Monday, July 27, 2009

Hiding Place

After today's thunderstorm with heavy rain, I walked outside with my camera. It was still sprinkling, so I returned to the back door so that I wouldn't get my camera wet! As I was standing on the steps, I noticed a lizard peeking from a nearby hydrangea bush. It looked as if he was just crawling out of his hiding place after the storm.

I am reminded that we all need a shelter, a hiding place, during the storms of our lives. And we all do have storms . . . some so very intense that we wonder if we will outlast the winds that bend us to our knees and the deluge that seems to sweep our lives out of control. BUT . . . but if we know and trust the Master of the Storms . . . the Keeper of the Winds . . . we, too, will emerge from the storm's fury . . . in His time.

This past week at camp meeting, an unexpected storm threatened to disrupt our service. We who sat in the outer sections of the tabernacle soon began to get wet from the blowing rain. Before long, however, we all crowded into the center section away from the effects of the thunderstorm. There we all sat . . . closer to each other . . . enjoying God's presence even as the thunder rolled and the lightning popped. It just seemed so much safer . . . in the center . . . close together. We sang, we prayed, we listened to God's Words, and we worshipped. To me, it was so symbolic of what should happen when a storm brews in our church, our community, or our nation. We just need to pull together, stay in God's presence, seek His will, and ride out the storm . . . together.

Bob, our song evangelist, later reminded us that the best place to be during life's storms is in the center of God's will. Just as we all moved to the center of the old tabernacle, we need to be sure that we are centered in Christ's good plans for us. And if we find that we have moved away from Him - even a small distance - and the winds of the world are getting us a little damp, He invites us . . . He gently pleads with us . . . to move to the center of His will. I can't think of any better, safer, more peaceful place to be - storm or no storm!

"The Lord's our Rock; in Him we hide . . . a shelter in the time of storm."

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I'm amazed at the ingenuity of God's creatures! This red-bellied woodpecker had just picked up a sunflower seed from the "birds' table" (a large piece of cement buried in the yard where I put out bird feed) and needed to crack it open. He carried it to a nearby utility pole, found a crack, and put the seed tightly in it! Then he was able to open the seed and eat the tasty center. If only I used my head as quickly and efficiently as the woodpecker! My life would be much simpler!

God has "wired" birds with the instinct to seek food and water for themselves, He sees that they are fed (and I love helping Him), and He knows when the least of them falls. I think He takes great delight in every one of them. How much more does He care for you and me!

"His eye is on the sparrow (and the woodpecker), and I know He watches me."


Cicada "shells" like the one above can be found in abundance this time of year. It's not a pretty sight, but I am reminded of the new life that crawled from the ugliness. Quite a metamorphosis - designed by the Creator of all things! As fascinating as the process is, I can think of a much greater transformation - one that is summed up in these words: "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come." (IICor. 5:17)

And the story doesn't end there. One day, we who have experienced the transforming power of God and have a personal, up-to-date relationship with The Transformer, ". . . will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye . . . . For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. Then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory.' " (ICor. 15:51-54)

Now that's a change to die for! And that's just what Jesus did! He died to make new life a reality for all of us.

"Change my heart, O God. Make me more like You."

Friday, July 10, 2009

If Walls Could Talk

One of my favorite poems is entitled "Laughter in the Walls" by Bob Benson. The poem is a beautiful kaleidoscope of memories of the Benson children growing up in their crowded but happy home. The author knows life is about to change as his sons and daughter are ready to leave the nest - one by one. Benson says that the once noisy, busy house will be getting larger - back to the size it was when he designed it years ago. He writes:
But it won't be empty.
Every corner, every room,
every nick in the coffee table
will be crowded
with memories. . .

And Peg and I will
sit quietly by the fire
and listen to the laughter in these walls.

I thought of those lines today. Our house is so very quiet after having the family here . . . and the rooms seem so much bigger and emptier than when the grands and their parents were here. And then I thought: If walls could talk . . . If walls could talk, I could replay their laughter, their teasing with Poppa, their voices calling me "Nanner" (instead of Nana), the knock-knock jokes, the funny things they said (that should be written down), and the more serious conversations we had.

But walls can't talk. However, memories can speak to us. And John David and I have already been listening to the echos of the good times we've had with our family recently! I'm so thankful that God created us with the ability to remember . . . and picture all the happy times we've had with our children and grandchildren . . . and hear their voices . . . and almost reach out and touch them at times - even though they are miles away. I can even still smell the two sweaty, dirty little boys who came into our house after a day of playing in the woods or riding four-wheelers 20+ years ago!

On the flip side of that idea came the thought: If walls really could talk, I would hope they also could erase some things . . . like unkind words . . . hurtful replies . . . heated "discussions" . . . or any other unpleasant or unChrist-like words. But walls can't talk; neither can they erase words that have been spoken. Words, once verbalized, can never be taken back, as we all know so well. But . . . but . . . God has a big eraser and is ready and willing to blot out any wrongly-spoken words that we confess to Him. Then He never remembers them again! Now that's better than walls that can talk!

No, walls can't talk, but I like that analogy. Just thinking about all the beautiful memories stored within these walls over the past 34 years is heartwarming. One of the many blessings of having grandchildren is that they keep the good times and laughter bouncing off these walls. If our walls could talk tonight, every room would be ringing with chuckles, giggles, belly laughs, and fun times. And what's more, the two of us just added a few more ripples of laughter as I retold one of the jokes our younger grandson told last night! The ancient wise man was so right; a happy heart - and laughter - really are good medicines for the soul! And good memories are, too!

"Smile a while . . . and give your face a rest . . . "

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Fourth . . . Family . . . Freedom

Natchitoches, Louisiana

Day after tomorrow we will celebrate America's 233rd birthday! I love the Fourth of July! Always have! My earliest memories of celebrations are all about the annual Knippers Reunion at Kisatchie Creek . . . a celebration that lasted for two days! Full of excitement, the five of us always loaded the car and headed to that beautiful piece of woods on July 3rd, spent the night there with other relatives, and had the best of times on the Fourth.

Back then many of us had no tents but slept wherever we could find a place . . . in the car, on a cot, in the back of a pick-up. But that was part of the fun! That and seeing the entire Knippers clan . . . and the food . . . and the stories . . . and the fireworks . . . and swimming in the clear, cold creek or at the falls. I can almost taste the fall-off-the bone tender barbeque; the creamy pots of roast'near soup; juicy, sweet watermelons; and different flavors of homemade ice cream! Breakfast might have been even better . . . eggs, probably gathered from a Knippers' chicken house . . . and sausage and smoked bacon from some family member's hog-killing day . . . all cooked on Coleman stoves. You could smell it for miles! The wonderful aroma drifted deeper into the woods and brought the wild hogs right to our camp on at least one occasion! But there was enough room for all of us, and no harm was done that I remember!

I do remember the closeness of Daddy's siblings, a closeness that extended to their children and grandchildren. And so you could always count on a huge crowd. I wish it was still that way, but time has a way of changing the family . . . and sadly, our lifestyles. All of the children of Thomas and Miranda Knippers are now gone, and many of my cousins have passed from this life. Even though we have so many more ways to communicate now, we often fail to do so. But I'm so glad for the memories I have of those wonderful hot summer, almost-magical days spent in the Kistachie woods!

Although we celebrate much more quietly these days, the Fourth is still a very special holiday for me. I love to see Old Glory flying on any day, but it's especially meaningful on the birthday of our nation. We took three of our grandchildren to Natchitoches today, and the beauty of the town, which is older than America, was even more striking with red, white, and blue decorating the streets and riverbank. Natchitoches, all spruced up to celebrate the birthday of our country and the epitome of small town America, has a way of reminding me once again that I'm so thankful to live in this wonderful country.

Despite America's many failures, I'm still so proud to be an American! I realize more and more that our freedom has not, is not, and will never be free! And so on this Fourth of July weekend, I'll celebrate with my family, though small in number, and remember those who've paid the ultimate price for my freedom and the many blessings I enjoy! One of those privileges is being able to enjoy life in small-town America with my wonderful family.

"God bless America . . . land that I love. . . stand beside her . . . and guide her. . . throught the night. . . with the light from above."