Helpless

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She was 82 years old and started out every morning praying, “I am helpless except in you, O Lord.”

Conception P. Manfil lived in a discarded wooden crate someone brought her from a freight train. She had bought property in Kingman, Arizona, sight unseen and moved there when she retired. When she arrived—she found she had bought an empty lot two miles from town. No water. No electricity. No neighbors.

For twenty years, Conception lived in her crate in the desert. Her only visitors were the prairie dogs that came in through her screen door. She shared her food with them.

Every day, Conception walked two miles to the nearest store to get water and carry it back to her house. Then arthritis hit. It was painful to walk and she hobbled—but she kept walking. Her Social Security checks were just a bit over $100 a month. She couldn’t afford transportation.

Every day, Conception prayed, “I am helpless except in you, O Lord.”

One day a salesman from the local newspaper stopped by. “I love your paper,” she told him. “I get it once a month when I have enough money left over from my Social Security at the end of the month to buy it at the store—but I can’t afford a subscription.”

He left. He came back. He asked if he could take some pictures. “I don’t have any money for pictures,” she said.

“It won’t cost you anything,” he said.

An amazing thing happened. A well driller stopped by and drilled a well. An electrician came and installed an electrical connection and lights. People showed up at Conception’s door with groceries, a refrigerator, clothes, a stove, dishes—and more gifts than Conception’s small crate could hold. Then a house builder arrived.

God had sent help to the 82-year-old woman who was helpless except in Him.

Coronavirus or not, God can do the same for us. We are all helpless except in the Lord Who made heaven and earth.

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Works for Me

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My reaction to the Coronavirus is unpopular here in the UK: I’m angry over the mass hysteria and the media who created it, and at the same time, thanking God for sending a message to the entire world—“Hey! This is God. Remember Me?”

God is either in control, or He’s not in control. Prayer either works, or it’s a waste of time. Jesus is either the Healer, or He is not. Common sense like hand washing is common sense. But drastic measures like isolating millions of people is seeking a human solution rather than turning to God—and that’s lunacy.

Not that I have a problem with self-isolation. I’m a hermit. If it weren’t for my stomach and the lack of internet service, I would live in a cave in the desert. But I enjoy good food and writing is my life. I couldn’t exist without it.

My reaction to the Coronavirus is to quote two of my favorite scriptures: “In everything give thanks,” 1 Thessalonians 5:18, and “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.

Oh. And I just released another book. Works for me.

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The Positive in the Negative

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With all the hype, fear mongering, and panic buying caused by the Coronavirus, one thing is positive. With prime ministers, Hollywood stars, and sports figures getting cases it underlines human sameness and frailty—and the need for God.

World leaders get Coronavirus. Rich people get it. Famous people get it. No amount of power, riches, or fame stops the Coronavirus.

Same with God.

World leaders need God. Rich people need God. Famous people need God. No amount of power, riches, or fame deletes the human need for God. We all need God.

“Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless. Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.” Psalm 108:12

“My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He who keeps you will not slumber. The LORD is your keeper; He shall preserve you from all evil.” Psalm 121

And of course the Psalm so many are quoting now, Psalm 91: “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver you from perilous pestilence. You shall not be afraid.”

Do not fear. Everyone who is reading this survived Y2K.

God is the positive of every negative.

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Not Worried

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I lived through Spanish Influenza when I was four. My sister Leslie and I were so sick with exodus from both ends that we lived in the bathroom.

My horse kicked me in the face. I spent my birthday and Christmas in the hospital. I’ve been thrown from horses. Once our pony bolted, tossed me over his head, and landed on me. Leslie was happy. I protected Smokey from broken legs.

I’ve survived a poisonous snake bite and an attack by an African lion. I ran across a fallen log over a creek not realizing a black bear was under it. I nearly fell into a rattlesnake den when I was hiking. I escaped from growling Texas feral hogs that threatened to attack.

I survived child abuse, rape, and two forced backwoods abortions before I was fifteen—both of which put me in the hospital after I nearly bled to death.

