Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Buzzards are Circling!

   It was such a relief to me when my husband retired from his helicopter job -- I don't know why he enjoyed such a risky job.  But the days of risky jobs are not over -- because our 2 story house has trees hovering above it.  And at this time of year, that means leaves in the gutters. So every so often, Sam decides it is time to climb on the roof and clean the gutters.  Yesterday was the day.  So he got out the long ladder that I hate, and up he went.  I stayed outside to watch -- and to go pick up the tool that he was using when it slid off the roof.  He is 65 years old, for heaven's sake, and I am not wanting to be a widow any time soon.  When he got to the steepest part, he tied one end of a rope around the chimney and the other end around himself.  He had this metal ring thing that he could loosen to give himself more slack.  I was standing out there watching -- picturing how I could catch him if he fell off -- wondering if it would then kill both of us. That's when I noticed 2 vultures (Or "buzzards" as we called them in WV) circling our house.  I told Sam that they thought he was going to fall off and die so they were getting ready.
Well -- happy ending -- the gutters are clean again, and Sam is safely still alive and well.  But I started thinking about how the Bible says, "For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear: I will help you."  (Isaiah 41:13)  Sam was not worried on the roof -- he had confidence that the chimney was immovable and the rope was strong enough as long as he held on.  Thanks for reminding me, God, that You, too, are immovable and plenty willing and able to help me -- even when I feel like the buzzards are circling.  I just have to make sure that I am holding onto the rope!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Making a Difference

I ran across an article this week about serving God by helping others --- the author said that we should daily pray for an opportunity to be a blessing to someone. Then  I heard a radio minister talk about how we were afraid to ask God to use us because we are afraid might send us to Africa.
Anyway, praying for a chance to help someone seemed a little risky --- but since I am a follower, I believe that He will not ask us to do anything alone.  I should have known that the opportunity would come sooner than I expected.
I was scheduled to sing with the praise team this morning at the early service, so I was headed to the church at about 7:15.  As I drove down the little curvy back road, I came up on a car that was parked just barely off the road.  As I passed, I saw a young woman looking out the window, and she had a very distressed look on her face.  I have never done this before, but I just couldn't pass by without stopping to see what was going on.  The girl got out of the car and come to my window.  She said, "I am not crazy.  But I ran out of gas and I am late for work and my cell phone died.  Could you possibly take me to work at the nursing home down the road.?"  I told her to get in, and drove her to work. She was so grateful, and I still made it to church on time. It wasn't until later that afternoon that it occurred to me that this was the answer to my prayer.
Then tonight, right before church started, I read a text message from our music minister --- he is sick --- could I lead the music this evening?  That is definitely outside my comfort zone, but I felt like I had to do the best I could, since no one else was offering to do it.  The scripture tonight was from Jude --- and there was a verse about making a difference in the lives of others. That's when it occured to me that this had been another opportunity to serve --- just like I had asked for.
So, isn't  it amazing how some prayers are answered in the most unexpected ways?


Monday, October 22, 2012

Missing Mother

  This is October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I have been thinking about my sweet mother, taken too soon.  It has been 15 years since breast cancer claimed her life, but I still miss her.  My girls and I are participating in the Race for the Cure again next weekend -- my oldest is actually racing -- Sara and I are more likely "Strolling for the Cure" 'cause they would have to call 911 if I tried to run it! Anyway, Sara especially has been reminding me of the cause, as she has been cutting out dozens of pink ribbons and butterflies for a door decoration at the daycare where she works. She also sat down last night and made pretty pink bracelets for us.
   My mother wrote verses and prayers and thoughts down all the time -- I have many journals that she wrote over the years, and they have been such a blessing to me.  But something odd happened this week.  I was messing with the computer cords because I couldn't get it to connect to the Internet, and I found a little yellow dusty piece of note paper down in that little space.  I have no idea how it got there, but I smiled when I recognized Mother's handwriting. And is this a reminder from God or what?  "Those who live in the Lord never see each other for the last time." What a thought!! and on the back was another good message.

