Saturday, September 29, 2012


Brent Page, our lifetime friend, went to Heaven yesterday.

At only 49, it seems far too early for us that God would call him home.  But ironically, during my devotion time this morning, I read Isaiah's words in chapter 55, "My thoughts are not your thoughts.  My ways are not your ways." 

We've known the Pages since our youthful pastoring days in the mountains of NC. Their four children came along just about the same time as our little tribe.  Frank and Brenton even looked a lot alike.  They honestly could have passed for brothers.

Same build.  Dark hair.  Beard and mustache.  Same stride.  Wide smiles. 

People at conferences where I had spoken, routinely approached Brenton saying, "Oh, your wife did such a great job!"  Eventually, he quit trying to explain that he wasn't Frank Hawley and just responded, "Thanks!"

At one state event we attended, a lady kept coming up to Frank saying, "I have that air conditioner for you."
Frank thought she was just confused; we didn't know anything about an air conditioner.  Only after she became totally frustrated and threatened to leave it in the church foyer did we realize the truth.  She saw Frank and thought she was talking to Brent!

To make it more confusing, Lisa and I were both ministers, too.  Had several precious little children in tow.  And for a while, both had dark hair!

Last year, I spoke for a conference Lisa directed for the women of Ohio - where they now pastor.  (Lisa directs women's ministry for that state and Brent has been the men's director for quite some time.)  Frank went with me.  He and Brent enjoyed three great days together!

The Pages have been the quintessential example of wonderful, long distance friends. 

Sometimes we went a couple of years without hearing from one another.  But when we finally got together, it was like no time had elapsed at all.  Conversation came easily; laughter abounded!  And a mutual appreciation for the friendship we treasured always served as the connective tissue.    

When Lisa contacted us this summer to say Brent was sick, we began to pray.  Brent had beaten cancer in his twenties.  We loved sitting around their farmhouse table, rehearsing that testimony!  And we fully expected that God would use this opportunity to once again show that He performs miracles.

This cancer became aggressive - very quickly.  And one afternoon we found ourselves on the phone with Lisa as they rushed Brent to the hospital; he had become too weak to walk!

Frank felt an urgency to get to his friend!

A couple in our church learned of the situation and approached me in the foyer.  "We want to pay for Pastor AND you to go to Ohio.  Go, love on your friends."  Oh, what a church we serve!

When we announced the next week that we would be flying to OH, our precious congregation took up a generous collection to help with the medical expenses the Pages faced.  (The cancer from earlier left Brent un-insurable.) 

Brent came home from the hospital and we flew to Columbus.  As soon as we dropped off our bags at the hotel, we called to say we were on our way to their house.

When we turned into their driveway, we saw them.  Brent and Lisa were standing, arm in arm, on the wrap around porch.  Now we know the effort it took for Brent to meet Frank there!

The two, brawny preachers grabbed each other in a bear hug that lasted for a very long time.

The traditional clap on the back (which seems to signal the end of all men's hugs) was followed by surreptitious swiping at eyes that had become misty.  And we followed them into the living room. 

For two and a half marvelous days we sat together.  Sometimes laughing; sometimes quiet.  Praying!  Always Praying!

I did whisk Lisa away for a visit to Starbucks.  But mostly we sat all together; drawing strength; celebrating life; rehearsing God's greatness. 

Frank has such an innate sensitivity for times like this.  (Probably part of what makes him such a compassionate pastor.)  He seems to always know when to be silent, when to speak and what words will bring encouragement to all involved.  I followed his lead.

When it came time for us to head back to the airport, we gathered around Brent's chair.  Frank led in prayer just as scripture mandates.  We bowed our heads and asked our heavenly Father for a miracle! 

The miracle has come but not in the way we thought.  Today, Brent is completely free of cancer.  He feels no pain at all and has the strength of his youth.  Scripture tells us that he is looking on the face of his Savior!  He has heard those marvelous words, "Well done, faithful servant!"   We are so glad for him!

But our hearts break for Lisa, Lindsay, Garrett, Taylor and his wife, Brooks and his.  We also grieve with the loving church family he left behind.

A mentor of ours (Martha Tennison) says that while we never question God's authority, we do ALL have questions!  So true for me today.

How appropriate that the Lord sent me to Isaiah this morning.  He also reminded me of the three amazing young men that Brent has raised to follow in his footsteps.  I see Lisa preaching before their church and Lindsay directing everything from behind the scenes.  I know they will go forward.

And in my heart I hear the whisper, "We don't grieve as those who have no hope.  We will see Brent again!"

Until then...........

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Do we get credit for the learning that we STUMBLE upon?!

I think we should!

Experts tell us that in order to stay mentally alert, we need to keep learning.  I'm fine with that.  But all this technology that I'm forced to deal with brings me to, what I consider, this totally relevant question:  Do we get credit for stumbling on information?

