Monday, June 28, 2010

Mom’s Peddle-the-Treadle Ministry

The rhythm of the old treadle sewing machine was easily learned and in a short time, you could zip right along creating your garments. Early on, my mother taught me how to sew square blocks of material together using her machine. These squares were cut from what was left of the many school dresses, Mom sewed for my sister and me. These scraps became quilt tops for our beds! It gave us great pleasure to stare at the numerous small pieces of beautiful fabric and remember the dresses they had came from.

Our church’s Women’s Ministry group met bi-weekly to make quilts and other items for the missionaries. At home, mother would peddle away on her treadle machine, creating countless quilt tops for the church. Once a top was assembled, she would take it to church where the ladies would set it up on a quilting frame. Usually a blanket went inside, and was encased by yardage material for the back. As the quilt components were all in place, the ladies would sit around the frame and tie it off with yarn at each corner of the material blocks.

As a small child I can remember sitting underneath the frame and hiding there while the ladies worked. My children would later do the same thing.

The quilt was generally completed the same day of the meeting, and following a simple pot luck lunch, missionary letters were shared. Special prayer was offered for the family who would soon receive the gorgeous new quilt.

As I reflect on those small colorful pieces of material coming together to form something attractive and extremely useful, I am reminded of how different we all are. Jesus prayed that we would love one another and be unified in Christian love.

As we come together as a team, and minister in the place that God has called us to labor for Him, we become that beautiful and useful Church that Jesus had in mind as He spoke.

We are not all called to do the same assignment for the Lord. Some will be more visible, but others of us may be the warm blanket inside the quilt to give comfort to those needing a good word or offering help to others along the way. A number of us may be likened to the back of the quilt, just as needed and useful, but our job will not call for recognition from the masses, but only applause from Jesus himself.

There are times the Lord arranges for tangible rewards. One day a new sewing machine store opened in our neighborhood, and patrons were asked to enter a ticket in a drawing for a free, new sewing machine. The winner was announced, and it was my sweet mother! Because there were many dials and attachments to this fancy new machine, sewing lessons were part of the gift. For many years, my mother used this new machine, and continued to sew quilts, dresses, and other items for the missionaries. She was a quiet lady and worked for the Lord in the manner to which she felt called.

“Find your place and fill it,” was what my mother always said to me. That was excellent advice…and I am still following it today!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Old Fashioned Stilts for Walking

One day our parents took our family to see the circus. These thrilling and daring acts gave my sister and me dreams of being a trapeze artist, or other such glamorous artistic portrayals of an exciting life style. Even the clowns were fun to watch as they performed, and they made us all laugh. I was intrigued by the extremely tall clowns who walked so strangely. My Dad informed me, “The clowns are wearing stilts under their costumes.”

I thought to myself, “Stilts, yes that would be something that I could use for our neighbor- hood plays that we put on for the kids to enjoy.”

“Daddy, would you buy me some stilts please?” I begged my father.

His answer was that he could make me some, just as good as, and probably better than the store bought variety. He was also concerned for safety and did not want me using the strap on variety because he knew the type with poles would be the best for my control.

Dad fashioned two 2x2x55 inch boards and strongly attached a foot rest about 2 feet off the ground on each stilt. It didn’t take him long to finish, and I was ready to test them.

My father suggested that I begin by leaning against the wall of our house and then step up on the stilts. He demonstrated how to safely position the poles behind my arms, and how to place my hands. I was ready to try a few steps. He assured me that this would take some practice, but he guaranteed that I could learn to do this in a very short time.

It was easy, and it didn’t take me long to master walking on this contraption. It was fun and I could quickly jump off, if the need arose. These stilts brought much enjoyment and a sense of pride and accomplishment to me as I walked with them.

Always wanting a challenge, and not being content to use the stilts properly, I would reverse the stilts so that the foot rests were on the outside. Naturally this caused the walking to be more difficult, and the result was frequently skinned knees and elbows.

There is another walk that is a Spiritual walk with God. As believers we are not to walk as the world saunters along, but as God would have us to walk, cautiously with awareness, and frequently with boldness and aggression.

Sometimes, we test our comfort zone by putting our shoes on the wrong feet, or twisting the path to a more demanding zone. Often hardships in life can be avoided if we would stop and listen to the plan, then obey first instead of running ahead and repenting later.

Our Father’s training manual gives gentle and simple instructions for walking. As we study His Word and pay attention, it will prevent us from skinned knees and elbows (so to speak.) God has also provided us with a built in CD that plays in our spirit. It is called the Holy Spirit. Daily, even moment by moment, guidance is there for our safety and our closer walk with Jesus.

Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Silver Fillings and Yellow Eyeballs

The one mile walk home from school did not bother me because we were a family who walked a lot. I dreaded something else; something I was going to face weekly, - a visit to the dentist on my way home from school.

I am not certain of the reason, if it was to save money, or it just was not done in those days, but I was not to be given Novocain for the many cavities in my teeth.

This was the year 1944, and dental amalgam, the material in “silver tooth fillings”, was the material of choice. At that time, we did not understand that the substance contained approximately fifty percent of the highly toxic, heavy metal, mercury.

It was not until years later, that I realized that I had been poisoned.

