Fruit That Will Remain

Some have started and departed.

This caused our heart to pain.

We still believe God to give us

fruit that will remain.

 

Others partook and then forsook.

From truth they turned away.

But we’re trusting in the Lord

for souls to be planted and stay.

 

They will not cease, our prayers;

petitions, groanings and tears.

Lord, help us do what we can

to share your salvation plan.

To those that have not heard,

if they’ll listen, we’ll teach your Word.

 

Help us work while it is day.

The world is growing dark.

Give us the words to say

to ignite in hearts , a spark.

 

Let this be our decision;

to reach together for souls.

Help us to catch the vision.

Please use our church as a whole.

 

To help men turn from darkness

into Your marvelous light

and have their sin stained garments

by Your blood, washed white.

 

And that each new born Christian

whether old or just a youth,

would grow in grace and knowledge,

and continue to walk in truth.

 

Then when we reach that heavenly home

where Jesus will rule and reign,

we’ll stand together side by side

with the fruit that did remain.

 

4/25/16

 

John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

 

Good Bye, Prayer Partner

13 years ago when we came to the city of Oakley to start a church, we promised our children who were 7 and 11 at the time, two things. The first promise was that we would get a pool, which we did do. The second promise was that we would get a dog. We had some friends that had a Lhasa Apso, and we really liked their dog and the fact that this breed of dog does not shed. Our friends gave us the number of the homeschooling family that sold them their dog, and we made arrangements with them to buy one of their pups. After much deliberation and polling of our extended family, we settled on the name of Misty for our new dog.

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This is one of the earliest pictures I could find of her that was saved on the computer. We were both a lot younger.:-)

 

Our new dog quickly worked her way into our hearts, even though at times she did some bad things. I recall going out of town for a tournament when our kids were involved in Bible quizzing. We left Misty at home but had a dog sitter that came twice a day to care for her. Upon arriving home, we found the blinds of the front window chewed upon and badly mangled.

We’ve had a lot of good times with Misty over the years. From early on, she was pretty much a mommy’s girl. When I was at home, most of the time she followed me wherever I went, unless of course somebody in the house happened to be partaking of any good smelling meat or delectable. She loved whipped cream, and she would come running whenever she heard the sound of it coming out of the can.

One of Misty’s favorite things to do was open gifts. She was very skilled at savagely tearing at wrapping paper and pawing and clawing until at last the gift was revealed. As I was saying before though, if she wasn’t being enticed by food, she usually followed me wherever I went. When I would go to work, many times I would come home to find her sitting in my son’s window seat(at our first house)or on top of the couch looking out the window at our second house waiting for me. Early on she even wanted to be with me when I would pray in the morning, either downstairs in the family room or up in my closet if we had company staying overnight.

Over the past six weeks, Misty’s health had really been deteriorating. Yesterday, I came home from work to find that she had lost the use of her back legs. She was very distressed and tried using her front legs to move around. To make a long story short, my husband and I took her to the vet emergency hospital and after an exam and consultation with the vet, we made the difficult choice to put her down. It was tough this morning praying by myself in the closet. I always leave the door slightly ajar and half expected her to bump it open with her body as she usually did.

I miss my little pooch, but I’m thankful that God allowed us to have her for as long as we did. Good bye, my little prayer partner. I’ll always love you and cherish all the good memories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Incredible pREACHing

This past Thursday night, Saturday afternoon(at our annual spring youth rally)and Sunday morning and evening, our church was blessed to hear the anointed preaching of Pastor Ron Townsley from Princeton, Illinois. Brother Townsley was with us 2 years ago as the speaker at our 2014 youth rally and was greatly used of God to help our church.

Preaching is really amazing to me. I find it incredible that a man of God can earnestly pray, study and deliver a message that can touch people’s lives in so many different ways.

 

1Corinthians 1:21  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

 

It’s through the preaching of the Word of God that we can receive the greatest gift, which is the salvation of our souls.

 

There are a host of other things that we need saving from as well.

