Friday, March 29, 2013

A chocolaty good Easter story

A worthy winner of my Choc-OUT contest
If you've followed my books, you know I'm a loyal Cadbury girl (Cadbury milk chocolate with almonds is one of my all-time faves!).

With Easter rapidly approaching, amid the lavish presence of the seasonal Cadbury Cream-filled Eggs, I thought it fitting and proper to share with you this awesome chocolaty, faith-inspiring story that I recently came across.

This is a story about a girl named Helen. Helen Cadbury, to be precise.

Helen was born in 1877 into a wealthy Christian family. Her grandfather, John Cadbury, and great uncle, Benjamin Cadbury, had founded a cocoa and chocolates company in Birmingham, England. Helen's father and uncle, Richard and George Cadbury, had then relocated and expanded the factory, and Helen and her seven siblings moved into Moseley Hall, an ancient estate with secret rooms and underground cellars, lakes and wooded acres, which was to be their home for much of their lives.

I picture a smaller version of Downton Abbey ... with a lot less drama.  

The entire household met before breakfast every day for ten minutes of Bible reading and prayer.

Then when she was twelve, Helen attended a street revival with her father, held in a poor section of the city. There, she felt a still, small voice compelling her, and she went forward at the alter call, a well-dressed rich girl among the poorest of the poor, to accept Christ as her Savior. From that day on, she had a new purpose in life: to share the joy and light of Jesus with her friends.

Helen began carrying her huge Victorian Bible to school, but because it was so clunky and cumbersome, her father gave her a small New Testament she could put in her pocket. Helen read from it to her friends every day, and led many of them to faith in Christ. Soon all the girls were sewing pockets into their dresses so they could carry the little Bibles and began calling themselves the Pocket Testament League. They gave out New Testaments to anyone who promised to read them. A policeman was one of the first in the community to receive Christ after being given a Bible.

The Pocket Testament League still exists today, over 100 years later, and has expanded into a world-wide movement, having given away over one hundred million New Testaments or Gospels of John.

So never let it be said that Papa God can't use any of us - including a little girl - in mighty ways. Helen Cadbury Alexander Dixon passed away in 1969 at the age of 92. And today I will enjoy a scrumptious Cadbury bar in her honor.

Won't you join me?  

Monday, March 18, 2013

You, Too, Can Be a Showstopper

Deb hoofing it through England
I was recently speaking to a mixed group of men and women of a church denomination rumored to be the "frozen chosen."

And sure enough, they seemed to be. Frozen. 

The kicker is, I'm a humorist, and so the point of my talks is to draw a smile from my audience. Maybe even a chuckle or a guffaw. Occasionally a profound belly laugh.

But nothing was happening here. A profusion of nothing, actually. One lady in the back almost showed her teeth. Once. But maybe that was a grimace. Or a hot flash.

And when I finished my most hilarious story, I think I might have heard a snicker. Or it could have been a snort. I felt like I was rolling around the toilet bowl in a slow flush, about to go down the hole of no return.

I had to remind myself that I couldn't really know what they were feeling, although their collective body language appeared to scream "catatonic." They did seem to be warming up as I kept hacking away at the granite that was their faces, and by the end, there were actually a few smiles. Not a lot, but a few. At that point, I was happy with crumbs.

To my amazement, as the fine folks filed by my book table on their way out, nearly all of them bought books and thanked me for coming. I couldn't believe how many times someone stood before me with a solemn expression and said something to the effect of, "That was wonderful. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time." 

Go figure.

Life is like that, isn't it?. We never really know the effect we're having on other people ... how much of us is rubbing off on our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors. They don't necessarily show it, but they're internalizing bits and pieces of us all the time. Just like we are of them. Little pieces that fit together like a puzzle to make us who we end up being.

And maybe one day, before the show's completely over, we'll take the opportunity to tell them how much a part of us they really are. How much they've meant to us. Because they probably don't know it from our poker faces.

And then we can slap each other on the backs and say, "That was wonderful. I haven't loved that hard in a long time."

Friday, March 1, 2013

Do It With All Your Might

A mighty banyan tree - love 'em!
I rushed into the women's restroom at the Plant City Strawberry Festival last year with five minutes to spare before my girlhood swoon faves, Air Supply (now grandfathers with gray hair but still singing just as swooningly), were to go onstage.

I noticed right away that this restroom was different. Unlike the grody, grimy, get-your-business-over-quick-and-flee-this-nasty-place fare we've come to expect from public toilets, this one actually gleamed.

It had, in fact, a sort of ethereal feel to it, if you can imagine as much from such an unlikely place. There was no black icky grime in the corners, no misplaced sprinkles or puddles on the floor, no graffiti on the stall doors. You actually wouldn't mind setting your purse on the spotless floor of your cubical, except that you didn't have to because all the hardware - door locks and purse hooks - were not only in place, but sparkling brightly.

A faint whiff of gardenias was in the air. And someone with a very pleasant voice was cheerfully humming. 

It was ... well, lovely. 

I momentarily forgot I was in the bowels of a county fair midway and thought, "Now this is the kind of place you'd like to kick back and stay for a while."

Upon exiting my stall, I noticed two white-uniformed attendants busily polishing counters and sinks and realized one of the ladies was the source of the lively humming that perked up the place. I couldn't help but comment about the surprising cleanliness of the bathroom. She smiled from ear-to-ear and said, "There's not a speck of dirt beneath, behind, or across our seats. You can go to any other bathroom in the whole park, and trust me, you'll come back here... we're the best!"

I left that bathroom grinning and uplifted from the obvious pride this woman took in her work. A scripture came to mind: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might," Ecc. 9:10.  

Whatever, it says. Regardless of the lowliness or loftiness of the job before you, do whatever it is with all your might. And be proud of the fruit of your labor. You will not only please your heavenly Father, but will be infused with a strengthening dose of self-worth and purpose.

I don't know about you, but for some reason, I'm suddenly in the mood to scrub my potty.