Attitude Adjustment

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season.         II Timothy 4:2

So, here we are, in the middle of football season. Not that I have any interest in the sport. In fact, I have never been to a professional football game in my life.

Well, not awake, anyway.

Years ago, when a man I did not approve of in the least occupied the White House, I had a dream about sitting in the bleachers at a football game. I have no idea who was playing; it didn’t matter. The sun was shining, and the stadium was full, except for a couple of seats next to me.

The main part of the dream began when the President and First Lady of the United States came and sat right next to me. There was a stir in the crowd; obviously, people were excited.

Well, not me. No sir, this lady was not impressed with them. I wasn’t going to go all gaga over “sitting next to the President! OMG! ” I wasn’t going to squeal, stare, ask for autographs, or otherwise make a fool of myself. In fact, I decided the moment I saw them out of the corner of my eye that I was not even going to look at them. Nope, I was here to watch football, and I was going to give my full attention to the game. (Yeah, right.) If they looked my way, they’d see one person who wasn’t going to fawn all over them. I knew what they’d done, I knew what their policies were, I knew they were ungodly, evil people. And so I sat in my smug self-righteousness, refusing to acknowledge their presence.

Sometime during the first half I spotted a couple of friends seated in another section of the bleachers. They were pointing in my direction, wide-eyed with excitement. When our eyes met, they grinned at me with a couple of thumbs-up gestures, bouncing in their seats as though they were about to take off flying. I didn’t know if they were close enough to see me roll my eyes, but I made it clear to them that I was above that kind of groupie-ism and was not about to stoop to the level of the immoral people sitting next to me.

At half-time I got up, stepped over the First Couple, mumbling “excuse me” without making eye contact, and made my way to the concession stands. My friends were there to meet me, still wide-eyed and bouncing with excitement.

“I can’t believe it! You’re sitting next to the President and First Lady!” one of them squealed.

“Yeah. So?” I replied in my coolest tone. They grabbed my hands, as though they expected me to start jumping up and down with them. They didn’t seem to notice my aloofness.

“Have you witnessed to them yet?!” asked the other friend, fully expecting a great “praise report.”

Pow. Right in the gut. My arrogance immediately melted away, replaced with utter shame and remorse.

“Um … not yet,” I stammered. ” – But I will!

“Great! We’ll be praying for you!” they promised, and seeing everyone returning to their seats, we exchanged hugs, and I headed back to my mission field, a different and much more acceptable person than I had been moments before.

This time as I approached my row, the President got up and stood in the aisle so that I could take my seat more easily. I looked him in the eyes and smiled. “Thank you,” I said, and he said, “Hey, no problem.”

“By the way, I’m Ann,” I said, putting out my hand.

“I’m _______, and this is my wife, _____________,” he said with a hearty handshake and a gesture to his smiling wife.

“Yeah, I know,” I laughed. I was surprised to find that these were delightful people. And I was relieved that they didn’t seem to have any recollection of my inexcusable rudeness earlier. We made some small talk about what a beautiful day it was, and I was finding to my surprise that I genuinely liked these people! I was looking forward to seeing how the Lord was going to bring about the subject of the gospel, and getting to share with them what He had done for me. But to my disappointment, after a few minutes the two of them stood up, and the President said,

“We’re going to have to take off – lots to do! – but it was sure nice meeting you, Ann.”

But … but … but … my mind was protesting. No! They can’t be leaving! I haven’t told them about Jesus yet! But I just said, “What a shame, yes it was wonderful meeting you, too.”

I was about to ask the Lord why – why hadn’t He given me time to share His love? But I quickly realized that He had. I was the one who had blown it with my crumby attitude, wasting a whole half of the game showing my spiritual superiority, then realizing, I’m not superior to anybody. And I vowed I would never again pass up an opportunity to share Christ with someone – anyone – ever again, even if it meant just showing His love through kindness and respect.

