Monday, October 29, 2012


What’s going on in your head? 

We are constantly bombarded with words from media that influence our thinking. Radio is on in the car – what do you hear?  Songs, sports talk, news, advertising?    TV is on in the home- what do you see and hear?  Songs, sports talk, news, advertising, cooking advice, silly comedy, crime solving drama?  What do you filter out and what gets to take up residence in your brain?

The high school Sunday School lesson this week was about watching your words and I had saved up some newspapers for them to use to identify words or phrases that gave a positive or negative connotation.  When asked how many of them read the newspaper not surprising that the only ones to respond with yes were the 4 over forty adults who were in the room.  So the groups set out on the task and came up with these identifications:

Positive – sweet, legendary, fun, family, Dear Santa, beloved, hot and happenin’, giant, new, honor, free, Panda hits 3 homeruns, new places, filled with love, peace of mind knowing that she is being well cared for, how can I help?

Negative – my literature homework is impossible again, fear, marijuana, school, death, destiny, killed, Rick Perry, threaten, grim, rape, toe injury, cancelled, Horn Frogs lost, creepy, firebombs

Possibly either – Obama 2012, boobs

This lead into interesting discussion of the scripture for the lesson, James 3, which uses imagery to describe how our words affect our lives.  In horseback riding, the bit is a small piece of the bridle but it weighs in heavily to guiding the direction of the animal.  Strong winds can push a boat about but the small rudder aids the pilot in guiding the vessel on the desired route.  A small spark can start a raging, damaging fire.  Relating to the cell phones that they all commonly use, the conclusion was that small talk texted to one another can take all sorts of possible directions with positive or negative results.  Included in the discussion was dealing with criticism, impact of compliments, holding each other accountable, and building positive relationships.  Whenever it’s my turn to teach, I feel that I actually come away as the learner.  Funny how things tend to work out like that.

So today I looked at the words ever present in my surroundings.  Do you have magnets and mementoes on your fridge?  These are the words found on mine:

I am still learning, Michelangelo; Don’t mess with Texas; Precious and few are friends like you; It’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years, Abraham Lincoln; Boo!  Happy Halloween, Keller

Words found on my wall art and plaques:

Life is beautiful; life is good; celebration of the arts; remember who you wanted to be; got wine; our family is a circle of strength and love; our dog has a licker license; friends are the flowers in the garden of life; love, joy, laughter, peace; in dreams and love there are no impossibilities; come sit on my porch

I really don’t completely understand these words, but I enjoy their mystical quality in the description of God:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

So, may THE WORD keep me accountable in choosing the right words to use at the right time to spread peace and grace.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.






Sunday, October 7, 2012

Music is Playing Inside my Head

Music is Playing Inside my Head

"I think music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. It's something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music."
-Billy Joel

Part of our summer travel plans always include music –favorite road trip CDs, satellite radio tuned to classic vinyl and concerts.  The Rio Grande Railroad from La Veta CO takes you from a station in town by the city park, through the foothills, into the mountains and stops at a remote spot with beautiful views where a small stage area has been constructed for summer performances.  This year the show we chose was Michael Hearne and South by Southwest.  Mike is Darrell’s long time school friend from junior high and high school; they played sports together and played songs together.  While Mike went on to make music his profession, we’ve followed him through the years as he worked mostly out of Red River, Taos, Nashville and Austin.

“Something’s Gotta Give” is a song Michael describes as inspired from a conversation with his son; they were bemoaning the state of pop music currently played on the radio and wishing for the quality of the old classics.  A line from this song caught our attention as it was sung in the mountain top sunshine, “Crosby, Stills and Nash, where have you gone?” A few days down the line, our next music experience was Crosby, Stills and Nash performing at another beautiful concert venue, Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison CO.  This one we attended along with Dave & Tracey McKinney, a cool Colorado couple who enjoys music from our generation and also happen to be parents of our lovely daughter-in-law, Chelsea.

