Tuesday, July 4, 2017

God Blessed America

  I love America. As we celebrate the birth of our great nation, I've been thinking about blessed we are to live here.   I have been lucky enough to have opportunities to travel to many places in the United States.  The south has white sandy beaches and tall palm trees and it is always exciting to drive there.  We loved the rocky coast of Maine and watching the lobster traps being hauled aboard the boats.  Alaska was breathtakingly beautiful with the snow covered mountains and it was a thrill to catch a glimpse of the moose and grizzly bears.  The Midwest had miles and miles of flat farmland -- endless cornfields.  The Grand Canyon was so incredible, and I loved seeing all the Joshua trees in Nevada and Arizona. My home state of West Virginia has beautiful hills and valleys and rivers that I love, especially in the fall when the leaves are spectacular.
I wonder how some people can think for a moment that there is no Creator.
Oh, Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made...
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee
How great Thou art!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Matter of Perspective

 
 As I was leaving church Sunday, I was stopped by a 90-something lady. She took my hand and said, "I was watching you bounce up the aisle this morning and thinking how I wished I was young again!"  And I thought,"YOUNG? I am almost 70 years old!" I am glad she thought I still had a little bounce in my step -- and I was thinking about that as I trudged around the track on my morning walk.  Notice I said TRUDGE -- because unlike church, exercise is a chore and most mornings I don't have much spring in my steps unless I listen to music that gets my mind off what I am doing.
    I've been working on researching my ancestors lately, and as I walked (no music so had time to ponder some things) I thought about just stopping and going to my air- conditioned car and quitting early.  But then I considered my 3rd great grandmother. Her name was Ann, and she came over from Wales on a ship in 1863.  Her husband was already in America, and she was following with her 4 small children, including a baby born after her husband left.  The voyage was probably more than a month long, and some of the children got a "fever" -- 2 of them died, including the baby. She tried to hide the little bodies in a trunk, but she was forced to bury them at sea.  After arriving in Baltimore, she had to go by wagon to Pennsylvania where they probably got on a flatboat and rode down the Ohio River to Ohio. So there she was, new country with a different language, no air conditioning or car or Walmart. I can't even imagine what that was like.  When I had to cross the ocean to follow my husband to Germany, we flew and arrived the same day and I was exhausted.  Obviously my Welsh grandmother was much stronger than I am.  Here's a picture of her daughter Mary -- she came over on the boat when she was about 3 years old.
   

    So I thought about my ancestors, and walked a while longer.  The meaning of "difficult " or "old" is a matter of perspective. This is the day that the Lord has made -- let us remember where we have come from and REJOICE! Put a spring in your step!


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Not Sitting in Darkness



As I was reading in the Old Testament book of Micah today, I came to his verse that really stood out to me.  You see, I spent a few moments sitting in darkness this week when I got the results of my last blood test.  When I had my lung surgery last year -- recurrence #3 of my thyroid cancer -- I hoped I was finished.  The blood tests every 3 months didn't show any sign of thyroid tissue growing, and I thought I was out of the woods. But no! This test showed an elevated number -- going up instead of going down. So I spent a few hours thinking about writing a will and other depressing thoughts before the LIGHT brightened as I realized that my life has always been in His hands, so I'm not going to start worrying now.  I talked to my doctor, and we decided to test again in 3 months before we get too excited. The number was only 5 points higher than last time, so I intend to enjoy my summer and live it to the fullest.  I think of the song, "He Knows My Name" and the words that tell me He will pick me up when I fall, so I am depending on that.  No gloomy thoughts -- I refuse to sit in darkness thinking about what might or might not happen.  The Lord will be a LIGHT to me!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Serving God by Serving Others


    Rick Warren once wrote,"The only way you can serve God is by serving others and helping others in need."  I have personally experienced the love of God as my family and friends have helped me this week following my lung surgery.  So many wrote on Facebook that they were praying for me, sent cards, called, and visited -- it really gave me great comfort to know that God was hearing from California to Massachusetts to Florida and even Ukraine. Prayers were answered and the surgery went well.
    I came home from the hospital on Saturday and found more cards and flowers and a "Welcome Home" cookie.  Sam gave up his recliner so I could have a comfortable place to sleep. I made a list of things I needed to do -- I am a list-maker -- and my daughter saw the list on the table and quietly checked off every task as she completed it. I decided to try sleeping in our bed on Sunday night. Sam was afraid he would disturb me, so he made a bed on the floor beside me so he could hear me if I needed anything. At 3:00 a.m. I had to wake him to get my pain pills and he kindly brought me the pills and water. I told him to get in the bed, but he said he had slept in a bunker before and didn't mind sleeping on the floor a bit.
    The next morning he brought me a hot cup of cappuccino while Sara whipped up some biscuits and gravy and brought it to me in bed.  This afternoon a couple from church came over and brought a big pot of soup, corn muffins, and blueberry biscuits.  Someone else is bringing supper tomorrow, and I am feeling a little overwhelmed by all the expressions of God's love.
       I even had a FaceTime call from my son in Memphis -- he wanted to let me watch as he set off fireworks for the 4th of July!  It seems that everyone is contributing to my recovery, and I am so grateful to be the recipient of so many blessings. I think God must be pleased to see his children offering their time and talents to help someone in need.

