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Archive for June, 2006

WHAT DAD TAUGHT ME

dadboys.jpg   

  Dad & His 3 Sons

 

Although dad was a quiet man who did not talk much, there were things he taught me that still guide my life today.  As the oldest child in a family of six, at times I acquired a bossy, know-it-all attitude towards my younger siblings.  One such day, I had called my sister Carol “stupid”.  Little did I know Dad was standing nearby and had heard my rude remark.  He immediately rebuked me for making such an unkind statement, and told me in no uncertain terms that there was no such thing as a stupid person.  To this day, I never call anyone “stupid”.

            Dad taught me patience.  When helping me with a difficult math problem, he never got upset if I was slow to understand.

            Dad taught me to be loving and affectionate.  He always would give each of us a kiss and a hug every night before we went to bed, even when we visited him as adults.

            Dad taught me to tell the truth by disciplining me when I told him a lie.  He taught me responsibility and rewarded me with a whooping 25-cent salary (a lot of money to an 8-year old) each week if I did my chores.

            One of the biggest things Dad taught me I learned as a teenager.  Dad had taken me to get my driver’s license.  To my horror, I flunked the driving test.  As I sat in the car with tears streaming down my face, Dad hugged me and told me that “all successes come through failure”.  He encouraged me to keep trying.  One of his favorite sayings was “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”.  A few months later, I took the test again and succeeded in getting my driver’s license.  What a victory for an 18-year-old.  I never forgot that lesson. 

         And as I look back through the years, I’ve seen that same leasson replayed over and over again in my life. Whether I succeeded or failed, Dad still loved me and believed in me.  Dad is gone now, but I’m so thankful I have a Heavenly Father who loves me through my successes and failures.  He encourages me to keep trying and to pick myself up when I fall short.  His grace is sufficient for me.

                   

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DEAR GOD

Many of you may have read the “Dear Abby” columns years ago.  I thought I would put in a “Dear God” column.  Can you imagine if everyone consulted in Him and took His advice, how much better of a world this would be?_________________________________________

Dear God:Sometimes it’s hard for me to know if I’m following the path you desire for my life.  I want to do your will, but I don’t always know what that is.  And I feel like I have so far to go before I get there.  Could you give me some direction?Love, Your Mixed-up Child Child of Mine:

Walking with me is a long journey; so don’t expect to arrive the first day.  Take it mile by mile.  Some days the road is smooth, and you move forward.  Other days the road is full of rocks and ruts, and the going is rough.  It’s so easy to get discouraged on the rough days.  But don’t give up.  Instead, let me guide you.  When pioneers set out to explore a new land, there were no maps to rely on.  That’s why they carried an indispensable little device called a compass.  They would set their general direction, and many times during the journey, they would check the compass to make sure they were on course.

You are on a journey too.  No one else on this earth has ever traveled exactly the same path I have charted for you.  The surest way to stay on course is to constantly acknowledge me in all you do.  Speak to me; listen to me; check your bearings against my Word (that is your map), and your feet will stay on course.  Come to me each morning before you set out.  Spread out the map, and we’ll look at it together.  I’ll help you chart your course.  And as you walk, I’ll be right there with you, saying, “Turn left here, my child,” or “Right at the next corner.”  Trust me on this journey of faith.  This is an adventure.  Aren’t you glad we’re in it together?Your Guide, God

…….this is the way…..walk ye in it….Isaiah 30:21

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bristlecone-pine.jpg 

 

High above the Owens Valley floor in East Central California, just north of Death Valley on the windswept slopes of the White Mountain Range lies an ancient Bristlecone Pine forest.  This forest contains some of the oldest known living things in the world, the gnarled and twisted Bristlecone Pines.  The oldest tree is estimated to be 4,700+ years old and has been rightfully named Methuselah, after the patriarch in the Bible.  Many of the trees living today were seedlings when the pyramids were being erected, full-grown in the time of Christ, and ancient patriarchs today.  These amazing trees have a unique secret for survival.  It’s called Adversity.

 The Bristlecone Pines are so amazing because they grow as twisted, gnarled, windswept trees at elevations around 10,000 feet and survive in extremely rough sandstone soil terrain.  The trees have short, dark green needles clustered together five needles to a bunch, and many still produce cones at the end of their branches.  Invasions from bacteria, fungus or insects that prey upon most plants are unknown to the bristlecone due to their dense, highly resinous wood. The dry air common in the subalpine region helps preserve the trees from rotting. This last week, Mike and I had the privilege of visiting this grove of aged ancients.  The drive up to the top was rather pleasant with isolated roads slowly meandering up to astounding heights.  As we neared the top and saw the striking contrast between the depth of the valley floor and the dramatic rise of the snow-capped Sierras towards the west, it nearly took my breath away.  My eyes were fastened to this panorama of majestic beauty.  When we reached the Schulman Grove and visitor center, and I saw my first glimpse of these trees, they were misshapen and contorted just like the pictures.  But they did have a desolate beauty about them, and I couldn’t help but admire them for the hardness they had endured for centuries.  Near the entrance to the visitor center, I noticed a sign with these words on it: 

“Sweet are the uses of adversity”  ~ Shakespeare

 I was reminded of a scripture in Romans 1:20 that says “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made…..”.   I could see how God uses objects in His creation to show us Spiritual truths.  As I began to think of some of the adversities I had experienced in my life, I wondered if I was bearing up under them as well as these Bristlecone Pines had done.  As the Bristle cones withstand the invasions of bacteria, fungus and insects, was I withstanding the invasion of the enemy’s fiery darts of bitterness, apathy and complacency?  Every day I must ask God to search my heart and make me more like these ancient patriarchs who have survived the tests of time and adversity. 

