We have very little reliable knowledge about Saint Valentine, a third century Roman Catholic Priest upon whose life, the little bit we know of it, we have built a worldwide holiday that will net $19.6 billion dollars this year.  Valentine’s Day is the busiest holiday of the year and ranks fourth in retail sales.

No one is quite sure how this happened.  We do know that the Roman Emperor, Claudius, prohibited young people from marrying, because, in his opinion, single men were better warriors.  They did not have to worry about wives and children, when they went to fight.

Valentine, this soft hearted, sympathetic priest, defied Claudius’ decree by marrying couples secretly.  On February 14, he was beheaded for his infraction of the law, later becoming known as “The Patron Saint of Lovers.”

It wasn’t until the high middle ages, historically associated with courtly love,  that someone came up with the idea of celebrating Saint Valentine and his martyrdom.  O, through the centuries, his death had been celebrated in churches, but this was different.  Now he would be remembered for his kindness and regard for lovers.  Thus was born Valentine’s Day as we know it.

I can’t help but reflect on Valentine Days in the past.  Remember those “beautifully” decorated classroom boxes?  I used lots of lacey, paper doilies and gallons of paste fabricating valentines for my classmates.  It was an exciting day.

In the fifth grade, I was in love.  There was brown eyed, dark haired Ronny and blue eyed, blond haired Keith.  I couldn’t choose, so I just loved them both from afar.  A Valentine from either of them became a treasured possession.

When I was an eighth-grader, I really was in love.  David walked me to school and carried my books.  I dreamed such wonderful dreams about him.  Then he moved away and took the dreams with him.

My church always threw a grand Valentine banquet each year.  The promo declared that the banquet was for everyone—married, unmarried, sweetheart or not.  For years I went hoping they were telling the truth.  However, in spite of the promises, everything was tailor-made for sweethearts.  I finally gave up on Valentine’s Day and Valentine banquets.

A few moments ago, I took a file out of the cabinet here by my desk.  It is marked “Cards to and from Cecil.” The file contains the first, last, and only Valentine that I ever received from my husband.  Cecil’s cards were usually sloppy with sentiment, but this time he chose a cute, funny one.  It says, “You are sweeter than a Pina Colada, more beautiful than a piano sonata, you are the whole enchilada, and I love you because “I just gotta!”  I honestly would have preferred the sloppy, sentimental card, but it would have made me cry today.  However, on a day when I really need to laugh, this card makes me laugh.  God surely must have known.

Cecil and I spent our only Valentine’s Day together on a boat off the coast of Maui.  It was a warm sunshiny day.  A slight breeze whipped up frothy meringue on the edge of the gentle waves.  There was fabulous food and live music.  Mostly, we just sat quietly holding hands and grinning at each other.  Somehow it was noised around that we were newlyweds.  There was a steady stream of people coming to congratulate us, offer a drink, or just a friendly smile.

There is no one here today.  The phone doesn’t ring, and there are no lacey valentines.  But I’m all right.  I have my sweet, goofy memories and the knowledge that I am not truly alone.   For God, who sustains me continually, has promised that He will never leave me nor forsake me, and He is my closest friend—closer than my brother.   In fact, He has promised to be my husband.

Isaiah 54:5, speaking to Israel, says, “For your maker is your husband, The Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.  He is called the God of the whole earth.”  Think of that!

On this day for lovers, God will be to you everything that you are longing for.  If you are alone today, I pray you will remember how very much God loves you.

“Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade,

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry.

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Though stretched from sky to sky.










Growing up poor, in humble surroundings among good, Godly, simple people, you would think that my expectations and ambitions would not rise far above the common.  However, I have learned that it is impossible to know and understand the longings of a human heart.

Regardless of my background, from early years, I longed to be part of the “beautiful people.”  O, I’m not thinking at all of the glitz and glamour of this world, for my life totally revolved around the church, where I spent many of my waking hours.

To me, the “beautiful people,” in the church, were those who sang, and preached, and taught—the ones who were in charge of events, who were elected to office, whose names were well known—those on the platform.

