Such A Beautiful Creation!

He was so tiny and fragile.  I wanted to stroke him, but concerned it would cause him much fear.  Thus, I held him gently, enamored with his beauty and speaking softly as though he understood every word I uttered. This would probably be the first, last and only time I would hold such a creature, feeling the warmth of his body against my hand. I couldn’t stop crying for I didn’t want this magnificent gift from God to die in my hands. He blinked softly as I stared into his exquisite little face.

I stood in my kitchen only minutes earlier when I heard him hit my window hard. I looked out to see his lifeless, splayed body on the walk beneath the window. I couldn’t stop the tears. “Oh no, God, no, please don’t let him die,” I screeched.  I ran to grab a towel and dash outdoors to pick up this helpless, little life.

Pictures, calendars and countless quotes have paid tribute to these creatures. Now, he was in my hands, not uttering a sound, not trying to leave. I imagined he was thinking, “what was this “being” going to do, after quickly picking me up after I fell?”  Bringing him indoors, I made numerous telephone calls to do whatever to save this precious little boy’s life. My initial telephone call was to the Oklahoma Wildlife Department, but with it being a Saturday afternoon, the office was closed. I frantically began telephoning local veterinarians, sobbing as I told them what happened; but also, fearful his legs were broken or worse.

One of the veterinarians instructed me where I could receive help.  I told the Edmond animal shelter of the beautiful cardinal I held wrapped in a towel, praying he was alright. What a relief that this cherished cardinal was most probably stunned. I had to chuckle when the voice on the telephone noted, “sometimes they hit the windows so hard, they are knocked silly and it may take him 15-20 minutes to regain his strength and fly away.”

Yes, his little eyes continued to blink, so I gently took him outdoors and bending down on the lawn, carefully unwrapped the towel. What a joy! Little boy cardinal flew away. After releasing him, I researched the life of cardinals, especially since he was so small.  My research made him even more beloved to me. The males receive their full coat of red feathers at age one, so I felt certain he was a young male. Cardinals mate for life and remain in the area. Could this be the son of the parents whom I so lovingly watched build a nest and give life to their little fledglings by my office window?

Just as I carefully picked this creature up to be certain he would survive, I thought of the many times we fall and God picks us up, wrapping us in His blanket of love. He makes certain we are okay and that we will “fly away” to fulfill His plans for our lives. Matthew 6:26 NIV, “look at the birds of the air; they do not reap or store away in bars, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

It’s Time To Leave

“So here I am to worship; Here I am to bow down; Here I am to say that You’re my God.”  These were the words from this song that touched my heart and lips today, as God was filling my “blessing basket.”

Most, if not all of us have experienced living in God’s waiting room.  Faith, trust and patience are the elements to success when in the “waiting room.” For most of us, the majority of our lives are spent there. As I have shared in previous blogs some of the situations I was encountering while waiting, were difficult.

  Over these past several years, while in God’s waiting room, there have been many patients; disappointment, heartache, confusion and necessity. Yet, I knew God was taking care of each, so I had no desire to cling to them, but only to allow God to dismiss them when He knew each was ready to leave.

 Yesterday as I walked out of church, I received a telephone call which literally caused me to sit in my car in the church parking lot, thanking God that it appears one component of a long wait will be lifted. God has not yet released this patient, but I’m at peace while awaiting.

Then today, a patient was removed from the waiting room.  Ms. “Need To” was something that I didn’t want to give up, but “needed to”; a tangible item which I needed to clear away for whatever God has for me in my life. Ms. “Need To” had been around for a couple of years, as I continued to pray for her departure. Yet, God said, not yet, just leave Ms. “Need To” here with me. Today she left.

 While Ms. “Need To” was leaving, I received a telephone call which brought many of the patients in the waiting room to a new room. God began writing my life’s story decades ago. Then several years ago, with God’s blessings, I began scribing my story to share with others-the story of His grace, love and strength for me. I was in God’s waiting room, as I wrote, prayed and sought an editor. The book was completed and I prayed while awaiting a publisher. Today while standing with Ms. “Need To” to depart, a joy filled my heart to realize my book has been accepted to be published.

 When I learned that approximately two-thirds of all submitted books are rejected, I thanked God for allowing mine to be chosen as a testimony to Him.  I remain in the waiting room regarding the telephone call yesterday and now as I watch God’s story of my life brought forth in print. Some of the patients will be leaving the waiting room, but I will remain for as long as God desires. There will always be new patients joining me, but the “joy of the Lord” will remain. Philippians 4:4 NIV, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

The Trip Is Short

I sat quietly with only the soft sound of the humming, central heat while looking out my window to the dozens of trees laden with turning leaves, now shedding their lush shade to the ground below and thanked God for another day. God blessed me with a home with a “park like” back yard, filled with many of His creatures. Even if I hadn’t read the state’s department of transportation road sign, Pumpkin Spice is Nice. But Safe Driving Is Always in Season, the view outside my window gave me the clue fall had arrived.

