The Missing Link

“Buy it for yourself,” she said.

I looked into her dark brown eyes and wondered if a ten year old girl with no mortgage to pay, groceries to worry about or a vehicle to maintain could really understand the value of a dollar.

“I am sure I can’t afford it, and I only put it on to see what it looked like. Not to buy it.”

It sure felt nice with the coolness of the silver chain encircling my wrist and the light catching the pink and white stones to make it glitter.

I had entered the store in my usual way telling myself at the door that I couldn’t purchase anything.  I had to be sure that both girls had clothes to wear and food on the table. How I had found myself gazing into the jewelry cases was beyond me. Obviously, it was a moment of weakness that I shouldn’t have let myself indulge in.

“Ask the lady how much,” she persisted.

We were talking in low whispers at this point. I had gone from looking to now wearing the item that had called my name from the display.

The salesperson was standing inches away marking items. Without much enthusiasm, I said,

“Could you tell me how much this is?”

I really didn’t want to know because the minute she spoke, I knew I was going to take it off and the magical moment would be over. There is nothing more frustrating to want something and then have to put it back and walk away. I was mentally beating myself up over it. I should have not touched it at all.

“Let’s see,” she said pulling out the box. She looked at the tag.

“That doesn’t seem right to me. Hold on a minute. Let me double check.”

I had this awful feeling creeping into my stomach that I was going to hand it back to her.

She returned with her glasses perched on the end of her nose. She began punching numbers into her calculator. She pulled out an ad and did more button pushing.

“Okay. Well, it is $50. It says it retails for about $150, but we have a sale going on right now. Wow, that is a really good deal for that. Those are real crystals.”

I glanced down at my daughter who was speaking to me sternly non-verbally. I felt the guilt of paying the money as I stood there admiring the piece.

I fought down the negative feelings and decided to get it anyway because it had been so long since I had gotten anything for myself. The divorce had left me thinking that I had to make sure I spent every bit of money on the kids to be sure they were taken care of.

The woman grabbed the long white box and we followed her to the register. She began the process of entering in the item along with the discounts she had mentioned. In the middle of it, she leaned into look closer at the screen on her register.

“You aren’t going to believe this,” she said.

Oh, no. Here comes the bad news. She probably had done her math wrong, I thought.

“It rang up at $29.00.  I have gone over all my numbers and it keeps coming up as that.  I will do it one more time just to be sure.”

After a few moments, she said,

“You need to go out and buy yourself a lottery ticket because today is your lucky day.  It keeps coming up at $29, so that must be the price.”

I handed over my debit card inwardly thanking God that I could keep the bracelet on for an even cheaper price.

After the transaction was done, she said again,

“Really, go buy that lottery ticket!”

That was ten years ago.  I have worn it off and on over the years with many compliments.  Last week, it broke. I was sitting at an outdoor picnic table, lifted my wrist and the heart fell to the ground leaving the chain around my arm.

With much disappointment, I put it in my purse.  A few days later, I drove to a jeweler by my house to see if it could be fixed.

While I was parking my car in the lot, I found myself thinking again about money.  Much in the same way that I had been when I bought the bracelet.  I wondered how much it would cost, and would I be able to afford it.  This then led to other thoughts about upcoming bills, health insurance payments and a host of things that rushed to the forefront of my thinking.  By the time I walked in the front door, I felt somewhat burdened mentally.

I approached the counter and a woman with silver hair and large black glasses greeted me.  I took the two pieces out of my purse and laid them on the counter.  I explained what had happened as she examined it.

She jotted down information on an envelope.   A repetitive sound started coming from a back room.

“I am sorry,” she said.  “Do you mind if I run back there for a second?  I have an alarm going off on my phone.”

“That’s okay,” I replied.

When she returned, she said,

“I have to take medication four times a day since I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I can’t remember to take it all the time, so I set my alarm to remind me.”

Suddenly, my small worries about finances didn’t seem so great.

“How are you doing now?”  I asked.

Her complexion was beaming and her smile was so bright.  Her eyes looked energetic, and I would have never guessed she had been through such a medical trauma.

“I feel really good.  God loves me, and He has helped me through it all.”

I took her hand and said,

“I am so glad to meet you.  You look so healthy.  I would have never known you had been sick.  You look great.”

She squeezed my hand.

“I am seventy years old, and I have had a really good life.  If I had not made it through, I kept telling my family I was okay with going on to heaven.  But, I am still here.  And, I feel His love for me even more.  You cannot worry about things.  You know that scripture that says He feeds the birds of the air, and we shouldn’t worry about what we are to eat and drink?  The one where He says don’t worry about tomorrow?  That’s my scripture verse.  He is in charge of everything, and He loves us so much.”

She finished writing out my order and said,

“This will only be about $10 to fix.  I will do the job myself and make sure it is done perfectly.”

Before I left, I took her hand again, and I prayed for her body to be completely whole and healthy from head to toe.  I felt as if we had blessed each other in a way that only can happen when there is divine intervention.

My previous anxiety about my budget had left.  I got into the car with a renewed strength that all was well.  Even though I have had many experiences where I know my prayers have been answered, I still have moments where I need reassurance that I have a support system working on my behalf that I cannot see.  Her words of faith were just what I needed to remind me that I am not alone.

I got my bracelet back the other day looking as good as the day I bought it. As I took in her handiwork,  I realized that when one little loop of metal was missing, it upset my ability to wear it and enjoy it.

Isn’t that just like allowing God into your life?  He really is what keeps it all together whether we acknowledge it or not.  A relationship with your Heavenly Father will make things go a lot smoother if you are struggling. Give heaven a chance to assist you in all things.  Prayer really is the missing link.

 

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Going Out With a Bang

He pulled into my grandparent’s driveway and sighed in relief. He had packed up the three kids and made the 500 mile drive much more cautiously this time. He had checked his speed, looked to make sure there were no cars following too close and fastened up his seat belt.

The cause of his anxiety was that the night before he had a nightmare from which he had awakened in a shivering sweat. The content was that he had died. He could not recall how his demise had come but only that he had not survived. With that image still in mind, he was determined to play it safe in the car without mentioning it to anyone. He thought it was either a warning to watch his driving, or it was just an overactive imagination. Either way, he wasn’t taking his chances.

My mom, who was pregnant with me at the time, could not accompany him on the trip to see her parents. The doctor had put her on bed rest as she was in her late thirties expecting her sixth child. My two brothers stayed behind to make sure she was attended to while my dad took my two sisters and my brother along with him.

Once he had parked the car he thought he was in the clear, and the dream from the night before was forgotten.

On the Fourth of July, my dad, my grandpa and the three kids went out to my grandparents lake home. My dad spent what little spare time he had building model airplanes on the weekends, and he had brought one along to fly in the open fields. He positioned himself purposely away from any power lines and began flight. The plane began to have some sort of engine trouble. Once he remedied the problem, he set about to give it another try. Without realizing it, he had placed himself into the path of danger.  Off the aircraft went again and suddenly looped itself around one of the voltage lines.

