Our New Home

Our New Home
I love all the summer greenery around our home!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Let the Light Shine!


One of the many things that drew my wife and I to our home was the amount of light that poured in through the many windows in the front living section.  The very first time we walked into the home, we entered through the door in the garage that leads into the kitchen.  As soon as we stepped through the doorway I was amazed at how bright the kitchen, living and dining rooms were.  The sellers had the front door open so that the glass storm door was like a giant window in itself along with the two long windows that look out on the covered front porch and expansive lawn that lines both sides of the long driveway.

While I looked around the house I deduced that the owners must have had a thing for brown as all the window decorations, save one room and the carpet were brown!  And on top of that they had dark wood furniture in the living room and a black table in the dining room.  But you know, even with all the dark accoutrements, the inside of the house still retained a light an airy disposition!

Once we purchased the property we replaced the worn brown carpet in the bedrooms with pretty bluish-gray carpeting and then began to slowly replace all the brown curtains with those of Piper’s favorite color red!  Then to top it off, we purchased a new red leather love seat for the living room that looks good with the window coverings and our light furniture!

I am not too sure why, but this affection for light goes back to the beginning of our marriage for Piper and I.  While others who lived in our first apartment complex on the ground floor level as we did, usually kept their curtains drawn or barely open, we liked to keep our front rooms bright and cheery and therefore didn’t mind having the heavy curtains open!  The same is true when we rented my Grandmother’s home from my folks beginning in 1980.  My Grandmother had put up beautiful sheer curtains on all the windows, but we immediately removed them so that the light could come into the house unimpeded by the thin layer of cloth.

Maybe our desire for the physical light of the sun shining in our home is a reflection of our lifelong desire to have the spiritual light of the Son brightly shining in the home of our hearts.  The author of 2 Samuel 22:29 tells of a similar personal inclination declaring that “thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness.” (KJV) I really like the thought of the Lord lightening up any darkness of indecision, danger, sickness or even false accusations that I may face in my life.  How about you?

The Message Bible paints a descriptive picture of 2 Samuel 22:29 saying: “Suddenly, GOD, your light floods my path, GOD drives out the darkness.”  It is kind of like when the sun first peeks over our neighbor’s two tall Long Leaf Pines that stand guard over our property line in the morning.  It is fun to watch the changing color of the sun that is reflected through the branches of the trees until it finally pops over the top in the fullness of its strength, beauty and clear light. 

If you’re anything like me, then you’ve also experienced a similar transition of His light coming into the midst of troubling situations that you are involved in.  When the difficulties arise, we grab His Word and begin to seek His guidance.  Then as we stand on the Word that He reveals to our hearts, His light slowly begins to fill up the situation until its brightness, strength and warmth take over!

Then again… on many occasions… once I have taken the time to reach out to Him, He simply floods the need with His light and rapidly drives out the effects of the darkness that has temporarily over-shadowed our lives.

Isn’t God good!  I encourage you to take the time to make the clarity of His light to shine brightly in you, on you and through you this week!  Open up the curtains of your heart and let the SON shine in!  Have a super week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose LIGHT am I expecting to shine in on my life today?”

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Road-Tested!


In 1983 my wife and I purchased a brand new Pontiac station wagon as her 1979 3rd Generation Dodge Challenger was getting a little too small for our family’s growing needs.  It was a deep red, mid-sized Bonneville wagon… and of course, as per my wife’s pleasure, we eventually had it fitted with mags and wide, raised white lettered tires!  It was a sharp looking vehicle and except for a problem near the beginning our ownership, it gave us very good service for fifteen years when we purchased our new Suburban. 

During the first year though, we began to notice a problem.  To be honest, I really don’t remember all the details except that it had to do with the transmission and that it didn’t happen all the time, but was regular enough that it gave us great concern.  Since it was still under warranty, we brought the car in for service.  After a test drive and examination the mechanic reported that he could find nothing wrong with the vehicle.  Well, you guessed it… a few days after that we began to notice the problem again, so we brought it back to the dealership… again and again… with the same conclusion.

By this time our frustration was growing exponentially and we spoke directly to the dealership’s Service Manager.  We finally agreed to wait a few weeks until the regional service supervisor was scheduled to come to the Pontiac/Cadillac dealership. At that time we brought the car back in and went on another road test with him… and you know, within about five minutes into the drive he figured out what it was, had the service department replace the part and we never had the problem again!

I hadn’t thought about that experience for a long time until I read from 2 Samuel 22:31 in the Message Bible yesterday where it states, “What a God!  His road stretches straight and smooth.  Every God-direction is road-tested.  Everyone who runs toward him makes it.”  After reading this paraphrase of the verse, I thought about how our personal example shows what it is like to seek and then follow through with a plan or direction that Papa God gives you.  His ways are road-tested, but you have to travel His road with the right expert.  Not according to the way you or someone else may think is best.

We could have saved ourselves a lot of frustration and time if we had known about the regional service technician’s expertise in the first place!  Because the transmission’s problem tended to occur when the car was driving up a slight grade, they road-tested the car on the same stretch of country road (Petaluma Hill Road, for those of you who may know the area) with its twisting and turning and rolling hills every time.  That’s kind of like taking a leap of faith, hearing the Lord’s directions and then stepping out on your own to accomplish it… and having to do it over and over again until you get it right!

I can compare this to our journey over these last ten years.  We prayed and sought the Lord’s guidance, took His hand and held on tight while we ventured out on the path we believe He set before us.  And sure we've hit lots of twisting turns and rolling hills along the way… but we  have never allowed ourselves to be deterred from His process.  We discovered that it was like having the expert technician with us in the car the whole time!

