Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A new knee and a new plan


By the time you read this, the deed will be done.

My hubby is getting another new knee.

Those glory-filled years as a college football player came with a price―the deterioration of joints never intended to take that kind of grueling punishment.

It was not a happy experience (nightmare is a closer description) when he had the other knee done a few years back.

Here’s praying knee 2.0 will be much better.

In any event, I’m bracing myself.

He’s not a good patient. By that, I don’t mean he whines and whimpers and wants me to fulfill his every little desire.

No, I mean he won’t let you do anything for him. He tries to do it himself.

He’s a case.

One health care professional called him an “overachiever.” That means if he’s supposed to do five of an exercise, he thinks doing ten is even better. Or thirty.

After he had a heart attack a few years ago, I had a dream one night that I was taking care of a lion. There was good news and bad news in that dream. The good news―my husband was still a lion, not a kitty cat. He was as strong as ever. The bad news―I WAS TAKING CARE OF A LION.  It’s not a job I envy anyone.

Trying to keep him from doing too much is just about impossible. I actually think it’s one of the reasons he had such a difficult time last go round.

I have a new technique in mind, though.

He has to go to rehab for a couple of days and even got special clearance for his dog Lucy to visit him. Neither one of them can be away from each other very long. He mopes. She pines.

When he starts trying to gallop instead of walk, I’ll just say, “Think of the dog. If you hurt yourself, you might have to stay longer, and what will Lucy do without you?”

That ought to work. He’ll do anything for the dog.
With Lucy as a pup.

Lucy in all her full grown glory.
 
I’ll let you know how it works out.

However, if you passed the hospital and saw Jerry lapping it, you’ll know my plan fizzled. Back to the zoo with the lion for me.

“ . . . they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A telephone with a cord?


My sweet fourteen-year-old friend leaned back against the wall of the fellowship hall at church as a group of us chatted. Her shoulder hit something and she spun around.

“’What is this?” She asked holding out the cord of a wall phone as if it the most bizarre thing she had ever seen.

“Is it a telephone?” She giggled. “A telephone with a . . . cord?”

More laughter from her.

I am not making this up. By this time, the rest of us were holding ourselves as we cracked up with her.
 
 
 

She picked up the receiver and studied it a moment, then put it to her ear. “It works,” she almost shouted her eyes lighting up with delight. She punched in numbers and someone answered on the other end. “I’m calling you on a telephone and . . .” she cackled again and waited for affect, “it has a cord.”

I don’t know if I’ve ever felt as dated as I did witnessing someone who had never seen a landline phone.

Once while on a prison ministry weekend, I was sitting at the piano about to help lead praise and worship when a telephone behind me rang interrupting the person who was speaking. Somehow, I still don’t know how, singers and we musicians simultaneously launched into a chorus of that old rhythm and blues song, “Jesus on the Mainline, tell him what you want.” The song, maybe written early in the twentieth century, brought in a little of the current technology to communicate a spiritual truth. In any event, it was a big hit that day in the meeting.

As I’ve thought of my young friend discovering the novelty of the landline phone and that she could actually make a call on it, as well as the "Jesus on the Mainline" song, I was reminded that we should have the same delight as our girl did over how we can call on the God of the Universe.

No cords required.

Anytime.

Anyplace.

Shouts and laughter entirely appropriate.

Recently, while I awaited a medical procedure in the hospital, I once more marveled at how comforted I was that others were praying for me, and that I too, could call on the Lord as I faced uncertain results. “Tell him what you want,” the song says. And I did. However, I knew that no matter the results, God would still be there.

So there you go. Call him up. No matter what’s going on. And you don’t have to worry about that pesky cord.

I’m pretty sure it’s going the way of the dinosaurs anyway.

Wonder what my friend would do if she saw a telephone booth?

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears”(Psalm 18:6).

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

You Are Mine

“Did Patsy like the flowers?” my sister, Tammy, asked when I answered my cell phone one evening years ago.

I almost dropped the phone. My sister had asked me to take flowers to a friend who had surgery for breast cancer and was hospitalized in my town. I had forgotten, and to make matters worse, I had been the one who originally insisted I could do it.

I hadn’t taken into account Jerry would be out of town, and I would be trying to juggle all the household duties along with childcare during this time.

“She’s supposed to be released in the morning,” Tammy said.

I heard the disappointment in her voice. Heartsick over my forgetfulness, I hurriedly arranged for a babysitter and found a flower shop that opened early the next morning.

As I almost ran to the front door of the hospital, verses from Isaiah 43 came strongly to mind, and I wondered why. It had been years since I memorized them.

Moments later, when I entered Patsy’s room, I had never seen so many flowers in one room in all my life―on every table, windowsill, and all along the floor.
 




 

Why was I there? The last thing she needed was more flowers. I didn’t even know how they would get all these vases in one car to go home.

I introduced myself to Patsy and her husband, and immediately noticed her sad countenance.

“I’m running a fever, and the doctors won’t let me go home,” she explained, disappointment in every word.

She didn’t need flowers, but maybe I could pray with her. I asked and she consented.

As I prayed, those words from Isaiah 43 came back to mind and I prayed them:

 “But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:1-3).

When I finished praying, tears streamed down Patsy’s face. “I just wrote those verses in my journal a few minutes ago,” she said and showed me the words she had inked on the pages.

