Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Lot at Stake!

Our steaks had come, and they looked delicious! We had decided to go to our local steak house, a splurge, but it would be something to do on a lonely, holiday weekend. My husband and I had already visited the salad bar, enjoying the array of fixin's and the warmly glowing atmosphere of immaculate, cloth-covered tables and attractive settings.  A tiny loaf of freshly baked bread sat on the table, and it tasted as good as it looked.

We had been enjoying watching the other diners, especially a large family of mixed generations, from tots to grandma, with the bright attraction of two pretty girls the center of attention.  It was graduation night, and they had obviously come for an early celebration dinner before ceremonies at the auditorium. I nudged Howard and looked on admiringly as they held hands around the table and bowed their heads for a blessing.

I couldn't wait to put my fork into the luscious-looking steak.  Howard was already swooning over his. He said it was just right, partly, I think, because I had urged him to order it medium-rare, instead of his usual medium-well, which was invariably too dry and chewy.

Something was odd.  My steak tasted like steak sauce, which I do not care for.  I ate a few more bites, trying to like it, but it had a sour, almost vinegary taste.  "Does yours taste like this?" I asked my husband, to which he replied that he liked steak sauce.  I sat there disappointed, wondering if I should say something to the server.  I hated to complain, and even have to wait for them to prepare another steak for me.

Well, it was expensive, so when the waitress passed by again, I told her it tasted sour.  She said they did not use steak sauce, but it might be the marinade!  She checked, and that is what it  was.  "Can I bring you another one without marinade?" the helpful lady offered.  I agreed, and resignedly prepared for a long wait, knowing Howard would be finished by the time it got there.  Thankfully, my steak appeared promptly, and then it was my turn to swoon.  It was heavenly!  It tasted like steak!

Thinking about this later, I was glad I spoke up.  Even though my husband thinks I am pretty outspoken, I really don't like to make waves.  I think a  lot of women are like this, just settling for less than the best, rather than cause an inconvenience.  Recently in our ladies' Bible study, Women of the Bible, we looked at Abigail, the wife of a wealthy, but stingy man, Nabal.

David had been hiding out from King Saul and was camped near Nabal's property and had protected Nabal's servants from marauders during a time of sheep shearing.  At one point, David's men were low on supplies, so David sent some of them to pay a visit to Nabal, asking politely for the favour of some provisions.  When churlish Nabal refused, quick-tempered David set out to attack the ungrateful rich man.  One of the servants overheard the plan and reported it to Abigail.

Abigail, "a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance," I Samuel 25:3, took matters into her own hands and loaded donkeys with bread, wine, meat, corn, raisins and figs, enough to feed an army, and placated warring David with her respectful, but brave manner, dissuading him from his plan to kill her husband and destroy his property, convincing him, as a man of God, not to needlessly shed blood.

The story ends with Nabal's death from a stroke after hearing about what almost happened to him, and David marrying Abigail. Sometimes it pays to speak up!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Step by Step

I watched my granddaughter graduate today.  I also heard her make a speech, as a class officer.  Night before last, I got to hear her speech for baccalaureate. Did I make the trip to Georgia?  No, thanks to the miracle of modern communication, I viewed iPhone videos almost in real time.  I had hoped for Face Time, but we didn't make connections.

How could time have gone so fast since I used to baby-sit her and her brother and little sister?  How could this quiet, shy, little girl grow into a teenager who talked so softly I always had to  say, "Talk louder and  don't mumble," then become this articulate, poised young woman I saw addressing hundreds--no, thousands--of people today?

They do grow up!  When she called to thank me for her graduation gift, Corrin told me how surreal it seemed that high school was over.  She said it was bittersweet, thinking of leaving her friends, yet looking forward to the exciting unknown of college.

Coming from a family of sports enthusiasts, Corrin played softball in middle-school, then pursued and excelled at golf in high school.  She is also a swimmer, working last summer as a lifeguard, then through the winter at a senior aquatic center, to resume her lifeguard job at a pool this summer.

Since childhood, our granddaughter has tried to keep up with her big brother, unabashedly adoring and imitating him as a role model.  She even put up with his assaults, like the time he told her to turn around, then shot her with a bb gun! Unfortunately, her competitive, daring bent, while a good confidence builder, has gotten her into a few scrapes.  Nothing like the one that almost took her life when she had a serious accident with an ATV at age 15.

