Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fishin' Fer Men

I scrounged up this poem I wrote several years ago for today's Friday Fiction. It's not what I typically write -mostly jest fer fun.

Fishin’ Fer Men
by Sharlyn Guthrie

“Ernie, put yer waders on.
Go grab yer pole an’ lure.
Reckon I don’t hafta tell
ya’ what them things are fer.

Now tell th’ missus s’long
then hop in this here truck.
Down yon at Lake Kahoochee
we’ll try our trollin’ luck.

I sure ‘nuf knows it’s Sunday,
but ‘tisn’t ever’ day
th’ catfish are a bitin’
same as they are t’day.

Besides, it’s by the churchyard.
We’ll hear th’ choir singin’.
We’ll have a taste o’ Heaven
while our catch we’re stringin’.

I musta been convincin’;
‘took less than a minute.
Th’ missus ain’t too happy?
Shoot! She’ll soon forget it.

Now Hold th’ worm can, Ernie.
--dug ‘em fresh this mornin’.
I ain’t got time fer preachin’;
it’s oh so dry, an’ borin’.

Reckon th’ times a’comin’
I’ll hafta change my ways.
‘Til then I’ll jes’ keep fishin’.
Ain’t got no need t’ pray.

Yer mighty quiet, Ernie.
Th’ cat done got yer tongue?
Now you’ll forget th’ missus
Soon as yer line is flung.

That’s Blindman’s Knob we’re climbin’
--nearly there, by jiggered!
We both can get t’ baitin’
quicker than I figgered.

Doggone it! Nothin’s happnin’…
I’m pushin’ on th’ brake!
Good Lawd! We are a headin’
straight for Kahoochee Lake!”

Now Deacon Joe wuz fixin’
fer Sunday’s meetin’ when
he heard a loud commotion
an’ shoutin’, cursin’ men.

He scurried through the meadow
an’ down the slipp’ry bank
in time t’ see Lyle’s pick-up
jes’ sinkin’ like a tank.

The two men thrashed an’ hollered
t’ save their drownin’ souls.
Out there among the rushes
Joe found their fishin’ poles.

Joe cast an’ hooked Lyle’s britches
an’ as he reeled him in,
Lyle snagged Ernie’s suspenders;
he stretched ‘em mighty thin!

Two wet an’ red-faced anglers
flopped on Kahoochee’s shore.
They thanked the Lord in Heaven
t’ be on land once more.

“Well fellas, I’ll be headin’
back over t’ th’ church.
Guess you’ll be comin’ with me
since yer left in th’ lurch.”

Joe hooked one arm through Ernie’s,
th’ other one through Lyle’s.
folks saw that passel comin’
An’ they broke into smiles.

Down front, right near th’ altar
Ernie caught his missus.
A worm crawled down her cheek as
he laid on the kisses.

A humbled Lyle and Ernie
both took to repentin’.
Th’ preacher let ‘em finish
then did his commentin’.

“This here’s an illustration
of truth y’all have heard.
Ol’ Deacon Joe is righteous
an’ listens t’ God’s Word.

‘An when he sees a sinner
a-drownin’ in his ways
old Joe’ll go a fishin’
th’ dyin’ soul t’ save.

Some folks don’t meet th’ Savior
While sittin’ in a pew.
They hafta git reminded
a’ what God’s grace can do.

So boys, keep up yer fishin’.
But ever’ now an’ then,
instead o’ snaggin’ catfish
go fishin’ fer some men.”

“The fruit of the uncompromisingly righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise captures human lives for God, as a fisher of men--he gathers and receives them for eternity.” Proverbs 11:30 (AMP)

Catrina is hosting Fiction Friday today at her blog Speak to the Mountain. I hope you will pay her blog a visit, or better yet, join us!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

One Day's Worth of Love

"Be kindly affectioned one to another
with brotherly love;
in honour preferring one another."
Romans 12:10 (KJV)

Two year old Claire and five year old Noah have had their share of spats lately. I am amazed at how competitive they are, especially considering their age and gender differences. What starts as taunting can soon erupt into all-out war.

Their mom and dad have very specific consequences for unkind behavior:

Hitting or pushing = time out, facing the wall
Taking toys away = loss of the privilege of playing with that toy
Teasing or aggravating = separation from each other (-interesting that this works!)
Using unkind words = say something kind/loving

Saturday evening I helped with crafts at a family Valentine party held at our church. The children made valentines for a family member or friend, then enclosed a customized “coupon” as a gift. I explained all of this to Noah, who had just finished making a valentine for Mom and Dad. He then sat pondering what to write on his coupon. Finally, he wrote, “I will love Claire for…”

“Oh, that’s a good one, Noah. Are you going to love her for one whole week?”

“A year!” he exclaimed, but quickly changed his mind, “…or maybe a day.”

Along with the other adults in the craft room I tried to stifle my snickers.

In the end his coupon read, “I will love Claire for 1 day.”

I admire Noah’s childish honesty, knowing that even one day is no small commitment. Sure, a day doesn’t sound like much when compared to the week I suggested, or to Noah’s grand aspirations of a year, but I’m guessing that keeping that promise for an entire day will be mighty tough!

“Be kindly affectioned to one another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.” This is no mushy Valentine sentiment, but a command concerning our brothers and sisters in Christ. In fact, John 13:35 says that this is how others will know that we are Christians -by the love we show toward one another.

If I am honest I must admit, like Noah, that I struggle in this area. I am not always as patient or tenderhearted with my brothers and sisters in Christ as I should be. I sometimes insist on my own way, and I don’t always share. I can say hurtful things, sometimes in the form of gossip...and the list goes on.

I think I will borrow Noah’s idea and write my Father a Valentine coupon:

To: My Father God
Redeemable For: loving my brothers and sisters for 1 day
Note #1: Coupon may be redeemed as often as needed
Note #2: I can't do this without your help!
Signed: Your child, Sharlyn

Yvonne is hosting Monday Manna today at My Back Door.

Friday, February 11, 2011

When Love Came Knocking

When Love Came Knocking
by Sharlyn Guthrie

The street was empty and dark except for flickering television sets illuminating the clouded windows of broken down trailers. A woman’s shrieks shredded the silence, but no one noticed. An infant’s cry soon erupted. Lucy Bryant had given birth to her fourth child. The twenty two year old slumped back onto her filthy bed, leaving the wet, scrawny infant untouched between her legs.

“Mama?” Jasmine’s eyes stretched as wide as lollipops.

“What’re you lookin’ at? Git! And take him with you. He needs a bath.” Lucy used the kitchen knife from the nightstand to slice through the cord.

Regarding the wiggling creature with wonder, the six-year-old gathered him up in a bed sheet. “Mama, can we keep this one?”

“Dunno. Just let me get some sleep.”

“I’d like you gooder if you was a sister, but you can’t help it you’re a boy.” Jasmine filled the bathroom sink half-full of water, dipped her brother in and out several times, then rubbed him dry with the bed sheet. His head wobbled and his legs stiffened as he screamed, reddening his transparent skin.

Several hours later, Lucy found them nestled together, the newborn swaddled in Jasmine’s outgrown Little Mermaid tee shirt. Despair overwhelmed her. Light-headed and weak, Lucy packed a few essentials and fled.

Falls Creek Bible Church would begin its summer children’s program next week. As Laura Rayburn drove home from the planning meeting, something or Someone urged her to turn along the rough, narrow lane she usually passed without a thought. Guilt and shame tore at her tender heart as she drove through the impoverished community. Why hadn’t she or her church family ever reached out to these hurting people?

Silently petitioning the Lord for protection and courage, Laura stretched across two broken steps to rap on a door. Putrid air poured out of the dilapidated trailer, surrounding the wisp of a girl who appeared. Dark half-moons under the child’s eyes made her appear old and haggard.

“Hi, I’m Laura. May I speak to your mother or father?”

