Over the Hump 05/15/2019

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of hearing an older lady by the name of Gert Behenna give a talk entitled "God is not Dead" in which she shared her life story of great wealth, acute alcoholism, two failed marriages, two kids, one suicide attempt (forty seconal's on an empty stomach).

A psychiatrist suggested that she meet a couple who had had similar lives and had changed. She made sure she was drunk when she met them, but she remembered one thing they said to her. "Gert, it seems you have a lot to carry, why don't you let God help you carry it." Later at home she recalled those words, fell to her knees and said, "God if you are there, I could sure use some help."

That began a process of change in her life. Next, she was introduced to Rev. Sam Shoemaker, an Episcopal Minister, who just so happened to be the one who helped Bill Wilson and Dr. Smith write the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. So between her new found faith and her involvement in A.A. She wrote a book "The Late Liz", cut the record of her story, and traveled all over the country telling that story.

A couple examples of her humility, she said she used to complain when she used a dirty restroom somewhere and even complained to God. One day in a restroom that was not to clean she complained once to often. She heard God say, Gert, I use that bathroom too, perhaps you should clean it for the next person. (She did from then on). Another quip, "sin is like kleenex, as one puts up another follows right behind it".

I had the honor of bringing her to the town I was serving in, to share her story. She arrived late to the motel, and I was nervous for we had a crowd that would be waiting. She said, please go get me a bottle of water and a pack of cigarettes (she still did smoke) and handed me a bill to pay for the items. I told her everything was on us, but in her style, she explained. She would pay for her own defects. 

Later in the hall she touched the lives of many with her story, and I was one of them.

Over the Hump 05/08/2019

Coincidences are Gods' way of being 'anonymous'

For a time some years ago, I worked part-time for a Psychologist in Dallas in a large building with 8 floors. There was a room on one floor that served as the copy room, supply room and also the coffee room. 

From time to time, I would run into a lady from down the hall. We had what you would call a nodding relationship. As time went by, we would speak and one day we began to share a bit about where we had come from. I was raised in Colorado and so was she. We seemed to be about the same age (without my asking). We talked about high school and I finally asked here about her spiritual background. Surprise, it was the same as mine. She then mentioned she had attended a Church camp in the past which just happened to be the same one that I attended. She mentioned that she had met a boy that she liked very much who had a strange nickname, "plumber." "Thats' me." I exclaimed.

Now, for the rest of the story. That very day her oldest son was going to prison for attempted murder. That prison happened to be one that some of my friends were taking part in a ministry called KAIROS. I was able to contact my friends who were ready to welcome him to the prison when he arrived and he later took part in one of their weekends. My newly found old friend, later even adopted a another "man in white" and lives near some of the prisons here in Texas. Chance meeting? I think not!

Over the Hump 05/01/2019

We read many words today that describe and categorize people. Some are positive, but many are negative and over used. "Retards", "deplorables" "nerds" and "white trash" and some words for other ethnic persons which cannot be printed here. 

I sometimes wonder what ever happened to "born in the image of God" in our culture today?

Courtesy of a teacher's story in one of the "Chicken Soup series," sheds some light on one of those words. She writes on her first day as a teacher it was going so well and teaching would be a breeze. That is until the 7th period. As she walked to the room, she heard furniture crashing and found one boy pinning down another on the floor saying, "I don't give a _ _ _ _ about your sister". She was trying to quiet them down when another teacher stuck his head in and shouted at her students to sit down, shut up, and do what the teacher says. 

She tried to teach the lesson, and when the students were leaving she stopped the kid who had started the fight. "Lady, don't waste your time," he said, "We're the 'retards'. Then he left the room. Her day was ruined and she reconsidered the teaching bit. 

In talking to the other teacher she got a history on the class. There were 14 int he class and the other teacher said don't bother with them for they will never graduate anyway. They live in shacks, they are migratory labor, they come to school when they feel like it, just keep them busy and quiet, and if they cause any trouble, send them to me. 

She could not get the word "retard" out of her mind. Next day she returned to the class room and wrote ECINAJ on the board. "That's my first name, can anyone tell me what it is?"