All through high school, Corrin has staunchly withstood the aftermath of the accident--several bone grafts and surgeries in preparation for dental work to restore her mouth. Though we feared disfigurement from facial injuries, she has grown more beautiful than ever.  As a junior, she was a homecoming maid, and as a senior, the homecoming queen.

When I expressed sympathy over her accident while she was in the hospital, her response was, "It made me a better person."  Her spiritual life has deepened, she is a responsible young lady, and she is ready for college!  But I'll always remember her as a toddler coming into our adjoining apartment in the middle of the night, cold with a wet diaper and carrying a cold bottle, climbing into our bed and sleeping in the middle!

Friday, May 22, 2015


I was having a nice phone chat with my daughter, when I became aware of my husband saying something, and gesturing toward the computer screen. He had just gotten off the phone discussing building a chicken pen with our son, so I figured he was trying to look up something about chickens.  I waved him off as I finished our conversation.

"What's wrong?" I demanded at Howard's cross look as he pointed to the computer.  Then I looked closer, to read: "Security Alert!  Your computer security has been compromised!  Call this number immediately for help!" The screen was covered with little boxes with alarming warnings.  We turned off the computer, and guess what! When we turned it back on the messages were still there! We couldn't get rid of them nor open our computer!

I called our computer guru, and he asked if we had responded in any way.  When we said no, he said to bring it in to the shop, maybe it wasn't too late. Howard took it there immediately, saying, "This is gonna cost us!"  He was gone about three hours, having waited for the work to be done.  I was glad to see a look of relief on his face.

"He fixed it," my husband announced wearily.  "It had been hacked.  He said these things are going on constantly.  If we had answered their message, we would have lost all security."  Howard said they would have had access to bank accounts, social security numbers, Facebook, and anything else we had on our computer.

"He told me our computer was about out of space (I knew this, for I had read an alert recently).  He said we had maybe a month's worth of storage left," Howard went on.  Our computer is about eight years old, so I knew it had to be pretty full.  "He increased the storage for us by 16 gigabytes," my husband said.

Wow!  All that?  And at a very reasonable price!  Thank you, Lord!  I thought of the saying, "The devil meant it for evil, but God used it for good."  He certainly did!  Our computer had needed service for a long time, and to think I have more space for pictures, and a cleaned-up computer!  The criminal, devil-inspired, mind behind the thievery was foiled for us!

The quote comes from Joseph when he says about his brother's having sold him, "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive," Genesis 50:20.

Our need wasn't that huge, but I'm thankful God cares about the things that are important to us!  I  had lost my favorite lipstick.  I checked the car, under the seats and on the floor, as well as emptying my purse and checking bedroom and bathroom.  I would have bought another one yesterday, but I was too tired to go to the cosmetic section after shopping.  Then today, as I picked up a comb after a shampoo, I see it lying on a bathroom counter!  

I was in the mood for my short-cut version of Eggs Benedict this morning. I put the egg on to poach, put the English muffin in the toaster, and reached for cheese on the fridge shelf.  It was nowhere! I searched and searched. "Howard, are we out of cheese?" I questioned.  He didn't know, so I finally closed the refrigerator door, opening it again a few minutes later for something, and the cheese fell out into my hand!  Just little reminders that God cares for us!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Horns of a Dilemma

"Mama, I sent you a restaurant gift card by E-mail for Mother's Day," my daughter Amy said the other day on the phone.  "You won't have any trouble getting it printed, like last year, will you?" she asked guardedly.

"Oh, no," I said, "We can get it printed at the library."  None of our printers seem to be working, so we finally got around to going to the library yesterday.  Using a different computer feels strange to me, especially a public one with its own protocol.  It wasn't long till we called on the library attendant for help.

We pulled up our E-mail provider, but since we were not on our home computer, it wanted to know our password.  Password!  My mind went blank.  We never use it at home, because our web mail is on "favorites."  I wracked my brain until something came fuzzily to the surface, but it was rejected as "Incorrect password."

I clicked on "Help," and the advice was to change my password.  The typed message was "Give me a few minutes, please."  After what seemed an interminably long time, a new password was displayed.  I gladly entered it, but "Incorrect password" came up again.  Over and over we tried it, with more of "This may take a few minutes," messages, not to mention the summoning of the attendant again.

We left in frustration, knowing that now our old password would not work on our home computer, and maybe not the new one, either!  If our password was messed up, my granddaughter, whom I was considering asking for assistance, would not be able to help!  Miraculously, the new password was accepted, but, still, we didn't have a printer.

