The new house!

The new house!
This will be our view from the front porch & kitchen!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Psychedelics?


One of the reasons I had gotten a checkup at the doctor’s last week was to see if he could give me something to help me sleep through the night.  I haven’t really slept good for years with everything going on with Piper as I was usually up multiple times a night checking on her.  Then with her passing, I now find myself falling right to sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow only to wake up throughout the night and not being able to close my eyes again for an hour or more each time!



So, I got a prescription and he told me to call him if there were any problems.  I took the pills for a week but still found myself waking throughout the night, although maybe not as often.  Then I started having some of the weirdest dreams as well as flushing during the day!  Therefore, I called in yesterday and he sent another prescription to my pharmacy. 



When I got the text from the store, Fiver and I drove out to town and the CVS car pick-up window.  Then we returned home where I put together some lunch.  While I ate, I decided to read the fact sheet on the new drug… and Wow!  Piper and I might have been children of the 60’s and ‘70’s but we never did the drug scene!  The potential side-effects and warning label on this prescription read like something you would have heard at a speech on psychedelic drugs by the late clinical psychologist Timothy Leary!  Sleep walking, sleep driving, memory loss, drowsiness, dizziness, feeling like you’ve been drugged, flushing, panic attacks, nausea… and the list goes on and on!



Well… needless to say, that caught my attention!  I looked over at the dog sitting on the floor next to me and burst out laughing!  All I could say was Whoa!  Whoa!  I definitely ain’t gonna touch that stuff!”  After reading that information, I figured that I would rather miss a few hours sleep than feel like I was lost in space.



That whole eye-opening adventure got me to thinking about the basic truths of scriptures like Proverbs 3:5 where we are encouraged to “Trust the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.” (God’s Word ©)  In our daily walk it is way too easy to forget the simplicity of the Word and ho it intricately intertwines with every facet of our lives… if we allow it to!



An important fact of what I went through with the attack on the health of the one most dear to me on all the earth, was the importance of staying focused on the answer.  What answer you might ask?  The answer to what medical science declared about Piper’s situation and all the effects it would have on the caregiver, their finances and just about every other area of their lives touched by such a catastrophic event?  Or, the answer given throughout the New Testament epistles as given to those who have yielded their lives to Jesus Christ and take hold of all that He provided for them as described by the Pauline Revelation?



Since Piper’s homegoing, I have been spending a lot of time looking back over the last ten years, and I continually find myself amazed at the amount of concentration God gave us in order to stayed hooked on what we believed to be the truth in the Word of God and not be distracted by the worlds view of our situation.  And I am even more amazed when I take an actual inventory of all the ways that God prepared us for such a challenge.



I’ve thought about the different physical moves around the country, Bible College, strong Word teaching churches, new friends and renewed acquaintances with extended family members who took the time to get to know, care for and personally minister to Piper and I in the midst of their own busy lives.  And then there were the various doctors in three different states as well as all the other medical professionals who may not have always understood us but nevertheless acknowledged the validity of our beliefs and our stand of faith.  Then of course, there were all those unknown individuals who stopped us in the store, in various parking lots, and along the sidewalks of town to give an encouraging word, reach out and touch Piper or even ask if they could help me to maneuver Piper in and out of the car.  I’ve learned that God is always there for us as long as we stay there for Him! 



Yesterday’s incident with the sleeping pills helped me to come back to what helped us through the last chapter of our lives.  It’s all about a dependence and trust in Him and not some chemical substance or worldly way to deal with the tough times in life.  I’m not saying that there aren’t things out there that can help along the way of life… I just want to make sure that HE is the one telling me what to do and not my own understanding of the situation or that of someone else’s who is not really in tune to our needs and/or the things of God concerning us!



Have you ever been there?  Well… I for one, choose to make sure that I am still focusing on the Word and God’s directions for me as I have ended one large and long chapter of my life and enter into a new one!



Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, say with me… “I am expecting to continue to follow God’s Word and His plan for my life!”




Monday, October 29, 2018

Is It Time to Let Go?

Whew!  I just took Fiver for our first post-Piper walk down the neighborhood lane.  Along the way we met another neighbor walking her little black Dachshund, a Fed-X delivery van and a rather large red and white garbage truck… and Fiver did pretty good with those distractions.  It’s walking down the road in between the distractions that is going to take some more work though! 

He tends to get excited and pull when he is on the leash, so I got him a Rabbitgoo No-Pull Pet Harness… and yep… that really is the name of the brand!  It goes around his chest and attaches on his sides with a hook for the leash on the front as well as on the top/back.  The idea is that with the leash attached to the front hook, the dog won’t pull for when he attempts to do so, he will be turned sideways!  And it actually seemed to work.  What I noticed though, is that once he gets going on my left side, he tends to lean into me because the harness is leading him that way… and if I don’t watch out it would be easy for me to get tripped up with him!  So, we’ve got training ahead… for both of us!  

It was quite enjoyable to be outside in the early morning hour with the 50 some degrees of sun shining down on the country road, the dew reflecting like little diamonds on the grass and the birds singing their morning tunes… which if you listened closely, I think you’d hear a Southern Gospel twang to their chirps!

Okay… so maybe I’m joking about the Southern Gospel part, but anyway you look at it, as I walked along I couldn’t help but think that it was a beautiful day to be alive!  That is EXACTLY the way I like to start my day… how about you?