2 Samuel 22:35 informs us of the results of this process saying, “He shows me how to fight; I can bend a bronze bow.” In other words, when you stay in touch with Him, on His path, you’ll end up getting stronger (instead of weaker) in the midst of the battle while fighting the good fight of faith and win!

When my wife and I got in the car with the regional service supervisor that day, our expectations were immediately boosted due to his confidence and knowledge of the internal workings of our new car.  At one point we glanced over at each other and nodded our heads in silent agreement thinking, “Finally… someone who knows what they’re talking about!”

I believe that this is how it is when you take God’s road-test with Him at the wheel of your life!  Along the way of your journey, in the midst of the winding twists and turns of the road, you’ll find yourself encouraged and strengthened in order to steadfastly face whatever is over the next hill in the road!

So… what am I saying?  It’s simple!  After seeking Him and getting His plan, don’t leave home without Him!  His directions are road-tested and He is the expert guide that will get you to your final destination in healthy, prosperous, peace and joy!

Have a great weekend.  With Piper’s various morning appointments this week, I’ve gotten off schedule with my blog posts, but we should be back to our normal Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule next week… unless the Lord has another side trip for us to travel on!  I encourage you to think about His expertise on the road-trip of your life, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting God’s expertise while on my road-trip today?”

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Perfect and Correct


Our backyard was teeming with life this morning!  When I was about to take Fiver out after helping Piper with her breakfast, I paused and glanced over our large yard.  There were little birds flying around, black birds pulling unknown delicacies out of the grass and three bunnies munching on the leafy weeds that spring up when the lawn gets a little high.  When we stepped out onto the deck, Fiver paused to look over the neighbor’s yard to our left and immediately made a dash down the stairs to the lawn… dragging me behind him!

At the same moment he took off, two squirrels literally flew down one of the pine trees next to the property line and quickly scampered off in the opposite direction.  Then off to my left I heard the familiar “Plop, Plop!” as two of the three little green frogs that call our pond home, leaped from the the sunny rocks into the water in response to our sudden appearance!

I couldn’t help but smile after we returned to the house and I stood once more at the screen door simply soaking in the views and sounds that encapsulated my eyes and ears.  Again and again I am reminded of the goodness of the Lord as I view our surroundings here in North Carolina.  He knows just what we need… when we need it!  I may have had a difficult time getting Piper ready for the day an hour before that moment at the window, but the trauma and concern that it produced suddenly disappeared in the midst of the peaceful beauty that is our home and property here in the northeast quarter of the Hector’s Creek Township within Harnett County.

But not all the critters that are out and about are as fun to be near as those that came into our yard this morning…  As I was talking to Piper’s nurse yesterday afternoon as she gave Piper her weekly checkup (all her vitals’ continue to look steady and strong…), she mentioned that she was a little anxious about her next appointment as the patient had mentioned to her that they had spotted a snake in their house… again!  I guess this has happened before!

She, like me, is not a fan of snakes!  I told her that Piper would probably enjoy seeing the critter… Piper was always braver than me when it came to slithering reptiles!  In trying to comfort her, I told her that the good news was that according to the description of the snake, it was most likely a rat snake which are common in the area.  I have heard that they are good to have around as they control the rat and mouse population… AND that they are harmless to humans!  I had actually seen a program on North Carolina woodlands where the Naturalist being interviewed was handling a rat snake while telling of their virtues!

But you know… my encouragement to her didn’t do me a bit of good last night as I tip-toed through the dark house on the way to the kitchen.  As soon as I stepped from the lighted bedroom into the darkened hall way, I immediately started thinking about black snakes in the house!  By the time I got to the kitchen though, I had begun to have a different view on things.  With each careful step I took, I started thinking about the protection scriptures that Piper and I claim over ourselves, our property and our family every day.  So, just as quick as the potentially fearful thoughts came upon me, the vision of God’s protection – that we actively claim – outshined any ridiculous lie of the enemy of our souls!

The same thing happened to me over the last weekend.  While I was preparing dinner one night, I glanced over to Piper and thought: “She just doesn’t look that good tonight!”  At that particular moment in time she was weak, pale and quite lethargic.  But as I considered the view before my eyes and began to pray for the Lord’s directions, I rapidly changed my perspective while the view of the truth of His Word began to fill my soul.  So, before I uttered any words that mimicked what she looked like, I began to speak out how the scriptures like Psalm 91:16, 103:3, 107:20, Matthew 8:17, I Peter 2:24 and 3 John 1:2 view my wife!

As I think about all this this morning, I am reminded of the many lighthouses that dot the North Carolina shoreline.  We have a large poster of the six famous lights that have protected ships for hundreds of years.  While there are hundreds of ship wrecks in the waters off our coast, there are thousands of others that were saved over the years by those beacons of light that shone through the night skies to guide them through, the dangerous shoals that line the entrance to our rivers, the storms at sea, the canon fire that rained down from the earthworks forts that doted the coastline during wars including the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War.  And then there are the confusing and ever-changing currents, obstructions, winds and other dangers that come with navigating around the barrier islands and through the Outer Banks areas that soon became known as “The graveyard of the Atlantic.”

The Psalmist speaks to my heart in Psalm 119:105 when he prays “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path,” (God’s Word ©) or as The Message paraphrase puts it, “By your words, I can see where I’m going; They throw a beam of light on my dark path.”

Not to sound like a broken record… but I don’t know how I could have made it through all the traumatic events of the last ten years with our battle for my wife’s health… or for what the future may hold for us… without a constant vision or view of the Word of God ever before my eyes.  2 Samuel 22:30-31 also tells of the goodness of the Lord and His Word declaring: “You help me defeat armies and capture cities.  Your way is perfect, Lord and your word is correct.  You are a shield for those who run to you for help.” (CEV)

I love the peace, comfort and strength that the words “perfect” and “correct” bring to me in the midst of trying times.  PERFECT and CORRECT… would you agree?  Is that your view when trouble arises?

Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose PERFECT and CORRECT ways am I expecting to fill my view today?”

Monday, July 24, 2017

Boomerang!


Do you ever stop and think about the consequences of the words you speak?  After everything that my wife and I have been told over the last ten years… I sure do!  Now I tend to listen very carefully to what I hear being spoken around me, by our leaders being covered in the daily news, as well as by those in our circle of friends and family.

I have to be careful when I hear folks from a certain political party speaking so that I don’t get angry or frustrated!  It continues to amaze me how the leaders - that we have elected into office - can completely disregard the will of the people they serve and tell mis-truths by continually coming up with false accusations and obstructing the policies that our president is attempting to put into motion….and then have the nerve to say – on camera – that they know what the American people want! 

I guess that I am pretty sensitive to all of this because I have had similar things happen to me and my wife.  But you know... lately I have begun to see things changing just a bit!  Deep down I have always believed that all the wrong words and actions would eventually come back to haunt those spewing such mis-truths! 

Then as I was studying the Bible along these lines the other day, I suddenly realized why I had been thinking that way.  While writing down some notes from Philippians 3:12-14, I suddenly felt the urge to turn to Matthew 7:1-2.  After quickly clicking my Bible study program to the epistle of Matthew, I found the spot where Jesus told us to “Judge not, that you may not be judged.  For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (MKJV/ESV) 

Those words got me to thinking about some of the recent events with main stream media reporters being fired for making up false news stories, and some Democratic politicians voicing their disappointment with the direction that their party has taken.  Then it hit me like a brick – OUCH!  In looking back over the last few years, I suddenly realized that most of the things that I had been accused of in the care of my wife had actually been acted out by or happened to the individuals who voiced the false narratives!  YIKES!

I have to admit that the reality of those thoughts were shocking to me… This may sound funny or simple minded but… God means what He says!  That truth forced me to my knees as I began to pray for those involved in our lives as well as for the guilty parties in our political system today.  What really came upon me in a strong manner was the understanding of what those folks must have felt like in the midst of the trials and tribulations that they were going through.

And I also realized that I didn’t want any part of negative words and thoughts that I might be tempted to say or think come back on me!  Once again I like how the Message Bible puts it into everyday lingo declaring: “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures (or what you may think are their failures), or criticize their faults – unless, of course you want the same treatment.  That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging! (Matthew 7:1-2 The Message)

I definitely don’t want negative criticisms boomeranging back onto me… and I would bet that you don’t either!  Once again I go back to the truth of just keeping one’s mouth shut… as someone wise once said: “If you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say anything at all!” (I know my wife said that a lot – and she’s always been pretty wise!)  From now on I am going to put forth more effort to live the truth “That it is always better to bless than to curse!”

So what do you think?  Have a great last full week of July, and as you do keep asking yourself… “What kind of words and actions am I expecting to boomerang back to me today?”

Friday, July 21, 2017

Run to Win


As I sat in the chair at Great Clips in Morrisville, NC yesterday afternoon, the gal cutting my hair asked what was going on with my wife who was sitting in the waiting area with our older daughter.  When I shared the situation, she immediately had a story of her best friend’s Mom who is also dealing with Alzheimer’s.  We discussed many of the common effects of the disease and I mentioned that Piper never really got to the place where she didn’t recognize people. 

As things progressed became unable to verbally respond to their presence.  But yet, I could still see the recognition in her eyes, facial expressions and overall attitude.  Even today I can notice a difference in her when she is around folks that she knows.  There may not be any outward response or recognition signs anymore, but she is always more alert after being with familiar faces and voices… like our daughter’s here in North Carolina!

The hairdresser told me about how her friend had to finally make the tough decision to place her Mom in a home as it was getting too difficult for her to take care of her by herself and work an outside job while other siblings had refused to help with their Mom’s daily care.  It was a decision that was tough on her and on her Mom.  I found that I could only shake my head and hold back the tears as I thought about that situation.  I mentioned to her that I had made up my mind in the early stages of our battle, that I would NEVER do that to my wife!

My decision was made a bit easier for me as Piper’s wonderful health care team in San Francisco wholly supported and encouraged us in that goal.  Here in North Carolina we are receiving the same backup and encouragement.  From what I’ve heard from some of the hospice team that we work with, Piper and I are kind of a “poster child” case for them!  I guess our name comes up a lot in their staff meetings!

Now, you must understand, that I do not say any of this to pat myself on the back, but instead to give Papa God and His Word all the glory!  I read something in a Sunday School monthly lesson book that one of the hospice Chaplin’s gave me to read where it talked about Caleb in the Old Testament.  It described the key that kept him going through all the years of his journey from the brutal captivity in Egypt, through the extended years in the wilderness to his final entrance into the Promised Land.  The key to his success, while the majority of his generation died in the desert, was that he was empowered through his faith in the promises of God.

I can say without reservation, that this is also the main reason that I have been able to keep going through all the difficulties we have faced in this journey.  As I started my morning Bible Study today by re-reading Philippians 3:12, one phrase in particular captured my imagination and kind of “said it all!”  Paul told his readers in this section of scripture that “It’s not that I’ve already reached the goal or have already completed the course.  But I RUN TO WIN that which Jesus Christ has already won for me.” (God’s Word ©)

The picture of running the race of life to WIN simply ran off with my thoughts!  “That’s it!” I stated.  At this point in Piper’s and my adventure in faith, I don’t care what we still have to face because we are RUNNING THIS RACE TO WIN!  Paul didn’t say that he just wanted to keep up with everyone else, to just stay with the pack, to just be able to finish the race… But he planned to run the race with diligence, fortitude and the attitude to WIN the assignment that God had called him to accomplish!

