Thursday, April 30, 2015


My son was lost at the dentist this week.  His name was called so I let him go back by himself.  After all, he is seventeen.  Then they kept coming back to the waiting room calling his name.  Finally, I said, "He's already back there."  "He is?"  She kept looking and coming back and saying, "I can't find him."  Hmm.  How do you lose a great big guy?  How can he hide in a room full of dentist chairs?  Was he suddenly so afraid of the drills and mouth vacuums that he hid himself?

As it turns out, when his name was called, or so we thought, it was for a "Jared," not "Derrick."  He got Jared's teeth cleaning instead of x-rays and an exam.  It's a good thing Jared wasn't schedule for a root canal or Derrick might have gotten that!

So when I got called in later this week for a scheduled cleaning, I got a filling instead.  You can be sure that I had them check that they had the right person.  Yep.  I wanted to ask them if they could use gold for my filling so that I would have something to leave for my children, but I didn't know if they could understand my macabre humor.

Lost...  "A Canaanite woman came out from that region and began to cry out, saying, 'Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.  (That's about as lost as you can get.)  But He did not answer her a word.  (Do you ever feel like God is ignoring you?)  And His disciples came to Him and kept asking Him, saying, 'Send her away, for she is shouting out after us.'  But He answered and said, 'I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'  But she came and began to bow down before Him (worship Him), saying, 'Lord, help me!'  And He answered and said, 'It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.'  But she said, 'Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their master's table.'  Then Jesus answered and said to her, 'O woman your faith is great; be it done for you as you wish.'  And her daughter was healed at once."  Matthew 15:22-28

Oops, she, a Canaanite, came when she wasn't called.  Yet, she was so desperate that she caused quite the scene.  The disciples "kept" asking Him to send her away because she was shouting after them.  Annoying.  Then Jesus insults her, in fact insinuates that she is a "dog."  That is what a good Jew would think of her.  However, Jesus knew what was going to happen, but was testing her so that others could witness what He was going to do.  I don't believe He was as cruel as He seemed.  Her reply was perfect.  "Even the dogs feed on the crumbs..."  That certainly happens at my house.  They save me from having to sweep up from under that table after a meal.  He said He was sent "only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," but like Paul, He truly was sent to seek and to save those who are lost.  Even the Gentiles are included in the "Go ye into all the world..."  His ultimate answer was, "O woman your faith is great; be it done for you as you wish." 

Just like my son lost at the dentist, her daughter went away with a cleaning.  Because of her faith her child was healed, as she wished.  I did not cause a raucous at the dentist, but if they still could not find my son when he was lost back there, I was about to, ya know what I mean? 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It is an old saying that mothers have eyes in the back of their heads.  There are the five senses and then one more for moms: seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling, and then a mother's sense of knowing when something just doesn't seem right. Maybe it's too quiet. Some call it a woman's intuition.  Uh-huh, you know it's true.  But even then, we don't have anything on God. He is the all-knowing, all-seeing One.

"For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth
that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His."
II  Chronicles 16:9

I'll never forget the collective gasp when little five year old Louie fell and skinned his knee in the Little League stands.  All hearts went out to him as a tear tracked down his cheek because his mother had just died and wasn't there to kiss it and make it better.  His eyes looked over all of us in the stands, and we weren't his mother even if we reached out to help.  God's undying love is there for those whose heart is completely His.  He sees.  He knows.  He can make it better.

"For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face,
nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes."
Jeremiah 16:17
She's been all over the internet and television.  She's been called the Mother of the Year, this single mom of five girls and one son.  She is the mother in Baltimore who saw her sixteen year old son in the crowd of those who were throwing bottles and rocks at the police in Baltimore.  He was wearing a hoodie, a mask, and yet, she picked him out of the mob.  While not necessarily condoning some of her methods, nevertheless, she is to be applauded for taken her son in hand literally and disciplining him (wop, wop upside the head), a little physical force to make a believer out of him.  This was not who she wanted her son to be and was fearful for his welfare, even for his very survival on the tension filled streets.
"And there is no creature hidden from His sight,
but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him
with whom we have to do."
"You can fool some of the people some of the time,
but you can't fool all of the people all of the time,"
and you can't fool mom hardly any of the time,
and you can't fool God any of the time, not ever, never!
"Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'If it is too difficult in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, will it also be too difficult in My sight?'...'Behold, I am going to save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west; and I will bring them back...and they will be My People and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.'"
Zechariah 8:6-8
It won't be too difficult in God's sight, whatever it is, even if it seems hopeless in everyone else's sight.   They aren't our mama.  Even better, He's our Daddy!

"Country roads, take me home to the place I belong..."  Yes, I was a John Denver fan, my favorite was this and "Rocky Mountain High."  Even more, I'm a country fan, as in wide open spaces.  I have lived out in the orchards and have enjoyed living in small towns with breathing space.  Ahh. 

