David's Thoughts

HOMEGOING

I attended a funeral this week. It was my mothers’. In February, my mom turned 101. At her death she was 101 and a quarter. In the latter years of her life, she was always worried that her friends who are in Heaven are probably thinking that she didn’t make it. Well, last week she did! And I’m pretty sure they all knew it when she arrived. I’m sure that she went straight to the main office to see if they needed a cake.

My mother always bordered on the line of strange and wonderful, sometimes going a bit far into each side. When I was a kid she would sometimes try to keep me from doing the things that I was wanting to do by showing the frightening side of those things.

“Hey mom. I’m going swimming with some friends at the lake.”

“A heard about a little boy who went swimming with his friends at a lake last week and he drowned.”

“Hey mom. I’m going bike riding with the guys.”

“I heard about a little boy who who went bike riding with guys last week and he was crushed by a truck.”

“Hey mom. I’m going with the gang to Dairy Queen for a Coke.”

“ I heard about a little boy who went to Dairy Queen with a gang last week and choked to death on a straw.”

With all the little boys dying in the area, I’m surprised there were any children left to go to school with. I guess, in her way, she was trying to protect me and my brother from tragedies in life, and on some level, I appreciate that, more now than then.

She was most often sweet and kind, but on occasion, a stubborn streak showed up. In latter years, she needed a cane to walk with. Her hips were worn a bit, but she didn’t want to use a cane because she was afraid it would make her look old. (She was 96! The look was already there!) On a senior trip to the Ozarks, she refused each day to use her cane. On a shopping day in Eureka Springs, the sidewalks were wet from rain and the pavement was very steep making it hard for my mom to navigate from store to store. My friend Brain, who was a young chaperone on that trip, noticed the problem and tried to get her to buy a cane to help her get around with a little more ease. Brian found a store with a cane for $60 and recommended that she buy it. She said that was a ridiculous price for a cane and besides she had a cane back in the room. Brian then found another cane at a shop for $25 and told mother about it. She stated that absolutely, in no way would she buy a cane for $25, especially since she had one back at the room. Brian then went to the shop owner with the $25 cane and paid him $22 for it. He told him that a lady would be coming in a little while and asked if he would sell her the cane for the remaining $3. He agreed. Brian then went to my mother and said he had found her a cane for $3. Would she be interested? She thought $3 was a good price and she bought the cane and got around pretty well for the rest of the day. Brian told this story at her funeral and I gave him back his $22.

Mother baked cakes for the public all of my life. And they were the best cakes I’ve ever eaten. Each recipe started off with, ”Take one pound of Crisco and 4 sticks of butter.” There was always cake around the house. If mother made the wrong size cake, we got it. If she misspelled the name on the cake, we got it. I’ve celebrated the birthdays of hundreds of people I’ve never met. She loved to make cupcakes. They were all the same size and if you had to toss a few for spelling errors, it wasn’t a great loss. The worst spanking I ever got was over a cupcake. A few years ago the phrase, “What would Jesus do,” became popular. People had it on necklaces and bracelets and bumper stickers. But my mother was using that line long before anyone else. If I or my brother did anything wrong, with condemnation, she would stare us straight in the eyes and ask the burning question, “What would Jesus do?” We hated that, and I think Jesus was probably not too excited about it either. One Sunday, we got home from church after just hearing a hell fire and brimstone message about sharing. All of the sermons back then were about hell fire and brimstone, this one had a little extra in it about sharing your good fortune with others. It was kind of like putting a little sugar on a spicy hot tamale. Apparently my brother and I weren’t listening that morning. When we got home, we noticed simultaneously that there was one cupcake left in the pan. We raced to it and all hell fire and brimstone broke out . The cup cake itself must have been made for the birthday of a guy named Sammy, but mom had written Mammy on it, thus the family got a cupcake. My brother got the biggest part. It said “Mam,” while I ended up with only the “my.” When mother saw the fight, she jumped in the middle of it. We started running but you know the law of the jungle; “slowest one gets eaten first.” She caught me in mid air and slammed me down on the kitchen counter. “Did you even listen to the sermon this morning?” she asked. Her eyes flared at me and I knew what was coming. With a loud booming voice she asked, “WHAT WOULD JESUS DO!?” The whole situation was not good, but I think this is where it took a really bad turn. I said, “He’d make more cupcakes.” I don’t remember much of my childhood after that. And, I do get a slight shiver when I’m around a small cake. My mother never attended a funeral at Main Street Baptist Church that she didn’t bring a cake for the family of the deceased. We called it the “Death Cake.” It was the same style cake every time. Rectangular cake, white icing, rosettes with the scripture, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,”.. Philippians 4:13. I’m not for sure how that particular scripture pertained to a funeral, but we never asked burning questions like that back then. When we came home as children if mother was writing scripture on a white cake we looked at each other and said in unison, “Who died?” This week at her funeral, we placed a cake on the casket instead of flowers. We didn’t want her to attend her last funeral without bringing a cake. She would have laughed.

