today, I am thankful for:
355. Warm covers
356. The new covenant
357. Books
358. Decorated Christmas tree
359. My health

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Last Lick; Kathy Style

Yesterday, I published an article written by Rev. Tom Butts entitled “The Last Lick”. It reminded me of a personal story of my own on this subject.

I was raised in a highly verbal family, led by two very intelligent quick-witted parents. So, it is really no mystery that my siblings and I were also well-versed in quick witted replies. Lively conversations were quite common, with zingers flying fast and furious through the air.

 I think that my mom and I were the worst.

 “You two just go at each other sideways,” my father said one day. And on another occasion, she and I were going at it, and he announced that he was leaving for work. We continued with our debate, (which of course, is a polite word for argument), without slowing down to bid him adieu. He repeated this statement two or three times to no response from us, when he finally said, “Well, aren't ya’ll going to tell me to be careful?!” We  stopped arguing, I mean debating, looked at him and burst out laughing. We chimed in telling him to be careful and enjoy his night. Satisfied that he had stopped the lively exchange and gotten some attention for himself, he departed. The altercation was over. Well, it is hard to be mad when you are laughing.

Home wasn't the only place that we learned our quick verbal self-defense skills. School was another place that this art was honed. “Cut down wars” were a favorite past-time at lunch and before and after school. We were good at them, and it wasn't unusual for our teachers to jump in, or even start them. “You people have diarrhea of the mouth and constipation of the brain!” one teacher liked to tell us. We were used to it, so we would laugh with her. Recently forgetting that everybody had not had Mrs. Carden’s seventh grade English class with me, I said that about someone else recently and he was highly offended. I really didn't mean to insult him terribly; I was just joking around with him like Mrs. Carden used to do with us. Oops!

I was always quick to pop back at someone who would try to insult me and my personal motto was to get them worse than they had gotten me. Such was the case one evening at work when I worked in a foundry. A number of new supervisors had been hired in anticipation of opening a new plant. Then, the bottom dropped out of the economy, orders were scaled back significantly and we were unable to open the new plant and had to cut back on production at the existing plant. The obvious result was that supervisors would have to be laid off. ( Which is a polite word for fired).  We knew that some of us would get the proverbial ax  and were discussing which ones of us it would be. Just for the sake of luck, I made the comment that it might be me. (If I didn't think it would be me, then Murphy’s law says that it probably would; but as long as I could admit my vulnerability, then maybe it wouldn't be me. That was my thinking anyway.) Then, one particular supervisor, whose name I won’t divulge said, “No, just because we don’t like you doesn't mean we can all vote to get rid of you!” I had a quick comeback to that very rude statement, but was unable to deliver it, because he hurriedly walked off. Not to be outdone, I waited about half an hour to give him time to forget, and then approached him. I said, “ I might be the one nobody likes, but at least I’m not the one on my third marriage!.

Feeling superior, I looked at him and saw that he had a look on his face that looked like I had just slapped him. I thought he was going to cry. Immediately feeling terribly, I realized that I had indeed crossed a line that I shouldn't have. He didn't say a word. He had no comeback for that, but actually I felt so bad and was so sorry that I had said it. I regretted saying something so cruel.

Actually, what I didn't know, but later found out, was that he was on his third marriage, but his current wife was about to leave him. And not only was he divorced twice, but both times, his wives had left him and filed for divorce. This story seems so horrible to me now, that it is actually hard for me to write.

And I had never been married at the time; no one can give parenting advice like the person who has never been a parent and no one can give marital advice like the one who has never been married. Once I got married, like 75% of marriages today, it too ended in divorce. Having this experience now has taught me not to throw stones at others.

He had hurt me with his cruel words, but I had hurt him much worse, and no claim to winning an argument was worth that. I decided then to never say anything like that to anyone again, even if it meant that I would lose an argument, or look dumb or stupid or any of those things. There are some things that mean more in the long run. I have held to that decision for the most part. There are of course some exceptions, but leaving people with their dignity means more than being one-up on someone.

