Memories of Porches

I grew up in the land of porches. They were very common in South Carolina and Georgia.

There were front porches, side porches, and back porches. My grandparents’ house in Rincon, Georgia had a porch on every side of the house. It also had a porch on the second story.

Porches were an open invitation for friends and relatives to come and sit a spell, swap opinions on the limited world they knew about and philosophize a bit about Heaven and what we might have to do before we got there.

Porches were a place to sit and remember those who once sat on the porch with us, but now knew the up to the minute scoop on Heaven.

It was hot in the summers, but even after the coming of air conditioning, it didn’t stop the porch gathering. People needed the warmth of each other more than they needed the cool of treated air.

People got out their funeral home fans and fanned with one hand while sipping their sweet tea with the other. And whoever claimed the porch swing first got the benefit of an extra breeze from swinging.

Porches sometimes were places of reconciliation. My maternal grandparents ran a lumber mill. One of their friends got miffed about some business transaction and stopped speaking to them.

He passed their house each morning on his daily walk. He always looked the other way as he passed.

My grandmother sat on the front porch and remained unceasingly friendly, calling out each day, “Good morning, Mr. Smith!” He continued his silent pout and never spoke.

One morning, a pop up rain storm left him slogging past, drenched to the bone. My grandmother called her usual greeting, adding, “Would you like to come and sit awhile til the rain passes?”

He thought for a moment, and said, “I believe I will, Miss Nellie.” He came and they sat on the porch. By the time the storm cleared, their personal storm had passed too. They had frequent porch visits after that.

We live in a neighborhood where many people have porches. We have a wrap around front porch, a deck we call the back porch and a covered patio we call our lower porch.

In this time of pandemic, it has been comforting to sit on the front porch and talk to our neighbors at a social distance.

Sometimes we call to each other from our porches. It is our way of saying, “You are not alone. We are here for you.”

As they have always been, porches are a gateway to sharing life. That being said, I think I’ll go sit on the porch. It’s raining and it is the perfect spot to listen to the rain and smell the freshness that says spring is on the way!

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for The Glory of God!

Romans 15:7

Transformation Day

We are not always comfortable in these human bodies, but most of us want to keep it. It is a bit frightening to think of living without the bodies we know.

Someone once said, “Everyone wants to go to Heaven, but no one wants to die.”

If the caterpillar knew what glories awaited him as a butterfly, would he do anything to remain a caterpillar? I don’t think so.

I think he would anticipate it with joy!

I love Paul’s teaching on the resurrected body. This is from the New Living Translation. May you anticipate with joy all that awaits you!

But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?”

What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first.

And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting.

Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed.

Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.

There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies.

The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory.

It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength.

They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit.

What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later.

Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven.

Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man.

Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.

What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed!

It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.

For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die,this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.

O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?”

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.

But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

1 Corinthians 15:35-58

Here is the link to my favorite song in joyful anticipation of that great transformation day!

https://youtu.be/zmNvFWFz-7g

Remembering Clothes Lines

I remember clothes lines.

To those who have grown up with the luxury of just throwing your clothes privately into a clothes dryer, it would seem very strange to do otherwise.

But there was a time when there was a line stretched between two poles and it was called a clothes line.

For those of you, who never experienced those days, consider this your history lesson. For those of you who lived back then, enjoy the memories.

Our family had two clothes lines at one point. My mother creatively put her clothes and mine on one line and my father’s and brother’s on the other. It made it easier to put the clothes away when dry because they were already sorted.

The clothes were attached to the line with clothes pins. My mother carried them in her apron pockets.

There was great rejoicing when we got a new type of clothes line. The new one had a kind of pulley system that allowed you to stand in one spot and hang the clothes and pull the line to the next available vacant spot.

Even better, it had a place to hang a bag that held the clothes pins. We thought we had really moved into the modern world!

Hanging the clothes out in the fresh air seemed to make them feel fresher than all the modern “fresh air” scented dryer sheets of today.

There were a few drawbacks. There was no privacy of clothes, including those “unmentionables.” It was even somewhat of a sport to see what other people had hanging on their lines.

There was also the issue of bird crap. Occasionally birds would either miss their target of earth or deliberately take aim at the clothes of the humans who were littering their air space. My mother would simply sigh deeply and bring the soiled clothes back in for another trip through the washing machine.

Insects also occasionally nested in the clothes pin bag, providing a surprise when one reached in to get a clothes pin.

And then there was the problem of storms, which happened frequently in my native South Carolina. My mother planned wash days in coordination with the weather report.

But there were those pop up showers that even the weatherman (in that time, it was only men who gave the weather) did not seem to know about.

The first roll of thunder was like yelling “incoming” during a war. We all knew our battle stations. We had a designated section of the line where we were to run and snatch the clothes off the line.

