Monday, November 29, 2010

God's Good Earth

“Summers! Summers!” somebody was yelling as we walked into the Heritage Homestead Fair near Waco, Texas. We were visiting an Amish-type farm and craft event with some of our kids the day after Thanksgiving. Who could be calling us? Turns out they were calling our son, Jamie’s family, who was staying with us and other family members in Waxahachie, Texas. It was their Houston best friends! Neither family knew the other would be there that day, but they were the first people we met! It’s a four hour drive from Houston, so what were the chances they would run into each other at that moment in a throng of hundreds of people?

We had met their friends on several occasions and were delighted to finally see the latest additions they had made to their family: two little girls from China, ages two and four, the youngest having arrived only a few months ago. An older girl of six or seven had been adopted from there a few years back, adding to their original family of four children. The Chinese children were startlingly beautiful, with their porcelain skin and jet black hair framing doll-like faces. Their own red-haired daughter says she is big sister to my titian-haired baby granddaughter, Maddie.

We had a wonderful day at the Fair, watching a demonstration of corn being ground by a horizontal propane engine into cornmeal (fine), grits (coarse), and chicken feed (rough chop). Then we toured a working water wheel grist mill and saw the grain ground by a mill stone. Of course, we had to buy products from there, including cookie mix made from milled oats and sorghum syrup from cane. We saw a farming demonstration of a pair of mules turning the soil with a plow guided by a farmer on a two-wheeled spring seat.

Mules later pulled a big hay wagon we rode on to tour the property, the high point of which was when we were allowed to dismount the wagon to view a scenic overlook high on a bluff. The bucolic scene below of neatly laid out fields and pastures with a cozy farmhouse tucked in one corner was enough to make one want to join the religious community.

In the crafts pavilion, we were fascinated to see the journey of flax and cotton through a carding process, curled into a spool that would be placed on a spinning wheel to be spun into thread. Then we could see the thread being woven on a loom into dish towels. The residents of the community made the everyday essentials that can be found in any home: dishes, brooms, baskets, furniture, clothing, linens, boots, and food products. They portrayed a simple, wholesome, if somewhat cloistered, Christian lifestyle. In their plain, modest clothes and cosmetic-free faces, everyone seemed peaceful and happy. So refreshing to us in our hurried outside world.

But Jesus didn’t call us to come out of the world, but to go into all the world and preach the gospel. Although the early church tried the communal lifestyle in the beginning, they were soon scattered by persecution, inadvertently spreading the gospel with their dispersion. Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16, that we are the light of the world, and a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Preserving the old ways and living a simple life style are admirable, but we can be salt and light wherever we live, even bringing a bit of the mission field home with us, as in rescuing orphans from China. It is His world, and he has us sprinkled like salt all over it, sometimes bumping us into each other in the most unexpected places.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?

Oh, good, it’s not going to be cold tomorrow, I thought Saturday, when thinking about church clothes for Sunday. I could wear a transitional dress with a jacket I hadn’t worn since last fall. But when I got up Sunday morning, it was almost summer-like outside. A cotton-blend dress that I had would work better. I put it on, glad to have a chance to wear the stylish outfit I liked so much, a brown dress with a brown, three-quarter length jacket covered in big white polka dots with huge brown buttons down the front and on the cuffs of the sleeves.

We got into the car and headed for church. What’s this? I wondered, as I was settling into my seat and saw a strap flapping at my wrist. I tucked it into its loop and reached to button it. The button was gone! Oh, no! It was too late to go back home and change, so I hoped the loop would hold the strap and no one would notice that my cuffs didn’t match.

How long had the button been gone? Placed near the back of the cuff, it would have been hard to notice it missing. As soon as I got a chance today, I started looking for it. Maybe it had dropped onto the closet floor. Searching the floor and under a shoe rack with a flashlight, I noticed several things, but not the button. Here was a pretty top I hadn’t seen all summer slipped off it’s hanger and behind something. Seeing various shoes and hangers on the floor, I knew I had to clean it out. Organizing is my least favorite thing to do, but my husband’s favorite.

“Howard, would you help me with this closet?” I called, since he was home today and reading on the porch. In his own good time, he tackled the chore, getting bogged down in a carton of books stored since we’d moved here. But alas! No button. I looked in my button box and found one that was the right size, but it was blue. I searched the jewelry box and found a pair of buttons, one huge and one small, in a plastic packet that must have come attached to some new garment, but they were gray.