With all the crazy things I can say about my mother, let me close with this. She was the first person to tell me about Jesus. She took me to church, she read the bible to me and she taught me about worship. I am who I am in many ways today, because of my mom. I love her and will miss her for the rest of my life. She had 101 years on this earth. That’s a pretty good run. We are sad for us and thrilled for her.

My sons, Joshua and Caleb ministered at mother’s funeral. Joshua took us to the Word and Caleb sang us to the throne. It was a great homegoing. Mother would have loved every moment of it. The boys are back at their homes in Pennsylvania and Colorado and Betty has gone to Josh’s to see the Grandboys. I have a little time by my self, so I think I’ll go get a cake and recall some memories. I’m thinking about going to Dairy Queen to get one of those ice cream cakes, but don’t worry mom, I’ll stay clear of the straws.

MIKE

I met my best friend when I was a junior in high school. I was helping with the youth group at First Baptist in Winnsboro, TX. I met all the students on a Sunday morning and after church, Mike Zachary invited me to lunch. He asked me if I would like a tour of the city. He drove me to Main street, stopped the car, and pointed to his left and said, “Now that’s North Winnsboro, to my right is South Winnsboro, across the street is East Winnsboro, and as you may have figured, we are currently in West Winsboro. Now, lets get a burger.” And right away I liked him! He was down on my level. We spent the whole day together talking about things that teenagers talk about, some of which I will not share with you here. At the end of the day, we got a Coke and a package of “Ding Dongs” and celebrated our new friendship. I can’t remember why that combination of snack food and drink. Probably because it was closest to the check out counter and it was cheap. From then on, through our lives, we celebrated our triumphs and our heart breaks with “Ding Dongs” and Coke. We became room mates in college, we celebrated, “Ding Dongs” and Coke. When he moved back home, we had a sad going away party with “Ding Dongs” and Coke. My wedding to Betty, his wedding to Janet, the birth of my children, the adoption of his Daughter Anna…all with “Ding Dongs” and Coke.

Years went by and we kept up with each other. Sometimes we’d call or show up at each other homes. We went to car shows and gun shows. Often when I didn’t expect it, Mike would show up at a revival meeting where I was preaching, and we’d catch up in the parking lot. Sometimes we would talk for hours.

Some years ago, my youngest son, Caleb was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. He was given just months to live. We had surgeries on our little boy to remove the tumor, but in the process, a portion of his brain was removed that damaged his equilibrium and his eyesight. The prognosis was bleak and my world kind of fell down around me. I was in his hospital room, well after midnight when there was a knock on the door. It was faint, so I didn’t answer it at first and then it came again, so I got up and opened the door. There stood my friend Mike, holding a box of “Ding Dongs” and a Coke….. For a moment a burden was lifted from me and my tired brain was, for just a welcomed little while, put in neutral. We normally would catch up on what was happening in our lives, or recall some fun times in our past. But that night we sat quietly. Nothing was said or remembered, just a friend leaning on another friend. He was with me for two days, and I was comforted.

