FLYING ABOVE THE CLOUDS

What do you do when inspiration seems to have flown the coop when there is no hint of creativity flitting around in your brain, and you can’t think of any cute, funny stories, nor interesting experiences or life-changing events?  What do you write about?

This is the predicament in which I find myself.

I am afraid, during this summer, I have thought more of myself and my physical needs than I have thought of blogging.  Since my surgery did not relieve the greater part of my pain, I spent my time in and out of doctor’s offices trying to determine the next step—hip surgery.

It’s been a hard summer fraught with anxiety.   Dark clouds, clouds of pain and disappointment, inactivity, boredom, and uncertainty, have hung low obscuring the brightness of life, and yet, this morning I find myself singing my theme song:

“The sun will come out tomorrow.

Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow

There’ll be sun.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow.

You’re only a day away.”

Have you ever flown above the clouds?  I have!  Flying at thirty-five thousand feet the sunshine may be brilliant, while below the plane, a dark, unbroken blanket of clouds stretches as far as the eye can see, and you know that, in that particular local, people are suffering a dark and dreary day.

In a sense, I have been living under a cloud blanket, but wouldn’t you know, just often enough, the clouds have rolled back, and the bright and cheerful sun has shined upon me.

Friends have been wonderful.  On a particularly dark day, when I was trying to figure out how I would take my handicapped sister to her doctor’s appointment, the sun peeked through, and I found myself flying above the clouds.  It was one of those extremely hot Arizona days.  (Anyone can tell you that I am at my worst when I am too hot.)  How in the world could I manage my walker and hold my sister’s hand at the same time? Then a friend stepped in and said, “I’ll help, and he did.  He not only took us to the appointment, but he stayed through the whole ordeal.

In the waiting room, there was such a hubbub—signing in and getting my sister settled. There was no way to remain inconspicuous. Of course, she needed to go to the bathroom, and I couldn’t take her.  I must admit my patience was wearing thin.  Then another ray of sunshine—an employee volunteered to help.

A beautiful little Korean gal came to sit by me.  I am sure she could see my frustration and discomfort.  Taking my hand she asked, “May I pray with you?”  “Of course,” I agreed.  She prayed so beautifully asking God for His comfort, His enablement, and His healing grace.  You must know that at that moment the sun was shining brightly.

My eighty-nine-year-old brother (you would never guess his age) is my brightest ray of sunshine.  He has come to stay with me for a few weeks—to keep me company and to help me out.  I would like to entertain him, but he is taking care of me.  The clouds don’t have a chance while he is here.

Every step of the way there has been someone or something lending wings to lift me above the clouds into the brilliant sunshine.

None of us is immune to cloudy days—to circumstances that disturb our peace, that rob us of our joy, that sometimes threaten the whole of life.  How do we deal with the clouds?

I laughed with joy when I found Psalm 104:3.  “…He makes the clouds His chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.”

            Think of it.  Our Father dwells above the clouds.  In fact, He harnesses the clouds for His own use.

Deuteronomy 33:26 tells us, “There is no one like God…who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in His majesty.”

He rides on the heavens to help you, and the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:6 “He has raised us up together, and made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

With these promises in mind, I cannot allow the clouds to rob me of joy and destroy my peace.  I will instead ride with Him on the wings of the wind and sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, for my God is there to help me.  I WILL FLY ABOVE THE CLOUDS!

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEFINING MOMENTS

 

            One of the most powerful influences in my life was my Mother.  Though not well educated or widely traveled, there was a strength about her that helped shape my life and make me the person I am today.

Though she would not have known the term “defining moment,” marrying at the age of seventeen, giving birth to three babies and losing a her young husband and oldest child, all within the span of six years, created within my Mom a strength and determination that served her well throughout life setting an invaluable example for her offspring.

Looking back on her life now, I am sure my Mother would acknowledge that those particular events brought about fundamental changes that defined, to a great degree, the person she became.

A defining moment is a point in your life when you are forced to make a decision that will change everything.  It will change you, your outlook, and your behavior.

Every life is a series of defining moments that shape and change us—moments that have a huge influence on our development and our choices.  These moments aren’t easy to recognize except in hindsight, but they are the moments that determine who we are and will be—the moments that shape everything that matters to us.

Some of these moments are positive, and some are negative, but that doesn’t matter.  The importance lies in how we respond to them.

