Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Special Days

This week of September is always hard.  Dad's birthday is September 4th.  Mom and Dad's anniversary is September 10th.  So of course, I think about them a lot during this week.  But God, in His infinite wisdom has two other special days in this same time frame.

My grandson, Jayden, was born smack dab in the middle of those two special days, September 7th.  We gathered at my daughter's home to celebrate three whole years of life this year. Ironic since it is also the third year since Mom and Dad were killed.  And even though "our" family was way out numbered by my son-in-laws family, it was still good to be together.  My Aunt Sis, Uncle Virgil along with all of my children and grandchildren were there (although we certainly missed Grace, Mike's girlfriends daughter).  It was nice to watch all the cousins playing together and, as Aunt Sis said, making memories.

It is good to have a celebration of life in the middle of these two days because certainly Mom and Dad live!  They are more alive than we are!  Jesus was not kidding when He said, I come that they might have life and have it more abundantly!  

The other special day is also September 10th.  It is my "little" brother, Stephen's birthday.  I want to make it perfectly clear that Stephen is a year older than me.  I only call him my little brother because I have three brothers and he is the youngest of the three but I have the honor of being the baby of the family.  

Mom and Dad were married in 1952.  My oldest brother, Doug, was born in 1954.  Dave was next in 1955 and then Stephen in 1956.  By now I am sure you are able to guess that I came along the following year, 1957.  Clearly, the wedding anniversary came first in this succession of events.  I remember one year when I was about 11 or 12 years old we were celebrating Stephens birthday and Mom and Dads anniversary.  Sitting at the dinner table, Dave had an epiphany moment and blurted out to Mom, "Why did you and Dad get married on STEPHENS birthday?!"  I can still hear him saying and that and laugh when I think about it.  For those of you who know Dave, you understand it perfectly!

On this day which would have been Mom and Dad's 62nd anniversary, I shout out an extra Happy Birthday to my dear brother, Stephen who is, and always will be, one year older than me!  I hope you have a very special day especially knowing that Mom and Dad are celebrating their anniversary in heaven.  Always know that Mom and Dad loved you so much, they got married on your birthday!

Psalm 118:23-25 The Message

This is God's work.
   We rub our eyes - we can hardly believe it!
This is the very day God acted -
    Let's celebrate and be festive!
Salvation now, God.  Salvation now!
    Oh yes, God - a free and full life!

Monday, June 23, 2014

It Is Not All About Me

I love my ladies at the jail!  The group changes often because it is a jail but I dearly love them all!  There was a lady there for several months whom I will call Angela (just like Dragnet, I have changed the names).  At first she did not want to come to Bible study but after a while she began sitting in.  A bit longer and she was participating.  After a few more weeks she accepted Jesus into her heart.  She began reading her Bible, praying, and growing in the Lord.  It was beautiful!

The day of her release was growing nearer and she was excited.  She was ready to go home.  She talked of getting back into church and staying clean.  She was only a few weeks away from her release date when something else popped up.  It was discovered that another county had a warrant out on her for an old charge.  Her release date was now put on hold.  She would be taken to the other county for a court appearance before she would be released.  She was devastated.  She was ready to give up on God.  How could He do this to her?  She began to question her new found faith.

I gave her some Scriptures to read and tried to reassure her that God still had a plan for her life.  He was still in control and He still loved her more than she would ever know.  She got through her doubt and decided that she would trust God even though she did not understand why she should spend more time in jail.  She determined herself to keep walking in faith. 

Another week or two went by when she got a new cell mate whom I will call Linda.  This young lady was scared and hurting.  Angela witnessed to her.  Shared Scripture with her.  Prayed with her. When I came the following Sunday night Linda was ready to receive Christ into her heart.  After she gave her life to the Lord she told me she was ready to take that step because of Angela.  She told me how Angela had helped her and witnessed to her.

I turned to Angela and said, "So if you had gone home when you were originally supposed to go, who would have been here for Linda?  God used you to bring her to salvation!  Congratulations, you have just laid up your first treasure in heaven!"  Angela's eyes brightened as she realized what God had done.  Her life had value!  She was of use to God!  She was so excited.  She said every extra day she had spent in jail was well worth it!  She went home the following week.

Now Linda is growing in her faith.  Last week Linda got a new cell mate.  Guess what?  Linda began ministering to her.  Witnessed to her.  Shared Scripture with her and prayed for her.  When I went to the jail for Bible study last night, Linda's new cell mate was ready to commit her life to the Lord!  It is a beautiful thing when we share what God has done for us.  It is so simple and yet so powerful!

Most of you know that my Mom and Dad were murdered in their home over three years ago.  They had been at my house the day before.  While I was at the jail that Sunday night, Mom had texted me that they had made it home just fine. Little did I know those texts were to be my last communication with her.  When I came out to my car that night and saw her message, I replied that I had enjoyed our visit and that two ladies had been saved at the jail that night.  Her response was simply, "Hallelujah!"  

Hallelujah indeed!

Luke 15:7 The Message

Count on it - there's more joy in heaven over one sinner's rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Three Years

It was three years ago this morning that my parents were brutally stabbed to death in their own home.  In some ways it seems it was a lifetime ago and in other ways it seems like just yesterday they were at my house celebrating Easter.  My friend, Bob Grossman, commented that he sat behind us at the sunrise service that morning.  My adopted momma, Barb Zuspann, met my dad at the church breakfast that same morning as well. 

The phone call from my dear brother, Dave the next morning was almost surreal.  It just could not be.  They had just been at my house the day before.  What was he talking about?  Mom and Dad both dead?  But it was real.  In the blink of an eye they were gone.

In the years since I have been through a plethora of emotions.  For the most part I have been okay but the times when I am not - when life seems to keep throwing me more curve balls - I have sincerely doubted my ability and my willingness to keep going.  Just when I think I'm fodder for the looney pen God's peace comes through and I continue on. 

The constants in my life are many and I know God put all of them there.  My family, kids and now grandkids no less, what a blessing!  My ladies Bible study group - Praying Heiresses on Demand (PhD's), my mixed small group, Sinners and Saints, and the ladies of cell block C in Sangamon County Jail.  They all have blessed me richly and keep me going!

But one other constant that God brought to me is Danielle Loftus.  In a tragic jet ski accident July, 2010, this beautiful 14 year old girl suffered a traumatic brain injury.  Since that time she cannot eat, talk, walk, or even voluntarily move her limbs.  God has laid it on my heart to pray for her.  Nearly every Friday afternoon I go to her house and pray for her healing. 

I know God will heal her.  He has spoken to me that her healing is here.  He has shown me that her miraculous healing will usher in a wave of revival unlike any we have ever experienced here before!  Dad had prayed for and saw many people healed in the years before his death.  He seemed to be most effective when praying for people with head and back problems.  That is Danielle.  My brother Stephen and I both prayed for a passing on of Mom and Dad's spirit after their deaths.  I feel Danielle's healing will come in part because of their faith.

Danielle has just turned 18.  Her class is graduating from high school this year.  She cannot get the years back but God can restore what has been taken from her and her family in other ways.  Let's throw a curve ball to Satan.  Please join me in praying for Danielle and her dear family.  Oh the joy that will be released when droves of people turn their hearts to The Lord!  God is moving and as a friend said recently, He is the ultimate multi-tasker!

Be sure to give your loved ones a kiss and a hug.  Tell them in no uncertain terms how much you love them.  There is no guarantee of tomorrow!

Genesis 50:19-21 (The Message)

Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God? Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people. Easy now, you have nothing to fear; I’ll take care of you and your children.” He reassured them, speaking with them heart-to-heart.