I wanted to be on the platform.  I must admit, my assessment of those “beautiful people” was only skin deep.  I knew nothing of the way they lived life.  I just wanted the same attention they enjoyed.

I am happy to tell you that this longing was tempered through the years, as I learned to be obedient to God, and follow His plan for my life.  It was during those early years of ministry, that I met and fell in love with some of God’s truly “beautiful people.”

I was on temporary assignment to our Bible College in Spain, when I met Trella Hall.  Trella was a spinster—a maiden lady, (I hate that term) in her mid-sixties.  She was a veteran missionary with years of experience in Latin countries.

Though her appearance was pleasant enough, I doubt she would have been considered beautiful.  She certainly would not have passed as fashionable.  She wore cotton house dresses and laced up brogan shoes.  He white hair was pulled back into a knot on the nape of her neck, and the front of it was tortured into narrow finger waves.

Trella was not the president of the college, in fact, I don’t know what her portfolio was, but to my way of thinking, she was the glue that held that school together.

She knew and loved every student aware of his particular situation.  The students knew, and loved, and respected her.   In fact, they “feared” her more than they feared God Himself.  When Trella said “jump,” they jumped.  She lived on the grounds and was readily available in times of need.  Students knew they would always receive a truthful, appropriate response from this dear woman—comforting arms or a stern voice.

I was alone in Spain, and I was lonely.  The missionaries, who were responsible for my being there, were extremely busy and had no time for the fellowship I had anticipated.  What would I have done without Trella?

She opened her arms and her home to a young, inexperienced, “green horn” missionary.  The cups of tea, the conversations, the council, and the comfort are tucked away in my collection of wonderful memories to be unwrapped at odd moments and remembered with pleasure and thankfulness.

During those months in Spain, I began to understand true beauty.  As the truth dawned, I found myself praying, “O, God, I want to be a missionary just like Trella Hall.  I want your love and compassion, and wisdom to flow from me as it flows from her.

In Trella, I met one of God’s genuinely “Beautiful People.”

I learned that I don’t have to be on the platform with people groveling at my feet to be beautiful.   I just have to be genuine—genuinely in love with Jesus—genuinely in love with His ways—genuinely in love with people.  When I am genuine, I open the door for His beauty to shine in and out of my life.  When the beauty of Jesus can be seen in me, then I’m one of the “beautiful people.”  It is not my beauty.  It is His beauty.

In Matthew 23:27, Jesus said, to the Pharisees of His day, “People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.” 

I don’t want to be a fraud!  I want to be beautiful.

The words of this song keep singing over and over in my spirit.

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,

All His wonderful passion and purity.

O, thou spirit divine, all my nature refine,

‘Till the beauty of Jesus is seen in me.” 

This is my daily prayer.

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!










Yesterday, when I opened the mail, I found another bill from my attorney—the attorney I never planned on, and the attorney I never wanted.  I feel like I am caught in a sticky spider’s web with no way to extricate myself.  To say that I am upset puts it mildly.  In fact, I am at my wit’s end.

Last winter, when I finally made the heart-rending decision to request legal guardianship and conservatorship for my younger sister, I had no idea what I was getting into.  I had agonized for months over what to do, while my sister’s illness became progressively and noticeably worse.

She absolutely refused to surrender power of attorney to anyone.  The stack of legal forms glared at me from my desk every time I entered the room.  Finally, I gave up.  I had prayed diligently about the situation until it seemed that the court was the only solution to our dilemma.  So I filed the papers and this weary process began.

The court appointed an attorney for my sister.  Her interests must be protected.  I understood that.  However, I didn’t hire an attorney.  I didn’t need one.  She’s my sister.  I just wanted to take care of her.  Her doctor had attested to her illness, and it would be obvious to any investigator.  Wouldn’t it?

I received a letter from my sister’s attorney stating that his fee was $375.00 per hour.  What?  I foolishly thought that had to do with working hours.  I didn’t know it included every second in the car, waiting for red lights and stopping for gas, every moment on the phone, every e-mail written and read, every stamp licked, and waiting for tardy judges.

Then he called me.  Being the nitwit that I am, laughing, I asked if I could fire him.  He immediately took offense.  We were enemies from the get-go.