This time of year, is especially endearing to me. Not only is it my favorite season, but a respite from the long, summer heat, which I have never enjoyed. I love the chill and crispness of the changing temperatures for I can always add another layer if the days or evenings are too cool. I delight in the aroma of the smoke-filled air from the neighbors’ fireplaces and the sound of the leaves as they “crunch” beneath my feet. I’m as gleeful as a child when sipping a cup of hot cinnamon cider or hot chocolate with marshmallows. 

As much as these traditional sights, sounds and rituals of fall is, realizing God is giving us yet again a time to “slow down” and be quiet. As I have shared for years, it seems when Labor Day arrives, the holidays are only weeks away. How rapidly our days and weeks pass. Before we realize it, the year has come and gone, validating the shortness of our lives.

As I was sitting alone, I was again thanking God for His love to me. So often as I’m chatting with God, I become emotional and tearful; filled with questions and wonder about my life.  I have often deliberated why God gives some persons so much joy and happiness while others seem to have sorrow from the day of their birth.  We all know those whom were born with severe physical, emotional or mental impairments, but their joy is beyond description.

The older I become, the more I realize that all of this will pass so quickly. When persons live to be eighty, ninety or even become a centurion, we say “they had a long life.” Yet, when we think about eternity, all of this time on earth is like the “blink of an eye.” 

I recently read a wonderful example of our short life by Muthender Velishala. In his blog he wrote about an elderly woman that was a passenger on a bus. “A grumpy young woman…sat down beside the woman, hitting her with her numerous bags…the old woman remained silent. The young woman asked why she (the older woman) had not complained…the trip is short”, the older woman had replied. Muthender gave many other examples of not being angry or unkind when situations in our lives occur. It is a reminder that our lives are short, but as Christians, we are looking to the day we are with the Lord.

Psalm 90:10 NIV “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”

Waving Truck!?

This was the entire message, “Black pickup going trick or treating who can’t be in the neighborhood!!! I yelled at them and they waved.” Wouldn’t an English teacher have a “heyday” with this note? No punctuation. Was the truck “trick or treating?” Was the truck waving?” Obviously, the truck could be in the neighborhood or the sender of the e-mail would not have been irritated. Why was the neighbor yelling at a truck? Were the occupants of the truck causing harm or injury to anyone or their residence? I feel quite certain the truck was transporting children desiring to have an enjoyable evening. I assume most reading the e-mail immediately realized the intent of the sender.

The neighbor sending the e-mail found the truck and its’ occupants to be an irritant to her. I too was annoyed, but more deeply saddened.  How did the sender know who owned the truck? Were the truck and its’ occupants friends or relatives of someone in the neighborhood? Living in a gated community does not preclude others from visiting. The truck was obviously transporting young and innocent children out for an enjoyable evening with other children. For me the exasperation from such an insensitive person brought vivid memories of my own childhood.

My siblings and I were most often the “outcast or outsider” children. We were reared in a poor home-often the poorest in our neighborhood. For one day per year, we could “be one of the gang.” Even though we didn’t have the fancy costumes handsewn or purchased at the local store. We designed our own costumes from what we could obtain in our home. We didn’t have fancy little Halloween pails or monogramed bags, but recycled and often tattered, brown paper bags. Yet, when we walked out of our door to join the other children, we “blended in.”  For one day a year, we were just like the others.

We delighted in receiving treats which were unbeknownst to us for the remainder of the year. Occasionally, we would “trick or treat” in the “good” neighborhoods-the ones known for handing out the “best” treats. For one night a year, the community opened their doors to the children of our community. Regardless of their ethnicity, race, address or financial status, they were just “one of the many.”

As I read the e-mail from this neighbor, I realized she most probably never was an “outsider” child. She might have been reared in an affluent home, never realizing that times such as “trick or treat” provided children with “nothing”, to have “something.” They were not mocked for being on the “other side of town”- for in costume and walking with the other children one could not distinguish the “haves” among the “have nots.”

