This blog is where I can pour out my heart with my longing for God.

Posts tagged ‘encouragement’

The Old Paths: I Miss Mayberry

**This was originally published on Thursday, July 12, 2012, in my newspaper column, “The Old Paths,” in The Stokes News. Due to a website change a few years ago, the publishing company broke all links to our old articles which were archived online. This was a tragic mistake and resulted in the loss of thousands of newspaper articles. Little by little, I am putting my old columns on this blog so that they can be preserved. Each column is updated to reflect present times when transferred to this blog. I had blogged about this subject in July 2012, using some of the material from this column. However, much had been changed during the transition from the column to the blog, so I am now blogging the original newspaper column to preserve it for history’s sake.**

Andy in HeavenSummer always puts me in a nostalgic mood. (Yes, I know—I’m ALWAYS in a nostalgic mood but even moreso in summer.) I think it’s the fact that summer takes me back to the old paths of my childhood when days were longer, lazier and brighter somehow.

My childhood was the era of “The Andy Griffith Show,” long summer breaks from school, working hard but laughing a lot in the tobacco field, making homemade ice cream down in Grandpa Bray’s yard, listening to Uncle Sam pick the guitar while my daddy and his brothers sang “Uncle Pen” or “Let Me Be Your Salty Dog.”

It was Sunday afternoons under the shady old oaks while relatives sat in lawn chairs and talked about the weather, their ‘baccer, what all they had put up for the winter. It was swimming in the creek to stay cool on hot July days. It was  playing in the woods with the cousins ‘til Mama called us in.

Me swimming with cousins.jpg

I’m the littlest girl, wading in the creek….long, long ago…..

Those days are long gone. Summer vacation ends earlier in August now, I haven’t touched a tobacco leaf in a lot of years, Pa Bray is dead and the extended family only gets together down at his old farm a couple of times a year. Nobody has time to sit in the yard on Sundays—too many ballgames or practices. Indoor air conditioning has long replaced creeks as the cooling method of choice, and there are too many crazy people in the world today to let your kids hang out in the woods all day.

There is really only one constant still left from my childhood days—The Andy Griffith Show. I can turn on the TV every day at 5:30 p.m. and see faces from my childhood—Ange, Barn, Thelma Lou, Aunt Bee, Opie. That show aired years before I was even born and probably has been on the air somewhere every year since.andy, barney, gomer.png

When I watch it, modern life ceases for me. I retreat to a black-and-white world where Barney advises me to “Nip it in the bud!”, Andy strums the guitar on the front porch, Opie shares his heart with “Paw” and Aunt Bee keeps them all well-fed.

But it isn’t all sunshine and flowers. Barney sometimes sneaks off to call Juanita down at the diner while poor Thelma Lou sits at home. Opie tells occasional lies and has to confess to Andy. Aunt Bee’s pickles taste like kerosene and sometimes she can’t seem to beat Clara Edwards at anything. Ernest T. Bass is ever chunking rocks through windows while Otis just keeps getting drunk.

Even the paradise of the fictional Mayberry has its occasional thorns—just like real life.

A couple of weeks ago, I watched old clips of Andy Griffith on YouTube and even posted a short one on my Facebook page. It was the familiar scene—Andy with his guitar on the porch with Barney by his side. Andy was singing “The Church in the Wildwood” with Barney adding the harmony.

The episode was called “Man in a Hurry.” The contrast was marked—Andy and Barney peacefully singing, Barney stretching lazily and saying, “Well, I think I’ll go home, take me a nap then head on over to Thelma Lou’s to watch some TV” (emphasis on the “T”), while the man in a hurry paced back and forth.

That same theme is often on my mind: how can we modern folks with cell phones, social networking, email, video games and more TV channels than you can shake a stick at slow down our lives to savor the simple things we recall from childhood?

…..Like catching lightning bugs and putting them in pop bottles instead of playing the Xbox. Sitting on the porch while the moon rises instead of watching “Criminal Minds.” Playing the piano for the family to gather ’round to sing instead of viewing the latest music videos on YouTube.

Truth be told, I’m too busy to do any of that.

I miss mayberry words.jpg

But “The Andy Griffith Show” reminds me that life was probably better when we had the time, or rather TOOK the time, to do these things. Andy was a busy sheriff on call 24/7, but he managed to take Opie down to the fishing hole. (Whether or not they whistled while they walked is undetermined!) Sometimes he and Helen Crump spread a blanket on the grass and enjoyed a picnic.

There was a sense of community that few of us still experience. Neighbors visited. Men gathered down at Floyd’s to talk. Goober and Gomer were never too busy down at the garage to lend a helping hand.

“Wake up, Leslie! It’s a fictional town on a TV show!” you may say.

Is it? I seem to remember living a similar life when I was a kid. We had a community club where the neighbors had Rook tournaments and potluck dinners. Mama invited ladies over to quilt. The Bray cousins and I would wander through pastures, climb cherry trees, swim in Belews Creek before the lake existed.

So maybe that’s why we still watch a show created in 1960—a show with no real relevance now in many ways, a show that belongs to the days of yesteryear…..because it reminds us of so much that was good and that we wish could be again. And because the true values of the human heart haven’t changed much at all since 1960—love for family and friends, a need to be part of something meaningful, a yearning for simplicity.

i miss mayberry chorus

Imagine my shock when I had been pondering these Mayberry-esque issues of life and then heard that Andy Griffith had passed away. It seemed unreal. How could Sheriff Taylor be gone? Shouldn’t Ange have lived to at least 120?

Before I knew it, I was unexpectedly bawling like a baby. I had had no idea Andy Griffith’s death could possibly make me cry.

But you know why I think it did? Not just because I loved Andy. But also because it seemed to be the end of an era. There had not been a minute of my life that Andy wasn’t figuratively sheriff of Mayberry.

Losing Barney, Aunt Bee and most recently Goober was sad, but losing Andy—the figurehead of the show—is much tougher. It somehow makes the Mayberry world he created retreat even farther into the shrouds of the past. It makes me feel more detached from childhood.

It’s been a long time since I really was a child, but “The Andy Griffith Show” makes me feel that young again. I’ll keep watching it as long as it’s in syndication. And I’ll remember…..and I’ll treasure it…..and I’ll keep wishing I could make my life that simple again.

I miss Mayberry.

andy and opie walking

“They Shall Rise Up In The Land”

KKK robe
Have you ever had a nightmare or a scary experience while you sleep? I believe some things that happen in the night are simply the result of too many tacos before bed. However, there are other experiences that are direct attacks from the enemy (satan and his demonic henchmen) who try to hit us under cover of darkness when we are in our most vulnerable state. THAT is the kind of attack I am about to relate to you……

The year was 1999. I have no memory of what went on that long-ago day or that evening before bed. My first recollections begin when I was engulfed in the following dream……

I was in my den during the daytime, pacing the floor, troubled by something. My dear friend, Vicki, was sitting in the floor with her back against the couch, flipping through a book on the coffee table. All of a sudden, I gasped and cried out, “I remember what I dreamed last night!”

Vicki stiffened and abruptly quit turning pages. “You don’t even have to tell me!” she said, in mournful tones. “You dreamed of a man made of ice.” Terror gripped me as she indeed had revealed exactly what I had dreamed; somehow the “Iceman” seemed absolutely and insidiously evil.

Immediately upon Vicki saying that, I woke up (or so I thought). It truly was nighttime, and I was in my bed. Suddenly I heard Vicki prophesying loudly as she walked up and down in my narrow hallway, “They shall rise up in the land! They shall rise up in the land!”—over and over again repeating that phrase.

I remember thinking, “If she doesn’t hold it down, she’s going to wake my babies!” My daughter Abigail was still in her crib, with my son Elijah in a toddler bed at the foot of her crib.

Then came the horror. Into my bedroom—not from the bathroom door, but from the door that opened up into the hall where Vicki was prophesying—walked a hooded figure in a white KKK robe. The pure evil he exuded began to stifle me. He walked by the foot of the bed, ignoring my husband on the closer side of the bed to the door, and approached me. As he did, I became more and more panicked and suddenly realized I was paralyzed.

I had had that feeling of paralysis during sleep before; you try as hard as you can to utter even a word, but you struggle and can only speak in slow motion, if at all. The only times I have experienced this, though, are when I am dreaming of a demonic attack against me……same thing in this case.

As the Klansman rounded the corner of the bed and came closer to me, I began to try to pray aloud. I strained against the paralysis, only able to moan rather than speak clearly what I wanted to: “JESUS! IN THE NAME OF JESUS!” Still, I kept struggling to get out those words, knowing that the name of Jesus was the power that would make this demon flee.

The evil apparition stopped directly beside me and simply looked down at me. I don’t remember the look of his eyes through the slits in the pointed hood. I just remember the hatred that oozed out of him toward me. Without words from him, I could absolutely sense that he was spewing out a caustic and total hatred and desire for vengeance toward me. He wanted to harm me, he wanted to destroy me…..but he knew he was not allowed to, which made him even more furious.

It was then that I saw my husband rise up to lean on his left elbow and stare down at me. He just kept looking at my face, while I wondered why he didn’t do something. Inside I was crying out, “Don’t just lie there! Wake me up! Pray against this demon standing beside me!”

After a while, he finally nudged me and said, “Leslie, Leslie, wake up!” It was only then that I could move and speak. Immediately the Klansman disappeared.

“Why did you wait so long to wake me up?!!” I cried.

His face looked surprised as he asked, “How did you know I waited?”

“I SAW you just leaning there, looking at me!”

“How did you see that? Your eyes were closed.”

I shook my head, puzzled. “I don’t know how I saw it, but I did. I was awake in another dimension and could see everything going on—even you staring at me, trying to decide what was wrong with me.”

“What on earth was going on?” he asked.

Terror still sending chills up and down my body, I shook my head again. “I can’t talk about it now. I’ll tell you in the morning.”

When morning’s light indeed came and I told him what had happened, he gasped and interjected: “I had a dream last night of several of us looking at a map or some kind of paper in critical times, and we heard a voice say, ‘You’ll know the enemy when you see him. His name rhymes with ‘Iceman.'”

Well, as you can imagine, that’s all it took to nearly make my hair stand on end!

For the next year, I’d periodically think about “Iceman” or “a man made of ice,” and I’d wonder about the connection with “They shall rise up in the land!” and the KKK demon visitor. My instinct was that “They shall rise up in the land” had to do with civil unrest somehow—stemming from issues involving race. But at that time, there were no major news stories dealing with racial issues, despite the ever-present specter of racism.

