Friday, September 17, 2021

Wax Cold

 

"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” – Matthew 24:12

We’re told of several signs in Matthew 24 of the end of the world.  There will be rumors of wars, nation rising against nation, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, martyrdom, hatred, betrayal, false prophets, and sin will abound.  And Jesus ends the list with the statement that the love of many will “wax cold”.

I find the term “wax cold” not only interesting, but even poetic.  Wax has two forms.  When warm it softens and flows, but when cold it becomes hard.  The term “wax cold” comes from a Greek word we hear a lot these days, psycho.  Yet, the meaning in Greek is somewhat different than we would expect.  It relates to breathing cold air or having a decreasing love.  The two definitions are related, in that the breathing of cold air reduces the temperature of air which prevents evaporation.  In the olden days of dating, going “parking” meant the car was parked somewhere secluded and what went on in that car would often fog up the car windows.  Love was not waning at that time!  But when the windows don’t fog up anymore, when breath is cold, love has gone cold.

There’s a story in the Bible that provides an example of a heart waxed cold.  In Mark 5 we read of Jesus and his disciples landing on the shore of Gadarenes.  As they came out of their boat a man came to them out of the tombs.  He was possessed with demons and would often be heard at night crying out and cutting himself with rocks.  The pain inside him was heard in his screams.  People had tried to help by putting him in shackles and chains, but he would break out and could not be tamed or comforted. 

When Jesus stepped on the shore, this man “saw Jesus from afar” and “he ran and worshipped Him.”  Even demons know who Jesus is.  The man, demons speaking through him, asked Jesus not to torture him.  Then Jesus spoke and said, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!”. Then Jesus asked the name of the demon, no doubt looking to assign punishment for the pain of the body he called his home. But the demon answered, and said “My name is Legion, for we are many.”  And the demon then begged for Jesus not to send them out of the country.  Know that Jesus could have sent them anywhere, even into hell! 

Jesus even had compassion on the demons.  They spotted a herd of about 2,000 pigs nearby and begged Jesus to send them into the pigs, and Jesus gave them permission.  When they entered the pigs, they ran off the steep place by the sea and drowned. 

What happened next is a demonstration of hearts waxed cold.  When the people in the city found out what happened, they asked Jesus to leave.  That’s right – the healer was asked to ‘go on, git!’

Two thousand pigs were worth a lot of money.  The life of the man healed was not what they cared about.  Their hearts had grown cold, wax cold, to the pains of the man who was possessed.  What they cared about was the herd of pigs.

This is the perfect example of 1 Timothy 6:10, which says “For the love of money is the root of all evil”.  The love they should have had for the man was outweighed by their possessions, the pigs.  And so, they rejected Jesus, and sent Him away.

Think about the ways we send Jesus away today.  Sundays are filled with our own ideas of rest and relaxation, and we don’t want to be bothered with Jesus.  During the week when we could spend time praying, reading His Word, or showing love to others, we choose to do what we want, and put the love we have for ourselves before our love for Jesus. 

Friends, hearts are waxing cold.  And though this must come to pass because of the end times we’re living in, you still have a choice as to whether you let your love for Jesus and others wax cold.  Choose.  Choose to be that warm loving person that will fog up a heart with the love they express.  Choose to be the one others can depend on.  Express the love of Jesus.  Ephesians 5:1 says we are to be imitators of God as little children.  Do what God would do.  Sacrifice for others.  Plead for others.  Hold them up when they are weak and hug them when they are broken.  Don’t let your love wax cold.

 

 

     

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Life with Pauletta

 


Losing your best friend is a confusing thing, a frustrating thing, a heartbreaking thing.  It’s like having a part of your heart torn out that you can never mend.  I’ve had so many emotions running through me the past week that I thought writing it out would help.  Writing clears my heart and mind of clutter…but this is my second try.

Pauletta and I walked through life together for 24 years.  We walked through the valleys and mountain tops of each other’s lives.  Now where to start?

First Grade – Lev met Pauletta’s son Tyler, and it wasn’t much later till he asked to spend the night with Tyler.  Not knowing them – and being a super protective parent, I wasn’t going to say yes till I met them.  She called and we talked on the phone for a while, but I still just couldn’t.  But then one Sunday, she and her whole bushel of kids showed up at Canton Baptist – where I was going to church.  Her, her husband, Tyler, a stepson and a stepdaughter.  It wasn’t long after that I said yes to let him go home one Sunday afternoon and back that night.  Now, at that time I wasn’t going to church on Sunday nights, but since I had to pick Lev up at church, I went.  She kept me going thereafter on Sunday nights too.

And we'd talk on the phones - a lot of times it was the same conversation.  "Did you know there's a field trip tomorrow?"  "No! I didn't get a form."  And then she'd either copy it and fill it out for me, or she'd get me one if it was over a weekend.  And report card day, we made sure both of us knew! LOL! Our boys were boys!  I can remember us adopting each other's punishment methods more than once!  We made those boys write Bible verses until I was sure they'd start hating the Bible.   

