Rabid Fun

John Cowart's Daily Journal: A befuddled ordinary Christian looks for spiritual realities in day to day living.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Interruptions, Delays, Intrusions & Disruptions — Mostly Self-Made

Yesterday my telephone rang only once and no one visited at all.

Thus, without interruptions, I formatted 49 whole pages of those 16th Century Puritan diaries I’m editing.

That the sort of Super Hero writer I can be when not distracted by life.

Yesterday also, I read the blog of Pete, my e-friend in Great Britain. He had his whole evening planned when a pressing chore disrupted his intentions.

Boy! Can I identify with that!

My interruptions get interrupted.

But, how about this: my sneaky mind often seeks out those interruptions.

As a freelance writer for 25+ years, I subscribe to the axiom that the chief business of a writer is to avoid writing.

One of my favorite cartoons shows two sophisticated women in a coffee shop where one is telling the other, “I once got married to avoid writing”.

For 25+ years, first thing every morning, I write the previous day’s activities or thoughts and such in my journal (recently this blog). That practice serves as a springboard into the writing of the day. At least in recording my pervious day, I’m writing about something I know rather than something I have to think about and organize.

This practice tricks my brain into continuing to write the day’s work.

Unless I’m interrupted.

These interruptions can be internal or external.

For instance, yesterday I delayed my own writing by reading other people’s blogs. I followed a link to State Of Grace and browsed through 35 happy pages of her photo gallery looking at pictures of her super-cute dog, Malcolm.

Now, I do not know this lady nor her dog, but I welcomed the chance to view her site (really neat stuff, worth a visit) and I relished avoiding my own work.

I’m to blame for my own internal interruptions.

But other times, other people interrupt my planned work schedule.

My family, friends and neighbors know that I work at home and since I am only a writer and obviously at home doing nothing, I’m always available for a phone call or a visit. John can always pull his nose out of that book or get away from that computer to look for a run-away dog, or listen to a lover’s spat, or engage in idle gossip, answer a question, or pontificate about a problem.

These people who call or come by are external interruptions to my plans.

And, of course, I believe that the External Source of these interruptions is God.

Once I attended a business seminar and heard a successful pastor explain how to avoid “Time-Wasters”, i.e. people who interrupted the more important things on his desk.

He advised tactics such as using a phone answering machine to screen out the riffraff:

Thus my phone message ought to say:

“You have reached John’s Answering Machine designed to screen out riffraff. If you are riff, please press one. If you are raff, press two. All others, please hang up now”.

Another thing the efficient pastor suggested was to stand when an uninvited visitor arrives and to keep standing and moving toward the door to subliminally suggest to them that they should leave. —Now!

How discourteous!

And, of course, you should teach your secretary to flub off time-wasters by referring them to somebody less important than you are so they can waste that guy’s time instead of yours.

I found this preacher’s suggestions appalling.

An abomination.

Something a yankee might suggest.

Now I must admit that the techniques the pastor promoted worked for him; he had built one of the largest congregations in the Southeast. Thousands of people benefited from his sermons each week.

And a Scriptural precedent for such focus as he advocated does exist:

When Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem for the Jews, Sanballat, leader of the local pre-Arab militia, called for him to come down off the wall for a ceasefire truce and an important Mideast peace conference.

But Nehemiah replied, “I am doing a great work, so I can not come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it and come down to you”?

The preacher got his mega-church built. Nehemiah got his wall built. Neither brooked interruptions to their great work.

But I am neither priest nor prophet.

On a shallow level, in theory at least, I want my time and life to be 100 percent at the disposal of Jesus Christ — does He deserve anything less?.

Notice that I say, “On a shallow level in theory” because in actuality I’m as greedy, grasping, cruel, self-centered, lustful, depraved and willful as Attila the Hun or any other sinner you’d care to name.

But, even being the hybrid half and half sort of Christian that I am, I believe the Time-Wasters God allows to cross my path deserve my attention.

Maybe that’s why I get so little of substance done (Blaming it on Jesus sounds like a good excuse to me).

I attempt to avoid Time-Wasters by getting out of bed and getting to work early; I normally rise at 4 a.m. But even that does not always work; I’ve had visitors call that early hour. “We saw your light on and knew you were up so…”

So I attempt to be accessible —— within strict limits.

For instance, once when my youngest daughter was in crisis, a neighbor with tears streaming down his face knocked at my door saying, “Mr. Cowart, can you tell me how to be saved”?

For a rabid fundamentalist Christian like me such a question sparks!

Nevertheless I replied, “Yes I can, but not today. Come back tomorrow and I’ll help you”.

You mean my daughter’s well-being outranked this man’s eternal soul salvation?


I may well be wrong but I think my response was covered by St. Paul when he said, “If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel”.

Another limit that our children, friends and neighbors all know is that Ginny comes first with me. I may or may not be able to help others but God has appointed me the honor of being her husband she comes first. To me, that’s part of being at the disposal of my God.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church,” the Scripture says.

She entertains that same mindset and holds me in that same regard.

I suspect the reason she treats me like a king is that I try to treat her like a queen.

Makes for an interesting marriage.

We’ve noticed that good things can unbalance, disrupt and throw us off track as easily as bad things or even indifferent things.

Maybe that’s why God ignores my prayers about winning Lotto.

Maybe He thinks that having $19,000,000 to spend would interrupt my work.

I disagree.

But this posting is getting way too long and those 16th Century diaries await my attention… unless I can think of something else to do this morning.

I’m looking for an out to avoid writing.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:15 AM

Your comments are welcome: 6 comments

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Moving Green Things

TV weathermen forecast that Monday night the temperature here in north Florida would drop to 24 degrees, the coldest in several years.

Guess where midnight found me?

Outside in my robe and slippers moving Beauty’s tender plants into our house.

Now I know why she married me. To move outside green things in.

All plants eat dirt!


Barbara’s daughter is home from the hospital after the brain surgery. The family marveled that the operation only took three hours.

My mission in life is to spread joy, light and cheer to the downtrodden and desolate so I sent Mary a message of comfort and consolation:

“The surgery would have taken longer if you had a bigger brain”.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:30 AM

Your comments are welcome: 4 comments

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Silver Chair & Plain ol' Paper Clips

Friday night after dinning out, Ginny and I watched a video movie, The Silver Chair; it is the BBC production of an episode in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles Of Narnia.

Saturday morning after breakfast at Denny’s, we stood for a long time in the restaurant parking lot smoking and talking about how Lewis’s allegory related to our own Christian life.

Incidentally, once you’re grown up enough to read children’s books again, I think the Narnia books are the most helpful things I’ve ever read. I highly recommend them.

In The Silver Chair, the great lion, Aslan calls two young people from our world to his. He gives them four rules or signs to follow and assigns them the task of rescuing a lost prince. The kids undergo all sorts of adventures among marshwiggles and giants. They discover their task has implications far beyond just rescuing the enchanted prince. The fate of a world hinges on their actions.

As we stood in the Denny’s parking lot, Beauty and I discussed how Lewis’ worldview in this story relates to us.

It doesn’t.

Neither one of us is aware of any calling to do any particular thing.

Here’s a summary of our conversation:

Christ has given us no clear-cut task to perform. No giant to outwit. No witch to slay. No lost prince to rescue.

Our Christian life would be much easier if we had such a specific commission.

Now, I’ll grant that there are Christians who feel compelled to get a certain job done. Their experience is beyond mine.

I’m not aware of God calling me to zero in on any particular task.

For Ginny and me, the Christian life is much harder than that. Our life involves a relationship more than a task. What Christ said to us is not, “Get this job done” but rather, “Follow me”.

We feel as though we are spear carriers in the great opera. We provide background while the stars of the show perform. We’d stand in the role of Mr. & Mrs. Beaver in the Lion, Witch & Wardrobe, first of the Chronicles Of Narnia books. We chop wood, sew blankets, cook meals and dwell in our own snug, cozy little lodge waiting till we hear that Aslan is on the move, then we may be called upon to do some little something to move things along.

We’re just generic brand Christians.

Maybe like religious WD-40, our purpose is just to lubricate so things go smoother for working parts.

A pair of hawks circled high above the Denny’s parking lot as we talked.

We observed three elements in our Christian life:

First, the Lord God calls us to be a certain type of person.

“Be ye holy for I am holy,” He said.

We are to be honest. Forgiving. Sober. Transparent. Compassionate. Grateful. Chaste. Decent. Thankful. Helpful. (St. Paul’s letters contain whole laundry lists of things we are to be).

Yet, we find it is much easier to do than to be. Frantic religious activity gives us a sense superiority and purpose. Keeps us from thinking. Hides us from God.

