It’s a Miracle!

Several people have asked that I re-blog my stories. If you’ve already read some of the ones I am re-blogging, just keep on truckin’!

Perk and God

Hispanic and white hospital workersEons ago I was teaching OB Nursing in northwestern Ohio. I usually went to the hospital where we had our clinical rotation an hour before the students did, so I could have plenty of time to pick out their patient assignments, and match up each student’s leaning needs with an appropriate patient. This particular Thursday morning, as I was figuring their assignments, a nurse aide named Ruby walked up to me, and looked me straight in the eyes. She took my hand and said, “I was awakened last night by God, and He told me to tell you that your parents are OK. They are safe. You don’t have to worry about them.”

Now, no one had ever said anything like that to me before, so I could have thought she was looney. However, when I was in the 10th grade, Rosie, a family friend of ours, put her…

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Go Get Your Son

In 1984, my husband and I and our two kids, Charlie (age 2) and Erin (2 months), were living in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a warm weekend in June when I packed up my kids to head for Memphis to visit my friend Linda, and her family. The four hour drive went smoothly. Once in Memphis, we goofed around, reminisced, watched videos, and played with the kids.  Linda and Mike lived in a large house with a screened-in porch that was used as a playroom for their kids and they also had a nice pool out back Continue reading

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Tell me about your dream

 

          pasted-image           As usual, in a dream, you don’t always know where it started or where you are.

However, I was just aware that I was frantically looking for my husband, Bill. I was fearful and extremely desperate, running all around. I looked everywhere (wherever that was), and it felt like an eternity of searching. Then I saw the jet bridge (you know- that long boarding arm thing in airports) to my left and I ran down the ramp. It was the color of dusk in this tube, half full of nondescript people, but… there! I saw Bill- he was just about to board the plane. I yelled at the top of my lungs, “BILL!” He turned and looked at me, and immediately we hugged and kissed and I cried tears of joy. Then I woke up.

Bill was still sleeping, so I got up to take Lucy for her morning walk. When I got back, Bill was sitting on the front porch drinking his coffee. He said, “Well, I heard from God last night.”
“Yeah?” I said. “Tell me about it.”
“Well, I guess while I was sleeping, my heart literally stopped, and God, in a bellowing, booming voice yelled, ‘BILL!’, and an electrical charge in my chest jerked me out of my sleep.”
“Whoa- I guess God and I were both looking out for you,” and I told him my dream.

(By the way, Bill doesn’t have a defibrillator or pacemaker in his chest, just sayin’)

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He’s still here (aka funerals are for the living)

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Three or four months ago on a Wednesday, I received a text from my sister that Win,  a dear friend of mine had died. My heart sunk… “Oh why hadn’t I called her?” You see, every day since Sunday, God had been putting her name on my heart at different times throughout the day. “I need to call Win” I’d think, but then I’d get distracted or busy and I’d forget. And now, she’s gone. Tears welled up in my eyes and then I sobbed. I was feeling guilty at not calling her especially because God had whispered her name to my mind so much lately. Then, He said, “It’s not about you.” He said it in a kind way. And knowing Win, she wouldn’t be angry that I failed to call her.

Just yesterday, the day before learning of her death, I noticed my dog, Lucy, following me around our house, everywhere- even into the bathroom, sitting at my feet. She even jumped up onto my recliner to sit with me while I watched TV. When I went to bed, I remember telling my husband, Bill, “It’s like that death cat we saw on 60 Minutes- you know- the cat at that nursing home who sat on a person’s bed the night before he or she died.” I joked with him and said that he’d better not die. The next morning, while I was grieving, my daughter called when she learned of the sad news. She was so dear. I told her I was feeling bad about not calling Win but then I found out that she died on Sunday, the day God started whispering her name. I told her about Lucy, and Erin said, “God was preparing your heart for your loss.” I hadn’t looked at it that way.