"Since we're going to Stillwater tomorrow," I suggested to my husband, "why don't we stop at Adam's and get him to print the certificate for us?"  A phone call to our grandson resulted in a "Yes, sure!" from our college man.  He gave me directions to his digs, and I won't go into how I couldn't program them into our GPS because of a bad connection, and our phone GPS was leading us in the wrong direction. We went to the general area, and, thanks to  a friendly mail carrier, we located his address.

Shortly I had the copy of the Mother's Day certificate safely in my purse. "When are you coming up?" I asked Adam as we were ready to leave.  Then a thought occurred to me. "How would you like a dog?" I asked on impulse, knowing he loved Pebbles, their family pet living with us.  I explained about my allergies, and he said, "I'll take her," to which  I said, "You mean it?"

"I want her," Adam said.  Why didn't I think of this sooner?  It was an answer to my prayers!  I knew he would love her, wrestle with her, and let her sleep on his bed! (Not my thing at all!) Thank you, Lord! We had lunch and finished our shopping in high spirits.  Now if only we had a Cracker Barrel to use my Mother's Day present!  (We'll save it for a road trip to another grandson's graduation soon!)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Happy Ending

The newspaper circular from the hardware store had featured nice, hard-plastic Adirondack chairs for a good price in their ad. The colors were pretty, too, so yesterday afternoon we went to the store to check them out.  The sales clerk showed us beautiful Adirondack chairs, but they were wooden, and expensive. When I told him about the ad, he said, "Oh, that hardware store is in Blackwell.  That's where they have them." He showed me the circular, and we went home empty handed.

Howard went to an evening meeting at a men's retreat and got home late, but I couldn't get the pretty, green chair out of my mind.  This morning, he went to the retreat for breakfast and a service.  I had all my chores done when he got home and was ready to get out of the house.  "Let's go over to Blackwell and get one of those chairs for the front patio," I suggested.  I didn't tell him I had already called, and they had one left in my color.

We squeezed it (and an ottoman) into our car, then since it was noon, we decided to eat lunch, dismissing a Mexican place, a pizza place and a few other restaurants.  Finally we decided on Braum's.  It was crowded, being right off I-35, and as we waited for our order a pretty young girl sat down across from us, while a slender, older lady went to the counter.  When she came back, I realized it was a friend from high school, the class of 57!

I started to speak to her, but she had gone to another table and introduced herself.  I knew she had moved away, so she was probably trying to connect to old acquaintances.  I had run into her at a weekly Bible study when we first came back to this area a few years ago.  She had married her best friend's older brother, who was a doctor, so I am sure they knew many people in Blackwell.  In fact, her future husband had made a house call for me once when I was  seriously ill with Asian flu and Mama called the doctor.

When she passed back by our table after a lengthy and animated visit with those in the booth behind us, I said, "Hi, Karen!" she smiled politely and said "Hi,"  then I told her my name.  "From the Bible study...and high school!" I said.  Then she brightened and recognized me, and her granddaughter said, "I'm Brooke."   We talked a few minutes about their trip to see another granddaughter graduate.

"You have a beautiful granddaughter," I said, of the immaculately groomed, perfectly tanned, stylishly-dressed girl across from her.  I didn't tell her she reminded me of our own granddaughter, who will hardly leave the house without straightening her hair and putting on make-up, although she would be beautiful without it.

Howard asked my friend  about the people she had been talking to.  He was sure he knew one of them, and when they were leaving, he met him and talked over old times and people they had both known. Turns out he was a brother to a guy Howard had gone to school with (sadly, deceased), who knew Howard's dad and the family.

"I remember your father-in-law," Howard said to Karen as we left, to which she said, "Yes, he made house-calls!" The older doctor and his son had a practice together back then.

"I enjoyed that!" my talked-out husband said as we headed home, and I agreed that it had been fun.  Our spirits were lifted in spite of threatening weather, and we enjoyed the ride home on a newly-surfaced back road through verdant wheat fields just beginning to take on a gold tinge.

We were glad we decided on Braum's!  We would never have had those chance meetings otherwise! When  we see old school friends or acquaintances, the years seem to melt away and we are young again!  Just like it will be in heaven, when we meet Jesus and our loved ones!

Oh yes, Howard loved the contoured chair.  He has already tried it out and it has his seal of approval. And the apple-green color looks heavenly in front of my pastel flowers!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Not Just a Day in the Country!

