BY DIVINE DESIGN

In a 1956 “I LOVE LUCY” episode, after going to a fashion show of all chic Parisian styles, Lucy decided she must have a Jacque Marcel dress.  Ricky refused and Lucy went on a hunger strike.  After three days Ricky gave in and bought the dress, but when he found that the hunger strike was a hoax, he took the dress back and had another made of burlap potato sacks with a phony Jacque Marcel label.  Lucy, believing it to be authentic, wore it out in public, and of course with T.V. magic the burlap dress became the rage.

It is amazing how the label of a particular designer can bring hundreds if not thousands of dollars for one simple dress, while an identical “knockoff” costs only $79.00.

It is estimated that the global luxury goods market will reach $445 Billion by 2025.  Too rich for me and most others!

My mother did most of the designing when I was growing up.  She saw a little dress at J.C. Penney’s, but it wasn’t just right, and she couldn’t afford it anyway, so she came home and made the desired changes.  Then she stood me in the middle of the floor, and with a newspaper, she cut a pattern to fit me.  She always created a sweet little dress with lace, rickrack or some other embellishment—a dress I adored.  Me?  What did I know at the age of five, or seven, or ten?  I didn’t know the difference between Mama’s design and that of Gucci, Chanel, or Dior.

Actually, I’m kind of like my Mama.  I do some designing of my own.  Invariably, when I buy clothing at the department store, I bring it home and remake it.  The sleeves are not right, I don’t like the collar, it needs to be nipped in at the waist, and so on. 

People ooh and aw over the wonderful creations of Balenciago, Armani, and Prada labeling them as “Divine.”   We use the word divine like an ordinary adjective.  We speak of a divine piece of clothing, or furniture or even a piece of pie.  Yes, the dictionary also defines the word divine as “supremely good, superb, or heavenly—God like.”  To me, the word “Divine” relates only to God.  I have never designed or created anything in my life that was divine.

I do, however, remember trying to design my own life.  From childhood I knew God had a plan for me, but I didn’t know what He wanted, nor did I know how to find out.  So, I made my own plans—according to my own design.  I decided to become a teacher, and I did.  I was good at it, but all the time I was training and teaching, I felt a deep down sadness.  My design was flawed in some way.  At least that’s what I thought.

When God showed me that He wanted me in full time ministry, I was willing, but with a broken heart, I cried buckets full of tears apologizing to God over and over for the time I had wasted just messing with kids.

Guess what!  No time was wasted.  All along, God had been at work directing my life even when I was unaware.  He was the one who prompted me to become a teacher.  He was the one who kept me faithful through those disappointing years for He knew I needed that training and experience in order to accomplish what He had determined I should do.  It was all part of His “DIVINE DESIGN.” 

When I boarded the plan for Brussels, Belgium, on August 25, 1975, all the puzzle pieces slid effortlessly into place.  I was going to Europe, at God’s bidding, to minister the gospel to children in many places and in many ways.  All those years I had been preparing for this without even knowing, but God knew for He had looked deep into my heart and saw the yearning to serve Him.  I would never have accomplished anything without those years of training and experience.  For the next forty years God added pieces to the puzzle and details to His design.  There was never a boring moment following God’s “DIVINE DESIGN,” nor was there ever any regret.

God is the master designer of all ages.  Look around you at His creation.  From nothing God designed and spoke into existence the wonders of this world.  Think what He can make of your life.  You may never be able to afford one of the “Divine” creations of Yves Saint Laurent, but you can enjoy a life designed by God Himself.

In Matthew 4:19, Jesus speaking to His disciples, many of whom were fishermen, said, “…Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 

Jesus echos that invitation to you today.  “Follow me,” He says, “And I will make you…”  He will make you according to His “DIVINE DESIGN.”  It is unique—made just for you.  There is no other like it.  Oh, the roads you will travel, the unexpected experiences that will come your way, and the accomplishments you will realize as you submit to His “DEVINE DESIGN.”  

THINK OF IT!  YOU CAN HAVE THE MASTER DESIGNER’S LABEL ON YOUR LIFE.

TRY IT.  YOU WILL NEVER BE SORRY.

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

THERE IS A GOD IN HEAVEN

I ordinarily start my blog with a story or something that I have experienced.  That experience usually gives me a jumping off place for the nugget of truth that has been bouncing around in my noggin.

However, after listening a bit to news commentators talking about a second presidential impeachment, I find myself sitting here agonizing over the question, “How did our great nation, how did proud America come to such ruin?”  Now, you may think me over dramatic.  You make think me an alarmist, but I am looking at our country with eyes wide open, and what I see is heartbreaking.

How did we arrive at this seemingly insoluble conundrum?  It didn’t happen overnight.  Where did we go astray?

