Memories of a Dear Friend

June 28, 2020 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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A Journal of Joy: Things that make my heart smile…..

My friend Lori has been gone a while now but I think of her often. When I think of Lori, I think of laughter, all kinds of flowers, shoes and purses, teddy bears, her boys, beanie babies, reading books, and diet coke. Lori loved to talk to people, and her trusty cell phone was by her side until the end. Lilac was her favorite color, but almost any shade of purple would do. Soft purple hues were on her sheets, pillows, clothes—everywhere!

Lori had the keenest sense of direction of any person I’ve ever known—male or female. I have none! When we went someplace I’d drive and Lori would direct. That way we would each have control over something. We were both strong-willed, so we called ourselves the “bossy broads.” I’m not really a “do lunch” kind of person, but Lori was. So we’d lunch at these out of the way places that she knew 500 different ways to get to. We’d fight about who would pay the tab.

I was with Lori the day she found out she had ovarian cancer. Our hopes were high. Hers was not an aggressive cancer, and with chemotherapy the doctor was 90% sure they could rid her body of the dreaded disease and it would not return. Even with those great odds, chemo was not easy. There was the guilt over feeling angry, but it was momentary, for Lori was one of the most positive people I’ve ever known. Her trust in God never waned. The question of “Why me?” quickly dissolved into “Why not me?”

After months of chemo, Lori lost her hair. This may not sound like much, but when a woman brushes her hair and handfuls come out, it can be very traumatic. We had our own little “therapy” the night before each major chemo treatment. We’d go see a funny movie and feast on buttered popcorn. Finally, chemo ended. Lori was ready to rebuild her life.

I was with Lori the day she found out her cancer had returned. The medical profession was puzzled. Hers was a non-aggressive cancer. How could it return? Surgery and more chemo were prescribed. The second round of chemo didn’t go well. She was allergic to the drug they wanted to use—the one with the best track record. They substituted others. The cancer kept growing. The doctors remained baffled.

I was with Lori the day doctors released her from care. They could do nothing more for her. She searched for alternative methods but nothing seemed to help. She kept her receptionist job at Los Gatos Christian Church for as long as she could. It gave her a reason to get out and about. Our lunches and movies became fewer. Eventually, she was house bound and then virtually bedridden. Hospice workers and nurses would come a couple of times a week. I’d call her often and sometimes come to visit her on my way to work. I’d bring her a blue Slurpee, Jamba Juice, or some little something she was craving. She became weaker and weaker. As I hugged her, all I could feel were the bones of a once robust body. In her frailness, she held me tight and close. She whispered in my ear, “I’m going to die, Barb.” I’d whisper back, “I know.” We’d pray.

Lori did not die lonely. She had more friends than any person I’ve ever known. I was just one of many. If she was in the hospital or at home, her room would be filled with cards, books, flowers, comforters, quilts, stuffed animals, or pillows people had brought her. One day she even received a bouquet of flowers from the owners of her local florist shop. She loved people and people loved her. She gravitated toward the elderly, the sick, the hurting, the handicapped. She genuinely cared about others. No task was too menial or dirty for her to do if someone needed help. God always got the glory. People knew she loved God by the way she lived her life.

She had her up days and down days, but her relationship with God never wavered. Even in her darkest hours she never doubted God’s wisdom, love, and gentle hand in her life. There might be things she didn’t understand, but she never doubted. I would always leave Lori a little ashamed that my trust in God was not as great as hers and very inspired that I knew a “real Christian.”

I miss Lori, but I know she is with God now. With her keen sense of direction, there is no way she could get lost!   

*****

Oh Lord, I thank and praise You for the friends You’ve brought into my life. I’ve learned so much from each one of them. What a blessing they are! In sickness or in health, they never cease to amaze me. Help me be a good friend to others. No matter what I’m going through, help me always reflect Your glory.


If Only I Could Remember

June 21, 2020 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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A Journal of Joy: Things that make my heart smile…..

My life is an endless cycle of walking into rooms and forgetting what I went in there to get – until I go back to where I started. Then I remember it, only to forget it when I get back to where I went in the first place. It’s getting to where I have to write myself a post-it note just to remember what I want to get in the next room.

This memory thing can be problematic. There is the problem of two people looking at the same thing, but seeing something different. My husband and I do this all the time. The technical name for it is marriage.