(I see all the educators in the audience shaking their heads with disbelief.  "She's 54 years old and still checking on extra credit?!"  Yes, it's true.  I was an overachiever in school!  And I had a zit on my temple last week.  So?) 

Actually, the dilemma involves both this blog and my phone.

My blog format has changed dramatically. It has me completely stumped. No one came on line to show me what to click and where to scroll the way Amanda did when she set me up.  It took me almost twenty minutes to figure out how to make a simple correction on my last post.  SIGH!

But I'm choosing to persevere!

And during vacation, my phone started acting up.  I don't know how to describe to you what it was doing exactly.

It created a three way call that I didn't request. When trying to find a number, the contacts list began rolling maniacally.  It called random people without my knowledge.  It frequently chose to mute itself in the middle of conversations.  This action left me yelling,  "I'm still here!  Please hold on!"  Pressing buttons.   Shaking the stupid thing.  Accosting strangers to beg for their help.  "Do you know how to un-mute this thing?!"

As soon as we got home, Frank took me directly to the phone store for a replacement.  I hate going to the phone store because I'm so far removed from any vestige of understanding.  As the sales person gives their pitch, I'm left to nod with the same glazed expression I had all during high school Geometry!

I nod.  Then I look at Frank.  Back at the sales person.  They recognize the lack of comprehension.  Look at Frank.  Finally asking me, "What color cover would you like, little girl?"  That's an exaggeration, of course. But only a slight one!

Reuben gave a brilliant sales pitch and convinced me (Frank) that it was time to upgrade to an I Phone.

Now, I may not understand when they talk about giggling bites, magnanimous pixies, blue teeth, why fly, otter locks and eye clouds.  But I DO understand that if I'm happy with an I Phone 4 and I Phone 5 will be coming out in just a few days, they will lower the price of 4!

(Have I mentioned that I'm FRUGAL?!)

I knew there would be MUCH to learn with such a dramatic transition.  But it also made sense. And besides, the learning would guarantee increased brain activity!  Right?

So, I limped along two more weeks with the sorely inadequate phone I had carried for almost three years.  And on Friday, after everyone else had clamored to purchase their very own I Phone 5, we swooped in to purchase a 4.

At Half Price!

And in case anyone is curious...........I chose a sparkly silver cover.  Just so you know.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Moving Day

  • Boxes packed.  Identified.  Stacked.
  • Cleaning supplies purchased.
  • Utilities and deposits - paid.  (Ouch!)
  • Help recruited.
  • Trucks requisitioned.
  • Keys in hand.
  • READY!  SET!!  GO!!!
Moving Day is here!    For Meagan and Nathan, that is.

Today they will set up house-keeping in their very first apartment.  "So, where have they been up until this point?" you may wonder.

For the past year, the wise young couple have been living with John and Joy.  Saving is high on Nathan's priority list.  (Go, Nathan!)  So when the Schreck's invited them to live with them for a while, they jumped on the opportunity.

Of course, they've contributed financially.  And having them around when Abigail was born proved to be a HUGE blessing! Spencer loves his "MeaMea" and Uncle "NayNay".  Meg and Nate kept things normal for him while mom and dad were busy having a new baby.

The newlyweds carved out a private retreat in the spare bedroom.  Both families set up and adhered to healthy "boundaries."  They quickly discussed any potentially toxic behaviors.  And forgave - DAILY.

That's how multiple families successfully share one home; just in case you wondered. 

But the time has finally arrived when the Smiths will establish their own house.  Meagan is ecstatic about putting out their wedding gifts.  Dishes, towels, blankets, pots and pans.  A wide assortment graces my entryway even as you read this post.

Of course, all things in our lives co-ordinate with the church calendar.  So before moving actually commences, all the fellows are currently engaged in the youth flag football game.  But there's also a method to the madness.

All flag football participants (mostly strong, healthy young men) will be invited to PIZZA and a moving party immediately following the game.  Brilliant, right?!

Joy is a little sad, oddly enough.  All those participating have either shared life full-time in a fifth wheel or they've lived with family before.  So, she knows there will be a huge hole where the Smiths have been. 

But life marches on!

It's moving day!

(If this post seems unusually short, that's because it is!  Last week I attended a class taught by Deanna Shrodes on maximizing our time.  In fact, she has a wonderful book just out entitled: JUGGLE, available on line.  Every single time I hear Deanna teach on organizing and time management, I'm challenged.  Today's short post is an effort to act on that challenge.  I gave myself thirty minutes!  That's all!  And I've already been interrupted three times.  But I'm within two minutes of my goal!!  Check out Deanna's book; you'll be impacted, I'm sure!)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Friend

Ah, the blank page!

I just finished tackling a blank page which needed to yield an entire teaching for this weekend.

So excited to be teaching a class for our district training event -the EXPERIENCE conference. Over a thousand leaders will be attending. And while my class will be for a limited number, it's always fun to be part of something like this.

But blank pages aren't the topic for my post today.

I wanted to tell you about a new guy that has come into my life. His name is Clark!

"Why is she writing about some new guy? I knew those dance lessons would lead to something crazy!" You thought that, didn't you?

Actually, Frank introduced me to Clark and practically insisted that we become friends. Clark has a special talent for massaging feet. And Frank gladly agreed to pay to have Clark begin massaging my feet on a regular basis!

"Is he a podiatrist?" you ask. No.

"Perhaps a giver of pedicures?" (Would that be a 'pedicurist,' I wonder?)

"Is he a masseuse?" Uh, NO!

None of the above.

Clark is actually my new shoe! Well, the maker of my new shoe. And I don't mind telling you that I'm in love!

All those years of standing in high heeled shoes have finally caught up to me. Some mornings my feet hurt so badly I don't want to stand on them. Not much choice there.

Last fall I went to see about a simple pain in my foot and ended up with a needle sticking through my foot! And believe it or not, that doctor dared to tell me it would feel better when it quit hurting! Oh, yes he did!!

So I've been on the hunt for comfy shoes that don't look like I'm already to the shuffling stage of life.

Enter my new friend.......CLARK! (Please hear the sounds of angelic, harp-type music and a hundred voice choir vocalizing a single, "AAHHHHH!!")

Comfortable sandals. Comfortable heels. Comfortable boots. Comfortable flats. Closed toes. Open toes. Straps. Sling-backs. And.........COLORS! Lots and lots of colors!!

I told Joy once that before they were born, I had a terrible shoe fetish. It mysteriously disappeared with six little girl feet to shod. But now that they all pay for their own podiatry needs? I feel the fetish returning with a vengeance!

Clark really thinks highly of the shoes they've created. They think women will pay any price for comfort combined with style. But they haven't met me. I have to experience comfort in both my feet and my pocket to know complete satisfaction.

Can you imagine my great joy when I caught not, one but two pairs of the heavenly footwear at more than seventy-five per cent OFF the original price?! (Cue angelic harps and singers!)

"Did you buy them both?" you ask.

Absolutely! Without even so much as a single moment of buyer's remorse!

So when I stand to teach this weekend, it will be without any consideration of how far I walked across the church campus to reach my designated teaching location. I will walk confidently, stylishly, and with economical soundness of mind.

Wonderful, indeed!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


(Explanation: This post was actually written early last week while I had no internet service available. When I finally reached an internet location, I had completely "unhooked" and it has taken me until today to get going again. I have another story to put on for tonight or tomorrow.)

How I’m wishing I had a birder book for this location!

I had never heard the term “birder” until talking with Allison who described herself and her husband as “avid birders.” Apparently, a birder is one who enjoys bird watching. Who knew? Well, Allison of course!

Anyway! I’m sitting on the porch of a lovely cabin provided by friends for the week. And I’m overwhelmed by the variety of birds flying all around. The hummingbirds I recognized right away.

Frank and I have watched them for two days now. We’ve identified a feisty one who battles (mid-air) to keep others away from the feeder she has claimed as her very own.

When I jokingly asked Frank what we should name this ferocious, mini-attack helicopter he immediately responded, “ATTILA!” I burst out laughing and said, “Attila it is!”

Being preachers, we naturally found a sermon illustration in that right away.

The little hummingbird didn’t put that feeder up. She has nothing to do with the life-giving nectar that’s freely available to her. She made no effort to obtain it.

And yet, she feels totally justified in trying to keep it all to herself.

Sounds like a lot of Christian people we’ve met.

They’ve received lavish doses of grace and mercy. They did nothing themselves to obtain it. It’s a free gift they’ve readily accepted. But they often point a judgmental finger at others, feeling totally justified in keeping the grace just for them. HMMM!

(Yeah, I know! Only preachers can watch a hummingbird and come away with a sermon illustration. Occupational hazard!)

A cardinal just visited the feeder behind us. And there are a host of other varieties. Tiny grey creatures, some with black caps. Gorgeous ones with yellow wings and chests. Beaks of orange and white. Red feet, black claws. Feathers of blue and even green. Such extravagance in the Father’s design!

The larger ones, like crows, aren’t as interested in the seeds we’ve made available. Too much effort, I suppose. (Sermon illustration in that; but I’ll save it for another time.)

I’m also intrigued by the incredible songs surrounding us. Technological silence makes way for a symphony of other sounds! Not a bad practice every now and again.

As you’ve probably surmised, we are on VACATION! And oh, how great is the joy of it!! I try to routinely stop at some point each day and appreciate the REAL world surrounding us. But knowing that I have almost two weeks to drink it in? Delicious indeed!

I’m not able to post this until we go into town later. (If we had a horse and buckboard wagon, you could start calling me Laura Ingles.) But post I shall.

And as my mind unwinds, I find I’m overrun with deeper thoughts I’d love to share. Points of encouragement I’d like to offer. Brace yourself, dear readers. After this STOP, I imagine I shall be full to over-flowing!