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Friday, May 1, 2020

WHAT IF

So much has rolled around in my head since this pandemic exploded into our world, and yet I have been unable to put all these thoughts on paper.  I have vivid memories of the polio outbreak during my childhood.  My mother's cardinal rule was you needed to rest after lunch everyday to ward off the possibility of contamination by the polio virus.  I am not certain if that was fact or the motivation to get her three offspring to give her a couple of hours of peace.  Rest time was from after lunch until three everyday.  For some unknown reason, those were the hours when we would be infected according to folk medicine.  It was a deadly virus as perhaps most famously remembered by President Roosevelt's leg paralysis.  The iron lungs, precursors of today's intubation, were necessary to help those afflicted get enough oxygen to sustain life.  Medical science has come a long way since that epidemic and our understanding of virus epidemics, thankfully, is many times better.

Rather than exploring why this has happened, where did it come from (deeper than a country or region), and what are the consequences of this epidemic, perhaps we should look at it on a more personal level.  It has occurred to me that perhaps God is giving me a period of sabbath.  A time to rest while locked down and prohibited from social interaction.  I am only able to do very limited ministry work--but there is endless time to pray.  The schedule which controlled me and my days has been thrown out the door.  What if God is allowing me to consider how He wants to use my time.  What if God is reminding me He really does not need me to accomplish His purpose.  What if there is a purpose in all of this which is deeper-more profound-a greater purpose than all this illness and death.

God did not cause this epidemic, but He has allowed it.  In the worst of times, we often see the best in people.  I have learned the most about Who God is in the very hardest of times.  During these days of great sorrow, deep suffering, and unknown futures, God is present.  He is still God.  He is not surprised by all of this.  He can and will use all things for His glory and good purpose.  

As these final two weeks of lock down pass by, consider not those questions of worldly importance, but instead seek What God is showing you.  God wants you to rest with Him. Every day, place your head on the heart of Jesus and quietly be with the Lord.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
Psalm 23:2-3

Friday, April 10, 2020

IT'S FRIDAY

Most of you know, I am not a believer in coincidence, but a strong believer in God incidence.  While reading one of the three books I am in at the moment, I came across a profound passage which addresses not only Friday-the day Jesus died, but also the dark times we find ourselves in--especially as we look at the unknown of this pandemic.  I must admit to you, when the knowledge of this world wide epidemic first hit the news, my initial reaction was~this could kill me.  After immediately turning to God in prayer, I was given a peace concerning my future.  We all have hit terrible~gut wrenching dark times in our lives.  The fact is that many families are mourning the loss of their loved ones right now. With all the statistics we are hearing, comes the very real knowledge that with each number there is a face.  It is a dark moment in our history.  How then do we face tomorrow when we are sunk in despair and grief?  How are we to face the uncertainty of tomorrow?  How can we calm the fear and panic the 24/7 news can create?  Where can we look for calm in uncertain and turbulent times?

As I read this passage in a fiction book, I found it profound and totally relevant to not only life, but today's crisis.  This is an excerpt from Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger~

"It isn't Easter, but this week has caused me to think a lot about the Easter story.  Not the glorious resurrection that we celebrate on Easter Sunday, but the darkness that came before.  I know of no darker moment in the Bible than the moment Jesus in his agony on the cross cries out, 'Father, why have You forsaken Me?'  Darker even than His death not long after, because in death Jesus at last gave Himself over fully to the divine will of God.  But in that moment of His bitter railing, He must have felt betrayed and completely abandoned by His Father, a Father He'd always believed loved Him deeply and absolutely.  How terrible that must have been and how alone He must have felt.  In dying, all was revealed to Him, but alive Jesus like us saw with mortal eyes, felt the pain of mortal flesh, and knew the confusion of imperfect mortal understanding.  

When we feel abandoned, alone, and lost, what's left to us?  What do I have, what do you have, what do any of us have left except the overpowering temptation to rail against God and to blame Him for the dark night into which He's led us, to blame Him for our misery, to blame Him and cry out against Him for not caring?  What's left to us when that which we love most has been taken?