My dental work was completed, and I was rewarded with a small gift from my parents for being such a good girl to endure the painful process of all the extensive dental work.

A short time later, I became very weak, and my skin began to turn yellow. We did not associate it with the dental work. Large golden blotches appeared on my arms and legs, and even my eyes turned a yellow color.

My parents were extremely concerned, and called in a doctor who made house calls. One look at me, and he pronounced that it was my liver and he believed that Yellow Jaundice was what ailed me. The doctor then gave me a shot, and told my mother to keep me home in bed until the yellow color went away.

I can’t remember if it was longer than two weeks, but I do know that I missed a lot of school. I needed to do make up to maintain my good grades. As I regained some strength, I continued my walk to school, and resumed my studies.

Years later, still uninformed of the danger of mercury fillings, I submitted my daughter to a mouth full of silver fillings, and she has endured health issues for many years.

Today the public is more aware of their options, and can choose to have healthier, natural-looking, work done on their teeth by the dentist.

In life there are many spiritual poisons of which we are often unaware. Nice-looking people may come to our door to interest us in studying the Bible. Other, well recognized, groups may seem innocent enough, but later will take you through brainwashing techniques and forms of mind control. There are even some forms of exercise that have an “Eastern mystique” about them.

How can you protect yourself spiritually against falsehood that could poison you? You must investigate!

First of all, consider this. Do these groups use the Bible as their guide or do they offer a second book? Do they believe in a literal hell to shun and a literal heaven to gain?

Do they recognize Jesus who died, was buried, rose from the dead and is coming back soon to gather His saints?

If they do not adhere to the above, proceed with caution, they could be hazardous to your spiritual health.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day Sleeper

I looked around the bleak railroad station, as my mother placed a box full of kitchen utensils, and an ironing board at the window for shipping to our new home in Oakland.

The first five years of my life, my dad had not enjoyed a permanent job. He worked for a rancher tending his orchard, picked fruit, and later cleared brush up in the mountains for the WPA.

My Uncle Clarence had encouraged Dad to come to Oakland for a job interview at the Southern Pacific Railroad where he worked. What anticipation for a new life we hoped to experience as a family when Dad was hired as a switchman for the railroad!

If Dad needed extra money (which was often) he had the opportunity to work on the extra board, which required 8 hours work and 8 hours off, in a revolving schedule. Mother would place a sign on the door that read “Day Sleeper, Do Not Disturb.” This was to discourage the door to door salespersons that frequented our neighborhood.

One day I decided to play “Sales Lady,” and not yet being able to read, I rang the doorbell repeatedly. Finally the door opened and it was my dad who gruffly growled, “What do you want?” Hesitatingly I blurted out, “I was just playing sales lady.”

Realizing what I had probably woke him up, I was frightened! I began to sob profusely with huge tears rolling down my face.

His heart melted! He opened wide the door, took me in his arms assuring me that all was forgiven, and suggested that I play quiet games when he was asleep. Needless to say, I did not ring the door bell anymore or play sales lady after that episode.

Isn’t it strange how we can learn some lessons in life more easily than others? Often without actually getting hurt. Shocked, maybe, and even brought to tears, but soon the lesson is over and we automatically resume our daily duties.

Not every thing I have learned through the years has been effortless and trouble-free. Certainly, much study and preparation is necessary for a career or whatever lines of work a person decides to follow. However, the lessons learned through mistakes are most difficult. Not always can our mistakes simply disappear and go away. The fruit of many mistakes will follow us through our entire life.

So what am I saying? Learn quickly what to avoid and what not to repeat. Place your faith in Jesus and follow Him. The Holy Spirit is the perfect teacher and guide to show us the best course for our life.

If you have made mistakes, understand that all is not lost. Your route may now be different than you at first anticipated, but even that pathway can be a glorious itinerary with Jesus as your leader. God does not run out of plans, take plan B, or C or even plan Z.

God never sleeps, night or day, and His mercies are new every morning. He is always there to put his loving arms around you to forgive and to cheer you on to success!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Defend Yourself

While house hunting, my aunt and uncle, along with their two children moved in with us for a few weeks. I remember my girl cousin was full of energy accompanied by a mean streak! She would run, take a flying leap and jump on my brother’s back with her legs locked around his waist. Then, with fists flailing, she pounded on his back until he would cry for help.

Our aunt did not reprimand or punish her. In fact, my aunt thought it was funny! Because my brother had been taught not to hit girls, he was defenseless against her! Finally, in desperation, I took him aside and reasoned with him. We agreed that, in this case, he had a perfect right to defend himself.

The next time she pulled this stunt, my brother unexpectedly sat down, rolled over backwards, flipped upright, and held her down until she cried for help. She never tried that again, at least not in our household.

Do you ever feel like life is jumping on YOUR back and giving you a good thrashing?

Let me tell you that you have a right to defend yourself.

The Bible tells us in the book of James, (first step) to draw near to God and He will draw near to us.

The second step is to resist the devil (and his problems that seem to throw themselves at you) and he will flee from you.

Drawing near to God is a preventative measure! You can actually avoid the thrashing that will roll off your back as you resist.