"Whatever comes to any of us is sent or allowed by God."
I think this is what helped her face this terrible illness with such faith -- she once told me that she knew that hundreds of people were praying for her, and she knew God heard the prayers, so she just had to accept His plan, even if she was not healed from the cancer.  I remember standing in the hall at the hospital as they wheeled her off for the mastectomy.  She had to take her teeth out -- she hated that -- so she had the sheet pulled up over her mouth.  But her eyes were bravely smiling, and she gave us a "thumbs up" sign as she saw us there.

I am grateful for this little scrap of paper -- and for the message of hope that it conveys. I think it appeared as a God wink -- reminding me that He still loves us and has a plan that we may not understand, but He still gives us "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow -- it is well with my soul."






Saturday, August 4, 2012

Oh, Well!

I've been reading a devotional book, "Jesus Calling" nearly every morning since last winter, and I look forward to seeing how God speaks to me thru the words of the author.  This little book has been a blessing and encouragement to me this year.  It's on my Kindle, so I can sit in the dark and read and pray before I start the day.  A few days ago I read the entry for September 20 (some days I read 2, so I'm a little ahead!)
It said,
"When little things don't go as you had hoped, look to Me lightheartedly and say, "Oh, well."... Most of the things that worry you are not important. If you shrug them off immediately and return your focus to Me, you will walk through your days with lighter steps and a joyful heart.  When serious problems come your way, you will have more reserves for dealing with them. You will not have squandered your energy on petty problems."
This was the day that Sam and I both got sick -- coughing and sneezing and aching.  And my computer broke.  And Andrew went to the dentist and found out that he needed a $175 filling. And Sara had an upsetting day at work.  And I kept hearing those 2 words -- "Oh, well!"
I remembered Jessica, a newly-wed with terminal cancer.  And Shirley, whose husband died this week. And the shooting victims in Colorado. And I was grateful for the words that I read that morning.  I was glad I had not wasted time and energy complaining about my little problems -- much.  And when the big problems come -- and of course they will sometime -- I hope I will be able to deal with them with the strength I have saved.  My mom always said, "Don't worry until you KNOW there is something to worry about." She was such a great example to me, taking each day as a blessing, even while dealing with chemo and radiation.  So, I hope you will hear me say, "Oh, well" to the daily annoyances and save my worries and complaints for REAL problems!
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."   2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Look up!

    About 10 years ago, when my son Andrew was in 4-H, we bought some blueberry and grapes vines the club was selling as a fund raiser.  We planted them under some trees beside the house -- obviously NOT the best place for them -- and they never did produce anything.  We finally quit looking and gave up.  We don't go around to that side of the house much, and I totally forgot about them.  This weekend, Sam was out doing some yard work -- not his favorite thing -- and he called for me to come and see the blueberries on the vine!  I was surprised  and happy-- I'm going to be having my own berries  for muffins!  So then I looked over at the place where we had planted the grapes, and there was that scraggly vine -- with no grapes, just like I expected.  We stood there talking for a few minutes, then I happened to look up -- and was shocked to see grapes growing from the vine about 15 feet up in the tree!  I don't know how many years we have missed them -- but the vine is way up there!  We haven't looked up before, so the vine may have been producing grapes for several years.
    I wonder how many times I have missed a blessing from God because I  didn't look up?

Isaiah 40:26
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Single Red Rose


    There's a guy that I "liked" on Facebook known as "Teacher Tipster."  His posts are always  funny and sometimes kind of crazy -- but helpful ideas for my kindergarten class.  But recently he has written on a more serious note, letting his readers know that his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  But in this message it seems like he had a "Godwink" -- a blessing  to help him know that God would walk through this with them.  

Here's what he wrote today:
      
   "Three days earlier we had received what seemed like the worst news imaginable. Suzy had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. We were scared. In shock. Worried. Confused. At this point, we knew nothing and it was tough to find anything positive about this situation. It was not a good weekend!

