It was February
2017 when I laid eyes on him for the first time in thirty-two years. Though we
both aged gracefully, it didn’t stop the thumping of my heart for the beautiful
man I dearly loved, Dana Bicks. A smile that lights up the camera lens and a
sense of humor so witty it’s absurd, but oh… what a man of God!
I spent most of my
adult life in and out of dysfunctional relationships, so I never really learned
the concept of “loving” a man the godly way. In fact, I’d sworn off marriage.
Many times I prayed the Lord would lead me to a job where I could serve Him.
So, I pursued mission work in Africa and even signed up for the Peace Corps
(which I decided against), but still, a great emptiness lingered in my soul.
Something or someone was missing in my life. Help me, God, to fill the empty
And, along came
Dana and I had
many missing years to catch up on, so we left very few moments without speaking
a word. But, when I discovered he was a struggling Christian author, I knew God
had a reason for reuniting us. Dana had hundreds of narratives written on paper
and in his cellphone, and an unpublished book poorly edited by Tate Publishing.
I had several years’ experience of working for a publishing company. OK,
Lord, you have a funny sense of humor!You put this man back in my life
to fill my empty hole – both professionally and on a personal basis.
It is rare,
indeed, to find a man who loves as deeply as Christ loved His church, but this
is the story of Dana. He is a profound and humble man, chosen by the Lord to be
His representative to the world; he never takes God’s messages for granted.
Deeply devoted to serving, Dana is a blessing to all who come in contact with
his healing words, and I can only stand back in awe.
I reminisce on the
day we eloped on a beach in Destin, Florida. Just as we were pronounced ‘man
and wife,’ doves flew out of the tall grasses. A sign from God? Perhaps, but
better still was a rainbow which appeared over our heads in some pictures we snapped
of each other. We glanced behind us to observe its pretty colors and no rainbow
was in the sky! Yes, our dear Lord blessed this marriage.
In recent weeks,
we learned our faith and love will be put to the test. A doctor diagnosed me with
heart failure and other serious problems – a devastating blow to newlyweds whose
lives just hit the top of the barrel. With many more inspirational books to
write and other deeds to do for God, Dana continues to wake each morning
shining in hope. Each night he gently touches the skin over my heart and prays
for healing and answers. He is a husband and a father with so much love for God
and man, and I cannot thank him enough for just being him.
On this Father’s
Day, I want to thank God, my Father, for blessing me with the special husband
who filled the empty hole. Regardless of my outcome, I know the Lord will let
Dana soar above the clouds, for he is truly gifted. However much time I have
left to love him, I am honored to be a small part of Dana Bicks’ world. My time
with him has been filled with compassion, respect, and love of life. Better yet,
he allowed me the opportunity to serve the Lord as I so desired for many years.
God bless you, my sweet baby – I dearly love you! Happy Father’s Day!
I turned around! Strange were all the faces; No one did I recognize; Where were they? Where had they all gone? I mean .my people; All the people I knew; They had gone home already! I was left alone, With people I did not know, Stranger in my own home? How long can I last? Surrounded by people I did not know. How long can this really be? Let me leave.
My windows were wide
open, but tears resonating from the house next door hampered the refreshing molecules. I wondered…
what kind of man makes a wife cry? The sobbing was an every night occurrence. He
arrived home again and again, in the wee hours. She told me he worked late, but
I doubted it.
He opened the door
and kissed the kids goodnight while they stood at the mirror, brushing their
teeth. Without a kiss for her, he told his wife he was going out back to work
in the shop. “It relaxes me after a hard day’s work,” he claimed. She made
dinner, so he grabbed the plate of food and headed to his hideout. The pain
sharpened as a dagger twisted, once again, by his careless appearance. The back
door slammed again and silence.
He locked himself away
safely in the shed and pulled out a knife to snap off the top of a bottle
buried in the chest. Whittling his world away, he hid his sorrows in the bottom
of a longneck bottle. His state of mind included carving the names of his exes
in the bottom of his soles so he could save himself from sin. Several hours
later, he staggered to bed and slammed the door shut again. So, the screaming
begun behind the blinds. It’s a horrible life for a wife to witness and endure,
and only God could save the innocent from the terror of his conscience.
What kind of
Christian man puts his family on a bus Sunday morning and stumbles to the shed
for his own benediction? He opened another bottle for his personal communion. As
he stared at the ground, he chuckled at the buried empties; meanwhile, a poor twenty-something
mother of three, put on a face and filed into the aisle of a sanctuary. She has
no money for the offering plate and seeks only the strength to make it home.
