THE FINAL EASTER PARADE

 

When I was in the fifth grade, I actually marched in a parade, fat little kid that I was, and played the snare drum.  It was a rodeo parade.  I can’t imagine it!  If you know me, you know that I am the furthest possible from being a cowgirl.  That’s why, I guess, I have tried to blot it out of my memory.  I have no recollection of the snare drum before or since that parade, but I guess I was a member of our drum and bugle corp.  It’s weird what kids will do!

Parades can be fun and exciting and spectacular.  I usually watch a few minutes of the Rose Bowl Parade each year, but it is beyond me to sit on the sofa or stand on a street corner for hours and watch nine million beautiful floats passing by.  Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is amazing, but a dozen oversized cartoon balloons are enough to last me for a good while.

It’s the unusual, maybe “once in a lifetime” parade that I best remember.

At Christmas time, in Lodi, where I used to live, fire engines festooned with colored lights, holiday music blaring, drove down our residential streets tossing goodies to adults and children alike who gathered on the sidewalks to shout “Merry Christmas.” What a dazzling parade.

As a child, I remember seeing thousands of American Soldiers marching in triumph down New York’s Fifth Avenue, following the end of World War II.  The confetti and ticker tape filled the air, as people welcomed them home.  Now, that was a parade!

Of course, Easter processions or parades, often including special dress, have been part of Christian culture since earliest beginnings.

The Bible records two such processions during the first Holy Week.  On what is now called Palm Sunday, Jesus, seated on a donkey, rode into Jerusalem as an adoring throng waved palm branches and shouted, “Hosanna…blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

On Friday, a few days later, this same Jesus, carrying his cross, led another parade up Calvary’s Mountain.

Authorities attribute the introduction of new Easter clothes and personal finery to the Roman Emperor, Constantine, who ordered his subjects to dress in their finest and parade in honor of Christ’s resurrection.

From 1870 through the 1950s, New York’s Easter Parade was the main cultural expression of Easter in our country.  By the 1880s the Easter Parade had become a vast spectacle of fashion and religious observance.  It was actually an after-church cultural event for the well-to-do.  Decked out in new and fashionable clothing, they would stroll down Fifth Avenue from their own church to others to see the impressive decorations and to be seen by their fellow strollers.  People from the poorer and middle classes would observe the parade to learn the latest trends in fashion.  It was not unusual for a million or more people to turn out for this parade.

By the mid 20th century, the parade’s religious aspects had faded and it was mostly seen as a demonstration of American riches.  What had begun in 1870 as a parade of refinement and religious display had become an ostentatious frolic.

Sadly, for most people today, Easter has little to do with Jesus Christ and His resurrection.  The Easter Bunny and chocolate eggs have stolen the show.

I will never walk down Fifth Avenue on Easter Sunday dressed in my finest, but I will, once again one day, participate in a parade.  It will be the parade to end all parades.

Revelation 19:11 – 16 speaks of this parade.  John, the writer, tells us, “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse.  And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True.  And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.  And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

One day, we don’t know when Jesus is coming back to this sad sinful world.  He will be the Grand Marshall of the grandest parade.  He will ascend from heaven on a white horse followed by the redeemed of all ages.  Those, who have loved and served Him, will be dressed in fine white garments also riding upon white horses.

I would like to think this will take place on some future Easter Sunday, but regardless of the day, our KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, the one who was born for us, died for us, and was resurrected for us, will once again take control of this world wiping out all evil setting up His Kingdom where He will rule and reign forever.

That’s what Easter is all about—our Resurrected Christ, faithful and True, coming again.

MAY YOUR EASTER BE BLESSED!

 REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Momma

Age is just a number, right?  At least, that’s what I have always declared.  I love birthdays, that of mine or anyone else.  Birthdays are a celebration of life and anticipation of another year, no matter what it brings.

I had an attractive friend who cried the whole day on her fortieth birthday.  She looked in the mirror and said, “Blah!  Forty!”  She salted her scrambled eggs with her tears, and wailed, “Forty!” She even wept at the party her friends threw for her.  For Sandy, turning forty was a tragedy.  I wanted to remind her that she was only one day older than yesterday.  I don’t think there is a way to skip from thirty-nine to forty-one.  There is no alternative to becoming forty.  It is forty or nothing.

I have never minded growing older, believing that age has to do with attitude and mind and heart.  However, though I don’t mind being older, I’ve discovered I do mind feeling older.  All of a sudden, my body can no longer keep up with mind, my wishes, and desires.  I am mad!  I feel betrayed!  I had such marvelous plans for this season of life.  Those plans are no longer feasible, at least for the moment.

