I CAN’T DO THAT!

My friend and I arrived home from vacation on a sweet June afternoon.  I walked through the house opening shutters—surveying my worldly domain.  Opening the patio door blinds I was welcomed by a committee of one.  A snake slithered across the concrete, his head lifted high, his beady black eyes peering through the glass.  He was casing the joint, and I was beside myself.  I have never been on friendly terms with snakes.  I avoid them at the zoo.  I even refuse to look at a picture.  When my Cecil was ill, we watched a lot of Animal Planet.  Invariably, there were slithering, slimy snakes and various other reptiles.  I consider myself to have been very brave, though I watched most of it with my eyes closed.  However, I didn’t feel brave that June afternoon.

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I raced to the phone and dialed 911.  “What is your emergency,” asked the voice on the other end of the line.“There’s a snake looking in my house,” I cried.

“There’s a snake looking in my house,” I cried.

“That’s not an emergency, “she replied.

“It may not be an emergency for you,” I said disparately, “but it is for me and I don’t know what to do.”

I had no confidence in my ability to take care of the matter.

Laughing, she gave me the number of the local Serpentarium.   I didn’t know that such a thing existed, and I’m still not sure.  I can’t find it in my dictionary.

A few moments later, I opened the door to a grinning young man.  “Did you order apples,” he asked, and then, “where is the snake?”

“He’s in the back,” I said.  “I’m sure he’s a rattler.

I opened the patio door just a sliver, so this snake handler could squeeze through.  The snake was no longer on the porch, but in a matter of minutes, the man was back with the creature scrunched up, clutched in his hand.  I hesitantly let him walk through my living room and out the front door.  I’m sure he laughed all the way back to that weird place.

Sunday morning, my pastor preached about Moses and his unwillingness to answer God’s call to deliver Israel.  He had all kinds of reasons why he couldn’t do it.

“I’m no one,” he said.

“I don’t know what to do—I don’t know what to say.”

“No one will listen to me”

“Send someone else,” he cried.

Moses had a shepherd’s staff in his hand.  When he threw it down at God’s command, the staff became a snake, and Moses ran from it.

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God said, “Don’t run from it. Pick it up by its tail.”

Moses picked up the snake and it became a staff again.  Hats off to Moses!  I don’t think I could have done it.

Hats off to Moses!  I don’t think I could have done it.

In Exodus 3:12 and 18, God said to Moses, “I will certainly be with you…Then they will heed (listen to) your voice.”

The God of the universe—the God who is the creator of all things—the God who has all power—the God who existed before time, promised Moses that he certainly, no doubt about it, would be with him.

Most of us are tempted to run from the difficult things—from the hard assignments.  When, as a single young woman, God began to speak to me about becoming involved in full-time ministry, I balked.  I had always wanted to be in ministry, but I imagined that I would marry a preacher, iron his shirts, sing occasionally, and shake hands.  However, that was not God’s plan.

“I CAN’T DO IT,” I declared.

Oh, I was smart enough, well educated, even talented, but there were two big obstacles.

First of all, I was overweight—obese is a better term.  I was always well groomed and well dressed, but I was self-conscious and insecure.  People wouldn’t accept me.  I was sure of it.

“I CAN’T DO IT, LORD!”

Then there was the problem of being alone.  I didn’t want to be a single woman preacher.  People didn’t like women preachers.  I didn’t like women preachers.  I had seen and heard a few.  To me, they seemed too aggressive and unattractive.

If I wanted anything in life, I wanted everyone to like me—love me.  I didn’t want to be weird.

Ministry, in the 60’s, was an uphill climb for women, particularly single women, but in the confines of my stubborn, frightened little heart, God whispered, “I will certainly be with you.  I will enable you, and people will accept you.”

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No words can explain the joy I have had in almost fifty years of ministry.  A gentleman, whom I have not seen or heard from in several years, called yesterday just to remind me that I was instrumental in his salvation—a wonderful encouragement on a difficult day.

God’s great promise to us is found in Isaiah 41:10.  “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, yes I will help you.  I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

DON’T RUN FROM THE SNAKE.  PICK IT UP BY THE TAIL AND SEE WHAT GOD WILL DO.

 THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

 

God Can Do…

Dear Reader,

A friend of mine used to say, “Sometimes we turn square corners,” simply meaning that we have no idea what lies around that corner.  Life is like that.  In spite of carefully made plans, we do not know what tomorrow will bring.