Today dawned rainy and cool as usual, and I was a little under the weather.  About noon, though, the sun came out and my husband persuaded me to ride with him into the country to see a goat.  But let me back up a little.  Yesterday at a pet show at our granddaughter's school, I was admiring an unusual-looking hamster that looked like a mouse with whiskers that a dad had brought for his daughter.

"Well, it was either bring this, or two baby goats," the owner said.  I kept quiet, but I saw Howard's ears perk up at the mention of the word "goats."  Soon he was engrossed in conversation with the man, who in answer to Howard's question about the availability of goats for sale, said that his mother had some.  So here we were today.

The little goat she was willing to sell was cute, and the billy goat that sired him was rather magnificent: A Spanish breed of goat with strange horns that they got in Mexico. My would-be farmer and goat fancier husband was having a wonderful time, pulling information out of our genial, if a little unusual, fellow goat lover.  After a long conversation and inspection of various other animals on the place, it was decided that we would wait for the baby goat to be weaned before buying it.  I thought it was time to go by then.

But not before we were shown their "awesome" dog.  It was a monster! Huge, tiger-striped yellow-and-brindle with a bark like the roar of a lion!  She said it was an English Mastiff.  The dog was put back in the house when it looked like it might come through the fence toward us!  We thanked the dog owner and got into our car as she went inside.

I picked up the phone from the seat and noticed our granddaughter Allison had called, about the time Howard discovered our car wouldn't start!  To our shock and consternation, we were out of gas!  He made me dial the householder's number to explain why we were still parked in front of her house, then I returned Allison's call.  Turned out she was just up the road at her dad's shop and wanted a key to get something from inside. She said she would bring a can of gasoline to our aid.

Efforts to try to get it into the tank were futile, though.  The spout of the can was too short.  Our funnel was at home in our garage.  We tried various makeshift devices and a tiny funnel from the resident's garage.  Nothing worked. Allison said she would take us to look for a funnel in her dad's shop.  No funnel was found.  After my husband's unsuccessful search in the automotive department of a nearby store, our granddaughter took us all the way home to get one from our truck.  I wanted to just stay home while there, but  my house key was not in my purse, and Howard's key was with the one in our ignition back in the country.

Needless to say, we made it home after finally managing to funnel some fuel into the tank.  As I reflected on our misadventure, I had to admit that it was providential that our granddaughter "just happened" to be so close and was able to help us.  We had not seen her in over a month, nor had we had any contact with her, as she is always busy with her college schedule and/or working. And there she was just down the road from us!  And her call was exactly on time!  It had to be God!

I had to  agree with Psalm 34:19, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous: But the Lord delivereth him out of them all."  My husband insists we had gas all the time, that the car was just parked on uneven terrain. But I'm sure he will think twice before putting off a fill-up next time!  As I will make certain to have my house key and that he carries a funnel!  Some things are up to us!

Apple of His Eye

"Mimi," my 10-year old granddaughter "Kay" spoke over the phone,"will you pick us up after school Wednesday and take us to church later?" We often did this, although we usually picked them up at home at church time. They stay for an after-school program, so I agreed to pick them up at 5:15. "And one more thing," Kay went on, "can you bring Pebbles to school on Thursday for a dog show?"

I checked with Pa-Pa and he said  we would. "It's at 2:15.  Be there at 2:15," she emphasized.  "If you forget, just call  me and I'll remind you," the precise youngster stressed.  (I smiled. I didn't  know how we would call her, if we forgot!)

When we picked Kay and her younger sister Beth up, I told them we weren't taking them out to eat this time, because I  had made supper at home.  They loved the spaghetti, and enjoyed cake and jello with bananas for dessert.  After their girls club meeting, Kay again reminded us of the dog show.

Howard went and bought Pebbles a new leash and collar.  We weren't sure how she would react at school, since she is an alarmist barker when anyone walks by the house. She surprised us, though, and was pretty much on her best behavior, although she showed an uncommon interest in a hamster in its cage.  (Howard nudged me and reminded me she has killed 3 hamsters in her career.)

This wasn't just a dog show, I realized. There were baby ducks in a cardboard box, a Sphinx cat in a sweater (it had little or no hair), a bird in a cage, and several more dogs, including a gorgeous Husky with arresting, luminous eyes of pale green, a St. George Spaniel, a small bulldog, a huge lab, and other small dogs.  We were called in one by one, and finally, after 45 minutes of standing in the hall, it was our turn (Howard had given up and waited in the car).