In a flash, he was knocked off his feet to the ground by 69,000 volts.  Because wireless technology didn’t exist back then, the wire connecting the hand held remote to the airplane was the conduit for power to surge through his body from the overhead lines. Even though the power had been knocked out, he was still surrounded by a highly dangerous field of electricity. No bystanders could go near him or suffer the same fate he had.  Clinically, he was considered dead.

Because he had fallen backwards, the remote happened to land upon his chest right by his heart.  Within minutes, another 69,000 jolt was sent his way as a circuit breaker was activated to restore the power line that had been interrupted.  This time, the thin wire burned away, but the second surge of power had restarted his heart much like a modern day defibrillator. My grandpa, who had been standing by not being able to administer CPR while my dad was still connected to the source of electricity, was able to check his pulse and begin artificial breathing.

My sister, who was 12 at the time, was ordered to go get help while all of this was going on.  She has said that this was the day she decided to become a nurse because she never wanted to be in an emergency situation again and feel helpless.  At the time of this writing, she is still a very knowledgeable and compassionate RN.

Miraculously, he began to breathe on his own but was transported to the town hospital for inspection.  He had multiple burns on his body with tiny grass blade holes in his shoes.  Without any further complications, he walked back to my grandma’s house the next day looking no worse for the wear.

One of the things that he kept seeing in his mind, however, was the imprint of his body scorched into the grass at the cabin.  Apparently, it took many years for the outline to disappear.  A reminder that he almost left the earth that day.

When he returned home, he had some tough days where he questioned why he had lived, and many times suffered through bouts of depression.  He never said he saw a light or had the usual near death experience.

Norman Vincent Peale was popular at the time, so he immersed himself in his writings and prayed for guidance and comfort daily.  Little by little, he began to relax back into his normal life.  Jokingly he said to me, “God didn’t want me and neither did the devil, so I came back.”

How different my life would have been if he had not survived.  I would have been born without a dad into a family of five kids.  What would my mother’s life been like?  It would have impacted us all in a way that we never had to experience. Instead, he lived on to hit his 85th birthday this past March and continues forging ahead to the next milestone.

His survival tells me that life can change very quickly when we least expect it.  And, I am called to live it to the fullest every day.  I am not to live in fear of my life being cut short or a trauma coming upon me. I am here for a purpose.  We all are. It’s more than just paying bills, worrying about how we can or cannot afford a material thing or if our kids are going to turn out okay.  With God on our side, we can do all things with strength. If He can raise a man from the dead, how much more can He do for you?

God doesn’t want me to come back to Him accomplishing nothing.  Kind of like that firecracker you light and nothing happens.  The dud.  The dreaded dud that no one likes.  You have these high expectations for some sort of sizzle and pop, so you run away expecting something great and nothing happens. That is not our destiny.  We are meant to be here so others take notice, come to us for that ‘power surge’ that only comes from Our Creator that gives unlimited peace and joy no matter what.  I want my life to be a shining bright light for those who feel like they are alone.  For the one who needs his or her head lifted and tears wiped away with laughter.

I don’t know about you, but I am not satisfied with just a little fizzle.  I am going out with a bang!

 

(actual excerpt from the newspaper)

 

With A Cherry On Top

I called her name from the house.  It was one of those beautiful Sunday afternoons where all the windows in the entire house were open to let in the surprisingly cool breezes that you don’t expect at the end of June.  I called for her again, but she didn’t come.  Her brother, Stinky, had long been in the house after winding himself running up and down the fence a few times with the neighbor dogs.  It wasn’t like them not to come in when I called running side by side.  They had come into the world together, and continue to keep an eye on one another.

“Lily!” I said again hoping she wasn’t going to make me come find her.  When I got no response, I slid on the closest pair of sandals.  I located her under one of our trees throwing up.  Once she got it all out of her system, she did her usual energetic tail wag and came running as if nothing had happened.  I have owned a few dogs in my time, so this didn’t seem too unusual as this has occurred many times before.

I secured the two dogs and went grocery shopping.  I came home to more evidence that Lily’s stomach was not okay.  When I tried to give her a little food a few hours later, she headed straight back outside to be sick again.  At that point, I was beginning to become concerned.  It wasn’t like her to have this happen so many times in a row in such a short space of time.  Of course, it was a Sunday night, so our vet was not open.  I decided to pray before bed, ask God to help her and slept with one of my hands on her next to me.

The following morning, I fed her as and she seemed fine.  Business as usual, so I went to work and texted my daughter early in the afternoon.  I received a response back that all was well.  Then, within a half an hour, another text came saying she was throwing up again.  I came home and watched her travel from spot to spot in my backyard until she no longer had anything left in her stomach.

I placed a call to the vet.  I was told they were all booked up until the following day at 3 pm.  The technician told me not to hesitate to go to an emergency vet overnight, and she said not to feed the dog until morning.  I was to give her a small amount to see if the situation was clearing up.

That evening, Lily was more than upset to see her brother getting dinner and she was not.  Again, she zipped around the house, barked at strangers passing by on the sidewalk and didn’t seem to have anything wrong with her.  No matter how much she looked at me with her pleading hungry eyes, I stood my ground withholding her food until morning.

I woke up the next day, and I said to God: You have promised me that you will help me.  You care about my life and all the things that are in it.  I need an answer to this right now.  I have a 3 o’clock appointment at the vet that isn’t going to be free.  Please show me if I should take her in or not today.  I had enlisted the help of four people who I knew were praying for me.  Some would say: Why waste your prayers on a dog?  I would say:  Why not?  God cares about all aspects of my life.

I gave her a small portion of breakfast and followed her outside.  Along the way, I kept thanking God for the answer.  I didn’t have it yet, but I was saying it anyway.  I also kept saying: Show me the source of this trouble.

Lily walked over to a tree in the middle of the yard and began sniffing around.  I crouched down to see what she was finding so interesting.  On the ground was a bright red pit.  I picked it up to examine it.  It was as if someone had taken a cherry and ate the fruit and spit out the seed.  I thought it was odd, but actually dismissed it.

She headed back for the house with no more ill effects.  I still wasn’t sure what the trouble was, but I had a thought to look up cherries and toxicity to dogs.  What I found astounded me.  Not only can a cherry cause stomach problems for pets, the pit is highly toxic and can cause death.  I sprinted back outside to look for the pit but I couldn’t find it.  I gave my daughters instructions not to let the dogs outside until I had returned later.

As 3 ‘o’clock loomed closer, I kept getting this uneasy feeling.  What if she was really sick, and I didn’t take her in? As I pulled into my driveway, this thought went through my mind: if she doesn’t act sick, keep her home and cancel the appointment.  I found her to be back to her old self.  She sprinted across the yard and didn’t seem to have anymore tummy upset.  As I stood and watched her, I kept thinking…where did that cherry pit come from?  We don’t have cherry trees in my yard, nor had I bought any at the store.

God, where did it come from? I asked inwardly.  I felt I was to look to the left of me.  Across the yard, and slightly hidden by my shed, I saw a neighbors tree blossoming over my fence.  I walked over to examine it and found it full of choke cherries.  Some had fallen over the fence into my yard where my dogs run with hers back and forth. I had found the culprit!

I walked along picking up half eaten berries and other full ones so that no more would be ingested.  I saw my neighbor come out, and I spoke with her about the issue.  She said her dogs had never bothered with it, and she immediately cut the branches back so it was no longer dangling over my fence.  She was not aware of the poisonous nature of the fruit to dogs.

When I look back at the series of events, I can see how I was led to the solution.  I tried not to panic, but I gave God a chance.  Many times, we cannot see the truth because we are so blinded by fear.  My dogs are like my children to me, so when one of them is a little off kilter, so am I.  However, I know that God loves me and wants me to live in peace.  This is why I knew if I asked for guidance, an answer would come.

I cannot tell you how comforting that is to the mind and the spirit.  To let go and cast your care into the hands that made all that is around us.  We are not alone in anything we go through.  The answer may not always show up overnight, but if we keep on listening, don’t fall into despair and let the peace of God surround us, it will make us alert to what action to take in finding a remedy.  We are promised that we can have it all with a cherry on top.

Jeremiah 33:3

“Call to me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” 

 

Back On My Own Two Feet

I found myself lying face down on the ground thrashing from side to side in an attempt to escape the pain. As seconds slid by, the fire in my knee grew hotter. I felt a guy jump on my back and yell into my left ear,

“Don’t move! You have probably hurt your ACL. If you move, you will injure it more.”

I screamed into the sand and didn’t care that my whole mouth and face was encased in it. He pinned me down in an attempt to save me from further damage. I tried to fight him off but I couldn’t.

“Don’t move!” he shouted.

At that moment, I wanted to leave my body. In my mind I pictured a cartoon character running so fast that he left his body to escape whatever was chasing him. That is what I wanted. I longed to separate myself from the agony.

“Someone call an ambulance,” he shouted as he continued to hold me in place. “It will be okay. Just don’t move. I did the same thing to myself once, and I caused myself more injury by not being still.”

I listened to what he had to say, but I continued to wail so loudly that the neighboring town probably could hear me. I closed my eyes as I felt many hands cover my back.

As luck would have it, I was at a church picnic where those in attendance believed in prayer. I heard murmurings of my name as those who surrounded me were asking God for help.  In the middle of a volleyball sandpit, God showed up.

I cannot fully put into words what I experienced next, but I found myself floating above the scene. I saw the people around me, and I felt peaceful. I saw a man who looked very much like I imagined Jesus to resemble walk through the crowd and put his hand on my forehead. I heard this,

“If you just keep looking at me, you won’t feel any pain. If you forgive the person who did this to you, you will be healed quickly.”

When I opened my eyes, I felt the misery return so I kept shutting them and watching from another place. I began to whisper,

“I forgive. I forgive. I forgive.” No one heard me, but I wanted to follow the instructions that I was being given. I was suddenly realizing that I had two small girls to take care of, and I didn’t have time for being injured. One of the two was to start second grade at home in less than a month.

By the time the medical personnel arrived, I was much calmer but still had pain. They loaded me up and injected a large dose of morphine into my system. My knee was swollen to twice its size, and I did not dare to move it one inch due to an onslaught of torture that would follow. I just kept repeating,

“I forgive, God. I forgive.”

The x-rays at the hospital revealed no fractures so I was sent home with orders to see an orthopedic surgeon the next day.

The following morning, after throwing up most of the night from the medication I was supposed to take, I woke up in the same clothes from the day before with mounds of sand in my bed. As my two little girls sat near me, I kept repeating in my mind,

“I forgive. I am doing what you said. I forgive. I want to be healed fast.”

Once in the doctor’s office that day, he twisted and turned my leg to the point of me wanting to pass out.

“Well, from this initial exam, I think you have either torn, ripped or strained your ACL.” He went on to explain that this was something only an MRI could completely determine.

“Even if you have the slightest tear, we will have to do surgery. If we leave it like it is, you will never run normal again. You will always have the possibility of falling or your leg catching mid-stride. It feels like you have at least torn it. So, prepare yourself mentally for surgery and at least a six week recovery.”

I felt tears well up in my eyes. I could not be laid up for that long. I had two kids counting on me.

“Let’s get you scheduled for that MRI.”

A few days later I went back for the procedure. I was not able to see the physician for a follow up for another two weeks as his schedule was booked and he was on vacation.

In the meantime, a friend of mine gave me a magnet infused pad to wrap around my knee.  It was supposed to help bring blood flow to areas that were swollen.

Every morning I woke up with my injured leg shaking and quivering beyond my ability to control it. There was no pain associated with that, but it felt like it was being strengthened from the inside out. And, I kept saying,

“I forgive. I forgive.”

It got to the point where I didn’t have to say it anymore. I just focused all of my attention on getting better. I didn’t have time to hold a grudge or be angry at the person who had caused this. My thoughts were on my well being and not dwelling on the past. I was looking forward to a future where I had two functioning legs.

By the time I saw the doctor again I was slightly limping with little to no pain.

When he walked into the room, he said,

“Could you get up, please, and show me how you are walking like that?”

“Sure,” I said. “It has gotten much better since we last saw each other. I don’t even need my crutches anymore.”

I walked briskly around the room with just a small hitch.

“Does that hurt?”

“Not really.”

“Come on back and sit down. Let’s look at your MRI results.”

“I must have only strained my ACL instead of tearing it or ripping it in half like you said. I feel almost back to normal.”

“You ripped your ligament in half. Medically speaking, you don’t have one.  You shouldn’t be walking like that.”

“What?”

“I have never seen anything like this. Most patients with an MRI that looks like this get scheduled for surgery and are in a lot of pain and not walking around like that.”

I smiled and said,

“I know a good friend in a high place.”

“I guess you do because this is not usual.  I am going to order six weeks of physical therapy to strengthen that leg.  We will see how you progress because like I said before, you don’t want to spend your life not being able to use that leg fully, especially if you want to be active and run with your kids.”

He had me walk around the room one more time before I left, and he smiled and shook his head in disbelief.

I spent the next three weeks faithfully attending physical therapy at a hospital near my house.  The therapist was astonished when she looked at my MRI and then saw what I was able to do.

“I know the doctor ordered six weeks of this, but you are at your maximum right now.  I don’t have any further exercises to give you to strengthen that leg.  In fact, you are lifting a heavier weight with that leg than your good one.”  She called over her fellow therapists to show them my great strength and then showed them the MRI result.

“That’s not hers!” one of them said.

“Yes it is.”

“How is that possible?”

I knew how it was possible.  And, it became more of a reality the first time I sprinted across the room with one of my daughters without any side effects.

Recently, I had a person tell me that you don’t have to forgive someone if they don’t say they are sorry or ask for forgiveness.  He quoted a scripture that said that if the person repents, then you forgive them.  Otherwise, you do not have to forgive.

I would have bought his explanation had I not gone through the experience I did.  You see, the letting go of the cause of the incident made way in my heart for God to come in like a flood and heal me.  I got on the same page as heaven and allowed nothing to block the supernatural from assisting me.  Had I hung on to bitterness or anger, I may have hindered my quick progress with my negative emotions.

The other day while I was running three miles on my treadmill, my mind was taken back to this miraculous event.  To this very day, I am grateful that I listened to that still small voice tell me to forgive so that I could get back on my own two feet.

treadmill

Adapt

Last year right after Christmas, my local hardware store had a clearance on all of their seasonal products. I had been admiring all the candy canes glowing in backyards as I drove around, so I went in and purchased some for the following year. I put them in the closet thinking it would be a long time before I would ever even get to use them until suddenly it was November and unseasonably warm. Because I have struggled to put up lights in frigid bone chilling weather before, I decided to string them up while the weather was still decent.

After examining the instructions which basically showed a small stake being inserted into the bottom of the cane, I got to the task of unwrapping them, pulling off sticky adhesive and plugging them in to one another on the kitchen floor. For good measure I tested them to make sure they lit up, and I was pretty proud of myself when I lined them up in the yard across the front of the house like soldiers in perfect formation.

Amazed at the ease of all of this, I grabbed an extension cord from the garage with much enthusiasm to see my handiwork. When I tried to connect the two, they didn’t fit. I proceeded to dig up every single cord I could find to no avail. Nothing I had was working. Suddenly, my excitement was dying.

“I have to go the hardware store,” I told my daughter.

She knows full well my dislike for not having things work right, and on top of it, I had to go into a store that I consider more for those who like to get their hands dirty.

I brought a cane with me, and upon entering, a young teenage boy asked if he could help me. I explained my story, and with a frown he said,

“We have extension cords over in this aisle.”

He tried the black one, the green one, the brown one and the orange with no luck.

A woman who worked in the store joined him in his pursuit. Another young male crammed into the aisle as we all tried to find the right connection.  The store was empty so this was the height of excitement for them.  We all were coming up empty handed.

“This plug needs an older model,” the woman said.

“I just bought this in the store last year.”

“I know, but they change things all the time. I don’t know if we are going to have anything for this to work.”

My hopes were plummeting as she and the boys were getting nowhere.

“Jerry, can you come to aisle 4 please?” she said into her device. “I am having the store manager come over. He usually knows what to do.”

A tall dark haired man joined us in our quest to figure out an answer. I was reminded of an old joke:

How many people does it take…..to find an extension cord?

He frowned, he looked up and down the shelves and said, ‘no, nope, no’ as he went along.

I was starting to feel hot in my jacket not just from the warmth of the store but from the stupidity of what was happening. Not aimed at the help I was receiving but in regard to the situation of having something brand new, never used, and with the prospect of it already being out of date.

I peered around a corner and saw that the store was selling the exact plastic product that I had purchased on clearance.

“You are selling these right now, so how are people going to set these up?” I asked him.

“You are the first person to come in here with this problem,” the lady said to me as if this was something to be proud of.

Wonderful news, I thought.

As I followed behind Jerry to another aisle, I whispered to my daughter,

“There has to be a solution to this!”

That is when I said inwardly,

God, I need this fixed right now! I expect an answer to this problem.  There must be something that can make this to work.

Suddenly, the man stopped in front of me, went back to the aisle we had just left, and stood there for a second.  I saw his head jerk as if someone had slapped him.

“OH! Why didn’t I think of this sooner?”

He reached up and plucked down a large orange object that had many different outlets around it.

“This should help,” he said.  With ease the two fit like they were made for one another.

I was able to go home, use this device and stand back and admire the beautiful lights that would not have been possible without getting something new to make them work.

With the fast paced world we live in, we often want to make the ‘old’ fit when times are calling to let in the ‘new.’

Change is inevitable even though some of us want to ignore it or fight it.

There are times when we don’t have a choice.  Divorce papers are handed over or a death comes unexpectedly.  How do we cope when a large gaping hole suddenly comes and brings despair?

The only thing I have found to work in all situations is prayer whether the change is a good one by my choosing or it is seemingly out of my control.

In Psalm 91:14-15 we are given this great assurance:

14 For the Lord says, “Because he loves me, I will rescue him; I will make him great because he trusts in my name. 15 When he calls on me, I will answer; I will be with him in trouble and rescue him and honor him. (TLB)

The only requirement mentioned is that you love God, and like a good Father, He will help out his children.

As we go along into the next year with unknown situations ahead of us, the most uplifting thing we can cling to is that we can call on our Creator who will not abandon us but will comfort us in our times of sorrow, will guide us in the right direction and will hold our hand when we need to adapt.

cane

A Miracle On 132nd Ave.

I slumped in the passenger seat as she backed down the driveway. I looked longingly at my house wishing I was wearing my over sized pajamas with a warm dog snuggled near me on each side.

I glanced at the clock.  It was 7:30 and we were already an hour late.

“I really don’t want to go to this,” I thought.

She had invited me to attend a prayer gathering at a home very close to mine.  It wasn’t the theme of the evening that was bothering me as much as it was that I didn’t want to be around people.  In my life, I have gone to many of these type of meetings with enthusiasm expecting for someone to give me a ‘word’.  However, I wasn’t much in the mood for a word, a sentence or even a paragraph.

Situations swirling around me regarding relationships, finances and the approaching pressure of the holidays was fully weighing me down.  I had gotten out of bed that morning feeling absolutely dead inside.  I was quickly finding out that my frustration at not being able to fix my problems was leading me quickly down the dark road of depression.  Every time I went inward, I felt an empty space of nothing.  On the one hand, I didn’t want to care about anything, and on the other I felt so grieved at the overwhelming loneliness I felt.

“If anyone has anything to say to me, they can say it, but I am not telling anyone what is going on with me.  If God has something to say, it will happen.”

“I would like Brad to pray for you while we are there,” she said.

I was fine with that, but I was not going to open up and let any one of these people in on my problems.  Either God was going to reach out and take hold of me or I was on my own.

I watched the streets go by as she followed her GPS and its instructions.  The drive was only eight minutes but it felt like an eternity.  I couldn’t wait to go back home and flop down in my despair with a cup of hot tea.

As we were turning toward our destination, I sent up this silent prayer,

“God, if you care about me, I need you to give me $1,000 in cash for Christmas.  I have nearly nothing left to give right now.”

For weeks, I had been running low on money but made choices to cut back on things to make it work.  At the same time, I kept getting small promptings to give where I could to put what I had into circulation to help combat the fear.  Yet, I knew I had obligations coming and the strain of it all was taking me down.

I had heard on the radio that the average American family spends $961.00 for gifts. I don’t know if I come close to that amount, but being in the position of not being able to give anything was part of my unhappy state.  The decorations and music in the stores were not helping.  Everything was simply reminding me that I was going to be left empty handed.

My friend parked her car and I stood by the driver’s side as she collected her purse.  I did not tell her that I asked God for money.

“I want this to be a night I remember,” I said.  “I hope this doesn’t waste my time.”

We walked into an empty upstairs but found about twenty people in the basement listening to a man speaking about how God could fix anything if you let it happen.   I watched as people went forward for prayer as he spoke positive, uplifting words.  We were trying to slip in quietly.  She found a seat near the front while I took one toward the back.  My intention was to sit and watch.

Without warning, the pastor turned toward me and said,

“Do you have needs?”

I thought he was looking at me, but I was hoping he wasn’t.  Two women who were seated in front of me shook their heads no, but then he said,

“The one in the pink.  Do you have needs?”  He pointed right at me.

There was no escaping it now.  I had worn the brightest pink hoodie in my entire collection.

I answered,

“Uh…. ya.”

“Do you want to get rid of them?”

I paused because I knew what was coming.

“Yes,” I said.

“Then come on up.”  Oh, boy, so much for sitting in the back and letting the evening go by.

I could feel my friend’s eyes on my back.

“Do you have a physical ailment?”

I shook my head no.

“Are you going to say what you need?”

I shook my head no.  I was holding to my vow in the car on the way over.  If God had something to say, then it would present itself without me giving out any information.

He began to speak, and his words pierced my heart. Two weeks before this, I had visited a church one evening and went into a room with two women who sat quietly for a few minutes praying and then began to speak.  They had told me that my future was ‘bright’ and that there was nothing to worry about.  They kept saying that I was going to be okay and not to worry or fall into despair.  His words greatly mirrored what I had already been told.  I felt my resolve crumbling as my pain, anger, frustration and sadness burst out of me.

I began to cry so hard I was paralyzed where I stood.  His wife came and took me to a couch where she continued to pray for me.  The only thing I felt in that moment was what I whispered,

“I feel forgotten.  I feel like I am all by myself, and I don’t matter anymore.”

As the evening went on, more people came up for prayer, and I was still not totally out of my funk.

I heard my friend say to a man across the room,

“I would like you to give a word to my friend Christine.”

I was still wallowing in a puddle of tears, so  I attempted to clean my face up which left all of my makeup on a tissue.

“This is Brad,” she said to me.  He was meeting me at probably one of the lowest times of my life.

He knelt down by my side, and I closed my eyes as he began to pray.

The one thing I recall that he said was this:

“God wants you to know John 14:27 is for you.”

John 14:27 says this:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

He said,

“It’s like your mind is racing at all times.  I see it going so fast and things coming and going in and out of your mind.”

Unknown to him, I was completely consumed with worry about my finances from the time my eyes would open in the morning.  I would get out of bed just to immerse myself in tasks to keep my mind off of it.

As he spoke, I felt myself relax because his words were ringing true. He called his wife over who was so joyful that no one could possibly stay sad in her presence. It was energy that was alive and contagious that only further erased my negative state of being.  It was like the two of them picked me up, stood me on my feet, brushed off the dirt and put me back on the road.

As she prayed for me, I noticed he put his hand over his heart, then he leaned over and whispered something in her ear.  She nodded and smiled and he got up and walked away.  I figured maybe he was leaving me in her care while he helped another.

Within moments, he returned with an envelope with my name written on it.

“We want to sow this into your life.”

I looked at it not fully understanding.  I eventually took it from him and put it in my purse.

The pain had disappeared, and I felt happier and more secure.  It’s difficult to describe an event when it is a spiritual experience.  But, much like having a surgery, I felt as if a toxin that was choking the life out of me had been removed.

After thanking those who had helped me, I got into my friend’s car and said,

“Oh, I have an envelope with something in it.”

“From who?”

“Brad and his wife Lori gave me this.”

As I slid my finger along the enclosed edge, I suddenly recalled my silent plea to God for $1,000 in cash on the way to meeting.

I carefully opened it and saw a $100 bill on top.  I slammed it shut.

“Oh my gosh!  Oh my gosh!  I think God did what I asked.  I think…”  I started crying again as I looked at and counted $1,000 cash, all in $100 bills, in my lap.

“WHAT!?” my friend said as she leaned over to see.  We headed for curbs and lawns as she tried to keep the car on the road.

I could not speak because I felt how much I was truly loved.  For you see, it wasn’t just about the money, it was about feeling that divine, strong, powerful connection between myself and the One who is unseen. My request to God was said as a sort of ultimatum that I thought would go unanswered.  I had asked for something to touch with my hands but it was so much more touching to my heart.

My faith was completely restored and in the past week since this event, I have found myself feeling more secure than ever and my problems seem to be more distant now than a heavy load on my back to carry.

I began to wonder the other day why I was able to have this prayer answered when I didn’t say a word to anyone about it.  I was immediately directed to this passage of scripture:

But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.  (Matthew 6:6 NLT)

What I did that night was I shut myself away from others and sent up a private request that only my Creator was aware of.  And, as I did so, my reward presented itself rather quickly. I encourage all of you that are weary to never give up, and to ask for supernatural help.  I had no idea that I would go into a stranger’s home for a mere two hours and come out the recipient of a miracle on 132nd Ave.

 

envelope

 

 

 

Trouble Is Brewing

The aroma of coffee beans permeated my hair and clothing the second I walked in the door. Like a warm, friendly hug it engulfed me. The tables were loaded with drinkers of all sorts sipping on frothy concoctions that were worth every inflated dime. I saw my good friend standing by the counter eyeing her choices on the board.  She was having a hard time deciding what she wanted because this wasn’t her usual drive thru order.  This was a legitimate experience that required more from her than just saying,

“I will take the number 1.”

No, this was a face to face encounter with another human being versus hanging out the car window yelling into a box.  A treat this great comes with much contemplation.

“I love coffee. I love it,”  she said as I watched her eyes scan the board.

“What are you having?” she asked.

“I am having a medium iced peach black tea with a shot of raspberry.”

“That sounds good.  But, I love coffee. ”

After much travail, in which I thought she was going to opt for a fancy whipped up drink on steroids, she said,

“Coffee.  Black.   With a little cream.”

I think she went back and forth on the cream, but I was preoccupied getting out my card to pay.

Both of us were ecstatic to be meeting not only because we hadn’t seen each other for awhile but because it was free time.  No responsibilities and pure freedom.

It wasn’t difficult to find ourselves quickly wrapped up in discussions over writing, talking about God, and how our lives were progressing.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman enter the shop. It was one of those subtle things that happen but you don’t really recall the details of it until later.

We continued to talk, and she began telling me a story from her childhood.  Usually most of our time together is spent telling our true life stories.  Some funny, some sad, but we always leave each other feeling better just for having been together for a little while.

I was slightly aware that the woman who had come in was going table to table and talking to the patrons.  I was listening to my friend speak, but I was somewhat distracted as I watched people get out their wallets and go into their purses and hand her cash.

As she made her way closer to us, I didn’t give my friend any indication that I was overhearing or seeing what was going on around us.  My mind and eyes went from the thief making her way to our side of the room to trying to stay focused on what was being said.

I watched stealthily as she hit on a couple next to us.  Again, I made no mention of this to my friend who continued on talking.

When she sidled up to us, I kept my eyes locked straight ahead.  I refused to give her eye contact.

“I need gas money,” she barked.

She was glaring at my friend who responded by gulping and grabbing her purse to rummage for loose change.

I moved my head in slow motion so I could take in her attire. Her attitude was in full broadcast.

“I ran out of gas.  I need gas for my car.”

I saw her lick her lips as my friend handed over cash just like all the other people had done.

She turned to look at me.

“You don’t have cash?  You don’t have anything to give me?” Her annoyance was running high because I hadn’t moved into action to do her bidding.

I felt like I was in a school play yard and the class bully was attempting to take my lunch money. There was no humility or even a ‘please’.  Her approach was aggressive and intimidating.

I looked at my wide eyed friend who had conformed, and I saw the unspoken pleading for me to hand over what was being demanded.

“What color is your car?”  I asked.

She took a slight step back.

“What?” she asked with a sneer.

“I asked you the color of your car.”

“Ah-Ah-Ah-Bl, I mean red,” she snapped.

“What type of car is it?” I said immediately trying to limit her time to think.  Most people are able to say the color and make of their car without much thought.

“Ah- Ah-Ah-What difference does this make?” she snarled.

“What type of car do you drive?” I repeated not blinking.

“I uh, drive a red Pontiac.”

“Where are you stranded?  What are you going to use to put the gas into?  You don’t have a container.”

“I am going to buy a gas can!  Are you going to give me money or not?!”

“There are no stores around here to buy a gas can from.”

As she continued to retreat, her voice was becoming so loud that conversations ceased as we went back and forth.  My questions were making her lies come to light.

“Before I give you money, I am actually trying to help you solve your problem.  I don’t know how you are going to put gas in your car without having something to put it in.”

Realizing that I was exposing her to all those who had just believed her sob story, she shouted,

“I don’t need your money!”

Then, she looked at my friend and screeched,

“Thank YOU for helping me!”

Like that was supposed to make me feel embarrassed in public for not helping.  She ran as quickly as she could out the door and that ended her shift working the room.

When I turned back to my friend, she was shaking her head in disbelief and the couple at the table next to us began to argue.

“Why did you give that lady any money?”  he asked.

“Because she said she was out of gas!”

“She was lying! Why did you listen to her?!  You gave her a lot of money!”

“How was I supposed to know she wasn’t telling the truth?”

They had overheard my entire interaction with the petty criminal and realized they had been scammed.

“So many things get triggered when someone talks to me like that,” my friend said.  “I have had experiences in my past where people have bullied me so I just give them what they want so they will go away.  That is why I gave her the money.”  I could tell she felt bad about her decision now that the dust had settled.

“She was pretty intimidating, so I could see why you did what she wanted you to do.”

I sat for a moment and thought back over the entire exchange.  From the time she walked in the door, I knew that something was not legitimate about the lady.  That still, small voice inside of me was saying: Don’t do what she says.  The line of questioning I put her under was not preplanned and happened spontaneously.

It was similar to breathing. I don’t consider where my next breath is coming from.  It just shows up.

To live like this is the ultimate way to peace because it takes the dilemma out of things.  I like to help people who are in need, but I do not like to assist those who are ripping off the public.  Her yelling at me as if I was a cold hearted individual not willing to help was meant to humiliate me, and I have to say for a couple seconds she did make me feel like a low life. However, I had uncovered so many falsehoods in her story, I was easily able to shake off that notion of myself.

In this day and age of media, we are being told what to believe and how to believe it in the hopes that we will make our decisions based on what we see with our physical eyes and hear with our ears.

Proverbs 20:12 says,

“Ears to hear, and eyes to see-both are gifts from the Lord.” (NLT)

To embrace this wise saying means a wonderful thing.  We all have a powerful second set of senses connected to the spiritual realm that if utilized will help us separate the authentic from fabrications.

We know that God loves us, and we know that prayer helps to lead us on the right path when we have a decision to make.  The combination of that unfailing help of heaven and being willing to take a minute or two to quiet down and wait for an answer to come can make all the difference in the world.  Many times we are blinded by the raging noise from our televisions and radio.  We listen to all the voices telling us what to do instead of going inward and having the honest answer surface.

I didn’t have time to sit and ponder my decision as this person made her way over to our table that day.  However, I had been regularly practicing the quieting of my mind when faced with options to choose from.   With that in operation, I was able to easily identify the truth from fiction.  According to the verse above, we can tap into that supernatural vision and allow God to work on our behalf when trouble is brewing.

 

coffee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acting Squirrelly

Thud! Splash!
With spatula in hand, I turned toward the pool area to listen for any further sounds. There was no flapping of wings or familiar noises that a duck would make. There was no scurrying of feet or barking to indicate that one of my dogs had decided to go for a swim. So, what had just landed?

I closed the lid on the grill and cautiously walked up the stairs to look over the fence. I saw a small head frantically trying to stay above water as it paddled to get out of the deep end. For months the structure had sat uncovered collecting melting snow, rain water and every leaf that blew in. The shallow part had no water, so this unfortunate creature had found itself in a cesspool of unattended crud.

From my vantage point, I could not tell what it was. At first glance, it appeared to be an otter, however, that idea faded when I saw the small animal finally reach dry land and flop down.

“Oh, no!” I said to no one. “It’s a baby squirrel!”

In all the years of owning it, nothing like this had ever happened. I called out for my daughter and we determined that I would have to net and release it into the yard.  As I walked to the shed to retrieve what I needed for the job, she said,

“Mom! There is another one in there!”

“No! No! No!” was my mantra as I rushed back hoping she was wrong.

She wasn’t.

While the one panted in a heap after its Olympic medal swim, another was leaning up against the side of the pool looking rather dejected as if all of its attempts to escape had been depleted.

I talked non-stop in sentences that made absolute no sense as I tried to extend the pole to try to keep the animal as far from me as possible on the off chance that I was able to capture it.

I pretended to casually remove leaves as I slowly edged closer to the one that was fighting exhaustion.  Just as I was closing in, he took off back into the water with one leap.

“I am trying to help you!” I reasoned.

Finally, I was able to get him into the net while he chattered and bared his teeth.  I had visions of dirty fangs dripping with rabies biting into my hands as I hauled the screaming furball over the fence and into the yard. With a quick shake, he was slightly airborne, hit the ground running and scampered half way up the tree. He turned to stare me down.

“I can’t do this again,” I said looking at the other frightened little one.

As I pondered how to remove the next one, a terrible smell surrounded me. I looked down into the black water and realized what was going on.  A few days prior, and from a longer distance away, I had noticed what I thought were two large leaves floating near the surface.  Now on closer examination I could see two bushy tails bobbing along.

“Oh no!  Please no!”

“What?” my daughter said.

“I think those are the parents!”

I ran to get a large trash bin with a garbage bag inside.

“I can’t do this!” I shrieked as I reluctantly put my net back in the water.  Bringing it up, I had unearthed a bloated adult squirrel that I quickly disposed of.

“Aw!  Yuck! Some of the water splashed on my legs!  I need an entire hot soapy shower!”  I had lost my ability to talk quietly.  The yelling at the top of my lungs was coming naturally as a way to release my disgust as this horror show was playing itself out.

Quickly, I retrieved the second one and then turned my attention to the living.  With all my verbal outbursts, I had only scared him more.

“Okay,  little guy. This will be over really quick if you just cooperate.”

Of course, he took off like his brother, but the three other rescues had made my net handling skills sharper.  In no time, he was flying up the nearest tree to recuperate from his harrowing backyard adventure.

For the remainder of the evening, I kept checking to see if all was well.  I ended up getting a snow shovel and moved one of the two to the front yard.  He obviously was in some sort of shock. It clung to the earth with its claws as I hefted him gently out of harm’s way. By dark, both had left, and I thought that was the end of it.

A few days later, I heard another splash.  Looking over the fence, I could see another one swimming rapidly. This was followed up by more of the same water fighting, snarling teeth and screeching by me and the baby squirrel before I got him to safety.

This time, he ran as far away as he possibly could.  I wasn’t sure if it was one of the original two I had saved, but my initial thought was that maybe he had to come back to see if his parents really were no longer living.

Why would it revisit a place that had brought it so much pain and agony?  As I stood there, I began to wonder why I do that sometimes.  How many times do I go back mentally to some horrible situation and relive what was said or done to me that was traumatic?  Why is it so easy to let myself go there instead of staying in the present moment and let bygones be bygones?  Why can’t I just let the dead things of former days go?

When I have found myself in the throes of an old memory that is dredging up emotions that I thought I had gotten past, God is always holding out the net saying, “I am trying to help you!  Get out of the muck!”  And, like the helpless animal, I have snarled, resisted and made my own self miserable when I didn’t have to.

In Isaiah 43: 18 it says: Do not remember the former things, or ponder the things of the past. (AMP)

Why not?  Why is it not good to continually go back over and dwell on those mistakes and negative issues from a former time?

Because of Isaiah 43:19: Listen carefully!  I am about to do a new thing, now it will spring forth.  Will you not be aware of it? (AMP)

If I am so preoccupied with what has happened to me before, I will not be able to focus on what I want to happen to me now.  If I let my past take up all of my thinking today, then that leaves no room for a new and good thing to take its place tomorrow.  I have found that to stop myself from unnecessarily going back in time, I must stay on top of my thoughts and allow myself only to dwell on things that will advance me forward into living a better life. Being fully aware that God is with me as a constant companion also restores my peace.  I can pray, release and let go of those things that have caused me pain and not fall into the trap of acting squirrelly.

squirrel

 

 

Black and White

“I don’t know if I can do parallel parking,” she said.

It was the afternoon before her driver’s test and the nerves were a little on edge. Mine included. I just wanted it over for both of us.

“Would it help if we went and practiced in a parking lot somewhere?”

“I guess.”

We drove to a large church nearby. I set up two garbage containers so that she could gauge in the mirror how to maneuver the car in between them.

After a half hour she was feeling more confident so we decided to make the trip back home. We talked along the way about how relieved we would be to have the test behind us. She had been practicing for months to prepare. This was my first experience as a parent sitting in the driver’s seat. I wanted nothing more than to see her achieve this goal and be free of me.

In rush hour traffic, we made our climb up an incline near my home. As she was coming down the other side, I felt that her speed was picking up due to going down hill.

“Slow down,” I said. “The hill is making you go too fast.”

As I said this, I noticed the speed limit sign come up on my right that displayed a ten mile an hour difference.

“Brake!” I said more emphatically.

“I am,” she answered back.

I leaned over to see that her speed was coming down as she slowed the vehicle. As I straightened back up in my seat, I saw the cop car sitting at the bottom of the hill with her radar gun pointed at the oncoming traffic.

For a moment, I thought we were in trouble, but my daughter had corrected the error and we glided on by her within the normal speed limit.

Apparently, this did not matter to the officer. She swung out of her hiding spot that was obscured enough to catch criminals and came up behind us. I wasn’t sure what to do because she didn’t turn on her lights to indicate for us to pull over. We kept on going down the road until I saw them flash.

“You are going to have to get over and stop,”  I said with my heart somewhere in my throat region.

I watched in the mirror as a blonde young officer made her way to the driver’s side of the car.

When she put her head down and was making direct eye contact with me, I said,

“I am really sorry. She has her permit and we were out practicing.  I told her to slow down on the hill as fast as I could.”

“YOU LET HER DRIVE THAT FAST??” she screamed at us.

“No,” I replied.  “It was an accident.  Her speed got away from her, and I was telling her to hit the brake to slow down.  It wasn’t on purpose.”

“Let me see your license,” she barked at my daughter.

“She doesn’t have one,” I repeated.  “She only has her permit.”

I felt my voice quiver out of anger and fear.  She wasn’t listening to what I was saying and she seemed to have her mind made up that we were both out joyriding and breaking the speed barrier.

“Then, let me see your permit, and I am going to need your license.”

Both of us got out our wallets and handed over the requested cards.

When she walked back to her vehicle, I felt my chest tighten from the frustration of not being heard.

“She is going to run my license and see that I have a clean record.”

I had a small glimmer of hope that this would be smoothed over, she would see that we weren’t out to cause trouble and we would be exonerated.

When she returned, she had a number of pieces of paper in her hand.

“This is the speeding ticket,” she said without any emotion.  “And the rest of this tells you how she has to deal with it.”

“She is supposed to take her driver’s test tomorrow,” I replied.

“Oh, she still can.  And, this won’t be put into the system until next week.”

She practically threw the papers in the car at me and sauntered away.

That’s when we both started to cry as a result of the high intimidation level we had just endured.

I switched places with her and drove the few blocks to our house.

I went over the paperwork to find that this ticket was going to cost in the realm of $200, but there was a way out of it being counted against her and my car insurance.  If she attended a session at city hall the violation would be waived.  That still didn’t get us out of paying the ticket, however.

After a night of misery, she passed her test the next day with flying colors.

Within a week’s time, the ticket was processed, so  we chose a date for her to attend a class.

I was able to sit with her as she was forced to watch over an hours worth of video about teen texting and driving.  Various shots were taken of quite graphic scenes of people being mangled and smashed by distracted drivers.  I recall one where a couple was hugging in the street and ended up sandwiched between two cars that crashed head on leaving them dismembered.

About half way through this, with both of us feeling sickened by what we were viewing, I whispered to her,

“Where is the video about going down a hill too fast?  You weren’t texting.  You weren’t distracted.”

My anger began to flare, and once we forked over the money and were leaving, I had an outright hatred for the entire police department.

And, it didn’t disappear.  Every time I saw someone being pulled over I would comment,

“There’s some more money for the city to spend.”

