Thursday, December 29, 2011

Seventeen, but who's counting!

There hasn't been a family picture taken in a lot of years so it was nice to finally get one done. This is the whole gang, including the newest addition in Deborah's arms and Great Grandma Curtis (or Mither to some) right in the middle. We've had a great week of eating too much, saying up playing games too late, and getting up way too early with all the little ones who got up with the sun. God has truly blessed us. And of course, it was super wonderful to have Jonathan and Holly with us for the first Christmas together since we left TN seven Christmas's ago. Even as nice as today was (mid 50's) they aren't sad about heading back to the mid 70's in LA.

Just for fun? What a mean looking group. It's really hard to tell who's who with all that fancy disguise!

And of course, here are all the "bad" girls in the family. I especially like the model-like pose of our only grand daughter. Deborah was busy with grand kiddo #8 and had to miss this classic picture opportunity.

It's has been a great week and we are very thankful for every minute of it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

Just for the fun of it - I introduced a "Florissant Version" of The 12 Days of Christmas. I thought I'd share it on my blog for anyone who might enjoy it and for any Florissant folks who wanted a copy of it. Enjoy! Hope you had a great Christmas! We're having ours this afternoon when the rest of the family gets here.

The 12 Days of Christmas at Florissant

On the first day of Christmas our church rejoiced to see:

1. The temperature was perfect as can be

2. Second day...: Two songs they love (and)

3. Third day...: Three close friends

4. Fourth day...: Four old Greek words

5. Fifth day...: Five - phones - that - ring

6. Sixth day...: Six guests a praying

7. Seventh day...: Seven Shepherds snoring

8. Eighth day...: Eight teens a texting

9. Nineth day...: Nine holes a leaking

10. Tenth day...: Ten buckets filling

11. Eleventh day...: Eleven minute sermons

12. Twelfth day...: Twelve stomachs growling

(It works better if you sing it backwards from the 12th day)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Deer Sign Tutorial

When you are searching the woods for signs of deer travel, you look for specific signs. All of these pictures are deer signs and they are all within about 8 to 10 feet of each other. These are incredible signs. They are both fresh and made by at least one large buck. The above rub could have been made by a small buck, but the general rule is, small rubs are made by any buck, but only big rubs are made by big bucks.

This rub is a little bit bigger - probably a three in thick sapling, but again, it's only feet away from all the others.

This is a fresh scrape. If you look close or enlarge the pic, you will see the hoof lines in the dirt. They scape the dirt to break it up and then leave their scent there to let the other guys know it's their territory and let the gals know they are available. It's easier than dating.

This is a huge rub on a 8 to 10 inch cedar tree, which the big bucks like to rub their antlers on. I'd love to have a picture of the buck that did this. ANY hunter who comes across this size of a rub will get excited. It means HE'S there!

Just steps away was an even BIGGER rub, probably made by the same buck and clearly shows that he passed that way regularly. If I hadn't arrowed my buck the day before I would have been putting up a tree stand close by in a heart beat.

And of course, nothing says fresh deer sign like these nice wet fresh deer droppings. They say "You just missed him!" (or from the size of these dropping - missed her)

Any one of these signs are an indication that it's a good area to hunt. With all of these being so close together and on a main trail through the woods - can you say "Next year's stand placement"?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Free to Be Naughty or Nice!

