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 the seas of writing books and composing songs.

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.

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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 was I.

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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!

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!!!

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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 OUT TOMORROW!!!

Today’s images are by Marcia Furman a whimsical and fragrant artist check her links out here!  

           

IT’S TOO MUCH, LORD

Three years ago today my sweet Cecil went home to be with the Lord.  The two years following his death were filled with darkness and devastation, BUT GOD… but God, in His tender mercy, lifted me up and out of that deep chasm of sorrow that virtually ended life as I had known it.  I can sing again.  I can laugh again.  I am my old, ornery self again, and life goes on.

This morning I watched and listened to a recording of Cecil and me singing the song we sang at our wedding – “TAKE MY LIFE AND LET IT BE CONSECRATED, LORD, TO THEE.”  Cecil never could remember the words so we laughed more than we sang.  At the end of the song, he leaned over and kissed me.  When I drew back, he said softly, “I wasn’t finished yet.”

Now, I think, “I wasn’t finished either.”

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Hardly a moment passes that I don’t think of Cecil and the brief, lovely time we had together.  I suppose a tinge of sorrow will always accompany my thoughts of him, BUT GOD…

Aren’t you glad you can say, “BUT GOD?”  “This sad thing happened, BUT GOD!”  I was in need, BUT GOD!”  God surely makes all the difference.

The three years since Cecil’s death have been difficult years for my family.  My brother’s wife of sixty-six years died after a lengthy struggle with Alzheimer’s.  Last spring, my oldest brother, Lincoln died of Cancer.  My younger sister has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and is fighting that reality, and my darling niece – the daughter I never had – is suffering from a degenerative brain disease that has robbed her of all motor skills including speech and sight.

IT’S TOO MUCH, LORD! 

Sorrow piled upon sorrow, pain upon pain.  How do we handle this?  How do we slog through this quagmire of grief?  Will this terrible reality of life completely consume me?

IT’S TOO MUCH, LORD!

I don’t mind telling Him that.  He knows me well.

I have always thought of my life as a jigsaw puzzle designed by the Master Puzzle Maker.  He is really the only one who can put this puzzle together.  He is the only one who knows where the pieces fit.

I look back on my life at all the random pieces that seemed to make no sense at the time and know that my Maker knew exactly where to fit each piece into his design for me.

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Working on a puzzle may be fun, as long as you are putting together the flowers and the birds, and the puppy dogs, but what do you do with those dark, indistinguishable pieces.  They have no beauty, and they have no form of their own.  However, once we find a place for them, we see that the darkness enhances the brightness of the sun and accentuates the beauty of the flowers.  In fact, the scene is not complete without the darkness.

Looking at life from an eighty years perspective, I see a beautiful picture emerging as God puts all the pieces, both lovely and dark, into His design.  Of course, the picture of my life is not yet complete.  There will be more gladness.  There will be more sadness.

Bill Gaither sings about how God took all my confusion and brokenness and made something beautiful of my life.

Truth is, in spite of the dark times, I have had an incredible life. Yes, there may be more sadness.  That is almost certain in this messed up world, but the master designer has made my life beautiful, and I will live it that way.

We used to sing an old song that said, “Won’t it be wonderful there having no burdens to bear…”  We look forward to heaven where there will be no more death nor sorrow nor crying, but we don’t have to wait until heaven to enjoy a glorious life.

In I Corinthians 2:9, the Apostle Paul tells us, “…Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

This scripture is not speaking of the blessings of heaven but of God’s promise for an abundant life TODAY.  The Spirit of God enters into relationship with us and reveals to our heart, the present day privileges and joys God has prepared for those who love Him.

IT’S TOO MUCH, LORD, but Isaiah 61:3 tells us, “…He has sent me…to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…” And, He does promise that He will not give us more than we can bear.

REMEMBER!  “…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

 

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!!!

 

Follow the Leader

 

 If you are anywhere near my age, you must have played “Follow the Leader,” when you were a kid.  Remember, over and under, in and out, up and down, navigating all the difficult challenges chosen by the leader.  It was fun, but it could also be dangerous.

My brother, Paul, was my nearest, older sibling, six years my senior.  As a child, I adored him.  I still adore him.  He was an active boy, someone to keep up with.

There was a fringed, velveteen cover on my mother’s old treadle sewing machine.  My brother sometimes snitched it, tied it around his shoulders and, VOILA!  There stood Superman. Then Superman climbed to the top of the garage, leaped over into the Chinaberry tree, and, with cape billowing behind, flew effortlessly to the ground.  I wanted so much to follow him, and frequently I tried, but more often than not I suffered scraped knees and various other bruises.  But then, you have to remember.  I didn’t have that magical cape.

