REMEMBERING MY FATHER

REMEMBERING MY FATHER

My Dad, who was born in 1872, and died within three months of his ninetieth birthday, has been gone for fifty-seven years.  He was sixty-three years old when I was born.  

Don’t ask.  It is a long convoluted story.

Today’s culture seems to place little value on the role of fathers as evidenced everywhere from pop culture and media to government policy.  Yet my own experience and belief system tell me that fatherhood is important.

Billy Graham said, “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”

It has also been said that “Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad,” implying that “Father” must be more than a figurehead.  In order to live out his role effectively, there must be relationship, intimacy, and love.

The fact that my father was sixty-three when I was born in 1935, means that he was already an “old” man, which seemed to preclude the possibility that he would be the kind of father a small child needed.

It is true that My Daddy, that I can remember, did not play with me.  He did not teach me to ride a bike or push me in the swing, but he sat patiently, by the hour, while I played beautician.  He allowed me to dampen his hair and role it on tiny metal curlers that I filched from my Mom’s beauty supplies.  

I do not remember an overabundance of hugs and kisses, but I knew he loved me.

One of my most vivid memories of daddy was the day he returned from an extended trip.  I was about six years old.  Mama told me he was coming, so I was waiting.  When I saw him coming up the walk, I ran to the screen door, and there he was.

  Looking down through the screen at my little blond head, he said,

“Oh,” I needed to see you.”

I have never forgotten that moment.  “Oh, I needed to see you,” is, perhaps, the most important—the most memorable thing my daddy ever said to me.  Those six little words spoke volumes.  Daddy loved me.  He missed me.  I was important to him—and so much more. 

When I think of that moment, I still see the look in his eyes and feel the warmth of those words. 

Daddy brought me a present that day.  He brought me a little clear glass dog—not crystal—filled with tiny balls of multicolored candies.  I have cherished that little glass dog for more than seventy-seven years.  It couldn’t have cost more than fifteen cents, if that much, but it is worth a mint to me now.

There was never an abundance of money for an expensive gift, but my father gave me gifts far more precious than anything he could ever have bought.

He worked tirelessly, mostly as a day laborer on someone else’s farm. He provided a humble home, put food on the table and clothes on our backs, but he gave us so much more than those essentials.

He instilled in me a work ethic, which has served me well through the years.  He taught me to be honest and obedient.  He set a godly example for me taking me to church and teaching me to love God.  He did not leave this responsibility to someone else.

My Daddy was not young to be sure.  He grew up in an era when fathers were often severe and demanding, as was he, at times, but He was a good and faithful father.  I knew I was loved.  After fifty-seven years, I still miss him, but I have my little dog.

In Ephesians 6:4, (the Living Bible) the Apostle Paul gives this advice to fathers.  “And you father’s don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children making them angry and resentful.  Rather bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord himself approves, with suggestions and godly advice.” 

Likewise, the Apostle gives advice to the children.  Ephesians 6:1-2, “Children obey your parents; this is the right thing to do because God has placed them in authority over you.  Honor your father and mother…”

Honor and cherish your father!!!

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUR TOMORROW!

OLD FRIENDS

Last week, while preparing dinner, I reached into the cupboard and brought out a small pink and white casserole dish.  Suddenly I thought of Cary Smith, the woman who had given it to me fifty-nine years ago.  In 1960, I had just graduated from Arizona State University and signed a contract to teach school in Anaheim, California.

Except for college, I had never lived away from home.  Now I would be living on my own for the first time.  Knowing this, the ladies in my church showered me with linens, dishes, and other kitchen essentials.  I am amazed that I am still using some of those cherished things.

None of this is earth-shaking, to be sure.  However, on the following Sunday morning, as I was leaving the sanctuary, I heard someone call out to me.  Turning I saw a familiar face from the past.

“Are you Faye Clark, this woman asked?”

“Yes, I am Faye Clark Reese, I said.

“Well, I knew it had to be you,” she replied.  “I am Betty Smith.”

Of course, she was.  The girl I had not seen, nor been in touch with, for close to thirty-five years—the girl with whom I had grown up—my casserole lady’s daughter. 

As we embraced, the years just seemed to melt away, and we were teenagers again.  What a warm and sweet encounter! 

On the way home I began to think about Old Friends, and I remembered a song Bill and Gloria Gaither used to sing.  “Old friends…what a find, what a priceless treasure…like a rare piece of gold…we are all millionaires in old friends.”

Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain.  It’s not something you learn in school, but if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you haven’t really learned much of anything.  

All those years ago, as a stranger and a new teacher in Anaheim, I was very much alone.  I hated the thought of walking into church by myself on Sunday morning, so I was late because I drug my feet.  A tall blond in the choir noticed my grand entrance.  When the choir exited the platform, she came to sit by me.  After service, her mother, the pastor’s wife, invited me home for lunch.  I was thrilled and just lonely enough to accept. 