This morning, I am looking back on some of those defining moments that made me the  gal I am today, and I am remembering the summer of 1968 and a church family camp in Prescott, Arizona.

I had just finished my eighth year as a public school teacher.  I enjoyed teaching, and I was good at it, but when I dared admit it, there was, deep in the recesses of my heart, a disappointment that could not be quelled.

From my earliest days, I knew that God had a plan for my life.  There was something He wanted me to do, but not knowing what it was or how to find out, I just did what I thought best.  I became a teacher.  After all, I might need to make a living for myself.

I loved my long, leisure summer days apart from my fourth graders, but my determined Mother had another idea.  She suggested it would be nice, if I would take her and some of her friends for a few days to family camp.  I couldn’t say “no.”  So off to Prescott we went.

Little did I know that this was one of God’s defining moments—a life changing moment.

I had not really wanted to go to camp, but the first day on the grounds, Jack, a young man in whom I was greatly interested, showed up.  Camp wasn’t a total waste after all.

After taking my Mom and her friends back to the valley I returned to camp.  God used that return trip to soften me up.  Alone in the car, I thought about Jack.

With tears, I demanded, “Why, God?”  I’m lonely.  Why can’t I have a man like Jack?

It is amazing the things and people God uses to bring us to the place where we can hear his voice.

The camp speaker was a man from Montana.  I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me. Many were blessed by his ministry, but I am totally convinced that God sent Reverend Goodman to Prescott, Arizona just for me.  God does things like that, you know.

After his ministry of the Word, I wept at an old fashioned altar.  Not conscious of praying words, my heart, without restraint, flowed out to God.  He knew the longing, the confusion, the disappointment, the doubt, the fear.

Reverend Goodman prayed with me.  At the nudging of the Holy Spirit, he talked with me telling me things about myself that only God and I knew.  He shared his own ministry experiences encouraging me to open my heart and life to others—to become vulnerable.

I left that camp totally changed.  My life was never again the same.  There is no way to explain it.  It was God’s defining moment.

I had already signed a contract, so I taught one more year before launching into full time ministry—a ministry that was as varied as the colors in a rainbow and extended to many parts of the world.

There is an overwhelming joy in my heart as I remember nearly fifty years of ministry experiences and the lives that have been changed, and I think, “what if I had said no?” How different life would have been!

Among all the decisions I have made in my life, two standout—the moment, when as a child, I decided to follow Jesus, and the moment, as an adult, when I said “yes” to God’s call to service.  Those are the moments that defined my life and made me who I am today.

Your life is a composite of all the decisions you make.  It is all but impossible to make the right decision on your own.  Think of the mistakes and hurts you could avoid, if you had the right counsel—divine counsel.

Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”

Commit yourself and every decision to God.  Let Him define your life.

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT AUDACITY!

I thought I knew the meaning of the word, but just to be sure, I turned to the dictionary.  “AUDACIOUS” means to be daring, adventurous and bold—full of energy and verve.  It is just the opposite of “CIRCUMSPECTION OR PRUDENCE,” which means to be careful or cautious.

In the early days of my ministry, there were those who thought me “audacious,” because I just did what I needed to do—what I believed God wanted me to do.

On a cold, snowy, January day in the early 1980’s, I loaded my little Honda Coupe with dishes, pots and pans, kitchen linens, blankets, and grocery staples and headed south from Brussels toward the country of Spain.  I had been invited to teach the spring semester at our Bible College, in Guadalajara.  I would teach Christian Education and direct the choir.

If you take a look at the map, you will understand why my colleges thought me imprudent.  In fact, they just thought I was “NUTS!”  I must admit that it looked like a long arduous journey.

I poured over the map planning the route I would take.  I was fascinated by the possibility of driving through the tiny Principality of Andorra, a sovereign state in Southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees Mountains, nestled between France and Spain.

It was not necessary to take that route through high, snow-covered mountain passes.  I could have avoided it all together.  But when would I ever have another opportunity to visit the sixth smallest nation, in the world—181 square miles, population 85,000.

I’m glad I did it.   Never will I forget the sight of rugged mountains frosted with shimmering snow, infested with hundreds—thousands of skiers, like wingless angels, swooping down the never-ending slopes.  It was mesmerizing!

