What? No cake? My Incredible Journey

What a day to praise the Lord. W had a quiet party of pecan pie and ice cream and sang hymns with our long time friends, Brad and Joyce and Betty who became our friend just after I was diagnosed with cancer.

Eighty-three years ago yesterday my mother welcomed me into her heart, arms, and life. It has been an incredible life. The Lord has been faithful every moment and for this I am thankful. He accepted me into his family as his treasured possession when I was twelve years old. He introduced me to The King’s College and there I met the love of my life, Emily, who has proven to be the help meet for 61 ½ years. He has given us four children who know and love the Lord, eight grandchildren who are using their talents to serve him, and six great grandchildren who are being trained to know and love the Lord. And as an added blessing, three step grandchildren. What a legacy. I could ask for nothing more.

Yet He has given so much more in a companion who has worked along side me in every endeavor. We directed plays and musicals together, toured with choirs, madrigals, barbershop quartets together, led Christian seminars for many years together and shared special moments along the way.

So as I closed yesterday I again said thank you Lord for an incredible journey with you and with the choice of a life long partner. We look forward to the days, weeks, and months ahead as we continue to serve through our prayers for although outwardly in the flesh I grow weaker, yet day by day I am being renewed 2 Cor 4:16.

Grieving with Hope

Recently the Lord taught me a new lesson on how to live out the Scripture, “Mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15.

After one of our small group Bible studies, a dear saint with failing health came up to me, held both my hands, looked directly into my eyes through her misty ones, and said, “When you get to heaven find my husband, John. He loved words, especially the Word of God, as you do. You remind me of him.”

“How long has there been an empty chair at your table?”

“It seems like forever. Six years. He’d have gotten you in a corner and picked your brain.
You’re so full of the Spirit you bubble over.”

Still gripping my hands, Lynn told me that she doesn’t hear the lessons as clearly as she used to. I volunteered to send her additional review material. She asked if I’d send copies of our studies so she can share them with her daughter and a friend.

She lifted herself onto her tiptoes, hugged me and said,“God sent you here just for me.”

As she left, I silently cried out,“Lord, teach me to love with passion as Lynn does.” I determined to add her to my prayer list, to try to call her weekly, and send her encouraging notes.

“Dear Father of all comfort, I praise you for the renewal to ‘grieve with those who grieve.’ She’s lonely, hurting, and desperately grieving from the loss of her beloved John. You’ve reassured me that ‘You are familiar with all our ways’ and your holy Presence is a present help’”.

Please teach Lynn, my wife, and all of us who know you how to wait patiently for the reality of ‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. No more death, no more mourning or crying for the old life has passed away’. Amen.” Rev 21:4

But the preacher is boring!

“But Wilma, the preacher talks too much and he’s boring.” “Then pray for him.”
That was my sister’s response when I tried to make an excuse to stay home from church.
We can’t always choose things in our life, especially our parents, but if I could have chosen my sister I would have picked Wilma. But not when I was a child.
Yet over the years Wilma had instilled in me the commandment “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” so after she was married, I faithfully took the bus to church every Sunday.
One cool September morning I attended not only Sunday School but also church. At the end of the pastor’s message, he invited all those who realized they were sinners and wanted to become one of God’s treasured possessions to come forward.
I walked down the aisle and he asked, “Leon, do you want to go to heaven?” “Yes,” I replied so softly that he had to ask me again.
That afternoon I said, “Mom, can I tell you what happened to me at church this morning?”
“Sure, Leon, did you get sick or something?”
“No, Mom. I made a decision today that I want to go to heaven to be with Jesus.”
That night as I lay on my bed, I thanked the Lord that I was now one of His treasured possessions.
There are a few people who have cast shadows of influence on my life and my sister is one of them.
Is there someone in your life whose influence has made a difference? Why not start the new year off by dropping them a note of thanks for what they mean to you.
Excerpted from Naked With Clothes On by. D. Leon Pippin

Christmas With Strings Attached

My vivid memories as a child were the special events at Christmastime. It was during the war years so money was scarce and presents were few. But winter brought Christmas, a very special time for the children of the community and that didn’t stop the churches from celebrating the season. My brother Dick and I looked forward to the Christmas program at church. There was lots of carol singing, listening to the Christmas story from the Bible, and watching a play of some kind usually put on by the kids. We liked that. But the best time came at the end of the service when every boy and girl got a red mesh and cellophane stocking filled with candies of all shapes and colors, stapled at the top with a little red string attached for hanging. We rushed home to show Mom before we carefully opened our stockings and dumped out the candy.

