Shall We Chat…

Blogging was almost a spur of the moment decision on my part. I had been to a writers’ conference and discovered that I need a broad audience in order to publish a book, and I do want to publish.
Jami Amerine, a sweet new friend, volunteered to help me, so I said, “Why not? I can do it, than anyone else can. So, at the age of eighty, I discovered that I adore blogging. Book or no book, I must admit that I am hooked. This is most surprising to me, for I sort of disdained those who sit at the computer all day wasting time on Facebook and twitter and chat rooms. I surely had more important things to do.

shall we chat (2)However, the truth is, I love, love, love sharing with you. But, I want to do more than just run off at the mouth. I want what I say to be worth the time you invest in reading. I want what I write to somehow contribute or make a difference in your life.
I’m trying to understand why I enjoy this so much. I am compelled to laugh at myself, because I don’t really like talking on the phone. Perhaps that’s because, I’m often required to listen more than talk, and I must admit that I am a better talker.
Sometimes ideas are illusive, and I think, “One day I’ll surely run out.” Amazingly, ideas—entertaining, heart expanding, worthwhile ideas—pop up, in the middle of the night, during the Pastor’s sermon on Sunday morning, or from a joke in Reader’s Digest.

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For the most part, subjects come from my history with friends and family and the brief time I had with sweet Cecil. What a pleasure it is to delve into the past and retrieve a golden nugget that is both entertaining and instructive.
Blogging blesses me. I have been aware for awhile that, considering everything, I have had an incredible life. Digging into the past has brought a heightened appreciation of all that I have enjoyed and all I have endured, both the good and the bad. It’s all part of God’s design making me who I am today.
I will tell you boldly that God plays the major role in every blog. Sometimes I sit down to work with only a vague idea, like a tight little bud, in mind. As I struggle, the idea begins to blossom unfurling like a flower. Then, as the Spirit of God speaks into my heart, the application reveals itself filling the whole narrative with a sweet fragrance.
When I finish each blog, I read it again and again, changing something here, something there, making sure punctuation and spelling is accurate, until I am completely in love with and proud of what I have written.
I must admit that it is not always perfect when it appears on your screen. I don’t know what happens, but sometimes punctuation and even parts of sentences go missing.
In my very first blog manuscript, I used the word lodestar. I looked it up to make sure it was correct. To my chagrin, when it was posted, “lodestar” magically appeared as load star. A long time, extremely intelligent, friend, e-mailed me with his detailed correction. I appreciated his help, but I was embarrassed and still feel the sting of that error.

shall we chatSince I am determined that what I share with you is quality, I have decided, from now on, to post only once a week, on Wednesday. Some of you have already figured that out. As a matter of fact, I do have other responsibilities. I am preparing to teach the Book of Daniel on Sunday mornings starting in September. Considering my lack of knowledge in this area of study, my preparation will be long and hard. And besides, I am going to be a complete arthritic cripple, if I sit in front of this computer every day. My recumbent bike has been neglected far too long.
I Corinthians 10:31 says, “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
The desire of my heart is to bless you and glorify God in everything I do, that includes blogging.
With David, I pray, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14.
BLESS YOU!
Oh, by the way, I have lost five (5) pounds – a pound or so each week. You don’t think that’s much? Believe me, it’s much!
Again, if you enjoy my blog, spread the word around. I need to enlarge my audience.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!!!

Practice Makes Perfect

 

My mother was extremely resourceful.  Though we were poor, there was always good plain food on the table, and because of Mama’s skill and dexterous fingers, we were adequately clothed.  We never lacked for the essentials and once in a while, there was even something special.

At some point, my mother decided she wanted her two little girls to learn to play the piano.  We had no piano, and until that moment, we had no thought of playing the piano we did not have.  However, one day a piano appeared.  There it was, a great, clunky, upright piano, setting against the living room wall.  I don’t know where it came from, and I certainly don’t know how Mama paid for it.

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Now that we had a piano, my clever mother had to find a teacher, and she did.  She found Mrs. Simpson, who lived across town on Sirrine Street.  There was no money for lessons, so mama made a deal with Mrs. Simpson.  You should have known my Mama.  She knew how to make a deal.

If Mrs. Simpson would produce two piano virtuosos, Mama would clean, iron, or sew for her in return.  The deal was struck!

On Saturday morning, June and I walked across town, where Mrs. Simpson waited with her piano.   I liked her.  I liked her pretty little house, and I even liked the lessons, but I liked her treats the most.  After every lesson, Mrs. Simpson made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  She put them under the broiler until the bread was brown and toasty and the filling was bubbly.   When you bit into this delectable treat, the bread was crunchy and the peanut butter and jelly were hot and ooey gooey.  Heaven on earth!

