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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I CAN’T DO THAT!

My friend and I arrived home from vacation on a sweet June afternoon.  I walked through the house opening shutters—surveying my worldly domain.  Opening the patio door blinds I was welcomed by a committee of one.  A snake slithered across the concrete, his head lifted high, his beady black eyes peering through the glass.  He was casing the joint, and I was beside myself.  I have never been on friendly terms with snakes.  I avoid them at the zoo.  I even refuse to look at a picture.  When my Cecil was ill, we watched a lot of Animal Planet.  Invariably, there were slithering, slimy snakes and various other reptiles.  I consider myself to have been very brave, though I watched most of it with my eyes closed.  However, I didn’t feel brave that June afternoon.

i cant (1)

I raced to the phone and dialed 911.  “What is your emergency,” asked the voice on the other end of the line.“There’s a snake looking in my house,” I cried.

“There’s a snake looking in my house,” I cried.

“That’s not an emergency, “she replied.

“It may not be an emergency for you,” I said disparately, “but it is for me and I don’t know what to do.”

I had no confidence in my ability to take care of the matter.

Laughing, she gave me the number of the local Serpentarium.   I didn’t know that such a thing existed, and I’m still not sure.  I can’t find it in my dictionary.

A few moments later, I opened the door to a grinning young man.  “Did you order apples,” he asked, and then, “where is the snake?”

“He’s in the back,” I said.  “I’m sure he’s a rattler.

I opened the patio door just a sliver, so this snake handler could squeeze through.  The snake was no longer on the porch, but in a matter of minutes, the man was back with the creature scrunched up, clutched in his hand.  I hesitantly let him walk through my living room and out the front door.  I’m sure he laughed all the way back to that weird place.

Sunday morning, my pastor preached about Moses and his unwillingness to answer God’s call to deliver Israel.  He had all kinds of reasons why he couldn’t do it.

“I’m no one,” he said.

“I don’t know what to do—I don’t know what to say.”

“No one will listen to me”

“Send someone else,” he cried.

Moses had a shepherd’s staff in his hand.  When he threw it down at God’s command, the staff became a snake, and Moses ran from it.

i cant (2)

God said, “Don’t run from it. Pick it up by its tail.”

Moses picked up the snake and it became a staff again.  Hats off to Moses!  I don’t think I could have done it.

Hats off to Moses!  I don’t think I could have done it.

In Exodus 3:12 and 18, God said to Moses, “I will certainly be with you…Then they will heed (listen to) your voice.”

The God of the universe—the God who is the creator of all things—the God who has all power—the God who existed before time, promised Moses that he certainly, no doubt about it, would be with him.

Most of us are tempted to run from the difficult things—from the hard assignments.  When, as a single young woman, God began to speak to me about becoming involved in full-time ministry, I balked.  I had always wanted to be in ministry, but I imagined that I would marry a preacher, iron his shirts, sing occasionally, and shake hands.  However, that was not God’s plan.

“I CAN’T DO IT,” I declared.

Oh, I was smart enough, well educated, even talented, but there were two big obstacles.

First of all, I was overweight—obese is a better term.  I was always well groomed and well dressed, but I was self-conscious and insecure.  People wouldn’t accept me.  I was sure of it.

“I CAN’T DO IT, LORD!”

Then there was the problem of being alone.  I didn’t want to be a single woman preacher.  People didn’t like women preachers.  I didn’t like women preachers.  I had seen and heard a few.  To me, they seemed too aggressive and unattractive.

If I wanted anything in life, I wanted everyone to like me—love me.  I didn’t want to be weird.

Ministry, in the 60’s, was an uphill climb for women, particularly single women, but in the confines of my stubborn, frightened little heart, God whispered, “I will certainly be with you.  I will enable you, and people will accept you.”

i cant (3)

No words can explain the joy I have had in almost fifty years of ministry.  A gentleman, whom I have not seen or heard from in several years, called yesterday just to remind me that I was instrumental in his salvation—a wonderful encouragement on a difficult day.

God’s great promise to us is found in Isaiah 41:10.  “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, yes I will help you.  I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

DON’T RUN FROM THE SNAKE.  PICK IT UP BY THE TAIL AND SEE WHAT GOD WILL 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.

firecracker-801902_1920

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.

burning-grass-1165823_1920

“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

 

THE BIG BAD WOLF…

When Sir Walter Raleigh’s expedition first landed ashore on Roanoke Island, North Carolina in 1584, the white man’s 400 years war against wolves, in the new world, began. This 400 years battle nearly wiped out the wolf population. Now, after all these years, the wolves are being reintroduced into that area of the country. Why? Because, it was discovered that the wolf was not nearly the predator that he was thought to be. He is instead, a shy and secretive creature more apt to run away from man rather than to attack.

medicine

We often create real fear out of imagined circumstances. And fears always have catastrophic expectations attached to them. I have a friend who reads all the fine print on medication bottles. Every possible side effect, even if it has never been exhibited, is listed.

 

My friend has decided that she will surely be the one exception, so the medication is flushed down the toilet.

Fear is a terrible thing. It eats away at our innards and nibbles away at the edges of our soul. If gone unchecked, it can develop into paranoia bringing suspicion of everything and everybody, and total ruination to a life.

When I married Cecil, I became a passenger. Until then, I had always been the driver. Now I sat on the right hand-side of the car. To tell you the truth, Sweet Cecil’s driving sometimes scared the waddin’ out of me. He was a very observant man always exclaiming, “Oh, look over there,” or “Did you see that?” He had a penchant for driving toward whatever he was looking at, while I chewed my nails down to the knuckle.

dark woods (1)

I was the gal who had never been afraid of anything. I had traveled the world alone getting myself into this and out of that without a great deal of help from anyone, except God, of course.

I well remember my first trip to India.

 

I arrived in Calcutta at 5:00 a.m. with a connecting flight to Bangalore at 8:00 a.m. However that flight was delayed until 5:00 in the afternoon. What would I do? I was saddled with a great deal of paraphernalia, which I dared not take my eyes off of. It could disappear in a flash. It was finally arranged that I would rent a room upstairs, where I could rest a few hours.

Lying in that humble little cot feeling alone and a little bit sorry for myself, I whined, “God, nobody in the world knows where I am right now.”

God answered, “I do.” With that reassurance, I fell asleep and awoke refreshed ready for my continuing flight.

That’s the way I handled things. That’s the kind of gal I was.

Now, every time Cecil was three minutes late arriving home, I was sure that something catastrophic had happened to him. That kind of fear was new to me. I kept reminding myself that I was no longer alone. But then I had never been alone, had I?

“Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf,” is a song written by Frank Churchhill in 1933 for the Disney film “The Three Little Pigs.”

dark woods

The wolf was the villain who terrorized The Three Little Pigs and blew down their houses. His big eyes and big teeth and treatment of grandmother also brought great fear to Little Red Riding Hood. Truth is there is a BIG BAD WOLF around every corner, if we are so inclined to entertain him.

Instead of expending our energies trying to defeat the wolf at our door, we are better served by leaning upon the infallible Word of God.

In Psalm 56:3, King David said, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”

Again, in Psalm 27:1, he says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

The Word of God totally defeats the wolf. He has not one word to say in his own defense, but must turn tail and flee.

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy saying in chapter 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

If I understand this passage, it simply means that I have been given the ability to understand what fear really is, and I have been given the power of God to overcome it.

For according to 1 John 4:18, “…perfect love, (God’s love,which has been given to me,) casts out all fear…”

REMEMBER, tears, sorrow, fear may endure for the night, but JOY, SUNSHINE comes in the morning.