“No,” he said.  “I am Mary’s attorney. I am here to protect her.” HA!

Armed with the investigator’s report and the doctor’s letter attesting to my sister’s illness, I went confidently to court assured that my request would be granted.  How naïve!

The attorney told the judge that I wanted to fire him because I didn’t want to spend any money on the case.  My sister told the judge that she did not want me to be her guardian.  The judge continued the case for another month and appointed a Guardian ad Litem.  He only charges $325.00 per hour.  The legal fees began to mount.

I was in over my head.  I had to hire myself an attorney.  Through my church, I found a good and kind man.  He only charges $350.00 per hour, and his paralegal $160.00.  I think I’m in the wrong business.

Mary’s attorney insisted that her house be put in reserve.  I couldn’t sell it without court approval.  One more complication!  More hours to bill!

My attorney was a likable man, easy to talk to.  When we met together, I had to remind myself that I wasn’t there to chitchat.  The clock was ticking and the fee was mounting.

The court was so overscheduled that it was never on time.  If our fifteen-minute session was set for 9:30, we waited at least an hour or more.  I was paying for that wasted time.

On March 10, I finally became my sister’s legal guardian, but this thing was far from over.  Though I had a good cash offer on the house, everything had to be approved by the attorneys.  One final, fifteen minute, court hearing, the end of August, brought the judge’s approval.  I paid my attorney over $900.00 for that hearing.  The judge was late again.

Yesterday, I received, what I hope is, the final bill from my lawyer.  In the last nine months, my sister and I have paid in excess of $25,000.00 in legal fees.  I have decided that judges and lawyers are not really interested in the welfare of their clients as much as they are interested in red tape and a fat wallet.  When I first met my attorney, he warned me that probate lawyers are known to put their clients in the poor house, before they are finished.  I believe him.

This afternoon I e-mailed my paralegal, and said, “Please don’t do anymore work for me unless or until I ask you.

During this process, I have discovered that hundreds of thousands of families face this same heartbreaking situation.

You cannot believe T.V. commercials that portray all Alzheimer’s or Dementia victims as sweet, docile, vague little people.  I have read hundreds of stories on the internet from families who are struggling with the same problems I have faced this year.  That loved one is uncooperative and at times combative.

“We don’t know what to do,” is the common refrain.

Let me tell you, “As much as I have hated it—as hard and as expensive as it has been, I believe I did the best and only thing I could do.”  As reluctant as you may be, going to court may be your only alternative.   For the good of your loved one, prop up your courage and make the move.  It won’t be easy, but it will insure his safety and well being.

It is a comfort to know that I have not been alone during this arduous journey.  I have taken King Solomon’s advice recorded in Proverbs 3:5-6.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear…”  WHAT MARVELOUS ASSURANCE!


Remember the sun will come out tomorrow!




There’s just something about him—about her.”  There is an air about her—an aura.  It’s his dignified manner—her carriage, her conduct.  He makes a striking impression.  There is a presence about him.”

Have you ever heard that said about another person, or perhaps thought it yourself?

When I was young in the ministry, I worked for awhile with an older woman who was also engaged in children’s ministry.  I loved being in the presence of that woman.  Though I couldn’t have told you what, there was just something about her.

Most of us are, to one degree or another, hero worshippers.  Some wallow in ecstasy at the performance of this or that rock band.  Others worship at Hollywood’s altar.  In King Elvis’ day, girls often swooned or fainted in his presence, and I?  I have always been enthralled with royalty.  Those little pink-cheeked, royal princes and princesses turn my heart to mush.

When you consider that I started in a cotton patch, you may understand why fairy tale royalty captured my imagination.

On a number of occasions, I have stood before Buckingham Palace looking through the gilded iron bars hoping to spy someone at a window or on the royal balcony.  I always went away disappointed, for poker-faced, statuesque, motionless guards belied any idea of gaining entrance to that auspicious place.

I have had the privilege of visiting Balmoral Castle and Holyrood Palace in Scotland, but I wasn’t invited in there, either.