One morning recently, during my devotions, I read the 16th chapter of the book of Ezekiel.  The prophet records for us, in a nutshell, the history of Israel from its inception to its Babylonian captivity and its exile in other nations.  

In Egypt, Israel was likened to an exposed, uncared for infant, whom no one pitied.  She was doomed for destruction, but God looked upon her with kindness and tender affection.  He rescued her from death, saying “Live!”  Through the centuries, He multiplied this straggling band of 70 until they grew into a great kingdom.  

He made a covenant with Israel, and became her God and she His people.  He beautified and adorned her clothing her with fine linen and silk.  He placed a shining crown upon her head, and fed her with abundance.  He raised her from poor beginnings to a place of great reputation and renown, but when Israel had grown to maturity, she forgot that all she had and all she had become was a gift from God.

She grew proud and forgot her humble beginnings.  She looked on her glory as her own.  She recognized and adopted the worship of every heathen nation that offered alliance.  She no longer needed God.

Because of her sin and disobedience, God allowed her to be taken into captivity where she remained for 70 years, while her homeland lay desolate.  Never has she regained her greatness living a troubled existence for centuries.  But, God has not forgotten His covenant with Israel.

Ezekiel 16:60-62, God’s promise to Israel, “Nevertheless I will remember…and I will establish my covenant with you.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.”

I cannot help but draw a very close parallel between the early history of the Nation of Israel and that of our own beloved United States of America.  Think of our humble beginnings. Trying to survive in an uncharted wilderness, we depended upon God, who saw us through those impossible years.  I am convinced of!  It was God who caused us to multiply and prosper and grow into a great nation—a nation of great repute and renown—a nation admired—a world leader.

Why, because we included God in our lives.  He was essential to our daily living.  O, I know that many people did not follow God nor even believe in Him, but for most of the history of this country we lived and judged by Godly standards. Values, society and institutions were largely shaped by Christian and Biblical principles.  Without God there could be no American form of Government, nor an American way of life.

Our founding fathers separated church from state, but they did not separate God from state.  We are the ones who have pushed God to the sideline.  As we grew and prospered, we became proud crediting ourselves for our own success.   Growing proud, we forgot our humble beginnings.  We forgot that all we have and all we have become is a gift from God.

Leaders in our country today would like to erase or rewrite our history, but when we leave God out trouble multiplies and pandemonium reigns.  As He dealt with Israel, when she rejected Him, I believe God is now dealing with us allowing the unheard of, dangerous, destructive uproar in our nation, because of our arrogant disobedience and rejection of Him.

As a language student in Brussels, Belgium many years ago, I mingled with young people from all over the world.  Almost, without exception, those students longed for the day they could immigrate to the USA.  They would have gladly given up their own citizenship to become an American citizen.  I wonder now what people from other nations are thinking of the chaos in which we find ourselves.

I do not know the end result of all of this.  I do not know what will become of America, but I do know God is faithful to those who love, obey, and serve Him faithfully.  As with Israel, He has made a covenant with us.  

In Revelation 2:10 He assures us, “Do not fear any of those things you are about to suffer…Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Hang in there, my friends.  THERE IS A GOD IN HEAVEN and He is still in control.

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!

 

HOW DO YOU “UNBUY” A PUPPY

When I retired more than ten years ago, I wanted three things—a piano, a hot tub, and a puppy.  Shortly after I moved back to Arizona, I bought a piano, and for some reason the hot tub no longer appealed to me, but I never lost my desire for a puppy.  I have always loved dogs, but because I was forever on the go, I settled for loving someone else’s, my brother’s “Snug,” and my sister’s “Petey.”

For ten years now I have, from time to time, seriously considered finding a dog, but just never got around to it.  However, this pandemic, self quarantining, and serious physical problems drastically increased my feelings of aloneness.  I thought how good it would be to have something else in this house that moves and breathes and makes noise—someone to miss me when I am gone and be glad when I come home—someone to love, hold, and cuddle.

So, ten days ago, without a lot of consideration, particularly consideration of my physical limitations, I bought a little eight weeks old black poodle—black with grey and white markings.  He is absolutely gorgeous!  My brother, who is here for the holidays, did nothing to discourage my thoughtless decision.  After buying all the necessary paraphernalia at Pet Smart, we brought our beautiful little black boy home, and reality set in.  TOBI was NOT trained for the Potty Pad, and my Belgian rugs were in peril. His little teeth and claws are sharper than a darner’s needle and I have seven visible wounds to prove it.  Obviously, his owner had not been up front with her information.

My brother, who has fallen in love with this tiny mite, could spend every waking hour cuddling, playing and taking him out for a pee-pee, and I?  I have discovered that I do not move fast enough to scoop him up before he pees or poops on the floor.  When I do take TOBI out I am afraid of falling, and so on.  I have decided that I was out of my mind when I bought this sweet little creature.  My brother and all his help will be gone in a few days.  Then what will I do?  I can’t “UNBUY” him.  He is mine for better or for worse.  Some days I think I can manage him, and some days I am sure that I cannot.

