A SALTY SERVICE
By Laura Lewis
That stump beside the driveway right there by the street was a thorn in my flesh.
Every spring (at my request) Ray would try different methods to make it disappear. He tried burning it, it wouldn’t burn. He tried cutting pieces off with a chain saw, and all he managed to do was dull the chain. Nothing seemed to work. We just didn’t want to admit defeat and call a Stump Removing Service.
So, we started just trying to eliminate the brush from growing out and around it every year because the brush (little tree limbs was what they were!) blocked the view from traffic when you were trying to pull or back out of the driveway…just enough that it was a tad dangerous.
One year I looked out the window and saw Ray riding around the yard mowing the grass which couldn’t be done, of course, without his headphones and radio. He was working hard keeping the yard looking good. (Smile)
My gaze was drawn towards my “favorite” spot…The Stump.
It stood there stoically in all its glory - arrayed with branches and weeds sprouting tall and bent on being taller. We’d been on a long tour and hadn’t been able to keep them trimmed like usual. With Ray working so “hard” on the yard, I thought, “I know what I’ll do…I’ll get a hoe and chop those weeds and branches off that stump. At least that’ll help him a little, plus I’m not about to let The Stump get the jump on us one more day!”
I went to the shed to get a hoe and couldn’t find one. And then I thought, I don’t need a hoe, I need an axe! Not finding one, I thought, “I’m not going to be denied my attempt at keeping that stump from getting the best of us. I’m in the mood to do this and nothing is going to stop me!”
I jumped in the car and drove to Ace Hardware and bought an axe. Back home in twenty minutes and ready to chop! I went into the house to “dress” for this occasion and Ray had come in for a drink of water. He said, “What are you up to, Babe?” I said, “I’m going to help you in the yard, Sweetheart! I’m going to chop the limbs and weeds on and around The Stump.” He replied, “Well, be sure to wear long sleeves and gloves because there’s a lot of Poison Ivy around it. That’s why I’ve had such a hard time getting at it through the years.” No problem, I said, and I was off to the chore!
As I went upstairs to gear up for this event, I remembered when I was growing up and my siblings and I would go into the woods to pick huckleberries or blackberries. Mother would make sure we put on a shirt with long sleeves, socks, the whole works. I was reminiscing about all of that as I grabbed a long shirt from a hanger, then went to a drawer and pulled out some gloves.
The phone rang about that time and I answered it. When I finished the conversation, I tore off down the stairs, ran out to the porch and picked up my brand new axe. I was ready to work! 90 degrees and I was dressed for 50, but that didn’t matter. I was gonna have fun trimming That Stump down to size! (Smile)
Well, as you’ve probably already noticed, after I hung up the phone I didn’t walk over and pick up my gloves! I forgot all about them! Uh-oh!
The saga continues…
I chopped, I pulled, I wrestled, I trimmed, I wiped sweat continuously off my forehead, around my eyes, etc. Man, what a mistake! But I thought I was okay, because I thought I was keeping clear of the Poison Ivy.
When I finished, I had a sizeable pile of brush for all my efforts. I was soooooooooo proud of myself! I went into the house and shed the hot clothes, ran through the shower (I made a bad situation worse is what I did, since water helps to spread Poison Ivy! Smile) and fixed us something to eat.
That was all done on Friday. By that night I was itching here and there, mostly on my arms and forehead. Ray said, “I told you so.” I thought, “Nothing to it, I’ll just put some Calamine Lotion on it and that’ll be that.” So, off my darling husband went to the store to get some. On with the lotion.
Saturday we left for a ten-day tour into Louisiana, starting in Montgomery, Alabama on Sunday morning. By Saturday night I was a mess. I had Poison Ivy everywhere; especially on my arms and face.
Sunday morning arrived much too soon. I was able to cover my face with heavy make-up and not look too ridiculous (Smile), but the Poison Ivy was very close to my eyes and I knew that as soon as we finished this service I would have to go straight to a hospital emergency room before my eyes would be swollen shut! It was all I could do to not scratch my arms to pieces; they were really bad. Calamine Lotion was just not working. What to do, what to do, we’re thinking…
Ray came up with a neat idea for my arms (Bless his heart) (Smile). He said, “Babe, I’ve heard of instances when folks got into the ocean with ant or mosquito bites, all that saltwater made them heal pretty quick.” Well, what do you suppose we did with that box of salt we had in the motor home pantry! Ray mixed it with some water to make a thick paste, that’s what! We were carrying Christian T-Shirts on our product table at that time, so he took one of the white ones and cut it into large strips. Then he plastered my arms with the salt mixture and wound the t-shirt strips round and round my arms like a bandage. I wore a long-sleeved black blazer and skirt outfit. I felt like a zombie by the time we walked through the door.
Of all things, this was the first time we’d ever been to this church!
Well, everything went well while Ray and I were singing our first three songs together. I sat down while he sang three or four of his compositions, then he brought me back up to sing a few of mine.
Little did I know that - while Ray had been singing - the salt had been drying. Yep, drying. Just waiting for its grand entrance to the stage!
When I stood up and walked up to stand beside Ray…a trail of salt accompanied me, falling out of each sleeve onto the dark carpet (my face was as dark as the carpet, though). As I reached out to pick up my microphone, salt just flew out from my arm. I was a walking salt-bomb going off. (Smile)
By this time folks had funny looks on their faces. They didn’t know whether to laugh or be afraid of me. (Smile) So I knew we’d have to tell them about The Salt. About the Poison Ivy. And The Stump.
Everybody laughed with us as I sang, walking to and fro across the stage spreading salt everywhere! (Smile) We had a great service that day. I’ll never forget the compassion I felt from that wonderful congregation. Afterwards they directed us to the local hospital where I was given a shot and some medication and started to get better right away.
We’ve had about every kind of service you can think of as we travel back and forth across this vast nation. Some have been kind of quiet and laid-back while others were hallelujah shouting, bench-jumping services. But thank the Lord we’ve only had one Salty Service.
