Thursday, May 16, 2013

Blended, Mended Family

By Jan-Marie Waters
Like many families today, my husband Wayne and I faced the challenges of a blended family. One of our greatest struggles was with our eldest son. As a young teenager he was resentful and rebellious which caused great mayhem in our home. We tried many avenues of help: individual counseling, family counseling, Outward Bound, hospitalization, residential rehabilitation, therapy, clergy counseling. Sadly nothing made a noticeable difference. Wayne and I spent many tearful nights in prayer --with little apparent result.

Eventually our wayward son moved to California. The little contact we had with him was fraught with conflict and reproaches.

One day, our son could not be reached; not by email, not by telephone. He was just gone. I left message after message. Occasionally, I received a brief call with no information about his circumstances – then, nothing. I was distraught. I began to have anxiety attacks and became severely depressed. Despite everything, I had lost my beloved firstborn.

I knew I had to survive for Wayne and our younger son. I began to pray. I prayed fervently and persistently. Then, one night, I prayed for my son as if he had died. Indeed, he was as lost to us as if he had died. I asked Jesus to take my child to Himself and to love him and protect him for somehow we had failed to do so. I prayed the Lord’s forgiveness for my shortcomings as a parent and for my part in the unhappiness that had plagued our home. I prayed to the Holy Spirit to let my child, wherever he was, feel my love for him in his heart – even though I truly believed that I would never see or hear from him again.

And then, I went on. Our family went on. Life went on. Not easily or comfortably, but it went on. Time passed.

One evening, the phone rang. When I answered, it was our son. I heard, “I have tried to put you out of my life. I even moved to Europe to get away from you. But, for some reason that I don’t understand, I find that I need you in my life in some way. I don’t know why, and I don’t think it will do any good. But, I’m calling you anyway.”

Life began again. We were resurrected as a family. Many conversations, changes, transitions have occurred since that time – too many to share here.

Recently, we spent a week together. All of us. Dad, Mom, brothers, children, wives and girlfriends. Happily, peacefully, hopefully and gratefully together. A family. Thanks be to God!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Rev'd Sarah Bronos
I was not raised in a Christian household although both of my parents were nominal members of the Church of England. When I was born, my mother refused my grandmother’s request to have me baptized.

At age nine I started attending Loreto Roman Catholic Convent School for girls in the town where I lived in the UK. Although I had been asking questions about God since I was five, I knew little to nothing about Christianity. I was very shy at that age and spent most of my break time after lunch in the chapel-- a place I loved to be. (There is still a mixture of the scents of flowers, beeswax candles and scented holy water that can take me right back to that place where I felt so very safe.) I was drawn to the carved wood Stations of the Cross that wrapped around the Chapel walls. I didn’t know the story, but found myself on many occasions in tears as I contemplated the carvings.

At age eleven I was devastated to learn that I couldn’t remain at Loreto, as I was not Roman Catholic. My parents enrolled me instead in St Albans High School for Girls, a Church of England school. Sadly, the divinity mistress discounted the truth of the miracle stories --and indeed much of the Bible. I believed these stories to be true but was ridiculed for those beliefs. But God provided another means for his Word to reach his children. The art teacher read stories from the Bible and asked us to the paint them. (I still have two paintings in my office today that remind me of the faithfulness of this woman. What an impact such a witness can have on a life!)

By the time I was twelve or thirteen my peers started attending confirmation classes. After they were confirmed they were able to receive Holy Communion at the high altar in St Albans’ Cathedral nearby. I desperately wanted to be able to receive Holy Communion but couldn’t because I wasn't baptized and confirmed.

In my early twenties I went to live and work in Paris. While there I was often drawn to churches where I could sit, be quiet and feel safe. When I was 26 I met Pat. Six months later we were married – in a church in a small hamlet in Cornwall. I was still not baptized.

Later, we moved to Miami, Florida. George was born when I was 29 and Katarina when I was 32. It was about then that a neighbor began asking me to go to church with her. It was a very gentle and persistent invitation. There was a stirring in my heart, but also fear. What would people think of me? After all, we’d been living here for quite some time, and I hadn’t attended church. I didn’t fully understand what Christianity was all about. However, I yearned to get back into a church. Eventually on the Easter of my 33rd year, I stepped back inside a church again – and felt like I had come home. Five weeks later on the Feast of Pentecost I was baptized together with my children, and I was confirmed. At last I was able to receive Holy Communion for the first time. What joy!