I wanted to wrap up my series on Freedom In Christ, by trying to pull several things together from this study of Galatians into a one-lesson-definition of what freedom in Christ really means. Whether or not I accomplished that goal will be left up the the listeners (you can hear it on the church web page). One of the most challenging questions I tossed out, after struggling with it myself all week, came after quoting John 8:32 &36. We all know these verses even if we can't always remember where they are. Jesus said, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Then in vs.36 he amps things up a notch with, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
We love these verses and can't even hear them without shouting "Amen!" But, here is the question: If it is so wonderful to be free in Christ, why do so many of us think of being a Christian as restrictive? Why do we tend to think about all the things that our faith doesn't "allow" us to do anymore? Why is our walk with God so often defined by what we can't do, better not do, and "shame on you" if we do?
Obviously, Satan doesn't want us to think about sin as enslavement. That takes away it's appeal. But Jesus was clear, "Everyone who sins is a slave to sin." (vs.34) His appeal is that in Him we become sons and sons aren't slaves anymore. That is the exact same argument Paul made in Galatians 5 and Romans 6. When you are not in bondage to sin, you are free in Christ! But that's the answer to our Challenge Question isn't it? Paul said that in Christ we have "crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires," but maybe we haven't really done that. When our passions and desires are still in control, freedom in Christ looks like Stop signs rather than an open road.
Here is the key: Freedom in Christ is only real freedom if we truly have a relationship with Jesus. Without that honest and seeking relationship, we're just church goers, image builders, and unhappy hypocrites! We have just enough church and worldliness to be miserable in both. Freedom comes from truly understanding grace and being drawn to a loving God and Savior.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Da Group!

This is most of our One Another Group that met tonight at our house for discussion time and fellowship. We've had a great time discussing themes from The Andy Griffith Show. Most of them have been two minute clips from the show, and they just provide an introduction to a theme that we enjoy talking about. It's been a lot of fun having this group in our home. I just wanted to take a picture of the group tonight since it will be a month before we meet again. It's a fun group and a close group -as you can see with ten people sitting around a six seat dinner table. We've been blessed to have them in our home, and hopefully, we've learned a little something a long the way too. Since Donna fixes a meal every Sunday evening for our group - I know the food had been great and probably what pulls everyone back week after week. Lord willing, next month we will begin a study of Romans - so no more lessons from Barney.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Couple of Thirty-Niners!

Thirty-nine years ago last night, at the College Church of Christ in Searcy, Arkansas, I began a life long journey with a cute young thing who went from being Donna Sue Curtis to being Donna Sue Root. Next year she will have been a Root for twice the number of years she was a Curtis. Where does the time go?
Over the last thirty-nine years, when our anniversary has come around, I have written lots of church bulletin articles, and lately, some blogs, about that decision I made way back then to wrangle her into marrying me. I just can't think of a better way to say it than the way I've said it so many times before. That decision to marriage Donna, is far and away the best, the smartest, and the most blessed decision I have made in my entire life, second ONLY to my decision to live for Jesus. If I were putting together a Dictionary, I'd just put her picture under the words wife, friend, mother, grandmother, and Christian. I would also have to put it under cook, teacher, example, and child-friendly. Even more than that, I couldn't find a better definition for kind, thoughtful, caring, unselfish, respectful, encouraging, positive, and sweet. The older I get and the more time God gives us to be together, the more she becomes my biggest hero in life. After thirty-nine years you learn one-another's faults, weakness, and struggles. I don't know anyone, who by their very nature, is more Christ-like than she is. No one is perfect, but her spirit is more consistently like Jesus than anyone I've ever known. She won't like that I've said that, but that is all the more a reason why it's true.
I'm blessed and thankful for every day God has given us to be together. Thirty-nine years is more than I deserve, but I don't hesitate to ask God to let me have a few more.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tis the season...

Well, I did it again yesterday. I was at Lowe's looking for some indoor spotlights for our basement, but I found myself drawn to the huge Christmas yard decoration aisle and all the possibilities for adding to our already decorated house. I've never really been much into decorating the outside of our house for Christmas. I like it, just not enough to put the work or the money into turning our house into a drive-by Christmas show. Our neighbors are hugely into it. I've had pictures of their house on my blog in the past. Last year, I used a picture of their house in my Sunday morning power point presentation, and compared it our house, which last year had zero decorations. I think I made a joke about people thinking we were the only Jewish family on the block.
So what was I doing looking at expensive yard decorations of angels and snowmen and Christmas trees - all built out of lights? I wanted just a little something to "cap-off" the already well lighted front of our house - for our grand kids. That's why we didn't decorate at all last year - no one was coming to our house for Christmas - so why do it? I can live with the knowledge that people who drive or walk by looking at all the other decorated houses might think I'm related to The Grinch. I don't care, but with the grand kids coming to our house for Christmas this year - the lights were up two weeks ago!
So, did I buy another Christmas decoration yesterday? I thought long and hard about it, but -hey - they were all $80 to $100, and since I haven't finished Christmas shopping for the grand kids, the "common sense" part of my brain said, "Save it for gifts!" After all, I have stocked our coffee K-cup selections to mammoth proportions, but what can I say, that's for all the "Big kids". Wait - I'm seeing a theme here! Oh yeah, I'm excited that our whole family will be here for Christmas for the first time since we moved to Missouri seven years ago, and that our newest grand baby will spend his first Christmas with us!
Maybe I will go back and look at those decorations just one more time...

