ARE YOU WORTH IT?

When I first lived in Belgium, there was no such thing as MacDonald’s, Wendy’s or Burger King.  We did have our own fast food chain.  It was called “G.B. Quick.”  That was the misnomer of the century.  There was nothing quick about that fast food establishment.

For me, it was extremely annoying to be charged extra for ketchup.  In the tiniest of little paper cups, they splashed an ounce of the red stuff and charged five francs.

I decided I could buy a gallon of ketchup, set up a table outside the door, sell the ketchup for four francs, make my fortune and be fixed for life.

I feel the same way about paying $3.00 for a glass of iced-tea in a restaurant.  Do you know how much a tea bag costs?

The problem is, I remember when you could buy a Baby Ruth or Butterfinger candy bar for a nickel, but even nickels were scarce for those who grew up poor.

The blessing in our home was a Mama who knew how to stretch a dollar, to shop the sales, and make the cheapest cuts of meat delectable.

We live in a monetized world.  Everything has a price tag.  People are constantly assessing the value of their stocks and bonds, bank CDs, 401K, insurance policies, pension plans, welfare checks, food stamps, and minimum wage.  We even feel we must place some kind of value on the human life.

Have you ever wondered how much you are worth?  I dare say, “At times, because of the attitude of others or, perhaps, our own foolishness, some of us are tempted to feel we are worthless.”

The United States Government gives $600,000.00 to the family of a fallen soldier.  The worth of a victim, in a wrongful death incident, is determined according to that person’s projected lifetime income, whether he is a ditch digger or a doctor.

In 1924 Dr. Charles H. Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic and president of the AMA, placed a value on the basic chemical elements that make up the physical body.  He estimated that you are worth about eighty-four cents.

He said, with a laugh, “In the human body, there is enough sulfur to keep flees off a dog and enough iron to make an eight-penny nail.”  One of Dr. Mayo’s pet topics was the food we eat.  It seems our food is of far more monetary value than the body it nourishes.

Currently, in 2017, your skin is worth $3.50 and the basic elements are now worth $1.00.  (I spent more than twice that on my hamburger yesterday.)  Almost one hundred years have passed and our worth has only gone up sixteen cents.  At least we have not diminished in value.

Some of the most popular catch phrases of the modern age are, “I am worth it.”  “You are worth it.”  We use these phrases in an attempt to get something, sell something or just “feel good” about ourselves.  How sad to value ourselves by the size of our bank account.

Thomas Edison said, “From his neck down a man is worth a couple of dollars a day, but from his neck up he is worth anything his brain can produce.

In the late 1960s, pop singer, Peggy Lee made popular the song, “Is That All There Is.”  The song lyrics paint a picture of life experiences that never quite live up to our expectations.

The refrain says:  “If that’s all there is my friend, then let’s keep dancing

Let’s break out the booze and have a ball

 If that’s all there is.

This song implies that you can live as you please, if that’s all there is.

BUT—that’s not all there is.  For most of us the value of the human body is priceless, not because of its chemical makeup or even its brain function, but because of the life it cradles.  We are more than skin and brain and chemicals.  “That’s not all there is!”

Genesis 2:7 tells us, “God formed man out of the dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life.  The man came alive—a living soul!”

Think of it.  God breathed His own breath into man thereby infusing his flesh and bones with this inexplicable thing called “soul”—the part of him that lives forever—the thing that makes him who he is—that makes him a whole person—that makes him of value.

What are you worth?  God made you in His own image—He breathed into you His own breath.  What are you worth?

God thinks you are worth a whole bunch!  He proved this by paying the ultimate price, the life of His precious son, for your redemption, and if you belong to Him, the WORD is full of further proof of your value.

You have this promise in Zephania 3:17, “…He will rejoice over you with gladness…He will rejoice over you with singing.”  Would he do that, if you were a worthless piece of junk?  I think not!

Are you worth it?  God thinks you are.