Some decisions are reversible, but let’s face it!  We all, at some time or another, make decisions that we cannot unmake.  There are certain decisions some of us would rewind or delete if we could, but I can’t just throw Tobi out with the garbage.  I can’t ignore him.  He is a little being that needs feeding, loving, and nurture.  So, I have decided I will own my decision, because avoiding bad decisions is not the objective; owning them is.

I will admit that this decision was an emotional one, which came mostly from my heart.  When I saw this tiny black pup, all objectivity escaped me.  I just wanted to scoop him up and take him home, and that’s what I did.

I did not question myself before I decided to decide.  I did not consider the consequences nor think about the worst and best things that could happen.  Never once did I think about the changes this decision would create.

In the moment, it seemed I had made the right call, but now that the impact has set in, I realize that my judgment was cloudy.  Now, I am facing the cold, hard facts. I am not physically able to keep up with energetic little Tobi.  It is difficult to clean up the pee-pee and poop, and taking him out in the middle of the night is doubly difficult.

So!  What to do?  I cried all day yesterday, at the thought of giving him up.  How can I put him in the arms of a stranger?  

After much thought and a sleepless night, I have arrived at a temporary plan.  I will work diligently with his potty training, and teach him to tolerate the leash.  I will enroll him in an obedience training class, and I will be extra, extra careful, when I take him outside.  I should know before long whether or not this plan is working.  If not, I will entrust him to someone who will love him as much as I do.

I will make the best of the situation I have created.  The results are yet to be seen.  The Jury is still out.

Right now, you may be living through the last really bad decision you made.  Don’t beat yourself up over it.  While you can’t go back in time and change your choice, you can face the hard, cold facts, and make the best of the situation you have created.  And, you can make this situation a stepping stone to wiser future decisions.

Luke 14:28 (The Message) says, “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it?  If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish.  Everyone passing by will poke fun at you. ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’”

Good Counsel:  Do some serious thinking before making your decision.  What will be the outcome of your choice?

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

TAKING SHORTCUTS

Don’t you love shortcuts?  At some point in our lives, we have all tried them.  And of course, if one is available, why not?  They are amazing!  Naturally, we want things to be easier, faster and better, but shortcuts don’t guarantee success.

Near the end of a two day drive from Fort Worth, Texas I decided to take a shortcut.  I was only fifty or sixty miles from home, but after covering over one thousand miles, I just wanted to get there.  The sky was dark and rain threatened, so the shortcut sounded like a good idea.  Decision made, I left Interstate 10, and started cross country. Whether or not I missed a turn I do not know, but only a few miles into this adventure, I found myself on an unpaved road.  Not only was it unpaved but it was muddy and full of ruts.  The wind was boisterous, and before I knew it, I was attacked by an army of Tumbleweeds, some of them nearly as high as the car.

Tumbleweeds are plants that flourish in dry regions (Arizona).  Some grow to be more than 6 feet tall.  They are tumbled or blown about by the wind, and where there is one there is a battalion.  Swerving time after time to miss the onslaught, I was fortunate to avoid an accident.  Then the rain came in torrents, and those final miles home took twice as long as the ordinary route.  So much for my shortcut!

In my Home Economics Class in High School, I remember taking other shortcuts.  My Mother had taught me to sew on her old treadle sewing machine when I was eight.  By the time I was a teen, I was making some of my own clothes.  So, I didn’t have time for all the steps required by my sewing teacher nor, I thought, did I need them.  

After cutting out my dress, it was necessary to pin all the seams together, and baste (sew) them by hand before I could sew them on the machine.  I couldn’t be bothered by all that, so I pinned, and sewed, leaving out the basting.  My teacher was very unhappy with me.  Actually my dress turned out beautifully, but not my grade.  By taking a short cut, I forfeited an “A,” and I never did like “B’s.”

Someone has said, “If you take shortcuts, you get cut short.” 

I have come to believe that.  Short cuts may seem profitable in the short term, but there are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going.

Short cuts are human nature.  We painstakingly seek out the shortest route from point A to point Z, without considering the consequences. Then we look for loopholes in order to justify our actions.  We deliberately take actions that can, and ultimately will cause harm to us.  Why are we willing to risk it all to save time?  Can a few minutes or a few hours be that important?  Think of it!  If seven billion people on this earth take short cuts, it’s easy to see why so many bad things happen each day.

We cut corners because it is easy.  “Why make your bed, when no one sees it?”  The belief that we can rely on shortcuts to happiness, joy, rapture, comfort and prosperity leaves a multitude of people, rich or poor, starving spiritually.  For shortcuts not only cause physical harm, but also mental anguish, disruption of life, and family stress.