But as I’ve mentioned in past blog posts, since Piper moved on to glory almost two months ago now, mornings have been a little rough for me.  Rough in the sense that I haven’t felt like I have a real purpose to get up for without her.  It is not like I sit around the house feeling sorry for myself all day as I have always been sort of a determined and principled individual who likes to set goals and pursue them, so I always have something to do… its just that my days haven’t had that same pizzazz without that one special person with whom I have spent almost everyday with for the last 48 years… give or take a few work/ministry conventions or men’s conferences.

But that’s where scriptures like Psalm 118:24 come into play for me.  Here the psalmist encourages us by declaring: “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  (KJV)  On those days when I haven’t had much motivation to get out of bed this scripture has been like Piper reaching over and shaking me while saying “Put a smile on your face and get up lazy-bones… we got stuff to do today, and rejoice about it!”

Now that kind of morning encouragement would get me up fast, complete with a good attitude!  She would give me a physical nudge to get my body moving in the right direction, and an earful of joyfully funny words to make me believe that everything we did that day was going to be a happy experience.

The Psalmist also gives us a nudge that affects our physical beings when he tells us to “rejoice” for if you recall, in the original languages, that word is describing the physical action of “spinning around” or “jumping for joy!”  So, the Lord is telling us through the Psalmist who penned the verse, to “get yourself up and spin around… whether you feel like it or not!”  And you know… I did that this morning and almost tripped over the dog who was laying in his bed at my feet!  But it did make me feel better (especially after the spinning in my head subsided…) and a little more excited for the new day ahead!

Then the Lord looks to our inner man by encouraging us to “rejoice” which literally means “to brighten up” or “to put (yourself) into a good frame of mind.”  So, you see… The Lord knows exactly what we need in the morning… especially when the weather outside is not nearly as conducive as it was to me today!

Have you ever finally given into doing something that you really weren’t comfortable with and were thankful afterwards that you did?  When Piper and I entered into the Charismatic Movement back in the seventies and early eighties, I wasn’t all that sure about all the activity that went on during the Praise and Worship parts of the services that we were beginning to frequent on a regular basis.  I was all into the raising of my hands, clapping and even swaying my body to the beat… but the jumping up and down, laughing or running around the room was a bit much for my conservative Catholic background!

And even though I was hungry for more of God and wanted to experience the fulness of what He had for me… I continued to resist for quite awhile even as Piper and I were by then, leading the music teams in many of those meetings.  After awhile we were asked to attend a special Praise and Worship training seminar at a large church in San Jose, California where they taught us music leaders from all over the Bay Area different ways to improve and enjoy the ways in which we presented the Word in song to our congregations.

Then during one of the services as the minister who had personally invited us was teaching on yielding to the Holy Spirit, she began to encourage all of us in attendance to let go of ourselves and to give into Him as the music team ministered to us.  Well, it was one of those times that I began to feel like the Lord was speaking only to me, and not the hundreds of others in that auditorium on that Saturday afternoon!

So… I put aside my pride and began to move… a little hop to begin with… a little laugh now and then… and before you knew it I was dancing in the Spirit before the Lord… and I didn’t care about what anyone else thought (besides they were all dancing in their own ways before Him as well… and you know… it wasn’t weird or wrong but almost looked like it was choregraphed throughout the room)!  So, what can I say?  I haven’t looked back since!  I am so happy that I decided to yield to His physical nudging and respond to His inner encouragement as it brought me into a whole deeper place in my worship of the Lord.

Since Piper passed on September 2nd, Psalm 118:24 has had a renewed and more powerful effect on my daily life than ever before.  I am convinced that God is concerned about our physical and mental psyches just as much as He is our spiritual man.  So, do it!  Get up tomorrow, spin around and then begin to rejoice and be happy… especially if you don’t feel like it!  (You might want to get somewhere alone first… and make sure the dog isn’t laying at your feet!)

Have a rejoiceful and happy week, and as you do, say with me… “I am expectant of God’s joy to lead and encourage the way I think and act today!”

Friday, October 26, 2018

It’s Dark, Rainy and Cold Today…


I awoke this morning to a dark and dreary day outside my bedroom window.  But you know, even though it looked that way, that is not how my first peek from that side-of-the-house-facing window greeted me.  Instead I felt lifted up!  There was a certain sense of expectation in the air… which is something I haven’t felt for some time now since the passing of my lovely wife almost two months ago.



I was a little disappointed as I looked over the yard from the bedroom viewpoint though, when I didn’t immediately spot some wildlife scampering around the yard.  On most days it is pretty easy to find a squirrel or two on the fence, little birds picking out seeds on the lawn and a rabbit or two chewing on some green delicacy that came up in the grass.  But I guess the rain caused then to stay warm and dry today in whatever shelter they could find.



We seem to go through a pattern during the end of the summer when the critters around the yard tend to lessen their presence and then make a come back appearance as the fall season approaches.  And that is where we are now as October comes to a close.  In the late afternoon yesterday when I took Fiver out to play catch in the backyard, he quickly scared off our neighborhood Cooper’s Hawk who took quick flight to escape 75lbs of white fur bounding his way!  Then as I tossed his mini football across the yard I enjoyed watching a female Cardinal hop from branch to branch in the plentitude of trees along our fence line and listen to the other hidden birds “talking” to one another amongst the tree tops.



But alas, that was not the plan for this morning!  But it didn’t seem to matter as I felt the Father’s peace and abounding joy making an impact on my heart, despite the grey clouds and wet weather outside.  Have you ever had a morning like that? 



As I began to pray over the Word a little while later, I sensed the Lord’s desire for me to look up some scriptures that talk about the rain, so I did a quick word search in my Bible study program eSword.  The verse that quickly caught my attention was Psalm 72:6 in the King James Version which declares: “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.”  Well, that translation made me laugh as I had been thinking about that very subject while I was out back with Fiver the day before!



