Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Christmas Singing

Another offering by Cindy Woodsmall proves to be an excellent choice if you enjoy Amish fiction. This book is a continuation of "The Sound of Sleigh Bells." It is the story of Mattie and Gideon, who broke up three years ago.

Mattie succeeds in business and finds a new beau, but her heart always remembers Gideon. As we learn about him, we discover that he broke up with Mattie to spare her the anguish of knowing he had been diagnosed with leukemia.

Now in remission, he seriously considers confessing to Mattie the reason for their breakup. Then, a fire takes Matties bakery shop down to the ground and she returns home to live with her mother while waiting for the the rebuiding of her shop. While at home, she comes across Gideon at every turn. But now she has to also consider the feelings of Sol, her new beau.

When Mattie discovers Gideon's reasoning for his deception, she must search her heart to see who she truly loves--Gideon or Sol.

This book is a very short read, but a pleasant one. The author's character development is, as usual, very good.

This book was provided to me at no charge in return by Waterbook Multnomah for my honest review.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Finding Our Way Home

A new book by Charlene Baumbich (an author new to me) has made me a fan. Her character development is excellent; she made the characters come alive as I read. I will definitely be checking for new books by this author.

The book focuses on two women: Sasha, a 37-year-old ballerina whose entire life was devoted to dancing before an accident robbed her of her ability to dance, and Evelyn, a 19-year-old high school graduate who is in love and becomes a live-in caregiver and assistant to Sasha.

As the two women live and work together, Evelyn has problems keeping her thoughts to herself, and Sasha has problems with self-pity. They clash time and again until a true friendship is forged. Then, they become fast friends, helping each other overcome life problems and making each other stronger than they were before.

This book is an excellent study in personality, but it also gives insight into these two women's lives. It also gives insight on learning about love. Evelyn is in love at the beginning of the book, but she does not understand the true meaning of the word. Her parents try to help her, but she rebels against them, wanting to find her own way.
Sasha, too, is in love, but deprives herself of it for reasons you will see as you read the book. She learns to love again as she gains strength.

I recommend this book. The author gives a lot of insight into women and what makes them strong, and how they form friendships.

This book was sent to me free by Waterbook Multnomah for my honest review.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs

I had not read the first of this two-book series, so when I began, I had difficulty getting into it. The Scottish brogue also caused me to read much slower than usual. But before long, I was quickly waiting for the next event.

I knew this was a paraphrase of the story of Ruth and Naomi in the Bible, so I watched for pieces of the story. There was enough difference that I had to look carefully, which I enjoyed. Being a writer myself, I like the nuances and added subplots that Ms. Higgs used.

I knew Elizabeth was supposed to marry the rich landowner, so I worried when she almost fell in love with someone else. But not to fear, it came out just as it did in the Bible. The lead character's love and care for her mother-in-law endeared her to me. Since I am also a seamstress, I emphathized with her as she sewed, by hand, all those dresses for the staff at Lord Jack's manor.

This was an excellent book and I did not want it to end. I received this book from Waterbrook Multhomah for my honest review.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Crossing

Serita Jakes' new book, THE CROSSING, is a page-turner, for sure. There are many subplots and the book held my interest well.

It centered around a ten-year-old murder of a beloved high school English teacher, and some of the people involved. It was easy to relate to each person as the dialogue moved from one to another.

My only problem with the book was that, while touted as a Christian book, it dealt mostly with issues that were not Christian. There was a large amount of drinking involved, and some illicit sex.

There were not many references to the Christian life. Instead, the main character got drunk a couple of times, and a lot of action took place in a bar.

The main part of the book centered on a police investigation of the murder. It was a little disjointed, and I was confused a time or two when things came together.

Every once in a while, the author would inject a Christian comment,but I would not recommend this book for a church library. There was no vile language, but the situations were clearly secular.

I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah for my honest review.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Women at Holly Oak

A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner is a story of generations of women who lived in an old house in the South. The old house had walls of pictures of women who had lived there, women who were said to still haunt the house.

When Marielle marries Carson, who had been married to one of the women who died very young, she came to live at the house, and began to believe the stories about the ghost.

The ghost was thought to be Susannah, who lived there generations before. But when Caroline returns, she shows Marielle some letters written by Susannah during the Civil War and begins to dispel her fears.

This is a story of people trying to find peace and love, trying to rid themselves of old fears and memories. One of the goals of Marielle and Caroline is to sort out who these women were. Another is to make a happy home for Carson's two children, and for the future children of Marielle and Carson.

This book was a little hard to read at first, because it was filled with lots of people that had to be sorted out in my mind. After I got into reading the old letters written during the Civil War, and came to understand the people, it was an enjoyable read.

This book was sent to me free from Waterbrook Multnomah for my honest review.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Kristen Heitzmann -- Indelible

This book was a little hard to get into, because I didn't know it was the second in a series. However, I found out quickly. It gave informtion as if I already knew the characters and I had to look back several times to figure out what I was reading.. Soon, though, I was into it because it was such a good book. It is extremely well written and engaging. Keeps your interest very well, even if I was not familiar with the characters.

Trevor, an outdoor sportsman, saved a little 3-year-old from a mountain lion's jaws. His unmarried aunt, Natalie, was watching and thanked him profusely. The child's parents were in and out a few times in the book, but mostly it revolved around these two characters, their idiosyncracies and eventual attraction for each other. Trevor had some hangups from childhood, and so did Natalie, like we all do.

The real mystery began, though, with an unknown person taking children from their homes and then sending letters and pictures to Trevor. Because of his childhood problems, this upset him greatly. And because of his macho nature, he had to figure out what was going on. That is defined near the end of the book.

Another character figuring highly in the story was Fleur, a blind artist with a gallery near the outdoor shop of Trevor and the sculpture studio of Natalie.

The book is compelling, hard to put down. The ending is surprising. And I'm going to read the first one now!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Author Rene Gutteridge

Another new author I found during the summer of 2011 is Rene Gutteridge. I read two of her books, and they are as different as day and night.

Troubled Waters is the story of a woman who has not seen her parents for almost twenty years, because of a disagreement with her father. When he dies, she reluctantly goes home for the funeral.

At home she reconnects with her mother and many secrets are revealed. This almost 400 page book was hard to put down, and I ordered a copy from Amazon to send to my 92-year-old mother who reads even more than I do. What a great book.

I was delighted to see Gutteridge's name on another book at our library, so I checked it out. It was totally different--a police drama, on the order of books written by Randy Alcorn. This book, A Splitting Storm, is about storms in nature and storms in the lives of people.

Both these books are Christian fiction. I hope to be able to read more books by this author.

