Sunday, January 24, 2010

In case you have blown it... Luke 7: 36-50

Glorietta Baptist Encampment just outside Santa Fe, New Mexico is something like the Shangri La of Baptist life. The first time I visited Glorietta with a group of teenagers I appreciated the little lecture we received upon arrival. During youth events, Glorietta had, and probably still has, a policy called “No PDA.” PDA is "Public Display of Affection." You are guilty of undue public affection if a Glorietta official catches you in a comprising situation with another person that goes beyond what that official considers to be “appropriate” affection.
I can’t help but think about PDA when I reviewed the scripture for today.

Picture the scene. Jesus is eating in the home of Simon the Pharisee. Other religious leaders are also involved in the dinner party. This august group is not eating in an enclosed dining room, but in an outdoor courtyard where bystanders can observe from the street. They are not sitting in chairs around a dining room table, but reclining on couches around a common eating table. Lying with their heads at the table and their feet out, the dinner guests form a pattern that resembles a big asterisk.
We don’t know the topic of conversation. Given the number of religious heavyweights around the table, we can guess they were discussing weighty theological issues. And then with no warning, a woman steps from the crowd holding an alabaster jar of perfume, and approaches Jesus from behind. She doesn’t introduce herself — she doesn’t need to. Her reputation precedes her, and even the squeaky clean Pharisees know she is a prostitute.
The room grows very quiet as this woman of the night kneels at Jesus’ feet. While the Pharisees grow tense and distant, Jesus remains remarkably relaxed. The woman doesn’t say a word. Instead, she begins to cry quietly. Large tears well up in her eyes, roll down her face, and on to Jesus’ feet. The Pharisees flinch at the sight of such "filth" making contact with Jesus. But Jesus makes no move to avoid the tears — he stays perfectly still.
Still weeping profusely, the woman slowly unclasps her luxurious hair so that it falls about her face and down to her waste. Now the Pharisees are gasping for air because the only time a proper woman lets down her hair is in a sexually intimate moment with her husband. The woman begins to use her free-flowing hair as a towel, wiping her tears from Jesus feet. Along the way, she begins kissing Jesus’ feet, and then anointing his feet with the expensive perfume from the alabaster jar. Meanwhile, Jesus does nothing to conceal the fact that he is deeply moved by the woman’s affection.

This is more —way, way more— than those paragons of propriety known as the Pharisees can swallow. Clearly, this is a glaring example of PDA if there ever was one! Simon, the dinner host, concludes that the press reports declaring Jesus to be the hottest prophet in Israel are dead wrong because if this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is — a sinner.

But Jesus, displaying the very prophetic powers Simon has just dismissed, knows Simon’s thoughts. And he responds with a story. Two men owe the same moneylender differing sums of money. One owes the lender 500 denarii, the other 50 (a denarius was a coin worth a day’s wages). Neither can repay, so the moneylender cancels both debts. Now, asks Jesus, which man will love the lender more?
Simon hesitates. He senses he is getting set up for the kill. And he’s right. “I suppose, he replies, the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”
“You have judged correctly,” said Jesus.

Then, for the first time, Jesus turns and faces the woman who has just showered him with undue, unadulterated public affection. And he says to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me (the normal courtesy of) water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me (the customary greeting of) a kiss, but this woman from the time I entered has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not pour (even the usual cheap olive) oil on my head, but she has poured (an exotic brand) of perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven — for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
Then Jesus says to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven. The Pharisees are even more dumbfounded. Only God can forgive. Who does this man think he is — God? Once again Jesus senses their hostile thoughts. And once again he ignores them. Turning to the woman, Jesus says, “Your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

I. Now this story contains good news and bad news. In case you’ve blown it at some point in your life, this story bodes well for you.

A. Maybe you cheated on your spouse, or have suffered from an addiction, or broke the law. Maybe nobody knows what you’ve done, not even your best friend. Somehow, you messed up big time, and your sin still weighs heavy on your head. Friend, this story can be very good news for you—if you’ll learn from it and live by it.

B. But in case you think you haven’t blown it, in case you think your are fine just the way you are, with little or nothing to forgive, this story is bad news for you. The point of the story for you is --- you are missing the point, you’re missing the grace, and you are blowing it in the worst possible way.

II. Let’s take a closer look at the good news side of the equation first. This story is cloaked in mystery. We don’t know the identity of the woman who approaches Jesus. Technically, we don’t know what sin the woman has committed. We don’t know when she first encounters Jesus.

A. What we do know is that somewhere, somehow Jesus’ love and forgiveness invaded this woman’s heart, and began to transform her into a new creation. What we do know is that this woman isn’t content to keep her changed life to herself, but has the courage to seek Jesus out to let him know what he means to her.

B. What we do know is this woman has a love for Jesus that is lavish and unrestrained. Truthfully, she doesn’t care if she breaks all the rules of protocol that mean so much to others in the room because she only has eyes for Jesus. It doesn’t matter if she looks like a lowly servant, or lustful prostitute. Nothing is going to hold her back from lavishing her love on Jesus, least of all her pride.

C. What we do know is that this woman, who has been wounded and abused physically by so many men now relishes having physical contact with Jesus because he has healed her of her emotional and spiritual wounds. Jesus has ravished her with his love and grace, and now, it’s her turn to ravish him with her love — even if it makes other people uncomfortable.

D. By the way, don’t make the common mistake of thinking this woman is forgiven because she loves Jesus so much. No, just the opposite is true – the woman is able to love Jesus so lavishly because she was forgiven so lavishly. Her love flows like a river because Jesus’ forgiveness had first flowed into her life like Niagara Falls.

Years ago just after the Korean War a young Korean woman gave birth to a little girl whose father was an American soldier. The soldier returned to America never to be seen again, leaving a young Korean mother to raise a daughter that looked very different from other Korean children. Her curly hair and light complexion resulted in a great deal of abuse for the mother, who eventually abandoned her daughter to the streets when she was just seven years old.

For two years this poor child wandered the streets, barely surviving. She almost starved to death, and was subjected to unimaginable abuse. When she was finally taken in by an orphanage at age nine, she loathed herself and her life.

One day a couple from America came to the orphanage for the stated purpose of adopting a little Korean boy. They spent time observing the other children in the orphanage. Finally, they noticed this little nine year old girl who weighed all of 30 pounds, had worms inside her body, lice in her hair, and boils all over her skin.
This pitiful little girl could not look the couple in the eye. But she felt the man cup her face in his big hands and say, “This is the child I want.” The little girl was incredulous. In fact, she ran away. But the couple pursued her and eventually took her home with them to America. Her life changed completely, and today she lives as a healthy adult and a follower of Christ in the Midwest.

E. You see, that’s what Jesus can do. It doesn’t matter how badly you’ve blown it in the past. Jesus can look past the ugliness of your sin, and see beneath the scars of your failures. He can look deep into the core of your soul and see the image of God there. He wants to cup your face in his big strong hands and say, “I love you and I want you as a child of my own.”
And he will do just that if you let him — let him love you, let him forgive you, and experience that forgiveness -- not just in your head, but deep, deep down in your soul. Have you let Jesus love you and forgive you and change you in the way only he can do?

III. You see, Jesus won’t invade your life with his love if you prevent him — like Simon did.

A. The problem with Simon, and so many religious people, is that even though they are familiar with the things of God they miss the point, and along the way they miss the grace. Even though they are around Jesus, they are not open to Jesus — not really. They don’t embrace Jesus. They just coolly analyze him, and warily observe him, without truly welcoming him. They are most comfortable not kneeling at Jesus’ feet but keeping Jesus at arm’s length.

B. The problem, you see, is that they have never experienced the life-changing forgiveness of God, not really. And the reason they’ve never been forgiven is because they’ve never admitted their sin. And the reason they’ve never admitted their sin is they refuse to see it. They are respectable, restrained, well-trained people who can think for themselves and make their own way in this life (or so they think). They pay their taxes, attend church, contribute their offerings, generally follow the rules, and take great pains to cultivate their reputation in the community. And they don’t intend to grovel at anybody’s feet, not even the feet of Jesus. They’ve got too much pride to stoop that low.

C. Now here’s what I want you to notice about people who think they’ve never blown it, at least not badly enough to need forgiveness. In the first place, they rarely, if ever, change. Truthfully, we don’t know what becomes of Simon the Pharisee and his friends after this episode. But we can surmise that they walk away from this dinner party convinced the prostitute is pathetic, and Jesus is a joke.
Like some of us, they know just enough about Jesus to be dangerous, but not enough to be changed.
The other thing I want you to notice is that people who think they’ve never blown it never change anybody else either. All they do is condemn others who’ve blown it.

1. I’ve noticed the only people who really help others change are people who’ve blown it, and know it, and have been forgiven by Christ so thoroughly and completely that they are in a position to help others who’ve blown it.
And that, my friends, is what church should be – a collection of people who’ve blown it, – and know it, – who’ve been forgiven by Jesus, – and are so full of his love they can’t wait to share it – with others – who’ve blown it too.

2. In his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace, Phil Yancey tells of a social worker who is trying to help a prostitute so desperate that she prostitutes herself and her two year old daughter for money. Trying to find some way to break through to this woman, the social worker asks her, “Have you considered going to church?”
The prostitute says, “Go to church? Why would I ever go there? I already feel terrible about myself. Those people would just make me feel worse.”

Friends, we’ll know we are getting somewhere as a church when even a woman like that would say, “Go to FUMC? I’d love to, because despite the fact that I’ve blown it, I hear these people will love me anyway – just like Jesus.”

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why Bamboo? Custom Rod builders Guild National Conclave January 2003

A few years ago I spoke to the Custom Rodbuilders Guild on why, and how, to build bamboo rods. A comment on the Rodmakers Email List prompted me to post here the thoughts I shared in 2003 in Nashville. Quite a bit of my thinking came from my rod making friends. They deserve the credit for much of what follows.

I have one objective today, and that’s to try to provide some answers to the question: Why Bamboo? I won’t get confrontational with you like one author I know. Someone asked Sparse Grey Hackle when he was going to start fishing a plastic rod. He said that he would start fishing plastic when they started using plastic violins at
the N.Y. Philharmonic Orchestra. I’m not that way, at all. I’ve been fishing for about 40 years. My mother taught me to fish. She showed me how to sift through flowerbeds for nightcrawlers and black crickets. As a little fellow, my part was taking fish off the hook and stringing them up because Momma didn't like to touch them. We ate everything big enough to scale and fry, having never heard of catch and release.

When I was 10 years old, our family vacationed at Roaring River State Park in Missouri. Activities at Roaring River revolve around a rather contrived put and take trout stream. Fresh fish are stocked every night, a morning whistle starts the day's action. I still have the first tan fiberglass fly rod my folks bought me at Roaring River. That rod and reel package came with a half-day's instruction from the local fly-fishing expert. After a few minutes coaching, I was hooked on fly-fishing.

Perhaps one good way for me to begin this presentation today is by asking you a question: Why do you fish? There are lots of reasons, and they are good reasons. Some of us like the comradery of being with a good friend or two, alone in a boat, sipping a beer and solving all the world’s problems. For others of us, maybe shark fishermen, it’s the adrenaline rush that comes from subduing a creature that we really have no intention of messing with any other way. Some fishermen enjoy relative solitude, being miles away from another human being, beautiful places and enough quiet that you can hear your hair grow.

I enjoy lots of different kinds of fishing, but my very favorite is the quiet that comes in fly fishing for trout. For me, the fishing itself is almost reward enough, though it helps to actually catch a fish now and then. Don’t get the wrong idea.... I’m pretty deadly on a trout stream. Put me on the Norfork River in Arkansas and not too many folks will consistently catch more fish on average. Fishing to me is most enjoyable when I use a rod I made myself, and a fly I tied myself.
But, if you and I really want to catch some big fish, we would all use worms and live bait. Heck, I release about 99% of the fish I catch. This is supposed to be fun.

At the same time, I like acoustic music. I like the original Coca-Cola better than Pepsi. I like my old worn out boots better than these shiny new boots. And I like bamboo rods. Hopefully after we’ve spent a few minutes together today you’ll understand something of my love for bamboo rods.

But why bamboo, you keep asking. More than once (last night in the Vendor area) I was asked “Do you actually fish with those rods?” That question really means anything from, “aren't you afraid you'll break ‘em?” to “Isn't bamboo out of date?” to “Wow, you must be rich!”

Well, let’s have a little history lesson. Fifty years ago, a time when some of you remember, almost all fishing rods were made of bamboo. Today all rods are made from some kind of fiber. The most common fiber is graphite. Only twenty five years ago the most common fiber material was fiberglass. Both are manmade fibers and to be sure there are some advantages to manmade fiber. (The main reason being that, with today's tooling, building rods from manmade fibers is definitely more efficient)

The decline of bamboo as a rod making material began because of two events. First, the Japanese occupation of China and the embargo on Chinese goods and products after the Communist revolution; and second, the introduction of a reasonably inexpensive replacement, -- fiberglass. Fiberglass was not only fairly simple to make, but in those days fiberglass was classified as “Modern.” In those days, that label that was popular, back in the fifties and sixties.
It wasn't easy for rod makers to convert from bamboo to fiberglass. If you look at the names of the major rod makers in 1954 you'll see that a few survived the embargo and the introduction of fiberglass, but not many of those names are still around in 2004. Plants closed, milling machines fell silent. Old technologies were lost to the new. Only a handful of rod builders continued to use bamboo.

So why are there still folks around making and using bamboo rods? Well, fast forward to about twenty five years ago... A new generation of fly fishers was flailing away at the water with new rods made of this new wonder material called “graphite,” when a young writer by the name of John Gierach published “The View from Rat Lake.” John soon became a sort of folk hero to the "new" breed of fly fishers. When he began to let it slip that he fished bamboo, a subtle shift started to take place. Ex-hippies, who now had disposable incomes of up to four or five figures started buying cane rods. And as the supply of older rods became scarce the price went up, especially for the shorter, faster, "dry-fly" rods that had never been produced in great quantity to begin with.

In 1977, my freshman year in college, Hoagy Carmichael wrote a book about his friend and mentor, Everett Garrison called “A Master's Guide to Building a Bamboo Flyrod.” About that same time the embargo on China was lifted, and Tonkin bamboo again became available. A few old craftsmen continued to make bamboo rods. Most of them had at one time been employees of the large rod making concerns in the days when all rods were bamboo, and had quietly kept making rods. Very few of them actually made a living at it. It was more a labor of love than a paycheck. There was enough of an undercurrent that many of the best bamboo rod makers developed waiting lists for their rods. And they weren’t making rods for collectors, but for fishermen! They were expensive, and hard to get. People who wanted bamboo rods, but couldn’t find them (or couldn't afford them) began to think about building their own.
In 1992, Wayne Cattanach published and widely distributed his book, “Handcrafting Bamboo Fly Rods.” Wayne started rod building as a hobby. He said anyone who would take the time, could build a bamboo rod. Wayne's book was the spark that started many would be rod builders on their way.

New glues began to replace the older, less dependable glues. Old, heavy, slow tapers began to be updated. New, quicker, more responsive tapers began to be introduced. Today’s new bamboo rods not only rival the old masters, but are probably the best bamboo rods ever made.

So we keep on asking the same question: Why bamboo? Well, I like them. And lots of other folks do, too. If a fly rod is to be considered only as an instrument to deliver
line, leader and fly to a feeding fish, then you could say that in some ways bamboo is an inferior material, I guess. And, for a lot of folks, that's probably about all there is to it.

I am going to make a statement that will probably sound like heresy, and anger many bamboo rod makers. In my opinion, graphite is a wonderful rod making material. Now, not all graphite rods being made today are great rods. There are more terrible rods being made today, in my opinion, than have ever been made at any other time. But graphite does make some great rods. They are lightweight, strong, don't take a set, they can be made to cast quite well, and can be beautiful if well done.
But that doesn’t mean that bamboo rods cannot be great fishing rods. Lots of them are. Bamboo is a great material and can be crafted into a beautiful rod that has a sort of uniqueness which isn’t matched by any other material. Bamboo is the traditional rod material that fly fishing was built upon. That traditional appeal won’t go away.
Just because a rod is bamboo, that doesn't make it a great fishing rod. I’m pretty critical of any rod -- whether it’s bamboo, fiberglass, or graphite. Regardless of the material the rod is made from, it has to perform well. With bamboo the weight of the material itself affects the rod action more than fiberglass or graphite. It's critical that the tapers be worked out carefully and tested to insure that the rod performs well.
One great thing about bamboo is that you can actually build your own blanks. That gives you the ability to experiment with different tapers and develop a rod action you prefer. Most of us can’t do that in graphite or fiberglass. (My good friend Don Morton has done some exciting things in designing new graphite rod tapers, but most of us can’t do that. Lamiglas and St. Croix Loomis are able to design tapers.) But if you only build on blanks that someone else creates, then you’re stuck with what they design.

Why bamboo? Well, for me, I prefer bamboo to graphite for the same reasons I like old flintlock black powder rifles with bird’s eye maple stocks more than new composite stocked engineering marvels. I like over and under shotguns more than pumps or automatics. The flintlock isn’t any better gun than the Weatherby. Neither is the Parker Shotgun any better than the Remington. In fact sometimes there’s a disadvantage to a flintlock rifle or a Parker over and under. But, and this is important to me... they are better for the soul. Silly, well maybe, but I still have a deep reverence for natural materials, fine craftsmanship, and labors of love.

Modern fabrication, materials and big businesses are great for efficiency and practicality, but that is not why I like to fish. I fish because I enjoy it. And bamboo is not necessarily better than graphite. It’s just that I like it better.

Here’s another analogy: Do you remember when we you were young and foolish and you would build book shelves out of cinder blocks and pine 2x8's? Lets compare that with a fine antique book shelf, like a Stickley cabinet, or an Ethan Allen hutch.

How do we compare the two approaches, what are the criteria which we judge?
Strength....... 2x8 wins, hands down
Portability..... 2x8's win again
Performance .... well, the 2x8 bookshelves hold books just as well as the Stickley hutch.
Cost............. priced any Stickley furniture lately? Again, 2x8's win.
Aesthetics......... Ahhh, there’s the rub
Why do we buy Ethan Allen hutches and Stickley cabinets? They lose on most judging categories. We buy them because they look so good, and they don't present a significant disadvantage in our day to day use over the 2x8. That is why I choose bamboo. Not because of any perceived technical advantage of bamboo over graphite. I choose bamboo because it does the job quite well, and I like it better.
So what are the drawbacks of bamboo?

Is bamboo weak or fragile? Well, let’s do an experiment.... Hammer bamboo through pine 1x4. Try the same with Sage.

Is bamboo slow? Compared with some graphite rods it might be. But the heart of any rod is in its taper. I think I could successfully argue that very usable bamboo tapers can be developed for all stream fishing.
Now at the same time, I’ll be very up front and say that I believe in almost all saltwater fishing, the advantages of graphite rods are obvious. I do have a 9 weight bamboo rod, and a graphite 8 weight, but if I were exclusively a saltwater fisherman, I would fish graphite.

Is bamboo expensive? Well, yes it is. But I have lots of friends who price their rods not much higher than top end graphite rods. My rods are more expensive than factory graphite rods. But they’re not any more expensive than say, Tom Morgan custom made graphite rods.

Bamboo's greatest drawback, bluntly, is its weight. It's usually heavier than Graphite or even Glass. But is that weight always a real disadvantage?
One explanation basically relates to physics and the well known equation that e = mv2. that is: energy equals mass times the square of velocity.

A bamboo rod has more mass than a synthetic fiber rod. Therefore, it can impart the same energy to the line at a lower line speed. It is therefore possible to achieve the same power in a cast at a lower line speed, particularly in shorter distance casts where the line is a lower proportion of the total mass and also for lighter weight rods where the difference in mass may be significant. The slightly lower line speed required allows the fisherman to concentrate more on presentation and accuracy and have less false casting than required with a graphite rod where line speed is essential to successful casting.
Rod companies have sold the story well that high line speed is an important asset, but they fail to mention that that high line speed is at least partially required to overcome the lessor mass of the rod.
Here’s another experiment for you. I have here four different hammers. If I wanted to drive a nail through this board, which one is the best tool? Well, this little hammer is too light. Not enough mass to do the job. I can get more speed with it than with any of these others. Same for the plastic hammer. On the other hand, this sledge hammer is so heavy that using it all day would wear me out. The carpenter’s hammer is just about right. It has enough weight to do the job efficiently, yet is still light enough that I can use it without wearing myself out. In some ways, the extra weight of a bamboo rod might just be an advantage.

So our original question comes back to us: Why Bamboo? I like the feel of the mass in the bamboo rod when casting. You can achieve a higher velocity using a lighter hammer, but a heavier hammer often feels better and can be less tiring and less work. You still gotta overcome the same forces to drive the nail - to throw the fly line. I don't often fish where I need longer than 50 foot casts. More like 20 to 40 feet. Again, in saltwater applications, graphite may well do the job more efficiently. But when stream fishing for trout, I see no real disadvantage to bamboo. If a nine foot 5 weight graphite rod weighs 3 ounces, and an eight foot five weight bamboo rod weighs 4 ounces, that’s not that big of a deal to me. Maybe it's a macho thing, but I somehow manage to carry that extra ounce or two around all day without falling over. As someone has said, some folks aren’t man enough to carry around that extra ounce.

Will most of you, or even many of you, wind up with a burning desire to make bamboo rods? Probably not. My hope is that you will see that there is great potential for making fly rods, and even light casting and spinning rods. If you’re looking for rods for dragging tuna up from the depths, bamboo might not be the best choice. But for delicately landing tiny dry flies in mountain streams, bamboo is fantastic.

(Most of you are custom rod builders.) When someone asks you about bamboo you want to be well-informed enough to talk intelligently. A couple of things come to mind.

1. Don't be afraid of a bamboo rod. (People want to treat them like Faberge eggs.) They are no more fragile than a good graphite rod. This is the most important tip.

2. Treat a cane rod like a good gun. Make sure its clean and dry when you put it away. Store it in a dry place. Once a year give it a coat of paste wax. If something goes wrong, take it to a competent professional for repair.

3. You shouldn't bend a cane rod in a circle like you can do with a graphite rod. That will damage it. In other ways it is tougher than a graphite rod.

4. If you have an old bamboo rod, take it fishing sometime. Of course, if its an old Montague or Horrocks-Ibbotson, it wasn't really made to cast like we cast now, but to swing wet flies in the current, or live bait. The point is, enjoy it.

5. Finally, if you’d like to try a modern bamboo fly rod, it’s easy enough to do. Just invite me to come fishing with you some time, and I’ll bring rods for both of us. Or stop me anytime, and I’ll string one up for you to try.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Services for Ginger Bruce

Funeral Services for Ginger Bruce
January 12, 2010

Ginger Bruce was my friend. Whatever words I say this morning will not heal the hurt we feel. The only words that provide lasting comfort are the words of Scripture: Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted... Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.”

Ginger was my friend. Proverbs 17:17 states “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Proverbs 18:24 “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 27:6 “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
Proverbs 16:28 “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.”
And in John 15:13ff Jesus says “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father, I have made known to you.”

I count myself blessed to have enjoyed the company of several real friends in my life. Richard Scogin, Amber Martin, Annabel Mize, Chuck Dowden, James McLemore, my beautiful Tami, and a few more. Let me add Ginger Bruce to that list. She was my friend.

We worked together for about six or seven years at First Baptist Church where she was the Church Secretary and I was the pastor. Each morning when I arrived we would drink a cup of coffee together. During coffee break we would have another. And we would talk. Just talk. Usually nothing deep, or serious, or significant. Just chatter. Of course we talked about things like bulletins and budgets and newsletters.
But we also talked about her hopes and dreams for you – her family. She would tell me how well Luke had done on his spelling tests. “Well, Luke got a 100 on his spelling test yesterday.” She believed in you, Luke. She wanted the very best for you. If she could be here to comfort you today, she would.
We also talked about things like how hard Larry was working to earn his real estate license. Never once did she ever have anything negative to say about you. Not even once. Her love for you was fiercely devoted. You were blessed to have her for nearly 40 years.
We would talk about Allison and Brad and Joanie and of course she would tell me about those sweet grandchildren.
We walked together through the illness and loss of her father, and her worries about her mother. She was a fine daughter and you know if she could prevent you the grief you face she would.
We talked about her love for Temple Church and the people who are Temple. She would tell me what Don or Ms. Ruth Cuny had taught on Sunday. She told me about the songs and the sermons. And just for the record, Jason... she REALLY enjoyed your preaching. Members of her various Sunday School classes would regularly stop by for coffee and just to visit. Sharon, LeaAnn, Janet, SheBobby and a bunch of others. You were more than friends to her... you were the sisters she never had.

She loved, and missed, her work at Commonwealth. She spent 19 years there and was hurt deeply when that business closed. But her co-workers there, and even her customers there, remained among her dearest friends.
She loved the folks at First Baptist. While her loyalty to Temple as a member never once wavered, she was faithful and forthright as she could possibly be to the people at First Baptist and her job as Church Secretary. She gave you her very best, and that’s all anyone can ask.

And she did love the Lord. Ginger was never a procrastinator. She always got her work done as soon as she could. Time after time I would walk in on her when she had a few minutes free time and catch her reading her Bible. We talked for hours about what Jesus meant here, and how what the people of God experienced in Biblical days reflected what we face in the 21st century.

She was my friend. And yours. I miss her already, as I know you do. But we are comforted in knowing that today she is in the hands of God. And you can find comfort in knowing that you did your very best for her during her illness. You were there for her. You gave her the best in medical care. You loved her and she loved you.

Know that God hurts with you today. When you hurt, He hurts. And He will be beside you each day as you grieve.