When we moved to Tacoma, Washington over thirty years ago, we were in a rush to get to our first church service there. We hurriedly scooted our three young children into the car and flew down the highway. My husband glanced out the rearview mirror and noticed a flurry of papers flying around behind us. Then he remembered leaving his briefcase on the top of the car. Could this paper storm be everything from his briefcase, including all our important documents we didn’t want lost in our move? Yes, indeed it was!

Frantically we pulled to the side of the highway and he started picking up some still intact files, his Bible, and what random documents he could find. Miraculously, he wasn’t killed by the oncoming traffic. We were surprised when a leather-jacketed, Good Samaritan on a motorcycle stopped to help. Believe it or not, most of the important stuff was recovered. The Good Samaritan waved farewell, and we have recounted the incident many times. However, each of our versions seems to be slightly different. He remembers the Good Samaritan taking off his helmet and revealing long, shoulder length, tousled hair. I remember his head as totally shaven. To this day each of us knows he/she is right and the other one is wrong.

Police officers experience this all the time. When eyewitnesses are questioned about whom they saw do the robbery, the descriptions indicate the crime was committed by a short, tall, black, white person with short, long, brown, blonde hair wearing blue sweatpants or a brown suit.

Our memories can be flawed and unduly influenced by time, bias, and suggestions. Some of us even tend to shade the truth a bit—not intentionally, but if we tell an embellished story long enough, we actually think it is true. If we are having difficulty with a person, our minds magnify their imperfections. We even believe our fantasized ideas about how much better things were in years gone by.

Such was the case when the Israelites came out of Egypt. For years they groaned for deliverance because of their unbearable hardships (Exodus 1:8-22; 2:23; 5:7). However, when God delivered them, they grumbled about how much better off they had been in Egypt.

When they didn’t like how God provided for them they’d recall their distorted view of the good old days. “Remember the fish we ate in Egypt…” (Deuteronomy 11:5) or “It would have been better if the Lord had just killed us in the land of Egypt! At least there we had plenty to eat” (Exodus 16:3 ERV). Yes, they may have had fish, but they also had oppressive slavery under cruel task masters, to the point that even their baby boys were killed at birth.

Later, God would tell them to remember when they were slaves in Egypt. Remember that God delivered them to freedom (Deuteronomy 5:15). Remember what God did to Pharaoh and to Egypt (Deuteronomy 7:18). Remember how God led them through the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:2).

This was more than exhorting them just to remember these things; it was telling them to remember accurately. “Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live” (Deuteronomy 4:9 NLT).

Human memory is flawed. Life, even the Christian life, is not easy so when times get rough we might imagine it was better before God revealed Himself to us. Not true! We forget how lonely, depressed, angry, hopeless, or void of purpose we felt without God. We forget all God has done for us.

When God reminds me of something He did for me that I have forgotten, it fills my heart with joy. It has to be a God thing because I can’t even remember what I came into this room to get.

*****

O God, help me remember Your love, mercy, kindness, and faithfulness to me and my loved ones. Bring to memory all those little prayers You answered immediately and the ones where You wisely didn’t give me what I wanted because You know what’s best. Gently and lovingly remind me of all You have done for me, lest I forget.


Lessons from Dad

June 14, 2020 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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A Journal of Joy: Things that make my heart smile…..

Around Father’s Day, precious memories of my dad flood my soul! A lot of them came from his last year of life.

It’s funny how your parents seem to age all of a sudden. One minute you look at them and they look like your mom or dad. The next minute, some old person is looking at you. That’s how it was with my dad.

When my 84-year-old father’s hip broke, we knew it was the beginning of the end. First he went to the hospital to have a rod put in. The pain was excruciating. He was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, so he was very disoriented. We had to explain over and over and over again where he was and what had happened. He looked so frail and frightened. Any quality of life was gone. I felt guilty praying for God to release him from this world, and I felt guilty asking God to let him live. But I must admit, although I prayed for God’s will to be done, my heart’s desire was for our heavenly Father to just let him go, but He didn’t.

It was obvious Dad could no longer be cared for at home, so it was with apprehension that we placed him in a nursing home. After much prayer and discussion, we opted for a veteran’s facility about 30 miles from my parent’s home in the Midwest. It was a clean and a had a loving environment—something many in my dad’s position weren’t fortunate enough to have. It was also close enough for my stepmom to faithfully visit him for a few hours every day. My stepbrother lived about four hours away and came back almost every other weekend to help her drive. Since I lived in California, it was more difficult for me to get back to visit, but I tried to make it once a month and stayed in touch via telephone a couple of times a week.