I’d sit by her in church and I had my King James Version bible, which at the time was the only version I’d read.  She was reading NKJV and of course, I was frowning on that.  She kept telling me – if you can’t understand what it says, what good is it to read it?  Then one day she comes to church with a big bible – still in the box, a marker, a set of highlighters for the Bible, and gave it to me.  It was a Spirit Filled Life NKJV Bible.  I still have it. 

Not but a week or so ago I felt the need to pull it out and just see if I could find anything of her in it.  When you love someone and you know they’re leaving you, you desire anything of them to fill that hole.  I found the front page where she’d filled out that she gave it to me.  I cried.  I found a marker of the 10 commandments she’d bought for all the kids there at Canton – and later we found out they’d left one of the commandments out! LOL! I gave her lots of jabs over that! LOL!  Then I found a wooden Bible market that says “INTEGRITY” on one end, and then “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander in his tongue” (Psalm 15:1-3). This was significant to me at that time because I’d just done something that hurt two people.  I said something that wasn’t true, and I don’t to this day know why I did it.  But it hurt several people, and I will never forget it.  Even at that point, lying in the hospital sedated, she was correcting me. 

That’s one of the things I loved about our relationship.  We were BRUTALLY honest with each other.  But we both would take it.  In a way, we were mothers to each other.  We held each other accountable for everything.  And let me make one bad move – and she’d be the first to call me. I’m going to miss that most of all.  Her honesty was flawless. 

I would miss church one Sunday night and even before she got home she’d be calling me.  It would go like this: Me: Hello,  Pauletta: “HEATHEN!!! WHERE WERE YOU TONIGHT?”.  And no excuse was good enough, and I knew it.  Oh but then when she missed – you know I got to call her HEATHEN too!

I remember one Sunday night that she loved to talk about.  We were sitting on the FRONT ROW - right in front of Brother Paul Cannon.  The boys were a seat or two behind.  Her boys were doing something she didn't like - I can't remember.  We got up to sing at the beginning of the service, and she leaned over to me and said, not as much of a whisper as 'indoor voice', "Hand me your belt!"  With the command she gave I knew I'd better do it.  I took it off standing there, and slipped it over to her.  She darted out of that pew, took Tyler and Little Phil out of their pews and out the door!.  A few minutes later, the boys came back in front of her huffing that 'I just got my butt whipped' cry, and sat down.  She sat down right beside me again and slung that belt back to me.  I didn't know whether to laugh or move far enough away she couldn't reach me!

Little things along the way she would teach me, and I would give her advice too.  Our children had the impact of both of them on us because we both felt obligated to mother them.  I remember one night that Tyler came home with Lev, and that Sunday morning we were going to bring him to church.  I opened his backpack to be sure he hadn’t missed anything and – just a pre-teen maybe 8 years old – he’d put some of Lev’s new shirts in his backpack.  Oh my goodness I inflicted fear in that child that day.  I remember making him sit on the stairs till we got ready to leave and telling him I’d never trust him again.  I was consciously trying to put some fear in him.  Then we got to church and of course we were late.  I eased into Sunday School right behind Pauletta and Big Phil.  She turns around and says quietly, “How’s my boy?” I whispered to her “He tried to steal Lev’s new shirts this morning”.  She sat there for all of 30 seconds before she darted up, went and pulled him out of Sunday School, and whipped his butt!  She was a strong mother and stepmother.  In later years she would talk about how she didn’t do a good job; she carried a lot of guilt.  But I’d tell her over and over, kids get to a point in their life when they must make a decision to do right or wrong because it’s their life and we can’t live it for them or direct it.  She did her best.

We did all sorts of things together.  We’d take the kids to see Bible Man (I didn’t know there was such a thing till she told me!).  We’d take them to see the Power Team, a bunch of muscle bound guys who were evangelist.  We’d take them out on their boat.  But most of all – we always took them to church.  Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night.  And if there was something special we could do, to get all the kids down to Canton together, we’d do that too.  Jessica Whitten was the brain of that operation most of the time.

One time we were going to have a sleep over and Jessica planned it to be a Luau.  She and Dennis built these little huts with paper leaves on top for the kids to sleep in, and we had water balloons, a kiddy swimming pool, movies, popcorn, you name it.  It was a blast. 

Pauletta never failed to bring up one of these events though! Oh my gosh, I’ve made some big mistakes in my life but this one had me in tears.  We had the pre-teens in the group in a sleepover, and before bedtime that night we were going to do a “Fear Factor” thing.  It was my idea (rolling my eyes now).  So, we lined them all up against the wall in the basement.  The deal was who ever could go through all the tests we had would win.  We started with biting down on a lemon and not wincing.  Lev sat down at that point, and a few others.  Then I had a can of Beef Hash that I’d relabeled as dog food.  Oh, there were a few that I thought were going to absolutely barf! I remember one little gal that turned literally GREEN!  But she did it.  And I remember one of Lev’s friends taking the bit and saying “looks like corned beef hash!”.  LOL!