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We are a nation of hero-worshippers.  We admire athletes, and movie stars, musicians, and other leaders imagining they have qualities or abilities that are better than anyone else.  We strive to look like, sing like, or play like this one or that one.

We are often hurt and disillusioned, when we discover that our hero has feet of clay.  Foolishly, we often follow the wrong leader.

The Apostle Paul said to the Thessalonians, “…you became followers of us and of the Lord…”  The Message says it like this.  “You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves.  In imitating us you imitated the Master.”  

Paul’s words call for close consideration, for he is saying, “If you follow me, if you imitate me, if you live life as I live it, you will be living as Christ lived.  You will be following in the footsteps of Jesus.  WOW!  What a testimony.

We are prone to imitate those whom we follow.

A few seasons ago I watched faithfully the “Top Chef”  television series.  The air was absolutely blue with foul language from the competitors.  There were so many bleeps covering the curses it was difficult to follow the dialogue.  I was appalled! The winner of “Top Chef” was one of the worst offenders.  When asked about her language, she simply said.  “That’s the language I heard in my home.  I grew up with it.”  She imitated what she saw and heard.

As difficult as it is to believe, there are those who have said to me, “Fayrene, I want to be like you.” Of course that feeds my ego, but it also terrifies me.  I’m not sure I want people looking closely at my life.  I know my shortcomings.  I don’t want to disappoint anyone.

Some years ago, I was stranded, as were others, at the Denver airport.  Hundreds were milling around because of cancelled or delayed flights.  Airport personnel were trying feverishly to find substitute flights for all of us.

Waiting in line I struck up a conversation with the gentleman in front of me.  In the course of our talk, he asked, “What do you do?”

“I am a minister,” I replied, and the conversation continued.

Waiting is not one of my greatest virtues.  After hours had elapsed, I was fed up – tired of being good.  I began to mumble about the inefficiency of the airlines and their employees.  Then I boasted of what I would do, if they didn’t find a place for me soon.

The gentleman in front of me turned, and wagging his forefinger at me said, with a smile, “Uh-uh!  Uh-uh!

His message was clear.  “You are a minister.  You can’t behave like that.  I am watching you, and so are others.”  I’ll not soon forget that lesson.

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II Corinthians 5:20 says, “…We are ambassadors for Christ…”

An ambassador is a government representative of the highest rank.  He is sent to a foreign government to represent his own country.

We are Christ’s representatives to this world.  Our lives are out there for everyone to see and imitate.

You may not be comfortable with that prospect.  You don’t want to be the leader, but, as a matter of fact, you don’t have a choice.  Someone is watching you.

Jesus said to His disciples, in Matthew 4:19, “…Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” 

            “…FOLLOW ME AND I WILL MAKE YOU…”  I like that!

 If I follow Him, He will make me what He wants me to be.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to say with the Apostle Paul, “When you imitate me, you imitate Christ?

It’s safe to follow Jesus!  He will never disappoint you.  He will never let you down.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!!!

Shall We Chat…

Blogging was almost a spur of the moment decision on my part. I had been to a writers’ conference and discovered that I need a broad audience in order to publish a book, and I do want to publish.
Jami Amerine, a sweet new friend, volunteered to help me, so I said, “Why not? I can do it, than anyone else can. So, at the age of eighty, I discovered that I adore blogging. Book or no book, I must admit that I am hooked. This is most surprising to me, for I sort of disdained those who sit at the computer all day wasting time on Facebook and twitter and chat rooms. I surely had more important things to do.

shall we chat (2)However, the truth is, I love, love, love sharing with you. But, I want to do more than just run off at the mouth. I want what I say to be worth the time you invest in reading. I want what I write to somehow contribute or make a difference in your life.
I’m trying to understand why I enjoy this so much. I am compelled to laugh at myself, because I don’t really like talking on the phone. Perhaps that’s because, I’m often required to listen more than talk, and I must admit that I am a better talker.
Sometimes ideas are illusive, and I think, “One day I’ll surely run out.” Amazingly, ideas—entertaining, heart expanding, worthwhile ideas—pop up, in the middle of the night, during the Pastor’s sermon on Sunday morning, or from a joke in Reader’s Digest.