Magical night! This Texas woman was able to climb the many steps up to our seats in the mile high altitude without completely losing my stamina – I did require a few rest stops along the way.  Playing all my old favorites, their harmonies were still tight, the guitar work was still fine and the new songs introduced are still in my mind.  Best moment of the show was David Crosby- shining in the light of stars, moon and spotlight, city of Denver twinkling in the background distance, standing tall, white hair flowing behind him in the cool breeze, belting out, “Almost Cut My Hair”.

Still a spark of political defiance, but a man who seemed softened by the hardness of his years showed up to give a peak performance.  Many remember him for his infamous drug arrest in Dallas.  I recently read Carole King’s autobiography and she remembered driving her young daughters to school in the early 70’s in their LA neighborhood where they would regularly pass a bicycler wearing nothing but shorts, long hair and a purple cape – David Crosby.  My internet research on his life revealed giving up two children for adoption, serving prison time, needing a liver transplant due to his poor lifestyle choices of alcohol and drug abuse, receiving a liver transplant that was generously paid for by musician friends, losing his house to an earthquake, nearly losing his life in an automobile accident and oh yeah, he created and performed a lot of soulful music along the way.

Besides seeing this crazy life rocker as an old man, I also got to witness a peek at perhaps redemption?  During the show, all members of the band were introduced and a talented keyboard player who had also co-written several songs performed that night was named James Redmond.  Crosby explained that this was his son (one of the children who had been given up for adoption) and proclaimed that his own life was so much better now since they had been together.  “Radio” was their co-written song that was performed that night and the words I remember were about putting your hand in the water to pull someone out who is going under.  Crosby said the message was meant to inspire people to just help out another.  I wish that one could be found on I tunes or heard today on the radio…something’s gotta give…where are the good new songs being played today?

From a later conversation with Chelsea, I came to understand that this young man who had been raised in an adoptive family had been redeemed from a possibly horrible childhood of being raised by an unfit father, a drug addict.  The psychological needs we all share for a father figure to provide an image of guidance and wisdom came to him later when tough experiences had time to transform his biological father into a person who could possibly fulfill that role.

So we spent more time in the mountains, staying at our favorite B&B in Carbondale CO (Ambiance Inn), staying with Travis and Chelsea in their beautiful log cabin-house and staying in a historic rental house in Redstone CO that backed up to the Crystal River.  Taking in the sights of the rocks, rivers, trees and wildlife renews your soul just like listening to music and our spirits were filled every day.

Along the return trip to Texas, we stopped in Taos NM to attend the 10th annual Big Barn Dance Music Festival sponsored by our friend, Michael Hearne.  Although traditions for this weekend had been developing a following through the years, this was our first time to attend – previously the dates would not fit our lifestyle due to me following a school calendar but a new retirement allowed me to plan according to a schedule of choice J We arrived in town for the Friday evening performances and had signed up as volunteers for the next morning.  Darrell was assigned security and I was part of the ticket table.

Incredible experience of the senses and emotions!  The unique element of this music festival is the focus on songwriters – the performers sing their own songs (many are recognized as being made famous by other award winning artists such as Dixie Chicks, Toby Keith, and Jimmy Buffett…) and then the musicians join in on other’s sets and jam onstage creating amazing group renditions. A bitter cold front blew in with rough winds, some showers and also some rainbows!  Words cannot express the feelings of the music in those moments and it is small, intimate – you can dance if you want to, you can sing along, you can eat & drink, you can leave to check on your dog & come back in but you don’t want to miss a set! Favorites I remember are Susan Gibson singing her song Wide Open Spaces, Jimmy Stadler singing It’s Past My BeerTime, Keith Sykes singing I’m Sorry, Don C. (long Italian name) singing Other Side, Trout Fishing in America singing Pico de Gallo and Don’t Touch My Stuff, Mike singing with his aunt & uncle Bill & Bonnie Hearne, and then of course the whole group onstage with audience sing along to Mentor Williams’ famous tune, Drift Away:

Day after day I'm more confused
When I look for the light in the pouring rain
I know that's a game that I hate to lose
And I'm feeling the strength
Ain't it a shame
Give me the Beat Boys to free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock 'n roll and drift away
Oh. Give me the Beat Boys to free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock 'n roll and drift away
Beginning to think that I'm wasting time
I don't understand the things I do
The world outside looks so un-kind
I'm countin' on you
To carry me through...OH...
Give me the Beat Boys to free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock 'n roll and drift away
Yeah! Give me the Beat Boys to free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock 'n roll and drift away
When my mind is free
You know a melody can move me
When I'm feeling blue
The guitar is coming through to soothe me...
Thanks for the joy that your giving me
I want you to know I believe in your song
Rhythm and Rhyme and Harmony
You've helped me along
Making me strong....OH!...
Give me the Beat Boys to free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock 'n roll and drift away
Give me the Beat Boys to free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock 'n roll and drift away
OH....Give me the Beat Boys to free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock 'n roll and drift away
OH...Give me the Beat Boys to free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock 'n roll and drift away
Now, now, now, wont ya
Wont ya take me, oh...take me

So my message is music: triggers memories of special moments in time, provides inspiration to something better, gives us common ground with many others, makes you just feel good.

My second message is redemption:  we all have a chance for it; I hope David Crosby really has it!

Psalm 5:11 Let them sing for joy!

Psalm 130:7 And with Him is abundant redemption.





Friday, July 20, 2012

Ode to Keller

Ode to Keller

This is not really an ode, which is structured lyrical poetry.  This really is dedicated to Keller – some of my rambling memories.

For years I have kept scraps of paper with people’s names on it, adding to the lists, scrunching and turning handwriting into the margins until there was truly no more room for my scribbles.  These are my prayer lists.  The Nepalese hang beautiful, multi-color cloths as prayer flags – mine are not as visually vibrant but still heard.  I have neatened up a little in recent times with my growing list of names kept organized in Notes on my I-pad. If you’re reading this, your name is probably on my list! So ever since my boys have been married men, I have prayed for God to bless their own families with babies and, importantly, asked repeatedly for God’s wisdom in the timing.  Wow, was that prayer answered so perfectly!

Last summer, after sinking away from us into the disease of Alzheimer’s, Darrell’s mother Laverne passed away. Jonathan and Erica came to town to attend the funeral and before leaving us, they gave us some surprising good news – they were going to have a baby, our first grandchild!  Wasn’t God’s timing just perfect on that one?  The circle of life was moving in our family.  Tears of sorrow mixed with tears of joy!

Having not yet consulted a doctor, they would not give us permission to spread the news just yet.  So after waiting the allotted time (I admit that I cheated and helped a few people guess what was on my mind all the time), we hosted a fun, belated birthday party for Darrell at Blue Mesa Grill in Southlake where the real theme of the party was announcing grandparenthood!

Thanksgiving marked a time for more family gatherings. So with an eager group gathered together, Erica treated us to cake ball sweets to answer our next anticipatory question.  Blue cake = it’s a boy!

So the months and days passed as I was working through what I had decided was my last year of teaching.  The ladies congregated for a lovely shower at the Colleyville home of Dana White and we passed on the age-old tradition of gifts, games and light hearted gossip.  The due date approached and we planned our grandparent visit to Austin.  My friend and recently retired co-worker, Sara Snell, was booked to be the sub in the middle school math classes for as long as needed and I worked many late hours preparing the lessons for my extended absence.  The due date passed and we wondered when the event would actually happen!  Finally, the word coming from a scheduled doctor visit was that Erica would be at the hospital to have labor induced on April 17th if birth had not yet happened.  We had a date that would be easy to remember since Jonathan’s birthday is the 17th of July and Erica’s is the 17th of August.