Though this was carefully coordinated, there were times when getting the clothes inside could have won us a spot on Candid Camera (and for you youngsters, I will have to tell you some other time what Candid Camera was).

We each headed for the house with our share of the wet clothes, often colliding on the way and having to decide in the rain who was leading and who was following!

When the day finally arrived that we got a

new machine called a clothes dryer, the clothes line was retired. Admittedly, it was easier to deal with drying clothes. But I kind of missed the sport of clothes hanging.

Clothes lines were an advancement before their time, using both wind and solar power!

This Is The Time Of Long Spoons …

There is a story told of people at a banquet with delicious food. They were not able to eat with anything other than long spoons.

Alas, the spoons were too long for them to feed themselves. And many only focused on this problem and how to work around it to get the food. This was described as hell.

In Heaven, everyone at the table was feasting and enjoying all the food. How? They were each feeding others with their long spoons. And others were feeding them.

My mother taught Sunday School for many years. She eagerly read each lesson and diligently studied The Bible, listening carefully to what The Lord wanted to teach her and what He wanted her to share.

As she aged, she began to have visual problems. She struggled to continue on what she was sure was her mission given her by God.

Finally she sorrowfully announced to the class that she was going to have to give up teaching because she could no longer read.

I knew nothing of this struggle. It was only after my mother’s death that a class member shared what happened next.

She said the class was devastated. They could not bear the thought of continuing without “Miss Pearl” teaching. So they came up with a plan.

They took turns reading the lesson out loud in class and then waited for “what Miss Pearl would say about it.”

They continued to receive the benefit of her teaching. And my mother received the joy of hearing the lesson and continuing to teach.

We are living in a world of long spoons right now. If we only concentrate on how to save ourselves, we will not make it. We cannot survive without each other.

Whatever your own condition, look at what you can give to others. It will come back to you and likely in ways you never imagined.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Matthew 5:7

True Worship

I was always restless in church. As a child, I remember being scolded for my inattentiveness to the preacher.

We went to a small church. There was no air conditioning. There were windows that opened to let in the occasional breeze. There were funeral home fans.

I remember gravitating to the open window. I remember hearing the birds sing. I saw people walking on the sidewalk outside.

The sky was so blue. The sun was so bright. The clouds were so fluffy. There was a wonderful breeze that day.

I was overcome with rapture. Even as a five year old, I was having my own worship experience.

The glory in my soul had to be expressed or I felt I would have burst. I expressed it. I talked out loud, drawing the attention of the congregation.

The preacher stopped preaching. The friends and neighbors looked with disapproval at both me and my parents.

Even those who had been soundly sleeping woke up from their naps to add their disapproving looks.

My normally loving parents looked horrified. My mother quickly scooped me up and took me out. I’ll spare you the rest of that day’s story. But the experience has stayed with me.

I love churches with open windows. I resist being packed into in a dark box of a building while being manipulated into how to feel by peppy music followed by slow music. And music that is sometimes so loud I can hardly hear myself sing.

I love going outdoors and singing and dancing with the sun, clouds, moon and stars. I feel connected with God’s Universe and all that He created.

I feel the presence of the “great cloud of witnesses” Paul says surrounds us.

While the pandemic has been awful, it has ushered in changes that were needed in many ways. Perhaps one of them is that we need to come out of the closed in buildings, look up and around us and realize when Jesus said, not only was He in us, but we are in Him.

The whole big beautiful world around us is Him! And He has new music for us to sing!

Five year olds understand. I want that part of me to always live on!

Sing a new song to the Lord! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!

Psalm 96:1

Jesus’ Body Given To You

“This is My Body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

1 Corinthians 11:24

Jesus did not show us how to die. He showed us how to live in a body created by God and infilled with God Himself.

The body that we are wearing is the external covering of The Spirit of God Himself.

Paul said,

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?

You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

When Jesus said He gave us His Body, He meant it. How it would change our thinking if we realized every moment that to get to wear Jesus’ Body on earth is an honor and responsibility!

Jesus took off His external body covering and gave it to us.

When He said, “Do this,” He was not just talking about communion. He was telling us to live in His Body in the same way He taught us to live.

Sister Teresa said, “Christ has no body but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.

Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks compassion into the world.

Yours are the feet which Christ walks to do good.

Yours are the hands through which Christ blesses the world.”

Hear Jesus speaking to you.

“This is My Body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

What God Wants From Us

Lent means different things to different people.

Some give up something for Lent. I have had friends who were in a season of bad moods as they tried to get through Lent without their coffee, chocolate or cigarettes.

The reasons they gave for this practice varied. Some saw it as a new beginning to life where they could kick bad habits.