About a month later my neighbor seemed to have changed – she was more peaceful, more joyful, more serene. I asked her if something had happened. She said, “I have asked Jesus to be Lord of my life.” I still didn’t really know what Christianity was all about since I had no classes prior to being baptized or confirmed. Truth be told, I didn’t even know if I believed that Jesus was anything more than a great human prophet! But I knew I wanted what Carrie had –so I sat down in what was to become my prayer chair. Here I gave this most pitiful invitation, “Jesus, if you are really real, will you come into my life.”

Our most gracious Lord does not seem to care about how he is invited in – only that we do so! A deep-seated peace and a sense of being deeply loved descended upon me. This thankful pilgrim’s journey continues “further in and higher up.”[1] How grateful I am for the faithfulness of a friend who never tired of extending an invitation, and to our Lord who never stops pursuing his lost children.

[1] CS Lewis – The Last Battle

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Where Two or More of You are Gathered in My Name...

Dede Eshleman
My mother suffers from short-term memory loss. This condition is not surprising as her own mother developed age onset dementia in her late 70s. So we were prepared when we noticed similar symptoms in my mom. Even so, coping with this condition is painful and frustrating for her and her loved ones. Thankfully, she now lives with my brother who cares for her. As my sister deals with the difficulties of mom's condition, she wonders if she will inherit this disease. She even told me, "If I don't know whether they are there or not..." and implied that it wouldn't really matter too much. I agreed with her sentiment...and then a beautiful thing happened that has me thinking differently.

My mom woke up around 11:30 pm on January 1st after having slept about 2 hours. I was reading in the living room at her house, with my 7 year old daughter asleep on the couch. When she came out of her bedroom, I asked, "Is everything okay, Mom?" She stated simply, "Daddy died."

"I know, Mom."

She continued, in that hurry-up voice of hers, "We have to get ready, they're coming."

"Okay, Mom," I said as I stood and walked toward her.

Then I did the only thing that seemed logical at the time. My mom wanted to get ready. Someone was coming. It was important to her to be ready when they arrived. She was scared and anxious, and she knew she needed to get ready. So together we went through the steps of getting ready: brushed her teeth, washed her face, brushed her hair, changed her into slacks and a pretty top, and put on her shoes. Then we sat on the couch to wait.

Then I held up a mirror to her actions and her feelings. I said, "Daddy died. You know you have things to do. You have to go to the hospital. You have things to take care of."

After nodding her head to all of these statements, she said, "Yes, I wish they would hurry up! Get here already."

"Yes, it is hard to wait. I hate waiting too." After waiting a bit longer I added, "Mom, I don't think anyone is going to come tonight. They aren't going to come tonight, because all those things that are important to do, you have already done them. Daddy died when Mary was a little girl. Look at her on the couch, she's pretty big now. When daddy died, you went to the hospital. We all did. You did all the things that needed to be done. We don't have to go and do those things now, because you already did them. Tonight we can just sit here, and we can tell stories about Daddy."

Once again, I held up a mirror to the feelings I guessed she was having. "You feel lonely without Daddy." She nodded her head and held my hand as I cried because I felt lonely without Daddy, too.

Then she added, "and empty and dead inside."

"Yeah," I said, "and empty. And you feel dead on the inside, but you're still living. And you're a little bit mad about that."

She nodded her head again.

"Yeah," I said. After a few minutes of looking out the window together, I said, "I'm glad you're alive, though, because I get to sit here with you and talk and remember how much Daddy loved all of us and how much we loved him." And as she nodded her head and squeezed my hand, somewhere in the middle of all this, I knew I was connected to my mom again even though she had this short term memory loss crap that gets in the way of everything.

My mom knew who she was. She knew she'd loved and had lost her love. In those moments she knew she loved her children. She talked about all of us by name and knew that we all loved her. She knew she loved the tearful me sitting next to her, and the kid sprawled out over there on the other couch.

After awhile I asked if she wanted to go back to bed, and she said, "Yeah, I do, I'm tired." After she was back in bed, glasses on her bedside table, I went back to the couch and my book and cried. Cried silent, deep, peaceful, happy-sad tears.

