Friday, September 28, 2012

Narrow Escape

"Where are you from?  Is this home?" my husband, in his usual friendly way, asked the young waitress as we were eating out last week in the college town of Stillwater. 

"No," she replied, "I'm from Colorado," to which my husband exclaimed, "Colorado! Denver?"

"Yes. Well, actually, Aurora," she went on.  On hearing the name that was on the news not long ago, I asked her if she'd known anyone involved in the recent tragedy there.

"Well, my cousin had planned to go to the Batman movie that night (I think she said he had tickets), but he had to help a friend who had an emergency, so thank God he didn't go!"

Then only last week, I read  a news item on internet that a school bus from Washington County in Tennessee had wrecked, sending some 20 kids to the hospital.  I saw with alarm that it was from  my granddaughter's highschool! A flurry of phone calls and messages followed, and thankfully, I found out it was not her bus.

"But it was Haley's bus!" my daughter told me.  This was the pretty teenager we had met when our grandson introduced her as his girl friend when we were there earlier this year. "She would have been on that bus, but she didn't go to school that day!"

We had been in Stillwater that day having a celebration lunch with our son's family after their adoption of two young daughters that morning.  A couple of nights later, a large group of family and friends gathered for an  adoption party in their honor at the party room of a local yogurt bar.  Over dishes of yogurt and finger foods, we caught up with people we hadn't seen for awhile. 

"How are you liking your job?" I asked a young woman I had known at our former church.  I knew she had recently gotten a degree in her field and had been working part-time in social work, transporting children to custody hearings and other appointments. She told me she had been promoted to case worker. "You must see some interesting cases," I remarked.

"Oh, yes," she commented, shaking her head.  "There are so many sad situations. I was just thinking tonight, these could have been some of those kids, with a much different outcome," she said, indicating the happy scene before us.  "It is so good to see an outcome like this!"

Her words  made me reflect on the scene in the courtroom on adoption day.  The judge had asked the whole family, including the grandparents, to come forward.  He had already emptied the room of others gathered for proceedings that day.  "This is wonderful," he said, waving his arm expansively,  "to see a family like this!"  His appreciation made me realize what a blessing it is, indeed, to be a part of a support team as a family to show forth God's love to the vulnerable.  God had made a way for the helpless, providing what might be again, a narrow escape.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's Not Autumn Without 'Em

"Look at all the pretty sunflowers!" I exclaimed to my husband on the way home from the county fair last week.  There were clumps around telephone poles, left undisturbed by mowers, and drifts in slopes and roadside ditches.  "Let's stop and pick some!" I urged, but we were always past likely-looking places to pull over by the time I pointed them out.

Yesterday, a Saturday, I renewed my campaign to drive into the country and gather some of the colorful flowers.  There were none on the first road we took, but we found a smattering of blooms as we backtracked along our fair route.  "Stop!" I called in time for Howard to park along the roadside.  Wow! These were hard to break off!  The rubbery stems twisted and refused to break off in my hands.  I should've brought a knife or shears!

Finally gathering a few, clumps of dirt and all, and my nose streaming (that should have told me something), we stopped at a couple more sites before I resignedly called it quits.  They weren't as plentiful or as pretty as they had been last week.

We had a couple more errands, and by the time we got home the flowers were wilted.  Not to be deterred, I found a jar, filled it with water and placed it in a ceramic pumpkin.  The flowers lolled listlessly over the edge, although the seed pods that had lost their blossoms were attractive on the long stems.  I tried to ignore my itchy throat, but soon there was nothing for it but to transfer my bouquet to the front porch. I was allergic.  The bedraggled posies looked pitiful, anyway.

Imagine my surprise when I peeked out on the porch this morning and saw they had regained their beauty!  The water and the fresh overnight air had done them good!  The large, pinky-orange pumpkin was a splash of color on the high-backed white bench with the cheery faces of the sunflowers spilling out in their yellow-brimmed bonnets.

I had gone to bed a little disgruntled last night, not only over the flowers, but our failed attempt to attend an autumn fair at a neighborhood church.  We finally found a parking place among a sea of cars at the popular event, but walking in, there were no people to speak of.  "What time do you open?"  I asked a lady behind a booth.  She told me 6:00 o'clock, but it was not even 5:30.  My husband was reluctant to leave, so we found a shady spot to sit, watching people do last-minute preparations.

At last the ticket booth opened, and my husband got his wallet out only to say, "I thought I had more money than this!"  What? There was no ATM on the premises, and he had only enough cash for tickets for one of us to eat.  No cake walk, no anything, and it was too much trouble to come back and hunt another parking place.  We went home and I made supper, the day ending on a disappointing note. 

Then this morning a devotional I read seemed to be God speaking just to me, and the pretty, revived flowers underscored His loving care in even the smallest things!  And my allergies are better, too!  Thank You, Lord!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Helper

"Lord, make us a blessing and a help to someone today," I prayed when I woke up yesterday.  We hadn't gone to church the night before, since Howard noticed a problem with a tire and spent time prying off a wheel cover and loosening lug bolts, uncovering the valve stem where he needed to put in air.  Apparently, whoever installed the tire had left the cover askew.  Thankfully, we  had had no problems on our 40 mile trip to Stillwater that day.

