40 Hours of Reflection

The following was not written by me.  It was written by my mother-in-law.  It was recently read at her funeral.  I hope that when my time comes, I’ll have something as profound and meaningful to leave for my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. It will be of help when picturing these events to understand that this woman was about five foot in every direction.

  Tom Williams 

40 Hours of Reflection

by Darlene Wilson

A church service is 2 hours long. The Titanic movie 3 hours long. Watching 40 episodes of the Friends TV program back to back would take 20 hours. 40 hours is a full work week.

I spent the longest and most challenging 40 hours of my life trapped in a bathtub. I was not trying to set a world record for the longest bath for 77 year old woman, it was an accident. I’m telling you this only to glorify God, because God is my strength.

My story begins on Tuesday, December 15, 2003, shortly before 10 p.m. I had spent several hours handing out oranges at the food pantry and doing errands and was incredibly tired. I raced through the front door my mobile home without even locking it behind me as I really needed to get to the bathroom! I was so exhausted I fell asleep sitting on the stool. When I finally woke and stood up, my right foot and leg were numb and I lost my balance.

The stool was near the tub and the shower. The tub had a hard plastic folding shower door with a soft blue cloth shower curtain covering it. I fell against the folding door and into my empty four foot long bathtub with a crumpled shower door underneath me. I faintly remember removing pieces of the shower door, then assessing my situation. I was fully closed, but without my shoes. I was wearing my glasses and watch. The light was on.

I tried many times to get out of the tub without success. Since my knee replacements, I couldn’t kneel, so that made it difficult. As a diabetic, I needed medicine and food. I began praying for God to be with me and for him to do a miracle. I asked God if I was being punished or had done something wrong. He assured me that I wasn’t being punished; it was an accident. “Forgive me for thinking that. Devil get behind me, I belong to Jesus Christ and you can have none of me.” I bound the devil and kept chanting Jesus, Jesus, and Jesus.

Eventually my family would come looking for me, however, I have no idea how long I would be confined to the tub. I did know I needed depend on Him for survival tactics. I am week, but he is strong. I needed to keep focused and listen to him.

There was no one to talk to other than God. I pray and read my bible every morning, but this was closer communion for a longer period of time than I had ever experienced. These were some of the things He told me:

  • He was there for me and would never leave me or forsake me

  • He was not the cause, but the answer to my problem

  • I must move my feet and legs and do ankle pops. I must do some exercises to keep my body moving.

  • I needed to breathe deeply and cough so I wouldn’t get hypostatic pneumonia. I didn’t even know what that was!

  • I needed liquid to survive

  • I needed to sleep, if possible

I thanked God the bathroom door was open, the heat was a at 70º and I was warm … most of the time.

I tried to turn on water, but the faucets were high up on the wall. I finally got the cold water on a bit. It dripped on my feet. I cupped my hand to get a few teaspoonfuls of water so I could get a drink. The water dripped on my blouse and chilled me as I brought my hand to my mouth. After drinking a little water, I worked to shut it off. Many times over the coming hours I repeated the steps to keep from dehydrating.

The muscle spasms were intense starting at my groin and spreading down my legs. I prayed through them. They kept coming and I kept praying. I was uncomfortable in other ways. Let’s just say I know why a baby cries when their pants are wet. God was there for me spiritually, physically and emotionally. His staff ministered to me at all times keeping me from feeling sorry for myself and helping me control my thoughts and emotions.

I sang hymns and childhood songs, recited the books of the Bible, praised God, prayed in tongues and recited poems I had learned in grade school. Occasionally, I slept. I kept remembering events from my life as I thought about my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I reminisced about my husband, Darrell, and good times we had in our life together and about my parents, four brothers and four sisters.

I thought about my extremely hard of hearing grandmother, Hattie Teter, and what a strong influence she had on my life. She was the spiritual leader of our family reading the Bible to us, taking us to church every Sunday and setting a good example. She reflected the love of God.

One thing she taught me was not to worry. She said worry with a lack of faith in God. If you had faith in God, you gave your problems to him and it was up to him to solve them.