We feel uncomfortable in the presence of holiness and mask our dis-ease by religious busy work.

Yet, Jesus also does call us to do certain things.

We are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, care for the sick, comfort the feebleminded, bear one another’s burdens, goody-goody stuff like that.

Curious thing:

Jesus once told the disciples, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father”.

We see this prophecy fulfilled daily.

In a single year a modern physician heals more sick people than Jesus did in his whole earthly lifetime. Any ophthalmologist brings sight to more blind people. Any tv evangelist preaches the Gospel to more listeners. At the soup kitchen I used to help out in, the cooks fed way more than 5,000 hungry people each month year in and year out.

But we are so accustomed to such ordinary miracles that we take them for granted.

So Beauty and I feel that while doing stuff does play an important part in the Christian life, it’s role is over emphasized.

Jesus said we should do such stuff in secret anyhow.

Don’t make a big deal out of it.

Do good then go away.

So, we observed that our life elements consist of being, doing, and, most importantly, following.

For us, that last one is where the faith hits the fan.

We live in as material, physical beings in a physical, material world and try to follow a supernatural Person without having a clear cut idea of what specifically He wants of us here and now, or where He is leading.

That’s tough on one level, easy on another.

Sometimes He leads us into brutal battle. No doubt about it, following Jesus can get you killed, maimed or, at best, humiliated. He tells us what to do but not the consequences of what will happen when we do it.

Jesus is sneaky that way.

When the kids in the movie freed the insane prince from his bonds, they could not be sure if he would attack them or befriend them. Their assignment was to free him whichever.

In one sense following Jesus leads us to where He is. The straight and narrow path leads beside still waters and green pastures to Heaven.

And, while Ginny and I are not aware of a specific task to accomplish, we do know there is a solid goal ahead — and that is not a place in Heaven!

The apostle John said, “Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is”.

The goal of the Christian life is nothing less than to become Christ-like!

St. Paul says that is the eternal purpose of the whole shebang!

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren”.

Why do I think this is an easy thing?

Because when we hang around Jesus, He sort of rubs off on us.

Like stroking a knife blade against a magnet, the blade is still a blade, it still cuts, but it becomes magnetized. A hammer heads still pounds nails but its internal alignment polarizes with that of the loadstone.

Following Christ works something like that. You are still yourself, but some internal alignment changes — you start to become Christ-like.

And this stroking and re-alignment is a life-long process till suddenly, in our last day, “When He shall appear, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is”.

Isn’t it more than a bit presumptuous to think that we shall someday become godly?

Yes, it is.

But that’s what God say He intends for us.

Maybe a knife blade or a hammer makes too strong an analogy. Think instead of a paperclip. It too can become magnetized and lift up other paper clips along with it.

The lowly paperclip does nothing of itself. The master magnet does the whole transforming thing. The paper clip has nothing to boast about. It is the recipient of this transforming magnetic grace — as are we.

Anyhow, I think that while few of us are called upon to rescue princes, we are all called upon to one day become princes. Princesses. A Royal Priesthood.

Yes, ordinary folks like you and me — Holy unto the Lord.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil. To give you a future and a hope”.

That’s cool.


In church Sunday the pastor, as he does each week, called for anyone celebrating a birthday to come forward and the congregation all prays a blessing for them.

Two ladies went forward. I assumed they were both my age or perhaps a little younger. Turns out they were mother and daughter.

The mother, who acted more lively and alert than I do, said she turned 94 last week!

Makes me feel old already.


Oh, the other movie we watched over the weekend was The Terminator. Great movie, but it didn’t generate as much theological speculation for us.

Although the concept of a relentless, inexorable evil being out to destroy you and everything you love at all costs may merit some thought.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 10:30 AM

Your comments are welcome: 1 comments

Friday, January 26, 2007

Packrat or Treasures Old & New

First, an update: I called Barbara last night and she says Mary survived Thursday’s brain surgery and appears to be doing well.


“Dad, do you have any old Egyptian-looking things; I need some things like that for a library display”?

“Well, I just happen to have a four-foot tall obelisk and a tee shirt with hieroglyphic text on it. I've got a First Century Egyptian oil lamp around here somewhere; I'll have to look in a box for that. How soon do you need this stuff"?

All the time people call me asking for odd things.

In the past couple of months different folks have asked to borrow:

An extension ladder, swimming pool shock, six hand puppets, chairs, folding table, a copy of Dark Night Of The Soul, charcoal grill, car jack, shirt with a pumpkin on the chest, a shovel, an ax, a shrimp net, eight forks, a cat carrier, and twenty “extra” dollars.

They call me for stuff because they know I’m a pack rat.

I keep things.

I hold on to things.

I preserve odd things thinking I’m going to have a use for them someday.

Need a bird nest? A snakeskin? A model of an Assyrian chariot? A bust of Jax London or Homer or Shakespeare or the Emperor Hadrian ? A dog skull? A statue of a naked lady? A World War I artillery shell? A model of the Titanic? A box full of assorted hats? Owl pellets? A mummified rat?

I’ve got it.

I accumulate things.

So it was no surprise when my daughter called wanting “Old Egyptian-looking stuff”. She knew I’d be likely to have something or the other like that on hand.

Ginny says we live in a museum.

I say the place has a certain ambience.

Jesus said, “Every scribe that is instructed unto the kingdom of Heaven is like unto a man that is a householder who bringeth forth out of his treasure things old and new”.

There’s the rub.

I feel that all I’ve been doing recently is dredging up old things, stuff dead as Tut. Rehashed ideas. I’m saying things I’ve said before again and again. Then repeating myself.

Nothing fresh or new or exciting.

My vision of the Lord God, high and lifted up, has faded till I’m relying on memory of visions past.

But memories of inspiring times in the past grow stale in the problems and challenges of the present.

Oh, I see wherein I’m stagnant. Every scribe instructed… brings out treasures.

I get so tied up thinking about what great wisdom I have to offer other people, poor souls, that I neglect being instructed of God for myself.

If a Bible verse means nothing to me, why should I pass it on to somebody else?

The Word is, “John Cowart, Seek Ye First…”

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:38 AM

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Regretted Flippancy

Not 15 minutes after I uploaded that flippant blog post yesterday Barbara called.

No, she had not read what I said; she called from her daughter’s hospital room because of a crisis.

We went out to lunch at Silver Star, a favorite Chinese restaurant, and as we drove Barbara told me the situation. Mary, her grown daughter has been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for lung cancer.

The treatments appeared to be successful, but the other day Mary suffered an episode resembling a stroke. Her doctor determined that her cancer has metastasized forming a large tumor in her brain.

Brain surgery is scheduled for tomorrow.

We’ll see what happens.

I wonder if I should give the gift of a colorful piece of art for Mary’s bedside table to brighten her hospital room?

I know just the thing…

On second thought, maybe that’s not such a good idea.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:31 AM

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Along The Way

Last week my youngest son Donald and I drove to the retirement home where Donald set up internet access, Mozilla Firefox, and helped set up a blog for our friend Barbara.

Please visit her brand new site at http://alongthewaybybw.blogspot.com/ and welcome her to the wonderful world of blogging.

About 25 years ago Barbara, a newspaper editor, read an article I wrote about family worship. She asked if she could join us for one of our after-supper worship sessions. From that moment on, she has been our whole family’s closest friend.

She’s now retired from the newspaper but during her career there she edited a magazine for teenagers, covered both hard news and features, edited the religion magazine and wrote a weekly column called Along The Way.

Her work won many prestigious local and national awards. The hallway into the newsroom was covered with plaques awarded to her.

Her Along The Way columns drew their strength and their popularity from her deep personal devotion to Christ and from her honesty in revealing her personal struggles along the way to her goal of walking with Him.

Barbara has lead many retreats and conferences for women and her presentations resonate with people who struggle with their own crosses and tragedies and hunger for a deeper Christian walk along the way.

Over the years she has inspired me, Ginny and our children with her life and insights into living with God in our day to day life.

Of course, like all other Christians (except, of course for me) Barbara has her blind spots.

One of them involves her lack of taste in fine art.

Oh, I know that she listens to Mozart and attends opera. Pictures of Monet’s water lilies and sketches by Rim Brant, DiVenchi DaVinchi DeVenche Michelangelo, or one of those other foreign guys decorate her apartment walls.

But her taste in art just falls short.

Poor lady.

Case in point; once I saw this exquisite statue which I bought Barbara for one Christmas thinking she would treasure it.

She didn’t.

The following year, she wrapped it in Santa paper and gave it back to me.

