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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

           

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

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?

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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

DON’T PANIC!

Pan, the noisy, goat-footed Greek god of the woods, was the source of mysterious sounds and loud music, inciting contagious, groundless fear in people and in animals, hence the word “Panic.”

By the mid 1950’s, the figurative term “Panic Button,” had become a familiar part of the English vocabulary.  Now, it is not unusual to see advertisements for real panic buttons made available to the elderly or physically impaired for use in emergency.

I have always considered myself to be a cool customer.  I am either that calm, optimistic gal, that I claim to be, or like the proverbial ostrich, my head is buried in the sand.  Fact is I am not easily ruffled.  However, I do recall a time—the time when I burned up a whole field.

In my opinion, there is not really much good to say about summertime in “THE VALLEY OF THE SUN,” in Arizona, where I live.  “Miserable” is the word that comes to mind.  Someone has said that there is only a screen door between here and hell.  When it’s 118 degrees, I’m almost tempted to believe it.  No one, in his right mind, could enjoy a picnic, here, on the Fourth of July.

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Yet, the Fourth of July was an exciting day.  There was watermelon, fried chicken, and homemade ice cream enjoyed in the cool, damp comfort of our old evaporative cooler, and don’t forget the fireworks.  I loved the fireworks.  After supper, on the fourth, My Mama, little sister and I walked across town to Rendezvous Park and sat on the grass to watch the magical display.  Even in the heat of the night, the fireworks, against the darkened sky, were mesmerizing.

On the Fourth of July, when I was almost twelve years old, I had my own “FIREWORKS.” Really!  I did.  I had a handful of little red fire crackers about three inches long, and I was dying to set them off, but doing so within the city limits was against the law.  So, my girl friend and I walked to the end of the street, jumped across the dry irrigation ditch, and landed in a large vacant field overgrown with dried weeds.  We were no longer in town.  We were, now, in the country.

I had come prepared for this exciting adventure.  I retrieved a match from my pocket, struck it and lit the end of a firecracker, immediately tossing it away from me into the dried brush.  Instead of exploding, making that pop, pop, popping sound I had anticipated, a fire blazed up.

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“Help,” I yelled at my friend, as I began stomping at the flame.  “Hurry, help me put this out,” but she immediately went into panic mode falling on her belly on the ditch bank, wailing like a banshee.  The more I stomped the wider the fire spread until I gave up in terror.  She was no help, and there was no possibility that the fire engines would show up.  We were no longer in the city limits.

The fire, swift as lightning, gobbled up the dead brush until the whole field was ablaze.  Homes bordered the field on two sides, and suddenly, as if by magic, men appeared with wet burlap bags, “gunny sacks,” beating at the flames.  They worked diligently, in the hot July sun, until any semblance of fire was gone.

I stood on the far side of the field, watching the drama, knowing that it was my fault.  I had burned down the whole field all by myself.  There was no one else to blame.

What would they do to me?  Surely they would come shaking their fingers in my face telling me I had endangered their homes.  But no!  Without a word, they just went home and so did I.  I never breathed a detail of this escapade to my parents, but in the dark of night, I wondered when the police would show up, when they would cart me off to jail, how much the fine would be.  My life was over.  I was sure of it.

My fears, however, were groundless, and life went on as usual.  As far as I know, no one ever knew I had accidentally set that fire.   No one knew I was an ARSONIST!  The episode was soon forgotten.

We all fear certain things.  My sister panics at the thought of flying.  Others fear heights or closed spaces.  My nephew fears germs and will not touch another person.  These fears may be groundless, but they are no less real causing dysfunction and misery.

Isaiah 41:10 (The Message) says, “Don’t panic.  I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.  I’ll give you strength.  I’ll help you.  I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.”

The next time life overwhelms you and you feel like pressing that “Panic Button,” remember, if you belong to God, He holds you close with a firm and tender grip.  Have no fear.  He will not let you go, and…

The sun will come out tomorrow