Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Visit From Babbie

Sue Holbrook, Babbie Mason, Becky Oliver
The women at Vero Beach First United Methodist Church made a great new friend yesterday.  Babbie Mason came to see us! 
You know what she told us?  God loves each one of us just like he loves Jesus.  And what's more than that... I'm his favorite.  Are you his favorite, too?  I hope so! 
Thank you, Babbie, for a wonderful day.  Your love for Jesus was spread all over us.   

Check out Babbie Mason at

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Day of Ashes

Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Grieve, mourn and wail.  Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
                                                                                                          - James 4: 8-10 NIV

This is the day we wear the ashes.  Christians all over the world come to receive the ashes in a cross on their foreheads.  This is the day we tell the world we belong to the One who was sacrificed for our sins.

It is a humbling moment to stand before your pastor as the words are spoken and the ashes mixed with oil are drawn onto your head.  For the rest of the day, every time you see your image, the reminder of what you are is right there on your face.  You are dust... ash... and you will return to dust.  This day marks the beginning of Lent, when we are to spend time in introspection and personal sacrifice.   We humble ourselves before the Lord and he will lift us up. 

In the words of Jan Richardson:

          This is the day
          we freely say
          we are scorched.

         This is the hour
         we are marked
         by what has made it
         through the burning.        (

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Ball of Kindness

I am fascinated when I imagine the many people who must have come into Jesus' world and had no idea who he was.  They went about their ordinary lives having no idea that their path had crossed with the Savior of the World.  These people come alive in my imagination.  Meet one today.

By Sue Holbrook

 Amos pulled the heavy wooden box out of the corner.  Placing it
beside his chair, he fumbled to open it with his aged fingers.  Life
would not be much longer for him.  In fact, he had already lived
longer than the other men in his family.  He knew it was time to show
 his daughter, Lydia, the few things he valued that he had saved
 through the years.  Just so she would know why he had cherished
 these things.  He wanted her to pass on the stories to her children.

As he slowly picked up each item, he felt it, turned it in his hands and told her his stories.  She faced him and sat close, her knees touching his.  He was so dear and so kind.  He was the beloved patriarch and she knew her days with him were numbered.  His voice had grown weak with his age and she leaned forward to hear everything he said.  Some of the items and stories she knew from such conversations in the past.  Today, he was determined to get to the bottom of the box.

Finally, he drew out the last memento.  It was very old…a leather ball filled with bran…just the size that would fit a little boy’s hand.  The leather was smooth with age.

“This is the best thing of all,” he said softly.  “My older brother, Joel, was learning the trade of tanning and he made this ball for me.  I remember a happy day, right after he finished it and gave it to me.  My friends and I were playing in the street in front of the house.  We tossed the ball back and forth around our circle.  While we were playing, some men came down the road.  We had never seen them before.  They said they were passing through on their way to Jerusalem.  Papa gave them water to drink and while they were drinking and thanking him for his hospitality, they saw my nice new ball.  Soon they had joined in our circle and were playing catch with us.  We were all laughing.  But one man…he seemed to be their leader…he had the nicest smile and he laughed more than anybody.  I still remember his face.  When finally it was time for them to travel on, he was holding my ball.  He brought it to me and scooped me up in his arms.  He tickled me and made me laugh.  Then he hugged me and told me God loved me and to always honor my mother and father.  He did the same to my friends.  I don’t know who he was, but I have never forgotten his smile.  I don’t know why he was so special but he made me feel like he really loved me.  He was just so kind.”

“And so,” Amos said, “this ball has always reminded me of love and kindness.  First of all, my brother loved me enough to make it for me.  He’s been gone a long time now and I miss him very much.  But also because the kind man played ball with me and made me feel special.  Always keep this ball in a safe place, Lydia.  It means so much to me.”

“I will, Papa,” she answered.  Her eyes glistened with tears as she took the ball from his hands and put it back in its place at the bottom of the box.  She would show her children when they were old enough to appreciate the significance of something that had meant so much to their grandfather.  She replaced everything in the box and pushed it back to its home in the corner. 

Her father sat quietly, eyes closed and head resting on the high back of his chair, a slight smile on his lips.  She knew he was back there, so many years ago, a little boy playing ball with a kind stranger in the road in front of his house. 


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What Are We Reading?

Are you like me?  I read all the time but it's rarely these days that I read a novel - a whole book - just because I want to read a book.  I've resolved to do more of that in this new year.  I have three books that I started last year and for one reason or another I put them down in mid-stream because there was an urgency to soak up some needed information from someplace else. 

I've also resolved to cut the ties with the tv...and sometimes with the social media.  My tv habit these days is to turn on a program I want to see - usually a sports event - and mute the sound.  I don't need the yak of a talking head describing the action of a football or basketball game, a golf match or - my heart's love - a NASCAR race.  I see it.  I get it.  And if I should be reading and miss something big, I have the assurance you're going to re-play it for me.  Again.  And again.  And yet again. 

So it was with a real sense of accomplishment last week that I made it the goal of my weekend to finish reading The Red Tent.  It had been recommended to me by someone I respect who suggested it would give me a clearer picture of what life was like for women in those primitive days of Isaac and Jacob and all of Jacob's children. 
This novel is the imagined story of Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob and his wife, Leah.  While Dinah never speaks a word in Scripture, she is the subject of a horrific event.  Diamant creates a story of Dinah's whole life from start to finish.  All the Bible characters are there and more are added.  She gives them all a fleshed-out personality and a sometimes surprising place in the story.   These are, after all, real people living real lives. 
As I read the Bible, I often imagine and wonder what could have been going on around the events.  The Bible is so sparse with detail that my mind wants to fill in the back story.  I read Red Tent all the while thinking, "This woman thinks like I do.  I write short stories.  She has written a whole book!".
I am fascinated by what could have been going on in the daily lives of the ordinary people - especially the people who crossed paths with Jesus and had no idea who or what He was.  I've started writing short stories that take a look at some of these peripheral characters and events.  In the coming weeks, I will share some of them here.  In the meantime, if you haven't read The Red Tent, take a look into the life of Dinah. 
What have you read lately?  I'd love to have some suggestions.  My current read... another take on the story of Jacob and Esau:  Thorn In My Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs.  Hard to beat that Liz when it comes to a page-turner!