Thursday, February 28, 2013

Generation Gap

It was the biggest estate sale of the year.  The home of local business owners was being dismantled and contents dispersed following the demise of the surviving spouse.  I had met her a year or so ago at the funeral of her elderly neighbor, one of our church members.  She was a very refined lady who was mourning the loss of her friend.  Now she was gone.

When we entered the home, I gasped.  The high walls of the rustic back entrance were covered in folk art, signs, pictures, and memorabilia.  I saw the wooden cutout of a cow that would look cute in my kitchen, but it would be cheaper tomorrow when prices would be slashed.  The rooms were filled with a glut of beautiful, framed art in large dimensions, stacks of handmade quilts, gleaming copper pots, boilers, and cookware, as well as rugs, books, lovely tables and every manner of decor.

Other than picking up a kitchen tablecloth, I was so overwhelmed that we left without much.  The next day, unbelievably, it had almost been picked clean, except for buildings outside whose entire contents were offered for bid.  Besides the cow, which was about the only thing hanging on the wall of the entry, I picked up a piece of artwork my eyes had chanced upon.  It was a print of an old painting that looked just like our youngest granddaugter when she was about a year old! It was so much like her it made us laugh and we couldn't resist it.

Now I smile every time I pass the picture that is now hanging in my hall.  It makes me even more eager to see her when we go down to their house in a couple of weeks for her fourth birthday!  Seeing Maddie and her 6-year old sister on Skype recently made me miss them even more.  The birthday girl's amazing red hair has grown to shoulder length and floats vapor-like around her darling face.  Be still, my heart!  Big sister's golden curls peeked out from a knit cap over a feathery scarf she wore in her play. Sweet babies!

When I asked for a birthday present suggestion from their father, he suggested an iTunes card.  She loves to play with an old iPhone and is very good at the games they put on there for her.  Such sophistication!  I hope she likes the everyday plaything I bought for her today besides the fancy card! She is joining the electronic world like her older cousins, leaving an old-fashioned Mimi to poke around estate sales, ruefully dismissing antique doll furniture, teddy bears and doll collections as proper gifts for today's pre-schooler.  Maybe I will just get them for myself!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It's a Wonderful World

The snowy weather had put me in a baking mood.  I had made peach cobbler one day, homemade strawberry shortcake another day, and was making banana nut bread yesterday.  I had bananas, but no packaged chopped walnuts.  We did, however, have some leftover whole walnuts from Christmas in a hanging wire basket in the kitchen.  I began cracking them--an easy task with the nutmeats popping out with practically no effort.

As I cracked them, I noticed what marvelous packaging they were in.  Imagine wrapping something in wood!  And such beautiful delicate--yet hardy--wood.  The walnut shell bore the marks of its creator in the tracery of lines on its surface.  A wonderful food product requiring no refrigeration, preservation, or processing.  Just  waiting to be opened to add flavor and crunch to my banana bread!

Of course, the banana, Nature's (God's) perfect food, is a wonder in itself.  Encased in its tough, leathery skin, the soft fruit is perfectly protected, yet easy to access, even for a child.  I read somewhere that God made the foods that are particularly good for us in bright colors.  What school lunch box has not been brightened by a school-bus yellow banana? 

As I mixed the ingredients in the bowl, I added an egg.  The egg.  Another work of genius.  How to package a runny, gelatinous mass for ease in consumption, yet give it enough protection to withstand the weight of a hen, the possible brunt of her claws, and the handling of transport, let alone preserving the freshness and beauty of it? 

Since we collect eggs from our chickens daily, I've learned that, providing the natural protective coating, or "bloom," on the egg hasn't been washed off, they can be stored safely for days out of the fridge.  In fact, many foreign countries offer them for sale   in markets just sitting out in bowls or baskets, never refrigerated.  Who could invent this?  Only God!