I realized too, that the words not said are words that don’t have to be retracted. My newer motto is “ I've never had to apologize for something I didn't say.” And that holds true. Whether it is physical or verbal, Rev. Butts is right. Sometimes, it is just better to let the other person have the last lick.


Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare

Today, I am thankful for:

347. The cold weather
348. Successful surgery for a friend
349. The amazing recovery of Joyce Boelsche
350. Psalm 91.
351. Love
352. 24-hour grocery stores.
353. The birth of healthy babies.
354. My readers

opyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Last Lick By: Rev. Tom Butts

AN ENCOURAGING WORD, written for publication in the Monroe Journal, December 6, 2012, by Dr. Thomas Lane Butts, Pastor Emeritus, First United Methodist Church, Monroeville, Alabama


A little girl came in from the playground at school one day sobbing as if her heart would break. The teacher asked the child if she was hurt, to which she said, "No". "Then why in the world are you crying?" asked the teacher. Between sobs the little girl said, "Susan hit me and the bell rang before I could hit her back".

The urge to hit back, "get even" with people who have hurt us is powerful. It has broken up friendships, disrupted families and even started wars. We want to have the "last word" in an argument and the "last lick" in a fight. Nothing is more fragile than our pride. But anybody can get in the "last word" or the "last lick" and keep the battle going. Only the strong and most mature can absorb the last lick or the last word and end the battle.

If there is anything that the world, our country and our community sorely needs, it is people who have enough maturity and grace to allow someone else to have the last word or the last lick. Having the strength not to strike back may cause momentary pain, but after the initial blow to pride, that pain is transformed into strength. Conversely, those who have the last word initially feel very good about their conquest, but after that initial flush of pride, last words turn into ashes in one's mouth.

One of the most notable achievements of Jesus, for which he is remembered as one of uncommon strength, was how he let the cruel world have the last lick. Even the hardened Roman soldiers on the execution team which carried out the crucifixion looked up at him as he died and began to wonder who had won, them or him. Today, there is no doubt about who won. But, what if Jesus had insisted on the last lick or the last word?

It takes real maturity to deal with conflicts in such way as to bring lasting peace. In addition to all the theological understandings of Jesus, he is also a noble and notable model for us in dealing with verbal and physical conflict.

Test the strength of your character today - let someone else have the last word, and if necessary let someone else get in the last lick.

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Monday, November 5, 2012

An Encouraging Word

This is different from anything that I have ever heard about love and hate. 

By Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts

While going through a file on "Love and Hate" I came across references to the works of Dr. Karl Menninger, and I remembered how much Dr. Menninger has influenced the thinking of students of Pastoral Care, and the impact he has had on me.

Known as the Dean of  American Psychiatry, Dr. Karl Menninger (1893-1990) was one of the most practical and influential psychiatrists in America. Together with his family, he founded a world-renowned psychiatric clinic modeled after the Mayo Clinic, and located in his home town of Topeka, Kansas. President Jimmy Carter awarded Dr. Menninger the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition in recognition of his wide-ranging contributions. Unlike many psychiatrists, Menninger was neither hostile or indifferent toward religion, even though he was well aware of the vulnerability of those with mental illness to sick religion.

Many clergy seeking specialized training in Pastoral Counseling have been trained at Menninger's clinic, and many more have been trained in the concepts found in his writings. I never visited the Menninger Clinic, but many of his books were required reading when I was a graduate student at Northwestern University and Garrett Biblical Institute and when I was a chaplain intern at Cook County Hospital in Chicago in the mid-fifties.

Menninger spoke of the power of love in a manner that was consistent with the teachings of Jesus. According to Dr. Menninger, love is an essential element of good mental health. He wrote of the need to "replace with love the blind compulsion to give hostages to hatred as the price for living". I was particularly interested in his clinical concepts of how to deal with anger and hate. I grew up in a religious atmosphere in which the expression of such strong negative feelings was forbidden, and anger and hate were therefore either ignored or repressed. And when at last these feelings did make their way to the surface, they were generally misdirected and often violent. As a child I was taught at home, church and school that hate and anger in almost every form was un-Christian. As an adult I learned that forbidding such feelings is not only unrealistic, but ultimately dangerous. When a person is not taught how to creatively handle the natural feelings of hatred and anger, these feelings often begin to control a person's behavior in unhealthy and destructive ways. I cannot tell you how often I hear people say they "feel hurt" when it is quite clear that they are angry but cannot bring themselves to express that anger. Hurt feelings, more often than not, is anger turned in on oneself. Unexpressed and inverted anger lead naturally to depression.

