You Can't Go Wrong With A Minneola

Ok, this is not a paid piece of advertising from the Florida or California citrus industry.  No, it is a simple testimony to encourage you to try a splendiferous fruit—the minneola tangelo.

If there was a minneola tangelo tree in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve could have avoided a lot of heartache by sampling a minneola instead of succumbing to that other tree.

Sadly, there was no minneola around during Adam and Eve’s time.

According to several reliable sites, the minneola was given a public debut in 1931 from the USDA Horticulture Research facility near Orlando, Florida. The minneola is a cross between a Duncan grapefruit and a Dancy mandarin. The fruit is named after Minneola, Florida, a town in Lake County with a population just over 12,000.

The minneola has an unusual shape. On the stem end there is nipple/neck which gives the fruit a bell shaped appearance. For this shape, some Florida packing houses call the minneola a honey bell.

I reached out to a citrus organization in Florida via e-mail asking some questions about the minneola. But, no one ever responded back. Maybe, they are too busy marketing, packing and shipping, or eating minneolas. 

Every January, I anxiously await the arrival of the minneola in our local grocery stores. And thankfully, they keep showing up. Apparently,  minneolas have an availability from December into February. 

The cold, bleakness of winter usually gets a bad rap. But in truth we also, moan, groan, and whine about miserable humidity and heat in the summer.

But, if you have the winter blues, I have a cure.  Go buy some minneolas. I promise you that the sweet, tart taste of a minneola will brighten the most dismal gray, frigid winter day. 

This citrus fruit is worth making the drive to the grocery store. 

You will not regret it. 

Don’t wait. 

Go now, before I selfishly beat you to the store and buy more.

Down By Three

I will forever cherish my introduction to basketball.

 It was a spring afternoon on a Saturday. From out of nowhere two of my fourth grade classmates, Johnny Huffman and Tommy Hinson, were at my house. The invitation was to walk back to Johnny’s house to play basketball.

Permission was granted for me to make this journey. We made the walk along West Front Street to Ridgecrest. The Huffman house was the last on the right corner. In the backyard was a concrete driveway in the shape of a capital “T”. At the top of the driveway was a perfectly placed basketball goal.

All I can tell you is I played horribly that afternoon, but I had the time of my life. And even though my skill sets limited my future play to the church league at our local YMCA, my affection for basketball has never left. 

Of course when you grow up in Burlington, North Carolina, you are in the heart of Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) territory, and I quickly became swallowed up in all things related to basketball in the ACC.

Because my parents were hopeful that I might eventually become a Methodist minister, I developed an allegiance for the team who wore the darker shade of blue uniforms. And, I will also admit that in recent years, I follow the college game from a distance. I get too wound up when I watch a game. There is only so much verbal abuse that a non-responsive TV monitor can take.

I still grumble about the expansion of the ACC. This from my perspective was all about money with no logical consideration given to geography.

The game has given birth to recruiting outstanding players who play the college game for a year, and then depart for the pros—money. For the life of me, I don’t understand why Coach K has bought into this approach. 

From the number of NCAA investigations, the recruitment of college athletes who end up playing basketball appears to be a septic tank. And of course, the NCAA rationale in some of its decisions makes people question— are all of their brain cells working?

And if that isn’t enough, how about the wonderful exhibition of sportsmanship at the end of the game on Tuesday night, January 21 between Kansas and Kansas State. 

In case you are wondering, there was no sportsmanship. In the closing seconds, with Kansas way ahead—a brawl erupted between the two teams. You can go back and watch the replays—a very sad, embarrassment.

I know nothing about the finer points of basketball, but in the last minutes of a game and your team is a head by 20 or more points—why are starting players still in the game for either team? 

Don’t the other members of the team deserve some real on court time? How does the parent of a bench rider feel after traveling hundreds of miles hoping that their son might enter the game for a couple of minutes? Wonder if in those closing minutes a star player is injured? Would the ending of the Kansas/Kansas State game been different if both teams had their starters out of the game?

I’m not sure, but I am slowly coming to the conclusion that there just might be more important things in life to worry about than being down by three points with only seconds left in a college basketball game.

