Bears or Mine Fields, There’s Always Light at the End of the Tunnel

 

 

 

This past Easter I wrote a story about Light at the End of the Tunnel and remembered some of the tunnels I have been through in past years. I was far from thinking I might be encountering another tunnel in the near future.

Getting older doesn’t matter, that’s only a number. The real thing about aging is dealing with the many losses we suffer, the heart-ache of losing the one you love, and twice for some of us, along with the physical things that happen to this earthly body we inhabit—all these are truly mine-filled testing grounds. Definitely not for the weak—it’s been said many times, you have to be very strong to get old!

The past couple of weeks another tunnel reared its ugly head and the light at the end dimmed a little. It started with a knee that decided it did not want even an ounce of weight put on it. The knee is totally gone, bone on bone, saith the doctor, the only thing left to do is surgery, all else has been tried. So knee surgery was set for July 24 along with the many appointments you have to go to be poked and prodded and checked.

Then a scare at the urologist with some tests, ultrasound and another one that’s difficult to pronounce much less spell, and accompanied by two biopsies. Adding a bit more darkness to the tunnel was the eye doctor who found a spot on my retina she said could be cancer. She called me at home and said if I was having surgery this had to be checked out first and referred me to retina specialist. He put me through a 3-hour examination with the brightest lights you can imagine.

My world filled with mines ready to blow and I felt like I had stepped on some of them. Couple all the tests with my inability to walk without a walker and finally I had to have a wheelchair to get to the retina doctor. Have I mentioned the knee kept right on hurting regardless of what else was happening? Any one of these would have been enough but all together…let’s just say it was rather overwhelming!

In the midst of this and for the second time in my life, the Lord put the following verse in front of me in the middle of the night.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God,
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. –Isaiah 41:10. 

So I hung on…I admit my grip was a little shaky.

The knee surgery date was changed and rescheduled for July 31. Okay, I decided. I can deal with that, a rest from the turmoil is good. I need to recover from all the anxiety.

Then some answers started arriving, the biopsies came back negative; no cancer! Hallelujah!

The spot on retina is a freckle, only 1 in 3,000 every turns cancerous. Did you get that, a freckle on the back side of my retina—you tell me whether or not our Lord has a sense of humor!

Yea, this is better. I’m hanging on a little tighter while struggling to get around in my home!

I’ll give you three guesses to deduce what happened next—the first two don’t count. The surgery date was changed again and rescheduled for August 14. Now I have asked lots of friends for prayer and I have to give them still another date, hmmm, they are going to get tired of hearing from me! Plus my incredible daughters and granddaughters are now making the third written chart to show which one of them would be staying with me for the ten days following surgery!

That brings us up to today and I am asking, what is happening here? For the last couple of days, my knee has been gradually getting better. I don’t need the wheelchair but I’m still depending on the walker, I don’t quite trust the knee yet. However, I can walk around my house with only my cane which I have been doing for several years. The pain has lessened a whole lot and I can put weight on that leg, and I’m ignoring the loud pop and crackle noises that took the place of pain!

So I’m watching and waiting. Today, I listened online to a sermon by my pastor, Dr. Andy McQuitty of Irving Bible Church, about hope. The text was from John 5—about Jesus healing the man waiting by the pool of Bethesda. Pastor talked about practicing joy in the face of trouble and trusting in the Lord; that we matter to the Lord, and He values each of us greatly even though we may be broken and wounded.

So, my friends, I’m waiting to see if the knee continues to improve. If there is no pain, why have surgery? Surgery is still scheduled, but earthly schedules can be changed.

What I do know for certain is that the Lord is here to heal me either with surgery or without it. Of course, I prefer without! Either way, He will carry me and uphold me. And in the meantime He is asking me to be joyful, so I reach up with my right hand and hold tight.

Whether there are bears or mine fields to go through and get past, the light at the end of the tunnel burns bright. No matter which way this goes, practicing joy is a declaration that darkness cannot win!

 And I am all right, I’m in His Hands!

 

 

NOTE: Sermon at irvingbible.org, go to messages and click on July 23 or latest sermon. It may be a couple of days before posted—it is so worth watching!

Picture credit: Taken by me on a driving trip in Alaska in the 1990s, and we didn’t get out of the car.

Posted in General, God, Jesus Christ | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dad’s Story…The Great Depression, Bonnie and Clyde, and a Red Dress

 

 

 

Remembering my dad today has brought to mind a question he loved to ask—tell me what The Great Depression, the big city, Bonnie and Clyde, and a red dress have in common. Now on the surface they have nothing in common, but its dad’s story!

My mother and dad, Homer Hayes and Bernice Davenport, got married in 1932, right in the middle of the Great Depression. They left the farm and moved to the big city of Dallas, Texas. More than 15,000 people were out of work and on relief, and all were searching and scrambling to find work. No job was too small or too menial. If it paid a few cents, someone would grab it and be grateful. A job meant food for their families.

