Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ash Wednesday Meditation 2009

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life though Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

When I checked into the Doctor's Office recently, they asked to see my health insurance cards. I told the doctor's receptionist she already had all that information. I was told they now have to have it fresh at every visit. She handed me the note in large print:

"We now require a copy of your insurance card and a picture ID at every visit. This is to protect you, the patient from insurance fraud. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter. "

Insurance fraud? The nurse told me, someone had used another person's insurance card. So we are all paying in time and money for the cost of Insurance Fraud. The wages of Insurance fraud, like the wages of other "sin" is death, we are told in the Bible, our Book of Faith. (Romans 6:23) Peter talks about those who have forsaken the right way and who love the wages of unrighteousness. (2 Peter 2:15)

But speaking of "sin", none of us have clean hands. It is all too easy to confess other’s people’s sins instead of our own.

Ash Wednesday in February 25 this year and only four days until the month of March come in mild as a lamb or roars in like a lion! However it comes in, March is always welcomed as a signal that spring is on the horizon. The Ash Wednesday Service is to remind us of our own sin and our own mortality. It is to remind us to get life in focus and to get our priorities straight. We need to be reminded we will not live on this earth forever. This life is a short “dry run” even if we should live here 100 years. We are all dying people. We are going to spend eternity somewhere. So we are reminded again on Ash Wednesday: “Remember... dust you are and to dust you will return:”

Thus we kneel at the church altar to have the pastor mark our forehead with a cross of ashes. The ashes is to remind us of that the wages of sin is death. The cross is to tell us again the greatest good news the world has ever heard! "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

Father, during this Lenten season help each one of us to kneel at the cross and arise in the strength of knowing Christ Jesus as savior and Lord. AMEN.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Presidents Day and Politics.

I have never been a member of a political party. But as far back as I can remember I have continued to be an observer of political issues.

As a Georgian, I loved and voted for Jimmy Carter both times for President. I did not vote for Bill Clinton but respected him as a brilliant speaker and a gifted politician and a patriot. However, I do believe a person's personal life is important, and his affair in the oval office with a girl only a few years older than his daughter is more than a personal affair.

The fact that the Republican politicians were looking for any and all "evidence" against the Democratic President William J. Clinton was a sad episode in our history. Equally as tragic is the relentless and hate filled Democratic public attacks on Republican President George W. Bush.

The tragedy of "gotcha" politics compounds the problems in a world where the radical Muslims in many Middle Eastern nations have openly declared their intentions to destroy this nation as well as all of Western civilization. The academic "Western Civ must Go" slogan of the 60's has been taken up seriously by our suicidal enemies as well as the thoughtless "blame America" people.

My father died when I was nine. Papa was a devout Christian thinker, whose faith and life had a profound influence on me. So politics has always taken a back seat to my Christian commitment. But I was raised by a mother who was an avid reader and took a keen interest in politics and was quite vocal about her views. She could be (and was) quite opinionated!

For President's day 2008, I will write about politics in the 1930's. Mama was not as big an admirer of President Franklin D. Roosevelt as were many of the people in our town who voted for him for a second term saying "he took the wrinkles out of my belly." They then voted for him for a third and fourth term so as to "not change horses in the middle of the stream" during World War II.

While others were praising Roosevelt for the eight-hour day, Mama was not reluctant to point out that some people could not "see an inch from their noses" and see the long view with the government taking over the lives of the individual citizens. Mama felt she was seeing the long view for the common good rather than individual issues for personal gain.

Mama was also suspicious of the Workers Unions. She thought they would create as many problems as they solved. And last, but not least, she disagreed with Roosevelt's Alcoholic beverage lobby support and work of repealing the eighteenth amendment and again legalizing (and therefore popularizing) alcoholic drinks. Today the powerful muti-million dollar Alcohol Insustry has bought the approval of a large percentage of our people and the silence of all but a few.

Certainly legalizing Alcoholic Beverages has not solved the alcohol problem. Alcoholism is a major problem in our society, We now have children who are alcoholics as well as a holocost of "Driving Under the Influence" deaths. Yes, Alcoholisn is a disease. But unlike the some otehr diseases, thanksfully there is a known cure. Persons suffering from cancer or AIDS who only hope to find such a sure cure?

