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!

 

“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?