Monday, September 4, 2017

LETTER IN THE WALL



Don't you just love the books and movies about someone finding an old letter in the wall of a house or in a newly discovered trunk in the attic.  Usually there's a mystery involved, maybe even a homicide, or a dark secret of historical significance revealed.  It's a great story line! How many times have authors used that trick?

Well!  It happened here!  Yep!  Unbelievable, isn't it?

Because we are remodeling our kitchen and DUST is everywhere (that's another story), Honeybuns removed all the cabinet doors and drawers to be painted.  Stuffed under the bottom drawer of the desk was a bunch of papers, a plastic bag, a lone place mat, old stationary AND a large manila envelope addressed to the original owner of the house.  Those "treasures" had evidently been in hiding for many years.  The house was built in the mid-90's and it seems no one but the spiders had checked that abandoned spot for a long time.

I threw away most of the discovery but checked out that manila envelope before it hit the trash bin.

There was a split second where I thought MAYBE, just MAYBE, there was a stash of cold dusty cash, a certificate of ownership of something valuable, or a paper describing some stock in an oil company or the name of who really shot JFK or the location of Jimmy Hoffa's body. Adrenaline was flowing.  (Yes, I read a lot of fiction.)

Inside the envelope was a very long letter to Nancy, the original owner of the house.  It was sent by her friend Karen who at the time lived in BROKEN ARROW, OK.  (Now, that town is in caps because we moved from BROKEN ARROW, OK just three years ago.)   What????
How odd is that???  Do I know  this mysterious Karen??

Here's the scoop.  Karen was writing to her friend to tell her of a new ministry she had just become involved with at the United Methodist Church, BROKEN ARROW, OK.  A group of women gathered together to make and send greeting cards to people that needed some encouragement.
She sent samples of the cards, stories of people that were in distress and some follow-up replies of grateful folks that were on the receiving end.

She stated how she missed her friend, asked about the family, and shared names and news of her friends there in BROKEN ARROW, OK that were also participating.  She named the pastor, administrative people and members of her church.  It was a gossipy sort of letter.

I scoured all the names. Surely, I knew some of those folks. BROKEN ARROW, OK is a large city but I know folks there that attend that lovely downtown Methodist church to this day.

Nope, I didn't recognize a one.  I know, silly to think that I would!

BUT, what are the odds of finding a letter in a house that had been sent from BROKEN ARROW, OK?   Did I say, we'd just moved from there 3 years ago.  It is a LOVELY, WONDERFUL place and the lifestyle is easy and peaceful.  We have some dear friends that live in that area.  It was home for 8 years.

Well, no cash, no homicide, no stock certificate, no fast breaking news worthy of interrupting a football game or sit-com.   I'm going to have to embellish quite a bit to make a best-seller out of this mysterious letter in the wall. (That's what all writers do, you know.) I'll pour over it some more when this remodeling is done and I am no longer DUSTING!

Watch for it! This story may make it to the big silver screen one day!  Or not!

Or maybe I'll put Karen's letter back under that drawer for some future owner to find.  It'll be a real novelty when in that paperless society, some one finds a "parchment" imposed with strange cursive hieroglyphics.  That in itself will be an historical moment.



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

LOOK TO HOUSTON



We're right in the middle of the most devastating natural disaster this country as ever seen.
Hurricane Harvey has sucker-punched the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and is not finished the battering just yet as Port Arthur, TX  is today feeling his wrath.

The pictures we see are awful but cannot even begin to convey the confusion, fear, smell, dampness, darkness, coldness and loss.  The elderly, little ones, pets and livestock are particularly threatened.

After the record rainfall, 52 inches in some places, the flooding still happens.  Once clear streets are now roaring rivers and there is no place for all that water to go. The death toll is bound to rise once cars and homes are inspected for missing loved ones. The nation is experiencing overwhelming sadness as something far beyond anyone's control is raging.

Houston is experiencing a disaster.

Houston is also experiencing and displaying the most incredible goodness!

There are untold stories to be shared, some happening at this very minute.

People of every nationality, political persuasion, sexual orientation, color, ethnic background, size, age, social economic status, education, intellect, and title were forced by an "act of God" to CHOOSE to come together and help each other OR perish.  And the world is watching.