Yeah, I’ve had times when I wanted to drop everything and drive out to the coast for a month or two, but I’ve always come back to the realization that I have a job to do, and by the Word and the grace of God I am going to continue to attempt to do my best on the completion of this responsibility that God must have seen me able to accomplish!  When the job gets REALLY difficult… like last night when Piper was so weak after our all afternoon jaunt in the city (Morrisville and Cary!) that I had all I could do to physically get her changed and ready for dinner… I’ve learned to encourage myself with God’s Word and Paul’s determination in that I am running this race to WIN!  I also remember the often time repeated words and motto of our Pastor and President of our Bible College who declared “I will not be defeated and I will not quit!”

I think that as Christians, we are all called to that same standard!  In whatever it is that you are called to do, you should enter into and continue to live in the standard operating procedure that we are running our race to WIN!  I’ve often heard how motivation is many times the key to professional sports team’s victories when things look lost.  How many times in history have you seen teams that were vastly out-gunned by the talent of their rival, win because of the words of encouragement given by the coach or another player during a time out on the sidelines?

Well, it is those same words of encouragement from coach Holy Spirit in God’s Word that continue to encourage and push me through the hard times to the victory needed at any particular moment!  And as Christians, I believe that we have to get that winner’s attitude the moment we are faced with any difficult situation.  That’s why I often times find myself, just like Caleb, being empowered by my faith in the promises of God that Piper and I have been literally saturating ourselves in for the last ten years!

What about you?  Are you steadfastly running the race that you are called to run TO WIN?  You know, as far as I am concerned… second or third place is just NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

Would you agree with that?

Have a great weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting TO WIN the race I am running today?”

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Wonder Dog!


So… let me tell you a story about Fiver, The Wonder Dog!  After suddenly losing our former four legged companion last year, I had prayed that the new dog that we would eventually bring home would take a quick liking to Piper and not be afraid of her chair or any of the other circumstances or activities that we entail as part of the daily battle we fight for the restoration of her health.

After trying to adopt three older dogs from the local Aussie adoption agency with no success, I spotted our Fiver, a young male, blue merle Australian Shepherd mix (with Great Pyrenees)… and it was love at first sight!  He was a little shy at first but seemed to be comfortable in our home and from day one, has followed me around like my shadow.  But he also formed an almost immediate connection with Piper.  Wherever I push her chair around in the house, our big white with blue merle face and hind quarters pooch has to be at her side or directly in front of the chair… leading the way!

Every morning he is to be found at my side licking Piper’s face or hands as I get her up and ready for the day.  When I mow the lawns, he is usually right next to or under her chair on the back deck or front porch.  Well, the other night he took his self-imposed responsibilities a step further…

After I got Piper all tucked in for the night, I jumped in the shower for a quick rinse after having been outside mowing the front lawn for a good part of the afternoon.  A few moments later as I was drying my hair, the bathroom door, which I had left slightly ajar so that I could listen for Piper if needed, suddenly swung open and Fiver stood in the doorway staring at me.

This was a little unusual as the dog normally lays down in bed right after I get Piper all snuggled up under her covers.  So, I looked at the pooch and spoke to him saying: “What’s going on boy?” and knelt down to pet him.  It was then that I looked up across the bedroom and noticed that Piper had pulled the covers over her head and was flailing about under the sheets.  In an instant I knew that she was having some difficulty and with Fiver at my side, hustled over to her bed, pulled the covers back and noticed that her face and nose were buried in the pillow soaked with a nasal discharge.  Then as I gently lifted her head she began to sigh repeatedly. 

At times like that I normally act before I take any time to think about the situation!  So as I gently caressed her head and spoke softly to her, I quickly changed her soft fluffy pillow with a firmer one off my bed, and tenderly placed her head on it.  Then I washed her face and switched over to comforting prayer… with the dog licking at her hands the whole time!

You know… I’m not sure what would have happened if Fiver hadn’t alerted me!  I had the door to the master bath room ajar so that I could hear Piper… but she didn’t make any noise until I moved her head!  I believe that Piper was probably a bit shaken after the incident and thus the sighing utterances that she continued to make for a while following my response.

This may sound a little strange to some people… but I believe that the situation that night unfolded as it did due to the atmosphere of “the mind of Christ” in our home.  After teaching the church in Corinth the differences between individual people’s ability to be spiritually minded or not, Paul declared: “"Who has known the mind of the Lord so that he can teach him?" However, we have the mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians 2:16 God’s Word ©)  In this verse he is speaking to Christians, and I think that you could add the word “should” before the words, “have the mind of Christ.”

As I have stated in another recent post, I have come to understand that having “the mind of Christ” is all about the ability to seek and keep one’s focus on God and the truth of His Word… no matter what other contrary evidence is being presented to you at any given time.  Paul told his friends in Philippi that he was “reaching out for Christ” as “I’ve got my eye on the goal where God is beckoning me onward – to Jesus.”  Then he concluded his thought by encouraging them declaring “So let’s keep focused on that goal.” (Philippians 3:12, 13, 15 The Message)

When the dog nosed open the bathroom door the other night, I immediately sensed that something was up… but I didn’t panic.  When I saw what was going on with Piper I just moved!  When things like this happen, I’ve learned to immediately turn inside, to quiet myself down and give an ear to what my spirit man is trying to tell me.  While I was working with my wife in the midst of the moment, I was also asking God where this was going, should I call the hospice nurse and what else should I do.  After a few minutes I had peace and “knew” she was okay and that everything was cool!

Now that doesn’t mean that I didn’t get up numerous times throughout the night to check on her to assure her well-being, but I didn’t do it in fear but in faith that what I had heard the Lord say to me through my inner man was correct!