By:  Karen Mester

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  2 Corinthians 4:17

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 In my favorite poetry book called, "The Best Loved Poems of the American People", I ran across this poem years ago.  It has become one of my favorites.  I like to read it when I'm feeling anxious or troubled over situations in life.  Hope you like it.

The Town of Don't-You-Worry

There's a town called Don't-You-Worry,
On the banks of River Smile;
Where the Cheer-Up and Be-Happy
Blossom sweetly all the while.
Where the Never-Grumble flower
Blooms beside the fragrant Try,
And the Ne'er-Give-Up and Patience
Point their faces to the sky.

In the valley of Contentment,
In the province of I-Will,
You will find this lovely city,
At the foot of No-Fret Hill.
There are thoroughfares delightful
In this very charming town,
And on every hand are shade trees
Named the Very-Seldom-Frown.

Rustic benches quite enticing
You'll find scattered here and there,
And to each a vine is clinging
Called the Frequent-Earnest-Prayer.
Everybody there is happy
And is singing all the while,
In the town of Don't-You-Worry,
On the banks of River Smile.

I. J. Bartlett

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There are lessons to learn in the shadow
That can never be learned in the light.
His rod and His staff they will comfort
And guide you through the night.
Be not anxious to get through the valley
With its weariness and care.
There are lessons to learn in the shadow.
For God will be with you there.

There are lessons to learn in the shadow,
That can never be learned in the light.
Restoration begins in the valley,
This is where God turns wrong into right.

There are lessons to learn in the shadow,
Our need of Him is best seen,
When traveling through the vale,
On Jesus we learn to lean.

There are lessons to learn in the shadow
Though we long for the morning to break.
As you traverse the darkness remember,
“He knoweth the way that I take!”

There are lessons to learn in the shadow
Do not pray for an easy time.
Ask God instead to be stronger
And He will teach you to climb.

Yes there are lessons to learn in the shadow
That can never be learned in the light.
When the valley’s dark clouds overtake you
We walk by faith not by sight.
So study and learn through the hard times.
When you pass the final test
The lessons you learned in the shadow
Will gain you a city of rest.

By: Karen Mester

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kisseltoe.jpg   Note:  This post is still under construction.

Mike & Karen under the "Kisseltoe"

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THE SECOND GREATEST COMMANDMENT

  “Okay everybody, masks off!” shouted my youngest brother Johnny, to no one in particular.  After completing his first year of bible college, Johnny was spending his summer break at the Mester household (the home of his big sister, Karen).  John’s outburst was inspired by a book he had just read entitled, “Dropping Your Guard” by Chuck Swindoll.   

Hearing Johnny’s words brought to my mind an incident that had happened several years earlier in my life.  Having recently moved to California from the Midwest, I had felt so alone and friendless.  I had cried out to God in prayer about the need for a close friend.  Then one day, a lady at church called me aside and told me the Lord had impressed me upon her heart.  She sensed my loneliness and informed me that part of being a Christian was not only loving God, but loving people, and reaching out to others in friendship.   

I went home, and later that day, I read a portion of scripture in Matthew 22:37-40.  This is what it said:  “Jesus said unto him, Though shalt love the Lord they God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  Jesus also said, “…Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  Matthew 25:40 I realized that living for God is loving people.  It’s sharing their dreams, thoughts, fears, hopes, valleys and mountaintops.  It goes beyond the mask we often wear.  Yet so many times, we just plod through life without really touching anyone or letting anyone make an imprint in our lives.  Why?  For fear of being hurt, or our pride knocked down?  Yet are we any better off staying in our hard shell?  Safe?  Maybe; but how miserable. 

Jesus gave everything He had, up to the last ounce of blood.  He was rejected many times, but that didn’t stop Him from loving and giving.  Why?  Because His was a love that cared nothing for Himself, but only for the well-being of others.  In a world where isolation and loneliness have reached epidemic proportions, we need to reach out to others.  What kind of life would it be if we could never be our true selves with someone or touch another person’s life for the better? I’m happy to say that Johnny did take off his mask when his big sister Karen finally did; and the two discovered that not only were they brother and sister, but now they had become and still remain close friends.  I wrote the following poem in a desire to reach out to others who may be lonely, hurting or lost. 
 

PLEASE LISTEN

  

Please listen to what I’m not saying,

Please listen to what you can’t hear.

Though my signals may say, “go away”,

Underneath I’m crying, “draw near”.

On the outside I may appear happy,

It may seem like I don’t even care.

But inside my soul is crying,

For your love and friendship to share.

Why I play this game of pretending,

I really do not know.

Could it be for foolish pride’s sake,

That I put on such a show?

Perhaps I fear rejection,

Or being laughed to scorn.

But I can’t wear this mask forever,

You see, it’s getting quite worn.

In a world of calloused indifference,

Where people all go their own way,

Is there some hope of really finding,

One who’ll listen to what I say?

As I often walk the streets,

And watch the passers-by,

In my heart I sometimes wonder,

If like me, their soul does cry;

For someone to really listen,

And take the time to know.

To plant the true seed of friendship,

To watch it bloom and grow.

So please listen to what I’m not saying.

Please listen if you can hear.

And take the time to know me.

Oh won’t you please draw near?

 By:  Karen Mester12/22/82 

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