We usually don’t think of a necessary item like a button as a luxury, but I think they used to be considered as such. I remember reading in Tom Sawyer, how Aunt Polly used a needle and thread to fasten Tom’s shirt. And I used to hear my dad talk about when he was a boy, they “tacked” the opening of clothing together with a needle and thread--kind of sewing them into a garment! The Amish don’t always use buttons, instead using snaps or hooks and eyes, or even sewing or using pins as less showy fasteners. (When I was little, I would see my father make a simple lock, called a button, for a shed door--or even one in the old farm house--with a strip of wood nailed to the facing and twisted across the door to hold it secure. “Button that door!” was a common command from him back then.)

Well, buttons are certainly a necessity today, and a fashion ornamentation, as well. I didn’t find mine, but maybe by Spring, which will probably be as soon as I wear the outfit again, I’ll have found it, or at least a suitable replacement. We did fill a bag for charity with several purses, shoes and articles of rarely worn clothing. And, I have a clean closet, so all is not lost. Only the button!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

To Sow a Seed

How fascinating it is to realize that everything happens for a reason and that the smallest detail is important to God! I heard an amazing thing yesterday that happened several years ago, but has significant impact today. British Evangelist Nathan Morris, who is leading the great revival meeting in Mobile, Alabama, was asked in an interview about how he came to be a minister. He said that his parents were visiting the United States from England on a vacation some 15 years ago and were walking down the street of an American city. His father, a pastor and avid Christian, was wearing a t-shirt with “JESUS” emblazoned across the front. A passerby noticed it, stopped and said, “There’s a revival in Pensacola! You should go!”

They did go and discovered the mighty move of God that was going on at the Brownsville Church. On a return trip to the U.S., they brought their teen son, Nathan, to the revival. He had an encounter with God that would later propel him into the international ministry he has today! Now thousands, if not millions, are being impacted for Christ by this young man. All because of a t-shirt, you might say! We forget the effect that we have on others by the things we do or say, intentionally or unintentionally. We might think it a little thing just to hand out or leave a gospel tract on a table or in a public place.

During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, an official from the American Bible Society visited our church in Gulfport, Mississippi, to interview my husband as a local pastor involved in hurricane outreach. Upon leaving, he left a sizable donation in appreciation of the work there. In a private moment, he confided to Howard that he at one time had been lost spiritually, living as a street person. A man in a park one day handed him a gospel tract, which he later read and accepted the message of Christ. This dignified and well-spoken black man was obviously a bright light for Jesus, as a result of being given a tract.

Praying a blessing over your food at a restaurant, routinely leaving your house for church carrying a Bible, honest dealings in business--all can be a witness for Christ. Someone once said, “You are not invisible.” Possibly we think we live in anonymity just because we may not know many people, but you are soon known by your smile, your attitude, your habits, or even your general demeanor. The Bible says, “Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not,” Galatians 6:9. When is due season? Only God knows. It may take a short time, or a lifetime, but we may be sure that from tiny seeds, a harvest will come.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


“Oh, before you leave, I just wanted to tell you something,” the owner of the Christian bookstore we were in yesterday commented. “A customer was in here the other day, and he told me that your church had prayed for us when he was in service recently!” We have a custom of praying for a missionary and a local pastor and church or ministry every Sunday morning, and my husband had named the bookstore as he led in prayer that day. They have a regular prayer meeting and special speakers in a large room at the back of their store. “The man was so excited about that,” she went on, “and so touched that he had tears in his eyes.”

“That’s remarkable,” Howard responded, “Just yesterday someone told me something similar. I had met some people from another church at a function one night last week, and I mentioned their church in prayer on Sunday.” He went on, “I didn’t know some of them were present that morning visiting with family who attends, until I was told how pleased they were that we had prayed for them and their pastor.”

“You know just a few words of prayer or thoughtfulness go a long way,” our friend remarked, “you never know the effect of just a little seed that is planted and how it might affect someone.” She went on to explain that she makes it a practice to pray a blessing over each Bible that is sold in her store. She said that one day as she was doing that, a customer came in, but rather than quit praying, she went on, while the customer busied himself browsing through books. Later, he seemed a little stand-offish, and she wondered if she had offended him.

A few days later, a lady came in and bought a Bible. As she was thanked and handed the purchase and receipt, the woman hesitated and said, “Aren’t you going to pray? My friend was here the other day and said he heard you praying over a Bible.” The man had been paying attention, after all!

She told of another time when she had been working on bookkeeping upstairs when her employee called up to her that a person wanted a blessing prayed on the Bible she had just bought. Since the proprietor was recovering from a car accident injury and not wanting to go back down the stairs, she responded to the cashier, herself a devout Christian, “Well, I’m in the middle of something, so you go ahead and pray.” The customer quickly called out, “No! I want you to pray!” Turns out that several of her family had received her prayer-blessings on their Bibles, and she didn’t want to break the chain of continuity.