I ask God in
heaven for His mercy. My heart is wrenched by a man named Christian who carves
his past in the bottom of his boots. His days are numbered… he will soon
discover if God doesn’t show His wrath first, then the bottle will. His wife bears
a name she hates so much, and her three little ones will have to endure the
legacy of their father’s misfortune. Are there prayers in heaven for a man who
calls himself Christian? I wonder…
The day will come
when the blood he bled will be no more. Three little children will have to fend
for themselves while their mother struggles to support their mere existence. Her
sacrifice is to put on an apron and do her best every single day. The kids now sit
on the porch and carve their past into the treads of their own little world. I
watch and pray God will bless this mess – the man called Christian, now left beneath
his unmarked tombstone. A coward at best, he carved his memory into his
children, and his reputation branded them for life.
I have changed the
names in this story. I ask God, in the name of Jesus, to save this family. God
bless the innocent, abused wife who slaves her life away and waits for Christ’s
return. She prays for the forgiveness of the hatred boiling inside her for a
man she thought she knew named Christian.
Allow me to ask
you Christian women and men, does this resonate in your heart? Or does it
familiar? Please use these verses to enlighten your soul and know you are not
“Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” Colossians 3:19
“A man shall eat well by the fruit of his mouth, but the soul of the unfaithful feeds on violence” Proverbs 13:2
“Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways.” Proverbs 3:31
“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19
“When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught” Proverbs 3:24-26
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” Isaiah 61:1
highlight of my Easter season, when I was a child, was watching the nail-biting
TV movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” I remember my tears flowing as Dorothy handed
Toto over to Miss Gulch on the bike. But today, I look at this Academy Award
Nominated motion picture in a different light. From a Christian writer’s
perspective, the underlying message and morals in this movie are phenomenal!
Let me take you for a walk down my yellow brick road…
Dorothy was a character on a soul-searching mission. She was an orphan, adopted by her aunt and uncle in Kansas, yet she appeared to have a deep-rooted longing to find a true home. Insecurities plagued her because she didn’t fit in with the older relatives, and a mean Miss Gulch wanted to take her only friend, Toto, away from her. Auntie Em became frustrated with Dorothy’s antics and yelled, “Find yourself a place where you won’t get into any trouble.” Dorothy picked up Toto and said, “Is there such a place Toto? Not a place you can get to by boat or train.”
most of us looking to fill an empty spot inside our soul – a place where there
isn’t any sadness? Always seeking, we get mixed up in wrong relationships,
addictions, and false idols. When we finally accept Jesus Christ into our
hearts, we soon realize we have everything we need daily; and it’s not a place
you can get to by boat or train.
Dorothy, like so many people, run from their problems. A tornado swept her from
safety, and she entered another world. Her only path home was down the yellow
brick road. The Good Witch of the North, Glinda, warned her to never venture
off its path for darkness loomed in every corner. What a great metaphor! We must
walk through life on God’s golden road only for Satan will quickly invade if
our guard is down. Temptations of sin can fog a mind when difficulties become
overwhelming; prayers are the answer to tackle the troubles. Seek God first
before using your own solution.
theme of the movie centers on Dorothy’s quest to go to the Emerald City; she
sought the Wizard of Oz’s help to take her back to Kansas. Along the way, the
Wicked Witch of the West and her minions attack her and her friends. This is so
like Satan trying to intervene in our life! By the end of the film, Dorothy
discovered the Wizard was a phony, a false idol if you will. She is devastated
until Glinda (her guardian angel, perhaps?) magically came to her rescue. “Dorothy,” she said, “You’ve always had the power to go back to
Kansas.” What lesson did she learn from the whole experience? A heart’s
desire isn’t any further than your own backyard (or in my case, a bible). The
love and acceptance she wanted were always at her doorstep.
moral of Dorothy’s story is God’s power makes our life fantastic for He is
greater than any physical object or place we seek on our own. As we come to
know Jesus Christ, we understand He promises to guide us because the love for
His children is eternal. When we resist the enemy, we draw closer to Him, and He
becomes our home. The solution to our problems is right under our nose.
