WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

 

My birth certificate says that I was born in Fort Cobb, Oklahoma, and the same information can be found on my American passport.

Fort Cobb was established as a U.S. Army frontier post in Indian Territory in 1859, and later, in 1899, the town itself was founded, a mile away.  When I was born in 1935, the town boasted a population of close to 700, but by 2010, according to the Census, the population had dwindled to 634. Fort Cobb was never destined to become a great metropolis. 

So, I am from this tiny, unknown place in the Washita River Valley, in Caddo County, Oklahoma.  My family left there in the winter of 1938, when I was barely two years old, and I have returned only one time.  As a young adult, I went back with my Mom, brother, and sister for a nostalgic visit. I saw the house where I was born, and visited “Miss Pearl,” who taught my brothers and sisters in the little one room school house all those years ago.  The visit recalled many wonderful memories for my Mother.

I wasn’t especially glad to be from Oklahoma.  Years ago, people here in the west sort of looked down on those from Oklahoma and Arkansas.  Maybe they were comparing us to the Jode Family in the “Grapes of Wrath.” Kids in my kindergarten class called me an Okie. When I complained to Mama, she said, “Well, you are an Okie!

Even at the age of five, I knew that taunt was not a compliment.

After having lived in California and around the world for half my life, I am now ensconced in Arizona with no plans to leave.  I am no longer sure where I am from, but I have decided that the important question is not “Where are you from, but where are you going?”

This question reminds me of an acquaintance of mine.  Dave, who had been a faithful overseas missionary for many years, was at the time, living in the U.S.  Sunday morning, on the way home from church, he was involved in a head-on collision, and died instantly.

When His son went to the mortuary to make funeral arrangements, the director took him through the building showing him caskets from which he could choose.  He looked at the beautiful oak boxes, the burnished bronze, the ones with cushy interiors, and one by one he rejected them. “No,” he said. “That’s not for my father.”

Finally, giving up, the mortician said, “Well, all I have left are these pine boxes that we keep for transients.”

Dave’s son said, “That’s it!  That’s what my father would want. He was not a citizen of this world.  He was a transient just passing through.”

There is an old song we used to sing when I was a child.

“This world is not my home.  I’m just a passing through.

My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.

The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door.

And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

O, Lord, you know, I have no friend like you.

If heaven’s not my home, then Lord what will I do ………..?”

When Governor Pilate asked Jesus, “Where are you from,” Jesus gave no answer, for he had already told Pilate that His Kingdom is not of this world.  Following His resurrection, Jesus went back to that kingdom to prepare a place for His followers.

We are living in very uncertain times.  Our government is in an upheaval. It is difficult to know who is telling the truth.  It spite of my great love for America, and my thankfulness to be an American, it is impossible to be proud of what’s going on in our land today.  AND—it is difficult to be optimistic about the future of this country.

I will keep praying and hoping and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, and living the life of a good American citizen, but I am ever so glad to know where I am going.  No matter how good or bad this life has been to me, this world is not my permanent home.

You may have been born in a mansion with a silver spoon in your mouth.  Your ancestors may have arrived on the Mayflower. You may be a political great, or a billionaire, but background is not your life raft.  The question is not where you come from, but where are you going.

John 14:2-3:  Jesus said, “…I go to prepare a place for you…I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

One day Christ’s kingdom will come to this earth, and those who have been faithful will share in His Kingdom.  What a day that will be!

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

LOSING MY SISTER

My baby sister will celebrate her 81st birthday next Tuesday.  Those who have followed this blog for a while know that she is an Alzheimer’s victim.  I visit her every Tuesday and Friday afternoon without fail. 

Usually, I draw up a chair near her recliner and hold her hand.  The T.V. is always on with old reruns of “The Waltons” and “Little House on the Prairie.”  We talk quietly, or she talks and I listen, ignoring the programs, which we could both recite verbatim.  

She talks incessantly without ever being able to finish a sentence or explain herself.  I can sometimes see the sorrow in her eyes as she gives up. At other times she laughs and says, “Oh, I’m just crazy or I didn’t do that right.”

Alzheimer’s disease causes memory deficits and makes it hard for people afflicted with it to stay in the current moment.  I have learned that people with Alzheimer’s continually struggle to make sense of the world in the face of their declining cognitive function, and it’s a deeply lonely and isolating experience.  So, I realize that my sister, growing more confused by the day, knows what is going on, but has no control over the downward spiral. Is she afraid?

June is always happy to see me.  At times she is very sweet telling me how much she loves me and how beautiful I am.  She still likes to joke. 

When she says, “You are very pretty today,” I ask, “Oh really?” She replies, with a twinkle in her eyes, “No, not really.” 

At other times, and lately, more often, she is engrossed with the activity outside her window living in an imaginary world.  There are people out there, people that I cannot see, some she knows and some she does not know. They are doing all kinds of interesting things.  Tuesday there was a child in the group, who does not like her.

