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“Angel” in Disguise

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“And Jesus called a little child unto him.” Matthew 18:2a (KJV)

“My name is Angel,” she said on opening day in my kindergarten class.  With tousled hair, rumpled clothes and scruffy shoes, she did not attract many friends.  As the year began, I set up learning stations around the room with hands on activities.  Angel  soon understood the routine of learning math, language arts, etc. However when playtime arrived,  most alarming was her use of swear  words while interacting with others.

Larry had just graduated from Bible school and assumed his first pastorate.  Children and the bus ministry were very dear to his heart and so he canvassed the town where the school was located.  Unknowingly, he knocked on Angel’s door and met her mother.  Angel and her older brother, Billy, were allowed to go to Sunday School and children’s church.  Both became regular church attenders and Angel’s favorite place to sit on the church bus was on Larry’s lap.  Even when she smelled of urine, she still sat where she enjoyed friendship and acceptance.  On the way home, she looked up and said one time, “Pastor Larry, I love you!” Larry answered, “I love you, too, Angel.”

One snowy, blustery Sunday morning the bus arrived at their house. Amazingly, the upstairs window went up and both Angel and Billy jumped off the roof and down the snowbank to get to the bus. Their mommy was drunk as she laid across the exit door downstairs, but they were determined to get to church.

Jesus called Angel to give her little heart to Him and she accepted this best Friend.  What a change in her confidence in the church and classroom!  Angel’s speech was no longer peppered with swear words.  She blossomed in her personality and attracted new friends.  When Jesus called Angel to give her heart to Him, she glowed with a halo all her own!

Help me, Lord, to not have preconceived, prejudicial surface views of people but to see them through Your eyes of love. 

 

 

 

Monta and the Spirit of Adoption

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You received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.  Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”          Romans 8:15b (NLT)

“How can a woman be pregnant with hope and give birth to a young lady?” I observed Lindsay, our daughter-in-law as she worshiped and raised her hands in adoration of her heavenly Father and watched this amazing event happen in a Christian women’s conference called Designed for Life!  Through an international organization three months later she, her husband Chris, and three daughters hosted over Christmas an eleven year old girl named Monta from Latvia.

It had taken a labor of faith and love in raising the funds for that to occur.  The following summer again with fund raisers such as baking multiple loaves of bread for sale with businesses assisting in fund raising as well, Lindsay and Chris accumulated enough funds to host Monta for six weeks.

During the following year, Chris studied hard to achieve a business master’s degree while working full time as an information technology specialist.  Lindsay is a homeschooling mom and a teacher with Classical Conversations once a week.  Yet the yearning to add another daughter/sister named Monta was embraced by the entire family.  In many hours of conversing with each other and separately, Katelyn, Elise and Alison, ages 8, 6 and 3 respectively were consulted and embraced the decision to enlarge their family.

This gigantic leap of faith involved Chris and Lindsay traveling half a world away to meet with the adoption agency there and then to meet Monta and live with them there for a month as the challenging process began.  In the meantime, both sets of grandparents took care of the girls at home.  Two shorter trips were also necessary to travel there.   Monta is now adopted into a new family who love her dearly.  Amazingly although now fourteen, she looks just like her sisters!

Monta also became part of a bigger family, This past summer at church youth camp, Monta became aware of God’s great love for her.  Later, her new mom and dad had the privilege of discussing this more deeply.  She responded by receiving Christ as her personal savior, the Spirit adopted her and now she calls Abba Father her Dad!  What a tremendous joy to know she is an integral part of two families forevermore!

God, what an awesome way you lead families and all the surprises you have in store for us.  You truly design us for life here and your heavenly realm.  How can I ever thank you enough for this beauty?

 

 

 

September 11, 2001 in Maui

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD. Blessed are the  people he has chosen as his own.” Psalm 33:12 (God’s Word Translation)

“Mom, turn on your television.  A plane has just flown into the World Trade Center!” Chris was watching this unfold in Missouri and I was watching in Lahaina, Maui.  “Did you just see that?  Another plane flew into the second tower!” Shocked, we realized our country was under attack! I then called Larry .  Jeff, another son, was in Vermont.  We were all stunned with what we had just witnessed.

I had previously arrived back in Maui after taking a two year leave without pay from Lahainaluna High School to accompany my pastor-husband to Pennsylvania.  A teacher friend invited me to stay with her and another teacher helped me find an apartment.

Larry still in Pennsylvania took care of final church details while packing all our belongings again to be mailed or sold.  He was later to drive our car across country to be placed on a barge and then to fly out of California.

School was not called off and as I headed there in another teacher’s loaned car, I felt alone with no family presence.  I worried how Larry half a world away would undertake a huge journey that was logistically in peril. When would he now  get to me?

