Sunday, April 28, 2013

Blessed Is the One Who Waits on the Lord by Carolyn

I've been gone from the blog for sometime now.  It's been an unusual time; a new season.  There are times in life when you are pulled in several directions at once, and temporarily lose your ability to concentrate fully on any one of them.

This year has already brought more changes than I could have imagined, or better yet, understood, on December 31, 2012.  My 67 year old husband retired and immediately he wanted to take a road trip to Florida.  That was so much fun and a wonderful gift from God that we could go an enjoy it thoroughly.  Then our son and daughter-in-law, who are in their early 40's, had their first baby in late February, our third grandchild.  How wonderful to welcome her!  She lives in California and we live in Ohio, so that called for an extensive visit to get to know her. 

In March we discovered my husband has prostate cancer and, due to the circumstances of his case, that pesky little gland must come out.  We're in the waiting room and, as of this writing, are still unsure when that will happen.  Jim has read much of the research.  He's read several books on the matter.  He's talked with many other men who have been through experiences like his, and others with similar problems.  He's done all that he can to educate himself and get ready.  He's calm and very much at peace as far as I can tell.  He's not a believer, which makes him an unbeliever, but rather than calling him that, I prefer to call him a "not yet" believer.

If I have any fear, and I would be foolish to pretend I have none, it is that Jim won't recognize this wake up call.  The phone is ringing, the mail has been delivered and both have a message for him.  This is another gift from God.  A gift of a different sort.  Our Lord wants Jim's attention.  He wants him to answer the door, answer the phone, and listen!  He is wooing him, calling him, beckoning him to Himself.  Will he hear?  Will he answer?  Will he listen? 

Daniel 12:12 says, "Blessed is the one who waits on the Lord."  I know the Lord wants no one to perish.  And  I trust Him.  I will wait on Him.  I will wait in faith, confidence and patience.  But I won't wait without action.  I will pray and plead that He enlivens the Spirit in Jim's heart soon, and stirs Him into action that Jim can feel, hear, see and even touch!  May it be so, Lord.  May it be so!


Monday, March 18, 2013

"Blessed are the poor" by Judy

As I have referenced before in my sporadic blog entries, I have taken on the responsibility of being a Guardian ad Litem for the children of an area family. In my Guardian ad Litem role, our county juvenile court  has appointed me to represent the best interests of the children, as their parents work through issues which keep them from performing the job themselves. It has been wonderfully rewarding, and also eye-opening – especially regarding both the strengths and the abuses of our current welfare system.

But this blog entry is about something else – the mentality of poverty, and how it differs from the middle-class mentality, with which I am clearly familiar. I attended a workshop last week that opened my eyes, and immediately took me to the Bible in my thoughts. The reason is that there are many references to people in poverty in both the Old Testament and new, especially by Jesus – and (a-ha!) the references are positive, while those in the middle class, a place that can be mired in complacency, self-satisfaction, judgment and naked ambition, bear the brunt of biblical wrath.

Clearly God has a heart for the poor. When I referenced poverty, many, many Scriptures were listed. As I read them, I remembered that “poverty” has to do with more than money, but those in need in all conditions – spiritual as well as physical. Still, I don’t want to use that realization for my own selfish purposes, justifying turning my back on those in need, dismissing them as lazy, while I cling to my wealth.

In my workshop, I learned that for those in poverty, RELATIONSHIPS are in the middle of everything, while in the middle class, the driving force is on achievement, and in the upper class, connections. I also learned that those in poverty focus on TODAY, while in the other classes, the focus is on tomorrow (the middle class) and yesterday (the upper class). Those in poverty spend their money, while the middle class manages money, and the upper class conserves and invests it. Those in poverty hang out with people they like, while the middle class values self-sufficiency and the upper class often excludes. The driving force for those in poverty is relationships and survival; for the middle class work, achievement and security; and the upper class is most focused on connections, policy and stability.

Finally, in the workshop, I heard all about a highlight of the neighborhood – A “Coming Home Party.” You can probably guess the theme – a loved one is out of prison and the entire community rejoices. Of course such celebrations don’t exist for the middle and upper classes. The freed one is quietly blended back, in embarrassed hope that no one even recognizes he was gone.

