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.

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

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.

Never Too Old

I went to a funeral today. Ken was 95 years old. He had enjoyed a wonderful life with his wife and daughter – working, owning his own business, serving in the Army in WWII, owning and flying a small plane, competing in marksmanship competitions, model train boarding, volunteering at a hospital, traveling and fishing.

Yet, Ken’s greatest accomplishment, in his own words, was being baptized in a small lake in August of this year – at age 95. Ken had accepted Christ as Savior and made Him he Lord of his life just six weeks before – at age 95. So when Ken’s body failed in September, His Father called him home to heaven!

Ken’s wife and daughter had been praying for his salvation for almost fifty years – 50 years of faithfully lifting up husband and father to God, believing 2 Peter 3:9b, “He is patient with you, not wanting any one to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

When Ken’s wife was diagnosed with a cancer that was about to take her life 15 years ago, her response was, “Maybe this will be what brings Kenny to Jesus.” God took her home, and Ken’s daughter kept praying.

Today she spoke of her dad, his full life, and his greatest achievement – his salvation through Jesus Christ at age 95.

So let us be encouraged, pray hard, do not lose hope, and be the living example of God’s love for that person he has put in our life. Our God is faithful. Of this I was reminded today.

Jeanne Hicks, Guest Writer

Quick. Put in the Ear Plugs

Disappointments

One of the interesting water activities in Florida is an airboat ride. Riding on the open waterways allows you to see various water creatures. Often you will see alligators sunning themselves on the shoreline. It is amazing that the ride is so noisy that many people wear ear plugs or ear muffs, yet the noise doesn’t seem to bother the wildlife.

We took our grandson on an airboat ride. He was filled with anticipation. He wanted to see the alligators in their natural habitat. Having hearing damage already, he made sure the driver placed him in the boat where he would have the least noise and vibration. He put in his ear plugs, then his noise reduction muffs, and was ready for the adventure.

An hour later, he removed the muffs and plugs and reminded us disappointingly that he had not seen anything – not even a duck or a shore nesting bird. And certainly no alligator!

Sounds like life sometimes, doesn’t it? We build up anticipation for a great adventure or event and when it is over, the only thing we have experienced is disappointment.

The apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 5:5 that “hope does not disappoint us”. He is not speaking about anticipating some special thing or activity that we are looking forward to. He is reminding us that we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, or in modern English, “a joyous expectation of the heavenly state of God,” The prophet Isaiah had this to say about hope, “Those who hope in me [God] will not be disappointed” (49:23c). Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3).

If you are experiencing disappointment today, take out the ear plugs, remove the ear muffs, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. He will never fail you, never desert you, never disappoint you.