What about The Stump, you ask? I don’t want to discuss it! (Smile)
HOW ON EARTH DID THAT HAPPEN!
By Laura Lewis
Lewis & Lewis wrote feature articles for a Gospel Music magazine for several years, and in talking with different artists while preparing our stories, I was always amused when a member of a singing group would tell me that their bus driver "left" them in the middle of the night at a truck stop while they were getting coffee, or something similar. Even though I knew the incidents were true, my thoughts would always be, "How on earth could that happen?"
Well, never in my wildest dreams did I think it would or could happen to me.
But it did.
Yes, I mean that. It really happened.
Ray & I were on a tour into Oklahoma and were going through Ft. Smith, Arkansas where we'd stopped at a Waffle House to get some of their wonderful coffee.
A few days before that, just as we drove up to a church for the Sunday night service and came to a stop, the parking brake cable snapped. Some men at the church found a big rock to put behind the back wheel, to "scotch" the bus. Later, since there wasn't time to have it repaired, Ray got a big (Did you notice how that was spelled? B-I-G!) angled piece of wood to use until we could get back home from this tour.
Guess whose job it was to be The Brakeman! (Brakewoman, in this instance).
Every time the bus had to stop for fuel or whatever, I had to jump down and put that twenty-pound (from my point of view) block of wood under the wheel. Can you just see this? I'm a dignified great-grandmother trying to be a professional Gospel singer, and here I am driving up to this awesome almost-million-dollar church that's never seen us, and I am jumping off the bus being a brakeperson. (Smile) However, I'm a trouper, so I just grin as I do it (in case somebody is watching me), and prance back on that bus as if somebody in everybody's bus has the same job.
Back to the coffee at Waffle House...It was in the middle of the morning when we stopped, and this Waffle House was located in a busy little shopping center. We finished our coffee, went back out to the bus and boarded. Since I had the cell phone in my hand, I walked up to the front (our bus is a motor home, and the door is in the middle) and laid it on the dash, then walked back, got off the bus again to wait on Ray to start the motor and pull up a little so I could get The Special Block of Wood.
He started the motor, pulled up and...up...and...up...and kept going! I couldn't move I was so stunned. I do remember the sensation of my mouth falling open. There he went up the highway, and there I stood in the middle of that parking lot---with that stupid twenty-pound block of wood (no, by this time it definitely weighed thirty!) in my hand and folks everywhere were looking at me!
Without blinking an eye, though, I reached down inside me and pulled up some pride (Where on earth did I find that?), raised my chin just a tad...and walked towards the Waffle House door to go in and ask if there was a pay-phone around, since I didn't see one anywhere.
I know what you're thinking...No, I did NOT take the Awful Block inside with me. (Smile) As I walked inside, of course it was as I thought...Everyone was looking at me. I said with a tremor in my voice (Now where did that come from!), "My husband left me." Then I realized how that sounded, I continued, "But he didn't mean to!" (Some chuckles) Is there a pay-phone around here?" "No," they all answered, "But you can use my cell phone," one nice man said as he handed it to me.
I looked at it stupidly, trying to focus on who I was and what I was doing and what in the world was my own cell phone number with Ray at the end of it...Seeing that I was dazed, the man said, "Give me your number and I'll dial it for you." From somewhere I heard my voice (Was that me?) give it to him. He dialed it and handed it to me. I listened to it ring and ring...(When we're traveling down the highway I'm always the one to answer the phone while Ray's driving)...and ring...(If I'm not up front to answer it, then he yells for me-and that's exactly what he later told me he'd done)...and ring...Then Ray finally answered with an exasperated, "Hello!" I said, "Sweetheart?" There was a long pause...(I could just see him taking the phone away from his ear to put it in front of him---as if that would explain why it was my voice on it talking to him---and watch the traffic at the same time. After talking to him later, that's exactly what he'd done). I said, "You left me!" Another long pause (He was beginning to get the picture). Then he found his voice. "I'll be there in a minute." Yeah, right. It would be more like ten. I said thank you to everybody in general and made my way out the door, so I could keep The Precious Block of Wood company.
When Ray drove back up in a cloud of dust (Ha! He was worried!), I picked up my forty-pound (yes, it was!) block of wood and climbed back on the bus and closed the door. Then I started laughing...and Ray chuckled a little, not knowing if I was gonna be hysterical or what...and I couldn't stop laughing, so he got tickled, too. So we left that parking lot laughing together, both thinking, what a story! Did this really happen?
Yep, it did.
And the twenty (not even that much I don't think) pound Special Block of Wood.
LIKE PAUL & SILAS
By Laura Lewis
A few years ago before Lewis & Lewis bought our present motor home, we were traveling in our Lincoln TownCar. On one particular trip to Macon, GA, the car had started to just "cut out" while cruising down the interstate.
Almost to our destination, we exited into the parking lot of a Wal-Mart to grab a last-minute item that I needed. Wouldn't you know it, the car would not start when we got back in it, no matter what Ray tried! We finally had to call a garage that had a towing service and had them come and pull our car in. We then called the pastor of the church where we were going to be that night, several miles away. He headed in our direction to pick us up at the garage. When he arrived, we loaded all our sound system, clothes, and everything we thought we’d need into his van. We barely made it to church on time to set up!
As it turned out, it was to be one of the funniest trips we'd ever made...Back then we were just beginning to sing with our sound tracks on CD's with our new CD player, but we still kept our cassettes handy, too, because most churches had a cassette player if something were to happen to our CD player. Well...we were shocked to find that we had left the CD player sitting inside the garage where the car was! We'd unloaded it from our trunk, but set it down on something for a minute and forgot to load it in the van! No problem, we thought. We did remember to bring the case that had all our cassettes in it. And would you believe it, the church did not have a cassette player! What a funny dilemma! We didn't miss a beat, though (No time for wailing and gnashing of teeth-LOL), we just got dressed quickly and sang with Ray's guitar and me playing the piano. Everyone understood what had happened, laughed with us, and said they enjoyed that even better than us singing with our sound tracks!