At first Dad cried to come home but that was out of the question. His hip healed and he became a little mobile, using a walker and wheelchair. Although he was generally a mild-mannered man, he could wreak havoc out of frustration. My heart ached each time I saw him and I begged God to be merciful but prayed, “nevertheless, Lord, Your will be done.” Eventually, Dad settled in and started thinking of his little room as home. He didn’t fuss as much when Mom left each day.

It gradually became clear to me there might be many reasons why God chose to keep my dad alive, one of them being that I had a lot to learn through this experience.

I learned love from the staff at this care facility. It’s true they got paid for what they did, but no amount of money could give them the sunny dispositions they kept day after day. They tenderly cleaned Dad up and changed his soiled linen. The nurses gave him kisses, combed his hair, and made sure he ate.

I learned about going above and beyond. Even when Dad was placed in hospice, which everyone knew was the last stop before dying, they made sure he had a new air bed so he wouldn’t get bed sores, new glasses, and new expensive shoes to accommodate his hammer toes. It would have been easy to just say, “Why bother? He’s not going to last much longer anyway.” They didn’t. They wanted only his comfort and well-being.

I learned appreciation. It touched me how respected the vets were in the Midwest. Some organization was always bringing him candy, comforters, toiletries, or stuffed animals. School classes were constantly sending cards and letters of appreciation saying, “Thank you for fighting in the war,” and “Thank you for keeping America safe.”

I learned to take joy in simple things like an ordinary Bingo game. When some vet in a wheelchair without the use of all his limbs or hearing or sight yelled, “Bingo!” everyone cheered. There were also Craft Fairs where vets proudly displayed what they made. When they won a prize, they loved it when you congratulated them or took their picture.  

I learned compassion. There’s something quite moving about one vet without an arm helping another without his legs. At first the pain of seeing these guys in those conditions was too difficult for me to bear, but soon I had camaraderie with them. We were joking and sharing stories.

I learned selfless service. Many who helped at this VA facility were volunteers. Like Jack who helped the guys bowl with a special apparatus designed to hold the ball so all the men had to do was push. Each time I visited, I saw Dad’s little bowling trophy on his nightstand.

I learned to be happy for what I had instead of sad over what I didn’t have. When my dad saw me his face would light up! I was happy he knew I was his daughter even if he couldn’t remember my name. He’d say, “I know you! You’re my daughter!”

I learned even an Alzheimer’s patient can put his trust in God. Each day my dad played the same tape of old gospel songs over and over and over again. He’d sing and sing and sing. “Just a closer walk with thee…” “Oh they tell me of an unclouded day…” “I’ll fly away, oh glory…” We loved to sing together. When we’d sing, “Take it to the Lord in prayer,” he’d look over at me and say, “You know that’s true, don’t you? Don’t ever forget it!”

When the Lord finally took my dad home to be with Him, I was thankful for that last year I got to spend with him. What precious memories!

*****

O Father, I can’t thank You enough for giving me my dad. Because of him, it is easier for me to accept You as a loving Father. My dad has gone to be with You, and I know You will take good care of him. Please help me be attuned to other fathers and when I see them doing a great job with their kids, put in my heart to let them know. Parenting is a hard job. Everyone needs a little encouragement now and then.


Magnetic Memos of Truth

June 7, 2020 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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A Journal of Joy: Things that make my heart smile…..

I want to share some of my favorite magnets with you—full of pithy quotes that have given me much joy and laughter. They contain much wisdom and have been hand-chosen by me to hold an honorable, prominent place on my refrigerator or near my work desk.

But first, I need to make a disclaimer. A couple of them may contain a few words others might find offensive – especially the ones I keep in my private work area. So if you are easily offended, I suggest you stop reading now. For the rest, I say read on.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am against dirty jokes, foul language, and profanity. However, remember the Bible itself is not beyond colorful language for accurate descriptions. What does one think a pile of dung is? And don’t look up the meaning to “filthy rags” if you are squeamish. There is difference in saying the road to hell is paved with good intentions versus telling someone to go to hell, although both expressions contain the word “hell.”

With that said, here are some of my favorite magnet memos.

