More Jackson County Opinions...

NOVEMBER 19, 2003


By:Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
November 19, 2003

Slow down, read the sign
Some folks go to church every day of the week. There’s Sunday school on Sunday, followed by morning and evening worship services. Men and women’s small group prayer breakfasts start the day Monday. The finance committee (or one of the umpteen other groups) meets Tuesday night.
Wednesday is set aside for prayer meeting and Bible study — after the family night supper. Choir practice is Thursday. The visitation committee meets at the church Friday night, then goes out two by two into the community. Saturday is reserved for the chicken mull, fish fry, barbecue, fall festival and yard sale.
Saturday may also be your day to mow the grass and help clean the facilities.
Some folks, of course, have never darkened the doors of church, and won’t ever until they are carried in a box. But they go by churches every day. On their way to work, school, the store, the mall, or just riding around in their toy, they go by one or more churches.
My advice to them is to slow down and read the sign out front. If you aren’t able to read the entire message on the first pass, stop, turn around, go back and finish the message. It might be something that changes your life, lifts your spirits or turns a bad day into a good day.
Some of the best sermons you’ll ever see (or hear) are on that sign in front of the church. If you pay attention, you’ll get the point in less than a minute. You won’t have to sit in a pew for an hour and associate with all those folks you think are hypocrites.
At church we love and honor our pastors. We brag on the choir. We appreciate our Sunday school teachers. We thank the ushers, the lady who fixes the flowers, and the keepers of the nursery.
Now, let’s hear it for the people who faithfully change the signs out front every week. They probably reach more people with life-changing truths than all the rest of us put together.
It’s past time for me to say “thank you” to the sign changer at the Bethany United Methodist Church in the Brockton community. I’ve been “laying off” to do that (write this column) for months. (“Laying off” is Tennessee talk for planning to, aiming to, fixin’ to, going to directly, etc.) I apologize, Vickie Dillow, for taking so long.
Vickie has been doing the signs at Bethany for about four years. If she changes it once a week, that’s 52 different messages in a year, or 208 in four years. Where, how, does she come up with so many good ideas?
“I get inspiration from many places,” she said. “I have both bought, and received gifts, books with inspirational messages or positive quotes. I frequently receive e-mails from friends with sayings they may have seen or heard.”
Vickie lives on Danlow Drive, Jefferson. Her home is 17 miles from her workplace, the Athens Regional Rehabilitation Department, where she has been office manager for 19 years. Her 34-mile commute every day adds up to a lot miles, and Vickie uses the distances and time to think, meditate, pray and think about what she will put on the Bethany sign this week.
“As I travel to work and other places, I always have a pen and paper handy and look for interesting signs.
“And quite often I’ve received messages from Hulon’s sermons. He’ll say something that will ‘click’ with me and I write it down.
“Two of my favorites that have had a great impact on my life were quoted by Hulon several times from the pulpit. They have to do with attitude.
“Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching.” and “Attitude: 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.”
After 24 years as Bethany’s pastor, Hulon Hill retired in June. Johnny Ray is the new pastor, and Vickie is now jotting down his inspirational quotes that “click” and impact her life.
Among the sign changer’s favorites over her four-year tenure are these:
“Be fishers of men. You catch ‘em, He’ll clean ‘em.”
“Happiness comes from wanting what you have, not having what you want.”
“I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life, but God gave me life that I might enjoy all things.”
One of Vickie’s favorites is also one of mine. I was traveling west on the highway between Nicholson and Jefferson. I rounded the curve and started up the hill. The steeple of the church came into view, and I knew that Vickie’s sign was next.
It was a dreary Thursday morning, and I was feeling about as low as I’ve ever felt. If it was not depression, it was the next thing to it.
The retina in my left eye had become unglued (detached) and surgery to fix the problem was only partially successful. After several trips to the Eye Consultant of Atlanta at Piedmont Hospital, I was convinced that I would never again see well out of my left eye. (I didn’t bother to appreciate or be thankful for 20/20 vision in my right eye.)
I was feeling very sorry for myself when I came upon Vickie’s sign of the week. “For better vision, look with your heart.”
I’ve passed by Bethany church hundreds of times since then, and I always slow down or stop to read the sign. And I always remember one of her favorites — and mine — from a bygone time. “For better vision, look with your heart.” I can see a lot better now.
And like Vickie, I always have a pen and paper handy. As I go by a church, I jot down any message that grabs me. For example:
“I will replace my fear with faith that God is always present, offering direction and strength in all situations and circumstances.”
“Faith is daring the soul to go beyond what the eyes can see.”
“Marriage is our last, best chance to grow up.”
“Liberty means responsibility. This is why most men dread it.”
“God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.”
I saw this last one years ago on a church sign in Dublin, Ga. I didn’t get it at first, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made to me.
“Disciple, call home.”
There are also church signs by the side of the road. This one just south of Tate on Highway 53 gives directions to “Four Mile Baptist Church, Two Miles.”
Anytime you approach a church, slow down and read the sign. You never know what it will do for you.
Virgil Adams is a former owner-editor of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index