 

-false doctrine

-bad attitudes

-despair when we’re being tested

-bitterness

-rebellion

-our own carnal nature

 

This is by no means a complete list, but God knows just exactly what we need and when we need it. He knows each person that is going to be in any given meeting and the needs that are represented there. For instance, on Sunday there was a young lady in our morning service that we had not seen for several months. We had no idea that she was going to be there. Having known some of her background and things she has been through recently, I knew that things that were being said by the preacher were speaking to her and her situation. The preacher had no idea who this young lady was, but God knew, and God was reaching for her through an anointed God called preacher. At the same time, the message that was coming across the pulpit was striking a chord with others who were there also. It is so awesome how God uses His Word to reach to us! I’m so thankful for the Word of God and God called men who are not afraid to preach it. I wish I could share all that Pastor Townsley preached, but I know I could not do it justice. I’m just thankful that he allowed God to use him, and many individuals responded to the Word and were strengthened and helped as God was reaching through the preaching.

 

 

 

The Word of God in your ears has been preached.

And by it, for your heart the Lord has reached.

Respond! Respond!

Hark to the Master’s call.

Come to the altar; give to Him your all.

 

The things the man of God has said ring true.

And now it’s time, the choice is up to you.

Submit! Submit!

Your will to God, do give.

He’ll give to you a better way to live.

 

As in His holy presence you do kneel,

And offer up a pure, sincere appeal,

Receive! Receive!

The grace He does impart

To get back up and make a brand new start.

 

And from the church house as you go your way,

Knowing you’ve heard the things God had to say.

Leave changed! Leave changed!

And no more walk alone.

Go in the strength that flows from Heaven’s throne.

 

4/12/16

 

Bob’s Bug Jar

Happy Birthday to my middle brother, Bob! It’s hard to believe that my younger brother is 49. In honor of your birthday and for memories sake, I want to share the article you wrote many years ago about our childhood time in the chicken coop. Although I’ve read this many times, it never ceases to bring tears to my eyes. I thank God for our family!

 

The Bug Jar

When I was a kid, not yet old enough to be enrolled in any science classes, I used to conduct experiments of my own.  One of my favorites was the Bug Jar Experiment.  It consisted of three states:  In Stage One, I would obtain an empty mayonnaise jar and collect as many different kinds of bugs I could find-spiders, worms, ladybugs, tiny red and giant black ants, bees, a centipede (if I was lucky), an occasional wasp, those roly-poly bugs that no one knew the real name for, crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, anything that creeped, crawled or disgusted my sisters was fair game.  In Stage Two, I would shake the jar vigorously.  In Stage Three, my favorite, I would watch delightedly as the imprisoned insects bit, stung and generally destroyed each other.  Ironically (and justly, I suppose), when I got to be a bit older, the tables turned, and I experienced the bug jar for myself.

In the fall of 1974, my family had to give up a spacious, three-bedroom home with a big backyard to move into a chicken coop turned recreation room, but to us Home.  The edifice boasted a 15 x 30 foot span; no bigger than our former living room; a mere bug jar,  if you will.  We went into the venture expecting the worst.  Rather than tearing the family apart, however, being thrown into very close quarters under less than ideal conditions actually strengthened our relationships.

We called our new abode “the closet”, because to us, it seemed just about the size of a rich person’s wardrobe.  There was no room for complaining though (literally!).  After all, it was far from the gang-ridden neighborhood we had left behind; it was close to good schools; it was clean, it was much easier on my Mom’s filing clerk salary, and it came furnished with the best hand-me-down furniture that pity could buy.  So Mom told the six of us kids to make the best of it.  We were a Brady Bunch of sorts, with three girls and three boys ranging in age from five to fifteen, but no Alice to do the housework.  Also, we came in two generations:  The “big kids” were each born a year apart, and after a gap of five years came us “babies”, also born one year apart.

Peeking through the battered screen door after we had settled in, our curious neighbors beheld a new concept in interior design:  An afghan-covered couch next to the stove, an army cot bordered by our giant, prehistoric, dust-laden television set, a dining table surrounded by bunk beds.  You see, “the closet” had no rooms.  A tiny bathroom in the northwest corner, with a carpeted sliding door, provided the only privacy in the place.

This was new to us, and at first, we absorbed our living arrangements haltingly and delicately, like couples in a pre-arranged marriage.  Inevitably though, the fighting began.  Some of the most heated battles were waged over bathroom privileges.  Finally, we came up with a “calling” system to schedule bath times.  Cries of “First bath!”  “Second bath!”  “Third bath!” and so on were commonly shouted out in the waking hours, but only led to more arguments as calls were contested and challenged later.

Once while Mom was “using the facilities”, Johnny and I broke into a wrestling match right outside the bathroom door.  One thing led to another, and at the height of our struggle, we lost our balance, slammed into the bathroom door, knocked it off its hinges, and fell clinging to each other and the door onto the bathroom floor.  Mom screamed, powerless to chase us from her seated position, while we scrambled to fix the door and scurry away.