That was the very year—1999—that I finally began hosting prayer meetings in my den for revival in my hometown of Walnut Cove, N.C. I knew the dreams and visions of local revival that God had given me since early 1996 were calling me to intercede for my town. One dream, in particular, that stood out was of an incomplete circle of people standing at what seemed to be my old junior high (now Southeastern Stokes Middle School). The people were primarily black, but there were a few white people scattered here and there. I was directed of God to walk down a hill and join hands with those people. When I did, the circle was complete, and a steeple began to rise into the air in the middle of our circle.

I remember thinking, “What’s up with this? Am I supposed to go witness to all of my junior high friends? What does this mean?” I didn’t know, but I knew the racial contrast in the dream was key.

So people—black and white—began to meet in my den every week, praying/interceding for revival in Walnut Cove. And I heard God direct me to hold a community tent revival in the downtown area.

The story of how He worked out that tent revival in the year 2000 is an amazing one, but not the subject of this blog. The pertinent story began on the day we began to raise the huge tent on a vacant lot beside East Stokes Outreach Ministry in downtown Walnut Cove. As the men labored in the August sun to erect the massive cover, an older black man named Henry Gibson—known locally as “PeeWee”—came limping across the property, on his way back from the store.

Suddenly, PeeWee stopped, leaning on his cane, staring solemnly at the workers. I approached him to say hi and then noticed the tears welling up in his eyes. “Are you okay?” I asked with concern for this man that I liked so much.

“Yes, ma’am,” he kindly replied. Then he shook his head as if in disbelief and continued to speak quietly, “But I just can’t believe it! Black men and white men working together here to put up this tent!”

I was puzzled. “Yes, sir. The church I go to in Winston-Salem is multiracial.” I didn’t see why that was such a big deal in the 21st century.

I guess my voice relayed my questioning, because PeeWee suddenly turned his eyes from the tent workers to focus intently on me. “But, Miss Leslie, don’t you understand what that means on this land? On THIS property?”

I shook my head, “What’s so special about this property?”

He asked in amazement, “You don’t know?” As I again shook my head, he continued, “This is the vacant lot where the KKK used to burn their crosses to keep us black folk in line…..back when I was very young.”

His eyes took on a faraway look, and I knew he was not with me anymore. He was in the 1950’s and early ’60’s. “Yep,” he sighed. “This was the place those crosses burned. It wasn’t often—just every now and then when they wanted to make sure we knew our place.”

Then his eyes rejoined the present as he turned again to the tent workers. “So this means something, Miss Leslie. Seeing black and white men work together on THIS land to put up this tent to bring revival—it MEANS something!” His tears spilled out of his eyes onto his cheeks, and my own eyes were suspiciously moist as well.

racial reconciliation

PeeWee’s story—one I had never heard—stayed at the forefront of my mind for the rest of that steamy summer morning. As I drove home in the late afternoon to rest, I still pondered the divine justice of how God had worked it out to let that vacant lot be the only one we could find for the tent revival that was designed to bring glory to God by uniting all races and cultures in our little Southern town.

When I arrived at home, my answering machine was blinking. I pressed the button and heard an unfamiliar female voice. She sounded angry—almost threatening—as she insisted I call her back. I did not recognize her name, but her tone let me know I better check to see what was going on.

So I returned her call, noting that the last four digits of her number were the exact same as those of my dear friend Tracey in Winston-Salem. This lady’s number, however, started with “591” rather than Tracey’s “784.” (I still remember the final digits but won’t repeat them, in case the lady is still at that number. I still have her name written down as well—16 years later.)

She answered the phone and was immediately belligerent, demanding to know why I had called her house earlier in the afternoon. Startled, I began to protest, “Ma’am, I have been gone all day. I certainly did not call your house from this number or any number!”

“Yes, you did!” she nearly screamed. “It showed up on my caller ID!”

“But I couldn’t have called you when I wasn’t home! The only thing I can figure is that perhaps my husband was calling our friends in Winston-Salem who have the same exact number except for the first three digits. And he probably just forgot and automatically dialed our local ‘591’ first,” I kept telling her, wondering why she was so irate. I soon found out.

“Well, when I saw your address was ‘Pine Hall Road,’ I began to be afraid,” she finally confessed, beginning to calm down. “You see, my ex-boyfriend lives on Pine Hall Road, and I don’t want anything to do with him.”

“Oh!” I replied, finally comprehending. “I see—you thought maybe he was calling you from a neighbor’s or something.”

“Yeah,” she shared, her anger dissipating. “And to be honest, I am scared of him. He is stalking me, and he can be dangerous. You just don’t mess with Iceman.”

My blood felt as though it lost several degrees of warmth as goosebumps rose up on my arms. “Did you say Iceman?”

“Yeah, you ever heard of him? That’s my boyfriend. He was the first to bring crystal meth into Walnut Cove, so they started calling him Iceman. He’s a drug dealer.”

In my astonishment, it was all I could do to finish talking to this lady, but as I did, I was furiously writing down what she was telling me about Iceman—what kind of car he drove, his real name, and more. I had never heard of him, but I didn’t think it was an accident that all of this had happened on the very same day I was told of long-ago KKK activity in Walnut Cove. My mind was racing back to the year before—when I had dreamed of “Iceman,” followed by a demonic Klansman tormenting me in the night.

I never spoke with that lady again, but I never forgot the “too-much-to-be-coincidence” quality of that August day.

That was 16 years ago, and only periodically does the subject of my dream and demonic encounter come up—primarily just between my children and me. But it resurfaced this past Wednesday night, July 6, 2016, as a deep prayer session ended at the church I now pastor in Walnut Cove—”The Well.” The only three people left praying were my two adult daughters and me.

I had heard God tell me of a demonic stronghold in Walnut Cove that was like a fungus—something that grows sometimes inconspicuously, but as it takes hold, it has one goal—to decompose anything it touches. It was revealed to me that such a fungal-type evil force has been allowed to spread unchecked through our town, decomposing even the very buildings that are allowed to sit and decay. (He revealed specifics about this to me, but I must protect the privacy of some individuals.)

As I told my girls what God had shown me, my daughter Meghann began to research fungi on her iPhone. She suddenly spoke out, “Scientist found two types of fungi on Otzi the Iceman!”

When she said, “Iceman,” my senses were alerted. My other daughter Chelsea cried out, “Remember when I felt led to study Otzi the Iceman a few years ago because I kept feeling something about Mom’s ‘Iceman’ dream that was never resolved?!”

I did indeed remember. Otzi is a 5,300-year-old mummy found frozen in the Austrian Alps; literally, he has nothing to do with anything we are praying about. Figuratively, he does—even if it is just in the timing of when a mention of him “pops up.” That the mention of “Iceman” would surface again on this night of deep intercessory prayer when God had just revealed a major cause of the prior decomposition of Walnut Cove was uncanny……especially when this entire week had been dedicated to a special service we were holding on Friday night, July 8. The guest speaker for that service was my childhood friend, Peggy Adams, a former Stokes County girl now living in Tennessee, who is a powerful intercessor in the Kingdom of God.

When Peggy came for the first time in April 2016, she told us that God had given her three words for our direction/mission in Walnut Cove: reconciliation, redemption, restoration. She said reconciliation primarily means reconciling the races in our town—that some sort of reconciliatory healing needs to take place. I nodded in agreement because I have known since the circle dream long ago that one of my primary callings in Walnut Cove is to help with that racial reconciliation.

racial reconciliation 2

That is why the devil would like to torment me. That is why a demonic Klansman stood over my bed and hated me—wanted to destroy me. But the enemy cannot have his way with God’s people; nor can he stop God’s plan for racial reconciliation to take place in Walnut Cove.

Our nation is in turmoil today. Videos of black men being shot and killed by white police officers are making the rounds online. News bulletins are flying through cyberspace and across TV screens, telling the latest in the deadly, retaliatory murders of police officers in Dallas, TX. Facebook and other forms of social media are alight with hurt, anger, outrage and often even hatred.

Yes, I hate injustice and am saddened/shocked/angered by these murders. But I also recognize the enemy’s tactics to divide us as a nation right now, in particular. And I urge Christians everywhere not to be a part of this division. Yes, stand up for what is right—absolutely! I am standing in agreement with you for that! Wrong is wrong and should be justly punished.

praying at crossBut even so, we Christians are called to do everything we do—even protesting and crying out for justice—with God’s grace. And we need to recognize that rather than getting embroiled in the multitudes of arguments out there, the most helpful and powerful thing we can do right now is pray—and not just some quick “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer either, but rather a deep prayer for our country and its people. Couple that prayer with fasting, as Jesus said, and you will more easily be able to tear down the demonic strongholds of racism, prejudice, injustice and hatred.

“They shall rise up in the land!” Yes, that is happening even as I type. But when the enemy’s minions rise up to divide and conquer, and when we allow our hurt and emotions to make us rise up in bitterness and hatred, let’s remember how to turn this thing around. That will happen when God’s warriors RISE UP in the Spirit and in truth and say, “No more! God, send us a fresh outpouring of Your Spirit across this country! Lord, baptize us anew with the Holy Ghost AND with FIRE!!! We rise up, Jesus, in Your name to demand that satan and his demons back down before Your righteous and holy presence!”

He is looking for a people who will pray with that kind of authority and in the love of God.

“Who will go?” the Lord said.

Like the prophet Isaiah, may you and I join together to cry out, “Here am I, Lord! SEND ME!!”

here am i

The Old Paths: What about the children?

**This was originally published on Thursday, September 26, 2013, in my newspaper column, “The Old Paths,” in The Stokes News. Due to a website change a few years ago, the publishing company broke all links to our old articles which were archived online. This was a tragic mistake and resulted in the loss of thousands of newspaper articles. Little by little, I am putting my old columns on this blog so that they can be preserved. Each column is updated to reflect present times when transferred to this blog.**

Little did I know in early September 2013 when I penned a newspaper column about time healing our hurts that our county would suffer several horrendous hurts that very week. I had used the example of Sonia Luster—the 16-year-old killed in an automobile accident on her way to North Stokes High School in 2008—noting that she died the day before the Stokes Stomp, our county’s signature festival.

NSHS--Dee Luster

Sonia Luster’s mom, Dee, at the North Stokes High School graduation the year that Sonia would have graduated—wearing a shirt with a picture of Sonia graduating from an earlier grade.

Imagine my horror at the 2013 Stokes Stomp when I heard the tragic news that three other Stokes County youth had just been killed in auto accidents—one the night after I wrote my column, two others the night before the Stomp. My heart felt like lead as I was told the heartbreaking details of the wrecks that affected every high school in the county.

One victim was a West Stokes High School student, another a South Stokes High student, another a recent graduate of Meadowbrook Academy in Stokes County. One driver, who survived but was charged with DWI and two counts of felony death by motor vehicle, had attended North Stokes High.