Kay proudly held Pebbles for all to see.  The teacher asked her name, how old she was, and if she did tricks.  Kay demonstrated a kind of half-rollover she got Pebbles to do.  Some of the queries from the teacher were a little awkward. "Where does she sleep?" she asked, "in a kennel, or in your room?" To fill the silence, I chimed in that she stays with Mimi and Pa-Pa.

Then from the assembled group of children, a teacher asked, "So you are ten years old, and you said the dog is ten.  Did your parents get her for you when you were born?"  Kay didn't say anything, so I explained that our granddaughter was adopted at age 6.  "Oh, yes, I forgot," the teacher said.

I didn't explain that Pebbles is a casualty of divorce.  Our son loves the dog, but he is gone for months working out of state, so she is left with us, with occasional visits to see the rest of the family.  They also keep Pebbles if we are out of town, and the children love her.  Although I complain about having a dog in the house, mussed sofa pillows, dog hair and accidents, apparently we have adopted her, because we love our son.

The Bible speaks of adoption several times, in that we are adopted into God's family through Jesus. "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved," Ephesians 1:5-6.

Romans 8:15 assures us, " have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (16)The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (17) And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together."  Jesus is a Son by nature, but we are sons by adoption. Praise God!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Call Home

"Oh, we missed a call!" I said to my husband yesterday at the breakfast table.  I had gone into the bedroom to get the phone, and in surprise I exclaimed, "Corrin called! At 6:30 this morning!"  Our granddaughter in Georgia rarely calls us, and she would be in school several states away by this time, but I rang her phone, in case it was important.  There was no answer, but a few minutes later I heard the ping of a text.

"I wanted to ask for prayer for my friend's mom," it read, "I will call you later with details."  Sure enough, a couple hours later she called back, explaining her concern for a seemingly grave, mysterious illness of the lady.  I told her that  Pa-Pa wasn't present at the moment, and we would pray for her when he came home, but I would pray right then.

Afterwards, I could hear the emotion in her voice when she said, "That's why I wanted to call.  I wanted you to pray for me over the phone."  The 17-year-old called again later, even more concerned. She had said the mother of her best friend was like a second mom to her.  We were in the car, and I gave the phone to Howard to pray.  I knew she would be comforted by her grandfather's fervent prayers.

Last night when we got home from Bible study I texted our daughter to see how the patient was.  She responded that they could not find what was wrong with her, but that she was in a major hospital in Atlanta.  "We had prayer for her at church," I said, for after the Bible study, which broke up rather informally, I saw two women I knew as prayer warriors in the hall and had them pray with me.

When I said it was so sweet of Corrin to call us, Amy said, "She wanted to call at six this morning!  I told her she should just text, but she said, 'No, I want them to pray over the phone with me!'"

There is an old song called "The Royal Telephone," which compares prayer to a phone call to Jesus. It was written when telephone service was a new and novel thing, inspiring the songwriter with this Christian song.  While the song was popular and well received, I'm glad we don't need a telephone to talk to the Lord! He hears us without a telephone call when we pray, and we always have a direct connection with him!

The Bible says Jesus lives to make intercession for us! "Wherefore  he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them," Hebrews 7:25!  Mark 16:19 says he sits on the right hand of God! And again, in Romans: "...It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us," Romans 8:34.

As much as grandparents love to pray for their grandchildren, it is nothing compared to Jesus' love for His children as He intercedes for us to God, His Father!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

May Morning

Yesterday was the most gorgeous, cerulean blue-sky day in weeks! The temperature was resort-like, sweater-weather cool in the morning but warming under a benevolent sun rising to its zenith. I couldn't get enough of it.  I watched my husband turn shaggy lawns into carpets of verdant green as he sat on the riding mower doing endless loops over our son's and our yards. He is at it again today, I think as much for the fun of it as the necessity of beating back nature in her attempt to swamp us in a rain-induced jungle.

We are having the second day of respite from downpours, but the forecast is rain and thunderstorms for the rest of the week, with the sun coming out on Sunday. We are thankful for the window of opportunity to get things done between showers. Howard's artistic side is evident in the way he mowed our front lawn.  "I want to leave the clover," he said, "I want it to go to seed." So now we have neat little stands of clover, oval islands of blossoms like white foam in an emerald sea.