But, like always...time marches on. And before we knew it we were both back to work on Monday morning as usual. We hadn’t told anyone other than family at this point. So, when I showed up at school on Monday I knew that I’d have to share what was happening with my principal. I’d need to arrange to have some time off to help Suzy with her hospital appointments. I also wanted to tell my BTFF (Best Teacher Friend Forever) Ms. Murtha what was going on. We’ve taught together for our entire careers and we always keep each other in the loop about big stuff like this.

It was about 7:15 that morning. Murtha dropped by my classroom to say “hey” as usual. I shared the bad news with her pretty quickly. I told her all that we had found out and what our plans were going to be for the next week or so. I realize now that I probably hadn’t dealt with my emotions over the weekend. Like I said...I was in shock! Plus, I had been trying to keep the “strong” face on for Suzy. So, as I was sharing the news I finally lost it. The fear, worry, shock and stress had finally caught up to me. I began to weep. I don’t cry often...but when I do it’s ugly! Just ask Murtha. Hahah! I couldn’t talk and my face was all red, wet and shiny. I just needed to let it all out I suppose.

It took me a minute or two to finally gain my composure. And I had just wiped away the last remaining tears when one of my students showed up at the classroom door. Now, it was only about 7:30 a.m. Our students aren’t even dismissed to the rooms until about 8:00 everyday. So, she was WAY too early to be coming down the hallway to the classroom.

And this was not just any student. It was one of those students that you really had to watch. Don’t get me wrong...I LOVED this kiddo! I could tell you a hundred stories about her that would have you rolling with laughter. One involving “toots that smell like waffles”. Her hard work and academic gains this year were more impressive than almost any other student in my class. But, she did have a mischievous side. She really knew how to push the boundaries. And she could truly test my patience at times. So, when she showed up thirty minutes before class was supposed to start I just knew that she was up to no good!

I was just about to “shoo” her out of the room when I noticed something in her hand. And as she shuffled towards me I could see that it was a single red rose. Now, one more note about this kiddo. It wasn’t often that she brought me gifts. In fact...it had never happened before. No birthday gift. No Christmas gift. No Valentine’s Day gift. No Teacher Appreciation Week gift. She came from a large family and spending that kind of money just wasn’t an option. And of course that’s fine with me! I tell my kiddos that the best gift of all is their hard work and caring behavior. But today...she did have a gift. A rose. In my eyes the universal symbol for love.

My spirits were instantly lifted! I said to her...”What! Oh my goodness girl! You have no idea how much I needed that today!” And I did need it! After the weekend that we had just endured I needed something that just felt good and sweet. I told her “Thank you” and she told me “Your Welcome” and she began to walk out of the class. But, after taking just a few steps, the child stopped and turned back to me. She looked me right in the eyes and said...”Actually...it’s for your wife!” Then, just as fast as she had come in she trotted right back out of the room and was gone.

I couldn’t believe my ears! First, how did she know that I needed such encouragement on this day? And how could she possibly know that Suzy needed it even more than me? And of all the days during the school year why had she chosen this random Monday morning to bring me a gift? Because let me remind you that we hadn’t told ANYBODY about what we were facing. Only our family, the doctors and God knew what was happening! My students knew nothing about the storm we were facing. As a matter of fact, this class had never even gotten to meet Mrs. Suzy in person! Amazing!

It felt to me like Jesus was saying “I love you”. Like He was reminding me that He cares for us. He knew that we were hurting and He used the most unlikely of people to let us know that He had not abandoned us. He wanted to make it clear that He would be with us every step of the way. He sent us that rose to say that He loves us!

Murtha and I just looked at each other with wide eyes! She was just as shocked as I was! And all I could say in that moment was “Thank you God!” It meant so much to me! And it felt so personal. I’ll never forget it. And it may never happen again, but I know that this was more than just a coincidence!

I can’t tell you how much I needed that rose...and the message that it ultimately stood for. God knew that I needed it. And from this day on I’ll always remember that. No matter what’s happening in our lives. The good, the bad or anything in between. He is with us! And He loves us."