Knowing that this had to be an artistic oversight, the following year Ginny and I re-boxed the statue and returned it to Barbara again.

Then a dear friend of Barbara’s got married to a prominent and prosperous jeweler. Knowing that the happy couple appreciated fine art, Barbara gave them the stature as a wedding present.

It overwhelmed them.

Knowing that the security system in their beachfront estate would not keep such an art treasure safe, when they got back from their honeymoon in Paris or Jamaica or wherever, the bride returned the statue to Barbara.

But Barbara just does not have good taste when it comes to fine art.

She gave the stature back to me saying that she did not think it fit her décor.

Some people lack refinement.

I proudly display the stature on the pool deck in my garden

Here, for your envy, is a photo:

Anyhow, even though she has no taste in art (or friends) , please visit her new blog, Along The Way, anyhow.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 10:41 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Monday, January 22, 2007

Rooting For The Blue & White… Or For The White & Blue

Sunday Ginny and I thrilled to the early football game in which the Chicago Bears won over the New Orleans Saints.

Two excellent teams — both deserving Superbowl contenders.

Then we prepared to watch the second playoff game.

We draped a blanket over the sofa to snuggle under. We broke out the tv trays. We ordered carry out bar-b-que sandwiches and fries. We popped open cans of soda. We checked the tv schedule and changed to the channel showing the last playoff game.

Imagine our surprise to see only one huge team on the field — 22 players dressed in blue and white uniforms with white helmets.

No. Wait a second. There do seem to be two opposing teams. If you look closely, one team wears silver helmets that just look white. Oh, I get it. One team has blue pants and white shirts while the other team dressed in blue pants and white shirts… No. Some shirts are white and some are blue — except when there was a fumble and then all legs looked blue and white… or maybe it was white and blue.

Phooey on it.

Who needs such stupid hassle.

Doesn’t somebody in tv land ever think about how a game will look on an actual tv set?

We watched the jumble for ten or fifteen minutes then clicked off the tv and read murder mysteries all evening.

On Superbowl Sunday, I’m rooting for the Bears…

Assuming I can tell which team is the Bears.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:52 PM

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Snippets Of Conversation, Legacy Labels & A Request For Advice

In the 38 years we have been married, Ginny & I have only had one conversation.

It’s run for 38 years so far and still going strong.

Here are a few snippets from yesterday’s session:


My feet swell up during the day every day, so mid-afternoon I generally change shoes. That’s an everyday occurrence.

But this morning I noticed that my left hand had swollen also.

First time that’s happened.

I pointed it out to Ginny who said, “You’re getting old, John. Now the wrong part of you swells up”.

We laughed ourselves silly.


All I can say to that is, May the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, And Holy Spirit, rest upon the head of the man who invented Viagra.


Macular degeneration dims my eyes and degenerative arthritis pains my right hip joint continually.

Ginny says that means I’m a total degenerate from one end to the other.


The macular degeneration creates a tiny blind spot in my vision which I notice most when reading signboards along the highway.

Because I see the two ends of a word on a signboard, my own mind supplies the middle letters.

Makes for some interesting reading.

For instance there is a sign we pass often near an upscale community featuring many medical facilities. I always read that sign as saying, “Riverside Poultry Clinic”

I know it is there and yet I always wonder what a chicken veterinarian is doing in that upscale neighborhood.

The sign actually says “Riverside Podiatry Clinic”! I know it’s a foot doctor, yet I always question what a chicken clinic is doing in such an upscale neighborhood.

This morning I saw a billboard for an organization helping troubled girls. The organization, which I’d never heard of before, is called “Boost Up”

Naturally my mind filled in the blind spot.

It may say a lot about my mind, but I read the sign about this girls’ organization as saying, “Boobs Up”.


Besides swelling and sight problems, neither Beauty nor I hear as well as we used to hear.

Before our drive out to do errands, we discussed whether or not to take bread scraps by the park to feed to the ducks. We decided to wait for a warmer day, but that conversation must have hung in the back of my mind.

At the railroad crossing, a fast moving train delayed us.

Ginny said, “It’s moving so fast, it’s raising dust”.

“What,” I asked?

“That train is moving so fast it’s raising dust,” she said.

Puzzled as could be, I looked all around for the flock, expecting to see a whirl of wings and wondering how a train could be raising ducks???


“Pay Attention! This is foreplay”.

“That doesn’t even rank as three-play”.


Over a two-hour breakfast, Beauty revealed that Friday her office administration sent around a snide, demeaning e-mail to all employees requiring that a sign be posed on their computers whenever on break.

I composed a sign for her.

My sign reads:

I’m On Break.
Please Don’t Screw Anything Else Up While I’m Gone.
And No, Don’t Come Looking For Me; It Can Wait 15 Minutes!
I’ll Correct Whatever Mistakes You Managed To Make When I Get Back.

Ginny won’t post my sign, Instead, she applied for a job with another agency the same day that e-mail appeared in her inbox. If she gets the new job, I advised her to paper the walls she leave behind with scores and scores of awards, efficiency reports and her many commendation letters. That snide, demeaning e-mail is a childish display from a manager who should just have guts enough to fire offenders instead of sending blanket e-mails insulting everyone in the whole department.


When we returned home and put on our robes to relax for the evening, we checked our snail mail. As usual the postman had delivered a number of appeals letters from various charities wanting us to send money.

As usual, the charities enclosed gimmicks (calendars, mailing labels, gift cards, etc.) designed to guilt recipients into donating. One week we actually got 17 of these appeals. Organized charities need a lot of cash to be able to pay their directors $400,000 a year to care for the poor.

It makes little sense to me for us to give money to someone who earns more than we do. We prefer to donate directly to those who have less.

Anyhow, one of these appeals gimmicks specifically targets us old people.

It is a set of Legacy Labels:

Never heard of those before?

You are supposed to stick these labels on the back of furniture and such so that as soon as you die, your relatives can cart things off without much of a squabble over who was supposed to get what.

What a great idea!

These labels are self-sticking.

While Ginny fiddled with other mail, I pealed off this one label, went in the back room, and applied it:

When I came back and flipped open my robe to show her, she just about fell out of her chair laughing.

She said the Red Cross did not intend for their labels to be used that way.


On a more serious note:

Susan, an e-friend whose blog I have followed for months, asked for helpful advice in her January 20th posting (right after the birthday/Disney photos).

Her soldier husband serves us all in Iraq protecting us, while she serves us all by coping at home with their two lovely children.

Ginny and I spent some time discussing her post and praying. We sent her a comment, but we’re not satisfied that we said the right things. Please drop in on Susan’s blog and give her your input, comments and prayers.

This is a brave couple to be admired.

Susan’s blog address is http://colorsofsusan.blogspot.com/

Her husband stays busy fighting and does not post as often but his blog address is http://koolaiddavis.blogspot.com/

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 7:17 AM

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Reason # 387 To Buy My Books:

My librarian daughter e-mailed me this Unshelved cartoon for libraians. It shows another great use for my books.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:43 AM

Your comments are welcome: 3 comments

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Happy, Exciting Day In This Writer's Life

Thursday brought happiness and excitement into my usual dull drab existence.

I spent the whole day formatting those two 17th Century puritan diaries I mentioned earlier this month.

Talk about fun!

This kind of work puts me in my element. I relish it. I worked with scores of footnotes in tiny agate type. Since I am reformatting the pages, each footnote needed to be moved, renumbered and correlated.

Ran across a note from February 1st, 1596, in which Samuel Ward, one of the translators of the King James Bible, said, “Oh the grievous sinnes in Trinity Colledg, which had a woman which was carried from chamber to chamber on the night tyme. My adulterous dream that night!”

Oh those wild and crazy puritans!

Seems like I’m not the only Christian to be a dirty old man at heart.

I really love what I’m doing.

Such fun!

I'm elated.

This is a gift from God.

King Solomon said, "There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God...

"I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion".

Isn't that great!

Thinking of a different King:

Please don’t tell Stephen King about the books I’m preparing; I wouldn’t want the poor guy to loose sleep in worry about getting bumped off the Times Best Seller list by these diaries. Assure him that I’m not trying to compete for his position. Well, actually, I am. Let the better man win! I just hope he enjoys his work as much as I enjoy mine.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 9:14 AM

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

My Favorite Kind Of Day







Drizzling rain.

A perfect day to hunker down sipping coffee and reading a murder mystery. So that’s what I did all day.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 3:42 AM

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Rambling Reminisce About Public Speaking (Pure Self Aggrandizement)

In college 45 years ago I enrolled in a public speaking class and my first assignment was to read a selection from Caesar’s Commentary On The Gallic Wars, a selection about how to capture sleeping elephants.

