An object lesson for your children – A Nickel’s Worth of Ice Cream

ice-cream-barOne of the scariest experiences I had as a military brat involved the ice cream man, my bicycle, and a nickel.

My story would make a good object lesson for your children or grandchildren. I guarantee if you hold up a nickel between your thumb and pointer finger, make sure the children can see it, and look at it from time to time while reading my below story, you’ll have them washing their hands and not putting coins in their mouth. You’ll even find yourself washing your hands more often after handling change.

Go ahead, have your children and grandchildren gather around and tell them my story —

The seductive serenade of the ice cream man’s music blasted over a public address system mounted on his truck’s roof. One large speaker pointed forward with the music mystically announcing, “Here I come, get your parents to give you some money.” The second positioned to trumpet to the homes and people he had just driven past letting them know, “Hurry, it’s not too late.”

Like the moth drawn to the flame, I started dancing and crying out, “Oh please, mother. It’s the ice cream man. Can I have a nickel?”

Ice cream bars on a stick were only five cents.

“Jim, a nickel’s a lot of money,” mother said.

“He’s passing our house! I’ll take out the trash,” I pleaded and bargained at the same time. “Can I? Please?”

She quickly pulled a quarter from her purse. “Get four of the fudge ones,” mom said as she tossed me a quarter. “Bring me back the nickel he will give you as change for giving him the quarter.”

I raced out the front door, jumped on my bicycle and pedaled fast to catch up with the white truck carrying the sweet treats.

I quickly made the purchase, clutched my four ice cream bars in one hand and my nickel change in the other. That is when I realized I had a problem.  I was two blocks from home with my ice cream in one hand, a coin in the other and a bicycle to ride back home.

I knew I had to get back fast as the temperature was 110 degrees at Luke Air Force Base where I lived. I thought quickly and had what I believed was a solution.

I put the nickel in my mouth, climbed on the bicycle, and clutched two ice creams in each hand holding their wooden sticks tightly. Somehow I made it home okay. I tossed down the bike, ran into the house carrying my four prizes.

Then it happened. As I started to speak, I gagged on the nickel. Well, I started choking on it before I swallowed it.

Mother yelled at dad and my little brother. She grabbed me and next thing I knew I was in the emergency room at the Luke Air Force Base Dispensary. As she arrives explaining what had happened, I was taken for x-rays. I still vividly remember the picture where it looked like the nickel was sitting on my rib.

The doctor explained the nickel may pass through my system during routine bowel movements in the next one to three days. He told how I would need to squat over a newspaper when I had a BM. That way I could use a stick (he handed me a handful of tongue depressors) to check the feces for the nickel.

If I hadn’t passed the nickel in four days, they would do surgery! Yikes.

For the next three days, every time I went to the bathroom my then five-year-old little brother would come with me looking at my bottom as I did my deed. On the third day, he started screaming, “There it is, there it is!” as he could see the nickel.

I was relieved as were my parents that I wouldn’t have to face surgery.

What about the fudge bars? They melted on the kitchen counter. In my parents’ haste to get me to the ER, no one thought of putting them in the freezer.

Whenever I see an ice cream bar, I frequently remember the ice cream man, my bicycle, and a nickel. I never put coins in my mouth, and I always wash my hands after touching coins. I know where the coins have been!

Hanging On: A Biblical Alternative

Hang On
Hang On

Hang On

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. — 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV)

Is life getting you down? Do you feel like you’re at the end of your rope? Here are seven Biblical principles on how to hang on when you feel like you’re at the end of your rope.

Principle One: I must not forget God loves me.

  • Don’t lose heart! – Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. — 2 Corinthians 4:1 (NIV)
  • I am what I am – But by the grace of God I am what I am, … — 1 Corinthians 15:10 (NIV)
  • It’s not who we are. It’s whose we are! – Remember our performance does not give us our worth.
  • God’s grace gives us the power to start over. – Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. — Romans 8:37 (NIV)

Principle Two: I must keep a clear conscience.

  • Renounce secret and shameful ways. — Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. — 2 Corinthians 4:2 (NIV)
  • We must have integrity. — The integrity of the upright guides them,
    but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. Proverbs 11:3 (NIV)
  • We must have character. — For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Luke 8:17 (NIV)
  • There are no “secret sins.” God sees and knows everything. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. — 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

Principle Three: It is not about me.