I had left the county fair in King on Wednesday just an hour or so before the first wreck occurred on nearby Meadowbrook Road. On Friday, I had left a prayer meeting in Walnut Cove just an hour before the second wreck; it happened on Highway 89—the very road I traveled to get home. Being so near the accidents, both in place and time, made me strangely affected, although I knew none of the victims.

Not knowing them didn’t matter anyway. Mothers lost sons those nights. I am a mother of two sons, so this was heart-wrenching to me.

What was also devastating was the fact that alcohol was involved in both accidents. One driver was of legal drinking age, the other was not. Legal or not, no one should drink and drive. Why is this a problem? And why does Stokes County have one of the highest rates of alcohol-related crashes in the state?

Years ago, I sat on a committee that had received a grant to study the high incidence of alcohol-influenced wrecks in the county. We spent hours searching for the root of the problem and how to resolve it. We even brought in teenagers to help. An initiative was launched to lower the number of these accidents.

And still they happen. Why?

There are many reasons: lack of fulfillment in people’s lives that leads to alcohol abuse, that youthful feeling of invincibility which results in the skewed thinking of “It can’t happen to me,” too little awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, etc.

One of the age groups most affected is youth ages 16 to 25. We can argue that we are not training up our children in the way they should go, that peer pressure to consume alcohol is strong, that irresponsible adults are purchasing alcohol for underage drinkers.

But I will also argue that there aren’t enough worthwhile activities for youth in Stokes County, especially on weekend nights. If you’re in King, it’s a little better; you are near Highway 52 which will take you in a flash to Winston-Salem where there are multiple things to do, such as bowling or going to the movies. In King itself, there may not be too much to do except eat at a restaurant that stays open late. The Stokes Family YMCA is located there, but it closes at 8 p.m. Friday night and 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Late at night in Walnut Cove, you can go eat at a couple of restaurants. That’s about it. You can’t even do that in Danbury, Pine Hall, Lawsonville or Sandy Ridge.

There are those of us in Walnut Cove dedicated to helping local youth prosper through education, recreation, service, a move of God; we are lobbying for a recreational center in town. We argue that kids need a place to shoot basketball, have space for games/seminars/tutoring, watch movies, hold Christian youth rallies and functions.

There are not even any real parks for children. There is an outdoor public basketball court in the London community of Walnut Cove—not ideal late at night or in freezing weather. There is Fowler Park—a lovely place but one which has no bathrooms or playground equipment. What kid wants to just sit under the picnic shelter or walk around the short path? At Lions Park, there is some rather outdated playground equipment, but again, no bathrooms unless baseball games are going on nearby.

So if you are a young person in Walnut Cove on a weekend night, you can either hang out in the Food Lion parking lot or hang out in the Food Lion parking lot. And repeat.

How do we get what we need for the youth? Community involvement is a start. We need more people to care about this issue. Most adults either have children, will have children or have/will have grandchildren who need a place for wholesome recreation in town. So you SHOULD care.

Some of you have lots of money that you can’t take with you. (Yeah, I said it.) Some of you know where to find money/grants, even if you don’t have any money personally. Some of you have land that would be a perfect place to locate a rec center. Some of you have skills that could be used to construct and outfit such a place.

So what’s stopping us? I say we can have a place in Walnut Cove (and other towns) that will give our kids somewhere to go to do something constructive. Would you rather see your kids at the local rec center playing handball, basketball or Uno late on a Friday night or out on back roads drinking illegally and then driving around because there’s no place to go?

If you are willing to put your hand to the plow to make this happen, contact me; I will be glad to welcome you to the group that is pushing to provide something for our youth in this town. My heart is to bless the children. I know the Town of Walnut Cove needs revenue; that’s why the leaders push for businesses to come to Town. But can you imagine how blessed Walnut Cove would be if Town leaders would get behind the effort to bless the Town’s children? Revenue would follow, per God’s promise that if you seek first His Kingdom, everything else you need will be added.

We don’t need any more young people killed on our roads because alcohol was an easy answer for “What is there to do?” That “easy” answer often turns into something hard for all of us to bear. We’ve had enough of that. It’s time to redeem this next generation. Who’s up for the task?

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The Old Paths: Fight the Winter Blahs

**This was originally published in a similar form in The Stokes News on February 28, 2008. When the publishers changed websites a few years back, all links to archived articles were tragically lost. I am attempting to republish in my blog all of my columns that once appeared in the newspaper. Although much of this info is dated by now, there are still universal truths to be gained by reading it.

winter blahsIf you’re like me, you’re starting to notice the days getting longer and some daffodils prematurely pushing up through February’s hard ground. I actually saw a bird taking a bath in my birdbath today and nearly freaked out; I’ve never seen one do that in the 14 years we’ve lived here! And when I parked behind London Elementary School a few evenings ago, I heard croaking down at the creek—do they call them “peepers” maybe? The sound made me long for spring which is indeed right around the corner. Signs everywhere are pointing to my favorite season!

But until then I’m still working my way through the winter blahs. I’ve found some great ways to beat them. “American Idol” came back on in January, and that sure has helped. (I agree with those of you who say there is to be no idol before God, so yes, the title of that show bothers me. However, my family and I enjoy hearing excellent singing and critiquing below-par singing!)

A friend of mine declared vehemently in the fall that he would NOT watch such a cheesy show as “American Idol,” but I’ve heard he’s on the couch every Tuesday and Wednesday night as he boos Simon or agrees with Paula and Randy. He even headed up a “Fantasy Idol” draft. I’m quite impressed with the labor he went to—cutting out pictures of the Top 24 and working out an elaborate point system. My fantasy football season may have gone sour, but so far, I’m at the top of the leader board in the “American Idol” league! (Eat your heart out, Stokes News employees who beat me at Fantasy Football!)

My favorite-ever "American Idol" David Cook was on the show in 2008 when this column was originally published.

My favorite-ever “American Idol” David Cook was on the show in 2008 when this column was originally published.

Another excellent way of beating the late winter blahs is to have friends and/or family TV sessions to watch ACC basketball. It’s not quite as much fun as the World Series or football season was in my den, but it’s much better than watching “The Weather Channel” 24/7. (Then again, maybe not. How I love that weather stuff!) Somehow I have failed in my job as a mother—the fruit of my labors having produced two Carolina fans. It makes for interesting times when the Duke or NC State fans in our family get riled up. It’s a pretty even split around here.

However, my favorite way to attack those winter blahs is to get out into the community and be active. I enjoyed seeing so many of you at the South Stokes basketball games. And I must confess I was always disappointed during the varsity games. That gym should’ve been packed out instead of half-empty!

“I don’t have anyone playing on the teams,” you may say. Neither did I. Neither did Margie Dunlap or Carol Wiles. Horace and Brenda Boles stayed long after their granddaughter finished playing. Don and Nancy Lester could be counted on to hang around way past the time their relative played. The point is that it was great fun to watch, whether or not you had anyone playing. The sense of community unity was heartening as all races, creeds and genders pulled together for the common goal—a Saura victory.

For many years, my kids and I missed very few ballgames at my alma mater, South Stokes High!

For many years, my kids and I missed very few ballgames at my alma mater, South Stokes High!

Remember the days of Kenny Dennard when there was standing room only in the gym? They tell me the whole town came out to watch on the old paths of the 1920’s and ’30’s when the likes of my grandmother, Reny Richardson Smith, led Walnut Cove High School to victory. Athletics has always been a great common denominator for the varied types of people who inhabit our town and county. I encourage you to come out to watch your local teams whether or not you have a vested interest. You’ll find someone you know there in the bleachers, you’ll see some kid playing that you recognize and you’ll find that the winter blahs are lost in the cries of “Defense!” or “Let’s go, Sauras!”

I found the same camaraderie in London Gym this winter. How encouraged I was to be forced to stand at the door one night last week because the bleachers were jam-packed full! All to watch eight- and nine-year-olds play. That’s the spirit!

Even the little kids' games are exciting at London Gym! And it's free until tournament time.

Even the little kids’ games are exciting at London Gym! And it’s free until tournament time.

These kids are the future of our town, our county, our world. Watching them learn to play as a team, to be gracious in victory or loss, to compete with as much determination as Alan Iverson or Tim Duncan—this warms the heart, chasing away winter’s chill. And I doubt Iverson or Duncan goes running into Grandma’s arms after the game or high-fives Grandpa to be congratulated on the lay-up that finally went in! I’d rather be in London Gym during tournament week than at an NBA arena.

And it's not just boys. Girls play, too!

And it’s not just boys. Girls play, too!

I sat in that gym a lot this winter, often contemplating its rich history. I thought of the marvelous teams London High School must have had back in the day. Not discounting those incredible teams I have heard tell of, I was nonetheless encouraged now to see children of all races playing together on that floor. What a different world our children are growing up in—not perfect by any means, but coming along slowly but surely in the area of race relations.

Yes, I still get a chill when I hear the part of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech that says, “I have a dream that one day. . .little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.” Perhaps I am privileged enough to be able to see the dawning of that day, even on basketball courts in crowded gyms.

Children of different races play together at London Gym—something that would have been unheard of even 50 years ago.

Children of different races play together at London Gym—something that would have been unheard of even 50 years ago.

So how are your winter blahs now? Mine are rapidly disappearing in the warmth of what I’ve experienced this winter. Next year, take my advice and experience community unity with me. Support the children who will one day be your doctors, nurses, teachers, firefighters, accountants, etc. Basketball may be almost over, but early season baseball is just around the bend. Put on your earmuffs and scarves, grab the blanket and get out of the house. You’ll soon find that the winter blahs are old news and that spring has sprung once more.

Tournament season in the Walnut Cove Youth Basketball League starts this coming Saturday, February 27, 2016. Come watch these kids play; I promise you won’t be disappointed. We had a nail-biter there just last night!

The Old Paths: The Light at the End of the Tunnel

**This was originally published in a similar form in The Stokes News in 2009. When the publishers changed websites a few years back, all links to archived articles were tragically lost. I am attempting to republish some of my best stories from my time as editor of that paper. Part I of this story can be accessed on another of my blog posts at this link: 

https://timesofrefreshingontheoldpaths.wordpress.com/2016/02/02/storing-up-stokes-memories-bob-carroll/

Me and Bob Carroll

Me with Bob Carroll at his 101st birthday party!

It has been nearly 80 years since the 1929 stock market crash that helped send this country reeling toward the pit of the Great Depression. Since then, we’ve heard talk of recessions and economic downturns, but the “D” word has been avoided. I’ve often wondered what would necessitate the use of it.

