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Quietly Singing in Chaos

Clef, Music, Love, Heart, Treble Clef

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

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?

Larry’s Transition in God’s Design

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“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16B  (KJV)

“Ruthie! Ruuthiee!” Was I rightly hearing my husband calling outside our second floor bedroom window? It was a beautiful snowy Christmas Eve as I hurriedly ran down the stairs and out the door.  There sprawled across the cement slab at the bottom of the steps lay Larry in excruciating pain with the inability to move. The ambulance came and transported him to the hospital. I hurriedly called a nearby family from our church to come take care of our two little boys.

The next day the doctor operated on Larry’s shattered hip. “You will always walk with a limp! It was very hard to even try to repair it with all the damage. A pin was inserted to hold it together as good as I could with a probable hip replacement needed within two years.”

Convalescing at home, Larry pondered and asked God, “Why did you let this happen? Why so much pain? How would this be your plan while I pastor  this church?” Immediately he heard within his heart the voice of God saying, “Remember when you prayed and asked for a miracle of healing? Do you have faith to believe now that I can heal you?”

On crutches, Larry finally improved enough to assume his place behind the pulpit.  Before  preaching that morning’s message, the Board surrounded him and prayed for his healing.  Larry finished the service, then placed his crutches down beside him and slowly walked down the steps of the platform to greet the people in the back of the church.  Hurriedly his former day and night nurse at the hospital who attended him and were at the church for the first time, urgently instructed him to use the crutches.  Larry reassured them that he had to do what he knew he should.

And the healing continued.  On his first visit, the surgeon said “According to these x-rays, I can’t even tell where your hip has been broken. Either I am a good surgeon or you had a miracle healing!”

Shortly afterwards, those two nurses had miracles of their own. They gave their lives to the Lord and became faithful in church attendance. One became a children’s church worker and one, a medical missionary to Alaska.

We truly become part of the answer to every prayer that we pray when we leave all the results in His capable hands!

 

 

 

Brothers United

 

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The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. John 1:41-42 NIV

“I’m just a nobody! I can’t do anything!” Richard cried and sadly proclaimed to Larry in his halting speech.  His countenance mirrored the turmoil going on within. Dejected, frustrated, of little value were feelings that clamored in his cerebral palsied body.

Larry gently and compassionately answered him.  “Richard, it was you who faithfully got on the church bus each week by yourself.   During verbal prayer requests, you would say, ‘Pray for my brother, Larry.’  One night at a youth rally I heard the message of Jesus’ love and forgiveness so committed my life to Christ. I started attending church with you and  was told of your faithfulness in having others pray for me. Later I was called by God into the ministry. There’s something you need to realize, Rich, that for all the lives that were touched and changed in this ministry, it  really started  with you. Think of the people in heaven who will rejoice in how faithful you were to pray. The results–eternity we all get to enjoy with God!”

Richard responded with a simple word of surprise -“Really?” to which Larry replied, “Really!” His tears disappeared, replaced with a joyful heart reverberating within as he glimpsed God’s plan from the beginning…

My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in (your) weakness. KJV

 

 

God’s Big Heart for Little Ones

 

People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them.  When the disciples saw it, they shooed him off.  Jesus called them back. “Let those children alone.  Don’t get between them and me.  These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy.” Luke 18:15,16 (MSG)

Sitting at the front of the church, dangling my legs, at the end of the third pew near the center aisle; I sat in my Sunday best among all the other children.  I tried not to fidget or to gawk at others around me but it’s hard when you’re only five years old.  It was difficult enough to behave myself when I sat with my parents in the back, but now I was in their line of vision, too, with the speaker nearby right in the front of us.

My ears perked up, my eyes opened wide, my attention captured as my heart’s door began to slowly swing open with awareness.  Was the big people’s God really interested in me?  Had Jesus given his life to forgive the naughty things I had done? He really wanted me to be His child and live forever with His Dad and best friend–the Holy Spirit?

These hands pushed off the pew, little feet hit the floor as I flowed to the front and bowed my head.  I wanted this big, wonderful God to fill my heart, claim me, knowing I was His own pride and joy all along. It was then I became aware of Him having adopted me into His very own family long ago before I was ever born.  I was so happy!

Through Swirling Waters

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Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. Isaiah 43:1B,2A (MSG)

The panic arose as I, a child, could tilt my head enough to see the creek surface above continuing to amble along.  I had slipped off the swimming tube, somehow, and didn’t know what to do next.  Time marched by and I knew I was drowning.  Just when I needed a rescuer the most, my uncle saw my hair floating on the water and pulled me to the surface.  No CPR was used as my body combated all the extra water within.  However, I knew lying there on the bank that I was going to recover…  I had been saved.

In “Oceans” by Hillsong United is the lyrics for life surrounded by God’s presence.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters

Your sovereign hand

Will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me

You’ve never failed and You won’t start now…

I am Yours and You are mine.

God, when fears apparent or imagined come into my life, You summon me by name and promise to be with me through the varied streams, rivers or oceans that swirl around me.