Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Newness

Jeanie Rhodes

Newness giddily excites me. . .

The potential of a pencil, sharpened a moment ago
The crispness of a brand new school tablet
The glossy, untouched surface of a just-opened jar of peanut butter
The heady aroma of fresh-ground coffee
The luxurious smell of the interior of a new car
The thrill of the first day of school every year
The creak of a never-before unopened book

My list could go on and on.

As always, the beginning of a new year excites me. Where will I travel? Who will I meet? What will I accomplish? How will I change for the better? What will I learn? In Matthew 19:26 Jesus said ". . . with God, everything is possible.” Isn’t that exciting?

Perhaps most exciting to me is the newness God promises in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!”

We don’t just get a freshly-sharpened pencil to write our life story; we get a whole new life to write about! We don’t merely sit in the seat of a new car; we begin a joy-ride with God in the driver’s seat! We don’t simply smell the aroma of fresh-ground coffee, we get to drink deep of God’s cup of mercy and forgiveness.

With the feet of happy butterflies dancing along my arms and giving me goose bumps, I welcome the coming of 2012 and all that God will bring and accomplish. How about you, my blogger friend? What excites you about the new year?

Blessings!
Pam 

 ©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Gift Goes On


“Your orders are free today!” the barista at C&C Coffee said with a huge smile and a merry twinkle in her eye. “Someone bought one of our gift cards and gave it to us to pay for anyone’s order till it’s used up.”

My friend and I looked at each other in surprise. How very thoughtful! And what a wonderful way to start our holiday!

It’s been a week of blessings for me. So many great cooks and bakers brought the fruits of their labors into the church office to share with the staff; Home Depot rushed a Christmas order for FREE; the postman delivered lots of thoughtful Christmas cards inscribed with messages of encouragement; and today the free Decaf Peppermint Mocha. I feel like God has made every day Christmas this week!

The truth is, He has! His gift of forgiveness from our sins is one we can claim every day. Though we set aside this time of year to celebrate God’s gift of His Son for our salvation, the gift goes on and on and on. And it is one we can share with others—and still keep for ourselves! There is no better gift!

I love the words to a song Sandi Patty sang many years ago called “The Gift Goes On” by Ron Harris:

The Father gave the Son
The Son gave the Spirit
The Spirit gives us life
So we can give the Gift of love
And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on

Don't you love to get a present
Wrapped up in a Christmas bow
God gave each of us a present
On that night so long ago
It's a Gift that keeps on giving
If our spirits can receive
It's the secret joy of living
If our hearts can just believe

And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on and on and on
And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on and on and on

When your life is full of Christmas
Then your life is full of love
You can give away the present
That began with God above
Just like ripples in the water
The circles of our love extend
What was started with the Father
Is a gift that has no end.

©1983 Ron Harris Music


Merry Christmas, my blogging friends, and may God pour His greatest blessings on you during 2012!
Pam

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Legend of the Tabby--Part 2

Painting by Dutch artist Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen, c.1550,
The Holy Family By The Fire
The Legend of the Tabby by Pam Williams
PART 2

Hearing the scratching again, the tabby became instantly alert. She recognized the sound of a rat, come to steal the grain stored there for the few cattle and donkeys housed in the stable.  With the foraging creature never out of her sight, the tabby inched her way down the hay stack to the stable floor.

Intent upon its exploration of the area, the rat did not hear the cat's approach. It scurried over to the sleeping child and sniffed the edge of the manger where a small hand rested. Just as the rat opened its mouth to bite one of the tiny fingers, the cat leaped. With one snap of the feline‘s powerful jaws, the rodent's body went limp and the cat carried it from the stable.

None of the weary humans even stirred.

Returning later, the tabby heard a faint sound and noticed a wee fist waving in the air above the manger. Checking cautiously to be sure the man and woman still slept, she crept hesitantly over to the makeshift crib, sniffing the air for danger as she went.

Placing her front paws on the edge of the feeding trough, she stood on her back feet and peered in. The newborn looked helpless and unprotected. As the child waved his hands erratically in the air, tiny fingers brushed the curious cat's forehead causing her to flee.

Leaping quickly to her favorite resting place, she spent several minutes grooming her shiny coat.  The fur above her eyes felt particularly out of place. She repeatedly licked her front paws and rubbed the spot where the child had touched her.

The infant began to fuss. His insistent cries woke the young woman and she took him in her arms to feed him. The man awakened, too, and brought the woman some breakfast. Satisfied that all was being taken care of, once again the tabby rested her head upon her front paws, curled her tail around her nose, and, with a great sigh, drifted into a deep sleep.

Little did the brave cat know that the child she had protected was no ordinary baby. Though humbly born in a rude and lowly stable, His birth would impact all mankind. The mere touch of His hand had placed a permanent mark on the cat's forehead that no amount of washing could remove. And every tabby to this day carries that same mark on its forehead, an unmistakable "M", for the Messiah the watchful tabby protected that special night.

Merry Christmas!
Pam

©2011 Pamela D. Williams
Earlier version published in CATS magazine, December 1994

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Legend of the Tabby--Part 1

Source

The Legend of the Tabby by Pam Williams
PART ONE

As the door to the stable opened, a cool breeze ruffled the cat's striped fur causing her to pull her legs in closer to her body and cover her nose with her ringed tail. Her efforts accomplished little. Raising her head, she sniffed to determine the source of the breeze. Someone was holding the door open. Her curiosity aroused, the tabby cautiously approached the edge of the loft. Crouching down in the straw, she quietly observed from her location high above the stable floor.

A disheveled man with a dark, bushy beard held the door wide for a weary young woman. Speaking softly and soothingly, the man helped his exhausted wife to sit down on a pile of straw. From her position in the loft, the tabby watched the proceedings undetected. The man left the woman only long enough to lead his donkey into a stall and supply some grain for the hungry beast.

Hearing a moan, the cat quickly swiveled her head around and riveted her eyes on the young woman. The man rushed to his wife's side, helping her stretch out on the straw, and covering her with his cloak. Although obviously tired and in pain, the woman seemed to draw comfort from the mere presence of the man hovering over her.

The tabby continued her vigil till well past midnight and then slipped quietly down over the piles of straw and out into the darkness to hunt her dinner. Returning to the stable a while later, the cat began climbing to her perch. A new sound startled her and she stopped abruptly to listen. The noise reminded her of the plaintive cries of a persistent newborn kitten. Creeping over to the edge of the stack, the tabby peered down on the humble scene below. A new family member nestled in an unused manger lined with clean, fragrant straw.

Soon the cries ceased as the baby slept in his makeshift crib. His mother rested close by. The tabby longed to get a closer look at the scene. But the man stood watch over the little family, making sure that both mother and child were comfortable and protected. Growing tired, the tabby folded her legs beneath her and slowly closed her eyes.

A few hours later, a scratching noise from the floor below awakened the sleeping cat. Looking around she noted that the man who had kept watch now slept upon a heap of straw, close to the mother and newborn.

Hearing the scratching again, the tabby became instantly alert. She recognized the sound of a rat. . .


Stop back soon for Part 2 of "The Legend of the Tabby"!
Merry Christmas!
Pam

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fun Family Festivities for Christmas: Entertainment

Fun Family Party Entertainment
Fun Family Festivities for Christmas:Entertainment

Preparations are completed and the guests have arrived! What can we do for fun that will entertain kids and adults alike?

Games: Ask our family what they love best about our parties and they will tell you it’s the games. Purchased games, i.e. Bunco or Pokeno, can accommodate even large families. Inexpensive prizes, including nostalgic candies or travel-sized toiletries, concealed in inexpensive gift bags, lend an air of excitement to winning. However, our guests also enjoy simple games like the Stocking Guess1, a Christmas scavenger hunt, and others that can be found on Christmas game sites2 on the Internet.

Activities: Our family looks forward to activities such as an Edible Gift Exchange3 or an old-fashioned taffy pull4. Caroling, a visit to a local church live nativity, or a group walk or drive through the neighborhoods to view the Christmas displays entertains party-goers of all ages. Circle back to the house for a welcome cup of hot chocolate and a fistful of homemade cookies and everyone ends the evening with a smile.

Movies: Classic movies like “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” or “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” are a great way to occupy the kids and give adults a little talk time. Providing a big batch of popcorn to eat or to string with cranberries adds to the merriment.

Far from boring, irresistible Christmas parties are events that family members will fondly remember and eagerly anticipate year after year. And all it takes is a little creativity mixed with an extra dollop of hospitality. Try it!

1 The Stocking Guess: Fill a Christmas stocking with small items such as various sized coins, a pen, a button, yarn, ribbon, an ornament hanger, a craft wiggle eye, a bead, a piece of material, a nail, a screw, a nut, a toothpick, a twist tie, a match, a pebble, a seed, etc. Close the top and pass the stocking around. After each person has had 10 seconds to feel the stocking, have them write down what they think is inside. For younger kids print a handout with clipart of many items (including ones NOT in the stocking) and have them circle what they think they have felt in it. The winner who guesses the most gets a prize.


3Edible Gift Exchange: Each guest brings a wrapped, edible gift. Write each person’s name on three slips of paper and place in a stocking. Randomly re-distribute the gifts. When a person’s name is drawn from the stocking, they can either open the package they are holding or exchange their gift with someone else. The game continues until all names are drawn. Everyone will end up with a gift.

4 Old Fashioned Taffy Pull: Try this yummy recipe from Diane Laney Fitzpatrick on About.com http://parent-child-activities.suite101.com/article.cfm/have_a_taffy_pull



Blessings of the season today and always!
Pam

.©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'll Fly Away: A Tribute to Uncle Butch


I once heard my Uncle Butch (Jay L. Warnick) say his favorite song was “I’ll Fly Away”. Last weekend he suffered a massive stroke while hunting. All week long the refrain to “I’ll Fly Away” kept running through my mind as I thought about him and the faithful witness he was for Jesus.

As a writer I felt a special bond with Uncle Butch, who was also a writer. I wonder what he would write now? Perhaps . . .

O Lord, my soul soars on the updrafts of Your mercy,
My spirit glides on the wings of Your love.
My body does not contain me.
It is but a shell.

Flying away on the outstretched arms of the dawn.,
Morning’s light brings me Home to You.
To simply BE, in Your presence, Lord, fulfills my longing.
Nothing else can satisfy.


Until that glad morning when we meet again, I'll pass along some smiles for you, Uncle Butch, and share the love of Jesus with those God brings my way . . .

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Soul Workout

"Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come."
1 Timothy 4:8

It’s 5:30 AM. I am awake, so why not get up? Rats! It’s raining already. Guess I won’t be walking this morning. Oh well, I can dance in the basement to my WOF tunes or make up a low impact aerobic routine that won’t wake the rest of the household. I pull on my socks and sneakers and attach my pedometer to the waistband of my sweatpants. My day has begun.

I am pretty faithful to my 30 minutes of exercise a day. My mom has experienced some heart problems over the years so my hope is that exercising will stave off any potential tendencies toward heart disease that I may have inherited. Call me OCD, but I always feel a bit discombobulated if my exercise routine is disturbed or if stuff comes up and I am forced to miss a day or two in a row.

Paul would probably say I do a good job of staying physically fit for this life. But what would he think of my spiritual fitness routine? Am I as dedicated to my devotional workout—to praying, to quietly listening, to reading, meditating on, and studying God’s Word, to fellowshipping with my Christian family? Though ashamed to admit it, I am not as disciplined spiritually. And yet, Paul says that spiritual exercise is much better than physical exercise, because it yields benefits both for today and for eternity.

What are the benefits of training for godliness?
  • We are better prepared to meet whatever the day brings.
  • We develop greater sensitivity to God’s Spirit within us.
  • We experience peace in the midst of turmoil.
  • We gain consistency in our Christian walk.
  • We build integrity.
  • We become more adept at applying God’s Word.
  • We get to know God better.
  • We enjoy God’s friendship more.
  • Our love for others increases.

The list goes on and on. What benefits of training for godliness have you experienced? I would love it if you shared them in the comments section.

Many blessings as you build up your spiritual muscles!
Pam

 ©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Friendship Evangelism—Witnessing According to Paul

Learn < Live < Lead

Witnessing and evangelism are two words that can strike terror in the hearts of new believers. My own fear stemmed from a misconception I had about evangelism.

I remember I once crossed the street to avoid walking by a fellow who stood on the corner waving his big leather Bible and shouting to passersby, “Are you saved?” When I became a Christian I thought, “Please, Lord, don’t ask me to witness. I don’t want to accost people like the guy I saw with the floppy Bible.”

I didn’t really understand evangelism. Paul, on the other hand, did. After his conversion, Paul learned all he could about living for Jesus and following in His footsteps. Jesus often shared His message by visiting in people’s home, eating and talking with them, and developing a friendship. Paul emulated Jesus’ example, recognizing the importance of establishing a rapport with people.