Our first stop on our errands yesterday morning was to get air in the tire.  "Oh, no," Howard grumbled when he saw a car there before us at the air hose pump.  Two young women were fluttering around their car, up and down and back and forth to the dispenser.  I told him they would probably be finished soon, so we waited.  After a good ten minutes, they still hadn't moved, so I suggested he see if he could help them.

Howard went over, taking his air gauge, and asked them if he could be of assistance, then disappeared from my view as he knelt to work with their tire.  Now it was my turn to wait.  Evidently, something was wrong with the dispenser device, as the girls kept approaching it and pounding it.  Finally, Howard came back.

"What was wrong?"  I asked him.  He said they'd had trouble getting the tire to take air, but he worked with it until he got 20 pounds of pressure into it.  They had thanked him, and he'd suggested they go to another service station to get more air, which is what we had to do for our tire.

I was telling my son about our adventure later that day, and he said, "Oh, the hose on that machine is old and cracked, and the air leaks out."  Apparently he'd had experience there with his vehicles.  "I've thought about buying them a new hose, myself," he said, "I like to go there because that's the only place that has free air that I know of." We found that out getting our tire inflated!

Later, I realized that God had answered my prayer. He had placed someone in our path that we could help!
And I learned a spiritual lesson, too.  The Holy Spirit is likened to air in the Bible, especially when Jesus is talking to Nicodemus who had come at night with his questions. In John 3:8, Jesus says, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and wither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."

If we allow our connection with the Lord to become unused, old, and cracked, we may have a hard time time feeling the breath of the Holy Spirit.  "We leak," someone once said, when illustrating that we need to be continually "being filled" with the Spirit.  How much better to keep our spirits pliable, fresh and unobstructed so that we are buoyant with His Spirit, and as my  preacher husband says, "with our sails filled with air and a spring in our steps!"  A sure way to be blessed and a blessing to others!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Special Day

What a joyous day today!  The day two little girls were adopted into our son's family.  The whole local family was invited to go along to witness and share in this momentous event. The children were excited, looking pretty in matching church dresses with their normally straight hair coaxed into soft, curly waves framing their smiling, yet tentative, faces.

"Let's get them something," I suggested to my husband.  An adoption party is scheduled for the weekend, but I wanted a little memento for the actual day.  We decided on Mylar balloons, and found two heart-shaped ones with the words,"You Are So Special," on them.  I waited until after the brief, official proceedings to give them to my new granddaughters when we returned to the cars.

When it was time to begin, the judge cleared the court room of all but our family, nine in all, dressed for the occasion.  First the parents, our son and daughter-in-law, were called forward for the formality of final agreement and intent, and then the children  stood with them, wide-eyed and solemnly nodding, giving their consent to being adopted.  The parents were firmly instructed that the new children would share equally in any inheritance with their biological son and daughter.  That they were legally just as much their children, and their responsibility, now as their natural children.

All the preliminary work had been done over the previous many months, as attested to by the lawyer and case worker, so all that remained was for the judge to enter their new names into the record, and with a stroke of his pen, the adoption was complete.  After months of placement status, the kids were officially Summers's now.  A party atmosphere prevailed, a fun dinner out with their weighted balloons bobbing festively on the table, and a bowling outing planned for the afternoon.

Adoption was God's idea.  Just as the children took on the name of the new parents, we take on the name of Christ when we are adopted into His family.  Romans 8:15 says, "Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."  Abba means "Daddy", which is what the children call our son, Greg.  As sons and daughters of God, we will share with our Elder Brother, Jesus, in the inheritance of the saints.

I have heard that the rules governing adoption are stricter even than for  natural born children.  One is obligated by law for their support and sustenance, and getting out of such an agreement is difficult, if not impossible. Just think how firmly we are secure in the love and care of our Heavenly Father, in Whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning, James 1:17.

In the strong breeze, the 6-year-old's balloon got away from her, dancing tantalizingly out of reach until it wafted skyward on a gust of wind.   The message, "You Are So Special," was carried to the heavens, while down on earth I replaced her balloon with an exact replica.  After all grandmothers have some responsibilities, too!

Monday, September 17, 2012

All Creatures Great and Small

Patagonian cavy?  Four-horned sheep?  These were just a couple of the unusual animals we saw at the petting zoo at the county fair Saturday.  What a surprising treat!  I had expected the usual lambs, ponies and goats for the children to pet, but I knew something was different when I saw the camel, aloof and regal as it ambled in the huge enclosure with the sign, Camel Rides--$5.00,  attached to the fence.  This was no ordinary petting zoo, but an exotic animal petting zoo!

I felt like a child as I oohed and aahed over the cute faces of the (mostly) gentle creatures.  As I touched the pouffy tuft of hair (wool, fibre?) above the darling countenance of a llama, (alpaca?) I was amazed at how silky soft it was!  Who could resist such a charmer with the long, thick lashes?