Made it over that hurdle....We had a good night's sleep and the pastor carried us back to the garage the next day. "Fixed!" they said. "Wonderful!" we replied. We loaded everything from the pastor’s van into the Lincoln, paid 'way over $100 for whatever was wrong and away we went. You see, we were due to sing that evening in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. No problem....normally, that is. What we didn't know was that our not-so-normal trip was just about to begin.
By the time we got almost to Atlanta, all of a sudden the car started to jump and buck and cut off like it did before it was supposedly fixed! Man, we were stunned, aggravated, rattled, mad, and whatever other adjective you want to think of. How on earth were we going to get to Tuscaloosa on time???
We were in the middle of around six lanes of traffic when all of a sudden (Don’t you just love that phrase-LOL) the motor just cut off like it had before it was supposedly fixed. Now: Do you remember how God parted the Red Sea with Moses holding the wheel in his hand? Oh, that was a rod, wasn’t it. (Smile) Well, Ray’s getting the car to the side of the interstate in the middle of all those lanes of traffic zipping by at a hundred miles an hour (Sure seemed like it, anyway) (Smile) was the equivalent to the Red Sea miracle! Moses, I mean Ray, was white as a ghost. (Smile) We sat there a minute composing ourselves...
I knew Ray was thinking “man” thoughts like, “What on earth is going on with this car?”, etc., picturing mechanical things in the motor trying to figure out what was wrong, but I was getting pretty angry at the devil. How dare he try and keep us from sharing our music ministry! So when Ray said, “Babe, we’re not gonna make Tuscaloosa tonight”, that anger I was feeling started right at my toes and zipped up through my brain. And when it did, you know what followed? The story about old Paul and Silas. How everything looked pretty dark, but they didn't let it bother them...They just decided to pray and sing. I thought, why can't we do that, too? I didn't know of a reason why we couldn't, so I said to Ray, "I’m gonna sing!" (He looked over at me like he thought I’d “lost it”.) (Smile) I said, "We're not about to let the devil have the victory here!" I started singing “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,” you know that old hymn…Ray reached down to see if the car would start, and it did! He pulled back onto the interstate and the car kept running. We got on the interstate headed west to Alabama, car still going good. While I was singing one song, I was thinking of another one to sing next. I went from one right into another.
At one point my voice got tired and I stopped singing. You know what? That car stopped. Stopped. Right then. Sure did. When you commit your faith to something, you need to see it through…, do you see what I mean? Anyway, Ray pulled over to the side of the road again, grinned at me and said, “Well, I guess I’d better help you sing.” (Ya think? Smile) So, he turned the switch, the motor sprang to life, he started singing a song and pulled back out on the interstate. Here we went! With victory! I had a song ready to sing when he finished his, and we just kept doing that. I mean to tell you if we ended a song and rested a minute, the car started to buck and jump. So, we didn't stop singing from then on, and it worked!!!
We'd gotten a little ways into Alabama and by this time I knew we were both getting hungry. It was my time to sing, so instead of singing, “I’ll fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away”…I sang “I’m so hungry, I’m about to starve to death.” Ray grinned and began looking for fast-food signs. When he spotted a KFC sign, he exited, left the car running and me singing-LOL, went inside to get food, came back out, then I ate chicken while he sang. Then he ate while I sang. (Smile) What a time we had! About as good as the service ol’ Paul & Silas had! You know something? We drove up to our destination in Tuscaloosa with time to spare. What a God we serve!!!
After that service, we did have to have someone else work on the car and find the real problem and fix it. However, that trip was a lesson for us! A lesson of how you can trust God and He’ll come through for you! You know why I know trusting God works? It worked for Paul & Silas. It’ll work for you, too. You can take it from Paul & Silas…and me!
By Ray Lewis
Having arrived at senior citizen status and no doubt believed by some to be having a mid-life crisis, may I (Ray Lewis) affirm that it’s way too late in my life to be having a “mid-life” anything. Let’s just call it being born again and reveling in my second childhood.
Part of this reveling started a couple of years ago when I purchased a motorcycle. I’d always wanted to learn to fly, but finances and time never got together where I could make that happen. As I gracefully aged, I finally realized that my dreams as a ‘bird-man” must be eternally laid to rest. So instead of boring holes in the air in a beautiful Aircoupe (my favorite airplane), I found a little used Suzuki motorcycle to patch my “dream-hole”.
This little machine intimidated me to the max. It was heavy and my bones were fragile. It had a tendency to jump forward when I gave it the gas, and I had a tendency to think, “This is the dumbest thing an old man could be doing.” But I persevered! It only took a year of circling the yard, then the block, before I took the Motorcycle Safety Course and passed with flying colors. Maybe “flying colors” is a stretch, but I passed, got my license and became street-legal.
For another year I roamed the country roads around our home and occasionally carried the mail to the post office on this little two-wheel fire-breathing monster. Laura thought I looked really cute in my shiny chrome helmet and sun-shades as I zipped up and down the road in front of our house at a sizzling 35 to 40 miles per hour! I kept asking her to lose the word “cute” and insert the word “cool”. (Truth is, for an ole geezer, I thought I was pretty happening too.)
Then one day I was surfing eBay when this beautiful Honda GoldWing caught my eye. It wasn’t old, it was vintage…like me. A 1983 model to be exact. I watched the bidding for a couple of days. The more I looked, the more I was captivated by this graceful machine. So what if it was twice as heavy as my little Suzuki…not mention twice as fast! As a rider I had matured. I could handle the extra weight…and extra power. It was time to move on up to a serious “ride”. Again, at my age, if you’re gonna do something, you’d better get it done cause time is getting to be a commodity in short supply.