There was an immediate connection with that family, as though we had always known each other, and Ophelia, the tall blond, and I have been friends for fifty-nine years because she took time for a “lonely gal.” We seldom see each other, but when we do, the love, the warmth, and the memories are still there as though we were never separated.  Old friends!

Winnie the Pooh said, “If ever there is a tomorrow when we are not together…there is something you must always remember…even if we’re apart…I’ll always be with you.”  That I believe is the essence of friendship.

It takes a long time to cultivate that kind of friendship.  It takes wanting to.  It takes energy and caring about the other person.  Such a friendship requires giving not taking.  

“If you go looking for a friend,” Martin Luther King said, “You will find they are very scarce.  If you go to be a friend, you will find them everywhere.” 

To have a friend, you must first be a friend.

My best friend is my brother.  I have always loved him as one loves any family member.  I’ve admired and looked up to him, and as a child, I tried to follow him around, but that didn’t work.  He was six years older than I.  He has been my spiritual hero and example in ministry, and he is my friend.  That’s the best part.

When Paul’s wife and daughter died within a year of each other, my heart was wrung with sorrow for him.  The only thing I knew to do was just be there.  So I called frequently.  Now we talk across the miles several times a week.  We share our woes and our joys, funny stories and recipes.  I love the stories about his early years in ministry.  

The fact that he is my brother makes the friendship dearer. 

I always apologize when I call to whine about difficulties with our sister, but he says, “If you can do what you are doing, I can listen to your whining.” That’s one of the hallmarks of a true friend—someone who will listen.

Someone has said, “The best time to make friends is before you need them,” and you will make more friends by being interested in other people rather than trying to get other people interested in you.

Friends are indispensable.  We all need them, but I must remind you that as close as friends can be, there is one who has promised an even more intimate and closer relationship.

Solomon, speaking of God, in Proverbs 18:24, tells us, “…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” and—

Friends sometimes fail us, but Hebrews 13:5 assures us, “…He Himself has said. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.

“…WHAT A PRICELESS TREASURE!”

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!

IT HAPPENED OVERNIGHT

One day I was 34, then 63, then 75 still running around this world with little to slow me down giving almost no thought to the idea of growing older.

Truth is, the only thing I ever did to prepare for old age was to try to save a little money.  Yet I did not spend time worrying about where I would live, who would take care of me when I became infirm, or would I even have enough money?  If I thought of it at all, I just assumed that, when the time came, everything would fall into place.  That’s me—the Optimistic Octogenarian, or the unrealistic octogenarian.

Then my world sort of caved in.  My Cecil died, my sister fell apart, and I suffered a long continuing wrangle with the court, but the worst thing I did was to look in the mirror.  

I have always contended that age is just a number, and I didn’t mind that the number increased each year.  For, I insisted, “It’s what goes on in the mind and the heart that matters.”  That’s what determines whether or not one is old.  

I still believe that, but when you take a good long look in the mirror, and the gal, who was young and active yesterday, has been replaced by the image of an aging woman, it is impossible to deny the truth.

That aging face looked back at me, and I had to admit that the wrinkles are more pronounced, the step has slowed, the balance is not what it used to be, the joints are disintegrating, and I tire more easily these days.  

I swear to you—this all happened overnight!  I never saw it coming.

King Solomon, in Ecclesiastes, one of his poetic volumes, speaks about this aging process.  Of course, being a poet, he refers to teeth as “grinders,” eyes as “windows,” and arms as “keepers of the house.”  

Actually, in chapter 12, he is just saying, “Remember your Creator.  Enjoy life while you can before your arms grow weak, your eyes grow dim, your teeth fall out, and your legs no longer work.”

I find myself laughing as I read Solomon’s words.  I suppose it’s because I am beginning to see my own image in his description of this aging process.

Of course, this happens to everyone eventually.

We try to dress up “old age” to make it less formidable—to soften the blow.  We refer to seniors as Seasoned and Time Honored.  We talk about the autumn or winter or twilight of life, and we speak of them as being superannuated and venerable, but the best and the worst, I think, is the term “Golden Years.”  While these waning years may be golden for some, they are certainly far from golden for the majority.

My amazing brother, who will celebrate his 90th birthday in November, still cleans his own large house and takes care of his own large yard.  My brother who has been in ministry for seventy years, whom no one will believe is almost 90, has made a life-changing decision.  He has decided to sell his house and move to an apartment—not a retirement facility.  He is much too independent for that.  He’s buying all new furniture.  I guess that means he is not planning to check out any time soon.  I love that because I am planning to keep him around forever.

In explaining his decision, he said something very wise.  “I am doing this while I am still healthy—while I can still make all my own decisions.”