In the middle of her loneliness, in the middle of her emptiness, in the middle of that dead feeling inside her, we had connected again, we two. And Jesus' words floated in my head, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I will be in the midst of them." In the middle of the hurt and pain, we both had experienced God's healing presence...enough to rest in a peaceful sleep...enough to move on.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Lord’s Joy

Louise Field
My longtime friend Roz, who lives in Illinois, was diagnosed three years ago with stage 4 lung cancer and also with a brain tumor. The brain tumor was removed with gamma knife surgery and hasn’t returned. The lung cancer was more difficult to deal with, so medical treatments continued. A large group of people were praying for her.

Several months ago while in my home in Florida, I was in meditative prayer for Roz. As I was praying, I felt a great joy pouring over me. It was very sudden and wonderful.

Shortly after this event I received her good news via e-mail. The medical report showed the cancer in one lung was gone, and the lesion in the other lung was miniscule.

Wanting to tell Roz in person about the joy I had received during my prayer for her, I waited a month when I saw her at a reunion of college friends in Memphis. I then related the joyful experience to Roz. She too was overcome. The spiritual joy we both felt not only gave us the assurance of the Lord’s blessing but also the consolation of hope.

Thanks be to God!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Last Good-Bye

Barbara Rawls
A week had passed since my husband's memorial service. Family members and friends had returned home. Elisa, my youngest child, was at work, and I was alone in the house. It was very quiet as I sat down before a stack of bills. "Where do I begin," I wondered. Most of the bills from Bill’s hospital stay needed to be sorted and submitted to the insurance company for payment. As I sat reflecting on the events of the past month, I felt very alone. Losing my husband so quickly and without warning hadn’t given me any time to prepare for this big change…there would certainly be plenty of time now.

The house was silent, and I brought my attention back to the task at hand. The scent of bay rum suddenly filled my nostrils, and I felt another presence in the room. I turned around and a feeling of warmth and peace swept over me. There was no visible sign, but I knew that Bill was comforting me; no one else I knew wore bay rum aftershave lotion.

It was Bill’s last good-bye. I thank God for this comforting experience.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Suffering and Perseverance

Lillian Williams-Petersen
In February 2012, during a routine check-up it was discovered that my husband Randolph (Pete) had a serious heart condition. The doctor was amazed that he was walking around considering the seriousness of his condition. Test after test (including a halter monitor) concluded that he needed a pacemaker as soon as possible.

Three weeks after the pacemaker was implanted, an infection was detected at the implant site. After 2 weeks of treatment the site was not healing. A decision was made to remove the pacemaker and implant another on the opposite side of Randolph's chest. Once again, his body rejected the pacemaker. In fact, he had three more pacemakers implanted. Each time the same reaction occurred.

After one implantation my husband spent 29 days in the hospital and was under the care of his primary care physician. A consultation team from St. Jude’s and the Mayo Clinic consisting of a cardiologist, infectious disease specialist, and an allergist put their minds together to try to figure out his problem.

At one point his cardiologist said to me that only God knows what to do and that he had asked God to intervene. I told him that I know that the Lord is here with us in this situation. Throughout this ordeal, the effectual and fervent prayers of the righteous availeth much.

Rev'd Sarah, our priest at Good Shepherd, was there with her prayers and support even did research online regarding similar cases. We appreciated her genuine consistent concern. She came to the hospital to give Randolph the Eucharist and presented us with a pamphlet of prayers for the sick. This served as a guide for my and Pete’s prayers each day. We read these prayers together daily.

Finally the team of doctors decided that perhaps Pete was allergic to the materials used in the tubing connecting the pacemaker to his heart. One made of another substance was used--- that solved the problem!

Eventually Pete was released and is now doing very well.

All the praise, honor and glory belong to the Lord our God, maker of heaven and earth.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sister Visits

Beverly Lassiter
On February 10, 2013, I lost my kind, gentle sister, Jennean. She was the second eldest of the five girls known in our community as the "five Pellett Sisters.” (We lost our oldest sister, Barbara, in 1998.)

Jennean was diagnosed last May with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It was time for a "sister visit", so off went the three of us to Dallas just as she was being released from assisted care. We picked her up, and checked into our hotel room. During the week of our visit, we managed to pursue many of our favorite sister activities. On reflection, this time together is so very precious for we did not know that it would be our last. Why did I not recognize His gift to us?

