Happy To Welcome You To The Hallelujah Chorus

I will exalt you my God, the King, I will praise your name forever and ever. Every day I will praise you and exalt your name forever and ever. Psalm 145:1-2

Friday, April 29, 2011

"Something Worth Sharing"

This quarter Charley Bazzell and I have begun team teaching a series of Wednesday night studies from 2 Corinthians. I am very grateful to Jerry Jones for introducing me to this study many years ago at Harding University. Until then I had not really paid much attention to it but that week of intensive studies really got my attention and have blessed me over and over and over again. Over the years since, 2 Corinthians has become one of those reads I return to consistently with a new sense of anticipation every time I go through it again.
Charley and I are teaming up to share much of the meat of Paul's letter with some folks who have characteristically pretty much overlooked it too. In fact I have found very few Christians who have ever actually read all of the book. Strange isn't it that we have invested so much time and effort into 1 Corinthians and largely ignored Paul's follow-up letter written only a few months later! Paul seemingly wrote it primarily to defend his apostleship against some caustic Jewish critics in the Corinthian church. But, he also includes MUCH that blesses all disciples of Jesus.
Paul's use of numerous metaphors in this letter is exactly the teaching methodology of Jesus who most often crafted his message around parables and metaphors. They are a dynamic way of making a spiritual truth more easily seen when laid out beside the everyday and cultural realities that were familiar to his audience.
Here is one such example that excites me every time I read it and study it again:

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?" 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 NIV

Last week as I was preparing my part in presenting this material to the class I kept thinking and praying about how to communicate the power of it in a way that would cause us to really GET IT! Finally, after hours of prayer and searching through the teaching of Jesus, I found it and it's just to good not to share with my readers.

"Here's another way to put it; You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you there on a hilltop, on a light stand - shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, their generous Father in heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16 MSG

WOW! That's it folks. God wants you and me to get out of our comfortable, safe, routine lifestyle and be light in the Satanic darkness that surrounds us. He wants us to shine the knowledge of his Son from every true follower of Jesus into every dark corner of your town and the entire world. He wants us to carry the sweet fragrance of his unique Son to our neighborhood, our workplace, our school, our family, everywhere we go. So get out there and "SHINE" - now, today!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT!"

None of us likes to be reprimanded because any form of criticism, at the very least, implies the need for correction. Just the sound of that word, correction, smacks of all kinds of things we tend to resist. Even as children we seem to have an innate resistance to anyone, parents and siblings too, who always seem to overlook our good but never miss an opportunity to emphasize our flaws.
Solomon wrote - "The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry, and a wise friend's timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger. Reliable friends who do what they say are like cool drinks in sweltering heat - refreshing." Proverbs 25:11-13 MSG
"Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man's rebuke to a listening ear." NIV
Communication is much more than one person talking and one listening. The Latin origin of our English word meant "a meeting of the minds". What lies beneath and around that "meeting" can derail the whole process. Without going into all the boring, technical details, just know that communication (meeting of minds) requires a dual commitment that flows both ways. Both have to work at it for the benefit of the other.
Solomon's words seem to imply that a wise person, even when he/she feels intimidated by a rebuke, understand they only learn and grow by heeding the wise advice of a friend. To assume I never need correction is a juvenile self image that we must outgrow - if we are to have a successful life. To heed a reprimand from a friend is Solomon's equivalent to receiving a costly gift that we wear proudly.
Change is nearly always the result of some form of conflict. As unpleasant as it can often be, conflict isn't always a bad thing IF there is a meeting of the minds. So, always carefully weigh a rebuke honestly before reacting to it impulsively.
One thing that has helped me with this challenge is to pray during an uncomfortable exchange, asking the Holy Spirit to help me HEAR both the words and intent of the speaker and give me the right words to speak. He blesses and blesses again. HALLELUJAH!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Day After Easter