I am watching the miracle of citizen helping citizen with no agenda of financial, political or status gain.  People came out of their houses SEARCHING for a way to help their neighbor with anything that floats.  An army of personally owned flat boats, pick up trucks, dump trucks, kayaks, & blow-up pool toys appeared almost magically.  No government direction of any kind to organize or encourage was needed. And it continues!!  Thankfully!

What a refreshing sight right in the midst of one of the most politically and racially charged cultures of our day!

Help is being organized in other cities and states and is on the way.  Churches, stores and convention centers are open for shelter. And it will be needed for a long time. Huge trucks are being loaded in my neighborhood even as I write this. Supplies of all kinds for all ages and needs are being gathered.

One mattress store in Houston opened it's doors immediately and hundreds of folks are sleeping on that new merchandise. Beds and comfy chairs are filled with wet weary folks. That owner is one of my heroes!

There will be many heroic stories in the days to come.

And there will be a need for many more heroes to step up.  And the beauty of that is:  I have NO doubt that they will.

Americans are good folks! What is happening in Houston is REAL.  What is happening on the internet, & social media is NOT!

Americans know how to love each other. Those folks helping today are the silent strong bedrock of this nation. We are seeing LOVE IN ACTION.

It's IS possible to LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF, regardless of differences.

WHAT A LIFE LESSON!  I'm praying that the hurting, angry, offended, disenfranchised, lonely and violent are watching.  LOVE is available to them as well. There are people waiting and willing to rescue them right out of their disasters, whether self-inflicted OR something beyond their control.

I say to them:  Put down your guns, clubs, masks, hoods, hatred, violent and vile rhetoric and look for it....OR  perish.

                   "When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."  Isaiah 43:2



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

LITTLE WITCH

NO, I'm not endorsing witchcraft, satanic worship or any of those other cultish things.

I'm singing the praises of a darling little book that started my "book lovin' life."

When this story was first published in 1953 it came out in a hardback edition, turquoise in color.

I discovered it on the "library" shelf at the back of the room in our little brick school house in central Illinois.  There were not many students at the school and each room held two grades. I was in the 5th. There were two rows of 5th graders on one side of the room, two rows of 6th graders on the other.

Mr. McAllister, principle and one of three teachers in the whole school, would pull up a chair in front of the youngsters on one side of the room, teach spelling or arithmetic, then take his chair to the other side to teach the older students science or history.  What an arrangement!  The only way that set-up would work today would be at the "home school" classroom.

Our school library consisted of two shelves along half of the back side of the room. (I OWN more books now than was shelved there.)

On a particular afternoon, because I was bored I'm sure, I picked up the little turquoise book and took it home.  I'm sure the color was the reason for my attention.

Little Witch, Anna Elizabeth Bennet, Sky Pony Press, 1953
Illustrated by Helen Stone

I remember that evening as clearly as I remember the monumental historical events of my life. Events such as the assassination of President Kennedy, 9-11 attacks, and the total eclipse of yesterday.

I remember reading the book STRAIGHT THROUGH.  Yep, finished it in one night.

And I learned that words on a page became pictures in my mind and I still love that little 9 year old girl of the story.  Her name is Minikin Snickasnee.  She is the daughter of a real witch and wants nothing more than to go to school and make friends her own age. The feisty little gal learns all about courage and standing up for what is right. The whole town is affected by her innocent antics and eventually enjoys her broomstick.  It's great!

This book was named #7 in a School Library Journal poll of the top 100 Children's Novels.
In 2013 it was published again as a celebration of it's 60th Anniversary.  I'm SO glad. It's now on my grown-up bookshelf and available for any grandchild that also wants to grasp it's magic.

The "magic" that happened for me was a new respect, love and voracious desire to read. Many fabulous books have followed Minikin's story.

That summer after my 5th grade discovery I read about a lending library program at the State Library in Springfield, Illinois.  I think the article was in the Weekly Reader, remember that???
I wrote to the head librarian and asked if he/she would SEND me books to read over the summer. I requested adventure stories.  THEY SENT ME A HUGE BOX  OF BOOKS!  It was like Christmas in July!  I read every one and returned them promptly.  They sent me ANOTHER BOX FULL OF BOOKS.  Go figure!  That would never happen today.

After that summer the program ended even though I wrote and begged for more.  I had to find another resource. And the story goes on.