Serving God by Serving Others


    Rick Warren once wrote,"The only way you can serve God is by serving others and helping others in need."  I have personally experienced the love of God as my family and friends have helped me this week following my lung surgery.  So many wrote on Facebook that they were praying for me, sent cards, called, and visited -- it really gave me great comfort to know that God was hearing from California to Massachusetts to Florida and even Ukraine. Prayers were answered and the surgery went well.
    I came home from the hospital on Saturday and found more cards and flowers and a "Welcome Home" cookie.  Sam gave up his recliner so I could have a comfortable place to sleep. I made a list of things I needed to do -- I am a list-maker -- and my daughter saw the list on the table and quietly checked off every task as she completed it. I decided to try sleeping in our bed on Sunday night. Sam was afraid he would disturb me, so he made a bed on the floor beside me so he could hear me if I needed anything. At 3:00 a.m. I had to wake him to get my pain pills and he kindly brought me the pills and water. I told him to get in the bed, but he said he had slept in a bunker before and didn't mind sleeping on the floor a bit.
    The next morning he brought me a hot cup of cappuccino while Sara whipped up some biscuits and gravy and brought it to me in bed.  This afternoon a couple from church came over and brought a big pot of soup, corn muffins, and blueberry biscuits.  Someone else is bringing supper tomorrow, and I am feeling a little overwhelmed by all the expressions of God's love.
       I even had a FaceTime call from my son in Memphis -- he wanted to let me watch as he set off fireworks for the 4th of July!  It seems that everyone is contributing to my recovery, and I am so grateful to be the recipient of so many blessings. I think God must be pleased to see his children offering their time and talents to help someone in need.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

I Am Not Brave


    I. Am. Not. Brave.
     There are lots of things that scare me.  Speed, heights, snakes, rats, airplanes -- even little mice. This week I picked up a big ol'snake in my driveway with a shovel and put it in the empty trash can nearby, and people called me brave.  But I am not brave.  I was too scared to let it crawl around in my yard, and too scared to kill it because then there might be 2 pieces of snake crawling toward me.!! Beside, I didn't  want to see snake guts either. So I shoveled it up and dropped it into the trash can to wait until my for real brave husband to come home and get rid of it.  So no, I am not brave.
     And now I am facing a very scary surgery next week, but with 3 days to go, I still have an incredible peace. I am not lying awake at night or hyperventilating -- it is the strangest thing!  The only explanation is -- God.  There are lots of people praying for me -- not just saying it, but really sincerely making a commitment to pray.  And as I have been working through my journaling Bible, there are so many verses that seem to be written just for me.
        One of my husband's favorite actors, John Wayne, said "Courage is being scared to death...but saddling up anyway."  John Wayne, by the way, also had lung surgery. So, I am saddling up, facing what has to be done, but with a peace that passes understanding.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Little Taste of Heaven

     I drove from my home in North Carolina to my childhood home in West Virginia this weekend.  The event was my 50 year high school class reunion.  It has been 10 years since the last one, but there were some who had never come to any of the previous reunions, so we had not seen them since graduation 50 years ago. It was a wonderful evening of renewed friendships. There was a lot of laughing and hugging -- we spent the evening sharing memories and catching up with each other.  Some were hard to recognize, but some didn't seem to change at all. One boy who was a total goof-off in high school came over and shared his testimony with me then sang "Blessed Assurance" to me. God had certainly changed his life since high school!
       Some had lost children and spouses, some had lost their health.  And there was a chart with the names of the 27 who have died since graduation.  It was hard to see all those names of boys and girls from our class who were gone too soon.
       Many of us had come a long way -- Florida, Missouri,  North Carolina, Louisiana -- and we were disappointed that many local classmates didn't choose to come.  There were name badges waiting for some who were not able to come at the last minute, because of sickness or death in the family.  We signed cards and taped a video to share with some of those.
       A couple of my friends and I were still talking while the restaurant was being cleaned. We met again today and talked for over 3 hours, then continued the talking at one final gathering tonight. We were all so glad to be together again.
        As I was driving home, I was thinking about what heaven must be like.  I wonder if there will be hugging and laughing and celebrating when we see our loved ones.  Will we be sharing our testimony  about how God brought us through? Will we talk and talk to those loved ones without thoughts of a meal? Will we sing, "This is my story, this is my song..."  Will we feel disappointed when  some friends are not there? Or regret not giving a personal invitation to those who didn't know how great it would be?
        As much fun as I had this weekend, I know it can't compare st all that God has prepared for those who believe! But I felt like we experienced a little bit of heaven tonight!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Strengthen your Brothers