  • Do not preach ourselves — For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. — 2 Corinthians 4:5 (NIV)
  • Your ego will only take you so far. —  Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall. — Proverbs 16:18 (TLB)

Principle Four: I can’t do it all.

  • Power is from God — But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. — 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV)
  • We must pace ourselves. Life is a journey, not a sprint. — Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. — Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Principle Five: Love, love, love.

  • Thanksgiving to overflow — All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. — 2 Corinthians 4:15 (NIV)

Principle Six: Take time to refresh, renew, and revive.

  • Do not lose heart — Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. — 2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV)

Principle Seven: I must keep my eye on the goal.

  • Fix our eyes on what is unseen — For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NIV)

Remember — You cannot create if you don’t face your troubles and hang on until you reach your goal.

If You’re a Caregiver, God’s Grace is Enough

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Part of learning to care for a loved one with a chronic illness is learning that God’s grace is enough.

Today’s Bible Verse:

2 Corinthians 12:9 (KJV), “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

What the Verse Means:

Suffering uncovers your heart’s weaknesses so that Christ is your strength.

Praying Using the Verse:

  1. Heavenly Father, help us to cry out to You in our weakness and claim Your promise the Your grace is sufficient for us, for Your power is made perfect in weakness.”  
  2. Thank you, Lord, for providing your sufficient grace.
  3. Teach us how to boast all the more gladly of our weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon us. We don’t understand how but trust in you for our power to be made perfect in weakness.
  4. We ask for strength daily. Give us the grace we need and we pray the power of Christ to rest upon us. The only boasting we will do is to acknowledge our weakness and your sufficiency.

Remember, if you’re a caregiver there is hope. The hope for the caregiver is Jesus Christ.

Photo Source: Pixaby

 

If You’re a Caregiver, Don’t Lose Heart

Don’t Lose Heart

When caring for someone with a chronic illness do not lose heart. We know that illness and disease can and ultimately will destroy the body. While our loved one’s body ages and suffers from diseases, we need to renew our spiritual side daily.

In today’s verse, God simply is pointing out we should view all earthly adversity in comparison with our future heavenly glory. When we do this, we should be strengthened to endure our earthly trials.

Today’s Bible Verse

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (KJV), “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

What the Verse Means

While our bodies (outward man) grow old and suffer from diseases our spiritual side (inward man) is renewed daily. Too often we only focus on the things we see in this present life. We need to also focus on the spiritual, that is the things that are not seen but given to us by God as a future promise. these are only seen with our “spiritual eyes.” It takes faith. A part of faith is believing that what God has promised he will certainly bring to pass. I believe.

Praying Using the Verses

1. Heavenly Father, help us to focus on you and not lose heart.
2. Lord Jesus, while our outward body is perishing, yet our inward man or body is being renewed daily.
3. God, we realize the chronic illness we are facing won’t last forever but is working in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
4. Lord God, help us to not look at our circumstances which are temporary but to look at the things that are not now seen, but eternal.

Remember, as a caregiver we have hope. The hope for the caregiver is Jesus Christ.

Photo Source: Pixaby

I Believed I Could Fly

                                                            Superman

Greenville, South Carolina

In 1956, my father returned from a one-year tour of duty in Turkey. Our family moved to Greenville, South Carolina. The United States Air Force stationed dad at Donaldson Air Force Base, a C-124 airfield that emphasized air transport and called itself the “Airlift Capital of the World”.

My first memories are from living at 201 Maco Terrace in Greenville from 1956 – 1958. That was also the first house my parents owned.

Faster than a speeding bullet!

My favorite TV show during those days was Superman. Superman always began, “Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Look, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman! … He fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way!”

In 1956 and 1957 I would run around the house with a towel for a cape and wearing only a t-shirt and my tighty whities pretending I was Superman. I would have my arms stretched out in front of me, my head down as I was flying around the living room and kitchen.

I would try to fly.

One evening I decided I would try to fly. I got on the couch, then used the arm of the sofa as a step before I was standing on the top back of the sofa. Suddenly, with arms outstretched I jumped toward the television.