It went well.

When time came for my final exam speech, word got out and many students skipped other classes and gathered in the public speaking room to hear my talk. They filled every chair and stood lined up around the classroom walls; those who could not get into the room clustered in the courtyard outside and some actually hung through open windows to hear me speak on the topic Judgment Day And Telephone Calls.

Heady stuff.


Ego building.

Over the years I’ve been invited to speaking engagements many times. Once I was asked to conduct a funeral. Members of the extended family belonged to several widely divergent religious denominations and could not agree on which real preacher should be asked conduct the service; they compromised by asking me.


“John,” the caller said, “We know you go to church and all that, but you don’t seem very religious so we thought we’d ask you”.

What a nice compliment.

The deceased was quite elderly so for the eulogy I used a World Almanac to outline events which had happened during her lifetime: so many Presidents, first automobile, first electric lights, first bridge across the St; John’s river, etc.

For the religious portion of the funeral service, I just talked about Jesus, His Resurrection, and His love for us.

One odd thing: the funeral director, who did not know the deceased at all, broke down in tears and had to leave the gravesite. Either he was tender-hearted for all his clients, or something in the message touched a nerve.

I don’t really know.

For many years I taught Bible lessons at a dirt-floor mission for down and out street people. These folks had little interest in Bible, they’d heard it all. Many times. So, to capture their interest, I developed various gimmicks and show-and-tell displays to illustrate the lessons. Each talk was a one-off because seldom would the same person be at a lesson more than a time or two.

Once the pastor of a society church came to visit our home while I was preparing a gimmick for a talk at the mission; the visual intrigued him and he asked me to fill for him in teaching the adult Bible class at his church.

That ended up with my teaching the same lesson twice each week for about eight years, once to the guys at the mission and once to the people at the society church.

Regardless of social status, we all need the love of Christ equally so I taught the same lesson both places.

Not to name-drop, but people in the church class included a retired football player who wore his Superbowl Ring, several physicians, attorneys, architects, an art collector, an FBI agent, a socialite who started a home prayer meeting with her five maids, a judge, and other folks of that caliber.

Incidentally, I should mention that at this time I was earning my living as a janitor. When Jesus said that in following Him we might stand before kings, He did not mean we'd ever stand there as equals.

Here’s something odd:

I am known for my store of refined, tasteful jokes geared to the taste of refined, cultured people… but whenever I’d start to tell a joke, both the folks at the mission and the society church would groan before I even got started good.

Puzzling that.

One adjustment I made between the mission lessons and the church lessons was that for the church folks, I assigned homework.

Yes, I actually expect people in my classes to learn.

The novelty of doing Bible homework captured the fancy of the class. They had a blast. And once when one couple went to Paris for a second honeymoon, they made a trans-Atlantic phone call to get their homework assignment for the class they missed!

That blew my mind.

Yes, I always get a kick out of public speaking.

I hog the spotlight.

Puffs me up.

Another funny thing happened once at the church:

The area Bishop came for his annual visitation, a ceremony with all the pomp and circumstance of full processional with regalia and clouds of incense.

Before the scheduled super-service, the Bishop attended the Bible class. That morning the discussion grew lively and the class ran long.

I said, “I have one final point to make, but we’re out of time”.

The Bishop said, “No, I’m interested. Go ahead and finish the lesson. I’m pretty sure they won’t start the service without me”.

Broke me up.

One thing that troubles me about my speaking and teaching is that I tend to rely more on my gimmicks than I do on the Spirit of God. I tend to speak from natural ability rather than from God’s power.

Public speaking scares me terribly and I use those gimmicks as a crutch instead of relaxing and allowing God to control. In fact, for the most part I memorize my talks beforehand because I’m so afraid of screwing up in front of people.

My December 25th blog posting last year (see archives) mentions the greatest honor I’ve ever been paid as a speaker.

Anyhow, yesterday I spent rehearsing my history lecture at Argyle. I practiced reading excerpts from sources. I cleaned the artifacts to display. I practiced burning tea bags for the pyrotechnic demonstration on the Great Fire Of Jacksonville. I shaved. I packed the briefcases to go. I reviewed internet sites to illustrate my talk on the library’s wall-sized giant computer screen.

Ginny took off work an hour early so we could be at the library early enough to set up the displays (We’d already made a practice run Sunday to locate the place, a 35-mile round trip).

The library advertised the event on line and on a theater-like moving marquee . They tacked up several of these neat posters to attract people:

Not one single person came.

Not one.

Oddly enough this came as no big surprise nor disappointment because from the initial invitation a couple of months ago and right up through all the preparations, both Ginny and I have felt a subtle check in our spirit about this event as though we knew it was not going to happen.

Nevertheless we prepared as though it would just in case it did.

Does that make sense?

We’d have saved a lot of energy if we’d paid more attention to that feeling which may, or may not, have been generated by the Spirit.

But the time was not wasted. Ginny and I enjoyed a delightful chat with Ms B., the head librarian. We discussed the future of printed books in a computer oriented society, and the challenges she meets as head of a library in a booming population center.

Afterwards Ginny and I drove to an IHOP restaurant for supper. We lounged in a window booth watching a lightening storm. We sipped delicious coffee and talked for an hour or two. We’ve more or less decided that health, energy and time constraints indicate that we should forgo extra activities like this history talk in the future.

Thus endeth my speaking career in a blaze of mediocrity.

When we came out of the restaurant, two frisky stray cats scampered around on top of our car batting the radio antenna and we laughed at their antics.

Then we drove home to watch videos we’d checked out of the library.

It was a beautiful evening.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 7:50 AM

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Our History Road Trip

Sunday, Beauty and I skipped church (they were having a guest speaker we did not wish to hear) and spent the morning dabbling in our garden.

She repotted flowers and filled birdfeeders.

I splashed around in the pool dipping out leaves and cleaned up artifacts to demonstrate for my “Overview of Jacksonville History” speech on Tuesday (see my January 10th blog posting). Although I’ve given this same talk several times before, I still get nervous about it.

I plan to use computer links and rusty historical artifacts to illustrate the talk (an 1842 penny, a Civil War sword, a shotgun, a World War I artillery shell, an Indian arrowhead, etc.)

Last month, the librarian at Argyle Branch Library, (7973 Old Middleburg Road, Jacksonville, FL, 32222, Phone Number: (904) 573-3164) invited me to give a lecture on an overview of Jacksonville history at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 16th.

Since Ginny and I had never been to that section of the city before, we decided to drive out there beforehand to see where this library is located in advance before we needed to be there at a specific time.

Glad we did!

There are several ways to get there. None of them easy.

If you plan to attend, print up a Map-Quest map or something of the sort and leave home extra early because this place is at the opposite end of the world. Even with maps, it was really hard for us to find!

We took the scenic route.

We drove out Lenox Avenue past all signs of civilization till the name of the road changes to Old Middleburg Road. Out there the landscape changes and houses sit, not on lots, but on acreage. We drove past barns and horse farms and huge chicken coops. We viewed vast tracks of swampland and thick forest and piney woods.

Watch out for deer along the roadway.

If you ever need to dispose of a body in Jacksonville, this is the place.

It was a delightful drive and we enjoyed talking, holding hands, and seeing the scenery scroll past. We looked for a restaurant for lunch but never found one open.

Right as we got to the library — a huge, ultra-modern, state-of-the-art, basilica-like brick structure near the intersection with Argyle Forest Blvd. — the scene abruptly changed.

Trees plowed under.

Top soil scraped away down to bare clay.

Florida woods strip-mined raw to make way for shopping malls and ticky-tacky housing developments.

Just what Jacksonville needs most — another store.

And instant slums, just add people.


Oh well, this too is history.

Besides, God did not make this world to last forever.

The only thing down here that lasts forever is people.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:39 AM

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Google Me Success; Google Me Failure: Google Me Shame; Google Me Mercy

A disturbing telephone call yesterday afternoon upset me terribly.

The woman sounded perky.


At 4 in the afternoon! Perky.

All I wanted to do was watch football on tv.

The perky woman’s suggestion appalled me utterly.

I am not the sort of man who would do something like that.


When she told me what she wanted, a sense of shame washed over me.

I felt as though I were a tiny little roach on a flat tabletop and someone turned a big bowl of pudding upside down right over top of me. I choked and struggled in the cloying stuff.

That perky woman’s words dredged up every sin, and failure and faux pas and stupid blunder and omission and fault I’ve ever committed. Memories I’ve strived to forget for years.

