A Hare-Raising Experience

Today is Easter.  Happy Easter to you!  What does that really mean though?  Does it mean, “Hope you get lots of candy and colored eggs!” or does it mean, “Today’s the day Jesus rose from the dead!”?  Where do these two juxtaposed meanings for this holiday come from?

We have the German Lutherans to thank for the origins of the Easter Bunny.  Much like the person of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny is something of folklore legend, who left a child colored eggs, candy or toys (or any combination thereof), depending on how good or disobedient the child had been.  This first appeared in literature in the 1600s, so it’s been around for awhile.

On the other hand, we know about Jesus Christ through what the Bible describes, as well as what literature sources outside of the Bible tell us (these were written by local historians of that time period, some of which are not Christian at all).  Here’s an interesting fact about the Bible:  It is a compilation of 66 books, written over a period of 1500 years in 3 different languages by men who lived on 3 different continents, many of whom lived many years apart from each other and never knew one another.  And yet, there is a common theme that runs through every part of the Bible:  God creates mankind in His image; mankind falls and sin enters the human race; mankind tries to redeem itself and fails time and again; God sends His Son to redeem mankind; those who receive the gift of Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection and ascension will be with Him forever.*

Does that sound like a fairytale to you?  I can understand why.  I think our society is conditioned to believe that just about everything is “too good to be true”.  But it runs deeper than that for two reasons:  One, the human race has a very real enemy who hates us because he hates God, and as a result, he does everything within his power to destroy our lives; and two, that “sin nature” that’s in every one of us doesn’t want to admit that we even need any help at all, and–if you’re honest with yourself–it results in a person refusing to give up the sin in their life.  So, once again, it all comes down to a choice that is completely up to each one of us to make:  What will we do with Jesus?

Do you know that even historians who are Atheists acknowledge the historical authenticity of the Bible?  That there are historical documents in existence that put first-hand-witness accounts of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension within ten to twenty years of the actual events?  It astounds Christian and Atheist historians alike.  The empty grave speaks for itself.  No one has ever been able to legitimately explain it away.**

Does the Easter Hare have such a background?  I think you know the answer to that.  The life of wholeness and peace and joy that you have been searching for your whole life is right in front of you in the person of Jesus Christ!  So what will you do with Him?

*From “Good Or God” by John Bevere

**From “The Case For Christ” by Lee Strobel

Sweet Snob

I love desserts!  Wait.  Let me qualify that.  I love homemade desserts.  Huge difference, right?  Of course, you may be one who couldn’t care less where something sweet comes from.  Nope, a package from the store or made from scratch at home doesn’t matter.  All you care about is the fact that you’ve got something on-hand to satisfy that craving when it suddenly shows up on your radar.  Or maybe you’re like my brother.  He has never really had a “sweet tooth” (I’m sure you’ve heard that saying before).  For the most part, if something sweet is on the table, he can take it or leave it–even if it’s homemade.  I don’t get that.  I’m still praying for him and his affinity for sweets, but in all these years, I don’t think it has helped any.  Except for the fact that he does seem to enjoy his wife’s homemade desserts.  So maybe she has become that Superman’s kryptonite.  Hmmm…..Maybe those prayers have been working!

Myself, I tend to be a “Sweet Snob”.  If something isn’t homemade, I typically turn my nose up at it (unless I haven’t had something sweet in a long time and what’s available at that moment is the only option for me).  I have noticed, however, that the older I have gotten, the more snobbish I have become when it comes to sweets.  I’ll bet my wife is to blame!  She is a magician in the kitchen, hands down.  But in the last 14.5 years of being married to her, she has made some absolutely incredible edibles when it comes to desserts.  So now, at this point of my life, I usually don’t touch anything unless it’s homemade–no matter how long it’s been or what’s currently available.  If the only desserts to be had are store-bought cookies, pies, cakes or what-have-you, I will usually leave them alone and just wait until I can have the real thing.  Might not be for a while, but when I finally get it….oh, let’s just say that people put “Better-Than-Sex” in the name of their desserts for a reason.

I do need to mention here that my wife’s magic in the kitchen with desserts has usually been what has led to the “Bethisms” that I told you about before.  That being said, she learned her craft from her Mom (who, for a couple of years, made me a homemade turtle cheesecake for my birthday that was beyond description).  So when I get a really good homemade dessert in front of me, my eyes dilate and everything goes into slow motion.  I’m like a connoisseur, swishing cake or pie or cookie around in my mouth (really hard to do since it’s not wine)–trying to pick out each ingredient (how much of each was used, when they were manufactured, where each one came from,  whether it was raining or sunny the day they were harvested, which ones were organic), when the dessert was put together, what temperature it was baked at and for how long–the usual connoisseur-type habits that befall an individual who appreciates such delicacies.

So I have no problem admitting to someone that I am a Sweet Snob.  It is with pride in my craft that I bow to such a name as that.  My brother can relate.  He’s a Coffee Snob.  Maybe we’ll talk about that sometime soon….

The Cat Who Didn’t Finish

I love mysteries.  I’ve enjoyed a series called “Two-Minute Mysteries” since I was in elementary school (and as it turns out, so has my wife).  And I’ve also been a Sherlock Holmes follower for years (something I may have already mentioned before).  My wife enjoys those stories, too.  So much so that I have “Love Watson” engraved inside my wedding ring and she has “Love Sherlock” engraved inside hers.

She eventually got me going on a mystery series that she had been collecting since before we were married.  The title of every book the author wrote began with, “The Cat Who…” and involved a man who more or less inherits an extremely smart Siamese cat whose cat senses help him solve various mysteries.  Now, I need to make it known that I don’t really care for cats.  (In fact, as a side story, my grandparents’ neighbors had pesky cats that would come through the tree line and go after my Grandpa’s pheasants.  Us grandkids would come running to let him know that the cats were coming through the tree line again.  He’d grab a red plastic whiffle-ball bat from the garage, us kids trailing like a pack of hungry hyenas as he walked out to the tree line and hit the cats on the head with the whiffle-ball bat.  It didn’t hurt them any, but it sure was funny to see there feet scurry on the ground, yet going nowhere–just like a cartoon–and then they’d tear off into the yard from whence they came.  I know; if you like cats, your opinion of me just plummeted.  I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m not.  Oops, it happened again).  So at any rate, initially, my interest in this series was scant at best.  But the more I read, the more I liked what was happening and found that it was actually a very good series to follow.

Here’s the thing:  the author has been writing these mysteries since the 70’s.  She was belting them out hot and heavy through the late 70’s, the 80’s and well into the 90’s.  Then it’s evident that the stories start tapering off.  Obviously she’s getting older.  More and more time passes between books.  It’s now well into the 2000’s.  I’m getting concerned.  How old is this woman?  Is she going to live long enough to write one more story?  What is she going to resolve?  What is she going to leave hanging?  The suspense is growing by each book I eventually see.  It finally gets to the point where it’s obvious that the book I’m waiting for is going to be the last one.  The author is in her 90’s now and not doing well.  The last book is finally published and, like Smeagol, I start referring to myself in the plural and mumbling something about “my Precious”.

So I begin reading.  A very enjoyable time!  I’m savoring every page, knowing this is the last time I will ever be able to do this with this series.  But as I am working my way towards the end, I’m starting to get nervous.  I’m going to be running out of pages soon, and nothing seems to be resolving itself.  Nothing.  What the….?  No way!!  By the end of the book, there are more questions than answers:  instead of getting the woman the main character has been interested in for so long, she moves away; somebody burns down the huge and gorgeous barn-house that the main character lives in (and no one knows who did it); and then there’s whatever else was left hanging in the air, unresolved and unaccounted for.  I felt like Gollum when he lost his ring.  “No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!  My Precioussssssss!

Shortly after I read the book, she died.  I was devastated.  No one can fix this.  This stinks.  I was so disappointed that I eventually got rid of the whole series we had collected.  “Why would you do that??“, you ask?  Sure, I could start over with the series and read them all over again some time down the road (that’s why you collect a series, right?).  But why would I want to do that when I know everything ultimately ends the way that it does?  Yup…I think you get it.