I’d had this idea while making homemade ice cream just a few weeks ago.  When you put salt and ice together, they get EXTREMELY cold.  I remember putting my hand in it and I just couldn’t stand it after a while.  So….I did it.  I gave each one a piece of ice and sprinkled salt on top of it and told them to shut their hand.  If they could stand it, they would stay in.  One young boy said to me “My ice is gone”.  I opened his hand and there was a huge WHITE BLISTER!  Pauletta saw it and she screamed “Open your hands! Open your hands!”  Then the kids all started crying, running to the water to wash their hands off.  I still remember one little girl, the one that turned green, crying so hard.  I just cried with them.  I couldn’t do anything about it at that point.  The next morning when everyone came to get their kids I had to tell them what happened.  That was so horrible.  I missed church that Sunday morning because I knew everyone was mad.  I was told that Wednesday night that one of the nurses at the school was asking who did this down at Canton.  They were all going to see the nurse. 

Pauletta NEVER let me forget that.  We’d be talking and if anyone else was there, she’d make me tell the story, and then she’d laugh because I cried with the kids.  The morning after when they were all waking up and their hand hurting, she told them all to “Suck it up! You’re killing Mrs. Faithie!” Those sweet babies would come by and say “Mine doesn’t hurt Mrs. Faithie.” But I knew it did.  Even years and years later when Lev was a teen, she had me telling the story one night and I found that one of his friends was in that group – and I didn’t even remember him being there.  He had a scar on his hand from it to prove it.

Pauletta was always there when I needed her.  One morning when Gabby was about 3 years old, I took the kids to my Moms to stay.  They stayed with her and my dad while I worked.  When I got to the door I found out that my dad had been very depressed, to the point that they had called my pastor to come see them (not wanting their church to know about it).  I knew he needed treatment so I left the kids there and went to get my brother.  While on the way I called Pauletta, told her everything and asked if she could keep the kids.  5 minutes later I get back to my Moms, and there she was – in her Pajamas, loading my kids into the car.  She had my kids for three days, and would call every night to see how Daddy was doing.  I asked one night, “Do you want me to come get them”? and she told me – “No, they’re happy here. We lock them in the closet for an hour a day and whisper to them under the door – WE’RE YOUR PARENTS! WE’RE YOUR PARENTS! They won’t even recognize you when you get here!” LOL!  And sure enough when I got there, Lev is playing with Tyler, and Gabby is sitting in the floor watching TV.  She turned around and said “Hi Mommy” and turned right back to the TV! LOL! They both loved Pauletta. How could they not?

We’d talk on the phone often late at night.  I remember one night watching the Blair Witch movie.  I never watch horror movies because I know the Bible says to think on things that are pure and good and true and there’s nothing good in fear.  But I sat there alone one night and watched in, and was so terrified to go to bed that I called her crying one night around 11.  She laughed so hard at me, and then prayed with me.  At this point I’m crying just remembering it.  Dear God, who will pray with me now when I’m afraid? Who could I ever open up to like I did her?

Back in the years when Gabby was a just a toddler – so I’d say maybe the year was around 2000 or so.  She became involved in the Walk to Emmaus movement.  It was a Christian retreat weekend where men would go one weekend, and then women the next.  She went on weekend 24 I believe, and then sponsored me on weekend 25, which was an overflow weekend.  They had too many women sign up and couldn’t get them all in, so they did Walk #25.  It was very secretive as to what it was about.  That was mostly so that each person could have a unique experience with God without any expectations or set thoughts.  So secretive in fact, I almost chickened out.  Then she told me just relax, “would I make you do anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable with.” LOL! I should have said “Yes, of course you would!”, but I didn’t.

That weekend, on a Friday night she came and got me and drove me to the church in Hoptown where it was being held.  On the way she told me that I shouldn’t be alarmed when they bring a goat into the church, and everyone rides on it – and I should too.  I was appalled! A goat? That’s the sign of a sinner in the Bible!  And when I got done getting outranged, she laughed her butt off at me.  And then says, I’m just kidding, but there is one thing you’re not going to like, but just keep and open mind.  I agreed to do so.  That weekend brought me closer to God than anything else in my life.  I’d been saved in 1971 after my family was in a car accident.  I know I was saved that night in my Momma Pearls house.  But I never knew and understood the deep, eternal, love of God until that weekend.  At the end of the weekend we are all given a chance to say something about the weekend.  I remember getting to the mic, and bursting into tears saying “God loves us sooooo much!”.  I looked at her and she was bawling!  That was one of the most loving, life changing things she ever did for me. 

A few years later she sponsored her Dad to go.  One of the most heartwarming memories I have of her and her Dad, Paul was when Paul go to the mic at the end of the weekend, burst into tears, and told her he loved her.  She ran forward from the pews in that little church and hugged him.  Her heart was leaking out her eyes! I still smile just thinking about that.

It was either during that time or later that she decided to go back to school to be a nurse.  She was going to HCC, and doing well, but would sometimes tell me she didn’t think she’d make it.  Then came the time for her to take her nursing test.  She failed it.  I tried to call and her husband said she didn’t want to talk to me.  Well, now that was tough on my heart!  I let it go for about 2 days and that Monday morning I was going to be working in Murray.  I made peanut butter fudge, her favorite, the night before and showed up at her house that morning unexpectedly.  She opened the door in her nightgown, and I just held the peanut butter fudge out to her.  She cried and cried, and I hugged her as tight as I could.  She let me in and we talked about it for a couple of hours.  It wasn’t long after that when she re-enrolled in nursing school, but this time in Madisonville.  She passed the next test and I was there to see her pinned. 

She told me many times after that day that it was God’s will for her to fail because Madisonville made her a better nurse.  She was a wonderful nurse too! She was my nurse later in years when I had my gallbladder taken out.  Of course, I joked with her about her rude bedside manner, and she threatened to give me another shot!

I remember her calling me several nights to tell me what horrible things she’d seen that day as a nurse.  Some of them were funny, some of them crazy, and some made her and me cry.  She was so excited when her twin sister Paula went to nursing school too. I kept telling “Please don’t work at the same hospital, seeing two of you would drive some of the patients insane!” I think they actually did work at the same place for a little while.

Years went by and they were offered rent free living for going to her in-law’s church.  Her Father-In-Lew was the pastor.  They were in debt and this was a way to recover.  So they moved into their house on the lake, and they left Canton and went to that church.  I was heartbroken.  But what was I to do about it? I knew they needed to get out of debt.  But as time went on she and I didn’t talk as much.  When we did I could tell she wasn’t happy there.  She didn’t have a good relationship with the in-laws.  We grew apart, but still would call each other every time something went wrong or we needed advice.  Admittedly, I called her most because I was miserable without her.  But we made other friends that filled that gap.  Jessica Whitten became my go-to for all my worries.  I was blessed to have Jessica come along at that point in my life.  We were both missing them.

Time went by and 2007 hit.  My first divorce.  I fell into depression. My parents had shut me out because I was a divorcee.  Pauletta called me up often.  We talked, cried, and we laughed.  She saw me through it and so did Jessica.  That year I started going to Trigg County Baptist, where Pauletta was going – and eventually Jessica too, my sweet Uncle, and others.  It felt so much like a family there.  I remember when church was over we would all gather into the center isle and talk for so long the preacher would have to tell us it was time to go home!  So then we’d talk in the parking lot. 

I don’t like to talk about 2008.  I hit an all time low in my life as a mother and as a woman.  I let a man enter my life who told me he was a pastor and a southern gospel concert organizer.  Yet in months to come, after being married to him for 5 weeks, I found he was dangerous.  I remember sitting at a Bible Study we were doing at my house one night, and knowing that her mom had committed suicide when she was a little girl, he said that people that commit suicide don’t to go heaven (that’s false by the way).  The look on her face at that minute will ever be stuck in my heart.  One night he said to me at the dinner table one night “I could own you.  I could own your retirement, your car, this house, everything.” That was just one of several threatening statements.  The divorce was settled the next week. But for some crazy reason, I kept trying to figure out where I went wrong, what had I done?  I was then a failure on two marriages in my parents’ eyes.  I’d brought him into my home, and he’d tried to rule my own children.  I had hit a disgusting, spirit breaking rock bottom.  I saw a counselor after that for several months.

Pauletta and all my friends would call me up during that time and tell me he was no good.  I just wouldn’t listen.  Finally, after a 40 day fast from breakfast and lunch, God revealed it.  Exactly one year from the date I first met him, I told him to never come near me or my kids again.  Pauletta’s words were “Well, it’s about damn time!”.  I can still hear her voice saying it - and she was right. 

Just days after that I remember going to her house with some friends to bring in the new year.  That house was special. She and Philip had built that house themselves.  In the walls they wrote Bible verses all through it.  I always thought what a cool think that was to do. 

In 2009 I met Don.   She was as excited for me.  Don is a good godly man who would lead me closer to God.  When I asked one of my friends about him, he answered “He’s a good man.”  I always thought, what an odd thing to say about someone, but now I know just how much of a good man, which was more than I could imagine.  Pauletta knew him and his daughter from Emmaus Weekends and Chrysalis weekends. 

When we got married I left Trigg County Baptist and we went to his church in Hopkinsville, Calvary Memorial.  I didn’t get to talk to her as much, but we tried to keep in touch.  Sometimes it would be months that we wouldn’t talk or more.  But when we got to talking it was as if we’d never been apart.  Eventually the drive to Hopkinsville for church got too long, and we realized we weren’t able to serve that far away.  So we came back to Trigg County Baptist.  At that time the church was really small.  Pauletta and Philip were two of a hand full that lasted through the church dwindling down.  We were so distant when I came back that it took a while for us to get close again – like weeks, but not months. 

