Few of My Stories

  

As a snow lover, I had hoped we would receive a significant snowfall before spring’s arrival. However; that’s not to be. Yellow daffodils and warm, sunny days have hinted for a couple of weeks that spring was coming. And now, whether you and I are ready or not, Spring 2012 is here. So I’ll store my winter clothes away and welcome the new season by sharing a story that occurred last spring. Here is this week’s story….

It was March 03, 2011 and my daughter Joy was sound asleep when she was abruptly awakened by the excited and high-pitched screams of her three-year-old daughter, Rachel Joy. The unexpected suddenness of Rachel Joy’s screams terrified Joy causing her to bolt upright in bed. With her heart beating at a frenzied accelerated rate, Joy tried to gather her wits while hurriedly flinging the bed covers back.

“Something must be terribly wrong for Rachel Joy to be awake this early,” Joy thought as she staggered to her feet. All the while, Rachel Joy continued screaming; “Mommy, mommy, come look! Mommy, come now! Hurry Mommy! Hurry!” Dramatic, vivid, full colored images of all types of possible scenarios played across the screen of Joy’s mind as she left her bedroom and anxiously sought out Rachel Joy.

Joy had gotten halfway down the hallway, when Rachel Joy came running up to her. Upon seeing her mother, Rachel Joy screamed again: “Hurry Mommy! Hurry!” Anxiously, Joy followed behind Rachel Joy as she ran toward her pink bedroom.

As she entered her room, Rachel Joy turned and grabbed her mommy’s hand and led her to the window next to her bed. Pointing her finger toward the window, Rachel Joy shrieked: “Look Mommy! Look! White trees! Mommy, look at the beautiful white trees God made for me!” Peering outside through the bedroom window, Joy saw a row of Bradford Pear trees filled with beautiful white blossoms. Relieved and thankful that there was no dire emergency, Joy asked: “Rachel Joy, did you do all that screaming because of those white trees?” Looking up into her mommy’s eyes, Rachel Joy responded: “Yes mommy. I wanted you to hurry up and see the white trees God made for me while they are still white.”

Suddenly Joy’s legs became limp like a pair of wet noodles as the adrenaline rush in her body abruptly ceased. Seconds before collapsing on the small pink covered bed, she reached out and scooped Rachel Joy up in her arms. Hugging her close to her body, Joy planted little kisses all over Rachel Joy’s face while saying: “Ray, Ray…I love you so very much. Thank you baby for waking me up so that I could see the white trees God made for you.”

After Joy shared this story with me, I did some soul searching. And I discovered that way too often, another day passes in my life and I have unintentionally failed to see the beauty of God’s creation. The more I think about Rachel Joy’s statement to her mother…“Mommy, look at the beautiful white trees God made for me!”…the more I agree with Rachel Joy. I believe God did make the trees white for her. Just as I believe God made the trees blossom with white flowers for you and me to enjoy.

Yes, it’s spring time. And it’s also another time. It’s time I make some changes. It’s time I give more praise and recognition to God by enjoying his creation. It’s time I commit all my ways to God. It’s time I begin spending more quality time with my family. How about you? Is it time for you to make some changes?

Father God, I thank You for the bluebirds, redbirds, yellow daffodils, warm, sunny days and white trees. I thank You for the different seasons and that in each season You’ve created beauty to enjoy. And even more so, I thank You Lord that unlike the changing seasons, Your love for me is steadfast and never changes. Surely You are the one and only true God. I love You Lord. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

 “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12

Do you ever feel like you’re not good enough? Do feelings of inadequacy ever attack your heart and mind? Do you feel like you must in one way or the other mask or cover-up what you perceive as your imperfections, faults, weaknesses, or shortcomings? Here is this week’s story.

There was a time whenever Michael Jackson went out in the public that he would wear a face mask. Some tabloids reported that he had a germ phobia. Other media reported Michael wore the face mask to cover-up the post-operative bruising and swelling associated with rhinoplasty…plastic surgery to his nose.

I suppose most of us have things in our life that we cover-up. Last month I made another visit to the hair salon to get my hair colored so that my gray hair would be covered up. When the hair stylist finished with my hair I could not see a single strand of gray hair. And believe me…I have lots of gray hair.

Back in the early 1980’s I worked in a textile plant. One night while I was working on a large machine, my shoulder-length hair got caught in a rapidly moving chain. (There should have been a hard plastic cover enclosing the chain…but there wasn’t that night.) It happened very quickly…in seconds. My hair was hanging loose. I bent over to insert a plug into an electrical outlet and the uncovered chain snatched my hair. Those few seconds were absolutely terrifying to me as I was unable to free myself from the rapidly moving chain. It was only after the chain had chewed up all my hair that was within its reach that I was released. For several months afterwards, perhaps even a year, I wore wigs and turbans to cover-up my exposed scalp.

Before I committed my life to Jesus Christ, I would wear sunglasses to cover-up my eyes so that people couldn’t detect that I was ‘high.’ Lying is another thing I use to do quite a lot of before I began my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I would tell lies to mask the truth of my activities. I told so many lies that it became impossible for me to keep up with what was true and what was a lie. In other words, I began believing my lies! I would even lie to God. Of course, back then I thought I could con God! How ridiculous of me to have ever thought such a thing!

Have you ever tried to mask or cover-up your sinful behavior from God? If so, let me make it clear as a bell for you. God absolutely cannot be conned. And if that’s not clear enough for you…then how about this? The Bible states: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” Hebrews 4:13 (NLT)

If you’ve been trying to hide or cover-up things from God….please don’t let what I’ve said thus far get you in a panic. Because there is great news! And that news is this. Once you sincerely confess your sins to God, repent, and ask Him for His forgiveness….He overlooks your faults!

The Christian gospel singer/songwriter Dottie Rambo (March 2, 1934-May 11, 2008) wrote “He Looked Beyond My Fault and Saw My Need.” And I know of no better way to end this story than to share the words of her song with you.

“Amazing grace shall always be my song of praise, for it was grace that brought my liberty. I do not know just why He came to love me so, He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.

(Chorus) I shall forever lift mine eyes to Calvary, to view the cross where Jesus died for me. How marvelous the grace that caught my falling soul, He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.”

Readers, be encouraged! God will receive you into His family just as you are with your imperfections, faults, and weaknesses.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 (NIV)

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 (NLT)


Three Saturdays ago I surprised my grandchildren Jairus Luke and Rachel Joy by taking them to a local Toys “R” Us. Once we were inside the store I told them they could each pick out one toy they really wanted and I would buy it as long as the toys did not exceed a certain dollar amount.

Right away Jairus Luke knew exactly what he wanted and made a beeline to the Star Wars aisle. A couple of minutes later and the boy had a big smile on his face and a packaged assortment of Star Wars action figures tucked in his arms.

Then it was four year-old Rachel Joy’s turn to pick out a toy. I assumed she would want a baby doll so to the baby doll aisle(s) we went. Very slowly Rachel Joy walked down the first baby doll aisle carefully scrutinizing the dolls. Not finding a doll to her liking, we turned the corner and proceeded to walk down the next aisle of baby dolls. I was amazed at the many different kinds of baby dolls that are available to young girls nowadays. In addition to the eating, drinking, talking, singing, crawling, walking, clapping and peeing types of baby dolls….there are actually baby dolls that “stinky” what they eat! And if that’s not enough of a variety for you, I also saw a new breed of dolls that would make Barbie blush. I suppose these seductive and provocative designed dolls are intended for our older little girls?

An hour passes, and still sweet Rachel Joy is walking the aisles, looking for a toy that she “really wants.” As I continued to tag along behind her I began noticing how she was looking at the toys. She was looking only at the toys that were on shelves eye level to her or lower. Well being only four years of age, she’s not very tall…therefore; most of the toys were on shelves that were higher than her head and she hadn’t paid any attention to them. So I told her, “Rachel Joy look up high! There are lots of toys up high and you might like one of them!”

Eventually Rachel Joy did find a baby doll she “really wanted.” Would you like to guess what the baby doll does? Come on…make a guess. Are you ready for this? Believe it or not, but out of all the baby dolls that were available for her to choose from…Rachel Joy chose a baby doll that does absolutely nothing. It was her choice and her choice alone. And if you ask me…I think she made a wise choice.

The following Sunday morning as I was getting dressed for church, I thought about Rachel Joy and how she had looked only at the shelves of toys that were eye level or lower than her height. Another way of saying it is she was looking only at the toys that were within her reach. I recalled how I had instructed Rachel Joy to look up at the higher shelves of toys. And by looking higher she would see there were many more toys available for her to choose from.

As I was remembering my comments to Rachel Joy, God spoke to my heart and said that oftentimes His sons and daughters look only at the things which they perceive are eye level or lower. That all too often we don’t stretch our faith and believe God for those things that seem beyond our reach…higher than us.

It greatly pleases God when we exercise our faith in Him and His Word by asking Him for “higher” things. As a matter of fact, it is recorded in the Bible that without faith it is impossible to please God. Therefore, Christians should be looking and believing for those things that seem beyond their reach. We need to always be stretching…stretching… stretching our faith in God. Progressively maturing in our knowledge of God’s Word and not simply hoarding up God’s Word, but rather being dedicated doers of God’s Word! We need to become fiery passionate men and women of God who effectively cause Godly change in today’s society.

As Christian soldiers engaged in spiritual warfare let our battle cry be declared loud and clear; “We fear not. We trust God to win our battles!” May we Christians draw a line in the sand and say “We will obey the teachings of Jesus Christ. We will witness, and we will preach and teach God’s Word here at home and to the utmost parts of the earth. We refuse to be intimidated by the world and by those who worship false gods.”

Let Christians arise and demonstrate to the world that we love God and as such we are committed to Him and to His Word. May we always remind ourselves and our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord that truly all things are possible with God… therefore; everything is within our reach and available to us when we look up high from whence comes our help.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

“Ah Lord God! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee.” Jeremiah 32:17

“Looking upon them, Jesus said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27

For the last couple of years arriving late for meetings, appointments, and so forth has become a norm for me. Aware that tardiness is not a good character trait to possess; I decided recently to break the habit. And that is exactly what it had become…a habit, a bad habit. My intentions were to start being “on time” beginning with my next appointment, which was this past Saturday. Here’s the story…

Bath took, teeth brushed, hair fixed, makeup on, dressed and ready to go. I could not ask for things to run any smoother on my first day of being “on time.” Glancing over at the wall clock I noted the time and proudly thought to myself: “You did it girl! You’re dressed, ready to go and still have a few minutes to spare! Girlfriend, you’re definitely not going to be late today!” (Yes, I called myself girlfriend.)

Earlier that morning I had received email from a couple of publishers that I had not yet responded to. So I figured I’d go ahead and answer them since I had some extra time. To make sure I wouldn’t be late for my appointment, I kept checking the time as I quickly composed and emailed my replies.

Afterwards, I grabbed my coat and purse and headed out the door to my vehicle. Climbing inside behind the steering wheel, I reached over and turned the volume up on the radio. A beautiful praise and worship song began playing as I pulled out onto the highway. It seemed so good to be able to take my time as I drove. While I’m not a speed demon, I have been known to exceed the speed limit at times. But not this Saturday…because I had plenty of time to reach my destination.

When I was within five miles from where I was going, I checked the time again. The digital numbers on my vehicle’s clock read 10:50. “Great! I’m going to be five minutes early.” I had turned my attention back to my driving when all of a sudden the bomb dropped and my mind screamed “What? It’s what time?” Once again the clock showed it to be 10:50. “No! It can’t be so! No! No! No!” The bomb drop was when all at once I remembered the appointment was for 10:30. Inadvertently, I had believed it was for 11:00. Once again I was late.

The next morning (Sunday) I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror brushing my teeth and silently wishing the wrinkles around my eyes would go away when the Lord began talking to me. He reminded me of the night before. Then He said: Do you remember thinking you had plenty of time?

“Yes, Lord. I remember.”

But you were mistaken.

“Yes Lord, I was wrong.”

(There was the slightest of pause.) And then the Lord said: Tell the people to seek Me while I may be found and to call on Me while I am near. Tell them they are mistaken if they believe they have plenty of time. Tell the people time is short and when the time runs out…it will be too late for them to repent and they will perish.

“I’ll tell them Lord.”

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” Isaiah 55:6 (NIV)

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

“For in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay.” Hebrews 10:37 (NIV)

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” Revelation 22:20 (NIV)

Like many fishermen / fisherwomen, I have returned home from a fishing trip and exaggerated my ‘catch.’ However, today’s story needs no exaggeration. And besides that, I fear God too much to exaggerate this fish story.

Last summer, I vacationed in Snead’s Ferry with my mother, my daughter Joy and her husband Curtis, and their two children (my grandchildren); Jairus Luke, and Rachel Joy. Early on the third morning of vacation I was awakened by a full bladder that was demanding attention or else. Hoping to prevent the or else from occurring, I threw the covers off the bed and scurried to the bathroom.

Afterwards, while walking back to the comfort of my bed, I heard my ten-year-old grandson Jairus Luke call my name. Entering his bedroom, I saw that Jairus Luke was already up and dressed, ready to go fishing with his daddy. Extending his hands toward me, Jairus said he wanted me to unite my faith with his as he prayed. We held hands and he began praying. Whenever Jairus prays…there are no ifs, ands, or buts. If God’s Word says He’ll do something…then Jairus trusts God to do it. Time and time again, my family has witnessed the various ways, including through physical healings, God has honored Jairus’ faith.

On this particular morning, there were several matters of concern Jairus took to God in prayer. As Jairus had asked of me, I agreed with him in faith…that is, until the very end of his prayer when he asked God for a special favor. Stunned by his request, I quickly opened my eyes and studied his face. One look at his expression and I knew he was sincere and his request was heartfelt when he had prayed “And God help me and my daddy catch a shark today.” In that moment of time, I understood the value of having childlike faith in God.

After praying, Jairus Luke went outside and helped his daddy load the fishing gear in the boat. Soon the boat was loaded and out toward the ocean they went…only to return within an hour. The ocean was “too rough” Jairus Luke informed his mother and me as he walked along the dock checking his crab pots.

After lunch, Curtis and Joy decided to take the boat out in the sound so the children could do some fishing. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to fish, I tagged along. Upon arriving at a favorite location, the anchor was dropped, and the family climbed off the boat to look for shells and other “treasures” on a nearby sandbar. After about thirty minutes of unsuccessful treasure hunting, everyone’s attention turned to fishing.

Standing alongside the boat in knee deep water, Curtis stayed busy cutting the bait, baiting the hooks, and casting the lines for Joy, Rachel Joy and me. After some time, Curtis finally got a chance to cast out his fishing line. Within a few moments of his line hitting the water; the fishing rod was snatched from his hands! We all gasped in astonishment as the fishing rod whizzed past the end of the boat. Reacting with swiftness, Curtis took a flying leap while bellowing out: “Oh no you don’t!” Landing in the water with a loud splat he was just barely within reach of the fishing rod. Wasting no time whatsoever, he grabbed the fishing rod firmly in his hands, stood back up on his feet, and began reeling in the fish as he trudged backwards in the water toward the sandbar. Once Curtis was safely on the sandbar, he shouted out: “Jairus Luke! Son! Come reel in this fish!”

Jairus had just finished rescuing his daddy’s hat and clogs from the water when his daddy called for him. Hurrying to his daddy’s side, Jairus Luke took a solid hold of the fishing rod. As he struggled with all of his ten-year-old might to reel in the fish, his daddy used his bare hands to lend support to the strained fishing rod which now had the appearance of an upside down U. Just when it looked as though the slender fishing rod would snap completely in half, the fish appeared! Would you like to guess the species of fish? Let me give you a hint. Earlier that day, a young boy with limited knowledge of God’s Word, yet with enough knowledge to know God answers prayer…asked God for a special favor. “And God help me and my daddy catch a shark today.” And Almighty God Himself gave the young boy the desire of his heart proving once again to the young boy that He does answer prayer. Yes indeed! God answered Jairus Luke’s prayer by helping him and his daddy catch a shark.

Just before releasing the shark back into the water, Jairus Luke and his daddy posed with the shark for photos. While taking the photos, I overheard Jairus Luke tell his parents: “I knew God would answer my prayer and help me and daddy catch a shark today. I knew it in my heart.”

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:7-11 (NIV)

In 1996, the made-for-TV movie A Mother’s Instinct, inspired by actual events in my life was filmed for the CBS Network. In the movie actress Debrah Farentino portrayed my character “Holly” and Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman) portrayed “Raeanne.”

Prior to the production of A Mother’s Instinct, a teleplay/script had to be written. A script has two major components; action and dialogue. Simply said, a script tells the actors what to act (action) and what words to speak (dialogue). To gather information for the movie’s script, an executive producer and screenwriter visited with me and my family. During their stay, the executive producer had conversations with various members of my family and while they talked… the screenwriter wrote copious notes. However, since the movie was inspired by actual events in my life…the executive producer and screenwriter spent most of their time interviewing me. They wanted to know all the details concerning certain events, and since I love to talk…details they got and then some! But I have to say that after the third day of rehashing unpleasant events, my brain felt fried and I was drained both physically and emotionally. Hence I was thankful when the executive producer and screenwriter said they had enough information to write the script and would be returning to California the next morning.

From the very beginning, I had been told the movie would most likely be filmed in California. However in the year that passed before the actual filming began, the location was changed to North Carolina. And the best part for me, the filming locations included Burgaw, Southport, and Wilmington…all within easy driving distance from my home.

During the movie’s production, I occasionally visited and watched as the actors and crew did their work. There were a few times when Debrah Farentino asked me what my real life emotions had been for particular scenes in the movie. For example: in one scene “Carl” lied to authorities when he denied knowing Holly. Carl was Holly’s (my) husband in real life. For this scene the Director asked Debrah to depict Holly as being angry at Carl’s denial of knowing her…so she did. Afterwards, Debrah asked me if her portrayal of an angry Holly had accurately described my emotional reaction in real life. I told her no. That in real life, my husband’s lies and denial of knowing me had caused me to feel worthless, rejected, and completely heartbroken…but not angry. Upon hearing this, Debrah asked the Director if he would shoot retakes of the scene so she could portray me more accurately. The Director granted Debrah’s request.

In the movie/filming lingo, to retake is to film something again in order to get it right. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have wished I could do retakes of my life. Especially the years I wasted away by living a wild, rebellious, and selfish lifestyle. Determined to live life my way…no one could tell me what to do. Regrettably, doing things my way…caused my mother and daughter tremendous suffering. Oh how I wish I could retake those years. But the fact is…I can’t.

But there is good news! And this story has a happy ending!

For on Sunday morning, March 26, 2000, I repented of my sinful life and asked Jesus Christ to forgive me and to become Lord of my life. And He did! And ever since that day when I sincerely committed my life to Jesus Christ…God has been working in my heart and in my mind…transforming me. And that’s just the beginning. God has also wonderfully brought reconciliation between me, my daughter and mother! And even if I had a thousand tongues I could never describe the greatness of God’s love or sufficiently give God the praises He truly deserves!

As I bring this story to an end…I would like to say that just as a movie script helps an actor know what to speak and how to act…God’s Script, as recorded in the Holy Bible helps people like me and you perform/live out our everyday life. If you’ve not read the Bible …please do so. God’s Word is alive and powerful. Even if you read only a verse or two a day…you will begin to see good changes take place in your life. And before you know it…you’ll be praising God for His greatness too!

Early this past Saturday morning my mother and I went to town to do a little shopping. Since I use a debit card to pay for most of my purchases, very seldom do I carry more than twenty dollars cash with me. I had driven fifteen miles and was about half way to town when I stopped at a convenience store to purchase some gas. Before exiting my vehicle I reached into my pants pocket to get my debit card, and no debit card. So then thinking that the debit card must be in my purse, I opened and searched the contents of my purse, and still no debit card.

Resisting the urge to panic, I quickly began a mental playback of the last time I had used my debit card. “OK, this morning I woke up early, took a bath and got dressed and now I am here trying to purchase some gas. Yesterday, I worked 3-11pm, got off work and drove straight home without making any stops. Oh my! What did I do before going to work? Did I stop and make any purchases during my drive to work? Think Debra. Think hard. I remember now. I did not stop anywhere on the way to work. Are you sure Debra? Yes, I am sure because I remember being concerned that I might arrive a few minutes late for work. Think some more Debra. Why were you afraid you might be running late for work? Oh my, oh my! I cannot remember. Think hard Debra. I am thinking hard! Then think even harder! I am trying hard to remember…but my memory is not as good as it use to be. That’s no excuse. I am not trying to make excuses…I am simply stating the truth of the matter. You want truth? The truth is you have got to find your debit card or either you need to call the bank to report it lost or stolen. What did you do before you left for work? Did you take a bath? Yes, but that was earlier in the day. Did you do anything with your grandchildren? Well, I listened to Jairus Luke as he read aloud about the respiratory system from his home-school health textbook. Was that right before leaving for work? I don’t think so. Wait a minute…now I remember why I was afraid I might be late for work! I had been working on paying some bills and it took longer than I thought it would take. As a matter of fact, I did not have time to finish paying all of them. Did you pay any of the bills with your debit card? Yes! Yes, I did. I made a phone payment on my cell phone account using my debit card. I must have left my debit card on the desk along with the remaining bills to pay. What a relief.”

Confident that my debit card was at home, we continued with our shopping trip after mother paid for the gas purchase. Upon returning home from our shopping trip, I discovered that my debit card was still missing. It was not on the desk as I had thought. Still I did not file a lost report with the bank that issued the debit card because I knew the card was in the house somewhere, I just didn’t know where. I made the decision to continue searching for the card throughout the weekend, and if on Monday morning I had not found the card I would report it lost.

My ten-year old grandson, Jairus Luke called me at work Sunday night and wanted to know if I had found my debit card. I told him that I had not. He asked me if I had prayed and asked God to help me find it. I told him the truth…I told him no. Jairus Luke said: “Well I am going to pray and ask God to help you find it. And I am going to pray now.” (Jairus Luke has been a prayer warrior for most of his young life.)

My shift ended at eleven. I drove home from work, unlocked the door and entered the house. I walked over to the desk, unfolded a newspaper that was lying on top of the desk, and there inside the folded newspaper laid the debit card. In stunned silence I said: “Thank you God for answering Jairus Luke’s prayer. And Lord God, thank you for reminding me that You desire to help me with all my needs…great and small.”

A few years ago, my daughter Joy, introduced me to yard sales. The first time Joy asked me to go with her to a yard sale I responded by saying: “I have enough junk of my own cluttering the house. Why in the world would I want to go to a yard sale to BUY someone else’s junk?” Joy responded with: “Mother, you never know what you might find at a yard sale. Besides I know you and your likes and dislikes…and I know you will enjoy yard sale shopping. And just think about it, when was the last time we did anything together?”

I thought about it for a minute or two and realized Joy was right. We really were long overdue for a mother-daughter day. The idea of a fun and relaxing Saturday morning adventure with my daughter did sound appealing. Thus, I agreed to go yard sale shopping with Joy the following Saturday morning.

Our ‘fun and relaxing’ yard sale shopping morning began at six o’clock. Joy greeted me with a smile as I climbed inside her SUV and for the next couple of minutes we enjoyed lighthearted conversation. Then Joy’s voice became drill sergeant serious as she gave me the rundown of yard sale shopping do’s and don’ts. Joy had already prepared our itinerary for the day. She had read the yard sale ads in the newspaper the night before and had already programmed the street addresses of the yard sales into her GPS unit. Spur of the moment yard sales are not advertised in newspapers so one of my duties as a rookie yard sale shopper was to be alert for yard sale signs posted on trees, fences, street signposts, etc. Joy taught me that the best yard sales were usually advertised with homemade/marker/poster signs instead of the store-bought Yard Sale or Garage Sale signs.

There is not enough space in this column for me to write everything that I learned about yard sale shopping…but I will say that Joy was right when she said that I would enjoy yard sale shopping. We did indeed have a fun day as we shopped from yard to yard. Notably, my opinion about yard sales has completely changed. I have learned that valuable and useful items can be found at most yard sales. My free advice to yard sale shopper wannabes: sometimes you have to do a little digging through the junk to find the treasure.

Talking about treasure…did you know that you have treasure on the inside of you? It is true. You are an earthen vessel, a jar of clay and on the inside of you is treasure! So, if you have been thinking that you are useless, that you are good for nothing but the junk pile…you need to change your opinion about yourself. We may have some junk in our lives…but God digs through our junk and He sees the treasure in us…and to Him we are priceless.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

Are you one to have a pity party when things go wrong and life becomes difficult? If so, take it from me…you can wallow in self-pity all day long if you like…but it is not going to help you one iota. You can sing; “Gloom, despair, agony on me…deep, dark depression, excessive misery…if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all…gloom, despair, and agony on me” just like Roy Clark and the late Buck Owens sung it on the Hee Haw TV show and still you will not be helped by feeling sorry for yourself. Self-pity is destructive.

God has a purpose and a plan for your life and it does not include hosting pity parties. So, stop the pity party and get rid of the ‘poor me’ mentality! Stop believing Satan’s lies and start believing God’s Word. In the future, whenever you are tempted to feel sorry for yourself, intentionally begin thinking about some of the people in the Bible who overcame adversities. Just as life is not always a bed of roses for you and me…neither was life a bed of roses back in the ‘Bible days’. Do you really think Abraham, David, Noah, Joseph, Moses, Peter, Paul, Deborah, Mary Magdalene, Sarah, Miriam, and Ruth lived their lives never encountering hardships and struggles? Of course they faced difficulties, and to think that they did not would be ludicrous. They were human beings like you and I and they experienced negative feelings like we do. Certainly they had days when they felt gloom, despair, agony, depression and misery…but they fought back against Satan’s fiery attacks of negativity and they overcame the obstacles they encountered by trusting God. Ultimately, God’s plans for their lives were fulfilled.

I encourage you to trust God with your life. Do not be afraid. Give Him all of your life and not just a tiny sliver. Experience for yourself how lives and circumstances dramatically change for the better with God.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11

“Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.” Psalm 40:5

How I wish I could go back in time and talk with my Granny Wallace about her faith in God. Life was not always easy for Granny. Yet, through the hardships she encountered, she kept her faith in God. I was twelve years old when Granny Wallace died from a heart attack. At the time of her death, I had no idea how her life as a Christian woman would influence me in the years ahead.

Some of my fondest memories of Granny occurred during my occasional sleep-overs at her house. Every night just before going to bed, Granny would read aloud from her Bible and pray. Granny’s prayers were always deliberate. She consistently prayed for three generations of her family by praying: “God, I ask You to use, protect, and bless my children, my children’s children, and my children’s children’s children.”

I remember this one night…Granny said it was time to pray. I was watching a TV program and had absolutely no interest in praying at that moment. So, in an attempt to outsmart Granny, I bowed my head as if I was praying. However, instead of praying, I covered my face with my hands and then spread my fingers apart so that I could watch TV while she prayed. So Granny began praying and I’m watching TV through my separated fingers when she gets up from the sofa, walks over to the TV, turns the TV off, and then walks back to the sofa all the while not “missing a beat” in her prayer. Granny was smarter than I had thought. That night as I rested beneath a mountain of quilts in the twin bed next to her double bed, I marveled at the fact that she had not scolded me for watching TV instead of praying.

Another special memory I have of Granny happened the night my first cousin and I stayed over together at her house. I had snuck some cigarettes from my daddy’s cigarette pack, hidden them in my overnight bag, and taken them with me to Granny’s house. I had never smoked a cigarette before but thought it would be fun to try smoking one with my first cousin. It was the very same first cousin who years earlier had taught me how to blow bubbles with bubble gum as we sat side by side “doing either #1, #2, or both” in my family’s double-seated outhouse. So that night after we had watched TV and Granny had read aloud from her Bible and prayed, my first cousin and I hurried to the back bedroom. We carefully closed the bedroom door, cut the lights off, and got into bed. In the darkness, I nervously removed the hidden Winston cigarettes and small box of matches from my overnight bag and handed them to my cousin. In my mind, my cousin who was three years older than me… knew how to do everything! Striking the match, she lit the cigarette, and then we took turns smoking as we lay in the bed. Just as we got down to the butt of the cigarette we heard a soft knock on the bedroom door. After pinching the butt of the cigarette out, and throwing it under the bedcovers…we called out for Granny to come in. Granny opened our door, and while standing in the doorway she began sniffing loud and exaggerated sniffs and said: “Do you girls smell any smoke?” We lied, and said “No, Granny.” She replied: “I thought I smelled some smoke. Okay girls, sleep well”. Slowly, Granny turned around and walked back to her bedroom. Thinking we had fooled Granny, my cousin and I tried to suppress our laughter as we retrieved the cigarette butt from beneath the bedcovers and threw it inside my overnight bag.

Years later, I realized that my cousin and I had not fooled Granny. She had caught us smoking and she knew it. However, instead of condemning her granddaughters for lying…she chose to use wisdom. Yes, Granny was very wise and she knew that there would come a time when as adults we would know that we had not fooled her.

Granny died more than forty years ago and still her life as a Christian woman influences my life. Now that I am a Granny with two grandchildren, I find myself praying my Granny Wallace’s prayer…”God, I ask You to use, protect, and bless my children, my children’s children, and my children’s children’s children.”

 

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