Mike called me about two years ago and wanted to see me and talk. I said I would be home next week and would call him then. He said that wouldn’t be soon enough, he needed to see me today. I was in a revival not terribly far from him and I said we could meet there if he didn’t mind the drive. He showed up that night. After the service we went to the parking lot and he told me about a friend of his who had died that week and it broke his heart that he didn’t get to tell him how much he thought of him. “I don’t want that to happen to us,” he said. “ I want you to know that I love you and thank you for being my friend.” Well, you know how emotional old people are. We both cried and hugged each other. We hugged for a very long time and after a bit Mike said, “Do you think maybe we’ve held this hug for a little longer than we should?” We quickly unhugged, wiped our eyes and he said, “Maybe we should go shoot something or hang some drywall. Oh, and I’ve got “Ding Dongs” and Coke in the car.”

Mick Zachary passed away this week. Though I use words in all that I do, I just can’t find the right ones to express my grief. I was privileged to speak at his service and thrilled to be with his sweet family in the middle of this. But today, I am really hurting. Other than my wife, I really have no other friends that go back so far in my life that I’ve maintained a relationship with all this time. Mike and I sang together for years. His harmonies were unreal. He just filled in all the gaps with with a vocal style like I’ve never heard. I will miss singing with him. I will miss his humor. When Betty and I were married, we got great gifts. Toasters, mixers, dishes, silverware. Mike gave us a puppy! A PUPPY!! You just have to love a guy like that. But of all these and so many other things, I will simply miss his presence in my life.

I arrived early at the funeral home yesterday before any one else was there. On the way, I stopped by a convenience store. One last time, by his side, I celebrated with my old bud. I, out loud, remembered a few snap shots of our relationship that no one else knows, I thanked God for our friendship, and I had a final “Ding Dong” and Coke with my friend.

In John 11, Jesus lost his friend Lazarus. I don’t know how long they had known each other, but most assuredly not for 49 years. Jesus, knowing all things of life and death and heaven, still stood at the tomb of his friend and wept. Today has been a “ weep” day for me. Tomorrow will be better as will the next, but the hurt will always be there. Jesus knew that, and I am comforted in that knowledge. Mike is now in the presence of the Lord. He was always trying to beat me at something, and now, it looks like he won. My heart is heavy for me and my joy is great for him. Hey Mike, when I see you in Glory, I’m bringing you a puppy!

AND SHE LEFT.....

I came home last week to find my dog Toby, sitting on the picnic table in the back yard. Now if his name was Snoopy or Scooby-Doo, this would probably be normal. But Toby is a 4 pound Chorky, (that’s half Chihuahua/half Yorkshire Terrier), (and we’re not for sure which half actually comes first), with legs the length of match sticks and a jumping ability limited to barely being able to hurdle over the door threshold. He hates the grass because it tickles his belly and if he falls over outside, no one can tell. So, jumping on the picnic table was not in the realm of possibility. I went out the back door and said to him, so what’s up other than you. He gave me that pitiful look like, “Hey, I’m not here because I want to be.” Suddenly Betty came out the back door and said she was glad I was home because the dog needed to be groomed. She had put him on the table to start the progress and needed me to watch him while she went to get his brush. And she left.

The dog and I caught up on each other’s week and shortly, Betty appeared with the brush. As she was grooming Toby’s coat, I suddenly noticed that she was using my hair brush! MY HAIR BRUSH! I said, “Hey, is that my brush!!”

“Yes,” she said casually. “ The bristles are not as stiff as my brush because you hair is not as long, and, let’s be honest, as thick as mine. I’ve always used your brush for Toby. Is that a problem?”

I was kind of horrified! “Please tell me you clean if after you use it!”

“Well of course I clean it, I’m not you. I brush it out and sterilize it. It’s cleaner now than when you were the only one using it.”

She finished brushing the dog, (with my brush!), and then said, “Now, I need to trim his nails. Stay here and watch him while I get some clippers.” And she left.

She returned with clippers and began the process of cutting the dogs nails. Suddenly I noticed she was using my clippers! MY CLIPPERS! “Hey, are those my nail clippers?!”

“Well, yes,” she said, once again casually, “Your clippers are bigger than mine and they’re rounded at the end so they’re better for the dog. I always use you clippers for Toby. Is that a problem?”

Once again, horrified! “Are you kidding me? You use my nail clippers on the Dog? Please tell me you clean them too!

“Well of course I clean them. I wash them and sterilize them. His nails are usually cleaner than yours and his don’t fly 20 feet across the room when they’re clipped!”