Surely, in honesty, those of you reading this who know your Bibles, can see the parallels throughout my lessons learned. Think the Beatitudes, the prodigal son, the sheep and the goats, the Cross. Those reading who have little interest in the Bible at least can see applications in everyday life. And as always, when I point one finger out, three are pointed back. Food for thought, contemplation, meditation, prayer!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Clinging to God

I attend a Bible study every Tuesday night.  Some of you may be familiar with it as it is a non-denominational, international study called BSF.  We are studying Genesis this year.  I read ahead because I remembered Jacob wrestling with God and that God "touched his hip."  I was curious about it because Judy's husband broke his hip last December.  I wondered if there was some kind of connection. 

I discovered one.

Jacob was a wreck.  He had done his brother Esau ill years before and was about to meet him again for the first time.  This time he wanted to do things right.  He wanted to make up for what he'd done.  He wanted and needed forgiveness, but he was worried that his brother could not, would not forgive him.  The night before the meeting Jacob had an unusual encounter with a man.  The Bible doesn't say in Genesis 32: 24 that Jacob fell asleep, only that he was, "...left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.  When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.  Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak."  But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."  At that point the man said, " have struggled with God and men and have overcome."  And he blessed Jacob. 

In what I would call a "God incidence" later that day I randomly opened a book called, "Streams in the Desert" written by L.B. Cowman.  Frequently, I pick it up and use it for meditation.  I opened randomly to May 28 and there was an exposition of this very incident.  How often that happens! 

Jacob won the victory and the blessing not by wrestling, but by clinging.  "I will not let you go."  Unable to struggle any longer with his hip out of joint, he did what he could; he hung on.  Can't you almost see him locking his arms around his opponent's neck and refusing to give up?   

Many times I want God to answer my prayers the way I want Him to answer them.  I tell Him what I want Him to do.  Who do I think I am?  One thing I know for sure, I am not God.  And thanks be to God!  But when I surrender to His will, not only do I feel a tremendous relief, but I am almost immediately blessed with peace. 

An example is my deep, abiding concern that my husband has not accepted Jesus as His Lord and Savior.  How long I have prayed!  And worried.  And feared.  But somehow during this time of Jack's recovery, my search for the story of Jacob, and the resulting entry in Mr. Cowan's book, I have given Jim to the Lord and I'm not going to take him back.  I'm not going to fuss anymore.  There is no one who wants my Jim to come to the Lord more than the Lord.  He knows my heart.  He's heard my prayers.  It's time to stop struggling and surrender to God's will.  "I will walk in the footsteps of faith," (Romans 4:12) even to moutain Abraham and Isaac climbed, the mountain of sacrifice.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fleas, broken bones and giving thanks - by Judy

For a number of years, Carolyn and I had an outreach, stemming from our TV program called, "I Love to Tell the Story." We called our second venture "Taking the Story on the Road." It involved traveling to a church, usually out in the Ohio countryside, where we did presentations of stories from the Bible, or illustrating specific Bible verses, usually designated by the ladies groups to whom we were speaking. One of our favorites was a talk based on 1Thessalonians 5:18, "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Jesus Christ." Among other stories to illustrate the challenging point, we spoke about Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsie, who were confined to a concentration camp during World War 2 for their harboring of Jews in their Dutch home.

The conditions were terrible, beyond our imagining. The building was frigid, the guards ruthless as the women exercised outside, the food impossible to digest, and the straw beds flea-infested. Corrie was disheartened, but Betsie reminded her of the biblical call to give thanks - something Corrie found impossible. Yet despite the conditions, Corrie, Betsie and the other women managed to study the Bible regularly - in fact, without hindrance. Why? Because the guards left them alone, rarely entering the barracks, out of fear of the fleas. Yes, the fleas protected the women and allowed them to meet their deepest spiritual needs.