Dad was one of the lucky ones who found work. From 1933 until 1938 he delivered ice for fifty cents a day, now those were ten-hour-days back then—do the math. He started before dawn, loaded the blocks of ice into a truck, drove over the dirt streets, and stopped at the houses on his route that had an ice card in the window. Ice cards had a large number on each side, 25, 50, 75, or 100. The card was placed in a window showing how many pounds of ice that was needed. The ice man would grab the block of ice with huge tongs and throw it over his shoulder which was covered by a leather sheath. He’d haul it in the house and place it directly into the icebox.

Iceboxes were really “iceboxes”, not refrigerators. They were made out of wood and the part where the ice was stored was lined with tin. There was a hole in the bottom of the unit so that as the ice melted the water could drain into a pan. I remember mother sliding the pan out and emptying the water on her flower bed. Food was kept cool, not cold, and nothing was frozen. Children would chase the ice truck down the street in hopes of getting a few chips of ice to eat, a definite treat in hot Texas summers. Air conditioning was sitting out in the yard under a shade tree!

Dad loved to tell how he could have bought as much land as he wanted in the Trinity River bottom for less than fifty cents an acre. The first levee was built in 1928 in an attempt to control the flooding of the river. Dad always said that there were two reasons he didn’t buy any of this land. First, the Trinity River was like the Mississippi, it had a mind of its own, and you never knew when it would flood. And second, fifty cents was a whole day’s wages, and he had to feed his family and pay rent.

The next job dad got was climbing poles for Dallas Power and Light Company at a dollar a day. His salary doubled. He felt like he had struck it rich. Linemen were always on call as soon as bad weather hit the city. We knew that when the storms came and the wind blew hard, the phone would ring and dad would be called out in the middle of the night to repair lines. I remember crawling in bed with mother during those times. It always scared me to think about dad climbing the pole to work on electric wires during a storm.

World War II began as the Depression was ending in 1941 and large numbers of men rushed to enlist. Patriotism and love of America was at its height. DP&L froze a small crew of linemen deemed necessary to keep the city running. Dad was one of these men. After Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, he tried to join again, but was still on DP&L’s frozen list. He always regretted that he didn’t serve in the war.

On Sunday afternoon, December 7, 1941, I was at my best friend’s house and we were on the front porch playing jacks when her father came out and said, “Girls, I need to talk to you, come on in the house.” His gentleness and concern while he was telling us made an indelible impression on me, my first glimpse of the thread of God’s love. He started by telling us that we were all right, we were safe, and we didn’t have to worry. Then he told us about the attack on Pearl Harbor and that America was officially at war. He didn’t scare us, but he did explain what it meant for our country to be at war.

Nearly every family we knew had someone in the war. Every day when my friends and I walked to and from school, we would watch the windows of the houses we passed for a Service Flag. If someone from that house was in the war there would be a blue star on the flag hanging in the window, sometimes more than one. If a family member was killed, the blue star was replaced with a gold one representing the ultimate sacrifice. A silver star stood for someone who had been wounded in action. The war and what sacrifice meant became very real to us. Every time we saw a gold star appear, we’d rush home to tell our parents.

Dad stayed with DP&L until the mid-forties when he got hit by lightning. A lineman was strapped to the pole when they climbed. Picture a heavy leather strap wider than a belt going around the pole and the man’s body. The man had spikes on his boots, and he climbed by slamming the spikes into the wood pole and pushing back on the strap for support. When a man was working on the electric connections at the top of the pole, he dug the spikes in and leaned back on the strap so that his hands would be free. This is where dad was in the middle of a dark and stormy night when lightning struck him. It hit dad on the hand, traveled through his body and came out his foot leaving him unconscious. When the other men that saw this happen, saw dad hanging limply by the strap, legs dangling, they thought he was dead.

There were no big trucks with extension ladders or buckets to lift men up and down so one of the crew climbed the pole and carried my unconscious, over two-hundred-pound dad down the pole in the midst of a blinding thunderstorm and frequent lightning strikes. It was only by God’s mercy that dad and his friend survived. There was a small hole in dad’s thumb where the lightning went in and a very large exit wound where it came out his foot. The rubber sole on the boot he wore was completely melted. Do I need to tell you that dad never climbed another pole? After that, he went to work for a company wiring new homes, repairing old ones, and staying on the ground.

Yes, dad came to Texas in a covered wagon when he was a little boy.

 And yes, he broke his back when he fell off a ladder and then drove home to tell us.

 Yes, it’s true — mother and dad sat and talked with Bonnie and Clyde one night at a watermelon stand on Jefferson Avenue in Dallas way back in the 1930s.

 And yes, the threads of God’s love were stamped indelibly on and around my life even though I wasn’t aware of it at the time.