A friend and sister in the Lord passed away last week.  Her hobby was turtles!  I often wondered what she saw in them, but just today I saw an amazing video posted on Facebook.  A turtle was on its back, and a fellow turtle rescued it!  In a fascinating, patient, act of  reptile intelligence and affection? concern?  or instinct, the turtle nudged, probed and lifted with it's sharp beak until the other cold-blooded vertebrate was on all four feet.  Then he pushed the turtle encouragingly along until the screen went black.  Doesn't sound cold-blooded to me!

We serve an amazing God!  Next time I see a turtle, I may give it banana bread!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Joy in the Morning

Today I sat in the car as Howard ran in for a purchase on the way home from the funeral of Clara, our pastor's wife.  It couldn't have been worse weather for a funeral.  The leaden sky was flinging stinging little spits of mist born by the swirling north wind.  We are under a blizzard watch, but so far the few flakes I've seen haven't made it to the ground in the near-freezing temperatures.

There is a strange beauty to the trees I glimpse though my streaked windshield.  The bare branches somehow are managing to look more wintery than when they were blanketed with snow, as if they are colder with no covering. Maybe it is the right weather for a funeral after all,  with a somber, grey heaven weeping icy tears, cascading in a watery flood down the face of the glass.

Strangely, I have wept few tears today, and then only while empathizing with the families of the loved one we are remembering.  I thought of my own family and sorrowed for them with vicarious tears if it had been I who had passed.

Just then the plaintive, familiar notes of a song sung at the funeral of my own mother wafted out from the car radio.  I recognized it as "Beulah Land," the song I had requested for her funeral, since her name was Beulah.  Whether for memories of her or for the one who who would be laid to rest today, the tears started as I thought about these two ladies.

Though they were both spiritual giants, they nevertheless were very human with all the quirks and foibles of their own personalities.  Today in the eulogy one of the sons referred fondly to his late mother  as "The Turtle Whisperer."  She loved turtles!  Whenever her birthday came around, she got miniature ceramic turtles, turtle-themed gifts, or turtle jewelry.  I gave her a box of chocolate turtles once, the carmel-pecan treat that mimicked a turtle shape.

"She really did!" he exclaimed.  "She would whisper to them and they would come and eat!"  She had seven that lived in their back yard.  "They were all named, too!" her son concluded.  I think the turtle thing got its start during the many years they lived in Arizona.

Clara's first husband had died when her youngest son was ten years old.  All three boys liked wrestling, and she was an avid fan at their matches, loyally (and loudly) cheering them on from the sidelines.  She knew wrestling holds and was not above taking down an opponent of her own, if she could get a volunteer female relative to accept the challenge.

Mama had her hands full with eleven children, her only hobby that I can think of being crocheting.  She did have a love of horses, though, and sometimes reminisced with us about her girlhood horse, Dudley.  We went to drive-in movies as a family back then, and I remember her saying, "I love a good horse picture."

Mama has been in heaven these many years now, and our friend has just arrived.  Maybe they'll meet up there and laugh about their earthly days and their present joys, for both had a wonderful sense of humor.  Just thinking about them has me smiling, if through tears, and the barren landscape is now becoming a beautiful carpet of snow, maybe several inches before morning! 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Joyful Noise

I was aware of someone motioning to me from across the aisle in church last Sunday.  Then I heard an intense whisper saying, "Could you please pass me my tambourine?"  It was my friend, Clara, the pastor's wife.  She normally sat at the end of my row to the left, but today she was sitting with a friend who was visiting the services.

I nudged my seat partner and passed on the message, gesturing as inconspicuously as possible for the tambourine.  "What?" the lady responded, her  face screwed into a puzzled frown.  She is 84 and very hard of hearing.  When she finally understood, she elbowed the 90-something lady next to her.  The tamborine was under the seat in front of her. Thankfully, the spirited song service was muffling our activity, because this elderly saint is even more deaf and cannot see well, either, but she, too, plays the tambourine that was lying next to Clara's. 

At last the instrument was conveyed along the row and reached Sister Clara's outstretched hand.  What a joyful sound as she energetically tapped, shook and kept time in a jingling rhythm to the praise song.  I think her feet were moving, too.  A few minutes before, this spiritual dynamo had stridden to the front to stand in front of the altar and give a message to the congregation from the Holy Spirit.  It was a strong, forceful word giving assurance of God's oversight and an admonition to "Fear not! For I am with you!"