SCARECROW AND A BRAIN
first friend Dorothy met on the yellow brick road was the happy-go-lucky
scarecrow who wanted the Wizard to give him a brain. It’s quite funny, often throughout
the movie, he acted as though he had a brain and common sense. How frequently
do we take action as if we don’t have sense? We beat ourselves up for the
mistakes we make along the way and we lose forgiveness in the shuffle of
stupidity. God forgives us our sins so why hold on to regrets? Did you ask God
to clear your heart and mind of all the clutter which pulls your progress down?
Did you diligently pray for forgiveness?
the end of the show, it’s quite ironic the Wizard actually did not fulfill the
scarecrow’s wishes. He only gave him a diploma of higher thinking. This character
simply lacked self-confidence. The Scarecrow sought a higher power to confirm
he could be smart. Little did he know, confidence comes from a relationship
with Christ. Yes, we must be secure in God’s Word and not in our flesh. He
gives us hope in times of adversity.
THE TIN MAN AND A HEART
second character who befriended Dorothy was the rusted Tin Man. He wanted the Wizard
to give him a heart, hence emotions. The Wizard of Oz told him “a heart will never be practical until it is
made unbreakable.” The Tin Man
quickly learned what a broken heart was when he said goodbye to Dorothy.
hearts is a common thread among humanity. We have to trust God has a better plan
for our life, thus healing us from the inside out. He replaces the feelings of
rejection and abandonment with a sense of renewal. All we have to do is pick up
the Bible and allow His words to soothe our soul. Once we connect with Jesus,
everything changes and nothing or no one has the same power over us again. God
forms a shield to protect our innocence.
THE COWARDLY LION AND COURAGE
to Emerald City, the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Dorothy trotted arm-in-arm.
Suddenly a large curly-haired lion jumped out from behind a tree and tried to
scare the trio. The ferocious lion growled and snapped at them until Dorothy
slapped him. “You should be ashamed
of yourself!” The lion quickly retreated behind his own tail and cried.
Throughout the movie, his fear reared its ugly head. Could the great Wizard
give him courage?
experience scary situations in life – perhaps bullying, roadblocks, and other
fear factors. Hard times are unavoidable, but we can count on God to pick us up,
dust us off, and help us through these failures. An important message from this
is Satan instigates fear. My favorite saying is, “Where there is fear, there is
no faith.” Let us rely on God for strength to conquer our personal battles for
He is always in control and will not abandon us. Be of good courage for the
Lord is with us every step of the way!
OUR CHRISTIAN WALK
The Wizard of Oz, though not written with religion in mind, can teach us about our Christian walk with God. We should examine our relationship with the Lord and strive, every day, to be more like Him. Draw on the intelligence of our brain; maintain a heart open and sincere and pray for the courage to stand up for our belief. If we stray along the way to the Emerald City, known as heaven, our Lord Jesus Christ will be there to lift us up. Just as Dorothy had to “learn it for herself,” our journey helps us grow to be the best Christians we can be for eternal salvation. Everything we need is in the power of God, not the ruby slippers.
The next time you watch this excellent motion picture, look for the hidden Christian parables – you will be amazed at how many you’ll witness!
It is so gratifying to step over the threshold of a brand
new residence. Odors from a completed punch list still linger, and in the misty
sunset, the door opens to a different life. The placement of furniture and
filled boxes may not be correct, but at least they found their way into the
right room. It’s time to thank God for the blessings He so graciously bestowed.
As my wife and I entered the first night in our humble
abode, nothing seemed comfortable. My worst fear was not finding the Coffee Maker
for the next morning. But, at bedtime we embraced, sharing prayers, for it was
God who made all this possible. We gave Him all the glory.
The days turned into weeks, and now a month later the
newness is slowly fading away. Comforts of the dreams we prayed for are a delightful
reality. God blessed our initiatives to find a location He planned for us a
long time ago. We waited for His perfect timing and word to move forward.
Tonight, in the candlelight, when all is quiet, our heads
shared the same pillow on our sectional. We agreed God anointed this house our
home. My honey-do list keeps mounting, but its prayer and perseverance which gives
me the determination. And so, I ponder… when
does a house become a home?
This is a very loaded question, but let me say, good
memories should reside in the four walls where you live; a nest which washes
away the outside world. It provides for your basic needs and safety, also known
as a house. But more significant than
this, it should be a foundation based on God’s spirit – a place where He
blesses your every intention. Now it becomes a home built on truth, understanding, and wisdom.
