Just a Couple of Old Soldiers

It was 1981. My parents were visiting Japan, helping us to build a building. While Dad installed kitchen cabinets, the Japanese tile man, Mr. Narahashi, was installing the Japanese-style bath. (Everybody should have an American kitchen and a Japanese bath!) During a breather, the two men stood drinking coffee. Only the most casual of introductions had been made. (Of course,…

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“Serve Him Till I Die”

older black man

A memory from my teen years flashed into my head, for some reason, and made me look up the old song “I’m on the Battlefield for My Lord.” The back story: I was about 16 and at a teen youth rally. Visiting was a 90-year-old black man (about 4-foot-11!) from a Bible college in Louisville. He stood up in front…

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“How Much to Free the Lady?”

woman holding a cage of birds

A few years ago, I was visiting my daughter in Chiang Mai, Thailand. From the hotel window I spotted a local lady carrying what looked like a big wicker basket, filled with smaller closed baskets. My daughter explained that each little cage contained a sparrow. A Buddhist person could pay 75 cents to set a sparrow free. And this would,…

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Of Passion, Purpose, and God’s Will

man walking in fog

What if I Can’t Find My Calling? “What’s wrong with me?” seems to be the feeling as so many people these days appear to be in an endless search for life’s secrets. All the talk conveys a desperate struggle to “discover my passion,” “fulfill my purpose,” “find my calling,” “discern God’s will,” and of course, “be happy.” Sure, it can…

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Unhelpful Self-Help

cover of Aunt Erma's Cope Book

I recently reread Aunt Erma’s Cope Book. (Erma Bombeck, first published 1979) It’s a hilarious send-up of that time when self-help books first became the rage. Her chapter titles play off then-popular books (like the famous Passages, which she parodies as “Packages”). And she throws in some made-up titles, like “How to Face a Visit from Your Mother on 1200…

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