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For the most part, subjects come from my history with friends and family and the brief time I had with sweet Cecil. What a pleasure it is to delve into the past and retrieve a golden nugget that is both entertaining and instructive.
Blogging blesses me. I have been aware for awhile that, considering everything, I have had an incredible life. Digging into the past has brought a heightened appreciation of all that I have enjoyed and all I have endured, both the good and the bad. It’s all part of God’s design making me who I am today.
I will tell you boldly that God plays the major role in every blog. Sometimes I sit down to work with only a vague idea, like a tight little bud, in mind. As I struggle, the idea begins to blossom unfurling like a flower. Then, as the Spirit of God speaks into my heart, the application reveals itself filling the whole narrative with a sweet fragrance.
When I finish each blog, I read it again and again, changing something here, something there, making sure punctuation and spelling is accurate, until I am completely in love with and proud of what I have written.
I must admit that it is not always perfect when it appears on your screen. I don’t know what happens, but sometimes punctuation and even parts of sentences go missing.
In my very first blog manuscript, I used the word lodestar. I looked it up to make sure it was correct. To my chagrin, when it was posted, “lodestar” magically appeared as load star. A long time, extremely intelligent, friend, e-mailed me with his detailed correction. I appreciated his help, but I was embarrassed and still feel the sting of that error.

shall we chatSince I am determined that what I share with you is quality, I have decided, from now on, to post only once a week, on Wednesday. Some of you have already figured that out. As a matter of fact, I do have other responsibilities. I am preparing to teach the Book of Daniel on Sunday mornings starting in September. Considering my lack of knowledge in this area of study, my preparation will be long and hard. And besides, I am going to be a complete arthritic cripple, if I sit in front of this computer every day. My recumbent bike has been neglected far too long.
I Corinthians 10:31 says, “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
The desire of my heart is to bless you and glorify God in everything I do, that includes blogging.
With David, I pray, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14.
BLESS YOU!
Oh, by the way, I have lost five (5) pounds – a pound or so each week. You don’t think that’s much? Believe me, it’s much!
Again, if you enjoy my blog, spread the word around. I need to enlarge my audience.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!!!

Practice Makes Perfect

 

My mother was extremely resourceful.  Though we were poor, there was always good plain food on the table, and because of Mama’s skill and dexterous fingers, we were adequately clothed.  We never lacked for the essentials and once in a while, there was even something special.

At some point, my mother decided she wanted her two little girls to learn to play the piano.  We had no piano, and until that moment, we had no thought of playing the piano we did not have.  However, one day a piano appeared.  There it was, a great, clunky, upright piano, setting against the living room wall.  I don’t know where it came from, and I certainly don’t know how Mama paid for it.

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Now that we had a piano, my clever mother had to find a teacher, and she did.  She found Mrs. Simpson, who lived across town on Sirrine Street.  There was no money for lessons, so mama made a deal with Mrs. Simpson.  You should have known my Mama.  She knew how to make a deal.

If Mrs. Simpson would produce two piano virtuosos, Mama would clean, iron, or sew for her in return.  The deal was struck!

On Saturday morning, June and I walked across town, where Mrs. Simpson waited with her piano.   I liked her.  I liked her pretty little house, and I even liked the lessons, but I liked her treats the most.  After every lesson, Mrs. Simpson made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  She put them under the broiler until the bread was brown and toasty and the filling was bubbly.   When you bit into this delectable treat, the bread was crunchy and the peanut butter and jelly were hot and ooey gooey.  Heaven on earth!

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Then came Monday!  Time to practice!  Tuesday – time to practice.  You get the idea.  This was something I had not considered, but my Mother insisted on it. I discovered two things from that experience.  Practicing is not nearly as satisfying as gooey treats, and you never learn to play the piano without practice.

“So,” you ask, “Do you play the piano?”

No, not really, I can read the music and plunk away at the keys, but in my heart, I know that does not come anywhere near what my Mother bargained for.”  In truth, she longed for it more than I.

An often heard phrase, “Practice makes perfect,” is used to convey the idea that regular exercise of an activity or skill is a way to become more proficient in it.

Remember learning to tie your shoes?  You tried time after time until you proudly succeeded.

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Imagine a kindergarten child with a fat pencil clutched in his tiny hand, his tongue clamped between his teeth painstakingly tracing the letters of the alphabet trying to make each one perfect.

Every habit we have established in our life was learned the same way.  Most of us never reach real perfection in anything, but practice keeps moving us toward proficiency.

IT’S ALL ABOUT PRACTICE!

This is true in the spiritual realm as well as the natural.