Another novel sight was a zebra!  I'd never been close enough to  touch one before.  I thought them to be only black and white striped, but up close, I could see shades of brown, like a shadow between some stripes.  The placard hung on the pen explained that the stripes were for camouflage in their natural habitat.  I could see how the black streaks could look like tall grass or trees in the savannahs and open woodlands of Africa.

One pen held water buffalo and brahma-like cattle, their broad, smooth foreheads warm and solid against my touch.  It felt good to be experiencing this world of animals, God's creatures with which we are often out of touch.  No wonder children love stuffed animals so!

I was reading this morning about the thousand years of peace, or the Millennium, on God's time clock for the future.  The animals will be gentle, not carnivorous, and a natural part of a perfect civilization.  Isaiah:6-8 tells us, "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

(7) And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. (8) And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den."

What a day that will be! Never a dull moment with God's creation and creatures at peace with each other, as was intended from the beginning.  I might even pet a Patagonian cavy, which I found out is a member of the rodent family.  It looked like something between a rabbit and a kangaroo to  me!

Friday, September 14, 2012

On the Shelf?

I love my new food storage containers that I finally got around to using.  I got them at Ikea when we were visiting family in Houston this summer, and I just ran onto them recently.   Like everything I get there, they are a little different, adding a touch of fun or novelty to the most ordinary product.  In a set of 17 containers, 11 of them are small, some as small as half a cup or less.  Nobody else would probably like that, but I save the smallest tidbits (ask my kids!).

This morning we had a few fried apples left over from breakfast that I had salvaged from three withering pommes left in the fruit bowl.  They were so delicious I couldn't bear to throw them away, and they just fit into a tiny container.  Now if I just don't forget to use them!  I have some very neat stacks of leftovers in the fridge that look so much better in the see-through pac than they would in a plastic-wrap covered bowl!  The peas look pretty, the mashed potatoes neat, and the salad crispy, like little presents.

Despite my thriftiness, none of that leftover food will do us any good if I don't remember to serve it.  (Sometimes around here it's not necessary to serve it--I have a refrigerator raider in the house.) Just knowing I have it (or forgetting I have it) does not benefit our menu or our grocery budget.

Sometimes I think that's the way we are with our spiritual gifts.  What good is the gift of teaching if we don't teach?  Or the gift of healing if we don't pray for people? Or any of the other gifts listed in I Corinthians 12.  Verse 7 says these manifestations of the Spirit are for the profit of all: Wisdom, knowledge, faith, healings, miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues and the interpretation of tongues.  Another list of gifts is given in Romans 12:3-8:  Prophecy, Ministry, Teaching, Exhortation, Giving, Leadership, and Mercy.

We can admire the pretty wrappings or packaging of a gift, and just like it for itself.  But how much better to open the box, use and enjoy it and/or use it for the benefit of others?  Even the gift of salvation is like that.  Although it is a gift, we must accept it and appropriate it, including all its benefits.  Why let our gifts grow stale and as unappetizing as forgotten leftovers?  They are not for cold storage!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


"Hi, Mom.  What are  you doing?" my son spoke over the phone.  I heaved a sigh and told him I was just about to lie down for a rest.  He wanted to know what I had been doing to be so tired.

"Did laundry, hung clothes, cleaned kitchen, walked all over Lowe's with Dad,  carried stored items from Greg's garage, and made lunch, to name a few," I said. 

Despite the interruption, I always enjoyed talking with Jamie.  He was on his way home from his class in a Master's program where he is studying Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. He was explaining how difficult it was, with something like 27 Greek meanings for the article adjective "the," so I asked him why try to reinvent the wheel.  After all, someone has already translated the scriptures for us. He gave an example of wind and spirit when Jesus is talking to Nicodemus about being born again that made me realize how fascinating it was to him.

I had just closed my eyes at the end of our conversation when his father came in from the backyard where he'd been working and asked what I was doing.  I think he said something about a nap, too.  When I opened my eyes again I stared uncomprehendingly at the clock.  It couldn't be showing 3:20!  I had slept over an hour! We  always pick up the grandkids at school by 3:00 o'clock! 

"Why did you go to sleep?" I demanded, staggering  into the bedroom, "You were supposed to wake me up!"  My husband jumped up bleary-eyed, I found the school's number and told them we were on the way.  The kids were the last ones waiting out front with a teacher.

Beth, the dramatic 5-year-old, threw up her hands in exasperation when she saw us,  pointed at me and said sternly, "Nevuh do that again!"  while her  mature, 7-year-old sister just resignedly got into the car, shaking her head.

I couldn't help thinking about the story of the 10 virgins in the Bible who  fell asleep while waiting for the bridegroom.  The Bible says they slumbered and slept while the bridegroom tarried, the five foolish ones running out of oil so that their lamps went out. In our busy-ness of life, may we be ever watchful for our Heavenly Bridegroom.  It may be later than we think.