Someone has said, “All of life is like a dress rehearsal.”  We are all being watched.  The old song says, “There’s an all seeing eye watching you.”  God sees and weighs our actions.  He tests us to see how responsible we really are.  Our lives are a simple conglomerate of all the little things we do each day.  How we do the small things is, inevitably, how we do the big things.

We may risk shortcuts on the job, or in every day chores, but there is no shortcut to a relationship with God or the gift of eternal life with Him.

Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”  

Isaiah 30: 21 tells us, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.”

Matthew 7:13-14 carefully describes the way, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

In His Word, God is saying to us, “No matter how hard you try, your own way will not work.  It will only lead to death.  I show you my way.  When you are tempted to go this way or that way, walk in my way.  The gate is narrow and the way will be difficult, but it leads to life everlasting.  

Don’t look for shortcuts to God.

Be assured.  He will always be there to support and encourage you to make the right choices.

REMEMBER THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

STILL WAITING

 

I believe this is where we left off last week.  I’m still waiting!  

I looked forward to seeing the cardiologist on Monday morning.  I was sure he would have the whole plan for my treatment mapped out.  Because of the seriousness of my condition, he would take care of everything in a couple of days, and life would get back to normal.

NO!  Two more tests are required—another echo and an angiogram.  The doctor said, “We will get it all done in the next few weeks.”

There is a question about whether or not this newer procedure will work in my case.  So I asked, “What if it won’t work for me?  Will you do “open heart” surgery?

“No,” he said.  “At your age, and being overweight, you would never survive that surgery.”

I didn’t like his comments about being overweight, and I wanted to tell him that I can get rid of the extra twenty-five pounds in a few months.  But I cannot get rid of the extra years.

I’ve always wondered how doctors, day after day, could deliver such sad ultimatums to patients without revealing the least bit of emotion.

That left me a bit deflated, and the difficulty of scheduling the new tests only added to the frustration.

I am home now with my thoughts, and there’s no real way to control them.  To begin with, I am thinking that, “Surely the doctor will be able to use this minimally invasive procedure, and we won’t need to worry about anything else.”

Then the “What ifs” began dinging around in my head.  What if they can’t?  What then?  How will they treat this illness?  How long can I live like this?  Pretty serious questions that cannot be ignored!  

I am not afraid to die, but neither do I want to.  I still have many things I need to do and want to do.  However, there is an unspoken demand that crowds my space—a demand that I deal honestly with the future.  I don’t even know when my next appointment is, so how do I deal with a tomorrow that seems lost in a murky fog?

The only way I know to do this is to commit everything to the Lord.  So I prayed and I asked many others to pray with me.  I’m afraid I prayed selfishly.  I prayed that my tests will prove that the surgery is possible and God will enable the surgeon to perform the procedure without hindrance. That is my prayer.  That is what I want, but I do not yet know what God wants.

My favorite Psalm, Psalm 139, assures me that, “…in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” 

Every day of my life is written in God’s book.  He already knows what will happen tomorrow, and I must try to rest in the truth of His plan for my life.  Notice, I said, “Try to.”

My thoughts rattled around jumping back and forth from one thing to another.  Is my business in order?  Have I left proper instructions?  What should I do with this—what shall I do with that?  I even thought about my funeral and who would officiate.  I was a bit surprised with myself, for I have always shied away from such thoughts wanting to believe that I would live forever.  However these thoughts were not dark and morbid, but matter of fact and appropriate for the moment.  Maybe I’m finally growing up!

Eventually, my thoughts turned toward heaven, the place Jesus said He was going to prepare for us.  I wondered just how real heaven is, even to those who call themselves Christians.  I fear that for many heaven has become no more than a fairy tale.

All my life I have heard about heaven.  Sunday school teachers taught it, pastors preached it, people sang about it.  But, until now, we have not experienced it.  Even in the New Testament doubters were questioning the reality of heaven and the coming of Christ. 

In 2 Peter 3:4, they ask, “Where is the promise of His coming?  For…all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.

Perhaps that is the way you feel.  “I keep hearing about it, but nothing changes.” So, because we have not yet experienced heaven, to many, it remains an amazing story that we may or may not believe.  I must admit that it may be difficult to make the leap from this sad, broken, tired world to that eternal city that awaits us.  My advice!  Read the story again in Revelation chapters 21 and 22.  

As you read, understand that heaven is much more than a city with gates of pearl, streets of gold and jeweled foundations.  It is the throne room of All Mighty God.  It is the dwelling place of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is a city illuminated by the glory of God, where night shall never reign.  No more sorrow, no more pain, no more tears.  

I’ve no idea when I will be called from this earthly life, but I know where I am going.  I am going to live and work in that eternal city that Jesus has prepared for me.

2 Peter 3:13, “…we according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

 

SEE YOU THERE!

