Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Eclipse

"What is man, that thou art mindful of him?" David asked this question thousands of years ago. I couldn't help thinking the same thing during the majestic eclipse all of the US was privileged to see.

Suddenly we were aware of our own helplessness, except for the mercies of God! If the sun were blacked out more than momentarily, our life on earth would cease! Plants would not grow, food would not be available, and darkness would prevail as we groped about in confusion!

Who do we think we are, with our wars, political unrest, materialism and disregard of God and His plan? Surely, if the celestial event had a message, it would be to remind us how dependent we are on His higher power!

Psalm 19 says it all:

"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. (2)Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. (3)There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. (4)Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, (5) Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

(6) His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. (7)The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. (8) The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. (9)The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

(10) More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. (11) Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. (12) Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. (13) Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. (14) Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer."

Amen!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

First-Aid

Ouch! I poked my finger with the sharp end of a knife trying to open a plastic-packaged item. There was only a droplet of blood, so I rinsed it off and didn't think much about it. Until the middle of the night when it felt definitely sore. By morning, it was painful and a little swollen, right below my fingernail. Belatedly, I put antibiotic ointment and a Band-Aid on it. Not only was it uncomfortable and worrisome, it stuck out like a sore thumb, er..finger, ruining the look of my nail polish!

While we were in Houston last week, my daughter-in-love took my granddaughters and me for a girls' day out. We visited the nail salon! I loved my manicure! The kids each got a mani-pedi for back-to-school, and their mother chose a pedicure. Anyway, my blemish had taken on a dark-red color that definitely didn't go with coral shellac! Thankfully, it's all better now.

The same thing had happened to me a week or so before. Same scenario, using the sharp point of a knife to cut open a stubborn, plasticized container! The only difference being that I took action then and immediately washed, applied ointment and a Band-Aid to my pierced finger on the other hand. Didn't even get sore!

Reflecting on these little incidents, I thought about how a bad deed, mistake, or sin, if not repented of or made right, can fester and grow out of proportion, like a swollen injury. But if repenting, apologizing or setting things right is done right away, as in the example of caring for the injured finger immediately, it need not even leave a scar!

Jesus addresses a situation in Matthew 5:23 dealing with an immediate setting-to-rights example. "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; (24) Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."

Guilt or a heavy conscience can mar relationships not only with man, but with God as well! We are also told in scripture, "Don't let the sun go down on your wrath," Ephesians 4:26.`And my advice is, Don't go to bed with an un-tended problem, be it a cut finger or something bigger. Take care of it, the sooner the better!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Feeding the Flock

"Give me 42 kolaches," I thought I heard my daughter-in-law Tammy say, in addition to her order for all us in the car. We were on our way to church, where son Jamie was already, preparing for his Youth Sunday School Class. Later, after we had eaten our food in the café area, I found out the purpose of the bag of sausage- and ham-stuffed rolls.

Jamie had asked Howard to give his testimony for the youth in an interview with his dad. Meanwhile, after we climbed the stairs and entered the youth area, we were surprised to see a number of pool tables and passed through a darkened hallway lit only by sparkly, twinkling lights. A teenage musician was giving a trip report when we walked in, and then Jamie began the song service. A worship service, really.

"All of you come to the front," he instructed the youth. "C'mon, c'mon," he admonished them as they were soon obediently all up front standing before the platform. They attentively sang and worshipped together. I had never seen a Sunday School class like this!

As the youth took their seats, they were told it was time for breakfast. So that was what all those kolaches and bottles of water were for! "Girls go first, then the guys," he said, as they eagerly tramped to the food tables, got their kolaches, then ate them sitting in their seats to hear Howard's words.

My husband began telling of visions he had had in the hospital while in recovery after heart surgery last year. They listened intently when Howard told them he had seen Jesus three times, and had had 10 visions. In one in particular, he described vividly how beautiful heaven is, and also that he saw people entering heaven. "They were floating down like Mary Poppins, landing gracefully, then when they recognized where they were, they began to dance joyfully in glad realization that they were home!"

At one point in his interview, Howard related how uncomfortable he was in recovery, and he knew he still had physical therapy facing him. He had heard that it was strenuous and was dreading it immensely. In his weakened state, he even told God to take him home! He said he had felt the Lord's presence so strongly that he wanted to leave this world. I remember he said, "Call Greg," our son. What I didn't know was that he was going to give him instructions about his demise!