How blessed it is that Jesus wanted all the children to be accepted. It didn’t matter where they lived or the profession of their parents, they were welcomed into all the neighborhoods. Jesus loved them all.  Matthew 18:5 NIV “And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

So Great To Be So Small

 I placed the items in the Christmas shoebox.  It has been several years since I filled a box for a needy child; a child that will be thrilled with the necessities of personal hygiene and perhaps a few tiny toys or clothes, stuffed into a small box. I thought of my own children and grandchildren when they were young and the gifts they received. Often times they had so many gifts from relatives there was barely enough space in their car to transport all their gifts home.

I wondered about this little boy age two to four, the recipient of my gift(s). I would like to fill a huge box with large toys and lots of clothes, but they will receive one tiny box. I shopped carefully thinking about what would delight such a child. How could a toothbrush, soap or bandages possibly be exciting for any child? I tried to picture this little angel, wondering if he will receive anything for Christmas? Perhaps at his young age, his thoughts of survival are more important than whether or not he will receive a package for Christmas.

 What if this precious child has never had a toothbrush? What if this child has never had a new shirt or socks? Then the tears flowed, as I thought of this precious life that didn’t ask to come into the world and certainly didn’t ask to be born into a world of poverty?

I used to tell my children often that “if not for God”, they too could have been born poor, handicapped, to parents that were abusive or unloving or countless other situations, “but God.” If not for God’s love none of us would be reading this blog today. My daughter and her children packed shoeboxes for children for many years, allowing her children to select items which they would like if they were the recipients. The churches packing these boxes are given supply lists for each age of child. As I shared with another person also purchasing items for her child, it’s so difficult to purchase only items which will fit into one small box.

Unfortunately, my concern is like that of many parents and grandparents in our culture of “wants and desires.” We desire to fulfill the wishes for the children we love.  I had to realize that if the recipient of this box has basically nothing in his little life, anything he receives will be a blessing. Having worked with the homeless, both in my career and also as a volunteer, I have to realize that often times the smallest of gifts can be cherished as “pure gold” by these recipients.

More valuable than the minuscule gifts in the box, is the love the Christian staff gives these children and their families when these boxes are delivered. We all know at Christmas we truly celebrate the greatest gift ever received with the birth of our Lord Jesus.  The shoeboxes are one small token to these children of the love Jesus has for all of us. Romans 6:23 NKJ “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It Just Doesn’t Matter

For the past months in numerous devotions, the subject was waiting.  “Waiting” has been prevalent during Covid-19.  However, many of the devotions I’ve read were in books printed several years ago. It validates this topic is infinite. No matter our age, locale or status in life, we did, are now or will be waiting for someone or something in our lives.

As Christians we know there are times in our life when the waiting seems to be an eternity. To a young child a few minutes is “an eternity”. To the teen and young adult waiting to graduate from high school or college may seem “an eternity.” As adults our “eternity” can be days, weeks or months as we await our circumstances to change. What happens when the waiting turns into years? What is God telling us? Most of all, what do we do while we are waiting? Do we use this time to see what God is doing with us?

I have shared previously that as I’ve sat in prayer with one of our church staff pastors he queried, “but Jane, would you have been as close to God as you are now? I say without hesitation, “no.” During God’s waiting, He has given me opportunities and experiences I would never have had.  I’ve met individuals I would never have met.

The greatest joy over these last years of “waiting” has been the long, quiet and countless hours that it is only me and God; no angry voices, no confrontations, no distractions.  Such situations can be productive when presented in the right way, but when alone with God, He removes all of these to focus on Him.

 During God’s “waiting”, I have realized, what is done for God is the only thing which will endure. This topic was discussed again this week with women from one of my bible studies, when one of them said, “it just doesn’t matter. Life is short.”

Chuck Swindoll’s words reminded me our waiting which may seem like an eternity is merely seconds compared to our eternal life with God. “Rearing children. We hope…we wait. Standing alone. We hope…we wait. Life presses in, we get discouraged, we come close to quitting. In it all, we hope and wait for the promise of God. That He will be faithful. That He will deliver us and provide. In what or in whom is your hope? Are you waiting on life to change or are you learning to wait on Him?…Be still. Read and pray. He will stand by your side when you feel most alone. Wait…and hope.”

Today, I attended my Christian writer’s meeting which has recently resumed following Covid-19. Whereas, we previously had a room full of attendees, we were now small in number, but what a blessing to hear of how God has used all of us even though we were “waiting.” NKJ Isaiah 40:31 “But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”

Have We Been Blocked?

As I recently opened one of my social media pages, I was taken aback that over 1,500 people had replied to the opportunity to post their prayers for a Christian ministry to join them in prayer.  I was again reminded of the depths of despair people around the world are enduring.

James Banks states, “God moves through our prayers to accomplish great good in the lives of his people. One of the best ways to love others is to pray for them, because through our prayers we open the door to the help only God can provide.”