I laughed at some memories I realize I had never even told my children. We attended a small country church with a potbellied stove. There was no water, no inside toilet, just a path out behind, but God was there and so was I. At age 10, sermons could be rather dull. Sitting next to the minister’s daughter, I played a game during the sermon. She opened the song book and explained that to every song title we added the words “under the bed.”

Jesus loves me… under the bed. Amazing grace … under the bed. Joy to the world … under the bed. What a friend we have in … Jesus under the bed. We began giggling uncontrollably. Her mother came over and took the song look away from us. We knew better than to try that again, at least not in church!

I remember how happy we were when our first daughter, Becky, was born. We were married 5 years and 1 day when she arrived. I can still see the little pink toes and fingers as I cuddled her cheek. The memory was a happy one, yet brought tears to my eyes. This was the first time we experienced God’s miracle of birth. We felt this joy three more times when Linda, Shelley and Janet were born.

I had a flashback to Becky’s kindergarten days. Our wedding anniversary with February 27th and her birthday was February 28th. She came home from school on her birthday telling me she had announced to the teacher that her parents were married one day and she was born the next. I quickly ask if you had explained we had been married 5 years and 1 day before she was born. “No,” was her response, “she didn’t ask!”

God kept my mind busy and I didn’t dwell on my situation. Even in the bathtub I had peace and joy. He reminded me of the times He had already saved my life. At 5 I took my 4 year old brother, Gene and our dog to the creek. The dog kept me from drowning that day. To avoid a severe seat warming, I never told my parents.

At 12 I had measles with an extremely high fever and was delirious for three days. During the depression you didn’t have a doctor come in for search minor ailments. I survived, although my hair began to grey from that day forward.

At age 64 I was in a car accident that left me pinned in my vehicle while it was turned on its side with the engine still running. The emergency squad broke my back window, turned off the ignition, and cut my seatbelt so they could free me with the jaws of life. I walked away with only bruises. God protected me, once again.

I thought about other times God was with me. He told me this time was no different. His tremendous love provided divine protection many times throughout my life. Praise God for such a wonderful Savior who cares and protects us.

Outside the bathtub, the world was continuing on as usual. I felt like it was passing me by. I could hear the daily routine to the neighbors and my phone ringing. Was someone looking for me? I could tell daylight from dark and, of course, the time. Although I felt detached from the world, I felt a constant connection with God.

A few minutes before 2 p.m. on Wednesday, December 17, I heard a noise at my front door as someone came in. I always lock the door, but realize I forgot in my haste to get to the bathroom.

As I screamed for help a voice said, “I’m here, Grandma, it’s Alyssa.”

When I saw her white winter hat as she rushed into the bathroom, I told her she looked just like an angel. “Thank you Lord, thank you Lord, praise His name!”

Alyssa gave me a glass of water and called 911. When the police arrived they ask me some stupid questions to see if my time in the tub had affected me mentally. I told him I wasn’t any worse of mentally than I usually was! More police, and an emergency squad and an ambulance arrived to extract me form my plastic prison. I was shaking smelly and ready to be released. At the hospital I was told my sugar level was a little high, my muscles were weak, but all other tests were normal. Once again, God had his hand on my life.

I came out of this ordeal with the greater appreciation for life and God. I cherish many things that I once took for granted. I can use my arms and legs, see, hear, eat and enjoy my grandchildren. I can get a drink of water, drive my car and sleep in a comfortable bed between sheets. He said, “I come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” My life was more abundant because of my 40 hour confinement.

Don’t give up because God doesn’t answer your prayers in your time frame. God’s timing is not ours. He is neither ahead or behind: he is always on time. Although I waited 40 hours, I wasn’t mad at God. I knew God was the solution, not the problem! If anyone is wondering if God is real, have no doubt.

Did I mention my insurance policy? It covered me even when I was in the bathtub. My insurance agent is Jesus Christ. I have full coverage and it cost me nothing. He paid the premium in full over 2000 years ago when He died on the cross. If you don’t have this type of insurance policy, please consider talking to my insurance agent. His phone number is 1 800 P-R-A-Y-E-R.