Even in her disappointment, she penned in her journal the truth that she was God’s.

When I prayed the same verses, God whispered again, “You are mine,” to her heart and confirmed He had not forgotten her.

When I left, I realized God in his mercy had redeemed my bumbling efforts.

When I called my sister later that day, she asked if I wanted to hear the rest of the story. Of course, I did.

“Patsy’s fever broke shortly after you left, and she’s home now.”

Patsy had called my sister to thank her for sending me. God had a plan.

Years later, when I, too, was diagnosed with breast cancer, Patsy called with words of encouragement. She sent me a note that said, “God knows us so well, and even then He knew I would have a chance to encourage you. He can make a way even when we cannot see a way! He will be strong in us because He is in us! Remember our verses. Isaiah 43:1-3.”

No matter where you are or what you might be going through, please know He has etched those words, “You are mine.”  not on pieces of paper, but on our hearts.

On this Valentine’s Day, when there’s so much talk about love, it’s good to remember this greatest love of all.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A tribute to Dan, a man with friends in high places

He’s the reason I spent the night in a tent for only the second time in my life.

The first time was in Yellowstone.

Yellowstone was fabulous, but I am not a camping girl.

However, he needed more chaperones for my son’s Boy Scout Troop trip to Camp Rainey Mountain, so my husband and I volunteered.

I remember staring at the tiny canvas structure held up by a couple of poles and wondering how both Jerry and I would fit in it. It was open on the ends. I didn’t know it would be open. Somehow, we squeezed our big bodies under the canvas. Let me add that no one had thought to mention that the women’s bathroom was a half mile down a rutted dirt road.

To get there I’d need a flashlight, because that would be my only light if you’re not counting the moon.

And there were bears. Big ones.

I’ll just have to hold it till morning, I thought trying to console myself.

He’s also the reason I found myself chaperoning a scouting trip to Lookout Mountain. We were to ride the incline railway up the mountain. Not a fan of incline railways, especially ones at an over seventy-two percent grade.

Just don’t look down, I told myself while riding the railway, and don’t think about that big mechanism at the top breaking and sending us plummeting down the side of this peak. (You can understand why it’s not that big of a stretch for me to write fiction).

I pushed past my fear and did it, because he asked me.

Fact is, whenever my son’s Scoutmaster, Dan Bowdoin, asked me to do something, I pretty much did it, because I felt as if I owed him.

And I do.

We all do.

In the late sixties, when I was sitting with my boyfriend chewing my fingernails watching television and waiting to see if his draft number came up, Dan had already earned a Purple Heart for being wounded in Vietnam. He served two tours and was awarded three bronze stars among many other military honors for his heroic actions. That’s when he may have been exposed to the now infamous defoliant, Agent Orange, which has contributed to so many vets’ health issues.

He went on to serve three tours in the Pentagon assigned to the Officer of the Secretary of Defense, the Office of the Army Chief of Staff for Intelligence, and the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Major Bowdoin retired from military service, and earned a master’s degree in public health and spent the next chapter of his life in food services administration at a large state university.

He also volunteered in many capacities in his church, military associations, and Scouting. As my son’s scoutmaster, he wouldn’t give up until that boy, Aaron, earned his rank of Eagle Scout.
 
Dan Bowdoin on right, my son, Aaron, his other scoutmaster Mr. Dickerson on right

When the home stretch came for the Eagle, Aaron had to hike twenty miles for one of his requirements. Dan Bowdoin with his bad knees and all, walked for all the hours it took to finish that hike. He couldn’t keep up with my son, but to show his support he just kept moving along, even with his knee pain, until the goal was reached. Soon after, he had a knee replacement. Sorry, Dan.

Dan was always the same―steady, and consistent.

And there was a reason for that. He had surrendered his life to Jesus Christ during his time in Vietnam and never wavered from that commitment.

As his former pastor so eloquently said at his service, “Dan was more interested in leaving a legacy than leaving a memory.” That’s why he was renowned for lifelong perseverance  in his intentional efforts to share the gospel with others.

I didn’t even know Dan had been sick when my husband called and told me he’d read his obituary that morning.

Really? No, it couldn’t be.

But it was.

As I sat at the service proudly wearing my Eagle Scout Mom pin to honor Dan, I observed the pew full of Purple Heart recipients, many high ranking military officials, and a host of other community and church friends including one former United States Congressman.

Dan had friends in high places.

However, He most wanted to please his friend in the highest place named Jesus.

The pastor concluded by saying there are not many people of whom it can be said on their passing that they helped enlarge the population of heaven, but it could be said of Dan.

What a legacy!

The pastor went on to suggest that our goal should be to have the same thing said about us on our passing.

A great challenge, but if we have that friend in high places like Dan, it’s absolutely possible.

I am going to miss Dan, as I know many others will, and my prayers go out to his family.

If I ever spend the night in a tent or ride an incline railway again, I’ll think about him. However, if I don't manage to get around to those things, I can honor him most by doing what he did, and tell others about Jesus. He’d like that best, anyway.

I love that one of Dan's favorite scriptures has always been one of mine, too: "Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them" (Psalm 126:6). I'd say right about now, Dan's laughing that belly laugh of his, arms  loaded with a harvest.
 

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