Just as we were sitting down and the pastor was about to receive the offering for the children's missionary fund-raiser, his attention was drawn to the second row as he turned abruptly and said, "We need to have prayer for my wife.  She is having a severe headache."  As we gathered around her, he passed the anointing oil to me and I touched her forehead while many laid their hands on her and prayed fervently.

When her color did not improve and the seriousness of the situation became obvious, someone was dispatched to call 911.  After what seemed interminable minutes, an ambulance arrived, transporting our now barely-responsive leader to the hospital.  Word was not good, and many of us gathered at the hospital, coming and going until late into the night in our prayerful vigil.  By the next morning, the unthinkable had happened.  Clara had left us and gone home to heaven.

In our shock and grief and sad good-byes, we took comfort in the fact that the departed had attained her heavenly reward, the goal she had kept in front of her for a lifetime. And now it is not hard to imagine her in the celestial realms, singing and rejoicing, and even joyfully sounding the tambourine.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Unforeseen

Amazing!  A meteor struck in Russia on Friday!  The first time in over a hundred years that a massive, exploding meteor has hit the earth. That has not happened in my lifetime, nor in my mother's lifetime. Not since 1908.  My dad would have been 3 years old.

Not only that, but Earth narrowly escaped being hit by an asteroid the day before!  A considerably bigger space rock!  Scientists have known about the asteroid for nearly a year, but the meteor was too small to show up on instruments.  Not too small to injure lots of people and scare them out of their wits, though.  One Russian man said on television, "We thought it was the end of the earth (world)!"

Shades of Chicken Little and "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!"  Truthfully, though, space particles fall quite regularly, but most are burned up in the earth's atmosphere.  Others might fall harmlessly into our oceans, which cover about two-thirds of the earth. 

Some people think that a giant asteroid hitting the planet could truly mean the end of the world someday.  Television preacher Pat Robertson and others believe that the mountain referred to in Revelation 8:9 could be a meteor.  It reads, "And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of it became blood."

Verse 10 says, "Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water."  These horrendous events destroyed a third of the earth's vegetation, a third of the sea creatures, and a third of the ships.

Although we may worry about the end of the world, we would do well to give thought to our own lives.  When we die, that is the end of the world for us, and unless we have made Jesus our Savior, there is no hope.

Sunday was an ordinary Sunday at church, until suddenly our pastor's wife had severe pain in her head. Although we gathered around her and prayed for her, the ambulance had to be called and she was taken to the hospital.  Hours later, she was gone.  A day that had begun as just another Sunday to worship the Lord would in less than 24 hours end with our precious sister meeting Him in heaven.  It pays to be ready.  You never know.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Simple Pleasures

"Have the girls said anything funny?" I asked my son over the phone about my 3- and 6-year-old granddaugters.  He regularly regales me with their funny interpretations, misunderstandings and/or childish wisdom.  It helps a long-distance-Mimi feel in touch. I  told him I was sending them some Valentines.

"Put something in there," he suggested.  Huh?  I was going to put a Valentine in there!  But I knew he was trying to cement a bond between the kids and us.  They get to see their other grandmother frequently, since she lives only three hours away, and they love the attention and presents she brings.  "Put in some money, stickers or something," he explained.  Well, I guess at their ages, that would be impressive.  So I got some Valentine stickers to put in, and he said they were a success.

I also put a sheet of stickers in the envelopes of the two grandchildren who live here.  I gave them their Valentines on Wednesday, since I wouldn't see them on Thursday.  "Oh, puppies!" six-year-old Beth exclaimed about the seal on the envelope, then tore it open, casting aside the Valentine and grabbing the stickers. 

When Kate, her 7-year-old sister,  did the same thing, I said, "Look at the Valentines!" They actually enjoyed them when I read the verses to them, but when they showed them to their mom, I heard Beth say glumly, "There wasn't any money in them!", prompting a parental lecture. Usually when they get birthday cards, there's money inside, apparently.