Some economists say a depression is a decline in the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of more than 10 percent. For example, from 1929-1933, the GDP fell almost 33 percent. There was a bit of a recovery in the mid-‘30’s before another decline—this time only 18.2 percent—in the late ‘30’s. Since then, there has been nothing even close to that. Remember the big recession from 1973-75? The GDP only fell 4.9 percent during that period. Quite a difference from the Great Depression, huh?

The bad news is that the GDP fell 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 alone, after having already fallen lesser amounts in the earlier part of 2008. Many economists predict a further decline in the first half of 2009. It seems we are creeping closer to that dreaded “D” word.

Talking to Stokes County residents who lived through the Great Depression has been eye-opening for me. Most of them agree that the biggest difference between that generation and the present one is the fact that the majority of them knew how to be self-sufficient. As a whole, we have lost that capability.

I’ve heard old-timers talk about being forced to shoot songbirds for food. Rabbits and squirrels were diet staples. Bob Carroll, age 101, told me about eating “possum,” which he stills remembers as a rather distasteful, unpleasant experience. Truth is, if I were left alone without my male relatives who know how to hunt and fish, I would probably starve. I guess I could trap an opossum if need be–they sure show up on my porch often enough to try to eat my cat food–but shooting a bird might be a fiasco for me.

I’ve grown my own garden before, buying my seeds at local stores. What would I do if those seeds were not available? I so desire to learn how to save my own seeds. The predominance of hybrid seeds scares me. We have been lulled into a trap that convinces us to buy new seeds each year, since hybrid seeds don’t reproduce themselves.

Carroll told me of men in the ‘30’s who would hustle all day to sell apples for a nickel, just to put food on their families’ tables. Do we still have that same work ethic—we who have become inured to sitting at desks or working at lucrative factory jobs? Men of Carroll’s generation were willing to walk barefoot from King to Charlotte to be first in line for a rumored job.

That nickel they sold an apple for would buy enough beans to keep them alive for a day. Would that work for Americans who are used to eating sumptuous meals at restaurants nearly daily, or who, even if eating at home, have grown accustomed to marinated chicken breasts, broiled steaks or at least frozen pizza?

Carroll says Depression-era families went back to the farms—“not to make a living but to live.” Where are we going back to? The family farm is, as a rule, a thing of the past. My daddy has my grandpa’s farm. Since I live next door, I suppose Daddy would let me help him grow enough food for my large family, if need be. But most people don’t have land to go back to.

Unemployment for us has come to mean checks from the government to help us along, as we put in a couple of applications per week. The unemployed father of seven in the Great Depression era had no such checks. If you were unemployed, you had to scramble to eat. This made for a tougher people, in my opinion.

“I’m very pessimistic about the future,” Carroll commented on the state of the nation, adding that the high prices of commodities and growing unemployment worry him. He says that the difference between now and then is that a dollar went farther in the ‘30’s.

Carroll still remembers the hope that came when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt brought in the “New Deal” in 1932. He credits FDR’s ideas with being the key to the economic turnaround. Crop control measures allotted only so much tobacco, cotton and peanuts to growers. The WPA (Works Progress Administration) brought community work; Carroll cites the example of WPA workers adding to the courthouse in Danbury. He remembers the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) building the bathhouse at Hanging Rock State Park.

Today’s situation is somewhat similar in the sense that we have a new President with new ideas—reminiscent of FDR and his New Deal. “Obama’s touched on it,” Carroll speaks optimistically of the new President’s plans. He believes that already our Commander-in-Chief has made progress by limiting the sumptuous incomes of some: “He’s kinda on the right track. I’m extremely interested in the political situation in this country.”

As to the common perception that people tend to fall back on religion when times get hard, Carroll believes that is true “to some extent but not so much as you might think.” He philosophizes: “I’ve thought so much about it. When you are hungry, would you rather someone say they’ll pray for you or give you a bowl of beans?”

Going even further back in memory, Carroll remembers how Americans united during World War I. Although there weren’t the widespread rations as in World War II, still the country rallied to conserve. The government suggested that people observe three types of days each week—wheatless, meatless and sweetless.

By law, if a family wanted to buy 100 pounds of flour, they had to buy 100 pounds of cornmeal—an equal ratio of both, for conservation purposes. Carroll admits, “I never have liked cornbread much since I had to eat it so much back then,” yet he still did his part to support his country’s efforts to get back on the right track.

If we are entering similar days again, we may be called upon to do our part, whatever that may be. I hope you’ll join me, even if it means sacrifice. Just as great events bind us in unity, so do hard times often knit us together.

I read an email this week that said, “Due to recent budget cuts and the rising cost of electricity, gas and oil, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off.” Although it was meant to be humorous, it was based on what many perceive to be true. Don’t fall for it; there IS light at the end of the tunnel. Keep your head up until you get there, and I’ll try to do the same. Give me your hand, and let’s walk it out together.

**Robert “Bob” Carroll, passed from this life on Tuesday afternoon, Mar. 6, 2012, just a little over a month after he celebrated his 104th birthday. The cause of death is listed as complications of pneumonia.

A Veterans Day Remembrance: Jay Kitts

(I wrote this back in 2012 when I was a reporter for The Stokes News. It was originally published as “Just in time for Veterans Day. . .Walnut Cove soldier returns from Afghanistan” on Nov. 15. The subject of the story, Jay Kitts, passed away on June 13, 2015, from cancer at the age of 54. The article has been edited accordingly.)

vet jay--pam and guysVeterans Day holds a special significance each year for Pam Kitts of Walnut Cove. Not only did she have a husband in the military but a son as well. In 2012, with her husband Jay still deployed with the U.S. Army Reserves to Afghanistan after 14 months and her son Nathan stationed with the Coast Guard in Ohio, the upcoming holiday was destined to be bittersweet.

Or so she thought.

Just a week before the Nov. 11 holiday, Pam received word that Jay would be coming home. He landed back on American soil in Texas on Nov. 5 for medical checks and briefing. It looked to be perhaps a couple of weeks before he would make the flight back to North Carolina.

But then Pam got the call that made her heart rejoice. Jay would be flying home on the eve of Veterans Day–Saturday, Nov. 10.

“The unit in Ft. Hood, TX, worked overtime to try to get the soldiers home for the Veterans Day holiday! We were not expecting them for another week,” Pam explained.

Before she knew it, she was on her way to PTI Airport in Greensboro. “I was anxious and so excited,” she recalled her emotions. “I just couldn’t wait to see and hug him!”

Waiting for Jay to arrive....

Waiting for Jay to arrive….

Pam and several family members and friends were on hand with banners and American flags to welcome Jay home late in the day that Saturday. Before long, he was back in the arms of his wife and home just in time for the day that honors him and all of those who serve in this nation’s military.

“I was ecstatic to see my family and friends and grateful to be back home!” Jay said.

vet jay--airport crew

Jay is home at last!

The Kitts family reunited!

The Kitts family reunited!

It was a long time coming. Master Sergeant Charles Jay Kitts had been deployed three times overseas, serving active duty in Desert Storm and stationed in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. He was also deployed another time stateside as an RDO (Rear Detachment Officer).

But that most recent deployment with the 378th CSSB (Combat Sustainment Support Battalion) out of Fort Indiantown Gap, PA, may have been the toughest. During the two months of training in NJ and then TX, followed by 12 months in Afghanistan, Jay’s father-in-law passed away, Pam had two surgeries and his 14-year-old daughter Katelyn underwent three surgeries.

“It was hard leaving behind your family and worrying about what’s happening with them and not being there for all the hardships and milestones,” Jay admitted. “I kept my faith in God and trusted that He would keep my family and me safe and bring us back together soon.”

A specialist in logistics, Jay worked 12-16 hour days in Afghanistan, always with the knowledge that enemy forces were out there to bring harm to the military. He faced protestors and occasional Afghans who would try to get into the camp.vet jay--w:arabs

“It was tough,” he confessed. “Days were long.”

But during that time, there were things Jay accomplished that he was proud of. He actually helped build a forward operations base in northern Afghanistan and served as acting mayor of the base.

vet jay--on duty

In 2012, Jay had been with the Army Reserves for 30 years with six years of active duty. This Wytheville, VA native remembered first wanting to enlist because his dad served in World War II and because he, too, wanted to serve his country.

And Jay did not serve alone. Pam was right by his side. They met on the job in the summer of 1986 when he moved to Walnut Cove, quickly fell in love and married in Feb. 1988. Pam said that since she and Jay had been able to put down roots in Walnut Cove–not having to move around–deployment was perhaps harder on them.

“The toughest thing about THIS deployment,” Pam noted, “was that I had to deal with my emotions and pain of losing my dad to cancer without Jay by my side.”

Jay was allowed to come home on emergency leave for two weeks for his father-in-law’s funeral, but when he had to go back to Afghanistan, Pam said her emotions hit their peak.

“I think the shock of my dad being gone and Jay gone again was so unbearable,” she recalled. “I needed him. Jay was truly my soulmate and my rock to lean on besides God. . .but God saw me through, and friends and family helped me, too!”

One of her comforts was her daughter, then a freshman at South Stokes High School. “Katelyn helped me so much in keeping my spirits up,” Pam declared. “She showed me what a remarkable young woman she truly is!”

Pam said that although Katelyn–a daddy’s girl–had missed her dad and longed for him to be there for her, she was very proud of him and remained a trooper and big supporter for both parents.  

Pam and Katelyn were all smiles when Jay got off the plane in Greensboro that 2012 Veterans Day weekend. By their side was Nathan whose unit had worked with him to allow him to come home to greet his dad.

Pam was relieved to have Nathan there: “It’s one thing having to worry about your husband, and then it makes it tougher to worry about a son, too! I am proud of my husband and son, but I have to say I pray a lot that my son never experiences having to go overseas or any war. I worry a lot about that.”

But Pam put those worries out of her mind that weekend when her family was finally reunited. They spent Veterans Day together in a church service that was dedicated to veterans and included a testimony of thanks from Jay and a special outdoor flag presentation by the South Stokes High School JROTC. They hung and flew the US flag that Jay had flown over Afghanistan in honor of Germanton Baptist Church for their support of him and his troops.

Home at last!

Home at last!

When he got home, Jay said that he planned to transition back with his family, spending quality time with them while getting back into the routine at his job.

Pam remembers being overjoyed to settle back into life with him. “There were so many things about my husband that made me so proud of him,” she declared. “Jay was dedicated and loved God, family and country. He truly stood for what he believed in.”

RIP, Jay Kitts–you are missed every day by those who so loved you. But they will be with you eternally one day!vet jay--abroad

A Wake-Up Call

14This past summer as September 11 drew near, I abruptly became besieged by the number “14.” Yes, I meant to use that very word “besieged.” I couldn’t quit thinking about it. “Fourteen,” I would murmur, “what is it about the number fourteen?” I told the hubster how obsessed I suddenly was with that number.

And the feeling of obsession was eerily familiar. It reminded me of how I was obsessed with “9/11” for 5 days before the terrorists struck our country on September 11, 2001. I even wrote a blog about it in 2012, recalling how I felt God had shown me that 9/11 was coming as early as 9/6 of that same year. You can read that fascinating account at:

https://timesofrefreshingontheoldpaths.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/remembering-9-11-and-knowing-that-a-10-18-is-coming/

Now here I was obsessed by another number–14. And again, we were nearing 9/11. What could it mean?

In early September 2015 during my obsession with “14,” I was going through an obscure bottom drawer, looking for some paperwork from years ago. I stumbled upon a gold mailing envelope that read “Spiritual Stuff.” Upon opening it, I found an old dream typed on a piece of paper back in late 2002. Fascinated, I began to read it and was flabbergasted to see that the only number in the dream–repeated twice–was the number 14.

This was no coincidence. I had found the record of the dream at just the right point. Let’s go back in time to see how it originally transpired…..

On Christmas Day 2002, a dear friend of mine contacted me that she had had a dream she considered from God. She was a person who didn’t often have spiritual dreams, although she was (is) a very spiritual person. So when she said this one was meaningful, I took it to heart. She felt she should tell me this dream for some reason; in fact, she felt it so strongly that she typed it up for me. I filed it away for safekeeping. Here is the dream exactly as she typed it, with a name left out for privacy purposes:

“Leslie and I were staying together in a large hotel. I remember us going up to our room together–we were on the 14th floor in room #14. As we looked out the window of our room, there was a large storm brewing over the water. It appeared to be something small enough to see, such as a tornado, but it gave the excessive rain and storms usually associated with hurricanes.

“As we watched it, we decided to go downstairs to a lower level, thinking we’d be safer, but others in the hotel kept telling us to stay where we were. They continued to repeat, ‘Stay up here. You’ll be safer the higher you are. Don’t go down onto the lower levels.’ Although it seemed against all reason, we decided to stay on the 14th floor.

“The storm passed, and everything seemed to brighten up again, so we decided to go out onto a large deck at the rear of the hotel. It was on our floor. As I began to walk out onto it, I noticed that the deck itself had come loose from the building. It didn’t seem in imminent danger of collapsing, so I went out there anyway.

“Throughout the dream, I have a recollection of seeing other church people, although I can’t remember any specifically, other than **name omitted for privacy purposes** sitting out on the deck when I was out there. There were only a few people sitting out there, but they were all sitting in chaise lounges, relaxing and having something to drink.

“About the time I got out there, I looked over the water and saw that the storm had reversed direction and was headed right back toward us. Nobody else there acted as though they could see it. I felt the Lord was telling me to get off of there as quickly as possible. I began to yell at everyone to come back inside. Everyone else got back inside, and as soon as I got both of my feet back into the hotel, that deck collapsed.”

(DISCLAIMER: I asked my friend last month if I could have permission to share her dream, with names omitted. She said yes, of course. She also said this: “I’ve literally read the entire books of Ezekiel, Daniel, Revelation, Zechariah, Obadiah, Joel, Amos, and parts of Isaiah and Jeremiah in the last week. Let’s just say I’ve read a lot about judgment, and had some keen realizations lately that people are not watching, and it’s happening right under their nose.”)

You can imagine my amazement when I found this old dream with the 14’s in it. In the following days, I continued to seek God and ponder the significance of the number.

And suddenly, clarity came.

In a few days, we would be commemorating the 14th anniversary of 9/11. FOURTEEN.

trumpetsAnd something I had been teaching on–the very meaningful Biblical Shemitah year–was about to end on Sept. 13–at which point the new Jewish civil year would begin–on September 14. FOURTEEN. This is a huge day for me every year…..the first day of the holy 7th month on God’s calendar…..the Jewish New Year…..the day we celebrate the Feast of the Lord, Rosh Hashanah–also called the Feast of Trumpets–which symbolizes the Lord’s return to earth. Each year it is on a different day of either September or October, since God’s calendar is a lunar one, and thus, fluid. This year, it “just happened” to come on the 14th.

Two days I was anxiously awaiting were part of the “14” puzzle–the 14th anniversary of 9/11 and September 14th–Feast of Trumpets. And I didn’t realize it until AFTER the obsession with “14” had hit.

I knew then what the “14” in my friend’s dream meant:

–We stayed on the 14th floor which represented the 14th anniversary of 9/11.

–We stayed in Room 14 which represented September 14.

–A floor of a hotel is a bigger entity than a mere hotel room–just as a 14th YEAR is a bigger entity than a 14th DAY of a month. There is a room 14 on every floor–just as there is a 14th day in every month. But there is only one 14th floor–just as there is only ONE 14th-year anniversary. (Hope that logic makes sense as to why the floor corresponds to a year and the room corresponds to a day of the month.)

Why were these 14‘s important? Because the Christian world (and much of the secular world!) had been waiting for this year’s anniversary of 9/11 AND for the start of the Jewish New Year. Why? Because there had been so much teaching and warning about something big happening this September. Why? Because it was the end of the Biblical Shemitah year which only comes every 7th year and resulted in the biggest stock market crashes in history in 2001 and 2008…..at the end of Shemitah year…..both on the 29th day of the 6th Jewish month of Elul–the final day of the Shemitah year.

shemitahThis year, the 29th day of Elul–the final day of this once-every-7-years Shemitah year–would fall on September 13. Since it was a Sunday and the U.S. stock market would be closed, many folks were waiting with bated breath to see what happened on the next day–Monday, September 14th. It seemed even eerier since this year the anniversary of 9/11 AND the end of the Shemitah year were the same weekend. That didn’t happen in 2008–the last time we had a Shemitah year. In that year, the end of the Shemitah year occurred a few weeks after 9/11, again due to the Jewish calendar being based on the moon and therefore fluid.

Indeed things did seem to be building toward something catastrophic as the stock market experienced some dark days in the days/weeks before the end of the Shemitah year. Even many stock market analysts with no Christian ties were predicting dark days ahead financially.

But nothing catastrophic happened…..just as in the dream, when the storm was approaching the hotel where we were in the 14th room on the 14th floor…..and then suddenly turned back out to sea. A dangerous storm that seemed destined to strike the hotel didn’t actually strike at all!

Then all is well, right? NO. Notice that the deck at the rear of the 14th floor was loose–not securely attached to the main structure…..perhaps in danger of collapsing.

I began thinking of that one person my friend remembered seeing on the deck (although there were others). Nothing was coming to me about why it was that particular person–very frustrating. Shortly after the 14th anniversary of 9/11 and the September 14th Jewish New Year came and went without great fanfare (just as the expected storm did no damage at that time), I suddenly realized that the person on the deck had a first name that was the same as a unit of U.S. money. That seemed very significant to me with regard to our financial system.

Then it hit me to Google the meaning of this person’s last name. Imagine my surprise when I found that this person’s surname meant “someone at a high place, in a raised-up area.” And this was the person sitting high and raised up on the 14th floor deck! It all seemed to fit. Symbolically, our financial system was still in an exalted position on that deck–just as the person with the monetary unit name was sitting comfortably up there where folks were relaxing in chaise lounges and sipping drinks.

But that deck was loose and not sturdy or trustworthy…..perhaps like our financial system here in the U.S.

The very next morning after I felt God had revealed to me the significance of that person’s name on the deck, I opened my Bible to read my daily chapter. At that time in September 2015, I was already in the Book of Revelation. And the morning after I got revelation on the person’s name, the very chapter in Revelation that I was scheduled to read mentioned the actual name of the person on the deck–the monetary unit…..in connection to a global financial failure!

Color me astonished at the timing!

waterspoutWhat happens next in the dream? The storm that everyone had earlier expected reversed course and began heading back to the hotel. This time, no one was looking for it and couldn’t seem to see its approach. In other words, they were fooled. So when it struck, the faulty deck collapsed…..the deck that had been coming loose for a time, but which still seemed to be able to support those relaxed people, FELL catastrophically.

Do I think something is coming to our country that will cripple us and perhaps surprise us by its arrival? Yes. As for me, I’m coming in off the loose deck where we are so wrapped up in our own leisure and personal fulfillment, and I’m getting into a place where there is a firm foundation.

II Timothy 3:1-4 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents,ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”

LOVERS OF PLEASURE RATHER THAN LOVERS OF GOD.

We need to have our feet on a firm foundation rather than on a pleasure-seeking, loose deck suspended above 14 stories. That firm foundation is a strong relationship with Jesus Christ. “Oh, I believe in God,” people say. Yes, the Bible says the demons believe in one God, too, and TREMBLE. Our belief does nothing for us if we keep living for ourselves and not in close relationship with Jesus. Just believing in God will not get us into Heaven.

I urge you to enter into a true relationship with Him. The time is now. “Make haste; don’t delay” was a word of prophecy given to our church group a few weeks ago.

I have kept the revelation of this “14” dream to myself for 2 months. Yes, I am ashamed to admit I don’t like to be mocked or made fun of for claiming revelation from God or predicting something. But I’ve finally passed the point of caring what people think of me. What does God think? THAT is what matters.

I should’ve learned my lesson last spring with an experience I had. On Monday, April 20, 2015, a solemnity fell upon me suddenly–the sense that something catastrophic was about to happen somewhere in the world and that I needed to intercede. I have witnesses of this, since I testified of this prayer burden on Wednesday, April 22, at our weekly Bible study at The Well. That very night in a vivid dream, I saw a catastrophic avalanche on Mount Everest–so disturbed me that I told my hubster about it the next morning. But I didn’t tell anybody else.

avalanche everestThree days later on April 25, the devastating earthquake struck Nepal, and Mount Everest suffered the worst avalanche in its known history–22 people killed by the deluge of falling snow. I had seen it before it happened, but who would’ve believed me had I told it? Was I supposed to alert the Nepali government–some unknown gal from Walnut Cove, North Carolina, telling them an avalanche was coming? I can’t see that I had an outlet to share this, but maybe I’m wrong.

This past week was my bimonthly week to write my original newspaper column–“The Old Paths”–for The Stokes News. On Monday, November 9, as I wrote it, I mentioned the word “hankering” which, Google informed me, had Flemish roots. “Flemish?” I thought. “What is that?” Google once again provided help: Flemish means it came from Flanders, a region in Belgium.

