Be Ready

We completed a financial deal a while back in which everything that could go wrong did and what should have taken six weeks took four months.

I was on the phone frequently with the agency handling the final details. When I found a sympathetic ear, the next time I called, I asked for her personally. She tried so hard to oil the wheels of bureaucracy to make things go faster, so it was hard to be mad at her. It was not her fault and she honestly was doing everything she could to work it all out for me.

 The last time I talked to her, she told me she would like to meet me face to face some day because I had been so kind. “You can look at my picture on my web page,” I told her and then gave her the address for my devotional website.

 After I hung up, I thought to myself, “I could never have done that if I had “cussed” her out over this financial deal.”

When will the church realize that what the world needs from Christians is love? We have preached at them, denounced them as sinners, threatened them with hell, and yet that has not persuaded them to come to Christ. Sinners know that they have sinned without being told.

Jesus is building his kingdom by building relationships.  Jesus called twelve disciples, but then we hear of the seventy disciples.  Next we hear of multitudes following Jesus. How did so many people hear of Jesus? The old fashioned way—by word of mouth. 

I Peter 3:15 NKJV says “Always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you.”    

When people see that you care about them, you won’t have to preach to them. They will see Jesus in you and want to know you better.  There will come a moment when they ask you why you are so happy or come to you with a problem in their life and then you will have the opportunity to share Jesus with them. No preaching. Just sharing in love.

Be ready.

A Better Tomorrow


 When I look back in time, these Camp Fire Girls leaders who have impacted my life stand out: Dorothy Nix, Pat Sowers, Wanda Norton, and Nancy Funk; and the Camp Fire Day Camp director Eleanor Lewis;  and my mother Eunice Hightower who led my grade school Blue Birds Group.

 The Camp Fire Council for many years held camp on an acreage east of town, where we had a council house with a large campfire area, several campsites, a rope bridge, and acres of trees and fields to roam.

At camp I learned these things:

  1. Self-reliance. The day I chopped down a small tree I began to believe I could do just about anything.
  2. Independence. I wrapped meat and vegetables in tinfoil and buried it in a hole lined with burning coals. I had to eat what I cooked. I realized I was responsible for my meals; I didn’t have to depend on someone else for a meal.
  3. The belief of a better tomorrow. We spent the night in a tent listening to the pouring rain, then woke up to sunshine. Things change. There will be bad days, but better days are coming.

These are the values of the Old West, the American experience. Growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s these were the things we absorbed, perhaps unknowingly. Maybe our leaders, schoolteachers, and parents intentionally taught these things, but I think most of us just caught them, rather than being taught them.

I am still self-reliant and independent, but in real life, I have had to learn to rely on others and upon the Lord. When I submitted my life to Jesus and made Him the Boss, Jesus also became a Friend to me, one “who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV.

There always comes a time in everyone’s life when circumstances are beyond control, when a person must be dependent on others. What do you do then? If you have no one but the Lord, He is enough.

Hebrews 13:5 says, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So that we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper: I will not fear.’”

And I still believe the sun will come up in the morning. I believe in a better tomorrow because I believe in God.

Foretaste of Heaven

my peonies
My Peonies

My flowers put on quite a show this spring. Climbing roses are trying to take over the chain-link fence. The clematis,heavy with blooms, is threatening to fall off the trellis. The peonies had more blooms than ever before.

With a thunderstorm imminent, I raced out into the yard, clippers in hand, to cut dozens of roses and peonies, so I could continue to enjoy their beauty in vases on the dining table.

“Roses are red, violets are blue…..” Every kid has written those words to his sweetheart.

“My love is like a red, red rose….” words written by Robert Burns in 1794.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” William Shakespeare in the play, Romeo and Juliet in 1597.

“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.”  Song of Solomon 2:1, New King James Version Bible.

Someone wrote a gospel song from that verse years ago, comparing Jesus to the lily of the valley, the Rose of Sharon, the Bright and Morning Star. I have sung it for years, in congregations and at times when the song just suddenly appears on my lips. And sometimes when I hear those words, love bubbles up in my heart for Jesus.

God is a gardener.  “The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” Genesis 2:8-9.

He planted trees and all other plants on earth for our food but also to enjoy looking at them.

Ever wonder what heaven will be like? Revelation 22:2 says, “In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”

When I gaze upon my beautiful roses, it is just a little foretaste of heaven.

Little Strawberries


Granddad had a strawberry patch in his backyard when I was a kid. He grew Stilwell strawberries, the kind they grow in Stilwell, Ok., The Strawberry Capitol of the World. Mom and Daddy had a berry patch at different times in our lives, but those were never as good as Granddad’s berries.  Granddad had a secret to growing the best strawberries, a secret that he didn’t pass on to us. I think it was the manure.

When I was about 7, I remember picking berries just for fun, and thinking, “The sweetest berries are the smallest ones.”  I loved to search for the hidden ones, lifting each leaf, and squatting down to see it. The big ones that lay on top of the leaves didn’t seem to me to be as sweet.

Then when I found that one little perfectly ripe strawberry it was gone in an instant, in one bite.

The strawberries we buy at the store are nice, but a little bland. They are big and showy, plump, good color. You expect the sweet strawberry taste, but it tastes just barely enough like a strawberry, but nothing compares to the home-grown and sun-ripened berry.

 Life is like that sometimes. The sweetest things are the hidden things that you have to search for, the small things that try to stay hidden from sight.

Holding a sleeping child in your arms.

Singing at the top of your voice on Easter morning, “Up from the grave He arose!”

Turning the first page of a new book.

Making the last stitch on a knitted scarf.

Popping the first ripe cherry tomato into your mouth, unwashed, straight from the garden, on a warm summer morning.

Snapping the asparagus stems off in the garden, then eating one raw before you make it to the kitchen.

Spreading the comforter over the bed so it looks presentable.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” 

It’s the little things that make my life so rich.

Mother’s Prayers


My little brother, Ross, and his playmate came into the house one afternoon to get a drink of water. As they passed the bedroom, they heard Mama praying. Ross’ playmate asked, “What’s she doin’ in there?” Ross replied, “Oh, don’t pay no ‘tention to her. She’s always praying.”

I have often wondered where I would be in life if it weren’t for a mother who knew how to pray. I have faced a life of sick children, divorce, financial problems, church splits, deaths in the family. Through it all, Mother has been my most faithful prayer partner.

Maybe you don’t know what to pray for your children. Start with the easy stuff. Does your child have nightmares? Pray for sweet sleep. Does she need help in school? Pray for wisdom and favor with her teacher. Is your teenager showing rebellion? Pray for God to surround him with Christian friends who can be a good influence on him.

The time to start praying for your children is before they are born, but if you didn’t start then, it is never too late. Are your children grown? Perhaps you were not in church when they were young. Is there any hope? The good news is that prayer for your children is as effective when they are grown as when they were small.

When the jailer in Philippi asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul answered “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.” Acts 16:31NIV.

Praying your family into the kingdom of God requires more effort when they are grown and it is harder to see immediate results, but it is worth it.

Jeremiah 31:16 NIV says, “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded. There is hope for your future. Your children will return to their own land.”

God is faithful to His word and He will see that you are rewarded.  The greatest thing a mother can do for her children is pray for them.