San Diego is probably one of the most beautiful cities in the world and Point Loma Nazarene University is situated there with a gorgeous view of the ocean.  To go there, we had to leave home, the small community of Los Osos across the bay from Morro Bay, and relocate from a northern shore to a southern shore.  No matter that we were in a big city, I did not take the beauty for granted on the edge of the ocean.  However, I remember coming home from college and visiting friends who were my home away from home.  They had built a new home tucked away in a quiet valley on the edge of the wild.  It took my breath away, not the house, but the stillness of a quiet beauty in nature of the countryside broken only by bird song.  My heart hurt, ached, from the impact of such loveliness like a lover who had been separated from their chosen getting another glimpse. 

I read words by an editor of Log Cabin Homes, Diane Hintz.  "Country homes are comfort homes...they are the places we were raised as kids and the type of home we'd like to live in again.  They're homes that feed the spirit...where we want to celebrate holidays, eat meals made by loved ones, and relax with family and friends.  They're homes where we can build bonfires in the yard, let the dog roam freely outside, hang out the laundry and not worry about bothering the neighbors."

Though I love my home, my subdivision does not provide a lot of elbow room.  Sometimes it's hard not to bother the neighbors.  However, a couple of my grown children have been able to locate on their own small chunks of country with large yards for their kids to run free, climb trees, have chickens, sit around bonfires, hang out their laundry, twirl until they are dizzy on tire swings, and to provide a place for gatherings. 

Me, I have my tomato plants, blueberries and strawberries, green space with wisteria, a Japanese maple, crepe myrtles, a butterfly bush, a pomegranate tree, a volunteer Sycamore tree that was a young whipper-snapper last year that is now taller than two or three of me, all in my shoe-box size yard, a yard we planted five or so years ago.  However, when I come over the rise and look down where my home is situated where the snow covered mountains are in the distance, cows are grazing in green pastures, I luxuriate in the wide open spaces where rice farmers invite the wild geese and swans to rest in their migrations.  It is a wink to country, and I am satisfied.

So, as I ponder a country home life, I roused myself to make a country blueberry bread pudding,   comfort food in my little home in my own pinch of the country:   Take a dry loaf of gluten free bread, mix four eggs, a cup of wild blueberries, two and half cups of cream, a half cup of sugar, sprinkled by cinnamon and a tablespoon of vanilla and pour over the cubed bread in an 8 x 10" pan.  Cook for 40 minutes and serve hot with vanilla ice cream.  To savor, close your eyes and imagine you are out on your back porch on a warm spring late afternoon where your dears (grandchildren) and the antelope, I mean, the hound dogs play.  It's okay if that's my supper, though my boys devour left over fried chicken which I didn't have to wring necks and pluck.  Sometimes its best not to go to far back to life in the country.

Jesus was a country boy who grew up walking dusty roads, through wheat fields, preaching  in meadows or from a boat on the shore.  He had to get away at times by himself to the country.  But the city  came to him. "And when evening had come, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him  all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed.  And the whole city had gathered at the door.  And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons...And in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there. And Simon and his companions hunted for Him; and they found Him, and said to Him, 'Everyone is looking for You.'" Mark 1:33-37.  You can take Jesus out of the country, but you can't take the country out of Jesus: He needed to get out to a lonely place, find a country road to take Him home, home, the place where He could talk to His Father.

Monday, April 27, 2015

As a child, I loved anything my mother played on the piano.  However, some of my favorites were when she played the old spirituals like "Get on board, lil' children; there's room for many a more."

 Sunday was such a special day as we celebrated and reflected on my husbands almost 37 years of pastoring as he retires from being a senior pastor as he is now the area director over six counties for Teen Challenge.  He will still have opportunities for preaching as well as other ministries.  Yet, as we were surrounded by loving family and friends, it was a tender moment, taking the time to count our blessings.  All our children were married during the time since we planted the church, and our seventeen grandchildren have been born as a result.  Even we added three more to our family by adoption while church planting here.  We can literally count our blessings!  There were saints who have been with us for the long haul, kindred spirits who will always be in our corner whether we are close or far apart,  as well as new precious people.  It's been a wonderful journey.

However, I am reminded of the theme verse of New Beginnings which makes the name of our church apropos.

 "Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past. 
 'Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? 
 I will even make a roadway in the wilderness...
Because I have given waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert,
To give drink to My chosen people.
The people whom I formed for Myself,
Will declare My praise.'"
Isaiah 43:18-21

There is a call to get on board with the new pathways God is opening up for His people.
God is not a God of ruts, but of new roadways even in the wilderness.
"Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?"
Don't miss it!
Get on board!
And, yes, there's room for many a more.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

"Great Is Thy Faithfulness by Thomas Chisholm"
The author of this hymn was born in a log cabin in Kentucky and did not become a Christian until 27.  His health was unstable and he went form various jobs.  He even admitted there was no dramatic story behind this hymn.  Yet Lamentations 3:22-23 became precious to him "His compassions fail not, They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness."  It's not about us.  It's about Him.

