I Got the Hives

A few evenings ago, the girl from 313 and I clinked glasses and wished each other a merry Christmas. I know that’s early, but when you get old you forget things. Somehow, Christmas came to mind and we got at our gift exchange through Heifer International. We gave to hives of honeybees.

We exchange such gifts on our friendship anniversary (see Epilogue at www.lloydsstorytree.com), on birthdays, and at Christmas. Norma (the girl from 313) started the practice for her 70th birthday. She ordered a cow, leaning on her four kids for funding.  Together, we have given a goat, chickens, bunnies, a now bee hives.

That’s pure gospel, for serving the needs of others is how we love God, the only way. Religion in man-made; love is God-made. God so loved the world he gave; and so must we. Somewhere out there, a family will be tending our bees.

Thinking about that gives me the hives.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

A Tangled Tale

Looking back on my years, I find it curious how seemingly casual circumstances altered the course of my life. Example: the book Nigerian missionary Lois Dibble Wheeler wrote about in the last Hole News. It landed me a new job that launched my modest writing career.

Camping Guideposts played a small part of the beginnings of the worldwide Christian youth camping movement. It was translated into several languages, sharing what I perceived to be the basics of youth camping.

We produced as an in-house project in 1962. My station wagon toted the pages to a Chicago bindery and back to the office, 1000 copies. One of them rests on my memory shelf. It has lived nearly 50 years, surviving revisions, name changes, and four publishers. It is still available at Amazon books.

The book illustrates what I call the mosaic of providence. You simply do whatever comes to hand. Each tile is vital to the Artist’s big picture. You lean on Philippians 2:13: It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

You need no organize to serve Jesus. I love my church and our new pastor. I give to our mission outreach afar and near. Some things we must do together, each person lending their gifts. I served many years as a pastor, but church life was only a small part of my commitment to serving Jesus.  I was a husband, father, neighbor, shopper, citizen, fisherman. What people observed in me outside my professional life is what counted. It took me too long to figure that out.

In my early years I recognized writing skills. I loved words. When I became a pastor, I sent stuff to our denominational journal, never imagining those writings would one day become the lynchpin that would lead to Camping Guideposts, a life-changing book.

It’s a tangled tale. I’ll tell more next time.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

The Day of Small Beginnings

Zechariah warned the people to not despise the day of small beginnings. His warning came to mind recently when this email from Lois Dibble Wheeler in Nigeria reached me:

How wonderful that my brother, John Dibble, was able to trace you!! I think he gave you a rundown on the history of the Lord’s work here in Nigeria. Here are details:

In the 1960s, some single lady missionaries started camping with the young girls.  After a few years, the men began asking about camps for the young fellows. That is when my dad got hold of your book. He translated it, adapting parts to accommodate the culture here.

Now a new edition is called for I am purchasing a book from Amazon so l can compare it with (Dad’s translation) to study the changes.

Camp work here has spread immensely over the years. There are about 10 boys’ camps and 10 girls’ camp held around the country each year.  The desire of the believers to give the Spirit opportunity to work in the lives of these kids while they are young is fantastic.

Camps are held in different areas across the country. The saints in the area feed and transport the kids to the venue. It is wonderful to see this enthusiasm and the Lord blessing this work. Kids who make professions o faith are sent home to their local assemblies with a letter ask them to disciple the camper.

Each summer in Ika a Camp Counselling seminar is held. Anyone seeking to work in camp must attend. Your book is guideline for the week.  For some, it is first-time instruction; for others, a refresher course.

Recently l was approached with the need for your book in English, as leaders see the faults in prosperity teachings and want to reach kids through camps.  Many come from neighboring tribes or big cities where they don’t speak lgala, our native language. English is the common language. I wish to compare books and see if parts need further adjustments for this culture. We appreciate your permission to translate and print it. We can print so much cheaper, making it affordable for our people.

Lord bless you for your service.  Lois Dibble Wheeler

The first edition of that camping book rests on my memory shelf. Few books of consequence had a smaller beginning. It changed my life, and it has touched millions of kids in many lands.

I’ve told the story before, but it bears repeating. Watch for the next Hole News.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

Could I Have this Dance For the Rest of My Life?

Whoa!  The first-dance photo broke my all-time hit record at 176 and counting. I should get the badge of courage. I haven’t wandered that far from Matilda my walker for months. Norma had a good grip. Bless the girl from 313.

My Baptist forbearers forbade dancing, along with drinking, smoking, playing cards, and movies. Worldly practices. Worldly was anything the forbearers didn’t like. Some chewed, but never spit in public.

My carnal mind harbored doubts even as a kid. The church forbade dancing but sponsored roller skating parties at the same venue to the same music with guys hugging partners as tightly as possible. I liked the progressive skate. Skaters formed one big circled. At the signal, the guys moved to the next girl, as worldly as possible.

TV shot down the movie ban though theaters remained suspect. Who knows what went on there in the dark? Health factors lent credence to the smoking ban, but alcohol remains evil, even though Jesus made the stuff. It sure wasn’t Welches.