Probability lessons in 8th grade math…Jonathan and Erica kept the name a secret but gave us a tidbit, the initials of KB…so I made up a little contest and a fairly complex math problem for my students.  What is the probability of guessing the correct name of the baby boy, given that his initials are KB?  2 guessed Keller, 5 guessed Ben, and one correctly guessed Keller Ben! Keller means Champion and Keeper of the Cellar (as in wine cellar) and is the local suburb where Jonathan and Erica lived in their first house.  Ben is named after my dad, Benny Kohn.

A tradition at Colleyville Middle School was drawing names of a faculty member at the beginning of the school year – you bring birthday cake for the person for their school celebration.  This year, I picked Valerie Kraeg whose birthday was on Monday April 16th.  She liked angel food caked with pink icing like her mom used to bake for her when she was a little girl – so that was my plan.  Well, my plan blossomed into more than just cake, inspired by our late friend Mike Hyde whose words rang in my mind, “Let’s make a big deal about everything!”  The inbox of my email contained an ad from M&Ms candy offering me a nice discount for being a previous customer so I was further inspired by words from a recently popular book and movie, The Help, “You are smart. You are kind.  You are important.”  I order some pink and white candies for Val that read, “Val is cool.  Val is smart.  Val is pretty.” The CMS garden club girls helped me make pink and white tissue paper flowers and I decorated the teacher’s lounge on Friday before leaving school for the weekend.  On Sunday, I baked Neapolitan cupcakes found on Pinterest and baked an angel food cake, also buying another from Tom thumb’s bakery to serve with strawberries and whipped cream.  The baked cake fell because I was in a hurry and tried to put the pink frosting on it before it was completely cooled.  Oh well, maybe quantity and creative table d├ęcor would trump the fallen angel food.  I went to bed content with my efforts.

4 a.m. Monday morning April 16th (Val’s birthday) we get a phone call from Jonathan – they are at the hospital and it is the real thing!  We jumped out of bed and started getting ready to leave town.  But I had birthday celebration goodies to deliver to CMS – thanks to Stephanie Dulaney for letting me interrupt her regular routine of getting ready for school.  She’s the teacher – mate who lives the nearest to me and she agreed to transport all my stuff and set it out for Val.  On a beautiful spring morning we hit the road south, maneuvering through all the highway construction of DFW and then sailing on down the familiar sights of I-35 between here and Austin.  When we stopped for a break near Georgetown, I walked Tex through a pretty patch of grass and blanket flowers while Darrell got a phone update – dilating and pushing starts soon! We pulled over next at Round Rock because that phone call said, “He’s here!  Keller Ben Green, 9 lbs., 5 oz. and 21 inches long.  We couldn’t wait to see him!

Arriving at the hospital, we were directed to the labor/delivery room.  Erica was there with a nurse, looking quite beautiful, and she sent us on to the nursery where Jonathan was found with his son.  Total joy and admiration!

Later we took turns holding Keller, sharing him with Jonathan, Erica, Erica’s dad Gene and her Aunt Georgia, in their assigned hospital room that had a view of the UT Tower.  Fireworks were not going off that afternoon, but celebration fireworks were going off in my heart!

Family time in Austin filled our next two weeks as we happily helped with the newborn, errands, meals and household chores. La Quinta also got some extra business as the welcome extended to include meeting aunts and Uncle Travis, Chelsea, Gail, Mary and great grandparents Benny and Sue Kohn.  Keller, you brought a brighter light of love into our lives!  We look forward to watching you grow and teaching you all the things we consider important.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Psalm 103:13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. 

Matthew 19:14 Do not hinder the little children from coming to me, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

You May Say I'm a Dreamer


Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

What’s on your bucket list?  What do you imagine as your best possible life?  What brings you true happiness?  What are the desires of your heart?

For me, happiness = holding a baby, preferably my own grandson, Keller Ben Green.