I guess kids have always been that way.  I remember when my mother put a dime in something she wrote to her little granddaugher about that age many years ago.  Later, she sent a card for something, and the little girl opened it and asked her mommy, "Where's the dime?"  Times have changed, but kids haven't!

We had a nice, low-key Valentine's Day around here.  Since I had to return a heart (how apropos) monitor at 3:00, we couldn't go out of town to eat as we wanted, instead having a late Valentine lunch at a local restaurant.

We spent the evening watching Andy and Barney, followed by The Waltons on a video collection we have.  The lovely, poignant scenes of country life and ways, with old-fashioned values being taught in a big family, warmed our hearts.  Our supper was homemade potato soup, topping off what one friend referred to as a "homegrown Valentine celebration."  The best kind.                                       


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Solid Ground

"What do you think?" Howard said as he eyed the short pasture slope to the hen house. "Do you think we should drive down?" The snow and slight rain had no doubt softened the soil and we hated to make tracks, but it was easier than walking back up.  Anyway, by this time, he was already half-way down.  We honked and the chickens scurried out of their coop in anticipation of their reward for the eggs we were about to gather.

Our flock was enjoying the glorious sunshine after the beautiful snow yesterday that was rapidly disappearing under these milder temperatures.  They devoured several scoops of feed and were making the happy, off-key sound that voiced their contentment.  We watched in satisfaction and amusement, and, after checking their water, got back in the car and curved behind the chicken house up the hill to the road.  The grassy turf would give us firm traction, we figured, but we proceeded gingerly, nonetheless.

Suddenly we were slipping!  The tires spun as the grass gave way to the mud beneath.  Oh, no!  Don't let us get stuck! My thoughts were a prayer as I held my breath and willed the tires to grip the surface.  Howard backed up and tried again at a different angle.  By this time I was praying loudly for help!  Again and again we tried to urge the car along as the wheels spun, slinging mud and grass behind us.  Unwelcome scenarios of sliding all the way down the hill into a ravine played out in my mind.  How would we ever get out if that happened?

Looking for something for a firm foothold, I yelled, "Get on those rocks! That will help us!", pointing to a flat stone slab and other embedded boulders about halfway up.  Howard swung the car toward them and gave it a go, but we slipped, nevertheless.  He tried again, and this time our tenuous grip on the solid surface held!  With a final thrust of the engine, we were out!  Enormous relief and happy praises flooded the car.  Thank God, we hadn't had to be towed!

"He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings," David said in Psalm 40:2.  I certainly identified with that!  The next verse says, "And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord."  We were singing a new song, all right!

Several times in the Psalms, David refers to the stability of God as the Rock.  Jesus himself said, "The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner," referring to Himself in Mark 12:10.  I love the words of the old song, "On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand."  In times of sickness, fear, or uncertainty we can trust our firm foundation, Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Surprise Ending!

What a difference a couple of hours makes!  When we were out earlier, the streets were wet with splatters of rain coming down on the windshield.  It was supposed to snow during the night last night, but instead of the 3" snowfall we were to get, we woke up to a gray, glum day with bare streets and brown grass.  Some of the drops falling today seemed on the verge of mush, though they disappeared with the swish of the windshield wipers.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I looked out an hour ago to a storybook snowfall of exquisite beauty!  The flakes were as big and round as silver dollars, looking like the contents of a featherbed being shaken from a heavenly ticking, or a thickly-dotted sheer curtain billowing  from celestial windows! The ugly bush by my front door has been transformed into piece of modern art, its stark branches an intricate study in black and white as snow outlines the dark bark.

And what a difference a day makes!  I got up this morning with symptoms that had plagued me periodically for a week or two--fluttery, indefinable sensations in my chest that left me weak.  My blood pressure monitor showed a picture of a heart with an outline shadowing it, signifying an irregular heart beat.  Overcoming the reluctance to get it checked out I'd held onto for days, I told my husband I thought I should go to the ER.  I'd already scheduled an appointment with the town cardiologist, but it was for 10 days away.