I like Paul’s counsel to Timothy: a little wine for the stomach’s sake. A stomach like mine needs two glasses. It mellows Jeopardy and TV news and prepares the system for supper each evening at 313.

Cheers, Hole News and Facebook friends.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Memories!

Lester Park Methodist is for sale, a victim of changing times. Its 129-year ministry touched countless people, including me. From age nine through fifteen, Lester Park was my church.

The faded, stained, packsack in my closet was a gift from father in 1935, the year I joined Scout Troop 18 at Lester Park. The tattered Boy Scout Handbook on my memory shelf came from that era. That book shaped my life. Sorry: the Bible didn’t come close, though Baptist orthodoxy reigned in my early childhood, with salvation the key issue.

For some young sinners like me, salvation didn’t take. During painfully long sermons, my carnal mind would stray. A stray wasp circling a bald head three rows up occasioned fervent prayer. I daydreamed about fields, hills, woods and streams, but I could only dream. Baptist men were far too busy serving God to spend time with kids in the woods.

I began to devour the Scout handbook at age 10, longing for age 12 when I could join Troop 18. There I met a new kind of churchmen. They didn’t pray much, but they led us on hikes and taught us knots and played Capture the Flag with us. My most hallowed Scout memory is the log cabin on Lavis Road not far from home. Chinking had departed in places. I cringed on my bunk as two ancient birches leaning one on the other groaned in the dark. Sunday morning we circled the barrel stove and read the Sunday school lesson leaflet then scattered to explore, cut firewood, or follow the trail to the spring. There is so much more.

The men who taught me the wilderness way did not talk much about Jesus, but they modeled Jesus, preparing me to one day blend Jesus with the wilderness on trails and waterways from Maine to Alaska, serving men, boys, and families. You can read about some of those adventures at www.lloydsstorytree.com.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

 

 

Despair

 

Susan Kline, my favorite devotional writer, speaks to all of us in today’s Fresh Start. A dear Alaska friend is walking through the valley of despair. Hang in there, Angie. Though we’re far apart, but I have your back in prayer. Love you.

Susan wrote (slightly adjusted for space): I believe every human being on the face of this earth experiences despair or depression at some point in his/her life. Even Jesus. God created us with multi-faceted emotions that we are going to experience when triggered. He permits us to walk through trials and difficulties that often reap despair. Sometimes our body chemistry can go sort of haywire, bringing about feelings of depression without external triggers.

So, what should our response be when we see a friend walking through a dark time of despair? While there is no one perfect response, Charles Spurgeon (prolific author and preacher in the late 1800’s), who went through his own dark times of despair, offers helpful words:

“I know that wise brethren say, ‘You should not give way to feelings of depression.’ … If those who blame quite so furiously could once know what depression is, they would think it cruel to scatter blame where comfort is needed. There are experiences of the children of God which are full of spiritual darkness; and I am almost persuaded that those of God’s servants who have been most highly favored have, nevertheless, suffered more times of darkness than others. No sin is necessarily connected with sorrow of heart, for Jesus Christ our Lord once said, ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.’ There was no sin in Him, and consequently none in His deep depression. I would, therefore, try to cheer any brother who is sad, for his sadness is not necessarily blameworthy.”

Depression hurts. It is real emotional pain. When someone we know is in pain, we offer comfort, even where sin is a component. There are things we definitely don’t do. We don’t place blame or play the Holy Spirit; we don’t try to cover over the emotion; we don’t avoid. We speak encouraging words, give a hug, hold a hand, listen, and pray; we make ourselves available.

It can be messy, hard, and awkward, but it is oh-so-necessary. And it is commanded by our Heavenly Father: Comfort, comfort my people, says your God (Isaiah 40:1 NIV).

Thanks, Susan. You bless me.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

 

 

God Bless America

Whatever is wrong with dear Uncle Sam, he sure is working for me. I’ve been cashing in on my Social Security investment for 36 years and haven’t paid any income tax for 25 years. These days, HUD, section 8 pays over half my rent. It pays to be old and poor.

The State, County, and City treat me kindly. I can no longer board a regular city bus so for peanuts STRIDE hauls me and my walker wherever I want go. Twice a month, Arrowhead Transit loads my walker Matilda and takes me and the girls on two-hour shopping sprees. A buck each way, but I ride free because I’m over 90.

Senior Friend sends help regularly. A health care person comes Wednesdays to assist with a shower, tend the Portapotty on my belly, clean the bathroom, and run errands. Housekeeping comes every other Thursday to do laundry, make my bed (I hate fitted sheets), clean the kitchen, dust and vacuum. My cost:  $18.95 a month. Without this help, I couldn’t stay at my beloved Woodland Garden.

I get to vote, from home if I wish. If I gripe about the government, no one takes me away. My blog says anything I care to write, I can pick my church, and my five kids attended school for free. City plows clear the winter street and fireworks light the sky every Fourth of July.

I paid taxes many years. Now I am retired. I own no property or investments. I live comfortably on a modest preacher’s pension and Social Security with a bit left over to share. And just down the hall lives the girl from 313.

Let’s hear it for good old Uncle Sam and his great, great land. If you don’t like it here, I’ll help buy your ticket out.

Old Grandpa Lloyd.

 

The Mosaic of Providence

I write often about the mosaic of providence—the Artist composing a big picture with many small tiles. The tiles can’t see the big picture, but they are essential parts of the whole.

That came to mind when friend Larion Zlatin emailed me. We never met face to face and our connection was brief, but I became one of the tiles as the Larion picture formed.

It began with a phone call that interrupted Wednesday night prayer meeting at North Shore Church in Duluth. Renee –another tile–asked urgent prayer for her missionary pen pal in a New York prison. He desperately needed a sponsor so he could gain parole and get on with his life.

We prayed as a church, but I believe in putting feet to prayer. As Elsie and I drove home, we ran through the list of people we knew from New York State. Bruce Baker came to mind. I had no idea where he lived or where Larion’s prison was. I phoned Bruce the next morning and learned the prison was just across the Hudson River from Bruce’s home, and the prison chaplain was a friend. Bruce occasionally joined him on prison visits.

Bruce tackled Larion’s parole needs. He found him a job in a camp that included a place to live, thus fulfilling Larion’s one-year New York residency requirement.

The Slavic Gospel Association also played a major role in Larion’s life. It connected Renee with him as pen pa. Later, SGA provided housing and guidance for the USSR exile when he moved to the Midwest.

There is much, much more to the story, but here is Paul’s take on the tile business: God is at work in you to will and to do of his good purpose.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

The Mailbox Caper

This post wraps up the Epilogue series. The girl from 313 blesses me every day; we laugh often. I enjoy supper at her place each evening with leftovers for next day’s lunch. I’m on my own for breakfast. I’ll compile the parts into one piece to hang on the Story Tree. Look for Epilogue at www.lloydsstorytree.com.

The Mailbox Caper

The morphine left its mark. Emotional responses grew less stable; I grew increasingly reflective. I understood aging—our parts wear out. But I had given little thought to relationships. Friends were friends. Falling in love was for kids. How wrong I was!

I had been away from home nearly two months. Norma and I resumed evening chats in the library. I realized how much I had missed her. I created opportunities to be with her. One morning we joined the mail-wait group in the lobby. Spirits were running high. The mail finally came and residents clustered around the bank of boxes on the east well. Norma was just ahead of me. She collected her mail, and befitting the morning’s mood, she planted a kiss then sought the elevator. Something walloped me. I elbowed to the mailboxes, arthritic fingers struggling with the small key. The lock finally yielded and I pushed my way to the elevator gripped by a compelling desire to hold Norma and tell her I loved her. After an interminable wait, the elevator returned and I punched floor three.

The elevator opens onto the library. I looked around. No Norma. I didn’t dare knock on her door. I grabbed a book and sat two hours pretending to read, hoping Norma would appear to check returned books. I returned to my apartment but lunch held no interest.  I went back to the library and puttered. Time dragged. I headed home. Supper was out of the question. To vent my feelings, I fired up the computer and began a mushy love letter, intending to delete it. “Dearest Norma, please don’t laugh, but I’ve fallen in love with you… ” Clichés poured out.

The hour grew late. Writing brought some relief. I reread my work one last time and reached for delete. But with foolhardy abandon I hit print padded down to 313, sliding my letter under Norma’s door. I returned to my apartment in near panic. What kind of fool was I?  Surely she would laugh! It was a long night.

Life stirred in Woodland Garden. I was making morning coffee when I heard a knock on my door.  Norma stood there, love letter in hand. And she wasn’t laughing.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

 

Morphine Delusion

 

My lost week was not unpleasant, even the prospect of dying, but as delusion faded, I became aware how desperately weak I was. I had not left the bed for a solid week. Kevin had watched over me faithfully throughout the ordeal. When evidence mounted that the infection was winning and hospice care was initiated, he spread the word to friends and loved ones.  But he grew increasingly unsatisfied with information the lead doctor was supplying.

He negotiated another doctor who scanned my chart and affirmed the diagnosis—my system was failing; death was certain. With nothing to lose, he unplugged me, stopping all treatment. A remarkable recovery began immediately. Do with that what you will.

Since St. Mary’s does not offer rehab, recovery would end insurance coverage. Weak as I was, I was given three days to relocate. By then I was fully aware and med-free. I managed days but nights were torture. I watched every hour tick off; no sleep-aid worked.

On the third day a new nurse came on duty. Apparently thinking pain caused my sleeplessness; she came with a big syringe and squirted evil-tasting fluid in my mouth. “What is it?” I asked. “Morphine.” “Will I sleep?” “Oh, you will sleep!” Instead of sleep, unimaginable terror gripped me. A vortex was sucking me down, down. Old men in dark suits were piling rough- cast concrete furniture on a pile. A taunting voice called, “There are theological issues here, and you are responsible, but you can do nothing about it.”

I recall shouting, “I don’t care the consequence; I will do what’s right!” In that instant delusion dissolved and I lay in a hospital bed, my mind clear. I knew the day and time. On Fourth of July weekend, a medical van hauled me to Chris Jensen facing six tough weeks of rehab. Woodland Garden friends welcomed me home just in time for my 90th birthday party.

Old Grandpa Lloyd