Why a blog from me, someone who has never been a writer, someone who has never been articulate or had a solid grasp of the grammar world. Because God told me to write. Several years ago a life storm invaded my family. God kept telling me to write it all down. I argued, but He would not let up. This went on every day for a couple of weeks until one day out of frustration, (I'd like to say it was out of obedience), I picked up a pen and paper and wrote for 7 hours straight! Do you think maybe I needed therapy and God knew it?

I've been writing ever since and have learned to love it! I started out sharing my stories with friends and family. I've now been published in a Nashville church paper, Our Daily Journey (a devotional site of RBC Ministries), PCCWeb Daily Devotional, Ruby for Women Ezine Magazine, and I am a contributor in the book Alabaster Jars, Life in Abundance Collection 2.

Why Ponderings? During this life storm, God led me to a pond in the woods behind my home. There He met me each time, teaching new lessons, reminding me of old ones, showing His presence and allowing me to feel His love through the surroundings of that pond. I found myself returning over and over to ponder, pray and praise. A healing of my heart took place and out of the experience came my first book, Ponderings From the Pond, then a second book, Ponderings From My Porch, and now a third book is in the works along with a memoir about my storm.

Why am I making myself so vulnerable? Because God has done so much that I cannot keep quiet. I have to share. Jesus's last words to his desciples were, "Go,tell." We are his disciples too and this is just one of my ways of telling.

I'm no scholar but I have heard God's voice in my spirit, experience His love daily, and have a desire for others to experience this also. I would love to share with all who visit and I would love to hear from you. If my sharing gets just one to ponder, to be quiet with the Father, to see and hear from Him or to be reminded of something from Him, then this is worth my vulnerability.

As you visit me, sometimes we will be at the pond, sometimes we will move to the front porch, and sometimes we will just be here, there, and yonder. Thank you for coming and please feel free to come back anytime, you are always welcome here.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:14


My first book, Ya Know What I'm Say'n, has been released.



Friday, September 30, 2011

Update on Homeless Family

This is an amazing anwer to prayer for this homeless family from the previous post. . .

They received their notice that last night was their last night at Salvation Army.  Prayers from all of you went up and the Dad received two job offers today.  Permanent jobs!  I think he is taking them both. One is a night shift. 

They were about to lose their phone service as they owed over $400 on back bills.  Someone stepped forward and payed that bill off for them! 

Someone stepped forward and gave them gas money to get them through until a paycheck comes in! 

Someone stepped forward and bought 7 bags worth of food for them!

Someone stepped forward and gave them a care package along with a Wal-Mart gift card.

Salvation Army gave them two more weeks of stay! They were extremely happy and very grateful and I could hear the relief in the voice. 

It warms my heart to see people who have never met this family to step up and pray earnestly for them.  And for people to step up and give sacrificially and from the heart.  I believe huge seeds were planted here and I believe with all my heart this family will pay it foward some day.  Isn't this what it is all about people?  Out of love for our Lord, we reach out and touch and love others who are needing it at the moment.  Last week they were in a deep hole and feeling despair.  Today they are smiling, feeling some relief and seeing the light at the top. 

Please keep praying for this family.  They are still needing to get into some kind of a home.  I can't wait to see how God provides an answer to this one!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Voice of the Homeless/A Family

Susan, Jim, and Baby

This day I met a different face to homelessness, a family.  They are a husband and wife from Tennessee.  The little feet belong to their 2 ½ year old son.  Mom and Dad both have been married twice and divorced twice.  Both lost everything in their divorces.  This is their third and last marriage they tell me.  Between the two of them, they have eight children, most of them grown.  They together have this precious baby sitting on mom’s lap.  Mom is 43 and Dad is 49.

They have been in Bowling Green at this time for one week and are staying at the Salvation Army.  He has been a plumber by trade and the jobs have been off and on.  He was told there was lots of work in Montana and a company told him to come on up there, they would give him a job and he could take the licensing test after he got there.  They started him out at $12 an hour.  After he took the test and was licensed, they did not want to pay what a licensed plumber makes, so they laid him off.  A lot of plumbers are out of a job, so there is a lot of competition. They traveled over 2000 miles to work for not much more than 24 hours.  There was not any other work, so they decided to head back to Tennessee on their shoe string budget.

They stayed at free RV parks along the way, staying in their truck.  They ran into good people along the way who helped them out.  They found food banks that helped them out with no questions asked.  They lived off the land, camping here and there. One lady at a RV park was getting ready to go somewhere on an airplane and said she could not take everything with her, so she left some things for this couple.  It was a cooler with some food, shampoo and body washes and other things, a hibachi and charcoal and $100 cash.
The food bank not only gave food but also baby wipes and detergent. 

When they arrived in Bowling Green, the money ran out and they could not go any further, so they came to the Salvation Army.  They have been out every day looking for jobs.  Jim speaks, “We are doing the best we can, we are applying anywhere and everywhere.  Susan applied at TJ Maxx and at a food store market.  He has applied at factories and several different temp places.  Susan speaks, “The process of filling out applications is long.  It took 2 ½ hours to complete the process the other day, just to apply.  You have to take personality tests, which we understand, but the process is very difficult when you have a child with you.  Some places won’t let you bring the baby in, so one of us has to sit out in the truck while the other applies.  That means sitting in a hot truck for a couple of hours or more with a 2 year old, who eventually will get tired and fussy.  He applied at a laundry detergent factory, which took 3 hours.  Now they are just waiting to hear from someone.  They have a ¼ tank of gas left and $20 in their pocket.

I asked if they went to the churches for help and they said NO, they wanted to try and take care of themselves the best they could.  This led into a discussion about what they believed in.  Mom grew up in a troubled life.  She was a member at one time in a Protestant Church but felt they were never there for her.  She felt they looked down on her because she was from a single parent home.  When the youth went off to do things, she could never go because could not afford to go and do the things they were doing.  She went to the church for emotional help and they were not there for her.  She never felt at home in the church.

He graduated from a full Protestant Gospel Church School, a private school.  His adopted father was an ordained minister who beat him black and blue every day.  He can remember hearing his mother scream, “You’re going to kill him!”   She was super religious, a real fruit cake he said.  She was super annoying with it, always in your face, to the point where it was downright aggravating.  The minister of  the church school he had gone to was a fraud, a homosexual.  I asked if school had been a bad experience for him and he said, No, he didn’t even know about the minister until later and that he had gotten a very good education.  He went onto college but did not graduate there because decided to go into the Navy.

Jim stayed in the Navy for twelve years.  He was an air traffic controller, FAA certified and was in the Navy Seals Special Force just before the Granada Affair.  Later he was shot in the stomach by enemy fire in 1991.  He became a diabetic after this.  After getting out of the Navy, he worked in the Police Department until he became burned out, not wanting to carry a firearm anymore.

I asked if they believed in God.  They said No, they were spiritualists, not religious.  Jim’s grandfather was a full blooded Canadian Cree.  They choose to believe this way.  Jim tells me with the Cree beliefs, the father does not teach until his father has passed away.  It’s always the elder who does the teaching.  Jim learned through the peace that his grandfather displayed and taught through the love of the land and living things; the air, the wind, the water –“ that is life”, he said. They told me when they were living off of the land for a short time in Wyoming and Montana, they would eat fish right out of the river. They say to me, “You would say God provided the fish, but we believe we were lucky enough that there was a man who caught the fish for us.  His good spirit was what had him voluntarily go out and get us fish.  He wasn’t a Christian, not religious in any way.  He liked to fish and we liked to eat the fish.  We believe there is good in people no matter what religion if any at all.  It’s about the spirit, the person. A lot of people who call themselves Christian are not good people and a lot of people who aren’t Christian, are good people.”

They continue, “We are very positive people, we have to be.  Our lives have been very difficult since our childhood so we believe in the day to day.  As long as we keep a positive attitude and outlook, tomorrow will be fine.  We don’t plan because we’re tired of being disappointed.” 

Jim says, “I can’t put faith in something I don’t agree with and I see so many conflicts in.  Susan says they are Pantheists.  I went home and looked up the definition of this word.  Pantheist- the view that the Universe (Nature) and God divinely are identical.  Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal or creator God.  The central idea is the Cosmos as an all-encompassing unity and the sacredness of Nature. 
This seems to go along with the belief of the Cree Indian beliefs.

I googled to see what was said about the Cree beliefs and this is what I found. . .Canadian Cree’s believe animals and humans possess a Spirit.  Because the Spirit is eternal they believe when they die, it is only physical death and the journey continues on. When the body is no longer viable, the Spirit ascends into another realm. Traditional Cree spirituality strongly reinforces the principle of a circled of life, the essence of which is found in Spirit.  http://www.sicc.sk.ca/saskindian/a89mar11.htm.  Susan said to me, “We don’t believe we’ll come back as a hamster or anything like that” she says chuckling, “But we don’t believe in a Heaven or Hell.

I ask about homelessness.  Jim responded, It is easier to fight as a homeless person when your single, but with a family and you are suppose to be the bread winner and head of the home, it’s rough.  To see your wife and child experience such tragedy, it is heartbreaking.  But witnessing others going through this is heartbreaking also.

I asked if they were surprised at the number of homeless.  “No, we are not surprised, with the way the economy is, it’s just hard.  Jim tells me, “Seattle is at the top of his list for caring for the homeless.  I said Seattle is a much bigger place, so it’s probably easier for them to take care of the homeless there.  Jim said, “I disagree.  In a smaller community where there are less people, less crowds, it should be easier to help.  I have never seen so many churches in such a small square mileage area as it is here in Bowling Green. They are surprised there is not a better system here.

I ask, “What do you want people to know about homelessness?”  “Jim responds, “Homelessness is in all shapes, sizes, colors, from the professional to the mediocre.  It doesn’t take but one unfortunate experience to put anybody on the streets.  They can be those with mental problems and substance abuse.  They really need the care and understanding.  We are not looking for handouts.  We just want help.  We want to help ourselves, but we just need somewhere to turn to show us how to help ourselves in this situation.  Salvation Army has been great in putting a roof over our heads and meals, but it has been very difficult.  There needs to be a better support system.  We get more understanding from each other (other homeless people) than we do from others.  The other homeless help us more in telling us where to go to apply for jobs, how to get around in the city, etc. than do the professionals who are suppose to be there to help us.”

They have been here a week and no one has told them about Hotel, Inc. or Community Action, or Hope House.  I tell them.

I ask, “What could be more helpful in this town for the homeless?”  Transportation is a big problem.  Most are on foot.  Those of us who have a car cannot afford the gas.  If there are still payments left on the vehicle, it’s about to be taken away.  People who are older get so tired of walking all over town looking for jobs and having to go here and there, that they are worn out and just don’t have the energy the next day to get out there and do it all over again.”  Phones are another problem.  If they have a phone, they can’t afford to keep minutes on it.  If they don’t have a phone, just having enough money to use in a pay phone can be too much for them.  When you’re looking for a job, people may have to make as many as 8-10 calls a day.  That’s a lot of phone change to a homeless person.”  The professionals who are trying to help could give better directions.  We are not from this town and do not know the streets.  The people have given us awful directions and we have wasted what precious gas we have left in our truck trying to find the places we need to get to. Childcare would be wonderful.  It is so hard going all over town looking for jobs and applying here and there with a little one.”

He continues, “We are more fortunate than others. We still have our truck and some belongings we carry in the truck.  Some only have a backpack. 

Jim was down on himself. “We traveled 2000 miles with the promise of a good job and a good wage.  It didn’t happen.  I guess that was an irresponsible thing for me to do with a family. I should not have a problem with my experience and licensing, but you just never know.”

I ask about food.  He is diabetic, she is vegetarian, and the baby is picky.  But you learn quickly that anything is better than nothing. 

Their dream is to own their own RV Park.  They love camping and the outdoors, which I think, goes along with their belief system.  Jim says, “We are just like everybody else, we just want to be happy, be free, have a job, secure work, a home, a safe place for children.  We don’t need or even want extravagance.”  Susan pipes up chuckling, “A shower is good enough for me.”  Jim says, “Just the American dream like anybody else, security and safety.”

My heart was breaking for this sweet, sweet couple and child.  The parents both were so articulate and very intelligent and even though I felt I could see despair, they were very friendly, and I still saw hope.  He has training and experience.  And yet, sitting on the bench homeless as the others I have talked with.  I wanted to pray with them as I do the others, but they backed away and I left it alone as I knew their beliefs were different from mine.  I hugged them both and told them I believed they were going to make it.

My thoughts-When I went back to my home and stepped inside, I felt a flood of emotions.  My house, which is just average size, suddenly felt very big.  I had a huge sense of gratitude as I opened up my refrigerator to take out a drink and a snack.  My eyes burned with tears as I walked into my living room and sat down in my big, comfy chair to rest.  I’m not sure what my feelings were.  Were things not fair?  Was I feeling extreme gratitude for what I had and so sorrowful for the ones who don’t have?  I believe this is what was going on inside of me.  And as much as I respect the beliefs of the Indian culture, as a Christian, I cannot agree.  It saddens me that they cannot believe in the God who created this beautiful earth that they enjoy so much.  They do not believe in the God who can fill them with joy and peace that passes all understanding.  They do not have a God who they can call out to who will walk through the fire and the waters with them and they do not have God who they can pour out their heart to and pour out their gratitude and love to when there is the chance to do so.  And I believe their eternity is in danger and they don’t even see it, because they are being deceived with something else that looks good and sounds good, but is not good in the end.  Isn’t that just how the enemy works; such the liar and deceiver he is.  Tears are falling down my cheeks as I write, and then I think, I have a relationship with the Creator of this Universe.  I may not have been able to pray with this family, but I can pray for them.  And I will.

The next day. . .money was gathered and I took it to them to fill their gas tank.  They had mentioned in the interview as they were sitting in their room in the Salvation Army the other night, how they were craving snacks.  I took them a bag filled with snacks.  The baby was into it before I left.  They wanted to pay back at some time.  I said no need, to just pay it forward.  They said they would.  I believe them.

Would you please say a prayer for them?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Twilight by Tim Bridgman

Tim is my oldest son.  He has played the piano since he was 5 years old.  When he turned 16 he began writing his own music.  Tim was an excellent son and big brother for 17 years, succeeding at everything he did.  Then at age 18, he stepped onto a different path and left everything good behind. 

The 4th definition of twilight in the dictionary says this. . .a condition of decline following success. This seems to describe his life perfectly over the last five years.  He is a very sweet young man who seemed to have gotten lost somehow.  I pray for the sun to rise soon in his life resurrecting the boy we once knew. . .the boy who had this music inside of him. . .It may be twilight now, but my hope is in the Lord who watches over him, and I know he will return all the way and the sun will shine again on him.

Tim wrote this song, Twilight, when he was 16 years old and is playing it on his electric keyboard.  The photography is my husband's.

For now, I listen and remember. . .listen with me and enjoy!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Gifts

803.  watching a new faith grow
804.  friend treating me to lunch
805.  her sweet company
806.  hearing Greg share his faith again from the park bench to another homeless bench sitter
807.  sharing about my prodigal for the first time with Greg
808.  hearing Greg tell me if I ever get low and want to talk, he'll always be there for me 
809.  understanding why the "waiting" was necessary
810.  farmers market
811.  beautiful reds from the gardens of ones who know what they're doing

812.  beautiful designs from nature

813.  fun shapes and colors from the ground

814.  stripes

815.  sea of white pumpkins

816.  potatoes, to fix in so many ways

817.  beauty from the earth to decorate with

818.  cute, stuffed ones to look over the inventory

819.  nice aftenoon out with my husband
820.  butterflies

821.  interesting insect

822.  husband giving me wildflowers he picked

823.  newspaper article on Greg and me advertising the blanket ministry starting up again for the coming winter

Thank you Father once again for the many gifts.

May you all have a beautiful, blessed week!

linking with

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Tree

(I've shared this story before on facebook and have been asked to share it again.  This story is what I shared with Greg on the park bench that one glorious day. . .after I finished, he hung his head for a couple of minutes. . .then looked up at me with tears and said, "I want you to help me pray that prayer, I want to know that I'm saved and that it's for real."  The power of God through this tree story continues on. . .) 

I believe miracles happen every day, and many go by unnoticed.  But I noticed particular ones regarding a lawnmower, a pocket knife, and many other items which I will elaborate on later. God uses many ordinary things to bring about miraculous events.  One of these was the cottonwood tree.  God used that enormous tree to show his enormous faithfulness not only to me but to others during a difficult time and the story brought comfort to many after the fact.

It began back in the 90's when my boys were little.  I became convicted to join an evangelism team at my church.  Being the reserved, quiet person that I was, this was way out of my comfort zone, but like I said, I was much convicted to join, so I did.  We learned in FAITH how to present the gospel to people and to witness in a non confrontational way and it was easy to learn.

After learning the program well, I became convicted again to share this with my dad and step mom not being sure where they stood on the subject.  After going through the FAITH program, I became eager to know if my loved ones were going to be in Heaven some day.  So one week-end, I packed up the boys and myself in the car and drove the hour drive to Tulsa, with the sole purpose of sharing the gospel with them and finding out for sure where they stood.  I was a little nervous how they would react because these kinds of discussions never happened with them in the past, for reasons I don't really know.  But I prayed and asked others to pray that it would go well, and that I would not be nervous. When I rang their doorbell, the nerves dissappered.

Their response was remarkable.  They were very inviting and interested in what I had to say.  My dad said he realized he had not always done things right, and showed remorse for not being in church the last 50 years, but did say he had accepted the Lord into his heart when he was young, and he knew it was real and he had confidence that he was going to heaven.  Jean, my step mom said she believed in the Ten Commandments and that she was ok.  I explained the gospel again to her and she said she believed everything I said, so I let it drop.  I wasn't convinced about her salvation but I would continue to pray for her.  Our conversation that day lifted many concerns and barriers I had with dad, and I felt good about it all.  I shared with them the stories about my stubborn lawnmower, the lost pocketknife and other things that were answers to prayer.  I had never been able to share my faith and my walk with the Lord with them before.  I don't know why.  It never seemed comfortable before this to talk about such things with them, but this day was different, and I left their home feeling very happy.

My step mom, Jean, had been mowing their yard since my dad had not been feeling well.  When I was there, she said her lawnmower would not start and after hearing about my past answered prayers, one specifially about my mower, she asked if I would pray for hers.  I did, and God faithfully answered right away. Dad and Jean were noticeably moved by this and they began showing an interest in more of my stories relating to God and prayer.

During this time my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer.  The courage he showed was remarkable to me and demonstrated the kind of man he really was.  Few complaints came from him as he underwent radiation and chemotherapy.  The side affects were hard but Jean became a rallying point for strength, standing with him through the darkest of days, and my respect for her grew immensely at this time.  Eventually, the cancer spread to his bones, and the doctors gave him little if any hope of surviving.

I was experiencing a range of emotions.  My parents divorced when I was a little girl, and dad was not in my life a lot after that. He was around, and when I went to visit, was always good, but he never took that extra time or special time that I saw other dads doing with their daughters.  He never came to me, I always had to go to him.  And then, it was just a surface relationship.  It tore at me for a long time, then as a young married woman, I gave it to the Lord. 

Eventually dad was hospitalized and Jean  was physically worn down from the constant care he required.  I told her to get some rest while I stayed with him through the night.  Late that evening as I sat in the dimly lit room, I gazed at my dad sleeping in his bed and bitterness began to come up inside of me again,  I was so tired and emotional.  I thought of all the times he had not been there for me, and why was I now here for him?  I knew it was an ugly thought but couldn't help it.  I prayed out in anguish to the Lord, "Why am I having these feeling now, after all these years, I gave these up to you years ago, why are they back? Please take them away for good."  After uttering those words, I felt the presence of Jesus so strong.  It was if He was standing there at the chair I was sitting in and I clearly heard these words..."He may not have been the father you needed, but I am expecting you to be the daughter I created you to be."  I looked up at my father and immediately my negative feelings felt like they had just soared out of me and in came the positive feelings of compassion and love like I had never felt before with him.  I loved him always because he was my father.  It was the right thing to do in my mind.  But now I was loving him from my heart.  Jesus put it there and it was real.  I was able to help take care of dad from that moment on and never had another negative feeling toward him ever again.  God had healed my heart in that situation.  I knew He was telling me that in spite of what other people do or don't do, in spite of circumstances around me, that I, as His child, was to live in the way He had taught me through His Word.  I was to live the right way no matter what else was going on around me or how other people were.  I knew this was right, and I had such a peace that night, I will never forget it.  It doesn't mean times would never be hard again.  Obviously, they were years later with my son Tim, and during those times, I would remember my night in dad's hospital room and God's faithfulness and it would give me hope to come through this tough time.

And by the way, isn't this just like God?  After praying out to God at my Dad's bedside and God completely healed my heart over this relationship, the next morning my Dad sat up and apologized to me for all the wasted years and hurts I had gone through.  I told him forgiveness had already happened and for the few weeks that followed, I had that father, daughter relationship that I had always desired. 

It was during the spring of that year my dad was sick, that the storms that so often blow across the Oklahoma landscape began to stir once again. An unusually severe storm with stong winds blew across central Oklahoma from the northwest.  I had gone back home as I was traveling back and forth from my home in Edmond to Tulsa on the week-ends to be with dad.  I had received a phone call from my sister that dad had taken a turn for the worse and I better get back there.  I packed myself and the boys to leave the next day.  That night, this terrible wind storm came through Edmond.  The next morning, when we got up and looked outside in the back, we noticed one of the giant cottownwood trees had blown over.  A giant ball of roots and soil had been uproooted leaving a huge gouged out cavern where the tree had once been anchored.  I had to leave for Tulsa, so I asked Keith to find out if it was our tree, as it was sitting just behind our fence where a small creek ran.  I knew it would have to be handled professionally and knew we did not have the money to take card of such a big tree.  The boys and I went to Tulsa and as I sat in my dad's hospital room that night, shared about the tree going down.  They asked what were we going to do about it, and I said I was just going to pray and ask God to take care of it.  I did just that when I went to bed that night, telling Him I trusted Him to take care of this huge tree.

The next evening as I was standing in my dad's room at the hospital, the phone rang.  It was my mother, who had just gotten off the phone with Keith. She was all excited, telling me how Keith had come home for lunch that day, and was looking out the back door while eating his sandwich,  and noticed that the huge cottonwood tree was standing back up!  Standing straight up!  I knew this tree was way too big for anyone to have stood it up.  It was at leat 75 feet tall, and the root ball was way past my arm span.  There were no tire marks or footprints in the wet ground.  God had stood the tree back up and was in perfet condition!!!  The ground where the root ball had been torn from looked like nothing had happened.  The ground looked untouched!  I was praising the Lord and the eyes of my dad and Jean got as big as saucers wanting to know what had happened.  I hung the phone up and told them God had stood our tree back up.  They couldn't believe it.  That night they wanted to hear  all my other stories of how God worked in my life.  Then before we went to sleep, dad and Jean called me over to his bed and asked if we could hold hands and would I pray.  I had to bite the inside of my mouth to keep from crying.  I had wanted this kind of relationship with them for years, and I was feeling so blessed to stand there praying with them and for them.  This was a miracle to!

As my dad grew weaker, every time I spoke to him, the first question out of his mouth would be, 'Is your tree still standing?"  And I would be able to say "Yes, tall, healthy, and strong."  It seemed the tree was a sense of comfort and peace to my dad and Jean.  The simple cottonwood tree became a symbol of hope for them knowing that God was watching over them and that seemd to give them a calming assurance.

In a matter of weeks, as I, my sister and brother, Jean and her daughter Tammy, stood around my dad's bed in his home, we watched him breathe his last breath.  I wept in sadness at losing him, but was also comforted in knowing I had truely reconciled within myself of my relationship with him and knowing confidently about his salvation.

That tree continued to stand, healthy and strong for the rest of the season.  During the rest of that year, Jean battled cancer herself, and like dad, every time I spoke to her, she would ask, "Is your tree still standing?"  Again, I was always able to say "Yes" and she would get that peaceful look on her face.  During her time of cancer, a church had given her a tract and on the back was the sinner's prayer.  One day while visiting with her, she showed me the prayer and said how beautiful it was and that she prayed it all the time.  I told her that was what I had been talking about when I was sharing the FAITH plan.  She said she knew that now, but I guess it took the tract to help her fully understand that it wasn't about following the Ten Commanments and living a good life.  She was able to put everything together in her mind, and I believe she truly came to have that everlasting relationship with the Lord.  Nine months after my dad died, she breathed her last breath.

After I got back home, the following Sunday as I was sitting in my Sunday School class, I felt the Lord nudging me to tell all that he had done in the last year.  Again, this was out of my comfort zone to speak in front of a group of people, but I couldn't keep quiet, for He had done so much.  I shared everything with the class, and they were very moved.  God gave me opportunities to share the tree story many times and always had an impact on them.  I had several come to me and say that their prayer life improved dramatically.  They said to me that they had never thought to pray for things like lawnmowers, lost items, trees, that they had always thought God should not be bothered with such things.  But the Bible says to pray about anything and everything.  God wants us to talk with him about all of it, the big and the little.  That's what a relationship is all about.

A few days after I had gone home from Jean's funeral, another one of those Oklahoma thunder storms with heavy winds came through Edmond, and the trees began to wave.  My oldest son and I were standing at the back door, watching particularly the cottonwood tree waving and bending.  Lightning was cracking everywhere.  I prayed "Lord, please keep the tree up and keep it strong".  Just then the thunder boomed and the lightning cracked, and Tim and I watched the tree go down.  Instead of thinking Oh No!, I just smiled thinking He stood it up once, He can do it again.  I prayed for Him to do just that.  The next morning I got up and ran to the back door to see the tree up but it wasn't.  I prayed again, and the next morning got up to look.  It was still down.  By the end of the week, I stood at the back door, and said to the Lord, "Why did you let it go down, it meant so much to so many.  That still small voice said very clearly, "It is not needed anymore".  In my mind I could picture the two people that tree meant the most to.  I could picture my dad and Jean standing in Heaven together smiling, and I could just hear them saying, "We don't need the tree anymore, it was only a symbol.  We are here with Jesus himself and standing in His glory"  Again, smiling, I was filled with peace.

When we were getting ready to move to Kentucky, several people asked if they could have a piece of the tree. Our sunday school teacher came over with his chain saw and cut a bunch of rings and at our last Sunday at church there in Oklahoma, we passed out tree rings from the trunk of our car.  I packed up several and brought them to my new home.

From the Experiencing God Bible study is this piece:
When Israel crossed the Jordan River into the promised land, God gave Joshua the following instructions:  "Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.  These stones were to serve as a sign to the Israelites.  Joshua explained."In the future, when your children ask you, "What do these stones mean?"  tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord.  When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.  These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever."  (Joshua 4:6-7)

The stones were to be a reminder of a mighty act of God in behalf of His people.  On many other occasions men built alters or set up stone (OR tree rings:)  as a reminder of a significant encounter with God.

Little did I know at the time that I would look back at the miracle of that tree and be reminded of God's power and be comforted over and over again in the fact that He sees our every situation and He would be with me through the storms of my life.  I would learn as the saying goes...Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.

my tree ring of remembrance

Linking with

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mulitudes on Monday/Moments

How much wiser we are when we live the life out of every day, recognizing all God gives us in the moment.
Luci Swindoll

recongnizing the moments. . .

787.  yellow wildflowers in mason jars
788.  husband who cleans our carpets
789.  son telling me ALL about his college classes with enthusiasm
790.  new bible study
791.  finding new deli in town
792.  watching homeless woman moving into an apartment
793.  watching my friends bring her a bed complete with pretty sheets, blankets, comforter and pillows
794.  watching same friends bring her a kitchen table and setting fresh flowers in a vase in the middle with a candle
795.  witnessing a grateful smiling woman because all she had been sleeping on was the cold, hard floor
796.  experiencing Jehovah Jirah provide in such beautiful ways
797.  movie night with my guys
798.  Greg sitting in church with us and hearing him Amening through sermon
799.  eating out after church with Greg and hubby
800.  hearing Greg say he thinks he wants to join our church
801.  great conversations
802.  walking barefoot through crunchy leaves with hubby
803.  growing friendships
804.  watching a faith grow

linking with

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hearing Impaired?

I met a sweet woman the other day who was hearing impaired.  I was a little apprehensive to meet her because I didn’t know if I could communicate with her.  It turned out fine because she has a wonderful skill of reading lips and she can speak well enough along with hand gestures that I knew what she was saying.
            I got to thinking about her later and thought she probably hears a lot better than us fully functioning hearing people, although, I wouldn’t say we are always “fully functioning” in the hearing department.  Have you ever told your child to clean their room and they don’t seem to hear you.  But you can say to your spouse in a quiet voice, in a different room from your child, “Let’s go out to eat” and that child runs in and says, “Where are we going?”  My husband and I call that selective hearing.
            I’m going to wager a good guess that we all have been guilty of selective hearing at one time or another, with our family, friends and maybe even more with our Lord.  I know I have.
            For years, He was telling me to witness but I turned a deaf ear.  I was afraid of witnessing so I just pretended not to hear, ignoring the voice.  Years later, (He never let up), I finally decided to join an evangelism group and for the first year was the trainee going out on visits with a team and a leader, learning and practicing as I went.  The second year I became the leader of a group. This was huge for someone who was always very quiet and just wanted to blend into the crowd.  This experience gave me confidence like I had never had before, and realized that when you are being obedient to the voice of the Lord, he will give you the tools to succeed. This just increased my faith all the more.  There were tremendous blessings for me through this experience and was a huge growth period in my life. With this new confidence, I walked right into other experiences I would not have before, and I received many more blessings.  The blessings of getting to share my faith, my love for God and seeing the light bulb come on for them.  I met a lot of great people.  God knew this would be so for me and I was glad He was so persistent.
            How many blessing I wonder we miss because we turn a deaf ear to Him.  He loves us and only wants what is best for us.  He wants to bless us and use us to bless others. So why do we tune Him out?  Maybe we just don’t hear Him at all because we have forgotten to listen for His voice.  Maybe we don’t recognize His voice because we do not spend the time we should with Him.  I think more than anything, we’re scared as I was with this lady.  But she took my hand and smiled at me and I was instantly at ease.
            The Lord wants to touch us, to smile on us…He says, “Hear my voice.”  John 10:27 , “The Lord speaks to His sheep and His sheep hear His voice.”   I smile as I think about the woman I met.  I know she is a believer in Christ so I know even though she cannot hear my voice, she can hear the voice of our Savior. 
            Later, I felt ashamed of myself for being apprehensive in meeting her.  She is a sweet child of God who some might say she is handicapped.  I believe between the two of us, I was the one handicapped, but God put the two of us together for just a few minutes, and I was taught a valuable lesson.  One, not to be afraid of someone who communicates differently, and to make sure my own ears are in tune with not just others, but with my Lord always.  I don’t think of this lady as hearing impaired anymore.  I and others who practice selective hearing are the ones who should be called hearing impaired. 
            I would like to challenge you along with myself the next time someone speaks to us, let’s give them our full attention.  After all, is that not what we want when we are the ones speaking?  And when we hear from our Lord, let’s not turn a deaf ear to Him; let’s not practice selective hearing with Him.  Remember, He will never tell you something bad, and He will never tell you to do something that He will not give you the tools to accomplish that something with.  Let’s be excited to hear from Him, to be obedient to His voice, and see what exciting things happen.
            Did you hear me?
“The Lord speaks to His sheep and His sheep hear His voice.”
John 10:27

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Voice of the Homeless~Bruce

Bruce fills the bill of the typical stereotype most people have of the homeless.  He is a die-hard alcoholic and has been for over 30 years. He wanders the streets, probably thinking about that next drink.  A lot of people would not want to look at this man, let alone talk with him.  I did.  His mind seemed to have been affected by all the years of drinking.  I saw inconsistencies in his talk. He was not scary, he looked broken and in need of healing and love.  He looked burned out on life and had a very sad countenance.   But a tiny sparkle came in his eye and a few chuckles when I took him back to his growing up years and he remembered some good times.  It all had to do with helping others. . .if only it could have lasted. . .

Greg asked Bruce in the square downtown if he would talk to me and share his story.  Bruce said “No.”  After he saw me chatting with Greg for about 20 minutes, he changed his mind.  He came up to me and said. “It’s nice to meet you.” 

Bruce is from Indianapolis and is 46 years old.  He said he has been here in Bowling Green for 14 days.  His sister bought him a Greyhound bus ticket to get here.  After his stay at the Salvation Army, he has been staying down by the river at the bridge.

“Why did you come here.”  “I couldn’t get my social security, disability back home, so I came here to get it.”  Both his parents had died and all the kids moved out.  This left him homeless.  “When did this happen?”  “About 10 months ago.”  He can’t live with any of the siblings because there are not good relationships between them.

He wants to go back to Indianapolis, wants to go back home.  He now tells me he has been here for about a month and a half.  “People are weird here.  You ask them something, and some will help you and some will tell you to get the hell away.”  He can’t work because he has seizures.  “When was the last time you worked?”  “A year and 2 months ago, as a janitor.”

Bruce dropped out of high school in the twelfth grade only being shy of two credits. “Why did you drop out when you were so close?”  “Because I was not any good in Math and English and I just wasn’t gonna make it.  I said, the heck with it, I’ll go work at the car wash and that’s what I did.  I got the job that very day I quit school and stayed there for a good 1 ½ years.  Then I became a janitor. I worked there for six years and then my seizures started.”  Are you on medication for those?” Yes, it does the trick, it stops them.”  He now tells me he is 48 years old. 

“Did you ever try to get your GED?”  “Nope, it’s too much of a hassle.”

“What do you want to do with the rest of your life.”  “Go back to Indianapolis, and get my own apartment, get food stamps, and hopefully live until I’m 72.”  He laughs.

“Will you meet up with your sisters when you get back?”  “Maybe the oldest one, the one who bought me my bus ticket, but the rest of em, I doubt it.  They’re a bunch of snobs and knuckleheads.  It’s been like that all my life.”

I asked about church growing up.  “We went as a family every Sunday.  The kids had to go.  Dad fired up the car and had those four doors open and we kids had better be in.  I went all the way until I was a junior in high school.”  “What kind of a church was it?”  “It was a Christian church.”

“What did you think of it?”  “It was alright,” he said very pleasantly, smiling now like he was remembering something good.  “We always had something to do.  The pastor’s right hand man always had something for us to do.  I remember one Sunday, all us kids were told to bring our dirty clothes, you know, an extra pair of pants and an extra shirt.  They took us to a friends house and we painted the garage and all the trim and replaced a couple of boards.  It was nice to help someone else.”

“I learned that you gotta ask Jesus into your heart.  I’ve asked 9000 times”. I told him it only takes once.  “I know, but I like to keep Him awake up there.”  “I don’t believe He ever sleeps,” I said.  He chuckled.  “Did you ever pray that prayer, asking Jesus into your heart?”  “Yep?”  Do you pray to Him asking for help?”  “Yep, all the time.  I always say, ‘Jesus, are you going to help me?”  “Has it ever come?”  “Every now and then.”

“You’re making it day to day, that’s a good thing, right?”  “It’s getting old.  I’m about ready to jump into the river and not come out.”  “Please don’t do that!  “OH, I probably won’t.”

Bruce said he was not into drugs but has been an alcoholic for 32 years.  He has tried to quit but it is too hard.  He got out of a rehab after 60 days, got off the bus, crossed the street and entered into a liquor store buying beer.  “Why did you do that?”  “I had the shakes so bad and I felt terrible and I just wanted a beer so bad.”  “Can’t you fight past that?”  “No.”  “Do you want to?”  “No. My dad drank all his life and I will too.”

“How do you get the liquor?”  “I steal it. Steal it from the stores during the day.  I never get caught.”  I must have looked shocked, because he chuckles again.  “They got all those people walking around, they can’t keep their eyes on just one person.” 

“Have you ever been in jail?”  “Yep, twice for intoxication.  Just got out the other morning.  I stayed in there for five hours.  Then they brought me breakfast on a tray and said after I ate, I could go.”

“Do you know Jesus loves you?”  “Yep”.  “How do you feel about Him?”  “He’s a good man.  At least He’s on top of things from time to time.”

“If you could go back and change anything in your life, what would if be?”  “Nothing.”  “If you could change and start over, would you drink?”  “Yep, more than likely.”  “You think drinking has made your life tough?”  “Tough!  Whatever the good Lord throws at me is tough, even if I’m not drinking.  The drinking makes me more relaxed.”

“If you could talk to kids around that 15-16 year old stage, what advice would you give them?”  “I’d tell them ‘Don’t drink outside, stay inside.”  “You wouldn’t tell them to not drink at all?”  “They’re gonna do whatever they want to do.”  “And you?”  “I’m gonna drink no matter what.”  “Because you like it so much?”  “Yeah!" “Would you tell them to stay in high school and graduate?”    Nothing I say is gonna affect them, so I’m not gonna say nothing.  They can do whatever they want.”  “If they could graduate and get that degree, do you thnk it would help them get further in life?”  “Who knows.”

I asked if he had any dreams.  He looked at me like I was crazy.  “I just want to get back home and have my own place.”

“What do you want people to know about homelessness?”  “Whatever you do, do it with somebody else.”  “Why, is it lonely by yourself?”  “YES IT IS!”  “Do you have friends?”  “I did back home, but not here, I keep to myself.”

I checked my cell phone to see what time it was and noticed he did not have a watch.  “How do you keep track of time?”  “I listen to the bell that rings in town.  Every ring means another hour.” 

I was hearing a lot of inconsistencies and I felt like I was losing him, so I decided to wrap it up and hope I could talk him with again later.

I thanked him for talking with me and I asked if I could pray for him.”  He immediately took off his baseball cap and bowed his head.  I touched him and prayed for him.  After the “Amen”, I backed away and looked up at him.  He was still bowed.  I waited for him to look up and he continued to stay bowed.  I touched his arm and asked if he was ok.  He looked up at me with tears and smiled and walked away.

As I watched him walk away I could feel the tears burning behind my eyes.  I wondered how long it had been since someone had lovingly touched him.  I wondered how long it had been since someone prayed over him.

I had to sit back down on the bench by myself and gain some composure. .  His talk with me seemed to have a lot of inconsistencies.  He talked slowly and seemed confused.  He was dirty and tired.  I don’t know if was drunk, I did not smell alcohol on him.  He just might have been dulled from the years of hard drinking and the seizures has had endured from the past.

 This man’ s life was so sad and it broke my heart.  He also has this awful demon called alcoholism in him, and he just doesn’t seem to care anymore.  He seemed to have no fight in him.  He looked like a soul that was almost at the brink of giving up for good.  He has already given up in a lot of ways.  He looked like he was just holding on by a breath.

He smiled when he was reminiscing about the work he did for the pastor’s friend along with the others.  He said it felt good to help someone else.  If only he could have continued to stay in that mode.  But having an alcoholic father was no help and I wondered again about the discipleship in the church.  He said he was in a small town and this could have been a little country church where there were a not a lot of classes.  But as I pondered, I thought, it doesn’t take a class to be descipled.  It takes people.  There doesn’t need to be a classroom with 4 walls.  Jesus’ desciples were not in a classroom.  They were in the presence of one who wanted to teach them and who loved them.  We can do that too, no matter where we are.  It just takes a sacrifice of time.  I wonder if more would do this if they could see what a person would be without it, like Bruce.  Yes, Bruce made decisions, but I wonder if someone had invested more into him, if his life could have worked out and differently.  If someone had loved him continually with the love of Jesus, and continued to teach him the ways of Jesus, and prayed continually for him, would I have met Bruce this day as a homeless man?  

And then I think of my son who still seems to want to be the prodigal.  He was loved more than anything, disciplined with love, grew up in a very loving home with parents and a brother who lived for the Lord and for their family. He was constantly prayed over. We were a close family.

The devil came prowling around Bruce knowing he could get him with the alcohol.  The devil came prowling around my son at the age of 17-18 convincing him he was a man and could do what he wanted, whether it hurt us or not.  Bruce could have turned away and said “NO.”  I don’t know if Bruce is saved or not. My son is but is wandering for now. He could have turned away from the evil one and said “NO”.  But didn’t, because the evil one works so subtly that if you're eyes are off of the Lord and onto yourself, the prowler can grab you and you don't even see it coming. 

And so I go home this day and hit the floor on my knees praying for both and for all the others out there in the world the prowler is hunting and pray for their protection and for their eyes, their hearts to open up all the way to the One who is standing near waiting to be called upon; not just with a “What are you going to do for me?” but with a total surrendered heart to Him who can give life and give it more abundantly.

Note~I shared about Bruce and the conversation I had with him to some friends of mine, Beth and her husband Todd.  They were at the square the next day and saw Greg and offered him an extra sandwich they had.  Greg had already eaten lunch but offered it to Bruce who had been sitting on another bench.  He told Bruce to go over and thank them.  Bruce went over to Beth and Todd and held out his blackened, greasy hands and smiled, asking them to pray for him.  They took his hands and did.  I pondered. . .did Bruce remember being prayed over the day before and liked it so was asking for more?  Is God working on this man, is his heart being touched?  We may never know this side of Heaven, but that is my prayer for him. . .to be touched so mightily by the love of God, that inside that hardened shell becomes a softened heart that will truly reach out to the Savior before totally giving up.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Counting my Blessings

A little bit of this and a little bit of that makes my heart very full!

762.  first day of college for youngest son
763.  same son coming in at end of day smiling
764.  husband who works hard all day and then comes home to change brakes on son's car
765.  husband's patience and good nature
766.  meeting new faces all week
767.  life stories being shared with me
768.  praying with strangers and then feeling like friends
769.  friends going the extra mile
770.  my new friend at the park (this one is not homeless)

771.  getting e-mail from Ron Hall's office (author of Same Kind of Different As Me) saying he has seen my stories on the homeless and
wanted to thank me for the work being done in my community and is sending
me their second book.
772.  getting to thank him after waiting two years to do so
773.  phone call from friend telling me she's thinking of me and praying for me
774.  cool, Fall like weather
775.  ingredients to make my first pot of chili of the season
776.  seeing Greg share his new faith with others on the square. . .
777.  hearing Greg say he's happier than he has ever been
778.  chocolates with pecans and English walnuts
779.  fresh pot of tea
780.  homemade derby pie brought to me by sweet neighbor
781.  delivering little white lunch bags to the ICU rooms
782.  being hugged by a woman who was about to lose her husband
783.  being thankful, once again, for my husband
784.   sweet, supportive blog comments
785.  God's perfect timing
786.  learning to trust that perfect timing
787.  being in this magazine for the second time. . .
check out page 16

Keep your eyes and ears open and have a beautiful, blessed week!
linking with

Friday, September 9, 2011

To Anonymous

Dear Anonymous who commented on Richard's tattoos,

I was not going to respond to this comment, but after much prayer feel it is only right to respond on Richards behalf.  I think you totally missed the point of his story being shared and would invite you to go back and re-read it with a new heart and through the eyes of Christ. 

I feel Richard showed much courage in sharing his story with me, his hurts and pain and did so without anger or malice.  He was very gracious in talking about the people who had hurt him. He was very sweet and even though I have never been a fan of tattoos, I could most easily look over them to the sweet spirit behind them.  He would be much more attractive to me as a worker than someone who was not tattooed and had a wrong and ungracious spirit.  I told Richard if he came into my hospital room as a nurse with that sweet spirit of his and had gone through the dedication that it takes to become a nurse, I would have no problem with him being my nurse.

I also believe, and I say this with respect and love, that Richard showed much more courage in sharing his story with me and with the grace and respect that he showed me, than someone who leaves an ungracious remark hiding behind the name of anonymous.  I welcome any comments and views as long as they are clean, but I do not like the anonymous name.  If I am being vulnerable and my interviewees are being vulnerable, I would like to see my commenters being brave enough to stand behind their words. I would have appreciated it more that way.

I do hope you will come back and see this person with new eyes.  May you go through your day experiencing the grace, mercy and love of our Heavenly Father.

Praise be to God that He does not look on the outward appearance but at the heart!