The Cross And The Switchblade (1962)

The Cross And The Switchblade

In the late 1950’s, David Wilkerson was the pastor of a small country church in Pennsylvania. One day he read the story of seven young men – “boys” as he called them – on trial for murder in New York City. Almost immediately, he felt God calling him to go to the city and talk to them. His attempts to meet the seven were thwarted repeatedly, but while David was in New York, he was introduced to gangs and the drug culture.

He went home to his wife and small congregation, but just couldn’t stop thinking about what he had seen. On his days off, he would drive to the city and just walk around. Before long, the Lord told him to move to Brooklyn and minister to those battling drugs, alcohol, and gang life. From that point on, miracle after miracle happened. David told gang members about God’s love and how He could change their lives. It started slowly, but one by one hardened gang members chose to leave their old lives and follow Jesus.

Then David started praying about buying a house where people who were trying to get off drugs could stay while they were detoxing and recovering. God sent just the right people and exactly the right amount of money to buy a run-down house. Former gang members cleaned it up, as a squatter had filled it up with eight garbage trucks’ work of junk.

That was the beginning of the Teen Challenge ministry. At that time, the average person living outside the big city had no idea how bad the gang problem was, or that an epidemic of drug addiction (primarily heroin) had begun. David’s description of being in a room with a few people who were shooting up heroin was especially vivid.  In the book, he says: “I had never felt so close to hell.” He also wrote users’ descriptions of how they were forced into gangs, and how easy it was to get sucked into using drugs and then selling them to support their own habits.

This much love could not be contained to one city. Teen Challenge houses sprang up all over the country. Other people grabbed the torch and ran with it, although David continued to be involved until his death in 2011. One man with almost no money, but endless love for his God and his fellow man, made the world a better place by the way he lived and loved. If ever there was a book to inspire us to help others, this is it!


Those Old Photo Albums – part 3

2017-09-08 photo album falling apart Denmark pictures

Who are these people? The pictures are beautiful, with their soft worn edges and sepia coloring. They came from my father’s side of the family, but he had no idea who they were. He kept them for the same reason I keep them – they are somehow family. We are connected to each other by the threads of time and genealogies.

Danish picture 3 front side possible Howard's grandparents

These folks looks absolutely nothing like anyone in the family. I imagine that the woman is thinking of something funny and trying not to laugh. Her husband is trying to remain perfectly still for the photographer. Lovely people to get to know, I think.


Danish picture 2 front side

Oh, would I love to go to the “old country” and see this little cottage with its fruit trees and flowering bushes in the front yard. More people I don’t know. Is the man in the uniform a postal carrier or a constable? Hmmm.


Danish picture 1 front side

This picture puzzles me. It almost looks like a postcard, but there must be some reason it was kept in with the family pictures. Was someone in the family the pastor of this church? Maybe there’s a cemetery beyond the brick wall where our relatives are buried. Or maybe men in our family constructed the church with their hands, and wanted a good picture of what they helped build.

If there’s one thing I’m learning from this scanning project, it’s:
Write the date and the name of the people and places on the back of the pictures!





Those Old Photo Albums – part 2

picture from 1970's all orange and pink

Amazing how terrible the color is in many of our “color” photos! I find myself trying to adjust the color of pictures that have a hideous green look, purplish faces, red-as-a-beet skin tones, or a bizarre orange/pink look (like the one above). Some pictures can be improved by adjusting the color balance, but sadly, I have given up on many and simply changed them to black and white.

picture from 1970's all orange and pink converted to black and white

I also found blurry pictures, pictures that cut off half of someone’s face, and pictures with eyes closed. Why did we keep these pictures? I guess it was because years ago, every photo counted. There were 24 frames in a roll of standard camera film and you paid to get them developed, so you felt obliged to keep all but the absolute worst. And let’s face it, because we didn’t have a lot of practice with picture-taking, some of our shots were pretty bad. But even so, those photos document a time and a place in our family history. So on I go with the scanning.


Those Old Photo Albums – part 1

2017-09-08 photo album falling apart

Several weeks ago I passed by the neat row of family photo albums and thought: hey, I should finish scanning these pictures. Some had already been scanned into the computer by our youngest son, but many had not. So I grabbed the first one and carried it over to the scanner. But as soon as I opened it and started flipping through pages, the pictures – as well as the plastic covers – started sliding out. It seemed that somewhere along the years, that lovely stickiness on the pages had lost its stickiness.

I sighed and started scanning. Each day I try to do a little scanning, but I can see that this project is going to take way longer than originally thought.

Mockingjay – by Suzanne Collins (2010)


In the final book of the “Hunger Games” trilogy, it’s meltdown time. The citizens of Panem are finally ready to revolt and overthrow the oppressive, tyrannical government. They want Katniss – the Mockingjay – to lead them into battle against the President and the Capital. But Katniss – as well as Peeta – is battered, exhausted, and mentally deranged by this point. The rebellion is chaotic and bloody. The lines between who is friend and who is foe begin to blur. But in the end there is freedom and a chance to rebuild.

Catching Fire – by Suzanne Collins (2009)

Catching Fire

This is the second book in the “Hunger Games” trilogy. It picks up where the first book left off. The annual games are over. Katniss and Peeta are physically and emotionally exhausted, but now are expected to go around Panem on a victory tour to show support for the government and the Games. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the President orders a re-match of the brutal fight-to-the-death games.

There has been discontent for a long time, and hints of a rebellion. No one wants to live under a dictatorship, and everyone is tired of the government’s brutality. It’s time for a change, but they need someone to lead them. It will take just as much courage for someone to stand up and say “No more!” as it will to be a gladiator.


Save Those Pancakes!

pancaakes 2

The week before school started, the grand-kids were over and I decided to fry up some pancakes for them. But not just any pancakes – chocolate chip pancakes! I stirred up the pancake mix and dropped 4 small blobs of it into the large frying pan (about 1/4 cup for each). I quickly sprinkled chocolate chips into the batter.

pancakes 1

When the edges of the pancakes turned brown and air bubbles rose all over the pancakes, I flipped them over and cooked the other side. Then onto the plates went the piping hot pancakes, with syrup on the side for dipping. (These pancakes are so rich you don’t want to pour syrup over them.)

There was some left-over batter, so I just made up some more chocolate chip pancakes. After they cooled, I put pairs of them in sandwich baggies with folded wax paper between them to prevent them from sticking together. Today I pulled out one of the baggies and popped the frozen pair into the toaster. Just like pop-tarts, they were ready in under a minute. Instant breakfast at a fraction of the cost!