So what did I learn through this?  Well, first of all, that the Lord definitely knew what He was doing when I was tempted to complain because I was disappointed that we were not able to adopt the first three dogs we tried to get!  Because He knew that the big, 65 lb goof-ball Fiver was the right animal for us!  And secondly, that keeping our focus on the goal of Jesus and His Word worksand is the right view to keep one’s eyes on!

What do you think?  When you open up the windows in your home… your spiritual home, what is your view?  What if there is a lot of smoke, your spouse is smothering, the bank account is empty, the kids are sick, or any other such contrary evidence to the truth of God’s Word?

Just saying….  Now’s the time to get the right view… before the smoke and mirrors of life attempt to get you off course!

Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What VIEW am I expecting to have today?”

Monday, July 17, 2017

NEW to DO!


My wife and I have been watching a series on American history that I had recorded on the 4th of July.  The series was produced for the History Channel a few years ago and covered the growth of our country from the initial landing of the first European settlers through the current century.  I am kind of a history buff and thoroughly enjoyed the program while learning quite a few facts that I didn’t know!

One thing that I noticed early on was that it had a slightly liberal leaning interpretation to its story.  In between the reenactments of various events in history, they had different well-known personalities talk about the general feelings of the time, the political backdrop, or some scientific information to explain the breakthrough technology that was coming out that initiated changes.  These people tended to be Hollywood stars, Democratic leaders or well-known newscasters from the mainline media.

Another thing that became obvious to me was the history that they chose to dwell on, and maybe more importantly, the history they either glanced over or totally left out!  Some of their spins on particular times in our history like the religious impact on the founding of our country and the Civil War and the years following, tended to irritate me a bit, but overall, I enjoyed the program and like I said previously, learned a few tid-bits that I hadn’t heard of before!

One thing which definitely stood out to me though, was how they kept pointing out the pioneering motif of Americans and how we have always been a country that strived to discover new adventures, new unchartered land, new technologies and live a better life.  Of how tough times, tragedies and other afflictions only tended to draw us together in great resolve and bring out the best in us!

While watching the program one night over the weekend, I got up to get something out of the kitchen just as the narrator was once again talking about the pioneering spirit of Americans and I couldn’t help but almost jump for joy when the Lord said quietly to me: “That’s you & Piper!”

And then… it all began to come clearly into my mind.  I saw how I had been dwelling a lot on our past, of how things developed for us with each other, our family and in our ministry involvement over the past forty some years… and how those thoughts gave me nothing but a confused and foggy view of our future.  It is kind of like the experience every time I step outside after a rain storm on a warm summer afternoon… my glasses tend to fog up as soon as they are introduced to the high outside humidity and I can’t hardly see a thing until everything adjusts to its new surroundings beyond the air conditioned house!

Well, it was the Lord telling me that it was time to adjust to our new surroundings!  I remember hearing that small still voice deep inside me saying that “You can’t see your future through the view of your past” and that He had a new future, with a new path for us to follow.  Then of course, He snuck in the truth that instantly stirred me up saying: “Remember you two are PIONEERS, and I have new trails for you to blaze, in a new land, with a fresh anointing to empower you.”

After sharing all this with Piper at breakfast the next day, I slipped into the kitchen to top up my coffee cup and I heard the phrase: “I have NEW for you to DO!”  Well, let me tell you… I have NO idea what it is… but I sure am excited about it!  I seem to sense that He wants me to be praying about it with a clean slate, without the memories of how He/we did it in the past.  This is something new, in a new home, in a new state, with new people who have many different backgrounds, experiences and values than our past involvements on the West Coast.

So it seems a little weird to try to come into prayer without any per-conceived ideas, and with a totally clear mind and conscience that is only motivated by strong expectations of what trails He has for us to follow!  It’s also kind of exciting… wouldn’t you say?  Have you ever been there when the Lord speaks to you and says that He has something totally new for you?  What are your first thoughts?  Do you relish the thoughts of the unknown adventures ahead… or are you like the ones many years ago that never built up the gumption or faith to get into the boat in order to cross the ocean to the new land of unknown adventures?

Does God have NEW for you to DO?  Just saying!

Have a great week ahead, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What would I expect my reaction to be if the Lord spoke to me and declared that He had NEW for ME to Do for Him?”




Friday, July 14, 2017

Whose Race am I Running?


I began to notice the other day as I was listening to the shuffle of different “radio stations” that I had selected on my Pandora Plus account, that there are a whole bunch of different styles of Christian music out there… and many, many people who enjoy them!  What really caught my attention was the amount of clapping that preceded the various artists on the recordings that were made before a live audience.  Let me explain…

I have always enjoyed a wide variety of musical styles.  I think part of that comes from my Mom who loved to sing (she was in a popular quartet in high school), play the piano and dance with my Dad!  My Dad was kind of a quiet reserved fellow, but get him on the dance floor with my Mom, dancing to the music of the Big Bands from the 1940’s, and WOW!  They made a great duo!  -- A side note – My Mom would tell the story of their first dance together at a USO dance in New York during the war.  She stated how my Dad was really quiet and a bit detached which caused her to become a little irritated and thinking how “Stuck up this guy was!”  Later on, as the romance grew, he confided in her that he was actually extremely nervous and was counting his steps throughout the dance in order to not make a mistake! –

As I’ve mentioned in past blogs, my Mom had music playing all day long in our home.  Anything from the modern tunes that her favorite local radio station (KSRO – 1350 AM) was playing, to Big Band (she had a nice collection of 78 rpm albums from her youth… which I inherited!), to show tunes, and even some opera… which never seemed to stick with me!  So you can see that I couldn’t help but have a high regard for many types of music! 

Since we’ve been out here in the Southeast, I have a new appreciation for and have even takin’-a-liken to Country music!  There is something about its simplicity that draws me to it!  I also enjoy the harmony!  That’s probably why a band like the Second Chapter of Acts in the 70’s and 80’s became my all-time favorite Christian Band.

But you must understand… In my circle of friends and family back in Northern California, many would of thought that I had lost my marbles if I ever listened to Country Music when we lived there!  It wasn’t until we lived in Oklahoma for three years, and our current three years in North Carolina, that I began to gain an understanding of the Southern culture and be able to enjoy their music, cuisine and lifestyle.  One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in our years outside the borders of California, has been to appreciate the many different lifestyles, cultures and viewpoints of the citizens of our great country.  I believe it has given me a more open and accepting view of others who may look or live different than what I am used to.

And that brings me back to the different styles of music and the different folks who enjoy them!  You can tell from the applause and audience interaction with the various musical groups in concert, that the listeners have a close connection with what that particular music style represents!  In Philippians 3:12-14 the Apostle Paul is telling us that:

“It's not that I've already reached the goal or have already completed the course. But I run to win that which Jesus Christ has already won for me.  Brothers and sisters, I can't consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I don't look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God's heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus. (God’s Word ©)

As I was studying this conversation this morning I began to ask myself what “course” Paul was discussing and what was the “goal” that he was striving to reach.  Now, I realize that in the context of the statement that he was discussing the Christian’s life walk and their desire to receive their heavenly reward.  But on a greater scale, I believe that this scripture can also be taken personally by each of us as we not “look back,” but “lengthen our strides” and “run straight toward the goal” of completing the course in this life that the Lord has individually called us to participate in.”

Jesus’ parable of the master and his three servants in Matthew 25:14-30 would collaborate this thought.  Each worker was given a different amount of money… or you could say a different calling to accomplish.  Upon his return the master gave the same bountiful reward to the two servants who excelled in what they each were given to do.  The third servant was frozen by fear and did nothing with his given task.  He ended up receiving zero reward from his master, and in fact… what he was originally given was taken away and split between the other two workers!

Over the last ten years of this journey that my wife and I have been on with the fight for her health, we have been told by various friends and family members that “If we were really serious about her healing then we would have done such and such.”  The only problem with all of their suggestions was that they were NOT what the Lord had specifically told US to do.  It was a different path than what He has outlined for US… It was THEIR path, according to how THEY would have done it, based on THEIR lifestyle, THEIR personal experiences, and the direction that the Lord would usually direct THEIR paths.

Now that I have walked in these shoes… sort of speak… for these last years, I have a whole new appreciation for others in my past who have walked similar journeys that we find ourselves in.  If I could go back, I would offer my assistance to them and encourage them right where THEIR faith was, and not where I thought it should be!  I would strive to be a help and not a hindrance to them.

It is my hope that some of our experiences during these last ten years would be an encouragement to our readers, in that you might personally seek and follow the Lord’s directions for YOUR lives!  I can guarantee that you’ll run into folks who are more than willing to direct your paths… but you know, those directions just don’t usually pan out.  I’ve discovered that in the heat of your difficult circumstances, that God’s Word and His personal directions to you in line with that Word are the only things that will not only hold you up… but carry you through to the finish line!

Have a marvelous weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose plan am I expecting to follow in order to complete the race that is set before ME?”

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What More Can I Say?


On this day in history:



1096 - Crusaders under Peter the Hermit reach Sofia in Hungary.

1691 - William III defeats the allied Irish and French armies at the Battle of Aughrim, Ireland.

1794 - British Admiral Lord Nelson loses his right eye at the siege of Calvi, in Corsica.

1806 - The Confederation of the Rhine is established in Germany.

1941 - Moscow is bombed by the German Luftwaffe for the first time.

1954 -President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposes a highway modernization program, with costs to be shared by federal and state governments.

1957 -The U.S. surgeon general, Leroy E. Burney, reports that there is a direct link between smoking and lung cancer.

1974 - G. Gordon Liddy, John Ehrlichman and two others are convicted of conspiracy and perjury in connection with the Watergate scandal.

And… In 1975 on a sun-drenched Saturday in July, at approximately 1:20 in the afternoon, my life was changed forever as a young 21 year old, brown haired cutie named Piper K. Canevari turned her sparkling brown eyes in my direction, looked deeply into my eyes and said: “I Do!”

And what a life it has been!  Today, some 42 years after that life-altering event, I can look back and witness to a life filled with joy, excitement, encouragement, the fulfillment of many dreams… and sure… a few ups and downs, but overall a life that I would DEFINITELY do all over again if given the chance!

I often joke with Piper telling her that when God the Father, His Son and the Holy Ghost were creating her, that the Father paused and looked over at Jesus and asked Him to look up who she would eventually marry.  Jesus then flipped through the Book of Life and said, "it looks like a fellow named Jim Berruto."  So Papa God, with a smile on his face turned to His team and said, "let’s give that boy a life that he won’t EVER forget and anoint this girl with three times the looks, the personality, the smarts, the spiritual discernment and with 'joy unspeakable and full of glory'.” (I Peter 1:8 KJV)

And They did, and I have!

What more can I say Proverbs 18:22 tells us that “Whoso findeth a good wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor from the Lord.” (KJV)  I think that the Contemporary English Version puts it a little more in tune with what I would say about my wife, declaring “A man’s greatest treasure is his wife – (for) she is a gift from the Lord.”  This is a truth that I have been telling her every day for the last few years.  She is definitely a gift from the Lord that has given my life meaning beyond measure with four wonderful children and now their spouses and kids.  I repeat it again… What more can I say!

I can’t say that I never knew how great I have been blessed in the past, but as we have been fighting the good fight of faith in this battle for her life over the last ten years, her blessed existence as the major part of my life has especially come to light as we walk hand-in-hand through the valley of the shadow of death…” (Psalm 23:4 KJV)

The Message Bible paraphrases Proverbs 18:22 with the statement, “Find a good spouse, you find a good life --- and even more: the favor of God.”  My love for my companion of forty two years was intensified even more when I looked up the Greek translation for the word “favor” in this verse.  The thought behind this term defines someone who receives “favor on account of, for this cause or for the sake of.” (Strong’s and Thayer’s)  Well again, I can sure attest to that kind of favor happening repeatedly throughout my life as an outcome of my relationship with Piper.  That truth also got me to thinking that it therefore makes sense for EVERY husband to take good care of their wife.  To love, serve and encourage her and her dreams!

I believe that the last part of that statement concerning the idea of encouraging your spouse and their dreams has been one of the major keys to our 47 year connection. (5 years dating + 42 years married!) Piper and I have always encouraged and supported each other in our dreams.  As most of you who know us understand, home schooling was one of Piper’s most heart-felt dreams, and I supported her in it and through it, especially during the early disagreements we experienced with both our parents, public disdain (the local paper once ran a front page article on homeschooling with Piper as their main subject!) and those who thought we were totally off our collective rockers!

And Piper always supported my dreams and stood by my side through the thick and thin.  Looking back now I can see how I was totally different than what Piper’s family was used to… and to be perfectly honest, I could say the same thing about Piper and my family!  Then again, we both possessed many unique characteristics and visions of life that set us apart from our own families as well!  I guess you could say that we were a match made in heaven!

So… What more can I say?  I may not know how much longer we will have together on this earth, but I continue to thank the good Lord for the many, many, great years and accomplishments that we have experienced together and can only set my faith-filled expectations on many more years as we continue to run the race He has given to us to participate in and “run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God's heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14 God’s Word ©)

Happy Anniversary Honey!  You have given me a life that will go down in the annuals of history as one of the most exciting, adventurous, expectant and ultimate love stories that the world has ever seen!

What more can I say… How could I ever have known how much that “I Do” - forty two years ago would enrich and define my life!  Have a great day everyone, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How am I expecting to run the race that Papa God has set before me today?”

Monday, July 10, 2017

WOW!


When I first got up this morning around 7:10 it was warm and overcast outside.  By the time I helped my wife to get ready for the day, the skies had begun to lighten.  As we were going out the bedroom door into the hallway, I glanced out the long bedroom window and noticed that the leaves on the many trees lining that side of our property were beginning to take on an almost fluorescent sheen as the sun attempted to break through the cloud cover.  The sight made me stop and comment to Piper on the beauty of that moment!  It always amazes me to see the changes in the floral tints as the sun comes up each morning.

A few moments previous to this incident, the over-all atmosphere in our neighborhood was grey and a bit dull as if questioning whether it was going to rain or be sunny!  Then in a click of the second hand of the clock, the skies began to lighten and it’s obvious to see that the weather has made up its mind to stick to the forecast and let the sun shine through! 
As I look out the window now, about three hours later, the sun is shining brightly outside the dining room, a locomotive’s whistle is blowing as a local freight train powers down the track outside our neighborhood, the black crows are squawking to each other in the trees and the cardinals are singing as they forage for delicious tidbits amongst the blades of grass that make up our back lawn.

You know… I think that this is just a good time to praise the Lord!  With a hot cup of coffee in hand and a stomach full of bacon and eggs, having just completed a wonderful time of discovery in the Word of God and in the presence of my loving wife and silly pooch as they catch a few Zzzz’z near me in the room, I just have to smile and be thankful to Him who’s loving care continues to surround us with His love, His patience, His grace, His supernatural wisdom and a helping hand in times of need!

Has the whole morning been this peaceful?  Well, to be honest… not really!  Earlier in the morning it was kind of like pulling teeth to get my wife to swallow her breakfast, but steadfast determination, patience, many opportunities to suppress frustration and lots of gridded utterances of thanksgiving and praise got us through the task with flying colors!  In trying times such as these I tend to let my thoughts revert back to the many occasions that the Lord has come through as He has put His arms around me and helped me to push through the rough patches and end up with little victories throughout each and every day!

You know…?  It is hard for me to give in to the anger and/or discouragement that attempts to creep into the situation when I think about how good He has always been toward my wife and I.  Today I am encouraged once again by Paul’s words to Timothy as he instructed him to be diligent in his ministry efforts and to “study to show thyself approved to God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)  As I have studied this verse over the last few days, I keep hearing the small still voice of the spirit lifting me up with the thought that I have nothing to be ashamed of while I seek to follow His daily leading and encouragement in the care of my wife in this her greatest time of need.

When the questions arise and I begin to dwell on the “Why’s, How’s” and “What more I can do,” He always comforts me with the counsel and peace that is part and parcel of the outcome to the personal study of His Word.  Isn’t God good?

So, I encourage all the readers of this blog today, to stop fretting and allow yourself to be enveloped by the loving arms of the Lord!  Take a moment for deep and peaceful reflection of the beauty that is present all around you at this moment.  Instead of dwelling on the negative, find the positive and let flow from your lips the sounds of praise and thanksgiving unto Him!

I get to ride the tractor around the backyard today as I mow the lawn.  It is actually something I really enjoy…  Those of you who have known us for a while know that Piper and I are outdoors people.  So mowing the lawn is actually a great stress reliever for me and being outside always stimulates my wife’s senses!  Every time I pilot the the riding mower, I am captivated by all that I see around me and am easily overwhelmed by the goodness of God as I consider the amazing beauty and peacefulness of this property that the Lord has given to us!  At times like this, all I can say is… “WOW!”

I hope that you all have that kind of day as well today!

And as you do, keep asking yourself… “How thankful am I expecting to be to my Papa God today?”

Friday, July 7, 2017

Do Your Best!


I did not want to go shopping yesterday!  But the threat of thundershowers had past, the weather was comfortable and I knew that it would be good for both my wife and I to get out!  So I asked the Lord for strength, joy and wisdom and headed out the door!

Now, I normally don’t complain about having to lug around my wife’s 75lb wheelchair and the need to delicately lift her in and out of the chair and in and out of the car, but I was sorely tempted as I maneuvered her out the kitchen door and onto the extension platform that I built in the garage in order to safely move her in and out of our home.  I am thankful though, that complaining has not been an active part of our marriage.  It only took one look at her sweet face and it was like she telepathed the need to praise the Lord directly to my mouth!

So, as I praised the Lord, the ‘bother’ seemed to lift and I suddenly had a hop in my step and a light-hearted feeling come about me!  Once we got going down the street, any memory of my discontent vanished and we went merrily on our way to the local Super-Walmart!

By the time we went through the pharmacy for a six pack of Boost, fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and entered the dairy section, I was totally absorbed in the task at hand… and actually found that was enjoying myself!  At one point I stopped to open up an egg carton (as Piper had taught me years ago to always check for broken eggs…) when a women, a little younger than us (I think!), stopped next to us and shyly asked me if Piper was my wife.  

With a broad smile I immediately answered “Yes!”  After my reply she looked at me with a gentle smile and said that she was really impressed with my care for Piper, and then stated that “If I ever get to the place where I need help, I hope that my husband would respond the same as you have!”  Well… as you can imagine, those kind words caused me to almost begin to cry.  She then continued by telling me how much we blessed her that day!  We spoke back and forth for a few moments and I told her how I would not have the care for my wife any other way!  Then as we parted I thought to myself, that I have loved Piper since high school and I was not about to stop now!

A few moments later I trickily maneuvered Piper in her chair followed by the shopping cart around a bend and into a crowed aisle where two young women, one with a little girl in her basket were joking about how the little girl was batting her eyes at her Mom.  They were laughingly discussing how she didn’t know what she was doing and how that action would probably become a viable part of how she carried herself into adulthood!

I kind of walked right into the conversation and couldn’t help but smile as I attempted to get around them without bumping into anything!  One of the gals then looked at us and started laughing as she told me that “You are doing a great job at maneuvering around without hitting anything!”  Then she added: “I can’t even get through the aisles with my kids without knocking things down!”  Well… I couldn’t help but break out into a hearty laugh as I remembered the time we knocked over the end cap filled with lipstick containers in that store’s pharmacy department a few months prior and I told them about that experience.  So, we all had a good laugh and continued on our separate ways!

This morning as I read from 2 Timothy 2:15 were the Apostle Paul is encouraging his young protégé to “Do your best to present yourself to God as a tried and true worker who isn’t ashamed to teach the word of God correctly” (God’s Word ©), I found myself thinking about our experiences in the store yesterday.  Let’s face it, those ladies comments to Piper and I really blessed me!  And the more I thought about it, I realized that if I had followed some of the ‘advice’ that I have received over the last ten years, we may never may have had the opportunity to be in the position we were in yesterday afternoon… shopping together in a Super Walmart in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina… some 3000 miles away from home!  Then the reality of it all hit me… If we had followed what some proposed as the logical thing for us to do, I am not too sure that my wife would even be alive today! 

As I was confessing healing scriptures over Piper yesterday morning, my mind, for an instant, drifted off and I found myself considering some of the past things said to us, and even some of the various instructions I had read about in many different Christian books on healing.  But that thought pattern did not last very long as I quickly heard that small still voice inside of me, encouraging me to follow the specific directions that the good Lord had given to me at the beginning of Piper’s and my current journey.

I realized in that moment that if I had followed some of the ‘advice’ that came my way, that I would be nothing but an “echo” of them, but the Lord wanted me to take what He told me to do, in the face of everything else, and become a solid and confident “voice” that would triumphantly speak into our situation on a daily basis!  I also understood that Piper and I were a “voice” to those ladies yesterday in the very aisles of Walmart!

Depending on the translation you read, 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to “do your best, give diligence to, carefully study or make every effort” in order to present oneself to God as a tried and true messenger of the Gospel… one who isn’t ashamed, or as Albert Barnes explains in his ‘Notes on the Bible’ commentary, “A man faithfully performing his duty, so that when he looks over what he has done, he may not blush!”

So yeah… I am only human, and yeah, it can be a bother sometimes to bring my wife with me most everywhere I go, but you know… when push comes to shove, I do it because first of all, I love her and have committed myself to be true to her and all her needs as long as she lives. Secondly, because I know that the stimuli is good for her… like I’ve said before, it always irks me when someone says without really thinking about it, “Get someone to watch Piper and go and do such and such…”  And thirdly, it’s my job!  It is what I am called to do right now, and I have promised to Papa God and my beloved Piper, that I will always “Do my best to show myself approved to God…” in the responsibilities that He has called me to perform!

So yeah, like yesterday, I want to be an strong and positive “voice” in people’s lives as I diligently strive to do my best in whatever Papa God has called me to do.  Being an “echo” isn’t good enough for me anymore!  How about you?

Have a great weekend.  The weatherman keeps pushing out the forecast of thundershowers, so as of right now, we are supposed to have a warm and sunny time for the next six days!  Since I finally got a new trimmer attachment, I’m hoping to finish trimming the front lawn!  Hope you all have a fun and productive couple of days as well… and as you do, keep asking yourselves… “Am I expecting to Do My Best in order to present myself approved to Papa God in what He’s called me to do today?”

PS: And keep in mind if you are a “Voice” or just an “Echo!”