Then, it may just be time to stand still and allow God to fight for you. Let Him sending the devil running!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Coffee Break, Cold Water and Bob by Nancy Kehr

Todays post is by Guest writer, daughter, Nancy Kehr - Enjoy her story!

Rushing in the door, immediately on the lookout for my husband Randy, my daughter, pushed past me because something was wrong with her car. She had come to pick up the grandkids – two precocious 10 year olds – but half way to our house, her car began making a loud knocking noise!

I was ready for everyone to be gone! For a myriad of reasons, getting to my work while these two were here was next to impossible! At least I had the evening to catch up.

“Rocker arm’s loose,” was Randy’s diagnosis. “She can’t drive it home…we’ll have to take them home to Modesto.”

Poof! There went all our plans for that evening! Seems like whenever we have a boatload of stuff to accomplish, it often takes second place to something like this! Well it couldn’t be helped, and they had to get home. I would have to be up early the next day to drive one car while Randy tried to drive hers to the auto shop. Hadn’t we had just done this for her in February?

Everyone loaded up into the big truck and we made the trip to Modesto. It was already getting late so only one of our errands could be accomplished. The car was filled up but our stomachs were on empty! On the trip home, Starbucks beckoned from the freeway. It was not our usual store, but we decided to make a bit of a “date-night” anyway! Date-night. That’s where we kick back; forget everything but each other, talk, sit close, talk, hold hands and talk. Yes! That’s what we’d do!

There it sat! I noticed it as we scouted the place for a good out-of-the-way place to sit. Had the Gideon’s been there? We eyed a Bible at one of the empty tables. No one was there so, the Book marked our spot!

An UPS man arrived at the counter about the same time as I did. He deferred to me to order first. I thanked him; we made small talk. Meanwhile, Randy headed for “the spot”. Order complete, I headed there too. Behind me was the UPS man. Randy picked up the Bible, while I got comfortable.

“Oh, that’s mine,” said a deep voice. A look up revealed the UPS man.

We told him we had been meaning to read Psalms 27 all day, and he motioned for us to continue. Randy read the whole chapter out loud. I prayed while Randy continued to talk, as he shared the Word with related stories. This tired fellow seemed to enjoy the unexpected twist in his evening.

His practice was to save up all his breaks until the end of the day, and then finish paperwork, and unwind at Starbucks before heading home.

Upon parting, I commented that he probably never expected to spend his break with fanatics! He laughed and remarked that he needed it, emphasizing that he was there every evening at the same time!

His name was Bob. Funny how we thought we were just getting ourselves some coffee. Instead, we were sent to bring him a cup of cold water!

Friday, June 18, 2010

I Am His Little I AM by Nancy Kehr

Todays Post is by my daughter Nancy. I thought you would enjoy the song she wrote.

Preface by Nancy,
Seems, as a kid, I always lived in dread of the other shoe dropping. It puts a person on continual edge.

I was really thankful for being able to learn about God's Merciful and Fatherly qualities. It helped me develop trust in Him.

So, I wrote a song like a little girl telling someone naa-naa- you can't get me! Make up your own tune and sing along - - - -

I Am His Little I AM

I am my Father's glory
I am His joy and pride
I march right into the throne room
I run right up to His side
I try to be just like Him
In all I do or say
I'm spoiled and I know it,
But He loves me anyway!

I am His little "I Am", I am!
Runnin' around the throne
In the Name of my Big Brother, Jesus
I make all heaven my home
I am His little "I Am", I am!
Some say I look just like HIm
I am His little "I Am", I am!
I am, 'cause He lives within!
Oh, I am 'cause He lives within!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Soda in the Pot

Reading Helpful Hints has always intrigued me. One tip that I discovered was to use baking soda to clean your coffee pot. It also worked as an excellent cleanser in the coffee thermos bottle that my husband took with him to work each day.

One summer morning I put some soda into the thermos and let it soak for awhile before I rinsed it out. Soon I continued the washing of the pot and poured in the coffee for my husbands work.

That particular morning, my husband Robert was taking the two teen age boys to work with him. Our son, Steve and his young Uncle Doug were the same age and enjoyed being able to help on the job.

Returning from work that afternoon, Steve triumphantly marched into the kitchen and handed me the coffee thermos as he declared, “Dad did not drink his coffee today, and I am so glad, because I saw you put soda in it this morning.”

My face color drained to ashen grey, as I realized that Steve had not seen the entire picture. I carefully explained to him that I would NEVER pull a stunt like that as a joke, or to harm anyone especially not to his Dad.

I wanted to make it clear that soda is to help clean the thermos and it is always rinsed out before the coffee goes in. Then I carefully dumped the coffee into the sink, so Steve could see that there was only coffee in the pot.

The relief in his face was visible as he understood that all is not - - as it sometimes appears.

I was so thankful that Steve did not harbor this incident in his heart and believe the worst of his mother. Instead he considered it wise to come to me and to clarify the facts.

This is a perfect example to always discover the entire story before relating to others what might prove to be only what we thought we saw.

There is an old quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin that says,
“Believe none of what you hear - - and only half of what you see.”

The scriptures instruct us that our mortal eyes and ears cannot comprehend all that God has prepared for those who love Him. One of these days, we will see and understand all, and it will be revealed to us in its entirety.

1Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

70 times 7

As is my general custom, I visit my mother after church on Sundays at the Assisted Living home where she resides.

Each week the owner of the home stops me, and asks if I have been to church. Then I proceed to tell him what the Pastor preached on this day.

I told him that the title for today’s sermon was 70 times 7. This was the answer to Peter’s question, “Should I forgive my brother 7 times? Jesus said we were to forgive 70 times 7 or in other words continually.

I elaborated that it was not simply to forgive 7 times and stop on number 8, but to forgive as we expect God to forgive us, with unlimited measure.

The Lord’s Prayer makes this very statement found in the book of Matthew.

Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our sins, as we also have forgiven those who sin against us.”

The owner remarked, Oh I need this so much. I then told him, that it is good not to get into situations where we need to repent and require forgiveness.

The Pastor ended his sermon by reminding us that if we have received Jesus as our savior, then we have the assurance that the blood of Jesus continues to cleanse us from all sin.

Isn’t it wonderful that we can actually walk in God’s forgiveness?

It certainly brings peace instead of condemnation.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dr Jesus Makes House Calls

I am thankful for Dr Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus went about, doing good, and healing all who were sick and oppressed of the Devil.

It seems these days that there is a lot of virus and illness going around. Understand this is not the only reason, but one factor that might continue to cause a person to be sick is unsettled arguments. Also bitterness, resentment, and holding grudges is detrimental to your health!

When I was a little girl, and my brother, and sister, and I would get into arguments, my mother would insist that we say, “I’m sorry,” and apologize to each other.

Then she would require the other person to say, “I forgive you.”

Oh how I hated that, because sometimes I was so angry that I did not want to apologize or forgive.

But you know, after doing something many times it becomes easier on the next occasion.

The Bible tells us not to let the sun go down on our wrath, and it is a good idea to get things out of the way quickly, and not allow them to fester.

Let me share a little secret to keep a happy marriage. It is for us ladies to learn at times to shut our mouths. You may laugh at that, but it is true.

Being quiet when you want to reply angrily is difficult I can certainly tell you that! But in the long run it will keep peace in your home! The Bible speaks in the book of Proverbs thusly:

It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.

So if you sense sickness coming your way, examine your attitudes, and get anything that is old business out of the way.

Then rejoice, sing and praise the lord, for cheerfulness is like medicine from the Lord.

Proverbs 17:22 A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Escape Artists

The old house my folks purchased for our family had two floors. Renters had occupied the upstairs as an apartment, and it was reached by a long outside stairway. When the renters moved out, my uncle, who was an expert carpenter, volunteered to build us an inside stairway, so we could make the most of both floors for our ever growing family.

Cutting a hole in the downstairs ceiling of a hall closet, he built a steep but serviceable staircase leading to the top floor. The downstairs had only possessed one bedroom, and a small sleeping porch, but now we were able to access both floors, and enjoy a bedroom for each child.

As we grew up in that old house, and reached teen age years, I discovered if we exited the window in my brother’s sleeping area, we could climb onto the roof, crawl around to the other side of the roof, hold on to a drain pipe and carefully lower our foot down to the rail on the outside stair case. From there it was an easy climb down to the porch, and as silently as possible we could slip down the stairs.

We planned this escapade on a night when my two girl friends, Shirley and Grace were spending the night. My brother and sister went along with my idea. Our other neighbor friends had intended to meet us at an arranged time. Five of us made our get a-way and were filled with excitement at our smooth departure, and we felt pleasure that we had put one over on mom and dad. Meeting our friends, we all strutted down to the boulevard to purchase hot dogs for all. Upon returning to my friend’s cottage in the rear of his mom’s place, we played cards and listened to music until we were finally exhausted.

It was time for us to return home, so the five of us carefully repeated in reverse fashion our escape that was now a re-entry. Whew, we made it safe, tired and happy; and we pounced off to bed and to sleep.

Early the next morning about 6:00 AM, we were rudely awakened by my mother telling us to get dressed. It so happened that my dad who is a light sleeper had over heard us come in around midnight. That morning he informed my mother that we kids had been gone several hours during the night by using the roof and the outside stairway.

“No breakfast for you all,” mother informed us. First we will all go to Shirley’s house across the street, and you can confess to her mother, the danger that you put her in by having her climb out on that roof.

Oh yes, we were embarrassed, but Shirley’s mother took it all too well. She knew Shirley would not try that again, and at least Shirley had experienced a “great adventure.”

Next on the agenda, up the hill, mother, Grace and I, marched to Grace’s house to wake up her parents. Mother required me to explain that I had endangered their daughter’s life, and she could have fallen off the roof, and that would not be good. Grace’s mom and dad also took it in good stride, and were pleased that no one was hurt.

Needless to say, we did not use that escape route again. Mom and dad felt we had all learned our lesson just by being scandalized with our confessions to our friends parents.

Seems like I constantly got caught when ever I tried to pull a fast one! Mother always told me, “Be sure your sin will find you out,” and that was certainly true, for it always did find me out!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Instant in Season: Guest Post by Nancy

I am honored to share an experience written by our daughter Nancy.

A big, indistinguishable lump of green-gray clothing, and blankets lay near the front door of Honest Automotive. It was still early morning and the shop had not yet opened. My husband Randy pulled his truck to the left as I swung my van closer to the entrance so I could exit with ease. Randy sat bundling up a note along with his truck keys to poke through the drop-slot as I parked.

Immediately, all my senses went on alert! Dirty bare feet stuck out of the mess. My mind raced, assessing the situation. Mentally, I began locating supplies from various places in the back of my van.

The morning chill hit my arms as I flung open the door. Brrr! I forgot my jacket. Even though the weather predicted a hot one today, the morning air was still quite cold.

Dirt-encrusted and horribly callused, those feet had seen a lot of miles. They looked red and cold; the crusty, thickened nails appeared infected. As the muddled lump became clearer to me, I could see that the feet were attached to some legs in Camo pants. A filthy thread-bare blanket was thrown over the upper body and head of this individual.

The bare feet stirred. What a relief!

Shoes! I have shoes! In the back of the van! Just last night we had loaded a bunch of things into my vehicle. I knew there was a complete homeless bag made up just for a man. Hygiene and personal care items, socks, underwear,
T-shirt, food, water – it was all there! Grabbing the bag, I hopped out of the van and made my way toward a man who was now sitting up but with head still drooping. Quietly I placed the bag before him and said,

“Good Morning, here’s a little breakfast!” Without waiting for a reply, I hurried back to the truck to see what else I could locate. By then, my husband was talking with the man.

Scraggly hair and filthy clothing encased this dejected soul. He could barely look up at us through the gnarled locks. A well-worn army backpack had been his pillow. He sat cross-legged, looking at the ground and shaking his head as we kept bringing things to him. He mumbled ‘thank-you’ and ‘God bless you over and over.

His stomach growled in loud protest as he pawed through the contents of the bag for food. He continued to mumble his thanks, shake his head and apologize. We told him he didn’t have to apologize but that God sent us to help. Randy asked if he had any water and how much he could carry and helped him to his feet.

Brushing back his tangled, matted hair, the man greeted us with tired blue eyes. Thirty? Thirty-Five? Guessing his age was hard. Stained, broken and missing teeth told of his hardship. He began apologizing that we had to see him like this. He and his traveling buddy had been attacked the previous evening and now the buddy was hospitalized. The police had dumped him there last night.

His name was Carl. He was from Arkansas. Obviously, he had been roaming around quite a while. He said he made it to Alaska in five days, but he was now two months trying to get back home. Granny was waiting. He had a place to go.

His eyes brightened as we spoke. He put on some shoes and stood as we asked if we could pray with him. I told him that I may never see him again in this life but that, when this life was all done, I wanted to see him in heaven!

Hanging his head and recoiling a bit as we attempted to grab his hands for prayer, Carl objected,

“You don’t want to touch me, I’m filthy, and I’m dirty!”

“As far as God is concerned, we are all filthy until we let him into our lives and allow Him to sort out our mess,” was my reply.

He allowed us to take his hands, and he stood as erect as he could! Randy began a powerful prayer pronouncing God’s love for Carl, and rehearsing what God had done for us through Jesus. Tears filled Carl’s eyes - - and mine. He squeezed our hands. My heart pushed past the nastiness of his condition. Randy hugged him.

No we didn’t lead him to the Lord. Somehow, this dusty soul seemed to know. All we did was to remind him that he needed to return to God, and trust Him alone.

Work beckoned, calling us back into our world. We had to hurry so that Randy wouldn’t be late. In silence we drove home to pick up Randy’s work truck. Pondering God’s faithfulness, I had forgotten how cold I was.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Something Always Needs Repair!

Today I am honored to share an experience written by my daughter Nancy.

Something always needs repair! So after dinner, it was off to Home Depot to get some ideas and, possibly, a solution! I wanted to try to save some money too!

It seems like the day is never quite long enough, and something else unexpected, always crops up to slice out yet another piece of precious time! I needed to get a variety of things accomplished before the next day showed up. My weary, achy husband tagged along with a good attitude.

On the way out of the parking lot, from a distance, I spied two young people sitting with a small sign. My eye caught sight of them immediately, even before we came close. The girl had her head down, and the fellow has his arm around her. I began scrounging for dollar bills. Suddenly we were at the turn, and I had only moments to open the window, thrust out the money with a quick “God Bless you”, and turn because of the traffic behind us. I hate leaving that quickly!

As we drove, I sat musing. Having been partners in time and dealing with countless homeless together, my husband, familiar with my pensive behavior by now, said, “Okay, what do you want to do?”

I knew he was hot and his knees were hurting, so I determined to quickly head over the Grocery outlet across the street, run through the store, and pick up whatever God directed. Hermetically sealed foods and drink, personal care items and such were thrown into a “to-go” cold-sac and we left.

They were gone! My husband, Randy knew better than to accept their absence as the final word, and he began driving up and down the close-by streets. In and out of the business, and fast food areas we searched. There they were! I needed to talk with them so he parked and waited.

As I approached with a ‘what’s-up-guys?’ two very sun-burned faces eyed me suspiciously, but their story began spilling forth. Their plans and dreams of working, and living in the Bay area had fallen through. They lost everything. Their spirits were broken and humbled. All they wanted to do was to go back home!