When we come to Christ in faith confessing Him as Savior, He breathes into us His own righteousness, His own goodness.  Matthew 6:33 tells us that we, in turn, have a responsibility to seek after Him and His righteousness.  Again, Matthew 5:6 says, we are to “…hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

“Righteousness” is not a mysterious something.  It simply means to do what is morally right according to God’s law.  Quit sinning and do right!

We are to turn from the old way of living and embrace God’s way.

Good News!  Jesus didn’t just tell us what to do and then leave us to our own devices.  No!  2 Peter 2:21 says, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.”

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This is where practice becomes important.  To “follow in His steps,” means that we trace His life living as He lived, doing as He did.

            1 John 3:7 says, “He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.

We have a choice, and it is not always easy.  Sometimes we try and fail, but the more we practice doing what is right, the easier it becomes.  This must be a constant choice, a perpetual, daily decision.  Remember, the one with whom we walk empowers us daily to live out His righteousness.

Some time ago, the slogan “WWJD – What Would Jesus Do?” became very popular.  You could wear those initials around your neck, in your ears, or on your wrist.

For many, it was a mere fad, but for those of us who love and follow Jesus, that question ought to be the deciding factor in every situation.  WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

 

 

 

 

The End of the Row

My Father was a part-time farmer and a part-time preacher.  In 1938, during the Dust Bowl days, and in the midst of depression, he left the farm and moved his family to Arizona.  Conditions made the situation untenable.  Land, that had once been prosperous, could no longer yield a crop.  In Arizona, daddy became a day laborer in the citrus groves working hard to provide for his family, but he never refused an opportunity to preach when invited.

One of the things I remember and most appreciate about My Dad was his will to work.  He grew up on a dry land farm in Tennessee.  He was a real hillbilly.  The only way to keep body and soul together was to work, without shirking, from daylight ‘til dark.  Will Clark learned that work ethic early, and he passed it on to his children, even his girls.

When I was ten or twelve years old, daddy started taking me and my little sister to the cotton field on Saturdays.  We were awakened and routed out of bed before sunup.  We weren’t going along for the ride.  Mama made cotton sacks for each of us, and daddy expected us to use them.

There were plenty of reasons why we might not like such a chore.  It was Saturday – time to play.  It was hard, hot, heavy work.  By the time cotton is ready to be picked, the boll holding the cotton is dry and sharp and hurtful to tender little fingers.

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However, I don’t remember any temper tantrums at the thought of picking cotton.  We just went along.  Daddy picked two rows with me on one side and June on the other.  We picked off his rows, and he did try to make it fun.  Often he would pick a big double handful of cotton and put it in June’s sack or mine.

By the middle of the morning, the sun was scorching hot.  My little sister would sometimes sit down on the end of her cotton sack and say, “It’s hot!  I’m hot!  I wish the wind would blow.”

I can still hear my father’s voice as he said, “Look, honey, look right up there.  There’s the end of the row.  When we get to the end of the row, we are going to get a cold sodi (soda) pop, emphasizing the word cold.

In that instant hope was born.  This hot, uncomfortable morning was not going to endure forever.  There was something better to look forward to.  At the end of the row we would not only be recompensed for our hard labor, but we were promised a refreshing.  You can’t imagine the gladness that promise brought to two little girls who seldom had an extra nickel for a strawberry sodi pop – mm.

We tackled the cotton with renewed vigor and great anticipation making short work of the rest of the row.

The summer before my freshman year in high school, I picked my last boll of cotton.

“I’d rather starve to death,” I said, but sixty-five years later I am very far from having starved.

Did I like to pick cotton?  NO!  I did it because it pleased my father.  Though I was not aware of it, he was teaching me a lesson that has served me a lifetime.

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Don’t quit because it’s hard.  Don’t give up just because you can.

I am not a politician nor am I a philosopher.  I don’t know how to be politically correct nor do I want to be.  I do want to be Biblically correct.

I have seen and read more news in the last year than in all my life combined.  I don’t like what I see.  Our world and our beloved America are in a mess.  Life has become, difficult, uncertain, sordid, and dangerous.

A sense of helplessness hangs in the air.

I pray.  I vote.  Can I do anything else?  Oh, Yes!

In I Corinthians 15:58, the Apostle Paul says, “…my dear, dear friends, stand your ground.  And don’t hold back.  Throw yourselves into the work of the Master…nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.”