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in times of trouble.
Psalm 46:1

I have loved you with an everlasting love...
Jeremiah 31:3

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hollyhock Dolls and Railroad Lilies

On my way to school today, I noticed that the wild lilies were starting to bloom. It took my thoughts back to childhood in my little hometown of Red House, West Virginia.  A narrow road and  railroad followed the wide Kanawha River in front of my house, and I often used the rails as a balance beam -- trying to keep my balance as I walked the short distance to my grandparents' house on the riverbank.  As summer approached, the wild lilies, roses, and hollyhocks starting blooming all along the tracks. I especially loved the tall hollyhocks that grew along the lane and spent many wonderful hours making hollyhock dolls.  The wild flowers grew in a variety of colors, and I would sometimes make a whole wedding party of dolls in colorful hollyhock gowns. 
I had never heard of "day lilies" until I got married and moved to Ft. Bragg with Sam.  A columnist in the Fayetteville newspaper wrote about a day lily garden, and I wondered what they looked like.  I was very surprised to find out that what we called "Railroad Lilies" were actually something special.  Because they grew like weeds, I just took them for granted -- not even considering that they must have been planted by God!  My "Godwink" today was a reminder that the Creator of all those flowers of my childhood was still at work, blessing me with little patches of beauty on my way to school.  


“Why take ye thought for raiment [clothing]? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Crazy Cardinal Godwink

       Last weekend, my daughter Sara and I went to a Sweet Adelines concert in Atlanta, and stayed overnight in a hotel in South Carolina.  I took my Kindle, and was looking for something free or cheap to read before going to bed.  An e-book that caught my eye was called ""Confessions of a Prayer Slacker." I hate to admit that sometimes this title applies to me, so I downloaded it and started reading. The first page --the introduction -- started with this verse. "How long will you stay in bed, you slacker? When will you get up from your sleep?" Proverbs 6:9  The book reminded me of those church camp mornings many years ago when we started the day by going to a special place outside to have our morning devotions. I had some of the best quiet times sitting under at tree, all alone, early in the morning.  But life happens, and especially in the past few years -- with insomnia and work demands -- I have found it hard to find time for more than a quick prayer in the morning as I drive to school. But as I read this book, the author challenged the readers to faithfully meet with God every morning.  It sounded good -- and I was thinking about trying it -- sometime -- but not sure I would really get up early to do it.
        This is where the crazy bird comes in. I woke early the next morning to a thumping sound at my second story window. I didn't get up right away -- wondering who could be throwing something at my window. Once we locked Andrew out when he went to the car to get something, and he threw gravel at the window for quite a while before we realized that it was not the wind blowing a tree branch against the window. But no one else was with us this time, so I finally got up and went to the window in time to see this red flash.  It was a crazy cardinal, flying into my window again and again. I wondered if he was saying. "How long will you stay in bed, you slacker?"  So I got my Kindle out, read a little more of my book, then turned to the Bible that I also have downloaded. I spent some time reading, and praying -- and watching the bird -- and soon an hour had passed.  Sara was still asleep, so I went back to bed and slept a little more until the bird woke both of us up again.
        Since then, I have managed to get up a little earlier every morning to spend some quiet time with God before everyone gets up.  My Kindle lights up, so I don't even have to turn the lights on to read.  I am just starting, and honestly, some mornings I HAVE hit the snooze once -- but I think about the cardinal -- and the image of Jesus waiting for me to come and spend time with Him -- and I have started to look forward to the morning.  Once more I have found a Godwink in an unexpected place.  My friend Sherry wrote in her blog last week about God speaking through His creation -- also cardinals out her window -- but my crazy cardinal made sure I didn't miss this message!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Amazing Love