  • Leave me alone! I’m having a crisis!
  • I found myself. See? I’m right here!
  • What is popular is not always right. What is right is not always popular.
  • I didn’t say it was your fault. I said I was going to blame you.
  • Behind every successful man is an exhausted woman.
  • The rooster may crow but the hen delivers the goods.
  • You have two choices for dinner: take it or leave it.
  • I clean house every other day. This is the other day.
  • I can only please one person a day. Today is not your day and tomorrow isn’t looking too good either.
  • Do it! Do it right! Do it right now!
  • Doo-doo happens. (Yes, it says “doo-doo” happens!)
  • It’s better to be pissed off than to be pissed on.
  • Where is the liar who said life was fair?
  • I’ve changed. It’s called menopause!
  • The truth will set you free, but it will piss you off first.

Oh sure, I have a lot of magnets with scriptures, others encouraging me to stay spiritually focused, and tons that are of places I’ve visited. I love my magnets. But none seem to bring me as much joy as the ones I’ve listed.

This one about truth is a definite keeper. It sort of reminds me of that line in A Few Good Men when Tom Cruise asks Jack Nicholson to tell him the truth. Jack’s angry reply is, “You can’t handle the truth!”

We live in a world with very little truth. What little truth we have, no one wants to hear. Don’t confuse me with the facts! People think truth is relative. Everyone has their own truth. I have my truth. You have your truth. They have their truth. Truth can be very deceptive. People can even convince themselves they are speaking truth when they aren’t, thinking the end justifies the means even if it means being untruthful. 

What they fail to realize is that there is only one truth. It’s Jesus Christ. Yes, I know many people don’t want to hear it. It upsets them because they can’t handle the truth. Jesus is “the way, the truth, the life! (John 14:6)” No one comes to salvation unless they go through Him. Once we accept salvation we become His disciples. Jesus tells us that His disciples will abide in His Word. There they will find the truth and the truth will set them free (John 8:31).

****

Jesus, You are the way, the truth, the life! Staying focused on You is the only way to navigate in an untruthful world. As I read the Bible I pray for Your guidance, Your discernment, Your wisdom, and Your insight to permeate my inner being so I can live in the reality of Your truth.


Keeping Your Word

May 31, 2020 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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A Journal of Joy: Things that make my heart smile…..

Keeping your word is almost unheard of among politicians. It’s becoming a lost art form among regular folks as well. The tragedy in not keeping your word results in what Cicero told us, “A liar is not believed even though he tells the truth.” That’s why it’s a real breath of fresh air when you find someone who actually keeps his word.

We learned this many years ago while living in Appalachia. As a young family, we wanted to purchase a little property to build a house. We had our eye on some acreage owned by a man I will call Farmer Brown. We met Farmer Brown on his land. He looked around, pointed to the trees and foliage, then said he had a special affection for this particular parcel because he wanted to give it to his son to build on, but his son had other plans. “Uh-oh,” we thought. “Is he good or what?” We were city people and could feel the price rising even as we spoke.

Then he quoted us an extremely low amount. He said he liked us because we reminded him of his children. We quickly agreed and said we would have a contract drawn up immediately. He stopped talking and just stared at us for a few seconds. To use the vernacular of the area we were in, he got plum insulted. He said if we needed a contract the deal was off. His handshake should be a good enough bond for us. We trusted him and shook on it. He was refreshing, honest, and true to his word.

The world is used to men twisting words to manipulate people, but the old saying still rings true, “A man is as good as his word.” The Bible speaks of a good name being better than precious ointment (Ecclesiastes 7:1). It also says that putting confidence in those who are not true to their word can be painful (Proverbs 25:19).

James 5:12 says, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no,” which is just a fancy way of saying, “Keep your word.” That’s what I think about when I remember Farmer Brown.   

*****

Dear Father, I want to be a person who can be counted on to do what I say even in the small things. Give me wisdom in what I agree to do. If I agree to do something and can’t make it, then help me be courteous enough to contact those who are counting on me and not leave them hanging. This world is full of broken promises. You do not break Your promises to me, and I shouldn’t break mine to others. 


Apples of Gold

May 24, 2020 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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A Journal of Joy: Things that make my heart smile…..

Three lady friends and I were out for a night on the town. We were going to dinner and then the symphony. What fun! After dinner we shared an elevator with a middle-aged man. We chatted with him and found out he was headed for the symphony, too. Since we were within walking distance but not sure which way to go we said, “Great! We’ll follow you.”