It seems that a church had provided a recently donated van and one tank of gas, but now they were stuck in Manteca trying to get enough money to finish the trip home to Colorado Springs.

They were hungry! I handed over the cold-sac and they pounced upon the ready-to-eat containers. My rule is that if I feed you, I get to pray with you!

Both of their heads bowed hastily, and the food dropped into their laps. These two young ones grabbed hands willingly, and stopped for prayer. They were weary, but hopeful.

Their room was waiting at home in Colorado Springs along with their TV and play station! All they had to do was get there! They almost had enough gas money to begin and finish their trip.

Well, that was a good launching place for my next comment! I reminded them that there was a place waiting for them in Heaven too – all they had to do was get there! They nodded.

Yes, they were strays from the fold! They knew the way, but had lost sight of who was really supposed to be in charge.

Hugging them like a mama, they hugged back – hard! I told them to do right, live right and turn away from sin. Mentioning that I might never see them again in this life, I made it clear that I wanted to be able to see them after this life was over. They nodded and promised.

Certainly, many things need repair, but none so much as the lives to which we are sent to influence. It’s never convenient and it’s always costly! Intervention in time? Only God knows. I am just a piece of the puzzle, but given what He’s done for me, how can I respond in a lesser fashion?

Influence, the Ripple Effect

When my husband owned his roofing business, he often hired young men that had been friends with our children. One of these gentlemen asked if his brother could be used on a large job that was coming up.

My husband replied, “Tell him to show up in the morning.”

Often, I made trips to the nearby cities to secure roofing permits and return them to the office for posting at the job sites. One day, at a job site, I noticed the brother of our friend, eyeing me as he put out his cigarette. As he looked at me, he stated,

“You used to be my Sunday School Teacher.”

Studying him carefully, I could tell that he was probably into drugs, and who knows what else!

“I hope it did some good!” I replied sharply.

Thinking back, I could have been gentler. Perhaps I should have asked about his current spiritual life, or his personal well being. Beyond that, I could have tried to find out if there was anything with which I could help.

A nagging thought has plagued me now and then. Did I really have much positive influence during the years I taught children? Had anything ever reached their hearts, and not simply just gone over their heads?

Through the years, many young people have spent countless hours in our home, as well as in our classes at church. Some are serving the Lord today - - yes many are! They have planted their feet on the solid rock, and are faithfully attending a good church, where the Bible is being preached. They have brought up their children to love Jesus, and their children are also serving our Lord.

Influence is a tangible and powerful entity. It goes before us and after us. As with ripples in a pond, we do not actually know how wide that the circle reaches out - - and out, and further out!

I am saddened when I hear of some who were so talented, and could have been such an addition to the Kingdom of God, but instead they went the way of the world. Is there hope for these who are still wandering? I must echo a loud YES, there is always hope.

The end of the story has yet to be told, so if you know of one of these wandering souls keep praying, and let the porch light be always burning!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hook Or By Crook

I pretended to be asleep as my Uncle entered our bedroom and announced,

“Wake up girls and get dressed, we are going to pit apricots today.”

I had come for a week long visit to my favorite cousin’s home, and it appeared that we were going to be able to chat and laugh while we worked.

My uncle wanted to instill in his children a good work ethic, and this was one way to expose them (and me) to the real world. Our pay was only a few cents for each tray we completed, but by the end of the week, I had saved enough for a new pair of shoes for school.

That week end, my cousin introduced me to Betsy, her friend from school.

Betsy suggested that we walk downtown to visit the local five and dime store. This was a small town, and other than a skating rink, there was not a lot to keep active kids occupied and amused.

Window shopping was entertaining and the looking was free, so we gave the store a good once over! Since but there was nothing I wanted or needed, I was bored and ready to head back to my cousins home.

We hadn’t gone too far when Betsy proudly displayed some lipstick that she had “shop lifted.”

I was horrified and exclaimed,

“You must take it back, stealing is wrong!”

She laughed and emphatically stated, “No way, it is mine now!”

The week was soon over and I returned to my home with the money I had earned, to spend for new shoes. Our large city had a large number of stores to select from, so I went shopping.

In one of the stores, I noticed a free-standing table with a beautiful display of scarves. The thought occurred to me to carefully roll one of the scarves up, and slip it into the bag I was carrying with my new shoes.

I had never done anything like this before, but my cousin’s friend had given me the idea, and the devil took over from there. Yes, it was so easy, and I did not get caught - - BUT my tender conscious got the better of me.

Catching my bus for home, I hid the scarf in my bed room, and suffered miserably from guilt, all week! Over and over again, I repented to God and begged forgiveness, but return it I must!

The following week end I was able to make another trip down town. This time, I did a reverse action, and dropped the scarf back where it belonged. I did not confess to the store clerk what I had done, as there was no need to do so, and returning the scarf eased my shame.

The Hound of Heaven was always on my trail. The heavy burden of carrying guilt was more than I could bear, and I found it best to make amends, and to ask forgiveness of God who knows it all, and sees everything we do.

If you have done something you are ashamed of, and someone else is involved, you may need to ask forgiveness from them as well as from the Lord. Restitution can not always be made, but the Lord will show you how far you need to go in making things right.

