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An Overwhelming Dream

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“God always answers, one way or another, even when people don’t recognize His presence. In a dream for instance, a vision at night, when men and women are deep in sleep, fast asleep in their beds.” Job 33:14,15 (MSG)

“I am sorry but I cannot allow you to use the cafeteria/gym for your church services, Rev. Hill” said the principal. “That new building has only one working bathroom facility; therefore, the building cannot be available.”

The church we started in Kihei, Maui in our garage was expanding. It was beautiful to have Hawaiians, Japanese, Spanish plus other nationalities worshiping with us. Our small congregation one Sunday hosted a Samoan lady who was a royal princess. Once a Japanese professional to the United Nations joined us. We embraced the diversity while celebrating our brothers and sisters in the family of God.

Although the school outcome was negative, we trusted the Word stated in Revelation 3:7 “The one who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens a door that no one can shut and who shuts a door that no one can open.” (ISV) The next morning the phone rang and it was the principal. She stated, “Last night while I was sleeping, I had a dream about your request and knew that I needed to respond differently. I want you to feel free to use the building each Sunday. The one restroom should accommodate you nicely. Use the chairs there and whatever you need at a small sum  to cover utiliities and clean the facility. You may begin this Sunday if you wish. I will give you a key.” That symbolic door, figuratively, had swung wide open with the key of David!

God had used a Hawaiian, precious, cultural way of answering through a dream that manifested His righteous sovereignty. Ancient Hawaiians believed in four gods and lesser gods before the missionaries came who led their human followers through dreams that connected them together. The dreamer was often the oldest head of his family to be guided for answers in urgent situations and matters. Upon awakening, the answer was clear as to the direction to take. This practice is often still revered and practiced today.

We rejoiced and celebrated the revelation of God in such a unique way that only He could have designed with His incredible wisdom.  As my 95 year old father, a former minister, still often gives the favorite quote he found, “Our extremity is God’s opportunity!”

I , at times, need crucial answers to life’s dilemmas and demands. I dream of new pursuits, too. Don’t let me craft my  own answers but wait on You expectantly.  If an affirmative answer arrives, then I will recognize my Heavenly Father opened that door with His own key–The Key of David!

 

 

Quietly Singing in Chaos

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The LORD your God in the midst of you is mighty, he will save, he will rejoice over you with joy, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17(KJ2000)

With eagerness and excitement, we began our twentieth year in Maui knowing that in six months we were finally joining our family in Missouri. Reality set in as the time of departure neared. Larry and I resigned our jobs and commitments, then retired. We marveled at the airport check-in counter. Our total baggage weight greatly exceeded the limit but our carrier sent it through with no extra charge. Such aloha kindness!

In the meantime, our son, Chris, rented a beautiful duplex for us and he and Jeff, our other son, furnished it for our arrival. All was in place with the kitchen serviceable and the bed made. Most joyful was our family reunion.

Two months went by when my husband said, “I don’t feel like our ministry is over. The call of God once bestowed, has no retirement.” I was dismayed that our family could be disjointed again.

We celebrated my father’s 90th birthday party with the church that both he and my husband had pastored. Both Larry and I felt we were in a ‘bubble’ of God’s phenomenal leading. By that evening, we were approached for Larry to be the interim pastor and shortly thereafter, planned to move there again.

Our hearts broke, though, that once again our sons and their families would be very disappointed. We were all sad and our grandchildren, sorrowful and questioning.

The church found a beautifu parsonage, completely furnished, and paid our expenses while we continued paying our lease in MO. Larry was later asked to be their permanent pastor. That meant moving all from our leased home.

Our family was devastated but understanding while the little ones needed comforted again. Our two sons sat down against the wall for a final breather on our final moving day. Chris got a call right then from the realtor that the home they were considering buying was theirs. God in His beauty took care of providing his dream home..

Settled again, my emotions entangled as I anguished the family loss but rejoiced in our church family. God worked through all the clutter within to say, “I will quiet you with my love and rejoice over you with singing.” I immediately sensed my partnership with God.

Two years laterr, we moved back to Missouri, becoming first-time home owners. God had the most pleasant surprise of all with His timing with our family. Our two sons and their wives expanded their families with three adopted children that joined the four precious ones. Our gracious God delights in giving His family the best!

God, let my heart stay attuned to your singing while I experience your rest in any situation without. Amazing how that catchy tune of Yours becomes a choir of believers when You are the director!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Love of Two Fathers

“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it–we’re called children of God!”  1John 3:1a (MSG)

Those who knew my father, Jack, saw a remarkable young man who in his 20s found the love of a Heavenly Father. His alcoholic father disowned him as a result but later welcomed him back as son. His father also enjoyed his own Heavenly Father before he passed away.