"No, Dad, you're not going to die. I will help you get through this," Greg assured him. And he did!

(Coincidentally, later in the morning service during the pastor's message, he spoke about his recent emergency surgery and difficult recovery. "I told God I was ready, and I wanted to go home," he admitted. "Thank God my other half wouldn't have that!" he said as he shook his head.)

How gratifying it was to us as parents to be able to attend church and worship with these kids and grandkids! Now that we're home from Houston, it seems almost like a vision of my own!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Foundational!

We loved the brown leather sofa we bought several years ago. Our son, Jamie, advised that we use non-textile furniture due to my allergies, and that is largely what we have done. The only problem with our sofa was that while it was still new, one end of a spring sprang loose from its foundation. Service men from the store came out and fixed it, but it has been problematic for some time.

Getting used to the inconvenience as we often do, I tolerated it and plumped it up with extra pillows and cushions. It was probably puzzling to guests when they were asked to sit at either end of the sofa, never in the middle!

Then our adept and competent son, Greg, heard me complaining about it the other day, and in a matter of minutes had the piece of furniture turned upside down, saying he could fix it. He and his engineer son, Adam, examined and evaluated what they would need to repair the piece, then left to come back shortly with a collection of tools.

Soon they were sweating, pulling, hammering and practically re-building the underpinnings and foundation of the couch! After several trial and error attempts, they pronounced it finished. I was amazed when they turned it upright and it was a non-sagging, evenly cushioned, place of relaxation! Praise God for help from family!

I thought about the story Jesus told of the house that was built upon a rock, its solid foundation. When the storms came, it stood strong, while the house built upon shifting sands collapsed and fell. Everything that lasts must start with a good foundation. We endeavor to provide good, stable homes for our children so that they may grow up secure with a strong foundation for their beliefs, conduct and way of life.

Sadly, many in our world do not have this. Thankfully, we support efforts to minister to those in adverse and dire circumstances throughout the world with our givings personally or through the church and other ministries, with the purpose of reaching them with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 28:16 assures us, "Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste." (be forced to leave.) Thank God for our foundation, Jesus Christ!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ever-present Help in Tiime of Need

I had a sinking feeling as I digested my son's words. To my question as to whether he would meet us as planned at our 3-hour layover in Ft. Worth, he replied, "No, I can't do that. I have to work." Several times before when we had taken the Amtrak train to visit our youngest son's family in Houston, Trevor met us there and took us to lunch and a brief sight-seeing tour to pass the time.

I told him that was fine, since it would've meant a long drive for him anyway, but inside, I was panicking. How I dreaded us struggling with bulky luggage (I always pack too much), pulling it nearly half a block, over tracks, and finally to the train station to wait out the hours, then repeating the process and boarding again! We hadn't done that since Howard's heart surgery several months ago, and I was concerned.

That morning while we waited at the station to begin our trek homeward after an eventful week at son Jamie's house, we kept getting updates that the train was running late. Actually, we didn't mind, since that would reduce our waiting time at Ft. Worth, where we would board The Heartland Flyer for the remainder of our trip back to Oklahoma.

We settled in for the ride, going to the observation car for awhile, enjoying the scenic view of big sky, West-Texas hill country. Finally we decided to get something to eat, although the prices on trains are triple anywhere else. (We had brought food for the trip going down, but we soon tired of it and ate in the dining car as a splurge.) This time we visited the Cafe' and it helped pass the time.

As we were nearing our stop, I was surprised to hear Howard inquiring of an attendant if there was a porter or anyone who could help us with our bags. Incredibly, she said, "Yes, we have a "People Mover." I had seen luggage on carts on previous trips, but I always assumed they were for a long-distance baggage car! As soon as we got off the train, they sent the vehicle for us and our luggage, which they held for us. We couldn't believe it! They even came and got us when The Heartland Flyer arrived and took us and the luggage to the boarding area.

That was an answer to prayer! Howard told me that he had prayed earlier that we would get help! And to think it was available all along! I couldn't help but think about how Jesus wants us to call on Him, for he will bear our burdens. We go along struggling over heavy loads of worry, troubles, or anticipated problems, when if we will only ask, He will carry our baggage!

Despite the lost time due to heavy rail traffic, we made it to our destination right on the dot! We were met by our son Greg who saw us safely the rest of the way home. Jesus will do the same!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Happy Birthday, Corrin!