 My best possible life = what I have now:  longtime marriage to a good man, children who have grown to be successful, productive, caring adults, comfortable house in a convenient location, connections to a strong circle of family and friends, citizenship in a town of history, vision and character, membership in a church that is committed to worship and service, retirement from a stimulating career, access to enjoyment from music, art, good food, nature and sports…aahhh, life is good.  Darrell bought the Life is Good T shirts to match each day of the week when he retired from IBM and now my own collection is up to a count of three!
My bucket list = travel to England, Scotland & Ireland; travel to Hawaii; church mission trip to Kenya; explore in Big Bend National Park;

attend concerts by Carole King, James Taylor, Bette Midler; watch golf at a U.S. Open;

captain my own boat on Lake Grapevine;

and hold more grandchildren.

A few weeks ago at Project Read I said goodbyes to a mom and her three little girls of whom I had grown fond through the years of this weekly summer activity.  They were moving back to Mexico to the town of the mother’s birth - the three girls had all been born in Texas and they were bubbling with anticipation of meeting their grandmother for the first time.  I can’t imagine having precious grandchildren, ages 3 to 9, whom I had never met!  Rather than getting caught up in the “issue” of immigration or any other current social controversy, I choose to follow the suggestion of one of my pastors, think of individuals (rather than issues) you know personally – build positive relationships with them, encourage them with prayers and presence. I pray that this family will flourish in the uncertain safety of their country.

So as I continue to try to live my life with delight in the Lord, I acknowledge him for his continuous blessings, I praise him for this beautiful world he created for us, I worship him as the supreme power, I accept his love and grace, I sing to him (a joyful noise), I read his message to us in the Bible and seek to understand, I pray for my family, friends, their requests and myself, I keep myself open for awareness of his miracles and angels among us.

2 Corinthians 6:8  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.

Psalm 103:17 But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And his righteousness to children’s children.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mamaw's Magazines

Mamaw’s Magazines

I love to read.  I love to think about and talk about what I read.  I tend to insist that Darrell read books that engross me so that he too will share my consuming experience – sometimes, ha, not so much?  So these I have recently convinced him download to his phone and then discuss with me:  The Passage by Justin Cronin, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (actually the entire series), 11/22/63 by Stephen King and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Next, will he go for The Hunger Games?

My earliest reading experiences were probably interacting more with pictures that with words.  I spent a lot of happy hours puttering around and playing at my grandmother’s house.  In the corner of her living room was a small bookcase filled with volumes of mystery.  Some were textbooks that my uncle had used at Texas Tech – I remember the capital T logo.  Titles I don’t remember but I liked the look, the feel, the smell, the aura of importance. In the “little room” that was multi purposed as an office/laundry room was another bookshelf that held stacks of magazines:  Better Homes and Gardens, Readers Digest, McCall's, U.S. News and World Report and The Upper Room.  My favorite was the Better Homes & Gardens with colorful pictures on every page – pretty houses, pretty women, good food, beautiful flowers, and happy families – all strong images for day dreams of a little girl.  The Upper Room had a few cover art pieces of scenes familiar from my Sunday School stories – Noah’s ark, peace dove, rainbow, David the shepherd, Baby Jesus.

Educational research claims the strong correlation between books in the home and a child’s later educational achievement level: 

ScienceDaily (May 20, 2010) — Whether rich or poor, residents of the United States or China, illiterate or college graduates, parents who have books in the home increase the level of education their children will attain, according to a 20-year study led by Mariah Evans, University of Nevada, Reno associate professor of sociology and resource economics. Evans said, "Even a little bit goes a long way," in terms of the number of books in a home. Having as few as 20 books in the home still has a significant impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education, and the more books you add, the greater the benefit.

Growing up in the preschool years of the 1950’s all this research was not yet available to let families know the significance of books in the household, still I was the benefactor of living in a house of love where the adults also liked to spend some time reading.

Ms. Evan’s research is the core belief behind one of our church outreach programs, Project Read. Children’s books are donated and distributed to families in areas serviced by free lunches for children in the summer.  Hopefully, the books they take home will push them to attain more years of education.