Nowadays, with all the hatred coming and going in the world of politics, it’s east to get sucked into the controversy and into some unChristian  behavior. I have two approaches that I try to stick with:

1.) Acknowledge that I don’t even come close to knowing everything that’s going on, much less knowing people’s hearts.

2.) Remember that the Bible gives us one thing to do in regard to our leaders:

PRAY.

Prayer: Lord, I don’t deserve Your grace. Salvation isn’t something any of us deserve, yet we forget that sometimes. After you’ve changed our lives for the better, we can become so judgmental toward others whose lives are still far from You. Forgive us, Lord, and help us never to forget what You’ve done for us, never to hesitate to tell others where they can find the same life-changing hope. In Jesus’ name, amen.

So, What Do You Guys Do for Fun?

[The Lord] satisfies your desires with good things …                                                                                                                                                                                               Psalm 103:5

It had been one of those weeks when the Lord had blessed me with little, “random” surprises to delight me – “just because.” I was telling the adults about it at Sunday school that morning.

I was telling them about the morning I was getting together with Margot – the bone cancer patient that I had met the day I was sick – a “divine appointment” from recent days. [“Well, That Was Worth a Sinus Infection,” posted September 13.] This lady had become one of my biggest fans and an unofficial publicist of sorts. This would be the third time I was meeting her, and she wanted to buy yet more copies of my book BARRIERS (So, if prayers are so powerful, how come mine don’t get answered?) to give to friends and family. She introduced me to her cousin, cousin-in-law, and friend, and the five of us enjoyed getting acquainted over coffee in one of the Michigan town’s favorite hangouts.

Toward the end of the visit, one of the group wanted to take my picture. I said, “I was about to ask if I could take yours!” We decided to ask a lady nearby if she would take a picture of all of us, and she was happy to. We chatted with her for a bit. I learned that she was expecting twins, and she learned that I was an author. I gave her a copy of BARRIERS as a “thank you” for the picture.

Back at the table one of the relatives wanted to pay me for the book, and I accepted the offer, telling him he had just become a part of my ministry. He seemed pleased.

As I was getting in my car to leave, I noticed a car backing in just in front of mine. The license plate had the name of the college my daughter Kelly had attended, and I waited to see who would get out. If it was a young adult, I would ask if (s)he knew Kelly. But the person who got out was Sue, an old friend of mine whom I had hardly seen in nearly a year.

I called “hello,” and after greeting me she said she was on her way in to eat lunch alone and invited me to join her. For the next hour we “caught up” over lunch, discussed some spiritual happenings in our town – not all of them good – and before leaving, prayed together over the region. I sensed the power that comes when two believers are praying in agreement, and as I drove home, I smiled, certain that this had been another “divine appointment.”

Once home, I turned on my computer and streamed a show I used to listen to when we lived in the Detroit area, so I could listen as I worked in the kitchen. It is still “one of America’s most listened to Christian talk shows,” and my illustrator had just taught me how to stream it the day before. The topic was what Christians should do about Halloween yard decorations. Though I expected I had little or no chance of getting on the show, I dialed the number anyway and was shocked to find that I got right through!

Before I’d had time to get nervous thinking about the thousands, maybe millions, listening all over the country, I told about the unique yard display my friend and I had set up in her yard for fifteen consecutive Octobers. [“Satan’s Worst Nightmare, Preview #2: A Different Kind of Yard Display,” posted July 19.] I told how every tombstone in the yard had a Bible verse about resurrection, and how people would walk by, do a double-take, and come back to read the messages, unaware that on the other side of the window my friend was praying for them as she sipped her morning coffee. As I listened to the delayed recording of the conversation on my laptop, I prayed that perhaps someone would be inspired to use our idea to evangelize their own corner of the planet.

And I chuckled as I thought of the question I hear from non-believers: “What do Christians do for fun?”

I think it’s called “serendipity.”

So, on Sunday I was telling the people in the Sunday school class about this day of little divine surprises, and how the Lord seems to love to delight us with little moments of joy, “just because.”

Suddenly I stopped mid-sentence, gasped and pointed toward the picture window across the table.