Author Judith Miller

I am an avid reader. It's not unusual for me to read two or three books a week. This week I picked up two books by Judith Miller at our public library, thinking they were a series. They were stand-alone books about the same subject--the Amana Colonies of the 19th century in Ohio. This was a religious communal group. They shared meals, the people were assigned jobs that benefited the community, and they had strict rules of conduct. They were somewhat like the Amish, but were a distinct sect apart from them.

The first book I read, Somewhere to Belong, was full of twists and turns. The plot was woven around two women, two secrets, and many subplots of those secrets. It kept my attention, and I read it in two days--all 364 pages.

The second book, More Than Words, centered around a young lady who was a writer. Of course, she was taught not to be prideful, and she thought she was doing wrong when she allowed someone to submit her work. I finished this 361 page book in two days, also. Judith Miller introduces plots and follows them through, sometimes with an unexpected twist.

I had not read Judith Miller's works before. I can recommend them wholeheartedly to people who like Christian fiction. Somewhere to Belong was my favorite of these two books. If you can only choose one, that would be my pick for you.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mercy Come Morning by Lisa Bergen

Krista is a 38-year-old history professsor in a college in Colorado, but she has never forgotten her lost childhood. She grew up with an absent father and a mother who treated her indifferently. When her mother is near death in Taos, New Mexico, she reluctantly goes to be with her. Her mother never regains consciousness, but Krista battles with memories from her past. A close friend of her mother's who has always befriended her helps her to see her mother in a different way as she grows closer and closer to death from Alzheimers.

When Krista finds diaries and letters and reads them, she comes to understand her mother better and is able to clear her mind of some of the things that beset her for so long.

The imagery in this book is tremendous. Bergen's description of the countryside is colorful and alive. As Krista remembers things, she also remembers historic events, so the reader gets a history lesson as well as an enjoyable story. Krista also remembers Christmases through her life. This book's first title was Christmas Come Morning.

I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah for my honest review.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Too Rich for a Bride

Mona Hodgson has written a period book unlike others I have read. This one is about women entering the business world, becoming independent rather than depending totally on a husband for their support.

In Too Rich for a Bride, we meet Ida Sinclair, an independent lady whose goal is definitely not romance. She obtains a job in Cripple Creek, Colorado, the residence of her two sisters, and is well on her way. However, two men vie for her attention and she finds that she must make a decision.

Ida learns that women of means are not looked upon fondly in her new town. She also learns some upsetting things about her employer, Mollie O'Brien. She has to decide whether she will buck the tide of opinion or give in to her heart.

As Ida deals with her feelings and yields her heart to the Lord, she has some big decisions to make as she determines her priorities.

This was a fun book to read, and it compelled me to order other books in the series. Check Mona Hodgson's page on Amazon for the titles.

I received this book free from Multnomah for my honest opinion.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Finding out Someone in your Family is Gay

This unique book, Out of a Far Country, shows the redeeming love of God as He came to two individuals. The sub-titles are "A Gay Son's Journey to God," and "A Broken Mother's Search for Hope." The book was written by both Christopher and Angela Yuan. I read it a couple of years ago.

Angela, the mother, was an Atheist, and her husband had a nominal Catholic background, so they raised their boys outside of the church. Their marriage was in trouble, and their family was falling apart when Angela sought to end her life. When God intervened, she came to know Him personally. After leading her husband to Jesus, both of them prayed earnestly for their son, Christopher.

Christopher was a gay man, a drug user and seller, and had no time for God. Angela prayed that God would do whatever was necessary to bring him into a relationship with him. Christopher was at his lowest when the police raided his apartment. They found the drugs and Christopher was arrested and imprisoned.

When man is at his lowest, he has nowhere to look but up. And this is where Christopher found himself. A Bible happened to be in his cell and he began to read. Then he began to understand what his mother had been saying to him.

Christopher came to realize that his imprisonment led to his salvation and to his ridding his body of the drugs that were so prominent in his life. His conversion and his life change were dramatic, as God led him out of the mess his life was in.

Not all gay men and women have such an outstanding conversion and life change.

This book was dramatic and inspiring and I recommend it to people who want to see the drastic changes God can make when a person yields his or her life to Him.  I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah for my honest review.

Another book dealing with this subject was one I downloaded recently on my Kindle--The Edge of Grace, by Christa Allan. It is about a sister and brother, the only ones left in their family, who grew up as very close siblings.

When the sister finds out her brother is gay, she is devastated. Then when she discovers that her brother is living with another man, she is afraid for anyone to find out about it, especially her children.

This book is pretty wordy, but I finished it and found a wonderful ending. If you are dealing with a similar situation, I would recommend this book for you. It will help you come to grips with your feelings, and you will be pleased with the ending.

If such a situation comes to you and your family, you will need help in dealing with it and sorting out your feelings. Many times all we have is grace to deal with such heavy things in our lives. The Edge of Grace is a Christian novel that may help.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lillies in Moonlight

Lillies in Moonlight is a wonderful picture of life in the roaring twenties. A broken young lady, a man scarred by war and disillusionment, and an elderly mother suffering dementia come together to show how God's redemtive grace is more than enough for each situation.

Allison Pittman spins a story with twists and turns and give a realistic look at life in the twenties in America. I had never read this author before and was pleased with the way she tells a story. She elicits sympathy for Lilly, sorrow for Cullen and his mother, and happiness for the way the story turns at the end. There was a little anger at Lilly's mother and the way she treated her, but there are Christian people who live like this. God can overcome any problem, as we see in this delightful book.

This book was provided to me by Multnomah Publishers for an honest review, at no cost to me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My brother

It looks like it has been a long time since I posted on here. March 7, to be exact, and today is March 30. I have been writing some things and posting them on http://www.churchmouse.com/ and working on some stories about Bible characters, and I have been reading for book reviews for Christian Library Journal. I have also been getting ready for knee surgery on April 4. I never could do just one thing. I have to have at least five things going at once.

My total knee replacement is set up, the machine to exercise my leg is on the way, I talk with the anesthesiologist and the hospital people tomorrow, and it seems things are moving along.

Then yesterday, just before noon, one of my sisters called. My brother, Coy, died during the night. His home is in Arlington and he was found on the floor in the bathroom, so nobody knows for sure what happened. He had been having blackout spells for several months, he had congestive heart failure, and his heart had serious problems. He also had an aneurism and diabetes. It seems his problems went on and on. He had several stays in the hospital during recent months.

Because of my surgery in St. Louis Monday, I can't get to Dallas for the funeral. But my mother, my sisters, and Coy's wife all understand that I have to do this knee surgery now. If I cancel I have to start all over and I won't get better in time for our grandson's weddings and then the weddings of both our daughters this summer.

My brother and I were close as children, but we drifted apart. His life and mine were on separate tracks for many years. Recently, however, I began calling him about once a week and talking with him. I am so glad I did.