So do you live in a house
or a home? Are your walls professionally
decorated with a lack of the Holy Spirit, or can you feel God’s presence and abounding
love when you walk in the front door?
Tranquility is the light brought to you from our heavenly Father when you allow Him to reside in your home. Glorify His honor and let your house become a home.
Be sure to join us each Sunday on our YouTube Channel, Blogging 2 Believers!
Ah… the ambiance of a warm, crackling fireplace at Christmas! Stockings are hung by the chimney with care, hoping St. Nicholas will soon be there. But, if you live in a Scandinavian or a European country, do not hang those stockings too low for they will go up in flames! You see, one of the oldest traditions of Christmas is the burning of a Yule log, and it’s not just any old piece of wood.
Enjoy “The Christmas Song” by Mary J. Blige!
In the 12th century, Norway kicked off the pagan custom of burning a Yule log on the day of Solstice. Norsemen believed the giant ball of fire, known as the sun, rolled away from the earth. Technically though, it was only the shortest and darkest day of the year, but their superstitions ran rampant. So they cut down an entire tree and dragged it into their homes. Yes, the whole tree! Families shoved the largest end of the tree into the fire while the other end of the tree laid in the middle of the room. As the Christmas season progressed, they continued to push it slowly into the flames while singing, dancing, and feasting on holiday goodies. It was a celebration of the sun’s rebirth, so it was important those flames never ceased before the twelfth day of Christmas; it was bad luck.
Through the centuries, this tradition of prosperity spread as far west as Ireland, as far south as Greece, and as far north as Siberia. Each country individualized the Yule log custom. In France, folks stored any remaining pieces of the cherry tree log at the end of the twelve days, inside their home to protect against lightning strikes. The UK appears to be cleaner about their holiday mess. They dry out an oak tree and strip the bark off before it comes inside to burn. Some Europeans scatter the ashes of the flames inside their home to ward off evil spirits, and others spread them around their plants to encourage blooming. In Holland, the Yule log is stored under a bed in the home as a safety against bad luck.
Yule Winter Solstice Celebration
Moving away to a modern civilization known as North America, is there a doubt we commercialized the Yule log? Walk into Hobby Lobby or any craft store, and you will spend a lot of money on Yule log centerpieces or the supplies to make one. But like the French, I think it’s much yummier to whip up a rich, chocolate Yule log, Bûche de Noël, dripping in chocolate icing and filled with cream. I would much rather sit in front of the fireplace, celebrating the ambiance of the season, eating this sponge cake. How about you?
Let us remember, as Christians, the yule we celebrate today is the reality that God became man in order to bring the man to God. Happy Holidays!
Please join us again on Sunday for another “Everything Christmas Blog”!
It’s still not too late to purchase this perfect gift!
Far away in a foreign land Amid settlements all so grand With planning imaging perfection, My eyes perceive only hard complexion!
Oh! I remember my land My town and my home Where peace resides With no sham foam! Those multiple narrow lanes Where streams flow during the rains Converge into the byway Where commuters move in an array.
Conquering miles and distances Traveling on varied carriages, I ramble across sceneries With well-shaped greeneries And domestication perfectly tamed; I wonder why they are famed?
Oh! I remember my land My town and my home Where Nature resides With no sham foam! Those uncivilized parks Where nature sparks, Plantations finding their own way Growing and blooming astray, Producing flowers and fruits Coloring the land in different suits!
Mountaineering the frozen heights To experience the greatness delights, I am attacked by aloofness Stark coldness wrapped in bleak darkness, The Uniqueness loses its joy While the victories turn a decoy.
Oh! I remember my land My town and my home Where warmth resides With no sham foam! Welcoming sunrise and mesmerizing sunsets With rays sieving through rosettes, Greet the visitors with a vivacious expression Igniting the course of amelioration!
Strange acquaintances Diplomatic faces Calls for benefit Majorly counterfeit
Oh! I remember my land My town and my home Where culture resides With no sham foam! Guests are treated akin Gods, With no visitor suffering any odds Welcomed with an open heart Even etiquettes seem an art.
Professionalism on the cover Tactfulness forms the inner, Smiles reflecting fake demeanor Wearing the attire of redeemer.
Oh! I remember my land My town and my home Where humanity resides With no sham foam! Words have meanings People have feelings Commitments mean the world When vows go unfurled.
Oh! I remember my land My town and my home Where humility resides With no sham foam! Unadorned establishments With Love embellishments, Meals on the same platter Sentiments never scatter!
