Monday, December 31, 2007

PENNY Thoughts

I almost always pick up pennies. It is not a source of great income or from the cliche; "a penny saved is a penny earned". No, I simply love to look at the year date and remember whatever comes to mind.

Realize that if I stoop to pick up a penny I certainly pick up other monetary amounts. I remember picking up a quarter once and seeing the year of our Son's birth. That was a cool moment of memory.

The other day on the way back from taking out the trash I noticed a penny and bent to pick it up. I had to hold it to the light at a certain angle and made the date to be 1981. Memory lane kicked in like 3rd gear. The only problem was that my memory gears stopped my leg gears and I stood in our apartment's driveway for several moments. Good thing no one was leaving right then. But I wondered if someone looked out their window and wondered about the ol' guy standing and staring with a huge garbage can on his back?

1981. Wow! A home bible study that my wife and I had found a home in decided they wanted to bless us. They decided to send us on a vacation to Israel. Unplanned preparation for that trip included receiving the first prophetic word spoken over me in prayer. I remember wondering how the visiting folks praying could know so much private detail as they spoke. But also realized, "God! Duh!"

We flew to Israel in the early Spring that year. It was a 10 day trip of wonder after wonder. During the trip something precious happened in our hearts toward one another. Nothing that can be put into black & white, but something that solidified our marriage relationship in a special, eternal way. (that was part of the prophesy, too)

After I was home I became aware that my mother, who lived in Northern CA at the time, was not happy with my travel to Israel. At first I figured it was 'momma-worry' over her baby travelling in potential hostile countries. It turned out that she was upset that I would spend the money to go overseas and not spend money to travel to California to see my mother. I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer sometimes.

I prayed about it, because we really did not have the finance, and felt in my heart that I did need to visit my mother and tried to figure out how to do it. My reader must recognize that the trip to Israel was all 'gift', and didn't come from any of my own meager income.

In those days I worked a day job as a bread deliveryman. And I was also in the ministry full time. Many people on my stops often asked me for prayers so I felt it alright to ask them for prayer for my upcoming trip. Several had been excited that we were able to go to the Holy Land earlier in the year. Amazingly, and without asking for money, several different folks began to take up a little offering. I say little, because much of what was delivered to me in a tattered little envelope was coinage. A fellow deliveryman, (Chip-guy) brought the little envelope by our warehouse one morning saying, "some of the folks on our route asked me to bring this to you. I pitched in a little, too." My jaw stood open as the fellow continued, "they love you, man."

When I counted the coins and paper in that envelope it turned out to be just 50 cents short of round trip airfare to California. Wow! I was able to go and see my mother for 50 cents. Thank God!

The time that I was able to get off work happened to coincide with Mother's day weekend, 1981. My supervisor had mentioned there were no extra-men to cover my route and then after a pregnant pause said, "so I'll be covering your route while your gone." I had some jaw dropping time that year.

My visit with my mother was very, very precious to me and I believe to her. I actually sensed that it would be the last time I would see her this side of heaven. In one of our conversations together I sensed the words of release that I was to speak to her. "I'll be OK, Mom." She always worried about me. I was her baby, and in my youth, I was always her sickly baby. I remember her eyes being clear, bright and slightly tearful when I spoke those words. I knew they were words she wanted and needed to hear.

What I didn't know was that one week to the day after I returned home, my 61 year old mother passed away in her sleep. She suffered from emphysema for as long as I can remember and the last few years had been very difficult for her. I was her 3rd child and the last of her children that she needed closure(?) with. When she had felt all was in order, she simply stopped struggling and went to sleep. I love my mom!

1981: That penny carried a fortune of memories. Those that I mentioned happened before the summer that year, and beyond that is another nickels worth for another time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Shallow Depth of Youth

I looked out over the area that was our ice skating pond when I was a kid. The clubhouse, wooden sidewalk and side rails were still there. Later, someone told me they had been refurbished a couple years back.

Forty plus years ago I learned to ice skate here. I was looking at weeds, tumbled grass and muddy ruts. The thing that got my attention was that the area of the pond was only about 6-8 inches from the edge of surrounding field. I was trying to get my mind around it. "This thing backs up and gets less than a foot deep." I realized to myself.

At the same time I realized that when I skated here there was always a hint of fear that someone would break through the ice and drown in the dark depths below. Drown or be carried under thick ice in the swift current that ran like a freight train below the frigid rink. But there were no dark depths and no current at all.

It is difficult to describe the feelings of ignorant deception. I was ignorant of the specific dimensions of that pond and thus lived with a deception about it. In this case it likely worked for the good, because all of the kids were perhaps more careful. However, the truth is that if anyone had broken through they would have been wet up to their knees and got their skates muddy. The illusion of depth created a greater thrill of skating.

Sometimes when the pond was crowded we'd talk about the "what-if" factor of extra weight. What if 20 or more of us got close to the end by the dam? Questions and fear factors gave a chill and a heightened sense of adventure. Stories circulated of previous years that had seen drownings by unfortunate kids that played too wild or got too close to thin ice. No one drowned in that place but that didn't stop the stories.

Standing there, looking out over my newly discovered marsh land that gets backed up in Winter, I came to realize a number of things concerning childhood. One is the potential for safety that innocent deception can lend to the ignorant and another is how sweet the memory of my ignorance actually is. I'm glad I didn't know we all skated on a huge frozen puddle.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Along my journey I've discovered that not many who are alive want to speak for the dead. That sentiment use to include me. But according to a grace that God has given me, I began to speak for Grace. I turned my heart toward her heavenly Father, the One who knew her before any of us and...

I could see Grace's eyes looking down to me as I lay in a hospital bed. She bent gently over me and her eyes gave me hope. Her hands were busy beneath my gaze with tubes and needles, but her eyes and her voice assured me that I was OK.

I saw this repeated in quiet dark rooms in the wee hours of the morning. I saw it in blood soaked, noisy emergency rooms. Grace's green eyes and presence piercing the fear and bringing a salve of peace and a breath of hope. She hardly knew of her own power to bless and bring healing. The first verse the Lord gave me is,

"If any man build on this foundation...his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire...”
(1 Cor. 3:12 )

I saw God's huge hand like a fist with a searing fire burning inside his palm. I knew Grace was inside His hand and feared for what would be left when God opened his palm again. Powerful fingers slowly began to open and I heard a wind begin to blow across God's hand. The wind took all the burnt ashes and chunks of debris away.

The scene shifted to God’s eyes looking keenly into His own palm. They pierced the shifting shadows and ashes with intensity. Again, I felt a pang of fear for Grace. Then I saw His eyes soften and enlarge with confident pleasure. Eyes that recognized something He had longed to see.

I saw His opened hand again, but from my vantage could only see that all the debris was entirely gone. The scene shifted from the side of his palm and my view began to lift into God’s vantage point. There in the middle of His palm I saw a group of precious stones. I saw red, clear, blue... I knew they were God’s rubies, diamonds and many other precious stones.

He lifted His open hand to his lips and gently blew across His palm and I began to discern the outline of Grace’s face just beyond the end of His fingers. Her face and being came more into focus until she became solid and was standing right in front of All Mighty God.

His gaze lovingly welcomed her as He reached to touch her cheek. And then He simply embraced her with a Father’s embrace. Her tears were blotted away on the fabric over His heart. Grace was home.

As He held her I saw one last gaze of His eyes as they turned upon me. Piercing into my being I could hear His thoughts enter my own, “Don’t ever judge the work of My hands before My hands are finished with their work.”

There was no anger or threat in the flow entering me, only truth. The entrance of the Truth of Him changed me. I could tell that my own gaze back at Him became softer and relaxed with a confident pleasure. His work is altogether wonderful!

A second verse the Lord gave me for Grace is,

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Phil.4:8)

Welcome Home, GRACE.