I will tell you what's left, three profound blessings.  In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells us exactly what they are, faith, hope and love.  These gifts, which are the foundation of eternity, God has given to us, and He's given us complete control over them.  Even in the darkest night, it's still within our power to hold to faith.  We can sill embrace hope.  And although we may ourselves feel unloved, we can still stand steadfast in our love for others and for God.  All this is in our control.  God gave us these gifts, and He does not take them back.  It is we who choose to discard them.

In your dark night, I urge you to hold to your faith, to embrace hope and to bear your love before you like a burning candle, for I promise that it will light your way.

And whether you believe in miracles or not, I can guarantee that you will experience one.  It many not be the miracle you've prayed for.  God won't probably undo what's been done.  The miracle is this: 
that you will rise in the morning and be able to see again the startling beauty of the day.

Jesus suffered the dark night and death and on the third day He rose again through the grace of His loving Father.  For each of us, the sun sets and the sun also rises and through the grace of our Lord we can endure our own dark night and rise to the dawning of a new day and rejoice."

AMEN--It's Friday, But Sunday Is Coming!

For His anger is but for a moment,
and His favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:5

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

LOVE IN ACTION

My heart has been deeply touched by the response to a call for help for those who are directly affected by this virus in my last post.  No, I am not speaking of those who have been diagnosed with this dangerous disease.  Instead I am asking for help for those who have lost their jobs and are hanging on to a sliver of hope that they will survive this crisis.  For you see not only have we been plagued by the rapid spread of this life threatening virus, but also, the economic fall out from an almost complete shut down of society which has plunged a large segment of our country into the real fear of the inability to feed their loved ones.




After issuing an urgent plea, you responded and responded BIG!  Thank you from the depths of my heart.  Thank you for taking the time to listen, and thank you for sharing with those in need from your storehouse.


You have answered God's nudge and enabled The Well to meet the needs of our neighbors who are struggling.  It has been such a blessing to see all of this unfold.  You are providing the funds, God sent a contact with a local grocery who is helping to fill our orders, and we have young volunteers and interns who are filling the grocery bags and making the deliveries.  We are meeting the needs with as little social contact as possible.  Together we are feeding the hungry.

AND YES-


a huge impact is being made to love our neighbors well.  I have seen love in action in a profound and moving way!

Perhaps you are like me and wonder ~ What can I do to help?  I am vulnerable--so I am socially confined to my home base.  How can I help with limited mobility?  By using the talents God has given me and keeping the need before you of those most threatened.  

Yes, Praise God, we are helping feed the sheep, BUT it is not a one time and done deal.  The sheep must be fed weekly and we will be working to make these deliveries weekly as long as the need exists.  

We see the government stepping up to fulfill some of the needs, but let me promise you---it is never enough.  Living on a shoe string that is fraying is difficult at best.  Please continue to help us to keep our friends and neighbors fed as long as this crisis lasts.  We don't know what tomorrow holds, but we do Know the provision of a loving God.  Share your provision and help take care of your neighbor is what I am asking.  When you sit down to eat, remember the women and children who are vulnerable and struggling and pass your surplus.

Above all--no matter if you are isolated are not---PRAY!  We can all pray---God will answer our prayers--but first you must lift those prayers to a merciful God. Pray without ceasing for those who are most vulnerable, those who are affected by the virus and their families, those who are mourning their loss of loved ones, those who are putting their lives on the line by continuing to serve us in many areas, for our local, state, national, and world leaders.  PRAY, My Friends, PRAY!  And may we all continue to put action behind our love as we walk this uncharted path.  God is not surprised and He is by our side, now let's all take action and love our neighbor.


Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, 
which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds 
in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7


Saturday, March 28, 2020

URGENT NEED!




I have told you about the ministry I am involved in here which works with foster families, adopted families, single moms and older single women.  This is the group where I teach a Bible Study on Thursday afternoons.  How I have grown to love these ladies!  The Well is providing a wonderful service to many.



Yesterday, I received a call from the director of The Well.  In a 24 hour period, she had received 10 phone calls from single moms who have lost their jobs and are desperate for help.  We are trying to help by supplying groceries.  Many of the local organizations which help in supplying groceries are shut down during our Stay At Home order.  The Well is actually closed, BUT we are trying to come up with a plan for getting groceries to those in need with the least possible risk. 