Some saw it as participating in the suffering of Jesus (and those of us, who had to live with them in their suffering wondered why we had to suffer too. 😳)

Some encouraged us to give things we no longer needed to charities. They took Lent to be an opportunity to clean house with some added benefit to others.

However, to give something you no longer need hardly seems a sacrifice.

What about giving our most prized possessions to others? Are we ready to do that?

Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

Matthew 19:22

What does God want from us?

First of all, He wants us to do what He wants us to do in all seasons, not just in a calendar dictated season.

He wants us to follow Him, not tradition. Traditions can be prompts to remind us of how to best live our daily lives. But when we follow tradition as a false comforting routine, we are in danger of what Jesus warned us about.

“You nullify The Word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Mark 7:13

God wants us to be merciful. It may mean being merciful in small ways. Give up our parking space to someone else. Let that person go ahead of us in line. Pay for someone else’s meal.

It may mean being merciful in larger ways. Forgive the unforgivable. Give good for evil. Love our enemies and pray for their good.

God wants us to know Him. When we really get to know Him as our Merciful Father, we can receive His Mercy and let it flow naturally through us to others.

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Hosea 6:6

Jesus told us to “go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’”

Matthew 9:13

Jesus told one of His Students that he had spoken wisely when he said, “God is One and there is no other but Him. To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Mark 12:32-33

How will you use this time to really get to know God? Start by remembering all the times He has extended His Mercy to you.

Receive His Mercy right now.

Remember all the times He has extended His Mercy to others.

Praise Him and thank Him.

Ask Him how He would like to use you as a conduit of His Love, Mercy and Grace to everyone you meet.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love!

Psalm 103:8

Past, Present and Future — Gratitude, Joy and Hope

In 1994, we had our dream home built. We picked the land off a map. We had to hike across a field to even get an idea of where it would be.

It sometimes amazes me to realize that many of those who now live on our court never knew this land when it was just the land.

I wonder who walked this land long before we did. I wonder if they could have ever imagined us.

When our neighbors arrived, it was simply a nice neighborhood with houses and fences in place. They brought their own dreams and put them in place where others had left off.

Those who were children or teens themselves when our house was built now have children of their own.

And those children provided great entertainment for us this afternoon, as they enjoyed the snow.

Watching them gave me a great sense of gratitude for all that has happened here, joy in all that is happening now, and hope for the future. Who knows what Gifts God has yet to deliver!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

When Does Love Begin?

This is a repost from a couple of years ago. It is still true. I am so blessed to be spending this part of Eternity with The Love of My Life.

https://carolynpriesterjones.org/2019/09/01/when-do-two-hearts-become-one/

Are You A Good Lover?

Jesus was The Ultimate Lover. He loved those who followed Him. He loved those who didn’t.

He loved those no one else seemed to like, much less love. He touched those no one else would even go near.

He went to people’s homes and shared meals. He cooked for His Friends, even after He had been crucified.

He let Himself be interrupted. He was never too busy to stop and talk, forgive, heal or teach.

He was kind and compassionate.

He always told The Truth in Love.

He was faithful and reliable. If He said He would do something, He did it.

He saw the best in everyone. He didn’t remind them of their past failures. He told them of their future greatness. He told Peter he would be The Rock upon which He would build His Church, even when He knew Peter had a ways to go before the world would see Him that way.

He loved those who rejected Him, grieving for what He knew they were missing.

Jesus said, “You who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”
Luke 13:34

He forgave His Friends who could not even stay awake one hour and pray with Him in His time of need.

He forgave his not so loyal friend, who denied he even knew Him.

He received a kiss from a friend, even though He knew his friend’s kiss was for betrayal, not love.

He used some of His last breaths to assure His mother would be cared for. He gave his friend a mother. He gave His Mother a son.

He loved those who were torturing Him and killing His earthly body. He used some of His last breaths to ask His Father to forgive them because they did not know what they were doing.

The first drops of Jesus’ Precious Blood fell on those who were crucifying Him.

He prayed for you long before you were born, already knowing who you were and how His Love would be revealed to you and through you on earth. Read John 17 to see His Prayer.

In Jesus’ prayer to His Father, He prayed that we would be One with Him, His Father and all those in His Presence at that time. He was already knowing us and wanting us to be a part of Their Glorious Unity.

Jesus taught much, but He rarely “commanded” people to do things. However there was one thing that was so important He commanded us to do it.

“A New Command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My Disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35

This is what Jesus did NOT say:

Love the way you see other people love.

Love the way you see Love portrayed on tv, in the movies or in a good love story.

Love if it feels good.

Love only those who love you.
What Jesus DID say:

“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Go back and look at how Jesus loved. Reflect on how He has loved you. Make a conscious choice not to imitate His Love, but to let Him keep loving His World through you!