“I’m Jasmine. I don’t got no mother or father.”

“May I come in?” The question from her own mouth startled Laura. She hadn’t planned to go inside, and yet something or Someone propelled her forward, through the open door.

Laura gasped when the rag doll on the couch suddenly drew breath and wailed. “That’s my brother.” Jasmine intoned.

‘What’s his name?” Laura questioned.

“I dunno. I just call him Brother.”

Apprehension nibbled at Laura’s insides, but she reached for the child. “May I?”

“You can’t have him. He’s mine.”

“Oh, Honey, I’m not taking him, I just want to hold him.”

“His head isn’t on very tight.”

“Okay, I’ll be careful.” The bit of childish wisdom produced a wan smile.

The infant was weak and much too thin, Laura realized with alarm. He wasn’t even wearing a diaper. “When did he last have a bottle?”

“Oh! I give him one whenever he cries. I found Jake’s old bottle in the cupboard.”


“He was my brother, too. A social worker took him away with the last baby. Are you a social worker?”

“No.” Laura sank into the couch, nauseated and tearful. “I came here to tell you that Jesus loves you. Do you know about Jesus?”

“I don’t know any Jesus. Is he a friend of yours?”

“Well, yes. He is. He wants to be your friend, too, Jasmine. Could you use some help taking care of this little guy?”

Jasmine’s eyes searched the floor surrounding her dirty bare feet. “I guess so. We’re out of milk. Babies got to have milk, don’t they? He needs diapers, too. I hafta keep changing his shirts. Can Jesus help me take care of him?”

“Listen, Jasmine,” Laura squatted, peering into two deep, serious eyes. “Jesus is God’s Son. We can’t see Him, but He hears our prayers. I’m going to pray right now and ask Him to get you the help you need. Okay?”

Jasmine had an invisible friend, too, but she knew that hers was make-believe. Laura seemed to think her friend, Jesus, was real. Jasmine liked the way Laura smiled when she talked to Him. Brother cuddled into Laura’s shoulder and Jasmine slid slender arms around Laura’s waist, pressing into her as she dialed for help on her cell phone.

Surprised by the warmth surging through her, Jasmine exclaimed, “This must be love!” Then, closing her eyes as Laura had done, she whispered, “Thank you, Jesus.”

Karlene is Hosting Fiction Friday at Homespun Expressions today. Please pay her a visit to find more great fiction or to post your own story.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Oh, He Speaks!

“God spoke,” some say, “but speaks no longer -like Grandfather who rocks and smiles, and rocks some more, notions and musings buttoned under his sweater.”

Oh, He speaks to those with ears to hear, ears trembling with expectancy like hummingbirds hovering in anticipation. His words flow soft and warm; sweet and satisfying as nectar. Long for them; expect them; listen. Shh…

“We have His Word,” they say, “His Word in black and white, like letters from a far-off soldier love pregnant with promise of His return. It should be enough,” they say. “No one has heard from Him for centuries.”

He is the Word, the Word preceding black and white; the Word that breathed it; the Word that lives and breathes still –ever breathing, ever speaking utterances too holy to repeat. Yes, He speaks through words penned centuries ago; speaks through beings and things created; speaks through ironic circumstance. Can the everlasting Word be silent? Oh, He speaks to those who would be still; reminds, reassures, repeats love’s declarations. Shh…be still.

Crying out from self-made altar strewn with leftovers -hardly a sacrifice, we beg and bully Him. “Where are You, God? Do you hear me? Speak, God! I’m listening. Are you in the wind? The fire? The storm? If You are God, Speak.”

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in and eat with him and he with me.” *

“Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” **

“A silent observer… ” naysayers claim. “God watches and waits; His creation waits too, for the roar signaling death’s death once and for all times -like fabled silver swan whose death song is His first, finest and final proclamation.”

Observer? Yes. Silent? …Only to those who listen blind. Oh yes, He speaks! Be still and hear.

* Revelation 3:20 (NIV Bible)
** Song of Solomon 2:10b (NIV Bible)