The last weeks have been somewhat difficult, as Carolyn explained in an earlier blog. My husband fell in China, fracturing his pelvis in several places. He was transported by ambulance over a 4 hour distance to Hong Kong, where he was put in traction and then underwent surgery. I traveled there to bring him home, where he developed severe blood clots both in his injured leg and his lungs. At the same time, he contracted pneumonia, and a bad rash over most of his body. Fortunately, it appears he is turning a corner, and we are looking out to the prospect over the next months of a return to good health, thanks to Coumadin, physical therapy, medical wisdom, the support and love of friends and family, and a multitude of prayer warriors.

But (that wonderful word, so often indicating a godly turnaround in the Bible), this entire experience has brought so many blessings that they are like the stars in the sky. Jack's surgeon in Hong Kong did, in the words of his American counterpart, an "amazing" job. An angel, looking like a nurse, traveled with us every step of the way home (the picture above shows the view out our window). Family met us here and we spent a beautiful Christmas together. Friends, oh the friends, how can I even adequately explain the ministering they have provided - food, company, laughter, encouragement. Jack and I have had such sweet, quiet time together that we both agree there has been nothing like it in our entire marriage. And best of all, God has been with us every step of the way. Over and over, he has reminded me, "I have been with you through the storm, through the wind, through the rain - I will see you safely home."

I read a daily devotional, and at the end of every entry, it closes with the same prayer. I close this entry repeating it, as I give thanks, yes - give thanks, that such a challenge confronted us, for God's blessings have been huge. And I pray it for you, any sweet readers who happen upon this blog.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever he may send you.
May he guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm.
May he bring you home rejoicing at the wonders he has shown you.
May he bring you home rejoicing, once again into his arms.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Here Again by Carolyn

I know my dear sister, boon companion and blog partner, Judy, will probably be posting about the experience she has been through over the past two weeks, an experience that gives her an amazing witness, but one she surely would not have chosen for herself!  But I am going to jump in there briefly and express my thoughts and feelings about the impact of her experience on me. 

To summarize, Judy went to Hong Kong to bring her husband home after he fell and broke his hip. Many of her friends and family prayed and prayed and prayed that God would be with her, that He would never leave her side.  We prayed for her path to be clear, that He would give her strength, faith, courage, energy, stamina, peace, and a clear head.  We prayed for the doctors operating on her husband.  We prayed for his surgery, for his health and healing, for peace of mind, and for medications to ease his pain, so that he could relax and wait patiently until the time came for them to come home.  Then we prayed them home safe, quickly and sound.

Once back here, we knew that they would celebrate the holidays with a huge song of gratitude in their hearts.  And here they are!  Here again!  Within less then two weeks after a catastrophic fall, God brought them home!  How I rejoice with them that they are "Here again!" 

Jesus is our all in all!  He is always and ever faithful to respond to us in one way or another when we remember Him, remember to call on Him, obey Him and trust Him, He is there!  Every day I prayed for Judy and Jack and every day I could see the progress they were making toward their goal of flying back to the U.S.  He stayed right by their side in the doctors, and nurses, in other patients, in their children, in their extended family, in the airport personnel, in business relationships, and so many phone "angels" as plans were carefully made and executed.  It was truly, truly answered prayer unlike any I've ever experienced. 

Many of Judy's emails from China began with the words, "Here again." because she was so busy doing all that needed to be done, but the words were never, ever sweeter, than they were when she called from Chicago to report they really were "here again!"  How filled I was with relief and gratitude.  How sweet the sound of her voice and the words, 'Here again!" 

"I will be with you."  God promises that.  And when we remember that, blessings flow from His fountain of grace!  Thanks be to God that He came into our lives!  Wonderful God!  Wonderful Savior!  Thanks be to God that Jack and Judy are here again!

Friday, December 7, 2012

A time of infamy (by Judy)

Morning, everyone! I know it has been a long time without a posting, and there is no excuse - except to say that several times over the last few weeks, I thought - Ahhhhh... now that would make a good post! The proddings had to do with the beautiful and unseasonable late fall weather, with this Advent season in church liturgy, with the blessings and challenges of family and friends, with the dreaded fiscal cliff, and with the serious personal and spiritual gaffe that Abraham made in the book of Genesis by urging his Wife Sarai to tell Pharaoh that she was Abraham's half-sister. See - good stuff!