At the end of the day, I arrived in Andorra la Villa, the highest capital in Europe, found a hotel for the night, and settled in.  Well, not quite!  How could I go to bed, when there were things and places and people out there that I would never see again?  So, in the dark of early evening, I left my room and mingled with some of the 7,000,000 other tourists that visit Andorra each year.  I found a place to eat and shopped in the duty-free stores, and went to bed satisfied I had made the right decision.

On Saturday morning, I tucked Andorra into my memory trove and resumed my journey driving on to my final destination to begin another glorious adventure in places I had never seen with people I did not know, and events that were yet to be realized.

Now sitting at my computer, writing this blog, I think of all the memorable adventures I have experienced in my nearly fifty years of ministry, and I wonder.  Considering the fact that I was a single woman alone, was I too bold?  Was I careless?  Did I take needless risks?  I am sure there are those who would say “YES!”  However, my answer must be “NO,” for I was just doing what I needed to do, and I loved every minute of it.

Someone has said that the only alternative to risk is to “do nothing.”

Even as a youngster, I couldn’t abide the thought of a nine-five job chained to a desk or bent over a production line doing the same task day after day with only the prospect of a gold watch at the end of the journey.  I can’t imagine having played it safe all these years.

I would have missed the elephant ride at the Taj Mahal, the awesome Treasury building in Petra, a tour of infamous Auschwitz, sleeping in a castle in Toledo, Spain, observing the apes in Gibraltar, and visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.  But those are just the side benefits, for I have shared the excitement of black-eyed children in Calcutta as they heard the story of Jesus.  I have counseled former Muslim women in Tajikistan and seen their joy in a new-found savior.  I have ministered to lively Dutch children and laughed with military kids in Germany.  I have preached to “Lifers” in prison.  I have worshiped with bush people in South Africa.  I have trained young people, in Belgium and Spain, for the ministry, and the list goes on.

Proverbs 26:13 (The Message) “Loafers say, “It’s dangerous out there!  Tigers are prowling the streets!  And then pull the covers back over their heads.”

Ecclesiastes 11:4, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”

I’m glad I didn’t wait for perfect conditions.  I’m glad I didn’t pull the covers back over my head.  I’m glad I did just what I did.  God has been my refuge.  When I decided to follow Him, He gave His angels charge over me to keep me in all my ways.

“Jesus led me all the way, led me step by step each day.

I will tell the saints and angels as I lay my burdens down.

Jesus led me all the way.”

 

I am still here, hale and hearty, with incredible memories that punctuate every day of my life, and I can’t wait to make more memories.

 

The sun will come out tomorrow!

 

 

 

WITH THE FUTURE IN VIEW

In the summer of 1965, more than fifty years ago, I crossed the Atlantic for the first time.  I did it alone, and I did it in style.  Little did I know I was somehow preparing for the future.I was a young public school teacher, who had scarcely been out of her backyard, but once the idea began to foment, no one could talk me out of it.

I was a young public school teacher, who had scarcely been out of her backyard, but once the idea began to foment, no one could talk me out of it.

My older brother, Lincoln, won a Fulbright Scholarship to study Opera in Germany.  He had already lived there for several years and was under contract to a local opera company, so I decided it was time to leave the shores of my native land, and check things out on the other side.

I knew it would take too long to save the necessary funds, and I was getting older by the minute, so I borrowed $1,000.00 from my local bank.  I figured it would be easier to pay it back than to save it.

My ticket, on the S. S. United States, our largest ocean liner, at the time, cost $328.50. That was all inclusive of my cabin, three gourmet meals, daily, for a five-day crossing, tea served on deck morning and afternoon, room service, and entertainment, etc. etc.  I was rich!  I had $671.50 left for my tour of the continent.  Can you imagine?  How far could you go on a $1,000.00 today?

I was scared!  I had never been anywhere alone.  The ship sailed at noon on June 2, so I flew overnight from Phoenix to New York City.  Arriving early in the morning, I claimed my luggage, suffered a wild Taxi ride through the city, and somehow wound up at the right Pier and the right ship.  I remember walking up the gang plank, but I no longer have any idea how I handled the luggage or found my cabin.

In an elegant dining salon, lunch was served as we sailed out of New York Harbor.  I ordered curried chicken.  I had never eaten curried anything, but this was an adventure, so I had to be adventurous.

After lunch, weary from the overnight flight, I crawled into bed to rest.  The sea was quite rough, and the longer I lay there, the more upset my stomach became.  I blamed it on the curry, but actually, I was suffering from seasickness. That was a sad thing to discover on my first day out.  Crossing the North Atlantic in early June can be treacherous.  I knew if I nursed the problem, I would be miserable the whole trip, so I got up, went to a movie and forgot about it.