I've been thinking about family dynamics. We never stay at close as we intend to. I wish we had been able to do more. I wish I had spent more time with my only brother.

But I know he accepted Christ as his Savior when he was a child. I can be sure that I will see him again in Heaven. He's there now, with our dad, praising Jesus.

I can be thankful for that.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Through the Valley of Depression

       I've been exploring on the web today, finding new blogs that have really inspired me. I enjoy finding out about young mothers who are doing their best to present a godly influence for their children. I was introduced the other day to a blog called "Come Have a Peace" and through it, I found several others. These young women who are writing about their daily lives seem to have it all together.
       That wasn't true of me when I was younger. I married at age 19 after having known my husband for only six months.  I can truly say after 55 years of marriage, God blessed immensely by putting us together. We have served God in twelve churches and one association of churches through these years. After our retirement, we traveled in our 5th wheel trailer and Ford dually truck to help churches with construction work. Along with several other couples, we did this for ten years, until my husband's health required that we no longer drive the trailer. Since then we've been here in our little home, doing what we can in our church, and I have taken on a new career--writing.
        But shortly after I was married, I experienced depression. We were serving in churches that didn't pay much, my husband was trying to finish college and seminary, we were having babies about every two years, and it all pressed in on me until I could not handle it.
       My sweet husband talked with one of his seminary professors, who counseled me and led me through the valley of depression. But God is the one who led me out, after I allowed him to.
       My deepest regret is the time that I lost with my children, that can never be regained. However, they were pretty little, and don't remember much of it. We have a great relationship today. Our four children are scattered. One is in Missouri, two are in Texas, and one is in Germany, but we communicate. E-mail, texts, and telephones keep us close.
        People today don't believe that I once suffered severe mental depression. It is truly a tool of Satan. Satan cannot take away our salvation, but he can enter our thoughts and make Christians miserable, if they allow it. It takes strength and the word of God to withstand those fiery darts Satan sends, especially when one is already weakened by doubts and fears that Satan has put in our minds.
        I just want to say to all you young ladies, God bless you and keep you strong. I am thankful for all of you. My book A HERITAGE OF FAITH tells the story of a family who tried to follow God's will as we ministered to churches that were in decline. Check out my website if you want to know more about it.

      
      
    

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Book Review: WORDS UNSPOKEN

         Words Unspoken by Elizabeth Musser (2009) was about Lissa, a young lady who had been in an accident in which her mother was killed. She wanted to learn to drive again with confidence so she could go on to college and resume her life. She signed up for lessons with a man who taught driving to people whose lives had been shattered due to serious accidents. The man proves to be a philosopher as well as a grandfather figure, and he helps Lissa emerge from her shell of heartbreak and loss.

          The book is set in the Lookout Mountains of Tennessee where one can see the beauty of the mountains while reading.

           A sub-plot of the book is the publishing business. The writer offers insight into the world of writers and their ups and downs in trying to get published. New York, home of the publishers, is described so that you feel you are there, meeting the editors and workers who sometimes use shady methods to get what they want.

           The book shows how a young person, so devastated by life's unexpected turns, becomes independent again. There were many twists and turns. The  characters are clearly defined by Musser's good writing. The ending is very unexpected when an anonymous writer of many novels is revealed.

        This book will not let you put it down.  A page-turner, for sure!

Monday, February 28, 2011

The World of Books

        Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved to read. My family moved a lot during my early elementary years, but in spite of the change in routine several times, I learned to read without any problems.
       At one school where I was enrolled, the teachers listened to me read and put me up in the next grade. I was "double-promoted" because of my good reading. They forgot to check my math skills, though. I still have trouble balancing the checkbook! But because of my "double-promotion" I graduated high school a year early.
        Later in life, after I had four children, I got my teaching degree. As I taught children with reading problems, I thanked God that I didn't have to deal with reading difficulties. My mother was a reader, and she encouraged me to become one, too. Both my sisters are avid readers, too, due to our mother's influence.
        When I was old enough to get on a bus in Dallas by myself, I could ride to the public library and check out my own books. I would put them in my satchel, get back on the bus to go home, and lovingly touch the books, reading the titles, and deciding which one I wanted to read first. There was a bench in our yard under a big elm tree where I often sat during the summer, reading my books.
        Books can take you places you can't go. My husband and I have traveled to many places, but there are other places I wanted to see. I can go on-line or get a book and experience the wonders of the place I was unable to go to physically. I can learn about feelings and problems that people overcame by reading books.
       I like to read about real people. I like to read biographies and memoirs, and I enjoy finding out how people overcame the trials and problems in their lives, and how they used those things to make them better people.
       I wrote my book, A HERITAGE OF FAITH about my family because I am sure others like to read about real people too.
       The main reason I wrote my book, though, was to tell about my husband, who was pastor of eleven churches, staff member in one, and Director of Missions for a county in Missouri during his active ministry. Our family was called to churches in trouble--churches where the people were mad at each other. Sometimes the church had split before we got there, sometimes the church had fired their previous pastor.
        God used my easy-going husband to put those churches back together and get them on the road to being loving churches again. As soon as that was done, He called us to another church where we started all over, doing the same thing again. Many experiences we had are chronicled in my book.
       If you like to read about real life experiences, you will like A HERITAGE OF FAITH. If you want to read about a family whose experiences were side-splittingly funny, you will like my book. If you want to read about the way we did it in the old days, you will like my book.
       Encouraging Christian fiction is what my book is. Hope you enjoy all 259 pages. My website contains a few stories from my book--check it out!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Weddings Then and Now