“Pastors are always being called upon to pray for others,” the bookstore owner reflected, “So it probably meant a lot for that pastor to hear that you had prayed for him the other day. I know it meant a lot to me,” she concluded.

We know from what Jesus said in the Bible that prayers don’t have to be long to be effective, Matthew 6:5-7. It is not our much speaking and vain repetitions that he desires. A simple prayer from the heart is worth more than all the flowery words, and a little does go a long way.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Skype! Yikes!

What a wonderful surprise I had yesterday! My son was fiddling with and manipulating my computer by remote, and he hooked me up with Skype! Suddenly I was in their living room seeing my 3-year-old granddaughter face-to-face and having a conversation with her! We talked about her 4th birthday coming up (“I’m having a Sweet Pea birthday cake, and my party is at the zoo!”), her playmates (“Gabe won’t marry me because he’s mad!”). Then she thrust her doll into view (“It’s Barbie, from Toy Story 3!”) Her enormous blue eyes lit up as she went on, “I want to tell you about my dream! I dreamed my friends were over, then I couldn’t find them!”

I asked her if she wanted to go to school, now that she was turning four. “Actually,” she said, “I do go to school at my church. We have praise and worship! And we have snacks!”

“Do you practice letters and numbers?” I asked her, to which her reply was, “Well, 3’s are kind of hard. They are…uh…different.”

I hadn’t seen their family much this summer, but briefly in Tennessee for a family wedding a couple of months ago. I don’t think I even had a conversation with her then, busy as she was dashing around with cousins. It’s amazing how fast kids change. Here she was, articulate, animated, dimpled smile flashing and blonde curls bouncing. Be still, my heart! If baby Maddie hadn’t been asleep, it would have been double the fun.

Later that evening when PaPa was home, we got on Skype again. This time 19-month-old Maddie was in on the fun, if escaping to distant corners of the room in pursuit of some elusive toy. At one point, they got on a battery-powered 4-wheeler and zipped around riding double. I remembered when Maddie had received that as a first-birthday present, and, standing beside it, she turned the ignition and hung on for dear life as it took off with her. She must have grown into it a bit by now.

“I forgot to tell you something about my dream,” Anne-Marie announced, coming into view, then, distracted, the moment was lost. We are looking forward to our trip to see them as we meet at our son, Trevor’s, house, for Thanksgiving. An outing to an Amish Homestead Fair is planned for Friday following the holiday. With the petting zoo, carriage rides, craft exhibitions, and musical performances, I’m sure it will be a wonderful excursion for one and all. Until then, I can see them on Skype, and maybe Anne-Marie will remember more of her dream. Meanwhile, she and her little sister will populate mine.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Do You Remember?

Now where were those pickles? Peering behind everything in the refrigerator, I couldn’t see them. I had made grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for lunch, and I remembered the dill slices we had bought. I could just imagine their crisp, salty flavor with the melted cheese of the sandwiches. “Howard,” I called to my husband as he sat on the porch swing waiting to eat, “did you put those pickles somewhere when we unpacked the groceries?”

I got a negative answer, and I mentally retraced my steps as we’d come in from the store the other day. I remembered my hands were full, and as I juggled loops of plastic bags in my hands, one slipped and I heard an ominous, dull thud on the sidewalk with the tinkle of broken glass. Looking down to see a greenish-yellow liquid seeping from the grocery bag, I realized I’d broken the jar of pickles--the only breakable thing in the bag! Like a revelation it had come back to me! This was the first time I’d thought of it! Well, we had sweet gherkins with our sandwiches, and they weren’t too bad.

A couple of days ago as we were pulling out from a place of business, someone pointed out that we had a low tire. The next morning we got up and it was flat. Turns out we would have to replace the tire. On the way to the tire center, Howard had me remove paperwork from the glove compartment with receipts and information on our tires’ history. When he presented them for warranty coverage, he found he had the right papers for three of the tires, but not for the one we needed. A further search at home revealed another record of tire replacement, but, alas, it was not the right one either.

On the way home after getting the new tire mounted , I asked Howard why he was so convinced it was covered by warranty. He said he remembered it wasn’t that long ago that he had bought it. He became irritated with my questioning, though, as I tried to make him retrace the circumstances of buying the tire. Then his face lit up. “I remember! It was when we were in Houston, and Jamie and I went to Sam’s Club and bought it!” Now he was glad I’d prompted his memory. Calling our son, Jamie, however, corrected this recollection. Jamie said they had indeed gone to Sam’s, but ended up buying it at Walmart.

