About happywife

I am a wife, mom, and part-time college instructor who loves to travel and write. I'm not sure why it has taken me this long to hop on the blogging bandwagon. In fact, whenever I encourage my students to do this ["You can be such a blessing to the world!"] I always feel a bit guilty. After all, the Lord has been good to me. It's about time I give Him some credit!

Along Came Maisy

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(our scruffy little answer to prayer!)

I am not a dog person, but I admit that every dog we ever owned would dispute that statement. In fact, each would probably insist that she was my favorite! All our dogs had this insane idea that just because I hugged them and gave them treats and played with them and pretty much allowed them to run my life that I must actually like them!

Ok, I’ll start over. I like dogs—I just don’t like dealing with the mess! So, after Flour (our Miniature American Eskimo Spitz) passed away last summer at age fourteen, I had no desire to run out and get another dog. My husband wanted a dog, but he agreed that we should wait, especially since we were planning to move out of state within a year. Getting another dog just before a major move was not a good idea!

Anyone paying attention has probably noticed that the title of this post implies that we got a dog in answer to prayer. Considering all I have just said about dogs, that may seem odd, so I will explain!

On December 23, 2016, I was driving home from Florida, where I had just spent some time visiting my daughter and her husband. I had, in fact, spent lots of time that month with lots of family, both in Illinois and in Florida. It was during my drive home that I found myself longing for an opportunity to see someone who missed all those family gatherings: Kristie, my middle child! She and her husband were stationed at Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas, “next door” to Juarez, Mexico, nearly two thousand miles away. The thought crossed my mind that I could manage a trip out there, considering that the classes I taught were not starting up again for another three weeks. There were a couple problems with that, though. For one, money was tight. The month of December had produced lots of expenses, some of which were unexpected. Plus, I had already done a great deal of traveling over the past few months, leaving my husband and son to fend for themselves! Plus, I knew my husband would love to go to El Paso himself, but he could not afford to take the time off work. I hated to go and leave him behind.

Still, my desire to go was almost overwhelming. So, I prayed. I poured my heart out to the Lord and asked Him to work out something if He agreed that a visit to El Paso would be a good thing! After that prayer, my heart settled down and my mind shifted to other things, such as our Silver Anniversary (which happened to be that day) and Christmas. I arrived home just in time for a little anniversary celebration. The next two days, of course, we celebrated Christmas.

Meanwhile, a couple thousand miles away, a scruffy little mutt was roaming the streets of El Paso, searching for her next meal and perhaps a little affection. On Christmas Day, she noticed a young woman out in a field calling out names—not hers, but she didn’t care! She responded anyway! She walked up to the woman, who was facing the opposite direction, and gave a little bark.

That woman was my daughter Kristie. A week earlier, she had discovered a couple of stray pups hiding in that field. Each day she would go out with some food and attempt to earn their trust. On this particular day—Christmas Day—she was out there again, calling out the names she had given them. When she heard the barking behind her, she turned, expecting to see one of those pups. Instead, she was greeted by this little stranger, who clearly wanted someone to love. Kristie promptly took her home and posted her picture on Facebook with this comment: “When God sends you a blessing, you don’t ask why it was sent.” Kristie knew she couldn’t keep the dog since she already had two, and her apartment complex had a two-dog limit. So, naturally, she called us!

“Mom, you would love to have this dog, wouldn’t you?”

Absolutely not!

(Someone in El Paso could take that dog.)

Case closed.

Later that day I called my mother to wish her a Merry Christmas. She was all smiles (I could hear them!) because my dad had done something completely out of character: he had taken it upon himself to buy her a kitten! (He is not a cat person, so that was a huge deal!)

After talking to my mom, I suddenly felt guilty about the dog, so I let my husband know that it was his decision. If he wanted her, I wouldn’t stand in the way. He assured me that he agreed we should wait. Several hours later, however, he called me from work: “I think I do want to take the dog. Could you go to El Paso to get her?”

Could I go to El Paso?!

Suddenly, I remembered my prayer from three days earlier: “Lord, please arrange for me to go to El Paso” (or something to that effect)!