Several things in Pauletta’s life were hard.  Losing her mom when she was just a kid.  Her first divorce. Her son constantly getting in trouble.  And then there was her step son’s grandchild.  I can’t remember his full name, but Philip was part of his name.  He was born premature, and never made it home from the hospital.  I remember praying for that child so many times in the days when he was in Louisville.  She’d call and give me and update, and I’d pray some more.  She was so attached to this tiny little baby boy.  When he did pass, she was hysterically crying.  I could barely make out what was wrong.  She, and the entire family were just soaked in grief and pain.  I went down to see her once they got home and took her some more Peanut Butter Fudge.  She broke into tears and hugged me tight. 

And then there was her beautiful granddaughter, Eliza.  She loved that child with every inch of her heart.  It was so cute how Eliza looked just like Pauletta’s baby pictures.  She was playing with Eliza often, having her come over, doing Grandma stuff, and so happy.  Then Tyler did some things that got him sent away for a long time. Eliza’s mom didn’t want her child to have anything to do with anyone near Tyler.  I can sort of understand that as a mom.  But all Pauletta ever wanted was to be Eliza’s grandmother.  She loved her so very much. I remember a year or two ago she called me crying and someone had sent her pictures of Eliza from some ball game or something.  She was so happy to see her but was so miserable not to be able to just be near her.  She told me at that time “I just want to die!” and I told her “No, you don’t.  One day she will be old enough to make her own decisions and she’ll come see you.”  Nothing seemed to make the pain go away, and I learned not to ask about Eliza.  It was like scratching the scab off a wound. 

Then came her divorce from Philip.  I won’t go into all the details, but she loved him.  At that time she thought he was the love of her life, but God had better things planned!  She left him because she had to – not because she wanted to.  Philip took some turns in life that she knew she couldn’t go down with him.  So, she moved to Paducah with her sister for a while, and then got her own place there.  She was so proud to have her own little apartment.  She bought an aquarium and fish, and even got a cat!  Yeah, I called her cat lady and talked about liter box smells a lot! LOL!

She dated a bit during that time.  Just different guys she would meet.  She wasn’t serious about any of them until one came along.  That would be her husband of a little under 10 months when she went to Jesus.  Michael was good to her – and she made sure I knew it.  She was always sending me a text like “Michael is washing my car!” “Michael is cooking dinner!” “Michael ran me a bath!”.  It was so good to know she was happy again.  And it was so much fun to kid her about robbing the cradle too! Michael is 10 years younger than her (but as he put it, he has an old soul).  Every chance I got I would tease her about it.  They were together for quite a while before I started asking “When are you going to marry him?” And he had asked her, but she just was happy like it was.  She was 2 for 2 at that point.  Two marriages – two divorces.  But over time Michael won.  He became the true love of her life, and she said so. 

She was cooking in their kitchen and singing to the song “Crazy” by Patsy Cline.  Michael came up behind her on his knee, and said something to her like “Am I crazy to love you?”  (I probably got the words wrong).  Of course, she said yes.  I owe a lot of gratitude to Michael for the way he loved her.  Painting her toenails, driving her to work when it snowed, and just being there for those long days when working as a COVID nurse was just too much. 

Her sister Paula got sick about that time.  Paula was diagnosed with liver disease, which just happens to be what Pauletta had.  I remember her crying because Paula was in such terrible shape.  She would go to Paula’s house and help her do things she couldn’t. Paula, having been her twin, was her lifelong friend – for every single breath.  I can remember when Paula would call and their voices were EXACTLY alike.

Losing Paula was something I honestly worried that Pauletta would not survive.  She truly wanted to die and said so many times.  She would talk to me about “when I’m gone…” stuff and that scared me.  One night she called, crying her heart out and said “Every time I think of something I want to tell her, I just cry because I can’t.  I’ve lost my sister!”  I told her to consider me her sister and call me anytime she even thought of Paula. 

During the months after that we talked a lot more often.  I’d text her during the day and I’d get “I’m at work. Call you later.” And she’d call me and I’d send her a preset message.  But often, when we had a chance we’d call the other back before the end of the day.  We wanted to be there for each other, and we were.  I remember her going through Paula’s laptop and finding so many pictures.  She’d send me some, and she’d cry when I called her about them.  And we’d talk till the tears went away.  I could never leave her crying, and she wouldn’t leave me crying either.

I’ve seen those little trinkets several times that say something like ‘sisters at heart – not by birth’.  She truly was that. 

Pauletta always loved dogs.  That’s why I was so surprised when she got a bird instead.  His name is Pedro and he’s a cockatiel.  She hasn’t shocked me many times in this life - but a bird - that was a shock!  About that time we got our little dog, Lollipop.  I’d call and talk to her about  my dog, and she’d talk about her bird.  Then someone found a little chihuahua on the side of the road, and knowing she once had one, they brought it to her.  His name is Peanut and he’s a little fella with big personality.  She really loved him, even though she would often complain about his puppy ways, LOL!  I remember Don and I going to see her and Michael after they moved to Benton and taking Lollipop.  Peanut was all about being Lollipop’s ‘boyfriend’, and she was scared to death! 

It wasn’t long after that when she would call I’d notice something she called “Nanny Belle Syndrome” after one of her ancestors.  She would just forget things – like important things, and things that we’d talked about before.  It wasn’t like her, but we were both getting old. 

We’d talked for years about going to the nursing home together.  It would have to be a nice one – one that didn’t smell like pee – she would tell me.  And I would tell her that when she got old, I’d steal her desert at the nursing home and tell her she ate it.  With “Nanny Belle Syndrome” she’d never know the difference! LOL!  After a while, I got to believing we would make it to a home together.  Me being 7 years older than her, I never expected her to go first.  Never until the early part of 2020.

In early 2020 she sent me a photo of her legs after she’d worked a twelve-hour shift.  Her ankles and toes were purple, and her legs were swollen like an overfilled balloon.  I didn’t think much about it except to tell her to stay off her feet (lol, she was the nurse…but I needed to mother her when she hurt, that’s what we did). 

As COVID went on she would call me and talk about the 3 layers of clothes she had to wear when working the COVID ward, and the face mask and shield.  She was miserable, sweating all day, coming home with a heat rash, and her skin would be sore from it.  Some days she would call me and tell me about the patient she had to watch die.  I remember the last one I heard of was an older man that had no one.  He had no relatives or friends.  She sat there with him and held his hand when he died.  It really touched her that time. 

When I caught COVID I called up my COVID BFF Nurse and asked what to do.  She told me what to take and would call and check on me.  I got over it in the normal number of days.  It was nice to have her checking up on me.  I always knew she loved me.  We’d never hang up the phone without saying, “I love you.” And “I love you too.”

I’m horrible at calling people though.  After being on the phone all day long at work, I just don’t want to be on a phone.  She called me one time – it was in 2021 – and I saw it was her.  I answered, “Hey what’s up?” And she said loudly “YOU SUCK AS A BEST FRIEND! DO YOU KNOW THAT?” She was right too.  Not until after she was gone do I realize that I didn’t appreciate our relationship enough.  I didn’t appreciate her enough.  After that I started setting reminders to call her, and would.  I’m glad she said that to me when she did. 

During that time she was still forgetting conversations we had and small things, still swelling up, and then one day told me she was having tremors so bad in her hands she couldn’t sign out at work.  I’d tried for more than a year to get her to go to her doctor.  For goodness’s sake, she worked with them!  The straw that broke this camel’s back was a text she sent me one day.  Her BP had gotten to something like 190/100.  I scolded her for not going to a doctor then, and she said she was going to keep a record of her BP and then go see the doctor.  It was months later she finally gave into going to the doctor.

Fast forward to July when she finally went.  Her doctor did some lab work and sent her home, only to get the results and have her admitted to the hospital for more lab work later that week. Then he scheduled her for a liver biopsy. 

She went into the hospital on 8/18/2021 for the biopsy.  Once she was out, she called.  She told me “I’m not going to make it.” And then told me that her stomach was swelled up and hard like a rock, and that she didn’t feel good, she was weak.  I cried and told her right then “Don’t you die on me!”  When she hung up she said the usual, “I love you!” and I answered “I love you too! Call me when you can.”

Later that night they took her back into surgery and found three liters of blood pooled in her stomach.  And yes, she had liver disease too.  They kept her under meds for pain for days after that.  She had a mid-line incision from her breastbone past her navel.  She was in pain.  A couple of days later and they intubated her and put her on a ventilator.  She was in ICU and I couldn’t go see her.  Her husband Michael kept me updated with her status as the nurses and doctors would call him.  They were giving her blood, and platelets.  The second week they cut back the pain meds trying to wake her up. A few days before she passed they started dialysis on her, and it seemed to be a turning point.  The nurse said she was nodding her head in answer to questions.  I was so happy to hear that – just elated!  Then the next day I heard that her eyes were still closed, but her eyes were moving.  I got even more excited.  My friend was coming back – she’d be coming home I thought.  I knew she’d have to have a liver transplant and possibly be on dialysis, but she’d be there.  She’d still be there.

In the early morning hours of September 1, I got a phone call from Michael.  He said “This is it.  She’s in cardiac arrest.”  Pauletta had a DNR, so we knew they couldn’t do anything at that point.  I cried in those hours, prayed, and begged God, and finally fell asleep.  Not long after that I got the second call, “Pauletta went to be with Jesus at 2:54 AM.”  I was numb at that point.  It didn’t seem real.  I worked the next day to keep my mind off it, but in the afternoon hours, I couldn’t think of anything else.  And that’s continued for over a week now. 

Tuesday afternoon will be her visitation service.  I’ll have one more chance to look on her face.  But I know she’s not there.  It’s just a body, and empty body.  Her soul is with Jesus, and one day I will be too.  I can just see her standing at the gate when I come in and saying “Well damn, it took you long enough!”.  To which I’ll reply “Shut-up woman! I told you not to smoke!”. 