I made a call yesterday and instead of our interns having to go to the grocery store to pick up items as need arises, our local Super One has agreed to fill our orders when we fax them in for pick up thanks to their director.  Our staff are then packaging and delivering the groceries for front porch pick up.  We are trying to keep social contact to a very minimum.

What then is the urgent need?  Our contributors have faithfully provided for the needs of those we currently serve.  We anticipate this need base is about to explode based upon the calls we have already received.  We want to be good neighbors and love those God places in our path.  We want to help these single moms provide for their families when, through no fault of their own, their income has disappeared.  

I have lived on a shoe string at times in my life, I have been a single mom, and I know how difficult this can be.  There is no money for extras and any disaster can send you spiraling down.  When you buy groceries, you calculate as you pick up items what the total will be and at times, you have do do without.  Every cent you spend is carefully thought out.  This time in my life had such a big impact that I have spent the rest of my life--even when it was not necessary--carefully considering how I spent the funds that were available. 

Yes, these ladies will qualify for unemployment, but as a former CPA, I can assure you unemployment does NOT replace the loss of income these women have suffered.  I can only imagine their panic as they stare at the uncertain outcome of this global pandemic.  Yes, they now have a check coming--but when--two or three weeks?  These ladies need to feed their families TODAY!

Would you consider helping?  We have drop off sites for groceries at our downtown location and The Bridge church on North Vienna.  Most of us--even when we are practicing social isolation, can write a check.  No matter the size, every dollar will help to feed these families, we would appreciate your assistance.  Help us to help these mothers to keep their children secure in the knowledge they will be taken care of and provided for.  

Any donations to The Well can be mailed to 2303 Royal Oaks Drive; Ruston, LA  71270.

I was hungry and you fed me,
thirsty and you gave me a drink;
I was a stranger and you received me in your homes,
naked and you clothed me; 

Matthew 25:34-36

Thursday, March 26, 2020

GOING ON A BEAR HUNT

One of my young creative neighbors posted a message via our Facebook Group Page that we would be having a Hood Bear Hunt.  In an effort to help keep the Hood kiddos entertained, we have been encouraged to put a stuffed bear (or animal) in our windows.  The children walk around the Hood and find the bears.  What a cute idea!


When I googled this (GOOGLE KNOWS ALL), I found this is happening across the nation.  Another example of what a great country we live in.  People uniting for the good of the masses!

What would you expect, but for me to add a little twist to it.  My bear is extremely talented!  She is posting a message everyday to keep the game going!  This may test my creative juices to the limit!  


You people KNOW I am challenged when it comes to making a picture with my phone and the fact I have a very old cell phone does not help.  Hopefully you can zoom in and see the message by clicking on the picture and then zooming.  Today Ms Smart Bear has a different message, but you will just have to drive by to see what the latest word is.  

The children hunting for the bears are surprised to see the note in the window.  An unexpected message from one of the Window Bears.  You are just walking along, counting the bears and not expecting a message and then PRESTO--you have a message.

Reminds me of the way God works.  We are marching along on our trek through life-not expecting anything out of the ordinary and ALL OF A SUDDEN, there is a God moment.  NO doubt about it---definitely a message sent from God.  What a blessing to know He is communicating with us--He has His eye upon the sparrow and loves us even more.

So as you continue your walk in what seems to be a rocky path, keep your eyes open and your ears attuned---God may have a message for you.  What a blessing!

For only a penny you can buy two sparrows,
yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father's consent.
As for you, even the hairs on your head have all been counted.
So do not be afraid;
you are worth much more than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:29-31

Monday, March 23, 2020

ONE LOST PIECE

I love putting puzzles together.  For several reasons, I reserve this activity for times when I am snowed/iced in and cannot leave the house.  The "Stay at Home" order has become my new excuse to puzzle.  So for the past few days, I have danced around the table putting together a puzzle.  Here is a synopsis of what this project looked like~


Here is the box with 1000 pieces just begging to be put together.  







If you look closely at the last picture, you will notice in the green of the sign over the store porch there is a piece missing.  You must understand how my process of assembly goes.  After dumpling the entire puzzle out on the table, the process begins.  It is a slow process and I divide it into numerous sessions during the day until I go to bed.  At the same time that this is going on, I am deep cleaning my house, pulling weeds out of flower beds, cooking, walking the dog, reading two books, and checking on my friends.  So my puzzle assembly is disjointed to say the least.  When the puzzle is finally finished and I am one piece short, I am a little perturbed.  With so many pieces, I knew pieces had fallen on the rug (which is also multi colored), so I got on my hands and knees and searched~all to no avail.  I finally took the puzzle apart to give to a neighbor who is completely shut in with health problems.  