"Weird," they said. She went to the board again and wrote JANICE, that was her name, and she then told the class she was dyslexic and in school she could not write her name correctly. She was labeled "retarded" and could still hear the voices and feel the shame. One of the kids asked why she became a teacher. She told the kids she hated labels, was not stupid, and loved learning. She went on to say that this class was no longer about "retards". "If you want to remain, 'retard,' then change classes, but we will never hear the word in this class, for there not any retards in this class room". Janice was serious and worked with the kids and worked them hard.

The months flew by. The kids learned to read. They became concerned about how they talked and so began grammar as well.

Summer was coming and Janice was planning a marriage and a move, and the students were agitated about her leaving, and she wondered if they were angry at her leaving. 

On the last day of school, the stern Principal greeted Janice and asked her to follow him, that there was a problem with her room. "What now," she wondered. It was amazing. There were sprays of flowers in each corner, flowers on each student desk, filing cabinets, and a huge spray on her desk. With them being poor, how had they pulled it off?

The boy who had started the fight, worked part-time in a flower shop. He had asked the florist for the "tired" flowers in the shop. Then he called the Funeral homes, explained his class needed flowers, and they agreed to give him flowers saved after each funeral. The real tribute came later when all 14 graduated and 6 earned scholarships. 

I was deeply touched by this story for I too, had some learning difficulties as a child. We also had a class in Jr. High called the Opportunity Class. It was a class of 'retards' and I was always curious as I peeked into their class for time to time. I hope they were treated well but that was a long time ago and times have changed.

Humans, if they hear labels about themselves especially negative ones come to believe them. I am constantly remind myself to use positive ones. 


Over the Hump 04/24/2019

If you visit Scarborough Fair this year, the first booth on your left as you enter the gate is the St. Thomas Brass Rubbing booth. 

The church as begun a brass rubbing program in Ennis, we are letting people do some rubbing of their own and selling some already done.

We have learned a lot of Medieval history and some amusing things as well. In those days much family bathing was done in a huge tub. The men went first, followed by the women

and lastly the children. By that time the water was very dirty and thus came the saying, "don't thrown the baby out with the the bath water." Houses had thatched roofs thick with straw piled high with no wood underneath and it was a place where the cats and dogs, and other small animals could get warm so they lived in or on the roof. When it rained it became slippery and the animals would fall. Thus the saying. "its raining cats and dogs."

Are You Going to Scarborough Fair?

Over the Hump 04/17/2019

I had a hero some years ago who ran a shelter for the homeless. As I got to know his place, I wished I could stay in one, to see what it was like. 

An opportunity presented itself when my denomination had a convention in Texarkana some years ago. I dressed down, wore old clothes and checked into the shelter there. Later, as I was having dinner, a clergy friend of mine walked in with a woman from his church who wanted to share her testimony with those of us gathered there.

I signaled my friend not to blow my cover. The lady finished her talk, prayed for us and left. I spent the night on the floor and being the new person there I was assigned to mop the floor before leaving in the morning.

With that completed, I left, got my ride back to my motel to change into my clerical garb for the convention (felt a bit like superman), got the the convention, got in the coffee line and just in front of me was the lady who had spoken to us the night before. 

The look on her face when she saw me was priceless, and so was my visit to a homeless shelter. It was a great experience, and one I will never forget. I learned more that night on the floor with others and sharing with them, than taking a course in homelessness.

Over the Hump 04/10/2019


Limon Colo, a town of 1800, was my first job as a pastor. I was barely 30 and green. I attended a party one evening, and I met the director of public welfare of Lincoln County and before the evening was over, he had hired me to assist at the welfare office.

As it turned out he drank too much and was not at the office a lot and I ended up sometimes being the director. 

In the course of time, I found out that sixty-two percent of the adults in the county had not graduated from high school. A young man that I met in the Jaycees and I put an ad in the paper that if anyone wanted to get their GED, to come to the Church of the Resurrection on a Wednesday evening for a few weeks. 

Eighteen showed up the first time and in three weeks we outgrew the church and ended up at the high school. Later we had the GED people come to Limon to administer the test and about two-thirds passed.

I left some time later for another town but that young man who worked for the telephone company kept that class going and expending for several years before he was transferred. It started small but it did start and the results speak for themselves. 

