Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Love You...

       I was talking, on the phone to my parents. We were ending our conversation when my mother suddenly said, "I love you, Anita."
     Dad quickly added, "Yes, we love you."
     I was silent for a moment...what did they say? "Oh, okay, I'll talk to you soon." We hung up and I just stood there. Did they say I love you? Yes, I think they did! It was the first time I'd ever heard them say that to me! 
     Oh, I knew they loved me, but they had never told me before! 

     Even as a child I knew Mother loved me. She had a way of showing me, I guess she thought she didn't need to tell me. I'm guessing that was the way she was raised.
     She worked so hard as a young wife and mother to provide clothing and food for her family, a husband who traveled and four young children.
     Money was so scarce. She sewed pretty dresses for Lorraine and me. We'd go to the seed store and pick out the feed sacks with the prettiest patterns. She always added lace around the sleeves and collars, making our dresses so special. She loved us.
     Sometimes she was allowed to go through the missionary box of used clothing, because Daddy was an evangelist and traveled most of the time. One time she found an adult coat that still had some good wear in it. She took it all apart and made, for me, the prettiest and warmest coat I'd ever had! I loved it and can still see it today! My mother loved me.
     She raised chickens and rabbits so we'd have meat to eat. 
     There was a children's evangelist who came to town and we loved going to hear him. He told us his life story. He had been left on a door step in a basket, when he was a tiny baby! He had no idea who his real parents were. One thing he told us, children, was to always give our parents a hug at night before we went to sleep. I took him seriously and tried to always give Mother a hug every night. She hugged me back. I knew she loved me.
     Now, I was in my 60's, they were in their 80's, and they both said, "Anita, I love you." I thought about it all day and all night. Could I say I love you back? I love them. Why shouldn't I say, "I love you."
     I told my children, "I love you," every day as they were growing up and now when we talk on the phone we always end our conversation with I love you. Why couldn't I tell my parents? 
     A few days later we were talking on the phone again. We loved talking and sharing with each other. It was time to hang up and Mother said, "I love you, Anita." Dad added, "I love you, too."
I swallowed hard and said, "I love you, too. Both of you." 
     After that it became the thing to say. "I love you." I'm so glad we can say it now, after all these years. I don't know what happened to make them realize they needed to say it, to tell me. 
     Dad is gone to heaven now. Mother and I talk on the phone about once a week. We always end our conversations with "I love you." 
     I love you!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jesus Loves Me

       I was at a Winning Women Retreat in London, Ontario, Canada. The speaker was excellent. the work shops so relevant, the music was beautiful. What a wonderful weekend away for me and for the other thousands of women who were there. 
     One of the singer's was an outstanding soloist. The last day as she began to sing her solo, Jesus Loves Me... a hush fell over the entire arena. This I know... for the Bible tells me so...
     Suddenly, from one of the balconies, sobs were heard. They became louder and louder. I, along with all the other women, turned to see who was causing this disturbance.
     Sitting alone, was a rather robust black woman sobbing uncontrollably. She, alone, identified with the black soloist, as the words penetrated to the very depths of her soul:  Jesus Loves Me, This I Know...For The Bible Tells Me So. Little Ones To Him Belong, They Are Weak, But He Is Strong...Yes, Jesus Loves Me...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Upon Being Available Part 2

     The neighborhood Bible study was going well. Robby was still nursing but the women didn't seem to mind and he was a good baby.
     One day the phone rang, the voice on the other end said, "You don't know me but I heard that you have a Bible study and I'd like to know if I could come..." 
     Not even knowing who she was I said, "Sure, we'd love to have you."
     She then told me a little about herself. "My name is Lu. I'm a grandmother and a retired school teacher. English was my subject in a middle school. I've attended church all my life but I don't know anything about Jesus! I recently had a cardiac arrest and I was afraid to die! May I, please, come and learn about Jesus?"
     Was I hearing correctly...was I dreaming? No, this was real.
     Lu came the next Tuesday morning. She was delightful and so eager to learn.  She came every week that year and came back again in the fall when we started up again for another school year.
     One day, as I was picking things up and getting ready for the women to start arriving, I had a strange feeling come over me. Only one person would come today...it would be alright. 
     Sure enough, one person came...Lu. We began as usual with a short prayer. She shared with me more about her personal life. She had been a smoker since her teen years and now had emphysema. She was on oxygen most of the time. She didn't know how to approach God. She feared Him. She wasn't sure what to believe. We read the 23rd Psalm and I gave her the book, God's Psychiatry by Charles Allen. Then we read the 3rd chapter of the Gospel of John, about how to receive eternal life. 
     The next week she came back with a new countenance about her. I asked her if she had prayed her own prayer. Her answer, with a big smile, was "Yes, I did!" 
     Several months went by, we continued meeting every Tuesday morning with the whole group. We all became very good friends.
     One morning the phone rang again. Lu was in the hospital. We had special prayer for her. 
     On Mother's Day of that year, Lu went to be with the Lord. She had another cardiac arrest and died of emphysema. Her husband and children said she died peacefully.
     There is no doubt she is with Jesus. What a privilege was mine to have known her. How I thanked God for the privilege of having a Bible study for women. 
     Oh, what I would have missed out on if I had not obeyed His promptings. Now, don't take me wrong. I believe she would have found the Lord by some other means...but, because I was obedient I had the privilege of being instrumental in her spiritual journey. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

