Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wait for the Command

This is commencement week in many schools here in New York. My second grandson, Sam, is graduating from high school this year. Graduates will be looking for jobs and direction concerning college. God has promised to direct us if we will keep our eyes on Him.

But how do we do that?

When my husband was a boy, his father, an officer in the United States Air Force, was sent to Greece as an adviser to the Greek military. The entire family accompanied him on that tour of duty.

Greece was somewhat unsettled politically in the early fifties. For protection, the family obtained a German shepherd puppy to train as a guard dog. They named him Aristides. Since people who might want to harm the family might try to poison Aristides, the dog was trained to eat only at their command.

Bob's dad would place the canned dog food in Aristides' dish. The dog would sit with his eyes fixed on his owner. His lips would twitch with anticipation, but his eyes didn't waver from his master's as he waited, muscles tensed, for the command to eat. Because of his training, he didn't leap forward to gulp his food until Pop gave the word of release.

Psalm 123 reminds us that in the same way we should look to the Lord for direction and guidance. "We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master...for the slightest signal" (Psalm 123:2, NLT).

In our busy lives, how easy it is to forget to rely on God for guidance. We are often in such a hurry to solve all our problems, to get things done, and even to do things for God, that it is easy to neglect to wait for God's Word.

Graduates, keep your eyes on God. He will direct your paths. It may be with clear cut directions, or it may be with a quiet confidence that this is the way for you to go.

Even when graduations are long behind us, we still need to look to God for daily direction through prayer and the Word. If we rush into action first, using all our energy, we'll end up wondering why we become entangled in frustration.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Father's Mercy

My husband's father, a career officer in the United States Air Force, served in the European theater during World War II. An officer in an engineering unit, he was charged with burying the dead after D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge. Seeing the horrific casualties of war marked him for life.

Bob's father at beginning of WWII
My husband, Bob, was born while his father was overseas. When his father came home, his father treated him more like a recruit in boot camp than like a son. Only after he came to know the Lord in his later years, did he soften, and they were able to develop a father-son relationship.

One day, when Bob was boy, he lost his temper and in anger punched his bedroom wall. He was terrified when he saw the fist-sized hole. Not wanting his dad to know, he covered it up by taping a large map over the spot.

After some time, orders came that they were being transferred. It was time to pack up. Trembling inwardly, Bob removed the map from the wall. To his amazement, the hole had been patched!

To this day, Bob does not know how his father found out nor when he patched the hole. Why had he not been punished? No one ever mentioned that hole. Both of his parents are now with the Lord. He can only guess that maybe his father thought Bob had suffered enough over fear of discovery.

To me, this incident of his father's mercy illustrates God's mercy.

Bob & his father
Grace is receiving good things from God that we haven't earned and don't deserve, such as salvation. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8, NIV).

But mercy is when God withholds the punishment we do deserve. Because of sin, we all deserve punishment. And "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). The Prophet Jeremiah wrote that it is "through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed" (Lamentations 3:22, NKJV).

God's mercy, as well as His grace, is provided for us through the death of His Son on the Cross. The Apostle Paul often linked grace and mercy together in his writings because they are like two sides of the same coin. "He saved us, not because of the righteous things we have done, but because of his mercy" (Titus 3:5, NLT).

As we honor our fathers this Father's Day, let us also rejoice in the love, grace, and mercy of our Heavenly Father.

Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

How God Used My Book to Build a New Missionary's Faith

How God Used My Book, Frontiers of Faith, to Build a New Missionary's Faith

As an author, my greatest joy is to hear that a book I have written has encouraged a reader. Last month, I met a new missionary who was going to the exact mission field where my great aunt had ministered for forty years. While we talked about that, I felt I should give the lady a copy of my book, Frontiers of Faith, which tells the story of how my grandparents, Charles and Florence Personeus, went to Alaska as pioneer missionaries in 1917 entirely by faith--with no promise of support.

To order book, go to 
Last week, I received an e-mail from my new missionary friend, telling of how God performed a miracle for her too as she read my book. She gave me permission to share it:

"I was going to write you after I finished reading Frontiers of Faith, but I feel like now is an appropriate time to tell you how much your book is impacting me. I am in the middle of it right now.

"I've been on a trip to Headquarters this past week and just arrived yesterday. My vehicle began making an awful noise two days ago, and I still had hours left to drive. The noise was terribly bad. I prayed and asked people I knew to pray. I did not have time to get it checked out until I arrived here yesterday. I was trying to have the right attitude, but I just felt sick about it. My car is old, and I knew getting it fixed would cost quite a bit of money. But if I didn't get it taken care of, then I'd risk not making it home in time.

"I took it to an auto shop, and they told me it would cost $90 to just see what the problem was and also that it would be several hours before they could even look at it. I agreed, gathered a few belongings out of my car, and walked around the area. Thoughts began to fill my head about what the cost would be or if they would keep it overnight. I did not have the time or the money to spare.

"I found a coffee shop where I ended up spending a good amount of time reading your book. As I continued to read, my heart just melted. Here I am, worrying about my situation (especially because I am alone and feel like no one understands or cares), and I read about trial after trial that your grandparents faced--the incredible amount of faith that it took to follow Jesus in such conditions. One thing after another. What I was going through didn't even hold a candle, but I had that same feeling--that there is absolutely no one I can depend on but Jesus. I have no other option. Their story amazed me.

"I came back to the auto shop and waited for another 2 hours (6 hours total) and continued to read. The same workers came in and out, moved papers around and helped many customers. Even though I had been reading of such great faith, I'm sad to say that mine was still wavering. I was expecting the worst with every passing second. I just kept praying.

"Finally, it was close to closing time, and I was sitting there, alone. A worker walked in (who I had not seen before). He called me up and told me that he had fixed my problem. As I pulled out my credit card to pay, he told me I owed nothing. Nothing! Not a diagnostic fee. Nothing. He gave me the keys, and I was free to go. I thanked him as tears filled my eyes, but I held it in until I got to the car. Then I cried all the way to the hotel.

"Anyone would think this was a little thing. And no one else will truly understand what God did in that moment. But the best way I can explain it is that He showed me that I was wrong to think that I was stepping out alone (I often feel that way as I travel alone, speak alone etc.). He showed me that He will answer me. He showed me that I need Him like I need air. I did not deserve the kindness He showed me, but He gave it to me anyway. He showed me that He is a good, good Father no matter what the circumstance. He affirmed what I am doing.

"Sorry for writing such a long message. I thought you would appreciate that story, though. God is using your book to deepen my faith and at just the right time. Things are starting to get scary and real. Reading your true story has reminded me why I am here."

Yes, my friend, you are learning what my grandparents learned nearly one hundred years ago: "When he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them" (John 10:4). All we have to do is follow the Good Shepherd, who takes care of his own.

How has God encouraged your faith?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

No Water! Conclusion

My parents were in desperate need of help--no water, the reservoir dry, my father very sick with a high fever, and a house full of small children who could not be left alone--in a snowstorm. My mother's story in her own words continues:

In town, the Public Health nurse was enjoying her day off, relaxing with her husband in front of a bright fire in their fireplace, snug and warm in spite of the swirling snowstorm outside.

Suddenly, she felt uneasy. "Honey, I don't know what's the matter, but I feel I must go out to the Bethel Beach Children's Home."

"You don't mean right now, do you?" he asked.

"Yes! Right now!"

"But this is your day off. You give a good five days a week to running all over helping people. Isn't that enough?"

"I know," she said, getting up and heading to the closet for her coat, "but I feel I must go out to the Bethel Beach Home right away!"

"But it's snowing so hard, and it's a long way out there. You could get stuck in the snow. I can't let you go out there alone."

"Then come along with me," she said as she plunged a foot into her fur-lined snow boot.

"I hope this isn't some wild goose chase," he grumbled as they stepped out into the storm and trudged gingerly to their car.

* * * * *

I arose from my knees at my husband's bedside and again went to the phone for another futile attempt to call for help. As I hung the receiver in its two-pronged holder, I glanced out the window of the dining room door that opened onto the long enclosed front porch.

Someone stood in the outside doorway, shaking off snow before entering! Amazed, I opened the door.

"Hello!" the nurse greeted me. "For some reason, I felt I should come out to see you. Is everything all right?"

I finally found my voice. "Thank God!" I cried. "Bob is terribly sick, and I haven't been able to reach the doctor."

The nurse followed me to Bob's bedside. After a quick examination, she exclaimed, "I think he has pneumonia. We need to get him to the hospital immediately!"

"Oh, dear, but how?" I asked.

"My husband is up in our car. I'll go get him." At the door she paused. "Where's your shovel? We'll need to clear the driveway before we can get our car down here."

With the help of the nurse and her husband, Bob was finally tucked into the nurse's car and on his way to the hospital and eventual recovery.

The next day, the snow turned to rain. Our reservoir filled up, and water poured from our faucets again.

* * * * *

My parents soon learned that a neighbor had created the dam to supply water to a four-apartment complex he had built about two blocks away from us. The stream was on public land, but he refused to modify the dam.

For the next four years that my parents operated the Home, whenever the weather turned extremely cold, we had no water. I have fond memories of those Saturdays with no water when we drove to the home of generous friends, Kent and Donna Fagerstrom, for a potluck dinner so we could all take baths at their house.

Have you ever been prompted to do something that felt like a "wild goose chase"? Perhaps it was the Holy Spirit prompting you to answer someone's desperate prayer. What did you do? I'd love to read your stories.