Comments From The O-Zone

By: Oscar Weinmeister
The Jackson Herald
November 19, 2003

‘Blind Spot’ Causes Headaches
As long as I can remember, I’ve had what I think of as a moving blind spot whose symptoms manifest only when I happen to be looking for something. I’ve noticed, too, that the propensity for the appearance of that blind spot increases if I am looking for an object at the behest of a loved one.
Consider this hypothetical case:
My wife Amy says, “Honey?” And immediately I know a plan has been formulated that will require effort on my part.
“Yes, dear?”
“Will you look in the closet and bring me the Benadryl?” And now I know there’s clear and present potential for mission creep and pretty soon I’ll be looking for the dropper and measuring out 5 ml and then washing the dropper and while I’m there, putting the dirty dishes into the dishwasher, which means unloading the clean ones and putting them away. By that time someone will need me to fix food.
“Which closet?” I ask honestly.
“The hall closet.”
“You mean the hall closet by our bathroom?”
“Yes,” with a slight undertone of consternation.
“It’s not in the basket, is it?” The “basket” is an infamous repository for an innumerable quantity of items that have no business being displayed where they are either visible or easily retrievable. As a matter of fact, we have several “baskets” in our house. If I am asked to deliver something that is allegedly located in the “basket,” I know I will have to squeeze the whole container from in between shelves, knocking over other items, and after rooting unsuccessfully for five minutes, I’ll resort to dumping the contents onto the floor and sifting through them to conclude that the object of my expedition was not in fact stored in the “basket” after all.
“I don’t think it’s in the basket,” is her measured reply, calculated from experience to dissuade me from arguing against the merits of the “basket-system” of storing things, which is a tactic I’ve used to prolong my fleeting time on the couch.
“Benadryl?” I say, finally finding my feet.
“And the dropper, please, if you can.”
So there I am, alone in the hallway, with the light glaring into the closet to minimize my chances of failure, and I proceed to methodically scan each shelf starting at the top, making a mental inventory of each item on my way down: cleaning stuff, more cleaning stuff, 13 bottles and cans of cleaning stuff. OK, medicine shelf, baskets.
There’s the Tylenol, the daytime PediaCare, the nighttime PediaCare, the band aids, the ear swabbers, the cleaning pads, and so much other stuff crammed in there that it’s mind-boggling. Not seeing the Benadryl right off, I pull out the baskets and go through the dumping routine described above.
Later, with a slight undertone of consternation, I call across the house, “Sweetheart, do you by any chance remember where in the closet the Benadryl is?”
“It’s on the shelf with the Tylenol,” like I didn’t know enough to check there.
“I’ve looked, and it’s not here. Do you think it’s in the kitchen?” I say, walking determinedly into the kitchen. Then I rummage noisily but unsuccessfully through the drawers where Benadryl has been found before.
After 10 minutes, my wife will surrender and abandon whatever she is doing. She will meet me back at the closet, where without delay she will stretch out her hand and pluck the Benadryl from the shelf where it was sitting right next to the Tylenol, label facing out. With the most pleasant demeanor imaginable, she will hand the bottle to me.
“Oh,” I say. “Have you seen the dropper?”
Oscar Weinmeister is the assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.
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