For a year or more I have been dealing with a family need that seems to have no good solution.  I have prayed, wept, mourned, and sought advice, but so far—.  Today I thought the situation would finally be settled only to learn that it has been further complicated.

I told myself to put this problem aside for a
while, because I must write my blog.  Inspiration failed me, so I looked back at some of my past writing, and Eureka!  I found it.  I found my encouragement for this sad day.  Months ago, I wrote, “THINGS THOUGHT IMPOSSIBLE.”  The message:  “God can do what no other power can do.”  I believed it when I wrote it, and I believe it now.  So I am recycling this blog, because there is someone out there who needs it just as I do.


 

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

A JOURNEY BACK IN TIME

My big brother, well, you can’t really call him my “big brother,” because I’m bigger than he is.  Nevertheless, my older brother came from Fort Worth to spend Christmas with me.  Having lost both his wife and oldest daughter in the last eighteen months he needed a change.

Paul and I are good together.  He’s quiet and I never shut-up.  We both like to cook, and being retired ministers, we always have something to talk about.  We spent a lot of time just reminiscing—comparing notes and sharing sweet, good, meaningful times from the past.

We spent hours driving through Mesa, where we were both raised.  Paul was constantly looking for landmarks—something familiar.

“It’s not fair.  It’s just not fair,” he grumbled, as we drove up and down and back and forth.

“What’s not fair?” I asked.

“They changed everything,” he complained.  “Nothing is as it should be.”

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I couldn’t help laughing.  “Do you realize it has been nearly seventy years since you lived here?” I asked.

We looked for the big pink hotel that used to be on the corner of Center and Main Street, for Paul L. Sales, and Valley National Bank, and our High School—all of them gone.

However, my brother did find some landmarks.  He knew where all the irrigation canals were.  When he found them, he figured out where everything else ought to be.

“May’s Store was just on the other side of this canal,” he declared. “They sold fruit and nuts and dates, and June was born about a mile west of that canal, and I used to walk home down this canal bank.”

He also found the great Bottle tree on Brown Road, where we lived when I was three.  The house is not there, but the irrigation ditch still runs by the side of the road.

As we drove down Broadway, Paul said, “O, look!  See that building.  It was behind that building, in a tent revival, where I was saved, when I was ten.  What a blessed landmark!

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Through the years, I have had the privilege of visiting many well known Landmarks scattered across this world.  I have zoomed to the top 1063 ft., wrought iron Eiffel Tower, in Paris, France.  In Agra, India, I sat in the gardens and contemplated the beauty of the Taj Mahal.  I have craned my neck to view the top of the Washington monument, on the National Mall in   D.C., and from a boat, in the middle of the Thames River, I gazed at the London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel, from which you may view all of London and its surrounding areas.

These were memorable experiences.  Yet, I am, somehow, more touched by the canals in Mesa and the remembrance of my brother’s landmark salvation.

Landmarks are exactly what the word implies—an object that marks the boundary of land.  A landmark may also be an object that marks a certain locality, like the Bottle tree, and it can be a structure of unusual historic interest, or an event that marks a turning point in one’s life.

Proverbs 22:28 tells us, “Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.”

There is a reason for not moving landmarks.  Landmarks keep things stable, secure and correct.  It keeps confusion away.  It helps people identify what is mine and what is yours.

Physical landmarks are important and even necessary, but personal, spiritual landmarks define our life.  Though the building on Le Baron St. is no longer there, I can still see the five-year-old me kneeling at a tear-stained altar with my Sunday school teacher, as I surrendered my heart to Jesus.  I can take you to the place where God called me into ministry, and I could show you the bedroom, where I struggled night after night with The Lord as He revealed His plan for me and faraway places.

Personal spiritual landmarks are sacred ground.  When times are hard, we can go back in thought, at least, to these landmarks, and reflect with humble gratitude about what God did for us there.  He will reassure, reaffirm and refresh us again with His life-giving presence.

Now, we must consider GOD’S Landmarks put in place before you and I ever existed.

In Jeremiah 6:16, The Lord says to us, “…Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it, then you will find rest for your souls…”

Long ago God set up some landmarks for us.  They have not changed, nor, do they need to be updated, because human needs and nature remain as they were from the beginning.  Those unchangeable landmarks are to be found in His word.  They are in place for our protection.  When He says, “Ask for the old paths—the good way, and walk in it,” He is saying, “Walk in obedience.  Walk according to My Word.”