  • Jailed unjustly, Paul didn’t rant and rave and gripe and complain. Instead he took the opportunity to share the gospel with his fellow inmates. 
  • When in Athens, Paul noted the Athenians’ dedication to religion. He then used that as common ground for sharing the gospel.
  • With Priscilla and Aquilla, Paul used a skill the three shared—tent making—to establish a relationship with them; he then shared the gospel.

VoilĂ ! Friendship evangelism according to Paul! Perhaps we would find witnessing easier if we followed his example.

  • Draw closer to Jesus, allowing Him to permeate every nook and cranny. Mentioning Him in casual conversation and referring to God's gift of salvation will then flow from us without force or pretense.
  • Determine what common ground we share with the person we want to witness to. Use that commonality as a segue to the gospel.
  • Develop a friendship. Establishing relationship builds trust and lends credibility--vital attributes when we are telling someone of Jesus' love and sacrifice for us.
May God add his Spirit to all that you do to bring others into His kingdom.

Pam
©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dispelling the Darkness

“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness
but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

Do you have a favorite time of day to walk? Mine is early morning. For the past few weeks I have been walking in darkness, with sunrise holding off till almost 7:30. As I walk, I appreciate the little solar lights people place along their sidewalks help me avoid walking off the edge or stumbling over cracks in the concrete.

Occasionally, everyone walks through “dark” periods in our lives—times of uncertainty, anger, hurt, and loss. We need someone to shed light on our problems and dispel our fears, someone to help us sort things out and indicate the best way to turn. Groping around in these dark times can be frightening and even dangerous.

In John 8:12 Jesus refers to himself as the light of the world. He promises to illuminate our path and show us the way. No matter how dark things may seem, he can bring light to every situation. But there is a condition that accompanies his promise. Did you catch it? In order for Jesus to shine his light on our lives we must be following him. Following…

As a camp counselor, I often walked the grounds with another counselor to check on things before turning in for the night. If the other counselor carried the flashlight and I veered away from them or tried to hurry ahead, I found myself in total darkness. But as long as I stayed close and followed them, their flashlight illuminated the path for both of us.

Spiritually, we can experience the same effect. Are we following Jesus? Or are we trying to run ahead of him, seeking our own path and insisting on our own way? Are we staying beside him, letting his light guide us or are we holding back and finding ourselves in the darkness again?

Have you ever tried to take the knot out of a necklace when someone stood in your light, producing shadows that made it impossible to continue? In the same way, spiritual obstacles—mixed up priorities, questionable influences, or sheer busyness—can interfere with our relationship with Jesus. As a result, we find ourselves groping our way through life without the benefit of Jesus’ light shining in our lives.

In Matthew 28:20, Jesus promises that he will always be with us. No matter what difficulties we may have to go through, no matter what challenges we may have to face, we are not alone. Simply by following Jesus, we can have the comfort and guidance of his light.


Blessings as you follow Him!
Pam


©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Psalm 121: I Look to the Mountains




How clearly the sky reveals God's glory!
How plainly it shows what he has done!
Each day announces it to the following day;
each night repeats it to the next.
No speech or words are used,
no sound is heard;
yet their message goes out to all the world
and is heard to the ends of the earth.
God made a home in the sky for the sun;
it comes out in the morning
like a happy bridegroom,
like an athlete eager to run a race.
It starts at one end of the sky
and goes across to the other.
Nothing can hide from its heat.
Psalm 19:1-6
  
I look up to the mountains –
Does my help come from there?
[No!] My help comes from the LORD,
who made the heavens and the earth!
He will not let you stumble and fall;
the one who watches over you
will not sleep.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never tires and never sleeps.
The LORD himself watches over you!
The LORD stands beside you
as your protective shade.
The sun will not hurt you by day,
nor the moon at night.
The LORD keeps you from all evil
and preserves your life.
The LORD keeps watch over you
as you come and go,
both now and forever.
Psalm 121

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Haircut

Every time we move (which has been often in the more than 37 years that we have been married) we have to find not only a new family physician, a dentist, and a veterinarian, but also a barber, a plumber, a mechanic, and many other service providers. Stumbling upon a gem of a beautician is no accident—it is a gift from God.

