Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless HIS HOLY NAME.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Night Cometh

I took an invitation to my "chicken lady," (as I affectionately call the sweet lady who sells me chicken) for our Daily Vacation Bible School. She kindly took it and said she'd give it to her daughter, who has young children.

For many months I have been praying for her and inviting her to church events; and yet she has never come.

From the very first morning of our VBS, every day, a middle-aged lady brought a little 7-year-old girl, Keira, who was so enthusiastic about everything.  She learned the Bible verses and songs; sat and listened intently to the Bible stories that were told; and answered questions when called upon.  Who was this little girl, and to whom did she belong?

She accepted Christ as her Saviour that week.  She sat on the front row on Sunday, the day of the closing exercises.

As I was walking out of church on Sunday morning after the closing exercises, one of the men in our church stopped me and said, "I want you to meet my neighbor.  He came with his granddaughter."  As I talked to this kind gentleman, I realized he was my "chicken lady's" husband!  He is Keira's grandfather!

I was so excited and rejoiced in my heart for this blessing of knowing that Keira is my "chicken lady's" granddaughter.  What an open door!

So yesterday I went to visit my friend.  I told her how blessed we were to have had Keira in our Bible School this year, and how much fun she'd had.  My friend told me that every day, Keira came home from VBS just bubbling over with excitement and couldn't wait to go back the next day.  She told me, "Keira loves the Bible, and she loves when someone takes her to church.  We are Catholic, and my daughter does not like to take her to church."

I told my friend that while Keira is young and has a desire for the Word of God, she should be taken to church and instructed in the things of the Lord.  I told her, "There comes a time in the lives of young people when their hearts are turned toward other things, and while Keira is young, she should be brought to church."

As I have meditated upon our conversation, I realize how quickly the night is coming.  We have a small window of opportunity to witness to our friends and neighbors.  It is when God lays someone upon our hearts that we should be prompt in responding to the Lord's leading.

I ask you to pray for this family.  There are so many more just like Keira who came to VBS this year.  Our work has just begun as we, as a church, seek to reach out to these families and try to disciple them and get them grounded in the Word of God.

How about you, Dear Reader?  Has the Lord laid someone upon your heart to whom you should witness?  I urge you to be obedient to the Lord's leading.  Don't let another day go by.  The night cometh when no man can work.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Daddy's Hands

If you love your Daddy, you love his hands.  I was thinking today about my Daddy’s hands.

Daddy’s hands were long, very white, and very handsome. 

Daddy was a doctor, a pediatrician.  He had gentle hands.  I loved watching him when he checked a sick baby. He’d stroke the baby’s chin with his long pointer finger, clicking his tongue at the same time.  That helped to warm the baby up to my Daddy before he checked the sick little one.

When I was a little girl, I loved to stand next to him as he applied shaving cream to his face, ready to shave.  I thought he had such an interesting way of taking his razor and shaving under his chin.  I loved watching him stretch his neck to get the hard-to-shave places.

Being a doctor, he had a particular way of washing his hands.  He’d apply soap and pass them through the water.  Then he’d hold his hands up until he reached his towel, letting the water drip down to his elbows.  I loved watching him wash his hands.

I was only three or four years old when he became ill with Parkinson’s disease. At the beginning, his illness did not affect him very much; but as the years passed, the illness debilitated him to the point where he could no longer drive, ride his bicycle, or play basketball with us.  But even with Parkinson’s, his hands always looked so very handsome to me.  He’d rest his elbow on the arm rest of his rocking chair, put his pointer finger on his forehead and his thumb under his chin and read his Bible that way. I loved watching him sit that way, lost in thought, often planning and dreaming.

He disciplined me in love, and he wept the last time he had to spank me.  It broke my heart to hear him say through his tears, “It breaks my heart to have to spank my children.”

I sat next to him many times and took those hands in mine as I cut his fingernails for him.  Sometimes I had to hold his hand quite firmly because his shaking wouldn’t allow me to cut his fingernails properly.  He told me one time, “You’d make a good nurse.”  (I never had a desire to be a nurse; but his sweet words built up my self-esteem.)

I remember lying next to him the night he died.  He was lying on his bed, and I put my head on his chest.  It felt as if he were only sleeping.  I took his hand in mine one last time, wishing I could feel him shake, another part of me so glad his illness tormented him no more.  I cried because I missed him.

My sisters and I used to sing to him, “Daddy’s Hands…there was always love in Daddy’s hands.”  I remember on more than one occasion seeing tears in his eyes as we sang that, and knowing that he was thinking of his daddy’s hands.

If you are close enough to your daddy to hold his hands, stroke them lovingly.  Our daddies worked so hard to provide for us.  Their hands helped to provide our living, put food on the table, provided us with a warm bed on which to sleep.   We can thank him by taking his hands in ours, looking in to his eyes with love, and thanking him.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Happy 40th Birthday to my Sweetheart

"He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at length."
Proverbs 29:21

Today is my husband’s birthday.  He has hit the big 4-0.  Yep.  But he’s still just as young at heart, lively, and fun-loving as the day I married him.  He’s grown wiser and has learned a lot through experience. 

I’ve known him for 25 years.  That is a long time, you know?  We’ve been married for 13 years, but have loved each other for probably about 20 years.  (He’s loved me nearly half of his life!)

He was born in a small village, the 9th child (4th son) of the ten Lopez Children.  His parents were poor farmers (his mother learned to keep bees, and that added to the family income).  When he was not even two years old, he went into his daddy’s small store and, unknown to anyone around, ingested some of the petroleum oil that his daddy had in the store.  His esophagus was badly burned, and he could not eat or drink. He came very close to death.  God gave his Mamma wisdom, and she fed him drops of the pure honey she had. Drop after drop, his little throat was healed.  When I heard my mother-in-law tell that story, I knew God had kept him alive for a purpose.

At the tender age of 11, after finishing 6th grade, he said goodbye to his Daddy and Mamma to go to the city.  As was the custom, because there were no schools other than primary schools in the villages then, if a child wanted further education, he had to go to the city.  So, with tears in her eyes, Mamma Lopez said goodbye to her young child.  Because there was not enough money to travel frequently, my husband would not see his Mamma for months at a time, and at one time, three years passed before she saw him! He said that was such a hard time for him, being so far away from his parents!


It is a fact that God had his hand upon this young boy.  He boarded with a man who was a miserable drunk, and who took advantage of this boy’s hard-working skills.  He was given a “bed” under the chicken coop, and was made to rise at 4:00 A.M. to take corn to the market for selling.  Rushing home, he had to be ready for school at 8:00 A.M.

Although my husband was unsaved then, God had His eye upon him.  God protected him and kept him from the physical and emotional dangers that surrounded him.

God put a man named Paco in my husband’s path who took him from that awful situation in the old drunk’s home.  Paco watched over him and looked after him like an older brother.  He gave him 50 cents each day for his food.  There was a kind lady who sold sandwiches and snacks at the school where my husband attended.  My husband asked her if he could wash her dishes and sweep her floor every day for a sandwich at break time.  She generously agreed.  As this young man with a winning smile earned her confidence, she eventually allowed him to run the cash register and “upped” his salary.  And so it was that he earned his meal through nurse’s school.  He was only 14 years old when he entered nursing school.

But things were not well at Paco’s.  One of the sisters who lived there was jealous of the attention that my husband got from Paco, and she told my husband that he had to leave.  With tears in his eyes, Paco said, “Pal, you need to go.”

He had no where to go.  Ahh...but God's providence was at work. A young man who went to nurse’s school with my husband heard of the hardship that he had to endure.  So he told him, “I live at the home of a missionary.  He gives me lodging and food, and I’m sure he will take you in.”  At first, my husband was too shy to approach the missionary.  Yet, at his friend’s urging, he got courage and went to the missionary’s house.  The missionary’s son, Joel, was standing outside the gate eating an orange when my husband arrived.  Friendly Joel offered my husband an orange. My husband said he'll never forget thinking how kind and generous this young man was.  When hearing of my husband’s plight, Joel said, “I’ll speak to my father on your behalf.  I’m sure we can give you a place to stay.”

That missionary was my Dad.