Mama believed (and stated ) that these positions negated whatever other good President Roosevelt had done. I was a child, but I remember some of the arguments in favor of legalizing alcohol -- that the revenues would buy school books to educate the children (the same arguments used more recently to legalize gambling) -- and that the government could then "control" alcoholic beverages. Thus legalization would do away with speak-easies and the evils of the bootlegging of "deadly liquor brewed in old rusted auto parts by the Snuffy Smith types in the hills and backwoods of nowhere." The liquor dealers and pro-liquor politicians knew how to phrase their arguments then as now to influence the thoughtless. I was a small child at the time but read the daily newspaper and heard the discussions on the neighborhood front porches.

It is interesting to have lived long enough to see that politics has been alive and working for a long time.

Breast Feeding

Breast Feeding. In Headline News several years ago, I read that Actress Salma Hayek's daughter Valentina Paloma turned one year old. But like other Mothers before her, Heyek was loathe to give up breastfeeding as Valentina was thriving so beautifully.

Many mothers learned, as I learned when I was breastfeeding my first baby, it is good to wait until the baby can drink from a cup, rather than to wean him/her to a bottle from her/his mother's milk and then from the bottle to a cup.

As most of us have been taught, there are very good reasons to breast feed: It is natural and the very best nutrition for babies, as well as important for bonding and economics, just to name a few.
And most importantly, to remember the first milk in the breast, colostrum is the medication and nutrition the newborn baby needs.

Salma Hayek, a spokesperson for UNICEF, discovered another good reason to keep her breast milk flowing during her visit to Sierra Leone in September 2008.

In an effort to encourage West African women to breastfeed, the actress/humanitarian offered a sick baby boy the greatest gift of all -- milk from her own breast. After she's fed the baby, it was suggested that Hayek had been disloyal to her own baby by sharing her milk? Hayek decides that she has done something good for both babies. "My baby would be very proud to be able to share her milk," she says. It seems that Hayek's unselfish giving of her breast milk is a bit of a family tradition.

She tells the story of her own great-grandmother breast feeding a stranger's hungry child on a street in Mexico. It's a beautiful story made more so by Hayek's own gift to a hungry little baby.

The question asked at the end of the story asked: If you ever found yourself in a position to do so, would you breastfeed another woman's child? Would you allow your child to feed at another woman's breast? My answer is “yes” to both questions. Of course I would!

This story reminded me of a story in my life I had not thought about for a long time. My sister-in-law, Ruth Mitchem Baird and I were pregnant at the same time. My daughter Janice was born on June 3 and her daughter Gail was born on June 14 of the same year.

One day three month old Janice and I were visiting my mother while my mother was baby sitting Gail for my sister-in-law who had a doctor’s appointment. For some reason Ruth was delayed past Gail’s regular meal time. When Gail began to let us know it was getting past her dinner time, Mama turned to me and said, “You can feed her.”

I was young and frankly shocked and looked at my Mother questioning? “Sure it is alright and a good thing to do,” my wise mother assured me. So my beautiful little neice Gail was happy to accept milk from my breast while her mother was away and I had plenty of milk for Janice’s next feeding.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Life with Wings

Life With Wings
Cecil B.DeMille said he was in a canoe in Maine one summer day just drifting through the water in a shallow place near the shore. He could see the bottom of the lake and noticed it was covered with water beetles.
One of the water beetles crawled up on a canoe, fastened its feet in the gunnels and died.
Three hours later, still floating in the warm sun, DeMille said he witnessed a miracle. The shell of the water beetle cracked open and a tiny head emerged. The wings unfolded and finally a beautiful dragon fly with iridescent body and gossamer wings left the dead carcass and sailed across the surface of the water, shimmering in the afternoon sun…going further in a half second than the water beetle could crawl all day long.
The dragonfly sailed across the surface of the lake.. But the water beetles below, unaware of the miracle of metamorphosis, could not see it. .

DeMille said, “Do you think God would do that for a water beetle and not do it for you and me?"

Have you ever known the feeling of being lifted above ordinary limitations? Not just doing the best you can “under the circumstances” but allowing God to get you out from under the circumstances that would hold you. God is able! God is able to lift us up and over the limitations placed on us or the limitations we place on ourselves.

I sat on Sunday night with a congregation listening to Charles Shaw (a great preacher) give a sermon. He told about an imaginary conversation someone had with an ordinary looking worm crawling down the road of a busy city. The worm was "out of place" but told the man, "Don't stop me. I'm going to get my wings."