Our memories are unpredictable and not infallible. Stress clouds our thoughts, and just when we need presence of mind most, we can become fuzzy in our thinking. Thankfully, God is the same, yesterday, today and forever, the great I AM. James 1:17 says that there is no shadow or variableness of turning with Him. He is our Constant. His Word says that if even our mother forgets us, He will not. We are inscribed on the palms of His hands, Isaiah 49:16. A beautiful picture of the scars of Jesus. May we never forget that!


“What are you doing?” I screeched at my husband. “You’re ruining the cake!” I had just put down the phone to realize he was carrying the three small bags of groceries with the cake we had bought for our church fellowship slipped sideways in the bag. I could see the layer was askew on the base, with frosting all over the inside of the plastic dome. Closer inspection showed it must have been upside down, since exactly half the frosting was peeled back, now stuck to the top of the container, and stripping bare that half of the cake top. “Just like a man,” I fumed. The phone had rung inside my purse just as we were loading the groceries, and I talked to my daughter until we’d come into the house.

We had stopped at the store to get cream cheese for a spread I was making with some special herbs we had at home to serve with crackers. I was pondering that it would be a skimpy snack contribution tonight, when I saw the beautiful single-layer bakery cakes with the luscious-looking chocolate frosting at a tiny price. I guessed we would have to keep the now-spoiled cake for ourselves, and I went to work on the cracker tray, using the grapes we had bought to fill it out a bit. I repaired the cake as best I could, shoving it in the fridge, and went to sit down and settle my nerves.

When it was time to go, I looked at the cake, now firmed up and looking better, and it occurred to me to slice it up and see how it looked. I got out a pretty cake stand, overlapping the wedges of cake on top, and it didn’t look half bad. The red swirls in the chocolate of the re-cycled icing were less evident with focus on the glistening dark cake. I couldn’t believe it when it was met with oohs and aahs as I uncovered it at church. I had already smoothed things out with my husband over my outburst, but now I was really ashamed as I remembered his crest-fallen look at my scolding. And over such a little thing, really.

During our round-table discussion at a kind of free-for-all where we were invited to ask questions prior to our lesson, our pastor’s wife brought up a question about our school supply giveaway we’d had during the summer. She had run into one of the volunteer beauticians who had helped with the free haircuts, and asked how she felt about the experience, remembering how she had built it up as such a rewarding thing to participate in such an event. The young woman told her she didn’t know if she would do it again, as she was turned off by the shabby treatment the hairdressers received from some of the recipients’ parents, and the sense of entitlement she noticed among them. Pastor’s wife wanted feedback from our workers of what they’d picked up, which was largely different from the haircutter’s report.

I thought about our motivation for doing things for others. Is it for self-gratification? If so, we are often disappointed. The Bible tells us that whatever we do, we are to do it as unto the Lord, Colossians 3:23. It is hard to expect nothing in return for our efforts, but even Jesus was, and still is, mostly rejected and unappreciated. Some day all of our works will be judged, and many will be burned up as worthless, depending upon whether they were built on the proper foundation, and perhaps, even on the motivation behind them. Food for thought.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Anne-Marie, who won’t be four for another week-and-a-half, is catching on fast. Our granddaughter is learning to spell. (As far as I know, she isn’t reading yet, although that may be another of her hidden talents.) Recently, her parents were discussing some family activities, and not wanting to involve her in the conversation, they used a technique common to parents--spelling key words. “Should we go I-C-E S-K-A-T-I-N-G?” Jamie said to Tammy. Anne-Marie piped up, “I wanna go ice-skating!” Her astounded parents tried again.“Or should we go see “B-E-A-U-T-Y AND THE B-E-A-S-T?” he asked. His daughter jumped up and down and shouted,“Beauty and the Beast!”

I was sharing this nugget of grandmotherly pride with our pastor’s wife last night, whose little girl will be four in a couple of months. We often compare notes about the children’s antics. She told me that when her daughter was even younger, she asked her mother about the letter “u” in a word. When the letter was identified for her, the 3-year-old said, “Oh, H-O-U-S-E, that spells “house!”

That reminded me of the time when Anne-Marie was around two-and-a-half, and, pointing to a bar of soap on the bathtub, she said to her mother, “Look, Mommy,
D-I-A-L!” These are instances of the old expression about learning being caught, rather than taught. The kiddies’ language skills, extending even to print, are developing by leaps and bounds, starting before we even realize it. One of our sons, then a little more than two years old, saw a newspaper page I had dropped on the floor while reading the paper, and said, “Mama, that says, ‘CHURCH’,” pointing to the big block letters ‘CH’ in an ad. Actually, it said CHICKEN, 39 CENTS/LB, but he was on the right track. He had often noticed the word CHURCH on a lighted sign in front of our house of worship and recognized the similarity.