Of course, she is hallucinating.  A hallucination can be understood as a sensory experience that is imagined.  In other words, she sees, hears, smells, tastes or even feels something that is not really there.  So far, June only sees and hears people, and she does talk back to them. If they invade her room, she tells them to go away.  “This is my house.”

These false perceptions are caused by change within the brain that usually occurs in the middle to later stages of the disease.  Hallucination is associated with a faster decline in Alzheimer’s victims. 

That fact makes me very sad.  How much longer will I have my little sister?

June is also delusional.  A delusion involves a set of false beliefs.  She frequently tells me the caregivers hate her or they are stealing her stuff or one of the men is in love with her.  I have learned that everything in her room must remain in its place. If anything is moved, she believes it has been stolen.  It’s the disease that causes these behaviors.

I am trying desperately to learn how to deal with my sister’s illness.  For this impatient, sassy gal, who is known for saying it like it is, this journey is sometimes one step forward and two steps backward.  There is no way to deal with it rationally. You cannot reason it out. Seldom do I disagree with June, but yesterday, when she said that our Mama was outside her window with those other people, I said, “No!”  Mama is not out there. She is in heaven with Ted and baby Eric waiting for you.”

“Who is Ted,” she asked.

“He’s your husband, and Eric is your baby,” I replied.

“I had a baby,” she asked with wonder, and then she was back to her friends just outside the window.

The experts tell us that caregivers and loved ones must:

Remain calm and resist the urge to argue.

            Try not to reason.

Listen and flow with the moment.

Be gentle and concerning regarding any fears.

Maintain a routine.

Use distraction.  (Doesn’t work—she will not be distracted.)

I am slowly mastering the art of dealing with Alzheimer’s, but I have discovered that I must first “Lead with my love.”  So, I go with gifts—chocolate one day and a Wendy’s Frosty the next. I feed the goodies to my sister one bite at a time.  She can no longer grip anything with her fingers. Then I hold her hand, and sometimes we sing. She still remembers the words to many of our old church songs.  Our favorite: “Jesus, Hold My Hand.”

  I am losing my sister.  With every confusing moment, she is slipping away.  To one degree or another, I have taken care of June all her life.  What will I do when she is gone? I know life for me will be much easier, but, oh, so lonely.

Before I leave, I always pray with her asking God’s protection and assurance of His love toward her.  Then, overcome with weariness, I make my way home having spent every ounce of energy I could muster, but it’s all worth it.

Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

Be good to your suffering loved one.

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

AND THERE WAS LIGHT

 

Although Thomas Edison was not the inventor of the electric light bulb, twenty others came before his, he did produce the first commercially viable one – the first practical one, and literally changed the way we live after dark.

Prior to the light bulb, folks burned lamp oils or used natural gas (rather dangerous) for illumination.  I still have my mother’s old kerosene lamp, from nearly a century ago, when there was no access to electricity in rural areas.  Mama’s lamp is made of clear glass.  It consists of a bowl on a pedestal.  The bowl serves as a reservoir for the kerosene.  The lamp is equipped with a wick protected by a glass chimney.  The cotton wick dipping down absorbs the fuel, and produces a light when ignited.

I love the lamp because it was Mama’s and there’s something romantic about it, but never would I trade it for the light switch on my wall and the bulb it illumines with one touch.

Truth is we cannot live without light.  Oh, there are some parasitic plants that can live in complete darkness for a time, but no plant can live forever without sunlight, and there are some pale, furtive, multi-legged, eyeless animals that live in the dark of caves.  However, aside from a few exceptions, life demands light.

I live in Arizona, in the “Valley of the Sun.”  This valley gets 211 days of full sunshine each year plus 85 days of partial sunshine.  Yet, my doctor tells me that I must take Vitamin D capsules, because I don’t get enough sun.  I must admit that I actively avoid it, particularly in July and August, but to be healthy, I must be exposed to light.

Also, to be safe I need light.  I have never used a night light.  I just didn’t think I needed one.  However, a few months ago, I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and fell over my recumbent bike that sets in my bedroom floor.  The bike hadn’t moved, but somehow I had strayed off my beaten path and nearly broke my neck.  Now, with the bathroom light on, I leave the door open a crack.  That makes all the difference.  Fact is we must have light in order to be safe.

To dispel the darkness- to find our way we need light.  We use flashlights, headlights, lighthouses, spotlights, floodlights, strobe lights, and for some reason, I think of the torch lifted high by The Statue of Liberty, and the words of Emma Lazarus.

“Give me your tired, your poor huddled masses yearning to breathe free…

Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me.

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

 

For well over one hundred years, that torch has been a symbol of light to immigrants from all over the world saying, “Welcome!  You have found your way home.”

Not only our physical and mental being demand light in order to survive, but that spiritual part of me must also be illumined.

Genesis 1:1-3, tells us, “… God created the heavens and the earth… and darkness was upon the face of the deep…Then God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.”

Genesis 1:16, “Then God…made the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night.  He made the stars also.”