Hmmm…..I was suddenly reminded that I had once dreamed of Belgium…..years ago…..maybe in about 2005? (I mean, who dreams of Belgium? Really!) In that dream, I was in Paris, France, when the city had been struck by absolute panic. There was pandemonium all around, and the government there closed the borders. I was in the heart of the city with a man with longish, curly hair; I wore his ring. (At the time of the dream, I had never even met the hubster–a man with longish, curly hair–whose ring I now wear.)

Ex-ETAMAT de Thouars (79)

All I knew was I needed to escape the terror in Paris. I began to make my way north toward the Belgian border–to try to sneak across there. Soon I was in a barren area that looked like a wasteland. I even saw barbed wire borders and began to wonder if I was safe in this desolate area. (Tonight, when I Googled the border of France and Belgium, I found a region called “Zone Rouge”–the red zone–an area left so devastated by World War I that it is technically a wasteland even today. I found a picture of it that looks almost exactly like the area in my dream. There, 99% of animals and plants perish.)

What are the chances I would suddenly write a column about a word from Belgium that reminds me of a long-forgotten dream about such terror/panic in Paris that the borders of France are closed–just 5 days before terror actually hits Paris and the French borders are closed?

I have been beating myself up all night tonight as I watch the tragedy unfold in Paris. I feel that if I had been in consecrated prayer as I should’ve been this week, God would’ve given me warning about this. Instead, my 3 kids here at home were all hit with a bad respiratory bug which resulted in my body fighting it off with aches and pains. Instead, my plate was overly full of things that had to be done (or so I thought). Instead, I did not steal away to my prayer closet the way I normally do.

Prayer is key right now. Through His Spirit, our God WILL reveal things to come. Why? That those of us on the wall–the watchmen (you and me, if you know Him)–will know to sound the trumpet, to send the warning, to cry out for God’s people to prepare their hearts and to be more dedicated than ever to bring in the harvest of souls before it is too late.

mushroom cloudI have people asking me what else I have seen in dreams that seems to be a portent. There are many things, but I will tell you this one: I saw what I thought was a football game going on. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was a bloody battle of competition on a field of play–seemed much more serious than a simple game of football. What they were tossing about on the field seemed to be not a football but rather a weapon of mass destruction. (Perhaps football is a time factor? I don’t know.) Suddenly a cloud of smoke went up over a major city in the U.S. (My first thought was NYC, but it has not been confirmed to me.) The cloud was similar to a mushroom cloud but perhaps not as big. I remember that one of my older daughters was out of town at the time this happened, and I was desperate to hear if she was okay. After the attack, I saw people of a Middle Eastern nationality (no, I’m not racial profiling here–I’m just telling you what I saw…..and it IS key that ISIS is such a threat right now) riding through our streets in the U.S., with guns and terror. Even our very homes were not safe. Just as I, too, began to panic–just like the people all around me–I suddenly felt the Holy Ghost surround my very body just like a shield or a suit of armor. I knew then that the power of God was the ONLY thing that would protect us in the day of terror–not manmade weapons, but SPIRITUAL armor/weaponry.

THAT is what I would say to you: get yourself spiritually armed and ready; be clothed in the Spirit of God which is the ONLY thing that will bring you peace, love, joy, patience and every other good quality that will be needed as these last-day birth-pangs hit this earth. I don’t believe in spouting off doomsday warnings all the time or using scare tactics. Those of you who know me can attest that I preach the Gospel–the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ–and that I teach optimism and positivity. Some say I even wear “rose-colored glasses.”

But when He gives me something like what I have shared with you tonight, I cannot keep it to myself any longer. So take heart and listen to the words of our Savior:

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Luke 21:28 “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Psalm 91:9-11 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways”

He’s got this, Church! And He’s got us right in the palm of His hand and in the shelter of His wing!

psalm 91

Praying for Opportunity

mission field

I have long been one who sees everywhere I go as a mission field. I anticipate running into someone at the grocery store who is hurting emotionally and needs to talk, seeing someone at the restaurant who has just been diagnosed with something and wants me to agree with them in prayer, smiling at the person getting gas next to me in hopes they can feel the love of God. Brochures advertising my church are crammed into my purse. Anointing oil is ever-ready in a little container on my keyring.

But when my son Elijah told us all at our church, The Well, one recent Sunday morning that we needed to start praying ahead of time for opportunities to minister to people wherever we go, it really struck me. Yes, I look for such opportunities, but had I been praying beforehand for such opportunities to be created? No.

Hmmm….

Trust God to speak a good word to us and then give us a chance to put it into practice….always with a little twist, I must admit.

Yesterday was my chance. And talk about frustrating! By noon, I was asking God what in the world was going on that I was being hindered everywhere I went. That’s my problem when I have to wait on anything: I often start asking “Why?” rather than trusting His timing.

Because I had stayed up super-late on Wednesday night, I ended up sleeping later than I anticipated. Then I went downstairs to find that Abigail–who had been told to get up early so we could go to the DMV in Kernersville–had forgotten to set her alarm. By the time I got my sons settled with schoolwork to do, it was much later than I had planned on leaving.

Well, of course, the gas hand was dipping low, so I had to stop and fill up. Still, I remembered going to the Kernersville DMV–a very well-run place–on another Thursday not too long ago, so I relaxed. It had been nearly empty–we were in and out quickly. Rarely have I waited long there.

Oh, the shock when we pulled in to find a full parking lot and standing room only inside. Most every eye turned to look with pity at us as we walked in. They looked even more sympathetic as they watched me stand at the front desk for over 15 minutes–waiting for an examiner to simply acknowledge I was there. Finally we were able to check in, be given a number and take a seat….on the hard tile floor.

After quite a while, I told Abigail I was going to walk to the License Plate Agency to change my name on my car title. I walked for quite a ways and was relieved to see a short line. Very soon, the kind attendant was doing my paperwork. I paid the $20 fee with my debit card and thought I was on my way….

….until she told me the notary fee of $5 had to be paid in cash. Now in this day of plastic, yours truly does not normally carry cash. She pointed to an ATM inside the building but told me it would cost $3 just to get $5 out. Hmph! No way–I’d go to the CashPoints ATM in the next complex of buildings. She said she trusted me and would let me go get the cash.

Due to the distance to the ATM, I walked all the way back to my car at the DMV, checked on Abigail, then drove to get the cash. With Elijah’s words ringing in my ears, I had prayed ahead of time for an opportunity to minister. But by the look of things, I’d have to wait until later since things were about to wrap up at the Agency. I headed back, cash in hand.

And then came the slowdown. There was now a line at the Agency. Plus, in my absence, two people had come in to buy/sell a car and do a title transfer…..with the very attendant I needed. I prayed she would be free by the time I got to the front of the line. But she wasn’t. So I had to start letting people pass me to go to the other two attendants…..one…..two…..three…..and on up to seven people passing me as I stood there feeling stupid. Meanwhile, the other attendants were glancing suspiciously at me, obviously wondering why this “strange lady” kept letting everyone pass.

I struck up conversations with everyone who passed me, but I sure didn’t feel any ministry opportunities. My mind was racing…..Were they calling Abigail into the office for her test and she needed me there?…..What if she was texting me and my phone was in the car?……How much longer should I wait?

And still, the title transfer dragged on…..and on…..over half an hour of “on.”

Then it happened. Just as I was thinking about giving up and coming back later, a lady–maybe my age–limped in with a cane. My heart quickened within me. I smiled, she smiled, we began to chat. Before long, I learned she had MS and was worried because she was aging so rapidly and rarely felt well enough to get out for such business transactions. Aha–here was my ministry opportunity; I could feel compassion welling up in my very soul.

Then an attendant called, “Next!” It was my turn again, but it wasn’t my attendant. I told the lady she could pass me, and she thanked me kindly. As she finished her transaction and began to hobble out, I heard that still small voice deep within me say, “Follow her out.”

“NOW? Give up my place in line after all this time?!” I asked in panic–seeing that the title transfer was wrapping up with my attendant.

“Yes, GO.”

No more questioning–I took off out that door, catching her before she crossed the parking lot. “I hope you have a good day,” I said. “And I hope you get better.”

She smiled a sweet, trembling smile, “Thank you!”

I patted her shoulder and continued, “I believe in divine healing, and I know it’s God’s will that you be made whole.”

Suddenly she was very moved and said excitedly, “I believe in divine healing, too!”

That’s all it took. Right there in the parking lot, I laid my hand on her back and started praying for healing in the name of Jesus, speaking that by His stripes she was healed. I wasn’t loud, I didn’t embarrass her and I wouldn’t have even done it had I not felt from God that she was receptive.

She was overwhelmed with gratitude and thanked me fervently. We introduced ourselves by first names only and parted with huge smiles–the love of God marvelously flowing between us. Why? Because our good God had advised our congregation–using my son as a vessel to tell us–to pray ahead of time for ministry opportunities everywhere we go. Many Christians are probably already doing that, but I confess that I had not been.

I finally got to pay my attendant. Abigail finally got called in for her test at the DMV; she didn’t miss a question and is now driving! We even had time to enjoy a late lunch before she had to report to work. The hindrances were suddenly gone. What I was thinking that the enemy meant for my harm–the many delays, the many temptations to be frustrated–GOD used for my good! If I hadn’t been delayed at home, at the DMV, at the license tag agency, I wouldn’t have met this precious lady who needed encouragement.

He’s an on-time God. Yes, He is.

I will long remember this sweet lady He placed in my path. I will continue to speak that she is healed of MS. I will believe that wherever she is, she is noticing incredible improvement. I will trust that one day in Heaven, we will be reunited; maybe she’ll come running over to tell me about her miracle!

What if we all went out every day praying in faith BEFOREHAND for the Lord to CREATE opportunities to minister everywhere we go? Wow–what a revolution we would see! May that be our strategy every day for the rest of our lives on this earth.

Luke 10:2– “He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Our Miracle of Healing! Pt. VII: Keeping the Faith

(This story is much too long to share in one blog post, so I have divided it into parts. Be warned that it deals with a sickness that was so severe I must occasionally delve into graphic descriptions of the symptoms. This is necessary for the telling of the story.)

The kids and me just 3 months before the parasites struck.

The kids and me just 3 months before the parasites struck. (See a picture of us NOW at the end of this portion of the story!)

On that Monday, October 26, Keith stayed home with us all day and fielded phone calls for me, since it was ringing off the hook. Finally Vicki called. Again, she had been reading something in the Bible that was meant just for us at this time.

BEFORE the healing, I kept asking her, “So what is God telling you? Are you coming across anything in the scriptures?” She had been puzzled because all she kept reading involved false idols and how God’s people needed to get rid of them. That didn’t seem to fit at the time. But after my experience the day before the healing when we had to purify our house from ungodly movies, tapes and even things like totem poles and certain Native American memorabilia, I knew now why those scriptures about false idols DID apply.