The principle of the high school said he wished that he students were as anxious to learn as ours were. 

The Easter Season or Spring might be time to START SMALL, BUT START

Over the Hump 04/03/2019

They say that aging is not for sissies, and sometimes there are perks. The perks can come from some interesting places or circumstances. 

I always wanted to run the Boston Marathon and a friend of mine worked hard to qualify but would always come up short. In my 54th year I ran a Marathon in the time of 3:32 which was two minutes and thirty-two seconds to much. I had some interesting thoughts as to how to get around those minutes-discount the rest stops, subtract the time from when the gun went off to when I got to the starting line. There were some others that were a bit shifty. Finally, I called Boston to see what I could do.

The person on the end of the line was pleasant and and asked how old I would be the day of the race which is in April. I replied that I would be 55. She informed me the qualifying time at 55 was 3:35 thus making me eligible to run the Marathon. You can imagine how I felt. 

I discovered there are some perks to aging and it was a great day in my life and the added blessing my daughter ran the last 6 miles with me that day as well. The year was 1993.

Over the Hump March 27, 2019

As I look back over the years, moments stick out that were life changers and some of them, for me, were odd to say the least, but changers nonetheless.

For example, I used the following story in an Easter sermon back in the 70’s. It is a simple story but the results of that talk were life changing. I found it in a book entitled "ASK ME TO DANCE" by Bruce Larson. 

He found it in a bulliten from a church in Texas.

"Ever feel like a frog? Frogs feel slow, ugly, puffy, drooped, pooped. I know, one told me. The frog feeling comes when you want to be bright but feel dumb, when you want to share but are selfish, when you want to be thankful but feel resentment, when you want to be great but are small, when you want to care but are indifferent.

Yes, at one time or another each of us has found himself or herself on a lily pad, floating down the great river of life. Frightened and disgusted, we are too froggish to budge. One upon a time there was a frog. But was he really a frog? He was a prince who looked and felt like a frog. A wicked witch had cast a spell on him. Only a kiss by beautiful maiden could save him. 

But since when do cute chicks kiss frogs. So, there he sat, unkissed prince in frog form. But miraclesd happen. One day a beautiful maiden grabbed him and gave him a big smack. Crash! Boom! Zap! There he was, a handsome prince. And you know the rest. They lived happily ever after.

So what is the task of the Church?

To kiss frogs. of course.

For better or wose, I am know in possession of many frogs of various sizes and shapes. But you know what?

I have been kissed and it was a life changer.




Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump, March 13, 2019

First impressions are much of the time very important, and sometimes they predict how a relationship will develop or not.

I found myself at the Alabama State Prison, as a guest, to observe a new program entitled KAIROS. When I arrived, someone asked if any of us were clergy. I raised my hand and they said we are one short, so you may be a guest but you are on the team. So with no experience I was at a table with 6 men in white for the next 3 days.

We began talking, when the evening was over they went back to their cells and we left to stay elsewhere. The next morning one of the men did not return. we talked about it and I was sent to his cell to see if he was okay.

I got to his cell and asked him about coming back. He said that he was not coming back for he had heard the night before one of the outside men use bad language in the conversation.

I was that ourside man and I had, indeed, used a four letter word. He said that a real man of God would not use that kind of language. I am still working on that same problem after all these years but it still is a struggle for me.

Over the Hump March 6, 2019

As you know, today is Ash Wednesday, and is acknowledged by Catholics, many Protestants, Eastern and Russina Orthodox and many others. 

Ashes are mentioned also in the Jewish tradition, and in all instances, they have to do with repentance (feeling sorry for things we have done). 

The ashes are also a reminder that life is short, and there are some things we may have to carry to the grave for they were never dealt with in life on this side of the grave. 

Thus Ash Wednesday and Lent are givien to us to deal, if we wish, with some of those things which we know are there but repress for we do not want to think about or deal with them because of the pain. 

Wouldn't it be great if repentance was a priority in our lives, our families, our churches, our neighborhoods and our world. It is worth pain.

Have a meaningful Lent from Over the Hump!