Now, for all these years, since creation, people and animals and plants have grown and flourished in the light of the sun, moon, stars, and the God given ingenuity of men.  I can’t imagine living without that marvelous light.

Sadly, though, I must admit that we live in a darkened world today.  Oh, the sun, moon, and stars are still functioning, but our world is darkened by hatred and bigotry, by strife and politics and greed and dishonesty.  No lighthouse or floodlight, however powerful, can dispel this kind of darkness.

The only antidote to this darkness is Jesus Christ Himself, who said, in John 8:12, “…I am the light of the world.  He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

            Jesus, the Son of our Creator, Jesus, who was there with the Father, when light was born, declares Himself to be the “Light of the World.”  He is ready to come into your life, any willing life, and dispel the darkness that lurks there.

If you are a follower of Christ, you need not fear the darkness for you have the “Light of Life,” and according to Matthew 5:14 & 16, “You (also) are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”  So—“Let your light shine before men…”

Can you imagine what a faithful, shining army of Christ followers could do to push back the darkness that rules our world?

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE!

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT’S IN A NAME

 

It seems that Shakespeare is accredited with the question “What’s in a name.”  Romeo and Juliet are not allowed to marry, because they come from rival families.

Juliet cries, “’Tis but thy name that is my enemy…what’s Montague?  It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man, O, be some other name.  What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet…give up your name for it is no part of you.”

From birth my name has been Fayrene Clark, but seldom was Fayrene used.  I have always only been Faye, until I married at the age of seventy-seven.  Then, the one syllable Faye did not sound right with the name Reese, so I decided to use Fayrene, for to me, Fayrene Reese just rolled off the tongue more readily.

I spent four days in the hospital last week.  Never have I heard so many comments about my name.  What a beautiful name!  Your name is so unusual!  I’ve never heard that name!  Where did it come from?

When my mother was pregnant with me, she read the name in a newspaper.  Fayrene was a Hollywood starlet.  I assume she never became a star or this name would have been better known.  In any case, when Mama gave birth, in spite of the counsel of my six year old brother, who wanted to name me Patsy after his little black bull dog, she named me Fayrene.

Once in a while I meet someone named Faye, but never in my life have I met a Fayrene.  I must admit that I rather like having an unusual name.  Never having heard of it, even my computer redlines Fayrene.

At birth, my sister was given the name Mary Jane.  However, some clerk, in the registrar’s office, inadvertently changed it to Mary June on the birth certificate.  So, for the rest of her life, my sister is Mary June, or Junie, or June bug.  That was easier than going through some bureaucratic hassle.  I can’t imagine it any other way.  “Jane” just doesn’t fit.

The days for Mary and John, and the like, are, I fear, long past for the most part.  Now couples name their babies APPLE and RYDER and HARPER.

A mother brought her child into the doctor’s office where my niece worked.  Her baby’s name was ENAMEL.  She pronounced it EN’-A-MEL.  Asked where she got that name, she answered, “I saw it on a paint can.”

In the town where my brother lived, there was a family by the name of DUCK.  They were older, when they gave birth to a baby boy.  They weren’t excited about the child, so they refused to name him.  Left up to the doctor, he named the child DONALD.  DONALD DUCK!   The boy was always a little strange, and later committed suicide.

I don’t really know to what degree a child and his development are influenced by the name he is given at birth, but I do know that names are important, and perhaps we should give serious thought to a decision that will last a lifetime.

A name is like a “Life Label.”  It is more than letters strung together, traditional or made-up.  That name becomes a symbol for the person you are and the person you will become as life unwinds.  That name wraps itself around its owner, and the whole of his life including his character, his demeanor, his attitude, his integrity, his relationships, his honor, his kindness, or lack of it, are tied up in that name.

Henry was one of my fourth graders.  Wherever his name was mentioned on campus, everyone laughed or groaned, for they knew what an incorrigible child he was—always angry, defiant and unmanageable.  His name and reputation were one and the same.

When I married Cecil, he suggested I keep my name instead of taking his.  “Everyone knows who Faye Clark is,” he said, “but no one will know who Fayrene Reese is.”He was concerned for my ministry, for my name and my ministry were inextricably linked together.  We compromised, and I became Fayrene Clark-Reese.

MY NAME AND REPUTATION ARE ONE AND THE SAME!  I need to remember that, for Fayrene has another name.  I am called “CHRISTIAN” meaning that I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and as such I am expected, by Christ and those around me, to live a Christ like life.  Whether I like it or not, people are watching me.  They see the way I conduct myself.  They hear my words and are aware of my attitude.  They know whether or not I am a person of integrity, whether I am kind and gentle.

Not long ago I heard someone say, “You never have to wonder what Fayrene is thinking.”

I have decided that was not necessarily a compliment.  When my name is mentioned, people know, to some degree, the kind of person I am.  My name gives me away.

King Solomon wrote, in Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is to be chosen rather than riches.”

Mama gave me my name, but I am the one who must choose that it be a good name.

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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