THIS IS NOT ALL THERE IS!  We still look forward to eternity with Him.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

LAND THAT I LOVE

 

In 1938, beloved composer, Irving Berlin, wanted to write a “peace song“-an anthem that would inspire his fellow Americans to live in harmony.  This Russian-born Jew, who had immigrated to the U.S. in 1893, had already lived through one world war and knew another one was coming.

After several attempts, he decided to revamp a song he had written in 1918 but never published.  Thus was born “God Bless America.”

The song appealed to the national psyche offering a kind of collective prayer for the unease over an impending war.

In 1940, both the Republican and Democratic parties adopted the song as their own.  Critics said, “Why should God bless America and no other country, and what about separation of church and state?  Some even questioned why a Russian Jew should speak for America.

Thinking about Independence Day, America‘s birthday, I have been singing this heart-stopping song.  “God Bless America land that I love.”  I realize that it is an incredibly personal song.  I love this land-not “we,” not ‘someone else.”  I love this land!

Upon reflection, I cannot help but remember when I left these shores to become a resident in another country.

On August 25, 1975, I boarded a plan in Phoenix, Arizona and headed east-final destination, Brussels, Belgium.

I had been to Europe as a tourist, but now I would become a long-term resident in a country where I had never been.   At the same time, I was happy and sad-excited and fearful.  I was headed away from everything I had ever known to a place where I knew nothing-not even the language.

If someone had asked me at that moment whether or not I loved America, my reply would have been an emphatic, “YES!”  I am a patriot.  I am a flag waver, but until I lived on foreign soil, I had no idea how much I appreciated the land of my birth.

One-thousand-year-old Brussels is a beautiful city green and luscious surrounded by verdant forests and dotted with ponds, but it wasn’t home.

I learned quickly that as a foreigner I must register with the police and report to them yearly.  I could not change residence and move across town without notifying the authorities.  I must, at all times, carry an official identity card proving who I am.  I must have a government issued residence visa in order to stay in the country.

Now, the USA must have similar regulations, to one degree or another, for foreign residence, but I had never experienced such things, and in some ways, it seemed an affront to my integrity.  The freedom I had always enjoyed was now limited.

The language barrier was especially difficult.  It was amazing to hear a two-year-old spouting fluent French when I could scarcely say “Bon Jour and Au Revoir.”

When homesickness threatened to overwhelm, I drove past the American Embassy just to see “Old Glory” hoisted high waving at the world.  How could a piece of fabric, no matter how large, bring such pride and comfort to my heart?

In the language school, I was surrounded by students from many parts of the world.  Most of them would have given the shirt off their back to get to America.

Many of my Bible College students longed to come to the country I had left behind.  What a revelation it was to meet people who would willingly give up citizenship in their homeland in order to become an American citizen.  I could never do that!

Berlin’s song says, “God…stand beside her and guide her through the night with a light from above…”

My heart is heavy today.  “…From the mountains to the prairies, to the ocean white with foam…” the darkness of night has settled on our beloved land.  Because of sinful pride and selfishness, violence and unreasonable hatred permeate the very atmosphere.

On September 11, 2001, our American Congress stood on the steps of the Capitol building and sang, “God Bless America.”  It was a thrilling moment.  They were one that day, but the unity didn’t really last.

It is time again to pray, “God Bless America.”  That is our only hope.

In II Chronicles 7:14, God spoke to King Solomon saying, “If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

The apostle Paul admonishes us, in Romans 13  “…be a responsible citizen…respect your leaders…love other people as well as you do yourself.”

God gives us the formula.  We must humble ourselves, seek Him in prayer, abandon our sins and He will heal our land.

GOD BLESS AMERICA – AGAIN!

 

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

WRITE OFFS

Write offs may be good or bad.  Before April 15, we comb through our records looking for every possible deduction—the more the merrier. We write off our kids, our mortgage, our medical expenses, our charitable giving.  That’s all good, for the more write offs we have the less we pay Uncle Sam.  That has to do with our taxes, but we also write off things for other reasons.  In fact we sometimes write off people.

