“I’m A Card Keeper”

When you are number nine of ten children you learn to accept a lot of things as fact. One fact is that you will only be able to find one or two of your baby pictures. And, if you’re lucky, when your aunts die, your cousins may mail some of your family photos back to you—usually the pictures your mother sent, but now they haven’t a clue who’s who in them (and could actually care less)! The only thing they recognize in the picture is the old Buick Century your daddy drove, because back then, everybody took pictures standing in front of the family car. It was just an unwritten “Kodak Moment” rule: People, car, stand by car, take picture, mail it to distant relatives.

Another fact I learned early that has stuck with me through the years is that since I was the ninth child, birthday parties were not big blowouts. As I recall, they eventually evolved into blowing out one candle atop a cupcake lit with daddy’s Zippo lighter, and a couple of bucks to spend on candy. That is, until my first fancy birthday card—a store-bought birthday card with Superman on the front! My sister Betty Faye had started to work for Woolworth’s Five and Dime, and had bought me that birthday card and some comic books. The comics were great, but the card was awesome. I read it over and over, then read it again and again, and then hid it in my cigar treasure box.

Card Keeper, Card Reader

However, I was addicted. I not only became a card keeper, but also a card reader. In my younger years, I’d find myself in front of the Lloyd’s Drugstore card rack, reading and thinking how a few wonderful words could make my heart spring to life, when only moments before it may have been flatlined with failure and disappointment.

A real “keeper card” doesn’t have to be bodacious, and should be worded in such a way that the person reading it doesn’t need you to underline a single word, because it would distract from the others. I’ve watched in bewilderment as men approach the special occasion card rack displaying hundreds of beautiful cards, then halfheartedly pick, pay for, and intend to present a card to someone they love, when they’re not even sure what it says!

I’m a card keeper. I still have the cards Mollie gave me when we were first married. I have cards my baby sister sent me years ago for my birthday. I have a mountainous collection of refrigerator “I Love You Papa” cards from my children and grandchildren—because I know they meant it. I’m a card keeper.

Today’s e-cards are nice, but there’s just something special about waking up on Valentine morning in the same house as the one you love, and there on the kitchen counter is a card—a “keeper card” that you can pick up in your hands and allow those written words to filter through your fingers into your heart.

It’s a lot like opening up an old Bible that has become so much a part of you, and reading John 3:16 aloud to yourself: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Now there’s a Valentine “I Love You” line! And it’s a keeper because I know our Heavenly Father means it.

Why don’t you send Him an “I Love You Prayer Card?”

I’m sure He’ll keep it!  

  Pastor Hal Steenson


“Home Free”

John 14:2 (Amplified Bible) “In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places (homes). If it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going away to prepare a place for you.”

The telephone pole under the streetlight was our Hide and Seek home base, Burt Coley was “It” and I was hiding behind Daddy’s 1956 Buick Century. I knew he would eventually have to move away from home base and start searching for all of us hiding in the shadows of that moonlit summer’s night.

Burt was fast, but I knew that I was faster—all I needed was for him to venture a little farther away from the pole and I would run like the wind. I would streak from the darkness and run toward the light. Even if he caught me, he still had to hold onto me, count to 10 and say, “You’re It.” However, he didn’t stand a chance; I was too fast and in a few seconds, I’d be “Home Free” and rejoicing in the light.

Like a speeding bullet, I shot out from behind the big Buick and headed for home base. Unfortunately my friend, Porky had the same idea and clobbered me from the left side. We both  screamed in pain as Burt headed toward us—one of us was going to be “It” and I didn’t want it to be me. However, I only weighted about 75 pounds and Porky topped out at over 150 pounds, so guess who was left sprawled on the ground? I was an easy mark for Burt and Porky made it home free along with the rest of our gang.

That was 55 years ago and I’m still heading for home base; however, it’s not the home base of the light pole. I now press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. I’m no longer concerned about the “Porky’s” of life that try to blind-side me, leaving me stunned, discouraged or defeated. I just continue towards the light, and that light is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I’m no longer fearful of the “Burts of life” trying to hold me back and making me the “It” of my own insecurities–because Jesus has given me all power over the enemy.

I now have a big brother, His name is Jesus, and He’s already run interference for me and He’s standing there encouraging me to run to the light. He has my home base prepared and He’s there waiting for me to come out of the darkness of this world, touch Him and shout “Home Free.”

1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

  Pastor Hal Steenson