More often though, we were forced to depend on each other, to work together to overcome obstacles imposed upon us by our lack.  Laundry and kitchen duties had to be split and shared by all.  Providing enough food for six hungry, growing children was a constant struggle for my mom.  I remember times when ketchup packets and a hunk of government-issued cheese were the only things left in the fridge.  Whether we liked it or not, we had to share.  Though it was a small area, our home was heated by an aging, rusted space heater, located near the door.  On cold wintry mornings before school, while waiting for the bathroom to free up, the rest of us huddled together in front of the heater, wrapped in blankets, shivering in anticipation of the metallic clicking sound that signaled the release of a fresh blast of hot air.  That nondescript old heater became a great equalizer, bringing us together, if momentarily, to share warmth and exchange conversation at the start of the day.

Because we had no rooms of our own, we had no secrets; what one went through, we all experienced.  One dark night, returning home from work, Tom unknowingly rolled over a skunk with his bike.  When he got home, we immediately smelled the stench, except Tom, of course.  Strangely enough, the skunk encounter provided a bonding experience as we each offered creative, often ridiculous solutions for getting rid of the smell.

Then there was Mike Mester, a gangling youth from a neighboring community, who spotted my oldest sister Karen at a roller rink and immediately fell for her.  Not knowing her name or anything about her, he somehow tracked her down to our humble dwelling place.  He knocked on the front door; my mom answered.  He inquired after this mystery girl he had met at the roller rink.  Immediately, five more heads appeared at the door, checking out the tall stranger, while one head disappeared quickly into the bathroom hiding.  Mike instantly formed the impression that this was going to be a package deal, and he was right.  We couldn’t help but cheer and jeer from the sidelines as Mike and Karen embarked upon each new phase of their sometimes stormy but long-lasting relationship.

A flood of memories stirs in me when I think back to those bug jar days.  I remember us “babies” clinging to each other in the bottom bunk in fear and joy, begging Tom in the top bunk to be the “werewolf” again.  I remember Carol sharing with us her dark and searching poetry and inspiring me to try some of my own.  I remember the generational gap closing as Tom treated his kid brothers to pizza and bowling or Karen and Carol fixed Annie’s hair.  And why is it I recall the neighbor kids, with their nice houses and families of their own, always wanting to spend the night at our place?

We lived there for almost 12-1/2 years.  And a strange thing began to happen as we made the best of it in the “closet”.  We went from being siblings and a single parent, thrown and shaken together, to being friends; lifelong friends that time, distance and circumstances have not separated.

Tricky Trap House

 

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I have a client who is rather fond of the cartoon characters Tom and Jerry. Tom is a cat, and Jerry is a mouse.  Having grown up in a home where we had a television, I am familiar with these characters that have been around since 1940. One day several weeks ago when I arrived at my client’s house for our afternoon session, I noticed a new toy sitting on the small table where we sometimes do our work. It was the house you see in the picture above. My client’s older sister explained to me that it was a tricky trap house that Tom uses to try and catch Jerry. Upon inspection, I noticed some of the cleverly disguised traps that were part of the house, such as a porch swing with a crack down the middle that you can’t see very well, a grand piano with three good legs and one wobbly leg that you can easily kick out and a chandelier that can be ejected by a button, causing it to fall and become a mouse trap. We use this trap house sometimes during play time to provide my client with opportunities to learn how to be flexible. Sometimes I will purposely interrupt him in playing, maybe by rearranging furniture in the house or saying that I want a turn to play with Tom and Jerry. I then take data on whether or not he was flexible. If he’s not flexible, we make a note of it and teach him how to respond in a way that is more acceptable than raising his voice in protest, screaming or throwing a fit. We are also using the trap house to try and help him gain an understanding of prepositions. For instance, I will take the Tom figure, place him in front of the house and ask, “Where’s Tom?” We prompt him to say “in front” until he can get to the place where he can tell us independently.

 

Maybe it’s because I’ve been a Sunday school teacher for so long that I have a tendency to see object lessons in things around me. I’d like to think that it is God trying to show me something. Whatever the case, I think this trap house has a spiritual application which I put in the form of a poem.


 

Satan has a tricky trap house

He’d like you to enter in

Though it has been called many things

It’s original name is sin.

