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Archive for the month “August, 2014”

The Caller ID reads “Hell”!

I heard a story once about a frog.  This frog was placed in a large pan of warm water and he was happy and comfortable.  The water was placed on a burner and it was turned to low.  Very gradually the temperature increased but because it was such a gradual increase the frog didn’t notice.  At the end the frog died from the heat of the boiling water.

The phone rings right in the middle of dinner, a favorite show, or maybe as you are just relaxing.   I used to answer all of the calls.  You never knew when somebody important was calling.  Maybe it was an urgent call or an emergency, you never knew.  That was before the days of answering machines and caller ID.  One of the greatest inventions ever in my opinion is the Caller ID! It lets you know who is calling!  In my case the ID might say Michigan Caller, or Florida Call.  These calls are obviously telemarketers because I don’t know anyone in Florida and “Michigan Call” is too vague.  We have our phone set up where if it is friends or family music plays after the phone rings twice.  Sometimes someone calls that we want to talk to that the caller isn’t in that circle.  A quick look at the ID and we can quickly pick up.  Otherwise if one of those outside callers calls they can leave a message.  Almost all of the time they hang up.  If they can’t leave a message more often than not they were trying to sell me something and knew it couldn’t be accomplished on the answering machine.

There are times where I have answered calls that seemed suspicious.  At those times I answered but my guard was up.  If there is a delay after the original hello that is a sign for me to hang up.  I know that telemarketers use a phone calling machine.  Once someone answers, it takes a few seconds for the caller to realize it and connect to that victim.  The answering machine system is not perfect.  I’m reminded of an old friend receiving my call from a cell phone.  Obviously it came up on his ID as “Cell phone call” and he answered but he was on the defensive.  After some cold comments he realized it was me and had to apologize.  The same thing has happened to calls I have picked up.  I’m reminded of someone who called from the other side of the state whose husband was featured in one of my stories.  She asked if I had a few minutes and I said “no, I’m on my lunch hour.”  She wondered if she could call back at a better time and I asked what it was about?  When she told me I was glad to make the time right then after apologizing for my rudeness.

'It's like caller ID. You get to see who's calling before you pick up.'

There is a commercial on the radio that goes like this.  The phone rings and the lady picks it up.  “I hear you are going on vacation”, the voice begins, “we are going to come over and rob your house.”  With this warning the lady yells to her husband about buying security protection before they leave.  The commercial states “Wouldn’t it be nice if life gave you warnings?”  Of course it would!  If we knew what danger we were in or were about to get into we could avoid it at all costs!  Of course I can’t remember who sponsors the commercial but I do remember them saying that “unfortunately life doesn’t usually give us warnings.”

Likewise the Devil doesn’t give us a warning of what he is trying to do.  Jesus stated that “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.”  John 10:10. In contrast as the verse continues Jesus stated that “I came so that you may have life and have it more abundantly.”  So in essence it is a choice between life and death.  It would be an easy choice if our guard is always up!  Unfortunately many of us find ourselves in the boiling pot not realizing that we are slowly dying.

The Devil's Ride

The Devil’s Ride

The Ride
By Lewis Hamilton c1997 from the book “The Gardener & My Garden” c1997

The man there at the carnival
gave us all a pass
He said, Ride on my little ride
I won’t make it go too fast

The crowd pushed hard, and I went too
but I wanted to turn back
That ride looked old and rusty
thee were pieces off the track

Oh, Mr. Carnival man, the others yelled,
Turn that lever to the hilt,
for this ride will get boring
if it isn’t at full tilt

So we got on that crazy ride
as crowded as could be
There were too many getting on
as even I could see

Mr. Carnival man, I yelled to him
This ride can hold no more!
But he just sneered and turned away
as he locked my little door

Please let me off this crazy ride!
It’s too crowded here for me
This ride is a death trap,
an awful place to be!

He looked my way with hateful eyes
With a mean and raspy voice
he said, You better just shut up,
You know you made the choice

I cried out as I shook that cage,
Somebody save the day!
This rides not safe and I want out,
unlock this door I pray!

Out of that crown one man came
He called out clear and loud,
Whoever wants out of this trap
I’ll save you all right now

I raised my hand, he pried that door
and I was safely free
Some others got out while they could
but most were mad at me

You’re holding up our death ride
They glared a look of hate
Quit delaying our excitement
Don’t make us have to wait

I saw the lonely, desperate looks
in their glaring, hate-filled eyes
They were looking for excitement
on that old death trap ride

The carnival man then grabbed the switch,
the ride was in full gear
The people clung on tightly
out of reflex and of fear

That old roller coaster went up the track
then it went straight down
As I had feared, the track just broke
with a thudding, crashing sound

There were bodies flying everywhere,
such a needless tragedy
I wish they would have listened
when their chance came to be free.

So I went home and thought a lot
It wouldn’t leave my mind,
just how I could have ended up
if that man was not so kind

I went back,there the next day,
surely that ride would be torn down
My eyes seemed to deceive me
with the shocking sight I found

A crowd was waiting to get on
with glaring, fearful eyes
Please leave this line, I pleaded,
and I began to cry

I saw the horrible tragedy
that happened yesterday
But most just glared right through me,
The yelled, Get out of the way!

The carnival man yanked on the switch
I heard his laugh so brash
We got some more, he yelled again
Then I heard the sickening crash

He laughed some more as his workers
cleaned up all of the debris
Come one, come all, get on my ride
It’s exciting and it’s free.

….and that they will come to their
senses and escape from the trap
of the devil, who has taken
them captive to do his will.

II Timothy 2:26

Picking Our Gifts!

They say that one mans junk is another mans treasure.  From watching the show American Pickers I’ve learned that one mans treasure can be another mans treasure too.  I’ve also seen cases where one mans forgotten treasure is dug out (much like digging for buried treasure!) American Pickers is a Reality TV show.  It’s concept was started by Mike Wolfe.  Mike explains his love for finding treasures like this.  “When I was five, I had my first big score when I found a pile of old bicycles in my neighborhood trash one day.  And I was always bringing home old bottles and other random stuff.  I never thought of it as junk, to me, it was beautiful.”


When Mike was in his twenties he raced bicycles competitively which led to him opening a bicycle store and repair shop in his hometown of Bettendorf, Iowa.  At that time people were always telling him about vintage bikes for sale which he would buy and flip for extra cash.  Later he expanded the idea buying Italian scooters and motorcycles.  Finding treasures became more than just a hobby, so he closed his bicycle shop, bought a van and started a new business called Antique Archeology.  Mike considers his job truly amazing as he gets to find treasures from all over the country and meet amazing people with stories to tell about them!

The reality show “American Pickers” stars Mike and Frank Fritz (Mike calls him Frankie who owns his own shop up the river in Savanna, Illinois.)  Danielle Colby-Cushman works in Mike’s business in Le Claire, Iowa and later a second location in Nashville, TN. Danielle gives Mike and Frank leads as they travel to different locations throughout the country.  Danielle handles the business while Mike is gone and we see people coming into the store and her duties too.  This gives a good perspective of the entire business as Mike and Frank are always followed in a Mercedes Sprinter van and later in a Ford Transit searching for treasures.

Danielle holding down the fort!

Danielle holding down the fort!

Antique Archaeology

Antique Archaeology

Sometimes when they are out and about without a lead Mike and Frankie do something they call “free styling.”  After introducing themselves to an unsuspecting person answering the door Mike or Frank shake their hand. “We’re pickers”, one of them will offer.  They then give the person a list of things they might be interested in.  Usually they pick places that look like they have an over abundance of things in their yard for free styling opportunities. There are times that these “cold calls” work just as well as the appointments Danielle is able to set up.  They end up searching barns, sheds, or yards of collectors, hoarders, and occasionally people who have inherited overwhelming collections of what they might see as junk.  Opportunities to unload some of their items and make some money appeal to many that are on Mike and Frankie’s path.

To be honest I have become interested in the show only in maybe the last year.  Running through the TV channels I’d see “American Pickers” listed on the guide but never took the time to see what it was about.  “Pickers” are people that go through other peoples stuff and find things that are valuable to them.  Things they don’t pick aren’t necessarily not valuable.  Sometimes Mike and Frankie pass on something valuable because either it is too expensive or it doesn’t fit into what they like to buy.  That being said Mike’s business has expanded into buying most things that he deems valuable if the price is right.

I have discovered in the episodes that there are basically three types of owners of things that Mike and Frankie look through.  There are the ones that have an unorganized mess of things, the ones who have somewhat of an organization but still it is somewhat messy, and the ones who have everything in order and in great condition.  There are also different attitudes about the stuff that they own.  Some are anxious to sell and sometimes vastly under estimate the value of stuff that they have.  Some are willing to sell certain things but certain items are not for sale.  Lastly is the people that treasure their items so much that nothing is for sale.

Mike and Frankie

I am amazed at times when Mike or Frankie happen to stumble on an item buried in a pile and ask for a price only to find that it isn’t for sale.  Sometimes it is an item that the person forgot that they have.  Then there are times especially with the collections that are in great shape the owner knows the value and it shows in the price they want for the item.  Even though they have tons to offer sometimes they are unwilling to sell unless they get top dollar.  Finally there are the people that are happy to sell just to get rid of the items.  To their credit I have seen both Mike and Frankie offer more than what the person wanted because they knew the item was valuable and they could re-sell it!

I’m thinking about this whole pickers thing and it occurs to me that God is a picker too!  Now don’t get me wrong, he is not interested in material things.  In the show Mike and Frank are strangers to these people.  Let’s say that the person wanting something in their pile was a son or daughter that they loved very much.  I’ll bet they would be willing to give that loved family member anything that they wanted if it made them happy! We all have valuable gifts that God has given each of us!  How many of us know we are gifted and don’t necessarily want to give our gifts to God?  How many of us have a big pile of gifts that we haven’t used in years and sometimes we forget we even have them, yet when God asks for our gifts we don’t want to give them up?  God wants us to freely give what is given to us for his glory!  We need to be like those people whose attitudes are “if you can use my gift, I’m willing to give it to you.  Let our prayer be “God, I am yours and everything that I have and that I am is yours.  Please take anything that I have to offer and use it for your glory because you gave the ultimate gift to me and I love you with all of my heart!

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another , as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

I Peter 4:10



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