As Eric’s name was mentioned, Terry said proudly, “That’s my boy” with a big smile on her face. We are enjoying some good teaching from ‘a distant land’

18 Mar

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TJ’s 1st Chinese wedding; puzzle presents challenge; remembering Alabama friends

Good News is so much better than all of the stories that are around us each day, and that is true wherever we live.

Open doors provide occasions for much thought and guidance, and, for each, we are thankful. Life is like a puzzle: difficult to accept or appreciate or navigate until it comes into a particular focus.

Then it makes all the difference in the  world. It becomes clear.

We are thankful for open doors here and good news is being shared weekly…working on the puzzles of life and finding the focus.

We were listening to a lesson by Marvin Bryant Sunday morning when he referred to our son Eric’s presentation the previous week (when Eric filled in with Marvin out of town). As Eric’s name was mentioned, Terry said proudly, “That’s my boy” with a big smile on her face. We are enjoying some good teaching from ‘a distant land’ because of the internet.

Had a flashback moment from the past: was fixing a peanut butter and strawberry sandwich to stabilize my blood sugar and saw a stalk of bananas on the table.

A few years back, I remembered how daddy liked peanut butter and banana sandwiches, so I decided to try one again. It tasted great, but kept sticking to the roof of my mouth and was impossible to chew and enjoy. Not tempted to try it again, but a nice memory to experience in China, anyway. 🙂

I did the same thing many years ago as a 27-year old. I saw a can of sardines in the grocery store and decided to get one, with a RC cola and some tobasco and crackers…to recreate those times when we would enjoy those items with my granddaddy behind the garage on those weekends when we’d go help him with some special tasks.

It did not taste good at all…making me wonder if I really ever did enjoy it. I know it was great to be with granddaddy…in person way back when and in my mind often these days.

Things we hear every day: Firecrackers, music each morning and evening from loud speakers waking up the children, lots of drivers honking their automobile horns, neighbor’s talking and music playing through ‘paper-thin’ walls, and a rooster early each morning. The drivers aren’t really honking at each other ‘to get out of the way.’ It is more like they just want to make those ahead of them know they are in the area and ‘to be aware of them.’ No anger. No anxiety. Just know that I am here, too.

Things I see most days: older retired men and women on our campus at 7 a.m. exercising and meditating on the badminton courts on our campus; older grand-parents taking care of the little ones so the parents can go to school or teach classes.

For all of my adult life, I have said to those who have visited our house at meal time that “if you don’t find something you like, just let me know and we’ll get out the peanut butter and jelly.” I have never liked ‘food fights’ in my house, having seen them at other times and in other places. (I have added to that phrase in later years for my grandsons: “if you have something you like for a meal, eat a good amount…you might not like what is planned for the next meal”).

Little did I know that this ‘comfort food’ would provide such a treat for us here. Not only is it protein, it is also quick and simple. We have finally found peanut butter in the area and are well supplied, especially since our first package contained some.

I heard two familiar words (“first call”) from Terry tonight a few minutes prior to supper being served. Those in the Davenport household grew up knowing those words meant one thing: supper is just 3-5 minutes away, so stay close and be ready to come to the table. The only thing better: “second call,” which meant to immediately come to the table with your hands clean, ready to eat. It sounded good to hear them again.

I told the English Corner students tonight that “I cry at night” since I am missing March Madness in America…and I wake up the next morning and find that and NCAA lets it be shown internationally via the internet. WOW! And I have also discovered ESPN Radio. Let’s go SEC!

Choosing Character — The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and      controversy. The supreme test of goodness is not in the greater but in the smaller incidents of our character and practice; not what we are when standing in the searchlight of public scrutiny, but when we reach the firelight flicker of our homes; not what we are when some clarion-call rings through the air, summoning us to fight for life and liberty, but our attitude when we are called to sentry-duty in the grey morning, when the watch-fire is burning low.

It is impossible to be our best at the supreme moment if character is corroded and eaten into by daily inconsistency, unfaithfulness, and besetting sin.

Mark Twain’s advise?  Always do right; it will gratify some people and astonish the rest.

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.

Billy Graham often says, “Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys.”

Our character is simply a life in which all virtues and graces have become fixed and solidified into permanence as established habits. It costs no struggle to do right, because what has been done so long, under the influence of grace in the heart, has become part of the regenerated nature.

Character is not made in a crisis.  It is only exhibited in a crisis! A flaw in one’s character will show up under pressure.

One of his principles was that we are to be concerned more with our character than with our reputation, because our character is what we really are, while our reputation is merely what others think we are.

Tom Landry, the legendary football coach of the Dallas Cowboys, said “I’ve seen     the difference character makes in individual football players. Give me a choice between an outstanding athlete with poor character and a lesser athlete of good character; and I’ll choose the latter every time. The athlete with good character will often perform to his fullest potential and be a successful football player; while the outstanding athlete with poor character will usually fail to play up to his potential and often won’t even achieve average performance.”

If you cheat in practice, you’ll cheat in the game. If you cheat in your head, you’ll cheat on the test. You’ll cheat on the girl. You’ll cheat in business. You’ll cheat on your mate. Sow a thought, reap an act. Sow an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.

Today our culture is far less likely to raise up heroes than it is to exalt victims, individuals who are overcome by the sting of oppression, injustice, adversity, neglect or misfortune. … Success, as well as failure, is the result of one’s own talent, decisions and actions. Accepting personal responsibility for victory, as well as for defeat, is as liberating and empowering as it is unpopular today.

The late C.S. Lewis said that people can ask only three basic ethical or philosophical questions. To describe them, he used the metaphor of ships at sea. When sailing      ships leave port to embark on a journey, sailors must determine three things, according to Lewis.

First, they must know how to keep from bumping into one another. This is a question of “social ethics.” In other words, how do we get along with one another on this journey called life?

Second, they must know how the individual ships remain seaworthy. This is “personal ethics,” and it deals with the individual’s vices and virtues – with character.

Finally, sailors must decide where the ships are going. What is their mission and their destination? This last question is the ultimate one for us. What is the purpose of human life? Why are we here? Bob Hope once said, “If you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.” When some one mentions the word “charity,” we usually think about giving material things, such as food, clothing or money, to needy people.

However, the book “Hope Again” contains a true story about Tom Landry, the great coach of the Dallas Cowboys, and the late Woody Hayes. The story illustrates a different kind of charity, but real charity nevertheless.

Years ago, Woody Hayes was fired from his job as coach of the Ohio State football team. The reason Hayes was fired was that he struck an opposing player on the sidelines during a football game. The press had a field day with the firing, and piled criticism and shame on the former Buckeye coach.

(I was a sportswriter at the time and in charge of laying out and planning the sports pages the next morning at the Chattanooga News-Free Press. I arrived around 4:45 a.m. and was shocked that Hayes, who had struck the Clemson player on his sidelines around 11:15 p.m. the night before, as Ohio State University was finishing its game, had already  been fired. It was quick under any circumstances, considering his stature in the state and at the school).

Few people could have felt lower than Hayes felt. Not only did he publicly lose control of himself and do a foolish thing, but he also lost his job and much of the respect others had for him.

At the end of that season, a large, prestigious banquet was held for professional athletes. Tom Landry was invited, and he could bring a guest. Who did Landry take with him as his guest? Woody Hayes, the disgraced man everyone was being encouraged to criticize and scorn.

The game of football has rules against piling on someone who has been tackled. The reason for those rules is simple: prevent needless injury to the player who is down. The world would be much better if we actually lived by such rules. But when someone makes a mistake or is going through difficult times, one of the first responses of many people is criticism and gossip. Another response is to shun someone who is down. Either response  piles on more pain–needless pain.

Tom Landry did not pile needless pain on Woody Hayes. Landry had charity in his heart. Charity, in the form of mercy. So Landry reached out with mercy to help a fallen man get up and begin climbing the hill back to a mended life.

So remember two things. First, instead of piling on the pain when someone is down, be merciful. Apply the principle in the Good Samaritan story that Jesus taught– to be the one to come to the aid of one who’s fallen, not one who passes by on the other side of the road– and help fallen people up the hill they have to climb.

The second point is that there is an interesting thing about hills. When you help a person up a hill, you find yourself closer to the top, and the better it will be when you need mercy. Yes, we all need mercy.

Link at Lulu for my book:

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Posted by on March 18, 2011 in Jingzhou


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