Years ago, when my niece’s children were small, she was putting away groceries and said to her husband, “Where did you put the C-A-N-D-Y?” Her pre-school son looked up brightly and said, “I want some of that sandy-candy!” repeating the sound of her spelling and giving them an eye-opener at the same time. As adults, we often forget how quickly kids learn, not giving them enough credit and thinking of them as babies. (Until we see how glibly they can sing and repeat television ads and slogans!) Science tells us that we are hard-wired to read at about age six, but parents often get clues way ahead of time. Spiritually, kids are astute, too, having special awareness of God and His love if they are guided in that direction. “Train up a child the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it," Proverbs 22:6. It’s later than you think.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Come and Dine

“Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins,” Jesus said in Matthew 9:17, “or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined.” Not exactly what happened to me yesterday, but it reminded me of it. I had previously saved some chicken stock in a couple of pint jars in the fridge, then, not using them immediately, I put them in the freezer. Howard’s short-order lunch request yesterday was for homemade chicken soup, and I wanted to use the stock to enrich the broth.

I set the jars under hot running water as I hurriedly chopped celery, onions and carrots and thawed some chicken strips. I turned the jars upside down and shook them, but the frozen contents wouldn’t come through the mouth opening. I even turned them upside down in a colander over the boiling soup, but was only successful in emptying one jar. Putting the other back under the hot water tap, I heard a sharp crack. Like the time I poured hot tea into a glass pitcher. Still, it was only a crack, and I poked at the frozen blob with a knife. My knife made a fist size opening in the glass, the contents were lost, and the jar went into the trash. (The quick soup was delicious, any way.)

Jesus was talking, of course, about how the fresh truth of the gospel would not fit into the dead religion of Judaism. Something would have to give. I couldn’t help but think about that last night as I witnessed on the internet the powerful preaching of a young British evangelist holding a revival in Alabama, where a strong move of the Holy Spirit is taking place, with the evidence of healings, signs and wonders. He stressed the soon coming of our Lord and how people need to press in to a deeper relationship with God. Many people will not accept this, of course, preferring to stay in a stiff, cold religion that does not require anything of them.

The revival is reminiscent of the Brownsville Revival in Pensacola, Florida, that began some 15 years ago and lasted for 5 years. In fact, there are connections to that revival, in that last night’s evangelist had visited there as a youth, was touched spiritually, and later went into ministry. It is mind boggling to note the changes that have come about since then, especially in communication. We are now in the information age, able to transport at lightning speed the good news of the gospel and news of the moving of God anywhere in the world!

The Bible speaks of the time when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord! No doubt the development of the internet is in God’s timing to preach the gospel to every creature and make disciples of all nations. The warm, sweet wine of the Holy Spirit, vibrant with life, will never stay in frozen containers or brittle leather bottles, but resides in pliant new vessels, heart-shaped for love, and filled with compassion for the lost. It is more than chicken soup for the soul!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Word Fitly Spoken

Where is everybody tonight? I thought, as only a few people gathered for the Wednesday evening service. Later, from the pulpit my husband noted that some were absent for various reasons, and optimistically recalled his oft-repeated story of the “best” service he was ever in--when only 6 people were in attendance, and they had experienced a marvelous presence of the Holy Spirit. Well, there were five of us here, so that was encouraging.

It made me think of something I had read recently in a church publication that comes to our house. In one of the columns, a writer told the story of a deacon’s faithfulness. He said it was midweek service night at church, and a terrific snowstorm had moved in. The pastor couldn’t even get to the church, nor could his associate pastor. It looked as if it would be up to the deacon to deliver a sermon. He felt entirely inadequate, yet didn’t want the small number who had made it to church to miss the Word of God; so, shaking in his boots, he did his best, reading some scripture and applying some truths he felt God gave him.

At the altar call, a teenage boy who had stumbled in to take refuge from the snowstorm came forward, where “God opened his heart to the salvation message.” The faithful deacon, who had taken his text from Isaiah 45:22, had no way of knowing that the young seeker would turn out to be Charles Haddon Spurgeon, renowned preacher and author of the 19th century and still influential today.

One of the attendees last night was a lady I had never seen in midweek service before, and only sporadically on Sundays. Afterward, she lingered to talk, expressing her appreciation for the message. And a stranger showed up, too. Only God knows her felt needs and if they were met. We never know the impact we might have in a small act of obedience (which was my husband’s topic last night).