        This summer we will have three weddings in our family.  Our grandson, Daniel, the second of our grandchildren, is marrying Molly on May 28 in Midland, Texas. They are both still in school, and will continue their education--Molly in nursing and Daniel in law. Daniel also plays a mean guitar and has several guitar students. I love to hear him play.
        Our younger daughter Cindy will marry Ben on July 1. Cindy has two children, a boy aged 7 and a girl aged 14, and Ben has three daughters, ages 7, 13, and 18. Fortunately, all the kids get along great. So they are going to have a full house! Our older daughter Debbie will marry Owen on July 9. Debbie has one boy still at home, who will be a junior next year. Her other three children are either in college or out on their own, as are Owen's two children. A lot of adjustments will be made by all these family members after all these weddings.
         As I was reading the paper this morning, I noticed the page about weddings and it got me thinking. Weddings used to be pretty commonplace. Our families had been through the Great Depression and money was scarce. People just got married, rather than spending a lot of money on big weddings and great parties. At least, that's the way it was in my neck of the woods.
        I read the questions asked to the couples featured in the paper and thought about how that related to me and my husband. How did you meet? How did you get engaged? How did you choose your ring?
        We met in college in June, and were married in November of that same year.  We were in a Baptist college in Texas, he was a preacher and I knew God wanted me to be a preacher's wife.  We saw no reason to wait around, we decided to get on with our life. Not a lot of planning went into our wedding.  We sent out invitations, I wore a wedding dress and veil, and my mother took care of the reception, which was at our house. My dad officiated at the ceremony at our little church, and one of my college friends was the only bridesmaid. One of my husband's brothers was his best man.
        My husband related a funny experience before the wedding. He and his brother, George, were waiting in a little room before the ceremony began. His brother went over to a small window, opened it, and said, "Hey, boy, come over here and stick your head out this window." My husband said, "Why?"  George said, "That's your last breath of free air.  Enjoy it while you can, because after tonight, it's all over!"  He still married me, in spite of George's dire prediction.
        After the reception we drove to our little duplex in the town where we attended college. On Sunday we moved our church membership to a church where a friend was pastor, and on Monday we went back to class.  Oh, and on Saturday night after the wedding we drove to my husband's hometown of Fort Worth, bought a used refrigerator, and moved it into our apartment.
          How did we get engaged?  He said "Will you?" and I said, "Yes."
          How did we choose our rings?  We only had a little money, so we went to the local jewelry shop in Decaur, Texas, where we attended college, and bought matching wedding bands that we could pay cash for. An engagement ring was out of the question for us. We were still paying for college! And we knew that Seminary was coming next.
          In spite of the "regular" wedding and the inexpensive reception, our wedding was memorable, and we've stayed married for 56 years.
         My parents were married in a small ceremony and they wore regular clothes, not even wedding finery. They were married for more than 60 years before my dad passed away.
         It's wonderful to have those great memories, a big, beautiful wedding, and many friends wishing you well.  We didn't do it that way, but we are glad those who want to and are able to, can.  But the real thing is not the wedding, it's the marriage.  If love and commitment are present, and if each one honors the other over self, the marriage will last.  If God is part of the union, and if the couple worships together and prays together, they will stay together. Selfishness has no place in a lasting marriage.  It's a lot of give and take, but mostly give. If each partner gives and gives, willingly, not grudgingly, then the marriage will be a long and happy one.
          I wish that for my grandson and for each of my daughters and their mates. I hope they have as great a marriage as we have had. We didn't have much money, but we've had a wonderful life! 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Qualifications of a Pastor's Wife

I was looking through some old files and found this little gem. I don't remember where it came from, but thought it would be fun to put it on my blog.  I've been a pastor's wife since I married in 1954. You can tell it's dated by the reference to the CB radio in the last paragraph.  Nowadays it would be a cell phone. But many of these statements are things that were expected of me through the years.

Qualifications of a Pastor's Wife

Her ears should have an automatic sifter for sorting out information that should be kept confidential.

Her mouth should be always smiling, saying good things.

She should have three eyes, the two to lead music as she plays the piano, while with the third she watches her children on the front pew to make sure they behave like the preacher's kids should.

She should have at least four hands to keep the house neat at all times, sew for all the family, bake better cakes than anyone else for the church picnic, raise the children to be examples of obedience, intelligence, and achievement, and always be first to do extra work at the church.

Her feet should be trim and dainty, yet large and substantial enough for all the working, walking, and standing that her job requires.

Her hair should be divided down the middle, half in the fashion of the day, and half in a conservative "motherly" style.

Her clothes should never be new because that would make her a spendthrift, never old because that would prove her out of touch, never fancy because that would show as not conservative enough.

Her figure must not be too trim because that would indicate vanity, but not too matronly because that would mean she lacked will power.

She must have a file cabinet mind that can produce Sunday School lessons and devotionals at a moment's notice, detailed statistics over the past ten years, and chapter and verse containing the parable of the vineyard, or any other scripture somebody needs to know about.

She must be an expert counselor on marriage problems and coping with unruly children.

Above all, she must have a CB radio brain in order to locate her husband in one minute flat, regardless of whether he is in his study, calling on prospects on the golf course, visiting in the hospital, or browsing in the Baptist Book Store.

Book Review THE REST OF HER LIFE

I went to the public library Saturday morning and picked up a book called The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty. I knew it was not a Christian book, which is what I usually read, but it looked interesting, so I starting reading. I finished the last twenty-five or so pages this morning. It was so compelling I could not put it down (except while I was at church yesterday).  From the first paragraph, I was hooked.

On the very first page, a high school senior has an accident in her SUV that kills another student at the school she attends and where her mother is a teacher. The entire book deals with relationships-- with the girl's parents, her parents' friends, the mother of the dead girl--so many little twists and turns that keep you flipping pages faster and faster, and reading carefully to get all the details.

It made me wonder "What would I do?" if this were an event in my life.

The mother of the high school student came from a dysfunctional family and there were many flashbacks into her life, as the reader tries to understand her and the dysfunctionality of her own family.

The girl who was driving the car goes through a great transition as she deals with the accident.

The girl who was killed was a member of a church, but the family of the girl who was driving the car saw no use for church in their lives.

I realize not every book is Christian, but I could not help but think that if the author had shown God's plan in the lives of these people, they could have overcome their problems much more easily. As it was, the girl who had the accident came to a realistic solution in her life. She was very depressed, but she found a satisfactory solution to relieve herself of guilt. However, God could have done it so much better.

There is some bad language in this book, but not an inordinate amount. If there had been, I probably would not have finished it.

This book is written as many of Jodi Piccoult's books are. It give a contemporary moral dilemma and tells how it is resolved. The characters are believeable and interesting.

What do you Have in Your Hand?

Sometimes we feel inadequate. Trials come and we don't feel up to the challenge. But I like the positive approach, rather than the negative. I like to think of what I can do, rather than dwell on something that is impossible.

In the book of Exodus, God called Moses to bring his people out of Egypt, where they had been living as slaves for hundreds of years. In chapter 4 Moses expressed his worries to the Lord and said, "What if they don't believe me?" I am sure he was worried for his life. His feelings of inadequacy as he contemplated going before the king of the land overcame him. He knew the power of the king and his own mortality.

God said to him, "What do you have in your hand?"

Moses said, "A staff."

God said, "Throw it on the ground."

He did, and it turned into a writhing snake.

Then God said, "Take it by the tail."

Moses reached for it, and as soon as he held the snake by the tail, it turned back into a rod again. God was showing him the wonders that He could do. God was asking Moses to trust Him.

God was proving to Moses that He could help him to do anything. And God can do the same for you and me. That doesn't mean that we can become an accomplished singer if we have never before developed our voice and learned music. It doesn't mean that we can paint a beautiful landscape if we have never held a brush.

But we can develop a talent that we we didn't know we had. At the age of 68, I began oil painting, and I found it is something I can do and I really enjoy it. I didn't know I could do it until I tried. It took some practice, but I kept on trying.

At age 74, I began writing a book. It was self-published and in almost a year, 500 copies have been sold. People I don't know have written me notes and emails about how much reading it has blessed their lives. I am still writing, sumitting articles to magazines, and have been accepted by some. Beginning in April, some of my articles will be published. I kind of feel like Grandma Moses with her paintings, as I sit at my computer writing, editing, posting, and emailing things to editors. This March, 2011, will be my 76th birthday. If I can do this, anybody can. I love learning new things and hope I never stop learning.

God wants us to look at the positives in our lives. Think of something you can do well, instead of sitting and moping because something is beyond your reach.

Are you able to draw pretty well? Go to a children's hospital and draw cartoon characters to make the children laugh. Or draw pictures for your children or grandchildren. I remember my dad drawing a cartoon character when I was very little, and I loved watching him do it.

Are you a seamstress? Make a lap robe for a person in a wheelchair or a crib quilt for a new mother. Make some clothes for a toddler whose mother needs help with clothing her little ones.

Do you enjoy cooking? Take a meal to a shut in or to a lonely person living alone. Then do the dishes and clean up the mess for the person in that home.

What do you have in your hand today? Think of something you can do for somebody else. You will brighten their world as you brighten yours.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Learning about Discipline

…We have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them.  Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
---Hebrews 11:6

Our friend's daughter, Pat, loved to climb a tree and jump out of it onto the flat roof of an old shed where she played and looked out across the countryside. Her father told her repeatedly not to do it because of the danger. He tried to impress upon her that she could get some serious injuries, but she happily went on, unaware of what might happen. That was her favorite place to play, and seven-year-old Pat loved clilmbing that tree!
Sure enough, one day as she jumped from the tree, she missed the roof and fell to the ground. The result was a painfully broken arm. My husband was their pastor, it was the middle of the day, and Pat's father was working. So my husband drove Pat and her mother to the hospital. Pat was in a lot of pain as they drove, her arm was at an odd angle, and the bone was even sticking out where the hard fall had injured it.
That night when her dad came home, he held little Pat on his lap and forgave her for not following his instructions. He did not punish her, knowing that she had finally learned her lesson. For several weeks, however, she had to endure the pain and discomfort of her arm healing, and put up with the inconvenience of not being able to use it, because she had disobeyed her father.
God warns us about things we need to leave out of our lives. Yet, we sometimes go on and on in our sin just like little Pat did, until God teaches us a lesson we won’t soon forget. Sin in our lives causes us to pay a price. Even though God forgives, we have to suffer the consequences. The misuse of our bodies brings its own consequences, because of the laws of nature.
Pat had to learn not to jump from the tree, just as we have to learn to get sin out of our lives.
When we deliberately sin, we must take the consequences.

 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Peace and Security in My Lifetime?

       In the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles we find the story of King Hezekiah, a man who became king of Judah when he was 25 years old. The Bible says at the beginning of his reign, "He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord."  He started off right.

      In fact, he did a great thing. He opened the doors of the temple at Jerusalem and repaired them. He had everything cleaned. The temple had been left in disrepair for a long time before Hezekiah came along, and he wanted to get rid of all the filth and idol worship that had gone on before, so he set up leaders and gave each group a task. When all the work was done, the people celebrated. They got out their musical instruments and worshipped God. They gave offerings and prayed, recognizing God as sovereign.

        The kingdom of Judah began to prosper again.  People brought costly items and gave them to the king. Chapter 32, verse 21 says everything that the king undertook prospered because he obeyed the laws of God. Storerooms were prepared as people continued to bring food and treasures to be kept in the stockpiles at Jerusalem. Hezekiah took great delight in his many possessions and treasures.

        Then Hezekian became ill, near the point of death. Hezekiah prayed and God gave him fifteen more years of life.  After his recovery, a king from Babylon came to visit and commiserated with him about his illness and recovery. In other words, he flattered Hezekiah and got him to talk about his kingdom. Hezekiah took the king and showed him all his treasures, even his armory.  He showed him everything because he was so proud.  But pride was his undoing.

        The prophet Isaiah came to Hezekiah and said to him, "What did you show the Babylonian king?"

         Hezekiah said, "I showed him everything in my palace. There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show him."

         Isaiah prophesied that because of Hezekiah's pride, the kingdom of Judah would one day be taken in exile to Babylon, and everything Hezekiah was so proud of would be carried away by foreigners.  A most audacious statement follows.  Hezekiah said, "The word you have spoken is good, but there will be peace and security in my lifetime"  It seems he cared nothing for future generations; he wanted prosperity while he could enjoy it.

        The prophecy was true. Years later, the people were taken to Babylon and became slaves. The temple was destroyed and all its treasures were carried away to Babylon to be used in pagan worship.

       As I think about our government today, I wonder if anyone is thinking about our own children and grandchildren. What are they going to have to endure because of the spending and waste that we see everywhere?  Where is the prophet today who will speak to our leaders and cause them to think about future generations?  Are we going to settle for "peace and security in our lifetime" and forget about the lifetime of our children?

__________________
This article was published by the St. Louis Suburban Journal on October 20, 2010

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Book Review THE HELP

      I recently finished another good book titled The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. This one was not a Christian book and there were no references to anything Christian. It was a study of black/white relationships in the days when many families employed black maids to help with the housework and to raise their children.   References were made to the Civil Rights movement in the United States and to the assassination of President Kennedy, so that sets it in the late 1950's.  Dr. Martin Luther King was a prominent figure, too.

      High society was prevalent among the white ladies. Mistreatment of the black help was noted, but so were some good things that happened to them. It depended on the family as to how they related to their maids.  Most of the whites considered the black people "dirty" and "diseased". They did not want the maids using their toilets (but they handled all their food, so I saw some discrepancies in their thoughts).

      The book was set in Jackson, Mississippi.  However, I saw a lot of the same prejudice in Dallas, Texas, while I was growing up in the forties and fifties.

       When slavery was abolished, the black people were not really freed; they were not treated as equals. White parents often did not want their children associating with black children. Blacks were treated badly by those in authority. They were not allowed to drink from fountains that whites used.  I remember getting on buses in Dallas where a sign clearly marked the back for the "coloreds" while white people sat in the front.

       We did not have a maid. My parents and grandparents lived together until I was out of high school, so the housework and child-raising was done by my mother and grandmother. They worked as a team to cook, clean, and do everything else. Our family did not have "old money" like the people in the book I read. My father worked as a carpenter and my grandfather was a bricklayer, and they worked hard to provide for our family. My mother cooked three big meals a day. Relatives showed up regularly and often stayed for the meals, because they knew there was good food at our house.

       At one point in my life, we lived in a different town and I attended a school with children of other races. Most of the children were Mexican, but there were a few blacks. I distinctly remember my grandmother getting me ready for school, putting some coins in a handkerchief, and tying up the corner so the money would not fall out. She then put the handkerchief in my hand and said, "There. Now, don't you let them dirty Niggers and Mexicans get your lunch money." That is indelible in my memory. I was very young, and I immediately feared people who were "different" from me, because of my grandmother's comment.

       People have learned a lot through the years. We still see some prejudice, but we also see many good friendships between people of different races. Just recently we heard of a white coach giving one of his kidneys to a  black basketball player in order to prolong his life. Children now learn in desegregated schools where young minds are all given the same opportunities to learn and grow together.

       Bias is probably still alive and well, but it is not as evident as it was back in the days when I was a child in school. People are realizing that God made us all and people are people. I hope everyone realizes that, and I hope that all children are given the same chance to realize their dreams, based on their hopes and intellect, not on the color of their skin.

       In this book, one of the white ladies determines to make a difference. She interviews the black maids and writes a book about how they are treated. It is a book that will hold your interest until the very last page.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Make the Main Thing the Main Thing

       Priorities. How important are they? Could a business run without them? Can a home run productively without them? I don’t think so. Everybody has different priorities, though. What is the most important one?
       In a productive business office, the main priority would be to get the work done. Can the office staff accomplish that without the dedicated work of each person who works there? If people come in when they want to, or leave when they get ready, will the work be done?
        And what about homes? Certain tasks have to be done every day, while others must be done periodically to keep a home in good working order, and to maintain comfort. When the priorities in the home are forgotten, the house is usually a mess until somebody sets it right again.
        Some things bother us so badly we feel we have to do them. I heard about this lady who was explaining why she had missed church the previous Sunday. She said she couldn’t go to church that morning because she had to organize her lingerie drawer. She couldn’t stand another day opening that drawer and finding all her panties in a wad, I mean, her unmentionables in a jumble. Everything had to be neat or she couldn’t stand it. So she skipped church to take care of that task.
         Then there was the woman who told her pastor that she would not be able to get to church any more on Sunday because it was the only day she had to let her face rest. She had to get up every other day and put make-up on her face so she could go to work, and Sunday was the only day her face could rest, so she was going to start staying in on Sundays, to give her face a rest. (Both of these incidents actually happened!)
         Jesus taught us about priorities. He said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33 NIV) If our priorities are in the right place, everything else will be all right.
          Getting that quiet time in early, praying to God as a friend, trusting him completely—these things should be our first priorities. After that come the daily tasks. Work is pretty important. Without it, our livelihood would be severely cut back. Family is important. We must instill into our children values to make them productive adults, even though it may be unpleasant at times.
         Make a list of your priorities, then give this list to God in prayer. He will tell you which ones to put first. The next hard thing to do is to follow that list.

Age is Relevant

      At a meeting I attended recently, the leader said, “Look at yourself in the mirror tomorrow morning and say, ‘I am beautiful!’” I thought of what I looked like that morning and my first thought was, “I can’t tell myself that!”

      I cannot look at my face the first thing in the morning and honestly tell myself I am beautiful.  After a shower and a shampoo, a styling of my hair and some carefully placed make-up, I may be able to say, “Now I’m acceptable to go out into public,” but I don’t consider myself a beauty by any means!

      I think about many older people my husband and I have known in the past.  When we married, a delightful older couple lived down the hill next-door to us. They were playful, happy people. He was always patting her on the bottom and she frequently brought us freshly-baked bread. They may have been sixty years old, but to me they were ancient. When you are 19, your perception of “elderly” is somewhat skewed.

       As we served in churches where my husband was pastor, many older people graced the pews Sunday after Sunday. Then they arrived at the office during the week, offering to visit newcomers, to cook and clean in the church kitchen, to build a ramp for a member in a wheelchair, and to do numerous things that the younger, working people didn’t have time to do. I remember thinking how beautiful some of these people were because of their personality and their willingness to be of help, not because of the beauty on their faces. 

       Older people today continue to offer to help others, and to do things that other, younger people, do not have time to do. Their smiles, their willingness, the radiance showing in their eyes—these are the traits that let beauty shine through!  Outward appearance is not all there is. Happiness, a sense of purpose, and the love of God inside cause people to be beautiful on the outside.

       In our society, beauty is ascribed to the young. Rarely do you see pictures of elderly people in a setting of beauty, unless the ads are selling something to make the older people feel and look younger. Life seems to say, “You have lost your usefulness now that you are older.”  I look around today, and wonder where the time has gone. Today I am that older person.  My friends and I are the ones doing the volunteer work. I have earned this crown of silver hair that frames my face because I have been on this earth long enough to get it! (how's that for not telling my age?)

       When I was a child, there was a comic strip called ‘Pogo” about a possum who gave tidbits of wisdom along the way.  He would say, “We have found the enemy, and they is us.” Today I can say with Pogo, “We have found the elderly, and they is us!” But there is still a lot to do.  I’m not ready to give up yet! There is always another quilt to make, another picture to paint, another story to write, more books to read, and many more prayers to pray. And there are people who need our help. What can I do today to let the beauty shine through?

Changes in Our Churches

I have been a pastor’s wife since I married. I signed up for it. I was the daughter of a bi-vocational pastor, and my husband was a preacher when I met him. As a nineteen-year-old college student, I didn’t understand the fish bowl we would live in as a pastor’s family, but I learned fast.
If I was not at church, or if our children were not there, people were usually buzzing with questions. We thought of church as our second home and people expected to see us there. 
When pulpit committees interviewed my husband for the position of pastor, the question was usually asked, “What does your wife do?” They were anxious to get “two for the price of one.” I taught Sunday School classes, led children’s music groups, played the piano, and did whatever else was necessary, in addition to taking care of my family and working as a schoolteacher. I changed my hats often and quickly as the need demanded. I was a multi-tasker before the word was coined!
Another pastor’s wife once told me that her husband was not hired by a church because she could not play the piano. They needed both a pastor and a pianist, and they wanted both in the same family, for the same salary. That was common in the fifties and sixties, among our churches.
It is easier for pastors’ wives today. Now, if the question is asked, “What does your wife do?” the pastor usually says, “You are hiring me, not my wife.” Pastors’ wives are not scrutinized as severely as we were in the past. In addition, pastors’ children are regular kids and they feel resentful when they realize how closely church members are watching them. My own children have told me that they were aware of people watching them, waiting for them to mess up. And, to a degree, that probably still happens today in some of our churches. However, I hope the legalism is lessening, especially for impressionable children.
A matriarch of the church in the 1970’s surprised me with an audacious question shortly after we went to her church for my husband to serve as pastor. She said, “Do you work because you want to or because you have to?” What a question! I can still see that woman’s face and I remember standing speechless for a moment, as I contemplated my answer.
            Really, that was not her business, but I was not brave enough to tell her that. What I felt like saying was, “If the church would pay my husband what he is worth, I wouldn’t have to work.” However, I bit my tongue and said something about helping to supplement the family income. I had finished my college degree shortly before we moved to that church, and I was excited about beginning my career as a teacher, but she took some of the excitement away with her question. That same woman told me she didn’t want me in her Sunday school class because, as the pastor’s wife, I should be teaching somewhere.
            I don’t think that would happen in churches today.
            After my husband’s retirement from the active ministry, we moved our membership to another church in town. We arrived at that church on a Sunday night to find that the pastor and his family were not there. They had a family crisis with one of their children, so they stayed at home to talk it out and get it fixed. The pastor put his family first at a time when they needed to be first, and I applaud him for doing that. The family worked out the problem, all the children in that family are now in full-time Christian service, and we were just fine in the worship service with a deacon leading in the absence of the pastor. This would have been unheard in the days when my husband was a pastor. The deacons might have fired him if he had done that!
            Change has come into our churches in many ways since my debut as a minister’s wife. In those days, people didn’t clap their hands or raise them in church. Now, we realize clapping or raising hands is a way to worship. It’s hard to believe, but I have seen people walk out of church because the congregation clapped in appreciation of a song. Now we clap for baptisms, which is as it should be. Praise the Lord, another soul comes into the kingdom!
Another difference is in the way some people view divorce. Divorce in a preacher’s household used to mean the end of his ministry. There are times, however, when a man becomes a preacher after his marriage and his wife says, “I didn’t marry a preacher and I won’t be a preacher’s wife.” She cannot handle the pressure. We know preachers today who are still actively serving in churches, after their wives have walked away. We also know preachers who are married to their second wives, after a divorce. Divorce is no longer viewed as the “unpardonable sin” as it once was. We know some wonderful women who became preacher’s wives after their marriage, and are faithfully serving God and loving their husbands. My mother was one of them and she is still a witness for the Lord in the retirement home where she lives at age 91. We are also aware that some places are not as accepting of this as others are. Each church body is different.
Change has come, too, in methods used today. Our music is different. Our youth are different in the way they dress and the things they do. (Who could have imagined paintball or teen rock bands back in the 1950’s or ‘60’s?) In the early days of our ministry, guitars were not considered instruments for use in church. They were played in dance halls and saloons. But today guitars have been sanitized and sanctified, set apart for use in worship. We attended a church recently that had thirteen string instruments and singers on the platform, and nobody was playing the piano.
Change comes to every generation. We have to do what is necessary in order to reach people for Jesus. But praise God, He remains the same, our all-knowing, all loving heavenly Father. We still worship and praise that same awesome and holy God. We still bow our heads and talk to Him in prayer, and call upon Him in times of need and stress. We still lead people to faith in Jesus, the only way to salvation. We still see people coming down the aisle to accept him as Savior and follow Him in believer’s baptism. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 
            We did it our way, now church leaders are doing it their way. It is difficult for us, as older adults, to accept a lot of new things. But change is here. It is a part of our churches and our leadership. Let’s try to embrace and accept change, as people continue to come to our loving Father.      


The Awful Realization that You are Lost

Have you ever been completely lost, not knowing where you were or how you would get to where you were going? If you have, then you know the feelings of hopelessness and despair that can overtake you. You also know the feeling of having been found, the wonderful release that comes when you are rescued and your situation is set right again!
I was traveling on a train with two small children, returning to Missouri after visiting my parents in Texas. We arrived at the enormous old train station in Kansas City, but my husband was not there to pick us up. He had  misunderstood the time of arrival, and he was in a small town more than an hour away from where we were waiting.  I had a three year old and a 15-month-old and I was pregnant again. I couldn’t keep up with those two in that big train station, as they ran from place to place. I stood, watching my active toddlers, with my luggage and my pregnant body and thought, "I can't do this."
After talking to my husband and learning that he had been asleep in Bosworth, Missouri, about one hundred miles from Kansas City, I called the seminary my husband attended. One of his friends came and took us to his house where the children could play while we waited. However, in our haste for my husband to come and get us, somehow we had miscommunicated again. He drove directly to the train station. I talked to his friend after I talked to him, so he didn't know where we were. I was so anxious to get my little ones out of there, I forgot to call him again. But he was probably driving by then, and of course that was before cell phones or texting or any other instant communication that people today rely on
         When he arrived, my husband searched all over the station. He questioned the Ticketmaster, he called hospitals, he even went into the women’s restroom looking for a young pregnant woman with two small children. The startled women helped him look, but we were not to be found. He called the police, he called the morgue, he searched everywhere. He thought his family was gone forever!
         Hours passed as we waited and he searched. It was not much help when my son kept saying, “Where is daddy? When is he coming?” My tears flowed freely as I pondered that very same question!
          Finally I called back to our home town, and the girl working the switchboard at the old telephone company, who happened to be a member of the church my husband pastored, listened in on the call. She then relayed our location to my husband when he called back to our little town, frantically seeking information about his family. He finally found us eight hours after we had originally arrived!
I still remember the feeling I had when he drove up to the house where we were waiting for him. It was late in the afternoon and we had been there since early that morning. As he got out of the car and we ran to one another, his arms around me were all I needed to feel at ease. We had a wonderful reunion, as we drove home, so thankful to be together again! 
Home is when you are with the ones you love, when you are in a familiar place, when you feel that all is right because your family is together  There is no substitute for the feeling that comes when the lost has been found.
My husband often told this story as he preached through the years, comparing our being lost from each other to people who are lost without Jesus. When they finally turn to him and accept him as their Savior, there is no comparison for the feeling that comes. When you know you are home, safe and secure in the hands of the Father in Heaven, you are never lost again.
______________
This was published in the St. Louis Suburban Journal January 19, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ole Jess