I rocked her as a newborn, caring for her at only a few weeks old when my daughter, Amy, returned to her nursing job. How well I remember giving baby Corrin her two-ounce bottle, cradling the warm little bundle on one hand and patting her back with the other until I heard the requisite burp, then holding the second tiny bottle that would complete her feeding. She felt like my own baby! But when her parents came home from work, I readily relinquished the precious bundle and fell exhausted on the sofa. Who knew how hard it would be!

We had moved back from a couple years stint in Wichita, Kansas, where Howard was on staff at a large church, serving as Senior's Pastor. But we missed our Mississippi home, and our kids needed a baby-sitter. I loved it! It was a joy to watch little Corrin grow. I would put her down for a nap on our large bed, lying down beside her while she wriggled and blinked for a few minutes before those lashes over her beautiful brown eyes drooped in slumber.

It wasn't long before she was learning to crawl, imitating three-year-old big brother Reid, as he mimicked her on all fours, rocking back and forth. He would become her idol throughout her childhood, enduring his reckless foibles, such as the time the told her to turn around, then shot her in the back with his BB gun! No matter, she would put on his jeans and try to be just like him.

Corrin was quiet and shy in pre-school, but behind that furrowed brow, she was a thinker. When she was four, she and brother Reid attended a VBS at the church we were by then pastoring. On commencement night, she stood stolid and bored-looking on the platform, not singing or participating. I was convinced she hadn't gotten anything from the lessons, the theme of which was "Brave Believers," patterned after heroes of the Bible.

A couple of weeks later, Amy and I were in our pasture with Corrin and little sister Rachel, 2, when we heard the pounding thuds of the two resident horses galloping toward us at full speed. Amy grabbed Rachel, calling Corrin as we rushed for the gate. Abruptly, the horses came to a halt, and we looked back to see her raven-haired daughter holding up a stick in front of the steeds, manes still flowing from their sudden stop. She had stopped them in their tracks!

"How did you do that, Corrin?" I questioned in astonishment, to which she replied, "I'm a brave believer!"

When she was six, Corrin was reading from her children's Bible, and one day told me she was up to the story of the "Drinking Queen." I found the place and saw it was titled, "The Daring Queen," Esther.

From going on her first mission trip to an Indian reservation in New Mexico at age 10, to becoming a college junior at a Christian university, our granddaughter has been making us proud. Now she seems to have met "Mr. Right," so we can only imagine the next step in her future. Happy 20th birthday, little one!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Musing Through Memories

My sister Pauline was a bit of a tomboy. The second oldest, of which both were girls, I think she was a sort of Daddy's 'boy,' until his sons came along, anyway.  At any rate, she grew up brave and adventurous.  Almost 9 years younger, I can still see her up in the top of a pecan tree shaking the branches so the rest of us kids could gather the treasured harvest.

Daddy had been away for a long trip to California, and she was the one who heralded his homecoming from the pecan tree-top.  "I see Daddy!" she shouted, to our happy surprise. Later, she would accompany him there where both found work in Buena Park.  I think that created a life-long fondness for going out west.

Pauline was widowed at the tender age of 25, when the father of her three young children died unexpectedly from a heart attack.  Summoning all her strength and courage, she held her family together while restlessly seeking a new beginning. The spunky young mother, kids in tow, stoically drove several times to California where she had Christian friends and a warm welcome.

My dear sister took Jesus as her savior as a young teen, and was fervent for the Lord her entire life, becoming an ordained minister who even established churches. It was she who took me to church for the first time when I was about five years old, getting me there as often as she could.

It was at that small, country church that the impressionable youth learned the hymns and gospel songs that she loved to sing. Somewhere along the way Pauline picked up the guitar, which was the perfect accompaniment to her lovely, lilting voice. At some point, the talented young woman made professional recordings and CD's, a stash of which was found after her passing. I have been given one to treasure.

Pauline's entrepreneurial bent found her starting several businesses and enterprises, some of which were more successful than others. In later years, as my sister's load lightened, so did her mood and personality. She was funny! She loved to joke and make other people laugh. Her wonderful sense of humor endeared her to us all. Her songs in her own voice surrounded us in the prelude to her funeral. She was singing about heaven. I've no doubt that she is there, maybe even making the angels smile!