My Mom was a feisty little thing always on the go.  With a twinkle in her eye and laughter in her voice, she announced that she was going to live to be one hundred.   She didn’t, but the days she did live, she lived with purpose and joy setting an example for those of us who loved her.  I have an image of Mama indelibly stamp on my heart.  She sits on the side of her bed, early in the morning, dressed in her soft pink robe, her white hair mussed from sleep, her Bible open her lap.  What an example!

Mama lived with me the last few months of her life.  She was fragile, but she had a mind of her own.  I tried my best to take good care of her making sure that she was clean and comfortable and had nutritious meals, but if she didn’t want it, she didn’t want it.  She hated oatmeal, sometimes hiding it in a paper towel in her robe pocket.  She detested the handful of pills that were forced upon her each day, and shower water pelting down on her was worse than death.

Finally, her little body just wore out.  When it was clear that she was dying, with broken heart, I reminded her of her promise to live to be one-hundred.  She squeezed my hand and said, “That’s one promise I cannot keep.”

Tomorrow, March 23rd, will have been my Mother’s 118th birthday.  She was born in 1900 to Mary Ballentine and John Fullerton, in Whitewright, Texas.  She was the eighth in a family of nine children.  They named her Maggie Lou.  She would forever detest her name saying, she would rather be called “Doggie.”

After her death, we took Mama home to Arizona and buried her between Daddy and our brother, Henry.  At the end of the service, after family and friends had paid their respects, my four siblings and I stood by the coffin to say our last “good-byes.”

“Happy Birthday, Mama,” Lincoln said tenderly.

It was March 23rd, Mama’s eighty-ninth birthday, and though we sorrowed and the tears flowed, I suspect, for Mama, it was the happiest of birthdays.  No more pills, no more showers, no more oatmeal, and best of all, after a journey spanning almost a century, she was finally home.

So, what do I do?  Do I give up, because my body betrays me?  Do I lie on the sofa all day with novel in hand munching on bonbons?  At the age of eighty-two, I suppose I have the right.

Still, I have never lived like that.  I can’t begin now.  Surely God has a plan for the rest of my days, and He does.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV), “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

My future may not be as I imagined it, but God, our creator, has not run out of ideas, and His are so much better than mine.

At this point, I have no idea what the future holds, but I’m kind of excited.  I will not be idle.  Will there be rough patches?  I am certain of it!  How will I handle the bad times?

Deuteronomy 33:25 says, “…As your days, so shall your strength be.”

2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

These scriptures assure me God will give me supernatural strength for whatever comes my way, both the good and the bad.  I am weak, but He is strong.

Therefore, I am looking forward to growing older, celebrating more birthdays, and living out God’s good plan with hope for the future.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MAMA!

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

HEIR TO THE KINGDOM

When I was a child, this “Valley of the Sun,” where I live, was dotted with little towns separated by miles of cactus decorated desert.  Now, the valley has grown into a conglomerate– a city stretching for many miles in every direction crisscrossed with great highways that get you there in a matter of minutes.  The little towns have been swallowed up.

All those years ago, a twenty mile trip to Phoenix was a rare but greatly anticipated journey.  We drove through two towns and miles of desert before arriving at our destination, but for me and my siblings, the wonders we saw along the way were far more exciting than the city itself.

The giant Hayden Flour Mill was on the right-hand side of the road on the north edge of Tempe.  It was owned by the family of our very own, longtime Arizona senator, Carl Hayden.  We were impressed, but the Mill Avenue Bridge over the Salt River was even more intriguing.  Of course, the river was dry.  It had been dry since the dams were built upstream in the 1940’s but that didn’t spoil our fun.

However, the sight we most looked forward to was THE CASTLE!  Right out in the middle of the Arizona desert surrounded by Saguaros and rattlesnakes was a real castle—The Tovrea Castle.  It looked like a three-tiered wedding cake—it still looks like a three-tiered wedding cake, but to a child who had never seen a castle, it was magnificent.   I could dream for hours about what it was like to live in such a place.  Did a king live there?  I imagined myself a princess in that castle.

Perhaps that was the beginning of my interest in and fascination with royalty.

In the supermarket or at the beauty shop I am attracted by magazine covers portraying William and Kate and their babies, and Prince Harry and his soon to be bride.  I can’t help but be interested in what’s going on in their life.

I still remember Princess Elizabeth’s wedding and the birth of Bonny Prince Charlie, and the pomp and circumstance of her coronation, as the Arch Bishop of Canterbury placed the crown upon her head.