A few days ago, I had put in my blog a recounting of the story--this time by my daughter--of my grandson’s accident on a four-wheeler. Coming from his mother, it was especially moving. As I was scanning through the blogs yesterday, I noticed a comment on it that I hadn’t seen before. I quickly opened it (comments are much coveted by bloggers: for every one received, who knows how many actually read it?). It was not from any of the known followers, but from a stranger. He said he had placed a Google Alert to pick up on the phrase, “pleading the blood (of Jesus)” whenever it was mentioned in cyberspace. My daughter had told how her father had prayed for our children, “pleading the blood” over them each day, and how she made a practice of doing that for her own family. And it was flagged by this stranger, who often prayed that way, too!

That explained another comment I had received on a blog a couple of months back, this time from the North Carolina Department of Tourism! I had written about our trip through the beautiful mountains and mentioned stopping at an attraction in a certain town. The very polite and friendly comment said she, the Director of Tourism, enjoyed my story, but I had mistakenly identified a museum to be in the wrong town (actually across the street from the right city)! Evidently, her Google Alert had been for a key word pertaining to tourism.

I have always heard that the words we speak go out on sound waves which will continue forever--more conceivable now than ever before. May we say with the psalmist, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer,” Psalm 19:14.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Innocents

Kids say (and do!) the cutest things! Art Linkletter knew this and made a career of it. Their fresh take on things and their unique view and fuzzy interpretation of a confusing world is a source of fond amusement for adults, myself included.

My three-year-old granddaughter, now almost 4, loves her “coca-dot” dress and likes to eat “cretzels.” Her precocious little friend, a year or two older, was playing at her house and saw her “Jessie” cowgirl doll from Toy Story lying on the floor. It was completely undressed, and the well-brought-up little boy took the doll to his mother, shoved it in her face and declared, “INAPPROPRIATE!”

She has a 19-month-old sister who is watching her as a role model, doing everything she can to keep up. Big sister had been trying to jump rope on a video her father made of his prodigies, when Daddy asked her to sing. She began whirling and warbling, swinging her rope, when the baby, grabbing the other end of the rope, began singing into the jump rope handle, using it as a microphone, swaying and belting out unintelligible phrases.

When my own were little, they made me laugh all the time (sometimes you had to laugh to keep from crying). My five-year-old daughter came to me one day and said, “Mama, can I watch Family Few (Feud)? There’s nothing else on but soap offers.” (Her older brother called them “Soda-poppers.”)

When that same brother was a pre-schooler, one day I heard him singing his version of “Jesus Loves Me”. He rendered it, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so; N-B-Y, between-y slow, I am weak but He is strong.” He’s middle age now, but he’s still creative in music!

Once when I was in school I saw one of my younger brother’s spelling papers where he had to use “literature” in a sentence. He had written, “Our dog had a literature of pups.” I’m sure the teacher smiled at this, whether she smiled on his grade or not.

Confused or not, they will get it straight sooner or later. The pre-readers will become readers, and their world will widen beyond anything they now comprehend. In the book of Jonah, God had pity on the city of Ninevah, in which there were more than 120,000 who did not know their right hand from their left. Was this just an expression for people in darkness, or were there that many innocent children there? Either way, God was concerned and wanted Jonah to preach to them. Our children are a mission field. They will likely never be more receptive to the knowledge of God’s love than they are now. Let’s make the most of it!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Saturday Surprise

Wow! God really knows how to bless! We had wanted a big-screen television set for a long time, checking them out at Walmart and comparing prices. Still, it would be a big splurge. Maybe for Christmas. Then Saturday at an estate sale we saw a 37” flat screen table model for $150. Howard put a bid on it for $100, and our bid was accepted! It has great color and we really like it. But finding a place to put it was a problem. This couldn’t go in either of our small bedrooms, and since it was not a thin-line model, we couldn’t put it over the fireplace or bookcase in our living room.

The only other alternative was to put it on a tall, bistro-type table occupying one corner of the front room. The table itself was almost too big for the living room; we bought it several years ago for a special dining area in the large house we had in Mississippi. The legs are massive, making it heavy and awkward to move. We seldom use it for eating, since we aren’t always in the mood to hike ourselves up on the tall chairs, instead using the table we have had for nearly 50 years in the dining room.

“Where are you going to put this?” our son, Greg, asked as he was preparing to help unload the (nearly) impossibly heavy tv set. As I cleared off the table, he noticed the leaf in it, called a butterfly leaf, that we had never been able to figure out. The table has remained full size ever since we’ve had it.