Faculty, staff, students and friends were just as concerned as I with the knowledge we were isolated in the middle of the Pacific.  We needn’t have worried, though, in that the high level of protection and defense was immediately felt by all in Hawaii.  A couple of weeks later, Larry arrived and stated that the trip from California to Hawaii had the most precautions with intense scrutiny by even an unexpected trip to another island before arriving in Maui.

Although the day was tragic, I have since been astounded by the provision of God with my Hawaiian ‘Hanai” family that ministered to me.  Although separated, Larry and I were also connected with God in His design of each for the other and both for the Lord.  What an awesome way God designs our lives, even in adversity!

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.  His truth is your shield and armor.  You do not need to fear terrors of the night, arrows that fly during the day.” Psalm 91:4,5 (GW)  Dear Lord, help me to see your hand of protection upon me and upon us as a nation that was founded on that great fundamental truth, IN GOD WE TRUST!

The Joy of “Hope”

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“Hope deferred (or delayed) makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 (NLT)

“Miss, can I talk to you in private?” asked Hope.  Over lunch period, Hope poured out her heart.  “I don’t know what to do.  I am so scared!”

Hope was a beautiful young lady, a student of mine.  She was gregarious, pleasant, fun-loving  with many friends and respected among teachers.  Her future was bright from all indications…until I shockingly found out otherwise as she proceeded.  “I have just found out that I have cancer” she lamented.  “My world is falling apart!”

Stunned as I tried to comfort, I was wrestling with the tragedy that confronted this sweet girl.  What future awaited?  Was she going to be ravished for the remainder of the year as she began treatment?  How would she cope with this, school work, her social life?  I thought and prayed for her often.

Years later during Open House, I recognized Hope as soon as she walked into my classroom.  Her radiant smile, vivaciousness and joy of living was bubbling from within.  “I am doing just fine now” she said.  “I have a son and life is great!”  Hope had triumphed and was living her dream.  She had started her own family tree with a son, the joy of her life!

Stately palm trees look regal but when strong winds come, the fronds bend, clustered together.  Especially was this apparent during Hurricane Iniki as the winds buffeted Hawaii and pelted it with rain.

When tragedy happens, it is easy to give into despair, depression and with many questions to even God.  “Why did this happen?  What have I done wrong?  How can you get glory in this?  Where do I go from here?”  When faith is shaken and sleepless nights long as I feel such winds of adversity and feeling as though I am bowling over, how do I proceed into calmness and peace of mind?  Do I pray for strength no matter what the outcome? Does God really care?”

Yes, He cares.  The Word says, “They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.  Their leaves never wither and they prosper in all they do.” Psalm 1:3 (NLT) Situations may not change, but I am changed within as peace reigns.

Let me be resilient, Lord, in this life You have given me; ever looking to You from where my help comes in any and all situations.  Your leading is perfect for me!

Instruction God’s Way

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 The Lord says, “I will instruct you.  I will teach you the way that you should go.  I will advise you as my eyes watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 (God’s Word)

Hale Pa’i (House of Printing) built in 1834 on Lahainalua’s campus is where the first Bible in the Hawaiian language was first printed.  The missionaries had enabled the unprinted Hawaiian language to be reduced into an alphabet according to its sounds.  The printed Word of God could then  be  read by Hawaiian men studying for the ministry under missionary tutelage.  Lahainaluna today is a public high school that teaches standard curriculum.

Its students throughout the years have observed Rally ‘Round the Flag Pole near Hale Pa’i and pray over administrators, teachers, staff and students.  One unique year  the Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, Duke Aiona (a devout Christian) urged all Christians to pray on each school campus on a designated Sunday.  At Lahainaluna, each door was anointed with oil while individuals prayed for all that would enter that classroom.

Recently our church located here on the Mainland invited school superintendents to share an evening with students, parents and teachers.  One superintendent spoke of wanting to see God’s blessing through him and through all the schools in his district.  Around 4,000 people attended that unique evening. The kids’ minister spoke on the theme, Love All-Serve All.  Jesus took time out for Bartimaeus and so he urged kids to be friendly and kind to all in their school.

God, Himself, is our own Life Instructor, no matter the age.  The text He uses is the Bible and the Holy Spirit is our tutor.  His lesson plans are in many subjects and guidance is carefully given through challenging and at times, easy homework.  Patience is His virtue, gently loving until we live out His objectives. We get our graduation day when He proclaims “Well done, good and faithful student!  You have been faithful with a few things.  I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:23

God, you are so all-knowing what’s best for me.  You encourage me with such kind words for you said “I am the apple of your eye!”  What an absolute delight You are!