Give Thanks

Ephesians 5:15-20
So then, be very careful how you live. Don’t live like foolish people but like wise people. Make the most of your opportunities because these are evil days. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord wants. Don’t get drunk on wine, which leads to wild living. Instead, be filled with the Spirit by reciting psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for your own good. Sing and make music to the Lord with your hearts. Always thank God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Give Thanks
Every Tuesday evening our church opens the doors to the 150 year old chapel for prayers and hymn singing. It is a great time of sharing our joys and concerns. I always leave refreshed and renewed. There is power in being filled with the Spirit by reciting psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for your own good.

Prayer
Father, what a blessing we receive when we gather together in your house and share in worship. Thank you for inspiring so many writers of scriptures, psalms, and hymns. Thank you for your words.
Amen.

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Praise the Lord

Psalm 145:1-6
I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.

Every day I will bless you,

and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed, and I will declare your greatness.

Praise the Lord

I often forget to just stop and praise the Lord. 

A.C.T.S is a prayer guide.
  • Adoration: Give God praise and honor for who he is as Lord over all.
  • Confession: Honestly deal with the sin in your prayer life.
  • Thanksgiving: Verbalize what you’re grateful for in your life and in the world around you.
  • Supplication: Pray for the needs of others and yourself.

This is a useful guide to help organize your thoughts on prayer. However, sometimes I know I need to slow down and just say and sing praises to my Lord. I don’t want to be the child who only calls Dad when I need something. The psalms are a great way to train yourself in the ways of adoration.

Prayer:

I love you, my God and King, I will proclaim that you are very glorious; I will praise you now and forever. Every day I will praise you; Yes, I will praise you forever. Lord, you are great, and you deserve to be praised.  All people should praise you. We cannot fully realize how great you are. Amen.

How to Praise God

Psalms 145:1-9

I will highly praise you, my God, the king. I will bless your name forever and ever. I will bless you every day. I will praise your name forever and ever. The LORD is great, and he should be highly praised. His greatness is unsearchable. One generation will praise your deeds to the next. Each generation will talk about your mighty acts. I will think about the glorious honor of your majesty and the miraculous things you have done. People will talk about the power of your terrifying deeds, and I will tell about your greatness. They will announce what they remember of your great goodness, and they will joyfully sing about your righteousness. The LORD is merciful, compassionate, patient, and always ready to forgive. The LORD is good to everyone and has compassion for everything that he has made.

How to Praise God

I love the old time hymns more than the modern praise music. The old hymns are based on scripture and are sound teaching put to music. On the other hand, I find much of the praise music filled with the repeated phrase, “Praise God” to be empty words. Saying, praise God, is not praising God. Think about it. If I were say to you, “Praise you”, would that mean anything? If, instead, I were to say to you, “Thank you for being there for me when I really needed you”, that would be praise to you.

The psalmist teaches us how to properly praise the Lord. He lists the reasons why he gives praises to God.

  • The LORD is great
  • His mighty acts
  • things He has done
  • His great goodness
  • His righteousness
  • He is merciful
  • He is compassionate
  • He is patient
  • He is always ready to forgive
  • He is good to everyone 
  • He has compassion 

Prayer:

I will highly praise you, my God, and king. I promise to bless your name forever and ever. I will bless you every day. I will praise your name forever and ever. I remember your help in times past. I remember when you saved me out of troubled times. I also remember your strength being with me through the tough times in my life. For these and so much more, I praise you, my rock and my redeemer.

Amen.

Happy Are Those Who Trust In The Lord

Psalm 84:8-12

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed. For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.”

Happy Are Those Who Trust In The Lord

The psalmest is singing of his joy in the Lord. It is a beautiful love poem to God. Consider it as a Father’s Day card written in fancy caligraphy.

Our church choir signs a song titled “If You’re Happy, Say Amen!” I love it when we sing it because it is sung so joyfully to the Lord.

We call God our Father. Consider for a moment how special and personal of a relationship that is. The Creater of everything desires to wrap us in a loving embrace. How can we be anything other than happy on the Lord!

Prayer:

Abba, Father, we love You and find joy in singing Your praises. Forgive us for not spending more time on joyful praise of your loving greatness. Amen.