About a dozen feet from the window the biggest deer I had ever seen – at any distance – was walking by. Jaws dropped, and the way the ten-point buck held his head up and glided by slowly and majestically, one could almost imagine he knew he was being watched by a bunch of awestruck humans. There was a moment of breathless silence. Finally, I said,

“I rest my case.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, Your love for us is evident everywhere, in the friendship of other believers, “chance” meetings, and the beauty of creation. It delights us, inspires us, warms our hearts, and at times takes our breath away. Thank You for making us a part of the world You created. May we never take for granted Your works, or Your involvement in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Mom’s Greatest Lesson

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. …  Her children arise and call her blessed.                                                                                                                                                                                                      Proverbs 31: 26, 28a

In recognition of my mother’s birthday, here is my tribute to her, taken from the eulogy I wrote in 2001.

As a little girl I loved doing things for my mother. Whether I gave her a drawing, a homemade gift, or a surprise breakfast, she would tell me I was so sweet and thoughtful and clever and artistic and creative and smart and wonderful in every way. And, being the trusting little child that I was, I believed it. (This was long before “self-esteem” was the buzz-word that it is today.)

Self-esteem was not so easy to come by in junior high school, where I dangled between coolness and dorkdom. I thought I’d found my ticket to permanent membership in the cool crowd, the day the coolest guy in eighth grade invited me to a concert the next night. I said I’d love to go; he said he’d call me. Being the trusting little eighth grader that I was, I believed it.

But the next day as the hours ticked by, I became more anxious, and my mother became angrier.

“Hasn’t that nasty little boy called you yet!?” (Hearing the coolest guy in eighth grade called a “nasty little boy” was an amazing thing!)

By 8:00 it was obvious that I’d been stood up. I shut myself in my room, wondering what in the world I would say to my friends after telling them all about the big date. (Talk about counting your chickens …)

My mother must have known what I was thinking. She came in and sat quietly on the bed for a few minutes. Finally, she said, “You can blame me if you want.”

“What?”

“If you want, you can tell your friends I wouldn’t let you go.”

I wasn’t about to do that to my mother, but that night I think I realized my best friend was right there beside me. And with a friend like that, who needs to be cool?

My love life got better, of course. I remember Marty’s telling my parents with fear and trembling that we wanted to get married. As Dad ran for the champagne, Mom hugged Marty and said tearfully, “Welcome to the family!”

Fast forward to Mom looking through the glass at her first grandchild. I could tell the glass was really bothering her. She kept exclaiming impatiently, “I can’t wait to get my hands on her!” She couldn’t start loving that baby soon enough.

I remember the day I learned Mom was having some serious surgery. I hopped a plane and came to St. Louis, wondering if this was my last chance to see my mother.

I was allowed to stay in her hospital room the night before. – We were “roomies!” We watched a corny Tom Cruise movie together and talked and giggled late into the night.

At 5:30 Mom was wheeled away for her surgery, and I lay awake, asking God to please take care of my mom.

Mom’s heart stopping during the surgery; she told me about it later:

The monitor was beeping, then it wasn’t. The room seemed to fill up with a fog, and voices seemed far away. The doctor yelled to her, someone pounded on her chest, and the monitor started beeping again. My prayer was answered, and Mom was given back to us for a little while.

A few years later Mom was diagnosed with cancer. She underwent radiation, again prayers went out, and again she was given back to us for a little while.

The following February Mom fell and hit her head. When I got to the hospital, the doctor took me to her room. He shook Mom and called to her, but he couldn’t wake her up. It was terrible not to be able to tell her I loved her.

I had brought my guitar, and my sister her “lap harp.” We had heard or read that a person in a coma can still hear, so we sang to her, even in the ICU:  “And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own … ” Then I saw it.

Mom’s lips were moving! She was singing along, and I wondered what kind of conversations she was having with Jesus. Again prayers went up and were answered; Mom woke up, and again she was given back to us for a little while. A few weeks later she left us.