Have you ever given up on someone?  Perhaps, you have decided that he is inconsequential—no longer important to you.  You are not going to waste anymore time or attention or energy on this person.  So, you write him off.

Last Saturday I had an enlightening, and unexpected experience.  I was scheduled to attend two funerals—the funeral for a church acquaintance and a memorial for a relative.  Actually, I didn’t want to go to either, but out of duty, I decided to pay my respects to the son-in-law of my half-sister.

My family is kind of weird.  Daddy was a lot older than my mother and had a passel of grown children when they were married.  I rarely saw these older siblings, and since we never lived under the same roof, or even in the same state, it was difficult to think of them as brothers and sisters.

The widow of the man I was paying my respects to is my 87-year-old niece—older than I but niece none the less.

As I drove mile after mile through the desolate desert a thought came to mind.  “If I were asked to say something to this group of people, most of whom I did not know at all, what would I say?  With the exception of two or three, they were not church goers—God played very little part in their lives.  I tried to dismiss the thought since there was little chance that the opportunity would arise.   However, I couldn’t shake the idea knowing that God was directing my thoughts.  I knew there was no planned service.  There would be photos and recorded music, but no minister.  Someone would read a couple of scriptures and friends were free to share.

I sat in the back of the room watching the milling people.  Through the crowd, my niece spotted me.  Her eyes were red from weeping.  I felt sad for her.  She had no children and few friends.

Taking my hand she asked, “Could you sing?  Would you say something to the people?  You can say something from the Bible if you want to.”

I was surprised, and yet, not really, for I knew The Lord had prepared me for this.

“I’m not prepared to sing,” I answered, “but we can all sing together.  We can sing “Amazing Grace.” Everyone knows that.  And, yes, I will say a few words, if you want.”

I knew exactly what I would say, for God had already dropped the words into my heart. I stood behind the podium and introduced myself.  I told my audience that Dody is my niece.  I admitted that I did not know her husband well and had no idea what he believed or what relationship he had with God.

Then I said, “I have come to tell you that God loves you—every one of you.  He sent His Son, Jesus, to prove His love.  The Bible says, in Romans 3:23, “All of us have sinned,” and in Romans 10:9, “…if we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, (we will be forgiven) we will be saved.”

I talked to them about the fact that Jesus went away to prepare a place for those who love Him.  One day He will come again and take us there to live with Him forever.  I shared the simple Gospel.

As I spoke, I was aware that something was happening in my heart.  I no longer felt disconnected from this group.  I realized I was looking at my father’s family.  Dody was his granddaughter.  In that audience there were great grandkids, at least one great, great grandson, a great, great, great grandson, and two great, great, great, great granddaughters.  They were my family—an arm of my family that I had “written off” years ago.  They made no effort.  They never came around, so I didn’t either. My heart was touched when, after the service, they all came to introduce themselves.  I’ll never look at them the same way again.

I am reminded of a cartoon I once saw.  A little boy was defending himself against some criticism.  He said, “I’m me and I’m special, ‘cause God made me.  And God don’t make no junk!”

“God don’t make no junk!”  He was right.  God never made a throw away.

]You are God’s creation.  He treasures you.  Matthew, the apostle, tells us that not one sparrow falls to the ground but that God knows about it.  Then he says in chapter 10:31, “…you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Regardless of how you are treated by others you are not inconsequential to God.  He will not write you off.  You are precious to Him, and He must become precious to you.

Remember 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?

cactus

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

GONE FISHIN’

When I lived in Belgium, it was almost impossible to get anything done during the months of July and August.  Almost every smaller business – electricians, plumbers, neighborhood grocers, etc – were closed up tighter than a drum.  The Europeans prize their month long vacation and take advantage of every moment.  The Belgians go to the south of France and the French go to Spain—anywhere to catch some rays.  The lights are off and the sign is on the door.  “GONE FISHIN’”!  Actually, the sign just says “FERME – CLOSED,” but it means the same thing.   “Don’t call.  Don’t knock.  Don’t ask.  I will not answer.  I am not available.”
fishing-909554_1920Do you ever feel like God has “GONE FISHIN’?” 

