Tag Archives: Billy Graham

PROMISES OF PEACE

In the midst of the past month, we watched two hurricanes pass our way. One with lots of rain – the other with lots of wind. The huge trees that litter many yards and crumpled cars and homes around us is a testimony of winds that exceeded any tornado winds I ever saw in OH.

When I drove to church this morning, I realized how blessed we truly are. The loss of electric and internet are minor inconveniences compared to the utter destruction of homes, businesses, and communities in FL.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the WORD of our GOD stands forever.”~Is 40:8

I’ve been reading a lot more over the past few days – done some cross stitch – finished lots of cryptograms (my favorite kind of puzzle) – started working on a couple other Christmas things – and done a lot of praying for those who have absolutely nothing left after Hurricane Michael passed over them.

Yesterday, our power returned and we were able to turn off the generator that had kept our food cold and our water running. 
Today, our congregation was prayed over by missionaries from Africa, and tears streamed down my face. Tomorrow night our church is packing 60 thousand meals to send off to FL, and I get to pick up the Grands. My life is returning to normal while many people will be months and maybe years from normal.

“Neither death nor life…nor things present nor things to come…shall be able to separate us from the love of GOD.”~Rm 8:38-39

I’ve been reading a Billy Graham devotional from 2002 off and on this summer and fall. Throughout the past few days, the prayers centered on praising GOD in all things – especially in difficult times – just as Job did in the OT. I especially identified with this quote full of hope and promise:

“It’s easy to praise after the fact when we receive the healing, the restored relationship, and the financial windfall. It is a true and mature faith that praises GOD in the midst of the trial and trusts Him even before the outcome is revealed.”~Rev. Billy Graham, Oct 14, 2018

And so it was.

As Hubby and I stood on the porch or in the garage and watched the rain so thick that we couldn’t see our neighbors’ homes – were astounded when the top of tall trees reached for the ground – mourned a little when the banana tree’s leaves shred in even tinier slivers or broke completely – listened to our dogs whine and pace while kitty hid in the back room curled in my office chair where she spent so many days as a kitten, I chose to give thanks. I chose to remember to trust. I chose to offer continual prayers of thankfulness. I chose to rely on His promises and found peace in the midst of the storm.

Peace in the storm. 
Peace in the sunset after the storm.
Peace in the inconvenience of daily routines. 
Peace in a fall-blooming iris still standing tall – not one leaf destroyed.
Peace in the waiting for “normalcy”. 
Peace of His blessings following me all the days of my life.

Promises of Peace given to each and everyone of us in His boat.

Can’t get any better than that. 

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OLD BAG OF WIND

When that old bag of wind Florence decides to come for a visit – uninvited, I might add, one puts their “normal” Monday activities on hold and begins the process of battening down the hatches on the home front.

Plants moved indoors. Yard decorations cleaned and stored in garage. Fire pit burned and emptied. Wind chimes silenced. Trash hauled. Lawn chairs and tables debated over and finally just up-ended. The rest – oh well – I’ll just have to wait and see how Florence wants to redecorate.

Tonight, after I picked up the Grands from school, and listened to them laugh and plan for maybe getting a day off at the end of the week just because Florence might be coming for a visit, I laughed as well. I walked around the yard and just smiled as I enjoyed Our Father’s presence.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”~Deut 31:8

Florence may be coming. She may huff and puff and blow our house and trees and little wires that most of us don’t know how to live without. She may dump a bunch of water that she doesn’t need anymore – and yet – – 
and yet – – 
all in all – – 
it is just stuff that she is blowing and dumping all over. Except for my critters and family, it is just stuff.

We fill our lives with lots of stuff, little treasures “stuffed” here and there (ever wonder where that verb came from?), bigger things that fill buildings with their importance, pictures of memories that are already stored in our heads, and things that we don’t even remember having in the first place.

Tonight’s sunset brought the darkness of the second day in the Jewish High Holy Days. A new day to think about where I’ve been and where I want to go. A day to wonder what I’ve done to enhance His kingdom on earth, and what I’ve done that might have caused a stumbling block to others.

A moment – this moment – to ponder.

So tonight, as I look out into the darkness, I sniff the wet humid air, listen to the thunder that generally foretells the coming of storms in our lives, and seek my knees. 
Knees that groan in protest. 
Knees that resent this position. 
Knees that remind me: life is not easy.

I find I am praying for Florence, Olivia, Issac – that their visits are quick and painless as they blow through farms, hamlets and cities. Praying for the emergency workers who always respond during these times and stand in the gap for the rest of us. Praying for the wildfires that still rage and the fire workers who stand in the gap there. Pray for the people, the animals and crops, the nations, the world. Praying for things that I know not.

And as I pray, I remember the words that Billy Graham’s mother once wrote to her struggling son:

“Son, there are many times when God withdraws to test your faith. He wants you to trust Him in the darkness. Now, Son, reach up by faith in the fog, and you will find that His hand will be there.”~Morrow Graham, Billy Graham’s mother.

I think before I go to bed tonight and before that old bag of wind gets here, I will venture out on our small porch and reach out my hand into the darkness.    

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BLESSING TRIAD #13-15

12227650_10153846624651320_8539315362822057837_nThe Thirteenth Blessing

The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” Gen 4:10

Today, November 13, 2015, and I – I am thankful. Thankful that I have read the last page of the WORD. Thankful that Our Father sees and weeps over Paris tonight. Thankful that Chirst walked this same terror-filled path to bruise the head of the evil one.
While the cloak of darkness swirls around this foreign city whose streets I walked long ago. Parisians huddle in their homes. Borders closed. Travel curtailed. Lights darkened. A state of emergency declared

Submerged shadows silhouetted within sadness, suspicion, sorrow, stigma’s scars.

The good news?

Submerged shadows always surrender to sacred sword of salvation held within Son’s light.

12193871_1654218544836987_7021168084671431001_nAll they need to do is remember. Remember to seek the Son’s Light. Remember to throw open the church doors and get down on their knees. Afterall, this is the home to many people who have read the end of Our Father’s book as well. They know that the outcome of a battle is not the outcome of the war.This is the home of the French Resistance where cells of strong liberty loving men and women changed the course of WWII with their resilience and strength of conviction. They stood on the Rock, and hopefully, will do so again.

Tonight I have added the people of Paris and France to my ever growing list as I watch the Son’s Light grow.The Light Who doesn’t wait for morning to come. The Light that shows the ugliness of evil and lights the way back to the Garden. I am praying they remember to seek the Son’s Light as they go forward in the next few days.
Blessings!Be!

The Fourteenth Blessing1476480_10201044455582450_1754701491_n

No matter how black, dirty, shameful, or terrible our sin, God will forgive. We may be at the very gate of Hell itself, but He will be reaching out in everlasting love.” Rev. Billy Graham p 95 “Where I Am”

Today has been a thoughtful day – a prayful day. As shocking as it is to see the statistics or images of Paris flashing across our screens, my mind kept returning to the attacks that have been going on in Israel, the downing of a Russian plane, or the bombings in Lebanon – not to mention all the murders that have been happening daily in our own country. Ever look at the stats of murdered people in the USA on a daily basis?

I changed my cover and profile pictures away from France because this is not about one country. It is about our world. A world lost and spinning erratically – morally – truthfully – spiritually.

Last night, before I heard the news of Paris, I pulled out my battery operated window candles. I love them because they automatically come on at dusk and turn off at dawn. I put these up about this time every Christmas. Their flickering lights welcome me home on those rare nights I am coming home after dark. Usually their small light is enough to keep me happy until I finally get to decorate for Christmas (yea).

This morning, however, it was not enough. Putting on my coat and shoes, I dug through the piles of boxes in our now over-stuffed-getting-ready-to-move shed until I found the box I needed. Gently, I pulled the Millennial Creche out of its hiding place. It is the last nativity set my mother bought for me right before Y2K. We had this thing of giving each other nativity sets. I gave her a small white plastic set my first year of teaching. She brought me a set of olive wood ones from Israel. One year, the kids and I gave her one that we had hand-painted from plaster casts. When she gave me the Y2K creche by the Roman company, it became the special one because it was her last gift to me.

Today, I needed to see the visual of that promise – a promise made so long ago – a promise of mercy and salvation.

Flag_of_Israel.svgOur world needs that promise more than ever. We have watched our world become smaller and smaller. Talk of global businesses, currency, governments float through our consciousness without much thought. Last night the talk was of global murder. Flag_of_Lebanon.svgDepending on the media presentation – some terror attacks we hear little-to-nothing about – others attacks are all over mainstay media and social media. How many FB profiles do you see that are the blue/white Star of David or the red/white Fir tree flags (I could have mentioned Russia’s flag but it is the same as France but with horizontal strips instead)?

Today, November 14, 2015, I am thankful for the creche that sits in my cabinet. Itmillenial creche 2015 reminds me of Our Father’s promise, and our world needs to remember the promise born in a tiny manger long ago. Our world needs to remember that no matter how ugly we act or how warped our thinking may be, Our Father has already shown us a path that will lead us back to the Garden. He gave us His own Son’s Light to guide us on our journey. He waits for us to remember our promises.

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”~Is 55:7

The Fifteenth Blessing

November 15, 2015, I am THANKFUL. Thankfut for God’s blessings too numerable to mention. Thankful for Our Father’s unending promises. Thankful that prayer gives me a chance to talk with Him. Thankful for His holy day of rest. Thankful for His Son’s sacrifice and resurrection. Thankful for the Holy Spirit’s discerning voice in my life.

And ——–

thankful that that I found this video –

OKAY –

Are you ready?

NEWSIES fans – here we go. I’m still smilin’ and am ready to listen to it again. Hmmmm…I really, really miss singing acapella – although I still like mixed voices best. After the past couple of days, we do need to “Seize the Day”.

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BLESSINGS TRIAD 7-9

A SEVENTH BLESSING OF THANKSGIVING

Today, November 7th, I am thankful for the written word and for special people who sense in their souls what others can not.. Thanks, Ruth Bell Graham

Listen, Lord,

a mother’s praying

low and quiet:

listen, please.

Listen what her tearsRuth-1b

are saying,

see her heart

upon its knees;

lift the load

from her bowed shoulders

till she sees

and understands,

You, Who hold

the worlds together,

hold her problems

in Your hands. ~ Ruth Bell Graham

A EIGHTH BLESSING OF THANKSGIVING

“A land so distant that some never knew it existed.”

rigolettoDon’t you love fairae tales – especially the “happily ever after” endings? They remind us of the theme that we are to imprint in our hearts for the rest of our lives. Painful times – scary times – evil times – all pass. Love – however – triumphs and lives forever. “Restored to his kingdom, Rigoletto took his beautiful bride and left the world of men to dwell happily ever after.” Gotta love fairae tales – especially, fairae tales with beautiful music such as Rigoletto.

sept 1989 at the old brick

sept 1989 at the old brick

Some weekends are just fairae tale type of days strung together. Got to spend alone time with eldest daughter. Nothing special – just a few hours out of our busy lives, but a time shared by just us once again. A time to re-connect. A time to remember watching that tiny baby girl morph through various stages of life into the wife, mother and published doctoral student that she is today. A time to remember how blessed I am to be trusted with such different gifts from Our Father.

Today has a restful, healing day. Finished a book. Took a short nap. Played with the dogs. Watched a couple of fairae tales. The niggles from earlier in the week have turned into a full-fledged cold, but hopefully the happy ending will be watching the niggles ride off to a distant land – one so distant that they can never come back. Now that would truely close the book on this fairae tale weekend.

So today, November 8, 2015, I am thankful for a fairae tale weekend and hopefully – waving goodbye to the cold niggles.

A NINTH BLESSING OF THANKSGIVING

1959 dining roomToday, the ninth of November, I’m thankful that Billy Graham has not gone home yet. With my mom on one side and the dad on the other, black patent leather shoes swinging in time to a tent full of music. white socks decorated by pieces of sawdust, and the hem of my dress twisted around my fingers, I listened, and eventually fell asleep But somewhere in there, I internalize this memory and started an important journey that has never stopped. And – if I can keep my eyes open and my feet on the path, I will find that “…so distant land that some never knew it existed.”

“But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and upon the heart of man has not come up that which God has prepared for those who love him.”~1 Cor 2:9

As probably most of you know, in the early days of the church, no one had their own Bible or scrolls. They depended on rabbi/priests to teach them. We all know that the stories of the Bible are much easier to remember than those hard complicated verses that jump in non-linear movements and crazy visions that seem too complicated to try to figure out. Hence – enter the teachers who attempted to educate.