 So where does the red dress come in, you ask.
Well, truth will out — my mother wore red when she and dad married
in 1932.

 Thank you for being my dad
And
Teaching me how to live and love

Posted in Dallas, Fathers Day, General, Great Depression | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A Little Rain Must Fall … Or Raindrops Falling on My Head

 

 

 

I love rainy days.
I love to curl up in my soft, overstuffed chair with a cup of tea and some cookies and listen to the rain.
Of course, I also have a book in my hand, it is perfect reading weather. I love the sound so much I have a machine that plays gentle rain sounds when I go to bed at night. You can even download the sounds of rain on your cell phone or computer at rainymood.com. Caution: it will relax you and could put you to sleep!

It was an ordinary Friday. I did errands in the morning and ended up at the grocery store as I usually do. A few clouds dotted the sky and the sun was peeking through when I left the store with a basket of groceries. I glanced up at the sky thinking the weatherman was wrong again it was going to be a nice day.

Was I ever wrong! I was putting the groceries into the trunk of my car when the sky opened up—it felt like someone or something threw a bucket of water on me. Dare I even mention that one of my earlier errands was the hairdresser? Now this was not a gentle rain, this was not Dancing in the Rain type of drops; this was a sideways gush of water almost knocking me down.

I quickly shoved the dripping sacks into an already water-soaked trunk and hurried to get in the car. When I opened the door the wind shifted and the invisible entity poured water on the seat—there was a puddle where I had to sit. Feeling somewhat insulted I sat down in it and drove toward home, I had no choice.

You can imagine the feeling as I squirmed in water with more water dripping out of my hair and down my face—not good, not good at all! Now I am not much of a singer, but alone in the car is another matter and songs kept running through my head, Come Rain or Come Shine, Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head, Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall, and Willie Nelson’s Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, and I finally had to laugh. There are just some situations that are so ridiculous all you can do is laugh. After all, it was very clean water from Heaven!

I got home and dripped my way through the house and got out of the drenched clothes, and I mean all of them. I had a doctor’s appointment so I rushed to dry my hair and repair the mess as best I could. I unloaded my car, and it took three large, thirsty towels to soak up the standing water and another to pad the driver’s seat. I made the appointment in a relatively dry condition—however my mood was still a little wet.

Some days you just can’t win—it was raining when I came out so without hesitation I joined the group of dry people sitting on benches under the portico and waited!

I’m sure there is a moral to this story and something I need to learn, but I’ll leave that to your imaginations with this final thought….

“Be still, sad heart! And cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall

–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Light at the End of the Tunnel … Then and Now

 

 

 

I woke up early thinking about tunnels and how there is always light at the end of a tunnel, evidently I had been dreaming about them. This picture was in my mind and I knew it was from an album I made of a trip in 1975, and I had to get up and find it. My coffee and I spent several hours looking at the pictures and shedding happy tears remembering when I took my parents to visit Washington, D. C.

We drove the Skyline Drive in Virginia and the trees were in glorious October color—after the first seven tunnels carved their way through the mountains we quit counting. Each tunnel was different, some twisted through the mountain, others like the picture went straight through, and all varied in length.

Later in that trip we had the experience of a very different tunnel. It was the 17-mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel connecting Virginia Beach and Cape Charles, Virginia. When we started driving onto the bridge it felt like we were driving into the ocean, after about three miles the bridge dipped and disappeared under the sea into the first of the tunnels. It’s a very eerie feeling, the tunnel is well lit, but you know you are under the ocean and you can hear the roar. It comes up about midway and there’s a restaurant, gift shop, view points, and a fishing pier. After spending time there, we got back in the car and drove the rest of the way; you have no choice at that point because it is the only way to get back to land. There were two more tunnels and lots of low level bridges before we reached the other side.

The one consistent thing about tunnels is they all came into the light at the end. It doesn’t matter if they have blasted through a mountain or gone under the ocean; it doesn’t matter how long or short they are, what matters is that the light is always there.

Now you know my mind works in strange ways and I began to see that we all go through different tunnels in our lifetime. The so-called Texas winter of 2016-17 was one such tunnel for me, it never really got cold and allergies ran rampant from October to April. The dreaded pollen kept me down and out, and I backed out of nearly all my activities. However, there was light at the end—at long last my allergies seem to be under control.

I’m remembering many other tunnels in my life, times of day-to-day boring activities, times of taking care of a very sick loved one, and times of grief when I couldn’t see the light. I’m thinking you might be remembering a few tunnels you have gone through, too.

The thing is—the light was always there if I looked for it. The light of the world came wrapped in human form more than 2000 years ago. This little baby who was born in a manager grew up and took on himself the sins of the world when he died on a cross, but the light didn’t stay out. He defeated death and forever brought light to this world when He rose three days later.

He became the light for me at the end of a long tunnel of grief years ago. This tunnel began in 1977 when my first husband died. Bill and I met at thirteen and when he died, my world shook, my security was gone, and I didn’t seem to fit anywhere. I began searching for what I called peace of mind. My search came to a climax in a restaurant parking lot when in desperation I threw up my arms and cried out to God “I give up, do with me what you will.” I’m sure people were staring at the crazy woman talking to herself, and yes, I was crazy—I had reached the end, I could not go on alone.

The Light was waiting for me at the end of that tunnel and the Lord showered His peace over me. As time passed I found that sorrow and grief burned up a lot of unnecessary things in my life, however, it also brought gifts. One gift it presented me with was my self. It showed me who I was in Christ, and I began to realize what it meant to be a child of the Living God.

After my mom, dad and I drove under the ocean through that long Chesapeake Bay Tunnel and came out on Virginia Beach, we stopped to view the waves. My dad promptly got out of the car and walked to the edge of the water. He bent down and rolled his pants legs up and went wading.

 

“Now, I’ve seen everything,” he said, “I didn’t think I’d ever see the ocean, much less get to walk in it.”

I don’t know if you can see the grin on my dad’s face but it was a big one, and mine was too. Seeing my dad’s face light up with joy made the long drive through that dark tunnel was so worth it—what a special gift that was.

Tunnels—they show up in many different ways, its part of life and they are not all easy ones and we struggle to reach the light. What we have to remember is that the Light of the World is with us even in the tunnels…and that is what makes the darkness disappear.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said,
            “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”      –John 8:12

 

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Reminiscing about Time … From a former Caretaker of Clocks

grandfather-clock

 

 

Tick tock, tick tock
grandfather clocks, chiming clocks, anniversary clocks, table clocks, handmade clocks, digital clocks, battery clocks—these were a few of the clocks ticking away in my home.    Tick tock, tick tock…

At least that’s what they were supposed to do! Tick tock, tick tock—my husband loved clocks and when he was here they never seemed to stop. Since he’s been gone, there was always one or two silently demanding my attention, and I attempted to keep them going because he loved them. Somehow, if the clocks were ticking and grandfather was chiming, I felt better…

And then I moved. Grandfather came with me and has refused to tick or chime again, but time hasn’t stopped, it continues on in its perpetual journey. I sometimes wonder if the clocks that didn’t come with me still tick or if they stopped too. Tick tock, tick tock…

Clocks have been on my mind lately as the seconds and minutes turn into days, weeks, months, and years. Do you know that by the time a person reaches the age of 75, the clocks and watches of this world will have ticked away nearly 2.5 billion seconds! Trivia, yes, but my nit-picky mind just showed up, and now, I am wondering if God has a clock.

In 1947, scientists created what was called the Doomsday Clock to symbolically show how close the world was to a nuclear holocaust. It is based on nuclear security, sea levels, atmospheric carbon dioxide, global temperature differences, arctic sea ice, emerging dangers, cyber threats, bio security, and other threats.

In 1953, the hands were set to two minutes before midnight after the U. S. tested a hydrogen bomb. Since then the hands have been reset and pushed back more than 15 times.

In 2011 when I first wrote about the Doomsday Clock, it was 5 minutes to midnight.

In 2015, it moved from 5 to 3 minutes before midnight.

And 2017, the minute hand has moved again from 3 to 2-1/2 minutes to midnight.

Throughout the centuries, many have tried to foretell the future and set the hands of God’s clock by predicting the hour of Christ’s return. And yes, we’d all like to know so we could be ready. The Bible makes it clear that God has a timetable, but Christ said no one knows about it except the Father (Matthew 24:36). It appears that God’s “eternal clock” is ticking.

The Bible also tells me that “with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” Oh, yes, I‘ve definitely had a few days that seemed a thousand years long. I bet you’ve had some of those, too.

There’s a lot about “time” in the Bible, five hundred references to be exact. Many of the verses tell us there is a time and place for everything. In other words, my timing and God’s timing may not always coincide. Ecclesiastes has much to say about timing.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a  time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
–Ecc. 3:1-8

God says that “All the days ordained for me were written in His book before one of them came to be.”(Psalm 139:16). I struggled with this when I watched my husband’s last days crawl slowly by while he was trapped in mental confusion and in a body that couldn’t move without help.

Tick tock, tick tockthen I remembered that God’s eternal clock is not dependant on the man-made Doomsday Clock—that God is not hampered by age and infirmity. God has no problem talking to a confused mind, and I was and am comforted because I know God and my husband spent lots of time together during his healthy years.

The conundrum of time is that it’s always changing. Across this country are several time zones and still more around the world. Of course, we can’t forget the confusion of daylight savings time. I remember when I was a child it felt like an eternity from Christmas to Christmas. Now, it seems I just get the decorations put away and I have to get them out again. The clock seems to be ticking faster as I get older.