Friday, December 09, 2011

Bears & Angels?

Can you be a fan of bears without being an idiot?

My good buddy JV sent this picture to me the other day. While there are a lot of ways to apply the picture and the caption, it kinda reminds me of some Cardinal fans (?) who are are slamming Albert Pujols for leaving and going to LA. While I hate to see him leave, there is something rather crazy about thinking that because I'm willing to buy a $50 ticket to watch the Cardinals, he should be willing to give up about five million a year to entertain me. I also see it as a classic example of how most people view life. Rather than being thankful for over a decade of historical baseball, including two World Series Championships, all they can think about is what we're not going to have anymore. I will miss him and I truly wish he could have finished out his career in baseball with St. Louis, but I'm certainly not going to judge his heart or diminish his character by accusing him of greed and selfishness. Pro baseball isn't a "Be true to your school" proposition. It's a business, and I'm sure he did what he felt was best for himself and his family. I also have always respected his spiritual convictions, so I know he prayed a lot about this decision, and who am I to question what he felt he was guided to do?

Albert! Good luck, God bless, and thanks for the memories!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

What Does It Mean to be Spiritual?

One of the things I enjoy about doing this blog is the opportunity it gives me to add on to, or embellish, or finish up - things I talked about in my lesson the previous Sunday. Yes, it probably means fewer people are exposed to it, but I like blogging about what is fresh on my mind.
Just to give you the flow of thought, the lesson was about defining spiritual maturity. What does it mean to be spiritual? Spiritual living is maturing in Christ. I believe this is Paul's message in Galatians 5 & 6. Here are the bullet points: (they'll make sense if you read the passage in 6:1-10)

1. It is Restorative, vs.1
2. It Reaches out, vs.2-3
3. It is Responsible, vs.4-5
4. It is Reciprocal, vs.6
5. It is Responsive, vs.7-8
6. it is Resolute, vs.9-10

It'll preach!
The last point about being resolute, is a profound and powerful concept that I wish I'd had time to develop more. It is about who you are as a child of God. It's about keeping things in balance and having the right perspective. It's about the heart and soul of what a church family is all about. We read him saying, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."
When you consider that this is his wrap-up after his tough talk about love and grace over law and works, and his call to walk by the Spirit and not by our sinful nature, these are some of the most practical, love oriented, family building, and Christ centered guidelines Paul ever writes. I see three resolute declarations every child of God could/should make.
1. I will never get tired of doing good!
2. I will not give up!
3. I will be Christ-like to everyone, but especially to my spiritual family.

What I didn't have time to point out on Sunday was that these are not just doctrinal statements but way of life statements. When you come from a religious tradition that focuses on being doctrinally correct, sometimes that religions is more talk than walk. A church family that is not committed to helping each other grow in Christ is not really a family of God. It's a theological social club. Doctrine is not unimportant, but it's love that covers a multitude of sin, not having all the answers to all the questions most people never ask. Paul was talking to people who were struggling with legalism. If we focus on being right, we create a new legalism that forgets to do what's right.
Paul says we walk by the Spirit in response to God's grace, and that walk is only defined by the fruit of the Spirit, which is revealed in how we treat others.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Welcome Dandy Andy!

God is good - always! We thank Him this morning for bringing our eighth grand-baby in the world. Andrew Kyle Bills arrived late Wednesday night, and - Praise the Lord - both Momma and baby are doing great. We would both love to rush down to Dallas and see him, but it will have to wait for a little while. Nana is flying down on Tuesday, and she is anxious to hold little Andrew, but I'll have to wait about three weeks before I get to hold our best Christmas present.