I've read thousands of books since "Little Witch" some good, some not so good, but ALL enlightening. The summer I read "Gone With The Wind" I woke up on those hot summer mornings wondering why I couldn't hear the canons.  After a few minutes I realized I was NOT living during the Civil War but was actually safe in my own bed.  Call that immersion in the story!

I've also joined others of the same disease in book clubs, discussion groups and book reviews. Only other people that love books understand the addiction!

Let me recommend a FEW that I keep on my many bookshelves.

1000 White Women
The Poisonwood Bible
My Sister's Keeper
First Hostage
Woman of God
Time to Kill (read this one straight through too)
The Bible, NIV, Amplified, NASB, The Living, KJV
The Prodigal God
Small Great Things
Best Little Christmas Pageant Ever (read this one EVERY December)

Oh so many more!

My point?  It is SO important to expose children to good books, to read to them, to encourage imagination, to introduce different ideas, locations and people. Thank you Anna Bennet for introducing me to the magical gift of reading.

Today I will think of Minikin and smile....when I get my broom out of the closet.



Monday, August 21, 2017

ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL



You just never know what you're going to see on the incredibly busy roads in Dallas.

Yesterday we were sitting at a stoplight at a busy intersection in Frisco. The light turned green, the car in front of us did not move.  No big deal.  That's a very common occurrence given that EVERYONE checks their phones at the stop lights these days and do not notice the change of color.

We waited.  Others behind us waited! The light turned red AGAIN....we all waited.

It turned green AGAIN....we all waited.

NOW, everybody in the line got concerned.  The driver in the non-responsive car was well,  non-responsive.  Several drivers and passengers stared. Was he sick?  Was he dead? Was he high?  Was he reading something important on his phone?

I put down my window, waved,  and started shouting....HEY...HEY...are you OK?

A young man in the car behind us jumped out and ran up to the drivers window and knocked on the glass. We wondered if we were about to see an ambush. Road rage?

The drive WOKE UP.  Nodded his head once or twice and remembered where he was.

The light turned green AGAIN....and he motored off.  We all followed!

YEP.  A young man about 35 years old fell asleep while sitting at a stop light, as it cycled through the colors a couple of times.

We've got to take care of each other on the roads these days.  Every slice of humanity, emotion, health problem, etc. is right out there.

How many times have we seen some confused immigrant slice through 6 lanes of traffic as he realized his exit was imminent?  We are convinced that many international drivers in our area are car owners yet not licensed to drive that vehicle.  Many can't read the road signs let alone the drivers test. And there are many countries that do not have "rules of the road." They're just motoring about as they would in their country.

Also, it's no longer legal to text while you're driving down the tollway at 75 miles an hour.  And everybody STILL does it.  The policemen could make a fortune by sitting on the shoulder and monitoring all the texting that is happening. Talk about distracting!

We are constantly amazed at the low number of wrecks and fatalities on the high speed highways in this area. When one does occur you can just kiss your "arrival time" goodbye.  Lines of cars waiting on a stalled car or fender bender could reach all the way to Oklahoma.  But, you know, when you're waiting and waiting and waiting, you have no idea that there are 17 miles of cars ahead of you, also waiting. There's always the hope of "it'll break up here in a minute."  45 minutes later, you realize your patience will not be rewarded.

Sometimes the answer to "backup" is the trusty GPS app.  If there is a red line on that little screen all the way down the tollway, skip it! Take your chances on the stoplights on the side roads.  If you're lucky the 20 min. drive will now take 57 minutes and not the projected 60!

And if someone WAKES UP the driver that is asleep, you might just arrive before dark thirty.

IF I'm on the road during rush hour, I try to always pack a lunch, plenty of water, phone, phone charger, extra can of gas, a good book and a blankie....just in case I need a nap!

Be safe out there!


Saturday, February 11, 2017

THE DIFFERENCE ONE DAY MAKES - November 8, 2016





What a difference a day makes!  The day I'm referring to is Nov. 8th, 2016!
This is how I see it anyway!

On November 7th, 2016, the Democrats were happy, supporting their beloved President and the woman that would fill his seat come Jan. 20. 2017. EVERYONE predicted a landslide win for Hillary Rodham Clinton in the upcoming election. The glass ceiling would be smashed to smithereens and females everywhere would celebrate the historic moment.  A party to out-do all previous celebrations was being organized!  Happy Days were here and also on the horizon.

