Paula’s Picnic

Part Three

As Derrick and his friend strolled toward the group around the picnic table, Paula took a good look at her. Slim and tanned, wearing a mini-skirt and what was probably a designer blouse, she looked like a million dollars. Paula glanced down at her own very practical clothes and felt like an ugly step-sister in the presence of Cinderella.

“Hey, guys! Have you left some for us?” Derrick called to some of the fellows who were sitting on a blanket.

“Hey, Derrick,” one of them called, “glad you could make it. You’re just in time to say a table grace.”

“You should introduce us to your friend,” Ryan Pinder added, looking quite impressed with what he saw. The blonde flashed him a grateful smile.

“I want you all to meet Kelsey Hallstrom, an old friend…and my new personal trainer.”

“Personal trainer! What kind of training are you needing, Derrick?” Brad asked as he stood up to shake her hand.“I’m Brad Miller. Pleased to meet you, Kelsey.”

“Oh, he needs a lot of training! You’ll have quite a job on your hands, lady!” one of the other fellows joked as he shook hands with her.

“Physician heal thyself,” Derrick countered with a laugh and a playful punch.

“I decided I needed to go join a gym and get into shape. Too much sitting in an office. And who should I meet there but Kelsey! She’s come back to her old stomping grounds and now she’s going to whip me into shape.” He gave her a warm smile.

“You look pretty fit for the job,” Ryan commented, giving her the once over. “Maybe I should get into fitness, too.”

The way he said it made Paula uncomfortable. She wondered, should a Christian be so open with those kind of looks and comments? Maybe Ryan was just paying a compliment, but she would be embarrassed if some man looked her over like that.

Kelsey just winked and flashed another big smile at Ryan. “I work at it.”

Paula glanced at Derrick. He was looking at Kelsey almost as if he was seeing her for the first time. What was he thinking?

The couple arrived at their table and more introductions were exchanged. “Welcome to our little group, Kelsey,” said Anne. “ Shall we make room for both of you here, or are you going to join the guys, Derrick?”

“Yeah, I’ll leave Kelsey in your care.” He smiled at Paula. “I know you’ll be good for her.” And he walked over to join the fellows on the blanket.

Paula moved over to make a space on the bench beside her and Kelsey sat down, smiling at her. A feeling of jealousy flashes through Paula’s mind, followed by the words, “”Let go and let God.” They brought her a moment of comfort. If it was God’s will for her and Derrick to get together, He’d work it out for them. If it wasn’t meant to be, she wanted to let it go.

Anne brushed a buzzy fly away from Kelsey’s arm. “Did I hear you’re back in your old stomping grounds?”

“Yes, I grew up here in Parkerton. I came back here in March, after my divorce.”

Well, I’m sorry to hear that…about your divorce, I mean,” said Sally.

“Yeah. Not nice,” Kelsey sighed. “Derrick and I went to High School together. Actually, we dated a few times, but then Shawn came along and swept me off my feet. I wish I’d stayed on them.”

She glanced toward Derrick and smiled. “I’m sure I’d have done so much better.”

“The burgers are ready,” one of the grillers called. “Everyone gather round and we’ll sing a table grace song.”

“Oh, dear. I don’t know any of that religious stuff,” Kelsey whispered nervously as they gathered in a circle around the table.

“That’s okay,” Paula assured her. Inwardly she wondered about Derrick getting involved with someone who didn’t know “religious stuff”. And I shouldn’t think he’s so involved. He may only have asked her here because she needs friends, she reminded herself.

After the blessing they lined up for the food. Kelsey went to stand beside Derrick in the lineup and Paula watched her talking and laughing with the guys. Disapproval washed through her thoughts. But if Kelsey doesn’t know the Lord she probably doesn’t see the harm in random flirting, Paula thought.

Then she thought of her teen years and remembered the way she’d acted around boys. She blushed, then smiled. You’ve come a long way, yourself, girl — with God’s help!

While she was standing in line waiting for her food, Paula sighed a prayer, “Lord, please grant me a pure heart, free from jealousy, and a love like Yours for those who need to hear about You.”


Hope you’ve enjoyed this story. Sad to say, the rest of the story isn’t written yet, but at least you’ve found out who this new lady is. If enough readers are interested in where the story goes from here, I’ll post some more as time goes on.

In my mind the setting for this story is back in the early 70s, when we were newly married and started attending churches in the protestant evangelical sphere. I was trying to capture the tone of those times as well as the people and the picnics I remember.

 

A Dip in the Pity-Puddle

Spring took a big step backward yesterday; the temperature dropped to -20 C last night and is supposed to go down to -24 tonight. (That’s -8 and -11 F) and stay cool all weekend.

A black bird crossed my path this afternoon – not a raven but a genuine blackbird. We took a trip to Outlook and saw Canada geese as well; a few of them were sitting on an ice floe in the river. It’s still pretty cold for the poor birds!

The Lord spoke to me about self-pity a few mornings ago. I was feeling really bad for the way a certain situation had turned out, something I’d gotten involved in on behalf of a friend. I’d had a talk with someone, hoping to explain my friend’s problem, but my listener had reacted negatively and later tongue-lashed my friend.

Of course I felt quite upset when I heard this from my friend. Instead of helping matters I seemingly had made them worse. The next morning I sat mulling this over, feeling blue, despairing of any improvement in the situation. Then the Lord asked me in a gentle way, “How much of your feeling here is actually self-pity?”

OUCH!

But I opened my mind to that question and could see that, yeah, some of my feelings really do stem from a well disguised self-pity. Then a strange thing happened: as I admitted it, that “blue cloud” lifted and the whole thing didn’t look half as bad.

When Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,” He was serious. It really does!

“Even our tears need washing in the blood of Christ before they can be acceptable.”

I was talking to my friend again this morning, encouraging her to pray about the issues that are troubling her. I feel that God is the only one who can really help her and she agreed with that, but she can’t bring herself to believe in, or talk to, Someone she can’t see. That’s a tough one! Or is it?

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”  Matthew 7:7-8

(Part of this was posted simultaneously on “Inspirational Thoughts.”)

The Quick Red Fox and the Howling Hound

spotted dogOnce upon a time a man who lived all alone in a small farming village was given a pup. He was a gangly creature with funny floppy ears — no beauty prizes would he ever win — but the little hound was very loving and his owner grew very fond of him. Every day the man would take his dog out to the field with him as he hoed his corn; at night he’d put the hound in a pen in his back yard and go to bed.

Down the street a ways lived an elderly widow with a big rambling back yard.fox winking One night a prowling fox found the place to his liking and took up residence under an old shed in this yard.

Thus began an interesting routine: at night the fox, off on his hunting expedition, would hurry past the dog’s pen. The hound would catch sight of it and would howl. Then he’d settle down and sleep for some hours. At the first light of dawn the fox would slip back to its den. The dog, catching a whiff of it, would start baying again.

dog & catThe owner didn’t know what was setting the dog off, but he concluded it must be some wild animal passing. Anyway, dogs do bark now and then. He gave the matter little thought until one morning his neighbor came banging on his door.

When he opened the door his neighbor shook a fist in his face. “You have to get rid of that howling hound! He’s keeping me awake all night long.”

The owner was amazed. “How can that be! My dog only barks a few times at night and a few times in the morning. It’s not like he’s barking all night long.”

“That may be,” said the scowling neighbor. “But I lie awake all night because I never know when he’s going to bark.”

So is he who anxiously waits for troubles that is he sure will come sooner or later.
floppy-ear dog
Epilogue: The dog was spared because the neighbor, after getting all hot and bothered about the issue and losing many nights of sleep, finally made his request to the one who could actually do something about the matter.

Does that sound familiar, too?

Called By My Name

He calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.” John 10:3

To be called by a wrong name always brings a disturbing aura with it.

A Mr. & Mrs. Schmidt, due to become first-time parents in several months, moved from one large city to another some distance away. They were strangers there, and commented on it that their phone would seldom ring; their friends would all need to call them long distance.

No sooner were they moving into their house when the phone rang. “Hello, Mrs. Glover?” asked a strange voice.

“I am not Mrs. Glover,” said Mrs. Schmidt, and went back to her unpacking. Time and again the phone rang with the same ‘Mrs. Glover’ being targeted, a lady who had evidently been elderly and very genial.

Looking in the directory, the Schmidts became aware that there were numerous Glovers in the area. It became a family joke as the Schmidts daily tallied the calls. Their phone rang more often than it ever had before. However, the incidents did lessen toward the time when their baby was due.

One early morning the baby came, a big boy with a healthy squall. Mrs. Schmidt was exhausted. She and her husband exulted over him for a little while, and then she dropped off into a well-earned sleep. Hours later she awakened, longing to hold her little boy. She rang for someone to please bring her the baby.

The nurse appeared in the door, the baby in her arms. “Here’s your girl, Mrs. Glover,” she said brightly.

“I am NOT Mrs. Glover!” Mrs. Schmidt fairly shouted, “and I DON’T have a girl!”

When Jesus calls us there is never a case of ‘mistaken identity.’ He knows who we are and everything peculiar to us personally. To Him we are all unique and He calls us in ways suited to our particular needs. He is a Friend who knows us, and our characteristics through and through.

Have you ever found yourself in a crowd holding a hand, thinking it was your husband’s…only to discover, much to your chagrin, that it belonged to some other man? When we walk with Jesus, with our hand in His, we are promised again and again that we shall “not be ashamed.”

When the Lord speaks MY NAME, it is tailored for me, and for my need of the moment…even if there are million Margarets in the world!

He does the same for you. Listen for Him today.

Written by my friend, Margaret Penner Toews;
first published in Canaquest Friendship Newsletter for Women

Want to Change Your Life?

Someone involved in handing out Christian literature received permission from the owner to put a tract rack in a small store. A few moments later he looked back and saw one of the employees pull out one of the tracts and start reading it.

He spun around and blurted out, “Don’t read that! Unless you want to change your life.”

The employee, stunned for a moment, answered, “Doesn’t everyone want to change their life?”

Do you want to change your life?

Looking at the history of our world, the goal of change has always been improvement. It may not pan out, but that’s almost always our aim. What improvements do you wish you could see in your life?

When Jesus walked by the pool of Bethesda (John 5:2-9) he saw a man lying there and he basically asked this fellow the same question: “Wilt thou be made whole?” Do you want to change your life or are you happy just lying here watching the world go by and visiting with your cronies? Jesus’ concept of change involved this cripple getting up and walking away from this place, disposing of that grubby old bedroll and rejoining the human race. Getting a job; working every day; making payments on a home.

He could have made shekels rain down from Heaven on the poor unfortunate, but Jesus’ help didn’t involve a cash handout.

If Jesus Christ walked by your house today and you glimpsed him as he was passing, would you run out and talk to him, knowing he’s in the business of miracles? What miracle would you ask for? To win the Lottery? A happy home? A physical healing?

If he sat down with you and talked about changing your life, what would you say about the things you feel need to change? What would He say? Do you already know some things He’d point out? What if He held out to you a package that contained enough power to make this change? Would you take it?

What answer would you and I give today if Jesus asked us, “Wilt thou be made whole?” I’ve been pondering that question for myself. How would I define “change”? In what ways would I qualify or limit the word “whole”? How willing am I for change that would involve giving up certain things?

One day I was talking with a neighbor who was very grieved about her smoking habit. She had already lamented to me at an earlier time, “ This thing has got my life. I’m never free.”

Well, this day I suggested, “I believe God can work a miracle for you and take away your desire to smoke; I know He’s done this for others. Would you be happy if He did? Shall you and I kneel down right now and ask Him to do that for you?”

For whatever reason, she declined my offer.

Do Not Grow Weary…

Originally posted on Along Life's Path...:

IM000248.JPG(an acrostic prayer)

Dearest Father, we humbly come to this hour to present ourselves again as sinners in need of Your mercy.

Open us to the washing of Your grace, dear God, as You continue to gather us as a hen gathers her chicks.

No one among us is worthy to call upon Your name, Father, except through the sacrifice of Your Son.

Obstinate we are, Father. We are opinionated, unyielding, and inflexible at times. We feel adamant about our own goodness, Father. Please forgive us, Lord, as we have been too much like this world in which we live.

Tailor us to fit Your will instead of us wanting to tailor You to fit us, Father.

Grant to us the spirit to stay the course for You and not grow weary in doing Your will for Your sake, O God.

Recover us…

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Appreciaton: Love’s Life Blood

When we lived in a small town in Ontario, I got together quite often with an elderly widow who lived down the block. I know that she missed her husband very much; they’d had such a happy home. She often told me about his attitude and what a blessing it was to her every day.

“Ernie was left motherless at a very early age. Then his father went out West and left him in the care of his grandmother and other relatives, knocked from pillar to post as it were. He never knew a proper home, so when he finally had one he was so happy for it. In all our years together never a day went by but what he told me how thankful he was to have a home of his own.

We were young, in our early twenties, but so naive. We had very little money when we got married, just enough to pay the rent and buy some furniture. But Ernie was sure that we were meant for each other and he never worried a lot about money. He had a strong faith and trusted that the Lord would provide.

Then came the Depression years and he had no steady work for five years. We were often down almost to our last dime–in fact one time we only had four cents in the house! Something would always turn up, though; the Lord always provided for us and we made it through those tough years.”

I am sure that this man’s attitude made their home a more pleasant place than many a rich man’s home! Wouldn’t we all be easier to live with if we’d cultivate a thankful heart and express our appreciation more? (But in this day and age maintaining a contented heart is an uphill climb, when advertisers tell us daily how we still need THEIR product in order to be totally happy.)

I do believe that love can conquer many obstacles. Two people together can accomplish things that they never could if each worked alone — if they can work together and not chip away at what the other does. When you have someone you love by your side you have something far more valuable and a force far more powerful than a fat bank account or a fancy new home.

Enjoying the Riches?

Or hanging out in the pig pen?

A fellow Meandering writer shares this new flash of insight she received while reading the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Our Father has banned pity parties in His house.

http://meanderingswithgod.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/the-prodigal-son/

We Persevere

Christine Goodnough:

Hebrews 12:1-2 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Originally posted on A Display of His Splendor Blog:

ACYS-55-XL

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4 NIV)

I read an article recently about putting in your time in order to learn your craft. It was an article about writing and all that went into writing that article. The author talked about the classes, writing assignments and prayer it took to get her to this point in her life. Each and every experience added an essential piece to her life puzzle. She explained that each article of writing was a culmination of the last thirty years of learning.

That is a profound statement. Our lives are a culmination of our experiences. For some, life has been difficult. Each step has been a struggle to survive. For others, life has been more comfortable. They have had their needs met without much effort. However, every person has something they are striving…

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