I Love a Good Test

I recently joined the ranks of those who have been tested for Covid 19. I don’t have it. I had many of the symptoms, although not a fever. Perhaps it was just a cold. I’m fine and thankful. 

However, the experience of getting tested was not what I expected. Allow me to elucidate. 

  1. I found a convenient place. 
  2. Their site promoted the following:
  •  online appointments
  • online registration
  •  curbside testing
  • rapid result tests
  • self-selecting an appointment based on their online schedule

All of that was attractive, so I began by setting up an online account that required my driver’s license and insurance card. Then I was prompted to complete the medical forms and provide other bits of information. Okay, ten minutes later, I was done.

Next was selecting an appointment for the curbside test. They had an opening for 11:30, and I took it. Once that was confirmed, a message popped up, instructing me to arrive ten minutes early; I wondered why, but okay, no problem. 

I arrived not ten but fifteen minutes early because that is how I am. I looked for cars in line but didn’t see any. They had no provision for curbside service. I parked, put on my mask, went inside, and joined the line of people waiting to speak to the receptionist. The short line bore no resemblance to a short wait.

When it was my turn, I asked where the curbside testing was located. The receptionist replied, “We don’t have curbside service.” I responded with, “Well, your website features it quite prominently.” She said, “That’s not my problem. Do you have an appointment?” I said, “Yes, at 11:30 for a covid test.” I was then asked to sign in, and doing so required a pen from one of two jars. One had a label that read CLEAN while the other read DIRTY. She noticed that I picked a pen from the DIRTY group, which annoyed her, and she said so. I apologized for not seeing the labels. She said to return the pen to the DIRTY jar, disinfect my hands from a pump on the counter, and then select a pen from the CLEAN jar using my recently disinfected hands. 

Then I was handed a clipboard and told to fill out the pages. I glanced at the first page and said, “Mam, I have already done these forms on your website.” She said, “It doesn’t matter; if you want to see a doctor, you have to fill out the forms.” So I filled them out, returned the clipboard, and then was asked for my driver’s license and insurance card. Once again, “I already scanned these; you already have them.” She said, “It doesn’t matter; if you want to see a doctor today, I need copies of your license and insurance card.” I gave them to her and sat down. Bear in mind that my 11:30 appointment was already ancient history. 

I waited and then waited some more. Finally, at 12:20, my name was called and yahoo for me. The nurse checked my vitals and asked some questions. Then says, “It will be a few minutes; I need to get my thermometer from the other room.” I timed her; it took seven minutes. She checked my temperature, no fever. She said the doctor would be in shortly. Twelve minutes later, he comes in, gives me the deep core drilling swab, and says, you can go to the waiting room; we will have your results in fifteen minutes. 

Not me, but close, really very close.

Twenty minutes later, the nurse tells me it was negative. I was so happy, not about the outcome, as much as being able to leave. Another glance at the time: I had been there for two hours.

I was glad to not have the virus and said a prayer of thanks. I drove home, feeling blessed that I wouldn’t have to cope with Covid’s weird way of being minimal for some and deadly for others. 

To Close

Jesus once told a crowd that they could come to him and find rest for their souls. He said that his burden was light, suggesting that he had few, if any, burdens for others to carry. He taught that following him was simple, and doing so required no forms, no hassles, no I.D. cards, and no waiting. He was right on all accounts.

Thank you, Jesus!

It’s a Shoe Thing

I probably had more shoes when I was a kid than I remember. The shows that I do remember are as follows:

  1. One pair of sneakers.
  2. One pair of dress shoes for church.

As mentioned earlier, if I had more than two pairs of shoes, I don’t remember. My school got the sneakers, the church got the dress shoes, and summer got my bare feet. 

Speaking of bare feet, my church had a Barefoot Sunday yesterday. Our last shoe drive was in 2012, about eight years ago. Maybe we will have another one in 2028. 

For several weeks, people have been dropping off their shoe donations. We started yesterday with more than fifty large boxes of shoes in all sizes. That number will rise significantly once the donations from yesterday get boxed up.

