Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It's All in the Signature

Are you fascinated by the autographs of famous people? 

Do the personal signatures in their own handwriting of Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan or Elvis excite you?  

According to Stuart Whitehurst, “Signed documents, such as letters, manuscripts, memos, and other important papers, are one of the fastest growing collecting areas at auction.” *

According to an online article entitled, “The 10 Priciest Autographs Ever Sold,”    
George Washington’s signature on the Acts of Congress sold for $9.8 million (the most at the time), Abraham Lincoln’s signature on the Emancipation Proclamation (the second most) went for $3.7 million, and a signed Jesse James photo came in 9th at $52,000.**
Granted, some of these documents themselves account for part of the prices paid, but even so, a simple signed photograph of Paul McCartney could set you back by $2,400 or that of Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling a mere $1,875.***

[My children will tell you sometime the weird and wonderful stories of the “lesser known” celebrity autographs we have in our “collection” as a result of my decidedly amateur collecting prowess over the years.]

Be honest with me. Have you ever practiced writing your autograph to be ready when you became famous? You know you have! because it takes real practice to achieve an autograph style of this level of proficiency:     
Guess Who

Let me tell you about a “signature” that tops them all...my personal favorite.  There is  Someone who “signs His name” in a simple, but all powerful way. It is a “signature” beside which all others fade to pale by comparison. It is the “autograph” of the Almighty God, who signs His name:

I am who I am”  (Exodus 3:14)
I am, and there is no one besides me”  (Exodus 47:10)
“I am he; I am the first, and I am the last”  (Exodus 48:12)

We would all do well to have this autograph a permanent part of our personal collections.

**(Octavia Drughi for http://www.therichest.com)
***(PaulFraserCollectibles at http://www.ranker.com)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Are We Really Free?

The first definition of Freedom given by the Oxford Dictionaries online is “The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint   (http://www.oxforddictionaries.com). 

What a great definition! Who likes hindrances or restraints (rules, regulations, people telling us what to do, etc. etc.)? Wouldn’t it be “freeing” to live like that?  Sort of a Peter Pan/Lost Boys Neverland experience where anything goes?

  • But I’m young! I should be able to do whatever I want while I don’t have any encumbering responsibilities. There’s plenty of time later to follow the constraints of work, family, civic duties. 

  • But I’m old! I have earned the right to finally do what I please and say whatever is on my mind---the things I have wanted to say to others for years.

  • Look, you do your thing and I’ll do mine and we’ll just respect each other’s rights to our own freedoms—of speech, actions, thoughts, whatever.

These approaches work as long as my actions don’t tread on your property, your personal space or your worldview. And if they do…well then I have a problem with your freedoms.
Truth is…this definition of freedom doesn’t work, regardless of how seductive it sounds. Why even pose it as a possibility?  Remember physics class and Newton’s Third Law of Motion?  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Our earthly freedoms are important to us and rightfully so, as they have been hard fought for and won by great losses. But in truth, no earthy freedom is a sure thing and could disappear in a wink. Now, more than ever, our perceived freedoms are treading on someone else’s perceived freedoms and causing reactions that lead to even greater losses of freedom.
This is not true freedom
Maybe we are looking in the wrong place for true freedom.     

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you  will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  (John 8:31-32)
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

If not now...when?

It is easy to come to the conclusion from most forms of media that the news is generally bad. Therefore, it is easy to become downhearted>>>discouraged>>>despondent>>>depressed.

But we are not as those who have no hope.

What would happen if we consistently thought like this?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  [Philippians 4:8]

What would happen if we consistently believed and acted on this?
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [Galatians 3:28]

What would happen if we consistently lived like this?
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  [John 13: 34-35]

If not now....when?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Granny's Pantry # 27: Finding Carolyn Jane

Have you ever felt your life was insignificant and unimportant-- as if few people would even notice if you were to disappear?  Whether realistic or not, most of us have felt that way at some time. No doubt some folks live there most of the time.    

I never met Carolyn Jane, but I knew her. Her story was part of the High Rock story. Her parents were storekeepers in the tiny location where they lived; I remember them from long ago. Carolyn Jane was born in July of 1928, the second oldest child of at least 2 brothers and 2 sisters, one of whom still lives near where they grew up in High Rock. 

Carolyn Jane never married; she never had children. She missed out on most of the things we think are important sources of joy in our early adult lives. I heard about her from Granny Cole, who lived in the same community and was a neighbor. Granny told me how sad she felt on visiting Carolyn Jane in her bed in a little room of the store where her family lived and worked. Carolyn Jane had a terminal illness, and just after the New Year in 1949, she died.  Carolyn Jane only lived to be 20 years old.  

Did this one short life of 20 years matter? There were more than 26,200 live births in North Carolina in 1928. Carolyn Jane’s was one of them. There were over 31, 000 recorded deaths in our state in 1949. Hers, in January, was one of the first.  It is highly unlikely that you would ever know about her, were it not for this brief writing. No doubt her family mourned, and any who are left, may mourn still. Apart from that, and a few friends, old now themselves, who would care?     
God did.

Carolyn Jane’s short life was no mistake and not without His purpose. All of her days were ordained for her before one of them came to be:

Psalm 139:13-16

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

The same is true for you and for me.

When I met Archie Smith a few weeks ago [see Finding Archie Smith, May 3 blog post], he told me he had worked on a church in High Rock some years back. I knew the place, now deserted. Out of the blue, he told me, “Carolyn Jane Morgan was the first person to be buried there.”

I had found her.  

This was not Granny’s church he was talking about, and I’d never explored its cemetery, but I did that day. It’s on a dead end dirt road right at the foot of a mountain. The church yard is quiet, the stained glass windows beautiful, the small cemetery well kept.

Carolyn Jane’s grave was easy to locate on the first row of graves.   

The dates on the stone told me she was actually a little older than the teenager I had thought her to be. I wish I had a picture; surely there’s one in an old annual somewhere. I think I’ll try to find it.

Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” I know that being buried in a churchyard doesn’t make you a saint, and I don’t know her spiritual heart, but I can hope that I will meet her in person someday in Heaven.