Welcome Home!

Recently we had a first time guest in our home.  I told him the story, as I tell all first time visitors of how I prayed for him long ago.

When we had our house built in 1994, I sat on the floor of the second story before there was even a roof.  I looked out across the court.  And I prayed for all who would one day come to our home.

I did not know them all, but I knew God did.  And He knew the exact moment our lives would intersect.

When people arrive, I let them know they were expected and are welcomed.

Paul tells us God knew the exact places we would live and when we would live there.

 God began by making one man, and from him he made all the different people who live everywhere in the world. He decided exactly when and where they would live.

Acts17:26

Today, as I was looking out the window and enjoying the view of our back yard, I thought of all the various people we have welcomed here.  And I heard God in my spirit.

He said, “I knew you were coming here long before you came.  I prepared this place for you.  I intended for you to live here in joy and peace.

And whatever you do here, know that you are working with Me to prepare this place for the ones who will live here one day.

Remember this is One of My Homes.  Even now I am preparing your next home for you.  When it is ready, I will come and take you there Myself.  I already know the exact time you will arrive.”

Jesus said,  “In My Father’s House are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also!”

John 14:2

In anticipation of our time here, we had a scripture cut into stone and bricked in by our front door.  We now offer it as a blessing upon all who come.

So if you have not been here yet, know when you arrive, you were prayed for long ago and you are welcome!

Gideon’s Angel

I am always intrigued to follow our grandson, Gideon, around the house and watch quietly.

He finds things I overlook.  He takes such delight in simple things.  He loves opening and closing cabinets, flipping strings on blinds around, beating on a bowl, or just watching how the sunlight changes the shadows on the wall.

Today I watched as he went to the bottom of the stairs and looked up with joy.  I prepared to distract him from going upstairs.

However, he simply looked up and talked in toddler talk, as if he were talking to someone.  He paused at intervals as if he was listening to someone talk back.  I saw no one.  

I did not do the usual “Grandma.   photographs or videos every moment of his life” thing. I felt I was witnessing a holy, intimate encounter … a fragile peek into a world not known by me or perhaps once known, but forgotten.

Gideon make several trips back to the foot of the steps, each time expressing great joy in reporting his latest discoveries.

Speaking of children, Jesus said, “I tell you that they have angels in heaven who are always with my Father in heaven. “

Matthew 18:10

Jesus also said we should allow the little children to come unto Him.  He said, “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Matthew 19:14

I don’t know if Gideon was talking to Jesus or one of his angels.  But I know when I look up those steps from now on, I will be thinking of who may be there.  And I will be calling forth my inner child.

Jesus also said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:3

I’m ready to follow Gideon into The Kingdom!

Laying Down Your Life

There is a difference in giving up your life and giving your life.

Jesus made it clear He was not giving up His Life and just leaving us a rich inheritance.  He was laying down one life only to take it up again in a different way.

He said, “The reason my Father loves Me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.”

John 10:17-18

We often think of those who died pursuing the desire to give someone else a chance to live.  However, we all too often overlook those who gave up the life they had planned to take up another life, whereby they give someone else the chance to live.

All around the world right now, there are care givers, who have sacrificed the life they could have had to be there for someone else.

There are parents caring for children who got older, but never reached a place where they could independently care for themselves.

There are adult children, who have given up their retirement dreams of seeing the world to stay home and care for aging parents.

There are faithful spouses, who took seriously their vows to honor each other in sickness and health.  They gave up their own dreams and put love into action.

There are those who gave up everything they hoped to have in this world to minister to others and bring healing and comfort to them.  They laid down their life so Jesus could work through them to bring eternal life to others.

Tonight I am thinking about a woman named Mary.  I have never met her and yet she has greatly influenced my life.

Mary married Bill Sweeney, had children and looked forward to a very different life from the one she was to choose.

As a young man, Bill was diagnosed with ALS.  The doctors predicted his life expectancy to be 3-5 years tops.  Instead God gave him 24 years with ALS.

As Bill became more and more debilitated, his dependence on The Mercy of God and the love of his ever faithful wife increased.

And from that broken vessel, God poured His Love to the world.  Even as Bill had to work very slowly through eye blinks to a computer to communicate, he wrote a blog appropriately called Unshakable Hope.

God directed me to Bill’s writings at a time in my life when I desperately needed hope.  His words were a healing balm to my soul.

However, the person responsible for the man with the message was Mary.  It was she who kept the hope alive in Bill.  It was she who faithfully toiled in the background in ways we never knew.

While I celebrated Bill’s being freed from his earthly body this past year, I felt extremely sad to know the blog postings from Unshakable Hope would stop.

Today I was delighted to find a new post from Unshakable Hope written by Mary.  I will include the link to the blog at the end of this post.

Once again The Words of Hope filled me up and now overflow to you.  God showed His Faithfulness and Mercy all throughout the unexpected journey of Bill and Mary.

And today, even in the midst of grief, God continued to bring His Words through Mary.  May we all receive The Hope God is offering and may it be, as it was for Bill and Mary — sure, firm and unshakable!

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of The Glory of God. 

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 

Now hope does not disappoint, because The Love of God has been poured out in our hearts by The Holy Spirit Who was given to us.

Romans 5:1-5

Here is the link to Mary’s Blog posting.

Here is a song of hope dedicated to Mary in gratitude for the life she laid down to give so many others life.

Walking With God

When I was little, I apparently had very klutzy dolls, because I was always bandaging up their “boo boos.”

When anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, without hesitation, I wanted to be a nurse.

I entered nursing school in the fall of 1966.

I had visions of floating into each injured or sick person’s life and doing something magical (that “something” I expected to learn about in nursing school) that would fix everything.

However, right away I discovered that there were some illnesses far worse than the ones I knew about. There were pains that went beyond agony and did not stop.

There were people who died, some not peacefully.

I almost quit in my first year. I was making good grades, but my heart was being broken over and over again.

I remembered giving an impassioned speech in my senior high school career class. I ended with the statement, “To be a nurse is to walk with God!” I wondered where He was.

I did stay in college for four years and graduated on June 4, 1970 with a BSN.

I had not learned anything magical about how to fix people, but I had learned a tremendous amount about God’s Presence in the midst of suffering. I had learned how some people were able to suffer and still be witnesses of God’s Love.

And I had seen the nurses who never quit. They never gave up. They stayed in the trenches, so some could get out.

Graduation Day was only the beginning of the nursing journey. Life after that day took me to many places as a nurse. I would have to write a book to share it all (and who knows, maybe I will!).

The one thing that sums it all up is still “to be a nurse is to walk with God.” But remember God goes all kinds of places you might not choose.

I taught nursing after a long career of working in hospitals. A student asked me if I had it to do over again, if I would still want to be a nurse.

I had to do some serious thinking before I answered.

My answer is yes. When God taps you to go on a Mission with Him, it’s an honor. Accept it with humility.

Happy Memories to the 1970 Nursing Class of Medical University of South Carolina!

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When All God’s Singers Get Home

When  I was in high school, I sang in the glee club.

We were divided into groups of high sopranos, sopranos, second sopranos, altos, tenors, baritones and basses.

Our music teacher sent each group to a separate room to learn our part of the music.  She never allowed us to hear the other groups.  So each group only knew their part.

After we had learned it really well, she began putting groups together, two at a time.  We were amazed at how well we fit together and yet had such different melodies.

Then came the grand day when she brought all the groups together.  Our amazement turned into pure awe as we heard ourselves sing.

We learned far more than music in that class.  We learned how it was possible to be very different, and yet fit together so perfectly under the direction of one who knew how to lead us.

We learned the joy of being a part of the whole.  After our first song, we worked in eager anticipation of how we were all going to fit together for the next song.

Life is like that.  We each work on our parts.  God puts us together as family and friends.  We work on doing life together.  But we still don’t know the whole story.

And until God brings us all together and we put in the parts we have learned, just as He directs, we will not know the whole story.  It is only then we will know the whole Joy of Heaven.

How I look forward to that day.  That will be the real Hallelujah Chorus!

I invite you to anticipate that great day as you listen to Gloria Gaither describe it.  Here is the link.

Remembering Morris McDaniel

In 1971 I was a member of The Waiting Wives Club in Charleston, South Carolina. We were so named because we all were waiting for the hopeful safe return of our husbands from Viet Nam.

There was a lady who never missed a meeting. She was so full of hope and encouragement for the rest of us.

It was a complete surprise when I discovered she had been waiting since 1967. Her husband was missing in action.

I joined the others in wearing a bracelet with her husband’s name on it. We joined her in the prayerful hope that somehow he would come home.

I wore that bracelet for a couple of years. His name was with me constantly. His name was Morris McDaniel.

Morris was born in Eastman, Georgia April 4, 1929. He lived in Fort Volley, Georgia at the time he left for Viet Nam. He looked forward to returning to his wife and three children.

Morris was in the Air Force and served as a fighter pilot. At the time he went missing, Major Morris L. McDaniel had flown nearly 100 combat missions.

On October 4, 1967, an F-105 Thunderchief (tail number 63-8346, call sign “Splendid”) carrying two crew members departed Korat Air Base, Thailand, on a night low-level strike mission over enemy targets in North Vietnam.

The last known contact with the aircraft occurred just after it refueled over northern Thailand and headed towards its target, and it was not seen again.

When the aircraft failed to return to base on schedule, electronic search efforts were conducted. The next day, search and rescue teams flew over the Thunderchief’s flight path but failed to locate a crash site or either of the crew members.