Ephesians 4:28 Let him who stole steal no more, but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, so that he may have something to give to him who needs.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Great Exchange

I recently wrote a blog about being a good example! My mother always told me, “You are the oldest so you must be a good example for others are watching you!”

Such a burden placed upon a person to be so proper - - always needing to be GOOD or act just so, because others are looking at you.

I must say that at times, I was not always the best example, but I tried. Even ‘trying’ is also difficult!

Sweating and striving to be that perfect one, simply makes a person worn out and tired. Along with it brings stress and that burned-out feeling.

Some days you just want to say - - -

“I just cannot do it! - -

I am finished with always 'TRYING' to be good, and to be that perfect good example!!”

Well, there you go! That is the answer! YOU simply cannot be the perfect example by your own self effort.

The day I realized this truth, Jesus spoke to me, and said, “Let Me live through YOU. Give Me your life, and I will give you mine.” Now that seemed like the perfect exchange, so I went for it!

It was almost like being born again – AGAIN. I told the Lord,

“Take My life and let it be wholly yours, and I will allow you to live your life through me.”

That simple confession caused me to be free from the burden of trying, and proving, and living UP TO what God, and others expected of me.

Jesus is IN the Father, and the Father is IN Jesus. I am IN Jesus and He is IN me!

Wow! That analogy takes some thoughful consideration. Why didn’t I see it before?

Free and easy is my life now. I allow Jesus to live through me, and He takes all the WORK out of living. I am so thankful for this wonderful and freely given, "Great Exchange!"

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Third Dimension

There is a set time to tell of joys, at the church I am attending. I went to the front of the church so they could hear me better, and I used the mike.

I said, “I am thankful for the third dimension.”

I showed the church members our bulletin which has a sketch of the church. I told them this is the first dimension, an inanimate object.

Then I waved my hand and said, “This building, and the people in it are in the second dimension because we can see them, and all visible things with our natural eyes.”

But there is another dimension that we cannot see, and that is all the angels around about us everywhere.

In the book of Acts it says: “Are they not ministering spirits sent to minister unto the Saints.”

Jesus said of the little children, "Even their angels behold the Father." He used angels in the plural meaning that each of us must have at least two angels watching over us.

This third dimension is just as real as the world that we can physically see.

I am thankful for the angels who stop my car when it is headed toward hitting another vehicle, and other times too numerous to tell about.

Yes, I am thankful for angels, and for that third dimension.

There are those in history whom we consider Saints, but in reality we all are Saints because we follow Christ. So who are the Saints? The Saints are all those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.

Are you following Jesus Christ? If you are then the good news is: You are a Saint and you are worthy of protection by the third dimension, the angels and the Heavenly Host!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Joys and Concerns and A Joyful Noise

Today is a final journal of how my Blog, A Joyful Noise, came into being.

One particular Sunday at First Congregational Church, the service was quite mixed up. I had been sharing every Sunday for a few minutes, during the “Joys and Concerns.” I watched as one of the council members went to the platform and whispered in the new Pastors ear.

Something was in the air, I could tell!

Soon it was time for Joys and Concerns (A verbal sharing of testimony and prayer requests). The new Pastor stepped off the platform, and came down into the audience. He did not ask for Joys and Concerns, but he summarized concerns in the church, nation, our military, and then he prayed, and led us all in the Lords prayer.

He returned to the pulpit, and began to read the scriptures, and to give his message. A voice from the audience spoke out and said, "You forgot to take the offering." He pleasantly asked "Please do not interrupt during the sermon, however remind me again when I am done."

He finished his sermon, took the offering, and then dismissed the congregation to enjoy a time of fellowship in the social hall.

During the fellowship time, the Pastor came and sat with my friend and me, and sort of apologized for things being a bit mixed up today. He said, “We will not have a bulletin next week because the Secretary is on vacation.” I suggested that he use a check list so as not to forget anything. Then I told him that I had planned to share today on "forgetting things," and I laughed. I looked at my friend, and she knew what I was thinking.

Earlier that day I had taken some oranges to "The Fathers House" which is a church ministering to a congregation of rehab and needy persons. I picked up my friend, as she needed a ride, and told her I had just taken fruit to The Fathers House. She said, “I have never been there.” I told her that many years ago I had visited several times, and they allowed me to share. One specific Sunday the Pastor at the Fathers House got up and said, “Today we will not be having any sharing.” I told my friend that I never went back.

She knew that I had thoughts today, about not coming back to this church. Later I told my friend, “It is not a good way to hear from God, and I seldom do it, but as I opened my Bible, and pointed to a scripture, it said, "Do not depart." So I am not ready to leave this church.

When I told my husband about the service today, his encouraging remark was "Hazel you do not need to preach every Sunday."

As it turned out, that was the exact same thought at my church. “Hazel was preaching too often, and using too much scripture,” and the council decided something needed to be done! Their decision was to have written joys and concerns passed on to the Pastor to read.

I was told by a council member that once a month there would be a sharing time, and I would be allowed to participate then.

I grumbled to one of my friends, and she told me, “Hazel, why don’t you start a Blog?”

I thought about it, did some research and, “A Joyful Noise” came into being.

Oh, yes, I share once a month at my church, but now I also share with you.

I do hope you enjoy my stories and the preaching that so often goes along with them.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sinners Welcomed Here

Sinners Welcomed Here – Are they welcomed at your church?