So I ask myself, while I am healthy in mind and body…
Did I make this day count? Did I start and end my day with Him?
Did I do what God planned for me, what He has written in His Book?
Am I making the most of the seconds, minutes, hours, and days that God has allotted me?
Did I really value my time today, realizing that beyond earthly time lies eternity?

Am I casting my shadow in eternity, or only in this fleeting world?

The eternal clock is ticking …

Tick tock, tick tock

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Love and Marriage … Remembering January 22, 1982

1982-wedding-reception-jan-22

 

 

 

 

Ray and I would have been married 35 years today and I’m remembering a wonderful man.

Ray  came on the scene in the midst of my grief at the loss of my first husband and during my battles with Almighty God. I’m fully convinced God sent him to me.

Ray, my bull-in-a-china-closet husband—those of you who knew him understand this, was patient and kind. He understood; he had lost his wife of many years the year before.  He prayed for and with me for five long dark years. He told me after we married God had made it clear to him that we would marry someday. He said he didn’t want to tell me that before because he was fearful it would scare me away!

Love and marriage in older years is different from the falling in love of the young. We’ve had a lot of life experiences and we see differently than we did in our young days. It was the slow steady growing of a deep love that blossomed over time. And eventually we made a loving caring decision to share a life together. It is two people who look at one another in full realization of each others’ personality, including faults, and make the choice to love.

There have been two incredible men in my life, two men who could not have been more different and two completely different lifestyles. Having lived both marriages, the young falling in love one and the mature choosing to love marriage, I want to say both can be wonderful, one is not necessarily better than the other, just different.

Being a writer, I tend to look at my life in chapters and there was a long period of solitude between these two chapters. Not a happy one, but one filled with grief and the struggle to find out who I was without a husband and to find a purpose in life. Lots of wakeful nights filled with tears, hot milk, and candlelight while wrestling with Almighty God over being alone.

Somehow God always makes Himself very clear in my mind. He lets me rant and rave until I am worn out and have no other place to go then He steps in and says, “I’m here. I’m waiting for you. When you settle down, we’ll get on with your life.” He never rushes me. He is a patient, merciful, and generous God who waits for each of us to find our way to Him. And when we do He says, “Welcome, I love you.”

When Ray departed for his heavenly home in 2011, the dark days settled in again, but not the wrestling with God this time. I knew He was with me and would carry me, and He has. Getting old alone is not what I would have chosen, and truthfully I wonder why it has to be, but I no longer question God’s plan. My days were written in God’s book (Psalm 139) before I ever came to be, and while I’d like to know more, it’s probably best I don’t. I’d always be worried about the future and not living in the present. Remember, the present moment is really all we have; yesterday is gone and tomorrow never comes.

Day by day, I often close my eyes and remember the many blessings and happiness of the chapters of my life secure in the knowledge that God walks with me every day. So where am I going with this long tale—I’m not really sure except to say that the only one who will be with you every day and every minute of your life is Almighty God. And He never fails you.

For the rest of the story—I’ve been assured the best is yet to be, and I’m excited to see what unfolds each day, and what will be beyond this earthly realm. Life is not over when we leave earth and move to heaven!

I’m not certain how things work in heaven, but I do know that my Bill and my Ray will be waiting for me. There will be a grand reunion with rejoicing, and all will be made right with no more tears or sadness.

And what a day that will be, so until then …

Happy Anniversary to my dear Ray…
Thank you for so many loving years filled with fun and laughter…
Remembering my Ray today …
January 22, 1982, with joy in my heart.

Posted in Anniversary, General, God, marriage, Wedding | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Christmas Wishes … What is it you really, really want for Christmas?

nativity2

 

Maybe a day with family, maybe to go back 10, 20, 30 or 40 years and enjoy a treasured day …

Maybe to spend Christmas Eve with a loved one who has left this earthly abode for a new residence in heaven …

Maybe to be a little child again … and feel the excitement and anticipation of Santa Claus coming to bring presents … Remember how exciting it was to slip out of a cozy bed and Christmas morning and race to see if Santa brought the desires of our heart? A little doll, a new book, a stocking filled with apples and oranges and candy canes … oh, the desires of our hearts were so simple then.

And now today, when so many blessed Christmas Eves have come and gone, Santa’s red suit has made a subtle change, He now wears a little blanket and lies in a manager filled with straw and His name is Jesus, the Christ child.

He came as a little baby, not to scare us but to woo us, to invite us, to plead with us to believe in Him, and to accept the greatest gift of all time, the gift of Almighty God through His Son Jesus Christ.

We often pass the year without seeing Him, we become accustomed to doing it all ourselves, to thinking this world is all there is. We tend to put ourselves on the throne and let the childlike awe of what Christmas really is slip away to some seldom opened memory that gets stored in the back of our minds.

Every year we open that memory a little, but that’s not enough, we need to pause and be still. Make that cup of tea or hot chocolate or hot spicy cider and curl up in your cozy chair and read the Christmas story (Luke 2) one more time. Give yourself the gift of being still, the gift of time with the Christ Child, the greatest gift ever given. Read the story of Jesus birth and think about it. The stores will still be there, the shopping will get done.

And then ask yourself the question, what is it I really, really want for Christmas?

I want to remember the baby Jesus who was born so long ago, who grew up, and who took my sins into His body and died for me on that fated cross.

I want to remember the greatest gift of all—Jesus paid for all my sins and secured my place with Him in the heavenly realms for all eternity.

What an incredible gift … and all we have to do is believe in Jesus Christ.

So, my dear ones, what is it you really, really want for Christmas?

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Unexpected treasures … My dad showed up for me one more time

daddy-1939-dpl

1939-1940
Dallas Power & Light crew and truck.
(My dad: 2nd man from the right)

Life often surprises us with unexpected treasures, my dad showed up for me a few days ago. I was searching through old files trying to find the address of my parents’ home in the Denton county area. I didn’t find it, but what I did find astounded me.

In a ragged, old cardboard box there was a yellowed envelope with my handwriting on the front saying, Daddy gave this to me after Bill died in 1977. I opened it and pulled out two typed pages and looking quickly to the end I saw daddy had signed it Homer. I’m sure I read it then, but I have no memory of it. It was his way of telling me when you fall you get up and do the best you can, of showing me how to keep living, and how to move forward through grief.

Before I share his words, you’ll understand better if you know a little about my dad. Born in 1910, he grew up on a farm where cotton and peanuts were the main crops. When my parents married in the middle of the Great Depression, they moved to Dallas and dad found a job delivering ice to people’s homes, not very exciting, but it paid the bills. His next job was climbing poles and installing or repairing electric lines for Dallas Power & Light Company where he worked for many years until he was struck by lightning, but that’s another story for another time!

He did physical work all his life and took responsibilities seriously. He taught me a great respect for authority, but that too is another story, so I’ll just say that “as long as my feet were under his dinner table” I had to obey his rules. He also taught me that there was nothing a man could do that a woman could not if she put her mind and determination to it—except for lifting very heavy things! I don’t think this was the norm back in the thirties and forties.

Now this was a man who finished high school, but never graced the doors of a college. This was the man who had tears running down his face when I graduated from college. This was a man who was always reading while I was growing up, after all, television wasn’t around then. This was the man who gave me a dictionary for my tenth birthday.

When dad was walking me down the aisle of the church to be married, this hard-working man of few words whispered, “Remember you can always come home.” The first time I called him after I was married and asked for his help on repairing something, he told me to ask my husband, that I was married now. And I said, “But daddy, he doesn’t know how to fix this.” He quietly told me to have my husband call him.

How I wish I had found and read this when I was not buried in grief and could talk to him about it. Now I see a profound thinker, a lover of words, and perhaps even a writer who never had the opportunity to follow his heart. And I never knew … my tears are flowing now.

So, here are the words of my philosopher dad as he once again assumes responsibility for his widowed daughter while she is plowing her way through the paperwork death requires, decisions about keeping or selling their home, keeping or selling their advertising agency and building, in other words, how to move forward when the world falls apart at 42 years old, all decisions no one in the middle of life should ever have to make …

Thoughts
No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his well-being in a great cause.  –Theodore Roosevelt

It is the tragedy of things spiritual that they languish if unorganized and are contaminated by the material needs of this organization. –Will Durant

Always tell yourself: the difference between running a business and ruining a business is I. – Anonymous

By every part of our nature we clasp things above us, one after another, not for the sake of remaining where we take hold, but that we may go higher. –H. W. Beecher

It is not for man to rest in absolute contentment. He is born to hopes and aspirations.  –Robert Southey

A purpose is the eternal condition of success. – Theodore T. Munger

Though a little one, the masterword (work) looms large in meaning. It is the open sesame to every mortal, the great equalizer in the world, the true philosophers’ stone which transmutes all the base metal of humanity into gold. –William Osler

The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream. – William Shakespeare

He who is not liberal with what he has does not deceive himself when he thinks he would be if he had more. – William S. Plumer

We should look to the end in all things. –Homer E. Hayes
(Dad hid one of his own ideas in the middle.)

