Thursday, September 26, 2013

I PETER 3:15? by Carol Welch

Fall, 1978.

I sat in the leadership meeting in Wisconsin. Rev. Alan Ell was running the meeting. Alan was 6th Way Corps, probably in his mid-to-late 20s.

I was 19 years old, apprentice Way Corps, and serving as a WOW Ambassador. I would be entering in-residence into the 10th Way Corps at the end of my one year of service as a WOW. WOW was an acronym that stood for Word Over the World. Word Over the World meant that our goal was to move the rightly-divided Word of God so that it would be made available to every community on earth where a person was hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

As an Ambassador for Christ I was to speak the Word in season and out of season; that is, whether I felt like it or not. I was a shining light for God, God's messenger. I had Christ in me and could perform the works of Jesus Christ and greater works. Christ's works were that of healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out devil spirits, manifesting God's power, speaking the truth in love. The greater works included getting the natural man born again of God's spirit and receiving eternal life. Jesus Christ could not do that greater work when he was on earth because he had not yet died and arisen and ascended; being born again, or more accurately "born from above," was only made available to mankind beginning at the Day of Pentecost.

As a Word Over the World Ambassador I would spiritually grow ten years in one. That's what Doctor said, "If we really want to grow, then go." That is, go WOW now.

I faithfully reviewed and recited my retemory cards, business-size cards with a King James scripture verse printed on each card. Over the decades, The Way had different packs of retemory cards: Foundational, Intermediate, Advanced, Dealing with the Adversary, Abundant Life, Word in Business, Way Corps, L.E.A.D., and more. Each pack focused on a certain Ministry class or aspect of the Word. Some cards were printed not with scripture verses, but rather with certain Ministry definitions or principles, such as the definition of "word of knowledge" or a Way Corps principle.

I sat in the leadership meeting in a believer's home in a basement in Wisconsin. It seems there were about 20 to 30 believers at the gathering, all Way lay leadership. Rev. Ell was calling on different indiviuals at random to recite whatever retemory card he wanted us to recite. Each retemory card in a pack was numbered.

Rev. Ell would say, "Number 10." We leaders were to know the card right away and state the scripture reference, recite the scripture word perfect, and give the scripture reference again. My Way Branch leader at the time, David Dubew, had admonished me to know those retemory cards in my sleep. This was eternal life and the accuracy of the Word at stake. The devil was always after the accuracy of the Word.

Rev. Ell called on one of us to recite a card. The man he called on responded with silence; he could not bring to memory the retemory.

Alan then asked the group, "Does anyone in here know the retemory?"

A momentary hush fell on the room.

I immediately jumped to my feet and bolted forth what I thought was the retemory that Rev. Ell sought.

"I Peter 3:15. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. I Peter 3:15." *??*

As I ended my retemory recitation, the pitch of my voice rose slightly like I was asking a question indicating my own self-doubt regarding my answer.

Alan responded in military tone but with a hint of smile on his lips, "Is that a question or an answer Hamby?"

I responded with a hint of a smile, "It's an answer."

He nodded his approval, his smile a bit broader.

I was Way Corps in training, an Ambassador for Christ.

"It is Written" - that was the Way Corps motto.

