Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Breakthrough and what God can do in a moment





A friend and board member for a local nonprofit, has worked tirelessly on behalf of the homeless. He dropped by our house recently and told us an amazing story. A short time ago, the nonprofit owed a large sum of money on physical improvements, and as he said, “Overnight the debt was gone. One person wrote a check for $150,000.” Today, the nonprofit is debt-free.

The next day, another friend dropped by. His business suffered greatly when the economy tanked, but our friend continued to be faithful in his giving and in his living which often required personal sacrifices. This has gone on for years. And then a few days ago, he closed a deal. And overnight the debt, and burdens of the past were gone, and he’s in a position to bless an enormous amount of people.

Still later in the week, I spoke on the phone with someone dear to me who has long suffered from an illness. The battle has raged for years, and at times there seemed to be no answers. There’d been incremental improvements in the situation over the past year, but I had no idea to what extent until she told me on the phone, “I took the last pill a week ago.” She’s doing so well now, and I know it didn’t happen in a moment, but somehow if felt that way.

Sometimes, the last pill and the last bill seem impossibly distant. The years stretch on, and the pressure stays constant.
 
In Joel Osteen’s book, I Declare, he writes of David and his army facing the Philistines. David, outmanned, prayed to God and God promised to be with him and give him success. “When David and his men went out, that was exactly what happened. God gave them a great victory. David was so overwhelmed by it, he said in I Chronicles 14:11, ‘God has broken through to my enemies like the bursting forth of water.’ He named the place Baal-Perazim, which means ‘the God of the breakthrough.’”
In a moment, a breakthrough can come.
But in the interim God calls us to faithfulness.
We all know that sometimes the healing only comes in eternity. And other situations may not turn out as we hope. Our breakthrough may come as the grace to bear the difficulties we encounter.
As God was with David, He is with us as we face the great armies in our own lives. When we feel  overwhelmed, we may count on “the God of the breakthrough” to be with us.
Because, it only takes a moment for God to change everything.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Oops!

I'm missing in action this week because of a hard drive crash. Thankfully, it looks like we're going to be able to recover the data. Still working on it, so I hope to  be back in the next few days.

When challenges come, so glad God can use anything for his glory.  Makes me think of Mandisa's "Stronger."

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who  have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Kites--Even in the Rain


 We’ve had storms, rain, storms, and more rain. For weeks now, hardly a day we haven’t slogged through with dripping umbrellas and soggy feet. So much for the sunny South.

So, when the July sun finally pierced the clouds for a few hours. I stepped outside to snap a few shots of sunflowers, baby pumpkins, and buzzing bees.
 


 

Then, the bottom fell out. Again.

Today, my husband, Jerry, and I headed out for lunch when, a few hundred feet from our house, we encountered what looked like a bear jam in Yellowstone Park. People, binoculars, and cameras everywhere.

Of course, we had to stop.

“What are you folks looking at?” I called from across the road.

A lanky fellow with a camera shouted back. “A Mississippi Kite and a Swallowtail Kite.”

 I stepped over to the crowd, borrowed binoculars, and studied the skies. Swallow Tails rarely breed north of Florida or west of coastal areas, and Mississippi Kites usually stay south of North Georgia as well.

But, sure enough, there the hawks sailed--the falcon shaped Mississippi and the Swallowtail with its distinctive forked tail

“Storms must have blown them in,” someone offered.

We exchanged information as I didn’t have my camera, and the folks whom I learned were with the Audubon society offered to send me pictures.

Later we returned home. “I’m going out to see if I can find the birds, again,” I told Jerry and headed for the car. But as I opened the car door, I paused to see the birds aloft just beyond my back yard. As I stood there gaping, the birds glided closer and closer, and I thought the Swallowtail, around twenty-four inches long, might brush the top of a pine tree in my yard. I couldn’t get the camera to my face fast enough and missed a picture, but thankfully, I have the one in my memory.

Storms must have blown them in.