        It is my privilege to be a part of the music ministry at my church --  I love singing with the choir and praise team.  As we were singing "Hallelujah, Your Love is Amazing" this morning, I was looking over the faces of people in the congregation, seeing smiles as they sang this song.  Then I started thinking of the problems in the lives of these dear people -- I saw one precious friend who was caring for her husband with Alzheimers, several who have broken marriages, cancer, sick parents -- so much sadness. Yet they were singing ..."Your love carries me.." and I knew it was true.  I also saw some who were living proof of God's healing and protection -- a kidney transplant that brought new life, a new love for a  widow and widower, complete recovery from a bout with cancer.  We heard testimony of God's intervention with a soldier in Iraq -- his vehicle was destroyed by an explosion, but he didn't get even a scratch. I've been thinking about a question my missionary niece asked -- "Why do we love God?" Is it because of the prayers He will answer?  What if He doesn't heal or answer the way we want?  As I sang I realized the answer was in the words "Your love makes me sing." We come together to worship the One who makes us sing because of His amazing love, "steady and unchanging...a mountain, firm beneath my feet...Your love is a mystery... how You gently lift me... when I am surrounded, Your love carries me." Hallelujah!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Back in the Classroom

     When my first child was born, Sam and I decided that I should  be a full time stay-at-home mom, and I loved that job.  I had taught school for 4 years in West Virginia, then worked as a school librarian in North Carolina after we got married,  and as much as I enjoyed teaching, I liked being a mom even more. I eventually drew out the money I had in the school retirement system, because I didn't expect to ever go back.  So for the next 27 years I enjoyed being with my children full time -- even started home schooling them when we moved to Germany.  We lived out in a little German village, and the school was 2 hours away by school bus, so we had our own little schoolroom at home.After we came back to the states I continued to teach my kids -- loving the flexible schedule and differentiated teaching that was possible. As the kids got older, I did a little substitute teaching in the local school, and even taught a year in a Christian school after Sam retired from the army. But Andrew's ADHD kept him in time-out a lot during his kindergarten year at the Christian school, so I went back to home schooling for another 7 years.  Finally both girls finished college and Andrew started middle school, so I thought I could finally have some time to catch up on all the things that I couldn't do while I was teaching. But then we had a wedding to plan -- so exciting that our oldest was getting married -- and I started thinking that if I got a teaching job, we could have extra money to pay for the wedding. Although it had been 27 years since I had taught in public school, I turned in an application.  I left it in the hands of God -- figured if He thought I could handle teaching again after all those years, someone would call me.  Sure enough, I got a call for an interview at Valmead.  I was feeling a bit nervous as I sat in the principal's office -- it had been over 30 years since I got my teaching degree.  What if she asked me about Piaget or something else that I had long forgotten? I tried to think of a topic we had in common -- wasn't that what the job interview books suggested? That's when the coincidence Godwink happened -- the principal asked me where I had taught before, and I told her "Putnam County Schools in WV."  What a surprise -- she had moved here from WV and also taught in Putnam County -- same town where my dad lived!!  And she took a chance and offered me a job before I left that day. I was happy to know that God had confidence in me, The first year was hard -- I had so much to learn --- but I loved it.  That was 8 years ago -- the wedding was paid for, and I am still loving my job and not even thinking about retiring yet. This is another occasion when I know that God put me in just this place, and I am so grateful.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mission Trip to Ukraine

I've always liked to go on mission trips -- after all, I met Sam on my first one.  So when our pastor started calling for volunteers to go to Ukraine, I signed up.  It was a very rewarding experience, but difficult, especially since the food and water there did not agree with my system -- running to the bathroom every 15 minutes was not pleasant under any circumstances, but particularly bad when the toilet was just a hole in the floor that you had to hover over.  I know -- too graphic -- but it was bad. So when the next trip was announced, I was pretty hesitant about signing on.  This trip was going to head to a gypsy village on the western side of Ukraine, and I was really not very excited about it.  On the last day of sign ups, Sam asked me if I was going to go, and I said "I don't know -- it was really hard." We went on in to our Sunday School class and I open my lesson book to find the verse about Jesus sending out the disciples, telling them to take nothing with them.  I realized that Jesus didn't care if it was hard, He still told them to go.  As I was thinking about that, we turned the page and the next section had the verse about the harvest -- "the laborers are few" and now I was really getting uneasy.  So I turned to the next page, and what did I see?  A picture of a group of GYPSIES!  So I said, "OKAY!  I get the message -- I'll go!" I have never see a picture of Gypsies in a Sunday School book before in my whole life -- how did He manage to put it there on that day?? Anyway, I went, did not get sick even when I ate the food the Gypsies cooked for us in a big pot outdoors. And it was a wonderful opportunity to help some folks in terrible circumstances. I know that's where I was supposed to be -- I saw that big Godwink without a doubt!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Love Story