After navigating the boat train from Le Havre, France to Paris and finding a bus to Orly Airport, I finally arrived in Bielefeld, Germany, where my big brother swept me into his arms with a bear hug.  He was relieved that I had made it.  So was I.

The following weeks were a whirlwind of excitement.  I attended my brother’s opera performances, ate with the opera crowd in quaint little restaurants, tasted, for the first time, octopus, pickled herring, and split pea soup with great chunks of German sausage.  My sister-in-law and I traveled by train to Holland, where we walked the streets of Amsterdam, visiting the Riekes Museum and the home of Anne Frank.  Lincoln took me on a road trip through Germany and Switzerland to view some of the most gorgeous sights in the world.

Lincoln’s father-in-law was director of the “Opera on the Rhine.” It was amazing to sit on the river back and enjoy the music from ages past, as it was performed from a floating stage in the middle of the river.

We toured nine hundred (more or less) beautiful, old cathedrals, where a multitude of religious relics, from the past, were on display.  These bits of bone and earthenware, and even blood were hallowed by the crowds, but I missed the heartfelt, cheerful worship that I was used to.

It is no longer unusual for ordinary people to travel to Europe, so why am I regaling you with my experiences?  For this reason:  Though I didn’t know it at the time, I believe that trip was God ordained, a foretaste of what He had in-store for me.

I knew from childhood that God had a plan and purpose for my life.  So, He started preparing me long before the plan was put in force.  Toward that purpose, during that trip, He taught me some important things about myself.

I discovered that, with His help, I could overcome fear and accomplish my goal.  I found that I was resourceful and able to navigate difficult situations, and I learned that, even alone, I am strong and determined.  I don’t give up easily.  I also became aware of a need for God in Post Christian Europe.

Little did I know that, a decade later, God would send me back to that continent, as one of His ambassadors to the lost and needy.

I am convinced that “things” do not happen randomly in the life of a believer.  God has a purpose for everything.  Those seemingly random events, you are experiencing now, may be God’s way of preparing you for future service.

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Remember, He is always thinking of you using His ways to move you toward His ultimate purpose for your life.

The sun will come out tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

THERE IS A BALM

For millennia, Scientist and Charlatans have offered us remedies for every human ailment-from leeches and bloodletting to present day miracle drugs.Medicine shows were common in the United States in the nineteenth century, especially in the Old West.  “Dr So and So” usually sold patent medicines or “miracle elixirs” sometimes referred to as snake oil, which, it was claimed, had the ability to cure any disease, smooth wrinkles, remove stains, prolong life or cure any number of common ailments.  Alcohol, opium, and cocaine were typical ingredients.  It is easy to understand why people, with no other resources, often fell for this hype.

Every day I see commercials touting the benefits of one drug or another.  Possible side effects are always included-headaches, sore toe, blurred vision, etc., and, “Oh yes!  You might die.”

By the time My Mom came to live with me, at the age of eighty-seven, she possessed a plethora of medications that were “absolutely essential” to her continued health. Each morning I placed her pills beside her breakfast plate. She hated those pills!

While she finished eating, I occupied myself cleaning up the kitchen reminding her repeatedly to take her medication. Coming back to the table, I asked, “Did you take your pills?”

“Yes,” she always replied.

Each night, after I helped her prepare for bed, we prayed together.

One night, she said to me, “I am so miserable.  I lied to you this morning.”  I told you I took all my pills, but I didn’t take those “nasty little Lasix.”

Those “nasty little Lasix” kept her running to the potty all day long.  She figured whatever benefit she was receiving from the medication wasn’t worth the hassle.

I consider myself to be reasonably healthy.  However, I do have an issue with arthritis, and there is the pacemaker, which must be checked bi-monthly because I am totally dependent upon it.  My heart goes into A fib time to time, and so on…        My pantry looks like a pharmacy.  Morning and evening I have a fist full of pills to swallow.  I don’t really mind that so much, but something does concern me.  How do multiple pills designed to do multiple tasks find their way to the proper place once they slide down my throat?  For example:  How does that little yellow rectangle find its way to my thyroid, and how does the white football arrive at the seat of my cholesterol problem?