The last time Win and I got together was at her house last fall. When I greeted her with a hug it seemed she’d lost some weight. She mentioned ever since she’d had the flu a month before, she had not felt back to normal. She had no appetite and was nauseated, but was tolerating liquids.She never had been a complainer, and during this visit, she shrugged it off. Being a nurse, I suggested she call her doctor, but Win said, “My doctor knows how I feel about this. I never go to the doctor.”

So, for the rest of our two hour visit, we talked about God and spiritual things. She and I were always on the same God wavelength, and were also very open and frank with each other. When she said she felt like she was coming closer and closer to Jesus, I asked, “So, do you think you are dying?” Her comment?  “Well, we’re all dying you know. It’s ironic, but if you think about it, the moment we are born, we are then dying.” I looked at her and said, “So, what are you feeling right now?” “Not peaceful- I’m beyond that. I can’t put words to it. I’m not content- that is so trite. I’m…..” she stopped talking and just looked like she was searching for the right word. I saw the word in my mind: “You are ‘settled’ ”   “YES!- that is it. I’m settled.” Our conversation wove in and out of every spiritual crevice. Before I left, I told her that what we had talked about reminded me of this book my daughter, Erin had introduced me to a couple of years ago, Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West (Compass)“.

On the drive home, I thought Win must have cancer, and I felt the extra copy of the Love Poems book was meant for her to read. The following day Bill and I drove to her house and I gave her the book, introduced her to Bill, and gave her a big hug. She called me the next morning, all excited and said, “Darlin’ how did you know? This book is just what I needed!”   “Oh, Win, I’m so glad. I just got a knowing on the way home the other day that this book would truly speak to your heart.”  “It did, it did. Thank you so much! I love you.”

And so, on Thursday evening when I was on my way to Win’s funeral, my heart ached. I thought about our last hug, our last voice communication, about my two friends, Jennie and Joe’s deaths, and of my Mom’s death 5 years ago. All were so special to me- so close- so honest and loving and giving. When I entered the church, across the room I saw Win’s daughter, Ann, talking to my sister, Julie who was Ann’s friend growing up. I hugged my sister and Ann, and I apologized for interrupting them. “Go ahead, you two- catch up. I just wanted you to know I’m here.” As I turned away to gather my thoughts, Ann reached out to me and said, “Patty… you know that book you gave to my Mom? I read that to her often.”  I smiled and nodded. Then I hugged Win’s son, Chris, and asked him, “Do you mind telling me what happened?” Chris didn’t know that I had seen his Mom a couple of months prior, but it was soon after my visit to her that she had a mild heart attack, and while in the hospital, found out that she had cancer. She lived her final two months at Ann’s house. On my drive home, I thought about Win- she was light, laughter, and love. And I gave thanks. “Thank you, God, for bringing Win and her kids into my life, for that beautiful book, for Ann and her family caring so tenderly for Win, for my sister being Ann’s friend, for Ann’s kids being my kids’ friends, for Lucy, and for my husband, Bill, who held me closely when I learned of Win’s passing and shares his love and life with me. And Lord, thank for being in charge- for somehow lining things up to help us understand life, death, and for loving us always.”

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Jesus draws near

On my way home from church last week, I thought about how I could purposefully include Jesus in my life.  I think about Him from time to time, but I was
feeling rather guilty that I can hear a sermon, and agree with it, but that I don’t always put it into practice. Do I not have enough faith?

Then, out of the blue, I saw in my head those two people in the Bible who were walking to Emmaus.

The setting:

Jesus had died on the cross, and it was the third day. The women and Peter and John had discovered Jesus’ body missing from the tomb. The disciples didn’t believe the women’s story, and Peter wondered what had happened. Clearly, they experienced something unbelievable, but lacked the faith to believe.