He good naturedly replied, “That would be like the blind leading the blind.”

There was dead silence, the kind that only lasts a second but seems like a lifetime. You see, my friend Rose is blind. It was apparent by the man’s expression that he wanted the earth to open and swallow him up.

I knew the feeling well because I’ve had my share of verbal faux pas. I long to be the one speaking “apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11), but that precious word so fitly spoken seems to elude me. I have blooper-itis. “Kids say the darndest things” but we adults can give them a run for their money.

I’m reminded of a story I heard about a woman who went to the produce section of a grocery store and asked to buy half a head of lettuce. The produce guy seemed perplexed but said he would check with the manager. He went to the back of the store, found the manager, and said, “Some idiot wants to buy a half a head of lettuce.” He turned slowly to find the woman had followed him. He then added, “And this lovely lady here would like to buy the other half. Would that be okay?”

I’m afraid I don’t think that quickly. I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person, but I tend to have these brain-freeze moments.

Once, a neighboring church choir came to sing for our congregation. I thanked a man for coming. He looked at me blankly and said, “But I attend church here with you.”

At a family conference, the speaker encouraged us to meet someone new from each age group every day: a pre-teen, a teen, an adult, and a senior citizen. I went up to the first woman I saw and said, “Perhaps I could meet you and you’d be my senior citizen for today.” She looked offended and replied, “Perhaps you could, but I’m NOT a senior citizen.”

One time I even forgot the name of my best friend when I was introducing her to someone. The list could go on and on.

While these bloopers bring a smile to my face, I still wish I could be more like my friend Rose. She had a certain graciousness that set the other person at ease in an awkward situation.

When the man good naturedly replied, “That would be like the blind leading the blind” and dead silence occurred, Rose didn’t skip a beat. She laughed and graciously said, “Oh, you want me to lead then, huh?” The man sighed and we all laughed.

Now that’s what I call true apples of gold!

*****

Father, how I long to speak apples of gold in settings of silver, but it doesn’t seem to happen very often. Forgive me when I don’t think before I speak and perhaps say a hurtful thing to someone thinking it’s all in fun. Give me the ability to make others feel comfortable in an awkward situation and fill my mouth with Your words of edification.


Faithful to Complete

May 17, 2020 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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A Journal of Joy: Things that make my heart smile…..

One of my favorite scriptures is found in Philippians 1:6: “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it…”

Paul is writing this letter to the Philippians while he is imprisoned in Rome. He begins by thanking them for their loyalty, love, and support. Then quickly he gives them some encouragement. He assures them that Jesus Christ is with them. Jesus Christ has begun a good work in them. Jesus Christ will be faithful to complete it.

What a message of promise and hope!

God never gives up on me. I am God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). I am not complete but a work in progress. He is continually working in my life. Jesus Christ lives in me (John 17:23). I am weak, but He is strong. I am vulnerable, but He is mighty. God makes up for my lack.

Although I habitually make mistakes, fall short of the mark, or screw up in one way or another, God never gives up on me. No matter how I feel or what battle I’m fighting, God never gives up on me.

God is faithful. I can count on what He says. When He says He will complete His work in me, I know He will do it. He will finish what He has started and will not abandon me (Psalm 138:8).

This is cause for great rejoicing. God never gives up on me, and I should never give up on Him.  

****

O God, I don’t know why You would even begin a good work in me, but You have. I know You have! I am a work in progress, but sometimes the progress seems so slow. As You live in me, help me focus on how far I’ve come, not how far I have to go so I won’t get discouraged. Thank You for bringing Scriptures to mind about the glorious, blessed assurance that You will never give up on me.


I Remember Mama – Part 2

May 10, 2020 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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A Journal of Joy: Things that make my heart smile…..

Memories of my mother always fill me with joy. She’s been gone for 48 years, but I can still see her face and feel her guiding hand in my life. I think sharing stories about loved ones who have passed away brings them honor. Here are some more things I remember about my mama.

I remember her fearlessness: When I was 4 or 5 we lived in a brownstone “rooms for rent” building in St. Louis. The woman who lived upstairs had a young boy about my age. She would stay out until all hours, leaving her child alone, unattended. Once, she left him there ill. In those days, there were no agencies to call in such situations and the police couldn’t do anything because it wasn’t illegal. Mom went upstairs and looked after him. She also let others know she’d like to give this gal a piece of her mind, among other things. The next day, my dad, Mom, and I were headed out. I’m not sure where we were going, but we were all dressed up. I know this because Mom had a hat on. Hats were very fashionable in those days.