She finished the clipping, (with my clippers), and then said, “Now I need to clean his teeth, stay here and watch him while I get a toothbrush. And she left………………….!

Every day in my life I discover new things. Things that sometimes shock me. Things that make me cry or laugh. Things that cause me to ask why. The television news is running 24 hours a day and we are bombarded by stories that we, even 20 years ago, would have thought unreal. The absurd stories by the newspaper “The National Enquirer” from when I was a kid, now seem tame. Everyday I maneuver around stories from the world that sometimes shake me to my core. But there is a constant in all of this. There is a God who gives peace and makes sense out of the chaos of this life. His name is Jesus. I trust that you know Him and if not, read His love letter to you and discover something in this life that never changes.

We have had a wonderful year sharing Jesus all across our nation. Thank you for your prayers and care for us. We were so busy this last year and next year is shaping up to be another 12 months of great opportunity to reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ. For those who have helped us financially, I thank you. The road is difficult and expensive. You have blessed us and given us the ability to go and tell. There is still time to contribute to our ministry this year either online or by mail. We thank you for remembering us and providing for us on the road. You have blessed us!

We hope you all have had a great Christmas and that you are headed to a wonderful new year. I, myself, am headed to Wal-Mart to get a new tooth brush! God bless.

David

YEAH! ANOTHER YEAR

Well, here it is, another new year coming our way.  My mother will be 100 years old in February and she is very excited about it.  My wife Betty will be (none of your business) years old in June and she's not too thrilled.  Perspective.  It's all in how you look at it.  At my mother's party I'll tell her, "Hey, I'm so thrilled for you and you look great!  At Betty's party I'll say, "Hey, I'm so sorry for you, but you look great!  Perspective.  Betty found a few gray hairs on her head the other day.  It concerned her.  My mother, whose hair has been completely gray for 50 years found a dark hair on her head last week and was delighted. Perspective.  How you look at situations really affects your attitude and what you think about something.   

Betty and I have been blessed in the last five years by her recovery from breast cancer.  Every day is a blessed day and even though I jest, we are so glad for the time God has given us together.  We choose to look at everything through new eyes that God has given us.  Eyes that were opened when we first met Him, and eyes that are opening wider everyday as He shows us His great love.  

We've been honored to minister God's word for over 40 years now.  I could never imagine, that years ago the Lord would reach down to us and cause us to be messengers of His love and grace to a world of chaos.  To look at us, you'd never think we were useful, but in God's eyes, he saw possibilities.  Perspective.  When you look at yourself as God's looks at you, you're something wondrous.  The song says, "God don't make no junk!"  I am living proof of that and so are you!

I hope you had a joyous time celebrating the Savior's birth and may you have another new year filled with possibilities for the Lord.  Thank you for your prayers this year and also your love offerings.  Our only means of support for this ministry is you.  God bless and we hope to see you soon.  Our calendar has been refurbished and will be up next week.  Come and see us if we are close by.

In Christ,  David and Betty

             

HOME IS FOR THE BIRDS

Being home is great.  Sometimes a little crazy, but still great.  I'll explain.  I don't exactly understand the love that older folks have for birds.  Let me clarify the word older, "anyone with more years behind them than me."  My mother for instance is 98 years old.  She is thrilled by birds.  I don't get it.  Honestly, birds, especially when they come close,  tend to creep me out.  They have eyes on the sides of their head.  When they look at you it's with just one eye.  What's the other eye looking at? It's like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park!  And, they're equipped with a weapon right between those eyes!  They're just tiny dinosaurs that would peck and eat you if they were bigger.  (By the way, your cat is a tiny tiger, so think about that!)  Anyway, here at home, my mom loves birds.  So much that she has about 25 bird feeders in her yard!  She has actually changed the migratory route for some species.  Word has gotten out to the flocks that if you can't make it to Mexico when the weather gets cold, just stop at Melba's house and hold up for the winter.  My mother has trash cans full of bird feed and almost every kind of feeder that has ever been made.  The reason for that, is that for Christmas, people give her bird feeders.  Lots and lots of feeders.   When you're 98 years old, first of all, that's lots and lots of years, and that's lots and lots of Christmas' and, well you get it, a whole bunch of feeders!  She has an Elvis feeder, at least I think it's Elvis.  His hair is white from all of the bird....uh, fall out.  I guess it could be Santa with a guitar.  She has a wooden feeder that looks like a metal barn.  She has a metal feeder that looks like a wooden barn.  She has trash can lids nailed upside down to posts.  There are Victorian style feeders, church style feeders, contemporary style feeders, single level feeders, multi level feeders, feeders with doors, feeders with windows!  She has a feeder that has a feeder IN IT!  Forrest Gump would be thrilled.  Me, not so much.  I'm just not a fan of the birds.  And here's one of the problems with the bird thing,..  SQUIRRELS.  That's right. Those cute little furry rodents with fuzzy tails.  They love bird seed.  All kinds of of bird seed.  All of mother's feeders are under trees.  The squirrels are like tiny ninjas.  They drop from the trees and eat all the bird seed.  In the process, they wreck the feeders.  Doors are ripped off, perches are broken, glass is smashed, and Elvis has been climbed on so many times that he now looks like he's kneeling and praying for a hound dog to chase the squirrels.

