The Joy of it All

“Your place looks amazing!” I gawked as I entered my daughter’s Atlanta, Mid-Town apartment. The transformation was almost supernatural. Sarah had explained to me about a book titled, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but I was skeptical.

To put it in farming terms, let’s just say Sarah wasn’t ever the cleanest hen in the coop. Neither am I.

So when I entered the immaculate apartment, sparsely furnished, with a place for everything, (which wasn’t much) I couldn’t believe it.

Sarah explained. “I read it to David, and together we went through everything in our apartment. I’ve cut my wardrobe in half since I was only wearing half, and our important papers all fit in one bin. I don’t hold on to anything that doesn’t bring me joy.”

“Well, I’m impressed,” I said making my way out to the car. “Let me get my stuff and put it away.” I was to babysit my grandson for a few days while Sarah and David celebrated their anniversary.

“Hey Mom,” she hesitated. “Could you make sure everything is neat and clean when you leave?” She grinned.

“I’ve heard those words before.” I unpacked my toiletries. I always left a few of them at her apartment for my convenience.

“Where’s my toothbrush.”

“Um, I think I threw it out.”

“Okay, do you have an extra?”

She scampered away and came back with a clean one. “And where are my slippers?” I asked while looking under the cabinet where I always kept them.

“They didn’t bring me joy,” she said sheepishly.

I stopped. “You threw them away?” I paused for effect. “It’s a good thing I didn’t read this book while you were a teenager.”

We both smiled, because we are mother and daughter, yes. But now, we’re also friends.

Even though she did throw my slippers away.

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…

 

 

 

A Letter to President Trump

Dear President Trump,

Today is a special day for you and for our nation. I cannot sit down and talk with you so I decided to write you a letter like we are best friends.

I don’t know you, but I am sure you are feeling the weight of the responsibility and great privilege you have been granted.

So like a letter to Santa, I’ll tell you my heart.

About immigration, that’s a hard one. On one hand we need to protect our country and we cannot financially support all the people who would love to live in the US. On the other hand, why were we born here instead of say, Somalia? Not because we were smarter or better, it is just the way it is.

So please be gracious and yet firm. I am asking (Because I wouldn’t dare to tell the President of the United States what to do) that you get a variety of wise counsel. Proverbs 15:22 states;

“Plans fail without advice, but with many counselors they are confirmed.”

For the sake of our country and your integrity invite people into your inner circle who are wise and willing to contradict you. That is wise.

Concerning finance and foreign policy. I’m not really good at balancing my checkbook, so I’m going to have to trust you on that. Foreign policy is tricky I suppose.  Often, things I think are affected by what I eat or if I’m happy, so it’s a good thing for me to be careful since just because I think it, doesn’t make it true.  I will pray that you will be wise in that area.

About welfare. My parents were Salvation Army officers so I was surrounded by all sorts of people. I remember clearly my mother praying before each time we gave away toys at Christmas, “But for the grace of God, go I.”

I believe that. Still, when I see someone on the side of the road with a sign stating “Out of work, need food.” I’m not sure what to do. I don’t always believe them. Sometimes, I’ve gone to a local place and given them money for those people. Other times I can’t make up my mind about that.

Good luck with that.

About morality. Wow. That’s hard. Everyone has a different opinion. I have mine and I think it is truth, but I believe love should be the plumb line on that. Love for all people.

1 Corinthians 13:13 states, “And now these three remain; faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

I couldn’t have said it better, that’s for sure.

America should be like a really big family. And as someone once said, “You can choose your friends, but you’re stuck with your relatives.” So you are stuck with me, President Trump. Treat me like family. And the rest of the country, too.

It seems to me that you don’t care much what people think of you. I care too much. So over the next four years, each day I will pray this for you;

“He has shown you, O mortal what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

You really cannot go wrong with that and I cannot go wrong praying that for you.

So even though we’ve never met, or probably never will meet, you have someone who is praying for you just like I prayed for President Obama, and all the others.

Your friend,

Pauline (You already know my last name because we are friends.)

PS, I’ve never been to Washington so one day I am going to visit.

And I’d like to see the White House.

A Little Christmas After Christmas

Oops about the Chicken Soup link. Here is an online piece that ran in the Salvation Army War Cry this year….

https://magazine.thewarcry.org/stories/christmas-at-our-house

Where Does the Light Come From? Christmas Meditation, Day 6

This is the newest member of our family. Kratos, a large, wolf-like animal with razor-sharp teeth, and a mammoth head. I think he loves my husband, Tom.

This morning, as the rising sun filtered through my window while all three beasts lounged on the floor, Kratos sat straight up and stared at the ceiling, transfixed. A bright light shone erratically. Kratos began to chase it not knowing the sun reflected off of his chain and projected onto the ceiling.

When he moved, the light moved.

Charming.

I’d like to continue my Christmas meditation on light. The light of the Christ child coming into a dark world shining the light of good news. Or, as others put it, the Gospel.

When Jesus began His ministry, people questioned His authority, authenticity, and heritage.

The book of John says people held varying opinions of Him. Just like today. Many thought Jesus a prophet. The Jewish leaders swore to kill Him since they believed Him a blasphemer. Others looked to Jesus for His great works and a possible free meal. Some were undecided.

John 7:41b states, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He?”

What they didn’t know was Jesus was born in the ancient city of Bethlehem, just as the prophecy foretold, but spent most of His time in Galilee.

Yet, in Isaiah there is talk of Galilee in Isaiah 9:1;

“But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.”

The following verse gets better.

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.”

Jesus is the light of the world.

He shines in my heart. How about yours?

Here is a beautiful verse from the Apostle Paul found in 1 Corinthians 4:6;

“For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

The dog had no idea where the light came from–we have the Gospel written down for us in the story of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Just thinking about it warms my heart.

Jesus–the perfect, innocent Savior came as a baby to pay the penalty of our sins. The wrong things we do.

He loved us that much. But we must admit we need a Savior. Admit we are a sinner and accept this free gift.

I’m pleading with you today. Bow the knee to the baby in the manger who is our Redeemer and King. I’m praying you will.

Here is a link for today:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsH_V6i0N0o