Indifferent masses moving in a tizzy, Claiming to be very busy Slip emotions with time The Concern is core sublime!
Oh! I remember my land My town and my home Where hospitality resides With no sham foam! Mom fulfills all deficits Dad fetches all favorites Siblings wait at the door, Happiness at my shore!
Roasted, baked and sauteed Food cooked in hygiene masquerade, Best of equipment and cook Yet commotion in the brook!
Oh! I remember my land My town and my home Where purity resides With no sham foam! All dishes piously made Holding tastes that maladies fade, Everyone bids for benign gossips With crispy fried turnips.
This is how my land has been With blossoms freshly green Where love still grows And compassion still flows, Where humans value each other And empathize no less than a brother, Where relationships are still cherished And absence is still missed, Where mother holds the position Higher than any possession
Oh! Yes I remember my town I belong to the land of principles, Where integrity thrives in multiples Where simplicity is observed And honesty is practiced, Where bonds are altruistically planted And tied threads are never taken for granted!
I returned from another morning of pedaling mail. The chill in the air reminded me of fall’s arrival. A simmering glare ignited the ominous sky. The rains of yesterday disappeared and a patchy dew laid low to the ground. I think God reveals the loveliness of this season to help us remember life is a beautiful journey.
They predict a perfect weekend, but for now, it’s tranquil. Suddenly, I smelled something cooking. With my wife’s back to me, she was intently preparing a hot meal for her wayward stranger. It was a pile of pancakes waiting to be devoured for breakfast; the eggs and sausage shared a skillet. Breakfast was almost finished, so I hung up my jacket on the hall tree. It’s a pancake kind-a morning!
I fixed a cup of caffeine hoping to stay awake and share my morning with her. God’s got everything under control. Our home became the International House of Prayer; for even though a mess scattered about the kitchen, the fluffiness of God’s love shined ever-present.
Lighting a candle, we thanked God for my morning’s safe journey. It’s a wonderful time to be alive! We’re living the dream, her and I, together once and for all. Against all the odds, we sat at our farmhouse table with God at the head, sharing our morning meal. This is the secret to a happy marriage – He is always between you. He is the butter and flour which raises a perfect round of deliciousness. Just add the syrup and life becomes even sweeter!
Invite the Lord to your next breakfast and listen to His blessings sizzle. You will be amazed at the beauty of your pancakes!
Enjoy this beautiful song, “Memories”, sung by Elvis Presley!
Another year of memories will be soon be added into my 67-year-old book of life. I sit in the dark shadows of the garage, now packed up to move south after thirty years in the Midwest. God calms and soothes my exhausted spirit. The chill of the dreary rain penetrates my coffee, and it turns cold. I patiently wait on life as God makes good on all His promises.
In the darkness of the rubbish and boxes, two objects which I’ve personally touched, leave me wondering of their memories as well. An old red rocker gave up the ghost – it came from a yard sale. I have no concept of the famous children of God who wept for hours sitting on it. But, with a little love, its rejuvenated life will totter a little longer. I wonder where its life began and wished I could reminisce the stories it would tell.
And a second memory was created with a little carpentry work – something I built for my beautiful wife and me to enjoy in our new home. I never thought of how old and new memories join in matrimony until this morning; an old rocking chair, tossed to the curb, and the other, an entertainment stand I gave birth to using lumber. The stand is brand new with a story to tell – a memory of how my wife and I put it together in our first year of marriage. It will be with us for the rest of our days. Someday, it will be passed down to the grandchildren who will remember Pop-Pop built this by hand in his garage.
For now, though, they quietly stand alone, waiting for their remembrances to unfold of decorating them for many holiday seasons to come. The bright red rocker, wise and strong, sits beside its impressive partner. An entertainment center quietly stands, but the rocker is not in a hurry to go anywhere. It looks up to the new grains of lumber. The stand feels the only comfort from the chair accompanying it in the garage.
Cherished memories, a gift given by none other than God, carries us throughout the years. The new ones, like this cabinet, will be held so dear to us too. With the hands that hold you, my love, I molded something special for you to love as well!
We eat our lunch amongst the sawdust and scraps, with sticky, varnished-stained fingers and share thoughts of new beginnings and new memories. God will be in our every thought, in the coming years, in our new home. May we never lose sight, He only, shapes our future. So, let us thank Him for the gift of remembrance.