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Then came Monday!  Time to practice!  Tuesday – time to practice.  You get the idea.  This was something I had not considered, but my Mother insisted on it. I discovered two things from that experience.  Practicing is not nearly as satisfying as gooey treats, and you never learn to play the piano without practice.

“So,” you ask, “Do you play the piano?”

No, not really, I can read the music and plunk away at the keys, but in my heart, I know that does not come anywhere near what my Mother bargained for.”  In truth, she longed for it more than I.

An often heard phrase, “Practice makes perfect,” is used to convey the idea that regular exercise of an activity or skill is a way to become more proficient in it.

Remember learning to tie your shoes?  You tried time after time until you proudly succeeded.

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Imagine a kindergarten child with a fat pencil clutched in his tiny hand, his tongue clamped between his teeth painstakingly tracing the letters of the alphabet trying to make each one perfect.

Every habit we have established in our life was learned the same way.  Most of us never reach real perfection in anything, but practice keeps moving us toward proficiency.

IT’S ALL ABOUT PRACTICE!

This is true in the spiritual realm as well as the natural.

When we come to Christ in faith confessing Him as Savior, He breathes into us His own righteousness, His own goodness.  Matthew 6:33 tells us that we, in turn, have a responsibility to seek after Him and His righteousness.  Again, Matthew 5:6 says, we are to “…hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

“Righteousness” is not a mysterious something.  It simply means to do what is morally right according to God’s law.  Quit sinning and do right!

We are to turn from the old way of living and embrace God’s way.

Good News!  Jesus didn’t just tell us what to do and then leave us to our own devices.  No!  2 Peter 2:21 says, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.”

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This is where practice becomes important.  To “follow in His steps,” means that we trace His life living as He lived, doing as He did.

            1 John 3:7 says, “He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.

We have a choice, and it is not always easy.  Sometimes we try and fail, but the more we practice doing what is right, the easier it becomes.  This must be a constant choice, a perpetual, daily decision.  Remember, the one with whom we walk empowers us daily to live out His righteousness.

Some time ago, the slogan “WWJD – What Would Jesus Do?” became very popular.  You could wear those initials around your neck, in your ears, or on your wrist.

For many, it was a mere fad, but for those of us who love and follow Jesus, that question ought to be the deciding factor in every situation.  WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

 

 

 

 

The End of the Row

My Father was a part-time farmer and a part-time preacher.  In 1938, during the Dust Bowl days, and in the midst of depression, he left the farm and moved his family to Arizona.  Conditions made the situation untenable.  Land, that had once been prosperous, could no longer yield a crop.  In Arizona, daddy became a day laborer in the citrus groves working hard to provide for his family, but he never refused an opportunity to preach when invited.

One of the things I remember and most appreciate about My Dad was his will to work.  He grew up on a dry land farm in Tennessee.  He was a real hillbilly.  The only way to keep body and soul together was to work, without shirking, from daylight ‘til dark.  Will Clark learned that work ethic early, and he passed it on to his children, even his girls.

When I was ten or twelve years old, daddy started taking me and my little sister to the cotton field on Saturdays.  We were awakened and routed out of bed before sunup.  We weren’t going along for the ride.  Mama made cotton sacks for each of us, and daddy expected us to use them.

There were plenty of reasons why we might not like such a chore.  It was Saturday – time to play.  It was hard, hot, heavy work.  By the time cotton is ready to be picked, the boll holding the cotton is dry and sharp and hurtful to tender little fingers.

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However, I don’t remember any temper tantrums at the thought of picking cotton.  We just went along.  Daddy picked two rows with me on one side and June on the other.  We picked off his rows, and he did try to make it fun.  Often he would pick a big double handful of cotton and put it in June’s sack or mine.

By the middle of the morning, the sun was scorching hot.  My little sister would sometimes sit down on the end of her cotton sack and say, “It’s hot!  I’m hot!  I wish the wind would blow.”

I can still hear my father’s voice as he said, “Look, honey, look right up there.  There’s the end of the row.  When we get to the end of the row, we are going to get a cold sodi (soda) pop, emphasizing the word cold.

In that instant hope was born.  This hot, uncomfortable morning was not going to endure forever.  There was something better to look forward to.  At the end of the row we would not only be recompensed for our hard labor, but we were promised a refreshing.  You can’t imagine the gladness that promise brought to two little girls who seldom had an extra nickel for a strawberry sodi pop – mm.

We tackled the cotton with renewed vigor and great anticipation making short work of the rest of the row.

The summer before my freshman year in high school, I picked my last boll of cotton.

“I’d rather starve to death,” I said, but sixty-five years later I am very far from having starved.

Did I like to pick cotton?  NO!  I did it because it pleased my father.  Though I was not aware of it, he was teaching me a lesson that has served me a lifetime.

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Don’t quit because it’s hard.  Don’t give up just because you can.

I am not a politician nor am I a philosopher.  I don’t know how to be politically correct nor do I want to be.  I do want to be Biblically correct.

I have seen and read more news in the last year than in all my life combined.  I don’t like what I see.  Our world and our beloved America are in a mess.  Life has become, difficult, uncertain, sordid, and dangerous.

A sense of helplessness hangs in the air.

I pray.  I vote.  Can I do anything else?  Oh, Yes!

In I Corinthians 15:58, the Apostle Paul says, “…my dear, dear friends, stand your ground.  And don’t hold back.  Throw yourselves into the work of the Master…nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.”

In Revelation 22:12, Jesus says, “I’m on my way!  I’ll be there soon!  I’m bringing my payroll with me.  I’ll pay all people in full for their work…”  In verse 17, He invites us saying, “Is anyone thirsty?  Come!  All, who will, come and drink.  Drink freely of the water of life!”

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From seventy years past, I hear my father’s voice.  “Look, there’s the end of the row.  Don’t quit now.  There’s reward at the end of the row.  There’s cold sodi pop.”

Thank God for hope!  This life is a vapor that vanishes.  Eternity is forever.  Don’t quit now!

I wonder!  Will there be any strawberry soda pop in heaven?

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things Thought Impossible

I was born with the wanderlust. I inherited it from my father. He never saw much of this world, but when he became restless, we just moved across town. In fact, we lived in seven different rentals, in the same small town, between my second birthday and kindergarten.

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We always paid the rent, so we weren’t running from the landlord. I have seen a lot of the world and yet, at the age of eighty, I still long to fly away to some distant land to see new faces and experience new places.

 

 

When I was four-years-old, my father decided to move the family to Colorado. Someone told me it snows there, and Colorado was colored pink on the map, so I put it all together and decided that the Colorado Mountains were covered with pink snow. I was excited.

The day came when the seven of us, mama, daddy and five kids, piled into our 1934 Buick and started across the Arizona desert towing a large four-wheeled trailer filled with our early poverty belongings. For some inexplicable reason, my father chose the month of August for this family adventure. In 1939, there was no such thing as air conditioning in an automobile, but not a one of us died from heat exhaustion.

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Zipping along through the burning desert, at 40 miles per hour, we made good time until we turned north toward the mountains. Yarnell Hill was our first challenge. To my father’s dismay, the Buick balked unable to pull the weight and make the uphill grade. Again and again, he tried to no avail.

Finally, daddy decided that he would off-load part of the weight, take the rest to the summit and come back for another load. Part of what he off- loaded was My Mother, my sisters, and me. The boys would be his helpers. We have a picture of my twelve-year-old sister standing in the skinny shade of a saguaro cactus.

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My Dad has been gone for many years, but I can still feel his frustration, disappointment and sense of failure as he tried time and again to find a way to get his family to Colorado. At the end of the day, hot, tired, dirty and disheartened, we turned around and headed back to Wickenburg.

 

There we found a place to camp for the night. Daddy went to a nearby grocery store coming back with supper – bread, bologna and a big bucket of ice water. Setting the icy water down by the car running board, where I rested my four-year-old self, my father turned to other chores, and I lifted my poor tired, dirty, disappointed little toes and plunged them into that deliciously frigid bucket. To this day, I cannot remember the consequences of my precipitous action, but there had to be some compensation for the loss of pink snow, right?

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The next morning our tired and wiser family headed back to the valley where my parents were at home for more than fifty years. The mountains defeated us. Had we conquered the first rise, which was not much of a mountain at all, I wonder what we would have done when we reached the Rockies.

Years ago we sang a little chorus:

“Got any rivers you think are uncrossable.

Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through.

God specializes in things thought impossible.

And He can do what no other power can do.”

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Mountains often defeat us. Too frequently we are faced with insurmountable problems to which there is no discernible solution. Like my father, we exhaust ourselves trying to get over, around or through the problem. 2500 years ago, a man named Zerubbabel faced just such a mountain.

After seventy years in captivity, he led 50,000 Israelites back to Jerusalem, where they anticipated rebuilding the temple and their treasured city. He was no doubt discouraged when he saw the extent of the work, his feeble resources, and the formidable opposition. This was a mountain he could not cross.

In Zechariah 4:6 – 7 we read: “…This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Who are you, O, great mountain? Before Zerubbabel, you shall become a plain!” I like the way the Message says it. “So, big mountain, who do you think you are? Next to Zerubbabel you are nothing but a molehill.” You may be facing an unscalable mountain today. Remember, it is not by your efforts, but by the power of the Spirit of God. When you stand shoulder to shoulder with Him, that mountain is nothing but a molehill. He can do what no other power can do.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW