All posts in Christian Living

Jesus Has a Big Front Porch

Our voices echoed across mountains and dipped into valleys. Corn and beans dotted the sides of the peaks in a zig-zag pattern since they’d been planted by hand.

Savior, You can move the mountains, my God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save,

Forever, author of salvation, He rose and conquered the grave, yes, He conquered the grave.

Tom and I sat among about 35 travelers singing to our God in the setting on Honduran mountains. We’d been there for about 3 days, traveled to isolated villages to share the message of Jesus Christ, and now we shared, “Porch Time.”

That was my favorite time of the day. The team gathered together, talked about the day, shared their testimonies, prayed, and praised God with song.

So when Tom and I moved to North Carolina–a huge front porch donned the top of our must-have house list. After the construction men finished the 60 x 10 foot structure one young man said, “You should have just built the porch and left off the house.”

“That probably would have been okay with Pauline,” Tom said.

Porches carry cherished memories for me. Memories of friendship and laughter and solace–unhurried times that often feel “realer” than the rest of my busy life.

Thoughts like that ran through my mind as I studied John 14:1-2, Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. (NASB)

I grew up on King James Version where dwelling place is translated mansion. Don’t get me wrong, a mansion sounds great, but I don’t want to live in a mansion by myself. That’s lonely.

No, I want to live in God’s mansion with Him and my Savior and my brothers and sisters in Christ. I want to sit on the porch for hours (although I don’t think we’ll have hours in heaven) and talk and laugh and sing and pray.

On earth, we know our times on the porch have to end because we have other tasks and time is important…here. Not there.

Sometimes, I picture my parents sitting on the porch in heaven with their best friends, the Shiels. Jim Shiels is teasing Dad while Mom and Nellie Shiels sit together chit-chatting about this and that.

When we vacationed with the Shiels at The Salvation Army’s Camp Lake, or Army Lake, we’d sit on the screened porch lit only with the yellow bug light and talk for hours. When we’d get ready to go back home my father would say, “Let’s all join hands and sing.”

Jim would say, “Do we have to, Ramie?” And then he’d laugh and we’d join hands, sing, and then cry. This is what we sang:

Til we meet, til we meet, til we meet at Jesus feet,

God be with us, til we meet again.

I’m sure there’s was a great reunion and frankly, I can’t wait to join them. Cause I think Jesus has the biggest, bestest, porch. Ever.

But for now, I’ll settle for mine.

Come see me, friend.

I can’t paste the YouTube in here, but I’ll past the link. It’s worth the listen…BTW, we’ll be singing this on Sunday at Christ Community Church. Join us will you? Pretend it’s a porch…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR8rlTIU8_Y

 

 

 

Not a Traditional Thanksgiving

The Hyltons have always been adventurous when it comes to food. My kids ate squid and mussels at a young age. In fact, one of our favorite meals to cook together is mussels fra diavlo. Sure, we love turkey, but not necessarily on the fourth Thursday of November.

Sarah is with her other family this Thanksgiving but Micah will be here on #peeledpoplarfarm.

We’re not sure of the menu. We’ve talked about everything from BBQ ribs to Chinese food. Doesn’t matter, we will be together, and may even have a few visitors.

What I am thankful for is not necessarily traditional, either. Sure, when my kids were little, we went around the table and asked everyone what they were thankful for. The expected answers always appeared: our family, house, food, dogs. All good things, yes.

But today, I’m taking a break from the traditional Thanksgiving blessings and am thanking God for a few unusual things.

First, I’d like to thank Him for things He has kept from me. Like friends. Not that I don’t have friends here in North Carolina, but they are new and we are still in the be careful what you say mode. (At least they are.)

Because of lack of friends, Tom and I have become better friends. No, he won’t go Black Friday shopping with me, but we often talk while watching re-runs of our wood stove while lounging on the couch. That is a good thing. (Except the whole lack of Black Friday shopping.)

Because of my lack of friends to confide in, I’ve had to take my thoughts, worries, and fears to the Lord. I’m glad about that, too.

The second thing I am thankful for is that I’m a nobody. Most of you already knew that, but I didn’t. I actually thought I was doing God a favor by following Him. Shoveling chicken manure in old sweats has a way of defining that.

Recently, I read of an American Christian who traveled to a foreign country and attended a secret church. In that church were men bent over from years in the rice fields.  They were not allowed an education because they were Christians. The writer also mentioned a woman who had her child taken away because she followed Christ.

In my book, these people are somebodies. But it really doesn’t matter what I think, it matters what the Creator of the universe thinks. And He is pleased.

The third thing I am thankful for is God. In my Bible reading today, Psalm 115:1 says, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name be glory. Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.

I’m glad the Almighty isn’t at all like me. He is unique. One-of-a-kind, Holy, and completely worthy of praise. And He is loving and kind and truthful.

I pray you will have a blessed Thanksgiving.

I’ll let you know if it’s ribs or Chinese this year. Or maybe we’ll have mussels.

What Now?

My dad loved ketchup. He called it catsup. Put it on almost everything. He joked about adding it to ice cream. I never saw him do it, but knowing him, he could have.

Sometimes, the newly-opened, glass ketchup bottle wouldn’t bring forth actual ketchup. I still remember him holding it sideways and taping it on his index finger. This became a teaching moment for me.

“Pauline, sometimes the ketchup forms a vacuum and you have to do this.” Tap, tap, tap, wait, wait, wait.

I’d hold my breath. For a long time. If it took too long, he pulled out a bread knife and stuck it in the ketchup to break the vacuum.

Eventually, our french fries would be liberally covered in Heinz.

I’m waiting now, but not for ketchup.

My mom went to heaven 6 months ago today. I just realized this was the day as I’m sitting in a semi-dark living room thinking. After her death, there were arrangements, travel, family, finances, all of the usual stuff you do when your mom dies.

I’m not sad she died since I know she is in heaven. I think oftentimes I felt sadder when she was here. After fourteen years of in-house caregiving and watching both my parents lose all of their independence, I grieved more for them then.

I still grieve. It’s just with bright hope.

But after all the travel and funeral arrangements and decisions, I came home to our farm. The day I arrived, Tom was laid off from his sign company job. Instead of being anxious, I said, “It’s a God thing. We need some time alone.”

And we did. And then I got some type of flu and Tom cared for me. And then he got a job and I stayed home.

Alone.

And I liked it. A lot. I prayed and read and sat and slept. And then I did all of those things again and again.

A few months later, I participated in the local farmers markets with my homemade salsa, pesto, and jellies. But salsa sales are slipping and people are busier which means not much money coming in.

So, my question is, What now? The first years of my marriage, I was a young married professional, then a mother, then a home school teacher, and finished off as a caregiver/farmer/food entrepreneur.

The proverbial ketchup bottle is tipped sideways and nothing’s coming out. I have a writing agent, 3 proposals in with three different publishing houses, but no one is busting down my door.

And money is short. Not gone–in fact, by the world’s standards we are rich. I’m not complaining. But I have applied for jobs. I’m ready to wear grown-up clothes and be around people, and have conversations, and minister outside of my home. But when you’re fifty something and haven’t worked as a professional for several years, finding a job is tough.

As I thought about all of these things today, I remembered a prayer I prayed to the Lord about three years ago, and still have on my prayer cards. I asked to be a woman of faith. A woman who trusted God and encouraged others to trust Him, too. Sure, I can point to numerous times in the past when God came through in ways I never imagined. Miraculous, even.

But that’s not today. It doesn’t pay the bills next week. Or next month or next year.

Bottom line is, do I really believe what I say I believe?

By God’s grace and through His strength, Yes. I just need to remind my anxious heart.

Maybe you are waiting for the ketchup, too.

Let’s wait together.

Those french fries are going to be awesome…

 

Breakfast With My Daddy

My daddy and me…

“Okay, Sister. After you peel the potatoes, put them in this,” my daddy said pointing to a metal gadget with a handle. “Then turn this and they come out sliced ready for the frying pan.” Dad shifted his head, faced me, and smiled.

My 8-year-old-self couldn’t help but smile back. When you’re 8 and it’s Saturday morning, you get to watch cartoons AND make breakfast with your Father–well, what’s not to smile about?

In fact, just thinking about those Saturday mornings make me smile now and I’m well into my 50′s.

So when I read Beth Moore’s study of Thessalonians 3:1, and her definition of prayer, I beamed and warmed at the same time. Here’s a quote:

“Prayer is accepting a royal summons to the King for breakfast with your dad.”

Munch on that for a while.

Here’s another quote:

“God loves you. He loves your company. He loves to search the depths of your soul and hear the dreams of your heart. He knows what troubles you when you crawl into bed and what awaits when you crawl out. He knows why you’re scared and where you’re unprepared.”

You know, as great as my earthly father was, sometimes he was too busy for me, or too far away, or maybe just too preoccupied to listen.

But not my heavenly Daddy.

Recently, in our church home group, we discussed prayer. One man I admire in our church prays this way.

Father, we come to you by the blood of Jesus, and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

And it’s not just for Saturdays. We can come anytime we want.

And have breakfast.

And you can skip the cartoons and enjoy the feast.

 

Three in One

“What’s our home group discussion about, Pauline?”

“The Trinity. How’s that for easy listening discussion to promote Christian fellowship?” I told my husband with a smirk.

On Sunday evening, the home group would meet at our house and Tom was to lead the discussion. He sneaked off to the back room in order to research the subject on the computer.

Sunday morning’s message covered our topic.

“The Trinity is not a math problem to be solved,” stated our pastor, “but a relationship to be enjoyed.”

The Trinity has always baffled me. I believe there are three persons in the godhead–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I just don’t understand it.

Scripture uses the pronoun we and our in Genesis when speaking of creation. Christ is foreshadowed and even seen in the Old Testament, and the Holy Spirit is throughout the entire Bible. I just can’t figure it out. Especially when you realize that Jesus has a resurrected body.

But I believe it. I understand that I don’t understand. In fact, I don’t know much about anything. Sure, I’ve lived for 57 years, but I’ve only been to 1/3 of the states in America and 4 or 5 other countries. I studied Social Work in school but can’t fix a car. I have two dogs but can’t make them well if they are sick.

The list is endless.

But the God who made everything knows everything, and He says there is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Jesus told His disciples, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” He also stated that no one can come to God except through Him.

So I’m trusting.

And waiting until heaven.

And then I’ll understand.

For now, I’m just glad I don’t have to operate on my dogs.

And so are they.