Tattered dreams. Fizzled potentials. Frustrated ambitions. A failed first marriage. Alienated people. — all this sludge surfaced in my mind and overwhelmed me.

Why would this perky woman do this to me?

I haven’t ever bothered her.

Oh, I know I should have expected a call from her or some of her associates.

A couple of months ago they send me a postcard. Then they mailed a brochure. Then a dunning letter.

Pestering me. Intimidating me. Shaming me.

Why! I did nothing to antagonize her and her friends.

Why should these people want to belittle me, shame me, make me feel like belly-crawling under the bed to hide. They want to remind me of my every failure. They want to rub my face in my lack of success. They want to ridicule my appearance. Snicker at my facial deformity. Make fun of my fat. Spotlight my failure. Nod knowingly at my poverty…

Yes, you guessed it — this perky, pesky woman tried to intimidate me into attending the 50th Reunion of my high school class.

Her call actually nauseated me. Gorge rose in my throat. My hands trembled when I put down the phone.

Ginny thought I was having an attack of some kind.

I was.

I was having an attack of shame.

The thought of attending a dinner/dance with all those shining, brilliant, successful, charming people overwhelmed me with shameful memories and a realization of what a failure I have been in life. What a damn looser I am.

I did not need to be reminded.

I’m almost coping with this stuff now, but the perky phone call knocked the props out from under me.

Later, when I could breathe again, Ginny and I drove up to Georgie’s where I consoled my sudden onset of depression with barbeque.

Holding hands across the table we talked about the meaning of the words success and failure, winner and looser, shame and mercy.

When we got back home, I pulled out my dictionary and looked up the word Success — “a favorable or desired outcome; the attainment of wealth, eminence or influence”.

I have attained no wealth.

I have attained no eminence, nobody wants to kiss my ring. Heck, I don’t even own a ring.

And as for influence, just ask my kids about how influential I am.

I strike out on all three criteria.

Flipping through my desk dictionary while balancing it on my knee, I suddenly remembered an easier way to look up definitions: Google.

A few days ago I mentioned studying a computer manual on how to use Google.

To find the definition of any word, simply type the word define in the Google search box followed by a colon and the word you want; then hit Enter. Instantly the definition of that word appears on your computer screen.

For instance, define: success + Enter brings up “a state of prosperity or fame;

Define: winner + Enter brings up, “an achiever: a person with a record of successes”.

Define: failure + Enter brings up, “Failure in general refers to the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective. It may be viewed as the opposite of success.

You can do this with people’s names too.

For instance, define: Polycarp +enter brings up “Greek bishop of Smyrna who refused to recant his Christian faith and was burned to death by pagans (circa 69-155)”.

Define: John Quincy Adams + Enter brings up “John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767 – February 23, 1848) was the sixth (1825-1829) President of the United States. He was the son of President John Adams and First Lady Abigail Smith”.

Define: Ringo + enter brings up all sorts of information about the famous Beatle as well as about the First Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Isn’t it handy to know that?

About Google I mean.

When I tried my own name with this Google search function the reply came back, “No definitions were found for john w. cowart.”

I suppose it only works for successful winners.

So I tried the word shame and the computer replied, “Shame: a painful emotion resulting from an awareness of inadequacy or guilt”.


That’s what I feel.

That’s it exactly.

Now here’s where this train of thought gets tricky. As a Christian, I believe that the mercy of God overrules my sins, faux pas, mistakes, shortcomings, blunders, and whatever else has me beat. I believe that God’s mercy shown to us by the death and resurrection of Jesus makes unworthy people like me accepted in the beloved.

“Hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us,” Paul wrote.

“ For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly,” he said.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.

I really do believe that.

I believe that, but I feel like crap anyhow.

I feel as though every goof I’ve ever made still hang over me, that my sins are engraved in stone, that my lack of success in life condemns me, that my sense of failure is what counts…

I suppose this dichotomy between my true belief and my true feeling make me some kind of emotional hypocrite.

Then I Googled define: mercy + enter

Guess what I found.

It’s worth checking out for yourself…

But I still have no intention of attending that 50th reunion!….

A sinking, lurking thought arises in the far corner of my mind:

Maybe this is not about me.

Not about me at all.

Maybe the Lord God wants me to attend this function, not to celebrate my triumphs and status, but as a live demonstration of what the love and mercy of God can to do an absolute looser.

Maybe there’s some other poor bastard there who feels about his life like I do about mine.

Maybe the perky woman’s voice was the voice of God calling me to service.


Couldn’t be!

Could it?

I need to mull this over a bit more.

Dear Lord, please, please, please, if I do have to go to this thing, please let them allow smoking. Amen.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:17 AM

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Lord God Of The Tedious

Zip. Zip. Whirr. Whirr. Flash. Flash. Zip. Zip. Whirr. Whirr. Flash. Flash. Zip. Zip. Whirr…

Friday, and the past couple of days, I spent scanning over 300 pages of those 17th Century puritan diaries I’ve mentioned before.

One page at a time.

Zip. Zip. Whirr. Whirr. Flash — with an occasional BUZZ!

My scanner times each pass with calculated precision. so that it gives me no time to do anything between a Zip and a Whirr. I can’t light my pipe, nor run to the bathroom, nor think a thought before it’s time to press the next button or flip to the next page.

Rote. Monotonous. Tedious. Routine work.

Then each page must be checked because I’m working from an edition printed in 1933 with many footnotes in tiny agate font and the scanner’s optical character recognition feature insists that an R in the original text is really a B, or maybe a K.

Besides that, while the puritan diarists may have been godly men, they could spell worth diddle squat! Maybe that why I feel such an affinity for them.

The repetitive motions of scanning text hurts my back, neck and arms. My eyes blur. My back aches. My mind wanders.

Who cares whether this job is done right or not?

Who is likely to read this stuff?

Why am I doing this?

Don’t I have more urgent things to do?

Doesn’t God have any better use for my talents?

Maybe not.

Beauty says that at least this job keeps me off the streets.

She says that may well be the Divine purpose for the whole project.

During smoke breaks I got to thinking about how often in Scripture God calls people doing rote, routine things.

Moses was minding his own business tending sheep when that Burning Bush appeared. So was David when the call came to him. Gideon’s mind was set on getting the harvest thrashed when the angel appeared out of the blue Mathew had his nose stuck in his accounting books when Jesus called him. .Peter, James and John mended nets with no thought of God at all when Jesus said, “Follow me”.

Often I feel disappointed that God does not allow me to do great things; He keeps me saddled with the low, tedious, routine, mundane. His kingdom is not made up of great people only. He is also Lord of us insignificant ones.

I’ve often wondered about “The Will Of God” for my life, and when I do, the thought always comes to me, “Do the obvious”.

Do the routine duty right before your eyes.

If you can’t change the world, change the baby!

As Jeremiah the prophet said to Baruch, an ambitious young man who aspired to be a prophet, “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not”.

God already has a replacement in mind to fill Billy Graham’s shoes. Understudies for Mother Teresa and Oprah are in the wings. Stephen King is already in place as God’s choice for a best selling writer.

According to an apocryphal writing (No. I do not place much stock at all in such things) Jesus once said, “When you hew the firewood, I am there. When you draw water from the well, I am with you. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in the midst of them”.:

Brother Lawrence, a 17th Century monk, said that we are to do little things just for the love of God, that God does not count the greatness of a task so much as the love with which we do it.

When I sat down to write this blog post, I yearned to write my opinions about the Iraq war and President Bush’s speech the other night. I’ve had a bug in my ass about this issue for weeks. Nobody I hear on tv or radio voices the same opinion I hold.

But who needs another unfounded opinion about the war?

That is not my place.

There will always be wars and rumors of wars — but the end is not yet.

At the moment I have no special duty to advise the president on how things should be handled internationally (Although I don’t think I could do much worse than the advisors he already has).

No. My duty this moment is to make sure that’s really a B or a K instead of an R.


Because Jesus is Lord — even of the tedious.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:30 AM

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Light is come into the world, but…

Yesterday Beauty had a hard time getting to work; when she arrived, she found that police had sealed the main entrance with crime tape, so she had to go in a side gate to park.

A coworker who had arrived an hour earlier had discovered the body of a murdered man in front of the office building and called the police.

Ginny’s new office building lies in what has historically been a high crime slum area for many years. The administration built the new facility there as part of a government effort to restore the neighborhood.

Just before Christmas one of Ginny’s coworkers was mugged and robbed in the parking lot. This happened after the security guard had walked the lady to her car. But instead of driving away, after the guard left, she got out of her car again to get something from her trunk. That’s when the robber knocked her down, grabbed her purse, then raced away on a bicycle.