Over the last year, a friend at my local YMCA has been in a battle with prostate cancer. It has been a roller coaster. Good moments, lousy moments, hope, no hope—you know cancer, it is a real septic tank.

At some point in the last couple of months,  I saw my friend, and he reported good news. A recent test revealed his prostate readings were down three points. He was thrilled. He had hope. His doctor had new optimism.

Made me wonder how many people out there are hoping their prostate readings will drop by any amount. Sadly in many instances that hope will never happen. The readings will never drop.

The madness of March will be here before we know it. 

And I am certain that the lives of many fans will be destroyed by the 18 and 19 year old players who couldn’t make a three point basket in the closing seconds of a game.

If this happens to you, hit your personal pause button.

Think about that individual out there in our world who needs a different kind of three in their life. 

Making a three point basket to win or tie a game is nothing compared to the hope they need.

 Especially, if this means living or dying.

How is your thermostat?

Before I drove my mother-in-law back to Connecticut on December 27, I shut the boilers down at our church. The National Weather Service was forecasting mild temperatures for these early days of winter. So, I figured to save the church a few pennies with this shutdown.

Of course, well-intentioned plans in a church might elicit push back.

I will admit the Sanctuary was cool on Sunday morning. But, it wasn’t in my humble opinion bone chilling cold, the temperature outside was 44. My hope was that our congregation could adapt.

As soon as the first service was over, a very nice member of our congregation complained about her cold discomfort in the Sanctuary.

Next, at the 9:30 service, as soon as a couple walked in they made a comment about the Sanctuary being cold.

And to top it off, the head usher at the 11 o’clock service noted on the attendance card that the Sanctuary was cold.

On Christmas Eve, I did not fire up the boiler for the Sanctuary at all. It was too mild outside, plus we had lots of 98.6 bodies in the Sanctuary. That wasn’t the case on the Sunday after Christmas. Lots of our congregation were MIA (missing in action).

So, if it took you several hours to warm up on Sunday afternoon once you departed our church, I apologize. Don’t blame God, you can blame that knucklehead, the Director of Operations, me.

Our building has at least five different types of thermostats. My favorite ones are in some of the classrooms in the children’s wing. The best way to raise and lower the temperature for these thermostats is by using a pencil eraser.

No matter where I have worked in my career, thermostats can be a source of frustration at times. A room can be too hot or too cold. When you factor in our own human thermostats finding comfortable middle ground can be a nightmare for an HVAC technician.

I would imagine that thermostats are not a worry for God and Jesus up in the blue yonder.  But, I wonder what they think about how we manage our personal thermostats on a daily basis down here on earth?

Today, I don’t think it takes too much for our incivility to raise our thermostats to dangerous levels. Often, it appears that a very tiny disagreement can rapidly agitate a person’s thermostat. Sadly, that agitation might make a person react in an unreasonable and sometimes harmful manner. 

 Every year, we seem to have more and more encounters where civility is missing. In those situations, sometimes, a person makes a decision that will potentially not only ruin his/her life, but the lives of others too.

I wonder where the Golden Rule was in that person’s thermostat settings? Maybe God and Jesus are wondering the same as they look down upon us—“Have our friends on earth completely forgotten the Golden Rule?

At times, myself included, I think we have forgotten the basic premise for Matthew 7:12: “you should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you.”

On Sunday morning, December 29, I didn’t apply that treatment to those in our congregation who were shivering. I was attempting to be a good steward of resources, but I failed.

I’m sure the seasonal changes in temperature will continue to challenge thermostat controls in our church building. Certainly, those who were a bit chilly on Sunday morning hope that I learned a lesson.

But, as I move into the early days of 2020, keeping my own personal thermostat grounded to the basics of the Golden Rule will be an important test too. 

I can’t let the frenzied pace of daily living relinquish the merits of the Golden Rule. In those moments when the pace of life is pushing my thermostat in the wrong direction, I must be willing to hit that pause button.

Pausing to recalibrate my real thermostat—my heart, can’t be overlooked when I need to apply the Golden Rule.

Those Golden Rule moments for my thermostat are out ahead me in 2020. 

I pray I’m ready, how about you?