Jennean received chemotherapy throughout the summer months to keep the cancer in check. However, in November much to the surprise of her oncologist, a tumor was detected in her throat. The mass was removed. Tests indicated the cancer had not moved to other parts of her body. She then began her second series of chemo treatment in December as a safety measure. However, the therapy was discontinued during her second treatment due to her compromised condition. More time was needed to rebuild her strength.

By the end of December, we decided it was time to plan a surprise “sister visit"--- this time to celebrate her birthday on February 4.

On January 17, Jennean had to return to the hospital. We talked to her many times while she was hospitalized but managed to keep our visit a secret.

On February 1, we sisters arrived in Dallas and went straight to the hospital. As we approached the room, we encountered her doctor. He gave us an update on her situation. He told us that they still did not know the reason for her deteriorating condition, but confirmed emphatically that it was not the cancer. He said it might be some type of infection and was still running tests to determine the cause.

As we entered her room, we could see Jennean’s sweet face light up, but she was much too weak to speak. That night we had the chance to hug her, to feed her, and to talk to her about trivial sister things and family news. She knew we were there to celebrate her birthday, and we stayed late into the night.

By the time we arrived the following morning, our sweet sister had slipped into a coma, never to return. We laid her to rest on February 15.

The weeks following were a blur of emotion. Then at a church service one Sunday Rev’d Sarah made an announcement. She was encouraging members to share a personal experience in their life that magnifies the living Lord. It made me stop and think. I suddenly realized that God’s amazing grace had been bestowed upon my family ---not once, but twice as we made our "sister visits." He had given us the miraculous blessing of being able to say goodbye one last time.

Often times when you are in the midst of losing a loved one, it is hard to get past the emotions of sadness to recognize the gentle hand of the Lord at work.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Seeing with God’s Eyes

Betsy Fulmer
As adoptive parents, we were sure that our daughter would be a blue ribbon winner--perfect in every way. Little did we know when we adopted Eden as an infant that God was giving us a special gift. It took us quite a bit of time to overcome our disappointment and frustration and finally to see the joy of the gift.

Eden reminds us to “see with God’s eyes.” When she enters a room, she connects with people and makes each moment a bright spot in everyone’s day. It started early and continues. As a youngster about age three or four, we took Eden along with us to donate extra jackets and blankets to a temporary homeless shelter. Donations were accepted at one end of a large warehouse. Our daughter escaped from us and ran to where men were resting on blankets on the warehouse floor. She went from person to person and hugged and kissed each one. We watched from a distance and then others gathered to watch her. We could only see the dirt, the grime, the unshaven faces and the stench. She saw with God’s eyes. She saw people in need of love. The coordinator for the homeless program said Eden’s hugs were warmer than all the blankets that had been donated.

Eden loves to collect tourist brochures from pamphlet racks. The rule is that she may take only one from the rack. Her grandmother had taken Eden and another teenager to Disney. Throughout the day Eden had accumulated a fist full of brochures. The other teen asked why she had so many. Eden replied that they were for her friends. The girl tried to put her down saying, “Well, how many friends do you have?” Her implication was how can a mentally challenged youngster possibly have any friends. Eden stopped and thought. She didn’t perceive the putdown and answered, “More than I can count.” Because Eden sees goodness, she has more friends than anyone can count.

Although Eden has had numerous orthopedic surgeries, a cornea transplant for keratoconus, and the mental impairment of Fragile X Syndrome, Eden sees life with God’s eyes. She doesn’t question her afflictions; she sees God's blessings in her life.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Faith Journey

Herman S. Allman
When I reflect on my past 70+ years, I see what has collectively been a force in my recognizing the growth in my faith. I have not had a “sudden” experience, as some have had, where I came face to face with the reality that God is supreme and is the ruler of my life, whether I want Him to be or not.

In my early years while attending church I remember memorizing Bible verses and was able to locate the various books of the Bible with little difficulty. I remember becoming a Christian and joining the church at age thirteen, but I read my Bible sporadically.

By the time I was married, I didn’t remember as many Bible verses, and I struggled to find books of the Bible with ease. When I married, I joined my wife's church. I had never heard of the Apocrypha, especially Ecclesiasticus (I just thought Ecclesiastes had been misspelled). My wife and I would read “Forward Day By Day” everyday (and still do) and would then search out the daily Bible readings listed after each reading. But, I was a skimmer when I read; not reading with understanding of what it meant. On Sundays I didn’t bother to read the Scriptures at all, because we would do that at church.

Then, a little over four years ago, we moved to be near our daughter so she wouldn’t have to travel to help take care of us in our old age. We began attending her church. It was while going there that the senior, lead, and teaching pastor, challenged the congregation, at the end of his sermon, “to be in the Word of the Lord, every day”. So in addition to reading “Forward Day by Day”, my wife and I began using the aid of a universal “Read the Bible in One Year Schedule” which resulted in our reading the Bible in its entirety that year.

That challenge “to be in the Word of the Lord” has made me more aware of God, others, and the world. Furthermore, it led me, along with my wife, to be more involved in our church life by working at a street mission one day a week. This was a part of a Life Group (Bible Study) and working with a Care Ministry in our Church called “New Commandment Ministry”. Now it is not so much being in the Word of the Lord, but being of the Word of the Lord.

We are now in our fourth year of “being in the Word". We read the Bible daily, even when we go on vacation, whether in our RV or flying to another part of the world or on a cruise. The Bible and our devotionals are with us every day. No longer am I a "skimmer", but I read with intent to understand what God is saying to me. Each morning between 4 and 6 a.m. is my time to pray, read, and reflect on what God wants me to do to magnify and amplify, as well as to glorify His name that day.

Monday, May 6, 2013

If One But Listens

Pam Allman
As a child, I always attended the all-faiths services on the naval bases where my father was stationed.  However, at the age of eleven my mother decided to have me baptized and confirmed into one denomination.  In that church I came to love the beauty and order of the service as well as the quiet solemnity of the prayers.  I would say that I have always had a faith in God, the Trinity, but sometimes I would wonder just how strong my faith was.

Recently, after a move, I began attending a church that challenges its people to “be in the Bible” every day.  In these last four years my husband and I have followed a Bible-reading schedule that results in the whole Bible being read each year.  Doing this has opened my eyes and re-directed my thinking. I have to admit that I must have slept through years of Bible study, because I am now seeing, with “new eyes,” a God who is real and close and familial.  The five pastors in my present church each have their own way of presenting a sermon.   They are most human and encourage us through word and deed.  Hearing powerful sermons based on the Bible that include history and text, living experiences, and non-biblical references have also helped. In plain language, even the densest person “can get it” if he or she but listens.  

Years ago a Bible study leader once asked our class, “Would you know Christ if He came today?” I remember, quite clearly, my answer: “There are so many false prophets today, I’m not sure I would.” Well, I am here to tell you that my faith has grown so that I now can say, without a doubt, “I am His child and, of course, I will know His voice!” Like Mary at the empty tomb, it will only take His calling my name.

It has been a "God-thing" for me to have received this “extra tutoring”. It has opened my eyes and ears to the words of His promise and the comfort of His presence.

Thanks be to God!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

God's Guidance

Barbara Masters
I have always had a sincere belief in God’s existence but, probably because of my early religious up-bringing, saw Him as being distant, powerful, demanding obedience, and far-removed from the day-to-day interaction with me or others.  This ideology caused me to be skeptical when someone would talk of God’s help or healing.   I wanted to embrace this belief in His involvement and compassion, but the concept was foreign to me. It is a path of acceptance I still travel.  However, God sent an angel to help me on this journey. 

The first instance in which I began to truly believe in God's interaction in our lives happened about 8 years ago.
That was when my husband, Hal, and I divorced.  My daughter (then aged 18) and my son (then aged 22) had continued to have a close relationship and regular contact with their dad who lived nearby. 

One weekend Brian and his dad went fishing.  As part of their idle conversations Hal talked in detail about his financial holdings and future plans as well as his funeral preferences.  That following week Hal died from a massive heart attack.  He had just turned 47 years old and was thought to have been in good health.

I know God’s angel was with Hal and my son in the boat that day.  I believe it was God’s way of saying that something horrific was going to be happening soon, but here is the solace I can give you.  While Hal’s sudden death was so numbing and sorrowful, I remember the immense peace it brought my son knowing the exact memorial/burial service he wanted. 