We were standing in the hallway when Miss Out All Night came shimmying down the stairs. “I hear you’re looking for me,” she said.

Mom said, “Well, yes I am.”

It was obvious the lady was looking for a fight. Mom tried to talk her out of it but she wouldn’t listen, so Mom took off her hat, handed it and her purse to Dad to hold while she proceeded to have a little hand-to-hand combat. I could tell the woman was still conscious as she lay there on the floor. Mom dusted herself off, straighten her hair slightly, put her hat back on, took her purse from Dad, and off we went for the day. When we returned, the lady and her son had moved.

I remember her humor: Mom was a cross between Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry, witty and funny. Once at K-Mart, Mom accidentally bumped her shopping cart into another woman’s. Mom jokingly said, “Sorry, you almost need a driver’s license to operate one of these things.” The woman was indignant as she replied, “Well, I don’t!” Then the woman turned her cart quickly around and ran into a post. Mom just passed her up, smiled, and replied, “See what I mean!”

I remember her encouragement: “You can do it,” she’d say. “You can be whatever you want to be. You can do whatever you want to do.” It may not seem like a big thing now, but Mom always wanted a high school diploma. I remember with pride when she got her GED. She was in her mid-30s. 

I remember when she came to Christ: Mom wasn’t quite as feisty after she met the Lord. She never lost her wit, wisdom, or humor, but she gained peace and deeper insight. When she looked at a flower, she saw the Creator. When she looked at snow, she saw a miracle. When she lived life, she saw purpose.

I remember her death: I was in my early 20s when Mama died. She went to the doctor for what she thought was a kidney infection; she found out she had uterine cancer. Two weeks later she was gone. She was 48. It happened so fast and now that I’m older, I realize how young she was.

Pope Paul VI said, “Every mother is like Moses. She does not enter the Promised Land. She prepares a world she will not see.” These words ring true in my mother’s case. There is much of her family’s life she did not live to see.

And because her death came quickly, there is much I didn’t get to tell her. So, “Mom, if you’re listening, I want you to know – I remember you! Thanks for giving me so many wonderful things to remember.”

*****

Lord, You give and You take away. Thank You for giving me my mom. I’ve always been a little sad that she never got to see her amazing grandchildren, but I think a little of her lives on in them. Sharing stories with them about her leaves a legacy. What a wise, wonderful, and colorful person she was! All the praise and glory for that goes to You! 


I Remember Mama – Part 1

May 3, 2020 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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A Journal of Joy: Things that make my heart smile…..

One of my favorite old movies is I Remember Mama, based on the stage play by the same name and the book Mama’s Bank Account written by Kathryn Forbes in the 1940s. It’s a true account of a Norwegian family living in the San Francisco area in the early 1900s. Filled with warmth and humor, its popularity even spawned a TV show in the 50s called Mama (definitely not to be confused with Mama’s Family which aired in the 80s) that ran for 8 years. The appeal of I Remember Mama was always family and especially “Mama” who many times is the glue that holds a family together.

As we grow up, there are so many things we forget about our mothers. My mom died 48 years ago when I was in my twenties, but it is amazing how much I remember about her. As Mother’s Day approaches I’ve been reflecting on my mother and the lessons I learned from her.

Yes, I remember Mama! In fact, I remember her so well I’ll need two blogs to share some of my memories with you.  

I remember her wisdom: Imbued with tons of what we called horse sense in the Midwest, she was a cross between Dr. Laura and Solomon. “There are always three sides to every story: yours, theirs, and what really happened,” she’d say. Her theory was that many times we don’t intend to shade the truth but we do see everything from our perspective, which can be skewed.

I remember her service: She lived by the motto of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. If any friend, relative, or neighbor needed help, mom was there. She brought food to the hungry, nursed the sick, and visited the lonely.

I remember her insight: She’d say, “Life is not fair so deal with it.” It’s not something an idealistic child wants to hear but I learned at a young age, it isn’t always the most qualified, talented, or deserving person who ends up with the job, position, or first prize.

