Thursday, November 11, 2010

Step by Step

I am a creature of habit. I habitually drive the same way to work each day. I drop my daughter off at school and then head straight for the nearest QT for a 32 oz. iced tea with lots of ice! Because I take the same route each day I see the same businesses, the same people at the bus stop, and even some of the same cars that pass me on the road.

But there is one thing that I see every day that touches my heart and causes me to think. I see an older woman walking with a cane or a walker struggling for each painful step. She moves ever so slowly; if she moved any slower, she wouldn't be moving at all! I can tell that she has to think about each step as her brain tells her legs and feet to move. Maybe she's recovering from a stroke or an accident or a debilitating disease, but there she is every day putting one foot in front of the other moving slowly from point A to point B. She never makes it across the street before the light turns. I worry that someone won't see her still in the crosswalk and I hold my breath every time until she finally approaches the curb!

I admire this woman! I admire her perseverence and courage and her willingness to get out there and face the struggle EVERY DAY! She just doesn't give up!

Sometimes, in my spiritual walk, I feel like that woman. Each step seems slow and deliberate and I wonder if I'm getting very far at all! Satan tries his best to discourage me and keep me from making it from Point A to Point B! But praise be to God who leads me one step at a time! "If the Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand." (Psalm 37:23)

"God, give me the perseverence, courage and willingness necessary to get out there and face the struggle EVERY DAY! Help me to keep in step with the spirit and not give up. Thank you for this daily example and reminder to hold on to your hand and walk one step at a time."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Concentrate on God

"Beware of any work for God that causes or allows you to avoid concentrating on Him. A great number of Christian workers worship their work. The only concern of Christian workers should be their concentration on God."
Oswald Chambers

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Soul Winning

I sometimes worry that I'm not doing enough to lead others to Christ. As a Children's Minister it's easy to say, "I'm planting seeds." That's true, of course, but does that exempt me from the Great Commission? Recently, I was reading Acts 8. It seems to me that this is a chapter about evangelism. The Good News was spreading. Phillip shared the gospel with the man from Ethiopia who confessed Christ and was baptized. God was adding to the church. When was the last time I shared the gospel with someone? When have I explained the scriptures more fully so that someone would come to know Christ? When did I last explain God's wonderful plan for redemption to someone lost in sin? There is a lost world out there. I tend to forget that. I bask in His mercy and grace without thought for those who don't know Him. I somehow don't think I'm alone in this! C.H.Spurgeon said, "If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for." The words to a song come to mind: "Lord, lay some soul upon my heart, and love that soul through me. And may I humbly do my part, to win that soul for thee." That is my prayer.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Life with Jesus

"The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 'Return home and tell how much God has done for you.' So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him." Luke 8:38,39

As a young girl I was fascinated by the story found in Luke 8 about the man from whom Jesus cast out demons. I could visualize the herd of pigs going over a cliff and into the water! This seemed quite funny to me! Of course, through the years other elements of the story took on significance. It's interesting to examine the different responses to Jesus by the participants in this story: the demons, the possessed man, the pig herders, and the people of the town. From them we see fear, recognition, gratitude and belief. This passage of scripture is a powerful example of the transforming power of Jesus.

But in my most recent reading of this passage the phrase, "begged to go with him" seemed to speak to me. There are times in my life when I long to withdraw from the world and "go with him." I yearn to spend hours alone with Jesus and His word. Let me retire from life and its demands, schedules, conflicts and endless activity. Let me hole up somewhere in quiet solitude and just be with Jesus!

But God did not call me to that kind of life! At least not yet! He does not call any of us to a life of monasticism. Instead he says, "go home and tell how much God has done for you." And God has done so much for me! I'm blessed to be His child; I should be shouting that from the housetops! Each and every day God is touching my life and I need to be sharing that with others "all over town." That's the life to which Jesus calls me. For now.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Memories of Mom

My mother died one year ago today. I miss her. I know that she is in the presence of the Lord, awaiting my arrival, but I miss her presence here.

A few years ago my mother asked me how I was going to remember her. I didn't have a good answer at the time, but I thought about it a lot. One thing that I will remember most is her hands. They were gentle, compassionate, and productive. I can see her now preparing sandwiches for a tea, stitching a quilt, sewing beautiful clothes for my sister and me, and holding and rocking my younger brother when he was sick with asthma. When I called my mother's friend (our minister's wife from 45 years ago) to tell her mother had died, she told me that she still had some things that my mother had made for her and how pecious they were to her. Mother spent a lifetime caring for others. She opened her heart and her hands to those in need.

I will remember my mother's voice. She often told the story about the teacher that told her, "Wanda, just dance, don't sing." From that time on my mother was reluctant to sing when anyone could hear her, but she chose to "make melody in her heart." However, she sang to her children and I can't hear or sing the song, "When He Cometh" without thinking of my mother. And I can hear her singing it in my daughter's ear as she rocked her to sleep.

And lastly, I will remember her "momisms." "You have to suffer to be beautiful." "Beauty is as beauty does." "If you stick that lip out much farther a rooster will perch on it." (I was a pouter!) In recent years we heard some things over and over and over again, like: "Growing old isn't for sissies." "The only thing that runs anymore is my nose." "What is today?"

But the words I will remember most because of the frequency with which she quoted them are found in Proverbs 13:12 "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when it is come about, it is as a tree of life." The New Living Translation says it this way: "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life." I don't know why my mother quoted that verse so much, but I do know that in my own life I have needed the hope and the promise of it. And I thank God that mother passed it on to me.

My mother wasn't perfect: she was a flawed child of God, but my brothers and sister and I were blessed to have a "truly good woman" for a mother!

I miss you, Mom!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ponder This

"To do even the most humbling of tasks to the glory of God takes the Almighty God Incarnate working in us. To be utterly unnoticeable requires God's spirit in us making us absolutely humanly His. The true test of a saint's life is not successfulness but faithfulness on the human level of life."
Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Gift of Song

My daughter gave me a beautiful gift yesterday. It was not a material gift. No jewelry. No perfume. No clothing or books. This gift is more precious to me than any of those.

It was the gift of a song.

Not just any song.

I'll explain.

My daughter has been blessed with a lovely voice. To develop this gift, she has been taking voice lessons for almost a year. I am NEVER invited in to listen to her sing. Until yesterday. After her lesson she came running to the car and told me I just had to come in. I followed her into the voice studio and was informed by her teacher that I was to hear a private concert. Such a joy! I was thrilled to finally be invited into this special, almost sacred, place where my daughter spends so many happy moments doing something she loves: singing. I waited with anticipation to hear the song she has been perfecting. Her teacher played the introduction, and Jennifer began to sing.

And I began to cry. My sweet daughter did not know that I last heard this song at my father's memorial service. She did not know that it was one of his favorites. She only hoped that it might bring me joy! And it did. It's a beautiful song, and she did it beautifully in her young soprano voice. God blessed me with this song and her decision to sing it for me. It's a moment to remember when things are not going so well between this mother and her teenage daughter. And somewhere in heaven my father is smiling down on his granddaughter who gave her mother this gift of song and helped to ease her grief.


Dear Lord, kind Lord! Gracious Lord!
I pray Thou wilt look on all I love tenderly today!
Weed their hearts of weariness;
Scatter ev'ry care down a wake of angel wings winnowing the air.
Dear Lord, kind Lord! Gracious Lord!
I pray Thou wilt look on all I love tenderly today.
Bring unto the sorrowing all release from pain,
let the lips of laughter overflow again,
And with all the needy o divide, I pray
This vast treasure of content that is mine today!
Dear Lord, kind Lord! Gracious Lord!
I pray Thou wilt look on all I love tenderly today!

Lyrics: James Whitcomb Riley Music: Oley Speaks

Friday, April 23, 2010

Guide Me, Lord

"We know not what a day may bring forth, but if we are following our Leader we know that we shall be led.

Great Leader, Guide me by cloud or fire;
Let me be loyal to Thy heart's desire.
And lest I falter if the way be long,
O let Thy joy be strength to me and song!"

Amy Carmichael

Psalm 25:4,5

"Show me your ways, O Lord;
Teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior,
and my hope is in you all day long."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

You know you're getting older when...

Today in class at snack time, one of my boys sitting next to me kept hitting my arm! I turned to him and said, in my firm teacher voice, "Logan (name changed to protect his parents!) please stop hitting me. It is NOT okay." He smiled up at me and quipped, "But your arm jiggles. I like to see it jiggle!" What a kid! He makes me laugh every day! (And my arms do jiggle!)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Music Speaks to Me

I love old hymns. I like comtemporary praise songs, too, but hymns speak to me in a different way. Perhaps this is a reflection of my upbringing. I grew up singing hymns in church; I enjoyed singing hymns with my father as he played the piano; and, many of the records played on the stereo were collections of hymns. I especially like hymns (and praise songs, too) based on scripture. One of my favorites (and there are many!) is "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my father.
There is no shadow of turning with thee.
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not:
As thou hast been, thou forever wilt be!

Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning, new mercies I see;
All I have needed thy hand hath provided;
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow;
Blessings all mine with ten-thousand beside!
(Words and music by Thomas O. Chisholm and William M. Runyan, 1923)

I am especially fond of that last verse. The words bring me comfort and encouragement, and they remind me that I am blessed to be forgiven and that I live in His presence! Praise Him! My life is a testimony of God's faithfulness to me, and this hymn says it so much better than I!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Cottage Cheese

We served cottage cheese for snack in my Kindergarten class last week. Who knew kindergartners would have such strong opinions about cottage cheese! Apparently, either you like cottage cheese a lot or you don't like it at all! After a lively discussion about just what cottage cheese is, one sweet little girl said in a very matter of fact voice, "Cottage cheese is just milk with bumps in it!" How's that for an explanation?!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Flowers Lift Our Spirits

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"
Matthew 6:28-30 (NIV)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Tribute to My Hero

"Call me Ishmael." Perhaps you recognize the opening words from Herman Melville's classic, Moby Dick, but when I hear these words, I don't think of tossing seas, whaling boats, and Captain Ahab! I think of one of the most important men in my life -- my dad. For years, I thought Moby Dick was his favorite novel, only to find out a few months ago that it wasn't! Middlemarch has that distinction! In fact he confessed to me that there were some portions of Moby Dick that he hadn't even read, so I guess I need no longer feel guilty about using Cliff's Notes!
Life with my dad was great! My dad was one of the funniest men I knew. Somehow, whenever I was down, he had a way of bringing a smile to my face and making me laugh again. We sometimes jokingly called our house, "Perry's Nut House" because of some of Dad's crazy antics. It's been said, "one of the best things a man can have up his sleeve is a funny bone." Dad certainly had that! He could see the humorous in any situation. He belonged to the RCA record club for a short time. He kept receiving computerized statements but no lp's. While others may have chosen to phone or write the company with threats or anger, he decided to write a letter that went something like this: "Dear Sirs: I have sent my money. Please send me my records. Please send me my records. Please send me my records. Please send me my records..." I don't remember how the company responded, but I suspect that it brightened someone's day!
I recall a school morning when Dad came to wake me up with a sheet draped around him Statue of Liberty style and a flashlight raised in the air, very dramatically singing "Rise and shine!" What a great way to start the day!
Dad was also clever at making up limericks. I still remember the one he made up for me:
"There was a young girl named Jane;
She slipped when she fell off the train.
"Oh, oh," she cried, "I might have died
for I have injured my brain!"
His students at Fayetteville High School waited each year for him to jump on top of his desk and shout, "Thar she blows!" while pretending to harpoon a whale with a pencil! The truth is, he only did this once, but ask any of his students and they'll tell you about it as if they each saw it happen! A true legend!
Dad chose his epitaph many years ago. He wanted it to read "Hairy Perry -- Worm Meat!"
Somehow I don't think we will be able to fulfill that wish! I choose rather to say, "He was a good man!"
Not only was my father a man with a positive outlook toward life, but he was also one of the best friends I ever had. We used to have such great conversations; I never ceased to learn from him. He was always there for me and I have wonderful memories of him: pimento cheese on anything; Miracle Whip on just about everything; helping me bake my first cake; rolling my hair in pink sponge rollers on Saturday nights; holding me by the hand as we walked home from church on Sunday evenings while he pointed out the constellations. He gave me my first corsage and my first bottle of cologne. He never missed a program or a concert of mine. He was there to encourage me, to congratulate my successes and to bolster me when I failed. A girl couldn't have asked for a better father!
If any one person is responsible for leading me to Christ, he was the one! His example and Biblical teaching influenced me more than any one else. In him I saw the image of Christ. His words to me as I left for Bible college, "Jane, lose your life in Jesus," have remained as a compass throughout my life. I miss his spiritual guidance.
Thoreau said, "A friend is one who incessantly pays us the compliment of expecting from us all the virtues and can appreciate them in us." My father expected the best of me. I hope I never disappointed him. I want to be everything he expected me to be and I know he never expected me to be something that I'm not or cannot be.
In his poem, "Encouraged" Paul Lawrence Dunbar expresses my feelings for my dad:
"Because you love me I have much achieved,
Had you despised me, then I must have failed,
But since I know you trusted and believed,
I could not disappoint you,
so prevailed."
Proverbs 22:1 says, "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." I can't think of a more fitting verse for my dad unless it's Psalm 116:15: "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."
Dad, I miss you! (March 24, 2010 - his birthday)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Thing of Beauty and Joy

In November, we planted a tree in memory of my father. When my husband brought the tree home from the nursery, I was skeptical that it would survive. It appeared to be near death, but he assured me that it would grow and blossom in the Spring. Almost daily I said, "Honey, that tree is dead!" And each time he responded, "I don't think so!" On March 6th, his faith became sight! It bloomed! I couldn't believe it! There were 6 - 8 blossoms on that skinny little "dead" tree! I could draw several spiritual truths from this, of course, but I'll just say that joy filled my heart and tears filled my eyes. My dad would have loved this tree! I recalled an entry in his journal regarding a tree he had planted several years ago: "Yesterday was the day I'd long awaited; it was the apotheosis of my magnolia tree. It has been growing, growing, growing despite the extreme cold of last January and the great number of leaves it lost as an apparent consequence. The first creamy white flower appeared and prepared to open. I don't think that I can verbalize the joy it brought my soul, for I was moved within my spirit to see this beautiful flower at long last make its royal display in its own unhurried, magnificent way. I guess the fact that it brought joy is the reason for my elation. A second bud seems to be following; they should be there from now on and hopefully be there long after I am departed. Perhaps a mockingbird will someday nest in the tree's branches and add the pure joy of natural music to the exquiste loveliness of the blossom through the years." I hope my flowering plum brings as much joy to me and to others who see it as my dad's magnolia tree did to him. "A thing of beauty is a joy forever!"

"For, lo the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of birds is come,
And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."
The Bible

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Gift to Touch My Heart

Yesterday, I was given the gift of a hyacinth! A real live hyacinth! It's beautiful! The fragrance is lovely! My secret sister gave me a remembrance of my mother and it touched my heart in a special way. Did she know that the color of this hyacinth was my mother's favorite? Did she know the connection I make between hyacinths and my mother? Did she read my blog? I don't know; but I consider it a gift from God and I will cherish it. This delightful gift will go in my garden of memories to enjoy again and again.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights...." James 1:17

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Day Well Spent

I found this old clipping in my father's Bible. It seems to me these are good questions to ask at the end of the day!

Is anybody happier because you passed this way?
Does anyone remember that you spoke to them today?
The day is almost over, and its toiling time is through:
Is there anyone to utter now a kindly word of you?
Can you say tonight in parting with the day that's slipping fast,
That you helped a single person of the many that you passed?
Is a single heart rejoicing over what you did or said?
Does the one whose hopes were fading now with courage look ahead?
Did you waste the day or use it?
Was it well or sorely spent?
Did you leave a trail of kindness or a scar of discontent?
As you close your eyes in slumber,
Do you think that God will say:
You have earned one more tomorrow by what you did today?
(author unknown)

"Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity..." Ephesians 5:15

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." I Thessalonians 5:11

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I was thinking about hands today. More precisely, I was thinking about my mother's hands. They were not beautiful by the world's standards with immaculately kept nails, soft skin, and tapered fingers. Her hands were hard-working and productive and it showed! As a nurse, her hands soothed and ministered to many a sick or dying patient. As a mother, these same hands could be both gentle and firm! When I think back I can almost feel her tender touch on my forehead burning with fever. In my mind's eye I can see her gently patting my infant daughter as she "whispered" her to sleep. They were like the hands of the Proverbs 31 woman: "She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands...she sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for the task...She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy." I want hands like hers!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hyacinths for the Soul

Today I bought some hyacinths to decorate the tables for our Women of God meeting. Hyacinths always make me think of my mother. She loved them. She often said that everyone needs a hyacinth for his or her soul now and then. Not an actual plant, but something to bring joy into your life. She and my father shared this belief. Sometimes, when times were tough, they bought themselves a hyacinth for their souls: something beautiful, not needful; something to lift their spirits, not to put food on the table. I remember my Dad quoting a poem about hyacinths, so I looked it up. I found this poem by a 13th century Persian poet.

If, of thy mortal goods, thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves
alone to thee art left
Sell one and from the dole,
Buy hyacinths to feed the soul.

And also: "If I had but two loaves of bread I would sell one of them and buy White Hyacinths to feed my soul." Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)

God is beautiful! And we are made in His image. Our souls need things of beauty to inspire us. Flowers. Poems. Music. Art. A pleasantly decorated home. A good book. All can "feed the soul."

I hope for more hyacinths to feed my soul.

Janie Annie

Friday, February 5, 2010

Why "Under His Wings?"

I chose my blog name, Under His Wings, because the phrase is one of my favorite word pictures in Scripture.

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." Psalm 91:4 (NIV)

"Keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me in the shadow of your wings..." Psalm 17:8

What a safe place to be! I love it there!

Janie Annie