So now the brightly colored eggs and chocolate bunnies have been eaten and the Easter ham leftovers stowed away in the fridge. In our part of the world many planned Easter activities had to be cancelled or moved indoors because of the weather. I guess for many that was a disappointment because their plans had to be altered or scrapped.
Looking ahead to tomorrow and beyond, what will Easter mean on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and next month and the month after that? Is it really about one Sunday in April every year when families get together to hide colored eggs and share time together and "go to church" to hear the annual Easter program?
Jesus arose from the grave for a truly GREAT reason that has nothing to do with eggs and ham and new clothes to wear and family gatherings. None of those things is bad, UNLESS, that is all we allow Easter to be, a hijacked pagan holiday that is celebrated and forgotten tomorrow.
What will I do tomorrow because Jesus arose from the grave? Will I really allow Jesus to live out through me what He had planned from the creation of the world? OR will Easter be a once-a-year event that, when its over, I put it all away until next April?
Satan hatched a plan to circumvent the plan of God by killing his Son in the most public and cruel way possible. He thought he had won but learned too late that God had already accomplished his plan. Attempting to thwart God's plan by killing his Son was like blowing on the cottony bloom of a dandelion. All Satan did was disperse the seeds of life that are carried on the wind throughout the world by the new Body of Jesus Christ - his faithful disciples.
The day after Jesus' resurrection he began the final 40 day training program to prepare his Apostles for the MISSION ordained by the Father from the creation of the world. What they put in motion on that Pentecost day in Jerusalem is still the only real vision and purpose for Jesus' body today, his church. We are the dandelion that Satan cannot contain all because of Jesus' resurrection. HALLELUJAH!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"DOES GOD REALLY CRY?"

A few days ago I saw that one of the cable channels was showing "The Passion of the Christ" and since I haven't seen it since its theater debut I decided to watch it again. I well remember the mood and atmosphere in that packed Dallas, Tx theater on a Saturday afternoon when the Rose and I went with Mike and Annette to see it.
After the movie was over no one moved, at all, for what seemed like ten or so minutes. We all just sat there in stunned awe of what we had just experienced. So, when I turned to the cable channel to see it again I found it was at the part where a bloody and beaten Jesus is stumbling toward Golgotha dragging the cross. I was so emotionally stricken all over again that I just couldn't watch it. So, I changed the channel.
Yahweh couldn't watch it either. He had to turn away too because upon that bloodied face and back he had placed all our transgressions, our sins, our obstinate refusal to hear his voice and trust his word.
Today much of the world is celebrating that act of God the Father, specifically what happened next, Jesus' Resurrection. The Holy Spirit also celebrates that event in the revelation he has given us from God, the Holy Scriptures. One in twenty five New Testament verses speaks in one way or another about Jesus' death and resurrection. That's a lot for God the Father to say to us about his unique Son.
I am awed into submission by these words from a still unknown inspired author -

"During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with LOUD cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him." Hebrews 5:7-9 NIV

These words seem to me to imply that Jesus wept more often than John 11:35 at the tomb of Lazarus. He knew why he was here and what was going to happen. He probably knew it as a young boy. How does one live 20 or so years with that hanging over his head every day and night. He probably didn't know exactly when it would occur but his commitment to the will of his Father made the 'when' unimportant. But, those moments when he was alone, with his Father, he often wept, bitterly, loudly.
Why would God cry? He wept over the city of Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37-39) when Jesus entered it for the last time and saw how little difference his teaching had made in the everyday life of its thousands who were totally unaware of their destiny. He wept at the tomb of his dear friend Lazarus when he saw how deeply that loss affected Mary and Martha, Lazarus' sisters. According to Mark 15:34, Jesus "cried out in a loud voice, My God, My God why have you forsaken me?" What a terrible feeling that must have been. I simply cannot fathom it - ANY OF IT!
Does God really cry? Most assuredly he does. He cries for the same thing today that he did in Jesus earthly ministry - the willful, self serving way that men IGNORE him and their ultimate destiny. In just the 27 books of the New Testament there are 264 billboards warning men about that eternal destiny - but we seem to drive by them without really seeing or caring because they are just part of the landscape that we overlook every day.
Do yourself and those you love a huge favor - "WAKE UP, O SLEEPER, RISE FROM THE DEAD AND CHRIST WILL SHINE ON YOU. Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is." Eph 5:14-17
God always knew there would be GOOD NEWS that would cancel the bad. So did Jesus! But God also knows the hearts of men & women, young and old, we listen to and follow the leading of Satan much more quickly and easily because Satan knows how to appeal to what WE want.