Explaining such vague symptoms to the ER doctor was difficult, because he wanted to know when they occured, how long they lasted, and what I was doing when they happened.  After questioning me intently and writing on his pad, he scheduled me for bloodwork, EKG, chest Xray and other lab work.  I was already hooked up to a blood pressure machine that showed my heartbeat, pulse, and oxygen saturation level. 

All the updates I kept getting were that the tests were normal!  Thank you, Lord!  We had prayed so hard, and I was so hoping I would not have to stay at the hospital, but when the doctor mentioned a Holter monitor, I wasn't so certain.  But it turns out I can wear it at home, pushing a symptom button on it whenever I have one, and writing it down on a sheet to turn in when I see the cardiologist.  So for two days I have to be definitive about the symptom, duration, time, and activity, although the hospital will automatically receive an electronic record.

I am so thankful to be spending the night in my own bed, instead of the dreaded scenario I had envisioned of staying at the hospital.  And since they allayed most of my fears, I will surely get a good night's sleep, even if I do have to have an electronic box in the pocket of  my pajamas!  What a different outcome  to this day than I had feared.  I will trust God with the rest of the evaluation!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sealed

"Howard, did you see that chair in the basement?" I asked at an estate sale yesterday.  He said he hadn't, so I steered him in that direction down the stairs.  We had become separated, he in the garage poring over man things and me going off on my own, even though I preferred staying together in case I spotted something like this.  It was a beautiful, leather (or leatherlike) office chair, commodious  with a tufted back and padded arms.  He had a smaller one at home, but one of us was always claiming it first, so we needed another one.

We hadn't seen much at the sale that was interesting and had been about to leave.  I reminded him that things would be half-price later today, but the chair might be gone by the time we left and came back.  After we'd walked to the car, he decided to go back and put a bid on it.  "I put a sealed bid on it," he told me when he got in the car.  I worried that someone would come back and buy it at half price, but he had bid a little over that, and we got the chair! 

Last night I heard a minister on television talking about the Holy Spirit, and how it is a seal on our lives if we have trusted Jesus as our saviour.  "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Ephesians 4:30.  And again  in Ephesians 1:13-14, "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."  Howard's bid was sealed, or made sure,  until he redeemed his purchase, just as Jesus will redeem us, His purchase, when he comes back for us!

Joel 2:28 says, "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men will shall dream dreams, your young men will see visions."  The next verse says he will pour out his spirit upon the servants and handmaids, also.

In church the other night, someone requested that we sing the song, "It's Beginning to Rain."  Prayer requests had gone up in the service for rain, since we have been in drought in Oklahoma for months, classified as "Exceptional Drought," in our area, which is the worst kind.  We had recently received 2 1/2 inches, but we were believing for that much more.  The song request, though, was referring to the outpouring of the Spirit we'd had in the morning service and that was still evident in our midst.

The physical rain started coming and has been blessing us for a couple of days now.  We are amazed to see the shrinking farm pond visibly rising.  It shimmers with freshness and the ducks glide smoothly and swiftly over its surface amid punctuating plops of rain. Thank God for the refreshing, both physically and spiritually!  And for the comfy new chair!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Prayer Room with a View

House Hunters is one of my favorite television programs.  I usually turn it on when I am tired, and as often as not, I doze through part of it, but the calm, repititious segments insure that I don't miss anything.  I also like House Hunters International, where people, mostly Americans, are looking for a place abroad.  I've noticed that in the smaller spaces offered in foreign countries, a view is a big plus.  Often, it is the deciding factor in cinching the deal.

In a show I saw today, I could see why.  The small, cramped  rooms in London were uninspiring to the young couple, but when they were directed to the view, their whole attitude changed.  Even my spirits were picked up by a beautiful vista of wide, blue sky, colorful housetops and quaint architecture.  For those desiring proximity to water, an ocean view is a highly sought after asset.  Nature and the outdoors calm and soothe the spirit, giving rest and refreshing to the psyche, vitality and perspective to the mind.

I was reminded of a Bible verse mentioned in our Bible study recently: "Where there is no vision, the people perish," Proverbs 29:18a.  That can be applied many ways, one of which might mean "having nothing to look forward to."  A popular saying is that people need three things to be happy: Something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for.