“You can’t make it smaller,” I told him, “the leaf won’t fold down.” Not to be deterred, he tugged it open, crawled under and inspected it, then pushed the divided leaf, hard. It folded, and, voila! it pushed closed! Now the table was much smaller, making it just right for the tv and giving us much-needed space in the living room! Thank you, Lord! And thank you, Greg!

We had been looking forward to watching a special revival service on the internet that night, but we discovered that in changing the cable to the new set, Greg had disconnected the internet. We would get him to fix it the next day when they came over for Sunday dinner. Disappointed, we turned on the new television set just in time to see the “Precious Memories” logo of a Gaither Homecoming coming on. It turned out to be a wonderful program featuring The Crabb Family, whom we had seldom watched before. It felt like revival in our living room as they sang under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, in full screen and living color!

In Her Own Words, The Rest of the Story..Amy Nix

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness," Lamentations 3:22-24. It was early Saturday morning, and my son, Reid, had to get an early start. Swim team for the high school had contributed to Reid's "turning over a whole new leaf", so to speak. Since when did my 16 year old want to get up at 6 am on a Saturday? It didn't matter to me. I was glad to see his new-found fervor for school and its activities. He seemed to be excelling at so much lately. I was so proud of him and his determination.

Off into the darkness we traveled, first stopping for a quick breakfast, then off to school to meet the bus for the ride to a nearby town where he was to practice in their large pool. I felt kind of sorry for him. It was 40 degrees outside, and he had on a wet swim suit under his sweat pants. I had not seen to it that it had been dried from the previous evening's practice. Sometimes I felt like my mothering was lacking. I was so involved in work and the demands of home, things were often slipping around the house and with the kids. Well, it was Saturday, anyway, and I felt optimistic about the day. Saturday was my favorite day of the week--no surprise there.

As I watched Reid join all of his friends, clad in sweatshirts with boggans on their heads, I just grinned. I began to call out to God, thanking him for my precious son. He was our only boy, the first of three children. They are all truly the most precious gifts that we could have ever been given...the "air in my lungs," I have often thought. I've heard it said that mothers have a special bond with their sons. Sounds pretty corny, really, but I could identify. Although Reid is growing up and he thinks that I am way out of touch with his world, I still often think of him as that firecracker of a toddler, hair bouncing freely around his face and those two white chiclet teeth, just a little bit too big for his mouth. He was my little pal.

I always remember my Dad praying for us. He always told me that every day he claimed the 91st Psalm, one of protection, over each one of us, and that he would plead the blood of Jesus over us and our lives. It had become a common practice for me over my own children, but this morning, I really called out to God more earnestly than I had in a long time. I wept and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving, but couldn't ignore a nagging fear of loss. A fear of loss... such a heavy burden. Thank you, God, for my son, my daughters, my husband. But why such a fear of loss? I began to pray for divine protection, wisdom, and guidance in Reid's life, feeling most threatened for him, sixteen years old...driving a car, experiencing so many new things.

I rebuked the devourer, Satan. Finally, giving it all to God, I told Him that I trusted Him. I cannot live in fear. I know that "God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind." I know of so many who had suffered loss, and still somehow gave God the glory. My prayer was for God to keep Reid, but to help me trust him no matter what. I continued my prayer for my daughters and my husband, still holding Reid in the back of my mind. I was driving into the driveway now, making a long mental list of things to do that day. We would pick Reid up at 11.

The day didn't go as planned, of course, and I was becoming frustrated when we still had not gotten our errands done by noon. Besides, I was getting a headache, quickly growing out of the mood to shop. Giving in to my husband, I got up and we headed to town. I wanted to buy some mums and pumpkins for a fall arrangement, and a new picture to hang over Reid's bed in his newly-painted room. Finally at Hobby Lobby, we found the perfect picture. It reminded us of Reid, a silhouette of a couple of surfers waiting for the ultimate wave. His sister, Corrin, confirmed that we should get it after she sent a snapshot of the picture to Reid via her phone, getting his approval. We would soon be on our way home.

It wasn't half an hour later we were standing in line at the checkout when Shannon's phone rang. My eyes grew large when I heard him asking questions about an accident and agreeing to meeting at a nearby emergency room. "Reid has had an accident on the
Polaris and has a gash on his head," was his terse response to my alarmed expression. We had taken him to a friend's house earlier on the way to town, and certainly, they couldn't resist riding the ATV, as they had done so many times before. Ok, I kept my cool, thinking that perhaps it was an over-exaggeration. I wasn't one to over react, especially with all I had seen in my almost 18 years as a nurse. "He probably won't really even need a stitch," I thought, "....probably just Katie's parents wanting to be really careful...I'm not about to sit in an
ER all afternoon on my coveted Saturday."

