The Big Freeze (Angel in the Kitchen)


We’d like to introduce you to yet another member of our family of faithful kitchen appliances: our upright freezer! Take a bow, Freezer! Freezer? Ahem. Sorry, folks, but he prefers to be addressed as MISTER Freeze! Okay, that’s cool. Now say hello to our readers, Mr. Freeze.

Mr. Freeze? Uh, he’s not talking today. Please forgive him. Like Mr. T, he has a bit of an attitude but, after all, it is his nature to be cold.

Mr. Freeze has been with us for quite a few years. He’s older than his cousin, Fridgey. In fact, he’s the eldest of his clan, and he’ll soon turn 25! — Mr. Freeze! Be nice. (He doesn’t like it when we discuss his age.) Anyway, because Mr. Freeze is an older — excuse us — a “classic” model, he has a habit of quickly accumulating a thick layer of ice on each of his shelves. But as we’ll soon explain, this characteristic has come in handy.

Mr. Freeze is a loner — mostly — so he resides in our garage. But he’s never totally alone; Mr. Freeze periodically hangs out with our blue SUV. That is, when Blue isn’t running the road. And at night, while we sleep, these two faithful servants share stories. Blue usually has the most exciting tales to relate, hair-raising adventures of the freeway and … well ….

Mr. Freeze has his own share of legends to relate, and one night he — What? Okay. Mr. Freeze wants to tell the story:

It was a dark and stormy night … and all through the house, not a creature was stirring — except this one goofy mouse.

Christmas Eve Caper: “Did somebody say big cheese?” NO! We said Big FREEZE!

That was way back in 1999, during the early morning hours of Christmas Eve. While my friends, Tom and Wilma, snoozed, a massive ice storm moved over the southeast and dropped several inches of freezing rain. (Grrr, what a show-off!)

My friends awoke to the sounds of tree branches breaking under the weight of a thick coating of ice. (The nerve! I make the ice around here!) Anyway, there were downed power lines everywhere, and Woodhaven didn’t have electricity for ten days. But did Tom and Wilma’s food go bad? Not while I’m on the job!

Sure, I didn’t have any power either, but I’m well insulated; and my layers of ice kept things good and cold — just like a big igloo cooler! So everything that needed refrigeration, I kept nice and fresh! Hey, Fridgey, did ya hear that?

Mister Freeze, open wide and say “Aah.” My, what thick ice you have!

Um, we all heard it, Mr. Freeze. But yes, it’s true, you saved the day! You’re a hero, a true legend in the annals of kitchen history. And because you’re an elder appliance, you deserve our respect and admiration.

By the way, some people are just like Mr. Freeze: they come across as cold (and distant). When we get around these people, they tend to give us a frosty reception (they’re grumpy). But like Mr. Freeze, they’ve endured many storms in life. Their outlook and emotions have been chilled by hurts and disappointments; and they’ve built up protective layers to insulate themselves from the world. Many of them have become as cold and hardened as pack ice.

Jesus warns us, “Because lawlessness will multiple, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12 Holman Christian Standard) In other words, the chill of our hurts and disappointments can cause pain, resentment, distrust, unforgiveness, and even a general feeling of bitterness to accumulate like layers of ice around our hearts. We can eventually become much like the shelves within Mr. freeze: bound by “ice” and frozen in life.

It’s easy to turn and walk away from people who are hurting and “iced up.” Because as Joyce Meyers often states, “Hurting people hurt people.” But the mister and missus freezes of this world nevertheless need our help, as well as the thawing influence of genuine love. King Solomon wrote, “Love is as strong as death…. [It] flashes like fire…. Many waters cannot quench love….” (Song of Solomon 8:6-7 NLT)

Love is the most powerful force in the universe; and God’s love is life’s universal antifreeze. 1 Corinthians 13 describes its “composition.” When we apply it, God’s supernatural Agape Love allows us to endure a little frostbite and eventually break through the ice that insulates people. God’s Love allows us to look beyond bad attitudes and nasty dispositions. It enables our Lord to use us to melt the coldest heart.

So drop the ice pick and put down the tongs, because “Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:8 ISV)


In the Coils of the Creator (Encouragement for Creators)


President George W. Bush declared it the national toy of the United States; and in his 2002 State of the Union address he stated, “I can not think of a recreational device that better exemplifies the inventiveness of the American spirit.”

Over the last 70 years it’s sold well over 300 million units.

It owes it’s unique ability to descend a staircase to “simple harmonic motion,” the mechanics of which are governed by Hooke’s Law and gravity. (Huh?!? Don’t worry about this particular point; we promise there won’t be a quiz.)

In 1995, it got a plum role in Pixar’s Toy Story. What on earth are we discussing? According to the popular jingle sung on numerous TV commercials, “a spring, a spring — a marvelous thing! Everyone knows it’s Slinky.” And it was created by accident!

In 1943, at a shipyard in Philadelphia, a naval mechanical engineer named Richard James was designing support springs that would be able to cushion and stabilize sensitive shipboard instruments during rough seas. He accidentally knocked one of his springs from a shelf, and was amazed to see it “step” down a stack of books, then walk across his worktable, before finally doing a summersault onto the floor. James the inventor instantly recognized a good thing, and he was ready to run with it. When he got home that evening, he told his wife, Betty, that he wanted to experiment further with the spring. He was convinced that — using the right properties of steel, and finding the perfect tension — he could create a toy that walked all by itself. James’ wife was skeptical, until — after a year of fiddling with various springs — HE DID IT!

James unveiled his creation to a group of neighborhood kids who all cheered the “sleek and graceful” new toy. Wife Betty decided to call it a Slinky, which means … um … “sleek and graceful.”  Trivia time: the original Slinky was two and a half inches tall and was made of 98 coils of high-grade blue-black Swedish steel. A local machine shop produced the first batch of 400 units; and initially, Richard and Betty James had trouble convincing toy stores to carry the product. The Gimbels department store in Philadelphia finally allowed the couple to set up an inclined plank in the toy section, where they demonstrated the Slinky to wide-eyed kids and their parents. Those first 400 units — each hand-wrapped in bright yellow paper and priced at $1 — sold out in 90 minutes.

But that’s nothing. During its first 2 years, the newly-formed James Industries sold 100 million Slinkys at a dollar apiece. Adjusting for inflation, that’s equivalent to $1 Billion!

In 1960, Richard James left the company, and Betty took sole ownership; and she continued to preside over the ever-growing business until 1998. During those 38 years, she insisted on keeping the price of the original Slinky affordable. Betty once told The New York Times, “So many children can’t have expensive toys, and I feel a real obligation to them.”

And what of Richard? After creating one of the most unique and unusual, most popular and profitable, toys ever known, what does a millionaire inventor do for an encore? Well, after leaving his company in 1960, Richard James became an evangelical missionary in Bolivia with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Strange? That’s not for us to decide.

But what’s the lesson in the Story of Slinky? That’s not for us to decide, either. There are several things we can take from this tale. For us to single out any one of them would minimize the others. What did you take from it?

“Call to me, and I will answer you; I will tell you wonderful and marvelous things that you know nothing about.” (Jeremiah 33:3 GNT)