It was in December when my husband arrived the first time.  My mother immediately noticed this boy’s smile.  There was just something different about him.
Only one week after arriving at the missionary’s home, this young man accepted Christ as his Saviour and began to grow.  Joel baptized him; and the missionary and his sons took part in helping to train this young man in the ministry.  He continued his nurse’s training, but became a big help in the ministry: preaching, going soul-winning, helping with bus routes, and participating in every church activity possible.

He eventually became as one of the family.  The little room provided for the boys (there were others besides my husband) was in a corner of the property, and their meals were served in the church building; so he did not live in the family home. But he participated in family games, church activities, and even had Christmas dinner with us one year.
He was trained by my dad.  That is such a blessing to me.  My husband likes to tell of the days when he and my brothers played basketball together.  After school, they’d ask Dad if they could go to a nearby ball court and play ball.  My Dad would say, “You can go for thirty minutes.  If you’re not back in thirty minutes, you can’t go for one week.”  They’d run out the gate…for their thirty minutes began counting when my Dad gave them permission to go.  Three minutes before their thirty minutes were up, they’d bid their friends “goodbye,” and they’d take off for home.

He was taught accountability, responsibility, obedience, and honesty by his godly father, but those qualities were further instilled in him by my own father.  My husband loves my Dad as he loves his own father. My mother cooked his meals, prepared his school lunches for him, and cared for him as if he were her own son.  Eventually, the affection for him in my parents’ hearts were as the affection toward one of their own children.
In 1994, when I left for Bible College, I missed him dearly.  He had been like a brother to me for several years.  I’m not sure when it happened, but I began to have feelings for him.  I tried to dismiss them, and thought that my time away at college would take away this “crush” I had on him.
But when I graduated in 1998, it was evident to me that I indeed loved him.  And he loved me.  Many times, my husband spoke to my dad about courting me, but my dad was not in agreement.  Eventually, my husband moved away.  By then, he had started practicing his nursing skills in the villages, and was only in our city on the weekends.
In 2001, (after much persuasion and prayer on our part) my Daddy agreed to allow my husband to court me.  It was a precious time for us.  Seven months later, with our parents’ blessings, we were united in holy matrimony.  I must say how much I admire this man for his persistence. Although he “waited” for me for over 5 years, he proved to all that his love was pure and sincere. 


What a great gift my husband is to me!  God has given me wonderful in-laws.  My father-in-law, who is now in Heaven, loved the Lord and was a great influence upon my children.  I have a sweet, godly mother-in-law, and my husband’s brothers and sisters love and accept me, and we enjoy one another’s company.

One thing that is so special about having “grown up” with my husband is that he knows many of the people that I know; he understands me because he experienced many of my childhood experiences with me.  He loves my brothers and sisters as his own.  My brother, David, became one of his best friends, and was his best man at our wedding.  It is just a special relationship that we share from so many years together.

The last few years of my dad’s life were hard ones for him because of his battle with Parkinson’s disease.  I remember on so many occasions, my husband would go see how Dad was doing.  He’d go back to his room.  So often he got muscle cramps, and my husband would gently rub his arms and legs.  Oh, how endearing that image of them together is to me today!

I remember  the day that my Dad passed away.  My mother called my husband immediately when she knew something was wrong.  When he arrived, my husband instructed my brothers to place my Dad on the floor so he could work on him.  My husband gave my Dad mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as tears streamed down his own face.  He worked furiously to revive him.  But God was calling him home, and there was nothing anyone could do.  When I arrived at my mother’s house, my husband met me outside. He had a stethoscope around his neck, and when he saw me, he shook his head and said, “He’s gone.” We wept together as he held me close.

When we entered the room where my dad was lying on the bed, my husband gently stroked my father’s head.  “He just looks like he’s sleeping.  I feel like any minute he could wake up.”

It was a Sunday afternoon, and it was decided that the evening church service be held as usual.  My husband was the music director for our church, but he said, “I just don’t think that I can lead today.”  He wept during the whole service.  What love he showed toward my dad that day!

I believe one reason I love my husband so dearly today is because he loves my family as do I.  God designed the formation of this man just for me.  He knew exactly who I needed to guide me in my adulthood, and I must say that my husband has fulfilled that role quite well.  He is not perfect, but he is the perfect man for me.

My husband works hard to provide for us, in the medical field; but his faith and dependence upon God sustains us.  He leads with humility; he guides by example; he loves fiercely and is loyal.

So you can see why I love this man.  It is my honor to be his wife.  I cannot say how grateful I am to be his helper in this life.

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my Sweetheart!  I hope we live many more birthdays together.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Worthy of Honor

In March, I had the unique privilege of spending some time with my mother and my mother-in-law together.  I feel very blessed to belong to these two wonderful, godly ladies.

 Aren't they beautiful?!

Happy Mother's Day
 to the two mothers in my life.  I love you so very much,
and thank you for all you've given me.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Happy Birthday, Sarah

This morning before I sat down to read my Bible, I lit a scented candle and set it on the table next to my chair.  And I thought of my oldest sister, Sarah.

Sarah has the ability to create a relaxed atmosphere wherever she is, no matter who's around her.  I've watched her.  She lights a scented candle, pours her favorite drink in a fancy goblet, sits down amidst 12 small children, and relaxes as if she were in an expensive beach resort.  And in doing that, she sets a calming effect on everyone around her.

Today is Sarah's birthday.

From her baby book

Sarah is 22 months older than I am.  Although she is my oldest sister, she has never been bossy.  She was always the perfect playmate, and she was my best friend.

We did everything together growing up.  We graduated from High School together and went to Bible College together.  We took the same major, so we were in every single class together and spent our free hours together.  We studied for our tests together, and after our exams, whoever finished first waited for the other in the hallway to "see how you did."  She was a great source of strength and encouragement to me during those years. 

We graduated from College on the same evening and returned home to help Daddy in his mission work.  We were married the same year and had our first babies a month apart.

Although the Lord has led us to live in different cities (7 hours away), we still keep in close touch and our hearts continue to be knit together. 

Sarah and her husband are missionaries in the southern state of Veracruz, Mexico, in a very small town.  She is the mother of six children (very close in age), and yet she finds the time to be involved in their mission work.  She homeschools her children, is an excellent house-keeper, and is a loving wife.  She has a discipleship ministry and reaches out to lost women in her little town.  Her quiet time with the Lord in the mornings is a priority to her.

She is such a godly example to me.  When we are able to spend a few days together, I am always inspired and encouraged just by watching her.  She calls her children into her room individually every morning to brush their hair.  After they're dressed and ready, she prays with each child, that God would watch over them and protect them, and that they would be obedient.

Sarah and her family are surrounded by danger.  They are at risk physically, due to drug gangs and constant kidnappings (that usually end in death); their health is at risk, as typhoid and dengue are rampant in that area of Mexico; and there are spiritual dangers because of the witchcraft and demon activity.  Some of the stories that Sarah has told me have literally made the hair on my neck stand up.  I know there have been times that she has wanted to gather her precious family and flee to another place.  Yet they remain faithful, serving their Lord where He has placed them.  And they are starting to see the fruit of their labors.

Sarah lives in a small corner of the world, never demanding attention or recognition.  But since today is her birthday, I wanted you to know about her, and I want to let you know how blessed I am to have her as my sister.

I love this lady, I admire her, I respect her, and I thank God for putting us in the same family.

When I have done wrong, she has never been judgmental, but has stretched out a helping hand, lifting me up.  She's never harsh, but quietly and sweetly encourages me.  She prays for me.  I recently was having a hard time with something and sent her a message, asking her to pray for me.  She replied:  "I will be praying that God will send you a blessing today."  I prayed to the Lord, "Thank you for my sister.  Please help me to recognize the blessing when you send it."  Later that night, there was a knock on our door.  My husband said, "Anna, you're wanted at the door."  When I opened it, Sarah's youngest child was standing there with a beautiful red rose in her hand, and a smile on her face.  Sarah told her husband, "Anna needs encouraging," and she packed up her children and drove to see me. She spent over one week with us. To me, that shows an unselfish love. 

I have a treasure in this lady I call "sister".

So to you, Sarah, may your day be special.  I hope you're made to feel special, because you are.