Two days later, I was on the road again, heading west to El Paso to adopt the dog, whom we had decided to name Maisy. I had a great visit with Kristie and her husband (but that’s another story). On the way back home, Maisy and I made some fun stops, like at a meteor crater in Odessa, Texas…

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And a Civil War battlefield at Vicksburg, Mississippi…

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Our only mishap occurred in a McDonald’s parking lot in Alabama, when I got tangled up in Maisy’s leash and went flying! (She was more than happy to lick my wounds!)

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Maisy is adjusting well to her new environment. Sometimes, I wonder if there is a little old lady in Juarez, Mexico, looking for her missing dog, but it’s more likely that someone just dumped her on the side of the road. Regardless of how she ended up in my daughter’s arms on Christmas Day, there is no doubt in my mind that God brought Maisy into our lives in answer to prayer, and that makes her extra precious in my sight.

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Who Can Find a Virtuous Woman?

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15137453_10209538782418716_2663935456713046967_oMy uncle did.

Last month at my aunt’s funeral, friends and family were given an opportunity to share a memory or give a brief tribute. My mind instantly went to the prophet Elisha asking for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Of course, Aunt Miriam was nothing like the picture I had in my head of Elijah. She was a quiet, unassuming woman, certainly not one to call down fire on anyone! Still, I loved Elisha’s request, and I wanted a double portion of Aunt Miriam’s spirit.

Miriam Johnson was one of those rare individuals whose entire life exemplified First Corinthians 13, also known as the love chapter of the Bible.

“Charity [love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil” (I Cor. 13:4-5).

When reading those verses, people often replace the word charity with love because that is what it means. I could just as easily replace it with my aunt’s name:

Miriam was kind… always.

She was longsuffering.

She was never envious.

She was not puffed up.

She never sought her own. She lived for others.

Just now, as I glanced back at the phrase “not easily provoked,” I almost laughed. Perhaps that means we can justify being provoked, just not easily! Aunt Miriam, however, was never provoked to anger. She was always gentle and kind… with everyone.

Since I can’t read minds, I suppose I shouldn’t claim that Miriam never thought evil, but I’m sure she never did.

Some might assume that my aunt had an easy life. Perhaps she was always surrounded by loving people who never let her down. Perhaps she never had a reason to get upset. Those people would only need to read her biography to see that the opposite was true. Aunt Miriam experienced far more than her “fair share” of pain. At age four, she lost her mother. At fourteen, her father. I could go on and on. Aunt Miriam knew pain, but she would not be defined by it.

I have been thinking about the things that provoke me…

Being misunderstood…

Misrepresented…

Misquoted…

Unappreciated…

How can I possibly show kindness and display grace under those circumstances? How can I possibly “think no evil” of those who hurt me after I have given of myself to them? Surely Aunt Miriam never had to put up with such nonsense!

Smile.

It hit me recently that Aunt Miriam was nearly forty when I was born. She had already gone through much suffering by the time I knew her. Perhaps it was the suffering–the sadness–that the Lord used to mold her into the incredible woman I knew.

I often hear cynics state that a God of love would not allow suffering. If He’s all powerful, why can’t He simply make our lives easy and pain free? But what if He did? Right now I’m picturing a world that is void of pain and suffering. Everyone is living on Easy Street. It’s not a pretty picture! Everyone in this utopia is selfish and spoiled. (By the way, this is not a vision of heaven; it’s a picture of people on earth who have never learned to deal with life’s challenges because they’ve never had any!)

The Bible says that life is “a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). Compared to eternity, life on earth is very short, so even the worst of suffering is “not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

But we don’t even have to wait for heaven to find the value in pain. It drives us to God in ways nothing else can. As C.S. Lewis said, God “shouts in our pain.” He uses it to get our attention, and when He does–when He gets us to gaze upon Him–we discover something: He is altogether lovely!

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Aunt Miriam found that rest. She had “peace in the midst of the storm.”

Note: As I write this, I’m aware that the focus has shifted a bit. I didn’t set out to analyze why Aunt Miriam was such an incredible person. I just knew she was!

If the average Christian were to be asked what types of people would be most honored in heaven, his answer would likely include preachers, missionaries, and others who sacrifice in ministry. According to First Corinthians 13, however, without love, even our greatest sacrifices and accomplishments profit us nothing. Even faith that moves mountains is nothing without love.

I believe with all my heart that what the Lord really wants from us is unconditional love. The agape love described in this chapter is not the give-and-take reciprocal love that is very selective. It is not based on the worthiness of the person being loved.

It is kind… to everyone.

It is longsuffering. (Some people claim that they “put up with” a lot of mistreatment. Love goes beyond that. It knows how to “let it go!”)

It thinks no evil.

The other day, my poor little feelings got stepped on, and I wanted to react. I thought up a three-point sermon that would effectively demonstrate how unfairly I had been judged.

Then I thought of Aunt Miriam. I remembered my testimony at her funeral: “I want a double portion of her spirit.”

I wondered how she would have reacted in that situation.

She would have prayed for the person who hurt her… she would have thought no evil… and she would have loved.

That’s how I want to be.

Enjoying a Detour!

I read somewhere that it’s a good idea to have a static home page if you don’t intend to post regularly. My problem is that I don’t know how to do that, and right now I don’t have time to find out!

Proverbs 16:9 tells us, “A man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps.”

I’m sure that applies to women too!

At this moment, my steps are being directed away from this blog! I’m not complaining; I’m actually excited about what the Lord is doing in my life. Still, it’s a detour, so I felt I should post something just in case someone stumbles on this blog and wonders if I still exist!

Embracing Sadness

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It’s hard to type through tears, but I’m so happy right now, I think I can manage!

Shortly after writing my last post, I witnessed another answer to prayer. The circumstances leading up to it were painful–so painful that I cannot share the details–but the resulting joy was oh, so worth it!

Joy is often born of sadness. Think about the Chicago Cubs! Okay, maybe that’s a little shallow, but it’s a good example! They hadn’t won the World Series in over a century! That made their victory this year so much sweeter!

The joy I’m experiencing right now goes much deeper than the pleasure of seeing my team win a championship after a hundred-year drought. It came with a cost: someone died. But I believe he would say it was worth it: his brother was saved! He came to know Christ as his personal Savior.

The trials of life really are good for us. The apostle Peter reminds us of this:

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Peter 1:7-8).

It seems strange to call a trial precious, but it is. Paul said repeatedly that it was the trials of life that made him strong:

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (II Corinthians 12:10).

Earlier in that same letter to the church at Corinth, Paul spoke of the trouble that came to him and his team in Asia: “…we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life” (II Corinthians 1:8).

I love what he says next!

“But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead (verse 9).

Mary and Martha would not have known the joy of seeing their brother Lazarus raised from the dead if he had not first died.

We need not fear what God may allow in our lives. The greater the trial, the greater the opportunity for Him to show His power. The deeper the need, the deeper He goes!

And when God shows up, nothing can keep us down!

The Key

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I have a confession: I’m nearly fifty-five, and my favorite movie is a cartoon (a Pixar “animated feature,” to be exact). Inside Out was the first movie I ever watched that made me want to find out all I could about the author and director (Pete Docter). It was the first movie that made me want to have my picture taken at Disney World with its main characters, Joy and Sadness.

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An eleven-year-old girl’s emotions are the stars in this incredibly insightful story, which challenges Joy’s assumption that the child “just needs to be happy.” Joy eventually comes to realize that there is more to a meaningful life than simply fun and games.

Many people are like Joy. They seek fulfillment in anything that makes them happy, only to find that it’s all an illusion. My heart breaks for those people.

God is real, and He wants to be known. A personal, intimate relationship with God brings joy and peace, no matter the circumstances. We don’t have to understand what is going on around us, because the peace of God passes understanding (Phil. 4:7).

Corrie ten Boom experienced the horrors of a concentration camp during World War Two. She suffered under some of the worst conditions imaginable. Later, she described life at Ravensbruck as existing on two separate levels: the physical life grew more horrible every day, but the spiritual life, the life they lived in God, grew better every day, “truth upon truth, glory upon glory” (The Hiding Place).

The problem is that most people don’t develop (or even desire) a relationship with God. They pray for things because they want things. They see God as a provider, but not as a companion. They seek satisfaction in other things, but nothing else satisfies.

God tells us to “grow up” in Christ (Eph. 4:15). When a child is born, his relationship to his parents is the same as when he is grown, but as he grows, he gets to know them better (ideally). The same is true in our relationship with God. If we never grow up in Christ, if we always view Him as merely the supplier of our needs, we will miss the intimacy that He wants us to have with Him: “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8).

Those who think a “good God” would make sure that life is smooth sailing make the same mistake that Joy made in Inside Out. God wants so much more for us than an easy ride. He wants to give us Himself.

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33).

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13).

Our Daily Bread

 

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Eight years ago, when my husband retired from the United States Air Force and went into trucking, I didn’t think of it as trading one “heroic” occupation for another.

Today I do.

He delivers to warehouses in South Carolina bread baked here in North Carolina. The warehouses, in turn, deliver the bread to individual stores.

My husband is an unsung hero.

I didn’t know it until last week when Hurricane Matthew came through and disrupted all our lives.

Suddenly, everyone was in need. Some people needed to be airlifted from rooftops. Others just needed water, which seems ironic, considering our problem stems from too much water—just none to drink!

Whatever the need, one thing became clear: we need each other.

We need workers to keep the power going…

To keep the water flowing…

(And to make it drinkable!)

This week we need delivery trucks to find ways around hundreds of washed-out roads and highways.

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We need our daily bread.

What we sometimes forget is that those whose job it is to meet our needs have needs themselves.

As the crisis wears on, tempers flare. That hurts everyone.

I’m reminded of Dr. Anna Pou, the Louisiana cancer surgeon who lived through a nightmare in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. After flood waters knocked out the generators in that eight-story hospital in New Orleans, many fled. Dr. Pou, however, remained, doing what she could in excruciating conditions, which included sweltering heat and total darkness, to save and evacuate as many patients as possible. She was among the last to leave. I cannot imagine how she must have felt when, nearly two years later, she was arrested and taken to jail in handcuffs, charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of four patients who died during that crisis.

I can’t imagine what the following year must have been like for her as a grand jury considered her case.

When the grand jury refused to indict, everyone who knew Dr. Pou cheered, including her patients.

Dr. Pou later helped get legislation passed to protect doctors and nurses working in crisis situations.

So what am I trying to say? What does that story have to do with delivery trucks?

Appreciate everything.

Take nothing for granted.

Most of all, heed the words of Jesus: “Love thy neighbor.”

Answered Prayer

Last week God answered a prayer that had been on my heart for years.

Years.

It seems the longer we wait for an answer, the more precious it is when it comes! The timing of this one was “extra special” to me for another reason. There are several things that are heavy on my heart right now which I have been praying about for years. One day I finally broke down and confessed to the Lord that I needed some encouragement. I begged Him to answer at least one of those prayers immediately! Simply put, He granted my request. The purpose of this post is to publicly thank Him and to share with the world (or at least the four people who will read this!) how much He means to me.

I realize that posts are supposed to be short, so I created a page on this blog specifically for answers to prayer. I am always encouraged by others’ stories of answered prayer, so I want to be an encouragement to those who may need it.

I can’t end this post without sharing at least one story. This one isn’t even mine, but it made a huge impact on my life…

In August of 1987 a group from my church went on a “missionary journey” to Mexico. The trip was life changing. It was full of dramatic demonstrations of God’s power. But it was something little—a “mere coincidence,” some would say—that still makes me smile nearly thirty years later.

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We were traveling in a caravan of about five vehicles when our van started to overheat. Pastor Herbster (our driver) announced on the CB radio that we would need to stop to check it out. Dutifully, all the vehicles pulled into a nearby parking lot. As it turned out, the problem was not at all serious. In fact, the van started to cool almost immediately. Pastor decided to let it sit for a while to be certain there wasn’t a problem. No one complained. It gave us a chance to stretch our legs!

One thing, however, puzzled me. There was a Mexican woman named Nellie traveling with our group. I saw her take off on foot and wondered why. As it turned out, earlier in the day she had asked Valente (the missionary traveling with us) if she could stop and see her mother since we would be passing right by her house. Valente had told her no. He knew we wanted to get to LaPalma as quickly as possible, so he didn’t even mention it to Pastor. Nellie started praying. When Pastor announced over the CB that the van was overheating and would have to stop, Nellie just smiled. At that point, we were in the exact spot where her mother lived. Coincidence? I don’t think so. We resumed after a half hour or so, and never had another problem with overheating. It is fun to watch the Lord do little favors for His children!

I know that story may seem trivial in light of the heavy burdens that all of us bear, but I love it because it reminds me that God loves His children so much, He gets involved in even the little things. He uses those things to help us trust Him with the big things!

Whatever you’re dealing with, don’t give up! Don’t lose heart. Keep praying. God is real.

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16b).