When I heard this, I thought of the Apostle Peter to whom Jesus said, in John 21:18—The Message, “When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old, you will have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you do not want to go.”  

This is the case for far too many seniors

I am convinced that the way we live our “Golden Years” depends totally upon our relationship with God and the attitude with which we face life.

Solomon says, in Ecclesiastes 12:1, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come…”

“Before the difficult days come.” That is the secret!  I know that I am writing to many younger people.  Solomon’s advice is, “Think about God when you are young.”  Make Him your life now.

When those senior years loom—when the difficult days come—no matter how difficult, God will be there for you.  He will walk with you through the hard times.  Actually, He will carry you.

Isaiah 46:3-4, The Message, “…I’ve been carrying you on my back from the day you were born, and I’ll keep on carrying you when you are old.  I’ll be there, bearing you when you are old and gray.  I’ve done it and will keep on doing it…” and that’s not all.

Psalm 92:12-14, “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree…they shall bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing…”

That’s what God wants for your life.

That’s the way I plan to live my “Golden Years.”

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

SPEAKING THE TRUTH

Now, I know that Easter is a month past, so I am back tracking.  However, since the truth of Easter is always relevant, I must tell you this little story.

Three little words made my day!

Though I am used to being alone, holidays are somehow a little difficult, and I find myself kind of wishing for someone.  The day before Easter I called a couple of people trying to find a lunch partner for that special day. No one was available, so I just determined to make the best of it.  

Leaving Easter services feeling blessed and grateful for God’s goodness, I decided to stop for lunch on the way home.  I felt a little conspicuous walking into that restaurant filled with happy, noisy families. However, I found a table in a quiet corner, and enjoyed my lunch as I reflected on the beauty of the day.

After making a quick stop at my house to pick up a chocolate bunny for my sister, I made a visit to the facility where she lives.

“Guess what!” I said, as I entered June’s room.  “We can have our own Easter service right here, right now.”

She made no objection, so I picked up her Bible, which she can no longer read, and turning to John, chapters 19 and 20, I read the story of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.  Then we sang two old Easter hymns. My sweet sister, who cannot finish a sentence, can still sing these beloved songs nailing every word and note.

We enjoyed the chocolate bunny and sang “In Your Easter Bonnet…,” then it was time for me to leave.  She always says, “Be careful out there. You know, you’re the only one I have.”

On the way home I stopped at Walmart to buy ink for my computer.  Standing in the checkout line behind a tall, curly haired young man, I noticed he held a large bottle of water and another bottle filled with murky, muddy looking liquid.

Turning to me he asked, “Could I get a second opinion?”

“About what,” I replied.

Showing me the murky, muddy liquid, he asked, “Is this printing black or green or grey?”

“It’s black,” I said.

“Are you sure?  You’re not color blind are you?”

“No, of course not,” I said with a laugh.  Then I added, “You must really be concerned about your health to drink that awful looking stuff.”

He made some comment about muscles, and finished checking out.  Then turning to me with a broad smile, he said, “HAPPY RESURRECTION SUNDAY!”

There in the middle of a noisy, mostly unaware mob, surrounded by Walmart’s Easter bunnies, marshmallow chickens and chocolate eggs, this sweet young man joyously and courageously declared the truth of Easter.

Those three little words, HAPPY RESURRECTION SUNDAY, made my day.  I left the market with this great effervescent bubble of joy bouncing around inside me.  There was no longer any vestige of the loneliness and self-pity that had threatened.

I love Easter and all its trappings including chocolate bunnies and colorful eggs, but I recognize that most of these things are manmade additions, some from pagan roots, to the precious truth of Easter.

Simply and truthfully stated, Easter celebrates Jesus Christ’s victory over death symbolizing the eternal life that is granted to all who believe in Him, and verifying all Jesus preached and taught during His three years of ministry.

Thank God for a dear young man, who, with three vital words, reminded me of all this on a warm Easter afternoon.

That experience set me to thinking about TRUTH, and I realized that, even those of us who know and believe the truth are often reluctant to declare it for fear of offending someone.

In Isaiah chapter 59, the prophet repents before God for the sins of Israel.  In verse 15 he says, “So truth fails.”

The Message says, “Honesty is nowhere to be found.” In other words, it is altogether gone.  It is missing.

Truth is the basis of our social fabric.  It is the foundation of all morality. All virtue is undermined when there is no longer any regard for the truth.

Sadly, I feel that our dearly beloved America has arrived at this point.  We have left truth behind on the doorstep. Today truth is whatever you want it to be, and nothing remains but wounds and bruises and putrid sores.

My heart says it is time to stand up for the truth.  It’s time to become vocal and conspicuous—to speak the truth loudly and clearly remembering always that the way we live must confirm our words.

Be cautioned.  Speaking the truth always carries a risk.  If you are a truth speaker, sooner or later you will wind up in the enemy’s crosshairs.  He hates the truth, the unimpeachable truth, which finds its foundation in the Word of God.

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

A TRIBUTE TO MY MOTHER

 

Mother’s, I believe are one of God’s most wonderful gifts to mankind.  In the beginning, according to the Bible, God put Adam to sleep and performed miracle surgery, when He formed a mother out of Adam’s rib.  The Bible says that Eve was the mother of all the living.

I thought about Eve.  Can you imagine her wonder, when first she held that tiny life in her arms and cradled him close?  What did she think when she looked into Cain’s tiny, red, wrinkled face and heard his indignant wails of protest?  Baby Cain was the first baby the world had ever seen, the first baby Eve had ever seen.  For Adam and Eve were created full grown.  They knew nothing of infancy or childhood.

How did Eve know what to with this minute being God had given into her care?  She had no Doctor Spock to depend upon, no pediatrician to call, or learned child psychologist, no Gerber’s, no canned formula, and horror of horrors, no Pampers.  She couldn’t even call Mama, for she had no Mama.  Yet, she knew how to take care of this child, for God had planted the knowing in the breast of this woman, the world’s first mother.

We could, all of us, call the names of other Biblical mothers or mothers well known down through the centuries, but finally, and always, we arrive at our own mother.

I’m thinking of my mother today.  I sometimes called her “Maggie Lou” just to tease her.  That was her name, but she hated it.  She often said she would rather be called “Doggie.”  When I felt especially tender toward her, I called her “Mommy Girl,” but when I was in trouble, I just called “Mama,” and she was there, because she recognized the need in my voice

Mama always seemed to know what I needed, and she did everything in her power to meet that need.

After two years in college working as much as possible, I had used up my meager savings.  That was in the days before government grants and loans, so there was no way I could return to school.  Mama had very little of this world’s goods, but she felt my disappointment.

One day less than a week before the opening of the new fall term, Mama disappeared for a few hours.  No one knew where she had gone, but when she returned, she put her arms around my neck, and looking at me through her tears, whispered, “Go pack your suitcases.  You’re going back to school.”

Mama had been to the bank.  She had no proper job description to put on a loan application.  The little money she had was earned by ironing, or sewing, or cleaning other people’s dirty houses.  She even chopped cotton.  She had no collateral to offer a bank, but on her good name alone, she had borrowed the few hundred dollars, that was obviously a few years ago, needed for my return to school.  Only God knows how difficult it was for her to repay that loan.  It is to her credit that my brother and I are both in ministry today.

Once during my years as a missionary in Europe, I was very ill and confined to bed.  One morning, as I lay there feeling discouraged, lonely, and alone, the phone rang, and across more than six thousand miles, I recognized my mother’s dear voice.  Ordinarily, during those years abroad, I did not tell my Mother when I was in need, for I didn’t want to worry her.  However, when I heard her voice that morning, I could not hold back the tears.

“Oh, Mama,” I cried.  “I am so sick.”

“I knew it,” she exclaimed.  “I knew there was something wrong.  That’s why I called.”  Mama always knew what I needed.  What healing came from her sweet words!

The day came when my Mama was old and frail and sick.  It was my turn to take care of her, but I never did it as well as she did.

Thirty Mother’s Days have come and gone since My Mother went home to be with the Lord.  This morning I picked up her picture, which sets on my dresser.

“Hi, Mommy Girl, I love you, and Mama, I’ll see you before long,” I said.

One of my greatest comforts is to know that Mama is in the presence of the Lord.  She is one of that great “Cloud of Witnesses,” who is watching my progress.  It gives me great joy to know that she approves of the way I am living and what I am doing.  She, too, awaits that glad reunion day.

Cherish your mother.  She’s one of a kind!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MAMA!

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

           

REMEMBERING THE FUTURE

REMEMBERING THE FUTURE

            Flipping through channels yesterday afternoon, I was stopped by these words, “The most painful state of being is remembering the future…”

            This morning, unable to forget that statement, I went on line to discover that those words were written by the Danish Philosopher and Theologian, Soren Kierkegaard, who lived and wrote in the 19th century.  His complete statement was, “The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you will never have.”  Kierkegaard is describing a feeling of somber nostalgia for unrealized possibilities, a sense of regret or grief for the future that will never be.

            In the last six years, I have spent a good amount of time doing just that.  Many of you will remember that, after waiting a lifetime, at the age of seventy-seven, I finally married for the first time.

I actually don’t remember thinking about what the future would be like with sweet Cecil.  If I had thought about it, I would have acknowledged that, at our age, we would never celebrate a twenty-fifth anniversary, but ten years together was not out of the question.

However, I was so taken up with the fairy tale aspect of the present, the excitement of preparing for a wedding, and the fact that a wonderful man loved me that I gave little thought to the future.

When I walked down the aisle toward my beaming bridegroom, on that chilly February afternoon, there was not a cloud in the sky.  The future could be nothing less than glorious.

After a storybook honeymoon, we came home to learn how to live with each other.  I had always lived alone, but Cecil was not hard to get used to.  We lay side by side late into the night making plans for the future.  We snuggled on the sofa, prayed together, and held hands.  Cecil mowed the lawn, and I did the laundry, and five months later, he was gone dying from an inoperable aortic aneurysm.

I was devastated.  The tears wouldn’t stop.  I stood before his portrait and howled like a banshee.  We had never spent a Christmas together, never celebrated my birthday, and we would never observe one wedding anniversary.  So many “Nevers!”  A funeral and a burial will be a big part of my memories.

The French have a term, “déjà vu” meaning the strange feeling that in some way you have already experienced what is happening for the first time.  I don’t know if it fits here, but I have imagined the joy of Christmas with Cecil sitting by the tree opening gifts, enjoying the turkey and the pecan pie.  In thought, I have vicariously experienced river cruises we planned, and the missions work on our agenda.  I am remembering first time experiences that have never happened and never will happen.

When I open the drapes each morning, I am face to face with his smiling photo.  I can greet him now without tears, but I am always wondering where he is.  I admit that I do scold him once in awhile, when I must deal with mechanics, when a light bulb needs changing, when I don’t want to go alone.  Last year was a difficult, painful time for me.  I could imagine Cecil’s tenderness as he cared for me.  I was mad at him!  Why wasn’t he there?

“Where are you, when I need you, Cecil?

I can almost see his broad grin as he runs to help.

Cecil still fills much of my thoughts.  The knowledge that our future has been lost is ever present.  In a sense, I will never stop suffering the loss.  I still want to know the “what ifs,” the parts that cannot be answered.  I still want to know what my future life would look like, but—

One cannot grieve forever.  Life goes on.  Being a child of God and knowing Christ as I do, I know He has a plan for my life, and even at the age of eighty-three, there is still a purpose for my remaining years.  I will not spend my time crying “If only,” and longing for something that cannot be.

The sweet singer of Israel says, in Psalm 147:3, “He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.”

Again, in Psalm 30:5, David tells us, “…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

That’s my story.  My Father has healed my broken heart and bandaged the hurts.  Night is passed and morning has dawned.  That supernatural joy that only God can give, the joy I thought was lost has returned, and there is a song in my heart.

Just a note:  God’s healing is complete, but grieving is a process.  It was close to two years before I was sort of my old self again able to return to the main stream, able to resume my responsibilities.  Though I will always love Cecil and think of him, I want you to know I have not been crying for six years.  God’s healing really is wondrous!

 

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!

 

BEWARE THE FINE PRINT

 

My sister would never take medication until she read the fine print on the packaging.  Then she wouldn’t take it at all.  By law, pharmaceutical firms are required to list every possible side effect whether or not it has ever been suffered.  Last, on many of these lists of side effects, is the word “death.”

June was always sure she would be the one who would fall victim to these unusual exceptions.  Hence, no medication, even if it would save her life.

I took her to the dentist a few days ago.  While filling out her “new patient” files, I read through a long list of illnesses which might or might not trouble her.  I was supposed to check off the ones that applied to June.  I had to laugh, when I realized that she was not troubled by any of these frightening maladies.  There were no checkmarks.  Me?  I would have had to check off at least six items.  It seems that reading the fine print has served my sister well.

Reading the fine print is indispensible in our times, for institutions and businesses are forever seeking ways to protect themselves from their own tricky practices.

I recently, after less than a week, returned a piece of equipment, for which I had paid cash.  The equipment had never been used and still sported its original tags.  I was told that I must forfeit 25 % of the purchase price.  When I objected, the salesman pulled out the paper work showing me the fine print.  Suffice it to say, “He had not directed my attention to that clause, when I made the purchase.”

A few years back, I went to the local Honda dealer ready to buy a new car. Actually, I am leery of car salesmen, but I knew exactly what I wanted, and I went armed with needed information.  Sitting down with the salesman, I told him what I wanted, and then I said, “Give me the bottom line.  I want to know exactly what I will pay.  I don’t want any surprises later.”

Then we went to look at cars, and I found the perfect one.  Returning to the sales room, we sat again at the desk, and the salesman added up the cost.  Taking the original amount he had quoted me, he began to add this and that and the other. “No, No, No!” I said, “I asked you for the bottom line.” “Yes, but then there is this and there is that, and…” he replied.

“Please give me my keys,” I demanded.

“But why,” he asked.

“Because I going home.  I don’t deal with dishonest people,” and I turned and left.

The next morning I received a call from the manager of the Honda Dealership.  He wanted to apologize hoping he could still sell me a car, but I was finished with them.

It is only smart to be cautious these days for we can no longer accept a man’s handshake as insurance against fraud.  Businesses have found a way to circumvent the courts and ban people from joining together in class action law suits by adding to the “fine print” a clause that says, “They may elect to resolve claims by INDIVIDUAL arbitration,” and that clause is always and only in the “fine print.”

The upshot is that it is nearly impossible for an individual to take on a multi-billion dollar corporation.  There is no way to win.

Now-a-days, it is difficult to apply for a credit card, use a cell phone, get cable or internet service, or shop on line without agreeing to private arbitration.  The same applies to getting a job, renting a car or placing a relative in a nursing home.

I must admit that my problems in this area have been minimal.  However many people have suffered big losses, but what are we to do?  We can continue to do business, (as we must) ignore the possibilities, and believe that everything will be all right, and for the most part, I guess, it will be.  Yet, I hate feeling that I must always be on guard lest I be cheated, so I am learning to “READ THE FINE PRINT!!!”

Companies have essentially made it impossible for an individual to challenge them.  Business has a good chance of ignoring the legal system all together and doing as it pleases without dire consequences.

It is disappointing, frustrating and hurtful to acknowledge that there are so many untrustworthy people and agencies in our society today.

Thank God!  There is still one in whom we can trust, for there is no “fine print” in God’s word.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths.”

In Proverbs 30:5, we are told, “Every word of God is pure…”

Again, John 17:17 tells us, “…Your Word is truth.”

Matthew 24:35 declares, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My (God’s) words will by no means pass away.”

“TRUST IN THE LORD, AND DON’T DISPAIR…,” and READ THE FINE PRINT!

 

Remember the sun will come out tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT FRIDAY?

WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT FRIDAY?

As a public school teacher more than fifty years ago, I still remember the clang of the dismissal bell on Friday afternoon, and the sense of relief that washed over me, as the last little hiney wiggled out the door.  Sitting at my desk I savored that brief moment, when those stress fighting endorphins were released flowing to the very tips of my toes relaxing every fiber of my being.

Actually, I enjoyed teaching, and I loved my little urchins, and at the same time, I was ecstatic that I wouldn’t be required to look into their shining faces again for another sixty hours or so.

TGIF!  Thank Goodness it’s Friday, or Thank God it’s Friday!

This well known, well used phrase is said to date back to 1941, at Ohio State University, where a group of undergraduates formed a booster club and named it “Thank God it’s Friday.” Doesn’t that sound just like a bunch of college kids?

While the phrase TGIF can trace its origin to the heartland of America, there are slight narrations or other equivalents used by peoples around the world.   No matter how it is said, each expression serves to celebrate the end of the work week or school week anticipating a week-end of fun and relaxation–no school, no work, more sleep, and family time.

My favorite time is Saturday afternoon—an afternoon, when there is absolutely nothing required of me.  I don’t have to get dressed.  I don’t have to put on makeup.  I can sleep, read, eat, watch T.V. or do nothing.

Sadly, those afternoons are very scarce—almost none existent.  It is my understanding that, for many if not most people, weekends are every bit as stressful as any other day.  All responsibilities that cannot be discharged Monday through Friday must be squeezed into the weekend, and we return to work on Monday more tired than when we left.

Truth is, stress has become one of the main ingredients of life, and there seems no way to avoid it.  Medications, psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists really have no lasting effect.

So!  What is so good about Friday?

Friggatriskaidekaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13th.  Some say this day has been associated with misfortune since the 13 hundreds.  Seems the fear is very real affecting millions of people, and it is estimated that businesses, especially airlines, suffer from severe loss on Friday the 13th.

For the fearful there is no escape, for all years will have at least one Friday the 13th, but cheer up, there will never be more than three in one calendar year.  Friday, September 13, 2019 is the next.  Mark it on your calendar.

Others believe the myth has a Biblical origin, citing the fact that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, and there were thirteen guests at the Last Supper the night before the crucifixion.

However, I must tell you that, rather than being the source of fear, Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, on the third day, was and is the only source of hope and redemption for mankind.

Let me tell you the story.  It is found in the Gospel of John, chapters 18 and 19.  Read it for yourself.  After Jesus had prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane following the last meal with His disciples, like a criminal, He was arrested.  Early on Friday morning He stood before Caiaphas, the High Priest.  Then He was taken to Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judaea.  Upon the insistence of the Jews and their leaders, Pilate finally released Jesus to them to be crucified.  He was beaten, and a crown of thorns jammed upon His head.  Robed in purple bearing His own cross, He was led to Calvary, where He was crucified between two thieves.

Jesus’ death was the sure fire, fool proof, unassailable, guaranteed, fail-safe, never-failing antidote for this world’s wickedness, hurt, sadness, failure, and, YES, the stress that results from the mess we have made.

On that Friday morning, when Jesus committed Himself to this horrendous death on the cross, when He said, “It is finished,” and bowed His head and died, the Spiritual Endorphins, His own precious blood, flowed from Calvary providing forgiveness, peace, rest, hope and healing for the weary soul—Redemption for all mankind.

Jesus’ last words, “It is finished,” were words signifying that God’s work was complete.  This sinless man had been obedient to the Father’s plan sacrificing His very life.  Nothing else need be done.  He did it all for you.  He did it all for me.  The only piece left in this puzzle is our acceptance of the sacrifice He made.

So, what’s so good about Friday?

This Friday in particular points forward to new life beginning on resurrection morning, when Jesus arose from the grave.  That’s what’s so good about Friday!

Matthew 28: 5-6.  “But the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here; for He is risen, as He said.  Come see the place, where the Lord lay.’”

The old song says:

“He lives.  He lives. Christ Jesus lives today.

He walks with me and talks with me

Along life’s narrow way.

He lives.  He lives salvation to impart.

You ask me how I know He lives.

He lives within my heart.”

 

BLESSED GOOD FRIDAY and GLORIOUS EASTER to YOU!

 

 

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APRIL FOOLS’ DAY

Little is known about the origin of this April tradition, but the predominant theory dates from about 1582, the year France adopted the Gregorian calendar, which switched the beginning of the year from what’s now the end of March to the first of January.  Some folks, out of ignorance or stubbornness or both, continued to ring in the New Year on April 1.   They were made the target of jokes and pranks on account of their foolishness.  Hence, they were April Fools.

The custom of setting aside a day for the playing of harmless pranks upon one’s neighbors has historically been relatively common around the world.  It’s supposed to be fun, but I wonder.

As well as people playing pranks on one another on April Fools’ Day, elaborate practical jokes have appeared on radio and TV stations, and in newspapers, and have been performed by large corporations.  In one famous prank, The BBC broadcast a film in their current affairs series claiming to show Swiss farmers picking freshly grown spaghetti, in what they called “The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest.”

The BBC was overwhelmed with requests to purchase a spaghetti plant forcing them to admit the film was a hoax.

In 1938, on Halloween Eve, “War of the Worlds,” a science fiction novel by H.G. Wells, was dramatized on a CBS radio program.  At the beginning, it was announced that the program was an adaptation of this novel.  However, it caused panic for those listeners, who tuned in late, not knowing the Martian invasion was fictional.

This panic was bolstered by fictitious news bulletins, which periodically interrupted the broadcast.  “Odd explosions observed on Mars, A strange cylindrical object falling from the sky, Martians using heat rays, War machines spouting poisonous gas.”

The program has become famous for supposedly tricking some listeners into believing that a Martian invasion was actually taking place.  Only at the thirty-minute break in the show, did people realize it was only a drama.

Widespread outrage was expressed in the media.  It was described as deceptive leading to an outcry against the broadcasters.

There are mixed opinions concerning April Fools’ Day.  Some say it is good for one’s health encouraging fun and laughter, thereby relieving strain and stress.  Others label it as being creepy and manipulative, rude and a little nasty and deceitful

Even as a fun-loving child I must admit that I don’t remember April Fools’ Day ever playing any kind of role in my life.  In a way, I was a sensitive, self-conscious child, who would not have taken kindly to pranks aimed at me, and as an adult, I will own that I still have difficulty with being the brunt of a joke.  The joke is on me, however, for this of course, makes me a prime target.

If our jokes and pranks, and hoaxes could be confined to innocent fun, all would be well, but in today’s world, hoaxes have become very serious, and hurtful.  One of the most recent examples being the fiasco in Chicago, where hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent, and hundreds of hours of law enforcement energy wasted.  You can’t laugh that one off.  You can’t slap someone on the back and shout, “April Fools!” Although, I’m imagining that the perpetrator is doing that very thing.

Our media is no longer reporting the news. It seems, at times, that they are making it up,  based on hearsay and innuendo.  Mr. Trump calls it “Fake News.” You can think what you will of him, but the press does not have the right to invent or even slant the news in one direction or another.  Talk about a hoax!

I am disturbed and confused at the climate in our country today, and I am not talking about “Global Warming.”  We have become hateful, critical, and abusive toward each other.  There was a time when we at least honored the office of our Congressmen, our President, or Supreme Court Justice.  No more!  Everyone is fair game.

Our beloved America is on a slippery slope headed downhill at breakneck speed.  We are no longer admired by the world. We are no longer held in high esteem.  We are no longer in love with ourselves.  I certainly can’t love the things that are going on today.  We can say, “I love America!”  But, we, you and I, are America.  The things we do and say—that is America.  So where does that leave us?

Remember the attack on our country on September 1, 2001?  Our Congress stood on the steps of the Capitol building singing “God Bless America.”   It was a heart bursting sight.  They were united for a brief time, but then it was back to business as usual.