ND2015-coverI read a Saturday Evening Post editorial that quoted David McCullough who said if we want to improve the teaching of history, we should, “Tell stories”. Teachers talk, recite, tell stories, – some even sing – crazy ones like me might add a little goofiness and a horse whinny or two.

Fairae tales are one of the earliest forms of story-telling. Some are traced right back to the WORD. A prince comes to rescue his bride from the great dragon beast. After dispatching the evil one, the couple live in rooms especially designed for them in a beautiful castle….happily ever after. Sounds familiar, right? Check out Isaiah or Revelations.

"Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond," by Billy Graham. Photo courtesy of Thomas Nelson

“Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond,” by Billy Graham. Photo courtesy of Thomas Nelson

Anyway, it all comes back to the fact that I am thankful that once – long ago – on a warm summer night, I heard a master story teller who wove music and the WORD into a Light that brightened my path and is still lighting my way when I am tempted to step off the path. His new book is a good one, “Where I Am”.

“I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.” Billy Graham

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SO…

heavenSo…

Remember that old camp song?  “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love.  They will know we are Christians by our love.”  “We call ourselves Christians.”  Yesterday, our pastor brought that simple sentence to the pulpit.  He said it in passing.  It wasn’t theme of his sermon. It wasn’t even a sub-point.  It was just a sentence.  But it stuck in the back of my mind, and – obviously – I’m still thinking about it.

I’ve called myself  “Christian” all my life.  Needless to say, it has been an identifier that started with my parents and extended family.  They taught me according to their beliefs.  Everyone I knew went to church on Sunday.  They might have only gone on special days such as Easter or Christmas, but every one went.  Perhaps it was still part of the post-war jitters.  Americans had just come through a long war.  Man – and women – saw things that they really didn’t talk about for the rest of their lives, and the popular adage, “There are no atheists in a foxhole” was uttered often enough that I don’t remember a time I didn’t know it.  In God We Trust wasn’t just a motto.

“Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.” Ps 37:5-7 (NASB)

However, the word Christian is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible.  There was no nomenclature to describe those Jesus called to follow Him except —“Followers”.   Which started me down a whole ‘nother train of thought, so to speak.  Am I a follower?  Would I drop everything in my life, get in the boat and sail out on the sea He that He told me to sail?  Do I trust Him that much?  I honestly don’t know, and part of me is afraid to take even a step towards that “Sea of Choice”.

“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matt 14:22-27 (NIV)

So…

It is easy to call myself a Christian.  It is easy to sit in my comfy chair, family pictures hanging on the wall, dogs sleeping at my feet, husband sorting through Craig’s List options for things we “need”, Grands just minutes away, fancy clothes washer taking care of my chores, and a piano calling my name.  But could I sell it all and actually get in the boat?  It’s a scary thought.  Military families experience this on a small scale.  They move.  They get in the USS boat and sail away to distant shores.  They trust that there is a reason to go.  How much scarier is that?  Trusting men who live sin-filled lives or trusting the One who knows the Father and loves enough to get on the storm-tossed boat with me?

So…

Many years ago, while I was in college, I ran across a prayer that I cut out and taped to my brick and bare board bookshelf.  (Who knows what happened to that original copy?)  Did you know that God is a recycler? Recently, that same prayer popped up in my sphere and this time, thanks to technology, I could find out where it came from  About 800 years ago, a prayer book was written in England. It was called the Sarum Primer.  This one prayer makes me think it was written by a “Follower” instead of a “Christian”.

“God be in my head, and in my understanding; God be in mine eyes, and in my looking; God be in my mouth, and in my speaking; God be in my heart, and in my thinking; God be at mine end, and at my departing.” Sarum Primer

So…

With all the things that are going on in our world today, I’m hoping to make some changes in my identifiers.  The process has started already.  No longer “Mom” as much as “Grandma” (even to the kids I teach – I have become “Miss Grandma”).  “Retiree” more than “teacher”.  “Writer” more than “Performer”.  So – maybe – hopefully – possibly – prayerfully…I can be “Follower” more than “Christian”.  So…how about you?  Up for a new challenge?