From the time I was a young girl, I understood my conversations with God were some of the most important of my life. Reared in a poor home to extremely abusive parents, my weekly attendance in Sunday School taught me Jesus would always hear what I had to say. I was in awe of this for I frequently desired to “talk to” my parents, but conversations were not a part of our family life. Innocent queries were almost answered with a beating. I knew God heard all my prayers, short or long, silly or serious.

Recently, there were some serious health concerns with family members. I reached out to fifteen persons whom I believed would join me in praying for these sincere needs. Three were other family members and the remaining twelve were some of the church staff or fellow church and bible study members. Not one person acknowledged my plea to join me in prayer.

Over the years, hundreds of times I’ve been asked to pray for another. Often, I would jot down the name and request and add that person to my daily prayer list. Chuck Swindoll shares, “talking to the apostles…I think they’d emphasize an oft-spoken discipline-but one rarely deployed in our lives: praying for others.”

Chuck also says, “Prayer is one of the deepest subjects we can study. We’ve heard it said that we never stand taller than when we kneel before God. But what actually happens when we offer our prayers and petitions to God?” Do we ever feel as though He has “blocked us” from His prayer list?

Sometimes we pray so long, so earnestly and so diligently that we have become weary from praying. I have serious situations in my life which I prayed over forty-four years and God said, “no.” Another, I’ve been praying for over two and a half years and God has said no. Other serious prayers are twenty six years, one eight years and another almost six.  I’m still waiting. I have to accept His ultimate answer may be “no”, but when it comes to talking to God, unlike people that walk away from us and choose not to hear us, God never gives up. He hears every word. I love Max Lucado’s words on prayer, “prayer is the hand of faith on the door handle of your heart.”

When talking to God, patience has to be one of our strongest virtues. Psalm 27:14 NKJ, “Wait on the Lord, Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart…”

Created For Us

Garbage in, garbage out! What we eat, drink, think, read, watch and surround ourselves with often reflects the person we are. With the current events of our lives and the world, it is difficult to always have positive output, but it is possible.

For several years, I never went to bed without watching some, if not all of the national news.  As it became saturated with only politics and Covid-19, I now seldom watch the news. I happened to turn the news on last week when I learned of a tragedy which had touched the hearts and lives of a local family. I not only stopped and prayed for the family, but asked prayer for them on Facebook.

Oh Facebook! That is a story in and unto itself, isn’t it? For years I had no interest or desire to be on Facebook.  Then like millions of others, I succumbed to being “one of the mass.” As with the news, Facebook can be uplifting or discouraging. It’s the posts we choose to read which allow our feedback to be productive or detrimental.

Like all of you readers, I have my morning routine. Before I begin my day,  I prefer to have my quiet time with the Lord; reading my devotions and bible and THEN it is time for “the latest.” What’s happening on Facebook? Most days I have no comments or inquiries directed to me, so I quickly scan the “home page”, those events or posts which are public for all to read.

Today was a joy! What a change, what a blessing from the on-going political arguments and negative posts! The first enlightening narrative I read was from the perspective of a veterinarian to his or her patient and their family. For those families whom are privileged to remain in one community for the duration of their pet’s life, their “fur baby Doc” is akin to a family physician. The commentary I read today was written as though the veternarian knew that “fur baby” from birth through death.

“Doc” spoke of the family brining the bundle of joy into the clinic for the initial examination. Like human babies, those little ones need their vaccines. Throughout their lives, “fur babies” may have injuries or “ouchies” while “Doc” will be there to intercede in the healing.  “Doc” will laugh and cry with the family as their little one grows, matures and ages. Like humans, the aged “fur babies” also have ailments and conditions which make life more challenging.

The ultimate sorrow for not only the family, but the veternarian is the loss of that precious “baby.” As “Doc” noted, often these little angels from God have been with us for fifteen years or longer. As the author noted, when the grieving and crying families leave the room, how often the “Doc” sobs over the life of that precious pet.

I know God created these angels to make our lives richer, but how very sorrowful we all are when we must bid them good-bye. What I had to tell myself over the loss of my precious fur babies is that they enriched my life while here and I was also able to do likewise for them. Ecclesiastes 3:2 NKJ, “ a time to be born, and a time to die…”

In memory of my fur babies: Mo, a feline that took up residence on our deck, while my children were young and remained with us for over eighteen years, Indy, my beautiful Sheltie, a Christmas gift from my then husband, Charles. Indy blessed my life for over fourteen years. My last “fur baby angel”, also a Christmas gift from Charles, Boomer, a Bichon Frise. Boomer was a certified therapy dog for almost the duration of his life. He was a Therapy Dog International at age one and we spent the remainder of his life bringing joy and smiles to others, until Boomer became ill and passed away at age ten. His time with me was far too short, but the joy he brought me and others was a blessing beyond description. I thank God often for the memories and blessings I had with those beautiful “fur babies.”