The boxes will go to Fort Pierce, Florida, and then flown to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. On arrival, trucks will haul the boxes to schools in the city and in villages and then given to students who are sponsored for Christian education through a faith-based nonprofit called Hope For Haiti’s Children. 

info@hopeforhaitischildren.org

During the services our members donated the shoes they wore to church. They came with the shoes off their feet and placed them on the stage. Then they were barefoot. We all went home without shoes. Walking from my office to my car was painful. There are always little bits of whatever on a parking lot, and my feet greeted them all. By the time I was in the car I had decided that shoes are a good thing. 

But don’t worry about me, I still have shoes at home, and my collection has grown since childhood:

  1. Golf shoes
  2. Sandals
  3. Sneakers
  4. Dress shoes
  5. Casual shoes
  6. Moutain shoes for Colorado 
  7. Grubby shoes for yard work

I still go barefoot sometimes, but only around the house. 

The kids in Haiti don’t have several pairs of shoes. Some don’t have any. The shoes they do have are likely too big or too small. And none will be in good condition. 

People in Haiti are poor. 

Jesus said in Matthew 25

“I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat.” 

“I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink.”

“I had nothing to wear, and you gave me something to wear. 

“I was a stranger, and you invited me in.” 

“I was sick, and you took care of me.” 

Those to whom he spoke were confused and asked, “Rabbi, when did we do these things for you?” And Jesus replied, “You did these things for me whenever you did them for the least of my brothers.” 

I have been to Haiti many times and seen deep, gut-wrenching poverty. The Haitian people certainly qualify as the least of his brothers. They aren’t the only ones, but they are some of the ones to whom Jesus referred. 

To Close

I know I shouldn’t wait for a shoe drive to donate shoes, clothing, or food. But these events remind and encourage me, and maybe all of us, to be more active in being the hands and feet of Christ. 

I still have plenty to give to those who are the least. 

How about you?

Shalom

Children: Hearts of Praise

To the conservative rabbi’s and chief priests, Jesus of Nazareth was an unabashed liberal. They branded him a false teacher and a blasphemer. 

They didn’t like him. The more public his ministry became, the more people followed him. As the number of his followers increased, so did the jealousy of his detractors.

One of the things that galled them most was his affinity for children. Here is an example. It was Passover week, and he had already come down the Mount of Olives on the donkey. There was much celebration, joyous rapture, and unbounded praise. The people shouted, 

“Hosanna to the son of David! Hosanna in the highest.” 

Hosanna is a Hebrew word meaning save or salvation. It was a word of fantastic adoration and praise. Later, in the temple courts, some children were running about and shouting, 

“Hosanna to the Son of David”

That offended the chief priests and rabbis, and they accosted Jesus for what the children were saying. They wanted him to silence them. But instead, Jesus responded with this, 

“Have you never read, “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise?”

In a culture that told children to sit still and be quiet, Jesus dared to be different. He stood up to those who disliked what the children were shouting and what they were shouting about. He stood up with Psalm 8:2:

“From the lips of children and infants, you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

King David’s words addressed his enemies, saying that the Lord would ordain the lips of children with praise. In doing so, their words of divine origin would silence David’s foes. 

In quoting Psalm 8:2, Jesus was saying this to the chief priests and rabbis: 

“You want me to silence these children, to have them stop proclaiming praise to me. But I will not, for what they are saying has been ordained by God, and I cannot silence them.” 

YESTERDAY MORNING

At the beginning of 2nd service, a little girl was in one of the isles dancing to the songs. She clapped her hands, waved her arms, and was captured by the praise music. I think she two or three years old. 

I watched her for a couple of minutes and was transfixed by her complete lack of inhibition or hesitation. She was free and was freely expressing her joy, and that was all that mattered. 

She was beautiful.  

IN CLOSING

Jesus lined up on the opposite side of the religious elite on just about everything. And they hated him for it. But their hatred didn’t discourage or even distract him.

Much like the little girl, Jesus didn’t know hesitation or inhibition. He was free, and he freely expressed his joy, and that was all that mattered. And by the way, I beleive those children knew that he loved them, for Jesus loved all the little children of the world.

He was beautiful too.  

The Big of It

I recently attended an event that was held in a charming little town with a beautiful setting. And by little, I mean it was tiny. 

Small towns have an appeal. I’m not sure why, but they do. Maybe it’s the open spaces and easy access. Houston does not offer easy access. When I left my home in Clear Lake, it took more than an hour to get out of town. When I hit the 60-minute mark, the concrete jungle still kept me captive. 

