Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My father's day

May 1975 Shippensburg State College

Has anything like this ever happened in your days
or in the days of your ancestors?
Tell it to your children,
and let your children tell it to their children,
and their children to the next generation.

Joel 1:3

We have all seen the TV dad thoughtfully leaning back with his arms crossed behind his head, his eyes closed, remembering—and his kids scurrying to get away before he launches into a long, drawn-out tale from his past. However, sharing our stories is important. When we tell our stories we pass on faith, values, courage, love, respect, and so much more.

My child, pay attention to my words. Open your ears to what I say. Do not lose sight of these things. Keep them deep within your heart because they are life to those who find them.
Proverbs 4:20-22

I remember one story in particular that my dad told me many times. Daddy was in the army during the Korean Conflict and qualified for the GI Bill, funds granted by the government to veterans for college. However, when he got home from Japan, he had to immediately start providing for my mom and me, so he went to work, thinking he would attend college later.

Daddy never did get to college. He often talked to me about wanting to be a teacher and regretted that he hadn’t taken advantage of his GI Bill. My desire to go to college grew from the seeds of his regret.

When I enrolled at Shippensburg University, I thought I would like to teach, like Daddy had always wanted to do. During my junior year, as part of my education courses, I was required to pre-student teach. I was assigned seventh grade English at Shippensburg Junior High School. I can still feel my blood pressure rising, my palms getting sweaty and my stomach knotting up when I think about that semester.

It was horrid. The kids were totally disrespectful and I had no idea how to earn that respect. I recall distinctly longing for lunch so I could escape to the teachers’ lounge. How could my dad wish for a career in this profession? To me it would be torture!

One especially exasperating day I was trying, and not succeeding, in quieting the kids so that we could begin class. A curly haired boy who was well liked among his classmates came up to my desk and volunteered to get their attention. I told him to go ahead and try. He simply shouted “Hey! Listen up! Let’s give the lady our attention.” Then he turned to me and smiled. I could have kissed him.

At the end of that semester, I knew that, no matter how much I loved Daddy, I couldn’t handle a classroom day after day. Although I wanted to fulfill his dream, and become the teacher he never got the opportunity to be, I withdrew from college at the end of my junior year. Daddy never criticized me or berated my decision.

During the summer, I decided I still wanted to get a college degree, but not in education. I switched from a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education to a Bachelor of Arts in English. I spent my entire senior year cramming in literature courses and writing papers. I loved it!

Daddy came to my graduation, his pride in my achievement undiminished, despite my lack of a teaching certificate. The afternoon I received my degree, I truly felt it was my father’s big day, as well as my own.

The sad truth is, I never told him—I never let him know how much his words inspired me to further my education. So on this Father’s Day, I hope he is somehow aware of how thankful I am for his encouragement. College prepared me for many situations in life outside of a high school classroom—including becoming a writer. Thanks, Daddy, for sharing your story! Happy Father’s Day in Heaven!

©2014 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Lap of Prayer

Baxter and Pam
I know some of you have been interested in an update on Baxter. He is completely recovered from his leg injury—and without having to undergo surgery! God is so good. Baxter is eating normally again and the croupy cough he had developed is gone!

One aspect of his healing I am especially thankful for is that he is no longer crawling under the dressers and beds to hide—a sure sign of pain, fear or stress in cats. He once again wants to be in the room with Dick and me—sometimes on the floor, sometimes on the couch beside me, and sometimes at the foot of Dick’s recliner.

I especially love it when Baxter climbs up on my lap so I can hold him. He purrs and squeezes his eyes shut in satisfaction—well, at least for a time. Then all of a sudden, Baxter seems to find my arms and lap confining. Giving me the evil eye, he nips my hand and then jumps up and runs off.

Other times he appears to be resting comfortably when all at once something grabs his attention and he shoots out of my lap like a rocket. He might be back in a few minutes or he may meander off elsewhere.

Hmmm. Baxter’s behavior looks a lot like how I treat the lap of God. When I am really hurting or afraid or stressed, it would make sense to immediately turn to God in prayer. Although I know Psalm 46:1 assures us that God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble, sometimes anxiety, shame, fear of rejection, or a lack of faith can prevent me from approaching Him first.

When I do crawl up in the lap of prayer, I can so easily get distracted from my time with God. I will be praying and meditating and a few minutes later I realize my thoughts have jumped to thinking about what color to paint that old weather-worn rocker on the porch!

Then there are the times when I try to manhandle God during prayer. I want him to answer my prayers my way in my time. And when He doesn’t, I give Him the evil eye. If God tries to convince me that perhaps I am the problem, or even the solution to a problem, and I don’t want to hear it, I jump down from the lap of prayer and get busy doing something else.

And, just like Baxter expects of me, I trustingly assume God is willing to hold me in the lap of prayer anytime, anywhere. What is so incredible to me is that God never fails to pat His knee and invite me to commune with Him in prayer. He always takes time for me, always makes space for me, and always pours His love out on me.

“Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” James 4:8

Sometimes I bask in His presence, filled with awe, and practically purr my thanks for all that He is doing in my life. But more often than not, like Baxter, I just soak in all the blessings.

“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”
Colossians 4:2


©2014 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Happy Anniversary!

"I don't want diamond sunbursts, or marble halls. I just want you."
--Anne Shirley, in Anne of Green Gables

I know what Anne Shirley meant when she said those words to Gilbert Blythe, for she describes how I feel about Dick. It didn’t take a flashy, sparkling ring or bowers of roses to make me love him. And it doesn’t take a gorgeous house with every convenience or lavish vacations abroad for me to continue to love him. I fell in love with him and will always love him for who he is—faithful, generous, tender, funny, loving, caring, protecting, encouraging, and an ocean-sized parcel of other endearing qualities.

This week Dick and I celebrate 40 years of marriage—40 years of being blessed with the privilege of sharing my life with my best friend and lover. I often say, and truly mean, Dick is the perfect husband for me. God couldn’t have chosen anyone else with whom I could be more in sync. When we met, we clicked.

The day we married God gave me the second of His greatest gifts—the first being salvation through His Son, Jesus. Dick and I have traveled not only this physical life together, but our spiritual lives as well. You see, we both committed our lives to Jesus on the very same day. Like the base of a triangle, that relationship with God is our foundation and our goal. The closer we grow to God, the closer we grow to each other, like the other two sides of a triangle meeting at the apex.

Any couple looking for the key to a stronger love to bind them need only bow their heads in prayer to find it. When each one commits their lives to Jesus, their relationship with one another is strengthened also. And it just keeps getting better and better.


©2014 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Lessons from Frank

Just over a year ago I lost a very good friend, Frank Andreus. My friendship with Frank spanned only three years, but in that time, God used not only Frank’s life, but also Frank’s illness and death to teach me several valuable life lessons.

Frank was a man of strength, integrity, steadfastness, loyalty, and faith. Frank lived life to the fullest, grasping the opportunities God presented. Many of his choices required great courage in the face of fear—whether it was flying helicopters in Viet Nam, serving as a strategist for Homeland Security following 9-11, or staring down the throat of a dragon named Cancer.

Some might think Frank’s years as a Colonel in the Air Force shaped his character. Not true. Frank’s character shaped those around him, not only in the Air Force but in his family, friendships, church and civic groups. Knowing and losing Frank in so short a period of time brought to light several truths from God’s Word.

  • “You don't know what will happen tomorrow. What is life? You are a mist that is seen for a moment and then disappears.” James 4:14
  • “Make the most of your opportunities . . .” Ephesians 5:16-18
  • “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or terrified. The Lord God, will be with you.” 1 Chronicles 28:20
  • “Fight the good fight for the Christian faith. Take hold of everlasting life to which you were called and about which you made a good testimony in front of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12

 At this particular time in my life, the one that stands out is “Make the most of your opportunities.” Frank and his wife Cheryl lived James 4:14. They recognized the importance of family and made time with immediate and extended family a priority.

Several summers Frank and Cheryl hosted what they called “Cousins’ Camp”, where they gathered their grandchildren together for a week with just Grandma and Grandpa. Dick and I loved the idea and couldn’t wait to try it ourselves. But busyness and circumstances pushed those plans to the back burner of life.

When Frank developed cancer and then went to be with Jesus so soon after his complete retirement, I realized that precious time with family shouldn’t be put off. So, when the opportunity arose to spend extra special time with our grandchildren this summer, Dick and I grabbed those weeks with both hands.

Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude to God for His gifts to us of the available time, good health, and adequate finances to do this. We so appreciate that our kids readily volunteered to do what needs to be done to make it work. And we thank our grandkids for their excitement and willingness to come stay with Nana and Pap Pap for an extended visit, without their parents.

I also am thankful God brought Frank and Cheryl into Dick’s and my life. God opens our eyes to His truths in many ways—through His Word, through our friendships, and through the fine example of his saints.

Which of the Scriptures God brought to life through my friend speaks loudest to your current situation?

Many blessings!

©2014 Pamela D. Williams