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FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: Toilet paper, and 99 other reasons to be happy

Several years ago, I assigned some students to write 100 reasons they are happy. Ironically, their pens were not very happy at the time, because the assignment was punishment for “forgetting” to turn in an assignment. Still, as you might expect, their lists were creative and included such classics as chickens, breathing, bladders, and toilet paper.

That’s right: bladders!

Some time later when I shared my own list, I remembered the “toilet paper” entry, too, and deemed it my all-time favorite. Who would’ve thought that this student would be so prophetic, that the day would come when people would be fighting over a roll of Charmin right in the middle of the aisle. Ah, jus’ when you thought you’d seen it all!

Times have changed, indeed, but the need to rehearse happy thoughts remains the same. So, here's a list of 100 that’s similar to the one almost two decades ago. Hope you enjoy:

• Peanut butter, whipped cream, strawberries, jello, chocolate, and Mexican food, even though the latter two are not on my diet.

• California sunsets and sunrises, walking on Huntington beach – Galveston beach, too – beautiful paintings, and eagles flying high in the sky.

• And, thinking of eagles, Isaiah 40:31, my favorite scripture: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall mount up with wings like eagles...”

• Smiling for no reason, laughing down inside, daydreaming when the amazin’ blonde is talking, taking a nap the way we did in kindergarten, and praying without ceasing.

• Having a friend named Jesus, reading the Bible, and singing ‘Amazing Grace – ah, how sweet the sound.

• Influences of the past: Mama and Daddy, Preacher Miller and Grandma, my auburn-headed uncle Alton and Aunt Florence – and all our Georgia friends, now and then.

• Influences of the present, too: that lady called the “amazin” blonde (you know, the “luckiest” woman in the world, they say), my brilliant third-grade teaching daughter Rachel, a great multi-talented California son who is doing so well, and two grandkids – Connor-man and Pretty Eyes – who are showing no signs of outgrowing their Bamaw and Popman.

• And Coca-Cola Mike and Glory, our vacation best friends.

• A little orange sphere called a basketball – and coaches Weisinger, Foster, Williams, Boyd, Barton, Burns, Porter, Garcia, Eaton and Shirley, Silver and Braden, and more.

• Funny, motivational, inspirational stories, and poetry – and Bible stories.

• Friends at the churches in Red Oak, Texas; Lexington, Oklahoma; Little Rock, Arkansas, and Deer Park, Texas – all of whom have let me work among them.

• Caleb, Joshua, Abraham, Joseph, and the apostle who always found a way to say the wrong thing.

• Psalm 23, 103, and 119; 1 Samuel 16:7, the book of Philippians; and, have I mentioned my favorite Bible verse of all, Isaiah 40:31?

• Singing around the house, telling Bible stories with every detail, going to church (ah, how we miss it now!), and hearing the preacher say “In conclusion,” although if he gets longwinded now it’ll jus’ be all right.

• The basketball bouncing in the gym, popcorn popping over at the concession, and cheerleaders hollering, “M-i-s-s, miss it!” down by the free throw line.

• Exercising on You Tube’s “HasFit,” doing yard work – that’s right, I said it: yard work – and a long foul ball coming to me on dollar-hotdog night at the ballpark.

• Mark Twain, Lewis Grizzard, Huck Finn, Harper Lee, and the Statler Brothers – especially the Statler Brothers, who lost our great friend and bass singer Harold Reid this week.

• The Smoky Mountains, “Welcome To Georgia,” tall pine trees, and red clay.

• “Support Your Local Sheriff,” “Hoosiers,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “Remember the Titans,” and “Pistol.”

• The Virginian – our new favorite old show – “Matt Dillon, and Doug McClure.

• “How Great Thou Art,” “How Beautiful Heaven Must Be,” “I’ll go to my grave lovin’ you,” and “You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog.”

• Wrapping up a column neatly and sending it off for your enjoyment and edification.

I believe that’s 99. Count if you want. I’m one short, so I guess I’ll have to borrow from one of my prophetic students of old.

And... toilet paper.

Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a full-time writer and preacher of the gospel. In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email or call or text 972-824-5197.

Ellis County Press

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