Today, as a society, we are unhappy, dissatisfied, unfulfilled.  We have tried everything to fill up the empty spaces, but it is not working.  We’ve lost our way because we have ignored the ancient landmarks.  It is time to search out God’s Word—to walk in the old paths where the way is good.  Only then will we find the peace for which we long.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

REMAINDERS

Remember Fourth Grade and Long Division?  Let’s see.  Seven goes into twenty-four three times.  Three times seven is twenty-one.  Twenty-four minus twenty-one is three.  What in the world do I do with the three?  Three is the remainder.  It is leftover.

When I think about leftovers, I automatically think of food.  Leftovers are one of the best things about Christmas—turkey and dressing, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce, pecan pie and coconut cake.  No wonder I’m afraid to go back to Weight Watchers.  Some people refuse to eat leftovers, but if I liked it the first time, I figure I will like it the second, third, and perhaps, even the fourth time.  At least I don’t have to cook.

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Alas, there were no leftovers at my house this Christmas.  My brother, who was visiting, decided he wanted steak and baked potatoes.  The only leftover was the pecan pie.  I finally finished it a couple of days ago, after he left.

There are leftovers of all kinds, not just food.   Leftovers are sometimes good and useful—sometimes not.  I am a seamstress, and as such, I am convinced that pattern companies and fabric manufacturers are in cahoots, for patterns always call for more fabric than needed, but the extra is never enough to make anything else.  Yet, as I write this, I visualize, on my closet shelves, My Mama’s beautiful, handmade quilts fashioned from bits and pieces of leftover fabric.

So what do you do with leftovers?  Do you eat them, toss them, or squirrel them away in the attic to be opened by your heirs?  Some people keep every scrap of everything.  I read of a woman who had a little match box labeled, “Pieces of string too short to use.”  That one makes me laugh.

I must admit that I am not a hoarder.  I can’t stand the clutter, so I sometimes throw away things I should have kept.  Sometimes I need a bit of fabric, a piece of string, or the cold potato I threw out last night.

2016 has been an unusual, chaotic, stressful, sometimes terrifying year.  You may be one of those who want to move to Spain or Canada.  Right now you wish you had a little leftover something.  You may feel like a limp, rung out dish rag—your energy gone. Perhaps your health is diminished.  You’re in trouble financially, and your hope for the future is fast fading.  With your resources depleted, it is difficult, if not impossible, to walk into 2017 with any kind of optimism.

None of us knows what this New Year will bring.  However, I truly believe that God is giving America another chance to get things right, but we will never do it on our own.  You and I were never meant to depend upon our own resources.  We are meant to depend upon “Mighty God,” who has ALL POWER.  We are meant to depend upon “Everlasting Father,” the CREATOR of all things.

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When my strength, my wisdom and skills are gone, when even the earth, as we know it, has passed away, there is one who remains.

Hebrews 1:10-12 (NIV) “…In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands.  They will perish, but you remain; they will wear out like a garment.  You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed.  But You remain the same, and your years will never end.”

Lamentations 5:19 (NKJ) “You, O Lord, remain forever; Your throne from Think about it!  This Mighty God, who has all power—this Everlasting Father, the creator of all things, is without beginning and without end.  HE REMAINS!

His creation will one day perish.  He will roll it up like an old garment and change it for a new one, but He will remain.

When I am totally worn out, like an old dress or shirt—when I am ready to go into the rag bag—when I have nothing leftover, still MIGHTY GOD REMAINS.

Do you get the idea?

This old song blesses me:

When I have exhausted my store of endurance,

When my strength has failed ere the day is half done,

When I’ve reached the end of my hoarded resources

My Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limit.  His grace has no measure,

His power no boundary known unto men;

For out of His infinite riches in Jesus

He gives, and gives, and gives again.

You may or may not be pleased with our new government, but let me remind you that our hope must not lie in a bunch of men and women in Washington.  No matter how sincere our leaders are—no matter how hard they try, they cannot do for you or for our country what we need the most.  Only God, the ONE WHO REMAINS, can do that.

With this truth securely anchored in our heart, we can walk into 2017 without a doubt that:

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW