Category Archives: Inspirational

INVASION OF PRIVACY

phil-and-doctor-squeaks

A friend of mine had her purse stolen from her as she visited among friends in a restaurant. My heart went out to her, because she is overseas, single, and reaching out to help people in that foreign country. Reflecting on this robbery threw me back to a time when I was the same age as Taylor, in my late twenties. Our family of five lived out in the country near Raymondville, Texas.

Our house sat on 1.5 acres off of a dirt road four miles from town. Surrounding us on three sides was an expansive field of sugar cane. When the crop was nearing harvest, you could not see anything else but the waving leaves covering the thick canes laden with their sweet harvest. This time of year we were hidden from the main road

I had been a stay at home mom for about ten years and since we bought our home, I wanted to help out with the payments and I began working at Mama Knox’s Dollhouse, a home daycare. I enjoyed the routine, the children and parents, but I have to admit, I really enjoyed Mama Knox’s home made sourdough rolls the most.

We were grateful for a job where I could still see my daughter, Audrey, every day, and when I found out I was pregnant again with our son, Jonathan, I was glad that I was in a place where I could bring my children and still help out some.

Things were going well until one day we went home, and as we walked toward our back porch, all was strangely quiet. I couldn’t quite figure what it was until I opened the door and saw that our two cockatiels, a normal gray and an albino, bright yellow, with peach cheeks were gone along with their cage that usually hung out on the screen porch where they could enjoy the fresh air and sunlight.

Some weeks earlier, we noticed that the shower room on the porch was wet from use, which was strange since we had been gone all day and the only time we used it was to shower off the kids when they were too dirty to walk through the house to the bathroom.They preferred tub baths.

I had been alone at the house when my husband was away at summer school, getting his teaching degree, when I would hear the outdoor spigots squeak on, water run, and then the faucets squeaked off again. I knew that we were on an immigration trail that some illegal aliens would take. One day on a hike, we discovered an abandoned house not too far from ours and I am sure it was used for a rest stop on the way. We stayed away and did not bother to investigate.

When I heard the water run outside, I would just bless the ones out there and wish them good health and a safe journey. We did not bother them and they never bothered us. I instinctively knew that the shower was being used to clean up and that didn’t bother me either. I was glad to help someone on their way and wished them well.

Today, however, I felt violated. All of the good will I extended in word and deed, and here were my children’s pets stolen right from inside our screened area. That is what was missing when we walked toward the back door. Every day as we exited our car, we would hear the shrill greetings from our two birds as we came closer to them. We teasingly called them our watch birds, because they alerted us to my husband’s return each day.

Our budget was a bit tight and so I did not look forward to breaking the news to our children that no, we would not be able to run out and replace our birds. We had them for a few years. There was a breeder who lived in town. We got them when they were tiny and hand fed them so that they were very tame. The children were heart-broken.

A few weeks later though, we came home to another incident. This time our TV, stereo, an anniversary clock, a sentimental rifle that had belonged to our grand dad,a collection of rare coins, my make-up of all things, and some antiques were missing. My cedar chest that I had received for my engagement, from my parents, was damaged and the lock was broken. It wasn’t even locked to begin with.

Oh, the feeling of how unfair, of people rifling through my drawers and closets, of the disrespect for our privacy and our loss of some very sentimental items. The children and I loved to listen to records and they danced around and put on “shows” to these merry songs, but their favorite record was taken since it remained on the turn table, when they took the stereo. The sinking feeling in my heart left me numb.

I think it was more the sadness at being a target of such an act, when we tried to be generous with the little we had and always wanted others to do well. But jerking away the things that we owned and looking through our home seemed such an invasion.

This happened again three more times that year. I wondered why I even bothered to go to work. I am sure this would not have happened had I been home.

Friends, people we did not even know, and family gave us used TVs, stereos, and money to help replace missing items.

The culprits were finally caught, but since we could not give serial numbers for the coins, we could not get them back. Same for the rifle, TV and stereo. We had to have pictures or something to prove these items were ours, and the only thing we had a picture of was our mantel clock, but it had been smashed and the works taken out.

We had been short-term missionaries in Japan for a year and had taken a pastorate at a tiny Spanish-speaking church for a year until they could get a replacement. Our salary was only $300 a month with a home and utilities provided back then, so we were not materialistic. Rather, we rejoiced that all of our children enjoyed good health, that we did posses a washer and dryer, cars that worked, clothes enough for the places we needed to go and a sound roof over our heads. God always blessed us with enough and more to give away when needs arose.

Today, I still can see the ups and downs in our lives. The challenges that arise are no less daunting. Yet, our hope is not in all things going well with no wrinkle, but our hope is in the great resources of glory and the intervention for our good from a loving heavenly father.

Choosing to look at life through the eyes of gratitude and love, and to forgive rather to become bitter and feeling victimized are rich lessons that make each new day an adventure in faith. When you are looking to find the good in every situation, you discover the miracles and treasures that are set before you daily.

Ann Voskamp once said, “When we refuse to trust God and forget to live with thankfulness, we are living as practical atheists. We are not positional atheists (in truth, we are always positioned in Christ through faith in Him), but we are living like God does not exist.”

James, the brother of Jesus wrote,

2Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. -James 1:2-4 (NASB)

Look for the treasure in each happening. Give your situations to him to partner with you. Then rest in the FACT that you have the Creator of the Universe and all of his resources working in your behalf. Declare his goodness and declare your praise and worship that you are his.

“Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, rejoice.” -Philippians 4:4 (KJV)

 

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MORE THAN A SPARROW

sparrow

     “So Mom, are we going to be street people?” questioned my eight year old son.

     He was astute for a third grader. Blonde hair, curious mind, industrious and thoughtful would best describe him. Fidgeting with something in his hands, always something in his hands, he waited expectantly for my response.

     What could I say that would be true? This new reality was shaking me at my foundations, yet I needed to reach out in comfort to these dear children who could not comprehend how their father’s departure would rock their secure little world.

     I searched my mind for ideas. What were we going to do? We all knew that this house belonged to the church for the next minister to live in, so with their dad resigning as pastor of the church and leaving us to “pursue his own life”, we knew we could not live their indefinitely.

     Four months earlier, my parents left as full-time missionaries to the Republic of South Africa. They were at work at a college there. My sister, Diana, and brother-in-law, Don, loved about an hour away and had their own two little ones to raise in a cozy farm house, nestled in citrus groves. There were five of us who needed a new home. So, where would we go next?

     I looked at Nathan and gave him a hug. I love to ruffle up his hair and then smooth it out again. Such a sweet face looking up my way. Lord, help me through this moment and give me the grace to stay calm and trust you.

     “Look at the birds of the air and see how God has given them beautiful feathers to fly. He keeps them warm, protects them, and there is plenty all around in nature for them to eat. Nathan, do you think God loves you more than a little bird?”

     “Yes, I know he does,” he nodded. His eyebrows remained bent quizzically.

     “Then don’t you think he already knows where we will go next? Do you think that he is getting a place ready for us even now?”

     “Yes, but Mom, you don’t have a job! If you get one, then you will have to leave us all alone! What are we going to do?”

     “First of all, I am going to get quiet and pray so that I can hear what God says to me about this. Then we will carefully wait in faith and see what doors open up. This way, we will know God is taking care of our needs.”

     I usually like to pray about things, but I had to think on my feet for this one. I needed some time to figure many things out for myself. Who should I go to? Where would we live? How could I afford to care for these beautiful children the way they deserved?

     I wanted to be at home and be the one caring for their needs. I could not help but get angry about leaving my precious charges to babysitters. Children need stability, love, and kindness. At the ages of two, six, eight, and ten, they were young and impressionable. They needed a solid foundation to stand the test of time.

     My mind swirled round and round. I was transported from a simple life full of family, chores, cooking, and happiness to problems too complex for my troubled mind to solve. My heart raced, as fear chased to imprison me.

     I called to get my haircut by a woman who worked out of her home and she told me how she and her husband were moving from their four bedroom rental home, just two blocks from the Rio Hondo schools. She suggested I call their landlord. So I did. After he heard my story and plans for college, he lowered the rent and only charged me $200 a month. That was the hand of God. That I could afford.

     The children were elated to have God provide such a large house right in town for us to live in. Believe me, I was as grateful as they were to have this opportunity fall into my lap. I knew Nathan was relieved, but as an adult, I was as well. So thankful my heavenly Father took care of us all.

But you, O God, are both tender and kind, not easily angered, immense in love, and you never, never quit. So look me in the eye and show kindness, give your servant the strength to go on, save your dear, dear, child! Make a show of how much you love me so the bullies who hate me will stand there slack-jawed, As you, God, gently and powerfully put me back on my feet. Psalm 86:11b (MSG)

     

BREATHE

Breathe Avellanas Beach

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Exodus 20:8

The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. Mark 2:27,28

The sun shone brightly and I wanted so badly to go outside and play, yet here I was tossing on my bed with a slight breeze stirring the sheer curtains of my room. When it rained or clouded over this ritual was no trial, but today, my active mind and body would not settle down for my nap. I briefly looked through some books to see if that might tire me, but at ten years of age, being quite active, I could not focus on reading for long. If only I could nap a bit, then I would be free to go outside and explore in the nearby wood.

My family observed resting on the Sabbath. For us that meant that on Sundays, we went to church, ate fried chicken for lunch, cleaned up and then took a nap. Later we could play outside, or inside play games. In the evening, mom would get a break from food preparation while dad either whipped up his deep dish apple pie, banana splits, or the aroma of popping corn flooded the house with his orange juice and Kool Aid  punch for our evening fare.

When I married at nineteen and left home, I carried this tradition with me. Napping each Sunday afternoon was my rest for the week. Then after the babies came along, it was a necessity to recharge and have that time free with my husband helping to put the children all down for a rest.

Yet, when I was in my twenties and a pastor’s wife we attended two services on Sunday. I attended classes at the local college, I worked part time as a waitress, then I cleaned and baked on Saturdays. I began to feel low on energy. Where was our rest?

As a single mom in my early thirties, I wrestled with finding my rest as I worked to complete my teaching degree and raise four children. 

Then one summer my children and I discovered the Sabbath. 

I worked and studied hard in school while the kids had their favorite teenager, Charlie, short for Charlotte, who played with them, took them for rides, and in between her mom’s swim classes taught in their backyard pool, my children splashed and played until we all converged in the early afternoon.

On Fridays I packed up a lunch with drinks, straw mats rolled up, towels, changes of clothing, and then with a shirt and shorts pulled over top their swim suits, my four children scurried down the porch steps and into the waiting car for our day together at South Padre Island, only forty-five minutes away.Freed from studies and  chores, our laughter, conversation, and play revived. No  budget problems to solve or facts from volumes of textbooks that waited to cram into my mind crowded my thoughts.

Carefree, I listened to the soothing regularity of the waves. I breathed in deeply fresh air from the constant offshore breezes.

Here in my sandy cathedral, I would give my confession of my fears and weaknesses. When I encountered this great God who created vast oceans and this Gulf of Mexico my problems shrank in comparison. He put my fears to rest with a sweet peace that could not be manufactured. This was his preliminary answer to my prayers. 

So much anticipation and joy came from this summer tradition. Sundays were busy with two services, then a big Sunday dinner; but Fridays were holy.

Once I started teaching, I became exhausted and it dawned on me that I had violated the Sabbath rest that God commanded for my good. I still got a nap in on Sundays, but I neglected taking a total day to gain the rest that my body, soul, and spirit required.

I asked God what I could do for a Sabbath and he gave me a strategy. I began to take Saturday as my day to restrain from work. I would throw laundry in the washer before school and do loads in the evenings and we would clean during the week, but I read books, went on walks, played tennis, took naps, and enjoyed my family on Saturdays. 

Now that I am retired, I have a busy schedule with children, grandchildren, my husband, substituting, and volunteer work. But, I take the liberty to rest one day during the week and to just follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes my nose is in a book, sometimes I share time at lunch with a family member or a friend. I go for a swim. I spend a day with family. Sometimes I browse through photos daydreaming about pleasant memories from the past. I thank God for this command of rest, just to bless me. I contentedly sit and just breathe.