It is interesting how freely we use the word "love" to describe a myriad of people, places, objects, situations, ideas, etc. We understand that love has many meanings. Yet, somehow, we assign only one definition to the word "hate", and it is dark, sinister, and most unchristian. The dictionary simply defines "hate": "to dislike intensely, to feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward."  All of my ministry I have talked with people who could not bring themselves to use the word "hate" as a label for their feelings toward certain people who had used and abused them. The word was airbrushed from their vocabulary even as they described people who have kept them in abusive and destructive relationships. The only way they could bring themselves to even mention the emotion of hate when it was so obviously present, and more than justified, was to wrap it up in a semantic safeguard such as, "I hate their ways, but not the person"  But, there is one person they will openly and verbally hate without any hesitation. They will say, "I hate myself". Once again we see a powerful feeling misplaced by turning it in on the victim. Self-hatred becomes a sick substitute for the expression of what is actually felt toward people who have been the real enemies of the our best interest and the source of our mental and (sometimes) physical distress. Can you hear what I am saying?!

In his book, "Man Against Himself", Menninger addressed the very root of the problem. He said, "We have come to see that just as a child must be taught to love wisely, so that child must also learn to hate expeditiously, to turn destructive tendencies away from himself and toward the enemies that actually threaten his well-being rather than toward the friendly, defenseless and the more usual victims of destructive energy". The "hating expeditiously" part of that counsel would have been completely unacceptable in the religious and social milieu in which I grew up.  But after more than a half-century of trying to help people who were sick in mind, body and spirit from having turned their hatreds and anger in on themselves, I understand the efficacy of Menninger's counsel. To turn hatred and anger in on oneself is not a religious virtue. It is a self-inflicted wound and the source of a plethora of emotional and even physical problems, none of which are virtuous.

If the idea of "hating expeditiously" in some way offends your religious sensitivities, read the Book of Psalms with that phrase in mind. The Psalmists were not afraid to be angry or afraid to hate expeditiously. Here in this part of the Bible to which we characteristically turn for comfort and guidance in troubled times, the Psalmists knew how to purge their souls by directing their hatred where it belonged. The word "hate" is used more times in the Book of Psalms than in any other book in the Bible. The Psalmist in Psalm 139 speaks of how he feels toward the enemies of the Lord. "I hate them with perfect hatred" (verse 22).

We all know that hatred is not only a natural but also a dangerous emotion. It becomes malignant when it "freezes" and will not be moved by love or reason. Be careful with hate, but do not "deep-six" it. If you do, it will come back to haunt and harm you in many dangerous and unexpected ways.

I was initially shocked when Menninger wrote that "each person kills himself in his own selected way, fast or slow, soon or late, and the methods are legion". But at this end of my life I am shocked and saddened to see the ways in which people do just that, consciously or unconsciously, with the bottle, a drug of preference, a fork, by driving 90 miles an hour, or you name it.

Someone once asked Menninger what to do if you felt you were having a nervous break down.  He said, "Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks and find someone in need and do something for them". That sounds like the advice of an old friend of ours who lived 2000 years ago. Hmmmmmmm.

Thankfulness Challenge or Joy Dare
Today, I am Thankful for:

338. Mondays. Yes, I did say Mondays.
339. Waking up to Mountain Dew in the bottle.
340. Rev. Thomas Lane Butts
341. Karl Menninger
342. All of the emotions that God blessed us with.
343. The life of Sue Gage. May she rest in peace.
344. The life of Walter Steele. 
345. Cool mornings.
346. An extra hour of sleep yesterday morning.