Today is a journal of my first few weeks at the United Church of Christ (Congregational church) where I was led to attend for the past many months. It is a formal liberal church. The service is full of good songs, scriptures, prayer and also some ceremony such as the lighting of candles. The Pastor reads 3 different scriptures portions and preaches from them. I am always inspired by the excellent teaching.

Our local newspaper has a Saturday Pastors column usually written by a local Pastor. One particular day, a Pastor wrote a column stating that Homosexuality is a sin. As a rebuttal, the next Saturday our former Pastor and the Episcopal priest both wrote letters to the Editor defending the Homosexual lifestyle. Actually they were kind letters. However my upset husband showed them to me. I already knew there was a couple attending our church that has been living in a gay relationship for 30 years. Never-the-less, I believe most of the church members are Christians, and are living good moral lives. All people are welcomed here! Jesus is still changing sinners into Saints!

I also know the Word of Faith Church that I previously attended and left; had an unmarried couple teaching the children, and singing in the praise and worship team. The Pastor of that church knew they were living together, but he allowed them to continue to minister. I am reminded when Jesus told the seeker to go and sin NO more.

Because of the newspaper letters, I almost decided to visit another church. Should I leave, or should I stay? – But as I prayed I was guided to remain there.

During the service, the Pastor asked if there were any joys to report. I volunteered to share the story about our dog Buck, and the growth that miraculously fell off his face. I asked, “Does God care about dogs? Yes I know he does. The Bible says he cares about the birds of the air, that he clothes the grass of the field, and we are of more value than these. If you have a need; God cares about it, and he cares for you. Does God care for dogs? Yes he does and does God care about you, yes he does.” After the service, several told me how blessed they were with my story.

At the social time, one of the council members invited me to attend a Monday evening council meeting at our church. The meeting focused in on how to encourage visitors to return and become members.

These suggestions are good for any church!

Each Sunday, our greeters give each person, who enters the church, a bulletin, and if they are a visitor they are given a sticky name tag, and are requested to sign the guest book.

The suggestion was to have a host along side the greeter, and to invite the guests to sit with them in church. After the service the hosts are to encourage the visitors to join with us in the fellowship hall, and to assist the visitor to get coffee and a treat, and to sit with them at a table. While sitting at the table to introduce them to others, and to ask them how they found out about our church; and to mention the activities available during the week such as the Women’s fellowship, the Bible study, the crafters, and sewing group.

I have not joined this church, but neither has the Lord instructed me to leave. For now I am planted, and am blooming, and being blessed and also blessing others.

Gold Mine Claim

One day my dad and several of his Railroad buddies readied themselves for a hunting trip to the Sierra Mountains. Excitedly they discussed how easy it would be to stake a Gold Mining Claim; this would be an excellent manner to secure a nice piece of land for a vacation spot. In the end, my dad was the only one serious about doing this! He set about to process his claim with an application to the county.

The car, piled high with provisions for a weekend, included a tarp, quilts, blankets, & cooking utensils. Last, was an odd thing - a large piece of metal which was to be used as our cook stove. My uncle, aunt and their three children went along to join in on all the fun.

Situated on a gentle slope, the tarp became a lean-to for us kids to sleep beneath. What an adventure! Our mattress of quilts, with blankets on top, kept sliding down hill because our “bed” was not level. Slipping and sliding was part of the fun and no one seemed to mind the inconvenience.

My dad built a small springhouse over a cool spring that ran into the creek. In it we could store perishables, and fill buckets to hold the cold water for drinking and cooking.

Dad strategically positioned some large rocks, and eased the piece of metal on top. We watched as he cleverly kindled a fire beneath. The wood popped and crackled while the bacon sizzled! It turned out to be a marvelous cook stove for the rest of our breakfast foods. We all enjoyed fried potatoes, bacon, eggs and coffee for breakfast in the morning. Later, it served as an excellent hamburger grill. Watermelon, cooled by the spring, never tasted so good!

The comforts of home faded, and we roughed it! Our uncle and his family decided they wanted no part in the “roughing-it” type of life! That weekend was enough, so they gladly packed up when it was over and headed for civilization!

Another uncle did decide to join us, and helped build a suitable “outhouse.” He also assisted mom and dad in constructing a small, but comfortable, cabin where we spent many a happy holiday. Memories of board games played, the smell of the outdoors, and nights of counting falling stars from our bed, still stir.

As we grew older and married, we enjoyed bringing our children up to, “The Cabin” as we called it. They often brought friends who would also take pleasure in the great outdoors. A magnificent place of quiet beauty was a spot which we dubbed the “Swimming Hole.” The creek emptied into this deep pool about a half mile downstream. Such a secluded and peaceful place it was. All we had to do was pick a large rock, jump off and enjoy a swim!

The Gold mine? It was nothing more than a hole in the ground, that dad dug to stake his claim. Later dad found it necessary to hire a surveyor, and to make a settlement payment to the neighbors before he was able to gain a title deed, but it was soon recorded.

No, not a gold mine, and not a mansion either. A vision, a little determination, a lot of work, and some continuous devotion to an idea, and we had a cabin just over the hill top! Best of all, it was legally ours!