 

 

 

Jessica, Our First Grand Gal

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Grandchildren are the crowning glory and ultimate delight of old age, and parents are the pride of their children. (VOICE)

Jessica means ‘the Lord’s gift’ and we, too, were overjoyed she was coming into our family!  Our church in Kihei, Maui celebrated the excitement, too, in throwing a baby shower for this Grammy to send gifts to our first grandchild.  I opened them while sharing the excitement with the expectant Mommy by phone.  A flight attendant in our church later took the boxed items with her and mailed them from her destination on the Mainland.

We finally saw beautiful Jessica when she was a month old. What joy! Sadly, though, Jessi’s Mommy and Daddy divorced when she was five years old.  We  then had little contact with her but earnest prayer continued.

One year I was a teacher component of a team of educators chosen to represent the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.  At the private school we visited, seniors were required to make a public speech before graduating. I was amazed to listen to a young lady saying,  “My parents were divorced when I was young and I have not had the opportunity to establish a relationship with my Dad.  After graduation, my biggest desire is to find my Dad and to get to know him in a deep and meaningful way!”  She was designed by God to speak on that particular day on this particular subject that instilled hope.

Years later, that speech still resounded in my heart.  Last summer after high school, Jessi reconnected with us all and we celebrated our first Thanksgiving together.  This summer she moved here to be with her Dad, step-mom and family.

We often have entrenched, negative events in our lives that weigh us down.  At times we  wonder if God really is at work in these situations.  Does He care about these heavy burdens we carry? Yes, He is at work when He seems so distant.  This may take travail and intercession.  He does delight in giving us answers.  “…We can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good!” Romans 8:28 (MSG)

Remind me, God, of the saying ‘tears are a language You understand’. Your perfect will in all of life’s situations are designed with your ultimate goals at work.  Therefore I will praise and trust You!

 

When Plans Go Awry

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I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD.  They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. (God’s Word Translation)

Excitement penetrated the air of my classroom.  My Honors American History class of fourteen had won the Hawaii We the People contest on historical and current issues in reference to the Constitution.  We won an all expense free trip to Washington, D.C. to compete with the other forty-nine states for the national winner title. We represented Lahainaluna, Maui and Hawaii.   I urged my students to proudly exhibit good citizenship in all school areas.  As I, the only adult chaperone, warned that this trip would be forfeited by any who did not comply.

Sadly one student called to the office on a behavioral issue, got into further trouble there.  I informed him that he would not be accompanying us that resulted in parental threats.  The Principal agreed with me saying “If I can’t trust him here, I can’t trust him in the air!”  He did not go!

We flew to Oahu and it was there that our airlines used our flight as an incentive to demand action on a grievance.  We were grounded for a time and  lost all mainland flights once we arrived in Los Angeles.  Taken to a hotel for forty-five minutes in the middle of the night and returning to work with agents, we were booked with another airline, arriving very late at night in D.C.  It ended up being a wonderful opportunity both for competition and to see the Capitol with many points of interest included.

Hassles, aggravation, situations beyond our control, time constraints, deadlines–all  unnerving life experiences.  I respond with fear, anxiety and trepidation in circumstances that go awry, even with careful planning.  However, God is really in control of ALL circumstances in my life as it concerns me and interactions with others.  As His responsibility, I can rest assured that His plans for any given day is ‘for peace and not for disaster’ and therefore I can proceed with a future hope!

God, I realize I need to keep trusting that You have designed my life ahead of time when I was knit in my mother’s womb and promised “As my days, so shall my strength be.”  (KJV)  Would you please whisper that in my ear every day?

Graduation to Heaven

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 “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)

Lahainaluna High School-What a beautiful school nestled in the West Maui Mountains, founded originally as a seminary in 1831 and the only school in Hawaii where the Alma Mater is sung in Hawaiian.  It is considered the oldest school west of the Rockies and the oldest west of the Mississippi River. What an incredible joy it was to teach there with the beauty of the school also reflected in the precious teachers, staff and students!

Day students and boarders come from all the Hawaiian islands as well as other Pacific islands.   Boarders keep the landscape beautiful and serve in the cafeteria for free housing with meals and in return, must contribute three work hours a day.

It’s spectacular graduation is celebrated by its uniqueness in design. The official picture above from the website shares a unique, beautiful event that takes place each year.  Some of the underclassmen climb Mt. Ball located higher above with torches beforehand and in the ceremony a few have climbed it again to light the “L” at night.  All below and even all the town of Lahaina further down by the ocean can celebrate the new graduates’ accomplishments.