But the most important memory I have of my mother is a conversation that impacted my life long before all this happened:

“Mommy, I know good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell, but how do you know you’re good enough?” (I was starting to have doubts about being wonderful in every way.)

Well. Mom wasted no time telling me there was bad news, and there was good news. The bad news: Nobody’s good enough, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) and “The wages of sin is death, but [the good news!] the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:23) Mom told me I don’t get to heaven by being “good enough,” I get to heaven by believing Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for my sins.

… kind of like her being willing to be the bad guy to help me save face with my friends.

He did this so that God could open His arms to me and say “Welcome to the family!”

He removed the barrier that separates me from my heavenly Father, Who can’t wait to get His hands on me – not to punish or manipulate me, but to love me.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. This is the greatest truth I have ever known, and I got it from my mother. My children got it from their mother. And because I believe it with all my heart, I know that I will see my mother again. And this time it won’t be for a little while, it’ll be forever.

(I miss you, Mom, but I’ll see you later.)

(Oh, and happy birthday.)

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for a believing mother and her legacy of grace. Make me faithful in passing the faith along to future generations. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

How To Drive a Writer Crazy

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also                                     to the interests of others.                                                                                                                                                                                   Philippians 2:4

Recently Marty and I finally saw “Yesterday,” the movie about a singer/songwriter who is one of the only three people left on the planet who remembers the Beatles. Once he realizes that not even Google has any recollection of the musical geniuses, he began to pass off their songs as his own.

In one scene, he is sitting at the piano, wanting to share “his new song,” “Let It Be,” with his parents. He starts to play it but is interrupted when they tell him to start again, they weren’t quite paying attention. Then there are other interruptions – a cell phone call, someone dropping by, conversations while he’s trying to sing, until finally he “loses it.” The others in the room look stunned. What is he so upset about?

While Marty may have found that scene amusing, and the songwriter a little neurotic, anyone who has written music, poetry, or stories can relate to the situation and will want to yell at the rude people along with the young man. But what we (writers) have to realize is that the distracted people have no clue why their undivided attention is so important to us at that moment.

Songwriters, poets, storytellers – anyone who puts their thoughts and feelings into words – do it because we are passionate about something. We have a message that we long to share with the world, and if the world (or at least our world) shows little or no interest, it wounds us. When those people are more interested in other things at the moment, as hard as we try not to take it personally, their inattention causes us to question our creation.

If you know a writer, and that writer one days tells you, “I wrote a new song [or poem or story] today,” the proper response is not to say “How nice” and change the subject to the weather or your latest project. I can’t explain why writers are such impatient people, but the moment we finish “giving birth,” we want to show our “baby” to someone, now.

If the writer asks, “Would you like to hear it? Or would, you like to read it?” the right response is not “Maybe later,” or “Not right now,” or “… How long is it?” Granted, you may be busy, but if the writer is someone you care about at all, try to take the time. Who knows? You may have the privilege of being the first to hear or read a masterpiece. (If the person is a random stranger on the street, feel free to say, “Sorry, I’ve got to be somewhere. Good luck.”)

I’ve had the experience of trying to share my latest, or even someone else’s that I’ve just learned and think is awesome, and heard the mumble of conversations that caused me to cut the performance short.

Then there was Karen.

Karen and I were acquaintances whose children played together. I’m not sure where our kids were that day, or why she was in my home, but I do remember having just finished writing what I considered (and still consider) one of my best songs. I had been inspired while on a plane, staring down at the city and realizing that God knew every one of the people who lived there. I had been gripped with an emotion that was unexpected – His deep longing for each of them to know His love. The last line had eluded me until that day.  It had come as I was reading Isaiah, and I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was aching to share the song with someone, and Karen showed up …

We were standing by the piano, and I asked if she’d like to hear my latest song, and (Bless her!) she said “Yes!” with enthusiasm. I sat down to play it, expecting at any moment to be interrupted by our children, or something she just thought of to tell me or ask me, or any number of other things. But she sat in an armchair and listened to the whole song without saying a word.