Last year in the days following our pastor Ken Diehm’s death, the staff encouraged us to continue a habit that Ken had started among the congregation called 10 and 10.  Ken had written a daily blog of reflective thoughts on a Bible scripture selection.  He encouraged us to spend 10 minutes reading the Bible and 10 minutes in prayer each day.  In the absence of his daily writing, they told us to use a published daily devotional, The Upper Room.  That publication was the same one my grandmother had followed in her daily reading years ago.  It helped fill a void in Ken’s absence and I still follow it along with our new pastor’s 10&10 blog every day.  The story today would be special for my mother because it talks about the sacred moments found in quilting.

 God created us as curious creatures with a daunting desire to know more, to see more, to experience more, to understand more.  Stories help us do that – they expand our world beyond our immediate sights.  Jesus taught us with his stories, the parables, to attend to our desires to know and understand his spiritual kingdom.  So what are we trying so hard to find out?

A famous mathematician/philosopher who lived hundreds of years ago, Blaise Pascal, described the dilemma of human existence as a God-shaped vacuum in the center of the human heart.  Pascal’s written words tell us that “this infinite abyss can be filled with an infinite and immutable object – in other words, by God himself.”  So is our driving quest for knowledge, really a brick in the road of our journey to know God?

Mamaw’s traditions of reading Better Homes and Gardens magazines and The Upper Room devotionals have passed on to me.  I still enjoy the inspiring artwork and encouraging stories.  The publications are now marked as aps on my I pad.

Matthew 22:1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again in parables.

Luke 24:44-45  Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”  Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.

Proverbs 4:5  Acquire wisdom!  Acquire understanding!  Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The 2 J's of Baseball

2 J’s of Baseball

Matthew 16:26 for what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?

Matthew 5:3-6 Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.

A few weeks ago my childhood friends were posting memories on Facebook that caught my attention. Yeah, I remember him, too. What an impact a humble man had on lives of so many of us! Dear God, I hope you let the people in heaven know the positive influence they had on the lives of others. Do we get to eventually learn that when we meet our maker? I hope so. Jimmy Porter is one of the J’s of baseball and one of God’s children whose simple acts of kindness affected so many children of Carrollton TX.

These are words from the newspaper story of 1984 recounting his life:

Porter, a Carrollton institution for more than 50 years and a onetime player in the Negro American League died Tuesday. He was 84. Born and raised on a Farm in East Texas, he began playing baseball at the age of 6. Porter's family later moved to the Dallas area, and in the 1920s he went to St. Louis to pursue a career with the Negro American League. Friends remember Porter talking about playing ball with the greats - but homesickness for Texas brought him back after two years. Porter then started the Carrollton Cats, a black semipro team in the late 1920s. He also began teaching area youths about baseball, an avocation he pursued for at least half a century until failing health slowed him down. Porter was a driving force in establishing Little League baseball in Carrollton.

I remember views of him walking down Perry Rd. with a couple of baseball bats hanging from his shoulder and draped on the handles were a few worn baseball gloves. The neighborhood kids got excited when we saw him because a “sandlot” baseball game was about to happen. We followed him like Pied Piper and listened when he taught us all the game of baseball. You didn’t have to be a boy and you didn’t have to have talent – you just had to join in and have fun!

Classrooms at school all had windows that opened – we didn’t have air conditioning at Carrollton Elementary or at Dewitt Perry Jr. High in those days (the 1960s). Nearing the end of the school day in March-May students would listlessly gaze out the windows while hoping to have a turn to be seated near the box fan. When we spotted Jimmy walking along the edge of the playground, never without his game equipment, our spirits lifted. A game was on. Soon. Oh joy!