She would tell me when I got onto her for smoking, “I’m going in the rapture!”  This past week while reading about the rapture I saw there were two flights out.  The dead in Christ will rise first, and then those that are living will be taken into the clouds too.  I just wish I’d had the change to answer her “I’m going in the rapture!” with “Yeah, but do you want the early flight or the late one, huh?”  That’s just the way we were.

I love you Pauletta.  Always will.

 

 

 

 

 


Friday, July 30, 2021

For Me?

 


“Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me?  When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves? – Zechariah 7:5-6

Sometimes we treat our relationship with God like a little child with a board of gold stars.  I’ll do this, and I’ll get a star.  I’ll do that, and I’ll get a star.  The star is what I want, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get it.

The Israelites had returned to their land after 70 years of captivity in Babylon.  They were taken captive because they would not worship God but chose to continue to worship idols.  And even after they were taken into captivity, the majority did not worship God.  Yet in that period of time they set aside time in the fifth month and seventh month to cry out and fast to God.  Why? Because this might bring them out of captivity. 

When they returned to their land, they came to Zechariah, the prophet, and asked if they should still perform these acts of so-called repentance.  God’s words back to them reveals that He knows our hearts – not just our actions.

God asked them “did you really fast for me – for Me?”.  That second ‘for Me’ emphasizes that they did not do it for Him.  Perhaps it was out of tradition.  They did it because their parents had done it and their grandparents had done it.  Perhaps they did it for other reasons.  I’ve heard several people talk about how much weight they lost when they were fasting.  Fasting with that in mind is not for God.  Neither is fasting because your whole church is doing it.  There’s nothing wrong with fasting together, but God says that it should be private. It’s to be seen only by God (Matthew 6:16-18).

What God wanted was not their acts of repentance, but their heart.  A heart that loves God is obedient to God.  In 1 Samuel 15:22 God says that “to obey is better than sacrifice”.  But that’s not the only time this is spoken in the Bible.  Proverbs 21:3 says, “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.  Psalms 51:16 says, “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.”  But what does it say about obedience?  John 14:15 makes it as clear as glass saying, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Friends, God doesn’t want our suffering.  He wants our love and respect.  He doesn’t desire us to look to Him as our slave master, but as our Father.  It’s not about earning a gold star, it’s about showing God our love for Him.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Two Signet Rings: The Story of Coniah and Zerubbabel


 "As I live," declares the Lord , "even though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet ring on My right hand, yet I would pull you off; and I will give you over into the hand of those who are seeking your life, yes, into the hand of those whom you dread, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. – Jeremiah 22:24-25

‘In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the Lord‘and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you,’ says the Lord of hosts.” – Haggai 2:23

The very thought of God wearing a signet ring intrigued me this morning as I read the above passages.  A signet ring was a ring with a specific carving on it to represent a person’s authority.  The signet would be pressed against a dollop of wax to seal a document and declare it to be sent under the authority of the person that owned the ring. 

The word Signet comes from the Hebrew word Hotam (Strong's H2368) which means to seal.  It is where we get our word ‘signature’. It is also related to the Latin word, signatura, which was the marking given by the owner to a sheep.  The thought of God having to wear a ring to show His authority is bizarre!  Yet, God expresses His authority though through the example of a signet ring.

The question then became, why would God give a signet ring to anyone? The stories of Coniah and Zerubbabel gives us the answer.  But we must go back a few generations on Coniah to understand God’s statement regarding removing the ring from Coniah’s hand.  We also need to look at the meaning of the names of the ancestors of Coniah.  They show us God’s heart towards His people. And by looking at what they did in office, we can also see God’s grace, and the reason for his imminent punishment and destruction of Judah.  Then we will understand the reason the ring is given to Zerubbabel.

Jehoiakim means “raised by Yahweh”.

Jehoiakim was the King of Judah when Jeremiah prophesied the words of God and the captivity of Judah.  Yet, he completely denied the warnings from Jeremiah, burned a manuscript of his prophecies, and ordered him to be arrested. In fact, if it had not been for some of his advisors, he would have had Jeremiah killed.

2 Chronicles 36 tells us that Jehoiakim was taken captive into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar II, who “bound him in bronze fetters”.  It also tells us in verse 8 “Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, the abominations which he did, and what was found against him, indeed they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. Then [e]Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place.

Jehoiachin means “established by Yahweh”.

Jehoiachin  was the son of Jehoiakim.  When his father was taken to Babylon, Jehoiachin was only 8 years old.  According to 2 Chronicles 36:9, he reigned three months and 10 days.  King Nebuchadnezzar took him to Babylon as well and made his uncle, Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem.

Zedekiah means “justice of Yahweh”.

Nebuchadnezzar II appointed him King.  He reigned after the first capture of Babylon beginning at 21 years old, the beginning of God’s justice being served.

2 Chronicles 36:12-13 tells us that “He did evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the Lord.  And he also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear an oath by God; but he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord God of Israel. “   2 Kings 25:7 tells us that they killed his sons before his own eyes, then put out his eyes, bound him in bronze fetters, and took him to Babylon.