Our childhood gave way to adulthood and the programs and the candy stockings may have taken a lesser place of importance, but the stories of Christmas acted out from the Bible, the carols we sang, and the message of Jesus remain the integral memory of Christmas – when the eternal God became the earthborn infant Jesus so that we might become the heaven born children of God. The greatest Christmas gift ever given. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:14. “And she gave birth to her first born, a Son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger.” Luke 2:7.
Excerpted from my memoir Naked With Clothes On, Chapter 13. Available on Amazon.com.

The Unending Joy of Friends

For many years it has been our family’s tradition to recite Psalm 100 before we eat our Thanksgiving meal. Now with our children grown, our grandchildren grown and establishing family traditions, we are thrilled to hear that they also have adopted for the fourth generation, the reciting of this Psalm.

This morning our phone rang. We knew who it was. He is always the first one to call. And when we reminded him to read Psalm 100 today, he said “Already have.”

Whatever your family traditions are, my prayer today is that you will make it something that your children and grandchildren can pass down and in this small way keep the memory of this close thread of family tradition continuing.
PSALM 100

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness:
come before His presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord He is God;
It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise;
Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting;
and His truth endureth to all generations.

Friends

When a friend asked me to watch her daughter, I jumped at the chance to spend time in the company of a young child. I picked her up from morning kindergarten, and we began the walk to my house.

Mikayla talked about the story the teacher had read, the changing leaves, the sidewalk cracks, her violin teacher, the letters on the street sign, the green peppers growing at her house.

Somewhere in this delightful, mostly one-sided conversation, she took my hand, looked up at me and said, “It’s good to have a friend to walk with.”

Simplistic, yet profound, encompassing a lifetime of wisdom. I was driven to immediate praise to God for His kindness and love. His graciousness has brought countless friends across my path, some known, some unknown, some for years, some for a brief moment.

Created in God’s likeness as social creatures, we need friends, and it is a privilege to be used by God to be those friends…..
…A parent who texts, “I am praying for you.”
…The man at church who repairs your car free of charge.
…The Ukrainian woman who grasps the hands of the visiting pastor and says through an interpreter, “I pray for your American church every day.”
…The stranger behind you in line who hands you the two dollars cash you are short.
…A neighbor down the street who says, “I’ll drive you.”
…A spouse who listens as you talk non-stop for fifteen minutes because your day has been spent with people who come up to your knees.
…A college roommate who prays with you as you work through a deep sadness.
…The mentor who whoops, “I knew you could do it ”
…Another hiker who enjoys the beauty of a sunset with you in silence.
…The lady who shows up on the doorstep of a frazzled young mother—with supper in one arm and a hug in the other.

“Thank you, God, for the opportunities You bring across my path to be a friend. Keep my eyes open to appreciate friends you have brought to walk with me.”

Yes, Mikayla, it is good to have a friend to walk with.

Guest Writer  Jeanne M. Hicks

Matthew’s Miracle

Monday the 3rd of October, Leon brought the lawn ornaments and furniture into the garage. Tuesday we got batteries, gas, cash, and canned food. Wednesday a man came to put up the hurricane shutters and the house became rather dark at that point. I got out two large candle jars and some extra pillar candles that would fit comfortably into the jars without having an open flame. Washed necessary clothes, put flashlights on the kitchen counter, put our meds in two small baskets on the kitchen counter. Wednesday Brett called to remind me to fill the tub with water for flushing the toilets and washing. Also suggested freezing water in bowls to put into the frig when the electricity went out so they would keep the food cold as they melted. Thursday, paid any bills that would be coming due in the following week, put a flashlight by each side of our bed, ate supper, emailed our family, had our private evening devotions, and checked the weather on the TV. We were very tired.

We looked at each other and said, “We have done everything we can do. We have to depend on the Lord to move the hurricane away from land in Melbourne and trust Him to protect us.

Without any fear or anxiety, we went to bed, resting in the peace of Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You ”

Emily woke up once at 1:45 and the electricity and TV were still on, but the wind was starting to blow. The local channel said that the hurricane would hit between 2:00 and 3:00. She went back to bed. That’s all we knew until 10:15 Friday morning. Friends said the wind was howling, windows were rattling, and palm trees were bending almost to the ground AND WE SLEPT THROUGH IT.

Now you might say that it was because our hurricane shutters were so secure and soundproof. You might say that it was because we were so tired. You may be right on both counts. But we would rather believe that it was because we were secure in the knowledge that God was watching over us. Because you see, by the time it reached Melbourne it was a Category 3 and had moved out to sea about 20 miles. By the time it was by St. Augustine it had moved back to shore.

We call it our Matthew’s Miracle. Our God is a mighty God and a strong tower. And we had rushed to His shelter.