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.

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!

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).

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).

Some through the Flood

some through the flood coverWith all the flooding that has occurred in recent days, it may seem strange that my mind is stuck on a flood that took place over forty years ago, but it is. Until now, my interest in the South Dakota flood of 1972 started and ended with the fact that it killed my cousin and her cat. (We were stationed in Italy at the time, so all news got to us late. I remember standing around the kitchen table with my brother and sisters as my parents read us the news about Sheila. After a moment of silence, one of us asked the question we were all thinking: “Did the cat die too?” Yes. Sheila loved her cat.)

The other day I went online to learn more about the flood that claimed 238 lives in and around Rapid City, South Dakota. As I read articles and watched interviews, hoping to learn more about my cousin, the story of one family stood out so much that my focus shifted. I devoured anything and everything I could read or watch concerning that family. I went to bed that night thinking about them. I woke up with them still on my mind.

I was planning to write a different blog post today, but I can’t get my mind off that story.

So I’m taking a detour.

Perhaps God wants someone else to hear it.

In 1972, Ronald Masters was the pastor of a church in Rapid City. On June 9 he was on the mound pitching during a church baseball game when the rain started.

Fast forward a few hours. The Masters family lived next to Rapid Creek. The local news was reporting that their area was at high risk for flooding. Water had, in fact, entered their house by the time a concerned church member called and offered refuge in his own home. A short time later, Ron Masters, his wife LaVonne, and their five children, already in pajamas, left their home, piled into their International Scout, and started to cross the bridge over Rapid Creek. Unbeknownst to them, the Canyon Lake Dam had just failed. They were still on the bridge when a wall of water hit, forcing the Scout off the bridge and into the creek, which was now twelve feet above its normal level.

As the storm raged and water filled the vehicle, in the black of night Ron Masters heard the voice of his twelve-year-old son Stephen: “Dad, this is all in God’s hands.” Those were the last words he ever heard from his son.

When the Scout became lodged in some cottonwood trees, Ron was able to get a small opening in a window. He managed to squeeze out and then reach back in for his family. Unable to see anything, he felt around until he grabbed someone. It was his wife. As soon as she was out and clinging to a tree, he reached back in and found his fourteen-year-old daughter Karen, who was holding her two-year-old brother Timothy. As Karen came through the opening, the raging current ripped Timothy from her arms. (His was the last body found, days later, lodged in a tree.)

Suddenly, another wall of water hit, and the family vehicle was gone, along with the other three children.

Ron and LaVonne Masters and their daughter Karen survived the stormy night clinging to tree branches, struggling to hold on as tons of debris, some of it burning, floated past, often striking them. Sometimes a body would float by. Throughout the night they could hear the pitiful cries of a young girl, also trapped in a tree. Even with their own plight, their hearts ached for her.

Songs in the night…

In the midst of the horrors of that night, somehow God gave Ron and LaVonne Masters a song–several songs, in fact–songs in the night. Throughout the night they sang hymns, including “God Leads Us Along,” by George A. Young:

Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

Finally, dawn began to break, and the water began to subside, revealing the family vehicle under their feet. It had remained all night caught in the tree, completely submerged.

Suddenly, from inside the vehicle, a voice…

It was JoAnn, their ten-year-old daughter.

She had spent the night alongside her brothers, submerged in the Scout.

For a while, all three children had been able to breathe and talk due to a small air pocket in the back of the Scout. Soon, however, the older brother had stopped talking, and then the younger, leaving JoAnn alone.

She spent the night like that… underwater… between two dead brothers. She didn’t know if anyone in her family had survived. She didn’t know if she would survive.

All night.

I can’t imagine.

On the morning of June 10, 1972, when JoAnn saw her daddy’s face and realized she wasn’t alone in the world, she said these words: “Daddy, God wants me to be a missionary.”

“Honey, He surely must,” her daddy replied. “He surely must.”

As I read this story and listened to an interview with Ron and LaVonne Masters, I was reminded once again that God can be trusted. He can take the worst of circumstances and use them for our good and His glory.

There is so much more to this story.

There is more to my story.

There is more to my family’s story.

I want to keep writing, but blog posts are supposed to be short.

So I’ll stop.

For now.

God’s still working.

We can trust Him.

More to follow…

Note: You can read the whole story in Ron and LaVonne Masters’ book Some through the Flood, available on Amazon.com. The interview can be seen on the Rapid City Public Library’s web site.