Police have not released any more information about the murder at Ginny’s office yet.

Last night’s tv news said there were six shootings in Jacksonville yesterday


Yesterday afternoon a distraught woman from a nearby home pounded on my door asking if I had seen anyone near her house.

My computer desk faces a window overlooking the street but her house is not in my line of sight.

While she’d been out to a doctor’s appointment, someone had broken into her home.

She was frantic over the damage.

They stole a stereo, her sewing machine, and some other items.

They also trashed her place overturning furniture, smashing dishes and mirrors, etc.

Most disturbing, the intruders ripped the clothes from her closets, piled them in the floor, and set a flaming candle in the circle of cloth. That way, when the candle burned down low enough, it would have ignited the cloth and set her house afire long after they left the scene and were far away.

Fortunately she arrived back home after the intruder left but before the candle scorched the clothing.

Her find upset her.

She ran to another neighbor’s house and the two of them came to me even before they called the police.

But I had neither seen nor heard a thing.

I offered to call the police for her but she did not want them called yet. She hesitated. She seemed reluctant, dazed and stunned as she walked down our driveway.

“He did it,” she said.

“I know he did it,” she said.

“We broke up,” she said.


“The Father Sent The Son To Be The Savior Of The World” ——I John 4:14

“This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil,” —— John 3:19

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:25 AM

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Past & Future -- With Noodles

First, before I begin this posting, let’s all bow out heads and close our eyes to observe a moment of silence:

Momofuku Ando died last Friday in Osaka, Japan.

He was 96.

Our world is diminished.

Mr. Ando invented instant ramen noodles. He was inspired to create the cheap, salty treat by food scarcity in postwar Japan.

“I happened to pass this area and saw a line 20, 30 meters long in front of a dimly lit stall from which clouds of steam were steadily rising,” he wrote. “People dressed in shabby clothes shivered in the cold while waiting for their turn. The person who was with me said they were lined up for a bowl of ramen.”

“I realized that people were willing to wait patiently just for a bowl of ramen,” he said.

He took that vision home with him and, using a secondhand noodle-making machine and a large wok, Mr. Ando sprinkled soup on the noodles with a watering can, then kneaded and loosened them by hand after letting them partly dry.

“This allowed the noodles to soak up the soup on the outer layer,” he wrote. “I then dried the noodles so they would keep longer and could be easily prepared with boiling water.”

The company he founded, Nissin Food Products, now produces 16 flavors of Top Ramen and Cup Noodles. Last year, 46.3 billion packs and cups were sold around the world.

In July, 2005, astronauts carried packets of Mr. Ando’s ramen noodles into space aboard the Discovery space shuttle on their twelve day mission.

Without Mr. Ando’s invention, my family might well have starved back when we were poor.

I owe him a debt.

Yes, in the past we were once dirt poor, but the Lord (and Mr. Ando’s noodles) pulled us through.

But my past doesn’t count for much.

As my e-friend Darlene Schachts said in her blog this morning, “It doesn't really matter where I've been, or what I've done, it's past. The past that does matter is what Christ has done for me”.

Yesterday my scanner buzzed and zipped and whirred as I scanned in 85 pages, about half, of those 17th Century Puritan diaries I’ve mentioned before.

I realize there is virtually no commercial market for this work, but when did that ever stop me from fiddling with manuscripts, my own or other people’s? I do this work because I love it. There are worse reasons to labor.

Another profitless project:

The librarian at Argyle Branch Library, (7973 S Old Middleburg Road, Jacksonville, FL, 32222, Phone Number: (904) 573-3164) invited me to give a lecture on an overview of Jacksonville history at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 16th.

If any of you blog readers in the Jacksonville area would like to attend, I’ll be happy to see you there.

Here is a photo of me speaking at such a lecture last year:

Another exciting thing ahead:

Next week my youngest son, Donald, and I plan to help my friend Barbara set up her computer and establish a blog. Barbara is a retired religion editor and won many national writing awards for her weekly “Along The Way” column which tracked her deep personal devotion and prayer life amid horrendous problems.

I’ll let everyone know when she gets on line…


Thing is, Barbara often calls me for computer advice.

The Scripture that applies here is “… And they both shall fall into the ditch”.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 10:26 AM

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I Collect Women’s Underwear

I collect women’s panties, bras, teddies, slips and other such garments.

At the moment eight large black plastic leaf bags filled with such dainties stuff the trunk of our car.

No. I am not a pervert — at least, not that sort of pervert.

The reason I collect such items of female apparel is to deliver it to poor people at a local rescue mission. Actually, I don’t collect the stuff; it’s just that friends, family and neighbors bring it to our house so that we can deliver it to the mission.

I’m not sure why they don’t deliver it to a mission themselves. This puzzles me but it has gone on this way for years. In fact last week one guy drove within two blocks of the mission on his way to bring the donations to our house so we could deliver it.

Go figure.

A lot of people in their after-Christmas clean up have sorted through their closets culling out old clothing to make room for new stuff, and they bring the castoffs to our house for us to take to the mission.

I use the term “the mission” loosely because Ginny and I have worked with a bunch of various missions to the poor over the years, so we use the term collectively; we take the stuff to whichever mission the Spirit dictates (meaning whichever one is most convenient for us on a given day).

Once, about five years ago, such a practice got me into an embarrassing situation (See John’s Great Brassier Hunt)

The poor are always with you and are always a pain in the ass!

That’s not Scripture, but it’s the way I feel.

Anyhow, please do not mail me your panties (fun as that may be); instead take them to your own local mission. This is important because, while many generous people donate sweaters, coats, pants, shirts and kids’ outfits, every mission I’ve ever worked with has a shortage of underwear and socks.

Those items are always in short supply and will always be appreciated.

Please be sure the elastic is not stretched; Jesus deserves the best we can give His poor through us.

Occasionally, Ginny will buy new packages of socks and underwear on sale in various sizes for men, women and children to donate to the mission. She feels this is an excellent use of tithe money.

Now, concerning my doctor’s visit yesterday:

Our doctor spent a little more than two hours with us. Most of that time he spent filling out paperwork and just hanging around with us (I think he enjoys our company for some reason). He advises that we gather a lot of information first before reaching a final decision about my prostate cancer and other such potential problems.

He chose not to do the biopsies on my chest and shoulder himself. Instead he referred me to a dermatologist.

And to a neurologist.

And to a radiologist.

And to an oncologist.

And to a pharmacist.

And to a urologist.

And, of course, to the medical group’s resident numismatist.

We’ll see a lot of that last guy on the list!

All that was yesterday. Then, a few minutes ago as I was typing this, the office nurse phoned saying I should also go to an oral surgeon.

To get a mouthwash prescription!

I’m afraid I was quite rude to the young lady.

But yesterday our doctor waxed poetic about one thing. In a few days he and his wife leave for Africa. Each year they sacrifice his American practice for a couple of months to serve without pay in some third world country.

The thought of practicing hands-on medicine without paperwork, insurance companies, paperwork, referrals, paperwork, appointments, paperwork, records, or paperwork — it all make the man giddy!

He won’t have to fiddle with minor complaints like mine but be able to practice real medicine among people who are seriously sick and he can make a lifesaving difference among people who have no access to any doctor otherwise.

I introduced him to the idea of keeping a blog while over there and the idea thrilled him. He intends to check the idea out with expedition leaders and if he gets approval, I’ll post a link. He may not be able to do this. Because of world conditions such service may require a low profile and publicity may prove dangerous. I’ll keep you posted.

Anyhow, my own situation is one of fact finding and information gathering over a couple of months before I decide among various treatment options — if I chose any.

I think of Psalm 71, sometimes called An Old Man's Prayer; part of it says:

O God, thou hast taught me from my youth:
and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.
Now also, when I am old and gray-headed,
O God, forsake me not;
until I have showed thy strength unto this generation,
and thy power to everyone that is to come!

——Psalm 71:17-18

At the moment Ginny and I classify our medical situation as what she terms JADN — Just Another Damn Nuisance!

Meanwhile, I plan to return to thinking about quality of life issues, things really important to me.

Right now that means returning to work on those two exciting 17th Century Puritan diaries I’ve been studying. I hope to scan them into my computer and publish them soon.

And, of course, I have to do something about all those women’s panties in the trunk of my car.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 2:45 PM

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Second Thoughts — Second Thoughts Again

Although I’ve written a daily journal for 20+ years, tomorrow marks the second anniversary of keeping it as a blog on-line for other people to read.

I’d shoot off fireworks, release balloons, or something, but tomorrow I’m also scheduled for another biopsy.

Joy, oh joy! Be Still My Heart — (see Dec.13 thru 21st, 2006, for the first one).

So I doubt if I’ll feel up to posting at all tomorrow.

Therefore, to celebrate my second year of Blogging, here is a second posting of my entry for one year ago today and it was titled, appropriately enough, Second Thoughts:

January 7, 2006 — SECOND THOUGHTS

I’m having second thoughts about my Christianity.

Meeting a man covered with tattoos brought this about.

About a month ago I was over in Arlington to see a lady on business and she introduced me to her son who happened to be in the office. Blue and red tattoos snaked up both his arms and before we shook hands, before the guy said one word, in my mind I wrote him off as a sleaze.

Because some of the tattoos appeared to be amateurish, I thought he’d been in prison when he got them. I thought of him a worthless, no-account, vicious criminal.

But, no sooner than I had these thoughts judging the man, a second thought came to mind: Get real, John! Here is a child of God, a potential saint, a man who may walk in obedience to Christ better than you do, John Cowart. You are judging on an impression with a bare minimum of information.

That second thought caught me up short.

Last Saturday as Ginny and I drove to WalMart, the driver of another car, full of people, crowded us because he was in the turn lane but wanted to drive straight ahead. My first thought – in fact I said most of it aloud – was: You son of a bitch! I hope you crash into that lamp pole and mangle your whole family. I’ll stop and watch you bleed. And I’ll spit in the puddle of blood as I drive past. And darn if I’ll waste one of our cell phone minutes calling 911!

No sooner than I thought all this, I has a second thought: Why are you cursing that guy, John? Haven’t you ever been stuck in the wrong lane yourself?

I saw a girl.

A well endowed girl.

A very well endowed girl.

My first thought was …. Any guesses?

But then comes a second thought: John Cowart. Why are you thinking like that? You have no evidence that she’s a slut. And, no, those would not bounce so vigorously they’d splinter the headboard. What you’re thinking says nothing about her; everything about you. Have you prayed about her problems, her hopes, her destination in life?

I watch the evening news and see more Americans killed in Iraq.

My first thought is: We ought to bring our soldiers home then nuke every town between Spain and Hawaii! No mater which way the wind is blowing, it won’t drop radiation on anyone who means America well.

Then comes a second thought: Many of our soldiers in Iraq are dedicated Christians and by exposing the people to their lives and testimonies, they are influencing the people whose paths they cross toward the Kingdom of Christ. Perhaps, that is why God allows this otherwise senseless war.

I could go on and on – about Hurricane Katrina victims, about foreigners, about politicians, about … Well, you name it.

There’s a pattern here.

My first thought is always hostile, bitter, negative, lustful, greedy, mean-spirited.

My second thought comes closer to being Christian.

In fact, my second thoughts define and identify my faith.

I am not the first Christian to entertain such duel thoughts. St. Paul wrote, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…. I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I can not do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is I do… I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind…”

There may be people out there who always put Jesus first in their thoughts and actions; but that state is beyond my experience.

Of all the things which race through my mind, Jesus is not always running in first place. He’s not always even in second place. I confess that sometimes He’s number 18 in a field of 30.

But I am a Christian; He is always in the running.

If my life were a tv talk show, on occasion I obey Him as though Jesus were the Director; at other times I treat Him as though He were only a guest celebrity putting in a spot appearance to raise my ratings.

What a shabby way to think.

St Paul once said, “What person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of that man? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God”.

So we see thoughts of man on one hand, and thoughts of God on the other.

And His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, yet He knows the very thoughts and intents of our heart.

So here I stand with my first thoughts and my second thoughts.

Sometimes I act on one, and sometimes on the other.

And the Scripture teaches that a Christian’s life involves bringing every thought captive to Christ.

Is it any wonder that I get befuddled?

I’m tempted to say with Miss Scarlet, “I’ll think about that tomorrow”.

In fact, I’m tempted to avoid thinking about such stuff at all.

But the spirit of a prophet is subject to the prophet. I chose which thought I act on.

I hardly ever sit down at my computer without my first thought being, Hey, I wonder if there are any new pictures on that porno site? What harm is there in seeing? Then comes a second thought, How about browsing cartoons instead? Or maybe you should work on that manuscript. Or maybe write a blog posting Both my first and second thoughts hang before me; But I choose where to click.

My second thoughts – and how I act on them – reveal my heart.

OK. Those are my thoughts on the matter, but what about God’s thoughts? What do His thoughts reveal?

One Scripture comes to my mind, a paraphrase of Jeremiah 29:11:

I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, they are thoughts for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

God Almighty has let us in on His own thoughts. And I think that’s great.

I think that's really great.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:33 AM

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Saturday, January 06, 2007


Looking over the January blogs of many e-friends, I see that weight loss in the coming year concerns virtually everyone

Therefore I will here reveal the John Cowart Sure-Fire Weight Diet & Exercise Program to share with my friends who aspire to look like me.

My program diet consists of sitting with an open book, a cup of coffee and a dozen package of Krispy Kreme Donuts.

The exercise portion consists of turning pages, sipping coffee and lifting donuts from the box.

With each donut you lift, the Krispy Kreme box weights less and less.

I intend to write a book, maybe even make a video of my program.

But the title, John Cowart’s Sure-Fire Weight, Diet & Exrcise Program, is too long and it’s just not catchy. And the initials, JCSFWDEP, don’t spell anything.

I think I’ll call my video, Flabs Of Steel.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 8:04 AM

Your comments are welcome: 6 comments

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I Have Become A Shark!

Yesterday’s blog posting mentioned that my recent reading alternates between two books, a 16th Century diary and a Google computer manual.

The diary of Richard Rogers, a Puritan minister in the time of the first Queen Elizabeth, resonates with many features of my own life. For instance, he’s trying to write a book (Seven Treatises On The Christian Life) but he keeps getting interrupted by the affairs of daily life.

He bemoans the fact his own book shelves groan under the weight of good books which he had not gotten around to reading.

And one day when he was down he talks about writing his own diary then says, “Reading the writings of an other brother about his estat an houre and longer, I was moved to write and to bring my hart into a better frame…”

In other words, over 400 years ago, he was a blogger.

He got a lift by reading the daily diary of someone else whose writing resonated with his own heart.

Isn’t that exactly what those of us who read other people’s diaries, journals or blogs do?

We build each other up by sharing our common experiences.

Often in reading blogs or diaries I’ll say, “Hey, I’m not the only one! I know exactly how he feels; I feel the same way. I’ve thought that way myself”.

When my son Donald introduced me to computers and helped me set up my website and blog and on-line book catalog, we realized that much of my content would be of a religious nature. That’s a real part of me. So we resolved on a couple of guiding principles for my sites:

For instance I will never poke fun or ridicule anyone else’s religion; my own faith carries enough material to be ridiculous all by itself.

I do not reveal anyone else’s secrets. The only person who should be embarrassed by what I write is me.

I would try to be honest and show an unfiltered Christian life from the inside — not as it ought to be but as it is for one particular guy, me.

I hope that my testimony and writings will attract readers to commit themselves 100% to the Lord Christ because He is worthy.

And, since I believe that Christ redeems us purely by His grace, I will not carry any ads trying to sell anything.

The Scripture says, As ye have freely received, so freely give.

“By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast”.

The Prophet Isaiah called out, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

“Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not?… Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near… Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon”

We have nothing of value to trade to God.

He is not short of cash.

He is not a peddler.

He is Giver.

Since one of the biggest criticisms outsiders make against Christians is money, and since I do not wish to put a stumbling block between any reader and God, I chose not to try to make money off either blog or website.

I’m even uncomfortable offering my books for sale in the on-line catalog but I try to keep that endeavor separate from my daily writings.


See those little fish around the shark?

Those are remora, commonly called suckerfish.

Yesterday as I played around with the Google manual exploring advanced search features, I used my own web addresses to test things.

Imagine my shock when I discovered that some suckers have pirated my web address directing readers to ad sites hawking fake Rolex watches, home mortgages, jewelry, timeshare condos and all sorts of other sleazy deals to cheat people out of their money.

Immediately I called Donald who manages all the technical features of my site and he examined these suckers.

He explained that as my website has attracted more and more readers, some sleaze noticed and piggybacked his own site on my name so that Google searchers may arrive at his cheap ads for shoddy products.

Donald says that in Geek Speak, such people are called remoras.

He says I should be flattered that my site is popular enough to be worth their attention.

He said that means I have become a shark.

He said that little sucker fish feeds off the crumbs I leave behind.

Not exactly.

I looked up suckerfish in the encyclopedia and here’s what I discovered:

Remora (rĕm`ərə), any of the several species of warmwater fishes of the family Echeneidae, characterized by an oval sucking disk on the top of the head. With this apparatus (a modification of the dorsal fin) the remora, or suckerfish, attaches itself to sharks, …. In this way it travels without effort, feeding on scraps from the prey of these larger creatures…. Largest and most common remora is the shark remora, or sharksucker, which reaches 3 ft (90 cm) in length and attaches itself to sharks; it is found along the Atlantic coast N of Long Island in the summer. Remoras are classified in the phylum Chordata

The host they attach to for transport gains nothing from the relationship, but also loses little. The remora benefits by using the host as transport and protection and also feeds on materials dropped by the host. There is some controversy over whether a remora's diet is primarily leftover fragments, or actually the feces of the host.

There is no controversy in my mind about what they can eat.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:42 AM

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Fun In My World — Ancient and Modern

Tuesday Ginny returned to work downtown where one of her coworkers was mugged in the office parking lot and her purse snatched.

I spent the day in quite, peaceful reading, reflection, prayer and meditation — except for two troubled visitors, two delivery men, and a phone call warning me the cops are searching for one of my daughters.

Just a typical day at home for me.

My studies alternated between two books.

On one hand I’m reading a diary kept by Puritan Richard Rogers between 1586 and 1590; on the other hand, I’m studying a 445-page computer manual on how to work Google.

I don’t understand either one.

In the Google manual, I’m up to the part about using asterisks as wildcard search terms.

In the Roger’s Journal, I’ve reached the 1587 attack of the Spanish Armada, which, in terms of newsworthiness, was the 16th Century equivalent of Nine Eleven in our day.

But the Puritan preacher was a focused man. His diary concentrates on things that really matter, the state of the human soul in the light of eternity.

“By fearfull noise of warre and trouble in our lande I laboured to bringe myne heart to a more neere drawing of it to the deeper contempt of the worlde,” Rogers said.

And that’s all he had to say about the Aramada!

His diary makes for difficult reading not only because of the antique spelling. His language is neither the lofty Elizabethan cadences of Shakespeare nor the majestic prose of the King James Bible, but he speaks in the common idiom of his day.

Not only that, but his thought patterns are so foreign to my way of thinking because here was a man intent on God to the exclusion of lesser things.

I am not such a man.

I envy his devotion.

“It is the work and occupation of a Christian,” Rogers said, “To learn to understande the lawes of god and to walk in his wayes, and thus that should be the chieftest thinge which should be looked after and from thing to thinge practized”.

If you think his language is difficult to follow, you should try that Google manual! Gobbledygook and techno-jargon fills the pages.

For instance, Page Rank refers to which web site you see listed first, second, third, etc. when you search the web with Google; but the term PageRank has nothing to do with the web pages per se, it refers to a system of determining value developed by Mr. Larry Page, one of Google’s founders, and his system factors in over 500 elements in order to put my website down around number 8,427 in the listings.

I’m tempted to scan in the Rogers Diary and publish it on the web or as a booklet on my storefront (www.bluefishbooks.info ). The copyright is open and I think the rare work of this good and godly man ought to be preserved.

But the project would take a massive amount of work and would not make much business sense. I checked the library stamps in the back of the InterLibrary Loan copy I am reading and I see that this book was checked out on April 1, 1985 and returned the very next day; then it was checked out again on May 11th, 1994. I am the third person to check the thing out.


If you want to read a copy, the line forms on the right.

No shoving, please.

I am reading the book for my own edification, to let this focused man’s thoughts from long ago nudge me closer to Christ in my own life today.

If his diary can help me in that way, perhaps, in spite of the book's wild popularity, I should try to preserve his words on line to help some other struggling Christian in the future.

I hope my own diary entries may help somebody in that way.

Back in an October blog last year, I wrote:

You know, I’ve always written with a specific reader in mind. The reader I envision is a teen-aged boy who lives 50 to 75 years from now, and who stumbles across my journals in a dusty attic on a rainy day and begins to read these old musty papers.

Some stupid joke catches the kid’s attention and he begins to read further. As he reads, he catches some glimpse of what it means for me to be a Christian. He sees a relatively unvarnished picture of one Christian guy’s life, a life soaked in problems, temptations, discouragements, failures, and defeats — yet resounds with hope.

I dream that the kid in the attic will look at all the crap in what’s-iz-name’s diary and that this kid will see through it all and see that what I write about is real. I dream that he will see through me to the beauty of the living Christ and commit his life to Christ 100%, without reservation.

Hey, Kid! Here’s a bumper sticker joke for you:

I Did Not Escape From The Insane Asylum — I’ve Got A Day Pass!

Deliverymen brought our new mattress yesterday.

Ginny and I got quite a laugh as we got ready for bed. Our old mattress, which we bought sometime back in the mid 1980s, sagged a good six or eight inches lower than this brand new one does.

So, when I sat down on the edge of the bed to take off my socks, I find I can no longer reach my feet!

What a surprise!

Ginny howled with laughter at my antics as I struggled to remove my socks.

I’m not fat at all.

But I am married to this cruel, cruel woman.

… Oh, the cop call thing, if any of my three daughters happens to read this blog, you might consider paying your speeding tickets.

Mom and Dad love you -- but we don’t do bail.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 3:43 AM

Your comments are welcome: 2 comments

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

An Explosive Start To The New Year

As soon as the calendar flipped at midnight from 2006 to 2007, then as soon as the sparks from the fireworks fade away, right that minute, the 2006 models go on sale to make way for the 2007 models.

Yesterday, Ginny and I went to the showroom first thing as soon as they opened to buy an “old” 2006 model at a greatly reduced price.

We are to take delivery by 3 o’clock today.


Yes, the delivery men will come to our house, tussle it through the living room, down the hall into our bedroom and up onto the frame. They will cart our old model away forever.

I’ll miss it.

We bought it used back about 1985 and it served us well but Ginny has hankered for a brand new model for a long time, so we visited the showroom, stretched out on various test models and chose one.

I hate to confess being so behind times, but I had no idea that mattresses came in model years. To me one looks the same as another. They’re indistinguishable — like modern cars. But the mattress salesman assures me that constant technological advances result in such improvements that each year calls for a new model.

I found no fault with our 1985 model. I would have kept it. But time marches on without me.

Anyhow, tonight we will sleep on the 2006 model mattress and we can trade it in on next year’s model in only eleven months.

Life makes less and less sense to me as I get older.

Speaking of getting older…

I am going to write for another few minutes but this would be a good place for you to stop reading because my next subject is disturbing, unpleasant and embarrassing.

Walking across the grocery store parking lot yesterday I had an accident.

This sort of thing has not happened to me since I was a child. Abruptly, without warning, I explosively messed my own pants.

I don’t know if this event is related to a flu bug, the prostate cancer, or just general old age, but it was humiliating, smelly and embarrassing.

I could have cried.

Shocked, I duck waddled back to our car and had to sit in stink with the windows rolled down as Ginny drove me back to the house.

Once home, I changed and washed my clothes and showered — and trembled a bit at such an vivid reminder of my decline and mortality.

If we don’t die first, we get old and senile.

The theme of my blog says that I look for spiritual realities in everyday life. Well, I’ve told the reality, but what spiritual lesson can be drawn from such a disgusting incident?

I can’t think of a one, not a single one.

No inspirational Bible verse springs to my mind.

No line of poetry.

The only thing I can think of is the punch line from a joke for those of us over 65 years old:

Never trust a fart!.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:12 AM

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Monday, January 01, 2007

A Commandment Interrupted!

Yesterday afternoon Beauty and I intended to obey one of God’s happy commandments — but we kept getting interrupted.


Every time we’d begin to get started, somebody would knock at our door bringing us a belated Christmas present, wishing us well, or being a pest in some other way.

They’d no sooner go away than the phone would ring and somebody would wish us happy New Year or some such aggravating nonsense.

I need fewer friends!

The ones we already have prevented us from following the commandment. And at our age and present state of health that is annoying in the extreme.

So I cleaned the swimming pool and watched tv football all afternoon instead.


Oh, the commandment?

I refer to Proverbs 5:18-19.

You mean you don’t know about that one?

Really, I think folks would be much happier if they read their Bibles more.

The commandment of God in Proverbs says:

“Rejoice with the wife of thy youth! Let her be to thee as a loving hind, a pleasant roe. Let her breasts satisfy thee at all times. Yea, be thou ravished with her love”.

But sometimes it is difficult to follow the commands of God.

I think we need fewer friends.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:32 AM

Your comments are welcome: 1 comments