You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2008.

We’ve been experiencing a serious gas shortage here in Charlotte, NC, since hurricane Ike hit.  We’re going into week three of shortages, outages, and uncertainty about when things will get back to normal. 

People can run out of gas spiritually, too.  We go, go, go and expect to keep going without stopping to ‘refuel’.  Eventually we find ourselves running on fumes.  Sometimes we drain the tank to the “E” and wonder how we got there! 

God created us to be beings who are dependent on Him.  Because He’s controlling?  No.  It’s because He loves us so much that He doesn’t want us going off on our own without Him.  He wants to ‘top off’ our tanks at every opportunity and keep our tanks as full as possible! 

God’s great.  He’s always available, 24/7.  There’s NEVER a line, shortage, or outage.  He knows what it takes to keep us running and gives us His premium best every time; and through His son, Jesus Christ, washings are free and given as needed. 

So what’s your needle resting on?  If it’s below full, then it’s time to take a pit stop, refuel, have your ‘engine’ checked, and take some time for maintenance if needed.  God will be the loving attendant on duty who will get His hands dirty for you anytime.  Then He’ll send you on your way and really mean it when He says, “Come back again real soon!”

Dear friends,

Our nation needs our prayers.  Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.  -Psalms

Please pray for President Bush to remain a Spirit-led man who serves his LORD, not the world; for God to give him the courage and support needed to stand up for his godly beliefs.

In the coming days, pray for those who will be deciding our nation’s economic future.  Pray that God leads them in their decisions to do what He knows is best and that their efforts are bi-partisan and not about political game playing or representing personal interests.

Pray that we be a nation of grace in accepting whatever plan is handed down to us – especially those who will be in opposition.  (There are always those in opposition to any decision.)

I hope and pray that we are still a nation blessed by the Lord and that His plans will be to prosper us (Jeremiah 29:11), not allow us to lead ourselves into further financial oppression or destruction.   I pray He’ll be merciful to us in response to our excessive, greedy, and errant ways (I refer to us as a nation, corporate greed, and our spending habits) that have led us (the country) into such a state of debt. 

As we prepare to elect a new president and VP, pray that God will lift up the team that is for Him and not against Him, and that He be with whoever is elected to lead and guide them. 

Please, everyone, give careful and prayerful thought to your choice for President.  May God work through the efforts of whichever party is elected to enact His will and keep us the nation we were intended to be…One nation under God.

God bless you and God bless our Christian-based nation.

To love another person is to help them love God.   – Soren Kierkegaard

I met a man today who recently returned from serving at war as a reservist doctor.  His assignment was from Dick Cheney and his job was to treat the Taliban militants captured by our soldiers at an American medical compound.  He didn’t stay at the med compound.  Instead, he went out with the soldiers on their missions so he could treat them on site. He saw firsthand the injuries inflicted on our soldiers by the Taliban soldiers, yet he was to treat ‘the captures’, too.  He said it was very hard at times to treat the very men responsible for the injuries, and sometimes deaths, of our soldiers.  At those times he remembered the Bible tells us to love our enemies.  So he had to love the enemy. 

 

He was quick to add that we (the American soldiers and Americans) are doing a lot of good there.  He saw that firsthand, too.  Many of the so-called ‘militants’ are just like you and me.  They aren’t Taliban soldiers because they want to be.  They are soldiers because the have to be.  They’ve been captured by the Taliban and forced to serve, forced to kill <<< or they’ll be killed.  They want peace and freedom!  These ‘militants’ have much appreciation and gratitude for the Americans.  He said many of the men he saved…these ‘militant’ men…would literally bow down to him to thank him for saving their lives.  I imagine, too, they were grateful to have seen God’s grace, to have been shown His love. 

 

Of course not all he treated were ‘good guy’ Taliban.  Many were true militants who wanted to see him dead even after he saved their life. Those are the men our American soldiers face every day for the purpose of seeking freedom for the innocent and oppressed people caught up in this war and to make this world a better place for all of us.  

 

God bless our soldiers and God bless the USA!

I feel so blessed to be me!  Not because of myself, but because of the great day I had! 

Except for the part when I slept past my alarm and had to jump-start my morning, everything else was great!  After my rush to get ready I entered my son’s room to wake him for school and found beautiful rays of moonlight shining down into his room.   Just yesterday we talked about the wonder of God’s creation in Bible study, and one of the things we talked about was the moon.  Before waking my son, I stood in the moonlight to say a morning prayer.  I prayed for my husband and sons, sought the Lord’s presence for my day, and lifted up our church’s Kids Konsignment Sale that I’d be helping with later in the morning.  I’d no sooner finished praying when my son popped up in bed, already awake and waiting for me.  Then we took a moment to enjoy the moonlight together.  <<< Sweet moment.  🙂

The Kids Konsignment sale was so awesome!  Our women’s circle holds this sale twice a year as a way to raise money to use as donations in the community.  It’s much more than a sale, though, it’s a ministry.  God uses this sale in so many ways!  I don’t know who’s more blessed, those buying/selling, those who benefit from the donation, or those who help with the sale and see God at work first hand.  Each sale gets bigger and better.  Making money is secondary.  Serving the Lord is first.  This sale is all for Him, and He sure makes the most of it!  I stood as greeter at the door, and it was a sweet blessing just seeing all the beautiful and precious babies and children come in.  I prayed for all who came through those doors, especially the little ones. 

My loving and considerate husband reminded me about my vehicle needing inspection (he knows I’m very forgetful), so I got that done, then he gave me a ride so I could I could also have the oil changed, and then I managed to fill up with gas one more time before we started seeing gas stations shut down again because of gas shortages here in Charlotte (because of hurricane Ike’s disruption to pipelines in the gulf).  How fortunate we were to get both cars filled up – unaware that stations were beginning to run out of gas again!

My younger son and I had good afternoon with each other after school.  I love one-on-one time with each of my sons.

Then it was time to get my older son at football practice.  We got there in time to watch them do running drills.  I was pleased to see my son looking good.  He’s worked hard this past year to improve his fitness. It showed today!  However, even better than being proud of my own son, was watching one of his friends who was struggling and the way the coach and team rallied around him to encourage him, motivate him, and even help him. 

This friend isn’t as fit as the others, but he was the hardest-working kid out there.  He did his best to complete the first lap in the coach’s required time, but came in a definite last.  He wanted to collapse, but the coach wouldn’t let him.  He was sucking air.  I felt badly for him.  The coach gave them a short rest and then sent them around the track again.  He said he couldn’t do it.  Yes, you can!, the coach said with sincere encouragement.  So off he went.  When he started to struggle, other kids started running alongside him to help him keep up his pace.  He made it all the way around and did even better than the first time! 

Again he wanted to collapse but the coach wouldn’t let him.  One more time!, the coach yelled.  I can’t!, he replied again.  Yes, you can!, the coach said again with the same positive encouragement.  By golly, he did run that lap, but again he started to struggle.  Where are his teammates?, the coach yelled!  Almost the entire team crossed the field to be his teammates and help him along until he completed his lap.  This time, as he got closer to the end, they started cheering for him, too, and motivated him so much that he actually picked up speed as he finished! 

Then came the fourth and final lap.  He didn’t want to do it, but before the lap even began his teammates started yelling encouragements to him.  They weren’t about to let him skip that last lap!  Again they helped him along, cheered for him and ‘pushed’ him at the end, and he had his personal best time of the day!  Those of us watching from the sidelines started cheering.  It was awesome to watch!  It was like a Hallmark moment out of a movie.  I was so blessed to witness something special happening.  We all learned a few lessons from those running drills today.  My heart was really touched to watch a coach push by being positive and seeing how a whole team rallied around someone who needed help, getting outside of themselves to make a difference for someone else. 

There might be a lot of things wrong in this world, but there’s a whole lot more that’s right!  Thank You, Lord, for blessing me in such wonderful ways today!  What a great day this was! 

Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.     – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Things are tough for many people right now.  Thousands are displaced from their homes because of hurricane Ike.  Many are living out of their cars indefinitely with little or no information about what’s going on in their towns or when they can return to their homes.  Can you imagine?! 

Others across the country walked out of their workplaces with just a little box to hold their personal belongings because their companies folded under the weight of the mortgage crisis.  Some had worked for years, acquiring stock and planning their futures on the worth of that stock, only to leave with NOTHING!  What about their tomorrows?  What about their todays?  Will they be forced into foreclosures, too, as victims of the industry they served?  What a terrible twist of irony. 

For some, gas shortages and rising gas prices are making things difficult. 

Others are greiving the loss of loved ones after the train wreck in LA –  possibly due to errors made by the engineer who was reportedly texting before the crash. 

Even if you’re not personally affected by these tragedies, you can’t help but feel for these people!  It can be depressing and overwhelming for some.  So what are we to do?  The Bible says we’re to give thanks in all circumstances!  Yes, praise the Lord and give thanks! 

God has heard my prayers and is leading me along.  Thank you, Lord!  I have breath to live this day.  Thank you, Lord!  I’ve been blessed with the best husband and healthy, happy children.  We share so much love in our marriage and as a family.  Thank you, Lord!  God has surrounded me with WONDERFUL people who bless me and inspire me in so many ways.  Thank you, Lord!  Our God is a loving and faithful God who loves us more than we love Him.  Thank you, Lord!  As catastrophic  as some situations seem, God will be with those in need who call upon Him, and will be with others as well, hoping to make Himself known to them.  Praise and thank you, Lord!  God can create rainbows out of ruin.  Praise and thank you, Lord!  At a time when many in our community are hurting and struggling, God has equipped and enabled our church to serve as Christ’s body and reach out to others.  Praise and thank you, Lord! 

I could go on, but surely you get what I’m saying.  Hopefully your mind is starting to turn with praises and thanksgiving of your own!  When things are overwhelming, seem too much to bear, or you just don’t understand what’s going on around you, leave your cares and turn to prayer.  Praise God and thank Him for your blessings;  know that You can put Your trust in Him; and then lift your thoughts and worries to the Lord.  Soon you’ll be seeing evidences of His presence in the very matters you gave to Him, and you’ll be saying, “Thank you, Lord!” 

Dear Lord, Even in my most difficult times, I’m ok and I still find joy because I know You’re right there with me.  So many times You’ve heard and answered my prayers, and when I need You, You make Your presence known to me.  Thank you, Lord!  I pray that many others will come to know You, trust You, and love You as I do.  Amen.

My grandmother, Mabel “Peggy” McNeel, of Hillsboro, WV, is 95-years old today!  YAAAAAAAAY, GRANNY!  When she turned 90 I kindly told her she just had 10 more years to go so that Willard Scott could wish her happy birthday on the Today Show.  She laughed and said, “Oh, no.  I don’t think I’ll last that long!”  Today I told her that now she just has five more years to go!  Again she laughed and said, “Oh, no.  I don’t think I’ll last that long!”  Then I laughed as I told her that’s what she said when she turned 90 and now she’s half-way there! 

Granny is very special to me.  I have so many fond memories of days spent with her on the family farm in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia.  Have you ever traveled along Rt 219 between Lewisburg and Snowshoe Ski Resort?  If so, you passed our farm.  It borders the Pearl Buck Birthplace and is marked with a McNeel Family Farm sign at the roadside. 

As my almost 8-year old son helped me bake a pound cake this afternoon, I couldn’t help but remember when it was me who was little and I stood at Granny’s kitchen counter with one of her aprons tied around me (the strings going around twice), helping her cook and bake whatever she’d let me help with.  When I couldn’t help, I watched.  I loved being in the kitchen with Granny.  I still remember the sights, wonderful smells, and delightful tastes of the yummy meals and desserts she made from scratch. 

In those days the family farm was a busy thriving place.  My Gramps and Uncle Lanty would come in at noon each day, hungry from a busy morning of work, ready for a big, home cooked, meat-n-potatoes meal.  Granny always had one ready for them.  Almost all the food was freshly grown or food she and my Aunt Nora canned and kept in the cellar behind the house.  The cellar was just a few feet away from the Hen House where we gathered fresh eggs every morning.  Those chores were done after separating the milk Gramps brought in after milking the cow.  And the meat?  Mmmmmmm, good.  The farm raised beef cattle, sheep, and just enough hogs to provide us with our own pork.  Except for hot dogs, I don’t remember having much store-bought meat when we were at the farm! 

Not only was Granny a great cook, she fed everyone who needed fed.  If meals were needed for the church, she sent food.  If treats were needed at the school or church, she’d bake something.  And you never left a visit with Granny hungry!  She made sure she fed you something while you were there! 

OK, enough about food.  Granny played piano for their little country Presbyterian church until she was in her 80’s and arthritis took that pleasure away from her.  Sometimes we’d visit the state hospital to provide music for the patients.  She’d play piano and I’d lead them in songs and hymns.  What great memories!

Granny worked hard as a dutiful farm wife and took excellent care of my Gramps.  He was a well-known man of the community and state, and Granny often accompanied him to dinners and special events.  She always loved to socialize and be with people, and people always seemed to love her wherever we went. 

Hardly a week went by that visitors didn’t come calling back in the summers I spent with Gramps and Granny.  She welcomed everyone warmly and made everyone feel at home.  I guess that’s why so many still find their way to her door to pay a visit now and then.  I suspect it’s as much for their own good as for Granny’s…I know that’s how it is for me when I go back to the farm!

Granny’s eyes aren’t what they used to be.  She sees very little, which is a shame because she always enjoyed the beauty of the mountains and farm land surrounding their home.  She also spent a lot of time reading and doing crossword puzzles.  Without her sight there’s not much she can do with her time these days, but that sure hasn’t kept her spirits from dwindling!  Granny is as spunky and sharp as ever!  She keeps up with all the happenings of our family and remembers all the birthdays AND AGES of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren!  That’s more than I can do!  She still keeps wonderful humor and is just as fun to be around and talk to as she ever was. 

What I love most about Granny is that she has always lived by the Serenity Prayer.  It’s been posted on her refrigerator for as long as I can remember.  And she doesn’t just say amen to the prayer, she really lives it.  At 95 years of age she is joyful, cheerful, and THANKFUL for all that she has and for the life she’s led.  Oh, Granny, how I want to be like you when I grow up.  🙂   I love you, Granny!  Happy Birthday!  And many more!!

To read more about Granny, see “MEET MY GRANNY” in the May 2007 archives.

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