Sigh.  Oh well.  There are worse things to have happen to you. Continue reading The Cat Who Didn’t Finish

The Jamboree Campfire Skit

Do you remember me mentioning the  Boy Scouts when I shared some camping stories?  Lots of fond memories about the Boy Scouts.  One of the best involves a “Jamboree Campfire” that was held during a fairly important scout outing.

Just to be clear, we’re not talking your average campfire here.  During these big campfire outings, the scout leaders would build a big five-foot-tall tower of firewood called a “fire tower”.  It was built with the largest logs on the bottom, each layer criss-crossed to the other and of a slightly smaller size, with the top layer being the smallest pieces of firewood.  It was lit at the top at the beginning of the campfire and, with very little else needed but some babysitting, it would gradually burn itself down to the bottom layer of large logs with hardly a thing needing to be done to it.  It was very impressive.

The scout leaders would start the evening with the lighting of the fire and then a variety of things would happen, from various skits thrown together to some unknown talent hiding among the scouts (long before “America’s Got Talent” was even thought of) to some form of a campfire song or two.  Every one of these fires had an “MC”–someone who helped gel everything together by talking inbetween events and introducing the next “act”.

Well, one night during one of these jamboree campfires, the MC was mc-ing and doing his thing to introduce the next skit.  The firepit area was decently large to contain all of us scouts, but it was surrounded by woods.  We all suddenly heard a big commotion in the woods off to our left.  We couldn’t see anything because it was already dark, but we could hear what sounded like someone being chased by someone else and a whole lot of yelling going on.  The thing was, it sounded like they were coming right toward us!  They ran right in front of us through the campfire area, the guy being chased hollering out things like, “No!  Help!  Don’t touch me!  I’m sorry!  I didn’t mean it!  Help!  Somebody help!”, while the guy doing the chasing was yelling out, “I’m gonna get you for that!  I can’t believe you did that to me!  Wait till I get my hands on you!”  And they disappeared into the woods on our right.

We all looked at each other in amazement, our mouths hanging open with what we had just seen.  Even the MC looked surprised and asked some of the leaders if they knew what was going on.  Well, they had the next skit and the MC got up to introduce the next one.  Wouldn’t you know it, these same two guys could be heard in the woods off to our right again, coming our way!  They went tearing through the campfire area again, yelling things at each other, neither one gaining any ground on the other as they disappeared again into the woods on our left.  By now,  the MC was looking a little peeved and sent one or two of the other leaders off to put a stop to whatever was happening with those two scouts.

After the next skit was over and before the MC could even begin, the same two scouts could be heard yelling and running right towards us again from the left!  But as they came into the campfire clearing, the guy being chased stumbled and took a fall, right in front of the fire.  The guy that was chasing him slowly walked up on the guy on the ground.  As we all watched this drama unfold in front of us, every one of us was on the edge of our seats to see what would happen next!  I looked at the “chasee” on the ground and could see the look of horror on his face as the “chaser” slowly bore down on him with obvious evil intent, muttering, “Now you’re mine!  Finally, the time has come!”.  As the chaser got closer to the chasee,  I heard the chasee say, “No! No, don’t do it!”, as he raised his arm in a helpless effort to fend off the chaser standing over him.  At the same time that he said that, I saw the chaser raise his hand up in the air!  Did he have something in it?  No!  But what was he going to do to him?

As quickly as the chaser had his hand in the air, he brought it down hard across the chasee’s shoulder and hollered out, “TAG!!  YOU’RE IT!”.  The guy on the ground leaped up into the air in a fit of rage and took off after the other guy who had already begun running away in stark terror.  The air was filled with, “I’m gonna knock your block off!”, “No!  No! Don’t do it!”, “Wait’ll I get my hands on you!”, “Somebody help me!  He’s mad!  I don’t wanna die!”, as they disappeared into the night.

Never did find out what was going on….