When we met Reid and Katie's Dad, I got a sick feeling. Reid was visibly shaken, with blood on his shirt, neck and arms, dirt and grass in his hair, and blood coming from his nose. He was pensive and stiff, and I could tell he was hurting. I immediately changed plans and told Shannon that I wanted him to come to the ER with me instead of staying home with the girls, and we set off to the ER at my work. Reid reached from the backseat to grab my hand in the front. His hand felt cold, and he looked scared. Oh, my baby, my heart was breaking for him. At that moment I remembered how I had fervently prayed that morning.

"Oh, my Lord," I said to myself. God had made himself real to me. God had spared Reid. As it turned out, the Polaris had gone off the road when they made a curve, flipping and throwing Reid out into the woods. He could have been many variables, and any change of circumstance could have taken him from me. I knew that God had protected him divinely.

Later in the ER, Reid shared his feelings about the accident. It was sobering, and he knew that God had indeed had His hand upon him. He confided that it made him re-examine his life and his spirituality. It was suddenly clear to me... God had impressed upon me to trust Him. He is sovereign, and although there are times that He allows things to happen that we may not understand, it is ultimately for His glory. Had Reid not had this life-threatening experience, he may have gone his own way, ignoring the prodding of the Holy Spirit upon his life. It also reminded me of the importance of listening to the Holy Spirit. When we are burdened for others it is imperative that we yield in a spirit of intercession.

About 5 hours, a CT scan, and several Xrays later, we were headed home. I asked Reid if he could go back and change anything about the day, would he reconsider going to his friend's house. "Mom, I wouldn't change a thing," he said. "Everything that happens to us makes us who we are and forms our character." I also asked him if he thought he could go to church the next morning, despite the 14 staples in his head and the aches and pains that went along with the rest of his injuries. After all, he had some praying to do. "Mom," he said, giving me a long look, "It's not between me and's between me and God." Wow, that wisdom I prayed for him to have is sure kicking in faster than I thought!

An ordinary-looking quick dash through the drive-through at Steak and Shake marked the end of an exraordinary day that had started out so differently. I am
left with a feeling of immense gratefulness and a new appreciation for God's mercies. "They are new every morning...great is thy faithfulness, Oh Lord."

Monday, November 1, 2010

Known by Him

Yesterday in church our pastor used several scriptures relating to the sanctity of life in his sermon. He began by reading from Genesis where God breathed into man the breath of life. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” The Bible records that all other creatures were created, apparently living, and says nothing about God breathing into them. He explained this as meaning man is unique in having a soul and distinguishes us from animals.

Reading from Job 27:3, where Job says, “As long as my breath is in me, and the breath of God in my nostrils, (4) My lips shall not speak wickedness , Nor my tongue utter deceit,” Pastor said that Job is linking his very breath to God and creation. Then the account of Jesus healing the blind man was read from John 9:6 where He mixed saliva with mud and applied it to the blind man’s eyes. The minister then brought out something that had never occurred to me: Jesus was reaching all the way back to creation and using the original building material, dust of the ground, to do a creative miracle on this man’s eyes!
He is able to create, and re-create, both physically and spiritually!

Prior to the sermon, we had watched a moving video of pre-born babies in the womb and their amazing development from conception to birth. As portions of Jeremiah 1:5 and Jeremiah 29:11 and other scriptures were printed beneath the images, I could not hold back the tears at the love of God in giving us precious children and the wonder of life.

I experienced their appeal and sweetness last night when parents brought their children to a fall festival our church was part of in cooperation with the volunteer fire department across the street. As they trooped in to play the games, eat hot dogs and be part of a costume contest, my husband and I had a birds-eye view. The activity we monitored, a “Dig for Treasure” box of sand with buried trinkets, was right in the center of the room. All evening, tots disguised as characters from cartoons, storybooks, movies or imagination, knelt on the floor and dug into the sand, eyes wide with delight as they pulled out shiny stones, beach creepy-crawlers, or glittering gems. Our fun part was to reward them with candy.

A tiny Wizard-of-Oz “Dorothy,” her black wig and braids perched slightly askew and dressed in a blue gingham dress with “ruby” slippers, stole our hearts, as did a “Bob the Builder” clad young man with tools on a belt around his waist. A sparkly Cinderella and tutu-encircled toddlers were irresistible as parents placed them in line to see if their darling would be judged the cutest. Using imagination, trying out identities, they are on their way to growing up. “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future,” Jeremiah 29:11. A smile, a kind look, a handed treat--small seeds of God’s love planted in this hope for the future, our children.