BUT---I didn't give up---where was that one piece?  I had handed off a puzzle which would frustrate someone else because there was one piece missing.  No matter that the piece was green and there is lots of green on the puzzle--every piece was important.  So today as I continued my deep house cleaning, I moved every piece of furniture in the dining room and LOW AND BEHOLD--I found it!



I was bound and determined to complete the puzzle to have each and every piece.  Though I never physically put that piece in the puzzle, it has been passed on to the neighbor who now has the complete puzzle.

I was reminded of the story of the lost sheep and the shepherd who left the other 99 to find that one lost sheep.  We are all important---no matter if we blend in with everyone else and don't feel like we stand out or if we are the one who always stands out in a crowd like the one puzzle piece which was a complete bird.  The puzzle was not complete until each and every piece was accounted for.  What a comfort to know there is one who loves us so that He will not rest until we are all accounted for.  

There are lessons to be learned while "Staying at Home".  God is right in the middle of all of this.  He is not surprised by what has happened.  Look, listen, and think while being a good citizen and staying in-there are lessons to be learned.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’
Luke 15:4-6

Friday, March 20, 2020

2020 TP PANIC

For the life of me, I cannot understand WHY? in the world, so many are in a toilet paper panic.  As far as I know, the virus does not result in explosive diarrhea which might explain the panic buying.  I read on line today someone had even hi-jacked an 18 wheeler filled with TP.  If I decide to commit a crime which might result in long term imprisonment, it will NOT be for stealing toilet paper.  An armored car filled with more money than Carter had liver pills is more my style.



In an effort to practice social isolation, I am ordering my groceries on line and running by to pick them up.  Toilet paper was not available the first order.  I quickly counted all my TP resources and determined how long I could hold out before becoming desperate. It was similar to the daily glance at my dwindling savings thanks to the stock market free fall.  Thankfully by the second order (I am also cooking at home ALL the time now), the gold standard of TP-Charmin was once again available.  PLEASE SOMEONE EXPLAIN TO ME WHY THIS IS THE PANIC ITEM OF THE DAY???  



When we have hurricanes, water flies off the shelf.  At least that makes some sense!  There is a possibility with power outages and huge amounts of rain that the water system could become unsafe.  Unfortunately here in the deep South, some of the small rural water systems come under boil orders occasionally.  I don't know if they are not treating correctly or if a varmint got in the water supply, but before you drink, you must boil.  THEN it is understandable to have a water shortage.  Even though all that bottled water comes from the same taps we use in our homes, it has been tested.

When I stop to think of all the TP I have wasted in my lifetime--rolling yards of dear friends (the police frown upon this) and hitting that roll and letting it spin as if I am on The Price is Right and going for the grand prize while getting ready to check out of the BR.  The thought of my waste makes me cringe.  Who knew today's waste would become tomorrow's currency?

The TP though is a mystery!  Here is something you might need to be reminded of---TP HAS NOT ALWAYS BEEN AROUND!  W A Y B A C K--man had to figure out other ways to insure cleanliness.  If you are out hiking in the woods, and run out of biodegradable TP, there are leaves all around.  Just be careful to not pick the three leafed variety.


That could lead to a problem MUCH more serious than a dirty bottom. Which is more of a disaster a dirty bottom or an itchy bottom~I digress.

Here is what I want you to know---DO NOT PANIC if you cannot get TP.  Why  in my lifetime, when my oldest was a baby, there were NO wipes & his little tender bottom could not tolerate the rough TP.  SO, Friends, I used a warm wet wash cloth.  NOW before you yell GROSS---It was used one time and washed.  There you go--after the laundry I had a whole new batch of clean -reusable TP.  SO, Friends, don't panic---if you have wash rags and a washing machine---all is not lost.  If worse gets to worse we live deep in the piney woods--there are alternatives out there.  For goodness sake--STOP hoarding the TP!



Being cheerful keeps you healthy.
Proverbs 17:22