Why is it that Americans are so intrigued with royalty?  We, who fought to escape the rule of King George III, now follow faithfully the escapades of the Royal House of Windsor.

Our little girls play at being princesses.  Our Newspapers and magazines are filled with royal stories.  We stand with faces pressed against the wrought iron fence surrounding Buckingham Palace just hoping to catch the appearance of some royal personage.

It has been said that, after his success with the Revolutionary War, George Washington, had he so desired, could have been “King of America.”  His supposed reply to that idea was, “I didn’t fight George the III to become George I.

Still, we are possessed with this inordinate interest in the royals.  I have tried to understand the reason.  Though I know, at the core, a royal is just another person like I am.  He suffers the same sin and sorrow that I suffer.  Yet, he seems so far above the maddening crowd—untouchable by the dinginess and tawdriness of this life.

I don’t think it is the riches or the adulation we are longing for.  Perhaps our preoccupation with royalty is an innate desire for something more—something better—a higher sphere of life.  This world has become a base, ugly place.  Lurking in every corner is hatred and strife, disappointment and danger.  Factions are constantly gnawing away at each other attempting to destroy our equilibrium.

We long to escape the vexation of this world.

Remember Queen Esther?  She was an orphaned Jewess, a captive in ancient Persia, exiled from her homeland.   When King Ahasuerus looked for a new wife, as unlikely as it seemed, he chose Esther.

Esther 2:16-17 tells us, “So Esther was taken…into his royal palace…The king loved Esther more than all the other women…so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen…”

Somehow I identify with Esther more easily than with Queen Elizabeth or Kate, for I was also an orphan estranged from God.

According to Romans 8:15-17, I have “…received the Spirit of adoption…The Spirit bears witness…that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…”

I have been adopted into the family of God.  He is my Father.  I am his heir—recipient of His love—His goodness—His bounty, and all the glories of heaven.  Furthermore, I am joint heir with His Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, is my big brother.  That makes me a princess royal.  Kate has nothing on me!

James 2:5 tells us “…Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”

I AM HEIR TO THE KINGDOM!

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I WISH I MAY, I WISH I MIGHT

 

Star light, Star bright,

The first star I see tonight;

I wish I may, I wish I might

Have the wish I wish tonight.

 

This little ditty is believed to be of late 19th century American origin.  However, the superstition of hoping for wishes granted when seeing a shooting star or falling star may date back to the ancient world.

The words allude to the fantasy that, if you wish upon a star, your wish will surely come true.   In fact, in Walt Disney’s “Pinocchio,” Jiminy Cricket says so.

“When you wish upon a star,

Makes no difference who you are.

Anything your heart desires

Will come to you.”

Now, we know, in our rational moments, this is fantasy.  Even the words, “I wish I may, I wish I might—express a growing sense of doubt and pathos.  Still, many of us spend half our life wishing for something more or something better or something not quite so bad.

My little sister used to sit on the end of her cotton sack between two rows of cotton, in the scorching Arizona heat, and wish the wind would blow.  Most often, it did not.

Every Tuesday my mailbox is filled with myriads of thin, anemic catalogs that quickly find their way into the garbage, for I remember the real catalogs the postman used to leave at our front door—thick, heavy tomes filled with treasures from Montgomery Ward, J.C. Penney, and Sears & Roebuck.  They came in the spring and in the fall, and at Christmas time. That was the glorious one.

With catalog before me, I lay, for hours, on my belly in the floor leafing through these beautiful, colorful treasure troves.  

There was something for everyone—clothing, shoes, furniture, appliances, fabric, kitchen wares, tools, and one cannot forget the toys.  No one was left out.

Is it any wonder these catalogs became known as “Wish books?

Christmas catalogs were the most anticipated.  They came with shiny covers and bright colors. I could spend hours dreaming my way through those pages.  There was every kind of gift and goody—chocolate and hard candies—toys, decorations, and special Christmas clothing.

I was aware, as I looked and dreamed, that I was never going to have all those heart fluttering things, but—still I wished.  I knew on Christmas morning there would be something, for My Mama also looked at the catalog, and she listened to my dreams. So there was HOPE!

HOPE!  I love that word.

“Wish” and “Hope” are words often used in our vocabulary, but they couldn’t be further apart in meaning.  

“Wish” is a sad little word often accompanied with a sigh. It means to want or desire something unattainable.  “Wish I hadn’t said that.” “Wish I could do it over.” “Wish I hadn’t eaten so much.” “Wish I could win the lottery,” etc.  Still, wishing on nine billion stars will not bring it to pass.