Friday, April 22, 2011

"I Just Lost It!"

Can you recall your latest "anger episode"? Can you recall what triggered it? What did that anger prompt you to do and say? As you look back over it after the fact can you think of some other way you might have handled yourself with a better result?
Anger is a legitimate human emotion. When we feel attacked or mistreated in some offensive way, our spirit naturally reacts defensively. And, sometimes anger can be a lifesaver. But, if we allow that defensive response to become habitual it can easily develop into a destructive lifestyle.
Solomon wrote - "Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city." Proverbs 16:32
"A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense." Proverbs 19:11
Hair-trigger temper is always a weakness of spirit that we tend to rationalize with such reasoning as "I GOT SO MAD I JUST LOST IT!", or "THAT'S JUST THE WAY I AM", or "SHE/HE KNOWS HOW TO PUSH MY BUTTONS" etc, etc, etc. You get the point. We've all been there and in the right circumstance can still go there.
Here is my favorite from Solomon's extensive commentary about anger - "Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self control." Proverbs 25:28 NIV
Uncontrolled anger leaves you defenseless because someone else is in control of what you think, say and do. Solomon's words have meant a lot to me because most of my adolescent and young adult life I was that "out of control" man he speaks of. I have never murdered or even physically assaulted anyone except my three kids who had to endure my temper fits when they pushed my buttons. Today I am often amazed that they love me and respect me as a man of true faith because I'm pretty sure some of my tirades bordered on child abuse. I admire all three of my kids because they are so much better at parenting than I was.
Anger isn't always a bad thing but when its out of control, even for a few seconds or minutes, it can destroy a relationship, an opportunity, even a human life. All of us can cultivate a better way to respond in those anger-inducing situations than with threats and violence. Self control is a learned skill that isn't complicated but it usually is a tedious process that requires someone close to you to hold you accountable for your outbursts.
I have also learned to really appreciate these words of the Holy Spirit because they have spoken often to my spirit - "Everyone (did he just say EVERYONE?!) should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." BUT he doesn't stop there - "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless." James 1:19-20,26 NIV
Solomon's insight is priceless and worth repeating - "Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self control." START WITH CONFESSION AND PRAYER and see what happens in your spirit and your relationships.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"A Son Never Forgets!"

Last weekend I watched "Men of Honor" for either the fourth or fifth time. I hadn't seen it in several years but have always been inspired by the performance of Cuba Gooding, Jr and Robert DiNero.

The movie is based on the life and Navy career of Carl Brashear, a young African American man who grew up in the cotton fields of Mississippi, who overcame impossible odds in the 40's & 50's to become the first black Navy diver. His unwavering commitment came from his father who taught him the value of honor and to never give up. He rose to the rank of Senior Petty Officer and Master Diver despite the racism that was the norm in his day.

When Carl left home to join the Navy, his father gave him an old homemade radio so he could listen to music and baseball. He cherished that radio and took with him to every duty assignment. On the wooden case, Carl's father had scratched these words "A Son Never Forgets - ASNF".

Solomon wrote - "The Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones." Proverbs 2:6-8 NIV

This son NEVER forgot these words of pure truth from my Father, and even though, like Carl, I haven't always performed in every way He has directed, His words have never been far from my thoughts. He has always been faithful to bring me back to the place where he could bless me. HALLELUJAH!

Monday, April 11, 2011

"Humility , Honor & Wisdom"

I really like the word "HONOR". It's such a strong, bold word that it inspires humility in the heart just by rolling off the tongue. HONOR!