For many months I have been talking to God about a desperate need in my family.  I have prayed, I have cried, I have begged, I have bargained, I have even told God how to do it, but the heavens are silent without a whisper of encouragement.  Has He heard?  Does He care?

I am reminded of the story of Elijah and a bunch of false prophets.  Elijah was concerned because Israel had forsaken God and turned to the worship of Baal.  So he challenged these prophets to a contest.  Elijah would offer a sacrifice to his God, and the prophets of Baal would offer a sacrifice to their god.  The god that answered by fire would be the one true god to be worshiped.  The prophets of Baal went first.  They prepared their sacrifice, and they prayed, man did they pray, from morning till noon, but there was no answer.  Elijah mocked them saying, “Cry louder. Maybe he is meditating, or he is busy.  Perhaps he is on vacation, or he is asleep, or he’s GONE FISHIN’.” Still, no matter what they did, even to the bloody cutting of themselves, there was no reply.

fish-1755473_1280Now, I can understand that.  The god they prayed to was no god at all.  He was the figment of someone’s imagination.  And those so called prophets were greatly deceived, but what about that person who really loves our God and lives to please Him.  What about you and me?  What about our needs?  Why hasn’t my God, who can surely do anything, answered my prayer?  Doesn’t He care anymore?  Has He “GONE FISHIN’?”

In contrast to those false prophets, the Prophet Daniel was a man of impeccable character.  Daniel’s whole life was spent in faithful service to God.  God revealed to Daniel some things that were going to happen, in the future, to his people, Israel.  This revelation made Daniel very sad, so he prayed.

Daniel 10:2, “In those days, I Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.  I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

If I understand correctly, Daniel prayed without ceasing for those three weeks.  He fasted and prayed earnestly even neglecting his own personal needs.  Why didn’t God answer him right away?

We sometimes think God doesn’t answer us, because of something we have or have not done.  That may or may not be true.  However, this was not the case with Daniel.  He was one of the very few in the Bible against whom not one charge was ever levied.  He was a Godly man, but he had to wait for his answer.

So, why doesn’t God answer immediately?

In Luke 11:9, Jesus says, “…ask and it will be given to you…”

            John 14:14:  “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

 boy-909552_1920Matthew 21:22:  “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

That’s pretty clear.  Isn’t it?

I’ve thought a lot about this, and I believe I know some of the reasons we don’t get our answers immediately.

  1. God wants relationship with me. Every moment I spend in God’s presence I am learning to know Him better.  If, when I run into His presence crying “give me, give me, give me, He answers immediately, then I don’t have to come back until I need something else.
  2. What I want is not always what I need. God knows that better than I do, so He, sometimes, says “NO!  That’s an answer.
  3. God’s timing is perfect. No matter how long we wait for the answer GOD IS NEVER TOO LATE.  When Jairus asked Jesus to come heal his daughter, Jesus went with him.  On the way, a servant met them with the news, “…your daughter is dead.  Jesus doesn’t need to come.”  Jesus answered, “Don’t be afraid; only believe,” and THE DAUGHTER WAS HEALED.  God always answers on time.
  4. Some of God’s promises come with contingencies. Psalm 37:4:  “Delight…in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  TRY SOME DELIGHTING!
  5. In Daniel’s case, Gabriel told him that, from the first day he prayed, God heard every word, and sent Gabriel with the answer. But Gabriel was delayed, for twenty – one days, by evil forces. (Daniel 10:12 – 13.)   We have an enemy, who does not want God’s goodness for us.  Consequently, he sometimes interferes delaying the answer.

Has God “GONE FISHIN’?”  Not on your life!

Our Great God, who created all that now exists, is not stymied by your need.  His promises are true, and HIS ANSWER IS ON THE WAY!

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

 

 

 

GOOD FOR THE BODY, GOOD FOR THE SOUL

Years ago, when I first began seriously considering my weight problem, I realized that losing weight demanded more than a reduction in calories.  It also demanded an increase in activity.  So I decided to walk.

I got in my car and made an oval circuit around my neighborhood discovering that I had driven ¾ of a mile.  I could surely walk that far.  Couldn’t I?

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The next morning I arose at 6:30, laced up my walking shoes and walked out the gate.  I lived in a pretty area – big trees, green lawns, and bright flowers, but I couldn’t concentrate on those things.  All my thoughts and energy were devoted to simply taking the next step.  I had not known how difficult it would be to drag that excess weight ¾ of a mile.  By the time I reached home, I was drenched with sweat and wearier than I like to admit.

A friend said to me, “O, you’ll enjoy it more if you walk with someone if you have someone to talk to.”

“TALK,” I exclaimed.  “Forget talking.  I’m just trying to breathe!”

Do people who say, “Exercise helps me relax,” know about not exercising?

Walking became a serious business for me.  At the outset, I didn’t do it because it was fun.  I didn’t do it because I liked it.  In fact, I can’t honestly say that I ever genuinely enjoyed it.  I did it because I needed to, because it was good for me, because I benefited physically.  People sometimes came out on the sidewalk to tell me how much they admired what I was doing, and how great I looked.  I tried walking in the mall, but that didn’t work for me.  The window displays were too distracting.  So, back to my neighborhood where I kept walking until I was covering 2 miles each morning, and the scale readout proved the fruit of my effort.

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Just as physical exercise is beneficial to my body, so, also, is spiritual exercise beneficial to my soul.

Psalm 119:1 – 3.  “You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.  You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find Him.  That’s right – you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road He set.”

Walking steadily…straight… on the road,” that’s important.

My daddy was a farmer.  Even up into his eighties, he loved to walk through the fields inspecting the crops judging whether or not this farmer knew what he was doing.  I can see him now walking slowly with the help of a cane, the breeze ruffling his sparse white hair.  He didn’t run.  He didn’t jog.  He just picked up his foot and put it down moving forward with each step, making slow, but steady progress toward his destination.

There are a lot of spiritual sprinters in the family of God.  A sprinter is one who runs at top speed for a short distance.  But he is not much good over the long haul.  You’ve seen spiritual sprinters—so enthusiastic at the starting line, but when the road seems long—when the way becomes hard, their energy peters out and they’re finished.

In Hebrews 12:1, the Apostle Paul tells us that there is a race to be won.  His advice to us is, “…Strip down, start running—and never quit…Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.”

There were mornings I didn’t want to walk.  I wanted to groan, turn over and go back to sleep, but I walked regardless knowing that I would never reach my goal otherwise.

You say, “I don’t feel like reading the Word and praying and being obedient, and all that other stuff.”  I know that feeling.

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However, the Apostle Paul says, in I Corinthians 9:26 – 27.  “…I am running hard for the finish line…I discipline my body and bring it into subjection…” Paul is saying, “Do it whether you feel like it or not.  Just keep running until you cross the finish line.” The FINISH LINE is our goal!

Finally, Paul tells us in II Timothy 4:7 – 8.  “Hoorah, hoorah, I’ve finished the race.  The Crown is mine!”  (Paraphrased)

One more thing!  Beware of the detours.

Driving north on California 101 in the winter time, it is not unusual to encounter detour signs.  That arrow leads you off the main highway, down a curving two-lane road, through the big trees and tiny villages.  The detour may take fifteen minutes or two hours, but eventually and always, it leads you back to the main thoroughfare.  Not so in our spiritual walk!  Our enemy often places detours in our path with no intention of ever pointing us back to the right way.  So keep your eyes on Jesus.  He marks the path and leads the way.

In Psalm 119:10, the writer cried, “…don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted”

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!!!

WALK IN HIS SUNLIGHT!

 

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!!!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SISTER EFFIE

Effie Doshier was my Sunday school teacher when I was five years old.  I adored her.  When permitted, I sat with her in church.  It was there on a Sunday evening where, after the pastor preached, she bent and whispered in my ear.

“Faye,” she asked softly, “Would you like to pray with me and ask Jesus to come into your heart?”  I was already crying knowing, though I couldn’t have verbalized it at the time, the Holy Spirit was speaking to my heart.

“Uh huh,” I answered with a sob.

She took my little hand and led me to the altar, where we knelt together.  She prayed with me as I confessed my sin and invited Jesus into my heart.

Many would pooh-pooh such a practice, but I knew exactly what I was doing.  Salvation was a truth I had heard over and over again during my short life.

I don’t remember most things that happened to me when I was five years old, but I do remember that night.  That initial salvation experience became a new way of life in Christ Jesus.

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It was a life like that of other believers – a life of spiritual successes and mistakes, a life of growth and backsliding.  Sometimes it seemed that for every step I took forward, I took two backward.  In spite of missteps along the way, with God’s help and that of my parents, pastors and mentors, I stayed the course.

God kept me through those lean teenage years, until finally by a difficult and circuitous route, I understood God’s plan for my life—a place in full time ministry.

Saying “Yes” to God meant becoming a world missionary.  That was a nearly impossible decision to make.  Leaving everyone I loved and, more particularly, everyone who loved me was almost more than I could bear.  Yet,obedience was my only alternative, if I expected God’s blessing on my life.

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In preparation for ministry overseas, I was required to visit our churches and raise support for my work.

 

 

On a Sunday morning, at a little church in Arvin, California, I stood before the congregation and told them that God had called me to minister in Europe on behalf of children.  I talked about how necessary it is to reach kids while they are young, and how foolish we are to wait until lives are ruined before they are confronted with the claims of the gospel.

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As I shared, I recounted the story of my own salvation telling how Sister Effie Doshier had led me to Christ at the age of five.

Following the morning service, a feisty little lady with a sassy hat perched on her white hair came to the front of the sanctuary to shake my hand.

Looking up at me, scrutinizing every feature, she asked, “Are you Faye Clark, whom I used to know in Mesa, Arizona?

“I’m Faye Clark,” I replied, “And I used to live in Mesa.”

“Well, I am Effie Doshier, your Sunday school teacher, “she announced with a great deal of satisfaction.

My family had been close to the Doshiers when I was little, but they moved away and I lost all track of them having no idea where they were.  I was totally dumbfounded by this turn of events.  Nothing would do but I have lunch with Effie and her daughter.  As adults, we became friends.  I spent nights with her when I was in the area.  After I went to the field, she sent me $5.00 and $10.00 money orders with sweet letters.

Effie was kind of like the little widow in Luke 21:2, who put two mites in the offering.  Jesus said that she had given more than anyone because she gave all she had.  Effie’s support was not the greatest amount I ever received, but it certainly was the best.

I can’t forget that she gave her life for ministry to children just as I had.  She was one of the reasons I was in the ministry.

It has been many years since I ministered to children, and I understand that it is getting more difficult to find workers today who will take the time for kids.  But, I must tell you that there is nothing more satisfying than leading a child to Christ knowing that a whole life has been saved for His Kingdom.

If you have young children in your home, don’t neglect their spiritual welfare.  Talk to them about Jesus.  Read the Word to them.  Pray with them.  Don’t leave this all-important responsibility to someone else.

AND – if you have any energy left at all, volunteer to help with the kids at your church.  Be like Sister Effie and give your best to Him.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

YOU HAVE A BEAUTIFUL FACE

I am the consummate weight watcher.  In fact, I am the Weight Watcher Poster Child.