On Easter Sunday, 1984, I drove through the English countryside to Windsor Castle.  My Niece and her family were with me.  The Queen’s flag flew high over the ramparts testifying to the fact that she was in residence.  As a show of magnanimity and kindness, Elizabeth had opened her royal gardens to the public.   We were allowed to walk among the fragrant flowers and shrubbery.  With abandon, my five-year-old nephew, set free from hours cooped up in the car and imprisoned in a hotel room, turned somersaults down the garden pathway.

I stared intently at the castle hoping to see Queen Elizabeth peering out the window watching Marcus’ antics.  It didn’t happen.  I didn’t see her.  I didn’t speak with her.  I did not shake her hand.

Belgian Royalty was a bit more casual than that of England.  On occasion, our heavily guarded queen and her “ladies in waiting” were seen shopping at “Bon Marche.”

On July 21, Belgian Independence Day, soldiers marched and tanks rolled by and the king and queen, in a top-down convertible, smiled and waved energetically to their admiring subjects.  I stood with the crowds one year and thrilled at the sight of the monarchs.  It all seemed so informal.  However, I knew, if I took one step beyond the barrier, alarms would sound and I would be apprehended.

In actuality, Royalty is distant, unavailable, and inaccessible.  The common man cannot come within a country mile of the rulers of this world.

A royal invitation or summons is the only hope of an audience with the queen.

A couple of weeks ago my pastor preached about the necessity of the presence of God in my life.  I’ve been thinking about that.

I will never receive an invitation to share a cup of tea with Queen Elizabeth in the drawing room at Buckingham Palace.  I will never be summoned for an audience with our president in the Oval office at the White House.

BUT—everyday I enter freely into the courtroom of the KING OF KINGS—THE KING OF THE AGES.  Guess what!  I come at His invitation.

Hebrews 4:6 tells us to “…come boldly to the throne of grace…His throne…that we may have mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

I have discovered that I must have the presence of God in my life, for He is my source of strength—my source of joy.  He is my life.

Psalm 16:11, “…In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Again we are told in Acts 2:28 “You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.”

The presence of God can be a constant in your life, for the psalmist says, in 140:13, “…The upright shall dwell in Your presence.”

THINK ABOUT!  We are invited.  We have free access into His courtroom.  We may live continually in His presence.  No barricades, no royal guards, no secret service men can bar our entrance.

The sun will come out tomorrow!



 My niece, Paula, was the daughter I never had.  In every issue, I wanted to be on her side.  Even when she was grown and married with her own children, I looked out for her.  I didn’t like it when the kids were sassy or disobedient toward her.

One day her little daughter said to me, “Aunt Faye, you are always on Mama’s side.”

I didn’t know it was so obvious, but she was right.

We all need an ally.

I remember when I first heard that word, “ally.”  It was during the Second World War, and I was in the third grade.  Even eight-year-olds knew that a terrible conflict was raging in our world.  I was especially aware because I had three big brothers fighting overseas.

My teacher explained to us that our country, The United States of America, had some help fighting the war.  We were not alone.  There were other countries, on our side.  We needed their help to win. Those countries were our allies and we were theirs.  We were a team.

I also remember VE Day, Victory in Europe, and VJ Day, Victory in Japan.  The dark days of war were over.  There was rejoicing in the streets.  We won with our allies.

We all face dark and worrisome times in everyday life.  You may, even now, be confronting a desperate situation.  You feel like you are standing alone—there is no ally in sight.  These past few months have been some of the most difficult of my life, and they are not yet over.  I have dealt with legal problems for which I had no preparation—I have made decisions for which I was ill-equipped.  At times I have felt utterly alone knowing that there was not another human being who really knew what was going on, and yet I had an ALLY.

I HAD AN ALLY!  I turned to Psalm 124.

Psalm 124 is a song of praise written by King David in celebration of his triumphal return to Jerusalem after his son Absalom tried to usurp the throne.