Another way of wording the scripture is "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint."(NKJ). The rest of the verse says, "But he that keepeth the law, happy is he."  According to Strongs Commentary, vision can also be interpreted "revelation, especially a vision from God."

It follows that when a people does not recognize, see, or acknowledge God in their collective mindset, they are headed for trouble, which is the situation in our country today. It is apparent that many of our leaders want to erase any vestige of God from the national conciousness. Without a moral compass, there is little reason to be law-abiding, decent citizens, which is why we are seeing mass shootings, abortions and the degradation of our society.

 John 1:36 says of John, "And looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith "Behold the Lamb of God!"  He is the One we are to behold in our spirits.  There is no greater view.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

We Are There!

An amazing revelation was  published last year and has been on the New York Times best seller list ever since.  Perhaps you've heard of it: The Harbinger, by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn.  We got the book and read it several months ago, but it became much clearer when we watched a video series about it at church.  "Harbinger" means warning, and the author ties pertinent scripture dealing with Israel's unfaithfulness to God and subsequent consequences to our present day America and the difficulties that are coming upon us.

Rabbi Cahn, who is a Christian pastor, gives startling insights into parallels with our nation and ancient Israel based on Isaiah 9:10.  It reads, "The bricks are fallen down, but we will rebuild with hewn stones: the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars."  He equates "The bricks are fallen down," with 9/11, when the twin towers fell in the terrorist attack.  "The sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars" is reflected by the sycamore that was destroyed when a piece of shrapnel flew from the explosion of the towers and hit it at ground zero.  It was subsequently replaced with a cedar (conifer or evergreen).

The point is that the Israelites didn't repent, rather, they defiantly cried that they would rebuild, just as our leaders proclaimed after the 9/11 attacks, without any real repentance, either from hisoric Israel or the American people and government.  It is ironic that a hewn stone was taken from a mountain in the northern United States and placed as a memorial to start the rebuilding process.

There are numerous other parallels, encompassing the financial collapse of our economy, the instability of the housing market, the Stock Market crash, and many other instances that compare with ancient Israel's troubles.  These are sobering facts.  Rabbi Cahn stresses that a harbinger, or warning, is given for a reason, and implies that if the warning is heeded, such things can be avoided.  In  other words, if America would wake up, repent and give God His rightful place in our nation our country could be saved.

Today we heard an even more up-dated data on these findings, as Jonathan Cahn was interviewed on Pat Robertson's 700 Club.  One thing he said that caught my attention was when he mentioned the One-Year Bible, which is what I read every day.  The study portions are arranged by date, and Rabbi Cahn suggested we turn to the date of September 11.  Isaiah 9:10 is included in that day's reading!  My Bible is dated June 1978 (Revised August 1983)--years before 9/11!  Not only that, but the passage from Psalms for that day speaks of violence and destruction.  The meaning of "violence" in Hebrew is "Hamaas," and "Hamaas" is Arabic for warlike fanaticism!

God's word is relevant yesterday, today, and forever!  Wake up, America!  Oh yes, the tree they planted?  The Tree of Hope?  It is withering.  All efforts to keep it alive are failing.  It's time to pray!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Recognition

I remember when I first became aware of the scrapbooking craze some 15 years ago.  I loved the look of the artistic enhancing and captioning of photos,  but I was always too intimidated to try it.  Then when we moved away from Mississippi, someone at our last church gave me a scrapbook as a going away gift. She had taken a farewell picture of us as their pastors and placed it in the photo slot on the cover. The empty scrapbook came with a set of accessories, and one day I was brave enough to plunge into what would become my passion for the next several years.

Since then, I have filled a dozen bulging albums with memories in themes of weddings, graduations, anniversaries, grandchildren, vacations and birthdays, to name a few, with a heavy emphasis on babies, especially from the parents of those who send me pictures.  Although I'm currently in a scrapbooking lull with the tomes largely neglected and not viewed for a while, I took one out yesterday and couldn't put them down until I had shed the last tear over the last album.

