Friday, August 29, 2014

Lessons We Learned from Our Dog

Our son had been begging for a dog. We promised we'd get him one after we moved into a parsonage. Friends told us of a litter of cockapoo puppies that were ready to be adopted. We promptly fell in love with a six-week-old  puppy we named Taffy because she was the color of pulled molasses taffy.

Taffy quickly fit into our household. As she grew into adulthood, she turned a beautiful white shaded with apricot. For 16 years, she filled our home with love and joy. She knew how to love sincerely and showed it enthusiastically.

One writer put it this way: Thirteen Things I Learned from My Dog.

(1) When my loved ones come home, always run to greet them, no matter how late they are.
(2) Enjoy the outside.
(3) Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
(4) Take naps and stretch before rising.
(5) Run, romp, and have fun daily.
(6) On hot days sit, drink lots of water, and lie under shade trees.
(7) When you are happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
(8) When disciplined, bounce back and make friends again.
(9) Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
(10) Eat with gusto; stop when you've had enough.
(11) Be loyal.
(12) Never pretend to be something you're not.
(13) If what you want lies buried, dig until you get it.

Often, Taffy reminded us of the Holy Spirit, who is gentle and can be easily grieved by our unloving actions. Whenever we raised our voices, she would creep under the couch, reminding us that arguing also grieved the Holy Spirit.

What simple wisdom our dogs exhibit! If we would act more like our lovable dogs and less like prickly porcupines at home and work, how much happier our lives would be. And our loved ones would feel more secure in our love.

"The whole point of what we're urging," says The Message Bible, "is simply love--love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God."
Our dog taught us that instead of thinking about ourselves, we need to think about God and ministering to the needs of others, to love without self-interest.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Parsonage God Prepared

A big storm was brewing. We could hear thunder rolling. We needed to pick up our son from school, so we quickly toured the house and told the owner we would be in touch. They thought we weren't really interested. But we arranged to go back to see it again. We knew God had reserved that house just for us.

Our second year in Gloversville, we desperately needed a parsonage. We were very cramped in our two-bedroom apartment, which also had to serve as Bob's study, my writing office, and church office, so we began to look for a house to buy for the church. Many houses were for sale, but the mortgage interest rates were well over ten percent, and a minimum down payment of 33-40 percent was required.

As we made this need known to our prayer partners, money began to come in from unexpected sources. A letter came from a former classmate from the University of Alaska, whom we had not been in contact with since our graduation 12 years earlier. Now the vice-president of Alaska Airlines, he had come to know the Lord and was attending an Assemblies of God church in Seattle, Washington. He had read about our new church planting in The Pentecostal Evangel. Surprised to read that Bob was an Assemblies of God pastor, he sent us a large donation. My grandparents also gave us a large money gift toward the down payment.

After looking at many houses for a year or more, one afternoon our realtor showed us a house on Third Avenue that had recently come on the market. The owner had spent the previous two years totally remodeling the old Victorian house. It was just what we were looking for and more--a living room and a parlor with pocket doors, new appliances in the eat-in kitchen, a separate dining room, a bath and a half, a beautiful antique wood staircase with a stained glass window at the lower landing, four bedrooms upstairs which offered plenty of room for offices, a full basement, a full attic, and everything newly insulated. It even had a stairway from the kitchen to the back upstairs bedroom--the maid's quarters? The color scheme wasn't my favorite, but I thought I could work with it. A large carriage house out back served as a three-car garage.

With the help of the New York District officials, we were able to negotiate to purchase the house at very low monthly mortgage payments.

Sometimes when we think God is slow in meeting our needs, He is busy preparing just what we need. We had looked at many houses, but all of them would have required renovations or other work. Neither of us are gifted in carpentry or other skills needed to remodel, so God took care of it for us. The only thing we had to do was put up paneling in one bedroom to create an office for Bob.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Healed! Part 2

Emily Spencer was scheduled for surgery to remove the part of her colon that was leaking into her abdomen.
With peace in her heart, she entered the operating room the next morning. The doctors were looking at her X-rays, and she could see where the colon showed the barium leaking into her abdomen. She prepared herself to awaken to find she'd had a colostomy.

Her husband was prepared for a lengthy wait, so he was surprised to see the surgeon come into the waiting room so soon. "Mr. Spencer," he said, "another Surgeon was there ahead of me. I could see where the colon had been diseased, but it is completely healed. All I did was remove a cluster of adhesions and make a few minor repairs elsewhere, but her colon is healthy."

Emily wasn't out of surgery but a short time, though, when she began having an allergic reaction to the anesthesia. At one point, she lost all blood pressure and other vital signs. If she had been having the lengthier surgery as planned, she probably would have died.

