While living in the country, several years back, our family had a Christmas custom. Each year we would search our pastures and cut down a scrub pine for our Christmas tree. After cutting down our find, and hauling it home, the real work began…at least for Jerry. Wrestling the prickly branches, he would valiantly struggle to set the tree straight in the stand under the direction of 4 women, each with a different opinion! Once secure, we proceeded to clear out the spider webs, stray grass, an occasional bird’s nest and give it a good spraying with Raid in case any” critters” were still in residence! Next Jerry would turn it like a slow top as we determined the best side to face the room.
One particular Christmas, the girls decided this would be the year of the PERFECT TREE. They became a self-appointed committee of three, and thus was born The O.C.T.S.C. (Official Christmas Tree Selection Committee.) It just so happened that a friend with a great deal of land (I’m talking miles) gave us permission to search for a tree. The big day arrived, and as we loaded up to leave, the girls INSISTED and PLEADED to bring two of our new puppies, and rather porky puppies at that! All three made death promises to carry the pups and take care of them. Against my better judgement I caved in. So off we went, Jerry, the Kindly Woodsman; me, the soon to be Keeper of the Puppies; the O.C.T.S.C., and 2 fat black, 6 week old, tons of lard with their whines on continuous play.
Upon arrival, we all tumbled out of the truck, to find just a few feet away, a darling little tree. Jerry told the girls, There is the perfect tree. It is the right size, shape and everything! The O.C.T.S.C. met for a quick consultation, and assuming this was a ploy to shorten the adventure, quickly declared the tree: Imperfect.
You see, we were dealing with a logistics problem here also. Our house was built by a man around 5 ft. tall with a family all under 5ft. Therefore, with them in mind, the house only had 7 ft. ceilings! A tree stand would add another 8”-10” to the tree height! Add to this problem, a 12’ x 12’ livingroom, with a couch, chairs, end tables, coffee table, an old upright piano (amazing isn’t it?), and a dangerous O.C.T.S.C. with BIG ideas.
The Kindly Woodsman tried to discuss it with the Committee, but to no avail. Venturing off through the woods, we found the trees were thick. Quickly, the girls asked me to hold the puppies, just until we got through the brush. Foolishly, I took them. Shrill yelps soon rang out because they were cold, so I tucked them into my coat. Trudging along through thick brush with my grunting load, I felt like I was 8 months pregnant! Shortly, came the unmistakable little howl and wiggle, time for a potty stop. Once on the ground their full bladders forgotten, they scattered in several directions at once! Following a fast skirmish, pups securely in my coat again, I looked up to see the O.C.T.S.C. and the Kindly Woodsman far ahead!. In a loud voice I threatened them to wait for me! Though peeved at my interference of such important affairs, they tramped back. Heated discussion ensued. The solution was proposed that the puppies be put in the truck, but the decision was unanimous that poopy puppy was a name truly earned. (Not to mention it was Pappaw’s truck!) Laying down the law, I gave each girl a puppy and a stern reprimand to care for them.
Off we ventured again. The girls were having a time. The pups were so fat they didn’t fit in the in their small coats; if they their coats were zipped, the pups howled in pain; if their coats were unzipped the pups popped out, and the girls couldn’t keep warm. Grudgingly, I took on my pregnancy once again. After 2 potty stops for the puppies, the brush began to clear, I thought things were looking up. . . that was until I looked down! Before us was a ravine with a nearly straight 15 ft. drop down and 15 ft. straight up the other side. To make matters worse, there was no way around it! A pathetic whine arose; I don’t know if it was the pups, me, or both! The O.C.T.S.C. gave a gleeful shout. My legs were already so scratched and bleeding from the brush, they resembled two scratching posts that had serviced a dozen cats! Sympathetically, the Kindly Woodsman took the pups and he and the girls plunged into the adventure ahead, sliding down, holding on to roots, rocks or whatever they could grab, with their laughter echoing through the woods. Down one side and up the other they went with great ease. Impatiently they waited on the other side as I struggled, giving more blood donations along the way. Clawing the dirt with my fingernails, I finally drug myself over the edge, and was promptly handed 2 pudgy, squealing puppies. Faithfully depositing them in my coat, I heard no protests.
A new clearing revealed few trees, but was covered in coarse brush with hills perfect for a roller coaster site. The further I went, the heavier the pups grew. Viewing tree after tree, the O.C.T.S.C. smugly reassured us. – No that’s not the perfect tree. We’ll know it when I see it,
One and a half hours later of this intense, grueling expedition, we came upon . . . . . the same ravine. Mastering it a second time we walked a little further and a small clearing opened up. Suddenly awe struck gasps and cries rang out from the O.C.T.S.C.!! Before us, in all its glory, towering 15 feet above our heads was the PERFECT TREE!!
“THAT’S IT! THAT’S IT!” they hollered, jumping up and down. Valiantly the Kindly Woodsman tried to reason with them. They stubbornly stuck with their decision, and after a long discussion agreed to let him cut the top out. Heading back to the truck for a bigger ax, we all turned and saw the truck sitting only 30 ft. from us; we had made a complete very large circle!!
Tree cut and loaded, we jumped into the truck, frozen and bleeding. Immediately the girls wanted to hold the pups!! (Wouldn’t you know it?!)
In the livingroom, we found the perfect tree, had to have about 1 ft. cut off 3 different times! Each time Jerry drug it in and out of our tiny living room, up and down the porch steps. Anchored in its stand, it looked somewhat less than perfect. The lower branches still reached out to the sofa and chairs grappling toward us like octopus tentacles. One by one, these branches were shortened. Huge gaping holes appeared in the tree. You can imagine what it looked like!! What looked great in the forest in the top of a tree looked pathetic in a little farmhouse livingroom with midget ceilings! The O.C.T.S.C. was in tears and angrily accused, “What have you done to our perfect tree!? You ruined it! “
We comforted the girls and tried to explain what happened. The usual decorating frenzy followed and we filled in the holes with lots of tinsel, garland, and ornaments. We were thankful that one side of it HAD to sit next to the wall! Sitting around the tree, admiring the lights and ornaments, with the branches tickling at our knees, I heard one of the girls say, You know, we should have picked the very first tree Daddy showed us, it was perfect. Two other distant sounding, sad voices echoed in agreement. Of course, we had a very Merry Christmas, but the girls learned a great lesson.
Isn’t that how it is in the lives of so many? What are you searching for – the perfect spouse, the perfect church, the perfect pastor, the perfect job…? How many of you are putting yourself and others through pain, sorrow, frustration, disappointment, and failure in pursuit of your object of perfection? The quest for perfection has left a trail of devastation in lives everywhere. After the supposed perfect person/situation is found, and after all reality trims away the infatuation, we see our find is far less than ideal. Tragically we realize that which we rejected as flawed was better than what we have now and far more valuable than we had known. In the coming year let’s limit our quest for perfection to ourselves and becoming more like the perfect Bethlehem Babe whose birth we celebrate this month. Merry Christmas and God Bless Each of You!
This was published in the Oklahoma Missionary Baptist Paper in 2000.


Devotional by Marilyn Starzer

A dear friend of mine Marilyn Starzer shared this devotional with me, and I wanted to share it with others. I know you will be blessed as I was. Marilyn is the author of the newly published book, Sometimes We Have No Choice. Please watch for it on my blog, I will be reviewing it in the future. Thank you Marilyn for sharing this!

I have relied on certain scriptures for years, especially the following one. It has allowed me to tackle some projects I really wasn’t qualified for. Philippians 4:13 states ” I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” James 1:22 states “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”I John 5:14 & 15 “If we ask according to His will, He hears us and if He hears us we know that we have what we asked”. I would like to share with you about once when I had to rely all of them..
The church we attended in Anchorage, Alaska asked for volunteers to start a craft class at the local nursing home teaching knitting and crocheting. While I was no teacher or expert in either, I knew how to do both and thought I could be a helper. I had no idea the challenge a nursing home presents but there were 5 volunteers that Sunday so I would not be alone. When the day arrived only 4 of us attended with 2 leaving right away due to the atmosphere. However, 5 women patients had shown up hoping for a class. The following week I arrived with materials to find I was the only one who had returned. The expectant looks on the ladies faces convinced me I had to do the best I could. I several times asked God to please get me out of this but I guess the answer was no. The challenges were numerous; a lady who had gone blind and wanted to learn how to knit by feel, several who loved to try to put something over on me from hiding supplies to tales of stolen false teeth to a gentleman who played the accordion and continually disrupted the class wanting the ladies to dance with him, even me. Many times I told God, “You got me into this so please give me the help you promised.” Several projects were completed when a young man from Kodiak informed me he was an artist and would like to paint. I contacted my art guild and they supplied easels, canvases and paint. Then I had an art class, also with several more joining who wanted to learn. Again, I was not a teacher and a novice myself but we muddled through and they did some nice work so I requested a flat for them at our next art show. A couple of the better ones sold and the Guild bought the rest.. Since they had all sold, the following week I had a class of ‘Rembrandts’ being led by an amateur. One amputee due to diabetes, wanted to do a still life of flowers for her daughter. I had never done either but again muddled through all the time petitioning God to guide me as He knew I couldn’t do it alone. We finished it then she wanted to do another for her son. Hoping she only had 2 children, I helped her get it sketched and about a third finished when the next week she was not in class. I inquired and was informed she had passed away. I had to cancel class that day and go home but I showed up the following week and continued for 5 years.
I tell you all this to tell you they taught ME some very valuable lessons: the accordion player taught me to enjoy life no matter what your circumstances, the two mischievous ladies taught me to laugh and make your own fun, the blind lady taught me not to stop trying and do the best with what I had and the diabetic lady taught me to give whatever I could and not feel sorry for myself. I was able to show them God’s faith and love. I DID come to love them all and I believe what I learned there enabled me to deal with the events coming in my own family. I am so glad I didn’t let my lack of confidence or faith cheat me out of the lessons and friendships.
2Chronicles 16:9 states:”For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
I believe this and Hebrews 10:23 states:” Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful.”


I recently received my 15th “LAST” notice from Fingerhut warning me that without an order I would not receive any more catalogs. The notice read, “We’re sorry, but unless you order something, this could be the last catalog we send you. Don’t take a chance!”
I throw away my “last” catalog and go on. As sure as night follows day, another one comes in the mail. I have yet to be taken off the mailing list! Have you ever stopped to think, what would we do if God sent us a final notice concerning certain matters in our lives? How many of us would treat it as I do my catalog, toss it in the trash, and proceed with life as usual? What would you do if God sent you a final notice? I can think of several areas people commonly neglect and take for granted.
One of the most important is our relationship with Christ. Do you claim to know Christ as your Savior but in your heart you know you are lost? Maybe you have always had doubts about your salvation, but you push those concerns aside and never make sure your eternal destiny. Have you felt the Holy Spirit convicting you of your need to be saved, but continue to put it off until tomorrow? Let’s say tomorrow you received a letter from God that read, “I’m sorry, but unless you accept Christ right now, this could be the last time you ever can. Don’t take a chance!” For those who are unsaved each moment they are alive may be their last chance to be saved. Death may come or Christ may break the Eastern sky. None of us know when either will occur. “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2
Perhaps your salvation is sure, but God has laid someone on your heart that you need to go witness to. Has fear of rejection or indifference prevented you from obeying now? Most would profess, “Boy, a letter like that would sure get my attention! I’d take care of it right away!”
I’m sorry but I don’t believe you would. You see, God has already sent notices in His Word sharing His good news with others and you’re disregarding them.” And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” Luke 14:23
Let’s think about a few other notices we might receive as Christians. What if your notice read:
“This could be your last chance to pray!” Who and what would you pray for? For forgiveness, wisdom, protection, friends, family, the lost? How frightening to think of having no way to speak to God and have Him hear us! Prayer is a privilege and a gift that we cast aside so carelessly. If prayer was so important to Jesus, it should be just as important to us. “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” Isaiah 55:6
“This could be your last chance to read your Bible!” Where would you begin? What verses would you read? Would you frantically attempt to memorize large portions? This is not so far-fetched, just ask Christians in those countries who have no Bibles. We of all people across time and even in the present have unequaled access to owning and reading all of God’s Word. He has faithfully protected His inspired Word throughout the ages for us to have, yet we frequently disregard it. Other reading material such as novels, magazines, newspapers, and internet articles take the place of the Bible. Have you ever thought about spending an equal amount of time reading the Scriptures as you do other things?
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
2 Timothy 3:15-17
“This could be your last chance to attend church!” Here is another condition that is not as outlandish as it sounds. It is reality in much of the world and becoming even more so as time goes on. Everyone wants a good Bible believing church to attend, support them, and call upon in times of need, request prayer, and fellowship with. Then why do members treat worship attendance as a hobby instead of an honor and command of God? In America, countless churches close each year due to indifference. It’s one of those things we will not realize the importance of what we have until we lose it. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25)
What other “last chance” notices might God send? Truly take time to stop and think – Your last time to: obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit, use one of your talents in His service, teach your children about Jesus. Try making your own list to search your heart and priorities.
The realization that something is going to be taken away always creates urgency, or a deadline, that motivates us to action. It also brings to light the value of what we have taken for granted. Sadly, if finality is all that opens our eyes to the importance of what we have neglected, we may be too late. Don’t wait for your final notice, act now!
Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, September 2014


Most of the time when you think of convents, you picture sedate nuns, reciting prayers or chants in quite, peaceful surroundings. In India, a passerby might be shocked at the sounds wafting over a convent wall in Madras. They would hear deep-throated grunts that usually accompany a fight, and the whack of calloused hands splitting bricks! This convent puts its nuns through a 45 day karate class before they go out to visit and work for their church! This bizarre training began after several nuns were threatened, harassed, some even raped, murdered, and beaten when visiting in nearby villages. The oldest nun to take the course was 66!
This is no course for wimps! Nuns are also taught to counter knife attackers and throw strategic punches to their assailants. So serious are they about their training that they even form a line on the ground, face down, while a jeep rolls over their outstretched hands to toughen them!! These ladies willingly endure all this, just to journey out and fulfill what they believe is a work for the Lord! Think about it!. . . Women, many of them elderly, facing rigorous training, confronting hostile people, hazarding dangerous situations, and risking their lives for God, when they aren’t even leading lost people to the saving knowledge of Christ! In contrast, most of our churches cannot get a handful out each week to visitation and sometimes even church services!
Some of the excuses that are heard from Christians are: “I’m afraid to visit people! I wouldn’t know what to say! I couldn’t handle it if someone slammed a door in my face! I don’t want to make people angry! I just don’t visit! I have don’t have time! I’m too tired after working all day!” You could probably add many more excuses, maybe some of your own! Keep in mind; these are usually supplied just for being asked to invite people to church! Fewer folks even consider witnessing!
I can just see the Sunday bulletin note now:
This week the pastor will have everyone lay on the ground while he rolls over their fingers with his car. Afterwards we will each split a few bricks. We will then have prayer asking God’s protection from murder and beatings, before going on visitation. Everyone come and do a work for the Lord!
How many would show up for visitation then?! Can the number really get much less? We should be ashamed of ourselves! As saved people, Christ lives in us, and we have the Gospel to share with others that they might be spared an eternity of suffering! Someone cared enough to share it with us! If these nuns can endure such pain, and face real dangers, why can’t we go out once a week to visit and witness?!
So what if someone gets angry or shuts a door in our face?! These occurrences are rare anyway. No, we don’t need karate training. We need “heart training” in commitment, a love for lost souls, obedience to God’s Word, and a true desire to serve Christ. We need to “toughen” ourselves against worldly living, worldly thinking, selfishness, laziness, and hearts that are cold toward God.
You may say, “Well my church doesn’t have visitation.” That doesn’t let any of us off the hook. We all go to the stores, the gas station, the doctor, and multiple other places where we come in contact with people every day. Those are opportunities to share Christ and what He has done for you, and to invite others to church. Visitation isn’t limited to a church scheduled time or date. It should be a part of our daily lives!
If you’re saved, you’re not too young (teens this includes you), nor too old to fulfill your responsibility to reach the lost for Christ and invite others to His House.
And the Lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. Luke 15:23
We need to get onto the “highways” where the people are and get off the dirt roads. We need to get out into the “hedges” where things might be a little uncomfortable and thorny, and quit sitting among the daisies! With all the events in the news it is clear Christ’s coming is VERY near! Once He returns, those we are neglecting and could reach will not have another chance, just an eternity of torment in Hell. You notice the Lord’s words begin with an action verb, “Go”. That means it is a command from Him, not an option!
Our churches are definitely not full. Have you been neglecting visiting and witnessing? Ask God to forgive you and guide you. Ask Him to send you those searching for Him and for an answer to their life’s struggles. Ask Him to make you strongly aware of those moments so you will not pass them by. Our fears come from Satan to discourage us in obeying the Lord and delivering the lost from his clutches. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
God will give you the courage and words to say, all you must do is obey the Great Commission. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Matthew 28:19
Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, August 2014


I have mixed emotions about snow. It is peacefully beautiful to look at, but it has an ugly side too. Let me explain. Several years ago, we lived 15 miles out in the country, but attended church in town. It was a bitterly cold day and heavy snow had been predicted. By the time church services were out, snow flurries were quickly covering the ground. We lingered in town and ate lunch.
About 2:00 p.m. we decided we should head home as the snowfall was increasing. By the time we turned down the country road about, 2 miles from our house, the drifts were incredibly deep, and it was snowing extremely hard. All went well until we started up a hill and it quickly became evident; there was no way we could make it! Jerry decided he would walk to a neighbor’s house about ½ a mile away and borrow his tractor to pull us up the hill. He bundled up, left the van running, and admonished us to stay inside and keep warm.
Time seemed to stand still. I pictured my poor husband trudging through the steep drifts in his suit and dress coat, and then having to ride back down in the frigid weather on a tractor.
A brilliant idea flashed through my brain! I would get the van unstuck, drive to Ralph’s house, and surprise him! Visions of Jerry’s astonished face flashed across my mind, his overwhelming pride at his wife’s problem solving ability, and his gratitude for being spared all that hard, cold walk. Yes! I knew I could do it! I had no doubt! I told the girls to bow their heads, and we would pray for the Lord’s guidance and help. All the time they were whimpering, “Oh no Mommy! Please listen to Daddy! Please don’t do anything!” Their pleading aggravated me but it wasn’t without cause, they had been with me on similar missions before!
I took a deep breath, sure of my victory, and began our rescue efforts. I had seen Jerry go in forward and reverse rocking the van to free it. “Piece of cake” I thought, “we’ll be outta here in no time!” By now the girls were sobbing and pleading. Back and forth, back and forth I rocked the van, over and over, turning the wheel and trying different angles. Yep! In no time at all….we were stuck fast and the engine died. There we sat, snuggly “secure” in the snow and now with no heater! The children’s imploring faces were replaced by grim expressions carved in stone. I flashed them the “hairy eyeball” and that kept any comments at bay, but I could still feel their menacing looks boring through the back of my head.
Our fingers and toes went numb from the cold. Finally Jerry and Ralph arrived with the tractor. I was right, boy was he surprised! But the emotions that showed on his face weren’t pride and gratitude! My rescue effort had formed a 3 foot snow bank in front of the van. Snow was literally packed up into the motor where the belt couldn’t turn, and the back end had slid off the road. The tractor couldn’t even budge it, little lone pull it up the hill. The sun had sat by now and it was bitter cold. Two at a time we mounted each side of Ralph’s tractor (Sunday dresses and shoes), and held on as he drove us the 1 ½ miles home. It took 3 trips to get all of us, a total of 7 ½ miles! When we were safely home, the biting cold outside didn’t even compare with the icy glares of my family. I was so intimidated; I didn’t even jostle for my position in front of the wall heater! As they stood there in a shivering group, the girls scowling at me, Jerry finally spoke. “Sweetheart, next time you decide to help me, PLEASE DON’T!”
I wonder, how many times has God said those exact same words to me? He created the heavens and the earth, the human race, all plants and animals; parted the Red Sea, turned water into wine, and saved my soul from hell; how could I think He needs my help?! Having full knowledge of these facts, I still find times when I step in to “help” God. Just like my winter rescue mission, my efforts end in disaster, leaving God with a lot of “clean up” work to fix the mess I made.
How can we know if God is prompting us to act in a certain situation, or we are just jumping in to “run the show” for Him? Here are a few lessons I learned:
Keep a close relationship with the Lord.
The sheep can’t hear the shepherds voice if the wander too far. Keep a close walk with Him. When we neglect prayer and Bible reading, we tend to drift from His side. We wander too far away to hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit guiding us. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” John 10:27
Satan will be able to creep in and put thoughts into our minds, making us think it is our own idea. “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.”
1 Chronicles 21:1
God always gives clear direction.
The Lord never fails to give us clear direction in what He would have us do. He promises us His guidance. It is our own desires and temptations that often cloud our vision from seeing His leadership clearly. “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Psalms 32:8
God want us to succeed. He is on our side! He doesn’t play games or speak to us in riddles. His guidance is easy to understand. The problem comes when we don’t trust Him or try to make His leading match our desires. This again opens the door for the devil to get us off track and on his course. When confusion enters the situation, KNOW it is NOT God. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints”. 1 Corinthians 14:33
Obey Him in the things you know are His will.
Most Christians know without a doubt, basic principles that God wants us to obey. (If you don’t find someone who does and start studying!) We often by pass them because of their simplicity. We are fueled by our own desires. If we don’t do what we do know, how can He show us more? We wouldn’t be able to apply the new information. God doesn’t make things hard, we do! Start with what you do know and He will light your way. “But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.” Jeremiah 7:23
So next time you want to help God “fix things” PLEASE DON’T! He can handle everything fine all by Himself!
Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, July 2014


My parents both enjoyed roller skating even before they were married and had me. They never dreamed their simple pleasure would be passed down to me in a big way. I remember the first time they took me skating when I was about 6 years old. The rink was big, noisy, and exciting! I was quivering with anticipation and could hardly sit still as Daddy laced up my skates. He helped me down the steps, placed my small hands on the rail, and gave me instructions to stay close to the handrail and make my way around the edge. Off Daddy flew on his skates leaving me to learn on my own. Quite the optimist and with great expectations I was very surprised when my first attempts met with a hard fall, one of many.
As I struggled along, my eyes became riveted to the center of the rink. There skaters were doing jumps, spins and figures. That’s what I wanted to do! I just knew if I could make it to that magic area in the middle of the rink I could do the same! Why not?! I began my painful, slow journey to my goal, roll, fall, get up, roll, fall, get up . . . As I plodded along, people whizzed by me on all sides. The good Lord protected me and oncoming skaters from being seriously hurt, because halfway there Daddy scooped me up and returned me to the cursed rail.
He gave me a stern lecture about not obeying him. I tried to explain to him that I didn’t want to do any rinky dinky (pardon the pun) stuff like that! I wanted to go out and do jumps and spins like the other skaters! I never considered I couldn’t do these things, to me it was just a matter of getting out there. Dad gave me a firm “no”, explaining that first I had to learn to stand up and SKATE. I was to say the least put out by his lack of understanding!
Then with a smile he said, “If you can go all the way around the rink once, I will buy you a coke.” My young, short attention span quickly diverted to the promised treat. I smiled and told Daddy it was a deal. Relieved that he had distracted my unrealistic ambition he went off to skate leaving me to keep up the end of the bargain. With all the strength my little arms could muster, I stiffened my legs, grabbed onto the rail and hand over hand pulled myself around the rink with only a few minor mishaps. As I approached my starting point I saw my Dad and hollered, “I did it!” His brow wrinkled as he said, “But you didn’t SKATE around the around the rink, you PULLED yourself around the rink!” “Yes”, I replied with my brightest smile, ‘but you didn’t say I had to skate, you just said I had to ‘go around’ and I did. Can I have my coke now?” Daddy shook his head and sighed as if I had taken advantage of our “gentleman’s” agreement. Nevertheless, he took my hand and rolled me to the snack bar. I remember contentedly sitting and drinking my coke and watching the other skaters pass by. Little did either of us know that night that a fire was lit within me. “Many years later, after 1000’s of hours of practice and 1000’s of dollars of my Daddy’s hard earned money, I did master those figures, jumps and spins, winning competitions as a competitive skater.
As a child I was trying to do everything backwards. Now being a youngster I had an excuse, but what about now? There are so many areas we as Christians attempt to do this very thing. We deceive ourselves into thinking we can do things in reverse and it will bring success. Satan is working right along with us and loving every minute of it when we put the ideas of the flesh before the wisdom of the Lord. He knows if he can perpetuate this method of thinking, that we will be caught in an unending circle of frustration and discouragement.
One of the most dangerous backwards thinking notions is concerning the lost. A person believes they cannot accept Christ as their Savior until they start living a better life. As children of God, we can see that there is no way to overcome sin without Christ living in you. Yet for the unsaved this can be a real stumbling block straight into hell. We have had people say, “Well I can’t come to church until I stop drinking (or gambling, or just fill in the blank with any sin)”. What they don’t realize is the devil will make SURE they continue to sin! For a couple of years Jerry and I witnessed to a wonderful, caring lady who was struggling with this perilous assumption. Finally one Sunday morning as she sat in tears wanting to be saved but feeling she could not, a light came on! She realized we are all unworthy and He wants us just as we are. She joyfully asked Jesus to save her and a few years later, on her death bed, she had complete joy and peace of where she would spend eternity.
2 Corinthians 6:2b “. . . behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”
Busyness is an epidemic in the 21st Century. It not only distracts us from what is important but has turned into a common excuse for not taking care of priorities. Those trapped fail to realize it is simply Satan’s merry-go-round. A never ending circle of “have to’s” that will never end until we step off and put God’s things first. How many times has your Bible reading and time with prayer dwindled to nothing and you told yourself, “When I am not so busy, then I will start spending time with the Lord.” 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Study takes time, diligence, and daily effort. Aren’t you persistent in making sure that your children do their homework each night? It is necessary for them to learn and apply that knowledge. Don’t you make a concentrated effort to spend time with your family? Relationships require consistent attention to create communication, strong bonds, and love. Do these things not apply to God’s Word and your relationship with Him? Once again the Devil will make sure you are “always” busy!
What about your service to the Lord? The same “backward thinking” rings loud and clear here also. We will be faithful to attend church when “things slow down”. It’s the same old merry-go-round we’re just riding a different horse! How about “Well, Sunday is my only day off!” God created that day as a day of rest and to worship Him, not for our sleep and recreation!” He gave you 6 days to take care of your stuff, Sunday is His! Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Another favorite on the “do it in reverse list” concerns God’s money. Yes, His money. All we have belongs to Him and He shares generously. He allows us to keep 90% and all He asks for is 10%, a dime on every dollar. Pretty fair don’t you think? Yet only 5 percent of Christians in the U.S. tithe. The majority of churches everywhere struggle financially with numerous ones even closing their doors. All the while, God’s money sits in the pockets of many members. Prayer requests for financial blessings and help are commonly heard, yet many often wonder why God does not answer. I would venture to say most Christians want to tithe, but they are waiting until the “bills are caught up” and they are “out of debt”. They will never achieve that goal, and the will continue to battle making ends meet, because they are doing it backwards. They rob God (yes steal from Him) and the expect Him to bless them! “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” Malachi 3:8
Only when we are obedient to God will He bless us. Malachi 3:10, shows us this promise. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
Lastly one of the area’s where backwards living does the most damage is in relationships. It makes for miserable marriages, unhappy families, fractured friendships, unbearable workplaces, and churches filled with discord and contention. The motto here tends to me, “Do unto me THEN I’ll do unto you.” The rational is, “When you start treating me right, I’ll treat you right. Change your attitude and I’ll change mine. Respect me, and then I will respect you. Be loving to me and then I will be loving to you.” In print here it looks ridiculous and immature doesn’t it? Yet in a huge majority of Christian lives today, it appears reasonable and logical. Well it may be to them but it is not to God!
He is our ultimate example of love and mercy. He loves us with Agape love: unselfish, sacrificial, and unconditional. It loves without reservation never considering if the one receiving of it is worthy or will respond in like manner. This is how He wants us to love, expecting nothing in return. “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” John 15:12. In fact, the more we love and the less it is returned, the more God is glorified. This will not only free you from bitterness, anger, and conflict, but it will allow the Lord to work through you in the lives of others in amazing ways. Expecting God to bless us when we disobey or before we obey qualifies for Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
Backwards living just doesn’t work! It won’t bring our desired success. It’s God’s way or no way!
Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, June 2014


Growing up in Dallas, I had never been to, nor heard of, an All Night Gospel Singing, until I married and moved to Oklahoma. In the early 70’s, I had my first experience with one at the age of 18. One summer night Jerry’s boss invited us to attend one with him in Konawa. He was a distinguished businessman and always dressed in expensive 3-piece suits with ties. Immaculate and meticulous best describe his appearance at all times. Therefore, it was no surprise that night when he wore a white suit, white vest, white shirt, white tie, and white shoes.
It was a beautiful summer night; the pleasant warm breeze blew gently, as we sat in the darkness, listening to beautiful inspirational songs. During an intermission time, Mr. Zellman (name has been changed to protect the victim) offered to buy us refreshments. The child ever within me, I chose my favorite, cotton candy. We returned to our seats, and Mr. Zellman was sitting next to me sharing information about the musicians, many of whom were his friends. As I ate my cotton candy, I realize that gentle summer breeze was melting it. I made quite a mess for 18 and had my face and hands coated. Mr. Zellman, always a gentleman, offered his handkerchief, and Jerry made a valiant effort to help clean me up. With a cup of water from a concession stand and the handkerchief, I was able to make myself presentable again.
We left around 10:30 p.m. and made our way to the parking lot. We thanked Mr. Zellman for his hospitality and generosity. As we stopped under one of the street lights, Jerry and I saw something that made us freeze in our tracks . . . Mr. Zelleman’s expensive white suit was covered in a fine web of pink cotton candy!! A spider couldn’t have done a better job incasing him!
The summer breeze had not only melted my cotton candy as I so vigorously ate it, but it had blown fine strands all over his suit!! He discovered it about the same time we did. As I apologized profusely, he began a fruitless attempt to brush it off and in the process, became a sticky mess. He assured me it was okay as he stiffly walked to his car. Jerry and I stared at each other in horror, wondering if he would have a job the next day. The mess I had made was hidden as long as we sat in the dark, but as soon as we walked into the light, it was plain for all to see.
We live in a time of great darkness in America. Our lives been have customized and designed to cater our desires, rather than to honor and glorify God. Our modern way of life keeps us in spiritual darkness, rotting our souls and drawing our energy and attention from God and His ways.
The following scripture certainly characterizes the attitude some Christians display toward sin in their lives. “He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.” Psalm 10:6
Too many live in a perpetual state of denial concerning their Christian walk. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8
Therefore, no concern is shown for how far they have drifted from God or how deep in the shadows they wander. “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” Psalm 10:4
Even though we may fail to see the mess we are making in our lives, we are still held accountable. Christ lives in us; therefore we have no justifiable excuse (not that any ever are!) for neglecting our responsibilities to God. He makes that clear in that we have no business stumbling around in the dark. 1Thessalonians 5:5, “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.”
If that doesn’t convince you, read 1 Peter 2:9 and Ephesians 5:8, 11.
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” 1 Peter 2:9
“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them”
Ephesians 5:8-11
God minces no words in who we are and what we should be doing!
If we continue to live in defiance to God’s will and ways, He will respond like a mother dragging a dirty, kicking, screaming child in for a much needed bath. He will bring us into His light. “For nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.” Luke 8:17
We have to be brutally honest with ourselves concerning our spiritual condition, and why we refuse to acknowledge God’s guidelines and plans. God knows us better than we know ourselves and gives us the answer in John 3:19b-20. “ . . .men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”
As His children we have no right to choose what we do with our time and lives without including His direction. This especially holds true concerning our obligations to Him. We just have no right! “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
We need to quit sitting in our churches, patting ourselves on the back, telling ourselves what fine Christians we are and what a great job we are doing for the Lord. When in reality we are just serving our own interests and desires. We’re doing nothing but lying to ourselves. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:” 1 John 1:6
Any country boy or girl knows when you straddle the fence you don’t get anywhere, and you usually end up with a seat full of splinters or barbed wire! Neither is very appealing! This is no time to straddle the fence brothers and sisters in Christ!
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” Romans 13:12
Our job assignment in a nutshell is in Acts 26:18. “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”
There’s only one thing left to do! Let’s all get out those spiritual hankies, some Living Water, clean up the messes in our lives, and get busy for Him!
Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, August 2002, and April 2014

ONCE UPON A TIME . . . by Narita Roady

When the girls were small, one of their favorite books was Green Eggs and Ham. They recited each page by memory. Oh, how wonderful they thought it would be to eat green eggs and ham for breakfast! At that time, it was a Saturday morning tradition for Dad to cook breakfast. Jerry’s menu was quite short: scrambled eggs, toast, and rarely, a slice of ham. His customers clamored for more variety.
One morning, in an attempt to satisfy, he added blue and pink food coloring to the scrambled eggs. He solemnly explained to our puzzled daughters that the blue ones would have been boy chicks and the pink ones girls. Awed by their father’s scientific genius (?), they seriously ate their gourmet spread. Unfortunately, knowing which bundle of joy each egg held was sadly too personal, so Dad went back to his original menu.
Complaints broke out afresh! This drove Chef Roady into his culinary bag of tricks once again! Soon, Dad announced a special breakfast, and to their amazement their favorite book came to life! Their dream came true; a steaming plate of green eggs and ham! They seemed a little less excited, but none the less, suitably impressed. They dutifully ate their meal. When asked their opinion, they looked up and smiled with lips, teeth, and gums glowing a ghastly green. In unison they chanted, “Very good Daddy”.
The meal took them a bit longer than usual to finish, and I think I detected a tint of green in their faces that had nothing to do with food coloring! Later, three little green mouth goblins said, “Daddy, we like the book about
green eggs and ham, but we don’t think we like to eat them, OK? ”
They never had to again. For several days, each time they spoke, I felt like the mother of young lizards instead of children!
We frequently laugh at a small child’s belief in storybook fantasy. How could they believe something so ridiculous? We chalk it up to their immaturity and gullibility. Okay, what excuse do we make for ourselves as mature, wise adults when we believe Satan’s storybook ideas? Here are just a few of his myths we fall for:
1. Material Possessions Bring Happiness
2. Disobeying God Won’t Hurt Me
3. Financial Security Will Solve All My Problems
4. It Doesn’t Matter How I Treat Others, Only How They Treat Me
5. It’s Okay to Do Wrong If I Don’t Get Caught
6. I Can Watch, Listen to, and Read Anything I Want (no matter how sinful and wicked) but It Won’t Affect Me
7. Position, Praise, and Attention of Others Will Make Me Content
8. If I Just Had *(you fill in the blank)*, I Would Be Happy, And Wouldn’t Need Anything Else
9. Just This One Time Won’t Hurt
10. Leaving God Out of My Life Won’t Matter
11. My Feelings Justify How I Act and Treat Others
Need I go further? When it comes to the world, Satan lures us in the same way. We allow ourselves to be drawn into the fantasy land he weaves where evil is good, and good is evil. He twists the truth to appear that harmful choices benefit and beneficial choices harm us. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” 1 Peter 5:8 Do not be fooled, Satan is real and operating full speed ahead around us.
He deceives us into believing that all he offers us in obtaining our deepest desires will bring us joy, fulfillment, and contentment. Talk about a fairy tale! In Satan’s make believe land, we think the Creator of Heaven and Earth, who sees all, hears all, and knows all that is within our hearts and minds, will be unaware of our transgressions against Him and His Word! “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.
His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them.
He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.
His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.
He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.” Psalms 10:4-7;11
“ The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.” Psalm 94:11
With imaginations like that, kids don’t hold a candle to us! Little ones sometimes have difficulty in discerning between truth and make believe. “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” 1 Corinthians 13:11
As born-again Christians, we are without excuse. Not only do we have the truth in God’s Word, but we also have the Holy Spirit to guide us if we will yield to Him
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” John 16:13
Our girls learned a valuable lesson that day, but so did I. They learned that fleshly desires do not satisfy as they promise to, and appearances can be deceitful. I learned it takes green food coloring a LONG time to wear off little teeth and tongues!
Let’s make the Bible our favorite book, and its Truth, our key to a truly extraordinary life filled with wonderful things beyond our imaginations!
“But it is written, Eye hath not seen or ear heard, neither
have enterd into the heart of man, the things which God hath
prepared for them that love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, April 1999 and March 2014

GOD’S ROAD TRIP by Narita Roady

The New Year means different things to us each year depending on what is happening in our life. Sometimes we find it exciting and joyful because there is a new baby, marriage, a new home or a new job. Other times we find it frightening and painful because we face the death of a loved one, a divorce, a job loss, a home, material possessions, financial disasters, an empty nest, or the loss of health. Either way, whatever our outlooks, we are all starting on a journey into the unknown. One that God Himself is sending us on. If you are reading this then you are still here and have 365 unchartered days before you. The years that start with hope and promise are, what can I say; they are wonderful! But those that begin with pain and heartache, now those are another story. Mine as you know is the latter as are many of yours for whatever trials you are facing in 2014. These are the ones I want to focus on. I am reminded of Abraham in Genesis 12:1. “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee”
God sent him on a journey and he didn’t have a clue where he was going or what he was supposed to do. He was leaving all that was familiar to him, his home, much of his possessions and his family. In Abraham’s day family meant everything. No one moved across the country to get a job. They were very close knit groups. He was saying goodbye to all that was comfortable and secure to him. This was no small task considering Abraham did this as a senior citizen! He was 75 years old! So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran” Genesis 12:4
Now you might be saying, “Yes, but he had a choice. He could say “no” to God.” He could have told God, “I don’t think so. I am too old, too tired, too set in my ways. . .” I am sure he could have come up with excuses just like all of us do. That ability originates with the “carnality package” we all come equipped with. So while to an extent, Abraham could have told God “no”. The reality is a true follower of God, you really “can’t” tell Him “no.” He went willingly with no hesitation and we should too. “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” John 10:4, 27
Here we are like Abraham heading out on a journey that we have no idea where we are going, what is going to happen, and what will be expected of us. Considering the fact that we are beginning wounded from some adversity from last year can make the trip rather frightening. The unknown always is. We know “who” fear comes from yet it can still get a grip on our hearts. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
One fear we have is being alone. I understand this one well. I am 60 years old and this is the first time in my life I have ever been alone. We can be surrounded by people and still feel alone. Troubles have a way of isolating us. My Heavenly Father is not sending me on my way this year with just a pat on the head. He is coming with me every step of the way, every moment of the day. As a matter of fact He is ahead of me, as He knows every detail. The unknown is only unknown to me! “And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 He promises me no matter what I “feel” He is with me, forever.
We may fear being in financial or material need. For almost 42 years I looked to Jerry to provide for me. After his death the fear came, “Who will take care of me now?” The electrical impulses of my brain had not even finished sending the message when I realized: all I needed had always come from God, even though he worked through Jerry. God provided for us in all ways. “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Matthew 6:25, 30
God is telling us, “I have you covered. Your needs will be met.” I can honestly say I have never done without what I truly need. Yes, I have done with less, much less, but never deprived of my basic needs. I think a close examination would reveal this is true for all of us.
Venturing into the unknown makes us feel vulnerable and exposed, like all the boogey bears and monsters under the bed are out to get you. I can relate to the fear of being unprotected. With Jerry by my side, I never was afraid of the noises in the night, walking in a dark parking lot, or being harmed by anyone. I knew he would always protect me, but my ultimate protection then and now comes from God. Bumps in the night that make my dog growl, need not be a concern because the Lord watches over me all through the night. “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8
Where ever I go, whatever I do, He has special heavenly escorts guarding me.
“For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Psalm 91:11
The New Year will challenge us with new decisions and choices we must make. This can be quite intimidating. I know it is for me. There has not been one major decision since we married, that Jerry did not guide and help me with. I won’t lie; it’s been scary with just the few I have had to make thus far. “Will I make the right one? Is there anything I am overlooking? How will I know for sure what to do?” It’s very simple; all I have to do is ask God for wisdom! “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5 How wonderful that God cares about all concerns in my life, from the smallest to the largest! He longs to give me direction in every step I take, and all He asks is that I trust Him completely. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
As you enter this New Year, are you still hurting and stinging from your losses this past year? Is your heart filled with dread wondering; “What else will happen? What other heartaches will I face? What other sacrifices will I be required to make?” God’s promises can answer each and every one of our concerns.
I need not be afraid of anything the future holds.
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? “ Psalm 27:1
When I do fall into fear’s vicious trap, the Lord will rescue me.
“I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
Should I find myself weak and wounded from the battle, and I don’t think I can make it, the Lord will strengthen me.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10
Even in the moments I succumb to the enemy’s lies and wonder if God has deserted me, leaving me to be destroyed, He assures me this cannot happen.
Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Deuteronomy 31:6
No matter how my circumstances appear, my Heavenly Father only wants to bless me and bring about the best for me. I may not understand His ways but His plans for me are perfect.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11
Is your world turned upside down right now? Mine is. But we serve a God who specializes in turning worlds right side up. We cannot check the “I do not want to participate box” as much as we would like to. He has lessons for us to learn and growth for us to accomplish. My small earthly mind cannot comprehend His purposes that fit into eternity, not this small wisp of time we call life.
In all my tears and distress, He speaks to me. (Narita) “Be still, and know that I am God:” Psalm 46:10a Great loss requires us to learn to trust Him in a greater way; many times, a way that we could never have conceived had we not lost something so dear. I know I must develop a new and even closer relationship with Him. One I never could have, had I not lost my earthly companion. I do not have the victory yet. No, I am deep in the midst of my battle now. I will not pretend. I am brokenhearted and faint. I am simply sharing my “spiritual weapons” the Lord has given me. I am fighting the good fight and I wait upon the Lord as He commands.
“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” Psalm 27:14
My heartfelt prayers go to each of you that have entered this New Year with devastating losses. I pray His strength and comfort for each of you, and awareness of His loving presence. He will see us through.
Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, January, 2014


Did you know that God can quilt? I didn’t either until it was seven days before our daughter Aimee’s seventeenth birthday. Our money was tight, but I wanted a special gift. A brilliant idea struck. . .or so I thought. I would piece sachet tops, quilt them, and make a Bible cover. Each sachet would be 3” x 3” and contain nine pieces.
As Jerry figured the total sachets needed, he asked, “Are you sure you want to do this? I will take 24 of them!” I tried to hide my anxiety, and began cutting out the tiny pieces. They totaled a whopping 216! Doubt and a large lump in my chest grew.
Not helping matters, our daughter Amber said, “Mom haven’t you bitten off more than you can chew? You have only five days to make it? I gave her a menacing growl, but secretly agreed with her.
Sunday and Monday I was sick. There were still meals to prepare, laundry, ironing, and cleaning in addition to Aimee’s gift. Not to mention it had to be done without her knowing as we lived in a small 780 square foot home! As I lay in bed, I prayed the Lord would “raise” me up like He had Lazarus.
That afternoon I tackled my mountain of minuscule pieces. My head felt like Pooh Bear’s, “all stuffed with fluff.” I realized only two pieces could be sewn and pressed at a time. By 2:00 am. I felt like calling 911!
Once they were put together, the pieces swayed like the old pattern, “the drunkard’s path”. Georgia Bonesteele I wasn’t! “It looks awful!” I whined.
“It will be alright when you quilt it,” Jerry said in a tone a husband uses when he’s trying to calm a distraught wife. “Come to bed and work on it tomorrow.” Exhaustion won and I followed his advice.
The next morning, another monster loomed before me. I had to quilt 672 sides ranging from a half inch to 1 inch in length! Progress was slow; the stitches had to be very tiny, and they were looking quite awkward and uneven. This sure wasn’t what turning out to be what I had in mind!
As I worked, I remembered when Aimee was born. We pictured ourselves becoming the perfect parents. Just like my Bible cover I was making, we thought we knew things would turn out “just right”, but that isn’t how life works is it? Time forced us to view parenthood realistically, with its flaws and failures. There were so many mistakes.
We loved Aimee very much and wanted our birthday gift to be perfect to show her that love. Just like our lives with her, we never wanted to make any mistakes. We’d worked hard at teaching her God’s Word and His Ways. In spite of our errors, Aimee knew we loved her.
I realized that this Bible cover would show our love, despite all of its imperfections. I hoped the weak spots would hold. They weren’t noticeable unless I pointed them out. Just like Aimee, when she is grown. God will strengthen the weak spots from our blunders as parents and they will not be as noticeable because of Christ living through her.
I was feeling better. I finally finished the Bible cover. It was beautiful but not perfect, just like our precious daughter. I thanked the Lord for helping me, saving me, and loving me enough to overlook my imperfections. For continuing to mold me, piecing my life together and mending it each time I mess up. I was grateful for the lesson He had taught me as I made Aimee’s present. He had taken the gift I was making and turned it into a gift for me!

Earlier this month Aimee and I were going through a cedar chest and I found a Bible cover with a cross stitch she had made me years ago. I asked her about the one I wrote about and she said she still has it.
This was the second article I wrote and published in the Oklahoma Baptist in June, 1993. (The first was written as a testimony when I was 18 years old.) I did make a few small changes to the original.
I find it ironic that even though it was written 20 years ago, it was published in the same month Jerry passed away this year. In spite of my and Aimee’s “imperfections” I still see the strong thread of God’s power and love running through our lives. She continues to be a wonderful gift from God! I love you Aimee!

Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, September 2013