During World War II, my father served in the Army as a tail gunner in a bomber aircraft in the Aleutian Islands. One incident that impacted his life occurred when his plane began plummeting to the ground. All on board knew their lives were to end. Remarkably,the plane leveled off, ascended and eventually landed. Later a prayer warrior asked my father what happened on such a date and time and he replied he was going to his death. Her reply startled him. “At that particular time I was doing my dishes and felt so impressed to immediately go to prayer for you. I travailed with an earnest intent until I felt the burden lifted!” They rejoiced in God’s protection.

With sorrow, my father was the first one who saw me after my breech birth with a deformed body and a vegetative mind. My mother greatly suffered with the delivery. The doctor feared seeing me would be too much of a shock. The doctor warned if I lived beyond three days, I would be a non-thinking cripple the remainder of my life. My father knew that only God could intervene in my behalf so he prayed and urged the church they attended to join  him for a healing. Intense prayer prevailed and by the third day, I was a normal infant completely healed by my Heavenly Father.

As I was the first child in the family and my father later a pastor; I felt the pressures of being perfect. I was taught the law of God and  felt a Heavenly Father also  demanded it. This feeling continued when I married my husband who became a pastor, too.

As I grew older, it was my father who reflected with poignancy, “Ruthie, I taught you the law of God but wish I had impacted you more with the grace of God. I made it hard for you to accept wholeheartedly  the finished work of Christ.” To this day, his favorite song by Frederick M. Lehman is the following:

The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell. It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell. The guilty pair, bowed down with care God gave His Son to win. His erring child He reconciled and pardoned from his sin. O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure the saints and angels’ song!

“Thank you to my Heavenly Father and my father, I live freely forgiven every day in every way! No human perfection needed!”

Daily to Yearly Pathways with God

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“Blessed by the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” Psalms 68:19 (KJV)

“Okay, girls,” my mother said. “Now that breakfast is over and before you head off to school, it’s time for devotions from Our Daily Bread.” My youngest sister was in elementary school, my middle sister in junior high and I, in high school. Often our heads were filled with the day coming up with all kinds of school activities. Mom made sure the Word was implanted in our hearts. Sundays and Wednesdays were long days with church mandatory, especially since our parents were both pastors.

We grew up in the country but had a world-wide view. All the missionaries and evangelists stayed in our home, seasoning our lives with the trials and triumphs of lives dedicated to the Master.

All this did not shield me from going through a very difficult period during adolescence when I felt I had to be perfect for my parents, our church and especially for God. My days were filled with anxiety; my nights were overwhelming.  Even in my sleep, I would cry out, awakening my parents. Yet, my mother continued to have devotions each morning while she and Dad also verbally prayed over me.

One day I went to a Christian widowed neighbor. She, too, talked with me and assured me of being kept under God’s protection. The result changed my life. What was the greatest trial had been a life lesson I never forgot.

The years multiplied. I prayed for the man I was to marry that he would know Christ as Savior if he wasn’t a believer. When I met him, he had just been saved a year. We had two sons and before they left for school, morning devotions were read from Our Daily Bread.

Our family was delightfully enlarged when they married Christian young ladies. Between them we now have seven grandchildren, four biological and three adopted.

Looking back to those formative years started out well. I treasure the good days and the hard days. What do I still daily read? Our Daily Bread. Thanks, Mom!

“You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.”              Psalms 65:11(KJV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter’s Journey to God

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“These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy.”           Luke 18:16b (MSG)

Peter loved life and relished family, church and school activities. His beaming face portrayed his love of God to all.

Larry, my husband, pastored the church where Peter attended. His parents had responsibilities there, as well. He would accompany them, assisting as needed.  He became a Royal Ranger, similar to the Boy Scouts and wore his uniform with pride. His desire was to become an evangelist when he grew up to tell others of Jesus’ great love.

At Christmas time one year, Peter said to Larry, “Pastor I have a present for you. ” He gave permission for him to open it right away. There in the little red, wrapped folds was a 50 cent piece for his friend. Larry was joyful and Peter, jubilant.

Peter began to decline in health and tests were done. His mommy asked Larry to accompany them to the doctor’s for the test results. The devastating diagnosis? Leukemia! At that time, there were no known cures so Peter became progressively worse, to everyone’s dismay. Unable to keep attending elementary school, he needed to be tutored and it was my honor to do so. Throughout his treatment, he remained cheerful and kind.

Due to his weakening condition, he became confined to bed most of the time with his Mom nearby. One day he stated to her, “I’m back, Mommy! I’m back!”

“Where did you go, Peter?” she asked.

“Jesus took me to heaven. It’s beautiful there. I saw family, too. You wouldn’t believe the colors that I’ve never seen before. It’s such a beautiful place!”

