Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy Birthday, Elaine

My big sister's birthday is today. All who know her love her, but to those who don't know her, she's mega-gifted musically.

At the age of two, she was singing harmony with her Sunday school friend, Yolanda. A few years later, a little accordion introduced her to keyboards, and by the time she was 13, she was an accomplished pianist—not by notes, but by ear. If she heard a song, she could play it.

Elaine has always used her gifts for the Kingdom. Whether playing before small, intimate gatherings, or before thousands in packed auditoriums, her desire is to lift Him up. She gives because she’s been given. She doesn't seek earthly rewards.

Sadly, she’s experienced deep hurt in her life. False accusations. Vicious attacks against her character. Wounded in the house of friends, you might say.

But through it all, the music never died. Many times, in the midnight hours, when her impending loss was almost more than she could bear, I heard her at the piano, weeping while she sang of God’s abiding love and faithfulness. I never heard her speak an unkind word about those who lied and did her wrong, but I did hear her pray for them.

I can't be with Elaine on her birthday, but I hope it's everything she wants it to be. She's an amazing woman, a wonderful role model and the best big sister God ever made.


“For there is no friend like a sister, in calm or stormy weather, to cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands.”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Simple Pleasure - Living Near To Those Dear

(L-R: Gayle and Dayle)

(L-R: Gayle and Dayle)

She sent me a text the other day, as I was leaving work, saying turnip greens and cornbread were still warm if I wanted some. The food hit the spot, but the simple pleasure is knowing she's around the corner, a stone's throw away. I smile everytime I drive by her street. Life without her would be hard.

Linking to her blog party, where simple pleasures are celebrated every Thursday.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Persistent Love

While parked in Taco Bell’s parking lot one afternoon, waiting for my daughter to get her after-school bean burrito, a small vehicle wheeled in beside me and screeched to a halt. A frustrated-looking woman, carrying a Taco Bell sack, got out and went inside. A mixed up order, no doubt.

Remaining in the car was a little boy, about six years old, who looked as if he had been crying. Hoping to change his mood a bit, I flashed him my best and brightest smile. He didn’t smile back.

Undaunted by his lack of response, I smiled a second time.

Again, the little boy stood motionless, staring at me as though I had just arrived from outer space.

Not wanting to give up so easily, I smiled a third time.

To my dismay, the little boy kept scowling, as if to say: “You can’t make me smile, so quit trying.”

But I didn’t quit trying. I smiled again, unscathed.

After the fourth smile, the little boy ducked out of sight.

But not for long.

Unable to resist the cheerful lady in the dirty brown car, he inched his head up slowly until his eyes met mine. I smiled again, fully expecting him to duck again, but he didn’t. Instead, he opened his hand and showed me a nickel. A peace offering, perhaps?

Not a chance. Before the fifth smile ever left my face, the little boy hit the floorboard, more boisterous than ever.

About that time, the woman with the mixed up order returned. As soon as she got in the car, the little boy hopped up and sheepishly glanced my direction.

He seemed more relaxed than before, and I smiled a sixth time, hopeful. I wasn’t disappointed.

Not only did the little boy return my smile, he gave me a curt little wave as they backed out and drove away. I waved back, pleased that my persistence had finally paid off.

Once upon a time, my heavenly Father smiled at my cold and callous heart. Each time he smiled, I ducked for cover, saying, “You can’t make me smile, so quit trying.”

But my Father didn’t quit trying. He kept smiling my direction, hoping his prodigal child would come running home soon.

Romans 8:38-39 says, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God."

It doesn't matter how bad we've been or how lost we are, our Father’s love persists and persists.

Linking to Spiritual Sundays, where good bloggers blog about good things.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Simple Pleasure - Simply Speaking

Two years ago: Me. Dayle. Ronald Reagan Medical Center at UCLA. Dr. Berke. Throat surgery. The most surreal (and miraculous) week of my life.

The "surreal" part is another post for another day. The "miraculous" part? Well, to make a LONG story short, due to a rare vocal condition, my voice had all but quit working. Dr. Berke (and his expert team) rewired it and put it back together again. I'm eternally grateful.

Below is a stroll down Memory Lane:
Leaving on a jet plane - despite Hurricane Ike.

Me and Wombie at the hotel - after a frightening taxi ride.

Dr. Berke's office. 

Wombie: Her sister's keeper.
Me...waiting for final inspection prior to surgery the next day.
Me with Dr. Berke--my brilliant knight in the brown shirt.

Twelve of the most gorgeous yellow roses I've ever seen.

The whispering, monotone patient, smiling for Wombie (reflected in the glass).

The Pacific Ocean, glistening like a gem.

Two weary, but happy travelers. "Are we there yet?"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

My simple pleasure today..and every day? Opening my mouth and speaking.

What's your simple pleasure? Inquiring minds want to know.
Click on Wombie's blog and tell us.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tragedy Can Transform

On September 11, 2001, I awoke anxious and somber. Before nightfall, I would tackle a difficult personal matter, and the thought made me weak.

After dropping my daughter off at school, I returned home, retreated to my office and contemplated what lay ahead. As often is the case, when I need comfort or direction, I drew a "promise" from a small box of Scripture cards sitting on my desk.

The selected Scripture soothed my senses: “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” The prayer on the reverse side seemed handwritten for my day: “Dear God, give me courage to face the problems that confront me today; thank you for your sustaining strength.”

At roughly 9 o’clock, the telephone rang. It was my older sister in Houston. “The Pentagon has been attacked,” she said. “Turn on the news.”

In disbelief, I ran upstairs, turned on the television and stared in horror at the images before me.

Plumes of black smoke cascaded from the World Trade Center toward a cloudless New York sky. In Washington, the very symbol of our nation’s strength lay in rubble, burning. Three commercial airliners had become weapons of war for wicked men intent on destruction.

Suddenly, my personal problems vanished and my somberness was for another cause.

As I listened to the wail of sirens and the rumble of collapsing buildings, I prayed for my country. I prayed that America would let God transform her during this time of intense grief into a nation who, once again, reverences faith—not just in bad times, but in the good times, too.

By noon, I had heard the word “pray” numerous times. I had heard bystanders praying for family and friends. I had seen crude, handwritten signs saying, “Pray for America,” and “God bless the USA.”

However, the many references to prayer and God didn’t make me feel any better; they made me feel worse.

Yes, I had prayed for America to renew her respect for God, but I hadn’t prayed for this. This was too tangible, too painful and too severe.

What I had in mind was more of a quiet stirring within our hearts, a gentle tap on our collective shoulders, saying, “Wake up, America. Don’t sleep the sleep of death.”

I didn’t want destruction to be the motivator for change. And I knew that the God I serve didn’t want destruction to be the motivator either. He is a God of love, not hate.

He doesn’t ram airplanes through buildings, setting off fiery explosions that abruptly end thousands of innocent lives. He seeks to love, not punish.

And then it hit me: What better time for God to love than now? What better place for him to reach for apathetic souls than standing amidst evil-inspired rubble and ruin?

If anyone could turn heartache into hope, he could. If anyone could turn tears into triumph, he could. If anyone could turn tragedy into a glorious transformation, the God of our fathers could.

While journalist conversed about the tragedy of it all, I covered my face and prayed.

I'm joining Spiritual Sundays.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Psalm 3:3

"But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Simple Pleasures

The smell of coffee brewing in the workplace.

Linking to my sister's Simple Pleasures.