Her husband called us. Immediately, I activated the ladies prayer chain. By 5 o'clock, Emily's condition had stabilized, although she was kept in intensive care for observation for a couple of days.

From then on, her recovery was rapid. In 4 weeks, she was back in church. She said, "I know the Lord spared my life because He has something more for me to do for Him."

This ministry of our local congregation to one of our members greatly strengthened the bonds of love and fellowship within our church. Since Emily was so well known in the community, and she boldly witnessed to everyone about her healing, our new church was also elevated in its standing in the eyes of the community.

Praise God that even in hard trials He is working and wants to use them to build His Church and our faith!

Saturday, August 9, 2014


In mid-October 1979, Emily Spencer, whose story I told in the previous three blogs, began having severe abdominal pain. The doctor put her in the hospital for tests. She had had diverticulosis for over 6 years and had had 6 inches of her colon removed 5 years previously.

The tests revealed a flare up of the condition and an abscess in one of the diverticula. The doctor put her on antibiotics to see if that would cure the abscess, but he warned that surgery would probably be necessary.

My husband was out of town when Emily went into the hospital, but I took two men from our church into her hospital room to anoint her with oil according to James  5:14-16. That was on Thursday. By Sunday, Emily felt so good she wanted to go home.

On Monday, when the doctor examined her, he was amazed. . He had said it was unlikely that the antibiotic treatment would be successful, but the abscess had already cleared up so quickly he called it miraculous.

The doctor told her that she still needed surgery since the X-rays showed that her bowel was leaking into her abdomen. He was afraid that peritonitis would set in, and that could be fatal. This diagnosis was confirmed by three doctors.

The doctor planned to remove the diseased portion of her colon. Due to the previous surgery, a temporary colostomy would probably be necessary.

Emily was released from the hospital and told to build up her strength for the surgery scheduled in 2 weeks. It had to be postponed for 2 more weeks due to some difficult circumstances at home.

All during this time, the people of Glove Cities Assembly of God continually prayed for Emily's healing. At first, she still had pain and couldn't seem to regain her strength. Then one Tuesday at Ladies Bible Study, everyone remarked on how much better she looked. That's when Emily realized that she was feeling better and had gained back the weight she had lost.

But the doctor still felt she needed surgery. The day before the surgery, Pastor Conti anointed her with oil and prayed for God's will to be done in the entire situation.

What would the doctors find? To be continued...

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Daughter Missing! Part 3

After consulting a psychic to try to find answers to their daughter's disappearance, the awful words of the psychic repeated over and over in Emily Spencer's mind. She couldn't sleep, and each waking hour was torture. After a year, she could take it no longer.

Emily determined to end it all by taking her own life. She planned exactly how she would do it, but she couldn't carry out her plans. Something wouldn't let her. "I know now it was the Lord," she told me.

One day she met a friend she hadn't seen in a long time. The friend seemed different somehow. In the course of the conversation, the friend asked, "Emily, how are you?"

Emily told her the truth, and her friend began to tell her about her new relationship with Jesus Christ. "And He can help you too, Emily," she concluded. Before they parted, her friend gave her a devotional book to read.

As Emily read that book, she turned her life and her problems over to Jesus. "My friend was right," she said. "Jesus took away the nightmares, the horror, the words of the psychic that repeated themselves over and over in my mind. Jesus saved my soul and gave me a sound mind. I could once again function as a wife and mother without tranquilizers."

Eight months later, Jim came to know the Lord too because of the change he saw in Emily's life. In time, Emily's brother and his wife received Jesus too. They all became faithful members and workers in the new church we pastored, Glove Cities Assembly of God. Because of the deep waters she has been through, Emily was able to minister to many people who were going through tragedies.

Emily told us that one day she was reading in Psalm 116: "I was brought low, and he helped me." She felt like those words were written just for her, and it brought her great comfort. "I can honestly say if it took this anguish to bring me to the Lord, it has been worth it all."

"Not knowing what happened, not knowing whether Pam is dead or alive, is the hardest part," Emily said. The Spencers believed she was probably dead, but they continued to pray for her. Emily even prayed that if foul play caused Pam's disappearance, the person or persons involved would come to know the Lord and confess the crime.

"When I feel overwhelmed by it all, I've learned to lean harder on Jesus. He has brought me this far. I know He will see me through, come what may."

The last time I saw Emily, she had just turned 80. She told me that every year on Pam's birthday, she wrote a poem to her and had accumulated quite a collection. Both Jim and Emily Spencer are with the Lord now. They never did learn what happened to Pam, but they entrusted their lives to the One who knows all things. And He carried them through.