Church Ladies with Typewriters

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Those wonderful Church Bulletins! Thank God for the church ladies (and men) with typewriters. These sentences appeared in church bulletins or announcements.

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The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.

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Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

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The sermon this morning:  ‘Jesus Walks on the Water.’ The sermon tonight: ‘Searching for Jesus.’

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Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.

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Don’t let worry kill you off – let the Church help.

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Miss Charlene Mason sang ‘I will not pass this way again,’ giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

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For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

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Next Thursday there will be try-outs for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

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Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

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A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.

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At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be ‘What Is Hell?’ Come early and listen to our choir practice.

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Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

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Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

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The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.

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Pot-luck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM – prayer and medication to follow.

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The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

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This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

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The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.

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Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.

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The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

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Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

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The Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new campaign slogan last Sunday: ‘I Upped My Pledge – Up Yours.’

“Keep Yourself at 17 Inches”

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Photo Credit: Gerald Klein (Nations Park Home Plate) via Wikimedia Commons

I recently came across a fantastic story written by Coach Sperry, that a couple of friends of mine sent to me via Face Book. I thought that it was something that should certainly be shared with everyone and worth the read…especially parents and coaches.

In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who the heck is John Scolinos, I wondered. Well, in 1996 Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. No matter, I was just happy to be there.

He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate. Pointed side down.

Seriously, I wondered, who in the hell is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally …

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility.

“No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?”came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls.

“And what do they do with a a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over these seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Bobby. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of throwing the ball over it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”

Pause.

“Coaches …”

Pause.

” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? What do we do if he violates curfew? What if he uses drugs? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold.

Then he turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”

Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful….to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside.

“… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they are — your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.

Why Go to Church Anyway?

Photo Credit: Tim Wilson via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Tim Wilson via CC Flickr

If you’re spiritually alive, you’re going to love this!

If you’re spiritually dead, you won’t want to read it.

If you’re spiritually curious, there is still hope!
A Church goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday.  I’ve gone for 30 years now,’ he wrote, ‘and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons, but for the life of me, I can’t remember a single one of them so, I think I’m wasting my time and the priests are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all.’
This started a real controversy in the ‘Letters to the Editor’ column. Much to the delight of the editor, it went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:
I’ve been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this… They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!’

Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible!

The Talk of the Town

Photo Credit: Judy Baxter via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Judy Baxter via CC Flickr

Every once in a while, I come across a story that reminds mes how important it is to keep the things that happen in our lives in proper perspective. Such is the case of today’s tale…

Funerals are a somber moment, aren’t they? It’s hard to imagine a situation where you would find them light and funny.

But then, maybe it’s something like that that you need to keep your perspective on the more important things in life. Read on and see what I mean.

Consumed by my loss, I didn’t notice the hardness of the pew where I sat. I was at the funeral of my dearest friend, my mother. She finally had lost her long battle with cancer.

The hurt was so intense; I found it hard to breathe at times. Always supportive, mother clapped loudest at my school plays, held a box of tissue while listening to my first heartbreak, comforted me at my father’s death, encouraged me in college, and prayed for me my entire life. When mother’s illness was diagnosed, my sister had a new baby and my brother had recently married his childhood sweetheart, so it fell on me, the 27 year old middle child with no entanglements to take care of her.

I felt it an honor. “What now?” I asked sitting in church. My life stretched out before me as an empty abyss. My brother sat stoically with his face toward the cross while clutching his wife’s hand. My sister sat slumped against her husband’s shoulder, his arms around her as she cradled their child.

All so deeply grieving, no one noticed I sat alone. My place had been with our mother, preparing her meals, helping her walk, taking her to the doctor, seeing to her medication.

Now she was gone. My work was finished, and I was alone. I heard a door open and slam shut at the back of the church. Quick steps hurried along the carpeted floor. An exasperated young man looked around briefly and then sat next to me. He folded his hands and placed them on his lap. His eyes were brimming with tears. He began to sniffle, “I’m late,” he explained, though no explanation was necessary.

After several eulogies, he leaned over and commented, “Why do they keep calling Mary by the name of Margaret?”

“Because that was her name, Margaret. Never Mary. No one called her Mary”, I whispered. I wondered why this person couldn’t have sat on the other side of the church. He interrupted my grieving with his tears and fidgeting. Who was this stranger anyway?

“No, that isn’t correct,” he insisted, as several people glanced over at us whispering, “Her name is Mary, Mary Peters. That isn’t who this is? Isn’t this the Lutheran church?”

“No, the Lutheran church is across the street, I believe you’re at the wrong funeral, sir.” The solemnness of the occasion mixed with realization of the man’s mistake bubbled up inside me and came out as laughter. I cupped my hands over my face hoping it would be interpreted as sobs. The creaking pew gave me away. Sharp looks from other mourners only made the situation seem more hilarious.

I peeked at the bewildered, misguided man seated beside me. He was laughing too, as he glanced around deciding it was too late for an uneventful exit. I imagined my mother laughing. At the final Amen, we darted out a door and into the parking lot. “I do believe we’ll be the talk of the town,” he smiled.