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Child's View of the Visit to the Dead Sea Scrolls

This summer I didn't do much. I went around cutting grass. I went to go see the FIRST writings of the BIBLE!-)! I played football. My summer was REALLY FUN! When I sent to go see the first writings of the bible, I saw torn pieces of paper and burnt pieces. There was even a journal that was in Hebrew and there is a machine where you can translate it to English. My Mom did translate. But I was wanting to translate something else. I saw an old jug. They used to put wine in a big jug and have someone carry it to Jesus then Jesus would give the person who carried the jug a bible or a new jug to keep. Every time someone delivered the wine someone would go to the only guard tower and that only guard tower had an angel with a sword on fire like the ones guarding the garden of Eden. The reason why they need an angel is because the people work hard making their clay houses. History hasn't changed much. They had sandals. We have sandals. See, some things haven't changed. The angels that guarded Jesus still are in the town where Jesus rose up to heaven. I got all that info just from a journal.

 The End

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Elections, Money and Football

The following is absolutely the best, most true statement that I have heard about the election. And I am thankful and just flat out proud to have heard it in the middle of a sermon  from my pastor, Rev. Kyle Toomire:

“…look around us – everywhere we see people who are lost and hurting.  All around us we see anger, resentment, and moral breakdown.  And the church has to stop looking to the things of the world for answers.
I do not care what the commercials or the newspapers or the pundits tell you – WE CANNOT ELECT a Savior.  He has already come."



The presence and number of children is one of the strongest indicators of the health of a church. I have never been in a weak, dying church that was full of children. On the contrary, I think the kids keep it vibrant. They keep us vibrant. I was making this point to Rev. Toomire, telling him that I thought it was because our children are our future. He immediately corrected me, saying  “they are not just our future, there are important to us in the here and now.” He is right and this was illustrated by Jesus several times in scripture.

Indeed, that attitude is reflected in our worship service. Rather than have adults to pass the offering plates, children pass them.  In our case, they are baskets rather than plates that look like huge ash trays with a velvet lining as in the church I attended as a child.

An adult lay person prays about the offering before it is collected. Then, the baskets are handed to the children, who pass them around, collect the money and return them to the adult who lifts them up to Almighty God before placing them on the altar. I recently had the privilege and honor of praying for the offering. Two beautiful young girls walked out into the congregation, and passed the offering baskets. They returned them to me. I smiled and whispered to them what a good job they had done. One little girl looked at me and said, “Look, I got a lot of money in mine! “ She was so excited. That lifted my heart and made me chuckle.


I asked Rev. Toomire, to please pray for my Auburn Tigers. They are having what is turning out to be the worst season that I have witnessed in my lifetime. He looked back at me and replied tongue in cheek, “No amount of prayer is going to help them this year.” 

It is sadly beginning to look as if he is right. And with that I will leave you.


Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare
Today, I am thankful for:

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Thursday, October 25, 2012

An Encouraging Word

Reverend Dr. Thomas Lane Butts, Jr. is probably the first pastor that I can recall having as a child at the First United Methodist Church in Brewton, Alabama. I was thrilled to connect with him again recently. He regularly writes a column for a newspaper in Monroeville, Alabama where he serves as Pastor Emeritus of the First United Methodist Church. He very graciously granted me permission to publish this on my blog. I am very honored to pass along these words of wisdom.


For the Jewish world into which Jesus was born, words were very power. A word spoken in Hebrew was more than just an uttered sound. It was alive with meaning. The Hebrews spoke sparingly. The Hebrew language has fewer than 10,000 words, whereas Greek has 200,000. The English language has some 800,000 words and is growing rapidly. What is the care and intent we give as we use this vast treasure trove of words?

The Old Testament is filled with examples of the power of words. In the creation story in the Book of Genesis, each stage of creation begins with..."And God said..". God spoke the world into being. In Genesis 27 there is the story of Isaac being deceived into giving his blessing to Jacob when he had intended to give it to Esau, the elder son. But once the word of blessing had been spoken, it could not be retracted,  It is clear that the Old Testament Jew viewed the words with awe.

