Getting My Full Attention

After one year of marriage and living in California we moved back to the Cincinnati area. Bob had decided not to pursue Medical School, but to go for a degree in Medical Technology. At that time you needed 4 years of college, 1 year of training and then licensing before you could do in-house hospital work. The University of Cincinnati took all of their Med Tech students from their college enrollment. He searched further afield and found a Med Tech school in Lexington Kentucky.

When we were wed Bob made me promise we would not have kids until we were married 5 years. I reluctantly agreed. I have always loved babies. For the first 5 years it seemed that all I saw were pregnant ladies and newborn babies. Finally in Lexington we ‘got pregnant.’

On my due date my mother insisted on visiting us in Lexington. I told her the obstetrician was certain nothing would happen on that date, but she was determined. She came with a Styrofoam cooler of food. She wanted to go shopping. I could barely fit my belly behind her steering wheel to drive.

That night she died in her sleep. (Cerebral hemorrhage ran in her family.) Sadly, I found her the next morning. Bob checked for a pulse and we knew she was gone. It was quite shocking.

Shortly after Bob determined that indeed Mom was dead, I heard her voice repeating, “God works in mysterious ways.” She often said this. I believe she took the saying from a hymn by William Cowper written about 1774 and carried in most Protestant hymnals.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Within an hour of finding my mother dead I told Bob that in some ways it was such a relief. She had been determined to buy a playpen. She said when we came to visit in Cincinnati she would keep the baby and we could go out. I knew I could never let that happen and was going to find a way to tell her so that very weekend. My mother had some sort of personality disorder thing. It was not just the alcoholism. She would be fine, go in the bathroom and when she emerged have this distinct other personality. She was not in the bathroom long enough to get drunk. I would never have felt safe leaving my infant with her.

So, I never had to tell her something that I feared might kill her. I did have to raise my children without their Grandmother around.

The Lord has indeed led and guide me through my years. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Here is a contemporary version of the hymn with a few added lines.

So Off I Went

Finally off to college and the world of learning, lust and various forms of sin. I participated in quite a few of those. After one year at college I ran out of money. People were telling me I could eat peanut butter and get a degree with debt at the end, or I could go to work. I chose to go to work.

Got an apartment, full time job as a key punch operator and was on my own. My mother was calling me every day. When she was questioning me one day about where I had been the night before I had quite enough. She had called. I was asleep and never heard the phone. This was way before answering machines. My boyfriend had left for California. I started contemplating moving there to help Mom cut the apron strings. Found out I could have a job as a nanny if I wanted it.

Soon I was off to California to work full time as a nanny to a Chinese family. There was not much sign of Christian life in me at the time, though I had kept my prayer book and Bible. I went into somewhat of a depression trying to reconcile what had happened to my life in Cincinnati. The niece I never knew was put up for adoption immediately upon birth. My family was splintered.

Peet’s Coffee

The best part of Berkeley California was I worked across the street from Peet’s coffee shop. They roasted coffee every day. What a glorious aroma!! After a few months I broke up with the boyfriend. Eventually I changed jobs and went to work at AAA as a touring counselor. It was fun. I even waited on Ray Kroc once, the owner of McDonald’s. I thought he was teasing me about being the owner.

While enjoying the park one Saturday I met a young man named Don William. He introduced me to his roommate, Bob. Bob was only coming to their shared apartment on weekends. He lived in Fremont with his family of origin during the week because he worked with his dad even further south near San Jose. It was literally love at first sight.

We met in July, got engaged in August and married in September. We only waited until September so the people from Ohio could get there. I knew I wanted to be married in the eyes of the church as well as the state. So we began prenuptial meetings with a priest in Oakland. The priest agreed to do our wedding out of doors at Live Oak park in Berkeley. He just wanted assurance that we planned to wear clothes! It was 1970 and a bit wild in Berkeley those days. I chose the park because I knew God was much larger than any church building.

I had a gown I had purchased for $30 from a used clothing store and had altered for $30 to fit me. Bob wore the jacket his mother had purchased at a yard sale for his high school dances. We made all the plans we could before my mother arrived from Ohio.

Bob waiting for me.

It wasn’t until five years later that the Lord got my full attention.

As we now approach our 51st wedding anniversary, I am amazed at the joys we have shared over the years. We have supported each other in times of sorrow and difficulty, too. God has been so good to us. We are forever grateful to Him.

I Was That Girl

Never really fit in with the “In Crowd.” Frankly, I never really cared to try that hard. When my Dad died (just ten days after I turned eleven), I went on a quest to replace him. Nothing and no one came close. Gradually I turned to the Lord and He has filled my every need. While others were scrambling to fulfill the ways of the world, I was usually in my room reading Scripture.

When I was 17 my family of origin blew up. My stepfather was by then entrenched in our lives. My mother was a full-blown alcoholic. My sister was pregnant. Having spent hours on my own studying the Word I was familiar with Psalm 27:10. This verse helped save my sanity and grounded me in His care.

If my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up.”

Psalm 27:10 RSV

I was ready to attend the University of Cincinnati, the age when most kids have some sort of family departure launch. Instead I was launched into being a Ward of the State until I turned 18. I left the organized church, not being able to reconcile what was happening in my life with the seemingly hunky-dory family lives at my church. I left church and I took Jesus with me.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me,
    uttering slanders against me,
my adversaries and foes,
    they shall stumble and fall.

3 Though a host encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
    yet I will be confident.

4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after;
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life
,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
    and to inquire in his temple.
Psalm 27:1-4 RSV

What is this ‘house of the Lord?” We are told by Paul that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

As a child I was dropped off at the Presbyterian church. Loved the choir director, the church school lessons, not so much the services. They would read from the Scriptures “Bow down before the Lord,” yet no one did.

Come, let us bow down in worship,

    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker

Psalm 95:6

By the age of 14 I had never been baptized or confirmed. My mother refused to let me go to the Catholic church with my best friend. I had been introduced to the Episcopal Church. I liked the bowing down and prayer book and though the worship music was not the best, it would do. I made arrangements for my own confirmation classes. I was too old for the children’s group and too young for the adult’s group. I met with the the Pastor privately. I was delighted the day I was confirmed. Just delighted.

I will try to unfold my life with Jesus in the coming weeks. Hoping not to bore you. It is the story I can tell best because I lived it!

My Utmost

Shut out every other consideration and keep yourself before God for this one thing only—My Utmost for His Highest. I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and for Him alone.”

OSWALD CHAMBERS

Why is this important? I want my everything to be for God. I want to yield to His will and His Word.

I found a quote in my notes. At the time I did not write down the notation of where it was from. Eventually I found it was by Oswald Chambers in the devotional My Utmost for His Highest, June 11.

He wrote regarding “And I will give you rest,” i.e., ‘I will stay you. Not – I will put you to bed and hold your hand and sing you to sleep; but – I will get you out of bed, out of languor and exhaustion, out of the state of being half dead wile you are awake; I will imbue you with the spirit of life, and you will be stayed by the perfection of vital activity.”

That is the sort of motivation I need. I need it regularly. I need a call to constant infilling with the spirit of life.

You can go to https://utmost.org/ to read the Utmost devotion for each day or sign up for it to be sent to your mailbox. If you want to read the full text the quote above is lifted from go to https://utmost.org/getting-there-1/

Jesus, Grandma Snapp, GBS, Mrs. Cowman, Oswald Chambers, Molly Lin Dutina. The Lord is powerful in His weaving and creating. I praise You, Lord! How majestic are His ways over all generations! How majestic is Your Name!

LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?  
You have made them a little lower than the angels  
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Psalm 8 NIV

God’s Bible School

God’s Bible School (GBS) is a Bible college in Cincinnati founded in 1900. It is of the Wesleyan-Arminian (Methodist) tradition. These facts come from Michelle Ule writing at https://www.michelleule.com/2020/08/11/gods-bible-school. This interests me because my Grandmother was a teacher at this school. I think my mother was especially proud about that! Imagine, my grandmother may have prayed for me to spread spread the Gospel all those years ago!

I went to visit the school about 1979. Emily was in a pre-school class. I loaded baby Jeff into the backpack and went to see the school. I was not aware until I arrived how out of place I was. The women all wore skirts and I was in jeans. None of the women wore their hair braided. I had a ponytail. The baby on my back made it difficult to wear it any other way!

It was nice to tour the grounds. There were Scriptures carved over the doorways. Also some messages in parts of the sidewalk. I loved the fact that my grandmother had been there often.

Recently I recalled that Oswald Chambers had visited the school. That is how I became aware of Michele Ule’s writing. She reports that “GBS and Chambers loved each other. Oswald Chambers was welcomed in 1907, 1908, 1909 and 1910.” She also reports he “returned several times in the years to come to teach at camp meetings.”

I was delighted to read “The first enrolled students (of 72 total the first year) were Charles and Lettie Cowman on their way to the mission field.” You may recall that Mrs. Cowman gathered the devotions for the ever popular “Streams in the Desert.” I have one copy published in 1925. Another is in journaling format.

Tomorrow I will write more about how all of this pulled together for me. Until then, try to read Streams in the Desert. You can read it for free online at https://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/desert/

Lucky Dog

I often take Lucky out into the front yard and brush her. And brush her. and brush her. This beagle seems to shed huge amounts constantly.

The other thing she really likes is a good massage. I told her she was in for a treat when she met Dan and Betty last week for the first time. They do not just pet a dog. They massage!

Three handed massage!!

(An aside: Oh look! Bob and Molly have hung a picture in the new house!!)

We do not have a guest room in this new house. After Dan and Betty went to their motel room every evening I would get out the vacuum and clean up the beagle shed. I kept the pet hair roller next to Betty’s place on the sofa.

You can see in this photo that Lucky turned around for a Dan massage. Sadly, Dan likely has dog hair in his eye.

Lucky has seemed sad the last couple days as Dan and Betty are no longer visiting here, but continuing their tour of Ohio to see their son and Grandson and Greats.

I am sad, too. I miss them terribly. The four of us are great friends and have even done ministry together over the years. So unusual. They are much more like family than friends! I believe the four of us could live together comfortably!

Moving In

Here are a few photos from our moving in experience. The piggy my mother used as a cookie jar made it in tact. Ellie and I had packed it and hoped it would be fine.

Thank goodness for bubble wrap and tape! Lizzie helped unpack and Lucky loved that!

Jeff had uprooted plants for us and planted them in buckets that he drilled holes in. I was uncertain if my 20+ year old rose would transplant again?

She made it!
This is where walkway meets the driveway. Lucky thinks this water tastes best!

So yes, there is more photo material to share with you. I usually have a start and stop reentry. Hope to be more consistent soon! We are so grateful for our new home!

Into the Countdown Now!

I am writing this Monday morning, May 3. We get the keys Friday morning the 7th and close that afternoon! Then the adult kids and grandchildren help us start to move in.

Whew! so much work getting to this point. And SO much work yet to be done. Just realized I should also move the houseplants on Saturday along with the plants we hope to plant outdoors once they lay sod and define our flower beds.

Bob and I have been trying to rest as much as we can knowing this adventure will zap our strength once the adrenaline wears off! He is at the bank now arranging the wire transfer for our closing costs and partial payment. He was on the phone this morning about arranging garbage pick up and turning water to our name on Friday. His next call will be to the power company.

And yep, there is always something to go wrong. Looking under the new bathroom sink yesterday I found a small leak. Praying they repair that early this morning.

The tile work is underway in master bath, but not grouted or finished yet.

Oh tile man please finish my shower!

I finally got to see the flooring without cardboard over it. This is the view from the front door looking towards the sliding glass door. It had just been mopped, so no, it is not really shiny. And look! I got my brown front door instead of black 🙂

The screen door for the slider is torn. There is a lump in the guest room window sill they will sand down and redo.

Meanwhile Siesta Drive is becoming a box maze! Neither one of us is allowed to ask “Where is …?”

So pray for us to keep our sense of humor and patience, especially with each other! Pray for safety for all those involved with moving our “stuff.”

We are so grateful for our many blessings. I saw a sign at Hobby Lobby that said “Crazy Blessed.” Yep! that’s me.

Influencer

Can you call to mind people who have impacted your life in simple ways? Do you remember how they showed their faith? What do you recall about them?

When as an adult, I first had an intense experience with the Risen Christ, the priest at the Episcopal church did not know quite what to do with me. He did know who to refer me to though! Mary Dirkse quickly became my spiritual mom. My birth mother had already died. In fact, grief over that loss is what sent me to the Lord, seeking His comfort as I anguished over missing her.

Blessed are those who mourn,

    for they will be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

Mary did simple things for me. She would listen to my woes without correcting me or throwing out trite sayings into my tumult of grief. When I became pregnant with our son I was So Very Nauseous the entire nine months. Mary would fix me an egg, cooked thoroughly, put it on buttered toast and urge me to try to eat. Her fixings always stayed down. After the delivery of my first child I was nervous and frightened about climbing onto the delivery table for another C-Section, wide awake. Mary and others prayed me through the experience. To this day she continues to pray for our son.

When I was eager for more of Jesus, she took me to a Women’s Aglow meeting. I continued going to those monthly meetings for ten years, eventually holding some of the offices to keep the local meeting afloat and operating smoothly. I met many Spirit filled women who inspired me to surrender myself to Jesus.

When Mary moved from Ohio to Wisconsin I was so saddened. After her husband passed she moved to Washington state to be with her children. Mary SHOWED me the love of Jesus. She would play her zither and sing worship songs with me. I was enchanted. Mary simply loved God and was willing to share that love in any way the Lord required.

We often shared the parallels of raising toddlers and teenagers. So much alike, yet so different in size, language and body maintenance.

Who has the Lord sent into your life to influence, guide, encourage and show the ways of Christ? I hope you have someone to nurture as Mary nurtured me. If you are not nurturing anyone, ask God who He might like you to reach out to with His light and love. Yes, she lives very far away now. We do try to email and share cards on occasion.

Mary, if you are reading this, I have no more words except thank you from the bottom of my heart for your inspiration, guidance and continued intercession. You certainly pulled a grieving young woman from the waters of sin and confusion. May the Lord bless you abundantly for the multitude of ways you have served Him during your long and fruitful life. I love you.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Titus 2:3-5

Hey, Mom?

The kids were sitting at the dining room table doing their homework. I was standing at the kitchen sink, doing dishes and singing aloud in my prayer language.

Suddenly Jeff asks, “Hey, Mom? Is that how you sing in cursive?” I answered, “Yes, I guess so!”

“So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.” 1 Corinthians 14:15 NIV

In some respects I did okay raising our children. In many respects, I failed raising our children for Paul goes on to write in 1 Corinthians 14:16-17

Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified. 1 Corinthians 14:16-17 NIV

I did not realize at the time that I should have prayed for and then sang out the interpretation. I was simply at the sink worshiping.

May the Lord lead and guide our now adult children to a deep fulfilling walk with Him. Perhaps by my examples I did expose them to helpful cues for their journey.