Friday, September 6, 2013

THE RECLINER by Maurine Netchin

Oh my God!   I bought a recliner.  
Something I vowed would never see the light of day in my home.
I am officially old.   And straight.
And I’m old and straight enough to really need a recliner.    Yes, need.  
I’ve toyed with this for a long time – years really.   But recliners are not for one-bedroom Manhattan apartments.  Recliners are not for people like me who fancy themselves as hip.  To my 40-something niece who lives in Chicago – with the rest of my family -- I am the “cool” aunt from New York City -- cool aunts do not have recliners.  Recliners are for people who watch TV, who sleep sitting up, or, as they say, reclining.  They don’t ride the subway.  They ride the bus, if need be.   
I’ve had a bad back since I was in my thirties – or even twenties, perhaps.  My thousand-section, sectional couch, which I’ve owned for about 30 years, has no really comfortable section.  That’s how I’ve managed to keep it in good shape and own it for so long – I never sit on it.  Only guests sit on it.  If they are uncomfortable, they are polite and don’t mention it.  
For years, I’ve watched TV sitting in a straight-backed dining chair with various forms of back rests inserted, or in bed, with lots of pillows propped behind me.  And all the time, I did quite well without a recliner.
The only people I knew who had recliners were my relatives who would all be octogenarians, or older, or dead, by now.   Those big, clunky, La-Z-Boy things that took up half the room.  Always covered with some horrible fabric or fake leather that looked very uninviting.   Oh yes, and my folks had a recliner too.  Not the La-Z-Boy type.  Some supposedly ergonomic, vinyl, sliding lounge chair that was almost like a bed.  It slid back and forth on a central axis – and vibrated.  If you reclined it all the way back you were looking straight up at the ceiling.  It was useless for doing anything but sleeping or mulling.  It was a putty color vinyl material that didn’t give at all.  Ugh.  My pubescent friends always sat in it because it had a vibrator.  They’d lie back, stare at the ceiling, vibrate, and stab at the fruit in the fruit bowl that my mother always put out on the table next to the chair.  She’d stick a nice fruit knife in the bowl so you could cut the fruit and was always perplexed that my teenage friends – especially the boys – stabbed the fruit instead of eating it.   Eventually, she begged my father to get rid of the chair.  It was an eyesore and it isolated you from everyone in the room, not to mention Mom’s role as the “fruit policewoman.” 
Years later, when I visited my folks, they had replaced that thing with a gigantic, rocking, swiveling, white, faux fur covered easy chair.  Not a recliner.  But with a good, sturdy back for my dad.  He planted it right in front of their huge console TV.   A selection my Dad bought when he was getting on in years and wanted to watch football while drowning out everything else – and everybody else.  It was like a cocoon: high backed, with curving wing chair sides, all covered in that same fluffy, white, synthetic fur; something even a place like Raymore and Flanagan would probably eschew.   Belonged in Las Vegas.  I was actually shocked when I saw it because it was the first really tacky-looking, Archie Bunker type furniture that I ever saw in my parents’ home.  I chalked it up to my Dad’s waning years when his sense of color and taste left him.  Once, he showed up at a family gathering wearing rust-colored, plaid slacks, a striped shirt, a powder blue sports jacket, and white patent leather loafers, and I knew that his Brooks Brothers and Florsheim shoe days were over.   
I never suspected that I might one day traverse a similar slope.  I admit only to similar, not the same.  Let’s call it Manhattan shabby chic, not Midwestern tacky.  A recliner for a former hippie, left wing, baby boomer.  A sort of pseudo-hippie.  Not a weatherman type who blew things up; just a march-on-Washington, end-the-Vietnam war type.  Mainstream for a 60’s pseudo-radical.  
So what happened?  Flash forward.  Here I am in Macy’s.  With a tape measure in hand.  Testing recliners.  Why?  Because my physical therapist says I still have time to reverse a burgeoning dowager’s hump if I get my act together.  Straighten the back; pull back the shoulders; get my head properly positioned over my spine.  And, of all things, sit up in a good, comfortable, supportive chair that reclines for reading, resting.
Alas, to help ward off a true sign of old age—dowager’s hump, mind you.  I can tolerate a lot of stuff associated with aging.  Wrinkles, jiggly thighs, saggy skin, impatience – although plastic surgery is not my thing.  It’s just a slippery slope.  Everything falls.  And falls again.   And, then again.  Gravity will always get you.   And surgery is not something I would ever do electively, anyhow.  Spent too many years defending personal injury and medical malpractice cases.
But a recliner to keep my spine straight and neutral: for this I can relent.
Three times, I went to Macy’s.  And God knows where else.  I did this last year, too, but wasn’t ready yet.  Like wearing your hair naturally grey.  This time, I sat in every “easy” chair they had there;   rockers, gliders, swivelers, recliners, loungers, chaises.   At least they had no faux fur fabric.   Vinyl, yes.   Burnt orange, avocado green -- yes.    And who was in that department with me after 8:00 p.m. during the late holiday hours that kept the store open for us nut-jobs until midnight?  A lot of over-fifty types.  Who else? 
I started small, got bigger, went back; knew that I had to limit my sights to something that could fit in my apartment.  Finally, I gave in – bought an ivory/beige, leather – yes leather – “ergonomic,” recliner; demure and tasteful; but of course.  And I went home to start rearranging all my living room furniture.  What will I discard?  Change?  Shove in my storage space – you know, the one that everything goes into and nothing ever leaves.   I spent hours rearranging; planning, mulling.  Started on that journey to make room for the goddam recliner – or shall we say – I’m not ready to be called a dowager chair.   
Next up, your guess is as good as mine.  Perhaps an ottoman?
Alas, I have finally become my father, sans football, console, and faux fur.  

The Macy’s recliner didn’t work.  Gave me back and neck strain.   Returned it, minus a restocking fee and the shipping fee.  Certainly cheaper than medical treatment.   Undaunted, I kept looking.   After many hours of sitting in chairs, tilting, sprawling, lounging, lolling, and taking countless recommendations, I ended up with something called a “stressless” recliner.   Cost a small fortune.  Imported from Norway.   Who would believe that?   When did Norwegians get into the recliner act?   But it’s comfy, cushy, and wonderful.   And it has an ottoman.   Need I say more?