After college -- I got a degree in Elem. Education from WVU -- Go, Mountaineeers!!  -- I taught school for a year.  It was the summer of 1971 and just like every summer, I went back to work at church camp for a couple weeks. While I was there with my dear friend, Sheila, we met another counselor/medical student who invited us to go on a mission trip to the little mountain town of Richwood.  He said we would work in Bible School, a Youth for Christ Rally, and maybe have a coffeehouse.  Sounded good to me, so after a couple weeks, we drove over to Richwood to meet up with the :New Life Team" -- a group of mostly young professionals and college students.  Our lodging was rustic, to say the least.  Camp Splinter had beds without mattresses -- just a piece of cardboard to cover the wire. We bathed in the ice-cold Cranberry River, and got water from the pump.  There was no electricity -- we were really roughing it, but loved the people we were with, so we just made the best of it. During the day we went into town and held Bible school.  In the evening we set up a "coffeehouse" in the basement of the Methodist church. One evening a guy walked in and I met him at the door to welcome him,  We sat down in the circle on the floor and started talking -- he was a helicopter pilot in the Army, home on leave before going back to Viet Nam for the second tour. This just happened to be his home church where is parents were members.  We talked a LOT -- about being a Christain -- and I gave him a "Four Spiritual Laws" booklet to read.  He came back the next evening -- and said, "I read your book." Before the evening was over, I prayed with him for salvation -- it was kind of scary to have an altar call with no pastor or "Just as I Am" but he prayed with me and received Christ.  The rest of the week he spent a lot of time with us at the camp, but when it was time to leave, he asked me to write to him in Vietnam.  Of course I said yes.  So we wrote while he was gone and I was teaching school. He came to see me when he got back -- I was at camp again, as usual.  This time, the chemistry was there -- and we started dating -- long distance.  He drove up from Ft. Bragg every few weeks -- and eventually popped the question -- he must have been pretty confident, because he already bought the ring. After I could catch my breath, I said YES! I finished teaching that year, and applied for a job near Fort Bragg. We got married in June, 1974 and I moved to NC.
   This story is full of coincidences that God used to bring us together. I had always thought I'd like to teach on a base overseas. and had filled out the paperwork in triplicate that summer,  If I got a job overseas, I never would have seen Sam again. My friend Sheila  sent me a letter urging me to wait until Sam came home before I made that decision. Glad I listened.!  If I ever have doubts, this is a reminder of how my life was changed by God! It was like He looked down from heaven and winked at me -- "Your life is in my hands, and have I got a plan for you!" That was over 40 years ago, and what a plan it was!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Here's Your Sign

When we came back from Germany in 1989, I was VERY pregnant.  We moved into a little motel/apartment while we were getting signed in to Fort Bragg, but I was eager to find a place to settle down before our baby came.  According to my count, I still had about a month to go, but our search for a house to rent was not going well, and I was getting kind of impatient.  One day as we were driving back to our motel, I asked Sam to drive through the housing development in the part of town we liked, just to see if there might be anything with a "for rent" sign. Wouldn't you know -- there was!!  The man next door had the key, and he let us look inside.  It had plenty of room, a nice yard, and reasonable rent -- but we are never quick to make a decision, so we thanked him and headed home. We had a realtor friend also looking for a place for us, so we were thinking about checking with him, too.  As we drove home, Sam prayed for God to give us a sign if that was the place for us. When we got back to the motel, there was a note on the door -- our friend had found a house that he thought we might like.  We checked the address -- it was the same house we had just looked at!!  We had quite literally gotten a SIGN with the address of our new house!! Coincidence? Nope -- it was a Godwink!!
And none too soon -- I had our baby 3 weeks early -- on the day before we were scheduled to move into our house.  So Sam and the girls moved our belonging and cleaned the motel rooms while  I was at the hospital, and I came home just in time to direct the movers who delivered our household goods. I sat in the recliner with Andrew and pointed out the destination for each box. It was a good place to live, and we knew that God met our needs once again.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Flying squirrels and matters of faith


