For behold, the winter is past: the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on earth, the time of singing has come and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom, they give forth fragrance. ………………………….. Song of Solomon: 2:11-13

The writer of the Song of Solomon makes reference to the transformation that occurs between winter and spring. I would take the passage a step forward and use the symbolism to apply to life in general. There is a transformation that has to occur as we merge from those circumstances that I refer to as the ‘Winter of Life’. As I see it:……”While in the ‘Winter of Life’ I discovered deep inside of me there was a summer”. Whether we speak from a literal transformation of ‘Winter to Spring’, the impact and behavior is the same.

The cold, gray of winter is behind and replaced by blue skies, warm days, bouquets of flowers, yards sprouting life, and trees clothed in green filled with the colors of singing birds.’ Let’s all look at Spring as new life. A new start and renewed optimism.

lf I knew the world would end tomorrow I would still plant my apple tree’

Let’s bloom where we are planted! cheers………………………………………Gary


Gary Coker

I sat at the kitchen table aware something was happening to my body. June, my wife, became equally aware that something out of the ordinary was happening. My speech had become disjointed and I was unable to talk coherently about the events surrounding me. June immediately noticed something was not right and got me in the car and rushed me to the hospital emergency room whereupon the attending ER physician noticed indications of a stroke and immediately began to administer a “clot-busting” medication, intravenously, designed to dissolve blood clots.

With a great deal of urgency, a decision was made to take me immediately to Nashville and the NeuroCare Unit of Tri-Star Centennial Medical Center. The two hour trip by ambulance was surrounded by flashing lights and sirens as we made our way to the hospital’s emergency room. The room was filled with neurosurgeons and nurses as the team of physicians planned their strategies to address the medical emergency. in the corner of this room, filled with some of the most respected physicians imaginable stood a small girl with her back against the wall. “Mr. Gary, you are going to be okay….”I heard her whisper. I very distinctly remembered tears beginning to flow from my eyes.

In retrospect, I ask myself, “who was this young girl with the ‘olive’ skin tone and the peasant-like appearance. The overwhelming mystery was the fact she addressed me by my middle name ‘Gary’. My first name is Dan, and all the attending staff, as well as all medical records record me as ‘Dan’.

After days of intensive medical treatment, I have been diagnosed as having survived multiple strokes originating in the brain. Upon my dismissal, I asked the staff to locate Naia and let me meet her. Small of stature with a very meek appearance, Naia worked as part of the housekeeping staff. When I asked how she knew my name was ‘Gary’, her only response was, “I just knew”. Her closing comment was “Mr. Gary, I have been praying for you”.

There are moments in all of our lives when something happens to open our eyes or deepen our normal sense of perception, that, if we allow them, they will change our lives forever. Sometimes momentary experiences will carry us for years, if not for the rest of our lives. The Incarnate Lord is present in this world and wants us to meet with Him. The Christ is not in books or history. He is the living Lord, and we will meet Him on our travels often in the most unexpected of disguises.


Reflections……………………………………………………Behavior Management

                                                                                      Gary Coker

It was a cool Friday night in this rural Georgia town, and the local high school basketball team was playing their cross-county rival in a hotly contested game.  The first game between these rivals had been won by a single point by the rival team.  The game was being played before a sold-out crowd, everyone breathing and screaming and pushing the hometown “redskins.” With 1:25 left in the fourth quarter and the score tied I committed my fifth foul and had to leave the game. My opponent made both foul shots.

Over twenty fouls are committed in an average high school basketball game.  Fouls that break the rules of the game are called ‘personal’ fouls.  Each player is awarded five personal fouls.  Once in a while, referees deem a foul sufficiently violent or dangerous to be called ‘flagrant’. 

Once a personal foul is called, the referee points at the player committing the foul calling out his number.  The player acknowledges the foul by holding his hand up.  The referee looks at the scorer’s table and gives the player’s number.  The announcer announces the player and the foul. The opposition team gets a free foul shot.   Five fouls disqualify the player from any further play in that game.

Once in a while, referees deem a foul sufficiently violent or dangerous to be called ‘flagrant’.  A flagrant foul receives a severe reprimand from the referee with the opposing team getting two foul shots and possession of the ball. A second flagrant foul disqualifies the player from any further play.

This process is a classic example of behavior management.  The player, child or person, receives immediate feedback as to the ‘foul’ with a clear identification of what the foul involved. A warning is given that future fouls will result in some form of discipline or eventual removal from the game, i.e., time out, loss of privileges, etc.  Level two, a flagrant foul, is very serious in nature and usually involves breaking rules that have been predetermined as ‘not acceptable”. Fouls, i.e., behavior, in this area receive an immediate reprimand with clear understanding the behavior is unacceptable by removing the person (child) from the immediate activity.  As with the basketball player who understands what constitutes a foul, the child or adult has been made aware of the behavior and consequences in advance through the normal instructional process associated with the game or in life.

The game referenced in the opening paragraph was lost by a close margin of two points.   The following day, Saturday, I left my job at the local grocery store, Fred Hale’s, and walked across the street to the local drug store where I was greeted by Kent Studdard. “Hey, Coker, how about a cherry coke….my treat”.  After getting the coke and having a good discussion with Kent, I sat at a small table at the front of the drug store where Roy Malcom, Mayor and Pharmacist, came and sat with me and offered  words of encouragement .

We lost the basketball game but won in the game of life.