While walking around the yard I noticed that the lawn was most likely going into dormancy for the winter, but I was also thinking about how nice some rain would be as I had recently mowed the lawns!  It’s like the Lord was reading my mind!  Then I switched over to the Contemporary English Version’s take of that particular verse and began to understand where the Lord was going with the idea of rain…



This modern translation states: “Let him be as helpful as rain that refreshes the meadows and the ground.”   It was the “refreshment” of the Lord that I felt when I arose and looked out that window and could have easily taken what I was seeing in the wrong way!  The Lord wanted me to see the “refreshing” that He was doing in me through the visual presentation of the rain outside.  Just as He refreshes the meadows and the ground, He has been wanting to refresh me with the rain of His truth, His peace, His expectation, His joy and His love.



When Piper and I first started going to what would become our favorite camping place up at Plumas Eureka State Park in the Sierras in northern California in the mid-1970’s, there was beautiful wildlife all over the place.  There was an area in Little Jamieson Creek that flows throughout the park where you could watch the beavers working on the monster dam they had built.  The campsites had all kinds of little critters running around the ground, scurrying up and down the trees and flying amongst the tall pines.  Over the years since then, much of the wildlife seemed to have moved deeper into the woods away from the campgrounds.



One of our favorite places to walk was through the magnificent meadow in the park.  We came across all kinds of animal tracks, scat and other tell-tale signs of the various animals who called the park their home.  We even came face to face with a porcupine one morning… but slowly retreated as we figured it best to allow him his space!



But with all that life, we also encountered a few thunderstorms along the way!  On our first or second trip to the park we got there just as a series of thunderstorms blew through the mountains.  And after three days of hard rain we were beginning to not be so happy-go-lucky!  It’s one of the few times that I actually remember us getting on each other’s nerves!  Thankfully, the storms finally blew through and we were able to extend our stay by a few days in order to enjoy the warm dry weather!



That rain though, is what refreshed the land and enabled all the beautiful wildlife, the trees, the plants and that gorgeous meadow to flourish.  Just like it is the “rain” of the Holy Spirit that encourages and enables us to live life in the fulness of what the Father desires (and has provided) for our lives!




So yea… it may be a bit dreary looking and cold outside (the thermometer on the deck is reading 40 degrees right now…) but what I choose to see is the refreshing of the Lord upon my life!  It is that very refreshing from the truth of His Word that is bringing me through this most difficult time in my life… and is that which can and will do the same for you!



So… what do YOU see when you look outside?  Cold, rain and dark skies or the refreshing of the Lord falling upon your life?



Have a wonderful weekend, and as you do, say along with me: “I love the rain, as I am expecting the refreshing of the Lord to fall upon me, today!”

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

What's for Breakfast?


I was standing in the dining room this morning looking into the kitchen and living room and was thinking that it was kind of funny to see just how much one individual can influence your life.  Just about everyway I turned I saw things that had special meaning that only Piper and I would understand, items that we purchased to decorate our homes throughout the years and then, of course, all the things that actually belonged to her like her piano, her flute and piccolo, a special old-fashioned lamp that she always loved, and some beautiful framed wall hangings that were given to her by friends, family and former students.



This house is almost like a museum to Piper!  The minute I open my eyes in the morning I can sense her presence through all the memories posted here, there and everywhere around our home.  As I drove the forty-minute ride into Morrisville yesterday for a doctor’s appointment, I repeatedly found myself reaching out to her seat to grasp one of her hands that I am sure I held literally thousands of times over the years of our relationship!



While at the doctor’s we talked about the last few months of Piper’s life and how I had physically stretched myself to the limit in order to ensure that all of her needs were abundantly met.  I had promised her that I would always be there for her and fought to keep my word to her to the very end.  We also talked about her final hours and how perfect the conclusion of her life seemed to be.  I can only look back now in praise and thanksgiving unto the Lord for always being there for me so that I had the physical strength, emotional fortitude, mental acuity and faith in Him and His Word to carry me over and through the many years of that journey.



And now… well… I am slowly but surely seeing my dependency or as I am learning to call it, my satisfaction refocus from Piper and our love for each other onto the Lord and His love for me.  When I open my eyes in the morning I no longer automatically look over to my right to where Piper slept for many years to see how she is doing, but instead almost immediately begin to speak out the Word or sing a praise song softly to him, declaring:



“Good morning Lord!  I choose this morning to continue to let your love satisfy all of my needs.  This way I can celebrate and be glad for the times of this new season in my life.”                   Psalm 90:14 (CEV - personalized)





According to another new commentary I was reading this morning by Warren W. Wiersbe, Psalm 90 is the oldest Psalm in the book of Psalms and was written by Moses, possibly after Israel’s failure of faith at Kadesh Barnea (See: Numbers 13-14), when the nation was condemned to journey in the wilderness for forty years.  So, it could very well be that Moses was going through a really rough time in his life when he penned this work.  But as a type and shadow of the faith that Jesus would later provide for mankind after His finished work of the cross, Moses chose to not focus his attention on failure, disappointment or sorrow, but on his trust in the Lord’s love to carry him past the present pain and allow him to celebrate the joyful times ahead.



Sounds a lot like where I am in my current place in life doesn’t it?  It also might be similar to the place in life where many of you may be standing as well.  So, what do we do?  Well, like the example we find in Moses, we choose to move on from where we are now and focus in on what the Lord says about our upcoming future.  And where do we find that information (you knew I was going to ask that didn’t you… and you most likely already know what I am gonna say, right)?  Yep!  In His Word!



Dr. Wiersbe goes on to suggest that Psalm 90:14 was written in reference to the manna that came down from the heavens early every day, six days a week and met the physical needs of the Israelites.  He then states that “It is a picture of Jesus Christ, the bread of life.  The manna sustained life for the Jewish people for nearly forty years, but Jesus gives life to the whole world for all eternity.” (Be Exultant- Psalms 90-150- Warren W. Wiersbe, page 24)



I have stated on many occasions and continue to be totally convinced that it was our ever-increasing intake of God’s Word and the faith it continued to ignite in Piper and I that sustained and empowered us for every decision, every action, every ounce of strength and every fight we faced throughout our journey over the last 10+ years of our lives… just like Dr. Wiersbe said about Moses and the Children of Israel when they came face to face with the wilderness.  The King James Version of Psalm 90:14 asks of the Lord to “satisfy us early…”  To me that always meant first thing in the morning!  And that is when I love to get into the Word.  I am learning now, more than ever before, to allow His input to be the words of life that satisfy me before anything else each day!



What do you think?  I want that bread of sustaining life as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning… how about you?



Have a good rest of the week, and as you do, say with me… “I am expecting to get a greeeeat breakfast of God’s Word first thing every day!”

Monday, October 22, 2018

JOY and SATISFACTION!


I’ve been thinking a lot about mornings the last week or so.  I’ve noticed that ever since Piper moved her residence to heaven, that I haven’t been getting up with the same drive that I did while she was still here.  I realized as the hot water was beating down on my stiff neck in the shower the other day that my mornings have been… for lack of a better term… sort of blah!  I also realized that “blah” is a real word that describes “something which is boring or without meaningful content.”  (Oxford Online Dictionary)



The thought of being “without meaningful content” sums up my first-thing-in-the-morning attitude rather accurately!  Although, I would think that a grief specialist would most likely say that my morning experiences are normal for someone who has just lost someone close to them.  But you know… it is very unsettling to me because that isn’t normal for me! (to which the grief specialist would again say is normal…)  I’ve always been a smiling, happy to be alive kind of morning guy.  I have always been thankful for Piper’s college dorm roommate who helped to transform Piper from a don’t-talk-to-me- in-the-morning type of person to one who was more receptive to us get-up-and-go types!



Psalm 30:5 tells us that although “weeping” – or wailing aloud… which I’ve experienced lately… “may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.” (MKJV)  Then there is Psalm 90:14 where the Psalmist declares, Satisfy me in the morning (O Lord) with your steadfast love, that I may rejoice and be glad all of my days.” (ESV – personalized)  These two verses give me hope… but I am still waiting to get even a small sense of that morning JOY and/or SATISFACTION!



I wrote in my “Piper’s Story” journal yesterday morning as I was studying these morning scriptures that, ”I am looking forward to and am expecting JOY and that uncanny sense of SATIFACTION to come back into my mornings,  like the times I would wake up to the coastal sunshine streaming in through our window at the Fort Ross Lodge on the northern California coast with Piper at my side and a warmth of happiness flowing throughout my whole being.”



Earlier this morning as I re-looked at these portions of the Word, I felt the Lord speaking to my heart telling me that He now wants to be that SATISFACTION and source of JOY anytime, anywhere, and in any situation for me!  As I pondered that statement I started to understand that would be like getting a product directly from the manufacturer… without the middleman… or in my case… the middle women = Piper!  Does that make sense?  I believe that our Father God does use people close to our hearts to be fountains of His love and grace, but when they are no longer in the picture, it would make sense to go directly to Him and allow Him to set up your future.



Except for my sweet Piper, I’ve always had a difficult time allowing (and or trusting) certain people to reach out to me.  Like many of you, I’ve had both distant and recent experiences that sort of sealed the deal on that personal reaction.  But I do admit that I’ve had some terrific individuals in both California and out here, as well as our great hospice team over the last year and a half that certainly worked to softened my heart!



So, in many ways I am excited to see what and how the new path will unfold before me.  Will there ever be JOY and SATISFACTION again in my mornings?  I don’t doubt it at all… the only frustrating part is that I want it NOW… but then again, I realize that there is a process of time that must first take place for me to be ready to receive all that the Father has for me…as there are things that I need to let go of, different things I need to gain and many new things that I need to learn along the way, as I progress into this new chapter of my life!



And so, a new week begins!  I am looking forward to it!  How about you?  Have a great week ahead, and as you do, say with me… “I am expecting to see some JOY and SATISACTION enter in to parts of my life today!”

Friday, October 19, 2018

It's Shoutin' Time...

I sat down a couple of days ago to watch a program during lunch when something supernatural happened.  Let me explain…

I’m not sure why but it seems like the hour or two after lunch tends to be the worst time of day for me when it comes to my emotions.  It is like my heart explodes as it is flooded with all kinds of vibrantly poignant memories of my wife.  But on this day, it was like God had another plan.  Who says that our Father God is not spontaneous?

After I sat down on the couch, I reached for the remote control and at the same time glanced up to the TV screen across the room.  With our home entertainment system all the electronic devices feed into the Pioneer receiver/controller and then up to the TV which serves as the visual display for everything.  As I unconsciously went to redirect from the Sirius XM Southern Gospel enLighten channel 65 that was on, I suddenly froze as I noticed that the current selection being played was “It’s Shoutin’ Time in Heaven” by the well-known Southern Gospel family group The Hopper’s*

I plopped back down on my seat and turned to Fiver who was totally focused on the doggie dental chew that he knew he would be getting for lunch, and exclaimed, “Let’s listen to this song, I like it!”  The selection was recorded during a live performance and always tends to send shivers down my spine as the excitement and truth of the song come to an astounding crescendo.

Toward the end of the number as they began to repeat the emphasis of the song that “It’s Shoutin’ Time in Heaven!,” my quiet solitude of sitting on the couch was taken over with a very visual picture of my Piper being in heaven, singing, shouting, playing the piano and dancing (You know… she was pretty talented, but I’d never seen her dance while playing the piano before… but who knows what one can do in heaven!).

With tears beginning to freely flow, I arose to my feet, lifted my hands unto the Lord and couldn’t help but be carried away with the excitement of the truth of that simple but moving song:

“Its shouting time in heaven

A sinner once lost is found

Its shouting time in heaven

Salvation has been brought down,

No wonder the angels rejoice to know

My sins have been covered by the crimson flow

And now I'm feeling fine

I'm walking on the highway with my Lord

My name is written down in courts above

Its shouting time in heaven,

Oh yes, its shouting time.



No wonder the angels rejoice to know

My sins have been covered by the crimson flow

And now I'm feeling fine

I'm walking on the highway with my Lord

My name is written down in courts above

Its shouting time in heaven,

Oh yes, its shouting time,



Its shouting time in heaven,

Oh yes, its shouting time!”**



I glanced over to her piano to my left and focused in on the framed print of her playing that piano at home one day and let my mind drift off thinking about how she seemed to step up into the anointing during services when participating in songs like this one.  She would simply glow and her little hands seemed to float above the keys while they flew from one side of the keyboard to the other.  Then she would take the index finger on her right hand and run it down the keys as the tune came to its final conclusion!

I betcha that she is doing a lot of that now!  And like I’ve said repeatedly, as far as I am concerned, she deserves every minute of it!  But what about me… Well, when the song finally came to its last conclusion, I simply fell down on my knees and thanked the Lord for a glimpse into heaven!

It’s kind of funny you know?  I didn’t have a rough time after lunch that day!  Even though it wasn’t anything about me, I received a strong shot of hope and expectation for my future through the experience with that song.  I not only pictured my sweet wife enjoying her just reward, but I received an uncanny peace about His plans for me… today, tomorrow and onward!

One can’t be sad with a spontaneous event like that… as far as I am concerned… I can only rejoice and be glad.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get to the place faster than I thought possible… where in the midst of everything going on, I will be able once again to arise with that “…shout of joy (that) comes in the morning” flowing from my lips! (Psalm 30:5 NASB)

Have a great weekend, and as you do, I would encourage you to be on the alert for the spontaneity of God in your life!  In fact, say with me right now, “I am expecting God to act spontaneously in my life today!”





*.https://thehoppers.com/

** https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/The-Hoppers/It-s-Shouting-Time-In-Heaven

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Be Brave!


One of the most interesting and maybe even a bit scary parts about the passing of my wife Piper a little over a month ago, is discovering that there are parts of me that were lost along with her!  Those parts of who I am because of the oneness and uniqueness of our relationship that began to form during our high school years.  I admit that this realization shook me more than just a little!  But I was comforted again this morning as I felt led to something that hasn’t been lost, and that is who I am in Christ.  It is what I believe that my careful and consistent study of God’s Word says about me!

Joshua 1:9 in the Contemporary English Version of the Bible reminds me of what the Lord has repeatedly spoken to me over time through His words encouraging Joshua as he took over the daunting task of replacing Moses saying: “I've commanded you to be strong and brave. Don't ever be afraid or discouraged! I am the LORD your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go.”  I like this particular translation as it uses the word “brave.”  And if there has been any time in my life where I have needed to be brave… it is RIGHT NOW!  He also comforts me as I can almost feel Him gently taking my hand, looking into my eyes and softly inspiring me to not be discouraged.

When you read through the book of Joshua you quickly discover that God was true to His Word throughout Joshua’s period of leadership.  He was there for Joshua in the good times as well as in the bad and through it all, as long as Joshua kept his focus on Jehovah, he was everything that this verse said he would be… strong, brave, fearless and not easily discouraged!  To me, that is proof enough that my God will also be true to His Word for me.  That alone gives me the fortitude to press forward and to be brave in whatever may be before me in my future.

As I began to list all the places where I believe that Piper played a pivotal position in our relationship, I began to realize that at this point, due to the extended period of her illness, most of those areas are not in the physical such as the daily tasks of life that we shared, but mainly in those areas of the inner me.  Once we had returned home after our three-year stint in Oklahoma, I had gradually taken over all of the house and family tasks as her capabilities continued to diminish.  So, there’s no doubt that I can make it in the natural areas of life!  It would seem that God had a plan as my Mama (and my wife) trained me well over the years.  Give me an apron and I can cook and clean with the best of them!

But what about all those inside characteristics that truly identify me as me?  What about how she validated my very existence? What about all of those dreams, visions and plans that we talked about over the years… and believe me… we dreamed a lot and big, and our future looked bright!

Piper used to like it when I would come up behind her and wrap my arms around her as she stood in front of the large mirror attached to her dresser in our bedroom.  We would simply smile as we lovingly gazed into the image reflected in the glass and absorb the oneness of that special moment.  Now as I look into the mirror all I see is me!  I’m not too sure which is more daunting… what Joshua faced as he took over a nation posed to go into the promise land facing unseen enemies, tests and trials, or me as I face the unseen new land before me?

Well… that story is yet to unfold, but I do have the confidence in the truth of God and His Word which gives me the ability to be brave in the midst of uncertainty!  II Timothy 1:7 tells me that “God has not given me the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (MKJV personalized)  The word “power” in the Greek means among other things, “ability” (Thayer’s), so as I look to that verse I understand that God has given me His abilities to be brave in whatever it is that I need to do and to walk in whatever new areas of life that He directs me to walk.

So… what’s there to be concerned about… right?  I guess I’ll have to let you know about that as we walk this journey together in the coming weeks, months and years!  Have a great mid-week, and as you do, repeat after me: “I am expecting God to be true to his Word… just for me today!”

Monday, October 15, 2018

Practice Makes Perfect


I recently received a book that I had ordered online entitled “Grieving: How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies” by Therese A. Rando, PH.D. and eagerly began to read over the weekend.  What immediately caught my attention was the fact that many of the things that I have been feeling and/or going through are not that unusual when a loved one passes on.  That understanding gave me a sense of wholeness and helped to calm the wind-swept waters that I have been treading over the last 5 weeks since my wife’s move to heaven.

In reading the first few chapters of the book, I realized that I not only lost the most important person in my life, but I also lost the part of me that has identified with her for the last 48 years, along with all of the visions, plans, dreams and hopes for our future together.  Then it hit me that I not only have to build a new life for myself, but also a new identity!  I used to joke with Piper all the time that the thought of “Jim and Piper” went together like the combination of “Peanut Butter and Jelly!”  It is something that someone would always put together in their minds!  Most people who know us would hardly think of one without the other.  But now… it’s just “Jim…”

So, with that in mind I grabbed my “Piper’s Story” journal and began first, to make a list of all the things in my life that most likely were NOT going to change.  At the top of that list, besides our children and their families, was my personal hunger and dependence on God and His Word which brought a familiar scripture to mind where the writer of the book of Hebrews confidently declares that: “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”  (Hebrews 11:6 KJV) 

This keynote verse located within the chapter of the New Testament that is affectionately called “The Roll Call of Faith,” was always a standard description of Piper’s and my faith and I do not foresee any reason for that to change now!  It is one of those “Practice Makes Perfect” foundations in my life that I will continue to develop.

I recently read an article defining the meaning of the word “Believe,” especially in the light of Hebrews chapter eleven.  The author Tom Stuart, Pastor and leader of Ignited2Pray Ministries in in Blaine, MN, states:

“Did you know that in twenty of the world’s most primitive languages the word for believe is the same as the word for do?  That is something Wycliffe Bible translators have discovered in years of working to translate the Bible into the native language of remote people groups.  In other words, for those cultures, to believe something literally means to do something.  Faith and action are inseparable. Truth be told, that is the way God intends it.

Genuine faith is expressed through action.  This is a discovery that one readily makes when studying Hebrews 11 the great faith chapter of the Bible.  A careful reading of the account of Abraham, the father of our faith, in verses 8 through 19 underscores this truth like none other.”     (http://tomstuart.org/2010/10/20/believe-is-an-action-verb/)

So, like I said previously, even though there is a lot of “NEW” things for me out there in the world, there are some foundations that will stay the same.  I will continue to practice my faith… which the article above describes as my “active” believing of God and his Word, so that when the different, the difficult, the damaging and the unsettling things of life threaten me, I will automatically go into action… putting to work the things that I have continued to practice in my daily life!

What do you think about that idea?  Are there things/ways/procedures/foundations in your life that you practice on a regular basis in order to prepare you for the unseen things ahead… or in other words… things that you “actively” believe?  Maybe today is good time to start taking stock, prepare and then practice what is important to you!


Have a great new week ahead, and as you do, say with me: “I expect to practice my faith in order to be ready for whatever is in my future!”

Friday, October 12, 2018

It's Your Choice!


I was thinking while I sat warm and cozy in my La-Z-Boy chair yesterday, writing in my journal that I had entitled “Piper’s Story,” as the rain and wind were plummeting everything outside as a result of hurricane Michael, that we had established some important principles early on in our relationship.  With one of the first and foremost being, to do our best to create and maintain an attitude of joy in us and around us at all times!

And while this was not always the easiest of tasks, I think that in some respects with our personalities, it came somewhat easy to us.  I’ve heard it said many times that opposites attract, but I sure don’t see that a lot with Piper and I!  We both have had easy-going, patient, fun-loving, inquisitive, and sensitive natures about us.  That is what immediately drew me to that cute girl that always seemed to have a smile on her face back in High School!

I was telling someone the other day that I always loved to make Piper laugh (as she did with me as well)… even to the very end while I kneeled on the floor at her bedside in her final hours and found myself telling her funny stories from our past.  The ability to find something cheerful in almost any situation just seemed to come easy to us.  Or did it?

While I was thinking, praying, and writing about this during the blistery weather yesterday, I was quickly reminded of one of both Piper’s and my favorite scriptures that never went a day without being spoken out of our lips, usually on multiple occasions.  And that scripture is found in Psalm 118:24 where the Psalmist exults, “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (KJV) 

Over the years it became one of the first things we spoke out even before we got out of bed in the morning.  Many times, we sung it individually or together as we turned our heads on our pillows and smiled at each other!  I still do it to this day, although the only one I can sing it with now is the pooch, who normally only builds up enough energy to open up one eye and glance at me across the bedroom!

This verse holds what I believe to be one the major keys that helped us function effectively throughout the long years of our ordeal with Piper’s health.  To me the Psalmist, who most agree was David, starts with a statement of fact that my faith in God and His Word will not allow me to overlook.  Mainly, that God is the creator of this new day!  The initial and most popular usage of the Hebrew word “day” in this verse constitutes “a 24 hour period” (Brown Driver-Briggs) or as the Greek translation states: “The time between dawn and dusk.” (Strong’s)  This scripture therefore makes a good argument that David meant for the reader to take it for each and every new day!

The next part of the verse then tells us exactly what to do about it.  It declares, “we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  To me, he is giving us a command.  I’ve always read it as “I will to rejoice and be glad in it.”  It is a choice that each of us has to make each day!  Piper and I always understood it that way and decided that it was a deliberate decision that we would make each and every morning!  So… before our feet hit the ground, it was already decided that we were going to rejoice no matter what came up that day.

I’ve found that having already decided my reaction to the situations in daily life, quickly gives me the upper hand when things happen… especially if they are not too positive!  And it was that years-developed foundation that I believe gave us the ability to keep a smile on our face, Godly based expectation in our hearts and that “peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine” that “will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 God’s Word ©) throughout the incredibly tough events of the last 11+ years, while many around us fell to the wayside battling the effects of hopelessness, depression and/or confusion over what had happened to Piper.

As the results of all the tests and other information about Piper’s situation began to come in, the two of us simply continued to flow in an attitude of joy, knowing that our trust was in Him and that He would “not neglect nor abandon us” (See: Joshua 1:5)  Was it easy? NO!  Where there times when I found myself literally on my knees in the hallway, at the bottom of the stairs or on the kitchen floor crying out to Him? YES!  Did I ever lose my joy?  To be honest, NO -  but I did almost consider it for a few seconds… but the joy of the Lord was so engrained in me that there was no way I could ever give in or give up and go back to what...  anxiety, fear, depression or hopelessness?

NO!  NO! and NO!  That’s just not a part of who Piper and I were, and for her sake, I could not nor would not give up on Him or her in the greatest time in our lives where she needed me to be strong for her… as well as for me!

With her moving on to glory a month or so ago there have been many times where I seem to hurt all over while missing her.  Every time I see a couple smiling and/or laughing together I wonder if I’ll ever have that happiness again, for I can’t imagine having the closeness of the relationship we had with anyone else.  But then the Lord reminds me that while I may not have the physical happiness of being in her presence again (at least until I get to heaven), I can and will always have access to HIS JOY which isn’t dependent on physical situations but is able to cause me to rejoice and be glad no matter what… each and every day!  So why not choose to rejoice and be glad? 

What do you think?  If it worked for Piper and I it will work for you.  Have a super-duper weekend, and as you do, say with me, “I am expecting to rejoice and be glad for the day the Lord has made… just for me, today!”

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

SURPRISE!


I’ve told the story many times of when my wife and I, along with the kids, were camping up in the Sierra’s in northern California.  Our campsite that year was next to a small stream that meandered throughout the campgrounds.  If I remember correctly, we spent a good amount of time wading in that cold, snow melt fed stream on that vacation. 

On one afternoon after some relentless prodding, the kids and I actually got Piper to venture into the water all the way to her hips… and just when we thought that it couldn’t get any better than that, she suddenly dove underwater, shot out like an arrow and to our utter amazement yelled at the top of her lungs, “You didn’t think I’d do that, did you?”  To which we could only nod our heads as it took us TOTALLY by surprise!

Well… that TOTAL surprise and inability to speak and/or explain what I had just witnessed is exactly the same experience I had the first couple of years after our return home from our Bible School-driven move to Oklahoma.  There was just SO many emotional, mental, physical and spiritual realities going on as we finally began to get some informed details concerning the depth and speed of Piper’s health deterioration, a new demanding job that was keeping me out of town and away from the house for up to 12 hours a day, a breakdown of our former network of family and friends that we’d depended on previous to our move, and negative responses from family that were completely unexpected.

To say that my life was in a tailspin would be a grave understatement!  But as was the case throughout Piper’s and my marriage, we continued to turn to the Lord and his Word for direction.  As we began to focus fully on Him and the ways we believed He was calling us to follow, we started to discover the need to be strongly knowledgeable and convinced of our own faith in what we believed to be His truth for us and our path through the valley we had entered into.

It was also at this time that I began to really take notice of the atmosphere that Piper and I were being surrounded with.  At the beginning, I found myself just doing all the religious things that I had done before, thinking that this would be enough.  But after many weeks and months of growing confusion and frustration, I began to hear the Lord’s voice in me, distinctly calling me to step up… or in His exact words to: “Man-Up!”

Then, old familiar Bible verses like Nehemiah 8:10 began to repeatedly pop up in my head reminding me that “the joy of the LORD is my strength.” (KJV personalized).  While others encouraged me to Always be joyful in the Lord! I'll say it again: Be joyful!” (Philippians 4:4 God’s Word ©) And of course there was our old favorite that I’ve been talking about in recent blog posts where Peter seems to be making a clear connection between the action steps that we take while believing God and His Word, with our personal levels of joy saying: “you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith…” (I Peter 1:8-9 ESV)

I admit that it took awhile for the Lord to get through this thick head of mine, but I slowly began to see the utmost importance of keeping both Piper and I in an environment of JOY, praise and the confession of God’s Word… and as much as possible, AWAY from negative, depressive and/or discouraging venues.

I can remember the day I finally “got” this directive of the Lord like it was yesterday.  It was the day when I realized that my care for my sweet wife was to entail a lot more than just assuring that her physical needs were met, but also… and maybe more importantly, that her spiritual needs were met… on a daily basis!

So, with that understanding, I began to make a series of tough decisions that eventually led to our move out here to the east coast.  And you know, even though I dearly miss many of our family members and good friends back home, I have NEVER regretted that decision!

I like the wording of I Peter 1:9 in the Easy-To-Read Version of the Bible where it explains the results of our JOY infused steps of faith declaring that: “Your faith has a goal, and you are reaching that goal—your salvation.”

For, I have NO doubt that our consistent efforts to keep us in and then diligently protect the atmosphere of JOY that we surrounded ourselves with, caused that verse to become a reality in our lives!  A quick examination of the word “salvation” will note that the word used is a derivative of the Greek word “sozo” which encompasses many promises to the Christian who actively believe including: “to save, that is, deliver or protect (literally or figuratively): - heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole.” (Strong’s)

Well, while I am experiencing even greater times of emotional pain and duress every time I think about the absence of my lovely best friend and wife,* I am immediately reminded and re-filled with JOY in knowing that she is NOW at the goal of our faith, in the very midst of her “sozo” in heaven!

So, what more can I say?  Well… I actually do have a few more thoughts about the importance of a life of JOY which I’ll continue with in upcoming posts…  But until then… think about it for a few moments, and ask yourself… “How am I expecting to enter into and protect an atmosphere of JOY around me today?”



*I think I figured out that with all of the physical and legal details of Piper’s passing completed, that I am now free to simply focus on all of the special and countless memories that I hold dear to my heart concerning her wonderful qualities, high levels of spiritual discernment, her personal, mental, physical and moral characteristics, personal beauty and maybe most of all, her always abounding and seemingly never ending JOYFULNESS!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Be Full of Joy... what now?


I’ve been doing some thinking and Biblical study lately on the meaning and purpose of having Godly joy in our lives.  The word “joy” appears 63 times in the King James Version of the New Testament.  The vast majority of the uses of the word are the Greek word “chara” with the Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries number of 5479.  Strong’s defines it as “cheerfulness, calm delight,” While Thayer’s describes it simply as “gladness,” or “the cause or occasion of joy.”

So, what’s the big deal about “joy” in the life of a Christian?  Well, Peter seemed to connect being an active Believer with the attitude of joy when he told his readers in 1Peter 1:8 “yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:  (KJV)  The angel Gabriel made it pretty clear that the coming of Jesus and His gospel message was something for everyone to be joyful about when he told Mary, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11 KJV)

Jesus Himself talked about joy like it was not only an important characteristic for His followers to have, but something that would set them apart from the world in His absence.  He talked about having His joy being fulfilled in them when He prayed to the Father in the garden before His crucifixion saying, “When I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You have given Me I guarded; and not one of them is lost except the son of perdition, so that the Scripture might be fulfilled.  But now I am coming to You, and these things I speak in the world, so that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.” (John 17:12-13 EMTV)

He clarified that the reasons He taught His disciples was so that His joy would be a part of who they were, He declared: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may abide in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11 EMTV)  And the list goes on and on as all the writers of both the Old and New Testaments talk about the importance of joy in the life of the Israelites who obeyed the Law and then after Christ came, in the sons and daughters of God Almighty.

To me, one of the mightiest and most powerful and encouraging testimonies in the whole Bible is given by the Apostle Paul in the letter written from jail and his impending death to the Philippian church.  Biblical Scholar Finis Dake, describes Philippians as “The joy of Christian grace and experience in all of life and death.”  He then continues in the book comments section of his popular Bible translation “The Dake Annotated Reference Bible” stating that Paul “mentions ‘joy’ 14 times in the epistle. The key word is ‘rejoice.’ Christians are to rejoice in fellowship with one another; in afflictions of the gospel; in the ministry for saints, in faithfulness of ministers; in the Lord and not in Judaism or in the flesh; in unity, and always in all things.

I think that I might have had a revelation as I was studying some of this yesterday afternoon.  I have often times made the statement that one of the most outstanding lessons that Piper and I learned as we stood for her healing over the extended period of time of eleven plus years, was the importance of building and protecting our faith in order to guard our joy.  But you know… after some preliminary study on the importance of joy, I think that I may have had that truth backwards…  As I now read about faith in the New Testament, I am beginning to understand that Christians need first to build and protect their joy in order to guard their faith.

In our experience, it was our abounding joy in the face of the doubt and unbelief, the sad looks and depression of some that greeted us almost every time we walked out the door, and the discussions of medical science concerning the disease that plagued my wife, that greatly helped to keep us focused on what we believed… and I still do… to be the ultimate truth of God’s Word! (See: John 17:17, Psalm 119:160, Ephesians 4:21 and a whole host of other scriptures)  And where does faith come from… Your right, “by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17 KJV)

I recently read that “The second greatest thing that comes to us in the New Birth is joy (the first being the love nature of God).  This is something that makes trouble lose its grip upon us; makes poverty lose its terror.  It is the joy of the Lord.  And you remember that He said, ‘The joy of the lord shall be your strength.’  That was a prophecy.  Now Jesus said, ‘My joy I give unto you.’” (In His Presence, E.W Kenyon pgs 191-192)

I’m not sure how you reacted when you read that statement, but it definitely made me stand up and shout!  I’ll be sharing more about the importance of joy in coming posts as well as some of the harmful effects of a lack of joy that we saw demonstrated as we walked along the daily path of our journey. 

I am also seeing how important it is for me to stay in joy (no matter what!) as I painfully go through the events of the last month and begin to focus in on my future.  Hummm… this could be exciting after all!

Have a great new week, and as you do, keep declaring with me… “How am I expecting to keep His joy at the top of my priorities today?”