Sunday Christians

Joel 2:12-13

Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”  Rend your heart and not your garments.

Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

The prophet Joel was reminding God’s chosen people that God is looking for a change in their hearts. Many were tearing their clothing as an outward sign of repentance. However, without the change in their hearts, it meant nothing. 

1 Samuel 16:7 tells us, “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

I’m afraid that I know some “Sunday Christians”. The ones that get dressed up for church, find their spot in the pew, sing the hymns without hearing their message, and then tune out the pastor and think about work, what’s on TV, their golf game, and a million other things during the sermon. They shake hands with the pastor. Then they leave the worship service exactly the same as when they walked in. They’ve been churched but not changed. They may have fooled everyone, perhaps even themselves, but God looks upon the heart.

What does God see when he looks at your heart?

Prayer:

Lord, soften our hearts that we may accept the changes you wish to make in us. We do not want to be “Sunday Christians”. Amen.

Remembering God’s Goodwill

Psalm 65

For the choir director; a psalm by David; a song.

1 You are praised with silence in Zion, O God, and vows made to you must be kept. 2 You are the one who hears prayers. Everyone will come to you. 3 Various sins overwhelm me. You are the one who forgives our rebellious acts. 4 Blessed is the person you choose and invite to live with you in your courtyards. We will be filled with good food from your house, from your holy temple.


5 You answer us with awe-inspiring acts done in righteousness, O God, our savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the most distant sea, 6 the one who set the mountains in place with his strength, the one who is clothed with power, 7 the one who calms the roar of the seas, their crashing waves, and the uproar of the nations.

8 Those who live at the ends of the earth are in awe of your miraculous signs.  The lands of the morning sunrise and evening sunset sing joyfully.


9 You take care of the earth, and you water it. You make it much richer than it was. (The river of God is filled with water.) You provide grain for them. Indeed, you even prepare the ground.

10 You drench plowed fields with rain and level their clumps of soil. You soften them with showers and bless what grows in them. 11 You crown the year with your goodness, and richness overflows wherever you are.

12 The pastures in the desert overflow with richness. The hills are surrounded with joy.

13 The pastures are covered with flocks. The valleys are carpeted with grain. All of them shout triumphantly. Indeed, they sing.


y first thought when reading this psalm was, “Why is the psalmest telling God who God is? Does he think that God doesn’t know who He is, or has forgotten what He has accomplished?” However I  soon realized that the psalmist was reminding himself and the people who God is and what He has done for them. And in that remembrance is the hope for the future. The hope is that God will continue to forgive and provide as He has done in the past.n my own life there have come  those dark times when it seems impossible to keep going on. I’m sure that you can relate to that feeling as well. It is part of our human nature. However, it is in those times that we need to look back on our lives and see how God has brought us through the tough times of the past. By God’s grace we made it through and by His goodwill we will be able to keep going.

Prayer:
Loving Savior, all our hope is in You. You change not. You are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. As we thank you that you have saved us and provided for us in the past, we praise you for being our help today and all our tomorrows. Amen.

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©2019 Thomas E Williams

Finding peace and joy

Philippians 4:4-7

“Always be joyful in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Be joyful! Let everyone know how considerate you are. The Lord is near. Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.”

Psalms 104:33-34

“I will sing to the LORD throughout my life. I will make music to praise my God as long as I live. May my thoughts be pleasing to him. I will find joy in the LORD.”

It is possible to find peace in the Lord when your world appears to crumble all around you. When we place our trust in the Lord it shifts our focus from this temporary world to that heavenly realm where no sadness, no sorrow, no trouble will be seen.

Many times I find myself, without conscious thought, whistling or humming the tune of a hymn. I believe that those are times when the Holy Spirit of God is bringing me peace and encouragement through the words of the hymn writer. So, “I will sing to the LORD throughout my life.” I will “Always be joyful in the Lord!”

Prayer:

Father, Lover of my soul, thank you for the gift of music, which refreshes our souls and lifts our emotions. In those dark and troubling times in our lives, thank You for reminding us of the brightness and peacefulness of our forever home. That home where the sun breaks eternal bright and clear and we will have peace like a river. Amen.

©2019 Thomas E Williams