He said his name was Rick and since he had missed his aunt’s funeral, he asked me out for a cup of coffee. That afternoon began a lifelong journey for me with this man who attended the wrong funeral, but was in the right place.

A year after our meeting, we were married at a country church where he was the assistant pastor. This time we both arrived at the same church, right on time. In my time of sorrow, he gave me laughter. In place of loneliness, I now had love. This past June we celebrated our twenty second anniversary. Whenever anyone asks us how we met, Rick tells them “Her mother and my Aunt Mary introduced us, and it’s truly a match made in Heaven.”

A Poor Rich Family

Photo Credit: jamonation via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: jamonation via CC Flickr

Money. Wealth. Big Houses. Big cars. These are just a few things that most people would like to have and are things that most people believe will make them happy. How often do you find yourself thinking…”Wow! Look at that beautiful house” or “I wish I had a cool car like that” or “If I only had a lot of money”, etc.

We should all take the time to think about how fortunate and blessed we really are. In today’s day and age, there is a lot more money and wealth that is available than it was years ago. While there is a great diversity in wealth, riches, and possessions…especially here in the USA, many of us take for granted how well our life really is.

Yesterday, I came across the following story written by Eddie Ogan on websites-host.com. He tells of his life growing up in the 1940’s and proved to me once again, that often times, people that have less material things, are usually the richest!
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I’ll never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy was 12, and my older sister Darlene 16. We lived at home with our mother, and the four of us knew what it was to do without many things. My dad had died five years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to raise and no money.

By 1946 my older sisters were married and my brothers had left home. A month before Easter the pastor of our church announced that a special Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially. When we got home, we talked about what we could do. We decide to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20 of our grocery money for the offering. When we thought that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn’t listen to the radio we’d save money on that month’s electric bill. Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us babysat for everyone we could. For 15 cents we could buy enough cotton loops to make three potholders to sell for $1. We made $20 on potholders.

That month was one of the best of our lives. Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At night we’d sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in church, so we figured that whatever amount of money we had to give, the offering would surely be 20 times that much. After all, every Sunday the pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering.

The day before Easter Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change. We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never had so much money before. That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep. We didn’t care that we wouldn’t have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering. We could hardly wait to get to church!

On Sunday morning, rain was pouring. We didn’t own an umbrella, and the church was a mile from our home, but it did not matter how wet we got. Darlene had cardboard in her shoes to fill the holes. The cardboard came apart and her feet got wet. But we sat in church proudly. I heard some teenagers talking about the Smith girls having on their old dresses. I looked at them in their new clothes and I felt rich.

When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were sitting on the second row from the front. Mom put in the $10 bill, and each of us kids put in $20. As we walked home after church we sang all the way. At lunch Mom had a surprise for us. She had bought a dozen eggs and we had boiled Ester eggs with our fried potatoes! Late that afternoon the minister drove up in his car. Mom went to door, talked with him for a moment, and then came back with an envelope in her hand. We asked what it was, but she didn’t say a word. She opened the envelope. We asked what it was, but she didn’t say a word. She opened the envelope, and out fell a bunch of money. There were three crisp $20 bills, one $10 and seventeen $1 bills. Mom put the money back in the envelope. We didn’t talk, just sat and stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling like millionaires to feeling like poor white trash. We kids had such a happy life that we felt sorry for anyone who didn’t have our Mom and Dad for parents and a house full of brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly. We thought it was fun to share silverware and see whether we got the spoon or the fork that night. We had two knifes that we passed around to whoever needed them. I knew we didn’t have a lot of things that other people had, but I’d never thought we were poor. I didn’t like being poor. I looked at my dress and worn-out shoes and felt so ashamed – – I didn’t even want to go back to church. Everyone there probably already knew we were poor! I thought about school. I was in the ninth grade and at the top of my class of over 100 students. I wondered if the kids at school knew that we were poor. I decided that I could quit school since I had finished the eighth grade. That was all the law required at that time. We sat in silence for a long time. Then it got dark, and we went to bed. All that week we girls went to school and came home, and no one talked much.

Finally on Saturday, Mom asked us what we wanted to do with the money. What did poor people do with money? We didn’t know. We’d never known we were poor. We didn’t want to go to church on Sunday, but Mom said we had to. Although it was a sunny day, we didn’t talk on the way. Mom started to sing, but no one joined in and she only sang one verse. At church we had a missionary speaker. He talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun dried bricks, but they needed money to buy roofs. He said $100 would put a roof on a church. The minister said, “Can’t we all sacrifice to help these poor people?” We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week. Mom reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to Darlene. Darlene gave it to me, and I handed it to Ocy. Ocy put it in the offering. When the offering was counted, the minister announced that it was a little over $100. The missionary was excited. He hadn’t expected such a large offering from our small church. He said, “You must have some rich people in this church.” Suddenly it struck us! We had given $87 of that “little over $100.” We were the rich family in the church! Hadn’t the missionary said so? From that day on I’ve never been poor again.

A beautiful story with a fabulous message!