Our words both reflect and create our attitudes. The world of medical science is discovering the power of words and attitudes to heal or hurt. Most doctors see at least one person each day who has talked himself or herself into being sick, and will not get well until they change their words and their attitudes. The will to live is a powerful force that can keep a person alive beyond normal expectations, and the will not to live is equally powerful.

In his book, "The Healing Heart", Norman Cousins wrote, "The will to live is not just a frame of mind, but a specific biochemical force. For all we know, the will to live may be one of the connecting links between the belief system and the healing system". Your attitude can make you sick. Your words can kill you, or they can heal you.

There are people whose words wound others, not because they consciously intend them to wound, but because they are careless with words, and/or thoughtless about others. They are so self-centered (narcissistic) that they never consider what their words will do to someone else. The variations of this category of person are almost endless, but more often than not these self-centered people are persons who, for some reason, also consider it theri duty to offer unsolicited advice.

Is it really necessary for us to tell people how wrong they are and how they can improve? Most unsolicited judgments and criticisms are given out of a personal need to control and dominate rather than being offered as a humble concern for others. Unless a person asks your opinion, the critique you give will be more an anchor than a sail. And if a person does ask your opinion, be sure your words are carefully selected and offered with the intent to help another up with a tender hand and soft eyes.

When Ben Franklin was not quite 21 years of age, he was dissatisfied with his life. He resolved to change and wrote out four resolutions by which he expected to live the rest of his life. One of those resolutions was: "I will speak ill of no person whatever, not even in a matter of truth". Little wonder he made such a tremendous contribution to the life of this country!  Words have the power to help or hurt.

Be careful what you say, to yourself or others.


Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare
Today, I am thankful for:

329. A cold front on the way to the area. 
330. Connecting with people from long ago.
331. Old remedies.
332. Waking up--always waking up.
333. Remembering someone's name and face.
334. Finding treasure in someone's letters.
335. Receiving thank you notes by surprise.
336. Elections-We are blessed to be able to vote.
337. Passing down information to my sons.

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Monday Wrapup

As the sun set on Monday, I wondered if you had a good day or a bad one. The beginning of the week is a return to reality for many after an enjoyable weekend. Regardless of how your day went yesterday, read the following story, compare your yesterday to the yesterday of the worker's in this story. If your day was better, feel blessed.

I was a manufacturing supervisor for sixteen years give or take a year or two. As a supervisor on graveyard shift, I learned that there were two different classes of sleepers. One is the person who is at his station, trying to keep his job done and inadvertently nods off from exhaustion. As a supervisor, I would gently wake someone up in this scenario, and move along. The other class of sleeper was totally different. This class was formed by people who purposely sleep.

When I worked in a foundry in South Alabama, where the days were long and the work was very hard, I heard a story through the grapevine about a worker who we will call Fred,  caught sleeping by his supervisor, who we will call Joe.
Fred wandered away from his work station, pulled off his overcoat, wadded it up and used it for a pillow on the floor, took off his steel toed work boots, and put them in front of a fire barrel that was one of many that had been stationed throughout the plant. He put his noggin on the pillow, stretched out and began cutting z’s. From the look of the scene, it was obvious that Fred meant to lay down and take a nap on the company dime. Joe searched for him all over the plant. Finally, Joe found Fred snuggled up to the fire barrel dreaming of warmer days in happier places. Joe went and found a safety pin, wrote a note in his very bad, crooked handwriting, returned and pinned the note onto the shirt of the worker. Then he walked away. This is what the note said:

As long as you are asleep, you still have a job. But when you wake up, YOU ARE FIRED!!!

Not even the Union President could help Fred out of that predicament.

 Was your yesterday better than this? Thought so. Have another good day.


Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare
Today, I am thankful for:

319. The fact that I didn't choke and die when I was laughing so hard earlier.
320. Rain the day before yesterday.
321. Achieving a goal.
322. Recovery of a friend.
323. God's perfect will is better than anything that we can imagine.
324. A family getting a new car to get them around.
325. Sleeping in on Sunday's.
326.Waking up.
327. Hugs.
328. Cool breezes in the evenings.

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins