Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A Box of Chocolates?

“Not that I speak from want, for I’ve learned to be content in whatever circumstances I’m in” -Phil. 4:11 Forrest Gump’s mom said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” It does seem that when everything is settled and under control, things change. One thing is for sure, if we place our security in insecure things, we’re not very secure. I don’t think God is necessarily into change, but He is totally into growth. What we run to when things are changing makes all the difference! Like an episode from the Andy Griffith Show, I had an unexpected adventure this past Sunday. I was dressed and prepped to leave for church when, from the kitchen, Jeanie ask an unusual question, “What kind of animal is that in the backyard?” Like a scene from a movie, everything began to move in slow motion. I looked out the window and a sickly thin possum was staggering across our back yard. Immediately, my brain kicked into gear. Possums are night creatures and only hang out in the daytime if they’re sick, rabid or really hungry. As I darted into the backyard, I had one thing in mind, our yellow lab Sammy. I knew she would instinctively attack the possum and that a sick possum could do harm to her. As I ran out the back door toward the possum, here came Sammy from the garage, flying across the backyard. I tried to tackle her, but, being 90 lbs, she knocked me over, into the grass and the dirt of our yard. She ran near the possum to sniff, but then backed away. I shooed her away and with a rake pushed the possum onto the other side of our fence. It scurried away. The slow motion ended and I began to breathe again. My hands were cut from the fall. My clothes were ruined and I had to be at church in 15 minutes to help lead the first service! “Iron my other pants!” I yelled to Jeanie. She told me later she was laughing at me from the window. It really must have looked funny! I scurried into the house, changed clothes and made the first service. I’m sure I had a stutter in my voice as I prayed and read scripture. The morning was nothing I expected. Life rarely follows our schedule. That’s how it is with chocolates. Some boxes tell you what kind of chocolate there is and where it’s located in the box. But most don’t. Why? Beause to the manufactures it all tastes great! “To a hammer everything looks like a nail.” To our loving God, every situation is an opportunity for us to learn dependence on Him. That’s the spin our loving God puts on our life experiences. Hebrews 5:8 reminds us that “Jesus learned obedience from the things He suffered.” He was willing to be submissive to his Father’s will, even to death on a cross. We too have the opportunity and choice to learn, or not to learn. May we run to our loving God when the crisis hits. May we surrender to our loving Savior when the change is great. May we go to Him when our security is compromised. Whatever the flavor of the chocolate, may we indulge in every bite. And let God be our strength. The possum’s are coming…. …ready or not. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.lifeaid101.com

Friday, August 2, 2019

The Staples Family Reunion- 2019

“Grandchildren are the crown of old men, and the glory of sons is their fathers” -Prov. 17:6 The concept of Family (with a capital “F”) is awesome. This past weekend, we had the Staples Reunion for the branch of one of Pelham Staples Sr.’s sons, Pelham Staples Jr., my dad. Thirty (give or take a few) of his son’s, grandkids and great grandkids gathered in San Antonio, Texas for a great time together. We had a lot of fun as we celebrated the legacy and heritage of the Staples family and the roots that continue to grow. We do this every other summer. Yep, it’s crazy and wild, but is so much fun. For many years, the Pelham Porter Staples Sr. family tree gathered in Roopville, Georgia, at the “old home place,” to share stories and just be together. I remember attending those reunions as a kid and then as a young adult. For a kid, it was a little boring but I loved meeting and seeing the “legends” of the Staples family. All the “old” people told stories and I listened and took mental notes. I sensed that those times were special. I could feel the roots going back for generations. But soon the aunts and uncles began to pass away, the old Roopville house was sold and the reunions ceased. But the seeds remained. And we’re doing our best to continue the legacy. It was so fun to watch all the great-grandkids being themselves. So many different temperaments linked by a similar family. They were happy and secure and free. And while the Staples family is far, far from perfect, it is mostly healthy. (“I’m a little mean, but I make up for it by being really healthy” –Earnest T. Bass. That’s for you Bob) It was a special time for lots of reasons: We saw loved ones in the great-grandkids. The Staples’ have a Scotch-Irish heritage. The tendency toward blond hair, blue eyes, high cheekbones and fair skin has left sunburns on the Staples family for generations! Watching the family interact was amazing as so many of the clan looked like each other. It was beautiful. We saw it in the temperaments and personalities too. Us Staples’ can be a little… hard-headed or, better said, confident. But the love of family prevails. We needed to visit about what we were missing. As we shared the weekend together, we reflected on the family members that have passed on. Dad passed away in 1988, Pel in 2013, Marc in 2015 and Mom in 2017. We have been through a lot of loss as a family. Being together and telling stories helped us all. We mourned the losses but embraced the gains, especially in the faces of the twelve great-grandchildren. We had fun. We spent a lot of time swimming, diving, riding roller coasters and just being together. We went to Sea World, the Alamo, the Riverwalk and all around San Antonio. Mostly, we just hung out together. Though we all came from different parts of the country, there was ease in being family. It was just good to chill out together. And to eat and eat and eat some more! The Mexican dinner at Pell and Heidi’s home was especially good! God was present. The Staples’ certainly have varying views on God and denominations. The early Staples clan had deep roots in the Methodist church. The old Methodist church in Roopville has the Staples name written all over it. But the Staples worship the God of all the churches, Jesus Christ. My dad, Pelham Jr., passed away in 1988. He has two symbols on his tombstone, the caduceus, representing his medical career and a cross, representing his faith in Jesus Christ. Definitely not in that order, because God was important to my father and is to the family as a whole. It was certainly a great time to be together. We all are so busy moving forward that sometimes we forget to look back. It’s easy to focus away from extended family. So often there are stones left unturned that make family gatherings uncomfortable. But making the choice to walk over the stones and embrace family is a beautiful decision. Yep, it's a long haul to South Texas, But I think everyone was glad they made the long trek to San Antonio. May we all make the decision to lean in to family: to call that long lost cousin or to visit that Aunt we haven’t seen in years. Root maintenance is always a good thing. It’s good for us all. It’s helps us understand ourselves a little better... …and gives our love to family. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.lifeaid101.com