(NOTE: Keith and I both have considerable Native American blood and are proud of our heritage. But some—not all—Native American items purchased in the modern marketplace are representatives of heathen gods or are tied to religions other than Christianity.)

Now on this beautiful October Monday morning, Vicki told me she had just finished reading in John. As she closed the Bible, she felt led to open it again. She told the Lord she would open it, and He could direct her to what she should read. She opened immediately to II Chronicles 29. The first word she read was “Hezekiah,” and she smiled. Aha!

This chapter told of Hezekiah sanctifying the Temple, throwing out idols and cleansing the sanctuary. She couldn’t help but think of Keith furiously throwing away anything even questionable. Then she said, “Leslie, when Keith purified your house, what day of the sickness was it?”

I did a mental calculation and said, “The 16th day.”

Vicki began to laugh and then read aloud verse 17 (there’s that 17 again!): “…so they sanctified the house of the Lord…and in the sixteenth day…they made an end.” I nearly came off the couch! I told Vicki I was going to have to run or shout or something. That was amazing!

Then she told me how that, after the Temple was sanctified, people began to bring thank offerings. She said the Lord told her to tell us that people were going to bring thank offerings to us and that when they did, we were not to say, “Oh, you shouldn’t have!” or anything apologetic like that. We were to simply say, “Thank you.”

This seemed strange to me. Thank offerings? I didn’t see why anyone would bring us anything. I said, “Have you talked to someone or something?” Vicki said no, that’s just what the Lord told her to tell us.

Then when I told her how I had awakened and was told at 1:11 a.m. that I would be tested on this, Vicki laughed again. She had finished her Bible reading this morning with the portion of scripture that told how—after the wonders were done in the Temple after sanctification—God left Hezekiah for a time to try him to see all that was in his heart. Now I was even more determined to prove to God that I trusted Him.

I had just hung up with Vicki when my mom called. She was thrilled to hear the news (Keith had told her this morning), and she totally believed. She said that my Great-aunt Fannie (whom I don’t see very often) had brought over a gallon of homemade chicken soup and just felt as if she wanted us to have it. I was stunned.

But the thank offerings had just begun. Someone else came with money for hospital bills. Then Mike Lane called to tell us the church had taken up a love offering for our hospital bill, and he’d bring it to church Wednesday night unless we needed it sooner.

Cordelia Hairston from my church called to say what a miracle it was and how it happened to strengthen our faith at Christ Temple. Then our church friend, Nancy Bullard (Jody and Joy’s mother), called to tell us that the miracle had helped spur a revival of miracles at our church. She said, “Rebuke Satan if he tries to bring something on you to make you think you’re not healed. Bind him.”

My Aunt Darlene Heath from South Carolina called to say, “No weapon formed against thee shall prosper.” I needed that at the moment, because Tracey and I had just been talking on the phone a few minutes before about people voicing unbelief. The last thing she and I had discussed had been how the prophecies seemed to be for Elijah Blue only. Some people had already called her and discussed this.

Darlene knew none of this, yet she said she felt strongly she must tell me that Meghann, Chelsea and I were ALL healed. Every time I had talked on the phone that morning, I had ignored the beep that told me another call was coming in. But for some reason, when Darlene beeped in as I was talking to Tracey, I answered the call—without even knowing who it was (no Caller ID). Thank God I did!

I started to wonder throughout the day what else was going on, because I kept noticing strange things that seemed totally unrelated yet pertinent somehow. For example, the birds had completely left our backyard feeder some weeks before, but suddenly today, I heard their chirping and knew they were back. Then I found a ladybug in the house. They, too, had been gone for a while, and now the first one was back in our den where they like to congregate.

Meanwhile, the phone kept ringing. I couldn’t get all the calls, so some people were calling Vicki and Tracey to check on us. I kept thinking about those scriptures in Hebrews that Joy had read to me on Sunday afternoon about rest, and suddenly, I wanted so desperately to get away and rest. We had been penned inside for so long. But I knew it wasn’t time. I needed to stay home and accept my thank offerings!

A sister in the Lord came and brought so many bags of groceries I didn’t know where to put them all! I had to go to the basement and store many things on the shelves down there. Keith had gone out for a brief time when she brought them. When he came back and saw the multitudes of groceries in the kitchen floor in bags, he said, “We’ve got enough to eat and a bunch more!”

Immediately, I thought of a portion of the scripture Vicki had read to me just that morning about the purification of the Temple. I ran for my Bible and read it to Keith: II Chronicles 31:10—“…Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty: for the Lord hath blessed his people; and that which is left is this great store.” We both started laughing. It was so true!

Tuesday, October 27, dawned—another lovely fall day. Again, the phone was consistently ringing. I called Vicki for a word of encouragement since Chelsea, who was feeling better physically, was still fighting a mental battle. Vicki said she was sitting with the Bible in her lap, waiting for me to call. She knew she had to read Psalm 105 to me. She read it, and oh, what a comfort! It spoke of giving praise unto the Lord for His marvelous works and how we should talk of these works and make them known among the people.

Vicki told me that this morning she had been wondering why Chelsea, at only 8 years old, was the one having to fight this battle of faith. Then Vicki’s mom, Betty Blansett, called her and out of the blue started talking about a dream she had when she was only 8 years old—a dream of two roads—one so well-travelled that dust was rising from it as if it was a cattle trail and the other one narrow but green and shady and refreshing.

Then Betty looked up and saw the skies part for the Lord to appear. The dream terrified her so badly she slept with her grandmother for a while afterward. She didn’t totally got over it until she received the baptism of the Holy Ghost when she was 12 years old. When Vicki heard this dream, she realized Chelsea was certainly not too young to have spiritual things happen to her.

Then my Aunt Sammie Bray stopped by. She “just happened” to have some yard sale clothes she had bought, thinking of my kids. They “just happened” to fit Chelsea—an expensive pair of Nikes, like the ones Meghann had gotten for her birthday, and four cute turtlenecks. I simply said, “Thank you.”

I told my aunt the story of our healing, and she became teary-eyed. She totally believed. Nancy Bullard then called and said she had some cute shoes that her granddaughter had outgrown and that Chelsea might be able to wear. I felt this was a definite confirmation that God was sending thank offerings to Chelsea in particular.

People kept calling, telling us how this miracle had totally changed them. Heather called to say people had told her they were so moved by the miracle that they had made vows to God to give up things that would be difficult to sacrifice. She didn’t mention these people by name, of course, but I was touched just the same.

Parents/relatives of backsliders called to say these backsliders had heard about the miracle and were pricked in their hearts. What if they should need a miracle? Would they have the right to ask God? Some who had shown no interest in God for years suddenly wanted a tape of Sunday’s service. A fairly new believer in the church called someone else to say, “I don’t know why they had to bear this, but this was for the church.”

And still the manifestation of the healing amazed me—no more vomiting, diarrhea or sleepless nights for any of us. Elijah’s bowel movements still became more solid and normal. It was fascinating just to watch the progression! (Yes, it’s strange what things you’ll take pleasure in after you’ve escaped a near-tragedy!)

Vicki called again to say that she had been humming a song all day and had just thought of the name of it: “You Can’t Make Me Doubt Him.” That became my theme song. Then when I told her Keith had just brought me Mexican food from “Mi Pueblo,” Vicki laughed. She had stopped by the same place to take food to the hospital to Robin who had travailed in natural labor while we travailed in the Spirit.

Vicki had told me earlier that morning to anoint my phone so that only those calls that would be uplifting and not doubtful would come through. Then when she went to the hospital later, she found that Robin had been placed in a confidential room—the number of which would not be revealed except to those who absolutely needed to get in to see her. The parallels were incredible!

Wednesday came, and we were so excited about going to church. A faithful saint of God called to say that as she was praying, she felt the Lord told her He had healed us from a parasite—a worm—to show that He was going to restore what the cankerworm and the caterpillar and all those parasitic worms had eaten and stolen from the church. That sounded good to me.

Several people called to say I needed to be writing this down, and I assured them I was taking good notes! I, too, had felt a huge compulsion to write about the experience.

Suddenly I remembered a strange dream I had dreamed the past August—a dream I had recounted to Keith and Vicki at that time because it had such an effect on me. I had been standing in my living room talking to our Stokes County 4-H Agent, April Bowman. As we chatted, snakes began to crawl from my walls and run toward the open front door. I was astounded that April never saw the snakes. As I looked more closely at them, I realized they weren’t snakes, but huge worms. (When I reminded Vicki of this dream, she reminded me that I had told her two months earlier that the worms in the dream had teeth and monster faces like the strongyloides Keith saw in the microscope!)

In the dream, after the 4-H agent left, I went into the bathroom to—guess what? Give Abigail a bath. I couldn’t because the bathtub was dirty (just as it was the night God revealed the parasites to us)! So I went to the back door which was also standing open and looked out at the rolling hills with beautifully-colored fall foliage at the peak of the leaf season. Then I woke up.

I had dreamed that in August. Now here it was October, the peak of the leaf season, as well as the week that ended our official 4-H year (April leaving our house in the dream). And all of these things had happened!

Recalling this prophetic dream that I had forgotten until this day gave me total confidence that the parasites were not only gone from our bodies but from our home as well. I had seen them crawling out the door in the dream.

As I sat on the couch that afternoon just before getting ready for church, I was thinking that the thank offerings had been nice but that they were over now. At that moment, the phone rang, and it was Dee Dennis from church, asking if she could bring our supper to the service that night. As instructed by Vicki, I once again simply said, “Thank you,” just as I did the day before when a 4-H friend brought my lunch and my sister brought my supper.

I smiled as I hung up the phone and then suddenly froze in disbelief. I heard a sound that I had not heard in a while—raindrops. The entire time we were sick, there was no rain at all. The meteorologists kept making a big deal out of the consecutive number of days with no rain. We had noticed how the drought days matched our sickness days. The last rain had come on Thursday, October 8—the very day we started feeling strange before we woke up sick on Friday, October 9.

Now I looked outside and saw that a brief shower was passing through. There was no rain at the airport that day, so the meteorologists didn’t list the trace of rain in their weather record books. But at my house, it truly rained on that Wednesday. I couldn’t resist calling Tracey to tell her that I could hear the sound of an abundance of rain—the latter rain.

God had been faithful and true and right on time once again.

Me with the kids today--with a new child, Malachi, added since our miraculous healing 17 years ago! (Baby Abigail--far left--is now taller than her sisters Meghann and Chelsea--far right!)

Me with the kids today—with a new child, Malachi, added since our miraculous healing 17 years ago! (Baby Abigail—far left—is now taller than her sisters Meghann and Chelsea—far right!)