Instead of flying, I feel like a rock. My forehead found the corner of the coffee table. I didn’t fly but instead received a big cut.

The emergency room

We had to get in the car and drive to the emergency room at Donaldson Air Force Base. The wound was so severe that even with my mother holding a washcloth and applying pressure on it, blood was flowing from my forehead into my eyes where I couldn’t see.

I asked my mother if they would get me a seeing-eye dog if I went blind. Suddenly, the laughter filled the car. My parents were laughing at me.

Fifteen stitches

The doctor also chuckled as I received the fifteen stitches to stop the bleeding as mother retold the story. I have heard the seeing-eye dog story for over fifty years. I last heard my mother tell the story on my sixty-first birthday. She was in the hospital and shared the remembrance with the nurses. Sadly she passed three weeks later.

The happy ending was I got stitches, didn’t go blind, learned I couldn’t fly, and learned my mother had a great memory.

Growing up a military brat was a never-ending adventure.

Compassion

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Suffering from a chronic illness affects people in different ways. Depression may come to live with some people. Other persons can become bitter. Withdrawal from friends and family can occur with some. For the Believer in Jesus Christ, it often mellows our heart to make us more compassionate. The chronic illness allows us empathy and often becomes the point of rapport where we can minister to others now walking down the pathway we have recently traversed.

Today’s Bible Verse:

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (KJV), “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

What the verse means:

The verses are a reminder of what a wonderful God we have. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy. He is the one who comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. Why does he do this? He does this where we can help other. When a family member, friend, or coworker is chronically ill, needing our support, sympathy, and encouragement, we can pass on to them the help and comfort God has given us.

Praying using the verse:

1. Heavenly Father, we praise you for how wonderful you are.
2. We acknowledge you are the Father of our Lord Jesus.
3. We proclaim you as the one who wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in hardships and trials.
4. Thank you for teaching us how to comfort others by your example to us where we can give sympathy and encouragement.


Photo Source: Pixaby with modifications by Jimmie Aaron Kepler

General Omar Bradley was my mentor.

General of the Army Omar Bradley
General of the Army Omar Bradley

For an eighteen month period in 1964 – 1966 being a Boy Scout was one of the most significant happenings in my life. The Boy Scout troop on Biggs Air Force Base at El Paso, Texas consumed most of my time. I loved the uniform, the discipline, the hiking, and camping. Well, you get the picture. I liked being a Boy Scout. I advanced from being a Tenderfoot to Second Class to First Class in record time. My goal was to be one of the youngest Eagle Scouts ever.

To achieve my goal I had to earn merit badges. Merit badges are awarded based on activities within an area of study by completing a list of periodically updated requirements. The purpose of the merit badge program allows Boy Scouts to examine subjects to determine if they would like to pursue them further as a career or vocation.

Back in my day the program also introduced Boy Scouts to the life skills of contacting an adult they hadn’t met. It required arranging a meeting, having the adult as your mentor and then demonstrating my skills, similar to a job or college interview. In more recent years, more merit badges are earned in a class setting at troop meetings and summer camps than through the guidance of a mentor.

I decided to seek the God and Country Merit Badge. I received a mimeographed list of available mentors. I called the man I selected and made an appointment.

I told my father I needed him to take me over to Fort Bliss to meet my mentor. Dad said okay. Kind of in passing, he asked who my mentor was.

I picked up my paper. I said the mentor told me he was retired from the US Army. Dad nodded. I told dad the mentor’s name was Omar Bradley. It has GA after his name, whatever that is. I knew rank abbreviations but had never seen GA before.

“General of the Army Omar Bradley?” asked dad with a gasp.

“I guess,” I recall replying.

Dad told me who he was. I gasped.

General Bradley was kind. He had been an Eagle Scout. I remember asking General Bradley what he did to relax during World War II. He said he and General Eisenhower used to work calculus problems. They would challenge each other with advanced mathematics. He said you can’t think of anything else or worry when working a real math problem. That’s when I learned calculus was math.

I was too young to appreciate the access I had to my mentor but am in awe that such men would help boys grow into our country’s future leaders. He kindly led me through the process of earning the God and Country Merit Badge. Thank you, General Bradley.


Photo Credit: Public Domain