This is the poem I wrote:

Life With Wings

God made the butterfly
And I…
Stand on earth
And watch it fly
And see that God
Has fashioned wings
For even earthbound
Creeping things!
I know that God
Intended wings
For you and me
Oh! My heart sings!
I’ve found my wings.
And even I…
Can over circumstances

by RBS Copyright by RBS in 1973

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Gladys and Lavay's 50th Wedding Anniversary

Gladys and Lavay's 50th Wedding Anniversary
Sunday June 21, 2007 - 2- 4 PM

A few Comments of Memory and Appreciation.
Congratulations to Gladys and Lavay on their 50th wedding anniversary.

Lavay is my nephew and the oldest of my parents' twenty grandchildren, so he had his own special place in the Baird family. (picture at right is Lavay at 2 and Ruth at 8)

After Lavay and Gladys's marriage, Gladys also became a vital part of our large family. I am especially appreciative of the fact that Lavay and Gladys visited (and later brought their children to visit) his widowed maternal grandmother regularly in her old age.

Gladys and Lavay and their children also can always be counted on to participate and attend Baird family reunions, funerals and weddings when possible.

Lavay is the only child of my sister Louise and her husband Ernest McCullough. Louise was the last of my three sisters and five brothers to die. So as his last aunt, who knew him as a child, I will write a few memories of Lavay's childhood.

Lavay came into the world with a ready made and large family of fans. His mother Louise, as the oldest daughter, was called "Sis" by the rest of us. Sis, the perfect lady, took an interest in her younger siblings and tried to teach us proper manners, not always with success. Nevertheless, she had a special place in the heart of each one of us. I will miss her as long as I live!
. Lavay was one of the pastors to give a eulogy at his Grandmother Baird’s funeral.

Lavay's dad was killed in a tragic robbery when Lavay was a baby. Lavay may know more of the details from his mother than I, but my understanding is that Ernest was robbed of his money by two brothers and killed.
The two Hulsey brothers received the death penalty and were electrocuted for this horrible crime.

One of the sad memories of my childhood is the sight of my grieving sister, Louise fainting and almost falling as she is being escorted to a car supported on each side by her two older brothers (Wilson Grice and William Bogan) to go to the first of the cars lined up in front of our house on 32 Hazel Street to go to her husband's and the father of her baby's funeral.

When Lavay was less than two, he contracted polio in an epidemic among babies and young children. The "new" disease was affecting many babies at that time and was introduced to us as "Infantile Paralysis.

"The treatment then was to isolate the child with polio because of fear of contagion. I remember my mother being furious with the medical people at the hospital because they took him screaming away from his mother and would not let her stay with him. The family story is he never stopped crying and his strong voice could be heard crying loudly enough to be heard all the way to the waiting room.

Apparently it helped to develop his lungs to prepare him for his later calling as a preacher of the Gospel. So I suppose Mama finally forgave them. After they brought Lavay home, Sis made up for any trauma he may have endured as she lovingly bathed and massage his legs every night.

Sis was reluctant but Mama loved to tell stories of the "cute" things Lavay said as a handsome and bright little boy who learned to talk early. Mama told about how Lavay, as a toddler, slipped out of his mother's reach as she was giving him a bath, ran "stark naked" out the door to the back porch and yelled to Mrs. Horning, a neighbor, "Look Horning, I'm barefooted."

Louise and Mama took joy in the fact that Lavay, in spite of his paralyzed leg, learned to do exceptionally well everything any other boy could do, including bicycling and climbing trees.

Lavay's grandfather (my father), Wilson Baird, became ill with heart disease and died in 1932 when Lavay was only three. Family members told me how, as a thoughtful man who loved all children, Papa gave special love and attention and prayer for Lavay as his first grandchild as well as to the other three grandchildren (Marian Loyd, Leon Loyd and Bobby Baird) who were toddlers and the only grandchildren born before my father died.Papa was bedridden over a year before he died.

My sister Vera told me how several 0f the little children were one day beside Papa's bed playing when she went into his room. She said, Papa, "I'm so sorry, are they bothering you?" he replied, "Let them stay with me, we are having an important conversation."
I was six when Lavay was born, and like most little girls, was happy to be invited to go along with him and his mother, and hopefully be a little help on their frequent visits to see his paternal grandmother, Mrs. Steele and other of his father's relatives who lived in Covington - about three miles away
I also traveled with Louise and Lavay by taxi and street car for his regular exams and treatments at Scottish Rite Hospital when the hospital was located at the end of the trolley line in Decatur. We got off the trolley car and walked a few blocks to the hospital.

I am happy to join with others of my family and with friends to congratulate Gladys and Lavay on reaching the 50th anniversary milestone! Their Christian life and the Christian life and witness of all three of their children continue to be an inspiration to all who know them.