I am a woman of faith, but I must admit that I have very little faith in the ability of these little pieces of colored chalk to take care of my health issues.  Yet, I follow the doctor’s directions without fail.  I dare not do otherwise.

Fact is, there is no human produced cure-all for our physical needs. You know that!  Sometimes medicine works and sometimes it doesn‘t.  Risk always accompanies any medical procedure.

A certain “Balm of Gilead” is mentioned three times in the Bible as an example of something with healing or soothing powers. This rare, high-quality ointment, used medicinally, was produced in Israel, in the region of Gilead, east of the Jordan River.  Some botanical scholars have concluded that the actual source was a Terebinth tree.

Many medical properties have been attributed to this highly sought after ointment.  As a result, “Balm in Gilead” has come to signify a universal cure in figurative speech.  No wonder it was the most costly product of Palestine.

In Jeremiah 8:22, the prophet mourns for the spiritual condition of the people of Judah.

“Is there no Balm in Gilead, is there no physician there?  Why then is there no recovery for the health of the daughter of my people?”

Jeremiah is saying, “Why doesn’t a doctor come with this healing ointment and bind up the wounds of my people?”

While it is true that there is no cure-all for our physical needs, there is a sure cure for our spiritual wounds.

Just as that fragrant balm drips freely, of its own accord, from the Terebinth, so also does the ointment of God’s grace flow freely from Calvary’s cross.

Jesus, our “great physician,” applies the balm of His grace to our wounded heart and troubled mind and ravished body bringing healing from the inside out.

“There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole. 

  There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.”

If you are suffering today, open your heart to Jesus, Your Great Physician, and allow Him to apply his healing grace to your life.

 

REMEMBER, 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

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

DON’T SUCK ME UP

Lani was our Hakalola girl.  When she was only ten days old, this beautiful, tormented Hawaiian baby, who was addicted to drugs in the womb, became my niece’s foster child.  Because of drugs, her birth parents were not allowed to take her home from the hospital.

Suffering from withdrawal, Lani cried incessantly the first seven months of her life.  However, in those rare moments of peace, that wide, toothless grin wrapped its way around every heart making her an indispensable member of our family, but she wasn’t really ours.

What a beautiful child she was with her chubby cheeks, shiny black eyes and a mass of uncontrollable curls.

When, after 2 ½ years, Lani’s birth parents could not get their act together, my niece and her husband were allowed to adopt this enchanting little girl, bringing her home from Hawaii.  At last, she was really ours.

Doctor’s predicted that she would doubtless be retarded and most certainly behind in her motor skills.  But—they reckoned without an adoring, nurturing family, a stable environment, and the presence of God in her life.  She was running by the time she was nine months old and talking in complete sentences shortly thereafter.

Lani knew from the beginning she was adopted—that she was Hawaiian.  She loved to hear the stories about how her Mommy and Daddy chose her.  Long before she could get her tongue around the word Hawaiian, she coined her own identity.  She was the Hakalola girl!

She used that to her own advantage.  When someone asked, “Why did you do this or why did you do that?  She shrugged her little shoulders and cried, I’m the Hakalola girl.

he was full of fun and mischief the source of much laughter.  One Saturday morning she took a box of dry cereal and filled every window sill across the living room with colorful “Fruit Loops.”

Her Mom, greatly annoyed, scolded her roundly.  Then going to the closet, she took out the “Dust Buster” with the intention of vacuuming up the cereal.

When Lani saw the little vacuum, she hid behind the chair crying, O, Mommy, Mommy don’t suck me up.  Don’t suck me up.  She knew she had done something wrong, and even at her young age, she knew there were consequences.

Being adopted made no difference.  She was loved, provided for, and disciplined in the same manner as her older brother, Marcus, the natural born son, and she was also an equal heir.

Thinking about Lani’s adoption makes me think of my own.  For, I am adopted.  I have been adopted into the family of God.  It is pretty mind blowing to know that I am part of God’s family.  He is my father and I am His heir.  In fact Romans 8:17 says, I am joint heir with God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

I belong to God, and just as Lani was accountable to her adoptive parents, I am accountable to my heavenly father.

During the long years of my relationship with God, I have learned, through His Word, through teaching, and by experience, that God wants me to honor Him.  He has certain standards by which I must live.

Now, I don’t have to do that.  I don’t have to live according to His standards.  I have a free will, but I choose to honor Him.   Yet, I shamefully admit there have been times when I have dishonored God—times when I filled the windowsills of my life with “Fruit Loops.”

In my imagination, I can see God with His little “Dust Buster” cleaning up the mess that I have made, and I want to cry, “I’m sorry Lord.  Don’t suck me up! Don’t suck me up!

You see, I know when I have dishonored God, and I know there are consequences.  So, the indispensable part of my cry is “I am sorry, Lord.”

1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

            Again, in John 14:15, Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

It’s that simple!  When I love Him with all my heart, I will no longer allow those annoying “Fruit Loops” to clutter my life.

Pray with me today King David’s prayer found in Psalm 51:10-12.  “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”

In essence, David is saying, “DON’T SUCK ME UP!  Don’t throw me out with the trash.”

The sun will come out tomorrow

RESURRECTION MORNING

We were always awake and out of bed before the sun came up on Easter morning.  With great anticipation, we donned our new frilly spring dresses and white slippers.  Sometimes there was even a pretty little Easter bonnet.  It was chilly on that late March or April morning, but no one wanted to cover a new dress with sweater or coat.

At the church, we joined a long line of cars making their way out Apache Trail to the butte ten miles east of town.  Arriving in the early dawn, we trudged to the top.  Someone carried a guitar or lugged an accordion.  Looking east toward the Superstition Mountains we viewed with awe the bright crest of the sun as it inched its way up over the hills.

Then the music began.  “Up from the grave, He arose…He arose!  He arose!  Hallelujah! Christ arose.”  Even as a child, I felt my heart swell with joy as we lifted our voices in song after song.

“He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today.

He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.

He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!

You ask me how I know He lives?

He lives within my heart.”

Why in the world would anyone want to trudge to the top of a hill in the dark of a chilly morning?  Couldn’t we sing and pray at church?  No need to get up so early.  No need to expend such energy—

TRUE!  However, I think we just wanted to get as near to heaven as we could on that special day, and we wanted to be there very early as the sun arose for that was when the women came to Jesus’ tomb and found it empty.  On top of that butte, we felt the kiss of heaven as we rejoiced at the truth that Jesus is alive, indeed.  We called them “SUNRISE SERVICES,” those early morning EASTER events.

Our Pastor read the resurrection story from Mark 16:1 – 8, pausing briefly as he read verse 6.  “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  HE IS RISEN!  He is not here.  See the place where they laid Him.”

After prayer, we skipped excitedly down the hill.  We were on our way to Easter breakfast.  A room was reserved for us at the “Feed Bag,” a favorite restaurant in town.  We ate pancakes and eggs.  We exclaimed over the glory of the sunrise and talked about the sweetness of the service.  We laughed and complimented each other on the beauty of our Easter finery.  Then we went to church.

What, more church?  Oh, yes! Easter had just begun.  There would be more singing, more praying, more preaching and more rejoicing.  This was a day of celebration—celebration of the resurrection—celebration of new life—new life in Christ Jesus. Not only was Jesus alive never to die again, but we also were alive, for because Jesus died and rose again, I too, had received the gift of eternal life.

Oh, and don’t forget.  There was a Sunday evening service as well.

From this long expanse of years, I am not trying to spiritualize everything that happened on Easter Sunday, but I must tell you truthfully I do not remember the excitement of Easter baskets and egg hunts, though I love the thought.  I know we colored eggs on Saturday afternoon, and I am sure there was a chocolate bunny or two, yet those things do not occupy a large space in my catalogue of memories.  It’s those early morning events to which my mind always returns at this time of the year.

Now understand.  I am not adverse to the myriad of Easter symbols we have adopted over the years.  I love the fluffy yellow chicks, the beautiful flowers, the cuddly bunnies and the colorful eggs.  However, for the most part these symbols find their roots in paganism, but I have chosen to accept them as symbols of new life and that is what Easter is all about.

Did you know, centuries ago, we celebrated New Year’s Day on March 25, Annunciation Day—the day Angel Gabriel announced to a teenage Galilean girl that she would bear the Christ Child?  That’s the day Jesus became an embryo in Mary’s womb.  That’s the day the promise of new life kindled hope in a darkened world.  No wonder we called it a New Year.

So enjoy your eggs and chocolate bunnies, but remember, the greatest and truest symbol of Easter is an empty tomb, for Jesus is not there.  He has ascended to the Father, and from that throne on high, He still extends the gift of eternal life to those who will receive Him.