When the song was over, there was a brief silence. Then quietly Karen stood up, walked over, and hugged me.

“That’s beautiful,” she whispered. She had tears in her eyes, and I knew she had caught the meaning of the song and that she shared my passion for what it was saying.

So … would you like to read the lyrics? (If you have more important things to do, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know. )

 

I Wonder Who Will                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Staring out the window at the city far below,                                                                                 I see endless rows of buildings full of people I don’t know.                                             Though their malls and mills and mansions look like pebbles on the sand,                            My Father knows each one of them; He holds them in His hand.

But I wonder, which ones know Him and which ones never will?                                              Which homes ring with laugher, and which ones are cold and still?                                        And I wonder, who is hungry, and which ones have their fill?                                                  If we don’t share the Bread of Life with them, I wonder, then who will?              

The Lord knows me inside and out, every hair that’s on my head,                                           And He knows the things I’ve done and felt, every word I’ve ever said.                                    And He knows the days ordained for me that He wrote down long before,                           And it amazes me that in that way, He knows millions more!

But I wonder who is crying, and which ones need a friend                                                         And where they’ll spend eternity when their lives are at an end …                                           And I wonder, in a world of darkness, who will help them see?                                                  Lord ….                                                                                                                                                    Here am I …                                                                                                                                                         Send me.

(Ann Aschauer, copyright 1989)

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, who stepped down from heaven into our world, help us to care for others the way You care for us. Help us never to be so wrapped up in our own lives that we miss an opportunity to reach out to others, even when reaching out involves just a listening ear, in Your name. Amen

Healed, Not Healed

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”                                                                                                                                                                             II Corinthians 12:8

The Michigan church where we attend half the year is not a large one. When the pastor had left and the search was on for a new one and the drummer was scheduled to be the guest preacher and the worship leader was taking a well-deserved vacation with his family and the bass player had a camping trip planned for the same weekend, the worship team was shorthanded, to say the least.

Although I usually play a simple “layer” of chords on the keys for worship, I can play the guitar, too, although not as well as I used to. It’s painful to press down hard on the strings with arthritic fingers.  Still, when it was strongly hinted that I should lead worship that Sunday with my guitar, I agreed to do it. The perk: I got to pick the music.

I am one who can enjoy and appreciate practically every genre of music, though some more than others. Our worship leader is a young man who usually opts for contemporary style worship, which is fine with me. But the older people who attend that church would love to hear the classic old hymns every once in a while.  For this reason when I’m asked to sing an occasional offertory I frequently sing an “oldie,” or even put together a medley of old hymns. The older folks love it.

So, when I was given the reins for that Sunday’s worship, I toyed with the idea of doing classics like “How Great Thou Art,” “It Is Well With My Soul,” and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” especially since those songs don’t require drums.

The worship leader must have caught wind of my plan. He called me on the eve of his family trip to urge me to play contemporary worship songs, lest we have a visitor drop in and think we always sang hymns. I refrained from mentioning that some visitors might actually like hymns and obediently worked on some of the more “hip” songs. That was when the problems started.

After practicing one or two songs my fingers were in so much pain that I didn’t think I’d last a whole service. Meanwhile, it looked as if I would have very few people, if any, on the platform with me. The couple from Nigeria (The husband played piano, the wife sang.) were moving that weekend and would be doing well to get to church at all. The drummer suggested I call Rachel, a local teacher who attended the church and occasionally sang.

When I called her Wednesday, she said she’d love to help out – if she could get over a sore throat.

Well, Lord, it seems Rachel and I both need healing. If You want me to play the guitar, please heal my fingers, and if You want Rachel to sing, please heal her throat.