I spent seven years as a single parent working up to three jobs at a time. I traveled from coast to coast in a pickup truck with all my belongings in the bed. My son Luke and I climbed up on top of the mattress on top of the load to sleep at night when we stopped at rest areas. I couldn’t afford a motel.

More recently I underwent major spinal surgery.

I am not afraid of Coronavirus.

While 125,000 babies are being murdered in abortions daily around the world—I refuse to worry about Coronavirus.

There are 365 “Fear Nots” in the Bible, one for every day of the year.

“Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you.” Psalm 91.

Coronavirus does not scare me.

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Victim

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Everyone is a victim in today’s world.
Victims become alcoholics because depression causes them to drink. They become drug addicts because of dysfunctional homes. They become sexually promiscuous because parents didn’t love them. They engage in porn because they have issues with their bodies.
I read a story about a young girl who bashed the police for not taking enough action to prosecute the perpetrator of “revenge porn.” The girl willingly took pictures of herself naked and sent them to a guy she met on the internet, but she said she was a victim because she trusted the guy and he posted her pictures online. The girl was incensed because the police reaction was—you shouldn’t have taken naked pictures of yourself and sent them over electronic media.
Exactly what my mother would have said. My mother wouldn’t have called me a victim—she would have called me stupid.
Common sense says that you are responsible for becoming an alcoholic. You are not a victim unless someone holds you down and pours drink down your throat. Stay away from alcohol. Don’t take that first drink.
Common sense says you are responsible for becoming a drug addict unless someone ties you up and injects you. Stay away from drugs. Don’t take the first hit.
Common sense says if your home life was a disaster, get an education and work to give your children the harmonious home you never had. Put the past behind you and build a future.
Common sense says that if your parents never loved you marry someone who does and lavish your children with love. Lack of discipline spoils children—not love. Put the past behind you and give your family the gift of a great future.
If someone willingly takes pictures of themselves naked and sends them to someone else—that person is foolish, but not a victim. You are only a victim if you are locked into a room or held at gunpoint by someone who takes pictures of you naked—like I was.
I could tweet #MeToo for sex abuse, dysfunctional home, and having issues with my body—but I refuse to become a victim. By the power and strength of Christ Jesus living inside me in the form of the Holy Spirit, I am a victor.
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world—our faith.” 1 John 5:4
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57
Victim or victor? The choice is ours.

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Pain

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Unexpectedly struck with bone-on-bone arthritis after having lived an active life which has included painting signs; painting houses; climbing ladders to paint billboards; mixing cement; rock work, and walking and running long distances—I had to wonder why. I love God. Why so much pain?

I already knew that God never intended pain, illness, death, and sorrow to be in the world. He created Adam and Eve and gifted them with a perfect world. They would have lived forever without tasting the sour fruits of pain, death, illness, or sorrow if they had obeyed the one rule God gave them: do not eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

They ate the fruit. Sin entered the world. The first animal died. Years later, Adam and Eve died. Sin births death, illness, pain, sorrow.

Today I realized something else. The Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

If Christians were automatically protected from every adverse condition in the world—where would be the need for faith?

When we can praise God in every circumstance, good and bad, and recognize as Job did, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God,” we are exercising faith.

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Acres of Diamonds

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Acres of diamonds at my feet in the winter as each blade of crystallized grass releases myriad sparkles into the night. Dome of diamonds stretching across the summer sky at night.

Gold sun blitzing the sky during the day and gold traversing the sky at night.

Acres of diamonds, rivers of gold.

And yet…people lock diamonds in jewel boxes, hide gold in safes, and gather material goods to hoard in their houses. Instead of realizing that each day is a gift from God and holding it close…they hold gifts close and let God go.

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Misplaced Planet

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The headline first thing in the morning made me want to go back to bed, cover up my head, and let the rest of the world go by. Being claustrophobic and unwilling to cover up my head at any time—I stayed up to vent in this blog.

“Our Planet is in the Wrong Place.” Really? The Lord God Who created heaven and earth, who hung the earth on nothing, and who put everything into orbit made a mistake? I don’t think so.

Atheists and scientists endeavor to explain the creation of the world through various theories that deny “in the beginning God,” but they come up empty. A watch is made with a pattern, skill, and purposeful action. Put the parts into a box and they simply won’t assemble themselves no matter how much pressure, time, or exertion goes into waiting for them to evolve. Blow a watch up with a big bang and good luck finding the pieces.

Our collie puppy is ten months old. She’s a beautiful dog and has all the right parts—except one. Her pancreas is too small. She has Epi, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, and because she has that she must take enzymes every time she eats for the rest of her life. Just one malfunctioning body part and our collie pup’s life hangs in the balance. If just one part of the anatomy is vital to the survival of a life, how can anyone imagine that life just happened with no intelligent design or Designer. “In the beginning God created” explains how we got here on this beautiful planet that has a perfect orbit and is the perfect distance from the sun for life to exist.

Our planet is in the wrong place? No, but some people’s heads are in the wrong place.

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Rock-Eating Dogs

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Politics aside (we were just kids), my sister and I were appalled by something President Lyndon Johnson used to do; he picked his beagles up by their ears. I use that memory in my newest cozy Christian mystery, “Herding Bats.” Also the frustration of dealing with dementia. But back to President Johnson’s dogs.

If he were still alive today, I would have to apologize to President Johnson for my harsh judgment of him for allowing his beagles to eat rocks. As a kid, I couldn’t imagine anyone letting their dogs eat rocks. Now we have a rock-eating dog.

Our blue merle rough collie puppy started eating rocks, a symptom we have since learned of Epi, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Savannah will have to take enzymes with her food for the rest of her life. Her rock eating spate thankfully stopped after the enzymes started.

I don’t know why the Prez’s beagles ate rocks. But I do know that I was stupid and judgmental, a habit just as ugly, dangerous and damaging as eating rocks. “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” James 4:12 warns . I hadn’t read it when I was a kid – and sadly – I tend to forget it now as an adult. But having a rock-eating dog has humbled, taught, and reminded me. God has a right to judge. I don’t.

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Excesses

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The man was about the size and shape of a refrigerator, except with extra padding in front—padding that pushed him away from the table and his food. Like the man, his food was considerable: a full Scottish breakfast (bacon, sausage, black pudding, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, baked beans, an egg, and toast); a bacon and egg filled bun; two bottles of Pepsi; two cappuccinos; two desserts.

It was the man’s business. It was the man’s body. It was his money. His bill for one meal was as much as ours for two. Moving seemed to be a problem for him, even though he looked like he was in his early forties. He grabbed and pushed everything he could get his hands on to haul himself out of his chair and get to his feet. When he moved forward, he limped on both legs as if his knees hurt. Some folks have medical conditions that contribute to obesity. The man was probably hungry and with a body that big, it must take food fuel to move it. Still, I thought part of his overweight problem might be the excesses; a filled bacon and egg roll on top of the full breakfast, the two desserts, two bottles of pop and two cappuccinos.

When do our excesses become someone else’s business? When do we not have a right to our own bodies and to treat them however we want?

The Biblical answer is that we do not own our bodies. God does. God created us. Then He purchased life for eternity for us through the death of His Son Jesus. We are twice owned by God. “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19.

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple are you.” 1 Corinthians 3:17.

Because sin entered the world through Adam and Eve and sin brought death into the world, we all begin the journey toward death at our births. God didn’t want this or intend this—His plan was always eternal life. That’s why our bodies have great capacity for healing. But old age and death approach as steadily as a fish being reeled in on a rod until the net slaps under it and catches it. None of us can halt the day of our death, but we can fight against the excesses that destroy our bodies, the temples of God; gluttony, alcoholism, drug use, smoking. We can’t stop the reel and escape the net—but neither should we willingly leap into it.

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