Over the Hump February 27, 2019

When I was very young, I received a book from my Godfather. It was the biography of Will Rogers who was the famous philosopher cowboy from the great state of Oklahoma, where my Godfather was a professor at one of the colleges. 

There is a quote from the book that should have made it into the book of Proverbs in the Good Book. Rogers said, "Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your pet parrot the the town gossip."

Talk is cheap and so easily misused as we say to much, embellish a story, let ourselves fall into the trap of talking about others. Remember the game "gossip." What is whispered into the first ear comes out very different in the last one.

Another place in the Good Book talks about how we talk. We can find it in the book of James, I don't necessarily like the book for it hits too close to home. So be careful what you say in front of your parrot.

Over the Hump February 20, 2019

Art Linkletter on his show years ago reminded us that children say the darnedest things and some are very touching. 

They are many times so simple that they touch the heart. Their hearts and minds are not cluttered with too many ideas and words.

The author Leo Buscaglia once told about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child; the winner was a four-year-old boy. His next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the gentleman's yard, climbed into his lap and just sat there. When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry" 

Yes, children say the darnedest things.

Over the Hump February 13, 2019

Some of you may have read writings by Kahlil Gibran over the years. In a chapter of sayings, I ran across one that caught my attention.

"Deliver me from him who does not tell the truth unless he stings, and from the man of good conduct and bad intentions; and from him who acquires self-esteem by finding fault in others."

Wisdom, it seems can come from many sources if we are open minded and teachable. No cupboard is more bare than a closed mind. For if the mind is closed, so usually is the heart.

Some have broken hearts and if the heart is closed there is no way to heal it and it can't love.

Happy Valentines' Day 


Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump February 6, 2019

The super bowl is over and President Trump gave his State of the Union speech, I wonder if there is a connection between the Patriots victory and the speech, about bringing the country back together. 

What does patriotism mean in this day and time? The definition is "love and devotion to ones country.”

When we look around us in this day and age and look at our leadership, who are the patriots? 

A patriot is able to see the big picture, looking for the best in the country and for the country, and not concerned about who gets the credit or who is doing it. 

I wonder too, if we might want to take another look at the words. "One Nation under God” and see if that makes any sense anymore. Namaste .


Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump January 30, 2019

A friend of mine writes a weekly, which I read faithfully and this week he wrote on encouragement and how in a race, where had worked very hard and was running it for his dad who could not make it to the race, he was overtaken at the last minute and fell in a heap when a family friend lifted him hugged him and said, I watched you run that race. I’ve never seen anyone with such a desire to win. You are a competitor. You are somebody, never ever forget that.

It reminded me of some years ago when I and a partner were training for a Marathon. THE WHITE ROCK, in hopes of qualifying for Boston. We ran the lake every morning for a month and near the end of the training, we were running and he screamed in pain for his achilles had snapped. Well, race day came, he met me at the start, we said a prayer and I was off. My friend was standing at every water stop and every 5 miles to encourage me and he was standing to welcome me across the finish line. I did that race in the best time of my life and I did not quite qualify for Boston but barely missed it. 

Much of my success that day was a result of my friend being there for me and cheering me on.


Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump January 23, 2019

This week we celebrated the life of Dr. King and today, Jan. 23, is another day important in the history of our great country. 

Dr. King, in a book of his quotes has this to say about morality, "America, I wonder whether your moral and spiritual progress has been commensurate with your scientific progress. It appears to me that your moral progress lags behind your scientific progress, your mentality out distances your morality, and your civilization out shines your culture." 

In 1968 there was a song written entitled "Abraham, Bobby, Martin and John". After the death of Martin and Bobby, in the same year, I think there were many of my generation who lost some of the shine and enthusiasm about life in America. 

Too many great leaders have had to die. It has deepened my need to lean on a power greater than myself and our country. If God is in control, that gives me some peace of mind in the autumn of my life.


Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump January 16, 2019

Bad News Sells.

Read the paper, watch TV or the net and you will find that Bad News Sells! (I wonder sometimes why I look at the obits so often).