Life is eating us up. We shall be fables presently. Keep cool: it will be all one a hundred years hence. Ralph Waldo Emerson

We sometimes from dreams pick up some hint worth improving … by reflection. –Thomas Jefferson

The beginnings of all things are weak and tender. We must therefore be clear-sighted in the beginnings, for, as in their budding we discern not the danger, so in their full grown we perceive not the remedy. –Michel DeMontaigne

Ambition is an idol on whose wings great minds are carried to extremes, to be sublimely great, or to be nothing. –Shakti Gawain

We are in the world like men playing at tables; the chance is not in our power, but to play it is: and when it is fallen, we must manage it as we can. – Jeremy Taylor, Lord Bishop of Down and Connor

I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any. – Mahatma Gandhi

The fundamental principle of human action … is that men seek to gratify their desires with the least exertion. – Henry George

Is every effort you put forth part of a large life scheme? Does every brick you lay contribute to the building of a structure whose plans you keep constantly in your mind’s eye? …Thank heavens the material for building air castles has not gone up in price! And the man or woman – especially the young man or woman – who has lost the ambition and the energy to build one is in a pitiable state indeed. Consider the end from the beginning. That, it seems to me, sums up the whole thing. – Bertie Charles Forbes

I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. –Albert Schweitzer

I like men who have a future and women who have a past. –Oscar Wilde

But by the grace of God I am what I am. –1 Corinthians 15:10

Daddy merely signed it:  Homer.

I have a multitude of questions — where did my dad learn these? There was never extra money for books so did he secretly spend time at the library reading or did he learn these from the newspaper of which he was an avid reader. Could he have remembered these from high school? Did he have all these memorized or did he have a photographic memory?

I look back to childhood and I see clues in the way I grew up, I see in each of the quotes how dad lived his life and how he taught me.

daddy-1939-dpl-2I hear him saying — we all fall sometime or another, but it’s all about getting up and what you do when you get up.

I am astounded he showed up for me right now, I needed his counsel. I’m grateful for an incredible dad, and I’m grateful for the reminder it isn’t all up to me, it is only by the grace of God.

Thank you, Dad, Homer E. Hayes

 

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In the blink of an eye … everything can change forever

2016-peyton-and-lucy-walking-sept

 

 

 

 

In light of what is happening in our country today, my mind has run rampant again, you know this nit-picky mind of mine, and I need to remember a gentler time in America.

I remember when no one locked doors, when we didn’t have to check the back seat of our cars before we get in, when anger wasn’t the norm, and when the media reported the truth not their personal viewpoints. I remember when cars didn’t get a dent at 5 mph, and when we didn’t hear about murders every day.

I remember when people talked without yelling, when we walked and visited with neighbors in the evenings after dinner, when we made ice cream in a crank freezer and argued over who got to lick the dasher. I remember the 4th of July with hot dogs, lemonade, and watermelon, foot races and tag, and maybe a couple of sparklers! Simpler times!

I remember when television made us laugh with the crazy antics of I Love Lucy and the Carol Burnet Show, and yes, they were silly and they didn’t make a statement, but laughter is healing and healthy. I remember when the television went to a test pattern at midnight, and when people read books—not IPads, cell phones, Kindles, and other electronics reading devices.

I remember when the Ten Commandments were posted in the school rooms, when compassion and good sense triumphed over political correctness, and when honor and integrity were the norm.

It seems like it all disappeared in the blink of an eye … It seems that each day I see more fractures in the constitutional structure of America, and I wonder if it will ever be the same again.

Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee of Scotland, said in 1854 that “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back into bondage.”

Ronald Reagan quoted Tytler admonishing the people of America with these words in a speech he gave one hundred years later on March 5, 1964. And we failed to hear.

History always repeats its self and it’s easy to see that the United States has fallen into a state of entitlement that we deserve everything when in reality what we have is the result of sacrifice on the part of many people who paid dearly for the American way of life. We have pushed our core values away and are now pushing past apathy into dependence on what Big Brother can do for us.

My heart cries for my children, grandchildren, and great-grand children who may never know the freedoms I enjoyed during my lifetime, the joy of learning to take care of myself, the joy of earning my own way, and the joy of accomplishment. America has been the heartbeat of the world, the country where everyone wanted to live because they had the opportunity to build a better future. However, that has changed—entitlement and dependence on the government is leading directly into the bondage of socialism and communism where ambition and opportunity dies. Historically, most nations that have fallen were not caused by invasion but of moral decay from within.

I wish we could have a David in the White House, one who is not afraid to face the enemy, one who will face the giants and stand up for the Constitution of America, one who has the ability to identify the giants and the courage to face them, one who really believes in the principles America was founded upon, and one who has the integrity to uphold the laws, one who does not promote himself to the detriment of the people, one who will not give America away for self-glorification, one who will champion America in an honorable manner, and one who will support and defend Israel, and one who will allow prayer in the name of Jesus Christ.

Sadly, there’s no David on the horizon, sigh, and we can’t go back to the gentler times in America, sigh, we have to lock our doors and be vigilant when we walk through parking lots, our cars will still get dented at 5 mph, and the media will continue to exaggerate, rephrase, and repeat itself ad nauseam. And very few people will make homemade ice cream in a crank freezer anymore, sigh, it was so delicious on a hot day in the park! Simpler times indeed!