 

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

THE HAPPIEST WOMAN

At the beginning of the New Year, in 2008, I was told that I must have my Aortic Heart Valve replaced.  I sat across the desk from my doctor as she questioned me concerning symptoms I may or may not have experienced.  My honest answer to each question was “NO!”  I truly was not aware of a problem.  I finally said, “Nothing is wrong with me.”

“Well,” she replied. “We might be able to put it off.”

“NO,” I declared.  “Now that you say it must be done, then it must be done.  I know me.  Every day it is delayed, I will imagine it to be my last day.”  So much for optimism!

I was unhappy to learn that the surgery would be done in Oakland, in the Bay area.  Oakland was a two-hour drive from my home.  I had no friends or acquaintances there, so it promised to be a lonely sojourn.  I did complain to the Lord about it.  I told Him it was ridiculous to go so far, when I could just as easily go to Sacramento thirty-five miles away.

In preparation for the surgery, it was necessary to make a trip to the hospital in Oakland for further tests.  I was ushered into the intake waiting area, where I was given a little cot where I could rest.  A  Doctor came to sit by me.  We talked and laughed together for a moment.  Then she asked how I felt.  I told her that I had been having some indigestion, which was unusual for me.

This lovely lady looked me in the eye, and said, “My dear, you are not going home today.  We are going to find a surgeon and get this done before nightfall.”

Up to that moment, I had been my usual happy, laughing self—joking with everyone, but when I was told that the surgery was eminent, I felt like crying.  “No, no,” I said.  I have no family here.  My niece is coming to be with me for the surgery.  I don’t want to do this alone.”

I was whisked away for an Angiogram that would identify any blockage in the heart that could be taken care of during the surgery.  The doctors doing the procedure were a bunch of cut-ups.  I wasn’t sedated, so we were soon teasing and laughing again.

The surgery was not performed that day, but they wouldn’t let me go home.  They insisted on keeping me overnight as a precaution.

Later in the evening, after I had been taken to my room, the same doctor, who had questioned me earlier, came to see me.  This pretty lady stood by my bed and told me the strangest story.  After all these years I do not remember all the details, but in essence, she said,

“I dreamed that I went to Tibet, and I visited the Dalai Lama.  He was so kind, and he told me many interesting things.  That day I met THE HAPPIEST MAN IN THE WORLD.”

Then, looking me squarely in the eyes, she said, “And today, I have met THE HAPPIEST WOMAN IN THE WORLD.”

In that split second, I knew exactly why it was necessary to have this surgery in Oakland rather than Sacramento surrounded by friends.

God sent me to Oakland for the sake of this Doctor.  You know, God does do things like that.  

Taking the Doctor’s hand in mine, I said, “Let me tell you why I am so happy.”

I had the unequaled privilege of sharing, with this searching woman, the truth of the gospel and my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  

I do not know the outcome of our conversation, for I never saw that doctor again.  However, I was able to lead her to the only source of genuine happiness.

For the most part, I believe, we are totally unaware of the multitude of people who are looking for—longing for some semblance of happiness.  Happiness, for the most part, is fleeting, for it depends upon people, and things, and events.  When people fail and things are gone, happiness evaporates, and we are forced to go looking again.

In Psalm 144:15, King David tells us, “…Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!”   I believe this means that putting God first in my life is the only means to lasting happiness.   People sometimes give their hearts to the Lord, but they never give Him their lives.  Making Him my Master, my Lord means that I give Him control.  I let Him call the shots.  He is in charge.

I do believe that God blesses those who are faithful to Him.  Temporal gifts are a part of happiness, but still the heart and soul of happiness lies in the individual being right with God, and having full possession of Him.  Even if we never have earthly blessings, we have something better.

Charles Spurgeon said, “If we have not the silver of earth, we have the gold of heaven, which is better still.”

An old children’s song says:

Happiness is to know the Savior

Living a life within His favor

Having a change in my behavior

Happiness is the Lord!

Is He the source of your happiness?

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST

Someone has said, “It is not the days in a life, but the life in the days that is important.” Think about that for a moment.

I have always peddled myself as an “Optimistic Octogenarian,” and I believe, for the most part, that is true.  O, am I ever down in the dumps?  Do I ever feel sorry for myself?  Of course I do!  However, I have discovered that it takes far less emotional energy to be happy than to grovel around in self pity.  If I have to vote, I will vote for “happy” every time, and I am all for conserving emotional energy. 

During these strange, long months of virtual isolation, I have had a lot of time to reflect on my life and the way I have lived these almost 85 years.  Now I ask myself, “Have I lived my life to the fullest?”  You know without my saying that, at times I have failed, and I have certainly suffered disappointments.

I grew up knowing that God had a purpose for my life.  I imagined that I would marry a preacher.  I would sing, and iron his shirts, and stand beside him on Sunday morning to shake hands with the parishioners.  I dreamed of wedding gowns and chubby babies, but to my disappointment that did not happen.  What do you do when your dream doesn’t come true?  Life doesn’t come to a standstill, so you do what seems best.  I finished college and taught school, thinking all the time that I was making my own decisions.  However, God knew me, and my desire.  Even when I was unaware, He was in control helping me to gain training and experience that He could use in the ministry He had planned for me in Europe and around the world.

During those early years when I was struggling trying to find my way, God sent a mentor to counsel me.  This man had my number.  Up to that point, I was the center of my universe.  It was all about me, me, and me.  I associated with people who made me feel good about myself not really having time for anyone else.  This godly mentor made me aware of the needy all around me.  He showed me what it meant to be vulnerable, to care about others.  From that moment, my life began to change, and I found myself looking at the world through different lenses.  I began to fall in love with people.  Only then could God use me to make a positive difference in their lives.

These intervening years have been an interesting, exciting, active, sometimes scary, difficult, rewarding, uncertain, blessed, and joyful journey.  I have tried with everything in me to be faithful and obedient to the Lord, and I have been true to who I am standing up for what I believe.

It is not a good idea to compare yourself and your successes or failures to other people, but I can’t help but think of the prophet Elijah.  

James 5:17 tells us, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours…”  In other words, naturally, he was as weak and sinful as we, but Elijah was faithful to God and God used his life to minister to Israel.  I think it is right to say that Elijah lived life to the fullest.

There are three things we must know before we can live a full life.

  1. Know your Creator.  Know Him intimately.  Cultivate a close relationship with Him.

 

John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”  There is no full and abundant life outside of him.

 

 

  • Know how you were created. 

 

 

 Psalm 139:14, “I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well.”  You are unique—one of a kind with different gifts, talents and abilities.  Figure out your spiritual gifts and talents.  Know yourself and be yourself.

 

 

  • Know why you were created.  No one is an accident or mistake.  You were designed for a purpose.  That purpose is not a secret.  

 

 

Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Don’t live your life in blissful ignorance of your purpose.  Anything you do outside your purpose is not your best or fullest life.

This morning I read a story about a 92 year old woman, who has lived her life to the fullest.  Having lost her husband of 70 years, she found it necessary to move into a senior care facility.  Questioned about whether or not she was happy with this big transition, she said, “Whether or not I like something doesn’t depend on how it is arranged.  It depends on how my mind is arranged.  I have a choice.  I can either complain about what I don’t have or be thankful for what I do have.  At my age, each day is a gift.  I’ll focus on each new day and all the happiness I have deposited in my bank account of memories.”

A full life does not necessarily depend upon success, as the world defines it.  It does not require a pocket full of gold, a mansion on the hill or a Rolls Royce.  A full life depends upon my relationship with God, and my willingness to follow His custom designed plan for me.

ARE YOU LIVING YOUR LIFE TO THE FULL?

 

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!

  

 

MONSOON SEASON RECYCLED

Dear friend, 

It is once again, Monsoon season here in the Arizona desert, so I have decided to recycle the blog I wrote at this time last year.   We have seen very little evidence of rainstorms or sand storms during these summer months, but to one degree or another we have all been in the “eye” of a storm for months now.  Just remember that God is our refuge and strength, and a very present help in trouble.

***********

Monsoon season is now underway in Arizona and the rest of the southwest. Arizona monsoons are typically experienced during summertime, July through September.  At this time of the year there is a shift in wind direction bringing a different kind of weather.  Temperatures rise, humidity increases, and winds are high.  Thunderstorms move through the region bringing dust storms, periods of heavy desert rain and flash flooding.

If I understand correctly, storms develop when warm, moisture filled air rises.  As the air rises, it cools and the moisture condenses falling back to earth in the form of rain—hopefully lots of it—or other forms of precipitation.

Storms can come out of nowhere in a hurry.

Many years ago, on a hot summer day, I was driving from Phoenix to Las Angeles through the Mojave Desert.  The sun was shining brightly, the sky was cloudless, and the air conditioner was doing its job.  The drive was a bit boring the barren landscape broken only by an occasional Joshua tree and countless wind turbines, but I was enjoying my brand new 1974 Oldsmobile sedan.

As I neared the Palm Springs area, I noticed that the sky ahead had darkened precipitously.  All of a sudden I found myself in the middle of a storm.  There was no avoiding it.  A rainstorm I might have handled, but this was one of those notorious desert sand storms.  Powerful winds had kicked up the desert sand forming a wall of dust, which blocked out the sun and lowered visibility almost to zero.  I could barely see the road a few feet ahead.  

This storm had appeared out of nowhere in an instant of time.  What was I to do?  The National Weather Service advice is to “seek shelter from dust storms in doors,” or “pull to the side of the road and turn off lights.”  In the middle of the desert, there was no shelter to be had, so I pulled to the side of the road, my only alternative, and waited out the storm, while the swirling, pounding, abrasive sand blasted all the paint off the front end of my new car. 

Dangerous storm conditions can appear suddenly and wreak havoc on everything in sight, and being observant isn’t always enough to avoid disaster.

However, I have discovered that storms do not only originate when the weather is hot, when humidity is high and winds are strong.  Storms do not always have to do with the weather.  Often, storms have to do with life itself.

We all suffer the storms of life.  They originate with a doctor’s devastating diagnosis, a failed marriage, a troubled child, the death of a loved one, or financial disaster.  

On a Saturday morning, I sent my healthy, laughing Cecil away to run errands, and in the emergency room, before nightfall, his impending death was pronounced—a sudden storm out of nowhere!

Darkness descended eclipsing the brightness, and the joy of our three and one-half months of marriage blasting away the beauty of years that were to follow.

Where do you go in that kind of storm?  Do you just pull over to the side of life until it passes by?  Where do you find shelter from such a disaster?  How do you survive the unmitigated pain?

Unlike the Mojave Desert, where there was no shelter, I knew there was shelter in this storm.  So I called on God.  My prayer was one of desperation.  Howling like a banshee I prayed the only words I could find, “Lord, I need you.  Please help me, Lord, please help me.” Yet, in essence, I was praying King David’s prayer from Psalms 32:7 and 17:8.  “You are my hiding place…Keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me under the shadow of your wings.”  God understood completely.  He wrapped me in His great arms becoming my shelter for the weeks, months and even years to come—until the boisterous wind abated.

Perhaps this is Monsoon Season in your life.  This storm was so unexpected, but now you are living in the middle of it.  What do you do? Where do you go?

Psalms 46:1 tells us, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  

In Psalms 31:3 and 61:2-3, David cries, “For you are my rock and my fortress…Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For You have been a shelter for me…”

Face it.  You cannot weather this storm in your own strength.  Run to God!  Take refuge in the rock that is higher and stronger than you, the rock that is higher and stronger than a category 5 Hurricane with winds up to 157 miles per hour, a rock that is higher and stronger than anything that will ever come against you.  Take shelter in Him.  There is life after the storm!

 

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!

 

MAKING HARD DECISIONS

MAKING HARD DECISIONS

All these hours of aloneness have afforded me ample time to think—more than I needed, certainly more than I wanted. 

I am an expert at being alone, but I must admit that this forced situation has become stifling to the point of declaring, “I don’t want to be alone anymore.”

This feeling was triggered partly by a fall I had a few weeks ago.  I was in the guest room retrieving some sewing notions when I tangled my feet in the corner of the bedspread that cascades to the floor.  I fell forward on my knees hitting my chin on Mama’s old wooden rocking chair.  Since having both knees replaced, I can no longer kneel or place pressure on my knees.  They were bruised and swollen, and my chin was cut, and I hurt. I just laid there and cried for about thirty seconds.

Finally, I rolled over and sat up, but I couldn’t get up, so I scooted on my backside across the living room where I reached up and unlocked the front door.  Clutching my phone, I called 911.  Four handsome young firemen were at my door almost immediately.  They came in, helped me up, and determined that I didn’t need any stitches.  I assured them that I am a “tough old gal,” so they laughed and left.

Now, I know what some are thinking.  “Why don’t you have one of those little “thingamajigs” around your neck?  You just press it and someone comes running.”  

I don’t have one of those “thingamajigs” because they are for “old people,” and I am determined not to be old—sheer foolishness on my part. That’s what we call “failure to face reality.”

These times of uninterrupted reflection have forced me to think about my age (I will be eighty-five my next birthday), and the fact that there are some things I can no longer do for myself.  I was also concerned about what to do in case of an emergency.  All kinds of feelings were roiling around in my head, and I found myself asking, “God, how did I wind up like this.  Why am I alone?”

So, I made a decision.  I decided I will sell my house and move to a retirement place where I can live independently in my own apartment.  I can be alone as much as I please, and I can be with other people when I want to.  There will always be someone to eat with, to play with, to talk to, etc.  My brother thought it was a good idea.  I was excited!  I called the facility and waited anxiously for the literature they promised to send.

That literature is what you could call “A WAKIN’ UP MORNING.”  It didn’t take long to wake up to the fact that, at $ 42,000.00 per year, there was no way I could afford such a life unless I am planning to die soon.

I tossed and turned all night trying to figure things out, and then I thought about my cherished little house and how I would hate to give it up, how hard it would be to get rid of most of my belongings and cram into a little one-bedroom apartment.  Actually, I had not really thought through the thing at all.

In the bright light of day, I realized that I had made a decision on the spur of the moment, a decision fueled by emotions and a sense of loneliness.  My decision reflected the desires of my heart at that given moment but considering my situation, it really made no sense.

One day I will have to make such a decision, a decision that will be life-changing, a decision that may be painful.  I want to make that decision while I am still capable, and I will.  I don’t want someone else to determine my future.

However, before I make such a decision, I will do some research thinking through the whole thing thoroughly.  Then, I will consult God, He sees the whole picture past, present, and future.  He has promised to instruct me and teach me in the way I should go.  He assures me that He has His eye upon me, and He will show me what I must do.  I am convinced that He will have the right place for me, and as long as I follow His will, I will enjoy His peace and blessing.

Are you in the throes of decision making today?  Perhaps you have no idea which direction to take.  Ask God for wisdom.  Trust in His promises.  His Word often gives us needed direction.

Psalm 119:105 says, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

2 Peter 1:19 tells us His Word, “…is as a light that shines in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” 

Be encouraged!  He will shine His light into your dark place, and help you make the right decision.

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

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

ONE INEVITABLE EVENT

These are uncertain times!  How often have I heard that phrase in the last few months?  The uncertainty brought about by this Coronavirus, and the rioting in our streets, is extremely troubling, but calling this “uncertain times” is kind of strange, because all times are uncertain.

A friend used to say, “Sometimes life turns square corners,” simply meaning, that for better or for worse, we cannot see what the future holds.  We tend to think, that as long as we can go about our “normal” lives, normalcy will continue forever.  When no major disasters are taking place, we are lulled into thinking the future is certain, but the future is not certain and never has been.

Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”  In trying to make his point about the uncertainty of life he implies that, “Death and taxes are inevitable, unavoidable, and certain to happen.” No way to get around it.  We are all going to die sooner or later, and we have no choice but to pay taxes. Well, I guess we have a choice, BUT!   Some joker has said, “The difference between death and taxes is that death does not get worse every time Congress meets.

We don’t like uncertainty.  We would rather know we are going to suffer something catastrophic than to not know what is coming.  While we, of course, are hesitant to acknowledge it, uncertainty is a natural and unavoidable part of life.  Very little in life is constant or totally certain.  We cannot control everything that happens to us.  Life is unpredictable and can change very quickly.

To cope with uncertainty, we try worrying.  We somehow believe that, if we just agonize over a problem long enough, if we spend enough sleepless nights, if we think through every possibility, if we explore everyone else’s opinion, we will finally find a solution.  Of course, none of this works.  Worrying can’t give us control over uncontrollable events.

Truth is, no matter how we try to plan and prepare for every possible outcome, life will still surprise us.

This Pandemic has been a social game-changer demolishing the best-laid plans of people around the world.  Countless events have been postponed or canceled.  Summer Olympics, Expo 2020, school, sporting events, vacations, weddings, birthday celebrations, and even funerals.  Funeral homes and crematoriums have been so overloaded that normal rituals of death and grieving are all but impossible. 

Literally no one has been exempted from the uncertainty of life. 

The GOP’s plans to hold a traditional large-scale convention, in Charlotte, North Carolina, were canceled due to health concerns.  Now, this all-important convention has been reduced to a one-day event with only 300 delegates in attendance instead of 2,500.

It was necessary for Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter, Beatrice, to reschedule and totally redesign her wedding plans.  She was finally married on July 18, in the chapel at Windsor Castle with 20 close friends and family instead of hundreds of world-famous guests.

You see, no one escapes the uncertainty of life, but it need not defeat us.  We wear ourselves out trying to cope with the many obstacles we face, trying to find answers to unexpected problems, but where do we go when the burden overwhelms us and our inner strength is depleted?  I know of only one source.

Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you.”

I Peter 5:7 also tells us, “Casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you.”

You need not bear your burdens alone. You can depend upon God’s strength and wisdom to help you carry the load.  AND, please know, there is hope for the future—a time when all uncertainty will cease.  There is a great and glorious, unavoidable, inevitable event on the horizon.  

In the epilogue to Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam,” the poet writes these words.  “One God, one law, and element, and one far-off event to which the whole creation moves.”  He is thinking about the brevity of this life and the inevitable end of the world as we know it.  Tennyson reminds us that our uncertain world is moving toward one God-ordained event that will bring history to a close.

We need not fear the future, for one day Jesus is coming back, and for those who love Him, all the turmoil and uncertainty will be over.

He gave us His promise in Revelation 3:11 and 22:20, “Behold! I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”  Again, “…Surely I am coming quickly…”

The fact is no one knows when Christ is coming, but He cautions us in Matthew 24:44 saying, “…You also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Believe it or not!  One of these days, perhaps before long, Christ is going to lift His followers off this embattled planet, and take us away to live with Him forever, in the place He has prepared for us.  ONE INEVITABLE EVENT!  There is no uncertainty about that.

I WANT TO BE READY!

 

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!