All my life I was overweight – extremely overweight.  Twice I lost over 100 lbs, but each time I gained it back and even more.  I couldn’t seem to get a handle on it.

I hated being fat.  There, I said it!  I tried to make up for it by being smart and dressing well.  But, honestly, everything is more difficult when you are heavy.  People look at you as though you have just consumed two dozen Krispy Kreme Donuts.  Which, I never did.

There were times when, a well-meaning, or a stupid person, said to me, “You have a beautiful face.  It wasn’t what they said that was offensive.  It’s what they didn’t say.  I wanted to slap ‘em.

My niece, fifteen years my junior, traveled with me in ministry for awhile.  She was no bigger than a peanut, and she was never hungry.

If I said to her, “It’s almost lunch time.  Where would you like to eat?”

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Her standard answer was, “I’m not hungry.”

Sometimes I felt like slapping her, too.  I was always hungry.

One day, about eighteen years ago, I made the decision to put a screeching halt to the insane way I was living.

Do you ever wonder how you know it’s the right time for whatever? Somehow I knew this was the day.  So I crawled out of bed and, in a pouring rain, I went to a Weight Watcher meeting.

“Do you want to join Weight Watchers,” chirped this cute little thing?

“I don’t know,” I growled.

I let them weigh me in – 267 pounds, and I stayed for the meeting.  One woman had reached her goal weight losing 90 pounds.  She didn’t shut up the whole meeting.  It was annoying, but I left there saying, “If she can do it, so can I!”

I never looked back.  It took me a little over two years to lose 130 pounds.

A few months before I reached my goal, I attended a grand Christmas event.  I had a new outfit – a long black velvet skirt and a glittery red top.  I stood in front of the mirror a gorgeous woman looking back at me.  I felt like Cinderella.  I was so proud of what I had done.

When I had lost 100 pounds, my leader asked me to tell the group how I had done it.  “Well,” I said, “I followed the program and I prayed a lot.”

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My prayer every day was, “Lord, I’m doing exactly what they tell me to do.  Please cause my body to respond as it should.”

I always knew that I would forever have to be careful lest I gain back what I had worked so hard to lose.  For fifteen years I kept the weight off going faithfully to a meeting every Saturday morning.

At one of those meetings a gal said, “I’ll be so glad when I reach my goal, then I won’t have to think about it anymore.

I laughed right out loud.  “Honey,” I said, “You will have to think about it ‘til the day you die.

However, when sweet Cecil came along almost four years ago, I threw all caution to the wind.  I wasn’t aware of it at the time.  I was in love having so much fun.  I just let life happen.  There was the wedding, the honeymoon, Cecil’s illness and death, and my downward spiral into darkness.  Somewhere, during all that, I realized that my clothes didn’t fit anymore.  It didn’t seem to matter so much.

But, I am back!  And it does matter.  This morning, Saturday, I crawled out of bed and went back to meeting.

This time, I have only 38 pounds to lose.  But it won’t be easy, because I am older now and not so active anymore.

How will I do it?  I’ll do it just as I did before.  I am determined to follow the program, be careful and active, and pray a lot.

Anything worth doing whether in day to day life or in our service to God, demands self-discipline, determination, carefulness, and above all, God’s enablement.

I have discovered that it is not always physical weight that slows us down.  Sometimes we are carrying other baggage that keeps us from being our best.

How do you get rid of it?  Pretty much the same way you get rid of the fat.  Follow the program; God’s program, walk with Him (exercise), and carefully to do what’s right.

Hebrews 12:1 – 2 says, “Strip down, start running – and never quit!  No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.  Keep your eyes on Jesus…”

Leviticus 26:  3 – 12, “If you live by my decrees and obediently keep my commandments… I’ll give you my full attention:  I’ll make sure you prosper…I’ll set up my residence in your neighborhood…I’ll stroll through your streets.  I’ll be your God; you’ll be my people.”

THE CLOSER I GET TO JESUS BRIGHTER SHINES THE SUN.

IT WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!