The media seems to put a negative spin on the news. An example one February, the Washington Post ran an headline stating "U.S. Economy gains 400,000 Jobs" report spurs fears. Most people would just consider job growth good news. The Post warned that it could lead to increases interest rates. When growth slowed down a couple of months later, the New York Times ran a headline stating that the reversal was "Stirring Concern". 

When the dollar was weak, the Wall Street Journal warned that it would draw away from foreign investors and threaten our economy, later, when the dollar became strong, the New York Times cried that rapid growth prevents us from being able to "maintain economic stability in the foreign exchange market". 

The bottom line is this; you can put a negative spin on anything -- even good news, or you can find something good in any situation. If you look in an old but classic book, "In His Steps", a group decides, that for a year, each would think before doing anything to as the question... What Would Jesus Do? That is where WWJD came from.

In the book, the editor of the newspaper decides that doing WWJD he would no longer bring Bad News, only Good News. The paper readership sunk, and sunk fast, for you see "Bad News Sells" ... The book however, has a happy ending.


Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump January 9, 2019

No one, it seems, likes change. It is sometimes difficult, it causes anxiety, and it is fearful. But it can not be avoided.

I would like to be 40 again. Then, I remember, that I also got fired from a fine job when I was about that age. 

Life happens when you make other plans, sometimes. 

I know a guy who makes films some secular and some religious. One film he produced was "The Last Seven Words"

I thought he was talking about the play 7 keys to Balbate Inn, in which I played in High School, or the last 7 words of Jesus from the cross on Good Friday.

Nope, he said. The last 7 words, "We Have Never Done It That Way" We spent the evening watching a most interesting film,

Change is not easy for any of us, I cannot turn back the clock and change seems to come quicker as I get older. I do have the choice given to me by being born with free will, how I will handle change. Many of us will go through Kubler Ross's stages denial, bargaining, depression, anger and finally to acceptance. I am trying to skip some of those steps and just get on with it. 

So, we begin the year with the words "perseverance" and now "acceptance"



Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump January 2, 2019

Two years ago I walked into a health club in Dallas on thanksgving morning. It has about 60 cardio machines and I was surprised to see every one of them occupied. The club closed at noon. I got the message. Everyone was preparing to eat a lot. An hour or so on the treadmill can burn a lot of calories.

I know too, the health clubs await the new year for all of us who have decided, this time, my new years resolution will be to exercise and eat better. 

There is a word that we need to add to our new year decision (PERSEVERANCE)

There is a prevailing adage. "if I change my mind, my behavior will change." Another adage, change my behavior and my mind will change.

That is the bottom line of recovery centers around the country. Maybe that is what the motto "JUST DO IT" means. 

St. Paul who wrote widely years ago has some words for us who are planning the new year. It is the letter to the Romans,Chapter 5; vs 3-5.




Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump December 26, 2018

For the 2nd day of Christmas, a true story from Texas. 

This story happened in the life of the wife of a a minister, when she was very young, to her parents. 

A woman can't obtain a loan in Texas without her husband's signature. The husband must come in and sign. She told the bank 'if my husband could walk, he would not be in the hospital, he would be working and I would not have to borrow any money to pay the rent. The bank guy could not help her. That bleak December evening in 1971, as I drove away from the bank , I was angry. Don's illness, the money problems, sights and smells from the cotton gins, I wanted to be away from it all. 

Since November, when Don injured his back, fear had been my enemy. But I was resolved to be the victor in that battle. On that night, hopelessness became fears' ally, and I had no ammunition for the battle. Four days before Christmas, we had no presents for our little girl Renee, not enough money to pay the rent, buy food, and no Christmas tree. So in the hospital room with him we sat without speaking for there was nothing to say.

Abruptly, the door burst open and in came our Sunday school class singing Christmas carols, smiling faces were a welcome sight. Then one of the members asked if he could pray for Don.

I was amazed by the love of God which showed through these people. After the prayer someone gave a card to us as he opened it a check for $150.00, fell out--just the same amount of money that I had tried to borrow from the bank.

Tears came, but I was embarrassed. How can we ever repay you I asked. The reply was... this is a gift from God, simply handed to you by man. Someday another will be in need, and you can pass the gift of Gods' love to them.

Hope you and I took the opportunity or can take the opportunity to pass the gift along. 




Bless somebody today!