I remember her beauty: In her younger days, many a stranger stopped mom to ask if she was a model, but what really made her beautiful was how she genuinely cared for others and her giving heart. Even at Christmas time, everyone got a gift, even the boy who delivered the newspaper. It may have only been a pencil box because we didn’t have much money, but whatever we had, mom was glad to share.

I remember her honesty: “Don’t say anything behind anyone’s back you wouldn’t say to their face,” she’d say. These are words she lived by. I’m not implying she only said nice things about people but whatever she said, she was willing to stand by it.

I remember her humility: If she felt she was wrong she would apologize, even to me and I was just a kid.  

I remember her hard work: Believe it or not, it took both of my parents working to keep us in the poverty we had grown accustomed to. I was a “latchkey kid” before they even had the term. Neither of my folks had much of a formal education, so they took whatever jobs they could get. Sometimes mom would hold down a full-time job and take in ironing on the side. Mom never complained and I never went without home-cooked meals or the necessities in life.

Mama’s been gone a long time, but I remember her very well—always with joy and thankfulness.

*****

Dear heavenly Father, words can’t express the gratitude I feel towards You for giving me my mom. What joy she brought to my heart! What lessons I learned from her! What an example she set for me! When she passed away it left a hole in my heart, but her memory fills it with love and legacy. I thank and praise You for my mother! 


Flying High

April 26, 2020 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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A Journal of Joy: Things that make my heart smile…..

Forty years ago, we spent ten or so years ministering in Appalachian areas. The roads there were mostly two-lane, curvy, and mountainous. However, we adapted and learned to navigate them quite well. We knew you could not rely on a map to calculate the actual distance or time it would take to get from one place to another. It always took longer than you anticipated. 

One time our California headquarters sent a couple of visiting speakers to our area. The plan was for them to speak in London, Kentucky in the morning and Pikeville, Kentucky in the afternoon. That was fine. However, they disregarded our input about the time it would take to get from one area to another. They thought they could drive it in about one and a half hours or two hours at the most. However, they had not anticipated that the new highway on their map was under construction, not finished.

My husband had made this trip often and knew where he could drive on the highway, where he would have to detour, when he would have to drive over mounds of dirt on the roads—you get the picture. It was well over a three-hour trip to get there and that’s if you knew all the detours and shortcuts.

They have a saying in Kentucky: “You can’t get there from here!” Which loosely translated means that you literally can’t get there from here or you haven’t given yourself enough time to get there from here. After a day or two in Kentucky, the visiting dignitaries agreed that it would take more time than anticipated to get from one place to the other by car so they decided to charter a small plane. My husband and I were kind of excited because we were invited to come along.

Now flying a prop plane around the mountains of Kentucky is a tricky proposition at best. It’s almost like navigating the roads. If you don’t know what you are doing, you could easily miscalculate and hit a mountain.

Most of the trip was uneventful. The visitors enjoyed chatting with the pilot, learning more about the area, looking at the roads they would have had to travel on if they had driven, and enjoying the magnificent view. Then it came time to make our landing.

The pilot told us not to worry. He explained that landing in Pikeville was always a little awkward. Many pilots had missed the mark because it required a bit of maneuvering. He spouted terms like wind velocity, altitude, airspeed, and visibility. “The basic problem,” he said, “is that it looks like we are flying straight into a mountain and then we make a turn so we can reach the landing strip safely.” He called it a dogleg landing pattern, but I’m sure this was the Kentucky translation and there was perhaps a more technical term floating around somewhere. I sort of tuned out once I found out we were heading into a mountain.  

Sure enough, it looked like we were flying into the mountain. Flying towards a mountain fills one with a myriad of sensations. It’s sort of apprehension, excitement, wonderment, and fear all jumbled together. When the skillful pilot made the turn and landed smoothly on the airstrip, the feeling was definitely relief mixed with thankfulness. The men spoke at the gathering and we flew calmly back to London, Kentucky later that evening. The twilight views were spectacular.

I’ve never forgotten being thankful we were in skilled hands making that scary landing. There’s a life lesson there. Much of life can be disconcerting but I know God can pilot me safely towards my destination.

*****

Lord, I don’t want You as my copilot; I want You to fly the plane. I want You to navigate my route, calculate how long it will take, lift me over obstacles, lead me through the detours, and get me to my destination safe and sound. Letting You be in control is not easy for me, but in my heart I know it is the best course to take.