Back in the dawn of time, when television images were still black and white, a strange comedy team tickled people’s funny bone. The called themselves the “Three Stooges.” But that was an exaggeration. They weren’t even that smart.
If you looked up “stupid” in the dictionary, Moe, Larry and Curly Joe might have their picture next to the definition. Moe had a Beatle’s haircut long before the Beatles; Larry opted for the Einstein “explosion in a mattress factory” coiffure and Curly Joe had no curls at all. He sported a crew cut.
One skit that sticks in my memory was about, “Niagara Falls.” In the story, Moe’s wife had left him for Larry. Moe followed him wanting revenge and caught up with him in Niagra Falls whereupon he beat him up. Supposedly years later he was telling the story to Curly Joe, the dumbest of the three (and the dumbest of those three is way down the food chain).
Curly Joe made the mistake of saying, “Niagra Falls” and Moe went into a kind of violent trance. He said, “Niiii-agra Falls. Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch. Then I caught him!” Everytime he heard “Niagra Falls,” he beat someone up.
Poor Curly kept forgetting and he said it several times. Each time he paid the price. Funny, huh?
Where Is Your Niagara Falls?
I think we’ve all had our “Niagara Falls” experiences. Some pastors hear the name of certain towns where they had been pastors and they want to say, “Niagra Falls!” and beat on someone. Some of you have had bosses like that.
All of us have had experiences like that. We hear the name of a place or a person and it feels like a gut-punch. Memories and emotions still lurk right under the surface, and it doesn’t take much to make them swim to the surface like a five-pound bass leaping out of the water after a dragonfly. Continue reading
One of my favorite places to go with my wife was Cochem in Germany. Over a millennium ago, men founded this town. Though today’s atmosphere was probably created more by the Chamber of Commerce than by history, when you’re there you feel like you step back hundreds of years in time.
Phyllis and I accidentally discovered it in 1988 as we wandered alongside the Moselle River, driving up from nearby Luxembourg. Friends had offered to watch the kids so we could get away. We spent the night in a bed and breakfast in Cochem, and the next day went to see the Eltz castle in the forest northeast of town.
The little boy and the historian in me fell in love and Phyllis and I went back several other times, creating vivid memories together—the night of the festival with all the oom-pa-pa music, and the people in old German costumes, for example.
Funny, but we often connect places with good times or bad times. That is a good place for me. A really good place.
I’m a bit like that about the place where I read my Bible and pray in the morning. Just like some Christians are attached to a certain pew, I like to meet the Lord at a spot where I have memories.
At the moment it’s the back deck of our house (it’s really the back porch but I said “deck” so that you younger readers would know what I’m talking about). Before I get my work day gets started, I love to sit out there. The quietness soothes me. Note, “quietness,” still includes birds singing and crickets cricketing. We’ve got a couple of Robins who think they own the place and we are their renters.
The day has intruded on the night; the sunshine is fresh and soft and I can get centered with God for what’s ahead. Continue reading
Wailing In the Airport
I’ve heard people say, “I hate to fly!” I don’t hate to fly. I mean, how often do you get the chance to spend nine hours squeezed into a tiny space with your knees under you chin and the person in front of you lying back in your lap? (If he can get to it)
How often do you get to eat strange food like they serve you on airplanes? It’s mysterious and mystery is exciting, isn’t it? Flying is great. It’s airports that get on my nerves.
The other day we were coming back from preaching in France. Proud of ourselves, we were, because we had gotten to the airport in plenty of time. Except … except there was a problem with some sort of baggage machine and the waiting line to check in resembled the lines of victims waiting to go up the Eiffel Tower.
Then we all had to move away quickly because some naïve soul had left his bag unattended and the police herded everyone to safety in case the man’s underway exploded.
So, as I finally stood in line again, a kid who looked to be about two was whining in a voice that would have irritated a saint. Ai, yi, yi! When I’m hot, tired and irritated, a whiny kid sends me up the wall. If I had howled like that around my mother, I wouldn’t be here to tell you the story.
You know what, though? I came to the conclusion that he was verbalizing what a lot of us felt as we experienced airport stress. It’s just that it’s not socially acceptable to throw tantrums, whine, etc in public when you’re over 20.
I was tempted to whine myself.
Feel Like Whining? Continue reading
There is a funny video on You Tube. A manipulative toddler falls to the ground crying, trying to get his mother’s sympathy. She walks out of the room.
He sees that she is no longer watching his masterpiece of drama, so he finds her and falls to the ground again, wailing his pain.
She leaves, the toddler follows and the show repeats itself. (See it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQtpRjBLXic ) Those tears make us laugh. Most often manipulative waterworks aren’t funny, though.
All Kinds of Tears
All tears aren’t bad. We cry for a lot of reasons.
We might blubber because we feel sorry for ourselves. “Poor me. What an unjust lot I have in life.”
“Get the camera mama. This ought to be on You Tube!”
Sometimes we weep because we really do hurt and tears are our heart’s overflow.
Often we weep when we lose someone dear to us. That’s normal and even healthy. Continue reading
Trying to get a sleeping teenager out of bed in the morning is similar to trying to wake a sleeping cave bear in the middle of his winter hibernation. One person knows how to do it though—
If you’re a teenager there is a system. When mama’s first yell shakes the peaceful morning–“Get up kids! Time for school,”–you can stay put. A simple “uhh!” to let her know you live should suffice, and you’ve got a few more minutes. Those are the best minutes of all the night.
The second call is a bit dicey. “I told you kids to get up!” Now you can usually snuggle down into the warmth a little longer, but you need to be careful. If she happens to be in an extra bad mood that day all bets are off. As long as you sleep with one eye slitted slightly to see her if she’s coming, you’re okay.
The third call, though … on that one you can stay in bed if you’ve got a death wish. Good luck with that you’ll need it. Continue reading