Jess sat on the steps of the school, eyes squinting in his wrinkled face as he shaded them from the sun.  He looked at the truck parked on the road with the words Texas Electric printed boldly on the side, and then eyed the burly workers. Using a post-hole digger, they made a deep hole, then manhandled the long wooden pole and dropped it into the ground, before pacing off fifty feet and doing it again. Across the gravel road, the poles were already in place and workers had strung wires on them at the top.  It was the mid-1930’s and the marvel of electricity was coming. Despite his objections, it was coming to him.
Jess thought kerosene lamps were just fine.  For years people had managed without this new-fangled electricity. Why do we need it now?  Why do folks always want to change things?  He liked things as they were and had always been.
Jess took care of the grounds at the Bluff Springs elementary school, a country community several miles from Fort Worth. He also cleaned the three classrooms, where 45 to 50 kids attended, with three teachers for the primary, middle, and upper grades.  A round pot-belly wood stove heated each classroom.  Each room had desks lined up in rows, bolted to the floor, chalkboards on two walls, and a pull-down map on the wall behind the teacher’s desk. 
 The kids called him “Ole Jess” because of his weathered face and white hair.  He limped a little when he walked, too.  But he was fiercely protective of the school.  He was the only man around, and he felt strongly responsible.  These women and kids needed a man around to keep a watch out for trouble.
All the kids played together at recess, from the first graders to the seventh graders. The swings and see-saw drew the kids first.  When the play equipment was filled, the kids jumped rope, played kickball or marbles, or ran races while the teachers supervised them. Of course, Ole Jess was always there during recess, one eye on the kids and one eye on those electric poles.
Jess worried about the electric wires being so near the school grounds.  He didn’t trust this new invention.  Why, they might even blow up and kill everybody on the playground.  Anything could happen. It couldn’t be safe. Therefore, he kept a wary eye on the kids unless they were inside the school building, out of harm’s way.
It was a hot Texas spring day. The electric workers peeled off their shirts and worked in their undershirts, continuing to plant the poles and ready them for the wires. After they strung the wires, they primed the poles with creosote to preserve the wood. Creosote was flammable, which made Ole Jess worry more. Why would they put that creosote so close to those wires, anyway?  A man could never get a minute’s rest, with the worry these electrical workers were giving him.
The teacher rang the bell, the children shuffled inside, and Jess flopped down on the steps as he wiped his brow with an old, red bandana. The kids were safe for a while.
Jess continued his mission—protecting the kids—day after day. One afternoon as he kept his vigil at recess, he noticed a small grass fire near one of the electric poles. Kids must be playing with matches. He panicked. That fire is too close to the pole.  The creosote will catch fire, the wires will explode and it will kill all the kids.
He rushed to the grass fire and tried to stomp it out, but the fire circled the creosote-covered pole and began moving up. He frantically put his big hands around the electric pole as high as he could. Holding tightly to the pole, he brought his hands down to the ground. He stripped off the flammable creosote and put out the fire with his bare hands.
Finally aware of the pain, Ole Jess held out his burned hands. Blisters were forming quickly, his hands were black, and splinters of creosote-covered wood stuck out from the tips of his fingers to his wrists, even in the big blisters. The teachers picked out the splinters and put salve and bandages on Jess’s hands. He was unable to use them for a few weeks as they healed.
But in his mind, the pain and inactivity was worth it all. He had been there when the kids needed him. He had averted an electrical explosion and saved the lives of the teachers and all those kids. 
And he would do it again.
______________________
This story won third place in fiction writing at the Heart of America Christian Writers' Network Conference, held in Overland Park, Kansas, November, 2010.
(This is an actual incident from my husband's childhood. He saw this happen. He used this illustration many times in sermons through the years, and he would say, "What are you doing to save those around you?")

The Old Swimming Hole in Texas

          My husband grew up in the country near Fort Worth, Texas. Their dad was foreman on a cattle ranch, so Charlie and his brothers, Ed and George, had endless land to play on—they could shoot squirrels and rabbits, trap coons (and sometimes get a skunk), and swim bare-naked in the creek, which they dearly loved to do.
            Ed was the oldest, then Charlie, then little George, who wanted so much to be like his big brothers. Ed and Charlie had learned to swim, but George was too little. They took the sled that they used to pull wood to the house, and George laid his body on that in the water. He floated while his brothers and their friends swam and played.   
           The boys and their friends would run to the creek, strip off their clothes, and take turns jumping in by using a long limber branch of one of the trees. What fun it was to drop into the cold water. George took his sled and went in from the bank, sliding in and staying close to the edge, as his brothers had told him to do.
            Then one day, as one of the boys jumped into the water, he accidentally upset the sled and George fell off. He didn’t know how to right himself. He struggled, trying to get hold of the sled again, but kept going down again and again. The other boys didn’t notice for a minute, then someone saw the empty wooden sled and said, “Where’s George?”
            Panic set in as the boys dove down in the deeper muddy water, searching frantically for their youngest companion. When one of the boys found him and drug him up on the bank, they all crowded around, each wearing his birthday suit, each trying to see what they could do to help.
            They had no idea what to do, but they rolled George over on his stomach and began hitting his back and pumping his arms. When water began to come out of his mouth and George coughed, those were some happy boys. They knew he would be all right.
            It was several years before their mother heard about it, though. They knew that if they told her, she would not allow them to go to the swimming hole again. George was all right, so Ed and Charlie kept it to themselves, and threatened George within an inch of his life if he told. Their parents didn'd hear about this little experience until all of the boys were grown.
_______________________________
This is a story from my book, "A Heritage of Faith". Click on the button to see how you can order it by direct mail.



Who IS This Child?

Who IS This Child?

     Our youngest grandson is seven. Only recently he made a decision to accept Jesus as his Savior and his grandpa baptized him. In some faiths, this is very unusual, but in the Baptist church, childhood conversions are common. All our children became Christians and were baptized before the age of 10, and this also occurred with our grand- children. Growing up in the home of a pastor, the children learn the answers early. But this little boy comes up with things that you can't believe happened in a seven-year-old brain.

     Just recently he was talking to his mom about his special friend, Mike (not his real name). Chachi and Mike were talking about how much they like each other. Chachi told his mom, "I said to Mike, 'I love you, and I would die for you.' He said, 'I would die for you, too.'"

     Then tears welled up in Chachi's eyes and he said, "Mom, I don't want Mike to die for me, because he doesn't know Jesus. If I die for him I will go to heaven, but if he dies for me, he will go to the other place, and I don't want that to happen to him."

     It was hard for my daughter to talk, after a statement like that, but she said to her son, "Does Mike go to church?"

     "I think so," said Chachi.

      My daughter said, "Then maybe he does know Jesus. You could talk to him and ask him if he knows Jesus, and if he doesn't, you could tell him about Jesus."

     That seemed to satisfy the huge burden on Chachi. He said he would talk to Mike about it, and crawled into his bed and went to sleep. While he lay there in dreamland, my daughter pondered the conversation they had shared. What thoughts to come from such a little boy!

     I reminded her of something Chachi said while we were all driving back from Texas for a Christmas visit. My husband was driving and he got a little close to the car in front of him. My daughter, in the back seat, yelled, "Dad, slow down, we're all going to die!"

     Chachi, in his car seat in the middle, said, "Well, mom, that wouldn't be so bad, would it? We all know Jesus. Everyone in this car has been baptized. If we die we just go to be with Jesus, don't we?"

     The adults in the car sat stunned. What things come out of this child's mind!

      One more thing--one day we were taking him home to babysit because our daughter had to work, and were having a deep conversation. He asked about what it meant to be a Christian, what the Lord supper meant, then he said, "I have a really hard question now, Grandpa. Who are you supposed to love more, God or your mom?"

     What is this child going to come up with next?  I stand amazed.