          I read a verse in my Bible today that I don't remember reading before.  It was when Jesus was talking to Peter in Luke 22, fortelling his denial, and he said, "And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."  Jesus knew Peter was going to go through a difficult time when he denied Christ, but when it was over and he was forgiven, Jesus wanted him to "strengthen your brothers." Peter's failure was devastating to him, but today's believers are encouraged and strengthened by reading how Peter overcame this failure and became such a strong disciple.
         This made me think of the times in my life when I was going though some really difficult spells, but later I was able to "strengthen the brothers" by sharing my story of overcoming trials.  At the time  I was going through each stressful period, I had to do a lot of praying and was often very discouraged, but the Lord always heard my prayers and restored my soul.
          Our years in the Army gave me lots of stressful times. Watching your husband go off to war is a hard thing. Not only do you have to deal with fear for his safety, but you also have the daily life struggles of the broken washer or flat tire or sick kids to handle alone.  But after I had been through it a time or two, I was able to comfort and counsel other young wives.
         My sweet but impulsive ADHD kids gave me lots of trials -- I could write a book!! But my experiences raising them helped me encourage other moms who were struggling with the same problems. I knew what it was like to get bad notes from teachers -- I had been there -- and because of those experiences, I was a more understanding teacher.  Parents of my problem kids listened to my stories and it gave them hope.
          I also know what it is like to face cancer, Alzheimer's, and the death of my parents.  Those days were so hard -- but again, because I have been through it, I have been able to empathize and provide some comfort and encouragement to others who are facing these difficult times.
          It would have been nice to live a life without problems, but it looks like God expects us to use our hard times to help others get through their hard times.  Psalm 30 says, "Weeping may tarry for the night, but JOY comes in the morning."  And in Psalm 46 I read "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."  God has been with me through every situation, and if my problems can help me strengthen my brothers, then that is a blessing for both of us.


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Still missing my Mother




You would think I would have stopped missing my mother by now. She was 70 years old when she died in 1997.  That's 17 years. I don't cry when I pass the Hallmark Store around Mothers Day anymore, But I still wish I could send her a card or call her on the phone.
I'd tell her how proud I was to be her daughter.
 I'd thank her for faithfully lifting me up in prayer. I think that's one thing I miss the most -- knowing that someone is praying for you every day gives great comfort.
I'd ask her about a few recipes -- I always used to call when I was fixing supper and forgot how to make one of her yummy dishes.
I'd thank her for always fixing all my favorites at Christmas, even when she wasn't feeling well.
I'd tell her all about her wonderful grandchildren. No one thinks they are as special as their Grammie. She would be so proud of them.
I'd thank her for all the times she came to see me -- even in Alaska -- even when the chemo had sapped all her strength. Just having her at my house, even when she was too sick to get up -- just filled my house with sunshine.
I miss her celebrations and picnics, and her voice in the church choir, and the fragrance of "Passion"  that she always wore. I miss the big family gatherings around her table  -- and laughing until we could hardly breathe. I miss her soft hugs. I miss the stories she read over and over to the grand kids.
I miss seeing her reading her Bible every morning when we got up -- she was always an early riser.
I wish I could ask more questions about trees and flowers and family history.  She knew so much!
She was such an example to us -- always encouraging -- and alway ready to go shop or eat out or go to church. She truly had a servants heart, but she also had mine. I am thankful for the promise of Heaven! A mother's love it truly a gift from God.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Waiting on the Lord

           Waiting has never been one of my best things.  When Sam was in the Army, he would call to say we had orders to move -- to Alaska, to Germany, back to Fort Bragg -- and I drove him crazy with a million questions. Where will we live? What can we take? Questions that he could not answer yet, but I wanted details, and I wanted to know now.
           When we lived in Fairbanks, we were told not to plant our gardens until June 1. But I was in a hurry -- it was a long winter and I was ready to plant.  So I planted on May 30.  And the frost that night killed them all.
             I was thinking about that this morning in Sunday School class as we read about Sarah in the Bible.  God promised a child, but since she was really old, she didn't wait for God's timing -- she gave Abraham her servant so she could have a child. Now, I really relate to Sarah, because I was 40 when I was pregnant with my youngest child and I thought I was pretty old. I can imagine that I would have had a lot of trouble waiting too if I had been in her shoes. But as you probably know, her plan did not work out well at all -- in her hurry, she made the situation a lot worse. God had a much better plan.
               Because my yard is shady, my flowers are always late to bloom.  I mean, really late -- everyone else has a beautiful blooming yard, and I don't even have buds yet. But on the way to church this morning, I noticed a lot of brown azaleas.  They bloomed early, and the frost last weekend ruined the lovely blossoms.  But my late bloomers just opened today, so I am enjoying wonderful azaleas while all the others are dead.

                So I am learning the value of waiting.  And at this time of my life, I'm wishing time would slow down.  It seems that the years have flown by and as my 50 year class reunion approaches this summer, I just can't hardly believe that those boys and girls from my senior class are now senior citizens.
                There's a poem written by Ruth Bell Graham, one of my favorite authors, that I totally relate to now.  It is called "Time, Wait!"

     
        Psalm 37:7 says "Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act."  That has not been easy for me. I've heard the term "Be in the moment" recently -- referring to being engrossed in your electronic device or thinking about the past or future -- being so preocupied with other thoughts that you don't take time to enjoy the current moment.  I am trying to learn to enjoy the moment -- I don't know what the future will bring, but I am so grateful for today!!