THAT’S WHAT EASTER IS ALL ABOUT!!!

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                    

SWINGING ON A STAR… My Little Sister

Two weeks ago I moved my little sister from her home of forty-five years to an Adult Care Home.  Miraculously, she went without a murmur.  Now I am cleaning out her house and getting it ready for sale.  It is a sad, sad time for both of us.

There has been no time to think about my blog, so I have decided to recycle one of my favorites:  “YOU COULD BE SWINGING ON A STAR.”

You will understand that lately, at least emotionally, I haven’t been doing much star swinging.  I have been muddling around in stark, painful reality, but I am reminded continually—God is there.  Even in these circumstances, I can sit with Him “…in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”  I am hanging on to the stars!!!  You can hang on with me.

sisters

 

YOU COULD BE SWINGING ON A STAR

“Would you like to swing on a star

Carry moonbeams home in a jar

And be better off than you are

Or would you rather be a…”

 

Swinging on a Star” was an academy award winning song, in 1944, when WW II was in full swing.  Burke and Van Heusen, song writers for Bing Crosby’s forthcoming movie, “Going My Way,” were told to write a song that amounted to the Ten Commandments with a rhythm section.  The producers wanted to positively influence the viewing audience to a better way of living.  That’s pretty amazing!  Don’t you think?

The premise of the song is that we can be satisfied with who we are never aspiring to be better or to do more.  The cute and entertaining lyrics give us a choice.  We can choose to be like the stubborn, stupid mule, the fat, lazy and extremely rude pig, or the slippery, aimless fish.  Or we can shoot for the stars and become more than we ever dreamed.

Most of us have had and still have dreams, many of them not yet realized.  And, sadly enough, for one reason or another, some of our dreams will never come true.

We dream of establishing families and homes and careers.  We dream of wealth and conquest.  We dream of scaling mountains and sailing seas of writing books and composing songs.

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As a young girl, I dreamed of handsome suitors, and bouffant wedding gowns, of sweet, plump, cooing babies, and a preacher husband with whom I would captivate the multitudes.  I dreamed, also, of becoming a famous writer with a vast following.

In fact, I spent the first half of my life just yearning to be noticed—to feel important.  I wanted to be included, to be one of the “in” crowd—the popular bunch.  I was raised by Godly parents, who did not allow me to participate in many things my peers enjoyed.  Consequently, I sometimes felt that I was on the outside looking in never part of what was really happening.

]Looking back, now, I realize that many of my young dreams, dreams that are common to most little girls, never came true.  A bit of sadness comes with that realization.  Yet, those unfulfilled dreams were replaced with bigger, better almost unimaginable goals.  When you can’t have what you think you want, you don’t give up and do nothing.  You fasten your hopes on something else.  I was taught to be strong and determined, enterprising and energetic.  My Mom was not the “giving up” type, nor am I.

\When that groom and bouffant wedding gown didn’t materialize, I knew I couldn’t sit down and quit, so I concentrated on my education and got on with my life.  I fastened my heart and mind on a new dream—a new hope.

Psalm 39:7 says, “And now, Lord, what do I wait for?  My hope is in you.”

When Christ truly became the center of my life, my hopes and dreams changed.  Being noticed, being important, being in the limelight didn’t matter so much anymore.  I hitched my wagon to the stars and sang the old song, “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord. I’ll be what you want me to be.” And that’s exactly what I did!

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I must tell you that I have been swinging on a star for close to fifty years.  I have never aspired to be an astronaut exploring the far reaches of space, but God has blessed me “…with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Eph. 1:3.

I have never been invited to the White House or Buckingham Palace, but every day I worship at the throne of Almighty God, and I speak daily with The King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I will not be satisfied with the status quo, because, even at the age of eighty with diminished physical strength and glaring family needs, I believe God yet has bigger and better things for me.  I’m excited!!!

Here is the message.  YOU HAVE A CHOICE!  Like the stupid, stubborn mule, you can spend your time kicking and braying at the inequality of life.  You can, like the rude pig, snort around in the slop of this world searching in vain for some satisfying morsel, or like the slippery fish, you can go with the flow aimlessly swimming to and fro eventually snagged by  some fisher’s hook.  Don’t you know?   God has something better for you.

“You can be better than you are.

You could be swinging on a star.”

Eph. 1:3.  “How blessed is God! And what a blessing He is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in Him.”

THE SUN WILL COME 0UT 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