What? No cake? My Incredible Journey

What a day to praise the Lord. W had a quiet party of pecan pie and ice cream and sang hymns with our long time friends, Brad and Joyce and Betty who became our friend just after I was diagnosed with cancer.

Eighty-three years ago yesterday my mother welcomed me into her heart, arms, and life. It has been an incredible life. The Lord has been faithful every moment and for this I am thankful. He accepted me into his family as his treasured possession when I was twelve years old. He introduced me to The King’s College and there I met the love of my life, Emily, who has proven to be the help meet for 61 ½ years. He has given us four children who know and love the Lord, eight grandchildren who are using their talents to serve him, and six great grandchildren who are being trained to know and love the Lord. And as an added blessing, three step grandchildren. What a legacy. I could ask for nothing more.

Yet He has given so much more in a companion who has worked along side me in every endeavor. We directed plays and musicals together, toured with choirs, madrigals, barbershop quartets together, led Christian seminars for many years together and shared special moments along the way.

So as I closed yesterday I again said thank you Lord for an incredible journey with you and with the choice of a life long partner. We look forward to the days, weeks, and months ahead as we continue to serve through our prayers for although outwardly in the flesh I grow weaker, yet day by day I am being renewed 2 Cor 4:16.

The First Bite Did Us In

We shouldn’t have taken the first bite. My brother and I had just finished picking a quart of mulberries for our mother for a pie that night for supper. “Let’s get out of here before the mosquitoes have us for supper.”

The berries looked so good to my brother and me facing temptation in the insect-infested woods in Missouri where we spent our childhood but while we were picking them I hadn’t eaten even one berry.

“We shouldn’t eat any, should we?” Dick asked.

“No, I guess not, but my stomach’s growling. I guess we could snitch just one or two.” As I said that, I almost stumbled over a branch and nearly spilled the berries.

I stopped and we each popped two or three berries into our mouths. I must admit, I love any kind of juicy, sweet berries. By the time we reached home, the pail was almost empty and our faces and hands told a story of thievery. Yes, we had stolen from our mother by taking that first berry and had robbed her of that little pleasure.

My head was down and my eyes studied my dirty shoes. I handed her the pail. “Sorry, Mom, we ate the berries.” I felt so ashamed.

Our mother should have sent us to pick another quart. Instead, she just smiled and said, “Well, we can have a mulberry pie another time.”

The apostle John explains to us what happened on that walk home with a pail full of berries. “The cravings of our sinful nature, the lust of our eyes” (1 John 2:17) made us forget about obedience–to pick a quart of berries for a pie–and forget about self-control. We should have covered the pail and not lusted after the fruit. I know now not to take the first bite. When we give in to lust, we can be forgiven, but we can’t always go back and fill the pail again.

Do you remember an experience when you lusted after something and took that first bite?

Excerpted from my memoir Naked With Clothes On soon to be published.

An Unsung Mother Theresa

As my wife was struggling for an appropriate title for an essay she had written about her mother on the subject “Gratitude for Someone Who Has Touched Your life,” I suggested “An Unsung Mother Theresa.”

“My mother began making a ‘home away from home’ for mothers’ sons when we lived in the D.C. area. Servicemen sitting alone at the Hot Shoppe restaurant were invited to our home for pie and Swedish coffee. Many made return visits and stayed in touch with my Mom for several years. People down on their luck were given a place to stay until they could afford an apartment. We never had a large home, but there was always room for another “bed” in the living room, on the long enclosed porch, and sometimes in the dining room.

“Mom began to take her three daughters to Walter Reed Army Hospital on Sunday afternoons. We visited with servicemen who had no family in the area. Usually we went to the amputee or the hepatitis wards because most people didn’t want to visit those. We girls sang, talked with them about their families, and wrote letters for them. Emily became their ‘Mother’ away from home, and they called her Ma Person. When they were well enough to have an overnight or weekend pass, they were invited to our home.”

These are just a few examples of her Mother’s benevolent kindness to so many people.

How about if we start using our free time to become a Mother Theresa to someone as my wife’s mother did? Locate children and teenagers needing a foster home, such as in Nana’s House. Care for unwanted babies needing Christian families until adoptive agencies can place them. Serve day workers and the homeless who need bag lunches. Visit nursing homes and assisted living facilities to show them real love as Apostle James suggests in James 1:27, “Look after orphans and widows in their distress.”

When these “good works” become a lifestyle for us, then we’ll be living examples of “Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18).

As there were no strangers to my wife’s mother, may there be no strangers to us.