Humans bestow what we call 'honor' on all kinds of people for a multitude of reasons, most of which are legitimate. We 'honor' our beloved warriors who protect our country from those who would destroy all that we believe in and stand for. To a very few of them we award the "Medal of Honor" because of singular valor. We 'honor' all kinds of people, young and old, men and women, for who they are and their stand-out acts of courage or selfless sacrifice.

Solomon said - "The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility." Proverbs 15:33 NKJV He also wrote - "Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty and before honor is humility." Proverbs 18:12 NKJV

I am challenged by how the Holy Spirit speaks of Honor, Humility and Wisdom in the same context. The connection and interaction between them is impossible to miss or misinterpret. They just go together in a way that is so obvious.

Honor is something I have the option to give and its a gift my heavenly wants to give to all of us who will just quit talking all the time and listen - TO HIM! He is the fountain of Wisdom, which produces Humility, which produces Honor. If we miss that, no matter how men may honor each other for one accomplishment or another, if we miss the Honor only God bestows, nothing we've done will have true value.

Honor God with the humility to sit still, be quiet and learn in His presence. Put what you learn into your life and watch what happens as you insert greater wisdom into your relationships and challenges. Solomon observed that men who were too "proud/haughty" to seek the wisdom of God are racing toward destruction. Don't go there - there is no way back and no do-overs if you drive your life over that cliff!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Chronicles of Amazing Mema #25

This will be the last of the Chronicles of Amazing Mema because I have pretty much exhausted her material. She mostly wrote about family trivia and repeated herself many times. She actually has a handwritten ancestry for both sides of her family that goes way back to the mid 18th century. I have no idea where she ever obtained all that information. But family has always been very important to her.

She also wrote down many, many songs that were popular during her lifetime. Most of them are love songs which I am certain she sang over and over. She still sings some of them to the residents and staff at the nursing home, although she may only remember a few words. She wrote a lot about politics and America and her church and her love of Bible study. But, she mostly wrote about family.

In this final installment I want to share with my readers something she wrote on October 22, 1998. This was near the end of her writing because she was beginning to experience the effects of Alzheimer's and she spent most of her time reading through her journals over and over, very little writing. She titled this "TEACHING CHILDREN".

" 1. TEACH VALUES OF DEVOTION.
2. ENCOURAGE INDEPENDENCE.
3. BE YOURSELF - They can always spot a phony.
4. PROVIDE FAMILY ACTIVITIES.

Raising kids in the 90's is really no different than in the 20' or 30's. Parents have a great responsibility to supply much love and firm convictions in strength of duty and honor to our children. Let them know they have your undivided attention. Show much happiness in your life and discipline toward them. Be very truthful in your living a wholesome, good life before them. We are living models in all ages so be true to yourself and to others. MEMA HAZEL"

I sincerely appreciate all the comments you guys have shared with the Rose and me. Mom would be truly proud to know that so many people, some she has never met, have so many kind things to say about her. She would react with true humility and try to deflect those comments. But, she is an AMAZING mother, grandmother, great grandmother, mother-in-law and friend to so many. Now, she resides at the same place she regularly visited many, many others whose independent lifestyle had come to an end.

Yes, this is a bittersweet time for me and all of Mema's family. She will turn 92 in August of this year and we are trusting God to help her get there and beyond. But, if not, we will simply rejoice that her journey here has ended and now she can sing a new song in a new everlasting home in company with the family she loved so much here on earth.

None of us knows all the particulars about life after death, but we know this for certain - God our Father will welcome us to His eternal home and Jesus will be there to give light and love to that forever family. That's enough! HALLELUJAH!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Chronicles of Amazing Mema #24

After my Dad left us in 1991 Mema obviously spent many days reading through his Bible and the lessons he taught in Bible classes. She had collected a full file folder of the handwritten notes he had used to teach his classes and they were special for her and still are to all of us. In 1995 she began to write a long retrospective of many Bible passages she had memorized and continued to learn from. I share here the second installment of what she titled - "Everlasting Touch".

"Harold taught 1 Corinthians 13 to a lot of people in classes and his Bible shows he studied hard. He just about wore the New Testament pages out and I glued it together. I bought this Bible for his birthday June 6, 1970. He has really enjoyed his Bible. He has underscored many lines and now I study them too. He marked every line in the book of Jude. God's divine word made him a beautiful, happy life here in south Marshall county Kentucky.
How beautiful it is to learn all the necessary ingredients for happy, wholesome living and learning from our master teacher Jesus Christ. His gospel is good news to a lost and dying world. My prayer is for all our family to keep in the way of righteousness and never lose our Everlasting Touch in the Lord.
Harold marked many passages in Psalms. These were a great part of his life. They give strength and courage to know as David did that God is always in control. Faith to a Christian is a great key to our lives. The Bible is our Everlasting Touch of God in our lives. We give thanks always as we trust and serve him."

When I was a young husband, father and preacher my Dad often called me on Sunday mornings just to encourage me. After asking about all the kids and the Rose, he would say something like "What are you preaching on today?" We would then briefly discuss it and he always would tell me "Sounds like a good one". We lived away from Kentucky for a lot of years in many far away cities so those phone calls were always a special opportunity to connect with my primary spiritual mentor.

I am now very grateful to Amazing Mema for holding him up to all of our family and sharing her memories with us in her journals. She idolized him in every way and always made sure he got the best piece of fried chicken. They were something to behold. HALLELUJAH!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Chronicles of Amazing Mema #23

Faith is the personal reality of things we cannot see or touch but have a sure hope of in the future. When a person carries this hope around in their heart the evidence is always unmistakable, clearly recognizable by words and actions.
Mema is, and has been all of my life, a person of unshakeable faith and hope. She was raised in that kind of faith but it's more than a family hand-me-down like an outgrown dress or still wearable pair of shoes.
On February 2, 1995 she wrote about that hope we all have in Jesus. Since this is quite long I will divide it into three parts. She titled it "EVERLASTING TOUCH".

"The Everlasting Touch is the good life and I am thankful to have lived it with a wonderful husband for fifty four and one half years. He was a devoted Christian man and loved his family above all on this earth. He was a scholarly student of God's word, the Holy Bible. We learned much from his guidance and he counseled many people over the seventy four years of his life.
When we study and put it into practice, it is the good life. The precepts and principles from God make a person happy and free. Can't improve on them. Learning the first chapter in Genesis gives us a great beginning to learn of God's creation. I have known Genesis`1:1 all my life. We memorized it together and now in my later years at 75+, it still remains important to me and sustains my life in the faith of Jesus Christ and his church.
This first verse in God's Holy Word takes me to John 3:16. God SO loved that he provided all mankind with everything we need for the "Good Life"! It takes a lot of years of living to know by experience of God's love for everyone. Jesus loved us even while we were yet sinners. OH! but the love of God is the greatest life to live on his earth and in heaven.
I have never read the Bible through in my lifetime but have learned to study it from cover to cover and NO ONE can ever master its contents. Every lesson or sermon I hear just amazes me that although I have studied the Bible all my life, I still learn something new from every passage I memorized long ago. They are part of my life - renewed over and over again. The Lord's Prayer is one I learned from early childhood days and it still blesses me every day of my life. Jesus taught his disciples to pray and to me it is EVERLASTING."

One thing I feel I have missed out on is never hearing my Mom pray. The theology our family embraced from several generations back did not allow women to pray out loud when men were present. I'm not sure my grandfather or my father believed it was such a huge sin for a woman to pray out loud in the presence of men, it just was never done that I am aware of. So, I've never heard my mother pray. Makes me kind of sad because I am absolutely certain she would have prayed as good or better than most men.

I am thankful to my heavenly Father that all of my children, their spouses and their children have heard their mother and grandmother PRAY OUT LOUD IN THEIR PRESENCE! OFTEN! I am thankful that both of our grown daughters pray often in our family gatherings. In fact when we were all together for Thanksgiving dinner last year I asked one of the young granddaughters to offer thanks for our food. She honored my request with a sweet honesty that touched every heart, including I'm sure, the heart of the One to whom that prayer was directed. HALLELUJAH!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Chronicles of Amazing Mema #22

Over the last four years that the Rose and I have lived with Mema we have enjoyed and been blessed through her singing. Until a year ago she woke up singing, sang through most meals and I often heard her singing late at night in her bed. In fact just this week the activity director at the nursing home told me she has been entertaining the staff and residents with her singing. She can only remember a few words of most songs but she still has that spirit and still loves to entertain.

On June 8, 2001 she wrote about her love of singing, especially hymns. She grew up in a singing family on all sides and has passed that on to her own family. Breaking out the hymnals and singing for an hour or two has always been a big part of our family gatherings. I recorded some of those times and am thankful to still be able to hear my Dad, Mom and even Grandma Lottye and Rosie's Dad, Papa Joe, singing in our basement when they all came to Detroit for a Thanksgiving visit.

Here is what Mom wrote, which she titled - "WHAT A DAY THAT WILL BE"

What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face, the one who saved me by his grace;
When he takes me by the hand and leads me to the promised land,
What a day, glorious day, that will be!

This song lives in my mind sometimes and inspires me to sing it. I was born into the Pace and Darnall family who were great singers, and when I became a Sutherland they were also good singers. Harold and I invited people to our house many times and we would sing together. What joyful times in our family singing many years. Our home has always been open to many family and friends eating and singing together which is a bond of love and appreciation for the good things life has to offer.
This year Harold has been gone 10 years and life goes on for me and all our wonderful family scattered her and there all over the country. But I'm never sad or have regrets. Life is too short to be unhappy about anything. LIVE and be HAPPY!
I haven't seen a doctor for over two years now and I hope my health holds out. Being 82 and no doctor's appointments is a MIRACLE. I eat every four hours and sleep eight hours every night which is the greatest blessing, REST AND FOOD!!
I have the GREATEST FAMILY of approximately 34 people in the WHOLE WORLD! Missing Harold more and more after 10 years alone in his house. But every memory is good. So much happiness prevails. NO BAD MEMORIES makes my life worth living."

Jesus made an everlasting promise to all who would believe and trust in him and the love of the Father - "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:40 NKJV HALLELUJAH!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Chronicles of Amazing Mema #21

Although Mom always insisted that she never felt lonely or depressed there were surely times during all those years she lived alone that she had to fight off the temptation to feel kind of sorry for her situation. She was never a brooding kind of person and always was able to see the bright side of virtually every situation. I see that side of her as she sat down to write the following on Christmas Eve morning (7:15 a.m.) 1998. She gave her entry the title - "SUNUP"

"Sitting in our home has its great moments - very peaceful and breathtaking beauty. For example, on this eve of December 25th, I see the very beautiful day breaking as the BIG SUN rises over the hill on our homeplace. When I was growing up here I didn't notice as closely as now - sitting in our living room watching God at work for us all. My prayer is continuously of THANKS and now I'm living on my knees every daybreak.
What blessings flow and I have the greatest place to see so much around me. My Dad and Mom always talked about a South Marshall community and it now is just what they predicted, and our lovely family are all in the middle of it. We have always been surrounded by love and may the Lord bless and keep us forever his. Let our light shine as the Everlasting Sunup!!"

Contentment is a gift from God, the result of a solid faith based in knowledge of God's word and long experience of his care and love. Every stage of life produces its own set of challenges and often the leftover baggage from each stage can pile on more and more discontent. BUT, a person of real faith will always get back to that place of peace because faith and fear or anger or depression cannot reside in the same heart for very long. At some point we have to confront our discontent with the simple question, "AM I A PERSON OF FAITH OR NOT?"

I am deeply grateful to God my Father that Amazing Mema remained a true person of faith through some difficult challenges and has lived her last years without any fear or anger or depression. Even now at almost 92, living every day surrounded by so much that can be deeply depressing, she always has a smile and a word of love and encouragement to all who come in contact with her. She is more amazing now than ever. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!