Within a short time, Peter was taken to the hospital and soon passed away. Larry witnessed this with sorrow and yet a sense of knowing he was with his very best Friend of all.

At the funeral, we gazed at his body, clothed in his Royal Ranger outfit. We all knew he had exchanged it for his new robe of white. He was now in the arms of Jesus, holding His own pride and joy at last.

Lord, though I may weep over the death of my loved ones here, reassure me of the total adoration You feel welcoming those that serve You. Death is really the door to eternal bliss in your beautiful home.

 

 

 

 

 

Michael, Loved by God, Part II

“May there be peace within your walls and security…” Psalms 122:7 “And My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”   Phil. 4:19 (NIV)

Michael settled into his new secluded island home along the beach, safely sheltered in his sleeping bag and tent.  Each morning, Larry brought him his free meal after completing his security shift. Soon others contributed their meals which he gratefully accepted.  Even a policeman heard of the meal donation and decided he would give him money, as well.   Soon other policemen also gave money donations. Michael was protected and well-cared for!

After awhile, Michael explained that the hotel’s rich food was disrupting his system.  Healthier food was brought instead.  Also presented to Larry was a small list of what he desired from the store– items like peanut butter, jelly and bread along with the last item, ice cream.

Larry, after leaving Michael and traveling home,  became agitated.  He thought, how in the world could he request these things, especially ice cream.  Immediately God reminded, “Who are you to be complaining when I take care of all of your own needs? Michael is someone who cannot help himself. Our pleasure together is to meet his desires with delight.”  Larry immediately repented of the disgruntled feelings and all items were joyfully presented.   He kept Michael’s list in the back of his Bible for many years to remind him of God’s grace offered to us and the grace He wants us to show others.

After a time, we left Maui and returned two years later, Larry, still with the list in his wallet, inquired of Michael and discovered he had been hit by a car and died.  Larry was stunned but God comforted with the outcome that Michael woke up in his forever home, with all needs supplied by a forever Friend who welcomed him at last into splendor.

Close to your heart, Jesus, using your eyes let me be your hand extended to joyfully care for your precious ones.  What pleasure awaits!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael, Loved by God

Rest for the weary-Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. - stock photo

 

“See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.  Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.” Isaiah 49:16 (NLT)

Often walking down the busy highway, we would see this African-American 30ish young man, often carrying his clothing and possessions in a drawstring plastic bag on his back.  His body mirrored the way he probably felt within–hunched over, dejected, ambling slowly, unkempt, and uncared for.

One particular weekend I had cleaned the rooms of our home and scrubbed the bathrooms until they shined.  I made a chicken dinner and expected to enjoy a nice, quiet afternoon before heading back into a week filled with all its demands.  Later, I got a call from Larry, still at our church.  “I saw this homeless man again and I hope it’s okay with you to bring him home to share our Sunday meal.”

I agreed and so at the table, we chit-chatted amiably about various topics.  At the end of the meal, I became agitated when I heard my husband say, “Michael, perhaps you’d like to take a bath before you leave.  If you’d like another change of clothes, our son in college left some here that I think would fit you.” Hey, wait a minute, I thought.  We fed him, wasn’t that enough?  Now he’s going to take a shower in a clean bathroom and dress in our son’s clean clothes? Enough already.  I soon repented of my ill thoughts as I saw dignity appear as he emerged a nice looking young man.

Michael heard that Larry worked on the other side of the island so asked if he could ride there with him that night.  His desire was to find a new lodging place rather than in the culvert where he now lived under the highway.  With a grace that accommodated, Larry did just as he requested.  Michael chose a beach spot, hidden with foliage from the road, and laid out the sleeping bag and erected the tent Larry had given.  This was his new dwelling place.

Little did we know the lessons we would learn of God’s loving, tender, care as He wrote Michael’s name on His own palm while sending human hands to assist. I hope to share more in my next blog.

Lord, I am so glad that you look within destroyed walls to see the sweet  person as you build new walls of protection within and without your precious treasure.

A Woman of Beauty

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Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid.  Go home and do as you have said.  But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.” I Kings 17:13 (NIV)

Elijah lived, walked and talked with God and his spiritual tummy while full did not equate to his natural tummy.  It was empty, growling with no food to be found in his journey.  God made a very unusual request of him.  “Go to a widow of Zarephath for food.”

This woman and her son were about to starve too.  She was gathering sticks for a fire to make their last meal with little flour and oil in her home.  Elijah arrives on the scene and makes his request.  She tells him of her final meal preparation with starvation and death likely hovering near.  That doesn’t deter Elijah in making a daring request: “Feed me first and then feed your little family. The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the Lord sends rain.”