On Being Available

     I was feeling so useless as a Child of God. Yes, I was wife to a great husband and mother to five fabulous kids. We were very active in our church. But I had never led anyone to Christ. Jerry and I had been to Haiti where I had felt needed and used. But here at home I was just me. 
     I began to pray about this feeling of uselessness. Neighborhood Bible studies were springing up all over. Maybe...no, I couldn't do that... But the thought kept coming up in my mind. Finally I prayed and asked God if that was what He wanted me to do. The answer seemed to be yes. 
     How would I go about starting one? Who would I invite? What if they all said no? I'm not a forward type person. Why am I even thinking about it? All these thoughts flooded my mind. 
     Finally I prayed and asked God to please make it clear to me, if a neighborhood Bible study was what He wanted of me. He seemed to say yes.
     Okay...but I didn't know most of my neighbors very well. What would they think of me? I didn't want to be considered a religious fanatic. 
     I finally said okay to the Lord. I would go, if He would go with me. Then I made an ultimatum... If even one said no...I would be all done. I can't take rejection.
     I chose a neighbor that I knew was Catholic...she would probably not want to go to a protestant Bible study... So then I could forget it.
     We were enjoying a cup of coffee when I finally got up the nerve to ask if she'd be interested in a neighborhood Bible study. Her answer was, "Oh, I've always wanted to study the Bible with friends of my age and learn what other folks believe. Yes, I'll come!"
     Well, her response gave me courage go on to the next neighbor. She also said yes! In two days I went to 10 of my neighbors and each one said yes! "Okay, Lord, I guess I'm committed now." 
     We met once a week for the entire school year! The different denominations were Episcopalian, Nazarene, Catholic, Baptist, Free Methodist, and Methodist! 
     My new prayer was for Him to be with us. We studied the Gospel of Mark with a study book. It was very rewarding for all of us. We always began with prayer and as we became closer to each other, some began giving prayer requests. 
     What a privilege that was and how close I was to not obeying. It pays to be obedient to the Lord's calling.
     There is more to this story but it'll have to wait for another day and another post. Stay tuned...!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Back to the Beginning Part 6 1942

       World War II was raging over in Europe and now Asia. Men and women were leaving to serve their country every day. 
       Glen was 31 when he went before the draft board. He was told that in these traumatic times ministers were needed at home because morale was low. His classification statis was changed. He was needed at home! 
       Glen continued to work on his ordination and did complete the preliminary course of study, so he could join the Iowa conference of the Free Methodist Church on probation. 
       Corina wasn't feeling well and soon discovered she was pregnant again. Their fourth baby was expected in October. The responsibilities of being a mother to three young children, with another one on the way, and a pastor's wife was not easy, but as a faithful wife and mother, she kept going... 
       Pastors in the Free Methodist denomination are appointed to circuits and Glen was told they might be moved to another small church in a different town! Another man would take over Fairview Free Methodist Church.
       This news added to the stress Corina was already feeling. Together they made the decision to request that they be allowed to remain at Fairview as assistant pastor under Pastor Walls. 
       Then news arrived that Pastor Walls had been elected as conference superintendent! What would this mean for them? A new pastor would be appointed to First Church and he would probably want a different assistant pastor...
       Neighbors and church folks were good to help out when Corina wasn't feeling well. But, when she was about six months along in her pregnancy, serious problems developed. 
       Glen came home from work one day to find her having convulsions. He called for an ambulance. Lorraine remembers him kneeling beside the bed, praying for God to touch Corina. 
       Neighbors had taken Anita home to care for her but Lorraine remembers the ambulance taking Mother away. To this day, whenever she hears an ambulance siren her mind goes back, all those years ago, to when the ambulance drove away with Mother.
       A memory of Richard's is the ambulance backing up over the curb, through the front yard, smashing his scooter, and stopping at the front door of the house! He watched as the men put Mother onto the stretcher while she was in the midst of another convulsion, and into the ambulance. This was a very scary time in the family and the church.
       Neighbors kept the children over night. Corina's mother came the next day to stay with the family.    
       Corina was diagnosed with Uremic Poisoning and was very near death. The baby, not yet born, wasn't expected to live either...
                           To be continued...