In I Timothy 2:1-2, God says to us, “Here are my directions:  Pray much for others; plead for God’s mercy upon them; give thanks for all He is going to do for them.  Pray in this way for KINGS AND ALL OTHERS IN AUTHORITY over us, or are in places of high responsibility, (Presidents, congressmen, justices…) so that we can live in peace and quietness spending our time in Godly living…” LB

This is the solution to our dilemma!  This is God’s direction to us.  Pray for your family, your neighbors and our leaders, especially those whom you do not like.   PRAY!

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

CHASING RAINBOWS

 

            Petey was my sister’s little Apricot Poodle.  He had more personality than a dozen other dogs combined.  He was like a naughty two-year-old.  Petey stole everything that wasn’t nailed down.  I’m convinced he watched with eagle eye, and when someone laid down the remote, or a pair of eyeglasses or a writing pen, in a flash, this adorable puppy snatched it and furrowed under the table to gnaw it to shreds.  It was a game with Petey, and my sister fell for it every time.  She jumped up and yelled and chased him.  “Give it back!  Put it down, Petey!”   He loved it!

Every time the door was left ajar, he was out and down the street running lickety-split with his long apricot ears flapping in the breeze.  Terrified that he would be hit by a car my sister always chased after him yelling, “Petey stop!  Petey come home!”  Sometimes I chased with her.  Even the neighbors got into the act enticing him with a slice of bologna or some other delicacy.  Finally, June gave up.  Turning around, she started back to the house announcing, “I’m going home now,” and, without further coaxing Petey turned around and padded after her glad to come in out of the heat.

Chasing a dog in the 118 degrees August heat wasn’t fun, but thinking about that experience, I realized that we spend most of our lives chasing after one thing or another.

When we were kids, we chased after the ball, the dog and each other.  As teens, the girls chased the boys and the boys chased the girls.  Then life became serious, the future loomed, and we began to pursue more important things—the ingredients of a “good” life—the things that would make us happy.

According to the Dalai Lama, our sole purpose in life is to pursue, chase after, happiness.  Many people have bought into this believing that possessions, position, and prestige are the secrets to that longed-for happiness.  All their lives, they chase the dream convinced that if they can just earn a little more money, enlarge the business, acquire a snazzier automobile, live in a better neighborhood, and run with the beautiful crowd, life will be perfect.  Only to discover that happiness is fleeting, and the nose must be kept to the grindstone in order to sustain that lifestyle.

            “I’M ALWAYS CHASING RAINBOWS” was a popular vaudeville song first produced back in the early nineteen hundreds, but recorded by many artists through the years.  To me, the lyrics portray disappointment, defeat and unrealized dreams.

“I’m always chasing rainbows watching clouds drifting by.

My schemes are just like all my dreams ending in the sky.

Some fellows look and find the sunshine.

I always look and find the rain.

Some fellows make a winning sometimes.

I never even make a gain…”

What a sad, sad song!  A rainbow is a meteorological phenomenon.  It is an optical effect produced by sunlight and water droplets.  Yes, God gave us the rainbow as the sign of His promise to never again destroy the earth by flood, but the rainbow, though beautiful, is not something that can be physically approached, nor can it be leaned on or trusted in.  It is not a thing of substance, and it disappears almost as quickly as it appears.   Chasing rainbows is pointless.  My apologies to Irish Leprechauns.

I am sure the writer of these lyrics had in mind something more than an actual rainbow.  I believe he was thinking of those things for which we work so hard hoping that, miraculously, they will produce the life we long for—that magically our dreams will come true.

Contentment is an ingredient in short supply in today’s world, because whatever it is, IT’S NEVER ENOUGH!  We strive so hard to get ahead, to acquire more stuff, to “keep up with the Joneses,” to make a better life that we leave ourselves no time to enjoy the simple pleasures.  Don’t you just wish sometimes that you could forget about what your friends have and what your neighbors are doing?

Our hearts and minds are so fixated on the present, on stockpiling the “good” things that we have little thought for the future—for eternity.

Matthew 6:19-20 (The Message) counsels us to “…stockpile treasures in heaven…” because those earthly treasures, on which we set such store, are in danger of being “…eaten by moths and corroded by rust or –worse!—stolen by burglars.”

Matthew is telling us that those things we chase so aggressively are just as unsubstantial, just as fragile, just as fleeting as the rainbow.

There is only one true source of the peace and happiness we so long for, and that is God Himself.

In Psalm 63:1, David cries, “O God, You are my God; early will I seek you; my soul thirsts for you…”

Again in Hebrews 11:6 “…He(God) is a rewarder of those who diligently seek (who chase after) Him.”

CHASE AFTER GOD.  HE IS THE ONLY SOURCE OF REAL HAPPINESS!

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!