I can keep sighing but it doesn’t help, the only direction any of us can go is forward. The adrenaline surge of fight or flight must come to an end and the time to choose is almost here. I have chosen my path—have you?

Once again I had to remember Almighty God is in control and He holds the future of our country in His hands so I have prayerfully made a decision. I have found that 1 Peter is a book of hope for our world today — Peter says we are all pilgrims living in this world but our hope is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and I will add, not in the president! I’m grateful for this hope, it’s an anchor for my soul, it’s firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:19)

And on this I stand.

Here’s my challenge to each of you—commit yourself to pray earnestly and daily for your choice and for the soul of America, for Almighty God to work in and through whoever is elected president, and for God’s will to be done.

Almighty God is my anchor … and the anchor holds!

             The question is … Will yours?

 

Picture credit:  Taken in Phoenix, Arizona — Peyton and Lucy, two of my five great-grandchildren.
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Just sayin’ …Where in the world did it all go?

1956 Leaving for Kansas City

 

 

Many of us who’ve watched the political scene in America for decades are wondering what happened to honesty and integrity. We can remember when a man’s word was his bond. We remember when truth was significant. We remember when dignity was a virtue.

My first introduction to the political world was in 1956. I started working at a legal firm which was the home office of President Harry S. Truman in Independence, Missouri. It was an entirely new world for this naive Texas girl on her first trip out of the Lone Star State. It was a world in which I had no way to relate, a world of intrigue and mysterious meetings, of power-hungry men, known as the Kansas City political machine, who blew in and out like tornados creating all kinds of confusion and demanding their own agendas and preferential treatment.

Most of the time I existed in a baffled state of mind, but it was an eye-opening experience and I learned that anything to do with politics is never what it appears to be. I learned that behind every political figure is a shadowy figure pulling the “strings.” I learned that promises made in the heat of a campaign are basically only rhetoric and for the most part mean nothing.

As time passed I came to have a deep respect for President Truman, he was a man who stood by his principles in the face of great opposition. He believed in America and that people are basically good. He believed in the Constitution of the United States and considered it his job to uphold and preserve it. During the time period I knew him, I never saw him shift blame to another person or blame another for what happened. I learned the measure of a man is what he does when no one is looking.

Many of you might remember the plaque that stood on his desk in the oval office in the White House. It also adorned his desk in Independence during the time I knew him. The plaque merely said “The buck stops here.” It served him as a reminder that no matter what happened, or who was at fault, the man in charge was ultimately responsible. He never played the blame game.

And now, during this election year I am wondering,
What happened to truth and integrity?
What happened to right and wrong?
What happened to respect and consideration for one another?
Where did accepting responsibility for actions go?

I am heartily sick of the backbiting and sarcasm and nasty comments from all candidates. I am disappointed in the half-truths and exaggerations that undermine all credibility and exhaust the voters. I am saddened for the future of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren who see no honor in our public figures. I am saddened for my many friends, regardless of political leanings, who have been put down or devalued for their opinions. This freedom of speech is a basic liberty protected by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States.

I thirst for a candidate who would offer truth and hope instead of political warfare, one who would speak to us as rational adults rather than simpletons whose votes can be bought with tongues less than honest. We’ve still got two months to get through—sigh—and I doubt that things will get any better.

When we go to the polls in November, we will be faced with electing a person for the highest office in our country whom more than half the nation distrusts. And the candidates have done this to themselves by dirty politics, underhanded tactics, and political agendas that value power over public service.

One more thing I learned working for President Truman was that public figures—politicians—must answer to an authority bigger than the presidency. President Truman often said that an elected man has two bosses, the Almighty God and the American people who elected him. He would end with the statement if he ever forgot that he would become totally useless to the nation.

Baffled again? You bet I am. As I seek to find peace of mind midst the turmoil, I remember many elections during my lifetime. There have been people who didn’t think they could live with the outcome and that they would have to move to another country. Did they? No, life went on pretty much the same way it always had.

Presidents come and go, but our families and friends do not. They are here to stay and our lives will continue pretty much the same, no matter who is elected. We live our lives in a much simpler way than politicians do, we hold on to what is good and true.

The bottom line is that most of us don’t live in the world of politics, of shadow governments, and hidden agendas. We live with our feet firmly planted on the ground. I am grounded when I remember the most precious thing in this world today is not the election, not the political system, not the government, but my family and friends where trust and integrity still matters.

So what can we do? We make the best choice we can while remembering Almighty God created each of us unique and gave each of us the right to make our own choices. The most important thing we can do is to pray for our family, friends, country, president, congress, and the Supreme Court.

At the end of the day, we must all reach the place where we leave the outcome of this election to a Holy God and just trust Him. After all, He created the world and all in it.

Just sayin’…
Family and friends are what matters…this is where my heart is.

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