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May 22, 2014

MAY: Counting by twos

— My father loved to play games. His favorite was cribbage, an English board game that involves playing and grouping cards in combinations to gain points to move around the board.

Cribbage holds a special place among Americans from World War II, serving as an official pastime for the troops.

Even to this day, the wardroom of the oldest submarine in the fleet carries the personal cribbage board of Rear Admiral Richard Hetherington O’Kane, a Medal of Honor legend who participated in more successful attacks on Japanese shipping than any other fighting submarine during the war. Upon decommissioning, the cribbage board is ordered to be transferred to the next oldest boat. Dad had a beautifully carved cribbage board from his time served on the Japanese front.

As a preschooler, I learned to count playing cribbage with my father. Two cards that added up to 15 earned two points. A pair of cards of the same number earned two points. Three cards of the same rank contain three different pairs and score a total of six points.

We aren’t counting 50 cards but 50 days following the time of Easter and Passover. The purpose of our counting is to be sure that we notice the important things along the way.

The first two weeks we looked at important people, those who influence us and those who walk alongside us. Last week we looked at the road that we travel. For those keeping track, this is day 29 of our counting.

As we count the next seven days, let’s take our cue from the cribbage board and count our pairs. Remember the ancient Chinese proverb: Good things come in pairs. Think specifically about three pairs worth counting.

Blessings. The old hymn urged us to “count our blessings, name them one by one.” Look for your blessings in pairs. Think of two things to be thankful for in your family members.

Point out two things that have happened each day that have been good. Look for two ways that your friends add to the joy of life.

Goals. Zig Ziglar said, “You need a plan to build a house. To build a life, it is even more important to have a plan or goal.”

For the coming seven days, set two goals that you can actually accomplish that will move your life in the right direction. It may be something you have been putting off for years. It might be mending a fence or two that have been broken. Remember the only person you can change is yourself.

Rest. Studies are very pointed: If people set aside one day a week to rest, the body performs better the other six days. But in order to really set apart a day of rest this week, you are going to have to follow the two traditions involved in keeping the Sabbath. In Judaism it is called “guard and remember.”

The phrase comes from the instructions about the Sabbath in the two times the Commandments are recorded in the Bible. “Guard the Sabbath day to sanctify it” (Deuteronomy 5:12) and “Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it” (Exodus 20:8). In order for you to have a day of rest this week, you are going to have to guard it — block it on your calendar, fight for its observance and work hard to keep things from crowding into the day.

Once the day is guarded, set aside time to remember it. Pause to reflect upon the goodness and blessings in your life. See the value in your friends, your family and your purpose. Look beyond the structure and the routine. Expand your vision to the mountains, the ocean and the stars. Take note of the things you count on.

And if you are honest in your counting, you might just find yourself alongside former atheists C. S. Lewis, Anne Rice, Lee Strobel, Alexander Solzhenitsyn and a host of others, bowing your pair of knees before your Creator.

— Tom May is the Minister of Discipleship at Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville. He is an adjunct instructor in the Communications Department at Indiana University Southeast. Reach him at

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