Awareness of his dad’s financial situation and wishes was also a blessing in the following months as Brian was involved in all the legal procedures that follow a loved one’s death.  Since Brian knew the financial plans his father was expecting to carry out, Brian worked out a solution to accomplish them. It was a costly decision, but both children agreed it was the right thing to do.  It was a wonderfully unselfish way to honor their father’s wishes. Had the fishing trip conversation not occurred, that particular situation would have been very difficult for the children to resolve.
I was so very grateful that Hal was led to share with Brian that day.  What a great gift Hal, through God’s caring, was able to give his children! 

This was the first time I ever truly believed in God’s active participation.  This experience then allowed me to give credence to others’ stories of Divine intervention. This was a huge leap of faith for me as I began to acknowledge God’s presence in everyday life.

Since that time I see His hand in my life in so many ways and keep reminding myself that God is guiding me so I just need to sit back and pay attention.  Giving Him control releases my burden.  I have to wonder at His patience as I grab the reins back time after time. 
Now, as I stumble through life, I can only imagine what the angels must be saying...
“It’s her again.  You help her."
"No, I just went.  It’s your turn.
"Aw, geez."

Knowing Him as a loving and caring God and not a detached, aloof Being is such a relief.  I now allow Him to provide me with much-needed strength and peace. I say allow because He has always been there, waiting for me to accept His grace and glory. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Discarded Treasures

Joy Sutton
One of my hobbies is going to garage sales.  I like exploring to see if there are any treasures in what others discard.  I'd like to tell you about two of my adventures.

While heading home in the car one day, I spied a trash pile along the roadside that contained an item that caught my eye.  "Yard art piece, maybe?" I thought.  I stopped.  It was the last hour of a garage/estate sale.  Pieces not sold were being put out on the curb to be hauled away.

I struck up a conversation with Alice, the lady holding the sale, and learned that this home had experienced a tragedy.  The house was owned by her brother, who was now in jail.  His wife and son had fled to Australia, where she was from, to escape an abusive marriage.  Alice said she had flown in from Wisconsin just for the weekend to have the sale and to clear out her brother's house.  All things had to go.  She gladly let me take the piece of  "yard art" from the curb.  Living nearby, I told her I would come back soon.
I hurried home to get my hubby and return.  We gave the lady $20 for a few other items we wanted.  She offered us anything else we wanted at no additional charge.  It was during this hunt that I saw a Women of Faith Study Bible (NIV version). 

In my 55 years of life I had never really been a Bible reader.  The scripture I had received came from church services.  In the past whenever I had tried to read a Bible, I had found too many words on each page and many of them were not easy for me to understand.  I wasn't drawn to continue reading.

On this day, however, I saw a Bible that was reader-friendly.  On each page there was one column of well-spaced scripture with easy to read wording and an explanation sidebar.  There were also many informative pages at the back such as a glossary and atlas.  I thought, perhaps, this would be a good one to try. 

Now I have been reading from this Bible daily for years.  How fortunate that God provided this occasion to put it into my hands!  Reading it has brought me so much closer in my walk with the Lord. I pray that the woman who left the Bible behind has found refuge for herself and her son back home in Australia.  I pray also that though she may have had to leave her Bible behind, her faith has travelled with her.  Her loss has become my gain.

My other adventure was on a Sunday afternoon walk with my dog. I came upon another garage sale.  I looked over all the items, but was not particularly interested in anything.  However, a set of four videos titled "Matthew: The Visual Bible" did catch my eye.  My first thought was that I had only 95 cents in my pocket, and that would not be enough to buy it.  Then I changed my mind.  "All the seller can say is no."  Hesitantly, I asked the man holding the sale if he would be willing to take my 95 cents for the set.   He did. 
The dialogue on this set of videos is word-for-word scripture from the NIV version of the Bible.  The actor portraying Jesus is outstanding.  After watching the videos, I wanted so much to be able to share them with others that I then bought a DVD copy of the set. Since then my husband Jim and I have shared "Matthew" during Lenten evening services at Good Shepherd, as well as with our other home church in North Carolina.  I have also been able to lend it to friends. 

These two adventures just go to show...You never know when you start your day where your journey will lead you.  My fondness for garage sales actually led me further along my faith journey.  In fact, I was able to find precious treasures amongst the discards. His mysterious ways!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Chance Meeting?

Keith Anderson
I was having an extremely low day.  Betty, my dear wife of fifty-four years, had recently passed away, and I was missing her.  Suddenly the phone rang. My son Matt called from work to ask me to go to his house and check on a strange car parked in front of his home.  At the time they had a family temporarily staying with them.  The lady had called Matt about the car and was so concerned she did not want to get in her car to go to work. I told Matt that I'd see about the car.

I delayed leaving, however, since I had to search for my keys.   Once I got there and parked my truck, I walked up to the car.  The driver put down his window.  He flashed a badge and said he was spotting a house around the corner.  I told him he had scared the lady inside the house so badly that she was afraid to leave for work.  He told me that the lady had already gotten in her car and left.  I thought to myself, "This is a waste of time."

Soon after leaving I came to a nearby stop sign.  I noticed a bike coming up the hill.  As I started out I realized it was Dr. Oliver, my dentist who is a friend of ours.   Once I turned the corner, Oliver pulled up beside me.  He asked how I was doing.  I told him not too good.  He knew about Betty's passing.  He said, "You have to let her go.  I'm not telling you to forget Betty.  Rather, I am saying let God bring peace into your heart."  He went on to say," I believe this meeting was arranged by God.  I had you on my heart this morning."  When I looked at him, suddenly the peace of the Lord swept over me.  With that we parted.

About an hour later, Oliver called from work.  He said, "I just had to tell you.  I never ride my bike up that steep hill where we met this morning.  Our meeting had to be perfectly timed.  I've left a patient sitting in the chair with her mouth open, but felt I must call and tell you this."

As I look back on it, I think everything had to take place in that sequence, or we would not have met that morning.  Rarely have I ever been at that corner where we met either.  I thank the Lord for the peace that is still with me.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Blessed Assurance

Jim Sutton
As I approached my 70th birthday, I began to have thoughts about the fact that my life was entering its latter stages.  I started to become much more aware of my mortality.  I didn’t consciously dwell on my new awareness, but the issue did remain in the back of my mind. 

One Sunday I was listening to Rev'd Sarah’s sermon at the 10:30 am service.  I was looking up at the altar and the cross on the wall behind it when a stream of bright light appeared.  The light didn’t come directly at me but it seemed to go off toward the left side of the altar area.  At the same time I saw the light, I felt a warm and reassuring sensation.  The light and warmth lasted only a moment.  I didn’t know what to make of this experience immediately, but after thinking about this incident for a few days I realized that God was telling me it was going to be OK.

I had read about signs from the Lord, and through Joy’s work on Magnify the Living Lord, I was aware of similar events that had occurred to others in the Good Shepherd family.  However, I always remained a bit skeptical about such things.  Now it has happened to me!  Thanks be to God!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Being Mindful of God's Blessings

Joan Schultz
On January 6, 2011, I had a severe fall on the patio of our townhouse.  My left femur was fractured in multiple places, and my left foot was badly twisted.  I laid several minutes on the cold concrete calling for help.  From the way in which I had fallen, I was amazed that my head had not been hurt, nor was my right side.  I landed beside the patio gate beside my Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow plant.  As I was falling, I felt as though cupped hands were guiding my head to the concrete.

A few years earlier I had purchased this plant because of its beauty and the unique way it blooms.  When a bloom first opens, it is a deep purple; the next day it turns to lavender; and the third day it changes to white with brown spots.

Sometime I made a connection between what happens to each bloom and a verse from scripture.  Hebrews 13:8 states "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and today and tomorrow."  

After the surgery to repair the damage done to my leg I had to spend many weeks in a rehab facility.  Once I was able to return home, it was many weeks before I got over my fear of using my walker to go near the place on the patio where the accident took place. 

Now it is the winter of 2013 in Florida.   The weather is warm and plants are blooming about six weeks earlier than usual.  Recently I have made another connection having to do with this plant, which I now call my Jesus plant because of the earlier connection I had made with that scripture. Now each time I go out through patio gate I am inspired and refreshed as I pass by this beautifully blooming bush that God used to help me.  Seeing this plant lifts my spirit each day.
What I have written about tells how God has communicated with me through His word and His creation.  There have been countless times in my life when He has boosted my spirit by revealing Himself to me in such ways.