I'm glad he left the clover, because I see honey bees sipping its nectar.  I love clover honey! They have also been buzzing around the brightly colored flowers in pots on our front patio.  It's beginning to look like a flower garden out there as the plants proliferate in a profusion of color.  I must stop adding things, but I couldn't resist a cute, scrolled, steel basket hanger I saw on sale today.  I hung a small fern on it, but there is also a shelf to hold a potted plant if I choose.

My pansies are loving the extended spell of cool, rainy weather!  Their little faces shine cheerily as they bob up and down peeking over the rim of their pots.  A basket of pink impatiens, ordinarily a shade plant, is blooming happily in the infrequent, cool sunshine.  A sun-tolerant variety of impatiens on an old, slatted bench, is doing well, too, as are the petunias, marigolds and zinnias in their planters. A couple of geraniums are a bright spot of red in their terra cotta pot. We have one in a hanging basket on our side fence out back, as well.

Jesus loved gardens, I believe, as He and his disciples often resorted to a garden to pray.  In fact, it was in the garden with olive trees that Jesus was taken by soldiers after his betrayal by Judas.  Of course, human life began in the Garden of Eden, God's perfect garden. "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man who he had formed," Genesis 2:8.

Nature's transformation is pictured in Isaiah's descriptive language of the millennial reign of Christ, when "The wolf also will 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," Isaiah 11:6. I'm confident there will be gardens and flowers there, for Isaiah 65:21 says,   "...And they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them."  What a morning that will be!

The Broken Rose

The heavy rains lately have been very hard on our roses. The Knock-Out roses had done just that, knocking themselves out, so to speak, with their extravagant blooms.  We knew they were getting over loaded and planned to trim them back later on. But we were shocked after torrential rains to see the bushes bent to the ground the other morning!

"Can we tie them up, or something?" I implored my husband.  I remembered a pack of heavy brown twine that was left over from some rustic-themed Christmas wrappings I had bought. It worked!  Tied to the branches that had drooped, and pulled taut to an iron bracket on the house, the bush was restored to its former glory!  The twine was invisible from a distance, even though it was criss-crossed plentifully throughout the bush.

It reminded me of the scripture in Isaiah telling us, "A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench," Isaiah 42:3. This is part of a  prophecy of the Messiah, who is called "my servant," in verse 1.  Bruised reed can also mean bent reed, like my rose branches.  Jesus does not give up on people easily, but instead wants to mend broken lives.  No matter how desperate the circumstances , there is usually some small glimmer of hope hiding somewhere, and Jesus will not extinguish it. Like a smoldering coal covered with ash, the breath of the Holy Spirit can breath new life into the situation.

In our women's group at church, we have been looking into the lives of notable women in the Bible. We read about Hannah, Samuel's mother, who would not give up the hope of having a child, even promising to turn him over to the Lord if her prayers were answered.  During a time of  much agonizing and weeping in prayer, the priest Eli, overheard, and at first thinking her to be drunk, told Hannah to go in peace, that her desire would be  granted. She rejoiced and saw the fulfillment of her hope.

Another strong woman of the Bible was Leah, the unintended wife of Jacob.  She wanted desperately for him to love her, but he loved Rachel, whom he also married.  In Leah's obsession to bear many sons to gain his love, she was always disappointed.  But God remembered her, and it was her son, Judah, not Rachel's son, who was in the lineage of Jesus Christ.

Often times our spirits are bruised.  We long for distant loved ones, or have other desires that seem hopeless and never to be fulfilled. "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: But when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life," Proverbs 13:12.    A famous work by Johann Sebastian Bach, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring  says it all. When our desire is for Him, it is a tree of life!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Itsy Bitsy Spider (Not!)

"Howard, look at this!" I gasped as I saw an odd brown object on my purse.  We had just gotten in the car to go to church on this Mother's Day morning.  I had grabbed my beautiful, black patent purse, one I hadn't carried in a while, to go with the shoes I was wearing.  "It's a spider!" I shuddered as I saw its angular legs poking up by the fat, oval body.  "I wonder if it's a brown recluse!" I exclaimed.  He said to kill it, so I grabbed a wadded tissue over it and heard a pop as I smashed it under my foot.

I didn't know if I had brushed against a shrub as I came off the porch, maybe picking it up that way, or if it was in the car.  But since the purse had been atop a tall armoire in the bedroom, it may have come from there.  Anyway, I thought no more about it as we hurried on to church.