This was written by my friend, Arlene Neal, and published in the Lenoir News-Topic today -- she said I could share it -- another Godwink!!

A few days ago my husband walked across the backyard with a five-gallon bucket and called out to me.  “You’re not going to believe this!”  If the weather had been warmer, I would have assumed he’d captured a snake, one of his daring habits in summer; but given the cold temperature of the day, I couldn’t imagine what he carried.

I looked into the bucket only to see a mass of nesting materials and what appeared to be vacuum cleaner trash.  Then it moved and a pair of big black eyes and two cute little ears appeared—a flying squirrel!   Another popped out and another, six in all.  They had found a cozy place to winter over in an old shop vacuum in our outbuilding. 

Flying squirrels can be quite destructive if inhabiting the wrong place, but I couldn’t help but admire how cute they were. They reminded me of a time when a flying squirrel played an important role in my young life.

My high school guidance counselor encouraged me to go to The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, so I ended up there, after spending my whole life to that point in Lawsonville, NC, out in the country.   College was a huge adjustment, but living in town proved harder than the academic part.

Traffic noise never ceased, day or night.  Radios blared, sirens screamed, and dark of night with starry sky did not exist since the campus lights remained on all night.  Dorm life got on my nerves when shrieking voices and door-slamming drama echoed down the hall frequently.  I missed quiet and hearing the wind blow and rain on the roof.

To compensate, I grew plants in my room and put bird seed on the window ledge to bring some nature into my life, but when early spring came around I missed the spring peepers calling from down on the creek back home and the smell of rain on plowed earth. I felt miserable.

One warm night my roommate and I left our third floor window open. She had fallen asleep while I stayed up reading.  In my groggy state I doubted what I saw sitting on the window ledge looking at me with huge black eyes.  A flying squirrel sat eating my bird seed, not in the least bothered by me.  I watched him for a long time until he had his fill and leaped with his velvety limbs spread wide to glide to the oak tree beside the dorm.

He returned night after night and became so accustomed to our presence that he actually crawled through the window and sat on the end of my bed. When I wiggled my toes, he held onto the quilt and took a ride. I realize that to some people that would be a repulsive thing, but I had bonded with that little creature, my ambassador of hope and a witness of wildness surviving in the city. 

At that point in my life I was not a spiritual person, but I felt somehow that maybe God sent the squirrel to me.  Looking back on that part of my life, theological analysis aside, I think the squirrel truly was a godsend. 

A friend of mine, Ann Spencer, writes a blog called “God Winks.”  Godwinks, she explains, are those moments in life when God shows up in special ways for people at just the right time.  Check out her site for true stories that are heart-felt and inspiring.  She helped me realize that my squirrel visitation was definitely a Godwink. 

Lots of people deny the existence of God because He doesn’t show up at times when they need him.  I will never understand all the ways of God, but I do know He does care and will go to great lengths to reach us in whatever way we can respond.  For me, that meant a little night visitor covered in fur, perhaps even winking at me.