In Psalm 124:1-3, David said, “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may Israel say. If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us…they would have swallowed us up alive;”

In the year 1582, this psalm was sung on a remarkable occasion in Edinburgh, Scotland. A Scottish preacher had been wrongfully accused and imprisoned by enemies of the Gospel.  On the day John Durie was set free, he was met outside the prison and welcomed by two hundred of his friends.  The number increased until he found himself thronged by a company of two thousand, who began to sing, as they marched up High Street.  The words of the old song rang out as they solemnly sang, in four parts, all joining in the well-known tune and psalm—“Now Israel may say, if it had not been the Lord who was on our side…”

As they sang, they were deeply moved, and so were all who heard.  It is said that the man who was chiefly responsible for the preacher’s wrongful imprisonment, was more alarmed by the song and the sight of the marching believers than anything he had ever seen in Scotland.

So!  Does the Lord take sides?  Absolutely!  He was on John Durie’s side and He is on your side.  HE IS YOUR ALLY!

If you are one of His, God the Father is on your side.  He loves you. You belong to Him.  You are as dear to Him as the apple of his eye.  In turbulent times, He is your peace.  In trials, He is your strong arm.  He supplies your needs, keeps you by His power, and saves you from your enemies.  You have nothing to fear from any quarter.

“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side…”  But He is.  There are no “ifs, ands, or buts about it.  He is on our side.

David ends this psalm by saying in verse 8, “Our help is in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

He has not fashioned a few little things alone, but out of nothing and with the aid of nothing, He made all that now is.  All heaven and the whole earth are the works of His hands.  If He can do all this, surely He can care for me.  As long as I can see heaven and earth I will not be afraid.  My present help and future hope is in the name of the Lord.

Remember, HE IS YOUR ALLY, and…


The sun will come out tomorrow!



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









 When I finished my Masters Degree in Education, I forged ahead determined to earn a Doctorate in Counseling.  I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in the classroom with eight and nine year olds.  I smile, when I look back on my years as an elementary teacher, for I realize that those years were probably one of the funnest most carefree times of my life.

In any case, I took the first step toward my doctorate enrolling in two classes.  I do not remember one of the courses, but the other I shall never forget.  “Analysis of the Individual” was my undoing.  Oh, the course was interesting enough, but it was also extremely troubling to me.  I lay awake, night after night trying to analyze myself—trying to figure out “who is this gal, whom people call Fayrene.”  I had no clear cut feeling of self or an image of who I really was.  I was an American.  I was my parents’ daughter, my brother’s sibling, an alto in the choir, part of a church family, and a student at the university. I was defined by my relationship with others.  I was almost sure there ought to be something more.

I completed the six hours of study.  I acquired a lot of information.  I learned about Aggression, Anxiety disorders, Defense mechanisms, Co-dependency, Denial, and Depression, but I still didn’t understand me.  So, I threw up my hands and quit.  How in the world could I hope to help other people, if I couldn’t even figure out who “I am?”  Somehow I think that this world would heave a sigh of relief, knowing that I gave up.

As it turns out, I didn’t really need a Doctor’s Degree. God had other things in mind for me, and as I submitted to His will, I began, bit by bit, to find out “Who I am.”

As I followed in Christ’s footsteps, as I read His word and listened to His voice, as I obeyed Him, as I served Him, the image of the real Fayrene Clark-Reese began to emerge.  However, I must tell you that after eighty-one years, that image is not yet complete.  For I firmly believe that every day I live, until He calls me home, I will understand more clearly who I am in Him.

This traumatic time with my sister has revealed to me some things I did not know about myself.  I think I am kinder and more patient than I imagined, and there is a tenderness I didn’t know I had.  I have been accused of being co-dependent, and to a degree, I believe that is true.  I have taken care of my sister so long trying my best to meet every demand, and now that someone else is caring for her, there is a void in my life.  Yes, I am relieved!  No more calls in the middle of the night, no more need to find a plumber or an electrician, no more defending myself for whatever imagined offense.  However, I discover that I need to be needed, and I am not sure that strangers can care for her as well as I can, but I have also made a happier, healthier discovery.  I am certainly willing to give them a chance.  Maybe I’m not so far gone as one might think.

In these eighty-one years, I have learned a lot of things about me.  Let me tell you who I am.

I am independent, opinionated, and outspoken.  I am fairly intelligent and not bad looking.   I am a good organizer, and I love being in charge of things.  I am a self-starter—no one has to beg me to do what needs to be done.  I don’t mind hard work.

Communication is one of my gifts—teaching and preaching is a joy.  I love being on stage.  The bigger the audience the better I am,

I love people. I love beautiful things. I love travel. I love dogs.  I love my family, I love to sing, and I love being alone on Saturday without a thing to do.

I am an optimist.  I usually look on the sunny side of life.

This is my personal opinion about me, but God’s standard about who I am reigns supreme.  Listen to what HE says about me.

I am His adopted child—loved and forgiven.  I am a new creature in Christ Jesus.  I am the apple of His eye.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made—His handiwork—His masterpiece.

I am accepted in the beloved.  I am the righteousness of God.  I am beautiful, precious, and complete in Him.

WOW!!!  That’s who I am.

However, God is not yet finished with me.  Nor is He finished with you.  He has a plan and purpose for our future whether here on earth or with Him in eternity.

1 John 3:2.  “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

That will be our moment of completion.  We will have realized God’s ultimate purpose for our life.  WE WILL BE LIKE HIM!
Until that day, remember—

The sun will come out tomorrow!




It’s easy to write about love, talk about love, and read about love, but the time comes, sooner or later, when we are called upon to demonstrate that love in a tangible way.  Love, sometimes, becomes a backbreaking, emotionally painful, tiring, and tedious job.

On March 1, after forty-five years in the same home, my sister moved to a lovely assisted living residence.  The next day I went back to the house she had vacated.  It was sad and lonely without her, and it was a total disaster—like a war zone.

Having been ill for more than a year the house had been sorely neglected.  Now it was my job to get it ready to put on the market.  I had no idea where to begin, so I decided to begin with her bedroom, where she had not slept in years.  She could no longer manage clothes hangers, consequently, her clothes were in piles on the bed and in the floor—old ones, new ones, dirty ones, and clean ones.  That’s where I began.  For the next two and one half weeks I sorted, gave away, threw away, and packed up forty-five years of my sister’s life.

Finally, on Friday, I picked up the phone and called my brother in Fort Worth.

“Where are you,” I cried.  “She’s your sister, too.  I can’t do this by myself.”

This preacher brother of mine farmed out his puppy, and boarded a plane for Phoenix.  He came with a suitcase full of work clothes.  Every morning he is up before I am, ready to tackle another day of daunting work.  Finally drawers, cupboards and closets are empty, and it is time to clean, and clean we have done.  I had forgotten the color of the kitchen floor and the bathroom fixtures.

You may ask, “Why didn’t you just hire the work done?”

I could have, but, in deference to my sister, I didn’t want anyone to see how she had been living.


I am proud of us—this 81-year-old sister and 87-year-old brother team.  We are quite a duo, and I have learned something about myself.

One of Webster’s definitions of love is, “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.”

In the middle of the night, when sleep eludes me and a million thoughts about what must be done tomorrow invade my mind, I have discovered that I do not resent this backbreaking, sorrowful task that has fallen to my lot.  I am not angry with my sister for making such a mess.  I do not feel sorry for myself, because this responsibility looms so large that I cannot sleep.  I do not find myself whining and complaining about what might have been.

I thought I assumed this difficult task because I had no choice.  However, as I worked alone day after day, I had plenty of time to think, and I rediscovered that I DO LOVE MY SISTER.  I have always loved my sister, but somehow this undertaking demonstrates it in a bigger way than anything I have ever done.   This may be the most unselfish moment in my life.

My baby sister’s blue eyes are faded now.  Her uncontrollable curls are gone and her hair has thinned.  She asks the same questions over and over, and is not sure of the day of the week.  Yesterday we had a pedicure and painted her toenails bright pink.   She kissed me “goodbye,” when I took her back to her pretty room.

I am glad and humbled to love my sister in this manner.

Emily Dickinson said of this kind of backbreaking, emotionally painful, tiring, tedious love, that it is, “The solemnest of industries enacted upon earth.”

Now, I truly know what “LABOR OF LOVE” means.

Last week, while I was working, my sister’s neighbor came to the door.  She is a rather crude, officious woman.  She came declaring her love for my sister.

“My sister was afraid of you,” I said.