So the phone rings and I hear my mother say,  "Come over quick and shoot these squirrels!"  Well, I don't shoot much these days.  Now I'd probably shoot a bird, because , once again, they creep me out, but not much else.  So I politely declined from helping mom diminish the cute little animal population.  So she got a little upset and vowed that if no one was going to help her, she was going to kill those squirrels herself, regardless of what it took.  "OK mom, do what you have to do."  Be careful what you give your 98 year old mother permission to do!

The next day I go over to her house to check on her.  Her entire back porch is made up of windows that raise and lower.  Every window was raised that faced the "feeders."  In all of the window sills of all of the windows were all of the knives that the woman owns.  Butcher knives, steak knives, potato knives, butter knives, swiss army knives.  Whatever had a blade in her kitchen, was lined up in the windows.  She had a chair pulled up to the glass and she was stalking the enemy.  She turned to me when I came in with a wild look in her eye.  Not both of her eyes, just one.  After all she is 98.  I asked, "What on earth are you doing?!"  She said, "I'm killing me some squirrels."  I said, "Mother, I've got a feeling that the "rest home" is full of people who have said those very same words!" I asked her, "Have you killed any yet"?

She said, "I'm not sure, but I think I cut off one of em's tail!"

I asked, "Are you happy with that?"

"No," she said, "Cause I've lost three knives!"

We cleaned up the yard, glued and hammered feeders back together and found most of the knives.  There was a partial furry tail under a tree and Elvis's hair is no longer white, it's missing.  Mother must have scalped him in the massacre.  I guess mom's better with a knife that I thought.

 I've been traveling on the road for a total of thirty-seven years now.  The Lord has taken us so many places to minister.  Sometimes I think I've seen every weird thing you can imagine in the towns where I've gone to serve.  But then I come home and find that all the wonderful craziness I need can be found right here!  Home is good.  I hope that you can find a little of "home" this Christmas.  Wherever you may be, I pray God will bring comfort and give you time with those that you love so much and sweet memories of those who have gone on before.  That the peace that passes understanding will cover you and and prevail in your heart this Christmas season.  We have great cause for rejoicing because unto us a Child was born and a Savior has come.  His name is Jesus.  If you have been away from the Lord this year, then I urge you to come home.  Being back home with the Father is the best.   

Thank you for your prayers this year as we shared the good news of Jesus across our nation.  Thank you for your financial help.  We have no means of support other than from those who care for our ministry.  Your gift is so appreciated.  We promise to use it to further the kingdom of God.  Your gift is tax deductible and a receipt will be sent to you for your taxes.  Our mailing address is:  David Crain New Life Ministries, PO Box 277, Grand Saline, TX 75140.  You may also give online at this web-site if you so desire.

Please keep up with us here at www.davidcrain.com.  Come and see us if we are close by.  Betty is five years out from her cancer diagnosis and is doing well.  Thank you for lifting her up.  We treasure every day that God gives us.  

Gotta go now.  Betty is saying something about buying a bird feeder and I need to sharpen a few knives.  They'll probably work on birds too!