A Change of Plans

     When I was about 10 years old, I started going to church camp for a week every summer. Our camp was called EvUnBreth Acres, and it was in Buckhannon , West Virginia -- a small town in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains and a beautiful location for a camp.There was a peaceful lake with rowboats and a  big chapel with blue stained glass windows. The year I graduated from high school, my pastor volunteered to direct a camp there, and when he invited me to go back to camp as a counselor, I was glad for another opportunity to spend time at one of my favorite places. We had a great week, and I hoped I could go back again after my first year in college. I was about to go off to college at West Virginia University in the fall, and planned to become a physical therapist. I had dreamed of working in the medical field ever since I read the "Cherry Ames, Student Nurse" book in junior high school.
     I don't exactly remember how it happened -- it's been a LONG time ago --but after my freshman year, I got a summer job as counselor again -- this time as a paid job ($35./ week!)for the whole summer.  I'm sure my pastor had something to do with it -- thank you, Rev. Bragg! Anyway, it was one of the best times of my life -- there were many times when I felt so close to God -- during morning devotions outside under a tree, sitting in the chapel with the blue light streaming through the windows, rowing across the lake for a Galilean service -- and I cried when the summer was over. 
    Something happened that summer, though -- I knew that my dreams of a career in physical therapy were fading, and I would be changing my major to education. I can remember the moment when I realized that the camp kids were looking to me for leadership, and suddenly I had the confidence to step out of my comfort zone and become the leader. It was a wonderful feeling to know that I could influence those children, and I knew that God had just changed my career plans. Little did I know that a large part of my teaching career would be spent home-schooling my own children as we moved to Germany and back with my soldier husband.  I am so grateful for the Godwinks at EvUnBreth Acres -- my life was changed in more ways than one -- but that's another story...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My Mother's Godwink

My mother became a believer when I was too young to understand, but I loved hearing the story.  I don't know all the details, and there is no one left to ask, but this is what I know.  She evidently prayed for assurance that God had heard her prayer for salvation.  Like Gideon in the Bible, she asked for a sign.  She didn't tell anyone that night, but she asked God to let her hear a fire siren in the morning to let her know that she was really saved. We lived in a small town in rural West Virginia -- population about 350 -- so we rarely heard the sound of a siren there since the nearest fire station was several miles away. And, like Gideon, she thought that could actually happen by coincidence, so she added one more requirement.  The second sign would be for my dad to ask her about the weather -- something that also was not common.  The next morning, she woke up to the sound of a siren, and Daddy turned over and asked her "What's the weather like today?" She said she "shouted all the way to Grandad's house!" Now, I guess that could have been a "coincidence" but you would never have been able to convince Mother that it was anything other than a direct message from God -- telling her that she really was His child.  Her faith remained unshakable for the rest of her life, and many, many lives were touched by her faith through some really hard times.  When her prayers for healing from breast cancer seemed to be unanswered, she said that she knew God heard the prayers of all the people who were praying for her, and she just had to trust His plan, even though it was not our desire. I think that "Godwink" she felt back in the '50's carried her through the rest of her life.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

When God Winks

            
        I'm reading a little book that I got at Dollar General this week called,"When God Winks at You." It made me remember a wink from my Mema Frazier a long, LONG time ago -- just a little thing, but she was looking directly at me and sending a message that no one else saw.  It made me smile just thinking about it.  The author says,"Every time you receive what some call a coincidence or an answer prayer, it's a direct and personal message of reassurance from God to you -- what I call a godwink." Out of all the billions of people in the world, He is making a direct personal connection to ME -- He KNOWS me and cares about me -- and is sending a silent communication -- like a wink -- to let me know.
So I've been thinking about those times in my life when I experienced that "coincidence" -- and seeing it in a different way.
The first Godwink I remember happened when I was a little girl in grade school, probably. My dad was out of work, again -- and there were 6 of us in the family depending on his paycheck.  Mother asked me to pray that Daddy would get a job, so I earnestly asked God to please give my daddy a job.
The next morning when I got up and asked where Daddy was, Mother said he had 2 job offers that morning and was gone to work. Coincidence? Not a chance!!  That was God saying "I hear you and I want you to know that I am REAL and I care about you."  This little girl KNEW that God heard the simple prayers of a child. I intend to search my memory for more Godwinks, now that I know what to call them.  Comments are welcome -- I know I'm not the only one God has winked at, but it sure feels good to remind myself that the great God of the universe cares enough to give me these moments of assurance and certainty.