Saturday afternoon my fingers were still aching, and giving no sign of letting up. I didn’t know what to do.

unless

I saw the piano sitting invitingly in the corner of the room. With silent apologies to our absent worship leader, I sat down and played “It Is Well With My Soul.” The arpeggios flowed effortlessly and painlessly, as if it hadn’t been years since I’d played them. Suddenly I was at peace about playing the next day. I texted Rachel, along with the drummer, who had said he would sing with me, and told them I – actually, my fingers – had made an executive decision, and we were going for the hymns. As a compromise, I said I would play an updated version of “Amazing Grace” with a new chorus, “My Chains Are Gone” before Communion with the guitar, but that was all the guitar playing my hands could take.

Sunday morning Rachel showed up with a testimony: She had been in the car on her way to school Friday, praying, “Lord, I’ve done everything I can think of for my throat, and none of it has worked. I want to sing Sunday, but I need You to heal me.” By the time she’d arrived at school, her throat had been healed! I was thrilled for her, but had to confess that my fingers had not been healed, hence the list of songs that weren’t “cool.” (Frankly, we aren’t cool, have never been cool, and never will be cool, but I kept that thought to myself.) We began to practice the classic hymns. I was at the piano, and Rachel and the drummer at the other mics, as we sang in three-part harmony. I thought it sounded fine, even though the younger people might roll their eyes at it.

… or would they?

OH. MY. GOSH!” cried the thirteen-year-old in the sound booth. “You guys sound AWESOME!!!” We smiled, then went on to sing the remaining songs.

OHMYGOSHOHMYGOSH!!!” squealed our one-girl fan club. “I can’t BELIEVE how AWESOME you sound! You sound like ANGELS!!!” She was literally jumping up and down. I was astonished how much this teenager liked these old songs. I would have expected her to want to hear newer ones.

But then it occurred to me that to her these were new. It also encouraged me to think that maybe the oldsters might not be the only ones to enjoy the worship that morning.

And so, the worship went as planned, not by us, but by the One who perfectly orchestrated it. Interestingly, He did it by healing one of us but not the other. At least not yet. I fully expect that when I get my new body, the fingers will be working perfectly, and I’ll be able to play any music I want, on any instrument I want. Meanwhile, I’m willing to have God’s providence guide me to whatever He wants me to do today.

Prayer: Lord, you are God, and we aren’t. Help us to remember that and to give You full reign in our lives. And to praise You, whatever the outcome, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

‘Tis the Season …

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.   John 1:5

It’s been at least five years since my friends and I last performed our Halloween drama, but it still seems strange to be in mid-October and not to be consumed with rehearsals for “Satan’s Worst Nightmare.” (The title refers to the Resurrection of Jesus, not to us!) My book of the same name was to be released this past summer, but I’ve hit some snags. I shouldn’t be surprised. With all the resistance we encountered presenting Christ’s Resurrection on Halloween, why would I not expect even more push-back when writing a book that I’m hoping will inspire other people to do similar things where they are?
Still, nothing says I can’t share bits and pieces of the manuscript with my readers in the meantime, so here’s this week’s preview, from the chapter entitled, simply, “Weather”:

When the topic of weather is referred to, it is often with the connotation of its being the epitome of shallow and trivial conversation, but there are exceptions. These exceptions include when a hurricane is heading for your home, when a drought threatens to destroy your crops, and when you are planning an outdoor production in Michigan at the end of October with no “Plan B.”

It is a well-established fact that man does not control the weather conditions on any given day; the closest we can come is prayer – lots and lots of fervent, repeated, consistent prayer. In the case of the Halloween outreach, the prayers for the weather on October 31 usually began in August or earlier. They continued in growing numbers in October as we would gather before each rehearsal to come before God in unison.
In the fifteen years we had the outreach, we have never once been rained out.
This does not mean that performing outdoors was always comfortable, not by a long shot. It does mean that there was always an audience. Some years the fire pit on the sidewalk probably caused some spectators to linger a little longer than they otherwise would have. God knows, and He controls the elements.

Every year Kelly would pray for a “warm, balmy night” for the outreach, and I would always agree, thinking in the back of my mind, “It couldn’t hurt to ask…” One year we actually did have temperatures in the 60’s, and it was delightful. But overall, the weather was usually typical of southeastern Michigan at the end of October, it just never rained on us during our production.