Coniah (also called Jeconiah) means “God will establish, God will fortify”.

Coniah, was the son of King Jehoiakim, which God spoke against in Jeremiah 22.  There He says of Coniah in verses 26-27, “So I will cast you out, and your mother who bore you, into another country where you were not born; and there you shall die.  But to the land to which they desire to return, there they shall not return.”

During this period the 70 year captivity of Jerusalem and Judah continued in Babylon.  But there’s a beautiful passage in Jeremiah 23:5-6 between the exile and return where God says:

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord,
“That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:

THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Once the captives were freed, a new King took the throne.

Zerubbabel means “scattered to Babylon”. Which is what God had done through his justice for their idolatry and turning away from Him.

Zerubbabel was made King when the people returned to Judah.  God called him “My servant” which is also what He called King David.  God was looking to rebuild His relationship with His people, to rebuild the temple, and gather with them for His worship.  Zerubbabel was King when the temple in Jerusalem was rebuilt. He was also an ancestor to Joseph, the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:12-16), THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS!

The lineage of Jesus is broken into three groups: 14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 generations from David until the captivity of Babylon, and 14 generations from the captivity of Babylon till Jesus Christ.  The number 14, according to Bible Numerology, is a symbol of salvation and rescue.  

What God began as justice to a wicked people ended in salvation for all of us.

But what does this all mean relating to the signet ring?  A signet ring is also a symbol of family heritage.  When the prodigal son came home, one of the things his father gave him was a ring.  It was a sign of identity, just as the signet ring. 

Those that are saved by the righteousness of Jesus Christ are now God’s people.  Romans 8:16 says “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”  We are His children, carrying His lineage in our souls.  Ephesians 1:13 says "you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise."   A seal, symbolic of the seal of a signet ring.  He has placed His seal on our very soul! 

Are you one of God’s children?  Have you asked Jesus to rid you of your sins and become your righteousness?  Please pray a simple prayer and ask Jesus for forgiveness, for we are all sinners.  Believe on Him as the resurrected son of God.  He will save you and give you His Holy Spirit to live in your soul.  Friend, there are no gifts better than having the Holy Spirit with you!  He will never leave you!  Won’t you ask for salvation today? 

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name…” – John 1:12

 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

God’s Love for the Unfaithful

 

“I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy;  I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.” – Hosea 2:19-20


In a day when so many had turned away from God to serve idols and gods of their imagination, God’s love never ended.  His mercy did turn to punishment, but His love endured the pain of having so many of His children turn from Him to worship others. 

I love the way God expresses that He will bring those that have been scattered and taken into captivity back to Him in Hosea 2:21-23. 

“It shall come to pass in that day
That I will answer,” says the Lord;

His silence will break, and He will hear the cries of those who repent.


“I will answer the heavens,
And they shall answer the earth.
The earth shall answer
With grain,
With new wine,
And with oil;

God provides for us in ways that are so simple and common to us that we sometimes overlook how great His method of providing is.   God says that he will answer the heavens.  

Clouds don’t know how to gather themselves together and create rain.  God provides that.  Friend, I cannot think of a single thing on this earth that can live without water.  But we so often forget that it’s God’s design for the clouds to rain.  So the clouds rain down in answer to a dry earth. 

The earth then, out of God’s ability to create life from dry seeds, will answer the clouds and create food that we need to survive.  That food will provide fruit, which produces wine, corn, and even oils for cooking.

“They shall answer Jezreel.
Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth,

Jezreel was Hosea’s first son, whose name meant “God will disperse” or scatter.  This was the time punishment through captivity endured by those who turned from God and worshipped Idols.  But now Jezreel in this chapter brings new meaning.  It means “God sows”.  There’s a difference in scattering seeds and sowing seeds.  Scattering is like the wind blowing them to various places.  But sowing is intentional, as a farmer plants rows of seeds for crops.  The name Jezreel has therefore been redeemed to mean something much greater than scatter.  It’s God’s work to sow.

“And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy;
Then I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’ 

Hosea’s second child was named La-Ruhamah, which meant “not having obtained mercy”.  And his third child, Lo-Ammi, meant “not my people”.  But now that God’s grace has been extended  they have obtained mercy and become God’s people once again.  And this time the people answer and say “You are my God”.

Backslider is a name often given to those that walk away from church and God.  God does at some point begin the same process He took His people through when they were taken into captivity to Babylon, Egypt, and other countries.  

He will make those that walk away from Him see how rocky that road is.  He will go as far as not giving mercy and extending grace.  He will let you walk away because He doesn’t want you as a slave, but as a son or daughter.  But when you return you are no longer scattered! God will plant you, and once again grant mercy and grace.  He receives back His wayward children with His love unchanged. 

Friends, I’ve been one of those wayward children, and I know this to be true.  You can’t hide from God.  You are His beloved!  If you are like I once was and find you are walking a different road than the one of peace that God laid before you, there’s no time better than the present to return to Jezreel, and let God sow you.