I, too, have a graduation date after taking all of life’s courses.  I’ve experienced difficult and pleasant experiences through this pathway where I learned invaluable lessons.  I thank the Lord that this journey has brought my heart to repent of my wrong doing and to acknowledge Christ as my Lord and Savior.  When I die or if He comes first, my graduation from life to eternity will commence.  I can only imagine the joy of seeing my loved ones, at last, sharing the beauties of Heaven with me where Christ will outshine us all as we behold Him close-up and personal.

God, I am looking forward to my graduation to Heaven.  Your brilliance in my life is nothing compared to what it will be like to see you in all Your splendor! 

 

Trade Winds of Hawaii

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The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.  John 3:8 (NIV)

After our family lived in Hawaii for awhile, we became accustomed to two opposing wind patterns.  Most common were the trade winds from the north and east that generate cooling breezes, acting like a natural air conditioner.  Occasionally Kona winds from the south occur that bring remnants of the Kilauea active volcano in a form of volcanic fog (Vog).  The air becomes hot and sticky  with a plume of smoke winding up the island chain that saps the body’s strength.

So, too, is our spiritual strength depleted when our problems seem overwhelming.   We may suffer the consequences of stress, racing thoughts with physical repercussions.  Irritability and worry cause a cloud over our days as we cave in on ourselves, robbing our minds and bodies of fresh perspective and lightheartedness.  Our relationships may be marred and our entire frame of reference becomes inward rather than outward in our relationships. A heavy fog that clouds our life descends, often causing sleepless nights and tiring days.

As the desired light and refreshing trade winds that blow across the islands bring joy to all those there,  so likewise does the Spirit flow from His heavenly source.  He brings life and beauty of God’s presence to hurting, restless hearts and minds suffering under the repressive forces of darkness.  The Holy Spirit calms our minds and bodies with His glorious  presence flooding over and in us.  The focus becomes what God can and wants to do.  We breathe with His fresh thoughts and perspective that lend new insights and often problem-solving techniques.  We live the abundant life that invites our family and friends to interact positively.  His presence blows the hot, sticky air away and replaces it with His very own fresh air so that I now breathe with His strength.

Holy Spirit, You are patiently wanting me to enjoy Your journey for me over mountains and valleys.  Let me remember it is in the valleys where I can feel the God-given breezes of mountain-top experiences past and present.  You be my Life Guide and I shall willingly follow you in this path You design for me!

God’s Family Provision

God Delights in Providing for Our Needs

So she did as she was told.  Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another.  Soon every container was full to the brim. 2 Kings 4:5,6 (NLT)

Her prophet husband had died and this widow woman was in a quandary.  Her creditor had come threatening to take her two sons as slaves. All she had left in her home was a small flask of olive oil. Elisha’s direction was strange–she was to send her two sons to borrow all her friends’ and neighbors’ empty vessels. She concurred and then witnessed a miracle that from her little flask of oil, she filled all the larger vessels gathered.  She sold  the oil and thus her bill was paid in full to all her creditors.  Amazingly, she and her sons had enough left to live debt free.

It was a bitter, freezing winter in Bradford, Pennsylvania, often temps the coldest in the  contiguous United States.  We had just moved into a new, small pastorate with two small boys.  Events began to take a nosedive.  Larry also held a full-time job with Case Cutlery but sadly, it was there one day that he cut off the tip of his finger.

Right at the end of November, I noticed that Jeff, our four-year old had a big lump under his ear that prompted a visit to the physician.  The diagnosis: mononucleosis with the worst case he had ever seen in a child. Jeff was put into a hospital  isolation room. Shortly, a  child with Chicken Pox was placed in another room and Jeff contracted this, too.  On Jeff’s release, his spleen was enlarged and could rupture so diligence was needed to restrict rough playing. We were now concerned for his brother, Chris, as well.

One day Larry called me from work and said that God had given him a promise in Revelations 3:7b (NLT) He (God) opens doors, and no one can shut them; he shuts doors, and no one can open them. We were to be encouraged by our Protector.

Money was now an issue and I had applied to the new school district with no success.  Right before Christmas, substitute jobs opened up with sometimes up to five calls.  The night before Christmas Larry went to a large store where with inventory looming, all toys were drastically reduced.  A blessed Christmas morning with toys arrayed and designed by God appeared for the boys.  (And yes, Jeff recuperated and Chris to this day has never had Chicken Pox!)

Arriving home on a snowy, blustery night, we gazed, amazed, that each step up to our second story apartment was arrayed with groceries from ministers in our section.  God had opened up the bounty of heaven to pour us out a blessing of a Christmas we’ve never forgotten by our Heavenly Father, wrapped in bows of love.

Lord when times get tough, Your care is exquisite.  You actually provided the oil of Your presence to the Biblical woman  and You will provide the oil of the Holy Spirit to be poured out for my concerns, as well. Our Heavenly Father provides for His own and I am incredibly grateful!