In a city the size of Houston, drive times are determined by distance and accessibility. Sometimes the destination isn’t far in terms of miles, but traffic, road repairs, and impediments can make a short distance a lengthy drive. Or maybe the location is many miles across the city, but the traffic is smooth and unhindered. It’s hard to predict, and it often changes while in route. 

It has the cumulative effect of mounding irritation, frustration, and stress. 

Did somebody say traffic? What traffic? 

The town’s people were friendly and unhurried. They had a casual, almost lackadaisical demeanor that seemed to say, “Welcome to our store, I’ll be here if you need anything. You don’t need anything, do you?” 

The town didn’t have an MLB team like the Houston Astros, or an NFL team like the Houston Texans or an NBA team like the Houston Rockets. They didn’t have an Astrodome or an NRG Center or Theater District or a ton of other things. 

Do you know what they did have? They had clean air, blue skies, and crisp, chilly mornings, and people who were comfortable living in slow-motion. And just in case I forgot to mention it, everything was five minutes away.

However, when the time came to leave, I wasn’t sad but glad to be going home. “Why,” you ask? It is because Dorothy was right; there is no place like home. Home is where I live, love, and work. It’s where I survive and thrive. Houston is my home. Yes, it has smog and smothering summer heat, and months of possibly devastating tropical storms. Houston has ever-present expansion in every direction. Can anyone say, “Urban Sprawl?” 

Do I sometimes feel there are too many people? Yes, I do. Harris County, where I reside, has a population of four million with no end in sight. However, when we moved here 23 years ago, I am sure there were many who felt the city was already overcrowded and wished all the new people would move elsewhere.

We stayed anyway.

Small towns and small-town people often possess a quality that is often missing in our urban jungles. Small towns can be lovely to visit and excellent for slowing down, reducing stress, and feeling better. 

Thank you, small towns, you have my lasting appreciation. 

The Perfect Family

The word “family” is interesting. Here is a definition:

“a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered a group, whether dwelling together or not.”

There are other uses for the word:

  • The First Family, as in the white house
  • The family, as in the mafia
  • An extended group of relatives
  • The staff or employees of an official
  • The offspring of some animals
  • The classification of plants and animals

However, none of those provide a warm, fuzzy feeling. Perhaps they are not intended to.

Families come in all shapes and sizes and reflect their culture, tradition, and heritage. The family dynamics in Japan will differ from those in Sweden, and so on. 

One’s ancestry plays a part, whether large or small, in family development. In other words, where one originates is an influencer of where one is going. We may or may not be aware of such influences, but they exist whether we know it or not. 

I often tease people with a piece of self-deprecating humor:

“My wife and I have similar backgrounds. We both come from horse cultures. Her family raised them, and my family stole them.”

No, neither is real; it is only a joke. But we all come from somewhere and from someone, and none of us had any say in the matter. 

Those who are believers are familiar with these “family” phrases:

  • The Family of God
  • God’s Holy Family
  • Family of Believers 
  • The Spiritual Family

In his letter to ancient Thessalonica, Paul wrote to express his love for the church, and he expressed it well. Every page offered words of love, affirmation, and care. 

I find it interesting that Paul used the family model to communicate how he felt about Thessalonica’s believers. Consider these references from the 2nd chapter:

A Caring Mother, 2:7-8

“Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”

A Caring Father, 2:11-12

“For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you…”

Siblings

2:9 “Surely you remember brothers and sisters…”

2:14 “For you, brothers and sisters…”

2:17 “But, brothers and sisters…”

Mom, Dad, and the kids were Paul’s choice to illustrate God’s model for the church, the Family model. 

I freely admit that just as families at home have arguments, conflicts, and difficulties, so does the family at church. “Why is that,” you ask? Well, it is simple. It is because families are made of people, and people are messy. People are flawed, sometimes broken, and often demonstrate their imperfections. 

Some say that churches are full of hypocrites. If they mean that Christians sometimes advocate one thing but live something else, then okay, we are occasionally hypocritical. Perhaps those who point out our hypocrisy might pause to measure themselves to a standard of human decency. It might turn out that we are all flawed, imperfect, and in need of divine help. 

In Closing

I love my family. I love the one at home and the one at church. Paul was right. If possible, whenever viable, both families need loving, caring mothers and encouraging comforting fathers.

Families are not perfect, but the divine model for families is, in fact, perfect.