I think my current passion is reading the Bible through in a year.  It was a little slow at first, but now I find myself waking up and eager to get to the Bible for each day's reading.  I find myself overcome with emotion when I read something like Joseph's overwhelming reaction to seeing his brothers again.  He would have to leave the room to keep them from seeing his tears.  Then, when at last he reveals himself to them, I can almost hear the passion in his voice as he exclaims, "I am Joseph!" to their astounded faces.  Exodus 45:2 says he wept so loudly that that the Egyptians he had sent from the room heard it.

Or I imagine the tender scene when Isaac sees Rebekah, approaching with the caravan of camels when she is brought home by the servant to be his bride.  Rebekah looks up and sees Isaac at about the same moment, and asks, "What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us?"(Genesis 24:63,64.)  What a glad moment of recognition! 

Their marriage produces Jacob and Esau, who become estranged from each other as adults as a result of Jacob's tricking Esau out of his father's best blessing.  The time comes when they will meet again, and Jacob is filled with fear of reprisal from his brother.  Genesis 33:4 says, "And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him: and they wept."

As the saga of redemption continues, Moses recognizes God in the burning bush and is told to free the children of Israel from Pharoah's bondage.  Moses is afraid the people won't believe him, and wonders what he is to answer if they ask who sent him. God tells him to say, "I AM has sent me to you." 

Saul met Jesus when he was on the Damascus road enroute to get documents permitting him to persecute the Christians.  Suddenly he was blinded by a bright light, falling to the ground.  A loud voice from heaven prompted him to ask, "Who art thou, Lord?"  "And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus.'"  Saul was trembling and astonished, and submitted to God's will.  Acts 9:1-6.

All through the Bible God gives us snapshots of Himself  in the pages of human history. Over and over in the gospels Jesus reveals Himself.  He is still revealing Himself to us and wants us to recognize Him and accept Him as Lord of our lives. The Bible is the best photo album we have, not to be tucked away and ignored, for it is a living picture of Jesus.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Every Little Bit Counts

We were getting gas when a lady came out of the convenience store to get into her car beside the pumps. Suddenly I was aware that she was walking toward us and looking intentionally at us.  "I just want you  to know I agree with your bumper sticker 100 per cent!" she said to my husband. 

Well, we don't have a bumper sticker, but we do have a tag on our front bumper that reads, "GOD IS BIGGER THAN ANY PROBLEM I HAVE."  As far as I know, there is no other one in town like that, so I'm sure people recognize us by it, since we've had it over two years.  I must admit that I usually forget that it's there, but it's a silent witness, nontheless.

The other day we stopped at a parking lot so Howard could put his little scripture cards under the cars' windshield wipers.  They bear the message from Deuteronomy 31:6 that says, "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them; for the Lord thy God, He it  is that does go with thee: he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."  When he hands them out, people seem to appreciate them and have never refused them.

We have found ourselves singing the song "Little is Much When God is in It," lately and I believe that's true.  I bought a chocolate cake mix recently, and for a change, decided to put white frosting on it rather than the usual chocolate.  For some reason, it didn't taste as good to me as I expected, although Howard liked it, and so did the grandchildren.  What could I do with all this cake?  I cut it into squares and sent half of it home with the kids for our son's family, along with a dozen eggs from our hens.

The next day, Greg called and said, "Mom, thanks for the cake.  It was good!  Chocolate cake with white icing is my favorite kind."   I didn't know that!  I'm glad I followed the inner nudge to send it.  I had a piece myself, and suddenly it did taste good!  I had wrestled with the decision, telling myself that they probably already had cake, since their daughter loves to bake. (I read somewhere that the way to do God's will is to do the next right thing.)

Feeling a little discouraged and ineffective the other day, I prayed, "God, show me something I can do for you."  The very next day the Women's Ministry director called and asked me to speak on National Women's Day at church in a couple of weeks!  Then she said it was for the Sunday morning service!  How could I refuse, in light of my prayer?  I am shaking in my boots, but I must remember the words on Howard's card that Moses said to Joshua, "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, for the Lord thy God is with thee!"