However, as I sit at my computer, it is with serious intent. This morning's Plain Dealer reminded me that today is "the day which will live in infamy" that Franklin Roosevelt spoke about after the bombing of Pearl Harbor 71 years ago. Still-resilient local nonagenarians told their story on the front page, and it made me settle as I read, and think. Then on the front page of the local section, there was an equally troubling story about the arraignment of an 18 year old who walked into school in nearby Chardon and blasted many students, causing death, injury and heartache.

Finally, after reading the news, I turned to my devotional, a book of daily readings written long ago by Charles Spurgeon and updated by my pastor, Alistair Begg. In part, this is what the reading said:
”If you will select for me the grossest specimen of humanity, if he is but born of woman, I will still have hope for him, for Jesus Christ came to seek and save sinners. Pebbles from the brook are turned by grace into jewels for the royal crown. Worthless dross he transforms into pure gold. Redeeming love has set apart many of the worst of mankind to be the reward of the Savior’s passion. Effectual grace calls deep-dyed sinners to sit at the table of mercy, and therefore none of us should despair.”

As I put the book down, my soul was stirred and I knew I must write today to share a long-held conviction - the sad young man from Chardon, and those sitting on death row in our country all share something in common - the possibility of being Jesus' reward for his passion, the chance to be jewels in His royal crown. Given time and the work of the Spirit. As long as we humans refrain from intervening in the name of capital punishment. So there you are - not quite as warm and fuzzy as my previous subject possibilities, but one that perhaps will cause you to muse about this time of infamy when capital punishment is the law of the land!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Grace.  A matter of getting something good we do not deserve.  Mercy.  A matter of not getting something painful that we do deserve.  Judy spoke of grace just a few days ago.  God's grace grants us the right to be with Him through the death and resurrection of His son.  By that same grace, He gives us the desire to intervene where we can to help and bless others as He has helped and blessed us so many times in so many ways.  By His mercy, He expects that we will treat others mercifully; that we can forgive them if they have hurt us, and likewise, that they will forgive us when we hurt them.

Today I am deeply thankful for both.  Just a few short days ago I wondered what to do when God is silent.  David was my example in Psalm 22.  In the beginning he was lost, alone, forsaken, hopeless.  By the end of the Psalm, he was praising God and proclaiming God's name to future generations!  God changed David in the short space of a Psalm.

Today my heart is bursting with thankfulness for God's grace, mercy, love and our changed circumstances.  A few days ago my family and I were in a scary place; frightened, anxious, worried, wondering.  Ours was a normal human response to difficult news.  But God, by His Spirit came along side in a supernatural way just as He did with David and changed our point of view to wait, to pray, to praise, to trust and to rest in His peace that passes understanding. 

Today our precious little Annie Lou has a whole heart!  A whole heart!  And it is with our whole hearts that we are thankful beyond words!  God granted the surgeons the skills they needed.  He granted the nurses and all those who worked to repair this child's heart all the wisdom, the experience, time, desire and effort to fix her up!  And now we are trusting Him to heal her quickly, and bring her back to health. 

Today, after this experience, we look to her little brother's future with great hope; supernatural hope, based on experience and faith.  Her 2 year old brother, as those who read a previous entry know, has a life-threatening illness.

This is God's amazing gift; whether all my family recognizes it is of God or not, in their own ways, as a result of this experience, they are seeing things happen that are out of their hands.  Some of us only need to see the night sky to realize that we did not put those stars in it.  And some need more.  When God takes things out of our hands, out of our control most of us pray.  We turn to Him.  And when those prayers are answered we give thanks.  And sometimes, suddenly, quite unexpectedly, we may realize for the first time in our lives, God exists.  That is a fine beginning!

And something else...just this moment I received the joyful news of the birth of my second grandchild; a brand new, beautiful baby girl.  How I praise God for His grace and mercy and love...TODAY!