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Raccoon Family

       I was relaxing in the living room. No one was home. I glanced over to the fire place...there sat a raccoon staring at me! Oh, my goodness. What should I do? I didn't want it to get out, into my living room and the rest of my house! Thank goodness we had glass doors on the fireplace. Suddenly the raccoon turned and ran up the chimney! What a relief...
       The next day I was in the basement and heard noises. We had a wood burning stove down there. The flue went up the same chimney as the living room fireplace. Something or someone was in there!
       That sly raccoon! She simply ran up one flue and down the next! Yes, SHE. I could hear lots of tiny squeaks! She was having babies!
       Luckily, we didn't have a fire going in the wood stove!  She wasn't in the stove but was, apparently, in a crook of the stove pipe.
       Everyday I'd go downstairs and listen to those baby raccoons! Their squeaking got louder and louder, as, I'm sure they were growing bigger and bigger! We felt helpless.
       A few weeks went by. Jerry went on a missions trip to Paraguay, so only Rob and I were home. One night after I'd gone to bed I was awakened by noises and commotion. What was going on? Was someone breaking into my house? Or...could it be the raccoon and her babies? 
       I, slowly and quietly, got up and went into the bathroom to look out the window. There, by moon light, I could see on the roof of our screened-in porch, mama raccoon with a baby hanging from her mouth! She was finally moving her babies! She ran across the roof, down a trellis to the ground, deposited the baby and ran back up the trellis to the roof. Then she had to jump across a span to the living room roof, go down the chimney, and get another baby!
       I went downstairs to look out the family room window. I turned the light on and there were the darling little baby raccoons running all over! She would deposit one and run up the trellis to make her trek again, but...the playful babies started following her up the trellis. She'd turn around and go back down, they'd follow her. Then she start back up again...they 'd follow her up. She'd turn around and go back down, they'd follow down... I felt so badly for her! Where was their daddy? He needed to help out here! 
          Finally, she got five babies down. Somehow she got them to line up behind her and away they went down the driveway. I assume she had a new, roomy, home for them.
       All of a sudden I heard loud crying! It was coming from the basement! I ran down, thinking one of the babies got out of the nest in the chimney. I searched the whole basement. It was so loud. I couldn't find it and finally decided she must have missed one! The poor baby. What should I do? It was so pitiful.
       Then, just as suddenly, the crying stopped. I caught sight of mama with a baby hanging from her mouth. She had come back. 
       So...she must have known she couldn't keep control of her babies any longer and took them to their new home. She nursed them to sleep, and then sneaked back to get the last one!
       The next day Rob put a screen over the chimney so no one could go down it again. 
       Six babies in our stove pipe! Did I ever have a neat story to tell Jerry when he came home from Paraguay. He had lots of stories to tell me too...and lots of pictures. I couldn't take any that night because he had the camera with him in Paraguay! But I'll always have the picture in my mind of those baby raccoons running around and giving their mother problems!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Back to the Beginning Part 5 1941

     Glen and Corina moved the family into an old house that was the parsonage of the Fairview Free Methodist Church in Des Moines, Iowa. As pastor, it was rent free and that was a blessing. The church paid him no salary and his job as chef of a downtown hotel was just sufficient for the families needs.
     Glen felt the need to be an ordained minister to fulfill his duty as a pastor, even if it was such a small congregation. In fact, it was mainly a Sunday school followed by a morning service. Families drove to the big church on 22nd and Clark Streets for the evening service. Glen occasionally filled in for the pastor at the First Church and was becoming more confident in his preaching.
     He was told he could earn his ordination by taking correspondence classes. He dove right in and enjoyed studying again. In four years he could be ordained.
     Glen had graduated from high school in 1928 and had lofty plans for the future. Law School looked fine. He was a good student and loved debating. He enrolled at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Glen enjoyed Debate Club and was on his way to a bright future as a lawyer.
     No one, especially not a bright, energetic, young college student like Glen, expected the crash of 1929, which spread across the entire country. What a shock and disappointment. Glen had no money and neither did his parents. He, like so many others, had to drop out of college.
     Now he was studying to become an ordained minister in the Free Methodist Church.
     Richard and Lorraine were enrolled at Phillips Elementary School for their beginning years of education. One day they were running late and were afraid of the consequence's. They had about a mile to walk to school! The church had an outside toilet and they decided to hide in the toilet until time to go home. Somehow Daddy discovered them hiding. He didn't get upset very often but when he did...you didn't want to be the one he was upset with. Well, he was angry! He took both of them by the back of their shirts and marched them straight to school! Lorraine was fortunate and had a substitute teacher that day!
     Anita attended a preschool at the Salvation Army. One day a guest was invited to the preschool. A puppet sat the the man's lap and talked to all the children. Anita was fascinated and asked her mother if she could go up. Corina thought she meant she had to go to the restroom and said to be sure to come right back. (Now days we wouldn't dare let our children go to the restroom alone!) But Anita didn't go to the restroom...she walked up on stage and over to the man and his puppet! They took time to talk to her for a couple of minutes, to the delight of the audience, and then told her to go back down to her mother! No one was more surprised than Corina!
     This year, 1941, was a year of unexpected events in the lives of nearly everyone. December 7, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. That was such a shock and ushered the US into active duty. So many young men and women joined the armed services, including Corina's younger brother, Rich.
                      To be continued...