The downside to all this was that the auction would be over before we returned home from a week-end of services in Ohio. In fact, we would be in Columbus, Ohio on the Sunday night before the auction ended around noon on Monday. But then I noticed what had to be a definite “God-thing”. This motorcycle lived in Delaware, Ohio. That’s only fifteen miles north of Columbus! I told Laura about it and told her I was going to make a bid, and that I’d just take my chrome helmet along and in the unlikely case I happened to win the auction, I’d ride it back home to Tennessee. I was totally prepared for one of those “wifey” looks…you know guys, the kind that make us feel stupid. Instead she just smiled and said, “OK”. (I’m still trying to figure out why it was that I still felt stupid.)
Fast-forward to Columbus, Ohio. At noon on Monday I placed my final bid, and can you believe it….I WON. I was now the proud owner of a big boy toy. We drove the few miles to Delaware, OH and bright and early Tuesday morning I picked up my shiny prize. It was even more beautiful in person! Sparkling maroon paint with lots of shiny chrome to match my chrome helmet. The rumble of the motor was just right. I crawled aboard and fired her up. Laura was in the RV ready to follow me almost 400 miles back to Tennessee. Then I realized why I’d been having all the stupid feelings…I had over 300 miles of Interstate in front of me, not to mention Cincinnati and Louisville to ride through…and I’d never even ridden on a major highway, much less an interstate! Until this moment, my top speed on a motorcycle had only been around 50 mph. And that was only a couple of times when I was feeling kind of wild. What was I thinking? Oh well, nothing to do now but suck it in and ride this baby home. So off we went. At least a little common sense prevailed and I took Highway 41 South and went around Columbus instead of immediately jumping on I-71. For the next 100 miles I tooled along through the farms and hamlets of Southern Ohio. I even hit 55 mph a couple of times. The bike was “purring” and I was getting settled in to the feel of the weight and power. I learned very quickly when you roll the throttle on this baby, you’d better be ready to go somewhere because you are definitely going to move.
I followed Highway 41 all the way to Lebanon, OH. We pulled in to a station and I topped off the gas tank. Finally, the inevitable had arrived. It was Interstate time. Just five more miles and I would intersect the “super-slab” as it entered the northern edge of Cincinnati. There were a lot of thoughts swirling under my chrome helmet. The most prominent being, Ray Lewis, you’ve done a lot of dumb things in your life but this really takes the cake. You’ve got as much business being on a motorcycle in Cincinnati as Bill Gates has digging ditches.
I took the entrance ramp onto I-71 and was thrilled out of my mind that the speed limit was only 55 mph. (That means all I had to do was 60 and 65 mph to keep up with the traffic flow). I stayed in the right lane for a while until I got somewhat comfortable with this totally new experience. Then, I even changed lanes and passed some cars! Wheeeee! A couple of times Laura did in fact exchange the “cute” and “cool” labels to “stupid” when she said I hit 70 mph. I argued with her but then I wasn’t really watching the speedometer. I was too busy watching traffic, highway signs, and - last but not least - an escape route if things turned nasty.
As I crossed the Ohio River and climbed up the hill into Kentucky, my confidence soared. I can do this! Maybe I’m not as stupid as first thought.
Just before I-71 split toward Louisville, we stopped at a Steak & Shake for a quick bite to eat. When we sit down to order I realized how tired I was. “I can’t be this tired”, I thought, “I’ve still got almost 300 miles to go”. Although it had been cool when we left Delaware, OH, the August sun was now doing its thing and for the next 90 miles I would be riding straight into it. We finished eating and continued the homeward journey. Over the hills around the curves we went. I’m doing 70 mph now. I’m tired now. I just want to get home…now! We made good time. Too good in fact. We were about to hit Louisville at rush hour. Not good! So we pulled off at a rest area. We sat under a tree and I leaned back and took a nap. My face was sun-burned to a rosy red. I couldn’t see it but I could definitely feel it. We hung out at the rest area for an hour or so before heading on. I had Laura tie my handkerchief around my neck and I pulled it up over my nose…like the bandits in those old “B” western movies. It gave a little protection from the sun but the wind was constantly blowing it down.
When Louisville came in sight the traffic was still horrendous and I was making the transition from tired to miserable with still nearly 200 miles to go. My back, my neck, my legs, my entire body was screaming…”Why are you doing this to me”? Why had Laura not intervened in this foolishness? Why was she such a willing accomplice to this madness? How could she love me and allow me to do such a stupid thing? But then I thought of how God loves us, and yet he often allows us to gain wisdom and insight through our stupid decisions. O.K., Laura’s off the hook…but since she ain’t God she still should have said something…even though I would have vetoed it, she should have said something…..
We sailed through Louisville, picked up I-65 and headed south. The last leg of the journey…Oh boy, I could almost smell the Tennessee hills! Then it happened. One of those pop-up summertime thundershowers. It was quick and it was thorough. In a matter of minutes I was soaked to the bone. Do you know how little ole rain-drops sting at 70 mph? I slowed down immediately when I felt the old GoldWing slip a couple of times on the wet pavement. I gently eased off at the first exit, got on the RV shed the wet clothes for dry ones. The rain moved on and so did we. By now it’s beginning to get dark. Oh, did I mention I had never ridden at night? Oh well…another Life Lesson 101 coming up.
By now, if you could take all the tired I had ever been and rolled it up in one big ball, it wouldn’t be half as big as the tired that was riding on my back. I was weary, miserable and by this time mostly incoherent as Bowling Green, KY whizzed past. Hallelujah, that meant only about 30 more miles to go.
My beautiful GoldWing was performing flawlessly, but by now I was sincerely wishing I had noticed one important item that was missing in those gorgeous pictures on eBay. It was a windshield. No windshield meant I was catching the full force of the 50 to 70 mph wind blast continually. To make matters even worse, my cool chrome helmet had no face shield, so the wind was filling up the helmet like a parachute. After eight hours it felt like my neck was stretched about fourteen inches and my head was somewhere back behind the rear fender.
The “Welcome to Tennessee” sign was never more beautiful than when it whizzed by that night. Shortly, I exited off I-65 for the final ten miles to the house. By this time I was riding totally by instinct. My mind had disengaged. It was like everything was distorted and surreal. As I finally approached “home sweet home, sweet home”, I remember thinking,” How am I going to get off this machine?” I’m too tired, not to mention too stiff to lift my leg over it. I’m too tired to make it to the house, even if I manage to get off. The thought actually occurred to me to just ride into the yard and let this thing fall over and hope I’d have the strength left to crawl out from under it.
Finally, I turned into the driveway and into the yard. When I shut the GoldWing down, even in my demented state I remember thinking, “What a ride!” The bike performed as great as she looked. The rider, well he didn’t do so good. He was pretty bedraggled and felt a lot worse than he looked. It took two or three tries to get my leg over the seat. Then when I’d finally gotten off I had to just stand there and hang on to the handlebars till I limbered up enough to take the dozen or so steps to the porch.
Yep, let me say it again, “What a ride”. A definite once-in-a-lifetime, never to be forgotten event! I only hope if I ever start to do something that stupid again, Laura or God one will step in and stop me!
But you know what…next morning before breakfast I pounced back on my beautiful maroon and chrome GoldWing, ratcheted down my cool chrome helmet on my sun-burnt head and blazed down our little country road at a blistering 35 to 40 mph. Now this is living! I’ve discovered, you’re only as old as you feel…..and I’m a kid again!
By Laura Lewis
Ray and I love the job that God gave us to do. Period. We criss-cross the whole country sharing songs He's inspired us to write through the years. Wherever we sing, you can count on one thing for sure; two of us are gonna have a great time in the Lord!
We laugh a whole lot together while we're traveling, because...there's usually a whole lot to laugh about!
Let me walk down Memory Lane and see if I can find anything funny - or unusual - that has happened to us during the past while. Let's see...tripping on the edge of the stage at a new church was not funny, but you would've thought it was the way everyone was laughing, so I thought I'd better laugh, too. Somehow (I think that's my Guardian Angel's name) I landed on both feet, still standing! Come to think of it, that little feat might be termed "unusual" as well as funny.
At another church - just ten minutes before service started - the power went off, and back on again three times in a row in about ten seconds. Wow! No time to do anything except look at the sound system in horror. We thought something had overloaded the electrical circuits in the church itself, but later learned that it had occurred in the whole community. Sure enough, our mini-disc player was "fried". Not to worry, we carry a spare. Hooked it up and then discovered we only had ONE speaker working! By this time, the minute hand is straight up and down, time to start the service and you know "the show must go on." So, we walked onstage and during the first song we "fixed and mixed." During the second song, I got a brilliant idea and motioned to Ray while we were both singing. Fortunately, he understood, and the audience was laughing with us as Ray walked to the one speaker that was working, and moved it over to the center of the altar, still singing. By the time that song ended, we had equal sound throughout the sanctuary, although it looked real funny because our speaker stands are about seven feet high, and the speakers are about the size of a shoebox, and there it stood - right in front of us. All's well that ends well, and if God be for you, who can be against you! Love that scripture, don't you?
I guess most every artist has done this at least once...I'm talking about the time I was getting ready for the first service of a small tour and realized I didn't bring my heels. Oh dear, can't wear these jogging shoes with my suit. Thank goodness the pastor had his wits about him, and it only took him making one phone call for someone to bring a pair of shoes my size to wear. Take it from me...singing in someone else's shoes can change your tune!
Oh yes, Ray left his dress shoes, too, just this past New Year's Eve, but he just stood bravely in his suit and brogans thinking no one would notice...but they did. So we laughed and joked about it on stage all night long, and not only did someone bring their camera to the stage and get a close-up of him, when we all went to eat during intermission, folks had to come around to our table and get a closer view of the famous brogans. They thought he looked so "Nashville." Funny.
And I could never forget the Sunday morning when we were singing just a hundred miles away from home, and we left bright and eeaarrllllly that morning, in sort of a hurry. I started to get ready for the service and there was my gorgeous blazer and top, but where was my skirt, I asked myself."At home", my brain screamed. So, I sang that morning in my parachute pants. Fortunately the pastor understood. That afternoon we passed a Wal-Mart on the way to the PM service, and thank goodness they had a black skirt that was okay to wear, because the church we were singing at that night wouldn't have grinned on me singing in slacks. Close call!
But can you believe that Ray actually left his precious guitar behind in a church? Surely did. "A few good men" were helping him load, and they were bringing the sound system, etc. out of the church, and somehow the guitar was left. Ray had to travel around 400 miles round trip the next week to go back and get it! Ray has left so many guitar stands all across the nation that - now when he goes to the music store to buy a new one, I ask him, "What church did you buy that stand for"? He's left more than one pair of shoes in a church. He's left his clothes. I've left mine, too. We even left our cell phone in a foyer once. Churches are constantly mailing/UPS-ing something to us.
As well as the guitar, clothes and shoes, we've left cords, microphones, cases of cassettes and CD's through the years, and in the past Ray has been known to say, "I've left everything but my wife." Guess what. He can't even say THAT anymore. He left me, too! Yes, he certainly did do just that. If you haven't read the story, just scroll back up this page and read "HOW ON EARTH COULD THAT HAPPEN" for yourself.
In going down Memory Lane for the funny or unusual, I guess the most outstanding of anything was when I went into the Ladies room in a great-big church -after the service was over and everyone was gone - to get into my traveling clothes and shoes. As I opened the door to the corner stall where I'd left them, my gaze was drawn to the commode...where my shoes laid...side by side... in the water. In the old days, if folks didn't like someone's singing, they'd throw rotten eggs or tomatoes at them. I guess we can see how far things have progressed now. I'm just glad there was an indoor bathroom instead of an outdoor one. The good thing about this story was that - I got a new pair of shoes out of this deal.