“Oh, I know,” she laughed.  That’s what made it so much fun.”

Love is a word that rolls easily off our tongues.  We readily declare our love for each other.  We stand at the altar and vow our fidelity, “Until death do us part,” but when the going gets rough, “love” discovered for what it really is—an emotion without commitment, sometimes evaporates.

Love without commitment is not love at all!  Love that does not endure to the end is not love at all.

John 13:1 tells us that  “…having loved His own who were in the world…” Jesus, “… loved them to the end.”

It was love for you and me that took Jesus to the cross.  He didn’t quit when He was arrested, beaten, and spit upon.  He didn’t quit when he was nailed to the cross.  He loved us to the end.  He loves us still.




The Apostle Paul, writing to the Hebrews about that peculiar kind of love that Christians have for each other said, “Let brotherly love continue.”

In keeping with Paul’s admonition concerning Christian love, I want to latch onto the coattails of last week’s blog and examine another characteristic of this unique love.

“…love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have…” I Corinthians 13:4.  (The Message)

The New King James says, “…love does not envy…”

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I was amazed to find that the word “envy” encompasses a broad spectrum of negative emotions that crop up in our relationships.

ENVY is that resentful desire for the same thing that someone else enjoys.  Envy also speaks of MALICE—the desire to see another suffer. (It serves him right!)  Then, there is the holding of a GRUDGE—a deep seated resentment toward another, and Jealousy is an intolerance of a rival—suspicious and distrustful.  PIQUE is also implied simply meaning to purposely arouse anger and resentment.

That’s a pretty ugly picture, isn’t it?  We declare that we love one another, and yet we fall easily into these traps of resentment, of jealousy, of suspicion.

When I was a little girl, Mama took me and my sister shopping just before Easter.  We went to the local Woolworth, five and dime store.  There displayed in row after row were the most gorgeous Easter Baskets all dressed up in colored cellophane and big puffy bows.  Mama was there to buy buttons or some such thing not realizing the temptation that awaited us.

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My little sister stopped dead in her tracks in the aisle and said, “I want that one.” Even now it hurts to remember that Mama couldn’t buy it.  When every penny counts, even a little bit is too much.  There was no way to explain that to a child, and the tears flowed freely.

As adults, we sometimes behave in the same way wanting things we cannot have.

When I finished my missionary assignment in Europe and returned to the good old USA, I was determined to buy a house.  I wanted to live like real people.  I guess you could call that “envy.”  I drove up and down the streets near our church—streets lined with beautiful, old custom built homes.  I didn’t hate the people who could afford to live in those houses.  I just wanted what they had.  I wept knowing there was no way I could buy one with my income. The longing was like a physical pain.  Only when I surrendered that desire to the Lord was I able to rent a lovely apartment, and live happily in it for eighteen years.

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“Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.”  I find that really hard in a world where we are constantly bombarded by a plethora of available things.  The shopping networks offer easy pay.  It only costs $11.00 a month for the next @#$%^& months.  I must admit that I am tempted by the advertisements for walk-in bath tubs.  At my age, that would be a sheer pleasure.  Then I read the fine print.  You pay only $50.00 a month for the next nine hundred years.

In my first job as a school teacher back in 1960, I received a salary of $280.00 a month. My rent was $80.00 and I had a $50.00 car payment.  Oh, for the good old days.

One day I answered the door to a pots and pans salesman, who was determined to sell me his wares.  Foolishly, I allowed him in.  He made a beeline for my little kitchen and began to examine my cookware.  My Mom had given me what she could—a cast iron skillet, a couple of mismatched sauce pans, a muffin tin and a cookie sheet.  For some reason this intruder found that hilarious.  Yes, he talked me into buying an expensive set of cookware that came with a free set of “fine” china.  Did I want it?  Yes!  Was it a wise thing to do?  No, and I knew it before I finished signing the contract.

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“I’ve changed my mind,” I said.  “I can’t afford this” The salesman reached across the table and picked up the contract.  “Please tear it up,” I pleaded.  He laughed and said, “Your merchandise will arrive within the week.”