In 1973, 591 other American prisoners of war from North Vietnam. Morris McDaniel was not among them. It is said there were hundreds of men who were known or suspected to be prisoners who were not released.

I left Charleston in 1972 after the safe return of my husband. I lost contact with Mrs. McDaniel. However, I never forgot her.

I wonder how long she waited. How long before she took off the bracelet. I wonder if she ever believed he was truly gone … even as he was promoted to the rank of Air Force colonel in his absence … even as he awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (Posthumously) for heroism while participating in aerial flight … even as his name was added to the wall in this nation’s capital.

I wonder how she and her children lived the rest of their lives remembering him and considering whether he might still be alive, somewhere out there.

How long does one hope? If she remained as she was when I saw her after five years of waiting, I think she might still be waiting.

Or perhaps, by now, she might have joined him somewhere in the heavens. He would be 92 years old now in earth years.

In any case, this Memorial Day, I remember her and I remember him. And I pray for all the victims of war. I look forward to that time foreseen by the prophet, Isaiah.

“And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.

Nation will not lift up sword against nation,

And never again will they learn war.”

Isaiah 2:4

In Memory of Me …

Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember those who have died in wars.

The remembrance ceremonies began after the Civil War. There are a variety of stories about where such remembrances began.

As someone said, it is more important to remember the reason why we remember than to focus on who remembered first.

Among the possible firsts to remember the fallen were a group of former slaves in Charleston, South Carolina.

On May 1, 1865, in Charleston, South Carolina, recently freed African-Americans held a parade of 10,000 people to honor 257 dead Union soldiers, whose remains they had reburied from a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp.

Their act was one of gratitude and honor of those who had given their lives to free them.

Memorial Day and every day is a time to remember The One Who died to secure our lives and freedom from slavery to sin and death.

Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of The Lord’s favor!”

Luke 4:18-19

Then He took a loaf of bread, gave thanks, broke it in pieces, and handed it to them, saying, “This is My Body, which is given for you. Keep on doing this in memory of Me.”

Luke 22:19

As we begin Memorial Day weekend, I invite you to reflect and remember The One Who came to set you free.

Here is the link to a song of invitation.

https://youtu.be/WReXhV7MpI0

Life

Life … comes in seasons, in moments … in a time prescribed by The One Who created it.

Life … even when some call it a weed destined to be destroyed … blooms until its time is up.

Life … beautiful … delicate … destined to be blown gently apart from its Center and out into the world.

Today … in this moment … fully live Life!

What’s The Plan?

I have always loved planning and organizing. I love wading into a mess and seeing how I can transform it into something neat and orderly.

I am a list maker. I try to take what I know and make a five year or more plan that seems reasonable and possible.

I like routines. I like the thought that at a certain time I am going to do something. It gives me a feeling of security, like there really is a future and one where I will be comfortable.

If things don’t turn out as I planned, I always review in detail where I went wrong … what I overlooked … how I can be sure this never happens again.

I think God shakes His Head in sadness as He sees me trying to run His World and in the process, picking up many burdens I don’t need to carry.

I overthink things way too much.

I absorb far too many anxieties that turn into outright fears.

I struggle with information overload as I try to have enough knowledge to have power over my world.

For the past few years, our lives have been full of unplanned things, some disastrous, some exciting and joy filled. It seemed God wanted to teach us a lesson. When we did not get it to begin with, He presented it in another way.

What was that lesson? Quite simply, God is God and I am not.

In some of the most challenging of times, I asked The Lord where we were going. He said, “We are here.”

I thought He did not understand. I restated my case, “If I don’t know where we are going, how can I make a plan to get there?”

He repeated, “We are here.”

“But … but … but … what about the plan?”

He said, “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

“But,” I persisted, “When are You going to tell me the plan?”

I thought I heard a great celestial sigh. Then He said, “I did already. Here it is.

You are here.

I am here with you.

I have The Plan.

Follow Me, step by step.

I will tell you everything you need to know when you need to know it.

Trust Me.”

I take comfort in Paul’s admission that he was still working on some things, but he had not attained them yet.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!”

Philippians 3:12-14

Here is the link to a song about trusting God. I invite you to enjoy and reflect.

https://youtu.be/kxLV4zRmhm8

Fullness of Joy!

I love the benediction of Jude.

To Him Who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His Glorious Presence without fault and with great joy— to The Only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

Jude 1:24-25

Can you imagine The Joy of Jesus presenting you to all of Heaven finally without fault or sin!

No more crying. No more suffering. No more stumbling. No more sinning. Just free in The Complete Joy of The Lord, experiencing His Glory, Majesty, Power and Authority.

Looking around and seeing that you are joining the saints from all ages.

Jesus is full of Joy in your presence, as He welcomes you and presents you.

Our life verse is psalm 16:11.

In Your Presence is Fullness of Joy!

I invite you to reflect as you listen to this song. Here is the link.

https://youtu.be/0Bibakst1H0