My husband was to teach Sunday School in the absence of the regular teacher, and he had come armed with several Bibles, booklets and papers as well as his guitar!  The lesson was from Acts and the coming of Pentecost, so he couldn't resist singing his old favorite, "Pentecostal Fire is Falling."  It was a novel and entertaining class to say the least!

Following our morning worship, the pastor introduced a lady speaker who addressed the Mother's Day crowd, especially, of course, all the mothers present.  It was an inspiring message, but she was very soft spoken, and my husband kept nodding off during the service, of which I became aware when his Bible kept sliding from his knees to the floor! After his studious week of preparing for teaching, and arising early this morning, I knew he was exhausted and sleeping in God's rest!

All the mothers were invited to come forward for prayer after the message.  When the altars were lined from wall-to-wall, husbands and fathers were asked to stand behind their wives and/or daughters and pray for them.  It was a very moving time of the service, and I really appreciated Howard's prayers as he put his hands on my shoulders and prayed for me. Tears and hugs were the order of the day at the conclusion of the service.

I wasted no time when I got home in researching Brown Recluse spiders on the internet.  The picture I found was identical!  When I told our son about it during his Mother's Day call, he asked if it had a violin pattern on the back.  I hadn't seen one, since I didn't examine it  closely.  We went out to the car where the wadded tissue was still on the floor, and under a magnifying glass, I could see the tell-tale markings on the shriveled shell!

A little later, I noticed a scraped-looking red bump on my wrist!  I read all the symptoms, and began feeling truly bad!  But perhaps I was just tired, and after a rest and pain reliever I felt fine.  Except for the fact that I was a little broody about having no kids on Mother's Day. We all live far apart, and even though I loved their phone calls and telephone visits, I missed family.  We'd had a wonderful dinner, made at home to avoid restaurant crowds, but how to fill the rest of the day? Nothing suited, so I'm afraid I was a mopey mommy most of the day.

I got to thinking later, though, that my pitying thoughts were something that was creeping in, like the Brown Recluse spider, spoiling my happiness and appreciation for all the good things and blessings in my life.  My husband, home, health, church and all the Lord has given me.  I have no room for spiders in my life.  In fact, we bought an insect bomb to set off in our house.  Reading the Bible at the breakfast table this morning was the perfect bomb to explode on the enemy, the devil!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Let It Go!

"Look at this funny video," I called to my husband.  I had to laugh at a man starting an electric lawn mower (obviously a self-propelled one) and being immediately jerked to the ground and dragged across the street. I guess it was the surprise element (and the look of surprise on the man's face!) that made me laugh.

"Why didn't he let go?" Howard asked, to which I responded, "He couldn't! Haven't you ever seen someone who couldn't let go in a dangerous situation like that?" It must be a fear mechanism that makes them hang on, or their hand is frozen to the spot and won't respond.

"I remember a time when I was in third grade and we were living in Colorado.  My dad and brother-in-law were working out there in the sugar beet harvest, if I remember right.  One day my sister's husband pulled out on to the highway in his car, and to our horror, there was my 3-year-old brother Jimmy hanging on to the bumper!"   Everyone screamed, catching the driver's attention, and Jimmy was rescued, thoroughly terrified, and having only scraped knees for his misadventure. He had been unable to let go!

For some reason the little boy was fascinated with Odell's big car. One day he was discovered with a paint brush and some paint he had gotten into, and the headlights of the car were covered with white paint! From then on, Odell referred to him as "My little 'panker.'"

My brother Roy was about 4, and one day our mother went into the convenience store nearby.  "Ma'am, I have something for you," the proprietor said, handing her three $1 bills. "Your little boy gave me these and said he wanted three candy bars."  A dollar back in the forties was probably worth $10 today, so I'm sure Mama was glad to get them back.  I'm not sure how many of the 5-cent candy bars she was able to return!

I can't help but think of images I have seen of men hanging on to ropes being pulled up by the dirigible Hindenburg that crashed in the air disaster of 1937.  They were too terrified to let go before they got too high to turn loose.

Obviously, my little brother wanted candy, and he knew money had to pay for it, but I doubt he knew right from wrong, although I'm sure he learned a lesson from that experience.  Sin is like hanging on to a rope one is afraid to release.  There is a saying, "Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay."

The Bible says in I John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  Verse 5 says, "...God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all." That light cannot be put out by a coat of white paint, nor can sin be covered by a coat of white paint! He is stronger than the sin that wants to enslave us!