The Backside of Life

I only have one section of a cross-stitch project left to do that I started about 15 years ago, a 2-inch square window. The design is a country scene: a black iron pot-belly stove with a blue coffee pot, a wooden chair with a gray cat sleeping in it, braided rug, and basket of apples, with a pretty curtained window behind.

The backside is a faded image of the pattern. The details can’t be seen, such as the face of the gray cat, only a gray blob. This present life is like the backside of the cross-stitch picture—only  a faded image of  the real life. The life we are living today is “cross-stitching” our eternal home. Every day you live makes another stitch in the pattern of your life.

Bright yellow is stitched by the happy occasions of your life. The blues are from the tranquil days. The golds and silvers are not how much money you have, but from the treasures of family and good friends. The browns and blacks from the hard days of life—financial set-backs, marital problems, family misunderstandings, health problems. Red stitches are true love, pink and blue for the precious children of your life. Oranges for the beautiful sunsets, white for the snowfalls, gray for your senior years.

This present life is not the real life. It is a temporary training session, a preparation place for the life to come. Paul reminded us that the things we see are not the eternal things, because they are temporary and will pass away some day.

“While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” II Corinthians 4:18 NKJV

This life is passing away, day by day. One day your life on earth will be finished.

When you cross over to your permanent eternal home, what will your life look like then?

Going Around the Mountain

Biblical image – the Isrealites on the first march of the exodus

“Does it feel like you are stuck in a rut? Break out of that rut and come to this restaurant, or go to that vacation place. Or buy this. Or try this.”  Advertisers know that we want to change, but then we don’t want to change.

The rut feels comfortable. We don’t have to think about what to do if we just keep doing the same thing we’ve always done. The rut is easy. We can just slide along in life, day by day, living each day just like the last. The rut is normal. Everybody’s doing it. It’s acceptable to the crowd.

The Israelites got in a rut, going around the same mountain, wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. God had delivered them out of Egypt, where they were slaves, but like one preacher said, Egypt was still in them. They had the “slave” mentality. They rebelled against God, almost as soon as they got out of town, so they were doomed to wander around in the desert, going around and around the same mountain for forty years until the rebels all died.

Even so, the children of Israel had it pretty good, even in the desert. God opened the waters of the Red Sea so they could cross over. He provided quail for meat and manna for daily food. If they were running out of water, God provided it out of the rock. If the water was poisoned, God gave them a tree to toss into the water to neutralize it and make it drinkable. For all the 40 years they walked around in the desert, their sandals didn’t wear out and their clothes were just like new.

How long have you been going around the same mountain? It’s time for some changes in your life, maybe uncomfortable changes, but it will be good for you. God has a great plan for you, just like He had a great plan for the Israelites.

The Lord spoke to them one day and said, “You have skirted this mountain long enough. Turn northward.” Deuteronomy 2:3 NKJV.  It was time for things to change.

God is telling you today, “It’s been long enough! Change directions. It’s time for things to change.”


Some jobs just never seem to get done–like cleaning the top of the refrigerator or the top of the range vent hood.

Nearly every time I cook, I stand looking at the dust and grime on top of the range hood and think, Next time I do the dishes, and wipe down the stove, I’ll scrub that hood.” I suppose you know how that turns out. The next time I cook supper I see it again, but I can’t clean it then because the cleaner would fall into the food I have cooking on the stove.

Keeping a clean house requires constant work. Just ask any mother.

When my first child was 6 weeks old and I had to go back to work, I decided if I could walk across my kitchen floor without my shoes sticking to it, it was clean enough. When my son started crawling, I had to revise my cleaning standards and keep the floor cleaner, so I let the upper level dusting go. As long as you couldn’t write your name in the dust, it was okay by me.

After I had my second child, I was involved in church and school activities, and worked out of town, so something had to slide. As long as we had clean clothes to wear, clean dishes to eat out of, and the main living areas were company-ready, I considered the house clean.

Now that the kids are grown, I’m still busy, and I do pretty well at keeping things clean. The house is still cluttered, mostly with books & other reading material, my table is always cluttered, and I don’t do very well at dusting, but the public area of my home is mostly presentable.

Now that I’m older, I try to encourage the younger women and brag on them for their nice houses.

“The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things– That they may admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, . . ..that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” Titus 2:3-5NKJV

What a privilege to teach others the lessons we have learned.

Take the Long View

I learned to drive in Drivers Ed in 10th grade in high school, but my Uncle Cecil trained me in many skills. He had me practicing my parallel parking skills in downtown Vinita in front of the Center Theatre at 9 o’clock on Saturday night when one show got out and the other was starting.

We Vinita kids honed our skills driving up and down Main Street every Friday night after the football game. I wish I had kept track of how many miles I actually drove those 3 years.

I went to work for SBC in 1971 as a telephone operator and put many miles on my vehicles over the 13 years I worked that job. Then I transferred into the network department, and since we drove company vehicles, we had to take on-the-job drivers’ training and yearly driving tests.

One of the most important things I learned from the Southwestern Bell drivers’ training was to scan the road a mile ahead of you, as far as you could see, to anticipate any hazard that might occur, so you could take evasive action.

Most of us drive one block at a time, instead of looking ahead. In Tulsa traffic, you’ll miss your exit that way. You should be planning ahead and looking for an opening in traffic two miles ahead of your exit. It takes training.

We should train our spirits to take the long view, to look ahead, further and further down the road.

”I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1

Raise your eyes up from your feet, where you are watching each step, the drudgery of everyday life. Don’t look at life one step, one day at a time. That may be how you are living your life right now, but lift up your eyes to the Hills of Glory. Your help is on the way. The Lord God of heaven has a plan.

Take the long view.




Singing Songs

Because of a procedure I had done in July, I was on voice rest for 6 weeks. I was released after that to talk, but I still can’t sing. It will take a little longer, with exercises and therapies to recover my singing voice.

I’ve been singing since I was a little girl when Mother put a songbook in my hands and I learned to sing “I’ll Fly Away.” I loved to sing even then just like my other sisters and our whole family.

Little kids love to sing, loudly, heartily, putting their whole body, soul, and spirit into it. They just can’t stand still so they do a little dance, a little jig, as they sing. Teach a child the song Jesus Loves Me and he will know it till the day he dies.

Then they grow up and develop a taste for a certain kind of music, rejecting other styles. They might sing along with the music in the car or sing in the shower, but seldom in public. Sometimes the only opportunity some people have to sing is in a Karaoke bar, where they can sing along to a recording of the latest hit song.

Most churches have changed their format to praise-and-worship songs, with few hymns. Many older folks wish they would sing some old familiar hymns, but the younger folks want to learn the latest-and-greatest praise songs. Some churches resolve this issue by holding two separate services, one traditional, one contemporary.

God who created us with the capability to sing put a song into our hearts. Every race on earth sings, from Africa to New Guinea to Alaska.

Ephesians 5:19 says, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

God’s kingdom choir can sing every style of music, from chanting psalms, gospel hymns, and songs of the Spirit of God given to us in these last days. Don’t limit yourself to only one style of music. God created them all.

Words That Endure

I recently held a letter in my own hands written by my great grandmother Mary May (Slankard) Hightower in 1929 to her son and daughter-in-law, my grandparents. It was in a box of papers that looked as though they would disintegrate and fly away if I breathed hard on them. I carefully unfolded the letter and brushed the dust off with a soft-bristle paintbrush, then placed it in an acid-free archival-quality clear plastic sleeve to protect it.

Those letters she wrote reveal something of my family that I might not have known. It always seemed to me that my family was not very well educated, but here I was reading letters, handwritten letters, written by my supposedly uneducated great grandmother who was born in 1867 and died in 1953. She wrote 5 pages of her life—how she missed her son and daughter-in-law, what the weather was like, what she was growing in her garden. She talked of being thankful that the Lord was helping her in an illness. She had clear handwriting, and wrote using clear language.

On the 1880 census, my great grandmother was 12 and going to school. In 1900 she was 34 and had been married 15 years, had five children from ages 3-14, and could read, write, and speak English, according to the census. Her three older children were in school and two of them could read, write, and speak English. Her 7-year-old was able to speak English but couldn’t read or write yet. These were my family who I considered uneducated.

I don’t think that my great grandmother knew she was writing a letter that would be read by her future descendants but she had something she wanted to communicate and God saw that it was important enough for it to be preserved for her great grandchildren and other descendants to come.

 “Write down for the coming generation what the Lord has done, so that people not yet born will praise him.” Psalm 102:18. Good News Translation.

We have the ability to use our words to communicate with future generations.֎