It was just a harmless prank, that’s all it was. And it wasn’t as if Old Lady Hayes didn’t deserve it, the way she used to scream at us for ‘borrowing’ a few of her precious raspberries each summer … like we were stealing gold out of Ft. Knox. Well, she had it coming.
At least, that’s the way we saw it as George finished tying the string to the red, heart-shaped box. We giggled as Ron added the final touch: two plastic red roses, glued to the lid. ‘I wonder what will surprise her most’, I asked as George practiced jerking the box out of reach by yanking on the string. ‘Seeing a box of candy on her step, or watching it fly away when she tries to pick it up?’
We laughed as we watched George make Albert chase the box around the garage. For a chubby 10 year old, Albert did a good imitation of Mrs. Hayes’ hunched hobble and her seemingly permanent scowl. And, we howled when he picked up a broom and pretended to ride it through the midwinter air while shouting, ‘I’m Old Lady Hayes, the driedest-up old prune in the West!’
Ron was first to notice my dad in the doorway. Within seconds, Ron’s anxiety was shared by all but Albert, who continued to swoop around the garage until he came face-to-belt buckle with our silent observer. For a moment, the only movement in the room came from the little puffs of steam escaping our mouths. Dad broke the stillness by walking slowly to the empty candy box lying on the floor. He picked it up and dangled it by the string, watching it swing back and forth. Then he looked into the eyes of the frightened boys. And, as was his custom, he looked into our hearts as well.
‘It doesn’t seem so long ago that I was pulling Valentine’s Day pranks’, he said as he laid the box on a workbench. ‘One year, my cousins and I decided to pull one on our Grandma Walker even though we loved her … she was the sweetest grandma a boy could have. We were just feeling devilish and decided to have some fun at her expense.’
‘Early in the evening we snuck up to her doorstep with a can of red paint. Grandma was hard of hearing, so we didn’t have to worry about being very quiet. Which was a good thing, because every time we thought about how funny it was going to be to see Grandma try to pick up a valentine that was just painted on her doorstep, we couldn’t keep from laughing.’
‘It didn’t take long, and it wasn’t very artistic. But for an old woman with bad eyes, it would do. We kicked the door and hid behind the bushes. When Grandma finally appeared she stood in the doorway, her grey hair pulled back tightly in her usual bun, wiping her hands on her usual apron. She must have heard the commotion in the bushes because she looked in our direction and spoke loudly enough for us to hear: “Who could be knocking at my door?” Then she looked down. Even from 15 feet away, we could see the joy in her eyes when she spotted a splash of red at her feet. “A valentine for Grandma!” she exclaimed. “And I thought I’d be forgotten again this year!”
‘She tried to retrieve her prize. This was the moment we had been waiting for, but somehow it wasn’t as much fun as we expected. Grandma groped at the fresh paint for a moment. Slowly, she figured out our prank. She tried to smile. Then, with as much dignity as she could muster, she turned and walked back into her house, absently wiping red paint on her clean, white apron.’
Dad paused, and for the first time I noticed that his eyes were moist. He took a deep breath. ‘Grandma died later that year and I never had another change to give her a real valentine.’
He took the box from the bench and handed it to me. Then he turned and left the garage.
Later that night, a red heart-shaped box with two plastic roses on it was placed on Mrs. Hayes’ front doorstep by six giggling boys. We hid behind snow covered bushes to see how she would react to receiving a full pound of candy and nuts … with no strings attached.
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Last month, our crosses were carried through missionaries from Messiah Lutheran Church of Lakeville, MN to the cities of Yangon, Myitkyina and Putao in Burma as well as Miao in India. The mission trip was the 7th trip to Asia for the Project Video (PV) team, sponsored by mission-minded Messiah in 8 years.
We have featured Project Video before and you will remember that their mission is to proclaim the gospel through video throughout Asia. What a wonderful mission! Producing God’s word in the native tongue and presenting it to people who may not know how to read or write their language, who may never have heard the gospel before, who may not know anything about God. Imagine the impact!
While there, they brought recording and projection equipment to the Yangon and Myitkyina studios as well as dedicated two new Gospel Vision Ministry (GVM) studios: one in Putao located in the northern most region of Burma, targeting the Rawang and Lisu languages; the other studio (the first in India!) in Miao, located on land owned by the Lisu Church of Christ in Arunachal Pradesh, the largest state in NE India and where more than 135 languages are spoken in the district.
Rejoice in His goodness!!
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We are reminded of Your wants for us and how, sometimes, we fight against Your will because we think we know better, or maybe, because we’re afraid of the outcome. We forget that You hold the keys. You have the master plan already laid out. You walk with us at all times, involved in each and every decision we make. You are our Creator, our Architect, our Leader, our Magnificent One. We are mere shadows in Your presence.
You honor a generous heart and one that gives freely. Please help all of us to learn to give more and demand less. Give us the tools to do more letting go and less holding on. Please teach us to yield to Your sweet spirit of generosity. Take the reins from our hands and teach us to rest in that release.
We thank You for Your unending love for us all. Amen
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Easter season is fast approaching and we want to provide crosses for all those who would like to share them with others during this season. We ask that you put your requests in as early as possible so we are able to accommodate you. Thanks!
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We acknowledge and thank our CTW family members from January for sharing God’s love with others:
Messiah Lutheran Church – Lakeville, MN
Hope Lutheran Church – Fosston, MN
Birch Ridge Resort – Cass Lake, MN
Good Samaritan Society – Pipestone, MN
Community Lutheran Church – Bullhead City, AZ
Nancy – MO
Lutheran Home of the Good Shepherd – New Rockford, ND
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You wanted someone who’d listen to your most impossible thoughts …
I invented prayer
You wanted someone who’d write you sweet letters …
I gave you the Bible
You wanted someone who’d show you a simple magic trick …
I made miracles
You wanted someone who’d show you what life is all about …
I let you feel love
You wanted someone who was handsome …
I poured out my heart
You wanted someone who’d give up other things just to be with you …
I gave up my life
You wanted someone who’d take you places …
I invited you to Heaven
You wanted someone who’d be your forever …
I promised you eternal life