To add insult to injury, I began to hear that others were being pulled over on the same hill for speeding. The police had a nice racket going because some people weren’t aware that the speed limit change would shift so quickly until it was too late.

Many times when someone would speed by me or nearly cause an accident, I would remark,

“Gee. Where are the police when you need them?  Oh, they are sitting at the bottom of the hill hiding so they can collect some more money.”

I had never had these feelings before this incident.  I had been trained as a child to respect authority and never question it.  Now, I was wondering why I had given the police so much honor in all the years prior.

As time clicked by and my animosity was not changing, I decided to make a bold move and go in and speak with the chief of police.

“How may I help you,” he said as he came into the small conference room.  I shook his hand and told him my name.

I went over the details of the incident and the unfair situation that I felt I had been put in.

“You don’t think she deserved the ticket?”

“No,” I replied.

“Why not?” he asked.

“She still had her permit. I was telling her to do the right thing and your officer did not care.  I explained everything and she acted like it was done on purpose.  And, I had no clue she was even pulling us over.  She didn’t turn her lights on but just followed us.”

“Well, we don’t want to scare the other drivers by turning on our lights.”

Each time I explained my side, he countered with a justification.  We were getting no where, and I again felt that I wasn’t being heard.

“You know what,” I said.  “I am going to make sure that every parent who is teaching their kids to drive in this community knows that the police do not care about us.  We are out here trying to teach them the proper way on how to do things, and your officer did not care one bit about that. She wanted to make money,and my daughter was sent to a class that had no relevancy to what happened.  To me, all of this says, you do not care.”

I saw him straighten up slightly in his chair.  My eyes were locked on his,and my children have told me that when I become angry, my stare can melt plastic.  I wouldn’t know because I can’t see it, but I always have taken their word for it, so I reserve it for special occasions only when necessary.

He cleared his voice and said,

“I see your point.  I can’t undo the ticket.”

“I know you can’t.  I am here to tell you that you need to have a meeting with all of your officers and let them know that parents are doing their best to safely train their children to drive.  We don’t need to be hassled and made to feel like criminals while doing so.”

“I can do that.  Some people come straight out of the police academy and follow the rule to the letter.  If they see a speeder, they will give them a ticket no matter what.  I have been doing this long enough now to know to ask questions and find out what is happening.”

“Then you need to train your staff on that otherwise it appears that you don’t care.”

We ended our conversation with him saying this,

“I do go by an old saying: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

“That is a good one to go by,” I said. “I wish you would have been the one to pull us over that day.  I think you would have at least taken into consideration my side of the story.  I live by an old saying as well.  It is this: What comes around goes around. What you sow, you will reap.  So, the way I see it, your officer has some unfair situation coming her way. Probably a lot worse than mine.  She needs to treat people a little more fairly for her own sake.”

“I will talk to her directly and let her know everything we have discussed.”

Once he dropped his wall of defense and became a real person talking to me, I found that we had common ground.

“I am sorry that this happened to you and your daughter,” he said as I left.

“Thank you.”

Did this magically make me trust the police in my area?  No.  In the years that have passed, my outlook has adjusted somewhat, but this encounter changed me.  Instead of believing that all people in uniform are out for my own good, I realized, sadly, that some were not.

I am more aware of where the police situate their cars to catch speeders, and I make sure that as I drive by, I slow down further and look them directly in the eye.  When I am followed by an officer who is right on my bumper, I refuse to speed up to go faster than the posted limit.  Maybe I am saving him from his next accident.

I have had to go about my days and put it behind me, yet,  I now know that injustice can happen to anyone because we live in a society that is run by imperfect humans.

With the recent violent eruptions taking out good people who were doing their jobs correctly, I have to say that all of this is a heart issue wherein we don’t honor the sanctity of life that God has given.  It’s so easy  for people to get angry in this day and age and go out and destroy a life which in turn has a ripple effect.  Revenge trumps sanity leaving broken pieces in its wake.

Therefore, we must come to the understanding that these troubles are far from being explained away by claiming it is all racially driven.  It is the hearts of men that have grown cold toward one another.  This is the issue that must be addressed for healing to come.

Not a simple task to get a handle on, and one with many grey areas that are not so black and white.

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Keep On Climbing

I crouched down and placed my hand on the moss covered boulder. Inwardly I imagined a mother figure saying,

“Go slow.  Take your time.  Don’t hurry or you could slip.”

She sounded a lot like me.

I gripped onto the nearest tree trunk for support as I took another step higher.

With sweat pouring down my face and coming out of every gland I own, I looked at the trail ahead.  This particular stairway to heaven was covered with slippery mud covered stones, and the people walking past us who had conquered the mountain were dirty from head to toe.  Most of them looked exhausted, yet oddly, they were all smiling.  I could see that this was not for those who wanted to keep their whites clean.  This was for the rugged adventurist with good knees and expansive lungs.

Everything of mine was burning.

Once past the rocks, the next part became a twisted gnarled maze of tree roots that let me know they were here on earth long before I was.  The challenge was to carefully plant the foot not to trip and fall headlong over the edge and into the jungle.  There was no barrier between the walker and an unexpected airborne experience into heavily wooded territory.

We came upon a small waterfall which made me think this was worth the exertion until we continued past it.  More steep uphill fighting against gravity that worked relentlessly against me.   A little more further, and we were overlooking a grand view of the beach below.  Stopping long enough to catch my breath, I snapped a few pictures just so I could look back and appreciate it later.

My knees and hamstrings were yelling for me to take the nearest escalator back to level ground.

We pushed on more until we all agreed that we would rather be cooling off in the ocean.  Two young boys came by.

“How far did you two go?” I asked.

“Oh, we went the entire eleven miles.  There is a beach up at the top so we did that.”

They looked unwinded and fresh like they had just rolled out of bed.

I was a panting, hunched over mess.

“Is it very far to the bottom?” one of them asked.

“No.  You only have about a half mile to go.”

We let them pass us as we made our descent.  I continued to be mindful of where I put my feet.  If going up was stressful, coming down was even more so.  My right knee, that I had sustained an injury in years ago, began to freeze up.  It decided to rebel and not bend without tightness and a horrible pain.

Squatting down and hanging on to whatever nature was providing as stability for the moment, I silently sent up an S.O.S to the heavens just to get me back safely.  I felt weak, unable to go further, and I realized I was trying to accomplish this all on my own.

A phrase floated into my mind that brought relief.

He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.” (Psalm 18:33)

The pain lessened, and I was able to reach the end of the trail without a scratch or mishap.  I didn’t care at that moment whether it was an angel who flew me down or an invisible hand holding onto me, but I felt the tangible presence of help. Instead of struggling to reach a goal, I felt an unseen partner come in an assist me.   Don’t let your pride or fear stop you from praying for help.  God isn’t preoccupied helping someone else more worthy.  Ask and expect assistance.  It can make all the difference to an uncomfortable situation to help you keep on climbing.

 

 

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