There were plenty of times the skies and the weather man threatened rain all evening, and as each performance ended and the actors looked to me for instructions, I would tell them, “Hey, it’s not raining yet, let’s go for one more,” and we would start again, always squeezing in as many of the 20-minute performances as we could before the 10:00 closing.

Usually the night of the outreach was cold enough that the actors would run inside to warm up between performances. Dollar store gloves (black for the demons, white for the angels) were a staple, and some years I would give up trying to keep the kids from drinking hot cider in costume and just pray they wouldn’t spill it on their white robes before the evening was over.

Probably about half the outreaches we did had heavy clouds hovering over us until the very end of the evening, after which the rain would start. More than a few times I would be driving home Halloween night in a downpour, barely able to see the road in front of me. But it was always with a grateful heart – God had made the rain wait for us again.

In the Eye of the Storm

One year I drove to the Tuckers’ house in a downpour, praying, OK, Lord, this has never happened before, but You are in charge. Just let us know what You want us to do now…
But when I got to the Tuckers’ it wasn’t raining there. We did have people coming in from all directions, asking, “Are we still doing it? It’s raining like crazy in Marine City.”

“It’s pouring in Richmond.”

“It’s raining cats and dogs in Marysville.”

“Wow,” I thought out loud. “Wouldn’t it be cool if it rained everywhere except St. Clair?”

Annie,” said one of the moms, who lived in St, Clair, “it’s raining in parts of St. Clair, it’s just not raining here.” (Understand that St. Clair is not all that big.)

We gathered for a few minutes of intense prayer before going on with a whole evening of performances, while the skies above us held off – again.

This Is Cool, but …

I remember one year it was windy and bitter cold. During the first performance, as Satan stood raising his fist and gloating over the death of Jesus, the wind whipped his cape, while a maelstrom of giant snowflakes whirled around him. Some of us stood taking in the drama of it, our mouths agape. As a director, I was slightly torn.

OK, I thought, this looks awesome, but if it keeps up, these kids will all have pneumonia by the end of the evening…

Kelly wasn’t torn at all. From behind me I could hear her authoritative voice bellow, “In the Name of Jesus I command this snow to stop – NOW!

Seconds later, no more snow. I was mildly disappointed, but mostly relieved.

Each year it was a matter of prayer whether we would have the outreach again. For fifteen years the answer was “yes.”

The year we decided to forego the outreach there was a hurricane that affected practically the whole east half of the country, and Halloween night the weather was so unpleasant that I could count on one hand the number of trick-or-treaters that showed up at the Tucker household. I was sitting on their porch handing out candy and tracts, and a couple of them asked how come we weren’t having the show this year. I laughed and pointed to the weather they were crazy enough to be out in, and silently thanked the Lord that we had not worked for six weeks on a production that was clearly not to be that year.

Prayer: Lord, You have ordained seasons, and I thank You for the season when I had the privilege of retelling the story of Your Resurrection on what some would consider the darkest night of the year. Indeed, You always shine, even through the deepest darkness. Shine through me, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Not Seeing Eye To Eye

My friend Alan has a beautiful story to tell about those moments of offense, how we miss so much by holding onto them, and about coming to a moment of “divine perspective,” albeit a late one.

Thanks, Alan, for this story, and for allowing me to share it with my readers. Blessings.       – Annie

Fuel For The Race

Photo:  Thiago Matos via Pexels

“Oh, crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
Stilted conversations
I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got…So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future
It’s the bitterness that lasts.  So don’t yield to the fortunes
You sometimes see as fate
It may have a new perspective
On a different date…Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye.” – (1988)  The Living Years,  Recorded by:  Mike and the Mechanics.  Written by Mike Rutherford and B. A. Robertson

The hallway was busy between classes that day.  The platform shoes were loud on the polished hard floor like horses on a brick street.  Everyone was running to their next classroom before the final bell rang.  I, in my bell-bottoms…

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