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All Hands On Deck

I naively asked my dad one day if the ocean ever got rough enough to be scary when he was out to sea.

“Oh yes.” He replied with a laugh.

I figured that on a huge aircraft carrier he might not even notice a storm. The few times I’ve been out on the ocean I quickly realized that the sea is not for me. I recall praying something similar to “Lord, if You will just get me back to land, I will never gripe or complain again.” He answered my prayers even though He knows I’m a liar.

My question prompted daddy to tell us a story we’d never heard. His ship was near the Arctic Circle along with a fleet of US Navy vessels.  Together with the British Navy they were doing maneuvers during the Korean conflict. All their planes were in the air when suddenly a thick fog rolled in. It settled in and stayed for a very serious amount of time.

“It was so thick you couldn’t see any of the other ships. We were in real danger because planes were running out of fuel and the pilots couldn’t see to land. The captain came over the ship’s loudspeaker and called ‘ALL HANDS ON DECK!’

“Once we were assembled, the captain gave an order. It was really more of a request. He asked us to pray. Everybody bowed their heads. Within about ten minutes, the fog cleared and planes came dropping out of the sky. You’ve never seen such a swarm! It didn’t matter if they were Brits or American, they were scrambling just to land on any vessel before that fog rolled back in. There were over a hundred planes in the air above us that day. We didn’t lose a single one.”

It’s good for us to feel helpless at times. It’s important to recognize that we cannot control each situation to our liking. It’s wise to realize that in the grand scope of things, we are actually very small. Like tiny vessels tossed in an enormous angry sea we know in our soul that we need help. How amazing that the One Who created the vast ocean has invited us to call on His Name, and He hears us! With just a Word, the winds obey Him. The waves are still. The fog is lifted and suddenly, through no power of our own, we find ourselves safely home.

The age old request “LORD help!” is a very powerful prayer. Only when we come to the end of our own wisdom and resources, can we fully appreciate Who He is. And He doesn’t even wait for us sailors to clean up our lives before He answers.

How great is our God!

Marie Beach

“’LORD help!’ they cried in their trouble and He saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as He bought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the LORD for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them.”

-Psalm107:28-31

Confession Time

It’s true. I’m a hypocrite. I’ve been pretending for a lot of Christmases and I’m tired. It may be time to come clean. In fact, Christmas is a good opportunity to do just that. So here goes.

For years I’ve laughed when people referred to Cousin Eddie. A nephew brought a Christmas card he received to our family party. It had a friend posed in front of a camper in his bathrobe. Along with “Merry Christmas!” there was an additional greeting. Apparently something was full. I couldn’t see what. Everyone died laughing at that picture. I had a little fake smile and wondered what was so funny.

At a different gathering while untangling Christmas lights someone said, “Little knot.” More laughter. More of my fake chuckles. It looked like a big knot to me. I really didn’t get the humor.

“Can’t see the line. Can you Russ?” I have no idea what the deal is.

The other day my sweet friend Ann texted me a picture of her husband with a moose mug. Again, I don’t get it.moosemug

So it ends this year. This is the year I confess.

I have never seen the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

I know.

Completely un-American.  Where’s my holiday spirit? So this year I plan to take care of that little problem once and for all. Finally my hypocritical laughter will be replaced with true understanding of the humor shared by so many each Christmas.

Then my eyes will be open and I can never go back.

I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. But it may explain why even though it’s our last name, none of our daughters have ever entertained the idea of naming a son “Clark.”

Not Buying It

As I shopped for jeans for my beloved, I noticed this ad in the men’s department, with a caption that says, “The perfect gifts for everyone…”

Are you kidding me? Mister ruggedly handsome wades deftly to shore while sporting his new man purse. His shirt, and sweater, are all tucked into his khakis. Who fishes like that?dude

What man is going to look at that picture and think, “Oh goody! I DO hope I get that for Christmas! What a perfect gift!”

I see that picture and wonder why he’s out wading in his church clothes. What’s in that man purse anyway… a hairbrush and a mirror? I hope he brought a sandwich because I sure don’t see any evidence on his ensemble that he’ll be frying fish.

Of course we all know that if we gave our husbands such an outfit the first thing we’d say after he opened it would be “FISH SLIME AND BAIT GUTS ARE HARD TO GET OUT OF A SWEATER! DO NOT WIPE YOUR HANDS ON YOUR NEW CLOTHES!”

Maybe that’s why he carries a man purse

… for his wet-wipes

… and possibly some earplugs if he lives with a woman like me.

Sorry.

I just read back over this and it sounds pretty harsh.

My apologies to the pretty man… bless his heart.

I guess everyone has to make a living.

Besides, a poster with a man dressed like Larry the Cable Guy probably wouldn’t sell that many sweaters.

… or man purses.

Perhaps that’s why Larry endorses reflux medication.

Now THAT makes sense.

Remember It All

He rehearsed the bitter tale. The event angered him so much that he didn’t set foot in church for nearly thirty years. The details of the hateful exchange were as fresh as the day they happened. I felt my own anger rising in sympathy for his wounds. Then followed another horrible incident. His wife left. Bitter and lonely he nearly drank himself to death as he grieved. Sickness gained such a grip on his soul that he finally cried out to the Lord, asking for forgiveness and healing.

And it came. As he retold the story his face lit up with joy instead of the dark bitterness that nearly consumed him. But his story didn’t end there.

Psalm 78 recounts the history of God’s deliverance of His people from slavery. As He led them skillfully like a shepherd with his flock, they enjoyed protection, provision, and many other good things from His hand.  But the sad commentary in verse 32 says, “Despite His wonders, they refused to trust Him.”

Again in verses 42 and 43, “They did not remember His power and how He rescued them from their enemies. They did not remember His miraculous signs in Egypt.”

Though my elderly friend remembered his terrible wounds of yesterday, he also recounted how God’s faithfulness got him through it. You see, the occasion of our conversation was shortly after the loss of his second wife to cancer. Oh how he loved her! They had prayed often for healing and trusted that the Lord would deliver her. But God chose to take her instead.

My friend had peace.

His own wilderness journey had prepared him to understand that God is good, no matter what. He had learned to lean on the One Who delivered him from the terrible tragedies of long ago. As we discussed her passing, he laughed often at the quirky things she did. She loved shoes and he was enjoying sharing her treasures with others as he sorted her things. His memories of her were recounted with a smile.

“It sure is quiet at the house, especially in the evenings,” he said. “But she’s healed now. Thank God she’s not hurting anymore. It was bad there at the end.” Though sadness is part of his losing her, bitterness was never entertained.

Perhaps the key to defeating the bitterness that can come with hurt and loss is to remember God’s care. The same Psalm about those who forgot Him ends with this comfort:

“He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.” Psalm 78:72

When I find myself rehearsing an event from the past and anger begins to rise within my soul, it’s a good indicator that I’m hanging on to bitterness. Can I look instead to the One Who got me through it? Do I trust that He can work these things for my good? Will I remember His care in times past and choose to believe in His goodness?

It’s a sad and bitter soul who, despite His wonders, refuses to trust the Lord. As we remember the heartaches, may we never forget the One Who carried us in His arms.

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In the Wrong Lane

Has it been ten years? The feelings are so fresh it feels like yesterday that I was driving down the road from my mom’s house toward home in the wrong lane. A guy behind me blew his horn, sped around me to the right and flipped me off for good measure. Suddenly I was aware that I was only doing about 45, which is okay in the right lane, but not the left where people drive when they’re in a hurry.

My sisters and I, along with daddy, were taking turns caring for mama who had, in a matter of a few days, turned into someone else. This normally sharp and feisty lady was now fearful and confused. We realized quickly that this was not normal aging or dementia. Something was terribly wrong. One minute she was teaching a group of ladies in her living room. The next she was stuck in a loop, saying the same sentence over and over. Until that time she was strong and healthy, walking at least three miles a day. The woman could easily work circles around me. Now she didn’t even know who I was.

And it happened so fast. On November 1st she had the first episode in the meeting with her friends. Exactly two months later, on January 1st she was gone. Thanksgiving and Christmas that year were heart-breaking.

Songs on the radio took on a whole new meaning. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” made my head hurt but “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you,” hurt my heart. There was one song however that seemed to be played every time I’d be driving to mama’s. Called the Untitled Hymn by Chris Rice, this sweet gentle song expressed the comfort God was offering during the most difficult battle of my life to that point. The last time I sat with mom, I sang it to her as best I could. There was no miracle, no sudden recognition of my voice, no smile. If you heard me sing you’d think there would’ve at least been a little laughter. But there was nothing. A few hours later the last verse was hers and she was home.

Grace comes in many packages. It might be the kindness of strangers who don’t know why you’re in a daze as you try to put one foot in front of the other. It might be the daddy who offers comfort when he himself has lost so much. It might be the sisters who sweetly carry the load with you or the husband who lets you cry in his arms until the tears no longer come. Or maybe you feel you’re in the struggle all alone. You find yourself in the wrong lane with strangers flipping you off during the “most wonderful time of the year.”

I am so sorry. I’m writing this in honor of my beautiful mom and in hopes that you will hear these words. You will get through this. Healing takes time. Time is just another way grace is packaged. The Lord uses time to heal. Don’t be ashamed of your tears. Ten years later, though the pain is fresh, it’s much easier to bear. With deepest sympathies, I’m praying for you.

Look to the One Who can get you home.

Cry to Jesus and live.

My beautiful mom on the right with Aunt Termey

My beautiful mom on the right with Aunt Termey

 Click the title to hear the song:

Untitled Hymn by Chris Rice

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden’s lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby
Don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we fall…so
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can’t contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!

Fall Performance

Crepe myrtles dressed in their finest gold right outside my window. Not to be outdone, pecan trees got fancy in leaves of bright chartreuse. Like pretty lime green feathers they twirled gracefully on the breeze floating slowly to the ground. The fall performance continued as auburn oak danced a hearty dance. Red dogwoods were the last to let go as they gave the final presentation. What a show!

“Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!

Let the sea and everything in it shout His praise!

Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!

Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise before the Lord,

For He is coming!   -Psalm 96: 11-15fall 14 002 fall 14 008 fall 14 003

Thank You Lord for not doing the world in black and white. I really love Your creative side!  We look forward to an encore performance next fall, because You dear Lord, are just that beautiful!

My Favorite Day

Originally posted on Lynna's Wonderful Life:

Thanksgiving! What a wonderful thought!

Family, friends, and FOOD! Enjoy the day.

Hug a loved one as if you won’t have them next year at this time.

Stop and tell the Lord what you like best about Him.

Look around and be amazed at the abundance in your life.

Stop by the bathroom and give thanks that the toilet still flushes… if it does.

You may have a house full of… guests.

Maybe enjoy a little football.

Walk outside and take a deep breath of fresh air.

Look up and know that you are not alone.

Eat one more piece of pie. Hey what’s another 500 calories between friends!

Say a prayer for the ones you miss.

If they are in heaven already, ask the Lord to pass your love on to them.

Read Psalm 100 before the day gets away.

Here you go. I’ll make it easier for you.

“Shout with joy to…

View original 85 more words

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