There was talk of unity for the Democratic party and more progressive measures were being drafted, staff positions were being filled and big plans were being made to cement the Obama legacy into the annals of history.

On that same day, Republicans were described as disorganized and deplorable.  They'd spent the last few years stewing over the progressive agenda path the country was embarking upon but if they voiced their complaints they were met with charges of racism. There was a seething rage right below the surface of politeness. People wondered,  but there was no way of knowing how far and how deep that rage extended.  It was if two foreign languages had been spoken for 8 years and no one cared to take the time to listen to their neighbors.

However on November 7th, ALL predictions agreed that the candidate for the party with the elephant logo was a  major loser that would fade from the national scene the next day. There was NO future for the Republican Party, EVERYONE was speculating that this election would become the demise of the Grand Old Party.  After a number of potential candidates bit the dust, an arrogant, boisterous, blatantly sinful, billionaire ended up at the top of the ticket and no one expected him to do well across America.

THEN.....Election Day rolled around.  The day that changed the course of America.

IT WAS JUST ONE DAY, one 24 hour period!  EVERYTHING CHANGED.

I believe the NY billionaire was just as surprised as everyone else in the country.  HE WON!

California, New York, and Chicago tried their best but had to concede that middle America AND some former "dyed in the wool" Democrats had come out in droves and voted for CHANGE! Both houses of Congress ended up with the majority being Republican which was NEVER supposed to happen. It was a VOTE heard round the world.

And the national dialogue transformed into an UPROAR! Talk about a 180? A flip? A U-Turn?

Unlike previous elections down through America's history, THIS ELECTION was not going to go down as a "peaceful transfer of power."

Vicious, vile, angry words splattered social media.  Protesters lined the streets of major cities carrying signs reading "not my President."  A movement was established called the "Resistance." Major news networks declared war as every move the President-Elect made and every word he spoke was dissected and judged.  Fake news was introduced for the first time in our history and folks lined up to embrace it as fact if it supported their ideas. The new President "tweeted"  and gave the Dems fuel to feed their fire of hatred.  A Women's March was quickly and successfully organized to protest in fear that something MIGHT HAPPEN to demean women everywhere.

NATIONAL FEAR was now in vogue. If you refuse to fear, you are labeled a Trump-ette!

 The new President could do or say NOTHING that pleased the masses. Every bit of air he breathed was despised. Those that voted for him were maligned as complete idiots, friends and family were as divided as the nation. There was the charge, "you rejected our President, now we will do the same."

Half the country was SILENTLY rejoicing at the new direction the government was taking, while the other half took to the streets, the airways, and the internet. Violence broke out, property was destroyed, fires were set and people were paid to protest all over the country.  All those happy, contented folks raised their voices because their hair was set on fire.  ALL THEIR CONFIDENCE had been shattered, in that ONE DAY. How could anyone reject the policies of the present administration?  It was a shocker-roo!

I saw news videos of people weeping uncontrollably in the streets as if life as they knew it was over! The private grief was even more profound.  Hillary's staff members were inconsolable and Hilary went into hiding. "How can we stand to live the next 4 years" was answered without much compassion, "The same way I lived the last 8."  Anger was rampant on both sides of the political battle!

In that ONE day we'd become the UNITED STATES OF HYSTERIA.  And there is no hope that anything is going to change in the near future.  Folks are MAD that their girl lost, they are FEARFUL that their rights are going to disappear, that laws are going to be enforced that will affect them or their neighbors directly, that concentration camps are going to be constructed and FILLED with Muslims, Jews, Mexicans and members of the LTGBQ groups (I've actually heard that from dear, educated friends) and that a wall defending the southern border will keep out every good and decent person that desires to come to the US.  Parents of adopted children fear that their child will be deported!

 Every man or woman presented for a cabinet position is now characterized as a Hitler type or a member of the KKK. Congressional hearings to approve people nominated have turned into shouting matches of lies, innuendos and grandstanding. Past videos have surfaced showing elected officials drastically changing their positions on important issues to ride the tide of dissension. Folks that once praised their colleagues, now trashed them publicly because that old friend was now being considered for the Presidents cabinet. The Presidents son is under unbelievable intense scrutiny and today Trumps handshake is being analyzed as that of a lunatic.  And to top it off there have been calls from formerly decent, hardworking, professional Americans for the new President to be assassinated!!