Now, “Hope” is a hopeful word.  There’s no better way to say it.  “Hope” explains itself. It means to cherish a desire with expectation of fulfillment, or long for with expectation of obtainment.

“Hope” may also refer to someone or something on which hopes are centered.

In Psalm 71:5, David said, “…You are my hope, O Lord, God.”

The Apostle Paul told his readers, in Romans 5:3-5, “…we glory in tribulation because it produces…hope.  Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts…”

If you are hoping in Christ, if He is your hope, no matter how difficult life becomes, hope doesn’t disappear, it does not disappoint because He is still there.  He has promised never to leave you, and he won’t.

In this life, we don’t always obtain all the things we hope for.  Life may not be turning out exactly the way you pictured it. However, you and I, as followers of Christ, have a secret.  We know that this earthly life is just the beginning. For there is life after this world, as we know it, has ceased to be.  That is our HOPE! We know this hope will be fulfilled because God’s word gives us that assurance. Our hope will not disappoint us.

Titus tells us, in 2:3, that he himself is, “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

HE IS OUR HOPE!

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

WHEN OPTIMISM FLYS THE COUP

 In my first blog, almost two years ago, I introduced myself to you as an OPTIMISTIC OCTOGENARIAN.  I’ve always thought of myself in those terms.  I’m the one who makes lemonade out of lemons, and I see the glass half full instead of half empty. “Nothing is ever as bad as it seems” “It will be better tomorrow. “ We can do something to fix this.”

I have been accused of being out of touch with reality because I refuse to see the hopeless side of things.  BUT—I must confess—lately, I have found myself questioning my own outlook.

Truth is the last five and one-half years have been the most stressful, traumatic time in my life—without a breather.  I have written about all of this, so I will not bore you with the details.

First, there was the unimaginable excitement and stress of marrying at an advanced age, then after only a few months, the death of my husband, and the unbearable grief that followed. When I could finally function again, I was confronted with my sister’s needs.  Things that seemed simple have become so complicated.  Nothing has gone smoothly.  There is one crisis after another, and I am tired.  There is always a knot in the pit of my stomach and I live with a sense of uneasiness, and at the same time, I live with a sense of hope that “this, too, shall pass.”

So, am I truly an optimist or have I been depending on my own innate strength.  I am a strong person.  I know that!  I’ve always been able to solve the problem in some way.  No more!  I am, now, at the mercy of others.

Is it true?  Have I, like the proverbial ostrich, been burying my head in the sand refusing to face reality?  If so, I find myself reluctant to admit it.  (By the way, the ostrich does not bury his head in the sand.)

In my moments of quiet contemplation, trying my best to understand all of this, I realize that my optimism springs from my relationship with God.

Everyone, whether Saint or outright heathen, suffers difficult problems. Many others face impossible, unsolvable situations.  How do they cope?  No wonder the suicide rate is increasing, and mental institutions are crowded with hopeless souls.

Realizing that my optimism is inextricably linked with my faith raises another question.  When optimism wavers, where does the fault lie?  Is my faith also wavering?

The Apostle Paul, in Philippians 4:6, told the people that they were “to be anxious for nothing.”  Then he gave them the cure for anxiety, “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Still, I am anxious, which seems to say that I distrust God’s power and wisdom, and doubt the reality of His promises.  Yet, I know that is not true.  I do trust Him.  That is the reason I keep coming back.

Of course, I pray, and others pray with me.  The problem lies in the fact that I know He hears me, but I don’t know, yet, what He is doing about it.  Could my impatience be part of the issue?

I have a way of wanting God to do it right now.  But, perhaps He is using this period to teach me a grand lesson—a lesson in patience.

In Luke 21, Jesus speaks to His followers about the terrible trials that will come in the last days, but He says, “Don’t worry for not a hair of your head shall be lost.  By your faith and patience, you shall have eternal life.”

James 1:3-4 says, “…the testing of your faith produces patience…that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

LACKING NOTHING!  WOW!  That surely puts a shot into the arm of my optimism.  Lacking nothing must mean that one day soon, I hope, all these awful, strength-sapping trials will be behind me.  I will heave a great sigh of relief and dance a joyful jig, and try to ward off the next onslaught.

I have been learning Christ all my life.  These years of pain have only served to reemphasize the truths already learned.  I KNOW that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.  I KNOW that He surrounds me with His loving care.  I KNOW that His Spirit indwells me and upholds me. I KNOW that He will cause me to triumph, and enable me to be faithful until death.

IN HIM I LACK NOTHING!

This truth ought to elicit a torrent of Thanksgiving.

If that isn’t optimism, I don’t know what is…

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!