I Didn’t Win $750 Million

During a recent lottery shindig, everybody was watching to see who was going to win all that money. Even I got all caught up in the excitement and was on the edge of my seat too.

“Why,” the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage said, “are you so interested in that lottery?”

“Well,” I said as soberly as possible, “what if I win all that money? Wouldn’t that be tremendous?” Then I flashed a gracious million-dollar smile at her.

She just stared at me, rolled her eyes and walked away. As she was walking away, she mumbled something like, “You gotta pay if you’re gonna win.”

Oh yeah, I thought to myself. I am sitting in my chair wondering what in the world I would do with all that money if I actually would win it when in reality I am not even playing the lottery. I just got all caught up with the idea of winning money.

Even if I did play, according to some statistics, only one person in 300 million had a chance of winning that lottery. I’m not sure how they come up with such statistics; I am rather suspicious of the whole thing.

I remember a favorite saying of the late Will Rogers, “All I know is what I read in the newspaper.” That was long before all of this media electronic nonsense that we have today. I think he might change his saying something like this, “All I know is what I see on TV.” Or, some of the younger group might include the Internet.

I am not a skeptic, mind you, I just do not believe everything I hear or see these days. I never guess how much change I have in my pocket, I always count it. I never want to guess at anything.

Some people believe everything they hear and see on TV these days. I think most of it is just entertainment. Entertainment has become such an obsession these days that it is hard to get away from it.

We watch programs that solve problems that don’t even exist. We get all excited about somebody playing some role on some fictitious TV program. Don’t get me started on those reality shows!

I can remember when the TV program Dallas was very popular. They ended one season with the mysterious killing of JR. All of the media went crazy, even across Europe, wondering, “Who killed JR?” I wonder how many people stopped to think that JR was not even a real person.

I am not against winning money, I want to win as much money as I can. However, I think it is a ruse to get people’s attention. Even I was watching to see who was going to win all of that money. That is exactly what they wanted.

Again, I am not a skeptic, but I wonder if that person that won all that money was a real person? Or, was it some kind of ruse to get people to watch television at that point? From another angle, how much did they really pay that woman to say that she won all that money?

Okay, okay I admit it! I am a skeptic. But I’m a skeptic with good intentions. At least I believe they are good. I just do not want to be sold a bill of goods that somebody is trying to take advantage of me.

I do not believe everything I see and hear. I do not agree with everything I see or hear these days. How in the world could you? How in the world could anybody?

I try to be careful because I know not everybody has an agenda and not everybody is out to pick my pocket. It only takes one person to cause me to be very cautious about everything.

I think one of the great areas where I need to be very cautious is in religion. Religion has made many promises throughout the years that it has yet to make good on. I want something more solid than religion. Everybody is religious, one way or the other. Sometimes, I will not say always, religion is out to pick your pocket.

That is one of the reasons why I am a Christian. I do not have anything in my pocket that God would want to pick. There is nothing I have that would in any way enrich the heavenly coffers of God.

The other way around is where I am at. So much God has I desire and want in my life. I cannot enrich God, but God can enrich me beyond my wildest imagination. Believe me; my imagination can get pretty wild at times.

The only way I can really find out what God has for me is to commit myself to the systematic reading of God’s word. I do not believe in that slogan, “A verse a day keeps the devil away.” Read the story of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and you will see the devil used Scripture to attack Jesus.

I believe David in the Old Testament understood the riches that God had for his people. He wrote, “For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation” (Psalms 149:4).

It would be wonderful to win $750 million, but after all, it is only money and eventually that money runs out. God’s pleasure never runs out.

My Loving Sister and The Joy She Brought to Our World

She was born to be special in the eyes of those she touched. The youngest of four siblings she shared her love with all of us equally. From the time she arrived in our midst with her long black curls and brown eyes there was joy in abundance, even through the worst of times. She made the family complete and she took each of us in her stride, helping where she could, comforting where she couldn’t, and always on hand in times of trouble.

Looking back over our lives and the times we shared is something that would never have happened if she were not born to be our dear and loving sister. She has gone now for over two years and we will never stop missing her. It makes me wonder, however, why so many families are so far apart and why siblings cannot appreciate each other.

Perhaps it was the time in which we lived that made us different. Today’s world is nothing like the one in which we grew and flourished. We were not rich except in what we meant to each other and the support we drew from that friendship. Those who miss out on this are the poorer.

But she was the same with others as with the family. She took people under her wings and nurtured them if they were lonely, she contributed if they were poor, and she was on hand to help out the weak and infirm. To say that we miss her is a gross understatement as we mourn her as much today as when she passed.

It is hard to imagine our lives without her and for me, at least, she turns up everyday in the little notes she sent me, in the pieces of craft she made for me, and in the constant mindful conversations that still flourish in my head.

While my experience of reincarnation taught me that we all return one day she may come back to me in someone whom I can easily recognise. Her gentle kindness will be one of the ways she will be recognised.

My Sneeze Is No Gentle Breeze

It has been days (or has it been years) since I have enjoyed a sneeze free day. The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage told me it is simply that time of the year and I should learn to deal with it. “After all,” she opined, “you’re not going to die.”

That news was not quite encouraging, because it was the hope of dying keeping me alive so far. If my brain was functioning anywhere half-decent, (and I can’t remember a time it has) I probably could remember when I felt worse. However, it does not matter how I have felt in the past it is how I’m feeling right now that really matters.

I have gone through a million boxes of tissues this past week.

I would not mind an occasional sneeze every now and then. For example I could live with a simple “aah-choo,” and be done with it. But, oh no, my nose has different ideas about the whole thing.

It is what I call the unholy Trinity. It goes something like this.

Aaaaah Choooooooooooo.
Aaaaaah Choooooooooooooo.
Aaaaaaaah Choooooooooooooooo.

Each sneeze tries to outdo the previous one. I can never sneeze one time, it always has to be in multiples of three.

Of course, sometimes my nose tries to outsmart me. For example, when a sneeze comes I gear up for three in a row. Then my nose will sneeze two times and I am ready for the third one and it does not come. It will do this several times in a row, then it will sneeze twice, there is a small pause, and I think it is over and the third thunders forth.

Notwithstanding, this has made certain inconveniences in the life I once enjoyed. For example, in the middle of the night when nature calls I try to be as careful in getting out of bed and going as I possibly can. I never open my eyes so as not to become fully awakened in the middle of the night. Once awake I find it difficult to go back to sleep.

Just the other night I was responding to nature’s call as I normally do and was just about ready to get back into bed when my nose realized what was happening and called forth three mighty sneezes.

Not only did it bring me to full awake status, but also the lady sleeping in my bed was aroused to full alertness, and yelled, “What happened?”

I live by one basic rule. Never wake up grouchy.

I’ve learned one thing about what not to do when you have this condition. That is simply never brush your teeth during this condition. My mirror in my bathroom will be shiny bright and never have a cavity, guaranteed.

I have noticed when you are sick and people find out about it they feel obligated to share with you their medical expertise on the situation at hand.

One person said to me, “What you need is plenty of vitamin C. I recommend you drink as much orange juice as you possibly can. That’ll take care of it for sure.”

I don’t know who is worse. The one giving advice or the one taking it.

Being in such desperate straits, I decided to take the orange juice regimen. For one whole day, I drank as much OJ as I possibly could get down. For a while, it seemed to work, but then the inevitable raised its ugly head. Everybody knows when you drink as much OJ as I have been drinking there comes the necessity to go to the bathroom.

I got to the bathroom, just in time, and in midstream, I had a ferocious attack of the sneezes. When the storm subsided, the bathroom looked like the aftermath of Hurricane Charley. I tried explaining this to my wife but she only crossed her arms, looked at me and raised her eyebrows in a way I knew she did not buy what I was saying.

While I was still in this sniffling-sneezy-stuffy condition, I ran into a friend of mine. It is hard to hide your condition when all you are doing is sneezing and sniffling. He understood, of course, and then offered me his expert medical advice.

“I have found the perfect cure for your condition.”

You would think by this time I would have learned my lesson, but I was feeling so down I was grasping at straws.

“When I get what you have I always take a laxative regimen.”

Had I been in my right mind and had my mind been clear I would have considered this as stupid advice. However, being in the condition I was in it somehow it sounded plausible.

“This laxative regimen,” he explained, “flushes all the poison contributing to your condition out of your system.”

Either, my friend had never tried the remedy himself or, he had forgot to warn me about a very serious side effect. One sneeze can trigger a flush. Don’t ask me how I know.

In the midst of all of this nonsense, my bleary, teary eyes rested on an old familiar friend. It is found in Psalms 103:1 (KJV), “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.”

I discovered one good thing about sneezing in public. People are always kind enough to say, “God bless you.”

Ah, it’s a wonderful world… Aaaah Chooo!

“God bless you.”

Thank you.