 Basically half of America does NOT LIKE the President and NOTHING is going to change that.

We've lost our minds! How dare we surrender that much power over our  EMOTIONAL well being to any politician, no matter what the position.!

And we've forgotten our education.  You know, the Civic Classes that taught about the three branches of government put in place so each branch can check on the other from time to time. Legislature makes law, Judicial interprets law and Executive enforces law and if/when one crosses the line there are qualified elected folks in the appropriate position and  ready to call it out.

We've forgotten our history.  There was a time we were shooting each other and selling people on the auction block.  We've fought wars in  Europe, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East.  We've experienced the assassination of a President, the resignation of another and the impeachment of another. We survived the riots, murders and sexual revolution of the 70's. We experienced a seismic national change as a result of the Civil Rights Movement and grieved the loss of it's leader. Together we grieved the loss of 3000 innocent citizens in one day on 9-ll.  And the nation survived!

And we've lost common sense. No amount of protesting, sign waving, or vulgar cursing in the streets is going to change the outcome of the election.  It's a done deal.  And I am pretty sure NO ONE called an idiot, deplorable, uneducated fool is going to vote for a future progressive candidate.  Winning friends and influencing people has never happened through violence and vulgarity. Those silent folks that voted for Trump are watching and they will remember all this!

I don't know the solution to this mess. I DO know that the conflict is not centralized in Washington D.C.  It's in the heart of every one of us. We've lost the capacity to be civil.

I predict that ONE DAY  some event will occur that will unite us once again and cause us to pause and think about our destructive behavior.   ONE DAY something will remind us that we have the capacity to love each other and work together for the good of everyone. ONE DAY something will happen and our foolishness will be revealed.

I wonder what it will be, but I do NOT wonder if we will survive until that momentous event slaps us back to our senses.  We will survive, bruised and wounded.



Saturday, February 4, 2017

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST 2017

Rear Admiral Senate Chaplain
Barry Black

(I have to document these highlights before I forget!!)

The fancy engraved invitation came months ago, along with a schedule of events.  Andy had contacted the Texas folks that invite Texas people and asked if there was space for his parents to attend.  They said YES. We  RSVP'd, bought airline tickets, new clothes and cleared our calendars.

Andy works with folks in Congress that organize the prayer meetings, Bible studies and weekly prayer breakfast that are held each week for Congressmen when they are in session.  The National Prayer Breakfast is the granddaddy of them all and a huge traditional event since 1953.  I had no idea.  Until last week.....

We arrived last Tuesday, checking into the Washington Hilton (the place where President Reagan was shot years ago.)  It's a literal concrete fortress and a favorite place of the secret service when they are trying to protect someone important. Over 3000 people from 146 different countries descended upon the area. Security was tight, men and women with wires coming out their ears mingled with the guests.

We quickly learned that the theme of the week was "Unity and Reconciliation."  Wow, how appropriate! Unity and reconciliation are words that are rarely used now in the public square, but were repeated over and over again this past week.

There were meetings, prayer sessions, tours, dinners, lunches and private gatherings scheduled for all week long.

We met Andy and were immediately introduced to world leaders, congressmen, and staff people. We walked with him through the halls of the Canon Building where the offices of our Representatives are located.

There we attended a ceremony honoring a member of the prayer breakfast team that was instrumental in starting a prayer breakfast in ALBANIA!  We were introduced to heads of state from the Middle East, brilliant scholars and spiritual giants. My head was spinning.

Rabbi Sacks spoke at the Middle Eastern Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday. What a brilliant man!
Quotes:   "Can you see the image of God in a person that is not made in the image of you?"
                "Live unoffended."
                " If the person you are with experiences anything other than unconditional love, you have
                  failed."
                 "Love the person in front of you."

Oh, my.  I prayed that these words would be written on the insides of my eyelids so that every time I blink I would be reminded.

A well known, highly respect Muslim leader followed.   "We will solve the world's problems when we live the principles of Jesus." WHAT?  A Muslim respecting Jesus.  Yes...I learned that Islam regards Jesus as a prophet from God, unlike no other and that His teachings are the right way to live.

Wow!  We were beginning to understand that this conference would be like none other.

Next I attended a "Women of the States" meeting where Congressional spouses shared their ideas, advice and experiences.  Several wives of senators and representatives stepped up to the microphone and shared their struggles and their deep faith in Jesus.  They attend Bible Studies and prayer meetings weekly and find their support in deep friendships where R and D make no difference whatsoever. They were wise, articulate, and totally dependent on God. They encouraged us to enjoy the week and "take it in."  I was SO encouraged. One of their favorite Bible teachers brought the keynote address.  I came away from that session realizing that there are some terrific people in Washington, praying and trying to do the right thing in leading the country.

 WHAT?  That's not what we see on TV.  I spoke with Caroline Adderholt, organizer of that event, wife of Robert Adderholt, Congressman from Alabama and Andy's good friend, and asked her about that.  Her reply,
"You will see 10 people on TV, there are over 400 hundred of us that you won't see."

(We later learned that between formal breakfasts, lunches and dinners, delegations from the states were also meeting privately.  We heard of one group that took a "prayer walk" through the halls of Congress, praying for all that worked there.  Another group took a "Capital Tour" on a bus and prayed for the folks that work at the monuments, museums, diners, gyms, governmental offices and homes.
D.C. was filled with prayer last week!

 (We squeezed in some time with Andy when we could catch him and he shared his D.C. duties and life. He introduced us to scholars and foreign leaders we never realized we needed to know.  We came away thinking that he knows more people than God.)

Wednesday night was the first Congressional Dinner.  The dining room holds several thousand with 8 people to a table.  We met the most incredible people at each meal.  The conversation always started with introductions and handshakes all around, then polite questions.  Where are you from?  What do you do for a living?  BUT, quickly the talk turned to how important God was in their lives, their devotion to Jesus and how they shared the good news of hope in their ministries. Each person left an indelible mark on our memory. We sat with kings and princes, and  sometimes Baptist preachers whose congregation sold cakes and doughnuts to be able to afford their pastors ticket/travel. We sat next to an aviation investor, a devotional writer, businessmen and women, church planters, folks that run international charities, pastors, moms and dads.

After speeches by Republican and Democratic congressmen (friends and prayer partners for years) the speaker announced,  "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Vice President and Mrs. Pence." The crowd stood and cheered.  Mike Pence gave the most humble, godly welcome, with tears in his eyes as he shared his faith. What a lovely man.  Incredible!

Thursday morning was the National Prayer Breakfast!  The dining room doors opened at 7:15 a.m. BUT the halls were filled and the lines were formed by 5:30 a.m.  Thousands of  folks had to be seated AFTER going through security metal detectors a few times ending with a physical pat-down. Evidently the streets outside the hotel were shut down for blocks and the secret service had been combing the area for weeks in preparation. There were many heads of state, congressmen, & famous religious leaders in that room besides our own President and Vice-President and no harm was going to come to any of them!

Again, a lovely table set with 8 strangers that quickly became friends. They all shared their life calling as a believer and follower of Jesus.

The co-chairs, a Republican and a Democrat (lifetime good friends) introduced the keynote speaker.  This year, Senate Chaplain Barry Black gave the speech of his lifetime.  I highly recommend you view it on youtube. (Just google, Barry Black's National Prayer Breakfast Speech, it'll pop up.)

Toward the end of his speech all Congressmen, religious leaders, world leaders, and this mom and dad were on their feet clapping and cheering him on as he described the MAN he'd met in the scriptures.  Tears flowed down many cheeks as Chaplain Black poured out his heart. Brilliant and SO inspiring.  (We learned later that he leads a private Bible Study of 12 Congressmen every week complete with pages of questions and notes for each one to ponder when they leave.)

Music was provided by Mercy Me with a solo of  "I Can Only Imagine" by the writer of that song.

Mark Burnett, film producer, gave a delightful introduction of President Trump by relating how he came to meet him, how the idea of "The Apprentice" transpired and the depth of their friendship of years.  President Trump addressed the crowd with jokes and light hearted banter. (His joke about Arnold and The Apprentice were serious headline "breaking news" the next day, as the major networks twisted his comment, disregarding everything else he said. I must add NO ONE in the room was offended, but laughed at his reference to Mark Burnetts story. That made the journalists look like fools to the people that actually witnessed the event.)  Toward the middle of his speech he  grew very serious as he shared that this country would always be "under God" and how he needed God's guidance.  The crowd approved and respected their President and he left the room with a standing ovation.

At lunchtime we attended the Leadership Luncheon.  We had no idea what to expect but after being seated the announcer stated, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome King Abdullah of Jordan."
Roaring applause and a standing O!  What a brilliant Muslim man and leader of his country.  He said much, but stressed the need of Muslims worldwide to rise up and end the movement of radical Islam.
Jordan receives more refugees than any other country and participates in the battle against ISIS, often with the King flying one of the fighter jets himself.

(We later learned that King Abdullah received his education in the US and as a prince in line for the throne had to learn Arabic before assuming  the crown.)

Sister Rosemary of Uganda was next up to the mic.  She is the subject of the movie "Sewing Hope" and runs a school for young women who have been abducted, forced to be soldiers, raped and tortured in that country.  When the girls escape they find their way to her and she works to restore them to wholeness and dignity.  Her young friend Josephine told her story in broken English and the crowd was mesmerized. Always smiling, full of life and hope, this chunky little nun is being used mightily by God.

We also heard from a baseball player....from the CUBS! After a lovely video of his team and their accomplishments this year he shared of his love for God and the necessity of humility.  His famous wife sang beautifully for the crowd.

At an afternoon session we heard from a Palestinian Christian that spends his life drawing people from Israel and the West Bank into conversations of unity. His talk was filled with hope but laced with twinges of discouragement at the depth of hatred between people of that area. He prays for peace.

At the closing dinner we were seated next to Joseph and his son Daniel.  Joseph is from the Ukraine and doesn't speak English, his son translated for him.  This kind and gentle 84 year old man shared his story of being held in a Soviet prison for 9 years because he would not recant his faith in Jesus Christ.  After being released he brought his family to America where they settled in California. I asked what he wanted the US to know, he replied, "Socialism doesn't work."  He then proceeded to tell about the shock his family felt when he realized that socialism was being accepted and promoted in AMERICA, the very land where they would be free of such a movement.  We talked about the signs, 1. Overbearing government into the lives of the people. 2. Remove God from the marketplace 3. Tell the church what it can and cannot do.....etc.  He was thrilled that Donald Trump had won the election and felt only Trump could stop the tide of the cultural acceptance of socialism.  He is on a speaking circuit and travels the country with his daughter as a translator.  He has a passion to "tell the world" about the horrors of socialism.

The keynote speaker at that session was Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose Driven Life" and pastor of the huge Saddleback Church in California.  Oh, my....what a story!
He shared of the "worst day of his life" when his tender- hearted, mentally ill son committed suicide.  Pastor Warren did nothing for 16 weeks following that day.  He did not go to work, hold any meetings, write any books, work on the charities he sponsors, or see anyone but his wife.  He told of his becoming a different person during that time of silence and now he's ready to write of his experience of HOPE. He said,"never does the Scripture tell us to share our faith, but repeatedly tells us to share our HOPE in Christ Jesus."  He found HOPE after tragedy.   Again, a standing O.

After spending some more time with Andy, a few more private gatherings and tours the week came to an end.

Our heads are spinning on our shoulders, trying to process all we saw and heard.

Unity and Reconciliation, between political parties, countries, and religious leaders?
Everyone sensed that it's POSSIBLE.....when we PRAY together in the name of Jesus.

Jesus was the MAN of the week, far more important and influential than any other big name attending.

(We left "Unity and Reconciliation" and came home to the news of student protests, private property being burned, & vulgar discourse from people interviewed on the street that cannot articulate WHY they are protesting. It seemed to be other worldly. There is certainly no unity or reconciliation on the streets of America these days.)

The National Prayer Breakfast and the people behind it lift up the person of Jesus.  He's the person for a culture that has lost it's way. He alone is the source of unity and reconciliation.

( He is the ONE hurting and fearful people in our nation are longing for and they have no idea they need Him.)

 We learned and are ENCOURAGED that there's a remnant of believers in our nations capitol and other nations capitols and cultures that look to Him and there they find strength, guidance, comfort and HOPE.


(Thanks Andy!  For this once in a lifetime, life-changing adventure.)