Putting your hair in the hands of a stranger takes courage, but at one time or another most of us have to bite the bullet and get help to tame our unruly locks. Today I reached my limit. I finally got tired of the tumbleweed look and decided to get professional help.

Since my husband needed to run out to the mall to check on something for his cell phone, I went along and stopped by the beauty salons. The first salon sported two beauticians, both with big 80’s style hairdos. When I asked what they charged for a haircut, one woman quoted me a price for a shampoo and cut. If I wanted my hair dried it would be an additional $8. Antiquated hairdos aside, I thought $8 for hot air was a bit pricey.

At my next stop the only person working was the very young girl attending the sign-in desk. Her blonde/black/and pink hair was lopped off here and there in jagged steps. To be honest, I was alarmed to think what I might look like when I left the salon. Considering she had no other customers, I guess I wasn’t alone in my reservations.

The last shop offered a haircut for ½ what the first charged and had multiple hairdressers available. However they were also busy, which didn’t surprise me after my previous encounters. So I went home and prayed over the phone book.

Praying over the telephone book is something I have done frequently. I have prayed for a compassionate veterinarian and a name jumped out at me from the yellow pages. I have asked God for a thorough carpet cleaner and was very satisfied with the company He pointed out.  I even prayed for a specialist and found the most wonderful ob-gyn.

So, when I I needed a haircut, I opened my trusty telephone directory and prayed for a beautician. Several beauty shops caught my eye and I decided to do a little Internet research on them. I linked up with “On Route 30” via their Facebook page. Their welcome message seemed genuinely open-hearted and inviting and their photos showed the friendly, stylish, experienced staff having a lot of fun and enjoying their jobs. I felt good about this shop so I drove out.

The woman who greeted me lived up to their Facebook welcome and took me right in, as she had just gotten a cancellation. I showed her a picture of what I wanted and she grasped what I had in mind immediately. We chatted non-stop while she worked; the time flew by. When she finished, she had cut and shaped my hair till it looked exactly like the photo!

How very good our God is! He directed my search to just the right beautician and guided her hands so I got just the haircut I wanted.  Thank You so much, Lord, for Cathy at “On Root 30”!

Blessings!
Pam
©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Cat and the Curmudgeon


Old Man and Cat by Iryna Smolych

A friend loves at all times. . . Proverbs 17:17


"The only thing a cat is good for is a block under somebody's tire," the old curmudgeon often said with a scowl. If he had then spat on the floor, I would not have been surprised.

Thankfully, my husband did not inherit his father, Bill's sentiments and always loved cats. After Bill suffered congestive heart failure, he was forced to come live with us for a month. I was curious to see just how he and our cat would work things out.

When Bill lost his wife twelve years earlier, he also lost interest in life in general and his health deteriorated. Naturally, the doctor did not want him to be home alone during his recuperation, so we brought Bill to our house.

Instructed to rest and relax, my father-in-law spent a lot of time just sitting on the recliner, watching TV. Daniel, our cat at the time, loved the comfort of a warm lap. Finding the temptation irresistible, Daniel jumped up and stared at Bill. Glaring at the cat with disdain, Bill said, "What do you want?"

Ignoring Bill's growls, Daniel made himself comfortable. His persistence gradually won Bill over and we found the two of them asleep on the recliner many times during those weeks Bill lived with us.

About three months after Bill returned home, he completely surprised us with the news that he had adopted a cat of his own! It seems his neighbor's cat had presented her with a litter of kittens and Bill had selected a little female he named Myrtle.

What a wonderful difference Myrtle made in my father-in-law's life! No more whiling away the hours sitting in front of the TV. Myrtle became his entertainment—hiding under the daybed in his living room in wait for him to walk by so she could run out and grab him by the pant leg, racing Bill to the phone and wrestling with the cord, exploring every nook and cranny of his apartment, including the back of the refrigerator and inside the desk drawers.

Bill loved Myrtle’s antics. She gave him reasons to get up off his recliner and move around, (usually to rescue her from some mischief she had gotten herself into.)

Myrtle also provided Bill with much needed companionship. She followed him from room to room, even into the shower! At meal time she sat beside him, begging for tidbits. When Bill napped on the recliner, Myrtle curled up on his belly. And she eagerly greeted him at the door when he returned from running errands. Bill needed that rambunctious little bundle of fur!

One day as my husband and I were leaving Bill’s home, we looked back to see Myrtle sitting on the porch rail with Bill looking lovingly down at her. The picture of the two of them will be etched in my memory forever. Not long before I would have scoffed at the very suggestion of Bill loving a cat. But Daniel thrust a paw into the door of Bill's heart and Myrtle eagerly scrambled in.

Blessings!
Pam

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Shouldering Others' Burdens

God knows how often I pray for you.
Day and night I bring you and your needs in prayer to God.
Romans 1:9
Awakening early one morning, I found that my much-loved but ailing 16 year-old cat Daniel had taken a turn for the worse. I attended to his needs as best I could, and then went back to bed.

Sleep eluded me as I mulled over his condition. Grieved that I was losing my longtime companion and pained at his suffering, I asked the Lord for wisdom about what to do for Daniel. I needed God’s comfort and peace. Finally I got up, dressed and went to our church for Tuesday morning prayer time.

When I got there, my friend Cindy came up to me and said "Pam, you have been on my mind since early this morning and I have felt compelled to pray for you. I almost called you. Is everything all right?" I dissolved into tears as she hugged me.

Although concerned and saddened by Daniel’s poor health, that was not the cause of my tears. I cried at the overwhelming realization that God truly cared for me and knew when I was troubled. He loved me enough to wake my friend and prompt her to pray for me at the hour I needed it most.

The events of that morning impressed upon me the importance of praying for others when God brings them to my mind.  I don’t have to know the specifics; I just have to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Only God knows just how much that person may need His hand of comfort and healing that day.
 
Galations 6:2 encourages us to share each other's burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. In light of this scripture, I ask you to help shoulder a huge load for my friends, Cheryl and Frank. Frank has been diagnosed with a rare, treatment-resistant form of multiple myeloma—cancer of the plasma cells in bone marrow. Frank will be having an autologous stem cell transplant that involves harvesting Frank’s own stem cells, subjecting Frank to very heavy duty chemo, and then re-infusing the harvested stem cells. This process is currently scheduled to begin Sunday, Sept 25th. PLEASE pray that they can harvest enough stem cells to do the transplant!! That is the first huge step.

Cheryl said that each time she sends out an update, she and Frank are overcome by the thoughts of all the prayers and the love and support surrounding them from SO many places and SO many special people...some they don't even know! I covet your prayers for these friends, as you and I know that the prayers of the body of Christ are very powerful!

Thank you!
Pam
©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Crown of Golden Days



Like looking through a kaleidoscope, the leaves are changing color daily. Summer’s bright yellows, greens, and pinks give way to the oranges, russets and mauves of Autumn. Nature ages gracefully during this season. The fragrance of trampled pine needles and freshly fallen leaves delightfully perfumes the air, exhilarating both the senses and the soul.

As people age, however, modern culture encourages us to masque our years. Ads urge us to cover the gray, reduce the wrinkles, and eliminate unsightly age spots.

The Bible views seniors in a different light, even referring to gray hair as a glorious crown! (Proverbs 16:31) Respect and honor for elders is admonished throughout Scripture, recognizing that, as we mature, wisdom overcomes impulsiveness, and helps us avoid pitfalls.

Over time we learn that God's Word is true. Verses like "Be quick to listen and slow to speak,"(James 1:19-20) and "A gentle answer quiets anger," (Proverbs 15:1) are proven effective over and over. Along the way, we realize that integrity really does matter more than wealth. (Proverbs 28:6) Life’s lessons combine to make us better individuals, allowing us the privilege of offering immeasurable comfort and encouragement to others.

God has provided me with wonderful examples of perseverance, tolerance, and love, embodied in individuals who have blossomed with  each passing year. During my mid-twenties, Rev. Harry Sagar pastored the church where I worked part-time as a secretary. Harry radiated tranquility. As a young harried mother I often felt that on the train of life I was constantly trying to catch up with the caboose. After patiently listening to my tales of frustration, Harry would quietly say, “It’ll all work out, Pam. It’ll all work out.” Though at the time I found his answer confounding and, in all honesty, somewhat exasperating, time proved him right—things always did work out!

During our daughter’s difficult teen years, an elderly woman in our church often called to ask how things were going. Without one judgmental word, she listened as I vented my worries, frustrations, and fears. Encouraging throughout, Isabelle’s conversations always ended with, “I pray for all of you every day.” Her prayers gave me strength to remain steadfast when at times I wanted nothing more than to just run away.

Once our nest was empty, I managed a little gift shop in a nursing home. Daily, residents would stop in and admire the colorful window dressings and express their thanks for providing such a convenient place to purchase items for loved ones. Their heartfelt expressions of gratitude assured me that the long hours I spent there were well worth it.

How I hope that with each passing year I will develop grace and beauty like that of the golden days of Autumn. I pray I will follow the example of the willing listeners, gentle guides, and faithful believers who have encouraged me. And may I have lived a life worthy of the respect and honor due that glorious, gray crown.

Have a blessed day!
Pam

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Is is Hot in Here?

Grabbing up the lid to the butter tub, I fanned myself fast and furiously. Around the dinner table, my puzzled family exchanged quizzical looks.

“What? Don’t you think it’s hot in here?” I asked, noting their stares and yanking at my collar.

Their concern changed to amusement. At the time, I couldn’t quite find the humor in the situation, although I felt I could explain the mystery of spontaneous combustion—it had to be related to menopause!

While driving to the fruit market one autumn day, I suddenly cranked up the air conditioning in the car and strategically aimed the air vents directly at me. “Ugh! I feel a heat wave coming on,” I warned my husband Dick. He generously turned his vents toward me, too, and then zipped up his fleece jacket.

“Lord, help me! I’m on the brink of a meltdown, right here in church,” I fervently prayed under my breath one Sunday. Nonchalantly, I picked up the bulletin in the hopes of stirring a breeze without creating a scene.  Could everyone in a two pew radius feel the heat emanating from me? I could have easily given the pastor a few vivid illustrations on Hell for one of his sermons.

These days everywhere I go I encounter women who are searching for ways to comfortably deal with the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause—especially hot flashes. We surreptitiously whisper condolences to each other at fellowship meals, women’s Bible studies, family reunions, the doctor’s waiting room, and funeral dinners, just to name a few. At a Women of Faith conference, I heard comedian, Chonda Pierce sing loud and clear her revised rendition of the old Martha and the Vandellas’ song, “Heat Wave”. How wonderful to laugh till I cried about this phenomenon that can sometimes frustrate me to tears.

No matter how discreetly or not-so-discreetly we may try to ward off the sudden soaring internal temperature of a hot flash, they still insist on coming—usually at the most inconvenient and conspicuous moments! Most of us girlfriends just want to know one thing. How do you spell relief?

I thought you might enjoy a laugh today, so here are some recommendations I have received.

“Try Black Cohosh—it’s all natural,” suggests my friend Roxanne.

“Drink three cups of sage tea every day,” Ginny confidently prescribes.

“Have you tried soy nuts? Soy seems to really help me,” Debi, an assistant pastor claims.

My doctor recommended anti-depressants. “I’m not depressed!” I told her. “I’m hot!”

My aunt shared the old adage, “Stick your head in the icebox.”

Though temporary, this method actually worked marvelously for me. Why not long ago, I opened the freezer, grabbed a bag of peas, and put them on the back of my neck. Leaning into the frosty compartment, I fanned myself with a frozen slice of ham. Ahhhh, blessed relief! I laughed out loud at the picture I would have presented had someone rung the doorbell at that precise moment.

My friend Debbie owns and operates a tea room. Debbie’s favorite treatment is the oscillating fan, set on high. Since she spends so much time in the kitchen at the tea room, she purchased one mounted on a four foot stand. Numerous times I have found Debbie standing directly in front of the spinning blades. With the speed cranked up as fast as possible, she closes her eyes and lets the cooling air currents whip around her. It really does work wonders, though its effects on hair could give customers a fright!

My absolute favorite tonic for hot flashes is a pint of chocolate fudge brownie low fat frozen yogurt. I keep a container in the freezer at all times. Just a few spoonfuls of this delectable concoction and I am chillin’! One word of caution: This tonic is addicting. As for whether it really works….who cares? It’s delicious!

However, for me, the very best therapy for menopause is spelled F-R-I-E-N-D-S, other fifty-something women sharing the hormonal roller coaster. Knowing I am not alone in the process helps immensely. I cling to the encouragement of 2 Corinthians 10:13, “Every test that you experience is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm. . .” (TEV)

A heart to heart talk with another woman somehow makes me feel like less of an alien in my own body. A day out with a friend refreshes my exhausted soul.  We enjoy a comforting cup of freshly brewed coffee, accompanied by a large glass of ice water, just in case. We fan ourselves with the menu and discuss the latest changes in our wardrobe styles. (We now know why scoop and V-neck tops sell so well to over-fifty females.) The mixture of our laughter and tears renews my sense of normalcy. This time of intimate sharing refuels my spirit as I traverse the undulating road of menopause with my temporarily unreliable internal thermostat.

Blessings!
Pam


©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Who's Your Provider?

The Simon's Cat series of short films
by Simon Tofield is a hilarious must-see!


Our cat, The Baxter, loves canned cat food and knows what cupboard the food is kept in. He can even get the cupboard door open, but he can’t remove the lid from the can.

Though it is an exercise in futility, The Baxter often circles, sniffs and paws the tins of his favorite canned food. But they remain tightly sealed. Since he is an indoor cat only, he's totally dependent on my husband or me as his providers.

Who is your provider? Do you depend solely on yourself? God wants to be our Provider. He will supply all that we need according to His riches in glory. (Philippians 4:19) But, like The Baxter, many of us try to handle everything ourselves. Rather than leaving things in God’s hands, we fruitlessly toil and struggle through life trying to be independent and self-sufficient.

The longer we try to control our lives by our own wisdom and strength, the longer we remain unfulfilled. The more we refuse to trust in God as our Provider and Guide, the more frustrated we become. When we finally admit we just can’t make it on our own—we don’t possess the wisdom, strength, or foresight—God is able to step in and care for us, providing what we need just when we need it.

Let God’s Spirit speak trust to your soul as you ponder these Scriptures:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know.
Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way.
Proverbs 3:5-6

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

Some trust in their war chariots and others in their horses, but we trust in the power of the Lord our God. 8 Such people will stumble and fall, but we will rise and stand firm.
Psalm 20:7-8

Blessings as you trust in Him!
Pam  

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A NEW DAY


The night begins to fade as dawn ascends.
Then sunlight streaks the sky
and darkness ends.

When people wake from sleep,
what do they find?
Renewed anxiety? No peace of mind?

For those who follow God,
each brand new day
Just brings another chance to live His way.

As we seek rest beneath God’s mighty wings
The Lord will grant us peace;
our hearts will sing!

To reach that sheltered place
so close to God,
To join His family, to know His love,

All He requires is that we believe
In Jesus’ saving grace—
His gift, receive.

John 3:16
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. (The Message)

Blessings!
Pam
©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tweet! Tweet!


As a newbie to Facebook and Twitter, I have probably unknowingly and unintentionally overstepped many rules of social networking etiquette. Terms such as “like”, “block”, “confirm”, “friend” (as a verb), “link”, and “tweet” still knit wrinkles into my brow and cause me to tap my chin as I ponder just what these ordinary words might mean in an online context.

Being honest, I joined these networks at the recommendation of author and businessman Daniel Gasteiger, who teaches on social media marketing for writers. He insists that an online presence is essential for today's writer.

In an article in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Preeta Samarasan, author of Evening Is The Whole Day, says it is practical for a writer to use Facebook. “Writers need audiences . . . we need people to show up to our events, to read our stories and our essays and our blog posts, perhaps to be lured by our views on politics and culture into seeking out our work offline.”

If we are serious about a career as a writer, Joanna Penn of www.TheCreativePenn.com offers five more reasons why we need to embrace technology and social networking:
  • People are online. If we engage on social network sites, provide information on our blogs or produce our work in podcast audio format, we are more likely to get readers.

  • It is the best way to build an author platform. If we have an online presence, we will reach people globally and will gain a following.

  •  The tools have never been easier and they are free. Point and click is all we need to do to access the most influential websites in the world--Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

  • Publishing is changing and e-books are exploding. We need to enable people to buy our books in any format they like.

  • Mobile devices are exploding and the internet is going mobile. Millions of people who can’t afford a computer can surf the web on a mobile device—opening up a whole new world of readers.


To read Joanna’s entire article click HERE.

So, to help spread the word about the Christ-centered and encouraging blogs that are available, I plan to tweet or post a link on Facebook to a few of these uplifting devotionals each day. After all, like Paul, we want to “become all things to all people, that save some of them may be saved by whatever means are possible.”

Blessings!
Pam

©2011 Pamela D. Williams