Well, the Blog is clogging now, so I think I'll leave this until more wonderful things happen. What's that? Did I hear someone say they'd like to travel with us sometime? Mercy sakes, come on, there's always something interesting happening!
After Lewis & Lewis have been to your church/event, when you walk in the door for the next service, check under the front pews and on the stage, in the foyer and in the restrooms. You're likely to find part of us still there.
Don't worry, we'll call you in a few days to see if you found it.
Our final words today: Are you growing in the Word?
SHIPS PASSING IN THE NIGHT...
By Laura Lewis
We were about to pull out into the street from a fast-food place when a pick-up came up the street and put his blinker on – to turn into the fast-food place, too.
Although it was his right to go ahead and turn in before we pulled out, he nodded to us to go ahead and pull out, he’d wait.
What a pleasant surprise. What a joy to know there are still good, considerate people out there. We’d never know who he was, and he didn’t know us, we’d never meet each other, but a definite connection/acknowledgement of decent humanity had been made.
Ships passing in the night…
Then there was the time I was hurrying down the sidewalk to get from one specialty store to the other; a lady hurrying towards me smiled. It was a “Hello-I’m-acknowledging-you-hope-you-have-a-great-day” smile. I had no idea who she was and she certainly didn’t know me. But when she made that connection acknowledging me, the incident became…an event.
Ships passing in the night.
Something to remember. A smile that I wish I’D given first – but one that I would now pass on to another ship.
In a state far from home waiting in line to check out of you-know-where (Wal Mart), the lady behind me said, “I like your shoes.” I replied, “Thanks, I got them at Zappos.com.” “Where?” She says, and I explained. Then it was my turn to check out. When I finish I turned to her and said, “Have a great day.” Who knows who she was. We’d certainly never meet again, but we were, yes…Ships passing in the night.
Another evening…walking out of Wal Mart pushing a heavy shopping cart…a car was coming as we neared the edge of the sidewalk. We were going to wait for him to pass; he was still at least thirty feet away from us. Yet he signaled us with a respecting smile and a wave to go ahead across the way to our parking spot.
Definitely a Ship passing us in the night.
Some folks are ready to run you down; not so much in a hurry as not being considerate of their fellow man nor allowing others human dignity.
Your day is made brighter because of Ships passing yours as you make your way through the day/week/month/year/Life.
Speaking of time, this year has been a full one for Lewis & Lewis. You remember that old Country song called “I’ve been everywhere, man, I’ve been everywhere?” Well, we feel like we’ve been everywhere! We did a fifty-one service, eight week tour into the Southwest during March and April, and the remainder of the year has been one short tour after another, which we love doing!
We made a lot of connections passing Ships in the night.
This year (2009) has brought a lot of ups (seen old friends, made new lasting friendships, shared a lot of encouraging songs with folks, seen some beautiful country from sea to shining sea), and it has brought a lot of downs (Ray had surgery in February and couldn’t lift for six weeks, and since he’s so macho, he had a hard time watching me lift things he knew were too heavy/We’ve had some heavy RV expenditures with more coming/Had a laptop problem, thank goodness it was under warranty).
In the summer we couldn’t wait for the winter so we could cool off, and now that the cold air has hit, well, you know the story. Speaking of weather, while we were in the Southwest, we went through a real dust-hurricane! It was scary for a little while. We also spent time in Corpus Christi in March with very hot weather, and a week later we had three days of snow in New Mexico. What a change.
A funny incident in New Mexico…We were singing to the Indians and they had a pretty church, but their heater was hanging down from the ceiling. The day they had it installed, there were only two guys there, and they couldn’t lift it too high. So, it was hanging pretty low, blowing wonderful heat on the congregation. However, when I finished singing and walked off the stage, I had my head down not looking and I walked right into the heater and clunk! Right on the head! I was dazed for a few seconds and I looked into the audience and they were all holding their breath to see whether or not I was going to fall to the floor. I took a breath, grinned at everybody and wobbled to the front bench and sat down. I wasn’t hurt, so we all had a laugh about that.
We finally bought a GPS! We named “her” Gussie. Gussie gave us explicit directions from Texas, on to Arizona. But when we started back east into New Mexico to find a particular church where we’d be singing, Gussie sent us ‘waaaaaaaaay out into the desert where there was nothing and nobody. It would’ve been funny if we hadn’t been in a hurry. Another time in New Mexico around midnight we were trying to find another church. Gussie sent us to a dump. Truly. So, finally Ray said, “I’m going to go back to the old way of finding a church.” He promptly pulled into a convenient store. When he came back to the RV, he said, “It’s just a block away.” So much for Gussie. She behaved when we exited New Mexico, though.
We’ve paid different prices for gas on our tours this year. We’ve been treated to all kinds of food. A church member in Oklahoma gave Ray an awesome replica of an "old-timey" car. It’s so neat and Ray is so proud of it. Ladies different places gave me a fragrance set, tiny boxes of ceramic shoes, and the list goes on and on. Folks are so good to us everywhere we go.
Ray and I have both drawn closer to God this year. He’s such a wonderful God! I tell Him all the time how awesome He is – just in case He forgets...
At the end of the service where I hit my head on the heater, the pastor was praying the benediction…I slipped to the back to the product table. Before the prayer was over, a very old little Indian lady on the bench next to the back eased out of the pew and came to me. She didn’t say anything. She just took a very beautiful onyx-with-pearl ring off her finger and gave it to me. I was so overwhelmed at her gift. By her action I knew it was all she had to give, but she was proud to give it. With tears in my eyes I slipped the ring on my finger, hugged her neck and whispered in her ear, “I’ll wear this!” She went back to her seat, the prayer ended, and I never saw her again.
