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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Light Up Your Life


LIGHT UP YOUR LIFE


Today was the Celebration of Life for the daughter of a dear friend. Her girl had bravely fought brain cancer for several years, now her battle was over.

Though we lived in different states at times, my friend and I kept in touch over the years. Her daughter had been one of my piano students during her elementary years. It always made me feel good to know that as an adult her piano was a prized possession.

Though it was impossible for me to travel the miles required to join in the life celebration, my heart was with them. I sent flowers and prayed the day would bring with it some happy memories.

Minds and Memories


What came to mind was Barbara Streisand singing The Way We Were. The first verse always comes to me easily: Memories light the corners of my mind, misty water-colored memories of the way we were.

Memories always come from our past. They can pop up when something triggers one of our five senses. For example, smell of a certain perfume may bring a memory. Taste of a certain food or recipe may do the same.

Sometimes a sound will bring to mind an event or memory, happy or sad. The great thing is that we can choose to let it remain or let it go.

From Ancient to Modern


In writing to the Philippians, Paul the Apostle said, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3). He said he also prayed for them.

There have been many times I copied Paul’s example. In years of ministry, many people impacted my life by their life. I could not have accomplished the things I did without them.

I have great appreciation for our ability to choose. All kinds of memories float into my mind, but I don’t permit all to stay. That basic principle prompted me to write this poem:

A CHOICE IN TIME*
By Darlis Sailors

Memories float through our minds like clouds in the sky
Some are dark and we hurry them on
Others are bright and we ask them to linger

Memories contain both darkness and light, we live in sunshine and shadow
Forgiveness may wipe some dark clouds away
While love brightens others like sunshine.

Memories can also be bitter or better, life becomes better by choice
We lift up our heads to look for more light
And choose to move out of the shadows

Memories are colors inside our mind, we pick which ones we will keep
Joy comes with light, sadness with darkness
We choose the color that’s right

LET'S GET PERSONAL


Is there anyone able to say their life is all sweetness and light? I doubt it. Plenty of hard things challenge each of us in different ways. But we have one thing in common, a choice to light up our life.

Do it today. Pull up some happy memories. Then sit back and enjoy them.


*From REFLECTIONS: Inspirational Stories from Everyday Life, self-published in 2016, available from BookLocker.com or your favorite bookseller.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

My Psalm One Daddy


MY PSALM ONE DADDY


My dad was not perfect, but is anybody’s? He lived to the ripe old age of ninety and I knew him as the oldest of three siblings.

Some people would call dad a “preacher man.” Not me. In the professional world he was called a minister, which was fine. But on a day-to-day basis I saw him as a “pastor.”

Pastor brings to mind pasture. Pasture brings to mind sheep. Sheep need a shepherd. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:14). That was the type of relationship dad had with people in his congregations.

Dad in Action


Dad studied long and hard to faithfully share God’s Word in church services. I’ve heard people say, “You preachers have it easy. You only work on Sunday.” Not true with dad. With him it was ministry twenty-four/seven.

Sometimes people came to our home. Other times they went to his office. He went to them, too, through hospital and home visitation. It was important to him to feed the sheep in practical ways and everyday settings.

My dad’s faithful ministry had a large impact on my life, but that’s not why I call him “My Psalm One Daddy.” That title comes from his personal life.

Daddy Up Close


 My life was greatly influenced by his consistency. Although compassionate to the wayward, he held himself accountable to personal principles. For example, his word was his bond. He paid his bills. He loved and provided for his wife and children. He set an example in higher education. He planned family vacations.

Before dad passed away, I was his caregiver for two and a half years. Until the last few days, I saw him read his giant print Bible and get down on his knees to pray. This matched my childhood memories.

The last three days of his life were in a hospice care center. My oldest brother was sitting with him while I went to enjoy a cup of hot tea in a deli.

Suddenly I felt extremely impressed to go home, get my Bible, then go share Psalm One with dad.

A Personal Message


Standing close to his bedside, I said, “Dad, according to Psalm One, you are a blessed man. You have not taken advice from the wicked, but you’ve walked in the ways of the Lord as you’ve read and studied His word.”

“You may not have felt prosperous, but God daily met your needs. You have produced spiritual fruit continually as you’ve shared God’s Word and prayed for people all these years.”

“And there are people in the churches you pastored who have continually loved the Lord and raised their families to do the same.” I then read Psalm One aloud.

Father's Day


Danever responded, but since hospice says hearing is the last to go, I believe he heard me. 

Today is Father's Day. Though he died six years ago, I’m still thankful for my Psalm One daddy.



Sunday, June 10, 2018

Are Your Words Building Blocks?

ARE YOUR WORDS

BUILDING BLOCKS?


The other day a friend and I were discussing modern communications. She enjoys Facebook and texting. I enjoy texting and Email. It's nice to have that instant communication, although I still enjoy writing a letter or sending a card.

We also talked of another modern phenomenon: Anyone who has an opinion on anything can now share it easily with everyone. Op Ed pieces in daily newspapers, for example, are probably out-shined by hundreds of opinions shared on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

What's disturbing about this is the imbalance of words. It would be nice if more opinions were shared as building blocks. We all know our world and our lives need improvement. There's no harm in telling the truth.

But many opinions come across as stumbling stones filled judgement, anger and/or bitterness. No positive solutions or suggestions are included.

Meaningful Community


Since the days of Adam and Eve life has been filled with challenges. Which century or culture has never had to deal with lack of food, job challenges, political powers, death, human relationships or major losses following natural disasters? 

In times like those, meaningful community relationships make a difference. I'm talking about a positive sense of community that comes from living with others in friendly association.

Simply being around people creates community in a broad sense. But that loose connection rarely helps us when life piles on personal challenges.

Satisfying, helpful, long-lasting community is developed deliberately. Think of your most satisfying relationships. Did they just grow automatically? Or were they developed by deliberate acts of caring and communication? How about a sharing of time?

Personal Community


Satisfying personal relationships are built on genuine concern for others. People with a "Me-Me" attitude can find themselves alone at the most inopportune times.

Have you ever thought of how words have built or broken your relationships? Some people think words always have to be rosy and sweet. But Proverbs 27:6 says, "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses."

I'm grateful for friends I can trust to speak truth into my life. In fact, I go to them when I need help in sorting through issues for which I have no clear answers.

Proverbs 15:23 describes such a two-sided friendship perfectly: "A person finds joy in giving an apt reply---and how good is a timely word."

Perhaps our world could be improved if people put less emphasis on simply sharing their opinion and more time on an apt reply or timely word.

Make a Difference


None of us can solve modern communication problems single-handed. But together we can make a difference by using our words as building blocks.

Everyone's words have power. Yes, yours! And mine, too. 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Accidental Spaghetti Sauce

ACCIDENTAL SPAGHETTI SAUCE

This is the first inspirational story I ever wrote. I hope you enjoy it.

I took a small package of ground beef out of my freezer. I planned to make Porcupine Meatballs, a childhood favorite. I had made them before, so I didn't pull a recipe.

The next day I put the hamburger in a large bowl, along with rice and seasoning. I carefully washed my hands and mixed up the meatballs, my least favorite part.

I had already put the tomato sauce into the crock pot, so I dropped in the small hand-shaped balls, making sure all were completely covered. I looked at the time and decided an hour on high, then on low while I was gone for the afternoon should be fine.

Dinner time! The meatballs smelled so good and I was hungry. In great anticipation I turned off the crock pot and removed the lid. The sauce was bubbling hot so I let it cool a little before I anxiously used a fork to pull out a sample meatball.

Oh, no! It fell apart. It didn't do that before. Where did I go wrong? I got out a recipe. There it was---one simple mistake. I had left out the egg. No wonder it didn't hold together. I knew I wouldn't make that mistake again, but what should I do with this mushy meatball mess? It didn't appeal to me as soup.

After it was totally cool, I separated it into two parts, one for the freezer, the other for the refrigerator. I'd have to wait for an idea on how to use it.

A couple of days later it hit me. Why not try it in spaghetti sauce? My husband loves meat in his pasta and I had commercial sauce on hand. I put my refrigerated mistake into a small pan on the stove and covered it with plenty of red sauce.

As I served my husband spaghetti with meaty sauce, he was singing my praises. I confessed. "This was really a mistake." He said, "You didn't make this great sauce on purpose?" I said, "No, it's accidental spaghetti sauce. I skipped the recipe and forgot the egg so there were no meatballs, just mush."

I thought this illustrates how God works all things together for our good. I was so disappointed when I realized I had messed up, but I waited for an idea to help me redeem the mess I had made. When a solution came, it was good.

As humans we make mistakes quite often, some more life-changing than others. But if we wait upon God, who sees all things for what they truly are, He comes up with a way to work what we consider a mess-up into something good for us and also for His glory and purpose for us. 

Surprisingly, our mess can even bless. "ALL things are possible with God" (Mark 10:27).

Note: This story was written several years ago and I haven't made Porcupine Meatballs since. I was going to share the recipe today but couldn't find it.