When it arrived, I loaded it in the car and took it to the freight office, and sent the pots and “fine” china back to the company C.O.D.—cash on demand.  I knew I couldn’t afford it.

How does wanting things we do not have relate to our Christian love for each other?  I believe our unfulfilled desires rob us of contentment causing resentment, which in turn affects our attitude toward life in general and fellow believers in particular.

In Philippians 4:11, the Apostle Paul says, “…I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”


Remember—the sun will come out tomorrow











I Corinthians chapter thirteen is a glorious hymn of praise in honor of Christian love.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul, from a heart burning with the love of Christ, eloquently expressed the characteristics of this special kind of love.   He tells us that it is absolutely necessary—it is eternal, and it is greater than anything else.

I just finished reading this chapter both in the New King James and in The Message.  I am captured by the poetry of Brother Paul, but at the same time, I am appreciative of the plain forthrightness of The Message.

In verse 1, the New King James says, “Love suffers long and is kind…” 

The Message puts it this way.  “Love never gives up.  Love cares more for others than for self…”

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I have experienced that kind of love, first from my mother, then from God.  God has always loved me, of course, even before I was formed in my mother’s womb.  But, I was aware of Mama’s love first of all.

Mama was the strongest woman I have ever known.  I believe her strength came from her suffering, for regardless of pain and sorrow she flexed her spiritual muscles, and determined never to give up.

At the age of twenty—one, Mama lost her firstborn.  Baby Levi, just shy of his third birthday, succumbed to infantile paralysis, and two year later she laid her young husband of six years to rest.  She went to work, chopping cotton, sewing, cleaning, and doing laundry—anything to take care of her two remaining babies.

Mama always cared more for others, especially her family, than for herself.  I know there were times she did without, in order that we have the necessities.

When I graduated from high school, I wanted so much to go away to Bible College, but there was no money, so I went to work.  Hour after hour, day after day, I sewed pockets on pajamas for Sears.  BORING!  I was guaranteed $ .75 per hour, but I was fast—I was good.  I could do twice my quota, so I made $60.00 a week.

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From that $60.00, I gave my parents $15.00 to help with expenses and I paid my tithes.  I saved $1,000.00 that year, and in September, I boarded a Grey Hound bus and zoomed off to Waxahachie, Texas.  After two years, my $1,000.00 was more than used up, and end of term, I came home owing a school bill.

I tried all summer to get a job, but nothing was available, and I couldn’t go back until my debt was paid.  However, I kept preparing for my return hoping that a miracle would happen.

One morning, My Mom disappeared and was gone for a couple of hours.  No one knew that she had walked to the bank.

She went to the bank to ask for a loan.  She had no collateral except our old house, and I know she wouldn’t risk our home.  On her good name alone, think of that, she borrowed enough money to pay my debt and to get me started on a new term.

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She put her arms around me and, with tears in her eyes, said, “Pack your bags, you’re going back to school.”

 I have no idea how my mother ever paid back that loan.  I know that it took a sizable chunk out of my parent’s limited income.  Again she had proven her love caring more for others than for self.

My older brother started preaching as a nineteen-year-old evangelist, but he had no money and no way to get to his first revival.  Mama sent him $50.00 from the cotton she picked or the houses she cleaned.  In 1949, $50.00 was a fortune.

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My brother preached and is still preaching, for sixty-eight years, and I served in active ministry for nearly fifty years largely due to My Mother’s godly love.  No doubt, my Mom will share in any reward we receive.

That’s the kind of love the Apostle Paul was talking about.

Now I am thinking of another debt I owed.  The song says,

“He paid a debt He did not owe.

I owed a debt I could not pay.

I needed someone to wash my sins away.

And now I sing a brand new song: “Amazing Grace.”

Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.”

When I started teaching school, I determined to send my Mama $50.00 a month for the sacrifice she had made.  I did that long after the debt had been paid.  In a sense, I paid her back, but she didn’t ask for it.  She didn’t expect it.  She did it because she loved me.

There is no way I can pay Jesus back for loving me more than He loved His very life, but I can follow His example.  I can quit pampering myself and allow His love to flow through me to a needy neighbor, a family member, a suffering world.

The sun will come out tomorrow