This same day, two people were walking on the road to Emmaus.They talked together about all that had happened: Jesus’ life, death, and of the crazy story of the women. As they talked, Jesus “drew near”  and went with them. (They didn’t know it was Jesus). They told Jesus they were sad because this Jesus fella was so awesome, and they had hoped He was the one who was going to redeem Israel. They mentioned the women’s cockamamy story. The three of them conversed, but Jesus did most of the talking, even taking the time to tell them all the old testament stories and predictions of His life and death. At dinner time, Jesus “took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then, their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight.”

I asked God, “OK- so what do You want me to learn from this story?”

“Well,” He said. “I draw near to you as you go about your day. I draw near to you even when you don’t believe what you read about Me in the Bible. Even when you don’t put in to practice what you’ve heard in the sermon. I draw near because I love you, and because I want you to know Me more and more.

imagesDon’t be so hard on yourself. The disciples didn’t believe the women’s story, Peter was doubtful despite seeing the empty tomb, and all of them knew Me personally. You have never actually seen me, and even though you read the Bible, go to church, pray etc, faith doesn’t come easy. I will always listen to you, and I will always point you toward Me, just as I did with those two who were going to Emmaus. You know that scripture verse, “Knock and the door will open. Seek and you will find.”  Well, sometimes I open the door without you knocking, and have you find Me even tho you’re not actively seeking Me, because I know you are human, and that you feel guilty sometimes, and that you don’t always put those sermons into practice. I do these things because I love you. Really.”

Lord, thanks for Your unending love. Thanks for drawing near to me. Thanks for Your encouragement.  Help me to encourage others who probably feel just like I do. You’re the best. I love You too!

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His word gets around fast

ford taurusSo last Thursday (Aug 14th) I was at my church attending our monthly Deacon meeting. One of the items discussed was our Helping Hands ministry, a service that we provide to people who need a meal, or a door painted, or whatever.  Mark commented that no one was using it, and wondered why. “Some people are too proud to ask for help,” said Debby. Some people might not even know we have this ministry. I said, “Well, maybe if we announced it in church that we have this ministry, and gave examples of the things we can help with, then our members may use it. For instance, God has given me the gift of giving rides to people, like to doctor appointments for example.” We decided that we needed to get new helpers, and post a list of the kinds of things we can help with in our monthly newsletter. After ending our meeting with the Lord’s prayer, we all went home.                                                                                                                                           The next morning, Friday, at 10:04am, my phone rang. I answered it, and the person on the other end was my elderly lady neighbor. “Patty? This is Louise. Are you one of the people who gives rides to people?”  “Why yes, Louise, I am. What can I help you with?”  “Well, I need a ride to my doctor’s office. I have an appointment at 11am.”  “Sure, Louise. I’d be glad to take you. What time should I pick you up?”  “Really? Really? You will really give me a ride?”    “Sure, sure. It’s a pleasure.” So, I took her to her appointment and brought her back home. Funny thing was, she doesn’t go to my church, and she certainly wasn’t at the Deacons meeting the night before.

With God, all things are possible.

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Prison Ministry

 

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          The place where I did prison ministry was in Chelsea, Michigan, near Ann Arbor. This place was a special project, where young men between 18 and 25 were sent because they were repeat offenders of crimes that were bad enough to put them in a regular prison, but not crimes like rape and murder. It was felt that sending young men to a regular prison would only harden them, and this project theorized that strict discipline, hard work, and exposure to Christianity would decrease the recidivism rate. Plus, the guys were helped to get their GED, and were placed in carefully monitored facilities once they finished their stint (120 days) and were not allowed to go more than so many miles away, except to go to church, for another 90 days.  The developers of this project were right- very few of the guys returned to crime after finishing this program. I was privileged to do prison ministry here through my church, the Ann Arbor Vineyard. The fellas were called, “Trainees”, not prisoners, and they had long days. 6am wake-up call, 3 mile runs, breakfast, and then work, work work. Cutting down trees, carrying the huge timbers to various places for use later to repair buildings or build new ones. Boot camp drills. The guards would yell at them 6 inches from their faces, “Trainee Smith!” “Yes, Sir!” “Do another 2 miles. You didn’t clean the floors right!” “Yes Sir!”, etc. They were taught total immediate obedience and never to ask a favor from any guard.

        The education building had 17 rooms for GED education and Bible ministry, and 20 to 25  guys in each room. The interactive Bible study on Saturday afternoons was not mandatory, but their only other choice was 2 hours of hard labor, so all 17 rooms were always full. I taught in the first room on the left at the end of a long hallway. The guards were rough and monitored the school hallways vigilantly. If they caught any Trainee nodding off, the Trainee was yanked from the room and made to do grueling work.

Toward the end of each Saturday lesson, the trainees were given a chance to take Jesus into their heart. One afternoon, Trainee Keck was one of 3 fellas who raised his hand. Just as the three guys stood up, a guard burst into our room and yelled, “Trainees Lance and Keck! Get out now and come with me!”

Then, 2 miracles happened:                                                                

#1)Trainee Edwards asked a favor of the Guard. “Sir, permission to speak, Sir!” 

The guard: “What?”

Trainee Edwards: “Sir, Trainee Keck was just about to take Jesus into his heart, Sir. Take me instead.”

#2) The guard: “Trainees Lance and Edwards, come with me now!”   

 

 

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BAM!

I called American Express Delta Airlines card to ask them about a charge, and said a quick prayer so I wouldn’t come across as sounding impatient or snippy (and the Holy Spirit came thru). The customer service guy was so nice (as usual), and I told him that I really appreciated how kind and helpful he was, and that Am Ex was always great! I also said if American Express ever needed me to do a commercial about how happy I was with their service, I’d do it for free.

And guess what? He said since I have been such a great bill payer  he was gonna add 2,000 sky miles to my account!

Then, I called Time Warner Cable ’cause I couldn’t find my bill, and I asked if someone could look at my plan to see if there were any way to save some money, and Ieesha found a way to have another DVR box here (for Kathy) as well as decreasing my monthly bill by ten dollars!! WOW!!!  I told her that I really appreciated how kind and helpful she was,  and that I would never switch to another provider because Time Warner’s customer service was always so kind and helpful! I also said if TWC ever needed me to do a commercial about how happy I was with their service, I’d do it for free.

And now, look. I got this card in the mail today:DSCN0567

(So far, no TV offers yet)

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Living Life

When my kids were, like 4 and 6, and  throughSold Home For Sale Sign in Front of New Houseout high school, I talked to them a lot about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I didn’t know about the Holy 3 when I was growing up. I do remember singing the Doxology in church: Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye Heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. I thought God was somewhere beyond the sky (wherever that was), and that Jesus loved me (this I know. For the Bible tells us so…).  But I hadn’t a clue who or what the Holy Ghost was. When I was 5, I prayed at night, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray thee Lord my soul to take.”  I actually changed that prayer when Charlie and Erin were 3 and 5 to “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray thee Lord my soul to keep. Watch me Lord, both night and day. Make it safe for me to play,” because I thought praying about dying every night was morbid.

But through their growing up years, we had some fun discussions.  The bible verse that says something like, “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matthew 6:1-4) was perplexing to them. So, I told them that God wanted us to do good things for others without bragging about it or trying to take credit for it. “For example,” I said. “You know that house down the street that has been for sale for a really long time, and the yard is all over grown with grass and weeds, and there’s litter everywhere? Well, we should go clean up the yard, mow the grass, and make the outside look really nice, and we won’t tell anyone we did it, but the neighbors will be happy, and maybe the house will sell sooner.” So the next day the 3 of us spent a couple of hours cleaning up and mowing the front yard, and we walked away grinning because we knew we had done something nice for the seller and the community. It cracked me up the next day when Charlie came home from Danny and Andy’s house and said, “Mom! Mom!! You were right! That house looked so good, someone bought it today! There’s a “SOLD” sign out front!” I didn’t tell them it probably was already close to selling, like in contract, because both kids were just so happy to see that their hard work helped someone.

I was explaining to them another day that the Holy Spirit is invisible, like the wind, but we see the effects of His efforts and He always has us right where we are supposed to be for a reason.  They couldn’t quite grasp that until one day when we were driving by a house where an old lady was struggling to shovel the mounds of snow out of her driveway ’cause she couldn’t get her car out. So, we stopped our van, and got out and helped her, and in only about 10 minutes, she was able to drive away. She was so thankful! When we got back in the car, I said, “See, the Holy Spirit had us driving down this road at the exact time the lady was outside because the Holy Spirit knew she needed our help.”  “Ohhhh” they said.

Another time we were standing in line at K-Mart, and the kids wished the line was moving quicker. Ahead of us in the line was an auto mechanic fella (his name was sewn onto his work clothes) who was buying only a quart of oil. I chatted with him briefly until we were checked out, and when we walked out the front door, there, smack in the middle of the parking lot was a frantic lady in a conversion van with the engine roaring really loudly. I walked up to her van window and yelled over the loud roaring engine, “What’s the matter?” She screamed, “The accelerator’s stuck! Help me. Every time I let my foot off the brake, the van lurches forward really fast!!!”  “Turn the car off,” I yelled. Just as she was turning the van off, the auto mechanic was walking by going toward his truck. I motioned to him, “Heh, can you help fix this lady’s van?” And he came over and adjusted a few things under the hood, and Bingo, every thing was fine. So, when we 3 were back in our van, I said, “Now see. The Holy Spirit guided us to that checkout line, and had the auto mechanic guy in line right in front of us, because He knew that lady would need help from a bold person like me, and a mechanic like that guy.” “Ohhhhh, we get it.”

Charlie and Erin grew up knowing that they were God’s hands, and feet, and eyes, and ears, and voice. They loved hearing my God stories, and telling their God stories as well.

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Divine intervention

Fall, 2002.IMG_1358

My daughter, Erin, is a freshman at a small college in North Carolina. She shared with me sometime in October that she’d met a lot of fun people, but so far hadn’t met anyone with whom she could have a steady relationship. “I just tell myself and my friends that I’m not dating because the guy’s an exchange student, so he’s not on campus this fall.”

The last week in October, I’m in my office at my Ann Arbor job, like around 2pm. I’m doing busy work and God sends me a quick message, “When you see him you’ll know.” Odd, I thought. Who? I asked Him. No answer.

What will I know?  No answer.

Oh well, I thought, I guess I’ll just have to wait. So, I kept on doing paper work, making lesson plans, etc, but that message rolled around in my head like marbles bonking each other in a jar. Close to 3pm. I got a knowing: “Oh, this message is for Erin!” I can’t explain how I knew that, but I did, so I called her on the phone right away and said, “I have a message for you from God.”

“Oh good- what is it?”

“When you see him you’ll know.”

“Who?”  She asked.  “I don’t know- I asked Him but He didn’t answer.”

“I’ll know what?”

“Ditto- He still didn’t answer”

“When?”

“Oh, good question. I didn’t ask Him that. But I imagine I still won’t get an answer, so I guess you just have to tuck it away in your head somewhere, and let me know when you see him.”

So January 2003 comes, and now I’m working in Columbus, Ohio, when I get a phone call from Erin. “Perk! I saw him!”

“No way! Who?”

“Well, I don’t know who he is, but he seems to know everyone on campus. I saw him in December, but I didn’t “know” he’s the one until now. I’ve seen him as I’m walking to class, and I’ve seen him at dinner. It’s like God turns my chin to the left, for no reason, and boom! There he is, a short distance away. I think he’s a pothead because he has a beard and long hair in a pony tail.

So, the first week of spring semester, Erin called me really excited and said, “Perk!  You know how I go to Thursday night worship at the Chapel? Well, last night when I went, there he was, up front, playing bongos with the band, singing and smiling. I really want to meet him!”

She asked a friend if they knew him, and it turned out he was a junior at her college, and he had been in New Zealand as an exchange student in the fall.  After the next Thursday night worship ended, she introduced herself and wondered if he wanted to get some coffee or something with her.

Erin ended up dating him throughout college, and married him shortly after her graduation. I shared this story at Erin and Rush’s rehearsal dinner. God… the Devine Matchmaker!

Proverbs 3: 1-6

My daughter, do not forget My teaching, but keep My commands in your heart,

for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Psalm 37: vs 3 and 4

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

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Charlie’s God story

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I’m pretty sure every kid dreams about owning a bus/van, or at least traveling the open road and living on the go. For me, that dream became a reality when I was 19. I knew I wanted an old VW. You know, the one with all the windows. I had never owned a classic car, but I really liked the idea of a VW because they’re easy to work on – I even bought the book “How to keep your Volkswagen alive” by the author, John Muir. So that summer, I began looking on the internet, near and far for something in good shape, yet in my budget. After searching for a few months, I came upon a 1967 VW Bus in Tampa Bay, Florida. It was perfect: Two-toned paint job, no rust, and everything was original! So I called up the lady, asked her a few questions, and booked a one-way ticket south. I was going to buy this thing!

I grabbed a cab from the airport and went straight to her house, where the Bus was parked and shining in the Florida sun. It really was beautiful. After making sure it was road worthy, we exchanged money for title and a few other tidbits. She even threw in 3 spare tires, which struck me as odd, but I went with it. I think she was pretty amazed that I had just flown all the way down from Michigan, just to turn around and drive back. Then again, I love the open road and a good adventure.

Getting out of town took a little navigating, but it also gave me a chance to get a feel for it’s handles, shimmies, and shakes. Other than having 34 year old brake technology, it ran like a dream. Soon enough, I was on the freeway and doing 60mph, windows down, with the wind blowing in my hair. I was really doing it! Then, fwap-fwap-fwap-fwap-fwap… “What the shit?!” I thought? I pulled over and inspected my rig, only to find I had a whopper of a flat. So much so, that the tread had ripped and was barely hanging on the wheel. Of the three spare tires in the back, one of them was mounted to a wheel and ready to go, but after looking around the bus, I couldn’t find a jack anywhere. Out of nowhere, a guy in a jeep pulls up behind me. “Need a jack?” he asks. “Uh, yeah. That’s exactly what I need.” Turns out he had a bus like this once, and knew how to change the tire in a jiffy. I thanked him for his help, threw the ripped tire in the back, and hit the road again – thankful that I had gotten any mishaps out of the way early. So, there I am again. Windows down, wind in my hair, making my way north and getting the occasional thumbs up from folks in other cars, when “POW!”

I couldn’t believe it. Was this really happening again? Still without a jack, I pulled over to the shoulder, took a deep breath, exhaled, and asked God what I was supposed to do now. Still in the car with engine hot, a police officer pulls up behind me. “Looks like a pretty nasty flat” he says. He asks me if I need any assistance, and I tell him I don’t have a spare mounted to a wheel, just tires. “Well, you couldn’t have broken down at a better spot. Just down the exit ramp is a little tire garage. I’m sure they’ll be able to mount one of those tires onto your wheel.”

I couldn’t believe it. God had my trip planned to the T. I rolled down the exit ramp, and sure enough, there was a tire garage. I explained my problem and the fellas at the garage threw on spare tire number two in no time. At this point, I was almost expecting to get a third flat. I mean, why else would the woman have given me 3 tires? Once on the road again, I phoned my mom. “Perk! I’ve got a God story!!!” and I told her all that had happened. We prayed that He’d get me home safely, and the rest of the trip was flawless.

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