 

He’ll tell you that it won’t harm you

Indulge a little, and all will be well

Don’t be fooled, his real intention

Is to damn your soul to hell.

 

Temptation can look so appealing

Appear to be harmless and fun

Consider not Satan’s slick offers

But from his enticements, run!

 

To God you must first submit

If ol’ sloughfoot you plan to resist

Then when that deceiver comes knockin’

The Lord will be there to assist.

 

And when the devil is beat at his game

For him it will be such a bummer

With God’s grace you will have become

A victorious overcomer!

 

I’m thankful that through Jesus we can have the power to recognize and overcome the temptations of the enemy. Satan, you’re kingdom’s coming down. No April fooling!

 

 

Easter Highlights

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Hear the bells ringing, they’re singing that we can be born again!

 

This was part of an awesome puppet show that we had in Children’s Church. Sis. Kolej and our young people puppeteers did a super job.

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Celebrate, Jesus! Celebrate!

 

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I was really looking forward to this moment. 10 year old Daniel was about to sing his very first special in church. Pastor brought him up to the platform first and bragged on him. Then he had Daniel testify. Hearing Daniel testify is always a moving experience. He is articulate and has a sensitivity to God and a love for Him that radiates through him. As Daniel was weeping, he thanked God for the church, thanked Him for the blood that He shed on the cross and ended his testimony by saying he wanted to be a soul winner. Beautiful!

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Daniel sang a medley-I’ve Got That Holy Ghost, I’ve Already Been To The Water & Look What The Lord Has Done. I’ve Got That Holy Ghost is his favorite song. When Daniel sang, he wasn’t polished, but he was surely anointed! I couldn’t help but cry and shout. God surely has His hand upon this boy, and I’m excited to see how God is going to use him as he grows up.

 

We had 7 new visitors and 1 repeat visitor that came, and I know God was working in hearts. Thank you, Lord!!

 

She Crossed The Finish Line

This is the wording my husband/pastor used in relaying to some folks from our church that Sister Carmen Hood, whom we have been praying for, had passed away today. Sister Hood was the wife of the late evangelist Jason Hood, mother of Jaelyn Hood, anointed singer, songwriter, musician and a genuine Christian lady. My heart goes out to her family. I am praying for them and especially her daughter Jaelyn who has lost both her daddy and mommy within a short time period.

When I first heard the news of Sister Hood’s passing, my mind went back to something I posted almost 10 years ago. The post was entitled When Death Doesn’t Seem Fair. To keep this post from being too lengthy, I won’t go into the details of that post. I just mentioned it, because this is one of those situations where from our human standpoint, the death of Sister Carmen Hood may seem unfair. She endured so much physical affliction, was so young and has left behind a little girl. It’s easy to wonder things such as “God, how come you didn’t heal her when we truly believed you could do it?” “Why are you leaving her little girl without a daddy and a mommy?” I’m sure there are other questions too, and I make no claims that I completely understand it all.  The truth of the matter is that this is just one side of the story. This is our human perspective, but God has a perspective too.

The Scripture says in Psalm 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” 

What we look upon as a loss down here on earth, God is counting as a great gain.  One of His children, whom He never intended to live forever in this sin cursed world, has come home to a place where there will be no more sorrow, tears, crying and pain, and best of all, there is constant, unbroken fellowship with the Lord. Many times we have prayed for Sister Hood to be healed, and today she received healing in the way that God chose to heal her. I understand that her passing is very difficult for family and friends, but to those of them that have been obedient to the gospel and are living for Jesus, it is only a temporary separation. It is an ending in one sense. In the Scripture, living this Christian life is compared to running a race. Sister Carmen has finished that race and can now say with the apostle Paul:

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: ” 2 Timothy 4:7

But today was also a beginning for Sister Hood. The apostle Paul goes on to say:

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8

My prayer is that Sister Hood’s family will find comfort in the fact that she has gone on to receive her prize, and if they will embrace the same faith that she had, they will see her again.

I dedicate this poem to Sister Hood and her family.

She crossed the finish line

Led by His hand divine

Though we felt it too soon she should go

God allowed it to be so.

 

Frail body can no longer confine

She crossed the finish line

Continuing her redemption story

In the presence of His glory.

 

We prayed that she would be healed

God’s plan for her now revealed

She crossed the finish line

It was by His design.

 

And although we do feel great pain

Our loss, Heaven’s blessed gain

We know everything will be fine

She crossed the finish line.

 

 3/25/16