Our Miracle of Healing! Pt. VI: The Visible Miracle

(This story is much too long to share in one blog post, so I have divided it into parts. Be warned that it deals with a sickness that was so severe I must occasionally delve into graphic descriptions of the symptoms. This is necessary for the telling of the story.)

My kids just out of bed about a month or two after the divine healing--never another sign of the parasites, praise GOD!

My kids just out of bed about a month or two after the divine healing–never another sign of the parasites, praise GOD!

Assistant Pastor Mike Lane was preaching that Sunday night, and we didn’t want to disturb the service as we had that morning, so we settled down to wait at the side hall door. I couldn’t quit praying in the Spirit even though people were coming and going and staring at me. I knew if I let up on my faith and prayer and started conversing with people, I’d lose my train of thought and my focused belief that something supernatural was about to happen.

I kept staring through the windows in the door, determined to go in as soon as Mike gave the altar call. I was afraid to move for fear I’d get sidetracked and miss the opportunity to be first at the altar. Because I was so much in the Spirit, I didn’t realize the people inside the sanctuary could see me and were beginning to worry about me. Finally, an usher came and said he had been asked to move me from the door.

It was then that Elijah began to scream. He was screaming for the thermometer. Somehow he had developed the belief that the thermometer would make him feel better—as if taking his temperature was some sort of treatment. He was in obvious pain and smelled absolutely rotten—a characteristic I had noticed for a few days. Whether he was able to go to the bathroom or not, he had developed an awful smell, even right after a bath. His very breath smelled like decay and rot. Now it was particularly noticeable in the hall.

Finally, Elijah got so loud we were forced to take him to the back foyer. He was screaming for a bowl, which was a sign he needed to throw up. Our close friend, Sandra Strupe, came out and said, “We need to get someone out here to pray.”

I was on the floor, already praying, when she came back with Joy’s brother, Jody Bullard, a fiery young preacher. He began to anoint Elijah and pray, but the child kept writhing and screaming in pain. I finally said, in utter desperation, “Why can’t we take him into the church?”

Jody looked at me calmly and said, “Well, why can’t we?” And off we went, Rusty carrying the little buddy to the altar in the midst of the preaching, with Keith, the girls and I close behind. Again our beloved church friends gathered around us immediately and began to pray as if the house was on fire. The whole time, Elijah was crying and/or screaming.

Mike Lane especially called the young people up closer to pray for us. I’ll never forget the fervent prayers from these youth—especially those of young Josh Elkes laying hands on Elijah and praying with as much anointing as I’ve heard many a preacher have. Nothing seemed to be happening still.

As the volume level began to subside, Jody—bless his soul—took the microphone and pleaded with people to stay at the altar and pray. He told them we had been at the hospital, and we had a parasite that couldn’t be diagnosed. That did it for awhile. The volume of prayers swelled once more.

After a while, things tapered off again. I kept thinking, “The Lord told Vicki we need to travail. Forget these normal little ten-minute prayers.” Then I had to leave the altar for a short time as the leaders asked me to come talk to them up on the platform. While I was gone, Keith also walked away with Elijah because he was crying so loudly.

People began to talk to me, and again I felt a confusion I didn’t like. Suddenly I felt absolutely dead inside and out. All the life and hope seemed to be seeping out of me. I’m sure that to those looking on, my whole body appeared to slump. Sister Teddi led me to the chairs on the platform and had me sit down. She said, “You are worn out.” I could barely answer her through my confusion.

After a while, I walked off the platform, down the steps to where Keith had been talking to a lady, Brenda Henry, who worked in a pathology lab. She was astounded that the doctors had treated us the way they had. I was too heartbroken to even converse with them.

As I tried to make my way through the crowd toward the back of the church, Barbara, the herb lady, walked with me. She was trying to tell me to give him a garlic enema since he needed desperately to move his bowels. She said, “Leslie, do you think you can do that?” In her desperation to help us avoid a hospital stay, she was attempting to buy us more time, thinking the enema would prolong his life until we could receive our healing. Thank God for her compassion!

Like a person in a drunken stupor, I just stared at her and shook my head. “No, I can’t do that,” I sighed a sigh of resignation. “I guess we’re on our way to the hospital now.” Looking back on that statement, I’m so disappointed in myself. God had given me so many clues that He was going to do something miraculous if I’d just hang on a little longer, and now I was giving up.

So many people had implied to me that the child needed to go to the hospital that I began to doubt what God had told me. I’m so ashamed that my ears were not tuned directly to Him and Him alone. And again, it’s not that there’s anything wrong with hospitals. If a person is severely injured in a car wreck, let’s pray for them while we rush them to the hospital.

But this situation was different. Elijah would’ve been dead before they finally proved he had strongyloides. I’m sure of that. And besides, God had dealt with me so strongly even before Elijah was conceived that I would indeed bear a son one day; that had seemed impossible at the time, considering the long span of infertility I was in the midst of. But of course, His Word came to pass, which made it easier to believe His next directive to me about Elijah, as noted previously—that he was not to be trusted to man but rather unto God in this last day.

This is why I had clung so tightly through so much suffering to all of the evidence God had given me that Elijah would be healed of the parasite. Yet late on this Sunday night—my mind wearied from all of the advice that seemed to go against my gut feeling, my body weakened by weeks of malnutrition and sickness and exhaustion—I was too far gone to hold on any longer.

BUT GOD! Once again, my God proved Himself faithful and true and RIGHT ON TIME!!! Just as I walked away from Barbara in total despair, my choir director, Patsy Todd, began to speak a message in other tongues. Everyone immediately became totally silent. I fell to the floor on my knees with my head touching the carpet. Patsy spoke for a while, and then we waited breathlessly for an interpretation. When it finally came, she ended with, “Just praise God. He is healed!”

That place went absolutely haywire with joy. I began to sob but somehow couldn’t get up. A dear friend and neighbor, Sherry Richardson, was there, sobbing with me. She had her arms around me. Later she told me she had felt my pain as if it was her child and he was about to die. I believe God gave her some of my pain, because otherwise I could not have stood it.

Rusty was watching the proceedings from the back of the church where he had retreated to as we left the altar. He recalls that he saw Patsy rise up tall as the Spirit came upon her, and she began to speak. He said the Holy Ghost was upon her with such force and power that when she finished, she crumpled and sat down, as if being used that forcefully by the Lord had sapped her strength. He, an admittedly backslidden person at that time, was totally convinced that what was going on that night was absolutely genuine.

Still I could not get up. I seemed to be waiting. I didn’t even know where Elijah was, much less whether or not he was improved. As if to drill it into my head that He is always on time, God moved again just in the nick of time.

I had finally risen to my knees, thinking I probably should get up now, when Jody, who had also been down on his knees on the platform, began to deliver another message in tongues. This was something I had never heard him do, but it was sure enough legit right now. This time I fell to the floor, totally flat on my face as I listened.

He spoke for a while then interpreted. The interpretation was forceful, all about how God had done this healing—even though there was doubt and unbelief—that we might be in unity. God said this was but the first miracle of others that were to come. My favorite line was, “Who is the devil?” as if to scoff at the enemy.

God had spoken by the mouth of two witnesses, and I felt complete again. I was able to get up, but I felt strangely light on my feet. People were laughing and crying and telling me I looked drunk in the Spirit. I felt very happy but far away from everyone.

Heather came over and put her arms around me. God had told her over and over again to come to me and speak these words: “Hold fast to what thou hast, and do not doubt. For what I have said, that will I perform.” Those words were to comfort me much in the coming days.

I turned to see Elijah in the back of the church, playing with the teenagers who had swarmed him. Keith said that a minute or two after Patsy finished speaking, Elijah suddenly quit screaming and got down from his arms to go to a young girl, Ashley Flowers—at which time he started asking for pizza and to go to the youth game room to play. People were crowded around, staring at him, while others fell all over themselves to bring him orange drink from the kitchen—anything they could do for this child they had seen almost literally rise from the grave before their very eyes!!

The thing I noticed most was that he didn’t smell bad anymore. The smell of death was totally gone. That absolutely blew my mind. God had done just what Heather had told me He would do—something miraculous to set the church on fire. He was right on time!

We celebrated that night with pizza at Rusty and Vicki’s with a whole gang of people. After a while of joy and laughter, I escaped to the bedroom where all was quiet to nurse Abigail. As I lay there, pondering the events of the night in my mind, suddenly I realized everyone had been focused on Elijah Blue. What about Meghann, Chelsea and me—all of whom had also suffered from those nasty parasites? My blood felt as though it began to run cold as I thought, “Hey, maybe just Elijah was healed.”

Then God spoke to me in a gently-laughing yet loving manner, “Will I not heal thee also?” My whole body suddenly relaxed and became peaceful again. Of course!

As we drove home that night, I was still worried that Elijah had not gone to the bathroom in so long. That was my next prayer request. We had no sooner entered our house than he looked at me, his eyes big, “I gotta go potty!” We barely made it to the bathroom before he relieved himself quite fully. For days and days, his bowel movements had been more like pure green liquid. Now they were already beginning to firm up and change color. I was so relieved! He slept peacefully the whole night through and NEVER ONCE had another sign of the sickness.

But peace was not to be mine that night. Everyone had said, “I know you’ll be glad to finally get a good night’s sleep at last.” And I did fall off to sleep quite easily. But then I woke abruptly, and these words were spoken to me,  “You will be tested on this.” I looked at the clock, which said 1:11. I immediately thought of the oneness of God and His power and immediately fell back to sleep.

An hour or two later, I heard little feet running to the bathroom. It was Chelsea, who was crying that her belly hurt. Now, if God had not awakened me and told me I would be tested on this, I probably would’ve panicked right then and there. Instead I was ready. I felt strong and full of faith. I smiled at her and comforted her and told her to go back to bed. I reassured her that she was healed of the parasites, but that Satan might try to bring something else on her to make us doubt.

Chelsea went back to sleep but still battled the next day. She kept feeling that she was going to get sick, although she never once did. Again, I was calm and kept encouraging her. Suddenly I had an idea. I asked Chelsea to let me check the sores that just yesterday had been festering on her backside. Glory be to God—they were already closed and healing rapidly! That was my proof that she was going to be just fine.

Elijah woke up feeling great, wanting food. He was still pale and weak, but that was to be expected after three weeks of virtually no nutrition. I began my job of fattening him up!

TO BE CONTINUED…..See Part VII at https://timesofrefreshingontheoldpaths.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/our-miracle-of-healing-pt-vii-keeping-the-faith/ .

I just realized tonight that there will be 7 parts of this story. I did not plan that; it “just happened” to end up as God’s perfect number 7. I simply divided it up into readable increments, and this was the result.

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