Rick McDonald posted a picture and wrote a sweet memory that initiated a slew of Facebook posts. Here’s part of his story that I used in my Sunday school lesson today:

One of my fondest memories of Jimmy was when I was about 12 years old. I was hiking thru the wooded area behind Hilltop Cemetery with, I believe, Russ Pugh and Bubba Beckner. This was before that area was developed with apartments and houses and it was a wonderful large nature playground for us to run around in. On this occasion we came upon an old red railroad caboose that had been transformed into a home. It had chicken wire running around it with several chickens inside. This was Jimmy Porter's place. He came out and greeted us. I guess he recognized us from the ballpark. It was a hot summer day and he invited us inside and gave us cold water and shade. I was amazed that he lived in an old caboose and I thought it was pretty cool. I was touched that what little he had he offered to us. We stayed and talked with him for a little while and then we left thanking him for the water. I've never forgotten that day. He was a very special man and a gentle soul who loved people.

Matthew 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink. I was a stranger and you invited Me in. then vs. 40, and the King will answer and say to them “Truly, I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me.

The Claterbaughs were a family who lived in my neighborhood and the dad, David Claterbaugh, had grown up in Carrollton. He was interviewed for the obituary when Jimmy Porter passed away. My mother remembered that the Claterbaughs at one time had fixed up their backyard shed for Jimmy to call home. This is Mr. Claterbaugh’s quote from the newspaper story of Jimmy’s death:

"When I was a little ol' kid growing up in town, he was just always here," said David Claterbaugh, 47. "All the kids went out to his house and played ball with him. He took us hunting. He always had Pepsi Cola and cookies for us."

Several years ago, Claterbaugh said, Porter had to have surgery for cancer.

"It never seemed to slow him down," Claterbaugh said. "I would always see him going down the street with a bat over his shoulder and a baseball glove strung on his bat."

My high school friend, Bridget, whose dad was the R.L. Turner baseball coach, remembers Jimmy riding with her family to various playoff games…many of us home town Carrollton kids owe thanks to Mr. Porter for happy hours of play. He doted on us out of his meager stash of refreshments and out of his vast knowledge and love of the game – America’s pastime – baseball.

So now to J #2 of current baseball fame and personal notoriety…my favorite Texas Ranger’s player for the last several years has been Josh Hamilton. He has such blessed skill, confidence, charisma, muscular presence, professed faith in God – but (like all of us) has his weaknesses. Unlike most of us, his demons are alcohol and drug addictions and his mess ups are national sports news. I admire Josh for fighting his way through rehab and minor leagues to become the elite player that we have watched throughout the seasons to be honored in the All-Star games and the Play-off series. I admire his club for celebrating wins with ginger ale instead of champagne to accommodate his needs. These stories brought me to choose Josh as my hero character for Red Ribbon week at school. Near the end of October, TX schools participate in anti-drug education activities and one of the planned events at Colleyville Middle School was a dress up day with the theme, Be a Hero, Not a Zero. I dressed up in my #32 Ranger jersey, carried a bat and a jug of ginger ale and sported painted arm tattoos by my sister-in-law, Alyce, who is a pro body artist. Besides the regular math lesson for that day, the 8th graders also got a short story on the life of Josh Hamilton.

I admire Josh for sharing his personal faith in the YouTube video for I Am Second where he declares God to be first. In that 2009 video, he claims the scripture verse James 4:7 as his personal message,” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” I will go on to add to the message with James 4:10, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord; and He will exalt you.” I admire Josh for publicly admitting his mistakes and working to reestablish his relationship with God.

I worry about Josh who lives in the constant spotlight of media and so-called fans who hover and wait for sensational stories of downfall. His career is not finished, his life has not ended and there is still time for him to reconnect to his core values and live by them.

A park in Carrollton TX is named in memory of the legendary Jimmy Porter. His greater legacy is the time spent with countless Carrollton youth, teaching us his passion, baseball, and sharing his snacks along with simple wisdom. Josh Hamilton, I hope you too achieve such greatness. As for the rest of us, what is our legacy? In the end, we are all just God’s children – regardless of working as a plumber or accountant, teacher or radio announcer, pro-sports player or academy award winner, handyman or homeless – how did we spread God’s love?