In Revelation 22:12, Jesus says, “I’m on my way!  I’ll be there soon!  I’m bringing my payroll with me.  I’ll pay all people in full for their work…”  In verse 17, He invites us saying, “Is anyone thirsty?  Come!  All, who will, come and drink.  Drink freely of the water of life!”

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From seventy years past, I hear my father’s voice.  “Look, there’s the end of the row.  Don’t quit now.  There’s reward at the end of the row.  There’s cold sodi pop.”

Thank God for hope!  This life is a vapor that vanishes.  Eternity is forever.  Don’t quit now!

I wonder!  Will there be any strawberry soda pop in heaven?

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things Thought Impossible

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?

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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

SISTER EFFIE

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

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

“Uh huh,” I answered with a sob.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

YOU HAVE A BEAUTIFUL FACE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t know,” I growled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE CLOSER I GET TO JESUS BRIGHTER SHINES THE SUN.

IT WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closer Than a Brother

 My big brother left home to join the Navy when I was seven years old.  We never lived in the same town for the next seventy-three years.  For years we were separated by the Atlantic Ocean and then by the North American Continent.  However, in spite of the distance, we were close.  We wrote, we talked on the phone.  He came.  I went.  As unlikely as it may seem, we were probably closer than our other siblings.

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He was kind of nutty, my brother.  He loved to laugh and joke.  He was talented and funny, and smart.  He had made a name for himself in the world of Opera both in Europe and here in the States.

 

A few days ago, at the age of ninety, he died leaving his sweet wife and son and grandson and me.  I miss Him!  Though we seldom saw each other still I miss him being there.  A certain richness has gone out of my life, and I feel bereft.  The world is a lonelier place without him.

In 1974, when I broke the news to my Mother and Sister that I was going to be a missionary, My Mom said, “Oh, no!”

My Sister cried, “No, don’t!”

I said, “But, Mama, all my life you have taught me to do exactly what I am doing.”

The day that I left her house to begin my missionary deputation, Mama stood in the driveway by my car.  With tears running down her face, she said, “Now you’ll always be alone.”    In a sense, my Mother’s pronouncement was prophetic, for I was, to all appearances, alone for many years, in my life and work and ministry.

Have I ever been lonely?  Of course, I have.  Occasionally, over the years, I watched families and other groups engaging with each other, and for a brief time loneliness threatened, but I had learned to deal with it.  After Cecil died, however, our house was empty and my heart was empty.  I kept looking for him in every room, but he was gone.  Even surrounded by people I knew and loved, I suffered intense loneliness.  It was and still is, perhaps, the deepest pain I will ever know.

goodbye After my sister’s husband died, she told me, “You know, I am lonelier at church that I am at home alone.”  I believe that kind of loneliness is lessened only through the grieving process.

However, I have discovered that there is a great difference between being alone and being lonely.

Loneliness is a painful, negative state.  It is where we feel estranged from other people.  We feel excluded, unwanted, unimportant or unnoticed.  We miss being with someone.

In contrast, being alone can be wonderfully satisfying.  Just ask a mom with young children in the home.  It is where we are perfectly happy to be by ourselves, and relish and enjoy our own company.  I sometimes choose to be alone rather than go with the crowd.  I suppose that stems from the years of having no choice.  Truth told I like my company.  Being alone gives me time to rest, relax, reflect, rebuild and refresh.

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When I was a young rookie missionary, I heard the story of an elderly missionary to India.  In her early twenties, Anna found herself, the only foreigner, in an isolated area of the country working with widows and children.

 

During the day, while she was busy, she was all right, but when she returned to her humble room at night, the loneliness was unbearable, like a physical hurt.

Finally, she cried to the Lord, “God, I can’t bear it.  I’m so lonely I’m going to die if you don’t help me.”

In that moment she felt the warm, comforting arms of her Savior encircle her as though physical arms were holding her close.  She was not alone in her loneliness after all.  That revelation of Christ’s physical presence enabled her to stay the course.  Of course, she was lonely but from that moment, Anna was certain she was never alone.

All those years ago my Mother said, “Now, you’ll always be alone.”

At the risk of contradicting my sweet mother, I must tell you, “NEVER, never in all these years, have I ever, for one nanosecond, been alone.”

Yes, my brother and I were close, but Proverbs 18:24 tells me I have a friend “who sticks closer than a brother.”  He is a friend with whom I can share my greatest need and my darkest secret.  He hears my cries and feels the pain of my loneliness.

In Hebrews 13:5, He Himself said, “I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you.”

Please know today, no matter what you suffer, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW