Wednesday, July 27, 2005

What you don't know won't hurt you

July 18, 2005
By: L.A. Kohl
(published in the Wed., July 27 edition of the "Bullseye") One view we enjoy around here is the view back in time…whether it’s watching “Little Women” on video, reading Laura Ingalls Wilder or Jane Austen books, or listening to grandparents tell stories about the good ol’ days. Several months ago, my aunt told a story that a friend of my grandpa’s told them long ago. We all got such a kick out of it, I thought I’d share it with you.

My grandpa’s friend owned a general store, and one day he went to another town to visit a fellow general store owner that he knew. When he walked into the man’s store, the owner was chuckling and laughing aloud, and said, “I’ve got to tell you about what just happened in here!”

It turns out that a lady had walked into his store a little earlier that day, carrying a small brown paper package. She meandered around a bit, but didn’t really seem to be shopping for anything in particular. The owner walked over to her and asked if he could be of any service.

“Well,” she began, “I had a nice batch of cream that I was intending to churn into butter today, but this morning I found a dead mouse in it. I threw the mouse out, but couldn’t bring myself to throw out all that nice cream, so I went ahead and made it into butter. It turned into some of the nicest looking butter, but I can’t bring myself to use it, when I think about that mouse.”

As the owner was worrying about what was coming next, the lady continued, “So, I brought my butter here to see if you would trade me. I don’t expect you to pay me for it, but I thought perhaps you could give me some of your butter in exchange for mine, and then you can sell mine, because what people don’t know won’t hurt them, right?”

The store owner pondered that for a moment, and then said, “Well, give me your butter.”

He took it in the back of the store, and came back a few minutes later with a new package of butter for the woman. She expressed her sincere gratitude and then left. That’s about the time the visiting store owner had walked in and found the man chuckling.

“But surely you didn’t trade her some of your good butter for her ‘mouse’ butter!” the visitor exclaimed in shock.

“For heaven’s sake, no,” the owner replied, “I just took hers in the back, re-wrapped it in some different paper, and gave it back to her; because I figured what she don’t know won’t hurt her!”

That was the end of the funny little story, but it made me think. Maybe that old saying is partly correct – what people don’t know won’t hurt them. But just remember next time you’re tempted to pedal off your mousey butter on some unsuspecting soul (or some other more modern form of deceit), there’s another old saying that you better keep in mind. What goes around, comes around! Or, if you prefer it a little more biblically; what you sow, you will also reap…dead mouse germs and all.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

We all have our moments...

July 16, 2005
By: L.A. Kohl
(published in the July 20, '05 edition of the "Bullseye")
We all have stories about the funny things our children say. They’re just so dog gone cute – these little tykes that are trying to figure out what words to use at the right moments. There’s even some old saying about “out of the mouths of babes." But I’m finding out that it isn’t just “babes” who come up with some hum-dingers!

Just recently, one of our teenagers (who shall remain nameless) came up with a good one. We were setting down in front of a movie, and for some reason one of the girls decided to ask, “What does DVD stand for?” just as those three letters popped up on the opening screen.

“Well, duh,” our occasionally clueless teen piped in, “it says right there ‘Pure Digital Magic’!”

Oh my – we all looked at her like, “what school did you go to?”

In her defense, she realized her acronym error in an instant, and burst out laughing with the rest of us. (Around here, we try not to laugh at anyone, just with them…so we were glad she joined in the laughter, because we just couldn’t hold it in!)

This is the same girl that made a similar quick assumption four years ago while we were in India. We were walking around this big town, trying to find some type of mailbox or post office to mail letters back home to the states. We weren’t having any luck, but all of a sudden our daughter caught a glimpse of a trash receptacle (about the only one we ever saw in the whole town.) Except she had “mail box” on the brain, and the only thing the little square, blue metal box said was “Use Me."

“Hey, that says “US Mail!” she quickly assumed.

Oh, sure. I can just see it now. Hey, there’s one that says “Japan Mail” and another one that says “China Mail” and by golly, there’s one that says “Timbuktu Mail!"

Okay, so once again she realized that she hadn’t quite spent enough time thinking about what it really said. (Who was her reading comprehension teacher anyway – shucks, homeschooling means you can’t blame anyone else!)

I should quit picking on that particular daughter and move on to another one who also has her fair share of “blonde moments” (like most of us do, regardless of our hair color.) But this particular one is a favorite of ours. We’ve gotten many chuckles out of it over the years.

It was a few years ago, and I had cooked a large bag of frozen, pre-cut chicken wings - using some new recipe that was a hit. The kids were counting them out, figuring out how many each person got. Problem was, after they ate their share and there were no more – they still wanted more because they liked them so much.

This brilliant, mathematical daughter lamented out loud, “If only mom had cooked one times as many, then we’d have plenty!”

Okay – so who was her math teacher, anyway? Ugh!

But alas, it’s time to draw these endless stories to a close, seeing as how the “Bullseye” has only given me one times as much space this week!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

How Our Flag Came to be...or NOT

July 6, 2005
By: L.A. Kohl
(published in the July 13. '05 edition of the "Bullseye")
It was the Fourth of July weekend…and we were returning from Columbia late one evening. Nate was having a hard time staying alert while driving, and the kids in the back were tired and arguing. I decided to “kill two birds with one stone."

“Hey Nate – why don’t you tell the kids a story?” I asked, figuring it would help keep him awake, and help quiet the younger ones.

Without hesitating a moment, he began this silly tale that for some reason I thought I’d share with all of you. Let’s see if I can retell it, in a condensed sort of way:

“Long ago, there was a small island by the name of Lahua-ua, that had a prince named Kalawala. Now the island had a long standing tradition, that before becoming king, a prince had to prove himself by performing some great and daring deed. Other princes of generations past had slain sharks, went exploring to distant islands and rode whales, among other things.
Now, our young prince Kawala-ala (as he was sometimes called) wanted to perform the greatest, most daring deed of all, so he announced to the people of Latuna-wooa (as it was sometimes called) that he was going to build a large ship and sail halfway around the world.

‘Oh great prince, how you be our king, if you on other side of world?’ the people asked.

‘Good point,’ replied Prince Kapatawana (as he was sometimes called). ‘Then I have to go all the way around.’

‘Ugh – that be much too far and long a trip!’ they lamented.

‘Not if I go south and sail around the bottom of world, where it be smaller,’ our wise prince replied.

So off he went one day, with a crew of sturdy natives, to begin his adventure.
As you may have guessed, the island of Lawua-hua (as it was sometimes called) was in the tropics, and none of the native Lawua-huaians had ever sailed anywhere out of the tropics. So, imagine their surprise one morning, after sailing past 45 degrees south latitude, when they woke up to a world of whiteness. Snow had fallen during the night!

‘Burrrra, buurrrraaa,’ all the islanders said through their chattering teeth.

But the snow was so fascinating and beautiful, they wanted to celebrate and play with it. Thus, all the natives dressed in red went to the stern, and all the natives dressed in blue went to the bow of the ship…and they had their very first snowball fight! The snowballs flying amongst the red and blue lads shone like bright white stars. And that is how our flag came to be.”

One moment please…what about Betsy Ross? Okay, so there’s a little more to the story.

“When Prince Kutua-ona (as he was sometimes called) returned to the island of Latuka-lua (as it was sometimes called) he married a young maiden. Her name probably should have been Princess Oolahua, or Princess Lana-wana, but alas – it was merely Elizabeth.
So, King Kaluawala and Queen Liz (as they sometimes came to be called) had many years of happiness together. They loved to tell the story of the king’s great adventure, especially the colorful snowball fight, to their children, who in turn told it to their children. Amongst those grandchildren was a young girl named after her grandmother, Elizabeth. Or, Betsy, as she was sometimes called.”

And now, THAT is how our flag came to be. Or at least, that’s a spur of the moment, fairy-tale version…just don’t go repeating it to your history teacher.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I'm Proud to be American

June 30, 2005
By: L.A. Kohl
(published in the July 6, 2005 edition of the "Bullseye")
By the time you read this, we will have just finished celebrating our country’s birthday. Many of you celebrated by playing ball, flying flags, eating watermelon, making homemade ice cream, and of course – watching fireworks. But amidst all that fun and recreation – did you take time to really think about what an awesome privilege and blessing it is to live in the “the land of the free and the home of the brave”?

I honestly hadn’t thought a whole lot about what a great country I was born into, until I left if for a season. Spending over two months in India a few years ago gave me a new appreciation for how much our nation is truly blessed. We are blessed with so many natural resources, diversity, physical wealth, spiritual and personal freedoms, and countless opportunities for ourselves and our children.

While in India, we befriended a “dhobi” – a man who washes clothes, by hand, for a living. He had a grown son. This dhobi had scrimped and saved until he had enough money to help his son go off to the big city and get educated in something other than washing clothes. Now the son had completed that education, but couldn’t find a job because his father, or no one he knew, could help “bribe” him into a position in that field…so, he was probably destined to return home and take up the trade of his father.

In America, if a person decides to flip burgers at the local fast food joint for their career in life – at least it’s their choice, and it wasn’t forced on them by a society that says you can’t try to do more, unless you’ve got the money to bribe your way up the ladder. Many can’t afford college, that’s true. But as Americans, we have scholarships, grants and student loans to help out with that. If college isn’t your thing, there are also many technical and trade schools to choose from. And there are small business loans available for those who are creative and gutsy enough to strike out on their own. My point is: the opportunities in our country are just so vast, compared to the rest of the world.

Here’s another thought…how many beggars do you see standing on your street corners? Sure – we’ve got homeless people that we occasionally see in Columbia standing at an intersection – but there is also a food pantry and shelters that they can go to if they get desperate. I’m talking about beggars on every street…not being able to walk through a city without having beggars follow you, or reach towards you, or pull on you. Beggars are almost a normal part of everyday life in most of the world – but America is so materialistically blessed that we rarely reduce people to that station in life.

I know that America’s not perfect. But thank God America is what it is. Many men and women over the past two hundred and thirty years believed in it so much that they fought and died for it. Not only that – but they believed in the concept of freedom so much that they fought and died so other countries could experience it, also. So let us not forget what a blessing it is to be an American, or forget Who it is that has blessed us so richly, lest we loose His blessing.