What a testimony.  It is not about a somebody, but by a nobody about a great God.  It is not about a crisis event, but about a daily walk with God.  That is not the world's way, but it is God's way to take a simple offering of a simple man's poem and turn it into a blessing for the hundreds of thousands in this beloved hymn, one of my favorites. 

My little four year old grandson woke from a nightmare.  He was practically inconsolable,  Finally, he was able to tell his mother what his dream had been about.  He was a superhero and wanted to fly, but she would not let go of his hand. 

We all wish we were superheroes.  We wish we could fly, do great deeds and be flashy famous with our super powers.  Alas, we are held here in our human lowliness.  Children's author/illustrator Richard Scarry had a special character, Lowly Worm.  That's us.  The world today doesn't revel in humility,  but it is a quality God cherishes: "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God."  Micah 6:8.  There it is in a nutshell. 

My autoimmune disease combined with other things makes my usefulness even as a grandma puny sometimes.  I always wish I could do more, but am painfully aware of my weaknesses.  They are a constant reminder.  But His faithfulness is super-human and is new every morning.  It is about Him, not us.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A happy memory was when my kids were little and they attended a very small Christian School in Roseburg, Oregon, which had an annual speech meet.  The children were amazing!  I can hear their little voices and see their gestures still in my mind.  Somewhere there is an old video that needs to be dug out, but it's probably behind a stack of books somewhere.  A favorite choice was "Spaghetti," by Shel Silverstein. 

Right now, we are transitioning our books from my husband's church office to his new Teen Challenge office trying to decide which go where: home, here, or there for as it seems, books are everywhere!  So with this poem resonating in my head, I made an adaption from "Spaghetti"...

Books, books, all over the place,
Up to my elbows--up to my face,
Over the carpet and under the chairs,
Into the hammock and laid round the stairs,
Filling the bathtub, and covering the desk,
Making the sofa a mad lumpy mess...

Queen Esther, for such a time as this,
I need to remember that books played a vital role in Israel's history...
"During the night the king could not sleep
so he gave an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles,
and they were read before the king."
Esther 6:1

Thursday, April 23, 2015

On a lighter note...

Confessions of a Fictionista

When I'm sick abed,
Thoughts are stuffy in my head.
I'm not good company to keep,
but don't feel like counting sheep.
So I invite others in to wander
Of whom I am quite fonder:
My imaginary friends in books are found.
I'm soon lost in pages where stories abound.
I am never lonely, never bored
As long as I have books to hoard.
So don't feel sorry for me or sad,
As long as I can read, I'm glad.
A new poem I wrote while sick this week.
"And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail."
Isaiah 58:11


Wednesday, April 22, 2015


There's good grief, bad grief, hard grief, gut-wrenching grief, and complex grief, but usually it is a mixed bag.  I am no expert.  Since my mother and five out of six siblings have/had alzheimers, I am familiar with the long good-bye.  It was a relief when my parents, both afflicted, went on to their reward freed from such bonds.  I lost an uncle to it this week.  Only two of my aunts and uncles are left.  Their lives have had grace and prayers poured upon them from the generations that went before them down to their children.

But grief isn't always about death.  I've read that divorce is the grief that won't die for some.  Complex grief is when there is unfinished business.  Unresolved forgiveness perhaps.  Sadly there is no guarantee that another may grant forgiveness, but that must be lifted somehow from your shoulders to God's.

Grief is not just for those who are gone, but for those who are left behind with the coulda, shoulda, woulda's.  Adjustments to the hole where someone once was is the everyday pain.  It can be the hurt felt when one's heart is stretched from here to heaven.  Sometimes, I've heard, one may feel that they are doing better then they are blindsided by an unexpected blow from the fist of grief. 

Thus grief may be gradual, continual, or episodic.  It could come as a shock, a trauma that shakes one down to their soul.  Or it could come as the expected, or as the unprepared for loss.  It is grueling hard work to grieve for some, slogging through terrible pain.  Some go into denial and shelve it, numb it, and refuse to deal with it.  Some become angry with God and even refuse to forgive God. 

For Christians, it is the challenge to get the work done that the Lord requires of you. I think what I am trying to wrap my mind around is about leaving a legacy of good grief, no regrets.  That may be the prayers for others, the need to forgive and be forgiven, whatever it takes to get your heart right and have nothing standing between you and your Creator. A will is important, but a will to leave an inheritance of godliness is more so.  Leave only love behind when you are gone from this earth.  John Wesley used to say "Christians die well."

As I've said before, the simple prayer that reverberates in my soul is from a carol from the manger, "Fit us for heaven to live with Thee there." That's why He sent us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.  Because what comes after grief?  Hope.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort;
who comforts us in all our affliction
so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance,
so also our comfort is abundant through Christ."
II Corinthians 1:3-5