Ships passing in the night. Connecting. Feeling that tiny moment of humanity. Sharing from the heart.
As you pass other Ships in the Night, if you’ll take the time to connect, you’ll be smiling as you sail across your Sea of Life…Are you one of the Ships we’ve passed?
HOW MANY HATS ARE YOU WEARING?
By Laura Lewis
Hey there! Run to the mirror! What kind of hat are you wearing? Even though some people might not think of it like that, most are wearing a hat a lot of the time. They have different labels on the front of them, too.
Ray and I have a whole office just filled with hats! We have to keep them where we can just grab one and put it on real fast, since we’re the only two in our "group", and we're full-time in the music ministry.
What? You don’t know what full-time means?
Wow, you’ve come to the right place at the right time to learn all about that!
First of all, let me tell you that right now I’m wearing my “Webmaster” hat, writing new blog. I can’t do everything there is to do on our website, but one of the few things I can do here is put new blog up.
In a music ministry there are soloists, duets, trios, quartets, family groups with lots of members, choirs, etc…you get the picture. And when you’re full time, there’s a hundred or so jobs to do that keep the artist/s on the road, etc., trust me! God placed the calling on our lives to be full-time several years ago, and we cherish our job for Him.
Let’s picture a group consisting of three or more people singing together…In most cases those three are going to have a spouse. So, instead of having three or more bodies/minds to help with the heavy load that takes 75% of your time when not on the road, you’ll have six to help do everything. Just think, groups that have four or more people involved may have as many as eight folks sharing the load, or even more if they have a live band.
Obviously there’s just Ray and me with Lewis & Lewis. That’s it. Two. And because of all the work involved, we’re wearing different hats at any given time. Sometimes we even wear more than one hat at a time! Imagine that if you will! (Smile) We can look funny, even to each other-LOL!
Take me for instance…
One Friday night we sang in Arkansas, Saturday night we sang in Oklahoma, Sunday morning we sang in Texas, and by Sunday evening we were in Louisiana. We were wearing our Singer hats, and after each service, we change from our stage clothes into our “roadie” clothes (and hats that say "Roadie"!) to load up the sound system. By Sunday night after the service we were cruising along towards Nashville, singing, “Homeward Bound”. Ray was wearing his Driver’s hat, and I was wearing my Bookkeeper hat, catching up on bookwork for that ten-day tour. I knew if I didn’t do it then, it would be hard to find time for it after we got home, because that’s when the work really starts!
On Monday’s we are usually on “Gospel Standard Time” (wake up when you can finally manage to-LOL). But as soon as your feet hit the floor, you’re up and running from then until midnight! We both have our “special” time with the Lord. I have a corner that I fixed especially for that. My cozy rocker is there with a lamp beside it, and my Bible on the little table. My reading glasses are laying there right there where I need them to be. Ray usually just reads sitting at his desk. There’s nothing, you know, like starting the day off right with the Word and prayer to cover the day.
Then it’s go, go, go. Check the mail, answer email, and that takes a while. I wear my Secretary hat for that, then grab my Shipping Clerk hat when I start filling orders. Ray runs most of the business errands, so when he runs to the post office, the cleaners, the bank, to get the oil changed in the RV, Office Depot for more office supplies as well as a hundred other stops, guess what hat he wears…Errand Boy hat! (Smile) I’m a “homebody”, so I’d rather stay here and keep everything going in the office and home.
There’s usually not time for a “normal” breakfast, so I make a drink in the blender that carries me until lunch. Lunch is usually a sandwich eaten while manning the computer, printing out stuff that has to be filed, etc. If there’s not time enough for a bacon-sausage-egg-toast breakfast, then Ray just has coffee until lunch. He makes a “Dagwood” sandwich to take with him while he’s out running errands because he’ll be gone a while. No time to just sit still and eat. That’s a pleasure only found on tour. (Smile)
My breakfast drink? Takes only 3 minutes to make it. Fresh strawberries or blueberries or peaches put into a blender. Then I dump some wheat germ in, a dash of flaxseed, a handful of walnuts or pecans, 2 or 3 heaping tablespoons of plain yogurt, 2 little packets of Splenda, then I pour 2% milk over all of that, just as much as I want to drink. Blend it all for about 45 seconds, and voila! A delicious, healthy drink! It usually makes around a quart for me-LOL, but I need it to carry me through!
Just before I start work, I bring three 16 fl. oz. bottles of water up with me and drink it throughout the day. I know that’s not 64 oz like we’re all supposed to drink, but at least it’s 48 fl. oz. of it. We try to keep healthy snacks around the office, too…little grape tomatoes, pecans, walnuts or almonds along with a few semi-sweet chocolate pieces.
We catch up on all our messages that we haven’t had time to return the call while on tour. We spend MUCH time online printing out directions to churches, finding churches to call along the routes we’ll be taking in the future months.
After a tour, even if just for a week end, we have to clean and vacuum the RV. Clothes for laundry, paraphernalia folks have given us to bring in, clothes to swap for something else for the next tour, shoes, etc. Count the CD’s and DVD’s to see how many we need to bring back out from the office. Unload the refrigerator. Usually if a church has a dinner after a service, they always send us home with part of it, and it’s always delicious when you get it home.
Our office is upstairs, and during the day many times Ray and I pass each other on the stairs. We say to each other, “What hat are you wearing right now?” And we laugh. Life is fun, and great. What could be better and have more joy than serving the Lord and working for Him! God is so good!
While the printer is going, etc., I take that opportunity to do some exercises. Later in the day I run down to my front bedroom, (which isn’t a bedroom anymore, by the way – it’s now my sewing area, my exercise room, holds an extra filing cabinet, all of the record albums that Ray collects, our tee-shirt press, and several shelves full of CD’s and DVD’s) and jump on the treadmill and walk a few minutes. Then I jump on the bike and get my heart pumping some more. (Smile) While I’m doing this, I'm wearing my "Athletic" hat, but because I'm running back and forth to the kitchen to see about the supper I have going in the kitchen, I change back and forth from that hat to my "Housekeeper" hat.
Sure would like to go out to the front porch and just sit and wave at the folks that pass by, but there’s not much time for what we call “normal” living. Now and then Ray and I just have to take the time, though, to just sit out there for ten minutes. He’ll take his guitar and play it while we sit and rock. Then we run back inside and “go” again. A million things yet to be done…
We’re in the middle of doing a new project, so until that’s completed, we take a day or so each week to run to the studio and put down some more vocals on a song or two. Recording hat. (With headphones-LOL). Sing some, listen a lot. Mix, re-sing, re-mix. Before you know it, hours and hours have passed. You haven’t had a thing to eat! Starving! As soon as you leave, you head somewhere to eat, and you are not, trust me, thinking healthy! You are just hungry for whatever you come to first, and you’re not worrying about wearing a hat of any kind! (Smile)
If it’s Tuesday, you rush home and start making calls to churches across the country (Booking Agency hat). God said, “Go”, and you have to find the places to go, just like all artists that are “out there” working for the Kingdom. If it’s Wednesday, you go to church that night. Church hat.
What do we do to relax? We read. Ray and I both have a stack of books on our respective side of the bed, and we read ourselves to sleep. We have different Christian books, and we both like westerns. I like spy books, and since Ray was a photographer for years, he still catches up on stuff like that.
Wow, I just looked at the time, and it’s almost midnight already. Time to hang up all the hats and rest. Rejuvenate our minds, bodies and wits for the next day.
Do you have an idea of what “full-time” means now? There is no 9 to 5. It’s about a 24/7. (Smile)
‘Night, all. See you tomorrow. “Ain’t God good” is one of my last thoughts. Oops, something fell…Oh, it’s nothing. Just one of the hats fell to the floor. Too many stacked on top of each other. Have to get a bigger hatrack, I guess. (Smile)
The Story Behind The YouTube video
"Down To The Farm"
By Ray & Laura Lewis
Good Morning, Good Afternoon, or Good Evening to everyone, depending on what part of the world you’re in! Right now we have visitors on our website from many different countries because of the video we have on YouTube.com called “Down To The Farm.”
We’ve had the pleasure of “meeting” scores of folks who have taken the time to email us. Most are supportive, but some are very insulting and condescending. The gutter language seems to go along with those latter attitudes, too. That’s okay, God gave us nerves of steel to go along with this job.
Let me explain…
Lewis & Lewis sing wherever God opens the door. Although singing in churches is our main job for the Lord, we do reunions, rodeos, pig roasts, picnics, etc. A few years ago we prayed together, “Lord, we want to reach the sinners, and sinners don’t go to church much anymore like they used to. What can we do?”
A couple of months rolled by and we were singing in Hiawassee, GA at Hiawassee Cowboy Church, which is geared towards the tourists that go there. The pastor, who is a great friend of ours, sang “Down To The Farm” for us before church began. Ray really liked it and asked for a copy.
It laid around the office for a couple of months while we were touring here and there, sortof forgotten about. One day Ray picked it up again and listened to it and said, “I’m going to put this on our project.” (We were almost finished with “Pure Lewis & Lewis.”) He then began singing it across the country, and even when we’d run into a friend we hadn’t seen in a while, we’d let them hear this song. Everyone just loved it!
About this same time, Ray had begun to feel like he needed to share another particular song which he had written several years ago, but since it was not a song that everyone would embrace because it talks about what The Church-as-a-whole has not done, instead of putting it on the Pure Lewis & Lewis project, he thought he’d just put it on our website with his latest Rant. (It’s on the RAY'S RANTINGS page called, "Where's The Church."
During the first few months of ‘08, a songwriting friend of Ray’s began to email links to us from something relatively new called YouTube.com where you could watch your favorite groups on video, as well as artists you’d never seen before. After looking at those for a while Ray said, “You know what, I think I’ll see about doing a video of "Where's The Church" and put it on YouTube.” So, off he went to visit his friend, Dale Duhl, who has a video/ad business, and of course he took a copy of “Down To The Farm” with him.
Dale listened to "Where's The Church," and before they could start talking about how to make the video, Ray let him listen to “Down To The Farm”. Dale said, “Man, THIS is the song you need to have on YouTube right now!” Not only did Ray agree, something in him stirred and a peace settled in his soul. He knew that he knew that he knew - God had answered the prayer we’d prayed together about reaching the lost/unbelievers.
And you know what else? This video was put up on May 13th, exactly two days before the decision was made in California to overrule the people’s vote concerning same-sex marriage. God’s timing, for sure. Exactly 4 weeks and one day later, it reached one million hits, and by the time three months had passed, our "Down To The Farm" video had over three million hits, and it was the most watched video on YouTube! If you go to YouTube, type in "Down To The Farm" by Lewis & Lewis, you won't see that many hits today, though, because at one point, we decided to take it off and replace a particular picture, so we "lost" the total count of hits (visitors) up to that time. However, it started over, and even as this is being written, it has thousands and thousands of visitors! So, it’s as if God is using this song to give the gays and unbelievers this special chance to choose Jesus instead of their unscriptural, unnatural lifestyle.
This is why and how “Down To The Farm” was put on YouTube and GodTube. It was NOT because we hate anyone…we never have and never will. We love them all, but not what they do.
So many emails have come in - and the negative ones all basically say the same thing - “Animals do, too, choose same sex!!!” Now how intellectual/smart is it to compare yourself to an animal! In the first book of the Bible, God gave man dominion OVER animals, and gave man intelligence to make choices that He didn’t give animals!
Thanks to all of you who have commented on this song, or emailed us, and we hope you'll pass it on.
God help us all to do more and better tomorrow than we did today. If you need us, don’t hesitate to contact us. Right now, we’re going Down To The Farm-LOL.