Rather than balking and stalking away, she does just as he asks.  That takes daring courage to listen to this stranger.  Incredibly, she was able to feed the three of them plus others of her family there who later joined them.

At the church in Lahaina was an older woman named Rose.  She emanated the beauty of Christ within as she cared for others who were hungry.  She would gather local dated bread products from businesses and give to those she knew and visitors that came, at no expense to her or them.  Sundays were special as she gave abundantly.

Word came that Rose was dying so a dear friend and I went to pray with her in the hospital.  She was unconscious as I prayed aloud.  Afterwards holding her hand, I said, “Tell God I love Him when you see Him!” Immediately, her heart monitor’s waves spiked as though she heard me as we all rejoiced together before it stabilized as before.  Rose was going home to see the Living Bread, Christ Himself! (John 6:51)

Communion is such a sacred, celebratory time as I partake of the bread that represents You, Lord, in giving yourself on the Cross.  The grape juice reminds me of your life blood given for me.  What blessed hope to know some day I shall see You in all your splendor.  My soul is hungry for You!

Radiance and Reflection

 

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“The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Hebrews 1:3a, Matthew 5:16

He stumbled into the church, inebriated, and meandered his way to the front after the Christmas service had begun.   Much preparation had gone into the beauty and the sanctity of the service.  Christmas carols were being sung and during  “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” Jim sprang from the pew and made a beeline to the altar.  He determined he wasn’t going to wait any longer to experience the fullness of the joy of the Christ Child erupting in his heart.  Pastor Larry lead Jim to an understanding that Christ was born to die for the sins of the world, rise again and is now seated next to the Heavenly Father.  Jim accepted the Savior into his heart that night and began to experience the fullness of God radiating within.  Old life habits disappeared and a new life began.  All were amazed at the life transformation.  Jim became a caring, sensitive generous man both to family and friends. God was beautifully displayed within and reflected without.

Within the church, there was a wonderful Christian woman named Frances who displayed God’s character within by mirroring Him outwardly to all who knew her.  Although elderly, she helped clean the church and climbed ladders to help paint church walls.  She made her special spaghetti from scratch for church functions. She was always attentive to her husband, a man heavily into alcohol addiction.  She made sure of a clean house and that she had prepared a good meal for her husband before church services or any of its functions.  Praying diligently for her husband to accept Christ as Lord and Savior, she didn’t see it happen, as far as we know. That never deterred her, however, from honoring him as her husband who she was joined with in holy matrimony.

God’s desire is that we radiate with His glorious presence through every fiber of our being.  That allows us to reflect Him to others with encouraging words, thoughtful deeds and a heart overflowing with God’s love, even when it’s not reciprocated.

Lord, my prayer for this year of 2016 is that I might explode with Your presence in my life and that together we impact this world as only You know how.  Great is Thy Faithfulness!

 

 

 

Cherished Adoption

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“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.  This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)

“It’s time.  You need to get to the hospital as soon as possible,” said the administrator.  “Your baby is about to be delivered!” This longed for little girl was about to enter the world and the life of Nikki and Jeff.

Nikki’s dear friend, Ashley, worked with an agency called, Jesus Was Homeless.  A concerned, addicted, homeless mom needed assurance that the baby within have a home she couldn’t provide after her birth. Never had this occurred before or since for an adoption to be requested.  Ashley contacted Nikki and Jeff to ask if they would consider adopting.  Unable to have children of their own up to this point, it was with assurance and grateful appreciation the answer yes resounded.   A little unborn girl became a treasure in their hearts.

The biological mother gave birth with Nikki also in the delivery room.  The nurse cleaned, weighed, and measured the baby and gave her immediately to Nikki as her adopted daughter.  The biological father and daddy, Jeff, were shortly after invited into the room.  With an overnight stay for Jeff, Nikki and the baby in their own room; she was named Ellianna, meaning “God has answered” and Love is her middle name.

Joey, Elli’s older brother by one year, was still with his homeless parents.  So concerned were Nikki’s parents, that they then fostered Joey for a few months until the new parents caught their breath with his infant sister.  Joey came to live as a fostered child with Jeff, Nikki and Elli.  A year later, he became their adopted son, Joseph Hero.

From the time that Ellianna and Joseph were conceived, God designed them to be adopted and cared for by a family that loved them.  God has also adopted them into His family and when they come to the age of accountability of knowing right from wrong; we are praying that they will choose Jesus as their elder Brother, God their Heavenly Father, and the Holy Spirit as their best family of all!

Adopted by God is such a cherished family status created by God Himself for each of us.  Jesus signed my birth record with His own blood and I am embraced and accepted as a child of God. My heart explodes with praise and gratitude!