George Washington Carver once said, “I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.”

Through the rain and the storms, from the far reaches, God brought these graceful birds literally to my back door. What other gifts of grace might he bring through a deluge? What other beauty might he wrench from the tempest and deliver safe to our portals?

I chased down the birds until I caught one fleeting picture of the Mississippi.
 
I haven’t seen the Swallowtail again since it buzzed my Virginia Pine. It's clouding up again, but I'm still looking up for him. Even if it rains.

“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! “(Romans 5:3-5 The Message).

 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Heroes Among Us


In a local restaurant, I ran into a precious woman I know who lives in a nearby retirement village.

We exchanged greetings, and she introduced me to the people at her table. One man, Rae Preston, wore a silver replica of a P-47 Thunderbolt around his neck on a bolo tie.

“Are you a WWII vet?” I asked.

He nodded. “Flew ninety-five missions.”

Mercy. “Did you fly on D-Day?”

“Sure did.”

I’m reworking a fiction manuscript right now which has a historical link to D-day, and felt this was a divine appointment. “Could I interview you?”

So, a couple of weeks later, my husband, Jerry, and I went to visit Mr. Preston. He had a bit of a hard time understanding me as people with hearing issues often do, so I brought Jerry with his booming voice along as back up. Turned out Jerry’s ROTC years were an unforeseen benefit, as he knew questions to ask that hadn’t even occurred to me.

Mr. Preston did indeed fly ninety-five missions between  1943 and 1945 as part of the Army Air Corp which after the war became the United States Air Force. Initially, he along with others in the 358th Fighter Group went in to France to prepare the way for the attacks on D-Day. Later, they accompanied the C-47’s that carried the paratroopers in. And as General Patton made his way across France, they provided air support.

A replica of a P-47 Thunderbolt hanging from the ceiling anchored his memorabilia wall.


 
Partial List of Rae Preston's Missions

 We looked through something like a yearbook one of his comrades had produced, The Story of the 358th Fighter Group and Ancillary Units, , and he showed us pictures of brave men who flew with him--one who later became a General. He pointed to a man in a group picture. “He didn’t make it home,” he said. Like so many.

Between the pages of the book, we even came upon a congratulatory letter from General Patton.
 
 
He said, "I had three planes assigned to me one time, fortunately they always brought me home, but they'd be all shot up."
 
When asked if he was ever wounded he said, "Never got a bullet."

One mission in particular stands out in Rae Preston’s military career. From the account in his history book, we learned that at night, Germans would pull guns from “tunnels, fire several rounds and return to their protective camouflage as daylight broke. One of these shells landed so close to General Patton’s Nancy headquarters that it shattered the windows, almost claiming the life of one of the Allies’ greatest commanders.

Lieutenant Rae Preston led eleven aircraft to attack the tunnel (at Teterchen). Poor weather and intense flak were encountered in route, and the aircraft had to take violent, evasive action in the thick haze to avoid the shells.” One air collision claimed a life and another plane barely made it back to base, but after regrouping, “Five planes dropped ten bombs on the west end of the tunnel, scoring a direct hit…on the return trip a locomotive, ten cars and a barracks were strafed and damaged.”

After my husband read this aloud, Mr. Preston moved from his chair to a nearby bookcase. He lifted a plastic bag. “A fellow I know has been to France a few times, and he brought a piece of the tunnel we blew up back to me.” He smiled as he held out the stone fragment to us.
 
After visiting a while, we thanked him for his time, and as we left, Jerry said, “He has not idea he’s a hero, does he?”

He in fact did not. He came back after the war, flew a helicopter for a while, and then fell out of a pecan tree and suffered a head injury. His flying days over, he later became a postal worker. I imagine many of those he worked with never knew what he’d done as his humility cloaked his service.

As we celebrate the Fourth of July, find a veteran and thank them for their service, and for the freedom we enjoy.

And let’s be more aware of the heroes among us.

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord . . ." ( Psalm 33:12)

 
 

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