I Wasn’t Expecting You

It whispers, so softly we sometimes don’t hear it and we may not see it. Then it hums and we know it has arrived and we see its’ beauty.  It sings loudly to make its presence known and often brings a friend. Most often when it arrives, we welcome it, waiting weeks or perhaps months for the visit.

We may have felt its’ soft kisses on our hair and cheeks when we didn’t anticipate it, or at other times we tried to flee our friend before its’ arrival.  We may have willingly allowed it to fall upon us. Occasionally, we pray our friend will leave for it has lingered too long and its’ presence is bringing our world around us harm.

We may not have had our home ready or “baked the cake to greet it, but we are joyful to see our friend; rain.  Often rain holds hands with thunder, and it is more magnificent as together they proclaim God’s glory.  When the skies are dark, often our hearts are bright, for we have awaited rain’s arrival. Perhaps the summer has been hot and dry. What a magnificent day for its arrival, the first day of September, a reminder that a new season is ahead.

I chuckled when someone was sharing their child doesn’t  wash their car. They allow the rain to do the work. When it is going to rain, the car is driven to the “perfect spot” to have the job accomplished. I love rain for it reminds me of my own life.  When rain comes, it may wash away some of the dirt and debris from our lives, so we can be refreshed.

There are barren and scorching times of life when a cool rain rejuvenates us. No matter how often we water our plants and lawn, they are never as nourished as when God brings us steady, lingering rain. It is more encompassing. God’s rain includes all in its path.

Occasionally some may plead with God to end the rain. It has lingered too long and is causing destruction to the very life it is touching. Living among wheat farms for several years, I understood the devastation and destruction of too much rain. As with the flowers and plants we grow, with too much water,  they will rot and “fall away”, but God is controlling the flow.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could set the rain as we do our timed sprinkling systems? We choose the day, time and duration. Yet this is not God’s plan for our lives. Before the cool months are here, there will be more days of heat and if the rain chooses to delay its’ visit again, it will be dry. We always know it will return, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes with a loud song, hand in hand with thunder, but always in God’s time and remaining as long as God desires. Joel 2:23 NIV, “Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for He has given you the autumn rains because He is faithful…”

Silent Voices

I was  eager to return to church as it’s been over six months since I have attended a “live” service. I have been faithful to coffee/jammie church, but my church is now open for business “as usual” or is it? Where were the people? Where was the choir” Where was the orchestra? Where were the “how are you today’s?” I can talk to and worship God anywhere and anytime, but I was eager to return to church with my fellow members and worshipping together.

As I walked into the church, I realized the “good ole days” are gone for now. As I dashed into the ladies’ room to comb my wind-blown hair, there was a limit to the number of women allowed in the ladies’ room. I carefully opened the door to survey the space and see if it had reached its’ maximum of three. Oh yeah! There were only two, so I could enter.

As I walked into the sanctuary it was eerily quiet.  Routine conversation and greeting our fellow church members was muted. The choir consisted of ten to twelve people masked and scattered in the choir loft. The orchestra was void of most of the instruments. The organ was quiet.

This church is one of the largest of our denomination, in the state, yet today it appeared to be the size of a small, country church.  My family of four joined the church in the 1980s’ when our children were young.  When I became a “single, senior” over eight years ago, that changed my circle of friends at the church. Yet, this was a place where I always believed I could see familiar faces and be greeted with handshakes, hugs and warm smiles.

I realized the required masks and social distancing would eliminate the hugs, but was hopeful the “hidden smiles” would be revealed with the arched eyebrows which happens when one does smile. Yet, there were very few smiles. I saw two couples I knew and waved from a distance, but no hugs allowed. The congregation was void of fellow, single seniors, for we are in that “age group” and many are still attending “jammie church.” I felt as though I had entered a “couples only” church, as there were only three to four single persons in the entire congregation.

 Hymns were sung beneath the masks with praise to the Lord that is with us in the midst of all this “new normal.” The most important element of the church has not changed. Those of us that were in attendance were there to worship Him and to give Him the honor and glory for being with us. When the masks are removed and the virus is history, I trust none of us will ever forget what it was like to walk into a silent church. I trust we will greet one another with smiles and handshakes and thank our Lord for the times He quieted us, so all we heard was Him. Matthew 18:20 NKJ “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”